Apparently, My Whistling Is Racist

(Note: I had originally intended this for the Pit, but after reading it, I find I’m more amused than pissed)

I used to whistle a lot. An annoyingly large amount, to be honest, hence the “used to”. I had to make a conscious effort to stop doing it. Most of the time I wouldn’t even realize I was doing it – I’d be walking through the halls here at work and suddenly realize I was in the middle of the second verse of a song. Kinda loudly in the middle of it, too. But, except for the occasional tune that gets incessantly jammed up in my brain, I managed to knock it off.

Today was one of “those” days.

You see, a few months ago, I was in the car and my wife was driving. Since, of course, the driver picks the radio station, it was on New York’s HOT-97 (“Blazin’ hip-hop and R&B!”). I heard a song that day that earwormed its way into my brain and has been lodged there ever since. I’ve just now come to learn that it’s called “Lean Back” by Terror Squad.

Now, I didn’t come away from that listen with the whole song stuck in my head, just the chorus. And since I hadn’t really been paying attention to the lyrics, here’s what I walked away with:

Da da dada da da dada dada da da
And do the rockaway, now lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back

Over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. ::shotgun in mouth emoticon ::

<Cut to today>:
I’m walking through our cube farm, and I don’t realize it, but I’m whistling again…
Tweet-a tweeta tweet tweet, tweettweet tweet-a tweet tweet
T-tweet tweet-a tweet tweet …t-tweet-a…tweet-a…tweet-a…tweet-a

I do this while walking the length of our office, and for about half the time I’m over at the copier. It then hits me…“Oh oh…whistling loudly again…knock it off, that’s annoying”.

I’m walking back from the copier, when DeeDee (Remember DeeDee? This is the same manager-lady who came up with the brilliant “Well, since when does ‘non-refundable’ mean I can’t get my money back??”) motions me over to her desk. She looks positively panicked.

"You can’t be whistling that!
“Yeah, sorry…I know whistling in the office is annoying. I really wasn’t even aware I was doing it.”
It’s not the whistling, it’s what you were whistling. You can’t be whistling things like that! We have African-Americans working here, you know. I’ve just received a complaint!

I’d have loved to have responded with “Someone complained that we have African-Americans working here? That’s terrible!”, but I thought better of it. Besides, I still had no idea why the conversation had veered into some sort of race-relations twilight zone.

“A complaint? About what?”
“The song you were just whistling. You were whistling the word…<glances around>…‘niggers’. That’s unacceptable.”

Having no idea what the hell she was talking about, and worried that the words “sensitivity training” might find their way into the conversation, I backed myself out of there, promising I would never whistle racial epithets again.

I went back to my desk and decided to get to the bottom of this. Googling +rockaway +“lean back”, I got my answer:

Said my niggaz don’t dance we just pull up our pants
And do the rockaway, now lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back

Well I’ll be damned…

I don’t know what boggles my mind more in all of this…that I was whistling this well enough that someone was able to recognize the tune, or that that someone who knew the song well enough to recognize it was able to muster up the offense to complain about it.

<tweet, tweet>, please!

Tell her you were whistling a version where you’d changed the lyrics. :wink:

I would have said I was whistling the radio edit of the song, where he said “homies” instead.

That’s mind-boggling. When I saw the thread title, I thought maybe you had been whistling Dixie. We’ve done a lot of rounds of “black people can say nigger, but white people can’t,” but whistling niggas? Preposterous.

Explain to DeeDee that, although you whistled it, the person who dropped the dime on you actually thought it. Probably thought it several times, as a matter of fact. Then denounce that person, and accuse them of a thoughtcrime.

The OP caused me to laugh out loud, and for the record, I am one of those “African-American” people. I can’t imagine anything funnier then someone actually taking offense to whistling along to those lyrics.

Perhaps you can suggest that you were simply performing your own form of censorship by whistling instead of singing the lyrics, and therefore, you were being responsible enough to clean up the song – you know, for the white folk.

Are there really people that sensitive on this planet?

“Nigga?” no, I was whistling “perfunctory.” Maybe they got confused by the silent “k.”

LOL! Comedy Gold. I wonder who made the complaint?

Can you ask DeeDee if it will be acceptable for me to sing “Ain’t No Holla Back Girl” to myself. Not even out loud. What if I tap my foot against the side of my desk in a close approximation of what I remember the rythm to be?

For the record, the artist is Gwen Stefani who appears to be lilly white, I heard the song on “106.7 The Casa - Where Latinos Rock!” (or something like that), and I’m a 34 year old white male with a wife, two kids, two dogs and a mortgage.

Also, please inquire as to just what I’m asserting by stating that I’m, in fact, not a holla back girl?

Tomorrow morning go in whistling “Strange Fruit.”

In all seriousness, I would ask whether anything is going to be placed in your personnel record about this and if so demand that your response be attached. In your response, not as diplomatically as possible that the idea that someone would complain about a racist whistle is close to the stupidest damn thing possible. it’s also the sort of thing that can come back and fuck you down the line. “Promote Hal? I don’t know, he has a history of racially-related complaints in his file.”

:stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

High-fives **Daithi **

That was great!

My husband was overheard, singing a Rap song, at work once. His young black co-workers, were atfirst shocked that he even knew a Rap song. Then decided it was incredibly cool.

OTOH, I did not find it incredibly cool, when he continued to sing it at home for several days afterward.

I guess I had better stop whistling the country song I wrote: She Put the Cunt in Country.

Well, it seems the issue has been cleared up.

Our department has a grand total of one non-white – a very sweet, fun lady named Nancy. It seems that while coming in to work today, some inbred affront to Darwinism cut her off and yelled at her to “learn how to drive, ya fuckin’ nigger!”.

She was understandably upset, and was feeling, as she put it, “very Afro-sensitive”.

Now that some time has pased, she admits she completely overreacted to the whistling incident. She also made sure DeeDee didn’t take it any further.

So, everything is cool now, and she laughed out loud when I walked away, whistling Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos.

lol give 'em hell, Hal!


Yeah, there are.

Well, whistling Colonel Bogey (q.v. Bridge on the River Kwai) when there are Japanese around is frowned upon in these parts.

I suggest that you say you were whistling the Winnie the Pooh version of the song, “Said my Tiggaz don’t dance…”

Not so much a band name, as a great name for a post-modern afro-centric performance art group of some sort.