SIO55: Debating Evergreen and the Merits of Whitesplaining

This episode is another attempt at debate across the social justice divide. CJ (@VieKeng on Twitter) has taken exception with my characterization of the Evergreen situation, and perhaps most strenuously with my use of the term “whitesplain.” I’m very curious for feedback on this one! Listen to most post-analysis and if you have thoughts, I’d love to heard them in voicemail form!

The debate ends around 59:00.

Links from CJ:

VICE gets students & President on camera

Leave Thomas a voicemail! (916) 750-4746, remember short and to the point!

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25 Replies to “SIO55: Debating Evergreen and the Merits of Whitesplaining”

  1. I really appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge what I have found to be the problem with Weinstein. He’s not a bigot in the classical sense, but he is a tone deaf asshole who is unwilling to make even the slightest good faith effort to listen to PoC.

    Whitesplaining/mansplaining is a fine term. I agree it’s accurate shorthand. I also agree the issue is often really harped on by people who don’t want to give the slightest concession to PoC.

    I wish that CJ would actually listen and not just talk over peoples’ points. But I also appreciate your patience with him.



  2. I don’t understand how but Thomas seems to have misunderstood what Brett was saying in the Email.
    from what I understood it was: If POC decide that POC should stay at home at the Day of Absence, that is okay. If White people decide that white people should stay at home, that is okay, too.
    However, If POC decide that white people should stay away, that is a different thing. ( now you can argue about if he is overreacting or not)
    But it is not whitesplaining if he is sticking up for his own group.


    I think the main problem to have with this point – which I understand why you’re making it (Weinstein’s saying it’s wrong for POC to ask Whites too stay home, rather than for POC to volunteer to leave or stay) – but if you look at that link, which includes a history and schedule of the day of absence/presence at Evergreen, and take a moment to think about the practical logistics of this kind of college program, it’s clear that this kind of characterization, the kind that Tucker Carlson makes at the very beginning of his first interview with Weinstein (White people stay home or else), is beyond simplistic and almost completely false.

    This is a 2-day event, one day in which events are held on and off campus, and a second day with all events held on campus. It’s symbolically a day of absence, but it’s not literally a ‘stay at home’ event (wouldn’t a lot of students be living on campus anyways?) It’s symbolically a day of absence because the seminars and workshops tailored for POCs were traditionally held off-campus. I mean, look at the schedule, with this switched schedule for 2017, all of the white people supposedly being asked/forced to stay home were to bus back to campus at 4:30 in time to watch the movie Moonlight on the “day of absence.” And remember, only 200 people of a 4800 student campus would be able to attend this off-campus event. Does this seem like all white students and faculty were told to stay away from campus on this day? I just don’t buy it.

    There’s certainly more to this story – there are many other events that had contributed to all of this controversy, and perhaps, on a fundamental philosophical level, Weinstein might even be making a point with his objection, but if you consider the context, consider the situation, it does seem like he’s making a lot about a very small thing, I can imagine any number of situations where I’d raise a philosophical objection to something and just come off like a jackass.

  4. I found this entire episode painful to listen to and there was not much achieved from it, for the simple reason that you two spent nearly an hour debating the legitimacy and appropriateness of a word, whitesplaining. A word that probably didn’t exist a decade ago. This between two people who likely disagree on both those aspects of the word.

    Because of this, there was pretty much a guarantee that you two couldn’t even debate matters of substance if you wanted to, as you spent nearly an hour talking past each other and arguing over different understandings of words (he objected to your use of the word ‘decide’ to describe Weinstein choosing a certain action, because Weinstein wasn’t making a *decision* for others with his actions). This level of pedantry can’t produce a good debate because the terms were so minuscule to begin with.

    One critique I will offer to Thomas, I think he’s making a few too many statements of certainty with regards to the situation, and particularly Weinstein’s intentions. I know Weinstein has made his case on a lot of platforms, but I recommend anyone interested in this topic to watch or listen to his discussion with Glenn Loury:

    The Glenn Show can also be downloaded as a podcast, the Weinstein interview is the latest episode.

    In this show Weinstein offers some of his background as an evolutionary biologist and as someone who does have an authority to speak on issues of race (something that Thomas doesn’t acknowledge he has), as well as his particular objections to the actions of this Equity Committee on campus, which are legitimate and have much to do with delegation of faculty/administration authority and the unique pedagogy at Evergreen. He also gives his own defense of appearing on Foxnews, which I don’t completely sympathize with, but he gives it regardless.

    There’s a lot of simple narratives being spun about this thing which is far from simple, Thomas has done a great job pointing out many of the holes missing in the narrative the likes of Tucker Carlson want us to believe, but let’s not let that frustration lead us to believing in a false narrative of our own, if we criticize a caricature of Weinstein, that will hurt our other legitimate criticisms of the way the situation has been portrayed.

  5. I think if you listen through again, you may realize that more often than not, I was the one being interrupted. I do cut in a few times to keep the line from being dragged too far away before I can respond.

  6. Thats right. We touched on this a little bit, but moved on. I think Weinstein knew this and was replying to the symbology, not logistics.
    But it’s ok to be a jackass. Silence and emails are good ways to respond to an annoying email from an arrogant jackass. Not a vitriolic hallway protest.

  7. The whole point of our Skype call was to discuss the dispute we had on twitter about Weinstein’s attitude and the idea ‘whitesplaining’. Semantics was the goal, not a detour.

  8. Great episode, got me thinking a lot. And got me to call in for the first time. Twice! The second one I wrote out and went right to the buzzer :s So here it is in writing:

    Hey Thomas it’s Oscar again. I just wanted to briefly adress CJ’s handling of the term opinion, and his opinions of it. There is a subset of opinions that make factual claims about reality, and so therefore can be false or falsified. I think he was shooting for the term ‘interpretation’ but hey, that’s just my interpretation and definitely could be wrong, so who knows. Maybe, no interpretation is invalid, but may still be misguided? Anyway, on to whitesplaining.

    So I’m white, my parents are both white, and I’ve grown up in a country surrounded by the shadow of an indigenous genocide. Still though, being a millenial and through my selective exposure, for most of my childhood and even adolescence, I basically thought racism was a past issue.
    Despite having an african sister and asian brother, and a multicultural friend group, it took me so long to fully recognise the very extant racism surrounding me.

    My point here is, I think Weinstein believes as I did in my youth, that on the whole, racism is over. This is really only a worldview that a white person can have. Through no fault of their own, or should I say our own, we’ve been raised in a world that doesn’t really notice us. So we can slide our minds into a reality where everyone is just a person. Jeez, race politics are like so last century.
    Which is bullshit and ignorant. And to say someone is whitesplaining – which you should never stop saying to the broflakes – isn’t to invalidate their message, or them. It’s just to say “Hey, try on a new perspective once in a while, you might be surprised with what you see”

    And lastly, it reminds me of the word faggot. Which was often used in humor around and with and by a gay friend of mine in high school. But just watch episode one of Louie and it is spelled out right there. Just because it’s nothing to you doesn’t mean it can’t be a point of sensitivity to others.

  9. You were being interrupted for giving no space for reply, which Thomas didn’t really do to you at all. Still, it was a good discussion, stayed civil and both spoke your sides.

    I was going to tweet you a couple Q’s. maybe here is better?
    1. Can you expand on opinions can’t be wrong? What about the opinion that climate change is a hoax?

    2. Could you explain your issues with Sam Harris’ analogy of Health-Morality. It seemed out of left field to me, but is a topic I find interesting.
    Furthermore, you alluded to a disbelief in free will, and for you to hold only one of the two more radical opinions of Harris is kind of fascinating to me.

  10. Yes, semantics was the goal, I’m saying that having an hour-long argument about semantics ultimately didn’t produce much of substance. It made for terrible listening, and overall achieved very little.

  11. Cee Jay, do you think it’s possible there were other reasons those students held their ‘vitriolic hallway protest’, especially considering that protest occurred on May 23, when his email was sent more than two months earlier, on March 15?

    Do you entertain the possibility that there were other events and circumstances surrounding this that means making this simple one-two equation is misleading? (email sent -> hallway protest in response)

    Do you entertain the possibility that a person who has casually observed these events – perhaps read an article in the NY Times, watched the Fox News interview, or listened to the Joe Rogan podcast might be getting a very narrow and skewed interpretation of events? And if they were, and that were true, do you understand why others might take issue with that?

    I’m not asking you to admit these as true, but do you entertain the possibility that they are and are you willing to hear evidence supporting them?

  12. Thomas, you are hard headed! You went into this debate, dogmatic, knowing you are right and completely unable to shift position. He raised plenty of good points which you stubbornly refused to recognise. Listening to this was one long cringe because you are normally so reasonable.

  13. I do prefer twitter. I will screen shot your questions and post replies on my stream. @VieKeng. This link is where I answered a similar question about opinion.

    As for interruption, it’s never easy. You try to balance the need to conclude a sentence or get to a point, with the other to interject important counterpoints, and vice-versa.
    Plus timing lag is a thing and audio levels can make the final result sound worse than it may have felt in practice.

  14. About the email/hallway, you are certainly correct. That level of anger would not hold out for two months before being expressed, it built up somehow. As I said, we acknowledge in the episode that whatever happened in that timeframe must be important, but we don’t know the details. We don’t know what else Weinstein, or anyone, said or did in that time.
    I have seen footage of a meeting taken right after the Hallway where students are pressing Bridges to begin the firing process against Weinstein and someone else.

    As for myself being a casual observer judged by the audience, again you are correct – without hesitation.
    My reply to anyone taking issue with me is that unless you happen to be a key player in these events, you too are a casual observer. Several links relevant to the episode are in the show notes, I have many more. If you have new evidence for me, I welcome it.

    I have listened to Weinstein on Rubin, Rogan, Carlson, Loury, & Vice.
    And I have 40-50 links in three folders on Evergreen.

    This link is a very insightful series by a recent Evergreen student. He is commenting on quality footage, and for what it’s worth, has a bit of a Crunchy Christian Hippy vibe.

  15. (translation) you disagree with me on this issue. I raised plenty of good points which he stubbornly refused to recognize. Thanks for listening though.

  16. “However, If POC decide that white people should stay away, that is a different thing. ”

    This is a problem with Thomas’s argument; Weinstein is not deciding what is best/better for POC when the decision impacts the entire campus.

  17. Impacts the entire campus that participate in said event. And the idea was just ; for a subset of the event, where the panels and groups are race specific (in content not required for entry), to swap that first few days to show solidarity for the current racial tensions in the world. It’s such a small and token gesture and makes no real difference, beside saying hey POCs you can stay on campus for the whole event, as a NOVELTY.
    Is that picture in contradiction to yours somehow because this seems kind of on a basic level. Not to say an invalid point of contention, just fundamental in one or many interpretations or definitions.

    Hope that made sense. Sometimes I feel like English isn’t my first language.

    Inb4 no reply

  18. The conversation made my teeth hurt. CJ very clearly does not understand that black people have to swallow white condescension on a daily basis. It is exhausting, hard on health, causes depression, etc. This is well documented in research. He has no fucking idea what it is to be treated like a violent moron every single day so the phrase tone deaf doesn’t cover it. His starting out insisting on interpreting someone trying to reassure faculty as a threat is typical of the violent black stereotype. Again, he doesn’t have to live daily with the constant distortion of everything you say as somehow an expression of violence. He just has no fucking idea.

  19. I think that interruption happened on both sides but given your tone, your behavior on twitter, and the tone deaf things you say, I think Thomas showed commendable patience.

  20. Well put Greg.

    Though in episode 57 I was surprised to hear a POC entirely on CJ’s side. To her point I was being maybe a bit reductive in my thinking.

    But even if Weinstein was black, emailing all the students is the abuse of power in question.

    The obscurantism takes too much energy to be unintentionally one-sided. (She said CJ “won” when he had to explain what an opinion is, case in point as to why some people nit pick definitions. It implies an air of authority without adding any substance.)

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