Chris Hayes of "All In with Chris Hayes" and Cord Jefferson at Gawker delivered a much-needed antidote to the Bill O'Reilly rant about African American communities and why young black men commit so many crimes. Hayes and Jefferson analyze "white culture" in the same patronizing, broad way that O'Reilly looked at "black culture." The piece is a delight on its own, but if you want the full effect, first read about O'Reilly's rant below, or, if you want to test your emotional fortitude, watch O'Reilly here (not recommended).
The O'Reilly rant is so egregious, it's hard to know where to begin. I'm still sort of reeling from watching all 7 minutes of it (for you, dear reader, for you), but let me distill it down to a few bullet points and one giant, overarching assumption (which Hayes and Jefferson draw out brilliantly). O'Reilly's assumes that "Black America" is one thing. All African Americans are part of one community, and they all respond to African American leaders like President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and gangsta rappers.
Now, O'Reilly's bullet points:
1) Blacks commit a lot of crimes. 2) This has nothing to do with education disparity, drug arrest disparity, job opportunity disparity or guns. 3) This has everything to do with black women having babies out of wedlock and a lack of discipline among African Americans which leads them to violence and drugs. 4) Therefore, the solution to poverty and crime in African American communities is to tell black women to stop having babies out of wedlock ("that's a personal decision," O'Reilly yells), to institute harsh discipline in public schools and require school uniforms, and zero-tolerance, mandatory prison term punishments for gun and drug offenses.
That's the short version. Here's my even shorter response: poor neighborhoods have much worse public schools, worse job prospects, and greater economic incentives to get into crime and drugs than do middle and upper class neighborhoods. White hegemony, which has been the rule, not the exception for most of American history, has led to a disproportionate number of these neighborhoods being primarily African American, and racial profiling in a number of ways, but most notably drug arrests has helped maintain this status quo.
But really, there's little point in arguing with O'Reilly and his devotees. A much better response is to turn it around, as Hayes and Jefferson do, and make all the same points about white people, and show just how ridiculous it is to paint "Black America" with one brush, and frame the problems that African Americans have as a result of personal choices.
Thank you Chris Hayes and Cord Jefferson for being an antidote to one of the grossest people on television.