Ask yourself, what are you willing to do in the service of antiracism?
OK everyone, welcome to today’s episode of the #CauseAScene Podcast Book Club episode of “How to be an Antiracist” Chapter 18: “Survival”. We’re at the end of this book. It took us a minute, but we got here. So we’re just going to read through, and then I’m gonna have some final thoughts to end us with. So I’m going to start on page 230:
The source of racist ideas was not ignorance or hate, but self interest.
And I put a star by that because it is so important. We remove agency from a lot of people when we talk about racist ideas come from ignorance and hate and not attributed to self interest. It’s another reason why I’m no longer promoting “White Fragility”, by Robin D’Angelo. It’s not that it’s a bad book. What it is is an academic term and and an academic theory, and in the wild, it looks like, “Oh, I’m so ignorant. Oh, I didn’t mean to be hateful,” or, you know, “That person is hateful,” or, “Oh, that’s just their white fragility. They didn’t mean it.”
No, there’s a lot out here that’s about self interest. And we need to own that. So many people are benefiting in various ways based on white supremacy, and that includes white people, model minorities, and Black people. We all have found a way—or the system has found a way—for us to benefit, so that we will continue to uphold it. If it did not benefit everybody in the system in some kind of way, we would have overthrown this at some point, whether we all recognize where we benefit or not.
The history of racist ideas is the history of powerful policymakers erecting racist policies out of self interest, then producing racist ideas to defend and rationalize the inequitable effects of their policies, while everyday people consume those racist ideas, which in turn sparks ignorance and hate. […] Educational and moral suasion is not only a failed strategy…
And I highlighted this next:
…it is a suicidal strategy.
And I wrote in the margin: “Fuck civility: the expectation that I must appeal to the moral nature of others while I’m being harmed.”
This is so why… “fuck civility” means… it becomes so much deeper to me as I use it and promote it and think about it and process it. At first, it was just, “You know what? If whiteness is—if civility is optional for whiteness and the expected behavior of people of color, then, damn it, I don’t want that anymore!” You know, that was me throwing off that that whole… I’ve always been a person you ain’t gonna tell me what the fuck to do. So that’s what that was. But the more and more I learn and challenge and reflect and so on, “fuck civility” means so much more than that. “Fuck civility” is, “Fuck white supremacy!
Fuck how I’m supposed to… all those teachers who told me that—I mean, I literally had a teacher in, I think I was in the seventh grade, but I had him. It was in a small Catholic school. He was gonna be my eighth grade teacher. My mom’s like, “No, we’re gonna take you out of school because there’s gonna be hell for me for the year.” But he actually had math groups—it was all Black school, he was a white teacher, Mr. Maluth—oh, I hated that fucker. He had two groups of students. He was the only teacher who did this here: the dumb group—and he literally called them [that]—and the smart group. And I was in the dumb group because he was a math teacher and I did not like his ass, and so I really didn’t give a fuck about the class.
And it wasn’t until… because my mom told me that, “You know what? I can’t deal with you being in his class. There is no other class for you to go to. I’m gonna put you in this public school,” which was in what people would call “the ‘hood.” And it was a public school that my godmother’s kids went to. And so we used her address for me to go. And it was a public middle school with all Black teachers, and I excelled, I so exhaled in every, in every, domain.
I actually went in—because all of my godmother’s kids play instruments—so I went in, the first week of school in band. He put me in advanced band just because I knew them, and I was like, “Dude, what the hell are you doing?” And I was supposed to play the flute, and for the first two weeks, I literally cut that class and I was like, “I do not know what the hell I’m doing. Why the hell you got me in this advanced band bullshit?” And he forced me. He said, “You are not going anywhere. You’re gonna learn this thing.” And I could tell you, by the end of that school year, I could play everything we played except for “Flight of the Bumblebees”—and if anybody knows about that, that’s a very, very fast fingering—I hadn’t gotten that good. but in a year I knew how to play that flute.
And it was years later when I saw him… years later, I saw him, and I literally saw his face and I just started crying, and he was like, “What are you crying about?” And I… he was the person that told me that school in the heart of you know, what people considered a ghetto in the hood, because there were Black teachers there who did not talk down to me, who expected me to excel, who demanded—not just expected—demand that I excel.
I just started crying because he—that experience—told me, confirmed for me that I was not dumb and that I did have value, that I could learn. And so it’s a long way to say—you know me—that’s how I unpack that. But that’s why fuck civility! Every little way that tells someone—particularly a Person of Color or Black person—that they are not as good as, or they have to work harder than, or they have to do 10 times… no! Fuck that! I am going to show up as I am, I’m no longer going to be putting in fucking 10 hours of work when the average white dude puts in one or two hours of work just to show up in the room. Fuck you. I’m not doing it anymore. So that’s what my “fuck civility” is.
And we’ll keep going. [Laughs] Same page, 230:
I talked about racist policies leading to racist ideas, not the other way around, as we have commonly thought. I talked about eliminating racist policies if we ever hope to eliminate racist ideas. I talked and talked, unaware of my own hypocrisy, which readers and attendees picked up. “What are you doing to change policy?” they kept asking me in public and private.
And I wrote in the margins, “This is a question I continue to ask members of the #CauseAScene community. And unfortunately, most of you don’t have an answer.” And I’m gonna read that again. “This is a question I continue to ask members of the #CauseAScene community.” And unfortunately, most of you do not have an answer because you are doing absolutely nothing but soaking up free education from myself and from other people’s lived experience. This is why I refuse to spend my personal money anymore on #CauseAScene. If I can’t get—I have almost 8500 followers—if I can’t get 50 people 50 to give me $100 a month—and I know there are people out there in the community can afford that cause you waste it on food—who can give me $100 a month to support myself and to continue to do this work? Then you get what you get. You get the podcast, when I get it to you, you get whatever it is when I get it to you. Because to do this work has not only a financial cost—my hosting costs have gone up substantially, my domain costs have gone up substantially—but also just my mental energy to do the work of educating the oppressor while also processing my own oppression.
It takes me so long to read these chapters, and God knows what’s gonna happen in when we start reading Nell Painter’s “A History of White People”. But I can’t just read this into a podcast. I have to—and my podcast engineer knows it. I read it. Sometimes it takes me days to get through a chapter because it’s just so much. I read, and then I process, and then I come and I create, do a podcast episode. And at the beginning, I was—as I said—I was, you know, like hesitant to do them because I don’t like how I sound when I read aloud, because I am not, you know, I’m not a person they’re gonna call to read books on tape. You know, that’s just not me. I fumble my words, my thoughts get ahead of my verbs… uh, my words, like I just did. Also, I can see a word and know how to pronounce it in my head, but sometimes it just doesn’t come out of my mouth, so it does not make for great podcast listening, if I were here to be an expert at reading to you, but I’m not. I’m here as an expert at breaking these concepts down to ignorant people, to people who—most of you just found out in 2016 that there was still racial issues.
And so again, I’m gonna put that question. This is the question I asked. I continue to ask members of the #CauseAScene community. And unfortunately, most of you parasites, voyeurs have no answer.
All right, page 231:
I did not need to forsake antiracist research and education, I needed to forsake my orientation to antiracist research and education. I had to forsake the suasionist bred into me, of researching and educating for the sake of changing minds. I had to start researching and educating to change policy. The former strategy produces a public scholar. The latter produces public scholarship.
And what our role here is. This speaks to #CauseAScene not being where the real work happens. The real work happens for me when I do tech business leadership coaching, when I’m talking to the… this is why I don’t want to talk to HR, I don’t want to talk to middle managers. There’s nothing personal, it’s not that I do not value the work that you do, but I need to talk to the people who are responsible and who will demand and dictate change and those are business leaders. #CauseAScene is just where I go to—again educate the populace, the people who choose to follow me—but that’s not where the work is, and I said this a few episodes ago, #CauseAScene is where the demonstration is, but the protest is what I do, is the prolonged strategy I do with business leaders because I want to effect change. I want the power and influence to be able to fundamentally change how tech functions. And how, when we figure this out in tech, when they’re enough business leaders who are saying, “My God, I no longer want to be complicit in the harming of others!” And I recognize that I can do that and still be profitable and making a lot of money, then other industries will have to follow.
So at the bottom of 231, I just highlighted some of the things he talked about.
Admit racial inequality is a problem of bad policy, not bad people.
Identify racial inequality in all of its intersections and manifestations.
Investigate and uncover the racist policies causing racial inequity.
Invent or find antiracist policy that can eliminate racial inequity.
Figure out who and what group has the power to institute antiracist policy.
Disseminate and educate about the uncovered racist policy and antiracist policy correctives.
Work with sympathetic antiracist policymakers to institute the antiracist policy.
Deploy antiracist power to compel and drive from power the unsympathetic racist policymakers in order to institute the antiracist policy.
Monitor closely to ensure the antiracist policy reduces and eliminates racial inequity.
When policies fail, do not blame the people. Start over and seek out new and more effective antiracist treatments until they work.
Monitor closely to prevent new racist policies from being instituted.
And then I wrote in the margins, “This is why I focus on gaining power and influence in business within tech. We impact everything.” And also I want to talk about—bring this up again—this is why I’m not enthusiastic about any of the remaining presidential candidates, because if you don’t have a fundamental antiracist policy, it is not for me—and for many of us—about just beating Trump. And you can sit and you can try and shame me; you can try to do all that other bullshit, but what I’m gonna tell you, if you don’t have a fundamental girding and understanding, a policy that you are working towards that is fundamentally antiracist, nothing changes for me. Getting rid of Trump will make some white folks feel good, but it will not change my lived experience, because it never has.
So until we can have that fucking honest conversation, you can kiss my Black ass about trying to tell me, “Anybody but Trump. Vote anybody but Trump.” No, no, no, no, no, no. You can’t tell me that. And this is coming from Black folks, this is directed to Black folks too: you do your vote the way you want to, and I will do mine, and others of us will do our vote the way we want to. But I’m not going to do is compromise what I know is needed to improve all of our lived experiences by prioritizing the most vulnerable. Voting Trump, when you say “Anybody but Trump,” that prioritizes whiteness. And I need you to understand that, because you white people are finally fucking uncomfortable, and you don’t want to be uncomfortable anymore. I need your asses is in pain, and you’re not there yet.
All right, we’re going to page 234:
Our world is suffering from metastatic cancer. Stage 4. Racism has spread to nearly every part of the body politic, intersecting with bigotry of all kinds, justifying all kinds of inequities by victim blaming; heightening exploitation and misplaced hate; spurring mass shootings, arms races, and demagogues who polarize nations; shutting down essential organs of democracy; and threatening the life of human society with nuclear war and climate change. In the United States, the metastatic cancer has been spreading, contracting, and threatening to kill the American body as it nearly did before its birth, as it nearly did during its Civil War. But how many people stare inside the body of their nations’ racial inequities, their neighborhoods’ racial inequities, their occupations’ racial inequities, their institutions’ racial inequities, and flatly deny their policies are racist? They flatly deny that racial inequity is a signpost of racial policy. They flatly deny the racist policy as they use racist ideas to justify the racial inequity. They flatly deny the cancer of racism as the cancer cells spread and literally threaten their own lives and the lives of the people and spaces and places they hold dear. The popular conception of denial—like the popular conception of susation—is suicidal.
And so I wrote: “This is why I say that white supremacy is the parasite that is now eating its host.”
The heartbeat of racism is denial. The heartbeat of antiracism is confession.
Denying my ability to succeed in my cancer fight did not differ from those denying our ability to succeed in the antiracist fight. Denial is much easier than admission, than confession.
I have cancer. The most serious stage. Cancer is likely to kill me. I can survive cancer against all odds.
My society has racism. The most serious stage. Racism is likely to kill my society. My society can survive racism against all odds.
I looked past what could harm me in the fight to see all that could bring me joy if I survived.
I’m going to read that again because I just sparkles in me.
I looked past what could harm me in the fight to see all that could bring me joy if I survived.
This is the only thing that keeps me going, that keeps me moving ahead through the attacks, all the shit that I have to put up with, the fact that—and this is why this is why I’ve always been a person who never ran from challenges, who kind of put my head down like, you know, in the wind in Chicago, you put your head down and you just keep moving forward—because I always knew that it was, I always had this sense, and I always experienced that there was something better on the other side of this pain that was joyful. And this is why I do this, and this is why I continue to move in the way that I move.
On page 238:
Pain is usually essential to healing. When it comes to healing America of racism, we want to heal America without pain, but without pain, there is no progress.
Hallelujah! And I wrote this with an exclamation point behind it, “This is why I say that nothing will fundamentally change until whiteness is in pain!” People think I’m being—you know, we won’t even talk about the fact that they think I’m being racist—but they think I’m being mean and callous, and I need white people; I’ve I’ve seen your ability to tolerate discomfort. So at this point, I know that you need pain for us to, for you to see that you have a dog in this fight, for you to see, to recognize that is not just, “Oh, I’m your ally because I want to go out and help the brown and Black people and the people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m doing this for you, you know, I’m this great person. I’m, oh my god! Look how much I’m giving to you!” I need white folks to understand, you’re not doing it for me, boo boo. You’re doing it to save your own goddamn skin.
Continued on page 237:
What if we treated racism in the way we treat cancer?
Saturate the body politic with the chemotherapy or immunotherapy of antiracist policies that shrink the tumors of racial inequities, that kill undetectable cancer cells. Remove any remaining racist policies, the way surgeons remove the tumors. Ensure there are clear margins, meaning no cancer cells of inequity left in the body politic, only the healthy cells of equity. Encourage the consumption of healthy foods for thought and the regular exercising of antiracist ideas, to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Monitor the body politic closely, especially where the tumors of racial inequity previously existed. Detect and treat a recurrence early, before it can grow and threaten the body politic.
But before we can treat, we must believe. Believe all is not lost for you and me and our society. Believe in the possibility that we can strive to be antiracist from this day forward. Believe in the possibility that we can transform our societies to be antiracist from this day forward. Racist power is not godly. Racist policies are not indestructible. Racial inequities are not inevitable. Racist ideas are not natural to the human mind.
Racism is not even 600 years old…
And I put a star by that. That’s something we need to know. This isn’t from the from the dawn of time.
There is nothing I see in our world today, in our history, giving me hope that one day antiracists will win the fight, that one day the flag of antiracism will fly over a world of equity. What gives me hope is a simple truism. Once we lose hope, we are guaranteed to lose. But if we ignore the odds and fight to create an antiracist world, then we give humanity a chance to one day survive, a chance to live in communion, a chance to be forever free.
So that’s the end of the book. So you only have one homework assignment, and that homework assignment is simply:
Ask yourself, what are you willing to do in the service of antiracism?
That’s it. What are you willing to do in the service of antiracism? Because whatever your answer is, you will have an answer for yourself to tell you how serious you are, how committed you are, how comfortable you are, how your self interest takes priority over others in doing the work that needs to be done. Thank you and have a wonderful day.
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