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Scholar Cheryl Thompson discusses racist stereotypes, including the words used by comedians like Dave Chappelle, pictured here, in Toronto, in 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

What’s in a word? How to confront 150 years of racial stereotypes: Don’t Call Me Resilient EP 1

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Last fall, a group of 34 university professors wrote a letter in support of the use of the n-word in classrooms. Every single one of the letter writers was white.

Why is this conversation still happening? Why do white and non-Black people insist on uttering that word, the n-word? And when asked not to use it, why are they fighting for control of it? Clearly, we don’t get enough Black history in schools. But it’s not just about learning about Black history. It’s about unlearning the myths and stereotypes that have been carried forward generation to generation, and with our unlearning, finding a new way forward.

Ryerson University professor Cheryl Thompson, the author of Uncle: Race, Nostalgia and the Politics of Loyalty, joins us to discuss how North American society spent the past 150 years creating racist stereotypes. She discusses racist language, including words used by comedians like Dave Chappelle. How do these ideas continue to persist? Join us to hear why the production of these stereotypes matters so urgently today — and what we might do to help stop them.

For a full transcript of this episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient, go here.

Every week, we highlight articles that drill down into the topics we discuss in the episode. This week, Cheryl Thompson explains why she wrote her new book, Uncle.


Read more: How 'Uncle Tom' still impacts racial politics


You can listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. We’d love to hear from you, including any ideas for future episodes. Join The Conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #DontCallMeResilient.

This podcast is produced by The Conversation with a grant from the Global Journalism Innovation Lab, made possible by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It is hosted and produced by Vinita Srivastava. The producer is Nahid Buie. Production help from Ibrahim Daair, Anowa Quarcoo, Latifa Abdin, Vicky Mochama, Nehal El-Hadi. Sound engineer: Reza Dahya. Audience development: Lisa Varano. Theme music by Zaki Ibrahim. Logo by Zoe Jazz with help from Nicole Peña. Saniya Rashid is our research assistant supported by MITACS. Our CEO is Scott White. Thanks to Jennifer Moroz for her advice. Launch team: Imriel Morgan/Content is Queen.

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