Roundtable: OJ's Back In Court; Does Anyone Care? O.J. Simpson's robbery trial is underway in Las Vegas, but is anybody really paying attention? Plus, could racial prejudice decide the presidential election? A new poll says it could. On today's bloggers' roundtable, NPR's Tony Cox speaks with Danielle Belton and Shawn Williams.

Roundtable: OJ's Back In Court; Does Anyone Care?

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TONY COX, host:

And now, on to our blogger's roundtable. Here are some of the stories heating up the Internet. Could racial prejudice decide the presidential election? A new poll says it could. Plus, O.J. Simpson's robbery trial is underway in Las Vegas. But is anybody really paying any attention? And a new study ties attitudes about gender roles to income. With us to talk about all of these things, freelance journalist Danielle Belton. She runs the blogs Black Snob and The Secret Council of American Negroes. Shawn Williams, who publishes the blog Dallas South. And to join us later, hopefully, will be a Harvard Law student Claudio Simpkins. He is the contributor to the blog Hip-Hop Republican. Hello, everybody. How are you?

Ms. DANIELLE BELTON (Freelance Journalist, Black Snob and The Secret Council of American Negroes Blogs): I'm good. Thanks.

Mr. SHAWN WILLIAMS (Writer, Dallas South Blog): Hey. How's it going? I'm doing well. Thanks.

COX: Great. Let's talk about this racism in the White House poll. Forty percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view of African-Americans, many calling them lazy, violent, or responsible for their own troubles. Now, that's according to a recent joint Associated Press-Yahoo News poll. The poll also concludes that not all white folks are prejudiced. Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman, who helped analyze the survey, said, and here's a quote, "There are a lot of - there are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots." So, what does this mean to you when you hear this sort of thing, Shawn?

Mr. WILLIAMS: You know, I think it - this very thing is why a lot of African-Americans would never allow themselves to believe that a black man could become president. And so, these feelings are not a surprise. So, as we move forward, I think, you know, we'll see more of these surveys and more of these things. But you know, we've all been told all our lives you have to, you know, run fast, you have to run hard, or you have to study longer if you're black if you're going after something a white person has or is trying to give to you. And so I think the same thing is here in this case. Most of these studies show that it's about a six-point difference for Barack Obama just on race. So, his platform is going to have to make up that for that difference.

COX: Do you - were you surprised at all, Danielle, to hear about this?

Ms. BELTON: Actually, no. I mean, when you think about how African-Americans have been traditionally portrayed in the media, in art, in music, and just in everyday life, in television in America, I mean, who wouldn't have a negative perception of African-Americans, especially if you didn't know an African-American personally. And even some African-Americans themselves harbor some of these views. So, this was not shocking, you know, at all. I mean, I guess it's good that it's a little bit less than I thought, you know. I mean, it could be - you know, it was much, much, much worse when my parents day. But no, I mean, when you deal with so much negative perception, imagery, when you turn on the local news and the only thing you ever see with black people usually involves a shooting of some kind, of course you're going to have that negative perception.

COX: Let's follow that point with this, because another blogger wrote - and this is a quote, "calm down, it's just a poll. I imagine there's a poll out there somewhere that says 40 percent of black folks have a negative view of other black folks." What do you think of that?

Ms. BELTON: Yeah. I'm just - yeah, I agree.

Mr. WILLIAMS: I think we'd probably have the same thing. You know, African-Americans have a negative view of whites as well. I mean, you know, these polls are going to say this. If you have an American who's 60 or over, more than likely they graduated from school, especially in the South, never having gone to a school with someone of the other race - all segregated schools. If it's someone 50 to 60, maybe they graduated from an integrated school, but probably attended a segregated school. So, you know, these issues, and these feelings, and these attitudes die hard. But I think the main thing is that this doesn't include everybody, and you know, there are enough people who have differing opinions to probably offset that.

COX: You know, this is something I'm going to read to you that we hear a lot from some of our white listeners on News & Notes. And this blogger wrote, blacks vote overwhelmingly for a candidate who is black and no one cares. Whites decide not to vote for the black candidate and are called racists. I really can't wait for this election to be over. What about that? You know, race is a tricky thing to discuss. But this person is correct, aren't they, Danielle?

Ms. BELTON: Well, it depends on how you look at it. I mean, a lot of Catholics voted for Kennedy in 1960. I mean, when you're an ethnic minority, a racial minority, or a religious minority, you're going to be really excited about seeing one of your own in that position because you don't see them in that position ever. I mean, it just doesn't happen very often. So I feel like, you know, at one point maybe they have a valid point, but they're really looking at it from the wrong perspective. I mean, your majority - minority culture - if you're in the majority, you really just can't get agitated just because the smaller group that has a small representation gets really excited when one of their own finally gets in there.

COX: Well, that's an interesting point of view. But when race is in the mix, Shawn, I would think that that makes it difficult to avoid the label of having a double standard.

Mr. WILLIAMS: The thing is, you know, Bill Clinton and Al Gore both enjoyed almost 90 percent African-American support in their presidential bids. And I bet Lynn Swann when he was running for governor of Pennsylvania would have loved to have 90 percent support of African-American voters, and he might be governor of Pennsylvania, possibly. So you know, you have to look at all the factors in this, and it's easy to say all black people are voting for Obama. But the truth of the matter is black people were more than willing to vote for Hillary Clinton at the beginning of the campaign. And as he put forth his agenda, more people went his way.

COX: Are you thinking...

Ms. BELTON: That's very true.

COX: Yeah. Are you thinking that people are going to vote for Obama more so, the black people I'm talking about now, more so because of his positions than his color?

Ms. BELTON: Well, the positions make up, I mean, a lot of it. I mean, you look at his race with Alan Keyes in Illinois. I mean, I don't know many black people who would ever vote Alan Keyes for anything.

COX: Well, that wasn't really much of a race. That really wasn't much of a race.

Ms. BELTON: That's true. That's true it wasn't because he was, you know, a carpetbagger, that kind of vibe.

COX: Absolutely.

Ms. BELTON: But here in St. Louis, I mean, there are black Republicans. We have a columnist, Z. Dwight Billingsley, who often tries to run for office, but he runs into the same problem. Most blacks in St. Louis won't vote for him because of his views as a conservative and as a Republican.

COX: All right. Tell you what, we're going to continue our conversation right after the break. Hopefully, we'll be joined by our third blogger. So stick around, we'll be right back.

I'm Tony Cox, and this is News & Notes. We're back now with our bloggers' roundtable. Joining us today are Shawn Williams who publishes the blog Dallas South, and Danielle Belton who runs the blogs Black Snob and The Secret Council of American Negroes. Before we broke we were talking about the election. But let's move on to another topic that is kind of interesting when you look at the historical context, and I'm talking about none other than O.J. Simpson. In case you missed it in the news, O.J. is back in court, this time for reportedly storming into a Las Vegas hotel room last year with five other men to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. Prosecutors say at least two men with Simpson had guns. He faces 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon, and if found guilty he could receive a life sentence. All right, so, 1994 was the end of the trial, the first O.J. Simpson trial, but does anybody really care, Shawn Williams, about O.J. Simpson's trial this time?

Mr. WILLIAMS: I think somebody cares. I mean, in the TMZ world that we're living in now there's probably a market for this. There's probably a market for the blog that's following the trial. But you know, as far as the mainstream media goes, I'm really hoping that they don't spend a whole lot of time on this one. When the first trial came through, I mean, there were a lot of major networks. I mean, the first trial on this run came through, there were a lot of major networks leading with this and so, hopefully over the next few days, you know, I'm expecting that the mainstream media will probably take a back seat on this story, at least that's what I'm hoping.

COX: I'm going to ask Danielle to hold on one second. Why do you hope that?

Mr. WILLIAMS: Well, you know, to me this is not news right now. I mean, it could be news but right now, you know, we don't even see that there was a bombing in Pakistan. That didn't even make the front page of the U.S. newspapers and yet, you know, we are going to place O.J. Simpson on the front page and follow this trial, you know. I want to make sure that O.J. Simpson receives justice, for sure. But you know, there are so many other things going in the world that I'm just hoping it doesn't receive too much attention.

COX: Danielle, what do you say?

Ms. BELTON: I doubt it will get much coverage, I mean, the election is so hot right now, the economy is a complete mess, we got two wars going on. I mean, O.J. just really isn't relevant. It is a fact that there is no really glamorous angle with the trial this time. I mean, basically, it's O.J. with a bunch of duplicitous characters. I mean, everyone in this whole thing seems to be crooked, or criminal, or have a shady past in some kind of way. I mean, if it weren't for the fact that he's O.J. Simpson, already has his infamous name attached to him, if he had just been your Joe Blow, you know, who barged into that room in Las Vegas with a bunch of other crooks to steal back his stuff that they stole, you know, I don't even know if they'd have this many charges going on. I don't even know if the police would care because when criminals steal from other criminals, I mean, it's you know...

COX: So, neither of you is feeling that O.J. trial...

Mr. WILLIAMS: I think Danielle alluded to something that really is probably a part of it too, is that there is no interracial angle in this that we can see visually.

COX: So, it's not sexy, it's not sexy.

Ms. BELTON: No, it's not.

Mr. WILLIAMS: No. It's part of what stimulated America the last time around.

COX: It's old news, so to speak.

Ms. BELTON: People were more thrilled about Paris Hilton getting dragged off to jail, I mean. That was - you know, it's like, oh my God, it's Paris Hilton. And we all either hate her, or we're fascinated by her. She's doing something interesting or crazy, or it's Lindsay Lohan, she's crashed her car. It's like you know, O.J., he's back again.

COX: She's dating her girlfriend now.

Ms. BELTON: Yeah.

COX: OK. Well, let's move on to another topic. This one is really interesting, I thought. I'd like to get your thoughts on it. Are you a guy who believes that a woman's place is in the home and that your job is to bring home the bacon while your wife watches the kids and cleans it? That's not a question for you - that's rhetorical, Shawn. If so...

Mr. WILLIAMS: Thanks, appreciated.

COX: Well, a new study suggests that your point of view may equal a fatter paycheck. A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that men with, quote, unquote, "traditional views about a woman's place in the world make more money than their peers who have a more egalitarian mindset." So, Danielle, does this come as a surprise to you?

Mr. BELTON: It's not necessarily surprising, but I think things are more complicated than that. I mean, I was raised in a very traditional household. My dad was the primary, you know, earner in the household. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. But my dad was also, you know, held many feminist beliefs, had nothing but daughters, he put us all to college and expected us all to go into a - you know, fields of work. So, you know, I can see why a man with a traditional view of marriage and a woman's role would do better. It's not surprising. But, you know, I don't think it really gauges, though, the whole picture.

COX: What do you say, Shawn?

Mr. WILLIAMS: You know, Tony, I think this is a really fascinating study in that there are so many aspects of it that the study doesn't really address. I mean, you may have an attitude about the traditional role of woman in the home, but yet your wife works. So, if my wife works but I have these views then she takes off when the children are sick. She's the one that goes to school when there's a need for a meeting because I hold these traditional views. But that gives me an opportunity to make more money. And I think corporate America, you know, tends to like people who have those views. If you're a man going in and you're asking for time off to take off with your sick child, or if you want to ask for leave for a newborn, those - corporate America doesn't see that as a positive. So, I think those are the aspects of the study that would be great to see fleshed out.

COX: One of the points that the authors of the study said was that what it showed was that it's not just a matter of disparity - income disparity between man and woman, but that these traditional men make more money than both traditional women and egalitarian women, as they described them, as well as egalitarian men. So, if you want to make more money, if the study is correct, it was done over a 25-year period, you need to have these typical kinds of restrictive attitudes, I guess would be one way to describe it. It seems to be working in the workplace. But I don't know that that still falls into form with the black community? Do you think it does?

Ms. BELTON: I think it's a complicated and a little bit different. Traditionally, in the black community black woman have always worked. I mean, my grandmother worked. Her mother worked. My other grandmother, my dad's side, worked because they had to. I mean, most of the men in my family when you get into my uncles and great uncles, they were all day laborers or they were sharecroppers. You know, their wives cleaned houses, you know, and hospitals. I mean, so a woman working isn't really a new thing for the black community. Like if anything, my mom being able to stay at home was like, you know, people thought that was strange. You know, people were often shocked that I had a stay-at-home mother. It was just like, your mother doesn't work? You know, they made all these weird false assumptions about it. But at the end of the day it was like wow, you know, you're really lucky. Your mother really has the luxury where they had a choice. Your family actually had a choice.

COX: That's true. You know, and I think some black families have an unusual sort of setup, or maybe it's not that unusual. I had a stay-at-home mom too, and my dad made all the money, but my mom ran everything. So, she was really in charge. He brought home the bacon, but she ran pretty much everything else. Was that the circumstance for you, Shawn?

Mr. WILLIAMS: Both of my parents worked. But I would still say, you know, when you think about those traditional attitudes, you know, my mom was the one who picked me up from school if I was sick. My mom was the one who met with the teachers. And so, you know, I think when you really look at this study, you know, if a woman has the attitude that a man should be the one who works but she still works herself, you know, her earning potential could potentially be less because of that. And so, even though these women have the earning potential or belief that men should be making more, they're still making $14,000 less than the men who have those same beliefs that they did. So, you know, there's a lot of digging that can be done in this study. It's really fascinating.

COX: Absolutely it is. One of our bloggers wrote - I'll share this with you before I say good-bye, I'll happily adopt a traditional viewpoint for another $1,000 a month. I wonder if HR has a form for that. We've been talking with Shawn Williams who publishes the blog Dallas South, and Danielle Belton who runs the blogs Black Snob and The Secret Council of American Negroes. Thank you both.

Mr. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

Ms. BELTON: Thank you.

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