Affirmatively Unjust (with Saida Grundy) | Crooked Media
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July 13, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
Affirmatively Unjust (with Saida Grundy)

In This Episode

Saida Grundy, Professor of Sociology, African American Studies, and Gender Studies at Boston University, joins Damon to discuss the historical context and future implications of the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action decision. Saida sticks around for Dear Damon and helps unpack the situation surrounding Keke Palmer’s Usher experience and her semi-nameless baby’s daddy patriarchal reaction for a curious listener.






Saida Grundy: So Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes some racial faux pas and she has to correct and she says, you know, go get me, you know, African-American studies professors. And so there’s a scene—


Damon Young: [laughs] I remember that scene. 


Saida Grundy: Where she’s suppose to have this photo op, with all these after African-American studies professors and they’re all white. [laughter] And she’s like what the hell’s going on? [laughter] And I thought that was the most beautiful description of academia to ever be televised. She’s like, so there’s this white woman who’s like, I’m the chair at Howard. And she’s like [laughter] what the hell?


Damon Young: [music plays] Welcome back, everyone to Stuck with Damon Young. The show that I am only hosting because I get paid a lot of money for it and I only need the money so that when it’s time for my kids to go to college, instead of them having a high GPA, I can just donate some money to it and then boom, automatic admission. So any way, to put the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against affirmative action in both an historical and a present day context. I’m joined by the homie Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy, who as a career academic, has a very unique perspective on how this ruling will impact campuses in the fall. And then Sai also joins us for Dear Damon as we answer a question about the very public conversations about Keke Palmer, Keke Palmer’s baby daddy, and I don’t know, just the state of men in general. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] Saida Grundy is the recently tenured, my nigga got tenure. Recently tenured professor at Boston University. Sai, what’s good?


Saida Grundy: I am good. I just came back from the Berkshires. That was actually really fun. White liberals out there are like aggressively white liberal. Like they want to like out liberal each other. It’s like really fascinating. I mean, so it was all scholars of Dubois, but a lot of us that small children so folks were out there were like leading the other children through downtown walking to get ice cream, walk to the bookstore. The white people were like moving off the sidewalk. It was like some sort of like social reparations [laughs] it was amazing. 


Damon Young: That sounds like a deleted scene from Get Out. 


Saida Grundy: Truly. 


Damon Young: Like that sounds like something that was left on the cutting room floor. 


Saida Grundy: Truly, these are white people who kind of pride themselves on like, oh, you know, this region was always, you know, part of abolition. We’ve always had, you know, free both African and Afro Indian, you know, residents. It was fascinating as a study of like white liberalism. Just when you think Massachusetts can’t get more liberal, you got to Berkshires. 


Damon Young: I feel like that’s a perfect segue way for I want to talk to you about because you are recently tenure. Right. So congratulations on that. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. So I can say all sorts of, I can say bitch what’s my favorite word? 


Damon Young: [laughs] Yes. 


Saida Grundy: I can say all sorts of stuff right now. 


Damon Young: And so I guess I just want to know, since your tenure was your tenure, your glasses, your loft, your glasses [laughter] your life were a product of affirmative action? 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, absolutely. 


Damon Young: And since all of that shit is getting reversed, are you going to have to give that all back now? Like, how does it feel to have an entire career—


Saida Grundy: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 


Damon Young: [laughs] That is due to affirmative action and not your own merit. Not your own merit. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. Yeah, of course. Right, right, right, right. 


Damon Young: But just how is it how does it feel to be one of them people? 


Saida Grundy: First of all, I always say, you know, my affirmative action is that I’m not at all better than the other Black academics I know. So that’s the real affirmative action, is that like I get to roll with Black people who are so much better than me at a number of things, not to mention the ones who are far worse than me and I. I wonder if they wake up [laughter] thanking affirmative action for even being able to have the same profession as I do. But you know, it’s also in, you know, in academia. So we are like ground zero in terms of higher ed. And this ruling doesn’t just affect students. I think there’s so much conversation about students, but it really affects the whole of higher education, which includes faculty. So one of the things we do as faculty, we’re really aggressive about creating lines, lines meaning creating new appointments for faculty hires. And we already are extremely limited in being able to acknowledge race for creating lines. So, for example, I can’t say, hey, I want a line for just, you know, a Black queer gender nonconforming person, right? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Saida Grundy: I can’t legally do that. I can say I’d like a line for someone who studies Black gender nonconforming queer people, but that, as we know in academia, doesn’t necessarily equate to people who have that identity who work. So, for example, my favorite scene in the whole series of Veep, which beat, was comedy gold is when. So Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes some racial faux pas and she has to correct it. And she says, you know, go get me, you know, African-American studies professors. And so there’s a scene—


Damon Young: I remember this scene. [laughs] 


Saida Grundy: So there’s this scene where she’s supposed to have this photo op with all these African-American studies professors and they’re all white. [laughter] And she’s like what the hell’s going on? [laughter] And I thought that was the most beautiful description of academia to ever be televised. She’s like, so there’s this white woman’s who’s like, I’m the chair at Howard. [laughter] And she’s like, she’s like, what? So, yes, so there’s been a whole lot of affirmative action in terms of, you know, a whole lot of as people have heard many times this week, the greatest beneficiary of affirmative action on the hiring end has been white women and on the admissions in has been white men. So I will you know, in terms of academia, we’ve always seen this. We’ve always seen how people we have a, you know, lip service somewhat, but, you know, low sort of efforts to do diversity and inclusion. But what white people are counting is diversity. I think this was actually telling how this came out of the private sector. So, you know, some decades back or it’s been decades and they’re running Silicon Valley in terms of how they counted diversity. They were so oh, they were saying, oh, it’s diversity of thought. So if you were a white man from rural America and if you were a white man who was a vegan, and if you’re a white man who was, you know, politically, you know, right of center, that was all considered diversity of thought. But Academia’s actually done that to a great extent. And I have been in this, you know, field long enough. I. I remember when the affirmative action rulings came down at the University of Michigan when I was there and how it overnight changed the enrollment of University of Michigan. I mean, the fellowship I was on was expressly for underrepresented minority students. And the next year, white kids were getting that fellowship if they just said they were going to study something diverse or if they were from the upper peninsula of Michigan, that counted as diversity. 


Damon Young: Well, I’m glad you brought up that last point, because that’s, I think, a question that a lot of people, myself included, have had about all of this, about the Supreme Court decisions, like how quickly is this going to be implemented. Like, for instance, when we talk about climate change there’s still I mean, obviously we’re feeling the effects of it now. We just had the hottest day in 125,000 years last week. But still, the changes are at least in and in a lot of places are minimal enough, right. Where you could say, okay, we’re not going to see like a real actual like change of life, sort of change for decades. But the affirmative action decision, I guess, doesn’t necessarily follow that trend where it’s something that we’re going to see the effects of that in August. 


Saida Grundy: Yes, you are. And what’s interesting is a lot of the attention and the face of affirmative action decisions is put on Ivy League and elite schools. So there are eight Ivy League schools. 


Damon Young: Mm. 


Saida Grundy: And then there are the elites. Right? The Stanford’s, you know, the MITs, the you know, the Caltech, etc.. But we’re talking about probably 1% of college students are enrolled at those schools. Right. And those schools will find a way. They have, you know, the legal, you know, in-house legal counsel powerhouse. They will find a way to—


Damon Young: To do what they want to do. 


Saida Grundy: Right. To accomplish what they want. And they always you know, the reason that we have the original quota system in terms of the original affirmative action that these Ivy League schools really invented, it was an anti-Semitic affirmative action so that you know how when you apply for elite schools, many times you get sort of points for being from the interior of America, meaning not the coasts? The reason for that is that they thought they were getting too many Jewish applicants. And so it’s like, you know, we’ll be known as a Jew school. So they were trying to dilute their Jewish population by taking white mids from the middle of the country. So that’s the original sort of, you know, affirmative action is that white kids were getting points for just not being Jewish. So all that to say those schools are really not the ground zero of this. Right. Those are also private schools. They will find their way except for, you know, the Michigan’s of the world. But what’s really going to happen is you will see pretty swiftly, this is not my first rodeo with this. My father, who was also a career higher ed administrator, this happened in the University of Kentucky. So this is not just about admissions. It’s also about the programs that you’re allowed to have and to fund in terms of creating diversity or creating, you know, or at least addressing inequity within a population. So, yes, every time I have seen a back roll on policies that are about racial equity, the implementation was almost immediate overnight. So at the University of Michigan when I arrived at Michigan, Michigan in the nineties was famously like a like it was almost achieving population parity in terms of like 13% Black students. Right. And that actually this is important to understand. What we consider a school in terms of diversity only has to reflect the population. You don’t have to have 50% Black students. You only have to have 13%. Right. You don’t have to have, you know, 50% Latinx students. You only have to have 18%. That’s population parity. Michigan in the nineties and the tail end of that when I got there in about 2005, was famously like, oh, like this is like a very a space that you could buy a critical mass of Black people. That was because of policies in the seventies and eighties, very famously with the law school ruling and also the response to that by the university, there was a old white dude named Duder, Duderstadt, president of the university. I wanna call him Dumbledore, but I am pretty sure that’s Harry Potter. 


Damon Young: I feel like you’re making that name up. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, it was definitely Professor Snape. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Saida Grundy: And [laughs] it was. And House Gryffindor had decided [laughs] that that. So the University of Michigan was again in the Supreme Court rulings about the Michigan Law School. So there’s this old white guy engineer who was president of the university at the time, and he says, look, like I’m an engineer. You got to explain things to me, like with, like data, right? He says, I don’t actually have an investment basically in like just, you know, diversity for diversity sake. Like, tell me this is beneficial for the university. So there was this longitudinal study done of Michigan law graduates by race law alumni. And what they found is, yes, Black students were getting into the law school with median lower LSAT scores. Right. So they were sort of coming in under the median white males LSAT scores. But it’s a longitudinal study. So it looks at them ten, 15 years out of law school. And what they found was the Black law students were cooking the white law students in terms of their accomplishments. And so Duderstadt was like, that’s all I needed to know. We have fellowships now for Black graduate students, and that’s what I came in on. I had a fellowship called the Rackham Merit Fellowship that was for Black Latinx and underrepresented people. So if you were even if you were Asian and you were like in the humanities, that was considered underrepresented and that funded me throughout all the graduate school, that that made sure I didn’t graduate with debt that made the difference in my life. 


Damon Young: You made a point earlier about how so much attention is paid to the Black students who are getting into schools, whose scores may be a point or two under what the medium scores or whatever, and not focusing as much on the other types of—


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: The other types of people who are able to get in the schools, we’re talking legacy. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: We’re talking, you know, the people who are rich. 


Saida Grundy: Athletes being the number one. Yeah. 


Damon Young: And I was going to bring that up because coming out of high school. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: I got recruited by some Ivy’s. Penn recruited me, I think Princeton for a little bit. Princeton was actually really good back then, and I had a great SAT score for a Black athlete, I’ll just put it that way. But my grades were shitty. My grades were not reflective of my test scores, so I had no business going to any of those schools. Right. But because I was an athlete, I checked that box. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: And, you know, they would have been willing to willing to make some exceptions. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: Right. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. In my in my, you know, decade plus of teaching, I will say that my observation of student aptitude, male athletes, I won’t throw women athletes in there, but male athletes usually have the [laughter] I would say my lowest performing students, I mean, some actually baffling. And I would say white male athletes are top of that list. But what we have here, of course, is, you know, this is what the Varsity Blues scandal was about, was that knowing that the lowest SATs and GPAs for elite schools are for their athletes and that athletes are overwhelmingly white, particularly when you’re talking about D1 schools because they have so many athletic offerings which that the definition of a D1 school. So even though the sort of racist history of athletes being oh athlete equals Black, no, that’s football, basketball and track and field Black people aren’t out here playing lacrosse. Last time I checked, there’s a few. You know, the hockey team at B.U. is probably all white. [laughs]


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Saida Grundy: You know, like a D1 school has probably, what, 30, 40 athletic teams?


Damon Young: Yeah. When people think about athletes, about college athletes are thinking about the athletes who generate revenue for the schools and—


Saida Grundy: Exactly. 


Damon Young: And those are those are the football players and the basketball players. 


Saida Grundy: Exactly. 


Damon Young: But a majority of college athletes are white. 


Saida Grundy: Overwhelmingly. 


Damon Young: Yeah, overwhelmingly. 


Saida Grundy: And you have to go to a school that offers those kinds of sports programs, which mean you’re going to a school that’s very well resourced. Right. You know, every semester, you know, I teach race and ethnicity here at B.U. and every semester I open with explaining to my students the myth of scientific racism, the myth that sort of there are genetic differences between the races, and that then we use those types of myths to explain all types of things, like the myth that Black people have some sort of athletic advantage, right? Which is also plays into affirmative action. The idea that Black people are getting into college because they have some unfair advantage. Right. But here’s the thing. I always use. You know, the example of rowing crew is my favorite fucking sport. Let me tell you why. 


Damon Young: Of, like, the six boujeeist things I’ve heard in the last year. [laughter] You said three of them. Like I let your intro go. I let your intro about being in the Berkshires. Berkshires. However you fucking pronounce that go, [laughter] about being like part of like some Du Bois legacy situation. 


Saida Grundy: Yes, yes. Yes. 


Damon Young: And now you’re talking about crew as your favorite sport. 


Saida Grundy: Because I live basically on the Charles River, which if you knew crew, if you had your country club boat shoes on now, you would know that the head of the Charles is one of the most important races in the world. So once a year in the fall, crew teams, both collegiate, club sports, any level of crew comes to compete on the Charles River. I watch this every year and you know why I watch it? Because no one has ever rode their way out of the South Side of Chicago. Crew is proof that talent is socially constructed because it’s not something you can have individual sort of talent in, right? You have to go to a high school that offers that program or go to a school. You have to have access to clean water so they can’t be environmental racism. You have to have access to the actual expense of the sport itself. You have to you know, where I live, there are boat houses lining the river. You have to live in a place that has those types of resources and be a person who has access to those resources. That’s why I love crew, because the idea of spotting someone’s individual crew talent like I just saw them, you know, Cabrini-Green projects and I knew he could row like that [laughter] that doesn’t happen. 


Damon Young: You know what I appreciate, I appreciate your rigorous deconstruction of the racial dynamics and crew as a way to justify your interest in it. Like I do appreciate. [laughter] You know what I mean? You trying to throw me off the boujee sense by like having some actual data, like, you know, this is proof. 


Damon Young: [laughs] Yes Yes. 


Saida Grundy: Environmental racism, they don’t have access to water, you know, I mean, if they could find these niggas anywhere—


Damon Young: Absolutely. 


Saida Grundy: —row crew. So again, I appreciate. 


Damon Young: Yes. 


Saida Grundy: All of the work that you did to try to throw people off your scent. 


Saida Grundy: It’s also fascinating because crew also there’s just like the golf caddy, you can be the least athletic person in the world. And I remember I was teaching at Michigan. There were these white boys in my class and they said, oh, yeah, we’re here on a caddie scholarship. They got four years free of college for being golf caddies, caddies. As in you pick the nine iron, all that to say, crew similarly, there is a position called the coxswain. Now I am a sixth grade boy, so I am giggling every time I say coxswain. But a coxswain is just a small person who can yell really well and you’re yelling on beat. So a coxswain keeps the tempo of the of the crew. They’re not doing any actual work. 


Damon Young: So the Larenz Tate could have been a coxswain. 


Saida Grundy: Yo had Larenz Tate not been from the South Side of Chicago. 


Damon Young: Okay. He could have been a coxswain. 


Saida Grundy: He would have been a coxswain. Right. Like half these rappers—


Damon Young: Sisqó, Sisqó could have been a coxswain. 


Saida Grundy: Happy little rappers. These little what what J. Cole say? You know, you see in the next two, six, four rappers [laughter] they could have been so really a coxswain is just the rare white person who has rhythm, who can sit on the you know what, not the bow of the boat what’s the opposite of the bow, who can actually sit there and keep rhythm for the team and speed you up. You’re like a human, you know the piano—


Damon Young: What? A conductor?


Saida Grundy: Yes, exactly. Yeah, but those people get four year rides. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Saida Grundy: They don’t have they don’t have to have an ounce of physical athletic ability. But these are the things it’s like. So when we talk about Black people, funny enough, the sports that we’re typically competing in are some of the most competitive in terms of the funnel it takes to get a D1 scholarship. But what Varsity Blues really found out is that, you know, if you’re doing water polo and you know, all the crew and all these other things and, you know, an archery and there’s not actually a huge sort of funnel system for those sport. So they were just, you know, they could make up that their kid, you know, played water polo. That was the point, you know. 


Damon Young: Well, I think, you know, the thing that that gets to the heart of this entire conversation is and I used to bring up Abigail Fisher as an example of this.


Saida Grundy: Oh love it. Yes.


Damon Young: Because I feel like she is like prime you know, a example of—


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: This anxiety that some white people have when they learn that they are in fact Wonder Bread, when they’ve been told their entire life that they are pancakes. 


Saida Grundy: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: And so it’s like, you know, I don’t want to be Wonder Bread. I don’t want to be mediocre. I don’t want to be average. You know, there must be something wrong with the system. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Not something wrong with me. If all these other people, you know, are getting opportunities. I’m a pancake. I’m delicious. I’m a pancake, you know what I mean? [laughter] I have stores, restaurants named after me. I’m motherfucking waffle. 


Saida Grundy: I might even be a funnel cake. 


Damon Young: I’m not Wonder Bread. [laughter] I’m not a slice of Wonder Bread. I’m a motherfucker. I am french toast. 


Saida Grundy: And I mean, like bodega Wonder Bread, like, got delivered like, two weeks ago. Yeah 


Damon Young: You’re. You’re the Wonder Bread that you know is in the deli and the cat has been sitting on it for the last two weeks. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: It is, it is a cat bed. It’s the bed for the bodega cat. Right. That’s the Wonder Bread that you are. And the thing is. There’s nothing wrong with being Wonder Bread. Right. 


Saida Grundy: Right. 


Damon Young: We use Wonder Bread for sandwiches. There’s nothing wrong with being mediocre. But what’s wrong is when you feel like—


Saida Grundy: The whole bodega must be wrong. Yeah. 


Damon Young: What’s wrong is when you think that your status is like this, God given. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know, sort of right. That you haven’t earned. 


Saida Grundy: I also like to remind people that higher ed, you know, it was never meant to be this equalizing type of institution, right? So, you know, in our lifetimes when we were born, there were Ivy Leagues there were still all male. Right. Columbia didn’t go coed until the early 1980s. We’re talking about a system that was literally designed to give particularly wealthy white men a system unto themselves, right? A system for dominating the world unto themselves. And it was never meant for anyone else. Right. So they literally, you know, and I’m not just talking about elite schools. It’s funny, even occasionally some very successful white guy entrepreneur will admit sort of how he was a beneficial of white guy affirmative action. Right. There’s a great book by Ira Katznelson called When Affirmative Action Was White, talks about federal redlining. He talked about the GI Bill. There are schools, though, UCLA, which we think of as being this elite school now, probably has, what, a 8, 9 percent acceptance rate, probably even lower than that. We think of these as being like gold star schools now. But if you went to UCLA in the seventies and eighties, they had a 70% admissions rate, mostly because it was just for white kids. Right. It was they had small numbers of students of color. But overwhelmingly, we’re talking about those who benefited from GI Bill, these public institutions. They expanded higher ed to make sure that white guys, particularly white men with GI bills, had places to be educated. Right. So it is funny how even these stories of meritocracy that white men tell themselves, when you really look at it, it’s like, is it really meritocracy? If you only had to compete against George W. Bush to get into Yale? Is that actual meritocracy?


Damon Young: Meritocracy is one of those made up terms like—


Saida Grundy: It really is. 


Damon Young: Even like being apolitical. Like, I was teaching a workshop a couple weeks ago, and I think that was one of the questions, or maybe that was one of the topics. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: And, you know, just brought up the fact that being apolitical is a fallacy, particularly a person of color, a Black person being apolitical, because your very existence. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. Is a political act. Absolutely. 


Damon Young: And also being apolitical is an aspiration. Thinking that as like an editor’s aspiration is also fucked up because what it is is actually a white male. 


Saida Grundy: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: When we think of an apolitical perspective, it is a white male perspective. So it’s not even apolitical. So so that the term itself is a fake term. 


Saida Grundy: It very much is claiming you’re colorblind, right? 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Saida Grundy: Julian Bond told us, you know, you can’t be blind to color because that would be being blind to the consequences of color. Right. You know, but meritocracy as a term was invented by Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who writes democracy in America. So Alexis de Tocqueville comes to the states after the Revolutionary War. Historians don’t clobber me. I believe it’s like early 19th century. 


Damon Young: Our 2 to 6 historians that are listening. 


Saida Grundy: [laughs] Right. Right. Please do not email me. Exactly. 


Damon Young: Please don’t do that. She just got tenure. She just got tenure. 


Saida Grundy: Right. You know, historians be gang gang, like, I don’t want to get jumped by historians. It happens to me a lot. So all that to say. Alexis de Tocqueville writes this classic canonized text called Democracy in America, in which he is studying this new you know, America is the oldest democracy in the world. The United States is I don’t want the South Americans to also jump me like we’re America too, the United States is the oldest democracy in the world, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best. And so Alexis de Tocqueville is going across this country. What is, you know, not yet all the contiguous 50 states. And he says, oh, he actually uses it. He invents the term meritocracy because he’s trolling the United States. He says instead of an aristocracy, these people have convinced themselves they have a meritocracy. It was meant to be a pejorative term. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Saida Grundy: But Americans were like, yeah, that’s what we got, a meritocracy. [laughter] He always meant it as an indictment of the U.S. is culture that they believe that instead of, you know, aristocracy is very transparent. You know, God told me that I have divine blood and therefore I can, you know, beat. You over with the hammer and sentence you to death to preserve that right. Aristocracy is maintained by violence and ideology about divinity. Meritocracy is also maintained by violence. But it’s a it’s an ideology about worth. 


Damon Young: Saida Grundy. Thank you for joining us today. And again, you know, I know that with all the changes with affirmative action, you’re going to be out on the street. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: So if you need a place to crash. 


Saida Grundy: Yes, I have an OnlyFans. [laughter]


Damon Young: I’m not saying you can come here. I’m not saying you can come here, but I know people there are Airbnbs in our neighborhood. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: That you you can stay out if you if if you need some help. 


Saida Grundy: We need, like, hostels for, like, Black faculty now. Like, not youth hostels, like faculty hostels. 


Damon Young: All right. 


Saida Grundy: Thank you. 


Damon Young: Thank you. Up next, Saida’s coming back. She’s joining us. She’s still here for Dear Damon. But first, Damon hates. [music plays] So this Damon hates is my fault, I’ll admit that from the beginning. Okay, no one else takes the blame here but me for not paying closer attention. So anyway, 4th of July, I did not celebrate, but I did decide to grill because it was warm outside, which was not celebration. It was just really just warm outside. All right. So I grilled some meat burgers, hot dogs, whatever. And after spending all that time on the grill, you know, my whole body just smelt like smoke. And so when I took a shower that night, I shampooed because my hair smelt like smoke, too. Now I just got my hair done, I guess maybe like five or six days before that, my hair was still looking kind of like the way it was when it was done, it was looking you know, the way I wanted it to. But after I wash my hair, my hair completely changed composition where it didn’t look bad, but it didn’t look the way that I wanted it to look. And this is a thing that I feel like Black people, particularly Black women who have certain types of hair and have gotten their hair done, have been very mindful of and very cognizant of like, you know, if you get your hair wet, this might happen. So if you get your hair wet, you need to prepare for it, you need to do that. And I was unprepared. [laughs] Right? Completely unprepared. And so my hair ended up doing something that I didn’t want it to do. And now, again, I’ve been growing locks for I guess it’s been about six or seven months now. This particular look that I wanted to have, I did not have that look anymore. And so that weekend I ended up going to a birthday party in D.C. with my hair the way that it again, it doesn’t look bad, but it’s not the way that I wanted it to look. But because it didn’t look the way I wanted to look, I wore hat the entire time. And so I was the nigga in the indoor party with the hat on the entire time. And again, maybe that wouldn’t have happened if out of just been more cognizant, if I’d listened. If I paid more attention to all of the discourse about what happens to hair when you get it wet. But because my hair had always been short, I didn’t pay that close attention. So, again, this is my own fault. And so this Damon hates is directed at me hating myself for not listening. [music plays] We couldn’t get rid of Saida Grundy. [laughs] Right. She’s decided to stay with us for dear Damon. So Saida, what’s good? What’s going on? 


Saida Grundy: I am still yes. 


Damon Young: [laughs] Still here? 


Saida Grundy: Here. I am still here. 


Damon Young: So Sai, what boujeeness have you got yourself into since we last spoke? 


Saida Grundy: Well, there’s future boujeeness. So, yes, the Berkshires boujee has concluded. Oh, there’s also future [?]. I am going at the Usher this weekend. 


Damon Young: Okay. Okay. Well, speaking of Usher. Morgan the producer, what’s happening in the world this week that we need to answer questions about? [laughs]


Morgan Moody: Dear Damon. Men are getting dragged on the Internet this week. It’s nothing new, but everyone’s talking about Keke Palmer’s baby dad. I’m not a fool. I keep my opinions about my relationship off the Internet. So please don’t throw things at me. But what exactly is wrong with what man said? Please help me understand. I’m open to that. 


Saida Grundy: I love this question. 


Damon Young: Why do you love this question? Saida?


Saida Grundy: I love this question because, like, if you wanted to have like a feminist teach in, it would be for a question like this. 


Damon Young: Okay, expound. 


Saida Grundy: So let’s explain first to folks what is happening here. 


Damon Young: I’ll give a quick context, though. Keke Palmer was at a Usher show a couple of weeks ago and she has some cheekage. Not the full cheek out, but has some cheek showing. 


Saida Grundy: She had a dress that had an over layer of lace. Yes.


Damon Young: The cheeks weren’t present, but they weren’t implied. So it is that the space between present [laughs] and implied, right? She was just having a good time at the Usher’s show. 


Saida Grundy: Yes, she was having a great time. 


Damon Young: And so her baby daddy, who’s is crazy because like this nigga’s name has been in the news. I have not even bothered to remember it. 


Saida Grundy: A man has no name. No one knows his name. 


Damon Young: Like I know he’s related to the nigga from Insecure. I’ll even share. Full disclosure, even while I’m recording this right now, we pause for a second one of our producers, Ryan Wallerson,  mentioned his actual name. This guy’s name. I don’t give a fuck. Like, I forgot it already.  


Saida Grundy: I still don’t remember. Absolutely. 


Damon Young: He said this shit to me 30 seconds ago. I already have my mind made up not to say his name. And then I forgot it that quickly. 


Saida Grundy: He would be great in witness protection because no one will remember his name. 


Damon Young: So anyway, he’s at home and he tweets something about standards. And I’m a traditional man for not wanting my woman to be out there with her ass cheeks out. Now, I’m paraphrasing, but this was the gist of what he’s saying. And then it became like a thing on the Internet where, you know, some niggas you know, particularly Hotep niggas and hotel adjacent niggas took sides and were like, you know what well—


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Why can a man have a standard for his significant other? Why can’t a man say that he’s not comfortable with his woman dressing this way or acting this way around another man? Like, what’s wrong with that? 


Saida Grundy: Men who drive their girlfriends Nissan Altima with the delta tags on the on the license [laughs] who literally have never made more than their woman, got a lot to say. Those are always the men who double down on this. I’m a man shit. But what kicked this off was that because Keke is Black America’s little sister, and because she’s famous, there was footage of her from the concert because Usher was showing her particular love as he does. Usher often entertains women celebrities at his show because it’s Usher. He’s like, he’s our Teddy Pendergrass. When this was getting retweeted for some reason, man who has no name decided that he was going to put simply, you’re a mother, I’m sort of correcting her behavior. That, again, these are videos of her being, you know, swooning, being serenaded by Usher in her body, conforming dress with this lace overlay, but not like a really tacky dress, particularly by Vegas standards. It was pretty much a burqa. All right. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. [laughs]


Saida Grundy: And he just simply tweets—


Damon Young: Vegas burqa. 


Saida Grundy: [laughs] The Vegas burqa. He, because really it wasn’t like that revealing. He tweets you’re a mother as though he is correcting her visual display of fun, sexuality, etc.. And I think that is what pissed many people off across multiple layers. So one layer is, you know, there are some people who say, you know, maybe you do have a right to, you know, take issue with what your woman is wearing, but you do it in private. So some people are just upset by the public correcting of her, which I think is fair. And there are some people who are upset by the correcting of her at all. This idea that motherhood negates sexuality, which, again, classic feminist teaching moment. 


Damon Young: And then there’s the whole, like meta angle to where it’s like, yo, this nigga is talking about he is a traditional—


Saida Grundy: Yeah, he kept going.


Damon Young: Man, with traditional standards, but he’s a male concubine. Like, he is not like you can’t pick and choose like tradition. It’s not a buffet that you could just pick. Like, you know what I want, I don’t want the General Tso shrimp. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, right. 


Damon Young: So give me the broccoli. Give me the chow mein. Give me the rice. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: No, you got to take all of it. Like, if you want to be the traditional nigga, you got to take everything on a traditional nigga buffet plate. Right. 


Saida Grundy: And I would say 100% of men claiming that traditional alpha male shit do not meet any of the criteria of it. And as someone who has dated many a quote unquote “high value man” they do not talk like this about women, nor do they think like this about women. 


Damon Young: I think that is one of them situations where people don’t necessarily care as much about Keke or about the unnamed the nigga with no name. But it’s more about, you know, I think there is this this ongoing shift [laughter] zeitgeisty shift where more and more men are finding themselves in this position. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Right. Where they are not the breadwinners, they are not the star of their relationship. They are not the ones who are providing protection or providing. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. 


Damon Young: You know, or providing the things that, again, the quote unquote, “traditional male” you know, in a hetero relationship was expected to provide. And so if like so if I’m not doing any of these things. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: What am I doing? Who am I in this relationship? 


Saida Grundy: I think we have to remember that for so many men, the bar for their fathers and grandfathers was on the floor in terms of what garnered you a long term relationship. So literally just being a wage earner and I’m talking about, you know, making grocery bagging wages, that was enough. Literally adjusted for inflation, that was enough to warrant to like, oh, you know, you can have a long term marriage. You didn’t have to do co-parenting. You didn’t have to, you know, cook anything. You didn’t have to do any domestic labor. You don’t have to do any care labor. And so what I always say about, you know, this resentment that we see from young men is it’s growing, is not our imagination. There really is sort of this very Internety niche that is a backlash of men for whom I always say these are men who cannot update their iOS, that if women are providing for themselves financially, if women don’t have to get married, if women can marry other women, if women don’t need a man to have a child, because that’s far less destigmatized. And we also have, you know, technologies and availability. If marriage is shifting from an economic institution to a almost purely emotional contract, then these are men who emotionally can’t cut it and they are resentful against women. And if you are, you know, on the Internet, you’ve heard a really disparaging disdain for Black women. Basically, anything Black women do is wrong. If you’re a single mother, if you are a Black woman who has multiple degrees, it’s the worst thing in the world because, you know, you know, you’re masculine then. Basically you have men for whom their only sense of manhood is what they can actually negate and have disdain for and and femininity. Right. So their only sense of manhood is what they can actually make defective about women. 


Damon Young: Yeah. I mean, and that’s a good point. When this issue comes up, there’s always like the response is like, yo, there are women who are pick me’s. It’s like, why don’t the quote unquote, the niggas who think that they’re the traditional alpha, whatever, just find the women who are looking exactly for that. 


Saida Grundy: And they do. 


Damon Young: And the thing is well they do, but then there’s also that’s not what they want. They want to find someone to control and to basically break. 


Saida Grundy: And this is not about partner selection. This is about a larger sense of male dominance. You know, we see this across, you know, political data. We see this in a lot of interviews that, you know, that researchers like myself do of Black men. There is and this is not all Black men. It’s just alarming that there’s a growing it’s like it’s like MAGA is not all white people. It’s just alarming that it’s there, right? [laughs]


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Saida Grundy: There definitely is this cohort, particularly of young ish Black men. So we’re talking about Black men under 50 who have created basically a new misogynoir. Right. An idea that they have these sort of tropes of Black women that even things like we, you know, we were wondering why Trump doubled his numbers with Black men versus Romney. The reason for that was in part because they were growing group of Black men who felt that the Democratic Party paid too much attention to Black women, is that most not the most fucked shit that you ever heard in your life?


Damon Young: Now, there was a really long and in-depth article that came out about this topic, we’re recording this on a Wednesday. This article was published July 10th in The Washington Post. Christine Emba, and the piece is called, Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness. And it’s basically just a deconstruction of like, okay, so you have these young men who. Are rudderless, who are anchorless, who are on the Internet [laughter] and they are becoming isolated or becoming violent. Even more isolated. Even more violent. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And so how do you fix this? And the author, you know, made a good point, is that one of the reasons why so many of these men are gravitating and this is a race neutral thing, and one of the reasons why so many of these men are gravitating to the right. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Is that the people on the right are the only ones that are actually providing a blueprint. Now, it’s a fucked up blueprint, but they’re giving something. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. Uh huh.


Damon Young: Whereas more progressive spaces aren’t really. I don’t. I don’t know. Figure it out, you’re a man. 


Saida Grundy: I think this is where she oversold the right. I actually think that the right is just providing a return to segregation. White dominance, male dominated. Let’s not act like the right [?]—


Damon Young: And she makes that point in the piece. I’m not saying that she doesn’t say that the right is doing it right. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: What she’s saying is the right is is giving them something, even though that something is toxic and regressive, but they’re giving them something tangible. And again, it’s a really, really great article, I think. And it gets to the meat of this issue about, you know, yeah, in a perfect world, we want these men to be progressive. We want them to have empathy, we want them to be great citizens. We want them to to think of the greater good. Right. But if that’s not happening. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Right. If this disconnect exists and there are some very real reasons for that, you know, very real world, you know, loss of certain types of industries, women outpacing men and in everywhere. Right? 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. Yes, absolutely. Neoliberalism. Right.


Damon Young: And so how do we fix it? Because, again, this is just going to lead to more incels, more danger, more violence, more—


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Niggas acting out this way in. And it’s like, I don’t want this to continue. 


Saida Grundy: Yes. And for the record we are not saying that Keke Palmer’s nameless partner is an incel or is going to the next MAGA rally. But there is a continuum. 


Damon Young: Yeah. Some incel adjacency like. I mean, he has them in the language—


Saida Grundy: Oh so I’ve never really followed his feed. 


Damon Young: He, I mean, if you actually, you know, Twitter did it’s thing like after he decided he wanted to be main character, they went back and saw that he is a Trump supporter, that he’s—


Saida Grundy: Shut the hell up. 


Damon Young: —rape apologist like a lot of stuff. 


Saida Grundy: Shut the hell up. 


Damon Young: Yeah so all that stuff is out there. 


Saida Grundy: So you know this. Well, this is also interesting because, you know, I think that part of the way that I see the world and probably this is part of my sort of parents ideology, is that certain types of behaviors, expressions sort of come in the suites, right. So, for example, violence against women is a canary in a coal mine for feminist in terms of like violence against women is is I mean, you’re going to have other types of violence, right? We say the violence against women isn’t some sort of cute niche sort of domestic violence like a domesticated cat, that it is expression of violence. So remember the Pulse nightclub shooting. You have a young man who had beaten his partner many, many times. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Saida Grundy: The Boston Marathon. You have a young man who had all sorts of recorded incidents of violence against his wife. Right. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Saida Grundy: So when we hear expressions of ideologies that are particularly misogynistic, particularly anti feminist, perfectly expressed this sort of disdain for women, we always say that’s on a continuum of other types of resentments, others sort of a politics of resentment, right? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Saida Grundy: It’s a very easy canary in that coal mine for us to say, oh, there’s a sort of not necessarily a horseshoe politics, but they’re sort of a gateway drug of oh—


Damon Young: No one just stops at hating women. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think what’s particularly alarming, you know, as we’re discussing this cohort of young men and our interest, of course, is, you know, has always been in young Black men that they’re absolutely part of the draw to the right. I mean, as we discussed, is that the right is violent. The right is so, you know, you know, about controlling women and that Trump himself presents this like, you know, you ever hear those dudes who are like, you know, you can’t even say hi to a woman anymore. You can say hi. Just maybe don’t take your dick out. Right. [laughter] It’s like you have these men who feel that Trump is somehow a return to normalcy, right? When men could just be men, meaning not be held accountable for any behavior. 


Damon Young: And the thing with Trump, too, and this is something that I think we have to actually like, okay, I was doing a deep dive on like old Wu-Tang. You know, I created a playlist. 


Saida Grundy: Beautiful. 


Damon Young: This was about three weeks ago where I just put a whole bunch of Wu tracks on it’s like maybe 200 track deep because Wu was very prolific in their prime, and so I was listening to Method Man’s second album, T2 Judgment Day. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know, and there’s a whole another segment about how Meth ended up becoming the most famous person in the Wu when he had the worst solo albums. But that’s again, that’s another. 


Saida Grundy: But he’s the he has the male star power. Let’s keep it above. 


Damon Young: He has the most star power and charisma. Yeah, he does. Okay. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, he really does. 


Damon Young: And so that album is full of skits. 


Saida Grundy: As I remember. Uh huh/


Damon Young: As rap albums in like the late nineties, early aughts used to be one of those skits features Donald Trump. 


Saida Grundy: Actual Trump? 


Damon Young: And not like a recording of Donald Trump. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But Donald Trump actually calling in, asking Method Man when he’s going to release his album. Right?


Saida Grundy: Trump was down with Def Jam because he was down with Russell Simmons. 


Damon Young: And the thing is, is like even though Trump’s, you know, racism and misogyny were well-known. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Before he ran for office. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. Absolutely. 


Damon Young: He was popular among niggas, and this was before The Apprentice. So you can’t even blame The Apprentice for that popularity. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I would say coming out of the eighties, Trump is most popular amongst young men who want to be rich. That is like his base, right? Any douchey white dude from, you know, New Jersey or, you know, L.A., what have you. Trump was one of their heroes. In fact, there was this in the golden era of Tumblr. There used to be this Tumblr that was like, who said it like rapper or Republican? And it was like it also included like these like sort of very Trump because, I mean, look, you know, you’d be hard pressed to find wealthy rappers who didn’t have some sort of Trump line in their lyrics at some point. Right. Because he also was the icon of wealth coming out of the eighties, which is funny because that was like totally made up. Right? He’d had, you know, several bankruptcies. And I think that the reason that he was so popular among young Black men because he was so nigga rich, right. Like Trump is what niggas think rich men should be doing, which is being ostentatious, you know, gold plated, everything. Trump is like he is the ultimate nigga rich. 


Damon Young: I think that was racist. But you know, we’ll let it slide. [laughter] Let your racism slide. 


Saida Grundy: You know, one of my best insults is, you know, so-and-so is what a dumb person thinks a smart person is. Right. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Saida Grundy: Trump is what a poor person thinks a rich person is. 


Damon Young: And again, there’s this model of masculinity, like the hyper masculine, unapologetic, hyper virile has their way with women. No accountability? 


Saida Grundy: Yes. No accountability. Absolutely. 


Damon Young: That too many of us find attractive and the thing is. I’m not absolving myself. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: From this either, because there are not. And not necessarily with Trump. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But there are parts of light, this hyper masculinity or whatever that that are alluring, that are sexy, that are attractive. Right. And again, the question remains. It’s like again, what’s his name? The nigga who’s the baby daddy, who we refuse to name. He’s a red herring. But that sort of state of mind, it’s like and I guess this gets back to the question. It’s like, what do we do to kind of shift it or reverse it or subvert it? Because when you see so many young men being attracted to it. 


Saida Grundy: One of the other things that Keke Palmer’s nameless partner and Trump also have in common, Trump has expressed that he cannot be attracted to a woman once she’s had children, including his own spouses. This is what feminists have often called a virgin whore complex. We’ve used that terminology in our scholarship, in our writing for some decades. And what that means is that part of how misogyny operates is the compartmentalization of women. We call it virgin whore complex because it’s a reference to in literature and narratives and cultural imagery and religion. You have the virgin idea of a woman. So your mother is this sexless, you know, notion of woman. We take that virgin literally from the Virgin Mary, this woman who produces a child, this, you know, God child without ever having sex. Right. We never see Mary in any sort of idea of herself separate from this child. Her only existence is to care for this child. And then we have the whore complex, which also comes from biblical text, meaning that in the Bible, or at least in our interpretations of biblical text, because we take it out of the context, historically, we’re anachronistic. That’s what it is. All that to say. Often in our Western reading of the Bible, we punish women who are whores. So we punish women who express vanity. We punish women who control their own sexuality or their own bodies. Right. So Jezebel is punished, you know? You know, she even, you know, she’s torn apart my dogs. All that to say this idea, even though it comes from literature, is often really recognizable in how men think about women. Right. So, you know, you’ll get a dude who. But, you know, I can never disrespect a woman. I love my mother. You put your mother in a different category. Right. Oftentimes, men like white people have no problem seeing women in their families. Right. It’s like it’s like, you no, their idea of respect of women extends to like women who are their relatives, just like white people would be like, you know, I don’t have a problem with Black people. I got a Black friend. But their idea of women as a category is not really you know, they have a problem registering women who don’t say something about them in terms of their relation. So what we have here is a classic case of someone who says that a mother is a different category of woman and a mother as a category of woman no longer has herself a mother. Every decision she makes, every behavior, is an expression of caring for this child. 


Damon Young: Of motherhood yeah, it’s one of the things that even, you know, with having children and I’m considerably older now then when they first had me and I’m just thinking about how, like, as a kid. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: I didn’t necessarily think of my parents having, like, an interiority. I thought of them as being my parents. And, like, that was their focus. That was their goal. 


Saida Grundy: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: That was their purpose in life is to raise me and to be mom and dad. And so. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Again, I have kids now. And yes, I love my kids. And my kids are a huge part of my life, but they’re not the whole thing. They’re not they’re not my wife’s whole thing. 


Saida Grundy: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And so this idea, this Madonna whore complex thing, it’s just it’s a very, like, infantile way of trying to, I guess, flatten any sort of nuance, flatten any sort of personality, because you can’t expand past that five year old who thinks that mommy’s only purpose. 


Saida Grundy: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Is to make sure that you’re fed and safe and comfortable and that mommy doesn’t actually have goals and desires and dreams and a life of her own. 


Saida Grundy: And it says that a woman’s identity is made up of her relationship to something else, right? 


Damon Young: Her relationship to a male spouse, her relationship to children, that there is no sort of idea of a woman having her own identity, her own stakes, that your value in that woman is only as much as she serves your relationship. That’s what we mean by, you know by men like I was raised by single mom. You know, I can never disrespect women. No. You only see your mother as relationship to you. Right. She pours your cereal and makes your breakfast and apparently, you know, teaches you how to fold a flat sheet. Right. That she’s only in relationship to you do you value your mother? These men would be, you know, the same kind of men will be outraged if their mother had some life of their own. You know, they’d be like—


Damon Young: This nigga doing. 


Saida Grundy: Evil men who, you know, resent anyone, their mother dates. 


Damon Young: Oh what’s she doing listening to Usher?


Saida Grundy: Right. Going to see The Little Mermaid?


Damon Young: She needs to be listening to audiobooks about how to be a mom. What she doing listening to Confession, what she got to confess? Other than how much she loves me. 


Saida Grundy: But it is like a really it’s a keystone in the bigger house construction of misogyny. It’s a really fundamental keystone. And misogyny, as we discussed, is a great keystone in other types of political ideologies that are really harmful. 


Damon Young: Saida Grundy. Thank you for coming back. 


Saida Grundy: Thank you. 


Damon Young: To Stuck with Damon Young. It’s always a pleasure. 


Saida Grundy: Thank you. 


Damon Young: It’s not always a pleasure. Occasionally it’s a pleasure. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. 


Saida Grundy: It’s not always a pleasure. Yeah.


Damon Young: Other times I was like, this nigga’s here I guess, he’s just taking up space. 


Saida Grundy: It’s. Yeah, laborious. Absolutely.


Damon Young: So but this time it was in the vicinity of pleasure. [laughter] So I appreciate you at least making that effort. 


Saida Grundy: Of course. Glad to be back. 


Damon Young: [laughs] All right. 


Saida Grundy: All right dear. 


Damon Young: All right bye. [music plays] Again, I just want to thank the homie Saida Grundy for coming through both segments. She’s a trooper. She’s got stamina. Great conversations. Both sides. Both ends, great guests, great friend. And again, you can listen to Stuck with Damon Young at any platform anywhere that you can find podcasts, you can find us? But if you happen to be on Spotify and you happen to be on the Spotify app, please do the interactive questionnaires, questions and answers. It’s just a lot of fun in there. So go ahead and check that out on the app. And again, if you have any question whatsoever about anything under the sun, hit me up at All right y’all. See you next week. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Kendra James and Madeleine Haeringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. And from Spotify our executive producers are Lauren Silverman, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam and Krystal Hawes-Dressler. [music plays]