Emmanuel Acho and Van Lathan had an uncomfortable conversation.
Acho, a TV host at FS1, joined Lathan and Rachel Lindsay on the Ringer’s “Higher Learning” program last week. The conversation centered around race became combative, and Acho later accused Lathan and the podcast’s producers of “manipulating” his relationship with Lindsay as a “setfsetup” to attack him.
After Acho accused Lathan on Twitter of making a “reach” about him on the podcast, Lathan shared a clip of the conversation.
“When white people say, ‘Well, racism doesn’t exist,’ I know why they say that. Because I’ve been in them rooms when they’re saying that,” Acho said in the clip. “When I kick it with black people and they’re like, ‘All white people are racist,’ I know why you’re saying that. All the while, I have the privilege and luxury of not having generational trauma [of slavery in America], because my parents were born in Nigeria. So my method is removing some of the sting, because I don’t have that sting, and trying to deliver it in a manner that people can receive it.”
Lathan responded, “Let me tell you why what you just said offends me. You’re saying that you didn’t have generational trauma, and you didn’t mean it this way, but you saying [that] in some way meaning that your delivery method to white people is going to be either more effective or more sanitized is, to me, dangerous, and let me tell you why.
“Everybody that you just named, and what you’re talking about, does what they do in different ways. I don’t think that any of the things that they do are necessarily harmful, but what I could say, is a black man, a prominent one, acting as an emotional butler for white people, and serving them the most milquetoast, un-spicy, unseasoned brand of racial discourse and accountability possible, could definitely be harmful. Like, we’re fighting for our lives, and to me, having a conversation like that, at that particular time, it’s not that it’s a different method. Everybody has a different method. It’s that it’s the wrong method.”
Acho hosts the “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” podcast, and parlayed that success into a New York Times bestselling book.
Included with the clip that he shared, Lathan asked Acho in the tweet, “I’m not sure what you intended to convey by stating your Nigerian background frees you of “generational trauma” and takes the “sting” out of your convos with white people. But it feels like your purposefully othered yourself from the descendants of slaves. Why?”
Acho responded that he felt manipulated.
“Van, the entire conversation was a public set up,” Acho tweeted Thursday. “Your producers lured me into committing by misleading me about the topics of ‘conversation.’ You manipulated my relationship w/ Rachel in order to publicly air your grievances as opposed to preparing me for a productive dialogue.”
Acho shared a note, presumably from a producer to his publicity rep, that the topics would center on “Mostly NFL Playoffs. They’ll also probably touch on his series, Uncomfortable Conversations, The Bachelor, plus he and Rachel going to UT [University of Texas].”
Lathan answered back, “I don’t give a f–k about any of that. Sincerely. If ur not prepared to discuss things you’ve said publicly then you shouldn’t do interviews. I haven’t posted any clips until now, and that’s BECAUSE you’re Rachel’s friend. You said I reached, I posted proof I didn’t.”
Acho got in one final response.
“Van, your anger caused you to ‘suck up all the oxygen’ disabling your brilliant cohost & my friend from contributing,” he tweeted. “Your anger caused what could’ve been a fruitful conversation to be wasted. Your anger is doing more harm than good, be well my friend. You have my # if needed.”
Lindsay was previously a contestant on “The Bachelor” and later was “The Bachelorette.” She and Acho were colleagues at ESPN several years back, and she once advocated for him to get a hosting job on a “Bachelor” post-show.