Behind the Scenes of the Glenn Beck Show: Black Conservatives

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I have waited a week, but I am now back to discuss my participation as an audience guest on the Glenn Beck Show, the show about Black conservatives. I gave a sneak peek previously, which you can read here.

I have received quite a bit of feedback about the show, most of it very positive. Having experienced it on Thursday, I was intrigued by what I saw when it aired on Friday. It was interesting to see how things looked after the editing.

Last week, I acknowledged that I had been frustrated while at the show, and I stated I was curious to see how they would pretty it up for airing. Why did I say that?

Well, even those who commented about enjoying the show stated that we appeared to be a lively bunch. That's the understatement of the year. Indeed, we were a raucous crowd. Glenn Beck even kindly scolded us.

Many have touched base with me via email, Twitter, and Facebook, asking for my overall impression. What was it like to be there? What was Glenn Beck like? What went on behind the scenes?

First, Glenn Beck told us before the taping began not to be shy. "Raise your hands so we can get the mic to you. If you want to say something, now's your time to be heard." I was just hoping I wouldn't lapse into shy and never open my mouth. No worries. The show had barely started when I wanted to say something. So did Maria of My Voice on the Wings of Change and Clifton of Another Black Conservative. Our hands went up, and up, and up, but the guy with the microphone didn't head in our direction. Sitting in the back might have had something to do with it, but it was, like I said, frustrating, especially when some of the same people were speaking over and over. A lot of that was edited out, so you really didn't get to see what I mean.

I found the story of Charles Payne of Fox News fascinating. What he shared is, in my opinion, a major part of what's plaguing the Black community. He shared how as a child growing up in Harlem he was picked on, called "sell-out," and made fun of because he spoke well, longed to be a businessman, and wanted a brief case. To those around him, this meant he wasn't Black enough. Again, this is a problem in our community. If one doesn't subscribe to a certain way of life, he or she is attacked for "trying to be White." When the guy next to me stated that Payne wasn't picked on because of the way he spoke, but was picked on because he was perceived as weak, the audience exploded. Charles responded rather passionately, saying he was not weak, and then actually yelled that unless Black people own up to our issues, we will never get beyond them. I totally agreed with him. My hand went up, however, because I agreed with both men. I agreed with Charles that he was considered a sell-out because of his manner of speaking and aspirations, and I agreed with my left-shoulder neighbor that Charles was perceived as weak. And I stress the word perceived. This perception was not any fault of his own, as I see it. He was perceived as weak in the Black community because many of our values are screwed up. He was perceived as weak because some of our young people are growing up believing that those who aspire to greatness in academics or business are selling out. He was perceived as weak because too many believe that using proper English or carrying a brief case means you've lost your Blackness. The bottom line is he was perceived as weak because the tool we use to measure weakness and strength is broken.

I never got to say that.

I was disappointed that we spent about 15 minutes (much edited out) discussing whether or not we should be called Black or African-American. After 5 minutes, I thought, "Look, if what we call ourselves is our biggest challenge, we're doing pretty good." The truth is we have bigger fish to fry. My perspective was simple: once we figure out what to call ourselves, can we move on to the business of what to do with ourselves? We are a people of unlimited potential, and we descend from ancestors who displayed incredible faith, perseverance, and work ethic. Let's understand that we must continue in those same qualities. Let's understand that liberalism undermines those qualities. Liberalism is, without a doubt, an insult to our history and a detriment to our future.

I was also surprised at how many people--conservatives--had voted for President Obama. Even Charles Payne said he did--and that he did it for people like Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and all those who came before and battled racism. What an interesting way of looking at things. That created a stir in the crowd. Those of us in the back seemed to be adamant that it was a lame reason to vote for someone. Too much was on the line to vote based on color. Even Dr. King said one ought to be judged, not by color, but by character. I do respect Mr. Payne's honesty, however.

Then I got upset when the gentleman next to me and the one in front of him dissed Sarah Palin, calling her dumb. The guy next to me even called her a stripper. They had no idea they were sitting near a true Palin supporter. But they found out in a New York minute! Needless to say, I had some words for these gentlemen. By the time I left the studio, one of them apologized for insulting the governor's intelligence and agreed that now she has the opportunity to show who she really is without being mishandled, which she was, by the McCain camp. I look forward to truth being revealed. It disturbs me when people are so willing to believe the worst in Sarah Palin and accept the prejudiced media representation of her, particularly people who themselves are personally well acquainted with bias and prejudice. And the stripper comment? That was enough to get the brother knocked out--but I behaved myself; we were on national television!

Toward the end of the show during commercial breaks, Beck allowed people to go to the front and sit in the chairs, as if they were a part of the panel. That boiled down to whoever could get there first. I tried once, but it was tough. I wasn't about to beeline it to the front--not my style--so I remained in the back.

What Glenn told us before the start of the show was correct: the show would be over much too soon. He said he wants to have us all back soon to talk more. As I said, I was frustrated. The conversation seemed to be all over the place, a lot of differing opinions ran rampant during breaks, and too many didn't get to speak up.

But you know what? It does prove that people have many things on their minds that they want a chance to vocalize, and Glenn Beck is willing to provide the forum. I commend him for that. Yes, it is time to be heard, and I am glad that the nation got to hear a little bit from a few Black conservatives. Some wanted simply to speak about issues that are relevant to all Americans, while others wanted to talk about issues that were unique to the Black community.

It's a start.

As Clifton and I walked the several blocks to Penn Station for me to catch Amtrak back upstate, I checked my email via my cell phone. I realized that Governor Palin had released another Facebook note, which I announced to Clif. Right after that comment, I heard two guys behind us say, "What would she do without Facebook?" Having heard that, I chose to talk even louder to Clif, saying something like, "God bless Sarah Palin!" and "We love Sarah Palin!" Childish thing to do? Perhaps. Some might even say I was foolish to get loud in opposition to two dudes walking down the street at night in New York City. At the moment, I didn't care. I had had enough that night of Palin-dissin'.

Being on the Glenn Beck Show was an opportunity to hear from other conservatives who happened to be Black. We were loud, passionate, and opinionated. It'll be interesting to see what direction the conversation goes in next time. I'll be sure to let you know when that is.


Suzie Price November 20, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

Hey there - I found you via a Google Alert. Loved reading this... It had to be interesting and fun to be on Beck. I can see the frustration too - wanting to be able to share more...

Cool experience.

I like Sarah Palin too. Do I think she could be Pres - well, not sure. But how could people not at least respect her as a Governor, Woman, Mother, Person?

Love your insights and sharing...
All the Best, and More!

namaste November 21, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

excellent piece, adrienne. i especially like that you put the truth out there about the black community trying to put each other down for not being black enough. i for one don't want to be black enough, i prefer to be American enough, thank you very much.

you make so many good points here, especially about beck pioneering the "time to be heard" concept for conservative blacks. you're right, more of us are ready to speak up than we realize.

as for the palin haters? i don't blame you for challenging the haters. they're wrong and they're stupid. and sarah is making them all want to push back from the table of humble pie. she's awesome!

Anonymous,  November 22, 2009 at 7:39 AM  

Saw the show. It was uplifting and inspirational. Love your writing, too! Keep up the good fight!

Anonymous,  December 6, 2009 at 10:37 AM  

I saw the Glenn Beck show this weekend and thought that it was terrific. I hope that the viewpoints of black conservatives continue to be heard. The left wing media tends to portray conservatives as a narrow group, made up mainly of white, right wing, religious fanatics. They have mocked participants in the Tea Party movement and those that support Sarah Palin, which I find offensive. Are there any conservative groups in the New York City area that you could recommend, which have a diverse membership?

Adrienne Ross December 6, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

Anonymous (@10:37 AM),

Thank you for your comment.

I'm sorry that I don't have the information you're requesting. I don't live in New York City.

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