Exposition: I work at a university library in the South. There are certain areas in this library that are dedicated quiet zones for studying. There are certain areas where food and cell phones are allowed. And ne'er the twain shall meet.
(As I am sitting behind the desk on desk duty, two patrons approach)
Patron 1: There are some people in the group study room that are being loud and disruptive. Cracking jokes and talking on cell phones. People are leaving because of the noise.
Me: Is this one of the small group study rooms?
Patron 2: No, this is on the fourth floor in the stacks, with the big signs that say "Quiet Area." There are, like, four tables with chairs around them. People are looking down from the fifth floor and shushing them.
P1: After you get off the elevator, they're at the front table when you walk through the double doors. Is there anything you could do?
P1: (As I get up and walk toward the elevator)I don't want to be racist, but we have a grad test tomorrow, and we can't study with all of the noise.
Upon entering the room, I saw one table with a group at it and the two farthest away tables had one person each seated at them. The group was 5 people, of whom 3 were African American, 1 was Latino, and 1 was Caucasian. I addressed the entire room, letting it be known that there had been complaints about noise, that this area was a quiet area and that there were areas of the library where groups could meet and discuss things more loudly.
How ridiculous is it that a library patron would fear a charge of racism for complaining about noise in THE LIBRARY?! I see a rampant fear in the South of the taint of accusation of racism. I don't pretend that prejudice does not exist and that ignorant individuals do not still hold to racial inequality. But I do know that these two patrons had no rational reason to fear any sort of accusation of racism when their complaint was based solely upon the rules of the library.
It kind of burns me up.