A clip from C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal" on Sunday has gone viral after a white caller asked a black guest what he can do to confront his own prejudice.
A man who identified himself as “Gary” called the show and said, “I was hoping your guest could help me change my mind about some things.”
“I’m a white male, and I am prejudiced,” Gary said.
Image source: C-SPAN
Gary said he is “very discouraged at what young black males are doing to each other, and the crime rates,” and “it’s a deep issue that goes beyond that.”
“What can I do to change, you know?” Gary asked. “To be a better American?”
While Gary spoke, the guest, Heather McGhee, the president of Demos, a progressive public policy organization, nodded encouragingly.
McGhee thanked the caller for his honesty and for opening up an “important” conversation. She said America’s diversity is “beautiful” but can at times present a “challenge.”
McGhee said “people of all races and ethnicities and backgrounds” should ask the question Gary asked.
“So what can you do?” she began. “Get to know black families who are not all — and not even any majority — involved in crime and gangs.”
McGhee also suggested that Gary “turn off the news at night” because “nightly news in many media markets that have been studied actually over-represents African-American crime and under-represents crime that happens by white people.”
“Join a church, if you are a religious person, that is a black church or that is a church that is interracial,” she added. “Start to read about the history of the African-American community in this country. Foster conversation in your family and in your neighborhood where you are asking exactly those kinds of questions.”
“This fear of communities that we do not live near ... is tearing us apart,” she said.
The clip has since been viewed more than 1 million times.
McGhee told Fusion that she is surprised by the moment’s popularity.
“In the moment that the exchange happened, I felt deeply moved and glad that the exchange had happened,” McGhee said. “But I also then had 10 other calls, many of which were also about race or politics or the economy ... I didn’t know when I walked off the set that it would reach millions of people.”
McGhee said she thinks the video is resonating with people “because of [Gary's] bravery in admitting something that had become taboo.”
“And then I think because our news media so thrives on conflict, the viewer’s expectation may have been that I would have responded in an angry way,” she continued. “But anyone who knows me and the work that we’re trying to do at Demos wouldn’t have been surprised at my response.”
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