In This Episode
DeRay, Myles, De’Ara and Kaya cover the underreported news of the week— including accountability for celebrities and online harassment, the predatory nature of the parent plus loan, single mothers forced to reveal sexual histories or forfeit welfare benefits and a case for leaving America to escape racism.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People on this episode. It’s me, De’Ara, Kaya, Myles talking about all the news that you don’t know with regard to race, justice and equity. We talk about the things that didn’t bubble up in the national conversation, but you should be talking about. We talk about stock increases for companies hiring black CEOs, a school board’s attempt to hijack Black student podcast and what’s happening in nail salons, all stuff that we learned [car honk in background] and grew in. Today we’re just focusing on the news, interviews will be back shortly.
De’Ara Balenger: Family. Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save The People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @dearabalenger.
Myles Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson. You can find me at Instagram and Twitter at @pharaohrapture.
Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson on Twitter at @HendersonKaya.
DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay at @deray on Twitter.
De’Ara Balenger: Well, where do I even start with my Black Mexican self on today?
Kaya Henderson: Let’s start in L.A..
De’Ara Balenger: Let’s start in L.A. with the Mexican City Council president. How dare she? But quite believable. We’ve been having this whole national, really global conversation around, you know, all of the racism that happens within the Latino community. I grew up, as we know, well not grew I grew up in D.C., but my people are from Minnesota. Um. And we have a very mixed family um that is predominantly Black and Mexican. And I grew up in Minnesota feeling very held by the Mexican community there on the West Side. But any time I was outside of that very sheltered community with Latinos, it was always, oh, you’re Latina? Oh, you black? Oh, you don’t speak Spanish. I mean, I can go on and on and on and on. And so my whole life I felt the schism and the prejudice when it comes to Latino communities. And so. Still, though. I was shocked and surprised when I saw that the president of the city council calling Black boys monkeys, calling indigenous people, I think she said short and dark and ugly. It is wild. This is the most powerful person in local government in Los Angeles. Um. There was, I’m actually in L.A. now. There was a protest yesterday um that some indigenous organizers put together to protest, which I was also happy to see. But there’s still other folks that were involved in these conversations that still have their jobs. So it’ll be interesting to see how long they will be able to hold on to those jobs. Um. But, yeah, what do you what do you all think about this?
Myles Johnson: Goodness. You know, I. I always, always think it’s okay and right when something bad happens to somebody who said something bad. But the thing that I always rest on after the dust, after the dust settles over situations like this is what is the culture like that you said that? What is going on? So I can be outraged at the fact that it was said that you know all the things but the fact that you felt comfortable enough to say it means that there must be such a culture where this type of language and this type of um critique and this this just really like white supremacist talk, you know, you don’t have to be white to be a vehicle for white supremacy that kind of talk is appropriate. And that is where my cynicism comes in, um because she had to feel empowered to say it. She had to feel okay to say it. And that’s a that’s a culture thing. That’s a system thing. And I don’t I don’t I don’t I don’t know how many people you got to fire to fix that.
Kaya Henderson: Maybe I am just old and jaded, but I wasn’t actually shocked. Right. One, I know that. I mean, we know about colorism issues in the Latino community, um not just in the Latino community, in the Black community. Colourism, anti-Blackness, period, the end, right? Um. That’s clear. Um. And we know about power. To me, this was a total exercise in power. This was a group of Latinos who were working, the meeting was about consolidating their power in L.A. by literally dividing up communities in some places, that’s called gerrymandering, I guess, when it’s for voting purposes, but it feels similar. Making sure that there were assets move, trying to like move assets around and stuff like literally not taking the recommendations from the task force that is supposed to divide up the city so that they could divide up the city to consolidate their power um as Latinos. And and listen, I’m not throwing stones at that. Right. I read something which basically said that Latinos are, you know, whatever percentage of the population, but that their percentage of representation is much lower. And so, you know, they’re trying to consolidate power, be representative. And they thought they were with they family talking how families talk. And y’all, let’s just keep it real. Right. You talk very differently with your family then you do out in polite company. The problem is you don’t know who to trust and who not to trust. We all have these devices in our hands and somebody recorded that meeting well hot dog. I will say um it was interesting and I think a good reminder for people in power um to think about what you say, how you say it, what you do, how you do it. Um. We used to say, if you don’t want something to show up on the front page of the paper, don’t say it. Don’t write it. Don’t. Nothing. Right. It’s just that simple. And I think this lady forgot that. But I also was sort of amazed at I was amazed at the fallout of it. She was like, well, I’m stepping down from, you know, whatever the leadership role, but I’m not quitting my job. Then the president of the whole United States weighs in and was like, I think she should step down. What? Like what? I mean, I was literally was like, really? President Biden. Because there’s a whole lot of other people that you should call out, too, if that’s the case. Right. Like, I just thought that I like I’m I’m just sort of interested in how people perceive this thing because I think this thing is happening all the time. Right? That this is not an isolated incident. This is just one that got caught on a hot mic. Um. But I think this is happening all the time. I think lots of people in leadership are doing this. I think there is no color, you know, boundaries um yeah power anti-Blackness. Um. These are things that are happening on a day to day basis.
DeRay Mckesson: You know, it was it was it was interesting and still is interesting that she’s the only person who’s resigned from the council, that the other people implicated have not resigned from the council yet. And there are protesters outside of one of the guy’s houses and he’s just like riding strong, like I’m it is what it is. And it’s like, you know, it becomes untenable to work with people like, you know, there are lines even on this council where you’re like, this is that’s sort of wild. And and I appreciate the new city council president saying we just cannot do work with them on the council. I get, that makes total sense to me. It’s like, how do vo– how do you know you have no legitimacy. You need people to at least believe that y’all represent even if they don’t like you, they sort of are invested in uh the idea the system works. And there was a, I don’t know if you saw Game of Thrones last night, but there’s this great line uh where one of the women in it says to one of the people in power, she says, remember, you only have as much power as the people give you. And it was like it was, you know, people the people don’t always understand that until something like this happens. And you’re like, I get y’all shutting down every single, like, make it impossible to do work. Do you know what I mean, until these people go. And uh that was also, you know, you never know where your enemies are boo. Because whoever got that recording was close enough–
Kaya Henderson: Was in the room. In the room.
DeRay Mckesson: In the room. And I’ll tell you, when I worked for the school system, we had a whole fraud hotline and all this other stuff that never caught fraud. But let me tell you, the fraud, like people would call, we had auditors, I mean, and they they never really caught fraud. But the fraud hotline? When principals would be mean to people that they had done shady stuff with. Every time they called the hotline, it’d be like they just bought three uh refrigerators. They just [laughter] like all this stuff. They will call it in. And it was one of those things with like, Don’t be shady y’all, because it comes back.
De’Ara Balenger: And even I don’t know if y’all saw her resignation letter, but she almost like doubles down in it.
Myles Johnson: Well, it’s–
De’Ara Balenger: Like–
Kaya Henderson: Come on. [laughter]
Myles Johnson: He he he he was a monkey? Wow you doubled down.
De’Ara Balenger: There’s so many undertones there. That’s like, I’ve been fighting just for this specific segment to all the Latina girls. Yada, yada, yada, yada. To my–
DeRay Mckesson: And she’s like, I hope that I can be an inspiration.
De’Ara Balenger: Listen. To my staff. I’m sorry that we’re ending it this way. Ma’am. Oh, well, I don’t know. Maybe she can. Maybe her next step is to–
Myles Johnson: Whoa.
De’Ara Balenger: –Go get on Donald Trump’s reelection team.
Myles Johnson: I was going to say this sounds like the the the politics to Fox News pipeline.
De’Ara Balenger: Yep. Exactly. [laughter]
Myles Johnson: [indistinct] how it goes.
De’Ara Balenger: Knocking her door down. Knocking her door down. Okay.
Myles Johnson: Oh yeah. Yeah.
DeRay Mckesson: Or we’re–
De’Ara Balenger: Well–
DeRay Mckesson: –Going to get the essay. We’re going to get the essay from her about cancel culture. That’s actually what’s coming next.
De’Ara Balenger: That’s what’s coming next. Yeah. Um. You know, maybe cancel culture is just our theme for today because– [laughter]
Myles Johnson: It’s not working. [laughter]
De’Ara Balenger: Someone. Well. I feel like in the case of Kanye West, I feel like there was a time where I believe he just couldn’t get canceled. And now I’m just, I’m like, hmm, maybe we are on the right path to his cancellation. Perhaps. Perhaps. And, you know, I’m very much like, give people a second chance and let’s have a constructive conversation and let’s do the things.
Kaya Henderson: Listen, this brah where are the people who love him? Where are the people who love him? Where are they? My people would literally come to my house, put me in a straitjacket and take me somewhere in a bunker for a little while so that I don’t harm myself or anybody else any more. Where are the people who, you know, doesn’t doesn’t Donda have some brothers and sisters? Where are the aunties and uncles? Somebody’s just got to go get him.
DeRay Mckesson: The thing that I think is definitely working for the right is if you remember when Trump ran and they they released the thing that showed that he needed Black men, like he needed some subset of Black people. And Black women were not having it, but Black men were movable. This I thought about that this morning in the gym. This is the Black men strategy like Kanye is the is the Black men tool right now for the right. Because even though I tweeted about him and the number of Black men who were like, you know, he’s just speaking his mind da da da da. And I’m like, this is wild.
Myles Johnson: Yeah. I feel like I’ve said it countless times on this podcast, or at least like in my head, I’ve said it countless times, but I think there is going to come this so I’ve been consuming so much Candace Owens, I’m sorry, like so much Candace Owens so much Fox News, so much Kanye West uh what his last name, Tucker John. Not Chris Tucker, but yeah, chuckled Tucker Carlson. [laughter] Oh, oh yeah. [laughter] Oh. I’m like, I’m like I’m like, know thy enemy. Know know you labor month and I was one thing that and I’ve always said this and I’ve just casual conversations on the podcast is that oh Black people who are on the left are really going to have to contend with Black conservatism in a big way. It’s not just going to be these isolated, weird, who’s Clarence Thomas? Kanye West is crazy. Candace Owens, she don’t get her hair did who’s listening to her? There’s going to be a there’s going to be a uniform big wave of Black conservatism. And that’s what kind of motivated me to do it, because Black people are conservative. Black people have been having to vote Democratic because the Republicans have, you know, been so synonymous with white supremacy. But now that Trump is seen as like this far right weird sector, now that makes that actually gives room for Republicans to be more malleable. So now we can talk about I’m just being traditional. We’re not like, you know, it just gives you more space than when all all those things were on top of each other. Now that Trump has, like, made this this unspeakable you know subsection of of of of the right, you know, and I think a lot of Black people are into it. And I think a lot of those stats and if you talk well enough and you’re concise enough, I think a lot of those stats that they spew off, the fentanyl thing like that is just such a dog whistle. Like um George Floyd actually died from Fentanyl. That’s just something that like white people hear or excuse me, Republicans hear, [laughing] and unless you know more than anything that you know that you are both are on the same team. Just countless other things like like certain critiques of being um Black Lives Matter and stuff. Like, it’s just certain things that I’m hearing where I’m like, No, this is sort of laughable now, but I think this is going to be something that Black people that’s this is the next frontier. This is going to be the thing to have really have to deal with. Because Black people, because the other one that always rings in my head too is the um the, the, the, the abortion stats. Those like those that, like more Black babies are um being born are being um aborted than being born. And like these type of things, this, this is the indoctrination that happens. There’s some really good videos on TikTok from countless Black men who are in like what you would call [?] culture, which would be like these really Afrocentric men who who are kind of like Black nationalists who end up kind of [laugh] coinciding with like anti-Semitism and patriarchal ideology um before and like they have been enlightened out of it. But they talk about how they got for uh lack it just sounds like how they got brainwashed into this ideology. And I think that it’s happening in a high force and like, it kind of makes me scared about what voting’s going to look like. And I think that Black folks, specifically Black folks who believe in voting and who are on the left and who believe in government and who want that kind of organizing or um organizing have to pay attention to this, you know, if not Kanye, but the fact that like Kanye was on white Chris Tucker on Fox News. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Carlson Tucker.
Myles Johnson: Okay. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Tucker Carlson. Whatever. [laughter] I was like wait what.
Myles Johnson: It was just me doing disrespectful. [laughter] but I was like that’s what [indistinct].
De’Ara Balenger: But Myles, I think you’re right. I think you’re so right. And I mean, I think the other side of that coin is that the Democratic Party has no successful plan or strategy to reach Black men. And in fact, Black men as a cohort are usually a complete afterthought. Right? So and I think with Black women, they’re just like, you know, we don’t have to do much with Black women because we know they’re going to come out and Black men, since they’re not going to come out, why would we put any, why would we put any intention, time or resources into um, into you know, making this thing appealing for them. So I think you’re I think you’re really, really on to something because I think what is missing from the Democratic Party when it comes to Black men is just kind of a theme or or a narrative around opportunity making, right? So I just feel like and that and that’s what’s needed, right? It’s like resources, economic opportunities, blah, blah, blah. And I just don’t there’s just not there’s just not a prioritization of that community. There will be to your point, I feel like to your point, when it’s a total loss and we’re seeing this type of, you know, really like mainstream radicalization happening of like celebrity Black people. I mean, the biggest heartbreaker for me during the Trump era was Ice Cube.
Myles Johnson: Mmm.
De’Ara Balenger: That just broke my heart. Ooh mm mm mm. Because I love me some Ice Cube.
Kaya Henderson: Ice Cube, Little Wayne, T.D. Jakes like let’s not–
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah but like Lil Wayne, some of them, you know how some of these can [?].
Kaya Henderson: Steve Harvey.
De’Ara Balenger: [indistinct] some of them.
Kaya Henderson: All of these, listen, there is a very clear Black man strategy. Can we talk about Herschel Walker? Can we talk about Herschel Walker? Like on the day that these abortion allegations came out, donations to his campaign surged like they and and I read this article in the USA Today that was an opinion piece by some set of Republicans that basically were like, we don’t care if he, like, drowns baby eaglets like in the town square. Right?
Myles Johnson: Not the eaglets child.
Kaya Henderson: We are–
Myles Johnson: Not the eaglets.
Kaya Henderson: We are [laughter] we are we are we are electing this cat because like, this is about power. This is about us taking the Senate. We don’t care what he does, what he says, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, I I do think that the the right has a very clear Black man strategy um and they are winning with it. And we got to deal with that. And like, I mean, this I I read that Kanye is going to buy Parler, the conservative platform, so that he can keep on saying what he wants to say and doing what he wants to do. Um I Oooh, like is there? So this is I might, this is a real question, right? Like, you know, you read about people who have to go under conservatorship because they are not in, where when who triggers that process when does that happen?
Myles Johnson: But the thing about it is and I know and I know you’re not saying it to be like ableist or anything, is that I’ve been watching Kanye West’s videos, Kanye West is lucid. Kanye West is here and is a conservative. And I think that sometimes, you know, I love Britney Spears. I love that, that first 3 seconds of Toxic is my is my jam. [laughter] But I listen to Britney Spears talk and I’m like, I get how come it was put up in question. When I listen to Wendy Williams, I’m like, I get how we got there. When I listen to Kanye West, I hear a somebody who has been in a certain situation with the Kardashians, has had certain experiences, had the Clintons call the Kardashians about a vaccine. They’re in there watching Fox News and being and having a certain experience and being like, maybe these people are right. And already being you know, he did produce Jesus Walks. He’d has come from a middle class um background. He you’re kind of up in the air and now he’s a billionaire? I when I I implore anybody, I’m not saying to of course, I don’t think that you’ll absorb his politics, but really watch him speak. He’s not crazy. He’s not somebody who you would doubt his mental his mental faculties. He is just a newly conservative person who’s using his money, his platform, to espouse what he believes in.
Kaya Henderson: But I don’t think this is just about conservativism. Right. I think about the video of Pete that he did beheading Pete Davidson. I think about like the impact that the antics have on his children. Right. Like, I think taken as a whole. Right. There is he’s diminishing his business opportunities. Right. People are stopping doing, like the bank JP Morgan Chase said mm you’re going to have to find another place to put your billions of dollars. Right. So you’re you’re impeding your business opportunities. The impact on your kids is some– there’s just a whole I want us to look at this holistically, maybe from a political perspective, he’s fine and he gets to be conservative and do whatever. But I can’t help believing that we’re watching literally the unwinding of somebody. And and that doesn’t feel, that feels grimy to me, that, like, we’re all just kind of in the theater watching this thing happen to this person.
De’Ara Balenger: It’s like Whitney, you know what I mean? I feel–
Kaya Henderson: Yeah, yeah yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: I remember.
Kaya Henderson: Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: Like everyone laughing at Whitney when she came to the Grammys and she was super skinny and–
Kaya Henderson: Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: –Everybody thought it was so funny.
Kaya Henderson: Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: Like I feel like–
Kaya Henderson: It’s not cool.
De’Ara Balenger: –it’s also an issue that we have in our community around, you know, the dehumanization of of of celebrities.
Kaya Henderson: Black people.
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. And I think–
Kaya Henderson: Especially.
De’Ara Balenger: Especially. And Michael Jack– the same. So and I, I think Myles with Kanye though I think the and I’m not a doctor or a–
Myles Johnson: Mm hm.
De’Ara Balenger: –Psychiatrist, but I feel like the type of mental illness he has is, you know, there’s there’s been these linkages between, you know, creativity, people that have like supreme creativity with bipolar disorder. And and those people are tend to be more manic. And so I think part of part of whatever whatever it is that is contributing to this, whether it’s his narcissism, whether it’s bipolar disorder, whether whatever it is, I think I also have to, you know, to Kaya’s point, you know, kind of take a step back because he does seem to be very lucid. He does seem to be very um calculated in how he’s appearing in press, around what he’s saying. The sequences uh sequencing of what he’s saying, how he gets messaging out there. And I think, though, that that still can be totally related to him spiraling.
DeRay Mckesson: I was gonna say I agree with Myles on this one is that when did you see that [?] uh TMZ highlighted that he actually was this same sort of anti-Semitic way back in 2018, but they just edited it out? But they didn’t edit out the slavery as a choice comment. It was the same day he said slavery is a choice. They they kept slavery as a choice then, but they they edited out, I think he praised the Nazi Party, but they edited that out in 2018. And it’s like this has been here. We just didn’t we weren’t privy to it in the same way. And Trump had normalized like Trump. I agree with Myles, Trump made the far right so zany that the like not quite far right but still bad for Black people is less craz– like feels less wild to people. And I do think that that’s like the opening that Kanye’s in but I don’t think this is um I don’t think this is mental illness. I will also say, Ida my barber, um I was talking to my Barber the other day, and he said to me earnestly, he’s like 29. He goes, DeRay, how do I find out if I have health insurance? And I go, I mean, don’t you? Do you? He was like, I called, I was on the phone with somebody. And so we do this whole thing about Obamacare and like being able to go through the exchange and I’m like, I’ll help you log on to the website. But it was like once I explained Obamacare, and how the right’s trying to take it away, [?] he was like, Oh, that’s crazy. I totally but before we’ve had conversations where he’s been like not pro-Trump, but like, Oh, the left is being craz–. And I’m like, sir the only reason you have health insurance is because of and there is like I do think that men we have just like left men out of the equation in terms of the organizing and the education. And I continue to be shocked. The last thing I’ll say is that we did focus groups at campaign zero with men and women about mass incarceration. And it was so interesting because the women, their perspective was of the people who were home when everybody was locked up. So like all of the things we asked them, they were they were there, they were like in community. They had all these different, the men their perspective was from the people who were locked up and they did not over like the things that they thought were important were actually not the same things. And it was a reminder for us about like targeting the different communities is very different.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save The People is coming.
Myles Johnson: I was a young queer thing in middle school, and all I had was Rent, I had Rent, I had Glee. And then I also had Chicago. Chicago was one of the most captivating films that I’ve ever seen in my life. Um. Still a little disappointed that when now when I go to things called Speakeasys, they don’t not look like the scene in um all that jazz in Chicago. It’s probably one of the reasons why um I need to be a little bit medicated now because just adulthood has been disappointing. Chicago is just a phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal film and it has been a phenomenal musical. And one thing that I never, ever thought in my entire life that I would see is a Black trans woman playing Roxie Hart. That is just like the out of bounds of what things that I could think are possible. But here we are. And Angelica Ross has made it possible. She is the first Black trans woman to be Roxie Hart, I believe only the second Black woman second to Brandy Cinderella Norwood to be uh to [laughing] to be um to be Roxie Hart in general. And yeah, I just wanted to bring this to the podcast, because it just was good news. And I’ve known this for um a couple of like, like months now. I’ve been seeing everything happen and then sometimes I just consume good news and just get uh distracted by all the chaos going on in the world. But I just thought that was so cool. And I just thought it opened so many doors for, you know, Black Black trans women to do things that are outside of the bounds of of of stereotype. Um. My other friend Sis is in Oklahoma playing Addie. I’ve never seen Oklahoma, so I have no idea. But apparently that is a role that is traditionally going to a, you know, blond thin white women. And Sis is a proud, uh fat Black trans woman. And she’s playing um and she’s and she’s playing that role. And I just love this storm of, you know, Black trans folks taking over Broadway. And I hope that the fact that these are huge roles, I hope that we see more and more uh Black trans folks, Black queer folks um disrupt roles. I think it’s one thing when we get roles that are catered towards us or it is very easy to see us. And and and child if you sprinkle some tragedy on it, and a and a and a Ryan Murphy stamp, then like, okay, now, now we can see you in this role. We made this for you. I think it’s really interesting and radical to see something like Roxy Hart or see uh see a role in Oklahoma be disrupted by the Black trans voice and body and performance. Um. So yeah, I wanted to bring this to you all and you know, hopefully seduce once of y’all to get me uh tickets to see that too. [laughter]
De’Ara Balenger: I just added it to my list, Myles I just made a note.
Myles Johnson: Okay. I was like [?]–
Kaya Henderson: You know you could just buy a ticket, right? You know that’s possible.
Myles Johnson: No no ulterior motives here. No ulterior motives here.
De’Ara Balenger: So we’re adding it to the list because now now my list is Chicago, Piano Lesson, Top Dog Underdog, Death of a Salesman. And maybe Oklahoma. I’ve never seen Oklahoma either. Hmm.
Myles Johnson: Yeah, but I know that Oklahoma’s traveling. It’s not in New York. That’s she’s a part of the traveling cast.
De’Ara Balenger: I see.
Myles Johnson: And I and I and I know that um Angelica Ross’s performance of Roxie Hart in Chicago is um right here in the in this in the city.
De’Ara Balenger: Goodness, no. I’m so excited for this. Um. And honestly, Myles wouldn’t have known had you brought it to the pod. So so thank you for this. I actually I had such a glorious end of last week because I was at Lesbians Who Tech, which to our listeners is a thing that happens every year. That’s right. Um. [laughter] But it’s but it’s you know, it’s it’s lesbians and beyond. It’s just like a really incredible, beautiful gathering of like, you know, queer and trans people. And it just was so nice to be with the peeps, you know what I mean? It’s just like and I have found like, you know, I’m a gay and I’m around the gays all the time, like all the time, but like to be in like just completely surrounded, like in a theater of us um really was magical. So I think this is also like giving me those feels all again, just about the last couple of days that I had in in um in San Francisco at Lesbians who tech.
Myles Johnson: And they all tech and they’re all like are big and understand technology?
De’Ara Balenger: They are, not me obviously. But. [laughter]
Myles Johnson: Got it. Got it. Got it.
De’Ara Balenger: I come to bring the laughs so–
Myles Johnson: Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: –I emceed. I emceed a stage and it like, you know, it’s at the Castro Theater and then they take over the block where the Castro is on.
Myles Johnson: Yeah, I was just going to say, if I was a lesbian and single I would [laughter] that’s where I would be fish– I would put my rod there, my–
DeRay Mckesson: Lesbians who tech.
Myles Johnson: –Net, not a rod.
Kaya Henderson: Oh, wow. [laughter]
Myles Johnson: My rod, my whole net.
Kaya Henderson: [sigh]
DeRay Mckesson: It is really dope to see um. I can’t wait to see Angelica on the stage and to just think through like, what it means that Black people are just taking over all of these spaces that we were kept out of. And so and doing it really beautifully, so Solange at the ballet. I see people who ain’t never thought about a ballet in their life.
Kaya Henderson: Go into the ballet. Praise God.
DeRay Mckesson: At the ballet, right. I think about–
Myles Johnson: [?] people.
Kaya Henderson: Yes.
DeRay Mckesson: I think about Broadway. I’ve been to so many Broadway shows uh around people who like Broadway and then it’s like, well, all these Black things are on Broadway, and you’re like, okay, I don’t have to go sit and struggle through King Lear, which was rough everybody.
Kaya Henderson: Wooph.
DeRay Mckesson: Uh I went, woooo hooo. Um. But I can go see stuff that, like, speaks to my real like, you know, so like that is it’s beautiful to watch. And I think Angelica will be just I mean, it’s probably already amazing, but I cannot wait to see uh it myself.
Kaya Henderson: Um. I thank you for bringing this to the pad, Myles, because I just knew her as Candy Ferocity from Pose, which for sure one of my favorite characters. But this made me learn more about Angelica. And she is a whole situation not she started her own record label because she wanted to release her own music and not wait for somebody to tell her it was okay to do that. She taught herself coding and you know, is a whole tech boss um started a company called Trans Tech Social Enterprises, which uh focuses on employment. And for folks who uh in the industry, I guess fostering skills in a technology industry, especially for trans people, um she’s just got a whole bunch of stuff going on with her and I think that we will learn more about her because she’s going to be a breakout star in this role. But again, on this sort of thing about dealing with people holistically, this lady has a whole lot going on and I’m excited for the world to see her and learn more about her because, yeah, she’s a boss. My news this week um is about four young ladies in Denver public schools who started a podcast. They were um members of the Black Student Association at the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Early College High School. And they between a trip to the National Museum for African-American History and Culture in Washington and the George Floyd murder, um they activated and have been fighting for all kinds of things for a more accurate history being taught in school. They have been advocates at the school with their in their school building, with their principal. Um. They advocated for um the white history teachers, they realized that all of their history teachers were white, um that their history teachers needed to deeply learn Black history. And so they got the principal to send the white teachers to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Um. And they started a podcast after the George Floyd murder called Know Justice, Know Peace: The Take. And the idea was, you know, they are leaders. They um felt like they wanted to use their platform. They were inspired by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the Civil Rights Movement. And, you know, they were like, it’s our turn to step up and lead and use our platform in a way that resonates with our generation, which is a podcast. And these girls were doing the thing and whatnot. And [sigh] the Denver Public School System decided that the podcast belongs to the school system. Um. In fact, they moved to trademark, the school system moved to trademark the title No Justice, No Peace: The Take. And these young ladies say that the school system is trying to steal their podcast, and so they are suing for the right to own the trademark. The school system is saying that actually they didn’t exactly create this, that a teacher and a principal helped them to create this. And they were district employees and they created the podcast on district time using district resources, and they paid the young ladies through an apprenticeship program to start this. And so they are saying that it belongs to Denver Public Schools and they want to broaden it so that more students can participate and whatnot. And these young ladies are like bump that this is our podcast, we created it and they are suing both in state court, but I think also federally and um it’s an interesting thing to wonder why would like why wouldn’t Denver public schools let these young ladies do their thing and keep building their brand. And, you know, they get to take credit and say, sure, like this, you know, this is what happens in our schools. But I don’t really understand why they need to own this, why they need to take this away from these young ladies uh who have done real work. They produced more than 25 episodes. Their podcast is up on YouTube. And usually if you think about it, right, like if a kid wrote up uh an essay while they were in school and the essay won a contest or turned into a book or whatever. The school district doesn’t own that essay, right? So why would a school district believe that it could appropriate and own this body of content work that these students created, I think it opens up broader questions. First of all, as four little Black girls, right? Which drives me insane. These young people are leading, they are doing exactly what they are called to do to meet the moment. And we should be encouraging them, making it easier for them and whatnot. And that big institution is going to try to take away their trademark and their brand. But I think this has implications for any content. Right. Content is is king right now. And so any content that you create within an institution like a school system, there need to be clear lines because, you know, people can actually profit from the content that they create. Does that mean if I write a poem on my school issued laptop at my house that the school district owns my poem? Right? And I think that these are questions that um we’re going to need to clarify. I’m just sad that these young people are literally facing like had to get a lawyer and whatnot to deal with this.
Myles Johnson: Yeah, I absolutely hate this. The thing that that is like continuing to like echo in my like mind is now what kind of like culture is that going to create at the school? Now that like to me, you’re just you’re just uh suppressing um children’s creativity and [?] to children to grow. But like the students’ um create um creativity by doing this like you now nobody wants to be innovative or wants to share information or think of different ways to like just ingenious ways. Um as I was like reading just ingenious ways of sharing information and making things palatable to the um to to an audience. Nobody’s going to want to do that at that school because of those because of this case, it just makes everybody want to kind of just keep their ideas and their innovations to their to their chest. And ah it’s to me it’s silly for for a school to not just like see the bigger picture and see that oh, wow. This letting them have this independently will also just make people feel free to innovate at our school. Yeah, it’s just to me, it’s just a little, like, confusing. Hopefully, somebody have something a smidge smarter to say because I’m just confused child.
DeRay Mckesson: I think, you know, not only is it taking their work product, but one of the things that’s so clear to me is what happens. We always talk about capitalism and the profit motive, but this is one that you see so well, like the district didn’t say, I’m actually really inspired by what our students have done. We’re going to make a district led podcast and we’re going to make a whole course. We’re going to teach kids how to do it, we’re going to expand it, and we’re going to bring these young women on to help us build it and grow the capacity, because we want this to be something that more students can access because they did such a great job. That is one way to do this. But instead and this is like what capitalism does so well. Capitalism says, you created this thing, we own it, and we want to make it more profitable in these ways. But it’s like you’re a school. The whole purpose is to teach lessons. The whole purpose is to grow and to invest into like build up and to shout out and like that is the whole purpose. And there was an opportunity to use this podcast as a as a proof point and as an example of what students can do. And instead they did something else. And that is just really both shameful and disappointing and shout out to these Black girls for having the the reach to get lawyers, because that this stuff probably happens way more than we know. But in districts where Black kids don’t have they don’t have easy access to a lawyer, don’t know who to call, don’t know what the advocacy looks like, but they got the right ones in Denver and I’m all about that.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere more Pod Save The People is coming.
DeRay Mckesson: So my news is really off the beaten path. But I was reading and I was like, you know what, this is something that I hadn’t even thought about. And it’s about the working conditions in nail salons. So there is a new law that just got implemented about ventilation, a new set of regulations, too. And the new regulations require nail salon owners to protect workers and clients by providing proper ventilation to filter out toxic particles and fumes. And this is taking place in New York City. But what was so fascinating and there’s a news source called Document It and Why, didn’t hadn’t really heard about Document It and Why. But they go through this story of a of a nail tech who suffered seven miscarriages in the span of eight years. And the miscarriages coincided with her time as a nail tech. And it talks about she was reluctant to talk about it and and didn’t want to um didn’t want to sort of think about the connection too deeply. But she did. And it helped to push the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health uh to actually address these things. So in 2016, there were a set of nail salon workers who organized around abuse in the nail salon industry. And one of the things that they focused on was the mitigation of toxic chemicals. And it makes total sense to me. There was a report that was done that showed that 20% of nail workers reported having issues with their reproductive health, compared to 11% of the U.S. population. And the study, which surveyed about 142 nail salon workers in New York City, also found that 25% of nail techs had complications during pregnancy, compared to just 8% of all pregnancies in the U.S.. And this is one of those things where I just assumed this was already heavily regulated because, look, I walk into the nail salon and it smells like fumes. I could only imagine what it’s like to be there all day. And this made me think about all the other studies that probably should be done. I think about the women who go get their nails done every week. I think about the people who who spend you know, people spend a lot of time in nail salons around or in situations that are not well ventilated. And this is one of those things that I just hadn’t thought about. As you can imagine, 50% of nail salon workers are Asian and about 15-20% are Hispanic and Latino. You think about the sheer number of low income and or people of color who are in these situations and disproportionally impacted so I wanted to bring this here because it really was something that I had never even thought about.
Myles Johnson: Keep the safe spaces safe. Like that is literally what’s coming to my head too like this made me like, made me really sad, made me really happy that there’s actually being something that’s being like done to address those the situation. But then also I’m just like, geez, I just I guess the more general like light, like everywhere, everywhere is killing you, everywhere you can go can kill you. And um even the nail salon, one of one of my most sacred safe spaces, it’s even that’s venomous. Jeesh.
Kaya Henderson: I thought it was. I mean, like you, Myles, I thought it was sort of ironic that this place that is about self-care for usually women, but open for everybody. And I’m actually shout out to the more and more fellas that I see in a nail salon, because taking care of your claws is really important. Um. But, you know, in this heavily uh female dominated client culture that in fact um is inflicting harm on women’s reproductive systems like that is so cruel and ironic um. I thought it was also just sort of heartbreaking to know that, you know, a lot of folks who provide nail services don’t speak English. You know, the lady was pointing out that she they didn’t understand what was written on the bottles. These warnings are on the bottles. Right. But if you don’t speak English and if you don’t read well and if you don’t know these scientific terms that you know, you’re just doing the work right. And many of these folks are doing the work because they need the money. They’re they’re not other employment opportunities. Shout out to Adhikaar. Um. The women led workers center that services the Nepali speaking community that hipped her to to what was going on. And you know we community organize community based organizations like I just can’t when I think about who in the pandemic actually saved lives, what systems didn’t fail us. It was community based organizations who work on frontlines with the people who are most affected. And, you know, we often say that the people who are closest to the problem have the solutions. And this is what happens when you empower the people who have the solutions to now activate their voice and to push for policy change. And, you know, I can’t imagine what this lady, seven miscarriages in eight years like that has to be devastating and yet and still she thought it was important enough to keep on fighting. Praise God she’s had a son now, um but important enough to keep on fighting. And so thanks to, um, to her and thanks to the Nepali speaking um women led service center Adhikaar that um helped to get this thing going.
De’Ara Balenger: This one sent me spiraling because I, like all of us, spend a lot of time in nail salons. And I started to dig into just the toxicity in nail products, which I really hadn’t thought about. But obviously what this article covers is things that can cause miscarriages. But there’s also like formaldehyde and other toxins that can like disrupt your endocrine like disrupt the endocrine system. And I don’t know if anyone else has ever had a heavy metals test done by your doctor, but you all should, because I had a ton of heavy, heavy metals in my blood. One of them was aluminum because obviously I love canned tuna fish. Um. But that–
Myles Johnson: Oh child.
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah.
Myles Johnson: Not the tuna.
De’Ara Balenger: I do, I do. I do. It’s delicious.
Myles Johnson: The nails and the tuna?
De’Ara Balenger: I love–
Myles Johnson: Oh my gosh.
De’Ara Balenger: I love tuna salad. But I’m saying but like, this is this is a thing. And I think we we don’t think about our health deeply enough and the things that we’re putting on our body that impact how our body works and runs. And so I think this was just a signal to me to make sure that I understand clean meaning, clean product nail salons, because some of these polishes and I read another report that some of the nail polish companies don’t put the full extent of what’s in the polishes on the labels, and it’s not really regulated to the extent that it is in Europe here in the United States. So thanks for this one. This one was really a–
Myles Johnson: This is kind of like what happens when you put product over all, right? When you put when you put money over all, then just certain things just become dangerous by a by product. Oh, gosh, no nails, no tuna, child.
De’Ara Balenger: You know, oftentimes things are surprising to me. However, my news today was not surprising. Evidently, companies do better when they have Black CEOs. [gasp]
Kaya Henderson: Black women girl come on.
De’Ara Balenger: Black– [laughing].
Kaya Henderson: You better start that again. Start that again. [laughter]
De’Ara Balenger: Companies do better when they have Black women CEOs.
Myles Johnson: [gasp] Surprised gasp.
De’Ara Balenger: Period.
Kaya Henderson: It it doesn’t say that I was just editorializing it.
De’Ara Balenger: Period.
Kaya Henderson: It says–
De’Ara Balenger: But I mean–
Myles Johnson: Wait. [laughter]
De’Ara Balenger: Most of most of the current Black CEOs are women, though. So I mean, by proxy.
Kaya Henderson: Say less girl.
De’Ara Balenger: So this article’s in The Washington Post and researchers reviewing thousands of CEO appointments over the past two decades have found significant short term upsides to the appointment of Black leaders. Hmm. The essentially, you know, the appointments of Black CEOs are more positive than for white CEOs in terms of market reactions. Research is reviewing CEO appointments from 2001 to 2020 found that a median size firm appointing a Black chief executive saw an extra short term bump of 3.1% to their market capitalization three days following the announcement like sis is announced and then boom market market impact. But when I started to dig into this article more, it is actually like heartbreaking. One of the reasons why. Right, like the disparities in all of this. So it’s believed that because Black CEOs have to basically outperform their white counterparts well Black people have to outperform their white counterparts their whole entire careers. It actually makes them more experienced when they step into this role and therefore more impactful. So 93% of Black CEOs in this study had advanced degrees, compared to 53% of white executives. Black executives had 1.– 1.6 more years of education than white executives and were more likely to have a degree from an elite top university. So fascinating. And I think another key element to that also really got to me because I think this is also something that I face with with my company, Maestra, is that when we’re judged as a firm and when Black folks are judged in a corporate setting or any setting, really, they’re judged on performance rather than potential, which wow, imagine being judged on what you can likely do or are positioning yourself to do rather than just having to perform, perform, perform all the time. And so right now, to Kaya’s point, the the the current six Black CEOs, Rosalind Brewer at Walgreens, Thasundra Brown Duckett at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s a really long title.
Kaya Henderson: TIAA-CREF.
De’Ara Balenger: But we have–
Kaya Henderson: TIAA-CREF
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, that’s a lot.
Kaya Henderson: That’s a lot.
De’Ara Balenger: Um. And then um I couldn’t be the CEO of that because I can’t even say it. And then our our men friends, Robert Reffkin of Compass, um Marvin Ellison of Lowe’s, yada, yada, yada. So, I don’t know, I just wanted to bring this one to the pod because I just. Wow. Black excellence, thriving as usual, but still underrepresented.
Myles Johnson: And you know. I’m totally making up stuff. This is just [laughter] this is just what’s going on in my head so that there’s this not linking this to a stitch of data or facts, just a a a hypothesis. But I really am interested in again, I don’t even know how you would begin to measure something like this, but I just some there’s a something in me that’s telling me there is a link to witnessing Black parenthood and being a good CEO and there is a link between the things that a Black p–, you have to witness a Black parent do and uh and and how they have to handle household, how they have to be calm and cool. So what what of this what this reminded me of was um the video of Nancy Pelosi that everybody’s sharing of her being cool and calm. And I said, that’s my momma. Now my momma has now we’ve had some January 6th in the house of [laughter] in my in my in my parent house.
Kaya Henderson: [indistinct]
Myles Johnson: We’ve had some we have some [?] six days and I see my mother be super calm, super cool, still lead. And I think that then, you know, my mother had a couple of businesses um as I was growing up, but I I’ve seen her employ those tactics into how she ran her businesses. And yeah, I just something is just telling me, you know, in the science of the science of Myles is that there’s something about witnessing Black parenthood and do and running a business well and being a good CEO. That’s also parallel, of course, with all the other stats and data and facts that you [laughter] that you that you brought about um performance. But yeah, I think I think it’s also just cultural too.
De’Ara Balenger: You’re right. And I said this episodes and episodes back about Black diplomats like I do think it is cultural I think how we relate to one another, how empathetic we are as a people, how resilient we are as a people. I think yeah, I think it has a lot to do with that as well. I totally agree.
Kaya Henderson: Um. I was excited when I read this article um and it is what I don’t know. It’s just what I know a lot of times, you know, people say people have said to me in my leadership roles, oh my gosh, you’re a unicorn. And I’m like, I might be a unicorn, but I’m from a herd of other unicorns. There’s a whole lot of us out here. We’re doing the do you just don’t see us. You won’t give us the chance. You won’t give us the opportunity. And you know, that I think, is there are all kinds of studies that show, for example, that diverse wealth managers actually make more money for their customers than white wealth managers. Yet and still, you know, people tend to trust white wealth managers with their money more than they do diverse like C– Black CEOs are better performing for your business and still you won’t like this is why it’s not about you know, we gonna act like people are just capitalists, right? And as long as you’re making the most money or having the best outcomes that you know, that’s what that’s what the meritocracy is all about. That’s what capitalism is all about. That’s some B.S., because this article tells you that you should go out and hire you some Black CEOs all over the place. All over the place. It was sad and still right. Like our study also suggests that firms seemingly appoint Black CEOs only when they are excessively qualified. Right? Excessively qualified. We likely have Black executives who would do quite well, who simply are never given the chance to lead an organization. So there is a bunch of unicorn talent sitting out there that is not being tapped because people don’t have a chance. You know, if you come up in a Black family and your people are old enough, they’ll tell you you got to work twice as hard to get half as much. And that’s what this article is bearing out. These people, you know, their credentials surpass their white peers their they have exhibited exceptional attributes can you know compared to their white peers? And yet and still, when do they call us? When the organization is failing, when there’s a scandal, call the Black people to come in and clean it up. Right. We will clean it up. We can clean it up and we can make it more profitable. But why do we have to do all of this? Why can’t why can’t folks trust our leadership the way they trust mediocre white male leadership. I there listen. I was on the phone with a funder who asked me to vouch for another Black leader before they gave her money. And I said, you know, here’s the thing. You ain’t calling me when you gave that white boy money over and over again when he failed at this organization and then at another one and then another one. You keep giving him money and you don’t call and ask about him. But you want to call and ask about this Black woman who has a long standing track record of success. It is so endemic that people don’t even realize that they do it. But I I would also sort of assert that folks are scared to let us lead because uh we are powerful and we do outperform. And so, I don’t know, I am manifesting more Black CEOs across companies. I’m manifesting more black women leaders across organizations. I’m manifesting it all. Yo, we’ve taken over Broadway. We’ve taken over the the corporate space. I’m here for it all. Bring on the revolution. [music break]
DeRay Mckesson: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save The People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. And we will see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Veronica Simonetti and executive produced by me. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles Johnson.