It’s exhausting. I find myself sometimes trying to “check out” or “take a break” from all the social pressures that come with being a Person of Color. I accidently got pretty deep into the internet one night and I regret watching this PragerU video, where a man, Ami Horowitz, interviewed some people (by interviewed, I mean played snippets) who attended the White Privilege Conference this year. You should watch it first right here. (This year was the second year CRREW presented at WPC and it was a fabulous conference as always.)
Let’s start with, what is Prager University? First, it’s not a university, at all. Dennis Prager and Allen Estin founded the website, (which is little more than a conservative ad campaign) in 2011. Prager was a radio show host and a political commentator and Estin a screenwriter and radio producer. PragerU is a self-described conservative website to “explain and spread what we call ‘Americanism’”. The mission states that the videos are “conservative sound bites”. In case you were wondering, the definition of “sound bite” according to Google is: a short extract from a recorded interview, chosen for its pungency or appropriateness. Well, shoot. Go figure.
You should really go read the “What We Do” section of the website, but I’ll give you one more. Under “Vision”, it states, “PragerU is a resource for every American—and every person in the world who values liberty—for understanding and explaining the values we share.” Interestingly enough, “liberty” is defined as “the power to act as one pleases”. Hopefully you saw in the video and (hopefully you will see) in the rest of this blog how the people interviewed were asked strategic questions to get the answer for which Horowitz was aiming...therefore, probably not acting as they pleased, but instead being lead to say things that they didn’t know would be used against them.
Let’s talk about the video. Check out the chart below that shows the questions asked to white folks and those asked to Black folks.
He ends the video by asking a white woman “do you think we white people just need to shut up sometimes” and a clip of Hillary Clinton saying that white americans need to listen when African Americans talk.
Nice trick, sir. First, really smart to not ask the same questions to both groups of people. Secondly, I find it interesting that he interviewed white people from the conference, mostly educators and then went to the “Jackie Robinson Projects” to interview Black folks. The Jackie Robinson Houses are located in New York, New York. I’m not sure why he went all the way to New York to interview people, as WPC was held in St. Louis this year. He did a fabulous job cutting interviews to one or two words--sometimes a couple of sentences if we were lucky so they didn’t get to explain their answers.
It’s outrageous to me how many people watch these types of videos and take them as fact with no discernment of credibility. I guess that’s what happens when someone tells you what you want to hear.
This man absolutely exploited People of Color in this video; it’s an extremely aggressive form of white fragility. Sure, he’s participating in the race conversation, but he’s doing so in a way where he asks questions that’ll ensure that POC answers will align with his colorblind, white supremacist, agenda.