Junot Diaz, an MIT professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, appeared on Bill Moyers on Dec. 28, where the writer discussed among other issues the recent election.
“Even the communities who came out to vote, I think, were shocked by their own numbers and by their own power,” he said of the diversity of the vote.
He criticized Bill O’Reilly and his comments about the decline of “traditional” America and a new class of people who want “stuff.”
“It’s sort of delusional,” Diaz said, going on to argue that “the majority, the plurality of voters in this country think the economic system is stacked against them. But I don’t think that they therefore turn around and say, “We want stuff.” I think what they say is, ‘And the Republican Party is part of the reason the economic system’s stacked against us.’”
He argues that O’Reilly’s version of the election “doesn’t do justice to who came out and voted.”
Diaz, a professor of creative writing at MIT, also discussed the shift he has witnessed in how young people understand college and education and “the sort of way that economic forces have saturated education.”
“The majority of my kids act like they’re in medieval guilds. And that when they finish the four years, they’ll be given a piece of paper that allows them to enter into the economic sort of circuits,” he said, a shift from his own experience, when there was a “belief and the idea that education was just good for you. It was part of being a citizen.”
Going back to politics, Diaz clarified that he is not against the existence of a conservative party but feels that the GOP is not truly conservative. “What we have right now, the sort of weird way the Republican party has come together as a shelter for a lot of messed up and toxic paradigms,” he said. “That doesn’t feel like a real honest conservative party. It would be nice to have one. You know? It’s, like, I’m not looking for the end of any one party.”
Diaz criticized Hollywood for what he claims is its consistent disregard of the reality of a diverse American population. “I think our cultural industries have lagged even behind banking. Look, you go to a bank, investment bank and say, ‘Listen, you need diversity?’ Investment bank is going to say, ‘Yeah, we do.’ Go to Hollywood and say, ‘We need diversity.’ They’re like, ‘Listen, we can only sell white.’ Sort of strange, man. But I think it’ll change eventually.”
He also called the idea of a post-racial America “gibberish.”
“The election of one person doesn’t speak to larger issues, I think, the way that people would like it to. We have to address always not what happens to one individual, but what is happening to communities,” he said.
And what is happening to communities, he said, is not racist but specifically white supremacist oppression. “The racial system that has sort of got this planet under a grip, a racial system that begins with the concept of coloniality, the racial system that sort of operates, whether it’s the Dominican Republic or the United States, isn’t called racism, technically, it’s called white supremacy,” he said. “We don’t like to call it white supremacy, because folks get real, like, iffy. They’re like ‘argh.’ But technically, it’s that…So whether it’s the privilege of money, the privilege of gender. I mean, try to get boys to talk about misogyny and patriarchy. Boys don’t want to talk about that. Why? Well, because, ‘Darn, if I talk about that, that’s a threat to my privilege.’”
Watch the full video, via BillMoyers.com, below.