Transcript for "Awareness - with Dori Fern"

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00:00.00
Craig
Hello I’m Craig Constantine welcome this is the podcaster community show short conversations that are not just about podcasting because I like to take the scenic route. My guest today is dory fern welcome Dory I’m over.

00:14.16
Dori
Hello Craig How are you.

00:39.48
Craig
Over-paid and Underworked. No. Not really I wish Um, there’s so many things we do these little. We. Don’t do a lot of preparation. In fact I Urge guests show up as unprepared as you possibly can show up because we’re all podcasters and podcasters never show up unprepared. They travel apparently around the world carrying their microphones with them. So I right? Why but you didn’t pack it just for this call. Did you let’s see see podcaster brought your gear with you.

01:03.46
Dori
This is all I’m I’m using this is the only time I’m going to use it probably in in three and a half weeks yeah well it was a just in case. But I knew this call was happening. Ah.

01:49.20
Craig
And you bought a set of headphones which of you probably used by other things too. So we did a little discussion beforehand and there are like so many things that we could talk about and I really like to try to give you like a place somebody once gave me the metaphor about ice skating if you ask somebody a question just like a free-floating untethered. You know what’s your favorite kind of cheese that’s like um I don’t know. But if you give them something to push off of like an ice skater then it gets a little easier I think based on what I heard you talking about in the podcast in course and some of the things we talked about beforehand I think the question really is about how do you. Think you’re going to start the conversations you were talking about trying to start conversations about race and it’s not that that’s it’s a difficult topic but like starting a conversation. Ah, that’s going to go somewhere useful is really the hard part. It’s not so much having the conversation that’s hard. It’s how does 1 and that’s not my swimming pool I don’t normally swim in that pool. But when I walk by on the pool deck you know I’m like yeah the hard part here would be how do you get the right people to join you and I’m wondering what your thoughts are on like how far have you gotten trying to unpack that and maybe what steps have you tried to take.

03:45.36
Dori
Great.

04:16.64
Craig
To figure out who to engage with.

04:05.16
Dori
Um, well I haven’t I guess I’ve thought a lot about it. Um I guess it’s worth taking a step back to say that the podcast that I am about to launch published almost. In in a matter of days called life changing with Dory Fern is about my life changing about me leaving my job last July at 55 and really just wanting to talk about. The messy middle part of it like you stop something you get somewhere else and I just kind of found that there was a lack of messy conversations. You know everybody wants to be an expert or talk to experts and I don’t think I always feel like.

05:36.22
Craig
Right.

05:59.70
Dori
That’s cool, but how did you get to that point like what were the mistakes you made what were the fears you had what were the and I just I don’t know the people who talk about that stuff tend to do it in in. Very wise kind of tones I don’t know I I just wanted it to be me exploring all the things not just work. Although that’s certainly a big part of it. But also my personal life and you know what it means to be in this. Phase of life. But how one just makes changes and and and what one goes through and the moments that are important sometimes talking to other people sometimes not and the reason race is important to me is because well it’s always been. Ah, very deeply important conversation for me I ah, how do I even say why I mean it’s from the time I was a teenager you know I am from a very liberal white jewish New York city background and I learned. In my late teens that there was a lot of hypocrisy in that in that place you know people who March and go to rallies and and vote democratic but don’t really want you to come home with the boyfriend.

09:04.44
Craig
Um I was the the idea that’s coming to mind is that you weren’t sheltered I’m guessing that you know and was that.

08:59.14
Dori
Or no, no, there was a lot of Kum baah in my family in a lot of ways. But then there was also what I saw to be and this was this was in the eighty s so I don’t know that it would have been the same now in my family but but interracial dating. I came to learn at 16 wasn’t me. It was a cousin of mine like was just threw everybody into tizzy and I and that immediately told me something about race that really stuck with me. It influenced my politics and in not necessarily in the most predictable of ways like I would say now i’m.

10:04.88
Craig
Yes.

10:17.80
Dori
Very you know, kind of conventionally progressive politics are very different now than they were back in the 80 s but back in the 80 s I was like well I’m not going to necessarily vote for a democrat because I don’t see Democrats necessarily being really. You know, socially liberal in the way I think of as being truly open-minded and expansive. So my politics were kind of separated or how I would vote I should say was very separated in or this was how I rationalized at the time I look back and like I made some stupid choices about voting. Don’t get me wrong but I but it it in the back. But what I was rejecting was this idea that that a republican had to necessarily be worse than a democrat because. They weren’t socially liberal enough because I saw a lot of social liberals not truly in real life being all that open minded.

12:31.00
Craig
Minded. Do you feel like that’s um, that um I’m going to say that’s a pretty enlightened also a child of the 80 s we’re about the same age. Um I know what I was doing in the 80 s not that I was doing anything incredibly untoward but I was not. Spending a lot of time thinking about political nuance or social nuance and I’m wondering if you were aware at the time that I’m going to say that’s a little more enlightened than the normal generation. You know like you would plot us all on a bell curve I think you were a little bit more in advance in that thought and. Did that come did you notice that at the time and did that come from anywhere like did that come from your parents did that come from the environment did that come from something you read or.

13:45.68
Dori
Well I mean I grew up in the Bronx and I’m like from a very liberal jewish family in co-op city in the Bronx which I don’t know if you know anything about co-op city but I mean I mean historically co-op city.

14:24.28
Craig
I Don’t know much about co-op City but I know where the.

14:22.00
Dori
Let’s see it opened in 1968 we moved there in 1969 it was meant to be a place built to prevent middle class jews from escaping to the suburbs. It didn’t work but it um you know it it by the way it was like. I think it’s still the biggest housing complex in the country. So it’s 60000 people live in co-op city and um, you know so when I was growing up.

15:19.16
Craig
Boom.

15:24.34
Dori
It it was pretty diverse. It was diverse in the way things were diverse in the 70 s which meant that sure there were a lot of people who looked different from you but you know I didn’t I can’t say I had a lot of close friendships with people who weren’t white I have you know there are some people who I would love to get. 1 one woman in in particular who I would love to find I don’t remember more than her first name she didn’t go. She went to a private school which is very unusual unless it was catholic school. It was very unusual where I grew up and a black girl. Well she was black girl now she’s black woman I assume. Um, and um, you know and I remember her mom’s name I remember her name and she lived in my building and I remember she had a barbie head that um we played together and did makeup on like that was super fun for me I did not like dolls but I love doing the makeup and the creative stuff and.

16:58.88
Craig
Um, right.

17:21.20
Dori
She and I just really, we really got along Well um, we were both smart Um, maybe kind of smarter than a lot of other kids around I don’t know. Yeah.

17:53.32
Craig
Yeah, borderline too smart as you as a parent our parents will say too smart for your own good and.

17:53.60
Dori
But anyway to go back to your question so I was around different people. You know I again grew up in New York City and not in in in a particular in in a diverse place so I was around people that were different from me and look different from me and even though. There was a hypocrisy I saw in my grandparents in particular um my parents who were probably you know certainly also liberal voting Democrats but not quite as I don’t know. Maybe politically ah, certainly my mother was not a political activist at the time. Um in any way shape or form but she was a lot more accepting of a lot more ah socially because that’s just the kind of person she is to this day and. I don’t know just all of those things just came together to make me just the person I am and then when I moved to Brooklyn after my kid you know after having my daughter and that felt like home to me in a whole different way and and i. Ah, but I actually think it wasn’t until I got divorced my late 30 s was about when I started to make deeper friendships truly have deeper friendships with black people. Um, and you know i. I have a pretty diverse true friend group not just people who are like my 1 black friend or or acquaintances like you know, good friends and so the more you know people the more you understand like truly my mind has been blown to to understand the lived experiences and how.

21:19.24
Craig
Acquaintances man.

21:33.60
Dori
Different the lived experiences of so many black people I know are from not only for white people so like obviously duh they’re different in in many I think most people kind of understand that in a certain kind of way. But even people who I knew for a long time. Just. You know, certainly in the past few years even just understanding how people a lot of people have lived very closed off from sharing their experiences with white people because of of a kind of mistrust I guess I don’t know I don’t want to speak for other people. But.

23:01.12
Craig
Name.

22:52.22
Dori
But it makes me realize you know I was at at a I was at um, a panel at Soho House led by a friend of mine a black guy and he and he was interviewing Bomani Jones you know, um from yeah est pn.

23:33.32
Craig
Um, it brings a bow but I don’t.

23:28.32
Dori
And he was saying how have you noticed like black people always talk about race and it’s true I’m around my black friends always talking about Race. It’s just a common conversation. How many of your white friends talk about Race I mean I have some good friends and we do talk about race but they’re not the people I need to be. Talking to about Race. They’re the people who are like kind of like me interested in changing the conversation and interested in in kind of fighting this white supremacist sort of or white power structure that we live in where. The norm is white where the education system is created by white people about kind of white history and and all of those things. The people who who I want to have conversations with I Also don’t want to have conversations.

25:08.98
Craig
All right.

25:14.88
Dori
In particular with people who are very close minded because you know I mean.

25:34.90
Craig
Yeah, well there’s always the challenge of just because I can get someone to talk to me doesn’t mean a that I’m going to change or they’re going to change. That’s the whole That’s one of the challenges of why does 1 want to have any particular conversation are we trying to accomplish something. Out you know like are we working together to change something outside. Are we working together just to capture something are we working together to try and find things that we can’t see and there’s there’s just so many different parameters that you can choose to explore in any conversation I’m wondering if you’ve so. The very first thing I asked about like this is nice because I’m just like yeah this is really shows why it’s so difficult for anyone myself yourself to try and figure out who to ask to? you know, like who do I talk to next and on this show. Um, it’s actually super easy on this show because. I don’t have an overarching mission so it isn’t like I have to convince the world that lot keys are the greatest thing ever which by the way you really made me hungry I’m like Readingalism. Um, but you know if I had a clear goal then then it becomes important that you know if I’m doing a George Surat painting painting about.

27:20.72
Dori
But.

27:53.34
Craig
Point to list dots and I want to try and get a picture when I’m done but on this particular show I’m not trying to paint a bigger picture. So as soon as one says yeah I’m trying to you know, ah trying to cause a larger discussion about race to happen then you’ve set this challenge for yourself about how do you figure out who to talk to.

28:13.82
Dori
Straight.

28:32.30
Craig
Um, and even the question of should it be my own voice. That’s even heard like maybe I should try to figure out how to make this conversation happen and it’s not really me as one of the conversation partners. Um, so I’m super curious about like why did you? So Why did you decide you know having I was going to say just barely having. Managed to successfully create your own podcast which is on a more manageable topic myself you know doing it about yourself. Why did you feel like that going to this really complex I don’t mean that negatively but this really complex idea of Racism. Um or even political.

29:04.64
Dori
And honey.

29:17.52
Dori
M.

29:51.78
Craig
Contention. Why did you want to go there next with podcasting.

29:39.30
Dori
Um, that’s interesting and I don’t know that I want to I don’t know that I thought oh let me do this via podcast I’m I’m actually trying to figure out where the best place to have that conversation is but I think to get to what I think is. What you’re getting at is why why? this you know a lot about this time in my life has been to move towards deeply important things where I think I can make a difference you know I’m not terribly unique and in this moment of time where there’s just. 1 article after another about how people in middle age in particular are looking for more purpose and to to you know all that stuff and it by the way I like I now even talk about this on my podcast like I am so not somebody who likes now being.

31:12.84
Craig
Right.

31:30.74
Dori
Popular like doing the popular thing. It makes me very uncomfortable but I kind of feel like because I am kind of in an unusual place of having the relationships I have and having thought about this and and as deeply as I have and.

31:45.92
Craig
Yeah, yeah.

32:09.60
Dori
It being important as it is that I I can do something maybe that in my position that other people just might not either have that that kind of fire in their belly to do or the.

33:00.91
Craig
Capabilities there. There have been times.

32:47.76
Dori
The capability without being an without being an academic or without you know I’m not coming from that place. Um, but I but I want to get to ah something like why this is um, ah. But like what made this particularly kind of important now has to do in short I’m not going to go through the whole story. But I I have a friend who I I had a very difficult conversation about race with and I learned she was a very close friend of mine I Hate to say was. But it definitely for me changed the nature of our friendship. We are still working through that. What I learned in having this conversation is somebody who I’ve known so long. How little I could understand how about her and how little she understood about me and what I think about Race these are.

34:39.78
Craig
Um.

34:39.76
Dori
Not things that happen between black people like I feel like white people get away with not having really important conversations and what what was missed in that in in that whole thing was this fear that she has as liberal as she thinks she is as. You know all this the things that I heard out of her mouth I were just so like jawdropping to me that she really thought a certain way and what she was saying was and she literally said to me at one Point. It’s never been our time dory and she meant for I Guess middle class white women like us like there and you know that the struggles that we had like it. It’s never been our time and that was a so she she kind of revealed this fear and I don’t think she’s alone and the reason we even had the the argument we had was because I didn’t address something with her that I should have addressed when it happened and it kind of festered for you know. Kind of twothirds of a pandemic and it came up again and so that also just it. It struck me like there’s a like people who think that they are very open mindded and liberal but live in kind of these glass houses I Guess. I Don’t know just live very cloistered from having these difficult conversations.

37:48.24
Craig
Yeah, if you don’t if you have a small friend circle or your you know your Venn diagram of people is you know all the people are kind of the same then you’re going to wind up with a particular not quite worldview but your particular perspective.

37:55.14
Dori
And I don’t think she was always that way I don’t think she or even you know, maybe she just conflates kind of her younger life where maybe there was a little bit more diversity or maybe who she knows at an arm’s distance and whatever it is I don’t think I don’t. Like I don’t think she’s unusual and and it it made me sad that she she feels like there isn’t enough space for everyone and maybe these are real things you know because somebody to to actually make a more diverse and inclusive world there. There. Are a limited number of seats in certain places I mean that is kind of a reality and I don’t necessarily think that they’re all going to go to somebody else and not you and but there is that.

39:27.76
Craig
Right.

39:39.80
Dori
I Don’t know you know I think it’s worth discussing those things and not just being afraid or settling back into your comfortable place of power kind of I don’t know.

40:24.00
Craig
As much as I hate to say it every time I’m watching watching our time tick by um yeah I don’t know that well this kind of like 20 minutes is a good place to stop this doesn’t have to be the only time that we have a conversation. Um it is.

40:13.60
Dori
Um, yeah, yes, yes, yes, but we can move on.

41:00.98
Craig
Nice to I’m going to say to encounter fellow travelers who are like going. Wow this is really difficult I think I’m going to try and put some brain cycles into digging into the thing. Um and I’m not going to speak for you. But I know that when I look at problems like that. The first thing it took me a long time to learn was I don’t have to try and solve the thing if I can just be 1 of the people who is trying to be aware of the thing then that’s a step in the right direction. Um, that’s a lot of why conversation is the thing that I’m often talking about like just better conversation is a better thing. That means more conversation. But that’s my limited take on what we’re talking about here I guess I would just say thanks so much for taking the time today Dorie it was a pleasure to get a chance to finally talk to you Thanks.

42:20.46
Dori
Um, it was a pleasure here too. Thank you so much I appreciate it gregg.