The Most Intense Heartfelt Description Of Racism I Ever Filmed

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Published 2020-06-17
As my subscribers know, I have done thousands of interviews in my life. This interview with journalist, civil rights advocate, lawyer Roger Wilkins was one that I never forgot. I asked him to be straight and honest with me and to speak to his grandchildren in the future, of his experiences. That is exactly what he did, with such intensity and clarity.

There are some commentators on this video who feel that it is time to forget the past and move to the present and that reliving the past continues to heighten resentments that are no longer relevant. I understand that point of view but I believe that it is dangerous to forget our history. This experience that Roger is describing is part of our history. Part of the history of America. And it is also true as some commentators have said, that this is not the only relevant history, this negative, painful, somewhat horrible history. There are also beautiful moments in the history of America at this time and with people of all colors and ethnicities. I know because I have interviewed people who have lived some of it. For example, I have an interview with a black American, Robert Woodson, who grew up in Philadelphia in a totally black environment which was just wonderful. And I have an interview with a gentleman from California who grew up at the same time in an integrated community where color of skin was not a major factor. All of this is a part of our history and it is complex and three-dimensional and in my view, needs to be recorded and remembered and considered when looking at the present and the future.

During this challenging time with the black lives matter movement and police unfairness and the coronavirus pandemic, I thought that I would present Roger's comments again. I always felt that every student (at any age) should hear Roger to better understand what was experienced by so many Americans during slavery, in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, and, to some extent, today. I want to take the time in this description to thank Roger Wilkins for the effort and energy he put into his responses to my questions.

All Comments (21)
  • King Architect
    When he said, “we had a profound faith in the “decency of white Americans” that when they saw the effects of racism things would change and change quickly across the nation. I no longer have that faith.” That was too real.
  • Cam F.
    “The worst thing you can do to a human being is make her or him feel like he doesn’t count” beautifully said.
  • This man recalling his story admitting to how we "believed" things would change.....only to fast forward all of these years later and see NO changes still really speaks volumes to the elephant that has been in the room for over 400 years!
  • Rob Dobson
    I’m sad for Roger that he died with such pain in his heart. He seemed like a good guy who just wanted to provide for his family with dignity. RIP
  • White Orchid
    While my husband and I were traveling with a group of friends who included a gay black and white couple we frequently witnessed racist conduct from restaurant and hotel staff until we came to our friends defense and they realized our black friend was part of a white entourage at which point his presence somehow became acceptable. After one particularly bad altercation while waiting in line to board a ferry I tried to offer him words of comfort but his response left me in shock and made realize how pernicious and destructive to the spirit racism is. He said "It's ok, I'm used to it".
  • Sgt. Tattoo
    When I went got to first grade my best friend was black we were friends till he died 3 years ago. We had no Idea we were one of the first integrated classes. I will cherish his friendship forever.
  • MrPhil360
    Why is history not a focus in highschool. More and more I'm realizing I learned next to nothing in those classes. The majority of what I've learned about history is from interviews and lectures here online.
  • No Comment
    I’ve lived in this country my whole life, and it’s still hard to understsand how racism exists… we’re all people trying to get through the day. How the hell can anyone actually believe that skin color says anything about us?
  • Iron Will
    Great Interview. Racism was also prevalent in the north. MLK Jr. said he never experienced racism like he had when he visited Illinois. I agree we as Black People are Super Americans. We are the most Patriotic. We've fought in every war to defend this country and never spied against this land that has betrayed us numerous times.
  • Jo Do
    This interview should be a standardized viewing of the American high school history class curriculum. The ignorance on the internet is very telling of how uneducated in the matter the current population is.

    Disgusting past that needs to be learned from, not ignored. Lest we repeat the cycle again.
  • Miss Abyssinia
    The cops were called on us after we moved to our new house. Apparently someone thought my husband “looked suspicious”. Suspicion for mowing his own lawn. The cops walked right into our house with their guns drawn. They demanded to see his ID which still had our old address, they were only convinced when they walked throughout our house and saw family pictures 🤦🏾‍♀️.
  • P C
    I was a little white girl in a northern city when I saw those contort screaming faces. It was terrifying to me. How much worse it must have felt to little black children . It changed my understanding of the world .
  • Benjamin Pierce
    "The worst thing you can do to another human being is make them feel they don't count" those were POWERFUL words
  • Jon Trott
    Why in God's name has this not gotten more views?! Thank you so much, David Hoffman, for posting this.
  • corey jackson
    Much respect fort this man and his thoughts and the way he lived…They are not competent enough to judge us because they do not know how strong and resilient most of us are…we have been dealing with there weak and cowardly racist evil and oppressive actions all of our lives and yet we still live and strive!!!
  • OJAY89
    It's really sickening how us blacks have been done this whole time, and how these bigoted/racist or just choose not to see people say it's somehow our fault that our situation is the way it is. I hate it for us!!! It's not over tho family, drill education into the youths head and try to occupy as much time as you can with our babies, sports, chess club, take them to work with you. We just need to keep them out of the streets and away from the no do goods. I love y'all. Keep building
  • sdecrevel
    Too many people ignore and deliberately remain ignorant of these kinds of experiences. I'm also guilty of living in a bubble until one of my best friends had his teeth kicked in after being mistaken for a different black man.
  • S Shaw
    People put their homes up for sale on my street because a biracial family moved in. It was disgusting. I was 14 and just did not understand it. I had screaming matches with my parents over their forbidding me from speaking with them.
  • Diane Silva
    I could still see his hurt, after all his accomplishments in life.