#1019 We need a system for everyone (Economics of Racism and Sexism)

Air Date: 06-07-2016

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Today we take a look at the  ways in which racism and sexism are inextricably linked to matters of economic justice for all, even those who benefit in many ways from those systems of inequality

Show Notes

Ch. 1: Opening Theme: A Fond Farewell - From a Basement On the Hill

Ch. 2: Act 1: MLK on Democratic Socialism... - @Thom_Hartmann - Air Date: 07-21-15

Ch. 3: Song 1: Nothing Else Matters - Apocalyptica

Ch. 4: Act 2: Michael Kimmel: Why gender equality is good for everyone - men included - TED Talks - Air Date: 9-20-15

Ch. 5: Song 2: I’m free - The Soup Dragons

Ch. 6: Act 3: .@HarrietFraad on how rising equality feels like a downfall for middle-aged white men steeped in patriarchy Part 1 - Economic Update w: @profwolff - Air Date 11-29-15

Ch. 7: Song 3: Changes - Langhorne Slim & The Law

Ch. 8: Act 4: Wealth Isn't Colorless or Gender Free: Capital and Intersectionality - @theLFshow w/ @GRITlaura Flanders - Air Date: 1-19-16

Ch. 9: Song 4: La Paix - Amadou & Mariam

Ch. 10: Act 5: .@HarrietFraad on how rising equality feels like a downfall for middle-aged white men steeped in patriarchy Part 2 - Economic Update w @profwolff - Air Date 11-29-15

Ch. 11: Song 5: I Was Married - Tegan and Sara

Ch. 12: Act 6: Racism is Killing Poor White Americans... - @Thom_Hartmann - Air Date: 11-07-15

Ch. 13: Song 6: Harold T. Wilkins, Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time - Fanfarlo

Ch. 14: Act 7: .@TimJacobWise on Racism and Affluence - @theLFshow w @GRITlaura Flanders - Air Date 10-13-15


Ch. 15: Is anyone surprised about Trump's authoritarianism? - Eammon from La Habra, California

Ch. 16: Don't be dismissive of claims of death threats - Arkle

Voicemail Music: Loud Pipes - Classics

Ch. 17: Final comments on my new analogy involving cycling in the windy city

Closing Music: Here We Are - Everyone's in Everyone

Produced by Jay! Tomlinson

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Showing 16 reactions

  • Jay Tomlinson
    commented 2016-07-09 13:40:08 -0400
    As usual, I think your assumption that nearly any and all talk of racism, sexism, privilege, etc. brings with it the intention of making members of a majority group feel guilty for their privileged status is completely misguided. Hopefully I can clarify.

    Tricia Rose is a highly respected Professor of African Studies at Brown university and she has faced this misunderstanding from students many times in the past so a while back she came up with a pledge for her students to recite in order to bring some clarity to the issue and I think it will help you understand too.

    Here it is:

    I, [name], am not personally responsible for racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, or any other vast form of group-based discrimination, even though I very likely benefit from it. Therefore, I should not feel guilty. I might feel sadness, empathy, outrage; but guilt won’t change anything for the better. And besides, it focuses only on me. I did not choose the body, sexual orientation, race, or class position in which I came into this world. What I can choose is how I want to behave and whether or not I want to meaningfully contribute to creating a just society in light of all I’m learning. I can determine how I want to live in this world and what kind of alliances I want to make, so what I do from this day forward defines who I am. And for that I’m responsible.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-07-01 05:05:10 -0400
    I feel the need to clarify and realize that most of my comments thus far had been predicated under the false assumption that your position was that all society’s problems were caused by a single perceived problem (straight white men), and while I have been running into people with voices on media outlets that seem to believe this, you have already demonstrated that this is not the case. These other sorts of people have a tendency to warp and distort the definitions of various words (Culture, Privilege, Toxic Behavior, Masculinity, Femininity, Rape, every kind of “-ism” and “phobia”) to create false narratives based on what we normally think of those words, and when I saw this podcast using them, I assumed the worst. I hope that neither of us will ever draw a simple conclusion from a complex societal problem in the future, because people that claim to have such things have turned out to have their solutions be literally too good to be true or correct.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-07-01 04:30:41 -0400
    Personally, I am against the outlawing of any drugs whatsoever, and believe that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their own bodies.

    I understand that the state of the world in the present is due to countless factors accumulated from the past, and that we as individuals or groups may not be capable of affecting all of these factors or even be aware of or able to measure some of them in the first place, but I remain wary of which factors are singled out by activist groups as the underlying causes of the problem and their proposed solutions, when these targeted issues could just be symptoms of a bigger problem. Treating the symptoms won’t always make the underlying problem go away, and in some cases could make things worse.

    In this case, a large portion of the ruling class appears to be white, male, straight, and cisgendered. A rather vocal group of self-professed liberals with social studies degrees that have since gone on to occupy various media platforms – we like to call them “social justice warriors” – have drawn a correlation between the characteristics of the upper class and the oppression of the lower classes. According to their logic, people who are white, male, straight, and/or cisgendered have more “privilege” than anyone who is not any or all of these things on the basis of these physical characteristics alone.

    I will concede that you are right about racism and sexism being significant factors in our world, in that these groups of people are racist against whites and sexist against men, and want them to feel guilty about what they are rather than about anything they as individuals have done. I find this process of guilting and shaming people on the basis of physical characteristics in order to control them to be abhorrent, but I will assume that this was not the intent of your podcast.

    Instead of feeling guilty over things they have no control over, what do you, personally, believe that more privileged folk should do to help the less lucky ones?
  • Jay Tomlinson
    commented 2016-07-01 00:40:24 -0400
    “Suppose that we do have a race or gender problem; where is it coming from?” – Just consider all of human history and you’ll get an idea of where it comes from. Undoubtedly, things are better today than at almost any time in the past but to believe that we have fully rid ourselves of our bigoted and structurally unequal past is just foolish. Consider, a lot of the cops who sprayed civil rights protesters with hoses and attacked them with dogs are still alive today. The blatantly obvious style of racial discrimination really wasn’t that long ago and although the systemic racism we experience today looks different from the 60’s, it is certainly still around.

    The fact that you keep asking for laws and special rights that exclusively benefit white people is all the proof anyone needs that you are fundamentally misunderstanding this concept. No one is saying that laws have been written with the explicit and stated intention of benefiting white people. However, there are laws that were written that are ostensibly colorblind and unbiased that end up being severely unequal. The most prominent example is the was on drugs, particularly the disparities in sentencing between crack cocaine (used primarily by people of color and punished severely) and powdered cocaine (used primarily by white people and punished more lightly). Also, it was reported recently that Nixon’s administration fully understood what they were doing when they launched the war on drugs and the discriminatory effects it would have: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-richard-nixon-drug-war-blacks-hippie/index.html

    Here’s what you’re really missing though, our laws are not the only thing that control the structures of our society. The aggregated effects of individual attitudes, personal experiences, societal norms, implicit biases, socialization… all of these things, in addition to the laws our governments write, play a role in how each of us goes through the world and how we effect each other’s lives. The nature of the way all of these aspects of life interact with each other is complicated and your efforts to oversimplify them into ONLY issues of classism or ONLY issues of laws obscures your ability to understand the nuances of these concepts.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-30 17:52:19 -0400
    Suppose that we do have a race or gender problem; where is it coming from? Can you point me to any specific laws or rights that men and whites have that women and nonwhites do not, for example? All I’m seeing is a hereditary problem based on the class you were born into. If I were a white boy that was adopted by a black family living in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood with high crime rates due to the tensions of poverty, would I have any special legal or economic advantages over my own family and neighbors simply for being white and male?
  • Jay Tomlinson
    commented 2016-06-30 14:17:52 -0400
    Re: evolution, a simple “yes, I understand evolution” would have sufficed as I’m not making any kind of a social darwinist comment as you attempted to guess.

    I asked about evolution because you are reminding me of a guy I knew a long time ago working my first job at a pizza restaurant. This older guy was super nice and friendly and a pretty devout Christian but he was good-natured about my atheist friends and I having conversations with him in which we challenged his religious beliefs. One day we talked about evolution, he didn’t believe in it and, of course, we did. We asked why he didn’t believe evolution was true and this is basically what he said:

    “The idea of evolution is absurd on it’s face. Scientists are trying to convince us that, for instance, a long time ago some giraffes weren’t able to reach the highest leaves on the trees and so they decided to grow their necks longer in order to reach them. That’s ridiculous and it should be obvious to everyone that that’s just not how things work.”

    For people who understand evolution, the mistake he is making is obvious. He’s starting with a terribly flawed premise so even though his logic is solid he still arrives at a wildly incorrect conclusion. That is what I see you doing over and over again in the comments you’ve been posting recently on this blog, this post in particular.

    It’s clear that you don’t understand how the structures of racism, sexism and other oppressions function in society so you begin with a flawed premise and use mostly solid logic but still come to deeply flawed conclusions.

    For instance, I’ve never heard any thoughtful person say anything like “the white men in the Fortune 500 got to where they are today simply because of their race and gender”. Concomitantly, there actually are perfectly reasonable and thoughtful explanations for how structures of racism and sexism can still exist in a world where “There are lots of women and nonwhites in positions of economic privilege and power just as there are many white men living in abject poverty”. You just happen to not understand these explanations or even know they exist so you use the seeming contradiction as a basis to dismiss the effects of sexism and racism. That’s what reminds me of my old friend who dismissed evolution based on his misunderstanding of the facts.

    Similarly, it requires a thoughtful and nuanced perspective but it is also explainable why our society could be accurately described as still subscribing to the vestiges of while supremacy even while it would be seen as unacceptable my the vast majority to create legal structures and government programs that were explicitly described as intending to help white people.

    The one thing I’ll say in your favor is that classism has an enormous impact on people’s lives and I agree that we should give that issues more focus. Where you go wrong is in thinking that it’s an either/or situation. Racism, sexism, classism and many other factors all come together to form a complicated matrix of cause and effect. It’s a fools errand to try to pit one against the other as they all intersect and prop each other up.

    I’m sure there are many resources out there that could help you understand some of the more complicated aspects of these issues but the one I’ve read myself that I know would be helpful is the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. The most surprising insight I gleaned from it was the explanation of how systems such as our justice system can purport to be fair and colorblind while still managing to be deeply racist in it’s execution. Understanding that concept and being able to look at various aspects of society through that lens is extremely helpful in seeing how forces such as racism and sexism are very often invisible and can be even further obscured by the exceptions to the rules, such as the “many rags-to-riches stories of people that overcame their own economically-disadvantaged origins by themselves to become rich and famous, and without getting any special treatment” but are still incredibly powerful forces working to shape our society while most people have no idea it’s happening and would even oppose it if they did know it was happening.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-30 07:27:16 -0400
    Finally, in response to Arkle’s call:

    The #GamerGate controversy of 2014 involved scandals regarding conflicts of interest between game journalists and game developers. The catalyst for this event, a female game developer was in bed (literally) with a journalist in exchange for press coverage, has had a history of Munchausen Syndrome on the web and claimed that #GamerGate was a movement made specifically to attack her. More attention-seeking women in game development jumped on this bandwagon to claim that they were supposedly being victimized by angry misogynists that wanted women out of gaming, a premise that is simply absurd to anyone who is a gamer or has hung out with gamers before in their lives. If Arkle ever knew any female developers that were “victimized”, they were likely third-party internet trolls sending her mean tweets or emails, or she herself was involved in some conflicts of interest with journalists or publishers.

    This controversy opened my eyes to the narrative feminists had been propogating, that gamers are misogynist pigs and total losers, the usual stereotypes associated with them that couldn’t be more untrue today. Two thirds of the planet games on some platform or another, and there is a wide selection of titles for people of every stripe.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-29 22:53:16 -0400
    Evolution is driven more or less by natural selection, meaning that those most naturally suited to their environment are statistically more likely to survive and pass on their survivable traits to the next generation, assuring a better likelihood of successful adaptation and survival.

    In contemporary society, we have civilization and social factors at work on top of nature, so some people who had successful ancestors may be born into better-off families with more opportunities to succeed than others. Are you trying to say that many people of certain races and genders and social groups are more likely to have an easier time in life because of this? I would be inclined to agree because our forefathers weren’t all so politically correct and were biased towards people that looked and thought like they did. The suffragettes and the civil rights movement are things that have worked to reverse the prejudice of our ancestors, but this is going to take some time to level the playing field because a purely capitalist society only works fairly if everyone is given the same opportunities to begin with. I think that a combination of capitalism and socialism would work better to help the less fortunate as well as letting the achievers be all they can be.
  • Jay Tomlinson
    commented 2016-06-29 18:18:29 -0400
    Hey Peter, I’ve got a question that seems like a non-sequitur but it’s leading somewhere so just go with me. Do you have a good understanding of how the process of evolution works?
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-18 18:42:04 -0400
    I, for one, would like to believe that women and minorities are capable of much more than we give them credit for. If whites can do it, so can they, and they can’t use their ethnic background as an excuse. There are many rags-to-riches stories of people that overcame their own economically-disadvantaged origins by themselves to become rich and famous, and without getting any special treatment. If there is one “advantage” whites have that nonwhites do not, it would be that we have high expectations of the white man to succeed in life no matter how much the deck might be stacked against him at first. We believe that the white man deserves no privilege because he already has all of it somehow, and with no excuses he is left with no choice but to pull himself up by his own bootstraps and rise to the top on his own merits…or die trying. If we really want equality in the world, why can’t we have the same expectations for everyone else as well? How can we set the bar of achievement lower for specific groups and then expect them to somehow achieve as much or more than everyone else where the bar of expectations was set high?
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-18 18:41:48 -0400
    We are also having the problem of telling women and minorities that they are inherently disadvantaged simply for being women and minorities, that they are victims of society and that they cannot strive to be anything more than victims of society. We have such low expectations for these people that we give them “affirmative action” programs to get them into positions that they otherwise might not have been qualified for had they been white and/or male, which is not only bigoted in its own condescending way, but also hurts the economy even more by reducing a business’s profit potential due to the inefficiency of underqualified employees that didn’t deserve their position but we gave it to them anyway.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-18 18:40:35 -0400
    Lighter skin tones are simply the majority demographic in much of the Western world, so of course the ruling class would be majority white by sheer statistical probability. Minority ethnic groups have simply not been living in the Western world for as long as the whites, so they have not had as many generations to establish themselves into prominent families and classes. This is unfortunate, but there is nothing that can be done about your own heritage, short of having a time machine. It would also be discriminatory to give these minority groups special privileges and “affirmative action” programs based solely on their race or sex just as it would be to give whites any special rights that all other ethnic groups would not have. Besides, what legal rights do whites and only whites (of any class at all) have that nonwhites legally lack? If there are any solutions to solving the inequalities of society, punishing anyone for the sins of their fathers is certainly not one of them.
  • Peter Whitmore
    commented 2016-06-18 18:40:17 -0400
    The state of contemporary economic and capitalistic woes isn’t about race or sex-based issues so much as it is about class struggles. To say that the white men in the Fortune 500 got to where they are today simply because of their race and gender is disingenuous at best. There are lots of women and nonwhites in positions of economic privilege and power just as there are many white men living in abject poverty; to say that our society favors people over their melanin and genital contents rather than their accomplishments and the economic class they were born into makes no sense under this light. Why would any society with a systemic bias towards one group and against all others allow anyone in the “out” group (women, nonwhites) into the upper class at all while also allowing much of its own preferred “in” group (men, whites) to languish in the lower class and not provide special programs specifically to get them out of poverty, to the exclusion of all other groups? Every charitable organization and program I know of that even has a group preference is in favor of these supposed “out” groups, so how, exactly, is this invisible bias towards the betterment of white men being perpetuated in the first place if no one can be seen actually doing it? It is doing a very bad job to begin with if white male supremacy was its goal to begin with.
  • Peter Whitmore
    followed this page 2016-06-18 18:05:39 -0400
  • Vincent Block
    commented 2016-06-08 23:36:59 -0400
    The wind analogy was nice. As a (poor) sailor, I can tell you that (just in case you are interested) the phenomenon of the winds while in motion is called “apparent wind” as opposed to “true wind”. The wind the boat, you and the sail experiences as you head into it or run away from it. Enjoyed the episode.
  • Vincent Block
    commented 2016-06-08 23:36:55 -0400
    The wind analogy was nice. As a (poor) sailor, I can tell you that (just in case you are interested) the phenomenon of the winds while in motion is called “apparent wind” as opposed to “true wind”. The wind the boat, you and the sail experiences as you head into it or run away from it. Enjoyed the episode.
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