Wednesday, May 25, 2016

To podcast, but what about?

Tim Ferris interviewed Sebastian Junger on his most recent episode of The Tim Ferris Show.

One of the thoughts that I internalized from that interview was that the point of writing is to share with the world the things that we care about that are inside of us.

I have been kicking around the idea of starting a podcast, but I don't know what the topic should be, whether I should do it on my own or not, or even how to start.  I feel stuck.  I want to do this, but I don't know how to begin.

Being stuck is anxious.  It's like internal tug-o-war.  Inertia vs. desire to be known and to make an impact.  I want to believe that my thoughts will change the world, but it's so hard to even present them.

Here are some things that I want to present to the world:

In regards to society:

Recently I have had the experience of my internal liberal voice awakening.  Mostly through listening to podcasts, I have become aware of the struggle of people in minority groups in a society that is so centered around the dominant culture.

If I were to go through a checklist of privilege, I would likely be able to check off all of the boxes.

  • Young
  • White
  • Able-bodied
  • Christian
  • Male
  • Born in and living in the USA
  • Educated
  • Middle class
  • Straight
  • Cisgendered
Because of these privileged positions I have received the "wind at my back" my whole life.  This is not a source of guilt, but it should be a source of reflection.

I have wanted to learn more about the effects of privilege, and also seek out ways for people to hear each other's stories.  If you hear someone's story, how can you not appreciate them more?

However, there is often a gap.  It's so hard to listen to the experience of someone unlike yourself.  Or in contrast, it's easy to co-opt the experience of others as just another aspect of our own story.

An example of this would be a podcast I listened to in which two white men discussed racism.  It fell flat to me.  There was no attachment to the pain.  Racism became simply disgust at their own group. There was no story of the oppressed except as it was retold through a white lens.

Isn't that part of the problem with privilege?  That there is an invisible filter that privileged people have that disallows them from truly experiencing the effects that the lack of privilege have on others?  People need to tell their own stories.

Which comes back to the problem of people being able to listen to unlike people.  There is a tribal resistance to really hearing others.  When the Black Lives Matter movement speaks about their experience of injustice, white folks often have a hostile or defensive reaction.  They can't understand.  They need an interpreter.

The best case of this was in an episode of the Liturgists' Podcast in which the two white co-hosts had two African-American guests on the show to discuss racism.  It was a remarkable conversation because the hosts (one in particular,) did the work that the privileged listener needed.  As a white person, I benefited from having a white person listen intently to the story of someone unlike me and give that story the empathetic weight that it deserved.

The co-hosts were "windows" for me into the conversation.  I was able to see myself in someone like me who was able to affirm the story of someone unlike me. At the same time, I got to hear the story from the guest directly.  In this setup, I got all of the pieces.

I want to do that.  I want to be the privileged window that allows privileged people to have a safe way to be vicariously empathetic to another person's story.

My goal is this: each episode of the podcast would be about some aspect of privilege or a related topic.  On that episode there will be a guest that has been or is personally affected by that element of privilege.  For instance, in an episode about heteronormativity I would have a guest who is gay talk about their lack of representation in the media.

I am hopeful that this would be a project that could help bridge the gaps between groups of people.  Perhaps that is overly hopeful and I will be humbled, but I would like to pursue the idea.

I want to stop this post here, mostly because this section is larger than I anticipated.  I'll continue on with other podcast ideas that I have.