In This Episode
DeRay, Kaya and Myles cover the underreported news of the week — Trump’s latest power hungry reelection strategy, Darius Jackson’s dark secret exposed, and the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. And welcome to Pod Save the People. On this episode it’s me, Myles and Kaya, talking about the news that you didn’t hear about in the past week or that you didn’t think about from a lens of race, justice and equity. And we are offline next week for the holidays, but we will be back. Here we go. [music break]
Kaya Henderson: Welcome, welcome family to another episode of Pod Save the People. My name is Kaya Henderson and you can find me on Twitter at @HendersonKaya.
Myles E. Johnson: My name is Myles E. Johnson. You can find me at @pharaohrapture at Twitter, Instagram Threads, Black Planet, LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook. [laughter]
DeRay Mckesson: This is Deray at @deray on Twitter.
Kaya Henderson: So shout out to De’Ara, who’s not with us this week, um but we’ll see her next week. And um I wanted to start out by getting your reactions to this clip that DeRay posted in our group chat. It always goes down in the group chat uh about [clears throat] The View. It’s an episode from The View where the ladies are discussing a recent report around why millennials are not having children. And they all have some very interesting perspectives. Um. But apparently Auntie Whoopi done got the people all riled up. And so, DeRay, you put this in the group chat, talk about it.
DeRay Mckesson: Honestly, I think I want to hear Myles’s comments first. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Myles, who said who said he saw it earlier in the week and it pissed him off. Say more.
Myles E. Johnson: Now I’m–
DeRay Mckesson: Myles lead us, please.
Myles E. Johnson: Well, hold on. [laughter] Hold on because I feel like y’all sending me over the mountain first for Auntie Whoopi.
Kaya Henderson: Okay, wait, wait, wait. Let me let me give a little background. Let me give a little background.
Myles E. Johnson: That’s what I was going to say. Yes.
Kaya Henderson: The report basically says there’s a new report out from somebody I think from Pew and somebody else that basically says that millennials, there’s a lot of data that shows that um the U.S. birth rate is the lowest that it’s been and that millennials are not having children. And when asked why, some of the reasons are things like the student debt crisis, the economy, the housing crisis, the fact that these folks are basically not set up for economic success and many of them feel like they can’t support a family and so they are choosing not to have children. Um. They say that the economic climate has made millennials feel like big life milestones, like buying a house and having a family are out of reach for them. So that’s the background. And the ladies begin to discuss this with different people having different takes on why this is the case.
Myles E. Johnson: Whoopi’s take was [laughing] Whoopi’s take was.
Kaya Henderson: Well okay wait.
Myles E. Johnson: Oh okay.
Kaya Henderson: Including though before I go to Whoopi, including you know, um Farah, is that the lady’s name DeRay?
DeRay Mckesson: Sara Haines who we don’t know.
Kaya Henderson: No, no not Sara Haines yet.
DeRay Mckesson: And we all just Google Sara.
Kaya Henderson: The the–
DeRay Mckesson: Oh.
Kaya Henderson: Farah, Alyssa somebody.
DeRay Mckesson: Oh Alyssa Farah, who is the former head of strategic communications in the Trump White House.
Myles E. Johnson: Meghan McCain, understudy.
Kaya Henderson: Who you know, is making a halfway reasonable case for people making an informed decision around not having kids. And she does not sound super crazy. Then there’s the Sara Haines lady who I’d never heard of before, who says, I think this is great because there are so many people who basically shouldn’t be having kids. What about all the kids who get beaten and abused and blah, blah, blah. And I think it’s great that people are choosing not to have kids. And that sounds crazy. And then Auntie Whoopi comes on and says, Millennials, basically, she basically says that millennials are lazy and that they um cannot access the economic benefits of the American dream because they only want to work 4 hours a week. And um and that in her generation, people just got it together and worked really hard and bought houses and had kids and just do did the thing. Is that a fair is that a fair recap?
Myles E. Johnson: And there was this like, flippant because you all you always know it’s tone.
Kaya Henderson: Uh huh.
Myles E. Johnson: You always know its tone. There was that flippant response that essentially she says, well, if millennials wanted to work more than 4 hours a week, then maybe they will be able to get a house and some kids, too. Which kind of minimized the millennial struggle, and also it just divorces how gener- generational conversations start. There’s always a elder authoritative generation who says, you know what, all the problems that this generation inherited is because of their own self individual depravity or um laziness. So this is the true when people were saying the same thing about those Black Panthers and those hippies, there was this is this is true when people were saying um the same things about just it literally just happens in every generation. Just look, look, look at what was happening with rock and roll and look at the generation before and see what they says. So it just hurts because Whoopi. You would, it’s just in my head Whoopi had to have a conversation with God. Right. And she said and looked in the mirror and said, God. And God said, Hey, Whoopi. And Whoopi said hi back. I’m about to shave these eyebrows off. Get me some um locks and God, I need to ride on your grace in order to be a star. And I’m also going to talk about race. I’m going to talk um uh have a I watched her one woman show every year. It’s one of the most brilliant performances of a woman on stage. She was in Sister Act. She’s the one who let Lauryn Hill know she can sing. When we when Lauryn Hill’s mean ass Mama told her she can’t sing. Ain’t no money in singing, Whoopi was the one who restored her magic. So it hurts [laughter] to see that woman who is kind of this she was Celie in Color Purple. So it hurts to see that kind of woman who was just this embodied rebellion say something so utterly conservative and say something so utterly disconnected, which proves that doesn’t matter how radical the roots might be [laughter] enough money and enough uh Barbara Walters uh signed checks. You too, might forget that you don’t got no eyebrows and you’ve got locks. And if you were born in 1991, you’d find it hard to work too. [laughter] You would find it hard to work too. [laughter] You you don’t look like a good culture fit for we work. You don’t look like a good culture fit for any of these things, [laughter] you would be right with them. So it just it just it’s just wild because wherever millennials of our generation for mostly I’ll speak for myself and so many other people we had to collage our legacies and our career opportunities together. So my career opportunities and my legacy is collaged over a whole bunch of underpaid under benefited jobs that I maximized on in order to uh make make my way monetarily and also to for my voice to be heard. And I know so many people who are like that, who are doing art and these gigs and these things and these gigs, and then also do entrepreneurship just so they can make leave a little footprint in their lifetime. So for that to be reduced to us wanting four hour four hours a week jobs and and that’s how come we can’t have families how traditionally it’s just so [sigh] it’s just so disrespectful and so and just so disconnected. What you’ve got to say DeRay?
DeRay Mckesson: Myles, I’m just going to plus one the whole thing there. [laughter] What I’ll add are two things this made me think of. One is that, you know, because she really does do a pull yourself up by the bootstraps, if you just worked hard enough, you would get it. Like we did it too, and y’all need to do it. And every generation had it hard. That’s like her mantra. And I think about, I was having a really good conversation with one of my friends this weekend about the trauma that our parents had, and I think about my father is somebody who he I wish he had had a four day workweek. I wish he had had the the like time to do field trips and all that stuff when we were kids. I wished that he had had had grown up in a time where people weren’t. And my great grandparents. I wish that like working until you die wasn’t the way that we told people that was success. Like that is what we did to people. And I think that you see that in the way that people were raised and like, what were we loved? Yes, But Lord knows I came from a lot of Black people who killed themselves because they were told that like to do work meant that you worked this many hours a week and you stayed in one place. Mind you, worse bosses they ever had, people treated them like crap at the workplace every day. But it was sort of just what work was. And you’re like, no Whoopi. Yes, People did do this for a long time. That doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it make sense. And all of us have been managers of people at some point. And I’ll tell you, managing people today is very different than it was, you know, 20 years ago for a lot of people. That like, yeah, I am listening to you when you complain about the thing that I made an expectation about because like we’re in a workplace together. Nobody was listening to my father when he was starting his career. It was like boy go do the thing that we hired you to. So that’s like my kinder thing I have to say about her. What my heart said as soon as I saw it was I’m reminded that the reason we like her is that she performs the words and thoughts of other people. And every time I’m confronted with her words and thoughts, I’m I’m disappointed. Let me read them. [laughter] When we get to Ted Danson and her defense of Blackface.
Kaya Henderson: Honey, this is where I was going.
DeRay Mckesson: She said, and I quote.
Kaya Henderson: You are absolutely right.
DeRay Mckesson: “It takes a whole lot of courage to come out in Blackface. I don’t care if you don’t like it. I do.” I will then take you to Ray Rice’s domestic abuse scandal. “Don’t be surprised if you hit a man, he hits you back. I know. I’m going to catch a lot of hell and I don’t care. But you have to teach women, do you not live with this idea that men have this chivalry thing with them. Don’t assume that that is still in place.”
DeRay Mckesson: Celie said that?
DeRay Mckesson: I will then–
Myles E. Johnson: [banter] She didn’t read the book? Like what?
DeRay Mckesson: Let me take you to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. She said, “This is not the Academy. Even if you fill the academy with Black and Latino and Asian members, if there’s one, if there’s no one on screen to vote for, you’re not going to get the outcome that you want.” And she ends with, I’ve won once, so it can’t be that racist. And then let’s remember her historic defense of Bill Cosby. I bring all this up just to say that I am reminded again that why people love her is that she performed the words and thoughts of other people. Which are way more progressive than her own. And when she speaks, I’m continually disappointed. And it has pushed me to remind myself that, like actors and performers are delivering other people’s words and other people’s thoughts. And Lord knows, she’s a case study for the disappointment of someone’s own.
Myles E. Johnson: Oh, Whoopi. I wasn’t even going to do it to you.
Kaya Henderson: Honey.
Myles E. Johnson: I was I was trying to mild, I was trying to keep it if it didn’t happen before 14 days, I wasn’t going to bring it up.
Kaya Henderson: If this episode is not titled The Takedown, Takedown of Whoopi Goldberg, [laughter] I don’t know what it is, but that was a brilliant–
Myles E. Johnson: Jesus.
Kaya Henderson: That was a brilliant deconstruction DeRay. I, you know what was so interesting to me was and I am probably somewhere between Whoopi’s generation and y’alls generation, but what was so interesting to me is that it provoked so much emotion from you all. And I was just I mean, on the one hand, as a I’m not a millennial, but I have I made the choice to not have biological children. And that’s my business. And I don’t really care what people think about that or why or whatever, whatever. And so there’s a part of me that’s like, Whoopi, you can think whatever you want about these millennials making their own choices, but we’s free boss and we get to do whatever we want to do. So who cares what you think about them, whether you think they’re lazy or whether you think they’re whatever, whatever. None of your business, A, number one. B, number two, I realized I was done with Whoopi as a serious, you know, influencer when the whole Ted Danson thing happened because I there is just no way on my I been brown my whole entire life’s earth that there there would ever be a time where I thought that bringing my white boyfriend to the club in blackface saying a whole bunch of N-words and eating from a watermelon tray and talking about our sex life would ever be appropriate. So at that point, there was a psychic break between me and Whoopi Goldberg. Because there’s no way that I could ever understand how she thinks. And so for me, this was Whoopi just Whoopi-ing and me just moving on along because whatever. But I do think, Myles, that this generational thing is I mean, I, I think about how my girlfriends and I respond to what it means to manage millennials. It is a diff, a completely different ballgame. And I think what we have to recognize is the world of work has changed, expectations have changed and like we just got to roll with it. This is how like humanness works. Every generation feels like the previous the the successive generation isn’t like them and they can’t be because context has changed significantly. So um yeah, I mean, this has inspired much more conversation than I ever thought because I was like, Whoopi whatever. But here we are.
Myles E. Johnson: Because because you, because you can feel it, you know, Auntie Kaya. You can feel it because I’m like, oh, I just came back from the mountains. We all had to come together as grown ups and young people and pool money and resources and cooking skills. And this is what we’ve decided to do with our partners, with single other single people. All, you know, this is how we decided to do family and we’re making the best of it and we love it. But it’s also what’s we’re making this lemonade. And for somebody to say well, you just making that lemonade like that because uh because you too lazy to go get it. No, there was just there was just no lemons. So we had to use this little juice and we had to use a sweet and low. And now we getting it together and it tastes and it tastes good, but don’t make it seem like we didn’t get it because of that. And then again, I believe in me– media symbolism. There’s just a way that she kind of represents the transgressive Black woman for so many people because of the roles she decided to pick. So a lot of people don’t know about the things that DeRay listed. [laughing] And that you were all discussing.
Kaya Henderson: Boom boom.
Myles E. Johnson: But they’re, but they’re, but they’re but they’re soon they’re soon finding those things out.
Kaya Henderson: I mean, my like you just said it right? You went to the Catskills, you did family your way. And for me like that is what freedom really is. Freedom is the ability to live and be however you want to be. And the thing is, any time you are living and being in a way that is different from the status quo, you know, people got something to say about it. Well, that’s just life. My grandmother used to say, when people are not talking about you, that’s when you should be worried.
DeRay Mckesson: I’ll segue this into my news, but I’m always reminded, especially people in these big media platforms that that they are often unless they’re talking about random cultural things, they are often making political statements, even if they don’t understand or care about the significance of the power dynamic. And it was wild to watch the View thing and see Alyssa Farah, the former Trump woman, making a pretty cogent defense of millennials, right? Being like, you know, people ain’t got money, inflation’s high da da da and Whoopi’s like they always said that and you’re like, whew not the Trump people.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere more Pod Save the People’s coming.
DeRay Mckesson: [music break] But I wanted to talk about Trump because there is something happening in this moment where people are some people are disillusioned with Biden, definitely young people. I think the older Black people I talked to are like, you know, it is what it is. But definitely some younger Black people are disappointed and certainly organizers are. Now, I wanted to bring, though, what Trump has said he is going to do if he is reelected. He has said and I’ll just look, my news is just to bring them here is that he is going to start rejecting asylum claims from from countries using the change in the law that happened with COVID 19. He will not use COVID 19 as a claim anymore. He will just claim other infectious diseases are coming in from migrants. He said that he’s going to deputize local police and the National Guard troops to deal with immigration. He’s going to get over the restrictions around ICE because he’s just going to build huge concentration camps. He’s going to do one of the biggest redirection of Pentagon funds in American history uh to redirect to deal with immigration. He is, and I quote, “going to build the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” He wants to redo a 1954 campaign. He does not name the campaign, but the campaign was called Operation Wetback, and it was a campaign to expel Mexicans. He wants to mimic that in this moment. He also wants to end birthright citizenship for undocumented parents. As you know, if you are born in America, you become a citizen. He does not want the parents of kids born in some country from some countries to become citizens. And then he wants to revoke temporary protected status of people from countries he deems unsafe. These are all categorically bad things, and they will be the worst things for Black and brown people. End end of story. That is just true. And there’s something about the caricature of Trump that people either don’t take him seriously or don’t think about it. Da da da. So that’s like one thing. And I want to bring you here because we got to figure we got to contend with that and figure out how we tell people that story. It’s juxtaposed by the arrogance of the Democrats that are sort of like, well, he’s just so wild, they will have to choose us. And I actually think that that made a lot of sense 20 years ago. It made a lot of sense, 50 years it worked when there was when there were three stations, two news programs, you really could just tell one story. And it just is the story. Like that is it worked. And we live in a moment where you just can’t do that anymore. And I think the party has not realized that he is wild he is the wildest thing I’ve ever seen doesn’t cover it up. He’s not speaking in code. And that doesn’t mean that people will just vote for the Democrats. And the Democrats are playing in a world that has changed. And I am nervous about that because they just don’t realize there’s not one story. I think about Karine, the um the White House press secretary. I don’t know that woman, but her calling the people who call for a cease fire repugnant, the Black and brown congresspeople, she will never ever be a credible source to me ever again. She just lost all of her credibility in that moment by calling them repugnant. Now, there’s a 20 years ago I would’ve never seen that woman. I would have maybe saw that clip on one news program. I’ve seen that a lot now online because people are like, is this the Black woman they put out there to call the Black congresspeople that’s and that’s all I think that is literally who she has become to me, because I can’t defend that. That is wild to me. And I do I worry because he is he sort of played fast and loose when he ran the first time, it was like, oh, I’m da da da, he not playing fast and loose. He’s like, I’m going to lock up my political opponents. I’m going to do these things, and we cannot have that again. And the Democrats are just arrogant. I do think we should be having a serious conversation about a nominee.
Kaya Henderson: I ran across an article this week that talks about this Agenda 47, which is Mr. Trump’s policy platform, and this project where they are literally trying to um prescreen and vet thousands of foot soldiers to join the Trump administration. The moment that he wins, who are ideological purists, he feels like he hired a bunch of regular Republicans the last time and they put constraints on him. And so they are literally prescreening, they have thousands of resumes and they are prescreening people. They want up to 54,000 loyalists to come in to the Trump administration across lots of different dimensions of government. And literally they’re asking these people, like, who’s most influenced your political philosophy? Name one living public policy figure whom you greatly admire and why? There’s a ton of attention being paid to these people’s social media histories. Um. Literally anybody who and you just got to be an all out Trumper. And their plan is to flood the government with these extreme people. And if Trump doesn’t get elected, they are all set to push this apparatus to Nikki Haley or to Ron DeSantis or whoever the nominee is and again, it just goes to show, I mean, they are using generative AI, [laugh] they’ve contracted with Oracle to help them, you know, vet all of these resumes like this thing is happening. Um. The Heritage Foundation is running it. And like once again, I feel like the the conservatives are playing chess and the Democrats are playing checkers to think about having a legion of thousands of people who all believe Trumpism going into the government and literally breaking government the way you described DeRay is hella scary and very, very possible. And so um I thank you for bringing this to the pod because I feel like people are in a fog. They do not realize how serious these people are, how organized these people are, and how many people are ready to go into the government and pull it apart. We got a sneak preview of it on January the 6th, but it could be way worse than that.
Myles E. Johnson: When I saw Biden’s Veteran’s Day post on Twitter, I kind of understood even more deeply the disconnect. So on the on the post that Biden did, it’s basically um a collage of all the horrendous things that Trump has said about the veterans. And that was the Veterans Day post, and to me, I would think that we’re learning that being anti-Trump hardly helped us win. [laugh] When we were fresh off our presidency and now doing that now that we’re so many years removed from that presidency, is definitely not going to help us win and definitely not going to help us on the left be unified. And I don’t describe myself as a cynical or pessimistic person when it comes to the political destiny of America or the globe. I’m a kind of like, eternally optimistic around those type of things. However, I understand that there are a lot of people who are cynical and that this how bad Trump is is not it anymore. And even when I think about it, I have a friend, Richard Brookshire, he founded something called Black Veterans Project, got invited to the White House. That was, to me, such an easy way. Like, obviously they’re aware of him. He got invited. Somebody is aware of him. [?] Biden himselves was aware of him. That, to me would have resonated something, doing something around Black veterans for that day and highlighting that that would have resonate with the millennial, that would have resonated with Gen Z, that would have resonated with the people who are who are being activated. And I think that’s a broader statement about how the Democrats are doing this. All in all, it can’t it can’t be another anti-Trump movement and I don’t necessarily understand what Democrats are thinking [laugh] like I don’t know, like I like I wish I knew or understood. I think we’ve focused so much on what Republicans or Trumpers or whatever language you want to put on them are thinking. And I and I’m really curious, like, what are Democrats thinking? Like, what do they think this is working? Are they jumping ship? Are they panicking? I’m still at lost of why why did they think that running the same campaign from two you know, 2020 was going to happen again or work again. So my news is Keke Palmer and Darius Jackson. I’m going to say Darius Jackson a lot of times because I think when patriarchal abuse happens, we overuse the victim’s name and we underuse um the perpetrators name. So Darius Jackson uh has been accused by Keke Palmer, his form– his ex-partner of just heinous physical abuse, including shoving her, breaking prescription glasses, choking her, threats to kill himself. All types of bodily threats to her physically and then also to her um psychically. I think one of the reasons because I always play like there’s always a Wendy Williams and a and a Malcolm X in my head [laugh] of why I bring things to the podcast and this is gossip but I wanted to bring this in because I think we all love Keke Palmer and we’ve talked about her for the last year so many times because she’s had moments like, nope. She’s had just the best viral moments. Um. Because of Darius Jackson and not because of Darius Jackson. And I wanted to bring her in because we’ve seen her smile so much. We’ve seen her be so comfortable. We’ve seen her um be the light in our day and create products and all the while she was being abused, um her mother got on camera and said that she talked to Darius Jackson’s brother a year ago about the physical abuse. That means, at least for that year, this was something that was happening behind the scenes. And of course, we don’t know. But goodness, it is so you can hear things theoretically like you don’t know what somebody is going through or um the strong friend needs help or the strongest woman are can be going through the most heinous of events. You would never know. But literally the strongest woman was going through the [laugh] and the and the most funny, jovial, jovial, jolly woman was going through something so heinous and we only saw a crack towards the end of it towards that Usher um controversy and how he responded. And it was really he showed us the crack. Right. So it wasn’t something that was exposed. He was really well hidden. He actually had to work to be found out as abusive because he could have just been quiet and been quietly abusing her for even longer. He did that. I wanted to bring this to the podcast and get y’all’s opinion on this obviously very viral topic that’s been um going around the Internet, not just because it’s sensational, because it’s celebrity involved, but also just you all as Black people, Auntie Kaya as a Black woman. I think we’re always asked to show up as our most excellent selves, as our most jovial selves, and things crumble in the background. So I just thought there was no more interesting people to ask around what they felt about about this and the dynamic of performing something in public while suffering private. And how has that tension affected you all’s personal life too? So I didn’t want to keep it in the Wendy Williams gossip place. I wanted to make it a a super soul Sunday moment. [laughing] By by redirecting the conversation to our own personal, um vulnerable moments.
DeRay Mckesson: I will say, you know, it was the team of people around her. It is clear that there’s a little bit of the Beyonce playbook, that people are like Beyonce is like there is one there [?] and it’s mine. And you’re like, I got it. It makes sense. And I was so sad that she had to release those images. Like that made me really sad that she had to. And I can see the thought process from her team, because it happened immediately, people were like, didn’t happen. Why was she with him so long? Why would you have kids with somebody who beat you? Like that was immediately what happened. And then the pictures come out and everybody’s like, Oh, she wasn’t lying. And you’re like, Wow, that is clockwork. Like, the first thing people said is, but Keke gave that interview talking about how they met. Keke said this about them. Keke has the pictures with the baby and they laughing and joking and that and and so like that was the pictures made me sad. I was like, I this sucks for you, Keke. And to have to prove to people on the front end that this is even real. That you didn’t just make this up is so disappointing. So there’s that. Um. The second thing is, you know, Darius, I was I’m never shocked by men because Lord knows, people do all types of things. So Darius made a post that has him in it, with the baby and it ends with this image of Homelander from the Boys. Now, I have a lot of critiques about Homelander. I don’t actually love Homelander and I think that the boys is actually like a I think the Boys is a not great show around race and justice. It is an entertaining show, but that is another episode. But if you’ve seen The Boys, him stitching himself into an image of Homelander is it is so beyond nuts that I don’t even know what to say because in The Boys, Homelander does have a kid who has the same powers as him. And it’s a big deal because he has a kid with a um with a mortal. But he has a kid because he rapes her. So he rapes the baby’s mother and essentially threatens to kill her if she doesn’t, like exist in this random place with the little boy. So she so he Homelander goes and sees the boy often and eventually takes the boy from um from the mom. Like, that’s that that whole. That storyline is central to who Homelander is because the boy is sort of the only thing that makes him mildly caring. It’s like he’s 99% evil or bad or awful. And then this 1% is he sort of likes the boy. But even his love of the boy he, like, pushes him too hard and the boy’s not going to whatever. But the relationship between Homelander and the baby’s mother is rape. That is it’s like the central storyline of the child’s existence is that he rapes her and she knows it’s rape. It’s not like she is like, this is wrong, this is bad. But I love my son. So she’s trying to figure out what to do. And he’s Homelander. So he’s like one the most powerful people in the universe. So she can’t just like, hide. And she does try to hide. And he has supersonic hear– but for him to stitch himself into an image of Homelander, I’m like, I mean, that is the lawyers are having a field day with that one. And if I’ve never seen somebody tell on themselves, I don’t know what is. So I’ll just stop there. But the Homelander thing got me is like, I didn’t doubt her before and I believed her, but now I believe you because you just told on yourself too.
Kaya Henderson: You know, one of the reasons that I love being on this podcast is I learn new things all the time. No idea who Homelander or The Boys or anything about that is, so I’ll have to look that up. Um. But I mean, one this I, you know, my first reaction was, here we go again. Right. And I think that, you know, when I think about Black women celebrities and domestic abuse, you know, there are tons the most recents or the the ones that pop to mind quickest for me are Rihanna, Megan Thee Dtallion, um and now Keke. And what I will say is I’m thankful that um I mean, we don’t know how long this has been going on, but um she was like clear, he did this, here’s the evidence da da da da. Um. And I you know, I guess like my one sort of hope is that as we learn about these things, that women will understand that they have a choice, that they have options like domestic abuse is horrible, terrible. Um. You know, Myles, you asked about our personal experiences. Thankfully, this hasn’t been my experience. And so I can’t really speak to, you know, how people respond. And I think everybody gets to respond in whatever way makes sense for them. But we love Keke. She’s like our little sister. We watched her grow up and we all want what’s best for her. And I think that’s what you see in the public response finally, or I think there’s more there’s been more of a public response that is positive and supportive of her. You know, even I think about how Meg was treated when I mean the dude shot her in the toe. Um. And it and it it also makes me think a lot about the power dynamics between women and men, especially when women are are when their careers are further along or when they make more money. That that oftentimes seems to be a real indicator of a potential problem in relationships that escalates sometimes. And so I don’t know. It’s just I, so sad to me that, like these poor women who have beat the odds, are talented, have done all of the things you know, are are I mean, nobody should actually have to face this, but it just makes me sad. It makes me want to hug my little sisters and make sure that they are okay. And I think. We have to, as a Black community, collectively hug Keke and let her know you’re doing the right thing and send the same message. My hope is that other young ladies watching this understand that this is not how they are supposed to be treated.
DeRay Mckesson: And I’ll say, you know, I actually took Myles’s question to me and you Kaya to be what how do you negotiate the the public life when when things don’t go well? Right. Like, not necessarily domestic violence. And I do think you probably I’d be inter– I want to know what your answer to that is. I will say I remember I mean, so many things where Lord knows people are mad at me and I just didn’t say anything or like, just let it go. But there are times where I’m like, you know, if I talk about it, then I’ll have to talk about it forever. That’s what it feels like. If I address this thing in a public forum, it will create a public record of it, and then people will feel like they can ask me about it for the next 3000 years, and I just cannot. There are some things where I’m like, I can’t do it. And then there are other things where not talking about means that I’ll have to talk about it for the next thousand years and on somebody else’s terms. And that is sort of like when I’m trying to negotiate what I think about. Like I even think about um you know I think about people’s frustration with Teach for America. I will never forget I was at a panel like in San Francisco or something, and these activists, literally they asked me some questions on the panel and I give the normal answer, which is like, Hey, did you teach? Or like what you know, I’m I’m always interested in the way people talk about classrooms who’ve never been in them. But anyway, and then afterwards they literally come up, put the camera in my face, and they’re like, you need to da da. I’m I’m like being heckled by Black activists about Teach for America. I’m like this not even want to be like, I don’t work for Teach for America, I’ve never worked for, you know, this whole thing. But I remember like, you know, am I going to say anything? And I didn’t in the end, but like I was heckled or as somebody this is way before the current situation in Gaza. This like a reporter for um like Breitbart chased me at the DNC and was like, what is your statement on Palestine? And I’m like, not you running like, you’re like running me down trying to get me to say something. So I just say no comment because I’m he’s driving me nuts. The no comment goes viral. I get activists who I was with in Ferguson being like, I can’t believe you won’t stand with the Palestinian people. [laugh] And you’re like, this man is literally running me down trying to like, force me to I’m not going to on his terms. But then now I’m having to explain all this stuff. And it just is a really crazy thing that sometimes, like what people expect and demand from you is really wild, that’s why I have a lot of sympathy for Keke, not only um as a victim, but it sucks to be the victim and have to do all this work to to like, anticipate the public response and get in front of it is just awful.
Kaya Henderson: Yeah, I thanks for bringing that dimension to it. DeRay. I think people have no idea what living life in the public really feels like. Um. And you know, my public life paled. I’m I wasn’t a celebrity, right? I was a local school superintendent. But the way people–
DeRay Mckesson: Celebrity, she was our favorite. She was a young superintendent too. My sister said [?] I’ll just say it. My sister called me about Kaya and was like, she is who made me believe that I could be a school leader because I saw somebody young and Black in office and Kay was there for ten years y’all she was the coolest because a lot of superintendents you don’t really want to be like them. You dislike them. But we wanted to be like Kaya. And we were like, that’s the young girl over there.
Myles E. Johnson: I still want to be like Auntie Kaya.
Kaya Henderson: Well thank you. [laughter] Thank you. But I mean, I will say, and I loved that job and we did great work, but the worst part of it, the best and the worst part of it was the public part, because you people think that they own you and that they have access to your life and you’re doing a job and you are still a person. And there were so many times where people would come at me and, you know, one, it requires you to have a lot of empathy in that role because like, people are not really thinking when they come at you, um but it also you’re like, aren’t I a person? Like, I’m a person. I get to decide what parts of me you consume and what parts of me you don’t consume. And people don’t believe that. People think that because you are a celebrity or you know, you have this public life, that that means that you belong to people wholly. And, you know, Keke clearly held back what part she wanted to hold back. And that’s her business. That’s how she you know, you don’t you nobody has gets access to everybody to anybody in this way. And I think we’ve got to remember that these are people, yes they’re entertainers, but these are people and politicians same thing. You just don’t get to comment on or have access to these people in this way. And I think, you know, there are people who will say, well, then they shouldn’t be celebrities. Not true. Not true, because you are a great actress or a great game show host or great whatever. You should not have to give up your whole entire personal life in order to do that job. And so we have to you know, I think clearly social media has warped our thinking about that. Um. But I do think that this whole moment of where we are in the world calls us back to our humanity. And I think we have to extend Keke that and and everybody else around the place. Everybody gets to live their life the way they want to. We get to comment on some of it, but not much. And they get to decide.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save the People is coming.
Kaya Henderson: [music break] My news this week is about artificial intelligence. In fact, last week, according to CNN, uh was the most significant week for artificial intelligence since the launch of ChatGPT last year. And I brought this to the podcast because I feel like people are not paying attention. Some people are not paying attention to what’s happening in the AI world. Um. And I can talk a little bit more about that later. But um the announcements that were made last week are indicative of the speed that the AI market is moving at, like literally last year ChatGPT burst on the scene. A zillion people were using it in 15 minutes. And like a year later, all of these different iterations, improvements, enhancements have been happening. And if you’re not paying attention, you will get left behind. So a couple of things that happened last week, OpenAI, which is one of the largest producers of of artificial intelligence, had their first developers conference. And at this developers conference, they did a bunch of things. They announced new updates to AI tools. Um. They announced a uh the ability to create custom versions of ChatGPT called GPTs and anybody can create their own GPT. Um. Whether you have coding experience or not, which is going to make accessibility super wide for generative AI, they announced a GPT store much like the App Store where your GPT, you can create a GPT for education or a GPT for productivity or lots of different GPTs based on whatever you do and the GPT store will allow anybody to search the different GPTs that are available that people have created and have access to them. So it means that loads more people will have access to these tools and technologies, not just what the big AI producers are creating, but what any developer is creating. Um. They also announced at this conference GPT4Turbo, which is the latest version of ChatGPT, which basically does 16 times more work than the previous version. Right. And this is literally I mean, ChatGPT GPT4 was released in April. This is now November. And the tool does 16 times more work than the tool that was released in April. Um. That all happened at one conference. Also, at right after that conference, there was a targeted attack. So two days after the conference, the developers conference. Um uh OpenAI experienced large scale outages when somebody attacked their servers. So this is ground zero for the tech wars and what’s happening. Um. And GPT went down for the first time. And that was a huge thing for anybody who uses this. Also last week, HumaneAI released their PIN product, which is the first AI wearable device it attaches to your clothing and it projects the information onto your hand so you can answer calls and emails and all kinds of stuff without holding a smartphone friends. And then [?] uh HumaneAI’s PIN goes on sale November 16th for $699. Like this stuff is not in the future. This stuff is next week. You can get this thing and start projecting stuff onto your hand. Um. And then there’s your boy, Elon Musk, who uh runs X A.I., X, A.I.. They are working on a chat bot called Grok. Where does this man get these, like his nomenclature is so wack. Like I’m no hashtag friend. Like my friends are like, what’s the hashtag for this weekend? Call me Elon. I can help you with better branding for this stuff. But it this thing is called Grok and it is a chat box that will be included in X or Twitter’s premium plus paid service in the United States. And the chat box has a sarcastic sense of humor similar to Elon Musk’s because we need that in our lives? Anyway. Coming soon on the AI front are things like Amazon’s Olympus. Apparently they’re pouring zillions of dollars into a Olympics which is prejected to be smarter than ChatGPT4. Um. YouTube is testing A.I. tools to improve its products and services. And what’s happening is, you know, basically everybody is using this technology to enhance um and enrich what they do. And I brought this to the podcast because, you know, um I think about it in and our work at Reconstruction for those people who don’t know. We teach African-American history and culture online to young people. Boom, quick, easy, simple. But, you know, we also are using generative AI to help teachers create more culturally responsive lesson plans. And part of the reason why we did that was because um we see white teachers well, white teachers in wealthy white areas already incorporating ChatGPT into how they teach and to the assignments that their kids are getting. And in in communities where teachers are teaching low income students and low income students of color, teachers are wary about generative AI. They don’t know what’s out there. Our communities are very distrustful and my real worry is that this stuff is happening at the speed of light. It’s not being designed for us, it’s not being designed with us. And if we’re not in here engaged in what is happening, we will once again be left behind on this technological frontier. And so I brought this um one to just say, here’s what’s happening, but two, to remind us that, you know, as scary as this stuff might seem it’s happening. And we need to get in here we need to know about this stuff and we need to make sure that our kids are are primed to pick this stuff up. I’ll say one more thing. I was in Phoenix this past week and I went to um this AR VR lab called Dreamscape Learn, where they basically harness the power of moviemaking and virtual reality and artificial reality to create to change how you teach college classes. And so and it was honestly like the most mind blowing thing that I’ve seen in a long time. And, you know, I asked the people I was like, so let’s talk about diversity. Do you have diverse coders and designers? Are kids able to see themselves and their communities in this? And um that is a live conversation for lots of people. And so we can’t be afraid of this technology. We’ve got to know, keep abreast of what’s happening and we’ve got to lean in on this so that we are not left behind, exed out whatever.
Myles E. Johnson: I had a little question, and I know if I have a little question that maybe probably listeners do too. So is there can you like tell us the difference between the chat being on top of the GPT? [laugh] And the GPT being by itself?
Kaya Henderson: What is the difference between ChatGPT and GPTs? Yes, so ChatGPT basically, you ask it a question, it scours the whole entire Internet and it comes up with an answer. Right. And sometimes that’s great. Sometimes it’s horrible. You’ve heard all about hallucinations and wrong information or racism or whatever, whatever. But most times it gives you a fairly decent answer. Um. In many things, it gives you a superior answer to what people are are um are doing, or what people might otherwise do. A GPT is basically a closed system, so it wouldn’t be pulling from the whole entire internet. It might just pull from your particular database. So if YouTube is working on it, you might not want it to go, YouTube might not want it to go to the whole Internet, YouTube might want it to pull answer questions just from the YouTube catalog. Right. And so that is that would be a YouTube GPT, Right. So this is just the ability to determine what what you load in, where your information comes from as opposed to the whole kit and caboodle.
Myles E. Johnson: It makes a lot of sense. Thank you, doctor Auntie Kaya. [laughter]
DeRay Mckesson: So there are two parts of this. One is that I do wish there was like a crash course that I could take on the GPTs because I’m not watching a long YouTube video and my friends who like it are so excited about it that they’re not good teachers right. Like, so [laughter] there’s that whole piece. So, so that’s one. The second is that I just, you know, I feel like an old man in this part where I’m like, I don’t have the bandwidth to learn one more thing yet. Like, I’m sort of like, out of it. I’m like, I get it. I see it. And I’m at the point where I’m like, I think this should be used for entertainment. Like, I’m not use I’m not sure it should be used for anything real. So if you need a quick synopsis, cool. If you need to make a little image, cool. I don’t want it making decisions about things. I don’t I just and maybe that’s because I need to learn more, but I’m like, I’m still nervous about this. Just because I’ve seen I’ve seen the movie. I was like, this was made in the most inequitable way by people who think they are smarter than everybody and technology’s going to save the world. Like that is their ethos. And I am certain that they have not thought about the way this can be used for bad very quickly, and then we’ll be reading a book about A.I. killed all these people. We’re like, how did it happen? I’m like, I knew it happened already, so I don’t know. It makes me nervous. I’m as interested in it as I am I am more nervous than interested.
Kaya Henderson: So you, I, I think that is a totally like, reasonable place to be. The reason why I would push a little bit on this is like, think about the internet, right? Like the Internet was going to do all kinds of things, right. People were very worried about what the Internet would be. And the Internet has tons of really bad uses. Right? We saw election interference and all kinds of things. And at the same time, the Internet has been ubiquitous, has become ubiquitous in how we live our lives, everybody uses the Internet, right. And my guess is that that is what’s going to happen with this generative AI stuff. People do know what is like, how it could be used for bad. Um. It did come about in all of the ways. And in fact, some of the people who created it are like, Oh my God, here’s how it can be used for bad, right? We we covered that on the podcast a little while ago, the Godfather of AI was like, war machines like that is what is going to happen it’s going to be terrible, blah, blah, blah and a few other things. And at the same time, like the train is not going to stop, right? So us being wary is just means that we continue to be out of the conversation. And that to me is scarier because, you know, I’ll just share our experience in working with this. You know, we we were like, can this help us create curriculum more quickly? And so we started prompting it and asking it the questions to see if it could get the, like, quality of lessons that we as Black human beings create. And our lessons are really good and nuanced and come from an asset based perspective and have a pedagogical outlook. Right? I’m saying all of these educationese terms to say we got some good stuff, right? And it is professional and it’s thoughtful and all of this whatnot. And of course, ChatGPT could not create what we’ve created, but we started trying to train it to get as close to what we created as possible. And then what we realized is it is not going to do that because it pulls from all of this junk out in the world and it pulls wrong things and whatnot. And so then the question is, can you build something that will, when it pulls out wrong things, you get it to spit it out because there’s a check or a balance? Can you get it to never give you, you know, a classroom exercise that says divide your students into masters and slaves and da da da da, because that’s what ChatGPT will give you or ChatGPT when you ask for, you know, great um leaders in African history. One of the things that comes up is Idi Amin. And you’re like, say what now? And so the challenge for us and I’m not a technologist is could we train a GPT, Myles to kick out those things, to really like think the way we think. And we’ve created a tool that helps teachers add African-American history and culture to their lessons that is really good and nuanced and is almost as good as what we would create ourselves. It took a lot to do that. And if we could do that, and I’m telling you, we’re not technologists, we’re educators, other people can figure out how to do this. I do think that a lot of the noise like this thing is getting better, like every 10 minutes. And so the initial noise that we’re worried about in three months or six months is not there’ll be a whole different set of problems and so I’m simply saying these people are going to fix the initial problems. But if we are not in the conversation saying what the next problems are going to be or what we’re seeing, then we are going to be left behind. Um. So I listen, I’m 53 years old. I [laugh] I am the least likely person to adopt new technology. But I’ve watched what happens in education when people of color are not in the room designing things and when we’re not trying these things out to see whether it works for us and with us. And I just decided we not going to be left behind this go round. Auntie Kaya going to be part of this conversation, baby.
Myles E. Johnson: Okay. Okay. And to your to your point, um Auntie Kaya that it is here. And then I know there’s like medical fields that are like using these things we already kind of like made fun of but also acknowledge that there are like legal people who are uh people who are in law, legal people, people who practice law using um the GPT and AI technology. So it really is integrating. And I think we’re in the very awkward, uncomfortable part of something integrating with you. But by the time the technology is able to be projected on your palm, the integration has really settled in. Um.
Kaya Henderson: Honey, that’s next week. Next week.
Myles E. Johnson: Right. So and by the time it’s under, to get that technology, by the time it kind of lands under $1,000. The access point to that is different because I just paid for my headphones that were six, you know, that were $600 from Apple. So the price of entry is just is way lower. Um so it is something–
Kaya Henderson: And it will get lower. It’ll get even lower, right?
Myles E. Johnson: Yes. And it is something to think about because two, Auntie Kaya’s just really sharp point, the Internet, we’re still discovering the ways the Internet is uh influencing us. Um. There’s always new studies about how social media is doing things that we didn’t expect for it to do, for it to do. And we also understand that there’s a whole thing that we call the dark Internet where the most heinous of things are being sold, traded, talked about, planned, and that will be happening with AI and the last thing, I ain’t trying to scare nobody. But if you think that the how to Google to how to do a domestic terrorist attack, I hate to say pipeline but no pun intended, but pipeline that’s very real that the uh the the AI to terrorist hateful things is very real too so if not for anything else, it’s to me it’s valuable to engage with even if you don’t want it in the dailyness of your life. It’s just good to know where um where the world’s going. It reminds me of what you brought up with Darius Jackson and Homelander and how so much of that Internet masculine culture is uh founded on interpretations of comic books and and animes and stuff like that. So it’s just good to know what’s going on. Just if so, you can just intelligently say, I ain’t doing that. [laughing] [music break]
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out and make sure you rate it wherever you get your podcasts. Whether it’s Apple podcasts or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Evan Sutton. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson.