“Beating up on [cable news’] excesses is like riding down the hill after a bloody battle and shooting the wounded.”
David Carr, New York Times. Parodying Cable News With a Talk About Race.
On Tuesday night on MSNBC’s “All In,” Chris Hayes had a very direct conversation about race with the Gawker writer Cord Jefferson. Prompted by a news report of a group of young people in Huntington Beach, Calif., who looted and vandalized property, the pair lamented the lack of community leadership and suggested that acting out in that manner was a learned behavior.
It was a joke. Actually, there were two beats to the joke. The young people they were talking about were white. And the whole discussion was a put-on, a satire meant to show how lame the hoary race tropes of cable news have become.
As a comedy bit, it was very well done. Both men were straight-faced and earnest. Mr. Hayes, tapping his inner Bill O’Reilly, did a fine job of bloviating his way through an introduction heavy with outrage: “The story of the white criminal culture is not a story the mainstream media will tell you. But once you scratch the surface, these stories are everywhere you look.”
If you haven’t seen the segment, it’s well worth the five minutes to watch typical cable news tropes turned on their head.
Carr’s analysis of the segment hits the usual notes: cable’s inability (or unwillingness) to present nuance, and its manufactured outrage as it fills a 24 hour news hole. But he also discusses the very real effect of a (mostly younger) audience used to the news as presented by The Daily Show and Colbert Report, writing, “MSNBC was temporarily acting as a kind of self-cleaning oven, parodying the excesses of cable from a very near distance.”
For his part, Hayes tells Carr, “The biggest challenge is to find a way to surprise viewers and subvert expectations. The format is in need of evolution.”
“I’m straight up jealous of everyone that doesn’t have to think about racism. I can only imagine how free they are. I’d like a life that didn’t involve me mourning young men I’ve never met as martyrs. There are people who can say, without laughing, that the election of the nation’s first black president means that racism, as a defining factor of American life, is over. I envy those people who are able to look at President Obama and see only progress. Like many, I was overcome with emotion I still can’t quite define that night in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected. But the thrill is gone and in the aftermath all I can see is Sean, Oscar and Trayvon standing behind him asking everyone ‘when does this end?’”
“This whole thing of the, this ‘war on drugs,’ and the mass incarcerations that have happened pretty much for the last 40 years has just decimated the black male population. It’s slavery, it is just, it’s just slavery through and through, and it’s just the same fear of the black male that existed back in the 1800s.”
Herman Cain: The polls are inaccurate, in my opinion, based upon anecdotal evidence, based upon people that I know.
Jon Stewart: From what I understand, that’s why they do polls. … Because if it’s only people you know, that’s somewhat unscientific.
Herman Cain: Here’s why, in that particular poll, they may have had zero blacks, that were gonna vote for Gov. Romney. They were working. So, they didn’t answer the phone when they took the poll. Believe it or not, some black people have jobs! And careers, and they run businesses! They didn’t take that into account, Jon.
“I’ve seen this movie before. How is it that there are people of color who are CEOs of companies, that are presidents of universities, but there is no reflection of that on the networks? It is arrogance and it is narcissism. Even the commercials have more black people than the programs.”
“Some people have made the assertion that the only reason I’m doing so well is because conservatives are trying to send a message, ‘We’re not racist,’ ” he said. “Come to some of our rallies and you will come to the conclusion that I have come to. . . . This many white people can’t pretend that they like me.”
So I’m watching this documentary about the White family in West Virginia, & it’s mosty focused on the trials and travails of members of this one infamous family. Its interesting, & kind of sad. There’s this “look at the strange ways of poor white people” tone to it. And then there’s the comments from local officials on the family dynamic (words like entitlement culture come up a lot), as well as one official admitting that West Virginia and its citizens are routinely exploited by outsiders who own most of the state and exploit its resources. He drew a comparison to the exploitation of people and resources to Africa & America’s history of slavery that was almost genius, but then he either backed off, or they cut away because it didn’t go far enough. Watching this it is very clear (again) that the real underpinnings of fostering racism in America isn’t about any real belief in white superiority.
It’s really about making sure each group is fighting for a very tiny slice of the pie & having to do so much just to survive is blamed on easy pre-made targets. Keeping up race as a barrier to communication means that the conversation is eternally about fighting each other instead of the people who poison whole populations, enslave them in deed if not word (paying miners in scrip, forcing sharecroppers to use credit in a way that leaves them eternally in debt, importing labor & taxing their pay only to blast them for wanting to be treated as citizens in the country where they work etc.), and use their money as a club to stay in power. Again, I wonder if we ever do get to be post racial what kind of world will we live in? What kind of economic system would be implemented?
“The test of how racist you are is not how many people of color you can count as friends,” I recall someone telling me—I can’t remember who now. “It’s how many white people you’re willing to talk to about racism.”
THIS!!!!!!! If you are not actively calling out your white friends on their racism, you are not an ally. Plain and simple. If you are not policing your own whiteness, you are not an ally.
“A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of more than 1,300 Americans nationwide finds that about nine of 10, black and white, say civil rights for African Americans have improved during their lifetimes.
On the question of whether race relations between blacks and whites will always be a problem, there has been virtually no change at all among whites since 1963: 44% of whites said then that relations between blacks and whites would “always be a problem in the United States.” In the new poll, almost precisely the same number, 45%, of whites hold that view.
In contrast, the days of soaring optimism among blacks has ended.
In 1963, seven in 10 blacks predicted relations between blacks and whites “will eventually be worked out”; 26% said they would always be a problem. Now, 55% of blacks see it is as a conflict that won’t end.”
Interesting analysis from Nate Silver of the New York Times on why the Democrats shouldn’t be too disheartened with the debt ceiling plan:
This ought to be a big deal for Democrats, since many of them are favorably disposed toward cuts in the defense budget. The table below reflects the views of Democratic and Republican adults toward cuts in 18 areas of federal spending as derived from the 2010 General Social Survey. The scale runs from 0 (meaning that voters would like to see increased spending in that area) to 100 (meaning that voters would like to see spending cuts).
What I find interesting in this table is that there’s an actual category: “Improving conditions of blacks.” One would think that if you need to have a category of improving a large group of people, then you really need that category.
Nope, you can’t make this stuff up.
Bernie Goldberg, just now on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, as contradictory footage from Wisconsin rolled said the following:
"You remember during the Tea Party demonstrations there were lots of references to the crowds being overwhelming white. I was never quite sure what the relevance of that was but the NY Times, for example, thought it was relevant because they would write stuff like that. These crowds are beyond overwhelming white. These crowds are almost 100% white. And there is no reference to race.”