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October 04, 2022
Pod Save The People
Choose Your Fight

In This Episode

DeRay, Myles, De’Ara and Kaya  cover the underreported news of the week— including accountability for celebrities and online harassment, the predatory nature of the parent plus loan, single mothers forced to reveal sexual histories or forfeit welfare benefits and a case for leaving America to escape racism.

 

News:

Myles https://www.thedailybeast.com/nicki-minaj-fans-came-for-youtuber-kimberly-nicole-foster-so-shes-suing-them

https://www.vice.com/en/article/4axq5b/can-you-sue-nicki-minaj-stans-for-harassment

De’Ara https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2022/09/26/case-leaving-america-escape-racism/?request-id=ae2e66c2-489f-41ca-bda8-31ddb9ce5f48&pml=1

Kaya https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/17/your-money/parent-plus-loans.html?searchResultPosition=3

DeRay https://www.propublica.org/article/to-get-public-assistance-these-single-mothers-are-forced-to-share-intimate-details-about-their-families?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. And welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode, it’s me, De’Ara, Kaya, and Myles talking about the underreported news regarding race and social justice in the past week. We talk about accountability with online harassment, the predatory nature of the parent plus loans, single mothers forced to reveal sexual histories or forfeit welfare benefits and other things. There’s a lot going on this week, probably news that you didn’t know in the national conversation, but news that you should know. Here we go. My advice for this week is, you know, people often say pick your battles. But it’s really my father used to always say, uh figure out who you’re sending into the battle. And sometimes you just don’t need your general for every battle. Sometimes you can send the private, sometimes you can send colonel. And I had a tough conversation recently. And I was, I’m so used to sending the General in and I’m so used to fighting hard. And this conversation was like, you know what? We just didn’t need to fight tooth and nail about it. We could go back and forth and we could disagree, but I didn’t need to go guns blazing like I’m used to. So I’d say, think through who you send to the battle. Here we go. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @DeAraBalenger.

 

Myles Johnson: I am Myles E. Johnson. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @pharaohrapture. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson on Twitter at @HendersonKaya. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay @deray on Twitter. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: [sigh] So I don’t know about y’all, but I have been constantly checking on my folks in Florida. And it really is shocking to me when I add them up how many people I have in Florida, which has been really scary this week, given Hurricane Ian. And it’s I mean, I’m sure it’s it’s been all over the news every single day. Um. And it’s seeming like it’s going to be Florida’s most expensive hurricane. There are nearly 70 people that have passed because of the hurricane. Still this morning, there’s up to 100,000 people in Florida that don’t have power. So, you know, estimated 47 billion and insured losses in Florida. Um. And it’s just kind of really like it’s just been it’s been ravaging. So, you know, interestingly, understanding and this was my first thought with with Florida, what is the response of DeSantis going to be given that he’s not somebody that necessarily is into, uh I don’t know, social welfare? Uh. [laughter] Humanity? Uh. You know, just decency and caring about your fellow neighbor. Um. And it’s no surprise and this is where I’m getting my thinking from, is that he actually, DeSantis voted against giving aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and trying to rebuild post-Hurricane Sandy. So. You know, we’ll see how how this response goes. Obviously, the federal government is going to help. But it’s just again, it’s one of those things where it’s like these folks are always voting against, you know, federal aid and money to those in need and all of that kind of stuff. And it just like when we talked about Mississippi and water, like, you know, what’s going to help them get to progress is money that they’re receiving from the federal government, which everybody in Mississippi that’s Republican voted against. So it’s just it it’ll be interesting to see. And it’s just it’s it’s always a shame, though, in such a tragedy that people’s lives basically have to be in in kind of in the in the balance of what a lawmaker or what a governor or what government is going to do. Right? So it’s, his decisions are going to basically predicate what happens to a lot of these folks. And we know that folks of color are going to be the most impacted and, you know, the last to receive whatever aid there is, the last to be able to get covered by insurance. So.

 

DeRay Mckesson: I’m reminded too that DeSantis is, you notice I always get Abbott and DeSantis, Texas and Florida mixed up because they both are awful governors. But DeSantis, if you remember, very recently, spent almost $12 million dollars putting immigrants on a on two planes to go to Martha’s Vineyard, just dropped them off on Martha’s Vineyard as a political ploy. And it’s like think about how that money could have been used to help people evacuate, could have been used to help set up shelters for people who were actually experiencing crisis, could have been used to help people navigate the immigration process. But instead you did it. You upended real people’s lives for a political ploy. And you know, that just I hope there are swift consequences. I hope that he loses. I think Crist is running against him. Right? That’s the right state? I feel like I’m always mixing up the two bad, two bad evil white men, Republican governors. But but I saw that and I was like, goodness, this guy doesn’t deserve anything. 

 

Kaya Henderson: It’s not just DeSantis, though. Matt Gaetz, who is the congressional representative, one of Florida’s congressional representatives, also uh voted against legislation that would free up millions of dollars in disaster relief for FEMA after Hurricane Ian struck. Right. So, you know, you people are ailing. You know that there’s an opportunity for the federal government to kick in. And Gaetz and a handful of other GOP lawyers um said they would do whatever is necessary to stop funding the Biden administration. The Biden administration. How about the people of Florida friends? Um. But you all I mean, you know, you’ve heard the adage, we get we we get the government we deserve. And so when you keep on um electing these ideologues who are willing to pursue their doctrine over, you know, what’s happening to the real people in their states, I guess this is what you get. 

 

Myles Johnson: No and this has to be addressed because this like climate change is now. Like I think some of the times the messaging around climate change is think about your grandkids, think about– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Right. 

 

Myles Johnson: Think about your grandkids grandkids, what Earth are you going to have them inherit? Think about the Earth you about to inherit in two weeks like it’s happening right this second and unfortunately, there has been such slow progress in climate change that now a lot of these things that are deemed as like quote unquote, “natural disasters”, they’re not as natural as we like for them to seem. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: They’ve been they they’ve been manipulated. They’re man created by our by the government’s irresponsibility of taking this seriously. And now the least that can happen is that when these natural disasters that have been curated and created by irresponsible government happen that there could be proper uh help when those disasters hit. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: It’s it’s. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm.

 

Myles Johnson: It’s a evil. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: And I think it’s also just like [laughing] an infrastructure issue. Right? Because what’s happening in Florida is is a ton of flooding. And so I don’t I guess it’s like the same for Louisiana. For me, it’s just like if we know that these things are going to happen. And to Myles’ point, going to happen more often because of climate change. Why aren’t we working constantly to make sure that the infrastructure is such that it can withstand or partially withstand um some of some of the this weather. 

 

Myles Johnson: Infrastructure has a has a racial history, too, where people are placed, where people go is has been erased. Even when I did go to PR and people like kind of say like, you know, the south of the south, Puerto Rico and stuff like that. That’s where the Black people are. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Right. 

 

Myles Johnson: That’s, you know, and even here, that’s the same thing. So a lot of places that do not have proper infrastructure don’t have it because these are the systemically neglected spaces. You know, and the worse thing that can happen when a neglected space is for a neglected space to get hit by a natural disaster. And then, you know, the neglect is shown and it becomes like outrageous and it becomes obvious. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, you know who’s not neglected? Brett Favre. 

 

Myles Johnson: [laughter] The segue.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Good old Brett Farve. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Indeed. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Who played football– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Not neglected. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: –For many, many, many, many years. This fool took a million dol–. Was it a million? What I’m reading is he took a million dollars in welfare grant money to help fund a volleyball court at his child’s school. So I know there’s more to this story, but that’s just what I’m I’m seeing just from a factual start point. So it’s just, again, you know, Brett Favre, he’s a conservative football player, just like Tom Brady. Y’all love Tom Brady. Tom Brady can go kick rocks as far as I’m concerned. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I love De’Ara’s ability to just pull in other people that she doesn’t like. [laughter] Story don’t have a thing to do with Tom Brady but him too damn it. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Him. 

 

Myles Johnson: I’m going to make I’m gonna make it about Tom Brady.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Him too. All the Mannings. Peyton Manning and the other little brother, can’t stand them. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Oh, ah ha! 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Republicans, can’t stand them either. So– 

 

Myles Johnson: Nixon.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Nixon. [laughter] Clarence Thomas. Clarence Thomas. Him.

 

Myles Johnson: Reagan. [laughter] Reagan and his wife. Reagan and his wife. [laughter] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: All of them. 

 

Myles Johnson: And that little white la– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: All of them. 

 

Myles Johnson: And that white lady who looked at me weird in Piggly Wiggly. All of y’all. [laughter] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: But it is just wild how these folks can, like, take advantage of the system when it works for them. And meanwhile, their whole narrative is that people of color, low income people, are the ones that are lazy and relying on welfare, etc. It’s just. Blows my mind. And in Mississippi, the place that is the poorest place in the United States. For him to take a million dollars. First of all, he already got a million dollars. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Not a million dollars– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: How much was it? 

 

Kaya Henderson: This is. This is more than $20 million dollars– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Okay see, see. 

 

Kaya Henderson: That is up for. So it’s a it’s cash to him, but it’s also um a volleyball, volleyball stadium? I think it’s volleyball right? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. 

 

Kaya Henderson: A new volleyball stadium. I think there’s also some money for some football stuff because he the University of Southern Mississippi was his his alma mater before he went to the NFL and so uh. Indoor practice facility. His daughter played volleyball at the university. And so they were trying to build a new volleyball arena. Oh, and then there were direct cash payments to him for speaking engagements that he never actually performed. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And, you know, the wild thing about it is that the guy who used to run the Mississippi Department of Human Services and four other people have actually faced criminal charges because of this. Though Favre has not been accused of a crime formally yet. Uh. And there are some redactions because the text messages got leaked. But. But like Kaya said, Favre got $1.1 million dollars because of these weird, not real speaking engagements. And then the $5 million dollars towards a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, which is just wild. 

 

Myles Johnson: That is I don’t have a super uh– intellectual point. 

 

Kaya Henderson: You don’t have a– you don’t have a bad enough word to say about how bad this is? 

 

Myles Johnson: No it, no I do. No. Everything that everybody’s thinking, but I think what like stuck to me was more like observational, and it was the guiltlessness of it. And I have, you know, I won’t go into like the depth of like my opinions on this subject, but I’ve seen Black people in business and Black people who are organizers in politics really fight over money and fight over thousands of dollars, hundreds of dollars and where that money is going and and sometimes it’s gotten up to a to a million mark of dollars. And I see stories like this and I’m like, oh, we are talking about peanuts sometimes because the things that people will do for a volleyball stadium and then though, is if it’s just wild to me that the guiltlessness of it. And um yeah, that that’s kind of the observation that just like was swirling in my head. 

 

Kaya Henderson: The not just guiltless-ness, but like you knew this was wrong. Right? 

 

Myles Johnson: Mm hmm. 

 

Kaya Henderson: The big bombshell is the text messages where he’s literally, Brett Favre is literally like, is there any way that the media can find out that I’m getting these payments and, you know, where the money is coming from and the lady’s like, oh, no, we got this. And he’s like, okay, like, why aren’t why are we not and why are we not talking criminal charges here? Because that signifies intent. I don’t know. Tell me, lawyer lady like– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Jail. 

 

Kaya Henderson: What does, that. [laughter] [indistinct] Alright! Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. You knew this was wrong. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: No longer an abolitionist in this moment. [laughter] You’re like, Brett Favre deserves all of the consequences. It also is like just the welfare money. There is a ton of money at the state level. You know, states have these massive budgets. If you really needed to find $5 million dollars for the volleyball stadium, you could have found it. But stealing from poor people is the easiest thing to do because who’s checking for it? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Nobody. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Gross. 

 

Kaya Henderson: TANF. I mean, welfare, mothers and children like that’s what this is. That’s what you stealing from. Mississippi’s mothers and children who incidentally, still don’t have clean drinking water, even though they tell you it’s okay for the water to drink. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Somebody needs to look into his foundation too. We on to you, Brett Favre. 

 

Myles Johnson: Bout to be sharing a bunker with [indistinct] [laughter] As long as my praying grandmother has something to say about it. Okay. Speaking of evil, white men, Dah– Dahmer has uh taken on the imaginations of the streaming public. Um. A lot of controversies. Uh. I don’t even know if they’re controversies. I think that, you know, Twitters and social media in pe– and all that world needs a little bit of conflict in order to really, like, survive itself. So I don’t know how big the actual controversy is, but a lot of people are have a lot of comments on Dahmer and and the Netflix show produced and directed by Ryan Murphy. Um. What do what do you all. Have y’all seen it? How do y’all what do y’all think about it? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Myles, even as you’re talking about it, I was I started to type in Jeffrey Dahmer just to like have had– 

 

Myles Johnson: Well [indistinct] out. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: To have some, like, have some like recent context. But it’s like I can’t even put that in my in my browser. Like, I, I don’t understand why this man is of any interest to anyone. This I remember. I remember this happening and I remember being terrified of this and it was like around the same time I feel like that um the movie with um what’s the movie where he was? 

 

Myles Johnson: Silence of the Lambs. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yes. So this whole like I don’t know these people, how they grew up, what schools they went to, why they think this kind of content is needed or necessary to public discourse or culture. But I’m just repulsed and disgusted by it. And also just thinking about, like, the victims. That still have families who are living and breathing and still dealing with the trauma of what Jeffrey Dahmer did to their families. It’s just like I don’t understand Hollywood. I really don’t understand. And I don’t understand, like the people watching it. 

 

Myles Johnson: Have you seen it? Miss Auntie Kaya Henderson. [laughing] 

 

Kaya Henderson: I have not seen it. Um. One of my closest friends called me yesterday and I called her yesterday and I was like, What are you doing? She’s like, Oh, you know, we’re watching Dahmer. And I was like Girl, what? Why? [laughing] Cause because you like seeing crazy white men who eat Black people like what the mmm? And she was like, well, the acting is so great and blah blah, and they’re from a cinematic family and all of that jazz. Ehh. Miss me with that. Like, I don’t understand, like, what was happening in the writers room with this. Like, hey, you know what’d be a great story to tell? Jeffrey Dahmer. Oh, yeah, that’d be great. Everybody will want to watch that. Like, I don’t even know where this thing comes from. I have absolutely zero interest in it. I don’t care if, you know, the best actor in the whole wide world was watching it. I mean was acting in it and it was the most amazing performance. I will not spend however much time on that thing at all. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now, do you think I’ve heard people say that like here this in some ways is a highlighting of the horrors that happened to Black gay men, because we don’t tell these stories that they don’t get focused on, they don’t get prioritized. I think the hard thing and this is both a this is sort of a um a good problem, a Ryan Murphy problem is that he is such an excellent storyteller and the cast is so great and da da da. That it can inadvertently glamorize, uh you know. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Violence. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: It can inadvertently. Yeah viol– and like horrific wild violence. Now, here’s what I will say. I have not watched it. Don’t plan to watch it. But one of the takeaways that one of my best friends he has watched it and we had a really good conversation about how this was not actually like a white mastermind. Right? This was not a serial mastermind. This was wild, wild failures by the police, that there were a million touch points where there was an opportunity for the police to intervene. If you remember, the police did not go to Dahmer’s house after he was harming one of the people because he sort of it was like they were going to get sick or uh get like infected with something if they went in the house and they just didn’t go. Remember that one of the, one of the young men actually escapes? They returned him to Dahmer, right? That like that if there’s any if if I can find something to take away from this, it is like the police have failed Black queer, poor, like for a long, long time. And and this actually shows that really well. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. And I do think that there so I don’t want to, I don’t want to pretend that I believe something that I don’t. So I do believe in the depiction of violence and of um evil in cinema. I think that that is one of the, it’s such a good to me it’s such a good way to show that monsters are socialized and created, not just born. And I think that it gives us a safe distance to really examine those things. I think the people who are the vehicles for the evil, we’re we’re tired of, and I think that it would have been more interesting– so like one of me and my partners new favorite like things to dive is the gangstress era, so these queen pins, these women who are in, you know, different uh prisons for like these like kind of vicious murders. And I’d never seen a movie like that. I’ve never seen a movie about a Black woman who or a queer Black person who has done some vile, evil, violent things and a movie about how it got there. And I think that that is what this moment is calling us for, is if we’re going to say like Black life matters, then Black is, you know, not just beautiful, but it could be ugly and tormented and all these other things it’s showing how does the uglies of Black life uh what what socializes us into those moments? You know, and I think that I understand why Jeffrey Dahmer would have gotten greenlit and gotten to the point of production. But I think that is out of step with the actual moment of what the audience is calling for. And I think the audience is calling for um not sympathetic views of a serial killer or even critical views of the system that allowed it. But what about these? What about these like Black monsters that we have that that we that we grew up with? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I get that, though, because I think partly it’s like we and we’ll talk about this later with my article, but I think partly it’s like Black people endure so much darkness all the time and we’ve like inherited so much darkness. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Like it is a miracle that we’re all not out there killing everybody. 

 

Myles Johnson: And some of us were [laughing] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 

 

Myles Johnson: And some and some of us are. And I think and I think that it’s just interesting to me that people can see the usefulness of a Jeffrey Dahmer film, but not see the usefullness, like we don’t even have an Assata Shakur, Angela Davis film. Which those are people who like if you if you believe everything that the police told you, these are people who shot some white folks, shot some white police officers or whatever. We don’t even have depictions of them. We do not have a lot of like I I can truly only think of Beloved. And the film didn’t do well. I can only think of Beloved as a depiction of a Black woman doing a heinous thing and getting a sympathetic lens towards it. And that’s really, really useful. I do think that depiction of that is really useful, and I think that’s how come white people get to be heroin addicted serial killers and presidents. And I think that we have to kind of deal with our goals still. We cannot always be, you know, walking down a bridge, fighting for freedom while Beyonce’s Freedom plays in the background. That is not the entirety of the Black experience. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: But I think it’s also just opening. I think it’s just opening the aperture to like all the stories that need to be told. Right. Because I think why this weird, awful thing versus all the other many varieties of stories that you can’t like? If your argument is like, oh, we’re trying to amplify that this happens to Black queer men, okay? But there’s a whole bunch of other things that we could talk about. That aren’t that aren’t making them victims, that aren’t showing them being brutalized, that aren’t demean– you know what I mean? It’s just like there’s so many ways that we could go in storytelling and we always go the way where we’re it’s it’s about white perspective, white gaze and Black people are the mechanisms for the entertainment. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. It’s something to think about. 

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere more Pod Save the People’s coming. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Myles Johnson: Speaking of um violence, we’re going to talk about uh Nicki Minaj and her stans real quick. [laugh] So I have been scared to bring this to the podcast because– 

 

Kaya Henderson: [laughing] Why? 

 

Myles Johnson: I like my own peace, but it’s gotten to such a critical state that I will I felt a little bit of um irresponsibility not talking about it, because it’s a small moment, a micro moment that I think that can end up being like a pretty macro moment. So Kimberly Foster, who’s a online Black feminist writer and public pop culture commentator, had made some commentary on Nicki Minaj. Um. Some critical commentary on her kind of public personality, and then also her onstage um uh performances. And she started getting a lot of slack for it or so Nicki Minaj stans started to like really come at her. So it started with the average. It’s so odd that this is like the average thing that happens on the Internet. You say something bad about a celebrity and they’re like, you’re ugly. You broke, your outfit’s nasty. That’s why you ain’t got like, that’s just where it goes and that’s just normal. But then her phone number leaked. She started um receiving private um death threats. And uh then her old address, thankfully, got leaked in. And she started getting death threats to her, um uh rape threats and then also um threats to her family. And then an address of hers ended up getting doxxed too. So, what she did was she decided to then litigate, shout out to Black women with resources and money because they messed with the right one, the right one, apparently, because I know that a lot of people just don’t have the resources to do that. She went in, started um, started the litigation process. And what interested me about this is that I think because Nicki Minaj is such a big star, because Kimberly has the um the stamina to go through the litigation process, and then she also has, um uh you know, like a sizable platform. I think she has about like a little bit over 70,000 followers on Twitter. So I’m thinking that if she plays this right, I hate to say it like this, but like if she plays it right publicity wise, that this could become one of those like landmark cases, to me, that changes– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: –How people interact on the Internet. And then also it becomes this difference about how about what does a public person’s responsibility become on the Internet. So one of the interesting parts of this case too, that is, she she was receiving death threats. She was public about the death threats. Before and after that, Nicki Minaj herself on her account liked the death threats and or or like the fans who are saying, oh, we’ll do anything for our queen. We’ll do anything. We’ll go outside and then do whatever for our queen. She likes it. So this so her knowing that this was happening to Kimberly and then her also liking these things kind of erects an interesting question to me about free speech, about what’s incite, what’s inciting violence, a public person’s responsibility and irresponsibility and just all these. Like and again, these are all legal, cultural, political questions that I don’t necessarily have the answer to. But I do think there are moments like this that open them up for us to think about it. And I think the more that we’re talking and communicating with each other in this digital sphere, online, in Internet culture, the more we have to consult with these things. And to me, this story was exciting because it’s an excuse to think about how we’re interacting on the Internet and what is celebrity’s job and what’s not their job. And some of these people are still very young and doing those things. And then there are some people who haven’t aged out of that because also it’s being revealed is that some of these people are very grown, threes and fours and and late twenties in front of their ages. So these are not just children doing it, which I think the Internet kind of has helped us skew, when we could just think that all these people are 13 to 16 year olds. No some of these people are 29, 30 something, 40 something year olds doing this too. Yeah. What, what? What do ya’ll think? Don’t be scared. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I’m not scared. I this is one of the things I hate about the internet because I grew up in a time where the mantra was, say it to my face. And I think the problem with the Internet. [sound of internet static technical difficulties] [laughter]

 

Kaya Henderson: Ruh ro. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: The problem with the Internet– [laugh]

 

Kaya Henderson: Call security, call security for De’Ara’s house right now. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: It was say it to my face, [laughter] I’m a DC girl that will say it to my face. And that’s the thing about the Internet, and I’m sick of these folks that you go on their harassing and bullying people and you do it without accountability, I think. I mean, this is also. This. And Myles, this doesn’t go to like celebrities. This is also elected officials. Like when I used to post about Hillary. 

 

Myles Johnson: Absolutely. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: The Bernie people would go wild on my Instagram page and I’m just like, say it to my face. Like I see y’all. I go to we’re all at the same things, we’re at the debates. I don’t see y’all saying anything to me there. So it’s just for me, it’s just like it is such like uh just a cowardly thing to do. I don’t I just really don’t find any excuse for it. I just I feel like when I was a teenager, I was, like, playing volleyball and then working part time at Boston Market. I didn’t have time to be online harassing people, even though there was no online when I was that age. But yeah so I just I hope I hope to see that like something landmark happens from this decision so that we can put an end to Internet harassment. That would be– 

 

Myles Johnson: And because because you’re um law lady, I think is what uh Auntie Kaya just coined [laugh] is like does she have cause I also added the Vice article that had you know her speaking to another that had somebody speaking to a lawyer or whatever it was it’s it’s a little Vice-y like like it’s a little and not the best journalism. [laughing] I’m like because because I think that the point of that I think the point of it is that the threats got private, personal, about Kimberly’s family, about threatening her, they got they leaked her phone number, leaked these things, I think that’s where it’s coming from, not just what was happening online and people calling her like ugly or broke or whatever. Like it’s because they got personal. So uh Lady of law, it does she have a chance? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I think it’s I mean, this is also reminds me of like in gaming, right? How they do, remember we covered that? Where for gamers, if one gamer was upset with another gamer, they would have the police like raid their house? 

 

Myles Johnson: Mmm. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Remember that? 

 

Kaya Henderson: Oh yeah. Um it’s swatting. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Swatting. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Swatting that’s what it was called.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Like it’s just like, here’s the thing. I think, you know, obviously, like the whole point of how our legal system is set up is so that laws evolve with the times. Um. And so I think– 

 

Myles Johnson: Right. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: –The Internet has been a thing that has just been you know, it’s just been so hard to you know find standing, to sue, to figure out who you know, who the perpetrators are, who, you know, obviously, it’s easy to figure out who the victims are. So, you know, I see I do see it moving in a way, though, where there’s going to be whether it happens in a courtroom or whether it happens in um a legislature, you know, in a legislative house, that there are going to be laws to kind of stop this. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: So Nicki Minaj, uh incredible artist and I’m always surprised at her Internet drama, I’m like, who? You’re just up here. Like take Twitter away. You know, you’re like, what are you doing on Twitter? I’m just like, I don’t understand the tweets and the like and like at that part. I just don’t get it. But a reminder that everybody gets sucked into the attention economy and nobody is exempt. Shout out to Beyonce for just not even being on the Internet in a way that we can even log. I think I’m interested in this, too, because I have seen, especially since the protests began, I’ve seen people like the author of this, or like like Kimberly, who Myles knows was really awful to me personally. She said unkind things to me, got people to attack me, like really not nice. She’s deleted all those tweets, but she was awful. So I have so I generally have very little sympathy for her. But it has been interesting to see sort of time passing people. And then they become the they become the brunt of the same energy that they inflicted on a lot of people. And then it’s like people learn and they get it. And I say that not even as a criticism that Kimberly, but but but like a reminder that the world is circular and that we–

 

Kaya Henderson: Karma baby. Karma. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And that we got to be mindful about the energy that we put out because the Internet does and it’s gotten worse since 2014, but it really does breed this like the currency is the takedown, the currency is the expose, whether it’s true or not, that’s like that sort of is what it becomes now I’m hopeful and I say all that and I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Kimberly as a person and because of my past experience. But I do in the sense that nobody should be subject to abuse, right? That like we can live in a world where even the people we disagree with and the people we do not like are not abused, are not hurt, are not doxxed like that is just an unfair way to hold people accountable for their actions I believe. And that. And in that sense, I do hope that this uh that this stops. 

 

Kaya Henderson: That’s not just on the Internet. That’s a life lesson. Right. As a public official, there were people who said terrible things to me about me, about my family. And then when they became public officials or when they got in the public eye and felt the same sting, right? We’re I mean, the first only and largest victims. And I think, you know, there are certain old time adages that still ring true, which is, you know, you reap what you sow or whatever, you know, sew kindness because then you reap kindness. Um. The thing that was most interesting to me about this is the potential culpability of Nicki Minaj. Right? I do think De’Ara to your accountability, the law is evolving uh with the times. This idea of accountability really matters because um basically, you know, the article is saying she’s sending signals. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 

 

Kaya Henderson: To encourage and support this kind of behavior amongst amongst her fans. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: It’s like Trump. It’s like Donald Trump behavior. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. And the thing is, the unfortunate thing is like it’ll be a long time before we prosecute Donald Trump for dog whistling and signaling. But you best believe that a young Black woman who is who is a rap star– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Will be the first. Mm hmm. 

 

Kaya Henderson: They’re going to come for her with, you know, full cannons, right? Wrong or otherwise. Um. But I do think that as artists, as influencers, you got to decide whether you use when you want to use your powers for good or evil. And I think that there are going to be some real questions um around what happens when you are behaving in this kind of way. I think it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. And this won’t be the first one, right? This– 

 

Myles Johnson: Right. 

 

Kaya Henderson: This may be the first one, but it won’t be the last. And so I think we’re going to continue to grapple with this question. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save the People’s coming. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

De’Ara Balenger: So DeNeen L. Brown, whose actually a Washington Post reporter, and she’s she’s actually reported on a lot of things we’ve talked about. Um. And I’m realizing that I’m actually a huge fan of hers without knowing her name. Um. But now I do. She’s um she’s incredible in of herself and a very accomplished um award winning, winning staff writer at The Washington Post. And I think what’s interesting about this article, it’s kind of like Deneen takes you through what she’s reported on and how she’s arrived to her case for leaving America to escape racism. And that’s what this whole op-ed is about. But she has covered night police, education, courts, politics, culture. She’s written about the Black middle class, poverty, the homeless, arts and gentrification. And I think through her reporting, which she takes you through, she just arrives at I don’t want to be in America anymore. It’s too painful to be here. I can’t be a full human being here. I can’t step into my vision and creativity here. And I don’t like I completely relate to her, but I feel like she just lays it out in such an incredibly dynamic way. So she gives this background, which is lengthy and just so just beautifully and powerfully written. And then she goes into, you know, the history of like kind of Black ex-pats, whether that’s James Baldwin or Maya Angelou or, you know, Stokely Carmichael or, [?]– 

 

Myles Johnson: Nina Simone. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Nina Simone. Just like the many like we know this history and we know the perspectives of those and why they had to get away and why their art flourished in some degree because they were able to escape the United States, right? Yeah. I just thought this was a fascinating article. Kaya just got back from Ghana, so I’m, like, dying to hear her thoughts. But it was one of those things where, like, we we talked about, you know, Black people leaving America. And, you know, we, I remember I covered something on like Black women are the biggest demographic of folks to leave the United States. But when we talked about it, it’s more like a joyful, like leisure type of privileged Black person can go this place and that place. And with this with DeNeen’s writing, it’s just like it really hit me. Like if we were like, just as like a rational, educated person, if all these things are happening to you and your family in this place, why would you stay? 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah she like makes a case for it. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. Yeah. 

 

Myles Johnson: Mm hmm. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: So, so interested in y’alls thoughts. 

 

Kaya Henderson: And I’ve always been in the I’m staying here camp. We built this country. Da da da da or whatever, whatever. Fast forward to now. And Ghana’s the hottest thing besides Portugal. Ghana’s the hottest thing in the world for Black folks. Everybody is going to Ghana, the year to return, you know? Oh, my gosh, it’s so amazing. All my friends who’ve gone think that it’s right. I have friends who moved to Ghana. So I go to Ghana two weeks ago uh for a friend’s birthday and like my whole entire goal is to understand, like, why is everybody moving here? What’s the deal? And I’ve been to other sub-Saharan African countries, and I like maybe I thought Ghana was going to be something different, but it ain’t. It’s the same like and no disrespect to Ghana, but it’s the same poor infrastructure, it’s the same. You know, government corruption is the same, like all of the things. Right. Um. But I was talking to an expat in Ghana and he said, your why has to be bigger than what you see. And that like hit home for me, right, that people are not coming there because the conditions in Ghana are so great or blah, blah, blah, blah. But what happens to people, to expats, at least the ones that I’ve met in Ghana is they all talk about freedom in a different way than I think we do as Black people in the United States. And I feel like my whole entire like purpose in life is Black freedom, right? Through education or through advocacy or through whatever. And there was a paragraph in an article that said, Black people have been trying to kill the snake of systemic racism and injustice in America for 400 years. Maybe instead of a snake, the better metaphor is a wall. Fighting entrenched racism is like punching a brick wall with bare hands. In the end, the wall does not move an inch. It doesn’t bend. It doesn’t break. I’m only human and my knuckles bleed. Unless the majority of the population becomes true anti-racist, that is, unless they become actively involved in fighting against racism. Little will change. And I think Black people are saying, I’m tired of bloody knuckles. I don’t want to fight the wall anymore. It’s time for me to get a little peace in my life. It’s time for me to be in a space where I’m not constantly hitting a wall. And as we talk about mental health health issues. And we talk about like, I don’t know, like spaces of of peace and belonging. I get why DeNeen Brown is ready to leave the United States of America. 

 

Myles Johnson: Um. I thought the I loved the article. I thought it was just superbly written. And my push is there’s just no queer trans lens on this article. And I think that there is this heavy romanticization of leaving America. But we have to remember where certain countries in Africa are neighbor to and what they’re doing. I have a lot of friends who are here on asylum. I have a lot of friends who um have cried in my living room around uh stories about their friends, about what they’ve experienced, what they experienced in their families, in their churches, by strangers, because that they were openly and visibly and clockibly what we will say in the clocky clockibly uh queer and trans in their home lands, in their home countries. And I think that I love uh the idea of Black people coming together and thinking of different ways to survive white supremacy in our lifetimes that maybe our ancestors didn’t, didn’t think about or really consult with. But I think that we have to complicate it, because I read the whole article and I was like, the next arti– the next paragraph is going to come, the next paragraph is going to come and the paragraph never came. Where I cannot go to, you know, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t I don’t want to say nothing. There’s just certain places with with legislature that it’s just very obvious. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: It makes me wonder the places that do not have that obvious legislature, are you that much more progressive just because you don’t have the the law there? But um but yeah, it makes me wonder could I go to uh these places and wear a dress? Could I go there and, and experiment with, with, with femininity? Could I go there and say, hey, actually, I do not always identify as this gender. And I in the last piece that I would um that, that that stuck with me from this article that I think is beautiful. It needs to be written. And I don’t ever want to seem like I’m like annihilating anything that’s happening in this article. But so many Black people who felt freedom, so many of the articulation of freedom was, I feel like a woman. I feel like I just felt like a man. But then it makes me wonder, well, what if you don’t feel like neither? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mmm. Mm hmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: Where do you go? Where is your home land where you don’t, when you don’t feel like you you belong to a father land or a mother land, you know? And I think that so much of the task of trans nonbinary, queer Black folks is to create, that they land, that them land that, you know, non-gender land in their imaginations because there’s really no place to escape to. So it has to be in your mind and then every and then, and then everything else has to like kind of bend to the paradise that you built in your mind. So um that’s my thoughts on it. But I loved it and it gave me that juicy, warm, Black feeling. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: So insightful. Thank you, Myles. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: I echo that Myles. And thank you for for naming the in-between space not named there in this article. And I think Kaya, I’m I’m closer to you in the sense of like not ready to leave. I’ve been to a lot of places and I’m like, hooo. You know, it’s how I feel too. People ask me all the time, they’re like, did you say something about this? And I can’t believe you’ve been silent. I’m like, We haven’t even fixed the thing here. I don’t know how I could possibly tell another country what to do about their thing because we haven’t fixed it here. And I and I feel so committed to this not because I’m like, uh I don’t know, a sadist, which is what organizing feels like some days. But because I have just seen the incredible power of Black people to do the impossible. And so when I read articles like this, I take that as a challenge to organize better and differently and more inclusive and to, you know, to bring more people into the fold, to help people see the power they do have. And I think about sort of whiteness’s last stand in this moment, white supremacy and like the Republicans and da da da fighting like hell to make sure that we don’t participate, aren’t involved, don’t see power. Like that is how I think about this moment. And they would not be fighting this hard if we had not gained so much ground. So I like appreciate this writing and her perspective makes total sense to me. And then the organizer in me is like this says fight harder. This says that my challenge is to create the conditions so she looks back and is like, I need to move back and I got this and I’m aware that da da. Like that is what I want to make. So uh it was good to read this. This was like a good jolt in my system. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I think, Myles, um I want to say thank you for bringing your perspective to to this conversation, because I think ultimately, like, no, there is no place that is good for everybody. Right. And um it reminds us that, number one, like whatever we pursue, like justice is not for some. Justice, belonging, peace is for all of us. And so we’ve got to seek spaces and create spaces. Um. You know, when I think about the conversations that we’re having about about all of this, right? Gay, trans, non-binary, like, fluidity, all of the things literally ten years ago, we were not having this conversation. Right. And that is because people have created space. And I think the challenge for all of us is wherever we go, we are going to have to create this space of belonging that we want for ourselves and the people that we love. On to mun– more mundane subjects um [laughing] like your money in your pocket when you’re trying to pay for your kids to go to college. Um. We’ve been talking a lot about student loans and the student debt crisis and loan forgiveness and all of that jazz. But I wanted to bring um a different problem to the pod that we don’t often talk about, and that is parent loans for college, um money that parents and families borrow to support their children’s tuition and whatnot. Um. And my news this week is about the parent plus loan, which uh the Urban Institute says uh parent plus loans are a no strings attached revenue source for colleges and universities, with the risk shared only by parents and the government. What are the people talking about? Well, they call it a subprime lending program, because basically what happens in the plus loan program is parents can borrow up to the entire cost of their child’s college tuition and income be damned. You can have the money to pay for it. You can not have the money to pay for it. In fact, many people end up taking out plus loans after they are denied loans from the federal government because the federal government says you can’t pay the loans. So we’re not going to give you the loans. Oh but we’ll give you a plus loan. And so not everybody pays for their kid’s tuition with plus loans. But 3.6 million people have borrowed under the plus program. They owe $107 billion dollars in debt, and many of them are low income Black families because, you know, it’s going to hit us harder than it hits the rest of the folks. The program was created in 1980 because college costs were rising, middle class people couldn’t afford college and interest rates were high. So borrowing money was um hard. And they, the federal government, created the plus program with a lower than market interest rate. Um. They made it easier for parents to help their children borrow less money because they were borrowing money and there was a $3,000 cap per year. So the most you could borrow on plus was $12,000 if your kid finished in four years, I guess maybe 15. Um. But in 1992, that cap went away. And so they allowed people, many living below the federal poverty line, to borrow tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay their kids tuition. And I mean, you know what happens? Lots of people are in debt. Lots of people have gone bankrupt. Lots of people still owe most of the loan ten or 20 years later. And this is another thing where Congress could actually fix something. Um. But this is complicated. So, for example, you know, there are virtually no credit criteria to be able to get a plus loan. I mean, you just can’t, like, be bankrupt or a couple of other really like harsh things. But when a few years ago, when uh the U.S. Department of Education looked at tweaking the credit requirements just to make sure that people could afford these loans, the universities that were most affected by the changes were HBCUs. In fact, HBCUs lost $150 million dollars in revenue to intuition revenue when the ED department tried to tweak the credit standards. So we’re in this conundrum where you have people who can’t afford to borrow money, borrowing money um way more than their capacity, way more than many of them will ever be able to pay. And because many of them are black. If you if you tweak the program to make it available to only people who can afford to pay the loans. Then you disadvantage universities that serve mostly black students. And so here we are in a conundrum where I’m not sure what the right answer is. I do know that um and the article makes the point that at some point we have to start considering the fact that college may not be a good investment when the return actually puts people in debt that they can never, ever get out from under. So I brought this to the pod because this is a part of the student debt crisis that we don’t usually talk about. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And I think about and you know, this is not a slight to Ukraine. We should be helping out people. I just think about how much money we have given to the Ukraine as a reminder that the money is there. We could invest, we could subsidize, we could save, we could build, like the money. And if we have enough money to give to another country that is at war that we like and that we care about and, you know, the global economy matters. But if there was just enough money sitting around, if we didn’t, like print more money to do that. That means that we always had the money to invest in community and we choose not to. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: [sigh] So I just looked up the tuition for my alma mater. I went to Macalester College, which is a pretty good liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Tuition for this year is $76,270, and that includes room and board. Okay, so $76,000 times four is $304,000 for college. Now, I went to Macalester College. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Did you get you a $304,000 job? [laughter] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I mean, evidentally. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Job afterwards? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: [banter] But I think importantly is just I what did I do at that school that was worth $304,000? I could not tell you, I and especially for me, and the Black kids in my class, we had to protest and act crazy to get Black studies, to be a department, to be a major. So I think partly it just blows my mind that even the school I went to is now $76,000 a year. That is absurd. It’s absurd. Like $76,000 a year. Who has that? Who has $304,000? 

 

Kaya Henderson: That’s if you what if you have one kid, what if you have two kids? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Two. And also just think you’re giving a 18 year old $76,000. What kind of return on investment are you going to get with that. 

 

Myles Johnson: Mm mm. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Child. This this is this is a scam. This all is a scam. My kids, I’m putting them into entrepreneur school dot com because [laughter] they aren’t. We’re all right. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Not dot com. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: We’re alright over here. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: The entrepreneur school was great. It was entrepreneur school dot com. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Dot Com. 

 

Myles Johnson: Not um do you got McDonald’s Money University. So luckily I don’t have I don’t have any debt. The one little piece of debt that I had just got knocked off. I just found out two days ago child. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Amazed. 

 

Myles Johnson: I will never go to Macy’s and get a card again though 10 years ago.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Wait I thought it was like a federal forgiveness. [laughter]

 

Myles Johnson: No. [laughter] No cause [indistinct] my little stint in school was a.) Very short and I I didn’t I don’t I didn’t owe anything on that side. So a lot of my like views on this is just really like empathetic to the people and how I see it affect other people’s, like, lives. Um. But what you just said, De’Ara was where my mind was going was one thing I know is that Black students make the universities they attend better. And in my imagination, I’m like, whoa. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: They should pay us. 

 

Myles Johnson: That’s what I’m thinking. And I’m like, Well, after all of the things that Black folks have done for education and literacy, you know, the case upon cases of upon cases for reparations, we no matter how we enter into it, it’s just so wild to me that these predatory uh loans are still happening to a community that has transformed education in and in how we think about it and makes these universities better and makes these universities competitive. And that was just, the mention that was just so disgusting because I look at everybody here and how much you’ve all added definitely to my life, but then the world and I’m like, Yeah. Y’all shouldn’t be paying for nothing. Y’all should, y’all should never have to um worry about education, about all the things that you’re adding to this nation. Yeah, it’s just. It’s just ridiculous. Ridiculous. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Can I? I want to say one thing, though? And that is that, like, these policy decisions matter, right? Because before you just borrowed what you borrowed and you needed to pay, you paid with interest, but not with compounding interest. And I can’t remember what the I can’t remember what year it was because I haven’t looked at this stuff lately, but. At some point, Congress made the decision to shift student loans to compounding interest. So this is why now you could have borrowed $50,000, have paid $200,000, and still owe $100,000. These we have decided that we are going to this this education that we value so much, that we are going to exploit the bleep out of it and take people to the cleaners. Right. These are decisions that we are making about people and about and we’re exploiting this thing that has been the engine of economic mobility. That is education and cutting it off for huge swaths of people. Like this is not like when we talk about systemic inequities. Like there are people who are making decisions every day. Some Ed lobbying firm, some Congress people who said compounding interest, who said no caps, and it has had consequences for generations and will have consequences for generations to come. Y’all who say that y’all like I don’t want to run for nothing. I don’t want to be a public [?] Who like. If we don’t, then these people keep on making these crazy decisions. You all got me riled up out here today. [laughter]

 

DeRay Mckesson: It’s one of the fights that we have in the organizing community and I feel uh 2020 didn’t help us. Is that like one of the things about policy and laws and stuff is that it works at scale. It is the only scale. It works at scale. And if you don’t play at scale, you will always be catching up the slack. That’s like what the game is. So like– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Can you. Can you, can you just say that one more time? Because I don’t think people hear it. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: It’s really frustrating, so people are like, well, you know, the votes don’t matter. The law, it’s like the only thing that operates at scale that touches everybody, that touches the most people are the laws and policies that is like that’s how it’s set up. So when we just refuse to participate there or don’t have people involved or that’s not where we lobby and protest. We just the best of what we will do will be trying to hold ground or like chip away. That’s just how it’s set up. So thinking about this moment, Kaya that you pushed on about and it goes from $3000 to unlimited. It’s like that was a decision. That was a vote. That was a that was a series of decisions that clearly our people were not involved in and who like who saw what this would happen when you just let everybody apply, you know, like so I I’m hopeful that in the organizing world that, that people start to understand that you can be against all the systems, all that stuff, radical change. We need it and know that every time we are not in the room when these structural scale decisions get made, we will screw ourselves over in the long haul. My news is a revisiting of a piece of news that I was shocked about when we apparently talked about it a year ago. And since then there has been a bill introduced that went nowhere. And this is about the relationship between child support and welfare, the short version, and this was published in ProPublica in 2021. It’s called These Single Moms are Forced to Choose, Reveal Their Sexual Histories or Forfeit Welfare. I did not know that all across the country because of the welfare law that Clinton passed or the big um the big update on the welfare law that Clinton passed, I didn’t know that there’s a practice where if you if a woman is receiving welfare and has outstanding child support payments, uh that if they do not name, if they apply for welfare and don’t name the father of the kids. Uh. Then the child support payments can actually be taken to subsidize the welfare payments. So the state will take the child support payments from the from the parent, from the guy, will keep those payments and essentially be like, we don’t want to double pay. And I just blew my mind. So what the article goes on to talk about, a whole set of women who for a lot of reasons around health and safety, have chosen not to put their father’s name in the legal documents, have chosen not to put their father, the baby’s father, due to child support process the the article also does a good job of highlighting how the history of this is is deeply rooted in colonial times and patriarchal times uh where poor women who gave birth out of wedlock could be jailed or publicly whipped until they name the father of the baby, or until he came forward to shoulder the cost of uh the kid. And when Clinton passed the bill, the quote was, it would contribute to the, quote, “most sweeping crackdown on deadbeat parents in history”. Uh. And still today, almost everybody applies for welfare. Uh. And in most cases, you can imagine it’s the mom, must divulge everything they know about the father, regardless of what the consequences are and the numbers were wilder than I thought. That more than $1.7 billion dollars in child support collected for fathers in 2020 alone was actually seized by the federal government and state governments as a repayment for mothers and children having been on welfare. And it just, you know, welfare is something I know a little bit about, but I’m not an expert in. And as I was reading this, I was like, hoooo, I got to learn more about this, not only because my work on police, but we all know the way that poverty relates to the criminalization of Black people. And I just it it blew my mind that there are even some places and the article goes on to talk about some places where uh the local jurisdictions actually do state take they make money. There’s like revenue generation from recouping child support payments. And what does it mean that we have local state economies, government economies who are built on taking this money that is meant to go service people in poverty and people with kids? And I’ll tell you that the thing that is wildest about this is that the amounts are low anyway. You know, it’s not this is not this is not nobody’s getting $12,000 a month payments from welfare. It’s just not happening. People are getting $300, $400 to raise children with. That’s not a lot of money. And the idea that some of that is being recouped by the government, it truly just blew my mind. So I wanted to bring it back. Van Hollen and Senator Wyden. Uh Van Hollen is my state senator in the great state of Maryland. He introduced a bill called Strengthening Families for Success Act that would have addressed this issue around child support. Um. And unfortunately, it has not gone anywhere. He introduced it in 2020. It’s still sort of hanging around but hasn’t gone anywhere. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, DeRay, thank you for, as usual, bringing us the most uplifting and joyful news of the hour. Um. [laugh] I this is awful. And I just I don’t know why I’m surprised by this, but this always, of course, taking it back to Minnesota like this is a thing that happens in Minnesota all the time with, you know, my cousins included where. They lose their driver’s licenses because their child support payments are late and then they lose their job because they can’t drive to work. It’s just like it just doesn’t make any sense unless, you know, in that quote from President Clinton, which I’m just like appalled by, unless your rationale is that these people are lazy and trying to take advantage of the system, which we know no research to back that up. It’s just been a narrative for for so many decades. But it’s just I mean, and again, it’s just like the cost is the children, right? Because it’s now they’re like in this very precarious situation where, you know, for all sorts of reasons, mothers aren’t having a lot of options. Mothers are also feeling devalued as mothers. And it just impacts it impacts the kids. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah, I think one of my favorite um, “favorite” in quotes, things about the article was that it connected it to be a feminist issue. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mmm. 

 

Myles Johnson: That so many of the laws that we are moving through and the things that we’re experiencing have these deeply patriarchal histories that we’re still that have like morphed and became what they are now. And I think that uh the more we kind of like understand that what we’re experiencing now does have those like either deeply like white supremacist or patriarchal histories, the more we can kind of get people to understand outside of. Because to me, these are this is one of those things that more people who don’t aren’t necessarily influenced by it need to be uh galvanized by it. So me, as a single queer person in New York City, I should be this should be ridiculous to me and I should feel motivated by it, even though I might not feel directly influenced by it. And I think the more we connect it to these other histories that we’ve experienced, that we experience, we see that, oh, this is this is a deeply Black feminist issue. So that’s one thing that I, in quotes, again, “appreciated” about the article. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Um. The other thing that this was very interesting about this that was very interesting to me is it traced the history of the welfare program and this child support recoup thing only began after welfare was extended to women of color. Y’all come on. Like patriarchal, racist, all of the things. In the beginning, welfare was only for white women. It was called a mother’s pension. They wasn’t [indistinct]. You didn’t have to tell who the daddy was. You got the money all this jazz. But as the welfare rolls diversified in the forties, fifties and sixties, you have things like man in the house– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yup. 

 

Kaya Henderson: –mandates where, if any, y’all know anybody on public assistance. You know how this works. If yo, if the mama got a boyfriend, he can’t live in the house because then that compromises the welfare benefits, etc. etc. Even the mindset of recouping money. When white women needed money to support their babies, the government said we should help them. When women of color needed money to support their babies, the government said we should support them and they daddies owe the government back, right? Though that is a completely different mindset. And so it goes on to talk about, you know, perceptions of Black fatherhood and, you know, all of this stuff. And I think that, again, so many of these policy decisions are made from a philosophy and a perspective of racism, sexism, etc., etc.. And I thought that the article did a nice job of pulling that out um because these are things that we don’t usually get a chance to see or think about. [music break]

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. And we will see you next week. Pod Save the People was a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Veronica Simonetti and executive produced by me. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenge and Myles Johnson.