The Marc Steiner Show

Philosophers’ Roundtable: Race & Class In The United States

protestMarch 12, 2015 – Segment 4

We host a discussion and debate about race and class in the U.S. with Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor in Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies; and A. Adar Ayira, Project Manager of the More in the Middle Campaign for Associated Black Charities and facilitator and analyst at Baltimore Racial Justice Action, a program of Fusion Partnerships.

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Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


Comments

  1. In reference to around 18 minutes in:

    It seems like you aren’t listening to the black man calling in at all. He said that it doesn’t matter your class – if you are a black person in this country, your body is seen as dangerous and as such is the target of fear-based violence. He argues that this phenomenon extends beyond class lines and backs up his claim with examples such as Trayvon Martin, who was killed in his gated community and a Harvard lawyer who was put on the ground and searched by a k9 unit while wearing a full suit when he refused to let police search his car. And you respond by saying — yes all black people experience racism, but for black people of a higher class, like the Obamas, it’s merely an “inconvenience” like being confused for the help.

    That statement shows that you really weren’t listening to that man at all. Was Trayvon Martin’s death an “inconvenience”? It doesn’t matter your class, if you are a black person in this country, you must be extra careful to make sure others, especially police, do not mistake your everyday actions for a threat; make sure they do not label your body a danger.

    It is also as an upsetting statement because as a woman, I’m sure you experience micro aggressions like people mistrusting your capabilities at work, paying you less, or sexualizing you without your permission and if we’re following the same logic you are saying these micro aggressions are merely an “inconvenience”. But I seriously doubt you’d brush the work of feminism off in the same way essentially saying — oh but class issues are so much more serious. All of these issues of oppression are important. Let’s not impose a hierarchy.

    Additionally you are ignoring the fact that black people are disproportionately targeted by legislation and social structures which criminalize the black body. This affects life factors like job opportunities, economic growth, etc., and disguises the issues at hand as a class-issue when the fact is that race and class are insidiously intertwined. Slavery was an economic issue from the very beginning and to ignore the fact how race and class are historically linked is ill-sighted and really rather indolent. I think it’s racist to ignore the historical role of race in class hierarchies and to place issues of class above issues of race outright. But we as a country do this all the time — we prioritize issues that affect white people, above issues that don’t. (If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.)

    I think that your program would be strongly improved if you stepped back and acknowledged that you are a white man with access to a radio show, access to power to affect general discourse on social issues such as race, and as such you have a responsibility to amplify the voices of people of color and specifically black people as you cannot ever truly understand the reality of racism in America in the way they do. So please, invite more POC to speak on your show and when you do, really think about what they are saying and realize that, as a white person, you don’t always have to have a thought to contribute to the discussion. As a final thought, I also think it would be cool if you used your power to advertise programming about race by POC.

    I hope you take these thoughts into consideration as you proceed with your program.

    Thanks.

    Casey

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