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Cult of Outrage: Racist Paint Names?

Clinton Tucker has filed a lawsuit against Benjamin Moore Paints, his former employer, which details a hostile and racially-charged work environment, including the company naming paint colors after him. He also alleges that the company fired him in March 2014 after his complaints about the names were ignored.

At the heart of this case, are two colors. “Tucker worked on a project to create a new line of paint colors,” one of which was given the name “Tucker Chocolate.” according to The Daily Caller. There was already a color named Clinton Brown. Apparently one of Tucker’s coworkers noticed this coincidence and remarked at how amusing it was, but according to the complaint “Tucker found it to be repulsive.”

There are two other paint colors with the “Tucker” moniker – named for St. George Tucker according to the Benjamin Moore website – an orange and gray, along with “St. George red.” There is also a color known as “Confederate red,” which Tucker also alleges is a racist reference, although the corresponding color does not seem to be close to the background color of the rebel flag.

Tucker’s complaints extend beyond color names. He also alleges that “he was demoted while white co-workers were promoted” and that he was mocked when he sent an email asking for permission to take Martin Luther King Jr. day off from work. Eventually he was fired, but his complaint points out that the company did not fire “two white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed subordinates,” according to The Star-Ledger.

The very presence of other “Tucker” colors makes it seem as if Clinton Tucker’s accusations of racism are not held up by reality. His person work situation aside, the filed complaint states that the paint colors “remain on Benjamin Moore’s web site and are still sold on the open market with these racially offensive names.” This is nonsense.

The names themselves are not racially offensive in the slightest, and even if the Tucker Chocolate color was named after Tucker, it still wouldn’t be racially offensive to anyone but Tucker himself. This exemplifies one of the specific problems in the larger Cult of Outrage attitude.

Their belief seems to be that if something is offensive to one person it is equally offensive to everyone. Perhaps Clinton Tucker has a case with respect to how his termination and employment was handled, but the accusation of racism smacks of grasping at straws.

Photo by Daniel Blume via Flickr

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.

  • sunshipballoons

    “The names themselves are not racially offensive in the slightest, and even if the Tucker Chocolate color was named after Tucker, it still wouldn’t be racially offensive to anyone but Tucker himself. This exemplifies one of the specific problems in the larger Cult of Outrage attitude.”

    Not so much. If they named the paint “Tucker Chocolate” because Tucker is black and they wanted to make fun of him–including by calling unwarranted attention to his race–that is absolutely racially offensive. That said, I certainly accept the possibility that this whole thing is completely or largely cooked up. But if the allegations and some implications of them are true, this would be highly troubling conduct by Benjamin Moore.

    • Jodye Rudolph

      I agree. This guy should feel honored that he has something named after him.

  • gb93433

    Tucker Chocolate
    CW-175

    Capturing the 1798 color requested by St. George Tucker for his
    home facing Courthouse Green, this deep brown is classic and
    understated. (http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/tuckerchocolate)