Thursday, June 23, 2005

A love-hate relationship with Larry Elder

One of the most frustrating shows I have ever seen on TV is Larry Elder's.

He is a fifty+ black talk show host (who I think used to be a lawyer) and seems to always talk about issues that are really interesting to me.

Yesterday, he had 4 women on his show. 2 believed that women should stay home with their kids and not go to work. The other 2 have kids and work and wouldn't change that even if they could.

Today's show was a wake up call for me. Blatant racism against blacks is alive and well. A white dad, mom, and 20+ year old daughter were on the show. They told her, ever since she was young, that interracial dating was immoral. They disowned her when she married a black man and disavow their mixed grandchild.

"Is there any kind of black man, with any kind of resume, acceptable to you for your daughter to marry?" Larry Elder asked.

Without a moment's hesitation, both replied, "No."

"If I came to your house and said that I was dating your daughter, what would you say?" asked Larry (who, judging from this question, seems to be some kind of glutton for punishment).

"I'd say, 'Don't let the door hit you on the way out'," was the mother's reply.

That show was frustrating. For 30+ minutes I heard the mom and dad spew racist ideas and at the same time, deny that they're really racist. Maybe they're not. Maybe they don't think that blacks are inferior to whites. Maybe, as they claim, they just don't believe that different races should mix. Whatever their views, I was unhappy.

I suppose I was unhappy that they even brought up race in the first place. I grew up indoctrinated by public education to believe that race doesn't matter. Race should not figure into any important equation. Race should not ever be a factor. A person's race is superficial.

But here they were. Husband and wife, parading on stage with a litany of ideas, completely beholden to them, unapologetically denouncing everything that I had ever been taught about race. How could they do that?! What makes them so confident and sure?

I am not satisfied to simply encounter a different opinion and say, "Oh well, different strokes for different folks." I want to understand. And I don't want simple intellectual understanding, I want an existentially satisfying understanding. I want to feel the truth of their truth. I want to feel the persuasiveness of their argument. I want to be seduced, but not give in.

But I can't understand the racist couple. I can't understand the moms-should-stay-at-home women. And for that, I hate Larry Elder's talk show.

How dare he bring up interesting topics and not even try to resolve them, just a little bit. He just asks questions that put his guests' eccentric opinions on display, never asking them to justify them. Never challenging them. Never getting the audience just one little step further towards any real understanding. He just leaves me hangin'.


Infinity8Ball said...

The racist simply sees things as matter-of-fact. They hear on TV things about racism being completely unjust and unfounded, and therefore when they look at their own opinions, don't consider themselves to be racist.

Much of it however is generational. We're not very far removed from MLK and the days when he went to work. So you have our grand parents generation that grew up before all that big fuss about racism. Then our parents who were aware of it, but still had some tendencies they might have picked up, but don't see it as what was being done before. Then you have us, the younger generation, who have seen even more and move to correct it.

Who knows, you and I may be racist in ways our children can see and you and I can not. It's just where our culture currently is at the moment, and thus we're blind unless we can step out and observe it.

Infinity8Ball said...

PS. Glad you guys made it to Boston ok! I wish you both the best of luck!

Infinity8Ball said...

Hey Christina,

Thanks for respecting the temptation to remain anonymous. You know what I'm talking about. ;^)

Anyway, I found this by just following the rabbit trail. I saw you post, and noticed a kind of inside knowledge that made me curious as to who it was. So I tracked down the many links and ta-da, here we are!

It would be fun for the 3 of us to play Catan again (even if you 2 "team up" by being on the same team), but I thought the free trial ended? Did Mike find a new place to play?

melissa said...

funny, i watched the same show. i missed most of the racist parts, only saw it on the previews. but i saw the parts about working, and it was really irritating/interesting all at the same time, as you seem to have found out. ;p