AUSTIN, Texas – Actor Matthew McConaughey discussed race relations, prejudice and injustice in a lengthy interview with former Texas Longhorns and NFL star Emmanuel Acho.
Acho hosts an online talk show called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
McConaughey and Acho discussed the current state of the country amid the protests and demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I’m big on values and I feel them deteriorating across the board. How can I do better as a human? How can I do better as a man? How can I do better as a white man?” McConaughey asked Acho.
“You have to acknowledge that there’s a problem, so that you can take more ownership for the problem,” responded Acho. “You have to acknowledge implicit bias. You have to acknowledge that you’ll see a black man and for whatever reason, you will view them more of a threat than you will a white man, probably because society told you to.”
McConaughey said he wanted to learn and find common ground, but also expose differences between the two men. Part of the discussion centered around equality.
“It’s been an American issue forever and we continue to work and grow and evolve and debate what the definition of equality should be,” said McConaughey. “There’s unilateral equality. There’s diverse equality. It’s a topic that nobody can answer right now.”
“I do not think that there is such a thing as equality in America. The wake of slavery is still hitting African-Americans,” said Acho. “Systemic injustice, poor school systems, voter suppression. That’s why things aren’t equal only because there is still a wake from slavery. Don’t feel guilty. Just acknowledge.”
The Oscar-winning actor brought up the term “white allergies,” saying he recently learned what that meant and how it affects people without them knowing.
“Where we were raised and how we were raised, and our history growing up. There’s certain just imported, obvious ways that we are prejudice that we don’t even understand,” said McConaughey. “Even very simple things that are obvious. Whites and blacks can all have it hard, but whites never had it harder because the color of their skin. I may realize that, but I never looked at that side of the coin.”
Acho compared a white allergy to back-handed compliments he received growing up.
“I went to an affluent high school in Dallas and when I was a kid, they would all say, ‘Acho you don't even talk like you’re black or you're like an Oreo, black on the outside, white on the inside.’ Or you don't even dress like you're black. I didn't realize how offensive that was at the time,” he said.
Acho said black women also receive similar back-handed compliments, which appear to be natural during a conversation.
“Get this one. You’re so pretty for black girl. So that’s to imply that being black, I shouldn’t be pretty?” Acho said.
McConaughey, a Longview native, said that he grew up with a largely black population surrounding him, but the current movement and ongoing discussion about systemic racism has led him to look at things differently.
“I’m diving deeper into how I’m looking at things and looking at myself. How I can learn more, see things from your side,” McConaughey said.
You can see the full interview below or click here for Emmanuel Acho’s official Twitter account.