From Black Voices — Television’s most boring show, on television’s most boring station, got an unexpected injection of hot excitement, when a 90-year-old phoned in to C-SPAN‘s daily program, “Washington Journal,” to voice her opinion on race relations in these United States, and, in the process, blew. our. minds.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the three-hour climax that is Washington Journal, let me break it down for you: the program is a political call-in and interview show aired every day from 7–10 a.m.
Robb Harleston was so not ready for the sweet southern belle from Charleston who graced his phone line one dreary morning in DC. Harleston, a Washington politico, though, is no amateur. He has hosted the “Washington Journal” since 2006, so he is accustomed to his sh*tty set, cliche topics and the daily flood of random semi-literate callers who may or may not think President Barack Obama is a Kenyan socialist.
Harleston is the portrait of coolness and diplomacy as he handles callers with Donahue-like prowess. Daily, he manages to extract quasi-coherent policy positions from the nuts and the lonely. He effortlessly transitions from the Republican line to the Democratic line to the Independent line with the ease of a needle sewing in weave.
But on this day, he met his match.We, the viewers, all knew something had gone terribly wrong the moment we heard the caller’s voice. She began her call with:
“I just want to say to the colored man….”
Generally, when someone begins a conversation with the words, “I just want to say to the colored man” and you are said “colored man,” the prevailing theory is that things will not go well from there. Harleston, though, was the picture of professionalism as the caller went on to ask why the coloreds complained so much and weren’t more appreciative of the things white people had done for them. (I WAS JUST ASKING MY MOM THIS YESTERDAY!!! )
Specifically, she stated:
CALLER: I’m 90 years old and I just wanted to ask the colored man, why don’t colored people instead of saying what we did to them, why don’t they say what we did for them? They talk about the slavery but since then they have been given welfare, free medicine, free everything.
HARLESTON: Ma’am I think this is more of a conversation about the relationship between the administration and the people on Wall Street and not necessarily one that’s based on race.
CALLER: Oh, okay. I’m not a racist. That was my comment. Thank you.