Regulate the Wealthy | Crooked Media
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June 25, 2024
Pod Save The People
Regulate the Wealthy

In This Episode

State’s firearm death rates exposed, Sha’Carri Richardson earns spot on U.S. Olympic team, Zuckerberg compromises child safety on Meta, a reparations task force in Chicago, and Jonathan Majors tearful acceptance of Perseverance Award.



Sha’Carri Richardson wins 100-meter final to earn spot on U.S. Olympic team

Online Tool Allows State-by-State Analysis of Firearm Death Rates over 40-Year Period

How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety, States Say

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson signs executive order for reparations task force

Jonathan Majors Breaks Down in Tears While Accepting Perseverance Award After Assault Conviction







DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. Welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode, it’s me, De’Ara, Myles, and Kaya talking about the underreported news from the past two weeks because we took a week off. We’re back. Please follow us on Instagram at @Podsavethepeople. Here we go. [music break]




DeRay Mckesson: Hey everybody, and welcome back to another episode of Pod Save the People. I know that we have been. It feels like we’ve been gone for a while, but we’re back and ready to go. I’m DeRay at @deray on Twitter. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson and @pharaohrapture on Instagram and TikTok. 


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


De’Ara Balenger: And I’m De’Ara Balenger at @dearabalenger on Instagram. 


DeRay Mckesson: Well, let’s start out with some great news is, did anybody watch US track and field our girl Sha’Carri. Uh. The three Black women, of which Sha’Carri was one who will be going on to the Olympics. Noah Lyles did well. The kid from not Baltimore, but close to Baltimore. [laughter] Quincy, did well. But did anybody watch?


Kaya Henderson: Can you please? Can you please stop? Can you please stop? Give that–


DeRay Mckesson: He’s from Baltimore in my mind. It’s fine. He’s from Baltimore. He might go to a D.C. school, but Quincy is from he’s he’s from the Baltimore state. Um. Okay. Well, good morning did y’all watch track and field?


Kaya Henderson: I watched track and field. This was a great sports weekend. Um. Also, well yes, I watched track and field. I watched the women. I watched the men. There are some amazing, amazing athletes. And I think NBC is doing a great job covering all of this lead up stuff. Like, I feel more excited about the Summer Olympics than I have in a long time. Um. But it was an explosive track and field weekend. Oh my gosh. 


De’Ara Balenger: I did not watch it. I just was on Instagram and saw the clip of Sha’Carri’s family watching her run. 


DeRay Mckesson: Amazing. 


De’Ara Balenger: That was the best part for me. So I need to go. I, you know what–


DeRay Mckesson: De’Ara have you seen the have you seen the ad that they did with Sha’Carri and her aunt and her grandma? 


De’Ara Balenger: No. Am I going to cry? 


DeRay Mckesson: Oh I gotta send it to you. Oh yes. 


De’Ara Balenger: I’m going to cry. 


DeRay Mckesson: It’s eight minutes. 


De’Ara Balenger: Oh my God. 


DeRay Mckesson: And it is the story of you know, her mother didn’t raise her. Her grandma and her aunt did. But this is their first sort of interview about it. 


De’Ara Balenger: Right. 


DeRay Mckesson: But it’s like in an ad. Top tier. Beautiful.


De’Ara Balenger: Okay, I’m going to check it out. This is where I feel like a young, because I’m going to go on the YouTube and find all these things that y’all are talking about. 


DeRay Mckesson: My job. [banter] Y’all can’t see De’Ara, De’Ara got these fly shades on. It’s early in the morning and she is styling on this recording. 


Myles E. Johnson: Like these good 1970s aviators with the little orange tint. Very very Sharon Tate. Um.


De’Ara Balenger: There it’s just it’s just a cover for the glare that comes from your computer. So it’s not even like sunglasses. They’re just like old lady–


Kaya Henderson: They’re blue light glasses. 


De’Ara Balenger: But yeah. So. 


Kaya Henderson: I have some too in pink. 


Myles E. Johnson: Well who’s the who’s the designer. We’ll see how how [?] [laughter]. Just some blue light Diors. [laughter] Um. I did not see anything with when it comes to the sports until, you know, it went viral on the internet, that um, Sha’Carri, um won. And I’m always excited for her to win. I think I’m really also excited for her to win, because I know that her narrative was a little twisted, the last time I seen her touch the internet and I felt like people were using her name uh maliciously. So I like the fact that she’s able to not only just win the sport, but also reclaim a narrative in the media, because usually the last time we see you and hear from you is the last time we remember you. So I love the I love her being able to come back and reclaim herself as, as, as a winner. 


Kaya Henderson: It was interesting because um, not only did Sha’Carri win, but Angel Reese won in the most recent matchup between her team and Caitlin Clark. So Chicago and Las Vegas played on yesterday. 


DeRay Mckesson: Chicago and Indiana. Indiana.


Kaya Henderson: I mean Indiana, sorry. Um. Chicago and Indiana and uh, and Angel Reese, I mean, her team was down 14 points, and that girl pulled it out, and now she is so Baltimore, DeRay. [laughing] She is so Baltimore. 


DeRay Mckesson: She is. Did you see her quote? She said, they said, how’d you do it? She said I’m a dawg. You can’t [?] that.


Kaya Henderson: She said, I’m a dawg uh like–


DeRay Mckesson: Come on Angel Reese. 


Kaya Henderson: Not not D-O-G. D-A-W-G. Right. And the thing that I find really interesting is like people’s responsiveness to that, right? Why why does she have to be so blah, blah, and whatever, whatever. We allow men to do that, but we don’t allow women to be fierce and competitive and to talk trash. And so I was super excited to see her. And then Myles to contrast like Angel. I mean um, Sha’Carri has a new media thing, which is very gracious and very humble. And I feel like before she was trash talking, she was giving the people what they wanted and all of that jazz. But now somebody has told her to tone it down and to be gracious to your teammates and all of that kind of stuff, which is lovely, and I like that and what not. 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s kind of wack. 


Kaya Henderson: But yes, I feel like girl. Be the dawg, do the thing. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah yeah. It’s kind of wack.


Kaya Henderson: Like, whatever, you earned it. 


DeRay Mckesson: I–


Kaya Henderson: You earned it. 


DeRay Mckesson: I don’t know, Kaya. Kaya, I don’t know if she I think that what Sha’Carri. I don’t feel like she toned it down. I feel like she realized people were using her and I’ll never forget–


Kaya Henderson: Uh huh. 


DeRay Mckesson: –when she was like, they stopped inviting me because she was that girl. And then the weed thing happened and–


Kaya Henderson: Yup. 


DeRay Mckesson: She was like, oh, they was using me. She was like, they was. I was everywhere. I got invited to everything. And then all of a sudden people threw me away and I it feels like to me she didn’t even pull back, but she was like, y’all each eat your words on the track. 


Kaya Henderson: On the track. 


DeRay Mckesson: I wanna show everybody.


Kaya Henderson: I’m down with that.


DeRay Mckesson: [?] but she still got the long nails, she still got that–


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


De’Ara Balenger: But it it could be something to do with because this is the other beautiful thing about this is her whole team is going to the Olympics. So she Sha’Carri, Twanisha Terry and Melissa Jefferson. And Jefferson said that these girls have literally been my sisters. I love them to death. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without how they pushed me. So it may just be this, this trio. 


Kaya Henderson: In this moment.


De’Ara Balenger: Kaya that has to, exactly. Exactly. Exactly.


Kaya Henderson: I’m down with that. But I do want to make the point that, like, I want Black girls to be Black girls in all of their Blackness, whether it is fierce–


De’Ara Balenger: That gave me [?] chills. 


Kaya Henderson: –and competitive, whether it is gracious and humble, like I want us. That’s what freedom is like. Freedom is the ability for Angel to say, I’m a dawg. They later on they were like, you know, how do you your team looks to you for energy, she was like, yup. And so I have to bring it like she wasn’t apologetic. She is clear about her role as a leader on the team like I want I want Black women to be able to express–


Myles E. Johnson: Absolu–


Kaya Henderson: –our fullness. Oh my gosh. 


Myles E. Johnson: Absolutely. 


Kaya Henderson: And this weekend was it. Mmm. 


Myles E. Johnson: Absolutely. As somebody who just [?] out the LGBT center on the stage [laughter] it is is so important for you to be able to put your hand on your hip and be able to talk how you talk and speak how you speak. It’s it’s it’s we’re we’re we’re thirsty for that as a as a as a nation. [laugh]


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya uh you got to see Alicia, who’s also, uh on the Track and Field team. They mic her up and, like, while she’s getting ready. And she is so wonderfully Black and herself. Like, she somebody call. So she’s like um, I’m mic’ed, I can’t I can’t call me back. You know, she just she was just great. She’s awesome. The whole thing is awesome. And this woman, Miss Amy comes over, she’s like, I gotta [?]. It just was great. You gotta watch it. I’ll send it to you. Um. You know, I also wanted to bring up Trump. I don’t know if you saw the recent thing where some rapper that I’ve never heard of in my entire life had Trump out in a community, and it was this whole thing, and I bring it up because I just keep more than before. I keep seeing this like, Black people are voting for Trump thing, and I just want to bring it here because I don’t know other places that are talking about it, but I’m interested. And also, Amber Rose was there with this rapper that I’ve never heard of, so I can’t even I’ll have to find his name. But this whole like, you know, Black men for Donald Trump moment that the media is pushing is so I don’t know I’m really I’m interested in what you all have to say. 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s so wild to me. So I don’t know if I’m totally if I totally buy the narrative that there is an extreme amount of more people voting who are Black, who are voting for Donald Trump like that, that statistic like, I think I will have to like see that. What I do buy is that there is interest in the narrative that there is a lot of Black people voting for Donald Trump. I said a lot of times on this podcast is that I do personally believe that we’re seeing a crystallization of a more conservative mainstream Black person and people and groups, and I think that is something to look at. If you’re truly on the left or a leftist and you’re and your black, and you want to know what’s going on inside of your Black community. I’m not sold at all that those Black people are now voting for Trump, if that make, if that makes sense. But I do think that there’s somebody some bodies who want us to believe that there are Black people who are voting, who who are voting for Trump. For to me, obvi– maybe, maybe some obvious reasons. Not so obvious reasons. The first one that comes to my mind is because if it looks normal, if it looks uh, if it if it looks like something that should be happening, if it looks like if he if he can appear as if he’s somebody who’s in touch, then that could maybe curve some of this. I but don’t even give me the [?]. I just wait I just tried to, like, put my mind into Trump’s head, and, like, it got too stupid, too quick. I don’t I don’t know the whole [laughin]. I don’t know the whole strategy of why Trump’s doing what he’s doing. But it has something to do with Negroes and pacifying Negroes and or trying to convince other Negroes that it’s it’s actually not that extreme or or or, you know, sabotage to your race by voting or being associated with him. That’s the only thing that I can think of. But, you know, it’s just minstrelsy of another of another of another name to me, in actuality. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. I will say I have, um I know some people. I know some Black men who–


Myles E. Johnson: Name them.


Kaya Henderson: –at least who at least on the socials, [laughing] who at least on the socials are not many. Um. But I know a couple. And part of what I realized in why they are supportive of Trump is not necessarily Trump. It is it is a rejection of the prominent narrative that Black people should vote Democratic. It is a, um an attempt at independence. I’m not going to do what Big Brother tells me to do. I’m not going to believe all of this stuff that, you know, I see in mainstream media. I’m smart enough to figure this out for myself. And so I’m going counterculture is kind of it. Right? And while I appreciate the spirit of independence, [laugh] and while I appreciate the media critique, I don’t think they appreciate the danger that is associated with this particular moment of time in this particular um, I don’t know, defection from the norm, if you will. Um. But I, I understand a little bit their need to, you know, not eat what is a, whatever people are feeding. Right. To to be critical thinkers and to, you know, sort of weed through the muck and figure out what they want for themselves. I just don’t think this is the moment to do [laugh] that. On this particular topic. For what it’s worth, respectfully. 


Myles E. Johnson: He’s he’s the biggest of the big brother. Ain’t no big ain’t no bigger brother than Trump. 


Kaya Henderson: Say that chile.


Myles E. Johnson: Ain’t no bigger brother than Trump.


De’Ara Balenger: I think what I’m curious about is who is the Black person working on this campaign surfacing these rappers, alleged rappers. That’s what I’m very– 


Kaya Henderson: The people we’ve never heard of before? 


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: Who are finally getting their fifteen minutes?


De’Ara Balenger: Because I just feel like who who are you? Make yourself known please. Like and I because I think before like when it was like little Wayne and Kodak Black and those folks like endorsing Trump, it was less to my perspective. It was less of an endorsement and more of he pardoned them. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. Like, that was the–


De’Ara Balenger: You know what I’m saying? 


Kaya Henderson: That was his get out of jail– 


De’Ara Balenger: Like that was–


Kaya Henderson: –free card. 


–that was the hook.


Kaya Henderson: You have to pay that back. 


De’Ara Balenger: And I–


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: –feel like now the hook is like, I don’t I don’t know what the hook is, I guess. So I guess it’s like, who is the person that’s reaching out to these rappers and being like, y’all want to get on stage with Donald Trump? 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s probably not hard, right? Like it’s probably not hard to– 


DeRay Mckesson: OT7, OT7 Quanny is the rapper who was in Philly with Trump. 


De’Ara Balenger: But there’s other ones too. Then there are these folks that were in, Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow in Detroit. No, that was in the Bronx. 


Kaya Henderson: Who? 


De’Ara Balenger: Exactly. Um. Icewear Vezzo, a Detroit based rapper. That’s what I’m saying, this person is finding these rappers town to town. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m sure it’s not. I’m sure it’s not hard to go on YouTube and go on SoundCloud and find somebody, specifically somebody who has like under 20K, 10K followers. And all–


De’Ara Balenger: One of these fools has a million though, in this little NBC article I’m reading. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay we need to do a little bit of a bot run. No shade. [?] [laughter] We need we need–


DeRay Mckesson: Myles you kill me. 


Myles E. Johnson: We need to do a little bot run on that. But I’m sure it’s easy to find people who are in these places. And, you know, I’m guessing money is talking, you know uh that–


De’Ara Balenger: That part, that. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: And now we done now–


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: That Myles you yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: Because these folks ain’t getting on the stage for free. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mm mm. 


De’Ara Balenger: They ain’t doing that. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mm mm mm mm. 


De’Ara Balenger: So the person we’re looking for on the Trump campaign is more kind of like a Don King kind of person. 


Myles E. Johnson: [mumble] Okay. I’m too young to know that reference. [laughter] I’ve never heard of Don King before. Who’s Don King?


DeRay Mckesson: Never heard of Don King before? Whoa!


Myles E. Johnson: No my my my youthfulness is getting it fuzzy. 


Kaya Henderson: Oh my gosh. 


Myles E. Johnson: What is Don King? I heard of Don King before, but I was that was me actively rejecting it. 


De’Ara Balenger: Oh gosh.


DeRay Mckesson: Oh, I was like what? [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: Right. 


DeRay Mckesson: Um. I also wanted to we because we had a week off I know that some of the, Myles you wanted to talk about that we had not heard your thoughts on was uh the White House Juneteenth–


Myles E. Johnson: Oh, my gosh.


DeRay Mckesson: I believe it was the White House Juneteenth party. And there was a picture of Billy Porter, and I know that you wanted to talk about it. So we are interested in what you had to say. 


Myles E. Johnson: Now, that’s too much pressure. But once upon a Juneteenth. [laughter] Once upon a Juneteenth. Uh. Billy Porter was standing next to I’m sure by now everybody’s seen the picture. But Billy Porter was standing next to President Biden. And what did Billy Porter say when he saw this imperialist white hand stretched out? He said, let me kiss this old imperialist white hand. And not only kiss, but look up in the camera lens as if to say, not only do I see this in this imperialistic white hand that I’m going to kiss. I also see the gaze of the camera and I’m committed to this. So that picture has went viral. My big thing with this picture, just this picture is I believe in I believe in symbolism and aesthetic symbolism so much. And I think that because the powers that be have often poised Billy Porter as the catchall for black queerness and because the president is just as much as a intellectual, political, uh symbol of power as it is an aesthetic symbol of power. Like the fact that you actually have a picture of somebody who is Black and queer and that symbol kissing the hand of white imperialism right now while there are um, there while there’s wars happening, famine, famine, all the things that are happening. It like made my skin crawl to see. And I also think when it comes to Billy Porter there [pause], sorry y’all, I had to take a little pause because every single word that came in front of my head was a curse word. When I think about [laugh] when I think about Billy Porter and his and his desire to be James Baldwin. His desire to uh fit into spaces that are politically charged. I think, what the hell are you doing? What the hell are you doing? There is a way. I even looked up um, how Denzel Washington was speaking about Malcolm X when he was shooting and when promoting the Malcolm X stuff. There is actually a way that you now have to comport yourself when you take on these titans, when you take on these political figures, it’s not just an acting job for us. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes, Myles. 


Myles E. Johnson: And we all know for Black people, art, film, these things are not just a film. Malcolm X has changed how people see ourself how Black people see ourselves. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: And how and how we see each other. So it’s not just a film, it’s not just a a play. It’s really you taking on and carrying on the baton of the legacy of the person who you’re touching. And James Baldwin would simply not kiss the hand of a president, period. Specifically not while there are such things happening like poverty, economic and and food racism happening, uh things that are happening globally. 


Kaya Henderson: Israel and Palestine. 


Myles E. Johnson: Exactly. I mean, that goes without saying. So I’m just so, so so I’m just I’m just baffled that we’re at the stage where [pause] hold on all the curse words, but like I’m just baffled that we’re at the stage where we have ooh, I don’t know how else to say this this [?] this is just going to land probably more provocative than I want than I want it to, but it’s just how I feel. I feel like we’re at this stage where minstrelsy buffoonery Samboism, is taking the lead, um and in control of the Black, the Black public image in a way that is not even anymore. I think we’ve always had half and half. I think we’ve always had a diverse spillage of the respectable, the unrespectable, the minstrelsy, the the radical. And I feel like it’s not even anymore. I feel like the clowns have taken over. [laughing]


DeRay Mckesson: That’s how I, you know, I hate to make a connect, but I think about um, I think about some of the shows I see come out on Zeus and Tubi, and it really does feel like the clowns have taken over. I’m like, you know, that was a, I we’re going far from the Billy Porter conversation but in terms of the clowns taking over, but the picture was really something. The picture was something. 


Myles E. Johnson: Did y’all see the picture? 


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm.


Kaya Henderson: I saw the picture. [laughing]


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya, that’s all [?]. That that auntie sound. Was really all you need ed. I saw the picture. 


Myles E. Johnson: I saw the picture child. 


Kaya Henderson: It was really. I mean, it was stunning. I was just thinking to myself, like, what were you thinking in that moment? I get it. It’s heady to be invited to the White House. It is heady to be standing on a stage with the president and the vice president and whatnot. I get all of that, but I I, don’t think that I’m [?] been to the White House a couple times, and I have, you know, seen the people and done the things and felt the excitement in my heart. But nothing ever said, Kaya, bend down, kneel, kiss a hand. And [?] and I’ve been to Black presidents and white president’s White Houses. Um. Never, ever. Mm mm. I I I–


Myles E. Johnson: And smiling to the camera. 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. I mean I, you said all of the things Myles, I don’t have anything more to add except my auntie outrage. 


Myles E. Johnson: Just before–


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah I don’t have it. I don’t have it either. I don’t either.


Myles E. Johnson: Just before we wrap up on the subject matter too, I just want to speak the name of Eartha Kitt, because that is one another person who I thought about and who um, I researched when she went to go see um uh, Lady Bird Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, and um, and made, and, you know, the reports around making Lady Bird Johnson cry, but I think we need more people of all races, of all heritages and backgrounds, who aren’t as seduced and hypnotized by the White House. And I totally understand, and if you listen to Eartha Kitt, she said that she was surrounded by these homemakers who were talking about the napkins and talking and trying to steal glassware and so hypnotized and seduced by being in the Hollywood of the of the presidency. And she was the only one being like, oh, I still want to talk about these subject matters. I’m in here talking about these subject matters, and I’m actually not impressed or moved by–


Kaya Henderson: Your napkins. 


Myles E. Johnson: By [?] by these napkins, and we need more people who are going to the White House who are not impressed by the napkins, because we are in dire times. And if you actually are that close to power, we need more people who are able to be able to comport themselves and speak freely, but also speak um speak towards truth, towards power, because it’s not the time for pictures and selfies, Instagram lights and oh my God, I can’t believe President Biden took a selfie with me that it’s gross and it’s just disgusting. Grow up. 


De’Ara Balenger: Those are the only people that this White House will invite to events.


Kaya Henderson: Woop say that De’Ara. Say it.


De’Ara Balenger: So that’s that’s who these folks are. 


Kaya Henderson: It’s so interesting. 


De’Ara Balenger: So if you if you–


It’s so interesting. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: Who I see–


De’Ara Balenger: At–


Kaya Henderson: –now invited to–


De’Ara Balenger: Come on. 


Kaya Henderson: –Black events. 


De’Ara Balenger: Come on. 


Kaya Henderson: At the White House, it is a very different set of people. 


Myles E. Johnson: So what that means is that this president’s hold on that means in some ways, when it comes to Black people, this presidency is not far off to a from a gold sneaker. That’s not that much different than a gold sneaker. That’s not I’m being serious. That’s not much different than–


De’Ara Balenger: But– 


Myles E. Johnson: –getting a rapper and getting to do it now. The scale of people who will do it and the, and the, and the popularity of the people who will do it. But if you’re going to get people who are simply here for who are here from sports and entertainment, who are not going to challenge you to go in the presidency, and that’s going to be your representation for Black people, people who are just part of entertainment, who are not going to challenge anything that to me, that’s that’s a that’s a Biden gold sneaker. Better and and  and well, well, better branded. But it’s really to me very similar concepts. 


Kaya Henderson: But isn’t this the–


De’Ara Balenger: I don’t I don’t–


Kaya Henderson: –problem of this election, right? That for a lot of people there is not a huge difference between between the two candidates. That is the problem of the 2024 election. And while that may be absolutely true, Myles, I still think that we have to draw a bright line for the fact that we might not like we we don’t like the minstrelsy, the [?], the buffoonery. Um. But for me, there is a clear choice in this election. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: And–


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: So I want I want our listeners to understand that we are able to speak truth to power, and at the same time, we’re able to make a rational choice around what’s in our best interest as a country, as a people, as a community. And that is not to, you know, equalize the two and, and therefore say, I’m not voting or I don’t want anybody or what have you, but to still make a clear choice and to be able to say that while we’re making this choice, we see some things that need to be fixed. That’s where we are. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. No, no. Absolutely. And I do. Yeah. No, I, I totally agree with that. But it is one of those things where you do want to draw some connections. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: To to be able to highlight this is, this is how come so many people are dissatisfied. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: Because because it would be because of this. So yeah. But absolutely.


Kaya Henderson: And I think we respect our community enough to understand that we are critical thinkers, right. And critical thinkers–


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: –allow us to hold two, you know, ideas in our head at the same time, like we want people to question, we want like that’s the point of these conversations, right? For us to highlight the things that people are not talking about and to be clear about what we really believe. So I love this podcast. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Stay tuned. There’s more to come. 




DeRay Mckesson: On to the news. I want to bring it back to Sha’Carri because in Sha’Carri’s eight minute add that features her family and her aunt and her grandma as she talks about being raised and her biological mother. She also talks about dealing with um suicide. And I thought it was really powerful that they included that in the, in the eight minutes, because there are a lot of people who would shy away from topics around suicide, as we know, it’s not discussed. At time we’ve talked about it on the podcast before, but the reason I’m bringing it back up here is one Sha’carri made me think of the topic, but I read a post by Asheley Van Ness, who’s the associate director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice, Economic Justice in Society. It’s a lot going on at that center at the University of Chicago. And she was talking about a new RAND tool that came up, that came out about firearm mortality earlier in the year. It’s a phenomenal piece of data vis. Um. You should check it out. But the thing that stuck with me–


Kaya Henderson: Say data vis for people who are not data nerds. 


DeRay Mckesson: Oh, it’s just a phenomenal way to visualize data. Uh. 


Kaya Henderson: Thank you. 


DeRay Mckesson: Shorthand as data vis. [laughter] But one of what she wrote that I did not know before Asheley Van Ness said this, so shout out if anybody knows Asheley Van Ness, at the North University of Chicago center. She’s on it. She said one of the takeaways highlighted in the media reports of the meeting was a need to focus in on suicides. Suicides continue to account for most US gun deaths. In 2023, more than 42,967 people died from gun related injuries. Over half of those deaths were suicides. [pause] That legitimately blew my mind. Like, I I wouldn’t if you had told me to bet or to guess a percentage, I might have said 20% at the high range. There is not a world where I would have said over half. And it’s so interesting because so many of the conversations around gun violence, I feel like, are this idea of murders in cities. And da da da, it is not that over half of the firearm related deaths in the United States are actually suicide. And I think about the idea of connection is actually a public policy issue. It’s not just a frou frou like the fact that we need to find third spaces or a bowling, alone or whatever you whatever your framework is for talking about the loneliness epidemic, whatever it is, is that half of the gun deaths in the country being suicide, it legitimately blew my mind. Like, I was like I was fascinated by it. So that’s one I wanted to bring to see what you all had to think. And the second is, if you go to the actual RAND study, it is really powerful. Um. Because with the data vis, what you can do is that you can actually look by state and see um, the way firearms deaths changed and you can map it to policy changes as well. So I won’t, go through all of it. But what I will show you is or what I will talk through, I’m showing them on the screen while we talk is that there are some the national average for suicides. You can actually see it on the chart, but then they’re states that are above the national average and the states that are high above the national average for um firearm suicides are Alaska, North Dakota, Wisconsin. You look at Wyoming, um Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma. It is just stunning. I, I knew that there was an issue with um Mississippi, Maine, North Dakota, Kentucky, most of the states are above the um above the national average. Interestingly, I went in the tool and looked at Maryland because I was just interested in my home state. And Maryland is–


De’Ara Balenger: Ooh. 


DeRay Mckesson: –is lower than the national average, which is a good thing. DC is lower than the national average as well. But I brought it here because we talked about suicides before. Knew it was an issue, I just really was shocked to learn that half of the firearms deaths in 2023 were suicide. So. Pass it to y’all.


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah I think. I think it’s really hard to not um tackle this subject without for me to not without practice also practicing radical vulnerability. It feels upside down to not do it to not do that. I think probably this year, probably 2023, 2024 has been the hardest mental health year that I’ve had since maybe before the pandemic, and I think about so much of that has to do with living in a city, so much that has to do with um career transition and just like living just economic stuff, just all those different pressures and me having to navigate those things within and all the other things, just the chemistry things that happen in like one’s brain that makes somebody, um depressed and and andanxious. And this is an interesting report to come in because there was so many nights that I, you know, bad nights, which is not just nights, but days or weeks that I had. And I would kind of come out and I would think, thank God. You can’t have no gun in New York City. And I say that in jest, because that’s just how I that’s just how I speak. But in all seriousness, I said thank you that that that there it was there’s some type of block to to to those things happening. And to your point, DeRay, when people talk about third places and loneliness epidemics and stuff like that, when you have access to guns, when you when there’s not adequate gun control, none of those solutions really work when the gun is accessible. And I and I do think when it comes to somebody who has my therapy background with somebody, to me who has had experience in the psychiatric ward, nobody should be letting me have a gun. 


De’Ara Balenger: Right. 


Myles E. Johnson: Nobody should be letting me own own own a firearm. And I and I and I think that has to also be a part of gun control because I think it’s it’s nice to talk about um solutions to um loneliness. It’s nice to talk about um these intellectual spiritual and emotional solutions. But we need pragmatic solutions too because as you can see, so many of those solutions don’t even start to begin to touch people until they have already made a very, very permanent decision. And that’s what this made me, that this made me think of, that this is also such a um, call for more gun control, um more detailed gun gun control. You know, I’m, I’m I’m far left on this so I’m saying, you don’t, don’t nobody need no gun. I think even cops, I’m like you need y’all need to have little batons. Like, I’m like, nobody like, nobody needs to have a gun. That’s where I sit on this issue. But specifically when it comes to does this person have um suicide, like all these different records that you can get from therapists or all these, I don’t know. They just needs to be something where when you when you have [sigh] when it when it appears as though you you have you might be drawn to self-harm, that there’s some type of prevention in the way. To me, that felt like the, this felt like the perfect uh, argument for for gun control for that those reasons too. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. I cosign on that Myles. Um. There is a podcast called Last Day by Lemonada. Can I say that on here? 


DeRay Mckesson: Woop woop. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. And and I um, did some, some editing for them around the crisis and suicides in the Midwest and the middle of America. And I think that a lot of the gun accessibility issue was the issue, right, that many young, mostly men in the Midwest, um are experiencing all kinds of the same things that you just laid out career displacement and, you know, economic um insecurity and whatnot, and, and make a permanent decision and have access to guns. And it is, I think, one of the I think the gun control issue is one that is so complex because, you know, the many of the same people who are advocating for more guns, less control, are live in communities that are experiencing the highest level of suicides. And I’m not sure how to reconcile those two things. Um. But, I I um, I don’t know, I this the these statistics are staggering. And what makes me angry is that other countries see these statistics and think we’re going to do something about them, right? We’re going to we’re going to implement gun control. I think about New Zealand. I think about the UK. And everywhere that implements gun control, murders and suicides go down substantially. And we’re the only country, it seems that look at this data and think more guns, less control lets keep doing it. Who are we? I like–


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 


Kaya Henderson: Why do we not care about our people? This is true of health care, this is true of incarceration. Like, we don’t make public policy that values human-ness, that values life, that puts I we seatbelts. Somehow or another we were like, you know what, it is not good for people to crash themselves up in cars. Let’s put seatbelts, let’s put warnings on cigarettes because they, you know, are deadly. And, you know, the Surgeon General has just had to put it put out a call to say that social media, which we’ll get into in a few minutes, is deadly for our young people. And yet and still, we allow big tech to do what it does. We allow, you know, the firearms industry to do what it does. Thankfully, the Supreme Court just said, [thinking sound] domestic violence abusers should not have access to guns. But like, really, is that all we got? Like, why can’t we see people as humans and make rules and policies that protect our humanity? It is staggering to in on the one hand, call ourselves one of the greatest countries in the world. And to have such a laissez-faire approach to up to protecting humanity and human life. 


De’Ara Balenger: I think the only thing I’ll add and Myles back to just, you know, looking at this from a vulnerable perspective when I think about family members that have died by suicide. There’s such a quietness around those deaths because there’s so much stigma around those deaths. And so I think even just the narrative sort of feeling narrative, cultural narrative around dying by suicide just needs so much work, attention, and sort of language. So I think it’s part it’s one of those things it’s like these when you see these statistics, it’s like it is shocking and staggering and all those things. But when you start to think about it, like, really think about the state of folks’ mental health. When I think about some of my family members. If those those particularly my family members in the Midwest, you know, I’m always talking about Minnesota. I’d get some planes and get all my people out. It’s it’s it’s I’m like, oh, that makes sense. Because this and this and this cousin and that cousin and you know, and so I think it is. I just it just takes me to the quietness of it and how there isn’t necessarily sort of a intellectual connection between death by suicide and, and gun rates and gun availability, because there’s so little discussion around when these deaths happen. 


Myles E. Johnson: And one thing I would like to add to to what um Auntie Kaya had just said too what I just thought about, was I think a lot of the not caring about it. And it’s weird for me because sometimes I’ll, I mean, I’ll be the person experiencing the mental health, the suicide ideation and all these different things. And then I’ll, I can draw back and be objective about it and then I’ll think, oh, wow. The, the, the, the lack of support, the lack of care is also a class issue that people I, I venture to think the same people who are killing themselves, who are dying by suicide, are people who are who are not necessarily mobile class or not or not, uh don’t have strong positions economically. So I do think that people not caring has a lot to do with this not necessarily being a valued section of American society. This and, and, and, and I think that if we had a rate of upper middle class. Upper class white men doing this to themselves, the response would be different. And I think and I and I and I and I would venture to I would be very curious to see the connection between class and these and these things happening in the real–, and the political and government reaction to the to to to what’s going on. Um. I hope hopefully that made sense that made sense. 


De’Ara Balenger: I think that makes sense but Myles I think it also is the the stigma around death by suicide. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. Yes, yes.


De’Ara Balenger: I think the stigma is what is what–


DeRay Mckesson: Agree. 


De’Ara Balenger: –creates the non concern because–


Kaya Henderson: That’s right. 


De’Ara Balenger: I mean, I know–


Kaya Henderson: –lots of rich–


De’Ara Balenger: I know–


Kaya Henderson: You know a lot of rich people who–


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah a lot I do, I–


Kaya Henderson: Yup. 


De’Ara Balenger: –sure do. And actually recently. 


Kaya Henderson: Me too. 


De’Ara Balenger: Um. So I think it is, I think it’s more of the stigma around it. I really really do.


Myles E. Johnson: So like people just thinking like oh that person gave up. That—


De’Ara Balenger: Or just like, we don’t want to talk about it. 


Kaya Henderson: We don’t– 


De’Ara Balenger: I’m not going to talk about that. 


Kaya Henderson: –want to talk about it. 


De’Ara Balenger: We’re not talking about it. It’s done. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mm hmm. 


De’Ara Balenger: You know? I think it, I think it’s that. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: I think it’s that. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: In addition to that, I think that greedy capitalism has a lot to do with this. 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. 


Kaya Henderson: And I’ll take us to my news, [laughing] which is out of the New York Times this week. It is a very long but very insightful article called How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety. And it is a historical sort of um account of a bunch of decisions that Meta, Facebook and Instagram have made around children’s safety that demonstrate that while they are talking about how many protections they have in, for children, um around social media, that at the very same time, all of their internal documents and internal decisions actually show the exact opposite, that in an attempt to, as one person puts it, put profit above safety. They have made a series of decisions that um are impacting young people’s mental health, physical health, literal existence. Um. And so currently, the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia have filed more than a dozen lawsuits accusing Meta of unfairly ensnaring teenagers and children on Instagram and Facebook while deceiving the public about the hazards. Um. They are pursuing the sort of a similar tactic as they did against Big Tobacco in the ’90s, where a whole bunch of states get together and socked it to Big Tobacco, which um, ended up, um creating not just safeguards against tobacco use, but also huge payouts for states, um which was helpful in terms of education and health and safety. They’re using the same approach to compel social media outlets to boost protections for minors. This article asserts that Mark Zuckerberg personally led his company to drive user engagement at the expense of child welfare. They use a lot of um internal documents, emails and uh interviews with people who have worked at the place which show that um Meta’s algorithms enable adult predators to find children online that they wouldn’t have found on their own. That the beauty filters they knew about the impact that this would have on on young people, young women explicitly and still they drove to increase teen and young people’s engagement. Um. They talk about how easy how on the one hand, Meta says that um children under 13 are prohibited from using Facebook, but in fact, it’s super easy for young people to sign up, um and lie about their age. And the executives at Meta were actually catering the experience to people under 13, because there are millions of users under 13. And teens are the core part of Meta’s growth strategy. They have documents that show that the overall company goal is the total teen time spent engaged on these platforms. And there are also all kinds of internal emails and reports that showed that employees within the company were advocating to, you know, increase the number of staff and the amount of research dedicated to reducing loneliness and compulsive use on Instagram and Facebook. But those proposals were rejected. They were they said, we don’t have enough money. We can’t. We don’t have the capacity to fund those. But they were increasing the numbers of employees that were dedicated to projects for teenagers by 50%. Um. There are all kinds of explicit videos involving children and highly disturbing, violent and sexualized content that even advertisers were like, mm I don’t want my ads near this kind of bad content. And they continued to do this because um it boosted profits. And so, um you know, when we think about how many young people have been sexually solicited on social media platforms, um have been harassed, have been bullied, have been body shamed. Um. And have been algorithmically induced into compulsive online use. Um. We have a national crisis, and we have these social media companies that are allowed to just do whatever they want to do. We’ve trusted Big Tech instead of putting up the guardrails that are necessary to protect our young people. Um there’s a, the surgeon general, many of you might have seen, um who in fact, I’ll be in conversation with later on this morning at the Aspen Ideas Festival. We’re talking about what kids need right now, and kids need to actually detach from social media, have more in real life engagements, more play, more extracurricular activities. We’re seeing schools ban um the use of cell phones in the, during school. Um. LA is the latest big city district to enact a ban on all cell phones during the school day. Um. But the surgeon general has now said that these platforms present a public health risk to young people. Um. There is a bill in Congress called the Kids Online Safety Act, which will require social media companies to turn off features for minors that could lead to addiction like behavior. And, you know, it’s a little bit the horse is out of the barn. We knew that these things were had adverse impacts. But we trusted big tech and we trusted capitalism. And we decided to let those things run free. And now we are trying to, you know, close the barn doors after the horse is out. And so I brought this because I think it is timely. I think it ties to the suicide piece. I think it hits on education and mental health and safety. And I think as we are entering our next sort of technological revolution around AI. The question is, will we put up the guardrails that we know are necessary, um or will we repeat what we did with social media and just let Big Tech do what it does? Um. To be in pursuit of profit over the safety of our young people in our country. 


De’Ara Balenger: Kaya, thank you for thank you for bringing this um to the pod. Just wow. And where it takes me immediately is I was on a flight this week and watched the documentary Reading Rainbow, which shout out to LaVar Burton. And what an excellent program. Obsessed. And one of the things, one of the reasons Reading Rainbow was sort of concepted and pitched is because kids were watching too much television, and there was research saying that there had been a decline in um, reading and reading comprehension, yada, yada, yada. And so when I watched this documentary, I immediately thought of social media because I’m like, if we if if the country was worried about television. 


DeRay Mckesson: Hey, now. 


De’Ara Balenger: I mean, this social media is wild because it’s not only it is literally altering children’s brains and development, which is so beyond just what the sort of the scope and the fear around television was. So one, I wanted to say that. And then the other thing in this article, which really this is when this stuff gets really scary, is that it talks about in the fall of 2019, Instagram introduced an appearance altering filter called Fix Me, which mimic mimicked nip tuck lines that cosmetic surgeons draw on patient’s faces. What? Said what? 


Kaya Henderson: And then they had a fight about whether or not they should do it and err uh– 


De’Ara Balenger: What? Like, oh yeah, like Mark Zuckerberg. I like saying Mark Zuckerburger because that’s what um, who calls him that? Little Boosie. [laughter] But but um–


Myles E. Johnson: Auntie De’Ara. [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: They were beefing. Um. But yeah. And then his email was like, I mean, what? This dude, man, it’s always felt paternalistic to me. He says that we’ve limited people’s ability to present themselves in these ways, especially when there’s no data I’ve seen that suggest doing so is helpful or not doing so is harmful. What? 


Myles E. Johnson: [sigh] And and and and and even though we talking about the kids, even though we talking about the kids and the kids are not all right. The grown folks are not too far behind either. 


De’Ara Balenger: That part. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


De’Ara Balenger: That part. 


Myles E. Johnson: I think I think there’s this idea or, you know, because you’re grown, you know, who do what you want to do, but don’t think that this is just a kid problem or a child problem. Really everybody, every everybody needs to um, reflect on it. What what this article, a., Thank you for bringing this to the podcast, um Auntie Kaya. But also what this article made me think about is how I was reading about predatory businesses that are latching on to people’s insecurities built from these social media expectations and these, and these uh social media algorithms. And, and, you know, there are people who are creating businesses that so so it’s actually easier to explain this by example. So there are um, girlboss veneer businesses popping up online. Showing people to get veneers for $5,000. And, you know, you’re not really taking care of the mouth part of the mouth. You’re just getting the every, you know, getting the, the it’s it’s like taking a potty on yourself and and pulling up your pants and and and you know, and and walking out it’s it’s really um but but obviously $5,000 is way more accessible than the tens of thousands of dollars that it can take to fix your teeth. And they, and I and I think about those type of things, like how they’re going to be, you know, bad actors who, who um, who, who start businesses that prey on people’s insecurities and also as well as the big corporations and how this is just the perfect scheme of that. I think we also saw that with like the um, aging aging myself, but like, there was kind of the era of like the back alley butt shots in like when you go, when you go get butt shots from some place that was seedy. So those, those, those things, even though they may not be as popular, they’re always going to kind of recreate themselves where there are going to be people who want to meet certain expectations but don’t have the money but are going to find–


Kaya Henderson: Yep. 


Myles E. Johnson: –the means to do it. And I think and I think to myself, uh how? We’re gonna, I can’t. I actually can I find it hard to imagine what people and children who who are socialized into this, what they’ll turn into. It’s really actually hard for me to imagine, because growing, being ten in 2000 when Britney Spears was the hottest thing was hard. Um. When Myspace and Facebook and all those things were just starting, that was, that was that was pretty difficult in my middle school years. I can’t even imagine when, but that still felt like an ocean you can go into. You know, you turned on MTV. You logged on to Myspace. Now that is–


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 


Myles E. Johnson: –just the air. That is just–


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. 


Myles E. Johnson: –what is going on. And I really if I were to give any type of solution or idea is that we really need more pathways to social victory and to professional victory and to um, yeah, just really social, social victory that don’t need the, don’t need the internet. There need to be more and more people who show I’ve had a I found love without the internet. I found a job without internet, I found success and friends without the internet. There needs to be more pathways to those things. Because I do think that part of it is that the internet is seen as the new oxygen. Where it’s just something that you need to live and and I think part of that is some, some part of that is true, but part of that is invented. And I think that we can be a little bit more conscious about reinventing new ways. And I’m not just saying like the [?] citizens of here, but I’m just thinking about people who are leaders and corporations, because I don’t think that the leaders of these um, of these big tech companies are going to change their ways. I think it might be up to us and other people who are in who are empowered to create different pathways and social pathways to success that don’t need Wi-Fi. I think we need that. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: A lot.


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: The only thing I’ll add is um, you know, the rouse for me was up when I met some of these people and they would never let their kids be on the apps as much as they let everybody else. 


Kaya Henderson: Boom. Boom.


DeRay Mckesson: And I was like, oh, this is definitely. I was like oh something ain’t right? I also remember having a conversation with the Twitter people being like, you know, I assume that your your like sort of give back would be something around literacy because, you know, if you can’t, especially in the old days, if you can’t read, you can’t be on Twitter like that, like you got to and that just wasn’t even a part of the strategy. And I said, well, this is sort of interesting because the whole strategy is text based like it is that was before Twitter video, before there was anything. But, you know, they don’t none of the leaders I know who work in tech in really high ranking roles let their kids anywhere near screens. Their kids don’t even know what an ipad swipe is, you know, like it really is fascinating. Meanwhile, the whole business model is predicated on people being addicted to the product. And the last thing I’ll say about politics with regard to this is that it is a reminder that um you really gotta have regulation and that deregulation always hurts–


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 


DeRay Mckesson: The poorest people, the people most vulnerable. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: And that the only people who win in deregulation are people making money. That’s it. The reason why we regulate industries is so that there is some governing body that set standards that you wouldn’t even know to think of as an individual person. And this is a reminder of the danger of deregulation that like, you know, this is what happens. It is a hallmark too of the Trump era. Uh. Obviously he didn’t have anything to do with this right here. But I do think about this wave of deregulation where people like, oh, or Florida being like, you can’t have rules for the kids to not be child labor or to say that the workplace can’t be so hot. It’s like deregulation only makes people richer. It doesn’t actually help people or save their lives. 


Myles E. Johnson: And this might go without saying I tried to use the little fix me app. Uh. The fix me filter. Nose pinched like [laugh] nose pinched, skin lighter. You know, I don’t even have to tell you the the the Bell Hooks-ian analysis over also what the what what images and what the standard is that is being perpetuated so yes children everywhere? Yes people everywhere. But also I’m always going to think about our Black folks and and and and and how if you’re somebody who is beautiful and looks like DeRay, how that would but that would, that would send that would send your um, your little 13 year old brain on a spiral if you see the Fix Me app. And now DeRay look like um 1998 Michael Jackson and this is what you need to do, and this is what you need to do to be fixed. That that’s going to do something to us too. 


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




De’Ara Balenger: My news is about Chicago and Mayor Brandon Johnson, who’s the new mayor there um introduced an executive order to explore reparations for folks in Chicago. First, let me say I was in Chicago on Juneteenth. God bless Harriet Tubman. I mean, what a great Black city. And I it it it when I’m in a Black city, it always makes me think of home. It always makes me think of DC. Um. But when I think of these, these places now, and it’s probably why I spend so much time in New Orleans. Because the Black folks in New Orleans, they trying to get them out, but they back. They back a lot of them back. Um. It just makes it makes my heart so warm to be in these cities and understand what the contribution of all the folks in these cities are and what the history has been. But it breaks my heart a little bit when I think of how many people have been displaced. And when I start thinking about Covid and just eviction rates around Covid, and us really not having an understanding of what has happened to those folks. And so when I was in Chicago, my friend Ayanna, who I went to college with, drove me around Cabrini Green, other places where there had been big public housing developments, and now they’re gone. And these are like a million people that lived there. So when I was thinking about my news this week, I was like, well, let me think. Let me see what’s going on in Chicago. They have this new mayor. And surprisingly to me, Brandon Johnson is just the third Black mayor in Chicago. Now, again, I grew up in D.C. y’all. My favorite mayor of all times, Mayor Barry. All you can say what you want. VIP mayor. Okay. VIP. So I was I understand the politics of Chicago, right? And the dailies and all of that. And why there was not a Black mayor. Why there now we’re only on our third one. But anyway, I thought it was interesting that he introduced um this executive order on on reparations. And remember, I remember us covering this a while back, it was like, I think it was probably like George Floyd time when people were talking about social justice and racism in America um and reparations. There was like a lot of talk around it. Now, you know, we see less and less, and now we’re everyone’s trying to turn back um a lot of that progress that was made. But anyhow, so in his executive order, he says that the country and Chicago in particular perpetuated, condoned, profited and benefited from the system of chattel slavery. He noted that several Jim Crow era policies from 1877 to 1963, legalizing and perpetuating racial segregation and discrimination. These policies you know related to housing, redlining, highway construction led to disparities in life expectancy, unemployment, homeownership rates, home value, incarceration, and more. So it’s an interesting thing. It’s an interesting thing. I just I think in a time where sort of it’s notnational trend or conversation to be speaking about reparations. I admire this mayor for bringing it back to the forefront in a big city like Chicago. And yeah, I just I just wanted to bring it to the the pod. I wanted to raise up Chicago a bit. Start to really think about um, not think about, but also just sort of follow this mayor’s journey to see what he what else he’s going to do in Chicago. Um. The other thing that to note about Chicago is the Obama library is opening in 2026. And there’s a lot of sort of um talk controversy around sort of what it’s gonna I think it’s in Hyde Park. I think it’s um but some of the controversy around, around that going up and how that the coalitions that have been put together and some of them and some of them Obama supported to make sure that folks aren’t displaced and that there’s more affordable housing, um where the library is going to be. So just wanted to bring it to the pod. It’s a little all over the place, but shout out to Chicago. I’m not mad at you, Mayor Johnson, for this reparations executive order. Let’s see what y’all find out and what y’all come up with. Hopefully it’s the similar to what happened in Evanston. 


DeRay Mckesson: I’ll tell you that the first thing I saw about the reparations, actually, was the people geared up ready to sue. 


De’Ara Balenger: 100%. 


DeRay Mckesson: And they are like, let’s go. We got gonna sue them. 


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. 


DeRay Mckesson: Like, what is reparations? The Black people don’t need anything. Um. So I was like, okay, well, here we go. This is we’re doing it. And it’ll be interesting to see how this stuff continues to sort of progress over time. Like the idea of reparations is finally sort of mainstream. And the, the legal response is to dismantle it and say that there is no racism is sort of a, is not what I thought would happen in this way. Uh. But here we are. So, also let’s let’s expand the court. Clarence Thomas gotta go. Alito gotta go. Kavanaugh gotta go like the court used to I remember you being, like, in awe of the Supreme Court. Just the idea of it. Now, I’m like, these jokers, put me on the court. I could do this. [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, yeah. And you’re right, De’Ray. Just a month ago, Judicial Watch announced that it filed a class action lawsuit against Evanston, Illinois, on behalf of six individuals over the city’s use of race as a eligibility requirement for reparations program. 


Kaya Henderson: We covered this two or three weeks ago on the podcast.


De’Ara Balenger: [?] Yup, yup. Yup. 


Kaya Henderson: In fact, these the very law that is being used to challenge the Fear– or the to the Fearless Fund and all of these reparations cases is a reconstruction era law that was designed to protect Black people’s participation in the economic life of the United States. And these people are, you know, flipping it on its head and using it against us. The question for me is um, where are our legal eagles? One of the things that, you know, in the spirit of don’t hate the player, hate the game, right? Um. The reason why we were able to make so many advances during the civil rights movement was because we were out here in these courts, you know, using every legal maneuver to preserve the rights of of people, marginalized people, people of color, all of that. And somehow or another, I know how they’ve been at it for a long time and they got a lot of money. But, you know, the right has been amazing, frankly, in its pursuit of all kinds of legal maneuvers and trickery. De’Ara come on, tell me about this. Where are we? How come we not out here challenging all of the things and finding new ways to create the protections that we need for our people? 


Myles E. Johnson: Not Auntie Kaya said go to work. [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: Where where is the Thurgood Marshall of today? I. Come on. Sherrilyn is out here. She can’t do it by herself. Where are the people who are like, pow, pow, we going to hit them this way, that way, the other way. I feel like we have just we we are on the defense and we’re not on the offense. Where? Come on. Who should we be calling? How do we bolster the legal community to get them back on the front lines? 


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. And I think there’s also just a disconnect between like I was at a, Pao and I went to um we were at the New York ACLU and they did a whole presentation around a report that essentially says that all of the sort of pro-immigration sort of the the hard line around around being anti-immigration, I should say, actually doesn’t work with voters. So like they talked about sort of Tom Suarezs Suozzi and how he won that election. And a lot of people were saying that he won the election in New York because he was hard against immigration. He actually was saying he wanted a balanced approach towards immigration. But because of media and sort of where the Democratic Party is, they’re like, well, if we if we’re hard on immigration, then people will vote for us. So the ACLU is basically saying we did a report in these ten different states, and that’s not true. Conserve in conservative districts and the inf– in the report actually is fabulous. And it’s such good data. But where does it go? 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah, yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: I guess is my question, you know what I’m saying? So I feel like whether it’s the ACLU or the legal and the NAACP legal defense fund, it’s I think a lot of this good research and good work is happening in a vacuum, and it’s not necessarily collaborative and it’s not sort of touching mainstream. You know, not even mainstream. Black folks. I mean, us, the people that are going to get the word out, like it’s not really touching those folks. You know what I’m saying? So I think that’s some of these some of these, these big engines have been running the way they’ve been running for decades and decades. But now we do have this sort of like, how what is the amplification of all of this? And how do we get more folks to understand what’s going on and make that make that all of that data accessible? 


Kaya Henderson: Well, this is where I feel like, you know, I hearken back to the De’Ray’s real concentration on narrative, right? Like one of the problems that I have with all of these reports and the research is like, that’s great for academic left brain people who want to look at data visualizations and, you know, geek out on that kind of stuff. But like, what the right has done is figured out how to chew this up and spit this out in ways that everyday people can understand whether it is true or not true, and really rile, speak to people’s heads and their hearts and get them to act. And we are so busy being right and justified with our PowerPoints and our white papers and, and all of this, you know, super academic stuff that does not resonate with regular old people. Let’s stop being right and let’s start winning. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. Um. [laughter] 


DeRay Mckesson: Myles get out of here. I love it.


Myles E. Johnson: Kaya for president. Yeah. [laughter] I I, the one thing that just because everybody’s stories were so beautifully laid out. But I never because of how these stories rather were beautifully laid out I never necessarily made that connection. But reparations is a suicide prevention problem, right? Um. So if we if we really think about the position that economically and when it comes to housing, um Black people have been put in. And when we think about the, the reasons for, for suicide, specifically amongst um amongst Black men, reparations is also, is is, is is a part of the multi-pronged solution for, for suicide prevention. And I never thought about it until we laid all these stories, all these stories together. So I don’t know. [?] what are you doing? Add this to, add this to the case. Add this [laughter] Mr. [?], add this to the case, please. [laughing] So it’s such a weird moment.


Kaya Henderson: How are you gonna, how are you gonna tie this in? 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s such a weird moment. 


Kaya Henderson: That was all beautiful. 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s such a it’s such a weird moment in this world y’all. And I really want the producer, our wonderful Black woman producer. Maybe we can talk about having some type of Twilight Zone music. Because I feel like there’s this is the theme for me of things that I want to present to you all who are grounded. You are my, my, my older cousins, my my aunties. And I want to bring this here to be like this is weird, right? Something strange is happening, right? This is not how it always used to be. This is an alternate reality. And we’re sharing in on the in on the zaniness. So let me land the plane chile. [sigh] [laugh] Jonathan Majors was just awarded a Perseverance Award at one Hollywood Unlocked fourth annual Award. Well, maybe you didn’t hear me. Jonathan Majors was awarded a Perseverance Award at a Holly– the fourth annual Hollywood Unlocked award hosted by Tiffany disgraced Haddish. [laughter] Um. In this Variety. The thing the thing about it too, is I’m not ashamed to say I know we not supposed to be respectable people and not care about what white people are um thinking about, but both of these articles I saw were in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. So not only are you over here cooing and misbehaving, but you doing it in front of white folks. That’s a that’s not making my that’s that’s not making me feel any better either. And I’m I’m not, I’m not. I have not transcended enough to to to not be bothered by that. And I’m over here reading it and how it’s and how it’s even written in this Variety report. Is such a series of events with little opinion. So it I can just smell the we ain’t going to call it strange. We ain’t gonna call it whatever you need to call it. We’s going to tell you what happened. And y’all come over here come up with y’all’s own um, your own’s opinions. So what happened was, Jonathan Majors was uh was uh, was accompanied by his, his girlfriend Meagan Meagan Good. And he was awarded a perseverance award. What did he persevere? He persevered apparently, the tumultuous media storm that happened around him harming his ex white girlfriend [laughter] and and then he went up and he gave a 17 minute long speech. Um. Part of this speech says perseverance means what he said. Perseverance means persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay. And the God I serve has put me in the position where I’ve had to embody that word more than I wish or wanted. He continued, we live in a world where men, Black men in particular, are propped up as either superheroes or super villains. But I’ve come to realize, me personally, I ain’t none of that. I’m just that guy whose faith has been tested, it has been it has uh been strengthened by this testimony. Uh. He was presented this award by Iyanla Vanzant. Uh.


De’Ara Balenger: No, no no, no. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m going to read what she said. 


DeRay Mckesson: Oh, you gotta you gotta. I’m a pull up the video so you can see it. Myles. Read it. I’m a pull up the video.


Myles E. Johnson: I’m gonna read what she said. As Iyanla Vanzant presented Majors with this award at the event, saying, “As a woman who spent nine years in an abusive marriage. I am both humbled and honored to present this award, the Perseverance Award, to my brother, Jonathan Majors.” What in minstrel, sambo, aunt Jemima, uncle Ben, hell are we in? Who who who changed the channel? This is so odd to me. I can’t believe it happened inside of this speech as well he lists very strategically the celebrities who–


Kaya Henderson: Come on. 


Myles E. Johnson: –contacted him. And I’m not going to hold you. I’m not going to hold you. 


Kaya Henderson: Come on. No, no. 


Myles E. Johnson: I could–


Kaya Henderson: You say the people. Say the people


Myles E. Johnson: Whoopi Goldberg. 


Kaya Henderson: Will Smith. 


Myles E. Johnson: Will Smith, King king king tycoon himself Tyler Perry, you know, put the first one to put the tie in the ? in tycoon Tyler Perry they all gave. They all embraced him privately during this moment. I’m going to assume that Whoopi, Will Smith, and probably even Tyler did not want this necessarily to be public. But obviously this 17 minute um speech was also a publicity moment to not only um, change the narrative around his domestic abuse problem, but also to flex his proximity to other celebrities, which I think was just a horrendous idea. You know, I can’t imagine what was going through Will Smith’s head like, like like bruh, I’m just impressed by the stupidity. I’m confused. I’m wondering, where is I I do feel like something changed in the air because we don’t have Maya Angelou, Bell Hooks, Toni Morrison, none of none of none of our good wise women are are are here anymore. And it really feels like, to my point, just to just to full circle this is that the clown has taken over and that there might be a little, a little tap dancing clown devil in all Black people’s ear. And and it’s winning and it’s winning. There needs to be a Nina Simone afro. I’m not doing this angel in somebodies ear. And we need to make sure that that is louder, because there is no world where we should be awarding somebody a Perseverance award. And I also think that this is what happens when fame and celebrity doesn’t meet critical thinking, when it doesn’t meet intellectual prowess, so when it doesn’t when when when when when we’re all just rooting for everybody Black and we’re all and we’re always um thinking about the stories that uh, we’re always just thinking about the the thenarratives that that white people are consuming. It’s just, it just it’s so disappointing to find so many Black celebrities dedicated into rehabilitating an abuser when we can, when we just don’t have to, when we just don’t have to do that. And I’m not saying that Jonathan Majors should be I don’t I don’t I don’t know, I’m not anybody’s judge and jury. What I do know is that I’m sure that white girl he slapped can still feel it when she when she thinks about it, I’m sure that she can still remember those things. And I and I and I think that we are totally missing the mark. If we see everything that happened to Jonathan Majors. And our first thing is, hey, let’s get the patriarchal Black man who does not have a pattern of dating uh Black women at all or being a part of the Black community. Let’s actually rehabilitate him and use our energy to rehabilitate him. I think we’re totally missing the point. Totally um missing the, the, the feminist, like, I don’t know. I’m like, I’m like, why? How did that happen? Why did that happen? Um. Yeah. What do y’all think? Have you all see it? 


DeRay Mckesson: I’m on mute, I just wanted to show that the tears. 


De’Ara Balenger: That boy can act, can’t he? He’s a good actor. 


DeRay Mckesson: I mean, he sobs in Iyanla’s shoulder, and she rubs him. I thought it was a joke when people said that she gave him [?] I mean, it’s like a long cry. You would think something that he you would think he was the victim of something. I watched it, and was like, this is really something. 


Kaya Henderson: So I will say, I I this was stunning to me. I really I was like, this is not real, is it? And then I looked through all of the people on right then, like it was Tiffany Haddish who was hosting. I was like, wow, that’s interesting. And I was like, what is this, Hollywood Unlocked? Who what who are the people and so I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole, and Hollywood Unlocked seems to be a and a company an entertainment company founded by Jason Lee, who was a podcaster. His podcast was Hollywood Unlocked with Jason Lee. And he had a television series called The Jason Lee show. But he is important because he was on Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, uh and wilding out. And now he created this award show that all these people go to it seems, I literally could not find much of anything else besides, oh, he was also Kanye’s head of media, part media and partnerships from March to October of 2022, which was in peak Kanye madness time. Um. And so I don’t know who this dude is or what gives him credibility to create this thing, but like Christian Louboutin and Cardi B and lots of people go to this thing and and they gave the perseverance award to Jonathan Majors like I this was stunning to me and and here is what I will also say. Um. I believe that in that like people have friends, your friends should be there to stand up with you, for you or whatever. 


Myles E. Johnson: Of course. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. But this all seems this don’t this ain’t right? It just ain’t right? I don’t know what else to say about this. Um. Yeah. This is I don’t know. Mm. Not one of our–


Myles E. Johnson: Those people who he mentioned should feel gross. Not just not because maybe somebody went through a hard time or did a bad thing, you’re like, you know what I believe? You know, I’m I believe myself to be a little baby abolitionist, you know, I still this I’m not totally there, but, you know, I like to think that I try to think of new frameworks for justice that are outside of just, like, abandoning people socially. But what he is doing, the reason why we know about this is because he is using–


Kaya Henderson: Oh yeah. He–


Myles E. Johnson: –those, those private moments in order to–


Kaya Henderson: Moments. That’s right.


Myles E. Johnson: For, for, for publicity, in order to get back into the Hollywood thing. And that’s not that’s not what my love does. That’s not what my love–


Kaya Henderson: That’s right. 


Myles E. Johnson: –came here for. You should be–


Kaya Henderson: Yes, Myles. 


Myles E. Johnson: –you used to feel the shame that I took this moment of vulnerability and intimacy and made it public in order for me–


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: –to get back into the good graces using your proximity. That’s disgusting. That’s nasty. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. Yes. Preach, Myles. Come on. You just said exactly what I– [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya says you did it! 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Mm. 


DeRay Mckesson: So I, so I know Jason and I and I think what Hollywood Unlocked did do is, Hollywood Unlocked, right? Like the Shade Room figured out that there was a market for curating content for Black people. And they they have a huge audience. Both the Shade Room, both Hollywood Unlocked, Neighborhood Talk is probably the third. And, it’d be undeniable to say they don’t have a huge audience. I, there’s also this is also one of the most interesting divides around race that I can think of on the internet, because, you know, I think about Chrisean and Blueface. We only know because of Hollywood Unlocked and the Shade Room. So much we Black people know so much of their lives. And my white friends are like, I don’t even know who–


Myles E. Johnson: That is. 


DeRay Mckesson: –Chrisean is. 


Myles E. Johnson: Word. 


DeRay Mckesson: But it was the blogs–


Kaya Henderson: Not just not just white people. Some of the aunties. [laughter] [banter]


DeRay Mckesson: Well if you if you have anybody that knows Hollywood Unlocked or The Shade Room, let me tell you, they were 24/7. I couldn’t get away from Chrisean and Blueface. They were just everywhere. Um. And I am also stunned by this. I think this is like. I think it’s a wild decision. I also think that it only happens when everybody lives in Hollywood. I think it is such a reinforcing self loop of the same people who are really famous, but feel like they are victims of a system and da da da da da all talking to each other and only hanging out with each other. And so the critique becomes those people on the internet who are annoyed and frustrated, but it’s not and people don’t take it seriously. And I think that that is frustrating. I think this is probably the best, this to me is one of the most potent attacks on Iyanla’s credibility that I can think of. I mean, I saw her in Ferguson, and I’ll never forget when she came to Ferguson and wouldn’t leave the designated protest area that was 8000 miles away from the actual protest. That was my own personal experience with her. But this one, like for you to be, I don’t know why anybody who was a victim would ever feel safe around her again. There’s not a world where I would. I don’t even know how you perform that again, I don’t know, I almost want Oprah to sit her back down and be like, Iyanla make it make sense? Because I, I’m so stunned that she would let her credibility be used. There’s not a question whether he was an abuser. It’s not like it’s a it’s not a debatable thing. You might not think that he should have got convicted. You might not think there should be a sentence. But the question of did it happen is actually not a question. And do we let people back in community, all that stuff? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. But I don’t know if he persevered like, uhh [laugh]  I don’t know. Um. But for her to let him use her credibility like that or for her to allow that to be done was just, I mean, only possible in Hollywood, where where it’s just a reinforcing self loop. 


Myles E. Johnson: And isn’t it wild as well to like, watch it and see how like what kind of like a House of cards, um Hollywood is because I do I am familiar with Jason Lee. I love a good side of mess, and part of my like media diet pyramid is at the very top, like the little small deserts, like, I love a little side of mess. And it’s funny because, okay, Jason Lee knows Tiffany Haddish and Cardi B through these ways. And then basically that link goes all the way to now you have Sharon Stone there, and now you’re able to get and now Jonathan Majors need some place to go. So he’s desperate. So he’s going to go here because everybody mainstream doesn’t want to touch him. And then before you know it you have Iyanla who in her without a feminist critique she’s probably using more of her African healing Yoruba, everybody gets to be transformed. But I’m like a little feminist critique can help this, because if you want to do all that in the privacy of your home, feel free. But he’s that but it does not have to happen in front of a red carpet in front of um the Variety and Hollywood Reporter. So now you have all this perfect storm that now you have Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish hosting, Sharon Stone, Jonathan Majors, and now you have a really big event that really is just one person who knew a couple, who knew a couple of people. You know, if you know, not saying that DeRay would would do this, but if DeRay wanted to do the DeRay Awards next week or next year, he could do it step by step and make it a really big deal. And it’s all and it’s all so flimsy once you really look at it and, and and I think it’s I, I’m, I’m sure when I look at um, what’s the what’s that award, not the Tonys. Not the Emmys. Not the Oscars, not the Grammys. What’s what’s the other award? 


Kaya Henderson: The people’s choice awards? The–


Myles E. Johnson: No, it’s a it’s another award, but it’s another award that’s very um, built on a house of cards, too. And when you look at the history behind it, um you, you, you realize how flimsy that award is are, too. So it’s, it’s interesting to see that, you know, maybe in 20 years this might be a really real, real thing that we have to contend with and think about. And it’s sad that the, the morals of this place are so are so are so shoddy. The foundation of the morals,  this is the fourth one. So the foundation that you’re doing it. What am I trying to say? Do your thing, entrepreneur yourself out. Connect your dots. Do what you got to do, but also have some moral fiber. Because how you start something and how you build something in the first one to ten years is how it’s going to be. And just because you were founded on trash don’t mean you can’t recycle it and make into something better. Stop bringing, don’t bring no abusers on your platform. That’s not cute. That’s what I want to say. Let me call your mamas. What’s going on? 


De’Ara Balenger: The only the only thing I have to say. Jasmine Crockett. Girl. 


Myles E. Johnson: She was there too!


Kaya Henderson: They gave her an award. 


De’Ara Balenger: What you doing girl?


Kaya Henderson: They gave her an award. Mm hmm.


De’Ara Balenger: Come on sis. 


Myles E. Johnson: What in tap–


De’Ara Balenger: That’s all, that’s all I have.


Myles E. Johnson: –dancing hell is going?


De’Ara Balenger: That’s all that, that’s all. When I saw that name, I was like, because that’s just. It’s just good old betting. Who else is getting an award? You asked me to get an award and come to Los Angeles. Who else is getting an award? Oh, this person. That person. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t do that. 


DeRay Mckesson: I do think though the thing here that is interesting is this competition for Black people’s attention. And it goes back to the conversation about The Breakfast Club. Some people don’t like The Breakfast Club, whether you like Charlamagne or not, whether you like um Envy or Jess Hilarious. What is undeniable is that Black people listen to them. They watch them. They you don’t have to agree with them, but they have an audience that is undeniable. The Shade Room at one point had the highest impressions on Instagram in the world. Hollywood Unlocked has a presence. You know, it’s not insignificant. And I do you know, I’m interested in what happens when these platforms get to participate in, in sort of mainstream conversation, but go unchecked by mainstream checking. Like nobody’s fact checking the Shade Room. People aren’t pushing on in the same way that if the Washington Post wrote something crazy, people would be all over it, you know what I mean? Like The Atlantic is running the Washington Post into the ground over that British editor guy who’s not coming any more. You know what I mean? 


Kaya Henderson: Not coming anymore. 


DeRay Mckesson: Um. So I I do just bring that up. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah, yeah. And I think about the places, you know, this might feel like a stretch, but I think about kind of a lot of the zionist propaganda that I’ve been seeing both digitally and just in the world. And I think if you don’t have that kind of political, critical, critical, criticality, criticality criticalness to it, you can also take a lot of money where you’re that that you are perpetuating ideas in in things that are are down down right dangerous. And just um before we wrap up, I want to say, the award show I was thinking about is the Golden Globes, if you research the Golden Globes–


De’Ara Balenger: The Golden Globes. 


Myles E. Johnson: And you see the background of the Golden Globes, you’ll you’ll realize that, oh, wow, this is just a few people who came up with something, who were outsiders, who wanted a reason for publicity and and all of the prestige around it is truly made up. Unlike the Oscars, where there’s an academy and and actor, there’s there’s a lot of still made up, but there’s a little bit more prestige in, in, in, in, in work you got to do in order to, to be a part of the Grammys and the, and the Oscars where the Golden Globe is like we we had an opinion and we had some money for some gold awards. 


De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm. I just I want to say one last thing. Just like as an entrepreneur, because Myles, your point around like how you build something is, is what it’s going to be. I think there’s a lot of we have seen big, big case studies and a lot of noise around Black folks that begin businesses and run those businesses with the same sort of patriarchal, white supremacist, sort of tenants, capitalist tenants that you know, that their white counterparts are running with. And I think this is another example of that. 


Myles E. Johnson: Absolutely. 


De’Ara Balenger: But for all of these examples that we have of this, there are also plenty of Black folk who are running incredible purpose driven businesses that put so much thought and intention in terms of how they function, how they make their products, how they’re hiring. I mean, I think of Honeypot. That’s a big example of one. So I think it’s that it’s just that these other folks are really good at making noise. But I just I just want to shout out those companies that are doing the things the way that is good, feels good, etc.. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: [music braek] Well that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Don’t forget to follow us at Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. And if you enjoyed this episode of Pod Save the People, consider dropping us a review on your favorite podcast app 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 Vasilis Fotopoulos. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. [musci break].