Hey Race Invaders.
Look, we’ll be the first ones to admit that we aren’t perfect. I think we’ve made that pretty clear over the length and breadth of this podcast. We’re going to get things wrong, and when we do, we’ll course correct.
That being said? Sometimes being wrong feels so right. So here we are, Episode 19: Electronic Mail, where we are unabashedly assholes. Was it warranted? Well, we think so – but we invite you to be the judge.
On this episode, Alok and I respond to this email – it’s gonna get salty:
I thought your latest episode was really helpful, although I was left wondering what the “male gaze” actually is. I can read Wikipedia, but then the podcast should be more than a list of new and strange keywords to search, right? I especially had that reaction to your critique in the Margaret Cho segment where you said, ~26:00 before you waste someone’s time, try searching “strange concept 1”, “strange concept 2”, (racebending, yellowface, etc.). and I’m like: “how do I magically invent these concepts for searching with no prior exposure?” “How do I know they aren’t bogus Internet red herrings designed to mislead well-meaning people into sounding like idiots?” As if all minority people are speaking your language all the time and we whites are just ignoring them… not exactly. These are in fact somewhat arcane academic concepts specific to the field of social activism and I believe the average POC also has no reliable attachment point for the term “race-bending”.
I really appreciated the “even the best of us can get tripped up sometimes” message. That’s great for smoothing the edgy and somewhat unavoidable “We can do no wrong because we are POC” tone that seeps out of most episodes. As much as you say “we are not perfect”, your disdain for white males and their perspective is the primary topic most of the time, which can make for a challenging listen.
I have an opinion about the source of the “self-defensive crouch” that you see white people assuming (FWIW). I think that there is a more extreme form of white supremacist language that white people are more exposed to than minorities are, because it’s not broadcast publicly, and the proponents only direct their messages to other white people, so minority people get it off-hand or indirectly, but white people hear it spoken directly to them… (mostly by uneducated people that aren’t even part of your conversations probably). Not that you’ve never heard it, but you might view it as being less prevalent than more “casual white supremacy” because you are much less likely to hear it first-hand from people you know personally.
So, the white people that have compassion for minorities take a defensive stance against being associated with this extreme/uneducated group because they see the world of whites as split between those that have some compassion and desire to understand and those that basically don’t give a shit.
“we” (the more liberal bunch) feel we deserve some credit for our compassion and we hate being lumped into a single group of white supremacists, or considered as “all part of the same system”. The defensive crouch comes when the desire to be accepted as part of the solution meets perceived resistance, even in the mild form of “you aren’t nearly there yet”. I think this explanation covers me as a scientist and probably also to the Hollywood types who see themselves as activists and pretty much any professional/worldly white person accustomed to being taken seriously.
I often hear the message between the lines of your comments that “there is no way a white person can be part of the solution, because they are so invested in their position of power” or even “the only way a white person can help is by working against their own interests” (e.g. Tulsa Swinton should turn down any role that doesn’t accurately reflect her own heritage out of principle when any actor knows that’s a recipe for disaster). This is a self-defeating message. People don’t work against their own interests based on an emotional argument from a complete stranger. Much better to find a way to involve white people in whatever reform you want than to imply that their taint will spoil it…
Compassionate white people will continue to seek easy solutions, or “balm for their guilt”, that is totally true. But they are also willing to accept a bigger challenge if they aren’t pushed out altogether first. Baby steps.
It’s great that you mentioned that some people “just don’t know better” and some people are putting on an act to hide their own denial. This is true. It’s also possible that people know better in one dimension, but have blinders in a different dimension, or haven’t figured out how to apply what they know to new dimensions of race/creed/etc. There are infinite dimensions to this problem, and people’s ability to wield tools of acceptance/fairness is very much finite. This is much more related to basic human nature than to “white culture” in my view.
Anyway, I’m still following along. I would love it if you guys could have a white guy guest come in and give a little white perspective. I’d like to hear a little more healthy debate and a little less “yes, but also yes” between two hosts that obviously see eye to eye on 95% of the core issues. Disagreement on minutiae is not debate. 😛
One of my favorite episodes was the interview with the Sci-Fi author, maybe because he had a much more moderate way of presenting his views…
Thanks for your dedication, and no problem if you prefer not to read this whole email. The therapeutic part for me is still accomplished either way.
Thanks for listening to Race Invaders! If you like what you heard, please subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Look us up on Facebook and Twitter and support us if you can at our Patreon page! Thanks as ever to our brilliant sound engineer, Steve Jacoby!