Monday, August 29, 2011

The Nature of the Beast

It started with a stupid decision.

There is no reason to watch the McLaughlin Group on a Friday night.
If you're seeking news, there are far more current and detailed sources of information. If you're seeking enlightened debate superior examples can be found elsewhere as well. And nobody is honestly looking for entertainment from the McLaughlin Group, at least no one with a fully functioning sense of boredom.

 But, there I was watching a half dozen curmudgeons argue about four-day old news that had already been hashed to death by talking heads with far more verve and roughly equal insight.

I've already admitted it was stupid.

As I wondered how the show had managed to survive the media blood-letting of recent years, the hosts skipped from discussing Obama's abruptly ended vacation, to speaking on Dr. Martin Luther King and the deferment of his now well-known dream. As is common, while the discussion pretended to be about America's failure to make good on the dream King died for, it quickly became something else. They trotted out the tired factoids about the wealth gap between blacks and whites, and then cut to the statistics about the differing rates of incarceration.
(By the way, that information was actually interesting mainly because it revealed that 5 percent of the black population is incarcerated compared to 1 percent of the white population. It's not the gap that's interesting, it's the fact that despite the dominant stereotype about rampant black crime, 95 percent of us are not doing time!)

Things were rolling along in a fairly predictable manner when the white-haired and bespectacled host-- McLaughlin I presume-- asked something like "Why are black people failing to succeed?" That is a paraphrase because the ensuing emotions that comment caused made it difficult for me to remember the exact quote, but it's a fairly accurate paraphrase.

After this ridiculous comment, the token black guy on the show, Clarence Page, began to try to explain why black people fail. He talked about society and personal responsibility, and even threw a bone to racism. It wasn't a bad answer, but in a way it was terrible.

See, in my opinion, any time a white person asks a question that is so obviously asinine, it cheapens black folks when we deign to answer it seriously. I'm not saying I haven't done this, I'm just saying that I was cheapening black folks when I did it. The correct answer to that ridiculous question was "Because they are Americans." After all, failure is not a special trait of black folks, and black failure or even pathology shouldn't be treated as some aberration but instead a shining example of our humanity. Human beings fail. That's what we do.

But, the host obviously believes that black people have some sort of monopoly, or at least an affinity with failure. It's drawn to us like flies to rotting meat, and clearly that means there must be something wrong with us. After all, if we haven't managed to start succeeding 40 years after Dr. King died, when exactly were we planning to start succeeding, right?

Of course this is idiotic, but these are the types of conversations way too many white folks have and that they think are insightful. This is what they talk about amongst themselves, this is why they get so huffy when the topic of Affirmative Action comes up, and it's why there is so much thinly veiled resentment towards black folks among white people of all ages. They really and truly believe that the problems of black people are unique to black people and caused by some sort of moral, intellectual or emotional deficiency that accompanies dark skin.

That's what white supremacy looks like. And it's all around you.


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5 comments:

Brotha Wolf said...

I never heard of the McLaughlin Group. I know I won't be watching them anytime soon.

Bill said...

Big Man,I was born in the mid 50's, anway, you continue to amaze me with your insight. By the way, I stopped watching this shows years ago.

Big Man said...

I didn't even know it existed until my wife made me watch it and Washington Week after we got married. She grew up watching these shows and finds them comforting.

KRStyle said...

Wow! I didn't know that show was still on.

lifelearner said...

Yep, Big Man. I grew up in Alex VA so I definitely know about the McSnoozin' Group. You definitely hit the nail on the head! Love your space here, keep up the good work ;-)

Raving Black Lunatic