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.