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Michael's Servant 07-20-2016 11:01 AM

78: Black Brunch
 
Elsa Waithe and Michael Khalili debate the effects of the Black Brunch movement.



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mr slug 07-24-2016 10:12 PM

It seemed like Chemda and Elsa misinterpreted Michael's point as if Michael was suggesting that direct action shouldn't cause people to feel threatened in any way at all (ie their perceptions/mindset/way of life/income, etc) but of course that has to happen for any meaningful change to occur, and Michael never disagreed with that. He was just saying, don't make people worry about their own safety in the process because that's detrimental to your cause.

Chemda's right, both direct action and legislative change are necessary and valuable. Elsa's right that getting up in people's faces does have a real, immediate impact and that's important, but Michael's also right that to ensure that the changes that are made become permanent, they have to be implemented through legislative change.

Michael offered excellent, articulate arguments but also made Elsa feel attacked and invalidated with some poorly chosen words and unnecessary insults. I suspect Elsa left frustrated, which is a shame because she was making interesting and important points too.

All three people here are on the same side but got caught up arguing about the best way to achieve the changes they want made. Any change in the right direction is a good thing, as long as you don't make people concerned for their physical safety in the process.

zappbrannigan 07-28-2016 10:52 PM

Michael, c'mon. You're going to bury your head in your Eggs Benny because someone stood in front of a door? :confused:

AlyssaN 08-02-2016 05:08 PM

A thought that I kept having when the idea of perceived threat came up . . . the perception of threat has so so so much to do with the social context of the time and the stereotypes that people hold.

I believe that given the context of the South during the civil rights movement, the diner patrons likely perceived sit-in participants as potentially threatening. Their perception did not make it a reality, their fear was a symptom of misconceptions and a belief that black people couldn't really be non-violent.

Just a thought . . .

littlp 08-02-2016 09:10 PM

I think that maybe part of the point of the perceived threat is to make others feel a possible smidgeon of what people of color feel on a daily basis when encountering authority figures-except the white patrons are lucky that the protesters don't mean them harm and they luck out...much more than people of color.

Michael's argument about why blocking the road was weak...my concern about the road being blocked is it preventing actual emergency vehicles to get to where they need to go. That kind of hold up could cause people to die and I'm not ok with that on either side of the argument.

I felt like Elsa shut down at one point due to feeling like she was constantly being interrupted...this could just be my perception.

It seems like the only way things get done/changed is through anger and protesting. Campaign zero has an excellent strategy laid out with actual policies they want to see in place and examples of it working.

I applaud Michael for asking about specifics as to what Chemda and Elsa are looking for in terms of changes. We need specific, measurable goals. Campaign zero does an excellent job in laying it out clearly.


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stratwill 08-05-2016 01:24 AM

Partial trancript of the original KATG episode:
Elsa: Violence doesn't have to be hurting somebody. I mean I think a protest could be violent without hurting a single thing you know. You've seen Black Brunch where people come into these fancy brunch and dinner spots and we disrupt your lunch.
Chemda: Is that violent?
Elsa: It's definitely aggressive. It's definitely aggressive tactics.
...
Keith: How do you disrupt it?
...
Elsa: The Black Brunch or disruptions like that, what my group tends to do, well when I was with them is we have what I like to call teachings where we will highlight one specific victim of police brutality and then present the cases, you know the facts around the case. So that a lot of people don't know that when Eric Garner was choked to death he didn't have a single cigarette on him.
...
Chemda: So what are you doing at the brunch with the information?
Elsa: We, we bring these facts to the people.
...
Chemda: Do you stand in the middle of the restaurant?
Elsa: We come to the middle of the restaurant. We come to the door. We don't let anybody in or let anybody out.
Chemda: Oh, I see. Ok.
...
Keith: But you are stopping people from leaving, right?
Elsa: I mean if you want to leave you'll leave. But we're going to stand by the door.
Chemda: Ok so you're intimidating people? By standing, well, you're standing by the door and you're coming in.
Elsa: Being black is very intimidating in and of itself. So a bunch of people coming into your restaurant when they're not invited I'm sure is intimidating.
Keith: It's hard to say if you're intimidating me. I'm just trying to leave.
Elsa: You can leave. You can leave. I'm going to stand here, but you can leave.
...
Michael: ... You know that by standing by the door the implication is: I'm not going to let you leave or you're going to have to confront me to leave.
Elsa: Sure, whatever. But that doesn't hurt anybody.


Michael asked at the end of this episode what people thought his point of view was.

1st: Blocking the door is counter-productive because it implies a threat.
2nd: Black Brunch is an ineffective circle jerk for the benefit of the participants feeling good about themselves. Voting and changing laws is what matters.

Then he was drawn into arguing about whether direct action or working within the system was best. The discussion became "either or" rather than either side acknowledging that both could be useful. (Chemda tried to make this point several times without much success. Elsa did as well at the beginning, but then argued against Michael so strenuously about working in the system that her earlier discussion about some people not being suited for direct action seems minimized).

While I have some sympathy for Michael wanting to keep the argument narrowly on the implied threat of the door standing, it would probably have been a boring hour if that had been all that was discussed.

Random observations:
Elsa and Chemda repeatedly threw up straw men, exaggerating or misconstruing Michael's argument and then arguing against the exaggeration.

Elsa seemed to take a lot Michael's criticism of her activism tactics as a personal attack. Sometimes Michael did the same.

Elsa seemed to react in a dismissive manner rather than engaging in the argument as time went on. Michael interrupted a lot. (I am a straight white male interrupter. I struggle with this. I can imagine that a queer black female who has undoubtedly experienced being interrupted repeatedly her entire life by straights, whites, and men might become somewhat dismissive in an argument.)

The biggest issue I take with Michael's argument is the lack of empathy. He was arguing big picture abstractions of working within the system while Elsa was talking about the immediate effect of the current system on the individuals who are coerced and oppressed by the system. He may have had some valid points about how technology is improving the system slowly. For someone in Michael's position, (affluent, educated, not black or hispanic) it may be fast enough. But he is ignoring what it might feel like if you're poor and black.

Additionally, one of the big complaints I've heard from female activists is how often men come and tell them how they are doing their activism wrong. Elsa might have a stronger reaction in light of how often this sort of thing happens.

Chemda seemed to willfully ignore the difference between slowing traffic on an ordinary bridge or highway versus the airport on Christmas Eve. There's an enormous difference between thousands of people losing thousands of dollars and disrupting their holidays and thousands of people getting home late from work on an average Wednesday in June. You may think both are justified, but to suggest that there is no real difference is ridiculous.

Michael did a good job of trying to pin down Elsa and Chemda on specifics regarding how to replace or fix "the system". Elsa had some good responses specific to police violence, but neither her or Chemda presented any real big picture ideas that Michael was asking them for.

I totally had a great recent example of direct action working recently, but I have forgotten it.

A question for Michael relating to the original narrow scope of the argument: If a Black Brunch happened with no one at the door, would you call it counter-productive, merely ineffective, or beneficial?

MichaelApproved 08-07-2016 03:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mr slug (Post 854247)
It seemed like Chemda and Elsa misinterpreted Michael's point as if Michael was suggesting that direct action shouldn't cause people to feel threatened in any way at all (ie their perceptions/mindset/way of life/income, etc) but of course that has to happen for any meaningful change to occur, and Michael never disagreed with that. He was just saying, don't make people worry about their own safety in the process because that's detrimental to your cause.

Thanks! Changing the status-que is scary and someone will be frightened whenever the system is changed. However, frightening someone shouldn't be an intended part of the process.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mr slug (Post 854247)
Chemda's right, both direct action and legislative change are necessary and valuable. Elsa's right that getting up in people's faces does have a real, immediate impact and that's important, but Michael's also right that to ensure that the changes that are made become permanent, they have to be implemented through legislative change.

I would add that getting in people's faces is important. However, I would get into the face of those in power, not those I want to rally behind my cause.

I say that with the understanding that the term "getting in people's face" is aggressive in nature.

I would want to get in front of those that I want to rally behind my cause, not get in their faces.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mr slug (Post 854247)
Michael offered excellent, articulate arguments but also made Elsa feel attacked and invalidated with some poorly chosen words and unnecessary insults. I suspect Elsa left frustrated, which is a shame because she was making interesting and important points too.

I'm curious which part you thought was insulting to Elsa. I would like to apologize to her, if I was insulting.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mr slug (Post 854247)
All three people here are on the same side but got caught up arguing about the best way to achieve the changes they want made. Any change in the right direction is a good thing, as long as you don't make people concerned for their physical safety in the process.

Agreed.

MichaelApproved 08-07-2016 03:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zappbrannigan (Post 854323)
Michael, c'mon. You're going to bury your head in your Eggs Benny because someone stood in front of a door? :confused:

That's kind of the heart of my disagreement with the tactics used. Blocking someone's exit doesn't make them receptive to what you have to say. It's more likely to confirm stereotypes and misconceptions than to make them open to new ideas and information.

You think blocking the front door is meaningless. I think there's a strong implication there. I have no doubt that Elsa and fellow Black Brunch participants would not harm anyone looking to leave. That is because I know Elsa and her intentions. Others don't. Imagine what it would be like to have a group of strangers barge into your restaurant and block your exit.

If you didn't mean to imply that I couldn't leave then you won't stand in front of the door.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had a great scene about "implication". Elsa would not hurt anyone in the restaurant but she is intentionally giving them the implication that they can't leave.

MichaelApproved 08-07-2016 03:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AlyssaN (Post 854423)
A thought that I kept having when the idea of perceived threat came up . . . the perception of threat has so so so much to do with the social context of the time and the stereotypes that people hold.

I believe that given the context of the South during the civil rights movement, the diner patrons likely perceived sit-in participants as potentially threatening. Their perception did not make it a reality, their fear was a symptom of misconceptions and a belief that black people couldn't really be non-violent.

Just a thought . . .

At least during the diner sit-ins, they were taking the protest directly to the problem. One of the issues I have with BLM and Black Brunch is that it's confronting those who have not harmed them.

Take the fight directly to those in power who are oppressing your civil rights.

MichaelApproved 08-07-2016 03:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by littlp (Post 854430)
I think that maybe part of the point of the perceived threat is to make others feel a possible smidgeon of what people of color feel on a daily basis when encountering authority figures-except the white patrons are lucky that the protesters don't mean them harm and they luck out...much more than people of color.

It's funny that there's a disagreement about a perceived threat. On the show, I was mocked about being scared of someone holding a sign.

To your point, if that was actually their goals, I would still disagree with those tactics. I think it would just play into stereotypes and misconceptions.

Quote:

Originally Posted by littlp (Post 854430)
Michael's argument about why blocking the road was weak...my concern about the road being blocked is it preventing actual emergency vehicles to get to where they need to go. That kind of hold up could cause people to die and I'm not ok with that on either side of the argument.

Yes, that's even worse. Why expose yourself to this liability for negative press?

Quote:

Originally Posted by littlp (Post 854430)
I felt like Elsa shut down at one point due to feeling like she was constantly being interrupted...this could just be my perception.

You're not the only one who said this which is strange to me. Before hearing this, I thought we equally jumped in on each other's conversation but I accept this criticism. [/QUOTE]

Quote:

Originally Posted by littlp (Post 854430)
It seems like the only way things get done/changed is through anger and protesting. Campaign zero has an excellent strategy laid out with actual policies they want to see in place and examples of it working.

I applaud Michael for asking about specifics as to what Chemda and Elsa are looking for in terms of changes. We need specific, measurable goals. Campaign zero does an excellent job in laying it out clearly.

Agreed!


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