Time-Warner owns HBO. Time-Warner owns CNN. During the past week, HBO’s political analyst/comedian Bill Maher dropped the N-bomb on air–not the first time that he has done it we have since learned–and not only does he not get fired, but he gets celebrated Black scholar Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and rap music legend Ice Cube to come on air and forgive him (impliedly) on behalf of Black folks across America.
Reza Aslan, a scholar and host on CNN, fired off Tweets calling President Donald Trump an “embarrassment to human kind” and a “piece of excrement” after Trump embarrassed himself and the nation by taking London Mayor Safir Khan’ s comments after last week’s terror attack completely out of context and making foolish remarks to inspire his foolish and often poorly read base. A base, I remind, that often takes Trump’s spin as the Gospel truth and his anti-Muslim bias as their charge to keep.
That Time-Warner supports one and axes the other is simply example number “fiddy-leven” million in American history where people of color are not given the same margin of error that whites receive on a daily basis. Yep, the phrase “white privilege” is not a figment of the collective imaginations of people of color, but a reality that rears its head in varying ways, major and minor, when white folks do not hold white folks to the same exacting standards that they hold people of color.
For example, such privilege is how white cocaine users and dealers in the 1980s-2000s got lighter sentences and slaps on the wrist and rehab while black crack cocaine users and dealers got hard time and life without parole.
It is how Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could sexually assault women and never lose his starting position, but dog fights on then Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s property landed him in Federal prison and damn near cost him his career. Or more recently, how none of the NFL’s 32 owners will sign Colin Kaepernick because Kaep knelt during the Star Spangled Banner last season to protest police brutality against people of color.
Yes, most people of color, with the exception of the Alan Keyes, Allen West, Clarence Thomas types who pretend that racism is a relic of the distant past, know that white privilege is real and rampant in modern America. Many righteous whites across the political ideological divide know that it is real, too, even if some (not all) do not use their voices or platforms to fight for greater equality for fear of losing their own privilege.
But there are millions of other white folks who pretend that white privilege is a fiction spun by whining black folks, the ones who cry “my ancestors did not own slaves,” (obvious by their lower social class and educational existences), but refuse to acknowledge the following:
*If you can get a job that requires a college degree but you only have a diploma, GED or no academic credentials at all, chances are that you are privileged;
*If you can earn multiple millions of dollars as a “political commentator” and you barely have an advanced freshman’s worth of credit at the local community college, and you never worked in the policy arena on any level, chances are that you are privileged (See Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck et al)
*If you can get into elite colleges like Harvard, Yale and Princeton based upon legacy clauses despite having average grades and test scores, chances are that you are privileged;
*If you can get pulled over by the police, hop out the car to find your registration in the trunk or even curse the police officer out or wrestle with said officer–and not get shot dead or Tasered senseless—chances are that you are privileged;
*If you have marginal credit and have led failing businesses in the past, but go to your Rotary, Masonic or Chamber of Commerce meeting and get your golf buddy who is the local bank executive to extend you a line of credit to start-up a new business or infuse cash into a failing one, chances are that you are privileged.
While the aforementioned are but a few examples, people of color know full well that we rarely get these same benefits of the doubt or second chances. Which is why I am not surprised that Reza Aslan has lost his platform while Bill Maher keeps rolling along–it is because of white privilege, straight up!
But instead of getting upset about this reality, I suggest that the simple solution is for people of color to support our own platforms so that there are safe zones where we can be real about real issues 24/7/365. Indeed, that CNN has chosen to defend a president from insult when said president has bragged about sexually assaulting women, has poked fun at Gold Star families, mocked a physically disabled reporter, insulted prisoners of war, and denigrated Mexicans, Muslims and “The Blacks,” goes to show that the network is willing to prostitute themselves and their brand while genuflecting at Lord Trump’s altar in hopes of getting off of his “Fake News” list or to attract his ignorant Trumpeteers to their network. Instead of getting mad, we must get even by creating and supporting existing media platforms that are from us, by us, and for us–all of us!