I've encountered far too many people who think the solution to racism is to just ignore it. Which ... makes no sense! Ignoring a problem won't make it go away. Sadly, actor Morgan Freeman co-signed this idea in an interview a few years ago, which has only helped keep the myth alive. Here's the thing. Morgan Freeman is totally entitled to his opinion, even though I don't agree with him. Every black person is going to have a different opinion/experience/perspective when it comes to racism. With that being said, it's important to be careful when it comes to using "my black friend said" or, in this case, "this black celebrity said" to dismiss someone else's experience/beliefs. Thankfully, this guy isn't ignoring the problem. So he put together this quick video to explain why it's important to keep the conversation going.
Narrator: Yo! So there is a very popular video floating around YouTube of an appearance a few years ago by actor, Morgan Freeman, on the television show, 60 Minutes, in which he says this . . .
Morgan Freeman: I don't want a Black History Month. Black History is American History.
60 Minutes: How are we going to get rid of racism until...?
Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it.I'm going to stop calling you a white man.
60 Minutes: Yeah.
Morgan Freeman: And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.
Narrator: And this is a pretty common sentiment. You hear this all the time. People say, "I don't see race. I'm color blind." And this sounds good on paper but it's actually quite problematic on a couple of levels. First of all, quite simply, race and ethnicity are closely connected to culture. And in my experience, most people are proud of their culture. Refusing to acknowledge race is being insensitive to the vast cultural differences across the world. Now I agree with Mr. Morgan Freeman's implications that race is not a thing. Race has absolutely zero biological or genetic relevance. It's an entirely contrived social construct that is based solely on the amount of melanin present in our skin, which is a really non-useful way to categorize people, by the way.
Despite the fact that it is a construct, however, it is a construct that has been and continues to be used to marginalize and discriminate against many groups of people. When you say we shouldn't see race, you are glossing over the struggle that lots of people will have to deal with every day because of their race. It is true that we're all just human beings, but we do not experience the world in the same way. And it is unjust and a little bit douchey [SP] to ignore that.
Now perhaps people that think like this are imagining a utopia, where everyone is colorblind and nobody judges people or discriminates against people based on their race. And that sounds nice for sure, but that's just not how it is in reality. And since it's not like this in reality, we have to do something to level the playing field. We can't just stand around and pretend there's no problem. No problem as big as racism has been or will ever be solved by not talking about it. I always like to bring up the example of Virginia Dare. Virgina Dare is notable for being the first person in America to English parents. I remember being taught about Virgina Dare in elementary school and I also remember having to remember her name for a test.
And just as a frame of reference, the Wikipedia article for Virgina Dare contains about 3,000 words. Virginia Dare's contribution to American history and society? Nothing. Just was born. In fact, almost nothing is known about her probably short life.
On the other hand, a person that I was not taught about in school is a black lawyer named Charles Hamilton Houston. His Wikipedia article has only around 700 words. His contribution to American history and society? Oh only playing a leading role in nearly every Civil Rights case brought before the Supreme Court between 1930 and 1960, earning him the title, "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow". He's only the guy without whom there would probably still be institutionalized segregation in American. Oh, just that guy. Yeah, I wasn't taught about him at all in school and I can barely find any substantial information about him on the internet right now.
That, Morgan Freeman, is why we need Black History Month because black history and black people are marginalized in America. And again, perhaps you were dreaming of a day when black history was taught alongside American history equally. But it just currently isn't, so we have to do something about it. And this whole concept is why we should not only not stop talking about it, but we should talk about it all the time. And probably be super loud when we do it. Not talking about it is not going to change employment discrimination. It's not going to change racial profiling from the police. Not talking about it is not going to change under-representation or misrepresentation of minorities in media.
Not talking about it is not going to change the personal bigotry that many people have based on their ignorance. It's not just going to go away, Morgan Freeman. The only privileged people have the luxury of choosing to be colorblind. And no one is saying you should be ashamed or sorry for being white or otherwise privileged, but you should acknowledge that you experience the world in a different way than other people. And a lot of times, that is because of the color of your skin. Because you do. So, don't stop talking. That's just me, though. What should the next video be about? Drop a comment. I want to give a shout-out to all the new subscribers. How you doing? Please press the "like" button. Subscribe if you like my hair. Holler.