On being “obsessed with race” in America

My fave comedian, Hari Kondabolu, has a new album coming out, Waiting for 2042 (i.e., the year that, by most estimates, there will be more people of color in the U.S. than white people). And if this teaser is any indication, it is gonna be exactly more of what I love: dark, feminist, social justice-y, and truly hilarious commentary on life in this weird place we both call home.

In this clip, Hari compares being obsessed with race in America to being obsessed with swimming while you’re drowning – genius. So next time you’re injecting much-needed racial justice analysis into your feminism, and some clueless person can’t understand why you’re being “so divisive,” I encourage you to pass this along.

If someone could post a transcript in the comments, I’d be eternally grateful!

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfullVerónica just wants to be Hari Kondabolu’s BFF. Hit me up boo!

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Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/vryheid/ Mike

    Here’s a transcript I whipped up:

    “People always say I’m obsessed with race. ‘You’re obsessed with race! You’re obsessed with racism!’ You can’t be obsessed with race in America. There’s racist stuff that happens all the time. Saying that I’m obsessed with race and racism in America is like saying I’m obsessed with swimming when I’m drowning. It’s absurd. I’m not the one who’s obsessed, this country is obsessed.

    I hear about the year 2042 all the time on the news. For those of you who don’t know, 2042 apparently, according to Census figures, is the year that white people will be minority in this country. White people will be 49% in 2042. I don’t know if there are people in this audience who will be upset by this, but don’t worry white people, you were the minority when you came to this country. Things seem to have worked out for you.

    Here’s the bigger point, here’s the more important point. 49% doesn’t make you the minority, that’s not how math works. 49% white only makes you the minority if you think the other 51% are exactly the same. That only works if you think, ‘Well, it’s 49% white people, and 51% you people.’ That’s the only way. Because that 51%, my friends, is not a united front.

    Just ask a black guy and a Korean guy what happens when the black guy walks into the Korean guy’s store. I bet you that interaction isn’t pleasant. I bet you that interaction isn’t like, ‘Hey teammate.’ ‘How’s it going, teammate?’ ‘Pretty good, am I right? 2042!’ That’s not what’s happening. It’s not a united front, there is some historic tension there.

    And some of you might be thinking, ‘Well you’re saying that 51% is not exactly the same, but you’re assuming that all white people are the same.’ Yes! No, no, I’m joking. I’m obviously joking. Why am I joking? Because white isn’t a thing. Race isn’t a thing. It’s all made up, it’s a social construct. It’s a way to separate us and destroy us. It’s not real.

    White isn’t a thing and we know this. There used to be signs in New York that said ‘No Irish, No blacks, no dogs.’ The Irish weren’t white, the Italians weren’t white, the Polish weren’t white, the Jews weren’t white. It’s made up, it’s a way to separate us. And you notice, there are people of color in this room who know this, if you ask your white friends what their cultural heritage is, they never just say ‘white’. No, they give you a math equation. ‘I’m a third German, and a fourth Irish, and one sixteenth Welsh.’ It’s like, ‘Damn, Steve, all these years I thought you were just white. My bad. I should have been more sensitive.’”