Note to Al Sharpton – Don’t ever take money from Bill O’Reilly
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
I wasn’t really sure what to think when I saw the public back-and-forth taking place between Rev. Al Sharpton and Fox News host Bill O’-Reilly. Most of these battles remind me of WWE wrestling: publicly-staged fights designed to provide just enough political theater to boost ratings. But something about this seemed real, like one of the wrestlers kicking the other one in the testicles or saying something nasty about his wife. A punch had been thrown below the belt, and both wrestlers were screaming.
O’Reilly struck the blow heard around the world when he revealed that Sharpton had gone to him “begging” for a donation so that his struggling charity could feed hungry children. Being the gracious and loving white villain that he is, O’Reilly wrote a check for $25,000, which is probably the amount he spends on toilet paper every week.
Little did the reverend know, this secret deal was going to come back to bite him. Possibly incensed that Sharpton had accused O’Reilly of not caring about the poor, Bill talked about the donation like he’d given an ungrateful, hungry prostitute a McDonald’s Happy Meal. It wasn’t a good look for Sharpton, and neither was the book deal he signed with the rapper Lil Wayne right after we convin-ced Mountain Dew to end their endorsement deal with the artist who has written lyrics about killing old people and raping/murdering women.
I’m not sure why O’Reilly somehow believes that a $25,000 donation gives him the right to do billions of dollars in damage to our nation’s ability to take care of the poor and disenfranchised. The toxic paternalism inherent in his donation to Al Sharpton is actually in perfect alignment with his daily mission to fuel racial hatred toward Black, brown and poor people with daily diatribes and the use of faulty logic and statistics to make arguments that sound like they are coming from the mouth of Bull Connor. O’Reilly is as un-American as Osama bin Laden when it comes to promoting an agenda that has so dangerously increased the wealth gap between rich and poor that our nation is on the verge of socioeconomic collapse. The Titanic is sinking and Bill is one of the icebergs that cracked the hull.
This man is as dangerous to the country as the rapper Lil Wayne is to all of Black America. I knew a lot of men like him growing up in Kentucky, and I despised them.
With that being said, I give both Sharpton and O’Reilly credit for being highly intelligent men in their own way. Sharpton is a survivor and a brilliant strategist. But what I can’t figure out, for the life of me, is why he would ever, in a million years, solicit a donation from someone like Bill O’Reilly. Did he think it would stay under the table? Did he think that people give things away and expect nothing in return?
By revealing the nature of the secret donation, O’Reilly was effectively putting Sharpton in his place. He was basically saying, “Boy, we are not equals. Since you’ve chosen to take the gloves off, then I’ll now show you why we will never be equals.” Sharpton can’t face O’Reilly as a legitimate peer when he’s going to him asking for money.
I’m a Finance professor, so I’m intimately familiar with the power of wealth. Money can be used to build or destroy, depending on the situation. One thing I tell my daughters is that they should never take money from anyone who might use it against them, especially a man. The reality is that this little act of charity is probably going to be thrown back in your face, so by accepting money from a potential adversary, you’re just begging to be humiliated later on down the road. Too bad Sharpton wasn’t one of my daughters I would have given him the same advice.
Many years ago, I used to appear on Fox News several times per week. But once I noticed the network’s racist and insidious agenda, I vowed not to return to that network at any time in the near future. I’ve turned down every Fox News media request for the last six years and don’t plan on returning anytime soon. The reason for this decision is that, despite the fact that Fox has more viewers than any other cable news network, it’s difficult to fight for Black liberation if you are determined to make deals with the devil.
The decision to avoid Fox has been costly, since I had to find my own ways to make money (Fox pays well, which is why so many Black commentators appear on the network). But the beauty of maintaining your independence, particularly in a racist society, is that when a situation calls for you to stand up, you don’t have to fear biting the hands that feed you. This is one of the reasons why some of our most prominent Black leaders and public figures are afraid to take controversial positions on nearly any issue. It’s difficult to stand up to white folks if you are secretly begging them for money.
I don’t blame Al Sharpton entirely for this silly debacle, but I blame our culture, which sometimes values making money over making a difference. Sharpton didn’t need O’Reilly’s money and I’m sure he knows it. When you are asking another man to feed your children for you, it’s difficult to stand up to that man. This is the main reason why Black people must learn how to feed our own kids, so we can tell men like Bill O’Reilly to go straight back to h*ell.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the book, “Black American Money”. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.