Say Thank You (with Linda Villarosa) | Crooked Media
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August 09, 2022
Pod Save The People
Say Thank You (with Linda Villarosa)

In This Episode

DeRay, Myles, and De’Ara  cover the underreported news of the week— including Republicans sue for rights to discriminate against LGBT+ students, a pipeline for Black aspiring pilots, and the life and legacy of Nichelle Nichols. DeRay interviews author and journalist  Professor Linda Villarosa about her new book Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives & on the Health of Our Nation.

 

News

Myles https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/31/obituaries/nichelle-nichols-dead.html

De’Ara https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/airlines-struggling-shortages-want-recruit-diverse-pilots-hbcu-solutio-rcna40990
DeRay https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/republican-attorneys-general-sue-federal-government-lgbtq-school-meal-rcna40250

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

DeRay Mckesson: Hey, this is DeRay. Welcome to Pod Save The People. On this episode, it’s me, De’Ara, Myles, talking about the news that you don’t know from the past week, the underreported news about race, injustice and identity. And then I sit down with journalist, educator and contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, professor Linda Villarosa. We chat about her book, Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and the Health of Our Nation. I learned so much about health disparities in a way that I just didn’t know. Professor Villarosa was one of the most prolific editors in Essence Magazine history and has uncovered hidden history on all things race in health. Here we go. [music break] My advice is to never forget to say thank you. Say thank you. Say thank you. You don’t lose anything by saying thank you to the people around you. By loving on the people around you. By reminding them that they matter. Say thank you. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save The People. I am De’Ara Balenger, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @dearabalenger 

 

Myles E. Johnson I am Myles E. Johnson, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @pharaohrapture 

 

DeRay Mckesson: It is DeRay @deray on Twitter. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Oh, [sighed] so many things to talk about. I don’t even know where we should start. Um, just doing a roundup of just the things that have happened in the last week. Brittney Griner, for one, was sentenced to ten years in a Russian prison for carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil or whatever kind of oil it was. Um, so that was obviously shocking, depressing, all of the things um still ongoing, the efforts in terms of getting her home and it seems to be getting more and more complicated as time goes on. The other thing that DeRay just hit this too, is, old girl that we reported on that I shouldn’t say, old girl, because she is long time since she was a girl. In fact, when she was a girl. That’s, what she did. Got her into. I guess it didn’t get her into any trouble because she’s still in this community in Kentucky, just living I wouldn’t say her best life, but she is living a life, you know, as opposed to Emmett Till, who is not and hasn’t been for a very long time. My roundabout way of talking about the woman who um it was who we covered it actually a few weeks ago. But she was, they this arrest warrant that was found in the basement, what was it was like the basement of like the police station or something. The warrant was found with her name on it. And um the family of Emmett Till is trying to get the prosecutor in the case to arrest this woman. No one really knew where she was, and now she has been located. DeRay scared us to death with a picture of her. Um, so if you all want to find it, you can go online and do so. 

 

Myles E. Johnson I would like to see her go to jail. And this is hard for me to come to clean. Prison abolition. I believe in it. But why we have why prison is here. I will I like to say– [laughing] I would like to see her experience it. Um, [laughter] And it’s, its just this the Emmett Till story? Like, sometimes this is not the most appropriate way to say this, but sometimes there’s certain stories that that obviously I have not lived like the view that almost get like a tooth fairy Santa classification in my head when it comes to black history like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, these like people kind of seem like figures of like sometimes it’s hard to like grapse that that that that that really happened or um and Emmett Till kind of lives in the same place in my head that like this horror is something that definitely was told to me as a young child, was definitely um taught to me as I was growing up. And it kind of just informed the horror that I like that that I just had about the country that I lived in. And sometimes you forget that it’s a it was it was a real thing that really happened. And the person who was responsible is still alive and they can still go to real jail. So let’s really do it. Tomorrow. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: She don’t look like she gonna last long in any in any situation. 

 

Myles E. Johnson That’s okay. That’s okay. [laughing] Bar to the casket. That’s okay. [laughter] That’s okay.

 

De’Ara Balenger: And this woman’s name is, just so we remember, is Carolyn Bryant Donham. Um, and so and the story is that it she? She is the spouse of one of the men that was actually put on trial. Um, but, of course, nobody was ever convicted um in the Emmett Till case. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: You know. It was some people who found her in a small apartment complex in Kentucky. And it is one of those things where we were taught Emmett Till is like this historical story. But to think that like she’s still alive, that this was not too long ago and the horror of what happened to Emmett Till led to in some ways, the beginning of the civil rights movement. It was his death and the country seeing his death that led to so much protest. And she has largely just gone without any consequence. I guess the hardest thing for her is that she wrote a book where she complained that this has been really hard for her and she sort of knows that she didn’t do right, but that this was really challenging for her. And I don’t know if we talked about it on the pod, but her memoir got leaked like she recorded a memoir to like her granddaughter or something like that. And then somebody sent that to some professors and they wrote about it. But she’s the victim in the story, in her mind, and that is just the wildest thing of all. But I seen those pictures of her and that people have tracked her down was at least a reminder that um this was not too long ago. And what else, you talked about Ahmaud Arbery. So Ahmaud Arbery was killed running, did nothing to nobody. Racist White guys killed him. The three guys that killed him um just got sentenced. And they will have to serve some of these sentences in um in Georgia prisons and McMichaels. So the way it worked out is that McMichaels, who actually killed him, got sentenced to life in prison. And then William Roddie Bryan gets 35 years for federal hate crimes. And uh remember, it was a father and son they were convicted for killing Ahmaud. And then they were sentenced this past week to life in prison, essentially for their federal convictions. But one of them was really nervous about being in a Georgia prison. He was like, if I’m in prison like this, they might kill me, it’s not fair. That its like now you all worried about what’s going on because Black people in those Georgia prisons. He wanted to remain in federal custody and never go to a Georgia prison. And uh and it looks like that’s not going to happen. So they’re already serving life sentences for convictions in state court, but now they have these federal convictions as well. So the federal government did come in, did help bring some accountability. And I actually, for once really loved that the family was like no mercy. The father today gave an interview. He was like, no mercy. I don’t wish any mercy on this man. My son is gone. He deserves the full brunt of whatever accountability looks like. And after so many of these, you see people talk about, I forgive and da da da and I get it. If that’s where you need to be and you’re like to like to move in the world. That makes sense to me, but I actually love that they were like, nope, mm mm not not the story that we’re telling about this. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: You know, the other thing, too, I was going to bring up Breonna Taylor after two years now, the officers that were involved in that. And when I say involved, I mean murdered her. Um, there’s a warrant put out for their, they were arrested. So I think that’s also like a major development, even though it took so long. But I’m sure you have some background on that one, too DeRay. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. And you know, remember that uh Cameron, that Black, the Black attorney general of Kentucky refused to do anything about the killings– 

 

De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: –of Breonna Taylor. Probably the most functional thing from a criminal justice perspective happening out of the Biden team is the Department of Justice. The DOJ civil rights division, they are working overtime. They are holding down everything that’s happening because, you know, Biden wanting to fund 100,000 more cops is not the move. But the civil rights division of the Department of Justice did indict the officers who killed Breonna Taylor. It is it is such a vindication because Cameron said that they couldn’t be charged and du du da da. And now we see that he was wrong and the federal government’s coming in to hold them accountable. So that was good news. And again, shout out to Kristen Clarke, the first Black woman to lead the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. They have been doing a ton. They are suing the NYPD, uh the first federal agent that the first time the DOJ has come in and done some real accountability to the NYPD and a host of other departments, remember that historically the DOJ only has the capacity to intervene in three police departments a year. They have already blown that out of the water under Kristen’s tenure. So shout out to this arrest division of the DOJ. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I mean, major shout out. I just went on their website on just like the Civil Rights Division website. And this is, this is doing it. August 5th, press release, talking about um a former police officer charged with sexually assaulting multiple victims while he was on duty. August 4th, the Texas man sentence on hate crime charges for attacking Asian family um just I mean, it goes on and on and on, like she’s she’s doing the thing. So thank you. Appreciate it. When folks are in government for the right reasons. It’s so difficult to talk about Brittney Griner, obviously more difficult for her friends and family and loved ones, the people who um her teammates, etc.. I just this I think it’s also like to have seen her and to see the remarks that she gave before she was sentenced. It all is just so it’s just heartbreaking. It is just so heartbreaking. And I think just there’s so many unknowns around when she’s going to come home and understanding like how complicated it is to get her out now given all the attention around it and given that Putin is gonna continue to use her as a pawn, it just is like, I just wish all we can do is be hopeful, I guess. But um it’s just a really tough one. 

 

Myles E. Johnson No, it’s pretty terrifying, probably one of the scarier and it’s, as a as an extremely uh numb [laugh] As an extremely numb um like millennial. Like it’s really hard. Like, terrifying the stories. Like yes. The world can get horrendous, but this one is, like, just really, really scary. And ah the only what I’ve heard is that this is kind of like the mo– the flow of emotion that needs to happen in order to get the swap out like she had to be like convicted. And that by this is part of the process. So like what I’m hearing is that people who are litigating for her aren’t pessimistic because of this. They kind of saw it coming. So that makes me happy that she’ll still come home. This does not mean that she will actually be in Russia for ten years serving prison time. But the fact that if they want it to be that if they if they wanted it to be the truth, then it would be that scary. That’s scary. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: It is one of those things too where Russia is definitely just trying to make the U.S. look bad. Is that they they charge her with the crime. They give her the sentence. And then they’re saying, I don’t know if you saw, but they’re like, well, don’t talk, we will do a prisoner swap, but not if it’s public. It’s like, well, you’re the government of Russia. You’ve, any time you say that, it’s like there’s no nonpublic way to do it at this point because all of this is very public, but it is just like a yo-yoing her and using her as a way to to make the country look bad. And you know, what I push people on is that there are people in this country who have sentences as bad or worse than Brittney Griner for having as much or less weed than she had on her at the time. And as we think about what it means that people get kidnapped from community, I remember when I was a young organizer, before I was an organizer, and people would talk about jail as kidnapping, and I would be like, I think that’s a little dramatic. And I’m like, Ooo, that’s right. Kidnapping is the best way. Like the idea of putting somebody in jail for ten years for a gram or two grams of weed is kidnapping. That is that is like the only way to describe the act in community. 

 

Myles E. Johnson Today I am celebrating the fact that we gained an ancestor. That’s, that’s what I’m gonna start saying, because people are not going to stop dying child. So we gained an ancestor, who is Nichelle Nichols. I am such a big fan of Nichelle Nichols. Like a.) I’m just a sci-fi Afrofuturist, just a nerd. She was the first black woman to be on uh Star Trek, you know, then followed in years to come by, like, Whoopi Goldberg. And then also just like birthing what it looks like for a Black woman to be in space of this, other things where I think about like uh June Tyson and Janelle Monáe how like the, that the image of Nichelle Nichols in space did so much and she also starred in um as like the best villain that I’ve ever seen in the blaxploitation movie Truck Turner. Which is like, I’m a exploitation junky from Valley of the Dolls, to uh Foxy Brown and Truck Turner, top tier 1974 blaxploitation. If she is a Black madam, you’ve probably seen some of these like uh some of these scenes go viral and she is bad and it’s so exciting. And I love the fact that I love that Nichelle Nichols in her lifetime has really been able to just just show all that Black women can be and all that Black people can be. And it just something about the the the extremes of uh um of her characters that she’s played just really excites me. Also, one thing that I learned is that she actually helped in recruiting young people to be interested in going to NASA and to joining NASA and being interested in space travel and space study. And I think that is so important. That’s just the topic that’s near dear to my heart if you know me. And yeah, I just I feel like job well done, you know. And I think that’s part of my maturity around death, specifically deaths that are coming from people that I have parasocial relationships with, that never knew I existed, [laugh] is about being honest when a job was well done and they have really served the world through their artistry and their humanity and Nichelle Nichols is just one of those people. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Like, why was why was she? This is like I’m curious why why with her on Star Trek, like you talk about Afrofuturism. Was it the idea that like you could see Black people in the future and that was revolutionary, especially back then? 

 

Myles E. Johnson Yeah, I think it, exactly. I think that that was revolutionary. Revolutionary back then. And then, mind you, we’re talking about an era that was not that many years after Diahann Carroll got her first sitcom. So just Black representation in general was sparse. And then to have it in space is really sparse. And then also and I’m sure you just know that just by being proxy and in just the world of seeing how fandoms happen. Um, Star Trek. Star Wars. The space moment? A White man’s game. Get out of here. You — You know you’re not in it. And so it felt really good. So, yes, that that is why she really infiltrated a space at a time where we weren’t able. We did we didn’t see that. We didn’t see that that representation in general. And then specifically in that space, I think if I were to get a little bit heady about it, I think that the reason why it has lasted, it has affected people for so long is because we’ve seen these like social media annihilation of Black images for so long. And that is just something by even that representation or when we do see representation of us it is, um downtrodden, indoor, enslaved. And I think that her being the image of oh we made it to year 4000, we made it to this technology, show that oh despite the traumas that Black people have gone under, the technology of Black pride, of Black tenacity has actually made it so we fit into this future. And her body and her mind in this Star Trek universe was proof that obviously our Black technology had survived. And I think that that is like the more inherent symbolism and warmness that we all feel in the geek Afro futuristic world towards her too. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Miles, thank you for this. Um, and I’m just kind of doing a little reading up on her and two, two things. So she was encouraged by Martin Luther King to continue to play this role because he believed that she was such a, all the things you just well, you know, you may have had Dr. King on on that articulation you just gave, but he just wanted her to stay in there so she can be a role model for young Black kids. And then the other thing that is hilarious and makes me just love her is that so she was, the kiss between her and William Shatner was the first, believed to be the first interracial kiss on TV. It happened in 1968, and some years later she was on Comedy Central and she was like, you know, I told William Shatner, you know, let’s make some more TV history and you can kiss my black ass. [laughter] 

 

Myles E. Johnson A riot and um [laugh] a riot. And I’d like, and like I said and just like close out with in the conversation, if you’re into films like I am and into those kind of um again 60s 70s exploitation, Barbarella is, all that is just like my bag. Truck Turner is top tier, get a good snack, Black exploitation watching that I feel like a lot of people don’t talk about enough and she eats the role. [laughing]

 

DeRay Mckesson: I got to do some more and I need to I need to do some watching. I feel like I have completely missed and I don’t know. I honestly, you talk about blaxploitation. I’m like, uhh, do I know any? I don’t. I need like the crash course in blaxploitation. 

 

Myles E. Johnson Yeah! I would love, don’t child. So I just downloaded uh Hulu and well not just download I upgraded my Hulu to live TV. So basically Turner Classic movies are on there and there’s this other app that’s called– Should I even be promoting them? This other App called Mubi, which is a really it’s a really good app called Mubi that like has all of like the films, the arthouse films that maybe the films are a little bit more forgotten that are on there, but oh my goodness, so many good things. And really one of the reasons why I think blaxploitation is so important is that, yes, it shows, so a lot of the movies show White people’s gazes on our culture because a lot of those movies were directed by White people, but also a lot of them a lot of them are artifacts of um Black pop culture and Black imagination. And they’re really, really interesting. And I think that in order to create or to connect even some of the things that we’re seeing happen now, so if we’re talking about Beyonce or Megan Thee Stallion or that a lot of the images that we arrive at that are just seen as like black images. They started with Black exploitation. And I think that you’ll be missing a piece of how we arrive at certain images and certain, for for God’s sake, like during little Kim’s uh Lil’ Kim’s rival’s called Foxy Brown. Like that was a huge push of like how we image ourselves in pop culture. And I think seeing that and connecting that will make so much things make sense to people, you know, of how we arrived here. 

 

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

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

De’Ara Balenger: Well, I don’t, I think this article stood out to me just because it is one of my life’s dreams to be on a soul plane. So this article is about an effort to create a pipeline of Black pilots. And so I didn’t even know this, but Florida Memorial University evidently had this program for for for pilots, for for for for grooming and developing pilots. Um, and its, you know, obviously, airlines have been struggling with shortages. And so they’re looking to to this effort um to, you know, to try to fill the gap of those shortages. So Florida Memorial University, which is a historically Black university in Miami Gardens, is is you know, is is putting together this effort to train pilots. We know that less than 2% of commercial airline pilots are Black. And, you know, this is just, the article is also wonderful, too, because it talks about Trumaine Johnson, whose a student. He’s training to become a pilot. Um, and his decision to became become a pilot rather than an air traffic controller was because of, you know, his experience being able to be up in the air, flying a plane. And so I think this was just so fascinating to me because, you know, I just it’s just not something that I readily think about every day. And, you know, obviously, I know there is a pipeline for pilots. There’s a lack of diversity when it comes to pilots. But I think efforts like this are going to be so instrumental in just um continuing to open door for opportunities where there aren’t necessarily historically opportunities, um but also for some of these corporations to understand that they have such phenomenal talent at HBCUs. So yeah, I just wanted to bring this one to the pod because I just, you know, found it fascinating and hope that the this this program continues to grow and expand and, you know, shout out for Florida Memorial University. I hope they get more support to train as many pilots as they can. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: What blew my mind about this is that I, so De’Ara thanks for bringing this, because this is like new to me, is that this was such a reminder of the career paths that are, that have underrepresentation solely because of cost. That and reading about this, they were like, it costs $100,000 to go through the like a a normal program to get the flight hours on staff to be who is doing that? Like and you get a you don’t even get a degree in like a flight school. Then you get like a certificate that you can fly. So that is on top of all. I mean, who who has just a $100,000 like sitting aside to be able to know about. Black people don’t have that. And, you know, I’m hopeful that somebody reads this article and donates a couple more planes to this school so they can get even more flight hours, help the program grow. But I was looking over the historical stats and it’s like it makes sense to me that this is that the career path is like 95% White. For as long as there’s data, if not longer, I mean, if not if not longer than the past a decade or so of data, because I don’t even know what people of color in mass could afford a $100,000 non-degree granting certificate program. That is just, you know, the feeder to that. I don’t even know what that looks like. So this blew my mind and women are super under– I mean, Black people underrepresented and women are super underrepresented that women have hovered around 3% or 4% of the general population again for as long as um as as there is data. And as you can imagine, there is a gender pay gap as well. So men earn about $111,000 and women earn about $102,000 for the exact same role. You’re a pilot. I mean, like the pilots fly planes. So I will say I was on a plane the other day and I had a black pilot and all I wanted to do was dap that man up. It was Covid so I just had to give him a little nod. But I was very proud of him. Um, but to look at that Black people are 1.2% of the pilot population just blew my mind. And who knew that Hispanics/Latinos are 5%? I’m like, fascinated by that. I want to know what they’re doing, what’s their [?] program? Because it’s so expensive. Sorry, Myles. 

 

Myles E. Johnson No, um I was I was kind of just like hanging on to the thought that De’Ara presented, in jest, but, you know. In my head in theory is what about the idea of a soul plane? Because I love I, you know, love that movie, Oscar worthy. But then also, I do think that as we get into the later and later and later states of crumbling capitalism, I like the idea that. I just I just like that. I like the idea with the opportunity for aviation to be in our hands, because sometimes I get kind of scared about like the um quality control. And when I hear about the things that are happening to, like, these, uh these planes. Like a couple of times back to the 747s, were just like, just crashing and stuff like that. Like, I like the idea of Black folks coming together, being educated in this way, and then perhaps going to start our own, like, commercial airline. Like, does that sound ridiculous? Like? 

 

De’Ara Balenger: No, it doesn’t. And if Tiffany Haddish can be the CEO of this airline, [laughter] I would really really want to become a diamond member. 

 

Myles E. Johnson And because I just really think about it. And I think that we all like as as funny as it is when you see it on Twitter or whatever and you see those jokes about Spirit Airline, I’m like, I don’t think that we should go cheap. On planes. And I’m not positive that people aren’t going cheap on on on planes. And that kind of scares me as time goes on and as more people are flying and as more and as, you know, who’s riding planes changes and how who, what is cared for changes. I like the idea of us saying like, you know what, we’re going to keep the quality control. That that’s an exciting idea in my head. And I love that we went from Nichelle Nichols in like in space to like this aviation story that was very smooth. [laugh]

 

De’Ara Balenger: Love that. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: The next essay I’m going to write, Myles, it’s called um, I Don’t Want to Escape. That I think that in in so many ways, the world is a mess and we are like, let’s listen to the album, let’s go to the party, let’s do it. Let’s enjoy it all before it all goes to poop. 

 

Myles E. Johnson Yeah. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And like we’re trying to escape the reality of the world. But like, I don’t want to escape in the sense that I am a little worried, that I think that the people we’re up against are laser focused on trying to take us back to a time that we barely survived. And we are like just I think we’re exhausted, which makes sense to me. So when I read about the 20 Republican attorney generals who are suing the federal government to try and stop the federal government from enforcing a rule that prohibits discrimination in the school meal program from sexual orientation and gender identity? I’m like y’all are just. Why? Why do you? Why do you want to be able to discriminate against the gay kids in the lunch line? You don’t even want. You don’t want gay kids to eat? That is so– 20! When I first read this, I was like, oh, it’s like some random Republican attorney general in some random state being wild. Nope. It’s 20 of them, are suing the USDA and Biden to to say that like they can’t enforce this and that it’s not actual discrimination because it’s gender and identity. And I say all this to say that like the world is crazy and they are working overtime to take back and roll us back. And I worry that we will look up and be like, what happened? Right? Like, you’ll look up after all this stuff has done. Like a lot of people don’t know that uh the free lunch for kids, that bill didn’t get passed in time. So when we go back to school, there are a lot of kids that got free lunch for a long time and you know, that is likely not going to be on the table. And I think about what the government’s, government’s responsibility should be. It’s like we can feed everybody. There is enough food. If we can give another billion dol–. I’m with the people now. If we can give another billion dollars to the Ukraine and another God knows what to the military. The least we can do is give people food. I mean, this is really, these aren’t even demands at this point. Like this is not radical. This is not intense. This isn’t even socialism or communism. This is like the basics of, we should probably feed the people who live in the country and who are here. That is like the basics. And I really worry this this like this idea of suing the federal government around the LGBTQ school lunch guidance is just an example of how far they’re willing to go to make sure that we don’t have rights. 

 

Myles E. Johnson Yeah. And I also wonder how much of those, these moments, right? Uh, how much of it is about actually making the thing happen? Even though I totally understand that often they do end up happening. I totally understand that. But I wonder how much of it is about making the thing happen or waving this kind of like dog whistle that we’re the party that you that you should support to the people who are over this like new world that’s like burgeoning. This new world of like talking about pronouns and um representation and all these other stuff. Like how much is that like this kind of like dog whistles being like, oh, we’re still this old, we’re still in this old America, and look how we’re fighting for you. And I’m wondering, like, how much of it it’s like, do they even actually care what happens or that it gets publicity that it has happened? Um, and the other thing and I’ve heard like people talk about this like that escape piece that you mentioned a lot and I, I find it a little a little odd because I think that. You know, the Black narrative is is constantly um centered around escape, from chattel slavery to right now. And I think that I don’t I think that when it comes to the Black survival eco system, I feel like people forget that escape and imagination and joy is the nutrition that fuels the work and that those things are have to be like uh thrown in together. And I think that so many people get preoccupied where somebody else is on, in their ecosystem. So if I’m experiencing joy and your work is right now in like a more of a struggle place or im– or that places in reverse, we get kind of preoccupied where the person next to us is and not just trusting that it’s kind of in our um social political DNA to know our cycles and to and to move on. And, you know, this might just be the Beyoncé stan of me, but I’m like, I just don’t think a good album is like everybody being like, well, we tried. We gonna put everything down. It’s like, no, it was three years of keeping, keeping it up. And now people are feeding themselves so they can last for another time in kind of like respecting that rhythm. But um interesting story. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And I agree with you about the the general thrust of that. And I’m not even you know, I do think I think Beyoncé is in her own category. So I don’t think we necessarily [laughter] [?] as an escape. But I, I do think that I even find myself like sometimes, sometimes I’m just enjoying things for what they are, but sometimes I’m like, I just got to get out. I’m like, this is it’s too real, it’s too much of the– And I want us to I think the goal is to build a world where we enjoy the things not in the, not in the trying to get out of the mess, but we actually fix the mess. Like there’s not a mess. You know, it’s like we’re not up here worried about the state kidnapping people or killing people or da da da. We’re just, like, joyful and get to do the things and uh and I and I want that to be the world that we, that we build and shout out to Beyoncé just because, you know, we should. 

 

De’Ara Balenger: I think on this one, though, it is just, I mean, the Republicans again, are so good at strategy. And, you know, I don’t know what to call ourselves now. Democrats, liberals, progressives. [sigh] Blah, blah, blah. I think there’s so much focus on the executive and we’re so hard on this administration, but this administration is getting sued every single day by these attorney generals. Like every time they make a move, they’re getting sued. And then we have Congress doing nothing. And, you know, we’re not holding them to the fire as much as we are holding the Biden administration. So I think it’s just it is interesting, DeRay to talk about these lawsuits because they’re they happen all the time. They may not may not get national press, but the administration is constantly being sued. So I think, one, it’s. It’s an interesting thing, just kind of a paradigm shift to think about like if the administration is trying to do all these things, yet they have all these challenges and they only have the executive power, yet we have Congress over here doing who knows what. At what point do we focus on Congress and start trying to hold them a little bit more accountable? Just my two cents. 

 

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

 

[AD BREAK]

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: This week we welcome author and educator Linda Villarosa on the pod to chat about her book, Under the Skin – The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and the Health of Our Nation. Now we know racism affects all aspects of American life. But Professor Villarosa uses her writing to uncover stories at the intersection of health and race that shocked me. We talk about environmental justice, eugenics, mandated anti-racist training for birthing doctors, and a whole lot more. I learned a ton and I read this stuff a lot, so I’m always surprised when I’m still learning these issues. But I learned on this one. I’m happy to share it. Here we go. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Professor Villarosa, thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People. 

 

Linda Villarosa: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: So I have a million questions, learned a ton reading the book, uh and in the article that I think might have just uh came out not long ago about eugenics in The New York Times magazine. A lot to talk about. But first, how did you, what’s your story? How did you get to study this? Did you always? Did you always know you would study race? Did you want to grow up and be a professor or did you, did you read a book one day that changed your life? Like, what was the, what’s your journey? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Oh, my trajectory is I am a journalist turned college professor. Um, my um formative magazine work was at Essence. I was the health editor and then the executive editor. So I was always interested in culture and health. But um once I got to Essence, I became a true race woman and um really dove into my job as the health editor. And my mission, if as it were, was to raise the health status of the Black community. That was my goal. All of us at Essence were trying to do something big like that, and mine was in health. And so I was the health editor for quite a while until I got promoted. And I really worked hard to um write articles and edit articles that would be of service to the Black community of America. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: So we’re going talk about the book, obviously, because you wrote a book and I read it, to be here. But I was fascinated and I learned so much in the long shadow of eugenics in America. Can you talk about how you came across? Like, how did you even? How did you come across the Relf sisters uh to write the piece in The New York Times magazine? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Well, I ran across the Relf sisters almost by accident. And then once you opened that door just on the interweb and you know I was on the internets looking for information for my book and looking for a story about um how people were harmed. I had done um Black people were harmed first during enslavement, which I did for the 1619 project. And then I was looking for what, what were the things that happened to Black folks beyond the Tuskegee syphilis experiment? Um, and I found the Relf sisters, and they were two girls, 12 and 14, who were sterilized in Montgomery, Alabama, without the informed consent of their parents and without anyone’s knowledge, except for the people who did it to them. And um they were at the time in 1973, a cause, you know, an important cause. Um, when I started looking into it, I realized that many of the stories were done by The New York Times. They were you know covered by the Times. They went to a, a um Senate hearing run by Ted Kennedy. And that and they found Julian Bond and the Center for the Southern Poverty Law Center as their lawyers. And so this was a huge case, but it kind of got lost in history. So once I found it, I really latched on to it as an important way to show how people were harmed and how our fertility was stripped away. And not so long ago, 1973 really isn’t that long ago. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And this story is obviously mimicked in the, it’s in the book, too. So if you are, if you want a teaser on the professor’s work, read The New York Times Magazine piece because you will see it in the book. One of the things that I learned so much is what I and what I loved about the book is that you you built up on stuff that I knew. So you, Henrietta Lacks, Tuskegee. And then it went into stuff and I’m like, Oh, I’m like, uh the country been worse than I, you know, I knew it wasn’t good but I’m like, well, goodness, this is worse than I even thought. I would love to know. Like, what surprised you? You’ve written about health disparities and health issues for a long time and putting together this book, were there any stories that you were like, outside the Relf Sisters, or things that you learned that you were even surprised by? You were like, whoa, is this real? Or like, what were those? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Well, I think that when I first started working on the book in 2018, I thought I was going to start, you know, back in time in history at 1850, because that was the time when the census records around health especially became very good. And then when I worked on the 1619 Project, I realized that this throughline went longer and that it was important to talk about what happened to us as Black people during enslavement and how many of the same you know the sort of myths that were and false assumptions about Black– Black inferiority, you know. Inferiority of Black bodies began then and then they went all the way through to today. I think what’s surprising is how entrenched some of the myths are around our supposed superhuman tolerance to pain or poor– lung function or or kidney function that’s different from white folks and other people of color even. And so I think that was what was surprising. These old myths. Were still hanging out in modern medical practice and training and education. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now, something else that really surprised me. I don’t know if you have the book in front of you, but in the fifties, you talk in the pages, like 53 in my notes, like 53, four, five, six. Dr. Schulman’s study blew my mind. I’m like, and they’re out here attacking the man. Can you talk about the Schulman study? I’m calling it the Schulman study just because that’s what I think it was. 

 

Linda Villarosa: Yes. So that’s um Neil Schulman was, is was a youngish scientist at the time that he did this work. And he looked at um four gr– looked at groups of people, Black men, Black women, White men, White women, and asked doctors at a medical conference and sort of all the all the profiles were the same except for the race and gender of the people. So he said, if this patient came to you with this set of symptoms and this even their, you know, their jobs and everything were matched, what would be the you know, what would be the treatment? So white men got a kind of better treatment than the Black people and especially the Black women. Even though everything was matched and um, you know, it wasn’t real, it was sort of it was actors, pictures of actors playing these roles, but still just looking at a photo of someone you know that they got a different kind of treatment based on their race and gender. And you know the Black people obviously got inferior treatment or not as kind of the the the sort of high end treatment. And he was surprised at this. And he was attacked. He was on I think I remember it was on Nightline. He he was on Nightline and he got so attacked and um I found him. He’s at Stanford now, and he is such a lovely– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: You found him! 

 

Linda Villarosa: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Dr. Schulman’s out there, he is and doing well at Stanford. And, you know, I just loved that he he was so surprised when I called him. I said, can you just tell me about this um study that you did so many years back and he was so on fire about it. And just really, you know, sometimes when I find these stories, I really like how it changed the person that you know did the study, you know, that changed him. It really made him a bit more sort of politically active, I guess you would say, or socially social justice oriented. And he’s a scientist. But I really like that study because it shows it’s just point blank by looking by someone’s race and gender, it changed their treatment that um doctors gave them. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now, the other thing that I, you know, we’ve all heard comments– not I mean, you’ve heard more than us because this is your actual work. But me, as somebody who does not talk about health all day, I talk about the police more of my days. Um, I heard about issues around Black maternal well-being. But you talk about the low birth weight um study that happened, blew my mind and the impact of mothers experiencing racism leading to low birth rates. So I want to unpack that. And you bring in your own experiences being pregnant, what that means and then trying to think about like, is there a fix to that? So like I read this and it’s like, can we help? Is there like what do we do to combat those things so that Black women don’t have an overrepresentation of low birth weight, no fault of their own, but because we live in a racist society that is impacting their health. 

 

Linda Villarosa: Well, I think that surprised me as well. So I just I first heard statistics about maternal mortality, morbidity. So that’s the death of a person because of pregnancy and childbirth or the near death. And so in the United States, we’re the only country where the number of people who die or almost die associated with pregnancy and childbirth is on the rise. The only wealthy country. We’re the country where Black women are three to four times more likely to die or almost die. And then the stat that really um was confusing and horrifying was that even if you’re a Black woman with a master’s degree or more, you’re more likely to have some kind of birth, serious birthing problem, including death, than a White woman with an eighth grade education. The assumption before that had been with low birth weight and preterm birth are can be precursors to either infant or matern– maternal mortality. So the assumption was, well, if you just do everything right and you’re educated, um then you will not have these problems with infant and maternal mortality. So it was pretty shocking to see. Wait a minute, education is not protective. In the story that I did in 2018 and in the book, I attribute it to three reasons. One is that something about the lived experience being a Black person, particularly a Black woman in America, is bad for the body and can be bad for birthing and childbirth, too. And it’s something about what happens to you associated with discrimination. That’s, that’s hard to understand. The second is our experience in the medical system. And it’s very well evidenced is, an unequal so that we often have a worse time in the health care system related to race. And then the third thing is we simply live in communities through no fault of our own that are less healthful. So we have less access to healthy food, less, less access to clean air and water, less access to a place outside to exercise, that sort of thing. Lower education, worse health care facilities. So that’s the threefold reason for health outcomes in general, but it feels most stark when you’re looking at birth. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Are there places, now that this conversation has become, you know, Serena Williams like people are like, well, Serena is struggling in the hospital. Then, you know, your cousin Sheena has to be struggling because. Serena. Serena Williams. Right. Are there places that are doing this better now that we know that the data is more public and less sort of like hidden in the realm of the medical journals? Or is it still just like uh it’s just bad? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Well, I think I, I offered two examples in the book, and I really want to uphold them because I don’t want to just throw shade on a place and then say, okay, then that’s the end. I’m a journalist. I’m parachuting in and parachuting out. So I looked at the state of California and in 2006 through 2013, they had the same statistics as the country had. So the number of birthing people who um had poor birth outcomes was on the rise. And Black women were also three to four times more likely to die or almost die. So what they did is they put all hands on deck and looked at the hospital level to say, how can we do better? And before that, most hospitals did not have a specific protocol for when there was a birth emergency. So in other words, if you’re hemorrhaging you know in labor, there wasn’t a specific set of protocols or even tools all put together to address the emergency. So what the hospitals did is they came up with protocols for something like an emergency C-section for hemorrhaging, which is super common among these kinds of poor birth health outcomes. All right. So then they do this for 2006 to 2013 and these hospitals really do better with their clinical sort of innovations. And it worked because the number of um people who died related to childbirth or almost died related to childbirth and pregnancy dropped 55%. But what did not change was– 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Whoa! 

 

Linda Villarosa: 55% is huge. But the racial health disparities stayed the same. And most of the benefits happened with white women and to an extent, Latinx women. So California saw the error of their ways and said, we can’t just doctor our way out of this situation. And so they demanded a few years ago, I mean, like mandated by law, that anyone who works with a pregnant or birthing person must go through some kind of anti-racism, anti-bias training. Then they did even better. This is the whole state. Then they mandated that all continuing medical education had to include some kind of anti-racism, anti-bias training. It’s interesting to see if it worked. It’s so new that it hasn’t really been studied that well. But I think it’s some place to watch because they tried to say, well, we thought we could just use technical or innovations to to heal this problem, but it needs to be more. And race, racism and discrimination has to be attacked directly. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now, moving on to another topic. Um, you write about Bullard and the environmental environmental justice in the landfills and stuff. And what’s so cool to me about I didn’t know this story before you included in the book, is you know, I deal with some activists today who like are so used to Google and da da da. In this, he he had no internet, no nothing. It was out there being like now y’all know y’all are building the landfills by all the Black people, even though it’s not a lot of Black people. How did you? Does everybody just know Bullard and I didn’t know Bullard cause I don’t do pollution work? Or like how why was this an important story to include? Obviously, he becomes a huge deal in the space. Uh, but can you talk about Bullard’s significance and why you included him? 

 

Linda Villarosa: So Robert Bullard has been grinding for so long in this and he has like 20 books. And I saw him at a conference and I said to him, Dr. Bullard, I was looking at your books and they’re kind of similar. They have different titles, but they’re, and and he said and I said, are you just writing like a book? And then you tweak it and then you write another book and then you tweak it. And he said he started laughing because he said, well, thank you for noticing. And what I took from that is this man has been working so hard to just try to prove the point that Black communities are much more likely to be polluted. To be you know ha- be near a landfall, be near a refinery, being near some kind of other environmental problem. And he’s been trying to prove this forever. And I love that you talked about how he started so long ago. He used to take it. He’s from he’s in, he was in Texas. And he would take his students out and he walked them around. And Texas is in this part is flat. And he would say wherever you see a hill that is some kind of landfill. It, and they were all like in the Black community. And so he was going out just eyeballing. Teaching these students to be environmental justice warriors in the next generation. I found him um. He was he, he is kind of underground, but I’m a nerd. And I found him when I was reporting years ago um at Essence on Environmental Justice. And I interviewed him because I had met him at one of the first environmental justice conferences that was Black led. It was like in the nineties, I think, late eighties. And I met him and then I see that here he is creating these books, still doing the work. And he’s the father of environmental justice and he is you know an older gentleman. I was looking at him thinking he’s soon going to be the grandfather of this movement because he’s been doing it for so long. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: That’s cool. It is um. I learned a lot in that. I mean, the whole book I’m like whoo, I don’t even know what to ask the professor because I, now let me tell you the chapter. So I’m on 119. I’m looking at my notes on 119. But the, this chapter is called, This is the Break Your Heart chapter, everybody. Chapter six. I mean, the whole book is just the America really sticking it to Black people. 2009 study found that Black teens are 50% more likely to binge and purge and receive treatment less frequently. A 2020 review of 38 previous studies again corrected the false assumption that Black women are immune to eating disorders and added that research for eating disorders has focused on White women with Black people underrepresented in clinical trials. Now, first off, I had never even known that there was a myth out there that Black people were, Black women were immune to eating disorders, like I didn’t I never heard that um so I’m annoyed by the way that we just erased the Black people. But can you talk about how you even knew to include this focus on eating disorder? Like how did why was this important to put in? I’m happy you put it in. I learned a lot in this chapter um because it was invisible. Like this conversation was invisible to me, and um I’ll just stop there. But I would love to know, like, how you got here. 

 

Linda Villarosa: I um, first at Essence magazine. I found, those statistics aren’t even that fresh. Um, they’ve been updated. But even back in the day when I was still at Essence in the mid-nineties, there was a problem of eating disorders being invisible among Black women. And there was this assumption that we didn’t have you know we didn’t have anorexia because we were overeating, and then we didn’t have bulimia because that just wasn’t a Black thing. And then but the statistics weren’t lining up with that. It was just this invisible part. And part of the reason I um included it is because of the person that I center. The narrative is about a woman who went to the same college as me. So she grew up in Colorado as I did, and you know we were like, me she was the only Black person basically at her school and um she was really trying to fit in among the you know the White kids. And she was exercising, she was on the swim team. She lost a ton of weight and no one noticed. They just um said, Oh, good for you. You look great. When she was getting thinner and thinner and almost wasting away, that woman’s story um in the book also moves into, she moved. She went to the University of Colorado and then she moved to L.A. And she was a, she is a stylist, a kind of you know a high end stylist, again, working in an all White world, feeling like her business was always right on the edge. So she was killing herself working, working, working, and ignoring a growing realization around mental illness that she had been dealing with, you know, in the form of an eating disorder, in the form of sort of a bipolar and other issues that she was masking with alcohol. So this woman was kind of, you know, like an emotional trainwreck. And until she um attempted suicide, and that’s when she sort of healed herself. But what was what was what struck me was how much she was hard striving, how much she was trying to survive in a White world where nothing about her fit in, including her actual body. And um it kind of broke my heart, but it did also echo back to those other studies on eating disorders and Black women that I had seen and had gotten so little coverage. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And you talk about the historical distrust that people have with the medical system and just frankly, lack of resources. Like I remember growing up and it was like, you know, we only went to the doctor if we got hurt and the [?] was showing, you know, it was like you really had to be, like hurt to go to the doctor. It wasn’t like a we just couldn’t afford anything else. Do you think this is getting better? Like now that there’s, like, a newfound awareness on therapy? And how we should be talking about our emotions. And, you know, you even talk about Black boys and and the suicide attempts of Black children. Do you, is it not getting better? But we are now talking about it more. Is it getting better? Because we’re talking about it more? Like what’s your, do you have a sense of where we are? 

 

Linda Villarosa: I think that the underlying message of my book is, first, we’ve known about racial health disparities, whether we’re talking about birth, emotional and mental health, the environment, asthma related to pollution, all of these things, but we blame Black people. So we say either something’s wrong with your body and you’re inferior, and that, these are myths left over from enslavement, or something’s wrong with you and your culture. So you’re doing something wrong. You’re not educating. You don’t know how to take care of yourself. You don’t go to the doctor just because you’re you just don’t you know, you don’t go because you don’t know you’re supposed to. Rather than to look at the structural forces that keep people out of the system. One of the structural forces is not trusting the system. One reason not to trust the system isn’t because you’re paranoid. It’s because it’s real. I um cite The Unequal Justice, which is a 2002 report by the National Academy of Science that found 483 studies that talked about how we’re missed out as black people and to some extent other people of color are mistreated in the health care system. And if you look I mean, that’s a pile up of studies, 483. I took one of them and just read it from start to finish. And it was about um leg amputation as a result of diabetes. So this study looked at um groups of people, Black and White people. They had equal levels of severity of diabetes and equal levels of health insurance coverage. Yet Black people were more likely to have their legs cut– amputated even though things were equal. So if you talk about to people and you say, why don’t you go to the doctor? Um, are you what, what? Why? You should just go. There is a healthy distrust that we have, not because of the Tuskegee experiment, not necessarily that’s part of it, but also because of what happened to you yesterday in the doctor’s office. What happened to someone you love? Your mom, your sister, your dad, your uncle? So we have a healthy distrust. So at some point, it’s not up to us to do things better. It’s up to us or people like me to point a finger at the health care system and at our society and say, do better, do better. This isn’t us. This is what, you know, the effect of living in America and the institutions of America, including the medical system. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Oh, um another thing that blew my mind is I don’t think I’ve ever read this much about West Virginia in my entire life. I was like, Whooo is this is a lot of West Virginia. I don’t know anything about West Virginia. Can you talk about um why why West Virginia and why was it important to tell this story about West Virginia in this conver–, this larger conversation about race and health? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Well, part of it is because I really spent a lot of time in the book talking about the concept of weathering. So weathering is the um concept that the lived experience of being Black in America is bad for your health because of the constant um battling back discrimination, creates a kind of premature aging. So every time something some racist incident happens to you, whether it’s a microaggression or the more hardcore macro aggression. Your body changes so your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up. You get an infusion of stress hormones, which on the you know here and there is fine, it’s healthy, but it happens to you over and over and over again. It creates a kind of kind of premature aging that gets that makes um health outcomes, including birth outcomes, worse. So that’s the theory of weathering, the same way a storm weathers a house, it breaks the windows, it knocks off the shingles, it chips the paint. Um, that’s what happens to our bodies by living in America. But the flip side of weathering, as we weather that storm, we’re still here. The house is still there, even if the paint’s chipped. Um, and that’s through our communities, our kinship, our activism, and our love. So weathering. So I asked Dr. Arline Geronimus who coined the term and taught me the concept. I said, Well, is weathering just something that happens to Black people? And she said, No. Weathering can happen to anyone who’s treated poorly. It’s just that Black people have been treated poorly for so long and we’ve studied it better and we know it happens. So I wanted, I thought about that and I thought, well, okay, I’m going to go to West Virginia okay in the middle of the pandemic I went. I had never even been there. I drove my car there and I said, certainly people in the state of West Virginia, which is like 94% white, have been treated badly. They got an infusion of um opioid pills into there by pharmaceutical companies. They became addicted. They pulled the pills back. Then the people got addicted to heroin just because they had to you know keep the high going because they were addicted thanks to the pharmaceutical companies. Then they started. So then they needed they were having HIV outbreaks that looked like the late eighties or something. So I was very curious to see. And then they were taking away the syringe exchange program. So that means they were having, you know, getting HIV. It was spreading like, you know, something that is of a bygone era. So I said, I’m going get in my car. I’m going to go and see what this is like. And it was interesting because I realized as soon as I got there, all the people that I met that were sort of at I went to some drug uh facilities. I went to a syringe exchange. Every one, all these White folks looked so old. And I would ask people their age, I’d be like, oh, you know, I was talking to this guy, and I’m like, Oh, how old are you? And I’m thinking, 70 in my head. And he’s like, 50. And so I realize these people are treated badly. They look weathered too. This is what weathering does. If you treat people badly, you take away their agency. And certainly in the state overall, what happened with the coal industry is they have these jobs in coal industry which are not, you know, the best jobs ever, but at least they existed. Then the coal jobs dried up. So the people are poor, they’re addicted to drugs, um opioids, and now they’re addicted to heroin. And I thought that’s worse treatment. So no wonder these folks look weathered. And I interviewed them and I heard their stories. And the funny part was my friends were like, You should not go there. Are you crazy? What are you doing? Going in the middle of West Virginia? 

 

DeRay Mckesson: That’s me. 

 

Linda Villarosa: Yeah, [laugh] but I went. I actually did not have a big problem. I talked to people. I tried to be respectful, but it was you know it was hard seeing any human being um you know in that in those circumstances. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: There are a couple of questions that I ask everybody. Um, so I ask you is there are a lot of people who feel like they’ve done all the things they were supposed to do. They email, they voted. They stood in the street. They call, they texted, they read your book, they read my book, and they still feel like the world is not getting better. What do you say to those people? 

 

Linda Villarosa: What I say to them is a lot of my work involves you know I have narratives of people and often I find those narratives through the work of someone like a community health worker, a patient navigator, an activist in some cases. And I see these and also the researchers like Dr. Bullard, he’s stuck with this for 30 books. This is through years and years since the eighties. He’s been doing this work. And so there are people who are, you know I call them, heroes and heroines who are doing the work and continuing to do the work. And I see the best activism as intergenerational. So I think a lot of times when you’re cranky and complaining and you’ve done all everything and you’re like, I’m just gonna leave it to the young people. That’s the world they’re inheriting. And I’m like, No, we have to stick together. In my family, my mother is 91, my children are in their twenties and I’m right in the middle. And we have these crazy intergenerational conversations where we talk about activism. My children are very attached to their grandmother and they’re learning from her and my grandmother. My mother keeps young by listening to her grandchildren and staying active and she’s like, just, vote. My children are like, Abolish the system. And I’m kind of like ahh in the middle. But I think we all have to do the work and not give up and not get tired. That’s what our job is here as engaged citizens. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: And the last question is uh, what’s a piece of advice that you’ve gotten over the years that you’ll never forget? 

 

Linda Villarosa: I think my mother always um you know, my mom is a quirky kind of person. And sometimes her advice is like, wait, what did you say? And um I think her advice is about giving and taking. And so when I as a journalist, it’s really helpful. So when I go into a place I um certainly take and by taking for me means learning. I learned something from the place. I learn about the place in its entirety, not just go in and dive in and do some interviews and get some quotes, but really learn about the place, learn about the history, learn about the geography, look at the landscape. Look at where the people live. Go to the grocery store. And I really appreciate that. And then I also try to give I stay in touch with the people that I’ve interviewed. I don’t just you know say, hey, thank you for talking to me. And now, you know, I’m changing my phone number. And I so that give and take is really important to me. I think it’s helped me learn. It’s also helped me learn um and change my thinking. By learning really from going to places, real people and really learning by being there. And I think it’s also important you know I guess you only asked me for one thing, but my second thing is really to be open to changing. I mean, I changed from believing that, you know, like as a young Essence editor, that all you had to do was give people tools without looking carefully at the structures and the barriers to people’s health. And I think I’ve changed now. I don’t believe that anymore. I think certainly everyone should take care of their health and be healthy and do things right. But also you have to question the system and not blame ourselves for the things that happened to us as Black people in this country. 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Can you remind everybody of the name of the book, where they can get it. And how do we stay in touch with you? Is it, do we follow you on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook? What’s the what? 

 

Linda Villarosa: Um, My book is Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation. You can get it anywhere books are sold, but it’s always best to buy it from an independent bookstore. Um, so we as the daughter of an independent bookseller, we really appreciate that. Um, you can follow me on Twitter if you want to see a very little action, um but I’m much more active on Facebook and Instagram where I post pictures of myself and my family and anything that I’m up to. I also have a website and it’s just LindaVillarosa.com 

 

DeRay Mckesson: Boom, well we consider you a friend of the pod. Can’t wait to have you back and thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today on the pod, but also the incredible book. 

 

Linda Villarosa: Thank you. I appreciate you. I appreciate your close reading and all that you do. [music break]

 

DeRay Mckesson: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save The People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. And we will see you next week. Pod Save The People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by A.J. Moultrie and mixed by Veronica Simonetti and executive produced by me. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger and Myles Johnson.