Remember that old Saturday Night Live skit in which Eddie Murphy goes about in white face, and gets free coffee & newspapers? ("Slowly I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free!") It's absolute genius - when the one black man on a bus gets off, the white folks play a little Lawrence Welk, sing and clap their hands, and start sipping champagne. He goes to a bank for a loan - with no collateral, no credit. The black bank manager is about to turn him down when a white colleague takes over - "Silly Negro!" he says of his colleague, handing the money over to Murphy. Sad thing is this sort of thing isn't so far from the truth (witness: CEO's raking in millions of dollars off of their own bad loans).
The French national team player and Arsenal captain William Gallas just got a nasty taste of it. Not the overt racism of people in the stands unfurling their biggotry in hateful fan chants, but the subtle, insidious, covert racism of everyday interaction in which one's presence is greeted with the cold breeze suspicion.
The story: Gallas set out with his driver to buy eight bottles of Dom Perignon for a dinner party with his family and friends. He went to a store in the 16th arrondissement (the richest part of Paris) that specializes in champagne. When he asked for eight bottles of Dom, the store clerk looked at him askance and said he could only buy two - that it was against store policy to sell so many bottles to one client (!). He bought two of Dom, and two of another brand - and then sent in his white chauffeur to see if he could buy four bottles of Dom Perignon. Pas de problème.
When Gallas went back into the store to confront the clerk about his racist behavior, the clerk said "But you should have told me you were William Gallas!"
I am eager to see where this goes. I can't imagine a person more up to the challenge of defending of one's right to be treated with dignity and respect. Allez Les Bleus!