MSNBC Panel On Race Gets Painfully Uncomfortable: 'I'm Actually Black'

03/18/2015 01:53 pm ET

Things got a little awkward on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" Tuesday night.

During a segment on Starbucks' new and controversial "Race Together" campaign, which seeks to have employees start open conversations about race with customers, guests Jay Smooth and "CBS Sunday Morning" contributor Nancy Giles illustrated for viewers just how uncomfortable such interactions can be.

Smooth -- who in addition to hosting a long-running hip-hop show on New York's WBAI radio station also video blogs about issues of race and culture for Fusion -- took the position that a campaign like "Race Together" fails to get at the true, systemic problems of white supremacy in America.

The conversation was largely substantive, but after host Chris Hayes rolled footage of Smooth's YouTube video “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist," things started to go off the rails.

"I can't not tease Jay about the kinda, like, brotha way he was trying to talk," Giles said. "Like, 'Hey,' with the rap music in the background, and, like, down with the people."

"I'm a rap guy!" Smooth responded, most likely seeing the train wreck coming from a mile away. But Giles continued to persist anyways.

"Yeah, I know, but it's another interesting, funny thing about race," she said. "Like, there would be some people that feel that you co-opted something like that, and other people might feel like that's his background and that's really cool, too."

Giles continued to joke with Smooth about the way he spoke in the video, until finally things came to an inevitable and cringeworthy halt.

"It's also interesting because I'm actually black, but you assumed otherwise," Smooth said. "And this is the sort of awkwardness that we can look forward to at Starbucks across America."

The exchange was good-natured throughout -- with Hayes laughing and clapping on the sidelines -- but painful to watch nonetheless.

H/T Gawker

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