LISTEN: Why Does the Media Have So Much Trouble Covering Racists?

By Kenrya Rankin Mar 05, 2018

As White supremacists, emboldened by a president who thinks they are “very fine people,” continue to remove their hoods and hop into the news cycle, media experts are asking how outlets can responsibly cover racists without expanding their platforms of hate.

Face the Racist Nation,” a radio episode posted today (March 5) via a partnership between The Guardian U.S. and WNYC’s On the Media brings together historians and seven reporters who have covered the movement in the last year to explore the mistakes media outlets make and the incorrect assumptions that underpin them.

From an article published alongside the audio:

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” said the assumption that racism grows out of ignorance is an old trope—and a false one.

“The reality is actually quite the opposite. Those who are producing racist ideas were doing so to justify existing policies that typically benefited them,” Kendi said.

But blaming racism on ignorance has continued to be a popular move—even for some anti-racist activists.

“When you make it about ignorance, you’re also making it about individual people and you’re not making it about power and policy and structures and systems. That the problem centrally is not America’s institutions. It’s not the American story,” he said. “It allows people to deny how fundamental racism has historically been to America.”

Listen to the full conversation below.