BBQ marinade leads to passive accusation of racism by racist?

Weird experience in the supermarket yesterday.

I bought some groceries yesterday, including hickory smoke flavoured BBQ marinade, which is part of the Ainsley Harriet branded range.

Ainsley Harriot is a British TV chef with an irrepressibly bubbly and condescending demeanour. He annoys the piss out of all right-thinking people whenever he’s on.

As my shopping was being scanned, the guy behind the checkout, who looked like an ex con on day release, held up the bottle and asked “what’s that then?” about my marinade.

I replied “it’s really good if you spray it on burgers before you cook them - gives them a really nice taste.” I then went on, light-heartedly: “The only drawback is that you have to look at Ainsley’s irritating mug when you’re using it.”

The ex con looked at me sternly: “Nah, mate. They’re all right, that lot.”

Internally I went :confused: and left the supermarket with my shopping. “That lot?” Who did he mean? TV chefs? Chefs in general? TV presenters?

And suddenly it dawned on me: Ainsley, see, is black.

And my friendly checkout man was defending him against my “racism”.

But in my perception, by defending his perception of my target for racism, he revealed his racism.

Or did he? Because even though he called black people “that lot”, he was in fact defending black people. But in a racist way.

Who’s the racist here?!

No, no, you’ve got it mixed up. He was defending celebrity chefs.

Never has a group been discriminated against for such good reason.

Or perhaps he was defending overtly camp heterosexuals. They really get a lot of stick.

Or maybe it was celebrities that endorse marinades. You know, in memory of Paul Newman.
I’ll go away now.

Ainsley Harriott is seriously annoying and you did nothing wrong.

“That lot” was an obvious reference to Brits.

So his comments can safely be ignored.

Everyone knows Brits are as as crazy as a sack full of drunken ferrets.

Given that the OP’s country produced Gordon Ramsey, I’m inclined to think this may be correct. :stuck_out_tongue:

More seriously, it sounds like the clerk’s intentions were good.

Ah, but he was a Brit too. So am I.

If he interpreted your remark as being that you didn’t want to have to look at a black person’s face, then in his mind you would have been the one who lumped all black people together. So his remark was not racist as he was responding to what you said - he was defending black people as a group because they had been insulted as a group.

That said, keep in mind that you’re guessing as to what his intent was just as he was guessing at yours. You may have misjudged him just as he appears to have misjudged you.

It is a difficult one, and I do think the guy’s intentions were good.

However, saying “that lot are all right” does at least have a subliminal negative message.

A bit like “some of my best friends are black”.

Or calling your debating opponent “that one”, just to take another random example.

Or “you people”.

I have a white friend who is married to a black man. Yet her sister-in-law accused her of being racist one day in an argument about white eggs vs. brown eggs.

I expected his ‘real’ self to prove to be just as bad, on Who Do You Think You Are, but he turned out to be surprisingly bearable and even likeable.

My answer to jjimm’s conundrum is that you’ve got nothing to prove or disprove: the ignorant racist, such as in this encounter, assumes that the average man in the street shares his views.

My could-not-be-more-white Irish mother found it both confusing and hilarious to be verbally assaulted as a ‘fucking black nigger’ in New Haven recently.

I think it has a fairly overt racist message - that all people can be catagorised in such ways, and divided as groups into ‘all right’ and (by implication) ‘not all right’.

Yeah, “that lot” being “all right” is surely stereotyping too. I have met many assholes who are black - and indeed knob-ends of all racial classifications. Glad to hear the utterly annoying Ainsley is just a persona though.

I’m pretty sure he thought YOU were the racist.

…being the point of the OP, yes.

I think it’s stereotyping, but I don’t think he was racist. I think maybe you caught him off guard a little. Like, if I thought someone made a racist remark and I didn’t want to be a jerk about it, but I wanted to make it very clear that I am absolutely not a racist, I might be kind of scrambling for something nice to say like, “Oh, no…I like black people…” I guess I’d find it different if it was unprompted. Like someone noticing a black person in a store and saying, “Ah, you people are all right/you’re a credit to your race.”

Hell, my wife is half black and half Oriental, and I’ve been called a racist on this board. You just can’t please some people. In fact, someone probably just took offense to my use of the term “Oriental” to describe a person, but it’s a better word than Asian, because anyone from Arabia to India to Japan is Asian, whereas when I say “Oriental”, the meaning is clear.

In my mind, nobody has a right to call me a racist except my wife - and that hardly ever happens :p.

The important thing is, do you leave the bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup out on the table while eating, or do you put it away so you don’t have to look at it?



I believe the ex-con misunderstood you … he thought you were going to use the barbecue sauce ON Ainsley Harriet as you cooked him. In the ex-con’s mind, you were complaining that you’d have to look at Ainsley’s face during the cooking process, which would prevent you from enjoying your meal of black person.

He, being a black-person connoisseur, was trying to let you know that no matter how ugly you found the main course, it would still taste just fine.

He doesn’t sound like the most articulate guy in the world, so maybe we should judge him on his actions rather than his words. He mistakenly perceived that you were being a bit of a racist (sounds like a Father Ted episode) and, rather than joining in, upbraided you for it, albeit in a rather clumsy fashion. But 25 years ago he would have probably added a racial slur of his own, so it’s got to be progress.