S2 E14: Transformation (Seeing White, Part 14)

August 24, 2017

The concluding episode in our series, Seeing White. An exploration of solutions and responses to America’s deep history of white supremacy by host John Biewen, with Chenjerai Kumanyika, Robin DiAngelo, and William “Sandy” Darity, Jr.

 

Download a transcript of the episode.

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47 comments on “S2 E14: Transformation (Seeing White, Part 14)

  1. Carol M. Aug 25, 2017

    Thank you for this fabulous and documentary course (Episodes 31-44) in deliberate oppression. I have enjoyed the conversations and the stories; looked forward to every new episode like the thirsty for water. I will miss the quench. Illuminating. Inspiring.Genius.

  2. Dale Ettridge Aug 25, 2017

    Thank you!
    I’m a 17 year old white boy from Middlesbrough, a large industrial town in the north east of England. I really can’t thank you enough for this entire series, it’s introduced me to ideas that have really had a huge impact on the lens I see the world through. Although the series deals especially with whiteness in the context of the US, we in the UK also have our on versions of systemic racism and white privilege – something I might never of come to realise without discovering this podcast. Coming to realise my own whiteness, although I’m sure I still have a lot left to learn, and the way it relates to the society and economy has made me realise the duties I have as a white guy to support anti-racist work. Whiteness isn’t an easy thing for white people to see, but I can’t overstate how grateful I am to this series for helping me to see it.

  3. Aron DiBacco Sep 18, 2017

    I’ve been thinking about this material for a long time. This series opened up a connection to truth that had been eluding me. What I wrote about that is here: https://stonesoupnh.com/2017/09/06/the-skin-im-in/

    Thank you for this gift.

  4. Rémi COUSIN Dec 10, 2017

    Just finished the series. Great invaluable work to put all the pieces together from Greek’s Barbarians to now. Except… I wished you had had one before last part on the now. A part describing the current situation would have been really powerful I think to connect all the dots in the continuum of building the institutional whiteness system. Once could argue that the current situation is all over the news (from police brutality to white male billionaires at the top of government) and therefore well known to all. But is it? Since this is an educational program of which strength is to make emerge the chronological construction of systemic racism, having the last picture of the now would have been insightful.

    But I am being picky 😉

  5. I loved the series. It was very informative, and I will probably need to listen again to fully digest it. It is exactly what I think podcasts can be, and I hope that you are able to follow up on the subject more.

    I’d like to add my two cents on the last episode focused primarily on suggestions for action. The suggestions were mostly policy based and focused on actions taken through social organizations dedicated to improving society. Those are great things to do, but I want to make an additional suggestion that could also be powerful. Also, I hate joining groups and politics, so only offering those solutions turns me off.

    As you pointed out in the last episode, people typically do not voluntarily relinquish power, so that seems like a very heavy lift. Maybe I have missed the entire point, but while white supremacy may ultimately revolve around power, it often expresses itself in terms of fairness. White people typically expect and receive a certain level of fairness that is apparently denied to others. In my mind, a major goal should be to make the country as fair for everyone as it currently is for whites. I believe that white people achieve this fairness amongst themselves through understanding and caring for one another as individuals, which leads to relatively fair outcomes. The question is how to extend this dynamic outside of whites?

    I believe that the answer is to first and foremost is to make a significant effort to make real friends across the color line. By friends, I do not mean casual acquaintances, but individuals that you really care about and will fight for when necessary. People typically do not stand by when someone they care about is being treated unfairly, whether on an individual or societal scale, even though they may do so when a group of people who they view as an abstraction are being treated equally unfairly. Also, people are typically much more self-reflective of their racist views when confronted – either actively or passively – by a friend that they care about. I do not have a suggestion of how to systematize this “friending”, but I think that it is a key.

    Again, great work. Keep it up.

  6. Ken Enockson Jan 12, 2018

    I’ve thoroughly “enjoyed” this series. Enjoyed in quotations because, as a white man, I have been brought to a level of understanding of my privileged place in this nation in a way that I only had an inkling before. All the disparate pieces were put together see the larger whole of the history and legacy of whiteness and the extent of white supremacy in my everyday life. It’s been an anguishing, rage-inducing, humbling experience. It’s forcing me to confront my own embedded racism as well as the systemic racism in my community and to resolve to do what I can to bring about change.

    From a production standpoint the series well-done. Simple in many ways but with great clarity. You have managed somehow to make an extremely complicated and and convoluted subject that is largely ‘invisible’ to the majority of American citizens and explain it in layman’s terms that can be digested and understood.

    Many thanks for taking this on.

  7. Louise Lawarre Jan 13, 2018

    A thousand times thank you. I am printing the transcripts as fast you they are posted. We have offered workshops on whiteness over the last couple of years, and are planning another. We will reference Seeing White many times and encourage everyone to listen. I have learned so much with this series. There is no such thing as “preaching to the choir.” Folks who are a little “woke” have just started to relearn what any of us thought we knew.

  8. Tom Hostetler Jan 21, 2018

    So much to think about…so little time.

  9. James Mar 3, 2018

    I would advertise the science more to make sure everyone knows race is not a biological reality. I would challenge whites with having their DNA confirm their imagined white purity.

  10. Kim Webb Giannini Apr 30, 2018

    This series was the most educational, thought-provoking series I have ever heard.
    I am Canadian, but am aware that the general theme also applies here. I look forward to
    future podcasts.
    Thank you.

  11. Patrick O’Brien Jun 25, 2018

    Great series on racism – I as a white male was confronted when a leader to consider a lady who was black and challenge her for big opportunity on a critical roll on out team of 40 – she had in my incorrect opinion been poor performer – but when I offered her this opportunity to think about overnight she came back with a big YES – well she just did a super job and left me thinking I was the person holding her back – big lesson for me. I applaud your work on the series – since retirement and after loosing my job I was privileged to work for 5 years with an inner city school and thru some skills I learned from a black leader in my last job, I helped that school to get $100,000 to build Computer Lab and Science lab for this school which has now jumped from 97 students to 240. It is not right to ignore the race problem in America – the change of heart and true commitment to transform our society has to embrace linkage between history of whiteness, birthplace and family, education, food and drink consumption, opportunity for career advancement, house to live in and the community and most of all the commitment of all forms of governance in a country (national state and local) for civil servants business religious leaders to once and for all fix this problem by redrafting more completely and fully the constitution to support this long overdue right for the disadvantaged.

    • Wow, that’s a great story. I had a similar work experience, misjudging a person at first, as they didn’t look and sound like the good workers I had known. He was excellent – lesson learned.

  12. Luke Bobo Jul 16, 2018

    A huge thank you to John Biewen, and his conversational partner, Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika. I have spoken to predominantly white audiences on race, racism, and our racialized society and I often say, “the white life experience is normative in America.” Your 14-part series provided more substantive backing to that statement. Your series was imaginative and thoughtful; your series made me cry, and laugh. Your series helped me to be a bit more hopeful. I have recommended this series to others via my Facebook page. I will recommend this series to others who will use some curriculum I am designing around the Underground Railroad. Needless to say, I will recommend this series to all that will listen to me! Thanks again, it was superb.

  13. Debra Presser Aug 26, 2018

    I have been a part of a book club on Robin DiAngelo’s work on White Fragility which led us to read more and to discover the Seeing White series. It has been so insightful and helpful. Great job. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  14. Anika Magwood Feb 21, 2020

    Learned so much listening to this series! So much more to learn yet! Planning to re-listen to the series again and again. Thank you for putting these together! Powerful! Heartbreaking!

  15. Carole A Mathison Feb 23, 2020

    I was frustrated that I couldn’t pause the program and come back to it. Many times I wanted to go back and hear it again, have a chance to take notes. I had to re-start the program several times.

    And I regret you don’t give spelling of names.

    Thanks for the broadcast.

    • cdsduke Feb 24, 2020

      Carole,

      There are transcripts available for each episode (either on the individual episode page or for the series) that contain spellings of names (and all the information transcribed in an easily-revisitable/printable format.) Our audio player doesn’t allow for ‘bookmarking’ episodes and coming back to the website later to finish them, but if you listen through a podcast app like Apple Podcasts you should be able to do this.

      Thank you,
      Whitney

  16. Elizabeth Connor May 21, 2020

    Seeing White has made quite an impact on me. I have been recommending it to family and friends and wish it could be a required part of high school and college curriculums. I have been in several different anti-racism training groups and 2 of the episodes were assigned, but I knew I had to hear them all. Thank you so much. I will be listening to the other seasons of Scene On Radio also, and I will make a donation.

  17. Incredible. Incredible that I knew little about what I heard. I appreciated the (relatively)calm, civil explanations. Thank you so much!

    • Elaine King Jun 26, 2020

      Thank you for this podcast. It has been enlightening, to say the least. I would love to hear more about the relationship of faith and racism. The role the church, specifically, religious belief systems, has played in the racial system cannot be ignored. Often injustices were done in the name of the Lord. Through the work of Dr. Anita Phillips, I’m learning about how differing Christian worldviews have shaped America. Looking forward to what’s next!

  18. Alexandra Jun 16, 2020

    I just finished this series, after it was suggested on an FB post by the AFSOC commander. I have one thing to say: THANK YOU. I’ve been sharing it with everyone I know. This is a “must listen” for everyone.

  19. Jessica Carlson Jun 18, 2020

    So much to say on how great this has been- for now I’m absorbing and reflecting & sharing with loved ones. So looking forward to the study guide. How can I be alerted to when it will be available?

  20. Jim Lassoie Jun 21, 2020

    to John Biewen and Chenjerai Kumanyika:
    Certainly spot-on relevant for how Trumpworld has played out over the past 3+ years given the historical backdrop of white supremacy you skillfully and convincingly laid-out. I expect you are experienced a massive resurgence in interest in the series as white people search for paths to support and promote BLM. The series was very helpful in initiating my journey to educate myself beyond just not being a racist to becoming anti-racism. Thank you.

  21. Jennifer Kaplan Jun 22, 2020

    I think it is unbelievably problematic to take an academic idea like systemic racism and ask people to apply it to their psyche on an individual basis. It’s a nice thought but it’s not how we work as humans . we can cognitively and intellectually process ideas like this but no one person can live their life through the optics of an intellectual idea like white privilege or male privilege. In order to be able to live our lives we need to feel agency. Like we have some semblance of control and like The things that happen to us are a result of our free will. This runs counter to the idea of looking at our lives and our very existence through the prism of historical circumstance. When we achieve some thing we need a narrative in which the thing that we achieved somehow purely a product of our actions because that is the only train of thought that will ever motivate us to take more actions. This is really psychology 101….

  22. Sue Mowrer-Adamson Jun 24, 2020

    I’ve given up listening to music in the morning. This fuels my day. The conversations, stories, humor and….words are helpful and inspiring. I teach Art in an elementary school and this will become part of my curriculum. Thank you.

  23. Walayn Sharples Jun 27, 2020

    I just finished Seeing White. Thank you for such an incredible series. Is now June of 2020 and the murder of George Floyd has brought this fully into the face of our country. Since then I have committed to doing something everyday to educate myself. I have realized how horrifically inadequate my US history education was and I confessed to falling into the category of non-racist versus anti-racist. I have read books, watched films, listen to podcasts, and had discussions but this by far has been the most powerful because of its accessibility through live conversations. I have recommended it too many people and will continue to do so. My gratitude for this knows no bounds.

  24. Danielle Beck Jun 28, 2020

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m listening three years later but it is so relevant to 2020. Thank you.

  25. Ted Englander Jul 6, 2020

    Thank you so much for this incredibly powerful, insightful, and important project. I wish it were mandatory for all high school or college students. I appreciated John’s 2 “takeaways” in the last episode and I would add 1 more: that the US was founded on white supremacist values and the idea that it was founded on the idea of “freedom, liberty and justice for all” is a myth. The so-called Declaration of Independence was a declaration of independence for whites only. That would be my 3rd “takeaway.” The challenge to our society for all of our history has NOT been to live up to our ideals (that’s hard enough to do), but rather to acknowledge the truth of our original ideals and to CHANGE the ideals our country was originally founded on (that’s a much more difficult task).
    I am encouraging friends and family to listen to this podcast and “spreading the word” as best I can. Again, my deepest gratitude for your work.
    Thank you.

  26. Rhonda Clark Jul 25, 2020

    Thank you! I’m so grateful to have received all of this ground breaking, eye opening, heart rendering, and transformative information. As you said essentially and I now own, “there’s more to learn yet now I know enough that I cannot and will not turn my back on racism any longer”. Thank you!

    • Really well done series. Dr Kumanyika really added a lot, from both an academic and personal perspective. The depth of the history was especially impressive, I learned a lot of new things.

      A minor critique: there were a few things that were just completely wrong, perhaps due to lack of research. And some difficult realities omitted or glossed over. I think the way forward is to fearlessly confront the reality we live in, both good and bad, analyze in depth the attitudes and beliefs that exist, and use both reason and fundamental principles of respect and fairness to strategize specific solutions. To me, the series lost a bit of the objectivity and fact-based analysis toward the end, relied too much on unquestioned SJW and CRT dogma, and steered clear of some essential, but taboo topics. – deserves a much longer conversation.

      Nevertheless, congratulation on bringing an essential piece of history and analysis forward to today’s audience in a highly compelling format. We need this more than ever!

  27. Jane Archer Aug 4, 2020

    Seeing White was AWESOME – Thank you so much!

  28. Edith costanza Aug 7, 2020

    Loved every part. About to relished.

  29. Edith Costanza Aug 7, 2020

    Please fix…made a typo. I wanted to say I was about to relisten.

  30. Megan R Aug 11, 2020

    I just finished listening to this series. A group of faculty at my law school started a “book group,” now really a discussion group, this summer and this series was the second piece we will be discussing. A colleague recommended it. I think this is an amazing piece of work, not just in terms of race and race discussion, but also as a model of how to dialogue about race, how to understand our American history, and as fantastic journalism. As an individual professor, I have struggled with how to incorporate examples of racism and discussions of race. After the movement that we’ve seen and experienced this summer throughout the country, and even the world, my institution, like many others, has made a commitment to incorporate discussions of race and our racist history throughout the curriculum. Podcasts like this, are contributing so much to how that discussion looks, who has it, and where it leads. I truly appreciate the expertise brought in to the discussion by people like Robin DiAngelo, Ibram Kendi, and so many others. I have already recommended this podcast to different individuals and groups and can’t wait to continue to do so. Thank you so much for this podcast. It has contributed to my knowledge and understanding of an extremely complex topic in ways that cannot be forgotten. I can’t wait to listen to more of your productions.

  31. Vivianne Sep 1, 2020

    Wow, What a series. Highly recommended for anyone that is open to leaning into exploring, understanding, taking responsibility, and interrogating the reality of knowing what you don’t know. Just an incredible series. I learned about this resource through the Be the Bridge Facebook group – also highly recommended.

  32. Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika is so wise. Thank you for including his observations, thoughts, and insights in each episode of this transformational, eye-opening series on race in America. I have been educated. Shameful that I, on the “white” side of the racial construct upon which our country was founded, to have remained so ignorant for so long. One of the institutional changes that needs to be made – the history curriculum used in our nation’s schools needs an over-haul to include this topic.

  33. Gay Hensley Sep 18, 2020

    Just completed listening to the final episode. Such important information learned from this series. A must listen for anyone wanting to become better informed about the history of racism in America. Thanks so much for doing the work!

  34. Sofi Haelan Sep 22, 2020

    Have only learned of your series from my daughter; she’s 41 and I’m 72. It is September 2020. We are living in the time of Covid pandemic and ongoing protests over racial injustice in the USA and elsewhere. I am grateful and sobered by the light you and colleagues have shined on these issues and seeking therapy to help me face my own complicity. Dr. Kumanyika’s point that it needs to go beyond individual beliefs to community involvement is certainly a key for change. Thank you and God help us all.

  35. Race: What Corporate America Can Do

    The statements keep coming filling up my inbox, showing up on the internet, appearing in the major papers like the NYTimes, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Company after company expressing their commitment to stand with Black Americans, their heartfelt sympathy for the victims of violence and oppression, their dedication to diversity and their steadfast stand against racism. The statements have a familiar ring to them. I think we’ve all heard this before. No its different this time they all declare.

    The words are so similar that they may have been written by the same high priced consulting firm. One of those firms that specializes in polishing the corporate image enhancing the “brand”. Or maybe it has become so routine that they just download the form from Legalzoom and fill in the blanks. Very cost effective. It sounds suspiciously like another corporate Kumbaya moment.

    The sentiments may be appreciated but what are corporations going to DO? And not incidentally what have they done up to now that has either contributed to the current state of affairs or served to mitigate it? By the current state of affairs I mean not only the racism but the sexism and the inequality and divisions in this country. If companies are serious I suggest they take the following actions to affect real change.

    Internal
    Change must start at the top. We hear corporate executives talk endlessly about leadership often giving lectures and writing articles and books on the topic. What does leadership look like regarding race and inequality? To demonstrate a true commitment to diversity all white male board members should immediately resign to be replaced by individuals of color, women and LQBTQ and other underrepresented persons.

    Similarly, replace fifty percent of white male executive staff with members of these groups within 90 days. Impossible I hear you say. Corporations must be led by people with impressive skill sets, with experience and most importantly with connections i.e. networks. As the saying goes how is that working? If these current leaders were so good why do we have the highest rate of inequality in history, why is structural racism rampant, why is democracy failing, why do you hide behind your walled estates, your corporate jets, your private cars? Lets give some other people a chance to run things. You might be surprised at how talented they can be.

    Next conduct an analysis of pay equity in your organization for at least the last 10 years. All individuals who were not equally compensated for equal work should be paid the entire amount of the underpayment for up to 10 years plus interest.

    Immediately pay all workers a living wage and don’t cheat. By that I mean don’t “outsource”, use legions of part time workers, so called contract employees and gig workers. A simple way to do this is to index executive compensation to worker pay. I doubt we would need to worry about a minimum wage law if executive pay was capped at 25 times the average workers pay and 30 times the lowest wage workers. I’m confident that wages would quickly rise.

    External
    Do your civil duty like they taught us in school. First stop all political donations – they only create division. Then stop development, promotion and lobbying for laws and regulations that cut your taxes (corporate and personal), allow you to pollute and permit you to escape accountability (financial, environmental and legal).

    Support democracy and begin by giving your employees paid time to go vote – in fact insist on it. Then in your state and community support people voting – removing restrictions, increasing early voting, mail in ballots, more polling places especially in underserved neighborhoods and moving election day to a weekend.

    Go further and demand a fair and honest tax system where the rich pay their share and more and eliminate tax loopholes, subsidies and other preferential treatment for wealthy individuals and for corporations. Actively support a progressive and substantial inheritance tax to allow each generation to start on a more equal footing. Insist on universal health care not tied to a person’s job, paid sick and family leave for all.

    Take all that money you are spending to convince us you care, to lobby politicians and regulatory bodies and DO something that directly helps people – hire, promote, educate, mentor – or just get out of the way. Unless you are doing these things YOU are the problem.

  36. F Scott Forsyth Oct 9, 2020

    I loved Seeing White, S4E14. My family is having monthly Zoom meetings about how to promote anti-racism. I was a little disappointed at not having a greater variety of suggestions from you guys on avenues to try which might achieve our shared quest.

  37. Scott Robbins Nov 1, 2020

    Thank you for all the work you put in to put on this series. I came to Seeing White because it is required listening for the Be the Bridge group which I am a part of. Some of the content I have heard before, but I had many eye opening moments, including the big one where Dr. Kumanyika tells Mr. Biewen that he needs to wrestle with the idea of whether whiteness can be redeemed, if there is a “good” whiteness to “return” to. There is dissonance within me on that as well.

  38. Leslie Gaiter Nov 8, 2020

    Excellent series. I recommend to all who are concerned about the future of our country.