Backtalk: Junot Diaz & MeToo

This week, Dahlia and Amy talk about the latest in this #MeToo movement and what accountability can look like. More and more stories are coming out across industries of those who are abusing their power and we’re beginning to see more claims within the literary world. Last month, Junot Diaz published a heartbreaking account of his own rape, sharing his #MeToo moment. This is in contrast to recent allegations against him as the source of other’s #MeToo stories. Can Junot Diaz reckon with his own history of abuse without further abusing others? Plus Petty Political Pminute and a Golden Girls Amy Vs. Dahlia!


WATCH: Instead of watching The Rachel Divide, watch The Woman Who Wasn’t There (a documentary about a woman who faked surviving 9/11) or The Imposter (a documentary about a French man who pretended to be a kidnapped American teenager).

READ: Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s short story collection The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror is based on his series “Children’s Stories Made Horrific,” which appeared at The Toast, and it is so good.

LISTEN: Mesmerizing and beautiful, out of Kuala Lumpur is NJWA’s alternative R&B track, “Ocean.”


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TRANSCRIPT

[theme music] 

AMY: Hi, welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam, Contributing Editor. 

DAHLIA: And I’m Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, Senior Engagement Editor. 

AMY: And every episode we talk about our favorite pop culture moment. What is yours, Dahlia? 

DAHLIA: I got to see Pete Souza do his presentation. Pete Souza was the former White House photographer for the Obama administration, and he has a book of all of his photos, and he’s touring around the country showing them and telling his favorite stories. It was hilarious, but I will say that one of my favorite stories was about how Obama was playing some some basketball in his free time. And he was playing against one of his staff members who had played college basketball, so was very, very good. And that Obama had blocked like one of his shots, and then Obama asked Pete Souza to have that printed out. 

AMY: [laughs] 

DAHLIA: And! He made the guy who blocked sign it, and the guy signed it, “Dear Mr. President, Nice block.” [laughs] 

AMY: Whoooo! 

Wow! I’m very into this. 

DAHLIA: It’s a little petty, right? [laughs] 

AMY: That’s very petty and troll-y. I am so into that. Man, I really love this undercover troll that Obama’s got going for him. 

DAHLIA: [laughs] 

AMY: That’s some shit I would do. If I had those resources, I would do that. You know, put it in a very nice frame, yeah. 

DAHLIA: What’s your pop culture moment, Amy? 

AMY:  Well, my pop culture moment is not super pop culture-y. But it’s that time of the year again where college students and high school students, and I guess, any students who graduate from things graduate. And I’m seeing off some of my classmates who are in my program cohort, and I’m so sad to see them go. But I just don’t know what other time I would have to say this, but I just wanted to congratulate everybody who made it through their education and whatever that may be, and they’re celebrating completing something that’s very important to them. And for me personally, to see some of my classmates go off and to have been able to have the pleasure and privilege to see their art improve has been so inspiring and amazing. And I just feel fortunate to be around it. But I am just excited. Like I was telling one of my classmates, I’m so excited to see them get their books published so that I can go to their Q and A sessions and ask obnoxious questions to try to get kicked out by security. [laughs] 

DAHLIA: Oh no! [laughs] 

AMY: I wanna be that friend for all my writer friends, you know, the one who will come to your debut book launch release parties and readings and be super obnoxious. And you’re just like, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m just that popular that people are coming here to troll me.” So, I wanna do Obama-level trolls to my writer friends at they’re like debut readings. [laughs] 

DAHLIA: At first, I was like, “Oh, Amy, that’s so nice of you.” And now you’re like, “I wanna troll them!” And I’m like, “Oh.” 

AMY: Because I love and admire them so much. But I just wanted to say congratulations to everybody who’s graduating this May or have made some amazing progress in something that they love and love to do in their lives. 

DAHLIA: Congratulations, all grads or anyone accomplishing anything this Spring. 

BOTH: [laugh] 

AMY: Yeah. I think that’s sweet! 

DAHLIA: Yeah. 

[cutesy bells ring] 

We’re doing another petty political p-minute. I’m gonna try to do it actually in a p-minute, in 60 seconds. 

AMY: I love this! 

DAHLIA: It’s hard! OK, I have so much written. We’ll see if I can do it, OK, I am starting the timer…now. 

This week, Rudy Giuliani has been giving lots of bonkers interviews where he says, Trump did know about Stormy Daniels! No, Trump didn’t know! I don’t know. I’m still getting up to speed. I’m just doing my research. They let me out on TV, though. I don’t know why. 

So, Rudy Giuliani is just really losing it. And CIA director nominee Gina Haspel is considering withdrawing from the process because she’s worried that she’s gonna get dragged the way all of Trump’s nominees do. 

And then most importantly this week, Melania Trump unveiled her initiative “Be Best,” which is supposed to focus on the importance of well-being social media use and the opioid crisis for young people. And the most petty thing is that they totally plagiarized a pamphlet that was distributed under the Obama administration about— It was called “Talking With Kids About Being Online.” And Melania Trump totally plagiarized it: same graphics and everything! [cell phone time chimes] That’s my alarm. 

AMY: Wow! Wow! 

DAHLIA: [laughs] 

AMY: Oh my god. I’m so impressed! I wanna do like a petty political p-minute p-review ‘cause you did such a great job. Your Rudy Giuliani was spot on. And I did not know that the plagiarism. This is a very important segment I think we’re doing here. 

DAHLIA: Oh good. Good. We’re changing people’s opinions. [laughs] 

AMY: All right. So, let’s delve into the latest Dahlia Versus Amy. I’m ready. I’m excited. 

DAHLIA: Well, this one is by popular demand because we floated this idea in a previous episode, and then we got a lot of very nice tweets. And also Amy and I were feeling a lot of enthusiasm. So, recently Amy has started watching The Golden Girls for the first time. 

AMY: Amazing. 

DAHLIA: I grew up watching The Golden Girls. And so we were debating. We decided rather than putting the question as, which is the best Golden Girl, we’re saying who is the funniest? Because I think that’s something we can argue about. Although, Amy does have a caveat for us. 

AMY: Yeah, ‘cause I think that by far, Estelle Getty, Sophia’s character, is really bar none, probably the funniest ‘cause she gets all these great biting lines. So, we have to leave Sofia out of it. So, out of Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose, who do we think is the funniest on the show? 

DAHLIA: This is so hard! Secretly, I wanna vote for all of them, but I am ready to make my case. 

AMY: Yes, I agree. Make your case, Dahlia. 

DAHLIA: [laughs] My case is for, I submit to you Blanche Devereaux played by Rue McClanahan. What I love so much about Blanche’s jokes is that they always come from this place of very, very phenomenally high self-confidence and self-esteem that it’s almost laughable, but only because— I mean it’s not laughing at her. It’s jokes about, she sees herself as so beautiful and sexy and perfect. It turns the tables, I think, on how we think of older women and older women seeing themselves as attractive, older women seeing themselves sort of as agents of their lives. Now I’m just rambling about why The Golden Girls was good. 

But Rue McClanahan, Blanche’s jokes when I was little, I didn’t really get them. And now that I’m older, it’s like every joke is so dirty! And I love that this dirty sexiness comes from this older Southern belle, and all of her jokes about how she’s getting all worked up and getting all hot and bothered thinking about her Dixieland romances. They’re just like my favorite jokes, just how dirty and sexy everything she says is. [chuckles] 

AMY: I mean I am a huge Blanche admirer, and I think you touched on this: I really love how the show treats how these women are so desirable regardless of what they look like. Every single one of those women are going on dates. 

DAHLIA: Constantly. 

AMY: Yeah, and they’re smashing like crazy! 

DAHLIA: [laughs] 

AMY: They’re just being treated as sexy as fuck women. Aw, this show is so good. But I think this is a hard Amy Versus Dahlia because I agree with you, but I also have my own candidate here in this race. And my character who I think is the funniest of the show, who’s actually even won an Emmy for it, is Rose because Rose— 

DAHLIA: Oh! 

AMY: Yes, I think Rose is— Like Dorothy is an obvious choice because Dorothy get some amazing one-liners, much like her mother. But Rose, played by fucking Betty White, is impeccable. I don’t know how she did this, but she made rose so knowing and so ignorant and wide-eyed as an older woman in one spell. It’s incredible. Because you think as an older woman who grew up on a farm who learned a lot about the circle of life, she would be kind of seasoned and understand how the world works. But she doesn’t, and she places it with just so much wide-eyed innocence. So, I just think that Rose, who is Betty White, who is also still alive, thank god, national treasure still around, has done such a stunning job. And I know that this show could not be this show without any of these characters, but I think this show is particularly special because of Rose and her humor in it. 

DAHLIA: Huh. Well, I feel like it’s particularly special because of all of Blanche’s sex jokes! 

BOTH: [laugh] 

DAHLIA: Well, that is our dilemma, and we will leave it to you, our Backtalk listeners, to vote. If you head over to bitchmedia.org on the page for this episode, we’ll have a little voting module for you, and we’ll also tweet it out so that you can vote. And then we will know for once and all, who is the funniest character on The Golden Girls? Is it Rose Nylund or Blanche Deveraux? 

AMY: And if you are on the Twitters, and you wanna tweet at us, we welcome any and all gifts, any and all Golden Girl, we’ll just love them. 

DAHLIA: We’ll tweet some more back at you. 

BOTH: [chuckle] 

[cutesy bells ring] 

DAHLIA: As Amy just said, we love to receive tweets of all kinds, gifts of all kinds. And we also really love reviews of all kinds. One of our favorite things to do is to look through our iTunes reviews, and we encourage you to please leave us one. Let us know what you think about Backtalk, what you love, if you have any suggestions for upcoming Amy Versus Dahlias. But I wanna read one review. This is from Possly Tossly. It reads, “When I’m mad, when I’m confused, when I’m sad, when I’m joyful, these women are right there for me. I feel like I’m sitting with my most compassionate, intelligent friends. I appreciate this show much.” And then it’s many exclamation points. So, I wanna say thanks so much. That is so nice! 

And yeah, certainly, if you are ever confused or sad or joyful, you can imagine us there being your cheerleaders for any feeling you’re having. ‘Cause you know, we say that we’re rage cheerleaders, but we can also be joy cheerleaders right, Amy? 

AMY: Oh yeah, for sure. I think we’re also cheerleaders for being sad sometimes. 

DAHLIA: Oh yeah. 

AMY: Let yourself be sad. Let yourself have some moments where you just don’t wanna do shit. 

DAHLIA: Oh yeah. 

AMY: I definitely cheer that on too. 

DAHLIA: Oh yeah. 

AMY: So, if we can channel those vibes for you, I feel really lucky that we get to do that for you. 

DAHLIA: Me too. Yeah. Thanks so much for that review, and we would love it if you would leave us a review as well. 

AMY: Yes! And you can also support us in another way. You can become a Pollinator. So, Pollinators are a special group of Bitch supporters who contribute just $8 a month. And the $8 actually gets you a subscription to Bitch Magazine, a Bitch mug, and a sticker. And you can check it out at bitchmedia.org/pollinators. And it’s just for $8 a month. And our latest issue is coming out soon. It’s the travel issue. If you go on our Twitter or our Facebook, and you wanna see a preview of this cover, get ready to have your socks knocked off, OK? If you’re not wearing socks, put some socks on so that your socks can get knocked off. ‘Cause this cover is stunning! 

[cutesy bells ring] 

AMY: All right. So, today we’re going to be talking about the latest in the #MeToo movement. So, last Fall, when we first started hearing stories about Harvey Weinstein, it triggered an avalanche of similar sexual misconduct claims against powerful people in so many different industries. And I remember Dahlia and I talking about this and thinking about and wondering when this would sort of hit the literary world. And we’ve seen snippets of it, like when the former Editor of The Paris Review had to resign. And recently, there’s also been fallout around sexual misconduct around the Nobel Prize for Literature to the point where that so much of the staff had resigned that they had to postpone awarding the prize this year. And then not that long ago, there were claims against Sherman Alexie. So, the latest in the #MeToo moment in the literary world is around Pulitzer Prize winning writer Junot Díaz. 

So, Junot’s really well-known for his fiction, most recently, his short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her. And he also just came out with his first children’s book called Island Born. And he’s been accused of sexual misconduct and verbal abuse. And from the stories that are coming in, it just seems like it’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, for a lot of folks especially in the next community, Díaz, who is Dominican, was a star. And he’s not just a literary star. I think he’s just like a big star, I mean especially as a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. And a big part of it is that he’s built his reputation and image on being this very, very woke Afro Latinx man who is supposed to be sort of like, he’s supposed to be riot or die for women of color, you know? And the allegations that are coming out about him kind of show how he is particularly, like how he disregards women of color. 

So, some of the writers who have come out and talked about his behavior are Zinzi Clemmons, Monica Byrne, Alyssa Valdes, Carmen Maria Machado. All of these folks have come out mostly on Twitter to talk about their stories, about how Junot Díaz used his position of power to demean them. And I think that this is just really wild because this is coming up against how he published an essay last month, and this was a very vulnerable essay that he wrote about being raped as a child and the devastating effect that it had on his life and his own treatment of women afterwards. So, that was Junot Díaz’s #MeToo moment. But I think right now what we’re seeing is that the issue is that he got to have his #MeToo moment, on a really big, huge and hugely-respected platform like The New Yorker. Yet he hasn’t reckoned with how he is the source of others’ #MeToo statements. I think that’s something that we wanted to talk about. 

DAHLIA: And Díaz has responded to these allegations, kind of. He gave a statement to the New York Times. It reads, “I take responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue. I am listening to and learning from women’s stories. In this essential and overdue cultural moment, we must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.” And I don’t think he is taking responsibility for his past because that is quite a vague sentence: “I take responsibility for my past.” Well, what does that past include? Who have you hurt? In what way are you taking responsibility for that, just in this sentence, in this statement that you had someone e-mail the New York Times? 

I think that we’re seeing with #MeToo—this isn’t surprising—that very often, it seems like where there’s smoke there’s fire. And there is like 20 fires. And so, already we know of like, Amy just listed off half a dozen or so women who have allegations against him, and I would bet that there are many more. And you know, something that so many of these writers talked about in their stories about him—and I would imagine something that maybe other women who have stories about him are weighing—is this idea that Amy, like you’re saying, he is so famous, and he’s a very famous man of color. He’s a very famous Latinx creator, and I think that there’s been some feeling amongst the women that he preyed on that if they bring him down, they’re bringing down someone who is uplifting the stories of people of color, who’s doing good work in these other ways. And I see how that sort of like a double whammy from Junot Díaz to these women, and the same thing with Sherman Alexie. That these women don’t just have to consider what did he do to me, what do I wanna say about that? But like what if what I say diminishes his success, and then after that, maybe another writer like him won’t get to publish a book? Or they’ll take stories from Native American writers less seriously next time. It’s part of this predatory plan, I guess just weigh these women down with reason after reason why they don’t think they want to come forward. 

AMY: And I mean why would you come forward if you read that statement from him? He doesn’t even apologize in it. You read it word for word. Not once has he used the word “sorry.” Not once does he use the word “apologize.” He says he takes responsibility. And immediately after saying that, he alludes to his New Yorker essay about how he was raped as a child, and that’s the reason why I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. Well, I hate to break it to you, Junot Díaz, but a lot of us have been hurt and damaged in some way in our past, but we made a conscientious effort to not pass on that hurt and damage to other people. And I think that by not addressing that, he’s not taking responsibility for anything. He has put some words on a piece of paper just so he could have a statement to make. And I think it’s very disingenuous, and we’re seeing through this. 

I think you’re also bringing up another point about how I think a lot of women, or the people he preyed upon, didn’t say anything because first of all, they didn’t know if they were the only one. Which I can understand. If you feel like you’re the only one, I can understand you just putting aside because you don’t wanna not just damage his reputation, but because there’s so few Junot Díazes, I mean in terms of in the literary world, that you don’t wanna make it, like you’re saying, make it a thing where it’s nobody wants to then ever pay a Latinx writer to tell a story again, right? 

DAHLIA: Right. Right. 

AMY: But the thing is that not only did his own community protect him for the community’s sake, OK, but the big establishments who put him on pedestals protected him as well.  

Junot Díaz has been one of those people in the literary world that people have been talking about for a while, OK? Because he’s done things openly we’re other people have seen, but we don’t talk about it because he’s a fucking Pulitzer Prize-winning Brown writer. So, we don’t wanna fuck that up. And I understand that impulse to protect somebody in that way. But when you see why I think that some of these writers have come out and say, like Zinzi Clemmons has said, her encounter with him was that she was a grad student. She invited him to come speak at her school, and then later that night, he cornered her and forced a kiss on her. So, he forced himself on her in that way. But that’s her story. So, she didn’t know that other people had stories. But she’s saying that her story and the stories that have just recently come out are just the tip of the iceberg and that there are actually way worse stories. 

DAHLIA: Right. 

AMY: And I wouldn’t be surprised to know that these bigger institutions like The New Yorker would protect him. ‘Cause The New Yorker has protected other people. Sure, they’ve also been a platform where stories against Harvey Weinstein have come out. But it’s in the interest of some of these places to protect the stars that they made, because they gave Junot Díaz one of his biggest platforms. They publish one of his first short stories. They lauded him. They put him on a pedestal. And there have been other institutions that have done the same thing. So, I’m not saying they’re trying to protect their investment, but they put their work behind this figure. And Junot Díaz, much to his credit, he’s run with it. He’s done an amazing job. He’s lulled so many of us who admired him, myself included, for a long time to be behind him and to think that he is riot or die for writers of color, for women of color, for women of color writers. But to see these stories about how he used his position of power to demean them, to take advantage of them, I am both at once just a little bit shocked but mostly unsurprised. Because I think that sometimes when you are in that, you have so much leeway, and you have so much power and people are protecting you and let you abuse it. I am unsurprised that he went buck with it and just did it. 

DAHLIA: Yeah. Well, I’m thinking also about the recent New Yorker piece this week about New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who has since retired, resigned from his position and sort of the way that the women that he abused described these changes in his behavior, where he just quickly turned into an aggressive and violent person. And I was thinking about that also as I was re-reading some of these tweets about Junot’s behavior and sort of how quickly his veneer of progressivism or supporting women just would drop in these interactions with women of color, where he would become aggressive and very angry and sort of would attack them. Some of these tweets are about public confrontations that happened at Q and As, and the way that he would just really unfairly and aggressively, just like in a flash, change his demeanor. And this ability to shift from a position of pretending to be progressive, portraying progressive values, acting as if you support marginalized communities, but then being able to shed that very quickly and to go back and forth between those two modes, I think that’s what we’re seeing. I think we’re seeing that predators are able to do that much more than we realize. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just need to think more about how how easy it is, how easy it would be for a predator to put on a disguise as all predators put on psychological disguises of some sort to lull you in with this sense of like, oh he gets me. He gets what I’m fighting for. He gets the progressive cause. And that lets people put their guards down a little bit. 

AMY: I mean even in his New Yorker piece, he talks about how he had to wear masks, right, to protect himself and to protect his vulnerability. And I think that his progressiveness, it was a very good mask. It worked really well. His performance of allyship and of being—I hate using the word “woke,” but—of being woke was so on point. I remember being at a reading once where he had an entire room enamored with him. And then during the Q and A question, he did this thing where he was just like, “I prioritize the voices of women of color. So, until all the women of color in the room have asked their questions, I won’t take questions from anyone else.” Me, sitting in that audience a few years ago, I was just like, oh my gosh! I was like hands on forehead like, oh how dreamy, you know?! Somebody with a huge platform, this Pulitzer Prize winning writer, is sitting in this room telling me that he prioritizes our voices. How fucking amazing is that? 

DAHLIA: Yeah. 

AMY: And it was a mask. This is something that’s really kind of heartbreaking for some of us who has admired his work for a long time, and we’re coming to terms with what this means. 

I read a really great piece by a Bitch contributor, and this is on her own personal blog. Her name is Ayz de Leon, and the piece is called Reconciling Rage And Compassion: the Unfolding #MeToo Moment for Junot Díaz. And I just wanted to read this excerpt. I think the thing that Ayz’s doing here is sort of complicating our anger, which I am open to dealing with, you know? Because I think we’re really upset right now. So, we’re just kind of being rageful, but in her piece Ayz’s asking us to sort of think about it and sink it in and to think about what healing means in this context, especially with a writer and a person like Junot Díaz. And so, she says “Right now, many of us women are in our own typical pattern for trauma survivors: we see men through a binary. He’s either a good brother or he’s trash. People either want to excuse Junot or vilify him. We need to hold both: he’s a brother with a history of abusing and being abused. I believe that a man like Junot can be redeemed. But let’s be clear, he hasn’t redeemed himself yet.” 

So, her whole piece is doing this. She’s saying, he fucked up, we can be mad, but maybe we have to think about what it means for men and women to heal through sexual trauma. But also at the very end, he hasn’t done shit, you know? [laughs] And I think this is a valid point of view, and I’m interested in reading and understanding this point of view. Because right now, I’m sitting in a lot of anger because I feel betrayed by somebody I really admired who I thought was doing amazing work and was about our communities. But I think that something like this is worth having conversation about. But something like a piece like this is also saying to Junot Díaz, yo, we can’t move forward until you fucking acknowledge how you fucked up and that you have to stop hiding behind the fact that you were abused. Yes, we can acknowledge that you were abused and that you abused because of that, but you cannot use that as your sole reason. You have to own up to how you were not a good human being to a lot of people who admire you, who looked up to you, and how you use your position of power to fuck with them. I mean he hasn’t done that yet. So, I think this is what we’re asking for in terms of accountability, and we’re waiting for it. 

[cutesy bells ring] 

DAHLIA: At the end of every episode of Backtalk we share something we’re reading, watching, and listening to that we think you should be reading, watching, and listening to. I have the read and the watch pick. I’ve just started reading The Merry Spinster: Tales Of Everyday Horror, which is by Daniel Mallory Ortberg. It’s a collection of short stories. It is based on Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s column or series called Children’s Stories Made Horrific that used to be over at The Toast. RIP The Toast forever. We love The Toast. These stories are dark but also funny, but they’re sort of remixed fairy tales. They sort of remind me of Angela Carter. They’re sort of certainly dark but also pleasantly dark. 

And I have sort of like an anti-watch pick and then instead of that— No, no, no, no! 

AMY: What?! 

DAHLIA: It’s gonna make sense. Last week, the documentary The Rachel Divide premiered on Netflix, which is about Rachel Dolezal. I watched it twice. [laughs] 

AMY: I watched it. 

DAHLIA: I will not recommend it. For one, it was filmed in 2016, which is obvious because there are scenes of Rachel watching Trump during the run-up to the election. I don’t really think it’s worth your time, but I do think what is illuminating about it is that I think it reveals the extent to which she is just straight-up a fraud. Like this is just a con for her, I think. 

AMY: Mmhmm. 

DAHLIA: And it was reminding me of two other documentaries that I will recommend instead if you’re interested in people who are big time liars and who try to orchestrate huge fraud-cons. 

AMY: [laughs] 

DAHLIA: I wanna recommend the documentary The Woman Who Wasn’t There, which is a documentary about a woman who pretended to have survived September 11th, when in actuality she was in Spain at the time. She’s actually a Spanish citizen. She was in Spain at the time. And not only did she fake surviving September 11th, she faked having a fiancé who died during September 11th. She became really, really active in the September 11th survivors’ groups, like super, super active and super powerful within these groups before it was revealed that actually, she hadn’t even been in the United States at all on September 11th. 

And I also wanna recommend The Imposter, which is a documentary about—This happened in 1997. A Frenchman named Frédéric Bourdin pretended to be Nicholas Barclay, who had been a Texas teenager who was kidnapped at the age of 13. And so, this French guy with different eye color, different hair, French accent pretended to be this Texas teenager, and the family believed it. He was successful at fraudulently taking over this kid’s life for a while. He moved in with this Texas boy’s family. So, I see Rachel Dolezal as being akin to these kinds of people who have very bad and big and devastating lives that sort of situate themselves as proximate to the pain of others. They’re like pain leeches. They like being around and being the focus of this kind of trauma. And I’m saying that about Rachel because she was always talking about like, oh, I have Black sons. As a Black woman, my life is in danger. I know about racism. And so, I see her as trying to situate herself as proximate to the violence and the danger of blackness in the US, just like this Spanish woman and this French guy wanted to swoop into the lives of other traumas. 

AMY: Yes. And I have the listen pick. So, my listen pick is an artist out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her name is NJWA, formerly known as Najwa Mahiaddin. This track is really, I think, just soothing. It was really the track I needed for finals week. [laughs] I’m not taking any finals. I have to write a lot of finals papers, and it’s just perfectly chill. And I went to the website for NJWA, and she describes herself as a Malaysian alternative R & B. And I think that’s a perfect description for this music. So, this track is called Ocean. 

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening. 

AMY: Thanks for listening. 

[Ocean plays] 

♪ I was a fool before I met you 

Too young to understand that to some love is just a game 

But I know better now 

Got to prove to you somehow I’ve grown to understand 

What it means to be a lover 

You tell me about real love in a sea full of fakes 

But darling, now I’m drowning in the ocean of mistakes that I made in my past 

But I really want this to last 

Baby, let me show you that my love is really true 

If you turn away…. ♪ 

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This episode is produced by Alex Ward. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist non-profit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to bitchmedia.org and donate. 

♪ …searching for 

Oh, oh, oh 

Oh, oh, oh 

Oh, oh, oh, oh 

I was not schooled in the matters of love before I met you 

Thought my knowledge of love was enough…. ♪ 

by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam is Bitch Media’s contributing editor. Find her at @amyadoyzie.

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