Oct 3, 2022Liked by Rachel Baiman

I love Auntie Diaries by Kendrick Lamar, a song about his trans uncle and cousin. People were upset about it because the song includes constant slurs, misgendering and deadnaming. But he's depicting the reality of transphobia and homophobia in himself and his community, and *explicitly* condemning it. He even calls out his own double standard when it comes to who can use the F-word and who can use the N-word, a kind of empathy we've been asking of Dave Chappelle for years now.

I love the song because he's telling his story, not theirs. But we can't tell our own stories without referencing others'. Lamar perfectly depicts the kind of loving, clumsy process we should expect from our loved ones when we transition. It's not for trans people, it's for his fellow cis people. He's modeling his humble process for others, just like when he talks about his relationship with sex, misogyny, wealth, and violence. And like the rest of his catalogue, Auntie Diaries is triggering, and it upset a lot of people. But as a GNC person and ally to trans binary folks, I'm *so* glad the song exists. It might not even have Lamar's desired effect on the culture, but I think it's more beautiful and human than most politically correct art out there.

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Oct 2, 2022Liked by Rachel Baiman

Hi Rachel,

Here is a link with the poem: https://www.jehsmith.com/1/2018/07/how-to-by-anders-carlson-wee.html

The original publication by The National now includes a disclaimer.

As a white cisgender male I feel among the least qualified to weigh in on political correctness.

Watching the IBMA livestream this week there was a vocal minority of trolls spewing vitriol in the comments about any musicians they deemed less than a true bluegrass act. I’m not clear what arbitrary measure consisted of true bluegrass. Are true bluegrass musicians only those on stage playing Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs note for note? Maybe the musicians the trolls liked were real bluegrass, and the ones they disliked (or the musicians who happened to beat out one of their favorites for an award) were not. So I think making any decision based on online backlash alone is dangerous, as undoubtedly there will be someone with something negative to say.

Renaming the Washington football team is an example of appropriate political correctness (in my mind), as changing the name made sense. There was nothing artistic about the name. Moreover multi-billion dollar companies have a tendency to land on their feet.

Less clear cut for me personally was Chris Rock’s joke about alopecia at the Oscars. The way it was handled only detracted from the issue. Having a spouse with alopecia, I found the joke tasteless and mean, as her alopecia is part of her appearance which she cannot control. Moreover the community in general suffers from bullying. The joke seemed to come from ignorance. I don’t think it was funny, but it did not deserve physical retaliation.

Along those lines the ablest aspect of the poem did not seem offensive to me. My father was a 100% disabled veteran, and I don’t think he would have found he poem offensive, nor would he have taken it personally. However if I had a disabled child who was bullied, maybe I would feel differently about the poem. It is difficult to say, as once the poem has fallen under this degree of scrutiny, it is hard to look at it with fresh eyes. On first read I had no issues with it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tent City stems from personal interactions with the homeless, and gives a voice to an otherwise marginalized community. The song is not derogatory in nature, nor does it harbor any false pretenses or appropriation on any kind. I think it is unquestionably OK.

So I don’t know if I made any sense, but as always I found this week’s update interesting. Thank you!

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Thank you for finding the poem!!!

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Empathy, not just sympathy, is essential to all of us, and reading what others write, and writing it yourself, helps people experience it from a perspective they may not have been able to feel. It's absurd to require fiction to be restricted to the categories people attach to the author. That defies the whole concept of writing fiction. I've written characters who are female, who are Muslim, who are Christian, who are black, who are immigrants from various places. I just think it's crucial to have people of those groups read what you write and respond honestly. I started making an audiobook of one of my novels, and had the voices done by me (white male), a black male, a black female, and a white female. Part of doing it that way allowed me to gauge all of these people's reactions to what I had written and it was very positive.

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That’s a really cool idea re: having people read for feedback and audiobook reading- like having a writing room with lots of perspectives for a tv show. Thanks Ed!

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After contemplating for a few minutes, I asked myself, I wonder who wrote "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?" And who wrote "God Bless the Child?" Because I will not question anyone's background who writes, "The rich get rich, while the weak ones fade."

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