So that took off.
Yesterday’s post looking at the cross-section of race and beer, or rather, the whiteness of the beer community, received lots of attention, views and comments, as just about any discussion on race is apt to do.
While I planned a second post to be the end of it, I feel compelled to share a snippet of the reaction. Most common among the interactions I had were people asking me about the “call to action” of my message or if I just wanted to play PC police.
For those of you who have been regular readers of this blog, you may have surmised the overarching theme of what I do is based around the question of “why?” In this case, I saw a topic of interest that had little discussion and I wanted to ask just that. I had no grand idea in place or urge to force anyone into doing one thing or another.
My end game? There was none, other than the hope of spurring talk among beer lovers, not to turn it into a navel gazing session to wrap our heads around some great philosophical place of beer and society. In some ways, I succeeded in that.
But my post also ended up in one of the more vitriolic places on the Internet: under the title “If You Drink Craft Beer You are a racist.” on Reddit’s CoonTown, a place for “crude jokes and racial slurs; links to news stories that highlight black-on-white crime or Confederate pride; and discussions of ‘black people appropriating white culture.'”
There are many conclusions to jump to here, but as best I can, let me note that:
- I realize the people who post on CoonTown probably may not reflect the people of the craft beer community. But they may be people who drink beer, and therefore reflect some corner of the broader drinker base.
- I am not trying to draw a line between behavior on such a message board and intimate any problems associated with race and beer.
- I am not saying beer has a racism problem.
And so on. You get the idea. I trust we are all logical adults who can see I’m not doing this to stir the pot, but rather just place the pot in front of us.
On social media yesterday, I had conversations with people of varied opinions of race and beer, but most important, I had people tell me it was something they just never thought about.
Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s a bad thing. For our insular group of people – the 11 percent – we see the beer world as welcoming and accepting. I do not doubt the sincerity of that.
But I can assure you my happiness was not derived from creating heated conversations. It came from having a conversation.
It just so happened that an entirely different conversation was being held in some otherwise dark corner of the Internet I dare not travel, only found thanks to a series of breadcrumbs left among web traffic stats provided by WordPress.
For many of us, the idea of race and beer doesn’t register. But it was in my conversations with Liz and Allen, along with research and reading work by people like J. Nikol Beckham that made me want to share their point of view.
And I never would have heard from someone like Os Cruz, beer enthusiast and social media manager for TalkBeer.com, who wrote to me sharing a personal story about a time his background came into play.
Cruz, who is a first-generation Salvadoran-American, was recently visiting new breweries with his Salvadoran father. As they entered a taproom looking for friends at a soft opening, he was met with this scenario:
“Immediately, the lady behind the bar asks if we are with the construction crew outside (a group of Latino workers). I find it just mildly offensive and a bit amusing since in no way were we dressed like the guys that were working. She explains to me that it’s a soft opening for friends and family only and that she could not serve me. We leave accepting that answer, just mild discomfort about the racial profiling.”
Was he upset? No. Because his impression of the beer community is like mine – it’s a place that isn’t out to purposefully make him feel awkward.
“I think the biggest thing is, I’m not calling the brewery racist or anything. While I did get profiled and my father does not want to ever visit the place, it really just points out how much a minority can standout in the craft beer world.”
That’s exactly what I hoped might come out of writing yesterday’s post. It’s a point of view I never would have found on my own. There was also this comment from members of The Keg Tap, a Latino-themed beer blog:
“We have been trying to be a platform for Latino craft beer drinkers to be heard and seen for four years now. The question of why aren’t there more of us still lingers after all these years but I’ve come to understand that the answer is multi-faceted. The lack of diversity in the craft beer community stems from a cultural divide, a marketing challenge and access.”
Are there answers here? Was there a problem that needed answers? I don’t know, I’m just the messenger.
But what I do know is the goal of this entire exercise was to showcase alternative viewpoints from my own. Or, at least, show that they exist, even if they aren’t as bad as what we might find in places we dare not normally look.
Maybe we’ll finally get to the origins of all this tomorrow.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac