There’s an awful lot of fuss about Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell’s recent “heated” argument about racism on The View.
Too bad everyone’s fussing about the wrong thing.
Before I go on, let me state a couple things for the sake of clarity. I don’t watch the View with any regularity. I’ve seen the occasional clip and that’s about it. I don’t follow celebrity news and spats. I see the trash rag headlines in the grocery store and catch bits on the radio, but in general I don’t really care what all the celebrities are up to.
And, to my detriment, I don’t follow the news very well in general. Between my inclination to internalize the world’s woes to the point that I can’t sleep (seriously) and the inevitable irritation that accompanies almost any news broadcast because 90% of what they’re covering is neither informative nor relevant, I tend to just tune it out. The resulting ignorance about current issues is a problem I haven’t figured out how to solve, but that’s another topic for another post.
Back to the View. While listening to the radio this morning, I heard about Goldberg and O’Donnell’s latest argument. The DJs played a clip of the worst part. They talked about how horrible it is that these ladies can’t get along and have a respectful conversation instead of shouting at each other. I gathered this was not the first time these two have gone at it.
Naturally, I thought this might be a lighthearted thing to Tweet about. Something I could make a little quip about. Hollywood drama.
That’s what everyone’s talking about isn’t it? The drama.
Drama, drama, drama.
I Googled it, read 3 or 4 articles about it, and watched a long clip of the discussion. Well before Whoopi and Rosie’s yelling match.
When I finally saw the clip for myself, what I found was an interesting discussion about all the various elements of racism and discrimination and ignorance that plague our country.
The fact that things got heated isn’t what interests me. I mean, first of all, we’re talking about a show designed to facilitate debate. People disagreed with one another?? Shocking!
Second, the subject is racism. A hot button topic like religion, politics, and poverty. Racism is one of the ugliest aspects of America’s past and present. A complicated issue that Americans of every color are struggling to resolve.
I wish this overblown celebrity spat was doing more to prompt an intelligent discussion of the issue at hand.
I wish more people were taking into consideration the various points discussed. I loved Laverne Cox’s intelligent remarks about implicit bias.
As I listened to the discussion, I thought one of the things going on was a debate on linguistics. Is the definition of racism limited to the perpetrator’s desire to harm, as Whoopi implies, or is it simply prejudging a person based on color, as other panelists suggested?
I think Whoopi was trying to say there’s a difference between wanting to shoot a person of color and assuming they’re there to park your car. I agree. Both situations are horrible, obviously. But it seemed to me she was saying we need to measure our responses to these different kinds of situations. I do think there’s wisdom in that.
However. That implicit bias Cox mentions is the common denominator in those two situations, and that is a problem we must continue to address.
Near the end, as things really heated up between Whoopi and Rosie, Whoopi pretty much said you can’t be white and know what racism is. But, based on her earlier comments about “white people that get it” and her reaction when people come up her asking, “Is that racism?”–her reply was, “I don’t know!”–I suspect she was caught up in the heat of the moment.
Do you have to be a person of color to know what racism is, or did Whoopi maybe mean a white person in America may not know how racism feels? For a lot of white Americans, that’s true. Perhaps not all, but I sure don’t know from personal experience what it’s like to be a victim of racism.
(Though, that doesn’t mean I can’t do my level best to try to understand, and it doesn’t stop me from being outraged by the racism that freaking STILL exists in this country. Nor does lack of personal experience automatically make one racist or apathetic.)
A man may not know what it’s like to give birth, but he knows what pregnancy IS. Heck a WOMAN who’s never given birth doesn’t know what it’s like. How could they?? And even women who have given birth really only know what that experience was like for them.
Obviously racism and giving birth are two completely different subjects. I’m not comparing them.
What I am saying is all the millions of people living in this country, regardless of color, have different experiences with and opinions about racism and if we want to continue to make progress toward eradicating it, we need to consider what people are saying.
I thought the women on the View brought up some excellent points. It was a good discussion.
It would be great if more people were talking about that instead of petty celebrity drama.
Then again, maybe I’m expecting too much from articles reporting about a television show.