Facing backlash for her comments on the Holocaust, Whoopi Goldberg said her interpretation of race is skin deep, and as a Black person, her perspective of racism is different, leading to a misrepresentation of her intentions.
“The View” host and moderator said she has been receiving hate mail since saying the Holocaust was not about race on the show Monday. Goldberg has apologized and explained her comments. She was suspended from the show for two weeks following the outrage.
“It upset a lot of people, which was never ever, ever my intention,” Goldberg said during an interview on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” late Monday. “I feel, being Black when we talk about race, it’s a very different thing to me. So I said I thought the Holocaust wasn’t about race.”
Goldberg made the comments on “The View” in response to a Tennessee school district vote to remove a book about the Holocaust from shelves because of “inappropriate language” and nudity.
“The View” co-host Ana Navarro argued that the Holocaust was “about white supremacists going after Jews.”
However, Goldberg did not back down, adding that Nazis and Jews are “two white groups of people.”
“The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other,” Goldberg said Monday. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white, Jews. It’s each other.”
Several Jewish organizations slammed Goldberg’s comments on Twitter and accused the TV host of minimizing their suffering.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: “No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race. They dehumanized them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous. #ENOUGH.”
Greenblatt also suggested that a Jewish co-host be added to the show’s cast.
Goldberg issued an apology with a statement on Twitter Monday night.
“I stand corrected. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused.”
Goldberg told Colbert in the interview, which aired later that night, that she didn’t intend to upset anyone. As a Black person, Goldberg said she thought race is “something” that can be seen, and she never considered Jews a race but instead an ethnic group. Colbert agreed that racism in America tends to be centered around skin color.
According to Britannica, the modern meaning of the term “race” is based on the categorization of people “primarily by their physical differences.” Britannica said in the United States, the term “generally refers to a group of people who have in common some visible physical traits, such as skin color, hair texture, facial features, and eye formation.”
Goldberg said she is upset that people misunderstood her, and she has been labeled anti-Semitic and a Holocaust denier when she was making a point about skin color.
The actress said the issue the Nazis had was with ethnicity. She said Nazis were white and most of the people they targeted were white people.
“When you talk about being a racist, you can’t call this racism. This was evil. This wasn’t based on skin,” she told Colbert “You couldn’t tell who was Jewish. You had to delve deeply and figure it out.”
When the [Ku Klux] Klan is coming down the street, and I’m standing with a Jewish friend — I’m going to run. But if my friend decides not to run, they’ll get passed by most times because you can’t tell most times. … That’s what I was trying to explain,” Goldberg also said. “I understand not everybody sees it that way, and I did a lot of harm to myself and people decided I was all these other things that I’m not. I get it, folks are angry, I accept that, and I did it to myself, and I’ll work hard to not think that way again.”
The Daily Beast reported some of the other co-hosts are “furious” over ABC’s decision to suspend Goldberg. Navarro defended Goldberg in an interview with the Daily Beast on Tuesday.
“I love Whoopi Goldberg. I love ‘The View,’” Navarro said on Tuesday evening. “This was an incredibly unfortunate incident. Whoopi is a lifelong ally to the Jewish community. She is not an antisemite. Period. I am sad. And I have nothing else to say.”