July 27th, 2009

Let’s hear it for the olive race

[Via Ann Althouse.]

It appears that Lucia Whalen, the woman who reported the two (race-unspecified) men breaking into Gates’s Cambridge house, would like to correct the record:

“Contrary to published reports that a ‘white woman’ called 911 and reported seeing ‘two black men’ trying to gain entry into Mr. Gates home, the woman, who has olive colored skin and is of Portuguese descent, told the 911 operator that she observed ‘two men’ at the home.”

Being of the olive persuasion myself, I’ve often bridled at being labeled “white.” And so I propose to that much-beleaguered good citizen Ms. Whalen (who has my sympathies for the unwanted and negative publicity her well-intentioned act has caused her) that we start a new racial classification hereafter to be known officially as olive.

42 Responses to “Let’s hear it for the olive race”

  1. Occam's Beard Says:

    Last time she’ll ever call the cops, that’s for sure. She could see someone setting up on a rooftop with a high-powered rifle waiting for Obama and she’ll probably just pull the blinds, stay from the windows, and watch the news for any developments.

  2. Person of little or no color Says:

    That’s funny. You don’t look olive.

    Some of my best friends are olive.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Person of little or no color: I can assure you that it’s the pits. You, having no little or no color, could not possibly understand.

  4. Occam's Beard Says:

    You say that, Person of little or no color, but I bet you wouldn’t want my sister to marry an olive.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    So what are you saying, neo – it’s an olive thing?

    Centuries of being shaken, and sometimes stirred (horrors!), have affected how olives look at gin and vermouth?

  6. nyomythus Says:

    I heard the recording of the 911 call on NPR on the way home, I usually flip back and forth from Hannity to NPR depending on the level of BS from either side, or interesting story and point of view from either side, I’m qualifying myself as a centrist just for the sake of typing, blah blah blah, it was a Hispanic woman (Portuguese — close enough but cultural and historically very different than their Spanish cousins — but in this context, like my philosophy — who cares!!!) and she specified to the police that it was two men, barging in, one might be Hispanic and the other she couldn’t tell (the human eye has evolved quite well to discern contrast in color tones, we cn separate this from false thinking that revolves around the geoscientific notion of ‘race’ of which went out the door about the same time we discovered the law of thermodynamics) and to boot also said that the ppl breaking in might possibly be simply locked out or could be burglars, who could know for sure??? She was unsure but chose to err on the side of caution like any responsible and thoughtful and moral neighbor, person, would — yes it may be inconvenient if it’s you and there’s no fowl play but later that evening I’d be thinking, “Wow, I have some good neighbors, they might be a bit nosy (if I’m feeling cynical which I should, it’s wise to think of the wrong that people are capable of before assuming their intentions are always good — but that’s just me — but usually only for a moment until I get my bearing) And if I think it’s a case of ”do undo others as you’d have them do for you”, then I hope I would say thank you, and maybe give the person, if they revealed themselves, a small gift, end of story.

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    Ah.. how many kids grew up to be greenies cause of the stuff put in their shows?

    heck, you can even find mr limpet doing it!!! when he is a fish he reveals the self hate attitude and people never thought that those raised on it sprinkled everywhere would follow it because it resonates with their childhood.

    on another note, sesame street cast and crew are truly awesome dedicated people… i am glad to have the experience to know them.

    on the other issue there will be a point where they have dug a hole so deep that they are going to release the tape (or some scanner jock who was listening and taping might).

    they are using old tactics… as i mentioned before 30 years ago this would have worked easy, and the cop would have at best been embarassed despite being in the right. today, with all this technology, they cant play that game.

    we are at a crux where things can literally go either way. the future can be dark with the net being censored, space always just out of reach, low pay toil and small lives where people rarely go farther than their neighborhoods.

    or the future can be bright, full of freedom and the ability to continue scaling, the net remains open, there is no way to control its content. truth wins since truth costs zero and tends to be consistent in all directions… space will soon ba available, nuclear plants would be ubiquitous with the waste shot to the sun, salaries and opportunity means that like before the young had more local lives but the older had aquired enough to be world mobile and enjoy it, and like today was leading people would have wide lives that spanned the globe (i have friends all over and i am glad to know them).

    socialism cant survive the second and the second cant be accomplished under it.

    will the masses of people get it?

  8. nyomythus Says:

    not ”geoscientific” it should say pseudo-scientific .. how f**k did that happen?? ahhhhh

  9. Tatyana Says:

    OB: vodka and vermouth, please: better coloration, let alone taste.

    Neo: that frog is not olive, he’s positively avocado. I think we can all safely unite in NOT wanting to be of avocado pigmentation.Who wants to have an unhealthy greenish tint to his skin?

    May I suggest “tobacco” instead of olive?

  10. anna Says:

    I wanna be olive too! i’m armenian, we are pretty olive colored. or “weird yellowish with brown spots”… banana-colored!

  11. Darrell Says:

    Related, great video, can figure out to llink to CNN:

  12. Baklava Says:

    Being fair skinned, I bristle when somebody is called “lily white”.

    Matter of fact, I think I’ve gone to counseling for it (not). :)

    NPR is mostly bs btw – uppity yes. correct on the issues no. elitist yes. with common sense no. utopian yes. reality driven no.

  13. rickl Says:


  14. jon baker Says:

    Today I had jury duty. Under “ethnicity” I labeled myself “Anglo”. Here in Texas you often hear people desribed as “white or black”, but if you are comparing “whites” and “hispanics” then ‘Whites” are called “anglo”- even if they are of German descent.

  15. jon baker Says:

    Oh, and the news people say “hispanic”. but most Anglos talking amongst ourselves say “Mexican”, even if they are from Honduras….

  16. Foxfier Says:

    I’m polka-dot– does that count?

    (I don’t tan, I freckle– my husband is mostly Italian, and my just-recovered-from-a-sunburn skin is still lighter than the underside of his arm.)

  17. jon baker Says:

    I wish I would have thought to label myself “wise Anglo”. hehehe

  18. Portia Says:

    Mediterranean peoples Uber Allas! We are wise olives. Does that come with popeyes?

    My husband, otoh, is white. Extremely white. In summer we nickname him Count Dracula. He can stand under the full sun and not burn or tan. It’s like a supernatural gift.

  19. Sarah Says:

    Overheard at a “Portuguese immigrants in the US discussion group” — “Why can’t I call myself Hispanic if I want to?”

    My answer “Of course you can call yourself Hispanic. You can also call yourself a little teapot. Just remember to whistle when you get steamed up.”

    Truly guys, Portuguese are not hispanic by any definition, even if hispanic is a made-up ethniticity. It is supposed to be Spanish + Amerindian. In practice of course it is “Spanish Speaking” and/or “Spanish surname.” Up until the early nineties if your name was spelled a certain way you were “Hispanic” Another way and you were “White.” I’m not sure if those rules are still used.

    Of course, Portuguese are human (though I’m still in doubt about some family members) so the offer of government benes for calling yourself “minority” is often irresistible.

  20. JohnC Says:

    Growing up in Texas and spending most of my childhood playing outside, I would have passed easily for olive (actually I was more like almost burnt toast) even though it’s a combo of Scotch Irish and German for me. Yes, it was the pits for me too with my many aunts contantly calling me cute and embarassing me.

    Has the Portugese 911 caller had negative publicity? I haven’t read about that.

  21. JohnC Says:


  22. br549 Says:

    Didn’t know you were “olive”. It doesn’t matter, does it?
    I have wondered if there is beauty behind the apple, besides the mind. As something best put as being present in the eye of the beholder, perception of beauty will always be “jaundiced”. I’m Irish, so I’ve got baggage of my own, I suppose. When I was in high school, a young Japanese girl, an exchange student, caught my eye. To this day, she is probably the most beautiful female I have ever seen.

    What I have taken from this Cambridge incident so far is that Gates has more problem with him being black than anyone else.

  23. Scottie Says:

    The only portugese person I know works at a local bank. She is as pale as I am. The only way I knew she was portugese is we had a pleasant conversation regarding our respective accents one day.

    Anyway, I have a “lily white” wife, and I’m quite, quite white – quite (probably a poem in there somewhere?).

    Yet our 2 kids don’t burn in the summer as they turn an awesome shade of “olive” when they hit the pool.

    Seems wifey’s father was of mediterranean extraction.

    Anyway, I find this whole conversation to be quite racist…..lol….we are literally discussing shades of white now!

    This is clearly a put down on Albinos! I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t hear from their lawyers soon, as they file a class action!

  24. br549 Says:

    …….more of a problem with him being black than does anyone else….

    Still not gramatically correct, perhaps. But I am hopeful, now, that people know what I meant.

  25. Tatyana Says:

    Baklava: “lily white” would be a corpse. Have you seen lilies?

    The funny thing is Portuguese people come in all tints and shades, at least those I met in. Just like Italians. And Armenians. Talking about Caucasians in general (even funnier): for some reason, in official questionnaires Caucasians considered a synonym of White. And in Russia they are subject of racist jokes as dark-skinned people…

  26. Tatyana Says:

    oops. “..those I met in Portugal”. Apologies.

  27. Scottie Says:

    But Tatyana, my wife is not a corpse!

    I mean, she is “lily white” – but she’s not cold by any means.

    Well, at least when I behave myself she’s not cold…..


  28. Charles Says:

    Corporal Maxwell Klinger of the MASH 4077 taught me to say this, so everyone repeat after me:

    “Olive skin makes good kin.”

    yours truly;

    Charles Emerson Winchester, the third

  29. Tatyana Says:

    Scottie: we need to hear from your wife on that subject. We are famous for objectivity.

  30. Scottie Says:

    Tatyana – never in a million years would I want to initiate a conversation between you and the wifey regarding how well I do (or do not) behave…lol….


  31. Federale Says:

    Sorry, Portuguese=caucasian=white=guilty.

  32. SAB Says:

    My Mom is olive and I have always been extremely disappointed that she did not pass it on to me, instead I got the less appealing fair skin with freckles.

  33. Don Says:

    Being referred to as Anglo must really piss off people whose background is Irish.

  34. br549 Says:

    It doesn’t help.

  35. Thomass Says:

    Person of little or no color Says:

    “That’s funny. You don’t look olive.”

    Green apple, olive… whats the dif…

  36. N. O'Brain Says:

    You can be olive if I can be gin.

  37. Foxfier Says:

    Come to think of it, “Irish” has been “not white” for no small part of the 1900s.
    And my grandma’s dad, from Scotland, was also considered not white, in spite of being blindingly pale….
    (Funny thing, my grandfather– who was about either 1/8th or 1/4 Indian, use to crash KKK meetings as a kid for the food, and never got hassled.)

    Can I claim racism for folks calling me Caucasian? I have no historical ties to any place near Russia– one great great great grandfather lived in France for a few years, that’s as far East as we go, and myself in Washington is as far North.
    Wouldn’t that make calling me “Caucasian” kind of like calling some very dark guy from the Caribbean a “Negro”?

    N. O’Brain

  38. PA Cat Says:

    My tuxedo cat wants to know whether being part black and part white makes her a mulatto or just an ordinary Feline American shorthair.

  39. Scottie Says:


    You think you have issues on this subject? I have Scotch, Irish, Indian (American), British, French, and German in my background.

    Yeah, I’m a regular mongrel….

    And the kids have a healthy dose of Greek as well as even MORE Scotch/Irish ancestry.

    At what point does one no longer qualify as “white”????

  40. Foxfier Says:

    dang good question. Guess we don’t get paid enough to have a voice– or we’re the wrong shade.

  41. buford Says:

    LOL, I love this. I always tell people I’m not white, I’m olive. Every time I see my olive skin next to my husbands pinky/white skin I am amazed.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  42. Nolanimrod Says:

    As long as we’re doing olive may I put in a plug for the It’s Not Easy Being White / It’s Not Easy Being Brown duet between Franklin and Gob in Arrested Development?

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