May 09, 2013 - Issue 516 Quit the Post-Racial Talk - The Other Side of the Tracks By Perry Redd, BC Columnist

I was watching the Sunday morning talk shows on the five major networks two weeks ago, and got hung up on one of the earlier shows.  I saw several political pundits opine on the state of the country and the intent of congress as we grapple with the nation’s problems.  It occurred to me that none of these people on my TV screen looked like me.  Then, I went outside, walked to the corner of the closest, busy intersection near my house.  I stood there for five minutes and watched people walking and cars go by.  I saw people who looked like me.

I then walked back home, sat down in front of the television again and watched the ratings leader.  The host was interviewing four top advisors to former President George W. Bush: former Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, his predecessor Andy Card; former counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, and former Chief of Staff to the First Lady, Ann McBride.

As they conversed about the Bush legacy, I rewound my memory to the three earlier political talk shows (no, I don’t have cable) and realized that every single pundit was a white person! What? You mean to tell me that all of the people in the top recesses of government are white…still?

It occurred to me that my grandsons who watched with me the bit of TV I do watch, will come away with the impression that all things authoritarian in America is dictated by white people.  I’m glad I’m watching with them.  It is imperative that I refute and retard that impression.  That impression also comes with the inference that anyone selected to speak on issues of importance are also “the smartest people in the room.”  From the Bush legacy, there’s clear evidence that such is not the case.

Later that afternoon, I trolled through the radio dial for political talk and every single voice of authority was a white one.  Whether incendiary AM talk or pro-corporate soft news, It’s a white voice on the end of all things authority.

I am embittered by the premise.  I just ran for DC’s Council and debated issues with some thought to be the “smartest minds in the room.”  They didn’t outsmart me nor overpower my linguistic skill set.  We were equals before the public.  Even though the public chose the status quo in the end, the consensus of media pundits and pols’ was that I won - knowledgeable and authoritative on the issues.

Now, as this commentary was sitting in the can awaiting publication, this past week’s Sunday morning talk show leader pulled a left turn on me - and featured two Black pundits!  Of course, they were sharp, articulate, informed and accurate.  It was as if they were reading my commentary (which wouldn’t be so bad).  Another notable front-runner featured a Black, a woman and two Latinos!  Although one of the Blacks and one of the Latinos were questionably lighter-hued, I had to ask, were they reading my mind?

Just like the spin on race relations in America, “one show don’t make no cabaret!”  Of course I’ll be waiting for next week’s panel, next week’s subject authorities.  The whos are as important as the whats.  It appears that Blacks (and minorities) can be featured speakers on social injustice issues: affirmative action, immigration, voting rights, while whites-only panels are reserved for constitutional discussions, national defense and corporate debates—“big boy” matters.

Why do I bring this up?  Simply because watching the mainstream broadcasts reminded me why I no longer frequent mainstream broadcasts.  If un-educated, I’d come away believing that white people have all the answers, all the solutions and everything in-between.  This is the perception of missionaries, colonists, and imperialists.
Regardless of the color of your skin, this is an erroneous Belief System - or BS.  This BS is the reason why we cannot get past race and racism.  This BS is why we have to continue the fight against voter suppression, gentrification, selective prosecution, wealth disparity, employment discrimination, mass incarceration or racially-driven home mortgage foreclosures.  Racism is not over, not past and we cannot “move on.”  America is still racist, still prejudiced and still steeped in its sordid history.

We’re having the same debates 50 years later that prevailed 50 years ago: Bull Conner was preventing Black folks from voting in 1963; in 2012, we battled against voter ID laws. Black folks were prevented from owning homes in white-dominated neighborhoods prior to 1965; in 2013, Blacks folks, in the District of Columbia, are forced out of neighborhoods by white gentrifiers.  Schools were legally segregated before the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling; now we’ve got traditional schools vs. charter schools—disparate resources, same system: “separate but equal.”  Nothing’s changed in this racist paradigm, except that our children are veiled to the truth and none the wiser.

I repeat: Racism is not over.  Whether it’s overt or covert, it’s not over.  Whether it’s politics or entertainment, it’s not over.  Whether the media is social or mainstream, it’s not over. So the next time someone comes to you with that BS that we can just “move forward in our changed America,” slap ‘em upside the head for me and tell ‘em to quit the post-racial talk. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, “The Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.