Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 1 | Affirmative Action

Yep – I started a podcast! I had been toying with this idea for awhile (nearly a year, actually), because there are many topics that I think are fun to tackle in a more conversational style; last night I finally buckled down and recorded my first episode. Right now, I’m calling it Reappropriate: The Podcast (but I am taking name suggestions and all other feedback!)

I envision the podcast as an interactive live conversation on various social justice and identity politics issues, relative to current events and pop culture. All episodes are recorded live through Google+ Hangouts; viewers can submit questions beforehand (through Twitter) and/or during recording and have their questions answered on-air. Episodes will later be released in video (through YouTube) and audio (through iTunes).

The inaugural episode of Reappropriate: The Podcast is available right here at the bottom of this post, as well as on YouTube (embedded video above). Our topic for Episode 1 is affirmative action, and specifically perspectives in the Asian American and African American communities. We tackle Proposition 209 (and its effect on on-campus racial diversity in the UC schools), SCA5 and even the brewing political fight in the New York City elite public school system. My guest was Snoopy Jenkins (@SnoopyJenkins)!

Next episode topic: “Thinking Man” Superhero Movies: The Matrix, The Nolanverse, The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and more (again, featuring guest Snoopy Jenkins, who has graciously agreed to be my guinea pig until I iron out the podcast format and other issues). Submit your questions and mark your calendars now!

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  • Rebelwerewolf

    OMG you started a podcast! I will listen to this… eventually. I finally listened to your guest episode on TWiB like last week.

  • LOL – no worries! I welcome your feedback and comments, and please keep in mind that I invite folks to submit user questions before recording to help direct on-air conversation! So, even if you don’t have time to listen right away, you can still participate in the discussion before and after recording!

  • Rebelwerewolf

    I listened to the first 22 minutes in the shower this morning instead of my usual Yo, Is This Racist podcast. Initial impressions: 1. I have a bookshelf that looks like yours. Layer of books, then a layer of 80’s and 90’s toys. 2. I’m really not used to long format podcasts. There’s a lot of good information, and I kept thinking that I’d have to listen again to catch all the points because I get distracted easily (also my shower is loud). 3. I caught the part Byron was referring to, about James’ and his parents’ college education, and it is definitely not grounds for outright dismissing what James has to say about affirmative action. 4. (I don’t know why I’m numbering these) If you will be having blog readers as guests, the format might be very different. In my mind I’m imagining something titled “yell at Jenn and James”. >.< 5. Does the law against quotas only apply to affirmative action based on race? I ask because I went to a school that was very vocal about gender balancing the student population.

    I just got to the part after you introduced SCA5, so I'll have more comments later.

  • Rebelwerewolf

    Damn, I really wall of texted it up. 🙁

  • @Ike – thank you so much for listening!!

    . I have a bookshelf that looks like yours. Layer of books, then a layer of 80?s and 90?s toys.

    LOL! You should see James’ shelf.

    2. I’m really not used to long format podcasts. There’s a lot of good information, and I kept thinking that I’d have to listen again to catch all the points because I get distracted easily (also my shower is loud).

    No worries – I’m still playing with format, trying to figure out how to structure this thing, and how to make it so it’s not just like info vomits. Also how to keep the conversation organic and directed; I like the final product here but also can see room for improvement. Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated and is being considered.

    3. I caught the part Byron was referring to, about James’ and his parents’ college education, and it is definitely not grounds for outright dismissing what James has to say about affirmative action

    I have no interest in putting James’ family life on blast, but sufficed to say, Byron’s assertion that having two parents who went to college precludes their offspring from having any idea what poverty is like is bullshit. I have two parents who went to college, yet I am only one generation removed from abject poverty; to say that I don’t know what poverty is like because my parents were fortunate enough to have access to opportunities to build a base wealth for my immediate family assumes that I both am not aware of my privilege and also, somehow, have never spoken to, visited with, or lived in the places where my extended family continue to live or have no awareness of my own family history.

    Besides the fact that a person’s background should be an irrelevant and fallacious form of rhetorical attack in a debate like this one — we don’t expect that, for example, the only people who get to weigh in on gun control must be people who have been shot or have had a family member die of gun violence — the notion that one can boil a person’s entire personal history down into one or two facts is, I think, at the heart of the debate about holistic review and affirmative action. We have this weird culture of thinking that asserts that one or two things — race, gender, income level, SAT score — is all you need to judge a person, and that knowing how a person stacks in these metrics allows you to make quick generalizations about who a person is, and the degree to which you listen to what they have to say. I think that this instinct — which is pervasive throughout today’s political climate — is anti-intellectual. I think even those who characterize the pro-affirmative action stance from an anti-affirmative action position approach the debate that way: they argue that we think that racial (or economic) minority status is a significant factor based on how we want to judge candidates. They argue that a candidate who is a URM will be let in by that fact predominantly or alone, and they also make the damning presumption that this means that the URM candidate must ALSO be less qualified.

    No. The reason why I hammer holistic review — with collection of race as one of hundreds of pieces of data — is that I believe that there is no simple metric for judging a candidate, and that admissions officers need holistic review to contextualize any one piece of information. Knowing a candidate’s race can tell you about a candidate’s background, but it doesn’t tell you everything about a candidate (which is why I don’t support race as a determinative factor in admissions); but, the same is true about GPA or SAT score. Individually, all of these pieces of data are largely meaningless in trying to judge and rank candidates — the difference between someone who got a 1600 on the SATs vs a 1580 may be nothing more than whether or not each candidate had their morning coffee when they took the test. Collectively, however, when you have lots of data about a person, you create a multi-faceted picture of a person, that reflects the complexity of who people are.

    The notion that we can pass judgement on people based on limited information is extremely presumptive. The entire reason why I support race-conscious affirmative action is because we know that when it comes to drawing conclusions about complex things like who a person is and how meritorious they are for a position, more information is always better than less. And that’s not to mention the fact that I think that universities have a compelling interest to prioritize campus diversity.

    If you will be having blog readers as guests, the format might be very different. In my mind I’m imagining something titled “yell at Jenn and James”. >.<

    Yikes…. Truthfully, I don’t plan to invite random blog readers as guests, because I want to make sure there is a focus on academic, rational and respectful conversation, which requires some level of screening first.

    5. Does the law against quotas only apply to affirmative action based on race? I ask because I went to a school that was very vocal about gender balancing the student population.

    Well, Bakke specifically deals with racial quotas, but I think it is interpreted to set a precedent for the unconstitutionality of any sort of “characteristic/background”-based quota system, so in practice, it would affect quotas beyond just race. So to address the issue at your school, gender-conscious affirmative action (which is practiced widely) could not be addressed through saying your school must be 50% female and to limit your consideration of candidates based on gender, but they could consider the gender of a candidate on a case-by-case basis (so, to contextualize a candidate’s application package with gender information). This is how gender is widely considered in admissions and hiring processes throughout the country, and few people take much issue with it.

    I just got to the part after you introduced SCA5, so I’ll have more comments later.

    Looking forward to it!

  • Rebelwerewolf

    Just passed the 40 min mark, and I’m hearing a lot of things that I agree with, such as James’ characterization of racial tribalism and Jenn pointing out that some Asian Americans are underrepresented in higher ed. I also don’t agree with the term “race traitor” (even when applied to someone who disagrees with me) because it builds upon the erroneous and harmful belief that everyone of the same race ought to think and feel the same way.

    I’m going to bed, so hopefully I can finish listening tomorrow.

  • Karine

    Hi Jenn,

    Thanks for doing the podcast. :). It’s worth noting that in a survey conducted in 2012, over 76% of Asian Americans and 65% of Pacific Islanders support Affirmative Action, and when the term ‘affirmative action’ wasn’t used to describe the proposed ideas and systems of it, support increased to 81% (AsAm) and 79% (PI) respectively.

    sauce: http://naasurvey.com/reports/affirmative-action.html

    Also, in terms of college admissions process, wouldn’t it be better to replace this competitive entry system and grant accessible (or affordable) education to people of all backgrounds, with extra support for those most marginalized? It sounds really difficult to do in an American context since higher education is so privatized, but other countries have taken the steps to try to make higher education accessible to everyone in their country (or at least, more accessible than the USA). Education is a human right that all of us deserve to have. A person might be the greatest chemist or poet in their school, but no scientist or writer alone got to where they are by themselves, nor ever made works exclusively by themselves. A team of scientists or a team of writers can do more together than one person alone—even if they’re an expert–, so we shouldn’t discriminate applicants based upon abilities, too, you know?

    I’m rambling on a bit at this point, but education should be less competitive-centered with all its grades, activities, and prestige and more focused on supporting and learning and developing people in our community together, embracing our different strengths and helping our different weaknesses/struggles.

  • Karine, thank you for your comment. I want to frame it and put it on my wall.

    wouldn’t it be better to replace this competitive entry system and grant accessible (or affordable) education to people of all backgrounds, with extra support for those most marginalized

    Frankly, in my ideal world, that’s how it would work, too. Unfortunately, I also agree with you that this is probably unlikely to happen in America’s culture of education as a segregated entitlement that should be exclusionary to some people.

  • Junwei

    Your belief system is the problem, because you think that US capitalism should built on meritocracy and equality of opportunity. In realitiy US capitalism is built on whiteness, military adventurism and the Petrodollar. The existence of the umbrella identity white is the best answer for th anomaly why there is no big communist or socialdemocratic party in the US working class history. The power elite managed to coopt adversary groups such like Irish, German, Swedish, Italian and various Eastern European into white priviledge and prevent the emergence of a left party.

    The USA has an in-built advantage with the Petrodollar deal with Saudi-Arabia who invest the Petrodollar in US treasuries and get military protection in exchange. The system enables the USD to play the role of world reserve currency. All major allies in Europe and Pacific Asia needs USD to buy oil. The US military cannot operate with such an big budget without the Petrodollar.

    But now with the rise of Red China as the second largest trading dollar. Several states combine their capital within the BRICS Bank to challenge the hegemony of the Petrodollar. European allies, Japan and some Gulf states bargained currency swaps with BRICS states to sink the Petrodollar.

    The USA answered with military adventurism in the Persian Gulf, the Pivot to Asia and the attack on Ukraine to separate their European and Pacific Asian allies from Russia and the energy producing countries in the Persian Gulf.

    The economic part of the “Divide and Conqueror” approach to Eurasia is the launch of two free trade zones the TAFTA and the TPP.

    You must think within this framework about Chinese America who are actually only a part of the 50 Mio. strong Chinese diasporas. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are border states and allied with the USA against Red China in the Pacific Asian shores whereas the Canadian Chinese, Chinese American, Peruvian Chinese, Australian Chinese, New Zealand Chinese live along the Western Pacific shore.

    The Overseas Chinese in the ASEAN countries are the single largest foreign capital providers for Red China. It is the US intentions and their anti-communists Chinese allies to direct the foreign capital investment towards the TPP free trade zone and prevent the overtake of the USA as the world largest economy.

    Trade and investment needs the redistribution of skills, capital and technology among the TPP states. The ethnic Chinese shares of inventions from US patent data is very high and there are governmental venture capitalist firms in Taiwan who target Chinese American inventors and entrepreneurs. You need an amount of international lawyers, accountants, tax advisers, management consultants and financial specialists to accomplish the division of labour among the TPP states. If you want to separate the Overseas Chinese capital from Red China, you need of course professionals with Chinese backgrounds and cultural ties to support the US government, US companies and US dominated supranational institutions like the World Bank, IMF, UNCTAD and WTO.

    Not every kind of diversity is suitable to win the trade wars against the BRICS and their allies. Beside the Chinese diasporas capital, skills and contacts you need additionally the help of Mexican American and Vietnamese American.

    Vietnam has a large army and you can attack Red China from Vietnam. Additionaly you can redirect manufacturing plants from China to Vietnam. Mexico is a border state and suitable for reloation of manufacturing plants from China to get the US assets out of reach of Red Chinas arms.

    If you think of the logic of strategy Chinese America obviously has nothing against the Mexican Americans or Vietnamese American if they help them against Red China. They even like Cuban American who oppose socialist Cuba. Your thoughts about a political struggle between Chinese Americans and all Latinos are flawed.

    It is not even true that Chinese American want to keep out the Pacific Islanders. The left wing Asian American who are socialized in the civil rights era with Marxism and black civil rights movement practiced ostracism against Pacific Islanders. Anti-communist Overseas Chinese support of course all Pacific Islanders who’s countries of origin host the US navy and help to hold Red China navy at bay.

    The case of Indian Americans is similar to Chinese American, they belong to a global swing state and the USA at the same time and their shares of transnational entrepreneurs and inventors are very high.

    Both Chinese and Indian have very large share of international students and it is sensible to put Chinese American and Indian American with these international students together and exchange political ideas and let them develop professional ties.

    The case of Japanese American is quite different, because this is a group who suffers from internment during the Second World War and develop an anti-imperialist attitude. Japanese students are known to stay in Japan for higher education, because Japan’s universities are of world class. Similar neutrality or ignorance existis among the Korean Americans.

    There are several important states among the ASEAN who are potentially potent adversaries to Red China: Philippines and Indonesia with large stock of Chinese dominant market minorities.

    The KPCh has roughly 70 Mio. members. Its main opponents are in Red China: the 52 Mio. Chinese christians, the peasants, the working class, the middle class, Hong Kong Chinese, the Uigurs.

    What do you think which kind of diversity does the US-led liberal order needs to mirror the various inner opponents of Red China within the Chinese American communities to engage the inner enemies of Red China ? This is the political question for Affirmative Action – and not the demands of Black Americans who are of no value for the upholding of liberal order.

    Why are the Canadians offer so much immigration opportunities for rich Chinese immigrants to redirect capital and professionals. Don’t you think that is concerted with US foreign policy. And why are there so many Chinese persons among the House of Lords in the UK ?

    And if you look further to Australia and New Zealand who are destination of Chinese international students, the Anglo Five are clearly cooperate together to concert a brain drain to slowdown Red Chinas rise.

    And if you look closer in Eastern Europe you will find specialized economic zones with big Taiwanese companies to provide access to th EU market and limit labour rights in favor of the border state Taiwan to help them survive. Without these measures Red China can easily crush Taiwan with the denial of access to its market and labour force.

    Your interpretation of what the domestic and foreign American interest is right prevents you from seeing the contrafactual facts that it does not make any sense for the US economy to design a benificiary Affirmative Action policy for black American.

    It is completely useless if you want to make the TAFTA and the TPP free trade zones work for US hegemony. It has value in the past to appease the black civil right movement and put a puffer class of affluent blacks between the black poors and the white establishment.

    The KPCh elites have sent their childs to the Ivy League to socialize with the American elites and so did the Taiwanese, Singaporean and Indian elites. Obviously they want to exchange information and signal cooperative attitudes to each other to prevent irrational behaviour.

    On the ground of justice you cannot convince the Indian American, Chinese american, Filipino American,…, Mexcian American, Cuban American and Pacific Islanders to help Black American who have citizenship priviledge and access to welfare entitlement whereas many kinship folks among the transnational border minorities of the US free trade empire have none.

    The election of Obama with the black voting bloc has clearly expands the ties of the Pacific Asian nations with the first Asian American president and Obamas role is to perpetuate the audience with the myth of a postracial society. The black voters fall for the line of liberal free trade imperialism.

    The GOP choose the Affirmative Action issue to divide the Obama coalition, but the switching of majority only change the rhetoric. It does not change the long term partnership based on anti-communism and the common enemy Red China between Pacific Asian diasporas and the US politicians.

    The only sensibel options for the US establishment to give black American more slots are if they help them to appease the black poor. Nowadays the political landscape change a lot since the black civil right movement. There is no Soviet Union and Mao China anymore who can fund black activism, the Jewish-black coalition is broken, the Asian-Black coalition will break down and it is very likely that the Chicano-Black coalition will never become reality because blacks are nativists and Chicanos are naturally in favor of immigration and open borders.

    I also doubt that the real target of Affirmative Action are actually the slots of Asian American. There are a muchlarger groupof white women as beneficiaries of Affirmative Action.

    The Petrodollar slow death diminish the ability of the US goverment to get credit to pay its bills. The government shutdown already shows the commitment of the GOP to hurt women, blacks and Hispanics who needs public services.

    I guess that the GOP want to redistribute opportunities and public services across the gender line and abolish the gains of the women movement.

    The race card is only useful to mobilize the various political fractions on the right wing and divide the liberal wing of white society over race, class and meritocracy rhetorics. Doesn’t the GOP have the intentions to prevent the Democrats to open the border for Mexcans and prevent the naturalization with nativism from black and white ?

    Black and Asians are only a pawn in a political game. And you help them to get the game going and the end result will not make you happy.