Kareem Abdul-Jabbar praises Bravo for aiding in the elimination of racism?

Photo credit: @kaj33 via Instagram
Photo credit: @kaj33 via Instagram

Six-time NBA champion and league MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar praises Bravo TV, claiming that shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta” may be America’s best hope at ending racism. In an excerpt from a recent op-ed for Time magazine, Jabbar explored his sentiments:

“A lot of people look at Bravo TV’s lineup of table-flipping, backstabbing, wig-wearing, felon-making reality shows as a clear sign of the cultural apocalypse. If people are actually watching these shows, they warn, End Times are clearly upon us. I think it’s the opposite. The unrelenting pettiness of most cast members stewed with raw chunks of desperation for fame at the cost of personal dignity may seem unappetizing at first. But the harsh truths about our society that simmer beneath the frothy surface provide a tasty and hearty diet of insight and inspiration. That’s why Bravo may be one of America’s best hopes for the elimination of racism.”

Yes, we read that last sentence a second time, too…

He continued., ” Here’s what I mean: America has two kinds of racism—institutional and cultural. Institutional racism has been welded to the infrastructure of our society in our basic institutions of law enforcement, the judiciary, education, and politics. The rules of the game and the people who interpret and enforce those rules have perpetuated an uneven playing field regarding opportunities for people of color. That’s a fact supported by pretty much every recent study as well as daily news stories. The only way to get rid of institutional racism is through legislation. Each rule, law, provision, and hallowed tradition that undermines the constitutional mandate for equality must be legislated out of existence. That’s the political arena, and we have many dedicated patriots of all colors fighting every single day to make sure that happens.”

He goes on to state how cultural racism will be trickier to fight with, “We can’t legislate biased attitudes, corrupt upbringing, unsound reasoning, or self-destructive behavior. These personal flaws are guaranteed by the Constitution, as long as one doesn’t act on these flaws to the detriment of others. This kind of racism is insidious in that it subliminally suggests the inferiority of one group while not stating it overtly. We get enough of these subliminal messages, and it aligns our prejudices accordingly. It’s how magicians manipulate audience members to do or say what they want them to, as demonstrated in the movies Now You See Me and Will Smith’s Focus.”

He continued…

“Cultural racism is the thinking that one group’s historical perspective should be maintained despite the damage it does to others, because those “others” are not as important. This perspective is justified by stereotyping blacks through images, words, and selective news reporting. The use of the word “thugs” to describe black protestors during the Baltimore protests a few months ago underscores cultural racism as perpetuated by some of the news media. If it had been a campus protest at UC Berkley of mostly white students causing the same damage, the word thug would never had appeared. The popular image of the absentee black father may also be a convenient myth: A 2013 study by the CDC concluded that African American fathers were more likely to bathe, dress, play and dine with their children than white or Latino fathers. But facts rarely have any impact on these prejudices because the practitioners receive their news from sources that enforce their irrational beliefs rather than challenge them.”

In summary, Jabbar says this is where Bravo comes in…

“Its lineup of reality shows seems to feature more black people than any other channel except BET. I once called Andy Cohen, Bravo’s former head of development and the current producer of the Real Housewives franchise, the “Andy Warhol” of the new millennium. But his willingness to feature more blacks and members of the LGTBQ community in numerous reality shows also makes him an influential civil rights proponent.”

What do you think of Abdul-Jabbar’s thoughts on Bravo TV? Do their reality shows aide in ending racism or reinforce all the negative stereotypes already prevalent in the Black and LGBT communities? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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