ATR 90 – Indiana Jones, mulattoes, and politics

Can passing for white ever be a heroic act? What does the Indiana Jones franchise say about our ideas of primitive savages and white supremacy? Should Hillary Clinton’s loss be interpreted as a loss for gender equality? And perhaps most importantly, will Mat be able to defeat the gargantuan cockroaches of Texas?

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Note from Carmen: This episode was recorded before Obama won the Democratic nomination.

Guest co-host Mat Johnson was born to an Irish American father and an African American mother, and grew up inspired by both literary traditions. He attended graduate school at Columbia University. Johnson has written two novels, including Hunting in Harlem (2004, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in fiction), about the area’s gentrification, and a nonfiction book, The Great Negro Plot. His work addresses contemporary race and social issues with wicked humor. His latest work is the graphic novel Incognegro, and you can find his blog at Niggerati.

Duration – 1:04:42
File Size – 60.7 MB

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3 thoughts on “ATR 90 – Indiana Jones, mulattoes, and politics”

  1. Welcome back!

    You guys were spot on about the US election – which I can’t get enough of, but I’d probably be annoyed by it too if I lived in America. I certainly know my share of 50~60ish white liberal women who irrationally hate Obama and claim they’ll vote McCain. I think they’re idiots, but understandable.

    On passing: as a caucasian in Asia, I have my own strange experiences of it. I’m as white as they come, blonde hair and blue eyes and skin so pale that middle-aged Chinese women paw at me while asking what whitening cream I use. But, because of my Mandarin fluency and fairly Chinese mannerisms, I am often presumed Uigher or half-Chinese, and get heaped with dubious compliments for being “better” than “regular” white people.

    For several years I dyed my hair black, and it was aesthetic rather than to pass but had that effect. That led to loads of encounters that I choose to recall as funny rather than insulting, the most extreme of them when I travelled in Malaysia. Staying at Nanyang (Southeast Asian Chinese)-owned hotels and going to Nanyang restaurants, it was easiest to speak Mandarin and try to decipher their Fujianese. People were SO friendly, fussed over me and gave me discounts and pestered me for news from China, especially the old folk who were first generation emigres.

    Then, after frequenting places for several days running, they would eventually ask me, “Which parent?” “Huh?” “Is your mom or your dad Chinese?” Oh. In some cases, at my answer of neither, that I’m 100% white, their friendliness completely evaporated, and they seemed upset, as if I had deceived them somehow.

    I’ve since gotten “back to my roots” blonde, but I do rather miss the ease of life when I could pass for half-Chinese. And my point here is not to be the whiney whitey, “it’s so hard to be in the minority!”, but rather to observe that the privileges and biases that come from what you “are” or perceived to be go beyond the American and black/white paradigm.

  2. i am mexican -american and i live on the border of texas and mexico in a town that is over 95% latino. i have never had the “minority” experience for two reasons. My town is mostly mexican american and when other ethnicities move here or travel here they conform to the dominant latino border culture (ie spanish language and social norms). although this is not true for all border towns in south texas. Second i look white and i am often perceived as white when i am in cosmopolitan cities. i am very proud of my heritage and do not try to hide it but people are often are shocked or surprised when they find out i am mexican. i can relate to the “racial spy” experience. i do recognize that i share this “white privilege” when shopping, dinning out and available mate selection. ( ie white standard of beauty) i also benefit from being ethnically mexican because I tend to date men of african decent. most sisters are cool with it but a few were/are against it until they find out i am mexican then its all good. don’t know i answered anything…

    p.s i love mat johnson!!! he is hilarious! i went back to find him on previous shows. i am so “addicted” to addicted to race. every last podcast becomes my favorite podcast. thanks carmen!

  3. in my opinion there should be no discrimination between white and blacks. here in uk there are people of differnent races and culture, even my university there are students from all over the world, they are and should be treated equally.

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