In the last half-hour of CBS This Morning on Monday, CBS brought on 18-year-old poet Playon Patrick, a “youth ambassador for the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper” project. Co-host Anthony Mason lauded a new documentary on "iconic" black author James Baldwin titled I Am Not Your Negro, and then had Patrick read from Baldwin’s fierce writings of the 1960s. It started with this blast:
PATRICK, reading from Baldwin: The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it.
In the beginning—and neither can this be overstated—a Negro just cannot believe that white people are treating him as they do; he does not know what he has done to merit it....
And, in fact, the truth about the black man, as a historical entity and as a human being, has been hidden from him, deliberately and cruelly; the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. So every attempt is made to cut that black man down—not only was made yesterday but is made today.
These lines were published in The New Yorker in November 1962....almost 58 years ago. Is it really fair to read this as a commentary on 2020? In an era of “fact checkers,” is it really fair to state that brutality against blacks “cannot be overstated”?
In between these two passages, CBS edited this Baldwin writing out: “And when he realizes that the treatment accorded him has nothing to do with anything he has done, that the attempt of white people to destroy him—for that is what it is—is utterly gratuitous, it is not hard for him to think of white people as devils.”
CBS put this caption on screen for this harsh writing that in 2020 echo like a nasty conspiracy theory: “Iconic author James Baldwin’s timeless words on race and justice.” Timeless? Like nothing has changed? That white people in America today are “threatened” and make every attempt to cut the black man down?
When it was over, co-host Tony Dokoupil said “Well done, Playon, bringing those words to life again for a new generation!” Playon recently read his own racially antagonistic poetry for a virtual Obama Foundation event. He was also celebrated as a rising talent by NBC's Access Hollywood.
How can CBS lecture that Trump is too divisive and is failing to unite the country when they organize readings of harsh attacks on evil white people? If Barack Obama is a unifier, why is he promoting this kind of poetry? Is this what today's CBS advertisers like Honda and Draft Kings and Value City Furniture want associated with their business?