The Black Lives Matter movement has made it to Waco, TX. Chip and Joanna Gaines, famous mixed-race couple and masterminds of the Fixer Upper/Magnolia Channel empire, are struggling to keep up. The pair appeared on “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” with host Emmanuel Acho, to discuss race because it is “exactly what we need for this exact time,” as Chip Gaines points out within the first minute.
The Gaines began the interview with a decades-old talking point: apparently, just a few weeks ago, they didn’t see race. To get a read on how their five children were feeling amid ongoing discussions of racism, Chip posed the following hypothetical: If they went to a gas station and saw a black man and a white man, who would the kids feel more threatened by? They said neither. “So later Chip and I were talking and this whole idea of this color blind thing came up and Chip said, ‘You know I’m proud I think our kids are colorblind,’” Joanna recalled. “And then we started kind of pushing back on that and I think our question to you is... What’s the best way to move forward with this conversation?”
Acho tells them, delicately and generously and with many metaphors, that colorblindness is ineffective and inaccurate. That leads Chip to blunder by asking how people can “solve” the problem of racism if they fail to recognize it and are fearful of being labeled “racist.” “In America, we have to remember that history is meant to be remembered but history isn’t always meant to be celebrated,” Acho responds. “We have history so engrained into our culture we don’t even realize we’re blind to it.”
“I think I’ve been blind to this reality for maybe my whole life,” Chip says.
I suppose I appreciate that Chip and Joanna Gaines are having these bumbling conversations in public, even though considering “color blindness” feels outrageous, especially coming from a mixed-race family. The “I don’t see race” argument is really an “I have the privilege of not thinking about or discussing racism,” argument, in a world that treats whiteness as its default.
Of course, the Gaines probably shouldn’t be leading any important conversations: though they’re influential enough to have their own television network and convince unsuspecting suburbanites to shell out $6 for a sprig of fake eucalyptus at Target, they also associate with a megachurch that supports conversion therapy, while maintaining a complete unwilling to discuss their support of heinous LGBT politics.
But hey, at least the Gaines are throwing their money where their mouths are by creating “diversity and inclusion training for all [their] employees” and donating $200,000 to the Waco NAACP, Waco Community Race Relations Coalition, Thurgood Marshal College Fund and Race Forward, according to KLTV. Baby steps, I guess.