People I Listen To: Whiting Wongs with Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao

A while ago, I did a series of posts called ‘People I Read’. In that series, I gave little blurbs about the other blogs and sites I regularly read. It was sort of a callback to the blogrolls of the early days of blogs. I thought it would be nice to do something similar for the podcasts I listen to. So here is a new series of blurbs. As with the previous series, I’ll try to put up a new one every couple of weeks.

Today’s podcast I listen to is Whiting Wongs with Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao.

Race has been a major driver in many aspects of American life — far more than we tend to think — for all of American history. A famous political example is the relationship between the three-fifths clause of the Constitution and the electoral collage. The three-fifths clause let states count three-fifths of the slaves who lived there for the purposes of representation. Since those slaves couldn’t vote — and no white person cared about their opinion — that basically amplified the voice of every white person in those states. While that obviously applied to the House of Representatives, where the representation of each state is determined by population, the electoral college ensured that it also applied to presidential elections. The electoral college is a system that doesn’t make sense unless you look at it through the lens of the role of race in American history.

Entertainment is another area where race is an important driver. As a white person, it’s easy for me to ignore the lack of diversity in my entertainment diet. But the fact is that the American media landscape is dominated by white people. In addition to that, people of color — and women, and LGBTQ folks, and others — are often erased from their own stories. It’s common to have a character of color ‘whitewashed’: played or voiced (in the case of animation) by a white person.

In Whiting Wongs, Dan Harmon (CommunityRick and Morty) and Jessica Gao (Rick and MortySilicon Valley) take on race in media. Everything from diversity in the writers’ room to the importance of seeing people like you on television to Dan’s hatred of sharks gets attention. And these topics get attention with humor, honesty, vulnerability, and grace.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.