ATR 66 – All Listener Feedback – 04/02/2007

This episode is all about you! It’s a special episode made up entirely of listener feedback. Here’s what we cover:

  • Reclaiming the n-word (episode 64)
  • Some thoughts on the word “queer”
  • White people and hip hop (episode 65)
  • Jewish outmarriage and how reactions divide on gender lines
  • Immigration and US foreign policy (episode 28)
  • Barack Obama and his blackness (episode 57)
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    Duration – 52:25
    File Size – 49.2 MB
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    3 thoughts on “ATR 66 – All Listener Feedback – 04/02/2007”

    1. One reason why the adoption of racial slurs by members of the offended race, such as black people using the n-word, is because it endows them with a subtle power: It lets them safely do something that no one else can – say the word with little risk of misinterpretation. Much like in the case of the N-word, I feel equally uncomfortable when a jewish person jokes about jewish people. I know I cant tell the same joke, and they know I cant.

      For this reason, using racial slurs or telling racist jokes is an assertion of power which, in my opinion, only galvanizes both sides in the conflict. Its seductive because it gives power to the powerless, but in the end, it builds walls. Thats why i think using racial slurs by anyone is wrong.

    2. Greetings.

      Thank you for your trailblazing endeavors.

      I left a phone message. I am the caller who wished only to be identified as “me.” But, in hindsight, my thoughts were probably not clearly expressed. My written prose may be clearer.

      The two Oregon callers who voiced a preference for the identifaction of “queer” were quite clear and insightful in their reflections. For a certain generation rearer after the 1980s, queer may not have been heard as a frequent pedestrian derogatory epithet. I liked one of the caller’s reference to this generational split.

      However, the second caller made a claim that I found very disturbing. She or he said, in effect, that the terms gay, lesbian, and transgendered carried “assimilationist” baggage and a white middle class appeal.

      But, the Oregon caller failed to acknowledge that the term queer has its own normalizations, politicizations, and assimilations. This has been written about at length in the literature of “queer theory.”

      The term “queer” is not immune from the biases of the predominately white gay men and lesbians of Queer Nation and a few academic circles who first began using the term in the late 1980s. Nor is it immune from the biases of the reformulated “black queer” circles or other queer reformulations that arose in the 90s and beyond.

      In fact, the term “queer” STILL carries for many an air of academic elitism–the kind of elitism that continually fetishizes expressively convoluted and syntactically obscure theory over actual, specific, and very diverse, overlapping and contradictory life experiences.

      Some “queers” even still feel the need to be “Butlerian”–to quote Judith Butler or to drop theoreticians’ names and poorly excerpted statements like self-identified “fashion queens” who drop the names of designer labels to signify their standing in their world.

      I also found the caller’s invocation of the term “fluid” to be disturbing. While sexuality may SEEM fluid some of the times it is just as likely to seem and be rigid at other times too–including when it comes under the banner of “queer.”

      Some people’s embrace of the term queer reminds me of the fetishization of the term “resistance” that rose in the 1990s (and is still alive in many academic circles).

      Writers, theorists, and activists wanted to analyze an art form, a text’s, or a person’s assumed resistance to “mainstream norms” without acknowledging how necessarily tactical and selective all so called “resistance” may be.

      We make unacknowledged discriminatory maneuvers all the time–oppressed minority communities included. These maneuvers may cut against or even dilute our supposed resistance in other areas. Furthermore, to live day-today requires acquiesing to larger political norms and problems that may seem out of our control. We may acquiesce to underacknowledged norms when we use gas, shop for certain foods, wear certain clothes, and live in certain neighborhoods. All sorts of decisions enable and feed a host of problematic socio-economic living situations. I find the use of the term queer to follow the same sort of willful naivete as the use of the term resistance.

      Me? I have received passive aggressive criticisms from self-identified phenotypical racial minorities and from self-identified G, L, B, T, and/or Q peoples for NOT identifying as anything other than my legal name; for only wishing to be identified ***provisionally*** according to what I do and not for any essential claim of what I “am” or may be.

      Having never felt limits (even as a child) on my sexual attractions by phenotypical racial or gendered identifications I feel quite comfortable with this dynamic, changing, shifting sense of life.

      But this change-based, doing-centered understanding often shuts me out of many people’s term-specific identify politics–including queers. After awhile, even the queers want to be called “queers” and have their own stock allegiances, under-recognized norms, and expectations. For example, not being committed to the theoretical systems valued by many queers in some academic circles makes you very suspect if you are investigating sexuality and performance. Chatty (to a fault) and status-seeking, they do not acknowledge how much they perpetuate a closed system of favored allegiances that mirrors the root impulse of in-group/out-group genuflecting. This root impulse is one of the main things that makes racism, classicism and other bigotries so terrible in the first place.

      People–myself included–have been and still are so addicted to phenotypical identifications and to the terminological claims that they often fail to acknowledge their own normalizing.

      Thank you for listening.


    3. Hi Carmen,

      Though I have written an entire article regarding the “N-Word Ban” for The Coup Magazine’s blog, which can be found here:, here’s an excerpt that I felt was most relevant to whether or not “nigger” should be used:

      “Personally, I wish that the movement for what I call “dash words” would disappear. By euphemizing derogatory words in the English language, we merely soften the blow of their original hateful meaning. I liken the political correction of hate speech by the uses of dashes to the transformation of racism from public to private. What is more dangerous is not so much for someone to tell me they hate me, but instead to think it deep down inside until the hatred is strong enough to lead to discrimination. At least if something is said, I can confront it. I can challenge my oppressor’s thought patterns by proving that I am more than what they may think of me. But if people are so afraid to confront the hatred inside of themselves, that is exactly where it will stay—inside. Discomfort is a part of the healing process. Nothing is easy about confronting racism, so why do we allow racist words to hide behind cute monikers? People should not be made to feel uncomfortable when using a word, particularly if the mentioning of the word is to discredit its very use. Don’t actions speak louder than words?

      With all this focus on “nigger,” we have been taught to more or less ignore social manifestations of the word. The word “nigger” has much less of an actual impact on the community when used than the modern blackface we create and allow to be broadcast on our television screens as so-called representations of “black culture.” It has less of an impact than the replication of that same culture by white college students at blackface parties. It has less of an impact than the debasement of black women, the rejection of black beauty, and the trivialization of our history in schools. It has less of an impact than a high crime rate, child abuse, drug sales, and gang activity. Why haven’t we requested a ban on all of this?”

      And to be frank, I think the focus on “nigger” is a distraction from other problems. It’s a hot button issue that people are conditioned to react to, while people are de-sensitized to other far more racist and demoralizing examples of hatred of blacks. I feel we have allowed political correctness to shield us from the more drastic realities of race-based hate because “nigger” always makes national news.

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