The Myth of Black Inferiority

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A recent book unravels the myth of black inferiority. Tom Burrell, the author of Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, shares insights from his book.


Tom Burrell

Comments [115]

Erick from Togo(West Africa)

It's so pitiful that people still don't understand how universe works. Everything is cyclical. when people say that Blacks are unintelligent it really cracks me up. Where were those intelligent whites at the time of the Egyptian fame? Many great figures from Ancient Greece became learned because it was AFRICA's time to teach the world. If people are omniscient, did they know when China were to pop out as a world power? Could they predict anything in this world? Did they know about world trade center tragedy? Did we know about Haiti's earthquake? If the answer is no, let's keep quiet and see what Africans will become even though some think that they are sef-destructive. Let us watch the cosmic power to work harmoniously and we will see the result. Peace to all y'all.

Mar. 29 2010 06:21 AM
teagan from east village

As a child of the 80s raised on the Cosby Show I thought all black people were well-off, with strong family units, living in big houses in cities. At age 9, I watched "Roots" with my parents on TV and could not fathom people treating other people this way, and assumed this happened thousands of years ago. When my parents explained to me that this had just happened in the previous century, it turned my impression of black people on its head. I feel that Roots taught me about a very important part of this country's history, but it was only after that experience that I "knew" to view black people as inferior from my white culture's perspective. Would it have been better if I never saw images of the subjugation of black people?

Mar. 10 2010 11:26 AM
Gregory from NYC

I was also disappointed by this conversation, it was too superficial.
The guest managed to take an interesting and thought provoking topic and wring the life out of it. The guest host was not up to the challenge of forcing the guest to to coherency.
and then there are the comments posted on this message board.
I don't understand why John from the Office is allowed to post messages here, he seems to have stumbled here from the NYpostdtcom to specifically post insulting messages.

Mar. 09 2010 07:56 PM
Paul Brown from NYC

we actually laid this concept of lower IQ's amoung blacks to rest decades ago. We correctly questioned the validity of IQ testing under the best of circumstances but we absolutely came to the realization that they are highly "culturally" biased.

Moreover we know from recent genealogy/genetic research that there is but one, extraordinarily closely related human race. I actually don't intend to give any traction to the argument on it merits at all.

I will suggest though that Tom Burrell is entirely too focused on the African-American experience, without even touching on this much more global issue. I just finished a UK Ch4 Documentary: "Race and Intelligence". Former BBC News correspondent Rageh Omaar examines this issue from a European perspective. It is shockingly alive amoung highly respected scientists including highly esteemed American molecular biologist, James Whatson with statistics he believes show Sub-Saharan Africans are all genetically of lower intelligence than Europeans. Similarly Richard Lynn, professor University of Ulster, has his data on which he constructs a global league table of intelligence amoung the "races". J Philippe Rushton, a psychology professor University of Western Ontario claims to have similar proof. These are but three of a number of well regarded and generally academically sound minds who are clearly gone astray on this issue. Omaar does examine the situation in the US but the bulk of the above referenced documentary deals with this issue from a European perspective, looking at how it manifests in Europe and indeed Asia.

While America will always have unique issues when dealing with "racial" issues and especially where African-Americans are concerned, we are indeed looking an issue that reaches well beyond American borders and well beyond the specific racism in America. It is indeed sobering to see this bigotry rearing it's ugly head anew in the 21st century.

Mar. 09 2010 04:57 PM
pik from New Jersey

@DAT573 [103], I'm assuming you are talking about the audience in the movie theatre. I have no idea why you think the audience should "participate" in the movie. I sure as heck don't you want to hear you talk to screen or jump up and down like you are possessed.

Mar. 09 2010 04:02 PM

Clearly I am not invisible to you. Clearly you are harboring much anger pain and fear. I am sorry this informs your life. Go back and read your comments. You may be the type of person who thinks the only way to be respected is to scream, shout, stamp and show your 'crazy' side. This probably makes you feel empowered and strong. "As soon as you get angry, you lose": just a piece of wisdom you might want to consider. I don't know if you're this type, but your manifesto-style screamings make me think of the type of woman who deliberately pushes and steps on people thinking in your misguided way that you are leveling the playing field. You send out hatred and anger, you get it back ten-fold. Try respecting your fellow man. Just try it, Miss Angry.

Mar. 09 2010 03:31 PM
Roy from Queens, NY

The man means well, but he doesn't get smart satire (30 Rock) or music history (rap music didn't start out gangster).

Mar. 09 2010 01:29 PM
Tom from NJ

In general, Burrell's position of acting as a victim looking for a perpetrator - overt or covert - in every facet of life is not only simplistic and unsound, but dangerous. It endangers the hard work that serious scholars have put into understanding and eliminating racism by obfuscating real issues with "noise"

Mar. 09 2010 01:23 PM
Tom from NJ

(1) "Precious"
- If a behaviour is "not typically associated" with a given group of people, how is it a stereotype?"
- Mr. Burrell goes on to say that "no image is better than a negative one" - I am appalled by the idea that censorship is an appropriate way to solve this, or any other, problem

(2) Mr. Burrell is upset that young black males gravitate toward the negative behavior they see in popular role models ----- young males in general, regardless of race, want to be "hard" and gravitate toward inappropriate behavior. Parents and communities must teach children that being a man is about responsibility rather than street cred.

Mr. Burrell smacks of hypocrisy when he purports to know the hidden motivations (conscious or unconscious) of white politician's attacks on President Obama...not only a preposterous claim, but also, by definition, prejudicial.

Mar. 09 2010 01:17 PM
lucie from new jersey

the '30 rock' show makes EVERYONE loof foolish, not onyl blacks. :jenna the blond girl. the usher, alec baldwin[the boss], all thi 'writers' even tina fey herself as a brilliant tv director whose private life is total baffoonery! there is no descrinination here!

Mar. 09 2010 01:00 PM
Lee from brooklyn


I understand the point to be that perceptions of Precious are varied even within the black community. The gender piece that DAT573 notes corresponds to my experience.

Mar. 09 2010 12:47 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

Clearly we still cannot have a civil conversation on race in this country, the issue is too sensitive. There are too many people who want to tell Americans of African descent how to feel about their ancestral past. Some would suggest we forget about it all together.

Mar. 09 2010 12:43 PM
DAT573 from Straus Projects

They were not all African American females,
l was from Jamaica, two from Trinidad.
I was just struck at the difference in
the reaction to Precious between genders
belonging to the same race.

It wasn't like they were quiet, they reacted
to the emotional scenes with volcanic like

The males had a very different take,
they were upset also, but not for the same

They keep playing this movie Precious,
they do not tire of watching it.

None of the non blacks seem to be interested.
Because any one of them, could have crossed
the distance, with a few short steps,
and participated, they did not.

Mar. 09 2010 12:40 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

The truth,
Are you playing into the “black women just can’t control themselves” narrative or out to prove it. I’m not trying to scandalize your name, however you’ve all but threatened to “go black” on Jane.

Mar. 09 2010 12:40 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

DAT573 - Again, your point? Educated people are already aware of this fact. Think I already addressed this in an earlier post.

Mar. 09 2010 12:35 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

DAT573 - your point please? - is this a statement about Black American females?

Mar. 09 2010 12:31 PM
DAT573 from Straus Projects

President Barack Hussein Obama, is not your
typical African American Male.
If the President were, he would have never been

President Obama did not grow up in the hood,
and it shows.

Both his parents were college graduates.

President Obama has an entire slew of
family that he personally knows in Kenya,

Most African Americans, have to undergo
DNA samples in order to find out where in
Africa, they come from.
Obama knows his relatives in Africa, no
DNA necessary for him.
Obama didn't attend African American schools,
during his formative years, he attended
Primary School in Indonesia.
Went to High School in Hawaii,
in mostly, but not only, white school.
The whites were present, not few and far
between, like it happens in so many African
American Schools.
Was raised by white grandparents, after
his mother's death.
If Obama were like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson,
he would have never had a chance.

Mar. 09 2010 12:28 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

JANE "Frantic and Slightly crazy" nice and your opinion, I think I have showed great restraint here AND what is more frantic and crazy than an out of control white lady who can't force people to comply with her opinion? yes you! ANNND if you can remember back 4 years ago wow, I am truly flattered!BUT you remember that I also said you were "invisible" to me, you still are sweetie!!

Mar. 09 2010 12:23 PM
Lee from brooklyn

I am an African-American woman. As the old people say, I am also a race woman. I have a whole lot of problems with common media representations of black people but Burrell's analysis leaves me cold. He seems at once hypersensitive and completely clueless to nuance, satire and the contemporary demand for representations that reflect a diversity of experience.

For example Tracy Morgan's character on 30 Rock coexists in the show's universe with Jane Krakowski's character as the hyper-enabled stars whose connection to rationality let alone responsibility is tenuous at best. There are three other black male characters with recurring roles on the show all of whom are foils to the Tracy Jordan character. They are represented as generally accomplished, reasonable and degreed and yes like EVERY OTHER character on the show they are often the butt of jokes. Race and gender and class and religion and marital status and geographic origin are all regularly skewered on the show. Burrell's analysis seems blind to this context and to the irony that he seems to be indicating that black people need to be specially protected from inclusion in rough and tumble satire.

Mar. 09 2010 12:21 PM
puhleeze from NY

@Alyson from Brooklyn

I'm sure some of the black IQ problem is cultural but "what if" black people do, on average, have lower intelligence than white or Asian people? Could we as a society deal with the implications of that fact, were it proved definitively? That is the question. All of the scientific evidence (statistical sampling) points this way and while it may have no relevance to individuals (i.e. there are plenty of very, very smart black people, obviously) it would certainly create significant problems at a societal level. We need to be less protective of the self esteem of blacks and reinforce actual accomplishments broadly - this means reforming the way public education and welfare programs work.

Mar. 09 2010 12:19 PM
DAT573 from Straus Projects

The movie Precious was viewed by a group of
black people, not all African American,
some from the Caribbean islands.

I found it interesting that the reaction of
the females was so intense throughout the
showing of Precious.

They identified with Precious, would have
strung up the rapist themselves, if they could.
The black females were very vocal, in their
condemnation of the perpertrator and their
backing of Precious throughout the film.

However, the black males, were not.

They were critical.

While they also were angry at the rapist,
they didn't express it in the same way that
the black females did.

The black males felt they had been given a raw deal,and put in a bad light.

One black males, from Haiti, was very upset
and said that the film was racist because Precious own father was the rapist.

But the black females, rose up,
in unison and shouted him down.

All the black females, knew of someone,
that fit the bill in so far as the characters
in Precious were concerned.

None of the whites in the room offered
any opinion.

I kept quiet myself and didn't watch
the movie nor did I join in.

From the beginning, I knew that it would
be dangerous to offer any opinion or
participate in any of the discussion.

All the non blacks must have felt the same
way, because they kept far away from it.

Mar. 09 2010 12:17 PM
Michael from Long Island

Dear Naomi and the Truth,

I don't mean to offend. While the events of Jesus life take place in the Middle East, The Christian bible is a european document written, re-written and heavly edited throught history for european values and culture.

Artist depictions of the Budda give him asian features. Indian deitys look like the population that worship them.
The artistic renditions of Jesus, like through out Europe( including the Vatician) show a blue eyed man with strawberry blond hair.
My wife attended a chatholic school in Quito Ecuador and apon touring her school I saw that the spanish conquistadors brought the concept of a white deity to the new world. Let us not forget Spains heavy involvment in the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in my home state of New York decades before it was obolished in Latin America.

Mar. 09 2010 12:14 PM

Your comments concerning this topic almost always ALWAYS border on frantic and slightly crazy. You *rarely* have anything intelligent and well thought out to add and about 4 years ago on this board you tried to goad me into personally emailing you after stating that i am "exactly what you think I am."

However, I did agree with this:
"When slavery ended and white people no longer had use for the Black Man, they wanted him to go back where he came/the stole him from...and woe be unto them that didn't happen...instead Blacks stayed and called this place home...thus the birth of racism!"

Mar. 09 2010 12:08 PM
Brendan Costello from Morningside Heights

Mr. Burrell talked about viral videos and unique innovative voices in this discussion -- he should check out "This Week In Blackness," a very sharp, funny one-man commentary by Elon James White on cultural trends, images and events in the news.

I think it is exactly the kind of thing Mr. Burrell is calling for, but I suspect that he wouldn't like it very much, or would at least have mixed feelings about it. Elon James White rails against BET (criticizing the promotion of negative stereotypes on the network in a segment called "BET Doesn't care about Black People") and also Michael Eric Dyson ("Michael Eric Dyson should shut up").

Mar. 09 2010 12:06 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

I love and respect the President, but he is NOT our Saviour, no more than Jesse Jackson is the Black Leader, neither speak for me, clearly I speak for think otherwise is just plain naive.

Mar. 09 2010 12:03 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

@JOHN FROM THE OFFICE - Tyler Perry is a writer/director/actor who is not portraying Black family life, if you have ever seen an interview of his he will tell you where the characters he portrays orginate from in his experience, his personal experience.

Do you think we believe all italians are like those on the jersey shore? Stop showing your ignorance and change the channel, I do.

Mar. 09 2010 12:00 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

HJS - agreed.

Mar. 09 2010 11:57 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

@64 Brian - doesn't feel good to be excluded does it?

Mar. 09 2010 11:56 AM
Alyson from Brooklyn

As for the comment on black IQ, do you think it may have to do with exposure? As a black person, I can say that black people are not usually conditioned to perform. The author is correct about his view (although this isn't new). We knew that slavery had long lasting effects. An overwhelming number of black people expect other black people to act like Lil Wayne or Tracy Morgan. They believe that is their place. Get it, THEY BELIEVE that is their place.

Mar. 09 2010 11:56 AM
hjs from 11211

the above comments prove whites don't want to talk about race.

the author made a great point; racism helps the wealthy win the class war.

Mar. 09 2010 11:53 AM
Naomi from Brooklyn

James from BK, it did happen. It is a true story.

The point is, it's not the answer and should never be taken as one.
It does not address the issues that would have caused this young man's circumstances or how those circumstances can be changed for all of the Michael Orr's of the world.

There are basic social structures that are meant to help poor, uneducated people that do more harm than good.

Everyone will not be adopted out of their surroudings or have the means to get out on their own.

Mar. 09 2010 11:51 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

To the people calling President Obama “biracial”… Though technically correct, as I’ve said before on this message board as a southern born black man, no one checks your birth certificate before calling you (I’ll edit it myself since the moderator can’t understand using the word in context) n-word.
To the person asking about the relative success of Asian and Spanish-speaking peoples… As the guest pointed out black Americans/African Americans are the only population of people who were brought to this country as cargo and were not willing immigrants. Yes, some Asians were brought to the US as virtual slaves to build the railroads, but the context was very different from the life and trafficking of southern black slaves.

Mar. 09 2010 11:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Michael [7], just because the *images* of Jesus in the churches you've been in showed him as white, that doesn't mean he actually was. It's not as if any of the artists who created those images ever saw him! A Jew born in Bethlehem at the time of the Roman occupation was most likely brown-skinned & dark-haired.

Mar. 09 2010 11:50 AM
Christina from Manhattan

oh good Lord how much longer do we have to listen to this guy preaching at us, can he possibly talk any slower?
i can't believe how much time youv'e devoted to this one segment, don't you have antyhign else to talk about today?

Mar. 09 2010 11:49 AM
Ellie from Brooklyn

Leon Wynter, your book looks really interesting and useful. I think YOU would be a great guest to have on this show!

Mar. 09 2010 11:48 AM
Jason from Brooklyn

30 Rock is a show full of caricatures. Every character is an exaggerated stereotype and many would say that the humor is poking fun of those stereotypes. There is a dumb blond, a nerdy liberal, an ultra conservative, a hill-billy, etc. Does this affect your guest's feeling towards Tracy Morgan's character?

Mar. 09 2010 11:48 AM

There is no acknowledgment that the ability to ghetto-speak is

a) a necessity for all black actors if they want to make a living today, and

b) a common method for many blacks to exhibit a certain street-cred amongst others, both black and white.

Without acknowledging these facts, you're kind of spinning your wheels.

And Tracy Morgan's inspired insanity is somewhat offset by his giant-black-man entourage, Dot-com's and Grizz's intelligence and sensitivity. Both portrayals are somewhat satirical plays on our culture's stereotypes--something I see a lot of lately, on shows like 30 Rock, Modern Family, etc.

Mar. 09 2010 11:47 AM
hjs from 11211

60 the truth!!

all teens like to upset their parents. i guess they just weren't spanked enough

Mar. 09 2010 11:46 AM
adrienne from NYC

sorry, this guy is awful. its just an assumption that, although black people have suffered greatly, and still do, that there hasn't been a powerful and creative contribution (jazz, gospel and MUCH more) I dunno, do we have to spend so much time talking about movies and TV that we don't like, there are many more improtant ellisons "The Invisable Man"

Mar. 09 2010 11:46 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

30 Rock is a COMEDY!!!!!! Does Liz's character represents all whites?

Mar. 09 2010 11:46 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

[62] I could not agree more.

Mar. 09 2010 11:46 AM

I can actually tell this guest is Black (and yes, I say Black and White, and yes I am White. I use those terms because I have been corrected that African American does not apply to all Americans with Afro heritage).

The guest clearly is well spoken, but he has a cadence and a rhythm that defines him, despite his perfect grammar and diction.

I am listening at work and may have missed some gaps, but it is my (albeit politically incorrect, or "unpopular" opinion that this perpetration of inferiority exists in the Black community far more than in the White community. Today.

Mar. 09 2010 11:45 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

does the character that tracy morgan portrays on 30 rock exist in the world? or is it just some evil plan by the writers to display this black guy in a way that absolutely does not reflect the black community in this country in any way? this guy is so out of touch and will only keep black people back and ready to do nothing to improve themselves except blame others. this man is a parasite.

Mar. 09 2010 11:45 AM
nathan from Gowanus

Cannot BELIEVE this guy used Rangel as an example where blacks are experiencing unfair prosecution??! Rangel is worse than Lil Wayne!

Mar. 09 2010 11:45 AM
have it both ways from new rochelle

the guest wants its both ways

Black Americans should be part of 'white america' or not be "white americans"?

Mar. 09 2010 11:45 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

There are SOME positive black portrayals on scripted on TV. Most notably the CBS shows CSI NY and Criminal Mind's Derek Morgan. He is an extremely smart, well spoken, insanely intelligent character who is an FBI Psychological Criminal Profiler. I am yet to find any of my 'black' friends who have even heard of the show.

Why is it that the black community does not try to do something to reign in the truly debilitating effects and characters like R. Kelly. Li'l Wayne and the rest and in stead promote positive stereotypes. Why are the rappers, gang members and such like allowed to proliferate without accountability?


Mar. 09 2010 11:44 AM
tricia from queens

in the "how does it hurt white people" section, he missed the fact that racism (conscious or not) and negative stereotypes are robbing a lot of corporations of the valuable input, skills, ingenuity of black employees. just like nazi germany lost all the input, skills, and ingenuity of jews they kicked out or killed. there are so many stories of ex-german jews contributing immensely to the societies where they ended up, like the US.

walking in midtown in midday, i'm sick that i see more people of color in delivery-person clothes instead of office/executive clothes. let's keep progressing.

Mar. 09 2010 11:44 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Why is the finger not turning toward the creation, ie the white GUILT, why is this conversation turing so heavily towards the outcome of white domination and oppression?!

When slavery ended and white people no longer had use for the Black Man, they wanted him to go back where he came/the stole him from...and woe be unto them that didn't happen...instead Blacks stayed and called this place home...thus the birth of racism!

Mar. 09 2010 11:44 AM
mike from Brooklyn

This is reductionism at its worst. Thanks for the can keep them.

Mar. 09 2010 11:43 AM
Kimmarie from Manhattan

"Glorifying standard English as a superior mode of expression is intellectually limiting."-- John Wynne, The Skin That We Speak. I think Lisa Delpit, Howard Kohl et al would take issue with your caller and Burrell.

Mar. 09 2010 11:43 AM
mike from Brooklyn

everyone on 30 Rock show is a buffoon that's why it's funny.

Mar. 09 2010 11:43 AM

WAIT! The screener wants only blacks? are non-blacks not allowed an opinion on this?

The lack of truly open dialogue on this is truly hampering progress.

Mar. 09 2010 11:42 AM
arlo pc from NYC

Maybe Obama is in office in part because of the "Morgan Freeman Effect." There has been a tendency in American films and TV in the past decade or so to portray string, black leaders, as President, CIA director, etc. It's not just Morgan Freeman, but other actors such as Dennis Haysbert and several others who tend to be cast that way. There are so many examples that I think it must have had an effect.

Mar. 09 2010 11:42 AM
Uos from Queens

briannn come back soon please :o

i don't remember being this bored during the brian lehrer show...ever.

Mar. 09 2010 11:42 AM
James from Brooklyn

I think its a little unfair to say the "Blindside" is a bad depiction of African Americans. It is a TRUE story about race relations. Whatever you think about the white family "saving" the black kid, it did happen.

Mar. 09 2010 11:41 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

The question is why do so many white youth's striving to be a part of the Black American Culture??? Why are they afraid to identify with their own culture?

Mar. 09 2010 11:41 AM
Leon Wynter from New YORK

Sorry, but Burrell is pressing sour grapes over the black media and marketing industry's loss of what his contemporary black advertising pioneer Byron Lewis called "the control of the black psyche".
Control of the black psyche lasted for a hot, paternalistic minute before major white marketers discovered the black market and it's spinoffs for the general market.
Burrell has a point about the continued state of black victimization in certain media channels. But he's disingenuous about the bigger picture: control of black images have gotten away from the control and profit of the Burrells of the world in a way that reflects a larger image of who African-Americans are. That's part of why Obama is president.
For more on this, read Chapter 8 of my book: American Skin-Big Business, Pop Culture and the End of White America.

Mar. 09 2010 11:41 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

@ #43 - Puhleeze...lots of whites on the "dumb side" I work with a lot of them.

Mar. 09 2010 11:40 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Bernard Joseph @ #5,
Research the history of Belgium, France, The United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain amongst others in Africa then make your point about the disaster that is the African continent. It didn't just happen.

Mar. 09 2010 11:40 AM
Randy from Newark

I am Puerto rican and african american, and it is painful because I am educated. I am ridiculed for "talkin white", Why do you feel that being smart is not popular in the inner-city landscape.

Mar. 09 2010 11:40 AM
Trevor from Navy Yard

I'd be interested to hear how he compares this issue to what he things are those of of gays, jews, women.

Mar. 09 2010 11:38 AM
Jon from NYC

(1) I don't think I've ever heard so many vague descriptions of "hidden" problems since the last time I was subjected to a paranoid subway rider's 20-stop-long tirade on conspiracy theories. To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, "When correctly viewed, everything's askewed".

(2) Out of pure curiosity, would Mr. Burrell consider "Blazing Saddles" is a "good image"? How about "The Boondocks"?

(3) What are we comparing "positive/negative" images to: Whites? Hispanics? Asians? Arabs? Aborigines? Native Americans?

(4) I'm not brainwishing anyone. But when I hear the N-word used every 45 seconds on the A train, I get brainwashed. Am I supposed to ignore these "fleeting utterances", and if so, does Mr. Burrell expect me to be unsuceptible to being brainwashed into believing that those who use the N-word merit it?

Mar. 09 2010 11:37 AM
B. Iyer from New York

I strongly disagree with Mr. Burrell's characterization of rap/hip hop as a kind of medium that uniquely targets the Black community. In my own Indian American community, I've come across many second-generation who emulate the values (to varying degrees) that are represented in this genre of music. Clearly these young people have no connexion to the image of black inferiority; something else motivates them.

Rather than assigning the problem of the negative values in rap and hip hop to a conspiracy theory about the loss of the super-ego of the Black American, a better understanding is of the problem is to see how this kind of music is part of a larger period of decadence in American history.

Mar. 09 2010 11:37 AM
Anita from Spain

About the Blind Side; did everyone forget that it's a movie based on a true story? I haven't seen the movie but I did read the article several years ago. So, why didn't the black coach "save" the football player? I don't understand that part.

Mar. 09 2010 11:37 AM

I agree with some of this but also find it to be a neo-victimization view. And you're WAY off base with Rangel, the guys a crook.

Mar. 09 2010 11:36 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

NO! NO!! NO!!! It is not about propaganda, it is about behavior!
Get off the pipe, get off the pole, stop worrying about your street cred, stop worrying about your brands over your brain, take care of your kids or just don’t have them, and stop it with the woe is me.
I’m a black man and the United States is still very much a racism filled country. I feel no kinship with President Obama (I am the descendent of slaves, not an immigrant that popped over, made a baby, then left) so I don’t buy the argument his election has changed anything. It is up to the community to say ENOUGH and work on the endemic problems in the black community instead of saying “you made me this way”.
Just because racism is institutionalized isn’t an excuse to play to every stereotype, minstrel act, and woe is me out there.

Mar. 09 2010 11:36 AM
john from office

Get Tyler Perry of the air, it will solve alot of problems. His TV shows are laughable.

Mar. 09 2010 11:36 AM
Virginia from Bronx

I think it's interesting that everyone insists on referring to President Obama as black when he is in fact biracial. I think it's a sad commentary that America seems unable to accommodate this in its public discourse.

Mar. 09 2010 11:35 AM
Nasikha from Brooklyn, NY

People of color are not dark skinned white people. Our history of who we are and the prophecy of our coming into bondage in this country and around the world is recorded in scripture, specifically, Deuteronomy 28th Chapter. Because we do not have that understanding to begin with about our history and even what has happened to our identity since we've been in bondage, until this day, we will never return to our true selves or even back to our CREATOR. It is totally not about religion, but clearly our culture and our people.

Mar. 09 2010 11:34 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Tom, do not confuse CONFIDENCE with HOOD! Did this fool just say the President of the United States is HOOD?

He did not grow up in a hood environment and was certainly not raised by BLACK Folk.

Mar. 09 2010 11:33 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

here's some simple advice-
black people across this planet- stop hurting eachother and help eachother. HELP eachother.
whether it be the tribal leaders selling members of their own village to evil slave traders 500 yrs ago or now-religious zealots raping, burning alive and hacking to death villages of women and children in nigeria....stop hurting eachother and help eachother.

Mar. 09 2010 11:33 AM
Sheniqua W. from Brooklyn

I think a guest like this ends up perpetuating the racial divide he seemingly hopes to overcome. We've risen to the presidency, congress, respected in media, business, I can go on. By constantly driving the message of division, we give our own kids a reason not to succeed, because the blame can be placed elsewhere. I hoped with Obama, we would have risen above this conversation, but it seems people even in our own community have a vested interest to make sure that doesn't happen.

Mar. 09 2010 11:32 AM
puhleeze from NY

I can't believe your mods censored the bell curve comment - it's a legitimate question, i.e., why do black and Africans consistently test lower on IQ tests all over the world, in every country, with respect to every other race? It's OBVIOUS Asians are on the short side, maybe it's true that blacks are on the dumb side? Sorry to offend the tender hearts - a human being is still a human being, tall or short - smart or dumb.

Mar. 09 2010 11:32 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

"When you look at him (the President) he is a Black Man" BUT the reality is he is also a WHITE MAN!

Mar. 09 2010 11:31 AM
Margaret from NY

The recent uproar about the portrayal of Italian Americans on MTV's Jersey Shore stands in sharp contrast to the general complacency and celebrations surrounding the constant and unrelenting stereotypical and disgusting portrayals of black women and men on MTV and VH1. Portrayals of black men as gangsters and ballers and black women as hos (for the love of Ray J, New York, Flava Flav. etc. etc.).

America is so far from being post racial it's laughable...that is an idea that white people came up with so they can stop dealing with difficult truths (I'm white by the way) .

Mar. 09 2010 11:31 AM
john from office

OBAMA was raised by his white Grand Parents.

Mar. 09 2010 11:30 AM
JP from NJ

What does the guest think that contributed to the success of Asian and Hispanic population in the US over the last 40 years or so?

Mar. 09 2010 11:30 AM
Estelle from Austin

As slavery recedes into the past and immigrants arrive, a larger and larger proportion of the black population actually does *not* have roots in American slavery (Obama is a good example of this).
Unfortunately, I assume that these immigrants, and descendants of immigrants, still find that they must inherit the cultural baggage of slavery just by being here.

Mar. 09 2010 11:30 AM
Naomi from Brooklyn

Serena, I asked about where you live, not where you work.

Mar. 09 2010 11:30 AM
Latrice Springs from Brooklyn/Madhattan

Please. really please do not the Obama. if i hear one more non black person throw in the obama option as a response to the ills of racism and whatever else ails american- i will scream and softly hurl into the nearest waste bin.

YES- we are proud of him AND are a bunch of other non black people who voted him in office AND countless others across the uhm world.
NO- he is not our saviour.
PLEASE- stop referring to him as such.

Mar. 09 2010 11:29 AM
Krystal from Heading Grad School

Example of negative black images in society: Africanized Bees also known as Killer Bees. Did you know that one Killer Bee can Africanize a European Honey Bee and turn the entire hive into an Africanized Killer Bee Hive. I learned all this in a program on Animal Planet. This language choice and the way the narrator spits out "Africanized" with such disdain just perpetuates African v. European, Black v. White, Good v. Evil.

Mar. 09 2010 11:28 AM
adrienne from NYC

here's what I don't get about this whole conversation, all americans stand on the sholders of the great black american generations, the ethical christianity that was created by af-ams and the gospel movement and the boundless energy and creativity. I don't get how anyone can say black people were "completely stripped" of all their culture, if that were so we would be such an impovrished nation! Also if "precious" is so terrible a movie, what about all those ridiculous action movies with both black and white men, that gets a pass, but a movie about women, no matter how heart breaking isn't ok. There have been many stories about desperate children. Dickens for instance and others going back generations.

Mar. 09 2010 11:27 AM
Anita from Spain

The speaker seems to imply that Black people of today are lemmings. They can't think on their own, don't have any original thoughts, and are only what other people have made them. What a sad commentary on Black people. My black friends aren't like that...I'm sad that he and his are.

Mar. 09 2010 11:27 AM
DL from NYC

I agree with the author. This is not about just racism. It is a social history. It is not just an issue for black Americans. It social struggle for all Americans as we deal with our country's original sins of slavery and our treatment of people who are not considered white.

Mar. 09 2010 11:26 AM
Andrew from Chelsea

I don't watch enough TV News, but two friends swear that images of Obama on Fox make him noticeably darker than on the other networks. If true, that would certainly be an instance of brainwashing, manipulating etc.

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn, NY

While I hear what Tom is saying, I have to highly disagree with his opinion that films like Precious and The Blind Side shouldn't get made because they don't portray African Americans in a positive light. How many films have been made that feature truly abomidable characters of all races and ethnicities? It's not the job of filmmakers to portray a certain type of person in a certain way; if it were, then propaganda like "Triumph of the Will" would be lauded instead of criticized.

If you want to criticize the film industry, go right ahead; it's still ruled by white men and their stories. But slowly and surely, more voices and stories are being heard, and it's up to African Americans who have a love of film to push to get their stories heard.

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM
Natalie from Park Ave

On the Obama ? - what about when Michelle & Obama while campaigning "bumped" each other (pounding their fists together). It somehow went through the mill and came out the other side as the "terrorist bump."

That goes beyond race, but starts with it. Wonder about your guest's thoughts there...

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM

I'm not really surprised to hear theories of social engineering like this coming from an ad exec, BUT:

Are suggesting it is inappropriate for film, etc, to use black people in negative roles? And by implication, that black people *should only* play happy, smiley, positive role models? Extrapolating further, is what you really mean that the characters in a film should all be positive role models for the audience?

That's idiotic. I don't think the characters in Blind Side or Precious are stereotypes: they are individuals. Would those movies have been okay if everyone was white? What would that mean?

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM

So right and so obvious but just look at the comments. White people simply don't want to hear it.

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Poor uninformed individuals...Serena, John, JGarbuz and Michael "Jesus is white" Seriously you ALL need a history lesson!

Mar. 09 2010 11:25 AM
chris from prospect heights

does the guest present a solution or a call to action to the ideas he is discussing?

Mar. 09 2010 11:24 AM
Naomi from Brooklyn

I think the sum total of every comment here is very emblematic of the importance of this very topic.

Jesus is white?
If anything, Jesus is Middle Eastern

Blacks score lower on standardized tests?
There is inequality in education and socio economic status.

Poeple have "ideas" about black people that are completely unsubstantiated or based on limited exposure.

Mar. 09 2010 11:24 AM
Carla from Queens

I couldn't agree more with the guest regarding the Blind Side. I'm white, and I don't want to hear one more white person tell me what a great movie it was. White people love watching white people "save" black people. I can't help thinking thats why Sandra Bullock won best actress.

Mar. 09 2010 11:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

My 1st reaction was the same as Marielle's [2]. But it's occurred to me before that when African-American schoolkids themselves think studying is "acting white," they have the same stereotypes white racists do.

On the other hand, what I've heard from Mr. Burrell so far just reinforces my 1st reaction.

Mar. 09 2010 11:23 AM
Anthony Lang from NY

It boggles the mind that there can be members of this species walking around entertaining the idea that he/she is intrinsically superior to other members of their species. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

Mar. 09 2010 11:22 AM
Serena from UWS

Naomi--I am very involved with the black community both professionally and personally. Why do you ask?

Mar. 09 2010 11:22 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

c'mon, this guy is really misguided.
precious- can't make a realistic film? it's art! so does he think that there should never be another mafia movie made because it casts a negative light on italians? i don't think so.
there are pleanty of super wealthy black people in the media/entertainment industry- why are they brainwashing their own community? oprah, jay-z etc...
it has to go both ways if you ever want true equality. think about what you're saying, really think...please

Mar. 09 2010 11:22 AM
BL Moderator

[[BL Moderator Writes: We've removed or edited a few comments. Please remember the WNYC posting policy, which asks you to remain brief, civil, and productive. Best,
-BL Show-]]

Mar. 09 2010 11:22 AM
mary from NYC

so glad he brought up The Blind Side, i thought i was loosing my mind since nobody else seems to be annoyed by the implication of the black boy having to be saved by the white woman. Come on already!

Mar. 09 2010 11:22 AM

Does the guest have examples of positive tv/films/literature?

Mar. 09 2010 11:20 AM
Virginia from Bronx

Mr. Burrell's take on Precious is actually the same as the author Saffire's. Over the years she'd been approached to make the book into a movie and she feared that doing so would mark African Americans in just the way Mr. Burrell fears. She thought that now there are enough other images of black people to balance it out.

Mar. 09 2010 11:20 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I think this guest's views are important. He doesn't accept the conventional, easy, surface stuff. He is very thoughtful and analytical about what is presented to us, day in and day out, much of it ostensibly "positive."

And know what? His approach, although crucial to the issue of race, can be applied to just about any important issue of our times. We accept too many subtle subtext messages -- mostly because they align already with our notions.

Hooray for the guest.

Mar. 09 2010 11:20 AM
Serena from UWS

Okay we get it. All portrayals of black families should be the Cosby Show. He's promoted his creepy book. Can we move onto the next segment now.

Mar. 09 2010 11:19 AM
jen from Brooklyn

Precious does not represent all black people!!! Whoever thinks it does is ridiculous.

Mar. 09 2010 11:17 AM
Ellie from Brooklyn

This can be said about any group who experiences oppression or genocide: Jews in WWII Germany, Aborigines in Australia... Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, and on and on. An order to oppress people, the oppressed must be seen as an OTHER. This isn't news.

Mar. 09 2010 11:16 AM
Naomi from Brooklyn

Serena from the UWS, can I ask you how many black people live in your building or on your block?

How many black friends do you have?
Good friends?

Assuming you're not black yourself of course.

Mar. 09 2010 11:16 AM
Anthony Lang from NY

Also, the most significant, yet accepted to this day, propaganda move to date are the label of African people as black and of Caucasian as white. These crazy labels are diabolical once you study the world wide cultural association of those colors with good and evil.

Mar. 09 2010 11:15 AM
john from office

This guest is the reason for the the problems of the black comunity. Blame the white man. It is so sad that Blacks are lead and informed by the least educated and least accomplished.

No other group is lead by the least able. Compare Blacks to Jews, or hispanics. The leadership is well educated.

Mar. 09 2010 11:15 AM
Michael from Long Island

While don't buy the idea of Blacks are inferior; I do realize that our value system is for a caucasian culture. I've been in churches across this country and around the world and seen that Jesus was in fact white. To say that Jesus was anything else but caucasian is to say that Goldy Locks had black hair.
When non-whites worship a caucasian god based on european values; of course issues of inferiority and superiority will surface.

Mar. 09 2010 11:15 AM

I think it's the educational system that lets African Americans down. It's not the culture of African Americans. It's that they've been totally disenfranchised from the system.

Mar. 09 2010 11:13 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

sorry jgarbuz, but africa will NEVER get to where india and china are today. the chinese and the indians were never as self-destructive as africans were and are now. nigeria, somalia, congo, ethiopia and so on and so on....i don't see it ever getting better.

Mar. 09 2010 11:12 AM
Edward from brooklyn

Tell me something new. What is he saying that Malcolm X and others didn't say??

Mar. 09 2010 11:11 AM
Serena from UWS

Sounds like your guest is a dinosaur who has not adjusted to changing times. Obviously it is no longer the opinion of the general population.

Mar. 09 2010 11:10 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

Is this supposed to be something new? Whites called blacks inferior to justify slavery? Did anyone not know this already?

Mar. 09 2010 11:08 AM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

Since the Black African world had been under the dominion first of the Semitic world much earlier in its tragic history, and much later the Caucasian world for so many millennium, it is of no surprise that black people have had the feeling of worthlessness in their own minds for so long. But I believe that black Africa will surprise the world by the middle of this century just as the resurrection of India and China today.

Mar. 09 2010 10:40 AM

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