Monday, February 20, 2017

Lessons from West



I was introduced to Heben Negatu via her podcast, Another Round. I haven't been an avid follower of the podcast, though I enjoyed it. I guess I am spoiled by the production quality of  This American Life (which, I admit, is actually a radio program with a sizable budget and staff, so shouldn't be judged as a typical 'podcast'), and 99% Invisible, that I somehow can't seem to latch on to conversational podcasts, like Another Round.

Anyhow, back to the video above. She makes some very interesting observations. She starts off joking that the white people in the room may find her talk difficult to relate as it will not center around them. On the other hand she notes that brown people spend their entire lives empathizing with white society. This was recently made evident in South Africa where white South Africans were found to be absolutely incapable of watching popular black shows because they just don't get it. On the other hand, black South Africans can watch popular white shows because even if they come from culturally different origins, they can put themselves in the shoes of a person from another background. Why the difference? I don't know. I will post a link if I find the poll.

Another point Heben men that I really liked was around how "blackness" and explaining and defending it at work is draining. It takes away from your time to focus on your work. It also takes away from your "brand" -- for every other time your name is mentioned for good work, your name will also mentioned for arguing for black causes. I.e., you'll be diluting your "marketing", where the latter cause doesn't help advance your career (it may very well retard it). To have to work twice as hard as your colleagues, only to dilute how frequently your effectiveness is communicated upwards is a waste.

To top it all, she weaved all her lessons into Kanye's lyrics. Ha!