Jul 10, 2020 • 50M

Is it Racist for a White Man to Bounce a Brown Baby on His Lap?

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Yascha Mounk
The podcast that searches for the ideas, policies and strategies that can beat authoritarian populism.
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A few days ago, a rather strange exchange caught my attention on Twitter. At a public meeting of a local New York City school board, one member accused another of perpetrating racism by holding his girlfriend’s nephew.

“It hurts people when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap,” she said. Asked for an explanation as to how this might be racist, she suggested that the man “read a book. Read White Fragility.”

When I delved deeper into this strange story, I discovered that another member of the board had spoken up against this twisted view of the world with lucid rage; to be honest, it was the most compelling speech I have heard in months.

Edward Irizzary is, himself, a product of the New York City public school system. He grew up under difficult circumstances, and joined the local board of education to fight for students just like him. In conversation with me, he explains why the ideas of people like Robin DiAngelo, or reforms that are focused on what he calls “cosmetic diversity,” make it harder to improve a deeply flawed educational system.

Please do take the time to listen to our conversation.