During a discussion of race relations in America on Friday’s Real Time With Bill Maher, the host to suggested that:
“White America needs to stop putting forth the toxic idea that racism is over.”
Maher began the discussion by bringing up the recent high-profile cases in the NFL in which allegations of child abuse and domestic violence have surfaced. He suggested that since the players are predominately black, and the few who are implicated are in these cases are black, these stories feed into the false stereotype that most black men are inherently violent.
Panelist Wendell Pierce, the star of Showtime’s Ray Donovan, added:
“The image of the violent black man has been perpetuated for a long time. It’s not a black thing; white people beat their kids, too.”
Pierce went on to note that the much of the black community has a perspective that is born from a long history of being violently oppressed and “put in their place” by “entitled” whites.
Pierce also pointed out that, while he does not believe that all corporal punishment rises to the level of child abuse, psychological studies have shown that the children of parents who use corporal punishment end up using corporal punishment on their own children — which perpetuates a never-ending cycle of physical punishment and/or abuse.
Specifically addressing the NFL, Pierce astutely reminded the audience:
“When it comes to the NFL, you have black men who have taken advantage of this opportunity to go there, so for every one, two or three that may have been in the news because of violence there are another 2,000 that deport themselves as gentlemen, as husbands, as fathers and as great professionals.”
The panel was in agreement that the fact that black parents feel that it is necessary to beat their children in the hopes that they will learn submission — and avoid receiving the beating at the hands of outside authority figures like police — is a sad commentary on our society.
Much like LeVar Burton once explained, Pierce also described the heartbreaking ritual he goes through every time he’s pulled over by the police:
“The fact is while we have this very comfortable debate about it, when the lights go out, and I go out on the street, and I get behind the wheel of my car, the most dangerous moment I ever have in my life is when the police officer pulls me over.”
Watch the entire segment in the video below from HBO.