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Can Americans Speak Frankly about Race?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with scholar John McWhorter about the state of racial discourse in America and his thoughts on Attorney General Eric Holder’s controversial speech last week calling the U.S. a “nation of cowards” with regard to racial matters.

Holder said:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."

McWhorter argued that the "conversation about race" called for by Holder excludes the frank opinions of many white people:

"Over about the last 20 years, saying that we need to have a ‘conversation about race’ is coded... Having the conversation about race – what is generally meant by most people who are saying that – means black people have something to teach white people if white people would just sit and listen. It is not a conversation in the strict sense, it’s not an exchange. In an exchange there would also be room for white people to say ‘Here’s why we think you need to get over racism, here’s why we’re not as racist as you might think, here’s why we’re offended by this or we’re weary of this.’ What most people mean by the conversation would have much, much less room for that than for the teaching that black people are supposed to do."

What do you think?

  • In America, can people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds speak their minds about race with equal frankness? Why or why not?

  • Do members of some racial groups have more insight into racial matters than members of other groups, as McWhorter interprets Holder to mean? Explain.

  • What do you think can be done to help improve racial relations and discourse in America?


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    police covering up unprovoked shooting of an unarmed guatamalan immigrant in indiana.

    the officer fired three shots into the windshield of a stopped car, paused, and fired fifteen more rounds into the windshield, killing the unarmed driver.

    the officer still has his badge and the city government is withholding the tapes from news organizations.

    In the _Conscience of a Liberal_, Krugman nails it. He nails the very conversation that Attorney General Holder says we are too cowardly to hold:


    "The legacy of slavery, America's original sin, is the reason we're the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee health care to our citizens. White backlash against the civil rights movement is the reason America is the only advanced country where a major political party wants to roll back the welfare state. Ronald Reagan began his 1980 campaign with a state's rights speech outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered; Newt Gingrich was able to take over Congress entirely because of the great Southern flip, the switch of Southern whites from overwhelming support for Democrats to overwhelming support for Republicans."


    Whatever the extent of discussion on the issue of race in America, the conceptualization of it remains largely incomplete. Blacks blame whites. Whites either become offended and blame blacks or become overly apologetic. The purpose of any conversation on race in America is neither merely about blame nor apologies. It is about understanding the true nature of the problem in order to create a shift in the attitudes, beliefs, and actions towards each other in ways that benefit us all.

    A major component of racism is white privilege. As articulated by anti-racist Tim Wise, going from underprivileged to privileged does not complete the equation. Over privilege exists somewhere as well and for the most part it exists among whites. The idea of white privilege has yet to be included in the larger discussion on race. After all, it’s difficult to broach a subject that you had not previously considered. On the flip side, who in this economy wants to discuss a topic that could lead to the loss of a longstanding and substantial advantage?

    At the same time, many blacks have been lulled into believing that everything is just fine. No sheets, no hoods, no hanging trees. No obvious manifestations of Jim Crow. Blacks now have material possessions that greatly exceed those of their parents despite lower levels of pay than that of whites, higher levels of incarceration and a myriad of other issues that place blacks at risk. In just one generation blacks in America have gone from we shall overcome, to I've got mine, and by the way, what's your name again? Because of economic gains and technological advances the playing field appears to have been leveled. And now that we have our first black president, Barack Obama, surely we have irrefutable proof that all is well. Consequently, there is no real desire for a conversation on race in America by the majority, whether white or black. As such, whites maintain privilege because of who they are. Blacks believe they are privileged because of what they have. But the current instability of the same economy that lessened the perceived impact of racism is proving once again that class does indeed trump race.

    The election of President Barack Obama represents a bittersweet irony. His innate abilities and impressive achievements have made him a rock star among white Americans who view him, not as a black man, but as just a man. The very attributes and achievements that contributed to his overwhelming acceptance by whites have resulted in their belief that the president has somehow ascended his blackness. Still, at their convenience whites will acknowledge that Mr. Obama is black to demonstrate that are not racist when it benefits them to do so. This negates the need to participate in a conversation on race while maintaining their privileged status under cover of praise.

    Blacks in America also respect President Obama’s abilities and achievements. However, blacks tend to relate to his success from the perspective that because he is black and they are black, President Obama’s position as the most powerful man in the world is proof that they too have made it here in America – this even though they are in no way treated with the same level of esteem as Mr. Obama, nor do most have access to his level of income or other resources.

    Though the definition of racism may be the same the outcome of its effects are based solely on what is in the eye of the beholder. The differences in perspective, both the obvious and the unacknowledged must be placed on the table in order to ensure a quality conversation and any possibility for meaningful change.

    Robin Pugh-Perry, MHS
    The Conversation Project

    Conversation creates possibility and within that space, miracles happen!

    Well I would like to know why no one ever asks the question of why racism lives? Well from what I see and have learned thru my life that Blacks cause alot of it upon themselves. Its not how you look but more how you act, what you do that continues to feed the racism that they accuse of us of. They complain that more Blacks are in prison. Yes thats true. Lets ask it this way. Where do many Blacks live and what happens where they live. I watch alot of German tv and on there they do reports of the Africans who are migrating to other countries. In these reports they have shown violence and drugs and gangs. This is all happening in other countries. I see the same thing here. You see the same thing in Africa. I don't think throwing money helps either. I grew up in Pittsburgh. I lived in the West End of Pittsburgh. Not far from my mostly white neighborhood there was a government project. In the late 70's the government went there and built them new townhomes. Built them a new school. Built them a new swimming pool. Built a shopping center. Not even a mile from there was 2 major plants that always needed people. One was UPS and the other a grocery store warehouse. So there were jobs available. Well in the mid 80'2 the shopping center was gone. The swimming pool closed. The school closed and the neighbor hood there looked like a war zone. It literally is just that too. This is all examples of what I mean by what they do. I server in the military until 1990 and I got a job at the grocery warehouse. We drove forklifts and filled grocery store orders. The one thing that still resides in my mind about the place was how the Blacks got out of work in every way they could. The would get assigned a lift and then say my battery is dead then they would go over to a charging place and sit for a few hours. Well this was the normal there and nothing was ever said. This place employed hundreds. I agree with one thing he said on your show. If racism ended today these problems would still be there.

    America certainly does need to have an honest discussion about race. And it needs to do so not just because it is the morally correct thing to do but because such a conversation will allow America to begin to get past the psychological blockage that I believe is largely responsible for the economic white flight of the past forty years years or since the Immigration Act of 1965.

    American oligarchs see on television and in our metropolitan cities an America that is growing less and less Caucasian, and they are buffering themselves accordingly. All Americans are paying the price for this denial of American democracy. The oligarchs will pay too, for their actions will cause the whole house of cards to come crashing down. My hope is that other countries are taking names and will not allow these greedy folks to immigrate, but since money will do the talking that is probably wishful thinking.

    On a side note, what would be so bad in forcing these oligarchs to get the hell out of this country? The banks say that they need to pay talent in order to keep them. I don't particularly find a Bernard Madoff or anyone of his kind any more intelligent than a crack dealer, con artist, or pimp who finds ways to make money illegally without being caught for an extended period of time. What would really be the effect if these people were to look for their banking-hours employment elsewhere? I would argue that there are second and third tier professionals underneath these cockroaches who understand financial mechanisms even better and are better able to run the financial show within democratic structures. Perhaps in a hundred years these individuals and their progeny will have grown corrupt, and a bit of house cleaning will once again be in order.

    I don't understand a lot of the comments here. Whether you agree with them or not, Dr. McWhorter's comments were pretty clear. A few points.

    He still thinks there is racism. He doesn't think we'll ever reach the point where there is no racism, but he doesn't exclude improvement. And he also thinks that there are many other things that should be a higher priority than focusing on racism.

    His view on Holder was that Holder's conversation on race would be one-sided and focused on this is how badly white people have acted.

    I've also seen comments on how McWhorter uses his personal experiences as the basis for his views. It didn't come out in the interview, but I read his book a few years ago. He does his homework. Again, you may not agree with him, and I don't in many areas, but the studies he referenced seemed valid - in any event, it was much much more than simply anecodotes.

    Hather Mar 6 9:29pm feb 28 11:09am & Mar 4 9:22am BB spoke on McWhorter's discussion of "conversation on race".

    The DNP & candidate Change denied Fla. & Mich. nomination-election votes because the DNP might lose control of the election.

    That's what I think threatens the fabrick of our society & no one seems to even notice! Can we converse on that?

    Congress makes rules so that senior (old) ideas allow for manipulation & greed to flourish. Newly elected members have to do it the controlled way if they want to get on the right committee & if they go against party line--look at Liebowitz. That's what I want to talk about & others are content to chase the redherring of financial crisis that was permitted by a "GET RE-ELECTED AT ANY COST" Congress.

    So is equality so important that everyone being beaten down, downtroden, dirt poor, enslaved to the tax & spend government that promises the moon but gives us greed, deciet, bad management, lies, etc.
    that we settle?

    That is what I want to talk about. Change the structure of Congress to restrict seniority controll, allow the newly elected a chance to be heard before being beaten into Washington form. That is the conversation all in Congress should have with Mainstreet!

    Thanks for asking.

    Billy Bob,

    I watched the program with the linguist, Mr. McWhorter, and I walked away truly disgusted. I couldn't understand what point Mr. McWhorter tried to make. I felt that either his ego, his intellect, his words or all of the above got in the way.

    And yes, I agree with Mr. Holder: America needs to have an honest conversation about race; we haven't had one yet. President Obama did an excellent job in is lecture on race, but we have to go further. We need to ask the hard questions like, why do some white people hate black people so intensely; is it genetic coding or simply born out a fear of black retaliation? We need to ask why do blacks hate blacks, look at the black-on-black crime statistics. Yes, hard questions, questions that yield soul-searched and true-blue answers. I don't know that America is ready for the awaiting catharsis on race but the issue of race in America continually rears its ugly head and sucks the air out of all the other pressing societal issues in the room. We must confront this beast once and for all. But Mr. McWhorter seemed disconnected from this reality. His responses were too ethereal for me. They left my head in the clouds.

    So, the interview with Mr. McWhorter: I did not enjoy and this is the first time I've ever written to complain. Indeed, I have seen much better.

    Billy Bob,

    Why don't you speak?

    For some reason the links on my comment at "Posted by: gbm3 | March 6, 2009 8:42 AM" do not work.

    The links follow (hopefully they work now).

    "womb-lynching": http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/feb/09021011.html

    "Planned Parenthood": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEja-1emRic

    "percentage": http://www.blackgenocide.org/black.html

    "wrote": http://www.blackgenocide.org/obama.html

    Thank you.

    McWhorter refered to conversation, but AG Holder said, "...talk...", & I heard it either way. Then I reevaluated "...a nation of cowards." trying to figure out the code. Also, "...do not talk with each other...", which does not say conversation, but "with each other" implies, to me, conversation. Now, I would be willing to have a conversation about race in the USA, but assume it would be open to many races, however, McWhorter suggest AG Holder means that only one race is allowed to freely expresses opinions. That I am not interested in.

    Is Prof. McWhorter's interperting what another means out of line, or is he addressing a structure that will enhance understanding in multiple directions? Is he required to conform with others of his race in opinions, or is he allowed the freedom to express as he sees fit that so many have invested their lives to protect?

    Bailout was the wrong word to use! Stimulious is suppose to make us feel better? The top managers of failed institutions must be keep on board, with huge bonusus they are use to, because they are only ones that know how 'the'ir system works!
    Gemme a break! All of the above are CODED to soften or hide the real meaning.
    Mich & Fla cannot vote until after pre-chosen states because of rules CODED--it means The DNP might lose control of the election!

    So you think you want a conversation...you can't handle a conversation!

    Respectfully,
    Billy Bob

    One thing that can be done to help improve racial relations in the United States is to stop exterminating racial minorities through womb-lynching by organizations like Planned Parenthood.

    If America realizes that the lynching of African Americans never stopped but actually skyrocketed in number, we can come even closer to racial reconciliation (the percentage of blacks aborted is substantially higher than the percentage in the population of America at large).

    We must confront the beliefs of the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. In 1929, she wrote the following.

    "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." (emphasis added)

    There is already radically real racial reconciliation happening in the pro-life movement. Black, Whites, Asians, and all races have come together, like the original abolitionists, to proclaim that like African Americans, preborn humans are also persons made in the image and likeness of God that have a right to life from conception.

    G. McClain

    I must strongly disagree with John McWhorter on several points.

    First, race is more than Black and White. Hence a discussion on race includes all races and the structuring of race in the United States.

    Second, Mr. McWhorter acknowledges "institutional racism" and then notes it is so deeply embedded that it will not change within "geological time." Unfathomably, he then says that this is not significant. Institutional racism is significant, and it does not exist in isolation from cultural racism and personal bigotry. The proof of this is the loud protests from many Whites whenever there are attempts address institutional racism. Institutional racism and cultural racism mutually reinforce each other and do not exist in isolation from each other. Further, I am not sure how he can acknowledge the institutionalized nature of white privilege and then say race is not a significant issue.

    I found Mr. McWhorter's statement regarding what he would say to Eric Holder regarding a conversation on race offensive and minimizing. He stated: "Are you afraid of us really having to take responsibility for ourselves?" In essence he was stating that those who are trying to address racism are using to avoid personal responsibility. That is an inexcusable argument.

    I am sure that many people - particularly whites - heaved a sigh of relief at McWhorter's statements that race is no longer important and we are beyond all that.

    Devide and conquer is as old as the universe its self.

    Man has been looking for those alien being from another world to invade our earth and wage war on us.

    Well they are here and their warfare is to sucessfuly pit humans against each other to fight and kill one another and any reason will sufice. If you look different, dress talk, walk, diferently.

    Humans deluded to think that because they were born this or that is reason for boasting on their part, when no human has ever cause their own birth.

    No human has ever chosen his or her gender, nor their ethnicity, we are only foolish enough to allow the enemies of all humanity the use of these things for our own destruction.

    Satan could care less if we are black or white, male or female, his desire is for the destruction of us all.

    And before humans coined the fraze "by any means necessary." He and his cohorts were adroit at deception. Satan had convinced a third of angels to rebell againt God.

    Making fools out of humans is, as we say child's play.
    satan enjoy's our folly, and say's to God "these things are created in your image and likeness, and you would prefer them to me?"

    Paul Farmer is the name of the doctor you describe, Irene. His organization is called Partners in Health. He works around the world,and in the USA, mainly against HIV and TB. He's a no-nonsense guy when it comes to the human right to health care. Tracy Kidder wrote a book about him:"Mountains Beyond Mountains." He has been on 60 Minutes and Democracy Now and has written his own books about world public health failure. His plan is to empower the poor to assist in the delivery of their own health care. This has profound implications for the professional hierarchy of medicine in the US now that we are becoming so poor too, and are such delusional liars and hypocrites when it comes to our own public health.
    People are denied the option to care for themselves because of structural violence imposed by those who stand to profit from scarcity, ignorance and suffering. Just like dolphins caught with the tuna, our doctors are drowning in the same fascist net. It's like they put the health of insurance companies and drug companies ahead of human health, and that's truly crazy. People are almost ready for national single payer just as global single payer universal care is called for.

    I wish I had a doctor willing to dig a ditch to save lives. Billy Bob is no Albert Schweitzer. Colorblindness might be a good policy in choosing a surgeon.

    Divide and conquer: Ageism and racism. Some poor losers adopt the mindset and language of their overlords.

    It is the young minority men Nazified police murder. The prisons are populated for profit mostly by young colored faces. It takes most Americans half their life to get beyond the "success ethic" and realize there are other rewarding paths besides a recording contract or a sports contract. They dream falsely and by age 30 wake up to the truth. Most people aged 40 and older were once young and deceived.

    It might be a good thing if vocational and professional education were targeted to those 30 and older.

    Eric Holder has his perceptual limitations, but he sees the statistics of real discrimination and does not deny our structural problem: that we are floating in a sea of racist manipulation fostered by the oligarchy.

    Poor white failures can't blame systemic racism for what "the Man" has done to them. They have to make a show of blaming fellow victims of a different color. They know instinctively not to blame their "betters" who make the rules. In their hearts they blame themselves. That's unhealthy. Hence, a visit to their ethnically Asian physicians.

    Billy Bob is shovel-ready in several senses.

    The under 30 blacks don't understand why the old 40s, 50s, 60s, ranting continue today.

    Mean while, the 2nd largest race segment has, inspite of language barriers, low wage jobs, etc., overcome, risen above, gotten on with it, without blaming events that happened decades (centuries) ago--they just got on with it.

    Can they be part of the 'conversation' about race? What about Asians, can they be included? Maybe the AG just meant blacks. What code was he using? The African-American Code? The all enclusive code?

    Why can't we all just....
    say what we mean?

    Billy Bob, had 43 white Presidents & look where I am today... I'm still digging ditches. How is that fair?

    Mr. McWhorter is making a common mistake, he is viewing his personal life experience with that of all blacks. His personal life experience is unique, amongst all people, and has little relevance to the issue at hand, thus, he views the black experience through rose colored glasses. Mr. McWhoter hasn't received the racist jokes that I've received, he hasn't sat in meetings to evaluate candidates where the tone is decidedly, that candidate is wrong, she won't work as hard as... I am a white male and my exposure to racism in today's world is significant, period. So, if I hear the trashy comments, and I see the behaviors, why don't these conservative pundits? The answer is they do, and we are playing a verbal game that allows us to ignore the issue at hand. By the way, Mr. McWhorter could use a lesson in communication (hard to believe it for a linguist). No one had to "educate" me that the chimp was Mr. Obama, and the disingenuous claims that it wasn't deeply disturb me.

    I have already made this posting on to websites/pages:

    at The New Republic website, which can be found at: http://www.tnr.com/talkback.html?id=ce688a73-1019-485c-886f-7bbbda916e11.

    at the Flickr® THIRTEEN/WNET Looking For Lincoln Group, which can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/groups_newtopic.gne?id=1011202@N21

    “Before critiquing the comments of Attorney General Eric Holder, delivered at the Department of Justice’s African American History Month Program held on February 18, 2009, I wish to say I have found Dr. John McWhorter to be one of the leading scholars working in the popular electronic media today. I first came upon his brilliance, when I withdrew from my local library his lectures in DVD format, produced by the Teaching Company, as part of its Great Courses series, entitled The Story of Human Language, which can be found at: www.teach12.com/ttcx/CourseDescLong2.aspx?cid=1600.

    I had no idea how the artful study of linguistics could unfold the dynamic narrative of human history.

    Now, I find I can agree with Dr. McWhorter that Americans converse about the nature of racism in America year-round. Evidently, Mr. Holder is not a faithful PBS viewer. If he was, he would have known all about the documentary entitled, Looking For Lincoln, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It aired on my local PBS channel on February 11, 2009, the week before Mr. Holder delivered his controversial challenge. If so, he could have watched Dr. Gates, Ph.D., a black man from Harvard, and Dr. David Blight, Ph.D., a white man from Yale, opine over the racism of Abraham Lincoln.

    If the Attorney General was looking for an audacious discussion on racism in America, what better way to initiate such a dialogue, than to explore the “infamous meeting” at the White House of August 14, 1862 in depth?

    I am ready to do so. I will assert that on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, Dr. Gates has done President Lincoln a great injustice on two counts. First, he gave short shrift to Mr. Lincoln’s pro forma advocacy of the notion colonialization, which we know he deemed infeasible, and to his full intentions pertinent to the “infamous meeting" of August 14, 1862 and his hope for the relations between blacks and whites in America, then and now.

    Secondly, by inexplicably omitting Mr. Lincoln’s storied walk through the streets of Richmond, on April 4, 1865, from his documentary, Dr. Gates failed to tell the entire story of President Lincoln‘s illustrative journey towards national emancipation.

    And so, I cannot escape the feeling that Dr. Gates has conducted himself more like that of a used car salesman, than a professional historian, as he chronicled Lincoln’s political life with the whiz and flare of a bait-and-switch artist. Lincoln’s views on race reflect the social sentiments of most white Americans from the founding through the nadir of race relations in America that went well into the 1900s, as Lerone Bennett‘s early own life paradoxically points out. We cannot indict Lincoln for his earliest views on the inequality of the races, without indicting American society for the past 400 years.

    Indeed, it is fair to interpret that Jefferson’s liberating ideas on human equality were derived from the needs of all people and not their innate faculties. Illuminated in this light, Lincoln believed that the Declaration of Independence of the United States applied to all people, throughout his adult life. Why else did Lincoln refuse to let the slave states secede from the Union?

    On thoughtful reflection, it should surprise no one that Lincoln realized most white Americans would not accept blacks as their equals for a hundred years following emancipation. Sadly, did not history ultimately prove him right? It has been said that Lincoln’s greatest attribute as a politician was his ability to see things as the truly were.

    In the end, blacks have fought for racial respect for more than a century after Lincoln’s martyrdom. Notwithstanding the limits of his direct experience with African-Americans, prior to his presidency, blacks have had no greater friend than Abraham Lincoln, throughout the annals of American History. If only he had lived, we would most surely have come out of Reconstruction a more united and equitable nation.

    Not until the last years of the Civil War - as hundreds of thousands of freed blacks demonstrated their love for this country and risked their lives in mortal combat for its preservation - did Lincoln’s affinity towards black Americans transcend stereotypical racism. It was only after what David Blight called that “infamous meeting of August 1862” on the feasibility of colonialization did Lincoln learn first-hand how much American blacks loved this country and were prepared to make a go out of living freely, if not equally, along side American whites. Until then, given how they had been so mistreated, what reason would he have had to believe that they would really wish to do so?

    Six weeks later, on September 22, 1882, President Lincoln released the Emancipation Proclamation.

    With all that was revealed about the man, no image of Lincoln was more provocative than that of the statue of “Father Abraham the Great Emancipator,” which depicts a black man bowing on his knees before Lincoln. Given the racial sensitivities of our era, it is difficult not to be a little mortified by this image. Yet, we need to remember this statue represents an accurate historic event. To my mind, this scene glorifies the day Lincoln risked his life to joyfully walk along the streets of Richmond, Virginia, among a jubilant crowd of blacks, who had been enslaved only hours before.

    It would have been only fair and right to have quoted the President, who said to the man who kneeled before him - that he should stand up and kneel only to God, to whom he should give his thanks for his liberty. In this instant, the spirit of Lincoln’s humanity shown through eternally. And so it is that Father Abraham emancipated every American, who would follow him!

    And, where will race relations be, should Barack Obama become one of the greatest presidents in American History, will we finally look upon the motivational needs of the poor and the undereducated, without regard to race?


    I am suprised that a man of Mr.Mc Whorter's intelligence would not understand that there is no such thing as race. We are all one people. Since the beginning of human kind African women have givin birth to albino children. White people are Black people too without melinin. Brown people are albino and black. Since before the ice-age people have migrated "out of Africa" to other lands developing similiar languages and cultures. I wish America would stop the race "thing" and try to appreciate alternate cultures.

    Like most shows on Race. Whites are the ones that have to admit. Funny thing is nobody ever confronts the fact that blacks are racist too. Maybe more so, maybe not. But that is not a P.C thing to say or even discuss. Maybe when blacks and black organized groups, churches, political groups can admit blacks are JUST as. Then maybe there can be a real conversation.
    Here is a interesting comment for you when a plane crashes and there are 150 people killed is it reported how many are black or white?
    I for one do not think humans can ever get to that point.

    As a white person, my view of racial relations in the USA will depend on the interaction I have with the next non-white person I encounter, probably in my town.

    Maybe I will develop a new friendship. Maybe I won't make a connection. That's the way it goes, with anyone I meet.

    I find it difficult to tag a whole segment of our population by generalized or stereotyped ideas; or, by a history that I haven’t experienced.

    As to the first question posed, people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds already have conversations about race. In NYC it is difficult not to have this conversation on a daily basis. For instance, as a commuter on the subway, where the population is varied in socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, age and racial terms, people of all backgrounds are very frank. I hear racist, ethnic, homophobic, ageist, slurs and threats against me or others regularly, sometimes on a daily basis. It is not just white people who hurl the slurs. People of color are capable of being just as nasty as the whites during the civil rights era. I say this because I have been the recipient many times over throughout my life in NYC. It is everyone hurling it at each other. Is this a conversation? I think so because there is a back and forth, it is just not a nice conversation. I also hear genuinely innocent queries about what "your people eat," or what "your people do." That sets up a conversation...a strange one anyway, because it is as if I am the one from another planet. When I do not fit into their construct of what an (insert ethnicity, race or gender here)is, I see their wide-eyed expression frozen as if their brains are imploding. Yes, this really does happen in 2009. I wish I could live in the post-racial world that Mr. McWhorter lives in. I probably could if I surrounded myself with Mr. McWhorter's "knee-jerk liberal" friends. I found it odd how he could categorize his friends as "knee-jerk liberals" because that term is typically used in a negative way.

    I believe these "conversations" can be constructive. What would help significantly is if the public were given factual news instead of biased news everywhere we turn. That would be a start. I have seen too many news personalities on ALL the networks make overtly racist statements and gestures. And I would be glad to list them and have a discussion about them. So I was surprised that Mr. McWhorter stated that "overt expressions of bigotry are now socially proscribed." It is in fact the opposite because for immigrants and other minorities, it is "open season," it goes unchecked and it is accepted. Which leads to my next issue with Mr. McWhorter's positions on having "idle" conversations about race.

    Mr. McWhorter essentially stated that the NAACP has better things to do than complain about a chimpanzee cartoon. After all, Mr. McWhorter stated, "In 1909 when the organization started ...we needed to deal with some bigotry and racism...Black men were hanging from trees...That's what it was like in 1959. But this is 2009." Again, how do I get to this post-racial world Mr. McWhorter lives in? Just last week in 2009, police finally caught a man that beat an Ecuadorian immigrant to death as he made racist, homophobic and ethnic slurs. This racist did not develop this anti-immigrant sentiment in a vacuum. He is not alone either in 2009 in harboring this sentiment. You only need to tune into CNN or FOX cable news to validate your hatred against a particular group except whites. It was made clear that a pulic image of immigrants, in this case those from Latin America,successfully dehumanized an innocent person. The Sucuzhany (Sp?) murder is not an isolated incident. Therefore, it was socially irresponsible for Mr. McWhorter to state, "There is a chance I suppose of a cartoon...might strike a critical mass of white people to go burn down an all black town. There is a chance of that. I think it's so small..." Stereotypical caricatures of how people view another group of people is a powerful image when the forum, a newspaper is so powerful. The chance is not small that violence may be ignited. In fact, it is very likely. By stating what he did, Mr. McWhorter flippantly dismissed probably the life long work of Phillip Goff, the psychologist quoted by Mr. Moyers.

    In 2009, I am still the target of racial and sexual slurs and threats. It is grating and distracting when it happens regularly. What about my right to pursue happiness or to be left alone? Most whites do not worry about having slurs thrown at them that day along with their morning coffee. I am an American, why do I have to "ignore" it like a second class citizen. The attitude protrayed by the slurs or epithets filter into the workplace, into our homes through the television and internet. For some it is not 1959, but for too many it still is. I applaud Eric Holder for being brave enough to use his position to address the still existing inequities. I said brave because anytime someone brings it up, they get jeered. It needed to be ignited because there is too much hate speech going unchecked in our public and private forums. Contrary to what most people think, you can not use the first amendment as a shield to incite violence. The haters use the constitution as a shield and continue to denigrate and dehumanize adults and children that incites violence or exclusion of them. The cartoons, gestures, caricatures, and the hate speech are filled with inaccuracies that do not advance society. Ignoring it does not advance society. It fuels hatred, exclusion and violence so how can anyone say "sticks and stones...we have more important things to do?" I agree we need the better educate people, people need jobs... but that doesn't mean another important aspect of our lives need to be put on hold. People who advance stereotypes need to be set straight and told that their behavior will not be tolerated. If they had their time to display their hate speech, we have the time to give protestors a forum. There's a conversation, a back and forth as opposed to hate-filled rhetoric. I agree with Mr. McWhorter, human beings inherently stereotype to survive. For instance if a guy is acting like he is going to attack you. But stereotyping all Black people for instance, are muggers helps no one. Aside from it being an outrageous and idiotic stereotype. It is this latter type of stereotyping that we "knee-jerk liberals" pounce on.

    The NAACP had completed a research study on the advertising industry and found minority leadership missing. Advertising, news, public relations agencies, and government officials have a powerful voice and it should be used responsibly. The NAACP was right, when in its sophistication deemed the chimpanzee cartoon racist and spoke out against it. Mr. McWhorter stated on his blog video that the artist who drew the cartoon "pushed the envelope." The Post also has a staff writer who wrote a book called, A Case for Internment. There NEVER is a case for internment of any group of people! When the cartoon is put into the context of the paper, the racism was blatant. Even Mr. Moyers did not see the link to President Obama because I wonder if Mr. Moyers ever reads the Post. I do not read the Post but someone next to me on the subway was reading it and I started reading along out of curiosity. Whoa! Pure venom against Michelle Obama.

    In my opinion the amazing thing about Bill Moyers as a journalist is that he can expose an individual's true personality and fears just by the way that he conducts the interview. It is a beautiful thing to see. ( I am obviously a big fan) His journalism has such pure intent that as he uses it as an art form no one who encounters it can avoid the truth of its power. Excuse me but it sort of reads like a super hero adventure.
    "Using the power of his pure art form Mr. Moyers without even a hint of exertion exposed Mr. McWhorter as being either someone who really needs attention or someone who has been wounded by racism so badly that it has set up a bad case of denial." Of course, there are a lot of things that we need to talk about in this country. We are citizens and neighbors, who are always claiming to be so spiritual, Right? We can beat anybody in the world 'goin to church'. How can you claim any religion and then justify racism, ageism, sexism and any other form of bigotry. I am happy to say that I am an African-American and I have some white friends who are really serious about facing their racist indoctrination and white privilege issues. This is all done in a spiritual setting and with guidelines for courtesy and respect. These things seem to be spiritual issues that we all should take on with pure hearts and open minds there can't be any finger pointing but we do need to learn how to talk about it together honestly and frankly. In order to talk about racism,sexism, ageism and bigotry in our society then these things can't be within the church.

    Hearing a conservative linguist misinterpret what Eric Holder said is insufferable, just as much as hearing conservative politicians lecture other people on fiscal discipline. For the past 30 years, so called conservatives have saddled American English with such intentionally misleading terms as "pro-life", "activist judges", "compassionate conservative", and even "conservative" itself. Their slogans have been so prolific that Huffington Post memorialized them in posters. Coded language is integral to the political right because without misleading language, the right can't win the support of most voters.

    John McWhorter shows a key characteristic of the right, projecting the right's worst excesses (misuse of language in this case) onto political opponents.

    I don't understand John Whorter. After watching him on your show the other night I was very disappointed. How can a man of his intelligence not realize that we are all the same hu-mans. Color does not determine a persons abilities or disibilities. We are all out of Africa. Hasn't Mr. McWhorter ever heard of albino.com. Since the beginning of man African women have been birthing albino children. Kings dispersed the people by color. Living in various environments initiated cultural differences.
    I wish President Obama would change this whole "race" thing. We are Melanchroes (black), leucohroes (white) and phrenycohroes(brown) people from Africa. Its high time America began to accept cultural awarness.

    Thank goodness that Bill asked the question he did at the end because that clarifies a lot. McWhorter really does think that Eric Holder is ONLY talking about racism and not race.

    This is to me a fundamental misreading of what AG Holder said.

    I certainly did not hear Eric Holder's words to be a call to listen to blacks lecture whites. Maybe John has been listenin to the honkies at the MI too much. No, I heard Holder's statement to apply BOTH to blacks and whites.

    And he is so wrong when he says, "there is a certain kind of outcome that is desired."

    I am white, and that is just NOT TRUE for me and how I heard AG Holder. I want a FULL BODIED potentially extremely UNCOMFORTABLE conversation. Uncomfortable not just because I expect to be lectured to by blacks.

    No, not at all.

    Rather, I expect a dialogue.

    I think JM is projecting MAJORILY here.

    He said that just because the elites want to talk about race we should not because poor people are still poor. Beh! Behbehbehbeh, BEH!

    Again, WHY IN THE WORLD DOES HE ASSUME THAT HOLDER MEANT THAT HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE WOULD SOLVE POVERTY PROBLEMS?????

    Ok, breathe, breathe.

    Does he not think we can talk about race and deal with poverty at the same time? Why the false choice, John? Why, whywhywhywhy??

    This is it in a nutshell: why is a conversation about RACE to him a conversation about RACISM? That is not what I heard in Holder's comments. At all.

    His commentary about the conversation about racism is interesting. I just don't think it has ANYTHING to do with what Holder said.

    Why didn't he - LISTEN?

    Finally, how in the world does he equate Jena, La with macaca? How?

    I thoroughly enjoyed your discussion with Dr. McWhorter in regard to discussions this Country needs to continue to have regarding racism. My only reservation is that racism wasn't the only challenge facing the electorate in 2008; sexism was more prevalent, less covert, and more accepted by the masses. It has been very difficult for many of us to accept the outcome of the Democratic Primaries because of how sensitive everyone was in regard to the racism conversation and how sexist behavior was completely encouraged. When did it become OK to rank discrimination of any kind and perpetuate the one that didn't make it to the top of the list? Dr. McWhorter believes that most who are unhappy about the outcome of the election this year is due mainly because of President Obama's race. For many, it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the most experienced potential candidate (who happened to be female and won the popular vote) being lambasted by the media and overcome by an inexperienced male individual. You may see this election as historic, but for women of any race, it was the same status quo.

    I enjoyed your discussion with Mr. McWhorter. He is undoubtedly a really smart guy. Perhaps his "get over it" attitude about race will move us toward better education, child care, economic development and job opportunities in our Black Communities. But I doubt it.

    As a white, baby-boomer male living in a deep red state, I can attest that racism is deeply entrenched. And the only way to deal with it is to discuss it without cowardice.

    My view of this Country is more Chomskian and Loewenesqe than most. But a self-critical (how do we conduct ourselves on this planet) look in the mirror is always in order. Often times what we see looking back at us is pretty ugly. But that self-awareness (I've come to it late in life) I believe makes us better people and more capable of being truly compassionate.

    When it comes to injustice in any form, I refuse to "just get over it". Because maybe, and it may be a long shot, some of my friends and family will actually listen to this old guy and have a learning experience that will change them for the better. A that I believe could change the world for the better.

    I can't recall when we didn't talk about race. We can't get beyond stereotypes, for a number of reasons, including media's reinforcement of those stereotypes. Today, the namby-pamby, privileged, butt-kissing white person is a popular stereotype. If a person of color is poor, it is because of racial discrimination. If a white person is poor, it is because that person is
    simply "white trash".

    All of which keeps us from focusing on the issue that is central of our greatest problems today: Class. Does anyone really believe that a corporation cares about the color of the people they exploit? There are plenty of "loopholes" that keep low wage workers, who are overwhelmingly female, in poverty.

    Having recently watched the documentary produced by Alexandra Pelosi, I am astounded at McWhorter's cavalier attitude toward race in this country. Pelosi followed the McCain campaign throughout the South and the intensity of revulsion and hate by whites toward Obama in particular, and blacks in general, shocked me (an 80 year-old who has seen it all!).

    Professor McWhorter uses intellectual dishonesty when he states that he engages in "a conversation about race". He does not disclose that his part in the conversation is skewed toward the libertarian view. A view that expresses the belief that the Government has no place in creating a level playing field for all its citizens. In so doing he denies that without governmental legislation his right to vote would be denied him as it was, at one time, denied to any citizen who wasn't white, male and land owning. His rhetoric is riddled with this sort of contradiction. He in one breath states he agrees that it is appalling that there is a disproportionate number of blacks in US prisons, but in the another breath states that the NAACP's activism was necessary when there was lynching, but is less necessary now and that they need to engage more in community building, suggesting that racism plays no part in the high rate of blacks being incarcerated. Here, as in his writing, he suggests that there is no connection between the disarray in black communities and racism. This links to his libertarian beliefs that there is a certain level of genetic inferiority in some humans and the Government has no place in taking care of those who can't take care of themselves other than locking them up to separate them from the rest of "us".

    Too often people who have achieved great success dismiss both the idea of protesting modern racism and any who disagree (as McWhorter does, suggesting it is General Holder who is “afraid” of policy debate without a racial component). That is a song that the privileged have sung to those still rocking the boat on race or women’s rights or the plight of working people as long as we’ve all been in this one together. Thankfully Americans don’t care much for that sort of lullaby. We gain nothing as a country by pretending all things being equal all things are now equal when they still are not or declare our work finished because we have had a great day.

    We can and should celebrate the awe-inspiring triumph over institutionalized racism embodied by the President of the United States. It is a great victory for our country and every American. That does not mean we stop educating those who unintentionally use hurtful or damaging stereotypes, or stop calling out those who use slurs, direct or implied, as weapons. When those bad sheep, so to speak, are featured in or own, big media there is nothing clever about ignoring what terrible mouths they have and what damage they can do. Another lesson we have recently re-learned is that a small determined group can quickly destroy the gains of an entire nation if we are not paying close attention.

    This necessary and frank dialogue on “race” is the only way to hasten the day when it isn’t that we aren’t sure if it is possible to have it in anything but a celebratory context –it just won’t come up.

    In the beginning of my life, code words controlled the language about race, but it was not black people who spoke them. Many year later when my introduction to the internet this was still the case. I began to pay attention to the so called conservatives and libertarian speech, even the GOPs; more code words. I also noticed that Mr. McWhorter often fell into the same language. He might understand linguistics from a technical view, but has no understanding of the power of the bigots code words; where they have caused the mob and murder. That cartoon I thought was not only disrespectful to the Chimpanzee's victim, but had implied that the president was a monkey. Apparently some in Florida thought the same when they placed a book about monkeys among a display of books about President Obama. I wonder how this will inspire other racist actions. This why we need a conversation. To stop glossing over crap like McWhorter's, he doesn't have a clue. If all blacks were perfect with racism present, there's always the potential for a race war.

    Mr. McWhorter should study, and use, "rhetoric" if he wishes to make a difference through improvement in the problems of our society.

    I understood McWhorter to be saying that while we can, and actually have been having "conservations on race" none of these conversations will come to much unless the racist SYSTEMS of our society are changed, ie, bad schools in black and latino neighborhoods, poverty, etc.

    I think there was some misdirection in his comments, which is ironic, seeing as how he's a linguist, but that being his overall point, I agree with him. (However, I do agree that racist cartoons, etc., should be called out.) But ultimately he's right - should we be more worried about cartoons than the country's schools or incarceration rates? Why must we focus on momentary lapses rather than long-term, ongoing racist societal problems?

    He could have made his case a bit better....

    John McWhorter made an interesting case for the point of view that racism in Americans' minds is far from the most serious problem we have in this country, but he almost entirely talked past the issue of racism in American geography and institutions. Doesn't a "frank conversation about race" have to devote significant time to the inequities in public education in communities across this nation, especially in our urban areas, caused in roughly equal proportion by reliance on property tax revenues (not a matter of racism) and by residential segregation (absolutely a matter of racism)? In the city of Chicago, for instance, the average black child lives in a neighborhood that's 95 to 100 percent black and attends a school whose studen population is 99 to 100 percent black. Did Brown v. Board of Ed come with an expiration date? How could Mr. Moyers and Mr. McWhorter claim to have had a frank and courageous conversation about race without ever exploring this question?

    It is not a coincidence that the President, the Attorney General and Mr. McWhorter are light skinned and all have the same facial features that we associate with white people.
    In fact the President is as much white as he is black,but these points were conveniently ignored. It makes a difference.

    These people who say that Everyone wants free lunch. I see it as inferiority complex when someone says that the only way to get over race issues is by pointing the finger and saying that the reason why Blacks are in the situation they are is because of the "white" man. Well, if that's the case, why are conservative Blacks not in the same boat? "Conversations about race and racism" create only inferiority complexes. McWhorter is right. It's probably about time that these people picked up the Bible and learned something from Jesus' teachings. It is only by changing the way you think that you'll see the world differently and you can free yourselves of these complexes and blaming everyone else for your misfortunes or disadvantages. Remember, there is no free lunch, every one pays.

    Jane Armbruster, in her fine post just below, reminded me of the one further assertion I too wanted to make against McWhorter. He claimed that AG Holder's statement is a "coded" demand that white people accept black people castigating them. I'm going for the vernacular this time: on that, McWhorter is full of crap. It means no such thing. His belief that it does is evidence of his disordered thinking, and that of his clan of political "thinkers."

    I'm old enough to remember from childhood the signs on drinking fountains, bathroom doors and the walls of waiting rooms. Instinctively, I knew this discrimination was wrong, although I didn't personally suffer from it. I feel the same away about what's still happening today to homosexuals -- and about certain lingering injustices that affect ethnic minorities and a group within which I do fall: women.

    These are ALL conversations that we need to keep having, precisely BECAUSE they haven't moved us yet to become a nation that guarantees full equality.

    Your guest, Mr. Moyers, did all who are disserved a further disservice by suggesting that such conversations are perverted by having such a goal. The idea isn't just to talk for the sake of talking, but with the aim of awakening -- of finally seeing oneself in one another.

    I believe that Attorney General Holder was fundamentally correct in his assessment of our national conversations about "race." I think Mr. McWhorter too quickly dismissed Mr. Holder's comments as a coded way of stating that all white Euro-Americans (like me) should shut up and listen while African-Americans air their historic grievances. I think Mr. McWhorter has missed an opportunity to help create a productive conversation about "race." In so doing, he has underscored the validity of Mr. Holder's statement.

    I would like to talk about "race", beginning with these propositions:

    1. There is one "race"--human.

    2. U.S. history includes discrimination against groups of people whose skin colors are other than "white," including indigenous Americans, Africans, Asians, South and Latin Americans. It includes discrimination against "white" people of European origins, particularly when they were new or recent immigrants.

    3. Our national history lives in us. As William Faulkner put it--'The past is not dead; it isn't even the past.'


    These comments, it seems to me, should be about McWhorter and what he said, but since the editorial cartoon about the Stimulus Bill-writing chimp keeps coming up, I have a comment on its publication.

    Editorial cartooning has a long history, about which books and collections have been published. Any experienced, published editorial cartoonist would be expected to know something of this history, as would any editor selecting it for publication.

    In this history, black people were long represented as apes and various sub-human variations on that theme (as have been Irish and Jews, among others, showing that it doesn't simply pertain to skin color). Any cursory reading of this history would leave the reader with many examples. It is inconceivable that the cartoonist and the editor were unaware of this (although I can imagine they were stupid or shallow enough not to have thought about it). I doubt that they actually endorse the historical belief that these other "races" actually are subhuman, but the image connected with words about the Stimulus Bill simply can't be ignored. Rationalize or minimize it as apologists may, or "apologize" for its "offensiveness" as they may, what they can't do is explain away the racist history of this imagery. It is there, plain and simple. It is there with an image of assassination.

    To deny that those themes are implicit in the publication of the cartoon is to be ignorant or malicious. Those ignorant of history may be condemned to repeat it. They should seek to broaden their knowledge before spouting off.

    It doesn't deserve apology so much as it deserves explanation (and renunciation). What could they have been thinking?

    McWhorter isn't that ignorant of history. What could he have been thinking?

    I've written reviews of two of McWhorter's books, and a written interview at Blogcritics.org. The interview was about his latest book. I know he is in the think tank for his prescient views on race and his books on race matters.

    However, I could not fully agree with his assessment. He says that racism in America is an undone deal. And talking about things such as the monkey cartoon, just don't help. True, but ignoring it does not help either.

    I was inspired to write a blog about how blacks are treated and fare on reality shows. I used Trump's upcoming celebrity apprentice as a pretext.

    I think that when and if blacks are "equals" and treated by whites on these shows the way that whites treat members of their own "tribe" then I will believe in that dreaded phrase "post-racial society," which I do not subscribe to. I put equals in quotes because a member of my family who is indistinugishable from white, but is black, knows whereof he speaks when he says that whites do not see blacks, or anyone, as their equal. No such white belief exists. If you don't believe me go into an inner city school and count the white kids. I promise you I won't take long. Perhaps Obama's election will level the field a bit.

    I think the test for America is on TV, in plain sight on reality shows. I suggest black folks stay away from reality, really.

    Heloise

    I was surprised to hear Moyers say he couldn’t see the correlation between the cartoon and Obama. “The South” has been referring to African-Americans as monkeys and jungle-bunnies in their cartoons and jokes for decades.

    When I first saw the drawing, I agree with Moyers, it was vulgar. But when I read the caption, “…write the next stimulus bill,” I immediately thought of Obama, racism, and violence. Seeing how Obama signed the stimulus bill the day before the cartoon was published, how could I have not thought of him?

    The NY Post said the cartoon was in reference to the chimpanzee attack in Connecticut, but what does the stimulus bill have to do with it? Seeing how the NY Post is owned by Murdock, you know they used racism for political reasons (the same way the Nazis used the Jews).

    So with Moyers’ age and experience, how could he have not seen the correlation? Maybe he was playing devil’s advocate to conduct his interview. Or, maybe this was his way of taking a jab at the NAACP and Sharpton? Almost everyone knows Sharpton will play the race card at the drop of a hat. I guess when you cry wolf all the time, people resent your cause even when you’re right.

    Everything is seen in the context of the viewer. I just wanted to point out that, even though I only saw that cartoon for a few seconds, "racism" was NOT the first thing that came to mind. I thought it was a play on that old joke of "enough monkeys at typewriters will eventually write Shakespeare." IE: Now that we're down a monkey, the solution to the monetary crisis will never be found (because the humans certainly don't know how to deal with it!). Did we ever hear what the cartoonist meant by it? So many people of every color these days seem to take offense at the slightest thing -- how can we EVER have a dialogue if we can't find a common language? Or if we never give the other person a chance to explain?

    Having been censored twice I have stopped my long winded arguments for a better world.

    Race:

    I don't give a damn about the color of a white mans skin.

    I don't give a damn about the color of a black mans skin.

    I wish both races would get over themselves.

    If it is OK with white and black people I do not care to discuss race along with a lot of other subjects now causing division in our country.

    But most of all I wish Jews would stop bringing up the fact that they are the chosen people of God and I wish Black People would let Slavery die.

    The fact is Jews aren't the chosen people of God only of themselves and Black People aren't the only Slaves in this world.

    The bottom 90% of the US population has not had a raise since 1973 and also have lost their health benefits, their pensions, and their 401-K's. They are badly educated and all the good skilled jobs have been sent overseas along with manufacturing and we the US are Slaves in a third world country with unemployment and a failed Financial System to show for our efforts.

    We are all Slaves. All the US Citizens who pay taxes and get nothing from the Government are and have been Slaves and have failed to know it.

    We all suffer under the whip of the pluralist dictatorship of Congress and we will remain slaves as long as those now in power stay in power.

    With John McWhorter (or maybe without him), I wish he would be invited as a linguist. Even at that, while agreeing with him I begin to disagree: Of course language is evolving, but it wasn't ossified in a book of grammar in the 19th century for no reason. One outcome is for the prestige which can then be claimed by those (now "conservatives," or, variously, intellectual elites) who could afford "proper" education, so that social stratification could proceed as in Britain. A more rational, important reason was for the stabilization of rules of symbolic logic, which was useful to the standardization of education and the progress of industrialization. None of this would be news to McWhorter, but now many of us want the language to be freed to develop more organically, apparently including him. But for him, if I recall, our language should not progress enlivened by Ebonics, or only with restrictions, right? Not a breath of fresh air via HipHop. Right? How would he match up with Singing for Change? (Disclosure: obviously I hold that I've been enriched by Ebonics, and we all could be.)

    This is in preference to your having McWhorter as commentator on matters of "race." There, as usual, I hear him finding some flaky liberal examples and erecting a straw man which he then proceeds to critique. I hear him justifying rightist fellow-travelers while speaking of "centrists." Perhaps he could represent these views in a debate, but as an "expert" commentator he is like a Holocaust denier.

    He has something wrong with him, and as is usual in his circles, it is characterized by a peculiar, subtle intellectual dishonesty (or thought disorder). I am sure this is not a deliberate, conscious strategy. I suspect it derives from the defense "mechanism" of denial, not from logic. (Logic becomes a rhetorical tool, while obstructiveness kicks in when he is confronted with dissonant facts or trains of reason. The personality is oppositional. Cognition is distorted in these people by paranoid traits, manifested by unsmiling hostility and accusations, such as the attribution of "political correctness.") I suspect that in McWhorter it reveals a distaste for being identified by others with African-American culture (in distinction to the inevitable discussion aid of "race," Bill - please stay clear that prejudicial hostility obtains toward people who practice African-American culture as well as, and differently than, toward people with dark skins). That last is okay; it's his own business. It becomes a misleading problem for the rest of us when he engages in a bunch of purportedly reasonable argumentation on behalf of "conservative" supposed truths, in defense of his own identity.

    I'm sorry I can't devote the intellectual rigor here necessary to draw this out adequately, so I have to leave these as assertions of my opinion. I believe it can be demonstrated persuasively, though, and that journalistic encounters with him should be alert to it.

    It was nice that you could have a congenial visit, Bill, but I don't understand how we are improved by indulgent acceptance of his straw men.

    (In these comments, I second many others, especially Chris Baron, Christina Forbes, and some I haven't gotten to.)

    Like many, I was disappointed that Mr. Moyers chose to have a conversation with this particular man. I grew up in the segregated south and in the segregated south side of Chicago. Today, I am a lawyer -- the first black partner at my large law firm, and after 20 years, still the only black lawyer. I do not have serious conversations with people of other races about white/black relations. I fear that I could not contain my unexpressed anger at my treatment, my isolation and the ignorance of those who have not been taught the history of blacks in America or of race relations in this country and who therefore do not understand how that history has operated to keep many oppressed even today. Still, focusing exclusively on the past will not enable us to correct the situation in which we find ourselves today. But, like the Truth and Reconciliation forums established in South Africa, a genuine dialog is perhaps the catalyst that would finally allow us to breathe, ok, now what. But Holder is right, we do not have those conversations. How can I have a rational conversation with someone who does not see that perhaps ghettoes exist in part because of past and current housing discrimination; that perhaps educational disparities can be traced to housing discrimination, and the consequences of school funding derived from property taxes, which circles back to housing discrimination; that perhaps there is something amiss when school textbooks exclude huge portions of America's history, so that few non-blacks realized that blacks only were able to vote in this country without fear in the late 1970s. It is wonderful that Mr. McWhorter does not share my anger and wonderful too that he does not seem to have confronted much discrimination in his life; but he also seems not to understand that rage and anger exists in me and in many others of my generation. That makes him an inadequate spokesman. I am angry at the ignorance of people who have not been black in America -- including Mr. McWhorter. The fact that I am successful or that he is successful is not an indication that everyone can duplicate our success. We have made strides, but Colin Powell in an interview stressed the need for black folks to help others work through their feelings about race, and that is true. But, to be honest, I resent it.

    your guest only knows of the intellectual side of racism????no mention of the incredible ugly emotional racism??? that's the damage. no honesty.

    Why, when someone makes a social comment, does the word: patriotism, come into play? Or to question that person's allegiance based solely on a cogent statement that is still true. Get off the soapbox of patriotism. It is the mere fact that one was able to declare such a statement that we all witnessed an act of such proportion. And with such skill.

    S. Stromsdorfer, El Cerrito, CA

    your guest has only an intellectual view of racism. he never addressed the emotional hate that is long lived and permanent in some of the worst on both sides

    I do not think I ever heard anyone as eloquent as Mr. McWhorter. This is NOT code for wow a black man can speak articulately and well. If I did not have the gift of sight and could not see Mr. McWhorter I would have thought this man is BRILLIANT no matter what his hue. I loved his message, I loved his linguistic style, I loved his use of language, I loved his perfect grammar, and I generally loved everything about him. Although I am not conservative, HE is a conservative with whom I can relate. I can have an uplifting discussion with him, listen to his point of view and not think I needed to scream my point home or walk away feeling insulted. THIS is what I want from conservative America. I want WELL thought out, articulate opinions that are not profane, name calling or hate-filled ear piercing blabber. I am MUCH more inclined to be persuaded by a Mr. McWhorter or an Andrew Sullivan or a George Will than I am from a loud mouth insipid Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin and others like them. Give me SMART conservatives, thoughtful conservatives, well spoken conservatives who are not simply mean and just maybe I MIGHT change my mind.

    Bill Moyers, you do it yet again. You are EXCELLENCE in broadcasting bar none!

    The Importance of Equality

    There is nothing more important to the future of mankind, the future of this planet, the future of All life in this universe as we know it than the truth of equality, the truth of ourselves, the single simple truth of nature's Oneness, the unifying truth of the Universe, the powerful truth that shall set us free. There is nothing infinitely more important than knowing and living the single simple truth that God is Equal, God is One, as is One, as is All, as is equally you and me. There is nothing more vitally important today than to live and to be our truest destiny.
    To Just Be,
    Free at last, free at last, free at last…

    =
    MJA

    The Chimp cartoon seemed to reflect the recent attack by a chimp on the owners friend, which ended with 'Cops' shooting the chimp after it almost killed the woman.

    I've always been a little slow at interpting the written word--thanks NAACP for shairing.

    Mr. McWhorter was clear spoken & communicated in a way I listened--1\2 of a conversation.

    He may seek (as he appears to be my kids age) Fat Albert aka Dr. Bill Cosby, if "blacks" express negatively toward him, for empathy. (if structure is out of bounds-please adjust)

    Generational is where many young "blacks" move away from the "old" hidden emotions of the 50's & 60's. I picked this up from a commentor, a while back, that was a black, under 30, female, middle-manager & had never experienced being held back. Seems the sitting at the front or back of the buss had little 'current' meaning in her life. She acknowledged R. Parks, Martin, etc. but wanted to move on.

    Were a white southern boy, from the 40s, 50s, to expouse that Oprah's ancestors were more likely to have dealt in the slave trade, than his poor, ancestors--well, he would likely be in more trouble than young Mr. McWhorter (but it is the truth)! That conversation may not be what AG Holder had in mind.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what you don't realize is that what you heard is not what I meant"; taken from a plack at USF library.

    He definitely has the "snob" thing down. I wonder if he's figured out how to peal the crust (or is it, crest?) from the white bread (bred?)?.

    I advise Mr. McWhorter to watch the film "Bamboozled" by Spike Lee. Maybe then he will understand how he's still tap dancing for Massa's coin throw. This guy is really "corked up."
    When you catch another one of these fugitive slaves running from their own identity, Bill Moyers, get out the white gloves and the cherry red lipstick. Bill Moyers Minstrel Show:
    Mantan and Sleep'n Eat.
    Why not invite Eric Holder on to explain in person? It'd be less embarrassing.

    I appreciated the conversation with John McWhorter's on the Attorney General's speech and the Attorney General's saying we needed to have a conversation about race in this country but were cowards. I have several thoughts. The first is that I believe Eric Holder is not as graceful at having the conversations he wants to have as President Obama. However I believe is Eric Holders comments are valid for a large part of America. When President Obama wanted to have a conversation with America about the state of our union and the problems we are facing he wrote a book The Audacity of Hope and let America pick it up and read it. In the book he was very direct the the book was a conversation with Americans. I think Eric Holder is not as gifted at walking the fine line which President Obama's very amazingly diverse family of origin has taught him to walk. That said, I believe that shortly after we were making strides with Black empowerment and rights and Women's empowermenet and rights, about 1985, our country experienced a powerful backlash from white males who were angry and threatened. We are just coming out of the powerful societal sunami. And the president is helping us move forward. I am white. Some of my white friends have had conversations about race with white and black friends. But generally they have not had this conversation. The only group I have known to take on this conversation directly to help move it forward was the group of Co-Counsellors which for many years led retreats on this for blacks and whites in which we had this very difficulty conversation and listened to the true stories of what it was like to grow up black in the USA in Chicago, in Texas etc. It was awful. When some white americans became upset at what the president's minister had said in Chicago about America and Race the simple fact that they had no knowledge of what blacks have lived with and live with. When attending a black church wiht black friends in Texas I was welcome only because I was with my black friends. I think perhaps America would benefit from having these conversations, the problem is that many of the young people are living in a new world where this is not a problem. But I do feel we would benefit from having the conversations.

    I watched the conservative thinking McWhorter on Moyers. It is the same old right wing "I am the accepted negro theory". Stop complaining there is no racism theory. Just because McWhorter is so called "accepted" by some whites and has made strides in becoming a professor and a conservative think tank member, he thinks he can speak for all African Americans. He needs some education, if Dr King and many others had kept quiet about race he might not be where he is today. Let's do some fact checking. Even if half of the African Americans locked up in prison today were there truthfully for what they have done, there still is proven injustice on how African Americans are sentenced compared to whites who commit similar crimes. He never mentions this when I hear him speak. Sure the playing field will never be leveled. We all know that. But ask yourself, what other group of people has the white race tried to keep down more than blacks? The answer is none. You need to be asking why? I understand that McWhorter may come from a mixed marriage himself. Over 400 years of injustice that continues daily in not just America, but the world over. I am not going to watch Moyers show anymore. I thought he was promoting his inner views by bringing this McWhorter on with out any challenges or opposing views. They both seemed to sit there and enjoy each other. It was sickening. Most whites in this world are a bunch of liars, they don't want to accept their part in all of this. I am not just talking about slavery. I am talking about the racism and injustice that they stand for today. I do not pretend to say blacks do not have blame. We do. But people try and act like racism is a thing of the past, the "don't blame me syndrome". Racism is alive and well believe me. I live it everyday. McWhorter is as much a disgrace to blacks as anything he blames like Hip Hop. He writes books and makes money off the downing of his own race. Or part of his race the part that we can see. What I see in him is a black or half black man that cannot accept his race. I bet it is hard to live with himself everyday. The whole Post cartoon thing would probably have not seemed racist if it did not have the Stimulus package writing tied to it. It was so obvious. Moyers is a joke. I have finally seen the light. His southern upbringing has finally been shown to me.

    Dear Mr. Moyers, The insight which is usually present in the conversations which you share was not present in the presentation of Mr. Mc Whorter. It would have been much more interesting for him to discuss his field of expertise upon which he has based most of his career. PBS has offered at least two programs which give greater depth to the questions which you (and Mr. Eric Holder) posed. I do not have the accurate title of one which was presented by a person knowledgeable about basic genetics. The person presented expertly "The Portrait of the Family". In this presentation he followed the Y Chromosome from the Pigmies of Africa, through a male population is Australia, India, (?)Lapland and finally the Sioux Indians in America. I remember his words, "I came prepared with pictures of the family." As a Biologist, and a Physician there is only Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Man.
    Although I did not understand the presentation of the cartoon involving "killing the monkey" and its "potential" association with President Obama, recent news has shown the tragedy of a woman who kept a Primate as "her son" with the resultant unanticipated unprovoked attack on her friend. She called the police and asked them to bring a gun, for she had not been able to stop his attack even though she had used a knife. She stated that she did not regret having raised him for (?) 16 years as "her son", "they share 99% of our genome." The excellent presentation recently on PBS about the smaller and more gentle subspecies of "The Big Apes", Bonobos (Pan paniscus), was preceded by "Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History: Introduction". In the former presentation, which I have been unable to find though PBS: Nature, it was expressed that perhaps if researchers had found the more gentle Bonobos before the potentially more combative Chimpanzee, we "may" have "modeled" our behavior more like them.

    Although Mr. Mc Whorter perceived Mr. Eric Holder to be "speaking in code", a view that I do not share, it should be a challenge to all of us to act with even greater "sociability" as the quieter "bonobos", thus seeking an "uncowardly" resolution to problems shared within our common humanity.

    I am as white as white can be. Flocks have sought my family's genealogy to confirm their eligibility to the DAR. My family settled New York, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Oregon and California. My direct family settled in California and Oregon before the Civil War, starting around 1846; Some came around the horn and some across the trail. We have served on state constitutional congresses and have fought in every American war (large and small).
    My family is white, Irish, French, English, Dutch, American Indian, and now East Indian. My family is Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and now Hindu.
    I was raised in an extremely Caucasian community. My Grandparents set an example of judging people by their deeds and their follow-through on their commitments. I was born in 1960 in a very white state and still I didn't view people by color. I want to clearly state that I do see color. I may see it in gray tone but I do see it. My husband is from India and is Hindu. I am Scot/Irish-Episcopal(your basic Heinz 57). With the prospective of an extremely mixed marriage, I have experienced prejudice for the first time in my life through being closely connected to a non-white, non-Christian husband since 1984. I see race beyond the simple black and white. We, as white Americans, have to admit that at one time considered white Irish Catholics to be less than human. This put Irish-Catholics in the same group as Chinese-Americans. My town had a few Chinese families that my dad closely identified with because he was raised side by side with the Chinese community in California. He also had many Hispanic connections since he was Catholic. Racism is more than color. Many of my long term friends wouldn't attend our wedding as it was with my parent's "mixed" marriage in 1958.
    I cannot say that I am not prejudiced or that I do not discriminate against individuals but it is based on direct experience with the individual. There are valid reasons that we will not agree with or like individuals based on direct interactions. Color and religion are not the primary factors. I try not to carry these individual disagreements over to the group as a whole. If we let ourselves do this, then we loose as a society.
    If I had not married my husband, I would have denied that the US still had racist tendencies unless I had experienced them directly. If you don't live bi-racially everyday of your life, you will not understand.
    Extend that attitude to every non-integrated community and you can see why we are where we are today. You really have to live it to understand it so please let us all give each other the opportunity to communicate in a more honest way to get this past once and for all.
    My husband and I have traveled the world and the US is the best place to be by far. Perhaps, with a bit more introspection we can see that differences should not be so divisive. Life is really much more interesting if we embrace all of the American experiences and cultures.
    We are a great country and have achieved great cultural advances but still have a ways to go.

    White Supremacy: Black men are 60 (SIXTY) per cent unemployed in Milwaukee, WI!
    Houston A. Baker has a new book called, _Betrayal by the Black Intellectual. Baker exposes McWhorter to be a dishonest schemer.

    McWhorter serves a crucial need in America, and that is to assuage the conscience of many “moderate whites” who see themselves as tolerant and non-racist. It allows them to live in the delusion that racism or bigotry does not exist within them, and that the realities of today are merely a result of America’s racist past and not a continuance of racist policies and practices that have been refined, institutionalized, and camouflaged. And that the shortcomings of African Americans are a result of their own failures of discipline, diligence and determination. And the problem that many African Americans are poor, undereducated and imprisoned is a result of an unspoken cultural inferiority. His popularity and success among white moderates and some Black conservatives is the reward for any high profile African Americans that speak out against Black issues and concerns and reinforce white beliefs and justify their biases and discriminations. He serves to alleviate any sense of complicity and dismisses the complaints of African Americans as simply ingrained and trained responses from a semi-literate few and professional race hustlers. As a black man he can give legitimacy to this opinion, unspoken in public except on talk radio. If moderate whites give voice to their beliefs they come off uninformed, uneducated and backward; thoughts that if spoken could only be perceive as unsophisticated and impolite amongst whites. McWhorter has sold his soul and integrity and will be continually rewarded as long he precedes on this well trodden path. He is to race relations as Greg Behrendt is to single women and dating i.e.; “He’s one of them but he gets us and tells us the truth”, he tells moderate whites and certain Black conservatives what they want to hear.

    Listening to Mr. McWhorter’s stance on Bill Moyer’s Journal it seems to me that he oversimplifies the scenarios he describes. When he spoke of the newspaper cartoon of white officers shooting a monkey that some believe to be a racist statement against our President, he suggests that even if this were a racist depiction it doesn’t affect how we live day-to-day so therefore the attention this is getting is unwarranted. He positions the importance of any racist message the cartoon may send in terms of the minuscule odds that it would inspire an individual to attempt to assassinate the President. When limiting the impact to that sort of act and rationale he’s right. Its importance is minuscule. After all what are the chances that the cartoon would inspire and assassination attempt? But its my opinion that this is where he misses the point. It’s not what one person viewing the cartoon may or may not take it upon himself to do. To me this is an over-simplification of the meaning of the depiction if it is indeed racist. The importance is in how an institution that has a hand in shaping public opinions and perceptions would present, and promote a racist view. Not only that, but in addition to publishing material that may be racially offensive this institution would also promote violence based on a racial prejudice. This is very disturbing and is the underlying issue behind any type of racist points of view put forth by a mass media outlet such as a newspaper. It is a symptom of systemic racism that is not the province of a deranged individual, such as person who would be inspired to attempt an assassination after viewing the cartoon, but is an accepted stance by a business entity whose purpose is to present informed information to as many individuals as possible and to do so with journalistic integrity and professionalism. So if integrity and professionalism are an accepted and enforced principle for a newspaper then in this instance a racist depiction is not viewed as running counter to those principles but is seen as being inline with them. This is the reason attention to this cartoon is warranted.
    Mr. Moyer’s then asks Mr. McWhorter how he would begin a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder based on the Attorney General’s assertion that America is a “nation of cowards” when it comes to having a conversation on race. Mr. McWhorter’s response is that he would ask Mr. Holder if we, as Black people, are afraid to take responsibility for ourselves and do we need white people to provide some type of admission of guilt in order for us to move on as a race. Again, this is an example of an oversimplification of the issue. A serious conversation on race begins by understanding how an individual views race amid the complexities of how race is viewed within our society along with its affect on our society. From that basis an honest dialogue can take place. Contrary to Mr. McWhorter’s assertions a conversation about race is not about assigning blame by Black people in order to move on and it’s not about white people admitting guilt as a way to assuage some collective guilt. It’s about understanding the impact racism has had in the development of our country and the ways it still affects us. It’s about understanding that racism in many ways is not a product of the average person’s individual prejudice but is a systemic practice that the institutions that wield power in our society or are responsible for advancing our society condone and in some instances promote. We see this in education on all levels, in how the application of law differs between races, how race impacts access to capital on personal and business levels, and access to opportunity across the board. It’s my belief that a discussion on how race impacts these areas plus others including our personal relationships as individuals would be a healthy discussion. It might not be easy and in some instance when honesty is brought forth it might even be uncomfortable but I believe it would all be constructive.
    Its my opinion that Mr. McWhorter’s narrow view of racial topics and any dialogue or challenges regarding these topics can have a crippling affect on racial progress, which in term cripples social progress. By taking such narrow views and not expounding on the larger issues the problems can not be addressed because they are not even recognized.

    It is about time someone stood up for the black community. John should be an inspiration for all young black men and women. It is time for their community to get off the wealth-fare system of "poor me", which causes nothing but outcast attitudes, and to shift focus on making a better community for themselves.

    I am white with an underlying racist view on the world, which I deal with on my own. But, if I can overcome those racial issues I still have in my thought patterns and yet still vote for a black man as president then basically the black community can, and needs too, stop being so racist against themselves!

    I like your guest, I think I've seen him before.

    As far as Holder's comments. It seems he fell in the very trap he is saying he dislikes, namely, lumping everyone in to a single category, and using an insulting term.

    I think it would have been more accurate for him to say that racists are cowards, and left it at that.

    What's the best way to get rid of racism? Try to keep the hateful from passing their hate on down generation to generation.

    I like what "May" said and "Thomas T. Panto's" poem.

    I've met all sorts of racists. I've been on the receiving end of all sorts of ignorant stereotyping treatment, first it was because I was a nerd, then it was because it was because I was a male teacher; various African-American's have treated me in shameful ways, so have some Latinos, so have some whites, so have some Native Americans, but guess what? I try to follow the advice of those who teach non-violence and turning the other cheek.

    For the casually angry person, they will regret their ignorant behavior, maybe apologize, but work to keep from making a fool of themselves later. For my part, it makes me glad I can overlook insults, because I know I've said and done some dumb things in my life.

    My general sense is that most people are average folks and are not blatantly racist, that's not to say we don't harbor ignorant assumptions, but in general folks want to be nice, because they want to be viewed as nice.

    The people in most desparate need of "this conversation" are the stubborn, obsessively angry people.

    For the obsessively, terminally angry person, I'm not sure there is much hope. The only thing I can think of is something like you might see in the movies. The White Supremacist and the Black Panther are stuck in a subway station during an earthquake, then come to depend on each other for survival. They see each other's blood is red. They see each other's loved ones in wallet photos. One guy's right arm is broken, the other guy's left arm is broken, but the door leading to safety requires two arms to open it! I think you get the picture. :-)

    With regard to the angry people. When people are angry they often don't think straight, and blame the first things that come to mind. Usually those things are visible things, and usually that means skin color or other obvious ethnic heritage.

    This exchange occurred:

    BILL MOYERS: I brought a quote from the psychologist, Phillip Goff, "Psychological science has long known that words and pictures far from harmless can be the very instruments of dehumanization necessary for collective violence regardless of how innocently they are intended." Do you agree with that?

    JOHN MCWHORTER: Were we ever thinking that there was going to be an America where there was nothing that we could call racism? Because we are homo sapiens and we're wired in certain ways. The idea that we could never have any biases, that we would never process people according to group, that there would never be some people who were more troglodytic on this thing than others, I don't think that that corresponds to any kind of reality. We have made amazing strides. But the idea that we could ever have none? I don't know. We'd have to be a different species. We'd have to evolve beyond.


    John seems to imply - in the very last sentence I copied above – that evolution is either impossible or extremely bothersome. Nonetheless, is it not plausible to believe that race relations in the United States has indeed evolved (note: “We have made amazing strides.”)?

    Unfortunately, it has taken a lot of blood and a lot of bold protests to assist us in our evolution towards more harmonious race relations. The reaction to the monkey cartoon, the protests, may seem to me to be over-the-top, but who knows if they too will help improve the present state of race relations. Perhaps the style of protests might be more productive if they were proportional to amount of blood spilt in any particular episode.

    I take John’s rhetorical and skeptical point that racism might ever be completely eliminated: But to provide a reasoning against the prospect based on us being homo sapiens, that (apparently) racism is a basic ingredient in our biological makeup, strikes me as discounting the changes our society has achieved thus far. I concur with him in believing that we will always have biases, that we might always process people according to groups, and that there might always be some who are more “troglodytic” than others on issues of race relations.

    Having no racism, though, is not too lofty a goal for Americans – and I believe a possible, even probable, one. Finally, what I found so striking as to have me miss the rest of the episode and touch on John’s pessimism, was how he touched on the answer (“We’d have to evolve beyond.”) and then treated the answer as so unsophisticated as to swipe it away from any further discussion or consideration.

    I want to add to my recend comment, that Mr. McWhorter's comments were quite idea based. I think a conversation about race, to be beneficial rather than just trading perceptions, would be about personal experience. How has his race affected him in his life? Wow has race affected Bill Moyers in his life? That is a better beginning than a broad brush observation about whether as a nation we are beyond racism.

    I did not find the conversation helpful. For many years trained facilitators from the National Coalition Builders and others have led personal conversations on racism and oppression. These have recognized that every person suffers social oppression, and we all participate in institutions that enact systemic oppression of groups of people. Conversing with another person about our experiences and listening to her experiences, and analyzing power inequities in groups that relate to gender, orientation, appearance, ethnicity, race will long be important in our society that certainly continues to stereotype groups. Ask Arab Americans. Ask gays and lesbians. Ask Latino immigrants. Ask women in some situations. Racism and group oppression continues. Yes, strides and freedoms are achieved. But we need keep learning about the oppression of one another.

    I would also say, what I am talking about is more a personal conversation than a public conversation. It is a personal conversation about what still happens in public to many groups of people who continue to be outside full participation in all public groups in America.

    America is a nation of cowards when it comes to race - as it clearly shows.

    Many are discriminating subconsciously, like the beloved Bill, because they have never been the victim.

    Please do look at that cartoon one more time, just pretending that you are not purely "white".

    People can do this to a popular president, they can and are doing it to many others with no voice!

    The union has much and a long way to be perfected...

    I agree, wholeheartedly, with John McWhorter. Part of the problem is that many of us are mired in our own staus quo thinking: "THEY are trying to take from US," "We alone are the {beleaguered}forward thinkers," "I'm not safely equal {because, or unless, I'm not de facto advantaged}." Most of us will always be afraid to let go of what we know.

    The granting of visably special privileges to one group or another invariably causes resentment and backlash. The "affirmative action" that most of us need is an opportunity, open to all, to receive the tutoring that would enable us to meet the entry standards of the schools and jobs to which we aspire (and the vocational guidance to make the right choices). Most of us are hurting. Screaming about prejudice and entitlement does not play well in a world currently unsympathetic to those seeking special favors.

    Whether we like it or not,everyone develops prejudices--and about many things: people, investments, and ideas, to name a few. Part of the personal growth process is to learn to recognize them in oneself and to constantly re-evaluate them, so that one's thinking is the master of one's prejudices instead of the other way around.
    Historically, widespread acceptance of a social group comes only after years of firmly equal treatment by the organs of power, and it has been a mistake to stray from this impartiality. No one provided special dispensation to the Italians, the Irish, or the Jews, nor fed love potion to their detractors; instead, these folk visualized themselves as fellow countrymen of right-thinking Americans. Afforded the overall opportunity for self-advancement, they helped themselves and one another, and earned not only society's eventual respect but their own.

    What is tbe soul's common denomitor. in the end we are all going to look at the life we lived in horror and hope that we get it right the next time.
    If we can look at eveyones opinion, think about, acknowledge it, and if we disagree, we can deal and accept or move on. Hopefully we relay the peaacful and put the hateful to bed.

    Let's marginalize the victim's complaints by dismissing them as politically correct shall we?
    I'm white. Yes, I have at times in my life been the target of racism BUT I doubt to the same extent as that of the average black man in America (unless, of course, he can afford to avoid direct contact with the great unwashed).
    Frankly, it took me less than a second to connect the image of a monkey and the chief proponent of the stimulus package. For someone of Mr. Moyer's calibre to not have seen that immediately surprises me AND reinforces Secretary Holder's point. Apparantly we do need such a conversation. Or does it really matter how we treat one another? Perhaps someone should mass email that image of watermelons on the Whitehouse lawn as well and make jokes about how the Easter egg hunt has been cancelled. We could all have a nice laugh and then claim ignorance of any knowledge of the racist inferrence.
    Where do we draw the line? Do acts of racism or discrimination or sexual harrassment not count if the perpetrator doesn't know any better? Your guest seems to think so.

    I was extremely disappointed that you would 1) give this person a soapbox and 2) agree with him. This is not a post-racial society. If we listen to Mr McWorter the Rosa Parks incident should have been forgotten 3 weeks later - there's a long term, big picture view of this and these 'incidents' are part of the problem - not soundbites that we forget immediately. While we still have mayors sending out watermelon postcards, chimps being shot (Bill - you couldn't see the racism in this? C'mon Bill get some new glasses). Yes we have huge problems (alot of which Mr McWorter's friends created) but racism remains one of them - not something that we've moved past. Yes we have a black president (which is terrific) but life has not changed for our black population - thankyou Bill for all the stats on why this is still a problem - but still you can agree with this guy.
    Anyway don't people like Mr McWorter have enough platforms for his ideas and we have precious few? I like your show but this was a poor showing - and did nothing to further the "conversation"

    Mr. Moyers, I wondered if I would bother to place a comment with your message board. This desire of Americans, particularly white Americans, to hide from history and to deny the past is so very tiresome. And I know that having a Black man, which I presume McWhorter is, espouse ideas which essentially attempt to make it acceptable for whites to shirk their responsibility as a people, as human beings, and as presumed fellow citizens is pleasing, however sadly and disturbingly, to too many whites.
    I was going to continue on with a history lesson here for you. But, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
    I don't know if you realize the possibility which exists. There is such possibility in human beings honoring their humanity. Have you any idea what sort of world we might build? But it requires work and effort and that we fully face history and acknowledge human ills. You can choose to be lazy(and it is laziness)but you and your children will know no true harvest.

    I was disappointed that Mr. McWhorter did not offer to start the conversation with Mr. Holder by asking what did he mean. As a volunteer facilitator for the YWCA’s dialogue on race. It is essential to start with agreed definitions or the conversation will be all over the map. We can have a semi-structured dialogue that helps participants to discover how “racism” operates in their community to create the very ills Mr. McWhorter identified would not be addressed in such a conversation. We dialogue race for a better community as our goal, not blame or shame. For it to be effective; we must start with the historical perspective and not just an individual; focus must be on systemic racism not so much on prejudice and bigotry; We must start from the perspective of truth-telling and stop the denial that racism exist; and that change can begin in those systems we are part of. I would say to Mr. Holder that Americans are not afraid to have a conversation about race in a safe space. And Mr. McWhorter should get in on the new dialogue on race. We are seeing an increased interest for a dialogue on race since Mr. Obama has become president.

    Mr. Moyers, I wondered if I would bother to place a comment with your message board. This desire of Americans, particularly white Americans, to hide from history and to deny the past is so very tiresome. And I know that having a Black man, which I presume McWhorter is, espouse ideas which essentially attempt to make it acceptable for whites to shirk their responsibility as a people, as human beings, and as presumed fellow citizens is pleasing, however sadly and disturbingly, to too many whites.
    I was going to continue on with a history lesson for you(and I thought you had a better sense of some of the history anyway, coming from the state of Texas), but I do not care to do so. We all know the history, those of us who have lived it or have bothered to find out about it. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
    Finally, I don't know if you realize the possibility which exists. There is such possibility in human beings honoring their humanity. Have you any idea what sort of world we might build? But it requires work and effort and that we fully face history and acknowledge human ills. You can choose to be lazy(and it is laziness)but you and your children will know no true harvest.

    Certainly people of different backgrounds can talk about race. It simply requires mutual respect and a willingness to actually listen without taking offense. The difference between people like Mr. McWhorter and other folks who take a reasoned approach to this is one of experience. As a black child growing up in the 50s in Detroit I had friends of different races and ethic backgrounds when I was a child. But for anyone, black, white, Asian, whatever, who lives in a rigidly segregated world their daily existence is not going to be condusive to understanding or being open minded about racial differences. You cannot talk about race in this country without taking a hard look at housing segregation and the historical realities of how it came to be, and why it continues to exist. This is where racism is concrete in its affects, institutionaly and socially. It perpetuates disparities in education, in employment, healthcare and access to capital. And it reinforces stereotypes simply because of a lack of experience. We are more alike than we are different. But we will never know that unless we see each other taking out the garbage every day. Perhaps then we will be able to acknowledge what really needs to be tossed on the garbage heap.

    Mr. McWhorter touches on the PCM "Politically Correct Movement". Let us call a spade a spade and get away from the code language that is permeating society today.
    As a caucasian I have been subjected to racism and discrimination when I lived in Africa.
    The PCM is trying to destroy the fabric of society by magnifying everything that is not important to the structure of our country.

    Mr. McWhother comments on American race issues were very thought provocing. I (we) live day-to-day encountering race issues that sometime make you question your employer, "white" co-worker, banker, grocer, machanic, landlord (mortgage company), neighbor(hood), your "white" friend, your childs' school (teacher and/or administration), down to the ordinary passer-by. Mr. McWhorter notion to (as I understand it) put racism in a "proper" context. Not to pertend it does not exsist, but to acknowlegdge it with a knowing reference (it is there) and learn and/or educate from it. If we continue to make every knowing reference to racism as a first time bombastic episode, we will continue to rewind the last "top 10" episodes such as a bad re-run program and not really move forward.

    I am proud that Barack Obama is our president, but I am not sure he should be referred to as an African American President. The mother who gave birth to him had white skin; he was raised by his white grandparents. His black father was a part of his life for one month. I think President Obama should be referred to as our first Biracial President. If his mother were alive I believe it would be hurtful to her not to receive some "white" credit. The word "bi-racial" gives credit to both sides of the genetic tree.

    At the very moment The Journal was discussing Attorney General Holder's projective "Nation of Cowards" excoriation, the Obama Administration itself was threatening to not participate in a U.N. global conference on racism, demanding there be no discussion of racism in U.S.-sponsored Israel.

    "The United States has decided not to participate in a U.N. conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and its criticism of religion, a senior U.S. official said Friday."

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h-NABlEjaGSsDBh_qdpdNmX7V6VwD96K620G0

    Another example of understanding how projection works, at both the personal and national levels - we attribute to others the characteristics which have the greatest power, and to which we are most blind, in ourselves.

    In other words:

    Pot. Kettle. Bla... umm, let me think of a better summary and get back to you....

    My Hungarian ancestors are responsible for MOST of what wisdom my mind now contains.

    What would I be without them ?

    If some civilization had abducted white children from America, to be their slaves, refused them education, and distributed them on a strange continent, far away from their heratage, geography, society and language, and then for a few hundred years treated them like cattle, then what would those white children devolve into while living in that hostile vacuum ?

    Then, once set free, how long would it take those white children to restore the wisdom of their heratage while surrounded by our prejudice and kept in servitude and poverty ?

    I expect our ''Black'' population to become superior to ''whites'' ... they looked, saw, thought and so now know our civilizations' many FLAWS.

    We ''whites'' have much to learn from them.

    I just had to add something - I did not mean to indicate that 1 out of 9 blacks doing time in prison is less troubling than our other troubles - but I'm afraid it read that way. whoops. I believe we need to do several things to change our prison system - in general. What we do now does not work very well. Change would benefit all races, and especially blacks since so many blacks do get involved in our legal system.
    Racism seems to be a topic than can not be fought well directly. Similar situation to saying, "I'm forcing myself to be a happy person." There are objectives that can be met by setting a goal, like "I will study, pay tuition, attend class, and graduate." and others that are easier achieved indirectly, i.e., happiness coming as a result of knowing your values and having your actions match your values. I can only point in the direction of this truth, not explain it well! Blessings on you all!

    I found McWorter's ideas refreshing - and absolutely on target - and wondered why I could not verbalize it so well myself!
    While something like 1 out of 9 blacks will spend time in prison today, millions of Americans (black, white & other-colored!) are uninsured, under-educated and under-employed. For us to continue with the same old [tired] arguments does not make much sense, does it? We need to get busy on solving problems that can be solved - for all Americans. And that is one reason I'm an Obama fan - he speaks for All Americans and for those who can not buy themselves out of their own troubles! (Yes, "buy")
    Let's all put First Things First!
    As to racism and unfairness, I'm not happy to agree that humans seem to be somewhat built towards unfairness. Ask the "disabled" in America about that too! I am severely hearing impaired and it has been shocking to face some of the ignorant and rude misunderstandings people have about hearing impaired. I see why many in the Deaf community do not want to deal with the hearing at all!
    Bill Moyers, thanks for another satisfying thought-provoking show! And John McWhorter thank you for your thoughtfulness & wisdom. I can tell you have been a deep thinker - and that means much more to me than blind allegance to any faith or party or ideology! So many people do not take the time to really think, ponder and go deep. I love those of you who do!

    I was watching your program aired February 27, when you asked your black guest "If he wanted a frank conversation about race with you, where would he start?" I had hoped that he would ask you that "Although some blacks perform at a high level, do you think that blacks as a whole, or collectively, have evolved to the level to be able to perform at the level of white people?" And, when you gave your answer, you asked him "What do you think about that?" .That would be a frank conversation on race. The reason I found the cartoon about the chimpanzee so provocative is that it suggested evolution.

    James Edward Brown.


    Seems to me that the more we talk about ''nationality'', ''religion'' and ''race'' the more credibility we give to these artificial fabrications made of mere words.

    Mr McWhorter appears to be a very young man. I remember seeing old cartoons of black and Japanese Americans portrayed as monkeys. Children's cartoons, not editorial comic strips. I am not as old as you might think (early fifties) and I grew up seeing and knowing first hand of terrible things. The editorial cartoon of the watermelon patch on the White House lawn was not discussed. I think it is hard and uncomfortable for whites (like me) to discuss race because of guilt and shame and it is hard for African Americans because of pain and anger. Younger people never experienced those times, so they have a hard time understanding how the Boomer generation and older feel. I think more racism is now covert, but there is still overt racism too. Until we can control our own feelings, dialogue will be mute.

    I am so disappointed that the discusion of race coming from the east coast of this country still sounds as if there are only two races on earth, Black and White. I think we as a people are smart enough to discuss race in complex terms.

    Our new president is a person of mixed race, white mother/African father. Not African American at all by my understanding.

    I grew up looking white to the casual observer but of Mexican heritage which is by definition mixed race. Right now we are waging a war against all people appearing to be brown with detention centers for people of color springing up everywhere. Yet we continue this black-white discusion. Very disappointing to me.

    I believe that Mr. McWhorter is partly correct, but mostly wrong regarding his comments about race. The mostly wrong is illustrated by the 2 Pennsylvania judges who were removed from the bench and debarred for taking over $2 millions in kickbacks to sentence children to long prison terms for a private prison system in that state. Racism is the basis of the the unjust legal system in this nation. Proof is the large number of blacks in the prison system. Another element of this situation is that the story about the judges did not become known until the legal "arrangements" had been worked out -- in the dark.
    Mr. McWhorter is partly correct when he states that blacks should get over the injustice in America. It will never change and we are wasting time believing that the nation is decent.

    As an African-American, I found your interview with John McWhorter on the issue of race to be very troubling. Mr. McWhorter made several statements indicating that race is not a significant issue in America today and that he finds Eric Holder's call for a open discussion on race to be unnecessary. He further stated that he was more interested in helping (undefined) people. In addition, he stated, disingenuously, that the two of you were having the discussion on race that Eric Holder was describing. My question is - how the hell does he know what type of discussion Eric Holder was requesting? I'm not sure that I do but I believe that it would not be about isolated racist incidents but rather about some of the issues that you raised with Mr. McWhorter that he choose to ignore (the prison/industrial complex, educational disparities, etc.) and their impact on the lives of African Americans and how we move, as a nation, towards a "more perfect union". In my humble opinion, John McWhorter failed to provide a rational rebuttal to Mr. Holder's call other than that he doesn't see a level playing field for blacks in the near-term and that we should just move on and "help people". I am very unimpressed with the logic that Mr. McWhorter employed during your discussion and found his take on the subject to be both shallow and superficial. This interview added no insights to Mr. Holder's plea, did not clarify or rebut his rquest, and was an overall disappointment.

    re: John McWhorter - if real life examples of continued discrimination are merely "out of context" stories how can he imagine (or we accept) that his finite perspective is relevant to anyone other than the man who writes his diary

    The examples of prejudice are a signficant measure of the human experience - racism not only inhibits effort it prevents progress

    Just wanted to add my two cents on the subject of racism. I believe that racism is just another word for discrimination. To be quite clear, I am opposed to unjust discrimination of any kind. When we put the spotlight on racism and only discuss it in terms of black vs white and white vs black we fail to resolve the entire problem. The real problem with discrimation is that it occurs when we (me included) discriminate because we are ignorant (we hate or refuse to tolerate what we do not understand and do so out of fear) or we distrust what we do not understand. I've seen people angrily shun retarded and disfigured people. I have a relative who has a physical handicap and have seen him have to explain to employers that his body is limited but his brain is not. I would just prefer that we'd all agree that unjust discrimination of any kind is absolutely wrong. Unjust discrimination happens to men, women, children, all races, all ecomonic groups, all religions, and more. I absolutely believe that good can be found in every group opf people regardless of race, gender, religion, and more. Racism exists, I am sure, but in my opinion, when we put the spotlight on racism we take it off the other groups who are also discriminated against for no good reason. That all by itself is a form of discrimation because we have chosen, or selected, one group and given it preferential treatment while ignoring the others. I do not mind discussing racism but would prefer that it would be kept in context.

    Thanks for the great conversation with McWhorter. I do think when someone talks racist he/she should be called on it to the point that they become educated. (It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.)

    As to violence to anyone, that's a different story. Education does help. We need cops with at least a bachelor's and training, training, training. Training costs money.

    The big problem with race divisions is that we all lose the potential support of the very people we divide ourselves from.

    I realize McWhorter is an arch-conservative, but it is my impression also that most Afro-American professionals agree with him, and have for some time.


    For 20 years I have had little to say about ''race''.
    From my earliest recollection, I never thought of myself as a piece of meat.

    What color is my alphabet, my language, nationality, religion ?
    What color is ''Human'' ?

    My mind is Patterns of Thoughts, made of mere words, passed down to me by ancient generations.
    Some beautiful words and thoughts revealing Truth, and some ugly words, the Lies.

    Like all the living things on earth, I am not my Meat.
    I am my deeds. I am the direction of creation.
    I am the product of Truth, corrupted only by the lies made of mere words.

    Many Words have been spoken by confused barbarians fearing the sky.
    Mere Words spoken to defenseless children, on this one tiny planet in one galaxy,
    Lies spoken on a planet made of Pure Truth.

    All of Life was created here by Life's Love of Life.
    All the GOOD created without a single word.
    All our miseries made of lies.

    Since it is our WORDS that bring LIES to our world, therefore we must choose our words wisely.
    Only Truth creates Life.
    Our Lies kill it.

    John McWhorter thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been in this country since 2002 and I have met two kinds of African-Americans. The one believes that he or she is a human being just like everyone else. Period. The other, most unfortunately, heavily burdened by his or her history, relives history every day and believes that mishaps, misfortunes are all a direct result of being a different color. Indeed, there are much more important issues that need attention. Talk about racism may sound good and rile people up, but it doesn't solve any problem at this time. Every single person has prejudices. Again, I am not from this country, but what I see is that this talk about racism has put people in their own cages, it has broken their wings, and it has made them believe that the reason that they can't advance in life is because they have been discriminated against. Who in this world hasn't been discriminated against? It seems that even though Mr. President is Black now, the country still needs to undo decades of putting the blame on others to realizing their own potential. The first kind of Black people, Blacks who believe that they are human beings just like every body else can teach a lot.

    I was very disappointed with your conversation with John McWhorter. You asked the wrong question when you asked McWhorter what question he would ask to start the dialogue. YOU should be the one to start the conversation on race. Asking the first question, sharing how your inner self responds to people of color, talking about how you feel about race and at the same time, finding out how a person of color feels about treatment by white people, by other people of color. The burden is on whites now.

    As a white woman who works with people of many races in the District of Columbia, many African-Americans, I am constantly amazed at the insensitivity of whites toward the day to day, moment to moment lives of many African Americans. As one client said to me the other day, "Black people are stronger because they have to work harder." In my experience, she is right.

    McWhorter handles himself as a post-racial intellectual. He basically denies that issues around race matter in the psychology of people of color, particularly when they are in a majority white country. As though he could bring all people of color up with him.

    In fact, your question about the psychology of language having a negative impact could, should, have opened the door to a discussion about the many forms in which discrimination is practiced by whites against people of color. In fact, I would venture to say that Holder would include McWhorter and you in the category of cowards about race. You both ended up walking away congratulating yourselves for having had a "conversation about race" when neither of you engaged the subject at the level at which it actually impacts people and peoples and children's lives. You tried, McWhorter parried.

    Why not bring Stephen Carter and Eric Holder on your program to talk about the race. There is also the question of racial discrimination among people of color.

    Dr. McWorter offers a false dilemma: either address the "real material issues" or try in vain to confront white privilege directly with hard conversations. As a white male debate coach, I can affirm Holder's call to have frank conversations about race. I don't think we can just "move on." Sure, conversations like your conversation with Dr. McWorter are comfortable for white people, especially insofar as Obama, Oprah and Tiger Woods become proof that privilege does not need to be confronted. I have been a part of far more painful and productive conversations and take a much more positive outlook on the outcomes of such discussions. I wholeheartedly believe that white people not only can, but must, begin to really listen and reflect on the systems of privilege of which they are a part (whether they like it or not) if we are to make progress on the issues to which Dr. McWorter alludes. It is not easy work, but very important--and more than worthy of a follow up show.
    thanks,
    Chris Baron
    Baltimore

    John McWhorter tried to reduce the controversial cartoon to a dead primate. If that was all there was to the cartoon, the nature of the controversy would have never occurred or would have been very different.

    But it was NOT the IMAGE that generated the uproar, but the WORDS in the cartoon. Funny, that a man who makes his living in studying language should miss that!

    Moreover, Mr. McWhorter conveniently shifted the discussion of race to helping released prisoners readjust to society, and avoided the real issue which is this: proportionately the same number of whites commit crimes as blacks, so why are there more blacks incarcerated in the first place?

    You allowed Mr. McWhorter to get away with outlandish rationalization. This interview rates a grade of "D".

    This was a very interesting discussion. I would have to say that for the most part I agree with Mr. McWhorter, that we are middle of the road on race. Is there racism? Of course, because as long as there is ignorance, and there is certainly a lot of it, there will be racism.

    I also believe that what many of the people I know attribute as negative characteristics of a particular race, are really characteristics of people who live in poverty - and if they really open their eyes, they see these characteristics in all races where people are struggling everyday just to get by.

    I've spent many years thinking about race (I'm white).
    When I was small I heard my uncle talk about a colored person. I was fascinated... I'd never seen a colored person (i.e. I envisioned someone who was multi-colored.)
    I went to college in PA and when we asked our black classmate if she wanted to go to the movies with us, she'd turn us down. It was years before I (from NYC) figured out that the movies (just over the Mason-Dixon line) would have made her sit in the balcony.
    We spent some time in Sweden where my dark-haired husband and I experienced some subtle racism.. until they found out we were Americans. Then we spent time in the West Indies where everyone was very nice, but I still was conscious of how I was the only white person in the supermarket.
    I think John is very smart, but I'll bet that there have been times in his life when he was made to notice the color of his skin and not in a nice way.
    I voted for Barack Obama not because he was black, but because I think he's one of the smartest and moral presidents we've had.
    I actually didn't think (and still don't), "Oh yeah, he's black."

    From Beyond the Grave

    (This pseudo-documentary work is not intended to depict, demean or pertain to any real persons living or dead. It is an attempt by Grady Lee Howard to comprehend a death that occurred near his home, that he suspects didn’t have to happen. He hopes it raises questions in the reader’s mind about the quality and nature of life in America, and why there are so frequent police shootings of minority men.)

    In life, I was Terrance Kennedy. I was a big tall brother, so they called me Tiny. A little after midnight Saturday January 24th two Dallas town police called me away from a front step conversation with a neighbor. As they commanded me to lean on the prowler I was wondering what this was about. I knew I’d had a scuffle with a woman friend and there might be a warrant, but I also knew things had not gone well with the package my distributor had given me around Christmas, and I knew what happens to people who lose the cheese. I suspected my life was in my hands when I recognized the two trigger happy white officers.

    I was not a young gang banger at 44, and neither was I a bigtime criminal. We don’t have gangs in Dallas so the game is pretty informal. I was a sometimes thug working small gigs for local businessmen and also doing some roofing and remodeling work with my honest younger brother. I was an ex-con, served twelve years for possession and kept my mouth shut, and so making a straight living wasn’t easy. If prison is an education about how things really work in the community I had a doctorate, just no where to teach. I worked for local distributors and dealers, letting people know they needed their money and wasn’t going to take no bullshit. Sometimes I’d make a little adjustment just for emphasis, but I never offed no one. You get into the game for quick money, and you can’t help but see how sleazy policing and jailing are once you’re busted. The sheriffs in Gaston County do all their dirt through the trustee prisoners and the businessmen use people like me to handle the “radioactivity.”

    If you’re a civilian you might not know that dealing drugs was already about one third of the economy here before the Depression set in. It’s a mighty poor place. That means that a high percentage of what appear to be storefront businesses are fronts. I was laughing when an old car dealer in Charlotte got arrested for doctoring loan forms because most car dealerships are already floated on drug money. It used to be that about every little independent furniture store around here dabbled in distributing and money laundering, but the outlay has gotten bigger lately and a pizza place or a barbershop now will be way down on the chain, just an outlet for dealing. It’s an extremely competitive industry now and only those paying protection to the police stay in business at any real volume for any length of time. In fact, I’d say the main police role in the war on drugs is thinning out the competition.

    Sometimes a rogue police, being close to a businessman distributor will contract for a hit. I believe that’s what happened in my case. I understood what was going down so I ran in panic. If I hadn’t fell when I jumped the fence behind my sister’s house I might be alive today. First they tazered me, and they they beat me for awhile. They were just having fun and making it look good. If I’d got in the car I’d have never made it to the booking. I was struggling for my life when one ordered the other to, ”Shoot him!” My last words were, “Why? I didn’t have a weapon…” Then I passed. They’re lying about why now. “How can a man tazered down on his face with a big fat cop on his back grab at a gun? It never happened!”

    Am I sorry? I’m most sorry for the people who are witnesses and the old NAACP man who lived across Peachtree Street. I know you believe in justice, but you’re in danger and everything around Dallas is against you. The investigators will take the word of the shooters who have had plenty of time to make up a good story. “Everything” won’t come out! I’m sorry I brought violence to a quiet black neighborhood. I’m just glad that shooting ended with me. My family understands what I went through. Thank you for the dignity of my funeral at the United House of Prayer and for my grave at Kelley Chapel. It was good having my body returned to friendly hands after the violence and the autopsy. You all need to understand how drugs is always there when a proud man needs money. In this society you’re nothing without some cheese so the temptation is a big one. When you see the successful owners of your town running it you convince yourself it’s just the way of the world. Chief Gary Buckner knows the same things I know only from the establishment side. He’s an overweight nervous realist who lies to keep a job. You see the police enforcing the market and taking their cut, searching all the Hispanic cars for a stash or some cheese. You whitey racist police, you’re just like me, dumb players hungry for a little quick money. Before, or even after, you’ve taken a life for money you’d better repent and change your ways. Dallas is a dirty little hornet nest who even let the sewage treatment operator go to jail for the big men’s crimes. I wasn’t the best guy but I was good to kids and tried to help decent people when I could. I just wanted to have a place and be respected as a man. People, try to remember my good days, when I was a gentleman, joining in the good fun with you. Tiny has gone on ahead, and I’ll see most of you later.


    As an addendum: I am a single white female, head-of-household, mother, grandmother, raising my granddaughter. There are none more oppressed than us. We receive accusatory glances from our black counterparts if we qualify for Government help; we receive pitying scowls from white men men and women because we don't have a traditional family; we are denied good jobs because we have children to care for (all by ourselves); and we are too exhausted at the end of the day to complain to anyone about it. It's like John Lennon said, "Woman in the N----- of the World" so I wish everyone else would just sit down and shut up. We are all in this - this life - together.

    I just reflected on this topic in my morning devotional. in Frederick Buechner's book, Listening to Your Life, he states, "In 1957 when Governor Faubus of Arkansas refused to desegregate the schools in Little Rock, if President Eisenhower with all his enormous prestige had personally led a black child up the steps to where the authorities were blocking the school entrance, it might have been one of the great moments in history. It is heart-breaking to think of the opportunity missed."
    I agree with this statement because as in any organization, if an ideology or work ethic or spirit of cooperation is demonstrated at the top of the hill, then it will be modeled and imitated all the way down to the bottom. If there is incompatibility and discord at the top, it will be so on the bottom. Leadership in this country has been controlled by too many nay-sayers for too long. They don't want desegregation; they don't want to give up control; and I'm sure they don't like our new president whatsoever. I pray for his safety.
    President Obama is not just an African American President; he is a bi-racial man, who has insight on both sides of the race issue. Yet he won't get down in the mud with all the other black or white leaders when it comes to race. He stays above the fray and leads by example; the best example of leadership I've seen in many, many years.

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