Times When the Media Mixed Up Black Celebrities

Times the Media Mixed Up Black Celebrities

White privilege takes many forms. One that often gets taken for granted is the ability to go through life without being able to identify any celebrities of color other than Oprah, Michael Jackson and Urkel. Without even trying, I somehow know who wins each season of The Bachelor (hint: not the black guy), but white people can go to their graves never being able to pick a single member of the Wayans family out of a lineup. Even the mainstream media — whose job it is to get know facts like, um, WHO PEOPLE ARE — can’t seem to be bothered to figure out black stars’ identities before running with their reports. And sad to say, this is far from a one-time slip-up. Here are some egregious flubs.

#1 Aretha Franklin & Patti LaBelle

Fox News has made it part of their M.O. to undervalue anything related to African Americans, so it came as no surprise in 2018 when their reporting on the death of the legendary Aretha Franklin included a background photo of...Patti LaBelle.

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#2 Angela Bassett & Omarosa

When covering the 2018 Emmy Awards, The New York Times published a photo of Tiffany Haddish and Angela Bassett presenting an award. The problem? They captioned it as Tiffany Haddish and Omarosa Manigault Newman. And Omarosa wasn't even at the ceremony.

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#3 Whoopi Goldberg & Oprah Winfrey

During the 2016 Oscars, a site called Total Beauty tweeted a photo of Whoopi Goldberg on the red carpet, commenting on the fact that they never realized she had a tattoo. The reason they never realized it, however, is that they thought the picture was of Oprah.

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#4 Michael Clarke Duncan & Seal

Like Aretha Franklin, even death couldn't spare actor Michael Clarke Duncan from the ignorance of culturally ignorant media folks. In this instance, a Buffalo TV station reported on Duncan's death in 2012 using photos of singer Seal. You'd think the picture of him with ex-wife Heidi Klum would've given them a clue that they have the wrong guy, but I that goes to show you should never underestimate the stupidity of people.

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#5 Will.i.am & Wyclef Jean & Wale

On the night of the 2012 presidential election, reporter Blake Burman was covering the mood at Barack Obama's campaign headquarters when he motioned for the cameraman to pan to his left to an individual being interviewed. He smugly identified the person as musician Wyclef Jean, but someone offscreen apparently corrected him, and he apologized for his gaffe, saying the interviewee was in fact rapper Wale. In truth, BOTH of these numbskulls were wrong; it was Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas. But hey, thanks for playing Name That Negro!

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#6 Terrence Howard & Cuba Gooding Jr.

On the red carpet for the 2016 Emmy Awards ceremony, the Television Academy -- which presumably would be able to recognize the Emmy nominees because it PRESENTS THE AWARDS -- tweeted a picture of Terrence Howard...mistaking him for Cuba Gooding, Jr.

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#7 Bill Russell & Morgan Freeman

During Barack Obama's second inauguration in January 2013, ABC political correspondent George Stephanopoulos was commentating on the star power in the audience when legendary basketball star Bill Russell was shown on camera. Despite the fact that he was wearing a BOSTON CELTICS CAP, Stephanopoulos declared him to be actor Morgan Freeman. Presumably, someone off screen corrected him, because he soon followed up with the correct name. But in the words of Russell:

Bill Russell middle finger

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#8 Octavia Spencer & Viola Davis

Octavia won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 2012 Academy Awards, so you'd think that she would be easily recognizable at the following year's ceremony, but you'd also be very wrong. During the red carpet in 2013, E! -- you know, the channel whose sole purpose is to know things about celebrities -- showed an image of her, but labeled it as Viola Davis, her co-star in The Help.

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#9 Samuel L. Jackson & Laurence Fishburne

If there's anyone who should be able to tell the difference between two big stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne, it's an entertainment reporter from a Los Angeles TV station. But don't tell that to KTLA's Sam Rubin, who interviewed Jackson shortly after the Super Bowl in 2014. He asked the actor about a Super Bowl commercial he was in...except he wasn't in it. It was Fishburne. Oops. And Jackson thankfully did not let it slide. Get your popcorn out for this one.

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