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December 20, 2022
Pod Save The People
Practice Patience

In This Episode

DeRay, Myles, De’Ara and Kaya  cover the underreported news of the week— including organ thieves, former slaveowners in US Congress, Native American business directory and Lizzo recreates the famous Annie Lee painting Blue Monday.








DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it’s me, De’Ara, Myles, and Kaya talking about things that you don’t know from the past week, the under-reported news with regard to race, justice, and equity that you should know but you didn’t hear about and just so you know, Pod Save the People will be on holiday break for the next two weeks. So be safe and we will see you in the new year. My advice is to be patient. You know, I’m more patient than I’ve ever been. Let me tell you, patience wasn’t always a gift of mine. And in some of the newer relationships that I formed, friendships that arised, I’ve just been so much more patient with people. Like, not letting them take advantage of me. Like boundaries all clear, but just like, patient, and it’s really worked out. So I’m sharing that. [music break]


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 at @pharaohrapture


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


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


De’Ara Balenger: So as usual, lots going on. But I’m going to start with the joyful aspects of what’s going on. Woop woop the World Cup. I learned after nearly eight years with my partner that she’s a soccer fan. [laughter] Who knew? Wow. All of a sudden, it was like this and this and that and did you see this, did you, No, I didn’t. I’m sorry. Anyhoo–


Kaya Henderson: The world cup– 


De’Ara Balenger: I did get excited. 


Kaya Henderson: The World Cup only happens every four years, so maybe four years ago–


De’Ara Balenger: Okay so maybe this– 


Kaya Henderson: –you just weren’t paying attention. 


De’Ara Balenger: That maybe that’s it. [laugh] Maybe that’s it. Maybe we were separated by by water and and some other things. But–


Kaya Henderson: And there are lots of people who don’t even clock in on soccer or football or whatever you call it, until the World Cup. So that’s actually reasonable. Like she might not watch soccer all the time, but people totally like click in on the World Cup. 


De’Ara Balenger: Thank you Kaya for explaining [laughter] away my marital problems. [laughter] But I did get interested in the Morocco-France situation. I really was interested in that. And I was like, Ooh, what’s going to happen here? And then I kind of lost interest with France and Argentina because I’m like, you know, mm same, same, but um– 


Kaya Henderson: Not not exactly– 


De’Ara Balenger: You know–


Kaya Henderson: –Same same. A little, a little. 


De’Ara Balenger: I mean. 


Kaya Henderson: You know. [?] like so–


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah I mean. There’s– 


Kaya Henderson: One. Shout out to the Moroccans for like declaring– 


De’Ara Balenger: Big huge– 


Kaya Henderson: –Their Africanness. 


De’Ara Balenger: Because that was like they were cause isn’t it true that no non European country has won the World Cup? Isn’t that a thing? Or it happens infrequently? 


Kaya Henderson: No, no. Because Brazil has won the World Cup.


Myles Johnson: Let’s just make–


Kaya Henderson: That’s not– 


Myles Johnson: –Let’s just make it up. Let’s just start here.


Kaya Henderson: Right, right, right. But– 


De’Ara Balenger: I mean yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: But, but no African country–


De’Ara Balenger: –Cause also our audience isn”t gonna know either. 


Kaya Henderson: But– [laughing]


De’Ara Balenger: They’re gonna be like uh.


Kaya Henderson: That’s not true. Don’t underestimate our audience. But uh like but no African country has won the World Cup. And I think Morocco– 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s what it is Kaya. 


Kaya Henderson: –has gotten the closest. 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s what it its. 


Kaya Henderson: Uh. Morocco just got the closest and declared their Africanness. When people tried to put them in the Arab box– 


De’Ara Balenger: –I didn’t know. [?] 


Kaya Henderson: They were like, No, sorry, we are an African country, which woop woop you know, it’s not a whole lot of people who are willing to claim that like that. And then it was going to be interesting because France, the former colonizer of Morocco and Morocco, like, you know, people were everybody in my world because, you know, we root for everybody Black. We’re like, we want Morocco to win. But also, if France wins, if Mbappé like Mbappé is killing it. So there’s also that. And so for me, there was a lot of like angst about even the colonizing countries. Like their teams are all Black and what not so–


De’Ara Balenger: All Black. 


Kaya Henderson: You can’t not exactly root against them. Right. Because you want the Black boys to win. Um. 


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 


Kaya Henderson: It was interesting. But Argentina, Messi got his long awaited World Cup thing, which was good. Myles, DeRay– 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah because he’s been playing for– 


Kaya Henderson: –join us. 


De’Ara Balenger: –a long, long time. 


Myles Johnson: The the sports conversation. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah I’m literally. I was literally I was at [?]–


Myles Johnson: I’m over here like was Beyonce performing at the halfbowl? 


DeRay Mckesson: At the half point. 


Myles Johnson: Like what’s going on. Is there is there [?]–


DeRay Mckesson: I was at a place I was like– [laughter]


Myles Johnson: [?]


DeRay Mckesson: I was at a place while they were watching and they were very excited and I want the Black guy to win like Mbappé. I know him. I like know who he is because he’s young, he’s so young and so Black. Um. And I saw those images that were like, this is what the team would look like without immigration. And I was like, Exactly. Nobody. 


Kaya Henderson: Totally. But I also saw a thing that said, you know, he’s his family is Cameroonian. And I guess his dad wanted him to play for the Cameroon team. But the people were like, You got to pay us to put him on the team. And in France, they were like, come on, like, get with it. You’re an elite soccer player. And so in order to get on teams in Africa, apparently you have to pay bribes. I was reading this article this morning, and so a lot of the elite players are like, bump it I’m just gonna go to the colonizers because they, you know, accept us for free. And so, I mean, soccer is super corrupt. 


Myles Johnson: Oh so you have to pay to play. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles Johnson: Got it. 


Kaya Henderson: In in African countries it seems. 


De’Ara Balenger: That. Well, that’s also giving me Rutgers energy. So I feel like dotted line. [laughing]


Kaya Henderson: I love this because like we don’t like people everybody doesn’t watch soccer. But it’s not just soccer, right? Like it’s world history. It’s human rights. It’s like all of these things– 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: –wrapped up in one. 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. 


Myles Johnson: It still doesn’t have a halftime show. 


Kaya Henderson: [laughing] We we are going to work on that. We’re going to work on that, Myles, so that um you can be the– 


De’Ara Balenger: Wow. 


Myles Johnson: You know–


Kaya Henderson: –producer. How about that?


Myles Johnson: I would love that. I would love that. 


Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm.


Myles Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Since we’re so connected to FIFA. Us, the four of us. 


Myles Johnson: Yeah. You know, you got to put it, [?] it’s called manifesting. 


Kaya Henderson: Okay. Can I add one other thing? Um. And that is, did you all see this poll that your friend Elon Musk did on Twitter asking people if he should step down or stay in charge and–


Myles Johnson: Who who here for you talking about DeRay?


Kaya Henderson: –saying that he would– 


DeRay Mckesson: Yikes! 


Kaya Henderson: Saying that– [laughter] 


DeRay Mckesson: Shocked. 


Myles Johnson: I’m a Instagram– 


DeRay Mckesson: [?] baby. 


Myles Johnson: I’m an Instagram baddie. [laughter] I’m an Instagram baddie now 100%. 


De’Ara Balenger: Also Myles, your Instagram is I can’t get enough. I’m getting ready to start reposting your posts to my to my– 


Myles Johnson: Okay. 


De’Ara Balenger: So just get ready for that. 


Myles Johnson: It’s a whole rebrand.


De’Ara Balenger: If it gets to be too much. Just tell me. 


Myles Johnson: No do it. 


Kaya Henderson: A whole rebrand. 


Myles Johnson: Twitter never happened. No bad news over here. [laughter] The wiz. [laughing]


Kaya Henderson: I will say on my auntie text thread that chit chats every day. Myles is the new fave. People are like, I just love Myles. He’s so funny. 


De’Ara Balenger: Aw. 


Kaya Henderson: I just love Myles. He’s so relevant. He’s so blah blah. Ain’t nobody thinking about Myles, what you talking about. [laughter]


Myles Johnson: [?] I wanna have a whole, I want to have a whole din, that I want to have a whole dinner. I want you all to [?]. [laughter] I can. I can never get enough.


Kaya Henderson: Come look. Come on down. Because the girls are feeling Myles. Nephew Myles. 


Myles Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm. Mmm.


Myles Johnson: I’m beaming.


Kaya Henderson: So the poll was he was asking, you know, should he step down or not? And he said that he was going to abide by the will of the people. And he closed the poll pretty quickly. But last I looked, 57% of the people said he should step down. And so it remains to be seen what will happen. 


Myles Johnson: What what’s I’m so interested in your um in in what you’re thinking DeRay. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. So I think that Elon is a really big troll and he gets the game. Tesla stock is tumbling and I think the Tesla board is like hey buddy. You got to get it together. So he’s going to step down as CEO this week anyway, the poll was just his way of like getting engagement on the platform. So I think that that is I think that’s what’s happening here. It’ll be interesting, though, because, you know, people think that this is actually the prelude to bankruptcy, that he is going to, you know, the Twitter is going to go bankrupt and then he’ll be able to sell it or just close it. Um. And that is sort of wild. But I’ve heard I’ve heard in Silicon Valley, somebody who is, you know, is a is a big person in Silicon valley, that there are two big companies that are looking to buy it at a discounted price that like when it goes bankrupt, that like, you know, one of the big tech firms that’s not a Facebook cause they ain’t never be able to buy it because of antitrust laws. Uh. Will try and buy Twitter at a really reduced price. 


Kaya Henderson: This is fascinating. 


De’Ara Balenger: I wish a Black rich person would buy it because I just– 


Kaya Henderson: Girl. 


De’Ara Balenger: –feel like the Black Twitter of it all is so important. And it let’s just, can we make it ours? Please. Anybody listening? 


Kaya Henderson: Mm. 


De’Ara Balenger: Maybe Bob Johnson. He went to the dark side. Maybe he would think it’s a good idea. 


Kaya Henderson: DeRay. What will Elon Musk have gained by buying Twitter, bankrupting it, and then selling it to somebody else? Like, will he make money? You know these are–


DeRay Mckesson: –No. 


Kaya Henderson: –the business things, I don’t–


DeRay Mckesson: No. He won’t make money I this financially. I don’t I don’t think there’s a good explanation. But I do think if you’re trying to dismantle one of the most effective tools on the left, this is it, you know. So. 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah, but if somebody else buys it right, like it’s not done. And I and I think if he leaves, people may come back. Right? Right. Myles? No. 


Myles Johnson: No. I no–


Kaya Henderson: Instagram is it. Okay okay okay.


Myles Johnson: I’m I’m, Yeah, I’m trying to I’m trying to bridge back to TikTok. No, I think that um I think that DeRay’s right. Like, I think that if it just it’s just so, in all seriousness, it’s just so toxic. And it’s just it was just it’s just such an exhausting platform that, of course, if things were, like, edited, I would like come back and, you know, give my opinion every now and then cause I wasn’t even overly using it. But it just did not make, you know, the, you know, the at, the um, the metaphor, the, the, the, the, the poop was bigger than the cat? I’m like, why or like, why? Put your why put yourself through it like it’s not worth it. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah, I think that um. But you know, like suspending all those journalists the other day who criticized him, it’s like you really could just silence a whole set of people, um but but, yeah, and I think that he really did think he was a genius. I think that Elon like, legitimately wakes up and is like, I can do this better than anybody. Da da da da da, and I think the world has realized, Boo, you ain’t you ain’t got it. 


Kaya Henderson: Well, on a large global stage. Mm hmm. Yeah. Fascinating. 


Myles Johnson: Can we talk about H.E.R.?


De’Ara Balenger: Please. You mean Gabriella Wilson? 


Myles Johnson: Okay. Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Is that her name? 


De’Ara Balenger: Gabriella. 


Kaya Henderson: I didn’t know that. 


De’Ara Balenger: Beautiful. Just beautiful. 


Kaya Henderson: Look at that.


Myles Johnson: Okay. 


De’Ara Balenger: Always been a princess. 


Myles Johnson: I I I love the revealing of of of H.E.R. A.K.A. Gabriella. Gabriella Wilson. I’m on– I’m always going to call her H.E.R. in my in in in in my world because she got me through some deep, dark, shadowy nights. Um. She, [laugh] she played Belle from Beauty and the Beast, which is amazing. I cried. I was very sensitive. I’m already. It’s holidays. I’m mushy. I’m soft and pink. So once I see something happen, like a fairy tale and the holidays are going and then, um you know, my boyfriend sneezes and the puppy barks and I’m like, ho ho ho life is but a fairy tale. And it just was so cool to see her play Belle and and a type of princess. And I know everybody says this. But I do think, you know, when Brandy was Cinderella. And even when Keke Palmer played um her role as Cinderella too, it looks like they kind of maybe conformed a little bit or just like played the the Disney Princess role really well. But Belle had this moment um in this rendition of uh story, Story as old as time about, well, let me not sing the whole thing, child, cause Disney’s not about to sue me, but the [laughing] the theme of Beauty and the Beast. She’s singing. And then at the um the reprise, she comes out in like pants and with the electric guitar and her yellow shades. So she kind of like Funkadelic’d up her um the the Belle’s gown and she comes down. And that’s really when I cracked. I was like, Wow, what a cool thing to see somebody get such an iconic role that is just the icon of like of just beauty and and femininity and just make it her own. And I was so emotional. I I love it. It was uh, did y’all see it?


DeRay Mckesson: It was also one of the first times that I really listened to the words, I don’t know why the Disney version. I just you know this, you know the tune, you know the but when H.E.R. was singing, I was like, let me listen. I’m like, this really is a love song. C’mon H.E.R. And, and and Josh Groban. [laughter] Josh Groban was singing, I was like come on, Josh, he really was. 


Myles Johnson: Hold on. 


Kaya Henderson: Groban is real. 


Myles Johnson: Hold on.


Kaya Henderson: He’s the real deal. 


Myles Johnson: He’s like, you not about to embarrass me. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. What am I watching this on? I’m going to watch this this week. 


DeRay Mckesson: I saw it on Twitter. 


Kaya Henderson: It, okay. [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: It’s on. I can not. It’s A– it’s on ABC. So ABC’s Beauty and the Beast, their 30th celebration. 


Kaya Henderson: Okay. 


De’Ara Balenger: Josh Groban plays The Beast. But good for H.E.R. Thank you, Gabriella, for all that you’re doing for little Black girls everywhere. 


Myles Johnson: My news, because I’m always going to need to bring the bit of sunshine and brightness into the into the news portion of the of the show is Lizzo. I love Lizzo. She’s so cool to me. You know, like as a plus size, I don’t know what we call these [indistinct] that’s a fat person child, um [?] [laughter] in this world. I love seeing Lizzo on stage representing me and taking up space um and being unapologetic about not just her quote unquote “Blackness”, but then also about her size and all the things that come with come with that, too. She just has always been a really big inspiration for me. I got her t shirt that says um, you’re special spray painted and you can all look at it when I need to remind myself that I’m special. So one of the things that I think is just so brilliant that when Black artist’s decide to do it is when they gain fame and they decide to speak directly to a very specific Blackness that just makes you feel like, Oh, my God, this person’s talking to me. Not generally or I’m I’m not, you know, shout out to Obama. But that that whole I’m not a Black president. I’m everybody’s president. I like when my pop stars say, Oh, I’m a Black pop star. I’m a pop star for Black people. And you kind of do that with the iconography that you in the art in the art that you um, everybody’s gagging. But you do that with the um with the with the art and the references that you put into your performances, specifically when you’re on the big stage, say all this to say is Lizzo performed on the SNL stage, and she recreates the Annie Lee Blue Monday painting. This is maybe short of like Ernie Barnes’s sugar shack. This is one of the more prominent and just uh ubiquitous images in the Black culture sphere. And we all know it and it feels so it felt so good. I’m getting chills even talking about it. It felt so good to see Lizzo decide to recreate that in her performance and down to the bantu knots, down to the the uneven shoulder and then in the down low, she really got it to a tee and it felt like she was talking to me. Aka, She was talking to us. And I, I just love when Black artists decide to center and recreate those um type of images. Because also what it does is, you know, I was looking at some Annie Lee stuff, and you know. I want. I wanted to I’m I’m just going to go ahead and buy it now because I don’t want it to, because she’s she’s known for making art of everyday Black people, but then also she’s known of making figurines and all these other stuff and sometimes when Black artists do do stuff like that, the price of it goes up, which is, you know, great for collectors and stuff like that. But then also it can get kind of, you know, scarce in in in and not accessible for us. So I want to go ahead and grab that. But either way, it [?] it reminds people of who these people are, people who maybe aren’t in the um canon that’s preserved by museums and galleries. It reminds people it preserves them and and elevates them and exalts them in a way that I think is really important. And I don’t know just shout out to Lizzo for doing that. It was just uh and it trying to give this compliment without dissing anybody else. It just came from a pure place of celebrating Black art and recreating something, and it didn’t feel performative or contrived. It just felt like an honest celebration of a Black thing, which I thought was extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely refreshing. Did you did you all see the performance? How much do you love Lizzo? Does anybody know Lizzo? Can anybody connect me with Lizzo? Does anybody have [?] [laugh] Has Lizzo tried Sweet chick in Brooklyn? Does Lizzo know that I am free at three p.m. to go there? Who let’s let’s let’s let’s let’s work this out, my well-connected uncles and aunts. [laughing]


De’Ara Balenger: Well, we do know Lizzo. 


Myles Johnson: Hold on. 


De’Ara Balenger: Of her, of her work. 


Myles Johnson: Oh. Gosh.


Kaya Henderson: That’s not. That was not the question De’Ara. 


DeRay Mckesson: Right. That was definitely the Auntie response.


Kaya Henderson: That’s the that’s the auntie response. Yeah, we know who Lizzo is. No no. He’s saying y’all networked, connected people who can get him to–


DeRay Mckesson: I’ve met her, but I do not know her.


Kaya Henderson: –Lizzo. 


Myles Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: That is the question. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, she’s at it at Atlantic Records. Where my best friend Kendra Ellis is, shout out to Kendra Ellis. 


Myles Johnson: Now we’re moving. 


De’Ara Balenger: Um. Kendra–


Kaya Henderson: Kendra you bout to get a phone call. 


De’Ara Balenger: Kendra hasn’t let, Kendra is also the person who sent my mom silk sonic roller skates and my mom fell in the skates, obviously. Why are you sending my mama roller skates? And the other thing is, Kendra hasn’t let me go to work with her for a very long time because she says I embarrass her at work in front of the celebrities. 


Myles Johnson: Well, I won’t.


De’Ara Balenger: I don’t believe her [?].


Myles Johnson: I won’t I won’t embarrass her. I am cute. I am sheek. I am articulate and I’m hip. And I [?]. [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: Yes, sheek. 


Myles Johnson: I will fit right in.  


DeRay Mckesson: I am sheek. 


Kaya Henderson: Cute, sheek, articulate–


DeRay Mckesson: Sheek [unclear]. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: [?] Well, I will say the thing about this. I did not know. So I knew Blue Monday I because it is iconic, we’ve all seen it. I’d never seen any other piece of art by Annie Lee. Like, I just hadn’t. I, like, hadn’t. 


Myles Johnson: Mmm. [gasp]. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well wait well hadn’t you seen like the the kitchen table. The aunties at the kitchen table. 


DeRay Mckesson: Have I? 


Kaya Henderson: Y’all are too young. 


De’Ara Balenger: Have you seen that one? 


DeRay Mckesson: I don’t know.


Kaya Henderson: You’re too young. 


De’Ara Balenger: I grew up, Kaya no–


Kaya Henderson: If you grew up in the nineties. 


De’Ara Balenger: Not me. Cause’ it’s very like–


Kaya Henderson: Every Black woman in America–


De’Ara Balenger: –Ernie Barnes as well. Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: Every Black woman in America had a Annie Lee figurine, greeting card–


DeRay Mckesson: No.


Kaya Henderson: –piece of art. 


DeRay Mckesson: I just knew this one. 


Kaya Henderson: Calendar. 


DeRay Mckesson: This was the only one I knew. 


Kaya Henderson: Something. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: There’s the one with the tennis player scratching her booty. There’s church ones. There’s all kinds of, I mean there’s a bunch of them. And I thought it was amazing because, you know, a piece of art, a picture is stagnant and somehow or another Lizzo connected this feeling that the story is, you know, Annie Lee was some [?] I think she was like an engineer or something working in a factory in someplace cold and had to get up in the morning, take the bus to work and, you know, blah sad working Black woman stuff and she was one day got up and was just like I it like does anybody else feel like I feel that was the impetus for Blue Monday. And Lizzo, in her artistic brilliance, tooks this stagnant thing and brought it to life with her song Break up Twice? 


Myles Johnson: Yes. Breakup– 


Kaya Henderson: Second break up, something about breakup twice. Mmm. Why do you want to do that anyway um. [laughing] 


Myles Johnson: Oooh the aunties are loud on this episode. The auntie turned up to the max.


Kaya Henderson: I thought it was brilliant that she brought this thing to life in a new incarnation with this song. And um it was. It was lovely. I Myles, like you. I was like, Oh, yeah, she’s talking to me like, this is for us. I know that the white people watching this have no idea what is going on and they just think this is a great song and blah blah blah. But the signaling and the embracing of our culture and the hoo. Yeah, it was lovely. 


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




De’Ara Balenger: Well, everyone. You know, I was going to Minnesota. I survived. And while I was in Minnesota, I picked up a couple of local newspapers because, you know, we cover a lot of national news. But I also think it’s really fascinating, like just to get hyper, hyper local. Um. And so I’m actually like literally, like I have the papers with me. I brought them to London, which is where I am now. One of the papers is, is a Native paper and there’s a huge Native community in Minneapolis, um if y’all didn’t know. And so this publication is called The Circle, and it’s Native American News and Arts. And so what I found interesting on the front cover of this paper was a business resources directory for for Native folks, so it was basically like in anticipation of the holidays and gift shopping and all of that. Um. It’s a full directory of places where you can buy from Native artists, buy really beautiful pieces of art, crafts, jewelry, etc., etc.. So I just wanted to bring that to the pod because I feel, you know, I’m a Black entrepreneur. I spend a lot of time on closing the racial wealth gap. And I think what’s often forgotten is how, you know, I could do better, we could do better and doing it in a unified way and understanding that some, you know, just the amount of attention, even though it’s late and we need more, that has gone into supporting Black business and Black entrepreneurship. I don’t think I’ve seen one thing out there from a bank, from a brand, you name it, that has dedicated or committed some time or energy into Indigenous or Native owned businesses. So I wanted to bring it to the pod, I wanted all y’all to check it out, you know, support these businesses as best as we can. And I just thought this was a good resource for all of us, just like a publication by and of Native people. So that was my first little Minnesota piece of news. And the other one is that there are two Black mayors now that have been elected in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. So Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park have significant Black populations. And so, I mean, it’s like nearly 30% or something. But we remember in Brooklyn Center is where Daunte Wright was killed. And so I just I thought this conversation with these, you know, this it’s not the first time there’s a Black mayor. But I do think it was just interesting. It seemed to be that like both of them had platforms of like, you know, anti-crime. Um. So just I’m just, you know, I want to follow closely what’s going to happen in Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center. DeRay, I know you spent some time in Minnesota, so you’re always interested in what’s happening there. An interesting so the mayor April Graves of Brooklyn Park. Myles to your point around Lizzo wanting just saying I’m a Black pop star, I started to dig into April Graves a little bit and April’s like, you know, I’m not just a Black mayor. I have a white mom, girl and I’m Native. And so I’m a mayor for every, girl, you in Minnesota. So I found that to be really, really interesting, too, given the politics I know around people of color in in Minnesota. But all that to say, I just wanted to share these two pieces of news with y’all because I got to Minnesota, it was a great time and I just feel like there’s a lot happening there and there’s a lot of activism. There’s a lot of movement in the right direction. Um. And just wanted to share it with y’all. 


Myles Johnson: To your point I just don’t understand in like this day and age how certain like how certain things are even said anymore. You know, I think that one thing that’s kind of true from the right or left and, you know, I can be corrected on this is that it seems as though no matter how far on the right or left that you are or anything in between is that people now are being want uh don’t want general leadership. They don’t want people who are trying to be everyone for everybody. They want people who are saying, I’m an individual person whose come from this experience and I’m advocating for people who are either like me or who people in their own way can relate to it. So I just it just feels like people are stuck in a time machine who continue to try to gain political power by like um whitewashing general washing, making themselves as uh as universal as possible. People are really getting substantial like growth politically through being subjective, through being like, no, I went through this experience. It’s very specific to me and I’m here and I’m your superhero and or and or you can relate to me because my subjective experience is what’s making me universal. I think I’m constantly thinking about, you know, AOC and that whole crew who got who got elected. It seems as though they got most advancement from being just so themselves and and unapologetically attached to their identity and their histories. And that’s what gave them um advancement. And then, you know, the same thing with people on the whole on the right, they’re like, no, we don’t. I don’t relate to them. I’m not I’m I’m relating to you at home and the and the coal miners and everybody else we’re not gonna talk about. So it’s just amazing when um people of color decide to still play that old that old I’m sorry, but that old Obama game, I’m like, that’s done. That’s over. 


DeRay Mckesson: I do think um De’Ara, one of the things so I I do know Brooklyn Center and I um and I know that part of town and Minneapolis, and Minnesota and it’s just a reminder that we don’t pay enough attention to the suburbs. So much of the convers–, so much of the article, so much of the news is like city so much of the so many of the reporters in cities, so much of their written word is in the city. So really, people only go to the suburbs when there’s a crisis or like especially the small suburbs, but more and more Black people are living in the suburbs. And, you know, the police are killing more people in the suburbs than in cities, stuff like that. And I and I think that the media landscape has not shifted to tell those stories, to push, to demand equity, those sort of things. But the people are actually there in big numbers in tight communities, uh and I’m hoping that that gets better over time. 


Kaya Henderson: Y’all gotta stop talking about my forever president badly because I think [laughter] um I mean, I think it’s interesting to watch, you know, people who try to unite. I think the you know, I think that I’m everybody’s president is an attempt to say, you know, we’re more than our differences. There are some commonalities and stuff. And that might be your political thing or it might not be. Uh. But I think there are enough people who are interested in that. And like, let’s just be clear, we have had some some interest based political leaders who are as bad as the unifying, universal or whatever you want to call these other folks. So um whatever. I just have to stick up for my forever president because I’m a Obama stan. Sorry, y’all. I’m not sorry. I just am. 


Myles Johnson: Yes. [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: De’Ara. Thanks. I think local politics matters a lot. I think there’s a lot of you know, when I think about young Black mayors, first of all, the four mayors, I think of our largest cities in America are Black right now and not just our largest cities. There are lots of young Black mayors who are being elected all across the country. And I am prayerful for those folks because, you know, once we get in leadership, if we do anything wrong, color outside the lines, fall off the curb, whatever. Right. That’s the reason to never, ever elect, you know, Black leadership again. We went through it in the sixties and now we’re back. But I hope that these folks get the support that they need, the grace that they need, because they’re running, because they want to lead differently, because a lot of the leadership that has been in place hasn’t worked for us and for other people. And so I’m out here cheering for the young Black mayors. I hope it works out. I hope they get the support that they need. And and that we rally around them the way we rally around these other folks who are not in our interest. So my article this week is about a family in Virginia called the Coles family. Actually, let me back up. The prequel to this story is um there was a woman who, a Washington Post reporter, who decided that she should figure out who in Congress owned slaves and lo and behold, she combed through records and found that 1800 of your Congress people um enslaved Black people. And she put together a whole catalog and talked about who the people were and how they voted on laws that were in the interest of them enriching themselves and and whatnot. And it’s a fascinating online archive, if you ever want to check it out. But part of that research led to this story about the Coles family um in Virginia, who um the patriarch of the Coles family, Walter Coles, bought almost 6000 acres worth of land in Virginia and um he fought in the Revolutionary War, later became a congressman. Walter Coles bequeathed this land, six generations of Coles have lived on this land and many of the people that they enslaved and their descendants as well. And the article is about this family and the conundrum that they find themselves in. Actually, they are not in a conundrum. They are very clear about that what they want to do. But the land that the Coles family owns, which still today looks pretty much like it, looked back in the day. Um. Walter Coles the fifth, I think fifth or sixth. A Walter Coles and his wife have lived in that thing since the very beginning, including up till now. So Walter Coles, the fifth or sixth, is currently living there. He’s 84 and much of it remains the way it is, the way it was during enslavement. Well, it turns out that this piece of property is sitting on one of the largest uranium deposits in North America, and it is worth billions of dollars. If they can figure out how to excavate the uranium, they actually know how to excavate the uranium. But there is a law in the state of Virginia that precludes or prohibits the mining of uranium because previously there were far too many side effects when you mined uranium. Uranium is what is used for a nuclear fuel and nuclear energy. And in this moment of climate change it’s actually very inexpensive. Nuclear energy is very inexpensive. It’s a long term solution to some of the climate issues that we face. Um. And so if you can get in here and pull this stuff out the ground, um it’s worth billions of dollars. And they have not been able to do it because basically the Virginia laws are sort of outdated and speak to mining uranium when it was much more dangerous. But all over Europe, they’re mining uranium in very safe ways. And so the Coles family using all of their influence and money, which has come from the enrichment of themselves, they were tobacco farmers. They have petitioned all the way to the Supreme Court to get Virginia’s laws changed so that they could mine this uranium. They have not been successful. But the question that this article asks is what do you owe the descendants of the enslaved people who built this house, built this land, built this plantation, built the family’s wealth, which they are still enjoying today, and there are descendants of the people who were enslaved on the plantation, many of them, their last name is Coles as well. And these folks are not even under consideration for reaping part of the benefits. And the conversation with the current Walter Coles is sort of like, you know, yeah, we enslaved these people, but we did buy them like we paid a price for them and we bought the land. And, [shocked sound] you know, it would be so hard to figure out how to split this up amongst the descendants that, you know, it’s not and we’re not just we’re just not going to do that. And the attitude is so cavalier, it’s so condescending, it’s so dismissive. In fact, part of the the article discusses the fact that while many of the Coles were pro-slavery and many served in Congress and voted in their own interests. Um one of the Coles was anti-slavery and he actually freed the slaves that were left to him by his father. He became governor of Illinois but literally could not move into national politics because of his stance on slavery. And this Walter, the current Walter is like, yeah, I mean, I probably would have been where our people were, which was, you know. Yes, it’s amoral. But here we are. And so I’m going to vote in our interest. And so I brought this to the pod because at a time, you know, we’ve had lots of conversations about reparations. First of all, for me, I hope this family never gets to mine this uranium. I hope the uranium, I don’t know, dries up and disappears or something. But they’ve profited so much from the work of other people and the lives of the enslaved. But to watch white privilege when it has the chance to actually do right, actually not do right, and to continue to perpetuate the privilege and the condescendence and the disregard for the people who have made I mean, literally, he’s like, yeah, they made us wealthy. And like, that’s just life kind of thing. And so I think that in this moment where we’re so excited to have allies and people who recognize there are still a whole bunch of folks out here who deeply believe that what they have is theirs, nobody else should share in it. And it was a piece of history that I didn’t know. The Coles were one of the largest, the largest landholding families in Virginia, post-Revolutionary war and lots of this stuff still stands today. The companies that they’ve built, the houses that they’ve built and whatnot. So, you know, we want to talk about slavery being 400 years ago, but uh there are still impacts and effects that are happening right now in small places like Chatham, Virginia, which we don’t even think about. 


Myles Johnson: Uh uh, let’s let’s let’s let’s get a car and let’s talk in person. To them. That’s wild that like this is absolutely wild and my thing is so and this is not I’m trying not to be, you know, just playing semantics. But to me, like white privilege is, oh, I got a taxi quicker than you did. Right? Or whatever. This is white power. This is billions of dollars. Millions of dollars. This is white this this change, this type of money and wealth changes the trajectory of not just one life, but a legacy of lives. Some for the obviously for the for the for the fortunate, and some for the poorer. Like, that’s that’s like white power. Sometimes I think that white privilege is such a um it’s too light of a word for some for the power dynamics that we’re discussing um often. And wow. And this is also the reason how come you can not let. Yes, if you live in gentrified Brooklyn and you have, you live next to a white person who love artisanal cheeses and breads and they say hi to you. Sure, you probably can convince that white person to give you $20 or do something or do whatever they have to do to contribute to the community. That’s not who we talking about. These white people do not have that same moral compass because and they and they and this is a legacy. If you’re of the lineage of people who thought it was okay to enslave people, you can’t then think that magically that you’re going to wake up and generations later, have a change of heart. You’re still holding that same piece of amoral DNA in you. You know, I got it’s a little Hotep-y. But I just have to say it. [laughin]


DeRay Mckesson: As long as, you know, it’s a little Hotep-y. I’m [?]. 


Myles Johnson: There’s no scientific backing in that but– 


DeRay Mckesson: Definitely a little Hotep-y [?] But but I agree– 


Myles Johnson: [?]. It’s how I feel, you know, that’s just my science. But yeah, [laughter] I just don’t think that people, I just don’t think [laugh] I just don’t think people who who do have that legacy are going to magically you have to preserve the the the ethos of that, even though if it morphs, in my opinion. So that means you might be a little bit more of a tyrant when it comes to business, maybe a little bit more aloof or cold when it comes to hu– um human or empathetic um uh arguments and stuff like that. I do. I don’t think that just disappears in a family, just like I think that there are families who have done good and Black families who have always been warm in that, and we preserve that throughout the um generations too. This is wild, this is how come we can’t we we can’t we can’t ask them to do the right thing. It has to be law. It has to go through it has to come out in a way that is that is sanctioned because if up to them. Child. Like my hope they try. Try. We don’t know where to start. What if it starts, let’s try. [laughing]


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. And part of it, you know, when emancipation happened, slave owners were paid for the slaves, the enslaved people that were freed. So I think, Myles, to your part in terms of like the interjection intervention of government, like that’s what we need here, because you’re right. Like, if these folks had they’ve had hundred of years now, hundreds of years now to do the right thing. And they haven’t. And we’ve seen this and we’ve covered this, whether it’s, you know, land grabbing from Black people, whether it’s redlining, what it– slavery. Obviously, I just feel like when there’s an opportunity to do the wrong thing to us, that is what is going to happen. And so I think it is absolutely imperative to just look at how. Yes, like how has this family benefited from the institution of slavery, but how has the government been complicit in the building of this family’s wealth? Right. Like what has that looked like over time? Because that’s math and we can figure that out. 


DeRay Mckesson: I was just going to say to that point um to both your points, but De’Ara this idea of like it was like 5000 acres. I mean, it’s like this wasn’t even like three acres. Two acres. It’s like that is a you’re one of the biggest land owners in in the region. Forget the state. You own more money than the governments probably do. I mean, that is nuts. So to the idea of like government redistribution is like, you know, they will say it’s ours da da da, don’t worry, we redistribute it. You you took people and sold them. We could definitely take some of these acres. 


De’Ara Balenger: They do it all the time. 


DeRay Mckesson: And and and cut em up.


De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. 


Kaya Henderson: One of the things that was really interesting because, you know, you tell you have narratives that you tell yourself, this is what Walter Coles says in the article. He says it’s the article says, after emancipation, those who have been enslaved at Coles Hill found a way to prosper, buying land nearby and launching businesses Walter argues. Those slaves went up here and started a blacksmith shop and started a farm and they were growing tobacco. People given a chance, can be successful. They emerged from the Confederacy, struggling to be entrepreneurs. They came out of it pretty well. So, Walter, you think that those poor enslaved people who started a black ships, I mean, let’s just look at where they are versus where you are right now. 


De’Ara Balenger: You are. 


Kaya Henderson: Six generations of wealth behind you and these other folks who you won’t even acknowledge. But these are, you know, to Myles’s thing about immoral DNA, what you deeply think and believe. Right. Those things color– 


De’Ara Balenger: Yup. 


Kaya Henderson: –your actions. And so if you really believed that Black people did okay after the Confederacy, then of course you don’t think that you owe reparations. He says very clearly, I’d probably be on the side of slavery, he says. They were troubled about it, but they had so much tied to it. And that is the whole entire thing, right? Number one, you weren’t that troubled about it. The most important part is you have so much tied to it. And Walter, you do, too, right now. And so this is why we need government intervention around us. 


De’Ara Balenger: Shame on you. Shame on you, Walter Coles. Sorry. Sorry DeRay.


DeRay Mckesson: We’re going to try and get this author on the podcast because I’m I read this I read the beginning of this and was shocked. Organ Thieves. So I want to get him on the podcast. But, you know, we’ve talked about medical racism a ton, but this story I just had to bring here because again, I’m rarely like shocked by things. But in 1968, a 54 year old Black man named Bruce Tucker, he fell off of a brick ledge. He was a laborer and he died. He hit his head and he died. The next afternoon, May 25th, 1968, his heart was sewn into the chest of a white business executive named Joseph Klett at the Medical College of Virginia. It was one of the first heart transplants in the country, and it gave the medical school sort of a lot of prestige in the transplant community. But here’s the thing. Tucker’s family did not consent. They didn’t even learn about it until the funeral home told them that there was something going on with his body, namely that his body was missing kidneys and his heart. Y’all. Now we know about Tuskegee. We know about Henrietta Lacks. I just didn’t know about the history of stealing Black people’s organs to put them in white people’s bodies. Didn’t know, we gonna get we gonna get the guy who wrote the organ thieves book on the podcast, but uh I read this story and the article goes on and talks about other things in medical racism, but that just you know, there’s a part of it and Myles to Myles push around like white power versus white privilege is that there’s like an evilness and a dastardly ness and a that that like, comes with white supremacy that is just so wild. And I’m like, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that one of the first heart transplants in the United States was actually stealing the heart of a Black man. Wild. So I’m just bringing that here. 


Myles Johnson: You know, a a ray of sunshine as always. [laugh] And my first first initial reaction is we have to hide this from the playwrights. I’m going to I’m not going to hold you and the filmmakers. I do not  want to see this on stage. I think the book is enough. I think the article is enough. I want to keep this in the academic context. Please do not try to get your next Tony or Oscar off of this. We don’t we do not need this recreated. I could not get that thought out of my mind and it will stop me from getting to my um my next thought. And it also, I don’t know, like. Is there. I know there’s these individ– this is just a general question, but I know that there’s individual accounts of, you know, Henrietta Lacks in this situation. But is there any type of um or maybe this isn’t cause I haven’t I haven’t read the book, but is there any type of book that really lays out these situations and connects them to distress. You know what I mean? Or connects it to the COVID 19 situation and how the paternalism and the condescension around Black people happened. But then we also have the distrust about medical um the medical institutions. Are there any places that talk about these other situations that connect them to modern day distrust in um in the medical institutions? [?] just make them, that’s the, am I making sense? Like is and that’s the topic, [?] that’s the meat. Or a documentary or anything like that? 


Kaya Henderson: I think that’s a little bit of what this article is trying to do. Right. It takes you from takes you through everything from Tuskegee to, you know, grave robbers who took Black cadavers so that medical schools could have bodies to work on without Black people’s consent to the women who had to undergo forced sterilization. And in California prisons like the organ stealing the, you know, DNA, stealing, all of these things. And they and in the article, they go on to say and and and these like, basically, when a community has all of these stories of mistrust and misdeeds and mishandling by the medical community, that gets hardwired into your DNA. And so when it’s time to take you know, they talked about HIV and AIDS in the nineties, eighties and the nineties and COVID now, this is why we don’t trust vaccines. This is why we don’t get the health care that we need to get because we have all of these issues of mistrust. From modern day Serena Williams to like literally to, you know, Black women dying. Like when you hear a steady diet of of Black people being mistreated, it absolutely impacts the way you approach and receive health care um in your day to day life. And I think that the article goes out of its way to point that out. 


De’Ara Balenger: I think the other thing is it’s just this obsession with Black bodies, like the mystification of it. Like it is really wild. I remember learning about Sarah Baartman, who was also known as Hottentot Venus when I was in college, and I was like, Wait, what? So she was a performer, forced to perform. But then when she passed, her body parts were on display in a museum in Paris. Y’all. Her brain, skeleton, and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren’t repatriated and buried until 2002. Like this. It’s, like, sick. Like there’s a sickness around it. 


DeRay Mckesson: Wild. So we’re going to have him on the pod. We got to find the author of Organ Thieves because it blew my mind. [music break] Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. And we will see you next week. [music break] Pod Save the People was 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.