Anthropologist Karla Slocum joins hosts Jonathan Weiler and Matthew Andrews to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on Black communities. With her research in Black towns and communities, Slocum notes the intersections of these communities, structural racism, and access to health care in light of the pandemic. Slocum is a distinguished professor of anthropology and the director of the Institute for African American Research at UNC-CH.
Jonathan Weiler: This is another episode of COVID Conversations. My name is Jonathan Weiler. I’m a professor in the curriculum of Global Studies here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Matthew Andrews: And my name is Matt Andrews. I am also a professor at UNC Chapel Hill in the Department of History.
JW: And today we spoke with Karla Slocum, a professor of anthropology at UNC and a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at UNC. Karla’s research particularly focuses on Black communities, Black towns, from the 19th century to the present. And she’s also co-hosted this webinar series about Black communities in COVID-19. So, we tried to draw some connections today between her research in Black communities more broadly, and how Black communities inside and outside of those towns are faring in the face of the pandemic today.
MA: Jonathan, I was really interested in when she was talking about the big ideas and the big themes that emerged from her webinar series was the argument that a lot of academics and community activists were making about how really all people should be dealing with COVID. Though they were focusing on communities of color, we need to build on existing structures. That’s something that I’m thinking about now, as people are talking about, what do we do about police violence? What do we do about these specific moments? We can’t just fix it by creating brand new organizations, or I suppose we could, but there are these organizations that already exist and we need to tap into community activists and leaders.
JW: Matt, this is another issue that came up in our conversation as we talk about existing structures. We also have to confront the fact that those existing structures are — they are racist structures and they constrain, in profound ways, the ability of communities of color, of Black communities to face these multiple crises: the crisis of COVID, the crisis of police violence. One thing I was really struck by, Matt, was when Karla said, when we asked her about health disparities with COVID in particular, she essentially said this is no surprise that, of course, we’re going to be facing disparities in COVID, because this is part of the larger reality of Black life in the United States. And really, that struck.
MA: Me as well. So, we have our entire interview with Karla Slocum coming up next. (music) Karla, thank you so much for speaking with us. How are you? How are you doing?
Karla Slocum: Well, thanks for having me on the podcast today and I’m doing as well as I can under the current circumstances. I don’t have a lot of complaints, all things considered.
MA: How has your semester been, Karla?
KS: Oh, my semester is busy. Disorienting in a lot of ways. I’m actually not teaching this semester. So that has made my situation a little bit less challenging than I know for some other faculty on campus.
MA: Alright, so you didn’t have to deal with the sort of restart or the switch from in-person to online, though you probably did last spring. Karla, I just provided that academic bio. But one of the things that Jonathan and I want to do in this series is to give students who are listening a sense of the life and the career trajectories of the faculty here at UNC. And not in the sense that we need to be celebrities, but to give students a sense of the paths one might take to become a professor or better yet to become an expert in their fields. So, quick question, where are you from, Karla?
KS: I’m originally from quasi-upstate New York, depending on where, depending on your vantage point how much you know about New York, I grew up about two hours north of New York City in Dutchess County.
JW: So Karla–
MA: Go ahead Jonathan —
JW: Karla, I grew up in New York City.
KS: Oh you did. So for you, I lived upstate, but you know, sometimes I say that and then I meet somebody from Buffalo and they’re like, what are you talking about?
MA: Well, I will be representing the West Coast today. I am from Oakland. But so how does a kid from Dutchess County end up a distinguished professor at UNC? The two non-distinguished professors that you are talking to right now, we would like to know.
KS: Um, goodness, I don’t know about how you connect the thread from Fishkill, New York, which is the small town I’m from, all the way to here, but… you know, I think it’s easier for me to start with undergraduate. I went to UVA, I liken UVA a lot to UNC actually, it felt very familiar when I landed here: Southern public, large university — just felt very familiar. I was a French major as an undergraduate. I really didn’t get passionate about my French studies until my senior year when I took a lot of courses on French post-colonial literature. That sort of opened my eyes to a lot of the things that I ended up studying in graduate school. As an undergrad, in the earlier part of my career, I worked in the Caribbean. I was doing research and reading about post-colonial Caribbean and impact of colonialism, plantation context, those sorts of things. I was reading about all those things in undergrad, my senior year, when I was taking these literature courses. Because of my work, because of my undergraduate degree, I ended up living for over a year in France and working at a center for political refugees. That’s what led me into anthropology. I worked at the center where I had a lot of exposure from people all over the world who were seeking political asylum in France, and just kind of learning about the kinds of countries they came from. Their experiences led me to want to go to graduate school and eventually I landed on anthropology. So that’s a little bit of the beginning of it. And then you can see from the rest of my career, as I mentioned, I went on to focus on the Caribbean studying small rural communities. At that time, I was sort of interested in the broader context of what we think about as international development from a critical standpoint or a critical development studies and impact of development on a major economic change on small rural farming communities in the Caribbean. That led me here to continuing focus on small rural communities, but now in the in the American West.
MA: Karla, to prep Jonathan and I for our conversation today, you linked us to a series of webinars called “Black Communities in COVID-19.” I guess it’s a weekly webinar series that you hosted and where other scholars and community activists would make presentations. This was the series that explored, to my understanding, how people across the African diaspora have been impacted by the coronavirus and navigating our COVID-19 world. I haven’t watched every minute of every webinar yet, of every episode, but it’s a series that looks at just a wide range of topics: history and economics, higher education, the technology gap, food security, the arts. Could you talk a little bit, maybe start us off by talking a little bit about this series, how you got involved in it? I sense that perhaps you were the organizer of this series. And then maybe, we’re kind of talking big picture here, reflect on some of the main insights and impressions that you have from all of the information explored in this series.
KS: So, the Black Communities and COVID-19 webinar series that we started last April was a collaboration between the Institute of African American Research where I’m director and the Center… the CREATE Center at UNC which is connected to the business school. And so Mark Little, who is executive director of the CREATE Center and I were co-chairs of this series. The series actually was an outgrowth of something we’ve done two years, for two years prior known as the Black Communities Conference. The larger title is Black Communities: A Conference for Collaboration. And there, what we were really trying to do for these very large scale conferences but ended up kind of being annual…. what we were trying to do there was to connect communities and scholars in research partnerships, and the ultimate goal was to support Black communities in their interest in capacity to thrive and how could we leverage research, scholarly researching, in partnership with community leadership, as well as a variety of other folks connected to Black communities, nonprofit organizations, heritage preservation organizations, artists, activists, so it ended up being much larger than black community leaders and scholars, but that was the original portion of it, or the original idea. And so we just brought people together, basically, we just put out a large call brought hundreds of people together and these very dynamic conferences held in downtown Durham to just have this dynamic exchange and ultimately try to forge certain kinds of partnerships around different sorts of projects and activities and research that could be devoted to particular kinds of black communities globally. We’ve been planning to do a third conference in 2021, this coming spring, but COVID-19 up ended that but that’s where we came to this idea that we had so many people that were already really invested and interested in what we were doing with the conferences, that why don’t we just try to find another way to connect with people and that’s when we came up with the webinar series. We focus in on COVID-19 of course, and we just came up with the broad topics based on — we really scan like who, over the, you know, 700-800 people that have been coming to these conferences over these years. What do they do? What are their interests, and that’s how we pulled out the topics. I mean, some topics we knew, were key for look talking about COVID-19. So the first one we had on health disparities, we knew that was an obvious one. But we also have a lot of people who’ve been coming to the conferences that worked in those areas. But then the rest of it, we sort of observed what was going on with COVID-19 in coordination with who we knew had been attending our events. So one thing that’s important to know is that the people who participated in the webinars who were the featured panelists and speakers, they were by and large, almost always, people who had been presenters or somehow involved in our conferences in the past. So we tried to give them another platform, as well as opportunity to continue the engagement beyond the conference through the webinar series. So that’s really how it got started. And it was, you know, well-attended and dynamic. And as you mentioned, very… there was quite a range of topics that we that we explored in the webinar series. I think you asked me about some highlights, is that right?
MA: Yeah. Or that maybe the big ideas coming out of all of these different topics. If you were going to summarize some of the insights or the things that maybe you found surprising or most interesting coming out of these discussions? We always ask our students that that question, right? What did you find most surprising about this? And maybe I’m asking you that question.
KS: Right. Um, you know, what’s really interesting about them… First, I want to I want to say this, is that every time we finished one, I would think, ‘oh, that was the best one.’ And then we have the one next week and I say, ‘Oh, that was the best one.’ So it’s really hard for me to talk about which one stands out, because I really did think each had its own contribution. I also think it might be hard to talk about what was sort of a central theme that came out across them because they were pretty topically specific. But a few things that I can say because we always tried to have not just, you know, the talking head academics who were speaking but we always tried to have, in each particular session, a mixture of people that were working in organizations or were resident in a particular Black community as well as somebody who was also an academic scholar doing research. And so the one thing that I can say on the community side was the investment in sort of building on what was already there, building on — even during COVID-19 that there were already these organizations that were just kind of rolling up their sleeves and digging in when COVID-19 struck to leverage the kinds of resources that they already had. And a lot of them I mean — we’re talking about a range of communities too — we’re talking about some really tiny rural communities. We had somebody representing the small town of Eatonville North Carol-, I mean sorry, Eatonville, Florida, which is the birthplace of Zora Neale Hurston, a very small rural, southeastern town. But then we had some people representing major cities as well. We have people coming from Atlanta, for example, who were there. But even across that diversity of type of community, what we saw were the folks who were coming to represent those communities, were drawing upon the kinds of resources that they had. The other thing I can say is that there was a lot of quick action to support the communities as well. I was struck by the number of people that already had figured out what kind of resources they need, what kind of community needs there were. And we’re kind of pulling from the resources that they had to kind of do a lot of quick action, get information out to the community and that sort of thing. Yeah, so those are those are the two that I… the two sort of big things that stuck out for me.
JW: Karla, to back up, maybe provide us with some sort of bigger picture definitions, and then we can use those to zero in a little bit more specifically on the connection between COVID-19 and Black communities. Matt had actually shared with me an interview with public health specialist Camara Phyllis Jones, in Scientific American and the interviewer starts by asking her, so there are all these disparities, Black Americans are much more likely to get COVID and die from it. And so the interviewer asked, “so can you explain the impact of race?” And Camara Phyllis Jones very clearly and specifically said, “it’s not race, it’s racism,” that is the cause of these disparities. Can you sort of elaborate on that distinction, and then use that to begin explaining why these disparities exist the way they do?
KS: So I think that’s an excellent point. And I think I’ve heard that we’ve been hearing that from a number of people. It is not just the fact that there is a racial identity of a particular group of people that leaves them to be negatively or disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. It is the kinds of structural racism that we have across the societies that contribute to or that really are the cause of these kinds of disparities that we see. One thing that really stuck out for me too, going back to the earlier question, was the ways in which the speakers that we had — whether academics or representatives from communities — just underscored that what we were seeing under COVID-19 was not new, and was not surprising. And that goes back to this question of racism, which is that, to the extent that we have a persistent centuries-old problem of structural racism in the country, thinking specifically about the United States at this particular point, we’re going to see even, whether it’s COVID-19 or any other kind of health care crisis, we’re going to see these kinds of disproportionate impacts. And so yeah, so it is about racism. It is about all the different ways for our interest in black communities, in particular Black Americans, specifically. It is a question of the ways in which black people have had inadequate access to health care resources, structurally. You know, whether they’re you know… and there’s a spatial dimension of that too, in the sense of, you know particular kinds of communities do not have physical access to the kind of health care resourse — they have to drive much further, etc., to get kind of get the health care that they need. It is also about the ways in which people are treated in the health care system. The assumptions that there are about, well… how people are treated in terms of the value of Black life. We’ve been hearing this all through the Black Lives Matter movement. But there’s also been work that we know of that got a lot of attention over the past couple of years — just as an example about Black women in health care and Black mothers in particular, and how they are much more likely to… infant mortality and the death of pregnant women going through childcare and childbirth is much higher among Black women because of the kinds of treatment that black women and Black families and Black individuals experienced in our healthcare system. So these are all about this is all just sort of part and parcel of racism and it’s structural. It’s across all of our institutions.
JW: Just to follow up, Karla, in the in the webinar specifically about health disparities. One theme that seemed to me to keep coming up among the folks that you were speaking with was this lack of trust in Black communities toward health establishment and just a suspicion — I mean, for very good historical reasons — about just the medical establishment. And one of the people you were talking to has done research on the problem of recruiting Black folks to do clinical trials. And the result is, among other things, we just don’t — our medical system in every way is geared to insights based on white folks and not Black folks. And I guess I’m interested to hear you talk more maybe about that issue of trust and black communities and how that how that’s relevant to this larger set of issues we’re talking about?
KS: Yeah. I think that relates to what I was mentioning before. If you have had experiences and your community knows experiences that people have had where their lives have not been valued, as they have moved through the health care system, then it makes perfect sense that you’re going to have some some especially healthy skepticism. I did not mean the pun, but you’re going to have some considerable skepticism in interacting with those with those systems. I mean, I just think that… and really, it’s not unique to health care also. Think about education and all other kinds of institutions that we have. So I think it’s these — yes, yes, you mentioned it’s the histories, but it’s not even just the histories. It’s the contemporary. It’s the current experiences that people have, again, going back to what I was mentioning about the very current experiences that black women and children are having. This is today. And so when you have those known experiences that are happening right before your eyes and before the eyes of people who are part of your network and your community, yes, you have skepticism about your interactions and your willingness to seek care from these these systems. But even when people do seek care…. I would hate to walk away with this idea that Black people don’t have trust of the systems and therefore we’re just not going there. You have to put that in coordination with the experience. And there certainly are many people — most of us, I would assume I’m not a healthcare expert, so I don’t know the numbers and the statistics — but it’s my impression that if you don’t have this vacuum of people who are ever willing to go and see a doctor, I don’t think that’s the case. But nonetheless, as I said before, I think there’s a lot of skepticism about how that we’ll be treated.
MA: Well, Karla, I’m hoping we can talk a little bit about your research on Black towns and just to an offer up a definition of my understanding of this and maybe you can tell me whether I’m doing this right or not. But Black towns being these these settlements in the United States — in my mind these days back to the late 19th century, and they were established as a, as a place to provide freedom to people of African descent after the Civil War. And then, I guess a little more specifically after Reconstruction, and the rise of terror during the Jim Crow era, that these are the communities that you’re talking about, correct?
KS: Yes. So there actually are some Black towns that existed before the time period that you’ve just mentioned.
KS: There are some towns that predate the Civil War. The towns that I studied are — the towns in Oklahoma that I studied are towns that, yes, were after emancipation, during and after the period of Reconstruction.
MA: What are some of the town names in in Oklahoma?
KS: So the towns that are most well-known. They’re probably two, they’re the largest ones. Boley, Oklahoma is the most well-known, and the other is Langston, Oklahoma. There were more than 50 Black towns in the state of Oklahoma. And there are 13 that currently remain of those original 50.
MA: Okay. And I was I was struck by your assertion that the significance of Black towns and these Black communities is not just what they were. And as a historian, I instantly think of them as what they were, but what they are, what they are today. Could you talk a little bit about what they are today?
KS: Yes, that is the very often assertion that Black town significance — that they’re historically significant, and much of the work that has been done on Black towns is by historians, looking at how remarkable they were in the past. This is actually a term that’s used often to reference them that they were these really remarkable kinds of places where Black people were able to come together and have these very vibrant economies have these relatively socially cohesive communities, and that’s what they’re known for. I push back on the argument that their sole significance is located in what they were, that it’s in the past. And that’s because there are a variety of ways in which I found through my research, they actually are significant into the 21st century. Part of that, admittedly, has something to do with their historical significance. Meaning that they have such a very powerful story of what their past was, that in the 21st century, we are interested in connecting with that story, with that narrative. So there’s something very compelling to us as 21st century — as people in the 21st century about this story of a community that had all of this economic and social success. And we like to connect with that. And I make an argument in the book also that there’s a way in which this is very attractive to us in the 21st century, as we’re situated in this sort of post-civil rights era, and in some respects in this era where we’re constantly looking for this so-called post-racial society, there are ways in which I think people are drawn to Black towns because of this, this notion of them being places where Black people succeeded.
MA: Well, I use that phrase surviving and thriving, that people in these towns have survived and thrived. And actually when you’re… Jonathan and I have an intense interest in politics and sports, we do another podcast and talking about those those links, and I’m struck how people often point to the world of sport, to the NBA is proof that African Americans in this country are not just surviving, but thriving, just look at the wealth. You know, and it masks so many things. And so I sense that when you were describing these towns that there was a well, there’s a ‘but’ coming, that maybe there’s another side of the story here. And maybe I’ll put this as a more of a direct question, how are those towns doing today? And in particular, how are they doing in this moment of COVID, where we’re talking about all of the inequities that are out there? What can we learn, you know, from from looking at these Black communities that you wrote your book about?
KS: So there are a couple of ways to approach that question. And one way is to talk about the fact that black towns sit at the nexus of being historically significant or labeled historically significant Black communities, and they are also rural communities and we can’t divorce that Black town experience from the rural American experience. So when you start to talk about this idea of how are they doing today… On a surface level, it’s very easy to look at them as sort of ‘has been’ communities — again, going back to this idea that they’re significant in their … in only in their past. And so you can think about the ways in which they are economically fragile; that they do not have many local — some have none at all — local businesses within them, whereas that was the hallmark of their identity previously; that they were self-sufficient economically, now they no longer can be. And so these kinds of things are going on in them today. Many of these features though, you can find in other rural American communities regardless of the racial makeup of that community and the racial identity of that community. So I think that’s important to think about. At the same time that I say that, though, I am constantly trying to emphasize that Black towns do not… you know, don’t be fooled by what you see on the surface. Meaning that yes, you may go there and you may see that there are not very many businesses there, you may see that they’re struggling economically. But at the same time, as I’ve talked about throughout the book, and again, going back to my idea about their contemporary significance, there are all these different ways in which they are vibrant in other sorts of ways today, and that would be culturally — all these kinds of cultural activities that they have, again, sort of the the significance of the history today. That drop makes them sort of has something to do with their contemporary identity. So there are a variety of ways in which they remain significant kinds of places. And that has something to do with how they are today. So it’s a more complex picture than I think they are on the surface. A lot of times somebody might look at a Black town and think that they are, you know, ghost towns. I was recently in an interview where somebody was asking me about Black towns as ghost towns. And actually, I bristle at that kind of a label, because ghost towns suggests that there’s an absence, that there’s a void, that it’s… that there’s a ghost and that there’s nothing there. And there is really clearly something there in Black towns. You just have to look beyond that outer layer, that surface image, that constant — not constant — I guess sort of conventional or easily access narrative about what they might be today.
MA: You know I’m thinking how these black towns they were a response to a disaster, you know, to an epidemic, the disaster of the end of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow white supremacy, that particular form, virulent form of white supremacy. And I’m wondering .. and they’re predicated on the idea of separation of and I did not understand the difference between separation and segregation until I was in college and I read the autobiography of Malcolm X in which he very sort of clearly laid out the difference there. And I’m wondering in the Black communities and COVID conversations that we’re having. You know, with everything that’s going on with this health care system that is failing people of color in this country, with the videos that are coming out with George Floyd and Jacob Blake and the way in which white police officers continue to brutalize people of color. I’m wondering to what extent in these conversations was there a feeling of the solution to our current problems as Black Americans, is separation and to some extent, separation from these structures that just are not working for us?
KS: I would… First of all, the idea that Black towns are predicated on the idea of separation, there’s no question that these were communities people sought to form and join, because they wanted support among themselves. They wanted self sufficiency, to be able to support themselves in a context that had not just excluded them, but also, you know, left them extremely vulnerable — that their lives very vulnerable, had actually posed threats to their lives. So people were coming to these communities historically for their own survival. I think that’s really important. It’s not just this idea, we want to separate. It’s also this idea that we want to survive. We want to be able to be away from systems and structures that are threatening us. And we want to be able to support ourselves given this context. I think that’s really, really important. In the current moment… an interesting part about my research was that I always asked people ‘what do you think about this idea of being a Black town today?’ And nobody — I can’t say nobody — but very few people actually felt that Black towns, it was necessary for them today to be quote unquote, “all Black.” What I heard more was this appreciation of or affirmation of our discourse in the United States that racial diversity is a social good. And so nobody was saying I don’t want any Black, any white people in our community, I don’t want anybody who’s not Black in our community. Most people were open to that some people actually thought that that could provide, that bringing people of other races in their community could actually provide some value to them, social value to them. So there isn’t today this idea of we need to be separate, we need to be away from white people. At least in the research and you know, it was a research process on interviewing people, in the process of interviewing, these are the kinds of things that I’m hearing from people and just my experience, you know, ethnographic observation as ethnographic information from living in the communities. But at the same time, just because they affirm and accept and in some ways try to attract racial diversity in the communities — in some ways where they actually have put out ads to attract people to move into their communities or trying to think about building up the communities — even though they do that sort of thing, nobody has any illusion that we still live in a in a society that has structural racism that disadvantages the majority of the people in these communities. So what’s important there is that there’s sort of this upholding of what is an American ideal, if you will, which is that racial diversity, that there should be various kinds of people and everyone should have equal access and there should be equity in the society. They uphold — the people in the communities that I studied — uphold that idea, but they are very aware and speak openly about all the different experiences of structural racism they have encountered. So you have those two things going on. And one of these things, it made me think about an interview that has gone — or I guess a video that has gone viral during COVID lately — which it’s by a woman named Kimberly Latrice Jones. And it was right around the time when George Floyd was murdered. And she was one of the protesters and she was caught on camera talking about why people are protesting. And one of the things — that is a really passionate, powerful video, I really recommend people see it if they haven’t. But what she says at the end is, ‘we are after equality, we are after humanity. We are not after revenge.’ And so she’s actually saying this is what we’re fighting for. We’re fighting for equality, we’re fighting for humanity. We are not fighting to just sort of have revenge and takeover which you know, sometimes are these labels that have been applied to the protesters. And that made me think about the Black towns because there is this elevation of diversity and equality for all, as a good, as a social good, at the same time that they come from a community that because of the structural racism, they had to form this kind of community to protect themselves and they’re still aware that those things go on today as well.
JW: I can’t — Yes, I can’t resist a very quick comment here for the narrative we’re hearing from some quarters, about Black Lives Matter and these movements in general sowing violent disorder. When I just keep thinking to myself, what characterizes them as much as anything is their astonishing self restraint under the circumstances. We’ve focused a lot insufficiently but a lot these last few months on these egregious inequities in policing, for example, and what seems to fly much more under the radar are these gross inequities in health care which if we were just using a crude body count, would be much higher than these police shootings. And so I think the question is, how do we make the reality of those disparities, just more real and clearer to people? How do we communicate that the toll that that is taking in communities of color?
KS: I can speak more knowledgeably about this. Well, first of all, I’m not an health care expert. So I would leave it to somebody in a health field to be able to answer that question a little bit better than I can. I think about what… so now I move away from my research in Black towns, something more about the Black communities webinars that we hosted, where we did hear from people who are health care experts and health care scholars, health research scholars and have more knowledge in this area. And certainly, I think one thing that we’re hearing is just really an affirmation of what you just said that absolutely, we do see that there are these very gross disparities, and that COVID-19 has really just helped, unearth — or not even really unearth because what we really learn from those Black Community Webinars is that and we’ve been hearing it also elsewhere — that we knew these things existed before. We knew about these health care inadequacies and disparities, these gross disparities, we knew about them before COVID arrived. So COVID has really just been a way of underscoring what many of us knew and now it’s just a new health crisis that is revealing what’s already been out there. At the same time, I would not want to think that we’ve had so much attention on the protests that we now need to focus on the health care. I hope we can walk and chew gum at the same time. People have been talking about this dual pandemic. We need to focus on both of these things. I would not want anybody to think, well, we’ve got a lot of attention now on the police brutality question, but now we sort of slipped away from the health disparities thing, we need to go back to that. We should be able to look at both, we certainly have the resources, here at UNC, we’re aware that we have the scholarly resources that can help us inform and help inform us on both of these topics. There are countless resources across the country to enable us to be able to look at both and I think we should.
JW: Karla, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate your time.
KS: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed talking with you.
JW: This has been another episode of “COVID Conversations”, now part of the series of courses for the Carolina Away program: COVID Investigations. We want to thank Dean Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, the Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, whose brainchild this series has been. Klaus Mayr, our great producer, and Kristen Chavez in the communications office in the College of Arts & Sciences, for her wonderful work, publicizing the podcasts including making a transcript available on the covidconversations.unc.edu website, for those for whom that is a better way to consume the podcast.
Original transcript provided by Otter.ai and edited by College of Arts & Sciences staff. It may contain errors.