The Writer’s Well Episode 185: How have we benefited from being white?

Rachael and J. tackle a relevant and critical topic this week. Join them for a raw and honest conversation about systemic racism and its devastating consequences.

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74 thoughts on “The Writer’s Well Episode 185: How have we benefited from being white?”

  1. Ah! You made me comment! After years of listening and not commenting. As a white woman, kudos on this episode. Silence does equal complicity. Even if speaking up feels like virtue signaling, it is also a signal to the actively racist white people in our lives that we do not support their racism and they are not the majority.

    You did push one button, in the beginning; if all the people who have the privilege to leave the US do, what does that mean for the people who do not have that privilege? I say this as a NYer living and working in Bangkok for the last 5 years. It has been breaking my heart that I can do even less from here while my country falls apart.

    Thanks for this show and all the other wonderful episodes.

    1. That is a great point, Nicole. I suspect my wife and I are really frustrated right now and that is probably influencing our conversation. But in fairness to us, we’ve been discussing an international move for years so its roots are more in our lifestyle than a comment on things in the U.S. right now.

      1. I live in Bangkok, I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying it’s very very complicated. And it doesn’t make you love your country any less, but it makes it much harder to engage in change. I’ve found I identify more strongly as an USAian after living outside of the US.

    2. Nicole! Thanks for responding! <3

      And yes, honestly, we'll probably stay. My two sisters are my life, and while they might go, too (we all have citizenship in NZ), my nephew and Lala's brother wouldn't be able to. I can't see leaving him. Plus, if we stay, we can fight, and without kids, it's easier to do that. But it's a tempting desire…

      So glad you commented!

  2. Wow deep discussion this week.
    We have racism in the UK but imho not on the same level as in the USA. I think part of the reason for this is that many of our non-white population arrived because we invited them for various reasons over the last 70 years. So they have a different starting point to many non-whites in the US.
    I think we are further down the road to equality, but we’re not there yet.
    Interesting reports in the UK press at the moment suggest many wealthy western countries could see their populations halve within a hundred years because we are not averaging just over the 2.x children needed to maintain the numbers. Immigrants could become valuable in future.
    To answer your question I have never thought of myself as benefiting because I am white. But I would say that wouldn’t I? So the answer is I don’t know. All of my working life has been in the military or public sector and I don’t recall seeing any racism at work.
    Maybe irrelevant but lovely wifey Denise is an NHS nurse in a large department at a large UK hospital and as a white UK citizen she is the ethnic minority in her department.
    I like the idea of positive action over words, but my definition of positive action is helping people not trashing statues, rioting or bringing down society. Although I can see why occasionally a reaction to injustice is the only way to draw attention to the injustice.
    What saddens me most in the UK at the moment is that one of the first casualties in these troubling times is free speech, and now worse, even free thought. If we cannot hold different views and if we cannot even think different views let’s cut out the evolution bit, bin democracy and get Big Brother in power asap.
    Interesting idea; in the UK we talk about free speech whereas some in your country talk about freedom; discuss. I will say something controversial as a starting point. In Europe we mostly do not have the right to own guns. Yet I think we are a lot freer than you, our friends across the pond.
    Great show.

    1. Totally agree. I’m not a fan of cancel culture or getting “woke” because it feels like fascism to me. We all need to strive for a balance between freedom of thought and equality for all.

    2. Oh, I think there was racism happening (provable if minorities weren’t represented at expected percentages based on demographics in upper management) even if you didn’t see it (because you were inside the system, like the fish that doesn’t know water exists). But I agree that the UK is quite a few steps ahead, plus the whole no guns thing. Good on you!

      I have to disagree with you, dear J, I don’t believe in cancel culture. No big names with lots of money get canceled permanently, even Woody Allen and Mel Gibson still make a shitton of money. I think it’s a term that gets thrown around to try to silence those who already have less agency than others. https://time.com/5735403/cancel-culture-is-not-real/ The people who act like idiots online (Karens getting filmed) who get their racism called out and then get fired? That’s not cancel culture. Those are idiots who deserve it. 🙂

      Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill was SO GOOD at showing me how cancel culture (doesn’t) work, and was a terrifying, fascinating read, as good as fiction but actually real and as tightly paced as a thriller.

      I DO believe, and I think this is what you might have been saying, that we have to “reach across the aisle.” I’m willing to be friends with and/or discuss anything with anyone (as long as they don’t want to remove further rights from me because of who I am. I remember when I learned as an adult that the Equal Rights Amendment never actually passed in the US!!!!) And I think, in the future, we need to be more open to discussing things rationally, without rancor, as long as one party isn’t taking rights from the other.

      Love this discussion, Chris!

  3. I’m very aware that I’m a newcomer in this space. Please believe that my comments are respectful and in hopes of a discussion, not to be aggressive or impolite.

    IMO the UK’s relative advantage in terms of racism also stems from a place of privilege, specifically its colonizing past(any rocks I throw at the UK on this subject equally hit the target of the US as a colonizer, just not specifically on the topic of racism). What else is colonization but the outsourcing of problems to other countries? Most African countries are not poor because they are resource poor or labor poor, but because countries in Europe forcibly extracted resources and labor, once again moving the starting line in the favor of Europeans and to the disadvantage of Africans. (An example of this for the US is the Philippines and its terrible history as a US colony, which many people forget or never learn.) The game is rigged in so many ways. Only when we are aware of how it is rigged can we act to move the starting line so it is the same for all people, for example through advocating for reparations to the descendants of enslaved people in the US or debt cancellation for developing countries.

    I too think we would be much freer without guns.

    1. I agree with you although I don’t believe in judging the actions of people long dead. Moral values change throughout time. Are we responsible for the sins of our fathers and mothers? We are where we are. In the future our generation is going to be hated for ruining the environment. This could mean mass extinctions, including some food sources, leading to mass starvation, it will almost certainly involve many people losing the land they live on due to rising sea levels – already happening in places like the Maldive Islands. Does that make all of us evil?
      We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.
      Debt cancellation is a great idea which I totally agree with.
      Reparation sounds good but I don’t think it is a practical solution because it is very complex. Who pays for it? Because we all know that no matter the system, in the end the poor will pay the most on a relative scale. The cynic in me believes the only people who will gain from reparation are the lawyers.
      What about positive discrimination? I disagree with this because it is still discrimination.
      To me the best solution, albeit not perfect, is to create opportunities for the underprivileged of any label. I believe the solution to many, if not all the World’s problems, can be solved through education. I think as a society we owe free Education and free Healthcare as a right to everyone in the World. At the moment some wealthy countries can’t even provide that for their own people. Imagine what a difference a good standard of education and good free healthcare to all people in a society might make to a lot of the problems that are around.
      Discussion on this page doesn’t often get this deep, normally it’s about things like whether self-editing is OK or whether one should get an editor for one’s books.

  4. I’m a double threat of having a family that is well off and I’m white. I’d be a poster child for the Right but, I know better.
    Pretty much my entire life I have lived with privilege. I know for a fact that I am where I am in life because of my skin tone.
    I didn’t go to private schools, except for a single year. But I still know I benefitted FAR MUCH MORE, than someone with a different skin color.
    And I never look at the title…I will always download the podcast and listen.

  5. This is the 3rd thing I’ve written for this answer. As a middle aged white guy most of what I try to say could very much be taken wrong or cause people to lash out, and that’s not what I want or mean at all.
    Basically, I’m only going to say for me personally that I don’t look down on anyone because of their gender or skin color or many other factors. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons since I was young with males, females, gay, straight, white, black, and others. I couldn’t tell you if the book I read is written by someone that is male or female, black or white. I watch sci-fi – which has always been fairly strong in characters of every gender (and some we don’t have on earth) and color. Star Trek – first interracial kiss on TV and a foundation stone I grew up on. DC Fontana – one of the best Star Trek writers – female and I didn’t know that until I was in my 30’s.
    What I’m saying is I support and agree that we should all be equal in all ways. And the best way I can make that change is to treat everyone the same.
    Let me tell a bit of a story. I have a game group that I’ve played with for years. Every first friday we would get together and play games and I’ve made many good friends in that group. One of the people is a champion Pokemon player and is actually now a worldwide judge for the tournaments. One day we were all joking and he goes to someone “You can just kiss my black ass.” I sat stunned and looked at him with jaw dropped and eyes wide. he laughed and asked if he offended me. “No, but I didn’t realize you were black.” he laughed so hard he couldn’t play. I was honest and completely serious. I had known this man for years and had never realized he was black. Yes, of course when you look at him you see he’s black, but I never thought of him as black – he was just my friend I played games with. Well, except Pokemon ’cause he’d always win. to top it off – I found out our host was Arab, which I hadn’t realized either.

    1. Totally with you, buddy. As someone with a very similar background/age/experience, what we’re talking about is mostly systemic racism, not personal racism (although that is still a problem too).

      It’s taken me a long time to realize that not being racist isn’t enough. I have to acknowledge that any challenges I’ve faced in my life would have been FAR greater had I been born with darker skin.

      1. Stephen Schneider

        Been thinking aout this whole thing since the podcast. And I agree J. Never thought about it as separated personal from systemic, but I can see that. I don’t even know what all to say and what to think. Yes things need to change. I think as more people are aware and don’t settle for rascism personally, the system will change. Should it change now – yes. Will it – unfortunately probably not. After our discussions on our kids generation, they are involved with a lot of change and will continue to push for change, I’m sure. As they take over the world, that’s how it will change. But, and I may not have expressed this sufficently, that is how it will change – personal change and not accepting how things are. I am not saying one thing is worse than another or this was harder or anything like that – but when the soldiers came back from vietnam they were cursed at and spit upon and denied human decency. That’s changed. The gulf war, there was a lot of “don’t respect the government policy but respect the soldier”. I’m just using that as an example of the mind shift that happens because those boys coming back took over. My thinking goes with the “each person makes the change in the way they can” and if everyone does that, the world changes. I don’t think my thinking was clear originally, and I apologize for that. Heck, it might not be clear here either.

        1. Stephen Schneider

          And pondering a bit more, I have been discriminated against at one time. I don’t want to share the story and invite angry replies because it may not be deemed ‘as bad’ or whatever. It is a situation I do not mind discussing with anyone (mature and somewhat logical) in person. I have seen examles of rascism and it becomes astounding. There is no reason or thought or logic behind it, but using even my miniscule situation, I can empathize.
          And still a rough issue I feel I have to hedge everything I say and walk on eggshells with it. I would be glad to discuss with anyone in real time and listen to any thoughts on it. I won’t listen to hate filled vitriol on either side, mostly because it’s almost always illogical and there’s no real discussion.

        2. You have nothing to apologize for. We’re all learning, growing, developing. Or at least that’s what good, moral people strive to do.

          1. Stephen Schneider

            OK, another comment, and it even goes along with what I’ve already said.
            We’re writers, we write stories – fiction or non-fiction, fact or made up. That’s how super power and our ability to change things. I’ve said that sci-fi can approach social issues without causing riots – because it’s made up sci-fi. Go watch Star Trek – S3 E17 Let that be your last battlefield.
            Just recently I watch NCIS New Orleans S6 E17 Biased. Kind of a timely episode and it was filmed and aired before everything went down in our country.
            The stories matter. the stories can change the world. Keep writing your stories.

  6. Color me disappointed. This is the second time this month that Jay and Rachael have attacked – and that’s exactly how it felt – people who have legitimate questions about the wearing of masks. Scientific questions. Moral questions. Long-term societal effect questions. Like how it clearly divides people and creates a premise that all people are a danger to others, just because they exist. Not a great outcome, is it?

    Despite questioning the logic of wearing masks, say in my car while I’m alone, for example – I DO wear one without complaint when I am in public. Is it logical to me? No. I’m not sick. I’m not fearful I’m going to get sick. I refuse to live my life in fear, period. But other people are, and I respect that. I’m not interested in upsetting other people or adding to their fears, so I wear a mask. So does that make me one of the people that Jay and Rachael now hate, or do I get a pass because I wear the mask. (Full disclosure – I live in Illinois and am “required” to by governor edict, which ironically has been deemed unconstitutional by two courts in my state, but that’s neither here nor there. Would I if not required to, not in all situations. I would use my best judgment and err on the side of the benefit of others.)

    Yeah, I’m a little pissed off that I’ve invested years now listening to you guys, loving the show. I look forward to it. It’s appointment listening for me every Wednesday morning. But I don’t appreciate being lectured and talked down to from your echo chambers. PLEASE – dial it back a notch.

    As for the white privilege thing, I have a black friend who got seriously angry with me when I brought it up. I wanted to know if I had ever said or treated him differently because he looks different than me. He told me to knock it off and stop drinking the Kool-Aid. In his opinion, BLM and others tearing up the streets do NOT speak for him or his family, and he doesn’t see the idea of white privilege helping the situation in any way. Just his opinion, which surprised me, to be honest.

    I was raised near East St. Louis and I can vaguely remember as a small child going to a hardware store there with my father (who was horribly, horribly racist). I definitely remember white flight and the concerted effort to prevent black people from moving “up the hill” into the next town over, where I lived and went to school. I was “taught” racism, but I ultimately rejected it on logic and emotional grounds. It made no sense to think what my family thought about people who were not white. (Their racism extended to any person who was different, regardless of reason).

    I’ve hired people of color for positions because they were qualified, then was accused of racism years later when I fired them for violating clear company policies and inciting conflict within our team. No good deed goes unpunished. Thankfully, the HR leader saw through it.

    I have very close friends who are all different than me. Black, Hispanic, White, Asian most are some combination of the above. All different. Guess what? So is everybody else. We’re all different, in so many ways. That’s the real crux of the matter – not our skin color or ethnic origins. It’s the fact that dealing with different is not easy – and it never will be. It takes courage and personal commitment to stand up for what’s right, first by your daily interactions, and at times, by your words. Start with your own families. Refuse to buy into the narrow definitions and pigeon holing of people that we do so naturally. Encourage (give courage to) those around you to change.

    I applaud your courage to take on the subject of systemic racism. It’s disgusting and we all have a part to play to make it better. I believe we will. I believe in the American ideals we were founded on, even if it’s taken more time that it should to make those ideals a reality for all our people.

    The next time your kids ask why do we live here, maybe dig deep into your history knowledge and tell them that despite it’s gross imperfections and clear infractions of the past, we are still the greatest country on the planet. We CAN and DO learn to do better. We DID end slavery. (And yeah, take down the stupid flag and get over yourselves)

    Our greatest hope is that our children can make it all better. Let’s inspire them to go for it!

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jack. It saddens me to think that you’ve been listening to us for years and yet would believe that we “hate” people who won’t wear masks.

      This:

      But I don’t appreciate being lectured and talked down to from your echo chambers. PLEASE – dial it back a notch.

      Doesn’t jive with this:

      It takes courage and personal commitment to stand up for what’s right, first by your daily interactions, and at times, by your words.

      I respect you tremendously and I’m saying this with love in my heart: I’m not going to filter what I say for you or anybody else.

      1. I would never ask you to filter WHAT you say – but I am suggesting you can temper the vitriol with which you deliver it, especially when you KNOW that people are going to be offended by it, in advance.

        In episode 181, the phrase that was said is, “I hate people sometimes” in reference to people who don’t want to wear a mask. I said “hate” because that’s what you guys said. I re-listened to today’s podcast and the word “hate” was not used today (thank you).

        Don’t interpret my comments as disrespect for you and Rachael. Far from it. I just think you guys are better than this, as demonstrated by the totally thoughtful approach you took to an equally volatile subject like “white privilege”.

        To me, judging and criticizing people who see the world through a different lens and life experience does not take courage or personal commitment – any self-important ass can do that. It does, however, take courage and personal commitment to allow for validation and intelligence in people with differing POVs.

        Something I’m thinking about today: how is my refusal to validate another’s POV any different than not validating someone because of the color of their skin? Why is one “acceptable” and the other is not?

        1. Thanks, Jack. No disrespect felt 🙂 Point taken on my vitriol. I was more emotional about it than I should have been given the number of lives at stake when discussing the pandemic’s effects.

          However, we’re just not going to agree on this because I don’t believe every POV deserves to be validated and you do. Do you validate the POV of white supremacists? Why isn’t that “acceptable” according to your logic?

          But I’ll stick to the specific topic at hand. I believe not wearing masks is irresponsible and dangerous for the greater good UNLESS you have a personal health reason that prohibits you from doing so. For the skeptic, worst-case is a temporary minor convenience (nobody is being asked to wear masks forever). For the weak and vulnerable in our communities, the worst-case is death.

          I like to think I’m a reasonable person so I’m certainly open to hearing more on this than I have thus far.

          What is the strongest argument against temporarily wearing masks in order to lower the infection rate and save the lives of the vulnerable? Which scientific study or reputable expert is saying we shouldn’t be wearing masks? How are we BETTER off without masks?

          1. Excellent points. Well said. I appreciate the dialog. Yes, some POVs are a step too extreme to be taken seriously, for sure. They violate basic tenets of human decency. I get what you are saying. I do think, however, that while we are cataloging the many faults of American society these days, we are much too quick to cast heavy dispersions upon anyone who dares look at life through a different lens. We are the poorer for it. This world we live in, where we communicate with others across a sort of “chasm” of physical separation, this chasm too easily affords us the ability to judge from a distance, and to say things we would never presume when in close company. I abhor social media because it’s an oxymoron – it’s is largely anti-social in practice today.

            I appreciate the thoughts shared on the show about racism in general. While I’ve never considered myself “privileged” in any way, I do comprehend the greater difficulties and disadvantages of those of color, compared to what I may have faced. I don’t feel guilty about it. I couldn’t chose my heritage anymore than they could. I am not ashamed nor do I feel shame for being white. That would be counter-productive, I think. But I am striving to be ever more empathetic to the challenges of those around me. In all my getting, I seek understanding above all.

          2. we are much too quick to cast heavy dispersions upon anyone who dares look at life through a different lens. We are the poorer for it. This world we live in, where we communicate with others across a sort of “chasm” of physical separation, this chasm too easily affords us the ability to judge from a distance, and to say things we would never presume when in close company. I abhor social media because it’s an oxymoron – it’s is largely anti-social in practice today.

            Amen to that. Couldn’t agree more.

            Thanks for the civil discourse and proving yet again why we have the most amazing, supportive, and thoughtful listeners of any podcast around.

        2. With the same love J offers, thanks for this, but I’ll never try very hard temper my vitriol or dial it back a notch – these are phrases that are often used to tone-police those who are standing up for their beliefs, and I don’t love it. Discourse, when talking to each other (like we are now), should be respectful if both sides can do it (which you are and J is, and I love it).

          I’ll admit you bring up a GREAT reason why I might want to think about dialing it back – with less vitriol, I might truly get through to someone who’s had questions and not scare them off. I appreciate you pointing that out. I just don’t think I’ll be very good at it. 😉 I want to inspire bravery in the timid who are already with me, not to convert Racist Uncle Timmy at Thanksgiving. But you’ve got me thinking.

          I’m honestly appreciative of all of this! Thanks, Jack, for having this completely interesting discussion with us. We have the best listeners in the world!

        3. OMG JACK! Did you donate to our Patreon before you listened to this week’s show? You won’t hurt our feelings if you take back your commitment, I promise. 🙂 🙂 But I love that you did!

          1. I actually donated after this discussion. I was a patron years ago before I lost my job. I think. If I wasn’t I wanted to be.

    2. I say this with all respect and a hope it might create some reflection.

      “No good deed goes unpunished” Why would hiring a POC who is qualified for a job ever be considered a good dead? To me that is a perfect example of unconscious bias and deeply imbedded systemic racism.

      1. Maggie, I take your point, and it was a poor use of a phrase that I don’t ascribe to in the first place. My point was that I have hired POC and non-POC for positions in several companies – the idea of discriminating on the basis of race doesn’t overtly occur to me. So I was surprised and deeply grieved when one of the people I hired and later had to let go chose to make it about race, when it was clearly not. People sometimes see racism where it is not, and other times they turn a blind eye to racism where it is. Both are dangerous.

        Do I have unconscious bias? Absolutely. For everyone, to some degree or another. Because they’re all different than me, I can’t help but unconsciously measure those differences and make decisions based on how I perceive those differences will affect my relating to someone. To say I don’t have them would be to deny I’m human. I can’t eradicate them all, and I won’t try to.

        BUT…when it’s clear that my biases are based on things that don’t stand up to even a basic moral sniff test, then I have to make changes. I’ve been working on that since I was a little kid, doing my best to resist the “systemic” racism of my adoptive family, resulting in the loss of most of my familial connections. I just couldn’t be like that anymore.

        Do I come up short still? Yep. Do I unconsciously reveal my biases? Yep. Have I done it in this discourse? Probably. Do I have evil intentions in doing so? Nope.

        Different is hard. Different is painful at times. Different can also be wonderful, thrilling, exciting, eye-opening, heart-stopping, pulse-racing, gut-wrenching, gobsmacking, life-changing, mind-shifting, and deeply transformative. I think it’s worth the effort.

        1. Totally agree we all have unconscious bias, that is why it is so insidious, we don’t even realize all the microaggressions we put on people even when we have the best of intent. As I have grown older the importance of impact over intent has grown exponentially. I do a lot of “wow, that was so not my intent but I see that it hurt you and I am really sorry it did.” Guess what I am trying to say is even when we don’t mean to say or write certain things people reading them don’t know our intent and will interpret it as our truth. Which is why my three adult kids have full permission to call me out anytime they think I am saying something they don’t think is right or they don’t think I realize the impact of what I am saying. The caveat, they have to be willing to sit down and explain to me their reasoning. Recently we had a huge convo about ACOB – it made me think A LOT – still not on the train they are, but knowing their value system and lived experience it makes total sense to me why they believe it. Just one example but a recent one. I truly wish you all the best. Your work experience is unfortunate and it really sucks that someone either intentionally or unintentionally misinterpreted your motives. I hope it never happens again, and – I hope it doesn’t affect who you hire in the future (for a lot of close-minded people it would, and you don’t seem closed minded). As you say each individual is different. Thanks for the discourse.

  7. J and Rachael – my love for you both has grown 100-fold. Thank you. The Biblical definition of “doing justice” is sacrificially using the power you have to uplift, stand for, and seek peace for others. Thank you for practicing justice with this podcast today and with the conference line up. You have proven yourselves once again to be leaders in the indie community worth following. It is wonderful to be a part of your tribe.

  8. So I’m commenting this week because I love that you chose to talk about this. 🙂 (I’ve been listening but feeling anti-social and not commenting lately.)

    First – A little push back on notion that other countries are better. I totally agree that there are countries that at this very moment may have more progressive governments, I question the idea that they do not have ongoing problems and racist histories. Canada for example, has a terrible history of how it has treated the native people’s in that country (the sixties scoop lasted into the 80s). There have been reports of antisemitism is rising in Europe.

    But yeah, I completely am guilty of blaming racism on “bad actors” rather than a systemic issue. That the problem was in the past or in other parts of the country. A famous Trump advisor is from my hometown and I met him as a kid. Also, on a extremely selfish level, I dearly love reading books/watching movies about different places in the world and different people. When I think about all the stories excluded because they don’t fit in with a white supremacist worldview, it’s upsetting. (Of course I don’t think that’s the biggest problem but I think it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.)

    Anyway, I don’t want to virtue signal too much here, but I am spending a lot of time these days thinking about who does and doesn’t get to tell their stories to the world. Thanks for talking about this!

    1. Yes to this! Even NZ is super problematic, in terms of racism.

      Lala and I just had a great convo about virtue signaling – I think it’s important to show what we’re doing, so that we help others without doing the white-savior thing. I really appreciate you writing this!

  9. Love you both and loved this episode. I do wonder if maybe the question posed to listeners should have included an option for non-white listeners.

    That said, I think the big change this time around, I hope, is that people are beginning to understand generational poverty, which you touched on in this episode. The book “Evicted” is excellent on this topic, and on the PTSD of long term poverty.

    I’m from New England, and because it is so white up here, I think a lot of people don’t understand the systemic part. They think “I’m not racist,” so I’m okay, and then say something like “well why are they resisting arrest? They shouldn’t do that.”

    And just to emphasize the power of art and fiction to be a powerful force for social change, my first realization regarding systemic racism and generational poverty came when watching The Wire, 20 years ago. Shamefully, I was already 30 y.o. at the time.

    1. Thanks for the book rec, Tomh, and

      OH MY GOD YOU’RE RIGHT. We did that. Thank you for pointing it out! *smacks forehead* – that was us defaulting to white as “normal” color.

      Appreciate this, and you!

    2. Good point, Tom. Something we didn’t even get into was the growing disparity between the poor/middle class and the ultra wealthy–and guess where most minorities live…

  10. Recent eye opening experience for me; As Chair of Agents & Editors for our Emerald City Writers Conference this Oct I was tasked with finding 6 A&E’s for a panel and then pitch sessions (now all moved to Zoom). We are very committed to diversity every year so I wanted to have as diverse of a panel as I could put together. RWA then imploded and BI-POCs felt unsafe at RWA events so I wasn’t surprised by how many ‘No’s’ I got from A &Es of color, what surprised me (and really should not have) was how few Agents and even fewer Editors there were to ask.

    Stories and representation in stories have a huge impact on how we view the world, others and ourselves-and the publishing industry has the ability (I would say responsibility) to make sure that stories (fiction or non) created by the silenced and unheard are told just as much as others. Having a diverse group in places of power and influence (who feel safe to use that power and are not being tokenized) broadens the view and reach of what they invest in, which broadens our choices as consumers, which broadens minds.

    Does it mean as a white author it is going to be more competitive to be traditionally picked up now that publishers are hopping onto the diversity train? Probably … and you know what, tough shit; It should have always been more competitive.

    Love you guys. It’s a free podcast that we as listeners choose to listen to or not- please don’t ever tone yourself down based on who you think is listening. You are not obligated to us, and as a listener I want to choose who I support based on a genuine showing of who they are. You all are nothing if not genuine and always seem willing to learn and grow as you get more experience and information. 💕

    1. Thank you, Maggie. I’m looking forward to more diversity in all parts of the publishing world.

      And thanks for your last comment. I can speak for both of us when I say we’re going to be ourselves on this podcast. Listeners (and I’m one of MANY other podcasts) have three choices: agree, disagree, don’t listen.

  11. Glad you’re feeling better, Rachael. covid… gah – my house is three negative tests down, I made masks for everyone, we wear them and bleach the crap out of everything that comes in the front door. I told my sister to stop reading Murdoch press after she sent a meme about how covid can’t be too bad if it can be defeated by soap and water. I swear she used to be smart…
    I agree that America is in real trouble right now. Kid 1 always quotes ‘greatest country on earth’ every time something truly awful happens. Who ties their health insurance to their job? You get sick, you can’t work, you lose your job AND your health insurance. It makes no sense.
    I’m white, middle class, older – so I even got free Uni – I have lived overseas as an expat for 11 years and been treated as privileged in someone else’s country.
    In Australia there are a lot of people who support BLM but forget about our own racist history. Good lord, we declared the entire continent empty; terra nullius is the legal fiction our invasion is built on. [nobody’s land]
    Latest news is aussie forces were waving a confederate flag in Afghanistan. It’s only meaning to them is the racist one.
    Aboriginal deaths in custody are a huge problem here. We may have a Royal Commission into it, but it does not stop the racial profiling. One recent case, Tanya Day, fell asleep on a train after a few glasses of wine, and ended up dead. If *I* was drunk on a train, I’d make it home safe. That’s my privilege.

    1. Thanks for sharing you perspective. I agree, racism is everywhere. But I’m where Kid 1 is right now. There’s a large segment of Americans who believe nothing is wrong, BLM is a terrorist organization, and that we are and always have been superior. If you look at our history, the “American Dream” has been mostly for a select few. We’re not the City on the Hill our historical propaganda likes to portray.

      1. I had a huge issue w an online friend. I tried to talk her out of voting for Trump back in 2016.
        When she did, I erased her from my life, and I admit that I am genuinely worried about her now. She was my friend, and I can’t imagine that any of this has gone well for her.
        And I don’t know how to deal with that. As a recovering lawyer, there is ‘volenti non fit injuria’ which means voluntary assumption of risk. ie. that you knew what you signed up for, basically, and she did… but I am not sure that most Americans knew that it would go this bad, this fast.

        1. I think its far too complicated to place blame on any one person. However, the last 3 years has exposed the raw underbelly of America’s ugliness in a way I hadn’t seen in my lifetime.

  12. Glad you are feeling better Rachael.
    I was brought up on the grounds of a ‘Mental Hospital’, this was the term used back in the 60’s. And I was aware of people, all kinds of people, from different cultures and backgrounds, sexual orientation, drug and alcohol issues from the start of my life, and to me they were all people, like me.
    Education opened my eyes to the inequalities of the world but I never changed my outlook that we are all human. I have never treated anyone any different because of anything they are, only because of their actions.
    I am very sensitive and do have to protect myself from the woes of the world or I would cry all day long, so I do not watch lots of news but I am aware of the problems in the world. I can only have an effect on those around me.
    Have I benefited from being white? I expect so.
    is it time for people to be more aware of their actions towards others? Oh yes.
    Take care you two, and I hope more people can take positive steps towards acceptance. What you can do about your leadership I don’t know. Good luck and staywell.

    1. I love that you know how to take care of yourself. I find I can “watch” news on Twitter or online newspapers, but can’t watch it on TV (if I had TV with channels, which I don’t), or I too would probably cry all day. <3

  13. As a Canadian I’m ashamed to admit I’m seeing too much of the same things happening in my country, and every passing year only opens my eyes to new things I never had to deal with because I’m a white male with a solid British heritage behind me. At least we appear more willing to admit our mistakes even if we too are struggling with the question of how to make things right for future generations.

    I applaud you for your willingness to speak your hearts on this subject. In a world where too many people are talking past each other it’s refreshing to hear you inviting actual conversation on such a hot button subject.

  14. I come from a very white, heterosexual privileged background. So does my best friend. The thing is we didn’t even know that until five years ago when at the same time my husband transitioned to a woman, she married a black man. Overnight we could see our place of privilege shift as I was now in a same-sex relationship and her in a bi-racial marriage. We experienced for the first time what it was not to be a well off the white straight woman. We felt the shunning of friends and family and everything else that comes with breaking the norm we were raised with. All of a sudden I’m terrified when my partner and I are traveling to parts of the United States that are not welcoming to same-sex couples and we decide not to hold hands in public for fear of being targeted. My partner won’t use the bathroom at Target. My friend shares with me how when she and her new husband went to a popular grocery chain in an affluent white community and stood for twenty minutes at the meat counter waiting to be served while the other white customers were attended to immediately.
    I’m still trying to process my inherited place of privileged coupled with growing up in a very racist and prejudiced household. Naively I am that person TOMH described, I didn’t understand the systemic part. I thought that if I just don’t tolerate the “N” word, I could say I’m not a racist. It wasn’t until my own two sons who were in high school at the time started calling me out on my racist-tinged remarks that I was able to see how so many of my early life behaviors I still carried. Since then I am still humiliated and embarrassed for myself but I am grateful for these moments of grace. I’m learning and every day I inspire to be like my sons. Because of them, I know better…I can do better.

  15. Wherever we stand politically – on anything – I think music seems to bring people together. Yes, I am privileged now to live in a nice quiet, relatively crime-free rural area of England but I grew up in an industrial town, which in the 60s and 70s was multicultural – people from Pakistan and India. In the 70s the best place to be was in the West Indian communities – with their record shops and little reggae venues. And everyone went mad for Motown – and lets not forget Marvin Gayle’s contribution to Northern Soul – “Keep the Faith”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Qq5YYelBH4

  16. I’m a white, rural land-owning, pickup-driving, gun-owner and I very much appreciate you guys taking on this topic. Because I can be all of those things and still believe Black Lives Matter.

    Please don’t leave the country, because we need folks like you here.

    Love you both,
    David

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