Every so often a media outlet gets itchy for attention so it breaks out a "list" that gets people talking, but quickly transforms into a farce after the first sniff of scrutiny. Which brings us to the good people at TheRoot.com -- a subsidiary outlet of the Washington Post and Newsweek -- who thought it would be edgy/fascinating to tell us who the 'blackest' white folks are in America.
Now, I don't exactly know what "blackest white folks" means. Do you have to watch BET and Tyler Perry movies to qualify? Doesn't this all sound racist at worst and stereotypical at best? Nothing good can come from these types of race-based lists, except snarky writers ripping you for having a dumb idea.
To prove my point, just pause for a second to think of what would have happened if The Root announced its "Whitest Black Folks" or "Straightest Gay People" in America. Exactly.
But let's look at the list. Maybe The Root was trying to start an honest, sincere conversation about what it means to be white or black in America -- and how different segments of the population are blending more and more.
And, if you think that, you would be giving The Root far too much credit. Nope -- I honestly believe they spent about 45 minutes throwing 33 random names on a board and then said, "Hey, sounds great. Let's post it on the site." Here's what The Root says in its intro to explain the exercise: "Race relations have gotten a little crazy lately. An all-white basketball league? Seriously?"
Well, actually, no. That was proven to be a fraud. There was never any league planned -- it was done as a publicity stunt by some racist crank. There was never any office, league, Web Site or phone number. A complete sham. So that's the opening line of the story. A non-story. Not a good start.
"Then there's Glenn Beck's black history lesson..." You have to be kidding. You're taking Glenn Beck's history lessons seriously? It continues... "The Root takes a look at those who
claim "blackness" and those that we think make the cut -- whether they like it or not." Ahhhh. So that's the criteria. It's somebody who has "claimed" blackness. Got it. Now let's look at a few of the African American white people who made the list.
-- Anderson Cooper (Did I miss that 360 episode where he claimed blackness? Damn.)
-- Glenn Beck (Are you talking about the white Mormon or is there another Glenn Beck?)
-- Ken Burns (Because he did a documentary on Jazz that lasted longer than the Cretaceous Period?)
-- Vice President Joe Biden (Because he was Obama's running mate?)
-- John Mayer (Didn't he say he couldn't bring himself to sleep with black women because his penis was like a white supremacist?
-- Robert Downey Jr. (Because he played one character in a movie?
-- Jeffrey Toobin (Because he wrote about O.J.?)
So you can see the list is beyond dubious, but it got me writing about it, didn't it? If you're interested in seeing the complete list of 33 blackest white people, here it is.