I love fried chicken. I love it all, from the Chicken Wings at the Phoenix in West St. Louis, to the recently closed (and God rest it’s soul) Palios Brothers Fried Chicken in South Tampa. Sometimes, I’ll eat fried chicken six times a week (I’m going somewhere with this. Hold your damn horses). And one of my favorite places to eat fried chicken is the Popeyes here in North Tampa. It’s a fine place, if you like low-rent neighborhoods, crackheads and spicy chicken (and I do). Anyway, I eat there all the time (at least twice a week) and the employees and regulars are starting to get to know me. As a matter of fact, the girls that work there already have a nickname for me.

They call me, “The Cute White Boy.”

There’s something deeply reminiscent of our culture’s problems buried deep within this nickname. I mean, can we, as a culture, allow ourselves to describe people by the color of their skin? Could I, if I worked in a fried chicken shack (God forbid) in a predominantly white neighborhood (or Denver—same thing), refer to a black woman as “The Cute Black Girl?” Answer: I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m just happy that a group of girls have all conceded that I’m cute. That kind of stuff does wonders for the ego (again, I’m going somewhere with this. Hold up).

While I was eating my $5 plate of chicken last night, I got into a conversation with one of the employees there, a slender woman named Olivia. The conversation went a little something like this.

“Why you always order your chicken to go and then eat it inside?” she asked.

“I don’t,” I said with mouthful of chicken. “I order the chicken and they always give it to me in a box.”

She laughed. “You see,” she said. “When a white person come in, we always assume that they want their chicken to go. So you got to specify that you want to eat inside.”

“Why’s that?”

“You know why’s that,” and she pointed around at all the black people in the dining area. “Most white people don’t wanna eat in here with all us. Guess you grew up around black people.”

“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m from a country called America. We have black people there.”

“Is that so?” she smiled really big and then walked away.

A little while later, back at The Local Pub, I was sitting next to a friend of mine named Tony. He’s black. I told him what happened at Popeyes and this is what he said:

“Wow. You ate with the black people. Surely that would be some groundbreaking shit. If this was 1940.”

If you take away anything from this writing, I would like it to be the following three items: 1) Racism exists insofar as all citizens let it 2) Non-racist people should not be the ones rewarded for their actions; their actions should go unnoticed because this is supposed to be a non-racist culture and 3) I’m cute. Seriously, you should see this haircut. I’m fucking sexy.