In this 2014 clip, a Los Angeles KTLA news anchor mistakes actor Samuel L. Jackson for another black actor, Laurence Fishburne, during a live interview. Presuming confusion due to Jackson and Fishburne’s shared race, Jackson responded by berating the man with a series of comments that clarify who Jackson is and is not. In this piece, Jackson is being interviewed as a promotion for his movie Robocop and the anchor is referencing a commercial where Fishburne promotes a car that aired a week earlier during the Super Bowl. Jackson’s terse responses such as “we might all be black and famous, but we don’t all look alike” as well as “I’m the other guy…there’s more than one black guy doing a commercial” make poignant statements of how black actors are viewed as a homogenous group.
How can our predisposed notions about others act on a subconscious level? How is mistaking someone’s name and identity in this example related to an expression of an unintentional racial bias?
The other anchors in the background of the studio laugh at Samuel L. Jackson’s taunts and comments. Why? What makes this piece funny? Does Jackson think this incident is funny?
How does this incident relate to broader issues with stereotyping people of a particular race? How do stereotypes impact us in everyday experiences?
Think of the last time you accidentally called someone by a wrong name. What happened and why did you choose the name you did? How might your own biases have contributed to these mistakes?