In the latest episode of The Tanya Acker Show, I talk to Mo’Kelly, host of the award-winning “Mo’Kelly Show” on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles and also on iHeartRadio. The springboard for our conversation was Mo’Kelly’s much-publicized interview with former Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted of crimes in connection with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. President Trump commuted Stone’s sentence (which means that Stone did not have to go to prison) and Mo’Kelly conducted the interview with Stone shortly after the commutation.
During that interview, as Mo’Kelly pressed Stone on the role his relationship with President Trump played in his receiving a commutation, Stone can be heard saying what sounds like “I don’t really feel like arguing with this Negro.”
As Mo’Kelly and I discuss during our conversation, hearing this kind of thing is not in itself remarkable. It’s not even particularly remarkable that it was caught on audio, since recorded incidents like this are, quite frankly, a dime a dozen these days.
I wanted to talk to Mo’Kelly because I was interested in how he processed the interaction while at the same time keeping his eye on the work he was trying to do. Being exposed to other people’s “deep thoughts” sometimes can be discombobulating (whether they express those thoughts verbally in moments of frustration or instead through the actions they take in the privacy of the voting booth or elsewhere). What do you do when someone blurts something out that you believe is intended to diminish you as a person? Let it go or don’t let it go? Respond or don’t respond? Will people think you too angry if you do? Too passive if you don’t?
Mo’Kelly and I talk about race quite a bit during our conversation, something he said he rarely does because people tend not to consider the issue thoughtfully. As Mo’Kelly put it, “[t]oo many people … are interested in affirmation and confirmation, not actual information.” I think he’s right. Often, people can just end up preaching to their own choirs and hearing only what suits them. People who endure discrimination can end up on the defensive, as accusations of racism can be treated more harshly than acts of racism themselves. At the same time, what may be misunderstandings and/or isolated incidents of bad judgment can be transformed into permanent and irremediable character flaws. In an open season like this, conversations about sensitive and historically-loaded subjects like race often tend to be more inflammatory than helpful.
But not here!
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