by Stacey Fearheiley
I’m not Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert or John Oliver….obviously. I bring this up for a reason.
POPeration! came about because of a desire to entertain people…especially Eric and myself. To talk about stupid stuff that is popular and makes us laugh. For me, entertainment should be first and foremost ENTERTAINING. If I learn something, great…but I better be entertained. So, when POPeration! calls itself entertainment…it better be just that. But sometimes…with certain subject matters…that’s hard.
This is the part where who I am NOT comes in. The grace, class and dignity that the aforementioned entertainers continue during their shows (for Stewart, when he had one) cannot be matched by me. They are able to go beyond the immediate headlines, no matter how disgusting, depressing or grave, and find hope and most times at least a kernel of amusement.
This week’s POPeration! episode about “hot button topics” included the topic of race. It was taped a couple of weeks ago. Before Charlottesville. Before the U.S. President sat quiet, then read a statement he didn’t write, then went back and basically condoned not only those actions taken by, but the organizations themselves, representing white nationalists…Nazis. I’m not sure we could’ve talked about the subject with as much levity if we were taping now.
Race in America is a thing. It is a HUGE thing. The movies and television shows we discussed (Get Out, Dear White People) tell us that, while it MIGHT be getting better, we still have a VERY long way to go. And, frankly, it’s on the white folks to push the effort a long. Because it is we and our legacy that are the heavy anchor dragging on its speed.
I will not go into a long lecture here. There are plenty of people more eloquent than I who are out there doing it. But I will say this: popular culture aspects aside, this needs to be fixed. The fact that in the last several years there have been movies and tv shows depicting race as being the central theme to their stories should tell us what we need to know, as white people. 1. Racism is still here. 2. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and 3. It’s past time to fix it. We should be mortified that we haven’t fixed it yet.
Not convinced? I dare you to watch these: Moonlight, Get Out, Dear White People (Netflix), 12 Years a Slave, Birth of a Nation (2016), Do the Right Thing, In the Heat of the Night, Hidden Figures, Mississippi Burning, The Butler, Selma, Glory, The Color Purple, Amistad, The Help, blackish, Key & Peele, and even Blazing Saddles.
These are only a small portion of what is out there. If you’ve seen them before, watch them agaim. Challenge: if you are white, watch them as the black people depicted in them. What do you come away with then? These pieces of art and pop culture are also a mirror to our society…where we come from and where we still are. These are the artifacts that future generations will judge us by. That in the 21st century the same problems are being “debated” that began centuries before is shameful.
Eric and I are not shy about letting people know where we stand on certain topics. So we understand if some listeners stop listening because of our opinions. We love pop culture. Love pontificating about it. But we also love our country and to ignore what is happening with silence is part of the problem. My hope is that POPeration! continues to be entertaining…but I want us to be valid as well.
My last word on racism in the country is this…it is NOT an opinion. It is a fact. And it is a fact that needs to be changed. And it is a fact that until all citizens, no matter what race, are safe and treated equally, within the law and practically, we will not be able to make American great again.