The list of ill-informed, unsolicited advice to Black people on how to deal with racism has been growing at unprecedented rates in recent months. The latest bit of advice comes from former Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington who took to Twitter to advise Chris Rock, and any other Black person with a nice car, to “#adapt” to racial profiling.
It wasn’t long before Black Twitter loaded up their digital artilleries and took aim at Washington in 140 characters or less, but his ongoing saga of blaming Black people for their oppression only continued when he sat down for an interview with none other than CNN’s Twitter lightening rod anchor Don Lemon.
The irony here needs not to be explained.
First, let’s go back to the beginning—before the Twitter barrage and before the Lemon interview.
It all started when comedian Chris Rock used his Instagram account to capture racial profiling right as it happened. Every time Rock, a Black man of wealth and fame, got pulled over by the police, he would snap a selfie.
Just over his shoulder Instagram users could spot yet another police car that had stopped the A-list comedian.
Over a span of just a few weeks, the police-stop selfies started to add up.
Three have already emerged in less than two months.
“Stopped by the cops again wish me luck,” he captioned one of the photos.
The string of selfies came as no surprise from the comedian who has earned a reputation for speaking out on race issues in America and frequently integrating them into this standup routines.
Seeing how frequently Rock was getting pulled over left the Black community on social media frustrated. Enter Washington, who just cannot seem to get out of his own way. The last thing Black people needed or wanted to hear was another Black celebrity telling Black people how to “adapt” to racism.
And yet, there was Washington with this:
“I sold my $90,000.00 Mercedes G500 and bought 3 Prius’s, because I got tired of being pulled over by the Police. #Adapt @chrisrock,” Washington tweeted.
The tweet joined Don Lemon’s suggestion to just pull up your pants and Morgan Freeman’s idea to ignore racism in the Worst Ideas About How to Solve Racism Hall of Infamy.
For many reasons, it’s easily one of the worst bits of advice any Black celebrity has had for his own community. Beyond trying to make Black people responsible for their own oppression, Washington’s words leads one to believe the issue is the car.
The reality is was the driver of the car.
“Prius won’t save you from #DWB @IWashington i know. trust,” Questlove tweeted.
Award-winning journalist Elon James White was just as surprised by Washington’s suggestion that driving a Prius could protect Black people from racial profiling.
“And is @IWashington implying that Black folks who drive less expensive cars won’t be pulled over by cops,” White tweeted. “That logic is broken as hell.”
Broken, indeed, but the barrage of tweets from social media users and other Black stars still didn’t convince Washington that his logic was flawed.
He announced on Twiter that he would be sitting down with the mascot of respectability politics, Don Lemon, to further explore this message of “#Truthdom.”
During the interview, Washington doubled down on his message for Rock to adapt and pointed out that he hasn’t been pulled over since making the switch to a Prius with tinted windows.
After centuries of adapting their very existence to appease white people to no avail, Washington seems thoroughly convinced that Black people should continue to try that road to nowhere.
“We’ve all heard that song, Mr. Washington,” The Daily Beast’s Stereo Williams wrote. “It’s past time to sing another one. We can’t continue to hop from one foot to the other in the hopes that someone will recognize our humanity; and we can’t be willing to forgo our freedom for the sake of false peace…Because racism is something that black people have had to adapt to for far too long.”
For now, Washington’s opinion is unwavering but based on social media’s response it isn’t likely that he has converted a multitude of Black people to pacified adaptors with his statement.
“Isaiah Washington traded that Benz for a Prius because he ain’t really worked since he dropped that F-Bomb,” one user tweeted. “Let’s keep it a buck.”
Another added that as long as “the Black community didn’t fall” for Washington’s poor advice, that itself is the silver lining around the dark cloud of self-blaming Black celebrities urging the community to end their own oppression by adapting for another 400 years.