In This Episode
- The White House announced a tentative agreement with freight rail companies and the unions representing 100,000 workers on Thursday, averting a strike that would have had huge economic consequences.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he paid to fly about 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – escalating a tactic used by other Republican governors to protest the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
- A recent study found that Muslim characters on TV face an “epidemic of invisibility.” Al-Baab Khan, the study’s lead author, tells us how portrayals based on stereotypes fuel Islamophobia.
- And in headlines: Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mississippi officials lifted the boil water advisory for Jackson residents, and Cardi B pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from a fight at a strip club in 2018.
- USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative: “Erased or Extremists: The Stereotypical View of Muslims in 200 Popular Episodic Series” – https://tinyurl.com/9bjmxwr3
- Vote Save America: Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, September 16th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What A Day recommending that you accompany this podcast with the scents of some of the new fall products from your local grocery store.
Tre’vell Anderson: I have to confess, Priyanka, I do not like the scent of fall.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh oh.
Tre’vell Anderson: The cinnamon, the nutmeg, the pumpkin spice.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh oh.
Tre’vell Anderson: No, thank you.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry I’m taking out my headphones. I can’t listen to this.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show. The boil water notice has finally been lifted in Jackson, Mississippi. Plus, rapper Cardi B accepted a plea deal for her role in a strip club brawl.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we wanted to update you on a story that we have been closely watching. So early yesterday morning, the White House announced a tentative agreement with freight railroad companies and the unions representing rail workers. So, Tre’vell, can you bring us up to speed here?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So as we mentioned on the show yesterday, the engineers and conductors who run the nation’s freight trains have had it with their rigid work schedules. And even after two and a half years of working through the pandemic, they say they still can’t take time off for sick or personal days. After years of ongoing contract negotiations, things came to a head in recent months, and workers were planning to strike by today, which would have had catastrophic consequences for our economy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. And this deal impacts more than 100,000 rail workers. As part of it, they’ll get a 24% pay increase for a five year period from 2020 to 2024. Along with some other incentives, though, they will only get one additional paid day off. So what do the workers have to say about this?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s kind of getting some mixed reactions and ultimately union members need to sign off on it. But President Biden hailed it as a victory when he spoke from the Rose Garden yesterday.
[clip of President Joe Biden] With unemployment still near record lows and signs of progress in lowering costs. This agreement allows us to continue to rebuild a better America with an economy that truly works for working people and their families. Today is a win. I mean this sincerely, a win for America.
Tre’vell Anderson: In the meantime, the strike has been called off. There is obviously more work to be done and we’ll be sure to keep following this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. Uh. In other big news, though, two prominent red state governors, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are continuing to play politics with the lives of migrants trying to enter this country. So on Wednesday, DeSantis paid to fly 50 migrants, most of whom are believed to be from Venezuela. From San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, which is an island off the coast of Massachusetts. And just left them there. Not to be outdone, Abbott sent two busses of migrants from Texas to right by Vice President Kamala Harris’s house in Washington, D.C..
Tre’vell Anderson: Which all of this, I want to be clear, is absolutely absurd.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s crazy. It’s crazy.
Tre’vell Anderson: It doesn’t make any sense. Do we have any idea why they did this?
Priyanka Aribindi: So these two governors, along with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, have been busing or flying migrants to sanctuary cities for months to protest the Biden administration’s policies on immigration. But they haven’t been doing it to random locations with zero notice like in these cases. So just so you all understand the extent of the cruelty here. First of all, the migrants who ended up in Martha’s Vineyard were reportedly told that their flights were going to Boston and that if they got on the flight, they would get expedited access to work authorization. Boston is a big city with much more infrastructure to receive people, much easier for people to get around to other places where friends and family might live. Very different from Martha’s Vineyard. So nobody on the ground in Martha’s Vineyard even knew that these migrants were going to show up. So they had to scramble at the last minute after they were already there to even receive them. And Greg Abbott’s case, he’s been sending busses of migrants to D.C. since April, but those busses usually go to Union Station where volunteers are there to receive them. They could help out. They can also travel to other places. This time he sent those busses close to Kamala Harris’s home. I think that’s like four-ish miles away. By his logic, she is in charge of the border. That is why he did that. And he just left them out on the streets in this residential neighborhood, kind of just in the middle to figure out where they were. They had no idea where they were. Obviously. Neither did the groups who usually receive those busses. So beyond packing people up and shipping them wherever they really wanted to. These governors deliberately chose to not tell anybody, so there’d be nobody there to help them out. It’s crazy.
Tre’vell Anderson: And that makes it, like, even worse. Like the idea that you’re just, like, sending people to these other cities is already you know–
Priyanka Aribindi: To the miiddle of nowhere.
Tre’vell Anderson: –bad. But then. Now you’re not, like, telling people so that they can have whatever support and help on the other end is particularly cruel. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Tell us a little bit about what is happening on the ground now. Are these people safe? Are they getting the help they need?
Priyanka Aribindi: So according to the League of United Latin American Citizens, two of the migrants on the busses that stopped in Harris’s neighborhood had to be hospitalized when they arrived. So not good. Fortunately, in Martha’s Vineyard, the community rallied to help these people out. They put together beds in a local church. They tried their best to assemble Spanish speaking volunteers, like going so far as to get kids who are in A.P. Spanish in the local high school to come help out. They provided meals, health care. But I mean, it didn’t have to happen in this scrambled, last minute, frenzied way. Like this is all a result of how these Republican governors chose to do this.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. What was their goal here? Why did this happen in the first place?
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re doing this ahead of the midterms. It’s a political stunt. They’re trying to play into the anti-immigrant sentiment that is apparently par for the course for the GOP base these days, but with really tangible human costs. And it might actually end up having legal ones for these governors as well. So yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom requested that the DOJ open an investigation into possible criminal or civil rights violations, especially in the case of the flight from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard. These people were being told that they were going to Boston, that they were going to get expedited work permits. All of that was a lie. So we don’t know what will happen there, but we’ll obviously keep you updated as soon as we learn more.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And speaking of xenophobic and racist sentiment, a recently released study about Muslim representation on TV reports that even though Muslims make up a quarter of the world’s population, they only represent about 1% of characters in popular television series. The study is titled Erased or Extremist The Stereotypical View of Muslims in Popular Episodic Series, and it comes from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. This is the entity that’s been doing a lot of studies on diversity, equity and inclusion in Hollywood over the last few years. Now, there are two things that stuck out to me about this study, Priyanka. The first is that it’s a follow up to a different report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that looked at Muslim representation in film from last summer. And basically, both studies say the same things, that Muslim folks are grossly underrepresented. And equally important to note, misrepresented when they are on screen.
Priyanka Aribindi: I believe it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Here’s one stat. The TV study found that out of the 98 Muslim characters with speaking roles, more than 30% of them were portrayed as perpetrators of violence.
Priyanka Aribindi: This is sounding very, very familiar. I mean, think about the TV that you watch and how Muslim people are portrayed in those shows. And is it positive? Probably not for the most part. What else stood out to you about this?
Tre’vell Anderson: The second thing was that this study came out just before the anniversary of 9/11 this year, which is of note because to me, so much of the anti-Muslim sentiment that comes from the lack of representation that we’re seeing and the fact that what little representation there is relies on stereotypes. All of that can be traced back to how the U.S. collectively responded to those attacks 21 years ago. So earlier this week, I spoke with Al-Baab Khan. She’s the lead author of The Erased or Extremist Study. I started by asking her about the impact of 9/11 on the current state of representation of Muslim folks in pop culture.
Al-Baab Khan: You know, a lot of the research that we did when we were even thinking about how we were going to build this study, you know, we saw that there was a lot of literature about pre 9/11 and post 9/11 representation of Muslims. We saw that even across like older films and TVs, there was still this idea of the Muslim Arab, you know, with the terrorist who’s in the deserts, right in this sensationalized way that is not relevant anymore. And I think now is yes, we’re seeing more effort and the conversations that are being made about Muslim representation, but we’re still seeing a lot of those tropes exist 20, 21 years later. You know, I came to America around the time of 9/11. Right? And my family itself was also surveyed by the Patriot Act. And so understanding the entire implications of the policies that were made around the Muslim community is being translated on film when we’re talking about American history itself. Right? We see The Hurt Locker. We see Zero Dark 30. These are monumental moments in American history. But what side are you seeing it from? So to me, it’s very personal because I think Islamophobia is not something that was a phase. I think it’s still very clear that it exists in different ways, especially when we think about the stories that are being said, the opinions that people had. We’re not taking away a tragedy that affected millions and millions of Americans and millions of people all over the world. But we wanted to kind of emphasize that, hey, we are a community that is so dynamic, that is so nuanced in the way that we exist, that it’s important that storytelling emphasizes that and starts to share those experiences as well.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So now the study that you’re the lead author of it calls what we’re seeing or not seeing, as it were, an epidemic of invisibility as it relates to Muslim storytelling. Talk to me about that use of language and what the implications are of an epidemic of invisibility.
Al-Baab Khan: That was a phrase that was coined by our founder, Dr. Stacy Smith. She had defined it as when we see a group or a community like completely excluded at all levels of storytelling or in the industry, right? When we see a group that is excluded from casting positions or directing or producing roles or even being, you know, prevented from having their voice in the writers room. Right. These are the types of voices that help shape the type of narrative that is on screen. And so when we see this epidemic of invisibility for, you know, especially the Muslim community right now, it has really extreme consequences for not only onscreen representation, but also for off screen representation for the people that aren’t being able to be listened to behind the camera. Right. And saying, hey, maybe we shouldn’t portray this community this way.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, I feel like I know for me, I do a lot of work around the Black community, queer and trans stories, and we talk about how so often the things we see on screen turn into like real life trauma or harm when that representation isn’t nuanced. Could you talk a bit about kind of the actual harm that Muslim communities worldwide right experience based on the problematic storytelling that we’re seeing?
Al-Baab Khan: The consequences that it has on the real world is extremely devastating to see um because when they are represented, you know, we see them in such a monolithic way, we see them such stereotyped they are consistently linked to violence. And what we’ve seen from previous studies is media violence, right? Unjustified aggression. And we see that the dominant form of information is you know the media that audiences consume. Seeing such poor representation of a community that makes up a quarter of the world population reinforces this notion of intolerance. It’s reinforcing this idea that, hey, when they’re linked to violence or we’re seeing them in antiquated roles or tropes, then that means that our behaviors and actions in the real world are to some degree justified. That type of um attitude and prejudice influences policies or influencing decisions about how we let those communities into our country. That influences how we even interact with this community. And that actually has real world effects with the Muslim children that are growing up in America or even when they’re growing up in other Western countries.
Tre’vell Anderson: One of the lines that stuck out to me from the study was this note about how Muslim folk are a faith based community that encompasses not only a religious identity, but also marginalized racial and ethnic groups. I know from some of the shows and films that I’ve watched that this complexity right isn’t always rendered on screen. We don’t even see queer and trans Muslims existing on TV or in films, and we know that they exist in real life. Right? What for you is the imperative of having more varied Muslim characters in stories, in movies and on TV?
Al-Baab Khan: When you have people you know from any community shown in such a dynamic way, it makes people who are part of those groups and who have that type of, you know, complexity to their own identity, feel included, especially if they’re in a part of a community that maybe hasn’t caught up to the progression yet. Being able to see that representation on screen can make them feel like, okay, no, it is okay for me to identify this way. From our study, we saw that you know across like over 8000 speaking characters. There was only one Muslim character that we identified as being presented as LGBT. We know that there’s more Muslims that identify as queer or trans or who are part of these communities. So not even being able to see one of your own community, but also being able to not see your own experience across different identities as well is, I think, very limiting. And yet again, it really excludes an entire experience that people may be sharing all over the world.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. What steps do you hope the entertainment industry is going to take? You know, now that, you know, you all have done this study and noted the disparities.
Al-Baab Khan: We know that representation behind the camera directly affects the type of representation that exists on camera. Right. You know, when we want to say that, hey, have better representation of Muslims, have better portrayals, well, who are the people that are making those decisions? And what we saw that it wasn’t Muslims at all. Right. I think when we looked at 17 of the US shows that had Muslim characters in our sample, it was less than like ten. I think it was even about three of the shows that had a muslim director, writer, producer, you know, behind the camera helping make the decisions. I think that’s our biggest thing, is getting Muslims behind the camera, giving them the opportunity across every level of the pipeline to help make those decisions, to help guide the storylines, to help guide the decisions that need to be made. So that way what we see on screen can make us think that, yes, I know that you know, someone from that community or someone who has strong familiarity from that community helped create that story.
Tre’vell Anderson: Priyanka, that was my interview with Al-Baab Khan of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. We will link to her study in the show notes, and that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, yesterday at a regional security conference in Uzbekistan. It was the first time the two allies met face to face since Russia invaded Ukraine. And it also marked Xi’s first trip outside of China since the beginning of COVID. Needless to say, they had a lot to catch up on. And Putin vaguely alluded to what he called Beijing’s, quote, “balanced position toward the situation in Ukraine”. That’s basically a nice way of saying China’s looking at Russia like they’re that one messy friend who always ends up losing their shoes after a night out. In any event, it’s clear that with all the setbacks Russia is dealing with in Ukraine, Putin really needs Beijing’s help right now more than ever.
Priyanka Aribindi: Later today, President Biden plans to meet with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan for the first time in person. They are both being held in Russia. Griner was sentenced to nine years in a prison camp for drug charges. And Whelan, who is accused of espionage, was sentenced to sixteen years. The Biden administration has repeatedly said that it is working to secure their release, but we haven’t heard about any substantial proposals since July.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, Dennis Rodman, you know, says he’s also, you know, trying to get Brittney Griner back. It’s all hands on deck, apparently.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, the people who need to be on it are on it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: According to this headline.
Tre’vell Anderson: State officials in Mississippi yesterday finally lifted the boil water advisory for residents in the city of Jackson after it had been in place for almost seven weeks. The advisory said tap water must be boiled before it was safe to drink or even used for cooking, brushing teeth and washing dishes. This comes after an ongoing water crisis caused by damaged infrastructure and heavy flooding from rain last month. But health officials warned there may still be high copper and lead levels in the city’s water. And the state’s governor said there’s still work to be done.
Priyanka Aribindi: A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced yesterday that they will wait until after the November midterms to vote on federal same sex marriage protections. This delay is great news for Republicans, many of whom would have had to put themselves on the record in opposition to a measure with broad support nationwide just a couple months before we all head to vote. Meanwhile, Democrats said that they will have a better chance of passing legislation after the election. But and this is a very important but, their chances will basically go to zero if they lose control of the Senate. So please, dear God, vote everybody.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Y’all. Y’all got to go and get out now. Make sure you’re registered and make sure you vote. Fans of Cardi B’s performance in the movie Hustlers may never get a sequel. But here’s a new story that has similar themes. She pleaded guilty yesterday to assault charges related to a fight she allegedly started at a New York City strip club. The incident occurred back in 2018, and it involved two bartenders, one of whom Cardi claimed was having an affair with her husband, Offset. As part of Cardi’s plea deal, ten other charges against her were dropped and she avoided prison time. But she was sentenced to 15 days of community service, which I’m praying she will spend with us at Vote Save America.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, what a great option we have provided. Also, who says we might not get a sequel to Hustlers? Fantastic film. I’d love a sequel.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a time. Usher walking in to the strip club to his own song will like [laughter] forever be an iconic moment. And sometimes all it takes to see things from a new perspective is for your old views to stop being politically convenient. Just over one day after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, MAGA man Don Bolduc disowned claims he previously made that the 2020 election was stolen by President Biden. This pivot came as leading GOP figures had expressed concern at his extreme views about election fraud and other topics would allow incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan to crush him in the general election. Here is Bolduc yesterday on Fox. After months of consistent election denial, demonstrating the art of the backpedal.
[clip of Don Bolduc] We uh you know, live and learn. Right. And I’ve done a lot of research on this and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from you know every party. And I have come to the conclusion and I want to be definitive on this. The election was not stolen.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. Oh, now now you want to say the election ain stolen?
Priyanka Aribindi: Girl boss, how are you getting that conclusion from talking to voters around the state? [laughter] Like what evidence is that giving you? Like you just decided that wasn’t people’s opinion.
Tre’vell Anderson: These people don’t be making no kind of sense.
Priyanka Aribindi: None. None.
Tre’vell Anderson: Y’all better watch out who y’all voting for okay. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to discuss an Animal Planet star being drafted to replace the queen in an important role.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad and today we’re relying on our years of experience as investment professionals for a segment called WAD Money. Yes, it’s pronounced WAD for this, for purposes of rhyming with mad money. You’ll get over it. It’ll be fine. Today’s news comes to us from the land down under where a new face will soon be showing up in everybody’s wallet. Australia’s National Bank announced soon after the death of Queen Elizabeth that her son, King Charles, will take her place on the $5 bill. It’ll be a while before the official debut of Chuck Bucks, as I’m calling them. But already some are suggesting alternatives to King Charles on their money, including a man beloved by Australians and feared by crocs, The Crocodile Hunter himself, Steve Irwin. One Change.org petition collected 30,000 signatures, arguing that Irwin should be on the bill instead of Charles. Others online suggested Heath Ledger. He apparently is from Australia as well. You learn something new every day.
Priyanka Aribindi: We learn so much.
Tre’vell Anderson: But Priyanka. What’s your take on this from a personal and financial perspective?
Priyanka Aribindi: They probably could have left it the Queen and there wouldn’t have been an issue. But you can’t go changing it to Charles. [laughter] Are you kidding me? Someone who is like universally unpopular and like hated by everybody. You can’t go do that in 2022. Like absolutely no. Of course this is happening to them, it wouldn’t have happened. Probably no one would have said a word if it had just stayed Queen Elizabeth. But that’s what they get. Tre’vell, what is your take on this?
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I’m just like focused on the fact that like, everyone seems so like hell bent over, you know, human beings being on the money. Why don’t they put a kangaroo?
Priyanka Aribindi: Kangaroo.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, great minds think alike, okay? [laugh] Why not put that wonderful, beautiful–
Priyanka Aribindi: We’ve got some ideas for your–
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely!
Priyanka Aribindi: Change.org petition.
Tre’vell Anderson: Put that marsupial on your money. It’ll be fine. You’ll never have to change it. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which seems more economical to me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Kangaroo is never getting canceled. [coughing] Nothing’s ever coming out–
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: –that they did. You’re fine. You’re fine.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, that was WAD money, for legal purposes we have to say that our financial expertise is still mostly aspirational. FYI. So be safe. Okay. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go. Monday is the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth the second. We’ll talk about who will be there and who won’t. On our next show. In the meantime, check out Pod Save The World’s bonus episode about the Queen’s life and legacy, as host Ben Rhodes sits down with historian Dan Snow for a deep dive into her place in British history. It’s available right now and new episodes come out every Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, renounce your old bad views, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just Steve Irwin’s name on the Australian dollar like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And phone bank with us Cardi B.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. This is a great way to do your community service. Okay, we know you’re politically active. You could get people out.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, she’s probably already phone banking, but I mean, just join us and it’ll be great.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.