You can also listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic, Overcast, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, RSS, and more.

Ali Barthwell is the cofounder of WakandaCon, a fan and community driven, self-funded celebration of afrofuturism in pop culture, gaming and tech. Ms. Barthwell is a recipient of the Puma/LOL Diversity Scholarship and inaugural member of the Bob Curry Fellowship. As a writer, performer, and instructor, she teaches improv and writing at The Second City Training Center with her work as a TV critic, appearing on publications like Vulture and the A.V. Club. Wellesley College alumna, Ali has also been a writer for the game Cards Against Humanity, performer for The Second City Touring Company, and she appeared on shows like 'Easy and Win It All' on Netflix. You can find more about her work and the upcoming WakandaCon events visiting wakandacon2018.com.

"No one can play a white person better than a black person, a man better than a woman, a straight person better than a gay person. Because we have to learn how to be in those spaces and understand those people. That's satire.
— Ali Barthwell

ali_barthwell_wakandacon_second_city_podcast_hoomans
— Ali Barthwell


Transcript (Automated)

When I reach 25 supporters, I will add human-curated transcripts to make episodes accessible to everyone. You can support Hoomans now.

A. Barthwell (guest): Living as a person of color (for me, specifically, living as a black person) is an act of satire because we are forced to learn and repeat the views of people that don't like us, and we learn how to perform rites and traditions of people that don't like us or that are in charge. And, without that ability, we would not be able to get a job. We wouldn't be able to work if we couldn't learn and perform and mimic the views and opinions of others. I say: 'No one can play a white person better than a black person. No one can play a man better than a woman. No one can play a straight person better than a gay person'. Because we have to learn how to be in those spaces and understand those people. That's satire.

Simone Salis (host): I am Simone Salis and this is Hoomans, with today's guest: Ali Barthwell.

S. Salis: Ali Barthwell is the cofounder of WakandaCon, a fan and community driven, self-funded celebration of afrofuturism in pop culture, gaming and tech. Ms. Barthwell is a recipient of the Puma/LOL Diversity Scholarship and inaugural member of the Bob Curry Fellowship. As a writer, performer, and instructor, she teaches improv and writing at The Second City Training Center with her work as a TV critic, appearing on publications like Vulture and the A.V. Club. Wellesley College alumna, Ali has also been a writer for the game Cards Against Humanity, performer for The Second City Touring Company, and she appeared on shows like 'Easy and Win It All' on Netflix. You can find more about her work and the upcoming WakandaCon events visiting wakandacon2018.com. Ali, the name is 'WakandaCon'. Was it born after the movie or did you already have the idea and the movie kind of sparkled the naming...

A. Barthwell: no, it was all from after the film mean my brother. So I'm planning it with my brothers. Uh, and then two other friends of ours, Lisa Beasley and Taylor witten. And we had gone to see Black Panther about six times as a, as a unit. That's why I wasn't able to go see it the ticket. And after, you know, maybe our third or fourth ewing, David, our older brother said, what kind of the can it don't own it means I don't know what it is yet, but this is the thing that I want to do. And originally he tried to pawn it off on Matt and being like, here you go do it and I'll just fund it. And we're like, no, no, you're organizing this with us. So the first thing that we did was we built a landing that just said what kind of con coming summer, 2018, a little paragraph about what we wanted to do and then the little form of put your email down and for more information.

A. Barthwell: And so we said if a thousand people put their email down then we'll start planning this thing in the first week we had 9,000 people sign up for myself. My face was clear in my reaction was like, yeah, that was. And it was funny because we'd put the page up and in the first couple hours, like I shared on my facebook, I shared on my twitter and facebook affinity groups that I'm in. Um, but you know, it wasn't really doing anything and then there was like a, just a shift turnover where suddenly it was getting shared hundreds of times from my page and then thousands of times just from my facebook page. So like that one post had like 4,000 shares on it by the end of the day, sometimes spiral truly just went viral and then we sort of looked at each other and said, oh, this has to be a real thing now.

A. Barthwell: And originally it was supposed to be one day, but we're like if 9,000 people show up for one day or even half or a quarter of that, that should be unsustainable. So we decided to do a three day, like more in the mold of like a comicon or [inaudible] or something. Um, and so we've sort of been building this thing as we go along and as we were recording it, we're a week away. We, our first event, we have a comedy show kickoff next Thursday and then on Friday, August third is when we officially officially the official opening. Where is it going to be a, it's going to be at the Hilton Chicago, so seven, 28 South Michigan. It's across the street from wild from grant park. So it will be um, we've sold, I think now about 2000 tickets and so we haven't. And that's also not including people that, you know, I kind of joke that there's a natural skepticism after there were some other fan conventions that didn't go through or know just people not knowing who we are.

A. Barthwell: Uh, so I think people will see, oh, on Friday the event actually happened, something was actually there and then there might be more people coming on Saturday for a full day of events. Yeah, I think that's a fair assumption. So what did you plan for Saturday? The core of the event? Um, we have a lot of our partnerships that we've been working on with other arts groups or community groups. A lot of those are happening on Saturday and so we're basically doing a half day on Friday, so the evening on Friday, the full day on Saturday, and then the morning on Sunday. And so Friday is a little more, um, academic driven. We have a lot of academics coming to present their work and talking about things like how a afrofuturism and racism and black culture issues intersect with things like feminism and environmentalism. I'm on Saturday.

A. Barthwell: That's more of our pop culture focus day. So we have a lot of other creatives, artists. Sunday is the sort of our community outreach and activists. So we have activists from flint coming to talk about their work. We have, um, we're doing a partnership with Bud Billiken, which is a African American culture parade here in Chicago. Um, and so they're doing their coronation for their king and Queen on Sunday. Uh, and we're also having a, there's a few black women entrepreneurs that are doing talks about, um, using crowdfunding, leveraging your blackness to help scale your growth and using sort of the themes and the principles in the film, uh, in entrepreneurship in business. So we kind of have a, a looking in, uh, creating day and then looking out, just kind of, okay, how did you, here's the thing, you start with a joke with your brother and you put up a landing page and then after that a few hours, thousands of people sign up.

A. Barthwell: Yup. What is the reaction like Alice, alice? Personal reaction. Of course there was excitement, but then there is, I have to do it. We've kind of gone through these phases of, oh no, no one's good at this is all just a fluke. No one's going to show up. And then there was, oh no, we have to do this, now we have to figure out how to build this thing together. And then there was the phase of, well it has to happen now and now we're, we're in, we're a week away. Sort of having the feeling of like I just want to lie down again, failing over and is like, I keep joking that I feel like I'm, I'm like eight months and three weeks pregnant and it's like get this baby out of me because it's been with us for so long and it's part.

A. Barthwell: And then like eating spicy food and driving over train tracks like shake this thing out and, and you know, we were just talking, I was talking with Lisa, one of the producers and we were saying we haven't even entered the phase of what we're going to be doing on the day. So thinking about like, oh, what shoes am I going to wear if I'm gonna be on my feet running around all day and what am I going to have to have in my fanny pack with me? And then Lisa and I are talking about, well we're going to have to. We're not gonna be able to wear makeup because we're just going to cry all day because it's going to be this like celebration and people coming up to us and telling us sort of what this event means to them and I was like, I'm just going to cry like the second I see like a big room full of people in their afrofuturist garb or in their cars play like all excited just to be there and sharing it with each other. Just like I'm just going to burst into tears.

S. Salis: That must be a wonderful sensation that. Because at some point you realize as an artist you already did a lot, but I'm gonna I'm gonna. Say for the first time you have the ability to not just reach such an audience but to determine what to discuss with that audience and create a dialogue. So that must have been a big factory I guess.

A. Barthwell: Yes. Yeah, and sort of my role in our planning has been the curation and discovery of the panels, but thinking about what kind of conversations are going to be in that space. How can we start with Black Panther? The film and go somewhere else with these conversations so it's not just, you know, we're going to sit in a room for four hours and talk about everything we love about Black Panther, which we could do and which we, I have done. Um, but the next step of seeing something like black panthers, seeing how it resonated with people, how can we sort of take the conversations and I sort of joked with like how do we bring black twitter into a location into a physical space and also been that step of making sure that the people that are bringing these conversations are the right people and they are prepared and ready to sort of start this dialogue and share in our value.

A. Barthwell: So it's been a real like, curation process and a lot of research and a lot of balancing. We don't want too many things that are doing the same thing on the same day and looking at one hour of programming and saying, if you're into this, you can go here, you can go here if you're into this thing. So making sure there's a big range of some stuff and there's of course topics that I've had to lean on my brothers to know. I'm not a huge tech person, that's just not been my, um, my interest. And so my older brother has been running his own graphic design and web development company since he was 16. So He's been in a lot of these tech nerd, nerd, techie spaces. Um, whereas I've sort of been in pop culture nerd spaces, so sort of coming together and making sure where my younger brothers, uh, he's a social worker so he's in a lot of activist spaces so making sure we're sort of hitting all different kinds of topics and stuff like that.

A. Barthwell: Are you very much probably will have a different perspective on their movie to choose. Would it mean to you, you went to see it six times, so it must have meant something to you that is different from other movies on our superhero movies? Certainly question, but I want to know Lee Barton for you personally have, you know, and I've sort of told this story before, but joking about when I would be younger and with my brothers and we'd play video games or it's like, all right, let's all be power rangers or with my friends, there was maybe one black character that black character wouldn't often be a woman if there was a woman character, she wouldn't black and if or the things that were coated black or female sometimes weren't even human. Like uh, you know, thinking about how often in Scifi and fantasy and video games the black or the person of color is coded as like an animal or a monster.

A. Barthwell: So thinking about like the orcs in Lord of the rings, like those, there's been a lot written of like that's a racist portrayal of people of color from a British person. So they represent, you know, Africans or Indians or sort of like an amalgamation of these groups. Um, and then going to see Black Panther and realizing there's four black women that I could pick and relate to and choose who matched my personality. And like what I wanted to be and you know, so for me it was like looking at Sheree, I was like, oh, I'm a little sister. That was, I've never seen like a black little sister that was also smart and intelligent and fashion forward and you know, even just like the image of like the hair and the makeup and the film. Sorry, I'm like getting a little misty eyed thinking about it, but you know, having this film for the first time or that I could really identify, I'd gone to seen all the marvel movies and I love the marvel movies and I've seen all the Lord of the rings movies and all the Harry potters.

A. Barthwell: But there wasn't that range of portrayal of black people that I could like, oh, this is the person I want to be. I can be sure it because I liked her. Not because she's the default, the only person I get to be. And then, you know, my younger brother was talking about what the film. There's an moment where they first go back to a condo after being there somewhere in Nigeria, the screen falls down and the image of the city like comes into view and my younger brother says he cries every time he sees it and he and they say we're home. And sort of having that feeling of those, those images in that part of like, this is a place that we never thought possible. And seeing it on screen was so inspiring. And um, when I was a kid we did in third grade in third or fourth, it was fourth grade.

A. Barthwell: We did an Ellis island project because we were talking about immigration into the US and the, in the 18 hundreds. And then, uh, the 19, early 19, 19 twenties and stuff, we all had to pick where our families were from and like do a project of like where your family immigrated from. And then at the end of the end of the month, we had Ellis island day where our classroom became ellis island and we all dressed up in traditional garb wherever we're from and emigrated into America. And half of the kids were immigrants and half the kids were, um, Ellis island employees and we like talked about all the different stations and the, you know, the eye test and all these different things you had to do. And I asked my parents, I go, where are we from? And they just go, we don't know. We don't know. We have no way of knowing that.

A. Barthwell: We have no way to figure that out. And I remember going to my teacher and thing, my parents said we don't know. And I grew up in a, my brothers and I grew up in the West suburbs of Chicago. Um, so we were, a lot of kids were Irish, a lot of kids were German, a lot of Greek kids, a lot of Italian kids. Um, and so sort of like, we don't know the, you know, my mother said the best we know is west Africa because that's what we know of were slaves came from and our family came over during slavery. And so my teacher just goes, oh, just pick a country in west Africa that you want to research for this project. But because there had been no like acknowledgement of like the black kids in the class cannot do this project because they never immigrated in the. Most of the majority of black kids where I grew up were families that were descended from slaves. They were not recent. Their families weren't recent immigrants of Africa, the Caribbean. And so, you know, and thinking about Wakanda is this. I was like, now if I was, you know, a nine year old in that class, I would go, well, I'm from Wakanda.

S. Salis: I am Simona salice and humans with today's guest, Lee Barthwell, cofounder of what canned Ican do you think that um, afrofuturism is kind of a vindication of this, like being stripped off the roots and recreating like the future and the culture, at least we've indicating the ability to be able to do so culturally. Him Psychological.

A. Barthwell: Yeah. And I think like the number one act of violence that can be done on a group is to strip them of their future. Like to strip them of images of their future. And you know, you think about things of like infant mortality in black families in America. And you think about black women dying in childbirth, like we're, we're ripping these families of their future. You think about police shootings and police brutality. We're ripping these kids and these adults of their future. We by limiting education where you don't have the tools to imagine your future to participate in industries, that might be the next step for society. We're ripping these people were ripping my people from a future, from their future. So by having these images of people that look like us that are African are distinctly coded is black, appear black, our black. All these things.

A. Barthwell: And being in a futuristic setting, it can. Just to see yourself is huge. Just to see yourself in the present is huge. And then to see yourself in the future or doing things that are futuristic, I think is that next step of like to remind people to remind ourselves that the future is coming, but it cannot and will not exist without black people because we have been the past and we are the present. So there's no reason to believe we wouldn't be the future. And that's just to an affirmation of all that. The future can hold

S. Salis: in, in this view of the future. I think the key of the future is hope to build some fan. That's what is dear to you, but in this case, but you, you are going to use this with your family. How many of you

A. Barthwell: siblings? Me and my older brother Dave and my younger brother Matt, and then I reached out to two of my girlfriends who, um, are event producers and Lisa Beasley and Taylor winton. So two girlfriends of mine. So our team is five people, you know, we're doing this whole with keep reminding people like if the email back takes a minute because there's five of us and we're fun

S. Salis: versus fight. There is no like team for marketing and PR team for marketing and PR is Lisa. She's our media relations but right you are here now organizing this on the verge of getting this, letting this baby out. And uh, if one like 20 years ago when you were a kid, told you, what would you do? What was alleys? Answer to that.

A. Barthwell: I want it to be a psychiatrist. My Dad is a psychiatrist and I just remember being like, oh well my friends always ask me for advice so I'll go do that. And that kind of lasted for a little bit. Um, then there was, you know, to be a fashion designer or to be, you know, being a writer like writing movies or something and um, and then I wanted to be at a, like a teacher and an English teacher or something for awhile, but I kind of have, you know, when I was, that's when you're a kid. And I, I think the first thing that Kinda, I was like, oh, I'm going to take active steps to do this thing was Improv and comedy, which is its own, like non career sometimes. But that was the first day and I was like, okay, I'm going Kinda like devote myself to this.

A. Barthwell: And I really enjoyed theater in high school and I did speech and debate. Um, and then when I got to college I sort of found the Improv and because I was like, I don't want to learn lines if I want to be doing all this homework, I don't want to learn lines for a play. Uh, so I was like, oh, so improv. And then I sort of fell in love with it. One, I think like the best thing about it is it's play and I sort of say it's the one space where you're present and you're honest when like certain, so many other places. Our life we're taught not to be fully present and fully honest. And it, it's fun to be in a space where you can be anything, like there's no limit to what you can create and you just end this. Just how well you sell it to the audience and the audience will come along with you on that journey of whatever you want to create.

A. Barthwell: In my family, we've always loved to make each other laugh and we joke around and, and I also think that living as a person of color, for me specifically living as a black person is an act of satire just all day, every day because we are forced to learn and repeat the views of people that don't like us and we learn how to perform a, the rights and traditions of people that don't like us or that are in charge. And without that ability we would not be able to like get a job. We wouldn't be able to work if we couldn't learn and perform and mimic the views, the views and opinions of others. Um, and then there's a natural culture of mocking and parody and humor. And so sort of that thing of I say no one can play a white person better than a black person.

A. Barthwell: No one can play a man better than a woman knowing can play a straight person better than a gay person because we have to learn how to be in those spaces and understand those people. And then combine that with the natural, you know, playing the dozens and roasting and both saint like you, that's to bad that tire, you know, there's so many things in black culture that we're under and lots of other, you know, cultures of color where it's like they were mocking the colonizers are the white people are the pressers and it became comedy. It became theater tradition. It became all this stuff. So. And then sort of finding it and having a name on it, it's like, oh, this is satire. It's like, Oh shit, I've been doing that my whole life, like,
Speaker 3: shouldn't be a problem. I got to get on stage. And like talking to these white people and like make them like me and then surprise them with a little more truth than they were prepared for it. Like, oh, that's what I've been doing this whole time in. While you should not be forced to live since you ended up with an amazing tool like that, you know, that's why it was so funny and so like so observant and able to pull these things because that's what been having to do forever. I guess, yeah, I guess like those comedians

S. Salis: have more, whether that's always true, even if you were to second city and just again seen in the past 20 years, I think it has been doing like at least for even trying, you know, I'm not, I've not been there long enough or I'm not a black person obviously, but the accent is a but that said there been trying to make an effort but still you can feel that like now the teams are like the companies are a little more balanced in diversity in genders and orientations and all of that. Why are you gone stage the audiences, all the audiences is white, white audience from the suburbs

A. Barthwell: on, on my last night with a touring company. I, you know, you sort of, you make your little speech and you thank everybody and one of the things I did, I go, I want every black woman in here that's not related to me to make some noises and I let it be silent for a full 30 seconds. Yeah, just make them. Just let us know. And I mean, and there's, there is a comfort level that you have when you know you're performing for people that understand you because you can enter that shorthand so much quicker because humor is one of those things where you're constantly signaling who's in and who's out. Like that's one of the functions of laughter. You say something, people laugh, certain people don't. You're signaling your part of my group. You're not part of my group. And by manipulating that you can expose certain things of, you know, I make a joke and only the women laugh and the men don't.

A. Barthwell: It's like that's exposing a gap in something of the men's knowledge or experience. They're not able to connect to the thing that I'm saying this. Making all the women laugh. And so without a balanced and diverse audience, there's a whole chunk of my experience, my history and references that I don't get to use because I have to first educate the white audience to understand what I'm doing and then get them to laugh at it. Like I'm doing two kinds of work immediately and you know, you can just sort of present and so you present these things and it doesn't work and you sort of have to have that conversation of like, did it not work because it wasn't funny or did it not work because I'm in front of a bunch of white people and then like what do I have to do in my work to get white people to like be on board?

A. Barthwell: And it's just like, it's just an extra step and extra ask that we have of the performers of color, um, that we have for gay, Queer Trans performers. You know, we don't ask it like for white women, I, I know that is there in some way, but I think because male, female, like women do this and men do this, it's such a part of our, like, comedic, like language that I don't know if it's there in the exact same way, but it is definitely, you know, doing things and don't, the audience doesn't get that or this is scarier for going to like, you know, touring. You're going to small towns in Wisconsin, Iowa, where the demographics of the town are 90, 95 percent white, like we would go there all the time, so there are certain things that I just, you know, I knew I couldn't say or do on stage if I don't have another black person with me or there's not a black person in the audience, it's just like an, it's an extra ask that we're making of those performers and then you get, you know, you're being. Most of my career I've been directed by white people and I loved them and they were very wonderful and I had great relationships with them, but again, there's that extra step of like they don't intimately understand this thing of course, so it's either. So at some point I have to make it so that a white person understands it before it can even like get onstage and be judged if it's good. Does that make you exhausted? Sometimes, yeah,

S. Salis: because let me make this clear. I am not gonna put it on the same level, but I remember sometimes giving up with my straight friends in high school or in college trying to expect that they would understand something from a lgbt gay, whatever different point of view from straight like what they were and at some point I was like, but then you needed to because I mean it's, it's different from for me because I don't have gay written on my forehead while this King Kohler is there. So he was like, I had like

A. Barthwell: the word gay tattooed on my forehead and I dawn and sometimes there is also a privilege of lake people. It's understanding, and I do this with my students. I teach them, understand what the audience assumes about you. The moment that you step on stage and with that set of assumptions, there's work that you are going to have to do or there's work that you're not going to be able to do or there's going to be an instant trust put in you that your other cast members aren't going to get. You're relatable. You look like their kid. You're from where they're from. You know, you can, you know, you got the references or whatever and so I it, but it's just, I think sometimes we don't, people don't acknowledge that when I step on stage I have a different set of asks that I'm making of the audience and that the audience is making of me.

A. Barthwell: And then we start, then you have to think about how do I live up to or not live up to those assumptions by the audience. And you know, I, I, uh, I grew up in the suburbs. I grew up with a lot of educational privilege. My family, we never had to struggle economically, you know, there were difficult times and moments, but that was never sort of part of my childhood. And so when I step on stage as a black woman and this voice comes out and my set of references comes out of growing up in the suburbs and going to a live, uh, you know, liberal arts, women's college on the east coast, it's not what they're expecting. There is a moment of crushy yeah. Like just in the break the stereotypes and fit, you know, and I joke like sometimes in Improv and sketch they expected all the black women can like Sing Gospel and like that wasn't, I can't, I can't say I didn't go to like a church where that was the musical culture.

A. Barthwell: Um, but, so yeah, there's that thing of like, so then what happens if I don't live up to the expectations and assumptions and stereotypes, the audience as how can I play into them or teach them that that's not who I am. And again, it's like, okay, now I'm doing a whole nother thing. I'm, I'm working with that. And, and the stories that I'm telling our black stories because I'm black and they're my stories, but they're not what a, you know, a mom from skokie who's coming into the city and all she hears about black people in Chicago is shootings on the south side. And I'm in there talking about like the Oak Park Library and like, you know, whatever or the racism and sexism that I've experienced in these different other kind of space that's not like that super overt stuff that is also a challenge in balancing the expectations and assumptions of the audience and you know, there've been times where I felt I have to play up this certain type of blackness and it's like, but that is not authentic to me, that is not.

A. Barthwell: And to, to play that up in an effort to like be blacker is closing in what the narrative of blackness looks like and restricting it to things that might be stereotypical or focusing on the tragedy. And so now I'm creating like tragedy porn of the black experience for a white audience that doesn't understand that I grew up in the suburbs and went to school with their kid. You know, I went to school with kids that are probably their kids age and. But they don't. That's again, balancing that. I think it's just an extra piece of work and extra ask

S. Salis: mean that is not there for my white counterparts
Speaker 4: on EMC, Mona Ellis. This is humans. You can listen to this conversation again on your favorite podcast APP or visiting human don't ist. Today's guest is Lee Barthwell, performer, writer and cofounder of. What can the con.

S. Salis: I'll just put it like this to explain to myself, you're playing with an extra rule. You have the game of doing a job or the game of living your life and you have an extra ruled that other people don't have even in doing something, but you are turning it into a tool like you're turning like you were talking about the divergence of gap between men and women and the expectation of what they see and then what they find relatable or not and you go like. Once they know that consciously, then I can use it and understand what I want from an audience and how do I want to communicate with them. And you also teach that to students. I teach,

A. Barthwell: I teach my students of color. Like there. You know what the stereotypes are. You've heard them, they've been said to you, you now own them, and that is a tool that only you can use because you are an expert, and I started teaching my students, you know, playing with race, playing with gender on stage, the. They're all tools, but some of them are cranes and steam rollers and Proton colliders and some of them are screwdrivers and hammers and screwdrivers and hammers. We all can pick up, but when it comes to the cranes and the Proton colliders, my students of color, my female students, my gay students there, they're born at power drill. You know they're walking in with a power drill set of, of knowledge. They have that license and so it's letting them know these are. You can start experimenting with that. I got to get everybody else up to power drill and like helping them see that this is a gift to them, that their gender, their race, their sexuality is not a liability stage.

A. Barthwell: It's a gift. It's a tool that only they can use and then teaching the white students, here's how you support your classmates who are women, who are people of color, who are queer people. Here's how you support that. They want to use these tools but you're not there yet. You got to learn how to support that. And part of that is sometimes teaching those white kids like you're going to play a racist because if somebody wants to do a scene about racism and you have a, you know, an Asian woman in your class or a Latino kid, like they might need somebody to play the racist. So how do you play that? I can love this. Your right. Or is that if all the women in the class want to do a scene about feminism, one of the guys might have to play a misogynist and knowing and teaching those students, and this is sort of more at the upper levels, but like we don't have to save or redeem the racist or misogynist in the scene because the hero isn't that person.

A. Barthwell: We can relate to them because we know people like them, but we should not make them the hero. They can be relatable. They don't have to be likable, they can be a person, but we don't have to humanize them. Teaching those students. Also the white students or the male students like how to do that, how to play those bad people is, it's a another bit. It's like probably the first big ask that might be made of them beyond. You're going to get on stage and talk without a script. And so wanting to sort of help them with that, uh, is something that I'm like, I don't know if we address enough because so many of the other audiences are white and a lot of our teachers are white or directors or way other writers are white. So there's this urge to like humanize or make them likable, likable, racist.

A. Barthwell: The likable misogynists we were, shoot, we're humanizing the people that voted for trump when they knew what they were voting for. When that may not be the like, I don't know if that's the way to convert people's hearts and minds, but humanizing, making people of Color, women, Trans people, Queer people, heroes might do a bit more and that's going to make the women, the people of Color, the Queer Trans people, make them feel seen and make them feel appreciated and that they are contributing rather than having to do the scene that you pitched about racism that is now about making the racist, likable or making them have the transformation

S. Salis: he's in. This is going to be very simplistic. I'm going to say he's in. He's in just an excuse. The the has has been used as a tool to manipulate the difference in rate, especially the difference in race. It's just it is very real for people to understand that there is an actual consequences the real world, but at the high level isn't that

A. Barthwell: a very simple tool used to divide people on the basis of some fit that doesn't really matter. One of. I think they sort of say we can be different if the difference doesn't matter. Okay. A giraffe and a goldfish or different, but we don't use the difference between those two things to discriminate, to discriminate, to make moral judgments to make one better than the other. They just are different things. They just are different things, you know, we, we can look at people saying living in New York and living in la are different and there's culture in those cities. There's a rights and traditions and norms and both of those places. Um, but we don't sit here and say that that's cause for discrimination or that's bad or we have to make one more likely other. And so for me it's like I don't know what my blackness has to do with anybody else.

A. Barthwell: Boy, does anybody else care? And it sounds naive probably, especially for a person that doesn't have that, but that is true with that. That is true with Trans P. Blake did Blake, I don't understand. Like it's just literally, I don't want to sound like it's this person wants to do something with their body. How does it at all? I think what makes people really uncomfortable is when marginalized people feel pride. That makes people really, really uncomfortable because for a lot of reasons, and one is just, if you were taught that this group of people is below you, beneath you, they're not fully human, why would they have pride and you don't, so you don't understand that if I'm taught my whole life that gay people are bad, gay people are different, I should be afraid or ashamed of them and they feel pride. Why do they do that?

A. Barthwell: And that confusion turns to anger really quickly if you are in power. Confusion turns to anger really quickly. And then I also think black people specifically specifically black people have like we're able to constantly define and change and shape our traditions, our cultures, our norms are rites of passage because they were stripped of us. Like I wish I knew more about specifically where my family was from so that I could reconnect to a lot of those cultures and traditions. And like I said about that third grade class, like bringing a food. Like one of the things was like bringing a food from where you're from. I'm from Illinois, from Chicago. Um, and I think seeing black people define their culture and make choices about it and say this is a thing that defines us and is important to us when white culture in making itself the norm has made itself the default and made itself universal like that can be really confusing and scary for people and black people able to look at how white culture, black people, people of color scholars, whatever, looking at how whiteness was created and constructed to maintain a status quo, the status quo to maintain power and then marginalized people looking at it and being like, this is white culture, this is what white people do.

A. Barthwell: We're going to generalize you the way that you've generalized us. And not even generalizing in a bad way, but just saying like, this is the culture, these are the values. These are the norms that we see repeated and white people being like, I thought we didn't have. I thought it was just normal and that. And again, that questioning that defensiveness from white people turns to anger really quickly. When they could just be chill. They could just be chill and like let us have our stuff and the same way that I see, you know that St Patrick's Day is a specific. It's an Irish thing was St Patrick's day for everybody. Why do I got to participate in your St Patrick's Day nonsense when I am perfectly fine not wearing green, being at my house, whatever. And it's like there couldn't be a better like representate of like I remember one year I went out with St Patrick's day and I didn't have green and I got pinched by a stranger.

A. Barthwell: Like is that not a better metaphor of like you didn't assimilate to this thing that we told you was important so now we're going to like touch you and like, oh what if I did the same in any other instance of if someone didn't participate or understand some black tradition, I'd be a crazy person and if I have to know and I just have to everything of these other hot these other holidays, if I have to know when St Patrick's Day is so I don't get pinched in the street. You y'all need to step up. Oh, shut up.

A. Barthwell: That's a lot. We carry, we carry a lot. One more thing before we go. You also worked for, and I'm scared of asking you this cards against humanity. I did. I did work for cards against humanity. What did you do? Are you one of the people? How do you ride the car? Do you run what you do? I was in the writer's room. I wrote, I have cards and the Scifi. AIPAC, the mass effect pack. The college peck, the period pack. We have Scifi and college right here. I'm probably forgetting a couple, but starting with the PSI Phi and mass effect pack. And then what is the process? Uh, so we basically had to chew on your own. You had to generate 40 cards a week. It looks a lot like 40 white cards are blinkered. Let's explain. White cards are the field. The, the black cards are the questions or the blanks and the white cards are. The answers are what fills in the blanks. For example, I was given the pride pack fest in Chicago and I pulled a, a black card right away and he was like, we are here than blank, which was supposed to be, we're queer, we're here to stay and get used to it. And then I picked the white card and he was older fitness gaze. The result we are here, we're all their fitness case. We're here to stay.

A. Barthwell: So you wrote, we wrote thing 20 black cards and 20 white cards a week. Um, and then in our meetings we would basically go through our big collection of all these cards that people had generated over the week. We would test them out, we pumped them up, we'd rewrite them, we would write in our meeting. So sometimes in your meeting you might generate as a group another 50 or 100 cards and then you would go off on our own. So again, you might generate another 20 to 50 cards on your own in a meeting and then yeah, we would test them out. We would have to go play test the card sometimes. So we would have like all of our ideas. And you'd go take them to, you find a group of people. It's like you have to get six people together. You'd buy them pizza and then we would watch them play a game and we'd have to take notes.

A. Barthwell: Do you think you've your money to buy the pizza? So let me recap this job. I didn't know how much it pays. You get to provide health one liner jokes hash. Have some jokes shared with a room full of comedians. Yup. Then your job is to go play a game, buy some pizza and go back to tell the jokes again and then tell them, well this job work in this job. Didn't. Okay. And that pays bills. It attempted to, tends to towards some mathematical simulation of multiple things. It pays half of the Internet and health of the bay. You know, there's still pizza inn, Ellie. Thank you so much. What can decode is going to be from August, uh, August third to August fifth in Chicago at the Hilton are still tickets even though you sold thousands. Yes. There are still tickets available. We're expecting. We're expecting walk ups were prepared for that. But yet your ticket in advance. Okay. Thank you so much for being a guest today on humans. Thank you.
Speaker 5: Alibaba is the cofounder of what can the con, a celebration of afrofuturism and black culture in a society to street to African Americans have their pass. She's a writer, performer and comedian teaching her students how to use Siri with ips on gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation as a tool of growth for themselves and for their audiences.
Speaker 5: Homans is the weekly podcast off the homelessness and Independent Media Project for technologically aware, contemporary humanists, sharing thoughtful in diverse opinions to challenge conventional ideas and we the broader meaning of being human. You can listen to a new episode every Thursday on whom ISD and on your favorite podcast app or subscribe to the Sunday newsletter. It text only curated list of mindful links to interesting articles that you wish a friend who have shared with you. All of this is free, but it takes hundreds of hours and dollars per month to make to keep sharing new content indefinitely. I need your support. You can donate now on http://patreon.com/thehoomanist.