By Kevin Chiucchini, @kevincushingc
On Thursday’s Sirius XM show, we intended to continue the conversation of fake news and how we define it. After Deadspin’s video criticizing Sinclair for “must-run” segments, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and our 45th President declaring on Twitter the difference between real and fake news, we were excited to take the calls and hear what the people had to say. What was intended to be a conversation about fake news quickly turned into a discussion on racial and cultural conditioning. We questioned why there seem to be news outlets that are focused on a certain ethnicity and whether or not it was appropriate. This opened up a bigger discussion on the topic of acting “white” versus acting “black” because of the fear of being ostracized.
One caller was confident that she needed to change her hair style because her white co-workers would have treated her differently. As we always do, Armstrong and I pressed the issue further. How would they treat you differently and what would they say? Was there an example in the past? The caller was upset and understandably unable to find an example on the spot, but it was her emotion that struck me the most. Why does she feel the need to hide who she really is?
After eight months of having the privilege to share my opinions and knowledge on AW’s show, I have concluded that it’s nearly impossible to tell someone’s race or ethnicity over the phone. You can make assumptions on the dialect (yes, we have those) or the accent, but that would also mean you are unknowingly prejudging. Sometimes, I’m afraid my message comes off as too sentimental, so to be blunt, let’s not move backwards. If you feel the need to tone down your “blackness” in front of your white friends or co-workers, I would encourage you to try and be yourself. Establish the difference between formal and informal behavior, and don’t let people convince you that acting formal is synonymous with acting “white”.
Too often, we are boxed into a corner when it comes to our views, but who is to blame? The most important lesson I learned from this show is that we make assumptions to fill in the gaps. Those gaps are the lack of knowledge that can either be blamed on one’s upbringing or the information one is given later in life. Can we blame the media for focusing on sensational headlines and stirring up hatred? Yes. Can we also blame netizens for stirring up extreme right and extreme left rhetoric online that causes property damage, injury and in some cases, even death? Yes.