Whitey Will Pay!

The latest viral image to hit the internet is a photo of a car proudly brandishing a bumpersticker that declares “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012.” I first saw it on the Huffington Post site, and today I tried to access the company that produces them, a place called Stumpy’s Stickers. I was greeted with a blank page that stated, “Forbidden – You are not allowed to see this page on your server.”

I guess Stumpy got overwhelmed with inquiries, or maybe they were “disappeared” for objectionable content. Either way, the now-infamous sticker will go down in history as one of those oddities that will end up in antique stores, like the metal sign I bought years ago that said “Colored Served in Rear.” The store owner told me they found a pile of them in a warehouse somewhere in the midwest. (And no, I don’t have it anymore. First wife got it in the divorce settlement.)

I’m no stranger to racist memorabilia. I lived in Georgia in the 70’s, during the rein of Jimmy Carter. JC became governor by defeating the former governor, Lester Maddox, who then became Lt. Gov. under Georgia’s election rules.

Maddox was famous for standing in the doorway of his restaurant with an ax handle to prevent blacks from entering his establishment. He was a hero to the segregationists and rode his fame all the way to the Governor’s mansion, but by 1970 his appeal was somewhat diminished, allowing Carter to gain the top spot.

In addition to his non-duties as Lt. Gov. (which usually amounts to reading the obituaries every morning to see if the Governor is still alive) he ran a little shop in Atlanta where he sold autographed ax handles and clocks with a cartoon image of him riding a bicycle backwards. That was his other claim to fame, and he did it every 4th 0f July in the big parade. Lester could never see where he was going, only where he had been. I suppose you could say that about a lot of the old south, judging by the current controversy.

Racism isn’t exclusive to the rural south, or even black people. Back in the 90’s, I was working for a libertarian publisher and attended an anarchist bookseller’s convention in Golden Gate Park. There were books, posters, and other items displayed for the discerning radical public to purchase. While cruising the hall, I stopped by a table overflowing with bumperstickers for all occasions. There were the usual slogans, like “Power to the People!”, “Down with the Corporate Hegemony!” and other slogans of the over-the-counter-culture revolution.

But one caught my eye and fired up my imagination. It stated “WHITEY WILL PAY” in bold white letters on a black background. It struck me as odd, considering that the young folks behind the counter were the same color as me. Were they going to pay as well?

And I do find it somewhat offensive to be labeled as “white.” The snow outside is white, but the last time I looked, I was sort of a pinkish color, a little browner in the summer. Albinos are closer to white, just as some blacks are closer to brown. Why do we get stereotyped into these racist boxes? But I digress.

Maybe it was something in the San Francisco air, but I suddenly had the urge to join the insurgency. I would get a few dozen of these stickers, take them back to Nevada County, and slap them onto the bumpers of vehicles at the next Republican barbecue. I could visualize myself dressed in camo fatigues with shoe polish on my face, slithering through the pine needles with a bag of anarchy and ready to strike a blow for social justice. I just needed the stickers.

When I approached one of the young anarchists and asked him if I could get a discount for buying in bulk, he just gave me a blank stare. It didn’t matter that I was going to use them to further the cause of freedom, no discount, no way. Damn capitalist anarchist swine! Or maybe he was discriminating against me because of my race.

Oh well…We shall overcome…someday.

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11 Responses to Whitey Will Pay!

  1. “Don’t retake the night” ???

    And I thought the Right was in favor of patrolled neighborhoods, even if it means shooting unarmed black kids in Florida.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/fbi-justice-department-investigate-trayvon-martin-killing/story?id=15955985#.T2f4U9UmzTo

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    . . . “And I do find it somewhat offensive to be labeled as “white.”
    I kinda liked “Honky”, back in the day,especially when it was followed by “MF”.
    It had a certain brio.
    But I never knew its origins.
    Anyone know?

    • “beeep, beeep! Get the f outta my way!

      (just a guess)

    • TD Pittsford says:

      Keachie may have the gist of it. Wikipedia (undoubtedly the source of all human knowledge) sez: “Another documented theory and possible explanation for the origins of the word is that it was a nickname African-American people gave white men (called “johns” or “curb crawlers”) who would honk their car horns for prostitutes to come outside in urban areas such as Harlem and red-light districts in the early 1910s.”

  3. rl Crabb says:

    Actually, Keachie, that’s pretty close. See if this link works. (Irony Dept: there’s a link from this site to an online store where you can buy honky coffee mugs. Let my people go!)

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=honky

    Or google it yer own self….

  4. Greg Goodknight says:

    Apparently not:

    “also honkey, derogatory slang word for “white person,” by 1967, black slang, of unknown origin, perhaps from late 19c. hunky “East-Central European immigrant,” a colloquial shortening of Hungarian. Honky in the sense of “factory hand” is attested from 1946.”

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=honky

  5. Judith Lowry says:

    Okay, so I have to say this. Back in 1978 I asked a friend’s boyfriend, who was actually black, what “Honky” meant.
    I have Googled all over and cannot see his explanation documented anywhere.
    He told me that “Honky” came from the way white guys sound to black guys.
    He said white guys have nasal voices that make them sound like honking geese.
    It makes sense if you have ever heard black comedians like Damon Wayans or Steve Harvey imitating white guys, very nerdy.
    I don’t know, but it sounds plausible.

  6. Greg Goodknight says:

    Finally found something akin to definitive.

    Lifted verbatim from the wiki on Honkey-Tonk:

    “The term honky was, as a term for whites, derived from bohunk and hunky. In the early 1900s, these were derogatory terms for Bohemian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants.According to Robert Hendrickson, author of the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, black workers in Chicago meatpacking plants picked up the term from white workers and began applying it indiscriminately to all whites. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy wrote of “Negroes and hunkies” in his autobiography.”

  7. E. Christina Dabis says:

    After having lived in Hawaii for two years I can tell you without doubt that racism is not restricted to people of color. They hate white people with a blatant passion.

    I wasn’t about to stick around to change their world; I changed mine and came back home (here).

  8. Todd juvinall says:

    I too have experienced reverse racism. My sister Val ad her hubby lived there for 15 years and it was not fun for them either.

  9. Eric says:

    The “Whitey Will Pay” sticker was one of many, part of a series of iconoclastic, tongue-in-cheek slogans put out by Unamerican.com. They were ubiquitous in the ’90s (guitar cases, traffic signs, light poles, etc.) and all had that same joking-but-serious vibe. (Other classics: “Shut Up Hippie,” “I Guess I Was Punk Once,” “Listen to Black Sabbath,” “Bomb the Mall,” “Trees Are People Too.”)

    The website doesn’t look like it sells stickers anymore (they’ve moved on to mousepads, apparently) but if you come across a cache of those “Whitey Will Pay” stickers, I’m happy to subsidize their distribution in Western Nevada County and beyond.

    P.S. haole please stay on the mainland thx

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