NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho attended the prestigious, private St. Mark’s School Of Texas in Dallas, while actor Matthew McConaughey went to public school in Longview — but the two men came together in a safe place created by Acho to have an ‘uncomfortable’ discussion about race and bias.
Just days after the death of George Floyd, and subsequent protests around the world against police brutality and racial inequity, Acho recorded the pilot of a video series called, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
Acho said he wanted to have a conversation “with white America, in order to educate and inform on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting and the hurt African Americans are feeling.” Apparently the talk was needed — the first episode has been viewed more than 22 million times.
The second episode in the series featured Acho’s fellow University Of Texas graduate McConaughey as the two came together in Austin.
When the actor asked, “How can I do better as a human? How can I do better as a man? How can I do better as a white man?” Acho replied, “You have to acknowledge that there’s a problem, so that you can take more ownership for the problem. The first step to acknowledging it is sitting in this chair right here, across from a black man and being like, ‘Okay, I may not be talking about you Emmanuel Acho, but I may be talking about men who look like you.'”
When McConaughey asked, “What can I do? What’s my responsibility, what’s your responsibility?” Acho answered, “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.”
After recording the second episode Acho said, “It’s not enough to now just allow certain racisms to exist. It’s not enough to just listen. My goal was to start a dialogue so that my white bothers and sisters can listen, but now they need to speak. Because my white friends they can infiltrate spaces that a black man like me never can… they will be in group messages, they will be at family reunions, they will be at family picnics. They need to — my white friends — need to speak out and call out these sort racist ideologies.”
Acho says dealing with a problem starts with education, exposure, and continues as communication.
“I think individually we must each fix the problem, because I believe the individuals they affect the houses, and the houses they affect the cities, and the cities affect the state, and the state affects the nation, and the nation affects the world,” he said.
Acho reminded viewers that we’re not that far removed from slavery and Jim Crow laws. When asked if the problems [with racial bias] would “die off” with white ancestors he said, “Where do you think you acquire information? More is caught than is taught… more is caught than is taught. But, there is hope because all it takes is a conversation.”
Check out the entire conversation in the video above.