DeRay, Sam, Kaya, and De’Ara dive into recent overlooked news including H.P. Lovecraft’s racism, Tennessee law, mortality rates, and hospital lawsuits. Johnetta Elzie joins again to discuss the national protests. Then, DeRay is joined by Dr. Nzinga Harrison of the “In Recovery” podcast about how companies can become anti-racist without re-traumatizing Black employees.
In Recovery podcast
DeRay [00:00:01] Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People. This week, it’s me, Kaya, De’Ara and Sam, as usual, talking about the underreported stories that have happened in the news. And then we have Netta on to talk about what’s going on ya’ll, with the police and there is entirely too much. And then I sit down with Dr. Nzinga Harrison of a Lemonada Media’s “In Recovery” podcast to discuss mental health during quarantine and anti-racism and corporations.
DeRay [00:00:28] Now, please, especially given the latest news in the latest police shooting in Kenosha. I want you to check out the podcast that we produced alongside Jay Ellis and Lemonada Media called “The Untold Story: Policing.” It talks about some of the structural things that, like you didn’t even know existed that have a huge impact on what’s gone on. And it’s done in a good way. I love it. Episode two made me tear up and I even knew how it was going to end. So please check it out. “The Untold Story: Policing.” Let’s go.
De’Ara [00:01:02] Hello, everyone. Hello, hello, welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People.
De’Ara [00:01:08] I am De’Ara Ballenger @dearabalenger on Instagram and Twitter.
Kaya [00:01:13] I’m Kaya Henderson @hendersonkaya on Twitter.
DeRay [00:01:16] This is DeRey @deray on Twitter. Yeah. And Sam is not with us for the recording because he is on vacation, but he’s on this episode. He just sent in his mail. So there we go.
De’Ara [00:01:26] Well, awesome. So we’re just coming off the DNC and I’m not going to lie. I’m a little fired up. Come on. I am. It took me three days to get there, but.
DeRay [00:01:37] Three days after the DNC to get there?
De’Ara [00:01:39] No. Three, like into the DNC.
DeRay [00:01:42] Okay.
De’Ara [00:01:44] There were a couple of times, I was like am I watching exactly? What is happening?
De’Ara [00:01:48] But the the video they did for our vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, really, it did it for me. It did. It got me excited. It got me excited. Not that I wasn’t excited before. It just wasn’t the type of excitement that was going to lead to anything. However, now I am excited in a way that I’m going to do things. Now we just have to figure out what those things are. Is anyone else excited?
DeRay [00:02:15] I’m excited.
DeRay [00:02:15] You know, I will say it was it got off to a slow start. Putting Michelle at the beginning, I think was hard because she was so great. And then you were like, okay. I watched a whole lot of speeches. So I thought, you know, she was really a highlight I thought that speech was excellent, as she always is. It did feel a little long. It was like there were parts of that DNC that were a little snooze-festy. But I think it served its purpose.
DeRay [00:02:36] I have to remember that, like, I’m not the target audience for the convention. And like, once I got that, then I’m like, okay, cool. I don’t think that the DNC is trying.
De’Ara [00:02:44] But aren’t you the target? Aren’t we the target audience?
DeRay [00:02:47] I don’t know De’Ara. I did not feel like the target audience for the DNC. So no.
Kaya [00:02:52] One of my millennial friends said maybe they were trying to appeal to the moderate people that are your age, Kaya and I was like, what is that about?
DeRay [00:03:03] I don’t think they were trying to. I think they were trying to reach tried and true voters. I don’t know. But I think they probably reached those people really well.
De’Ara [00:03:11] Well, at some moments, too, it was that whole you know, I voted for Trump and now I’m not going to vote for Trump. And I was like, Is that what we’re doing? We’re going after Trump voters now? Because that might not be the best strategy.
DeRay [00:03:22] Yeah. So I thought it did what it did well. And I think that, like, you know, shout out to the tech people, because, that was a logistical feat to pull off three days of Zoom’s essentially is, you know, a lot of us can even do back to back meetings.
DeRay [00:03:37] So they nailed that.
Kaya [00:03:39] I actually thought that was really hard.
Kaya [00:03:41] Having been to the only DNC four years ago, which was an explosion for me. It was like everything.
Kaya [00:03:49] And then sort of seeing this, I felt the challenge of trying to bring the same kind of energy and excitement, virtually. At times it felt a little bit like a telethon. But I thought that some of the speeches were really, really good. I thought they did a good job of helping folks to understand that Biden is the candidate who can bring us together. I thought the Republican speeches were fascinating. Right? That, I think, I don’t know, I’m not a Democratic convention historian, but my guess was that was probably one of the first times that Republicans were speaking at a Democratic convention. And I thought that that said a lot. And I thought, you know, one of the stars of the show, of course, all of the obvious folks Auntie Chelle and my foever President, you know, for sure.
Kaya [00:04:40] But I thought the 13 year old little boy, Brayden, who had a stutter, who Joe connected with, I thought he was a star of the show. I thought they did a really good job of bringing forth Joe’s humanity and his ability to bring us together as a country. And so I think it was a win. I’m excited to see what what the Republicans do this week as the Republican National Convention comes to us straight from the White House. This is gonna be some interesting stuff.
DeRay [00:05:12] The moment that I was sad about it was that I wish Kamala had gotten a crowd, you know, like that montage. Say what you will about her. You know, for the people that are frustrated with her or the people that love her. It’s like, that moment was historic and special like it was. And I wish she had gotten like a crowd of people in front of her to just, like, nail that moment for her. You know, and it was the videos and stuff were great, online. But, but I though a crowd would have been really beautiful.
Kaya [00:05:39] But seeing her in that empty room was just like, oh, it oh.
DeRay [00:05:44] I’m like, oh, is there was there something? The other thing is, you know, I was also sad and they couldn’t control this, but it is that the fact that they had to go first. It’s like, you know, say what you will about Trump is that he understands the spin. And I think that this follow, the RNC coming afterwards is going to be a meme fest. None of us are going to watch it real life, but we are going to see every speech in some capacity because that’s how they will, you know, like the fact that they have the attorney general in Kentucky. There is no way that guy would be on the stage at all if he wasn’t in charge of Breonna Taylor’s case. Right? Like this is about sending a message and they are going to nail it with, like memes and news, and like that is annoying. You know, it’s annoying that they will have that going for their base. I mean, obviously, you won’t affect any of us, but it will affect their base. I also, De’Ara you know this all too well, but we don’t take for granted that he could win because we’ve been here before. And I am increasingly worried about people of color not necessarily buying into Trump, but definitely buying into the rhetoric. Right? And like I’ve had conversations with people where people are like, oh, well, he left some people out of jail, like he’s going to have Alice Johnson speak, like I think she’s speaking at something on the campaign or something soon. You know, she’s a black woman that, like Kim, got him a pardon. And like I think that he is going to, for some people, seem not as bad at the end of this and that because I think that, you know, I look at Facebook, it is some some black people, like, what are you all doing?
DeRay [00:07:11] So that makes you nervous. And I think the Dems, I think we just I cannot take that for granted and not believe like he can do it, you know?
Kaya [00:07:17] Get your cousins ya’ll.
DeRay [00:07:19] I will say haha that Candace Owens.
Kaya [00:07:21] Is not.
DeRay [00:07:21] Wasn’t invited to speak.
De’Ara [00:07:24] Oh she wasn’t.
Kaya [00:07:25] No.
Kaya [00:07:26] And Twitter is having a fest about it.
DeRay [00:07:28] And that Diamond and Silk. RIght? Ain’t that their names? Diamond and Silk?
Kaya [00:07:30] Oh yes.
DeRay [00:07:32] So they got snubbed on Fox. It’s like what did, these people are racist. They always were using you. In the moment you needed something from them. They let you know, “No thanks.”
De’Ara [00:07:42] I want to move on to my news for the week, which is a Vox piece on a new show that I’m gonna be obsessed with. I am obsessed with already, called Lovecraft Country. It’s produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams. The best part about it is that the showrunner and writer behind it is a sister named Misha Green, who also was a show runner and creator of The Underground, which I don’t know if you’ll watched it came out a few years ago. Yes, it’s incredible.
Kaya [00:08:09] Oh my gosh, that was so good.
De’Ara [00:08:11] I’m obsessed. So this article goes really deep into the background and the historical context around a man named H.P. Lovecraft. And so you will have to forgive me, like I am new to horror sci fi. I know it’s a whole genre that people are really into. I’m a newbie, so bear with me also, like, let’s keep this conversation going, because I think this is gonna be one of the best things on TV. And I think they’re going to be so many things that, you know, not having a context, obviously, of H.P. Lovecraft or other kind of horror legends, I think there are a lot of things that someone like me would miss. Anyway. So H.P. Lovecraft ultimately was a writer who really kind of laid down a lot of the foundational work around what a horror story could be. Part of that, though, was a really deep racist and xenophobic approach when it came to development of his stories. Who the bad people are, bad monsters were, were very demonstrative of his racism, essentially. But you can read all about that. What I want to focus on is the show, which has a predominate black cast. The show was actually premised off of a book that was written in 2016 by a guy named Matt Ruff. And so what he did is he kind of took the principles, the writing principles, the moral principles of H.P. Lovecraft and basically turned it on its head, made it a story about two black families, actually, an intersectional story about them. And it’s essentially, the story goes and you guys to just watch it. But it’s them going through racist towns in the 1950s. So what ends up happening, though, is that you realize reality for black people is actually that’s the horror part. And the monsters are actually kind of less horrific. And that’s why I found that to be very, very interesting. And I’m not going to give the spoilers away because, again, I want you all to watch it. But I thought this show is right on time and I think it’s right on time because I think culturally we’re at a place now where we’ve had representation. We’ve had Barack Obama as president. So I think in terms of us being in spaces and places, this is something that we’re used to. I think, though, now us kind of reimagining or really having an expansive imagination, what we can be, what black people can be. I think this show does a lot of that and inspires a lot of that. I just, I really can’t wait to see where it goes. It does so many things that breaks down traditional Hollywood storytelling. It really creates a different type of narrative for everybody, but in particular black folks. And so you’ll see it throughout. There are black heroes. There’s a black woman hero in this. The first thing you see is a black man reading a book. Profound. So I think. There are a lot of the things that we don’t typically see in storytelling about us, right? And we’d pretty good don’t see us in this genre. And obviously, Jordan Peele has really been the one to kind of spearhead this whole project recently. I can’t wait for us to continue to talk about it. I found it to be just a beautiful, interesting, multi-dimensional story. It’s a horror story, but it’s also just about, you know, the love and the community of a black family.
DeRay [00:11:27] One of things that I’m interested in with Lovecraft Country is a way that at least online, it has reignited a conversation about sundown towns and that there have been so many peoples who for the first time are like, wow I didn’t know, sundown towns where a thing I didn’t understand these things. I didn’t realize how prevalent they were. And, you know, it’s interesting. There’s sort of one big book about “Sundown Towns” thats out. It is called “Sundown Towns A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.” And what he finds is that Illinois had one of the highest numbers of sundown towns. But there aren’t good records for these towns. And a sundown town is a town where it looks like it might be equitable and safe. But when the sun went down, black people were essentially forced in their homes that if they went outside, it was like the threat of death or other harm. And this was not an aberration. This was a norm all across the country. And I was interested to see the conversation that popped up on where people were like, oh, OK. I didn’t even know that this looked like this. I didn’t know that, like, not only for residents, but even for people in hotels or like you couldn’t go to restaurants. Like, there’s a whole other way that Jim Crow sort of reared its head, that if you had not been around one of these towns or lived in what or understood them. But the second thing, I’m always interested in how these historical conversations bring things that our grandparents understood as realities into the public conversation again. And I think that’s always interesting. So, like I think about my great grandmother, I think my grandmother, my grandparents, that whole generation that, like, lived through this. And it was sort of something they passed. And like, we didn’t talk about this growing up because you’re like, I don’t know. They were like, we survived it. And it comes back in this way. And I am interested in how it bridges a gap between generations to be like wow we survived this thing and now it is making it into popular culture. So I’m always interested in the way that looks and like Lovecraft Country does that in this moment.
Kaya [00:13:14] My news is about a new study out of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where they looked at one point eight million black and white children born in Florida between 1992 and 2015. And what they found was that black newborns are three times more likely to die in the hospital than white newborns when they are cared for by white physicians. Let me say that again. Black newborns three times more likely die in the hospital than white newborns when they are cared for by white physicians. Conversely, disparity drops significantly with black doctors, but black newborns are still more likely than white newborns to die. And this is a really to me, a very stunning statistic. I think there is a lot that we continue to talk about, the health disparities, the racial disparities in childbearing and that black infants have two point three times the mortality rate of white infants. But what this study shows is that black physicians effectively outperform their white colleagues when caring for black newborns. Which tells me if I was a black pregnant lady right now, I would insist that my doctor was a black doctor because my baby has a better chance of survival. Yet and still only eleven percent of OBGYN’s are black. Only five percent of doctors broadly are black. So we have a huge problem. Black newborns are two times more likely to die than white newborns. Black women are three times as likely to die in childbirth as white women. This is significant, but what’s also significant is even in the data collection, systemic racism exists. So as they were looking at these childbirths, they had the race of the children and the mothers, but they didn’t have the race collected for the doctors. And so it became very difficult to try to suss out what was going on. And in fact, to complete the study, what they had to do was create a team of volunteers who went through and found publicly available pictures of the doctors to be able to identify the doctors race to connect them to the mortality rates. So, like, we’re not even collecting the right data that allows us to make informed decisions.
Kaya [00:15:48] It would be super easy when doctors are taking their board exams or registering in whatever county it is that they are working to include their race. But we don’t collect that data. And so even to pull this study off volunteers had to go back and figure out what the doctors races were. Systemic racism, you know, not believing black women. Many folks followed the Serena Williams story about the doctors not believing her in childbirth. And it almost cost her her life. Conscious and unconscious bias by physicians like the systemic racism in black maternal health is rampant and it’s costing mothers and their babies their lives. And so to me, this makes the case for why we have to do much more significant recruitment and development of black doctors because it would literally save black lives. And also, while we have to do significant training of white doctors to help them to better support the patients of color that they serve.
DeRay [00:16:55] I was interested in where do black doctors come from? And what I found is that HBCU’s are one of the best places. So all the HBCU’s represent only three percent of all degree granting institutions in the United States, they represented 17 percent of the colleges supplying the most black applicants to medical school in 2013. And Xavier and Howard are the two top producers of black graduates in medical schools. Their students account for 92 of the nation’s African-American graduating medical students, more than the top four predominantly white institutions that produce large numbers of African-American medical school graduates combined. So says this study. And it was like really interesting to think about that. And I also looked up, so that study is called “HBCU’s In the Production of Doctors.” It is 2017 published in the AIMS Public Health Journal. But I also looked at 2020. U.S. News and World Report reported that 70 medical schools with the most African-Americans, Howard University, 65 percent of the student body is African-American. And on this list, the second highest is East Carolina University with 15 percent. University of Chicago with 15 percent. Emory with 14. Like Howard is so far and above the top producer of black doctors. Then I started to think about, like, what are they doing better? Right? Like, it can’t just be recruitment. Recruitment is probably a big part of it. But one of the things that the study noted is that when they looked at Howard and Maharry, for instance, is that they noted a set of interventions that they just put in place from jump. So having a core curriculum for premed students instead of course selection, having tutors for all first year and second year students, and beginning MCAT preparations during the first semester of freshman year to prepare people to get to medical school. And like I hadn’t even thought of that. Right? That like, what does that look like when, you know, just like off jump that kids of color are likely coming to college with less access to resources. So whether you call that preparation or not. But like, there is a gap with regard to the resources that people get. So how do you prepare them on the front end, so when they apply to medical school, they are like more likely to succeed, given that the quality of their public school might have been low. And it just reminded me of most of the things that we talk on, if not all the things we talk about the podcast. There are solutions. The solutions only work when they are at scale and they are almost always structural. So whether it is about doctors in this case, whether it’s about boating, whether it’s about the police, like there are structural solutions that we gotta put in place. And some people somewhere, have often figured it out. The question is, how do we scale it? So my news is about something I literally didn’t know was happening. I saw this and was like I’d miss this In the news, is that hospitals are suing patients who cannot pay for their coronavirus care. I saw this I thought it was a hoax. It’s in Axios. And what they note is that almost all of the roughly two dozen community health system hospitals in Florida, Texas and Arizona have sued patients since the pandemic began. And they are suing patients because they have had seemingly expensive health care costs due to coronavirus. And you think about this moment, it’s like, you know, it’s a pandemic. Unemployment’s at an all time high. People have to pay rent. People have to pay their mortgage. So they did a random sampling of the lawsuits and it showed that the hospitals have sued people for bills ranging from a thousand dollars to the highest being almost one hundred twenty six thousand dollars. They know one case for a woman named Blaire Smiley. This is the third time she’s been sued by the hospital. It made me think a couple things. One, is that it reminded me that the effect of the pandemic will be longer lasting than people think. That we will get over this hurdle of like, can we go outside again. And then the financial strain and the research strain of this will linger with people will be great. Also, you’ve probably seen the articles about the people who have long-term lung damage, for instance, because of Coronavirus, that like that the cost of this moment seems to be greater than people are understanding. And like I say that as somebody who had coronavirus, my smell and taste is fully back now. I had dinner last night. It was like, oh, I tasted this like flavor has not tasted like this since April, which is very powerful. But again, I just didn’t even know. I just assumed that there might be some aid for hospitals given the trillion dollar package that passed. And I thought the hospitals are suing people is like it really just blew it truly blew my mind.
Kaya [00:21:30] What was heartbreaking to me about this article where the personal stories about why these people can’t pay. Right? In Fort Worth, Texas, Richard Pyper, who’s being sued for thirty five thousand dollars, he said, I can’t pay this. When he went into the hospital, he told the people that he didn’t have insurance. He brings home a very modest salary. He’s helping his two daughters with his grandkids. And he said he was in hospital for four to five days and he kept saying, can I get out of here, please? Like I can’t afford this. Can I be discharged? And can I get some help with this? And he was given no option. And then they turned around and sued him. Right? Or even Blaire Smiley, who you who you mentioned earlier, her situation is that she works at a funeral home. And so her hours are being cut back because in the pandemic, you just can’t have funerals. Right? And so she’s tried to figure out her medical bills and this like lack of humanity at this particular moment that just continues to manifest itself in ways after ways, after ways is particularly jarring to me. Besides the long term effects that we’re going to continue to see, I mean, this fall, we’re going to see people get laid off in ways that we never expected. Yes, there are all kinds of long-term lung issues, but there are people who now have brain lesions after having Covid and all kinds of other things.
Kaya [00:22:58] This disease, this virus continues to present itself in new ways and with new consequences that we have not even imagined. And to have institutions going after regular old little people for medical bills for trying to be treated, you could imagine that if these people hadn’t gotten treated, we’d be holding them in contempt for willfully spreading the Coronavirus. You just can’t win for losing when you’re poor and you don’t have access to health care.
De’Ara [00:23:30] So with this one, my vetting skills just automatically kicked in because I was like, who is the CEO of these hospitals? Let’s look them up in SEC, see where their contributions are. Then take it Open Secrets. Long story short.
De’Ara [00:23:43] Who’s holding these people accountable? And also, how are politicians involved in working in concert with some of these things that are happening. Right? Because this hospital is a private hospital. They also have a PAC. They’re given to both Republicans and Democrats. So I think when we start to think about what is the solution and how can we start to hold people accountable, it is really looking at like how tied our hospital system is to government, you know, and obviously for the wrong reasons.
De’Ara [00:24:11] So the PAC in this particular instance is the Federation of American Hospitals. So they’ve given four hundred and forty thousand dollars to federal candidates. Forty one percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans. What’s going on there. Anyway, I’m just saying, let’s like, like when we find these things, like let’s do a little bit of digging and then see who our congressional members are and give them a call and say, listen, there are people that are suffering right now and then being sued for trying to receive care.
Sam [00:24:40] Hey, it’s Sam. My news is about Tennessee, where this past week the Republican governor signed legislation passed by a Republican controlled legislature that includes stiff penalties, including prison time against protesters, specifically targeting protesters who have protested over the past several months demanding justice for victims of police violence. And so what is, what’s included in this bill? So it it includes, first off, up to six years of prison time for, quote, illegally camping on state property, which specifically targets protests that have camped out and occupied areas near the state capital in Tennessee and threatens them not only with up to six years of prison time, but also in Tennessee when you are convicted of a felony and served prison time. You also lose your right to vote. So it threatens protesters with taking away their rights to vote and prison time just for the act of protesting on state property. Similarly, the legislation includes stiff penalties for assaults on law enforcement, includes stiff penalties for blocking a highway in the act of protest and a range of other things. Now, this is the latest in a series of laws that have been signed, particularly in red states, in reaction to the protests. So while we’re seeing some states that are Democratic controlled in places like Colorado and Connecticut begin to pass legislation that increases police accountability ends qualified immunity and does a number of other things that are positive. What we’re seeing in red states is, in many cases, the opposite reaction, where Republicans in places like Georgia have recently passed legislation that is has been deemed a police officer bill of rights law in the context of the protests. And now Tennessee passing this legislation, which is unconstitutional, which violates the First Amendment, but nevertheless has been signed into law in Tennessee as a direct reaction to the protests, reinforcing and doubling down on police violence and shielding law enforcement at the public’s expense.
DeRay [00:26:56] Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save The People’s coming.
DeRay [00:26:59] “The Michelle Obama” podcast is out now on Spotify, and the series brings listeners inside the former first lady’s most candid and personal conversations, showing us what’s possible when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to open up and a focus on what matters most.
Kaya [00:27:11] Joining the former first lady is an array of special guests, including My Forever President Barack Obama, the first family, Marian and Craig Robinson, Conan O’Brien, Valerie Jarrett, Michele Norris and Dr. Sharon Malone.
DeRay [00:27:25] Episodes focus on the relationships that shape us from siblings and close friends to partners, parents and mentors, to our relationship with ourselves and our health.
DeRay [00:27:32] Listen free Spotify.com/MichelleObama. Pod Save the People is brought to you by HBO.
Kaya [00:27:37] Watch the show that everybody has been talking about, including De’Ara, from Misha Green and J.J. Abrams comes, HBO is daring new series Lovecraft Country. This genre bending drama follows a young man named Atticus who receives a strange letter from his missing father, inviting him to Lovecraft Country. His search and rescue mission turns into a struggle to survive as he encounters the twin terrors of 1950s Jim Crow, America and other worldly monsters. Along the way, he forges his own path to reclaim his power and find his true self.
DeRay [00:28:12] We were just talking about this. Lovecraft Country explores the themes of family, race and history, taking viewers to unexpected new places in time or space in each episode. And it’s a cast we love, starring Jonathan Majors Jurnee Smollett, Courtney B Vance and Michael Kenneth williams. Lovecraft Country airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. on HBO and stream it on HBO MAX.
Kaya [00:28:30] Are you interested in diving deeper? I can’t wait to watch this. Be sure to listen to the Lovecraft Country Companion podcast hosted by Shannon Houston and Ashley C. Ford. Available on all major podcast platforms,.
DeRay [00:28:44] Pod Save the People is brought to you by Brooklinen.
DeRay [00:28:46] And let me tell you, you know, my morning routine is one where I get out. I really love cereal. I try to eat some cereal. I try to do some sit ups because that is the only consistent thing I can do in the apartment without somebody yelling at me. And then I try and take a minute just to, like, be still before the day gets off. But I wish I had a more consistent routine.
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DeRay [00:30:36] Netta, Netta, Netta. Let us know what’s going on with the current state of the protest and what’s happening around policing.
Netta [00:30:43] Hey, what’s up ya’ll. It’s Netta. And thanks so much for tuning back in. First, everybody. I had a wisdom tooth removed five days ago and listen. Just one. And you’d really think my whole world was falling apart. The constant underlying pain. Even right now, as I’m talking, it is very real and it’s noticeable. So if you hear me and I sound a little different, that’s why. Second, I was thinking that maybe it was time to end my portion of the podcast because I’ve said so much so far and maybe that’s enough. But also, the introvert in me is always looking for the nearest exit. Trust me. But the damn police keep killing black people, which keeps sparking protest. Which brings me right back to ya’ll, and our conversations about what’s going on in our country. “No justice. No peace” is more than just a protest chant. Until we’re free of police violence, until we no longer have to be introduced to victims of police violence via Twitter hashtag. As long as people are still protesting in the streets, I’m going to keep coming through your speakers for these fireside chats. You all may be exhausted and tired of hearing us talk about this.
Netta [00:31:56] But trust me, living this reality is even more exhausting. There have been some truly barbaric displays of police brutality caught on video and what happened Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a strong contender for the most appalling. Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha Police Department officers during a domestic disturbance call. Blake, who was unarmed, was shot at close range in front of his three children while attempting to get into his vehicle. It’s important to note that Blake was not the subject of the call or any investigation. And according to witnesses, was trying to break up a fight between two women. Blake is thankfully alive and expected to make a full recovery. But what came after the shooting has become an all too familiar set of circumstances. Things got tense as night fell. Protesters took to the streets. Windows were broken. Cars were set on fire. And citizens clashed with police. I’m not typically one to tell people how to protest. However, I am always both annoyed and perplexed at this intense fixation of black, nonviolent dissent as the most pure and righteous form of expressing displeasure. While I stand in awe of the ancestors who sacrificed their bodies in service of black liberation, I have not and will never shame anyone who responds to violent oppression in kind. And quite frankly, ya’ll, the hand-wringing and finger wagging is tiresome and is complete B.S.. We mourn the death of people until a Target or a QuikTrip burns down. Critics will ask, what good does this do? And I would ask. What good does it do for police to shoot unarmed people, to terrorize entire communities? Why do angry civilians always have to stand down while armed officers do not? As angry as I am about this shooting, I’m also hopeful about some of the things that I see that are changing. Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers put out a statement with his condolences within hours of the shooting and acknowledged that this type of police violence happens too often. He said, “While we do not have all the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first black man or a person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals and law enforcement in our state or our country.” A special legislative session aimed at curbing police violence was announced by the governor on Monday, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice will be conducting the investigation. We’ve come a ways from the days when the police departments would investigate themselves before concluding that they’ve done nothing wrong. We are nowhere close to where we need to be, but we’re getting there. And I’m thankful Jacob Blake will be able to see justice done in his name. Unfortunately, Kenosha, Wisconsin, wasn’t the only place marred by police violence over the weekend. A peaceful vigil Saturday for a black man killed by Lafayette, Louisiana, police the night before turned into a march and ended hours later in confrontation with sheriff’s deputies in riot gear. Once again, people protesting police violence are met with more police violence. No matter how one feels about police, abolition or police reform, there should be a unifying principle that this problem is unique to America out of control and needs to be taken care of yesterday. And finally, as the national spotlight continues to be placed on Breonna Taylor’s murder in Louisville, I have a few words about the conflicts emerging between local organizers and nationally known organizers and activists. I’d like to talk about what I see is the role of national organizers. Those of us who have large platforms have a responsibility. Ultimately, all these battles are local and will remain local, after the cameras turn off, the trending topics change and we fight new battles. We have a responsibility to work with organizers who have been on the ground in these cities for years to get their input, to get their feedback and their criticism about our amplification and involvement. I myself prefer direct conversations and direct conflicts. Shocking. Having a national platform means watching where and how you step, is the price of visibility.
Netta [00:36:24] And when these criticisms come, and they will come, we can’t tell people to shut the fuck up, or kiss my butt.
Netta [00:36:31] Nor can we use family approval as a shield for things that look and feel shady. Call outs become tactics of a last resort when call ins fail. In the days when we could just fly in and pull up. I think about time I spent in Baton Rouge sitting in a cafe on periscope through Twitter, letting this young black organizer tell her story about what living in Louisiana was like at the time and how Alton Sterling’s death affected her life. I let my audience hear directly from her instead of me telling her story for her. This distinction matters. Look, this shit is not easy. But one thing I know about the police. Police unions and fraternal orders, they are all organized and they share resources. I intend to do the same for me and mine. I hope fellow organizers with platforms choose to do the same. Thanks so much for tuning in. Check ya’ll next week. Bye.
DeRay [00:37:30] Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save The People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come.
Kaya [00:37:34] Today’s episode of Pod Saved the People is brought to you by season two of “Going Through It, a MailChimp original podcast hosted by Tracy Clayton. Going through it features 14 notable black women, including Congresswoman Omar, Lena Waithe, Angela Davis and more, discussing a pivotal moment when they decided it was time to make a change and turn things around.
DeRay [00:37:55] To check out going through it.
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Kaya [00:39:29] “Nice White Parents” reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, you may know her from”This American Life” started looking into this one school in her neighborhood after her kids became school age in New York City. Chana examines this public middle school traditionally filled with black and brown students after a number of white families arrive and then not satisfied, she fully understood what she was seeing, she went all the way back to the founding of the school in the 1960s and then up to the present day again. Eventually she realized she could put a name to what was getting in the way of making the school better all these years. White parents. Y’al,. I’m listening to this every single week. I’m totally obsessed. Totally similar to my experience in D.C. public schools and in schools all across the country. Get with it, Nice White Parents.
DeRay [00:40:18] You know, it’s, Kaya raves about this podcast ya’ll, Nice White Parents is fascinating and deeply relevant. It’s made by Serial Productions, a New York Times company, the same people who made the hit podcasts Serial and S-Town. It’s available wherever you get your podcast. A new episode comes out every Thursday.
Dulce [00:40:33] Hello, friends, I’m Dulce Sloan and welcome to “That Blackass Show”.
Dulce [00:40:39] This is a podcast celebrating the black TV shows, movies, plays and all types of black content that have and continue to shape the world. In the studio with me today, Roy Wood Jr. Everybody.
Roy [00:40:50] Hello. There is no “Insecure”.
Roy [00:40:51] Without “Girlfriends”.
Dulce [00:40:53] “Friends” was.
Roy [00:40:53] Stolen.
Dulce [00:40:53] Stole it, on “Living Single”.
Roy [00:40:55] I’ll argue that I have no facts.
Dulce [00:40:56] Comedian and actress,
Dulce [00:40:58] Thea Vidale.
Thea [00:41:00] “Thea” Was the only show that was based on my philosophy of raising children.
Dulce [00:41:05] Today’s guest here with me is Derek Gaines.
Derek [00:41:08] Yeah, Pam, Cole, Tommy, Gina and Martin, the greatest five people on screen I’ve ever seen.
Dulce [00:41:13] Mister Willie Hunter.
Willie [00:41:15] Los Angeles or the entertainment business as a whole is racist as fuck.
Dulce [00:41:23] So check out “That Blackass Show” on Starburns audio. And also, like and subscribe on all media platforms you get your podcasts.
DeRay [00:41:35] Today, I’m chatting with Dr. Nzinga Harrison, host of the show “In Recovery” from Lemonada Media. She and I talk about what it means to overcome mental health issues during a pandemic, how to deal with what’s happening with regard to the police and how companies can become anti-racist without re traumatizing black employees. Here we go. Doctor in Nzinga Harrison, thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save The People.
Dr. Harrison [00:41:56] Thank you, DeRay. Glad to be back.
DeRay [00:41:58] Glad to be back. So you’ve been here before and because you’re our resident, our resident expert. So I want to talk about a couple of things.
DeRay [00:42:06] One is, can you talk about the relationship between racism that black people experience in their lives and people of color potentially like as a broader category in the trauma that that leads to? Like, do we have any is any data about racism as sort of chronic trauma or is that just like sort of the language he will use? But that’s not actually how we should talk about it medically or clinically.
Dr. Harrison [00:42:30] Yeah, that’s the language that people use and it’s the way that we should talk about it medically and clinically. So, yes, there is data. There’s actually a very robust set of medical data that shows the impact of racism on the health of black populations.
Dr. Harrison [00:42:46] There’s a specific term that’s called “weathering” and it comes about physiologically. So that’s kind of the word we use for physical impacts and it comes about psychologically as well. And so what we know is under stress the physiological response that a person’s body has, when I talk about stress, I’m talking about the chronic trauma of pervasive, invasive, everyday interactions with racism, microaggression, macro aggression, explicit bias, implicit bias, what we know is that that puts black folks in a permanent ongoing state of fight or flight. And so, DeRay, you know, when something startles you or when something threatens you and you get that flight or fight signal your heart rate races, your blood pressure goes up, your muscles tense up, people can feel those effects. The other effects that people don’t realize is that actually your stress hormones go up. They cause your blood sugar to go up. They cause your blood vessels to narrow. And so when you’re in this constant state of fight or flight because of pervasive daily interactions with racism and the studies show that when you control for poverty, when you control for gender, when you control for all of those other factors, the singular standing factor, ,racism, actually lead to increased chronic medical illness, premature death for black people, increased rates of diabetes, increased death from strokes, increased deaths from heart attacks, increased heart disease, increased depression, increased psychological distress, increased substance use disorders. All of that can specifically be tied back to racism and this weathering effect. So, yes, the data is there and a chronic trauma is the right clinical term to use.
DeRay [00:44:44] Got it. The other thing I want to talk to you about is I saw a recent CDC study that showed that the rate of suicidal ideation was historically high post pandemic. And I wanted to know, how do we make sense of that? What, what does that mean? What does that tell us? Is it that everybody needs a therapist? Like, what do we. Are there structural things we can do to sort of lessen the rate of suicidal ideation, especially because we know that these things hit people of color hardest when we look at the data?
Dr. Harrison [00:45:12] So you’re right. We were at historic highs even before Covid came and now Covid came. And the pressure that Covid is putting on people from a stress perspective, depression, anxiety, lost jobs, isolation and uncertainty, is driving that risk for suicide even more. You know, I think everybody needs a therapist, the answer to is, yes, please, everyone, get yourself a therapist. But to your point, even before that, there are structural things that we could be doing. And so if you look at the basic psychological needs of a human being, it’s to be respected, cared for, accepted. We have so much stigma and so much judgment and so much discrimination and so much marginalization around so many factors in this country. And each and every one of those is feeding the suicide crisis that we have. And so poverty, basic needs not met. People who live in poverty are undervalued by society. We literally don’t care if you live or if you die. LGBTQ folks, black folks, immigrants, women. I mean, you look at all of the ways that we marginalize people and all of those identity threats, all of those experiences with marginalization, discrimination, and not having that basic need of being valued, respected, cared for, accepted, drive up the suicide rate. And so if we want to look structurally and fundamentally at what we can do, it’s trying to minimize the adverse childhood experiences that people have to have early in their lives, trying to minimize experiences with racism and discrimination and marginalization and oppression, trying to minimize poverty, trying to really value every single person in this society. And if we started to do that, then we would have less distress and we would have less suicidal thinking. And that’s the psychological part of it. There’s biological in terms of the way we live, which we could get into also. But that would be a start.
DeRay [00:47:28] And what have you seen since that protest and the death of George Floyd? It seems like there’s been a renewed conversation about race and justice in the country, but that also often comes of people being more stressed about the systemic racism as it manifests across the country. How do you make sense of how these moments in history sort of reshape the mental health of society?
Dr. Harrison [00:47:50] Yeah, that’s exactly right. And so I actually wrote a Medium article on this because the renewed vigor around social injustice has definitely had both positive and negative impacts. And so what we saw is like a lot of corporations and a lot of companies actually on TV. Right. Like telling the stories of black experiences and putting images and videos that are traumatizing. As black folks, we see ourselves in those images. And, you know, the studies actually show that in a state where a black person was killed by police, black people experience more days of poor mental health. And that effect doesn’t persist for other races. It’s because you can see yourself in the violence that’s happening. That acute trauma, when these events happen, lays on top of the chronic trauma of the daily experience with racism. And so whereas there’s a good intent with all of the energy and the activism and the activity that’s happening in response to George Foy being killed and Breonna Taylor being murdered and the countless other names that I could say the intent is good. But as black folks, that actually is very stressful because we’re being triggered constantly, constantly. There’s like nowhere to go for reprieve from this. And so this article that I wrote is actually part of the learnings that we did at Eleanor Health, I’m chief medical officer and co-founder of Eleanor Health. We do addiction treatment in North Carolina and New Jersey, and we were like other companies just moving so fast. We put out a statement and we held, you know, an all company meeting. We were forming our Black Lives Matter Committee. And it felt good, so we thought, to be doing something. And what we didn’t recognize is that we were traumatizing our black employees. And I mean, that’s interesting because clearly I’m like, you know, Dr. Black Woman at the executive level and my team members and the rest of the company were having a different experience, that was like, this is not a today fix. This is not a sprint. This is a long game. I am in the midst of a fight or flight. I have been acutely traumatized. I need some time. Let my emotions come down. Don’t let me have to come to work to deal with this so actively and proactively every day. And we realized we needed to take a step back and be sensitive to the emotion. No, overload that comes with these types of experiences. And so I wrote that article to try to just say to all of these other companies and all of our allies that we know your intentions are good. I heard from so many people that they were being traumatized at work by this same kind of fast moving, jumped straight into action, without allowing time for those emotions of the acute trauma to come down.
DeRay [00:50:56] Have you seen a place do this really well? Like, I know you just talked about your workplace.
Dr. Harrison [00:51:01] Well, I mean, I think we did it really well.
Dr. Harrison [00:51:05] I think we did it really well only after making that mistake, though.
Dr. Harrison [00:51:09] And so I would say, no, I haven’t seen a place do this really well, because if you take a look and the people that I was hearing from were from different sectors and different jobs and all of it was that this is moving too fast. This is too intense. Too much is happening at once. It feels like we’re racing to a finish line when there is no finish line in sight for this. I think all of us were making a collective error. Those companies who are now doing it well are the companies that had a culture where their employees could speak up and say this is injuring us. And where they had a culture where they could hear that and take a step back. So obviously, I think we’re doing a good job at Eleanor Health. We just formed our Black Lives Matter Committee. And the reaction to that is, you’re behind the ball. It took you too long. But what we did before that was step back and just form Black Eleanor, which is literally just a weekly group for black people to just get together and be together in a safe space, talking about whatever, dealing with emotions. And we did that for five to six weeks. And then we, Black Eleanor, appointed the leadership for the Black Lives Matter Committee to form that structural process for how to move anti-racism forward in the company. And so I think the companies who are doing well are, one, creating that space and then two empowering those voices to be the leaders of the movement without putting all the work on the backs of black folks. It’s a difficult balance.
DeRay [00:52:44] That makes sense.
DeRay [00:52:44] Can you. One of the things I want to ask you, too, is what is your advice for people who don’t have access to their best today and want to focus on their mental health? Like, what do you what do we say?
Dr. Harrison [00:52:54] It’s hard. And so there are a lot of reasons why people don’t have access to it therapies. So sorry, I know you’re like, you can come on here and plug all your stuff. We literally just did a episode on this on “In Recovery” podcast. It’s called “Therapy One on One.” And we had the president elect for Georgia Psychological Association to talk through the barriers. The first thing is that there are so many free resources that you can access. And in fact, as a result of Covid and George Floyd, at Eleanor Health, we launched free online support groups. And we have one specifically for black, indigenous, and people of color. So that is a free online BIPOC support group that you can join. We’re not the only ones doing that. And so literally just Google. I think the first step is recognizing that in this current environment, there is not anyone who could not benefit from support. And so even if you’re not ready to take the steps to get your own individual therapist or you don’t have insurance or you can’t afford it, or you feel like there isn’t time, just carve out 45 minutes and go to an online group and just try it out, because it’s amazing the space that it can create.
DeRay [00:54:12] One of the last things I want to ask you is I’m curious and this is like podcast family to a podcast family. What have you learned since becoming a podcast host? Like, how has that, you know, your, you have conversations with people for a living. This is like your job.
Dr. Harrison [00:54:26] Yeah.
DeRay [00:54:26] It was your job before you became a podcast host. But all of a sudden you were talking to people in public in a way that is just very different. What has that been like?
Dr. Harrison [00:54:36] So it has been such an amazing and steep learning curve. And one, before I became a podcast host, I was not a podcast listener. And so I realized how much I have been missing out on. And so I started listening to a lot of podcasts, you know, to try to get my skill set up so that I can actually be helpful to people. And I think it really has just reinforced for me how on paper it can look like people are having the same experience. But then when you actually talk to them and they open up and share with you on tape, that experience is somehow so individual to that person and different from anyone, what anyone else has experienced. And also, at the same time, so many other people can see themselves in that story. And when people can see themselves in someone else’s story, that creates health, you know, it creates connections and it brings people together. And I think that drives change. And I’m gonna lead that straight into, because the current podcast that I’m listening to is your new podcast on policing.
DeRay [00:55:46] Yes.
Dr. Harrison [00:55:47] Listen, the number of emotions that I am going through on each one of these episodes, I’m actually on my second. I just started listening yesterday. I’m like taking notes. It is like galvanizing me and I. I work at the intersection of criminal justice and health. And I’m like, I’m learning so much. I you know, I see myself in that experience and I’m having that fight or flight reaction. And my heart is racing and it’s like motivated me to do more. And so I probably didn’t have a concept of how powerful podcasts can be until I joined the Lemonada family. And now I know.
DeRay [00:56:27] That’s dope.
DeRay [00:56:28] Well, I know I asked you this last time, but I’ll ask it again. Is there a piece of advice that you’ve gotten over the years that stuck with you.
Dr. Harrison [00:56:35] Probably my dad raised me with this piece of advice and it’s come a hundred million ways 100 times over. And so the latest that I’ll quote is Audre Lord. And it’s about raising your voice. So it says, We’re afraid that if we raise our voices, they won’t listen or things won’t change. I’m paraphrasing, but when we don’t raise our voices, we’re still afraid. So it’s better to just raise your voice. And so that’s the piece of advice that I have. And I feel like that’s what you’re doing with this policing podcast. One of the points that really got me was that these different systems keep things obscure because then we feel like we can’t understand it enough to raise our voices. And it’s like, start with raising your voice by asking a question and start peeling back the obscurity. There’s a very powerful way to make change. So my words of wisdom are raise your voice even when you’re afraid. Just do it.
DeRay [00:57:33] Boom. And let everybody know where they can find your podcast.
Dr. Harrison [00:57:36] Thank you very much. So, yes. The podcast is “In Recovery” by Lemonada Media. Wherever you get your podcasts, you can find it. And we’re question and answer about all things addiction, even things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, like our episode on racism. So find us “In Recovery” wherever you get your podcast and send us your questions.
DeRay [00:58:01] 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 podcasts, whether it’s Apple podcasts somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week.