Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Season 2 of Our Podcast Series is Here: What do White Supremacists and White Anti-Racists Have in Common? A Conversation With Professor Matthew Hughey About His New Book "White Bound"

The second season of the podcast series for We Are Respectable Negroes has arrived. I have some great guests who have kindly offered up their time for the type of relaxed, go as they may, and challenging conversations which I try to feature on the podcast series.

The Age of Obama and post civil rights America has been witness to repeated public conversations about the meaning of whiteness and white privilege. Some of this is a function of racial anxiety, fear, and worry about the country's changing demographics and the impact of globalization on "American" identity and culture.

There are also political actors on the Right who are deeply invested in maintaining and protecting White Supremacy and systems of racial privilege for whites. Progressives and anti-racists on the Left have also been trying to deploy the language of "white privilege" as a means of discussing social justice and the work that remains to be done if America is to truly become a racial democracy.

I wanted to explore these issues in our first conversation of Season 2. The language of "whiteness" and "white privilege" has been thrown about so casually as of late by the mass media and supposed "experts" on race, that it would benefit all of us to define the terms, and foreground our assumptions, in order to use such terminology accurately.

Professor Matthew Hughey, author of the book White Bound: Nationalists, Anti-Racists, and the Shared Meaning of Race, was kind enough to oblige me. Matt is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. In addition to being the author of 7 books and more than 30 articles, he is also a community activist and organizer.

In this podcast, we discuss what whiteness means to white people, the use and abuse of language such as "how race is a "social construction", and the surprising similarities between white nationalists and white anti-racists in their attitudes towards people of color.

This is a relaxed, but to my ears, very incisive and rich conversation with much to offer for those of us trying to understand the meaning of whiteness in the Age of Obama, as well as the semi-permanence of the colorline and white supremacy 50 years after the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's iconic "I have a Dream Speech".

Hosted by Kiwi6 file hosting.

1:46 Introductions and what was your "light bulb" moment when you decided to become a professor?
3:47 Did you decide to do social justice work and become curious about social inequality because of your family/mentors/peers?
6:44 How do we locate white anti-racists within a broader conversation about whiteness? Why are white anti-racists often treated with suspicion by people of color or as "race traitors" by whites?
9:33 Going to graduate school at the University of Virginia during a "Culture Wars" moment. Being a white sociologist who was not interested in the culture of poverty discourse.
12:22 What does whiteness mean for white people? How do we define the term? On how racism is a fact of American life and not an opinion.
15:25 The sociological imagination and trying to help poor and working class whites understand the "wages of whiteness".
19:01 Racism, structural inequality, white supremacy, and unequal outcomes
22:50 Is whiteness benign? And in your experience, how do white folks respond to critical conversations about white privilege and white racism?
26:35 Racial grammar. Is "Whiteness" and "White" different from "whiteness" and "white?"
29:21 Why does the discussion of white supremacy seem to scare white people more than people of color?
31:57 The use and abuse of the phrase "socially constructed".
34:14 How do we understand implicit bias? Are researchers doing an adequate job communicating to the general public how racism intersects with the (white) collective subconscious?
37:00 Academic discourse and resistance by editors and referees to using the phrase "white supremacy" in your work.
38:57 Race, racialized outcomes, and the myth of "liberal" academe.
41:14 The need for white anti-racists and others to go beyond Peggy McIntosh and the "Myth of the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege". Is the popularization of the white privilege discourse in the Age of Obama actually doing negative social work in the struggle against white supremacy?
46:19 Research techniques for empirically investigating systems of white supremacy and racial ideologies.
46:59 On doing a simultaneous ethnography of a white nationalist group and a white anti-racist organization.
48:00 What did they have in common? How did they think about what whiteness means? How do both groups deny white racism and being racist?
53:15 White privilege and white supremacy on the political Left and the political Right.
55:30 Liberal racism and white anti-racism.
57:00 Cyber racism, Birtherism, and online news comment sections.
60:00 The racial draft. What group of people currently categorized as "non-white" will become "white" in the future?
65:10 How do we apply research on race and racial ideologies to making sense of the Age of Obama and its many contradictions?
70:05 Where can listeners find you online, your books, articles, future projects?


SunKissed said...

Great interview. The idea of racism as a structure rather than a mindset shared by a few relics of the past is a tough pill for many to swallow. I learned a lot from this interview and am interested in reading his book.

I see the post racial era as like a freedom fighter in the Matrix who battles the Agents. He knows that they are connected to all that is wrong in the world and fights for their eradication. After years of struggle the Agents are finally few and far in between and the freedom fighter rest from his battles. But, things continue as they were because after all, he's still in the Matrix.

Frank said...

Excellent discussion.

As an almost-sociology major (I had enough credits for a minor, but my school did not give them), I appreciated the perspective. Missing from much of our discourse is a recognition that mores, norms, and expectations help create reality, not just react to it.

chauncey devega said...

You know race, whiteness, and the white savior are all over those Matrix films. as is Whiteness as rational authority and "blackness" as emotional instinct and wisdom.

Matt is cool folks. He made things easy.

chauncey devega said...

And that is terrifying to so many is it not?

Frank said...

Terrifying to some. Useful to others.

SunKissed said...

On a surface level I am aware of it as I suspect the same themes run through a lot of popular culture. My early 30's so far have been an awakening to something I heard in my teens from an unlikely source. That I'm born black in a white mans world.

OldPolarBear said...

I listened to this yesterday afternoon at work. There was a lot here and multitasking probably didn't let me give it the attention it deserves. I may listen again and I would like to read some of Matthew Hughey's books.

Just a couple of the things that came to mind.

One, it seems that the concepts of white supremacy and American exceptionalism share a lot of characteristics. The latter is often on my mind, and again especially the last week or so because of the situation in Syria. And I have been reading here about white supremacy as well as trying to find what I can on the web from the Race Traitor magazine that you also brought to my attention.

So, thinking about this podcast, WS and AE both are convinced of their own benevolence. In America, we are so convinced of the benevolence of our exceptionalism that we actually think that killing people with bombs, white phosphorus, depleted uranium, etc. really are good when we do it.

WS and AE are also both pretty invisible to the people invested in it. Even when people are explicitly proclaiming that they believe in American exceptionalism, they don't actually "see" it. Also, it is very difficult to challenge the notion of AE -- it will make people angry even as challenging the idea of white supremacy will make them angry.

I also seems like American exceptionalism is the child of a marriage between white supremacy and Manifest Destiny, but maybe that metaphor doesn't work.

Ashley said...

This was really great. I'm happy these conversations persist.

chauncey devega said...

I hope they persist too :) Gots more to come. Thanks for chiming in and listening too.

chauncey devega said...

your synthesis of manifest destiny and white supremacy is smart and succinct. have you ever read any Zinn or Saxton's The Rise and Fall of the White Republic?

chauncey devega said...

Remember that. Don't be crippled by it. You have gifted insight.

OldPolarBear said...

Thanks. I have read Zinn's People's History and some other things. Not familiar with the other but I will look into it.

justanotherpeasant said...

Yawn another pointless discussion about whites and racism for negro who want whites to loves them.

Ignorance is not bliss said...

I love Professor Matthew Hughey views, I wrote about social programming a few months, Today I was arguing with Angela Julien who was trying to use Professor Matthew Hughey views against liberals. ""The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative." Anyway, her argument brought me to this site. I may have to buy his book.