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Racial Tension!

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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 136

Whoa nelly! Elizabeth and Andy discuss the heated conversation inspired by episode 135 regarding racism as well as Andy’s potentially new diagnosis before answering listener questions about thank you note etiquette in friendships and what to do when that goes awry, whether or not Elizabeth and Andy took the babymoon they’d discussed, how to deal with feelings of betrayal when a parent is unfaithful to your other parent, and how to enjoy your big wedding day without letting it consume your life and happiness leading up to it. Enjoy!


Carolyn says:

Hi Elizabeth and Andy,

First, I would like to say that I REALLY enjoy all three podcasts. I was especially excited for this episode given the strong reaction to last week’s episode. I don’t want to beat a dead horse however, personally, I was more disappointed that you didn’t take the time to go back and listen to your response before addressing the comments than I was about your response in the first place. It was tough to listen to you defend your newer position knowing that you hadn’t taken the time to go back and hear exactly what may have upset some listeners. For example, I think that people’s reverse racism comments are in response to comparing a portrayal of an Asian immigrant in yellow face to portraying a white British male with a thick accent…

Anyway, thank you for your honesty even when issues get tough!

erika says:

I am half Chinese, half Caucasian. I have to admit I have mixed emotions on the discussion about racism. I grew up in the deep south where there is almost no diversity. I can recall as a kid being made fun of because I looked a little different and had a weird last name. And by different I mean, other kids didn’t even know what it was… They would call me “Indian girl” / “Ching Chong” / “Pocahontas.” I still had plenty of friends and learned that most of the time these people didn’t make fun out of hatred, but out of ignorance.

I have to point out that one difference between putting on the character of a stereotypical Asian guy versus a British professor is that the Asian character is generally intended to be funny and laughed at. The British guy is not. Also, when you’re celebrating a culture by wearing traditional costume it’s done out of respect, not in jest.

I probably would’ve laughed off the character at the party, but I don’t know if that’s because I’ve conditioned myself to ignore this type of “lighthearted” racism when confronted with it personally.

Another example of ignorance, which another commenter mentioned – the Coca-cola Superbowl ad… white people made some really fucking ignorant comments about this. It is so sad how some people are raised to believe America/Americans are superior to the rest of the world. That other races don’t deserve a voice in this nation. Meanwhile they don’t even know that “America the Beautiful” isn’t our national anthem.

Be informed… tolerant… and if something feels wrong, it probably is.

Kay says:

Thank you! It really is unbelievable to see how many ignorant people were “offended” by the ad. Apparently, we should all learn to speak “American” too! HA. Diversity is what makes this country beautiful.

CM says:

I can relate to a couple of the topics this week:

Thank You Notes:

I have had the same thing happen to me! I sewed burp cloths/cloth diapers for my cousin’s baby and got her a gift card. I mailed it, and never ever heard a word about it. My mom also sent this same cousin several gifts, and never received any “thank you” notes or acknowledgement of any kind. I have had to let it go, because I realize that some people either were not taught to send “thank you” cards and/or they just don’t care enough to. In the future, I will get tracking on my shipment so at least I know whether it was received.

If someone says “thank you” when you’re right in front of them, though, I don’t think it’s necessary to send a card. The writer-inner made it clear that her friend loved the gift in the moment it was given to her. That was the “thank you”, and to me that would be good enough.

Parental Betrayal:

This is a biggie. Something similar happened to me, and I want to encourage the writer inner that things do have the potential to get better. Here’s my situation: my mother cheated on my dad after they went to her 25 year high school reunion. She cheated on him with her high school sweetheart. She and the sweetheart started talking secretly on the phone, and eventually she took trips out to see him. She divorced my dad and married her HS sweetheart less than a year later.

Needless to say, my siblings and I were terribly disappointed in my mother. It was rough for a long time, and my mother never did apologize for her inappropriate actions. However, she and her husband have an amazing relationship (they have been married 14 years now). They work perfectly together and have one of those relationships where things are just “easy” for lack of a better word. When my mom and dad were together, it was tumultuous. They always argued and were like oil and water.

So, my mom’s high school sweetheart did end up to be the love of her life. They couldn’t be happier. Yes, they went about it wrong, but that is on them. I couldn’t make my mother apologize. I had to just forgive her and accept her the way she is. I love her and we have a great relationship now. We talk on the phone all the time and we go on vacations together. It is a great mother/daughter relationship, and I hope to have something similar with my daughter one day. People have their faults, and we can’t control their thoughts and actions. We can only control how we react to them, and hopefully move forward.

Kwame says:

I am not going to belabor the point. This is not a podcast about race, there are many podcasts devoted to issues of race and I don’t think we should ask that Andy and Elizabeth become instant experts on race relations in America. But, the fact that Andy chose not to read the responses, but *still* defend his original position told me a lot (the “ironic” we have an Asian friend joke became less cool in that context). It is what it is, but I think I am out on the podcast for a bit.

a says:

I agree- I was suprised that Andy didn’t take any time to broaden his view. I think Elizabeth did a very good job discussing this, with a lot of humility about the initial response, but Andy really should have prepared a little bit since it was such an inflamatory topic and so important to many of us listeners. I usually take everything A and E say with a huge grain of salt and a lot of leeway, after all this is a free podcast that they take the time to make for us. But I was disapointed in Andy this week.

a says:

Ok I commented above and then just read down further to Elizabeth’s defense of Andy, and it is totally reasonable that he was too busy to prepare for this weeks show by reading comments or articles – I get that. Props and thanks for being here to entertain us even when his life is so busy.

Still, he was pretty unmoveable on his opinion even when the new info was being discussed by E, which was hard for me to understand.

M says:

I agree, as well. I don’t think Andy has any obligation to read the comments or engage given that he is so busy, but his stance was disappointing.

That being said, Elizabeth, I give you credit for changing your opinion on the issue and taking the time to read all of the articles that were sent to you. I wish you could’ve taken the time to at least go back and listen to what it was you exactly said on the last episode to specifically address what your listeners were/are frustrated with.

Ultimately, this is a podcast dedicated to relationships, and I gather Elizabeth has done her best to understand where people are coming from regarding this whole thing. But, something deep down doesn’t sit right with me, so I am out for a bit as well.

Masha says:

I appreciate the discussion you two had about last week’s episode but I wanted to respond with a few specific thoughts:
1) Andy should really take the time to read the articles that Elizabeth read, so he can understand the perspective and history of yellowface.
2) Even if the ‘pimps and hoes’ party is more aimed at making light of impoverished people instead of people of particular races, this isn’t an excuse. People of low socioeconomic status face enormous challenges and making fun of poverty and the other factors that would lead people into prostitution is also offensive.
3) Asking a friend who is of a particular minority whether they would be offended by something isn’t the best way to find out if it’s offensive. Some people are shielded from the effects of prejudice more than others, so they may not have the same reaction. For example, many gay people say that they aren’t offended when people say ‘that’s so gay’. However, I would guess that many of those people didn’t grow up in homophobic families and cultures, and so they didn’t really experience the history and cultural issues that make many other LGBT people (and allies) cringe when they hear this phrase. If you grow up in San Francisco, where there’s still homophobia but not nearly to the same extent that you would experience if you grew up in the South, or in Russia, or Africa, you might not understand why it would be so hurtful to hear the derisive association of homosexuality with negative emotions (which is what’s being expressed when people say ‘that’s so gay’). This is just an example to illustrate the point. A much better method for understanding whether something is offensive is to google “why is _____ offensive?” See what the articles say and determine whether you agree with their points.

I also wanted to weigh in about a couple of the questions:
1) I don’t think anyone should expect a thank you card for a baby shower gift. I have a bias since I didn’t grow up writing thank you cards and the first thank you cards I ever wrote were for my wedding, but expecting new parents to write thank you cards is expecting way too much. If they do it, that’s awesome. But writing heartfelt thank you cards takes a lot of time! It took me and my husband about half an hour per thank you card, including the time to get the card, think of what to write, find everyone’s address, write, address, and mail. If you get 50 gifts, that’s 25 hours of thank you cards. I don’t have kids but I understand that you don’t have much time the last few weeks of pregnancy and you have even less time when the kids are born. That being said, the main thing I didn’t like about the situation was that when the writer-inner gave the second child a quilt, the mom said that the writer-inner loves the second child too. You can’t expect every child to be treated exactly the same (including receiving exactly the same heartfelt gifts), and setting up these kind of expectations puts a lot of pressure on people and can make the children feel like they’re constantly competing.
2) To the writer-inner who’s planning her wedding and feels really overwhelmed: It is an incredibly stressful time and I suggest checking out the blogs/books called A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride. Both of these are great about helping people feel okay about their choices and help them create the wedding that makes sense to them. I think the method that Elizabeth and Andy took of leaving it all up to someone else is amazing, and if you can swing it, do it! I planned my wedding and it was relatively low key (50 people, minimal decorations, catered but the food was a pasta buffet) and it still took an insane amount of work. A huge thing is to delegate. I was able to not worry too much the day of, but only because I had made sure ahead of time to be very clear with people about what everyone would need to do (of those people who volunteered to help out with some stuff) to make everything come together. Had I not delegated, I would have for sure been freaking out trying to make everything come together the day of. Another thing that Elizabeth brought up was getting used to life after the wedding. I read somewhere that people should spend as much time planning their marriage as they should planning their wedding day. That is, think about what you want out of your marriage, work on communication, plan how you’ll make sure to make your partner feel appreciated, etc. Doing some of this may help. After a wedding it can be weird to get used to not having a huge exciting event coming up, but at least for me and my husband, it was also an enormous relief that we could go back to normal life and not have to worry about wedding planning anymore. Our relationship didn’t change much after the wedding (we had been kind of acting like husband and wife almost our whole relationship), except that we had the relief of not having a wedding to worry about anymore. Good luck! (Again, I highly highly highly recommend checking out the two blogs I suggested. They will make you feel much better about the whole wedding planning process.)

Masha says:

**I meant ‘get the cards’. We didn’t buy each thank you card individually.

ERM says:

Thanks, Masha! I really appreciate you chiming in (and commiserating). I’ll check out those blogs right away!

Shea says:

Not to be harsh because I know it can be hurtful to feel unappreciated, but I don’t think giving gifts should be all about receiving a thank you card for yourself. It should just be for the giving something to the person and showing that you care. While it does always feel good to get a thank you card, I don’t think not getting one should negate all the good feelings of giving the gift and of the relationship you have with that person. If this is like par for the course and the person is always making you feel unappreciated that’s one thing, but just the lack of a card seems a little small to fret about.

Liz says:

I can understand someone not sending a thank you note for a baby shower gift if they received it right before the baby was born and things just got too crazy to be able to write them. Sometimes people are embarrassed if a lot of time passes before they’re able to write a thank you note and they feel like at that point they don’t want to remind the person how late they are. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been there, but in those cases I’ve also always thanked people profusely the next time I saw them and apologized for not sending a note. The total lack of acknowledgment here is what bothers me. I don’t think it would be productive for the writer inner to bring it up with her friend, but she should keep it in mind the next time a gift-giving occasion rolls around.

I was pleased with how Elizabeth responded to last week’s letter but disappointed that Andy didn’t take the time to absorb any of the feedback. That’s his prerogative and like Kwame said this isn’t a podcast about race issues. I was just bummed bc I didn’t think he came off that well. I’m still listening, though!

anna says:

Racial issues are among the most sensitive topics out there and i am heartened to see so many people share experiences as wells as express their knowledge and opinions in this forum. I hadn’t heard the term “yellow face” but am glad to put a name to that unfunny joke that has always made me uncomfortable. To my point, the activity here demonstrates how good Elizabeth is at creating a community where so many feel welcome to have this heated dialogue. With that, it is beyond clear the E&A are not racists. They’ve shared their perspective, background and transforming opinions. No need for any disappointment from us listeners. It would be unfortunate if Elizabeth, Andy and/or guests started to censor themselves due to unproductive scrutiny. I really appreciated Elizabeth’s point today on taking an educational approach in difficult topics like this!

Elizabeth says:

Thank you Anna! I do love the dialogue here, and while everyone may not always agree, I appreciate how respectful our lil community is 🙂

Alia says:

What I learned from this podcast episode is that I need to speak up when I feel offended/upset by something.

I’m half Arab, and most of my (close) family and friends have, at one point or another, made a derogatory blanket statement about Arabs. They say it in front of me and expect me to just take it and to not get upset. I always pretend I don’t care, and on occasion, I have even laughed along with them. Deep down, though, it hurts so much; I just don’t want to be the “party pooper” or the ultra-PC one.

Anyway, thanks Elizabeth and Andy for making me realize that I do have the right to say that I’m uncomfortable or upset. Andy, maybe your Asian friend who you make fun of really doesn’t care at all, but if he does, he has the responsibility of saying something. Otherwise you’ll never know how he’s truly feeling, and you won’t know that your words are hurting him.

Masha says:

Definitely speak up, and when possible, see if you can find someone else to speak up on your behalf. People tend to listen more if they don’t think the person has something to gain, so if a non-minority person is the one to speak up, people are more likely to listen. This is why straight allies are so important to the LGBT fight for rights.

Alia says:

Hey Masha,

Thank you for your reply! I don’t understand why I haven’t been more of an advocate for myself as far as the whole ethnicity thing. Being gay, I won’t hesitate one second to defend myself or the rest of the LGBT community if something wrong is said/done. I’d like to think that if I were straight, I would still stand up for the gay community.

Elizabeth, I re-read my last comment, and sure enough, its tone is almost the complete opposite of what I wanted to get across. What I meant is that it is our responsibility – “our” meaning anyone who has felt marginalized or minimized – to say something, at some point. Otherwise, how will anyone know that their words (joking or not) hurt? It’s not your or Andy’s responsibility to try and guess how people are feeling (I’m specifically thinking of his Asian friend he mentioned.) Once you KNOW how people are feeling and if it continues, then that’s where the problem lies, in my opinion. I think Andy seems like a great guy, and I don’t think he’s racist at all. He just needs to be told directly when or if he says something hurtful, even if it is a joke.

DT says:

From the side of almost total privilege – white, male, able bodied, cis-gendered – I’ve had to learn to accept when I get called out for saying oppressive stuff or acting in oppressive ways. No one likes hearing they said something wrong, hurtful or stupid. But, it really isn’t that easy to acknowledge that you hurt someone, say you’re sorry and try not to do it again.

Elizabeth says:

Just to chime in here regarding Andy not having read the comments/articles – I appreciate that would have been nice but please understand that Andy has what equates to 2 full time jobs right now (the project he’s been working on forever, Meg Myer’s new EP “Make A Shadow” is launching tomorrow – which means insane hours for Andy) plus he has a baby coming in four weeks, is taking baby classes all weekend and is somehow by the grace of all that is holy, still willing to sit down with my pregnant butt a few times a week to podcast. He has no time or obligation to read comments or articles right now – which after all was said and done, took a good few hours out of my week, and he is definitely still entitled to his opinion. Also, he acknowledged that his opinion hadn’t changed which would have been unlikely because he hadn’t heard/read/seen anything that would sway it. Sorry to be defensive but I am so protective of him, and he is working so hard and I’m just grateful to have him supporting me by podcasting. Thank you, and amen. 🙂

Robin says:

After also being a bit disappointed by Andy’s comments, this put it in perspective, so you’re not being defensive.

I think people being disappointed with you has to do with how close your audience feels to you- you share so much of your life with us, we get more attached to you- and therefore take your words so seriously!

DT says:

I totally get that Andy is super busy. But, recognizing your privilege and identifying oppression is a task on everyone’s plate. In fact, it’s already an example of privilege, which Andy has in spades as an able bodied, straight, white, cis-gendered man (like myself), that he can choose not to engage. If you’re a person of colour, you don’t get to say, ‘Oh, sorry, I’m too busy for racial oppression right now.’ Learning to recognize privilege and understanding the role it plays in the oppressions we perpetrate should be considered a fatherly duty, so he can raise a child sensitive to privilege and oppression.

He still sat down and heard the criticisms, as filtered through Elizabeth, which is more than 99% of people. But, it’s not a great excuse.

Katie says:

Thank you for addressing this, Elizabeth! It makes total sense – Andy is obviously a very busy man.

And to the above commenter: Andy never said, “Oh, sorry, I’m too busy for racial oppression”. That statement is just dramatic and plain ridiculous. He is incredibly busy and doesn’t have the time to read the comments on the website. That is a completely valid excuse, and it has nothing to do with any prescribed “duty”.

Loved the dialogue today, and I thought you guys addressed the issue well. Along with parenting, this is one of the hottest topics out there.

Kels837 says:

I completely understand Elizabeth’s comment above, and if people are going to continue to be upset about issues that are brought up, just don’t listen to the podcast! Andy and Elizabeth give up valuable time and do this for free – if you don’t like something, no one is forcing you to listen. Most comments have been super respectful and informative, but it’s like we’re beating a dead horse at this point. I, myself, may need to stop reading the comments themselves for awhile because I am getting so frustrated.

It’s one thing to stand up for what you believe, inform others, etc…it is quite another to keep repeating comments others have already mentioned. A&E shouldn’t have to apologize or defend themselves ANY MORE.

Erika says:

It’s awesome that everyone has such unique perspectives on certain hot topics like this. However, I think we all need to take a step back an look at the context. E&A are CLEARLY not racists. Furthermore, E clearly makes every effort to accommodate/acknowledge other peoples beliefs/opinions and even asks for feedback (hence this comment section). Cut some slack people – it’s a podcast narrated by the personal experience of one married couple.

Don’t sweat it E. Whether you’re talking about race, birth choices or the Pope, people will always disagree. All you can do is give your perspective from your experiences. While educating yourself on other points of view is important, I wouldn’t put too much weight on the negativity. It will always be there in forums like this – especially as your number of followers grow. Just address the perspective differences and move on. You’re doing a great job

To those disappointed in Andy –

The man has a full time job, is getting ready for a baby and does podcasts with his wife on the side. Seriously?! Cut him some slack.

Mel says:

I just wanted to weigh in on the Thank You card question. If this writer-inner is so close with her friend that she is considered an aunt to her children…I don’t understand why she can’t just be honest with her friend and tell her that it hurt her feelings. Or, if the friend expressed so much gratitude at the time she opened her gift, be ok with that. But maybe she could say to her friend, “You know my mom spent a lot of time working on this too, and it would really mean a lot if you could send her a quick note.”

I usually avoid confrontation like the plague, but I think even I could say this to one of my closest friends. No need to be accusatory, just honest.

Its often little things like this that can eat away at female friendships, when they could be so easily resolved in the first place.

Lauren says:

I was raised that saying “Thank You” was the most important thing. When we were given gifts and opened them in front of the giver we said thank you immediately. Eye contact was necessary and even hugging most of the time. If instead we received a gift in the mail or another situation where we opened the gift without the giver present we were required to send a thank you note. I have to say that this seems fair and logical to me. If I give a gift and the receiver looks me in the eye and says thank you and otherwise expresses gratitude/happiness I don’t need them to formally send me a note.

I really like the idea of be open with your close friend. I had a friend who swore by thank you notes and I rarely reciprocated. Ultimately the friendship ended because I didn’t send an apology note, though I sincerely apologized in person. If I had known that a note would have made all the difference in the friendship nothing would have stopped me from writing that note!

Nicole says:

Elizabeth and Andy,

Thank you for taking the time to record these very funny podcasts, for all of us to listen to, for free. They are always super fun, and you are both awesome.

MelissaH says:

I’ve enjoyed this podcast and the other Laime podcasts, but I have to say, I’m going to stop listening.

I’m glad you responded and did a little research, but your response and way of thinking are problematic and while I know it’s not your responsibility to create change, it doesn’t seem like you’re even interested in learning or changing your way of thinking.

Thank you for the podcasts that I have enjoyed, but I don’t feel comfortable supporting you guys anymore.

Elizabeth says:

Wow. Just want to say that I’m VERY surprised to see that we are losing loyal listeners over a difference in reaction/opinion to an advice question, I sort of feel like the whole thing of our podcast is that we give our unqualified advice and our listeners know to take it or leave it. Also, never ever have we said that our opinion is the only one allowed or we don’t respect other people’s opinions. In fact we debated our own opinions openly on today’s podcast and looked at it from many angles, it’s not like we were dogmatic in our thoughts… But that is clearly how you feel about your opinion – that it’s the only acceptable one – and the fact that we have a different response to an issue makes you want to not listen is surprising when I assume that most of our listeners are open minded! But best of luck to you.

Anna says:

Hey Melissah(nice spelling btw….)
The fact that you’re disowning Elizabeth and Andy for voicing a different opinion than your own makes you just as narrow minded as any racist/prejudice person. Get over yourself.

Masha says:

Melissah, I disagree with your comment. Elizabeth clearly did a lot of research and *is* interested in learning and changing her opinion.

MelissaH says:

Elizabeth, It’s not just a difference of opinion for me. It’s my worldview. As a latina woman who only sees her people in the media portrayed as maids or as the feisty firecracker, this sort of thing hits me hard. To know that Andy just couldn’t make time to educate himself on this issue hurt me because it’s attitudes like his that come from a place of white, male privilege that keep the rest of us down. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed your podcast, it’s that I listen to it differently and my opinion of you two isn’t the same. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. I tried to be polite in my comment and I probably should’ve explained myself more, but I was upset and for that I apologize but I still won’t be listening.

Anna, I’m not sure why you’re insulting my name. It’s my first name and last initial, but thanks for the insult I guess?

Elizabeth says:

Fair enough, Melissah~ I’m trying to put myself in your shoes and I would probably feel the same way if I heard someone have even a slightly different opinion than I do on something animal welfare related. This is because my own experience has formed my beliefs about the clear right versus wrong and I’m very black and white about that particular issue whereas I’m obviously not black and white (pun not intended:) on this racism issue. I respect where you are coming from. Again, all the best to you.

Shari says:

Melissa, why didn’t you quietly just cancel your subscription? Why did you have to broadcast that to the creators on a public forum? What good could come of that? It’s a very hurtful gesture.

Kwame says:

I have to echo Melissah’s comment. I do accept that Andy is a busy person. But I have a hard time believing that Andy doesn’t have 5 minutes to, at least, read some responses if not those articles. Everyone is supremely busy and has work obligations. The question is one of prioritization. And that’s actually OK. If Andy had said “I didn’t have time to read the responses, so I am going to bow out of the conversation” that would’ve been fine. Instead, he said “I didn’t read the responses, and you’re all still wrong and over reacting.” And that is uncool. It is the equivalent of saying “you’re opinions can not possibly have merit or influence my perspective or matter at all.” For me, it made me question what I thought I loved about the podcast, which was both of y’alls *genuine* interest in the listeners. Perhaps that is expecting too much, but it is the magic of the show. I don’t write this to be “hurtful” but only to explain why people may choose to unsubscribe. All best.

Elizabeth says:

Kwame, firstly, that wasn’t Andy’s reaction at all. You’re re-writing history. Secondly, he hasn’t slept this week he is working so much. He’s not just “busy” like everyone. A project he’s been working on for three years launches today. Maybe you don’t know what sort of a time commitment doing these podcasts is alone. He literally has no time do even do them and he still shows up because he loves doing them and supports me. I hate to say it but it *is* expecting too much. We make podcasts. We give our honest opinions that are in no way professional or qualified. We never said we have any obligation beyond that. Just because I engage doesn’t make andy some sort of monster for not. Please let it be.

Elizabeth says:

And actually, on that note, I can no longer engage on this topic. I love the respectful dialogue and a hearty debate but now it’s splitting hairs over us causing disappointment/hurt feelings based on how we handled the reaction to the initial question, which I feel absolutely no need to apologize for or analyze or learn from. I feel that we both reacted openly/honestly and discussed it for a half hour and were respectful and most importantly honest…

We’ve got a kiddo coming in a month. I have to go into an emotional self protection mode now and focus on the priority right now – Baby Oprah coming. I’m going to focus on surrounding myself in a bubble of peace! I appreciate everyone’s input, I really do, but I’m signing off from this topic. xoxo

Kay says:

I agree with Shari, it really is a hurtful gesture to broadcast it. Have you people forgotten that Elizabeth is pregnant. This type of negativity can affect her and baby Oprah. She took the time to read the articles and get informed. She took the time to try and understand. You people should be ashamed of yourselves for being so negative to someone who actually cares about her listeners.

Thank you, Elizabeth and Andy, for everything you do. Sending positive thoughts and love your way.

Om says:

Elizabeth and Andy,

This is my first time listening to your podcast. (I was so fascinated by this race issue I listened to last week’s episode too). I am first generation African-American meaning (my parents immigrated from Africa). Elizabeth I give you soooo much credit for engaging with this issue. I think you’re awesome. I don’t agree with your thoughts 100% on this issue. And I think its ok and even good when people can freely disagree. But I think you are an amazing example of learning to just see the other side (even when it hurts to feel like you’re wong). It’s not a race thing, is a issue of humanity that we should all do for one another.

I do get that it would be hard for you and Andy to see this issue. I have been mocked my entire life for being African or African-American (yup I’m a giver, 2 different ways to zing me). I admit I can be hypersensitive on this issue. But seriously, why is this Chinese character wearing a kimono. Last I checked kimonos were Japanese. So many things wrong here, haha.

Keep the content coming. I am looking forward to listening to more podcast. And Happy Belated Anniversary to you both!

WOW! I wanted to discuss this weeks episode too, but I’m afraid my point may have already been mentioned. If it hasn’t I wanted to agree with Elizabeth and say that there are different kinds of racism. There is the hateful kind, as in the racist skinheads, the Klan, etc. and then there is the ignorant racism in which a person says something offensive, or does something that isn’t appropriate, not to make fun of another race out of malice in their heart, but out of not understanding how offensive or hurtful what they are saying or doing is. I believe the party was the ladder. What the email last week was saying wasn’t just that the character was Asian, but it was racist stereo types that made up the character. Fu Manchu mustache and all. So I think it would have been best if the writer inner just didn’t attend so as too not contribute to the problem, but whatevs.
I LOVE THE SHOW, GUYS! I am a single fella with no kids, yet I listen to Totally Married, Mommy, and Laime because I love both you guys so much and am very much entertained by all three.

Anna says:

To E&A:
You do not have to please everyone in this world and you’ll never be able to so please just keep being you and giving your honest straight up opinions because they’re amazing and that’s why I listen to the show! Once you start trying to pleas everyone you lose your voice and some of these people are just being f*cking assholes haha.

Hey listeners who except them to have the perfect expert opinions and understanding of sensitive racial issues.. F*ck yourselves. 🙂

O-Shen Christ says:

I fully agree!! Be true to yourself. And you’ll never be wrong or unhappy

Sarah says:

I just want to send you guys xo! Thank you for entertaining me for 3 hours a week.

Also- thanks for making me realize that I am probably dyslexic. This explains SO MUCH!

Phillip says:

Hey Elizabeth and Andy,

I just wanted to let you know that I am on your side when it comes to this topic on racism. I was alarmed by the amount of negativity in response to your original opinion on the murder mystery character.

I am Asian and as I listened to last week’s episode in a car with three friends (also Asian), we all had the same reaction you guys did to the writer-inner’s question. She, and the majority of the listeners’ responses, portray racial sensitivity going way overboard. I can understand wanting to respect other races and cultures but reading through the comments was too much to handle. Upon discussion of this topic with the same friends, none of us were offended by the Chinese character or your response and we were so surprised that Caucasian people were more offended than we as Asians were.

You did not deserve such negativity directed towards you and I feel so bad that you were so hurt and affected by it.

P.S. Happy Belated Anniversary!!

Amy says:

As for thank you cards- I LOVE getting Thank You cards, and I send them out quite a bit. However, I can be pretty bad at “thank you for the nice gift” cards. I send out a lot of, “thank you for all you do for me,” “thank you for the opportunity to do . . . ” ect. If someone gives me a particularly beautiful or thoughtful gift, I do send a card, but I don’t regularly send Thank You cards for gifts. I’ve also been on the other side- I always hand make gifts for children’s birthdays and especially for baby showers. There is not a baby that is born that doesn’t get hand sewn hair clippies, crocheted blankies, hand sewn onesies, ect. I do this multiple times a year and have only once ever received a Thank You card back. It honestly never really bothered me- I once gave someone a baby blanket and she loved it so much that cuddled it and then showed it to every person who walked into the baby shower. It was the best thank you that I could have gotten- I made something that she loved and made her happy! I also LOVE seeing moms dress their babies in bow ties and headbands that I made them. It means so much more to me to see something be used and loved than to receive a thank you. Moms are busy and tired, they have enough on their plates what with all of the raising the next generation of humans. I’d let the thank you note thing slide. Of course, if it’s really bothering you, you can always just tell her that it hurt your feelings. She probably has no idea.

As for the racism issue- I think you handled it well. I definitely cringed listening to last week’s episode, but you educated yourself and formed a new opinion based on your new knowledge, and that’s what’s important. It’s a topic that we all need to be constantly aware of and constantly learning about, because it is incredibly important.

Paul says:

Wow. Who woulda thunk such a simple letter would have erupted into such a firestorm? I feel for you Elizabeth!

You bled all the mommy talk away into a separate podcast, perhaps you’ll now have to start up a fourth podcast: Totally Racist!

I love that you have fostered a respectful community of listeners who, for the most part, can engage in such a touchy conversation with respect and civility. I love that you listened to your commenters last week and were willing to have your mind changed if their arguments were compelling. I love that Andy, who has taken some flak earlier in these comments, even though he hadn’t seen the comments from last week, was willing to remember a time when he was in a production session and someone started mouthing off about Jews and how that isolated him.

I love your podcasts, Elizabeth, and your bravery at just putting it all out there and being willing to deal with what comes. Your podcast is a Big Tent community and encompasses people of all stripes and we’re not all going to agree all the time, but through compassion and empathy we can genuinely listen to each other and seek to understand one another.

We all just need to take a step back and learn a lesson from Ruby, and simply love each new set of legs under the kitchen table as they are, and then go have a piddle outside.

Okay, that metaphor breaks down toward the end…

Jessica says:

E &A,
Just read all the comments regarding the last 2 podcasts and wanted to send you some love. The majority of your loyal listeners are standing behind you, supporting you and rooting for you in every way. With everything you both have going on in your lives right now, the last thing you need to be worrying about is this! Everyone just needs to simmer the heck down, take some deep breaths and realize that life is too short to make 2 wonderful, smart, funny, loving, kind people feel like shit for something like this.
Hang in there, take all this with a horse salt lick, and take care of yourselves these next couple of weeks while you wait for baby to arrive. There are so many of us sending you love and light!!!

DT says:

Re. the writer-inner stressed about her wedding.
1. Accept that you will never be totally prepared. Make sure you have ‘managers’ in place who will deal with the bullshit that arises on the day. You want a buffer of crisis-managers who ensure you can just enjoy.
2. That’s one of the reasons for the Honeymoon. It’s a chance to get away, change the channel, focus on something removed from your every day life.
3. I’m not religious or an alcoholic, but I like the Serenity Prayer that is the organization’s mantra: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.”

ERM says:

Good point. As silly as it may seem, I have been working so hard to avoid my anxiety and stress that I’ve overlooked the fact that the wedding planning process (not to mention the addition of family illness) is INHERENTLY stressful. I’m going to work on letting myself off the hook for feeling those emotions, and allowing the stress to come and then pass. Thanks for chiming in!

Mariko says:

Thank you for the very interesting podcast this week. We are lucky to live in a time of relative equality where we can split hairs over racial sensitivity issues. I think Elizabeth handled the matter with a great deal of class. Her comments about fostering understanding instead of creating alienation were spot on. I also appreciated how she could relate to this issue from an animal rights perspective, which at times may involve defending an opinion that not everyone agrees with. As for Andy, although I felt like he was digging his heels in a little bit, I can understand where he’s coming from. Behind closed doors we all feel a little less patient with the inconvenience of political correctness.

Ok, now to split hairs! Elizabeth made a comment about how it would be a shame if we were unable to celebrate ethnic and cultural diversity due to a fear of being perceived as racist. I want to strongly point out that the problem in this particular case is that the Chinese character in this murder mystery party was clearly a total caricature. I don’t think anyone would find it offensive for a white person to authentically emulate and pay homage to aspects of another culture. The problem usually lies in getting it wrong! What might seem like minutiae to a Western eye can be appear totally ignorant to the culture being portrayed (such as a Chinese character wearing a Japanese kimono). Think about how ridiculous it would look if you put lederhosen on a supposedly French character. That’s when it crosses over into farce and stereotype of the most annoying kind.

A good example of this is Katy Perry wearing a “geisha” costume at the recent AMAs. I actually got an email about this from a white friend asking if I thought it was racist (I’m half Japanese, half white). I immediately felt guilty for being annoyed by the costume, as though I were being overly-sensitive and nitpicking on something that was clearly intended in an admiring manner. When I thought it over, however, I realized that the purpose of the costume was to use an inauthentic version of Japanese culture to inject exoticism, eroticism and visual flair to Perry’s performance. It was not about admiring any culture but rather about using inaccurate and contrived elements to allude to cultural stereotypes in order to enhance her performance. I think this is what annoyed me. It may not be malicious racism, but it’s a form of prejudice for sure. Just how annoyed to be about it is personal and we all have to shrug off certain biases regardless of what demographic/s we fall into, but I think it’s really important to understand the reasoning behind the reactions when these racial and cultural issues come up.

laila says:

I think the way you guys handle these things is great. You’re genuine, not self-censoring, but it’s also clear that you actually do care about other people and how they feel and that you’re willing to reconsider your opinions sometimes. That’s a fine line to tread, and you guys do it with grace.

a says:

Elizabeth, after reading all of these comments I just wanted to pipe back in to say that I’m sorry this has become a negative experience for you, particularly because I think you handled it in precisely the right manner.

It is natural to feel defensive when a bunch of people are telling you you are wrong, especially about something as sensitive as an issue involving racism. Hey, nobody’s perfect, and none of us know everything, or have had every experience, and all we can do sometimes is be open to learn.

I got a little hung up on my frustration with Andy, and only came on here initially to vent that.

But here’s what I’m taking away from this now – You got a lot of negative feedback and were able to weed through it and find new information try to broaden your outlook.

And then you shared that experience with all of us. If we can all respond like that in our lives we’ll be better of for it. Thank you.

Kaci says:

Hi! First of all, I am such a HUGE fan of the podcast(s) and I want to thank you and Andy for your dedication to providing us with hours of entertainment each and every week, even when it is sometimes uncomfortable to put yourselves “out there” and get criticized for your opinions. It would be so easy to just throw in the towel but not only do you continue to dedicate yourself to your podcasts, but you encourage these discussions (debates?) and continue to be so professional and empathetic in your responses. So, kudos to you!

I wanted to reply to the writer-inner who recently discovered that her mother has been unfaithful to her father. I must admit that tears came to my eyes when I listened to this question. It tugged at my heartstrings because I have been through an almost identical situation. Like Elizabeth said, it is a difficult pill to swallow when you find out that a parent has made a decision that you find so morally wrong. When I was going through my experience, I truly did not think that I would ever be able to have a relationship with my mother again. People would offer well-meaning advice and would encourage me to forgive, but honestly there was only one thing that got me through that dark period- time. It takes time to heal a wound. Yes, your mother was unfaithful to your father. But that does not make you exempt from the pain. You have your own wounds that need to heal and if you feel that you need to distance yourself from your mother for the time being while you wait for your wounds to heal, then I would encourage you to do so. I think that we sometimes feel so obligated to forgive and forget, especially with family, that we often do not give ourselves a chance to heal. With time I found myself forming a new relationship with my mother. It isn’t (and I doubt if it ever will be) the same relationship that we had before, but it is a relationship and I do feel like I am in a much healthier place and mindset than I was a few years ago. While therapy and speaking with friends was comforting, I truly feel that time was the ultimate saving grace in my experience. So, give yourself that time to process your emotions and lick those wounds. You deserve it and you have to remember to take care of yourself! 🙂 There is a light at the end of a tunnel; I promise!


Just wanted to send a little positive comment your way. It’s so easy to get caught up in something so close to my heart as race and it seems like everyone has their idea of the perfect response, and of course it’s not possible to.

Thank you for your amazing podcasts and openness. Thank you for apologizing. Thank you for taking the time for reading the comments. Thank you for trying to be the best allies to people of color you can be.

So much love and respect to both of you! Can’t wait for Baby Oprah!

Aim says:

Hey guys!

I love all three of your shows!

I don’t know anyone who agrees with everything someone says 100% of the time. I know that the topic of racism is a sensitive subject for many people, but I don’t feel like that is an appropriate reason to attack the two of you. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but the negativity of some of these statements is astounding.

Also, on the subject of thank you cards. I do not typically send thank you cards, especially if I say thank you in person or call someone to thank them. I was raised with the idea that you should always send thank you notes and my husband was too, but most of the time they are unnecessary. We sent them for wedding gifts that we received, but that is where it mostly stopped. I maybe sent two thank you cards since. I didn’t send any for any of the baby gifts that I received for either of my two children. Also, I tell everyone that I give a baby gift to, to please not send me a thank you card. I know how busy it is with a new baby. If the writer of the question is still bothered by not receiving a thank you, they should talk to their friend. If that is not a conversation they are able to have, they should let it go.

Kwame says:

Good gracious. Unless you develop a thicker skin, this whole talk show thing isn’t going to work out.

Elizabeth says:

haha, well I’m beginning to get the sense that you’re not a very nice person Kwame. So here’s thicker skin: fuck off. 🙂

Alia says:

Kwame, I thought you were not going to listen to the podcast anymore, so why are you still visiting the website? Elizabeth seemed very sincere in the last episode. She read the articles people posted, and she fully admitted that this was a learning experience.

It is unfair to be so dismissive of any genuine explanation someone has to offer, which Elizabeth absolutely did.

Anyway, let me just say that as a female half-Arab married to an Israeli woman, I would be delighted to hang out with Andy and Elizabeth. They seem very open-minded and tolerant towards everyone; it’s your problem if you refuse to see those qualities in them.

Christina says:

I know that Kwame may seem like a jerk, but Elizabeth, please be careful. Kwame must be a successful talk show producer because people just don’t offer unsolicited advice out of ignorance. No one thoughtlessly provides professional advice on a comment thread.

Kwame says:

Apparently it is cruel to point out the simple fact that attempt to assemble an audience, necessarily invites criticism. That an interesting show will necessarily drive controversy, and that it something public figures should prepare for.

Elizabeth says:

uh huh. Kwame, this is… well it’s funny to be honest! I’ve been in entertainment for 15 years putting myself out there, inviting criticism. Pulenty of it, believe me. The notion that you could tell me anything at all about being thick skinned or what’s necessary to curate and have a talk show (which I’m well on my way to doing) is beyond ridiculous. Clearly you didn’t post your comment to “help me” or give me advice (like you could!) Justify it however you want but you’re just attacking for the sake of attacking at this point. Anyway, please go enjoy your life while I continue enjoying mine.

Ashley says:

Hi, just thought I would send a suggestion for the girl planning a wedding but stressing about the day. One of the best decisions my husband and I ever made was to have a destination wedding and only invite our parents and my sister. The planning was very easy (just needed an officiant and flowers) and the day was just about us and not worrying about details or guest drama. We ate at a nice restaurant afterwards and everyone went their own ways and had family vacations while we honeymooned. This might be a great way for her family to spend time vacationing together as well if they wanted to do a family trip in light of her father’s diagnosis (if he is well enough to travel). We had a party/reception a few months later when we got back for a wider crowd but kept it very informal and were able to show wedding photos and videos. And I got to wear my dress twice. Honestly it was so stress-free and pretty cheap (aside from the plane ticket, but it was also a vacation/honeymoon). We just did a beach but I’m sure there are resorts that will take care of details for more money. I recommend a small destination wedding to anyone, best decision for us, maybe it will help your listener as well.

Love all three podcasts, keep your chin up in light of the recent drama, and good luck with Baby Oprah. She’s almost here! 🙂

James says:

It made me really sad when you started crying a little 🙁 It sucks to be flamed on the internet, especially when it’s so obvious you meant no harm by your comments.

Anyway…said a prayer for you, and sending good vibes! At least you learned something lol

Kristin says:

I wanted to weigh in on last week’s episode (and stay far away from the racism topic! lol Which, by the way, I think you and Andy handled beautifully. I agreed with you guys the whole time, and am not sure why it caused so much controversy…)

1. I, honestly, think Thank You notes are a little old-fashioned. I would much rather have a hearty in-person thank you than a generic note that I’m just going to throw away anyway. This may sound a bit sad, but the only time I send a thank you note is to a family member that I don’t really feel like calling! Ha. Otherwise, I call or email a thank you, or just say it in person!

2. To the girl planning her wedding: I planned mine in 4 months (which I think helps with the enjoyment of it…the longer you have to plan, the more stressful it gets), and the best advice I got was, “Your wedding is a celebration, not a performance.” As a perfectionist, I completely related to this girl’s feelings, because I really faced this same thing. But when I thought about how I wanted to look back on that day, I realized that I would be really sad if all I remembered was stress. So, I took it upon myself to make that quote my mantra. I wasn’t going to worry about every little minute detail, because it’s just not worth it! I wanted to enjoy my wedding, because at the end of the day, I’m married to my best friend in the whole world, and that’s all that truly matters. Nobody is going to remember how perfectly centered your centerpieces are, but they will remember how much fun they had, and how much love they witnessed between the bride and groom. Hope that helps!

ERM says:

Thanks, Kristin! You’re absolutely right. I’ll be working hard to remind myself of the big picture 🙂

Lindsay says:

Hey Andy (and Elizabeth),
You shouldnt stress too much about being dyslexic. I have dyslexia and function very similarly to you. It doesnt really interfere with my daily life.

I was in honors classes in high school and have a masters degree in architectural lighting. There will always be things that Im not great at… spelling, sounding words out, reading out loud, editing. My mom reads all my important emails and my thesis for graduate school (just like how Elizabeth edits your emails). It feels lame but i know that i have strengths that other people dont. My talents do not reside in music (like yours do) but in spacial understanding… Its the math/creative skills that we excel in (maybe not math in the typical sense but music is math and architecture/lighting design is math).

One tip I have for you is to try and read some books. The more you read the easier and more enjoyable the reading becomes. Think of it as a muscle you need to keep in shape. If you havent flexed it in awhile its gonna be a little harder to lift a heavy load. My dad is also dyslexic– more severe than us. There are very few books that he has finished but he was able to teach me that reading for pleasure is something that is important. I think this might be a pretty important thing for you to stress to Baby Oprah. Maybe, one day, she will suggest you a novel that she might think you’d like and because you love her you will do it– even if its challenging for you. That’s how my dad read and enjoyed All Quiet on the Western Front.

Be proud of all the skills you have and dont feel bogged down by your challenges. Also think of how lucky you are that you are so accomplished and happy. You and I are lucky that we are able to hone the skills we have.

*(please pardon all nonsensical parts of this note… this one goes unedited)

andrew says:

HEY! I want to keep this short.
First, background. 21, 21 years of black male experience. You guys are awesome for trying to put yourselves in the shoes of people its hard to. I just want to say keep going and your really awesome.

Sheila says:

THANK YOU NOTE: a thank you is absolutely common courtesy. No debate.

Keeping track of thank you notes is a sure sign you’re giving for the wrong reasons. Get over it. What do you do with the notes after? Keep them? Oh boy.

danita says:

LOL — loved this response! In general, it’s really important to understand that there are different love languages. Some folks really need to receive gifts or to hear words of appreciation and thank you notes are so important to them. Other folks want quality time or acts of service, and gifts or “thank you”s are not important to them. Others want physical touch, so a hug of thanks is what they want. Thank you in person should be a minimum requirement, and thank you notes should be optional, especially for new moms or moms-to-be who are exhausted.

Emm says:

Two things:

1. Just wanted to send some love to E&A. Questions about how to be sensitive to racial issues are very difficult, and E&A showed that they are definitely not racist by being open to listening to what others have to say and recognizing that a person’s lived experience is the most important thing to take into consideration. Even if Andy wasn’t able to come read the comments, he still expressed a willingness to consider his thoughts in light of what others had to say. And the fact that he would defer to his Asian friend about whether a joke is/is not hurtful shows that he recognizes that his own feelings about a group which he is not a part of doesn’t trump someone else’s lived experience. It’s totally fine to disagree with E&A’s advice, but it’s silly to waste your time calling them racists when they clearly are trying to be sensitive and open-minded.

2. Back to Andy…as much as I love listening to the podcasts that feature Andy, maybe he should consider taking a break from being on the podcasts when he is this busy. Lack of sleep can take a devastating toll on your health – it affects your immune system, makes you more prone to gaining weight, not to mention the terrible effects that all the caffeine you drink to stay awake can have! Since Oprah’s going to need a strong, healthy dad soon, so Andy needs all the sleep he can get! Elizabeth, maybe you could have a guest married co-host who could add a different perspective from his/her relationship?

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