Honest Ignorance:<br />
Harry Potterâ Actress Doesn't Know Black People...So What?

Will.i.am and Miriam Margolyes

Color me baffled blue: An older White person made a “silly” comment over something racial.

Earlier in the week reports of Will.I.Am being “stunned” by Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes during a joint appearance on The Graham Norton Show hit the Web. While the Black Eyed Peas artist and producer was discussing his rap beginnings, the 71-year-old Brit told Will.I.Am, “I am just so fascinated by you because unfortunately I don’t know many Black people except in show business and that’s so nice.”

Will I.Am.’s “stunned” look was more like nervous laughter, but Graham and another guest, Greg Davies, downplayed her frankness with humor though Margolyes was visibly intrigued by the unknown.

After explaining why he donated 500,000 pounds to The Prince’s Trust, a charity for disadvantaged London youth, she saluted him for doing a good thing and quipped, “You’ve done the right thing and everybody admires you for it and if they don’t they better speak to me because I think that’s fantastic.”

After being questioned about various accomplishments of his lengthy music career, Miriam said to Will.I.Am.:  “You’re fabulous!”

However, she did add: “How unexpected that a rapper would do this. I don’t have a very positive attitude towards rappers. I don’t really know any, you’re the first one I’ve actually talked to.”

She made those remarks in earnest and her punishment was a bunch of headlines sensationalizing her words.

One commenter on The Daily Mail wrote: “She doesn't know a lot of Black people! You don't say that you keep it to yourself. You silly woman! And yes I am Black so I have every right to be annoyed.”

Another: “Miriam, get a life. You've lived in the UK for all this time and never spoken to a Black person until you were introduced by Graham Norton? One has to ask why...”

Some reactions were even more pointed and hostile, but she may have gotten racked over the coals in the bowels of hell known as the comments section of a given Web site (well, except here, right? Hey y’all!), I salute her for her honesty.

Besides, Miriam was not being malicious, just honest about her ignorance.

I’m not surprised she doesn’t know much about the nuances of hip-hop considering she was never the key demographic. As for pointing out that a woman living in the U.K. ought to know more Black men, that’s fair, though at the same time, the only time I've ever seen a White person near my home was when the police showed up to cuff someone.

For the record: I hate everyone equally.

Frankly, I think the closet I've been to a White person was inside a gay bar where a drunk dude felt me up in a gay bar and said I was beautiful in a strange accent I only heard otherwise on Sex and the City.

Beyond that, until Anderson Cooper and I become BFFs forever, most of my relationships with Whites have been largely professional. Could I stand to do better? Surely, but couldn’t many of us stand to get off our islands? Once that realization hit me, I made sure not to pounce on Miriam with your fellow internet terrorists.

Likewise, it’s why I took complaints over the lack of diversity in shows like Girls and Newsroom for not being “real” with a couple shots of Lawry’s. Miriam’s off color words reminded me how just how real that can be, regardless of one’s age.

The only way to fix that is to actually engage. Who knows? Maybe that seasoned woman will take the fascination she had in that interview and go find some more Black friends. In the meantime, y’all should try and friend me up with Anderson. You know, for the good of race relations.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick