tv After Words CSPAN November 9, 2014 9:00pm-10:01pm EST
>> guest: it is meant to capture the cultural shifts that have occurred and i'm interested in looking at the way that they changed the way that we see each other and how we can live together. so it is looking into the metaphor of seeing how we see the race and using that as a way to ask the question how far we've made progress. >> when i hear this word that suggests there is a moment that color was not as essential and now it is that but you said it's a little bit more nuanced. even in the book you talk about the race and color that have always mattered so what does it mean for the nation to become colorized? >> guest: what we saw in the civil rights movement is in some ways the reality of the race that was seen largely black-and-white but you had one way of being american and that you could build empathy and so this is the way that he arises
perhaps folks begin to understand the struggle was through the music and you and i both come from this kind of a background of hip-hop and soul that after the civil rights act passes and the immigration and nationality act that visuality becomes a much more important way of understanding the race and so what we see now in the u.s. is the cultural desegregation. but isn't a blind spot is the rising rate of the segregation and the gaps in the wealth and income and the housing homeownership and educational attainment. so it is a sort of paradox of the racial cultural and equity increasing at the same time.
>> isn't a shift talk to me about that. >> guest: the race begins in the book between the perception of the difference. like it is not biological. we would agree it is a construct that we think about the systems of inequality of freedom and slavery and containment and freedom and so on and so forth so that when we see the kind of problems that we have come to so dearly love talk about all the way from the turn-of-the-century and up until now and of course he talked about the invisibility now we have the questions that complicate things a lot so these
are the kind of thing is things we are talking about now. >> host: it's this idea of hyper visibility that become almost ubiquitous in how the world imagines race and imagines difference and how to restore the balance between wanting disability. it becomes more problematic. >> guest: that is a question that artists struggle with every day. it's something we talk about the students with all the time.
at this particular moment it's trying to figure out how to negotiate between the need to be able to represent yourself. the difficulty of dealing with the images that kind of precedent you it's the burden of representation and it's no different than what we had before but now the burden is changed and it's much more difficult to negotiate in a lot of different cases >> host: when i first read it i was trying to figure out what your logic was. you did and divided by the presidential administration which i expected.
they knew there would be a distinction between the moment but you have a 63-79 kind of thing so it's overlapping and it transcends. but what is the sort of underlining framework or the underlining movement or impetus for how you understand different moments in the colorization? >> guest: i wanted to proceed as a cultural history spoken about through the eyes of the artist to make change and so it's interesting that you said that you expected it to proceed the presidential administration that is the way that he would've the history is our being raised and this was meant to be a different kind of thing and so i wanted to talk about the moments of the civil rights era to the beginning of the 80s as a period that the artists were
struggling with underrepresentation abilities and so the artists like maureen turner comes out with the first comic strip that multicultural and a cast of peanuts style kids but they are multiracial and china imagined what the post-segregated america could look like. so after the civil rights revolution begins to dismantle the walls that have mandated the segregation you still have to imagine what that the post-segregated future is going to look like so the spiral collective new york city that becomes the core group that launches protests in new york city in the 60s and the 70s to get into the halls of the institutions of the visibility. then we move into the 80s which becomes an era of the rise
of the multiculturalism as an avant-garde independent backlash that we see coming from conservatives both i would say cultural conservatives both liberal cultural conservatives as well as conservative cultural conservatives. folks who are democrats and republicans in other words who are against the notion that there could be more than one way of understanding how to become an american and so how to radical they thought that america had always made up the multicultural and people could have all these different ways of living and being handed that in exchange is what made america a vital and this vital and this is a threatening idea so this is where the cult sure again to ignore and in the mid-90s to now this era in which the multiculturalism becomes sort of a feature complete it becomes
sort of something where the institutions, the corporate institutions, government institutions begin to say we are all multiculturalists now. >> host: you say that it's become a platitude. >> guest: i'd wondered about that. one could read that as cynical. how do you make sense of that? the multiculturalism looks different but it's still a dominant logic and sincere attempt. obviously corporations have their own interest but the multiculturalism is alive and well and vibrant in the goal to democratize and colorized. this is a movement that was meant to be able to foster the cultural inequity that the idea,
the basic idea this would create empathy and out of empathy would come a new consensus for the racial justice and a society in which people could be free to be who they be. so i don't think we've necessarily gotten to that point yet. >> host: is it because -- >> host: so some argue that it would be the cultural war but that isn't even the debate right now that we understand it is america. the debate now is a little different and some people say because they won the cultural war and people not becoming activists anymore we are sitting back and others that are more concerted and economic and political piece of machinery that are making the multiculturalism more empty.
>> guest: on the one hand multiculturalism resets the boundaries of the civility which i think it's a love of is a lot of the stuff that we were arguing as students and we were the first group in the 80s and the '90s coming out of the campuses that were part of an some instances a majority minority entering in the class. i was part of the first class but was the majority minority which to knows what the majority and minority means if we can come back to that. but if that's time, we were like i don't want to be on campus having to deal with all of these racial micro- aggressions is what they call it now. that's basically the racial incidents make us feel like you don't belong in the classroom. the reactionaries have to be in the multicultural terms.
pat buchanan has an amazing piece in his book about will america survive 20-25 and he talks about how everybody can enjoy ethnic foods. we all like to go out and half-time food and that's kind of thing. let's keep it at that. that's really interesting. so multiculturalism has such the boundaries for the civility that we are still at the point that we cannot have these conversations about the n. equities and the inequalities that persist and that are actually rising. this is a huge blind spot and so the book was trying to get at-bats. on the one hand you have the folks are king in the culture to promote these new visions of what the u.s. can look like. but to look at that particular point we have to look at the zany qualities. these any qualities.
there was a poll that came out after ferguson. they were interviewing black-and-white and the first question was do these events raise issues that ought to be discussed and the second question was do these events draw too much focus and attention to the issue of race and there is a big split so overwhelmingly this is something we ought to be talking about and there is a plurality maybe not a majority but there is a feeling of we are paying too much attention to the race right now so one invitation to have a conversation is another set of the queue to leave their own. so we have these gaps not just income and housing and education but also in the way that was about race and if we can't get
to those questions than we are looking at a 2042 when we are all minorities that could be much, much worse than we are seeing right now. >> host: what is there that you don't think that we could talk about and to what extent is it and we resolve this in the 80s. there is the multicultural day afterschool where we eat asian food and indian food in all of these big terms we've done it. so what is in each of those things? >> guest: i think it is both happening at the same time. there is a set of interesting studies in 2007 at vanderbilt university at this massive survey. they talk about the race whereas periods of the kids of color so
this could be mixed race marriages as ball and mixed race kids as well. to to five times as many conversations about race as white parents. and then in 2014 there was a binder on mtv. how should we be thinking about the race and it was interesting the millennial's were the millennialism are the ones that were surveyed and said both the colorblindness is the way. it's contradictory, both sides of the culture. you have one on the right on the notion to roll back the policies. then on the other side you have this multiculturalism that's being put out by folks that seem
to be radical at the moment saying we should be respecting the difference but do not in the questions both questions that really was probable to me was how do you feel about having a conversation with people about the racial bias and we are not talking about racial inequality or discrimination we are talking about the racial bias. and only one in five felt comfortable having that conversation so we are confused. we are confused. and this gets sort of brought back in every generation to this sort of notion of colorblindness that gets brought back in every generation and it has these very disturbing kind of effects. and i think that many parents are very good well they say look at what is happening in the past when we talk about race. the kids will grow up in this society in which we will move on
and i think that is willful and it's also may be good well. but i feel like maybe our history doesn't allow that in a sense. our grandparents were probably racist. my kids don't even like to think about it. we just keep dying off and having new kids. it is sort of the narrative and that is how they imagine it. i think that every generation has been called the most diverse generation. right so it is the last generation dies and the next one comes into place and everything will magically be solved and its magical thinking. it is magical thinking. if we just ignore inequality as inequality it will go away and if that isn't how anything works. so here we are 50 years after, more than 50 years after brown v. board come after the civil
rights revolution even as the u.s. is diversifying at an astonishing rate moving towards 42. let's unpack that because it's interesting i just want to disentangle this a little bit because i'm the one hand there is the racial bias and the issue of the individuals build will towards people and prejudice. maybe even broader collective notions of who people are and what they are. and on the other hand lack of access to housing and health. living wages etc.. i'm not sure that it is intuitive to understand the link between culture and structural stuff.
that's how folks like you and me and a lot of the college try to relate the two together. you have to have the imagination particularly now during this period in which politics is hamstrung and stalemate to be able to imagine the changes to be able to move to the place we can build very healthy movement for change. so, both getting back to the question that you're talking about here, i think it's important for us to be able to foster that points towards racial justice. we ought to allow them to be able to do that and then we ought to be bringing those
images into the culture that we were all working with. all this stuff that's happening all throughout the country throughout these sort of interventions that people are making they all add up to something and that might sound crazy optimistic and hopeful but it's interesting to look at the 2008 election and of the explanation that has is to happen we have this obama poster that gets out of there and suddenly has an explosion of images of people wanting change and so a lot of stuff is now spilling outside of the democratic agenda and on the platform its images of the
liberation front like being reborn, it is images of environmental justice and images of the immigrants rights and images of all these different types of things that democrats have different positions that they are not taking much less the republicans that this but at this particular point what we saw was attached to the similar change obama not as a politician but as a symbol of change all these other folks are putting up their symbols of change as well and that is a moment at which all of this imagination is coming forth and that allowed i think in and out of respect this wave to build that resulted in barack obama's election. i'm not saying they are going to be the be-all and the end-all. but we can see what happened in 2009 that the cultural war flares up again and the symbol of obama is a similar change and
becomes twisted. the initial image into the idea of attaching all this stuff to it, to the life of its own. >> guest: he's trying to learn photoshop so he takes the cover from the "time" magazine and does them up and posts it on his account. a couple of months later we found that the socialism has been put at the top of the poster and all over los angeles which is where the obama poster made its debut as well and then there's obama as the foreigner and so on and so forth that
obama now is a symbol of all of the fears. that is the image war but we also see the conservative movement is very smart about targeting people within the obama administration right away that have an understanding about hip-hop and hip-hop on young people and about culture and the world of culture and being able to move around different kind of ideas and policies. you will see that they are drummed out of the administration and immediately we see this incident with obama making comments about being profiled in his own doorstep and he is hammered for that and so -- >> host: being the kind of tv
gear and the kind of targeted new world of the 80s or '90s i should say. they are being prosecuted in different ways. in the 60s and the 50s it was a claim of neutrality. the culture. there are different choices we can make. it's almost conceded that it's something that should be contested in a just began a very fervent fight for the particular values. they didn't think that it was very neutral but they had in the 60s. george well said we needed the euro centric stuff or we need to push back against this.
yet all this stuff happened and whether the earnest claim that the values are better and it is under the very different means. you know what that means. if their political room for the kind of honesty that they would write a column and a say you're pay is better. that kind of honesty at least we could contest it and write back to these people. now it seems because of the bound is that you talk about that it's hard to even have the conversations because they are attacking anything racial or ethnic. >> host: but i think that there's still. isn't it george well that made the comment a while ago about
the assault and so there are different kind of things that are happening and they can still kind of catch the fire and move on? the concentration camp deny your -- >> guest: the center of the conversation was around this stuff. >> host: but at the same time, the debate is still there. omar is talking about islam. so these are the cultural wars that take different forms but it is still coming down to this division of the narratives, that it is about to fall into the complete of its of the civilization versus the idea of an america that can be
transformed into something great through the vitality of its peoples interacting. and again this is the basis of a conservative reaction now. it's about restoration. and people honestly and openly use the language of restoration. so saying we cannot allow our great country to be transformed we must restore her and her values and the really interesting thing is that the conservatives actually don't have to do anything. they are using the language of the civil rights revolution. so they have to adopt the language of the multiculturalists and so on and so forth but at the same time,
they don't have to ever instill new visions. those that want change in racial progress always have to instill new vision and so it's always that extra burden that is added onto us to be able to do that and then the left i think there is still an argument about the identity politics. and in the art world about the identity art. and so, those are different kind of funds that the cultural wars are being fought on right now. >> host: i finished the book feeling much more optimistic about the possibility of america. the possibility of coming to terms with this stuff. but one question i had commanded respect to the other point about the way in which we have to imagine a new world avenue south and the new nation and that our culture and the arts that we produced can help to bring that
about. but the thing that kept nagging at me as i read the book is what extent is the opposite happening is the art over determined by the moment. in other words i get how they might encourage us to imagine the world that is not as it is not in this area of hope and change the flip of that is to what extent is the current set of conditions and the current economic realities of the neoliberalism to everything else. to make us so constrained in our political imagination that obama becomes the piece of hope and change in a fairly centrist liberal.
it is also being limited in that way. there are always visionaries that are going to break the glass and sort of kind of bring home. to take a hammer and crashed the mirror and make it authentic. to be able to prescribe what is actually going on and what people's experiences are. there is an amazing movie breaking through it. i think a lot of the noise
aroused by colorblindness and the race at this particular moment saying here we are with all these questions of visibility and we even have a foot in the door of one of the characters of a very high-ranking administrative university during the 80s and the '90s. here we are with all this stuff going on and we are still going to have situations in which. it's complicated and so i have no doubt that there will be artists who will be able to make their statements so to speak to make their work, to have it appreciated for the formal
there's the flight from the multiculturalism in the cities that have become very diverse so that is one vision that we have going on there. if we don't talk about it it will all go away. and i think that we need to build up and sort of elaborate on what does it mean for us to be living in a society in which all of us are nordby's? we have to find a basis for the new majority and that is a political question that republicans and democrats are finding out and figuring out every second of the day. every second of every outward of every day to figure that out
right now as we are even going into these midterm elections into 2016 and beyond. it's a political question and the party sense. it's a larger question in terms of how do you form a new politics and a new sort of consensus around the values and inclusion and desegregation, compassion, empathy and all those good ideas that we love so much. >> host: even those that are progressives it's how we can be less biased to them and how we can give more to them to create more access for them. there is a difference between that and being reflected reflected into saying what does it mean to be white, but does it mean to be in this position and the power to have dislocation when it means something different than it may have meant in 1914 or 1814. and so part of what i'm thinking is how do we create a
conversation on what does it mean to be light and against all the other racial categories that are measured. >> host: that has to do with having these honest conversations about privileging the where privilege comes from and how it gets instilled and passes through generations and gets re-created >> host: this later moment in the book. talk about some of the factors that have made about the case and why are we where we are right now demographically and even sort of culturally and how they talk about the racial
difference because even then the language of pr a majority minority world is a very new kind of language. >> host: i think that there has been sort of an emerging push to talk about the name and how that's been a very positive and a very powerful push because it's really important for us to be able to understand how certain races are used in how they are used and. so to look at the ways in which we've talked about becomes a leverage to reinforce.
it has been ongoing and i think now the questions are on the mixed-race children and youth and populations. in some ways there is a sort of beautiful vision that if we all get busy with each other and we all intermarry or have kids together for the future will be better and racism will magically disappear. like we would never have these conversations anymore. you can look at the brazil were to be able to talk about the fact. there's a lot of discussion that needs to get a lot more complicated as we move forward. but i think that ultimately, it
has to be about this question of the racial and equal equal that he ended up closing these gaps. it's about posing the gaps around the and the cultural inequity. it's about moving towards a society in which we are to be freed together. and in order to do that, we have to imagine beyond ourselves, beyond our identities to think about. in the bay area where i'm from, the asian american parents, to my chagrin, have been at the head of the movements to undo the movement to undo the consent decrees in the public schools. and in a lot of ways they see that we were underrepresented in the past. and if so, maybe this is the way that it ought to be to make up from the things of the past. and my question is kind of a world, what kind of society do you want to live in the want to be live and he wanted he amazes
segregated society with justin at the top? i don't think that is a progressive vision that i want to be part of and it's something that i've been fighting in a lot of respects. so, this those kind of questions become relevant. and new. what's interesting to me is during the height of the multiculturalism. especially after the los angeles riots there is this apocalyptic thing like don't follow the multiculturalism at all because that is leading down a path toward the balkanization and a divided country. it's going to be happening in the cities and neighborhoods, it's going to happen in the school board and that is not to minimize any of the tensions around the change that are happening in the different neighborhoods because they are there. they are also a lot of people in
the neighborhoods that have been working together to try to find commonalities across the different backgrounds and histories. and i think that that is the kind of stuff that we like to uplift as a model looking towards 2042. >> host: one of the things that has been in the news and this whole conversation about the difference you mentioned belmar and part of what i've been wondering is it becomes another way to address the race and color issue by different means. to what extent do we sort of have to reimagine their racial contest now because again, people aren't just saying.
as the other issues begin to emerge. >> guest: absolutely. i think that what we see, especially after 2001 is the sort of heightened division around at the difference but then it gets racialized as you just noted because again we are not talking about why muslims for the most part, we are talking about muslims of color. they've deported thousands and thousands of pakistani americans , south asian americans, arab americans come and entire neighborhoods have been torn apart by these different types of policies. this again is one of the things that is in our blind spot.
because i am a huge fan of name your favorite athlete. i cannot erase it. it's crazy. and so, we do have to absolutely everything how it looks in the 21st century. and these are the kind of things that i think i'm talking about 19 talking about sort of neighborhoods kind of coming together and folks coming together across different kinds of background into saying yes, we are all in this together. but you know, the question is so difficult when you really get down to the heart of it, we kind of have to get beyond all of
these questions of what martin luther king called racism, militarism and economic inequality in order to get to the kind of society that frees us all. in any kind of neighborhood and the setting and the church at café, the schoolyard having these conversations that happens is the extremist. and this is what i am labeling culturally. the culture war exists because we are not having these movements at the ground level below the surface of what is
visible on 24 hour cable. >> host: what are the conversations that are beginning to emerge how do you think that the cultural images at the moment. i'm thinking about black jesus on adult swim and these kind of dangerous representations and in the book you talk about the boondocks at this moment saying they see their racial diversity and multiculturalism as something of a parody of which is in its own a kind of politics. to do the image is that you see now make you more encouraged about the ability to have those kind of conversations about the dangerous ones that go deeper than the kind of civil liberal ones that we often have? >> guest: i'm very ambivalent and i think that anybody that is reading the book will see that.
it is all really interesting that the fall lineup has a focus on nonwhite families and leads and in some respects, it is an understanding that the demographics have shifted. they had to catch up on how are you going to do that we will go after the communities of the color and we are going to build a business as opposed to the number one or nbc at the time it has a big audience, we are going to build up a whole number of
niches. so, fox did that. they have the simpsons come on and on. they had all these shows that were bringing in these new audiences and folks are saying this is the golden age. as soon as they got to the nfl they dropped all these shows. so, i am cynical in that sense like how long will this last week of the scandal did really well and all these other types of shows how long will it last? i don't know. it might be a confession. right now it is on the point of having the latter years of the presidency to shore up the audiences or it could be a permanent type of move. there is some ambivalence about
that. there's the old sort of fighting fist in the air multicultural representation like i'm happy that they have a show now and i want to see them more than pretty much any other show on tv now because i'm thinking this is something i might actually be able to recognize. representation and recognition is always going to be important. >> host: i have to push back against your optimism. you look at history and to see where see where we get it scanned in the book you talk about the structural stuff in a nuanced way. we had a spot politically, economically. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: yet at the end of the
book, you reiterate all this other stuff. just how helpful you are that we would be able to imagine and produce a world that in my estimation there is no evidence for. i'm going to share your optimism. i want to know where you get it from because the book to me talks about just how complicated and messy this stuff is and you retrieve a sense of hope. people talk of changing demographics. i come from a chinese hawaiian family. i married into the filipino family in the by now we have intermarried with just about everybody possible. so we have these grand reunion of time. lots of food, lots of eating, but hanging out, lots of fun and
this is what my kids have grown up around. it's what i've grown up around and i see that happening. it's not like, you know, this person and that person don't have a fight that they've been nursing for 20 years. it's not that there's all sort of peace and love through the whole thing. there are the conversations people are having i'm sure in the corners and that kind of thing and maybe they are using it as an opportunity to reconnect but that's my reality. it's been my reality ever since i was born. and so maybe that's where i get it from any personal kind of way. >> host: but we have to figure this out. like do we want to get to a point where we've got a majority minority society that the grand
experiment has failed and we are now walking or talking about the class and race and gender among your talking about the cast and we are talking about a permanent insight into permanent outside. and so, i would like to see that for us or my kids or my grandkids. i would like to see a bitter for both. the first one you will be good at. the second one maybe not but how will the demographics inform the next president? >> guest: i think it's going to be an interesting contest. i think the republicans have to remake themselves and the likelihood of seeing a latino republican candidate is probably pretty high. i think that the democrats as well are going to have to figure out after obama how to attract
the constituencies that they brought into the fold. if it is loaded is going to make a difference. if it's low if the turnout is low you know, if all of the young people turnout is low, then the democrats are pretty much where they started before 2007. so all of that is real and these are mathematical conversations and it isn't interesting in the end. it's not what i mean when i talk about trying to build a new cultural majority. but it matters to the extent that people who are making the political positions can undermine the type of cultural values and the type of cultural plurality is that we do want to see as they have in the 60s
and the 80s. >> guest: even if we can propel someone into the office will be we still be moving towards those kind of values to move us towards a better society i am not sure but it's been mixed and complicated with obama's presidency. >> host: 2042 what needs to happen for us to be in a kind of place the kind of place that you ideally imagine with us in the book lacks >> guest: we have to get to our blind spots and understand that we have to rethink the kind
of divisions into segregation that are happening below the surface and how we address that. we have to attack the segregation and attack the gaps. again, the numbers are stark and many of us know the numbers about the folks in the color is behind bars. many of us understand the education gap and of the wealth gap and income gap that those are pressing. recent studies have shown if we try to meet the kind of progress we are making around the race gap it will take us a century to get to the point where folks
would be near to being equal and so these are the kind of issues that we have to address in a very measured, nuanced and committed kind of way. >> host: what is it about artists and culture that you describe as valuable that allow us to get at this stuff than the greatest intellectuals or philosophers? >> guest: part of it is the political process that brings it down to the question of should the bill be read in be retained with be retained with a cutoff of ph is going to be 60 to 159. the questions are very narrow. with the artistic process, the questions are much broader and they can kind of cascade down. and so with the artists bring to the table is the ability to be
able to ask "demand wrong or alternatively write questions that need to be asked of us and of our society. >> host: arts certainly does that and this book certainly does that. our love can't stop and won't stop and you have up to the intellectual. thanks so much for joining us. >> guest: thanks for having me. >> that was "after words," booktv signature program which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. and you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the booktv series and the topics list on
the upper right side of the page. ronald reagan. >> guest: he didn't do much writing himself although his letters in his writings and documents were very well indeed for the buck that we published on an american life he regarded as something being done by others. he went over it carefully. he was a pleasure to be around. he had a very good relationship with him by phone because she was a great force and so was he and they both shared a great interest in peace. we had a number of pigs on our farm and if turned out that ronald reagan had been very
interested and never never failed going to fairs like the iowa state fair's to visit with the winning ticket the iowa state fair. he was a charming man. >> host: you tell an episode in another life he came to the the simon & schuster authors as to what is the autobiography finished and he turned to the photographers and cameras and waved and said i hear it's a good book. i will have to read it sometime. >> guest: absolutely. unfortunately it was true. he did actually read it and like it, but he wasn't deeply connected. extend was coming he started out writing every become self a certain amount of editing he would then take a yellow legal pad and he took some pride in his work. i think he was not interested
enough that i remember visiting his office in california. he ended his presidency and had a magnificent glass cabinet that stretched containing every single settle that he'd been presented with during his gubernatorial and acting in the presidential career. just a wonderful road of western all beautiful and he was so proud of it. he took each one down and described what it was and where did it come from. he was quite extraordinary. and i described i think when you visited his office what you got was a photograph of yourself with the president, which is in part i suppose which he signed.
it was with a poor and cameras or it could be signed in the pit into a frame for you. i grew up in the movie business and i realized there was a mark on the floor of his office. there were pieces of duct tape crossed so that they would step to the right place together for the picture to be taken. and i thought that's extraordinary. the man had been governor of california. he's twice been president of the united states and he's still a movie actor. >> you can watch this and other programs online at the booktv.org. ..