Hello and welcome to episode 12 of Diversity Hire.
Today we talked to Vinson Cunningham, a staff writer and theater critic at The New Yorker. We discussed the politics of criticism, artistic and ethical awakenings, our collective miseducations and misspent youths, what it was like working in the Obama White House, the NBA after the so-called “strike,” THE DIASPORA, writing during and after the George Floyd protests, and so much more.
(PS: Kevin is sorry for the terrible audio on his end - his apartment is cursed)
Thanks for listening!
Arjun and Kevin talk about nothing (0:00)
Vinson Cunningham, staff writer at The New Yorker (3:40)
Vinson leads us through his career timeline (5:09)
Why Vinson stopped working in politics after his time at the Obama White House (11:57)
Vinson details the evolution of his politics, from the Berlin Wall to 9/11 to Katrina to Obama (14:26)
Developing politics while working for the Obama campaign/administration (20:22)
What drew Vinson to write criticism (26:35)
The politics of criticism (27:59)
Understanding the argument of Afropessimism through the lens of the protests (re: “The Argument of “Afropessimism”,” The New Yorker, 2020) (33:43)
Projecting hope of internationalist solidarity (37:30)
Progressing past geopolitical binary arguments (re: “Transnationally Asian,” E. Tammy Kim, CJR) (40:35)
The fleeting dream of a player-led NBA strike (re: “The Exhilarating Jolt of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Wildcat Strike,” The New Yorker, 2020) (41:18)
Stephon Marbury and basketball’s fatal synchronicity with capitalist exploitation (re: “Stephon Marbury Has His Own Story to Tell,” The New Yorker, 2020)
Basketball talk (49:44)
Arjun talks about wanting to be a Knicks fan (51:09)
Is basketball discourse ready for a white guy to be the GOAT? (53:03)
Who cares about “diasporicism”? In essential things: unity. In nonessential things: liberty (56:40)
Vinson’s struggle with something he said in 2017: “Is what I’m doing a credit to my race?” (re: “Jerrod Carmichael Talks with Vinson Cunningham,” WNYC, 2017) (1:01:38)
The expectation that Black writers need to carry a searing, profound tone, (re: “An Interview With Vinson Cunningham, Staff Writer for the New Yorker” The Politic, 2017) (1:04:13)
Struggling to maintain control of your tone when working with an editor (1:09:24)
Arjun’s Feelings Don’t Care About Facts Corner (1:11:55)
The Diversity Tribunal (1:17:38)
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