It’s possible – necessary even – to conclude that the more woke and right on campaigners on issues such as race and gender fail to read the articles they write on the subject. This is even before we get to the supposition that perhaps they don’t think through their arguments before they scribble. For all too often there’s some glaring, gaping even, logical hole in what we’re being asked to believe.
The background here is that the reporting team that CBS News has announced to cover the 2020 Presidential elections – yes, sigh, it’s that time already – contains not the one African American. This is, according to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a scandal, an outrage, and perhaps a symptom of the capitalist patriarchy racist power structure or summat. Fortunately we’ve got to wait another cycle, to 2024, for Alexandria’s own run at the office.
Still, here’s the complaint:
This WH admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet @CBSNews hasn’t assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election.
Unacceptable in 2019. Try again. https://t.co/h7tmiBr9Fi
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) 13 January 2019
And here’s today’s representative of The Guardian’s hive mind:
Another day, another reason to be elated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This time the newly sworn-in congresswoman – who in a matter of weeks has reshaped the political conversation in her own party and a country hit by the longest government shutdown in US history – aims squarely at CBS News. For its lack of black journalists.
Tweeting to her 2.4 million followers, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “This [White House] admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet CBS News hasn’t assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election.” In true AOC style – bold, snappy, forthright, instantly meme-able – she added: “Unacceptable in 2019. Try again.”
Before we wade into the response with the defiance of a student paying homage to The Breakfast Club on a college roof, let’s unpick this further. Ocasio-Cortez was responding to a CBS News producer revealing its team covering the 2020 US presidential campaign. Asian, Arab-American and Latino journalists were included, but no black reporter. This matters, not because of some facile quota system that says we need one of each race or it’s not true representation. It matters because a functional understanding of race is central to US (and indeed UK) politics. And when the conspicuously absent race happens to be the one discriminated against and weaponised the most, that tells us something, too.
This is why we need people in power, and holding power to account, who know about the complexities of race through lived experience. And it’s why it takes someone like Ocasio-Cortez, who is Puerto Rican, to notice, understand and call it out.
D’ye see the problem with this logic? We’ve praise for a Puerto Rican – a flavour of Latina in Americanese – being entirely woke to the race problems of the United States. Along with an insistence that mere Latinos cannot, by definition, be woke to the race problems of the United States.
Our wondrance isn’t that they seem not to think through their own arguments but that they don’t even seem to read them.