Tobin, Rebecca, Jesse Smollet discussed on The Takeaway


The most recent nationwide data from the FBI reported hate crimes increased seventeen percent in two thousand seventeen from the year before and when an attack happens entire communities are affected to talk about that impact. I'm joined by Tobin. Low co host of the podcast Nancy, which tell stories of the queer experienced today and Rebecca Carol cultural critic and editor of special projects at WNYC. Welcome. Both of you. So I want to start by asking the your reactions, and I know Rebecca, you you reacted in in writing to hearing about this story of Jesse smollet. What was your initial feeling in that moment when you heard the story, I felt so tense. I've felt immediately of a visceral response and started to sweat and and felt so so sad and triggered you know. And immediately started writing, and I didn't even think it was going to be a piece I just needed to get some some words down because it was the rope. It was the rope that really put me over, you know, I mean black and Brown folks LGBTQ folks, we hear and see the slurs. We see them online. We hear them on the street, but the rope to to to just imagine that that that sort of the tactile -ness of it. Just just devastating Tobin. You. I think for me, and I think for a lot of queer people hearing about attacks. Like, this you start to roll through the Rolodex of experiences that you've had and you know, times that someone is called you a name maybe on the train or on the street, and you're like, well, it could have gone another way, you know, like it could have gone violent or maybe you have had violent experiences in the past. I mean, I think for me and the other thing that I think about is as queer people. We can't not center the facts that Jesse is black and queer and that he exists in that specific intersection in that part of our community experience so much more experience so much more harassment. And so that's the part that I am I feel drawn to focus on and to talk about. Rebecca, you mentioned the rope. And just so, you know, we reached out to the Chicago police department to learn more about how they're investigating this. We haven't heard back from them yet. But that the rope it's deeply and profoundly painful, and it it just reminds me of not just lynchings of black Americans. But also Matthew Shepard was tied with a rope. We just made lynching illegal in the United States after two hundred failed attempts. The rope is significant. Oh, extremely so. I mean, it's indelible it is. And it is I certainly at the at the beginning when we first heard the story when the news broke, I tweeted, certainly about the intersection of it being both homophobic and racist. And then sort of went more into this this notion because of because of the news. And the rope. And because that is such an implacable part of black history slave history. It is it's part of it's in my bones. It's in our bones, collectively as black folks. And so that I think is something that we can't avoid talking about as well. And and very specifically and very trenchantly. There's I mean this. This story is deeply uncomfortable for me. I think it triggers and that word is used a lot. But right. I think this this this story in particular is really hard to process Tobin. What is the sort of balance between being out and proud of who you are and being afraid to be out and proud of who you are not just because of your because of being queer, but also being a person of color like how do you deal with all of those levels? Do you choose not to be out and proud because you're afraid of what you can control versus what you can't control. Yeah. It's it is tricky because it does feel bike. It is a potentially dangerous thing to be an out and public person right now. And I think, you know, this is something I've talked a lot about with other queer Fouts's idea that like when we talk about queer people who are out there, so often we focus. Stories of people who are fabulous and really confident and might have it altogether. And so that forced us to focus on stories where people are sort of like really putting themselves out there and feel really confident. And I think what that doesn't leave as much room for his vulnerability or talking about some of the dangers of being out and proud. So I mean stories like, this makes me think about you know, there's another side to that. Similarly, you know who runs the world girls. Right. I mean that that does not allow for a a very real vulnerability for black girls. I mean, we've just gone through this with our Kelly, you know, black girls don't really actually matter mom to to a lot of America American society in mainstream. So there's this. There's this overcompensation, you know, we're beyond saying black girl magic and all this kind of thing. And I worry that it really puts our girls more endanger. Because there's because because there isn't as. As much conversation about how to create that bridge, and how to be confident and step into who you are. But to also be very aware and mindful that there are forces actively working against you. And there's also, you know, one of the things we talked a lot about these emotions one of the emotions, I'm having his anger. I don't know if you guys are feeling the same thing. But the reason I am feeling that anger is because I don't it makes me angry that I have to be afraid. Yeah. I didn't feel you know. I mean, I I felt rage which I don't know if if it's that that's really the same thing as anger, I felt rage, and I just felt deeply deeply saddened. I mean, I just could not get the idea the image out of my head of this. This man who is by all accounts. An absolute Ray of light full of love his colleagues his fans his peers that he's in this moment alone with a rope around his neck. I just it's just so so deeply saddening what about the trauma? Because I think when we think when we talk about trauma. We don't quite understand it as a community issue. Right. We think about it as an individual thing, you went through something you're suffering through it. It's your trauma. But I think these attacks do affect the rest of our community right for sure. I absolutely think that the trauma is collective, and I think that it that it's observed an and absorbed in individual ways, but also in collective ways. And I think it's not particularly to as Tobin pointed out for it to be even more inclusively absorbed. Yes, I mean, even as we sit here, you know, there's different pieces that are triggering for each of us. You know, like, Rebecca you're talking about the lynching aspect of it. You feel it in your soul. And you know, the homophobic part of it is the thing that, you know, I think about it as people of color were all sitting here thinking about it. And so it it puts us on a room together where we're each talking about our trauma and trying to understand each. Each other's trauma. But I mean, the the feeling that I had afterwards. It's like, oh my God. Take your pick of awful things about this attack. There's sort of like too much to focus on it too much to Paul part. How do we deal with collective trauma? How do we like how did Trump traumatize people help each other get out of this or find ways to cope because I think one of the things about this is I it sort of creates a low grade or high-grade stress in all of us. Right. We're afraid to that. We may be attacked were afraid to say the wrong thing, we're afraid of just living our lives like how do we deal with that in everyday life? I was really heartened by the sort of solidarity, the national solidarity that came in response to this, you know, certainly from high profile folks, Kamala, and and the Hollywood Hollywood community, but also, you know, folks, online and social media and Twitter, you know, who aren't as well known who are struggling with understanding. Whether they're whether or not there needs to be an emphasis on one thing or the other. But are struggling none the less, and so I feel like that's like Tobin said take your pick. It's also an absolute resolute example of America embodied in this one incident. I was going to say also we talked about the news. But like, you said there are other elements to this that makes this almost a textbook moment here for this. This moment that we're living through. Let's talk a little bit about the language that both was used in that that the police are using I think that was a point of contention calling this a possible hate crime question, though, if the crime is being investigated, right? The cops can't come out and say it was this. So how do they how do we deal with that? Language. You know, I don't know the legalities around that for the police, but I do know that when a perpetrator and assailant is actually spewing hate while they're committing the crime. It's a hate crime. And so, you know, it it it begs the question certainly for those of us in journalism. You know, how to report it? But I I think that you have to say it's hate when it's hate. Yeah. And I mean, I think regardless of the language you can't race that reporting on it and talking about it is trauma or brings up people's trauma. That's inescapable. My hope is that for other, you know, PSE other folks when we have these conversations that we allow ourselves to soften into vulnerability. I think that there is a lot of pressure to always be right or to always feel like you have the answers and actually creating space to learn from each other. I think is so important in moments like this. And I think also that to find the strength in that vulnerability absolutely mean, we can be soft for a little bit. Yes. And I'm not not Rebecca Carroll is cultural critic and editor of.

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