game show, gameshow

Game Show Contestants Fail, Not Knowing A Single Black Person Of Note: Opinion

In a viral clip showcasing startling incompetence and a complete lack of knowledge of Black culture, white contestants can't even get obvious clues on famous Black people right. 

The Floor, Fox’s new game show hosted and produced by Rob Lowe, has only been airing since January, and it already has its first viral moment. Unfortunately, this moment is not of the heartwarming or prodigious variety. In a viral clip showcasing startling incompetence and a complete lack of knowledge of Black culture, white contestants can’t even get obvious clues on famous Black people right. 

The show’s concept, as explained by Deadline, is a physical trivia game show. It is won after contestants duel each other in a battle of trivia knowledge to capture squares and, eventually, the entire floor. Once a contestant dispatches their opponent, they can choose to continue playing, answering trivia questions and capturing the entire board, or they can let The Floor choose a new challenger. The last contestant with complete board control will receive a $250,000 prize.

In an example of the wildly different Americas that Black and white people live in, where Black people are required to move fluidly between our worlds and the worlds of white people by the necessity of survival, white people can’t even be bothered to get the names of Black people who should be at least white-adjacent correct. Thereby completely stalling the game and ruining its fast-paced and semi-chaotic nature.

As the clips made their way around social media, many users poked fun at the sheer incompetence on display and provided social commentary about what the clip says about the social lives of far too many white people. 

Singer/songwriter Isadore Noir noted, “I’m telling you right now, a lot of white people are completely and totally content with not knowing anything or anyone black. They will absolutely go years not speaking to or befriending black people unless it’s an interaction they can’t avoid. They are simply NOT INTERESTED.”

Photographer Jack Barnes pointed out, “Like I said before, they don’t have to learn about us growing up, they don’t care. But we have to learn everything about them even if we don’t care.”

Writer/Poet Kyla Jenée Lacey poked fun at the “I don’t see color” crowd, writing, “I don’t see *coloreds.”

While “Black Twitter” had a great deal of fun and elicited laughter while poking fun at seemingly woefully unprepared white people, nevertheless, it illustrates a phenomenon that Donald Earl Collins referred to in an op-ed for Al-Jazeera as deliberate ignorance. Collins, a visiting professor of African-American History at Loyola University Maryland, points to the work of Crystal Fleming to illustrate his point. Fleming, a sociologist, says in her book ‘How To Be Less Stupid About Race:’ “One of the main consequences of centuries of racism is that we are all systematically exposed to racial stupidity and racist beliefs that warp our understandings of society, history, and ourselves.”

Fleming fleshed this idea out further in a 2018 lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater when she pointed out that the concept of segregation in American society did not end or begin with Jim Crow or the Black codes. Sociologically, the idea of hypersegregation is shaped by the social structures of white Americans writ large.

“One of the largest, most powerful sources of racial ignorance in our society is hypersegregation. For most of this country’s history, segregation has been intentionally enforced not by people of color, not by Native Americans, not by African Americans, not by Latinx Americans, not by Asian Americans but very certainly by white Americans,” Fleming said. 

Fleming concluded, “White imposed segregation has meant that tens of millions of white Americans grow up in our society without meaningful relationships with people of color, without ever studying the history, sociology, and politics of racism, and without knowing what issues of race feel like from the perspectives of people of color.”