It’s bad enough that Fox News can’t stop whitesplaining to Oprah Winfrey that she was too racially sensitive about Trayvon Martin's death but for America Live host (white) Martha MacCallum to gang up with (white) birther Dee Dee Benkie to accuse Winfrey of being overly-sensitive about racial profiling was really beyond the pale, pardon the pun. Even worse, Benkie baselessly suggested Oprah had made up an anecdote about being profiled in a fancy store in Zurich to promote her new movie.
In case you missed it, this latest pretext for scolding Oprah is the fact that the salesclerk in Zurich Winfrey said had racially profiled her has come forward to deny it. So, naturally, the Fox News' white ladies were certain that Winfrey had not only made a mistake but was damaging race relations at the same time.
“How is that racism?” MacCallum challenged African American Jehmu Greene, who was defending Oprah on the show yesterday. Benkie, at the same time, shook her head and said it was “not true.”
“If it’s not everyday racism, then it’s everyday bias,” Greene explained.
Benkie, who had not been in the store and who undoubtedly has no experience being racially profiled, nevertheless adjudged the clerk innocent – and Winfrey guilty. “I’m sorry, but I think it’s unfair to the store clerk. She may have been rude, but to call her a racist? …Maybe Oprah Winfrey was miffed because (the clerk) didn’t know who she was. …It’s just as damaging when you call someone a racist, when you don’t have proof of it, than when someone acts like one.”
But that wasn’t enough sneering for Benkie. “Oprah’s got a movie out. …I mean, it would be really terrible if she was using this story to promote the movie. I’m not saying that. But I gotta say that it’s not fair to call anyone a racist whenever there’s no proof of it.”
No, it’s just fair to call someone a liar for the sake of promoting a movie when there’s no proof of it. Or to question the legitimacy of a president for no reason.
And to be clear, Oprah never called the clerk a racist. She said she had been racially profiled. And even if Benkie can’t tell the difference, “objective” host MacCallum (this show aired at 1 PM ET, during what Fox says is its objective news block) should have. But she joined the pile-on with this ridiculous analogy. “I could have walked in there with, you know, flip-flops on and, you know, ripped jeans which I do own several pairs and probably would have gotten the same treatment, I would imagine.”
Uh, Martha, I think the point is that Oprah was probably not dressed that way. Unless you think that being black is equivalent to looking sloppy and/or poor.
But MacCallum wasn’t done scolding. “The problem with it is that when we call something like this racist, it perpetuates this, you know, discussion, it makes people think that, ‘Oh, yeah, people are still racist. It happens all the time. It happens all the time.’ It just continues that mantra. And that’s damaging.”
“Very much so,” Benkie chimed in.
I don’t know how Greene didn’t get up and walk out.
As for “promoting her movie,” it’s technically NOT Oprah’s movie. Whitaker is the star of the film and Lee Daniels is the director. THEY are the folks who should be doing the REAL promoting. (OTOH, Oprah’s never really been a good interview SUBJECT. She’s always done a better job on the other side of the interview. And, believe me, if she still were doing her show, the last two weeks would’ve been non-stop promotion of the movie. She would’ve interviewed Whitaker and Daniels and brought on Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave and Robin Williams and every other major star in a minor role before bringing on the cinematographer and original music composer and costumer and anyone else connected with the film willing to sit down for a 10-minute interview.
What can we do? Buggared if I know.
“You are not alone though – racism exists on every continent and always will.”
Perhaps, Peter. But it seems we’ve stepped into some time machine and traveled back to the days when racism was overt and even accepted in some circles. I have several ‘friends’ of many years that have come ‘out of the closet’ and have shown themselves to be racist bastards. The rebirth of the KKK, other hate groups and militias has been remarkable.
I think Oprah’s statements are causing that now. Because she is black, I would guess that the reacting group now is the group who are racist against blacks.
She may as well have been less subtle. State the truth, that racism is alive and well in the US. You are not alone though – racism exists on every continent and always will.
“So I’m a sistah
Buy things with cash
That really doesn’t mean that all my credit’s bad, oooh
So why dispute me and waste my time
Because you really think the price is high for me
I can’t look without being watched, and oh
You rang my buy before I made up my mind, OW!
Oh now attitude, why even bother
I can’t change your mind, you can’t change my color”
But then again, maybe MacCallum’s music taste leans a little more (ahem) “white bread” than En Vogue.