Angry Races: Why Do We Care So Much About Color?

Jul 19, 2018

TAA 0029 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood begin by discussing Rachel Dolezal, but quickly move to a free-ranging discussion of why we’re so bound up in racial narratives. What’s at stake, and what do African and European Americans gain by focusing on it?

C.T. WEBB 00:17  Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening, and welcome to The American Age podcast. Today I’m talking to Steven and Seph, who are in the hot and humid New York, and I am in the just hot, not too humid Southern California. How are you guys doing? 
S. FULLWOOD 00:32  Pretty good. How are you doing? 
S. RODNEY 00:34  Yeah. 
C.T. WEBB 00:34  Not bad. You know what’s funny? I realized – last week, I became aware of doing it – that I often start with a comment on the weather, which I know is sort of the small-talk strategy for making sure that everyone is kind of on the same level. It’s a safe topic– 
S. FULLWOOD 00:53  Okay. 
C.T. WEBB 00:54  –which seems completely nonsensical to do, given the nature of the podcast that we have. So I’m not really sure why I reflexively do that, but– 
S. FULLWOOD 01:03  Maybe because we’re human and, you know, it’s kind of the thing that people talk about and– 
S. RODNEY 01:07  It’s an onramp. Yeah, it’s a typical onramp. But I also want to say for the record, even though I’ve already said this, Happy Birthday. Today’s Travis’ birthday. 
C.T. WEBB 01:16  Thank you very much. 
S. FULLWOOD 01:16  Yes. 
S. RODNEY 01:17  I forget how old you are, but I think you’re younger than me, so– 
C.T. WEBB 01:20  45. 45. 
S. RODNEY 01:22  There you go [laughter]. 
S. FULLWOOD 01:24  Yeah. Younger than me, too. I am 52. Yes. 
C.T. WEBB 01:30  Yeah, so Steven’s way out in front of– not way out, that sounded– that was a little mean. [crosstalk] Steven’s ahead of us. 
S. FULLWOOD 01:37  Steven’s ahead of us, and he doesn’t– he’s not offended, because what is he going to do? He’s 52. 
C.T. WEBB 01:41  Yeah. Yeah. 
S. RODNEY 01:42  Exactly. 
C.T. WEBB 01:42  Yeah. I don’t have the hangup about getting old. I don’t feel– I’m okay with it, at least so far. I mean, nothing has started to fall apart, yet. I mean, I definitely can’t eat the way I used to be able to eat when I was younger. I had pretty much a cast-iron stomach, and I could just stuff anything into it, and it would be fine. I have definitely lost that ability, but there’s a lot of positive things that come with getting older, too, I think. So. 
S. FULLWOOD 02:08  Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, though, many of them– When you get tired of doing certain things, and you can– and you feel good about going, “Ah, I’m going to bed early. Ah, get up early.” It’s– There’s some fun stuff about getting older, though. 
S. RODNEY 02:21  I agree. I totally agree. 
C.T. WEBB 02:23  So today we are talking about– It’s a pretty sprawling topic but I think we’re going to do our best to zero it in on a couple of specific issues, one in particular. Rachel Dolezal– How do you pronounce her last name? 
S. FULLWOOD 02:36  It’s Rachel Dolezal. You said it right, mm-hmm. 
C.T. WEBB 02:38  Dolezal. Okay, okay. And so this is the white woman, Euro-American woman, that posed for many, many years as an African-American woman, successfully. And had a lead position with the– was it NAACP? 
S. FULLWOOD 03:00  NAACP, mm-hmm. 
C.T. WEBB 03:01  –in Seattle, or something like that. Which kind of makes sense that she’d be able to fool people in Seattle about that [laughter] [crosstalk]. I feel like that couldn’t have happened in New York, but you know, I could be wrong. So we thought we would focus in on her to talk about– Seph had a very kind of open, honest question about this, that started in an impromptu conversation that Steven brought up. Seph, I don’t want to put the words in your mouth. Why don’t you lead us in? 
S. RODNEY 03:36  Basically, my question was, “Why do people get so exercised about Dolezal? Why is she the focus of so much ire, so much anger, in the black community, as if she had not only deceived people, but deceived them and somehow took advantage of them?” And I don’t understand it, because I think– If I read this correctly, and I don’t think I necessarily am reading this correctly– The notion that people who respond in that enraged manner to Dolezal, their concept of race seems to me to be not equal to, or not commensurate with, the flexibility the same people tend to give the concept of gender. That is, that there is a degree to which gender conforms to the self’s view of the self, right? 
S. RODNEY 04:52  Gender is not an on/off binary but is a continuum. If I understand it correctly, it’s a continuum, and it’s a continuum on which the individual places him or her self, or themself– They place themselves on the continuum where– that is indicative of how they see themselves. Race, it seems, does not enjoy that kind of plasticity. Or elasticity, maybe is a better word. It seems that people, black and white, generous and non-generous, want to lock ourselves into these binaries and say, “Even though her politics might be what we would– some of us would call black or Afrocentric. Even though her politics placed her there, it seems that she was doing something so egregious by– 
C.T. WEBB 06:02  Beyond the pale. 
S. RODNEY 06:03  Right. –that it indicates to me that there is some real problem with– not a problem– that race doesn’t enjoy the same kind of elasticity. And Travis brought up a somewhat-convoluted analogy [laughter]– 
C.T. WEBB 06:26  That’s a very generous characterization. 
S. RODNEY 06:29  But I liked it in that– 
C.T. WEBB 06:30  Fully-convoluted, but– 
S. RODNEY 06:32  –but the essence of his argument was, “Look. Race is a game, and we’ve been forced to play it. And some of us have learned to play within the particular rules that are received, because we have to. Especially black men. Knowing this, as a black man, I have to. I have to play it by those rules, because sometimes my life’s in jeopardy.” 
C.T. WEBB 07:00  Yep. Absolutely. 
S. RODNEY 07:01  But when Rachel Dolezal, who didn’t seem that she had anybody’s life in– In fact, it seemed like she went out of her way to try to protect black people’s lives, so I don’t understand, honestly, don’t understand why people got so exercised about her. 
C.T. WEBB 07:18  Steven, I have a feeling you have some thoughts on this. 
S. FULLWOOD 07:22  I have a couple of feelings, but want to revert to the email that you sent, responding to it, which I really– what I pulled out of that, when you were making your analogy, was we can’t beat people at the game by playing that game. And I thought that was really important to note. And so I want to go to, “The Rachel Divide,” the documentary that came out. And what I think is interesting about the elasticity thing that you’re posing, Seph, is that the film makers are really generous with letting Rachel Dolezal be Rachel Dolezal in this film. And I think their editing was light, but I also felt their editing was light, and that they tried to cast a wide net of how Rachel thought about herself, her children, her siblings, her parents, what the community thought, what black people were thinking– and I felt like that Rachel has an illness. 
S. FULLWOOD 08:26  Like, you can be– You can advocate for people of color and causes for black people. And I felt like what I was getting constantly, either from the film or from other things that I’ve read, was you could be that advocate, but why imitate? And also her posits were linking her to a sadness and to sorrow, based on her relationship with her parents. And so, that wasn’t clear to me until this documentary came out. That blackness means struggle, blackness means this, and so braiding your hair and putting bronzer on your skin and adopting a particular stance, that felt, for the people that I– It was mainly black people, and I wanted to ask what white people thought of her, because I was only finding comments by black people who felt that she crossed the line, in terms of blackness, in terms of what she– how she was advocating for these things. Because it does seem a bit strange, if she’s advocating for it, then why? I remember just– I mean, when I first heard about her, I was just like, “Okay. What?” So, I just thought about her– 
C.T. WEBB 09:30  Some nonsense, yeah. 
S. FULLWOOD 09:30  –with, “Everything But the Burden.” You know? This title, this book that Greg Tate edited back in 2003, where they looked at folks who either adopted a certain kind of black aesthetic, or could be construed as a black aesthetic. They mentioned Steely Dan. They mentioned the Wiggas. This idea of taking a style and making it your identity, which in fact is something that could be argued with black people, right? But I think that it’s like, “Everything But the Burden,” here. Everything but the burden, and I think that Rachel, to this very day, stands by her word and stands by what she did, and what she does. Even though, I think, the illness is really clear in the film, where– So for example, very briefly, she takes her sons to a barbershop, her brother and her sons to a barbershop. She’s been told as she’s driving that, “You can’t park in front of this barbershop,” right? And so, she was going to just do it anyway. So, a guy comes out and he says, “You have to move, ma’am. You really have to move.” And she takes it as, “See? This is how they’ve been treating me.” And I go, “This has nothing to do with you, with your racial dynamic. This is ‘You can’t park in front of the thing.'” So I’m thinking that she’s taking– I thought that was a really important part, and a really good sort of lens into what Rachel thinks about herself. Do you know? 
C.T. WEBB 10:55  So, yeah. So that is actually incredibly helpful, Steven. I mean, she read – to the extent of what I understand of her story – she read as sick, to me, for sure, definitely. But oftentimes in sickness, things about health can be revealed. 
S. FULLWOOD 11:15  Absolutely. 
C.T. WEBB 11:17  And I do think there is– I mean, I have kind of a larger issue, which you alluded to, Steven. But I do think that there is a real problem in the long run with blackness becoming just the signification for disenfranchisement and struggle. 
S. FULLWOOD 11:42  Oh. Abso-frickin-lutely. Yeah. 
S. RODNEY 11:44  Yes. 
C.T. WEBB 11:44  And so it seems to me like that is the part of blackness – what I’m calling blackness in kind of a shorthand – that if that’s what it is signified as, that is a fully-commodifiable signification. 
S. RODNEY 12:05  Yes. 
S. FULLWOOD 12:06  Mm-hmm. 
C.T. WEBB 12:06  That can be commodified by music. It could be commodified by movies. I could be commodified by style. And it seems to me– you know, I’m on the outside looking in. Obviously I have no African-American heritage. But on the outside looking in, it seems to me that within the culture, there has been a pretty consistent push and momentum behind blackness becoming fully signified by this kind of struggle. 
S. RODNEY 12:41  Yeah. 
C.T. WEBB 12:42  I don’t want to say victimhood, right? Because there’s a kind of empowerment to it, as well, right? I don’t think it’s simply just victimhood. But it’s definitely defining oneself by lack. 
S. FULLWOOD 12:54  Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And oppression. 
C.T. WEBB 12:55  And that game can’t be won, I think, if that game is being played on the level of whiteness or blackness. That’s where the discourse is at. It is an unwinnable game. It’s a Chinese finger trap. It can’t– As soon as you step into that dialogue you have lost. And now I don’t– Unfortunately, I don’t have a remedy for that. I have some thoughts and some ideas, and if we have time in the podcast I’ll kick a couple of them out to you, but I feel bound up by that and I feel that America is bound up by that. In particular, America. Race reads differently in other countries, in Europe, that I’m familiar with. Germany– I know Seph has a lot of experience in the U.K. Not that they don’t have racial– they clearly, there’s all kinds of racism there, too. But it just reads differently. It reads differently. I don’t think it’s been as successfully commodified as it has in the United States, for example. 
S. RODNEY 13:58  So, can I interrupt you? 
C.T. WEBB 14:00  Yes. You absolutely can. Please. 
S. RODNEY 14:03  Travis, why do you think there’s no winning that game? 
S. FULLWOOD 14:08  Good question. 
C.T. WEBB 14:09  Yeah. It’s a wonderful question. Because that game always requires a villain, and it requires– I think the simplest, in the best and worst ways that I mean that, simplifying things can clarify, but it can also flatten. And I think Malcolm X’s characterization around race– He was a very astute reader of the moment in America– but it requires a villain. And that villain– You always lose if you are villainizing entire swaths of people. You can’t win that. Even if you win, which of course, you eventually will, right? I mean, history turns. Eventually– 
S. RODNEY 15:12  Because history’s cyclical, right. So you’re saying– 
C.T. WEBB 15:16  Eventually, this country’s not going to be white. It’s going to happen. 
S. RODNEY 15:18  Right. No, no, no. Right. So you’re saying, I mean, I want to paraphrase you and quote, like, essentially quoting James Baldwin, he’s saying, at some point, “Somebody’s gonna need a nigger.” Like, somebody has to be the nigger. 
S. FULLWOOD 15:32  Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yes. And something I want to add to that really quickly, Travis. Very quickly. And that’s the reason why I don’t think it will ever win. It relates to what you were saying. There’s a reductiveness and that there is a smallness, and there’s is a lack of imagination about the broadness of our experience, of everyone’s experience. 
S. RODNEY 15:51  Thank you. Thank you. 
S. FULLWOOD 15:54  If only black people do this, and white people do this, it’s lost. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. 
S. RODNEY 15:59  Right. I mean, what it does is it takes us back to that moment in the ’80s, with Def Jam Comedy [laughter][crosstalk], “When you ever see white people, and they always talk like this, and they do this, and then they press the elevator button like this, and then black people, you know, they like, ‘Hey, man. What’s goin’ on? What’s at? What’s packin’, dude?'” I know. We’re laughing at it now, but we lived through that time, when we thought this shit was funny, and we thought it was– 
S. FULLWOOD 16:28  But we’re living through that time. We’re still living through that time. Everyone’s not going through the same moment. 
S. RODNEY 16:33  No. That’s right. You’re absolutely right. 
C.T. WEBB 16:37  Just to point out that Steve is absolutely right, Netflix has these, like, 15-minute stand-ups, and one of the ones was a African-American lesbian who had a line about white people. She was quite funny, but she said, “I just have a simple solution to it. White people are aliens. How do you grow up on a planet where the sun kills you? [laughter] How are you from the earth if the sun literally poisons you?” Which is, of course, hilarious. It’s very funny, right? But it’s still operating, that sort of reduction is still operating. I’m sorry. Please jump in. Seph was saying– 
S. RODNEY 17:16  Well, when Steven said how playing this game– And I want to actually put some specificity here, for listeners who may not have followed this, because we’re kind of moving really fast. By, “this game” we mean this game of saying that there is such a thing as race, and that you can neatly divide the human species into these categories, and that by doing so, you actually are doing something useful, in being able to predict behavior, comportment, something about how we will respond to stimuli in the world, right? So race become this sign indicating in some deep way who a person is, right? So, that’s the game we’re talking about. So you make me– go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah. 
S. FULLWOOD 18:13  I’m just thinking that commodification of a person, of a being, of a racial being, has established this country. And it demeans a lot of people, and it deprives a lot of people, but it also– like I said, I really have to go back to the imagination part, so when you mentioned that, earlier in the emails, Travis, I went to Audre Lorde. I went to her speech, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” And in this speech, she says, “Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women, those of us who’ve been forged in the crucibles of difference, those of us who are poor, who are lesbian, who are black, who are older, know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths, for the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women or men who still define the master’s house as their only means of support. 
S. RODNEY 19:17  So this makes me think of that moment a few– I think it was late last year, when The Game – I think it was the rapper The Game – had this confab. He gathered together a bunch of black people who were either famous or celebrities – I’m saying the same thing – or well-known musicians, those people who are adjacent to him, in terms of socio-political status, or social status, and he said – I think what I read– I think I read this on, like, a BET site or something – got these people together and said, “Talk about race in this moment. What we were going to do, suffering through many of the privations that were enacted by the current administration.” And I remember thinking, when I heard what he said – the article excerpted some of the things he said – first of all, The Game is not the person to do this. But some of the things he said so played into that discourse of oh, we’re oppressed, and oh, we’re going to rise above it. 
S. RODNEY 20:36  It is the essence of the story that is told by the new African-American Museum of Culture and History, right? That we make a way out of no way. Right? That we are oppressed, but we rise through that. There is a kind of continuum of a kind of victimization, yes, but a kind of heroism. And it is only– the only path through the heroism is through that kind of historical disenfranchisement. And I want to say, as I felt when I went to that museum, and as I felt when I read that article about The Game’s off-the-cuff meeting. That there are so many other kinds of ways of being in the world, and being black and being in the world. It just feels like our imagination does get shuttered when we play that game of, “Oh, you’re black because you’ve come through this.” Actually, I’m black for a lot of reasons, and I want to quote Audre Lorde here, too, from her poem, “Coal.” She says, “I am black because I come from the earth’s inside. Now, take my word for jewel in the open light.” There’s a kind of, like, she goes into the mythic, right? Like, you are– there is a tradition of people who imagine blackness differently [crosstalk]. 
S. FULLWOOD 22:10  [crosstalk] traditions. Absolutely. Yeah. 
S. RODNEY 22:12  Yeah. And I want to keep faith with those people, because I think that they can see beyond this game, this discourse. 
S. FULLWOOD 22:22  Oh, absolutely. 
C.T. WEBB 22:23  Well, shit. I feel like I need an Audre Lorde quotation, so– [laughter]. 
S. FULLWOOD 22:27  There are a lot to have [laughter]. 
C.T. WEBB 22:31  I cut you off, though, Steven. What were you saying? 
S. FULLWOOD 22:32  Oh, no. Just going to say I agree with both of you, and I think that– Want to pull it back to Rachel right quick, and this idea of what she represents to a lot of people, in their imagination, and what it makes us think about. Did either of you see the documentary? 
S. RODNEY 22:48  I did not. 
C.T. WEBB 22:48  No. 
S. FULLWOOD 22:49  Okay. So there’s a part in the documentary where– I think it’s about an hour, maybe 90 minutes long, and it looks like it was possibly shot over a year or more, because she’s pregnant, and she gives birth to the baby towards the end of the film. So towards the beginning of the film she has a teenaged son who is besieged by everyone picking on his mom. That’s how he sees it. By the end of the film, he starts to speak a different language. He’s sort of like, “Why won’t my mother leave people alone? Why won’t she–?” Once you see it, the import of it is really powerful, because he starts to think more for himself, and he starts to wonder about his mother’s decisions to call herself black. Because he grew up with that. He grew up with her being white before she was black. That kind of thing. And so it’s a really powerful thing and it’s kind of like what I’d love to do in the future – which I’m not sure where it will happen – is to interview the Michael Jackson children. They know something more than what we know as the public, and crave to know, about his own life and his choices. But Rachel Dolezal, she’s– The path of what she’s doing is just, not hurting, but sort of impacting the black community in a small way. It’s also the people she’s around. It’s her orbit. And what it means to self-identify in a particular way. So I think it’s a much better documentary than I thought it would be, because I don’t like documentaries that take sides. Just let the stories kind of play themselves out. I know you have a directorial hand, but just allow us to think about it. That’s all I wanted to say. 
C.T. WEBB 24:34  Is there a– Do either one of you think that it is at all useful to make a concerted effort to strike white and black from the lexicon, in how we refer to human beings? And I think that you could answer in either direction. I mean the question seriously. But I do, again, to go back to who I feel was a pretty simple, but penetrating, reader of this dichotomy, is Malcolm X. The whiteness and blackness are binaries, and the language comes like software, it’s already loaded into that binary, right? And even when you start to flip that binary, you’re just a spinning binary, just flipping around. However you want to subvert it, you want to change this, you want to do that– 
C.T. WEBB 25:32  Of course, that can be playful and fun, but as a social strategy, right, as a long-term strategy for social change– The earliest attestation of people being referred to as white is Thomas Middleton’s play, like in 1615 or something like that. And it was– he called the British people white, right? Prior to that, they thought of themselves as Europeans, and you get this sort of– Africa was not thought of in– It had not been conjured fully in the European imagination the way it would be by late 17th, 18th century. And so I feel– Let me just lay my cards on the table. I feel like there is an actual problem in continuing a white/black handle for referring to human beings. And I don’t– I’m unconvinced that that will ever be a way out of racializing– which I feel like can die. I actually feel like it is possible. I think that there are things that you can’t fully stretch out of shape– I think nation-state– I think a lot of Marxist critiques about where social evolution can go, I think they’re somewhat wrong-headed, but the idea of parsing people into races? I feel like that’s a vulnerable narrative. I feel like that could be undermined. Anyway, what do you guys say? 
S. RODNEY 27:10  I’m super interested and I need a follow-up question here. What could we– how could we refer to each other, then? 
C.T. WEBB 27:19  Here’s my pitch. I actually thought about this, and it’s very simple. It’s Euro-American, African-American, Indigenous American, and Asian-American. So, we refer to people by their continents of origin, which do affect our biologies, right? It affects the shape of our eyes, it affects the shape of our noses, it affects the amount of melanin we have in our skin. It affects how hairy we are, right? So I feel like a continental reference, given the number of countries that exist in every continent, is a way to pull apart these racial types. So for me, actually just referring to myself as a Euro-American, I know that sounds simple, but it actually is helpful to me. Like, oh yeah, I mean, I clearly, I’m an American. I ended up here under more advantageous circumstances than either one of you, for sure. But yet, still, here we are, in this fictional place that we’ve called America for all these historical reasons. But my origin is– I come from the continent of Europe, and Indigenous Americans came across the land bridge, or probably boats, now they think, in some parts of the continents. Anyway, what do you guys think? 
S. FULLWOOD 28:42  Please, go right ahead, Seph. 
S. RODNEY 28:43  Well, I was just about to say I kind of like it, actually. It just– it seems like a kind of truth-telling, and I was thinking that– I was actually going to the sort of contrarian position, which is something I heard a lot of– during undergrad at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, which is, when people would ask me where I’m from, and I would say I’m Caribbean. I’m from Jamaica. Which I always thought was actually the most accurate way for me to talk about my influences. Because I grew up in a very Jamaican household. And both of y’all know this rap. My parents are very aspirational middle-class Jamaicans, right? Very Christian, very middle-of-the-road, very– Yeah. But people would argue me to the ground. They would say, “No, no, no. You have to identify as black. You have to identify with the struggle. You have to identify as– .” You know, when you start parsing Caribbean, Trinidadian– You’re like, “No, no, no, no, no. We’re black, and if you get pulled over by the cops, you’re black.” And, you know, the whole riot act. And I just wanted to say, well, for one thing, I wanted to say, “God. Who hurt you?” And two, “Is it possible for me to please just have a little bit of self-regard that comes out of the particular nature of my circumstances?” You know what I’m saying? 
S. FULLWOOD 30:17  That’s what race does, though. It demands a fidelity that is really– The stakes are that high. So, the conversations I’ve been having for a while– and I want to answer your question, Travis. I’ll say a couple things, but I’m still marinating on what it means for me, personally. I’ll say first that when I use the word black, I use it in the diasporic sense. So it connects me to the diasporic experience, it connects me to Africa, the Caribbean, wherever my people have gone, forcefully or voluntarily. So it connects me to a cultural sensibility, and that comes out of my reading of Gwendolyn Brooks and the way that she used language. And she actually said that, so that’s what black means to me. 
S. FULLWOOD 31:02  I was also thinking about how race reduces you– We’ve mentioned this before, earlier in the conversation and in other conversations. It reduces you. And like Toni Morrison said, the reason why she started out her book, “Paradise,” by identifying– They shoot the white girl first. With the rest of them, they could take their time. You see, there was this many miles between this town and Ruby and dot-dot-dot. And she said she purposely did not identify anyone else racially becaue that was the least interesting thing about them. And I’ve carried that for the longest, and I’ve tried to use it in my mind and use it in my– how I approach people and approach– not just what people do, but people themselves. But there’s an adherence to race in a way that right now we’re just noticing people are like, just going kind of crazy with it, and have always been crazy. I think that we just have the technology, now, to market and record it, and really have the courage to do so. So, that’s what black means to me. It connects me to a cultural experience. But there’s a lot of space in blackness, so it doesn’t– It’s not reductive to me in the same way that other people might use it. And it doesn’t allow me to automatically go, “Travis is a white man. I have nothing in common with him.” It doesn’t do that. It doesn’t stop me from reading books, watching films, or even connecting with people, on personal levels. So that’s where it is for me. 
C.T. WEBB 32:31  Do you think that blackness, not can, but is often used not-expansively, in the way that you are describing it, but is– 
S. FULLWOOD 32:42  Of course, of course. I’ve used it that way, when I was a kid, because I was just learning about it. Mm-hmm. 
C.T. WEBB 32:47  Right. So, so– 
S. RODNEY 32:48  I would say most of the time. 
C.T. WEBB 32:50  Yeah. I mean, that would be my conjecture, too. So I feel like– and so now we get into the social responsibility thing. I feel like as intellectuals we– I feel a personal– let me just not say we all– I feel a personal responsibility to means-test my ideas for the most clumsy use of them. So because of course people that have the time to read Audre Lorde, or the inclination to read Audre Lorde, don’t need a lot of help from me to have expansive understandings of their history or the history of human beings. But the people that those ideas filtered down to, do, absolutely, need the Cliff’s Notes version of what’s going on. 
S. FULLWOOD 33:43  [inaudible] And I would say it goes up, too. It not just goes down but it goes up, class-wise, these ideas. 
C.T. WEBB 33:51  Yeah. I’m actually– Yeah. So I actually, to– This is not at all clear. I appreciate you pushing for the clarification. I am referring to sophistication in thought and not class at this [inaudible]. 
S. FULLWOOD 34:04  Perfect. Thank you very much. 
S. RODNEY 34:05  Yeah. Actually, I thought that’s what you were doing, Travis. So I literally mean people like– that money has– does not at all signal 
S. FULLWOOD 34:13  Is not an indicator of anything interesting, imaginative, progressive. Absolutely. 
C.T. WEBB 34:19  [crosstalk] –in either direction. So, anyway. We’re pushing up on the time, so Steve or Seph, one of you want to have the last word today? 
S. FULLWOOD 34:29  Seph, I mean Seph, go right ahead, Seph [laughter]. 
S. RODNEY 34:32  I’m going to take two things from this conversation. Well, I’m taking more than that, but the two things that are most prominent in my mind right now are Travis’ argument for referring to people via their continent of origin. I think that idea actually has legs. I like it. I want to ruminate on it, and I want to talk about it with other people, actually. I kind of want to take it and put it in my weekend suitcase and take it with me. I want to slip it into– 
C.T. WEBB 35:09  Beta-test it [laughter]. 
S. RODNEY 35:11  –well, I want to slip it into the next hotel where I stay, next to the Gideon Bible. And I’m also really going to take away that quote that you made, Steven, that you articulated from Toni Morrison’s book, “Paradise.” About race being the least interesting thing about those characters. That is profound, and I swear to you– 
S. FULLWOOD 35:30  Oh, yeah. Set that out. Not just about characters, but people. About people. 
S. RODNEY 35:39  –Right. Right. The people, you’re right. And I feel like, of the people in this conversation, C. Travis Webb, Steven G. Fullwood, and Seph Rodney, that actually, our ethnic designation is the least interesting thing about us. We actually have things to say that go way beyond what we look like or how we might be described on paper. So I’m going to take those things and treasure them. Thank you both for that. 
S. FULLWOOD 36:15  Excellent. 
C.T. WEBB 36:17  Thank you, Seph. Thank you, Steven. It was good talking to you guys today. Talk soon. 
S. FULLWOOD 36:21  Talk soon. Thank you. 
C.T. WEBB 36:23  Bye. 
S. RODNEY 36:24  Bye bye. 


First referenced at 07:22

The Rachel Divide

Rachel Dolezal, the former leader of the NAACP’s Spokane branch, becomes a national news story when she is exposed for faking her black ancestry.

First referenced at 09:30

Everything But the Burden – Greg Tate

White kids from the ’burbs are throwing up gang signs. The 2001 Grammy winner for best rap artist was as white as rice. And blond-haired sorority sisters are sporting FUBU gear. What is going on in American culture that’s giving our nation a racial-identity crisis?

First referenced at 20:36

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

A complete collection―over 300 poems―from one of this country’s most influential poets.

First referenced at 25:32

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 

Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) – ‘our other Shakespeare’ – is the only other Renaissance playwright who created lasting masterpieces of both comedy and tragedy; he also wrote the greatest box-office hit of early modern London.


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