Matthew McConaughey is asking himself, "How can I do better as a white man?"
This was the subject of his discussion with Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles who is now hosting the YouTube series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. The two men sat down together for episode two of Emmanuel's show, which was largely focused on the questions that McConaughey had for Acho on matters like racial equality, "white allergies" and more.
To start, McConaughey questioned where he could work on improving himself as "a human."
Achoe advised, "Individually, you have to acknowledge implicit bias. You have to acknowledge that you'll see a black man and, for whatever reason, you will view them more of a threat than you will a white man. Probably because society told you to." He added that the talk they're engaging in is already a step in the right direction.
McConaughey then asked Acho what he believes the future holds for the Black Lives Matter movement: "Is Black Lives Matter a banner for now? Yes, but is it a banner that is a bridge? Do you think to take us to when we see Black Lives Matter and we understand that it's all agreed on, then we can wave the flag of 'All Lives Matter'?"
The former athlete responded "I think it's not until. For example, right now we're facing the world's greatest pandemic since the Spanish flu. We all know that coronavirus, COVID-19, right now we're focused on finding a remedy for that illness. We're focused on finding a remedy for that strain of the flu. That's not to say that cancer doesn't matter; it's not to say that HIV doesn't matter; it's not to say that ALS doesn't matter. All those things still matter but right now the coronavirus is killing people. So on the same token Matthew, that's what I propose is that once we get these Black lives that are being ended unjustly handled by the grace of God if we can get those handled through conversations like these—and I hope that y'all at home are having—then we can be at a point to focus on everything else."
But, Acho noted that there won't be equality until, as the True Detective referred to them, "white allergies," are gone. As Emmanuel explained, people have these implicit biases that are shown through "backhanded compliments," like when he was told in high school that he didn't dress or talk "like you're Black."
He recalled, "I didn't realize how offensive that was at the time. It wasn't until I realized, 'Wait a second, you were assuming that Black people don't sound educated; you were assuming that to be Black I have to wear a do-rag or a wave cap and be sagging my pants; you are assuming something about black people and I contradict that assumption and as a result I am not Black."
Acho didn't think there was an intent to offend, he said he knew they "meant nothing by it". But he explained that's why it's called a "white allergy," because "white people don't recognize" the inadvertent harm of their statements.
Acho ended their conversation on this note: "People should take the responsibility proactively to say, 'You know what? Maybe I'm a part of the problem, maybe I can fix this issue not just by being not racist, but by being anti-racist. Maybe I can level the playing field and make it a fair fight.'"
To learn how to take action and get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, please click here.