One week after sharing a supercut of podcaster Joe Rogan repeatedly saying the N-word, India.Arie has joined Daily Show host Trevor Noah for a serious talk about Rogan, racism, and removing her music from Spotify. In a 30-minute interview, the singer-songwriter and Noah discussed everything from responding to racist behaviour, to Spotify’s abysmal compensation for artists, to personal truths.
“I have learned in my life to make room and forgiveness for people who are unconsciously racist, because our whole society is built on racist concepts,” said Arie. “So if you’re born into it — if you’re not actively working to not be racist — then you have some of it in you.”
Arie drew a distinction between unconscious and conscious racism, saying that “if you know you’re doing it, and you keep doing it, I would say that’s a racist.”
“For me, when I think about Joe Rogan, I think that he is being consciously racist,” said Arie. “He knew that [saying the N-word] was inappropriate, and I think the fact that he did it repeatedly, and was conscious, and knew, I think that is being racist.”
Rogan was already in the spotlight for spreading COVID-19 information, but the footage Arie shared drew attention to some of the other troubling commentary made by Rogan himself and guests on his Spotify-exclusive podcast.
“I don’t like even saying that because I’m a sensitive, old soul, and I want to believe the best in people, so when I first heard his apology, my instinct is to go, ‘He tried.’ … What I really think is that he was being consciously racist, and it makes me wonder what he talks like behind closed doors. If you have even a consciousness where you can call Black people apes, there’s something there,” Arie continued.
“Wanting to see the best in everything made it so that it wasn’t oftentimes seeing what things were.”
Noah also shared his opinion that tackling racism and bigotry is more difficult because “we haven’t developed a framework in society to allow people to not be that thing.”
“If you live in a world where you are a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, whatever it may be… does society give you the option to not be that anymore, and does society give you the option to adopt a different label?” said Noah. “If society doesn’t do that, then people will violently refuse acknowledging any of these things [in themselves] because then they know that that means they’re forever condemned to being kicked out of society.”