BONUS EPISODE: ANNE & MARSHA
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Welcome to your mid-season bonus episode. This is the podcast where I, a flaming ultra-blue liberal, have compassionate, respectful political conversations with women who voted for Donald Trump. So far this season, we’ve heard a lot of different viewpoints. In Episode 1, Ellen, a retiree in Florida, said she strongly feels that America lost its standing in the world thanks to the policies of Barack Obama, and expressed a distrust and fear of the Muslim community. In Episode 2, I spoke with Yolanda, a homeless rights activist, actress, and mother of five from Long Island, who trusts Alex Jones for her news more than the New York Times. Episodes 3 and 4 were with Ashley Rollo of Freehold, New Jersey, who comes from a long line of conservative women. She voted for Trump because of his stances on immigration and the economy, but she disagrees with him on abortion and climate change. In Episode 5, I went off on a rant about Russia to my poor friend Alley in Westchester County, New York. Episode 6 featured an emotional, difficult conversation with the staunchly anti-abortion Melissa in San Jose, California, and Episode 7 was all about guns with Anne from Seguin, Texas. If you’ve joined the podcast more recently and missed the earlier episodes, I highly encourage you to go back and listen to them. There are valuable insights to be gained from all of these conversations.
This week, I’m bringing you something a little different, because I think it’s important. After Anne and I finished our one-on-one interview, our mutual friend Marsha came by to say hello. The conversation between the three of us was so interesting that I turned the microphone back on, and I’m really glad I did.
Before we get to that, though, I want to share some of the great feedback I’ve been getting from you guys. I read every tweet, Facebook comment, and email you send, so please keep them coming!
First off, I heard from Carmen in California regarding something I said in Episode 6. She wrote, “I've listened to every episode and the one thing that I have REALLY struggled with is the general acceptance (by both you and your guests) that no matter WHAT, a woman WILL mourn or grieve to some extent after an abortion. This is NOT the case. I myself have had two and have never to this day felt grievous or sad over those decisions. Both were without issue, within the first trimester and very easy and clear decisions for me. I did not see it as a loss of life or a personal loss, as I do not see the products of conception which were removed from me to have been human life. Please please try to dispel the idea that ALL women mourn their abortions no matter what. This is false.”
I love that she wrote this, because while I’ve never had an abortion myself, I’m fairly certain I would feel the same way she does if I ever do have to make that decision. As I told Melissa in Episode 6, it would be a no-brainer for me to have an abortion if I were pregnant, because I don’t want children. At all. I don’t see myself having any negative feelings over the procedure—I imagine I’d feel only relief. So thank you, Carmen, for highlighting this—not all women grieve or experience a sense of loss when they have an abortion. Some do—perhaps most do—but not all.
A listener named Cheryl wrote with a clarification that I thought was important enough to repeat on the show. She said, “In episode 6, you mentioned Guttmacher and said it was a part of Planned Parenthood. Originally it was, but has long been independent. I highlight this because in the fraught discussions around abortion, it seems important to emphasize that the Guttmacher research truly is independent and not controlled by Planned Parenthood in any way.”
Thank you, Cheryl! She’s right—that is a hugely important distinction. The Guttmacher Institute provides us with some of the best scientific evidence to support why it’s so vital that we advance sexual and reproductive rights around the world, and we have to guard against any attempts to discredit them. So here’s the real deal: the Guttmacher Institute was originally called the Center for Family Planning Program Development, and it was founded in 1968 as an entity within the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or PPFA, but even then, it was independently run by an advisory council. Then, in 1977, Guttmacher split from Planned Parenthood and became a fully independent entity. However, they were still considered a special affiliate of PPFA and received a portion of their funding from them. Then, in 2007, they ended their special affiliation status and started phasing out the funding that was coming from PPFA, which only made up 3.3% of their budget at that point, anyway. Currently, the Guttmacher Institute is fully independent, receives no funding from Planned Parenthood, and hasn’t in years. It also provides us with some of the best statistics and research that we have on reproductive health and the advantages of family planning services, so they’re really important. Definitely support them. And spread the word: they’re no longer connected to Planned Parenthood.
Lastly, I got an email from a listener named Candace in San Antonio, Texas, regarding what I said in Episode 3 about how sexual assault isn’t just a male-on-female crime—that new research shows that men and women suffer sexual assault in roughly equal numbers. Candace has a Ph.D., and she works in social work and feminist research at a university. She read through the study by Lara Stemple, et al, that I referenced, and sent me an incredibly detailed email summing up why she disagrees with how those researchers interpreted their findings. Essentially, she thinks Stemple, et al, came to the wrong conclusion, and that sexual assault and rape really are, as I always thought, crimes that are committed predominantly by men. Now, I am not a scientist or a researcher, and reading studies makes my brain hurt, but I wanted to share Candace’s thoughts with you so that you can look into it yourself and bring it up for discussions with your people. This is something we should all be talking about.
So I’ve posted Candace’s email, along with a link to the original study by Lara Stemple, et al, at makeamericarelatepodcast.com. There will also be a way to leave comments and start a discussion on this. Just go to makeamericarelatepodcast.com to get started.
Okay, gorgeous people, it’s time for the conversation between me, Anne, and my good friend, Marsha. The topic is white privilege, and I wanted to share this with you because of how brilliantly and patiently Marsha was able to break this down for Anne. Marsha teaches diversity and communications at a university, and she’s black. When Anne said she didn’t understand what this white privilege thing meant, because she never felt like she was privileged, I thought it wise to lay back and let Marsha respond. What she said blew me away. I think we can all learn something from it. So let’s get to it.
Samia: Anne and I were introduced by our mutual friend Marsha, who is my best friend from high school. Marsha and Anne also know each other from high school. So Marsha just came and joined us and we're chilling, and this may or may not end up being a bonus episode of the pod.
Marsha: Yes. [laughter] But yeah, it's just so interesting. Like, Anne and I, you know, grew up in the same area, and as you were talking about, you didn't realize like... Oh, I, you know…Vaseline in the hair and everything, I didn’t—I wasn’t really...
S: Right. Can you say that again? So we could...
Anne: Oh, back growing up, I had put Vaseline in my hair, 'cause not realizing that I'm obviously white and my friends were black, but I grew up that everybody's my friend and—
S: Did you have mostly black friends when you were in school?
A: I think so.
M: She did.
A: I had mostly black friends, and so I didn't know. And I remember the day, it was seventh grade lunch, I went to sit with them and another girl said, "You can't sit here, 'cause they're not your people. Go sit with the white people." I said, "These are my people." And I went home crying. Like, I remember that day vividly. That it's like my security and my world were shattered. I didn't know the Cosbys were black. Like, I just watched them. I didn't look at them as, "You're white, black, purple." I just looked at... It's just like my sense of security and like, that I'm different, and I never thought I was different from...
S: Right. And you obviously weren't taught by your family that you needed to differentiate between people based on that.
A: No. And I think racism is taught. Hatred for other races is taught, totally.
S: Yeah. Yeah.
A: I just—I grew up having most of my friends are black and Mexican, and I didn't know a difference.
S: And diversity is a beautiful thing.
A: Yes, it is.
S: I was never really aware of racial tension growing up on that military base in Seoul.
M: You know, we lived in a fishbowl.
M: I didn't recognize any of that, I think, until... I'm trying to think. It was eighth grade. Like, it wasn't until Texas, and we'd lived over the world in different posts, and it just wasn't anything in the forefront. And then in middle school, and it wasn't even at Wood Middle School, it was once I went to the wealthier middle school that someone had written the N-word on the side of the wall, and we were like, "What does this mean? How is this..." And it was written by someone who was white who was dating someone who was black. And so, we're like, "Do you understand what you did?" And she was upset with him, and so she wrote it.
M: And we're like, "How did this come about?" And so, that's when I was like, this is very different and we're from very different worlds, and things like this, we just don't do. We were taught to love everybody. All the time. On post. And my parents specifically moved to places where there were, In the civilian world off-post, where there was a large...
A: Melting pot.
M: Yes, yeah, melting pot and military presence. And so, people who weren't able to get a house on base, they all kind of still lived in the same area, and so we always had that just like little fishbowl, I like to say. It was just safe and secure, and—
A: This is the question I wanna get. I get told it's white privilege. I'm like, "What the hell do you mean by white privilege?" I don't understand that because I don't consider myself white privileged. I don’t—I've looked up the term but I don't get it. I don't know if I'm not... I mean, I'm a college graduate, educated woman, and I don't get the term of being told I'm white privileged. I don't understand that.
M: So those are all privileges too. Being educated through college, that's privilege. White privilege definitely exists. What white privilege is, is there have been a set of circumstances given to you that you did not earn. They're specifically given to you based on your skin color. So what do I mean by that? Going to the shampoo aisle and seeing shampoo that is for you that's not labeled "ethnic hair." Getting band-aids that match your skin tone. If something were to happen to you by any type of man, there would be outrage, because you're a white woman. A perfect example is in Dallas, a little black girl had her bikini on and there was a pool party, something happened...
A: I've seen that.
M: And the little black girl was drug. If she were a little white girl, first of all, it never would have happened. Second of all, if it did happen, there'd be outrage. Absolute outrage. That office would be shut down. All of these Black Lives Matter...
S: What happened?
M: Oh, they—the police just slammed her on the ground.
A: Yeah, they body slammed her.
A: Slammed her on the ground, drug her...
M: She was at a pool party, she got a little lippy at the mouth to the cop. And they did that to her.
A: And he body-slammed her.
M: So, there was no reason. There was no reason. And so, these instances, what's happening right now with Black Lives Matter, what's happening with Black Men Running. I've seen the same case many a time with a white man that ran. That was not the outcome. And so, what happens is, if you are a person of color, you are devalued, you are dehumanized. You are—there’s a lot of different things, that if someone does not know you, happens to you, that it doesn't happen to someone who is white. So, it absolutely exists. When you look at hiring. I show a video in my class called Joe versus Jose. And so someone whose name is Jose, he sent his resume out to hundreds of companies. No one ever got back to him. All he did is take the S out of his name and he turned it to Joe. Immediately, when he turned those same resumes at the same places, he got so many calls back. So even the name. My name being Marsha, my sister's name being something that is very ethnic, we live two different worlds, literally based off of our names. So it does exist.
A: And thank you for telling me, I get that, but I don't... They blame it on me, I’m like, but I was born—I can't help how I was born.
M: And you can't, but...
A: I try to be… Like I have friends, like you said, of all races and colors. And they said, "Well, you're just ignorant." I said, "How am I ignorant if I don't feel that I'm given anything for my skin color?” I went to school, I paid for it myself. No one gave it to me. I earned it.
M: Absolutely, you did. Yeah.
A: I'm not handed an education, I earned my grades. I get what you're saying and now that I think about it, I see it. But I, just for me, growing up the way we did, we all worked together.
M: But here's something else that's interesting, Anne, that whether or not you went to college, people are more likely to assume that you went to college than me, simply because of the color of my skin. When I walk into a classroom, people don't think that I'm the professor. They think that somebody else is. So that's what I mean.
A: And that's heartbreaking for me, because...
M: It's very hurtful.
A: It hurts me 'cause we've been friends a long time, and I would never look down on... I can tell you my tire broke down on the Eastside of San Antonio. The man that helped me was a black gentleman, and he said the only reason why I'm safe is because it's daylight and he can identify them. That's what he told me. 'Cause they...
M: About you?
A: About me. That the only reason why I was safe and that he was helping me is because...
[Samia hands Marsha a tissue]
M: Thank you
[Marsha’s cellphone rings: “You are so beautiful—”]
M: Ah, sorry! Oh I got a call from—
S: You are so beautiful!
M: Aw, thank you!
A: But he said the only reason why I was safe is because it was daylight, and I can identify them. And he changed my tire. And this was on the east side of San Antonio.
M: Oh okay, yeah. Well, so there are specific places where in different groups, where you would not be the majority that that would—that possibly could happen.
A: And that—the police officer that drove past me didn't even help me change my tire.
A: I was like, "So that whole serve and protect the community is a bunch of bullshit."
M: But you can go in to more places than I can and feel more comfortable in them. I'm very aware when I'm in a white space, because I'm the only person who is not white. There are very few times... Like last night after I left you, I went to this place, this club where they were having an event and it was majority black and brown people there. And I was in the bathroom, just using the bathroom, and someone said, "This is so amazing that this exists here. I'm always the only one and I didn't know that there could be this many black people in one place that exists here in Austin." And I was like that's... Wow, it’s just like, I feel comfortable here. I feel like I belong. I don't feel that when I get out and everyone's staring at my hair, because it's natural. Everyone's saying, "Wow, you have such a beautiful skin tone." I don't want that. There are so many microaggressions that we get everyday. For instance, we were walking the other day on a trail, and there was this poodle. Beautiful poodle. Beautiful poodle.
S: That was such an awkward moment.
M: I didn't... I was like, "This could be a teachable moment, but I don't think you would even understand it at this time. So I'm just not even gonna waste my time, because people pay me to teach. I'm not getting paid for this." [chuckle]
S: We ran into these two women. It was a woman and I think a girl, who had a large standard sized poodle, and Marsha...
M: It was a beautiful poodle.
S: Marsha asked them like, "Is this a hypoallergenic dog?" 'Cause she's really allergic to dogs and cats. And they were like, "Yeah," and then they launch into an explanation about how the poodle's hair is, "not to be offensive, but it's like black people hair, it just curls." And I was like why?
M: And then when you comb it, it poofs out or something like that. I'm like, "Mine doesn't do that."
S: Why are you gonna compare the dog's hair? It's not the same texture at all.
M: At all. I was like...
S: First of all. And like, why are you gonna... When you have to preface it with this "not to be offensive," then just don't say it!
A: You were already offensive.
M: Yes, yes.
S: And that's white privilege as well, is like saying things like that. And Marsha and I both made the decision in that moment to just let it go, 'cause I was feeling the same way. I was like, "Woman!" Like, and I know... She didn't mean any harm.
M: She didn't. That was the thing. She meant... But what we call it... Maura Cullen has this book that says "35 things well-meaning people say." And so she was in the term of—one of my colleagues, Lou, used to say this, as a white man, he said, "Well, she's a well-meaning white girl." She was a well-meaning white girl.
S: She was.
M: But here's a thing that I always teach my class. There is intent versus impact. She did not intend to be offensive, but the impact that it had on me was very offensive, and I get microaggressions like that every day. "Oh, you're the professor. Oh, you teach? Is it like elementary? Is it like that... Oh, did you... " And I told Samia, with my dad being an officer in the military, people just automatically assumed that he was enlisted, that he—I mean, how could he have a college degree as a black man? How could he have a Bachelor's degree in biology and a Master's degree in human resources, and how could he work and retire as a colonel? And how could he work at the Center for Disease Control? How could he do that as a black person? I mean, my goodness.
A: He works there now?
M: He's retired now. But yeah, he worked there for a long time.
S: And no one's saying like, "Anne, you're a white woman so it's your fault that this is all happening."
M: Oh no, not at all.
A: But I get called racist and I don't get that, like I'm the furthest thing from...
S: Yeah, but it's more like Caucasian people need to be aware that this is a reality that people of color in this country deal with. I'm a halfie, I'm half Middle Eastern but technically I'm Caucasian, and I am perceived as Caucasian in the world. And I'm aware that I have privilege. I'm aware that I can walk into a store and nobody's gonna watch me. Whereas my best friend, Lisa, who's a black woman, gets watched when she walks into stores. It’s just something that we need to raise people's awareness of because—I mean, your questions are valid.
M: Yeah, absolutely.
S: And not wanting to be called ignorant and racist is valid as well, but there's also the flip-side where we as Caucasian people have a responsibility to address these disparities in our culture. I mean, the idea of black lives being devalued goes back to the birth of this nation when slaves in the South were counted as three-fifths of a human being, when it came to deciding how many electoral college votes the states had, just so the Southern states could use the black population to bolster their influence in Washington. And like, literally, black people were 60% of a human being, and that mentality, we wanna think that it's resting buried in our past...
A: It's not.
M: It's not.
S: But it has far-reaching effects.
A: You go like... My friend, he—they went to Florida, they drove. They were in Mississippi, I don't know, one of them states. They still have the colored and white restroom signs up.
M: Oh, I'm not surprised.
S: Where is this?
A: I wanna say Mississippi, Georgia, one of them podunk redneck states.
A: And not to be...judgmental. They still have the colored signs up, the coloreds here, whites here. It's a historical... I'm like, "That's just kinda wrong."
M: And it really is and you know, I…
S: But it's also how we started.
M: Yeah, it is how we started. So I'm like, I struggle with things like that and people ask me, and this one guy in particular, older white man, he's like, "What do you think about them tearing down all these confederate monuments and doing all these things?" And I said, "I struggle with this because being as someone from the South and also being a black person, we can't just erase it, we can't just tear down the statue and think all of a sudden we can sing Kumbaya and everything's gonna be okay."
A: It can't.
M: We need these things as reminders to say, "Here is what happened, here's where we are, and here's where we need to go."
A: And that's my thing, it's part of history. The confederacy is part of our history. You can't whitewash it or erase it.
S: Right. But do we want to celebrate it with public art monuments?
M: I definitely don't wanna—I don’t wanna celebrate it, but we still have to remember it. Nobody really wants to put up a memorial—like, no one wants to, like, put up a 9/11 memorial to celebrate it. We're mourning it. It's something that's sad, but it's something that we have to remember because it happened.
S: Yeah, I heard on the news, New Orleans is now doing a big effort to take down all of the, you know, statues of Confederate heroes.
M: Oh, yeah.
A: They just took the one out of Jackson Square. I've been to Jackson Square. I've been in New Orleans three times. I feel like the energy and the historical values, they mean something, just like every statue means something. In Texas, they have Confederate Heroes Day and it usually falls right around MLK Day. And one of my bosses...
M: So that I have a problem with.
S: Yeah, me too.
A: I had someone tell me, "Well, we just celebrated your day." And I'm like, "What do you mean?" He goes, "Your redneck Confederate Day." And I'm like, "Okay, irrelevant." And this is coming from a black person at my job. But I'm just like, "Really? Why do you gotta say it like that? Why is it—?”
M: So it's like the assumption was already made about you.
A: They said, "Well, it's celebrating your day, your white people day." I'm like, "It doesn't say white people day, it says Confederate Heroes and if you wanna know the truth, there are black confederates as well."
M: There are.
A: And he's just like, "Whatever, Encyclopedia."
S: We can remember the past without celebrating the darkness of it by having... For example, did you know that the medical field of gynecology was literally built on the bodies of slave women.
M: I believe it.
S: That the guy who invented the field of gynecology and started, you know, in that direction, like he experimented, literally, with new surgical procedures to deal with reproductive issues like fistulas and things like that on the bodies of slave women. And there was—there’s a statue of him somewhere, I think it's in Georgia. And I was listening to an interview about this, with a woman who was saying, "How about instead of having a statue of him, we have statues of the three women that he experimented on?"
M: And mutilated. [claps] Thank you. And that is something that we keep trying to say is that, "Okay, you're telling one side of the story. What about the rest of the story?”
M: So you're having these confederates up and you're saying, "Here goes the hero." What about, like you said, the black bodies that were used to get you to—that you used, that you mutilated to get you to where you are. Why don't we have those? And so it was very interesting, 'cause I watched this TED Talk, and I've gotta make sure that I send it to you all, of this artist. And so in this picture, there's a very aristocratic white family and then there's a little black boy standing behind them. And he's not smiling, and everybody else is smiling, and so he goes, "You know what, we have to look at the rest of the story. What is this picture telling us? That everyone else is smiling, this little black boy is not smiling. Where is he looking to? Where are they looking to? Notice in the line that even though the children are the same age, the black boy is shorter. Notice that he is the one that's standing while everyone else is sitting, and they're still taller than him. So what are all these things we're doing?" And so he literally whitewashed the entire painting, so that you only saw this black boy. And he says, "I'm not saying to erase the entire story, but look at the rest of the story. Look at what this means."
A: Do you remember when Oprah brought on Thomas Jefferson's family, the black family. The black side of the family.
M: Oh, yes. Yeah, I do remember that.
A: And the white side, and they did DNA testing on it.
S: Oh, wow.
A: And it came out to that they were all related. And it's just like why are you... He was... Was he one of the presidents, Jefferson? I don't know.
S: Yes, yes.
M: Mmhm. Yes.
S: One of the founding fathers, too.
A: And he had one of the black children...
S: Played by a black man on Broadway right now.
M: Yes. Woo!
A: But, for me, why, like she said, why whitewash it? They're sitting next to each other. And then I was just kinda like... Then another episode of Jerry Springer, this is way back, he had the Black Panthers and the KKK on the same stage.
M: I think I do remember that. And everyone's like, "Jerry!"
A: And they had the little kids dressed in the... To me, racism is taught. Hatred for another person is taught. I wholeheartedly believe you're not born to hate somebody. You are ingrained, in your mind, to hate someone. Like I said with me, I didn't know color. I didn't, they were my friends. It wasn’t, you’re His—you’re...
S: I'm Middle Eastern. [chuckle]
A: Middle Eastern, sorry. And you're black, I'm white. It was just we're friends, we go to the pool together, we go to school. I think it's taught. We need to teach history, the good and the bad.
M: Yes. Yeah, and I think the older we get, the—like I know the older I got, the more aware I was of race because of the interaction. Kinda what you said, someone's like, "Oh, white people... Your white people day." As people starting saying negative things I was more aware of my race and who I was.
A: And that's with me also. I was like I can't help I was born white. I could've been born black. I could've been born green. It's...
M: I agree with that. I think what's happening now... And this is what's so important for you, Anne, to kinda look at going back to your question about white privilege, and it's what Samia said too, and it's so cheesy. It’s, you know, it was a quote from Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility." You have power simply in your existence of your color.
M: You have power, and so with that power, question things, look at things. I've had friends who are activists who, you know, I’ve said something in a meeting, and this was very funny because this happened not that long ago. I was a coach. I was a speaking coach for a group to go and do something. I have over a decade of public speaking experience, of persuasion, of all of those things. So I was called in to coach this group, as well as somebody else came in, same thing, to coach a group. Now, granted, I have about—man, about eight or nine years on this guy, but he's a white guy. And so when I spoke and I said things, no one heard me, no one listened to me. And this was other faculty members from different groups. When he spoke: "Oh, that's a good idea." Then I spoke and I said something, and then all of a sudden one of the guys in the group says, "I think we should do blah, blah, blah." And so then the guy that was the other coach with me said, “Um, that's what she just said."
S: Thank you.
A: Thank you.
M: And so he goes, “Not that—“ He’s like, "Not that I'm pointing out these inequities and the inequalities of someone who is a woman and also black." And I just looked at him, I said, "Thank you." And he gave me a—he's like, "Girl, this is... " But he was aware for several reasons. He was aware, one, because he seeks to be aware. He doesn’t have—as a white male, he doesn't have to do that. He seeks to educate himself and to be aware and to question these things. But also as someone who was gay, he lives a life where he has to question things, too. So he carries this privilege with him, but he also isin a group of marginality. And so he has to question these things and he has to call them to—
S: And you're getting into the issue of intersectionality now.
M: Yes, yes, definitely.
S: Which has been a hot topic amongst liberals lately, and conservatives kinda make fun of it and just write it off as identity politics, and they roll their eyes and they don't wanna deal with it.
M: And everything is politics. How did it turn to politics when...
S: Yeah. But intersectionality... Have you heard that term, Anne?
S: It's the concept of having multiple levels of discrimination stacked against you. So for Marsha, it's she's a woman and she's black.
M: And I have a disability. [laughter]
S: There you go. And like, for example, when you have a trans person of color, suddenly—and say it's a trans woman—that’s stacks of discrimination.
A: Black, woman, trans.
S: Intersectionality. Person of color, woman, trans, queer, you know, all of these things stacked against you.
A: It's like what she was saying...
S: Making it even harder if [inaudible] just one.
A: Some of my co-workers are black. I get along with black people better than I get along with white people. I don't know why. Well, my family, but that's not relevant, that's family. But I just feel more in tune with the black. And I hate that word, like black, white, we're people. I mean, I don't wanna use it as a race but that's what it is. And I was hurt when someone told me that I was white privileged, 'cause I never thought of myself as being white privileged. 'Cause I just, I never thought of that, I don't carry myself, "Well, I'm white and I'm better than you." No, I'm no better than...
S: Yeah. It's not about how you carry yourself. It’s how the rest of the world treats you...
M: Perceives you.
S: —that makes the difference.
A: And it's just like what you were saying on the gay, straight, whatever. I don't care, use whatever bath—like, we talked about the bathrooms. It's a bathroom, go pee, it doesn't matter if you wanna go to the boys or the girls.
S: Yeah. I don't think that your positions are in question here. I mean, you’ve been really consistent. It's the issue of being aware that there are inequalities and acknowledging them, and doing—you know, everyone doing their part, especially Caucasian people, especially straight Caucasian people, doing their part to realize, like, these inequalities exist, intersectionality exists, and we need to support these communities that are being discriminated against. And we need to raise awareness and get people on equal footing.
A: You can look at Austin. Austin’s very, I think, liberal.
M: Oh yeah.
A: Very free-thinking, free, love, happiness. But you go North and you go South, it's more family-oriented, and more like, "Oh, we don't do that, we don't talk about that. Oh, well, we know that they're that way, but… " It's very closeted.
A: You look into, like, the Hispanic cultures, San Antonio is predominately Hispanic.
A:It’s more like, "Well, we know that they're there but [whispers] we don't talk about it."
S: I think that the second you get, like, more homogeneous, is that how you pronounce it or is it homogenous?
M: Homogenous or homogeneous, it could be both.
S: Are they both right?
M: I think so.
S: Alright. The second you get communities that are more homogenous, you start to get a narrower world view that can begin to lack compassion for people who aren't just like you. Whether it's religion, or skin color, or race or just a political view, ideological views. When you get tribal like that, I think it can get dangerous because you start to see other people as lesser than.
S: And everybody is equal.
M: And that's why people are saying racism. By the definition of racism is not that you hate everybody else, but when you think that your race is better, that you do something better. And that's not your fault. Again, that's talking to the white privilege idea. And so this is what something that you all have to read if you haven't already. It's called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, and it's by Peggy McIntosh. And this is also something I teach in class.
S: I'll link to this in the show notes.
M: Okay, good, good. And it says a lot of things, like for instance, I don't have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put it down to my color. There's just a lot of things. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race. And we could extend that to a lot of different identities, but this is something that looks at, I think, I see my culture presented in a positive way on television. So many people don't see their culture in a positive way, they see people of color next to a mugshot, killing, or whatever you wanna say. It's not that it just happens with people of color, this happens with everyone.
M: But, and here’s the thing that's very interesting. My parents, they've done this for a long time and I never understood why, and now I get it. Whenever something happens on the news, they already say white, black, and I'm like, "What are they doing, what?" And like, "Oh I know, they're about to put his mugshot up." And if it's someone who is white who has done something, rarely will you see a mugshot. Every time it is someone of color, every time, there's not been one time where this has not been the case, a mugshot is up there. Picture, and the worst way possible, lots of character assassination, and that's happened even with all the shootings that have happened. Not only have these people died once, they've died twice, they've died physically in the body and then they've died through character assassination. And it's a problem. It’s definitely a problem. And so that is again where this privilege is coming from. And when you don't have to think about it, when you don't have to know what intersectionality means, when you don't have to know what white privilege means, that in itself is privilege. And so that's why I'm saying, like, you didn't ask for it, not at all. I would never blame you for that, and you know I love you, I love you to death. But anyone else said that, some Joe Shmoe on the street, I would not blame them for that. Here's what it comes out though, it comes out as entitlement, it comes out as ignorance, it comes out as a lot of things. So all I'm simply saying is that it's so important to educate yourself and to question, and to call to question. You know, someone in line the other day, I was waiting in line, and they were like, "Sir," and they looked at the person to the side of me, and they said—and then—and he was white, and he said, "Actually, I think she was here first." I was like, "Thank you, I really appreciate that." So noticing those things, and not being like, "Oh, she called me first, so I mean, it's my turn in line." And noticing that that's not right, you know?
A: That's wrong, like…
M: And so she’s like—hey. And that's something that maybe if I were white, I would never have to think about, but that's not my reality. So I'm always thinking about it, because this is always my reality, that whoever is standing next to me, if they are white, they're gonna get called before I do. That's just what happens.
S: Anne, do you think that you have a better understanding of the concept of white privilege after this conversation?
A: Coming from her, as somebody I know, yes, but when they're on the pits of hell of Facebook [Samia laughs] they’re evil. I mean, they were going off, like, calling me… “Oh you’re white, you get everything handed to you. You get all the food stamps." What the hell are you talking about? I don't get no food stamps.
M: Yeah. You’re like, "What?"
S: So these—it's my belief that these personal relationships, personal conversations are where change starts in societies.
S: And this kind of bullying online coming from both sides, liberals and conservatives, just name-calling each other and being assholes to each other, I think is counterproductive to everybody's agenda. You know, whatever you want to happen in the world, if you wanna change people's minds, you don't do it by calling them names.
S: And, Anne, I wanna thank you again. I got a lot out of this conversation. You really gave me a new perspective on gun control.
S: Thank you.
M: Can I say one more thing, though, about those personal relationships?
S: Yeah. Absolutely.
M: That's something else too, standing where you are. You’re very different, Anne, than a lot of people in that you do seek out relationships with people who look different than you do. And that's what I would encourage people to do. If they wanna learn and understand, seek out those relationships. It's so easy, especially how we are living in silos economically, and even based off of race, where you as a white woman, you don't have to seek out these relationships with others. You can go into communities of all white people and live there. And that's what a lot of people, even here in Austin, the most liberal place, I've told you, I've gone to places where it's like all white people and me, and I'm like, wow.
A: Where's the color? [chuckle]
M: Yeah. Where is the color, where is the diversity? I might see one Latina and they're working. They're working, you know? So it's very stereotypical. So step out of your comfort zone. To live with privilege is to be comfortable. Be uncomfortable, that is why people are calling people to task and saying things like, "Oh, well, that's your white privilege." Be uncomfortable like we are, and sit in it for a minute and then learn...
A: Marinate in it.
M: Yeah, marinate in it, for real, and then say, "Why are all of these things... Well, let me look at different articles. Let me go online and see what does this white privilege mean, and what are people trying to say?" And ask that. I was on a plane going somewhere to talk about... What was I talking about? Mike Brown. The Mike Brown Case.
S: In Ferguson?
M: The moaning and what goes on with the mother as all of these things are going on, and how it relates to communication. And I sat down and I was telling the person next to me, and she started crying and she goes—it was a white woman—and she goes, "I never get to have conversations about race with people because people are always so quick to attack or to judge me."
M: And so, people out here. Ask questions, learn from other people who are different from you, and if you are someone who is a person of color, and you—yes, it is enraging sometimes to not understand, why are people asking such ignorant effing questions. But you have got to be calm at times, and you have got to help to educate. It's up to all of us. It is not our job to do that. It is not our role to do it, but if we want to really truly see change, we have to have these conversations. We definitely should.
S: We have to be compassionate, give people the benefit of the doubt, and not jump to attacking them. We need to be able to have conversations...
A: But knowledge is power though. The stupidest questions are the ones you don't ask.
S: Yeah, have a conversation that is respectful.
M: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
S: Thank you so much.
M: You're welcome.
A: Thank you.
S: Yay bonus episode!
M: This was good!
[cheering and laughing]
SAMIA VO: Wow. Isn’t Marsha freaking awesome? I’ve gotten a good amount of feedback from listeners about not having much hope of changing people’s minds, and this conversation shows that you can get through to people if you’re willing to maintain a friendly relationship with them and not jump straight to harsh criticisms and name-calling. In liberal circles, Anne’s comments could have drawn some seriously damning criticism, which would have done nothing to help her understand the issue of white privilege better, and would have made her think all liberals are just mean and judgmental. There is a better way. We’ll never change everyone’s mind, but building relationships with those we disagree with at least creates the potential of helping people’s opinions evolve.
I did not write super extensive fact-checking show notes for this bonus episode—it’s been a crazy week, guys—but I did link to a few things we talked about on the website. Head to the Bonus Episode page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com to access those resources.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my conversation with the wonderfully articulate Sarah Ito. Sarah contacted me in response to a Craigslist ad I posted, and she was a fascinating person to talk to. She worked on Wall Street for a long time, and now she’s exploring a second career as an actor and writer. She was part of the second-wave feminist movement back in the 70s, and said she usually doesn’t vote Republican. Why would a woman like that decide that Donald Trump was a better choice than Hillary Clinton? Come back next week to find out.
If you’ve been digging the show and want to help get more people on board with this concept of applying principles of compassion and respect to political conversations, please please please head to iTunes or Apple Podcasts and leave us a 5-star review. Those reviews are everything when it comes to getting the show out to more people. Also, share on social media. Tell your friends. You can follow the show on Facebook and Twitter at @relatepodcast.
Many thanks to Andrew Guastella for making this interview audio sound nice, Douglass Recording in Brooklyn for letting me use their beautiful studio space for my intro and outro segments, and Christopher Gilroy for editing it all together and mixing it down.
This has been Make America Relate Again. See you next week.