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The Thing About France: Thomas Chatterton Williams

The Thing About France is a podcast where cultural figures explore the fascinating and complicated relationship between France and America. In Season 3: Americans in Paris, guest host Liesl Schillinger interviews Americans in Paris during the COVID-19 pandemic via Zoom from her New York apartment.

Listen to the second episode of Season 3, featuring writer and cultural critic Thomas Chatterton Williams on James Baldwin, recent Black Lives Matter protests, and his new book Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race.

Williams grew up surrounded by books and liberal ideals—but in the 90s, he turned his focus to expressing his identity through hiphop and rejected erudition as inauthentic. His 2010 book Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture tells the story of his search for a more authentic way of life. Williams contributes to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Harper's Bazaar and is a 2019 New America Fellow and a recipient of the Berlin Prize.

Listen to this episode of The Thing About France for his thoughts on everything from America's ability to inspire a global movement (12:30) to his "nationalized identity" in France (28:04) to why he considers James Baldwin his "moral compass" (33:08).

The Thing About France is produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US.

Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud, and at thethingaboutfrance.com.