Episode

7/20 Migrant Suffering and White Democracy w/ Cristina Beltran, and a Tribute to Michael Brooks

July 20, 2021

Sam and Emma host Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at New York University, to discuss her recent book, Cruelty As Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy, on the project of whiteness that has built the United States, and why the backlash to a changing racial consciousness in the US has seen a focus on immigration policy. Professor Beltran walks through the history of this project and how the American experiment was grounded in a civic duty that drove displacement and segregation. Beginning with the settler-colonial drive westward and the duty of individuals to claim space and build it up as their own, she explores how this civic role continued to build up this concept of white democracy, before moving into the segregation era and how, through public enforcement, segregation became a democratic project for white citizens. After the fall of Jim Crow in the 60s, the only remaining population that could be vocally dominated under the rule of law became the migrant population. Emma, Sam, and Cristina explore how this logic of domination is ingrained in the western idea of citizenship, to rule and be ruled, and discuss the tyrannical pleasure promoted by it, before they look into the absence of a sharing mentality in American culture, and how these elements of the American psyche result in zero-sum views of freedom, representation, and citizenship. They conclude with a greater discussion on the relationship between Latinx voters and immigration policy, and Sam and Emma begin reflecting on the joy and beauty of Michael Brooks.

And in the Fun Half: The MR Crew dedicates the second half of today’s show to remember the wonder and positivity that the late Michael Brooks brought to countless lives. Lisha Brooks, Bhaskar Sunkara, Joshua Kahn Russell, Djene Bajalan, and Wosny Lambre join to celebrate the hilarity, empathy, intelligence, love, and humanity that Michael spread wherever he went, sharing stories from his days at MR and TMBS, from personal and professional perspectives, and reflecting on the growth he encouraged in himself and those around him. Josh from Chicago and Ronald Raygun also call in to share their Michael tales and favorite impressions, plus your calls and IMs!

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