A day or two ago, CNN declared in its broadcast that Juan Williams, a frequent commentator on The O'Reilly Factor and other Fox television programs, was a "Happy Negro".
O'Reilly was having lunch at a Harlem restaurant with Al Sharpton, talking about how sometimes whites feared black people, and that it was primarily driven out of fear. Just look at how the media portrays black people far too often as gang-bangers, or half-literate hoodlums that can't speak proper English. On his radio program, O'Reilly remarked to Juan Williams that the restaurant that they were eating at was just like any other restaurant run by white people.
The comment was taken completely out of context by CNN, and O'Reilly was portrayed as anti-black. Juan Williams, who was talking to him on the radio, was called a "happy negro" for speaking to O'Reilly and having a civil conversation about all this.
A month ago, if you asked me how race relations were in America, I would have said "pretty good." My family is about as integrated as they come. Between me, my husband, my husband's brother and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her husband, there are exactly 3 white people and three black people. Nobody ever gives us problems. My biracial daughter has no problem making friends and tends to be popular wherever she goes. My biracial son is the darling of the church nursery... even the other children come up to him and call him "the cute baby."
But obviously, despite so much progress, underneath the surface there is much tension. Look at the whole Jena 6 controversy. That is a mess all around. There are both whites and blacks that have acted poorly in that one. Then you have this whole O'Reilly/Williams/Happy Negro controversy. How insulting can CNN be? To me, calling someone a "happy negro" brings up thoughts of old slave/plantation stereotypes a la Driving Miss Daisy.
Give me a break. Both me and my husband watch the O'Reilly Factor regularly and I've never seen anything on the program to make me believe that he is a racist. We've both read two of his books and never have seen anything that we perceive as racist. Juan Williams always appears intelligent and seems to have his own opinion.
CNN seems to be the racist ones to me. Happy Negro? Come on. Reminds me of when my husband decided that he was going to go to college and he asked for a small (1/2 hour a week) schedule accommodation from his boss. His boss's reply was a no and implied that he shouldn't be wasting his time trying to better himself, and what, was his job answering phones not good enough or something? Like maybe he should just be satisfied making below the mean salary for the rest of his life, letting his computer talents go to waste. I'm not sure if the comment at the time was meant to be insulting or not, but it sure sounded along those lines. And so does "happy negro". I didn't watch CNN before, and I'm certainly going to think twice before turning it on again.
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