I have been enjoying the reaction to an commentary in the New York Times called "The Good Racist People." Here is what happened: Actor Forrest Whitiker, a black man, was accused of shoplifting in a New York deli. He was not actually shoplifting. The commentary more or less took the entire New York metropolitan area to task for being racists. Instapundit has some reaction and links to more.
I had a similar incident about fifteen years ago. I was selling jewelry and I mistakenly accused a black woman of stealing. There was a miscommunication between me and the person working with me. I thought my coworker was indicating to me that the wrongly accused was holding some jewelry. When she began to walk away, I confronted her in a firm but polite manner about the jewelry. Moments later I was informed that my coworker was referring to another lady still at our display. I immediately and profusely apologized and explained that it was a miscommunication etc... I thought that was the end of that. However, the lady complained to the management of the institution that was hosting us. It was processed evidently as racial mistreatment by the lady. I explained as best I could to management that race had nothing to do with it, that it was a miscommunication, that I was not a racist etc.... In the end I agreed to submit a written apology to the woman, which I did. And despite several previous incident free jewelry sales at the institution, I was never invited back.
My takeaway. Incidents such as the above are very empowering for the supposedly mistreated minority. In my case, an innocent mistake was transformed into a racial incident that caused me to lose a valuable business connection. She got me back and then some. Good for her. Good for her? Inflating a minor incident into a major racial mistreatment has its costs, unfortunately, for members of either race. If it is assumed that minor disputes with a member of a different race are infected with overt or unconscious racial animus, it makes interaction between members of different races a far more dangerous proposition. Or, to use econospeak, the cost of relations between members of different races is potentially greater. Easy, colorblind, less defensive interactions are made more difficult. Who does that help?