CNN Blames Systemic Racism for Making Black Cops, Even Jesse Jackson Racist


Just how systemic is America’s racism? On Wednesday’s The Situation Room, CNN reporter Nia-Malika Henderson blamed growing up in America for causing people like black police officers and Reverend Jackson to feel racism toward their own racial group.

Her wacky analysis came as the group reacted to host Wolf Blitzer’s interview with Attorney General Bill Barr after Blitzer played a clip of Barr referring to the Jackson quote while denying there is “systemic racism” in America’s law enforcement system. CNN played a clip of Attorney General Barr from earlier in the show:

BILL BARR: I think there is some situations where statistics would suggest that they are treated differently, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily racism, you know, like, didn’t Jesse Jackson say that when he looks behind him and he sees a group of young black males walking behind him, he’s more scared than when he sees a group of white youths walking behind him? Does that make him a racist? Does that make him a racist?

When correspondent Dana Bash was given the first opportunity to respond to Barr’s comment, she was initially unable to find the Jackson quote, and pivoted to arguing that the Attorney General’s statement amounted to an admission that there is “systemic racism”:

DANA BASH: it really makes no sense because it completely flies in the face of every experience so many — not every — but experiences so many African Americans have had, whether it’s just getting pulled over — experiences that I don’t have, that you don’t have, Wolf, that Jeffrey (Toobin) doesn’t have — and it’s just a reality of what happens on the streets of cities and suburbs and everywhere in between in this country. It is just a different experience, and that is based in racial biases.

Henderson then jumped in to confirm that Jackson did make such a statement in the early 1990s, and then argued that America — which she claimed “is sort of invented around ideas around race and black people being lesser than white people” — caused Jackson and other African Americans, like black police officers, to grow up being taught to be racist against other blacks:

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: But it’s also true that racism is an idea, right? So anyone can have a racist idea, so if you’re Jesse Jackson — if you’ve grown up in America — which is sort of invented around ideas around race and black people being lesser than white people — then perhaps Jesse Jackson has sort of internalized those ideas about black people.

So, I mean, so it’s perfectly reasonable that some African American cops hold racist ideas about other black people, you know, other black men as more dangerous or whatever because that is what is so prevalent in American society — this idea that black people are more dangerous — that black people are less than white people — so, you know, that’s not a contradictory thing that he’s saying there in terms of what Jesse Jackson might have said and some of the beliefs that African American cops might have…

After Henderson’s analysis, Bash jumped back in to read Reverend Jackson’s quote from a speech he gave in 1993:

BASH: And, Wolf, can I just say Jesse Jackson did say in the early ’90s, “There’s nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and turn around to see someone white and feel relieved”? But, again, let’s just go back to what Nia said — it’s based on a lot of things that are very deep-seated.

This episode of CNN’s The Situation Room was sponsored by Heinz and Tommie Copper. Their contact information is linked.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, September 2, The Situation Room on CNN:

5:48 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: Dana, I want to play a clip of the exchange I had with the Attorney General, and he was explaining why he doesn’t believe there’s systemic racism in U.S. law enforcement. Listen to this.

BLITZER (earlier): Do you think black people are treated differently by law enforcement than white people?

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: I think there is some situations where statistics would suggest that they are treated differently, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily racism, you know, like, didn’t Jesse Jackson say that when he looks behind him and he sees a group of young black males walking behind him, he’s more scared than when he sees a group of white youths walking behind him? Does that make him a racist? Does that make him a racist?

BLITZER: All right, what did you think about that, Dana?

DANA BASH: Well, it’s funny — while he was saying that, I was googling to see if I could find that Jesse Jackson statement. Maybe he said it a long time ago — I couldn’t find it recently — it’s possible I could stand corrected on that. But more broadly and much more importantly, I defer and refer back to what Nia said, which is that, on the one hand, he admitted the reality that blacks tend to be treated differently by law enforcement, okay? But then, at the same time, he said it’s maybe because of stereotypes, not because of systemic racism.

Well, the stereotype is steeped in racist situations and racist biases. There’s no way to get around that, and by denying that, it really makes no sense because it completely flies in the face of every experience so many — not every — but experiences so many African Americans have had, whether it’s just getting pulled over — experiences that I don’t have, that you don’t have, Wolf, that Jeffrey (Toobin) doesn’t have — and it’s just a reality of what happens on the streets of cities and suburbs and everywhere in between in this country. It is just a different experience, and that is based in racial biases.

BLITZER: Nia, go ahead.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: I think the Jesse Jackson quote did happen — it was many years ago.

BASH: Okay.

HENDERSON: But it’s also true that racism is an idea, right? So anyone can have a racist idea, so if you’re Jesse Jackson — if you’ve grown up in America — which is sort of invented around ideas around race and black people being lesser than white people — then perhaps Jesse Jackson has sort of internalized those ideas about black people.

So, I mean, so it’s perfectly reasonable that some African American cops hold racist ideas about other black people, you know, other black men as more dangerous or whatever because that is what is so prevalent in American society — this idea that black people are more dangerous — that black people are less than white people — so, you know, that’s not a contradictory thing that he’s saying there in terms of what Jesse Jackson might have said and some of the beliefs that African American cops might have, but, my goodness, he is certainly trying to avoid what Black Lives Matter are trying to point to, which is the fact that black people are treated differently by cops than white people. The statistics show this in terms of them — black people being more likely to be shot by police officers than white Americans.

So, listen, this is part of what Republicans want to do — we heard this at the RNC — Nikki Haley saying America is not a racist country, although there are racist people in this country, so that’s essentially what he was trying to do there, I think. “There’s no systemic racism — maybe there are a couple of cops here and there who treat black people differently based on stereotypes.” Those stereotypes are obviously racist stereotypes, so he was all over the place, but, again, this is what Donald Trump’s message is about cops as well as about American law enforcement.

BASH: And, Wolf, can I just say Jesse Jackson did say in the early ’90s, “There’s nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and turn around to see someone white and feel relieved”? But, again, let’s just go back to what Nia said — it’s based on a lot of things that are very deep-seated.



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