Counting the Cost

From factor to failure: What Black leaders can learn from the O’Reilly debacle

Julianne Malveaux | 5/4/2017, midnight

What would it take for advertisers to draw the line on racial discrimination and/or discrimination against African American women? Racial discrimination does not cause the same repugnance that sex discrimination does. Indeed, companies that engage in widespread race discrimination might even get high fives from consumers who might like to practice racism themselves. The only way that African Americans could spark an advertiser exodus, on par with what happened to The O’Reilly Factor, would be to either work with partners who would put their feet down strongly, or to boycott the goods and services that a discriminating company provided. Unfortunately, there are few African Americans who would emulate those who boycotted busses for 381 days in Montgomery during 1955 and 1956. It seems unlikely that a critical mass of African Americans would inconvenience themselves to punish a discriminator.

African American leaders would do well to study the O’Reilly case and to ask what it would take for us to send as strong a signal about race discrimination as the O’Reilly dismissal did about sexual harassment. Many thought O’Reilly was invincible, but he wasn’t. Race discrimination isn’t invincible, either. We just have to decide what we want to do about it!

Julianne Malveaux is an author, economist and founder of Economic Education. Her podcast, “It’s Personal with Dr. J” is available on iTunes. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available to order at www.juliannemalveaux.com at Amazon.com. Follow Dr. Malveaux on Twitter @drjlastword.

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