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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bookstore Stops Playing Parliament Because White Woman Complains About "Racist" Music

Posted by on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Natalie Hopkinson, the author of a book about go-go music and Washington DC, was about to do a reading at DC independent bookstore Politics & Prose. She even made a mix CD for the store to play before and during her reading. That's where the trouble began. On her blog, she writes:

A few minutes before my reading, store employee Marshall popped in my CD. Not 30 seconds into my go-go playlist, a white woman went to the cashier to complain. The song in question wasn’t even a go-go song. It was Parliament’s 1970s funk classic “Chocolate City”—a song that took on a moniker that was being used by Washingtonians celebrating the city’s first elected mayor, a black man named Walter Washington:

What’s happening, C.C. They still call in the White House, but that’s a temporary condition…

The blonde woman marched straight to the cashier, who referred her to the owner of Politics & Prose. She said the music was “racist” and demanded they stop playing it.

I am so very sad to report that the store actually complied.

That's incredibly disappointing to hear. When I worked at Borders many years ago, a manager allowed an old white woman to return a gospel CD she had bought there because she was disgusted to find that black people were singing on the CD. I'm as disappointed in Politics & Prose now as I was disappointed in Borders then. When a white customer starts to complain about the racial persecution they're suffering, I think it's okay for bookstores to say that they don't want that customer's business anyway. Politics & Prose, on their blog, say that they regret stopping the song. They say the playlist was allowed to play after the reading, and that they are against censorship. Although apparently, they don't care enough about "allow[ing] one person’s point of view to silence a group discussion" to argue the point to a customer's face.


Comments (16) RSS

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Politics & Prose is a fantastic bookstore—and Paul, next time you're in D.C. it's a must for your itinerary. I'm guessing this was a one-off moment of fluster and panic. As long as it only happens this once, it's just a learning experience for the store. Personally, I doubt it will every happen again.
Posted by PEM on July 31, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Don't get me wrong, that woman at Borders sounds like a terrible person, but she should still be allowed to return a CD. There's a huge difference between returning something for a shitty reason and disrupting what everyone in the store was listening to. What was Borders supposed to do, Paul?
Posted by WorkWorkWork on July 31, 2012 at 2:10 PM · Report this
(Sadly, that area of D.C. also features staggering levels of entitlement and a willingness to be in your face about it. One example:… )
Posted by PEM on July 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM · Report this
You know why the bookstore adhered to this moron? Because she would've gone on the internet and posted to every conceivable social media that Politics & Prose were all evil racists. And the Interwebs Outrage Vigilante Brigade, of which SLOG and the Stranger are often charter members, would have gone ape shit in usual kneejerk fashion.
Posted by tkc on July 31, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 5
If "I think it's racist" was the criteria for yanking music off the air, then there would be no country music left. Not such a bad idea, now that I think about it. Not worth losing the P-Funk, however.
Posted by Sir Vic on July 31, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
What's a good go-go song/artist to get started with?
Posted by Daily in LA on July 31, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
The late Chuck Brown looms large over everything. "Bustin' Loose" was his. After that, Rare Essence and Experience Unlimited (remember "Da Butt"?) Mambo Sauce more recently.

Actually, just go to the blog post Paul mentions above—Hopkinson's playlist is great!
Posted by PEM on July 31, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Obviously the work of Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.
Posted by erg;ih on July 31, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
Borders was right to take back that CD - it's not your place to judge why a customer doesn't like it. But this store in DC has no backbone.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 31, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
yos-wa 10
Actually, Borders had no reason to take back that CD. Especially if it was opened. You don't have to take back shit after that and I would have denied her.
Posted by yos-wa on July 31, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
pg13 11
#7 FTW (Chuck Brown--hyyyyyhhhhuuuuh!)

I'd also add Trouble Funk to your list.

#10 As a former record store employee myself, we were stuck enforcing that policy--if opened, it can't be returned for any reason--thanks to the major labels simply refusing returns.

If she didn't like it, she could sell it back used. Might have been worth about $5 back in the day...what's a used cd worth today? (Don't answer that--rhetorical depression would ensue.)
Posted by pg13 on July 31, 2012 at 4:27 PM · Report this
I'm going to track down "Chocoloate City". Got to hear what was so racist about it (rolls eyes).

And that racist old White woman! So as a Christian, she doesn't want to hear Black folks singing? Wonder what kind of heaven she's going to.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on July 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM · Report this
@5, what country songs could be considered racist or have anything to do with race at all? I'm sure there must be some, but I've never heard any, and I listen to a fair amount of country music.
Posted by LJM on July 31, 2012 at 5:46 PM · Report this
Larry Mizell, Jr. 14
Posted by Larry Mizell, Jr. on July 31, 2012 at 7:52 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 15
@6 released a few months ago this is a solid compilation and will be on my ' best of 2012'…
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on August 1, 2012 at 7:04 AM · Report this
sirkowski 16
Social Justice Sally strikes again.
Posted by sirkowski on August 1, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this

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