Sparks flew on The View Thursday when co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell got into a shouting patch over the definition of racism — in particular, what is and is not considered racism.
Now, this is a fairly weighty issue; regardless how you define it, racism not dead — but the degree to which it’s alive as opposed to “harmless” ignorance or ingrained bigotry (and whether or not ingrained bigotry counts as racism; I’m of the opinion that it does) is a matter of discussion.
A discussion over the Obama’s reflections in this week’s PEOPLE magazine is what kicked off the argument, with Rosie Perez in disbelief that Whoopi Goldberg wouldn’t call someone racist if they mistook Obama for a valet driver.
Goldberg, however, stuck to her guns; she compared the president’s ordeal to an African-American being unnecessarily followed in a store, saying “Do I think it’s racist? No. I just think ‘you’re ignorant.’”
She told her co-hosts that “you need to know what real racism is,” before explaining her experiences. The banter continued, but Goldberg wouldn’t budge, telling the audience that:
I’ve been black for 60 years. For me, stupidity — there are dumb folks who just say dumb stuff because they’re not looking or paying attention to the person they’re talking to which is why people could walk up to Obama and not look up at him and see that it’s the president.
That was when O’Donnell entered the fray, saying that the United States was a racist country.
“You don’t have to be black to know what racism is,” O’Donnell said, adding that having a black child and living as a gay American are reasons why she understands racism and homophobia.
Goldberg wasn’t impressed, though, saying “Yes you do. It’s not the same thing,” describing O’Donnell as “a white lady telling me what is racist to you.”
You can watch the heated discussion below: