VIDEO: The True Colors of America

In 1991, ABC’s Primetime Live with Diane Sawyer conducted an investigation into racial discrimination and aired the results on TV. In this video two men, similar in every way except that one is Caucasian and one is African American, go through the process of moving to St. Louis and setting up a new life there. Hidden cameras follow them around and record the disparate treatment they receive, over and over again.

Near the end of the video, another African-American gentleman being interviewed for the story explains how he’d like to teach his kids they can achieve anything they want to, because, “This is America!” But because he daily experiences the kind of racial discrimination shown in the video, he also has to acknowledge, “That’s America too.”

By the way, I realize the story is over 20 years old. But I would propose that things haven’t changed much at all since then. Also, yes, the story takes place in St. Louis, a city that’s been in the news a lot the past year because of race. But I would also propose that this story could’ve taken place in any city in America.

Yes, meritocracy is one of America’s most deeply embedded myths. But meritocracy is also a myth in another sense: it’s completely untrue.

Click here to watch the video if it doesn’t show up in your browser.

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