Singer and former American Idol contestant Bo Bice has spent most of the New Year feuding with the owners of a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen location in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where he claims a black employee made racist comments about him after serving him his food.
"The three ladies behind the counter asked whose food it was," Bice, who is white, told local FOX affiliate WAGA in a tearful interview on Tuesday. "Just when I turned around, one of them said 'that white boy.'"
News of the ordeal first surfaced on Monday, when Bice wrote a lengthy Facebook post alleging racial discrimination at the hands of the Popeyes staff. He claimed that Shawana, the employee, made the comments after serving Bice his order and appearing to mock his name by calling him "Bo-Bo."
"America, you should be ashamed," Bice told WAGA. "It's time for us to wake up and start having some dialogue. It's not 1960, it's 2017 and we are all adults here."
Perhaps such a dialogue should start by questioning why Bice believes being called "white" constitutes racial persecution in the first place. Per his own account, Bice was neither disadvantaged, discriminated against, persecuted nor withheld service at Popeyes. At worst, being called "white boy" was a minor and arguably politically incorrect personal slight; at best, it was an accurate physical description of who and what he is.
Racism requires power to have material impact. This is why anti-black prejudice has manifested in slavery and Jim Crow, while anti-white prejudice, where it exists, has done little to prevent white people from thriving at every level of American society. Being called a "white boy" — which is not a slur, we should note — has no affect on Bice being able to eat a meal at Popeyes. Being called a "nigger" as a black person, conversely, calls to mind the long and continuing history of prejudice against black Americans.
Bice first threatened legal action against the Popeyes location's owners, Mack II Inc., but appeared to change his mind after the company apologized and suspended the employee. He later wrote that he received "hateful" feedback from commenters ridiculing him on social media.
"[If] the tables had been turned and I used something as insensitive like that... I would be boycotted, people wouldn't buy my albums, there'd be people coming and picketing at my shows," the singer told WAGA.
Comparing the experience of a famous entertainer to a Popeyes employee is incongruous no matter how you cut it. But Bice's suggestion is especially strange because of how minor Shawana's alleged indiscretion was. It's hard to imagine, in most contexts, Bice describing someone as a "black girl" and creating much of an uproar.
Even stranger, Bice went on to warn his Facebook fans about the dangers of "political correctness."
"Stand up to this behavior," he wrote Wednesday, "Today it's me, tomorrow it could be you or your loved ones who are starting down the barrel of the PC Police gun."
Ironically, it was Bice who started the uproar about being labeled using what he thought was a politically incorrect term.