The Dallas Morning News reports:
[At a] special meeting about Dallas County traffic tickets[,] ... [c]ounty commissioners were discussing problems with the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments and handle other paperwork normally done by the JP Courts.
Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections "has become a black hole" because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.
Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud "Excuse me!" He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a "white hole."
That prompted Judge [apparently a Justice of the Peace -EV] Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.
Mayfield shot back that it was a figure of speech and a science term.
More from Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow: Though Commissioner Price says that it wasn't supposed to be a big deal, and that "it's unfortunate that Judge Thomas escalated things by asking for an apology,"
Mr. Price isn't backing down from his initial comment. He said a racially sensitive person seeks to avoid using "black" in its many negative forms.
Mr. Blow rightly condemns Commissioner Price's position ("this kind of hypersensitivity to language really has become counterproductive to racial progress"), but goes on to say: "As a white person, I probably can't fathom what it's like for the color of your own skin to be synonymous with -— to quote from the The Synonym Finder -- evil, dirty, criminal, satanic, corrupt, sinister, disgraceful, foul, ghastly." But that's not what "black" in "black hole" represents; rather, it's "black" in the sense of, well, not yielding any light.
And as to Commissioner Price's riposte, quoted by Mr. Blow -- "There are always other terms to use, Mr. Price said, even for black hole. 'He could have just said "a file 13."'" -- well, yes, he could have, if he didn't want to be understood (at least by civilians).
I should note that it's possible that, in some situations, someone may use "black hole" to deliberately insult blacks, just as in some contexts you can use any innocent term with a facial expression, intonation, or contextual cue that makes the term into an insult. But nothing in the explanation from Commissioner Price suggests that this was happening here. For something in a similar vein, see the master/slave saga, discussed here, here, and here, plus the slavishly microbrouhaha. And, of course, who could forget the objection to "big bang" being "offputting to young women" in astronomy (see CNN, June 14, 1993, also quoted online here)?