In This Episode
For the season 3 premiere of Pod Save the People, DeRay, Brittany, Clint and Sam discuss the overlooked news, including a review of the Facebook accounts of thousands of police officers, murders of Black transgender women, houselessness in Los Angeles, and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Trevor Noah joins DeRay to talk what he has learned as host of The Daily Show, the 2020 president election, and making his book into a film.’
DeRay: Hey, this is DeRay. Welcome to Pod Save the People. I’m excited because this is our season three premiere and like usual we have me Brittany, Clint, and Sam on the news; then I’m joined by Trevor Noah; not only is he the host of The Daily Show but he’s also a producer, comedian, and author.
Trevor Noah: I’m going to try to make sure that every conversation I’m a part of on The Daily Show or in my life, is something that people should actually be aware of, before they vote. I think nuance is something that is in short supply and I think we always need to engage in that.
DeRay: Before we get started the message for this week is that I was a camp counselor this weekend for middle schoolers. I used to teach sixth grade; 6th grade is by far the best grade in all of the grades to teach. This is 6th through 8th grade and one of the things that we had to do for the camp counselor training is that we had to do the ropes course that the middle schoolers would be doing a couple days later and I’m afraid of heights. So there’s this thing on the ropes course called the leap of faith. It’s 50-foot pole you climb up the pole and then there’s a ring in the air and you jump off the pole to the ring. [00:01:00] So, you know, I’m like there’s no way that I can be a cheerleader for the campers coming if I like haven’t done it myself. So I gotta do at least a couple other things on the rope course so I can legitimately amp them up and be like “you can do it! You can do it!” So I get to the top and you have to stand on this poll and the poll is like a piece of wood and it is wobbly and I’ll never forget the people are like DeRay, you know, if you just breathe it’ll be less wobbly and I was like, you know, I was doing all the breathing and I could and I felt like this little poll was going to fall over so, it wasn’t little because it’s 50 feet in the air, but it got me so I stand up there, I’m wobbling, and I jump I grab the ring I do it. I don’t fall because you can’t fall on the ropes course and it was this moment of being like, you know, I think, in life so often were waiting for things to be less wobbly. We’re trying to figure out like how to make things stand still – how to make the wobble go away – as opposed to being like, sometimes you just gotta trust the jump that like it is not going to get any less wobbly.
It’s gonna shake, it’s gonna wobble and like you do it anyway. And that’s my word for this week. So when the young people finally came and like they got on [00:02:00] that thing; they were like freaked out because it was wobbling and I could just say to them like it’s not going to stop wobbling. It’s not. Just jump. It’s not going to stop wobbling. Just jump. Let’s go.
Brittany: Hey y’all. It’s the news. This is Brittany Packnett at MsPackYetti on all social media.
Sam : And this is Sam Sinyangwe at Samswey on Twitter.
Clint: And this is Clint Smith at Clint Smith the third.
DeRay: And this is DeRay at DeRay on Twitter.
Brittany: So I asked a question of my white followers on Instagram this past weekend if they have seen a really important film on Netflix. It is a film in four parts called “When They See Us,” directed and written by Ava Duvernay, about the Central Park – now exonerated – Five. Part of the reason why I’ve been asking white people in my life and who follow me if they have seen it and if they have encouraged other white people to have seen it, is because justice work requires a level of proximity for all of us. Definitely watch it at the pace that you need to watch it at; [00:03:00] watch it with other people talk about it, process it, take your time with it, but most certainly do not look away. Especially if you are not of the populations that experience this kind of systemic oppression at large.
Sam : Yeah. It was an incredible incredible series.
Clint: You know Ava has done remarkable work for so long now and continues to both in film and television, behind the scenes in terms of changing the dynamics and the culture of Hollywood and sort of expectations around who has the opportunity to be directors, who has the opportunity to be behind the camera who has the opportunity to be in front of the camera. For someone who has done such remarkable work, I got to say that this is the most incredible thing that she’s done at least on camera and I have not seen a piece of art in this medium that has depicted the various dynamics of the criminal legal system with as much humanity, with as much [00:04:00] nuance, with as much intentionality, as this show does.
Sam : Yeah, I mean it – the film – depicts each stage of sort of the Criminal Justice System starting with the police right and how they framed these kids, how they profiled and then beat up and then coerce these kids and then you see what happens in the courts and the district attorney in the role of district attorney plays. You see the media, the role that the media plays in shaping the narrative even have the role that high-profile folks like Trump played in the situation, inflaming tensions calling for folks executions. And then you also see what happens in the context of jail and prison, how those systems have grind people down. And then finally you see what happens upon release and re-entry and in the barriers that folks face. Particularly in this case, because you’ll remember that folks not only had a criminal record, but also were considered sex offenders and that’s sort of an additional layer of [00:05:00] the system that often doesn’t get talked about as much and is sort of a more challenging topic, but it’s an extra layer of barriers to employment to building relationships with people upon re-entry. So you sort of see all of these things play out in the context of this one case and it’s incredible to see how Ava sort of unpacked this one case to shine a light on so many different aspects of what’s messed up about the system and what needs to change.
DeRay: When I think about when they see us, you know, I haven’t gotten all the way through it and for some people hits too close to home. Watch it slowly, Ava has already talked about watch it at your own pace and I want to shout eleva for making sure they were grief counselors on set so that while the actors are dealing with the subject matter that, if they were triggered that they had someone to help them process. The last thing I want to say is I remember that the takeaway from “When They See Us” is not about swapping out the people. We want to make sure system works whether the people are good or bad a strong system means a prosecutor who is not a good person can’t get in there and just wreak havoc with no check. What this was a reminder of is a system that failed these young people [00:06:00] all along at every step of the way. There were police or prosecutors. There were lawyers. They were judges. They were a whole set of people who allowed these young people to be failed and that is about a system that’s broken. So we think about solutions, if anybody’s telling you that “if you just had a good prosecutor,” no, it’s not about one good prosecutor. It’s about a good system. It’s not about two good police officers or three good judges. It’s about one good system; that has checks and balances built in, that has oversight from community, that has mechanisms that don’t even allow people to get charged with crimes in the first place because they aren’t crimes. It should be a crime to spit on the sidewalk. Like it was Minneapolis. It shouldn’t be allowed in Oregon for an officer to use deadly force against somebody engaging in escape in the first degree. That is real. Escape in the first degree is just running like these shouldn’t even be crimes. These shouldn’t be laws on the books like we want to make sure a system is just it’s not about good or bad people.
Brittany: But I also found really really valuable about this particular film is that there have been documentaries about the Central Park Five before there have [00:07:00] been in depth long-term news pieces and none of them really covered Korey Wise’s sister and that actually brings me to my piece of news. Korey Wise’s sister was named Marci Wise. She was a trans woman and she was killed while Cory was in jail. Ava Duvernay chose to really highlight this story in the fourth part of the film and not to ignore it. And that was something that the Wise family really appreciated because previous reports that kind of erased Marci’s story, but it is a really compelling story when you think about all of the different systems and ills and issues that came into confluence not just in the five of their lives, but in Korey’s life in particular, and that’s what that fourth episode really focuses on and the life and unfortunately death of Marci Wise is incredibly relevant given that we see a number of trans women, trans women of color, black Trans women in particular, dying every single year at the hands of homicidal violence. Just in the last week alone [00:08:00] 26 year old Chynal Lindsay’s body was recovered from White Rock Lake in northeastern Dallas and weeks before that 23 year old Malaysia Booker was shot and killed on May 18th. This continues and unfortunate trope and pattern of black Trans women across this country being the victims of homicidal violence. What we know is that in 2018, 26 transgender people suffered violent deaths across this country. The majority of them were black Trans women. So far in 2019 alone seven transgender people have been killed violently all of the victims in 2019 thus far have been black Trans women. We also know that even among the transgender population, which already has to deal with a heightened level of oppression that black Trans people deal with even more. They report higher levels of poverty. They report higher levels of housing insecurity. They report higher levels of violence and vulnerability according to multiple surveys. A friend of mine, a friend of the [00:09:00] Pod David John’s who runs the national black Justice Coalition told Time Magazine what it is like to be a black LGBTQ person and a black Trans person in particular. He said we don’t come out. He said we don’t move to quote gayborhood. We live in communities with other black people where we’re fighting for basic access to resources. So again, we see the difficulties of intersectional oppression here when you’re dealing with Blackness when you’re dealing with trans identity when you’re dealing with poverty and so many of the other issues that are facing and I wanted to lift these names up on this podcast and I wanted to talk about the challenges that black Trans Woman face all the time and that transgender people face more broadly because often we can allow these things to be erased. But in Ava’s honor and Marci Wise’s honor and Korey Wise’s honor; I wanted to say these names today and lift them up and have that conversation.
Clint: One of the things that I learned from this article that I thought was also really important to bring up is that the James Byrd Jr. Hate crimes act which protects people from hate crimes motivated by race religion [00:10:00] disability sexual orientation does not include gender identity. And you know, I was reading about the effort to pass legislation in Texas that includes. The gender identity of someone as someone who is protected by hate crime legislation and it is failed to even get out of committee time and time and time again, and that feels really concerning and something that I wasn’t even really aware of. I think I had assumed that trans men and women would be included under the protection of such legislation, but they’re not and so I think that that’s something that needs to be addressed very quickly and I just wanted to also bring up these statistics that I found that they were also really concerning. So according to this report done by the southerners on the new ground and the transgender Law Center – the southerners on the new ground is an LGBTQ advocacy organization – they found that 47 percent of transgender people living in the Thirteen Southern States surveyed reported high levels of Violence by strangers during their daily lives. Nearly 60 percent of [00:11:00] transgender women said that they had been harassed or abused by a stranger. Fifty-two percent of transgender people of color reported that they had faced harassment or abuse from police officers and forty percent reported that a medical provider had verbally or physically mistreated them due to their gender identity. And so that’s important too and I think your news is so important because so often the issues of transgender people can almost be caricatured are put into this narrow frame of like, oh the bathroom Bill and talked about through a very narrow lens that doesn’t actually capture the totality of their experience and the totality of the violence both big and small that this community experiences. And I think it’s really important for us to be cognizant of the way that this community has to navigate their daily lives in the face of such daily harassment and sexual abuse physical abuse and abuse from those who should be protecting you and who should be caring for you.
Sam : A great resource to learn more about this is the 2015 US transgender survey which is the largest survey of the transgender population [00:12:00] in the United States: 27,000 respondents. And in this survey you see on almost every indicator not only are transgender people in general fairing worse in terms of the outcomes on those indicators reflecting some of the structural and systemic hardships and oppression faced by the transgender population, but you all sleep with black Trans women in particular that the statistics tend to be worse with regard to Black trans women. So for example, 38 percent of black Trans people surveyed in this U.S. Transgender survey reported living in poverty compared to 29% of the transgender population in general and 12 percent of the u.s. Population overall. Fifty-one percent of black Trans women reported having experienced homelessness at some point in their life. You also see disparities and police treatment and everything from housing to employment. So this is indeed a crisis and I think that the murder rate right black Trans women who are being murdered almost, you know, almost exclusively by trans women when you look at the statistics that is like the most egregious [00:13:00] and concerning of all of what we’ve heard, but it reflects of a broader deep inequity facing a particularly black Trans women. Overall in this country and I’m hopeful that that conversation in particular can be lifted up more particularly as we talk about you know, now we’re seeing proposals for the 2020 election from various candidates to address a range of issues, but I’m curious to know sort of what’s really going to be done. Who’s going to lead on the issue of not only calling out but proposing a plan to address this crisis directly and to call it what it is head on because this is a situation that is completely unacceptable and that needs to be talked about more.
DeRay: You know what? I think about this. It’s a reminder. That one is enough. One is enough for us to start asking questions one is enough for us to start putting in systems. So that things never happen again, too often with people from marginalized communities, like LGBTQ, certainly poor people. It requires things to reach an epidemic level for there to be any sense of response that often one two are seen [00:14:00] as being the results of personal choice is not the result of contextual factors and I’m always reminded that one is enough. One black Trans woman killed is enough for us to start asking questions and for us to start thinking about how we do things at scale to make sure that no more black Trans women are killed. One family that’s homeless is enough for us to start asking questions about how did this happen especially, you know, the outcomes are disparate in so many ways and my organizing reminder that comes up with this piece of news, Britney, is about one one is enough to start asking questions. And in dominant culture one is always enough it’s like one instance happens and we rewrite the whole sets of laws, one kid goes missing from a wealthy community and we are reforming the whole way we deal with missing children, but it’s with people from marginalized communities. That one is Never Enough and my message to myself and to everybody is a reminder that one is enough and we know that they’re already been non black Trans woman killed this year. That’s a problem. That’s an epidemic. You didn’t have to get to nine for people to start to take this seriously for people to start to [00:15:00] investigate for people to start to ask questions and to do things that change other people’s behaviors. So that black Trans women aren’t being killed.
Brittany: I’ll just end by saying during the course of this conversation I have come to learn that there has been a tenth black Trans woman killed this year on June 7th Layleen Xtravaganza who is afro-latinx was found dead in her cell on Rikers Island. I wanted to lift up her name as well. There’s not been a cause of death shared, but I know a couple of things I know one Rikers Island should be closed. I know two that black Trans women deserve their dignity and their humanity and three that to your point DeRay enough has got to be enough.
Sam : So my news is focused on a new project that just came out called the Plainview project and this is an extensive study on the social media accounts of police officers. It’s the first such study done at this scale and what they did was they took the full roster of every police officer [00:16:00] working in eight police departments and these include major police departments like Philadelphia Police Department, St. Louis, and others across the country; what they found when they identified those officers Facebook accounts, so they found 2900 officers who are currently employed at one of those departments as well as 600 retired police officers from those departments. So those are the accounts they found when they look through those accounts they found a deeply troubling degree of hate content whether that is racist content racist posts that were shared about Muslims about black people and Mexicans women people celebrating the Confederate flag celebrations of police violence one in five officers accounts that they look through actually contained post displaying some sort of bias and two in five of the retired officers accounts had such posts one in five of the current officers accounts had biased posts. And you know, what’s particularly striking about this is that this is all out in the open. Right? Most of these are [00:17:00] currently employed officers sharing this regularly completely, you know without any sort of hesitation or fear or you know restraint and in taking a deep dive into some of these departments which you see is that you know, for example in Philadelphia Police Department, there were hundreds of officers they were able to identify as sharing bias posts or creating bias content themselves including folks in leadership in the department. Now, all of this data has been shared with the sort of internal affairs Departments of those agencies and you know, some of those agencies, like in Phoenix, have said that they’re opening investigations into it. Although we have yet to see officers being held accountable for this but I just wanted to share this because often times we talk about policing and police violence and this is sort of such an obvious example of being able to just by searching through officers Facebook profiles and Facebook accounts being able to identify officers who are clearly displaying bias clearly [00:18:00] racist clearly islamophobic and it’s all out there in the open. And so now we’ll see sort of how the system reacts to this and how organizers and policy makers in those places hopefully will begin moving to hold those officers accountable.
Clint: I think we’ve said this before but it’s important to say like as horrific as these examples are as like whether it be these Facebook post whether it be some of the videos that you see from Now This that go viral of police using slurs against black folk, whether it be police officers planting evidence to frame different individuals to make it seem as if they committed a crime all these are very obviously egregious but also it’s important to remember that that is one end of the spectrum and that there are millions and millions of ways for people’s biases and prejudices and ideologies to shape outcomes that are not as explicit as this and that these are helpful because they may clear things that we already knew but it’s also important for us not to lose sight of the fact that so much of what [00:19:00] shapes the outcomes in the criminal justice system is not necessarily coming from someone who might post something like this on Facebook, but it can often be something much more subtle that is equally as damaging to the people on the receiving end of it.
Brittany: I think sometimes people see these kinds of expressions on social media and think that we’re making too big a deal out of this; think that we are making a mountain out of a molehill because it’s just what somebody retweeted or what they posted on Facebook or what they shared on Facebook, but we have to recognize that mindsets lead to behaviors. You can ask anyone who works on issues of professional development business psychology business ethics. So is we think so as we do. There is no way that you could be sharing these things even in jest and not have them influence the choices that you make at a moment’s notice when someone’s life is in your hands and most certainly these are ethics that we should care about in any line of work, especially if someone has the license to carry a gun in our [00:20:00] communities and take people’s lives from them. So no we’re not making too big a deal out of this. No, it’s not a mountain out of a molehill it is that serious people to whom we’ve given public trust should not only not be posting these things. They should be actively working against the kind of mindset that would lead you to post those kinds of things if these are the mindsets you have you shouldn’t be on the force and the force should not protect you when you do.
Sam : It came out in the reporting since this project has been released that many of those officers actually do have records of excessive force and lawsuits against them. A lot of these posts are indeed very clearly reflective of a pattern of misconduct and bias and using force in their jobs. You know, this is emblematic of such a deeper and more troubling problem than the one in five officers identified in the study.
DeRay: Now every time there’s a new study, you know, it’s interesting. These studies is so often people ask us for more data. They’re like, you know, we need a new study for this we need some more data to do this. We need [00:21:00] the lawmaker gets in office and they’re like, they’re radical ideas that they’re going to have a new data collection thing and data is important. But remember that we actually have enough data to make the decisions that will say people’s lives we do. So when I think about this study Sam, it’s a reminder that like every time a new one of these comes out and makes the press and then nothing changes the system doesn’t change not because it shouldn’t change it because people don’t have the political will to change it. So what does it mean that there are these officers who they weren’t even hiding these are public posts, you know, they were open about it. And why were they open? Because they knew that nothing would happen and we need to make sure that all of our storytellers people who make movies documentaries activists athletes artists, everybody understands more and more how the system works because what I’ve come to realize over the past five years is the police actually don’t care a lot about these instances because what they say is that these are couple bad apples. That they are really good at deflecting from a system being broken when we see so many bad apples consistently show up. That means something’s wrong with the orchard. It’s not just that bad [00:22:00] apples are showing up there are conditions that are allowing bad apples to continue to fester in the Orchard and that is actually an orchard problem. Not just an individual apple problem. So this study for all the reasons people have said is an issue. I am tired of the new studies that lead to shock value and not change.
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Clint: So [00:25:00] for my news I want to talk about how on last Tuesday the city of Los Angeles released a report in which they found that homelessness was up by 12 percent over the last year in the county and 16% in the city of Los Angeles. And there were some great reporting done by the New York Times on this and showed that LA county’s homelessness population is now at fifty eight thousand nine hundred thirty six and the cities is at 36,300 and for context California has the highest poverty rate in the country about one in five people in the state of California are impoverished and the numbers from this homelessness study are really concerning because especially given the fact that communities around the state have been funneling more and more money into services for homeless people. For example, LA’s measure H sales tax which adds about 355 million dollars each year to the fund to fight homelessness and in the report by the New York Times, Elise Buik who’s the president and chief executive of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles said that our housing crisis is [00:26:00] our homelessness crisis and that we’ve got to get people to understand that and I thought that was really important because people don’t often make the connection between lack of affordable housing and homelessness. I think intuitively it makes sense, but oftentimes people think that folks are homeless singularly because of you know decision that they made or mental illness or because they are resistant to the efforts of people to help them and all of those things are pathologies that aren’t grounded in any truth and it’s important for folks to understand that the housing affordability crisis is the single biggest Factor driving homelessness. And this one statistic I thought was really revealing is that somebody living in Los Angeles would need to earn $42.57 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent in the city of Los Angeles, which is staggering right? Like you have to get fifty dollars an hour in order to afford the median monthly rent in this city, which really puts into perspective the fight for 15 that number is helpful context and understanding what actually constitutes a living wage in so many of these big [00:27:00] cities we could have policies in place that made it so that the homeless crisis was mitigated, but oftentimes people are unwilling to do the things that are necessary in order to. Both politicians and often constituents, right like a one of the things that’s important to note about La in California’s that there was a piece of legislation that was brought up that would have made it so that certain communities could not just have single family homes, but when push comes to shove a lot of people who say they want to decrease homelessness are not willing to allow affordable housing units into their neighborhood. So I think that that can also be revealing in terms of people thinking about the abstract nature of their politics and what they’re actually willing to do in order to build the sort of world they espouse being committed to.
Brittany: You know Clint I want to keep going with these numbers that you just talked through. So like you said in Angelina would need to earn forty seven dollars and 52 cents an hour to afford median monthly rent in Los Angeles not to own a home not a mortgage, but rent [00:28:00] when you do the math for a 40-hour work week that comes out to a ninety eight thousand eight hundred forty one dollars and sixty cents a year salary. So nearly a hundred thousand dollars a year the average salary in Los Angeles. However is f62,881. So clearly not only is the average coming far short of what would be needed to afford median monthly rent in Los Angeles. But what we also know is that many people are working far more than 40 hours a week and they’re still not coming close to making $100,000. Let alone $62,000. So this is why the conversations about philanthropy and the people who are investing Millions even billions of dollars into ending homelessness have to be far more nuanced than they are. Charity is a good thing but we should be able to take a more nuanced magnifying glass and say that if you have billions of dollars in the bank, it is just as much about how you live as what you give it is just as much about how the companies [00:29:00] that you run and the people that you employ coming to cities and help to gentrified neighborhoods that create inaffordable housing in the first place. It is just as much about recognizing them. When we drive people out of their homes we’re not giving people any kind of alternative. It’s not like people are suddenly not able to afford the rent or the mortgages in their neighborhood, but there is a mixed income housing unit that is brand-new or around the corner. No, so it’s not just about what we give it’s not just about charity. It’s about living in solidarity and all of us myself included really interrogating not just what we give but also how we live.
Sam : I used to live in San Francisco for several years in a neighborhood called the Tenderloin and the Tenderloin is where there’s the largest concentration of homeless people in the city and those numbers are increasing either about 2,000 chronically homeless folks in San Francisco. Now those numbers are going up and obviously we need to address homelessness beyond sort of chronically homeless folks but folks who [00:30:00] are recently homeless may be shifting sort of in and out of homelessness. But those numbers are like not an insurmountable challenge, right 2000 folks in a city like San Francisco which has 75 billionaires and immense wealth, right literally living on the same block as companies like Twitter and Uber and Salesforce. And yet you don’t see any effort to systemically structurally address this there’s some movement through recent propositions, but nothing at the scale that it would really take to address this. I think it’s just striking that even given the increase in homelessness. Like this is a challenge that can be solved entirely. And the resources are there and it’s just about you know, a commitment by the government and by folks who have made a lot of money in those same cities to actually put in the investment that it would need to actually address this problem and to change their practices that are contributing to worsening it.
DeRay: You know, it’s Pride month and a study that came out in 2017 [00:31:00] showed that LGBTQ young people had a hundred twenty percent higher risk of reporting homelessness compared to youth who identify as cisgender or heterosexual and it also found that one in thirty young people aged 13 to 17 experience of form of homelessness over a 12 month period and one in ten young people. That’s a hundred twenty percent higher risk of reporting homelessness. We know that in lgbtq communities homelessness is particularly severe because of homophobia because of transphobia because of families not being accepting of the identities of young people that they care for. So when we think about some of the solutions it is about making sure that we don’t just push tolerance but we are really thoughtful about how we model acceptance and communities. The other thing that I want to say is that I’ve been talking to a lot of Advocates are on homelessness houselessness for a long time and they were like a trend that started recently is that people want to service people who are homeless. They want to like give them addiction treatment and food vouchers and all these things and what The Advocates repeatedly tell me is that [00:32:00] housing should always be the first thing on that list that housing actually allows people to take advantage of other things like addiction treatment and food services and those other things consistently. So when we front-load services without actually doing anything about housing, it doesn’t set people up to experience success by being able to access those things consistently. So this is not to say that we should not make sure that people who are homeless have access to Services we should we should not do it in lieu of housing housing should be one of the key levers when we are addressing homelessness.
Now, my news is about the Tulsa Race Massacre or the race riots in 1921. Because what I didn’t know is that there’s actually a first-person account of the aftermath that was hidden for so long but is now in custody of the Smithsonian African-American Museum. It is in a small world twist written by the father of John hope Franklin the famous African-American historian. BC Franklin Buck kolbert Franklin. Who wrote: [00:33:00] “I could see plane circling in midair. They grew in number and hummed darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building down east Archer I saw the Middle Way hotel on fire burning from its top and then another and another and another building began to burn from their top. The sidewalks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too well where they came from and I knew all too. Well why every burning building first caught from the top he continues I paused and waited for an opportune time to escape where oh, where is our Splendid Fire Department? with it’s half dozen stations I ask myself is this city and conspiracy with the mob?” It reminded me of a couple of things one. Is it sort of wild that we only know this now because it was in the private collection of someone and the family brought it from a private collection and it’s like it made me think about all the first person accounts that might be in the private collections of wealthy white people across the country that we’ve never seen like what were those accounts? And again, if you think he had this account how many other accounts first person of what happened [00:34:00] in Tulsa exist, and we went to Tulsa and you know we talked about this before but the memorial to what happened with Black Wall Street is a very small, I mean it is miniscule compared to the trauma that people endured and the second is a reminder to me that we all need to write more that we need to be writing about the lives of experience and I know social media and the internet has allowed some people to write more than others for sure, but we need to make sure that we’re mindful about capturing things that might seem mundane so that the people that come after us can get a good first person account of what happened. I read some of these articles about stuff that happened I’m like I was there and this article is not honest, but first person accounts provide a different perspective and understanding about events, and I wanted to bring that here because I didn’t even know this existed in you know, we often talk about what it means that proximity and there’s no better way than a first-person account.
Sam : So this account first of all, when you read the historical record around, you know, what happened in Tulsa there actually were historians who tried to claim that nobody ever dropped [00:35:00] bombs on Tulsa from the air and this account which was given to the Smithsonian later and became part of the historical record directly refutes that narrative and shows that these were actually police aircraft that in the account there were six aircraft that flew over the Black Wall Street area and which is Greenwood now in Tulsa and dropped bombs on folks from above and that was one of only two occasions in U.S. History other than Pearl Harbor in which folks were bombed from the air on US soil at the other occasion being the move bombing in the 1980s in Philadelphia both of those occasions where folks in the U.S. often law enforcement either police or a folks who got planes from the police that drop bombs on black folks – that’s our history in the United States and I think it’s important to call it out and it’s all the more important that historical records and accounts like these be preserved because without them there was an effort to just erase that part of the massacre really even happened. So [00:36:00] it’s so important to preserve these records.
Brittany: This is yet another example of how black wealth was destroyed intentionally. So it’s not just about not having access to the other ways in which wealth was built. It is also about the fact that when we were Building Wealth when we found ways around the many many barriers that existed for our communities when we found ways to have our own Banks to have our own businesses to have our own furriers to have our own trading posts to have our own Commerce; that was intentionally destroyed because it was seen to be a threat to the broader Society. We speak often about the wealth Gap and how it manifests now, but these are some of the roots of that these are some of the moments when we see that no, it’s not just about black people doing like other people and finally getting their stuff together because here’s a clear example of when we did and when black folks took their Fates in their own hands and continue to face the kind of [00:37:00] Destruction that continues and persists today.
Clint: Yeah, and I’ll just add and I’ve said this before but like this is such a important example of why first-person testimonies and first-person accounts are essential right? I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several months pouring over the narratives of enslaved people right? The narratives that they told themselves often times during the federal writers project of the 1930s during the New Deal when they made it so that unemployed journalist and unemployed writers were employed to go collect the stories of folks who are still living who had been born into enslavement those stories are just so so powerful. And those are what I have talked about this on the podcast to those inspired me to go talk to my own grandparents and get the stories from them in a formal an intentional way about their lives that would leave me to understand what it meant to grow up, you know from my grandmother and Jim Crow Florida for my grandfather and Jim Crow, Mississippi and I learned so much about their lives in ways that are far beyond anything that I could have learned [00:38:00] from just offhand conversation during Christmas or side conversation over the table at Thanksgiving but to sit down with that level of intentionality and to get these stories and to ask specific questions about what our elders have experienced just a reminder an encouragement for folks to go have those conversations.
DeRay: That’s the news.
Hey you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Stay tuned. There’s more to come.
Brittany: You know DeRay, I really believe that listening makes us smarter more connected people. I mean, it makes us better Partners. At least that’s what Reggie tells me makes us better community members and better leaders and there’s no better place to start listening than audible. Audible is where so many inspiring voices and compelling stories open listeners up to new experiences and new ways of thinking.
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DeRay: Now, I’m going to recommend two audiobooks. The first is Tommi Adeyemi’s The Children of Blood and Bone. She’s been on the podcast before she’s great. My sister actually just listened to this audio book and we just had a conversation about it. And then the other one that you should have read. If you have not already you can listen to it. It’s Becoming by Michelle Obama, it is on Audible. Explore all the ways listening on Audible can help [00:40:00] improve mind body and soul with entertainment information and inspiration. Start listing with a 30-day audible trial in your first audio book plus 2 audible originals are free visit audible.com/deray or text DeRay to 500 – 500.
And now my conversation with Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show.
Trevor thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People.
Trevor Noah: Thank you so much for having me.
DeRay: You know, we first met right when you started at the The Daily Show. It was like I remember your office back then you hadn’t even moved in. It’s been a while.
Trevor Noah: Yeah. It was a very, it was a time so crazy that I didn’t have time to decorate an office. Well, I don’t know if I’d be around long enough to need to decorate an office. So I just focused on doing the job
DeRay: Has being host been what you thought it’d be.
Trevor Noah: Huh? That’s a good question. I don’t know what I thought it would be to be honest. You know, I don’t think I had an idea of what it would be. I think I you know, I had ideas of what [00:41:00] hosting a TV show would be coming from South Africa and like, you know, maybe the UK but not in the way The Daily Show has been and coming into the hosting job at The Daily Show. In the run-up to a Trump Presidency has truly been one of the wildest rides of my life. So yeah, I don’t think I expected any of it.
DeRay: Is it dramatically different over here than your media role in South Africa?
Trevor Noah: Yeah, because I think the Daily Show comes with it a certain idea of what people think you are saying where they think you’re coming from. So obviously the show had a preconceived notion for many people and then there was the irony is you know when I started people who were conservative automatically assumed that they hated me or did not share any points of view with me and then those who are fans of John’s many of them just immediately assumed that I was not liberal enough or I guess outraged or you know, what a righteous with my indignation enough [00:42:00] for them. It’s a really interesting position to be in because it’s predefined for many people in their minds and then you and then you just have to go from there.
DeRay: I can only imagine what it’s like every night to put together the show given the Trump Administration is so wild that there’s like so much news to talk about that like you’re not like you’re like, oh, what are we gonna talk about today? It’s literally like you have to choose between wild story number one a while stirring number 30. What’s that process like?
Trevor Noah: I’ll be honest with you. We’ve gotten good at it. You know it because it’s happened to us so much. I remember when we started it was every single day us trying to figure out how you handle a fire hose of information. And then now we got to the point where you know, when you live on those blocks where they don’t come and fix the fire hydrant that’s got water pouring out of it. So then you just you just learn how to use it, you know, you tie a few plastic bags and then like you just direct the water you divert it to a certain place and some people use it to water their garden and some people [00:43:00] use it to wash their cars and you just live with it and you go there. Yeah on my street there’s a constant stream of water and that’s what we’ve done. I think so now what I try and do is I try and make sure that we are contextualizing what’s happening. Trump does something crazy every day, but not everything that he does will affect you in every way. So I try and focus on the stuff that will affect people versus offend people. And then if it’s just funny / offensive than would just make jokes about that, but we won’t make it the focal point of the episode and we’ve gotten really good at making complete shows the don’t mention Trump, that don’t include Trump. We talked about news both internationally and domestic and we just keep it moving but we’ve tried to take the Daily Show out of the space of being controlled by what Donald Trump is or isn’t doing.
DeRay: That makes sense and you still do stand-up?
Trevor Noah: Yep still do stand-up. Every single weekend.
DeRay: Every weekend?
Trevor Noah: Yeah every weekend.
DeRay: I didn’t know that.
Trevor Noah: I like seeing America. I like doing stand-up on the road. I like getting out of New York. I like meeting people who live different lives, think different [00:44:00] things. It’s fun. I really really enjoy it. Could be anywhere. It could be you know, the south of America to the north of Canada. You know, I just try and go out and do comedy. It also reminds me like where I came from like what I what I’ve always been doing. So I don’t forget that element of I guess the human nature that stand-up comedy brings.
DeRay: Remember when you came to Baltimore, the Hippodrome, and you got a chicken box?
Trevor Noah: Yes I rememeber that.
DeRay: And I was like that dried Chicken in that little room like what is Trevor doing?
Trevor Noah: Because I tried chicken every single place I go to. That’s why.
Trevor Noah: Yeah, I’m always sure I’m trying to find the best fried chicken everywhere I go. That’s what I’m trying to do.
DeRay: How about you probably remember but I asked you if people recognized you at the like when you were getting a chicken box. Yeah, you were like, yeah, no.
Trevor Noah: That’s the fun part is also getting out of the bubble of thinking your world is the be-all and end-all, you know, People ask me that all the time that we like “yo man can you even go out?” Can you and I go like, yeah. It depends on where you go out to. There’s so many places in America where people have no [00:45:00] clue who I am. They have no clue what a Daily Show is and I like that because it reminds me A. to be humble and then B. to acknowledge that people are living in multiple realities, you know, even though we’re living in the same world. So when I when I think of the show. When I think of how to create or how to have conversations, I think Beyond just the people who are engaged in the way that I think they’re engaged in.
DeRay: The crowd at The Daily Show is like Millennial and up probably but I know that you translated your book to have a children’s book, why’d you do that?
Trevor Noah: I created the young readers edition of my book predominantly because young readers said they wanted it. I had Parents saying to me hey my kid loves your book, but there are parts of the book that I struggled to translate for them or I don’t want my kid reading at a certain age and you know with its language or complex ideas and have you ever considered making a version of this book for young readers, you know some teachers that hey I want to teach you a book in my school, but I [00:46:00] just wish there was a version of the book that was geared toward a younger reader. And so I just took their feedback and I did it. I was like, well, let’s see how hard that is. And if we can create the same book but in a way that that is literally geared towards a younger mind, you know a different grade reading level and that’s that’s why I did it and luckily it worked. You know, the feedback has been great schools are using it kids are enjoying it. And yeah, that’s literally why I did it.
DeRay: And I didn’t know you had a foundation The Traveler Foundation. How old is the foundation?
Trevor Noah: Oh, the Foundation is still in its infancy. I think we were in what is the technically the second year? And that’s been a beautiful steady Journey, you know part of me is glad that you didn’t know about it because like I didn’t create it to be a vanity project. I tried to create it so that I could in some way shape or form try and make an impact in education starting in South Africa, you know, I know that a lot of why I am where I am today a large part of that I owe to my [00:47:00] education the teachers that took extra time with me the schools that gave me, you know access to ideas that I wouldn’t have previously had and a mother who insisted on me learning certain things about myself in the world. So when I look back at South Africa I said, you know if there was a way that I could just try and help how we think of education and how we treat learners and teachers then I would like to do that. So that’s what the foundation is about. It’s like a pilot program I’ve started where I take schools that predominantly serve underdeveloped communities, you know with its orphans, with its children who just cannot afford just basic resources in life and then they provide for these kids. And so I said I’m going to support those schools whilst at the same time using it as a pilot program to basically say that the government “hey, this is how you can support these schools.” And this is how we can move the education system forward because I don’t think philanthropy is a Is a be-all and end-all, you know, I think it’s a nice to have for many people but it’s very much a tiny Band-Aid on a large [00:48:00] wound. So I’m not thinking of it as I’m here to fix education. I’m just going like hey, I’m trying to figure out a few answers that I can hopefully get our government to work on to try and fix education. I think of it as an incubator or a hub or a think tank that is designed to help Learners and Educators starting in South Africa. And then hopefully I can I can start migrating those ideas to the US. You know because I think both of our countries have huge issues with our education systems and because of that we just going to keep witnessing the effects in the populace.
DeRay: You just started a podcast called “On Second Thought,” why a podcast? You already have a show you travel doing stand-up you have the after show with The Daily Show that’s online. Already a lot of Trevor in the world why podcast?
Trevor Noah: Well, what I think of it rather is I look at it as merely documenting ideas and thoughts that I’m having as life happens. So I’m very careful to not burn myself out. I’m careful to not over expose myself in that way. And [00:49:00] so everything is an extension of who I am and what I do so The Daily Show is obviously the Hub. You know my stand up on the weekends helps me refresh and keeps me connected with who I am and like people out in the world, you know, beyond the camera and a screen and then between the scenes for instance is a byproduct of The Daily Show, you know, I don’t make between the scenes between the scenes is going to happen with as a camera or not. In fact, it happened before we put it out online. It just became us taking what I was saying to the audience in ad breaks and just putting that online. And so the podcast in many ways is that it’s a conversation that I have, you know, most of the time I’m joined by my good friend David Kibuuka, you’ve met him and you know, you know, we moved from South Africa together to work on The Daily Show. We’ve been working together for years on Comedy and just we hang out in life and it’s a podcast about issues that are not happening right now. So it doesn’t have like the urgency and the chaos. It also doesn’t have the extreme emotion attached to it because I think [00:50:00] sometimes that’s how we have to think of issues in the world is not when we are angry not when we’re emotional not when it’s happening. But rather when we are calm and go hey, how do we deal with this issue? You know while we’re sober minded about it and then just having conversations in and around that.
DeRay: You have a production company to. Talk about the production company and then like what kind of things do you think we’ll see from the production company? Will it be heavily comedy? Will it be heavily politics? Like what can we expect from the production company?
Trevor Noah: Well Day Zero Productions is a production company I started predominantly to try and create content that I just think is interesting. We see it repeatedly in the world where people are constantly surprised by the success of Original Stories. I’m always intrigued by that, you know, people are like wow Aladdin did well, even though the cast was made up of previously unknown people of color. And it’s just like yeah, but why wouldn’t it? Why wouldn’t do well? It’s Aladin, you know, I’m saying and people are still shocked by these things. Wow, black [00:51:00] panther did amazingly well, even though the cost was black and it’s like yeah, but it’s a great story and I think that’s what people don’t seem to realize is that you know, creating content that is both representative and inclusive is not about charity. It’s about finding original stories to tell. You know, like how many times are we going to tell the same story about some white lawyer somewhere who rescued a black person who was on death row or something? It’s like okay I get it. I get it. Like at some point stories have been told. And I’m not saying there’s no space for those stories. I’m just saying it’s nice to have diversity of thought. It’s nice to have movies that center women. It’s nice to have movies that center people of color. It’s nice to have movies that center those who are not American. You can tell crazy stories that everybody enjoys and I think everybody benefits from those stories, you know, it keeps things fresh. It makes people money, which is always a factor and you know, it’s not a charity exercise. And so what we’re trying to do is [00:52:00] find the original stories that haven’t been told and tell them in a way that makes good TV or film.
DeRay: On behalf of the public. Is there a time when the first ones coming out?
Trevor Noah: Well, I’m currently working on the adaptation of my book “Born a Crime” into a film and that was spurred on by Lupita nyong’o who called me out of the blue and said “hey I’m playing your mom and we making a movie” like all right. Well you have spoken so, you know, that’s that’s really exciting creating that story, you know at adapting it to film.
DeRay: She’s playing your mom?
Trevor Noah: Yeah, she’s gonna play my mom in the movie. I’m not going to be in the movie because I’m not of the age that I was in the book. So it’ll be little boy Trevor and then Lupita playing, you know, Trevor’s mom.
DeRay: Is your real mom Consulting?
Trevor Noah: Consulting, I don’t think she has any interest in she was just happy that it was an African woman playing her. She was like who’s doing what and I was like, I want to make a movie about our lives in the book and she was like, okay Who’s acting as [00:53:00] me and I was like Lupita Nyong’o and she’s like, where’s she from? And I was like, well, she’s she’s Kenyan and then she was like, oh, okay fine. As long as I have an African woman playing me. I’m fine.
DeRay: I love it.
Trevor Noah: Yeah, and her thing wasn’t even like about like, you know, the conversations were having in Hollywood and in entertainment now about who’s playing what role. No. My mom was just like no, I just need someone who understands what it’s like to be an African woman. I was like, oh, okay, and it was a simple as that.
DeRay: Can you vote here?
Trevor Noah: I vote here for what’s happening in South Africa. I can’t vote in America’s elections.
DeRay: What are your considerations for 2020 as we think about the election not necessarily as a voter because you can’t vote, but as somebody who’s covering the election?
Trevor Noah: There are a few things. One, the most important thing for me is going to be putting forth conversations that I think people who can vote actually need to be thinking about you know, I’m going to try to make sure that every conversation I’m a part of on The Daily Show or in my life is something that [00:54:00] people should actually be aware of before they vote I think Nuance is something that is in short supply and I think we always need to engage in that. You know, we don’t need to live in a world where Democrats are completely spared from all criticism just because Donald Trump is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the Presidency of the United States. You know, I think you can still require certain things and have certain criticisms of Democrats whilst aiming towards getting Donald Trump out of office. I think at the same time. I will be a little more vocal when I see moments where I think Donald Trump is tapping into or connecting into a Zeitgeist that could help him maintain his seats. During the first election there were many times where I thought Donald Trump was winning and then when I would say it people would laugh at me and be like, oh you don’t understand American politics Trevor just it’s okay this happens. This is just crazy politics, but Donald Trump won’t make it but the times when I’d watch him, I’ll be like, oh no, he’s tapping into an idea. He’s [00:55:00] connecting with a group of people by saying this and he’s really good at it. And either you can acknowledge that and then figure out how to counter it or you can be blind bury your head in the sand and be like no, he’s bad and everything he says it bad and it doesn’t connect. It’s like you choose you but that’s what I’m going to try and do is engage in conversations and ideas that hopefully give people enough information to make an informed decision when the next election comes around.
DeRay: What are some other things that you think that he’s done that’s really set him up to be successful?
Trevor Noah: There’s a few things that people don’t get about Trump fundamentally you start of the top. He is good at entertaining a crowd that is something you cannot take for granted in American politics specifically because as much as people want to deny it American politics is as much about entertainment as it is about policy and part of that is because of how American politics has been covered the fact that you have candidates going on Saturday Night Live doing sketches tells you something about the country that you live in. You know, it is as much about being a popular [00:56:00] person as it is about being somebody who is going to make decisions that positively affect people’s lives. You know, that’s why they asked people which candidate would you most likely want to grab a beer with that should never be a question but it is so Donald Trump is really good at entertaining crowds. He’s really good at engaging. People he’s also really charming with a people when I accept it or not. You know, he says horrible things, but he knows how and when to be charming. He’s also great at identifying and exploiting divides, you know, like we watch when this next election comes he’s gonna target the weaknesses on the Democratic side, you know, he’s gonna go after he’ll go after black voters and he’ll say to you, hey, don’t forget Joe Biden voted for harsher punishments and a criminal justice system that crippled many black families. Don’t forget that. You know when it comes to Hispanic voters he’s going to tell them about what he’s done to improve unemployment and like certain issues that he’s improved specifically for them and he’s going to needle people in the right ways. And I think he’s [00:57:00] really good at identifying those divisions and those weak points or touch points that people have and and that’s what makes him a formidable opponent. He’s not a policy wonk. It’s not trying to be a policy wonk, you know, he doesn’t read. He doesn’t need to read because he’s going on in motion not fact, and that’s I think what people need to be careful of is thinking that you can just read a book and take Donald Trump on. I don’t think that’s what he’s all about because that’s not what American politics is all about.
DeRay: Is their current candidate of the 12 million people running for president that you think comes close to being able to counter him in that way?
Trevor Noah: I think it’s too soon to tell. But I do think if I was to put my money on people who I think Trump would struggle to go up against I think Trump would struggle to go up against Joe Biden. I think he’d have a tough time against Bernie. I think one-on-one on a debate stage with Kamala he’d have a tough time because he’d have to figure out how to not say the wrong thing that he’d always want to say.
DeRay: Like how not to be super racist in front of her or something?
[00:58:00] Trevor Noah: Or misogynistic or anything, you know, and I think with Hillary there was a certain level of disdain that she carried with her that he could use and I you know, I wonder what that would be like with Kamala and then I think the Dark Horse and I’ve said this consistently is Peter Buttigieg. Who you know doesn’t make it about a trump fighting doesn’t go head-to-head with him in that way, but rather he deflects. He’s very he’s got a very Thai Chi attitude to how he handles Trump’s conflicts and you know, he served in the military and he comes from a red State and he’s religious, very religious. And I think he he has a few bases covered that would make him a really formidable opponent when going up against Donald Trump, and I think he also has a little bit of that magic dust that Democrats like and that is he doesn’t have the like a super long track record. And if you look at Democrats voting, you know, whether it’s Clinton or whether it’s Obama. There’s a certain element of people going yeah, we like this person who sort of came out of nowhere with great ideas. And so that’s why I think Pete Buttigieg stands a really good [00:59:00] chance.
DeRay: Are they all going to be on the show? I mean 20 people?
Trevor Noah: Yeah. I’ll have everybody on the show. I mean, you know, my invites are still open to Republicans. Although I’ve realized now since Trump became president only Republicans we get on the show of the ones that are leaving the party or congress. Clearly there are a lot of people who are not fans of his but will only say something when they leave. But yeah, we have everyone on the show. So if somebody thinks they can run the country. We have them on The Daily Show and then we engage with them. And so, you know, we’ve had Andrew Yang on the show. He was in one of our field pieces. We had Bernie Sanders we’ve had met a Pete, you know, we’ve had Kamala and so yeah, we have a comes on we’ll have them on.
DeRay: Is there anybody you talk to who you thought differently of after the conversation? Like you thought they’d be one way and then like you met with them you’re like well, okay that was different.
Trevor Noah: I’ll be honest Bernie Sanders.
DeRay: What did you think going in?
Trevor Noah: You know Bernie like when he’s out on the campaign Trail he’s doing his thing. He seems like he’s grumpy and he doesn’t take anything. You know, he doesn’t make any jokes and he but he’s actually [01:00:00] really funny. He’s funny. He gets a joke. He’s not afraid of a joke being made at his expense or laughing with you about himself. And I honestly found that refreshing and he has an authenticity about him when you are engaging with him in close proximity that many politicians should be very wary and envious of you know, Bernie on camera sometimes can be made to look like he’s this wild person but when you are in a room with that man, and he’s speaking there’s a certain level of magnetism that he possesses and I can see why people feel the bern. Often times those were not the frontrunners seemed to lead with the most plans because they almost have nothing to lose and so they nailed down what they want and then those ideas end up shaping what the front runner or what the eventual winner does, you know, so in many ways Bernie Sanders shaped Hillary Clinton’s policy and so, you know Elizabeth Warren, she’s not a stranger to this she’s done this before. She’s strong in the race, but not strong enough to be winning and she just lays out policies that are so popular that they end up getting adopted by the party, [01:01:00] which is what I think most races should be fundamentally is a combination of all the best ideas.
DeRay: What do you say to people who are losing hope in this moment? A lot of people as you know who have been in the streets who emailed who called who did all the things they were told to do and the world hasn’t really changed in the way they thought it would change for better. What do you say to those people?
Trevor Noah: What I would say to those people is before you lose hope don’t forget that this election was decided by what 70,000 votes, you know, give or take, so things are a lot closer than you think and if you give up always think to yourself that there are 70,000 other people who didn’t give up who may have put you in this position that you feel you’re in now and if anything we saw from the 2016 election that this was one of the lowest turnouts America has ever experienced. And so when people go, oh, my vote doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t do anything I go like all right, fine. But while you’re losing hope there’s another group of [01:02:00] people out there who are just building up steam and they’re getting ready to take away women’s rights to choose and they’re not losing hope at all. I mean think about it Roe v. Wade happened what 40 years ago and they didn’t lose hope and it looks like finally their dream is getting realized so you can choose to lose hope or you can just go like, you know what I’m just going to take a bit of time go out and vote and then hope that there are enough people around me who do the same thing.
DeRay: And last question is what’s a piece of advice that you gotten over the years is stuck with you?
Trevor Noah: Whoo. Huh? Let me think. Probably one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve kept with me throughout my life has been just remember that everything is helping you. And it’s not the same as everything happens for a reason for me. It’s more just everything is helping you everything that happens in your life is helping you to move towards the direction you’re trying to move towards and that doesn’t necessarily mean a positive thing by the way, if you’re trying to be self-destructive everything can help you to become self-destructive, [01:03:00] but if you’re trying to grow yourself, make the world a better place and you know, try to get to the best possible place you can get then I think everything will help you to do that as well. That’s it for me. It’s just you know, just remember everything is helping you.
DeRay: Thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People. Mr. Noah and I’m sure I’ll see you around.
Trevor Noah: Thank you very much DeRay great chatting to you again my friend.
DeRay: 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 podcast whether it’s apple podcast or somewhere else. We will see you next week.