The Racial Inequity of Standing in Line!

Customers line up to buy new iPhones and other gadgets in Chicago on 9/21/2018
Image courtesy

My friend Marquis sent me a couple of articles that addressed the furor that has developed over Popeye’s new chicken sandwich and people standing in line to get one.  Full disclosure:  I too have stood in line attempting to get the sandwich, but have left because it just wasn’t worth the wait to me. 

I am generally against the shaming of anyone, but was glad to see that the internet took Janelle Monae (and others) to task for asking whether the black people standing in lines at Popeye’s would be standing in similar lines at polling booths during elections.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten. So let’s take a trip down memory lane. People, mostly white – because black people weren’t the first ones to get into the Apple iPhone craze – have stood in line OVERNIGHT waiting for the next release of the iPhone.  People have stood in line waiting for stores to open so they could buy a Cabbage Patch doll.  People have trampled each other in stores and paid RIDICULOUS prices to get a Tickle Me Elmo.  When I was preparing to get married, I recall learning with shock that brides-to-be would stand in line and run each other over to try to get a designer bridal gown at trunk shows in New York City. People lining up for stuff that “seems stupid” is nothing new, and I don’t think black people need to call each other out about it.

Voting is a serious issue in our country.  Black and brown people have, and continue to be, long been denied voting rights and have had and continue to have “extra steps” placed in front of them so they can vote. However, NONE of that has anything to do with standing in line at Popeye’s for a chicken sandwich.

Perhaps instead of decrying people simply trying to enjoy food, we can look to do something positive with the situation, like the young man who started registering people to vote as they stood in lines.  Perhaps we can head to the lines and start educating people about gerrymandering and why they need to not vote for politicians who support it.  Perhaps we can head to the lines and educate people on the laws that are being passed to require people to bring all manner of documentation with them to vote.  Perhaps we can just let people be.


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