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A Friend Indeed, Part II

I've had a few dust-ups with David Anderson, but politics aside, he's a good guy. We've actually become pretty good friends.

Well, he's been living and working in Costa Rica for a few years, and he suddenly found he was in need of some paperwork collected and moved around the country for various approvals and stamps. He has a few friends he could have asked, but instead he reached out to me.

So that explains why, right now, I am in possession of a certified copy of his criminal record and his one-and-only birth certificate.

That birth certificate is a fascinating document. He was born in Virginia in 1960, and the race of his parents are both listed as "colored."

That set off a rather interesting discussion. First, I told him that there was a mistake on it. He's black, and technically black is the absence of color. I'm white, and white is the combination of all colors. By rights, I should be called "colored," not him.

Then he pointed out that he's not really black, but brown. In that spirit, I'm not really white, but more of a pinkish-tan. (More tan than pink, my boss insisted on pointing out.) So I guess "colored" isn't so much of a stretch.

That's when I stole a gag from "Dr. Detroit." (See the extended section for my recollection of one scene.) I said I was very surprised that he was listed as "colored." I thought he was born that shade, and was astonished to hear he was colored that after being born. He wouldn't tell me what his original coloration was, though.

So, anyway, I have this rather sensitive personal information on Mr. Anderson. He's given me some money to cover my time and expenses in getting all his stuff in order for him, but it occurs to me that I could probably make a LOT more by offering it up for sale.

If any potential identity thieves who could pass for a black male in his 40's would care to make me an offer...

(Kidding, David. It is currently on its way to that DC office you need it sent to. But when they send it back to me... well, you might want to be the high bidder.)

In "Dr. Detroit," Dan Aykroyd plays a mild-mannered college professor who is pressed to portray a fictional pimp called "Dr. Detroit" by Howard Hesseman. In one scene, Dr. Detroit is called to get one of the prostitutes out of jail. The judge in question is an old-fashioned Southerner, and Ackroyd goes in as a "southern gentleman" out to rescue his poor, besmirched sister, a "true flower of the south" who has been horribly mis-accused of this travesty of justice. He persuades the judge to release the prostitute, Thelma, who is then brought into the courtroom.

Ackroyd is instantly horrified. "You didn't tell me she was the BLACK one!"

He quickly grabs the lady in question and rushes her towards the door before the judge looks up. They almost make it, but the judge suddenly shouts out "That girl is COLORED!"

She yanks her arm free from Aykroyd and storms up the aisle towards the judge, infuriated. "Ain't nobody 'colored' me, judge, I was BORN this way!"


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Comments (8)

That reminded me of a call ... (Below threshold)

That reminded me of a call I made from work to the daycare center my son was in at the time. I had to work late and would be unable to pick him up before the center closed. So I called to inform them that Paul's Aunt Janice would be picking him up and it would be okay for them to release him to her. The black woman I spoke to inquired, "Paul? Is he a black child or a pink child?"

I stuttered a little at that point and laughed. I told her he was really sort of beige, then she stuttered a bit and laughed too.

In college, a friend of min... (Below threshold)

In college, a friend of mine bought a car from a relative, sight unseen. To expedite things, he filled out the paperwork before receiving the car. Since he didn't know what color it was, he listed it on the paperwork as being "off-white".

When the car arrived, it turned out to be gold.

A cop came to look at the car to complete the paperwork for some reason (perhaps he bought the car from an out of state relative; I never knew the details), looked at the car and said "Off white?" My friend said "Well, it ain't white, is it?" The cop signed the paperwork.

Yeah, I usually let white g... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:

Yeah, I usually let white guys think they're funny and clever whenever they're doing me a favor or asking me for license and registration.

You've confused the color o... (Below threshold)
Locomotive Breath:

You've confused the color of light with the color of a surface and the interactions between the two.

If you're talking about light then black (i.e. "the dark") is the complete absence of light. "White" light is light that contains all colors equally. This is what the sun does. Artificial light sources can be skewed toward particular colors. An incandescent light is "reddish" while a florescent light is "bluish"

Now, let's shine white light on a surface. A truly black surface reflects no light at all. So a black surface has no color. A white surface reflects all light colors equally. So a white surface is all colors equally (assuming they were there to start with).

The light source and the properties of the surface can interact to produce apparent color changes. That's why, when buying clothes, always carry them to the store window for natural daylight rather than looking at them in the (typically) florescent light installed in the store.

That's also why your camera has a "white balance" setting. You point your camera at a white surface in the light you'll be using and then the camera adjusts to make the colors come out right.

All of which is completely irrelevant to your post.

Don't you hate it when engineers read your blog?

It occurs to me that you co... (Below threshold)

It occurs to me that you could probably register him as a Republican. :)

Back in about 1970 or so, a... (Below threshold)

Back in about 1970 or so, a friend of mine went to "The South". We lived in upstate NY.
I don't know where, but it was past "South of the Border" so at least the Carolinas.

He saw a water fountain marked "Colored". So he had to use it as he'd never seen colored water flow out of a tap.

Er... "South of the Border"... (Below threshold)
Learn Some Geography:

Er... "South of the Border" is in South Carolina just south of the NC/SC border, hence the name. If your friend was south of "South of the Border" and still in "the Carolinas" then he was in South Carolina.

And they say southerners are ignorant.

I just want to tack on to t... (Below threshold)

I just want to tack on to the good point made by Locomotive Breath. You're right in your post if you're referring to the color of visible light. So far as our visible spectrum goes, when you add all colors together you get white light, and when you remove all of them (and therefore all light) you get what we deem "black." So white is the combination of all and black is the lack of any. However, when you switch from discussing light to discussing pigmentation, such as in paint, the reverse is true. White cannot have anything but white in it. Add a drop of anything, and it is forever tinted. However, mix all of the colors together and eventually you'll wind up with black. (Of course first you'll go through weird greens and grays and browns and purples, though.) Just wanted to add that in. Pigmentation also considers color products differently. You know?






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