The YouTube Series You Need to be Watching

Have you heard of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho? If your answer is no, here's me telling you about it! 

Emmanuel Acho is a former NFL player and current sports analyst for ESPN (the youngest in history!). At the height of BLM rallies across the U.S. (Spring 2020, after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor), he began hosting a YouTube series called "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man." The channel quickly grew, which resulted in the construction of a website and as of November 2020, a book with the same title authored by Acho himself.  Black Lives Matter sign with man walking in front of it Clay Banks

Acho says that this platform is to "have the uncomfortable conversations about race that many white people have never been able to have... I want to remove the barriers for why we've never had these conversations" (uncomfortableconvos.com/about). In one episode of UCWABM, he said, "proximity breeds care and distance breeds fear." He states that there's not enough proximity between people who don't look alike, and by hosting these conversations, Acho is creating that proximity between white and black people. He opens up a much-needed dialogue and posting it publicly for everyone to see. By doing so, he's giving white people the opportunity to learn and grow from these conversations and his own experiences as a black man- and that's truly a special opportunity to have. 

Guests on Acho's YouTube series range from a California police department to Roger Goodell. Other guests include a mixed-race family, Matthew McConaughey and Chelsea Handler. Every conversation is centered around race and the role race plays in this country. Topics include political correctness, white privilege, police brutality, "cancel culture," entitlement, peaceful protesting and so much more. 

YouTube application on laptop Photo by NordWood Themes from Unsplash

There are so many reasons why I love this series. The conversational discourse is really informal yet eye-opening. It’s human. It’s personable. It’s easy to follow. In every discussion, you get to hear multiple viewpoints. Acho is an incredible host. He mediates dialogue well, and always allows his guests to share their thoughts and then makes them think from a different perspective. He answers every question his guests may have for him, and always has a thoughtful response from his perspective as a black man in America. He’s done a fantastic job of opening up this dialogue for the greater public, and in every episode encourages people to be having these conversations amongst themselves. The guests that Acho hosts are far from perfect and often very controversial (hello, Chelsea Handler). However, each episode shows their process of learning and trying to grow, which is something I personally appreciate. Like I said, it’s human. They candidly discuss their processes of understanding race and racial injustice, as well as accepting their privilege as white people. 

The thing I think I love most is that this series goes beyond just talking about these issues. There’s always a takeaway of “We can do better and here’s how….” There’s no exact science, but any start is better than staying complacent in where we as a society when it comes to the topic of racial justice. A year ago, I participated in a summit where I began to truly acknowledge my white privilege, understand what that meant and dismantle the implicit biases that have been ingrained in me. For me, UCWABM has served as a deeper dive into that, but can also be a great starting point for someone looking to begin that process... and let me tell you, it is a process. It's not easy- it's certainly uncomfortable, but so well worth it. It's something that I'm actively working on and I know I still have a lot of room to grow and learn. 

So, if you’re looking for an easy (and enjoyable) way to increase your cultural and racial awareness, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" is a perfect way to do so. Acho created it for a reason! Happy watching! 

Check out Acho's YouTube page, book and website