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             This episode, we talk with Jennifer Lynn Stoever--editor of the influential sound studies blog Sounding Out!--about her new book, The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016). We tend to think of race and racism as visual phenomena, but Stoever challenges white listeners to examine how racism can infect our ears, altering the sound of the world and other people. We discuss the history of American prejudicial listening since slavery and learn how African American writers and musicians have pushed back against this invisible "sonic color line.”Works discussed include Richard Wright's Native Son and music by Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly), Fishbone, and Lena Horne.Additional music by Graeme Gibson and Blue the Fifth.  Transcript [low humming playing] [CRIS CHEEK]This…is…Phantom Power. [COMPUTERIZED VOICE]Episode 5. [CRIS]Ears racing. [low humming and contemporary music fades in] [MACK HAGOOD]Race. We think of it as a visual phenomenon. [CRIS]But race has sound too. [DIFFERENT VOICES GIVING GREETINGS]Hey guys, welcome back. Hi sisters. Hey Jim, (inaudible). Hey everyone. Hey! [CRIS]When you heard those voices, did you give them a race, a class, perhaps some kind of assignation of character and if so, why do we do this? Where does this discriminating ear come from?  [MACK]I’m Mack Hagood, [CRIS] and I’m cris cheek. [MACK]Today on Phantom Power we listen, to race or to put it more correctly, we examine how we are always listening to race. Our guide is Jennifer Lynn Stoever, Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York Binghamton. Stover is the author of the “Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening” a book that argues that white racism depends just as much on the ear as it does the eye. She shows how listening has been used since slavery to distinguish and separate black and white and how African American artists and critics like Richard Wright Leadbelly and Lena Horne have identified, critiqued, and push the boundaries of this sonic color line. [techno-like music and a choir play in the background, then fade out] [MACK]Cris, when I spoke to Jennifer, she reminded me of a story that really shows how high the stakes of this kind of listening can be. [JENNIFER STOEVER]You know, I talk  in the opening of the book about the case of Jordan Davis.  [piano music fades in] [MALE NEWS REPORTER]It happened November 23rd, 47-year-old Michael Dunn told investigators he felt threatened at a gas station. Parked side by side with an SUV full of teenagers, the alleged gunman complained they were playing their music too loud. [JENNIFER]Jordan and his friends are playing hip hop at the gas pump. They were driving they had their music on. They were getting gas. Gas stations in theory (are) a transitory shared space where we all come in with our music we pump our gas and we leave. [MALE NEWS REPORTER]Detective say Dunn confronted Davis who was in the backseat and told him to turn the music down. [JENNIFER]The white man at question felt a proprietary access to the soundscape both it if he decided it was too loud, is too loud for everybody there, that his sensibility should be catered to. That there is a way that a gas station should sound and hip hop is not part of that. And when they said no, he saw that as as aggression. [MALE NEWS REPORTER]Dunn’s attorney says his client thought he saw a gun so he pulled his own weapon and started shooting. [last line echos a few times] [JENNIFER]Shot into the car. [MALE NEWS REPORTER]Firing at least eight shots. [JENNIFER]And killed a young man. [MALE NEWS REPORTER]Investigators never found a gun and the teen’s car. [ethereal music plays in the background] [MACK]In her book, Jennifer Stoever has a term for the way Michael Dunn heard Jordan Davis at that gas station back in 2012. The listening ear. [ethereal music cuts out] [JENNIFER]The listening ear helps us get at what’s really happening in a case li...

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