Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Just Say it!

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Here’s the thing.

Whenever I hear many commentators talking about an issue that involves black people, they almost always hit a speed bump in their pacing whenever the teleprompter rolls up to the words “black people” or “African-American people”.  I’ve noticed this for years now and it really stands out compared to whenever they have to give the nomenclature for any of the other four federally “protected” minority groups, to wit:

Asian-American

Native-American

Hispanic-American, or

Pacific Islander American

There just doesn’t seem to be the same kind of angst there.  Those groups seem to roll off the tongues of commentators, announcers, pundits, whoever.  But when it comes to saying “black” or “African-American”, it seems there’s some kind of an asteroid collision happening in the heads of the talking heads, as if they are torn between not wanting to sound bigoted and not wanting to seem bigoted.

The difference being, in the former, “This is how I should say this which is how other culturally informed, color blind professionals in my field say this in the second decade of the third millennium”, versus the latter “I’m really uncomfortable with this because I’m uncomfortable with a lot connected to this and I don’t want to expose that un-comfortableness but I’m afraid I will”.   Most recently, I heard this on my beloved NPR, the supposed broadcasting paragon of diversity and enlightenment.

For God’s sake, just say it and move on.  As I heard a grown black man, who was no doubt prompted, stand up and say in a Denny’s in Cincinnati on New Years Day, 2000, “This is the year Two-Thousand!  You people need to get over it.”

Seems like we still do.

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Written by Interviewer

May 20, 2014 at 02:09

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