Michelli on slavery: "Would you rather be in Africa right now?"

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In response to a caller who claimed "blacks have been holding a grudge since they were shipped over here," KVOR News Radio 740 host Joseph Michelli asked, "Would you rather be in Africa right now?"

On the October 3 broadcast of News Radio 740 KVOR's The Joseph Michelli Show, in response to a caller who claimed "blacks have been holding a grudge since they were shipped over here," host Joseph Michelli asked: "Would you rather be in Africa right now?" Michelli prefaced his question by stating, "I say this, and I know I'm going to take some grief from it."

The caller made his comment during a discussion about a protest of the Denver Columbus Day parade, after Michelli expressed disbelief that the protesters refused to obtain a city permit from what they deemed "an occupying power." Agreeing with Michelli, the caller added, "Well, heck, the blacks have been holding a grudge since they were shipped over here, and they won't never let it go." Michelli replied:

MICHELLI: And what a terrible thing, to trade human people, you know, to be so unenlightened to think that some humans are lesser than others and to use them as animals. But, you know what? I say this, and I know I'm going to take some grief from it: Would you rather be in Africa right now? Some -- I think some would. But the lifestyle in Africa is not so great relative to the lifestyle here.

Michelli later asked listeners if they thought he should "issue an apology for suggesting that people should get over slavery." One caller, who identified himself as a black American, said to Michelli, "I think that phrase, you know, like 'black people should get over it,' or slavery, or what have you, that kind of holds the stigma of, like, the n-word." At the end of the call, Michelli said, "I'll be careful about that term 'get over the whole slavery thing.' I'll be careful about that now knowing that it has the same loaded pejorative as other words I would never use."

From the October 3 broadcast of News Radio 740 KVOR's The Joseph Michelli Show:

MICHELLI: News Radio 740 KVOR, Joseph Michelli Show. I have a line open for you. Just, this thing caught my eye. I know that it happens every year, but I am so appalled that people are still holding on to whatever transgressions -- this is the Ward Churchill garbage of the universe. You know, I am personally sorry for what we did to American Indians. I am sorry that Europeans, upon coming here, infected them with all kinds of diseases for which they did not have immunities. I'm sorry that we did some actual efforts to take them out while using scarlet fever-infected blankets and things like that. Believe me, I feel terrible about the history of this whole thing. But do you fix history by somehow or another holding onto your grudge? Does that make the world a better place? Do people move together? Is there any sensitivity for American Indian rights when they behave this way? I mean, it truly is appalling. I don't want to shove Italian-American values down the hearts of American Indians. I would welcome the opportunity to them to have their day, and to do a speech -- to do speeches, to have whatever day they want to call it. American-Indian Heritage Day. Indigenous People Day. I don't care what they want to call it. But celebrate it. Promote something. Be about something constructive. Just don't be against everything. That's a part of our society that's driving me crazy right now. And as for the last caller who says we should have the freedom to speak and protest whenever we want to, granted we have freedom to assemble in this country, but assembly, I mean, if you look at the Bill of Rights, and what is conferred by virtue of our responsibilities and our rights with regard to assembly, it's not just assembly for the sake of assembling at any cost. Like every right that you're afforded in this country, there is a responsibility attached to that right. And I'll read from the United States Constitution to tell you what is implied by assembly. Let's go to Jim. Jim, you're on News Radio 740 KVOR.

CALLER: Well, you got [Caller].

MICHELLI: [Caller]. We'll take [Caller] then. How about [Caller] instead?

CALLER: Well, I'll tell you what: I'm Cherokee, a little bit.

MICHELLI: OK.

CALLER: Enough that I could have gotten on the row, but my grandfather was too proud to do that. I don't take any umbrage at all, but maybe I should. You know, maybe we need to get [Ward] Churchill up here and straighten this out.

MICHELLI: Well, how would he -- how would he straighten this out? What would Churchill say, you think?

CALLER: He wouldn't do anything. But what I'm saying is you said, you know, "Quit holding a grudge." Well, heck, the blacks have been holding a grudge since they were shipped over here, and they won't never let it go. So why can't --

MICHELLI: And what a terrible thing, to trade human people, you know, to be so unenlightened to think that some humans are lesser than others and to use them as animals. But, you know what? I say this, and I know I'm going to take some grief from it: Would you rather be in Africa right now? Some -- I think some would. But the lifestyle in Africa is not so great relative to the lifestyle here.

CALLER: Well, you know, those in Sudan, Darfur, and other parts of Africa are just in horrible shape.

MICHELLI: Absolutely.

CALLER: I know they wouldn't be better off there.

MICHELLI: No, the Janjaweed would come down and kill them. It's not --

CALLER: You know, and it's what I've always said: They need to get over their grudge and move on with life. And the same with any of the Indians.

[...]

MICHELLI: All right, I want to get your reaction. After hearing that, should I issue an apology for suggesting that people should get over slavery? After hearing that, should I not be more sensitive to the realization that there are huge distinctions between immigrants from Europe, for example, and those who were brought here on slave boats? Should I not appreciate that the civil rights movement was just a wink away in history?

[...]

MICHELLI: Mark's gone. Let's go to [Caller], followed by Kevin and Cannon. [Caller] you're on News Radio 740 KVOR.

CALLER: Hey, Joseph. This is [Caller]. How's it going?

MICHELLI: Good. Thanks for your call.

CALLER: Thanks. Hey, I love your show, and I've called in a couple of times, and, you know, conversations like this is what makes me want to call in sometimes, because it's -- you know, I'm a black American and I have very conservative viewpoints, and I just listen to 740 all the time. And, hearing your comment, I got to tell you, between me, you, and your listeners, I totally agree with you.

MICHELLI: No way. Wait a minute.

CALLER: [unintelligible] you don't have to apologize for it. However --

MICHELLI: Yeah.

CALLER: before you say anything --

MICHELLI: Yeah.

CALLER: However, I think that phrase, you know, like "black people should get over it," or slavery, or what have you, that kind of holds the stigma of, like, the n-word. Like, you know, for me to hear that from another black person, you know, I can kind of let it slide, but for me to hear it from somebody else from any other race, it kind of weirds me out.

MICHELLI: OK, now when this started -- let's start this conversation where it began. I mean, it began with American Indians having an issue with Italians and feeling like they don't have to get a permit in order to protest against the Italians on Columbus Day this weekend because from their perspective we are illegal occupiers from whom they have to get the permit. So this all started with, like, when do we let go of that and live in the calendar year 2006? And from that, somebody else introduced the racial issue with regard to African Americans. And there is a parallel universe that I live in. I mean, I'm not trying to be prejudiced, it's just who I am, I guess, because I don't understand what value you get -- anybody -- for any, holding onto anything historic other than putting your back into changing what is now. That's really where I'm coming from, honestly. It's not like blacks only.

CALLER: Exactly, I wouldn't consider that prejudicism at all. I mean, you're looking at -- I mean, that's factual, basically. I mean, come on. And this is where I come from, where I say the same thing for my race. OK, I hear a lot of people that say, "Oh, but we were enslaved this time." Yeah, but come on, guys. We weren't enslaved.

MICHELLI: Yeah. Yeah, but see, to me, who moves any race ahead more? Is it a Jesse Jackson, or is it, uh, the guy on the Supreme Court -- gosh, suddenly I just blocked him -- you know, when you change history by breaking through a color barrier and you open up more opportunities for other people, does that not make -- uh, [Supreme Court justice] Clarence Thomas -- does that not make greater impact on social change?

CALLER: Yes.

MICHELLI: Well, that's where I want to go with the whole conversation. It's like, why are we not focused more on what can I do to help, you know, brothers of color, whatever my color may be, get through whatever institutionalized racism that exists?

CALLER: Absolutely. See, I totally agree.

MICHELLI: And then going back and going back to whether or not somebody's grandfather was a slave or not, that conversation, just from my perspective, limits the ability to make more money for your family in calendar year '07.

CALLER: Absolutely. To reflect on it and from a point of respect. You know, and this is what I do: You know, I totally respect that, you know, at some time or another some really, really, bad things happened to my particular race, but that's not going to keep me from prospering in today's America. And, you know, I'm not going to back and say, you know, well, "We need to fight the power," and, you know, "white folk are always against us; the manor is down on us." You know, that's the day and age that we live in today.

MICHELLI: Yeah, and I think it keeps you oppressed. It keeps you in a victim mindset. It doesn't empower you to be successful. So, I'm with you. I'll be careful about that term "get over the whole slavery thing." I'll be careful about that now knowing that it has the same loaded pejorative as other words I would never use. OK, thanks. It's 5 o'clock on The Joseph Michelli Show. These lines are smoked. People are all over this issue.

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