Getting to Yes, And

Why Does Everything Have to be About Race?


Keith Boykin

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Kelly connects with Keith Boykin, a New York Times bestselling author, TV and Film producer, and former CNN political commentator. Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition and taught at Columbia University. He is the author of seven books and his most recent is called “Why Does Everything Have to be About Race? 25 Arguments That Won’t Go Away.”

I had planned a whole other way to start this conversation, but Nikki Haley just said that America was never a racist country.

“It's just such a patently false, obviously stupid comment that can't be ignored because it comes on the heels of another patently false, obviously stupid remark she made just last month where she was asked about slavery being the cause of the Civil War and acted as though that were a hard question. Nikki Haley should know better. She was a Governor of South Carolina, the first State to secede from the Union. She was there when the flag, the Confederate flag, was taken down from State capital. You would think that she, of all people, would be in a position to know what's right and what's wrong about issues of race.”

There's a stunning line in the book, “No Democratic candidate for President has won the white vote since 1964. Not Jimmy Carter, not Bill Clinton, not Barack Obama in either of his two Presidential elections.”

"I graduated from college in 1987, and nothing has changed since the time I worked for Bill Clinton and his 2 Presidential elections: he lost the white vote, even though he was a white Southerner, you know, who was one of the good old boys, but he still lost the white vote. And of course, Barack Obama, despite all the claims that he's somehow reparations for hundreds of years of slavery and segregation - White people didn't even vote for him. The majority of white people voted against him in both of his elections.”

There was a senior leader I worked with, a white guy of course, who said, “I don’t see color.”

“Yeah, I don't even know where to begin with that, because there's so many different levels and layers. But you know I just came back from Atlanta yesterday, I was there for the King Day weekend, and I went to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached and to King's Tomb at the King Center, and it was a reminder to me that Dr. King was a person who believed in social justice and what he didn't believe in was this myth that people try to create: that he just wanted everybody to be color blind and never to see color. You know that one line they always quote that he wanted people to judge by the content of the character, not the color of their skin, completely misunderstands the rest of his of his life's history and work. But the other part about it is that we all see color. Dr. King saw color. He spoke about being black, and said, that black is beautiful. He went to Morehouse College. Everyone sees color. Even people who are technically color blind can distinguish physical traits that differentiate people based on their race or color. So, from a perfectly technical point of view, everyone does, and it's ridiculous to say you don't.”

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