NO MORE FAKE NEWS! I AM SAMOAN! – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I’m a Samoan. It’s something of an inside joke in local media.

Maybe you’ve heard it before and then again, maybe not. Back in the early 70’s, Boston was grappling with court ordered school desegregation and forced busing. It was a very ugly time for race relations in The Hub of the Universe. “The cradle of liberty” was under an international media microscope. Not pretty.

I was out covering the story and to my credit, everyone hated me. Black, white, and politicians — everyone thought I was on the other side. I was proud of that. It means (to me) that I was on the right side. One day, there was an incident in South Boston — also know as “Southie” — which was where all the action was taking place.

A bunch of white thugs had cornered me and my crew. They were screaming the usual epithets, throwing rocks and bottles. Moving in for a serious tune-up. It was then that I had a Mel Brooks moment. An epiphany. The angry mob quieted as I raised my hand for silence. I spoke calmly, in my best, soothing voice.

“Hey, I’m not a nig__r. I’m a Samoan!”  

My crew looked at me dubiously. Surely, no one could be that stupid. Besides, I had that infamous ironic smile on my face. The angry mob was still quiet and obviously somewhat confused. So I repeated it again, slowly and louder, so the crowd could read my lips.

“Guys, I’m not a nig__r, I’m a Samoan!”  

A brief pause and then … the crowd cheered.

“He’s not a nig__r. He is Samoan!!”  

They approached with broad smiles, offering handshakes. We got the hell out of there ASAP. Yes, they were that stupid.  To this day, many colleagues call me “The Samoan.”

Now, that was real news!!



Categories: Anecdote, Boston, Garry Armstrong, History, Media, Photography, Racism and Bigotry

Tags: , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. If the bullies and crooks of the world weren’t so appallingly stupid, the world would be an even scarier place. Good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, there I am behind you in the top picture! I had a similer experience in Syracuse, 1970 with a mob of angry white teenagers in the midst of a busing dust up outside Hennicker High; they surrounded me, spat on me, demanded my film. I bought a little time, but the threats escalated. Finally I opened the Bell and Howell 70-DR and hoped surrendering the feed reel would satisfy them. At that point Police Chief Sardino parted the crowd, told the kids to vamoose, and saved my ass. I immediately became a big fan of his.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great story, Garry. That was kool man from Samoa.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The “Samoan”…..The “Legend” lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this story. Mel Brooks woulda been proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Quick thinking Garry. I can’t help wondering how many of the crowd had even heard of Samoa.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. They CHEERED???

    I’m never going to be able to see that Blazing Saddles scene quite the same way now.

    You are one seriously cool dude! (For an Irish Samoan, that is!) 😉

    love.

    Liked by 1 person

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