It’s 2017 and Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell still thinks there’s nothing racist about the term “boy.”
During a city council discussion over a pending vote, Isbell, who is white, addressed Councilman Cody Ray Wheeler, who is Hispanic, using an offensive term.
Here’s how the exchange unfolded:
Wheeler: "I haven't had the opportunity to speak yet."
Isbell: "Well, you better speak up, boy.”
Wheeler: "Excuse me?"
Isbell: "Excuse you?"
Wheeler: "That's very offensive, I'm a council member of the city. Don't call me a boy."
Isbell: "Well, you better act like it.”
Quite understandably, Isbell’s comment prompted intense online backlash.
And as these stories mostly go, the 78-year-old mayor issued a half-hearted apology only after people called him out.
However, Isbell’s apology didn’t exactly serve its purpose because he refused to even acknowledge the racist roots of the term “boy.”
"I apologize to Councilman Wheeler for my comment during yesterday's City Council meeting. I agree that the term could be construed as inappropriate and that City Council members should be addressed more respectfully,” reads Isbell’s statement.
“What I don't agree with is those who have called the comment 'racist.' There was no racial component in my mind whatsoever. Having spent years involved in sports and coaching and in the military, saying ‘hurry up, boy’ is simply something that you might say to expedite an action. It's a term I have used with friends and with family. I was not trying to disparage anyone in any way.”
So, basically, Isbell understands Wheeler got offended but doesn’t know why he got offended, which basically means the basic problem in this case — Isbell’s racism — is still there.