A few nights ago, I was flipping through channels on my TV and I stumbled upon an episode of Chopped that was gone midway. Chopped is a food competition show on Food Network where four contestants cook and compete in four different rounds with a contestant being “chopped” (eliminated) after each round until there’s one woman/man left standing. This was the scene I stumbled on: there were three contestants left and the judges were about to reveal whose dish was on the chopping block. Two of the contestants were white and one was a black man. My automatic, fervent wish was “don’t let it be the black person’s dish!” And even if a black woman was a contestant, I know I would’ve been rooting for her first.
After I thought that, I started to dissect that innate response. Am I completely biased against anyone who isn’t a black woman? Who isn’t black in general? Is that unfair of me? Is that racist of me?
Issa Rae, the African-American actress, was once asked on the red carpet of the 2017 Emmy Award’s show who she was rooting for that night. Her response was ‘I’m rooting for everybody black.”
As you can imagine, cries of “racism” ensued. Fox News’ host Tucker Carlson response to Issa’s statement was:
“Those comments didn’t seem to raise an eyebrow, but of course, they didn’t. It’s 2017, and so we’re used to open race hostility from the left…I just think it’s a divisive habit of thought.” He added, “I think looking at the world like that gets you into civil war, actually. I think you should look at people first as individuals. What did this person do? What does he believe? What has he achieved? And as soon as you see people as indistinguishable from their anybody else in their same group, that’s when you really start hating each other.”
Now, I don’t see any “race hostility” in Issa’s statement but I do believe Carlson has some fair points.
Blindly rooting for a person simply because she is female or he/she is black, regardless of their capabilities is, to put in bluntly, dumb and ill-advised.
Take Dr. Ben Carson for example; my first glance at the US presidential elections in 2016 revealed that he was the only slightly plausible winner who was a black candidate so my initial thought was “let the black man win.” But as the campaigns went on, it became glaringly clear that Dr. Carson’s views and stances on issues varied drastically from mine so my support of him dwindled into nothing. Similarly, in Liberia’s 2017 presidential elections, I did not root for the female candidates because their views and mine didn’t align. This also extends to supporting black and/or female businesses; I will walk into a restaurant and try only the food owned by a black person or a woman before I would do the same at one owned by a non-black person or a man. However, if I try the food and the latter restaurant has better food, best believe I would dine there because I’m a foodie and good food is life.
So, I know that when given the necessary information, I will support who deserves support, regardless of their race or gender. Therefore, I know I’m not racist nor am I discriminatory towards anyone.
But I also know this, before any further information is given about a particular situation, I root for blackness and I root for female.
I don’t believe this is due to any hatred towards non-black people or men. I believe this is simply due to the fact that black people and women have been given the short end of the stick for so long. We have had so little wins in comparison to other people that the lot of us just want more wins. We just want more to celebrate. We want to get to a point where the playing field has been leveled and we have gotten our due diligence so we don’t feel the initial, immediate need to root for black people or for women.
But until that glorious day in the sun when all this is realized, I will continue to automatically root for blackness and for women because we have nobody else rooting for us.
Authored by Shari Raji