Ignorance versus racism

I am sure many of you heard about Mr O’Reilly’s comments about his visit to a black restaurant in NYC. If not you can see the transcript here. I am not condoning what he says because it was really stupid especially for someone who lives in a city that is diverse. However I can see where you can live in a city and not interact with other cultures. There are cities in South Florida where you can stay within your culture and never interact with other. There is Little Havana, Little Haiti and “Jamaica Hill” (Lauderhill). If you are from any of these countries you can live and work in these cities without interacting with other cultures.

I can also see where you can live anywhere in the world and have a similar impression of black Americans because of way blacks are portrayed by the media. If many of us Jamaicans admit it we also stereotyped black Americans before we came to the USA. I remember friends in Jamaica who would imitate black Americans by saying “Yo Man” “Waz up” and walking like Huggie bear from Starsky and Hutch. The images we got on TV in Jamaica is what produced these stereotypes. Why would it be different for other folks? I remember reading somewhere that in Africa the view of many black Africans is that Black Americans love to swear and use “N” word. BET and MTV is what is seen by many as “black” culture.

I have met white folks in America who have never interacted with a black person before. In fact in one Northern State I visited I was invited to dinner of a white co-worker from a satellite office. It was there he admitted to me that he has never interacted with another black person and only saw black people on TV and at the airport. I was the first black person he has ever shook hands with. Was I offended? No.

Again I am not condoning O’Reilly’s statement but there are people who do not know anything different because they have never interacted with black people.

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