Published July 11, 2008
DALLAS – What do "black hole," "angel food cake," and "devil's food cake" have in common?
They're all racist terms, says a Dallas County, Texas, official.
A county commissioners' meeting this week over traffic tickets turned into a tense discussion over race when one commissioner said the county's collections office was like a certain astronomical phenomenon.
"It sounds like Central Collections has become a black hole," Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said during the Monday meeting.
One black official demanded an apology, and Commissioner John Wiley Price, who also is black, said that type of language is unacceptable.
At the meeting, Mayfield said he intended his comments to be taken in the context of the scientific meaning, and became upset that he was being misunderstood.
In astronomy, the term black hole refers to a star that has collapsed upon itself, creating something so dense and small that it does not have any physical properties besides a gravitational force so great that even light cannot escape its pull.
Later, Price told MyFOXdfw.com that he believed it and other terms were racist.
"So if it's 'angel food cake,' it's white. If it's 'devil's food cake,' it's black. If you're the 'black sheep of the family,' then you gotta be bad, you know. 'White sheep,' you're okay. You know?" Price said.
Price said people should watch their words when it comes to stereotypes.
"I think people should always be careful. You know, I'm okay if I'm 'bartering' with you. ... But if I try to 'Jew you down,' Oooooh. Is that racist? I thought it meant the same thing? No, maybe it doesn't."
The world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking might have a solution to the problem over perception of the astronomical term. He refers to the phenomenon as "a singularity."