When You Agree to Discuss Racism on the Radio with a Black Conservative

2 min read

When I was on the radio last week –

Oh wait, I should back up…I was on the radio last week!

A radio producer contacted me with an invitation to come on the Jesse Lee Peterson show to discuss my recent post I am Sick of Having Conversations About Race with Brick Walls.

Me?

My blog?

To think, I almost didn’t write that post. However, as part of pushing through my writer’s block, I’ve realized I’ve got to stop self-censoring so much. It’s damaging to the story and to my contentedness.

I didn’t say yes immediately. I needed to confirm the legitimacy of the show and find out more about what I’d be getting into. In my research, I discovered that one of the show’s previous guests is a writer and activist I follow on Twitter, Feminista Jones, whom I respect. I figured if she did it, it was credible. I listened to a podcast of her stint on the show and got a good idea for what I might be in for with Jesse.

The producer explained that the host, Jesse, would ask me a bit about my background and then delve into questions about the thoughts expressed in my post.

Seemed doable.

I scheduled my radio début for 8:05am, April 2nd.

The morning of the show, I felt like my heart wouldn’t shut up. Boom, booom, boom at a thousand beats per minute. I forced oatmeal down my throat. It’s good for your brain, they say. I wanted all the brain boosting I could get. Family and friends sent texts of well wishes and affirmations which comforted me. Conducting the interview from the comfort of my couch helped too.

Jesse Lee Patterson is a pastor, baby boomer, and black Republican. He’s known for making controversial statements like:

“Thank God for slavery, because if not, the blacks who are here would have been stuck in Africa”1

“When black liberals say they want to have a ‘conversation’ about race, what they really mean is they want to continue blaming whitey for past racism and perceived ‘white privilege”2

“Barack Obama hates white people — especially white men. Sorry folks, but the truth will set you free!”3

Yeah.

So, I had my work cut out  for me.

I remember only snapshots of the experience. I enjoyed the debate. I get a kick out of genuine volleying back-and-forth that doesn’t devolve into name-calling or other foolishness. Jesse did his best to contort some of my statements and paint me into corners, but I think I successfully manage to keep the conversation focused. I agreed with none of his opinions.

Halfway through the show, one of my sisters texted:

“I hate this guy.”

That was around the time Jesse asked me, “What else can white people do for black people, so that black people will finally say: ‘ok you’re not racist, you love me, you’ve given us allllll that we’ve wanted, and we appreciate it, so now we’re going to take control of our own lives’? Is there anything else that white people can do to satisfy black people?”

The discussion lasted for almost the entire hour, broken up by a few commercials. I even got to speak to some callers. One caller tried to trap me by quizzing me on the date of some vague historical event.

My mom texted: “Excuse yourself. You don’t need to be ambushed.”

Of my name, another called commented, “Huh, that’s a good one.” I’m fairly certain that wasn’t meant as a compliment. I could hear him smirking.

As the show neared its end, Jesse thanked me and asked if I would come back. We’ll see. My mom and sister are both adamant that this be a one and done.

Jesse’s approach didn’t faze me. I’ve seen enough talking head interviews and debates to have picked up a few things. Your opponent will always try to distract you with non sequiters. They will attempt to take your words and twist them into a statement so ludicrous you wonder whether your brain sent the right words to your mouth. No distractions. You just gotta stay focused on your mission!

“He’s gonna make me lose my way to Heaven; I’m so angry I’m almost cursing!” My mother didn’t like Jesse Lee Peterson one bit.

You can listen to the show below. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

1 Salon

2 Raw Story

Crooks & Liars

19 Comments
  • elizainhollywood
    June 2, 2015

    I am so impressed with how you handled that idiot and kept a calm composure. Just listening to him had me shaking from anger and disbelief.

  • Karen B. Jones
    April 24, 2015

    Wow. Right off the bat he just casually equates religious vs. secular as good vs. evil? Wow. Just wow.

    Then on to radical feminists who hate men and radical homosexuals… Again wow. And FOX News is fair and balanced? Really?

    Loud, irritating public behavior is something only black teens do? Um, has he ever actually met any white teenagers?

    Are you a Christian? Really? How is that relevant? Where did your parents go WRONG to make you abandon Christianity?!? Really? Gah! And college turned you into an evil, godless person, apparently. *headdesk* As a college-educated Atheist myself, I just want to figuratively smack the guy upside the head on your behalf.

    He actually thinks that racism disappeared 60 years ago? Seriously?!? So, today’s racism is all in liberals’ heads. Not actually a real thing?

    I think you responded very sensibly and calmly throughout this whole interview. You did a very good job. You are an awesome person. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. I’d be happy to have you living next door to me. 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 27, 2015

      Then on to radical feminists who hate men and radical homosexuals… Again wow. And FOX News is fair and balanced? Really?

      Yep! It’s absurd and that’s partially why his words didn’t rankle me. How upset can you get when someone says something that seems so ridiculous?

      Thank you for listening and giving your feedback. I appreciate your kind words!

  • Jarret Ruminski
    April 12, 2015

    Well done and kudos to you for even attempting to have a conversation with a guy who thinks secular people are “evil.” A bizarre commitment to dualistic thinking and fear-based reactions are both hallmarks of conservative ideology, and trying to poke through their bubble takes fortitude.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 13, 2015

      Thanks, Jarret. I didn’t and don’t expect to sway JLP from his beliefs, but maybe I reached at least one listener and gave them something to ponder.

  • Kenya G. Johnson
    April 10, 2015

    Of course she didn’t like him. I wasn’t feeling him either on the quotes alone. I’m going to listen to the interview later, AFTER I have a glass of wine. Then I might need another. Anyway though congratulations! I admire you for going into battle.

  • Mrs. AOK
    April 10, 2015

    There were SO MANY things that offended me during your interview with Peterson.
    For starters his emphasis on the word “black” when introducing your blog to his listeners, it felt as if he was implying it was dirty or beneath him.
    His bringing up “radical feminist” and “radical homosexuals” into the discussion and the word “normal” as if feminist, homosexuals and “radical or liberal” blacks (I may be misquoting) are not normal. Excuse me?
    THEY. < <<<

    I began to knot myself listening to what sounded like hate. If you want to better "they", or your people that you no longer identify with, bringing "them" down is NOT the way. Building up is the way. All I heard was him tearing a whole race down with comments like: they are loud, they wear hoodies and baggy pants, they don't have fathers, they abort, and they want handouts. (I wrote a post on judgement Thursday he may want to read.)
    I truly questioned if this guy was for real, is this a put-on to attract listeners, could someone be this self-hating? Shock jock? Is satire his shtick?

    He asked about your father being in your life or raising you, umm… okay, that would have been okay in another context (I guess) but he wanted to hear the answer he didn't hear and use it against you. I wonder if he has children, I wonder if he teaches them to love themselves and OTHERS or THEY. I could keep going, you know I could, but I'll stop there.

    You did wonderfully, Keisha! 🙂
    XOXO

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 12, 2015

      My BFF commented that kept trying to make me fit his stereotypes, but I “passed” every one of them and foiled his plan. :p I also questioned how much of his behavior is an act. If it is an act, it takes a *special* kind of person to willingly promote negative messages about an entire “race” of people. Unfortunately, having met seemingly self-hating POC in the past, I know it’s entirely possible that he’s genuine.

      Thanks, A!

  • anita
    April 8, 2015

    This was a very interesting read. I had an interesting debate with my friends on the topic and I love the way you handled yourself!

  • Rachel - Belle of the Rust Belt
    April 7, 2015

    I have to take this piece by piece. Oh man. (On the note of your mom and sister, I would say the only reason to do this again would be with the hope that maybe, just maybe, one or two of his regular listeners will actually HEAR you.)
    “the race and gender issue, who is to blame for that?” – Wait, why is gender wrapped up in race? Hold the phone. And THEN he makes the connection between how people who are gay are “imposing” their views on people with different beliefs (irony?), and the “radical feminist women who hate men”….again. What? Wait, are we talking about race, or just everything you hate about “radical” liberal ideas?
    You answered him superbly. Well, you answered him with simple logic, so I hope some of it got through 🙂
    And I absolutely love your response to his Fox News question. You’re exactly right — every news network has problems and a lack of consistency and a lack of actual balance. Thank you for pointing that out, and I hope someone heard it. “I don’t think that’s why we’re here.” – you’re so good on your feet.
    And THEN. OHHH this got me. Lord have mercy. Paraphrased – “Did white Americans create a negative impression of black Americans, or just expose what black Americans had already created?” Again, you pointed out the obvious – the (white-created) laws once literally ascribed a less-than-human status to black people (3/5, to be exact). So do with that information what you will, but let’s all be honest with ourselves — there are still many, many people alive today who experienced the Jim Crow laws, and I just don’t understand why people think that’s a long-dead aspect of our past. Most baby boomers remember what it was like, and they are far from being gone.
    I should probably stop commenting and just finish listening to the show, otherwise I’ll write a couple of essays in this process 🙂
    Kudos to how you handled those statements and questions. I wish I could think on my feet as quickly as you did.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 7, 2015

      I wasn’t sure where the radical gays and feminists line came from. I think he just wanted to inject those elements into the conversation, apropos of nothing.

      We’re such a hyper-partisan nation these days; the minute you criticize Fox News or MSNBC, it’s assumed you must be of the “enemy” party. I would prefer my news not be slanted in a particular party’s favor, thankyouverymuch. If I need my opinions swayed, I can read an editorial.

      Thanks for a great comment and your kind words, Rachel!

  • mojoshawn
    April 6, 2015

    I listened to the whole interview and would like to make a few comments. First of all, and I truly mean this, you are my freakin’ hero. You tore him and the callers a new one on every point. The more I listened the lower I turned down the NCAA game volume and the louder the interview volume was turned up. Secondly, I completely agree with your sister on this one. In my opinion, he is a racist tool. His repetition of “given by white people”, “most blacks are racist”, and the “you people” comment…I’m dumbfounded. You handled those statements like a rock star, especially the “you people” reference. I guarantee he spoke to his producer after the segment with something like, “What the hell did you get me into?! She made me look like a moron, which we know I am but I don’t like admitting it.” It may have been slightly different, but I bet not much. You should be the one with the regular show. I also didn’t like the way the caller said, “Huh, that’s a good one.” about your name. He has no taste. It’s quite a beautiful name, so up his. I bet all the women in his family have names like Jane, Janey, Janey Ann, Anny Jane..you get the point. I know his name was Dick, or at least that’s what everyone refers to him as. Wow…I could go on and one because this is one of the best WP posts I have ever come across. I’m the standard, boring, white guy. I don’t ever profess to know about racism because I haven’t experience it. I do know a jack-ass when I hear one and Jesse Lee Peterson is 100% pure through and through. Magaret Cho once said in a routine(I’m paraphrasing), “Why hate someone for the color of their skin, when you could get to know them and hate them for that.” Your are an intelligent, extremely articulate, and just all around great PERSON. My hero, Keisha!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 7, 2015

      Shawn, thank for the generous compliment! It’s nice to know I can offer some competition to the NCAA tourney. 😉

      I’ve encountered a handful of black people (and other POC) who share viewpoints similar to Jesse’s. I tend to think it comes from internalized self-hate. The type I’ve known did/do their best to appear to be the “best” black person ever, meaning: do things that are respected by the white mainstream. Jesse’s comment about “all black people being loud” and “racist” to me seemed an appeal for white support. “Hey, you can like me; I’m a non-threatening black guy. I am not loud. I don’t wear saggy jeans. I won’t call you out on any racist behavior. Not like those other ones.” I find it sad, though I understand the forces behind it.

      Really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing!

      • mojoshawn
        April 7, 2015

        I also found it sad, Keisha. I agree his comments seemed catered to white mainstream, and the callers I feel support your idea. Again, you responded to his, well what I would call insults, with great restraint and wonderful answers. Cheers!

  • Marie
    April 6, 2015

    I love you, your sister and your mother! #nowlistening

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