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"I probably should have told Jordan and Dan about that beforehand."
August 19, 2014 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Jesse Thorn tells a story from his childhood about police violence. Story starts at the four-minute mark.
posted by roll truck roll (17 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I listened to this yesterday. I found it moving, and while I'm sure it will inspire some reactions along the lines of "who cares about a white guy's tearful reaction to a bad thing happening to a black guy" I think it's a worthwhile story to tell because of the enormous amount of regret that he clearly feels, and the way he pleads with others to do something if they're ever in a similar situation.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:54 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


Ahh... Jesse. So earnest. I think we all get where he's coming from and, while the whole "I said nothing and eventually they came for me," talk is probably long overdue from most Americans, it's more than welcome.
posted by ph00dz at 9:00 AM on August 19


We've all been saying too little nothing for way too long and they're now coming for us.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:04 AM on August 19


I'm sure it will inspire some reactions along the lines of "who cares about a white guy's tearful reaction to a bad thing happening to a black guy"

This was actually my first knee-jerk reaction to it. But after I'd had a good listen, I think if "patriarchy hurts men too" is a valid, if secondary, point to make, then "racism corrodes people of all races" is also valid, if secondary.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:05 AM on August 19 [7 favorites]


Yeah. I debated not posting for that exact reason. And yet, what I love about it is that it's a man engaging with the reality of his own privilege in a really direct, emotional way.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:09 AM on August 19 [2 favorites]


Jesse is a mench.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:28 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


But the only way this anecdote could have gotten more Jesse Thornish is if the 1989 San Francisco Giants appeared riding tiny donkeys to save the day.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:31 AM on August 19 [14 favorites]


if the 1989 San Francisco Giants appeared riding tiny donkeys to save the day

they have a name. Their name is "donks."
posted by like_a_friend at 9:37 AM on August 19 [7 favorites]


I think the most important thing that he left out is that unless people like him (and me) do do something about both relatively minor situations like the one he describes and more serious stuff like what is going on in Ferguson, the sad sad truth of the matter is that things are not going to change. The most evil part of institutional racism is that the voice of the victims of that racism are so suppressed that it is hard for them to be heard by the average person, but people with more privilege have a better chance of getting the message out. I have similar regrets about things I should have said and done in response to acts of evil I witnessed, and I applaud Jesse for talking about those sort of regrets in a real and honest way.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:18 AM on August 19 [8 favorites]


"I saw this guy once get hassled by the police, and didn't file a formal complaint." has about the same ring as "I saw a homeless guy on the street once, and didn't give money to the salvation army representative two blocks down." Underwhelming.
posted by smidgen at 11:02 AM on August 19


I thought the power in the story was specifically that he saw it happen, which I think a lot of people think they've seen, except it was on TV or a movie or it was in real life but we kept walking and didn't actually watch the whole thing play out. I know I've seen cops do that circling thing at the last minute before they decide to close in, and I just went on about my business. Because I could.

There's a whole lot of people in the country right now talking about what they would do IF, but honestly most people's inclination is going to be to do what Jesse did. It will be harder for me in the future because I will have this in my head.

No, I don't think we need a huge parade of regretful white guys flogging themselves in the media, but I think it's probably okay for people to speak to their audiences about this, because I think white people DO need to have a greater awareness about what we do and don't walk away from because it's "not our problem" or it's "probably okay". One of the best ways to kill bystander effect is to make bystanding a little uncomfortable socially.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:05 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


What's the most effective thing to do if you do witness police hassling a person of color?
posted by Omnomnom at 4:32 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Take video of the incident.
posted by Cash4Lead at 5:03 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Jesse here.

Thanks for the kind words from those who've offered them. It's something that was very difficult for me to talk about. I did it largely for selfish reasons, to get something off my chest, but also because I hoped I might encourage others to think about the position they're in and use their power to make the world better.

For those who listened and think I didn't do or say enough, I guess we all look forward to voting for you when you run for president and create beautiful absolute justice through bold and perfect action.
posted by YoungAmerican at 11:04 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I should also add that as an NPR-affiliated journalist, I agree to follow NPR's ethics guidelines. Part of that is reflecting impartiality in my non-NPR public life, as well as in my day-to-day life. I tried to focus what I talked about on JJGo on my own personal experience, so that others could draw their own conclusions about broader societal and political ramifications.
posted by YoungAmerican at 11:13 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I guess we all look forward to voting for you when you run for president

vote #1 quidnunc kid
posted by like_a_friend at 12:10 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


YoungAmerican: "Part of that is reflecting impartiality in my non-NPR public life, as well as in my day-to-day life. I tried to focus what I talked about on JJGo on my own personal experience, so that others could draw their own conclusions about broader societal and political ramifications."

I definitely got the feeling that you were choosing your words very carefully when it came to the broader picture, and I remember you talking about the NPR thing when Bullseye first got picked up, so that makes sense.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:56 PM on August 20


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