Picture it: Bethesda Maryland, 1984. A (handsome) black youth of 15 is sitting in the homeroom in tenth grade in a religious, conservative-leaning mostly white school. Homeroom has a radio, which is played before the class begins. The radio is on, playing the shock-jock known as The Greaseman. The Greaseman is doing one of his schticks: racial humor built around the fact that urban black people often have different naming conventions. (“This my daughter, Sy-Phyllis; and here’s her sister Gon’Norhea. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!”)

Our hero is usually quiet. But this is just too much. He stands up, and turns off the radio, much to the consternation of his classmates. “You’re too sensitive,” they cry. “Don’t you have a sense of humor? YOU have a normal name, why do you care?”

Our hero, somewhat cowed, replies, “I was offended. I think is was” (little voice) “racist.”

Voices are raised; it is the beginning of an adolescent war.

The battle is thwarted, because the teacher stops everyone and says, “He was offended. End of discussion.”

sophia1

The black youth was…. Sophia Petrillo me.

When I heard about this latest fracas, I was immediately reminded of that incident.

The similarities are downright uncanny.