Remember a couple of months ago when there was all that hoopla over BET’s decision to air “A Hot Ghetto Mess” turned “We’ve Got to do Better?” I do. I remember distinctly saying that shows like that are going to add to the negative image of Black people and that white folks in suburbia are going to think that all Blacks act like that.
Enter Bill O’Reilly.
It’s been reported that during the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O’Reilly reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O’Reilly asserted: "There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’ You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all." O’Reilly also stated: "I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They’re getting away from the Sharptons and the [Rev. Jesse] Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They’re just trying to figure it out. ‘Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it."
What O’Reilly said, as racist as it sounds, is just more proof that white folks still look at Blacks as being beneath them, so much so, that it’s remarkable if we can even go to a restaurant and order food with out cursing someone out.
While I don’t like what O’Reilly said, and I think that he’s being his typical white conservative privileged condescending male self, I can’t help but think about some of the things that we do that reinforce those types of stereotypes about Blacks. How many times have you been out and heard us referring to us as niggas, bitches and hos? And are you guilty of coming out of the house dressed in pajamas or boxer shorts wearing those ghetto as corduroy house shoes from the swapmeet? Maybe you don’t come out of the house in pajamas but you do come out in hair rollers and dorags. Do you beat or threaten to beat your children in public places? What about your man or woman? And let’s not forget the kings and queens of the parking lot that wake up and get dressed just to stand on the corner. Or maybe you’re guilty of a having a limited vocabulary which forces you to use those four and five letter words in every sentence you speak.
My point with all of that is to say that, there’s a reason why O’Reilly and people like him assume the things that they do about Blacks. And while I’m not saying we need to be more cognizant of our behavior for the benefit of old racist white cronies, I am saying that television shows like “We’ve Got to do Better” don’t help our cause. Nor does that fact, that when we act a certain way in the public, whether it’s the hood or on Wall Street, and whether we admit it or not, we carry with us the reputation and image of Black people everywhere. It may not be fair, but it’s worth considering the next time you open your mouth to cuss someone out in public or you decided to let your son or daughter roll up out the house with their pants so low that you can see their underwear. Just a thought…