I’ll be honest: I needed to take a day to fully process the surreal interview Salon did with #CancelColbert professional hashtag outrage-ist Suey Park. Published yesterday, it’s sincerely one of the damndest things I’ve read in years. I can’t tell how much of what Park says is serious, how much is performance art, how much is mindless repetition of the buzzwords and narratives drilled into a willing mind by a modern humanities and critical race theory education, and how much is just social media-fueled Millennial narcissism, her personal “brand” cranked to 11 because it’s what her fans expect and it keeps the spotlight on her. Regardless, if you’re a reasonable, sane person, it’s almost impossible to read the interview from start to finish and still take Park seriously. It’s so out-there that I’d be curious to approach some of the Twitterati I respect who have inexplicably defended her and ask if they feel like they still can. I read this thing with a look of absolute bewilderment on my face half the time and when it was over all I could come up with is that Suey Park is the Shia LaBeouf of activism.
I’m not going to fully and seriously analyze the interview. I genuinely don’t know if I even could. I’m simply going to post some of the best excerpts from it here and leave it to you to decipher in the comment section. Yeah, contrary to the title of the piece, in some ways you’ll have to do the heavy lifting on this. I’ve distilled it down to the best, or worst, moments, but they still can’t fully convey the sheer madness — or willful bullshit — on display as Suey Park makes her case, keeps her name in the headlines for another 15 minutes, and makes it clear that she’s always been the center of this ridiculous #CancelColbert controversy because that’s the way she intended it to be. This was never about making a difference for the oppressed, particularly given that she managed to take the focus entirely off Dan Snyder and the Native Americans who were angry over his team’s use of the term “Redskins” and put it almost completely onto herself and her plethora of grievances. This was always about Suey. This was always about what she thinks is important, with herself sitting at the very top of that pile.
Here’s how the whole thing starts, with Prachi Gupta asking the questions:
Did you watch the Monday night segment on the “Colbert Report”?
No, and I think that’s an irrelevant question.
Why do you think that’s an irrelevant question?
Because you’re still trying to understand my context, rather than the reaction and the conversation that I was trying to create.
You don’t think understanding your context is just as important?
I don’t think so.
Right off the bat, it’s the same combative tone we’ve quickly become accustomed to from Park. From there the problem with the world, according to Suey, becomes obvious.
So what do you want from this conversation?
I wanted to hit the irony and inability of the left to deal with their own racism. I think as a result of the white ally industrial complex, for too long people of color have been asked to censor whiteness, they have been asked to educate their oppressor, they have been asked to use the right tone, and appease their politics in order to be heard. And in an effort to just contribute to the self-improvement of white allies that are often times just racist. So I think it’s kind of like pulling a blanket off the façade of progressivism. It forces people to deal with those conversations about race that go beyond micro-aggression and that go beyond being politically correct, to what it means to uproot racism in its entirety.
In that case, do you think that “The Colbert Report” itself is oppressive or just that specific joke or comment was oppressive?
I’m talking about whiteness at large.
Yes, “whiteness at large.”
Then comes either the best Millennial-ADD moment or affected impression of an ADD-moment — depending on whether you believe anything that comes out of Park’s mouth — you could possibly imagine.
So what do you want to see happen in your revolution?
I mean, it’s already happening I think. The revolution will not be an apocalypse, it’s gonna be a series of shifts in consciousness that result in actions that come about, and I think that like, at this point is really like, ride or die, in terms who’s in and who is out. I don’t play by appeasement politics, it is not about getting my oppressors to humanize me. And in that sense I reject the respectability politics, I reject being tone-policed, I think we need to do away with this idea that these structures are … that the prisons can undergo reform and somehow do less violence as a structure. But any example like that.
Wait, can you ask that question again, I got distracted real quick, there was a bird outside my window.
From there Park’s almost staggering narcissism takes over as she puts her work writing Twitter hashtags on the same level as civil rights pioneers who truly put their lives and futures on the line to advance noble causes.
I was asking you about if you want white people — because they’re still the majority — if you want them to be allies in your goal to end racism?
Well, one, they won’t be the majority for long. And two, I don’t want any ally who is going to use my emotional labor with no guarantee of aiding my liberation. And so I feel like this question that white America asks of us, “Why can’t you be reasonable to get us to work with you?” And I keep saying, being reasonable has never worked in history. All other big racial justice movements, all of the big historical figures in racial justice were never reasonable. They were always painted as crazy during their time, and even afterwards now.
And now, the least surprising moment of the entire thing.
Would it be inflammatory to say that you think white men are sort of the enemy?
Um. I mean I think they are, and we might as well label it. Whiteness will always be the enemy. It’s not like I want to hurt them, it’s not like I want them to have any pain, but like, I just want them to realize what they have, and to honor the advantages. And I don’t think it’s much to ask to just even acknowledge it.
Jesus, the youthful moral certitude and inability to see anything in colors other than black and white (almost literally, in this case). No, of course there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the proven fact that white people on the whole have it easier than people of color in that they’re born with certain advantages. But to call them the enemy is shockingly stupid and counterproductive. The fact is that if social justice is to be achieved, it requires an inherent balance which means that we all have to work together and antagonizing allies and potential allies by labeling them natural adversaries — and ignoring or dismissing the work many have done in helping push for social justice, particularly if it’s because they happen to disagree with you on one or two points — is unbelievably childish. As usual in cases like these, it’s perfect being the enemy of very good. It’s incremental but important positive changes not being enough for those who believe it’s all or nothing.
Finally, toward the end, Park talks about her social media “becoming.” And she explains that #CancelColbert was meant to be over-the-top because that would grab attention. The fact that it would grab attention away from an injury to a minority group she doesn’t care about as much as her own, of course, escapes her.
I think a really beautiful part of me living through, like my rebirth online, is that like it shows that it’s OK to engage critical thinking, it’s OK to admit that what I thought two years ago is very flawed, and that I have a fuller picture now, and it’s still incomplete, and it’s still ongoing and changing. I’m taking in new information, and after I made my first hashtag POC4CulturalEnrichment, I took in new information about how to make my next one more impactful, to make it larger scale, to make it more deliberate. And so I think that really had to realize that like, it’s OK that I like the Colbert show, it’s OK that I like watching it once in a while still, and it’s also OK for me to realize that it can be a both ends situation, it doesn’t mean that he is off the hook and he is like immune to critique because I enjoy his show… But then #CancelColbert was never literal.
It goes on from there, but you get the idea. Honestly, it’s exhausting reading. It makes your brain hurt just trying to digest such entirely alienating sanctimony. I get that I’m a white guy and that to someone like Suey Park this makes my opinion invalid, but that’s a ridiculous tack to take and it shouldn’t shield a bad opinion from criticism. Park doesn’t in any way deserve to be threatened; she shouldn’t be mocked because of her background or her gender or for any reason that isn’t directly related to her deeply absurd opinions and her actions of late. But when it comes to those opinions or actions, yeah, have at it. They’re deserving of every bit of derision and ridicule that’s been heaped on them — from people of all races,genders, and backgrounds.
But hey, here I am writing about Park again. She got what she wanted.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.