In This Episode
DeRay, Brittany, Sam and Clint discuss the history of the motto “In God We Trust,” low-wage health care jobs, a proposal to ban facial recognition in public housing, and ensuring that formerly incarcerated Floridians maintain the right to vote. David Treuer joins DeRay to talk about his book, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present.”
- The Appeal: MIAMI OFFICIALS: MOST PEOPLE WHO OWE FINES AND FEES CAN VOTE
- We Got The VOTE
- CNET: Facial recognition may be banned from public housing thanks to proposed law
- Vox: The future of work is the low-wage health care job
- Playboy: In Billy We Trust? How “America’s Pastor” Birthed Our New Theocratic Wave
- David Treuer
DeRay [00:00:00] Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save The People. In this episode we have the news as usual, Brittany, Clint and Sam and then we have David Treuer the author of The New York Times best-selling book The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee Native America: From 1890 to the Present.
David [00:00:19] You cannot understand what this country is, how it started, how it’s evolved and where it’s going unless you pay attention to American Indian history.
DeRay [00:00:27] And my advice is free comes from a conversation. I had with a friend he had went to a party recently and it was a party of someone he had just gotten to know. He goes to the party and there’s a guy at the door. So, he’s like hey, I’m here to see X and the guys like why are you here. [00:00:40] And he’s like, oh I ‘m here for the barbecue and the guys like are you sure there’s a barbecue. He’s like, yeah and he’s like, well you need to wait one minute and he’s like, well, I think I’m here for the barbecue it’s like a house and he’s like I told you you gotta wait, he was just really rude at the door and my friends like I’m gonna go home, I didn’t like wake up trying to fight somebody to go to [00:01:00] barbecue today. [00:01:00] So he proceeded to just like call a car and he’s like, I’m just gonna go home. Then later the person at the door is like don’t go did I do that and the persons whose party it is realizes that like something happened at the door and by then my friend is like in a Lyft gone, and there was one of those moments where the lesson was like be careful who you have answering the door on your behalf, you know, and I think sometimes we aren’t as mindful as we need to be about the people that we let speak for us the people that we let do things in our name but it reflects back on how people experience it. [00:01:34] That’s my word for this week is something that I’m carrying into the week is be mindful. You have answered or for you. Let’s go.
Brittany [00:01:45] Hey y’all. It’s the news. This is Brittany Packnett @mspackyetti on all social media
Sam [00:01:50]and this is Sam Sinyangwe @Samswey on Twitter.
Clint [00:01:52] And this is Clint Smith @ClintSmithIII
DeRay [00:01:53] Ay ay ay!
Brittany [00:01:55] I don’t know why I still get surprised when [00:02:00] when you’re like ay ay ay. I’m like, oh god. Oh, wait, what’s happening?
DeRay [00:02:04] And this is DeRay @deray on twitter.
Brittany [00:02:07] what I was not surprised by unfortunately, was that y’all’s President Donald Trump decided to come for Baltimore? He might be surprised at just how much that was a bad idea, but we see him continuously use the word infestation in the phrase crime investigation specifically to describe black and brown neighborhoods. And he wants to come for Elijah Cummings and his beloved Baltimore, DeRay your beloved Baltimore and this might have been the worst decision because ain’t nobody coming for Baltimore.
Clint [00:02:49] It’s another example of the president being racist. It’s another example of him trying to create a caricature of black communities of attacking black people. [00:02:55] And the thing is that what happens when this sort of thing happens is that then a lot of people [00:03:00] will say, oh well like that was inappropriate for the president to say but Baltimore does have a lot of crime or like Baltimore does have a lot of poverty or Baltimore does and we’re not going to talk about the history of redlining that made Baltimore one of the most hyper segregated cities in the country [00:03:15] We’re not going to talk about the fact that the 1970s the U.S Commission of civil rights said that Baltimore had a white noose around the city that the segregation was so bad that real estate agents at one point Were actually instructed to inform the police chief if they sold a home in Baltimore County to blacks, right. [00:03:31] So like we’re not having that conversation and we should be because none of these communities end up looking the way they do if they had not experienced a history of plunder history of State sanctioned segregation history of people Stripping resources and social services from them that have made the landscape of inequality in these cities Look the way that it does
Sam [00:03:50] and it displayed the hypocrisy of this Administration and the hypocrisy of white supremacy where you have an [00:04:00] Administration that during the campaign many of the most senior campaign officials are now not only accused but many not have been convicted of crimes you have [00:04:11] Many cabinet members and appointees of the Trump Administration who have been charged with and convicted of crimes. You have a whole host of other folks who are suspected of crimes including the president, but apparently can’t be charged because of a Department of Justice memo that was written under the Nixon Administration that says the president can’t be indicted while in office [00:04:32] The crime rate in the White House is the highest in the entire country, but they don’t want to talk about that right? They don’t want to talk about that they want. Talk about you know, housing and poverty in a way that seeks to blame communities for forces that were the product of white supremacy as you describe Clint, but they don’t want to look at Jared Kushner who is directly involved in contributing to dilapidated housing in Baltimore. [00:04:57] If they want to talk about issues in Baltimore [00:05:00] than they better acknowledge their complicity in it and be held accountable for it. And so that’s what needs to happen
Brittany [00:05:07]and they better acknowledge the Kingpin Donald Trump. I see you Sam. That was a word
Clint [00:05:14] Sam has infested us with the truth. All right,
Brittany [00:05:22] I think this is also a reminder how so many people want us to Simply respect the Office of the President no matter who inhabits it [00:05:26] But if I’m supposed to respect the office, then the person in the office is supposed to respect me and despite all of the racism. He dealt with despite all of the challenges. He dealt with despite the GOP and the head of the GOP literally saying that he was going to make him a one-term. Despite how many people came for Obama Obama was still like I’m the president of the entire country and I’m not only going to care about the people who voted for me. [00:05:52] I’m not only going to care about the people who look like me. I’m not only going to care about the people who come from where I come from and that is [00:06:00] how the office is supposed to be respected. That is how the person in the office is supposed to respect the rest of.
DeRay [00:06:10] You know reminded that there’s no way to talk about the poverty the city of Baltimore without talking about the policies that allowed that poverty to flourish in the created the conditions for the poverty. 00:06:15] So what does it mean that the city of Baltimore is the birthplace of redlining? What does it mean that the police were just put on trial because they were planning guns and drugs on people? What does it mean the school system has been historically underfunded and to this day Governor Hogan will not adequately fund public education in Baltimore City? [00:06:33] There’s no way to talk about the crime in the city of Baltimore. Talking about the conditions in the city of Baltimore of poverty and addiction and the thing that really worries me as somebody who was born and raised in Baltimore somebody who lives in Baltimore is it, I saw people participate in the logic of racism when Trump said this well-meaning People to. People participate in a logic that said that poverty is a result of personal choices poverty is not the result of personal choices poverty is a result of people with [00:07:00] power choosing that some people deserve more than other people. [00:07:03] I saw people participate in the logic this is addiction is moral failure as. Addiction is a Public Health crisis, but I will say that in this moment. We should be defiant. We should be intense. We should be pushing back the numbers on our side. It is not a matter of do the good people exist on our side. [00:07:20] The question is can we organize them? And this should be a moment where we focus and buckle down because what Trump would want us to do, he would love for us to talk about the idea of racism and be stuck in me ideas. We have to talk about the practices that allow racist actions to happen like racism is a function of the practice. [00:07:37] Trump wants to create the idea space. So, the practice is flourish. We need to fight on both planes. Let’s do it.
Sam [00:07:45] So from the crime in the White House to another crime going on right now in Florida, which is subject to –
DeRay [00:07:52] y’all Sam’s out here preaching today.
Brittany [00:07:54] Pass the offering plate.
[00:08:00] And this is particularly a crime against civil rights and voting rights because in Florida as many of you who listen to the pod may know Florida recently passed Amendment Four this past election expanding voting rights to folks with past felony convictions, 1.4 million folks whose voting rights were projected to be restored and then Republicans in Florida decided to pass a law that is essentially a poll tax [00:08:24] That was intended to impose a requirement that people have to pay off all their fines and fees and restitution and court costs before they’re able to actually register and vote if they have a felony conviction and in a state like Florida that can mean a whole lot of money, but the good news is [00:08:46] That apparently when they were writing the law they perhaps unintentionally included a loophole that may be really critical to actually being able to restore voting rights in the state specifically within the law that they [00:09:00] passed implementing Amendment Four Republicans included language that referred specifically to fines and fees within quote the four corners of the sentencing document [00:09:12] Now the reason that that’s important is because the sentencing document is not the only document that may include fines and fees and according to officials in Miami-Dade County who have come together to propose a way forward in terms of restoring folks voting. In this includes the chief judge the prosecutor’s office and other officials in the county [00:09:34] What they are saying is that in fact, they are going to define the amount of fines and fees that people have to pay very narrowly to only include what the law says, which is what’s in the sentencing. So that does not include fines and fees that are listed in separate judgments and court orders. It only includes what’s in the sentencing document and they project that financial obligations are not listed on the sentencing documents for 90% of people [00:10:00] with outstanding fines and fees in the [00:10:02] So what this is turning out to be if this plan is implemented and it looks like not only in Miami-Dade County are they considering this but also in a number of more Progressive counties in the state is it looks like folks are going to have an easier time registering and voting in more Progressive counties in Florida in counties that have larger populations of black and brown people and while Republicans in the rest of the state have tended to signal that they are going to [00:10:32] Follow a sort of broader interpretation of the law, which is not a surprise that seeks to disenfranchise more and more people with this potential poll tax. So that’s what’s going on in Florida right now. It’s rapidly evolving and moving as officials sort of come together to decide how they’re implementing this law in each [00:10:49] But this is optimistic and good news for restoring voting rights in the state in what otherwise was projected to be a real problem in a huge poll tax original estimates show [00:11:00] that this could affect as many as half or even more of the 1.4 million folks whose voting rights are restored and it’s looking like that may not actually be the case in the end.
Brittany [00:11:08] And now the work comes to folks actually getting the word out right about this there can be so much misinformation out there and just plain old confusing information some information that is intended to be misleading in order to keep people disenfranchised and some information that is just straight-up confusing especially if you are [00:11:29] The person who is experiencing the disenfranchisement and is trying to figure out if you can now access your right and I have full faith in Desmond Meade and the Florida Rights Restoration coalition to get the word out because they were the ones putting foot to ground and Pen to paper to get Amendment Four passed in the first [00:11:47] But it’s just a reminder that even when we win the big victories, there are so many little things that have to go right in order for people to feel the difference in their lives. And there are lots of people and [00:12:00] systems that will take advantage of all of those little things needing to go right of all of those small conditions needs to be present and now getting this news out about the fact that you can actually vote even if you do know fines and fees is the next step
Clint [00:12:14] So if you’re sitting there and you’re like this sounds terrible, how can I be helpful? How can I help get the word out? I don’t live in Florida. What you can do is you can go to wegotthevote.org, that’s Wegotthevote.org and you can donate to support the work that the Florida rights and restoration Coalition and their partners are doing in order to help get the word out to make sure that the millions of people who have the right to vote are in a position to do so
Brittany [00:12:38] And if you don’t have money to donate, we fully understand you can also make phone calls and send texts at the same site. So, there’s lots of ways to help.
DeRay [00:12:50] You know what I’m struck by with this was how it took a set of people with structural power to be creative about how they understood the law to be written and how they were going to act on how it’s written and you know, the [00:13:00] people that we fight against are really creative how they screw people over they are finding these loopholes are like pushing the outer limits of what the law can do they are doing
[00:13:08] Is administratively at a pace that people said the government could not work in this is a really cool example of the good people saying okay you pass along here’s how we think the law is interpreted and here’s what we’re going to do and they do it in a way that benefits the lives of the most marginalized people in like I read this nose like yes, so Sam, thanks for shouting this out [00:13:29] You know, we’re part of the Coalition we’ve helped them since the beginning. I’m excited to see like what people continue to do in the Coalition of Florida there are a million ways to help out that like Clint talked about. But it is a reminder that we need to be pressing the people who have structural political roles [00:13:42] Even when they are your friends. They are there to do a job. Our job as Citizens is not to be so in love with the person that we lose sight of the job that they are there to do and part of it is holding people accountable. What you talked about a lot another part is pushing people to be creative [00:14:00] about using the power they have to do good and in Florida and Miami, we see people being creative about using the power they have to
DeRay [00:14:08] Hey, you’re listening to party of the people don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come.
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Brittany [00:15:31] So facial recognition, obviously a lot of us use it on our phones not all of us but a lot of us use it on our phones, but there’s of course a difference between opting in yourself and choosing to leverage facial recognition software and having the choice made for you. So, there is a bill that is expected to be filed by three women of color in Congress representative Yvette Clarke from New York [00:15:56] Iyanna Presley part of the squad from [00:16:00] Massachusetts and Rasheeda Talib from Michigan. They are expected to introduce the No Biometric barriers to Housing Act. This week facial recognition and housing sounds like two things that aren’t connected. But actually what we see is that all over the country landlords are deciding to make their buildings their apartment homes their condos Smart Homes and what that often means is that facial recognition software is being leveraged [00:16:24] But of course this brings up clear privacy concerns again, if you are not opting in but someone is making the choice for you and if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that we know that technology especially facial recognition technology carries a lot of bias with it. There are sometimes races that are not even recognized by the technology or races that are recognized but people are associated with animals or people are confused with someone who’s committed a crime. [00:16:54] In April, for example tenants in New York actually sued for the right to physical keys because their landlord was [00:17:00] attempting to use Smart Lock technology. But of course they said what if you decide to change the locks on me and abuse your power or there was actually a tenant that didn’t have a smartphone in order to download the app in order to use the smart key [00:17:13] Do you have to have a smartphone to have a home now? There’s currently no federal laws that over see how technology is leveraged with tenants. And if this law is passed it would only apply to homes that are governed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but they’re hoping to set a model for other tenants and a model for other possible laws [00:17:35] I wanted to bring this up because it begs an essential question. What do we do when technology continues to change faster than policy? In so many ways we’re just not caught up to the many ways the people’s privacy can be violated to the many ways that people’s rights can be violated to the many ways that bias can enter people’s lives through technology doing the everyday things that they already do [00:17:59] So, like I said, I wanted [00:18:00] to bring this here because it’s a difficult question and we can talk about what happens with tenants. But really, it’s an issue. That’s far broader than that.
Sam [00:18:09] So, you know, we talked about redlining and the history of redlining in Baltimore. And now what we’re seeing is that sort of older form of redlining is still around still housing discrimination [00:18:18] But now we’re seeing as technology is advancing their sort of a newer form of redlining which is digital redlining which can be everything from platforms like Facebook and others that are targeting ads in particular ways that may exclude black people from having access to ads that are about home ownership that are opportunities and offer us to own a home in particular areas because companies don’t want to serve Those ads to black people but it can also involve some of the Technologies which are everything from you not having access to housing because you don’t have a phone and you need a phone to open the lock on your door to facial recognition [00:19:00] preventing folks from being able to enter the housing unit [00:19:03] Preventing folks will be able to invite other people. So creating all of these additional barriers to entry just to be able to live and so you know as technology continues to advance this will continue to be a bigger and bigger issue and I think we’ve seen some places try to step up, you know, Facebook recently implemented some [00:19:23] Controls on who you can Target ads to and how you can Target those by race if they involve employment opportunities and housing offers for example, as a way of approaching the issue of digital redlining but you know on facial recognition, we’ve seen some emerging progress, like for example, San Francisco recently banned the use of facial recognition technology by all government agencies, Oakland recently followed suit, so it’s good to see that there is some movement to begin to Grapple with how these Technologies are being implemented [00:19:52] particularly for folks who are economically vulnerable economically marginalized and are often at the mercy of [00:20:00] landlords slumlords. And in many cases the Housing and Urban Development Administration under Ben Carson, which seems intent on preventing them from being able to live with dignity and in a way that is Affordable and sustainable
Clint [00:20:13] As Someone with Dad brain. I forget my phone all over the place all the time. I don’t know where my phone is right now. So, the idea that I would need that to get into my house. It’s concerning and so, you know the facial recognition smart lock, smartphones the sort of entanglement of all of these things in terms of how you enter your home [00:20:33] It’s still an emerging technology. So, this is something that we have to be careful about.
DeRay [00:20:40] Pew actually just put out a really cool fact sheet the Mobile Fact Sheet came out June 12 2019. You should go check it out and there’s a lot of interesting things about it. So one of the things that really stood out to me was that today it notes that roughly 1 in 5 Americans are smartphone Only Internet users, which means that they own a smartphone but don’t have traditional Wi-Fi Broadband at the house [00:20:59] What’s interesting about [00:21:00] it is that it makes me think about what happened to phones with cords even saying that I’m like I haven’t seen a phone with the cord in so long but how people have phones but don’t have house phones anymore. And when you drill down in that they call it smartphone dependent, but what’s interesting is that people with the lowest income in the least amount of Education are more likely to be a smartphone dependent which means that the only way they get on the internet is actually through their phone that their access to another form of getting on the Internet is limited [00:21:28] That’s just fascinating to me to think about what does it mean to live in a world where some people take the internet for granted as a thing that you have a computer. You have a laptop a desktop. You have a tablet and one phone and a watch they all connect to the internet. But you think about all of the people for whom the phone the one phone is the only way they can get on the internet [00:21:49] This made me think too about what does it mean that we might be creating a world that becomes so technology dependent knowing that technology and access to technology is often a function of other forms of [00:22:00] privilege or access in one of the things that Pew highlights is that people who make less than $30,000 [00:22:07] are more likely to have a cell phone but not a smartphone imagine needing a phone to get into your house or to do something else essential to your well-being and having a cellphone but not having a smartphone and what does it mean that almost 23 percent of people who make less than $30,000 that is true for them is that you might actually be boxed out of a set of opportunities not because you couldn’t access them otherwise, but because of something as simple as not owning a smartphone [00:22:35] and Back to the corporate news about banning facial recognition from public housing. It is never lost on me that the reason why people need public housing in the first place is that literally at the structural level the government both encouraged and allowed poverty to become so great that people literally were without homes and it was the most marginalized people the people whose labor had literally built the fabric of the country [00:23:00] who were more likely to be in housing projects [00:23:03] than anyone else you think about the utter disrespect and lack of care that even allows those conditions that happen like you put a ton of people in small spaces and the idea that you would enact facial recognition is a you surveilled them and police them to the 8th degree because you know how to manage their bodies better than they do like that is sort of the logic of laws like this. Ad part of what we have to do is not only push back on the details because we need to push back on the details, but we really have to also push back on the logic that allows these things to be proposed in the first time [00:23:39] Because if somebody said they were putting facial recognition on your front door because it would just make everybody safe and not like you choosing to have a ring doorbell that we already talked about is working with the police but like the government coming around being like, you know, what we just need a camera on your front porch [00:23:55] You would be like no I had the right to privacy and like why wouldn’t other people be [00:24:00] deserving of that to right. So, these are the things that came to mind when I thought about your news Britney. I’m happy you brought it.
Clint [00:24:07] For my news this week I was doing some research and sort of stumbled on some stats about the median pay for home health aides in nursing assistants and sort of personal home health assistance in ways that I think I’d heard and knew but I wasn’t fully cognizant of how little they were paid [00:24:22] So I kind of went in on a deep dive and was unsettled by a lot of things. I saw so many direct care workers home health aides like I said nursing assistants direct support professionals, they struggle to make ends meet despite the physical the social skills required direct care workers are some of the lowest paid workers in the country on par essentially with fast food workers making a median wage of less than $11 an hour and there are some who make as low as eight or nine dollars an hour [00:24:48] That means let’s say they make above the median let’s say to make $11 an hour if they work a full 40 Hour Week their annual salary will be twenty two thousand eight hundred eighty dollars and that’s before [00:25:00] taxes for people in this job a salary of $20,000 is typical and ninety percent of workers make under $30,000 the people who do these jobs struggle with backaches unstable schedules [00:25:11] They have to have second jobs and the salaries are low enough to qualify for Medicaid and that’s not to mention the sort of emotional burnout of a job in which you have to be physically emotionally and sort of psychologically on at all times because you are looking out for the well-being of some of our most vulnerable citizens
[00:25:28] So how did these jobs become so prevalent and they are increasingly prevalent and will continue to be as I’ll talk about over the next several years and decades. So, what happened is that we have an aging population of baby boomers and better treatments for chronic illnesses and disabilities. So there are more jobs being created for people to take care of these folks who in previous generations would have passed away[00:25:48] But now we have the care to keep them alive for longer the field of healthcare which now employs one and nine working Americans across the you know doctors to Medical secretaries is projected to add 2.3 million jobs. [00:26:00] Between 2014 and 2020 for the most jobs of any group of occupations in the country. Among estimates for the greatest number of new jobs Healthcare rolls, make up a third of the top 20 occupations and specifically with home health care workers there at least three point six million direct care workers in the United States not including an estimated 800,000 unreported work
[00:26:22] According to researchers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of more than a million new direct care workers personal care workers home health aides nursing assistants between 2014 and 2024. The vast majority, it’s important to note of home health care workers are women and their specifically black and brown women one in ten working black women are employed in Direct Care [00:26:43] More than a quarter of direct care workers are black women and contrasts while white women make up 35% of these jobs. Only 1 in 37 working white women is employed in Direct Care. Latina women as well as women from other immigrant backgrounds are also disproportionately represented. [00:27:00] Further an estimated forty six percent of home care workers depend on Medicaid for their health coverage because their pay is so low and ironically Medicaid is also the largest payer of home and nursing care services, which means as [00:27:14] This article and for Vox puts it the poor are essentially taking care of the poor experts are predicting a huge shortage of these workers in the coming decades and the number of working women. The traditional labor pool for direct care is not projected to keep up with how rapidly the American population is aging and how complex their health needs are and will continue to be [00:27:34] And lastly, you know when people can’t afford to pay for long-term services and supports for their parents and their spouses or their children who are living with disabilities family members again, most typically women are the ones to step in there the ones to give up their jobs their give up their careers give up their aspirations and depending on the state family members can sometimes get paid as aides themselves through Medicaid, but not necessarily at a rate to support themselves without a second [00:28:00] job [00:28:00] So oftentimes people are giving up jobs in which they would make far more money in order to care of their parents with their children or their spouse at a rate which makes it increasingly difficult to support themselves. In a more just Society, we’d be paying these folks far more than we do and we have a society that expects people in these positions to care for our most vulnerable but doesn’t pay them enough to not be vulnerable
Brittany [00:28:21] You know, my dad was in a wheelchair for the last years of his life and we had a home health nurse. She was lovely, but I’m just thinking about all of the way she was such a critical in central part of our life, you know, I was a child then and as an adult, right am imagining her enduring these societal Injustice has all while she’s taking care of one of the most important people in my life it is [00:28:45] Fundamentally, unjust in one of the quotes in the article really struck me a young man Miles Sterling Van Tam’s who supports people with developmental disabilities in their homes in New York City said we come in we’re basically [00:29:00] counselor we’re security guard where Chef were custodian were chaperone. Of course Miles is actually an outlier because he’s a man in this industry and couldn’t you’ve already walked us through just how dominated this field is by women [00:29:14] But that quote actually reminded me of a lot of the things I said as a teacher a lot of the things we said as teachers that we were never just a teacher that we were counselors that we were coaches that we were sometimes doctors or nurses ourselves that we are expecting some of the people who are paid the worst in society to carry out the most important jobs that care for the most important people and the parallel there is that we often see teaching in the same way that we see Health Care [00:29:43] Work and domestic work as women’s work. Therefore, we have Justified its devaluation in the world. But even in comparison to teaching we have to recognize that there are nuances and differences here. The vast majority of teachers in America are still white women [00:30:00] and we still Value white Woman’s Work above what we deem to be work for women of color [00:30:05] We continue to devalue women’s work and the work of women of color in particular ways. The last thing I will say a lot of people can’t even afford this level of care, which is why any presidential plans that only talk about Universal childcare and do not talk about Universal Family Care need to be re-examined
Sam [00:30:27] One of the things that was interesting reading this article that I didn’t know was the rate of injuries on the job for home health care workers in particular the statistics here show that there’s an average rate of a hundred and four injuries per 10,000 workers across all occupations in the United States, and these are injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work. But for nursing assistants, the rate is actually 349 per 10,000 workers, which is almost as high as [00:30:57] And Sheriff’s Patrol officers, which means [00:31:00] when they say policing is a dangerous job as a justification for pretty much everything from additional rights under police Bill of Rights laws to additional pay and all of the benefits that police officers enjoy. It’s important to remember that nursing assistants are encountering comparable levels of danger at work every day and are being woefully underpaid and ignored in the political conversation [00:31:24] And we need to change that. We need to make sure the folks are being paid for the incredibly important work that they do and especially important as the population as a whole starts to age over the next several decades and become sort of an older population overall that’s more in need of these critical services that nursing assistants and other home health care workers provide
DeRay [00:31:44] One of the things that I was struck by is like, what does it mean that the people who literally keep you healthy who helped Build families that can help families to stain at every part of the spectrum. So, from birth to the end of life, what does it mean that they are paid So low? [00:32:00] I think about my grandmother [00:32:01] My grandmother was a live-in nurse for a set of very wealthy families in the city of Baltimore. And without her work, they would not have been able to maintain the life that they wanted to maintain like until they passed away. She wasn’t paid well. She didn’t have great health insurance, but she worked night and day she did it like without her people’s lives would’ve been really interrupted and she’s just one example of so many [00:32:25] And what I was struck by in the article is that the study is projecting a huge Cliff that is soon theres gonna be shortage. And I think that maybe that’ll be what forces people to really contend with like what does it mean that we pay the people who teach your kids how to read and write you don’t pay them a lot
[00:32:40] Like what does it mean that we pay direct care workers so little people who actually keep the economy functioning in any substantive way the people that seem to be the most economically disposable, so I’m always reminded that poverty is a political Choice. It’s not a personal choice right people don’t choose to be poor in this country people are poor as a result of the choices of [00:33:00] political leaders and the lack of political will and people in office
DeRay [00:33:04] Okay, so my name is ya’ll I learned something new every week and I try to bring things that are new to me. So, I went down this Rabbit Hole of the separation of church and state and I started to learn about in God We Trust and being printed. So the short version is that and God We Trust is printed on coins dating back to the 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1956 that Eisenhower signed a law that enshrined In God We Trust as the official motto of the United States and it was that bill that actually led to In God We Trust being printed on US currency started with the $1 [00:33:43] So that is one thing that I wanted to bring and what was really interesting about that to me is how so many things that we take is tradition are actually relatively new like that was my takeaway is that I just had never thought that like my grandparents were alive when In God We Trust got printed on money because it seems like that has just happened for [00:34:00] ten lifetimes and like that actually just isn’t true and like the push to myself was like we actually probably need to be even more critical and how we examine things that we consider to be ritual and tradition because [00:34:12] Some of this stuff is just knew, you know, like you think about how people talk about ICE has to exist. It’s like ICE didn’t exist before 2003. Right? So, like some of the things that we just understand to be a feature of the world are actually pretty new. The second is that I didn’t realize that the idea of the relationship between the church and state as being really close is actually continue to being legislated [00:34:35] So I didn’t know about a bill in Florida that passed HB839 that we require all Florida public schools to display in God We Trust which is also Florida state motto in a conspicuous space. I didn’t know that there are several states that have also mimicked In God We Trust as the motto so that they can force it to be displayed in public buildings and it was just like wow, like I feel like I spend so much of my [00:35:00] time focused on a set of issues the things like this [00:35:02] I didn’t even know it was happening. So, I wanted to bring this here because there’s a wake-up call to me to pay attention to some different things and a wake-up call about examining the things that we consider to be traditions.
Brittany [00:35:17] Yeah, I think I’ve talked before about the fact that it took Reggie my fiancé and I forever to find a church when we moved to DC and it was because we wanted to make sure that we found a church that actually matched our beliefs and I think for so long I had allowed myself to just put the money in the collection plate and try to turn off my ears when the conversation became sexist or homophobic or transphobic and [00:35:41] Fundamentally my faith is too important to me to be out of alignment with my values. It just wasn’t going to work and we found a church that brought all of the trappings that we wanted a great choir great preaching wonderful and loving and praying community. But that also matched our [00:36:00] social values and that is open to all of God’s people that doesn’t simply tolerate all of God’s people. It took us literally a year to find Mount Zion a Baptist Church where we go and I want to say shout out to Progressive People of Faith, but I also want to say that love and Justice shouldn’t be Progressive values [00:36:16] They should be everyone’s values. That said I find myself continuously frustrated with the movement of the Christian right that has done one of two things that has either handed us Trump and the beliefs that helped lead to Trump and Reagan and Bush and lots of other people lots of other policies at the local state and federal level through active participation in the political process [00:36:42] These are the same folks that lost the fight against School segregation and literally decided to take on abortion not as a moral issue, but as a political one, so there are folks in the Christian Community who actively participate. [00:37:00] In the political process in such a way that they damn other people to hell that they participate in the marginalization of people that are not like them and that they uphold white supremacy and then there are other folks who also belong to the Christian Community who have given us this current set of circumstances, not through their active participation but through their silence complicities one of those people is [00:37:26] The son of someone who was very active in this work Billy Graham, Franklin Graham. He has been overwhelmingly silent on the absolute vitriol that we have seen come from this white house, for example, and we continue to see that leaders in the white Evangelical Church like him are choosing the silent stance that they are choosing not to take any side even though that is literally not with the instruction manual command [00:37:54] So I get pretty incensed about all of the ways in which the [00:38:00] Christian faith in particular is being used opposite the way God intended to demonize people to damn people to marginalize people and to maintain a system of Supremacy that benefits certain people and not all of us.
Sam [00:38:19] When I hear things like this, this also reminds me of those Confederate statues and monuments that went up in the 1920s and not right after the Civil War and I’m just reminded it the political context in which so many of the things that we see today and in many cases with regard to the Confederate statues [00:38:37] We’re pushing to dismantle also with regard to ICE. Many of those things are relatively new and it just reminds me of how once things are created how difficult it often is to even push people to imagine a world without them. Even for some of the worst things, right? You look how difficult it’s been to take down those Confederate monuments at how many still remain across the country [00:38:57] You look at ICE growing even [00:39:00] larger now where it used to be about 30,000 immigrants that they held in detention on any given day and now it’s close to 50,000 and they want to detain 80,000 and so you just see these things and it’s really important to remember the historical context in which they were created and how recent they were because it pushes us to imagine a world that could be different and also imagine what we could create that could be sustainable into the future things that may represent the world that we want to see
Clint [00:39:27] yea and this thinking about a survey that was released think it was last year by the Public Religion Research Institute and what it found was that there’s been a lot of discourse around. Evangelicals and how evangelicals voter evangelicals hypocrisy in terms of supporting Trump and I think it’s similar to when people say like the working class or the rural voters are this and that and like we’re not being specific and we’re being imprecise in our descriptions of these groups of people because there are black people who live in rural areas their indigenous people live in rural areas [00:39:59] There are. [00:40:00] Latinx and black evangelicals there are certainly black and Latinx working-class folks and Asian American working-class folks. And so, you know, we use these sort of metonyms to try to say something without actually being precise about who we’re talking about and one of the things that this survey does it finds that there are a range of disparate sort of political dispositions [00:40:22] I’ll say that white evangelicals and. They’re black and brown counterparts hold and I’ll pull a few of these out specifically on issues of like race and immigration. So for example, the survey found that most white evangelicals don’t have positive views about America’s growing racial and ethnic diversity [00:40:38] The survey asked participants how they felt about the fact that the US Census projects that by 2045 black people and next folks Asians and mixed-race individuals will together compromise majority of the United. We can put a pin in that and talk about the way that whiteness moves in evolves and like I don’t actually believe that by 2045 [00:40:57] It’ll be a majority minority country as it’s often said but [00:41:00] that’s a side note again. So white evangelicals were the only major group who said they had negative feelings about this demographic change 54 percent of white Evangelical Protestants said that America becoming a majority non-white Nation will have a mostly negative effect on the country on the other hand 80% of black Protestants and 79% of Latinx [00:41:19] It’s thought that the country’s coming racial and ethnic realignment would be a positive thing. They also found that in the weeks before the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting researchers found that most black Protestants 75% and most land next Protestants 63 percent said that they believe that trumps decisions and behaviors had encouraged white supremacist [00:41:38] On the other hand white evangelicals were less likely to see a connection between Trump and white supremacist only 26 percent of white Evangelical said that trumps decisions and behaviors were encouraging white supremacist violence. And then in on the issue of immigration, unlike other demographics white evangelicals said the immigrants represented a threat to America’s customs and values 57% [00:42:00] said that immigrants threatened American society and only 43% said immigrant strengthen American [00:42:05] Protestants of color as the trend continues tended to have much greater support for immigrants about 63% of Latinx and 67 percent of black protestants and said the Immigrant strengthen society. And so, you know, I think that what this does is it illuminates the sort of Divergence has that exist between different groups of Evangelical Protestants, and it’s a reminder that the entanglement of race and religion and identity is real and shaping [00:42:31] Political dispositions and ideologies and that black and brown folks is this survey illuminates and I think as a range of other data has also supported have a very different Idea of the role that God plays in their political lives and what that says about the sort of world and society that they want to live in and unfortunately the majority of white evangelicals at this point in our history are envisioning a world that is tied to Nostalgia and that Nostalgia is tied to [00:43:00] exclusivity and whiteness and the oppression of people who don’t look like them
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DeRay [00:44:17] go to Grove.cO/people to get this exclusive offer Grove dot c– o– / people. And now my conversation with David Treuer author of The New York Times best-selling book The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee Native American: From 1890 to the Present
DeRay [00:44:37] David thanks so much for joining us today on pod save the people.
David [00:44:39] Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
DeRay [00:44:41] Now you are the author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee Native America from 1890 to the Present, which is New York Times bestseller. There are so many things that I don’t know. So I’m excited to learn from you today and honored that you’d be here [00:44:55] Can we just start with what made you get into wanting to write the book like why a book you [00:45:00] could have done a lot of things with all the things, you know, but why book?
David [00:45:01] I think it’s the product of a lifetime of experience and maybe a lifetime of frustration.
DeRay [00:45:03] Frustration with what?
David [00:45:05] Well, you know being native out and about in America [00:45:13] I mean over and over again. I had the same conversation with people my entire life and the conversation went something like your native. Yes. I am but you don’t look native. I know that’s true. You guys still exist? Yes, we do. And it’s so awful what you’ve been through and I said well, yes, of course, but there’s more than that [00:45:35] And I always wanted to be able to reach for a book to say you know, what you got questions. You want to know what we’re up to you want to know what our lives are like read this read this book, but I was never able to reach for it because that book didn’t exist. There really is no single volume that tackles what we’ve been up to other than suffering for the past hundred twenty-eight years [00:45:56] And so as Toni Morrison says if there’s a book that you want to read that doesn’t [00:46:00] exist, then you have to write.
DeRay [00:46:01] Now the title is a reference not only to the 1890 Massacre of the Lakota in South Dakota. But also, the best seller Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Why was that important to you to reference both of those?
David [00:46:13] Well both the massacre that occurred in 1890 and the book have in their own ways but together come to be the story of the American Indian that most people think they know and just to tackle the book for a moment Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was published in 1970 and it purported to be an American Indian history of the West and Dee Brown says in the very beginning of that book on the very first page something to the effect of you know, this book takes place between 1850 and 1890 and it focuses on the plains Wars and it focuses on the west and I end at the massacre at Wounded Knee where quote the culture and civilization of the American Indian was finally destroyed and quote and further on in that [00:47:00] prologue [00:47:00] He says so if. Happen to travel to a Contemporary Indian reservation and see the poverty in the hopelessness and the squalor perhaps by reading this book you will understand why and that book published in 1970. It has gone on to be the single bestselling book of American Indian history ever published [00:47:17] There are millions of copies in print it’s been published in 17 languages. It’s never gone out of print. And that Narrative of diminishment and destruction is the narrative by which Native Americans are understood. And so, if I want to change the status quo if I wanted to accomplish anything, I couldn’t just write a counter history [00:47:39] I couldn’t just provide different names and different dates and different facts. I had to come up with a counter narrative an entirely different shape to the story an entirely different way of telling our stories.
DeRay [00:47:51] For people that don’t know the 1890 Massacre. Can you give like a brief understanding of what happened in 1890?
David [00:47:58] Right so 1890 was [00:48:00] a really tough year for native people across the country, but especially the Lakota at Pine Ridge agency the great Sioux reservation have been broken up into smaller reservations or agencies and the Ghost Dance this kind of born-again native religion had been sweeping the planes and it came to the Lakota and they were into it and this put the government on edge [00:48:22] And they thought that it was going to be a movement that would cause Lakota to want to overthrow the government at least in that area. And so they kept sending more and more troops to Pine Ridge agency and more and more guns and around this time Sitting Bull was murdered which made people really really scared out there native [00:48:42] And there was an Indian agent he was the former agent for Pine Ridge a guy by the name of McGillicuddy who kept writing back to the government in two people in government service saying don’t send troops don’t send guns if the Jehovah’s Witness decided to have a big dance, you wouldn’t worry about it so much don’t send guns here [00:49:00] don’t send troops here because all it’ll do is it’ll create an atmosphere where violence will happen [00:49:06] Don’t do it. And of course, they didn’t listen and they sent guns. They sent troops. They sent more and more people and then there were different bands of Indians moving around trying to find Refuge after Sitting Bull’s murder and one band was on its way to Red Cloud agency to hang out with Red Cloud who invited them in they were apprehended by the reconstituted 7th [00:49:25] Cavalry, Custer’s old command and they were being disarmed a gun went off and the troops open fire and over. Between 150 and 300 native men women and children mostly women and children were gunned down in a horrific bloodbath
DeRay [00:49:42] you choose to use the word Indian and why is that?
David [00:49:44] Well, I should say that the question of how to refer to us is of incredible importance to most [00:49:55] I should also say there’s not really any consensus Some people prefer Native Americans Some [00:50:00] people prefer American Indian some like indigenous some like First Nations some insist we should only be referred to in our tribal languages by the names that we give ourselves and for me as a writer I just use them all just for variety [00:50:13] So I use them all interchangeably First Nations indigenous Aboriginal Native American American Indian and Indian. That’s just me. I don’t speak for anyone to represent anyone on that score.
DeRay [00:50:22] And how does the government currently defined like what it means to be Native American or Indian?
David [00:50:26This is something people don’t understand that who gets to be officially native is not just a matter of identity politics and it’s not just a matter of culture [00:50:40] That it’s an official legal designation from which depend all sorts of rights, which aren’t special rights their treaty rights.
DeRya [00:50:50] What does that mean?
David [00:50:51] If you’re officially the member of a tribe then you have retained rights in your negotiations with the government through treaties, you know stretching back [00:50:59] To [00:51:00] hunt to fish to vote in elections to run for office to receive treaty annuities. So when treaties were signed back in the day, some of the provisions were rights, you reserved rights, you’ve always had but then also things that the government gave tribes in exchange for the right to settle areas [00:51:18] So often times it was cash or it was money for education or Healthcare. And so starting in nineteen thirty four tribes in the government reached uneasy agreements about how to determine who is officially legally native and mostly that has to do with blood Quantum and descent you have to be a certain percentage of Indian blood to be an enrolled member of a tribe or your name has to appear on a treaty roll [00:51:48] That was signed by tribal members at a certain point in time, but these designations matter quite a bit. You can’t run for tribal office. If you’re not an enrolled member of the tribe [00:52:00] can’t receive federal housing assistance. You can’t receive tribal housing you can’t receive. Healthcare Indian Health Service, you many scholarships you’re not eligible for so none of these are special rights, which people who don’t like Indians like to think of these things as being but they’re treaty rights
DeRay [00:52:18] How did you process Elizabeth Warren given what you just did what it means to be of a lineage or being a treaty role. So, when she talked about being a Native American descent like. What do you make of that?
David [00:52:29] I should say up top? I don’t really care other people do other people care a great deal. I don’t. I think that Trump has successfully baited a hook [00:52:42] He stated identity politics hook and we’re all chomping at that bait because really what’s most interesting about her and what’s most threatening to the status quo are her economic policies. That’s what’s interesting about Warren that she’s from Oklahoma and she grew up hearing stories that she had American Indian [00:53:00] Heritage is not surprising [00:53:01] It’s not unique. It’s not rare to grow up in Oklahoma hearing those stories. She never claimed that she was culturally native. She never tried to get treaty rights official status as a native person. She never tried to become enrolled in a tribe. She doesn’t even claim a particular tribe as far as I understand it [00:53:19] She just said she had the Heritage she took a DNA test proves that it’s true. Big deal, so yea I don’t care.
DeRay [00:53:23] What is happening now with American Indian in Native activism that we should be paying attention to that. We might not be I think about like as you know, how some of these stories don’t make the public conversation at very few things make the public conversation [00:53:36] Now that Trump takes up so much space but what are some things we should be thinking about or talking about that? We probably.
David [00:53:40] Well the protests at Standing Rock seems to be in everyone’s rearview mirror, but we’re not talking about are the ways in which that protest continues to be a success [00:53:52] Although they weren’t able to stop that pipeline from Crossing that land at that time the kinds of coalition’s [00:54:00] that were forged at Standing Rock remain strong and there are activists all over the country who are still working in the same vein really successfully and that’s something too. That’s really important [00:54:15] But there’s another kind of activism that kind of started in the 80s and the 90s which is an entirely different kind as my brother says he was a language activist. He’s dedicated his life to revitalizing the jib way at language our tribal language. He said, you know, the government spent hundreds of years trying to wipe us out and trying to destroy our culture trying to destroy our religions [00:54:37] Why would we look to them to restore any of? They’ve tried to destroy our health. Why would we look to them to save it? It’s up to us to do this and he reflects another sea change in Indian country where their ways in which a whole brand a whole species of activism instead of looking out and petitioning the government and trying to change society at large has been [00:55:00] looking in and has been trying to change and strengthen native communities by rebuilding languages culture [00:55:09] And religion and things like that. It’s really a powerful force in Indian Country cannot be underestimated but no is reporting on it except by way of facile stories of Hope like look at what these Indians are doing isn’t that positive? It’s much bigger than that. It’s much bigger than that.
DeRay [00:55:25] Your book is 1892 the present what part of the American history should we be teaching in school that we are
David [00:55:34] there’s a whole bunch of stuff We should be teaching kids that were not and the number one thing in my opinion. Is that you cannot understand what this country is how it started how it’s evolved and where it’s going unless you pay attention to American Indian history. We’re not just some side dish. We’re not just some exotic thing that’s off to the [00:56:00] side that is neat to pay attention to during American Indian history month or around Columbus Day or around Thanksgiving [00:56:07] Because let’s face it America’s first act as a country its first revolutionary Act was what to throw tea in Boston Harbor. They don’t just throw T in the harbor. They Dressed up as Mohawk Indians and then they threw tea in the harbor. Since the first day that America started trying to be America it has involved us in one way or another the very model for American government was in many ways drawn from [00:56:35] The Iroquois Confederacy in what’s now Upstate New York. So, our Democratic model has Indian Roots as well and ever since the Boston Tea Party ever since America started trying to puzzle out. What kind of government wanted to and We have been at the center of everything and we’ve been at the center of something even much more profound than those two moments perhaps which is that America has always been at war with [00:57:00] itself, and we feel it now [00:57:02] I think we all sense that there is a struggle going on right now in our electoral politics in America at large over what kind of country we want to be. Do we want to be a place in the words of Ronald Reagan where it’s possible for a person to become rich or do we want to be a place that lives up to its most democratic ideals? [00:57:23] Do we want to be a place that empowers people’s greed and covetousness where government just gets out of the way or do, we want to be a place where government is there to help and Serve the People collectively. That Civil War has been raging since day one and more often than not that war has been fought using Indian lives [00:57:44] So I think you can’t understand this place unless you think about us.
DeRay [00:57:46] Can you feel any difference with Trump with regard to the way the Native American communities being treated or is he just not focusing on the Indian Community because he’s doing so much other stuff.
David [00:57:59] Definitely. [00:58:00] It’s awful.
DeRya [00:58:01] Like how so?
David [00:58:03] The government shutdown, Government shutdown was mostly understood is Beltway politics run amok that was hurting government wage earners, that’s true. And then maybe some stories about how it’s hurting public lands like national parks. That’s also true. But so much of tribal infrastructure social and material. Is federally funded that the government shutdown disproportionately affected native people [00:58:31] But this is the name of the game and this is what I tell people all the time. Like if you think that it doesn’t matter who’s in office, if you’re one of those people who thought. Oh, I don’t know. There’s not such a big difference between Hillary and Trump. It’s all the same old stupid political game [00:58:44] Then I invite you to visit an American Indian Community. I invite you to see that pointy end of policy. I invite you to see the ways in which shifts in policy in attitude in the federal government affect people who are historically underserved [00:59:00] who are historically impoverished. Changes in government affect Indians more than anybody else in this country
DeRay [00:59:08] If you had a magic wand and key set National policy, what would be like you’re one to three things that you do?
David [00:59:13] Well, that’s a big question. My father was a Jewish Holocaust Survivor and a socialist and you know, his blood flows through my veins and I think socialism is not not a bad way to go. I think our government should be in the business of helping people [00:59:31] I think that we should all have access to education to health care. I think we should all address climate change which is a huge threat in immediate threat not a future one. And I think all those things are incredibly important and business as usual is not going to solve any of the problems which are affecting us today [00:59:52] Let’s face it Middle America your average American and what most people think of as flyover states increasingly their subject [01:00:00] position mirrors the position that Indians have been in for centuries increasingly Americans generally are poorer have a tougher time paying for education have difficulty paying for medical care [01:00:13] Have difficulty gaining access to Capital and to credit basically if Americans want to know where they’re headed another reason, they should look at our history because they’re winding up exactly where we’ve been someone once asked me recently if I thought the election of Charisse David’s in Kansas was good news for Indians [01:00:32] Yeah, of course is good news for us. But more importantly it’s good news for Kansas. She understands as a Native American Woman. Historical inequality structural inequality, she understands the price that communities pay when they don’t have access to Capital. So, in the case of Kansas, I’m not just happy for Native folk [01:00:50] I’m happy for Kansans that they have somebody who understands what that’s like because all Kansans most of them anyway, they’re in the position that we’ve been in for a long time. And so [01:01:00] it’s best they have an Indian to lead them to some other future.
DeRay [01:01:06] There’s a lot of people who have protested they’ve been to meetings They’ve called they’ve done all the things they were told to do in the outcomes haven’t changed in the way. They thought it was going to change. What do you say to those people?
David [01:01:14] They probably know better than I do that progress is not a straight line and battles lost doesn’t mean a war lost necessarily in that [01:01:24] What’s most important is to remember that these struggles. Has always been and continues to be on going but to remain engaged that’s hugely important. I always think about my dad. He escaped the Holocaust partly on his own was reunited with his parents. He made it to the states and he made a life in the states [01:01:46] He made a few lives and it would have been so easy for him to be bitter would have been so easy for him to be a bitter small man. But in the days before he died, we were [01:02:00] talking and I was must have been pessimistic. I must have been in a bad mood looking out and surveying the state of America that moment [01:02:07] How can you stand what this country does? This is your country of choice for me? It’s not I was born here, but you weren’t how can you stand it? And he looked at me like I was stupid, but he’s really good at doing and he said look no one else took me in. This country took me in and it saved my life if I hadn’t found Refuge here as a refugee [01:02:32] I would have been sent back to Europe and I would have been killed along with the rest of my family. He said so I love this country and he said I love her so much that I’ve taken it as my job to make sure she does the right thing. It’s my job to make it better. And I think about that a lot. And that’s I guess what I would say to people is that America’s [01:03:00] got some problems [01:03:01] There’s no doubt about it, but it’s got some virtues too, and it’s up to us to make her better.
DeRay [01:03:09] The last question a question I asked everybody is what’s a piece of advice that you’ve gotten that’s stuck with you?
David [01:03:12] There’s a few bits when things got dark one of my friends said hands up chin down. It’s a boxing metaphor for sustain the fight and I was lucky enough as an undergraduate to have a year-and-a-half to work with Toni Morrison, and I got a year and a half with her and her voice is in my head a lot [01:03:38] If there’s something that’s not there if there’s a book that you need and it’s not there you have to write. And something else she also told me and that we talked about a lot was that if the status quo does not serve you if the terms that the state would have you live by do not serve you you [01:04:00] have to change the terms [01:04:03] If the language you’re using to have an argument is language that does not serve you if the stories through which and by which we are understood do not serve us. Then it is up to us to change them. Otherwise, we’re going to lose and we’re going to lose and we’re going to lose again.
DeRay [01:04:18] Thanks so much for making time today, and we consider your friend of the Pod
David [01:04:19] Thank you.
DeRay [01:04:22] Well, that’s it. Thanks, so much for tuning in to Pod Save The People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcast for this apple podcast or somewhere else and we’ll see you next week.