A One-Sided Conversation by Design

I watched the “conversation about race” on MSNBC and waited for that singular moment that inevitably arises where you see it all devolve into a squandered opportunity.  I saw many candidates, but one particular moment took the cake.

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Kevin Powell and Professor Carr of Howard, BOTH of whom I would consider young men who harbor an intense desire for the uplifting of Black people.  A conversation ensued where each individual took their issues to a personal place and inevitably fell into a bunch of wolf tickets snuffed out by the unyielding march of the profit driven media.

Ultimately, if anything has been learned as we settle into the 21st Century, the media is what it is and it does what it does.

What it is, is a tool of the market.  An enterprise.  Despite the railings of ANYONE who says differently, it has only one master and one goal.


Anyone who is skilled in making money will tell you that you profit by creating an environment that maximizes growth by efficiency.

Meeting David Wilson, the documentary that spawned and preceded said Conversation is a perfect example of capturing a moment for the sake of profit.

Part of what prompted Brian Williams to cut to the break was his desire to bracket the evening with a moment of poignancy….*ahem* when the grandsons of former slaves and the grandsons former slave-owners sit down at the table of brotherhood.

That is what THEY want to see.  a pretty picture.

That ugly messy conversation that US wants to see?  You do that on your own time.  Ford has Cars to sell and Proctor and Gamble wants to sell its soap and whatnot.



  1. Wojtek (Voytec) Wacowski

    Essentially I share your view on the media, but one has to give some credit both to MSNBC and Brian Williams. I bet that one can gather more audience and better ratings with exploiting Paris Hilton like celebrity stuff…

    “…Ultimately, if anything has been learned as we settle into the 21st Century, the media is what it is and it does what it does…”

    My point is that it is an open question – Which came first: egg or chicken? – Is it the audience making media to behave like that or the media is shaping the audience…

    It would be very interesting to compare the audience of the ” Conversation About Race” and “Jackass” or some of the “E!” productions…

    Good thing is that there was “Conversation About Race” at all… Good starter at least… Trust me if it was watched by enough people it will get moved to a better time slot next time – to profit but as a “side effect” will make more people viewing and talking…


  2. BigMik

    I agree with you, Brian Williams cut off the real conversation to bring on the “happy” ending. My wife and I wanted Powell and Carr to keep on talking, that’s what WE need. But, alas the conversation needs to be longer that the time they allowed.


  3. Jonzee

    Off the subject, but you should try to get your hands on a rebroadcast of Kathleen Donnelly who was on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. She was Michelle Obama’s roommate–briefly–at Princeton. Now there is a moment of seeing opportunties that former prejudices may have squandered.

  4. Velma

    “A Conversation about Race” was a very poignant and light shedding discussion. It would take longer than 90 minutes to get to the depth of this topic. The fact that Prof. Michael Dyson, the Chief of Police from Washington, D. C., Malaak C. Rock, Mike Barnicle, Tom Joyner, Rev. Dr. Soaries, Dr. Greg Carr, Kriss Turner and Kevin Powell all spoke to the need that this conversation needs to take place on a much global scale.

    Mike Barnicle spoke to the systemic failure of the American Education System to educate children of color. It is evident in the “Closing the Achievement Gap.” Children of color are being educated and public school is a disgrace for these children of color.

    Conversations need to take place and the race card is not being played when it is brought up. I state to those when they do not wish to have this conversation take place, “I am not playing the race card, I am only responding to the race card that was played on, for or against me.”

    We can not move forward until we (America) allow the voice of the enslaved and captured people of color to be heard and accepted as an American. An Apology is appropriate. Reparations should be allowed to fit the need of individuals.

    Thanks to MNBC, Brian Williams, David Wilson (both)for bringing about the ground breaking task to provide an opportunity for conversations about race to take place in a peaceful, tasteful and dignified manner. Thanks to all the participants on the panels and in the audience. My heart was uplifted and my spirit renewed.

    I hope that this is aired on television again and again.

    Overall, my colleague and I could not stop talking about this show and how much it inspired us in the work we do everyday to level the playing field for children of color in the public school setting.


  5. tjsthings

    When Brian Williams pleaded to bring the conversation to a close, my husband said it best. “We have cereal to sell.” Why did three cereal commercials air within fifteen minutes of the end of the program?

  6. saga

    I have to beg to differ with Voytec, in that the “mainstream” news media also has to justify their existence as marginally-legitimate news outlets, in the face of celebri-news, and newser-tainment. This seemed to me to be less news story than another story that panders to the quasi-sensationalist leanings of a well-trained sheep-like audience, who would rather make themselves feel better about race relations in the US by watching this, than actually actively DO anything about race relations in the US.

    We’ve had decades of “well it’s better than no coverage” news stories – a better time slot, a more diverse representation of speakers (I still don’t get how they managed to NOT invite ANY Howard professors to the podium?!) and more time allowed for the after-the-show discussion (posted here) should be the norm these days, not the exception.

    Otherwise, we continue to make no progress.

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