White Man Calls In to C-SPAN to Ask How He Can Stop Being Prejudiced. Here’s the Moving Response.

“What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?”

On Sunday, an ordinary C-SPAN segment quickly transformed into a rare and moving conversation about racial attitudes in America, when a white man called in to admit he is prejudiced and wanted to change to “be a better American.”

Gary, an independent voter from North Carolina, told Heather McGhee, the segment’s African American guest and president of Demos, an organization working to promote equal opportunities, that his views were the result of certain fears about drugs and the country’s crime rate.

“I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs, you have to get money for drugs,” he told McGhee. “It is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when—I have these different fears, and I don’t want my fears to come true. So I try to avoid that and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don’t like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example.”

“What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?”

McGhee paused, visibly touched by the powerful display of honesty. She thanked Gary for having the courage to share his concerns, which could spark a much-needed dialogue for all Americans of every race and ethnicity to challenge deeply rooted biases. McGhee then outlined several ways that he and all Americans could try to overcome prejudice, such as considering to get to know black families, attending a diverse church, and turning off the news, which creates an image of African Americans at odds with reality.

“Thank you so much for being honest and for opening up this conversation because it is simply one of the most important ones we have to have in this country,” McGhee said.

For more on the science of racism, head to our investigation here.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.