Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast: Conversations with Jon Ledyard — Part I Formative Experiences

Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast begins a non-football podcast series with Pewter Report and former Draft Network writer Jon Ledyard about our personal experiences pertaining to the subject of race in America. 

This is one of several conversations Jon and I will have about race in America from our perspective. We believe that before white people can truly help, they have to learn how to become allies and that takes individual work. So, our primary goal is to target a white audience:

  • People who may not think racism is as serious of an issue as it once was decades ago but have become open to the possibility they are mistaken.
  • People who are empathic with the idea that racism is a societal problem but don’t know where to begin.
  • People who see themselves as allies and believe being an active voice is important.

Jon and I believe in supporting personal growth in this area. It doesn’t mean we can lead individuals step-by-step through the process — that hard and humbling work has to be done on one’s own and with people who make it a priority to do this work with others.

We hope to share our experiences and hope many of you can identify with parts of our paths, gain something meaningful from them, and seek out other educational resources.

I’m especially hoping those who consider themselves allies will listen to this podcast. Good intentions don’t always lead to helpful results and, too often, can unintentionally make things harder for the people allies are trying to help.

From my conversations with black friends and family, learning how to become even better allies and followers to those you’re fighting for is an important and often unbroached topic. I have no problem saying that has been an area of growth for me in recent years.

While we touch on this in greater detail this week, we build the foundation for these topics with a discussion of our formative experiences:

  • What we learned about race in America as children from direct and indirect influences.
  • How what we learned shaped us as young adults.
  • Why what we learned created huge gaps of knowledge, awareness, misinformation, and ignorance.
  • How what we often learned created mixed messages that were damaging for our ability to relate.
  • How we began to grow past these formative lessons.
  • Why thinking you’re an ally and actually behaving like an ally on this topic are very different.
  • Why becoming an ally starts with self-awareness and becoming the ally, not the hero.

How did Jon decide to create this series has a back story. My first experience interacting with Jon years ago was not a positive one. We had a debate about an article about black quarterbacks. And while our interaction didn’t deteriorate into anything ugly between us, I didn’t think Jon appreciated the nuance of the topic he was covering when considering it within the larger scope of the societal influence on the topic.

Years later, Jon had to leave the Draft Network over social media comments he had made several years prior that resurfaced and, I’m speculating on this, the company had concerns about the reaction of its sponsors despite Jon already doing a lot of the hard work and having the desire to be a direct and indirect influence on helping others take that path.

Listening to Jon’s farewell to the Draft Network that he posted on YouTube, I was struck by his accountability, signs of what he had learned about a subject that he had once known little about, and his desire to help.

I shared it with my wife, Alicia, and she had the same thoughts. Soon after, I got in touch with Jon and we had multiple coversations about our journeys as white men in America learning about racism. It evolved into the desire to do a series of podcast conversations around this topic.

Because we’re both busy with several demands, we don’t have a firm schedule for each show but this is an important issue for us and we expect to do more shows within the calendar year and beyond.

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