Here is a list of white people I was extremely disappointed to find out were (undercover) racists
OPINION: For the record, we know that all white people have the potential to be racist, but who knew Ben Stein, Scott Adams and Dolly Parton’s sister were going to out themselves this loudly?
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Racism is a part of daily life in America, whether it is as overt as people marching around in Klan uniforms or as subtle as someone making passive-aggressive negative comments about Black people in our presence.
As much as we want to give most white people the benefit of the doubt, there usually comes a time when even our faves (or their siblings) disappoint us by saying something so outlandishly racist it’s hard to ignore.
I had a recent experience on Facebook with a former co-worker who I always thought was just a nice older white lady. She showed up in the comments of one of my posts and completely showed her ass, and she doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on her ignorance even when she was called out by her fellow white people.
It was insane to watch, but it was a reminder that for a lot of white people, their instinctive racism and implicit bias are hiding there under their skin just like an itch waiting for the right scratch to set it off.
Sometimes, however, there isn’t anything to set it off; they are just racist, and maybe they have done a good job hiding up until now. Maybe senility kicks in and makes them forget about trying to hide it.
That’s what I am telling myself happened with Ben Stein.
Ben Stein is an author, a former speechwriter for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford; the valedictorian of his 1970 Yale Law School class; and according to his website, he is “a powerful speaker on economics, politics, education and history and motivation — and like his father, Herbert Stein, considered one of the great humorists on political economy and how life works in this nation.”
You may remember him as the droning economics teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” or you may remember his Comedy Central game show from the ’90s called “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” which he hosted with a young Jimmy Kimmel.
Ben has also been on “The Muppet Show,” and they don’t put just anyone on “The Muppet Show,” so imagine my surprise when a video of him lamenting Aunt Jemima being taken off the syrup bottle scrolled down my timeline on Twitter.
In the video, Stein is in his kitchen at home discussing how he sometimes makes breakfast for dinner. On this particular evening, his “brinner” is going to be pancakes, and he stands holding a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. I am going to assume this video was recorded prior to June 2021 when the Aunt Jemima name was rebranded to “Pearl Milling Company,” a move made when corporations decided to try and be more politically correct after the 2020 killing of George Floyd. Black people were like, “Please, stop killing us,” and corporations were like “Here. We’ll take these racist tropes off our products instead” — otherwise known as the most inactive actions of all.
Don’t even get me started on the Juneteenth holiday and all the Black squares as “signs of solidarity” we saw on social media. Where are those companies now? Bueller? Bueller?
Anyway, in his video, the bottle of syrup Stein is holding still says “Aunt Jemima,” but the eponymous mammy is missing from the logo.
“Now, this used to show a large African-American woman chef,” Stein says as he holds the bottle in his hands. “Because of the inherent racism of America’s corporate culture, they decided to make it a white person — or maybe no person at all.”
“But I prefer it when it is a Black person showing their incredible skill at making pancakes,” Stein adds.
Yes, y’all. He said that. As someone said to me on Twitter, it is a racist and backhanded compliment. The mammy trope was comforting to Stein because he knows those “negroes” really know how to cook.
I could have gone my whole life without knowing this about him.
And lest you think this was an isolated incident, please check out this other video another user shared with me after I commented on the first one:
In this second video, Stein is lamenting all the increase in crime in the city of Beverly Hills, which he blames on Black people not being punished for their crimes.
“I am talking to you right now on the three days after Christmas in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel — one of the most beautiful hotels as far as I’m aware,” Stein slurs. I can’t tell if he’s drunk or if maybe he has dentures that are out of place, but either way, he’s slurring throughout the entire video.
“I want to talk about crime,” Stein continues. “When I moved here in 1976, this was a very safe city, and Beverly Hills was one of the safest places in that city. In fact, I think for a large city, it was probably the safest city in the United States of America. And that’s changed dramatically, and here’s what’s going on. For some reason — which would take a lot of explaining, but it could be explained — the government decides to basically stop punishing Black people who commit crimes, and Black people can commit crimes and not be prosecuted for it.
“Yes, they’re embarrassed — at least to a small extent, and yes, their parents are mad at them, but they do not get away with anything less than murder. And this is a shocking thing. It’s a very bad thing. So we have gone from a city where people are very happy and they go around with their doors unlocked to fear, and we have become a city of fear, and that is an extremely bad place to be.”
At the end of his racist soliloquy, Stein nods and smiles into the camera, obviously very pleased with both himself and his explanation for why crime has increased in the city of Beverly Hills.
Someone more skilled than me (like Michael Harriot perhaps) could pick apart Stein’s argument and point out all the fallacies in it, but suffice it to say that it’s not just Black people committing crimes, and to lay the burden of the increase in crime in a rich white city at Black people’s feet is racist as hell.
I don’t know what happened to Ben Stein. Maybe he has been like this the whole time and we were just all unaware.
Openly admitting you miss the mammy on the syrup bottle and recording said reminiscence for all the world to see is definitely a choice.
I imagine that everyone in the world loves Dolly Parton. I believe there is a universal agreement that she is just a down-to-earth and genuinely good person. When you see her in interviews, she is always so joyful and loving. Her kind spirit can be felt even when you are watching her on television.
Billboard put together this handy timeline of all her good deeds last summer, and it’s obvious she puts her money where her mouth is and uses her good fortune and influence to make the world a better place.
Too bad all that good didn’t pass over to her sister, Stella Parton.
Last month, Stella trended for a number of anti-Black rants she posted to Twitter, in which she also claimed to have been the victim of “reverse discrimination.”
Let me pause for a minute and speak directly to the white people reading this.
Are you reading this, white people? You are? OK.
If you ever claim “reverse discrimination” or “reverse racism,” what you are actually saying is that you believe discrimination and racism are things that should only impact non-white people. You wholly believe that these things should only happen to the “coloreds.” If you didn’t believe this, then you would just call it “racism” or “discrimination.”
But back to what I was saying…
As noted by the Daily Beast, Dolly’s younger sister has gone on rants about Tyre Nichols’ death, CRT and illegal immigration — all while claiming white people are the real victims in this country, not the people they have repeatedly and historically marginalized since the founding of this country.
Dolly is a white southerner, so it stands to reason that there may be some openly racist people in her family, but good grief. How do you come on Beyoncé’s internet and openly admit that you are the secret racist in Dolly Parton’s family? How are you out here making your kind-hearted big sis look this damn bad?
For her part, Stella has made claims that her account has been hacked, but as also noted by the Daily Beast, she hasn’t specifically said which tweets were sent out by the hacker, and she hasn’t deleted anyone, so I’m going to assume the call is coming from inside the BIG HOUSE.
Poor Dolly. I know she has got to be embarrassed. Don’t worry, sweetie. We all have embarrassing people in our families. It’s not your fault your sister is a bigoted idiot.
Finally, there is Scott Adams.
If you don’t know who he is, you have probably seen his snoozefest of a comic strip, “Dilbert,” in your local newspaper.
Well, you may have seen it previously, but after Adams went on a racist rant on his YouTube show — during which he called Black people a “hate group” — the human yawn and his boring-ass comic strip that was like what “The Office” would be if it was dull, centered white people and was drawn with a pencil were dropped from most major newspapers.
This is one of the few times I have seen legacy media outlets openly express disdain for a racist.
“Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people,” Adams said in the video.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and USA Today (among others) all announced they would be cutting ties with Adams, who immediately turned the page in the white racist playbook and went into victim mode, claiming he was the target of “cancel culture.”
Apartheid Clyde, aka Elon Musk, defended Adams on Twitter (because of course he did), claiming that while the media previously “was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites & Asians.”
I really wish white people who make this claim could at least understand the difference between racism and bigotry. Everyone has the potential to be a bigot — even Black people, but racism is a power construct, and the only people with the level of power in this country that can be used to alter or otherwise impact the lives of marginalized people are white people. This is an important distinction to make.
Furthermore, crying about cancel culture when you are a rich white man being held accountable for your actions has become so trite. Please find another way to cry about facing the consequences of your actions.
There is something to be said about all these famous white people using their large platforms to spew harmful rhetoric about marginalized communities in this country — most especially Black people.
Racism in this country isn’t going away any time soon, and with the way things are going in this country, there will surely be more white people who will out themselves as being overtly bigoted and racist.
Please don’t let it be any of our “faves.”
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!