Exclusive Interview with Justn Ist
Justn Ist was born in California in a suburban middle-class upbringing. Like many of the youth of his time, he grew up wearing hand-me-downs and eating TV dinners. Going out to dinner was a luxury, reserved for the once or twice a year celebration. In America, even a single father like Justn's could raise his kids, wisely save and invest.
After getting his Bachelor's degree, Justn met his beautiful wife at work. Although he was white and she Hispanic, they never heard a scoff, received a dirty look or other hint of disapproval from others. With black cousins, nieces and nephews, they had the ultimate diverse family.
In the 1990's and early 2000's, the country seemed to be entering a post-racial era. By 2008, the U.S.proudly elected its first black President. Yes, there were still individual acts of prejudice and racism, but overall the society enjoyed an openness and acceptance to others.
Then something happened. The voices echoing from the campus lecture halls to the Hollywood microphone grew louder and louder about unfairness, injustice, and racism. There was a desperation, a pleading in their tone at first that was neglected by the evidence -- the reality around them. But, like a wounded animal fighting for its existence, the quiet cries turned into deafening screeches. As the words reverberated through the years and the claims became more extreme, they gathered a fervor and rage not seen before, morphing into a dark and ugly hubris.
Justn and those around him were shocked at these cries especially when every statistical measure consistently showed the opposite trend. They began to wonder if they were just insulated, blind to the truth. Un-Corrected , Justn’s first published work, was the result of this search for an answer.
Tell us why you decided to write Un-Corrected.
I became concerned about the narratives that started to emerge around five years ago on race relations. The message was no longer about people connecting and learning from each other. The narrative coming from a social justice or critical race theory standpoint was often about achieving extreme political objectives that had nothing to do with camaraderie and understanding other groups. These new racial theories seemed to sow further division, resentment, and distrust.
What are some of the themes that can be found throughout your book?
Friendship and communication are key themes. The main characters are put in positions where they need to work with very diverse groups. For example, the straight while male protagonist is stuck at a party talking to a Puerto Rican transgender person for the first time ever. Let's just say it started a little awkward -- for both of them. But, by breaking down their own personal barriers (aided with a bit of alcohol), the individuals begin to talk and connect. The characters don't always agree with each other, but once a stance of mutual respect was engaged everyone got along and some even became friends.
Why do you think it is important, especially during these trying times, to bring these topics into public conversation?
There seems to be a growing acceptance of a new form of racism (or at minimal racial preferential-ism) and oppression that hides behind terms like justice, race theory, privilege, etc. Many of the proponents of these theories demand agreement and compliance without any discussion. It is their stated view that if you also don't actively push for their political outcomes (which most would consider extreme in themselves) then you are essentially a racist. This is clearly a danger to the free speech and other values that we hold in this country such as fairness, the presumption of innocence, etc.
You are surrounded by a very diverse group of friends and family - have you experienced many of the same difficulties your main characters experiences?
Many try to pigeonhole you into a category when you come from a differing political viewpoint. They start with assumptions about you and then learn about the diverse family, being an interracial couple, and they are very surprised that you don't fall in line with their viewpoint. But, there are similar overtones between traditional racial prejudice and the judgment you receive as a political outsider from the woke crowd. Instead of race, its being a minority opinion against those where dissension is not allowed. This is the "new prejudice". If you deny the woke dogma, you may receive hate-mail, being "cancelled", or even violence. As Bill Maher said, "They are replacing 'let's not see color' with 'let's see it always and
everywhere' -- formally the position of the Klu Klux Klan.”
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I hope readers will see the danger in silencing dissension, assuming one political point of view is good while the other is evil, and being fearful to speak our minds. Try this experiment. Go to a college auditorium during a lecture and ask the class a sensitive question on race relations. Then listen for the hissing sound among the stunned silence. It's the puckering up of a hundred rear-ends at once. We should be able to talk about these topics, especially in an institute of learning without fear, oppression, or ending up a humiliating meme on Instagram.
Do you feel the left and right can disagree but still be understanding and civil to one another?
Tolerance is not having a certain belief or political point of view. The key to having a more harmonious society is for us to understand each other. Context is critical to that process. But, political correctness denies the opportunity for that context. There is an instant judgement. If we all work together on looking within to fight the intolerance in our own lives, regardless of whether you are on the right and the left, we just might coexist and appreciate each other.
Your book deals with serious issues, but is told in a humorous way, what do you see as the importance of being able to laugh at ourselves as a society?
My uncle used to joke, "If you can't laugh at yourself, laugh at someone else." I think that too many in our society have taken this backwards advice literally. That's part of the danger of an overtly judgmental society, we lose the ability to laugh at our foibles. Jerry Seinfeld has said he won't do his comedy on college campuses anymore because they are too PC. When even Jerry Seinfeld is triggering you to run to a safe space, you really need to take a long hard look at yourself.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you next?
I'm working on a book about how political correctness is changing our language in today's society. As with Un-Corrected, I hope to bring humor into discussing a serious topic. That is, if I haven't just ended up as a humiliating meme on Instagram.
For more information, visit https://www.justnist.com/