What Happens When You Try To Explain America’s Angst About Interracial Relationships To An Alien From Outer Space » VSB

Pop Culture, Race & Politics

What Happens When You Try To Explain America’s Angst About Interracial Relationships To An Alien From Outer Space

He thinks Mellie is misunderstood

He thinks Mellie is misunderstood

So, I have a secret to share.

I’ve had an alien living with me for the last couple of weeks. Not an illegal alien—remember, I live in Pittsburgh, and the population here is 20% Black, 50% White, and 30% Yinzer—but a real, actual alien from outer space. He came down to Earth on Halloween, and landed in my neighborhood, pretending to be a trick or treater. We met after he came past my house, asking for water.

I got it for him, and I knew something was up when he grabbed it with his ear. I straight up asked him “Are you an alien from outer space?” After a couple denials, he eventually fessed up, and admitted that he needed somewhere to crash until he got enough fuel to get back home. I offered him our spare bedroom. But he seems to be more comfortable sleeping in the bathtub.

Anyway, he’s been a pretty good houseguest so far. He makes the best lemonade I’ve ever had, he’s great with the dog, and both my girl and I have inexplicably grown two inches taller since he’s been here. (Strange, right?)

He’s also become very interested in both general and pop culture, and has developed a ravenous appetite for information, frozen cocktail sauce, and Scandal. (He says Huck reminds him of his cousin.) He even visits many of the same websites I do. So, you can imagine his confusion yesterday when finding this from the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen

“People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”

(Yes, you read that correctly. In 2013, a columnist at one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers said interracial marriage makes people with “conventional” views—read: “normal” people—nauseous.)

As I said before, the alien has learned quite a bit about American culture in his time here, so he’s (somewhat) aware of our country’s star-crossed racial history. Still, our collective angst about interracial romance confuses him. We all look exactly alike to him, so it doesn’t make any sense.

So, yesterday, I tried to explain some things to him. A paraphrased version of our conversation is below. (The alien’s remarks are in bold)

So what’s the deal with you all and interracial relationships? Where does this angst come from?

That’s a very interesting question. I can give you a long answer or a short one. Which do you prefer?

How about an inbetween one?

That’s what she said.


Nevermind. Ok. Well, first I have to make it clear that not everyone feels this angst. Some of us are perfectly fine with interracial relationships. But, those who aren’t tend to be quite vocal. And, their feelings can be summarized rather succinctly.

I like that word.


No. “But.” It makes me laugh every time you say it. But. But. But. But. But. But…

Okaaaaaaay. Anyway, we’ve been here since like 1600 or something, but there have been legal limitations on what we’ve been able to do in this country until like 1964. Basically, we’re all still getting used to this “Black people are completely free after being restricted in some way for 400 or so years” thing, and there are some kinks. One of those kinks is a collective angst about Black and White people sleeping with and procreating with each other.

Black women feel the angst about Black men dating out because Black men choosing to be with White women reinforces the idea that White women are the ideal.

Black men feel the angst about Black women dating out because we kinda, sorta think we kinda own them, and them dating out proves we don’t

White men feel the angst about White women dating out because they kinda, sorta think they kinda own everything, and them dating out proves they don’t.

What about White women? What angst do they feel?

Interestingly enough, no one really cares what they think. Or, at least cares enough to ask them.

That’s sad. 

It is.

So, that gives some context to some of the pieces I’ve read about Scandal. Black men seem to be really upset about that show. I don’t understand why they would be. Kerry is so fierce. Her lips remind me of the moons around my planet.

Well, not all Black men are upset about Scandal. Most aren’t at all. Some don’t even know it exists. Some are even fans of the show. The ones who are upset about it, though, are just very vocal.

I’ll split them into three camps.

A) Men genuinely perplexed by Black women’s embrace of such a flawed character. (This is the smallest camp.)

B) Men feeling a certain way that Black women have collectively embraced such a powerful character who is rendered powerless by a White man’s gaze. (This is also a small camp)

C) Trolls. (This is the largest camp.)


Yes. Trolls.

What are trolls?

In this context, they’re people who take antagonistic positions for no other reason than to bother people. In the traditional context, they’re tiny mutants who live inside of trees.

So, trolls are basically just people who are on Twitter?

I guess that’s one way of putting it.

So, why would these Black men troll?

There’s a certain amount of antipathy held by some Black men towards Black women. And vice versa. Again, not all Black men and Black women feel this way. Most don’t, actually. But some do. And those who do take whatever opportunity they can to insult each other.

That kind of reminds me of a conflict on my home planet. The Beervianians and 8-ock 981 have been engaged in a civil war for 200 years. It all started when…

No one gives a fuck about all that.

You’re an asshole. 

No I’m not. Just human.

Anyway, why do these Black men and Black women feel this way about each other?

There is a lot of hurt there. Part is slavery residue. Part is a result of the breakdown of the Black family. Part is self-hate. And, part is from us never getting over Frank’s Place getting canceled.

The solution to all of this can apparently be found in the linear notes of Dr. Dre’s Detox. Which is why it keeps getting pushed back by the Illuminati.

(Part 2 coming later.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • iamnotakata

    Wow to the post from the washington post….Why the h*ll would a interracial couple cause people nausea? This is why I never really see it for clear folks some time..His marriage to a black woman has absolutely nothing to do with whether he will be a competent governor…rick perry and retarded cowboy bush were both married to white women and both of them were utterly abysmal governors and Rick’s raggedy a*s continues to be. White folks stay mad…

    • Let’s keep it real. White folk don’t have a monopoly on dumb ish when it comes to interracial dating. Besides, De Blasio is going to have issues regardless of his wife. Apparently the math on his campaign promises isn’t working out too hot…

      • theres two sides to the coin, while white ppl may feel some type of way, lets not pretend there wasnt black who went to the polls to get a black first lady of new york.

        • Keeping it 100, his kids were more popular than his wife. Bill de Blasio’s wife inspired more “huh?” and “WTF?” reactions than anything else. it wasn’t hate as much as confusion. Ain’t too many out and proud Black lesbians from the 70s running around married with children by any dude, regardless of color. LOL

          • true…i never heard of him til i seen the ad with the kid who looked like huey freeman

          • Maris

            His kids are more popular because his wife is a dark-skinned woman with locs, which makes her effectively invisible. THAT. Is what makes me nauseous, not their pairing.

            • Now that you mention it, I don’t know if I’ve seen her (not that I’ve really been checking for any of them).

  • Oshun

    This post is really alien. champ what point are you making or trying to?

    • Sandpaper

      Pre-emptive twitter shaming?

  • Val

    *wonders if the Alien living with Champ is Sahel. Fits his profile exactly. Asks lots of pop culture questions. Check. Drinks water. Check.*

    Champ, does the Alien living with you ask for Vegemite and beef patties and does he have a parachute with him?

    • Yoles

      Enjoy it Val…. come to NYC!!!!

      • Val

        I wish, Yolie. Hopefully soon though.

  • nillalatte

    Dannnnggggg… Champ burning the chronic and gettin twisted… with an alien… lol

    • Chronic laced with something really special can do that. Only Champ knows for sure how it happened.

  • Val

    Richard Cohen is a Tea Party shill. And, his audience is Tea Party racists. So, in that context his column makes perfect sense as Tea Party folks are azzbackwards ingrates.

    The problem I’m having with the column is that it was in the Washington Post. Which is now owned by Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. So,if this Cohen guy is allowed to continue writing this Tea Party crap in the Post then I’m going to have to stop shopping on Amazon.com. Btw, I just bought some stuff from them this past weekend. I really like shopping on Amazon.com.

    But, at a certain point allowing this guy Cohen to continue means that Bezos is either directly or indirectly supporting this rhetoric and that is unacceptable. Which would mean I’ll have to spend the several hundred dollars elsewhere that I would have spent on Amazon.com in the coming weeks on holiday gifts and other stuff.

    • I feel you Val, just don’t dig too deep. Life as we know it is hanging by a wish and a thread.

      • Val

        Welp. like they say, if you don’t stand for something…..

        • I think the last part of that quote has already happened. We still have to try our best to do better though.

    • Joanna

      Fundamentally, I disagree. Cohen is a columnist. He’s paid to write his opinions–no matter how unpopular they may be. And, as a former journalism student, I can’t knock his [ignorant] hustle. I think that Bezos is probably more interested in the revenue Cohen’s shocking columns result in more than the content itself.

      • Val

        Really? Lol. Do you really know who Cohen is and his history? And, I’m always amazed and confused by people who ‘respect hustles’. Do you respect the KKK’s hustle too?

        Here’s some info on Cohen: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/11/richard-cohen-just-the-worst

        • afronica

          Yeah, Cohen’s been a racist, sexist, homophobic, insert most vile beliefs here-ist since I’ve been reading the Post (25 years). What bothers me most is when he assumes that “I had no idea, I’ve been sheltered” tone while espousing some of his vilest opinions. I’m not buying the innocent act, D!ck.

    • Huh? I am not not exactly a Richard Cohen fan, but there’s nothing in his rap sheet that says Tea Party shill. He is a pretty establishment Democratic party guy from what I gather, and he isn’t know for making bold declarations of any sort outside of his lane. You need more people Val.

      • Shamira

        Ummm what???

        see here, here, here , and here . He’s had multiple instances of being called out on his hack behavior.

        • There’s a long way between being an idiot and being a Tea Party shill. There’s a long way between his BS and what Val is talking about.

          • Shamira

            You said establishment Democrat. That was what I was rebutting. He is not one and has never been considered one.

            • Fair enough. Then again, I regard anyone too tied to the establishment of the Democratic Party or the Republicans to be idiots unless proven otherwise.

        • Val

          Some people are naive politically, Shamira. They only know what they’re told. They don’t have the ability to see the obvious. Which is why I don’t engage with them. Anyone who actually thinks Cohen is a Democrat falls into this category.

    • but i like amazon…no promo

      • Val

        Me too and I want to keep liking it.

        • esa

          i’m ambivalent about Amazon. the long term impact of their business model will be fascinating to watch.

          • Val

            It will be interesting to watch if they turn into another Wal-Mart. I hope not.

  • minxbrie

    For once, I want to pretend like I’m surprised. But I’m not.

    Now, is it the fact that de Blasio is married to an ex-lesbian Black woman? Or that they dared to spawn children?
    White people just stay mad.

    • That “ex-lesbian” thing really rubs me the wrong way. I understand she grew up in a time when there were only two boxes and you had to check one or the other or be nobody… but this is New York. We’re pretty used to “broad definitions”. We accepted that Bloomberg defined himself as an official for the “everyman”, right?
      Anywhoo, I’m not knocking anybody, and you are free to define yourself as you choose. Just something about the “ex/former” part makes me think it was something to be ashamed of, and it’s not. I know plenty of hetero/homochexuals that did not think they were capable of loving a member of the other chex until they met ONE single person they did. Didn’t change what magazine they pick up to have special alone time with, though, or where their eyes go first in a bar. **shrug**

    • “Now, is it the fact that de Blasio is married to an “ex-lesbian” Black woman?”

      The stories I could tell on these people. They are everywhere in the Auburn-Opelika (mostly Opelika) area…

      • Sandpaper

        Oh word? I may need to come up there for a visit.

        • I have stories for days on the lesbian couples I see up here, dude. Most of them will have you either shaking your head or being puzzled at how they came to where they are.

          • Camilleblu

            Why P.A.?Please expound.

            • Most of the lesbians in the Auburn-Opelika area fall into two categories:

              One: The ones who were hurt by a man (or men) and decided to try something new. Ironically, they end up with butch lesbians who talk, act and dress like- you guessed it- men!

              Two: The ones who are in college and want to experiment- or see what life is like with someone of the same gender. However, you should refrain from labelling them as “gay”- they don’t take too kindly to that, LOL!

              • Camilleblu

                Ahh…I see. But I don’t think that is particular to your area tho…

                • I don’t think it is either. However, the “lesbians” down here seem to be going through a phase as opposed to actually being…you know…a real lesbian, LOL!

                  • Camilleblu

                    So, it’s a lot of “testing the waters” going on is what your saying??

                    • Pretty much…and a lot of them openly admit to it. I thought there would be a huge outcry about it from the population of women who are actual lesbians. They don’t seem to mind it.

              • Yoles


                maybe they just tried women and liked it… and possibly they are not gay per se, just with a woman at the moment…

                • John Shannon

                  See, thatis is where the Double Standard of Women being “gay per se” and Men being “Gay= Gay, PERIOD” is BS to me. Either it Applies to Everyone or it Applies to Nobody. I don’t play Cherry-picking Topics/Issues/Ideology, I am 100% Honest and To the Point UNLESS I’m talking about ME, MYSELF and I. Personal Experiences are not Black and White aka Cut and Paste w/o some Gray or Editing

          • Sandpaper

            I see. I thought you meant that there was an abundance of formerly gay women fiendishly searching for that good joog. “I got enough to feed the needy.”

  • TheOtherJerome

    Loving this post. This ish right here:

    “And, part is from us never getting over Frank’s Place getting canceled.”

    Was so out of left field, it’s perfect. Like the Spanish Inquisition, i totally never expected that reference!

    At any rate, D!ck Cohen = Idiot. As long as you remember that, you’ll never be surprised.

    Also, is that Bibble from Nebulon 5 that’s chillin in your place? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • rul1

      Yeah, cause only bibble could keep it so real.

  • I recently read that 87% of Americans support interracial marriage. *ahem* If you are part of the remaining 13%, please complete the following survey:

    Are you:
    A. A member of the Klan?
    B. Confused about the man made definition of race?
    C. Convinced that Jungle Fever does indeed lead to heart disease?
    D. All of the above.

    Please respond.

    • Freebird

      People say anything to get the job.

      • esa

        suggested edit:

        People without integrity say anything to get the job.

        • Freebird

          Agreed. But this is capitalisim. Integerity is in short supply.

          • esa

            i’m not sure if that is an exclusive function of capitalism so much as it is a function of the group. no matter what political or economic system, there is a general trend towards by the powers that be towards silencing truth.

    • SuperStrings

      Why the downvotes though?

  • You better watch him next time he makes that lemonade. He’s probably sending his log entries back home talking bout “Yeah, I got this human addicted to my pee…lol.” Now what’s this prestigious magazine you’re talking about? Oh, you mean the post. :0(

    “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex.”

    Hey, I say something similar to women when……nevermind. :0)

    • “Hey, I say something similar to women when……nevermind. :0)”

      *cues “Put It In Your Mouth” by Akinyele*

  • Joanna

    This may be a really unpopular view, but, in the article Champ linked, the author said Richard Cohen should be fired. I don’t agree. Firing him for his unpopular views would just be a violation of his first amendment rights. Besides, I think America has a better chance of combatting bigotry and racism head on, rather than just shutting everyone with an unpopular opinion up.

    • we always so quick to come for someones job….columnists tend to be polarizing, whether u love or hate them, they get hits

      • Val

        Yeah but, there’s a difference between being polarizing and promoting racial hatred and bias.

    • Shamira

      “Firing him for his unpopular views would just be a violation of his first amendment rights.”

      This is absolutely untrue.

      The first amendment only protects you from government censorship. The government doesn’t have a right to punish you for speaking your piece. Private entities can do whatever the hayle they want. its “Congress shall make no law” not “the Washington Post shall make no law.” If the Post feels like this man’s trolling will hurt their bottom line they have every right to kick him to the curb.

      I also think its really reductive to say people just want him fired for saying an unpopular opinion. Rationalizing bigotry on a national scale is problematic. Plus are we acting like there arent 10902302 other venues in which thinly vieled racist venom is allowed without major consequence?

      Ta-Nehisi Coates put it well:

      The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn’t actually racist, but “conventional” or “culturally conservative.” Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism. If retching at the thought of that right
      being exercised isn’t racism, then there is no racism.

      It isn’t Cohen’s first time being skewered for being hack ( see here, here, here , and here ), so he very may well survive this scandal. But regardless, if you have the courage to have put out those convictions, then you have to be willing to deal with any potential consequences. Losing your job and being called out on your idiocy may be one of them.

      In short, Cohen has a right to his opinion – and the Washington Post has a right not to endorse it.

      • ED

        “‘Firing him for his unpopular views would just be a violation of his first amendment rights.’
        This is absolutely untrue.”

        I get ready to go into debate mode every time I hear someone invoke first amendment rights in response to private issues. Any company can fire you for not conforming to their views and it’s perfectly legal

        • SuperStrings

          This is especially true in GA. That “At Will” employment is a bish.

          • Camilleblu

            Indiana is an at will stateas well.

            • 321mena123

              I think most states are at-will but have exceptions to the rule.

              • SuperStrings

                True. GA will tell you they love you in the morning and to get the he!! out in the afternoon. No justification necessary.

                • 321mena123

                  Right. Even with states that aren’t at will, the burden of proof lies on the ex employee. Where is WC to break this down? I think she is a lawyer.

          • Wooo, who you telling. Just fire you for being ugly, really.

            • SuperStrings

              “Just fire you for being ugly”
              I’ve heard stories.

      • SuperStrings

        Ta Nehisi, one of the oldest civilizations. Is that his given name?

        • Shamira

          yep, I think so. His parents were very active in the Black Panthers/Black Nationalist movements so it would make sense.

          And look at you recognizing Nubia. You make my nerd brain tingle :)

          • SuperStrings

            Ancient African civilizations is kind of my hobby. I’m along the lines of the Cheikh Anta Diop school of thought.

            • T.Q. Fuego

              Looks like I need to be getting my reading suggestions from you then, holla at a playa. See why I said you say all the right things? This is why you should have diplomatic immunity from the corner. Agatha I’m requesting a pardon for this esteemed gentleman.

              • Yoles


                • T.Q. Fuego

                  Thou shalt not hate. Thou shalt congratulate.

                  • Yoles

                    i am not hating just waiting for my passionate and eloquent freedom papers to be written for me BY YOU…

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      You know u my homie, but if you’re granted your freedom papers from the corner you gone corrupt the masses. That would reflect poorly on me. I’ll see if I can work with my colleague @agathaguilluame:disqus and arrange you bi-weekly conjugal visits though.

                    • Yoles

                      corrupt?!?! when i am here working tirelessly to dispel untruths and give health/mental/medical & social #Facts… reaching and teaching the masses…

                      breaking down kegals
                      explain that stopping urine streams can assist in UTI
                      distinguishing the difference between female ejaculate and urine
                      kicking the truth the to young black, white, asian and multiracial/ethnic youth and older folks too…

                      i do it for my peoples

                      i demand justice but will take those conjugal visits in the interim!!!

                • Shamira

                  we gotta start picketing Yoles. No justice, No peace!

                  • Yoles

                    i mean… all the good we do for the people and not one stands up and demands an end to the tyranny?!?!?!

                    *picks up handmade sign

                    No justice, No Peace!!!

              • Agatha Guilluame

                Listen there’s a lot of paperwork involved. And the most I could even do is probation, not a full pardon.

              • SuperStrings

                Used to be in the books a lot harder. Slowed down since the kids were born. I appreciate the petition to have me released. I don’t mind the corner though. In a way, everyone is painted into one corner or another. Might as well own your corner.

            • Val

              Have you studied Kush?

              • SuperStrings

                I’ve read a few things.

                • Val

                  It’s interesting how hidden that civilization was and remains.

                  • SuperStrings

                    I think we’ve barely scratched the surface in understanding how advanced that civilization (and others in that region) was. “Scholars” have begun to readjust their dating. Drusilla Houston was way ahead of her time though. She wrote 85 years ago that Nubian civilizations date back 30,000 years in her book “Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire”.

                • Shamira

                  “Nah I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit…”

        • Boyyyy, that SuperStrings just be showing OUT!

      • LMNOP

        Well said.

      • Agatha Guilluame

        *slow claps* Brava.

    • Sandpaper

      “…rather than just shutting everyone with an unpopular opinion up.”

      That seems to be the preferred tactic of those who won’t debate someone that they know they can’t out-think. It’s weaksauce. They should speak their peace openly and direct.

      • esa

        fascism is the preferred tactic in the management of contemporary American political discourse.

        • Sandpaper

          Another fitting title. It gets overthrown through the will of the people eventually. As someone said yesterday, the corner will be taking over. I think misdirection and subterfuge are used just as often as fascism though.

          Changing subjects, I came across some info that falls into an arena that you are well versed in. I wouldn’t talk about it here though. I will hit you up on one of your social media accounts.

          • esa

            ~ I think misdirection and subterfuge are used just as often as fascism though.

            yes. agreed. i also think misdirection and subterfuge are the tactics a fascist employs in their mind control campaigns.

            ~ I will hit you up on one of your social media accounts.

            please do ~*~

        • SuperStrings

          Where is this tactic not eventually the preferred tactic?

          • esa

            on an individual level, within people in possession of personal integrity. the question then becomes, can the group (society) support the integrity that freedom commands ?

            • SuperStrings

              Sorry, I thought you were associating the tactic with the U.S., as opposed to other countries/societies. As far as your question goes, can you identify a country that has successfully done this? It seems as though many revolutions start off with good intentions, but when the revolutions are successful, the revolutionaries often eventually become guilty of the same types of malicious power plays as the former oppressors.

              • esa

                i’m not at all sure that the group can withstand the integrity of the individual. it may be counterintuitive for mammals, many of whom are programmed to organize themselves around an alpha.

                within the human species, i think each person spends a large (conscious or unconscious) part of their lives dealing with the inherent conflict between the integrity of individuality and the demands and conditioning of the group.

                i dont know that as a group we are designed to reach a space that is conflict-free, though we are given the means to imagine such a possibility. believe that because we are the apex predators on this planet, we are designed to prey not only on all aspects of the planet but to in fact finish ourselves off.

                if only because Nature abhors a vacuum …

                • SuperStrings

                  I agree. Do you have any thoughts on who/what you think will replace us as the apex predators if/when our self-annihilation occurs?

                  • esa

                    i havent had that vision (yet?) i was just saying i did have a vision of a nuclear attack. twice, actually, i had the vision twice in my life. i’m not sure what life can withstand such a cataclysmic event. but whatever live remains it shall assuredly recreate the predator/prey dynamic. i dont hope to see this. *note to Universe

                    • Yoles

                      from what i heard so far just roaches… but there is still hope on what can survive

                    • SuperStrings

                      I think the duality of life is that it’s quite fragile on one hand, yet amazingly resilient on the other.

                    • esa

                      life fights for itself. i had this revelation watching a one legged pigeon on a sub-zero day make its way across the pavement during rush hour.

    • SuperStrings

      I agree with you. Freedom of speech is a brilliant idea. It’s actually more for the government than it is for the people. It allows the government to easily identify and monitor anti-government sentiments and prevent them from boiling over. In other countries, the government doesn’t know where the opposition is coming from because they’ve forced everyone to shut up, which doesn’t make people’s anti-government sentiments disappear; just forces them underground. Always easier to fight an enemy you can see.

      • esa

        ~ Always easier to fight an enemy you can see.

        except when it is the government-sponsored counter revolutionary.

        • Sandpaper

          Leave Al and Jesse alone!

        • SuperStrings

          In which case the counter revolutionary is just a phantom enemy, and the government is the real enemy hiding behind them.

      • afronica

        Never thought about it this way. Interesting. So freedom of speech is like an HR department in a company.

        • SuperStrings

          You want to encourage opposition to speak out so that you know where they are. That way there’s never a “secret” revolution brewing.

    • 321mena123

      Thank you.

      • Joanna

        Exactly! What he said was really douchey, but I’d rather be made aware of who I’m dealing with beforehand than assume everyone’s thinks like I do.

    • LMNOP

      Free speech does not cover your “right” to say racist things at work with no consequences. This is not just an unpopular opinion, it is hateful, racist and contributes nothing to any kind of debate or conversation.

      • 321mena123

        I agree with your first sentence. However, if you are on a show that asks for your opinion, do you think we should only listen then debate PC opinions or should we allow for all opinions to be heard and then debate them?

        • Shamira

          But that’s not how it works. newspapers are beholden to public support. they always have been. you can present an awful opinion and then point it out as blatantly wrong, or you can present that same opinion and feebly rationalize it. you’re still putting those words out there, but the framing matters. “Everyone has a right to an opinion” is overused – you have a right to think what you want, but the second you put it out for public consumption then you better be dayumn well ready to suffer the backlash.

          Also, writing in a newspaper isn’t the same as a political roundtable. When guests go on Hardball, or MHP, or Bill O’Reilly, they are visitors to the program. Richard Cohen is a representative of the Washington Post. He is a direct part of their brand. Putting that out there without any qualification is an endorsement – which is why in the several previous instances that he has gone way overboard, the Washington Post, not just him, has been forced to apologize.

          If he wants to let his flag fly on his perspective without reproach and only being accountable for himself, he can start his own blog, independent column, or what have you. Many notable names in journalism have done so on their own accord and found substantial success. But he chose to be part of a corporate entity and is therefore held to the same standard that most of us are when it comes to representing a business.

          • The only issue I have is that even a guest to a program is not immune to castigation on an issue that someone prodded THEM about. Brings to mind the sports reporter who expressed views on gay marriage and landed in hot water afterward. Pretty much, if you say something, you have to be prepared for the funk to hit the fan.

            • 321mena123

              This I agree with. If you say or write something then it isn’t up to you how others take it. But isn’t it better to know someone’s true feelings and then speak with them about it than to know only what they want you to hear? People are upset with what he said. I understand that. But he said it so now what? He gets fired and we only then hear those peoples opinions that we agree with? Doesn’t make sense to me.

              • Quiet as it’s kept, I really saw Cohen’s statement as describing a vein of thought held by a group of people. That he doesn’t think they are racist does not make him a racist. It makes him misguided. I was fully expecting to read an inflammatory article, but the hullabaloo is over one. paragraph. Where he doesn’t state “I think” at all. Ionno. I think my outrage button is broke from pressing on Jonathan Martin and Renisha McBride.

                • Shamira

                  Well, his views on following black men in stores and scorn for the Trayvon hoodie movement definitely give me some scorn on where his prejudices low, but to be fair that is outside of the context of this article.

                  I don’t think anybody reasonable accused him of being racist – they accused him of rationalizing racist pathology. He used the word “conventional” minded…that is insulting and patronizing as all get-out. You’re an editor, you know how much word choice matters. People yadda yadda-ing bigoted pathology is like when Paula Deen went “oh, it was the 80s!” …that doesn’t make the act any less racist, and I don’t appreciate when any party tries to mitigate that.

                  • I see your point. I am just not sure I need to grab my pitchfork for this one. However, it takes all kinds, so I will gladly cheer folk on as they fight the good fight against stereotyping and racism. I shall sit this one out, though :P

                  • 321mena123

                    I see the word “conventional” as being traditional. Traditional minded people have some views that i will never understand nor agree with.

                • 321mena123

                  I am with you. My outrage button has never worked for things like this. I think, due to the fact that i grew up in the deep south, and heard some of the foulest things coming from blacks and whites, has desensitized me to a lot of it.

              • h.h.h.

                ” People are upset with what he said. I understand that. But he said it so now what? He gets fired and we only then hear those peoples opinions that we agree with? Doesn’t make sense to me.”

                Democracy at its finest, no?

                • T.Q. Fuego

                  More like the Internet at its finest. Makes it way easier to only listen to perspectives you agree with.

          • 321mena123

            “But that’s not how it works. newspapers are beholden to public support.
            they always have been. you can present an awful opinion and then point
            it out as blatantly wrong, or you can present that same opinion and
            feebly rationalize it. you’re still putting those words out there, but
            the framing matters. “Everyone has a right to an opinion” is overused –
            you have a right to think what you want, but the second you put it out
            for public consumption then you better be dayumn well ready to suffer
            the backlash.” I don’t know what this has to do with what I wrote.

            Actually, I don’t understand where any of this has to do with what I wrote. My question was simply “allow all opinions to be heard and debated or only allow for the PC ones to be heard and debated?”

            • Shamira

              “allow all opinions to be heard and debated or only allow for the PC ones to be heard and debated?”

              What I’m saying is that he chose to do it in a corporate structure. When you work in a company, you don’t just get to do or say what you want. You want to have agency to say/do whatever you want, then you strike out on your own. It’s no different than any of us who have bureaucratic 9-5 jobs.

              • 321mena123

                I’m not disagreeing with most of this but when you are a company that reports the news AND opinions, is there a memo that’s handed out to let you know what opinions you can and aren’t allowed to express? You don’t think that this man was hired knowing that his viewpoints would be different from the status quo?

                • LMNOP

                  Maybe I’m missing something, but to me just being a bigot doesn’t really qualify as an opinion, but I can’t explain why not.

                  An unpopular opinion might be libertarian political beliefs, thinking Domino’s is the best pizza, etc. But interracial couples make you sick? That’s not even an opinion, it’s just ignorance. Kind of like how “global warming is a hoax” is not really an opinion, it’s just wrong.

                  • 321mena123

                    I saw the view as being foul but it seemed like he was talking about a specific group of people. And there are specific groups of people who feel the same way about interracial couples, gays, puppies, etc.

                    • LMNOP

                      Just strikes me as not true at all. “Conventional” or conservative people are nauseated by interracial relationships and multiracial families? No, RACIST people are nauseated by interracial couples. I know people with a pretty wide range of political beliefs, and they all seem to have about the same rate of interracial dating, I would say conventional and/ or conservative people marry more, so they might even have higher rates of interracial marriage (obviously people I know is not a representative sample, but it’s enough to make me disagree)

                    • So basically, we’re mad because he refused to call water wet, and instead said it was moist? lol :)

                    • LMNOP

                      Personally, I’m just mad that no one was like “hey let’s not publish this bigot’s rant, since it is offensive and hateful.”

                  • Val

                    :…just being a bigot doesn’t really qualify as an opinion…”


                • Shamira

                  No. But the opinions will always be a direct reflection of the paper. And if it downgrades the paper’s brand, then they will have to reevaluate. This is not the first time that Cohen has done too much on race and WaPo has been forced to apologize.

                  Also, are we really acting like the United States has NO safe space for bigoted opinions to express themselves? Because I’m reminded of the alleged inferiority of blackness at LEAST once a week. Let’s not pretend like he’s giving a voice to the voiceless.

                  • 321mena123

                    In the media sense, i think i would have only heard that comment on FOX news. He isn’t giving a voice to the voiceless they are everywhere. But in terms of the media, I don’t know.

            • h.h.h.

              “”allow all opinions to be heard and debated or only allow for the PC ones to be heard and debated?””

              in the ‘public square’..all opinions are allowed, whether you believe in them or not. however once you go into business…and your bottom line is the moolah, then you have to make sure your message, your brand, get you what you want.


              and your employees/agents have to be on board with your brand, your message, because whatever they say, reflect on you, and how you get your profit.

              (which is why folks don’t really say what’s on their mind on facebook, lol)

              so yes, you have the right to say whatever you want in the public space, or on the internet, so long as you have an anonymous voice. but free speech, is only for the government. for everyone else, there really is no such thing as free speech so long as people have economic resources to counteract “reprehensible thought”

              Laissez-faire democracy, no?

              • ForeverCC

                i agree with you on the free speech. unfortunately there is no such thing as bad press in today’s culture. how many clicks has the washington post website gotten because of this article? some companies are more willing than others to have less desirable press just for the sake of having press. i actually haven’t read the “real” article (only excerpts) because i don’t want to support it – my personal way of boycotting.

                • Val

                  I don’t read the Post because I figure if you have someone on your staff like Cohen then the entire paper’s judgement is in question, so I don’t trust them as a real news source. Because of Cohen I view the Washington Post like I view the NY Post, a joke.

              • John Shannon

                Take Rob Parker FORMERLY of ESPN; his “questioning” of RGIII nt just as a Black QB but as a Black Man in general was/still is said in the Barbershops and other places Black Folks/Men congregate, but when he Said what he said on First Take, he was Suspended and then Fired.
                Was he only saying what LOTS were Saying and Thinking???? Yes, but he worked for ESPN and Disney (the folks that turned out the likes of Brittney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, etc) and their “brand(???)” felt that challenging the Blackness of a Pro Athlete was Unacceptable.
                Discussing SOMEONE ELSE Challenging a Pro Athlete’s Blackness, like what’s happening with Jonathan Martin- that’s Different………… Take that how you will

    • Val

      I thought you said you were a former journalism student? Don’t they teach about the First Amendment in J school? (see Shamira’s response)

      • Joanna

        Yes, but considering newspapers were one of the first venues of public speech in this country, I’ll stand by my interpretation of the first amendment. Cohen isn’t claiming to be a scientific or social expert and declaring that de Blasio is unfit to be mayor because of his biracial family. He’s stating his opinion in his column–regardless how stupid it is. And that’s why I don’t think he should be fired. That’s all.

        • Val

          So, you’re going to stand by your interpretation of that Amendment even though your interpretation is wrong? Please explain.

          • Luca

            Lol. Classic.

          • Joanna

            Just that, in this case, his column and opinion doesn’t merit him being fired. Because it’s HIS opinion. And HIS column.

        • Shamira

          I mean, your interpretation has been rejected by multiple courts, both state and federal. But okay.

          Remember that corporations are also viewed as people too, so if you want to argue semantics…firing a journalist is also covered under the first amendment and Cohen would have no legal recourse.

          It’s still a company. Freedom of speech isn’t just for journalists, it’s for everyone — yet if I stood on top of my desk at work and yelled at the top of my lungs “f*ck all the n*ggers out here!!” I’d be promptly escorted out. Even if it was just my opinion.

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