Fox News co-host Juan Williams has accused a White PBS host of disinviting him from a discussion about racism in America after learning he’s from Panama.
Mr. Williams, who co-hosts “The Five,” made the comments while giving a virtual acceptance speech Tuesday during the CultureX Awards, in which he claimed he was snubbed from a PBS show addressing the George Floyd unrest last year because he’s apparently not Black enough.
“Before I responded to the invitation, it was withdrawn,” he said. “The host explained that his research showed, and here I’m going to quote him, ‘Juan’s background is 100 percent Panamanian,’ end quote. The White host said he is a fan of my work on television, but my background didn’t fit with a program about black protest. How insulting.
“Yeah, I was born in Panama,” he continued. “It’s also true that I have lived in the USA since age 4. And it’s also true that my dad is a Black man. He was born in Jamaica. My mom is a woman born in Panama to a father from India and a mother of African descent who was born in the Caribbean.”
Mr. Williams went on to reveal his full heritage, which according to Ancestry.com, is 50% African, 30% Indian and 20% from Scotland, Ireland and Norway, he said.
“Some mixing in there, no doubt, due to the history of slavery, but as you can see, I’m mostly Black,” he continued. “I know my way around a lot of people and out of a lot of stereotypical boxes.”
“When that PBS host decided that I was the wrong voice to discuss civil rights, he rejected someone who knows a lot about the subject,” he said, detailing his extensive resume of covering civil rights over the past several decades.
“Yet to a White PBS host, I’m not a good choice, not the right identity somehow to talk about our nation’s dealings with race. He saw my Central American birthplace and he put me in a box,” he continued. “Somehow that all didn’t matter to him: This is the kind of racial, cultural and gender blindness that still limits opportunities for too many in American media.”
The show Mr. Williams says snubbed him is “This is America & the World,” hosted by Dennis Wholey, Mediaite reported.
PBS said in a statement that only 23% of member stations carry the show and that it does not have control over locally produced content.
“PBS member stations are all locally owned and operated organizations that make independent scheduling decisions,” the broadcaster told The Hill. “PBS member stations acquire content from a wide variety of sources, and they always have local control over what to broadcast and when. So while this show might run on a small number of member stations, it is not offered by our national feed and is not produced by PBS.”