MSNBC had a contentious moment on Sunday when the panel onAM Joywound up in a contentious debate about sociopolitical labels and the place white people have on debates about racism.
The conversation started to heat up afterAyman Mohyeldinnoted multiple instances where PresidentDonald Trumplobbed questionable accusations of racism against various people and figures. This was part of a broader conversation about how certain words have been weaponized by people looking to score political points.
Jason Johnson, a former adviser to SenatorTed Cruz(R-TX), eventually summed up the conversation as “because I am white, I am not supposed to have an opinion on this and I am supposed to ‘shut up.’” He continued by arguing that its “not effective” and bad for political discourse to attack people by calling them “racist” or other labels.
This drew an impassioned retort from radio hostDean Obeidallah, who asked “What word would you prefer instead of racist and bigoted? Is there a word you would find more politically correct you would like us to use to describe Donald Trump’s racist, bigoted things?”
This quickly spiraled into a conversation about white privilege, with Johnson asking if he has white privilege after growing up in a northeast Texas trailer park. The Beat’sTiffany Crossanswered “Yes, because on sight, people look at you and see a white man.”
“I want to stress the point that nobody told you that you have to be quiet,” Cross continued. Johnson interjected with “You did. You said you can’t have an opinion on this matter.”
“I didn’t,” Cross explained. “I’m saying when people are saying things are not racist and you are not on the receiving end of of that, I don’t believe it is your place to tell millions of people of color that something or someone is not racist when you are not on the receiving end of it.”
Johnson was eventually given a chance to respond, but he declined and said “I’ve got nothing else to say.”