One of the more recent episodes of Yedoye Travis’ new podcast Dark Tank spends a cool ten minutes reading out the negative reviews that have been piling up. And if you couldn’t guess, they’re all crying “reverse racism” and that the show is “anti-white”. Bear in mind, that the entire premise of the show is that, like the hit show Shark Tank, Yedoye Travis sits with two other black “Sharks” and has a white person (typically a comic) pitch some sort of invention or devise to fight and/or punish racism.
The pitches are largely hypothetical and exist in the abstract. A particularly resonant one, on a different episode, is where a “gentrepreneur” (Travis’ word) suggests a recoding of DNA wherein the baby is a baby of a different color. Your infant will change races randomly all through its life until it turns eighteen and settles on a random race like some literal genetic lottery. The idea, in the pitcher’s mind, is that the parents will have time to love and care for the child based on who they are in their hearts and not from their skin. These are the hypothetical solutions the show’s premise is based on. They’re always inventive and, they’re always outlandish yet poignant.
But this pitch segment is only how the episodes start. They quickly diverge from the actual pitch and start discussing the various ins and outs. It’s so easy to get into the weeds when figuring out why exactly a hypothetical ankle monitor that zaps white people who call the cops on black kids really wouldn’t work. But instead of going into the practical reasons (where there are infinite, as with most of the pitches) they go straight to the seed of it. The rest, and this not a strike, is fairly standard fare we’d come to expect from any podcast worth our time. Good banter, good insight, fun asides, etc.
The real attraction to the show is Yedoye Travis and it may not be in the way you expected. He exudes a genuine curiosity for other people’s ideas and often times he’ll go long stretches without talking – letting his other Sharks and White Entrepreneur work everything out between themselves. There are times where you forget he’s there, and he’ll chime in with an awkward gag that maybe doesn’t necessarily land but, rather, reminds the other speakers that the show is designed to be relatively light hearted.
There was a moment when a Shark said to Yedoye that she wants to just hold his head to her bosom like a child because he just now realized how drenched in Confederate and Neo-Nationalism his childhood actually was. In a way, the listener is not only learning about the billions of shades racism has, they’re also listening to Yedoye Travis himself figure things out and routinely be blown away by his own discoveries.
So when you hear them list off the bad reviews, the reviews themselves all seem even more childish and ignorant. Now don’t get it twisted, each episode starts with a couple of funny jabs at white people, but any white listener that actually gets tight about it (tight enough to leave a review no less) is unlikely to benefit from the lessons the show has to offer. In a way, the comical “anti-white” sentiment the show has is a type of filter. The white person pitches ideas and is subject to judgment by the black panelists. On the surface, the “Dark Tank” weighs in on and shows the White Person how little they actually know about racist issues, but in reality, the podcast is all of them untangling the mess together, learning together, and being more enriched by the end of it.
In short, the podcast is positively worth listening to. It comes at a time in our cultural climate where, yeah, the black panelists are tired and frustrated with how America has been treating them and they want White people to realize that. But even still, they want to learn and communicate and try to figure all of this out. If you are reading this review and you’re white enough to be offended by the podcast, you should listen anyway. It’s important to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. It’s important to have people talk about you like you’re not there. And once you get through the first ten minutes or so you’ll realize how engaged you actually are.