0059   |   February 18, 2019

White Supremacy:
Obama, Excellence, and Black Aspiration

The hosts discuss Obama’s legacy as a “black” leader, and what it means about the present and future of “white” misanthropy. In particular his 2013 and 2016 speeches at Moorehouse and Howard Universities are closely examined.

C.T. WEBB: 00:19

[music] Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening and welcome to The American Age Podcast. My name is C. Travis Webb, editor of The American Age. And I am joined by my two friends. Gentlemen.

S. FULLWOOD: 00:29

Hi, I’m Steven Fullwood and I am the co-founder of the Nomadic Archivist Project; the project to help people arrest and love on their archives. And I am coming to you from Harlem and it’s cold outside. And I have a visitor with me, her name is Gwendolen Hardwick and she is a wonderful woman. She might speak today; she might not, but she’s here in the building.

S. RODNEY: 00:54

Amen [laughter]. My name is Seph Rodney, I’m coming to you from the Bronx; the South Bronx Mott Haven. I’m an editor at one of the best art magazines on the planet, Hyperallergic. And I’m a part-time faculty member at Parsons School of Design where I teach a research methodologies class. And I’m super hungry to get into this conversation today because it feels like we’re about to dismantle a bunch of stuff that holds up the construct we know as white supremacy. I’ve got my spade, I’ve got my hoe, I’ve got my sledgehammer. You all, I’m ready. Let’s do this.

C.T. WEBB: 01:39

So two things of note as we get started. I have someone that listens to the podcast somewhat regularly and said that they felt that the last exchange was one of our better exchanges. And not that they didn’t enjoy other programs, but I realize that it’s probably because we’re all pretty invested and well-read on the topic, and spend a lot of time thinking about it. So probably a recommendation to myself to make sure that I come as prepared to future topics that we bring to the table. So last week, to recap, we had– and we’ll probably only be able to cover one of the substance in the first podcast and then probably the other in the next podcast. So last week, we had talked about structural impediments to sort of black progress in the United States as far as what sort of impediments there might be to that. I think Steven and I were disagreeing about something and we had suggested to go back and actually look at one of Obama’s speeches. And we crossed our wires a little bit on that. I actually think I just made a mistake. And we originally agreed to look at the 2013 Morehouse speech. I looked at the 2016 Howard speech, so if I’m a little slow to respond when we talk about Morehouse, that’s why; it’s because I’m skimming it while we’re talking about it. So Seph or Steven, do you want to take us into the speech, and sort of what your thoughts were, and how you felt about it?

S. FULLWOOD: 03:09

I would love for Seph to start out. I would love that [laughter].

S. RODNEY: 03:11

Okay. Okay. I’m down. So here’s the deal, I read the transcript before I saw the video recording of it on YouTube. I want to preface it that way because I want to make it clear that I didn’t watch the entire speech. And reading it actually made certain things jump out at me that perhaps watching it on video would not have. There are two parts of the speech in particular that I want to draw our attention to where it may be argued that Obama is, in essence, made a kind of pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps argument, which is a point of contention for us in the last episode of the podcast. And here’s what he says, “Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them. And if they overcame them, you can overcome them too.” Applause. Now, towards the end of the speech– what I just read took place I think around the middle. Let’s say it’s about half an hour. It took place around the middle of the speech. The last bit here I’m going to read is about maybe two minutes from the end of the speech. And that’s where he says, “That’s what we’ve come to expect from you, Morehouse – a legacy of leaders – not just in our black community, but for the entire American community. To recognize the burdens you carry with you, but to resist the temptation to use them as excuses to transform the way we think of our manhood and set higher standards for ourselves and for others. To be successful, but also to understand that each of us has responsibilities, not just to ourselves but to one another and to future generations. Men who refuse to be afraid. Men who refuse to be afraid.”

S. RODNEY: 05:08

Now, the last bit, I think, really encapsulates essentially the arch of the entire speech which is, “I see you. I recognize the Morehouse community as being a community that is committed to cultivating leaders. I respect that. I’m defining community not only in–” Again, I’m not speaking for Obama. “I am defining community, not just in terms of–” And this was the sort of hallmark of his presidency, right. “Not just in terms of an ethnic community”, i.e. black folks. He wants to regard his community as the wider American community, right. So all that inclusivity, change, hope. That kind of thing is at the center of that articulation.

C.T. WEBB: 05:59

And in a deeper tradition, I would remark on as well.

S. RODNEY: 06:02

No. No, that’s right.

C.T. WEBB: 06:03

I mean, we can get into a much older tradition than America even.

S. RODNEY: 06:06

No, fair enough. Okay. But he’s essentially widening out this sort of tribal– the sense of what constitutes our tribe, right?

C.T. WEBB: 06:15

Mm-hmm.

S. FULLWOOD: 06:15

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

S. RODNEY: 06:16

And then he talks about how– and this is also essential to the way I think– or to Obama’s world view. He talks about how we must resist the temptation to see this structural impediments and use them as excuses, right?

S. FULLWOOD: 06:31

Right.

S. RODNEY: 06:32

And then he says, “Go on to be successful.” But also “successful” in again this sort of larger view of what constitutes success, i.e. it’s not just monetary, it’s not just financial. It’s also moral in some ways. It’s also integrated with the people in your community. And again, if you define your community in this sort of wider way that Obama wanted to, then you’re thinking beyond your family, you’re thinking beyond your ethnic affiliation, you’re thinking beyond even your geographical circle area. You’re thinking in a really aspirational way, I think, about what community can constitute. So that said, the problem we were discussing last time was that for many people in the black community who recognize these structural impediments, which we will get into, to say to someone, “Nobody cares about how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares that you suffered discrimination” is a really hard pill to swallow. Mind you, the way–

C.T. WEBB: 07:42

Is it not true though?

S. RODNEY: 07:43

Okay. Right. But the way he said it was different. He said it in a way there was a gentler on-ramp to that. It was something like, “Nobody cares, blah, blah, blah, something. And then nobody cares.” And the way he said it– and I looked at the people around him on the dais and they were nodding their heads. Most of them were nodding their heads and clearly vibing with him. So that’s my introduction to this speech.

C.T. WEBB: 08:14

Yeah. I mean, so I went to the– I jumped to the part of the speech that you were referencing. And the paragraph immediately before that, he draws on a Morehouse creed in order to contextualize that encouragement, in order contextualize– there’s a particular word that I want that’s not coming to me. So he wasn’t just out of thin air pulling on this–

S. RODNEY: 08:37

Right.

C.T. WEBB: 08:40

Yeah, I think we’re in agreement.

S. RODNEY: 08:41

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

C.T. WEBB: 08:41

But he’s drawing on a long tradition that Morehouse itself has advocated for, has encouraged, and motivated– used to encourage and motivate its student body. And so he was drawing on that tradition. Anyway, so that’s how I– I’m at least skimming it, which is honestly very similar to the Howard speech in some ways. But Steven, please [laughter].

S. RODNEY: 09:09

But do you object to any part of that Steven, of the speech?

S. FULLWOOD: 09:12

Do I object to any part of–? Because I like doing what I think of or I’m starting a call memory work that I think it’s important– I don’t think that either forgetting or minimizing what your experience has been helps to constitute change in the broader sense. And so I have a couple of confessions to make. The first confession is when I reread the speech, I was not as offended or as passionate about it. And I don’t know what the difference was between me reading it then and then reading it now, a couple of days ago. And I think the care thing is what I focused on the most, but I also felt like– I don’t know if I have a lot of respect for structures in the sense that Barack Obama comes to Morehouse– and there’s a certain kind of way I like being spoken to, just as a person, right. And so I don’t need to be told certain things. And so when I realized that intellectually being a little disingenuous. Because he’s talking to students who are students and they’re about to graduate and go out into the world, I read it as condescending. I read it as– can’t you pull from some other basket, even if it was the Morehouse creed? Can you pull from some other kind of liberation kind of thing? And I’m like, “That’s also a little ridiculous” because that’s not how he came into this position, that’s not how he’s run his campaign. It’s always been the, “Unite, integrate, and we can all come together” kind of thing. And I just expect more from him. And so in order for me to continue doing this work, I have to admit my bias, my frustrations, and what I conceive of as an arrogance.

S. FULLWOOD: 11:07

I was listening to Michelle Obama this morning talk about her book and how she and Barack definitely felt they are role models and that they came from that perspective, “How can we make things better?” And I felt that they’re just okay agents of averageness. I think they’re very smart people.

S. RODNEY: 11:26

Oh.

C.T. WEBB: 11:27

No, no.

S. RODNEY: 11:28

Ouch. Damn.

S. FULLWOOD: 11:30

But I feel like they’ve walked a road that has been there for them through ages.

C.T. WEBB: 11:37

But do you think that they take that for granted? I have never got that impression.

S. FULLWOOD: 11:41

I don’t think they take it for granted. No, no–

C.T. WEBB: 11:43

I have never gotten that impression.

S. FULLWOOD: 11:43

–I don’t think they take it for granted. I think they think that they’re smarter than they actually are.

C.T. WEBB: 11:47

Oh. Damn. So [crosstalk].

S. RODNEY: 11:48

I brought a sledgehammer; you brought a Howitzer.

S. FULLWOOD: 11:52

No, no, no, I respect them. I respect them. Maybe I need to frame this a bit differently in that–

C.T. WEBB: 11:57

Where do you find their intellect deficient?

S. RODNEY: 12:00

Right. Average? Damn.

C.T. WEBB: 12:01

At what point do you find their point of view of the world to be so lacking that you would place them in the camp of mediocrity [laughter]? Seriously, that is just shocking to me.

S. RODNEY: 12:15

And I want to just say this out loud just for the record.

S. FULLWOOD: 12:18

And I’ll answer my question in a moment.

S. RODNEY: 12:19

And I know most people know this, but Barack Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review. I have to say, I respect that. That’s hard to do. That’s hard to do, Steven. Come on.

S. FULLWOOD: 12:33

No, it’s extremely hard to do. It’s extremely hard to do.

S. RODNEY: 12:37

Come on.

S. FULLWOOD: 12:38

But I have a healthy respect for intellectual rigor, and intelligence, and that sort of thing. And I keep my brain open. I think about it this way. So when did– Oh, God. It’s a possibility that ensures that people of African descent, women, disabled folks – what is called – and you put it in a workplace to make sure that people have a fair chance at getting a job.

C.T. WEBB: 13:07

Affirmative action.

S. FULLWOOD: 13:08

Right. It’s become a racial thing over the years. But it meant that people who didn’t have access to things had access to those things now. But before that, you both would agree with me that there were qualified people all along, all the time–

S. RODNEY: 13:26

Yes.

S. FULLWOOD: 13:27

–regardless of their access to education.

S. RODNEY: 13:29

Absolutely.

S. FULLWOOD: 13:30

So I hug and I love Michelle and Barack, I do. But I also know that this could have been done before. They just happen to be in the right place and the right time to–

C.T. WEBB: 13:43

So that’s of course true. Of course that’s true.

S. FULLWOOD: 13:46

But I’m not finished.

C.T. WEBB: 13:47

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Go ahead, please, please. Sorry.

S. FULLWOOD: 13:49

Yes. I respect that they are intelligent, but I also feel there were end-roads for these people to do what they’ve done, that the time was right, and that the things that they speak of– and when I say, “Agents of averageness”, I’m not really talking about their intellect; I’m really talking about the kinds of things that they’ve advocated. And they were just average in that way. The most exciting thing about Barack Obama and Michelle Obama is that they were the President and the First Lady to me. That was exciting that my father could see a black president because of the symbolism of it. But what were they going to do once they got in their office? And it was eight years of some good things and some bad things. But overall-

C.T. WEBB: 14:29

There’s 350 million-plus people in the United States. A dizzying number of constituencies and political views. What did you want him to do?

S. FULLWOOD: 14:42

That’s an excuse. Now, that’s an excuse. I think that’s an excuse.

C.T. WEBB: 14:45

No, I think that–

S. FULLWOOD: 14:46

I would want– I would say this–

C.T. WEBB: 14:46

No, I think that’s a reality, Steven.

S. FULLWOOD: 14:51

I say it’s a way to think about. I think that Jeremiah Wright might have something to say about that.

C.T. WEBB: 14:54

[laughter] So I was just–

S. FULLWOOD: 14:56

And other people may have something to say about that about what you can do when you’re in that office. This man’s having [inaudible] within the first three or four months. Really?

C.T. WEBB: 15:02

And how many elections has Jeremiah Wright won? How many elections has he won?

S. RODNEY: 15:08

Oh. Okay.

S. FULLWOOD: 15:09

I’m speaking about the–

C.T. WEBB: 15:09

I think approximately zero. No, no because–

S. FULLWOOD: 15:10

What you’re saying is that the framework of the office itself dictates how people should act, correct? This is what you’re saying?

C.T. WEBB: 15:18

No, it dictates what they can do.

S. RODNEY: 15:19

No, constrains. It constrains.

C.T. WEBB: 15:22

It constrains, absolutely. It limits the possibility of what can be done. I’m sorry, Seph. Go ahead. Jump in.

S. RODNEY: 15:30

No, no, no, it’s fine. No, no, no. I want to jump in here because I think I have–

S. FULLWOOD: 15:33

The limits of possibilities of what can be done. Okay. I’ll redress that.

S. RODNEY: 15:37

I think I have, well, what I hope to be the perfect rejoinder to Steven’s–

C.T. WEBB: 15:41

If you do say so yourself [laughter].

S. RODNEY: 15:43

Yes. Steven’s polemic. Look at it this way, Steven. Look at the things that the Trump administration has done to undo Barack Obama’s presidency in terms of the rules and the legal frameworks that he set out, and tell me that that wasn’t average presidency. I mean, they have gone so far as to rollback regulations on light bulbs. Now, here’s the thing.

S. FULLWOOD: 16:13

Trump is not an average presidency. That’s not average.

S. RODNEY: 16:16

No, no, fair enough. No, no, fair enough. That’s right. But what I’m saying is that he put the nation, at least on a legal footing, at least on a policy footing, that was so obnoxious, so–

C.T. WEBB: 16:34

Retrograde is the word I would use for Trump, yeah.

S. RODNEY: 16:35

Yes, yes, for conservatives in that they literally lost their minds enough to install someone like Trump.

C.T. WEBB: 16:45

Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were talking about Trump’s policies. You were Barack’s.

S. RODNEY: 16:48

No, but that’s the perception that what Obama did in terms of expanding government managed land, natural environments, expanding the access of gay and trans folks to military careers–

S. FULLWOOD: 17:06

He had to be convinced. Go ahead.

S. RODNEY: 17:08

No, fair enough. Fair enough. And to top it off, the actual sea change in American– or rather I should say US health care. As flawed as it was, the Affordable Care Act actually saved people’s lives. You and I know people– and we have people in common, Steven – we know – who’s lives were literally saved by the Affordable Care Act, right?

S. FULLWOOD: 17:37

Oh, absolutely.

S. RODNEY: 17:38

Right. So I want to say there’s no way, given all of that, I can define or characterize Obama’s presidency, as flawed as it was, as mediocre. I cannot.

S. FULLWOOD: 17:53

That wasn’t my word. That was your word.

S. RODNEY: 17:55

No, fair enough.

C.T. WEBB: 17:57

Average. I mean, come on, it’s a synonym [laughter]. I mean, come on.

S. RODNEY: 18:01

I cannot even– I just don’t see that. Can’t agree with you on that one.

S. FULLWOOD: 18:07

Fair enough. Fair enough.

C.T. WEBB: 18:10

So the thing is, I thought a lot about our interaction last week, Steven. And I think you have a point about sort of self-limitations. “Well, this is only as far as we’re going to be able to get, so this is what we should try and do”, right. As opposed to, honestly, what Trump does, “We’re going to land on the moon tomorrow.” Or I’m sorry, we actually–

S. FULLWOOD: 18:42

[crosstalk].

C.T. WEBB: 18:44

“We were on the moon yesterday” [laughter].

S. RODNEY: 18:47

You just didn’t notice it.

C.T. WEBB: 18:47

You didn’t notice with all the fake news, yeah. There is something to be said about the ability to move goal posts in that way. So I think I can hear that criticism of the Obama administration and the Obama White House. I think that’s not entirely unfair. What I do think though is that it feels to me like there is a persistent– and you are going to have to be a– I know you’re not a strawman, but representative of a particular idea that you may not fully agree with.

S. FULLWOOD: 19:20

I can take it. Surely, mm-hmm.

C.T. WEBB: 19:22

So in the Howard speech, he talks specifically about– maybe he does in the Morehouse speech too. He talks specifically about people that are unwilling to acknowledge progress. And he kind of goes through a litany of things that have changed since his father was a young man. And I do feel like amongst people whose politics I certainly share and certainly whose aspirations I share, I would imagine that if you were to do sort of a bullet point of our aspirations for what American society would look like, Steven, you and I would probably be in wide agreement on just about everything. But I do feel like sometimes people that have, I’ll say, “our” orientation to how we would like the country to look and how we would like the world to look are reluctant to acknowledge the changes and improvements that have in fact occurred in the last, certainly, 200 years, right. But not even 200. Go back to the Governor of Virginia, right. I mean, it was acceptable for Ted– I mean, it was a misfire, but Ted Danson. You have people who have worn blackface fairly recently and now we are just sort of the– the mainstream of the people we would not hate to share a meal with are so outraged at this absurd behavior by someone who’s now the Governor of Virginia. I don’t know how you call that anything but progress. That seems better to me.

S. FULLWOOD: 20:57

I really, really enjoy the way you set this up. And I just read this. “I tell you all this because it’s important to know progress.” This is the paragraph that I think you might be referring to–

C.T. WEBB: 21:06

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that sounds right.

S. FULLWOOD: 21:06

–at the Howard speech. And I was moved. I was moved. I was able to split my brain up, and listen to you, and read this [laughter].

C.T. WEBB: 21:13

I believe you.

S. FULLWOOD: 21:14

And I definitely feel as if that progress is always happening in some manner, shape, or form. Absolutely. What I have often been pushed back on– okay. Now, how do I frame this? I think our idea of progress, at times, can be limited based on the structures. And that our imagines are deflated because of it or just don’t come into play about what it could really look like. I definitely agree with you that I– well, I mean, I was going to say “Minimize Obama’s presidency.” But I don’t think so. I think that you guys made some really good points about the context. But what I fell into– the trap that I fell into is that blackface progress, not blackface as in the Virginia Governor. Blackface means progress or black people mean progress, and a particular kind of progress. I thought it was interesting that with Jeremiah Wright, with that thing, I thought he could have handled that a little more gracefully, and he really didn’t. And then there are other things that I find that probably will continue to be seen– or my argument will be seen as, “What do you expect?” He was on there for eight years. We’re talking about a system that’s been going on for what – I don’t know – 200-plus years and that we need to be patient. And I just go back to that Nina Simone song, Mississippi Goddam. And I have other versions. And there are other versions of seeing what progress could really look like. And I’m frustrated with the structure. I’m frustrated with the people at times. And the symbolism of people being upset about blackface, to me, doesn’t encourage me necessarily because I feel that’s the news item for the moment. We’ll see what happens to Virginia. Do either of you know if he’s decided to resign?

C.T. WEBB: 23:11

No. As of this morning– I’m sorry Seph, I’ve spoken a lot today.

S. RODNEY: 23:15

No, no, no, please, go ahead. I’m good.

C.T. WEBB: 23:18

As of this morning, I read that he was planning on making some– there was a lot of eyes on him today because he was going to announce his budget. And there’s talk about whether he was going to push for a more radical budget that reinstills some money into head-start programs, and education, and things like that.

S. FULLWOOD: 23:39

Smart guy.

C.T. WEBB: 23:41

Yeah, yeah. So we’ll see. I have to say, if the result of this whole thing is that he becomes– if this pushes him to the left, to be a more aggressive governor on those fronts, then great, I’m glad he stayed in office and is able to advocate and push for those things. Unfortunately, I mean, I think that your skepticism is well earned. What is likely to happen is the new cycle will move on and six months to a year will go by. I mean, it’s hard to say what local constituency will do in Virginia, right. I mean, they may hold his feet to the fire. The black caucus there may hold his feet to the fire. But–

S. FULLWOOD: 24:24

Or extract from him what you’re saying, him moving more left and saying, “You’re apologies need to reflect this” or kind of push him in that direction. So it really kind of depends on what dog they have in that particular fight. So that’s what I was thinking when it comes to this blackface thing. But I don’t want to get too far off from what you’re saying. I think, Seph, you wanted to say something related to this.

S. RODNEY: 24:47

If I may, I want to just kind of pull us back into thinking about how this discussion has meaning with the larger framework of our conversation around white supremacy, right?

C.T. WEBB: 25:05

Right. Right.

S. RODNEY: 25:05

So just to remind myself, and to my [inaudible], and our listeners, so we started off with talking about what white supremacy really is. And I had an issue with it being considered a belief system as opposed to an economic–

C.T. WEBB: 25:20

Right. A structural.

S. RODNEY: 25:22

Right. A structural, systematic system of domination. A system of domination. A systematic system [laughter]. But what we came to was realizing that a very critical component of that is the ideology, is the belief. So it’s not like it’s either or, right. And that got us off onto thinking, “Well, how was this ideology essentially historically challenged in the US? What happened?” And then we talked about Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency and what that meant. And then that’s how we got onto this conversation about Barack Obama essentially as representative of a very key shift in this sort of domination of whiteness in this nation. And we also talked about how whiteness is essentially misanthropy. There’s a hatred of the body at the bottom of whiteness, right?

C.T. WEBB: 26:24

Mm-hmm.

S. FULLWOOD: 26:24

Mm-hmm, yeah.

S. RODNEY: 26:25

And then that lead us to the question, “If you have this president, well what does his presidency really constitute? And, at the same time, what are the structural impediments for black folks of means–” not the poor, right?

S. FULLWOOD: 26:45

Right.

C.T. WEBB: 26:45

Mm-hmm.

S. RODNEY: 26:46

That will [inaudible] this question. Black folks of means, what are the actual structural impediments to them essentially not being held in-check by the system of dominance?

C.T. WEBB: 26:59

So a masterful summary, Seph. The only thing I want to jump in with this– we’ve only got a few minutes left. So that last piece about structural impediments, I have what I think is a fairly concrete and contemporary example but I’d like to save for the next podcast.

S. RODNEY: 27:17

Yeah. And I have a few examples, so [laughter].

C.T. WEBB: 27:19

There’s probably no shortage. So to stay with just the speeches for a moment, and to respond to something that Steven had, and then I’ll let you guys have the last word. Obama’s response to Reverend Wright, to me, was the moment that he really solidified the seriousness of his presidential campaign. And I would say it was the political equivalent of dunking in Charles Barkley’s face. And I don’t mean against Reverend Wright, I mean that he essentially took this kryptonite that had been used for 40 or 50 years on the national stage against black politicians: Jesse Jackson, run the list. Angry radical black men that want to take your forty acres and a mule. This was the kryptonite that had been used forever. And Obama just dunked on them. He just said, “No, this is not what I think. You are not going to put me in this box. You do not get to define what blackness is. You don’t get to define what my presidency is. I’m bigger than that.” As every black man or woman is bigger than their racial affiliation, right. And that is what’s pernicious about whiteness and where I see dangers in that sort of black politics which is that it constrains your humanity. And Obama refused to be constrained by that. And he spoke directly to people. And people that I bet you in any other election would not have voted for him or even a democrat. I think he won those votes. I really do feel like that was powerful moment for him.

S. RODNEY: 29:14

That is a really– sorry, Steven, I just want to jump in because that is a really provocative statement. As I’m thinking about this, I’m really in agreement with you because what happens is that whiteness frames blackness in these particular way that are powerful for black people, right?

C.T. WEBB: 29:35

Absolutely.

S. RODNEY: 29:35

So you can be the angry black man. And I was saying– actually, I had this great conversation with someone when I was in Chicago a few weeks ago to review a couple of art exhibitions. And I ran into someone who writes for– Oh, I’m not going to remember her name. But she’s a colleague and I’ve seen her before. I want to say she writes for The Nation or Art in America, one of those. Anyway, we were talking about the kind of cache we can sometimes have. Or it was because I left my stuff in a room within the museum. And then we’d gone out for a talk and come back and were talking to each other about how we were going to convince the guards to let us back there because we’re not staff. And she said, “I can do the–” what’s the word she used? “The white woman who’s insisting on her rights. And dammit, you’re going to get your manager and then you’re going to let me into this room.”

S. FULLWOOD: 30:38

[laughter] Membership past privileges, yes.

C.T. WEBB: 30:39

That’s right.

S. RODNEY: 30:41

And I was like, “Yeah, and I can play the angry black man” and some six of one, half a dozen of another. And she’s like, “Yeah, but the privileged white woman probably has a little bit more cache.” And I was like, “You know what, you’re right. It probably does. It does.” And that’s the thing I think you’re getting at Travis is that– and one of the things that makes me think that Barack Obama’s not average is that he refused to play that game according to those rules. He refused to be the angry black man versus white privilege, right. And I think that he did something wonderful. In just these terms, he just widened the lexicon from which we can pull. I would argue that. There’s a wider variety of blackness, at least nationally–

S. FULLWOOD: 31:41

For whom? For whom?

S. RODNEY: 31:42

–performed.

S. FULLWOOD: 31:43

For the US? For whites? For blacks? What are we talking about? I know this guy. I know who Obama is.

S. RODNEY: 31:46

For all of us. For all of us.

C.T. WEBB: 31:48

So we’ve only got a couple minutes left. Can we let Steven have the last word?

S. RODNEY: 31:52

Steven have the last word, yes.

S. FULLWOOD: 31:54

So I like to pick this up in a future podcast to really talk about Obama because his reliance on meritocracy disturbs me greatly. And right now there’s just not enough time to get into it. But I really appreciate your Obama, Reverend White comment, Travis, because it said a lot of things in my head. I was like, “Okay. I’d love to explore that more.”

C.T. WEBB: 32:17

Okay. All right. So we will do an Obama podcast during our white supremacy series. So Steven and Seph, thank you as always for the conversation.

S. RODNEY: 32:26

Indeed. It was really great.

C.T. WEBB: 32:30

Take care.

S. RODNEY: 32:31

All right.

References

*No referneces for podcast 0059*

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