Let MTV’s racist “Hey White Guys” video be a lesson to progressives on how to change minds Twitter/MTV News screenshot
Twitter/MTV News

MTV ignited the internet’s fury this week when it posted — and quickly deleted — a viral video proposing New Year’s Resolutions for white guys.

Rare summarized the laundry list of grievances:

“First off, try to recognize that America was never ‘great’ for anyone who wasn’t a white guy,” starts off the video.

Among the things that MTV thinks white men need to work on are:

  • Mansplaining (“Just stop doing it.”)
  • Bragging about being “woke”
  • Pointing out the fact that they have African-American friends as a way to prove they’re not racist because “you could be racist with black friends”
  • Prioritizing the future of an athlete over the life of a woman he sexually assaulted (in reference to Brock Turner)
  • Understanding that Beyoncé, an African-American artist, is going to care about and speak up for African-American causes
  • Realizing the Black Lives Matter isn’t the opposite of All Lives Matter (and that “Blue Lives Matter isn’t a thing”)

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The irony is apparently lost on MTV, a network that for years after its launch was criticized for not featuring black artists. David Bowie famously pressed the station on the subject in a 1983 interview.

Three decades later, MTV is now social justice central. Last year, they released a full-length documentary on white privilege that stirred some rumbles. However, the controversy was nothing compared to the events of the past week.

What’s most remarkable is that the outcry hit such a fever pitch that MTV felt compelled to delete the video entirely. Clearly, the Trump era backlash to political correctness is in full swing.

This new age where it is unacceptable to judge white guys on the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character, is a good thing. As a fellow white guy — albeit a gay one with some mild lefty leanings — I can’t deny the urge to buy a MAGA hat whenever I read the latest hot take on “white privilege” or “toxic masculinity.”

But, most of all, this new age is good for well-meaning progressives who want to change hearts and minds effectively.

Take the case of Daryl Davis, a black musician who famously convinced 25 Klu Klux Klan members to give up their robes. Daryl achieved such an impressive task not by chastising Klansmen about their racism, but rather through making friends and gently questioning their underlying beliefs. The power of conversation to change people’s minds cannot be underestimated when both parties recognize each other’s humanity and approach each other as equals.

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The problem with the progressive left today is that too often, it seeks to change hearts and minds from the pulpit rather than the pews. “You’re evil” is not a fruitful way to start a conversation. It doesn’t matter if said person does, in fact, hold some evil views — like the Klansmen that Daryl befriended. Fundamental beliefs can only be changed through education, not rebuke.

If Daryl Davis can stare evil in the eye and shake hands, then the social justice warriors of today can soften their tone towards those they seek to change. Perhaps us white guys can be a little more cautious in our daily interactions with minorities — Lord knows nobody’s perfect! But when we do make the occasional awkward slip-up, I beg progressives everywhere to please use it as a teaching moment rather than a preaching moment.

Casey Given About the author:
Casey Given is executive Director of Young Voices. Follow him on Twitter @caseyjgiven
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