Join us as we discuss the impact of discrimination and victimization on the LGBTQ+ community, how intersectionality plays a role in acceptance, and the effects of family rejection.
Ian Siljestrom, Safe Schools Associate Director for Equality Florida helps us unpack the disproportionate outcomes which impact the LGBTQ+ community and how societal systems and families can become more intentional about affirming LGBTQ+ youth.
That’s a Wrap: Extremism, Hate, and Where
We Go From Here
Sn. 2, Ep. 8
[00:01 – 05:13]
[Intro music plays and fades out]
Noelle: What’s uuuup!
Miranda: Welcome to ‘The Unpacked Project.’
Noelle: We're your hosts, I’m Noelle…
Miranda: And I’m Miranda.
Noelle: We're here to explore all things social justice, it's through casual conversations, interviews and storytelling that we hope to inspire others to take action towards a more compassionate and equitable world.
Miranda: Because honestly, it kind of sucks here sometimes.
Noelle: For real, we can do better people.
Miranda: Alright, let's start unpacking.
[Intro music picks up and fades out]
Miranda: Heeeey Noelle.
Noelle: Hi Miraaaanda.
Laughter between hosts
Miranda: Hey, everybody. So, we’re back with our final episode this season and really we've covered a lot from extremism and the alt-right, white nationalism and white Christian identity and the role social media has played in spreading false information, to peace building and how we combat hate at the community level. We've covered a lot, like I said in just 8 short weeks and while vastly different from season one, we've continued to build upon the whys and the how’s of structural racism in America and the ways that it continues to inform and influence lives differently.
Noelle: Yeah. I mean this season really taught us the importance of understanding those varied nuances between extremist groups, you know, information that better tells us how to engage in counterterrorism work to dismantle these entities. So, we talked about mainstream media, the need for Lisa, you know, mentioned the fairness doctrine to end opinion-based journalism, fake news, so many things that are affecting society right now. And then we talked to Damon, the role of Christianity has played within white nationalism and then most importantly, you know, just kind of exploring within these narratives that communities can band together to fight hate, systemic racism and bigotry, like really at a local level just trying to empower communities to know that we can do this together. So, it's really a hope that we hold for all communities one day and part of why we're doing this podcast. So, I think it was great that we ended with Patrice that she really had that message after we did so much learning this season.
Miranda: Yeah. And I mean and it was so easy just listening to her, she's such a storyteller and I think, we kind of ended, well we tried to infuse that into season one as well like these actionable steps which I kind of talked about in that interview with Patrice as well. And like you said really it's that hope amongst others that drives us to do this work every day, we work to dismantle white supremacy through education, dialogue and providing actionable steps towards an anti-racist and really an equitable world. But, we also can't continue to do this without support from our community, right? We talk about that often, next season we're moving towards a no season kind of vibe, we can just really focus more on current issues that's something I know we've talked about getting into. It'll also give us the ability to go live more often and really just talk about current issues, cover more information within racial and social justice and most important to us build our equity, diversity and inclusion trainings. So, we continue to grow. Noelle and I ask, if at any point you've appreciated our podcast, the content, the interviews or simply if you just want to show us love that you donate through our Vemo which is @theunpackedproject or you click the link in our Instagram bio @the_unpackedproject, so that'd be super helpful as we continue this work. So thank you.
Noelle: No one would believe how many times we've re-recorded our intro over THE vs THEE
Miranda: Thee underscore unpacked project, it’s wrong again, shit! Like once I remember something wrong like that's it.
Noelle: I know and then we continue making the mistakes just like, no. But yeah, I mean the need for more education and resources is really important, especially the world that we're living in today, honestly reflects that people are out there and consuming all this information on social media and in the news and it's like how do you navigate these really important things that are happening with another mass shooting that happened in Indianapolis, we have the murders of Dante wright, Adam Toledo like all in this week. There's just been so much that's happening, it's so overwhelming and just on the heels of everything right now, really needing to get facts out there, resources out there, showing people like what we can do to show up and just be a part of doing this work. So, I can't help but go back to the stats that we shared in the beginning of Lisa’s interview from her article QAnon and Mass Digital Radicalization: Peace Building and the American Insurgency. I’m going to actually read them again because I think that it's just important for us to reflect on them again. So, according to a Reuters poll, 13 percent of the U.S. population supported the siege at the Capital and I think like also just kind of thinking about this kind of juxtaposition to all these arguments of our Black and brown people that are being shot and killed for not complying or these ridiculous arguments that people try to justify these horrific things that are happening.
[05:14 – 10:34]
Miranda: Yeah. Oh, sorry, I read yesterday I think it… yesterday was the hundredth day since the siege, right? So, it's like how much, how far we have come since then or really how many steps we have taken backwards.
Noelle: Well, that's what I feel like! I mean, we know these things have been happening, right? But, I’m just like every day I wake up and I’m like what is going on like this, feels like, it's just so overwhelming. So that one and then the other one--as of September 2020 nearly 60 percent of Republicans reportedly believed in QAnon, including newly elected members of congress.
In August the Wall Street Journal reported that the first five months of the Covid19 pandemic saw a 600 percent increase in membership in the 10 largest QAnon Facebook groups and I also just think of like what you just posted about how many hate groups exist right now. And while it might be decreasing just like how much is going on out there, in terms of hateful movements and even what Patrice mentioned about how the under reporting is going on for hate crimes like we don't even, what we see is not even this much of it.
Miranda: Yeah exactly. Well, yeah and I had been reading that, I think, you know, because they're going through the trials right now for the Capital attack and what they're finding is actually a lot of the folks that they arrested and have been charged are like from cities that typically voted for Biden. And so we think of these like metropolitan areas that are more diverse, cultured, kind of open or liberal, or at least skewing liberal and, it's everywhere, right? Like someone had just responded to that post you just talked about and was like ‘even in California there's hate groups?!’ like I’m so surprised and there's a ton in the Bay Area, it's like one of the most liberal places in the country, like it's everywhere, hate is everywhere and it's infused in everything that we do our lives completely. And I think just people really need to understand the severity of it and how deep it runs, you know?
Noelle: Yeah, well… and if we're not doing this work, one of our episodes was kind of like hiding in plain sight, right? Like these groups that exist that are out there, that are either like blending or we're just not paying attention and they're getting these passes with what's happening and I think the more we can empower communities to kind of be more sensitive and more aware of what's happening then hopefully we can start making the change. I know that's a lot of what we're here for right, these are a lot of the reasons why we're doing this work and I’m just reminded of something that we discussed with Damon actually, recently it really hit home for me, the need to really start shifting how we have these conversations about extremism and the need to start paying more attention to how just like regular ass people with these kind of, you know, these white nationalist beliefs get the privilege of being ignored because they're maybe not out there storming the capital or blowing up buildings. And so, I just remember talking about this… I think it was the beginning of the season, when I said that like white people sort of detach from this sort of thing and it's like well I’m not in the KKK, I’m not racist, like I’m not that bad and Damon really mentioned how these extremist groups can distract us from that everyday racism that exists, he talked about these colonial beliefs, right? That people walk around with that are extremely damaging and obviously systemically oppressive. So, I was like yes, I remember him, saying it's just like I’m done with white people getting passes and I’m done with us, kind of even if you're not partaking in some of the overt racism that's happening. I’ve said this in many episodes before but I feel like if you're silent, you're complicit like it's just if we're not standing up to it you're a part of it. I could think back to when I literally got Goosebumps, so when Damon was discussing how we would, he would reimagine doing this work and he started off by saying that we all need to start with listening which, I mean, I value obviously like a psychologist, right? Like my job is listening but I think it's really important to like tune in to what's being said and the content of what people are saying on both sides, like not just I agree with it. But, on both, all sides of it, so let's just practice listening and let's take a listen back to what he said.
Damon: I think it starts with listening, listening to those people who are most affected by the history of racism, the way that racism has been institutionalized and the rhetoric’s that normalized those racist practices in our institutions and render them invisible to people who don't feel their effects. So, for example I was in a discussion about diversity training and I was struck that, that you had people being pulled saying this is something that we need in our institution and then directly somebody who is a part of the institution saying I really need you to hear me when I talk about these things that this is needed and I was struck about how little impact that seemed to have because some in the institution maybe had a different perspective which is totally fine.
[10:35 – 15:34]
Damon: But I think, it's an ethical question and I get this from Judith Butler's, Giving an Account of Oneself, that the fundamental ethical question is not what you're comfortable with in the sense of like what can I do but what you're willing to risk. The big ethical question is are you willing to risk all the things that you thought were being unraveled and engaging with the need of someone who's saying I’m hurting and I need help.
Noelle: So, when I listen to that, I’m just like this is why I’m doing this, I felt like he summarized so well and eloquently like what I’ve always kind of thought, especially for white people like what are you willing to risk, what are you willing to challenge and stand up for when you hear and you really listen. Especially like I said thinking of this week, right? And all these things I mean we talk about George Floyd but there are just so many instances of this violence. And like what don't people get, like I don't get what we're still having this conversation about, it just blows my mind and it just makes me want to do this work even more.
Miranda: Yeah, well and it's like as I always say we write our scripts, right? So, I’m in here reading your notes and I’m like oh my god just the facts that people don't get it, right? Like it drives me crazy to my core and especially there's been so much right now with, like school districts and schools pushing back on like critical race theory and ant anti-racism being taught in schools and so I definitely share your sentiment. It's even on Instagram in needing to listen to both sides; we follow folks from the other side, right? And it's like what are the conversations that they're having? What are the political views that they have? What do they care about? Because really it's not just this right and left, right? It's a continuum, it's a spectrum and people fall all across it, right? And so I think it's important like you said, really to listen to the other side and so many of our interviews really have and it's funny that you kind of said that, so many of our interviews really have touched on listening, it's been like a theme, I’ve kind of realized between season one and season two, she just talked about it in our last episode from not in our town, she mentions racism and bigotry being a public health issue and that the harm is understudied. And so when we get it out in the open, in our communities when we make a place and we say not in our town that we stand for safe inclusive communities when we begin that process of building a set of shared values in our town then. And then you start taking these steps right and you really start listening to people about what that means, what's unsafe for people, what are the places that are unsafe, what does that look like, right? Because often times we just don't know, I recall back to our first episode with Dr. Williams, hey Ashley, and so she spoke of listening to early educators if we want to learn what actually works best for our young children. And then Dr. Brutus, she mentioned giving voice to and listening to immigrant families to find out what their hurdles, like what hurdles schools are putting in place and I’m not necessarily intentionally but just because there's a language barrier they just don't know, right? And so giving people voice and listening, right? It all boils down to that and so like for me that's why it's so important to continue this work because we have something… really we have something important to say and I think a lot of people have been very receptive to that and they know that they need to be listening, so back kind of related. But, back to the Damon quote, we often talk about, okay so all these things we're listening but then what are we doing, right? And so we come across education resources daily, we learn, and then what, right? So, for us in many ways, then what is this podcast and then moving into equity, diversity, and inclusion training development but what are some other things you're doing differently because of what you've learned this season.
Noelle: I think there have been a few things for me, I’ve said this before but I was just so surprised to learn about the nuances between all the extremists and far right groups. Do we talk about bias and understanding kind of our own that we have? And that's definitely one of mine, like all these far right people are not taking, like it's done like everything.
Miranda: Goodbye, shut the door. Conversation over.
Noelle: And they fit right in there and that's what I think of them but that's not the case. Like I remember Mark's interview was our first one and I remember just sitting there being like oh man like you have a lot to learn and I’m always seeking to learn, I’m always seeking to understand, so that we can better address these issues because I don't want to be out there being ignorant too, right? We need to practice what we preach and even though it doesn't make any of it, right? Those are values I don't agree with, like we're out here trying to shift from and like Damon said like let's not just talk about extremism in the way that we traditionally do, right? But, I mean those are values and ideologies I clearly don’t get down with.
[15:35 – 20:24]
Noelle: But I still need to understand them and I still need to be able to connect to the facts and understand where they're coming from because none of this work is going to go anywhere if we're not trying to, like see the big picture.
Noelle: Even when I think of, I think it was the Dante murder and people started posting about the history of the town and the racism that--I mean we know racism is embedded with the police everywhere, right? But people started posting about the town and the history of the town and just like understanding how these things are cultivated and where all these different groups are at in their thinking because then I think it helps us kind of do that work, of not necessarily finding common ground because I think I’m way past that at this point. I think there are some people like we are not going to be able to find common ground, right? But in terms of kind of challenging some of these things and understanding where the barriers are so that we could be strategic and what our work is and just understanding how we can address it. So that was definitely one piece just reflectively for me, like I remember literally sitting in mark's interview like Noelle, you need to look, you just got caught, right? Like having this thinking so that was one, definitely having expanded my research this season, we talked about how extremism wasn't in our wheelhouse, really like at all, season one we were more confident, it was--we're in the education field, we've done restorative practice work, like there was a lot of things that we felt comfortable with but this season wasn't so much of that and then we learned so much through our interviews that we had and just different recommendations we had. I’ve just gone down like rabbit holes of different content and materials and all just the various intersections of the work-white nationalism, Christianity, peace building and community work. Day one of the recommendations that Damon had, I wanted to bind the book which I’m still waiting on from amazon but about…
Miranda: They've been taking longer though, I’m like, what happened to two day prime that I paid for, why are you telling me it's going to be four days.
Noelle: I don't know.
Miranda: But I also don't want to admit that I’m still using Amazon.
Noelle: Oh, yeah.
Miranda: You just told on us, damn it.
Noelle: Listen,it was to buy this book, okay!
Miranda: Edit it out, edit it out!
Noelle: But no, it was about like how, like Black Christianity and how they struggle with God and justice and all these different things that are happening.
Noelle: So just like a lot of research that's come and then the other piece for me is just really trying to get out into the community more, we've talked about this between us like really wanting to make those connections, it was part of what we did the book drive with and it's just a value that we have wanting to get out into the community and do this work. But, to quote Patrice, she's like local’s where it's at and top-down change should obviously be mandatory for these issues, it sends a message for our government like Patrice said she sort of frames it, right? And there's like a firm stance on just issues of humanity but we can't wait for that as a community. I think the more of us that band together and empower one another to stand up to hate and oppression and racism. the more likely that we will make societal progress, so I was like well who wants to start and not in our town group, I’m like texting Miranda, like do you want to start this group, I looked it up there the closest one is Newport Richey like…
Miranda: Okay, I was going to say… I was going to ask you I’m like… isn't it?
Noelle: So, who's with me? I mean let's read, I told you I want my sign.
Miranda: Oh my god! I think you can just order one without.
Noelle: I can and I’m going to put it out and just maybe see what happens I don't know.
Miranda: Yeah, so for those listening Noelle like has 18 billion ideas and I’m like slow down, slow down, like we're going to a no season kind of vibe, so we can like refocus and she's like let's do this and let's do this and let's start not our town group but all jokes aside and in all fairness, I think I told you when I went onto their website to just look through it. I was like I would like to start a group here like that I mean it speaks to me, right? And I think a lot of the work that we've done with youth and just like justice within like classrooms and equity and education like and building community that really means a lot to me. So, yeah I do think that Tampa bay is due for one and really we've spoken as well, we've heard way too many questionable things here. I mean like I… so it's not California New York…
[20:25 – 24:16]
Noelle: Well, no I feel like that's like where this podcast… I mean obviously came out of George Floyd, right? But when we think about just transplants being here in Florida, I mean, I think we were both appalled at like things in our daily lives that we were hearing and it just…it’s hard to make sense of like it's…
Noelle: Maybe if we still… if you were in California, I mean obviously we wouldn't know each other but like regardless like when we lived in places where it was, we had more of the same mindset with people, you kind of take it for granted and you're here, you're in a place like this and you're like wait like…
Noelle: Everyone time out.
Miranda: Yeah, everyone okay. So, no I don't know, I mean, I do admittedly feel compelled to get involved in politics like at a community level, so who knows you might be on to something.
Noelle: Miranda on city council.
Miranda: No, God no. I can't! Look, I get so nervous just when we start our podcast, I’m like don’t stumble over your words. There's no way.
Noelle: I’ll be in the back with your que cards.
Miranda: I’m like I can’t see, look but I guess we'll see what's in store for us during our… not two seasons, so…
Noelle: Yeah and our message for season two was that we were really trying to call people in rather than call people out and I thought that it was so timely that on our last interview with Patrice, she mentioned how can we push and pull at the same time which really spoke to me in terms of our goals, needing to get information out there, push people to expand their minds, learn new perspectives, maybe we start doing work in the community and also start pushing some of the power sources to really become change agents with us also just in order to do this work you have to be able to pull in too, right? Like we're pushing people out of their comfort zones but you have to be able to also pull in. So, how can we foster empathy, understanding? How can we build connections together so that we can become more inclusive and more equitable communities for everybody. So, I’m really excited for what we're headed into, I don't… Miranda and I, like on these breaks, she says I have a lot of ideas but I’m sorry I get like the 2 a.m., text messages of all your ideas.
Miranda: 11:30, maybe 12:30 okay.
Noelle: Well, depending on the night, yeah.
Miranda: So what about this, what about this?
Noelle: So, I’m excited to see where that goes and I think a big struggle of ours was always like having all this content that we wanted to talk about but then there's all these current events going on and we want to be able to address it all. So I’m really excited for where that's going to go and being able to connect more with our audience and our listeners and just kind of continue to do this work and continue learning together.
Miranda: So, thank you all so much for joining us for our last episode of season two, catch us on Instagram and we'll see you soon.
Noelle: And don't forget YouTube, it’s new this season!
Miranda: Oh, yaas!
Noelle: Alright, bye everyone, see you later.
Noelle: Show The Unpacked Project some love and be sure to; like, subscribe and review our podcast, you can also check us out on Instagram @the_unpackedproject.
Miranda: And if you enjoyed today's episode, visit our website at theunpackedproject.com where you can make a donation that supports the research production and operating costs of this work.
Noelle: Shout out to all of our listeners who unpacked with us today.
Miranda: See you next week.