During yesterday’s episode of “The View,” Mediaite reports, Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin wasted no time explaining why actress Stacey Dash’s opinions of the Oscars boycotts are misguided. Dash and her supporters are responding to celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, who have chosen to boycott the Oscars this year in response to its lack of diversity.
Dash feels that this boycott, channels like BET (Black Entertainment Television), and the BET Awards are promoting segregation. She argued that people would be very upset if the situation were reversed and there were channels and awards shows where only white people were allowed.
While Dash’s remarks were obviously the subject that started the heated debate, fuel was thrown on the fire by co-host Paula Farris. Farris questioned whether black magazines, television networks, and historical remembrance months actually promote segregation.
Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin were quick to fire back and explain to Farris why she was incorrect.
Hostin replied to Farris, “The bottom line is the reason there is a Black History Month is that as far as I remember, when I was in school, I knew nothing about my history. I wasn’t taught about my history.”
Goldberg followed up, asking Farris, “What do you know about black history?” After Farris replied that she knew what she had learned in school, Goldberg asked if that was anything more than, “There were slaves.”
Discussions like this often get heated, but it is important that Goldberg and Hostin responded the way they did. Some might criticize their tone or choice of words, but the message has to get across somehow.
The reason Black History Month exists is exactly as Hostin says. If it didn’t, little would ever be learned about black history since most history books filter their lessons through a white lens — hence the Christopher Columbus narrative many of us were fed as children.
Networks and magazines dedicated to black audiences were created for the same reasons. Without them, there would be very little representation on television or in print, since most shows and stories are filtered through the same white lens.
Arguments about “reverse racism” often emerge when anything specifically dedicated to a non-white audience comes up. It is what Dash alludes to in her arguments against BET and its awards.
The fact, though, is that there is a severe power imbalance between white people and all people of color. White people are not being oppressed when they are left out of the BET Awards — and, for the record, they have never actually been excluded — because they have every other awards show out there. White people are not being oppressed when Black History Month is celebrated, because they have the other eleven months of the year to celebrate their history.
It was surely jarring for Farris to receive the response she got from Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin, but she also needed to learn an valuable lesson. It is easy to feel attacked or put down in discussions like the one that occurred on “The View,” but it is more important for those of us with privilege to work on putting hurt feelings aside and, instead, focus on what can be learned in these situations.
Watch a video of the full discussion here, courtesy of The View via Youtube.
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