On a C-Span show called 'The Washington Journal,' a caller raised eyebrows by stating that too many black people are calling in to the show. The caller, a guy named Bill, who is a North Carolina Republican, stated that C-Span should change their name to "Black-Span," because "if they [African Americans] are only 10 or 12 percent of the population, there's no way they seem to be 80 percent of your callers."
Bill, who actually doesn't sound like a dumb person, goes on to say that "Every one of 'em [African Americans] thinks that Obama is Jesus Christ, and they don't like when anybody criticizes him."
I listened to Bill's comments carefully, because I didn't think he was coming out of left field. Bill's theory was that it wasn't an accident that so many of the C-Span callers just happen to be black. He speculated that he and other conservatives would grow tired of watching C-Span if they didn't make changes to the callers who were allowed to get through the line. One could easily write Bill off as just another North Carolina yahoo who doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut. In fact, that's probably what he is, to a point. His language certainly fails the test of political correctness, and his use of broad generalizations is incredibly problematic.
But when we take a deeper look at Bill's comments, we can notice the following:
1) Bill's thoughts are not uncommon, especially in places like North Carolina: There is quite a bit of latent racial hostility all throughout the country toward the African American community and President Obama. Much of this hostility is thinly disguised as a populist movement. The truth is, though, that Bill was one of the few conservatives brave enough to say some of the things that millions of others are thinking.
2) Bill is right that African Americans are in love with Obama: I don't believe in falling in love with a politician. It's like falling in love with a corporation or writing poetry for your pimp. The truth is that African American support for Obama crosses the line of objective analysis and falls in to the category of idealistic fascination. That is a recipe for disaster in American politics, since our unconditional support significantly weakens our negotiating position with the White House. That's why the fight between Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley might actually be a good thing.
3) There is a good chance that Bill is also right about the probabilities of African Americans calling in to the show: Bill's points that there are far too many black callers on the show and that "there's no way this is an accident" could be correct. It could be the case that there is either a concerted effort for large numbers of people to call in to the show or that the producers are deliberately choosing to pipe through callers who provide dissenting opinions. Either way, show producers typically incorporate their own biases when choosing which voices get to be heard. Networks also show their biases by infrequently hiring African Americans to host major shows on their networks. CNN, for example, has Nancy Grace, Jane Valez Mitchell, Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, but will there ever be a show called Roland Martin or Donna Brazile? Probably not for a very long time.
So, while I don't agree with Bill's ideology and I certainly believe that he is treading in dangerous water, the truth is that Bill is probably mildly accurate in his statements. At the very least, he deserves credit for being honest. So, rather than attacking Bill and getting angry, because he makes reference to the black callers on the show, I actually find his use of freedom of speech to be quite refreshing. As long as everyone has a voice, it is almost always okay for people to say what they truly believe.
Here is the video if you'd like to watch:
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the new book, 'Black American Money.' To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your e=mail, please click here.