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The statistics of whitey

There is one thing regarding the Restoring Honor rally that MLK probably would have been a bit annoyed with…the media coverage of it.  The fascination over the color of skin in the audience instead of the content of the speech.

“predominantly white crowd on the National Mall” — Associated Press

“the predominantly white crowd, many seated on folding chairs” — AFP

“the predominantly white crowd bent over backward” — James Hohmann, Politico

“overwhelmingly white followers” — Ben Adler, Newsweek

“the audience was overwhelmingly white” — Brian Montopoli, CBS

“a vast and overwhelmingly white crowd” — Philip Rucker & Carol Morello, Washington Post

“A relatively dense and overwhelmingly white crowd” — Mark Benjamin, Salon.com

“The crowd, however, was overwhelmingly white.” — Michael A. Memoli and Kim Geiger, LA Times

“Out in the overwhelmingly white audience… politics was everywhere,” —Mitch Potter, Toronto Star

In fact, the people who seemed to be the most colorblind at the event were the audience–wildly clapping for people of all faiths and colors.  The largest applause of the day was probably for Alveda King, niece of MLK.  To their credit, at least one person at the New York Times noticed this.

But one could also call the day a strange, unlooked-for fulfillment of King’s prophecies: 47 years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, here were tens of thousands of white conservatives roaring their approval of its author.

This isn’t just MLK’s dream, it’s two of MLK’s dreams.  The event featured hundreds of thousands of people both being blind to skin color and coming back to God, something you might think a Reverend would appreciate.  (Not Reverend Al of course.  He says MLKs dream was for equal stuff in everybody’s house. Huh?).


But since the media is so focused on color, let’s talk about color.  The word predominantly means “much greater in number or influence” or “most frequent or common”.

Well, the United States population is around 75% white.  That means if you gathered any random crowd in the U.S. for any event, the typical percentage of whites you would expect to see would be 75%.  I don’t say that because it’s good, I say that because I can read numbers.

So, given that you are covering a news story in a country that has a 50 point gap between whites and all other races combined, how is pointing out that the crowd is “predominantly white” news at all?  It’s only worth pointing out when you are trying to paint the crowd as racist, when you have absolutely no evidence of racism.  If they had real racism, they could have reported that.  They didn’t have it, so they went with plan B.

Calling the crowd predominantly white is an attempt to send the signal that the audience kept African Americans out intentionally.  It’s an attempt to diminish the message and the guy giving it by insinuating that “only white people like him”.  Of course, that’s not true at all.

Did the media make sure that they reported the Sharpton rally as predominantly black?  No, and they shouldn’t, because it doesn’t matter.

But until we’re ready to be adults and talk about content of character, let me interject a little reporting of my own.

A predominantly white crowd gathered at the White House Correspondents Dinner…






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