Eula Biss is an American non-fiction writer and the author of three books.
You can’t think about something if you can’t talk about it, says Eula Biss. The writer helpfully opens up lived words and ideas like complacence, guilt, and opportunity hoarding for an urgent reckoning with whiteness. This conversation was inspired by her 2015 essay in the New York Times, “White Debt.”Eula Biss teaches writing at Northwestern University. Her books include On Immunity: An Inoculation and Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays.Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org This show originally aired in January, 2017.
You can’t think about something if you can’t talk about it, says Eula Biss. The writer helpfully opens up lived words and ideas like complacence, guilt, and opportunity hoarding for an urgent reckoning with whiteness. This conversation was inspired by her 2015 essay in the New York Times, “White Debt.”Eula Biss teaches writing at Northwestern University. Her books include On Immunity: An Inoculation and Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays. This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode "Eula Biss — Talking About Whiteness." Find more at onbeing.org.
“If you can’t talk about something, you can’t think about something. I’ve worked with students who could barely let themselves think, they were so scared of thinking the wrong thing.” This conversation was inspired by Eula Biss’s stunning New York Times essay “White Debt,” which had this metaphor at its core: ”The state of white life is that we’re living in a house we believe we own but that we’ve never paid off.” She spoke with us in 2016 and we aired this last year, but we might just put this conversation out every year, as we’re all novices on this territory. Eula Biss had been thinking and writing about being white and raising white children in a multi-racial world for a long time. She helpfully opens up words and ideas like “complacence,” “guilt,” and something related to privilege called “opportunity hoarding.” To be in this uncomfortable conversation is to realize how these words alone, taken seriously, can shake us up in necessary ways — and how the limits of words make these conversations at once more messy and more urgent. Eula Biss teaches writing at Northwestern University. Her books include “On Immunity: An Inoculation” and “Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays.” Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.
“If you can’t talk about something, you can’t think about something. I’ve worked with students who could barely let themselves think, they were so scared of thinking the wrong thing.” This conversation was inspired by Eula Biss’s stunning New York Times essay “White Debt,” which had this metaphor at its core: ”The state of white life is that we’re living in a house we believe we own but that we’ve never paid off.” She spoke with us in 2016 and we aired this last year, but we might just put this conversation out every year, as we’re all novices on this territory. Eula Biss had been thinking and writing about being white and raising white children in a multi-racial world for a long time. She helpfully opens up words and ideas like “complacence,” “guilt,” and something related to privilege called “opportunity hoarding.” To be in this uncomfortable conversation is to realize how these words alone, taken seriously, can shake us up in necessary ways — and how the limits of words make these conversations at once more messy and more urgent. Eula Biss teaches writing at Northwestern University. Her books include “On Immunity: An Inoculation” and “Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays.” This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Eula Biss — Let’s Talk About Whiteness.” Find more at onbeing.org.
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Creator Details

Birthdate
Aug 9th, 1977
Episode Count
5
Podcast Count
2
Total Airtime
6 hours, 42 minutes
PCID
Podchaser Creator ID logo 191331