Uninformed and Inarticulate?
In what has become the most popular area of
DiversityInc.com, Luke Visconti offers readers
the opportunity to confidentially ask questions
regarding diversity. You can find all questions
and answers at www.DiversityInc.com/ATWG.
Luke is one of two business partners who own
and run DiversityInc. He directs all editorial
and circulation functions.
Q: The reason white people under 40 are accustomed
to speaking to black people in slang is because GenXers
and MillGens live a highly integrated life. The fact is,
because of athletic scholarships and affirmative-action
programs, there are a lot of uninformed, inarticulate
black people on college campuses, and white people
have a lot of exposure to the “Ebonic” dialect during
the years at school and thereafter.
Black people say the things that Don Imus was
fired for all the time and yet the black leadership
refuses to call them out on it. Jesse Jackson and Al
Sharpton serve as enablers.
White people will not stand for a double standard,
even if black people think they are entitled to one.
A: I’ve met plenty of “uninformed and inarticulate”
people; most of them were white. This is a function
of proportion: Most people in this country are white,
and I find that ignorance is a fairly equal problem
across all groups.
Although I hear language from comedians and music
talent that is simply disgraceful and could not be used
in a professional environment by anyone, none of the
black people I know condone a double standard (quite
the opposite). If you follow the money on who is profiting from the garbage-language hip hop and comedy, it
is white people who consume most of the product and
white people who own and control most of
the production and distribution channels.
This, too, is a function of proportion—and
of exploitation and privilege.
You’re right, younger generations are
more diverse; however, our public-school
system has never been more segregated.
Your opinions indicate a sheltered and
closed life, which is a symptom of living
in those conditions. People who limit
themselves like you apparently tend to rely on stereo-
types to help frame their world in terms that their
small minds can comprehend.
I suggest you focus less on pundits and more
on people actually in the situation—in the case of
Imus, you can review comments from people like
[Rutgers’ women’s basketball] Coach C. Vivian
Stringer, Bruce Gordon (CBS board member) and
Gwen Ifill (PBS commentator who was called a
“cleaning woman” by Imus). I think you’ll find their
comments to be much more relevant and informative.
I also think the waffling exhibited by NBC and CBS
executives speaks very eloquently for itself. They didn’t
make a choice until sponsors made their next step
obvious: A show without sponsors would be described
by the IRS as a “hobby.”
In my opinion, the major “mainstream” networks
and publications demonstrate a very unsophisticated
and limited worldview when they turn to the same
people in every case involving African Americans. It
serves their audience and advertisers as well as having
Ralph Reed be the sole spokesperson for white men in
every case that involves them.
I appreciate your e-mail. It would be very boring to
receive nothing but e-mail that agrees with me. Here is
some unsolicited advice: Please consider broadening
your reality. A closed mind is the greatest limitation to
fulfilling potential. DI