TheGrio Daily

Frequently Asked White Questions: Why Are You So Obsessed With Race?

Episode 103

“The next time you ask me why Black people or me in particular are so obsessed with race, the answer is, I’ll stop when y’all stop.” theGrio Daily continues a series of episodes that answer listener’s frequently asked questions. Michael Harriot starts with addressing the amount of attention and focus that’s put on racial labels in American society.


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Here on theGrio Daily. We get a lot of questions, comments, dims, and you know, sometimes we’ll answer some of them, sometimes we won’t. But oftentimes the ones we don’t answer are the ones we get the most. So today we’re going to start a series that answers some of your most frequently asked questions. So I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that will tell you why we are so obsessed with race. This is a question I get a lot. In the emails, why, you know, I always got to talk about race? Why are Black people so obsessed with race? Why we make everything about race? And the answer to that question is fairly simple, I think. And it is. We want to know the same thing. I mean, seriously, like, why are white people or Americans so obsessed with race? Because, like, we aren’t really obsessed with race. Our reaction is what you call the obsession, right? Our reaction is a reaction to how this country has historically, currently, and probably in the future treats Black people. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:37] So to understand why we we are obsessed with race. You have to understand a couple of things, right? First, we want to know why white people are so afraid of race. Like you created it. Like we didn’t create this whole thing. But now you all think it’s divisive. You all call it, you know, a thing that separates people. And we are really just talking about issues that we see. Here’s a great example, right? So when we are talking about politics will often bring up, you know, the Black vote, the Hispanic vote. We’ll often talk about, you know, nuance, political issues. But if we bring up the subject of the white vote, all of a sudden we are obsessed with race. And even the people say that we’re obsessed with race or bringing up race. We talk about, you know, how Black people vote. They don’t understand like, so if we’re talking about that, we want to know why white people continuously over the past half century have voted for one party, and they’re the only ones like. So when you think about the political issues or political subjects, I think it’s because everybody mostly agrees on them. Right. Hispanics, Asians and Black people overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party. Now, that doesn’t mean that we believe the Democrats are for Black people. It means that a lot of times we’re voting against the Republican Party. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:22] And you have to ask yourself instead of asking like, why do Hispanics do the thing that the Black people do that the Asian people always do? We wonder, why do white people always vote Republican? Because like you, the only constituency see that the Republican has. There’s a couple of Black people who vote for the Republican Party, but it mostly fluctuates for the past 50 years between like 13% and like 4%, depending on who we all run, like how racist the person is. They can’t be racist. But, you know, depending on how racist the individual candidate is. Instead of wondering, like, why Black people do that thing and why Hispanic people do the same thing and why Asian people do the same thing, why Muslim people do the same thing, why non-Christians do the same thing. Have you ever wondered why white people, a majority of white people continue to vote for the Republican Party? I don’t know. Maybe you’re obsessed with race or like for instance, when we watch a sporting event and, you know, say, the Super Bowl, there is a Super Bowl, for instance, and everybody was bringing up the fact that there are two Black quarterbacks or we’re talking about Black coaches. Have you ever wondered why white people don’t talk about the fact that, like all of the players on the field, are the same color? And except for the quarterback, like for years, the NFL has been like no other position in the NFL is majority white except kickers and quarterbacks. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:06] Now we understand that kickers, a lot of them come from other countries where they play soccer. A lot of people phase into football from soccer. So it’s understandable that a lot of kickers are white. But why are all the quarterbacks white? Why is the team leader always white? We know people can throw. We know Black people can run. We know Black people know the game of football. Have you ever wondered why all the quarterbacks are white and the coaches? Right. Like if you play a game that is between 70 and 80% Black, depending on the year and you get what is essentially a CEO of that team. And you choose from among the people with the most experience at that game. How is it that the coaches, the CEO of a team seems to be always white? I wonder why that is. Why are the NFL owners so obsessed with race? Oh, when we bring up like the Grammys and Black people talk about Beyonce saying, let’s talk about Taylor Swift being white or Harry Styles being white or whoever. If white people assume the White House is the one in white people still listen to Kenny G. Well, anyway, when we bring up that fact that the Oscars, the Academy Awards, the Emmys always seem to go to white people and they say that that’s being divisive by injecting race into art or television or movies or music. What we’re wondering is why do white people always make the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys, the Grammys about race? Because they know like white people ain’t selling the most music, white people didn’t create the music. Black people disproportionately watch TV and attend movies. So why are all the awards so white? 

Michael Harriot [00:07:09] It must be because the voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, or the recording industry or on Broadway, they must be obsessed with race and how white people so obsessed with race. I don’t know, man. I wish somebody would tell me. That’s a frequently Black question. Well, perhaps the answer is that somebody, not you, not the person who’s watching this, but somebody like a long, long, long, long, long, long time ago created this country. And they wrote a constitution that was based on race and then to participate in the Democracy, the effort to participate was Black people were excluded, Jewish people were excluded. Everybody. but white people were excluded. And then and then, like all of the heads of this country were white people, except for one guy. And white people ran the banks and owned the real estate and wrote the laws and control the education and all of those institutions, from state legislatures to the Fortune 500, to the judicial system, to the legislative system, to every position and institution in this country was controlled by white people. And those institutions that are controlled by white people disproportionately have inequalities that affect everybody except white people. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:53] So the next time you ask me why Black people or me in particular are so obsessed with race. I think the answer is. I’ll stop when y’all stop. Maybe I’ll stop when you subscribe to this podcast. When you tell a friend about it. Or maybe I’ll do it when you download that Grio app. Or maybe I’ll do it right after this saying that comes from Black America. And today’s saying is, “Everybody want to be Black, but nobody wants to be Black.” We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app. Subscribe to the show and to share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:05] I’m political scientist, author and professor Dr. Christina Greer, and I’m host of the Blackest Questions on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. This person invented ranch dressing around 1950. Who are they? 

Marc Lamont Hill [00:10:18] I have no idea. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:19] This all began as an exclusive Black history trivia party at my home in Harlem with family and friends. And they got so popular it seemed only right to share the fun with our Grio listeners. Each week we invite a familiar face on the podcast to play. What was the name of the person who was an enslaved chief cook for George Washington and later ran away to freedom? In 1868, this university was the first in the country to open a medical school that welcomes medical students of all races, genders and social classes. What university was?

Roy Wood, Jr [00:10:52] This is why I like doing stuff with you, because I leave educated. I was not taught this in Alabama Public Schools. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:59] Question three Are you ready? 

Eboni K. Williams [00:11:00] Yes. I’m here to redeem myself. 

Amanda Seales [00:11:02] How do we go from Kwanzaa to like these obscure. 

Dr, Christina Greer [00:11:07] Diaspora, darling. 

Amanda Seales [00:11:09] This is like the New York Times crossword from Monday to Saturday. 

Dr, Christina Greer [00:11:12] Right or wrong, because all we care about is the journey and having some fun while we do it. 

Kalen Allen [00:11:17] I’m excited. And also a little nervous. 

Dr, Christina Greer [00:11:20] No need to be nervous. And as I tell all of my guests, this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves because Black history is American history. So we’re going to have some fun. Listen, some people get zero out of five, some people get five out of five, but it doesn’t matter. We’re just going to be on a little intellectual journey together. 

Eboni K. Williams [00:11:36] Latoya Cantrell. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:38] That’s right. Mayor Latoya Cantrell. 

Michael Twitty [00:11:40] Hercules Posey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:42] Hmm. Born in 1754 and he was a member of the Mount Vernon slave community, widely admired for his culinary skills. 

Kalen Allen [00:11:48] I’m going to guess Afro Punk. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:50] Close. It’s AfroNation. According to my research, it’s Samuel Wilson a.k.a Falcon. 

Speaker 1 [00:12:00] Wrong. Wrong. I am disputing this. 

Latosha Brown [00:12:05] Very, very, very. Very 99.9999 sure that it is Representative John Lewis, who is also from the state of Alabama. That let you know, Christina, we got some good this come out of Alabama. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:17] There is something in the water in Alabama and you are absolutely correct. 

Diallo Riddle [00:12:19] The Harder They Come. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:23] Close. 

Diallo Riddle [00:12:23] Oh. Wait. The Harder They Fall? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:25] That’s right. I’m one of those people that just changes one word. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:12:29] I just don’t know nothing today. I’m going to pour myself a little water while you tell me the answer. 

Dr, Christina Greer [00:12:34] The answer is Seneca Village, which began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee of the A.M.E. Zion Church. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:12:41] You know why games like this make me nervous? I don’t know if I know enough Black. Do I know enough? How Black am I? Oh, my Lord. We going to find out in public. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:49] So give us a follow. Subscribe and join us on the Blackest Questions.