Condemnation and defense of Sarah Jeong has fallen along the familiar fault lines of online culture. She has been portrayed as either a Pol Pot against white people or a Joan of Arc against racist and sexist trolls. But what if she is neither?
Jess, Teen, and Chris discuss how an old instance of performative wokeness (almost certainly intended in jest for a small media-class clique) has now been forcibly repackaged as a greater expression of minority, especially Asian American, anger. And who benefits the most from all this? The white liberal establishment, which not only gets to be seen promoting a woman of color, but also gets to extract a humble apology from her. Also, some football-bashing at the end.
The following are edited excerpts from “Sarah Jeong Is A White Liberal Shield,” the 40th episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A.
And it’s protecting themselves. That’s one of the worst things I’ve found in the voluminous defenses of Jeong, the so-called defenses. It’s being very dishonest about what she is supposed to stand for and who’s fighting whom. They pretend that Sarah was actually speaking to a disadvantaged minority audience when she did that. I don’t doubt that there were Asian women, men, and people of color who were following her on when she was on that streak about [white people]. But let’s be real here: she’s speaking to a white liberal agenda and predominantly to white liberals.
You can just imagine Sarah Jeong at the interview and someone grilling her, “Sarah, what is this?” And she’s like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I wouldn’t do it again.” This is our representaiton then? This is supposed to be Asian female representation at the top? Head lowered, kowtowing already before she’s even started the job to just keep the fucking job. [NYT] wanted that. That is what is exactly the optics they wanted [when they first hired her].
One of the things that pissed me off most was this argument that certain groups should just get status protection and they should be able to act any way they want because on the Oppression Olympics hierarchy, they’re below certain groups. I saw a lot of arguments saying that because she’s a woman of color, she can say whatever to certain groups and be as shitty as she wants. That’s just such a weak argument.
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