Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the host of Pensive Politics Christian Watson to the newsmaker line to talk about his background, recent Orange County op-ed and the pushback he’s receiving based on his worldview.
Leahy: We are joined by Christian Watson on our newsmaker line. He is the host of Pensive Politics. It’s a podcast. And also is a spokesperson for a new group called Colors Us United. Good morning, Christian.
Watson: Good morning. How are you?
Leahy: Good. Color Us United. It turns out that we’re friends with Fred Levin, who’s one of the organizers there. You probably know Fred pretty well.
And then also Christopher Rufo as part of this, as is Ward Connerly. Tell us a little bit about Color Us United.
Watson: Well, Color Us United really is, I think this sort of machine, an organization that is trying to organize Americans around a very basic and good principle.
A principle that America was founded upon, that our race, our identities, whatever they may be, do not define us. That we are colorfully united by one single similarity that we are all individuals.
And that should be the most important thing about us because that is something that is unique to every single one of us. It’s not a category.
It’s not a box. It’s not a statement. It’s not a political sentiment. It’s a sort of natural condition. And so we are formulated on that principle and we’re trying to push back against the ideology that says your race and other identities are the most important thing about you because we just don’t believe that’s true at all.
Leahy: Well, yeah, exactly. Tell me a little bit about Christian Watson. Who are you and how did you come to prominence here?
Watson: I host a podcast called Pensive Politics and I talk a lot about race issues on my program and on my YouTube channel where my podcast lives.
And I’m not quite sure I would say I’ve come to prominence quite yet. But I have been putting myself out there over the past seven or so months as Critical Race Theory has risen in the public consciousness.
And I have been doing my best to not warn people, but just to inform people about what it is and why there are better alternatives to these sort of fringe ideas of the academic movement and that America was much purer and much better for all of us.
Not someone who is of a particular group, Black or White, not someone whose particular sexuality, that all of us can tap into.
And that is the idea that we are all free people and that free people have access to reason and that we can use that to live good and productive lives. That’s how I kind of formulated my entire brand.
Leahy: Christian, where did you grow up?
Watson: I grew up in Pennsylvania for the first 10 years of my life, but then for the last 11 years, I’ve been living in Georgia.
Leahy: So you’re relatively young.
Watson: Yes, sir. I’m 21.
Leahy: Are you currently in college or what’s been your academic background?
Watson: I’m actually in college. I’m about to graduate in the next four to five months. I’m graduating a little bit early. I’m finishing up the first semester of my senior year.
I’m studying philosophy and journalism, which was a decision some folks question, but I have not regretted it one bit.
Leahy: Where are you going to school right now?
Watson: I go to school at Mercer University in Georgia.
Leahy: Oh, yeah. Good school. Good school, Mercer. Aren’t they a D-1 school now?
Watson: I think so. I’m not the guy to ask about sports.
Leahy: You’re not a sports guy?
Watson: My knowledge is iffy a little bit. I try to keep up, though.
Leahy: So there’s this opinion piece that you wrote for The Orange County Register out in Southern California, and the headline is kind of interesting. Black Americans Must Overcome Negative Self Concepts to Succeed. Tell us about that.
Watson: So there are these mindsets amongst African Americans. And I made my thesis from an article by Sonya Lewis and her academic partner and they were studying mindsets amongst Black youth, various demographics. This is not just inner-city Black youth.
This is inner-city Black youth, the urban Black youth of every demographic and every economic status. And they found one stunning similarity within all demographics: the youth were concerned about the idea of being authentic to their blackness, whatever that meant.
Or more simply put, acting Black. And this was much more than simply a fashion statement, although it was certainly a fashion statement as well.
They found that it was a statement about how one is supposed to interact with academics and academia. They found that it was a statement about how one was supposed to speak and then conduct themselves in their private and public affairs.
A lot of these Black youth thought acting Black should consume the whole of their existence. And this is not something I needed to study to confirm.
Throughout my youth, I have been accused of not acting Black sufficiently enough and actually acting White for certain things, and it’s always bothered me.
But until very recently, I’ve never really put a lot of thought into how to work past that. The article in The Orange County Register is an attempt or a product – is sort of a way to work past that mentality.
Leahy: I’m guessing then that a lot of people have been critical of you?
Watson: Yes. Yes. The mindset of acting Black, and especially in this era of wokeness, authenticity is the biggest thing because for a lot of people who happen to be, mostly – may not be, on the left and who happen to have woke ideologies, if you do not act a certain way that is different from how the norm is, you are embodying the language and actions of your oppressor.
This acting Black thing isn’t just some sort of colloquial thing that was concocted amongst a bunch of youth who just don’t know much about the world.
It kind of has roots in a broader movement, a broader system to critique what is understood as normal in America and to replace it with a sort of revolutionary technique.
So when you realize just the depth of this thing, oh yes. There is, sort of, no escape from criticism if you deny it.
Leahy: Let’s follow up on this. You attend Mercer in Georgia, a good school. And when you have these kinds of conversations at Mercer with people, how do they react to you when you say these things?
Watson: The interesting thing is we don’t really have this kind of conversation and that’s the unfortunate thing. A lot of people, at least in my experience, are very non-confrontational on this issue unless you force a confrontation.
If you force a confrontation, then you better believe there’s going to be holy rage to pay. But a lot of folks are very scared about talking about race.
They’re most certainly scared about talking about acting White or acting Black because they don’t want to be castigated as a racist or as an insensitive person.
And so I think my project at Mercer and abroad as well has been to allow – set a foundation that allows – for a productive conversation to flow forth. And sometimes when you do that, you get criticism.
But I don’t really worry about the criticism too much. I worry about: am I reaching the people who need to be reached and am I causing or encouraging people to be courageous in their opinions? And I think once I’ve gotten past that point, it’s all uphill from there.
Leahy: Let me ask you a little bit about your personal plan. So you’re about to become a senior right? Are you in your last semester?
Leahy: So what do you do after that? How does somebody with your world view, what’s your next career move?
Watson: What I’ve been trying to do for the past few months, and I’m going to continue my podcast. I’m going to continue running the Pensive Politics program.
I’m going to continue working with Color Us United to fight for race behind society. I’m going to continue just doing things that will allow my voice to be utilized in productive ways.
And hopefully will bless people with a certain different kind of understanding. That’s my hope at least.
Leahy: Did you ever talk to your parents about this issue?
Watson: Yeah, sometimes. And those conversations can also sometimes be hard to have. Not because anyone has a particular belief, but just because, again, the confrontation issue, this is not a critique of other people.
I myself have had this problem in the past. There are parts of me that just don’t want to talk about this kind of issue with anyone.
But as I continue to get out there and do this, I am beginning to engage more people and my family about this. And I’m happy that I’m able to do that because there are some folks who cannot do that, unfortunately.
There are some folks that, if they do that, themselves will be castigated and scorned if they hold a certain kind of perspective. But that’s not a problem for me.
Leahy: Not within your own family. When we come back, we talk a little bit more about this view of the world and the pushback that Christian Watson is getting on it.
Listen to the full first hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Christian Watson” by Christian Watson.