This week, John McWhorter and I are joined by Greg Thomas, senior fellow at the Institute for Cultural Evolution and CEO of the Jazz Leadership Project, to discuss one of our perennial Big Questions: Are we ready to deracialize? As you may have gathered from his previous TGS appearance, that’s the kind of issue Greg loves to sink his teeth into. But I do have some questions of my own for Greg. Let’s get into it.
We begin with a little jazz talk. I ask Greg how he goes about incorporating the principles of the music into the workshops he leads with the Jazz Leadership Project. He goes on to explain how the history of jazz provides a way of understanding how we can begin to envision a society that moves past race. Greg uses the work of Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison as examples, but I want to know why I and other black people should have to abandon our racial self-identification? Surely this task can’t fall to black people alone. I suggest to Greg that he’s unjustifiably conflating black identity and the victim mentality—you can have the former without the latter. After a brief discussion about whiteness and deracialization, Greg departs, leaving John and me to do a quick review of 2022 and to look ahead to 2023.
This is a fiery one! It’s our final episode of the year. Thank you all for watching, listening, and reading. John and I will be back in 2023. See you there!
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0:00 The principles of jazz
7:14 “Deracialization Now”
13:00 Becoming Omni-American
20:46 What’s wrong with racial identification?
25:36 Black victimization and cultural memory
35:15 The transformations of James Baldwin
42:10 Convincing white people to deracialize
48:40 Takeaways from 2022
55:33 2023’s big Supreme Court decisions