The Blackening: Playing with Race and Racism

May 17, 2018

TAA 0020 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss Comedy Central’s recently aired skit, “The Blackening.” From dissecting the underlying racial codes, to discussing what constitutes racial “progress,” they examine some of the dynamics that allow people to play with their “blackness.”C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney discuss whether or not its fair to ostracize intellectuals that have unfashionable opinions. Athletes and entertainers are often given a pass for unpopular opinions, why not intellectuals too?

C.T. WEBB 00:00 [music] Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening, and welcome to The American Age podcast. I am talking to Seph Rodney and Steven Fullwood. It’s a full house today. So gentlemen, good to see you, talk to you.
S. FULLWOOD 00:27 Good to see you, talk to you.
S. RODNEY 00:28 Hey, how is it going?
C.T. WEBB 00:30 Pretty good. So today’s topic is going to be a skit. Seph or Steven, who put the skit out?
S. RODNEY 00:38 Comedy Central.
C.T. WEBB 00:39 It’s Comedy Central you said?
S. RODNEY 00:41 Mm-hmm.
C.T. WEBB 00:41 Okay. And the skit is The Blackening. And I’ll let one of you set it up and we can kind of dive in, and take it apart, and chat about it.
S. RODNEY 00:54 You can Steven. I think you have a pretty good grasp of [inaudible] [laughter]. That’s funny. I’m volunteering you. All right. I apologize. I’ll just do it.
S. FULLWOOD 01:02 That is so funny. So awkward and [crosstalk].
C.T. WEBB 01:03 It’s like hot potato.
S. RODNEY 01:04 Right. Okay. So he’s–
S. FULLWOOD 01:06 So basically–
S. RODNEY 01:07 Go ahead.
S. FULLWOOD 01:07 Oh, go ahead.
S. RODNEY 01:08 No, go ahead. Go ahead. I’m curious.
S. FULLWOOD 01:09 Okay. So The blackening is a – what is it? – three, four-minute-long skit on Comedy Central. It’s a satirical look at blackness through the lens of a horror movie. And so what you have is you have a group of black people running from a white killer. And one slips and falls, and they just leave them, run into a house, and, “Why did we do this? Why are we doing this?” And the first line that comes out is like, “Black people shouldn’t be out camping. Black people don’t camp. This is black karma [laughter].” And from there, it kind of grows more and more ridiculous. And it’s a cornucopia of stereotypes, and it’s very funny. It’s very in-house and outside-of-the-house. So what my friend would call behind the countertop. And so how’s that for a set-up?
S. RODNEY 01:59 Yeah. And I just want to add that one of the things the skit trades on is our knowledge – I guess inside knowledge – of how horror movies work, right? There’s this sort of a cliche trope of the lone killer who’s picking people off one by one, or the lone killer sort of vis-à-vis the Saw series who gives people a puzzle to solve in order to not die. And this is what happens.
C.T. WEBB 02:27 Doesn’t–
S. RODNEY 02:28 Go ahead.
C.T. WEBB 02:28 Doesn’t it confound him that they are all black too? Isn’t that one of the premises of the skit too since they don’t have the token black person to kill at the beginning.
S. FULLWOOD 02:39 In the beginning or what have you. Yes.
S. RODNEY 02:34 Precisely. So that’s one of the cliches of the horror movie genre. And then it trades on those. And then what it does is it switches lanes in a sense. It keeps going with this sort of riffing on our cultural knowledge of how typical horror movies work – at least in the US. And it switches lanes to looking at how our cultural understanding of blackness works in tandem with that, right? So the tropes, I guess, or metaphors that come up are, “Well, what makes a person black?” Well, that’s a main one, right? “What’s-his-name was shot.” And he’s like, “No. No. No, I was shot running towards the danger. I’m the whitest person in here.”
C.T. WEBB 03:24 And just for the listeners. So the premise is that the killer agrees to just kill one of them because he’s confounded by the number of black people camping. And so they have kind of a black-off to see who [laughter] is the blackest among them.
S. RODNEY 03:47 Right.
S. FULLWOOD 03:47 Funny [crosstalk]. Yeah.
C.T. WEBB 03:48 And this is what leads to the riff that Seph is explaining.
S. RODNEY 03:51 Right. Right. Right. Right. So Travis, your take on it was that you question the degree to which a character’s blackness is something that can be put on and taken off.
C.T. WEBB 04:08 Yeah. And–
S. RODNEY 04:09 Go ahead.
S. FULLWOOD 04:08 Essential blackness. Yes.
C.T. WEBB 04:11 Yeah. So I mean, your questions are sort of, I think, what provoked that in a positive sense. Because you had a pretty sober view of some of the tropes that the skit was trading in. The one you just brought up about, “Black people don’t run towards the danger,” kind of thing. And you sort of were kind of taking apart what does that imply about blackness in America in the 21st century. And so what I was struck by was the lightness with which they were able to don or remove their stereotypical black comportments, right? So however they happened to wear their blackness is something that they were able to disavow or switch almost in a sort of trickster sense, very easily– the one that jumped to mind for me, though I do agree that running toward the danger was quite funny– I took that as a poke at White America actually. Kind of on the sort of chest-thumping run towards the danger sort of. And anyone that’s listening, I am not anti-police or fire department. I think people that do those–
S. FULLWOOD 05:36 [inaudible]
C.T. WEBB 05:39 No. No. I’m very cautious to undermine bravery. Just basic human bravery. And so even if you get paid to be brave, that’s still a kind of bravery. So I don’t want to glibly undercut that. That’s why I qualified it.
S. RODNEY 05:55 I actually thought– and your qualification I felt was interesting because we were talking about a movie or a film rather than actual real-life. And so when you said that, were you thinking that people would conflate the two?
C.T. WEBB 06:06 Yeah. Well, I think they are conflated, right? I mean, how do we imagine the people that are running towards the danger? We do this through the lens of media, and the kind of hero tropes that we trade on. But the one– to get back so you guys can jump in. The one that I thought was funny was she jumps out like, “Well, I watch the Gilmore Girls [laughter],” which I thought was hilarious. Because there are things that are– they’re also obviously calling out the kind of whiteness, right? Some of the things they’re listing are the whitest of the white things.
S. RODNEY 06:43 Right. Like having a dog kiss you in the mouth. That shit is– I have to say– I’m not actually going to say that that’s the kind of whiteness. Rather, I want to say, only in so far as it is really kind of correlated with that kind of bourgeois status as well. Because only bourgeois people allow that bullshit to happen [laughter]. So–
S. FULLWOOD 07:05 I don’t know. And that’s interesting. You said bourgeois and you don’t qualify it as racially. Because I’m starting to see black people do it.
S. RODNEY 07:13 Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.
S. FULLWOOD 07:14 Whereas before I didn’t.
S. RODNEY 07:14 That’s what I’m saying.
S. FULLWOOD 07:16 Yeah. That’s where I thought you were going to head. Okay. Yeah.
S. RODNEY 07:18 Yeah. Yeah. No, I see that it’s class inscribed. But it goes both ways, right? It’s not a stationary target. I love the fact that– and here we’re going to get a little bit ghetto right now [laughter]–
S. FULLWOOD 07:33 Are we?
S. RODNEY 07:33 I love the hard R. I love that. She’s like, “Nigger [laughter]”.
S. FULLWOOD 07:39 Hard R is funny. You bet it is.
S. RODNEY 07:43 [inaudible] c’mon. That’s hilarious. She’s like–
S. FULLWOOD 07:45 It is.
S. RODNEY 07:48 Because you know–
S. FULLWOOD 07:49 It is. It’s very–
S. RODNEY 07:49 Go ahead, Steven. I’m sorry. I keep interrupting you.
S. FULLWOOD 07:50 No. I’m just saying it is very funny and it makes me think– see, I feel like it was interesting that they’re in a circle – perceived to be a circle – and it’s a hot potato. Blackness is a hot potato. And there’s just enough window space for people to kind of open the door and look in and say, “Oh, this is interesting.” But obviously, they’re talking to themselves. They’re also winking at the black audience. Because the hot sauce just became a little more recent with Beyonce and Hilary Clinton but that wasn’t really–
C.T. WEBB 08:19 I have to say I didn’t actually know that one. So I felt I was able to traffic in most of the tropes like, “Okay. I’m all– but the hot sauce one, I just straight up didn’t know that. I had no idea that this was a stereotype.
S. FULLWOOD 08:35 But breaking up into stereotypes here that’s what they’re doing. There are some black people that don’t know that or do that. That feels not just generational for the moment, but it’s an interesting sort of black people always put hot sauce on everything. I mean I didn’t put hot sauce on everything when I was a kid. And so I’m just thinking about that and thinking about how satire just makes us look at something that’s really, really painful and difficult and makes you laugh. And I thought this was pretty– I mean I love that line, “Gay is just whiteness wrapped up in dicks. Catch it. Catch it. Catch it [laughter].” And it’s a little bit of sass. That’s the guy that they end up sacrificing which I thought was really– “He voted for Trump. He had to die.” So I feel like it’s a great teacher for satire. I think it’s very nuanced. It’s funny. It gives me everything I’m looking for. It doesn’t pander. It doesn’t pander and it doesn’t talk down on anyone. Either you know what they’re talking about or you don’t. Yeah. I like that about–
S. RODNEY 09:31 Right. And I do think one of the great things about the effectiveness of this kind of satire is that it is actually kind of – in some ways – multicultural. It’s cross-cultural, right? If you’re a white kid growing up in Brentwood and you like rap, you get the hard R thing. You–
S. FULLWOOD 09:51 Absolutely.
S. RODNEY 09:51 –absolutely get it.
S. FULLWOOD 09:53 You understand it.
S. RODNEY 09:53 Yeah.
S. FULLWOOD 09:54 Your life might depend on it.
S. RODNEY 09:55 Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
S. FULLWOOD 09:57 Do you know– there are just things that you know. Like you said, it’s cultural, it’s funny and it’s overdue. It felt like this thing should’ve existed a while ago.
S. RODNEY 10:08 True.
C.T. WEBB 10:08 So–
S. FULLWOOD 10:08 In terms of it’s–
C.T. WEBB 10:09 So is the skit a fair marker of cultural progress on the racial front?
S. FULLWOOD 10:17 Wow! I don’t think so. But I’m answering really quickly but that was the first answer that came out of my mouth. It just feels more like a– go ahead Seph because I’m still marinating on this issue.
S. RODNEY 10:27 Okay. Okay. So my response is to essentially support what Steven’s initial reaction is. But to add to that, I’ll say that it’s not a measure so much of progress as it is a measure of cultural understandings that have been percolating below the surface that now have the kind of platforms and the kinds of audiences– I mean I don’t think that you could have done this thing before Issa Rae had her series on YouTube and then had her– I think it’s on cable now. I think there’s a way in which we cultivated the culture. And I say we meaning the people who watch really good TV and care about it. I really think this is part of the television revolution and what’s happened is that people who have great stories to tell finally have the apparatuses, the platforms through which to tell them. So now–
S. FULLWOOD 11:35 Is it
S. RODNEY 11:35 –this–
S. FULLWOOD 11:37 Is that a form of racial progress?
S. RODNEY 11:38 I’m sorry. What?
C.T. WEBB 11:39 Yeah. I feel like you’re describing progress. So the reason that– I actually track everything that you said. I totally agree. I’m sure these sort of jokes or this kind of play on blackness, as you just said, percolating under the surface, I’m sure in your close group of friends that might’ve been a line of humor 15 years ago or 20 years ago no problem. But the fact that that–
S. FULLWOOD 12:07 Way back.
C.T. WEBB 12:07 The fact that that could– yeah. And of course even further back than that. But the fact that that can be done out in the open now and that it doesn’t diminish one’s status, one doesn’t feel quite so threatened culturally. I’m talking purely culturally. I’m not talking about economic progress. I’m not talking about any of that stuff. I’m just talking about in the symbolic realm that there’s a little bit more latitude around what can and can’t be said about one’s blackness, or Asianess, or fill in the blankness that couldn’t have been done 10 years ago or 15 years ago. Or it kind of picked the year.
S. RODNEY 12:54 Right–
S. FULLWOOD 12:55 And I think it’s–
S. RODNEY 12:55 Go ahead, Steven. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
S. FULLWOOD 12:57 I completely apologize Seph. Go ahead.
S. RODNEY 12:59 No. No. No. No. I mean–
S. FULLWOOD 13:00 Okay. So when it comes to access– when you were talking, Seph, that’s what I thought immediately. I was like, “Well, it sounds like you’re describing access.” But I’ve been tracking black humor now in terms of the forms in all kinds of media. And so when you think of the Richard Pryor show or you think about [inaudible] records and you just continue to go back, that humor has been in existence for a while. So when I think about shows like In Living Color or even more contemporary shows where they go through, “You can’t say that on television, or you can’t say that.” Comedy Central has been a little moving the direction of comedy at all costs versus mainstream television. I think about who’s going to access this and I think the access point for me would be the internet. People sharing this over and over again. And this is how you and I got it, Seph, through our friend [inaudible]. And so I think of that access in that way might be different. And that could be seen as a form of progress but, yeah, I don’t think of it in any other way as progress. But I was just trying to track it– my initial objection was humor and satire, they’re always around. They’ve always been around. It’s like, “Who gets to see it? Who even understands it?” I would love to read more about it on the internet. About people who got it, who thought it was funny.
S. RODNEY 14:16 Precisely. So–
S. FULLWOOD 14:17 Just as a measure.
S. RODNEY 14:18 And that’s precisely why I have a problem also thinking about it being kind of a metric of even social– no. cultural is the word you use. Cultural projection. Because I, like Steven, feel that what this is indicative of is a kind of– again, the word I want to use is a kind of new audience. Because this kind of humor was around for a long time precisely from the days of Richard Pryor and before. I mean even–
S. FULLWOOD 14:48 [inaudible]
S. RODNEY 14:49 –comics that preceded him. But what happens and what has happened now is that there’s an audience that’s willing to pay – literally, they will subscribe to services like HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central to get this kind of humor. And I feel that with– particularly through skits like these being shared on social media, that audience expands or has expanded. So it feels to me more like, honestly, it’s just a kind of monetization that hasn’t happened before.
C.T. WEBB 15:27 So how do you–
S. RODNEY 15:29 Go ahead.
C.T. WEBB 15:30 Yeah. So I know for Steven that was sizzling but for me, “Yeah. Great. Good.”
S. FULLWOOD 15:36 Monetizing? That’s great?
C.T. WEBB 15:38 Yeah. Spread the money around. It’s all always monetized. Civilization wouldn’t exist without money. Lucre doesn’t scare me. The pursuit of wealth to the exclusion of other principles is, of course, monstrous – as any abstraction to the exclusion of other qualifying principals is monstrous. So in that way– I think what I would– so I simultaneously want to qualify my earlier point and then also push a little bit more. Because I totally blanked on In Living Color. You’re absolutely right. In Living Color used that all the time. I mean Dave Chappelle, that’s a decade ago now. So really there was a little bit of historical ignorance going on on my part. So let me concede that but then also toss back, what then can we call progress? Again, now I know what we can it in economic terms, and in fair housing and all that kind of stuff. Again, I want to strongly bracket that. But in the cultural realm, what other metric are we going to use other than people of color being able to make money producing cultural productions for people of color?
S. FULLWOOD 17:02 That’s like looking at capitalism not as a structure but not really having the imagination or the thought to kind of push it and say, “What does progress look like?” Does it look like black people having more jobs, having more houses, more– I push back on that thinking that progress isn’t going to look like money, I think, in this nation but I think that that’s the metric that we constantly use. That’s what racial progress looks like. And I think it’s a pretty unfair one. I think it’s also very limited. I was thinking earlier when you were talking, I said, “All lives matter [laughter]– [crosstalk]. I say, “Is that progress?” And I think that’s how I see capitalism. That’s how I see capitalism. I feel like unregulated capitalism, possibly I can get on board with that. But this is just free range– I hate to use that phrase, free range. Capitalism just seems to be devouring people and I push back on that as a measure of– and you may not even be fully saying that, I think.
C.T. WEBB 18:01 No, I’m not. But I take your point.
S. RODNEY 18:04 But I want to complicate this because now we’ve gone down this path. How do we think about the success of Jordan’s Peele’s film which is called– help me out here.
C.T. WEBB 18:21 Get–
S. RODNEY 18:21 Get out. Right. How do we think about– because we do think about Get Out as progressive, right? I know I do. But we don’t necessarily think about– or rather we do think about Black Panther as progressive but in a slightly different way. And I want to say these are two examples of where our notions of progress perhaps diverge. Because Black Panther was enormously, economically, financially successful. And what it does now, is it say to more than just the audience of people composed of color, it says to everyone, “You can tell ‘black stories’ and make tons of money. You can do this.” In some circles at least, that’s seen as some kind of progress and I think Steven’s right in pointing out that that kind of unregulated– rather uncritical view of financial windfall is problematic. And we could get into that. But then look at Get Out. I think that Get Out was progressive in another way. It was hugely successful–
C.T. WEBB 19:32 It was. Yeah.
S. RODNEY 19:32 –but what it did was it told white people about themselves. And I think having that kind of story– because this skit, The blackening, is really kind of insular. It’s really about black people sort of working out blackness. Having the black-off among themselves. But Get Out was outward facing. It was saying, “Look at the shit that white people will do to the black body.” And it was still enormously successful. So I think there are kind of two different models of progress that get out that question of how our notion of social progress becomes coupled with capitalism and maybe can become uncoupled from it.
S. FULLWOOD 20:17 Wakanda forever [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 20:21 Yeah. So I guess at a certain level I’m a little less suspicious of just kind of basic human greed, right? Not supercharged human greed. I’m pretty suspicious of that and I’m worried about it. But sort of basic human greed and kind of the enticements to material prosperity is rarely just material prosperity for you, it’s material prosperity for your community. Now, your community may be small, it may be your family, it may be your circle of friends, it may be construed in a larger sense. But I see these– now, the other thing is I’m slightly less bullish on whether I think this is a breakout moment for black America because there have been other moments where black culture has risen to the top in this way and has commanded a great deal of attention. And it ends up receding and being swallowed again.
S. RODNEY 21:31 Roots. Roots.
C.T. WEBB 21:31 Roots is a fantastic example. James Baldwin was a major celebrity–
S. RODNEY 21:39 On TV. Yeah.
C.T. WEBB 21:40 Blacksploitation films. It’s not Bill Cosby in the 80s – The Cosby Show. So it’s not as if there haven’t been kind of apex– there have been people at the top of the cultural heap that are non-white. It’s just that it ends up being subsumed yet again in– I mean I would say look at the election, right? If there isn’t a whiplash moment to show that the fact that a black person can rise to the top of American culture and then that movement be swallowed whole by the reaction, by the whiplash from the culture at large. And then I’d like you guys to jump in but then I am less confident that it’s a breakout moment for black America. That being said, what other metric are we to use other than cultural prominence in this field and its ability to make money for themselves and for their audiences? I mean actual it’s question mark there. What do you guys think?
S. RODNEY 22:55 What other metric. Yeah. It’s a good question.
C.T. WEBB 22:57 Yeah. What else are we tossing out there?
S. FULLWOOD 23:02 Seph, you’ll take this?
S. RODNEY 23:03 Yeah. I feel you. Yeah. I feel you, Steven. So I would venture to say the thing that I know is easily going to be knocked down but I’ll say it anyway [laughter] which is our prowess in academic scholarship. That has actually been a way for us to measure our social progress. Because honestly before let’s say 1980 blah, blah, blah [laughter] there were maybe three or four or five black intellectuals you could point to and say they’re determining the course of the discourse around blackness in America. They are shaping how we understand ourselves and how we should be understood within this complex historical set of circumstances. Now, you can point to 10, maybe even 15, right? And I can point to Pulitzer Prize winners and I can point to people who won the Peace Prize, or I can point to– I can point to several people at different levels of the culture or rather who have different levels of access to popular culture who at least in the ivory tower have made significant contributions to our historical understandings.
C.T. WEBB 24:35 I don’t think that’s easily knocked down. I’m sorry, Steven. Go ahead.
S. FULLWOOD 24:38 Thank you, Travis. I was just thinking about what you were saying Seph and I think that representation has never ever been enough in terms of where people are. It’s what they do with that influence, right? And it’s how they do it and it’s how we measure– when I say we, I’m actually speaking about black folks versus all people. How that person got there – I think to kind of what you’re saying Travis, the Obama moment sort of just being rabidly consumed, or subsumed, or just pushed out, or minimized, or reduced to something as a blip was because it seemed as if the moment Obama declared his candidacy he was getting death threats. And we’ve talked about this before on the show and other places as well where people criticize Obama for being black as opposed to policies primarily. And it’s largely been mainstream media and largely been the conservatives, the right, and the extreme right. And in the kerfuffle of all that in the den, there are so many ways to hold and to really gauge what progress looks like for black people in America and it’s often, “We have a black president. Oh, that means there’s no more racism.” You get that kind of racial reasoning – that ignorance. Because then it just minimizes and reduces that moment when it’s a part of a longer river of resistance constantly flowing, constantly developing, constantly–
S. FULLWOOD 26:07 I mean when I think about people who’ve– in the Academy there are so many people doing amazing work. But there’s [inaudible] Gates, there’s Cornell West, there’s these people who’ve gone on TV and are talking hits and they command obscene amounts of money. But what do they do with it? What are they doing with that influence? How are they leveraging to really kind of benefit racial progress?
C.T. WEBB 26:28 Well, I think Cornell West put out a hip-hop album.
S. RODNEY 26:30 No! You went there [laughter]. Damn. Okay.
S. FULLWOOD 26:34 [crosstalk]. That’s an entire podcast. I’m writing these stories down right now.
S. RODNEY 26:41 That’s a hard R [laughter]. Okay.
S. FULLWOOD 26:44 That’s a very hard R. Wow! That’s good. Yes.
S. RODNEY 26:50 Damn. Okay. Okay. But I would say–
S. FULLWOOD 26:53 But just so we–
S. RODNEY 26:53 –and answer to Steven’s query that perhaps yes the degree to which we can make money is a kind of floating signifier. Because it might mean one thing, it might mean another. I see a lot of black folks, honestly, wasting it on bling. I mean it’s like Kanye said, “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven. Woke up and I spent it on a necklace.” It’s like, uh-uh. That happens. My and I think I want to stick with academia because one way that sort of prominence in academia is metric of progress in that– vis-a-vis Steven has brought up, progress in academia among people like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jelani Cobb help to shape the ways that we understand where we are in time and space. And I just feel like that is actually a measure of progress in that they’re taken seriously. When we want to understand, when we go to people to understand what is happening with Kanye West right now, we go to Ta-Nehisi and he makes sense of that for us. As opposed to going to – I don’t know – Ben Shapiro or Laura Ingram. I think that that means something.
S. FULLWOOD 28:16 I agree. I agree.
C.T. WEBB 28:19 Yeah. From my point of view, shit takes a really long time. It takes a really, really, really long time for things to move. And Seph I think you’ve thrown out numbers like there are three people and now there are 15. And I do still fundamentally believe in the abilities– not the sovereign abilities and not the sort of authoritarian ability, but the ability of elites and intellectuals to move culture and to push it. I mean there are a lot of other factors involved. There are a lot of other things that muddy the waters and get in the way. But, yeah, I think that black intellectuals and their visibility – and not visibility on TV but I mean– just think of sort of fill in the blank in a black history class. How many undergraduates are moving through that class? In a single university in a single year. 1,000? 1,200? And at one point–  I see a skeptical look on Steven’s face. Please jump in.
S. FULLWOOD 29:30 Yes. I was just thinking about how black studies came to being in the late 60s. And some of the collections I used to manage at the Sharnbrook Centre talk about the process of installing those black history programs in different universities: California, Yale and so forth. And they’re interesting because I think of at one point black history and Chicano studies were simply for black people. Meaning black people were taking those classes. They weren’t requirements classes. So we’ve got maybe– how many years now? 52. So that’s– what is it? Roughly 50 years of education in a school where we’re talking about blackness. And I think on CNN the other day I’m listening to an argument about a guy out in Arizona who says we should not be teaching Chicano studies, we should not be teaching black studies. We should just be teaching American history. Those arguments have a hard time dying down. And the reason why we’re teaching those things obviously, is because they’re not included in the curriculum. Or they’re included in the curriculum in very small, minimal ways.
C.T. WEBB 30:37 You’re right. But that’s still movement though. That’s still–
S. FULLWOOD 30:39 It’s a small song. And I’m not just saying this. It’s like you’re telling me to go slow.
C.T. WEBB 30:48 No. No. I’m saying go fast but from the point of view of history, it’s going to look slow.
S. FULLWOOD 30:55 It definitely feels slow in the body. It does. And in the heart. And the heaviness particularly when– like last week when I was thinking about the Yale student, where the white student called the police on the sleeping black Yale student and that she had done it before with another student just in the building. Just those things accumulate and they become very frustrating and it’s very hard to see the progress at times. And so I do know what you mean and I still feel it. I feel the pain of it.
C.T. WEBB 31:23 Yeah. I– Oh. I’m sorry. Go ahead. No. No Seph, please.
S. RODNEY 31:28 Excuse me. I just wanted to say that I think that that’s one of the things too that The Blackening addresses sort of sotto voce. What it does is it’s giving black people a place– it’s a bit of a safety valve, right? It lets off some of that steam that builds up precisely because we deal, almost daily, with situations like the one Steven just mentioned about the woman sleeping in the common area on the Yale campus building. I feel like the blackening was a way of saying to us and kind of letting in other people on the humor and saying, “Hey, this is how we laugh with each other because this shit out here is not easy.” And we need these moments where we can sort of point at how we represent ourselves to ourselves and say, “Yeah, you know what? We need to do this shit sometimes but hey, it’s funny too.”
S. FULLWOOD 32:26 It’s very funny. And humor has been– like you said, has allowed that valve to let go of some of that frustration and just laugh at it. Because if you weren’t laughing what would you be doing?
S. RODNEY 32:36 You’d be in a corner curled up, weeping, gnashing teeth, tearing clothes, talking shit.
S. FULLWOOD 32:44 And you may not just be tearing up yourself, you might be tearing up some other people. So that’s the thing. I think that that’s what I was trying to get at. It feels at times that the progress part of it is that, “Yes, I’m able to travel the country, I’m able to do certain things.” But then there are these– they aren’t even microaggressions, they’re just outright hostile acts, right?
C.T. WEBB 33:05 It’s not micro. So I think it’s appropriate to just have you guys have the last word given the topic. So I’m not going to add anything but–
S. FULLWOOD 33:13 Oh, c’mon Travis.
C.T. WEBB 33:13 I think we are out of time.
S. FULLWOOD 33:15 This is such [inaudible] blackness, Travis. It’s the one. You could say whatever you want. Didn’t you come up with the blackout? I mean with the [crosstalk] [laughter]?
S. RODNEY 33:21 Black-off.
C.T. WEBB 33:22 The black-off.
S. FULLWOOD 33:23 C’mon. Now. [crosstalk].
S. RODNEY 33:26 I love that.
S. FULLWOOD 33:27 That was a great line. Thank you. We’ll use it. Yeah.
C.T. WEBB 33:29 I actually just don’t have anything to add. I hear both of you and I think yeah, it’s nothing wrong with wanting shit to hurry up and move. Because it’s not microaggressions. It’s three Yale police officers showing up because you fell asleep [laughter]. I just–
S. FULLWOOD 33:51 That’s insanity. No, that’s a great–
C.T. WEBB 33:53 That’s just madness. That is just madness. So everyone thank you for joining us today. Seph and Steven, I look forward to speaking–
S. FULLWOOD 34:03 Thank you.
C.T. WEBB 34:04 –to one of you next week.
S. RODNEY 34:06 All right. [inaudible]. Thank you. See you Seph.
C.T. WEBB 34:08 Yeah. Have a great week guys.
S. FULLWOOD 34:10 You too.

References

First referenced at 00:41

Comedy Central 

The black cast member is always the first to die in a horror movie, but what happens when everyone is black?

First referenced at 10:27

Issa Rae

Creatives and entrepreneurs, let us take you behind the scenes of an indie production company with the IRP team.

First referenced at 18:21

Get Out

A black photographer’s weekend meeting his white girlfriend’s parents takes a terrifying turn in this horror hit from Jordan Peele.

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