A white Republican caller from a southern state called into C-Span recently complaining, of all things, about too many blacks calling in to C-Span asking questions about the news:
Well, this is rather interesting. He does not like blacks calling in so much (as independents and Republicans) on the Republican line, and claims that 80 percent of these inquisitive callers are black. And not really Republican-oriented.
Well, how does he know that they are 80 percent black? And, since he really believes they dominate the questioners, why doesn’t he praise their great interest in questioning and learning about US politics and related matters. Is that part of a certain traditional southern “white culture’s” white framing of black folks?
Ok…I don’t know where to start on commenting this. Joe, you brought up a lot of good questions here, and thinking about it, why should this guy be concerned who the callers are? Is he saying that most or all callers should be white, Christian, conservative, male republicans, and if that was the case, then C-Span would be taken more seriously according to his views?
Jon Stewart had some pointed comments on this c-span caller on his show last week. A couple of thoughts come to mind on this: first, it shows the complexities of race and all its contents; not just color, but other social markers such as someone’s voice (of course, the caller is likely mistaken at least some of the time with his assumptions–the 80% the caller speaks of is a good example of whites’ tendency to overestimate the mere presence of blacks, which represents the threat whites perceive blacks to be). Second, to extend on Will’s point, this serves as a good example how at least some whites speak of freedom of speech or expression yet get incensed when black folks exercise such rights. We still live in a separate and unequal country, with blacks still treated as second-class citizens.
“…this serves as a good example how at least some whites speak of freedom of speech or expression yet get incensed when black folks exercise such rights.”
That’s true, John. Some whites truly believe that they are “entitled” to freedom of speech or expression especially when it comes to their racist views. They think that since they have the right to free speech, that they have an excuse for expressing their racist views.
The caller is appalling, but I like the honesty in a way – the Republican Party and conservatism is being exposed as exclusively white and hostile to African Americans (and Latinos). Perhaps no big news there, but I tend to appreciate these kinds of things coming to light in the mainstream.
My jaw dropped a couple times listening to his idiotic spiel, but the really troubling thing was the response he got, a kind of “sorry you feel that way, but we appreciate your call,” legitimating the whole thing. Do commentators lack adequate training to deal effectively with these types of phone comments, or are they not allowed to challenge callers?
I was surprised at the commentator’s impartial attitude also. But I honestly think he didn’t know what to say. Not exactly a think-on-your-feet person.
I believe this caller was not per se objecting to African Americans wanting to be informed, but rather objecting to African Americans calling in on ‘his’ program..meaning White, Republican, conservative. And I also love that little warning he gave the commentator about ‘if this continues, you’ll lose all your white callers’!
Kinda like going into your favorite all white old-money restaurant and seeing [gasp!] a party of black people. My gosh! If this type of thing continues, you tell the manager, why.. don’t you be surprised if all your white customers go Somewhere Else! To me, this is like being in a time warp.
Guess the old fool doesn’t realize black people can now vote and [even] use the same drinking fountains whites can in these crazy, new-fangled times. What is the world coming to Martha?
@ Kristen & marandaNJ, Stewart took the c-span host to task for his weak response, and it brings up the issue of how whites practice antiracism in everyday matters. More generally, whites don’t want to “rock the boat” and avoid confrontations. In some instances they do it for financial or business reasons. How can we achieve progress in this society if we can’t even point racism out when it appears?
@John D. Foster
I know you are correct in that whites are afraid of rocking the boat regarding racism, especially in the media. But it is precisely in the media where they should feel especially comfortable addressing this! The 4th Estate, otherwise known as The Media, has a responsibility to All American Citizens and should work very hard to be fair and equitable to all callers/commentators.
If I were the commentator [anybody jump in here if they have any other ideas on how to respond] I would have said, “Sir, we thank you for your comments. However, this line is open to all Americans no matter what race or creed they are. That’s what makes this country and this television station a democracy. Any American has the prvilege to call in and comment. Thank you.” I think the guy would get the point. You’re not calling him a racist, but darn you are implying it.