On Wednesday, actor Matthew McConaughey appeared on the second episode of “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” with host Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL linebacker.
During their exchange, McConaughey brought up a concept called “white allergies,” and asked Acho about it.
“White allergies – that by where we were raised and how we were raised in our history growing up, there’s certain just imported, obvious ways that we’re prejudiced in ways that we don’t even understand,” McConaughey said. “We got white allergies, and may not even know it.”
McConaughey added that after hearing that term, he examined his own life for any “white allergies.” He told Acho that his high school was more than half black, that he applied to Grambling University, which is a Historically Black University, that he has black friends, and that his wife is “a non-white immigrant.”
McConaughey then asked Acho “what prejudices” he might still have “via white allergies that [he] might not even be aware of.”
Acho asked McConaughey if current events or the previous episode of “Uncomfortable Conversations” have made the actor see any “white allergies” in his life.
McConaughey replied that “it exposed ways of looking at things in a way” in which he realized that he may not have been seeing “the other side of the coin.”
“Yes, whites and blacks can all have it hard, but whites have never had it harder because of the color of their skin,” McConaughey said, adding that while such an observation is “obvious,” he might not have been examining it as closely as he previously thought until Acho spoke about it.
“I’m diving deeper into how I’m looking at things, and now I’m looking at myself, how I can learn more, see things from your side more, see things from the black side more, so I can get a four-dimensional view here,” McConaughey continued.
Acho then explained that the most prominent “white allergies” in his view come in the form of “backhanded compliments,” such as “you don’t even talk like you’re black,” or “you’re so pretty for a black girl.”
Earlier in the video, McConaughey asked Acho how he himself can “do better as a white man.”
Acho responded, claiming that “you have to acknowledge that there’s a problem so that you can take more ownership for the problem.”
“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,” Acho said.
The host continued, speaking about studies showing resume bias against black sounding names, then telling McConaughey to assess whether he, as he “probably has several people under” him, is looking at resumes with bias.
“I think individually, we must each fix the problem because I believe that individuals, they affect the houses, and the houses, they affect the cities, and the cities affect the states, and the states affect the nation, and the nation affects the world,” Acho declared.
Speaking later with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Acho said that McConaughey actually called him and asked to be on the show, and that the experience was a good one.
McConaughey was in the news in May after he spoke with Fox News’ Bret Baier about the politicization of COVID-19. “I could feel that this united purpose we all have as Americans to beat this enemy and this virus, that purpose got hijacked a bit by partisan politics,” the actor said.
McConaughey added that COVID-19 was a uniting crisis, but that the “human factor” found its way in, and “two tribes started fighting each other in partisan politics, and that is not what we need.”
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