Anonymous asked: You've obviously never seen Lamont on O'Reilly before... probably because you never actually watch what you criticize, you just read about other people writing about FOX News.
Here’s a little note that I got in response to my reblog, yesterday, of a couple of screenshots from a 2010 Fox News broadcast in which Bill O’Reilly told Marc Lamont Hill that he looked like a cocaine dealer — to which I added a screenshot of my own, from a Simpsons episode, that took Fox News and its viewers to task for racism.
The point that my anonymous friend wants to make, I presume, is that this was just a joke between friends, that O’Reilly was kidding around that his frequent guest understood it to be the sort of good-natured ribbing that one should always expect from someone as clever as O’Reilly.
Here’s the video of this particular incident:
Look how much fun they’re having! Such witty banter!
But here’s the thing: Just because the person on the receiving end of a racist joke laughs it off or — as in this case — has a snappy comeback at the ready doesn’t mean that the joke wasn’t racist. Ask yourself this: What were Hill’s options? As the guest on Bill O’Reilly’s television show, could he have turned to O’Reilly and simply said, “You’re a racist, Bill” before taking off his microphone and walking off the set? Sure, he could have.
Except that O’Reilly and other older white gentlemen like himself are the ones in power and this means they get to make these jokes, while Hill and anyone else who might complain about them are not in positions of power and this means that, if Hill ever wants to be invited back or to be invited to appear on another program, he has to accept the joke, to banter with O’Reilly, regardless of his actual feelings, regardless of the way in which O’Reilly has made a gross generalization about the way he looks, one that is built on what I hope we’ll all someday understand is an unacceptable linking of black men and drug crime that is today pervasive in our society and that both fosters and is fostered by the so-called War on Drugs.
This is O’Reilly’s privilege on display.
Because of O’Reilly’s skin color and wealth and fame — and because he controls his show and who appears on it and how much they are able to say — he doesn’t think twice about telling a Columbia University professor that he looks like a drug dealer because he is black.
And because you didn’t find the joke offensive, or because Hill didn’t seem offended to you, or because you didn’t think about the way that power and privilege fundamentally shape the way these two men interact, it’s your privilege on display too, my anonymous friend.