The Hurdles to Black Homeownership (with Alzo Slade and Malaika Jabali) | Crooked Media
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June 01, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
The Hurdles to Black Homeownership (with Alzo Slade and Malaika Jabali)

In This Episode

Vice News reporter Alzo Slade joins Damon to discuss how and why buying — or even renting — a home can be so hard for Black people in this country. Then, political analyst Malaika Jabali makes her Dear Damon debut to help Damon break down and assess what “chivalry” actually means in 2023.





Damon Young: My car got repossessed. 


Alzo Slade: Mmm. 


Damon Young: Back when you know I was a freelancer. And sometimes you get paid, sometimes you wouldn’t. And you make decisions about like, okay, well, I need to pay my rent. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: But my car payment, they’re not going to come and take your car after a couple of months. 


Alzo Slade: And they’re like, watch this. [laughs]


Damon Young: Exactly. And then one day I wake up, I go out to my car it’s gone. I call the cops. I’m like, yo, someone stole my car. You can almost hear the cop on the other end like, nigga. [laughter] You’re broke ass. You weren’t a victim of a crime. Maybe crime of being broke. [laughs] Welcome back everyone to Stuck with Damon Young. The show where we’re all dealing with PTBD, post traumatic brokenness disorder. So housing is a human right? Well, it should be a human right. And like many other rights in this country, Black Americans have had restricted and conditional access to housing for as long as we’ve been here. Redlining, loan denial, criminal background checks. I mean, the list is endless because the list is arbitrary, because the list just continues to grow, because they continue to find new ways for us to be discriminated against and denied. And to talk about some of the barriers in place for us to own homes and sometimes even just to rent. I’m joined by Vice news correspondent Alzo Slade who, like me, has also had an intimate relationship with home based discrimination. And then for dear Damon, I’m joined by Essence magazine Senior Politics Editor Malaika Jabali. As we put our heads together to try to see if the concept of a chivalry needs any updates. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] Alzo Slade is a correspondent at Vice News, among many other things. I mean, you could see him. [laughs] If you’re ever in Eaton Hotel in DC, you will see him on a screen somewhere and on television screens near you. Alzo. Do you remember the first time we met? 


Alzo Slade: Was it at a party? 


Damon Young: It was at Essence Fest. 


Alzo Slade: Essence Fest? Yes.


Damon Young: It was at Essence Fest. I was kicking it with Jamilah Lemieux.


Alzo Slade: She’s the homie. 


Damon Young: And we went into one of the bars on the main strip. And you happened to be inside there. And we start talking and you invited me to your grits and biscuits party later, I think it was either later that night or the next day. 


Alzo Slade: Right. Right.


Damon Young: And so I never been to one, but I heard of it. I’m going to throw our producers under the bus really quickly too [laughter] my producers, Morgan and Ryan, who are both millennials, young millennials, but millennials who had never heard of this party. 


Alzo Slade: Black millennials?


Damon Young: Yes, Black. Exactly. Because I brought up the story when I knew you were going to be a guest and they were like grits and biscuits? And I’m like, do I do I got the right producers for this show? 


Alzo Slade: [laughs] Right, right. 


Damon Young: You know, you know what I mean. Y’all are supposed to tell me about shit. I’m not supposed to tell y’all. Y’all are supposed to keep me, you know informed, keep me hip or whatever. So anyway, I go to this party, you know, it’s live whatever it’s at the House of Blues in New Orleans. And you did something on a mic because you were emceeing that I had never seen in a party before. I think maybe Back That Thang Up was about to come on one of those types of songs, right? 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm, mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And you reminded all the fellas to get consent before they went up behind somebody and started dancing. 


Alzo Slade: That’s right. Yeah. 


Damon Young: And I’ve been to dozens of parties, frat parties in college, club parties, you know, as an adult. But I never heard emcee say that before. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean, and again, I’m not saying that you’re the only one who did it. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Damon Young: But that was the first time that I experienced that. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. Yeah. 


Damon Young: And so one I just wanted to acknowledge that. 


Alzo Slade: Nah, I appreciate it, bro. 


Damon Young: And also just ask you, like, what was the genesis of you making sure to deliver that message at your parties? 


Alzo Slade: Well, first I think it’s, at grits and biscuits. When we started that party, we wanted to make sure that it was a safe space for anyone who just wanted to come and get loose. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: Because we started it in 2010 and a lot of upwardly mobile Negroes that just want to come get lose they’re doctors, lawyers, professors, nurses, you know, teachers. And for us it was just of the utmost importance that people felt safe. And, you know, the kind of music we play is, you know, it got that bottom in it, that base, you know what I’m saying? And when you hear that when you hear that Southern hip hop. 


Damon Young: Uh huh. 


Alzo Slade: When those sisters hear that, you know this is for the 99, 2000 you already know what’s about to happen. [laughter] You know what I’m saying the booty is about to drop. And, you know, you got a lot of single brothers in there that’s thirsty and is like, listen, we know where we at. We know what folks is doing. But let’s be 100% clear that this is a safe space. And these these women, is grown, these women ain’t fucking around. And so if you trying to if you an approach one first, you need to have your A-game. But most importantly it’s like we ain’t in high school. You ain’t just about to run up on no booties and think is okay. You don’t touch unless you’ve been given explicit permission. And if there is any doubt, if there’s any sliver of doubt, you just stand back and admire. [laughter]


Damon Young: I feel that. I’m just thinking back of my own, you know, days I don’t I don’t go out as much anymore. But when I did go out particularly when I was younger in my teens and twenties or whatever, and consent was always a thing, but it wasn’t as I guess, aggressive consent. You know. In terms of making sure that the person that you’re dancing with is okay. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: With you dancing? Like the consent would be if she turned around and looked, and continued to dance. Right. And that was acknowledgment that she wasn’t upset enough. 


Alzo Slade: Right. Right. 


Damon Young: To go another way. You know what I mean? And the thing is, in hindsight, thinking of those circumstances, it could have been circumstances where someone did look back. It was like, you know what, I’m not really feeling this, but I don’t want to make a scene either. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, yeah.


Damon Young: Yeah. I don’t want to make a scene. I don’t know how this nigga’s going to react. 


Alzo Slade: How the dude going to react. Yeah, yeah. 


Damon Young: And so I’m just going to go along, dance [?] these couple of songs and maybe try to separate that. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And so there is that danger, that fear that also needs to be acknowledged. But again, I just wanted to bring that up because again, I had like 20 years of clubbing. Not 20 years, I’d say from like 17 to about 28 where I was in the clubs. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, that’s a good window. That’s a good strong window. 


Damon Young: So about ten, 11 years. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah yeah yeah.


Damon Young: Of time spent and I never heard somebody say that. So kudos. 


Alzo Slade: I appreciate it. I appreciate you, you know, acknowledging that, you know, we just try to make it fun and safe for folks. 


Damon Young: This is the craziest segue ever. But, you know, I want to talk to you [laughter] about housing inequality. And I mean. 


Alzo Slade: Hey we don’t need no segue when you got your toes in a lot of things like you do, you know, you don’t need no segue. You just go from one to the next. 


Damon Young: Well, you know what, though? It is related because these are both progressive ideas and causes. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean? Where obviously they exist on different ends of the spectrum, but these are all part of, you know, just making the world safer. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Right. Making the world better, making vulnerable people less vulnerable. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Right. So it is kind of the same conversation. You want to look at it that way. But I’m curious, you know, I watch your two minute segment on Vice about housing inequality, but I want to talk to you about your own personal experience with that. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Now, are you a homeowner? 


Alzo Slade: I am. Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: What was that process like for you? Can you just walk me through what made you decide to buy a home, what that process was like for you? If there were any roadblocks or any, like, racially problematic shit that happened to you while you were going through the process. 


Alzo Slade: You know, it’s interesting. When I graduated from college, I didn’t drink, smoke, none of that. And so my first job, I just was saving money. I stayed with my mom for like eight months and stacked paper and I was just like, I think I’ll buy a house. I bought my first crib at 22. 


Damon Young: Oh, wow. Okay. 


Alzo Slade: There were no barriers, then, ended up getting rid of it and going to graduate school. And then I rented until I bought the house that I’m in now. And surprisingly enough, it was the rental process where I experienced more discrimination then in housing, because I think when you are trying to buy a home, you know, obviously you’re looking at, you know, areas that are safe and whatever. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And I’m in L.A. and I was like, when I walk out the door, I want to see some kinfolks, you know? And so this home is in a Black legacy neighborhood, which is, you know, gentrification is moving in, you know, to be certain. But the barriers to entry for homeownership, it was just the bread. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And I think that is a significant barrier to entry for a lot of kinfolks is like, you just got to have some bread stacked up for a down payment. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Alzo Slade: There are a lot of folks out here, you know, Black, brown or otherwise that are paying rent in the same amount that or more that some folks are paying for mortgage because they have that income monthly, but they don’t have the chips stacked up for that foundation, for that down payment, you know? 


Damon Young: Yeah. Now, were your people, homeowners, did you come from that environment like where it was almost like an expectation that once you were done with college, you were going to you know, and I’m asking because I’m thinking of my own experience also. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah yeah yeah. Speak on. 


Damon Young: Where like the house I live in. I bought it in 2018, five years ago. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But up until really three months before buying the house, I never consider myself like, a person who would own a house. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: I didn’t come from my parents when I was growing up. They didn’t own. They rented and we lived in several different places and then they end up buying a house when I was in my twenties. But then they defaulted on their loan. They were part of that subprime lending crisis where a lot of people got kicked out of their homes. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: That happened to them in 2011. So I’m not going to quite say that we were housing insecure. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: But housing always felt like just this dream. Homeownership felt like a dream. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And maybe dream is too strong a word, but it just didn’t feel like something that was accessible or available to me. Even as I started making enough money to have cash and do whatever, it still didn’t feel accessible to me and I feel like that’s a part of this conversation, too, where you have people who maybe have made enough money or have the credit or whatever, but there’s that invisible barrier, right? Obviously you have the racism. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Right. Obviously, you have, you know, all of this stuff that is connected to that. Right. But then there’s like, is this shit even for me? 


Alzo Slade: I feel you. If it’s not in the cultural fabric of your upbringing, like you don’t know what you don’t know, you know. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And so you have to learn that. And I think my upbringing was similar to yours in terms of parents owning a home like I was born into a home that my parents owned. But then we went to apartments and then parents got divorced and pops was in the apartment. Mom kept the house and then she went into apartment because she moved and so it wasn’t until I went to college where I remember my mom, she took me and my little brother to this subdivision in Houston where she was getting a house built, and it blew my mind like it was a two story house, front yard, backyard. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: I’d never imagine living in anything like that. And we weren’t poor, like, proper middle class, maybe upper middle class. And my mom went further along in her graduate studies and got more degrees that came with more money. And so she was able to, you know, improve our way of life. But when I graduated, it was simply I had money in the bank at 22 and I didn’t know what else to do with it. And I was like, well they ain’t making land no more. So I might as well buy me a piece, you know what I’m saying? [laughs]


Damon Young: Yeah, I guess what flipped the switch for me was like, I started writing full time in 2011, right? 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And before that, I had like various, like education related jobs, none of which paid me over like 35K a year. All right. Now I live in Pittsburgh. And the standard of living is somewhat lower than it is in bigger cities or whatever. But still, you know, 35K a year is not a whole lot of money. And I started writing full time in like 2010, 2011. Wasn’t making nothing. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Enough to like, pay my rent and go to brunch like once every three months or whatever, and then, you know, progressively start making some more money. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: By like 2015, I was probably making about 50, 52 year, which still that’s enough to live on. But that’s not really particularly if you’re working as a freelancer and you’re getting like all of these random ass checks and sometimes you’re having gaps in payment and then sometimes you have a month to be getting a whole lot of money. It’s just—


Alzo Slade: Talk about it, folks don’t know that life [laughter] folks don’t know that life.


Damon Young: Yeah, it is hard to actually set a foundation when you have that sort of tenuous financial situation. 


Alzo Slade: Mhm. 


Damon Young: Right. And I think a lot of people now, you know, particularly with like the gig economy are in that same boat where you’re not having as many motherfuckers who graduate from college step into a job. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Work there for 30 years. 


Alzo Slade: Mhm. 


Damon Young: Get the pension, get the 401k all that settled and then they retire at like 57. That sort of shit doesn’t exist in the same capacity. So you have all these people that are hustling, all these people who are grinding. Right. And like how do you buy a home when something like that happens. And so for me the switch that flipped was I got a pretty substantial book deal in 2016. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And then in 2017 I sold Very Smart Brothas my blog to Univision, and that was also for a pretty substantial chunk of money. So I had cash where I was able to buy home, but I still didn’t think, you know what this is for me, even though I had finally had money or enough money to do that, I still didn’t think it was for me until someone at my bank called me and was like you were pre-approved for a loan. And this was in early 2018. 


Alzo Slade: So you didn’t think it was for you. Was that like related to somewhat of an imposter syndrome or you just be like, it just wasn’t in your view? 


Damon Young: I think it’s maybe a little bit of both. 


Alzo Slade: Hmm. 


Damon Young: And I got along without necessarily thinking it was accessible. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: That once it was accessible, it still didn’t feel real. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: And also, I had credit issues that, again, a lot of us had, you know, I’ll admit that my parents use my name for stuff when I was a teenager. That kind of jacked shit up. 


Alzo Slade: Yep. 


Damon Young: You know, I was one of them niggas who signed up for, like the free credit cards in college. 


Alzo Slade: Freshman year. [laughs]


Damon Young: Got the T-shirt.


Alzo Slade: T-shirt and years of debt. [laughter]


Damon Young: Get some CDs [laughter] know what I mean. Think I bought N.O.R.E., Mobb Deep. 


Alzo Slade: It’s crazy, though, to think like when you’ve lived with less money for so long where even, dare I say, broke, when you’ve been living broke for so long and you come into some money, some cats, they go crazy with the money. But then other cat you calculated and you like. I still got a broke disposition, so it’s difficult for me to even consider or comprehend. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: Spending this amount of money on something because I don’t know when it’s gonna come again. 


Damon Young: Yeah. And it’s something that, like, even today, like, okay, my car got repossessed. 


Alzo Slade: Mm. 


Damon Young: Back in like 2012, like back when I was a freelancer. And sometimes you get paid, sometimes you wouldn’t, you know, sometimes people would be late paying you and you make decisions about like, okay, well, I need to pay my rent, I need to pay my Internet bill cause I need that to work. But my car payment, I can go a couple of months. They’re not going to come and take your car after a couple of months.


Alzo Slade: They’re like, watch this. [laughter]


Damon Young: Exactly. That couple months turned into three. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And then one day I wake up, I go out to my car it’s gone, I call the cops. I’m like, yo, someone stole my car. You can almost hear the cop on the other end like, nigga. [laughter] You’re broke ass fuck. Shit got repoed. 


Alzo Slade: They’re like bro let me just ask you one or two questions, then we going to get to the bottom of this. 


Damon Young: Yeah. [laughs] You weren’t a victim of a crime motherfucker. You were maybe the crime of being broke. [laughter]


Alzo Slade: You know. What are you talking about? Working as a freelancer. Them jokers talking about we pay you in 30 days net, I’m like, bro. Mm mm.


Damon Young: Man. 


Alzo Slade: And I need me, me, now. [laughter]


Damon Young: And so I ended up getting the car back. 


Alzo Slade: Mm. 


Damon Young: But I still to this day, right now, if I hear like a beep, beep, beep of a truck backing up in the street, I feel something in here. 


Alzo Slade: Your heart drops. 


Damon Young: And my car’s paid for right now. 


Alzo Slade: You’ve been traumatized, bro. [laughs] 


Damon Young: Yeah, it is that trauma. And I think that, you know, when I’m thinking about my own experience with that at home and thinking about whether or not it was even accessible to me. All of that shit’s related, right? All of it is. And I’m wondering, like, I don’t know, like with your work, how much of that have you seen, you know, in terms of people feeling like. Having the means right, having things in place but still feel and not necessarily like unworthy. You’re not necessarily feeling like an imposter syndrome, but just feeling like this trauma that they can necessarily find themselves out of. 


Alzo Slade: Well, there’s a couple of ways to answer that question. I can treat that question as an abstraction and just look at the trauma that people have experienced from stories that I’ve covered across the board. But specifically with, you know, the story that I recently did for Vice on Showtime, it was around housing discrimination specifically, and it was related to folks with criminal background. 


Damon Young: Mm. 


Alzo Slade: Criminal records, that’s layered trauma. Yeah. I’m not sure how you would want me to answer that question.


Damon Young: I mean answer it whichever way. You said you have multiple ways, let’s here them both. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. So just specifically, as we’re speaking within the context of housing and housing discrimination. Like bro it’s pretty bad dog. I ain’t even going to hold you. Most of the stories I cover, they’re they’re pretty difficult. They’re stories that need to be told. But that doesn’t make them easy to tell. And this one is this one is around. Landlords who use criminal background checks in their application process. And statistically, there are nearly 90% of landlords in this country use criminal records like criminal background checks in their application process. And then I didn’t know this before. Like about one in three Americans have a criminal record. And then you add to that the racial biases of the American justice system, and you can put two and two together. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And know that, you know, Black folks getting screwed. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: When they looking for housing, we’re not even talking about bank loans. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: We’re not even at redlining yet. We just talking about an apartment. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: You know, there’s this brother Yusef that we followed and this brother. He got locked up for five years for drug distribution charge 25 years ago since then the brother got a master’s degree at Princeton. He’s a single father with a very smart, talented, athletic daughter, plays basketball, and he was in the real estate game. He owned some some units and rented them out to folks in the company that he was working for they moved him to Allentown, Pennsylvania. 


Damon Young: Okay. 


Alzo Slade: And eventually he wanted to buy a home, but he didn’t know Allentown well enough to know where he would want to buy. So he and his daughter they’re like, well, yeah, let’s just rent. You know? And parents are looking to live somewhere in the new city school district is the first thing they look at, you know, where are the best schools? And so he found a dynamic, you know, high performing school in the area and he tried to rent in their neighborhood, denied, denied, denied. And the only place where he could get approved was a neighborhood where Pennsylvania deemed the high school to be below par, well below. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And so then he had to end up paying. I mean, he had the financial means, but he pays for his child to go to private school. 


Damon Young: And this is someone who is, quote unquote, “the model renter” you know what I mean. Gainfully employed. Ivy League grad, single dad. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But still thriving child. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: You know, looking to put their child in a high performance school. And again, this is someone that you would on paper. 


Alzo Slade: Right. 


Damon Young: Everything that could be checked is checked except for he’s Black. 


Alzo Slade: What’s crazy is like statistics show that if you’ve committed a crime and you were locked up you got released and you haven’t committed a crime in 5 to 6 years, the probability of you committing a crime again is the same probability as you and I committing a crime. People who have never committed one. 


Damon Young: I’m wondering, though I guess I misspoke earlier about Black you know what denied him was his criminal record. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: But it’s like in my head, I mixed those two things up because I feel like they’re part of the same thing. Like this is. It’s kind of like them clothes back in a day that was like, you know what no baggy jeans, no chains, no—


Alzo Slade: Right. 


Damon Young: —no Timberlands. It’s like, you know what they’re saying? 


Alzo Slade: [laughs] Right. 


Damon Young: And so when you know what America is and you have a policy that denies people who have been incarcerated for any reason from renting, then you are essentially discriminating against Black people, like you’re not coming out and saying it. 


Alzo Slade: Right. 


Damon Young: You know what I mean? 


Alzo Slade: That’s a good analogy. Yeah.


Damon Young: But having that policy gives you the wiggle room. Where maybe you can rent to a white person who might have been incarcerated. But if there’s a Black person, you could say, well, this is the policy. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: It’s not about race. This is it’s the policy. 


Alzo Slade: Most of the stories that I like to cover exist in the gray. You know, they’re nuanced. They’re layered. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: So Seattle’s one of the few cities that prohibited landlords from using criminal background checks in their application process. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: So I’ll put this question to you, Damon. If you are a landlord, would you want to know if the person that you are potentially renting to has a criminal record? 


Damon Young: I. So my answer. Okay. [laughs] My answer is that I think I think context matters. You know what I mean? Like, I think that if this person was a recently released sex offender, then I think I should know that. 


Alzo Slade: Well, so you can bracket sex offender because they’re on a registry. 


Damon Young: All right. I think it would depend on the crime and it would depend on when they were incarcerated. Like—


Alzo Slade: So you would want to know. 


Damon Young: But I wouldn’t be a landlord. 


Alzo Slade: No. That ain’t the question. [laughter] You’re trying to put that thing in reverse. 


Damon Young: Well, that’s the thing is like that’s a sort of occupation I don’t think that I would pursue because I would want to know now what I would do with that information. Would I bar people from renting or whatever just because they had a criminal record? No. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: But I like information. Yeah, that’s just me. I like to know things. So, yeah, I think I would want to know. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: How about you? 


Alzo Slade: Well, we spoke to renters and landlords in this piece. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: You know, they had some interesting perspectives. One young lady, she. Her family has a nice sized home, and they have an additional unit that’s a part of the house. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: And they have children. And in the case like that, if I was in her shoes. Yes, I would want to know if this person had a criminal record. And to your point. Context matters. So I would want to know, but I wouldn’t want to be hamstrung by the government telling me that I can’t know at all. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: Like, give me the license to work it out with this person. But the problem is, how many people are like that? Who are landlords who will extend themselves in that way and give some level of grace and opportunity to someone who has a criminal record? You know. 


Damon Young: I feel like if I were a renter, I would want to know if my landlord had a record. Like, I feel like that’s pertinent information, too. And that’s maybe under-discussed in this conversation. You know, now, obviously, the landlord, you know, in this circumstance, particularly when you’re trying to find a home, has more power, I guess, in terms of, you know, because you’re on the market for something and they can decide whether or not to sell you, this good. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: But I think if that information isn’t public, than maybe it should be. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Like, do I want to rent from someone who has a history of theft or a history of violence? 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Is this someone who is trustworthy? Is this someone who I could depend on? Is this someone who is going to try to fuck me out of, you know, some money or, you know, or whatever? 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. I mean, it definitely works in the inverse. Where some slumlords out there for sure. Where, you know, 30 degrees outside and they ain’t turn the radiator on and, you know, they may not be against the law, but them jokers got some cheats for sure. 


Damon Young: Yeah. I mean, housing. I feel like should be a human, right. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. 


Damon Young: If you exist here, then you should have somewhere to sleep, somewhere to lay your head. And this is one of the great absurdities. It’s like I feel like if the alien came. Right. Never been on Earth before. Came to America and saw just all of the riches and all of the wealth and all of the, you know, this prosperity that exists here. And then you told this alien, actually, but, you know, like 5 to 10%. However, many people that are homeless or housing insecure either live outside. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Or are a paycheck away. From being out in the street. 


Alzo Slade: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: It just would not make any sense. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, I agree. So let me ask you this. So you say housing is a human right, like a fundamental right to have a place to live? 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: Within the context of what we’re talking about is not necessarily having a place to live. It’s having a place to live where you want to live and not being told where you can live. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: So the people we spoke to, they have housing. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Alzo Slade: But not where they want to live. 


Damon Young: Is that where you want to live or where you’re able to live? 


Alzo Slade: Well able. If you consider able to be like financial means. 


Damon Young: Yes. Financial means. Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah. So the problem here is that these folks have the financial means, they have the credentials, they have the credit score, they have all of that, but they’re being denied. So they can’t live where they want to live, but they have the ability to live there with regard to what it takes financially. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean. As someone who, you know, I’ve lived this, you’ve lived this, you’ve studied this, you’ve worked on this, you know, obviously on both the renters perspective and the homeowners perspective. Like, I feel like there are some obvious remedies and they have to do with just dismantalization of capitalism, white supremacy, racism. Etc. 


Alzo Slade: Them ain’t easy, them ain’t— [laughs]


Damon Young: Yeah, I mean, they’re easy answers, but not easy to answer. 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Damon Young: I guess, easy to solve. 


Alzo Slade: Right, right, right, right. 


Damon Young: But I’m wondering also if there are some less than obvious remedies, like maybe things that could be done in a more immediate way that help remedy some of these disparities. 


Alzo Slade: I’m picking up, what you’re putting down, is a layer problem. Like. The brother who wanted to move out of this neighborhood where there’s a poor performing school. Why is the school poor performing? Because. 


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: The property taxes are low. Why are the property taxes low? Because they’re not a lot of homeowners there? But why are there not a lot of homeowners there because it’s mostly a Black neighborhood where folks is, you know, they go in to the check cashing place in and they renting furniture at 20% interest and they can’t keep money in their pocket in order to buy a home. So, yeah, there’s a lot of layers. And within each one of those layers, there’s a lot of problems that need to be resolved. 


Damon Young: Well, do you have any, like, hidden solutions? I mean, that’s a hard question to ask. [laughs] Know what I mean? I feel like the people who come to my book talks and like, ask me, like, can you solve racism, like motherfucker? I’m I’m just here. 


Alzo Slade: Come on now. Come on now. 


Damon Young: Writing my book. [laughter] You know what I mean, talking to y’all I can’t solve racism. Like, I don’t. I’m sorry. Can’t do that so my bad.


Alzo Slade: Like not today. [laughs]


Damon Young: Yeah. 


Alzo Slade: Can you just listen to the next chapter? 


Alzo Slade: You know, what I’m saying. Next in line for the signing please. [laughter]


Alzo Slade: Yeah, my brother Yusef. We went with him to Capitol Hill. He took the meeting with some Congress folks up there to try to move the needle on some legislation that would begin to remedy some of what’s going on. But we all know that there’s no silver bullet. You got to chip away at this big raggedy ass wall of systemic racism one chip at a time.


Damon Young: Alzo Slade. Thank you for coming through, man. I really appreciate you. Can you tell the people you know, what you got going on, where to find you? 


Alzo Slade: Yeah, well, first of all man, much love and appreciation for you having me on. You know, I’m a fan, and you do your thing for the movement. So on behalf of all kinfolk across the country, I say thank you, my brother. [laughter]


Damon Young: Appreciate it man. 


Alzo Slade: You can find me on social media, mainly on Instagram I really don’t tweet it’s @AlzoSlade on Showtime you can find Vice on Showtime. The story about housing discrimination. And I got a story coming up about cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Be well. 


Damon Young: All right man. Good seeing you.


Alzo Slade: Likewise bro. [music plays]


Damon Young: So up next for dear Damon, I’m joined by the homie Malaika Jabali, senior politics and news editor at Essence magazine. And we tried to advise a person who wants to know if the concept of chivalry needs any updates for 2023. But first, Damon hates. [music plays] So I feel like if you go online or not even just online and in-person in real life, there are a lot of people like me, and by people like me. I mean, Black men who have complained about the rising cost of going to the barber. To give an example of my own experience, I used to pay $10 for haircuts, maybe 12 or 13 with a tip, you know, and this was a pretty consistent thing from the time I was a teenager. I went away to college. And I went to school in Buffalo. The barber shop I went to there, the cuts were maybe about $13. So with a tip brought it up to like 17, but still reasonable. And then I came back home. Haircuts were $10 again. And so now when I get my haircut, I pay about $30. Right. And I’m not the only one who has experienced this inflation with the cost of a haircut. And there are a lot of us who have complained about, you know, why are barbers overcharging us now? You got to be Diddy [laughs] to go to a barber shop and be able to afford a haircut. And I don’t know. I think we need to look at it differently. Like I think that barbers for the service that they provide us have been traditionally and severely underpaid. So when we were paying $10, $12 back in the day. We should have been paying a lot more because just think about the service that a barber provides. I mean, not just were cutting your hair, they could be a psychologist, they could be a dating coach, they could be a fucking personal trainer. [laughs] You know what I mean, there’s so many different functions that your barber can provide along with the added benefit, the psychological boost of having a fresh haircut, of leaving that barber shop, going in looking like Snuffleupagus and leave and film like Idris Elba. And that is priceless. And again, that’s a service that they have provided for us for decades, for centuries, however long, and they’ve been underpaid. And so if you’re a Black man or whoever is getting their hair done and getting their haircut and you are complaining about the rising costs, well, they have to live, too. They have to make a living, too. They have to feed their families, too. And if everyone else is make more money, if everyone else is having to deal with rising food costs and a costs or rent costs and and gas costs and all that, other fuck shit, barbers do, too, I get, you know, complain about the rents too high and, you know, etc., etc.. Yeah, that’s fine. But we need to pay barbers their fair share. And so if you’re overpaying a little bit right now, fine. All that is, is the overcorrection for all the years of underpaying. [music plays] This week on dear Damon, I’m joined by Malaika Jabali who is senior news and politics editor at Essence magazine. She’s also a really good friend. Malaika, what’s good?


Malaika Jabali: [laughs] What’s up Damon? I would say long time no see. But I feel like this has always been our relationship. 


Damon Young: Yeah, like, I feel like we’ve seen each other in person, like, twice, I think. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And we’ve known each other for probably about, like, six years at this point. Six, seven years? 


Malaika Jabali: About seven, eight years. Yeah.


Damon Young: Yeah, it’s been a minute, but I guess I’ll see you at Essence this year. Hopefully. 


Malaika Jabali: Yes. I hope so. 


Damon Young: Fingers crossed. 


Malaika Jabali: I do hope you’re there. 


Damon Young: Okay. I see you got. Who’s that a picture of? In the background. 


Malaika Jabali: So I used to be a chair of a social justice organization. And so this is where we would do our strategizing. And this is one of the candidates. [laughs]


Damon Young: Okay. Because I just saw the kente cloth. I was thinking, oh, you got Malcolm in the back. You know, you come in extra Vantablack [laughs] for the episode. 


Malaika Jabali: Not a surprise. 


Damon Young: I mean, that’s on brand for you. I wouldn’t expect anything else [laughs] from you. 


Malaika Jabali: Very much. Like if you know, if we’re going to have a background as well do kente, it’s Juneteenth coming up. 


Damon Young: Exactly. 


Malaika Jabali: We getting ready. 


Damon Young: Exactly. Now you’re I feel like you’re kente shaming me because I don’t have any of that in my background. I just got exposed pipes and some color coded books back there. 


Malaika Jabali: Okay. I feel like that’s close enough, we got color, we’re good.


Damon Young: Oh, yeah. Like, I don’t want to be the nigga. Even though I am that nigga, obviously, because I have the color coded books, but I don’t want to be the nigga with the color coded books. 


Malaika Jabali: Okay.


Damon Young: Because I feel like that’s a brand and that’s a thing, and I don’t want to be that thing, even though. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: That is what’s happening back there. 


Malaika Jabali: So how do you actually find stuff? Do you remember what color the books are that you want? 


Damon Young: I mean, these are books that I’m not reading. [laughter] Okay? They’re either books that I read already, or they’re books that were sent to me.


Malaika Jabali: And maybe I’ll read them eventually. You know what this has gone on too long. [laughter] Let’s just get Morgan the producer.


Malaika Jabali: Dear Damon, what is chivalry in 2023? Is it still opening doors and covering tips? Are there more modern ways like memorizing a Starbucks order or sharing streaming service passwords? 


Damon Young: Okay. It’s a good question because, you know chivalry is based on etiquette. Etiquette evolves. Etiquette is just expectations of behavior and expectations of behavior evolves as time goes there are no like, really hard set. There are some hard set rules, but then the expectations change. Now, as someone who’s like, you know, presumably still on the streets. Like— [laughs]


Malaika Jabali: Why are you calling me out? You don’t know what I got going on. 


Damon Young: You know, you right. You right. I don’t I said presumably to give, you know, the. 


Malaika Jabali: Benefit of the doubt. 


Damon Young: To qualify it. But. Someone who’s closer to the street. 


Malaika Jabali: I am closer to the street. I’m on an avenue or two. 


Damon Young: How would you respond to that? Like, what would you consider chivalrous today? And does chivalry even matter to you? 


Malaika Jabali: Okay. I feel like I’m saying this as a Southern woman who I consider myself to be progressive. But as I’ve gotten older, I recognize that I actually do like chivalry. And to me, it’s there are certain traditions, you know, And so there’s like different buckets, right? When you’re dating, there’s romance. There’s like when you’ve gone past romance and you just doing the day to day things that are thoughtful. So I think sharing passwords like you that’s passed chivalrous at that point you in a relationship like, I’m not giving a password to somebody. We just talking on face time. But like, chivalry is like, okay, if I’m walking, he knows to walk on the on the other side closest to the street. Like, I appreciate that. And I think it’s more so that it hints at I’m taking it seriously. You know, like, okay, you are trying to move towards an actual courtship or relationship. I say that again as somebody who’s southern who I like those kinds of things. 


Damon Young: Now, where are you from? 


Malaika Jabali: Atlanta. 


Damon Young: You’re from Atlanta. And where do you live now? 


Malaika Jabali: I moved back to Atlanta, so I was in Milwaukee. 


Damon Young: Oh, okay. So okay, okay. I didn’t know you move back to Atlanta. I thought you were still up north. 


Malaika Jabali: I’ve seen every variety. I’ve seen the New York dudes slash East Coast because I feel like the whole northeast quadrant, you know, it’s like, similar. 


Damon Young: Well, that I guess, leads to my question is like, have you noticed any distinctions? You know, not just in terms of dating style or best practices or method, but in terms of what people from certain regions of the country consider chivalrous. Like there might be an act that isn’t considered chivalrous in the South, but if a New York nigga did it, then it would be. You know what I mean and you know vice versa. 


Malaika Jabali: Mm hmm. Probably ordering your Uber. So you have to get on the subway. Like that would be chivalrous. In New York, I have somebody, you know, that was cute I was like okay that’s a cute little touch. And Uber had just come out at the time when, when I remember somebody doing that. [laughter] Like I’ll Uber you here, Uber you back. All right. I appreciate it. In Atlanta people got cars. So, you know, back then you didn’t necessarily need an Uber. I don’t know what they doing out West I. Like I feel like that’s a whole, a whole other—


Damon Young: That doesn’t matter out West, doesn’t count. Yeah. West Coast doesn’t count.


Malaika Jabali: I don’t know what they got going on. 


Damon Young: That’s a great point too. Even the distinction between. Train, cab, Uber cities and car cities. 


Malaika Jabali: Mm hmm. 


Damon Young: Right. Because there’s a lot of chivalry or at least a lot of expectations. You know, when it comes to chivalry, when it comes to dating that are centered on the car. 


Malaika Jabali: Right. 


Damon Young: Centered on who is driving, centered on, you know, who is pumping the gas. And so if you live in a city where cars are somewhat obsolete, then that creates a whole new kind of standard of, okay, well in replacement of the car. So what do you have? What is chivalrous on the train? 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: And a lot of chivalry, in my opinion. It’s just basically just regular kindness. 


Malaika Jabali: Mmm. 


Damon Young: Like if you are an able bodied person and you see someone struggling with bags, or you see a person who might be older or appears to be older, or a person who appears to be impaired, you let them sit. Right. That’s just the thing, and also, you know, as far to train chivalry, I know there are people who believe that if there are women standing, there shouldn’t be any men sitting. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. I think that those are good ones. I feel like New Yorkers, they want matching Timbs. Like if I get. [laughter] I got my pair of Timbs he can just match with those. Let’s go baby. I was like okay that’s cute. Yeah, that is a really good point, too, about the car dynamics, as you mentioned, like opening doors. But some parts of chivalry are kind of silly. Like, I don’t you know, I don’t obviously, I can open my own door, but it is just nice to see. I think there’s a disconnect there for me in terms of what I know that I like to see and what actually makes sense because it doesn’t need to happen. But it’s a nice gesture. 


Damon Young: And of course, you know, you’re able bodied, you could open your own door, you could pump your own gas, you know, pay your own bills, you know. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Fly yourself out wherever you need to go, order your own Uber. You could do all that shit. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Yourself. 


Damon Young: But I guess it’s about the gesture of it, you know? And again, this is for speaking from a very heteronormative context in this capacity. Like I’m presuming that the person who wrote in with the question’s also coming from a heteronormative perspective and thinking of male female relationships. And we’re thinking of like an updated chivalry rulebook or rubric, like how social media factors into that too. Like, is there a best practices, is there a preferred way of like engaging on social media? Like is there a way to be chivalrous online? 


Malaika Jabali: Hmm. Probably, not liking other people’s photos that don’t need to be liked. 


Damon Young: [laughter] Was that I mean, is that, is that chivalry or is that just like expectations of actual relationship behavior? Chivalry, I think, kind of exists a little outside of that. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Where chivalry is more of just a standard. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: A way that you interact with people and way you treat people. Whereas you say anything about like in people’s pictures, which is I feel like this the point of Instagram is to like pictures, like you’re not allowed to like. 


Malaika Jabali: And there’s my caveat that don’t need to be liked, you liking X’s picture [laughter] you liking a whole bunch of IG models and thirst traps. You don’t need to be liking that. 


Damon Young: Okay, I can see that. I agree with that. Although I think there’s a distinction. I think there’s a distinction between liking some IG model who you have no relationship with, no context. You just like the picture and like— 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: Your ex. I think those are different behaviors. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. So for a Pittsburgh dude, what how do guys—


Damon Young: [laughter] What did you say? 


Malaika Jabali: For a Pittsburgh dude? What was chivalry for you when you were dating your wife in particular? 


Damon Young: I mean, chivalry. It was, you know, some of the things that you mentioned being the person that drives when we you know, we go places, opening doors, pumping the gas, you know, doing it inside of the sidewalk trick, you know. And I say it’s a trick. Because if you’re walking for a long distance, sometimes you can get twisted around it. Sometimes, you know, you’re crossing the street. 


Malaika Jabali: Right. 


Damon Young: And you’re doing this thing. And now she’s on outside. And so. 


Malaika Jabali: Right. 


Damon Young: The thing to do is you just kind of position her so that she’s inside, you know, just do like a little, you know, like just a little nudge so that she’s back inside. 


Malaika Jabali: Okay. 


Damon Young: And that’s the trick. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. I’ve always wondered, like the crossing the street thing you talking about a manual. Do you have, like, a driver’s manual for [?] walking because I’m like where’s he gonna go? [laughter] Cause I don’t know should I be here? Should I be here? What about this upcoming traffic, or is it going to be this one? I don’t know. 


Damon Young: So, I mean, I think that. Again, there were those just standard, you know, chivalrous behaviors. And and again, it’s one of those things where, yeah, of course, you know, she was able bodied, she was able to pump her own gas, drive, own car, etc.. Now, I don’t think you really had this conversation also without interrogating whether like chivalry is a behavior that is for the person you’re with or it’s for you. 


Malaika Jabali: Mm. 


Damon Young: I think this gets to my point about how chivalry you can’t really divorce it from the idea of control. Even thinking of my own behavior while I was dating and, you know, even while I’ve been married about how, you know, things like, if we go somewhere, we’re driving, I’m driving and we’re driving my car. Right. Like, I’m opening the doors, I’m pumping the gas. I’m paying for everything. Even though it’s our money. I’m the one who is paying for things. And so there is that idea. And again, this is more of like a self interrogation. Like, is it about showing care or is it about exerting control? Is it like some ingrained part of patriarchy where I don’t feel as masculine or whatever if I’m not in control? How much of that? And this is something I’m asking myself also is about showing care, or how much of that is like the performance of care, where you’re showing everyone else that you are performing this and also like my own control issues. And I’m wondering if it’s possible to divorce like the care part of the chivalry from the control part because there is. 


Malaika Jabali: Yeah. 


Damon Young: I feel like those or at least on the same spectrum in what I mean of behavior. 


Malaika Jabali: I think those conflicting feelings can also live in tandem with how women feel about it. You know, and I think ultimately it comes down to respect. So does your partner still feel respected and acknowledged in other areas? If you’re doing those symbolic things, you know, if you are trying to control everything, then that might be issue. But if you’re controlling, you handling in the door. I’m sure she’s going to be okay with it. And then I think patriarchy just works differently for Black women because we typically weren’t given the possibility to embrace those norms because we were the ones who also had to toil. We also had to work like we didn’t have to have a labor movement for us per se, because we were always working. And so I think in 2023, in some ways it is still pretty traditional because I think a lot of Black women want to be able to feel, okay, somebody else can take control now. So it’s not necessarily you might be conflicted by it, but another woman might appreciate it, especially if she hasn’t had the chance to not be in control sometimes. 


Damon Young: Malaika, thank you for putting a bow on this, for putting a period exclamation point stamp, you know, what I mean. Footprint. And to answer the question I guess you know, has chivalry updated? Yes, it has. I think like most of the things, you just have to pay attention and listen to people and see like, okay, well. Which behaviors have evolved, which behaviors are no longer acceptable, or which behaviors now are things that are expected. And also you have to pay attention to your partner. You know, whether you’re dating or in a relationship, because there are some people who expect this and there are some people who, you know, might consider your chivalry to be, you know, an act of disrespect or whatever. And I think that it you just have to be mindful of who you’re actually with when you do this. But Malaika, you have a book. 


Malaika Jabali: I do, and it’s about relationships. Speaking of. [laughs]


Damon Young: Okay, can you tell us a bit about it? 


Malaika Jabali: Sure. It’s called It’s Not You, It’s Capitalism: Why It’s Time to Break Up and How to Move On. And it’s a play on some of my relationship experiences being. And I feel like if you can survive New York, you can survive anything. [laughter] That’s kind of like how capitalism works. You know, we’ve had this ongoing relationship with somebody that we’ve been putting so much effort into it and not really getting it reciprocated. You know, we’re giving and giving. We’re paying our money, we’re paying our taxes and like what’s happening with it. So it’s about, you know, just finding alternatives to capitalism because it’s messing up education and health care and. 


Damon Young: Mm hmm. 


Malaika Jabali: Every element of our lives. 


Damon Young: Yeah, it’s the bad partner. You know what I mean that we can’t break up with. Now, do you have a release date? 


Malaika Jabali: Yes. October 24th. It’s available for preorders right now. It was a labor of love, so I’m glad— [laughter]


Damon Young: I know the feeling.


Malaika Jabali: Glad it’s finally out. And so this is for people. Even if you were like, I’m curious about socialism or I’m curious about capitalism, I don’t really know. But it’s like, it’s fun. Like, I had fun writing it. It’s it’s like, lighthearted but serious. I have a chapter that has Brandy and Monica references, but it’s a chapter about race and colonialism, so you can figure out how that ties together. 


Damon Young: Boom, okay. The Boy is Mine. [laughter] The capital— [both speaking] Capitalism is mine. Yeah. Okay. Okay, I dig it. And again, you have the long subtitle, so you might not be able to do what I did and get your book title tattooed on your arm. But maybe. Maybe there’s space where you could do, like, a forearm sleeve. 


Malaika Jabali: I know. Are there Google lenses? Like, maybe I can get it etched in the. Do people still do that anymore? 


Damon Young: [laughs] Maybe. All right Malaika, appreciate you. Thanks for coming through. 


Malaika Jabali: Thank you. Thanks for having me. 


Damon Young: Again, just want to thank everyone for coming through again this week. Also, great guests, Alzo Slade, Malaika Jabali. Great conversation, great friends. It was just great. It’s greatness. Greatness happening here. And tell a friend, tell people that there’s greatness happening [laughs] at Stuck with Damon Young, wherever you get your podcast. Also, if you’re on Spotify, there are interactive polls, interactive questions that you can answer to, that you can ask. We have all the things that you need. Here we are a one stop shop. Also, if you have any questions about anything under the sun, hit me up at All right y’all. See you next week. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. Our executive producers are Kendra James and Madeleine Haeringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. From Gimlet and Spotify our executive producers are Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Lauren Silverman, Nicole Beemsterboer, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam. [music plays]