In This Episode
DeRay, De’Ara, Kaya, and Myles cover the under-reported news of the week – including the shortage of Black sperm donors, anti-colorism protests erupting throughout Mexico, housing rights for squatters, and racism within cardiac care.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. And welcome to Pod Save The People, in this episode it’s me, De’Ara, Kaya, and Myles talking about all the news that you didn’t hear in the past week. The underreported news about race, justice and equity. The news that you should have heard about but didn’t make the headlines, but still important. We talk about the shortage of Black sperm donors, anti-colorism protests erupting throughout Mexico, housing rights and squatters, and then racism within cardiac care. Here we go. [music break] And advice for this week is to take a chance. Go to dinner. Go to lunch. Text the old friend that you know you forgot to respond their last five texts. But you still love him. Take a chance. Let’s go. [music break]
De’Ara Balenger: Family. Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save The People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @DeAraBalenger
Myles Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @pharaohrapture
Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson at @HendersonKaya on Twitter.
DeRay Mckesson: It is DeRay at @deray on Twitter.
De’Ara Balenger: And I hate to tell y’all Bernie supporters, I know y’all still out there. I told you so, but I told you so. So last week, Killer Mike was seen cozying up with not just Governor Brian Kemp, who is Stacey Abrams’ opponent who literally stole the election from Stacey Abrams, the gubernatorial election. Um. She’s running again against Kemp. And Killer Mike was hanging out with Kemp, not only Kemp, also Uncle Herschel Walker. He’s also hanging out with him, giving him his support.
Kaya Henderson: Say what?
De’Ara Balenger: Yes, he was. And so–
Kaya Henderson: Oh honey.
De’Ara Balenger: All this what I’m saying, like these politicians that lead with divisiveness, these politicians that lead with this type of toxicity where it’s okay to be throwing stones and talking crazy to people, this is what it all levels up to. So, you know, y’all’s friend Killer Mike.
Myles Johnson: Now, I know I know who Killer Mike is, but I know I’m just, listen, I’m the senior culture uh cop– correspondant on Pod Save The People. And this is embarrassing to say, but who is this man? [laughter] If I walked down the street, I would not know who these men are. [laughter] Please. And I’m with y’all.
De’Ara Balenger: I mean, I can’t name one Killer Mike song. At all.
Myles Johnson: I know who Killer Mike is because I’m from Atlanta. I do not. But I don’t know who are these people?
De’Ara Balenger: Okay. Who wants to jump in?
Kaya Henderson: I’ll second the motion. Go ahead. [laughter] No no, I know who Killer Mike is. I’m just saying, I will come in with some secondary, I don’t I don’t know jack about his rap career. I know about him as an activist. I know about his show. He has a he had a show on Netflix called Trigger Warning with Killer Mike that was actually–
Myles Johnson: Mmm.
Kaya Henderson: –Highlighting lots of issues in the Black community that I thought was interesting. He you know was sort of in the mix when um Keisha Lance Bottoms was uh the mayor of Atlanta and all of the violent stuff was going on and and whatnot. He was sort of a spokesperson and all of that. And so he’s a, you know, rapper turned activist, uh social commentator and blah, blah, but Black man influencer, clearly. And y’all, can we all can y’all call the brothers conversation and talk to the brothers about what’s going on all, all year?
Myles Johnson: I think that they are talking that’s how come we in this mess. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Ooo. Oooh.
Myles Johnson: Stop talking to each other. Abandon ship. [laughter] Their [?].
De’Ara Balenger: It’s just it look like y’all. I’m digging into this. It looks like Killer Mike also met with Kemp in 2020. So he started showing his colors there. He and on September 10th of 2020, he also defended himself on Twitter, comparing himself to Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Kaya Henderson: Killer Mike?
De’Ara Balenger: Yes.
Kaya Henderson: I’m sorry. I just checking.
De’Ara Balenger: Yes, that’s that’s what this news says here.
DeRay Mckesson: He had been getting pushback about his most recent conversations with Kemp. He posted a picture, I think, of LBJ and and Malc– and Martin being like, we always talk to people. We don’t. And you’re like, No, no. They were trying to pass national civil rights legislation. You are just being used for photo ops. And it makes–
Kaya Henderson: Yeah.
DeRay Mckesson: –Me really sad because I’ve met Killer Mike. If I saw him I would traditionally say hi, but it’s like this is–
Kaya Henderson: Traditionally.
DeRay Mckesson: This is just– [laughter] This is so disappointing because, you know, this has real consequences. This is not a random thing. Uh. The vote in Georgia, by all accounts, will be very tight. And Stacey Abrams has been in Black communities, has a whole platform about Black man, has been talking like it’s not like she’s been absent in the conversation and Kemp has been unabashedly racist in policy. It’s not there’s no nuance. There’s no like fine line. It’s actually been really clear. So seeing, you know, it’s like, what did you get out of it, Killer Mike? And, you know, one and this is like the Kanye of it all, right? Like people become countercultural, people become against the grain. So they can say that they, like cause they get more attention that way and like very much like Candace Owens. And it just is so sad because Killer Mike has the opportunity to do something really good. And instead he’s using his platform to just be a mockery of what it means to support Black people.
Myles Johnson: And I would venture to say if MLK was standing next, had the opportunity to endorse a Stacey Abrams, maybe that LBJ picture wouldn’t like, LBJ picture wouldn’t exist. Like, that’s the other thing too. It’s like you have an whole other option right here in like–
De’Ara Balenger: Right.
Myles Johnson: –When you’re comparing what somebody who was in an optionless environment did in order to seek victory or whatever versus uh this environment where you have Stacey Abrams just right there just not being racist.
De’Ara Balenger: This is his tweet from October 17th. I’m a read it like this. Don’t waste your time being mad at a two year old picture of me. You better get to door knocking and canvasing for your side. For your side. What? I have not publicly endorsed any candidate and will be keeping my vote a private matter. Twitter ain’t real so get your ass out and cast a vote.
Myles Johnson: Who said that? Killer Mike?
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. [laughing]
Myles Johnson: What? I don’t understand what? Twitter is a real thing. Twitter is not.
Kaya Henderson: Say it, [?].
Myles Johnson: It is not Santa– it’s not Santa Claus.
Kaya Henderson: That’s, that’s the hill you want to die on?
Myles Johnson: That Twitter is a real thing. I don’t know. But I just it just is weird to me that a whole bunch of people who have like like a cancer cell has like, spread because of Twitter are now like when it’s convenient saying, like, oh, it’s not a real thing. I’m like, do you think that you wouldn’t be able like from what I’m from what I’m collecting, he’s been able to get media opportunities and stuff like that. And I’m like, you think that Twitter and social media doesn’t help that. And then we see that Russia thinks Twitter is a real thing. [laughter] Russia believes in Twitter.
De’Ara Balenger: The whole internet. The whole internet okay.
Myles Johnson: Listen. And Russia said and we gonna keep on believing in Twitter. So it’s not it’s not it’s a it’s another uh dimension of our modern reality. And it’s not the sum of it. Nothing is, just like Page Six or, you know, New York Post was not the sum of reality um at one point in time, but it was a dimension of it and people who are doing political and social, political and celebrity things had to contend with New York Post and Page Six and conservative propaganda and gossip. You have to do it. Um. Twitter is the same thing. It’s it’s real. It exists.
Kaya Henderson: There’s an article in The Huffington Post from a couple of days ago that says it’s an opinion piece, but it says this rapper is more politically dangerous than Kanye West. And basically they say that, you know, he has a platform with working class Black men. He is well read. He is you know, he has organized his his his piece when um when there were riots in Atlanta was now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize. And that’s sort of what he has done. He lately he’s had quite the shift in rhetoric, tone and approach. The transformation of Killer Mike has been subtle. For one, he’s not just a reader of books. He’s a well-informed orator of history. He’s not just the old head in the barbershop telling the young folks to get out and vote. He’s the barber shop owner, and since working class man can’t afford to be in social clubs, barber shops is where they are and his reach is in that space. Y’all. Wooh. We got, I mean, it’s like Whac-A-Mole. We got problems all over the place and sometimes they are problems coming out of our own community. And that does not mean that Black people are all monolithic or we should all vote in a particular way or what have you. But when you stand up for people whose whole entire career has been about dismantling the Black vote, who most recently stole, like like blatantly stole. I’m not an election denier. Like I’m not talking about dominion, whatnot. I’m talking about purging people off the rolls in Georgia so that this lady could not win. And he could. I’m not sure. And that’s not just not being monolithic. That seems bananas to me.
Myles Johnson: And the last thing I’ll sprinkle on is, uh you know, this is a feminist issue. And I think that a lot of people get annoyed when feminism, specifically black feminism and Black discourse is discussed. But this is what happens when I think patriarchy, when patriarchy and classism are just not discussed with the same fever as race is. You end up with these moments where you look up and like, well, how did this happen? Because there’s another invisible social club in the air called uh Patriarchy.
De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm.
Myles Johnson: And then. And they. And they. And he got the invitation. And another one called class. [laughter] And we are dealing it and we are outside of the club. Ladies and gentlemen. We are ladies, gentlemens, and thems. We are outside of the club. My story well, my story this week was really inspired, my news this week, rather, it was really inspired by everybody else’s news. And I’ve actually meant to discuss this when it was happening, but I just forgot. And then a lot of other people had a similar theme of what they were talking about. So I was like uh, better late than never. And like, people, you know, scary stories are timeless. So I was watching TikTok where I get most of my news, and there was a woman called Shanetta and it started going viral. Her name was @RegularBlackGirl on Twitter. And I remember people sending it to me. Uh. It just going viral on the Internet. And I’m like, what is like what is going on? And I just like got just soaked into the story. So basically Shanetta whose name is um @regblackgrl says she she began getting letters from members of a sovereign citizens group who claimed ownership of her Ivy Street home in Newark since purchasing and renovating back in February. So what’s happening is Shanetta bought a home. It was being renovated. She was in an apartment. And all while this was happening, a sovereign group called Al Moroccan Empire broke into the house, changed the locks, and hung a Moorish flag in the window. It got really intense. Shanetta went to go see what was going on. She saw us uh not not me. [laugh] This my hood reporting y’all, but [laughing] Shanetta saw what was going on. There was people outside with umbrellas outside of her home. She was like, y’all do not look like the people who are supposed to be renovating my home you’re not like the contractors. Um. She goes to her house. Somebody rolls up on her and gets mad at her for being on her driveway. She knew something was happening. And basically they locked doors. Um. They went into the house, lock locked the door. She had to call the police. It got so intense she couldn’t get in. And it ended up she they needed the SWAT team ended up taking the man out and he was like planked. If you remember what planking is. So he was just like plywood and had to like take him out. Cause they refused to go out, it is a 36, around 36, 40 amount of videos are going on. So it will be hard for me to cover all the things I just gave you. My my hood analysis of everything that was happening was just wild to me is that I think that, yes, this story is outrageous, wild. But also I think it’s a symptom of housing insecurity. I think it’s a symptom of what’s going on with with uh the security when it comes to like have like when it comes to having a home. And then even during this week, I was sending different um TikToks and Twitter videos of seemingly that there’s like this squatter thing happening everywhere. One was from the U.K. There’s another one from the, from the New York. Like people just going to people’s houses and squatting. And I don’t know. This was just an interesting story. Any time something kind of goes above my head, I love to bring it to you. To my uncles and aunties here at the podcast to discuss and give me grounding around it. Yeah. And then also the law part. De’Ara, how, how does that happen? How come it took so long for them to get it to move out this house?
De’Ara Balenger: I don’t–
Myles Johnson: What is going on?
De’Ara Balenger: I don’t know if there’s any law being applied to this here [laughter] chain of events.
Kaya Henderson: It’s interesting because I popped another article. A similar thing happened in Maryland this week where a couple just closed on a house and they were driving by and they realized they saw a U-Haul truck with people moving into their house that they just bought. And uh they called the police and the police the the men strapping Black men apparently had a lease and the lease was not legit. But they said their uncle had leased them the thing and they weren’t leaving and the police were like, this is a civil matter. Wait a minute. Hold on one second here. What’s it they they said it was a matter for the sheriff. Now, I don’t know what sheriffs do, but here’s one thing. I know that when I just signed a few hundred thousand dollar loan for a house and every single day counts, somebody is going to go there and remove the people. And and DeRay is going to tell me why this is not what police should do, because then it’s going to escalate into violence. If it’s going to escalate into violence. What makes [indistinct].
Myles Johnson: [indistinct] happen anyway. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: If I. [laughter] If somebody in there, my brand new house [indistinct].
DeRay Mckesson: Kaya. [laughter] Oh goodness. We’ve got some work to do y’all. [laughter] It is the boldness of it all is really something else. [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Oh, these people are like, and what this is my house out here.
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah.
Kaya Henderson: The British people who are like squatters rights? What? What?
Myles Johnson: Child.
De’Ara Balenger: But it is. I think it’s a it becomes a civil matter because it it’s it’s a matter of whose paperwork is correct. Right. Like if there is if even even if it’s, you know, kind of a scammy a scammy piece of paper or a scammy story about how they are in the house–
Kaya Henderson: But that’s–
De’Ara Balenger: –it becomes a matter.
Kaya Henderson: But that’s what makes it–
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah.
Kaya Henderson: –Worse, right?
De’Ara Balenger: Because it’s not trespass, right? It’s not. It’s not and that’s what makes this complicated.
Kaya Henderson: I did a story a while ago on the pod about this happening in Detroit, where low income Detroit residents were getting what they thought were mortgages. And people who didn’t even own the houses were just quote unquote uh, “renting to own, renting to them to own.” They put all of this money in and then they would realize that the houses weren’t theirs and there was no recourse. Right, because they didn’t have the right paperwork. But also, the bureaucracy has no incentive to go after these people who are scamming these folks. And so they were very slow to act it back, slim to none of these. There were hundreds of these complaints in Detroit and nobody in the authorities were doing anything about it because there was no incentive to to do it and because the people affected were poor Black people and who cares–
De’Ara Balenger: That’s right.
Kaya Henderson: –About them?
De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. And, you know, I just think just the [laugh] the very origins of property law like right we have a common law system–
Kaya Henderson: Oh my gosh.
De’Ara Balenger: –that was completely exported from the United Kingdom. And so our legal system really prioritizes property over human beings, number one. And it also, you know, it’s property law. It’s meant to to benefit those who have lots–
Kaya Henderson: The land overs–
De’Ara Balenger: –and lots and lots of property.
Kaya Henderson: Land of aristocracy. Yes.
De’Ara Balenger: Exactly. Exactly. So there’s no wonder why, you know, vulnerable people, low income people aren’t protected because the law really wasn’t set up to protect them.
DeRay Mckesson: The last thing I’ll say is that one of the things and I remember your article Kaya, about Detroit is that with poor people and people of color, it’s like the belief gap, the believability gap is so interesting.
De’Ara Balenger: Mm.
Myles Johnson: Mm.
DeRay Mckesson: Because you hear, you know, that Detroit thing had to happen for a long time. That wasn’t new. But who believes poor people, right? Who like you might have got it wrong. You didn’t really sign a lease. Nobody actually told you that, right? Like it becomes this. You spend half the time just trying to get people to trust that what you’re saying your experience is actually legitimate and real, or like the housing lottery. There’s that article in New York where something like 50, 60,000 units, affordable, affordable units are going un– uh the landlords are not putting them on the market because they are like they don’t make money from them da da da but they are there is housing available affordably that they got subsidized to make that they will just not rent out. And it’s like but you I can I can hear the conversation now where somebody is like, well, I applied for that and nobody got back to me. And they’re like, did you really apply for that? Did you really try hard enough? And then The New York Times reports the landlords are just holding the they’re holding them. It’s not that you did anything wrong. The landlords are refusing to actually rent them. But like the belief gap of like did this actually happen for poor and Brown people is just so wild.
De’Ara Balenger: And also, can we can we talk about Moorish sovereign citizens? So it’s the notion that African-Americans had special rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco, as well as the belief that African-Americans were descended from African Moors. I mean, true. And often as well, the belief that African-Americans were also people, also a people indigenous to the Americas. So, one, I’ve never heard of this group, but they it’s listed as an extreme like I’m on ADL right now, so it’s listed as an extremist group in some places. All that to be say said, I don’t know where in this doctrine it makes sense then to take over other Black people’s houses. I don’t know if that’s part of–
Myles Johnson: You know.
De’Ara Balenger: –the ideology that don’t really make sense to me but.
Myles Johnson: And if you do go to the news, you see it’s Black men and there, Black men are not okay. [laughter]
De’Ara Balenger: Again–
Kaya Henderson: It would seem [indistinct].
De’Ara Balenger: –[?] there’s going back.
Myles Johnson: [indistinct] are not okay. Not okay [laughter] and however you can get got there is a thing out there getting you and it’s happening on Twitter off Twitter don’t matter what’s real and what’s not real, Black men are not okay. If you know a Black man take, buy an extra kombucha juice, take a walk. [laughter] We need as many on our team as possible cause it’s they’re under attack they are under intellectual siege. Goodness.
DeRay Mckesson: It is also you know, you think about that Kanye video that just got released. Where Kanye’s like, you know, I sympathize with white men because that’s who I understand more, straight white men. And he does this whole thing about his reverence for straight white men. And is that is you know, a lot of people believe that, they just want to, like, switch places with the quote “power” that white men have as opposed to understanding that all of that is soaked in the blood of Black people. And Myles, going to your um to your comment about Black men are not okay. They literally are not okay. Right. So you think about the suicide rate spiking. You think about the the loneliness of Black men is at record levels. And, you know, sometimes for worse, not for better. People find solidarity and community in really dangerous places. And sometimes that is being hoodwinked by the right.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save The People is coming.
Kaya Henderson: Well, continuing along this theme of uh trouble in the Black male community, I would say this is trouble in the Black family community. Um. I texted this article to my girlfriends, you know, we have a little book club auntie group, and I was like, Ya’ll, can you believe this? Um. I’m going to talk about this on the pod this week. Hash tag, donate Black sperm. And they were like, wait, what girl? What? Okay, so this is the thing um in The Washington Post this week, there’s a report that says America has a Black sperm donor shortage and Black women are paying the price. Well, it turns out that um Black donors, Black sperm donors, represent less than 2% of the available supply of sperm in the United States. And the people who are most affected by that are Black women trying to start Black families. Um not just Black women, actually Black people trying to start Black families. But most of the folks nowadays who are using fertility services are same sex couples and single women. Um. Black women more likely to be single mothers than many of their counterparts. And, you know, now they’re upwardly mobile. They have access or their insurance finally covers fertility treatments. And it turns out that there’s not enough Black sperm donors. In fact, they looked at they collected the number of sperm donors in the country at the most at the largest sperm banks. And there are about 748, which that surprised me. It seemed super low to only 748 folks have sperm in sperm banks right now, but it seems that that’s the case. 391 of them are white, 262 are Asian, 54 are Hispanic, 47 are other. Only 12 are black, only 12. And it seems like uh when Black women or when this story is specifically about Black women, when Black women are looking for sperm donors because they want to have a Black family, because they want kids who look like them, because they k–, they want kids who share their same cultural heritage. Um. These sisters are literally like um beating each other out in terms of who has the the donor in the cart first. Um. There’s a story of two sorority sisters who are on the phone looking at sperm donors and one clicked buy before the other one. And it made the Black sperm no longer available. [gasp yelp] Yes, honey, listen, if you don’t click the cart quick enough uh you won’t, there were other stories about women who you know were in the process and they were looking for donors. And when it came time to pull the trigger, all of those donors were gone. Literally, when Black sperm becomes available, it becomes unavailable in minutes. Um. How did we get here? There’s been a failure to recruit Black donors. Um. The fertility industry has been marketed primarily to white people, and it seems they actually can’t find the right messaging to resonate with Black men to donate. Now, some of the examples that they gave, we going to give out gift cards outside of gyms? Mmm is that really how we going to reach black men to donate? I also will say that there is some economic discrepancy as far as I’m concerned, or we need to y’all we need to get ourselves together and open a Black sperm bank because sperm donors get paid $70 to $150 per donation. But do you know that these cyro cryo-banks are out here selling these things for $950 to $1300 dollars per vial? That is a hell of a markup. I feel like we, [laughter] we late up for this CBD thing, let’s get into the black sperm– [laughing] Cause that’s a hell of a markup.
Myles Johnson: Okay.
Kaya Henderson: Um. But the fertility industry has not figured out the right way to recruit Black men. They have a selection process that requires three generations of medical history. Uh. Most of us might not even have one or two generations of medical history. It excludes the the um sperm donor collection rules exclude donors with felony convictions so that X’s out a whole bunch of folks. There is the traditional mistrust of the medical profession on behalf of Black people. The fact that we don’t really talk about infertility in the Black community and basically, oh, and then there is this FDA ban, right? So because of the HIV and AIDS crisis in the nineties, the FDA put a rule in place that basically says that you cannot donate sperm if you have if you’re a man who has had same sex sex. If you’re a man who has had homosexual sex, I don’t know how to say this. Uh. Basically, if you’re a gay man or you have had sex with another man in the last five years, you cannot donate sperm. And–
Myles Johnson: What?
Kaya Henderson: Yes, honey. I somehow or another. I knew you might wake up on that one.
Myles Johnson: That wipes it out.
Kaya Henderson: It is. It clears out a lot of people. It clears out a lot of people. And so this is a problem. Basically, if there is an in demand white donor, it takes about three months to get that sperm. Um. But for Black donors, it takes usually 18. It’s an 18 month wait. So. Yeah. Okay. Let me read the thing the right way, just for clarification. The FDA regulations prohibit donations from any man who has had sex with another man within the past five years. How about that? Um, so that takes out a bunch of folks. The the real challenge here um is that, you know, there are a lot of these Black women in this article who talk about wanting to raise Black children, Black families, and wanting to raise kids that look like them and come from the same place as them. And we need to help our brothers understand, besides Nick Cannon, that building strong Black families is actually something desirable. And so um my appeal to my brothers is hashtag donate Black sperm so that we can continue to build strong Black families. Yeah, I just thought this was super interesting.
De’Ara Balenger: Well Kaya. This was timely for me because, you know, Paola and I are in the beginnings of our baby journey and I’ve gotten all the top recs from the queer folks on where to get sperm, where to, you know, in the in the event we want to use a surrogate the surrogate agency’s yadda yadda yadda. So that one of the cryobanks whatever you call it that everyone uses is the California one. So I went on that website last year at some point. First of all, just aesthetically this website. And this is why we do need to start this business. The website was such a turnoff just because it’s not chic or cute at all. Because I’m like buying a baby right not buying a baby. But I kind of am. You know what I mean? Like, the website should at least be as nice as Amazon where I’m, like, buying some paper towels. So, first of all, that was an issue. Then I like click on the LGBTQ Families tab, and it’s like pictures from Pride 1994 to represent my people. And I’m like, that’s not cute either, because when my baby grows up and goes on the Internet and sees this wack website like I mean, no disrespect, I think, you know all, it’s made beautiful babies. There’s all these stories um around it, too, but it’s just like. It just I don’t I guess Kaya to your point around that markup like I don’t know the money’s definitely not going to marketing. Very basic marketing. It’s not going to. And then there is a crisis with Black sperm. And so my partner y’all is very light skinned. And so I need somebody real brown to make me a Brown baby. Right. That’s just my equation. So–
Myles Johnson: DeRay are you in the giving mood? [laughter]
Kaya Henderson: Hey the article of the article talks about this, right? There’s–
De’Ara Balenger: But–
Kaya Henderson: –One couple–
De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm.
Kaya Henderson: The couples re–have to resort to. First of all, there are Facebook groups and apps and stuff for that.
De’Ara Balenger: Yup.
Kaya Henderson: But they also talk about, you know, people who have gotten a friend to donate sperm. But the, there are when you don’t go through a a clinic, the screening issues. Right. You might both have recessive genes that are not going to work together. And you don’t know that um other family medical history issues, but also legal issues.
De’Ara Balenger: Legal. Yup.
Kaya Henderson: And that you you know, you write up a thing that says we agree to co-parent and whatnot. And this one uh trio ended up it was a same sex female couple with a former friend and they ended up in jail, I mean, in court um incur–, incurring $35,000 worth of legal fees to sort out custody and custodianship and–
De’Ara Balenger: It’s a mess.
Kaya Henderson: –Whatnot on top of the tens of thousands of dollars that they paid in order to to do it. In fact, one lady found a dude online, met him in a hotel and did the deal and got herself a baby and was like, it cost me $300 and am I ashamed, no. But this is–
Myles Johnson: Okay.
Kaya Henderson: –this is what happens when you don’t have a regulated industry that–
De’Ara Balenger: That’s right.
Kaya Henderson: –Where we can participate. Then we’re forced into these, you know, less than desirable situations in order to make our familial goals come true.
De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. That’s right. I know. It’s and there’s like, yeah, it’s a thing. There’s a lot of couples I know that are that are struggling with this thing in the in the the sperm, like getting bought like right away. Like that’s a whole thing. Like, I have friends that just keep it open all day long so that they can buy instantly. When something comes available, it gets wild.
Kaya Henderson: Um I’m looking at this, I’m looking at the California Fertility–
De’Ara Balenger: I mean–
Kaya Henderson: Partners–
De’Ara Balenger: C’mon.
Kaya Henderson: –Website, and I would like to say we know we know people who could help you fix your website [?]. [laughter]
DeRay Mckesson: So I was looking at my, so this was new to me and De’Ara, you and I had actually spoken about this before because you told me, you told me that there was such a [?] and I was like, oh, this is really wild.
De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, yeah.
DeRay Mckesson: Um is that there is the first ever HIV positive sperm bank started in, the articles from 2019. It’s in New Zealand because people live with HIV, if they’re undetectable, there’s no risk of transmission. Uh, But like Kaya already talked about, the rules with the FDA over here are so wild uh that there is a sperm bank in New Zealand um that actually is successful and works and uh is a place where people living with HIV can donate sperm. The second thing is you it’s so interesting the way that the country just works really hard to make things difficult for Black and Brown people because excluding people with felonies, is I mean, what what is a felony is pretty broad, right? Like it could be that could be stealing, you know, $50 some places, that could be, you know, like it is not murder. Right? When people hear felony, they think murder. But we have all committed a lot of felonies in our lives. We just didn’t get arrested for it. And it’s like, what–
Myles Johnson: Okay.
DeRay Mckesson: Like what a nefarious way to just exclude a host of people from even participating in the process, not because there’s actually some public safety threat or some real, you know, challenge, but just because of ideas of respectability. Uh and I’m like, that is just wild. And the other thing else, the last thing I’ll say is I didn’t even know about sperm banks until I was an adult and had lesbian friends who were trying to have babies. Never heard of them, didn’t know they were a real thing, didn’t know you could go. Don’t never see one in real life. Same thing I think about the recruiting problems, this is a I’m leaping uh, but foster care is another good example. No recruitment process. They recruit in churches and then when you know because we were going to do a thing on foster care, campaign zero and I’m making calls and I’m like, I get why y’all don’t have no volunteers. I’m like, where do you recruit? They’re like, church. You’re like, well, no, no, no surprise that 70 year olds are not fostering 13 year olds. That makes total sense to me. Do you know what I mean like what 50 year old can take? You know, like you don’t even you’re not even getting to 30 year olds. You don’t even have a touchpoint with 40. If you don’t you don’t know those people. You’re not re– they’re not even turning down foster care. They don’t even know the process, do you know what I mean?
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save The People is coming.
De’Ara Balenger: So y’all my news is kind of, you know, vibing off of what we talked about last week around the L.A. City Council folks who um the the president in particular, who made some very racist um and offensive comments against uh Black folks and Indigenous folks. There’s this article that um was circulating a lot online with my Latino friends in the L.A. Times, but it it talks about basically this racial reckoning that’s happening in Mexico. Um. And as we know, those city council people were Mexican. And so this article goes into, you know, kind of exploring racism, but also colonialism. And how that is is kind of what was export like. It’s it’s Latin America’s version of slavery. And so it start the article starts with, you know, this story about this restaurant where evidently at the restaurant they were seating lighter skinned Mexicans and at better tables, which is I feel like that’s something that still happens in America. That’s kind of like one of the oldest forms of discrimination. Get your paper get your brown paper bag out before you come to this establishment.
Myles Johnson: Goodness gracious.
De’Ara Balenger: And so but there was this whole thing that erupted online. Right? So there’s these conversations that are happening in Mexico, because in Mexico, they like there’s this whole cultural notion that racism doesn’t exist. Right. And so it’s based off of this, like, foundational myth that it’s people are mestizos, like a single blended race of Indigenous and Spanish blood. Um. And because everybody has the same mix, we’re all the same. And there can’t be racism. Y’all know that don’t sound right. Y’all already know they don’t sound right. So um another effort online has also been circulating and gaining momentum. And folks on Twitter and TikTok are calling out companies and celebrities for discrimination. Um. And a new term has been popular, popularized, called white whitexican, a mix of words with white and Mexican, obviously. But it’s referred to the nation’s wealthy, more light skinned elite. And so, you know, they’re going after folks in entertainment in particular, because it’s the way folks are represented in culture in Mexico is that, you know, the heroes and the heroines are always lighter skinned folks and then darker skinned folks those roles are, you know, housekeeper, you know, kind of more manual laborers. And it’s also this conversation is also really gaining momentum because the president of Mexico is a darker skinned Mexican. Now, I just looked him up just to remember what he look like. He’s dark skinned, y’all like Al B. Sure! is dark skinned.
Myles Johnson: Oh god.
De’Ara Balenger: Like. He’s dark skinned like Kid from Kid n’ Play.
Myles Johnson: Oh, goodness.
De’Ara Balenger: He’s dark skinned.
Kaya Henderson: The article calls him a tan mexican.
De’Ara Balenger: Like nah maybe. After two weeks in the sun.
Kaya Henderson: Mmm.
De’Ara Balenger: But nah nah. So, anyway, so it’s just. It’s interesting. This article goes on and on and on. Just talking about the history, obviously, of colonialism within Latin America um and how Mexicans have really been taught to live in this post-racial society. And even in 1994, the country’s representative to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination acknowledged that classism and sexism were prevalent in Mexico, but the phenomenon of racial discrimination did not exist in Mexico. And so the writer of this article goes on to then talk about like all these statistics where it’s like lighter skinned Mexicans are paid more money, lighter skinned Mexicans have more opportunity. Like there’s all of these numbers that basically affirm that darker skinned Mexicans, Afro-Mexicans are discriminated against, but still it’s just like it’s not even comprehendible to the great majority of Mexicans that this is a thing. And it’s so funny because this is something Paola and I talk about all the time. Paola’s Mexican side, they’re in Mexico City, my Mexican side, y’all, they were migrant workers and we ended up in Saint Paul, Minnesota. So even our conversations around Mexican is very, very different. Um. But she just did a story um about what’s happening to Haitians at the Mexican border. Right. And so what was very what was what came through in that story was that there’s so much racism in Mexico against Haitians, but they don’t know. They don’t have the language and they don’t have an understanding for when something is racist. And so it’s like they are I don’t I just feel like Latin America is like even further behind this conversation, like even even further behind than Europe. It’s just like, no, that can’t be. That’s not it. We’re all the same. And it’s and it is it’s frustrating, but it’s also like, where do folks go? Because where, since there isn’t like these rigid categories around race, like how can you start to have a conversation that one impacts policy, that one impacts culture about this? I don’t I just wanted to bring this to the pod because I feel like it just was such a continuation from what happened in L.A. and how this racism in Latin American culture countries is then exported here to the United States. And so, you know, we’re obviously seeing a greater number of of Latino people supporting the right. And a lot of that is based off of, you know, a little bit of what’s natural around colonialism seeping through in the form of white supremacy.
Kaya Henderson: This takes me straight back to college, this issue of white proximity. And it’s not just in the Latino culture, but it is prevalent in the Latino culture because this message of we’re not racist, we’re classist, but we’re not racist seems to absolve people from, you know, it it allows it allows folks to point to America for being so bad about being racist. And like classism is not such a bad thing, except when all of the low class people are dark and all of the upper class people are white. You call it racism, I call it class. You call it classism. I call it racism. Y’all, I got a B in a class because I had this teacher, I’m a Latin American studies major. I had a teacher who told me that there was no racism in Latin America, only classism. And we had a big argument in class at which I had a well constructed article, with uh ar– arguement with with clear evidence to support across a whole thing. I dusted this lady in class, right? [laugther] And literally like my whole class was like, woo hoo, yay, you’re right. You’re right, you’re right. You’re right. And then that same question showed up on the final and I had a decision to make. Do I write what I know the lady wants me to write or do I write what I know is good and right? And I had to stand up for my beliefs, to look my friend DeRay says I will never betray my oh myself, whatever. And I was like, I’m going in hard. And I reiterated and I had an A in that class, I got a B on the final because she just put a big red X through my thing and I was like, you know what, I’m just going to take it. And my mother was like, you got a B in this? And I was like, listen, sis, this lady tried to say there was no racism and I just can’t stand for it. Um. I studied abroad in Venezuela where I saw firsthand I [indistinct]–
De’Ara Balenger: Venezuela?
Kaya Henderson: In Venezuela. I studied abroad in Mexico, where I saw it firsthand, I I studied abroad in Spain, where I saw it firsthand, like there is no you can call it whatever you want to call it. Um. But this idea that that that class matters more than race is some B.S.. I mean, even and it’s not just Blackness, right? It is indigeneity. You saw all of the stuff that happened with Roma, which was a beautiful and moving film and was so important um at the time for lifting up Indigenous actresses and actors. I guess we don’t say actresses anymore. Have you noticed that, there’s a shift like we only talk about actors, there’s no actresses. But, you know, to watch how the Mexican actors responded to the the positivity that uh this Indigenous woman who was the main character in Roma. I mean, they just shat on her and it, you know, and that is all acceptable. Um. Reserving tables for light skinned people does– best tables for light skinned like this is all acceptable. This is what’s happening all over the place. And so to say that you can’t confront racism if you don’t actually believe racism exists. And so I think we’ve got a long way to go um and I think De’Ara you know, every time you talk about being a Blackexican, um I thought it was interesting that they raised the the the term whitexican in the–
De’Ara Balenger: Mm hmm.
Kaya Henderson: –in the article. But it is a really powerful statement that you are both Black and Mexican and that the intersectionality of those two of those two identities is really, really important. And so if anybody needs somebody to go in a foxhole with them on racism in Latin America, I’m your girl.
DeRay Mckesson: I will say um this is just such a reminder that anti-Blackness is global and the way it shows up is different. But does it show up? It does. Right. And and we can’t be afraid of naming it and talking about it because the consequences of it are are very real, even when it’s difficult. And I think that that’s when as an organizer, one of the things that I’ve been really surprised about is how hard it has been to explain anti-Blackness to like, you know, people in my family and stuff like that who it just sounds so, you know, this idea of like personal responsibility really has people in a chokehold. It really like this idea that people made bad choices. And that is why poverty exists. And that’s the way the system looks like that has really gotten people. People are there and it’s not true. But that message got seeded so well, so early, and so much of our work is undoing that.
De’Ara Balenger: And I’ll just say this last thing, because you know how I love to talk about something that’s related but not related. I was watching Frida on the way home from wherever I was traveling from, and in Frida, of course, I love Frida Kahlo like we all do. So we know Salma Hayek plays Frida, but Ashley Judd plays a Mexican woman. So does Valeria Golino, who is an Italian, as well as Mía Maestro, who is an Argentinean woman. And we know Argentinians are very light.
Kaya Henderson: [indistinct]
De’Ara Balenger: So I was on the plane losing it because I hadn’t seen this movie in so long and I’m like, is Ashley Judd really speaking with a Spanish accent? Is this what Hollywood is doing?
Myles Johnson: Mm mm.
De’Ara Balenger: But I feel like that is also like that is right. Like that is the culmination of all of it, like America’s white supremacy, Latin America, Latinos like find this okay with white people portraying Latin like Mexicans. We got work to do.
Myles Johnson: Yeah. The one thing that I’ll that I’ll push on and I don’t I don’t think that it was intentional is. I think when I think it’s like half. Just speaking as like a Black American, I think it’s like half like xenophobia a little bit but then also it’s kind of like this protection of white supremacy. When people talk about anti-Blackness in other places that are not America specifically places like um like like Mexico. And they’ll say, like, they don’t know any better or like it’s just so hard for them to understand and stuff like that. And I always think to myself, well, if somebody has a critical awareness to know that they’re being oppressed and there’s a dark– black people knowing that, oh, this is not fair, we are being oppressed. I tend to lean towards thinking that there are people who are who have the capacity to be racially aware enough to know that they are they are oppressing. And I think that sometimes the feeling of ignorance is um beneficial to help keep those systems and those dynamics established and to kind of gaslight people into thinking that you’re just making things up or that’s not really how it really is. You know, even though, like um auntie Kaya said, racism very much so leans on like classism leans on racism, and it needs each other. And we know places like um like India make it even more blatant because they, the caste system is very uh blatent about joining colorism, anti-Blackness and classism and poverty. So yeah, I just think that I wanted to push on that because I think sometimes we can–
DeRay Mckesson: Infantilize.
Myles Johnson: Infantilize. Oh DeRay, with the degree. Oh with the– [laughter] Oh.
De’Ara Balenger: That good old white degree.
Myles Johnson: Oh my gosh. [laughter] Dusted that one off for me. Um. [laughing] But I think sometimes we can end up um infantilizing uh people who are being vehicles for white white supremacy by saying that they don’t have the the capacity to be critical aware of, be critically aware around these like issues. And I and I know that they can be it just benefits them by not engaging with it in a certain way because, you know, if you pretend it doesn’t exist, then it can uh feed and grow for longer and bigger.
DeRay Mckesson: My news, I’m always I’m not I’m never shocked by this stuff, but I’m always surprised. So uh as you can imagine, this is another racism in health care, that there is a new study out that shows that Black patients were less likely to be referred for and receive heart pumps and transplants than white people. And it’s just another reminder of the way systemic racism shows up in the medical field. And the reason this matters is that Black patients have higher rates of heart failure and are more likely to die than white patients. But the disparities in access are actually just so prevalent and this study uncovered them for one of the first times in a really big way. And what the study shows is that Black patients got less care even when they had access, which is wild, adequate insurance, and expressed a desire to get coverage uh get treatment. And the reason that this matters is that we often are we like society pathologizes the way that Black people experience pain and sickness and illness in society. And it becomes this idea that you didn’t care, you didn’t put in the energy, you didn’t go, you didn’t do the things that you needed to do to become healthy. So death, early death just becomes a byproduct of really bad choices. And what this study shows that is so important is that even when Black people have access, go, want treatment, even with all of those things, the system is so biased that they get less referrals, less transplants, and less heart pumps. And what the study did is that they studied 377 patients receiving treatment for heart failure at 21 medical centers who were in an NIH uh clinical trial. 100 of the patients were Black, and just 11 of them received a heart transplant or ventricular assist device. 22% of the remaining white patients received a heart plant heart pump or transplant. So I just brought it here because it’s one of the things I saw. Um. It was interesting to me. I was like, Wow, it’s another example of the system discriminating against Black people and I wanted to bring it to the pod.
Myles Johnson: Yeah, I think that one of the general, one of the causes of our generation, as cliche and corny as that sounds that Black people are facing, is with the medical industry. And I always teter behind, like, between like, you know, doing things to change the medical industry. But then also, I don’t know, like at like I think that we need to like really take seriously building hospitals and I think that it’s the more the more I hear about stuff like this, the more I just don’t I don’t think that will ever change. I don’t think that how uh white supremacy shows up in in the medical industry is like can change. I just genuinely do not. And I think that because we live in a society or excuse me because we live in a moment where Black people um a lot, so I’ll say some Black people have the most resources we ever that we ever have seen um and some obviously do not. I think that that is like where the attention should go. It’s scar– like when I think what I think about this story when I think about um when I think about Black mothers, when I think about uh just like how Fatphobia and anti-Blackness both kind of just sit together in the medical industry. I, I think you’re going to be looking at a lot of pain and a lot of death if there’s not this kind of, I don’t know, this, like the the spirit to, like, make our own. And I know that’s like a cliche that organizers and people named Myles E. Johnson are tired of hearing people say, but this is the one place where I’ve really still believed that the only answer is to make your own. When it comes to Black folks navigating the medical history, I think the relationship is too rotten.
Kaya Henderson: Myles, I will um piggyback on that. Not just that the relationship is rotten, but even when we have our own hospitals. I live in Washington, D.C., where Howard University Hospital had been one of the pioneering hospitals for Black people in America. Right. Um. So many medical advances happened at Howard University Hospital because they were training Black doctors and Howard’s dental school and whatnot. And the the finest physicians of color were coming out of this institution um and they were asking questions about, you know, they were asking health questions that nobody else was asking for Black people because nobody else cared. And yet and still, you know, I just googled Howard University Hospital and, you know, the hospital workers were striking and the you know, it’s it is now one of the it’s like the least favorable place to go when you are uh when you need medical help because it’s been underfunded and it has, you know, and there are still, it’s a great research hospital and they are still pioneering treatments and quest– and questions for the Black health industry. But it literally has been under I mean, this understaffed, under resourced, under capacity, under all kinds of things. And so it’s not just that we need to run our own. It is that the levels of investment that are needed for us to have cutting edge um health care, especially when we suffer disproportionately so many different health disparities like nobody’s interested in investing in our hospitals to provide the kind of care that we need. I also worry I have a friend who is who is the dean of diversity, equity and inclusion or something at a major medical school where the dean of the medical school is also African-American. It’s a predominantly white institution. And like to this day, they are battling the idea that in 2022, their medical students think that Black people feel pain differently. Right. Like this stuff is so insidious that even when we’re in leadership, even when we have the ability, the policymaking ability to make changes, behavioral change, after centuries of this ingrained messaging around black people in health care is I don’t I don’t know how to undo it.
De’Ara Balenger: I agree with all of this. But I think the other even with having more equity in our health care system, we also then have to look at the environment and food and accessibility, because what is, what’s leading to heart disease is diabetes, high blood pressure, which we have predominantly more in Black communities. There is a, I’m trying to find it. I was listening to NPR this morning, but there was, I think it’s a Gallup poll that just came out that said America’s biggest, looking at America’s biggest food companies and what’s on the shelves in supermarkets. Americans are only getting, I think it was 60, 60% of the nutritional whatever we’re supposed to get. So it’s just it’s even in just thinking of Heinz, Kellogg, General Mills, like all of our big food providers, they’re actually not providing us food that is healthy because they’re not incentivized to. Right. And so I think all of these things are going in to it right? It is. It’s the stress of racism, the stress of these racist institutions. It’s the lack of food access. It’s the it’s it’s all of it. Right. That that leads us to having more of these diseases. And then when you look at the hospitals and how we get treated, the further inequity contin– you know, inequity continues there. So thanks for always bringing us up DeRay, we really appreciate it.
DeRay Mckesson: You know, just gotta. Somebody got to. Somebody [laughter] gotta tell the truth. [laughter]
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save The People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. 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 was a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Veronica Simonetti and executive produced by me. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles Johnson.