Today I read one of the dumbest headlines: "No, Oprah, America isn't racist."
Apparently, Mark Joseph, a USA Today columnist, would like you to believe that Oprah Winfrey is wrong in her assertion that there are racial inequalities in our country.
Using several anecdotes, Joseph claims he has been "colorblind" since the third grade and argues that because Oprah has had a successful career, we clearly have reached a post-racial America.
While many, well-intentioned (white) progressives want to claim that they are "colorblind," as Joseph says he is, denying the daily experiences of people of color (whether they be a media mogul like Winfrey or an average college student), is problematic at best.
As a reminder, here's just a small sampling of several recent racist news stories:
- The "Catch an Illegal"game at the University of Texas
- The story about Trayon Christian, a 19 year old engineering student who was racially profiled and arrested for buying a $350 designer belt with his OWN credit card at Barneys.
- The story of Earl Sampson a young, black male who has been searched more than 100 times in the same store where he works as a clerk.
- Remember when Jamie Foxx received tremendous backlash for wearing Trayvon Martin shirts? Well, apparently Macklemore has been getting lots of praise from the media for paying tribute to Martin at the American Music Awards. #WTF?
- Racial profiling policies like Stop and Frisk disproportionately target young, black and brown men in cities like New York and Philadelphia. (This, too, is called racism.)
- The YouTube page for Cheerios cereal had to disable their comments section because of the hateful comments regarding their ad depicting an interracial family.
- When Twitter was set ablaze with hate when Sebastien De La Cruz, an 11-year-old, Mexican-American singer, because he wore a Mariachi suit during his performance of the "Star Spangled Banner."
- Many Americans still support racism in sports.
So, while I agree that the thought that we have reached a post-racial America sounds lovely, this is not a reality yet.
When Mark Joseph says "Oprah is still living in that other time and era in which people separated themselves from one another primarily on the basis of race — a real time to be sure — but one that is, for the most part, not our reality today," further proves my point he is not the one rooted in reality.
Winfrey is living in 2013 as a black woman – yes, a rich, black woman – but a black woman still. Joseph, on the other hand, has white male privilege. This privilege is what makes him think that he can discredit her argument despite his lack of personal experience.
Perhaps what Joseph should have said was, "Things are better for people of color in America than when slavery was legal, so I feel better about my white privilege. Let's move on."