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We talk with psychologist Katherine Kinzler about her book How You Say It: Why You Talk the Way You Do—And What It Says About You.
Then, we remember anthropologist and anarchist activist David Graeber. We play excerpts from our 2011 interview with him about his book Debt: The First 5000 Years. He died September 2.
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Race, class, and gender shape our social identities, and thus who we perceive as “like us” or “not like us”. But one overlooked factor can be even more powerful: the way we speak.
As psychologist Katherine Kinzler reveals in her book, How You Say It, the way we talk is central to our social identity.
We can change how we speak to some extent, but for the most part, we are forever marked by our native tongue—and are hardwired to prejudge others by theirs, often with serious consequences. Your accent alone can determine the economic opportunity or discrimination you encounter in life.
Our linguistic differences present challenges, Kinzler shows, but they also can be a force for good. Humans can benefit from being exposed to multiple languages —a paradox that should inspire us to master this ancient source of tribalism, and rethink the role that speech plays in our society.
Katherine Kinzler is professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, where she leads the Development of Social Cognition Laboratory. Read her article, below:
Bias Against African American English Speakers Is A Pillar of Systemic Racism
When David Graeber died September 2, our schedule did not permit us to replay our 2011 interview with him. Now it does.
Graeber was an anthropologist, an anarchist activist who was involved in the planning of Occupy Wall Street, and the author of several major books, the most famous of which is Debt: The First 5000 Years.
We spoke with him in July of 2011, just weeks before Occupy Wall Street exploded at Zucotti Park in downtown Manhattan and then spread throughout the nation and the world.
At a time when Trump & the GOP, after exploding the national debt with their tax cut for billionaires, are making noises about the need to rein in the debt by slashing or ending Social Security and Medicare, we thought it would be a good time to re-air an excerpt from that interview.