Song: RISK! Theme by Wormburner and John Sondericker
Song: W18 (Club Edit) by Cassius
Live Story: The Blind Feeding the Lame by Leona Godin
Song: The Good Life by Tony Bennett
Live Story: Under Construction by Charlie Rucker
Song: Kya Baat Ay by Harrdy Sandhu
Live Story: Boundaries by Sam Blackman
Song: Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley
Terrific episode! All the stories were exceptional.
I was very disappointed to hear Sam Blackman describe the bodies of his black women patients in such a way…especially as a medical professional whose patients are putting trust in him by being vulnerable in front of him in this way. And to hear the audience burst into laughter as he was describing their bodies was truly horrifying. Some women have big breasts. Skin is sometimes sweaty. What is funny about this? While I would never want to be reductive of what kind of connection he had with this patient, I felt very uncomfortable listening to a story about a medical professional giving preferential treatment to a patient in large part because he found her whiteness and thinness attractive and sympathetic in a way he had not yet found his (according to him) mostly large and black other patients. I know that Risk is uncensored, but please be mindful that you have a diverse audience listening to these stories. Really did not make me feel good.
Sam Blackman’s rhapsodic tale of being enraptured by a jaundiced but still “very, very pretty” woman in his first job in the medical field is interesting. From first laying eyes on her to sticking around to meet and even interprete medical-ese for her parents, befriending her meant staying after work shifts all the way through the honor of being present at her moment of death. This patient stirred such human emotion for him that he cried on the side of the road, attended her funeral and stayed with her parents. That is a level of empathy and compassion and humanity surpassing what most of us can expect from any medical professional.
It’s far more than the detached, dehumanizing, ‘othering’ that the large Black women whose “pendulous breasts” are known universally to be such a chore to manage that the storyteller can play “losing his hands” under them as a laugh break.But nevermind those women, let’s return to those whose humanity REALLY matters…
Everyday, in ways large and small, in every field, from ‘good’ people and bad, there’s a way to treat Black’s less than
Dr. Sam’s story was touching and well told. I do have a takeaway that I assume is an unintentional message but you can hear it in his story nonetheless… Black people need black doctors. His description, his tone about his black patients is one that caused me concern, big black and sweaty. I knew Marybeth wasn’t black from his tone, there is a relatedness when he spoke of her that was obviously missing when he described the “typical” south side patients. I’m sure he’s a great doctor but black folks let’s go to med school so we can share the empathy that Dr. Sam automatically had with Marybeth. And no I am in no way call Dr. Sam a racist, you don’t work in the south side if you are just a disconnect.
Thank you Christianne and J for speaking out! I was a bit triggered and wasn’t quite sure if it was valid. So, I came here to see if anyone else had some of the same thoughts. I was in the wrong headspace to hear the description and the reaction from the crowd. I felt a bit ill-prepared to here a sentiment that I already know all too well, nonetheless, I love the pod and I truly appreciate the vulnerability and risk that all the storytellers dealt with in order to share their stories.
Sam Blackman’s gross comments on his ‘usual’ patients were really disturbing and racist. I guess maybe he felt he paid his dues and could talk like that? Idk. I stopped listening after that. I know one story doesn’t reflect the whole podcast, but there have been multiple stories lately from white people that careen into racist territory and language, and I’ve stopped listening as much. That was actually one of the first times in a while I tried listening… the first story was beautiful though, thank you for sharing that.
Kevin, why isn’t my comment expressing the same sentiments as above shown here? It was the first. I’m disappointed in your censorship.
I’ve posted everything I’ve seen come in about this episode. – Kevin
I just now read the comments, and I want to apologize for the offensive comments that I made during my story. They were insensitive and wrong, and I will take full responsibility for that and will not make excuses.
Pleas note the way I told this story in no way reflects the way that I believe I’ve treated patients throughout my career. I have always strived to treat everyone equally, and I believe, looking back, that I’ve mostly succeeded.
That said, I am sure that there have been times where I’ve failed (because I think it’s hard for white doctors or nurses to always be fully empathic to the experience of people of color), but I know that those failures were not intentional. They were due to lack of awareness or moments of ignorance on my part. In no way do I believe that by virtue of going to medical school or becoming a doctor am I entitled to offend when I tell a story.
I failed to anticipate and appreciate that my relating the recollections and thoughts from 30 years ago, in the way I did, would clearly be insensitive and demeaning to people of color, or people (men, women, transgendered) of different body types or shapes or sizes. I should have exercised far better judgement and discretion in my writing and relating the story, and again, I am sincerely sorry for that, and again I take responsibility for myself and will learn from this mistake and my poor judgement.
I was unaware that comments can go into a Spam folder. I found the original Natalie comment in the Spam folder and posted it tonight.
We removed the episode today and replaced it with an edited version. – Kevin
Kevin, I think now is a poignant time to revisit what happened on this episode with Dr. Sam Black (the irony). I’m one of the commenters above from 2018 and will say while I think this podcast is a great value add, I haven’t listened consistently since this episode.
I was just so disappointed by how, you wouldn’t be able to hear what your black listener clearly heard after one listen. It was like oh, even the most woke white person can’t see what we see.
As everyone begins there PR statements of not being racist please take the tome to reflect on how we all contribute. How this story was just another straw on the already heavy pile on Black folks backs. So please before we rush to proclaim our anti-racism, so some honest reflecting.
Hey J, thank you for checking in.
Okay. I’ve tried to follow the advice people generally give, to not explain, and just take the blame. But… I’m just so very tired and heartsick about how terribly, terribly hard it is to do this job, and how the harder I work, the less it looks like we’ll be able to keep the business afloat anyway.
Our goal has always been to be as compassionate as possible, to feature as many people from different walks of life as possible on the show, and to be extra mindful about the feedback from the listeners. We try. And we try.
I didn’t hear what the Black listener heard, because I literally didn’t hear this recording at all.
I did not hear the Vancouver recording of Sam’s story before we put it on the podcast.
I have severe ADHD. I can’t really do much about it medically, because I can’t really afford health insurance or doctors. But we work with it as best we can. I listen to dozens of stories each week as well as anywhere from 3 to 5 drafts of each story. I have to keep track on a weekly basis of how I told this storyteller you can’t say this and how I told that storyteller you can’t say that, and so on.
When we tour with the show, we can’t afford to send more than one person. So when I arrived in Vancouver to do this show, I was doing six jobs that night — audio engineer, director of storytellers, audience monitor, stage manager, host, and storyteller. It’s often hard to hear the storytellers from backstage, on account of acoustics. I had heard Sam’s story at least 4 times prior and I had coached him on it for the prior couple of weeks. At no point in the coaching process did the problematic lines come up. When I was backstage, I listened and caught about 90% of the story while I was doing the various things I needed to be doing, and what I heard sounded exactly like what we’d coached through 4 drafts. When I was backstage, I simply did not hear the problematic lines in the story. I must have been talking to someone else backstage at that particular point, about audio or crowd control or whatever else. So I didn’t know the problematic lines in the story had been spoken that night. I do cut corners sometimes and don’t listen to a story for the 6th or so time, because there’s always another few dozen stories and several drafts of each to then be focusing on.
So when people spoke up that those problematic lines were there on the podcast, I listened. I heard the problematic lines and had the episode removed, re-edited the story, and put it back up without the problematic lines.
I think a lot of people assume that we’re like Snap Judgement or This American Life, shows that can afford to have a dozen producers listening to every line of a story and chiming in about what to change, who have a 6-month production schedule for each episode, and so on. But no, we’re stretched very, very thin. Everyone who works for this show, including me, has to have other jobs in order to keep roofs over our heads. So things fall through the cracks, and we try to fix them.
Is this to say I don’t need to reflect about my own racism? Not in the slightest bit. I have no problem admitting that I have a lot to learn about that.
It’s just that you’re talking about “revisiting what happened” but I think, in this instance, you have an inaccurate impression about what happened. — Kevin
Thanks for responding and the background. I can read the genuineness in your words, that I appreciate. Editing the episode just seemed like an odd way to deal with the concern because the problem wasn’t that we heard them, the problem was that the lines were spoken. So now it’s a sanitized story where Sam still gets to talk about his love for the non-black patient without acknowledge out loud that he didn’t connect with his black patients in the same way. I, quite frankly, am such a fans of yours and have such a level of admiration that I took this harder than what makes sense. That’s not fair to you. You don’t owe me anything, so free yourself of that. I just found myself in a place that I think black people find themselves in a lot… my thoughts were “I love Kevin and he does great work so should I just give this incident a pass.” But even as I tried to continue listening, it just felt different. It’s like that quote “Death by a thousand paper cuts.” It’s not helpful to add to your burden now. So I’ll leave it at this- keep doing what you feel is right and I’ll do the same. Maybe I’ll find my way back.
Thanks J. Keep in mind, you could come tell a story on the podcast sometime if you like. It could even be about this particular incident/issue. We have our 3 minute and 30 second long anecdotes now too, for stories that zero in on one thing rather than a series of incidents. – Kevin
Thanks for hearing me, Kevin. I’m not much of a creative talent but will definitely think about this opportunity. Be Well.