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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 28, 2013 1:35pm-2:01pm EDT

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you don't have an investment in folks across the racial line. even if someone says something you don't like, you care about them, you're invested. if you don't have a relationship, you write them off. i didn't like you anyway, and i won't talk to you. and i think political correctness is about saying it's really dangerous to combine a lack of substantive engagement across all kinds of social differences with a kind of commitment to civility at the expense of talking seriously about the issues that concern us. and the difference we have on those issues. and so i think it's important to remember we need to find a way to talk about things that are uncomfortable to talk about, but we shouldn't pretend that we're always saying things we mean just because we're saying things that we know we imagine won't affect -- offend our interlocutor in ways that are negative x. so that's what i'm trying to argue in the book. political correctness becomes, if we're not careful, a way to double down on repressing any expression about race. >> what's an example you use in "racial paranoia"?
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>> one really nice example is this idea that -- i think it's a really powerful one, and it comes out of the kind of political moment of the leadup to the election last year. and one of the things that i think people always talked about was the idea that there was something going on, right, vis-a-vis americans casting votes about what person could be the first black president. it seemed almost antithetical to everything we imagine about political participation. americans, white americans especially we said would never be able to do that. and i think one of the moments that, for me, was so powerful during the election was the time when obama actually had to come out and talk explicitly about race. because one of the things -- >> he did it here if philadelphia. >> he did it right here in philadelphia. one of the ironies, there's so many ironies in our contemporary political moment, but one of the most powerful ones is the first black president is the one who can talk the least about race. it's the third, fourth and fifth rail for that -- i mean, there's something about race that he
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knows he can't discuss, and part of what he tried to do in that moment at least was to say let me say something th think is going to bring people together that's forward thinking, and then hopefully i'll never have to bring it up again. and there's something about that, i think, in some ways that is quintessential paranoia. the idea is americans are so fatigued about race, they're so resistant to thinking about racial inclusion that to even bring up the idea of race too often means folks are going to disqualify you from the highest office in the land. you're not going to be a president for all americans. and i think the positive gloss though is to say there are ways to address all kinds of social differences, racial differences, class differences that don't invoke race but that still brings everyone in, right in and i think that's a nice model. out says we don't have to produce race-specific programs to create racial equality in a way, right? we can do it through these other mechanisms that allow everyone a piece of the pie. although i think the irony, though, is it's sort of predicated on a presupposition
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to says to invoke race is to disqualify yourself because some people are already so upset and disaffected and is alienated from this discourse about racial inequality and discrimination. and so i think he's someone who has to negotiate this incredibly difficult scenario where he stands for the racial possibilities in america as america's first black president, but literally can't talk about race because that's what would define his disqualification from the office. and so he's negotiating -- and we're all negotiationing variations on that same kind of paradox. >> professor jackson, are white americans particularly, in your view, oversensitive or too careful about the so-called race card? >> i think we're all sensitive. and in some ways for good reason, right? but i feel like the difference is often a way in which you can imagine white americans can afford to say, well, you know what? let's just get over race and move on. to get over race and move on
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means we don't have to wallow in all of what we know as so pernicious and complicated about america's history, vis-a-vis questions of race. so it's kind of easy to imagine a project that says, well, if we all just look the other way, if we stop talking about race, we'll end racism which is the logic of a certain kind of contemporary political perspective. and i think in that way i understand some of what the tension is in these kind of sort of interracial conflagrations. because white americans, for the most part, want to imagine the key is to just keep moving forward. and if you don't bring up race, eventually, we'll get to -- you see, we have our first black president, we're doing all these wonderful things very publicly to bring other people into the fold be, why do can you keep dragging us back to the 19th century, to all these discussions about pre-civil rights america? isn't america different now? and i think the question is it is different, but in what ways, and how can we be as inclusive as we can be, and i think that's our project. i think the only way to do it is
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to really find ways to talk about some of these complicated issues. and, again, that's about listening, not just talking. that's our other problem. i think we tend to imagine we wait our turn, let the other person finish and then hammer them. but the idea is to live in the other person's shoes. feel like what it was feel like to be in white america today who knows whiteness doesn't carry the same kind of social power that it did 50 years ago. you're losing a portion of the pie. that's a very real thing. the browning of america as all these -- has all these implications. the browning of the electorate. and there's something about listening to that fear, that anxiety think that i think is legitimate at a certain level. for those who have power to have to give it up, i think we all need to be cognizant of it. we have to listen to the other side and figure out where the common ground is and try to push to a place we can all feel good about what's possible if we come together and think critically about our past and what allows us to imagine about our futures together as a collectivity.
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>> what kind of classes do you teach here at the university of pennsylvania? >> um, i do a lot of film. i'm a film maker as well as an anthropologist, so right now we've been focusing on a lot of graduate courses that are getting the students to understand that film can be a medium for scholarship not just for public intellectualism. so often academics think, well, we write these books, and the other people who read them are other scholars, right? so 15 other people. but if we make a film, everyone will see this project. and, of course, that's an incredibly important incentive for going to that medium. but the other things students are interested in is the idea it might actually allow you if you're thinking about the world and using film to tell some kind of story based on your research question, it might allow you to say different things about the world. and it could be a good medium, a good vehicle for actually producing scholarship for your colleagues, not just for an outside audience. trying to figure out what would it mean to say do visual dissertations or to write, to
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think about producing knowledge in images and sound that's supposed to count as scholarship the way an academic book would count, the way a journal article would count and not as something that's only about sort of public scholarship or interventions out into the larger public sphere. so we're doing a lot of that work across the graduate curriculum. and finishing up syllabus now for a new course i'm teaching, a reconfigure ration about an old one, how to do anthropological research in a new media moment when everything is online and viral and virtual. you know, earth nothing my wasn't built to do that kind of work, so how do we recalibrate it so it can do justice to culture that sucker lates in all these -- circulates in all of these interesting kinds of ways? >> who is anthro man? [laughter] >> sort of this superhero alter ego i created myself. anthropologists, they make their living talking to people. you go out, you speak to folks,
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you listen to them. and one of my problems as a fledgling anthropologist when i was still in idea school was i was incredibly shy. i didn't want to talk to anybody. it was difficult to do my research because it's hard to find a way to strike up conversation with people i didn't know. and so anthro man was this character i could pretend pis to be when i wanted to give myself the confidence to introduce myself to people and start to do my research. thisit was this fun thing i coud play with. eventually, i didn't need him anymore. but there's something about being an anthropologist that almost is like being a superhero in a way. you're imagining you can say something about what defines human beings' difference from every other species on this planet. it's almost a hubris-filled project. and anthro man is my way of playfully marketing that.
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imagine what they can say about the social world, and anthro becomes my way to play with that. >> what's your background? where'd you grow up, where'd you go to school? >> i'm a native new yorker, brooklyn. went to high school at brooklyn technical high school which was a high school of almost 5,000 people, so it was huge. then went to d.c. as an undergraduate and studied film. i was going to be a film maker. >> where'd you go to school? >> howard university in d.c. and then decided to do anthropology because i realized i could have my cake and eat it too. anthropology was the only discipline where i could actually make film, and films could be con stitchtive of my identity. if i was a sociologist or a political scientist or even a literary professor, i could make film maybe as a hobby, but they didn't have the long history of anthropologists using this equipment, using film making as part and parcel of the way they do anthropological research. and so i just thought, well, i can still make my movies, but i
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can do them in a context where i have license to find things out about the world. the one thing howard wasn't able to teach me, we were using film, right? now we're doing things digitally. we are still using 16 mm film back then and editing literally on a steam back, cutting things on tape. so i knew how to make a film, but i felt now as this kid from brooklyn, i didn't know enough about the world. anthropology allowed me to go out and learn something about the world that will inform the stories i tell as a film makers and that's how i ended up in anthropology at columbia. >> why were you raised in brooklyn? what'd your parents do? >> my mom and dad, both folks sort of working class in brooklyn, both kind kind of in the medical profession, but they worked at bellevue hospital doing a very particular kind of work. they're both dietary aids. and my mom went back to school. she only had a high school
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diploma. she went back to school to get her college degree and became a social worker by the time i got to howard. so i think i just saw that they were continuing to sort of struggle and try to better themselves. they were, you know, learners til the day, you know, to this day, actually, still trying to better themselves, still trying to gain more knowledge from any crevasse they could. and so i think in some ways part of what i got from them was this idea that you never stop trying to learn more about the world and to try to translate what you're learning into other thicks you can -- things you can do to be productive, to be a citizen, a critical citizen of the world. so i think they both in very different kind of ways modeled that by just sort of working every day as dietary aids and then as a social worker for my mom, to build a life for her and her family. >> professor jackson, where'd you get your ph.d.? >> from columbia in 2000. and then went on a post doc in
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cambridge, massachusetts, for a long time where i couldo film work and turn the dissertation into a book and then was off to the races. >> well, this is your third book, correct? "racial paranoia"? what can we learn from dave chapelle? >> i think dave chapelle is the quintessential example of someone who had had enough of a certain version of race quiet talk, right? so he's someone, you know, dave chapelle was famous for pushing the envelope, right? for being a comedian who would say things about how complicated and messy race talk could be ins could be funny and compelling at the same time. and he wasn't going to do his show anymore because he imagined that there was something about the way he was using race, being funny with race, that was actually backfiring on him. that wasn't allowing -- that wasn't enlightening people, but actually reinforcing some of america's worst racial animus and distrust. and he started to feel like he couldn't find a way to distinguish between progressive comedy around race and stuff
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that was actually doing more harm than good. >> are we paranoid about stereotypes? >> well, i mean, i think stereotypes are by definition a kind of formalization, institutionalization of paranoia. we're very seasonstive to it. all of us are. psychologists would tell us not only do we have to negotiate them, but when we're actually operating in spaces where the stereotypes seem operate i, it impacts our performance. we actually perform differently when we think about the stereotype as a threat that we can either reproduce, right, or deconstruct. and so i do feel like we're negotiating a world where we know people imagine they knew who and what we are even before we own our lives. when they see us, they can begin to have a short-hand version of what we -- what they see is not necessarily what they get especially if we imagine they might have a less than flattering or empowered notion
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of what they might mean to them. >> two other examples that i wanted to have you expand on and what you feel that we learn from them. cynthia mckinney, a member of congress, trying to get into her mace of employment. >> yeah. >> be and henry louis gates trying to get into his home. >> yeah. i think those are both really important and nuanced examples of why people can become so frustrated about race, right? because in both of those instances race is never the explicit issue. the issue is always, you know, i'm getting -- i'm trying to go to a space where i belong, right? and someone is barring me from entry in some way that i think must be about something other than the fact that i don't have my id, right? or that i'm a little bit boisterous in my home because i've had a long trip back from asia. and i think in both of those instances we see that racial paranoia is not just about sort of poor, marginalized
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populations who are trying to find a way to be heard. it's about folks who have made it, who are very successful, who say even when we're at the top of our game, there are these moments, these instances in a flash where folks seem to be -- again, we're not sure, right? part of what makes "racial paranoia" such an interesting concept to play with is there's no open and shut case most of the time. we want the certainty of the sort of black-hatted bad guy who can tell us we don't want you in town. and we're in a moment right now in both of those scenarios where that's not it. a cop isn't saying racist things to henry louis gates, but part of what they're imagining is this is a kind of politically-corrected way to do that kind of work anyway. to disqualify me from full social belonging without ever invoking race at all. it's clearly more slippery than the quintessential ways we might imagine race can bar people quite explicitly from social venues. >> in your view, professor jackson, are white people ever
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unfairly tarnished with the race card brush, and do you include any examples in your book, "racial paranoia." >> so the book is in some ways one of the things i decided to focus on in in the book is how african-americans understand race cease is see this paranoia. paranoia might have to be a logical way to respond to the moment. might make sense to be paranoid. i also think at is very same time it's unproductive to box ourselves into a corner that's about racial accusation and counteraccusation. so the ypped isn't just to find a way to out people as racists. see, i can tell you're a racist. i knew it was there somewhere. that's not productive for anyone. the point of the book is to say there's no island we can send all the racists or the sexists, right? there's no planet we can ship them to. so we have to live with folks who sometimes believe things that are incredibly for us
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frightening and even offensive. but that we don't have the luxury of disqualifying from our social community. so how do we find a way to talk -- maybe even to get people to think differently about their understanding of the world? i think that's part of the point of the book. we have to start with building real relationships and being willing to say folks are going to get things wrong, and they're not going to be able -- they're not going to have a language or facility for making people feel included because they've never had to cultivate that. and it's not enough to say you're a racist, i'm not going to talk to you again. if we did that, we'd never have a conversation. the key is to say, no, how do we find a way to live with difference and to try to build a possibility of having serious, substantive dialogue across some of those ideological differences. >> three books. do you have a fourth in the works? >> should be done next month. um, i think it's an interesting project about a transnational spiritual community, a group of african-americans that left chicago in 1967 first for
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liberia where they got in '67 and then eventually for southern israel. and by '69 they made it to southern israel, and they've made it ever since. very few people talk about this community. what was once 400 people who left are now somewhere around 3500 or 4,000. african-americans. they've had a thousand births in southern israel alone, and it's a story about how this community in israel uses that as a base to really connect with saints as community members are called on five different continents all around the world and doing their own development projects in africa. they have this chain of soul food vegan restaurants all throughout the united states. and i'm interested in how they use new media technology to build this sort of transnational spiritual commitment. and it's just a fascinating story that few people know about. so i think it'd be fun to just bring that to, hopefully, a wider audience. >> so you're finishing it, but it'll be several months until it gets published. >> probably won't be out until the end of 2013.
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>> we've been talking with professor dr. john l. jackson jr. here's the book we've been talking about, "racial paranoia: the unintended consequences of political correctness." this is booktv on c-span2. >> visit to watch any of the programs you see here online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live online for 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. >> big data is going to change how we live, work and think. and our journey begins with a story. and the story begins with the flu. every year the winter flu kills tens of thousands of people around the world. but in 2009 a new virus was
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discovered, and experts feared it might kill tens of billions. there was no vaccine available. the best health authorities could do was to slow its spread. but to do that, they needed to know where it was. in the u.s. the centers for disease control have doctors report new flu cases, but collecting the data and analyzing it takes time. so the cdc's picture of the crisis was always a week or two behind. which is an eternity when a pandemic is underway. around the same time, engineers at google developed an alternative way to predict the spread of the flu not just nationally, but down through regions in the united states. they used google searches. now, google handles more than three billion searches a day and saves them all. google took 50 million of the
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most common search terms that americans use and compared when and where these terms were searched for with flu data going back five years. the idea was to predict the spread of the flu through web searches alone. they struck gold. what you're looking at right now is a graph, and the graph is showing that after crunching through almost half a billion mathematical models, google identified 45 search terms that predicted the spread of the flu with a high degree of accuracy. here you can see the official data of the cdc and alongside of google's predicted data from its search queries. but where the cdc has a two week reporting lag, google could spot the spread of the flu almost in realtime. strikingly, google's method does
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not involve distributing mouth swabs or contacting physicians' offices. instead, it's built on big data, the ability to harness data to produce novel insights and valuable goods and services. let's look at another example. a company called fair cast. in 2003 a computer science professor named orrin was taking an airplane, and he knew to do what we all think we know to do, which is he he bought his ticket well in advance of the day of departure. that made sense. but at 30,000 feet the devil got the better of him x he couldn't help but ask a passenger next to him how much he paid. and sure enough, the person paid considerably less. he asked another passenger how much the person paid. he also paid less, even though they had both bought the ticket much later than he had. he was upset. who wouldn't be? but he's a computer science
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professor, so not only does he get upset, he thinks about his research. and so what he realized is he didn't actually need to know what are the reasons on how to save money on an air fare, whether you should buy it in advance, whether there's something called a saturday night stay that might affect the price. instead he realized that the answer was kind of hidden in plain sight, it was open for the taking which is to say all you needed to know was the price that every other passenger paid on every single other airline for every single seat, for every single route for all of american civil aviation for an entire year or longer. this is a big data problem. but it's possible. finish he scraped a little bit of data, and he found out that he could predict with a high degree of accuracy whether a price that you're presented online at a travel site is a good price and you should buy the ticket right away or whether you should wait and buy it later, because the price is
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likely to go down. he called his research project hamlet. to buy or not to buy, that is the question. [laughter] but a little data got him a good prediction. a few years later he was crunching 75 billion flight price records with which to make his production, almost every single flight many american civil aviation for an swire year, and now his -- for an entire year, and now his predictions were very good, indeed. microsoft knocked on his door, and he sold his company for $100 million. the point here is the data was generated for one purpose, reused for another. information had become a raw material of business. it had become a new economic input. >> you can watch this and other programs online at you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays featuring live coverage
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of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our web site, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> next, rosemary gibson presents her thoughts on the future of medicare and argues that the health care industry, more so than the public, is dependent on the $600 billion of annual medicare spending. this program is a little under an hour. >> for today is medicare and where we're headed and what it means for you and your patients. today in washington, d.c. the obama administration is preparing to release its federal budget proposal tomorrow that will have changes proposed for the medicare program. you might think, well, i'm not over 65, although some in the room may be over


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