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November 30th, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Do white people just not 'get' Ferguson?

Elon James White, who founded the Web series "This Week in Blackness," and Crystal Wright, who created the blog Conservative Black Chick, discuss dueling narratives about race and crime in the aftermath of the controversial grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

This was host Brian Stelter's introduction to the segment:

"A national conversation on race." How many times have you heard that phrase?

Can I be really honest here? The truth is we're not having "a" national conversation on race. We're having two very different conversations, and there's barely any overlap.

Tell me if you agree with me about this: there is a conversation, mainly among whites, that mostly tiptoes around race, and sometimes denies race as a factor.

Then there's a totally separate conversation, mainly among people of color, that argues many white people just don't get it - just don't, or can't or won't understand the pervasive, corrosive, devastating effects of racial bias.

These conversations - they happen through the media. So I'm tempted to call this White News/Black News instead of our usual segment Red News/Blue News. Because one of the reasons why we're having two different conversations is that we're hearing two different stories.

One story is very specific: it's about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. But the other story is about an epidemic of police violence.

This story, this is the one that many African Americans have absorbed through a mix of mainstream and social media. This is a picture that's viral online, it's of dozens of unarmed men killed by police. Dozens of Michael Browns. And there are unarmed women as well.

Many whites don't know all their names. I don't know all their names. Many African-Americans do know their names.

So, two different conversations based on two different narratives.


Filed under: Reliable Sources
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. es aliexpress

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    August 21, 2015 at 10:31 am | Reply
  2. Able_Magwitch

    Not sure why Conservative Black Chick has a problem with being called "Mam." She must not have spent much time in the South.

    On the otherhand, Elon is a bit of an ass in that he calls Crystal's opinion "WRONG." Never call another person's opinion wrong. Point out if their facts are wrong, sure. But calling someone's opinion "wrong" is disrespectful.

    December 8, 2014 at 1:39 am | Reply
    • Robert Paige

      Having listen to Elon's show for years (from back when he was YouTube only), it's a regular part of his vocabulary. He greets female guests and his regular co-hosts with "Ma'am." And even if that weren't true, yeah: Not sure why that seemed to set her off.

      As for his saying "wrong", again, knowing Elon, he's heard that "what about black-on-black crime" nonsense so often and in so many ways that he's got no patience for it. for that matter, neither do I. My reaction mirrored Elon's (Except mine was ruder and more dismissive.)

      December 8, 2014 at 3:04 am | Reply
  3. skytag

    White people being people, some get it and some don't. Personally, I'm astounded by the number of whites who flatly refuse to acknowledge well documented issues related to racism and even historical facts, and I'm white myself. I recently had a conversation with a white male in his mid-forties who insisted blacks got educations equal to whites back when we had segregated schools.

    Any attempt on my part to use a study to support my positions was summarily dismissed with what essentially boiled down to the argument that studies are useless because they can be flawed. He claimed whites don't riot and destroy other people's property; blacks no longer face discrimination in the workplace or the legal system; the playing field has been level for some time now. Never mind that the actual evidence shows none of these beliefs are accurate, he was adamant in maintaining them. This refusal on the part of many whites to deal honestly with historical realities and what mountains of evidence says is happening right now is a huge obstacle standing in the way of making progress on racial issues.

    And God forbid a white person acknowledge this stuff, because if he does he's viciously attacked by other whites. I guess my problem is that I value the truth over loyal to any group to which I might belong. I'm not going to defend whites when they've been wrong. I'm not going to defend men when they've been wrong. I'm not going to defend America when we've been wrong. That's just not my way. If people want to attack me for speaking truths they find unpleasant, so be it.

    December 7, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
    • just thoughts

      There are many historical facts that are very much ignored. like slavery was started by black people. yes that's right. Africans started slavery of themselves. and well, white skin is just a mutation from black skin. we are all from africa. it was stated as the beginning and most people back then were darker skinned because everyone lived more outside.

      Black people have their own video channel on tv. they have there own month. I mean native americans are more oppressed then blacks and don't get a month in honor of themselves. seriously. There are many many cultures in this country besides White and black.

      Instead of just "blaming white people" maybe try getting rid of your anger and see how beautiful you and everyone else is including white people. because just looking at people as white, is just as racist.

      February 27, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Reply
      • Freezer

        You realize you just encapsulated EVERYTHING that enrages minorites about White People (TM), right?

        February 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm |
  4. George

    I totally agree that Black Lives Matter. However, it seems that the current protesters care only about blacks killed by white policeman. What about the 1100 black adults and children killed by other blacks in Saint Louis over the recent ten years? I am particularly saddened by the innocent children who are killed in their homes by drive-by shootings and other violent acts. Generally it seems to me that few responsible for these deaths are brought to justice, primarily because few of their neighbors cooperate with law enforcement. Where is the outrage for them? I think those innocent lives matter as much or more than those who encounter police for unlawful behavior. I sure don't get it why there is no outrage or no mention that their lives matter.

    December 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Reply
    • Robert Paige

      Please stop with the "What about black on black crime" bullshit. Plenty of people care about black on black crime. The reasons that meme is played and irrelevant hs been spelled out here and elsewhere. Whites mostly kill whites, why does no one protest white-on-white crime? For the exact same reason: They know when white kills white or black kills black, justice will be served 9 out of ten times. When cops kill blacks, it's swept under the rug as soon as possible. Justified or not, they're treated with the same "Who cares, it was just a thug" attitude. These are issues "black-on-black" crime do not – CANNOT – invoke. I need the world to fall back about "well what about black on black crime!" You've rendered that complaint as meaningless as "What about the children."

      December 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Reply
      • just thoughts

        Sorry, but there is more then just black vs. white. its funny that it is all about just "black " individuals. I think its Very racist of blacks to make it White vs. black. There are many many famous wealthy black people that invest adn have been invested in by many white people and help each other just as white people. maybe black people need to look up to the successful black people and see what they did and how it worked for them instead of blaming "white" people.

        I mean, i dont even relate people by skin color . Its about the person. The issue i have, is that instead of being a proactive indiviual against racism, you are a black person blaming white people. you dont leave racism behind with that. sorry. To constantly blame white people is just as racist. You are becoming your own issue. your spreading more hate on white racism.

        Poor people are poor. doenst matter what skin color. there are poor every color skin on this planet. not just black people. Poverty is aweful and sad and it doesnt matter what skin color it is, it affects everyone not just blacks.

        To be honest and fair, accurate history dictates that black people started slavery. They enslaved themselves. they sold them selves. and white people learned from them. maybe black people need to focuse on their own "positives" instead of just hating on and blaming other races.

        I mean, why do blacks hate so much? maybe they need to look at the anger issue instead. blacks dont like other minority groups either typically maybe becaue they dotn watn to share the vicitm card?

        February 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm |
    • skytag

      Robert Paige is correct. This is just a disingenuous attempt at deflection. There is much discussion of black-on-black crime, but it's a separate issue. Don't try to change the subject because the current subject makes you uncomfortable.

      December 7, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
      • Adam

        The current subject has no right answer for whites. we are always wrong and evil.

        March 13, 2015 at 10:42 am |
      • Freezer

        And prone to taking things personally and dramatically, apparently.

        March 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm |
  5. antano1970

    Good evening and welcome to CBS WhiteTime News
    This just in...most of the white folks played by the rules today

    December 2, 2014 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • Robert Paige

      So did John Crawford III. You see where that got him.

      December 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • skytag

      By and large, who wrote the rules? Oh yeah, white people. And for the record, most blacks played by them too.

      December 7, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
  6. antano1970

    Sure, whitey is the problem here.
    I remember this one time I had to deal with the police and I didn't make any aggressive movements or try to bum-rush him ...heck, nor even try to take his gun...and I DIDN'T get a cap in my trunk.
    Oh, I didn't rob any stores just before that either.
    I certainly didnt hear much about the white guy who got clubbed to death by hammers nor the 4 year old white girl shot in a drive by. Those stories seem to just be oddly buried for some reason.

    December 2, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
    • skytag

      If they're buried, why are you aware of them?

      December 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
    • Adam

      Did you just call us 'Whitey'? That's racist! (yet because I'm white, it's not racist) seriously, it's not, we don't care. just showing the double standard. Darkie.

      March 13, 2015 at 10:45 am | Reply
  7. john furbee

    There is not an epidemic of white police violence against blacks. There is an "epidemic" of violence like the mob destruction of Ferguson & other cities. Much of it fueled by media & political misinformation. Why is there an outrage over a white cop doing his job & no outrage over the young black children killed by black men last week in FL. Take a look at the black on black & black on white violence numbers. They have been higher then white on black for many years. Mob violence of any color is bad & should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    December 1, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • Robert Paige

      Why? Because A) Blacks that kill blacks tend largely not to be agents of the state. B) Blacks that kill blacks tend largely to GO TO JAIL.

      December 1, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Reply
      • john furbee

        A. So Robert, you are saying that if Officer Wilson had been black it would have been OK? Or are you saying all police are bad? What Officer Wilson (black, white or purple)did was within the law. Micheal Brown was a large 18 year old young man who attacked a police officer.
        B, Anyone who murders someone should be held accountable. There are too many that seem to get away with it. How many drive by shootings are still unsolved. Then who can forget O. J. Simpson?

        December 8, 2014 at 12:10 am |
      • Robert Paige

        A) If Darren Wilson was black, he's 1) probably indicted (like the Ferguson officer facing charges for hitting a protester with his baton. once). An indictment which most protesters think is the best we can hope for in this case (See also: Zimmerman, George) 2) Probably doesn't open up on an unarmed black kid because he was scared.

        B) You don't think that fact – that Wilson's actions were within acceptable parameters of police behavior – is a problem in and of itself?

        C)So you're admitting Wilson got away with murder? Why else invoke OJ?

        December 8, 2014 at 12:20 am |
    • skytag

      There is no epidemic of mob violence. What a dumb thing to say. On the other hand, for quite some time now there has been mounting evidence of police using excessive force, particularly against African-American men, but the problem goes beyond that.

      There was a case a while back where two cops were called to deal with a man who appeared to suffer from some kind of mental issue. He was out in the street with a knife. He was at least 20 feet from the cops and standing still when one of the cops shot him, and then the cop who shot him and his partner filed a false report claiming the man was rushing them. What they didn't realize was that a nearby surveillance camera caught the entire encounter on video.

      A couple of weeks ago two officers responded to a 911 call about a black kid waving a handgun around in a park. When they arrived they shot a 12-year-old with a BB gun to death less than two seconds after they got out of their car.

      Police have become trigger-happy, and I think part of the problem is that they virtually never face any consequences for what they do. Eric Garner was selling cigarettes illegally. Does that really justify putting him in a chokehold and wrestling him to the ground to take him into custody? We can't just give someone like that a ticket? Do we really want cops to feel they can ignore it when you say you can't breathe and choke you to death for selling a few cigarettes illegally? Yet that's the message we're sending.

      December 7, 2014 at 8:45 am | Reply
      • john furbee

        Carefully reread what I said. You did not quote me correctly.
        There is increased violence reported all over the world. What is "DUMB" is a violent mob. What is "DUMB" is violence by Islamic radicals. What is "DUMB" is the number of homeless, starving & sick people in the world. What is "DUMB" is that we are fighting the wrong fights at the wrong times.
        We need to let the examples you mentioned be settled by law. Our justice system often does not seem to work very well so it is "DUMB" we do not try to make it better. I have observed a number of violent incidents by police officers against white people so it swings both ways.

        December 8, 2014 at 1:13 am |
  8. Kevin

    And isn't it special how they blew up the FB poster's name so nobody would miss it? Brian – you've become a hack.

    December 1, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  9. Kevin

    Elon is a moron. The officer WAS TRYING to protect the community. He happened to run into a criminal and thug.

    December 1, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  10. David

    Black people in general claim that almost everything is racist so we will never be able to talk.

    December 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • skytag

      That's was nothing but a lame attempt to make an excuse for not wanting to talk about it. We can always talk if people are willing to talk.

      December 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Reply
      • liveinpeace7

        But are you willing to take ownership for anything? Are you willing to acknowledge that Michael had just robbed a store and assaulted the clerk? Are you willing to acknowledge that "unarmed" can still be dangerous and threatening? Why is a 12 yr old out in a park with a gun that looks real, pointing it at people in a threatening way, and why doesn't it occur to him that he is putting himself in a very dangerous situation (and who bought him that gun)? Are you willing to acknowledge the bad choices that many of these people made to get into the situation? Are you teaching your kids how to interact respectfully with police? Or are you teaching them to resist, refuse to cooperate, etc. in the name of "standing up for your rights"? I'm teaching my kids how to stay away from trouble. I see too many kids being taught that nothing is their fault, and they're the victim. But when I see their behavior and their choices, I'm not surprised that they ended up in trouble. A big problem is that white people see these situations and think – what were these people thinking? I would perceive them as threatening and dangerous. Yet the black community is in complete denial about these parts of the story. If the black community would own these things in these discussions, there might be more exchange. But when you say that it doesn't matter that he was high and had just robbed a store, or that he had a gun in public and was pointing it at people in a threatening way, the conversation stops, because I believe it does matter. Own the bad decisions, and learn from them. Does Adam Lanza's mom have some responsibility for what happened? Yes. Even though she was the victim, we still can admit that she made decisions that led to the result. Victims are not always blameless, no matter the color of their skin.

        December 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
  11. TheThinkingMinority

    Police brutality is a whole other subject that I believe has no bearing here.
    Burning businesses solve nothing. As for racism.... racism will never end as long as it is brought up. Someone please share this with publicity mongers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, an example of two of America's biggest advocators of racial turbulence.

    December 1, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Reply
    • skytag

      I'm no fan of Sharpton or Jackson, but I get sick of whites using them as an excuse to put all the blame for racial tension in this country on those two people.

      December 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  12. SJH

    How does burning down local businesses have anything to do with race or the police? I think even asking if "whites" get it is incredibly ignorant and racist. See Royce's comment above. A criminal is a criminal. Michael Brown was killed in the middle of a criminal act, period. Next story.

    December 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • skytag

      Our justice system is not built on the principle that any criminal act justifies being shot on sight. The police have a duty to use lethal force only as a last resort and let the courts determine the penalties for criminal behavior. The police in this country have never been charged with the responsibility to be judge, jury, and executioner, and I for one think it should stay that way.

      December 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  13. Chris

    Why is it that a 24 hour news channel finds ways to rehash the same stuff but when genuinely interesting conversation and dialog is happening, they cut the interviews short.. just to repeat the same stuff that was said at the top of the hour.. Let the debate happen, let people's opinions be heard and let the dialog be put out there for digestion.

    December 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  14. royce maynard

    do blacks not see that michael brown was nothing but a big hood? he strong armed robbed the convenience store & then tried to strong arm the cop; who j;ust happened to be white! iwhy can't blacks understand that a criminal is a criminall; no matter what color he is?

    November 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • Robert Paige

      Which part of "black thug" translates to "Shoot him?"

      December 2, 2014 at 4:34 am | Reply
    • skytag

      Why can't whites like you understand that being a criminal doesn't justify shooting you several times until you're dead without a trial? Regardless of your race, gender, religion, or age, law enforcement should only use lethal force against you as a last resort. And even when they feel using their weapons is necessary that doesn't mean they're justified in pumping six, eight, ten rounds into an unarmed individual.

      The whole notion of appropriate or proportional response seems to have been abandoned in this country. Many Americans now believe shooting someone to death is justified because someone punched you, threw popcorn at you in a theater, or even did nothing but you felt threatened. When did human life ceased to be valued in this country?

      December 7, 2014 at 8:28 am | Reply
      • Mike R.

        Sky, its not racial as in black vs white to most people. Its criminals vs law abiding citizens. People are fed up with crime, really to the point that they could care less how police treat criminals anymore. Most white people don't see it as black vs white, they see it as criminal vs cop. Is excessive force used... Yeah. Is it justified... No. Problem is not many people care anymore. Most people are so tired of crime it is getting to a "do whatever it takes to grid under control" mentality. Lots of people live in fear of crime,to the point that a police state seems like a better alternative then to risk being a victim. Unfortunately young black males are getting the brunt of this, as they have the highest chance of getting arrested. It truly is not racial, most people could care less who gets shot, white black, Asian...as long as another criminal is gone. Right or wrong, most white people do think black lives matter, however criminal lives of any race they could care less about.

        December 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • skytag

        Mike, you're rationalizing. Of course most whites don't see it as black vs. white because whites aren't getting the short end of the stick. Too many whites sound like you, acting as if all the blacks being shot by police are criminals.

        What you're ignoring is the number of blacks who aren't criminals who get shot because of differences in the way blacks and whites are perceived. For example, in one experiment people were shown two photos of two men fighting, one of whom had a knife. Both men in the first photo were white, and after seeing it most people could correctly recall which one had the knife. In the second photo, one man was white and the other black, and the white man had the knife. Yet most of the subjects recalled the black man having the knife. This is racial bias and it colors the way people think.

        Recently a 12-year-old black boy with a BB pistol was shot dead by police less than two seconds after they got out of their car. They made no attempt to talk to him, determine if the gun was real, ask him what he was doing or anything. They just shot him. A black man carrying a BB gun in a Wal*Mart was shot dead, no questions asked in Ohio.

        All other factors being equal blacks are more likely to be assumed to be dangerous, and that leads to more blacks being shot, no questions asked. One of the reasons blacks are so frustrated is that so many whites like you just make excuses for it.

        December 7, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
      • Adam

        White people are shot without question all the time too... Now is it disproportionate? i don't know... do blacks get the police called on them more? if so, then yea, that could explain it.

        March 13, 2015 at 11:19 am |
      • Adam

        Dont want the crime, You could be white, and a criminal, and I wouldn't shed a tear if you were put down force-ably. Just sick of crime no matter who it comes from. I don't get shot at by police, because I make right choices, now if I was black in compton, It may be different, but that would still be MY choice if I got shot at. Take some responsibility.

        March 13, 2015 at 11:23 am |

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