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Episode 216 — Portraying People In Racist Situations


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 10:19 PM

On today’s episode, Baron & Andrew try to figure out if Orange Is The New Black is racist by discussing racist cliches, out of context imagery that is supposed to be commentary on racism in films/tv, and people who are obsessed with not being racist. Be sure to keep leaving us messages at (323) 389-RACE.

#2 Shariq Torres

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 04:48 AM

Thank you for this episode. This should put to rest anyone who wants to dismiss Andrew's viewpoint because of a lack of "authority" (I'm looking at you, Hyde). When you are continually the only person of your race in a situation, you become very aware of what people around you are doing, saying, and acting towards you. The things he points out as being racist are very obvious, and when the topic is more nuanced, he gives an nuanced answer.

Baron Vaugn is a good guest and this is gonna be a good week for this podcast.

#3 Shariq Torres

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 05:04 AM

And to point on Baron Vaughn's statement about not being "black enough". I think this is an idea that came of age in the early to mid 90s. This was when companies started seeing hip-hop has a marketing tool and actually began to sell images of blackness (wrapped in hip-hop) back to black youth. Remember when Sprite was the "black" soda? Remember those St. Ides commercials that were clearly marketed to teenagers and young adults? Suddenly "blackness" was based on what times you brought and what music you listened to, which lead me to cuss out quite a few white and Asian kids who thought they were "blacker" than me because they had a 12-pack of sugar water and the latest UGK album.

#4 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:43 PM

View PostShariq Torres, on 14 August 2013 - 05:04 AM, said:

And to point on Baron Vaughn's statement about not being "black enough". I think this is an idea that came of age in the early to mid 90s. This was when companies started seeing hip-hop has a marketing tool and actually began to sell images of blackness (wrapped in hip-hop) back to black youth. Remember when Sprite was the "black" soda? Remember those St. Ides commercials that were clearly marketed to teenagers and young adults? Suddenly "blackness" was based on what times you brought and what music you listened to, which lead me to cuss out quite a few white and Asian kids who thought they were "blacker" than me because they had a 12-pack of sugar water and the latest UGK album.


I think you're giving corporate America too much credit. The idea of "blackness" and being "black enough" goes back at least to the black power movement of the 70s, when black people started to really be proud of their cultural identity. Actually I would say it goes back further than that--look at Uncle Tom's Cabin--but in the 1970s it really started to be defined in more specific terms and take more concrete forms of black people intentionally asserting their independence from white American culture. For example, this is when it became common for "black names" to be different from "white names" (or "normal names" as the racist white culture would put it).

Corporate America certainly did a good job of subverting the idea of "blackness" and changing it to fit their agenda, though. And I would agree that the 90s is when this really started in earnest.

#5 Shariq Torres

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 04:05 AM

View PostKevin Irmiter, on 14 August 2013 - 02:43 PM, said:


I think you're giving corporate America too much credit. The idea of "blackness" and being "black enough" goes back at least to the black power movement of the 70s, when black people started to really be proud of their cultural identity. Actually I would say it goes back further than that--look at Uncle Tom's Cabin--but in the 1970s it really started to be defined in more specific terms and take more concrete forms of black people intentionally asserting their independence from white American culture. For example, this is when it became common for "black names" to be different from "white names" (or "normal names" as the racist white culture would put it).

Corporate America certainly did a good job of subverting the idea of "blackness" and changing it to fit their agenda, though. And I would agree that the 90s is when this really started in earnest.


I don't think I'm giving them enough credit. Corporate America influences our lives in profound ways, even people who like to think they are "in the know" or "hip" to what Corporate America are still under its control.

I would disagree with you on some points. The Black Arts Movement is when Black America started to assert control over our representation. This is era of Amiri Baraka, Melvin Van Peeples, etc. And while the idea of being "authentically black" was there, I think it was framed in more of a political fashion. In the books and movies from this time, the sellouts were black people actively collaborating with the white power structure to take away newly fought rights, and in many instances, it was the guys on the corner who were doing the collaborating. And while the good guys in those films were also corner boys, they were corner boys at a crossroads -- meaning, they had a shady history but were trying to go straight, or were actively in that life and beginning to see the negative effects they were having on others. Also in those movies, there was always a sort of black power character that sort of leads them on the correct path.

In the 90s, all of the political angle had been stripped away and it was merely listening to a type of music/wearing a brand of jeans/drinking a brand of soda that made you "authentically" black. It boiled down the essence of a racial group to brands you consumed. And that is absolutely crazy.

Now, Uncle Tom's Cabin, I think, is a whole different dynamic. That was a white liberal creating a sympathetic narrative for a black cause that other white liberals could support. Considering the circumstances in which that book was written, I consider this a good thing. But the bad part about that was that it set in white liberal's minds, and the country's mind, that the only black person that was worth saving is one that totally submitted to the wishes of white people, and one that will do so with a smile.

#6 MiriamWebster

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 08:13 AM

Baron Vaughn was such a great guest all week. One of my favorites. And how cool is it that he's friends with Uzo Aduba??