Rhetorical Flexibility (with Kiese Laymon & Baratunde Thurston) | Crooked Media
April 20, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
Rhetorical Flexibility (with Kiese Laymon & Baratunde Thurston)

In This Episode

On this week’s episode of Stuck with Damon Young, author and MacArthur genius Kiese Laymon joins Damon to discuss the ousting and reinstatement of Tennessee representative Justin Pearson in reaction to his gun lobbying efforts, and then get into his MLK style code-switching when speaking. Writer and host Baratunde Thurston joins Damon for dear Damon to discuss whether sliding into one’s Linkedin DMs is a professional no-no.


Send your questions, confessions and/or conundrums in for consideration to be responded to on the podcast at deardamon@crooked.com.





Kiese Laymon: They told me I wasn’t going to be eating no bacon this morning. But the Lord is a generous Lord. I said Lord. Can a nigga, please have some bacon this morning? [laughter] The Lord looked at me and said, Kiese I want to give you more than bacon. I want to give you some of that white bread. [laughter]


Damon Young: Welcome back, everyone to Stuck with Damon Young. The show where we don’t code switch. I mean, we might be a little rhetorically flexible every now and then, but no code switching, never that. All right. So Tennessee has been in national spotlight the State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from the state House of Representatives for a breach in etiquette for protesting gun violence. There was a national response that the Tennessee GOP definitely did not anticipate and they were eventually reinstated. Now, during all of this, we also became aware of Representative Pearson’s somewhat anachronistic style of public speech, which also sparked a sub conversation about code switching and to talk to Representative Pearson’s performance and also the many variations of code switching, I’m joined by the homie Kiese Laymon, who’s as fascinated by the way that we talk as I am. And then Baratunde Thurston makes his Stuck with Damon Young debut as we debate the legitimacy of sliding into someone’s DMs but on LinkedIn. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] Kiese Laymon is a MacArthur genius and is also the author of Heavy: An American Memoir, which is one of my favorite books, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. And I hit him up because, you know, he he has an appreciation for some of the nuances of how we and by we I mean Black people interact, how we talk and how we change, you know, depending on who the audience is. And so want to get him on to talk about our boy, Justin Pearson’s interesting way of public speak. So Kiese, what’s good?


Kiese Laymon: How your hair smell? 


Damon Young: [laughs] I don’t know. I think lemony right now. My wife bought me like this lemony spray that that I put in it right now. So it smells little like a little citrus a little citrusy. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: I’m growing it out, I guess. Locks right now. Not long. 


Kiese Laymon: Oh, that’s what’s up. 


Damon Young: Thank you. I appreciate it. But, you know what I mean, I’m. I’m a little frustrated right now, though, because this is like after I think like five months and there’s a place that I want to get in. So I’m in like this in-between phase right now. 


Kiese Laymon: Are you going bald at all? [laughter] What do you think about the balding locks head? That’s what I want, cause I’m seeing that on a lot. I’m seeing that and the hair line, the fake hair line to be like, right here [laughter] I’m seeing either bald locks head or fake hairline. 


Damon Young: Did you see the skirt from South Side? Like they had intervention from a man with the hair. 


Kiese Laymon: Oh, yes. I mean. 


Damon Young: I want to say do whatever the fuck you want to do with your hair. 


Kiese Laymon: For sure. 


Damon Young: That’s the only answer. Really. Like, do whatever fuck you want to do with your hair. Like I even fuck with people who will not have like men will not have facial hair, but it’s like, you know, it’s your face. Do what you want to your hair. But we’re still going to make judgments. [laughter] Based off of what you do. 


Kiese Laymon: Exactly. Right. Or at least jokes. I mean, I’m not judging because I don’t know how to judge people. That’s why I have so many questions about Black men and hair fam. I’m so confused right now. We’re in a new stage and we never been in this before. And but yeah, the end of the day, do what you want. 


Damon Young: All right. So I got a question for you. So I’m assuming that you got familiar with what’s happening in Tennessee the same way that I did, where, you know, you hear about these three lawmakers, I guess they’re Tennessee state reps who have protested because of, you know, gun violence. They just had a mass shooting. And I think Nashville maybe a week or so before, and they had the protests. And then two of the Black members, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, got expelled from the legislature or whatever the fuck. Right. And then I don’t think Tennessee recognized or realized the national pushback that was going to happen. And they’re like, yeah, we [laughs] we made a mistake y’all niggas can come back. [laughs] Right? And so and so that was my that was my understanding of the situation, my whole thing. And then I heard Justin Pearson speak. What we’re about here is a clip from C-SPAN on the day that he was expelled from the House. 


[clip of Justin Pearson]: All glory and honor to God. Who makes all things possible. Who takes the son of teenage parents, Kimberly Owens Pearson and Jason C. Pearson, and brings them to an institution built by enslaved peoples and all glory and honor to God who brings those who have been marginalized and excluded into this place and tells them that you still have a voice. 


Damon Young: Now, what was the first thing that went through your head the first time you heard that young man speak? 


Kiese Laymon: Wow, You could have done that a number of ways. You could have let me know what you thought first. But uh—


Damon Young: [laughs] Nah man.


Kiese Laymon: If we, I feel like if we do this wrong, we might both be done. So I’m gonna try to be a little bit careful. I grew up in Mississippi and I went to a missionary Black Baptist church my whole life, so [laughs] the first time I heard that voice, I thought about being like four and hearing the preacher preach and thinking that shit sounded old in like 1980. So when I heard him speak, obviously I thought 1950s preacher. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: But the wildest thing was that he was using the cadence of a lot of like shifty bullshitting ass preachers, but he was telling the truth. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: So I just had a collision and I was like, damn, this brother brother’s telling the truth. And I was like, why the fuck is he talking like Martin Luther King? That’s what I felt initially. 


Damon Young: Yet I felt like a similar tension. Where it’s like, you know what? Obviously, you know my feelings about gun violence, gun control are well documented on this podcast. Right. And obviously, I support the young brothers who are out there who are protesting and using their voice, you know, using their bodies to try to make a difference. But when I heard him. [laughs] I heard him speak. [laughter] First thought my very first thought. This wasn’t even a vocalized thought until this very moment was like, I get why they kicked that nigga out. I get it. 


Kiese Laymon: [laughter] Wow, wow, wow.


Damon Young: That was my very first thought. And I just had to say it out loud, to nobody. And again, this is like a this was an impulse. This was a reaction. This is not like the fully baked, you know, this isn’t how I feel. 


Kiese Laymon: Of course. 


Damon Young: This was just the first thought that went through my head was like, man. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: I can’t imagine going to work every day and listening to this Crispus Attucks ass nigga [laughs] talking all the time—


Kiese Laymon: Oh. 


Damon Young: —with this cadence. It’s like even if I’m agreeing with everything you got to say, that would annoy me to the point it was like, yeah, I’m sorry, man. [laughter] I can’t deal with this. Okay. I can’t deal with you. 


Kiese Laymon: Oh. It’s so interesting to me that was one of your first thoughts? And not like I bet the other Black people involved are glad he got kicked out. Do you know what I mean? 


Damon Young: That’s what I’m saying. If I were if I were like a part of that legislature or whatever, and I can imagine being like, oh, come on, come on bro. 


Kiese Laymon: I ain’t got to hear that shit no more. 


Damon Young: You don’t got it. You come. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Whether or not this is his authentic voice, whether or not it’s performance, that’s not even a commentary. On that. But it’s more about my own feeling when hearing that cadence. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Particularly from someone who is 15 years younger than me. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean? 


Kiese Laymon: I think what I love about what you’re saying is that it really has nothing to do with him. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. I mean, it’s all about what we heard, but let me ask you this, what, in your experience, though, makes you kind of disgusted by that cadence and tone? 


Damon Young: I think I have, like, a natural aversion to the sort of occupations that attract charismatic ass niggas. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Right. And so that could be preacher, politician, club promoter. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. Club promoter. [laughs]


Damon Young: You know what I mean? Like people whose entire steez is to try to convince you to do a thing. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: And that’s more of a personal thing. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Where it’s just a natural. Like, if they’re saying this thing, I’m going the other way. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Right. I’m just. I’m not with it. And they could be telling the truth. They could be saying some shit that I want to hear. But because it’s coming from them with that cadence, I’m going the other way. And so hearing that for me, it just there’s something deep inside of me that just resisted immediately. And to your point, too, I think [laughter] we have to acknowledge that there is like this increasing collective skepticism of Christianity. 


Kiese Laymon: Mhm. 


Damon Young: Because I think that sort of voice is most associated with Christian preaching. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Right. And so there’s general skepticism with being a church. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: And listen to the preacher. Listen to the pastor. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And being a part of a congregation, I think that plays into it as well. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: Like you were saying, this isn’t necessarily a commentary or a criticism of him. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: But just that. I guess that performance, if it is a performance, just something about it, just makes my teeth itch. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. Okay. So I assumed 3 seconds in. I mean, it’s performative, right? Whether it sounds sincere or whether it sounds the way we might wanted to sound or not. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: It’s a performance. But you of it’s I mean, and it’s important to remember, like, that’s Tennessee. So I think if we heard that again from somebody in like Wyoming, I’d be weirded out more. I get where and who he’s talking to, but as an older person fam, I just wanted to be like, yeah, bro you ain’t got to talk like that no more. But I don’t know if that’s true. I think, I think he might, you know what I mean, like, and real talk, bro when I listened to the speech, I was wondering if he was because he kept looking up. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: And I was like. Is somebody like giving this mother figure like the speech, like because he was flowing, he was just going off the dome, I guess. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: But he was he was flowing like a preacher. And I just distrust preachers so much that I was just shocked that he was using that old ass voice, but then saying shit like LGBTQIA. You know what I’m saying? He was he was using words and phrases. And also also there’s a assuredness about that tone of voice that I hate. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: But because I was looking at him, I could also see and feel a kind of fear. So I don’t know. And I think it was complicated. But I definitely started laughing at the I mean, I thought Martin Luther King you said Crispus Attucks so let’s use [laughter] let’s go a few, let’s go one century earlier. You know.


Damon Young: I mean we, let’s split the difference and say Morgan Freeman from Glory. [laughter] Let’s let’s just say, let’s split the difference. [laughter] All right? Find that in between space. 


Kiese Laymon: I just can’t man. I just get so embarrassed for whoever uses that voice, and that’s all about me. It’s nothing to do with the person using the voice, but I just get very ashamed. 


Damon Young: You know and speaking of your boy, Justin, like have you seen the image of him? You know, the swearing in when he’s wearing a dashiki? 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah, I’ve seen that image. 


Damon Young: Okay, it’s, it’s funny because I feel like the dashiki actually clashes with the civil rights affect. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Like, those are like two separate forms. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: Of— 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: —[?] exaggerated Blackness. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. It’s Black power meets civil rights. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Kiese Laymon: And I love it. But also in that picture, you know, he’s also he literally wearing a red, black and green arm bracelet. So I think he’s doing a lot of work fam. I think I think that brother’s doing a lot of work. And I think some of it is Pan-Africanism. I think some of it definitely like deep Southern regional with the afro. I mean, you know. 


Damon Young: Like it reminds me and we talked about this a bit when we talked on the phone last, is like how when Kobe first got to the league. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: And it was like, okay, this thinking was very obviously trying to be like Mike, trying to walk like Mike, trying to shoot like my even has like the low fucking arc jump shot like Mike, you know, making the same facial expressions. But he’s not good yet. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: So you had this like this uncanny valley experience of watching this nigga, you know, replicate, you know, a much worse version of the greatest—


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: —player who had ever lived at that point. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Though that’s what we tell young athletes. You know, watch Steph, watch Dame, watch Kyrie. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Watch how they handle the ball, watch you know, their footwork, watch, you know, how they how they keep your follow through, watch how they move without the ball. You know what I mean? And so I think for someone like Justin Pearson, he’s, you know, who wants to be, you know, this this important perhaps transformative politician. It’s like, well, I’m watching MLK, I’m watching Malcolm X. I’m watching—


Kiese Laymon: That’s right. 


Damon Young: I don’t know. Huey, I’m watching whoever were those figures from that time. And I’m just taking bits and pieces. 


Kiese Laymon: Yes. 


Damon Young: From each of them and meshing them with my own ability to create this persona, which actually isn’t a persona. It’s. It’s who I am. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. And I love that. I just want to say I love I love that. I love that. And I actually haven’t seen that in a ton of young Black politicians in the last 20 or 30 years. So I think we Black people, so we gonna laugh and joke. But also just want to, I’m glad you said I’m glad you brought that picture up, because like I do at the end of the day, I think we all are kind of reaching and grab and trying to make a self. And you know, sometimes you can see the seams. And I think in that voice we can see the seams. But I’m glad to see what the brother’s making of himself. And for us, that’s true. 


Damon Young: Even before we got on. And I’m thinking about this today, I’m also thinking about the fact that, you know, we associate the voice with a certain Christian performance of, you know, even people who are necessarily in a pulpit when they are removed from the pulpit, they still speak with that cadence. And, you know, obviously, the most obvious example is Martin Luther King. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: But I think that even recognizing that, we should probably acknowledge that for him, for MLK, that was probably performance, too. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: Like, if he was going to Waffle House, is he is the ordering from the menu in that cadence [laughter] if he’s trying to get something from Coretta is he, is he speaking or maybe if that’s her thing. But is he, probably not even speaking in that same cadence. You know what I mean, so though even the people that we associate with that back in the day, it was a performance then, too. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: And so with that in mind, I have to kind of re interrogate, reinvestigate like my immediate [laughs] disdain for that voice. Because, again, it is a performance that has always been a performance and it’s performance that even though we have this pervasive distrust for, you know, those sorts of institutions. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: It has also been the sort of thing that has caused people to rally around for good causes as well. Like we think of the Civil Rights Era we think of that performance. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. And Christianity. I mean, I think you think of the Civil Rights Era and. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: And when you think the civil rights era, you actually think about people who were dressed like that brother was dressed. Right. I mean, even the kind of suit he was wearing. But also just think like, you know, in places like Tennessee I’m from Mississippi so. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: I think that cadence gives us the understanding that we’re watching a Christian. And I think in some parts of the country, like that means a lot. Right. I mean, I actually don’t know if that still means a lot, but I think it does still mean a lot to some people. But yeah, I was like, damn old school suit. Motherfucker got the fro fro. His voice actually, I’m gonna make an assumption here. I can still hear his real, quote unquote “voice.” One, at least one of his real voices underneath that shit. So that was really interesting. And then when I heard him on the Breakfast Club, I think I did hear like a version of what one consider maybe his normal or real voice. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: So that made me feel a little less weird at first. But can you do it? That’s what I really. Can you? Can you? [laughter] 


Damon Young: I was— [laughs] Nah. I can’t do. I can’t do that voice. 


Kiese Laymon: You can’t do it? [laughs]


Damon Young: I actually was trying a little bit in the bathroom earlier today or early this morning, and I was like, yeah, it’s just not working for me. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah, I can do it bro, but I’m never going to do it though for you though. 


Damon Young: [laughs] You can’t bring that up and not do it.


Kiese Laymon: Nah, I can do it. I can do it. But the thing about them niggas is they, they can’t whisper either. Like I just don’t know how you, you could never whisper to a motherfucker like that because I was trying before I got on I was like, yo you can’t. You can’t whisper. But I’m not I’m never doing that shit in public of anybody. But.


Morgan Moody: I think you guys should try. 


Kiese Laymon: [laughter] Yeah. Damon go first. Go on and go first bro. We can say the same sentence.


Damon Young: This morning I had bacon, I had eggs. [laughter] I had some pancakes. And some sy— Like I sound. When I try to do it. That was me trying to do it just now. 


Kiese Laymon: You got to say something about God my nigga you. If you thank God for them pancakes, I think it’ll take you another place. 


Damon Young: And for this delicious pancakes. This delicious breakfast. I want to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [laughter] For giving it to us. For providing us with with the bountiful bacon.


Kiese Laymon: Wow. 


Damon Young: The crispy, not the cheap thin bacon. 


Kiese Laymon: Wow, wow. 


Damon Young: But the crispy thick like Megan Thee Stallion bacon. Crispy and thick. I can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry. That’s it. 


Kiese Laymon: We had a good run bro. [laughter] I think if this shit air, we need to all be like, man, it was good for us when it was good. 


Damon Young: You got to do it. You can’t make me do it. You can’t come on my show and make me do it. You got to do it now. You got to at least try to do the whisper. 


Kiese Laymon: I’m going to try to come up and then bring it down to a whisper. [laughs]


Damon Young: Okay. 


Kiese Laymon: They told me I wasn’t going to be eating no bacon this morning. But the Lord is a generous Lord. I said. Lord. Can a nigga, please have some bacon this morning? The Lord looked at me and said, Kiese, I want to give you more than bacon. I want to give you some of that white bread. [laughter] I said, Lord, can I get some jam with that? The Lord said, no. There will be no jam on that white bread for you, brother. Now take your ass in there and eat that bacon. I said, amen. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. 


Damon Young: [laughter] That was impressive. I. Yeah. 


Kiese Laymon: It’s hard to whisper with it. 


Damon Young: Bravo. If I was. If I was standing up. If people could see me stand, I would be standing in applaud right now. 


Kiese Laymon: You know what’s wild, I got to give a graduation talk at Jackson State University. And I’ve been thinking about all the ways to talk. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: And I think this speaks to [laughter] what you’re talking about, like I mean, because that crowd, not the graduates, but the motherfuckers who like are surrounding the graduates, the parents, they go crazy if I were to speak, say something remotely like representative and positive in that voice, but I just can’t do it bro. I can’t do it. 


Damon Young: That brings me to the next question, right? Because so we we both acknowledge that this is a performance. I think I think that Justin probably would, too. Justin Pearson might acknowledge that too. But who is the performance for? 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Because as you were saying, it’s a it’s a sort of cadence that that suggests Christianity. And so. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: You could make the case that it’s not a performance for us. 


Kiese Laymon: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: It’s a performance for the quote unquote, “people of Tennessee.”. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: So that they know that this isn’t just a Black man being railroaded. This is a Christian. 


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. 


Damon Young: Being railroaded. This is a Christian. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: A God fearing man who is peaceful. Who wants to protests for peace. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: That they did this shit to.


Kiese Laymon: Absolutely. I think that’s true man. I mean, you know, and I think our rhetorical flexibility obviously is a superpower. But I also think that sometimes we think about audience. We’re like, is it this audience or that audience? And I think we all know we can talk to multiple audiences at once, but I think that that voice in Tennessee was was there to galvanize Black Christians that the majority of Black people in Tennessee, but also let white folks slash Christians know that, as you said, this is a God fearing Black man who also is so radical that he would like for all of us, that’s what’s so interesting about what he’s saying, because he’s not just saying we got to stop the mass shootings in you know Nashville and shit like that. He’s like, he’s very, very, very, very, very, very, very clear that he also wants Black folk to stop shooting Black folk in Shelby County, you know, and Memphis. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: So I think he’s doing two things. I think he’s talking to God fearing Black folk. And I think he’s he’s hoping that there’s some God fearing ness in the white folks in Tennessee. But, you know, and you can argue that’s the most effective way to communicate to that group of people. I don’t know if that’s true, but it worked for that brother. So.


Damon Young: Mm hmm. Now, the concept of code switching, right. I love how you put it with the rhetorical flexibility, which is all that code switching basically is, you know what I mean? Now, I will say that I am privileged in a way to be to have the sort of occupation have the sort of life where I don’t I don’t have to, like, be in corporate spaces. I’m basically paid to be myself. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: I guess the sort of corporate speak jargon feel corporate speak that we associate with code switching and also like raising a voice in octave and speaking in a certain way. I don’t necessarily have to do that in order to maintain my employment, as some of us do. 


Kiese Laymon: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: But I’m curious just about like other ways that we code switch. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: That aren’t necessarily about language, but maybe about behavior and maybe even about a overcorrection of behavior. Because I remember, you know, there were times when I was little like radical or whatever, but radical in a performative way. And like when I was a teacher, we’d have like potlucks at the school and I’d bring like, fried chicken or watermelon. [laughs] You know what I mean, like, like, fuck, y’all I’m gonna eat this watermelon in front of all the white people. [laughter] It’s like, I like watermelon but not that much. You know what I mean? So. There’s that overcorrection—


Kiese Laymon: That’s too funny. 


Damon Young: —that a lot of of you know, I think sometimes do too. And so do you still find yourself code switching in any context. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah, but but that’s the thing. I think code switching and rhetorical flexibility are at their root, the same thing. But I think that like the phrase is deployed differently, like code switching. We you know, at least when I hear it, I think somebody’s critiquing me somebody like, damn, he code switching. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: I’d be like, oh, that’s a critique. If somebody be like man that nigga rhetorically flexible. I think that was a, a compliment, you know? I mean, I dress the way I dress partially as a kind of like visual code switch to let really like, I mean, it’s started like people in Mississippi know that, like, you can be one of the illest with the pen and look like this. You know what I’m saying? Look like this. And, you know, I go into meetings like this, granted [laughs] I had to get a little bit behind me before I could do that. But, I mean, I think we do code switch but you know what’s interesting to me is, um, my father’s in that generation of Black men who as soon as they see a white person or a light skinned person, they start talking proper— 


Damon Young: A light skinned— [laughter]


Kiese Laymon: I’m just gonna be honest. You know, my dad be like, shit, shit, and how you doing? How you doing? How you doing in here? And the thing about the thing about his code switching is that like and this is a highly successful dude. I love my father. But. You know, we all mispronounce words. And my father would be like, yes, yes, Bob, how are you doing? Yeah, I was just talking to my son about these textes that he sent me. And I remember one time he said I was like, what the fuck is Texas? [laughter] You know, this nigga couldn’t pronounce texts, you know what I’m saying? So, like, there’s a lot of fucking, like, words that like our at least my people cannot pronounce. But that doesn’t stop them from using the voice that makes them sound like they should pronounce them. So anyway, I love when we code switch and mispronounce words. I just think that’s the kind of [laughter] that’s joyful to me, you know, like, or like, you know, like the, like the textes or when people say, you know, in sports, when they get the microphone in their face and they’re trying to talk properly and they say it’s like it’s not even a word, but every motherfucking Black athlete uses it when they try and talk prop. I’ll remember it in a second/ [laughter] Lackadaisical. 


Damon Young: Lackadaisical? 


Kiese Laymon: Lax-adaisical. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Kiese Laymon: Because they blend in lax, and they’ve heard, we’ve all heard the word lackadaisical and so you know they meant, you know I’m playing lax but then they’d be like, yeah I mean, you know, we just we’re out there playing very lax-adaisical. And. I’m like, nigga, that’s not a word. Like, I just love it. I love it. 


Damon Young: So have you seen have you seen Kill Bill: Volume 2? The second one. 


Kiese Laymon: Nah, too much blood bro. I can’t do it. 


Damon Young: Okay. The second one isn’t as bloody as the first one. 


Kiese Laymon: Okay. 


Damon Young: The first one yeah. The second one. It’s. It’s more, I guess, pensive in a way, or as pensive as the Tarantino movie can be. But at the end of the movie, Beatrix Kiddo, and Bill, they finally meet. Right. And Bill goes on to this long spiel about how Beatrix was trying to pretend to be something that she ain’t, and she’s trying to be this housewife sort of person, when she’s a natural born killer. 


Kiese Laymon: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And he and he talks about Superman and how Superman distinguishes Superman from every other superhero is that Superman is Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. Whereas. 


Kiese Laymon: Uh huh. 


Damon Young: Every other superhero becomes you become Spider-Man, you become Batman. No, Superman was born Superman. And how Clark Kent is Superman’s commentary on humans? 


Kiese Laymon: I like that. 


Damon Young: Like he’s weak, he’s unsure of himself, he’s nervous and so on. My point with that is I wonder if the exaggerated white voice is actually just a critique of whiteness. 


Kiese Laymon: Oh, absolutely. Don’t you think? 


Damon Young: You know what I mean— 


Kiese Laymon: And it’s a way to survive too.


Damon Young: And and, when you do it, all up in white people’s face too, like it is like when you when you do the exaggerated, you know, exaggerated pronunciation, you raise your voice up a level. You know what I mean? And I’m curious, like, I feel like I’m giving away secrets right here. But I’m curious if white people realize that this is when you when you see a Black person code switching in that manner, they are making fun of you. 


Kiese Laymon: Hell no they don’t get that shit. 


Damon Young: [laughter] Okay. 


Kiese Laymon: I can tell you that—


Damon Young: That is what’s happening. 


Kiese Laymon: —they don’t get that at all bro. Like they don’t get that I mean I’m not white, but I work around enough white people to know you can do you can bust on them in they face in so many different ways and they have no idea. I mean, that’s one of the beautiful things about their racism is like I think it prevents them from actually hearing it, much less seeing it. [laughter] You know?


Damon Young: Nah. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. Okay. Here’s a question I really wanted to ask you. This is connected to code switching, so do you eat yolk eggs? Like, do you eat the yolk like like the runny yolk. 


Damon Young: Do you mean, like over over easy—


Kiese Laymon: Your whole life? 


Damon Young: —or just like. 


Kiese Laymon: I don’t know what the fuck that shits called like when the yolk be like— 


Damon Young: When it’s runny. 


Kiese Laymon: —like water.


Damon Young: When it’s runny. Nah I don’t don’t fuck with ru— But you know what? I didn’t fuck with runny eggs for like the first half of my life. And then I ate a couple on like, breakfast sandw— I still don’t prefer them, but they don’t make me like nauseous like they used to. 


Kiese Laymon: So they runny egg the yolk so the yolk thing for me always used to be like I would be in places where motherfuckers were eating yolk and I just can’t. I just get disgusted when I see niggas eating yolk. Right? 


Damon Young: Hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: But I didn’t know what that was white or that was like, now that I got more money, I’m around people who eat yolk because growing up around niggas who don’t have no money. Like the idea of eating yolk was just some shit you saw on TV. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: And I remember the first time I saw Black people, I was actually at a friend at a friend of ours house who was Korean and they gave us this meal, and it looked dope and then there was a fucking yoke on that mug. And I was like, what are we suppose to do with that fam? And they were like, oh eat it. And I was like you want us, I said, I was like, again, I didn’t know. I was like, can you, can you fry that up for us? And now I know that was so, so, so disrespectful. But I think that’s a way of code switching, I know a lot of I know a lot of brothers and sisters who eat that yolk. You know what I’m saying? When they don’t want to eat that yolk, fam. Like just and it’s, and it’s sometimes it’s around money people and sometimes it’s just white people. But that’s some shit I’m never doing. I just can’t fuck with that yolk, you know? 


Damon Young: I mean, I feel like we. I feel like in a way. We’re kind of that way about rare meat. 


Kiese Laymon: Oh, same shit. 


Damon Young: Yeah.


Kiese Laymon: I’m never fucking with no rare meat. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Kiese Laymon: What? I mean, I don’t eat meat at all, but yeah, I don’t eat meat. But the rare meat fam like that confuses me, I just don’t even and don’t understand how that shit can be good. Like, nah, nah, nah. I just think you got to be born a certain way. You either born to eat that blood and that bloody flesh [laughter] or you born to like that shit cooked all the way through and seasoned good. And I’m born that way, you know what I’m saying. [laughs] I’m like Lady Gaga. I’m born that way. My nigga. Oh, God we getting, we done fam. [laughter] We getting done today. I’m born that way.


Damon Young: I’m, I was thinking like [laughs] not. All right. With, with I guess code switching like in how it. You know yeah, it does have a negative connotation you know, some of us need to do to survive, but it never is never considered to be, like a positive thing. Right. 


Kiese Laymon: Nah. 


Damon Young: When you reference someone code switching or who references the concept of code switching and like I don’t have to code switch for work again you know, that’s shit’s—


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: —just something I don’t necessarily have to do. But I do sometimes find myself code switching in in social environments. And it’s not sort of behavior where like I’m trying to be more—


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: —appeasing to white people or to whiteness. It’s more like, you know what? I know that being social. And having small talk. That just ain’t my bag. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: That’s just not a thing I’m really that into. And so but when I go to this coffee shop that’s in my neighborhood, and everyone in the shop knows who I am. I can’t just go in there with a mean mug and, you know, whatever. I got to speak to everybody. [laughter] It’s not like it’s not like I hate people in there. It’s not like I’m upset about doing this. But it is a performance. It is a performance of, like, congeniality. Right. When when, when like I think that the more natural me, which is get my thing do a couple head knocks and be out. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: And so. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: I guess. Would you consider that to be a code switch? Because code which has this racial connotation and that even as I’m saying it, I can’t necessarily divorce the race from it because the neighborhood I live in is it’s not predominantly white, but it’s probably like 60/40, 65/35 in terms of. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know, the white Black breakdown. And so these are when I go to this coffee shop, these are mostly white people in there. And so, you know, even though I don’t necessarily think of it as being a racial performance. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: I can’t really divorce race from anything. 


Kiese Laymon: That’s a great that’s a great question and point, because I don’t even know the answer to that. But, you know, yeah, I don’t I don’t know. I don’t know how much of it is race and how much of it is, you know, celebrity or local celebrity or whatever we want to call it. But—


Damon Young: I mean, do you feel it? Do you feel it when you’re out and about? 


Kiese Laymon: We’re big Black people, too, though, right? I mean, you know, we’re bigger Black men. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: And so that’s this is what I’m thinking now. I’m thinking about how like the times that I you know, that I am, like, presentably flexible, rhetorically flexible is also just because I don’t want to scare people, because scaring people often ends up not good for us, you know? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: So I think about sometimes like yeah, I’ll be in in a place and some people and I’ll be like [laughs], or the thing white people always kill me when you go to a restaurant, if you just listen, they’ll always be like, mm so good, mm so good, mm good. And like if I’m around them in a space. I don’t ever say I’m mm good about my food when I’m in my house with my people. But, you know, if I’m like, out and about, I do think that they’re like certain little phrases that I use to mark. I’m not going to fuck with you don’t think I’m a fuck with you. You know what I’m saying? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Kiese Laymon: Like, I so, so, so I don’t know if that’s what’s happening in there in that coffee shop, but I definitely sometimes want to get in places and get out and and not just like get in and get out without people talking to me and noticing who I am. But like, get in and get out without people thinking I’m a fuck with them. You know what I mean? Like, it’s it’s why I walk to the other side of the street, if I see a white woman coming down the road at night or near night, and it’s just me and her, it’s mostly when I used to jog, I’m going to the other side of the road, not to protect her because I know I ain’t gonna do shit, but to protect myself. You know what I mean? Like, I just don’t want— 


Damon Young: Yeah, Yeah. And, um. You took it deeper with that one—


Kiese Laymon: Oh, we ain’t got to go deeper. [laughter] Let’s come back out then, let’s come back out. 


Damon Young: —random you know, interaction at the coffee shop and you’re talking about, you know, crossing the street. 


Kiese Laymon: But I think the coffee shop—


Damon Young: But it is, it’s the same it is the same thing. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: I’m like, well, it’s a it’s on the same spectrum. 


Kiese Laymon: I think so. 


Damon Young: Right. It’s on same spectrum of behavior. And, you know, I’ve had those thoughts myself too, like even, you know, sometimes I’m leaving the gym, like if I’m leaving the gym—


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: —and like, I’m in the elevator white woman, whatever. And it’s like late night, it’s dark and it’s like, you know what? I’m just going to be mindful of how close I’m walking. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Next to her. And also so that she doesn’t think I’m like walking behind her and trying to sneak. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean? But, but it, but thing is, I would feel that way with anyone. Right. 


Kiese Laymon: Right. 


Damon Young: Right. So it’s not me—


Kiese Laymon: Fuck. It’s tough. That’s tough, man. 


Damon Young: I don’t know how race factors into that, because, again, any woman who’s with me in that space, I am going to naturally, you know, like, you know what? I don’t want her to think that I’m a threat, that I’m going to do anything. I’m just going to my car just like she is. You know what I mean? 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. And I mean, for me, again, being from Mississippi is just I want to make smaller people and particularly like women who happen to be smaller than me not feel like I’m I’m hurt them and I know I’m not going to hurt them, but I know if white women think that I’m going to hurt them, it means so much more in terms of like carcerality than like a Black woman thinking I’m hurt them. You know what I’m saying? Like in terms of like Black, you know, my cousin, my Black woman cousins can call the police all they want to on me or you. I think that’s different than if like some, you know, white money people women call. But yeah it’s it’s it’s but but but the root of that is definitely code switching as you say something to make somebody feel more comfortable and also to protect myself. That’s what I think code switching is about. But you know what I’m thinking though Damon, I’m like, now I’m thinking about like when I used to watch sports with my family or watch anything on TV, actually, like in the eighties and nineties and my grandmother and my mama, my aunties used to used to love love when they put a mic in front of somebody’s Black face and they could articulate themselves. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Kiese Laymon: Now, they didn’t ever say they were articulate, but they’d be like, oh, listen to how they articulate themselves. So this was the same era. And these are all the Black women who love Bryant Gumbel and shit because he was articulate, you know what I’m saying? And they wouldn’t say because he was light skinned and talk white. They’d be like, so I just wonder, are we post articulate? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. We got to wrap. [laughs]


Kiese Laymon: Oh damn, I’m, I’m loving this conversation, man. Thank you. Thank you for talking to me about it family. Actually, um, I just want to think differently about how I interact in these spaces because I’m not sure what I’m doing anymore now, but next time I see you, I definitely won’t talk like Crispus Attucks all right?


Damon Young: [laughs] I mean, I think we all are in some way doing what we feel like we need to do to survive, like. 


Kiese Laymon: That’s it. 


Damon Young: And and it also, you know, if you’re if you’re a public facing person and you’re doing what you feel like you need to do to reach to reach the people that you want to reach. 


Kiese Laymon: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Not reach the most people, but reach who you want to reach. 


Kiese Laymon: That’s right. And in that way, I feel like we got to we got to thank Justin for doing what he did. Both of em.


Damon Young: All right fam. I appreciate you. Thanks for coming through. Coming up next, is Damon hates. The part of the show where I talk about shit that I hate. Because I hate a lot of shit. And then after that, dear Damon. [music plays] In honor of 4/20 since today is 4/20. I have a very special Damon hates and it’s about weed. Obviously now I’ve been smoking for about 25 years, but even saying that out loud is a bit of misnomer because in those 25 years I probably have smoked less than 25 times. Like my first time smoking was when I was 18 and I’ve smoked maybe like once or twice a year in the time since. And my gripe is that weed doesn’t do anything to me, and I wish it did. Like I, I feel like I feel like I am also like the perfect person. Like I am a writer. I’m Black American. I deal with anxiety. Like weed was created for me, the effects of marijuana, or at least the way that marijuana is supposed to affect you, the way it affects everyone else. It was constructed specifically for me. It would be so on brand with just how I dress myself, my beard, everything. But for whatever reason, it just doesn’t have the same effect on me that it has with everyone else. I mean, it makes me a little sleepy, a little drowsy, but I’m already a little sleepy. I’m already motherfucking near comatose all the time. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it doesn’t have an effect on me in that way, because that’s just how I naturally am. I don’t know. I see everybody celebrating today, you know, hitting up. And I’ve tried bongs, I’ve tried shotguns, I’ve tried hotbox, I’ve tried all the different types. Maybe if they make an injectable weed, where I can get it straight to my veins. Maybe that might be it. I’ve tried brownies, I’ve tried gummies. None of this shit fucks with me, and I just want to be built different [laughs] so that I could experience this pleasure that everyone around me seems to be able to experience. That’s all. [music plays] So this week on dear Damon, we are joined by Baratunde Thurston, who is the host of America Outdoors on PBS. He is also the author of many books, including one of my favorites, How to Be Black, which came out in 2012 and was very important for, you know, for how I thought about writing about race, writing about humor, writing about the collision of both. So Morgan the producer, what do we got?


Morgan Moody: Dear Damon. Was it too forward to slide into an old classmate’s DMs on LinkedIn? We’re both in our mid-thirties. Was that a smart move? I made sure to keep it classy. As a woman, did I mess up since men like a chase?


Damon Young: Baratunde what’s good? 


Baratunde Thurston: What’s up? 


Damon Young: How you doing?


Baratunde Thurston: Man I’m doing well. I’m doing very well. Thanks for having me. How are you doing? 


Damon Young: I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been better. But, you know, I’m doing okay. You know I’m here. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yes. You still breathing? 


Damon Young: I’m still breathing. Right. So I haven’t been on LinkedIn for at least a couple of years. I did not know sliding into LinkedIn DMs was a thing. I didn’t even know LinkedIn had DMs. I thought you couldn’t message someone. But I feel like the DM language is specifically for IG. [laughter] If you message someone on LinkedIn, you send a motherfucking email. [laughter] Right. You send, you send a Slack. 


Baratunde Thurston: A professional query. 


Damon Young: Right? Professional query. You didn’t send a DM. A DM it has a certain connotation, but people are DMing on LinkedIn apparently. I mean, is this. This is news to me. Is this news to you? 


Baratunde Thurston: This is news to me. But I’m actually pretty excited about it. I am past the responding to DMs phase in my life. I’m married now, but I get excited for the young people. You know, I like when folks repurpose the platform. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: DMs, in my experience, started on Twitter. The sliding started on Instagram to your point. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Baratunde Thurston: But there’s DMs everywhere Damon. You know what I’m saying like every platform has a little way of, a text message is just an old school DM. 


Damon Young: That is true. 


Baratunde Thurston: And what LinkedIn offers that I’m hoping is the case in the story is a pay for access feature on LinkedIn. Right. So if you’re in LinkedIn premium and somebody slides into your DM, they really want to connect. You know, they really got a proposition for you and I think that’s pretty exciting. 


Damon Young: Yeah, I’m wondering if I am somewhat anachronistic for my immediate like I felt it in my spirit and my gut when I saw the LinkedIn DM. And again, one, who is still communicating on LinkedIn, but the people are apparently.


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. People who want jobs.


Damon Young: But. People who want jobs, not people who want love. Right. That is different. That is a distinction. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But to your point, I guess I just need to evolve with the times. What was Tom Cruise and what was that in Collateral evolved, there was something to be said over and over again to justify his murder of people repeatedly. 


Baratunde Thurston: [laughter] I like that we’re bringing that language into this love conversation. 


Damon Young: Right. 


Baratunde Thurston: Let’s find the most violent possible reference we can to connect with a professional platform being used, maybe abused for love seeking. 


Damon Young: Do you think Tom Cruise is on LinkedIn? 


Baratunde Thurston: Oh, I’m sure he is not. He’s not even at the Oscars. And that was built for Tom Cruise. So I’m pretty sure he will never, ever, ever be on something called LinkedIn. 


Damon Young: I mean, do you think that’s the fame thing or like a Scientology thing or just a Tom Cruise kind of weird as fuck thing. 


Baratunde Thurston: It’s an I’m Tom Cruise thing. What value, now you got me thinking. [laughter] Who’s the actor with the mobile phone company they just sold? Ryan Reynolds. I think.


Damon Young: This is news to me. 


Baratunde Thurston: Deadpool. 


Damon Young: Ryan Reynolds. Ryan Reynolds. Yeah. 


Baratunde Thurston: Ryan Reynolds. So Ryan Reynolds is on LinkedIn. 


Damon Young: See that? That is fascinating. Like I’m learning so much about LinkedIn today. [laughter]


Baratunde Thurston: So look, I’m on LinkedIn. I hang out on LinkedIn. I guess how would I put it? There’s fewer Nazis on LinkedIn. You know, in many of the other platforms get overrun with a certain kind of mob mentality. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: And I have yet to experience that. It’s not entirely a safe space, but it’s safer. So, yeah, Ryan Reynolds is a real business person and he loves marketing and advertising. I think he’s hilarious and so I love his LinkedIn posts. But Tom Cruise, I don’t even think he sees himself as a business person. He’s he’s an entertainer. 


Damon Young: Does he see himself as a human is a question. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah, he’s, I guess, above us in his view. 


Damon Young: I actually feel like someone like Ryan Reynolds, being on LinkedIn is obnoxious, because it’s like if I were to meet him right. 


Baratunde Thurston: Uh huh. 


Damon Young: At some party or somewhere and he handed me a business card it’s like, motherfucker, I know who you are. [laughter] You know. I don’t need this damn card.


Baratunde Thurston: Deadpool just gave me his business card. 


Damon Young: Yeah I don’t need this card to remind me of who you are Ryan Reynolds. [laughter]


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Right. And so. I don’t know. I think that once you have a certain level of status having a LinkedIn profile is just, I mean Baratunde are you trying to tell us something that you have continued to stay on LinkedIn because you are doing a DM thing, like. 


Baratunde Thurston: Oh, no. 


Damon Young: I mean, I this was this was accidental. I didn’t mean to put you out there [laughter] like this. My apologies.


Baratunde Thurston: It’s all business, man. It’s all business. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Baratunde Thurston: It’s like a good place to promote projects, a good place to see where college friends you actually want to be in touch with are up to, as opposed to the Facebook version where just anybody I ever met is telling me about their lives and being called friend. I mean, LinkedIn, it feels more honest, like they call your connection to another person. A connection. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Baratunde Thurston: Like, how many connections do you have? They don’t pretend that it’s some deep emotional, you know, familial kind of relationship. Like all these people you met in your life are not your friends because you went to pre school together. So I respect the distance, which I guess to the initial question makes it way stranger to use this like non emotional space to forge an emotional connection. 


Damon Young: Yeah. Like. To your point. You know, there isn’t linguistic rigor with the creation of LinkedIn where, you know, IG you have followers, but these people are following you. Right. Like only like 10% of your followers actually see your posts or something like that. Some crazy number. Facebook, friends. But the all these motherfuckers ain’t my friends. 


Baratunde Thurston: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Some of them are cousins. [laughs] You know what I mean? Some of them are classmates who added me and I added them back. 


Baratunde Thurston: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: You know, but I haven’t seen them in 20 years. 


Baratunde Thurston: Or former coworkers. Could you just feel guilty? Bosses? I got shamed into friending a boss years ago. He’s like, you never accepted my friend request. Because we’re not friends. You have an economic relationship with me and vice versa. Like, that’s cool. 


Damon Young: I am still friends with at least one of my ex’s parents. And now I have a good relationship with them. 


Baratunde Thurston: Wow. 


Damon Young: Right. 


Baratunde Thurston: Like, we should unpack that a little bit. 


Damon Young: This. This is not again, these are good people. We had a good relationship. We just [laughter] the relationship is—


Baratunde Thurston: These are good people. You know, this [laughs] about to get interesting when they, the preface is these are now, these are good people. 


Damon Young: God fearing, you know, solid Christian people. Right. [laughter] Well. So the question was from a woman. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Who slid in the in the in the LinkedIn Slack of a man. 


Baratunde Thurston: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And her question is, I guess, about whether or not it’s, I guess, proper etiquette to do a thing like this. I actually have some ambivalence about this here. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Because I think that, you know what I’m supposed to say. My answer is supposed to be, you know what it’s the 21st century it’s been the 21st century for 23 years. Do what you’ve got to do. There’s no such thing as gender roles we’re all fluid, etc., etc.. And I, I believe that up here. 


Baratunde Thurston: In your head. Yeah. 


Damon Young: I feel like there’s not as successful as a track record when women are. And we’re talking cisgender, heteronormative relationships, whatever. But when women are pursuing because it sets up a dynamic where the guy kind of thinks he’s the prize and the one that needs to be pursued. 


Baratunde Thurston: Hmm. 


Damon Young: And I feel the more I talk, the more I feel like Steve Harvey [laughter] right now. 


Baratunde Thurston: This it’s coming Harvey ish, this is accurate. 


Damon Young: Yeah. It’s this is Harvey ish. This is, what is my man’s name who died last year who was on Atlanta. From Atlanta Kevin Samuels. 


Baratunde Thurston: Oh. Yeah. 


Damon Young: Samuel esque. I’m feeling somewhat Samuel esque right now. Anyway, what do you think? 


Baratunde Thurston: So I want to see the copy. I want to see the language. I want to get forensic to have a full assessment. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: However, I respect the game. I think it’s differentiated and I think it’s a very competitive and often confusing world. And what better place than LinkedIn to to flex your [laughter] competitive advantage and pursuit of love than to slide into DMs on a platform not really designed for it. So there’s levels of sliding. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: I’m not a baseball person, so I’m not going to get deep into how you could slide into bases at different speeds. I don’t understand what we’re talking about even right now, but is this plausibly a stand in for somebody approaching you at a conference or after a meeting or as you’re leaving the office? Or is this just like nude pics in your inbox? Right. Like, there’s a big range in there. And based on the language of the question, I’m going to assume we weren’t up at the nudie stage and there we’re more down into like, yo, I think, you know, we should get together some time kind of thing and that it’s respectful, it’s differentiated, competitive advantage. So I’m going to say it’s cool, go get it, get yours. 


Damon Young: So a respectful Christian Slack message, basically. [laughter] All right.


Baratunde Thurston: Because I think the thing about LinkedIn, it is it’s work Twitter. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: You know what I mean? Like, you’ve, like, swiped your badge to get into that space. And so everything that happens in there is in an office. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: That’s kind of like the vibe of it. And so when I say, like, is it respectful, appropriate? There’s just some stuff you shouldn’t be doing at work. And we’ve learned that. We know that all like it’s just some people learn later than others. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: So I think stuff that might fly on Instagram, which is a way wilder environment in terms of the type of content that’s going around that should not be happening on LinkedIn. Even if you’re attempting a love connection. 


Damon Young: I guess to extend or to continue the baseball analogy. 


Baratunde Thurston: Oh, here we go. Okay. 


Damon Young: I guess, you know, with sliding. Sliding in a DM and I never really made the baseball connection with the sliding into DMs, but I guess it’s the difference between sliding headfirst [laughter] or sliding spikes first, right? 


Baratunde Thurston: I love the seriousness with which we are dissecting the possibilities here, Damon, this is. This is a good use of education. I like it. 


Damon Young: Again. LinkedIn DM is a whole new world. So we need to create this whole new lexicon to describe what is happening in front of us. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yes, yes.


Damon Young: See that the analogy breaks down because the head first slide would suggest more aggression. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. And recklessness. [laughs]


Damon Young: In a baseball context. The spikes first slide is the aggressive slide, because that’s the slide where if you try to tag me out, I’m going to rip the skin off of your wrist. 


Baratunde Thurston: Ooh. 


Damon Young: With the spike first slide. So the spike first slide, I guess would be the dick pic, the nude image, the whatever the proposition immediately. Whereas the head slide is that, you know, it’s almost like a slip and slide where you’re, you know, just just having fun. 


Baratunde Thurston: And but you’re also I feel like there’s a body metaphor, you know, if you’re leading with your feet, you’re keeping distance, right? You’re playing it safe. All your vital organs, your face. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Baratunde Thurston: Are the last thing that’s going to get hurt. Whereas if you jump face first into the ground, you are all in, you are borderline just crazy up in here. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Baratunde Thurston: And you don’t care what happens to you. You are more desperate, you know, more bold and maybe more unhinged. 


Damon Young: I think that anyone doing a LinkedIn DM is already [laughs] somewhat unhinged. Right. Of all the methods to reach out to somebody asking for a date, hit em up on LinkedIn. But you know, to your point, I am curious exactly what or how this person reached out and also the relationship too. Because. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yeah. 


Damon Young: If LinkedIn is your only connection, that makes sense. If you met someone at some conference or some whatever, and this is the only way you’re able to be in touch with them, this is their only social media. That’s fine. So the context matters. 


Baratunde Thurston: Right. 


Damon Young: But if this is someone that maybe you work with or someone that lives in the same city, when you have other social— 


Baratunde Thurston: Someone you just saw on CNBC. 


Damon Young: Yes. [laughs] You just hit up, you know hit up Baratunde.


Baratunde Thurston: They must be in the business. Let me find them. 


Damon Young: I really loved you in that documentary [laughter] would you like to can I pick your brain for a coffee? It could be Ryan Reynolds. 


Baratunde Thurston: [laughs] That that would be the plot twist that that’s it. That’s it.


Damon Young: I think that she should do her. I think that my ambivalence is might be just my own thing. I need to work out therapy or maybe I need to read some more. 


Baratunde Thurston: Maybe you need to hang out on LinkedIn some more. [laughter] It’s not just a business conference anymore. 


Damon Young: All right. Baratunde Thurston thank you. You know, we’ve circled, we’ve never actually met before in person. 


Baratunde Thurston: This is as close as we’ve gotten. Yes. 


Damon Young: I’m in Pittsburgh. You’re in L.A.? We’re across coasts. 


Baratunde Thurston: But our beards. Our beards are in communion now. [laughs] 


Damon Young: I agree. And I think this is a perfect analogy for the LinkedIn connection, because we are connecting. 


Baratunde Thurston: We are connected now. 


Damon Young: We are connected. 


Baratunde Thurston: Yes. There are professional digital social platforms. 


Damon Young: All right. 


Baratunde Thurston: [laughs] Thank you so much for having me. This is fun. [music plays]


Damon Young: Again, just want to thank the homies Kiese Laymon and Baratunde Thurston for coming through today. Great guests, great conversations, a lot of fun. Remember, subscribe to Stuck with Damon Young, on Spotify. There are all these buttons that you could hit. Boom, free. Easy, easy peasy. Just go and do it. What’s stopping you if you haven’t done it already? Also, if you have any questions about anything whatsoever, hit me up at deardamon@crooked.com. All right y’all. See you next week. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Kendra James and Meredith Heringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing sound and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. And from Gimlet and Spotify our executive producers are Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Lauren Silverman, Nicole Beemsterboer, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam. Follow and subscribe to Stuck on Spotify. Tap the follow button and hit the bell icon to be notified when a new episode drops.