Episode 31: So, Barack Obama (w/ Yvette Robertson)

Hey everyone. Time is flying by and at the same time, I no longer have a good grasp of how long I’ve been in China. Last week was a haze as I flew out to Chicago to see my brother get married. I got to see my family which is always a good thing. I didn’t think so when I was younger but I feel I’m getting more sentimental as I get older. My internal clock got all wonky as I had to switch 13 hours backwards for a few days and then immediately switch again. The flight was 15 hours there and 17 hours back. On the way out to Chicago, I made a quick trip to Hong Kong and saw my cousin. I ate some amazing food and saw a funny exhibition about Studio Ghibli, although the entire time I was there, the city felt very tense there with smaller protests happening on the streets and flyers posted all over.

Anyway, for today, I’m interviewing my very good friend, Yvette Robertson. I met Yvette through some combination of Nine Yamamoto-Masson, who I previously interviewed, and Lavender Wolf, an American artist currently living in Belgium who I never got a chance to interview before I left Europe. Yvette and I continued to run into each other and we started hanging out a lot, especially towards the end of my stay in Berlin. Nine described what Yvette does as doing the hard work few people want to do, which is to say she teaches about race and intersectionality to business professionals who largely do not have the language or, often times, interest to engage with the topic. These classes tend to be mandatory set by the administrators who want their institution to look socially aware without really understanding what that means. I attended a few of Yvettes classes to see how such a dynamic would play out and found the whole experience spooky, tiring, and fascinating. I was really happy to record our mildly drunken conversation after a very delightful Sri Lankan breakfast Yvette cooked up. We talk about power dynamics, processing white guilt, and the failure of true objectivity. I hope you enjoy this episode.