Talking with policy guru Heather McGhee about how racism keeps us from having nice things, why the portals of disinformation need to be shut down, and how America can save itself in the Biden era
One of Anand's best interviews yet. Key insight by Heather McGhee: For the most part, when we talk about white privilege, we're talking about privileges that every human being should have. The privilege not to be afraid of the police. The privilege to be able to rely on a little bit of wealth to fund your dreams and go three or four months without income. The privilege to be able to be treated well by decision makers. The privilege to have your vote reliably count.
There will be no meaningful change in domestic policy, or how we treat each other as citizens, until there is a reckoning with our foreign policy and how we treat other nations. We cannot address racism at home while avoiding how it informs our belligerent, indeed murderous, behavior abroad. We cannot even afford the kind of massive domestic programs we need util we reign in military spending. Why do so many people ignore this?
The request I am about to make is obnoxious, I know, but I can't resist. Ms. McGhee, please reach out to your fellow progressives in high places and ask them to listen to sex trade survivors like Vednita Carter, Marian Hatcher, Ne'cole Daniels, Bridget Perrier, and Mickey Meji. These brave Black and Indigenous women are standing up to male supremacy and the billion dollar sex industry to get the Nordic or Equality Model passed in this country.
Please tell your fellow high ranking progressives to support FOSTA/SESTA and the passage of the Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act.
Please let them know that "sex work is work" is a lie used by pimps to groom little girls into the sex trade. Many "progressive" people with good intentions are enabling horrific crimes.
Please let them know that sexual consent can never be bought; only sexual submission can be bought. "Enthusiastic consent" should not be reserved for middle class college girls.
Please let them know that legalized sex buying increases demand, which increases trafficking (there is never enough willing "supply" to meet demand).
Survivors like myself are a small group with little influence in this male dominated society. Women on the Left who speak out against male sexual entitlement are vilified in the worst possible way. I fear this is why privileged women on the Left have betrayed and abandoned their most vulnerable sisters.
Please reach out to survivor leaders. It might kill your career, but it is the morally right thing to do. Please help us so that we don't have to choose between our humanity and progressive economic policies. Thank You for caring.
I agree with others (such as Bernie Sanders) who propose that FIRST Democrats need to show through action that Government CAN deliver to all who need it - life-improving benefits: minimum wage, minimum income (above poverty line!), better and more education, health and housing - un-ashamed redistribution of wealth! Once that happens - as it did with Social Security - everyone will FEEL safer and more security and physically better. At that point, the bully-pulpit can start to be used to EDUCATE people on the actual history of how so many awful things happened in the country: i.e. to accomodate racists by keeping black people down! Who knew the filibuster was a jim crow 'compromise', as was the Electoral College, 'no public / free access to health care', and much much more... Life WILL be better for all without racism.
Thank You so much, Ms. McGhee! I just pre-ordered your book.
I learned a long time ago that I would have to choose between being Christian and being "white"; I cannot be both. God did not create "white" people. Cruel greedy men and their Handmaids created "white" people to justify the torture and enslavement of their fellow human beings.
Race is an evil invention - as evil as nuclear weapons - and we must vanquish it if we are to become all that God intends us to be, both in this country and around the world.
My prayer going forward is that we put Christ back in Christianity and that "white" Christians in this country follow the commandment to love ALL of their neighbors, NO exceptions.
Hi Anand, I'm super new to The. Ink and I have a genuine question (dilemma perhaps?). Why do you want to "unite". Truly. I'm Connecticut raised and spent entirely too much time in NYC so yup I'm 200% democrat but I live in North Carolina now. I know boo-hiss, y'all voted Republican what's wrong with you?! Not me....but it does lead back to my question. When the left well, Biden talk about uniting um....it does not resonant down here and not because we didn't vote for Biden, but all the talk of uniting is about....well mostly New York and its ideals and/or other countries but never the south, where there are millions of black people "trapped" but not included in the great "united" plan.
Now I get it, I completely get the intellectual fantastic yet self centered bubble NYC is and I wrote off the south as useless NASCAR lovers too, until I moved here and spent the first year surprised people actually had all their teeth. That's actually also my point. Do you care to unite with those who made an effort, voted for Biden and don't put hot sauce on everything? Yes, horrible racism and white supremacy here but um, "y'all elites with them graduate degrees in the North turn off a lot of people in NRA country, BLACK people too."
I will tell you honestly Trump and the disinformation train gathered a lot of steam here because no one else was engaging folks down here. We know the issues, we pay attention but the hand never comes to us to be a part of anything. So....yeah, waiting patiently for some info here.
From Heather's article "The functioning of a rapacious capitalist system requires a bottom to be so low that people are grateful to be a hair's breadth above that bottom." My Father, whom I had never known to be racist, had an "enlightening" moment during the early 60's when the Birch Society got their hooks into him and told him the "truth" that the Civil Rights Movement was a Communist Front Organization. During the Watts Riots ( I grew up in LA area) my Dad had my mom and I take a firearms course held by some odd white guys in his garage/arsenal designed to get all the white women ready for when the black people were going to run down the streets of suburban America, raping, pillaging and destroying "our way of life." Mine was a multi-ethnic barely middle class neighborhood, but blacks were strangely absent from it. They lived on the other side of town. This and many more examples from my childhood underscore for me the ways in which racism, particularly towards black people was promoted through fear. Most white people I knew and grew up with did not see themselves as racist, and were, at least on the surface of their consciousness, horrified by it. But they often reserved a different set of feelings for "those" black people, such as ones rioting, and that scary bunch following Martin Luther King who looked like they were OK, but were really communists, or at least up to no good. My experience has been that the poorer people become, the harder it is to get by economically, the easier it is to single out a group on whom to lay blame. It is insidious, and heartbreaking. And for those who are doing ok, all they need is the threat that they might lose what they have.
I think that part of the difficulty of dealing with the issues of race, politics and economics is that these elements have been bound up in the structural make up of this country since it's colonial beginnings, elements of race and class are written into the institutional forms and cultural fabric.
And this difficulty is compounded by the fact that - to varying degrees - the ways in which it has historically been present has not perceived as such by those who comprise it.
I was particularly struck by this comment by Heather: "First, we have to turn off the spigot. Everything we believe comes from a story we've been told. And the zero-sum racial story is one of the oldest stories in the American playbook, and it is sold for profit by people who are benefiting from this current economic system. We just can't have our most-watched cable news, our most-circulated social media memes, our most-listened-to radio, and our most powerful megaphone in the White House all screaming that right-wing message 24/7 and not expect this kind of brainwashing.
They're very clear about their narrative in a way that the left is absolutely not. So I think we have to turn off the spigot."
I think that what Heather say speaks so well to the point: the dominant story of our history has only recently been countered by narratives which include those such as the conscious exacerbation of racial enmity as a strategic mechanism of economics. (I am thinking here of Isenberg's "White Trash, the 400 Year Untold Story of Class in America.)
Arguably the dominant storyteller of our culture now is Fox News, and increasingly, the internet and social media.
In this mileau, the story has been reduced to emotional triggers which reinforce the existing views of that population. Perception is the key variable in shaping action, (it always has been) and the techniques of shaping perception have become incredibly sophisticated and effective in the information environment, which is effectively the cultural environment at this point in time.
The work of Peter Pomerantsev is very valuable in giving a perspective on the techniques of opinion management, methods first developed in Russian and now at work here.
To make it even more problematic, one has to wonder to what extent the beliefs that seem so obviously wrong to some, are truly believed by others.
Pomerantsev notes the effect of the flooding of information, and conscious disinformation, and its resultant, calculated inculcation of the sense of being overwhelmed, and the power of emotional messages on those who seek an answer to this sense.
I think there is also present in all of this, the whole question of to what extent people are aware of their own perceptual biases, (I would guess for the greater part, very little.)
There is difficulty of the extent to which perception, and bias might be shaped by someone's born nature (e.g. tendencies toward the conservative or progressive, and moreover the degree to which "us versus them" seems to be some extent a hard-wired tendency of human nature).
Again, I think, awareness is the key.
If we can become of our own biases, we can, if we chose, not to accept certain emotions at face value.
This, however, is a very tall order.
The direction this country has been going in is clearly fraught and unsustainable.
A catastrophic political event has been averted, at least for now.
But the underlying issues remain.
From what can be seen, the Biden administration is making steps that will ameliorate some of the concrete, relatively addressable issues, and undoing some of the exacerbating effects of the past administration.
Stability is perhaps tenuous.
But it also is a time of great opportunity, opened up by these same underlying conditions.
The story is key.
Fox: (Breitbart, Newsmax, et. al.) It's generally accepted that it is not okay to yell "fire" in a crowded theater (unless, of course, there is a fire).
It should not be okay to yell things for years that incite people to burn the theater down.
(With respect to Fox, maybe we can look to the Brits for a way. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. It might come down to the matter of how many of the GOP see the great risk of continuing down the road that they have been on, the consequences of fomenting grievance to achieve their policies.)
Anand, I heard your comment on Morning Joe, this Morning. However,we can thank Ronald Reagan for FOX News, The law back in the 1980's, no foreigners could own a television in the United States. How Rupert Murdoch was able to attained Fox Broadcasting Company in 1986 after I believe being denied the purchase of the 6 FOX Television Stations earlier because he was not a U.S. citizen. Ronald Reagan who also believed the conservative right needed a right leaning television station of its own, because the three net works alone with Hollywood was to liberal leaning. Reagan took up the charge of an old Roger Ailes idea of a right leaning network. Although a Roger Ailes idea, it would be Ronald Reagan who led the effort ,who seek Roy Cohn assistant , a meeting President Reagan was trying to setup a year or two prior to his meeting with Cohn, in 1983. The old aide to U.S. Senator Joseph McCcarthy of the 1950's, It was Cohn, who would introduce President Reagan and Rupert Murdoch. Setting the trail for Fox News fast tracking Murdoch U.S. citizenship, the criterion to buy an own a Television Station in the United States, which was forbidden for foreigners to buy during that era. This information is public domain. It takes very little effort to research this information. Murdoch brought Fox Television Stations in late 1986, ten years later Fox News was launched with Roger Ailes in the driver seat.
Brilliant interview! Cannot wait for Heather's book.
What a wonderful conversation. I agree, Heather McGhee is brilliant and an eloquent communicator. I can’t wait to begin her book. Having read Jonathan Metzl’s incredible book, "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland”, I am still amazed that folks are still mad at former President Obama for pointing out how SOME Americans were clinging to their guns and religion. We knew who and what he was talking about then just as we are calling out how much systems which support and promote white supremacy is costing us NOW. Waking up is hard to do, but it is morning in America. Finally.
Some Time ago, at an interview you asked of someone knew or knew how to include medical care in their salaries. Well, that is what happens in Uruguay. Both the company and the worker provide for their health and retirement.
We need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. White newsrooms don't tell the whole story and with no regulation, it's all a series of mistruths.
thinking soveriegn people cannot possibley believe this BS. your being conned. listneing to this may help https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz0oxIZ3xIg&t=2s it explains how the con is done
Quote that sticks out to me.
"HEATHER: We need media reform that has a new standard of fairness and accuracy. I also think that people who want to see a shift have to use this moment in the wake of the Capitol insurrection to get real accountability and consequences for the purveyors of disinformation."
The "win-win" phenomenon when it comes to race and gender probably won't work. Reparations cost money. But so what? "How does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?" We are such a grotesquely materialistic nation that we would rather have an excess of crap than the peace and happiness that comes from living in a community where everyone is cared for, and a country we can take genuine pride in. As Langston Hughes said "America Will Be!"