White Supremacy

Feb 11, 2019

TAA 0058 – The hosts begin their conversation about “white supremacy.” What does the supremacy of whites mean? Who is “white”? Are institutions or individuals primarily to blame for its perpetuation? And is it, in fact, perpetuating? Join us as we work through these and other questions.

C.T. WEBB: 00:19 [music] Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening, and welcome to The American Age Podcast. This is C. Travis Webb, editor of The American Age, and I’m speaking to you from Southern California.
S. RODNEY: 00:29 Good afternoon, good morning, good evening. I am Seph Rodney. I am an editor at Hyperallergic, the arts blog, and on the adjunct faculty at Parsons. And I am fighting a cold, but I will be stalwart through this podcast. I promise you [laughter].
S. FULLWOOD: 00:50 I am Steven G. Fullwood, and I am cofounder of the Nomadic Archivists Project, a consulting company that helps individuals and organizations help develop, think about, and support their archival sensibilities, and specifically people dealing with materials produced by people of African descent or about people of African descent. And I’m coming to you from Harlem. I’m not associated with any university or college, but I seem to be in a lot of them these days.
S. RODNEY: 01:17 Nice one.
C.T. WEBB: 01:20 And this is to remind our listeners that we practice a form of what we call intellectual intimacy, which means giving each other the space and time to figure out things out loud with one another. So our previous series of podcasts were on pornography, and we talked about it from a variety of angles. And we transition today to talking about white supremacy and obviously a huge topic, as was pornography, and coincidentally topical. I mean, I say coincidentally. It’s always in the news. So, I mean, maybe not quite as front and center as the governor of Virginia wearing blackface.
S. RODNEY: 02:00 Jesus Christ.
S. FULLWOOD: 02:02 “I don’t know which one I was.”
S. RODNEY: 02:04 I know.
S. FULLWOOD: 02:04 “Was I in the KKK outfit? Or was I in blackface?”
S. RODNEY: 02:06 “But let me tell you this story about dressing up like– trying to be like Michael Jackson.” This shit, motherfucker.
C.T. WEBB: 02:13 I know. And then he tried to minimize it by making it sound like he would put the blackface on like he was a linebacker [laughter]. He’s like, “Oh, just a little bit under the eye. Just a little bit under the eye.”
S. RODNEY: 02:23 Just a little war paint.
C.T. WEBB: 02:23 It’s like, “A little bit under the eye”? What?
S. RODNEY: 02:26 And his wife, bless her heart, had to stop him from attempt– he looked around like he was going to show people that he could still moonwalk. Dear God.
C.T. WEBB: 02:38 I know [laughter]. I know. I know. So I don’t know that we’ll talk specifically about the soon-to-be-former governor of Virginia [laughter] because he will be soon. He will be. He’ll step down [crosstalk].
S. RODNEY: 02:50 No, no. He has to. He has to.
C.T. WEBB: 02:53 Yeah. But Seph has suggested, and we were all in agreement. We’re kind of on the same page that we’d start the series of podcasts by trying to wrangle the term a little bit because obviously there’s a variety of ways to define the term. So we’d like to maybe come to some understanding with one another about how we’re using it, consensus or no consensus, to at least see where each of us is coming from. So Steven or Seph, which one of you wants to jump in?
S. RODNEY: 03:21 Steven, shall I?
S. FULLWOOD: 03:22 Seph.
S. RODNEY: 03:23 Yeah. Great. I’m totally–
S. FULLWOOD: 03:24 Yeah. Have at it.
S. RODNEY: 03:25 –totally ready to do this. So this is something I would never ask my students to do. In fact, I would warn my students off from doing. And I’m going to break that rule myself today because I think it’s a good place to start, Wikipedia. I looked at white supremacy [laughter]. I know it’s super basic. I admit it.
C.T. WEBB: 03:46 I will defend Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia is an absolute–
S. FULLWOOD: 03:48 I kind of do too.
C.T. WEBB: 03:51 I think it is a wonderful tool.
S. RODNEY: 03:52 And I financially support them too.
S. FULLWOOD: 03:54 That’s the issue.
S. RODNEY: 03:54 And one of the few–
C.T. WEBB: 03:55 And fuck snobs that say– and say otherwise. I really feel strongly about it, [actually?].
S. FULLWOOD: 04:00 Oh, wow.
S. RODNEY: 04:00 Yeah. Well, it’s actually– and it’s an intellectual commons, right? It’s where we actually go to have that conversation with ourselves.
S. FULLWOOD: 04:07 Absolutely. [crosstalk].
C.T. WEBB: 04:08 Yeah. Of course, you’re not going to get the deepest on any particular thing, but it is not a bad place to start.
S. RODNEY: 04:15 Okay. Cool.
C.T. WEBB: 04:15 I’m sorry. Anyway [crosstalk].
S. RODNEY: 04:17 So I’m not going to feel guilty about that anymore. Good. So here’s the deal, which is really fascinating to me about what Wikipedia has to say about white supremacy. And I think that this is kind of a mistake, but let me get into the weeds. On the site, the entry on white supremacy begins, “White supremacy or white supremacism is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore should be dominant over them. White supremacy has roots in scientific racism and is often blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Then further down, yeah, there are three paragraphs. In the third paragraph, “In academic usage, particularly in usage which draws on critical race theory or intersectionality, the term “white supremacy” can also refer to a political or a socioeconomic system in which white people enjoy a structural advantage (privilege) over other ethnic groups on both a collective and individual level.”
S. RODNEY: 05:24 Now, that’s a lovely articulation, but here’s my problem. The first entry is the notion that it’s a belief– or rather the first thing that’s said, right, is the notion it’s a belief. Further down – and this has all kinds of codicils around it, right? – it’s couched in a way to say that there is in academic usage, right, which I already object to. It’s not just in academic usage. It’s for people who are clear-eyed who can see that white supremacy absolutely is a political and socioeconomic system. There is a systematic, a systematized way in which, yes, in the US, particularly– and maybe I should climb off my soapbox just a little bit and realize that maybe they’re not talking about the US here. Whoever wrote this might be being more general. But at least in the US, there are clear structural advantages to being racially recognized as white, clear structural advantages, and not just advantage, advantages. And it’s not just in academic usage. Again, it’s systematic. So that to me is indicative of a kind of cognitive dissonance that we have in the US. When I think most people start talking about race, they start from this position of belief. And I want to say this is silly. You don’t ask people whether they believe– you shouldn’t ask people whether they believe in climate change. You should ask them whether they understand it. You shouldn’t ask people whether they believe in racism. You should ask them whether they understand it. So that’s where I want to start.
S. FULLWOOD: 07:15 Okay. Travis?
C.T. WEBB: 07:18 No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Steven, jump in.
S. FULLWOOD: 07:21 No, no. Actually, I’m still forming a thought about something that Seph said that impacts what I want to say. So go right ahead.
C.T. WEBB: 07:29 Okay. All right. So I feel like you– I feel like you might be [probing?] a little bit, but that’s all right. So, I mean, I couldn’t provide a more succinct definition than the one Seph pulled from Wikipedia, I mean, structural advantages for people that are considered white. And I have a hard time with the topic, which is why I suggested it, because I think almost all of the discourse around it is just wrong–
S. RODNEY: 08:12 Really?
C.T. WEBB: 08:13 –and broken. And I know we’ll do different podcasts on different things. I mean, white people, white people, right–
S. RODNEY: 08:27 Quote unquote.
C.T. WEBB: 08:28 –was a historical invention, right?
S. RODNEY: 08:32 Right.
C.T. WEBB: 08:33 17th century. And I do absolutely believe that there were structural– that there were institutions in the West that perpetuated and reinforced this mythology. And I think that those structures got exported to the United States and perfected in the United States. I mean, just like many things in US history, we did it bigger and better, right [laughter]? Not something to be proud of, but I mean we really–
S. FULLWOOD: 09:18 Yay. We did it.
C.T. WEBB: 09:19 That’s right. And we–
S. RODNEY: 09:20 USA, number one.
C.T. WEBB: 09:23 Right. Right. And we accelerated it and expanded it and wrecked ourselves with it. Yeah. I mean, I don’t know how we talk about white supremacy without talking about the belief though, and that is the core belief that there is any such thing–
S. RODNEY: 09:50 As white.
C.T. WEBB: 09:51 –as white people, as black people. I mean, that is a belief. That is a mythology. It does not correspond to the world. There are no races, I mean, in the scientific use of the term. Now, I also think the discourse around race purely invented by the West, that’s just not true. Ethnos in the Greek has been translated as race for a very long time. And the Jews consider themselves an ethnos in 6th century BCE– that’s a little too early, 1st century. So it’s not that we invented race, but we gave it the sham scientific glamour that it corresponds to biology–
S. RODNEY: 10:48 Nice.
C.T. WEBB: 10:49 –at all. So sometimes I feel, when we talk about it, I feel like we’re talking about dragons, like, “Well, I think fire-breathing dragons could easily defeat electric-breathing dragons [laughter].” It’s just not real. And I think that– and this is one of the reasons I wanted to bring this up as a topic because you guys are very much involved in sort of thinking through these things. If you were on the side that is advocating for something like Black Lives Matter or for sort of revivifying or reedifying black culture, how do you win that game when you were already the downside invention of a white [supremacist?] structure? It’s like the devil saying, “We should reign in heaven.” You have already allowed your oppressor to define your terms. And I know that there are arguments on the other side, so I want to give Steven a chance to talk.
S. RODNEY: 12:01 That’s a lot. That’s a lot to chew on.
C.T. WEBB: 12:03 I know. Yeah.
S. FULLWOOD: 12:04 Thank you, Travis [laughter]. [inaudible]. And I did have a sense that’s where you were going because we’ve talked about these things before on the podcast. And so I’d say maybe about a month ago on my Instagram, there’s a woman by the name of Ty Shaw. And Ty Shaw is this really wonderful woman. She’s a sexologist. She lives in Atlanta. And she does all this wonderful stuff, and she’s very smart. And so she used the term white misanthropy. Okay. So I contacted her, and I said, “So tell me what did you mean by that?” “Because,” she says, “it’s not white supremacy. It’s white misanthropy.” Now, I’m willing to drop the white for you, Travis, but the misanthropy for me is very strong.
C.T. WEBB: 12:47 No, no. Don’t do it for me. Do it for yourself.
S. FULLWOOD: 12:48 Oh, no, no, no, no. No, no, no. No, no, no. I’m joking, and I’m keeping it [laughter]. For me, it’s a political thing. And so what she said, I thought, was really interesting, was that it’s a dislike of humankind. I like what Toni Morrison kind of knits these things together by saying– and she was on Charlie Rose once, and she said– Charlie was asking her, “Well, how does it feel?” you know, in terms of blackness. So she says, “Well, that’s the wrong question to ask. How does it feel for you?” And she says, “Not you as you, Charlie, but how does it feel without this apparatus, without this lie of race, what do you have? Are you any good? Are you strong?” She says, “If you need to–“
C.T. WEBB: 13:30 That’s wonderful.
S. FULLWOOD: 13:30 “If someone else needs to be on their knees for you to feel good, you have a serious problem.” And she says, “And for me, white people have a serious problem. And they need to figure out what they are going to do about it. Leave me out of it.” And I thought it was an interesting sort of taking of this idea and flipping it because she goes, “We hear about this thing, whites oppressing blacks and how terrible it is.” And she goes, “I’m not a victim. I’ve never been a victim.”
C.T. WEBB: 13:58 So is–
S. FULLWOOD: 13:59 “I always knew I had the higher moral ground over this,” because she knew that that was ridiculous.
C.T. WEBB: 14:03 That warms my heart. That sounds exactly– I mean, I’m 100% behind that argument. But when we throw out terms like white people, right, and what that means in that category, who are white people? Is Clarence Thomas a white person?
S. RODNEY: 14:25 Yes. You’re goddamn right he is [laughter].
S. FULLWOOD: 14:28 So if we’re talking about beliefs, that’s a good point, Travis, is what you’re getting at.
S. RODNEY: 14:32 No. That’s right.
C.T. WEBB: 14:32 Am I a white person?
S. RODNEY: 14:34 No.
C.T. WEBB: 14:34 Because I’m radical than most colored folks walking around the planet.
S. RODNEY: 14:39 I know.
S. FULLWOOD: 14:40 I won’t ratify that. I won’t ratify that because I don’t know what that means fully and honestly. But I think that it’s an association with a particular kind of ethnic origin but also, obviously, a mindset. So we’re just talking about whiteness, not white supremacy or–
S. RODNEY: 14:56 Exactly.
S. FULLWOOD: 14:57 –what I like to call this white misanthropy. So–
C.T. WEBB: 15:01 I do like the misanthropy.
S. FULLWOOD: 15:01 And I’m not–
C.T. WEBB: 15:02 I think that’s a– I think that’s a good catch. I think that’s exactly right. I do think that there is a baseline disdain–
S. FULLWOOD: 15:08 Yeah. Just–
C.T. WEBB: 15:08 –for human beings at the base of white supremacy. Absolutely.
S. FULLWOOD: 15:12 At the base of it because we’re not talking about– because I was listening to some KKK members and some other videos this morning around white supremacy. And it made me think, when people argue with you, and they’re going back and forth. And these are two white men talking about for and against white supremacy, and the goalposts keep moving back. So the guy kept asking the KKK member, “Well, how do you feel about this?” And he was like, “No. I didn’t say that. No. That’s your problem.” And it was like it didn’t have a lot of teeth, even from the beginning, it didn’t. But I was like, “Okay. So what is it? You just don’t like people? Is that it? Is it just a disdain for humankind?” And therefore, the people I think I look like and think I have the same ideals with, these are the people that all together we’re going to say, “Jews and blacks are just getting out of control here. What about white rights? What about this?” And it just felt empty. It felt like, “Well, what is in that? What’s in this idea of supremacy or the idea of it?” Because it makes no sense to me.
S. RODNEY: 16:16 So I want to remind Travis and tell Steven about something Travis wrote for Hyperallergic, actually, years ago. I had invited several people to talk about white supremacy in the mainstream art world, art scene. And Farid Matuk had submitted a few hundred words. Oasa DuVerney, an artist I know. Nizan Shaked, who’s an academic out in Cal State Long Beach, who writes on the intersection of critical race theory and the art scene a lot. I think she has a book coming out soon. And maybe one or two others– oh yeah, Herukhuti wrote something.
S. FULLWOOD: 17:11 Oh, cool. Cool.
S. RODNEY: 17:12 But one of the things that Travis said which stuck with me, which I’m bringing up now, is he said that the thing about whiteness– and I’m going to badly paraphrase based on what I remember. What Travis argued was that whiteness essentially constitutes a deep disdain and fear and shame of the body and that–
S. FULLWOOD: 17:39 Oh, shit [laughter].
S. RODNEY: 17:40 –and that whiteness actually is constituted in denying that people essentially have base matter bodies, right? They don’t to be– whiteness is about not wanting to be embodied. And he ended with this really– he ended the piece with this really memorable image of, if you want to get rid of whiteness, then what you should do is just have– as they did at a certain period in the Roman civilization, you should just have open toilets so everyone could see everybody going and doing what they do in their most private moments. And that would get rid of, or at least mitigate, the shame that we’ve learned to have around pissing and shitting, around the body, around being this base matter that takes in sustenance and gets rid of waste, and feels things and cries, and sometimes curls up in a ball in a corner and doesn’t know how to handle the world. Whiteness is about denying– at least, this is what I think Travis was arguing, that whiteness is, at its base, about denying that thing that we are, all of us.
C.T. WEBB: 18:59 Yes. That’s [crosstalk]–
S. FULLWOOD: 18:59 Do you know this Travis guy is really smart [laughter]. [crosstalk]. That really is a beautiful– no, seriously. That’s quite beautiful, Travis.
C.T. WEBB: 19:07 Yeah. Thank you.
S. FULLWOOD: 19:07 I really, really like this because it really kind of connects with the Toni Morrison thing. And also, another comment she made about– it is denying the body. She says, “How can you cut off your arm? It’s like cutting off part of yourself. It’s like saying those people don’t belong here with me or they’re taking something from me.” And so wow, wow, wow. So he did get it right though, by the way. before I continue to compliment you [laughter]?
C.T. WEBB: 19:34 He did, actually. Yeah. Thank you very much. You did me more justice than I deserve, I think, but I appreciate it.
S. RODNEY: 19:40 Well, go ahead. I’m sorry. I interrupted you.
C.T. WEBB: 19:43 I was going to say, as an anecdote to illustrate what I think white supremacy is or what whiteness is, is an anecdote about Thomas Jefferson, who is arguably one of the whitest people in history [laughter]. I mean, just in all of its embodied contradictions and its aspirations and consequences.
S. FULLWOOD: 20:04 Very complicated.
C.T. WEBB: 20:06 And in Monticello, he had these dumbwaiters where he would put an empty tray into this panel in the wall that would slide up, and then close the tray. And then a few minutes later, open the panel, and then the tray would be replenished with drinks. What was happening was he had a whole kitchen full of slaves that were pulling the–
S. FULLWOOD: 20:33 [Insulated cable?]. Yeah.
C.T. WEBB: 20:35 That’s right. They were on these pulleys. Thank you. And slave people – I appreciate the correction – that would pull this tray down, refill it, and then haul it back up to the top. That is whiteness, that magic trick on other people’s backs–
S. FULLWOOD: 20:56 Oh, definitely.
C.T. WEBB: 20:56 –on other people’s backs. That’s what that is. Yeah. It’s like, “Look, I don’t have to pour my own drink. The wall slides and it appears.”
S. FULLWOOD: 21:11 Ring [laughter].
C.T. WEBB: 21:12 And it’s like 40 people downstairs that are running around. Yeah. So that’s–
S. FULLWOOD: 21:20 Yeah. Yeah. And on other people’s backs. Absofreakinlutely. Absolutely.
S. RODNEY: 21:27 But I think where the sort of rubber meets the road is when that kind of action, that kind of socioeconomic circumstance becomes systematized and becomes systematized to such an extent that it becomes naturalized. So that now when we talk about the disparity between the wealth that black people own and white families own – I mean, both of you know this – it’s astronomical. In fact, I just looked it up, and I’m reading from an article in Forbes Magazine written by Brian Thompson last year. He indicates the Institute for Policy Studies recent report, The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class, showed that between 1983 and 2013, the wealth of the median black household declined 75% from $6,800 to $1,700. $1,700, right, in 2013, median, median. And the median Latino household’s wealth declined 50% from $4,000 to $2,000. But they have about $300 more median than black families do. At the same time, wealth for the median white household increased by 14% from dun, dun, dun, $102,000 to $116,800. And then when we have these conversations publicly and you hear people say things like, “Well, it’s because blacks are lazy. It’s because of their culture. It’s because they just haven’t figured how to blah, blah.”
S. FULLWOOD: 23:32 “They just don’t work hard enough.”
C.T. WEBB: 23:33 So wait, do mainstream people still say things like that? Let me caveat that and say I do understand that Obama got criticism for going to black colleges and basically saying, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
S. FULLWOOD: 23:50 Yes, he did.
C.T. WEBB: 23:51 Which I would push back on that because I would see him going and giving that same speech anywhere.
S. FULLWOOD: 23:59 Nope.
C.T. WEBB: 24:00 And it’s in fact true. This is true of human beings. There is only one way to get ahead, and that is to work your ass off and push ahead, no matter what the structural advantages or disadvantages are. What other solution is there? I just don’t understand why he got that much flack for saying something that is patently obvious.
S. FULLWOOD: 24:24 Because it’s racialized. Because he isn’t giving those same speeches to white students.
C.T. WEBB: 24:28 You don’t know that, Steven. Come on.
S. FULLWOOD: 24:30 I don’t know that for sure.
C.T. WEBB: 24:31 How many speeches has he given in his–?
S. FULLWOOD: 24:31 No. Listen, listen. You’re completely correct. You’re completely correct. I don’t know all of his speeches. This man gave over 1,000 speeches or whatever. What I’m saying is, when you’re walking out and talking to black people and you’re using signifiers to let them know you are talking to black people, saying, “You can’t sit on the couch in your housecoat and expect things to change. You need to go out and do stuff,” these are the things that do make them different. Absolutely.
C.T. WEBB: 24:56 Do you not use signifiers when you’re talking to an audience of predominantly black people?
S. FULLWOOD: 25:03 I don’t know.
C.T. WEBB: 25:03 But, see, to me–
S. FULLWOOD: 25:04 Listen, listen. I’ll say this, I think– go ahead, because I think you might be going where I’m going.
C.T. WEBB: 25:09 This is what socially sensitive humans do. So my cadence and vernacular changes based on who I’m speaking to not because I’m trying to up them, but just because I’m trying to relate. And so, for example, you might have certain repeated phrases. Unconsciously, I mirror those, again, because I’m trying to relate to you. I’m trying to hear you, and I want you to hear me. So–
S. FULLWOOD: 25:40 Do you talk to the hand, Travis, though? Do you talk to the hand [laughter]? There’s a difference here. I know what you’re getting at. I don’t completely disagree with that because I do believe that there’s this idea of people relating. But there’s also, because of anti-blackness, because of white misanthropy, because black people need to be talked to in a certain way and white people don’t need to be talked to in another way, these are different kinds of conversations. These are different kinds of speeches. Well, I talk exactly the same to everybody, right? But I don’t go into my black audience and go, “Let me tell you. Them white people–” No.
C.T. WEBB: 26:15 No, because that’s fake. I know. I mean–
S. FULLWOOD: 26:18 Well, no, no. But, see, it’s also fake when Obama has done it.
C.T. WEBB: 26:21 You don’t know that. Come on.
S. FULLWOOD: 26:22 I do know this. I’ve checked out some of these speeches. I’ve done some research but not a lot. Now, I’ll give you that. And I can be– my bias could be disproved, or I can be disproved. But I’m telling you–
S. RODNEY: 26:34 You know what I think? You know what I think you’re getting at, Steven? I think what you’re getting at is that what Obama did implicitly in giving the bootstrap talk– let’s just sort of say it that way. Giving the bootstrap talk, what Obama was doing implicitly was he was accepting the premise that everyone else who defends whiteness accepts. Basically the premise is, “You haven’t tried hard enough.” And I think the objection that Steven is making is that, even if you end up there at some point in your speech, even if you do that, please to God, do not start there. Do not start off from the premise that all the things that you are are in some ways stamped by lack, that you start from a place of weakness. You cannot, you cannot go to a black audience and say that and expect them not to respond with anger because what they’re told from sunup to sundown almost every day by almost everyone– and unfortunately, this is why I think a lot of people who are marginalized and in a precarious socioeconomic status are much more susceptible to these ridiculous ideas of coming from royalty and being able to magic themselves into a better socioeconomic circumstance. They’re more susceptible to that. But you cannot, you cannot start talking to black people from that place, because if you do, you tell them essentially, “All this other stuff that you hear on Fox News is right. That you are shit. And if you’re not going to be shit, you have to pull yourself up.” You can’t do that.
C.T. WEBB: 28:43 I just feel like that is so– first of all, you know what I would propose for next week’s podcast? Let’s listen to the speech – not like on the podcast – but from beginning to end, the one that was so controversial. And not that that needs to be the entire topic of conversation because that would probably get dull.
S. FULLWOOD: 28:59 Which one are you speaking about?
C.T. WEBB: 29:00 Well, I assume we’re talking about the Howard University. Is that the one where he like was–
S. FULLWOOD: 29:04 This is not Howard. It’s Morehouse, the one I was speaking about.
C.T. WEBB: 29:08 Morehouse. Okay. Okay. Okay. Let’s listen to the one from Morehouse then.
S. RODNEY: 29:13 Good idea.
C.T. WEBB: 29:13 And I’m going to pause there because I don’t want to make an argument that I’m going to go back and then watch the speech and go, “Oh, yeah. That was a shitty way to go [inaudible], Obama.”
S. RODNEY: 29:26 You shouldn’t have done that [laughter].
S. FULLWOOD: 29:27 No, no, no. But I’d appreciate it if we did do that. If I’m wrong about something and I learn something, if I have any character, then I can say I was wrong. Do you know what I mean?
C.T. WEBB: 29:36 No, no, no. No. I don’t know [inaudible]. I am skeptical of the position that you guys are taking vis-à-vis Obama in that situation because I think he gets some latitude. I think I shouldn’t go to Morehouse and tell an audience of black students that they need to work harder.
S. FULLWOOD: 29:56 Neither should he. No, no, no. Neither should he. Okay. Just think about if it was another kind of black person that went, like a Toni Morrison or someone else. You’ve got a whole different kind of set of tools to kind of pull from. He’s pulling from the same-ass, boring, bootstrappy kind of bullshit that a lot of people come from.
C.T. WEBB: 30:12 So can–
S. FULLWOOD: 30:14 And just because he’s black doesn’t mean he gets to go in there, put his hand on his shoulder, “Y’all know y’all be sitting around and doing nothing [laughter].” No.
C.T. WEBB: 30:21 So wait–
S. FULLWOOD: 30:23 No. No.
C.T. WEBB: 30:22 So if he had started out by saying– if he had started out by saying, “The system is rigged. You got to run extra fast to beat it.”
S. FULLWOOD: 30:30 Who doesn’t know that? Who doesn’t know that? Who doesn’t know that, Travis?
C.T. WEBB: 30:33 Okay. So maybe he didn’t feel like he needed to preface it.
S. FULLWOOD: 30:35 He’s talking to Morehouse. He should just go in and talk about the possibilities as opposed to the detriments or these things. That’s all I’m saying is that, please, get another script. We know–
C.T. WEBB: 30:45 So let me bring it back to something a little bit more– so to keep it sort of controversial, and so something to take us into the next conversation. I would like either one of you to finger specifically what structural inequalities still keep African American men and women of means in place. Now, please hear how I asked that question. There are clearly deep historical ways that the mass of African American men and women do not have access to good healthcare, education, any of that stuff, right? And that has a long, storied, methodical, intentional history that we should work to destroy. Absolutely. But those, through luck or through perseverance or whatever, right, those families of African Americans in the United States – and there are a substantial number, the city of Atlanta, for example – that have managed to, through a miracle, firmly establish themselves in the middle class, what structures are in place that keep those people from opportunity? Now, I already have a response to myself on that. I can think of one, in particular. But there is a very glaring answer to that question, but I’m curious what you guys come up with. It has to do– and not to sandbag, it has to do around violence. I mean, clearly, black male bodies are more susceptible to institutional violence in the United States than–
S. FULLWOOD: 32:35 Regardless of the class.
C.T. WEBB: 32:37 Yes. That’s right. Yeah, yeah. I grant that. I think that’s just a fact, right? So, I mean, I like numbers and data and stuff like that. But, I mean, anecdotally, I’ve enough experiences and read enough and heard friends that have talked about their experiences that I believe that’s probably true, so.
S. RODNEY: 32:57 Yeah. I’m actually really glad that you asked that because that’s research I actually want to do, because I ask myself that question too. I genuinely, in my quiet moments, say to myself, “Okay. So what’s the deal? What is happening systematically to black folks now that is keeping the median wealth of the black family at below $2,000 per household?” Yeah. So I’m glad. I’m glad you asked, and I’m looking forward to having that conversation next week.
C.T. WEBB: 33:31 Steven, do you want to take us out? So we’ve got like two minutes left.
S. FULLWOOD: 33:36 Oh, I was still kind of working through your question in the sense that– so can you give me that question again, so I’m just clear?
C.T. WEBB: 33:43 Basically, what structural inequities still persist in the 21st century that keep African American men and women of means from getting ahead? And I think it’s very important to qualify it in that way because I– and I think we should do a podcast on it because I think probably some of our listeners are probably not as aware of the deep methodical history of repression that has happened all around the United States. I mean, Ta-Nehisi Coates really got a lot of, I think, well-deserved– I have my issues with some of his stuff, but well-deserved attention for his piece on Chicago housing and how blacks were kept out of the primary generator of wealth for middle-class America for decades and decades. And so, of course, you look around and that’s what you see. This is where we are. Thank you very much, white supremacy. So anyway–
S. FULLWOOD: 34:43 White misanthropy. White misanthropy.
C.T. WEBB: 34:45 I actually appreciate that. I think that is a wonderful qualification and redefinition of it. I agree with that, white misanthropy.
S. FULLWOOD: 34:54 Thank you, Ty Shaw. All right. Thanks a lot.
C.T. WEBB: 34:58 Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks very much for the conversation, and we’ll pick it up next week.
S. RODNEY: 35:01 Indeed. Take care, guys. [music]


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