Formerly titled: “The Day Two of My Worlds Collided”
I’m a huge fan of NPR’s weekly podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH). Finding that podcast for the first time was like finding a missing limb. I can’t really tell you why or for what purpose, but on occasion, I’ve been known to take notes on an episode as if a followup for-credit quiz is on the other end. Thank goodness for Evernote.
Last week’s episode reviewed the film that seemingly drove the world into a frenzy of anticipation, The Hunger Games. I think it important I disclose upfront that, while the series is likely very much to my taste and I am very much so one to get caught up in Harry Potteresque hype, I’ve yet to read the books and I’ve yet to see the film. Yet.
The primary reason I’ve yet to read is that when the series began to grow in hype, I made a very conscious decision to take a break from series. This was primarily because I was burned out on series and I felt them so engrossing that I was not reading much else. I had to break free! =D And I’ve yet to see the film because my boyfriend has been crazy busy and then sick as of late and I do not want to see it without him.
I digress. (What else is new?!)
The point of today’s musings, as alluded to in the title, is that my twoness collided when on the same day I both read the New Yorker article White Until Proven Black and listened to the day’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour (3/30/12).
Please read the article. It is crazy compelling. Kudos to the blogger who cleverly created a forum for eye opening discussion.
Please also listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour because it’s fun and I love it and can’t imagine who wouldn’t.
Q: So where the collision? A: Sometime just before the 16 minute mark of the 3/30/12 PCHH discussion that went a little something like this:
HOST A: “there was this bizarre dustup over Rue being Black.”
HOST B: “yes there was [laughter] when she is in the book. ..it’s very, I don’t, i don’t know where that came from either. to me what was weird about it was the hostility that came from it that was like ‘now i don’t care as much.’”
HOST A: “i’d really like to think that an isolated group of nitwits but woof.”
HOST B: “i agree. i agree…”
Now I completely believe them well intentioned. And at the end of the day I’m not asking that PCHH be a forum for deep conversations about race relations in America. That’s not their gig. I completely get that.
But I KNOW they are not that naive either. They just can’t be. They read a ton, see a ton, interview a ton and care a ton. But what I’d hope is that their last comment on the matter not reduce what is an evil disgusting insidious problem to the silliness of a few misguided individuals.
The blogger highlighted in the New Yorker article, and all of the press surrounding the comments about Rue, convey very clearly that this was not just one or two, or even 100 misguided, individuals. Rather this was a widespread perfect example of aversive racism. Provocatively, through the shared lens of pop culture, these instances so clearly illustrate how microagressions work in society, their covert subversiveness and the resultant harm they may cause.
My beef with PCHH is that I think the hosts are capable intelligent competent individuals who likely completely get what I’m saying. Furthermore they have a platform where they reach a lot of folks. Many of those folks have not read or, similarly, completely dismissed the racist Hunger Games' comments.
While I thank PCHH for even mentioning the comments (because they did not have to mention them at all), would it not have been better to end the conversation with a nod to the reality of the pervasiveness of these issues? To wrap it up as they did, perpetuates the broken system because it allows listeners to compartmentalize, or flatly dismiss, it themselves. And I think that is pretty damaging, or at the very least a missed educational opportunity.
"So what have I tried to do in this massive moment in American history? I have sought to use my soapbox to help the effort to see that America does the right thing." ~Touré in Time Ideas’ article, Why I Speak Out About Trayvon Martin.