OP/ED: Few news stories are packed with as much going on as the latest incident in Carmine’s. It’s kind of like a medley of greatest hits of the issues du jour: Like a Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” or deciphering Mariah Carey’s heritage. Or for the foodies out there, a 150 item mega buffet with everything from hibachi grill to spaghetti to tacos. In the news world, it checks every box. Race war? Check. Vaccine mandates? Check. Texas vs. New York? Check. BLM and Stop Asian hate? Check. Restaurants subject to government mandates? Check
As usual, right on cue, every interest group is now trying to make their spin out of it, from the parties affected to everyone in the periphery. The black customers that are now defendants are crying foul because according to them it was racially motivated. The restaurant had to backtrack their vaccine regulation story, saying they did let the initial 3 women in, but not their 2 friends later on because they lacked vaccination proof. Now, Black Lives Matter has boldly come out with a statement against mandatory vaccines – are they backing Nicki Minaj? Unique times we live in. Here are some of my observations from the Carmine’s incident, starting with taking my own race to task.
Asians can be overzealous about their jobs, with no understanding of the big picture. The 24 year old hostess who is now fired and had the added responsibility of being a COVID czar at the restaurant, was probably given specific instructions and was executing as instructed. I guess Asians make good worker bees? She was probably overwhelmed and cranky. We don’t know that she said the ‘n’ word, but she was clearly taking her job to check the vaccination cards way too seriously. And I’m going to call this out: many younger Asian Americans have no clue about the big picture. They are busy focusing on minute details that they don’t realize the real world is a lot messier and not so easily put in organized boxes and being kind and flexible, especially in customer service, goes a long way especially if you’re representing a business. Only if you grow up in a sheltered affluenza lifestyle, can you sweat these small details with such fervor. She was probably copping an attitude because the black patrons from Texas were annoyed at the circumstance of being checked, something they are not used to back home. That negativity then compounded on itself. On the same token, I also cannot believe she “lunged’ at 3 black women unprovoked, as is being claimed by the defense. Young Asian girls given a little power can be extremely catty, but physically violent? I don’t think so.
Blacks tend to get swept away with emotion and escalate a situation, but walking away is a viable, and sometimes a better, option. Trust me, I was prone to this in my younger years too, so I get the emotion of rage and the desire to fight back to save face, especially if I feel disrespected. But the black patrons could have just left the restaurant and taken their valuable dollars elsewhere. Apparently, they heard the hostess say, “Yeah, you guys can leave my restaurant,” and considered this “very aggressive”. The reality is the statement itself is not aggressive and is basically a statement of fact. Sure, it was probably said in a harsh tone, but the bottom line is the statement itself is not aggressive. And in the end, the restaurant would be the ultimate loser, if they left and channeled their frustration into a scathing social media review. Instead, the black patrons went nuclear and took it to a stratospheric level, and then got backup from their friends, then BLM. Ultimately, it became a public safety issue. Was it really worth it? Trust me I understand this emotion when someone asks for vaccine papers. In a society that claims they are for immigrants, this is akin to asking for citizenship papers. Aren’t we rejecting this as a society? Wasn’t the last president not re-elected because of this, the left says? I’m not saying the black patrons’ actions were justified but I get the emotion behind a snooty hostess ruining the joy of the day, especially when you’re on vacation and to add to it, the overall frustration with this invasion of privacy.
Of all the things that are about race out there, this is surprisingly not about race. By throwing out the race card like supermarket coupons, BLM has once again distracted from the real issue. No, Carmine’s isn’t racist. They’re probably too busy to be racist. I encourage people to operate with a little more stoicism and an attempt to understand another’s point of view, and to simultaneously hold back the desire to make everything some grand, sweeping existential statement about racism. Many people aren’t even thinking on those terms. I believe the restaurant when they say that the hostess and other employees complained about the unruly patrons and race was never even mentioned. Sometimes, people are just stressed out and annoyed. I would be annoyed if I were in New York with hot muggy weather and having to deal with people all day long. Maybe the hostess was just having a bad day and had the patrons met in another circumstance, they would be best of friends.
New York restaurants would rather alienate their customers than to defy the government and that’s the sad part of affluenza in cities. This has always been my issue with restaurants in the city. Because business is overflowing, they take customers for granted. The restaurant probably has forgotten that customer is king, and these days, with Yelp and Tripadvisor, a bad review could kill your business. Carmine’s is showing that they are more concerned about government compliance than valuing their customers. This is why I love the suburbs where restaurants actually care to thank you for their business. Stress, pollution, respiratory issues, aside, that simple fact alone, makes the suburbs a way better and happier place to live than a New York City or Los Angeles.
Black people apparently are the most negative towards vaccines. There has been an embattled history with vaccines in the black community. I was taken aback by, but I simultaneously commend BLM organizer Kimberly Bernard’s statement, “The vaccination card mandate to create more Sandra Blands, and more Breonna Taylors, it ends here”. This is powerful and so true. Looks like the far left and the far right have a lot more in common than people think. Most importantly, black Americans should never forget “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” which was an ethically abusive study conducted from 1932 to 1972. That frustration, fear and anger around forced needles is real and is rooted from much more recent history than slavery. This study shows how the black community was used as guinea pigs for medical testing. Clearly, big government, supported by the Democrats’ privacy-invading and minority-targeting mandates, doesn’t care about black lives in actuality and BLM and Nicki Minaj are waking up to this as they protest forced vaccinations.
College-educated liberals love to “whitesplain” to the black community, saying they just need to be “educated” on matters they disagree with, especially around vaccines. The big government types want to say that the black community needs to be “educated’ and that mentality is totally condescending and rude. I thought we were progressive in 2021 and we are respecting people’s lived experiences. I don’t claim to know what another person has gone through and why they don’t want to take the jab but I respect everyone’s right to make that personal choice, even if it means they could be spreading a disease. There is a lost art of just accepting another person’s personal health choices and focusing on our own and what we can control. Can we bring back that art of laissez faire?
Clearly, there are two Americas and these people from Texas are functionally black conservatives on the vaccine issue experiencing harassment (or what they claim is racism) from a functional Asian liberal urbanite.. And that is the funniest part of 2021. We can’t just generalize with racial lines anymore. The divide is more loosely urban vs. suburban/rural and also shows that we don’t fall neatly into boxes. Can we discuss things, issue by issue and stop vilifying people if they’re part of a perceived tribe? It would go a long way in preventing unnecessary brawls. [Click here to see video from The New York Post.]
Marc Ang (email@example.com) is the President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in Orange County, co-chair of “Recall Gascon Now”, was the Director of Outreach for the “No on 16” campaign, a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian IndustriesB2B that specializes in race relations and the minority conservative experience. His book “Minority Retort” will be released in late 2021.