We are thrilled to be joined by YouTuber Professor Flowers (Claire Borealis) this week to discuss the history of Whiteness over the last 100 years, and how we can dismantle the construct of Whiteness to move forward.
CONTENT WARNING: We took up way too much space on this episode and we apologize for this misstep. We’ve noticed this as a trend with our collaborations recently and are putting mechanisms into place to prevent it in the future.
Nichole goes off about Bella Thorne and OnlyFans this week, talking about not just the careless actions of the actress, but focusing on the real baddy in the room, OnlyFans itself.
- Has Bella Thorne Really ‘Ruined’ OnlyFans? (RollingStone)
Can you perform under pressure?
Main Topic: Smashing Whiteness with Professor Flowers
We are honored to be joined by Professor Flowers this week to discuss the concept and construct of Whiteness. She guides us through the recent history of Whiteness in the United States (the last 100 years or so) to talk about this endlessly shifting, neoliberal construct we are faced with today. Then the three of us have a long, meandering talk about Whiteness itself, and how we can all, regardless of our own racial and other identities, do our part in dismantling this power structure around us and exorcising it from our behavior, beliefs, and our beds.
About our Guest Host
Claire Borealis has a YouTube channel called Professor Flowers. This channel creates video essays that analyzes media, such as movies, anime, and other videos. Currently her work is focusing on the discussion of race.
- White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism | Paula S. Rothernberg (Book)
- How Slavery Sowed the Seeds of American Collapse: America Sold its Soul to Slavery. It’s Still Paying the Price. | umair haque (Medium)
- Queering Anarchism (Book – free PDF)
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Nichole [00:00:27] Hi, everyone.
Claire [00:00:29] Hello.
Nichole [00:00:31] So many changes to my stude today. I have a chair. We have a guest. It’s a big day. It’s a very, very big day.
Callie [00:00:38] It’s a very big day.
Nichole [00:00:42] So welcome to Bitchy Shitshow. I’m Nichole.
Callie [00:00:46] And I’m Callie.
Claire [00:00:48] And I am Claire, also known as Professor Flowers.
Nichole [00:00:50] Yes! And today we’re gonna be bitching about…
Claire [00:00:55] Whiteness!
Callie [00:00:55] Dismantling whiteness, yeah.
Nichole [00:00:58] Yeah, we won’t be bitching about dismantling whiteness, but we will be bitching about whiteness.
Callie [00:01:02] Right. Yes,.
Claire [00:01:03] Absolutely.
Nichole [00:01:04] Yes. So I found, Professor Flowers, were you on Thought Slime? Did he bump you?
Claire [00:01:11] Yeah, it was crazy. I think I had like seven hundred subscribers, and Thought Slime did a shout out to a bunch of, to media and some other like Black leftists and our subscribers, like jumped like significantly. Like I was going to have like “celebrating one K!” and it went from like 700 to I think like 3500 and it was, yeah. Thanks Thought Slime! [crosstalk]
Nichole [00:01:33] Yay! I think that’s such a good example of how you cultivate your audience and that’s why I cannot stand when content creators don’t take accountability for the people who follow them. Because when I go to the people that he highlights, you always see in the comments people are like, “The eyeballs sent me!” And like there’s just so much camaraderie and support in that community. And that comes from Thought Slime.
Nichole [00:02:02] So, yes, so once they found your channel, I was like, this person is someone I need to know and work with and be friends with because I’m like, she loves a bold lip, first of all, great analysis on race. And then also you talk about like anime and other types of media and cool shit like that and I was like, this is incredible. So yeah, and you were very kind when I reached out. You were very nice and agreed to work with us. And here we are.
Callie [00:02:31] Yeah.
Nichole [00:02:33] All right. So before we get in to all of that, before I do a formal introduction for Miss Flowers, we have to bitch about Bella Thorne and OnlyFans because that’s what happened this week. This is where we’re at. So as you all may have heard, Bella Thorne, who’s an actress who I did not really know. Which is probably showing my age.
Callie [00:02:57] The subtle shade.
Claire [00:03:03] I didn’t know about her either, I was like who is she? I had no idea.
Nichole [00:03:03] I know, I was like, uh… OK. So we saw that Bella Thorne decided to go OnlyFans and there was this big promotion about her going on OnlyFans. Apparently, it’s contested if she was actually, herself, promoting that there would be nudes or if that was like a fake account who was promoting that. But either way, she ended up earning two million dollars in 48 hours by people buying, I don’t really know how it works, but they were buying access to her going live on this day. And when she did, I guess she had a picture that, like you could find in Google Images. Like it was a picture that was even already public. So I kind of heard about this, but it wasn’t really paying too much attention to it because I’m like, celebrities just being celebrities. But then As Told By Kenya did a really, really good video about it and it made me realize that there was a very obvious anticapitalist critique to be had here. And then, of course, also layers of, you know, sex work and celebrity culture.
Nichole [00:04:15] So there’s a good Rolling Stone article that kind of summarizes the whole thing. But, you know, it talks about earlier in the week, actor Bella Thorne made two million on OnlyFans. Sex workers are furious about it because what happened was a lot of people who paid were expecting to see nudes. And when that didn’t happen, they were trying to get their money back. You know, they were filing, they were contacting the company. They were filing with their credit card, like the charge was a fraud. So after that, OnlyFans quietly issued a 50 dollar cap on pay-per-view messages, and a hundred dollar cap on tips without warning or announcing any policy changes.
Nichole [00:05:02] So Savannah Solo, a sex worker and content creator saying there was no notification, we’re just now suddenly unable to get a tip over 100 or pay-per-view over 50. Apparently, OnlyFans has done this before. They are known for changing their policies overnight and without any kind of notice or warning. So the thing is like, OK, the Bella Thorne thing is annoying. But I think it also points to the way that capital always makes sure that the working class, and the poor, and sex workers don’t have good access to financial freedom. Because this is another avenue that was working for people. And then what always happens is celebrity culture takes over.
Nichole [00:05:54] So, you know, in As Told By Kenya, she was talking about podcasting, which Callie and I’ve been doing for years now, and it’s true, every fucking celebrity now has a podcast. And so you take a platform and a medium that was really powerful for like an average person to have a platform. And now it’s flooded with celebrities who are making millions of dollars off of this. And of course, people say, oh, free market, and it’s bringing people to the platform so that’s actually increasing views for everybody. But that’s not how it works. And then what happens, similar to what happened on YouTube as well, is that then the platform will change their policies to benefit celebrities and people making mainstream content. And that hurts sex workers, poor folks, queer folks, people of color, Black folks. And people who are just making a living making like leftist content. So that’s frustrating.
Nichole [00:06:59] And then also, they were talking about how sex workers so often are the ones that build these platforms up, and then they’re the ones once the platform is big and celebrities have come in to validate it, then they’re the ones who get basically shut off the platform. OnlyFans, for instance, has just deleted people’s accounts like overnight without any reason. They’re suddenly shut off from their source of income. So it’s just something that is, you know, be mad at Bella Thorne because that was annoying and irresponsible, but also like see it for the bigger picture of what it is, which is capitol’s way of controlling who can make a living doing what.
Callie [00:07:40] Yes. Yeah. And yeah, I’ll just say quickly to add to that, because they think you summed it all up beautifully. But there’s a lot, I’ve been seeing a lot of Tik-Tok videos by sex workers who are saying, like, get off OnlyFans if you can, like, go to something else. Like OnlyFans has been really antagonistic to their sex workers on the platform. Because it’s not just for sex workers, but that’s who popularized it, right, that’s like who brought in, like you said, most of the people, most of the subscribers and stuff. So they’ve always had kind of this like, they’re making a lot of money off of them, but they kind of hate that their program is, you know, dominated and known to be like primarily for sex work.
Callie [00:08:31] Like the Bella Thorne thing is a great example because everyone thought like, oh, she’s getting OnlyFans, it’s going to be nudes. Well, not necessarily. There’s a lot of people on OnlyFans who aren’t doing nudes or any of that kind of thing. But that is kind of what people expect because that’s what the app’s become to be known by. And they’re just really not great at supporting their creators on their app and they make it really hard sometimes. Like you said, deleting accounts of people. They also apparently they’re in some legal trouble right now, there’s talk that they’re like, could potentially be filing for bankruptcy, like they haven’t been paying their taxes or something. It’s kind of a mess. So there’s been a lot of tips I’ve been seeing about like if you’re going to continue to use OnlyFans, like get your money out, like as soon as you get it. Like, don’t leave it in the app. Like, take it and then move it to a separate account.
Callie [00:09:29] So there’s just a lot of issues, right, with like a society that’s dominated by this like late stage toxic capitalism, which wants to sexualize bodies, but then have such a shitty attitude towards sex workers themselves. Like use them and profit off of them, but not like give them any respect, give them any safety, no legal protections, anything like that. And it’s just really upsetting that like this one celebrity because she did something that she thought was gonna be cool or trendy just fucked up the income stream for a lot of people that, you know, rely on this work. So, yeah, just fuck OnlyFans. Apparently, there are other, some, some better alternatives out there. I don’t know what they are off the top of my head but some that, like, actually are known to work really well with the people on their platform and have like a sex worker positive attitude. So maybe consider looking into alternatives if it’s something that you’re already doing or considering getting involved in.
Nichole [00:10:38] Claire, any thoughts before we move on to a joke that Callie is going to hate me for?
Claire [00:10:43] Well, I just thought that the As Told By Kenya video was really funny, if anyone watching this hasn’t seen it.
Nichole [00:10:49] It’s so good.
Claire [00:10:49] Yeah. I just love how she’s just like, the whole time she’s just, like, yelling. And I was like, cause I was like, what’s going on, she just like comes in full blast. People are trying to make money and now they can’t! And you’re like, oh, that’s really messed up. And anything that she explains, it is just like one of the best ways to hear it, so definitely…
Nichole [00:11:06] I know.
Claire [00:11:07] I didn’t actually know who Bell Thorne or Bella Thorne… [crosstalk]
Nichole [00:11:13] I keep spelling her name wrong because I don’t know her.
Claire [00:11:20] Well, that person, I didn’t know about her and I had heard stuff about like OnlyFans but I just did not know what was going on so that video was super helpful. And yeah, it’s really messed up that there’s a celebrity who was trying to have this moment of just like, of like ha gotcha. Not really actually nude, or this is like a common picture you can Google. And then it just ended up backfiring and then it ended up screwing over so many people who make income off of that. And once again, she’s going to be fine because she makes millions of dollars but everyone else is now in a bad position, so.
Callie [00:11:56] Yes.
Nichole [00:11:56] Yes. And I just hate the rhetoric-
Callie [00:11:58] All these celebrities just need to get off these apps.
Nichole [00:12:01] Get off the apps!
Callie [00:12:01] Like, it’s not for you. Like you have so much exposure already. Like just leave us to our things and get off. Like it’s so annoying.
Nichole [00:12:13] Yeah. It’s very annoying. It’s like, what are they going to do next? Like be Uber drivers? And be like, oh my god, I made like a million in tips in like one day. It’s like stop taking… Like it’s bad enough that we have to do these things to like make an income and then you come in and take it from us. Because also just what happens is then, you know, I used to hate having a scarcity mentality. Like part of the work I’ve done, being like an anarchist and a communist and all this stuff is to be like there’s enough for everyone. Like there’s enough YouTube viewers for everybody. But honestly there’s not. There’s not when these big fucking people come in and start taking up, because the more celebrities you have, like people are gonna be watching that content. And there are so only so many hours in the day.
Nichole [00:13:04] So like when it comes to other small content creators, I still want to have this abundance mentality of, like, I don’t feel threatened by you, I feel enriched by you, and like your existence makes my existence better. But when I see these fucking celebrities and these big companies creating content, it’s like you are literally taking work away from us and you’re taking our platform away from us. Get out of here with that. And I just wanted to mention, someone brought it up in the comments, and it is probably the worst part. Well, I think the caps are pretty bad, but like, they change shit from getting paid every week to getting paid once a month. And as someone who has had that happen to them at jobs, where we go from like every other week to like monthly, it fucks you up.
Nichole [00:13:53] If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you probably have all your bills scheduled out in a different way than you would have if you’d been getting paid monthly the whole time. So shit like that. Like high cost of being poor, y’all. Like that kind of stuff will fuck you up. You can have, like it changes overnight so you can have something overdraft and it just sends you into a spiral. Because you can change like when your bills are due and stuff like that. Like I’ve had to do that to work out with different pay schedules, but you can’t do it immediately. Like you still have pro-rated stuff you have to pay out. So it’s absolutely irresponsible and it’s just another way to consolidate wealth because the people who can’t sustain that are going to be trapped in a cycle of, you know, debt and fees and whatever and have lost, you know, this this way to be a little bit autonomous and have some control over their income.
Nichole [00:14:51] And then people like Bella Thorne, you know, she’s getting dragged through this, thank god. So she may suffer some, I don’t know, whatever, but like, she’s still rich. She’s still a celebrity. She’s fine. And then it’s everyone else left behind in her wake. And to be clear, she didn’t cause this. OnlyFans jumped on an opportunity to do this.
Callie [00:15:14] Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, they’ve already been really bad at, and antagonistic towards the sex workers that use their platform. Like they like profiting off of them, but they hate that their app is associated with sex work. And so they have been difficult to work with, up to and including like literally taking money from people, you know, from the content creators. So they were already shitty.
Nichole [00:15:39] And that’s not to let her off the hook. It’s just to not let them off the hook.
Callie [00:15:43] Exactly.
Nichole [00:15:44] Because everyone’s blaming her and it’s like she, you know, she deserves some backlash here. But you really should be focused on the company because the company was the one that made that decision. And, you know, they were just waiting to be able to do stuff like this. And now that you bring up that they’re in, having financial issues, paying people out once a month makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Ugh it makes me so angry. And then in closing, I will say you cannot support sex work by not doing sex work on a sex work platform. She was saying like, oh, I wanted to legitimize sex work and I wanted to, I like support sex workers. And it’s like, but you’re not doing sex work here. And you possibly-
Claire [00:16:30] Was it just like cute pictures or? Like what was she even doing, like she wasn’t actually posting anything sexual?
Nichole [00:16:33] I, no! No, but that, I don’t want to be a bad journalist and say that she promised nudes cause again it has not been confirmed. But even just the fact that you’re going on this platform, you’re not legitimizing the work done on that platform by doing different kinds of work. Do you know what I mean? You could be if you’re like I stand with sex workers, and it was a way, like if it was controversial for you to bring your work to that platform and you were like, look, I stand with them, like, I’m gonna do what I can to help them. But that’s not what she was doing. She was being a tourist, right? Like she was dipping her toe in to make some money and then she was gunna bounce. And she didn’t take any risk herself with the content that she put out. And I just think that that’s so gross. Like, people do that all the time. I think white people especially, where it’s like, you know, I support this, but also I’m not going to actually do it myself. It’s kind of like that. There’s nothing wrong with this, but also, like, not for me, you know?
Claire [00:17:39] Yeah.
Callie [00:17:40] Yeah. I mean, I didn’t see her advertising, so I don’t know what she put out there. But if she wasn’t going to be posting any like sexually explicit material, like she could have been very clear about that. Because like I said, OnlyFans isn’t only for that kind of material. You know, like I mean, people post all kinds of things on there, it’s not just necessarily like nudes or, you know, pornographic material. So she definitely could have done that. She could have just been like, hey, I’m a fucking celebrity and if you want me to respond to your messages, then get an OnlyFans and I will. You know, like, she could have just been selling access to herself.
Callie [00:18:20] But yeah, I feel like to, no matter how she advertised it, there is this air of, like, you kind of know that you’re capitalizing on the fact that it’s like, oh my god, it’s an OnlyFans, and you know what people are going to think you’re doing. Like even if she had never really planned on, like people know, you know, like what it’s for and are going to be like, oh my god, she got an OnlyFans, I know what that means, like even if she wasn’t. So I just think it, it is kind of this like tourism into sex work where it’s like I’m just going to like post this thing and use the name recognition of OnlyFans to like get a lot of subscribers and money and use my celebrity. And it’s just really gross, honestly.
Nichole [00:19:09] It is gross.
Callie [00:19:09] She should donate all that money to the sex workers that she screwed over on that app.
Claire [00:19:18] Yeah.
Nichole [00:19:18] Agreed. All right. So we have a participatory joke today, which Callie hates. So, Claire, if you’ll be so kind.
Callie [00:19:33] Did you explain to Claire about the joke thing?
Nichole [00:19:36] Kind of.
Callie [00:19:36] Or are you just saying all this and letting her think that I’m like a monster who’s like terrible to you?
Nichole [00:19:42] I let her know it was like our thing.
Callie [00:19:42] OK.
Nichole [00:19:47] Our thing that you like hate the joke. It’s consensual.
Callie [00:19:47] OK.
Nichole [00:19:53] So, Claire, can you ask me if I can perform under pressure?
Claire [00:19:57] OK. Can you perform under pressure?
Nichole [00:20:02] No, but I can try Bohemian Rhapsody.
Claire [00:20:08] Oh, OK.
Nichole [00:20:15] Do you get it?!
Claire [00:20:15] OK.
Callie [00:20:15] Latest reaction!
Claire [00:20:15] It took me a minute to get it and I got it. And… That’s a joke!
Callie [00:20:21] That “Oh… OK.” That was so good.
Nichole [00:20:26] That was the best response ever.
Callie [00:20:27] That was just chef’s kiss. That was perfect.
Nichole [00:20:30] Oh… So that’s what you did. OK. Good for you.
Callie [00:20:34] That was amazing.
Nichole [00:20:35] That was magical, thank you.
Callie [00:20:40] Oh, my god. That’s incredible.
Nichole [00:20:48] Yes. Also, I apologize to everyone listening on the podcast because I know my clicking of my mouse is very loud, but it’s just where we’re at today. So in lieu of doing our Patreon section, I want to formally introduce our guest today. So this is Claire Borealis, a.k.a. Professor Flowers. She has a YouTube, a self-titled YouTube channel, meaning it’s called Professor Flowers. This channel creates… Is this the best intro you’ve ever had? This channel creates video essays that analyze media, such as movies, anime and other videos, and currently, her work is focusing on the discussion of race.
Nichole [00:21:29] So if you look at the show notes, a.k.a. the description box for the livestreamers, her stuff is all linked below. So in lieu of soliciting Patreon donations today, I ask that you check her stuff out. Donate to her Patreon. Follow her on Twitter. Do all the things. But if you like our stuff, you’ll like her stuff. It’s very, I think like in line with the type of topics that we generally touch on here. And just also bringing the heat. You get fired up. You go on rants. I love it. I love it every time.
Callie [00:22:09] Yeah.
Claire [00:22:09] Thank you for that.
Nichole [00:22:10] Yeah. So to kick off our main topic here today, I’ve asked Claire if she would walk us through a brief history of whiteness, and so we can all kind of get rooted in what we’re talking about today, defining it a little bit. And then we’re just going to kind of go from there on this general topic of dismantling the concept of, the construct of whiteness.
Callie [00:22:34] Mm hmm.
Claire [00:22:36] Sure. Well, whiteness is, I think something that’s really important to understand that doesn’t necessarily click for a lot of people, that didn’t click for me, for example, is that whiteness is totally just a new social construct that, it’s something that’s happened thanks to colonialism. And humans have not, the way that we divide human races, as races as we know today, did not always exist. And so the way that we have it now, where there’s white people and then everyone else who is not white, is not natural. It’s not just how you know, it’s not like how humans automatically divide themselves. And it’s very much a product of colonialism.
Claire [00:23:19] And the thing that really fascinates me about whiteness is, you know, of course, there’s like, you know, we’re going to enslave people and we’re going to remove indigenous people off their land and to take it for ourselves. There’s that that’s going on. But the thing that I really kind of get caught up on is like the past hundred years, because a lot of times people have a hard time understanding, like, why are there still so many Black communities that are in poverty when we have all these laws where, you know, anyone can do whatever we want, it’s the Emerican dream, you can just work hard and then you can be whatever you want to be. And so for me, like I asked that question myself and I learned a lot about a lot of really important parts of history that is tragic that we never learn.
Claire [00:24:06] So, for example, like in 1934, people were you know, there was like, people weren’t allowed to unionize. There were really unfair wage laborers, working conditions were horrible. And then there were all these marches that people had where there was actually like Black and white workers working together for fair wage, for fair wages and to unionize. And the government essentially granted this, but only to white laborers. And so there’s like this instance basically, so the history that I’m going over, the past hundred years of whiteness, is talking about how white people have benefited specifically from policies that have helped only white people and how those policies, because they haven’t gone to Black people, have just pretty much like screwed over Black people in the last decade. And a lot of Black communities are the result of that.
Claire [00:25:00] So the 1934 New Deal Air Act going to white people, but not being able to help Black people is one of those. There’s the G.I. Bills where people came home from war after World War Two. They were able, it helped them with housing, education, help them with loans, helped with so many things. Again, most of those benefits to veterans coming home only went to white people. And then there’s like the suburbs, you know, redlining districts is really important. Like, I won’t start going into that too much because I’ll just never stop. But like with red lining districts, essentially, like they sorted, if a Black person moved into your neighborhood, they, that neighborhood will lose value by default of the person being, of the family being Black. So they would redline the districts. So they’d be like, this is a Black neighborhood. This is a white neighborhood.
Claire [00:25:47] And like the most important thing about this is maybe not even just that, like, Black people were pretty much segregated into really horrible housing situations, but I think one of the biggest things is that, like, when it comes to the identity of being white, that’s when a lot of the identity changed. Because before you have the suburbs, you have, you know, like people who were Jewish weren’t considered white, people who were Italian immigrants weren’t considered white. There were a lot of immigrants from Europe who were not considered white, even though they’re what we would call white now. But because of the suburbs and everyone being able to live together, it was basically like, well, we’re not going to sell this house to you if you’re Black. But that’s when it’s like new white-passing started to happen where there’s like other white identity started to form, where now Jewish people are considered white, now other European immigrants are considered white and they greatly benefit off of it.
Claire [00:26:43] And I think the tragedy is, is that it could have also been like, let’s look if Black people had been allowed in these neighborhoods, I think we could have moved a lot, much more forward in dealing with a racist society because we would all, because that’s what happened with the other people who weren’t considered white. And that kind of, I think, was a few steps back, actually in racial progress was the suburbs and the segregation. And then and then, of course, like, you know, Black people lived in these, like, we only had public housing so there’s no property taxes to go to schools in many places, you know, just like just horrible housing conditions.
Claire [00:27:22] And then after that, there’s blockbusting and that leads to, blockbusting is essentially when you would have like, when there would be like a Black person who moved in and then a realtor would be like, “Hey, that Black family just moved in there. You’re your property value is going to go down, you’ve got to sell your house right away.” And so people would sell their houses and then Black people would move in and the realtor would sell that house to an overpriced, of what a Black person or a Black family could afford. Their house would go into foreclosure and they could sell that house for cheaper. And this was happening in like the 60s and 70s. Like this isn’t even like, you know, this is not that long ago. And yeah, I think those for me are like some of the, the biggest, like, moments of being white, middle class, being able to form and have, and be able to accrue wealth. And Black people literally like not being able to, not having the resources to. And that is why there are so many poor Black communities to this day. Like there are middle class Black communities, but that’s why there are so many impoverished Black communities because of even in the last century, being screwed over.
Claire [00:28:33] And so when I think of whiteness, too, I am talking about all this because I think understanding whiteness as like, I read this essay called The Possessive Investment in Whiteness where it’s like being white means like quite literally has benefited people in very real and tangible ways. And so whiteness is like a construct, an idea a mentality but there’s also like so much benefit. It’s white privilege is basically what I’m talking about. But it’s, I don’t know, it ties into whiteness, too and the white identity and like where we’re at.
Nichole [00:29:17] Yeah.
Callie [00:29:17] Yeah.
Claire [00:29:17] Oh, wait, one more thing. OK, and then-
Nichole [00:29:20] Yes.
Claire [00:29:20] Sorry.
Nichole [00:29:20] Tell us. I’m loving every minute of it.
Callie [00:29:22] No, we love, we love that energy.
Claire [00:29:25] So while all this is happening-
Nichole [00:29:25] I’m just like watching a video like [crosstalk].
Claire [00:29:31] Thank you. I talk about this stuff so much and I’m like don’t go on forever. But like another important thing is like while all this is happening, like people who are not white are seeing this happening and they’re trying to go like, hey, I’m human, like I’m white in these ways. Like you have, like that’s where the term Hispanic comes from is because you have a lot of like Latino Americans, like Mexican Americans being like, hey, like I can pass as white. And so you have all these people, you have Asian-Americans trying to pass as white. You have all these people trying to have proximity to whiteness because that means they’ll literally have the resources to live. And that’s happening throughout all of this as well. And so, again, like whiteness is actually being able to have those resources. And yeah, that was it, yeah.
Callie [00:30:22] Which explains in part why like colorism then is such a problem even in like, you know, marginalized communities, right, because you’d think like you would feel solidarity but there, everyone is striving for this, like to achieve whiteness and all the spoils that come with it. And what I’m really excited for us to talk about today, because that was such a perfect jumping off point, is how that’s like such a fool’s bargain. Like this, the promise of whiteness, while people obviously have gained a lot of privilege, power and money from it, it’s also like fucked a lot of people over and just the world in general. And so it’s like this, it’s sad that so many people are like, have sold out to it and it’s like it’s such a toxic and empty promise.
Nichole [00:31:17] It’s literally the devil. It’s literally like the devil’s bargain, right, like you are selling yourself out to have… Now not to judge too much like people who are trying to survive. It’s complicated, obviously. But, yeah, we see that. And I just actually listened yesterday to an episode of the Red Nation podcast, and they had on, I forget his name, I’ll link it in the description, but they had on a Black leader to talk about Black misleadership, which is something the Black Agenda Report kind of came up with and classified, where it’s your Kamala Harris types, your Obama types, your Killer Mike types who are people who again have achieved some sort of proximity to wealth and power. And then they’re used to try to pull their communities along towards this sort of like Neoliberal whiteness, or even they said it’s something that’s happened for a long time so it’s not even just neo liberalism.
Nichole [00:32:23] But this is something that just happens in a lot of communities. I think that’s at the heart of white women and why they’re the devils, we’re the devils, I don’t identify as a woman but you know what I mean. I’ll acknowledge my complacency. But it’s, you know, it’s this trying to appeal to the patriarchy, right? Like we have the whiteness so we’re trying to appeal to the patriarchy and capitalism and colonialism to get as much power and protection as possible. In the meantime, just completely crushing everyone else beneath us and being okay with that, justifying that. And I like how you brought up the, that it’s people trying to, like, define themselves as human or more human and thereby defining other people as not that, right, like a subhuman or not human. Because I think that really is it. Because there’s so much violence and inherent in colonialism and white supremacy and capitalism that like you, that you have to do that first and foremost. Right, you have to say we’re human, these other people aren’t so don’t worry about what happens to them, in order to start that segregation and that divide between people. It’s yeah, it’s very upsetting.
Callie [00:33:43] Yeah.
Nichole [00:33:44] I wanted to add to this little kind of educational portion that I read a really good article by Umair… Why am I forgetting his last name? Anyway, sorry, I’ll link, this is linked already. But I follow this economist and he talks about, he talked about how wages starting in 1971 became stagnant and have not recovered to this day. Which is something we talked about recently in our youth oppression episode, how tuition costs have increased dramatically and yet wages have not. And yet a requirement to have a degree to have a job has increased, which is a way that they keep people in debt. So he ties this to, 1971 was the date that ended segregation. So the US lost this labor force that they had been exploiting and they’re like, what are we going to do?
Nichole [00:34:45] So you have this whole history of reconstruction and Jim Crow. And then we move into things like wage stagnation and mass incarceration and these other mechanisms that they use, even high interest rates, redlining, as Claire was talking about. There are all these ways to prevent Black folks from being able to accrue wealth, accrue political power, and also to keep them, to not have any social mobility. Right, because if you can’t accrue wealth, you can’t get a job that pays properly, you have to go to school to get a job and you’re paying more for that than other people are. You’re paying more for your house and your car, everything is more. And even when you buy a house now, your house doesn’t have the same wealth to it, it’s not the same level of an asset that it would be in a white neighborhood. These are all ways to keep wealth where they want it to be, which is with white people. And specifically straight, white, Christian, you know.
Nichole [00:35:47] We’ve talked about it before, but the ideal man is wealthy, able-bodied, Christian, a man, cis gender etc.. And that’s what’s occurred to me recently, is thinking about things like I feel like white supremacy, I was watching, on For Harriet she did a collaboration with some Indian women talking about Indian Matchmaker, I promise this is going somewhere, or Indian matchmaking. It’s a show on Netflix where it’s all about Indian matchmaking. It follows this one matchmaker in particular and shows her trying to find matches for people. And so they did kind of a breakdown like talking about it as Indian women like how they thought the representation was and just issues that might come up in it. And they talked about the caste system and they were talking about how it was like a mechanism for identifying like who is allowed to have wealth. And it was so simple that it just kind of it never occurred to me to think of white supremacy in that way. But when you look at it, that really is what’s happening. It’s like who is allowed to accumulate and hold on to wealth? And it kind of like blew my mind a little bit.
Nichole [00:37:05] And I don’t know why, it doesn’t necessarily change much, but it just made the mechanism so clear. And I think it makes it clear on how this allowing some people to get some proximity to that, allowing some people to acquire a bit of wealth who aren’t classified as white is, you know, it’s a bribe that they offer people. Like, OK, if you’re going to sell out other people, then you can accumulate some wealth and some power. But at the end of the day, we’re always trying to get it to be back up here. Right, like white people are always the ultimate. They might make some concessions to keep things under control, but they’re always, like that is always the goal is to really get that back up to them.
Nichole [00:37:51] So I think just from what you were saying and then also understanding like the wage stagnation and the way that this has, I think it can help explain some tensions that we have when talking about race with like poor white people. It’s like, yes, you have been systemically targeted, but you are still also white. And it can explain the very real lived experiences of people who are like life seems to be getting harder, I don’t have money, I am trying, you know, I can’t make a living. It’s like that’s true and it’s valid and it is by design. But understand that what you’re experiencing now is a fraction of what people have experienced historically. And so just use that to understand how this system works, you know, instead of just saying, like, this is my pain and so I don’t need to listen to other people’s pain or I don’t need to see it in a racialized way.
Callie [00:38:47] Yeah, well, and I think a big piece of whiteness is that it really heavily individualizes people. Right, it’s weird that in a way, it like collectivized whiteness, right, because Professor Flowers, as you were saying, like, these groups weren’t considered white. Like the Irish were the Irish. You know, Italians were Italians, like Jewish were Jewish. Like they weren’t all together but once they were able to just kind of pass as this white identity to move into these suburbs, they lost a lot of their cultural ties and they became whiteness and had a clearer path to the kind of like power and money that they saw, like the upper class elites having, right.
Callie [00:39:29] And it also, like it’s weird that it collectivized people, but also like whiteness relies so heavily on people being individuals. You know, you’re in a suburb, you’re kind of more cut off from city living, which feels a little bit more like cohabitive, you know, like you’re all kind of all on top of each other, sometimes literally in a building. And, you know, you have your little neighborhood stores and stuff. The suburbs are all a little bit more distant and cut off and, and it’s easier to make people feel kind of like alone and separate. And so white people, I think, struggle to feel a sense of community and they look at this and they think like, oh, my pain. Like my family’s struggling. And it’s like, yeah but it’s like they’re entire communities, entire histories of this and like, see the parallels in that, you know?
Callie [00:40:26] What’s happening to people is horrible, but it is by design, and it’s also like there could be a lot more power found in seeing some real solidarity. But they’ve been tricked that like everything in capitalism is you should be able to pull up your bootstraps and just get through it and not worry about what everyone else is going through because you’re trying to get what you need. And it’s like yeah but if you all got together, we would all get what we need. It’s the sad part, you know? This lie of, of solidarity. Not solidarity, this individualism is really tragic.
Claire [00:41:05] Yeah absolutely.
Nichole [00:41:06] Yeah. Yeah I think that’s what happens when the goal is to hoard wealth, right, is that like you need people further and further away from you to protect that wealth. That’s why we have cops, right, It’s why we have the laws that we do. It’s all about like, hey, if someone’s accrued some wealth, we need to make sure that they keep it and they grow it and that no one else can take it. And it is, I was on a kind of a community call, I guess you’d say, the other day where we were talking about police brutality and we had one person on the call who is like an “all lives matter” person. And I didn’t get to, like, talk to her as much as I would have liked to but, you know, she went off about like her Scottish ancestry and how the Scots were treated. And, and I was like… And then she talked about being a single mom and not being able to get help from the state and just really struggling.
Nichole [00:42:01] And I was like, your experience is extremely valid. Like, and I was like, I grew up in poverty, I was not able to get help even though I was making like not a living wage. And I totally understand that struggle. But what you need to understand is that is all rooted in racism. You are not having a separate experience of like this is what happens to poor white people. This is something that is stemming out of our country’s legacy of racism and use that to understand that when we say Black Lives Matter, we are saying all lives matter because Black lives have been so… Because the violence that is done to all of us right now is stemming out of like a colonialist and racist space. So it is fighting for everybody. But we’re saying like this is coming out of these people’s disenfranchisement and if we want things to get better, that’s where we need to focus our energy and efforts.
Callie [00:43:01] Yeah.
Nichole [00:43:01] And then everyone jumped in and she got very defensive. But I think it’s a common, and I think it’s just very common for people to have that, they stop at their own experience and they don’t understand like actually… Like the fact that we don’t have universal programs literally stems out of racism. It’s because people are like, I don’t want them having it so I’m willing to go without to prevent them from having it. That is the country we live in. That’s the world we live in, but particularly in the US, that is literally things that have formed our policies in this country.
Callie [00:43:37] Yeah. Yeah, and unfortunately, so much of it started with white people, poor white people selling out and agreeing to be the first iteration of policemen, right, and saying, like, oh, I’m gonna get some favor and power by, like, trying to, like to join in and hunting down slaves, right? It’s like you literally thought you were getting something by hurting people that you had a lot more in common with than the people that you thought you were joining. Like they were never going to let you part of their club. So, like way to fucking go. Like you just, like you hurt people that should never have continued to be hurt, and continue to be hurt in general, and you hurt yourselves and everyone else’s legacy. Like that’s the thing that pisses me off. It’s like women selling out and doing things like for the patriarchy. And it’s like you do realize this is like fucking you over, right? Like, you’re not actually getting any, getting what you think you’re getting.
Callie [00:44:48] Hillary is such a good example of that. And I can’t even believe that I’m like bringing her up. But I think it’s… Yeah it’s just white people selling out to whiteness and losing their, a lot of their cultural ties, losing a lot of their history for this like empty, white supremist… Like, I mean, what is whiteness even? It’s one of those things that’s like hard to define. And I think that’s the powerful, that’s something powerful to take away from it, right, is it’s like empty. It’s not really a thing. It’s like, it’s the absence of a lot of things in a way. It’s consumerism. It’s white supremacy. It’s this individualistic, like bootstrap mentality. It’s capitalism. It’s nothing that’s like enriching. It’s nothing that’s like we can look at and be like, oh, that feels really special, or that feels like something I want to, like, keep and pass down. It’s like shitty sitcoms and pop music. And racism. And it’s sad. I mean, there’s like generations of people suffering and they don’t know why. And it’s like…
Claire [00:46:14] Yeah, whiteness is just so fascinating to me. I took this class called Problematizing Whiteness and I, like I had to take some sort of like, I don’t know, like some sort of, it was for my like, to graduate, it was like a general ed class. And I was like, oh, this looks interesting. And I thought everyone in the class was going to be like mostly white in there because they had to fulfill some sort of requirements but it was like mostly people of color. And our teacher, her name’s Dr. Cheryl Matteus, she’s really awesome. But she, we start off the class being, like, talking about racism. And we watch this clip from The Blindside where, I don’t know if you ever seen it, but I forgot the actor’s name. But basically, it’s-
Callie [00:47:03] Sandra Bullock?
Claire [00:47:04] Sandra Bullock’s in it, yes! And there’s a scene where she, like, walks by these two, or like these two Black guys walk by her and she kind of like pulls her purse away. And they’re like, “What was that? That was super racist.” And it kind of like paints them as being oversensitive. And anyways, we’re analyzing the scene and we’re talking about like, you know, what racism did we see? And we like start talking about how the Black men were treated and so on. And the teacher was like, right, but like, what is this white person doing? And we’re like, oh, well, she’s like pulling away. And then we went on to analyze more of the movie and we kept on talking about, like, what are the Black people going through or what are the people of color going through? And the teacher was like, no, what is the white person doing? And we’d be like, oh, well, I guess like really specifically we need to look at that.
Claire [00:47:53] And that class kind of put a lot of stuff about racism on over its head, because whenever we talk about racism, we are talking about like what people of color are going through, which we should be doing. It’s really tragic. But it’s also like, I mean in this essay I read called the Possessive Investment in Whiteness, like the first paragraph, it was like, we don’t actually have a, it was like, hold on, wait sorry, it’s right here… OK, so it says, “There isn’t any Negro problem; there is only a white problem.” And it’s just like, yeah, that’s actually it. So like when you’re talking about whiteness, it’s like you’re talking about this like power structure that’s like, that’s been like reinforced over hundreds of years about what it means to be white and what it means to be not white. And it’s just like there. You know, we’re all like the products of it but there’s not like, you know, it’s not like… I don’t know, it’s like, it’s so fluid and it’s so, so hard to define because it’s, so much of it is actually just the status quo, of like when we’re talking about whiteness. And it’s crazy because like yeah, talking about whiteness I think is so important… I’m kind of ranting a little bit, but talking about whiteness-
Nichole [00:49:06] Do it!
Callie [00:49:06] No, this is great.
Claire [00:49:09] I just think it’s so important because when we talk about race, we’re talking about like people of color, which is like, that’s good. But it’s like ultimately this problem comes down to, not necessarily like white people, but whiteness as an ideology, as a set of beliefs, as a set of actions. And that’s like the issue, like when it comes to racism. Like that, actually, whiteness is the issue. Dismantling whiteness is dismantling racism. They’re the exact same thing. And it’s yeah, I just I, I didn’t know, I didn’t really understand that for a long time. And finally when I took this class, it was like that’s the thing that we need to be talking about and I could finally put my finger on it. It’s not just that we need to, like, feel bad and be aware about what’s happening to people of color. We need to, like, get rid of this toxic mentality.
Callie [00:50:03] Yeah.
Nichole [00:50:03] Yeah, that’s like, I tell people, you know, when we’re talking about, say, police murder and someone’s like, well more white people are killed than Black people. Like I get why it’s important to focus on Black murder. But I’m like, but if you’re starting with someone who thinks it’s OK for cops to kill, period, do you see what I’m saying? Like maybe start deconstructing like why do you think it’s okay for police to just kill people? Because they do kill, they kill an average of like eleven hundred people a year, like a thousand to eleven hundred people a year. And yeah, a lot of them are white. So yeah, we can talk about stats and proportions and populations and stuff, but it’s like, but if you’re starting with someone who is fine with that, you need to step back.
Nichole [00:50:55] And that is still doing anti-racist work. And that’s where I get a little bit frustrated with how we talk about race. This is why I wanted to have this conversation with how, you know, like when everyone was recommending White Fragility, we criticized that and we got a lot of pushback. But to me it becomes this environment, kind of like what you were saying, of people focusing on it as like self-improvement work, or they just need to be aware of their own actions. And it’s like, yeah sure, that’s definitely a part of it. Like, please learn about microaggressions, learn about your biases, learn what your privilege is, like understand that. But, but the work is bigger and further back than that.
Nichole [00:51:38] Like the work is us collectively looking at the system, the whiteness and saying like, OK, so maybe I have this privilege. But like why, you know, I have this privilege because people have been coded to be okay to do violence on, or people being coded to be OK to like not allow access to wealth or to political power. Like, we need to start further back. And I think when you’re doing that work, then you obviously, you like dismantle, well, you interrogate your own privilege. And what I never see them telling people, it’s like check your privilege, do this, do that. Yes. But I never see someone saying dismantle whiteness. I never see someone saying help us attack the entire construct of whiteness. Like to even get people to do anticapitalist work is a huge fucking fight, right? And then to tell them to, like, dismantle whiteness? It just, people aren’t having that. I’m not saying no one’s having that conversation, obviously a lot of amazing people are. But when you look at the mainstream, it’s like read this book, learn about microaggressions, stop doing them, donate to this fund, and then you’re done! Like, you did the work, great!
Claire [00:52:51] Pat yourself on the back, it’s over! Yeah, I totally agree. Like in mainstream, or not even mainstream because like I feel like a lot of mainstream media, like can’t tackle racism because they’re so terrified of, like even-
Nichole [00:53:04] Well they’re invested in it too, right?
Callie [00:53:06] Yeah.
Claire [00:53:06] Yeah, like as much as I loved Black Panther, there’s like so many like… Like they had to make the bad guy a Black person and so the stuff that was coming out of Fearmonger… Like, it’s like it’s good to think about like what do we do with the position we’re in? Do we like, become violent or do we, like, try to get back to our communities? And it’s a problem that places it as either or.
Nichole [00:53:34] Yeah.
Claire [00:53:34] It’s like, that’s kind of like, as much as I love Black Panther, it has a special place in my heart, it’s like the discourse around race was not… It was all right. It was OK. And that’s kind of like the most nuanced discourse I’ve seen in mainstream media.
Nichole [00:53:53] Yeah.
Callie [00:53:53] Yeah.
Claire [00:53:55] Just, and yeah. So but then, and Left Tube, I don’t really see people… Like I see some people, I’ve seen some, so I met some smaller channels who are about the same size as me who are talking about it that I just didn’t know about. And that’s, that’s actually really cool. It’s given me hope but there’s just like not a lot of, like people will talk about racism without talking about whiteness. And that’s a, that is a massive problem.
Nichole [00:54:20] Yeah, it is.
Claire [00:54:20] That’s like, yeah. And so we, that’s the thing that we need to really be discussing. Especially if we’re leftists like and we want, and we’re serious about ending racism. That is the thing that we need to really understand.
Nichole [00:54:33] Yeah. The only person I’ve seen publicly tackling it, that I’ve seen, is Emerican Johnson. I’ve seen on his Twitter, he’s constantly like, eradicate whiteness, eradicate whiteness. And he gets so much fucking pushback on it. And I’m like, of course. Like you can even be in a very far left space and people are like, “Whoa, I was with you there for a minute, but now…” But you’re right, like, it’s not, and even with him doing that work, and I haven’t watched, like, everything on his channel, but I don’t know that he’s done like content around, and he might be planning to, but I don’t, you just don’t see a lot of content around like this concept, this construct in like what do we do about it?
Claire [00:55:24] Yeah.
Nichole [00:55:24] I don’t need to check my privilege as much as I need to destroy the privilege that I have, right?
Callie [00:55:30] Right.
Claire [00:55:30] Yeah, yes!
Nichole [00:55:30] I need to give it away. If I’m checking my privilege, it means I’m retaining it.
Callie [00:55:36] Thank you!
Nichole [00:55:36] It means I’m aware of it and I’m keeping it and I’m happy with that. And that’s why I got mad. You know, I even saw some Black leaders saying, like, if you wanna, like, get rid of your privilege, like donate to this fund. And it’s like, but you’re still putting the control of that in the hands of white people and then you’re making it transactional where they’re going to donate and then feel like they’ve done the work. You’re also alienating poor white people who don’t have money to donate but might be open to, like, helping in other ways.
Nichole [00:56:11] And to me, again, it’s that, like, stepping back to actually attack whiteness, to say I’m not going to donate because I’m just, because I have white guilt, I’m going to donate because this is a comrade who’s in need and I help my comrades in need, right? Because if you do that, then you do actually do anti-racist work and you can have those conversations that are specific to certain struggles in certain communities and what they experience. But like, if you’re not back at where, I’m just gonna help someone because it’s the right thing to do and I can, then you’re not actually doing anti-racist work, in my opinion. You’re operating out of white guilt. And that’s not going to get us anywhere, that’s not the actual work.
Claire [00:56:53] We just don’t need more of that.
Nichole [00:56:53] No, no.
Callie [00:56:53] No.
Claire [00:56:53] Oh gosh. There’s this Key and Peele sketch where, I don’t know if you ever watch Key and Peele, but like, they’re at a bar and like someone like bumps into them and goes like, hey oh, sorry, I bumped into you. Oh, by the way, like, racism really sucks. And it’s just like, they’re just like white people bringing up racism and like, yeah I’m so sorry about that. And they’re like, it’s fine or like, that’s just how it is. And yeah, I have a lot of experiences of that where it’s like, I’m glad that, at least it’s, I’ll take that over like, someone telling you that racism doesn’t exist, and life, what are you upset about? I’ll take it over that but it’s still a very like not at all going to move anything forwards to just have this guilt.
Callie [00:57:41] Yes.
Claire [00:57:42] And that’s why I think it’s important to talk about whiteness because I think people, I think there are a lot of people who actually, like if they understood kind of like what whiteness is and like what we’re dealing with, then they might be able to lose some of that white guilt and with that deeper understanding, be able to do something with a deeper understanding. Because I think a lot of people just don’t know. And I think talking about whiteness can hopefully, like for some people, move that understanding and conversation forward. Because I think a lot of people are stuck in that white guilt and they don’t know what to do with it. Or maybe they don’t understand that they don’t need to feel guilty, they just need to, like, dismantle whiteness and what that means.
Nichole [00:58:24] Mm hmm, yeah.
Callie [00:58:24] Yeah. Well, and I think that there could be real power. And this is, I don’t exactly have the answers on how we do this, but I think maybe showing white people that whiteness is a construct and it is not who they are, and they can like, they can dismantle it. Like they can remove themselves from whiteness and find some power, some solidarity, find comrades like find a supportive community. Like that they don’t have to keep participating in it. Like when we say we need to dismantle whiteness, we’re not saying like we need to get rid of all white people. We’re saying we need to, like, dismantle whiteness, right?
Callie [00:59:10] And I think it’s those conversations like that you were just talking about, Nichole. Like the idea of like you’re trying to convince a white person, right, that we should care about Black Lives Matter. And they’re like, well the cops kill more white people. And instead of that response of like, well, you’re just being racist because like the purport, it’s like that’s a problem, too. Like, why do you think that it’s OK that the state can murder people with impunity and without finding them guilty first? Like, that’s a real issue we should talk about. But I don’t exactly know how to do that without, like that kind of feels to me like it’s letting people, for lack of a better phrase, like off the hook.
Callie [00:59:54] You know, like we don’t want to avoid conversations where white people like own up to the racism that we have participated in, both directly and indirectly. But it’s also maybe a way through, like letting people have a little emotional distance. Because it’s really hard to do the work when you still feel like you’re in it. Right, like, I always think of it like, so when I went vegan, it took me like probably a year into eating plant based before I was, like, really ready to engage with any of, like, the ethical conversations around veganism, right? And I think it’s because, like, I needed that distance to not be participating in the harm to, like, really take a deep look at what the harm was. And it was really difficult. You know, like I had a lot of, I sobbed my way through many a book about how animals are exploited. And I think there, we can kind of learn from that, right?
Callie [01:00:56] Like, I think we can look at this and say, like, how do we help people that feel like they’re suffering, because they are, get a little emotional distance from the system and realize, like, we’re not necessarily attacking you as a person and blaming you for, like, systemic racism. But like, you need some distance to, like, process all of this. And like there will be time for accountability and to have those conversations because we’re not going to be able to build anything different if people aren’t, like, really analyzing, right, their biases and their racism and all of that stuff. But, yeah, I just, I don’t, like I said, I don’t exactly know how to do it because it feels like, we have this culture of like every, the woke white people spend like all of their time talking about personal actions and doing this like public-
Nichole [01:01:51] Yeah, it’s exhausting.
Callie [01:01:51] This public flogging of themselves. Like white people think that doing the work is just by constantly being like, oh my god, I was like, we’re all so racist, I’m so sorry, let me give my money to someone else, you know? And it’s like, that’s really gross first and foremost and it’s not actually doing any real work. And it comes out of this mindset of white fragility. I mean, that was our major critique with that book, was that it amplifies this culture of like white people taking individual actions and thinking that once they do A, B and C, that like they get this like anti-racist certificate and get to be like, I’ve read White Fragility, I own my privilege. And it’s like yeah but by owning it…
Nichole [01:02:35] You’re owning it.
Callie [01:02:36] Like what you two were just talking about, you’re keeping it.
Nichole [01:02:36] You’re retaining, you’re retaining ownership as well.
Callie [01:02:41] Yes! Yeah, and it keeps us from real solidarity because I don’t want to interact with the world where I’m always like, oh my god, I’m a white person, that’s a Black person, I need to talk to them in a way where I’m like constantly acknowledging them being Black. And like you were just talking about in that skit, Professor Flowers, like a white person bumps into them and be like, oh my god, racism right? And it’s like that’s really disgusting if that’s how you’re viewing the world. Like, acknowledge history, but also don’t keep that as some sort of, like, barrier between you and anyone. Like, how are you going to find solidarity that way if you feel like all these people in your life, you’re walking on egg shells and always having to be like, oh my god, I watch all the, the documentaries and the movies about racism. And it’s like, ew, I’m just a person at Happy Hour, like chill the fuck out.
Claire [01:03:39] Totally.
Nichole [01:03:39] Yeah, I just want to talk about anime and live my life.
Callie [01:03:44] Right.
Claire [01:03:44] Yeah, I like have other things I want to engage with. Super weird.
Callie [01:03:45] Yeah. It flattens people down into this list of like either privileges or marginalizations, right? And that’s, that’s not the way that we’re gonna build any sort of coalition, you know?
Claire [01:03:58] No.
Nichole [01:04:00] Yeah. Well, and that’s why I wanted to have this conversation, because I think it’s a construct of neoliberalism that has been so effective and subtle, is that literally the way that we talk about race is segregating, right? It is creating guilt, which either creates fragility or creates resistance, which is really fragility but I think you know I’m saying. Like it either create a person who’s like leaking guilt all the time and just wallowing in their guilt, or creates someone who’s like, fuck you, like, I’m not open to this at all and this challenges, like my idea, my experience of the world.
Nichole [01:04:45] And like Callie, I think to your point, because I agree, because of that conditioning, I still have this like, ahh, response to being like, well, hey, maybe not focus on the specific, maybe focus on more general. Because we’re taught that that is us like coddling white people or performing whiteness. But I think too, what I’ve been kind of chewing on is that maybe a way through that is to say, if I’m going to have a conversation with someone, I’m going to get in a relationship with them. I’m not going to try to like, bam! Like hit their racism. You know, like, oh I know the line for this, and I’m just going to tell you you’re bad and move on, or have the one liner, but say like, OK, if I’m going to do this work – as a white person, I’m saying – if I’m going to do this work, then I’m gonna be invested in this person’s journey.
Nichole [01:05:37] So maybe I can start with the more general. Maybe I can talk about whiteness as a construct in tackling some of these ways that it controls our view of other people before I get into, like, the specific stuff. And I can feel okay about that, not like I’m letting them off the hook because I’m continuing this work with them. And that can’t always happen, but I just think we need to put more importance on the deep psychologic, not psychological, the deep philosophical seeds that we can plant with people and stop, we don’t see that as the work. Right, we see it as the work when we like burn someone or we like shut it down. And it’s, listen, I shut people down all the time. It happens, I’m not perfect. I don’t have conversations the way I wish I did a lot of the time. But I think we don’t see someone who’s, like, willing to take the time to really talk to somebody as like, as important as a person who’s willing to shut someone down and stand up and be like, that’s racist.
Claire [01:06:44] Yeah. I just… I was talking about this on my like Pokémon on stream, but like, Saber, who’s another YouTuber who has a channel. We were talking and, we were talking about Emerican Johnson and we were talking about how patient he is and how like, I just, I don’t have that patience though.
Nichole [01:07:04] I don’t either.
Claire [01:07:05] I don’t, yeah. It’s like, I’m like he’s doing the Lord’s work but I just, I don’t know if I can do that. I grew up around… And like I know you’re also saying like specifically like as a white person doing that, so but it’s still like, it’s like I wish I had that patience to sit down with people. I feel like I tried that for such a long time because I grew up, so I was adopted and I grew up in a white family and I grew up around like white conservative Christians. And they are very, like the conservative Christians I grew up around with are super, super racist. Like, you know, like just in their missions work alone. They’re like, we got to go to all these places where brown people live and we got to show them God because they’re poor because, not because of a complex economic issue, they’re poor because they need Jesus.
Claire [01:07:50] And it’s just like being a brown person around this group of people was extremely stressful because they just thought so poorly of me. And I would try to like, you know, talk with them. Like I kind of grew up with a lot of internalized self-hatred. And then when I was like, oh, this is because of racism. And I like try to talk to them and be like, hey, I like when you look down on me because I am brown, like, I’m not, this is not a specific example of, like, I don’t know, like people just would think that I was like uneducated or like they thought that all Black people came from a ghetto. And I’d be like, I just grew up in the same suburb as you did, like down the street. Like I would try to explain to them like these things are very like insensitive and racist and like your view of Black people being incapable of learning, for example, is very hurtful.
Claire [01:08:37] Or like I would try to explain this to people and people just get so mad and they’re like, you can’t call me racist and I’d be like, okay, well, maybe you’re, let’s say your actions are being racist or like that what you said was racist. And I’ll say that to make you feel a little bit better, because being called a racist is hurtful. So at the very least, your actions are racist and people would just still lose it. And it’s like, well, I don’t know what else to call it, because that’s exactly what it is and I’m also not trying to say this in a hateful way. It’s just, I came at it from like educational like, oh, they may not know. They just may not know so, like, let me just try to engage. And that went horribly every time.
Claire [01:09:20] And it’s never gone well, the only times it’s gone well are people who are already like, yeah, racism is an issue and they already have acknowledged it. So like for people who are like, that are like I don’t understand like why Black people are complaining, or other people of color complaining, like, I don’t know how to have that… It’s like it’s really important for people to be able have the patience and talk and have relationships. But it’s also like I just don’t know, like I actually stopped talking to certain people in my life because I’m like, I’m not going to try to convince you of anything. I’m really not sure what to do because it is important to have conversations. But it’s also like, you know, it’s very exhausting.
Callie [01:10:05] Yeah.
Nichole [01:10:05] Well I think a part of it can be like the content that we put out too. And I think you do that really well, you know?
Claire [01:10:14] Thanks.
Nichole [01:10:14] And I think like there’s other people, you know, like I look at, like Sonya Renee Taylor and… There’s someone else. But I think, like, a lot of the content that they put out is kind of that starting point. It’s that like deconstructing whiteness kind of content. So if you don’t, and I’m not saying, like, you have to do this, but it’s just something that I think about. Like we, one of my things that I cannot have a conversation about is rape culture. I can’t do it. Like I can’t do it without just getting really upset. And I can’t, like, talk to someone who doesn’t believe it’s a thing or, you know, thinks that there’s cases where it’s fine or whatever. But Callie and I have done a lot of, a lot of work around consent in our content that I think like, you know, that’s the best shot if someone listens to it and is able to, like, chew on that in their own time, then maybe it’ll bring them around.
Nichole [01:11:20] But it is, it’s a huge question because even as a white person like there’s only so far I can get with someone who’s being racist before I can’t do it. You know, like before I hit that wall where, because I care and I feel it and I just think it’s like… You know, you do hit a point where you’re like, I just don’t think I can get through to this person and I tried everything I know how to try and now it’s just, you know, impacting me. And it’s not, it seems almost like be pushing that person further into their belief system, I guess, is my point. So, yeah, I don’t really have any good answers. But I do think like as content creators, and I think even when you post out to social media, anyone who has any kind of a platform, even just your person, like as a regular person, your platform, you can be putting this kind of philosophy out and hopefully that’s starting something for that person.
Nichole [01:12:28] But I do think, I mean, it’s a good point to bring up because I do think if someone’s willing to do the work, then getting into a relationship with them is a good thing. But there’s a lot of people who are not. And I think it’s important to point out, like as activists and particularly people who are marginalized, do tend to take it on themselves to like try to humanize themselves with people. And that’s really degrading work. And so I never want to, like, promote this as like that’s something you should do. Or as an activist like, your job is to just go out and have conversations with these types of people 24/7. I just think if you are, so like for me, when I was on that call, I don’t typically engage with people directly in that way but I knew the call was coming, so I put myself in that headspace, and I’m like, I’m going to try. I’m going to try. I’ll do my best. And I’ll do what I can to protect myself to, like, not let it sink too far in so when I get off the call. Didn’t work, I had terrible anxiety for week after but I tried.
Nichole [01:13:36] You know, but it was also a space for that person was coming in knowing that they were going to hear opinions that were opposite to theirs and that it was supposed to be an open conversation. So to me, it was like, OK, this person’s at least shown some level of like their wanting, they’re open in some way to this experience, so I’m going to do my best to meet them there and talk to them out of that space. And what ended up happening is there were some, you know, minoritized people on the call who got very upset and like, shut it down. And it was, I think that’s why I had such bad anxiety after, because I felt like should I have done something differently? Should I have shut it down, you know? And it just, there was a lot of anxiety around, like. What the purpose of the call was and what kind of damage might have been done on it. You know, particularly for the vulnerable people. You know, I was like, did this just reaffirm for them that, like, white people don’t fucking care about them? You know, just it just made me feel bad. And it was supposed to be a call where it was like, let’s try to, like, come together and understand each other’s perspective. And it just didn’t quite work out that way.
Claire [01:14:57] That stuff is-
Nichole [01:14:57] And I… Go ahead.
Claire [01:14:58] Oh, sorry. Well that stuff is hard because, like, I feel like that’s, some of like the issues like on like Left Tube and stuff is like, should we like, and this is something that like I don’t have a clear opinion on myself. But it’s like how… Like debate channels where it’s like we’re going to debate a Nazi today.
Nichole [01:15:17] No. No, no, no.
Claire [01:15:18] Or a Neo-Nazi. Like they, there are people who are like, I, you know, I was in the alt-right pipeline and I like, listened to this debate, so it was like, oh, like the people I listen to are really dumb. Holy cow, I never noticed until I listened to this debate. And they start to come over to a less radicalized viewpoint. And that’s cool. But it’s also like, you know, like I think for me I would have a hard time debating… I don’t know, I don’t know, it’s like it’s hard because it’s like also sometimes like if I was debating someone about like the validity of like just being a Black person and how I’m human, it’s like my humanity. I’m just not going to have my humanity be on the line. I’m a human being. You know, it’s science is also has, you know, has this backed up as well. It’s not really just an opinion and it’s like it’s, yeah.
Claire [01:16:08] And so it’s like a very, it’s to me, it’s like degrading to have to debate my humanity or debate the humanity of others. And like, but then also sometimes those debates, like, for example, like Sabor and I were talking about, like Emerican Johnson, like trying to engage. Like he’ll tried to really be like, hey, for those of you who don’t know what anarchism is, for example, I just want to invite you to talk. And he’s so inviting to people who are like have these like potentially like hateful views. And like I would imagine that if he talks about racism, he’d probably be inviting and like that inviting, you know, posture has actually helped people be like, oh, like this is, the way that these, I’m just being racist. I’m just being a racist asshole, that’s what’s going on, and I don’t want to be that anymore. And it’s been helpful. I go back and forth on this a lot about like is it helpful, like engaging with those people and in public spaces and like what to do with that. It’s like it’s all very tricky and I don’t quite have like a definitive opinion on that stuff, but.
Nichole [01:17:24] Yeah. No, it’s something we think about a lot. And just because it happens, right, you see it online happening a lot. And I honestly have come to the conclusion that, even if it does get through to certain people, I think what it does is it still reinforces like the white patriarchy. Because it’s a very, like white male way of interacting. And so that’s when you see these guys will come, usually guys, like will come over into the leftist space, but they’re still in this, like, “debate me bro” kind of mentality or everything’s like cold male logic and they’re still in, and they may go like, a lot of times they’re good allies in the sense that they have that energy to like go debate other people, like they’re the people who like tirelessly are online debating people and like not getting worn down by that.
Claire [01:18:21] That’s amazing, yeah, that’s a superpower.
Nichole [01:18:23] But. I know, it is a super power.
Claire [01:18:29] I’m like immediately like, oh god, I just, I can’t.
Nichole [01:18:29] But we’ve been doing so much work this year on like queerness and anarchism and all of these things that the more I read through text and like theory, the more it seems like so many of these people are saying, like, be soft, build community. Like it’s just this kind of counter. Like your you’re still performing a very white way of being anti-racist if that makes sense. So I’ve just come to the conclusion, not for me, literally never. I will never debate someone. I will have a conversation with someone possibly if it’s in good faith. But I’m with you, I don’t really know online like… I don’t know if it’s good that it happens or not. I’m leaning towards not because I think-
Claire [01:19:21] It’s a little bit cathartic too. It’s like, it’s like when you hear like a Neo-Nazi, be like, wow, Black people just aren’t people. And then someone is like, no. And they just like whip out like all these sources. It’s a little bit cathartic to be like yeah, like this person’s being very, you know, they’re very ignorant is all it is. And it’s something, like there’s something cathartic about it. But it’s also like, yeah, it’s maybe not the most helpful thing.
Callie [01:19:49] Yeah.
Nichole [01:19:50] Mm hmm, yeah.
Claire [01:19:50] I yeah, I don’t know. I kind of, it’s also like really entertaining, I don’t know, I don’t want to make this all about like debating online or not. I kind of get fascinated by the ethics of it.
Nichole [01:20:03] Yeah. No I do too.
Callie [01:20:04] Well I think it’s an important, I think it is an important piece of this discussion of dismantling whiteness. I think that is a part of whiteness, right? Like the, when you go into a debate, right, like you’re trying to win points. You’re trying to convince the other person of something. And it means you’re, it’s almost like poker, right, like you’re willing to, like, put your chips on the table and have them dissected both by the person you’re debating, but also the audience. And I think there is something inherently violent about like willingly putting your humanity as a chip on the table to be like consumed. You know, as a part of the discussion. Like, you shouldn’t, we shouldn’t be debating people’s right to exist. Like, we shouldn’t ask minoritized people to, like, put a piece of themselves out there and have someone else be, whether that person is minoritized in the same way or not, like we shouldn’t, these things shouldn’t be up for debate.
Callie [01:21:04] I think there’s a lot of times too that, and that’s just, that’s what’s always bothered me about like debate culture, is it’s not about building a connection. It’s not about like really sitting down with someone. It’s this very kind of, like the first thing you learn in debate, right, if it’s something you’re actually, a skill you’re actually trying to learn, it’s to debate any side. It’s they literally force you into these situations where it’s like, OK, debate something you believe in now, debate the opposite. And it’s like that just feels really wrong to me, because like, obviously, there are certain things we should not willingly discuss from the opposite perspective.
Claire [01:21:45] Yeah. I mean it’s like one thing for like something, I don’t know, something random. But when it’s like literally like the lives of human beings.
Nichole [01:21:50] Yeah, yeah.
Callie [01:21:50] Right.
Claire [01:21:52] You know, we shouldn’t be doing this.
Callie [01:21:53] Yeah, exactly. I also think, too, to your earlier discussion, I think it’s a very specific skill. It’s funny, Nichole and I we’re talking about this a lot this week after, you know, she was telling me about this call that she was on. I think not everyone should have to be able to do this work of like engaging in conversations with people who don’t already have some level of, like understanding or empathy towards, you know, the discussion. I think that’s something that content creators, that activists, that even just people who like care about a certain topic, they always feel this pressure of like I need to be able to have these conversations. It’s like you really don’t, because a part of doing this work is about like tapping into this deep well of empathy that we all have within us. And that can be really emotional and that can be really difficult. And then to have to, like, go into conversations with people who are gonna say really harmful shit, even if it’s not even about an identity that you have, it can still be painful, right?
Callie [01:23:01] Like, I feel like when you really build true solidarity and, with another group, you don’t obviously take on those characteristics. Like the pain you feel will be a fraction of what someone else feels. But it’s still real. Like if I were to engage in a conversation with someone about like racism like that would still be painful to me. Like if I was talking to someone and they were saying harmful shit, like that would be upsetting. And not that that isn’t work that needs to be done, but it should be done by people who like can do that kind of work. And I think, like Emerican Johnson’s a great example. Like he does have this very warm… He or they, actually? I can’t remember now.
Claire [01:23:41] I think it’s like he and they.
Callie [01:23:44] OK, I thought so but I just was like, oh no! Because I remember seeing them talking about being nonbinary. But anyway, if he’s someone who like has that kind of energy and likes to do that kind of thing, then great. But like that doesn’t mean that we all need to look at that, especially as other Left Tubers and be like, oh, we should all be able to do that then. You know, I think that’s kind of a misconception about the whole thing. And then I was also just going to add that I think we put too much stock in thinking that we have to reach everyone and that if there are people saying and doing racist things and like that needs to, like, be handled.
Callie [01:24:26] But I think, I think the fact that Gen-Z is so much more woke T.M. than previous generations. You know, we’re seeing this whole uprising right now with the Black Lives Matter movement and all these marches in the street. And I think the fact that millennials and Gen-Z have truly suffered under capitalism and are seeing the veneer of the promise of our capitalist society, like the promise of those things doesn’t exist for us anymore. Right, and I think that’s a way that we can really break through whiteness. Right, because that’s one of the promises of whiteness is the spoils of capitalism. And I think while this is deeply unsettling, I think we maybe get to a point where some people were just like, we’re not really worried about you, you’re going to be in a minority and not going to be around forever. And we’re just going to focus on like building, building community with people who are, like, already open to these conversations.
Callie [01:25:40] You know, I think we reach people that already kind of see beyond these false promises and we build solidarity there. And we don’t necessarily worry so much about like, you know, if your grandparents who are like homophobic or racist or whatever, don’t agree, like maybe don’t waste all your energy debating with them because they’re not really the problem. Right, like, we can build something new with people that already are somewhat invested in this struggle. Because it’s hitting us in so many different ways. I mean, like Gen-Z especially like they are so much more like queer and radical and anticapitalist and really, don’t, not all of them obviously, but don’t kind of understand the systemic racism that we have. Like, they’re just like, what do you fuckin mean. Like, of course. Of course. Black lives matter, like why is this even a thing, you know? And already see the problems inherently in cops.
Callie [01:26:39] And I think that’s like a way that we can start reaching even maybe like other white people, obviously white people would be doing this work, but like showing them. Like, hey, all these things that you already see are a problem, are struggling, are a part of this whiteness construct. And you can fight it, like we can really fight it as a whole. And this is just a piece of it because it’s harming you, too. And they see that more clearly than I think any other generation has.
Claire [01:27:11] Yeah, yeah. Gen-Z gives me a lot of hope.
Nichole [01:27:16] Same.
Claire [01:27:16] Yeah. They’re just, I mean, obviously this is not everyone, but they just seem to be like so much more aware, like politically aware. And I remember when I was a teenager, I was not that politically aware about things. It took me a minute to be like, oh wow, like all these issues are like, actually do tie into like a lot of these political issues, or are a direct result of a lot of these political issues and makes me want to do something about it. I think a lot of people in Gen-Z are thinking that way because we’ve all just gone through a lot of shit. Like all the school shootings that they’ve gone through. It’s crazy. Like they literally have to be like in terror of is someone going to shoot up their school. And then now having, like a lot of the Gen-Zers are going to college and there’s a pandemic happening where they have to, like, be at home and it’s like supposed to be like this really important time of their life.
Claire [01:28:06] There’s just like so much stuff where it’s like, you know, and they’re going through, we’re all going through, another recession. And so it’s like there’s just so much stuff where we’re like yeah, like, this isn’t working. So let’s work together to try to fix things. And I feel like Gen-Z is like, for the most part, pretty down for that and that gives me a lot of hope. And I definitely think that it’s, yeah, I think I’ve been leaning more towards trying to reach people who already might care about this stuff and, or like have the potential to care about this stuff instead of just focusing on people, like focusing on people who are already like very right leaning who are very dismissive of all these issues.
Nichole [01:28:43] Yeah.
Callie [01:28:45] Yeah.
Claire [01:28:45] And I think that’s a way, like you were saying, like I think that’s a way better use of our energy. Because yeah, I felt so exhausted just trying to convince like family members who are conservative Christians. And like not trying to knock anyone who’s Christian because like there are Christians out there who can be, like, very loving and very empathetic. But I think, like specifically conservative Christianity generally creates a lot of, a lot of issues. And so my family was like conservative Christian, I wasted a lot of energy trying to be like, hey, like this is an issue. And, you know, they don’t, a lot of conservative Christians just don’t really want to hear about it or learn about it, so.
Nichole [01:29:25] Yeah.
Callie [01:29:26] Well whiteness is, I mean, that’s, Christianity is kind of a funny example too, right? Because like, if Jesus existed, and we’re an atheist channel so that’s a whole nother discussion that we could have. But like if he did, he was not a white man. Like he was also preaching like basically the opposite of what this like white supremacist colonial capitalist culture was.
Nichole [01:29:53] Yeah. He was a socialist.
Claire [01:29:53] Yeah.
Callie [01:29:53] Right? And that is interesting too, that like the whiteness construct that’s like baked into this like Western Christianity is all wrong. And so, of course, those people are not actually going to be following through on the, supposed to be the basic principles of what Christianity was supposed to be because whiteness was keeping them from seeing it. You know, it was supposed to be like love your neighbor, like don’t hoard wealth, like all this stuff, and no.
Claire [01:30:20] Yeah, it’s like the opposite of conservative Christianity.
Callie [01:30:23] Yeah, exactly. Like, don’t judge. I mean, like all this stuff about like not judging sex workers, not shaming women for how they’re, like dressed their bodies like all this stuff. And it’s like they literally took the opposite of all of that. Because that, everything they took, is whiteness. It’s the might makes right mentality. And… Big yikes on that.
Nichole [01:30:46] Yeah. They had to write a new book because people are like, whoa, whoa, whoa, this is a lot.
Callie [01:30:52] Yeah.
Nichole [01:30:53] This is a little rough. And they were like, OK, we changed it, it’s nicer now. People are like, cool.
Callie [01:30:59] Yeah.
Nichole [01:31:00] Although after listening to CountraPoints’ latest video I am kind of having this-
Claire [01:31:06] That’s the one on-
Nichole [01:31:06] Justice (Part 1).
Claire [01:31:07] I love that! She has this cute cat outfit.
Nichole [01:31:12] It was so cute. I love how she’s just leaning into this whole cat girl thing. I forget what it’s called but.
Claire [01:31:18] It’s actually cat woman.
Nichole [01:31:20] Oh yeah, OK. That was so funny when it was like *Catwoman.
Claire [01:31:24] Yeah.
Nichole [01:31:26] Anyway, the way she was describing Jesus, I was like, is Jesus a fucking lib? I think he might be.
Claire [01:31:33] Yeah.
Nichole [01:31:34] We will have to analyze that some other time. But yeah, I was like, woah, woah. I was like, okay, so the Old Testament is like fascism and the New Testament is like neoliberalism.
Claire [01:31:46] Yeah.
Nichole [01:31:47] Yeah.
Callie [01:31:47] Wow.
Claire [01:31:49] I don’t know if you all grew up religious, but when I was, I used to be Christian and very like, very like a born again Christian and all of that. Yeah, that was something that always bothered me, was like the Old Testament is like, you know, like Job’s like, why did you kill my whole family? And God’s like, who are you? Where were you when the earth was made? And Job’s like, oh I’m [crosstalk].
Nichole [01:32:12] Nice flex, God.
Claire [01:32:13] And Jesus is like super like loving and kind, but they’re also supposed to be like one and I was so confused by that. But yeah, I mean I think a lot of Christians-
Nichole [01:32:20] Yeah. It’s fucking child abuse.
Callie [01:32:24] Yeah, the original bad daddy.
Claire [01:32:27] Yeah.
Nichole [01:32:28] [crosstalk.] It’s that original parent who’s like sometimes I’m nice but sometimes I’m not going to be and you’re not going to know where it’s coming from.
Callie [01:32:33] So you better be good or else I could literally smite your whole world, like…
Nichole [01:32:37] I’m literally always watching.
Claire [01:32:40] Did you read that story where it was like, I forgot that like priest’s name. But it’s like in the Old Testament and he was bald and some kids made fun of him for being bald. And then he called, he prayed to God and a bear came and killed the kids and ate them.
Nichole [01:32:55] Oh my god.
Claire [01:32:55] Sorry. That’s like maybe a little bit too much.
Nichole [01:32:56] I shouldn’t laugh, but like, sorry, woah.
Claire [01:33:01] [crosstalk] even though it was a little bit too morbid. But I’m just like, when I was a kid I was like, isn’t this a bit much? And I swear to you-
Callie [01:33:10] A bit much! That’s like the best way, “this is a bit much.”
Claire [01:33:12] And the preacher is like, well it just had to happen. And I’m like, there’s so much stuff like that in the Old Testament. Where you’re, you know, like someone does something wrong on an accident or something and then, like, something horrible happens to them. But then the New Testament, like Jesus is pretty chill. Like he has, he does some stuff where I’m kind of like that’s annoying. Like this guy comes to him and is like, Jesus, my dad just died but I want to follow you. Can I bury my dad and then follow you? Jesus is like, no, you have to drop everything you’re doing and you have to follow me. And I’m like, that’s a little annoying. But for the most part, he’s talking about loving people, you know, like don’t hate sex workers, don’t hate people who are not, you know, have the same Puritan culture as you. You know, don’t hoard your wealth, you know?
Claire [01:33:57] And it’s so weird to me that, like, you know, conservatives, because the thing is, is like a lot of conservatives will be like, you’ll be like, well, if you, you know, a lot of the stuff that’s like anti-homosexual, first off, doesn’t translate to homosexuality as we know it now. But second off, those verses are like in the same list of shit like don’t wear mixed fabric.
Callie [01:34:17] Yeah.
Nichole [01:34:18] Right.
Claire [01:34:18] You know? And it’s like, so why are we following it? And they’re like, well, in New Testament, there’s like, they’ll go back to the New Testament and be like, there’s still some versus on it and, but they’ll always go back to the New Testament. But it’s crazy because a lot of Christians will go back to the New Testament and yet they’ll still believe, they’ll still kind of have this very conservative view, even though that’s not Jesus at all.
Callie [01:34:39] Yeah.
Nichole [01:34:39] Yeah.
Callie [01:34:40] Well because the whole thing is bullshit, to be honest. Like it’s just… It’s just, yeah. I mean, listen, I don’t wanna be like an asshole if someone wants to, you know, be a Christian, whatever. But like, I just, just then say that you have these secular beliefs. We’ve talked about this before on the channel, but this way of like people bringing in secular beliefs and being like this is actually what Jesus stood for, it’s like… I mean, you’re just believing whatever you want because someone else is going to tell you that the opposite is true of the Bible. And it’s been translated and mistranslated and all this stuff. Yeah, I saw this whole history about like, that the word that people think means that like the Bible’s against homosexuality was actually like pedophilia and it was like mistranslated like way back in the-
Nichole [01:35:29] Oh, how convenient.
Callie [01:35:30] You know, fifteen hundreds or something like that.
Claire [01:35:33] There are a lot of things like that. But it’s almost beside the point though.
Callie [01:35:36] Right. Exactly. Exactly. It’s like you’re just using something else to justify whiteness, right? You just want to have these beliefs, like you don’t really care about what any of that means, because-
Nichole [01:35:50] I always just like this separation of like belief from values or ethics.
Callie [01:35:53] Yeah, yeah.
Nichole [01:35:55] You know, like I think religion? Totally fine. But don’t say that the religion is giving you your ethics and values. They should just be based on your experiences like a person, you know? Because that’s where we get into trouble. Right, that’s what our country is tearing itself apart over is Christian values. And it’s like those aren’t Christian values. Those are your values as a conservative person. And they may be reinforced and justified by the type of Christianity that someone is, that you’re consuming, but those aren’t… You know? It just, I hate it. I hate it so much.
Callie [01:36:29] Yeah.
Claire [01:36:31] [crosstalk] to think that like we have to… Because like also, like it’s, if you want to also try to convince Christians like, hey, it’s not wrong to be gay because it’s like, you know, it’s just there’s nothing like immoral happening here. And the only reason why you have an issue with it is because the Bible. And then you have to, you have to like go into the Bible and like you have to bring up like, well, this word was mistranslated, it’s talking about pedophilia. It’s not talking about homosexuality as we know it. And then sometimes, like, you can get Christians to be like, oh, well, that’s OK. But you still can’t get married and you have to, like, go into the Bible again to be like well, maybe you can like bend this verse to, like, help you not be so homophobic. And it’s just like at the end of the day, I think resting your ethics upon this like 2000 year old book that has all this contradicting information is just like not a good way to go.
Nichole [01:37:28] Yeah. I can understand like reading it or listening to sermons and just feeling, I mean, there’s so much community there. There’s literal science to show that like prayer and meditation are both very physically beneficial, immensely beneficial. So it’s like that is all fine to get inspired, like to be inspired by the kindness of Jesus I think it’s great. But then to go into, like, legislating people’s bodies and rights based on this stuff.
Claire [01:37:59] Yeah.
Callie [01:38:00] Yeah.
Nichole [01:38:01] No.
Callie [01:38:02] It’s almost as if we were like actually translating like fairy tales or something into like real policy. And it’s like you’re supposed to kind of be inspired by these stories.
Nichole [01:38:16] Like parables, yeah.
Callie [01:38:16] Yeah, and the messages in them. But you’re not really supposed to translate that into, like, the way you live your life and or like laws. You know, like you shouldn’t read something like Little Red Riding Hood or something and be like, how do I, like, actually apply this to real world? It’s like take some of the, take some of the story in it and like figure out what it’s speaking to. Is it talking about like not being greedy or whatever.
Claire [01:38:43] Don’t talk to wolves.
Callie [01:38:44] Right. Yes, exactly! It would be like someone reading that or like what’s this, Goldilocks, right. It would be someone like reading Goldilocks and being like it means don’t steal from bears so we’re going to create a law about not stealing from bears. It’s like that’s not really what that meant, you know?
Nichole [01:39:03] Or we’re going to police wolves because of Little Red Riding Hood and it’s like no, that’s not…
Callie [01:39:09] Right. Yeah.
Nichole [01:39:09] Not what we should be doing.
Callie [01:39:10] Yeah, exactly.
Nichole [01:39:13] But anyway.
Callie [01:39:17] Yeah, totally got off on a side tangent, but I love it.
Nichole [01:39:20] Very on brand.
Callie [01:39:20] I do want to circle back. Oh, sorry, go ahead.
Nichole [01:39:22] I think you’re segueing to where we’re I’m segueing.
Callie [01:39:26] OK. Well, I just wanted to circle back to the whole Gen-Z thing because I saw some comments about it and I wanted to clarify. So I’m definitely not one of those people who is just kind of like, oh my god, Gen-Z is going to save us. We’re going to, like, throw our hands up and just, like, praise y’all and expect you to, like, save the world. Like, I, I definitely. There is real work that needs to be done. And it’s not even like the entire Gen-Z, like obviously they don’t all think the same way or believe the same things so we can’t just rely on that. My point earlier was just that like I think there’s a really powerful in whenever you can show someone that they’re also being harmed by these same systems. And I think Gen-Z is so powerful in that unfortunately, they never really ever have had the promise of these benefits, right?
Callie [01:40:17] Like, I saw a really interesting Tik-Tok the other day where someone was describing kind of the difference in mindset between millennials and Gen-Z kind of overall. And one of it was that like millennials, when we were younger, a lot of us had some hope. Like the promise of capitalism hadn’t really been, like, ripped away yet. A lot of us were young before 9/11 really happened. We had some years before, you know, the Patriot Act and the recession and all that stuff. And so there is this kind of like rosy outlook that some people had. But like, Gen-Z never really had that, like they always were living in this, like, kind of terrorism of like 9/11 had already happened. They already didn’t have any privacy rights and the Patriot Act, they suffered under the constant fear of school shootings and gun violence and the economy being bad.
Callie [01:41:16] And so I think that’s a really interesting comparison and why I think there can be so much power and solidarity with Gen-Z and millennials and this like building of the new future. I think this view that these neoliberal systems are going to save us, like voting, doesn’t really exist there, you know, because people already see like this isn’t working. It’s, this is all some big sham. And so I think, I think there is a lot we can do to show Gen-Z and the other people within, you know, millennial generation that they don’t need to participate in whiteness anymore. Like they can reject it and actually, we can make things better if they do. If that makes sense.
Nichole [01:42:08] I take hope from them just because I think it’s like proof of what happens when you have class solidarity, and what happens when people understand the systems that they’re operating under. And you see, that’s Gen-Z is what happens. You see massive solidarity. You see people putting their bodies in the streets and willing to throw down to be like, no more, we’re not doing this and we’re gonna protect these people, right, like, we’re not going to stand for this. And it just, it’s kind of like anarchy in motion, right? Like it’s like a proof that, like, this ideology works when you get through to people. And unfortunately, they had to, they have this analysis because they’ve lived it. But when you show people like capitalism is collapsing, we’re falling into fascism. This whole thing is-
Callie [01:43:00] Bullshit.
Nichole [01:43:00] You know, yeah, it’s all bullshit. And this is all, like whatever pain you have is valid and it’s all coming from the same place, which is racism, so we’ve got to bust that shit up, right, by dismantling whiteness. And I think they’re just a good proof point that like that fucking works. They’re a whole generation of people who are like, yeah, we get it. And this is, this is what happens when people get it. Now we’ve got to get everyone else in that head state and then it’ll be good. But yeah.
Callie [01:43:37] Well, I think I, first of all, thank you for taking my half-baked point and turning it into something intelligent. But I think there, I think if we focus on like building, keeping to build the solidarity between Gen-Z and millennials and really pushing this like deconstructing whiteness and pushing back against capitalism and kind of rejecting all these neoliberal solutions, like I think others will fall in line. Like, I think the problem is that like a boomer… How old are boomers now? I always forget where the actual cut off is. But Generation X especially, I feel like if they can see that things can get better and solidarity can be built, they won’t necessarily, not all of them obviously, but I don’t know that they’ll like stand in the way as much as, like, boomers are.
Callie [01:44:33] Because boomers really did benefit, a lot of them, and retained a lot of like wealth and power and privilege, and they’re just trying to, like, ride out the rest of their retirement. Right, if they retired. But I think we don’t necessarily need to focus our efforts on convincing Gen X. Right, I think once you show people that things can get better, if there’s enough like of a movement swelling upwards, then people will fall in line. People will see that there is a reason to, like, stop believing in these neoliberal solutions. To disconnect themselves from whiteness a bit, you know? That’s what I was trying to say earlier. I think we focus too much on, like, convincing people. And I don’t know that, I think it just wastes a lot of time and energy. I think we try to, like, build solidarity and build a coalition with people who already have a reason to want to, like, join in. And I think that that’s a lot of people and I think there can be a lot of power there. You know, instead of just spinning our wheels, like arguing at people who like, yeah, a lot of Gen X are disillusioned, too. But I think too many of them have enough reasons to, like, stay in the current system unless we really, like, shake it up.
Nichole [01:45:59] Yeah, or America will collapse and they’ll have no choice.
Callie [01:46:03] Also that.
Claire [01:46:06] I think of how things are and I’m like, huh. Maybe we’ll just, you know, I mean, even things like COVID, like this pandemic, it’s like, I think it’s like radicalized or-
Nichole [01:46:16] A lot of people.
Claire [01:46:17] Yeah. I kind of hate the word radicalized, because I feel like things we want are just like things that other countries have. And like there are some things that like other countries aren’t doing. But it’s just like, you know, health care or like even like housing to a degree is like, like a lot of European countries like don’t have issues with people experiencing homelessness because they’ll just house people and it actually is like cheaper and more practical and we’re just like not doing it.
Nichole [01:46:46] Imagine that.
Callie [01:46:50] No, no, people expecting food and shelter is radical, OK?
Claire [01:46:56] Radicalized! But I think that a lot of people, like gosh, like it’s just gotten so bad, like with the evictions that are taking place right now and the fact that people like literally like can’t, or couldn’t work because of the quarantine and then it took them a long time to get another job. And it’s like I think a lot of people, I mean I think people knew the system wasn’t working for them, but it’s like, the ability to be like this is why we need something like socialism to, like, take care of the needs of people and people be like, oh, like I knew this system wasn’t working for me but I didn’t actually anywhere to turn to. And also, like I’ve heard a lot of bad things about socialism, that it’s like evil but god, capitalism sure isn’t working out so great. So we learn more about it. It’s gotten people to, it’s gotten more people to be like, oh, this is an actual viable solution to things. And like in addition to like Bernie Sanders too as well. And I think it’s been a ton of people, a lot of people kind of like raising class consciousness and whatnot.
Callie [01:48:09] Yeah.
Nichole [01:48:10] Yeah, I agree.
Claire [01:48:11] Unfortunately, because of all the bad things happening.
Callie [01:48:15] Yeah, although-
Nichole [01:48:15] Yeah, like [crosstalk] thing about Sanders, I think he did help normalize socialist ideas, but I honestly think the way the DNC handled his campaign was more radicalizing for people than even his campaign itself. Because there was such a mask off moment of like they’re literally not going to let us have this. You know, and I think that was very radicalizing for people.
Callie [01:48:39] Yeah, I mean, they literally don’t care what people want. They could not have made that more clear. And I think that’s powerful, you know, and I’m really, like I’m obviously not super familiar with this term. So like but the whole accelerationist like ideology of like, oh, I want things to get worse so that people participate. Like, I don’t necessarily agree with that. But I think something that’s like missing from these conversations is that things are bad and they always have been, like we don’t need to cheer on them getting worse in order for people to wake up. We just have to show people that things are actually not as good as the media is trying to tell them they are. Like, that’s the whole point, right?
Callie [01:49:24] Like people look at someone like Biden, they’re like oh, he’s a return to normalcy and it will be better. It’s like, no things are pretty bad under Biden too, you just think that those things are normal and they’re not, you know? So, and I think there’s power in that and I think the fact that Gen-Z and millennials like already know that they’re bad. Like they already know they can’t, they’re never gonna be able to, like, buy homes or retire or, you know, the fact that they’re still living with several roommates and just all the things, right? Like constant terror of gun violence and also like not, the threat of something happens and if you don’t have health insurance, like, your life could be incredibly fucked. You know, mountain and mountain of debt. Like that’s already enough to show people that, like all of these promises that your parents and grandparents got like don’t exist for you. So why do you feel any responsibility? Why do you feel any, like, kinship to the system? Like it’s not for you. It’s never gonna do anything for you. So burn it down.
Claire [01:50:30] Yeah!
Nichole [01:50:33] So, I know we’ve been going for almost two hours now. I would say, to bring it back around to the topic at hand, did we have any particular points of, you know, how to, how people can dismantle whiteness should they want to do that work? So versus how they could try to do this work with other people, how can people dismantle whiteness within themselves?
Claire [01:50:59] Well, my thoughts on that, because I thought about this for a bit. And I definitely don’t think I have like, this is how to do it. I think, like, whenever I try to have this conversation, it’s like really hard for people to understand what whiteness is as a racial identity because we’re so used to thinking of it like, being white is kind of like the default of like what everyone’s not. Or that being white is like being the norm, like, quote unquote norm. And so, like, I, for me like the first step to even try to talk about whiteness would be to like, in my last video or one of my last videos, I talked about gender and how, like maintaining the status quo of gender is very similar to maintaining the status quo of race. And I think that similarly, I want to maybe try to make a video on whiteness exclusively and talk about how, like there are gender identities that are forced onto us, like the binary gender. And we have all these really specific ideas of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. And like, those things are really clearly ingrained in us.
Claire [01:52:01] And then for me, like, I’ve had a moment where I’m like, this is kind of bullshit. I don’t want to do X, Y and Z or like what it means to be a woman. Like, I don’t fit into this. And I felt really sad about that at first. I was like, oh, I’m a failure. I fucked up because, you know, I don’t want to, I don’t know, like I don’t know if I want to have kids or I don’t know if I want to like, or like I’m not like, beautiful in these ways or so on. And then you’re like, like I realized like, oh, that’s all just like bullshit. Like, I don’t have to feel bad about it. And that’s why I think, like, having all these different ideas of gender and that being able to choose those freely is great because then you don’t have to feel bad all the time because you don’t fit into one of the two boxes.
Claire [01:52:44] And yeah, there’s like a very clear, like this is an identity. And I want to try to use that analogy to point out to like the identity of like what whiteness is. And so it’s like I think whiteness is like a little bit trickier than gender. But it’s still very much like the status quo of what it means to be white. And I think like understanding like whiteness as, you know, for example, like the way that, I brought up in one of the videos like how Black people dress where it’s like, well, if there is a Black person wearing baggy pants, they’re looked down on. If there’s a Black person using slang, then that’s considered to be like bad. It’s considered to be morally wrong. And so, like just as gender identities are kind of used to, like, make people feel bad if they don’t fit into binary gender, so is race.
Claire [01:53:30] And I think, like pointing out like these are the ways that, like, we use race over people to make people feel good or to make people feel shitty, I think that can like point out the existence of whiteness. And then like after that, after that, I’m not sure because like I actually a couple friends who are white and I feel like they actually have, like, at least dismantled whiteness in their own, their own views. They’ve like cast off this like white identity because they are aware how oppressive it is and they’re willing to call it out and not continuously like benefit off of the benefits of white privilege. But it’s like after that, it’s like, what’s the next, what’s the next step? And I think the next step would be like, like continuing to dismantle whiteness. And doing that, it’s like, well, because like dismantling whiteness is also like, I don’t think you can really dismantle capitalism without dismantling whiteness. And so like-
Nichole [01:54:25] Yeah, I agree.
Claire [01:54:25] Yeah, but like how do we do that? I don’t know. Sorry, I feel really silly but I’m like that’s kind of where I’m like, I’m not sure.
Callie [01:54:35] No!
Nichole [01:54:36] No, but I think even like asking these questions and having these prompts, like is the work, right?
Callie [01:54:41] Yeah, yeah.
Nichole [01:54:43] These are the things that we can collectively kind of like, think about and work on together and make content about, right, that helps other people think about it. Yeah, like closely tied in, I think, to what you were kind of getting at and saying is, you know, I was thinking I just read a book about queer anarchism. And so I’ve been thinking about queerness a lot. I’m a queer, gender queer person and a big theme that continuously comes through a lot of different work like Adrian Marie Brown and Sonya Renee Taylor and these anarchists I follow. Like, there’s a huge theme of how, and part of why I always bring up Christianity in these conversations is because part of a function of whiteness is to disassociate you with your experience of your body and the experience of like living your life. Right, there’s so much about, and it’s hard because it’s also capitalism but like you said, they’re so intertwined that I kind of, for these purposes, I kind of put them together.
Nichole [01:55:48] Even colonization. I mean, colonization is about like taming the land, right? Like, it’s about having the, like harnessing the resources, it’s about control and it’s about keeping things from occurring as they naturally do. So for me, I think a huge thing, and we’ve been promoting this on the show lately but not necessarily framing it this way, is like dismantling whiteness is getting back into your body. It is practicing queerness in whatever way that you would. You can be straight, but you can practice queerness in like how you express your gender, or how you refuse to be defined by your gender. You know, it can be things like masturbation. It can be taking a bath. It can be going out in the park and like taking your shoes off and just having your feet in the grass and, like, really feeling what that feels like, you know, really feeling what it feels like to have the sun on your skin. Whatever it is.
Nichole [01:56:47] It might sound small, but like the more I’ve read about this and explored it, it is crazy to me how much capital and whiteness try to take us out of our bodies and try to keep us from having like an actual in body experience of our lives. And I think you see this, you definitely see this with Blackness, right? Like, I just watched part of this, too, is I watched a really good For Harriet collaboration where she had L’Lerret Jazelle, I hope I’m saying her name right. But she’s a trans woman, a Black trans woman, and she was talking about like Blackness is queerness. Because literally everything that was defined was defined for white people. Right, like gender was defined for white people to be like this is what we are and everyone else who’s anything else is not us. So she’s like literally just being a Black person is like being, like experiencing this queerness. And as much as you can love yourself, as much as you can be in your body and do self-care like that is a queer practice.
Nichole [01:57:54] And so I just think, like… Like you were getting at, like tackling… I honestly think, like dismantling whiteness means dismantling like heterosexuality and cis gender and all of these things. And it doesn’t mean those people disappear, but it means, like you were saying, like those constructs stop being the default and stop being the normal. Like I was thinking the other day and I was like, OK, because I’m trying to figure out as a non-binary gender queer person am I trans or not? Because that’s like a big debate in the not cis community. And I was just thinking about it and I was like, you know, trans is defined as not feeling like you’re the gender you were assigned at birth. And then I was like, well, cis gender is defined as the gender you are assigned, like feeling like you’re the gender you were assigned at birth. And I was like, why are we assigning gender to people, you know?
Callie [01:58:52] Yes!
Nichole [01:58:52] So to me that’s like part of it, is like again, going way back to the root, like let’s stop assigning gender so that’s cis gender and transgender are no longer binary constructs that we need anymore. It doesn’t mean those people disappear. It doesn’t mean you can’t feel in your gender the way that you do. But like, why are we defining it this way? Even the way us queer people talk about ourselves is still almost always in relation to straightness or cis gender. So take a fucking bath, flick your bean, right? Chew your food slowly and enjoy it. Stop throwing gender reveal parties. I know no one here would do that.
Nichole [01:59:38] But yeah, just something to kind of think about is like can we embrace this in body experience. You know, it connects to so much like how many eating disorders there are. And people don’t, I just realized like I had so much of my life where I was not in my body at any point. I was just constantly living this life of trying to be as far from my body as possible. And I think a huge, like for your friends, maybe that’s like the next layer for them, since they’ve done a lot of work around their privilege and, you know, racism itself is like, oh, can I embrace this more internal experience of my life?
Claire [02:00:19] That’s really interesting because the people that I’m thinking of like-
Nichole [02:00:24] Are they queer?
Claire [02:00:25] One of the people I’m thinking of is actually my girlfriend and she’s like all about that. And it’s like, that’s really interesting that there is, I wonder if there is like this natural kind of like being in your body.
Nichole [02:00:38] I think so.
Claire [02:00:41] Because like I used to meditate all the time too, and there was like a point where I felt very present. And then like I could start to feel present without meditating. Because I’m someone who’s like thoughts are very racy and very like, I’ll just immediately just like, you know, wander off with my thoughts. I think a lot of people are kind of like that. And I think it’s really interesting that you kind of brought it to being like back, like actually living in your body. And it’s really interesting because my girlfriend used that term, that very term too, like living in your body, and like realizing that she hadn’t lived in her body for like the first 22 years of her life. And then she practiced meditation and… Wow, but yeah, I think that’s really cool and really interesting. Because I think there’s something, probably is something about dismantling whiteness and then also like being, like existing in your body. Yeah, what book is that that you read?
Nichole [02:01:35] So Queering Anarchism, I highly recommend because it has essays from a bunch of different queer theorists or anarchists. And it just it really just made me think. It’s funny because I’ve been queer and I’ve been an anarchist, but this book really helped me just take both way deeper and like, I don’t know. It was a very transformative book for me. So I highly recommend it.
Claire [02:02:01] Awesome.
Callie [02:02:01] Yeah.
Nichole [02:02:01] Our listeners are like, we know, bitch. Stop talking about that book. But wherever I encountered it, they were talking very much about that. And I was thinking, so, you know, I’ve had sex with men like cis men and it oftentimes, not to brag, but they’re like, what did you do to me? This was amazing. And I’ve been really thinking about it because it’s not like I have any tricks, like I’m not, you know. But I realized that the way that I have sex with people is very much about their embodied experience and about us creating an experience together, which is not how heterosexual people typically have sex. So I’ve slept with men… And it just to bring it back to what I’m talking about. It just made me realize, like, how deeply men are also divorced from their bodies and their physical experience.
Nichole [02:02:58] And it’s, it was a little surprising to me because, of course, on the surface, when I think about how cishet men are conditioned in our society, especially white men, everything’s about their pleasure, right? But we kind of dictate what their pleasure can look like. Right, like a man is not allowed to enjoy a bath. A man is not allowed to, like, make love slowly or listen to his body or say, hey, I don’t actually like that, can you not do that? So it just occurred to me that, like, even before I realized I was queer and came out, I was actually having queer sex because I was having sex in this way that was allowing, like I had one guy be like I literally, like I’m noticing stuff about myself that I had never known before because I didn’t, no one gave me time to figure it out. Because girls were always like, all right, hurry up, finish, you know. Which again, ladies, if you’re doing that to all your partners, you might be gay. I’m just saying. I have so many strait friends that I’m like, are you sure you’re… Oh, OK.
Callie [02:04:09] I did not come here to be attacked, OK?
Nichole [02:04:13] Yeah. But anyway, it just kind of cracked open this whole idea of queerness. I also just listened to the Politicing, jeez, forgive me. Parenting is Political podcast, also called Meet Jasmine and Mo, but they’re a queer couple, and they were talking about like having heteronormative sex within a gay couple. And it just kind of made a bunch of light bulbs go off for me that it’s like this queerness is more in the approach than anything else. It’s more in this like, like the only time I don’t get gender dysphoria is during sex because I’m just so in my body and I’m just having a nice experience. And everything about me is serving a pleasurable purpose in that moment. Which I know is not the experience a lot of other people have. Anyway, this was just my TED Talk on everyone be queer, let’s smash the cis het patriarchy.
Callie [02:05:18] Yes, I love what both of you said. I feel like they’re both such different approaches but also like incredible. I would add, I know this won’t necessarily work for everyone, but I think there’s some real promise in investigating maybe where you come from. Like this is, this advice is obviously going to be more centered on people in the US. But like so I was, I’m like your typical run of the mill U.S. white person. Right, I grew up in a very… It’s true, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it’s true. I grew up in a very small family. We didn’t have a lot of interaction with extended family. We didn’t really have any sort of like culture as far as we were aware, which I now realize is whiteness, right? And starting to like, as I’ve gotten older, right, like, really investigating like capitalism and the history of whiteness and history of racism in this country. It’s made me really see how much was like stolen from most white people in this country. And I think there’s some real kind of power in investigating.
Callie [02:06:40] So I found out, I did, I know those genetic tests are supposedly bullshit, but I did one of those, and I found out, I always kind of knew I was Irish, not full Irish, but I found out I had more Irish in me than I realized. And it’s been really cool to start to, like, look into being Irish and like Irish culture. And I’ve seen a lot of really cool, like Tik-Toks and videos recently where Irish people are basically being like, hey, if you’re not like ACAB as an Irish person, like, you really don’t know your own history. Because, like, there’s this really, like there’s hundreds of years of fighting off oppression and this kind of like law enforcement and tyranny of, you know, the British. And I don’t know, it’s been really cool to realize like this lack that I’ve always had of this like feeling that I didn’t really have like a sense of community. This feeling of, like not really seeing any cultural ties is really radical now, trying to, like, claim that for myself.
Callie [02:07:51] Like, obviously I didn’t grow up Irish and I’m not trying to, like, claim that I am and I have all these cultural practices. But just like looking at the history of like what capitalism has like stolen from, not only resources, but also like some community and history there, and I think that could be an important way forward too. I think a lot, I think a lot more white people feel those things than they realize, and they’re kind of afraid to admit it. I think it’s one small reason why white people culturally appropriate. The vast majority of it is just them being shitty and racist. But I think it’s also that they feel, I think there’s a small subset of people that maybe feel like they just are really yearning for something beyond this kind of empty white culture that we have in, you know, the Western world that really doesn’t… Like what is my culture? NFL football and like-
Nichole [02:08:58] Khakis?
Callie [02:08:58] Buying shit on Amazon? Khakis, don’t you dare. I’m offended at that. Never in my life. But, you know what I mean, I think there, that’s a way that maybe people, I love the idea of like tapping into like queer practices and trying to, like, be in your body more. And I love the idea of just like investigating what whiteness is. And I think another piece can be like really looking around you and seeing how you’re tied to your culture, if you feel like you have a sense of history there. Because I think humans really crave that. And I think that’s something that’s missing from a lot of us. And it doesn’t even need to be a thing. Like, you don’t have to, like, trace it, be able to trace it all the way back or, I know a lot of people can’t, obviously, for a lot of racist reasons. But just investigating that there are these cultural practices out there and that they can bring some meaning to your life, you know? Make you feel a part of something I think can be really, really powerful, you know?
Nichole [02:10:07] Yeah. I found out with mine that I’m like Italian, Portuguese, French, British. And I was like, I’m like, pure colonizer. Thanks, Dad. But, then I look at stuff like France and the French Revolution and I can look at that history and find like, inspiration in that, you know, and say like, OK. Because I think that’s part of it, is that like for white people you just feel like, oh, my entire genetic makeup is like bad. Oh, I’m German too. So, but I think like yeah, being able to kind of look at it in a different way if you didn’t grow up with that culture, you can at least like, I don’t know, get some sense of history and some sense of like culture that, yeah, isn’t white culture.
Nichole [02:10:57] Because white culture is literally like just the death of everything. You know, it’s the death of creativity. And that’s why there is so much money to be made in appropriation because other cultures are creative. Because they’re not hampered by the same, I mean, the oppression is there, but like obviously the expression of a nonwhite culture is the opposite of that. And then you take it and you whitewash it and then you can make money because it looks like you’re being creative when you’re just stealing from people.
Callie [02:11:26] Mm hmm. Right. Yeah, and I don’t mean like, going out and necessarily, like adopting a whole culture. I just mean, like even the practice of like researching it and realizing like that there’s this whole wide history out there. And like what we’ve been taught in schools, especially in the U.S., is so whitewashed and it’s such a fraction of like what was happening in the world and to people. And I don’t know, that can be like kind of grounding, you know? Like the idea that like, like what even happened to, like, Irish people. Like them coming over here and then, like losing a lot of their culture to, to trade in their culture to tap into the promise of whiteness. I just find that really fascinating. And I think a lot of other white people could. And really see, like, OK, like your ancestors did all this, like, what has it gotten you? Like you’re a poor white person living in a failed state like wake up.
Nichole [02:12:32] Claire, I was going to ask, did you grow up feeling that you had a community? Like, it sounds like you were in a pretty like white Christian situation. Did you feel like you had, like, your community and your sense of like your own culture, or did you grow up without that, feeling like that just white Christian culture was your culture?
Claire [02:12:55] Well, I just grew up feeling really isolated because I was one of the… I had this other friend who was adopted, and she is also Black. And we kind of like have, like we had friends and stuff growing up. But it was also very isolating to be like one of the only Black people. Like, we were also like pretty much the only people of color, period. And there would be like maybe one other person at times. They were also adopted. It was like a very, yeah it was very isolating because everyone, people kind of like had this idea of like what you were like as a Black person. And that would create this like wall or divide. And yeah, it was like this really strange experience that like, no one knows what this is like except for like this other friend that I had.
Claire [02:13:44] And so we definitely had friends and stuff, but we felt very isolated. And I think there was a lot of self-hatred that we had to work through where we grew up being like, well, like my parents are white so like, I’m not a bad, like I’m not like those other Black people. We would like, we had a lot of internalized self-hatred. And they’re like came a point where we realize like, oh, like we hate ourselves because of racism. And so we, yeah, once we realized that it was kind of like a switch flipped and we like, you know, we didn’t really, like we didn’t, instead of like looking down on Black people or trying to distance ourselves from Black people, we were like, actually all these things are fine. And the problems that are happening in these communities are a direct result of systemic racism. And we really, I kind of like started to try to talk to white people about racism. Kind of naively at first, trying to be like, well, you know, like they just need a history lesson. They just didn’t understand, of course. And then now I’m kind of here. I’m like, well I’m a leftist and I want to talk to other leftists. So I try to make content for people. Or recently I’ve tried to make content for people who care. But yeah, I felt, overall I felt pretty isolated.
Nichole [02:15:08] I feel like that’s a queer practice. We’ve been trying to focus on content that just brings us joy, you know? Not like stepping away from these issues, obviously, but like doing it in a way that is joyful and like cultivating a community. So you can see our kids as we call them, it’s an inside joke. But you know, just cultivating this like beautiful space where people just really like what we’re doing and see themselves in our work. And we’ve radicalized a lot of people. But like, that’s not exactly the intent, you know? And it’s, I don’t know, I just feel, it feels right so I’m trying to, like, be open to it.
Nichole [02:15:50] But I was also going to say, anyway that was an aside, I’ve been shocked at how many messages we’ve gotten from people who were adopted by white parents and experienced like the erasure of their identity. And it’s just such, it’s not like I didn’t know that this happened, but it just kind of highlighted how common and what a like, colonizing practice it is for white Christians to adopt nonwhite kids. And then, like, crush their identity. Like either keep it from them or we’ve even had stories of people who, like their parent, like went out of their way to erase it and be like, you do not do these things. Or even someone who has, like one white parent and one nonwhite parent like that happens there as well.
Claire [02:16:41] Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s such a common thing like growing up. So like I’m half Chinese and so my parents would like, be like, they would like buy me these like, you know, Chinese dolls or something and they’d be really cool.
Nichole [02:16:56] Interesting.
Claire [02:16:57] But they would never, I never learned anything about like Black culture. And I actually have memories of them. Like one time I was like, Black sounding names sound really pretty. And they’re like, oh, you don’t want Black sounding name, and then I asked why. And they just said to me, like, you just don’t want them, they’re not good names. But it like, there was no, it’s weird because like they would always celebrate that I was half Chinese, that they would never celebrate that I’m Black and I would never learn anything about Black culture. And yeah, it’s really, you know, it’s kind of like, you know, like even though Chinese culture is not white, it’s not Black. Like I got this sense from my parents that like being Black was garbage. But it’s also like now that I’m like living with white people, I won’t learn the bad practices of Black people, you know? Like I won’t, I’ll become like a better Black person by, on account of growing up with white people.
Claire [02:18:02] And yeah, I think that it’s so common unfortunately. And not just for like Black adoptees, but like any like nonwhite adoptees. I think, I think, it’s like adoption’s like, good. I just think that people if they adopt a kid, they should really try to make that kid feel comfortable. Like live in an area where there’s people who look like them. Don’t let them just like… Because growing up, like I was like a freak show, like for some of the white people that I lived around, I was like the first Black person that they met. Like I felt like I was a freak shown because I was Black and everyone, it was, it was just such a white area. And so, like, make sure that your kid’s not going to be a freak show because they’re the only Asian, like the only person of color period or something. And, you know, like work on like deconstructing your own racism because like we live in America and that’s a feature of America, not some sort of accident. And things like that. Like, I just, people are not prepared or equipped at all to, like, be adopting kids. Kind of period but then like especially like kids, people of color. And adoption’s great. Just if people could just come in more prepared about that.
Nichole [02:19:14] Yeah.
Callie [02:19:15] Yeah. Did you have, and it’s OK if you don’t want to answer this, this may be too personal. But like when you realized that you had internalized a lot of like self-hatred because of racism, like did you find yourself like investigating or exploring like Blackness and Black culture and identity more? Like did that offer you some kind of like space, like solidarity or healing at all? You know what I mean?
Claire [02:19:45] Yeah, I kind of wonder, like, what the fuck happened? Like, why do white people hate Black people so much? I mean, obviously, like not all white people but like, why do so many white people, like straight up just think we’re trash? And I, that’s when I started like looking at the history of like what’s happened in the US. And it’s like, well, that makes sense. You know, like even like the last hundred years when I’m like explaining redlining districts and the G.I. Bill and blockbusting and all these things that are just like, honestly like that’s just like a fraction of the shit that’s gone down. So it’s like, oh, is it okay that I’m cussing because [crosstalk]?
Nichole [02:20:30] It’s almost required. If we weren’t a show about consent it would be required.
Claire [02:20:38] OK because I don’t know if like that monetization stuff…
Nichole [02:20:40] We’re too small for that shit so we just do what we want.
Claire [02:20:43] Yeah, I don’t know how that works. I’ve never really looked into it, but I know people will like bleep out stuff or like they’ll like whisper things and I’m like, oh I don’t want to ruin anything.
Nichole [02:20:53] No, thank you for asking. But no, we’re just going to let whatever happens happen.
Claire [02:20:56] OK.
Callie [02:20:58] Yeah. We should have just told, I mean I am kind of surprised actually that we haven’t been cursing more. Usually it’s like just all f-bombs.
Nichole [02:21:05] I know, we’ve been very white and polite today. Two good Christian girls just being nice.
Claire [02:21:17] Just being sweet. But yeah I, I kind of just, I still am like trying to like go on a journey to love my Blackness and it’s like hard because so many of the people I grew up around have been white. So it’s like I need to actually like… So many of my friends have been white so I think like the next place I move, I want to like live around other Black people. And my other Black friends have also been adopted and were going on the same journey as me of like self-discovery and like trying to like, you know, like where do you find yourself after living with people who have thought your trash for, like, a good chunk of your life? And like, so we’ve all taken different paths and stuff like that.
Claire [02:22:02] But yeah, so like, I’m still kind of like going on, like I think YouTube’s been great because I do watch For Harriet and I watch some other Black YouTubers that are, and I watch some other people who just like aren’t even necessarily political. Just like, just kind of like funny or talking about stuff. And it’s been good because yeah, I’ve just, I feel like I’ve just like lived in such a white place for so long. And I think that’s why I have so much anxiety about explaining racism, because I’m like I should try to explain it to my family. And like, if I just explain it good enough they’ll understand. And that’s not the case. Like a lot of people don’t want to understand.
Nichole [02:22:42] Yeah, and if-
Claire [02:22:42] But I went. Oh, sorry go on.
Nichole [02:22:46] Go ahead. Well, I was just going to say, a tip from being a longtime vegan that we’ve learned is that you never convert your family, you let someone else do that. Because they will never buy what you’re selling. But then they’ll come home one day and be like, oh my god, this random person in the grocery store told me X, Y, Z. And you’re like, OK, well, I’m glad you got here. Very frustrated but, you know, we arrived. Anyway, it’s harder when it’s your own identity, of course. But it’s, I think it’s very healing for people to let go of that sense of responsibility, of doing that work with people that are so close to them. And just kind of figuring out, I think coming from a place of power and being like, what do I want this relationship to be and how do I want to navigate it? Versus like, oh, this is what I should be doing. Because we both come from abusive homes and so that’s like deep work I think a lot of people have to do for various reasons is like, how do I change us into my, I’m coming at this from my place of what I need or want.
Callie [02:23:54] Yeah. Yeah it’s a sad tragedy. Like the day that you realize that it’s not just that people don’t know, like some people actively choose to not hear that information. And especially it’s sometimes even harder with the people that are like closest to you that they… There’s something about that like closeness that somehow like delegitimizes your opinion in their eyes. Which like, I’ll never really understand why that happens. But it’s, that’s a, that’s a painful experience that I feel like is very common for people who take up any form of, like, activism around a social justice topic. The day they realize it’s not just that people are ignorant, it’s that some, a lot of people choose to be willfully ignorant. And that’s deeply painful and I’m very sorry to hear that you experienced that with your own family members.
Claire [02:24:52] I think it’s such a common story.
Callie [02:24:54] Yeah, it is.
Claire [02:24:56] Unfortunately. Thanks for saying that.
Nichole [02:25:01] And for whatever it’s worth, you know, we are late in life, queers. And that comes with a lot of self-doubt and, you know, just it was a whole fucking thing to work through. But like being near other queer people, socializing with queer people, having queer friends, watching queer YouTube, it really did help a lot. And I feel like just in the last couple months, I’ve hit a place where I feel, once I buzzed my hair off, I feel like fully in my identity and like not insecure anymore and it’s very joyful. So, yeah, I just think finding community is like, it’s just so critical. But it can be really hard because you feel like, am I a poser or am I like, you know, you just feel like insecure going into it. But it’s really important.
Callie [02:25:54] Well and you realize too, all the deeply harmful things that you’ve internalized, both about yourself maybe and others, you know? Like think about how much like you internalize of like heterosexuality and comphet and all of that stuff and just the whole vying for male attention and how much sometimes you can end up like internalizing about the way that you present yourself or talk. Or even looking at like other couples and the kind of thoughts that you can have that pop in your head and then you realize, like, oh shit, that was really fucked up, like, where did that come from? You know, so it’s important work. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do. But I think we all have those things.
Nichole [02:26:45] Yeah. And it’s crucial to find people who aren’t gate-keepy.
Callie [02:26:46] Yes.
Nichole [02:26:46] We lucked out through the work that we do and just found some queers who are like the shit.
Callie [02:26:50] Yeah.
Nichole [02:26:51] And that was, that was really helpful.
Callie [02:26:53] Yeah.
Nichole [02:26:54] Well, any closing thoughts before we go party with our audience?
Callie [02:27:02] I’m going to throw a total curveball at our audience and suggest that you read the Ishmael books by Daniel Quinn.
Nichole [02:27:11] Girl.
Callie [02:27:14] So the running joke is-
Nichole [02:27:16] That could be our fucking tag line.
Callie [02:27:16] Yeah, we are always suggesting Ishmael and My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. But I also want to add on Beyond Civilization, which is the last book that Daniel Quinn published, which we don’t talk about as much. But I think that has some really powerful, I don’t like the book as much as the others because it’s not in the same format. But he talks a lot about these like cultural memes. And I think that could be a really powerful way to start deconstructing whiteness in your own head. The idea of like the stories that we’re told, the memes that we internalize about our culture and what’s inherent and natural versus what’s kind of socially constructed. I think that’s a really powerful way of starting to understand that like almost everything we live and experience is socially constructed, which means it can be socially deconstructed.
Callie [02:28:10] And I think that’s a, it’s really powerful. So much of this culture that we live in, right, is that it’s natural. Gender is naturally a binary. Sexuality is naturally heterosexual. Like our races are like from nature, right? Like we’re just born different and we have these differences. And it’s like all of, all of that is bullshit. I mean, skin color is natural, but like the implications of it are socially constructed. And I think that’s really powerful. So read the Ishmael books.
Claire [02:28:47] They’re so good.
Nichole [02:28:47] Claire, any final thoughts?
Claire [02:28:49] Yeah. I want to, OK. I just wanna recommend for anyone who wants to understand, like whiteness in America and like the passage of years, I think this book’s called White Privilege. And I always feel weird about recommending it because the word white privilege is very scary. But it’s a collection of essays talking about the ways that white people have profited off of policies and acts that were just geared towards white people and how that screwed everyone else over. And it really helps, it helps complete the picture of why there are so many groups today in America who are still just screwed over. And how like this is, this is like probably like the past hundred years. And because for me, I was having a hard time understanding like, well, why, if there are laws or like white or Black people can just get a job, and like there’s like laws against discrimination, why are so many Black people struggling? And this book just is actually a pretty quick but a very acute like understanding of that. And then all the essays are from larger books so if you’re like, oh, I really like this writing, you can get that book, too, and continue reading it. But this is a really good summary, I think, of why things are the way they are today.
Callie [02:30:09] Mm hmm. Awesome. Yeah, Nic, any final thoughts?
Nichole [02:30:13] Yeah. And I think… Um, I had one and I lost it. So I will, very on brand, I will replace it with a different one. I just think like as, so part of dismantling whiteness is dismantling all of our biases and I think familiarity with any one who is not like us is good. And then, of course, like focusing specifically on race is also great. But one of the things that I have found the most effective for me in really understanding someone else’s lived experience is to consume casual work by another community. So there is a lot to be learned from someone doing like educational talks, books, etc. That’s always encouraged. But I think, like I’ve actually, in a lot of ways learned more of the important things from just listening to like a podcast about pop culture or, you know, As Told By Kenya, like she’s one of my favorite people to watch. And I feel like I get a lot of the Black experience through what she’s talking about, but she’s not like sitting me down and teaching me a history lesson. She’s, I just think it’s a really good way to, like, not just humanize people, but to, like, really understand.
Nichole [02:31:34] So I think about things like microaggressions, right? And there’s so much work right now that’s targeting, like holding white people’s hands and being like, these are things to not say and here’s why. And it’s like, OK, like that, I get it. But I think how much more powerful to listen to, like The Read and hear Crissle pop off about, like white people touching her hair. And then you’re like, oh shit, I should not touch anyone’s hair because it’s not good consistent, but also understand the implications if I’m a white person touching a Black person’s hair. You know, I just think, like, we kind of deprioritize just consuming entertainment from other people. And like, really listening to just… I think, I think it’s still a way of dehumanizing people to be like, oh, I’m only going to listen to you talk about race because you’re a Black person and I’ve been told to like, listen. Like that’s why I love that your channel, your like, I also, like I, you’re, my favorite video of yours is actually the Pride and Prejudice one where you’re responding to Big Joel’s take on Twilight. And I was like, I fucking love everything about it, you know?
Claire [02:32:45] Thanks!
Nichole [02:32:47] And I think it’s just, yeah, I do think it’s a way to dehumanize people if they’re like, oh yeah, I consume all this like Black or queer or trans work, but it’s only around being Black or queer or trans. I don’t, like Kat Blaque was someone who helped this click for me because she, you know, did her video about YouTube beings, LeftTube being so white. And I was like, my heart sank because I respect her so much. And I was like, oh, no, am I going to get red? But she actually just had this great, I mean it would have been fine if she did, but she had this great take of, she’s like, these people are my friends and I love the work that they’re doing. But the thing is, like people will listen to them talk about something instead of listen to me talk about it. And then they might come to me because that person was like, oh, go watch her because she’s a Black trans woman. So, like, consume her work around being a Black trans woman.
Nichole [02:33:40] And she’s like, I sew, I’m in the BDSM community, I’m polyamorous. Like I’m a hundred other things too, and my channel is more about me as a human than it is about like me as a Black trans person. But within that, I’m very much paraphrasing what she said, but within that, like I become human. Right, like through you understanding my dating life, or like how much I love sewing. Like that is the human experience and then, you know me. And so I just, you know, as much as possible, like encourage people to like, if you realize you’re… You know, even Callie, like you brought up watching like Black rom coms. And we love a trashy rom com. And if you go on Netflix it’s just suggesting white rom coms to you so like watch a Black one. It’s probably terrible cause they’re all terrible. But like, at least you’re getting some, you know, like you’re just consuming something that is different but the same. And I think that’s what’s important.
Callie [02:34:41] Absolutely. I mean, we’ve talked about how, like, I ended up watching one because I was like looking for a very specific, it was like Christmas time and I wanted like a Christmassy, you know, we all know the type I’m talking about. And I watched it and then all of a sudden I got all of these recommendations, and I was like, there is a, so many movies out there that I have not seen, I had not even heard of, you know? So it is, it is weird, like how we’re kind of kept in these little silos. And I think there is something really inherently harmful about like, only watching content that’s about like oppression, you know? And that it does keep, it keeps the walls up and it keeps us from building true like solidarity and really seeing the humanity of someone else. If you’re like, oh, the only movies I watch are about like, you know, this, these terrible things that have happened to your community. And it’s like that’s really like a piece of the picture, but it’s not the full thing, you know?
Callie [02:35:38] Also, we need to stop retraumatizing ourselves all the time. Like, there’s just so much like, torture porn kind of thing where we’re just like watching really harmful tragic stories all the time because it’s’ like, I need to be a good ally, I need to watch all the bad things. And it’s like if you already know, like you maybe don’t need to keep watching really sad things all the time just because you feel like you have to, you know?
Nichole [02:36:04] Yeah. Yeah and then people make the mistake that they think they know a community’s experience or a community’s culture when it’s like, no, you just know the history of their oppression.
Callie [02:36:16] Right.
Nichole [02:36:17] Which is, of course, an inextricable part of that. But it isn’t that. Like a community’s culture isn’t just their oppression. And then, yeah, and then you just, I think those are the people who walk around and are like, racism though, right? You know, because it’s like I see a Black person and that’s all I can think about is like, that’s all I know of the Black community is like educating myself on racism. Whereas like, if I ever got, oh my god, if I ever got the chance to hang out with Kenya, which would be like my dream, that bitch and I would just talk about… Probably shouldn’t have called her a bitch, I don’t know her like that. That wonderful woman and I would be able to talk about probably Miley Cyrus all night because, like, I just watched her video about Midnight Sky and she even didn’t really talk about Midnight Sky, she ended up talking about Miley Cyrus’ entire discography and like her eras. And it’s like, yes, I could sit across the bar from you and like drink and just talk about Miley Cyrus and how much we love her, even though she’s our problematic fave.
Nichole [02:37:26] And, you know, like that is, that’s humanity. That’s community. That’s someone you can build a revolution with. And that makes you a good comrade, I should say. It’s not like about the other person, it’s about like, I can see your full humanity here. And that’s the biggest way to dismantle your prejudice is just to be like, fuck. We are different in a lot of ways, but we’re just like the same too. Like everything you go through is very human. Your opinions are human. Your sense of humor is human. Like we’re just human.
Callie [02:37:58] Yeah. Yeah. That’s important.
Nichole [02:38:02] Yeah. So thank you all for joining us. We’re gonna go party with Professor Flowers and our audience in our after party. If you ever want to join in too, you can do by joining us on our livestream Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time on the YouTube’s. There’s a link to our YouTube channel in the show notes if you’re listening to the podcast. We really want to thank Professor Flowers and Professor Flowers, before we go, we will have links to all of your stuff in our show notes in the description box but let everyone know where they can find you.
Claire [02:38:40] Sure. Yeah. You can find me on YouTube, just at Professor Flowers. And then on Twitter, I think it’s @BorealisClare. Yeah, but definitely check out some of my videos.
Nichole [02:38:53] Yeah.
Callie [02:38:54] Yes. Do it.
Nichole [02:38:55] Yeah. Don’t even please do it. Do it.
Callie [02:38:57] Yes.
Nichole [02:39:01] If you liked this video, like, subscribe, smash that notification bell as hard as you’re gonna go smash whiteness and the patriarchy, Ok?
Callie [02:39:14] I did not know where you’re going with that. I was a little concerned.
Nichole [02:39:23] I mean, to be honest I didn’t either. Thank you all for joining today, and we will talk to you next week. Bye!
Callie [02:39:27] Buh-bye!