Let the Good Be Good | Crooked Media
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February 03, 2023
Pod Save The People
Let the Good Be Good

In This Episode

DeRay, De’Ara, Kaya, and Myles cover the underreported news of the week— including a young Black budding scientist honored by Yale University, the IRS racist auditing practices, disproportionate mortality rates amongst Black and white mothers, and contrasting thoughts on the promise of Pyer Moss.  Pod Save the People launch their Blackest Book Club reading list in collaboration with Reconstruction and Campaign Zero. Download now!

News:

Kaya https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2023/02/02/irs-more-likely-to-audit-black-americans-taxes-study-finds.html
De’Ara https://www.npr.org/2023/02/03/1154049233/yale-honors-9-year-old-black-girl-neighbor-reported-police-lanternfly
DeRay https://www.fatherly.com/health/wealthiest-black-moms-more-likely-die-childbirth-than-poorest-white-moms-study
Myles https://www.thecut.com/article/pyer-moss-kerby-jean-raymond-designer.html

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. And welcome to Pod Save the People, on this episode. It is me, De’Ara, Myles and Kaya talking about the news that you don’t know from the past week. The underreported news with regard to race, justice, and equity. And it is Black History Month. Happy Black History Month. [cheering] We talk about a study that uncovers IRS racist auditing practices. As we talk about the mortality rate amongst Black mothers. We talk about a lot of stuff on this conversation this week, and we’re happy you’re here and we’re excited to finally launch our Blackest Book club reading list in collaboration with Reconstruction and Campaign Zero, just in time for Black History Month, we’ve explored so many books and authors together on the pod. It’s great for us to finally be able to curate our own Pod Save the People book list. Go check out our blackest book club reading list at info.reconstruction.us/BlackestBookClub. [correction: Info.Reconstruction.us/Blackest-Book-Club] This week we highlight the book, The Hard Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life by Chloe Wade. And my advice for this week is let let good things be good. You don’t know how it’s going to end. You don’t know what the directory is, but we’re in a good moment. Let the good things be good. I’ve had to tell myself that recently. Let the good things be good. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger 

 

Myles Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @pharaohraputure

 

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

 

DeRay Mckesson: This is DeRay at @deray on Twitter. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, the Grammys was last night. I didn’t watch it, but people did– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Say what now? [laughter]

 

De’Ara Balenger: I didn’t watch it, I’m in Houston with my best friend. She’s got all these kids. So we left the house to go to dinner. So. But I was getting moment by moment updates from various group chats where they sent me things like Blac Chyna. I’m a leave that alone. I’m a leave that alone. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Did you see that outfit? [laughing]

 

De’Ara Balenger: I’m a leave it alone. I’m a leave it alone. 

 

Myles Johnson: Black Blac Chyna was there?

 

Kaya Henderson: [laughter] Oh, honey, Google the outfit. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Oh my. You didn’t, Myles the outfit was so you’re, like, Blac Chyna, what was going on? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Also, the shade in Blac Chyna was there. I mean that. Yes, she was. She was. She was. She was present. Um. And, you know, the highlight for me and for those who know and love me, know I love, love, love me some Robert Glasper. And he won. And that’s all I needed. That’s all I really reall nee– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Say what? Like that wasn’t even on the TV show. That must have been in the– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well and it’s really– 

 

Kaya Henderson: You know–

 

De’Ara Balenger: –wild. 

 

Kaya Henderson: –the the previous awards. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, he he was nominated. [laugh] Okay DeRay. Okay. DeRay just pulled it up. 

 

Myles Johnson: [indistinct]

 

De’Ara Balenger: On on the photo. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: I wanted Myles to be able to– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Of Blac Chyna.

 

DeRay Mckesson: –appreciate Blac Chyna. 

 

Kaya Henderson: She looks like a black chicken. 

 

Myles Johnson: Okay 

 

De’Ara Balenger: It– [laughter]. 

 

Myles Johnson: It’s very it’s very vaudeville, I’ll say that.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Not even a swan, Kaya called her a chicken. 

 

Kaya Henderson: It’s giving poultry it’s [?]. [laughter]

 

DeRay Mckesson: And De’Ara–

 

Myles Johnson: Chicken head. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –you bringing up Glasper not only because he won, but because Chris Brown had a meltdown on on Instagram? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Wait. Oh, because Robert Glasper won for–

 

DeRay Mckesson: You didn’t see this? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: –R&B and then Chris Brown. Chris Brown better learn how to play a piano. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Chris Brown was like, don’t nobody know him. Who how can somebody win that nobody’s ever heard of? It was this whole thing.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, Chris Brown, read a book and you will learn about Robert Glasper. Okay. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: And I’ve been to how many con– Robert Glasper concerts. Myles, take it away on Robert Glasper, please. [laughter]

 

Myles Johnson: No, that was that was really embarrassing on Chris Brown’s part because, um you know, Chris Brown has been making this he’s been running the same song for about a good two decades now. And it’s like, and the like the consensus is maybe, you should know who Robert Glasper was so your music can have some variation. And and and what is it? How do they say it, mature? So your music can mature a little bit, you know. Um. That’s wild. [laughing]

 

DeRay Mckesson: Yes mature. That’s my father [laughter] you sound like my father. Mature.

 

Kaya Henderson: Um can we talk about can we talk about history being made last night? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Like Harry, Harry– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: About about Beyonce? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Harry Styles. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: About Beyonce? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Harry Styles making history by winning best album? 

 

Kaya Henderson: No, not Harry Styles. We not talking about Harry Styles here. We are talking about–

 

DeRay Mckesson: Kaya. Did you know that? Do you remember? Do you know what? Do you remember Beyonce sent Myles flyers? Flyers, flowers. 

 

Myles Johnson: Flowers. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: What? 

 

Kaya Henderson: Um. When he wrote the thing, when he wrote the article? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: What? 

 

DeRay Mckesson: About the last time she did not get– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –album of the year? 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. Oh, I forgot that that was the occasion. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. If I wanted– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: That’s amazing. 

 

Myles Johnson: I could be, I could do one New York Times piece every Beyonce album because it seems like, [laughter] the same thing is going to happen every time she releases a body of work, so I’m like, it could just we could just repackage that one. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Okay. 

 

Myles Johnson: Replace Adele for Harry. 

 

Kaya Henderson: So, Myles, why do you think they did not give her album of the year? 

 

Myles Johnson: I don’t I honestly don’t know. I feel like, I also think that, like, awards are political. So–

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah totally. 

 

Myles Johnson: I I think that Harry is obviously extremely popular. Obviously really well, like um like well connected and also, you know, just like I felt the same way with Adele and Beck when I was writing those things. I’m fans of both of those artists. I listened to Harry’s um album. I would love for, I do not want to slander um the artist’s name, the Japanese musician’s name from the seventies, that he basically based Harry’s um, Harry based his album off of. But Harry’s album was a really good pop album that was based on 1970s Japanese pop. And I do think that people when are voting for those areas like something that feels, um you know, artistic like. And I think that Beyoncé, although she’s extremely um popular, I think she’s really had to and I think it’s hard for us to see her the underdog. I think she should really have to right to be seen as artistic. I think that she’s been seen as popular and a megastar more than she’s been seen as the artist. And um I like I, hot, hottest take off the press. It just came in my mind. I think that her sister Solange would probably have a easier time getting album of the year than Beyonce would because of that, that layer of it. And I think that when a white man leaves a boy band and does something with Japanese pop and whatever it’s like, Oh, look at him. He’s risking it all for his art. And I think Beyonce has had a really hard time um seducing the the Academy in the same way, hot take. [laughter]

 

Kaya Henderson: I thought they were just trying and I thought they were trying to be really uh air quotes “equitable” and give something to everybody. Adele got a little something. Lizzo got a little something. Harry got a little something, Bonnie Raitt got a little something. Now even she was shocked. 

 

Myles Johnson: Album of the year is not a little something that’s a big something.

 

Kaya Henderson: I mean. I think I think– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Bonnie got shocked. 

 

Kaya Henderson: –they tried to spread out. I think they tried to spread out the Big Something’s Album of the year, Record of the year, Song of the Year, like all of the big ones went to there, there was no sweep. There was no like, one album is doing it all. There was a little bit for everybody. Um.

 

Myles Johnson: Did Beyonce win [?]– 

 

Kaya Henderson: She won something. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: She didn’t win Best Song. She didn’t, of the year, she didn’t win best album of the year. 

 

Myles Johnson: I think she won all sub genre.

 

Kaya Henderson: Whatever, whatever look, whatever she won. She has won more Grammys than anybody in the whole history of the world ever, period. The end. [laughter]

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 

 

Kaya Henderson: How about that? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I just feel like you know listen I just and this I’ve just really been in my Nikki Giovanni lately because I’m just tired, tired, tired, tight, tired of these people. And the fact that Harry Sty– like anytime you say boyband I’m just like whether we talking about the Temptations. Earth, Wind and Fire all the way through New Edition. They stole that whole construct from us. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes indeed. Say it.

 

De’Ara Balenger: And made so much money off of it. So it’s like even when we talk about like, white artistry, I’m like, what are we talking about and what is the origin of that? So– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And when Harry said Harry said, people like me don’t win. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Get, see– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: What does that even mean Harry? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Bye bye I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

 

Myles Johnson: I thought that was such a, I thought it was a such a good illustration of how people see themselves, how like whiteness– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Absolutely. 

 

Myles Johnson: How white men see themselves because I’m like, I’m sure he doesn’t [?] saying I’m a white man today or whatever. He probably he probably sees himself as an underdog. He probably sees himself as a weird kid who loves Japanese pop, who made an album so in his head he’s disenfranchized or um left of center. But it’s like, you know, read the read the, read the black room, read the like read everything that’s going on around you. You have to kind of differently contextualize yourself when you’re so massively popular. It’s like no– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I just I feel like– 

 

Myles Johnson: –things like this happen to you all the time. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I don’t get it. But, you know, there’s a whole group of people that that do get it and that control the Grammys so y’all can have it. And I will wait to the BET Awards. Thank you very much. [indistinct]

 

Kaya Henderson: Can I tell you that the best thing about the Grammys last night was the tribute to hip hop. 50 years of– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Oh it’s going to be 50 years. 

 

Kaya Henderson: –Hip hop. It is 50 years. And they had a veritable menagerie of hip hop artists– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yes Kaya. 

 

Kaya Henderson: –who performed, except– 

 

Myles Johnson: Okay. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Come on SAT words. [indistinct]

 

Myles Johnson: Okay. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Except except except and I like I’m from New York, I, born and bred. But I was surprised at how little West Coast representation they had, they had look Ice-T up dancing in with his SVU self. But not, I mean Dre got an award but he didn’t perform. Not Snoop, not Ice Cube, not like no real West Coast rapper-y people. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah also always want to like just honor the fact that Dre was um honored and you know, he [indistinct]. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Messy, messy, terrible violent. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. Of [?]– 

 

Kaya Henderson: All the things. 

 

Myles Johnson: [?]. And it’s just wild that yeah– 

 

Kaya Henderson: That we’re calling him a global icon. They called him a global icon and named the award after him. Yeah. Uh huh.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now you [indistinct]. [banter] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: It’s just like the Super Bowl too. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: People are not going to be able to accept that award, like no woman will ever be able to accept the award. 

 

Kaya Henderson: That’s true. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: You know, like, they’ll have to change the name of the award. So that’ll be good. 

 

Kaya Henderson: That is right. Mm. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Also, I will say I loved. There’s something really pure about Lizzo that I just enjoy. And her acceptance speech and her shout out to Beyonce. It’s just like you are just happy. You’re like, happy– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –to be here. You want to do positive music. It’s coming from a good place. You look happy and feel like and it’s like ah I really I just she just seems so pure. 

 

Myles Johnson: I love her [?] of a boyfriend. Sorry. [laughter] So she did, she did a hard launch of her boyfriend. I was like, I know, that’s right. I know. That’s right. That’s right. 

 

Kaya Henderson: She said to my man who holds me down. 

 

Myles Johnson: Like, okay. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Get it, girl. And Myles, Samara Joy. 

 

Myles Johnson: Samara Joy, I love Sa– I’m a just like a jazz enthusiast, jazz vocalist, enthusiast. I think it’s one of those things that we just have to keep going and it makes me so happy. I don’t I don’t know off the top of my head is Samara Joy’s age. But all I do know that I could have probably babysitted her at one point. So like she and I’m and I’m 30– about to be 32 next month. I’m like, She’s young. So the fact that she is so young and so interested in Jazz, grew up um was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and she gotta uh um– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: She’s 23. 

 

Myles Johnson: She got a– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Wild. 

 

Myles Johnson: 23. Okay. So she got a so she gotta she and she got a Grammy. It just made me feel so good. And, you know, I’m going to sound a little auntie, old uncle whatever whatever–

 

Kaya Henderson: What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that? 

 

Myles Johnson: Uh. I’m just going to sound, sound a little rickety, but it also makes me really excited to see that there is a diverse option for young Black women who want to be in music. And I think I love sex, positivity, I love body positivity, I love um [?] up songs, god knows I do. [laughter] God knows I love a [?] song, but it also made me feel good to see this like, brown skinned young Black woman still get her Grammys, still have her moment and not participate in some in the kind of like limiting mainstream scripts that Black people, specifically Black women and femmes, are given in order to find success. And that just brought me joy. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: And she let me tell you, the last time I was home in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago. Every auntie and uncle I talked to said. And they messed up her name so many times. Did you see Tamara Joy on uh [laughter] um Jennifer Hudson’s show? Did you see Samara da da da da da. And she basically went viral in my family. And so I watched the video of her on Jennifer Hudson’s show and it is spectacular. She’s spectacular.

 

Myles Johnson: She has an annointing voice. She has an annointed voice.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yes. Yes.

 

Myles Johnson: It’s like it’s like nostalgic. I’m like when she sings, I’m like, do I hear vinyl crackling in your voice? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah [laughing]. 

 

Myles Johnson: Like what do I hear a Speakeasy in your parent’s home girl? What is going on? [laughter]

 

De’Ara Balenger: So she is very popular. So go on ahead go do a show in Minneapolis so I can take 20 of my family members. [sigh] 

 

Kaya Henderson: Well, y’all it is February, which is the kickoff to Black History year. Woo woo. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I know that’s right. 

 

Kaya Henderson: And–

 

Myles Johnson: Decade. 

 

Kaya Henderson: We are happy to announce the launch of the Blackest Book Club Reading list, which is brought to you by Reconstruction, Campaign Zero, and of course, Pod Save the People. DeRay, De’Ara, Myles and I came together to answer a handful of questions that we think are a great way for you to talk with your kids, your families and your friends about books. So we asked each other which book do you wish you had read as a child? Which book do you think every Black person should read? What’s the book you pick up and read when you need to restore your passion, your strength or your belief? And which book has most shaped your identity as a Black person? And we had a good time mining our memories and experiences for the books that influenced us. Friends say more. 

 

Myles Johnson: I think it’s so important for uh Black Books to be highlighted because it’s A.) it just creates the conversation. But then specifically, this Blackest Book list is great because we’re such diverse minds. Every single person came with different things that they prioritized, different things that they loved. And we all came together and said, like, what is the what’s the what’s the list? What’s the what’s where what’s the list of literature that could really help shape minds, that helped shaped us? And I just think that if you end up reading every single book on this list, um you’ll be a better person, a more well-rounded person, a more interesting person, and a person whose mind is more challenged. Um. It’s just it’s it’s a good list y’all. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And it’s also a reminder that we um you know, one of the things I love about the the pod is that I get challenged so much and I just think of new ideas. And we all arrived here because we were in proximity to so many other ideas before we got here. And these books, I think are a reflection of all the other, like a collection of some of the best ideas that we grappled with or struggled through or touched or experienced that helped us really think through um like how how we think about the world today. So excited to I, my book is the first book this week, but excited for you all to hear everybody’s and see everybody’s. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I also just think, the Black canon of literature. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: It’s so important for everybody’s imagination, creativity. Like there I feel like Black literature in particular. Um. I think it can give one anyone a real, real intrinsic love of reading and literature and exploration. So I’m just so excited that we did this and so ready to go to space with all of these books because that’s what Black people do. Just take you away. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I I also love it because, you know, they’ll try to have you out here thinking that Black folks don’t read. And we read, reading, education is our birthright. Um. During the Reconstruction era, which is 12 years after slavery, we started 5000 schools and 37 historically Black colleges and universities, in 12 years. And they tell us that we don’t prioritize education. We we had literary societies and salons and all kinds of things. And so this, to me, harkens back to our history of being literate and literary people. And we are reclaiming that this kickoff to the Black History Year. So go check out our Blackest Book club reading lists at Info.Reconstruction.us/Blackest-Book-Club. Did you hear me? Info.reconstruction.us/blackest-book-club. At the link you can download the list and make a purchase in support of the cause. We’ve also designed a limited edition Blackest Book Club apparel collection featuring a range of designs and colors just for you. Stay tuned this month as we grab a book from the list each week and spend a little bit of time digesting it together. This week, we’re exploring the Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life with Cleo Wade, which is DeRay’s book. DeRay, why’d you pick that? 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Because I love Heart Talk. Uh. Cleo is is both a friend and just such a great mind around like the world of emotions and self-help and thinking. Um. And she has a new book coming out soon. But the the book that came out first was Heart Talk, and I’ll read my uh favorite passage from the book. So the the header is um not every ground is a battleground. And I remember when I first heard her say that, I was like, that’s good I’m a give a talk, that’s a sermon. I can like, see it. Not every ground is a battleground. And what she writes is why soldiers why soldiers know that not every ground is a battleground. Their scars do not let them forget that they have had to be a fighter for their scars. And also do not let them forget that the human body cannot live every day in the trenches. To exist in a state that requires you to constantly be prepared to go to war is exhausting. No human body or soul can sustain that type of energy as a lifestyle. Let yourself relax. The ground is not only the place where you march to what you must fight for. It is also a place where we are being divinely held up by the earth. And I remember reading that the first time and being like, come on, not every ground is a battleground, that like it certainly is a place where you fight, but it’s also a place where you are held up and supported and nurtured and nourished. And the book is just all these little gems that that take moments in life and help reframe them and help uh give you language and images to move forward. And that was one that is truly one of my favorites uh from Heart Talk. 

 

Myles Johnson: Um. I always get super excited because A.) Like Cleo Wade is like one of our like living writers and living like living [?], which is um exciting because, you know, we’ve dealt with the deaths of like Toni Morrison and um and, and Bell Hooks um and, and etc. so I always feel like really good to know that that tradition’s being carried on. And then also I love that one of the things speaking of, that Bell Hooks would always say was how she was kind of like hard, she was kind of limited where she couldn’t go into talking about feelings, she couldn’t really write poetry, she couldn’t do things that weren’t in the extremely intellectual, academic space. And I think that even when um I need to finish the documentary on Zora Neale Hurston, I was really surprised at how limited the talk around spirituality was and stuff like that. And I love and I love that Cleo Wade is in some way the the healer of the of the ways that Black women haven’t been able to show up in literature because she is able to talk about spirit, talk about feelings and be poetic um in a space that usually you will be devalued if you’re too if you’re too um flowery. Unless your last name is Angela or Giovanni. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I love Heart Talk because it is, it’s like poetic affirmations, right? And so one of my favorite I love DeRay, the one not every ground is a battleground, because sometimes I, as you know, I’m ready to cuss people out all the time. And so that helps me just to get myself together and be like, you know what? It’s not worth all this energy because I’m not going to get the return on this energy. But one of my favorites is know the value of knowing your value, um which I think is something that I’m always um holding with me and navigating as, you know, just as a human being in the world, but also as an entrepreneur in the world. So um thank you for bringing for bringing this book, um and I’m going to actually reread it before um Cleo’s next book comes out. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I thank you for bringing it as well. Um. I didn’t know about Cleo Wade until I started hanging out with y’all cats. Um. And what a lovely discovery like it’s so refreshing and positive. And you know, Myles, you’re absolutely right. It is full of feelings. And one of my commitments to myself this year is to let myself feel all the feels right. As Black women, we suppress what we’re feeling. And and she is both positive in Heart Talk, but she also deals with issues like change and anxiety and, you know, real stuff. And um but her overall perspective is positive and optimistic and hopeful. And so um I bought it because of the Blackest Book Club and I’m excited to read it over the next month. [music break]

 

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

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Myles Johnson: Today’s news every single time. I always I want everybody to picture me holding your hand in your mind’s eye when I when I give the big exhale, because that’s what I’m doing. So this is a this is a tough one for well it’s not tough for me. But this is a complicated one for me, but I couldn’t ignore it. It was literally like just every per– group chat. Everybody uh who I knew whose listened to the podcast was like, asking me like, I know you about to talk about this. What about this? What about this? So, yes, I’m about to talk about Pyer Moss, the cut article um by Tahirah Hairston. I hope I’m saying, pronouncing her name right. I’m horrible at that. Tahirah Hairston. Um. Pyer Moss is a brand that I think it’s it’s it’s really, like, really interesting. And I think that this, this moment. I talked about it plenty of times on the podcast about how I’m really fascinated right now with middle to upper middle class Black people’s interactions with products, capitalism and the brutality that we face in the reaction to it. Because I think there’s something really unique and interesting happening, even though it’s like often scary. I think there’s something to be said when somebody sees somebody be killed or brutalized and their first inclination is to do something for their brand or to create something to sell. And I think that that is saying something about where the uh where a lot of Black minds are because of where we are in um where we are in capitalism, then I don’t see a whole lot of people doing it because I think a whole lot of people who have the voices are the same people who are suffering from this uh upper middle classism that I’m that I’ve been trying to name for the last year and um year um on this podcast. Anywho. This article in the New York magazine, The Cut is really all about Pyer Moss and the downfall of this brand um I didn’t know necessarily that it was the um downfall of the brand. You can um ask anybody. I was like obsessed with the bags last year. I didn’t I didn’t really care that there was such an up and down until I read it and I was like, Oh, this makes sense as to the things that are happening on social and the ups and then in the quiet times, the loud times and stuff like that, I didn’t know what I was seeing was making some erratic business decisions happening and it manifests on, on um manifesting on social. It’s the there there’s like a cut like a few touch points in the article. You have to read it. It’s pretty lengthy. There’s a few touch points that just like fascinated me that I just wanted to bring up in um for um for discussion. The first one is uh I kind of like like, again, I’m really curious about if we’re really interacting with when people die, the first thing that people tend to do is make something to be sold. Via song being a T-shirt. And then the other thing is the um the Weeksville um situation that was named in the article, I’ve been somebody who has been Weeksville Heritage center um again the performitivity of everything that’s that that um Pyer Moss has represented. I I that you can’t ignore it and I think that just making it making this article just focused on Kerby and just focused on Pyer Moss would be a mistake. I think this is indicative of a bigger thing that’s happening. So the fact that he did a he did a fashion show at Weeksville Heritage promised them um like like donation and hoodies and and participation in it. And none of that happened, but the performance of it all happened. That is really that’s. That’s the thing. [laughing] That’s something that sounds like performativity and I think that we know it so well when white people do it. And I think that we’re afraid to name it when other Black people are doing what other Black people are using certain um when other Black people are using dark times in order to make in order to make green money. Uh. The other thing that I wanted to um name was something that I have had personal um interactions with with other past jobs is when paranoid Black men end up in control. And one thing that I knew that even when I eh– when I was really just a empathetic to the story because I felt like when you read Kerby’s story, there’s obviously mental things going on. There might be other paranoia or other traumas that are happening going on. But I notice so often that when Black men who have not done the work to heal their minds or to kind of really address the paranoia that it ends up just sinking the ship of of other businesses. The biggest version of this we saw was Yeezy, I think that we all we all witnessed that with Yeezy. But even with this Pyer Moss situation, I was like, there was times where I was kind of going up and down and politicizing it and intellectualizing it. And then other times where I’m like, I think a therapy session could have done it. I think a therapy session could have really saved it. And I don’t I like I don’t know if it had to be this this deep and this big and I hate that it had to come here and and and somebody was able to write a um able to write a story about this. The last thing I’m going to say about this article was always trust your first mind. Because my first mind when I saw this Paris couture show last year, my first mind was I really felt like and as a, I’m a Black American descended from slaves, South Carolina, I really felt like it was a mockery. I really felt like it was somebody who was trying to be subversive, trying to be um satirical, but using a history that all the history that he was name naming didn’t even belong to him. This is this is this that [?] at his base’s right where I’m like, well, you’re a ha– you’re a Haitian. We’re all Black, but you’re a Haitian immigrant and you’re using a lot of Black American history to make satirical um commentary on the ridiculousness of fashion or trying to do whatever. And it felt insulting and doing was on that of CJ Walker’s property and for it to be like that it felt insulting where I’m like, well, why didn’t you take all white garb and there’s this beautiful um designer who had um these designers make like, red and have like, right stains on their on their white garments and be so that, like, the person was dripping in like red wine this past year. I forgot the designer’s name. So I’m like, if you really bad, why don’t you do Haitian Revolution um couture. And show these Black um people in all white and beaded in um red and stuff like that. Why are you putting people in peanut butter jars and stuff like that. And it just felt satirical, but it felt like it missed the mark and it felt like it was making a mockery of Black American culture to me then it was um then it was really like honoring it. And this article kind of soothed that impulse. Because sometimes you’ll I’ll gaslight myself and be like, No, it must be good, because how would it get here if it wasn’t good? And I looked at and I was like, No, I was right. It was. It was. It was it wasn’t good. It looked like it didn’t it wasn’t thought out. And then I read the article and page 3 says, yeah, it wasn’t that good and it turns out they ain’t think it out. And I’m like, okay, I knew and I knew it. Trust trust my um trust my first mind. But yeah, I think that outside of Pyer Moss is not just about the brand and the designer. I think that we really have to be more relentless and critical about people who are of all races, of all genders, who are using Black political, social, political moments in despair in order to platform themselves, in order to gain access. And I think not talking about it critically is ensuring that people end up in spaces or with platforms with how should I say it, dubious intentions, intentions. Um. I’m excited to hear all of y’all’s thoughts. Thank you for taking the ride with me because you’re still going to see me with that Pyer Moss bag. You guys are still going to see me in my sneakers [laughing] both and so I just had to you know, sometimes when I’m in a moment like this, taking the ride is just as hard for me cause I’m like damn both and both and both and. Um. But yeah I’m excited to hear y’all’s thoughts on it.

 

De’Ara Balenger: I will say. I got, there was a lot of conversation happening around this in like my group chats as well. I think this article, though, is very New York Black fashion centric, and I think if you aren’t running in those circles or aren’t living in New York City, in Bed-Stuy or Harlem, then it’s really it’s like, who is this and why are we talking about this? I will say that in my 12 years in New York and, you know, my background is mostly politics. That’s the world I came from. I’m in I’m an entrepreneur now. I do work with a ton of fashion brands and now have fashion friends. The fashion Black folk operate a lot differently than my political Black folk, right? Example, when I was campaigning for Hillary and Symone Sanders was campaigning for Bernie, we still ride or die. You a sister in politics. I’m a sister in politics. Black folks in fashion do not ride that way. There’s a lot of there should only be one Black person in the room. And I’m as the that Black person. I’m fine with that. There’s a lot of I don’t like that person. I don’t like that person. I don’t know if that’s just like inherent in the culture of fashion, but it is super problematic and also just. I mean, unusual to me. Right. And so I think yes, I think it’s important to do all the things you’re saying, Myles, But I think it’s also super important for us to understand that Black folks across all the industries, you ain’t got to like each other. But what is our collective goal like? What is our collective goal as a people? And I would think it’s to create more opportunity for one another, right? But there’s something about fashion that in that competitiveness, for some reason that is not the case. So. I think that’s what this article did for me, is that it’s like even going like, you know, even some of the names in the article, right. So like, even some of the quotes, like. You know, it’s like there are there are people who are who are blessing, blessing the careers of Black folks in fashion. And those people that you go to to kiss the ring and do what? So e–, like, I just felt a lot of that happening or being a reflection of what’s happening in the article. Um. And if it if it were different, you know, even in even in the very specific case of Pyer uh of Kerby, I think that Kerby could have been somebody who was very uplifting and pulled a lot of people up and put a lot of people on in fashion. Right. Um. But I also you know, it’s it’s but it’s also tough running a business. And I think the other thing that Black folks love to do, is throw, you know, throw grenades at folks who are running a business or trying to sell their business. It’s like the whole point of business y’all is to build wealth. Like, that’s the point of business, to be honest. Like and while you’re doing it, hopefully, you know, you’re doing it in a way that, you know, is equitable and is actually setting or disrupting the culture of of of business and how Black folks have been treating in business. But I’m rambling now all that to say I thought this was very interesting. And I think what it brought out for me is not what it not what this writer necessarily intended. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I’ll ride that train De’Ara. Um. I had three thoughts reading this. And, you know, I am not in New York. I’m not in fashion circles. I’m not you know, this is not my set. Um. But a friend of mine from Memphis sent me the article and was like, girl, you should talk about this on the pod. And [laughter] and um and so I think it might be I and she at least is a fashionista, like she’s very attuned to fashion stuff, but she’s also just attuned to Black folk stuff and–

 

De’Ara Balenger: Right. Right. Right.

 

Kaya Henderson: So I think um for me, like, my first reaction was, oh, damn right. Like kind of another one bites the dust. I’m always sad when we when our failures are made public in this way. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be made public, but white people fail their businesses all the time, blow people’s capital, do all of this stuff, and we rarely hear about it. And when it happens to us, it like it just the impact is so much more. And so my first reaction was sort of sad. Um. My big question was like, what was and you all know this young man, I don’t know him or whatever, but just reading the article, my big question was like, what was his intention and what was the industry’s response or expectation or what the industry wanted him to be something, and he might have wanted to be something different. He says this is art. He didn’t say this is fashion. He liked the performative nature of it and the shows and the shock and uh, you know, what have you. And he failed to build like he failed to, like, create clothes that people could buy. Well, maybe that’s not what he set out to do. Um. It seems that this performance artist thing was his real jam. Um. And, you know, I mean, I teach African-American history and culture. We sell some T-shirts on the side, but we not a [laughing] we’re not a [laughing] we are not an apparel company. Now maybe he wasn’t super clear about that with the people who he was taking money from. With the people who were mentoring him. But I do think that there is there is pressure, right? When you have some success at something and what you intend for yourself and what the world intends for you are sometimes two different things. And so I just had some questions around that. And then my third thought was that, you know, sort of related to my first point, um when the door closes for Kerby, the door closes for lots of other people behind him. Right. And there are lots of fashion up and comers, talents who won’t get the same chance that he got, and that is wasted capital. And so um it just yeah, this made me sad, but um thanks for bringing it to the pod Myles. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: So uh let me disclaimer is that Kerby is my friend and like, like Kaya definitely knows and um and De’Ara definitely knows both because you have had public service jobs. Living in public is hard. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Woo say it. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And uh and like conversations about what you what that life is like in public is hard. So that’s like the first thing I’ll say. The second is that none of us are above, you know, like part of the deal with living in public is that people talk about what you do in public. That’s just part of what happens and you don’t always love it. I certainly don’t always love it. And some of it is fair and some of it is unfair. Some of it is mean, some of it is true and mean, some of it is kind and like, you know, like you get the whole range. Let me zoom out before I talk about Kerby. I’ll say that, you know, I’m a little too close to this because this same editor uh commissioned somebody to write a very critical piece of me to open uh Black History Month last year. And I, I just want to name that it’s not lost on me that this is a Black woman editor at a white paper who the second year in a row has entered has opened Black History Month with very, very critical pieces about Black people. I think that is worth mentioning and worth noting. And like De’Ara, you said about fashion. I am. I think that this I’ve seen this have a chilling effect on the fashion people I know in the sense of that editors proximity to fashion is actually pretty deep. And like, why would you ever say anything? Or da da da in a room where that person is now because you might be the subject of a piece like this. I just want to zoom out and say those two things. Now, with regard to uh the substance of it. Myles, I think I think there is a fair conversation about and I you know, I met I first knew who Kerby was because he had a, a shirt that had the names of victims of police violence on it. That’s how I saw it in the protests. I put it in the newsletter that I ran in Ferguson, and it helped the shirt go viral. So like, how do the instinct to use your medium and platform if it’s art or is whatever, to like, talk about the social moment, I think is like an interesting set of critique. I will say, you know, if the piece had raised those questions Myles, I think I would be more interested in it as a piece of criticism. There is a part of the piece that felt mean to me like the intentions did not seem kind or like trying to get to a bigger question. And, you know, Kerby is young as both a person and in a fashion career. You know, you think about the old houses. They have been you know, they have if you wrote a story about Gucci in the first, you know, seven years, it would be a– 

 

Myles Johnson: Horrible. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –tread. You know, and and I and I worry about what happens when pieces like this become defining in the first set of somebody’s career. Like, I just I worry about that and like, you know, most industries love a comeback story so this is you know Kerby’s not out and da da da. But I do worry about um I just worry about what that means because whether you like him or not. King’s Theater was a historic moment. You don’t have to like him to acknowledge that like he has done things in fashion that created space for people that have like changed like I remember I remember that Fashion Week hearing people be like, why we got to go to Brooklyn, you know, because for those of you that don’t know, Kerby did this show in Kings Theater and it was like a whole thing. But everybody did come and like and I and I worry that the article did not do justice to the kind and good things that he has done in the space, too. And like, I don’t love that. Like, if you’re going to if you gonna write the piece write the whole thing, right. Is sort of my push. Not just the people who are frustrated or the people that don’t like you. And all of us have had people who like, you know, if somebody wrote an article with the people that didn’t like us. It would be a very interesting way to experience us in the world, you know what I mean? Um. So that’s how I feel about it. I like I want to believe and I and I and I will say my bias is that as as a person who lives in public in some ways and, uh you know, I woke up yesterday to a very critical uh article of me also in this magazine that was like and DeRay um and DeRay, you know, activists disagree with him because of his support for Hillary. I’m like, well, what was I, was I supposed to support Trump? I say this as somebody who also lives in public– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Also y’all can find me at @dearabalenger on Instagram if you got a problem with DeRay supporting Hillary Clinton. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Oh my god. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: All y’all all over there. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: But I say it because I like when I read the things that are about me. I’m trying to figure out like, how do I take it and do better? And some of the things that get written actually don’t set me up to think about it how I do be– like they they’re they’re not zooming out to big questions. Myles, I think you introduced this conversation with a big question that the article did not. And I want to believe that like the best of our critique, the best of our pushes actually help us do the work better, not just lament the fact that we are not doing in the way that some people want us to. 

 

Myles Johnson: Ah it’s the last thing before we um close out because I love everybody. I love conversations. [laughing] So I feel like everybody had such a good take on it. And I think that, you know, this might just be what I get for maybe watching one too many Tyler Perry um plays. But secrets don’t do nothing good. So I feel like the piece was written right? So if I were commissioned to write that piece or commissioned to talk or whatever about that piece, of course I’m me so I’m going to do it a certain way. But I always think that when we don’t engage with something that has happened then, and then you do become fashion roadkill. Then you do become somebody who can never be survived. But if you actually engage with the piece, talk about what and have conversations around it, uh what can be learned from it, you actually start to just by proxy, create like a pedagogy for even Kerby himself to engage with, to say, no, I’ve engaged with this critiques and I’ve done this is and this of what y’all said, and now I’m better, which could actually make it so this article isn’t as damning, as it would be if it was just left alone, um which is how come I never hide from these big bad moments, even though we could all name the reasons why it happens to us and you know, it has to it takes a Fyre island for [laughing] it to happen to white people, but it happened. So what are we going to do now that it happened? 

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Usually I leave the really upsetting, enraging news to DeRay Mckesson. But today, my news is just that. And I was I found this and I was like, am I really going to talk about this? And I was so upset about it. And yeah, like, I want to because I just our babies, y’all our babies, right? So a nine year old and this news is from NPR, and you all have to open the link because you have to see this baby. Bobbi Wilson holding her little moth or butterfly collection. She’s got a cute little headband on and her glasses. She’s like the little Black Dora the Explorer. So she was minding her own business in, you know, in her neighborhood. Um. She she was collecting spotted lanternfly specimens. Come on, baby Bobbi. That’s what she was doing. The child had found a special spray on TikTok. She made her own spray. She was going out [laugh] spraying the trees and getting her little specimens. Okay, it is, would you, like, just envision her? It is the darling, most darling thing. Until her old scraggly raggely neighbor. Across the street. [sigh] Karen, badge number 1065 called the police on this nine year old baby, saying that whatever she was doing what the nine year old was doing looked suspicious. I don’t know what she’s out there doing. The police come, approached the child and she says, am I in trouble? I guess thankfully, because that’s how we have to speak as Black folk. The officer knew right away that it was some foolishness um and told her she wasn’t in trouble. So anyway, so this, you know, her her mom and her sister end up speaking out about this. This happened in in in New Jersey, I believe. Um. And um it, you know, kind of came up in local press in New Jersey. And at some point, Yale gets involved and then decides to to honor her. Nothing makes you feel better than some good old white support after [lauhging] after you’ve been oppressed. [laughing]

 

DeRay Mckesson: Somebody give De’Ara a doughnut. [indistinct]. She–

 

Kaya Henderson: Honey wow. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Woo okay.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Thanks, Yale. Thanks. Thanks. School started by slave people. But anyway, so I just wanted to bring this to the pod, because I, it just wrecked me. It really, really did. And you think about and especially Kaya and DeRay, like, how our babies are perceived in schools across the country. And it’s just like– 

 

Myles Johnson: I was like, why was I left out your [?]?

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, they because they was teachers. But no– [banter] Myles

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah, I get where you went. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: But it’s to you, too. It’s like for for young people who are so creative and so, like just free and then you have this moment where that is where you where you understand the realities around that. It’s devastating. It is just devastating. So sorry, I’m taking us down. But– 

 

Kaya Henderson: This was this–

 

De’Ara Balenger: –somebody bring us back up. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I’m going to go down first. This was outrageous to me. This was outrageous to me because, I mean, this wasn’t this wasn’t a Karen, this this is a whole grown man. He is a whole grown man. And he– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Oh wait it was a man Kaya? I thought it was–

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. Gordon Lawshe is his name. And– 

 

Myles Johnson: Okay. What’s his facebook? [laughter]

 

Kaya Henderson: –he called the police and Gordon with his whole grown white man self. Gordon is 71, it looks like. Um. And he calls the police and he says, and I quote, there is a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though. Gordon, you’re 71. She’s nine. She’s a little Black woman? This is all adultification of our young people, right? This is what they do to us. She’s a little Black woman. No, she’s a nine year old girl. You are 71 years old. And what she’s doing is so threatening to you inside your house where you ought to be minding your own business, where she is out actually saving the environment. Spotted Lanternflies are an invasive species. New Jersey has asked the people to go out and take care of them to save the trees. And this little girl is being a hero. And old raggedy Gordon decides to call the police on her. And despite the fact that Yale was founded by enslavers, as were lots of our institutions, my hat goes off to them for for recognizing her, rewarding her, seeing her as a scientist. There’s a story to me where we started out seeing this little girl, somebody saw this little girl as a criminal and Yale says, No, that is not who she is. She is a budding scientist. She is worthy of recognition. She is a hero. And so for me, that’s the upside to this. 

 

Myles Johnson: Um. You know, I always there’s like two sides of me. I always say that like, I’m like half woo woo spiritualist, and like half like, cynical intellectual. This story brought out both of it in me. [laughing] The woo woo spiritualist part of me thinks that, like, wow, this is, there’s actually countless stories of Black children and Black young people who are engaging their genius, who get um who get reminded that they’re in a raced body that they’re in and that they’re in, that they’re in a raced world is almost like that’s an intiation process to engage in with your genius is to remember this. And it just it feels again, woo woo. It feels very synchronistic and very like, Whoa. Interesting. Now, the cynical part of me is also thinking about yes we already named Yale and the history of Yale but also the it feels extremely PR-y like the fact that Yale has had the um has got people to write that got people arrested and had all these other things happen on their campus and it feels like opportunism that this somehow landed in in NPR and somehow became a story. It feels like strategic and gross to me. I it just doesn’t feel like coin– it doesn’t feel like coicidental. Um. Yeah those those those are the my my two cri– two views of the story. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: I’d say um uh Myles. I love this idea of like the, the challenge of engaging in Black genius or the the price that people want to make you pay. I also think um people say um joy is an act of resistance, and that becomes like a frou frou talking point. And then you’re like, No, no, no, no, no. This little girl is literally just trying to do something for her little bugs and just be a little Black girl. Just having her fun the way she wants to have fun. Outside ain’t hurting nobody any and ain’t even hurting the bugs and like, that becomes a thing that just needs to be disrupted, like not even a threat per se, but like that, like whiteness just has to disrupt it and control it. That like there’s the idea that she can make decisions about how she enjoyed this world was so much that he had to intervene. I mean if that’s not what white supremacy looks like I don’t know what is so. Uh I also shout out to Yale, De’Ara [laugh] uh for to lifting this up and I do think it was PR-y and I love it. I actually love the PR of this. I love that Yale is like, let let us use what we use our platform in this moment to remind people that kids should explore and kids should wonder and kids should da da, like I love that. 

 

Myles Johnson: But use your platform to pay the people who got arrested on your campus. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Do it all. Do it all. [banter] This is not a one and done. This is a both and not a either or.

 

Kaya Henderson: That too that too. 

 

Myles Johnson: Okay. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes, indeed. 

 

Myles Johnson: Okay. Challenge me. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, maybe next week I’ll think that I’ve just I’ve had a real pro-Black content weekend. I’m ready to rock this week. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Let me give you a little something else to be, to rock out about, because [laughter] there’s a new study out of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research uh that just came out that shows what many of us probably suspected. But now we actually have proof, and that is the IRS disproportionately audits Black taxpayers. Um. Oh, Lord is right. In fact, the people analyzed 148 million tax returns, 780,000 audits for tax year 2014. And what they found was that Black taxpayers are 3 to 5 times more likely to be audited than non-Black taxpayers. Um. How does this happen? It comes actually from a faulty software algorithm. So all y’all who believe deeply in your algorithms and don’t believe that race is baked in or that this is not systemic I’m challenging you on that. Um. The agency focuses on what they call low dollar, high certainty cases. First of all, shouldn’t you be focused on high dollar cases like people who owe a lot of money, not the people who owe a little bit of money, but um basically they the algorithm targets Black filers who claim the earned income tax credit. And earned income tax credit is a tax refund for low to moderate wage earners. They’re supposed to help us, but in fact, it helps the IRS target black people. In fact, the most damning statistic is that single a single Black man with dependents who claims the earned income tax credits, he is every single Black father, you know, who supports his kids, right? Um. That person is 20 times as likely to be audited as a non-Black married taxpayer, claiming the earned income tax credit. So um these are long standing questions that we only now have data on because on his first day in office, President Biden signed the Racial Justice Executive Order 13985, which requires all federal agencies to assess how their programs impact racial and ethnic equity. Shout out to President Biden, there’s another one of those things that we didn’t know that he did. But basically he’s making all federal agencies examine the impacts and effects of their programs on race. And before this executive order, you could not get into the IRS’s data to be able to look for these things. But because of this executive order, um now researchers have access to federal information and data that they didn’t have before, which now proves long standing truths. It’s hard out here for Blacks in America. 

 

Myles Johnson: I I don’t know if President Biden needs to hire Harry Styles and [?] to put these things in a song. But this needs to be out there cause shout out to you, [laughter] this should be out there. I need to know about this. That’s wild. And it makes so and it makes so much sense. And as somebody who has just finished both watching The Wolf of Wall Street for the first time and the Madoff documentaries, I now feel like I know everything about money. And it’s wild that you would. And I get why, because it’s low, it’s guarantee you’ll get your money back where as other people who have the legal and by the time you’re like done with it and they fight the case. Maybe it’s not. It wouldn’t be worth it. But yeah, there’s actual blue, was it white collar? Blue white collar white collar. White collar white collar criminals doing white collar things with green money that we need to be talking about. And you’re over here focusing on somebody who might be who may who you know how, I haven’t said this in a long time, but, you know, my ethics around doing bad things. I feel like if you’re poor in America and you do a little scammy scam. We need to examine what’s happening in America. We need to stop penalizing um poor people for even trying to get a little bit more. You know, the fact that this is even a thing is just it’s just gross. And I’m super happy that there is this initiative to even examine it and talk about it and write about it. Yeah, put this to a drill beat, so we all know about it. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: [indistinct] I do think, you know, I remember when they first um I remember when they first did this executive order and I talked to, there was somebody who wrote a book about, I think ooh I can’t remember her name, but there was somebody who wrote a book about the tax code. And she was really pumped about the data being public so that or the data being analyzed so they could finally uh make these conclusions. So shout out the data because, you know, here we go. But it’s also one of those things where, like again, when we say everything comes back to race, people are like, y’all are being dramatic. And you’re like, No, no, no. It really does. It really the the big things, the small things, the things in between, the things you don’t even think about and Kaya to your point when people are like, you know, I don’t do politics and da da da this is such a good example of like politics is doing you, you know, like you you don’t get it. And we haven’t figured out a way to help you understand its impact on your day to day life. But, baby, the algorithms and the decisions are screwing you over in ways that are unbelievably unfair. They are not because you made poor choices. Choices were made to set you up. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Thanks, Kaya, because now I’m really fired up. [laughter] Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, I. Taxes were kind of a precarious thing to me until I became a business owner because, you know, I was in public service and, you know, I did like the Turbo tax and everything was fine. Now, my taxes are so complicated. I run my business in New York City, which is the most expensive place to run a business in America. But that’s where I live. And I believe that ethically, like I can’t move my business to Florida eew I don’t live there. Um. And so I just feel like it’s one of those things that it’s just it’s not in the in the. You know, it’s not what we pay a lot of attention to, um but it is something if these learnings are happening right, particularly around wealth taxes, all the conversations we’ve had about redlining and homeownership, it’s like these things are coming up and these things exist um and they exist to ensure that we we’re not able to build wealth, we’re not able to build collective wealth. So this is shocking, absolutely shocking. Um. But thanks for bringing this to the podcast. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: My news um is hot off the presses. Just got released. So in California there is a very rich data set of income or household income at the state level. And one of the questions that researchers have been trying to grapple with for a long time was about uh maternal mortality. So mothers who are women who are giving birth um and the rate with which they die. And the question was about Black women. So we know that Black women are more likely to die during childbirth than other races. So there’s the question about uh maternal mortality and the relationship between wealth and race. Well, a new study shows it’s pretty wild that the wealthiest Black moms are more are more likely to die in childbirth than the poorest white moms. And there is this notion that, like wealthy Black women would have access to better health care, and da da da da da. And because of their wealth, it would offset the impact that we know about maternal mortality. And then you look at the study and it just it literally does not like it just it doesn’t wealth does not overcome systemic racism. And in practice, like definitely not in the ways that people thought it did and and just not. Uh. The article says in fact, the effects caused by structural racism are so strong that even the wealthiest black women and their newborns experience worse outcomes than those in the lowest income white families. In other words, the maternal health gap is a trap of systemic racism with roots so deep that no amount of money can buy a Black woman a path out of it. And the reason why the California data matters is that California regularly trends above the national averages for different maternal health metrics, which makes people believe that they will be more likely to be true or worse in other places. And for context, in 2020, maternal death rates were 62% higher in states where abortion was restricted uh and in the maternal health rates are just bad in general. But yeah, money doesn’t solve it, everybody. So when people think that they can capitalism their way out of systemic racism, here’s another study to remind you that is not the case. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: DeRay this is all all like something that I knew about um that many Black women know about um. And I think a good example of it is Serena Williams. Right. And when Ser– even when Serena Williams says while she’s having birth that I’m not feeling right, and doctor’s like, oh, you’re fine no you’re fine. She’s like, No, no, no, I know something’s wrong. Um. And she literally advocated for herself from her hospital bed. Right. And so I think it is why it is so critical for I’ll say that Black women we know are very special. And I think what connects us is that we know no matter what our economic no, you know, no matter how Oprah-fied we get. We still are going to suffer from some aspects of the same oppression. It doesn’t matter. We can’t transcend our way out of out of our Blackness. And I think this is a perfect example. Right. And I think the example is wild because it’s an example about bringing more Black bodies into the world. Um. But I will say, um just for our audience, if you all want to learn more about this, I would highly recommend you to go to Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Donate. Black Mamas Matter. It centers Black mamas and birthing people to advocate, drive, research, build power and shift culture for Black maternal health rights and justice. You can follow them on Instagram. They’re amazing. Um. There’s a lot of resources there for for everyone. But I think this is something that needs to be on everybody’s on the top of everybody’s advocacy list because it is something that is just so wildly racist. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah, that this a lot of times I get like slack from certain people about why like I care so much about culture and storytelling and media and stuff like that, it’s because I know that racism at the end of the day is based in stories and it’s big in white supremacy and domination’s based on stories and stories that we tell that we engage with. Um. And this to me, is one of those things where, yeah, you can’t class your way out of the circumstance because there’s like a story being told around Black women, around pain, around honesty and and and the honesty around [?] we feel about our bodies that can’t be transcended because of money. You know, and this story is proof of that. And like, to me, the only resolve that like a immediate resolve of this is that you have to. If you have the wealth to be able to be really picky because it’s just not you can’t do this if you if you if you don’t have the wealth to do it, but if you have the wealth to really make sure that the person who is dealing with you is another Black person, who sees you as human. That might be worth the extra money, cause it might be worth your life. You really have to make sure that you are, whoever is dealing with your body is somebody else who sees you as a human sometimes that maybe that could even transcend being the best person who is birthed the best white person who’s like birthing babies on your block might not be the person for you. You might be better off with a person who’s maybe not as acclaimed, but who’s Black, who sees you as a person because they might just listen to you better. And that’s what to me, this is telling like the stories that we tell ourselves around people of different races. Is is is is lethal and it’s real and it is showing up and yeah. It’s not going to be, and it’s not to be transcended with a dollar amount ever. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. And Myles what you’re saying anecdotally is actually a statistic like we know that Black babies die more when they are in the care of white doctors. Like that is a statistical fact which is also wild. 

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. So sometimes you can’t go by like who’s the best doctor statistically because if the white people are part of that statistic, you kind of have to make your own statistics. You got to make your own data, you got to make your own choices that are based off of um, you know, politics and culture. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Mhm. And we should at, at some point just put a collection of resources together um in this space. 

 

Myles Johnson: For for Mother’s Day. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. Yes. That’s what we’ll do. That’s what we’ll do. [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 and 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 is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Charlotte Landes. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles Johnson. 

 

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