Rock the Boat | Crooked Media
Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets
August 08, 2023
Pod Save The People
Rock the Boat

In This Episode

DeRay, Kaya and De’Ara cover the underreported news of the week — a mother in need misplaced by NYPD, the first of its kind Black fine art print fair, and one man’s personal vendetta against affirmative action.

News:

DeRay Family says mother has been missing since NYPD officers took her to hospital back in April

Kaya Conservative activist behind US affirmative action cases sues venture capital fund

De’Ara What’s Expected To Be The Largest-Ever Black Fine Art Print Fair To Amplify Artists

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[AD BREAK]

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay and Welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it’s me, Kaya, and De’Ara talking about all the underreported news with regard to race and justice from the past week. And I’m sending y’all some good August energy. We talk about the Alabama boat debacle, the push back about affirmative action and just race support and funding. Uh. And then we talk about the NYPD. A whole host of things, Beyonce. Here we go. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson, still on X at @HendersonKaya. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay at @deray on Twitter. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I couldn’t deal, so I still have Twitter, but I just don’t do anything with it except open up things when DeRay and Kaya send me things. But the other day, just like seeing the prompt popped up, pop up with the X, I don’t know. It just triggered me. So I took it off my phone. Wrong couple of days to take it off your phone because evidently there’s been a lot happening that started from afar. Y’all got to fill me in because I’m not I don’t I’m not on the X, on the Twitter. Um and so I don’t know what’s happening. 

 

Kaya Henderson: I’m a let DeRay tell the story. [laughing] Yes. Because– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Well. 

 

Kaya Henderson: He’s got the full context.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Let me tell you. There was a Black man on uh the dock in Montgomery, Alabama. And this is an important dock because it is close to Commerce Street. And when you I’ve been to this I’ve been to this area, I’ve been to Commerce Street. In this part of the South and all the Commerce Streets that you know, in America, especially on the East Coast. Commerce streets, the history of Commerce Street is a name is because that’s where slaves were sold, that they were the com, the commerce. So that is why Commerce Street becomes a common name in American cities. So on this street, I mean, on the dock, off, off of commerce, like near Commerce Street, there’s a Black man who was trying to tell this boat that they need to move over so this other boat can dock. And the it is white, uh white people who have the boat that will not move. And the guy is telling them there’s video of him telling them. And he’s like an older Black guy who was like come on y’all just move the boat, da da da. The next thing you know. 

 

Kaya Henderson: He’s a security. Is he the security guard? 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Yeah, he’s I think he’s security. But I also think his job is to, like, just make sure the, you know, like the boats can do what they gotta do. So he’s like part of the dock staff for sure. Right. So uh the next thing you know, this white man just hauls off and hits him, just clocks him. And before the Black guy is ready to fight, he like, throws his hat up again it’s like a whole scene out of a movie. And then not only does a man hit him, but then a group of other white guys who are around them jump the Black security guard. Now there’s another boat trying to come, but the boat can’t dock because they won’t move their boat. So, you know, he is just fending for himself. And there are people not super close, but there are people videotaping it and they’re eating it. And then, y’all, it’s on. First thing we see is a 16 year old Black boy jumps out of the boat and swims to the shore. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Jumps out.

 

DeRay Mckesson: And starts to fight to defend the Black guy. Right before that happens, another black guy runs down the dock, he runs down the ramp and he starts to defend. But they are wildly outnumbered. It’s like at this point it’s three Black guys on like eight white people just nailing. Nailing the guys and then baby the tides turn. It is a scene out of a movie. The boat docks, that cannot dock. And it’s it’s the crew that had been trying to get back the people who work at the dock, all Black people, and they run down and it’s just on. It is on and popping on that dock. And it was one of those moments where it’s like, you know, people say F around and find out they you know, you play silly games, you win silly prizes. And that was what happened, baby. It was on. 

 

Kaya Henderson: On is an understatement. [laugh] Like it was like the World Wrestling Federation. Wherever you WWE, like smack down on the dock. I mean, people throwing people into the water. People are hitting people with chairs. It was but listen, those white people had no idea what they were in for. In fact, they beat the dude down and then proceeded to go back to their boat like it was all good. And then a Black brigade came, drag them off the boat, not literally threw the lady in the water, beat them down. It was. It was karma, baby. It was karma. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I guess what comes to my mind is a boat of Black people arriving and then they get off the boat, ready for action. Just the historic context. And what is the trauma in those bodies [laugh] having to having to be confronted with that situation. And it’s just I think it’s just a wild thing, when you think about the overall context. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Honey, Child, I had a transcendent experience last night in with the rainy blessings of the creator washing all over us while we enjoyed the amazing Renaissance concert. Oh, my sweet baby Jesus. Let me tell you all this. And and like I’m a Beyoncé fan for sure. Super. I looked at these tickets. I was like, Yo, this is a little pricey. I don’t know if I could go. I didn’t buy tickets straight away. And then, like, I kept watching everybody’s stuff on the socials and I had a little FOMO and I don’t usually get FOMO. I bought myself some tickets honey. We were on the floor and a couple of hours before they were like 100%– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Oh wait you were on the floor, so you were getting rained on too!

 

Kaya Henderson: On the floor, baby wet soaked, sequins and dripping honey. [laughter] Sequins and dripping. Honey, listen, all I can tell you is, first of all, that lady is incredible. Like, the show is incredible. The production is incredible. All of that, A, number one, B, number two, she I think we had a better concert in the rain than people who had her dry. Because when I tell you, she and those dancers and those musicians worked so hard, like they gave us 250% at some point you didn’t even realize that you were soaking wet and it was just part of the thing. It was spectacular. But more than anything else, I think what I realized last night. So first of all, if you haven’t seen any of the videos online, the Chicago kids, the DC kids like the outfits that people are wearing, the like the stylistic interpretations that show up at this concert are absolutely. I mean, you could sit in the parking lot and just watch an entire show and never go inside. And as I thought about it, I thought about the fact that [clears throat] Beyoncé allows us to be free in ways that, like, we can’t be free otherwise. You you saw Rhinestone cowboys, aliens, superstars, pink purple, spotted thong wearing tutu wearing fringe, blah blah like all of the things and it didn’t matter who you were or what you looked like you got to express yourself in whatever way you wanted. And that freedom is something that like we don’t experience in many parts of our lives. And I stood in a fricking football stadium full of absolutely free people singing, dancing, getting wet, hugging each other, like doing. I mean, there were times where I will say it was not FedEx Field’s finest moment. Once it started raining, they had people sheltering in place. They literally did not know how to manage the crowd. And so there were times where it got a little tight and you felt a little nervous, like what is about to go down? This is dangerous. And like you look to the left and look to right and people were like, sis I got you, don’t worry. Sorry. Like it was the most polite and people were like, look, we all here for the same thing. We just trying to get this Beyonce love, you good sis? You are right? Come on, Come with me. You got your daughter like it was such a fun. Like the crowd was safe and free and familial and like, it was a whole entire experience. Separate and apart from the, the singing, the dancing, which was all amazing. The costumes, honey pod costumes. But beyond all of that, what um the vibe and the energy that this woman brings to the stadium, it was incomparable. It really was just incomparable. Mm. I’m have to see that thing again. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Last uh last tour, I was at a at one of the tour stops where it rained as well. And Kaya, same thing. It was like a little dicey, but I’ve never seen people get back to their seats so orderly. It blew my mind. I was like this we should run schools like this because people are– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –and it’s not they didn’t have no stat like it was no crossing guards. No I mean, it was it really was like, just please get back to your seat. And people did it. I was, my sister, I went two nights ago. My TeRay went, I went Saturday, TeRay went Sunday and TeRay texted me this morning, she was like, I got home really late. The logistics getting out were awful. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And she was like, I was floored at how hard she performed in the rain. She was like, pouring down rain. She was like that woman performed, I saw her and it was not raining. And it was incredible. And I think, you know, Kaya, my only thing I’ll say here is that I thought the person that should get an award besides Beyonce’s, obviously, because like it’s Beyonce and she nailed it, is whoever was in real time moving the videos, the person switching the cameras, in real time! 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Like to produce that show. 

 

Kaya Henderson: We saw everything. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: In real–

 

Kaya Henderson: We saw everything.

 

DeRay Mckesson: –get that boy a raise, a award, a medal because and De’Ara you haven’t seen it yet. But literally, like there are points where, you know, Beyonce’s dancing. So she’s there’s no way she’s in the same spot every night. And the cameramen are moving their million cameras. And he is like perfectly putting the right thing on the screen at the right moment and Kaya, you know, at the end where it’s the handheld cameras. I just was floored– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –at the video production of it all. And you know, what what other people do is that they do a lot of tricks and gizmos and da da da. And when you look at this, when you step back from the show, you’re like, really? It’s one big screen. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Props. And some tricks. Obviously right, she flies, but it’s really one big screen as most of all of it. And what they do to maximize that one big screen with the video, you feel like you were watching an MTV special being produced in front of you in real, get that man a raise. They nailed it. 

 

Kaya Henderson: For sure, honey. It I mean, listen, it was worth every single penny. I’m not. I’m not. Listen, don’t don’t bust up your rent money, but if you got a few extra coins, I am telling you it is not uh will you do not you will not count it robbery to go to this thing and have your whole entire life changed. 

 

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

 

[AD BREAK]

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, my news today is from Forbes. I just thought this was a lovely article and it taught me a little bit of something I didn’t know. Um. And I love when I learn things I didn’t know about Black artistry and Black culture. So more than 50 established and emerging Black artists will be showcased in the first ever Fine Art print fair. And it’s presented by the Black art Black art in America. Um. And evidently it’s bookending the Better Days Joy and Revolution Exhibition. Um. The fair will be on view at the Black at the Black Art in America Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Atlanta. This is happening August 11th and 12th. So if you’re in the Atlanta area, get there. I know that the next time I’m in Atlanta, I will be going to this gallery and sculpture garden um that is featuring a ton of, you know, up and coming artists, established artists, Jamaal Barber, who’s an artist and a printmaker, Jamaal explores Black identity. He said about this, that there’s an economic argument, because they’re making multiples in printmaking and it doesn’t have to carry the cost of every painting that you know, when you’re just doing one painting, that painting, you’re putting all that time and effort. But you get one, you know, you get one you know one fee out of it, um sort of [?]. So printing has to be the printer, printing has to be thousands of dollars in order to make up the cost of working. And so this fair is an opportunity, you know, although it’s a different kind of economic structure than a painting, but print making carries with it you know  sort of it’s same the same type of the same type of the burdens in terms of making it cost effective. There’s so much technical mastery, how the marks are being made, how it’s printed, how much time went into it. He says, I think you can’t help but appreciate the amount of work that went into a piece. I think it’s a good way for people to enter the market in terms of buying art altogether. It’s fascinating to learn about many different processes and how people are using the processes that have been around for thousands of years. Thank you. Jamaal Barber. So, you know, recognizing market demand. Auction houses have been expanding the sales of different artworks in multiple interpretations. And so, you know, it’s they do this through a transfer process such as you know woodcuts, etchings, screen prints and lithographs. So fine art multiples are not just copies. Each one has, you know, is slightly different, even even if you’re you know kind of the non trained eye can’t see it. You know, prints may involve arduous physical creative processes and and feel that they um I’m just gonna say creative processes, that we can feel that intimate connection when we investigate the nuances in just those small differences. Uh. This inaugural Fine Art Fair is poised to be the country’s largest fine art fair of any kind focused on works by Black artists. The fair will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of printmaking and a chance to get involved as collectors um of fine art prints with available works highlighting contemporary artists from around the country alongside master printmakers, we have to come up with a different word. Other than master, it’s like triggering. We’ve also decided to center, they’ve also decided to center print make print maker lead programing featuring Jamaal Barber and um another artist, Jennifer, Jennifer Mack-Watkins. To emphasize the educational component. The goal is to highlight printmaking as a distinctive art form and to put forth um high level classes about collecting fine art prints as an asset. I just thought this was fascinating. All of it, y’all. Um. So there is a need for this fair, obviously. Um. And I hope this this fair happens every year. Um. The need for a fair of this magnitude amplifying Black print makers mirrors the need to update and inform art history to include women and people of color. So this is a practice that Black folks, women, folks of color have been doing for years and years and years. But when you kind of look at the canon of who are like you know the renowned printmakers, etc., it never is people that look like us, of course. And so even though you do have Faith Ringgold, amazing. Kerry James Marshall, Kory Alexander, all of these folks that are Black contemporary artists that have done this work, there’s still so much work to do in terms of making it you know kind of a holistic representation in the mainstream around printmaking. So I just wanted to bring this to the pod, if you all, or if you’re in Atlanta. You are lucky again, this is this art fair is happening. Fine Art Print Fair is happening in Atlanta, August 11th and 12th. I wish I could be there. This is just I just thought it was wonderful and just wanted to share it with you all. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Thanks for bringing this to the podcast De’Ara. Um. The point about prints, purchasing prints being an entry into the Black art collection market resonated significantly with me um. In the early nineties, I was living in Brooklyn. It was the hotness and we were all being exposed to this incredible Black art. And I was a teacher. I couldn’t afford no Black art. [laughing] And uh I remember walking down the cab avenue in Brooklyn and happening upon a um sort of an open house at an art at an art. It was an artist’s studio. Um. His name is Leroy Campbell. And um at the time, he had a series called The Neck Bone Series, where he painted these African American people, Black faces in, you know, church, in school, at picnics at whatnot. It was one of the first times that I had ever seen Black cultural life depicted in sort of a contemporary style and whatnot. Anyway. I go inside, you know, there’s wine and cheese and there are prints for sale. I mean, there are, you know, real pieces of art for sale, but there are prints for sale. And I bought a print. Um uh. I bought a print called I think it was called Sweet Potato, but it was this African-American couple kissing each other. And it was a small print, like maybe an eight by 11. But that was all the art that I could afford honey. I put that [?] in a frame and maybe it went with me from Brooklyn to D.C. back to New York. That was like my art. That was my thing. And, you know, if anybody has ever seen me on a on a video podcast or whatever, whatever, um whether I’m in my upstairs office or my downstairs office, there are Leroy Campbell, real art, real paintings in my house now. Um. [laugh] The one the one behind me is called Fighting. Um. What is it called? It’s called oh fighting tool. And as you know, has teachers and students in a boxing ring, because education is a fighting tool. I have one upstairs that celebrates Mr. Obama, I have about four or five different Leroy Campbell pieces, and I would never have become a collector of his stuff if I hadn’t had an easy entry point with a print. And so I think, you know, there are low end prints and high end prints. And I would encourage anybody who’s interested in, you know, you don’t have to be Swizz Beatz buying up, you know, big fancy things. You can actually furnish your home and your spaces with amazing Black art at an entry level price through printmaking. And so hit it over to to this um to this fair because I think you’ll just I mean it opens a world of Black art to folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Thanks for bringing it De’Ara. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: I think about one of my favorite classes at Bowdoin was about uh it was about Black art, and we studied specifically the political significance of photos in Black homes. And how most of us grew up where, like, you know, there was a photo section on the in the living room on the dresser or, you know, when you walked up the stairs, it was lined with family photos. And how how seeing ourselves was really a powerful move, especially in a time where, like, you know, it’s hard to afford a camera. It was hard to get things printed, like it just wasn’t as it is now it’s like everybody has a camera on their phone, the that wasn’t the case back then. Like my grandfather was our family photographer and there was one [?], there was one camera. It was his. It was uh like you didn’t touch it, you know, it was like a whole thing around it. And this reminds me that so many more people would have art in their would have other art in their home if they had access to it. And I didn’t know until rather recently that, like, there is affordable art. To me, if you had like an art piece, you were rich. Like if you had something that wasn’t a photograph, you are wealthy. Because I didn’t grow up seeing anything other than like, you know, artwork that kids made on the walls. I didn’t grow up seeing, my grandmother has no piece of fine art that is not a photograph like and that was a house that I and the house I and my father had no we we barely had photographs at the house. My father was hilarious, but Grandma’s house had everything. And I think about this is so cool because one of the only consistent things I see on Twitter since, you know, 2014 to today is people will be like, I just moved into my apartment, where can I find Black art? And then people will send a million responses of like, go here, go here, da da da. But like, there is something really beautiful about touching it, seeing it. And I think about I bought the first piece of art that I’ve ever owned. I bought it in South Africa. Uh. I was there for global citizen, Beyonce was performing and Nelson Makamo was the artist. I retweeted his stuff on Twitter. It was like a whole thing. And I and then I’m at a thing in in South Africa. And he taps me like DeRay and I’m like, uh hey, great to meet you. He’s like, I’m Nelson Makamo like, great to meet you. And he’s like you retweeted me, I’m like, I know your art. I, like, didn’t know his name, but I knew his art. And he was like, come by my studio. When I get to the studio, it’s Oprah. It’s Kelly Rowland. It’s Ava. Ava had just put him she was putting him on the cover of Time magazine and I and just like she had hadn’t met him yet. She knew his art. I introduced him to Ava, like in the place they were at. But it’s like, how did I even get, you know, it’s like the luck of the draw that I even, like, got to the studio to be able to buy a piece of art, right? Because, like, the access piece is actually just so hard even when you get these incredible. So every day I wake up and I walk, I walk downstairs and I see this beautiful image of a young Black boy drawn in charcoal with a halo over his head. And that is how I start my day every day. And that was a Black artist. So shout out to this. I hadn’t heard of it. I’m to tell my friends to go. Boom. 

 

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

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Kaya Henderson: My news today really makes my blood boil a little bit. But it is about the American Alliance for Equal Rights, which is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Edward Blum. We gonna talk about Edward Blum today y’all. Um. And the alliance has was instrumental in the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject affirmative action in college admissions. Mr. Blum founded the plaintiff group um Students for Fair Admissions. But it’s all under this American Alliance for Equal Rights and with a handy decision against affirmative action in their pocket. Um. Mr. Blum and his group are fighting on a new frontier against preference based programs. Last week, they filed a lawsuit in Atlanta against the Fearless Fund, which is a venture capital firm that launched that was launched in 2019 by Keshia Knight Pulliam, Arian Simone, and Ayana Parsons. Investors in the Fearless Fund include people like Bank of America and Costco and General Mills and JPMorgan Chase. And the Fearless Fund Awards Black women who own small businesses, $20,000 in grants, digital tools to help them grow their business, and mentorship opportunities provided in conjunction with MasterCard. That sounds good, right? Gives small Black women business owners support as they try to start and scale their businesses. Well, Mr. Blum alleges that the Fearless Fund violates the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which bars racial bias in private contracts because only Black women are eligible for the grant competition. In fact, Mr. Blum says that the Fearless Fund is discriminating against its 60 white and Asian members by excluding them from the grant program due to their race. Y’all, do you hear this? This man is coming after the venture capital firm. The program’s set up to remedy the traditional issues around giving access, opportunity, and capacity to underserved and underrepresented communities in America. Um and this is the first of many lawsuits Mr. Blum plans on filing to challenge the use of racial classifications in all manners of American life. Um. Mr. Blum’s job role. What he does is he connects potential plaintiffs with attorneys who are willing to represent them in these racial test cases. And then he uses those test cases to set legal precedent. And this has tremendous ramifications. I mean, they will then use this the college based admissions um precedent, to now go after companies, private companies and private venture capital firms to say that race based preferences are not okay. Um. One of the things that I was and I and this will have tremendous ramifications for all of the post George Floyd corporate commitments, any kinds of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is going to challenge all of the DEI hires, the people who are head of diversity, equity and inclusion is going to uh all of the things like this is a full frontal assault and the college admissions decision was just the tip of the iceberg. These people are are going for it all across the board. And I was thinking to myself, Mr. Blum, why where how do you get this way? What what’s the what is the bee in your bonnet against racial preferences? What happened to you? Oprah says, ask, ask what happened to you? [laugh] Right so [laugh] so in an attempt to try to understand, I did some research on Mr. Blum and Mr. Blum it turns out um grew up in Michigan with, like fairly liberal parents and, you know, did all the things, but ended up being in Texas, living in Texas. And he was a stockbroker in the early eighties, and he became part of the neoconservative movement and decided to run against a Democratic incumbent for a congressional seat in the district that he was living in. Well, as part of his campaign, he and his wife went and knocked on doors to, you know, um to support his candidacy and to meet with voters, connect with voters. And what he realized as he knocked on the doors where that the boundaries of his district were super erratic and they had been gerrymandered to give greater voting power to African-Americans who were in the majority of that district. Well, you can imagine that in this largely African-American district, Mr. Blum lost and he got mad because he lost because of this gerrymandered district. He filed a lawsuit against against, um I guess, the state of Texas. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and Mr. Blum won. And that lost election because of the racial preference in gerrymandering, started what is now a long and some might argue, successful career in dismantling racial preferences in America. Um. Mr. Blum said that he is going to found more groups um and pursue more successful litigation like Students for Fair Admissions, he said the common theme of these organizations is to challenge in the courts the use of racial classifications and preferences in our nation’s policies. Um. And I this incensed me, frankly, it really incensed me. Um. When we think about the goodwill, when we think about the rectification that is coming through things like venture capital funds that are aimed at African American women or any marginalized, you know, group um to try to give them a leg up when they have had a leg under for so long. And basically you have this man who’s devoted his life to preserving white preference because let’s just turn this thing around. If you are eliminating, you know, preference programs for minorities, then you are reinforcing preference programs for the majority. And um this. I’m sure that there is some attorney who is as pissed off as Edward Blum was when he lost his dinky congressional race. And I hope that that person is out there getting funded by people the way Mr. Blum is getting funded and who is going to bring the ruckus to the courts. Because we used to be you know, we used to have horsepower in these court battles and we got a uh and because of gerrymandering and because gerrymandering, right? This is why the Republicans have the majorities that they have because of packing the courts, because of all of these things. And this man has the nerve to stand up and say it’s wrong to give struggling Black women entrepreneurs $20,000. Y’all better get out of here with that stuff. But I brought it to the podcast because I thought that you all might have something more insightful to say than my anger about the loser Edward Blum, who has turned his loss into a crusade against minorities. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I think the sickest part of this for me is that they’re using the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Which– 

 

Kaya Henderson: Girl say it. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Which was established after the Civil War to make sure that people of African descent, black people, could actually have a citizenship like that that is why this law was was brought and Andrew Jackson vetoed the law not once, but twice, which so it’s just like just the history of this law and like the fact that this law was actually to protect Black people from this type of foolishness is wild. And then because Kaya then I got even, you know, same as you get a little deeper into it. The first person to actually test this law was a Black woman. Wheres her name, Ellen Garrison, a Black activist born free as the grandchild of enslaved Black people, was the first person to test the nation’s first Civil Rights Act in court in 1866, 100 years before Rosa Parks. Ms. Garrison didn’t want to get off the bus, 100 years before. Testing this law, a Black woman. And now this law is being used against Black women. Get me out of here. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: The only thing I have to add here is this reminded me of the impact of the concentration of extreme wealth on the right. That they just have the money to fund the wildest stuff and the left has money too, but the right just has such extreme wealth and they fund the rollbacks. And I think about, you know, I am privileged to be a full time organizer. And they’re just not a lot of orgs that just, you know, we spend so much time trying to like just keep people breathing like trying to like get people across the finish line that it is so hard for even the best organizations to think about big, big, big structural change because you’re like, well, it ain’t even gonna matter if people can’t eat dinner, right? Like it and the right, just like concentrates their wealth. When you think about Mothers for Liberty or whatever that group is, and da da they just like are so it’s like seven women who are the mothers, but they get paid to do that full time. I mean, that is their full time job is to go around and do this stuff. 

 

Kaya Henderson: Not just not just they get paid, they are financed to proliferate, to start new groups, to pay other people to write the playbooks to I mean, all of it. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And like you think about the school board elections, it’s not that Black people don’t want to be on the school board. It’s like, Well, I know a lot of Black people who would be amazing on school boards, but they have jobs. They can’t they can’t make like I think about the Baltimore City School Board meets maybe every other week or something like that once a, but like it’s like once a month board meetings, but it’s like committee meetings. But committee meetings during the day! Who is coming to a, I know a lot of brilliant people who cannot take a day off every two weeks to be on any board. They just like don’t have the flexibility or the financial like security or the jobs to do that. But the right doesn’t need it because if I pay you $100,000 to go do whatever, and I put a PAC behind you that has a billion dollars for your political career, you’re set. And like, that’s what I saw when I saw this. I was like, Oh, this is like again, a reminder of what happens with the concentration of extreme wealth on the right. Okay. My news is you know. I’ve obviously spent a lot of time with the police and I’m rarely shocked, which is a speech I feel like I’ve given before. And then I look at this and I’m like, not they lost a woman. So my article is about the NYPD under Eric Adams. I just want to remind everybody that Eric Adams is not a great mayor. And this is about a woman, 60 years old named Deborah Stewart. Now, Deborah Stewart has been missing since April 18th. And you might think, oh, missing because she ran away, got lost, went out to dinner, never came home, got abducted. No, no, no. She’s missing because the NYPD lost her. So her family called the police because she was having a mental health episode and she was being hostile. And they wanted to make sure that she got support. They flagged down some officers and the officers picked her up and they took her to a mental health facility. That is really all we know about where she went. Next thing we know her, she went to New York Presbyterian for evaluation. Next thing we know, her son calls New York Presbyterian the next day. It’s not he doesn’t wait a week. He doesn’t wait two weeks. It’s not he hasn’t forgotten about his mom. He wanted his mom to get help, called the next day and they say she’s no longer at the hospital. He goes, what do you mean she’s no longer at the hospital? They just picked her up yesterday. And they give him the runaround. And the short version is that somebody tells him, Oh, no no they took her to a shelter. Which shelter? They don’t tell him. Is she still there? No clue. He files a missing persons report because now his mom is she is legitimately missing now because she’s not at New York Presbyterian. And here’s the thing is that there’s actually a protocol for the NYPD to follow when this happens. They are supposed to fill out reports. They’re supposed to not leave the person until a doctor actually comes. There’s like a whole Section 221, Dash 13 of the NYPD patrol guide that says that when an emotionally disturbed person is when they take them to the hospital, they are required to wait with the person until they see a psychiatrist. And then they’re supposed to file an [?] report, which must include the name of the treating psychiatrist. They did none of this in this case. She is actually still missing. They do not know what happened to her. And again, the crime is at a historic low in New York City. So the so what the police would have you to believe is that they are so busy doing other stuff that they they weren’t too busy for this. They just didn’t care. And this is a reminder that like when people say call the police, when people say da da da da da da, people do people actually they called the police to try and get support. And the support they got was that their mother is legitimately missing today. And I just wanted to bring that here because I’ve seen a lot of stories and I hadn’t seen this before. And I’m like, goodness gracious, we can do better than this. 

 

Kaya Henderson: It was shocking. Um. DeRay I think you said it exactly right. Like, you’ve seen a lot of things. You’ve heard a lot of crazy stories, but nothing, they just lost the lady and it feels to me like somebody had to go to sleep at night thinking, I wonder if that lady is okay. Like I interacted with her. I wonder if she and to me, what it conveys is a sheer sense of I don’t know what you call this like apathy maybe? That like I dropped the lady off at the hospital, it’s their problem. The hospital people were like, we put her in a lift. Somebody else’s problem. The shelter people were like, uh, she didn’t go back for breakfast and and [?] I mean, the people who her family called the police on her. Right, because she was having a mental health episode. And so you would think that the arresting officers would at least feel like, let us tell the family where she is so they can come get their person. Nope, not at all. And I mean, it is this is why people are afraid to call the police because, you know, there’s some set of us who live in this country. And calling the police means that we’re going to get the help that we need. And there’s another set of us who live in this country, more of us than others who calling the police is a dicey situation. It I mean, literally, we might die. We might lose our loved ones. And this was just a reminder that, you know, you got to think really critically before you figure out, because things like this happen. This was this is horrible. It really is horrible. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Kaya it’s so wild that you said that, because I think that’s where my mind went too and just my time and I’m sure like yours as well in public service. Always like going the extra mile to figure something out for someone, right? Because that was my job. So even when I was an intern for Minneapolis mayor at the time, Sharon Sayles Belton. I would worked in constituency affairs. I don’t even, does New York City have like constituency affairs, like people who are dedicated to just figuring stuff out? I don’t know. I know we have it in D.C. I know obviously it’s in Minneapolis. But I say that all to say it’s like this is the type of situation where you actually need help from a mayor’s office to say, help me navigate this because I’m trying to find my mom. Right. And even in the conversations from the article, like the police oper– officer, he’s talking to is like, oh, you know what? Yeah, I remember your mom’s name. Sir. What? I can’t even imagine somebody being so nonchalant about my mom. Like that is wild. So all that to say, I think. DeRay, yes. Like add the list of grievances for this administration. But I think this is a city that really needs to have a set of people that just help others navigate the city, because there are so many things that can go wrong. There’s so many people, there’s so much um, you know, just so much inequality across so many different um areas. So I don’t know. That’s where my mind went. Like how how can this be fixed? And also, why doesn’t New York have this? 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Boom. 

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out and make sure you rate it wherever you get your podcasts. Whether it’s Apple podcasts or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Evan Sutton. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]