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Departures Podcast with Sarah Kendzior

For experts who spend their careers studying modern authoritarianism, it has only recently become prudent to apply their analytical skillset to talking about political developments in the United States.

Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior, who stood out in 2015 as one of the lone voices warning that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, speaks with Robert Amsterdam about her latest book, “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America.

“It’s always encouraging when you see masses of people rise up, especially when they’re doing so on behalf of another,” said Kenzior of the recent protests for black lives. In her view, the pandemic and the allyship on display are intimately connected: the Trump administration’s failure to respond to the coronavirus “told white America once and for all: you, too, are disposable.”

For Kendzior, recent events are a call to action: “When I talk to my children, I try to teach it to them in terms of history, both so that they know the roots of the crisis, but also that they understand the way that people have pushed back against past injustices, and sometimes won. (…) That it’s not easy, that it’s not this arc of justice bending naturally toward triumph. It’s the result of people’s will to fight oppressive forces, and that’s what we have to do now.”