The Other Side is Diabolical (with Stanley Nelson & Valerie Scoon) | Crooked Media
Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets
August 15, 2023
Pod Save The People
The Other Side is Diabolical (with Stanley Nelson & Valerie Scoon)

In This Episode

DeRay, Kaya, Don, and De’Ara cover the underreported news of the week  — a study finding youth placed in adult prisons have their lives cut shorter, Alabama state refuses Supreme Court orders, false exceptions for restrictive abortion laws, and a new album from a musical icon. DeRay interviews award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson and co-director Valerie Scoon about their newest documentary titled ‘Sound of the Police’



She Wasn’t Able to Get an Abortion. Now She’s a Mom. Soon She’ll Start 7th Grade. 


Alabama lost a voting rights case at the Supreme Court. It’s still trying to win


Youth placed in adult prison have their lives cut shorter, study says


For Meshell Ndegeocello, blurring musical lines has provided a clear path





[AD BREAK] [music break]


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People, sending everybody good vibes. And this week it’s me, Kaya, De’Ara, and then our guest host Don Calloway. And as usual, we talk about the underreported news with regard to race, justice and equity. The news that you didn’t hear in the past week that you should have heard about. You know, we are talking about Alabama’s blatant disregard for the Supreme Court. We talk about the story of a impacted 13 year old in Mississippi, and lord y’all, there’s a lot going on this past week. And then I sit down with Stanley Nelson and Valerie Scoon to talk about their newest documentary titled Sound of the Police. Let’s go. [music break]


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


Don Calloway: Hey y’all. I’m Don Calloway. Instagram at @DCalloway. Twitter at @DCSTLagain


Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson on Twitter at @HendersonKaya. 


DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay @deray on Twitter or X. Really Twitter. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, I’m really excited for this banter topic because I’ve been with four children for the last five days and we’ve listened to Taylor Swift nonstop, and these are Black children. I don’t know what happened on the or what’s going on with their mamas, but Taylor Swift, if you are a listener, these Black children love you, girl. Me, I’m working on it. So [laughter] an antidote to that. I had to watch Juvenile Tiny Desk for the 67th time. Real real real loud [laughter] because we celebrating hip hop, okay? That’s where we are. 50th anniversary. So excited. 


Kaya Henderson: Woop woop. 


De’Ara Balenger: What y’all got to say about that? Where where where, DeRay’s already [?], where did you fall in love, when did you fall in love with hip hop? I cannot. 


DeRay Mckesson: When did you fall in love with hip hop? Kaya was there y’all. Kaya was born on the street that hip hop was born on. Kaya what’s up? [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: [?] That’s not true. Hip Hop was born in the Bronx, I’m from Mount Vernon. But we we you know, we a little hip hop-y powerhouse in four square miles in Mount Vernon. And so I grew up with Pete Rock and [?] and Heavy D and the boys and a whole bunch of other folks. Puff Daddy, Diddy, Sean, whatever you want to call him. Um. So, yeah, I’ve been I mean, hip hop is the soundtrack of my life, right? Like, I think I remember I remember maybe I was in first grade or second grade when Rapper’s Delight came out. And like, we memorized every single word to Rapper’s Delight. Like, that’s that’s my like, that that was my initiation into hip hop before some y’all was even born mmm child. 


DeRay Mckesson: [grunt]. 


Don Calloway: I was definitely born. Uh. I just want to say that shout out to one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time, who’s from my neighborhood, University City in Saint Louis. Cornell “Nelly” Haynes. Y’all will not disrespect Nelly. [laughter] He’s one of the best to ever do it. I just want to [?] [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: I saw Nelly the summer before. I saw Nelly the summer. No Jazz Fest last year. 


Don Calloway: Yes. 


De’Ara Balenger: Excellent. Excellent show. 


Don Calloway: Nelly was [?] 


De’Ara Balenger: Excellent. 


Don Calloway: –[?] a room. Oh, but while we are talking about hip hop 50. I do run a VC firm now, so [?] a little plug in. Can we stop letting uh anonymous folks buy up our heroes catalogs? The value should be construing back to our community every year. [indistinct]


De’Ara Balenger: Don, by anonymous folks, do you mean white people? [laughter]


Don Calloway: Well, you know you know, [?].


DeRay Mckesson: I know I was like anonymous folks.


Kaya Henderson: People, people who will not be named. 


Don Calloway: There’s also the Asians are heavy buying it. The K-Pop world is buying it heavy. And all they got to do is find one influencer on TikTok and you blow up the song, and you generate revenue for old songs. So can we some Blacks in finance, can we start buying our own heroes works? 


Kaya Henderson: Oooh, go ahead, Don. I like it. 


DeRay Mckesson: I will say I was in New York and I for the hip hop 50th there are they’re making subway cards for hip hop legends. 


Kaya Henderson: Oh, nice. 


DeRay Mckesson: There is one for LL Cool J. There’s a Rakim one. There’s a Cam’ron one. And then there’s a Pop Smoke one. And what is cool about them is that you can only get them in their neighborhoods. 


Kaya Henderson: Oh nice. 


DeRay Mckesson: So you can only get the Forest Hills card. You can only get the LL Cool J card at the Forest Hills Station. 


Kaya Henderson: Station. Oh. 


DeRay Mckesson: –[?] cool. I got the Cam’ron card [?]–


Don Calloway: How does Pop Smoke beat out Biggie for the Brooklyn card? 


DeRay Mckesson: I I think they needed something for the kids, you know, they needed, like, something [laughter] why there are no women also? There’s there’s no women, I’m like, there’s no Lil Kim card. Like, there’s no– 


Don Calloway: No women. 


DeRay Mckesson: –women is sort of insane. But I had to go to 125th to get the Cam’ron card. And so I go up to the window and I’m like, Hey, where how do I get the Cam’ron card? And he’s like, it’s the only thing in the machine. So the first if, like if you get a card at this one station, the first three machines is only Cam’ron. And I was like, you know what? This is actually a cool, and I haven’t gone to the hip hop [?] um exhibit yet at the Brooklyn Museum, um at the library. But I hear that it is amazing. It’s crazy to think that like 50 years ago, you know. 


Kaya Henderson: I am excited because this Thursday, you know, I live in D.C. Um. But Wolf, Wolf Trap, which is a performing arts place, uh has Masters of the Mic, the hip Hop 50 tour. And it’s a bunch of old school rappers that I love. And so I was talking to one of my youngs and I was like, Yeah, I’m going to the hip hop concert, the old school hip hop concert on, you know, Thursday. And she was like, Oh, like, what’s old school? And I was like, you know, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Slick Rick, Roxanne Shante, Spinderella. She was like, Oh, you mean old, old school. Like, I thought you meant like, 2000s. I was like, girl, you better get out of here. [laughter]


Don Calloway: I’m happy everybody’s doing their 50th event, right? Nobody owns hip hop, so it should be proliferated across the country. But um I can we stop like after this week, I’m just asking that we issue a moratorium on the pictures, the Instagram, like the here’s who all I’ve met who’s a hip hop, happy birthday hip hop. This is my way to flex and show who all I know. Can we stop? I get it. I’ll allow it this past weekend, I’ll even allow it– 


DeRay Mckesson: He’s a hater. He’s a hater. I mean, I’ve been posting those pictures because– [laughter]


Don Calloway: [?]. 


DeRay Mckesson: –that those people are a little older than me. So I haven’t met any of them. But, he’s a hater.


Don Calloway: It’s like, Yo, I get it. You met D-Nice. He’s awesome. We love him. But that was last week. That’s all I’m asking. 


Kaya Henderson: Yikes. 


De’Ara Balenger: I feel like–


Kaya Henderson: It’s a lot of that. 


De’Ara Balenger: –[?] D-Nice can’t count in that. Yeah, because every–


Kaya Henderson: No no. He’s newly–


De’Ara Balenger: –if we all. 


Kaya Henderson: He’s newly contemporary. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. Any Black any Black woman that sees D’Nice is going to want a photo with him so that one I feel like that’s that’s a given and we, I’m not mad at it. 


Don Calloway: [?] D-Nice is having a run and we’re all happy for him, I love him.


Kaya Henderson: Maybe I’ll post my picture of me and D-Nice. [laughter] I got multiple ones.


DeRay Mckesson: For and in your honor Don. [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: I got I got ones, I got ones in the United States and I got ones on international locales. Come on. 


DeRay Mckesson: [excited sound] Let ’em know. 


Kaya Henderson: I haven’t postd any of my hip hop pictures, Don. I feel like you just put a moratorium. I got to run this thing through. 


Don Calloway: I’m just jealous. That’s all. [?]


Kaya Henderson: I’m not, I’m not posting my pictures. Don’t worry. [laughing]


Don Calloway: Maybe I’m just jealous. That’s all.


Kaya Henderson: And in other news, the Blind Side football player whose name is escaping me, Michael Oher, is that his name? Something like that?


Don Calloway: Oher, Oher. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah. Yup. 


Kaya Henderson: Oher. Um. Thank you, has filed suit. Come on lawyer man or lawyer lady, filed suit uh saying that he was duped by the white family that he thought adopted him. But apparently they did not adopt him. They just got him to sign some conservatorship papers so that they could be in charge of all his money. And he just found this out. What? 


Don Calloway: Yeah, this is some true like Get Out type stuff. Um. And I think that one thing we have seen over the last I [?] say, you know, ten years, 100 years is that white folks are very good at identifying value and extracting it without proper compensation or without the person creating the value even knowing it. This is especially dastardly when you do it in the familial context and then to have the audacity to make an o– I think Sandra Bullock won best actor actor for her role in The Blind Side. So the idea that all of this was just mythologically, you know, a theft of epic proportions, it just it’s my the caucasity, you know, this clutching pearls all day behind this, this is wild. 


Kaya Henderson: Ooh, mm. 


DeRay Mckesson: It also is really interesting because you saw people’s willingness to support the family in lieu of supporting him. It was like, you know, these white people saved this young Black boy and they they were stable and blah blah blah, and he and it’s like they exploited him. That is actually what happened. And he didn’t find out till February of 2023 that he has no legal familial relationship with those people, that they had him sign a conservatorship. And that is because I even was like, well, what took them, I’m like the movie’s old. This is not even a new movie. Like what? The other thing that really blew my mind is that and this is the way that these sort of lies work is that it seems like nobody at least putting the movie together was like, show me the adoption papers. Like that’s what’s crazy. I’m like, didn’t nobody ask? Like, show me the adoption. Like, walk me through the process of this.


Don Calloway: No no backround– 


DeRay Mckesson: Don’t–


Don Calloway: –or vetting on the story, which is crazy. 


DeRay Mckesson: They were able to just like lah de dah their way through. I mean that now y’all know if a Black family, people would have made them show every document they’d of had a talked to the case manager. I mean, it would have been checking every everything and this, no. 


Don Calloway: But you also got to think about how many movie or not, how many steps along the way did nobody check. Who put his high school medical records up? How did he get into college? How did he get into the NFL, were there never at any univers–, I mean, did he sign out 401K papers with the Baltimore Ravens like? At never at any point did anybody bring this to his attention. And that’s traumatic for this brother because he’s not an old man and he has the majority of his life, we hope, left to live and think about what was done to him, that’s some scary stuff to have to deal with as an adult. 


De’Ara Balenger: I don’t want to bring up old stuff, but what this reminds me of, is green book and how Don Shirley’s family was like, how are we telling this story from the perspective of this white man who was his driver? 


Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm. 


De’Ara Balenger: And again, it goes back to DeRay to what you were saying along the way, why is it like, how do we it takes a really long time to make a movie, to get a movie produced. Along the way, why is it just become a norm for us to center white folks in the telling of these stories and also in the in the financial benefit of these stories? So, you know, I have a whole a whole cultural analysis around that has just stemmed from movies like The Blind Side and Green Book. Right? Because all these white savior movies, there’s a one, I just went, saw a preview for one about a soccer coach, a white British soccer coach that is going to go, that’s go– went to somewhere in the Pacific Islands to basically save this soccer team. They didn’t know how to kick a ball until his white ass got there to show him. So but those are the type of movies that get made, right? It’s like these tropes, these all of these tropes all and and what’s what’s wild is like it’s it’s one part cultural narrative on the on what we’re seeing these continuations of these stereotypes, etc.. And then on the back end, the legal and financial end, also getting, you know, the same same, you know, discrimination is also happening there. So this is a wild, wild story, but I’m not surprised at all. 


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




Kaya Henderson: My news this week is about another case of the arrogance of whiteness. And it takes us straight to Alabama, where um in June, Alabama lost a voting rights case at the Supreme Court. Basically, what happened was um the people filed suit about the congressional map that Alabama was using in the state’s last mid-term election because it basically gerrymandered Black people out of having a majority in any county. And that violated the Voting Rights Act and diluted the power of Black voters. And so it before it got to the Supreme Court, it went to a three judge panel which ordered the state of Alabama to create a new map with two congressional districts where Black voters have a realistic opportunity of electing their preferred candidate. Right. They the panel required that in each of those two district, Black Alabamians have to make up the majority of the voting age population or something very close to it. So um what happens is the state of Alabama decides to create a new congressional map with one Black district but not two. Now, the judge told, the the three panel judges told you create a district map with two Black congressional districts. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in June and said you need to create a map with two Black congressional districts. And in the new map, there’s only one majority Black district um that the Republican controlled legislator legislature passed last month. And there’s another district where Black people, Black people make up 39.9% of the voting age population, but that does not meet the court’s requirements. And with her full chest, Republican Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement saying, the legislature knows our state, our people and our districts better than federal courts and activist groups. Now, this is pretty arrogant, right? They told you make two Black congressional districts. You made one. And you’re like, here it is. Well, what they want to do is they want to go back to the Supreme Court with this because they think that they can flip at least one Supreme Court justices vote to get a different ruling so that they can go on with their nefarious plans to continue to marginalize Black voters. And um Peyton McCrary, who uh is a former historian in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Um. He he says they’re not basically, lots of people are saying they’re not inclined to get another bite at the apple at the Supreme Court like they are going to have to uphold this thing. Um. But he says Alabama’s resistance to the panel’s order for a map with two opportunity districts for Black voters continues a long history of the state looking for every possible way not to follow a federal court order when it comes to the voting rights of people of color. He says Alabama has been wasting people’s time for decades trying to do things that are unlikely to prevail, and is doing so yet again. This was just galling to me. You got a whole ruling from the Supreme Court saying this is what you got to do and you’re just not going to do it. You’re going to literally ahead of the November 2024 election, ahead of the midterms, ahead of the congressional elections upcoming. You are literally going to flout the law and not put up two Black districts. Um. I don’t know where they do that at, but apparently they do that in Alabama and they’ve been doing it in Alabama. And so I brought it to the podcast because I thought talking about Caucasity, this is one of them things. Don, what you got to say? What do you think? 


Don Calloway: Oh, gosh. Several things. I hate to bring up old stuff, Dr. Balenger, but uh this is the ongoing ramifications of the 2013 Shelby versus Holder loss, which gutted Section five of the Voting Act. And you have to remember the important section of Section five that was taken away was the preclearance condition in which several states, most of them in the South who had a history of intentional and pernicious voter discrimination, would have to pre-clear congressional maps, pre-clear changes to voting procedures or anything like that, because we know what their intended effect is. So when that was taken away, it effectively gave license and they told us, what did they tell us? They said, Well, that’s okay, liberals, because you’ll still have the federal courts to challenge uh racist voting practices. And technically, that’s true. And guess what? We won this time. But there’s no protection against segregationist Confederate state legislatures who seek to still subvert the will of 40 percent of their people. And we talk about these red states as though they’re 80% red. They’re not. The reddest of red state is 60/40. Right. So screw all the 40% who would have otherwise. And let’s continue to find a way to be racist intentionally. And the thing about um we talked about this last week, I’m sorry you all talked about this last week. I wasn’t here. Uh. We talked last week about the ongoing uh Supreme Court and federal court challenges to peoples like Fearless Fund. Right. The thing is, while we run running candidates and while we’re, you know, trying to raise a few dollars for folks here and there on the Vineyard, they are dealing with the institutional machinations, nations of government. And like Kevin Gates, they don’t get tired. Right. TIDE. And so that’s why it’s incumbent upon us to look beyond the horse race of personality politics and think about how do we challenge institutions for the long run, because that’s what they doing. 


Kaya Henderson: Say it. 


De’Ara Balenger: I’m just glad there’s another attorney on today because you handled that part. And now I’m just like our brothers and sisters that were brawling last week in in Montgomery. Can they handle this for us? How about that? We organized [?]. 


Kaya Henderson: Call call Aqua mayne. Call Aqua mayne. [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: It is also like a reminder that, you know, when the Republican says that they’re conservative on fiscal matters or social policy da da da it really is for you, not them. Like, that’s what the it’s like, we want all these rules for you, not us. That’s like every, that’s how it is. We don’t don’t spend money on social programs for y’all, we’re going to bail out all the rich people. Don’t you know you can’t get an abortion, but we can afford it, so we’ll just go da da. And this was so I think Kaya to your point is that she wrote that note with her chest [?] like it wasn’t this wasn’t like something we had to FOIA and find out in a night time. She said this law not right, the Supreme Court ain’t real, you’re like now if the left, could you imagine the uproar they would be in?


Kaya Henderson: Could you imagine? Could you imagine? 


DeRay Mckesson: If we were, if the colleges were like, affirmative who we don’t know the Supreme Court. They would combust. 


Kaya Henderson: Yup. 


DeRay Mckesson: Do you know what I mean? And the only thing I say about that is that fighting fair only got us so far. It’s like the whole. You know, it’s what the organizers say. You can’t arrest us all. Is that when and you can’t kill us all. You know, we could bring the system to a grinding halt by playing the, say, like using similar tactics, being like, oh, no, just, you know, what is a [?] we’ll just well not only will we not undo affirmative action, we’ll only admit Black people, you know, like, could you imagine if Harvard was like whole class of Black people like the Supreme, the right would die, you know? 


Don Calloway: Well, you know, when you think about the way that they’re playing with the procedures here, about a month ago, when all the Supreme Court decisions came out, we saw that in the uh I don’t think it was the gay web, the website case, right? 


Kaya Henderson: Oh, yeah. 


Don Calloway: Uh. There was a false case in controversy. There was no actual plaintiff who was, you know, being discriminated against. Right. And so when we see what you want to do at federal courts and let’s be clear, there is a team in Alabama getting the new congressional map in front of the Supreme Court via the federal court system right now. Right. They are doing this and we see that they are willing to concoct to flout not only the law, but federal court procedure in order to get in front of federal courts to create new bodies of law to oppress people. And so you have to put all these things together. And you can’t just let the news cycle get away from you, because what we saw last Supreme Court is that they’re willing to create fake plaintiffs, right. To get in front of folks courts to challenge laws that they don’t like. And once again, Democrats are trying to play matchup zone and they’re turning out the lights to the stadium. They’re causing traffic jams in the municipal arenas. Right. So it’s a totally unfair game now. 


Kaya Henderson: The other thing that came up as we talked about the freedom, the fearless fund, the case about the the case against the Fearless Fund and Edward Blum, whose whole entire job is to source candidates to to be these theoretical plaintiffs and whatnot, is that money matters a ton here. Right? And so Republicans wouldn’t just combust if we did something different around affirmative action or just flouted that law. They they have a lot of money to throw at challenging and stopping and mitigating. And that I think, you know, DeRay, you pointed out last week that is a substantive difference than, you know, what the Dems seem, the resources that the Dems seem to be able to marshal. 


De’Ara Balenger: So my news was the latest and last of my amazing colleagues here. And I’m glad it was because I had to keep it on the positive side. It’s just especially when we get to DeRay’s news. I hope if you all are driving your cars, you pull over. It is just very, very deep. So I’m keeping it light. And I’ve been spending a lot of time in D.C. this summer. And as I see the city that I love and grew up with, sometimes unrecognizable. Unrecognizable. Um. I saw this article and I was like, you know what? I love this and I love my DC people and we’re holding it down wherever we are. So this is about Meshell Ndegeocello, who I’m obsessed with. And if you ever get the chance to see Meshell Ndegeocello with Robert Glasper, stop everything you’re doing. 


Kaya Henderson: Indeed. 


De’Ara Balenger: And go there and run, run, run to it. 


Don Calloway: Yes indeed. 


De’Ara Balenger: Um, but new album out, the Omnichord Real book. And what I didn’t know about Meshell is that her dad is, well she’s from D.C., went to Duke Ellington, been a musician practically all her life. But her dad was also a musician, which I did not know, a saxophonist. Um. You know, it takes me back to the days where there were there was music everywhere in D.C.. There were it, I think that’s why I like going to New Orleans so much, because it reminds me what D.C. used to be when the kids were playing buckets on the street and [sigh] oh anyway, maybe this isn’t. Maybe this isn’t a upper, this story, after all. But anyway, [laughing] she came across inspiration from this for this for this album from cleaning up her parents house as they passed. Um. And she found a book of music that that was, that was her dad’s. And it really was the inspiration behind this, so it’s a cross-section of all the things I love, R&B, funk, jazz, um and, you know, just has a bunch of different other artists that contribute to it. She’s a super, super collaborative artist. Um. And of course, the cornerstone, Blue Note Records. Blue Note, it’s my favorite place to hear jazz in New York City. Um. But that’s the label it’s coming out, coming out on. Um. But again, she grew up playing bass in D.C. She’s also you know a singer. And you’re like, I don’t even know what’s the word when the person brings all of the music together, like organizes the music. What is that called? 


Don Calloway: Bandleader, orchestrator. 


De’Ara Balenger: Exactly. 


Kaya Henderson: Arranger, arranger. 


De’Ara Balenger: Something, all of those things. 


Kaya Henderson: Producer. 


De’Ara Balenger: Maestro. 


Don Calloway: Quincy Jones. 


De’Ara Balenger: Maestra, maestra, Quincy [laugh], if you will. [laughter] But she also played in Go-Go bands coming up early on. So I think that’s, go-go often gets left out of the, you know, the hip hop narrative. And it is like R&B and funk, but it is very much hip hop. In fact, I didn’t like some hip hop songs until they were remixed by Rare Essence or Junkyard Band or Backyard Band. But, you know, this just I wanted to bring this to the pod. She’s somebody that everyone should know about her her her I feel like her taste and approach to music is so diverse and so collaborative. So you can go see her. And she would she might cover like Cyndi Lauper, like, you’ll just never know. But just wanted to bring this to the pod because it’s good. It’s juicy, it’s light. It reminds us, you know, of the fullness and spaciousness of who we are. And so, yeah, I hope you all check her out and check out this new album. I know I am. I haven’t even listened yet, so I’m really excited to listen. 


Don Calloway: You know, I mess with Meshell Ndegeocello. I’m old enough to remember if that’s your boyfriend, he wasn’t last night, right? With [?]–


Kaya Henderson: Say it. Say it Don.


Don Calloway: Yeah yeah. And and you think about those words coming from somebody who is now objectively a queer icon, right? Um. And you think about who had who who did people have to be and what did they have to say in order to get put on in different times and different eras. But um, I mean, she has been uh and I I mean, you made a fool of me, tell me why that was– 


Kaya Henderson: Honey. 


Don Calloway: –23 years ago, right? 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 


Don Calloway: We talking about [?] here.


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


Don Calloway: And she is definitely um one of the underrateds that we don’t give their full props to in a just world, dare I say she’s as important to us as D’Angelo. Dare I say, in terms of just straight up musicianship and what she meant to the small group of people cross section that she meant it to. Um. So I’m really just happy to see legends getting their props. Same as uh Tracy Chapman, Fast Car. Unfortunately– [indistinct talking]


De’Ara Balenger: Yes! 


Kaya Henderson: Mm hmm yeah yeah. 


Don Calloway: –country singer, but I hope she makes a strong bag off of it and I hope our people support and go back and play all that old Meshell because she is one of our finest musicians and has been putting it down for a long time. 


Kaya Henderson: Yep.


DeRay Mckesson: [singing] You made a fool of me, tell me why. [stops singing] [laugh] That’s literally all I know from Meshell, so that’s all I’m a add here and shout out to a great song. 


Kaya Henderson: Um I you know, I like freedom is my thing. And I think that what she represents for me is freedom in her musicianship. She is not constrained or confined by one genre or, you know, like you can’t she she she rejects the box. And as I read about this album, it is, you know, it’s characterized as sort of a tapestry of all of her influences, Go-Go, jazz, R&B, rock, you know, all of the things. And she, as you said, she covers everybody and does everything. I saw her with Robert Glasper at the Kennedy Center a couple of months ago, and it was absolutely mind blowing. Um. And so I like like you, Don, I am really um excited that we get the chance to revisit that this generation gets the chance to revisit some of the songs and some of the artists that were classic and that really shifted things in music, changed things. There are people who defy genres now, but there was no crossing between musical genres before people like Meshell Ndegeocello. So um for me, it’s the freedom, It is the, you know, we get to define ourselves for ourselves. Um. And she’s 54. So shout out to the aunties making a comeback, woop woop. 


Don Calloway: She’s a grown woman. I mean, there is no Her without Meshell Ndegeocello, right? A full instrumentalist, a singer songwriter, and all the other folks who are coming and doing it, like you said, genre bending stuff and don’t feel like they have to box themselves in. That is straight out of her playbook. But you always have to remember she’s doing this in ’87, and ’88, ’89, which is just a remarkably courageous not even as a as a queer person, but just as an artist, because we know what pop music was. I’m sorry you and I know Kaya what pop music was and sounded like at those times. [laughing]


Kaya Henderson: Mmm. 


Don Calloway: [indistinct] 


Kaya Henderson: It’s so nice to have somebody somebody my age on the pod. [laughing]


De’Ara Balenger: Well I aint’ that far behind y’all, first of all. [laughter] The hell. 


DeRay Mckesson: I am [?]. 


De’Ara Balenger:  Get out of here.


Don Calloway: Oh, you know, I my my my story for the week is uh something that comes from it’s morbid and it’s sad, but it kind of makes you feel happy to see stats and and reasoning and science behind stuff we already know. So uh our good folks over at Creative Justice who do amazing work with uh disabled people’s and differently abled folks making sure that prisons and policing are uh are suited to accommodate them as well. A study finds that youth incarcerated in adult correctional facilities are at a 33% higher risk for early death between the ages of 18 and 39. It also finds that formal encounters with the legal system put youth at risk for a shorter life span. Well, that’s. Yes, we know that. Right. But it’s good to see it um on paper with real graphs and statistics. Uh I think when last when I was here about a month ago, we talked about the South Carolina maternal morbidity crisis uh for for children and how so many more people in South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame uh deal with both maternal morbidity and infant mortality at just these exorbitant rates. But once you get out of that two year or three year infant mortality frame, life doesn’t get easier, right? And so this is the ongoing picture of what life looks like for people who are born into these depressed communities with no opportunity that are environmental wastelands, that are food deserts, that are overpoliced and undereducated. Um. And I think it’s important for us to understand, it’s good to see stats on this to to put policy into place, to begin to fix things that we know are wrong because we know these people and we see their real lives. But it’s important to remember that this window of 18 to 39 of of youth danger or the windows of infant mortality and and motherhood mortality, the difficulty doesn’t end there. There are shockingly horrid statistics that track these people throughout their whole lives, because if you’re at risk of infant mortality, if you’re at risk for youth criminalization and dying in the system, that risk those risk factors don’t go away. And they persist with poor people and marginalized people in these communities throughout their entire lives. So it’s interesting and yet sad but good that we can put some policy to it. Now that we see these stats on actual youth morbidity um in prisons. 


DeRay Mckesson: Shout out to the University of um Cincinnati for coauthoring this study. And it is sort of, it’s obviously common sense, right, like putting a 12 year old in an adult facility makes no sense. Like they don’t know how to navigate the world. They certainly don’t know how to navigate relationships with adults inside of a carceral facility. I mean, like, you know, and I taught middle school, even the most intense middle schoolers, they kids, right. 


Don Calloway: Right they’re kids. 


DeRay Mckesson: They are annoying and frustrating. And cute and you want to, you know, lock them up in the principal’s office. But they are kids, you know. And it is wild that there are some people who want, who like will need a study to be like oh that probably destroyed their mind. You’re like, they were kids, you know what I mean? 


Don Calloway: Wow. 


DeRay Mckesson: And there is this interesting. I was in a conversation with somebody the other day um and we were talking about prison and abolition. And the question was, am I, are we mad at you? Or are you dangerous? And I think in so many circumstances, we are actually mad at you. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: Right? You’re not dangerous. But we are so mad that you stole that Snickers bar. We’re mad that you you know skipped that da da da da da that we put we, like, ruined your life because we’re angry. You’re not dangerous. You know, Kalief Browder wasn’t dangerous. We were mad at him. 


Don Calloway: Yeah. Yeah. And you think about, you know, on the criminal justice side, the neurological research, which has been there for decades, showing that the frontal lobe is not– 


Kaya Henderson: Not fully formed. 


Don Calloway: –mature until 25. Right? And I think all of even the most liberal of us have given up on the notion of, you know, uh waiting till age 25 to prosecute as adults. But that’s what we’re seeing here. We’re seeing people going into the systems whose brains are not fully developed as early as 12 and 13, like you said DeRay. And if you’re 18, 19, 20, you have no chance of surviving in prison and coming out the same as a productive adult. Um. God bless the unicorns who are able to do it. But those folks will get thrown in these maximum facilities, particularly on the younger side. Of course, they have higher rates of death um even after, I think it’s important that the study points out, even post incarceration, because holistically we do not have the reentry programs, particularly for youth, in order to shape these folks back into productive citizens who have a real shot out here. And these are not reincarceration stats. These are not illness stats. These are death stats. Right. So, like, people are dying because we as a society have not gotten it right on either putting them in or on the support once they get out and certainly not on the opportunities once they’re incarcerated. 


Kaya Henderson: This was particularly galling to me. I mean, the piece about any formal contact with the legal system as a youth increases the risk of early mortality. Like did you see the video this week from Lansing, Michigan, where a 13 year old boy literally went outside to drop the trash in the trash bin and the police came and arrested him because he was wearing the the clothing that quote unquote, “fit the description of a criminal that they were looking for.” The boy is 13 years old. And if you watch the video, you see that he literally just took the trash out. Everybody around is like, what’s going on? He just took the trash out. His daddy comes out and is pleading with the police. They handcuff this young brother. He’s 13 years old. Right. And you could see throughout the course of the the video how traumatized this kid is to walk out of his house, walk into the parking lot and throw something in the trash and literally get arrested. And thankfully, they, I guess, figured out that he wasn’t who they were looking for. But the father, like I my heart was breaking, of course, for the kid who’s crying, who is traumatized, but for the father who is like, this is what Black boy, like my kid, I’m inside cooking. And I asked him to take out the garbage. This kid is perfect. He does not and he didn’t have to be perfect. But this kid who was minding his business doing absolutely nothing is now traumatized. And his he’s now at risk of early mortality from this chance encounter with the police. And, you know, as Black parents, every time our children walk out the door. Right. I mean, if if I’m looking at these statistics, I’m not thinking about 16 year old white boys. I’m thinking about our children, because that’s who end up as disproportionately as youth placed in adult prisons or youth who are engaged with the legal system. And I’m thinking about what that death rate means for our kids and our community. And with so many other factors that are affecting us. I mean, I don’t know, um it makes me want to I don’t know. Um. It’s distressing, but it literally took me right to this 13 year old kid in his shorts and his crocs who went out to take out the trash and who now will have a shortened life span because of this interaction. 


DeRay Mckesson: And let me tell you, Kaya, the Lansing I don’t know if you saw the statement put out by the Lansing Police Department afterwards, they wrote Community. Community relations is a top priority for us as a department from top down. Our hope is we can put this unfortunate case of wrong place, wrong time behind us, and continue to represent the community that we serve. Don, you have uh your kids are this age, you have a you have a one of your sons is this old, right? 


Don Calloway: Yeah, they’re 11 and 14. And this is just I mean, this is [?] you know, I can’t I’m not I’m not going to act like I can talk about it articulately, right? About what I would, you know, how that interaction would look if I were to see that with my son. But I think it’s uh it’s important that we jump a little bit into the stat about any encounter with law enforcement. Right. Because there is a broad spectrum. We talk about police shootings and we talk about beatings. Right. And we have these vivid videos, but there’s a broad spectrum of things that can happen during the context of an encounter with law enforcement. And for Black people, almost all of them are negative from getting talked crazy to, to getting handcuffed, to getting detained, to getting beaten and killed. And everything on that entire spectrum adds to the degradation of quality of life. There’s a whole lot of things on that spectrum which result in depression, which result in increased anxiety, and those things add up to degrade quality of life. And that’s when you talk about lives being shortened. Nobody’s saying that every cop encounter gonna is going to result in a beating or a death, but they do result in small or large degradations of integrity and intrusions on quality of life. And those things added up together in the life of urban African-Americans and poor African-Americans ends up in a shortening of life. So, you know, uh yeah, Lansing PD can miss me with that we guess community relations statement [laugh] because that wouldn’t suffice had that been my son. And I’m sure it doesn’t suffice for uh for the young man’s father who was who sent his kid out to take out the trash.


De’Ara Balenger: And you know, Don, and what this where it takes me to is, Kaya, a couple of weeks ago covered um the story coming out of Houston, where they’re turning the libraries in Houston into detention centers. So I think to your point, it is like the spectrum of how we can be impacted is getting wider and younger and more creative, quite frankly. 


Don Calloway: Very much so. And there’s no study that shows the psychological effect of cops screaming at these kids. Right. And what does that do for, you know, how many nights of sleep does that cost them? How much stress and blood pressure points does that cost them? There’s a vast spectrum of damage that takes place in a universe where we continue to allow the police state to expand. Right. And that’s what we’re talking about here. I mean, this kid might never be the same after taking out the trash, you know? 


DeRay Mckesson: So my news, it’s like a sad refrain. I’m like, you know, I’m not shocked. And then I’m like, hmm so I learned something new from a policy perspective. And uh this is just another reminder of the way that these heinous laws impact people. So this is in Time magazine. It is titled, She Wasn’t Able to Get an Abortion. Now she’s a mom. She’ll soon start seventh grade. So young Black girl in Clarksdale, Mississippi. And she was outside, was raped while she was outside and was pregnant, became pregnant. And she didn’t tell her her mom. She didn’t tell her family. Later on, they realized like she’s throwing up. It is too late for Plan B by this point. And she is pregnant. So her family’s trying to figure out what to do. Uh. And if it had only been seven months earlier, she could have gone to an abortion clinic in Memphis, which is about 90 minutes north, or in Jackson, Mississippi, which is about two and a half hours south. But Mississippi is in the heart of abortion ban America, because in 2018, Republicans passed a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Now, you, like me, would say, while most abortions is not all, so there might be an exception for rape and incest. And interestingly, there is in Mississippi, there is an exception for rape victims and to save the life of a mother. What I didn’t know is that these exceptions are theoretical. Why are they theoretical? Because there’s actually no process to grant the exception. So there is no actual process in the state of Mississippi to get the exception. And because they banned abortion, even if you got the exception, there are no abortion providers left in the state of Mississippi. And when I read it, I was like, wow, you know, because I can I, I know people who would support a ban on abortion with the carve outs. I know them. I don’t know a lot of them, but I definitely know some people like that. But I hadn’t ever considered that logistically, the carve outs are not real because if you ban abortion, what doctor is staying in the state to only perform carve out abortions when there’s not even a process to get that? So that blew my mind. And then what I also didn’t know is that there are maternity deserts, that there are communities and counties where there are no birthing facilities or obstetric providers. So and and Mississippi has a lot of them. More than half the counties in the state of Mississippi are maternity care deserts. More than 24% of women in Mississippi have no birthing hospital within 30 minutes compared to the national average of roughly 10%. And then the last thing that blew my mind was, and it makes total sense to me, is that doctors, new doctors are like, I’m not moving to a state with an abortion ban. So they are getting even less providers to just help birth babies in general. So there was a Emory University researcher who surveyed almost 500 third and fourth year medical students in 2022. Close to 80% said that abortion laws influenced where they plan to apply for residency, and nearly 60% said they were unlikely to apply to any residency programs in states with abortion restrictions. This is in one fell swoop, changing the landscape of health care for women. I mean, just like not only abortion, obviously, but the the cascading effects of it have even more consequences. And the young woman and the kid, the kid’s life who is impacted in this, this is the logical consequence of what happens when you enact a ban like this. Is that rich people will go to a place where they can get an abortion. Her family cannot. They were like, we literally we would have done it because she’s a child, but we literally could not afford it. We just could not afford to travel to another state, housing and come back. And it just uh it just blew my mind. I learned so much, both structurally and just was reminded of the dastardly ways that the right has implemented these laws. 


Don Calloway: Yeah, you know, I think that the middle class intelligentsia, you know, doesn’t always appreciate the gravity of some of these outcomes because we think we’ll be able to afford or drive away to, you know, the neighboring state where we can where we can access one. And certainly the right doesn’t care because they’ll always be able to get it for whomever they want to get one for. Uh. But we should just never forget that there are real people that these these laws really matter for. And, you know, whether or not obviously it’s unclear whether or not we knew she knew that she was pregnant in time for the procedure or whatnot. But at some point, not only could they not access one in Mississippi, but they could not afford otherwise. Right. I think that’s such a critical uh uh point here, because it talks about directly to disparate impact. Um. Obviously, the laws cover everybody in the state, but they have a specific and disparate impact on lower income communities. And those are more likely to be Black folks. And I can’t you know, you don’t want to call folks evil, but it’s hard to imagine that this was not a foreseeable circumstance right? That a child would be raped and they made no way to get around this entirely foreseeable circumstance. So to some degree, you had to say this is where Republicans wanted us to be, a seventh grader with a child, because they’ll take that if it extends them to have more control over a broad population of folks in our state, most of whom are Black and all of whom are women. 


Kaya Henderson: This made me super sad. I mean, this little girl was outside playing like little children do, and a stranger snatched her, pulled her behind a house and raped her. And one just that by itself is enough. But as you read the article, this little girl is not cut out to be a mother. She don’t want to be a mother. She didn’t know she didn’t know how babies were made. She didn’t know what was happening to her. And we think that it’s a good idea to make her a mother? We think that it’s a good idea for a 13 year old to have to try to figure all of this out in a community that is already impoverished? We think that it’s okay to put her in a cycle. I mean, first of all, let’s we we could talk about the maternal the prenatal care that she should have gotten that she didn’t get and that lots of women won’t get. But what about the the therapy that she needs to deal with having been raped? That’s not out here in these rural Black counties either. Um. And so let’s talk about the social services. 


Don Calloway: Wait you mean, you mean it’s not in the statute. 


Kaya Henderson: What? 


Don Calloway: It’s not in the Mississippi, therapy is not– 


Kaya Henderson: Let’s talk about the social services that she’s going to need. She’s going to need food stamps. She’s she can’t work, what’s she gonna do? Right. And so it is when you talk about, you know, people being I don’t I can’t remember the word that you used, diabolical or something intentionally disgusting. Um. You you know what happens downstream of all of this. And so there’s the immediate impacts that comes on this girl, on this child. This child is not set up for success in America. He will not be, on this family and all of the the adjustments that this family is going to have to make when they’re barely trying to keep their head up. So that’s like one set of things. And then, DeRay, like you, I mean, I was my mind was blown about doctors not wanting to come there. The poor lady who runs the Women’s Center, who’s doing [?] work, she doesn’t have the money to keep the thing going and feels like I can’t move no, I can’t move to get my kids a better education because I would be letting too many people here down. Y’all, lets this I was talking to a cousin of mine who lives outside of the country and he said, I don’t understand how you Americans, you Americans have such a disregard for humanity and for human life. He’s like, I look at the moves that these Republicans are making and basically they are ensuring that whole populations of people get wiped off the face of your country. And how do you think anything different when you read things like this? 


De’Ara Balenger: This. I can’t process this emotionally. It’s too much for me today. However, I do want to raise what I’ve been hearing from a lot of my folks who are in the good fight around making sure we still have some type of access to abortion um and how much fatigue there is in both fundraising and advocacy and volunteerism. So we are closely getting to crisis mode. So a lot of the stopgaps that were put in place, and money that was raised to actually help get folks into states where you can get abortions is dwindling. And there are people like um there’s a young woman in Mississippi, Greta Martin, she’s running for attorney general there. She’s actually running against the woman who is responsible for Dobbs. Sis can’t get any attention. Zero. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the summertime. I don’t know what, but she’s a Dem. She’s great. 


Kaya Henderson: Maybe we should have her–


De’Ara Balenger: She’s ama– 


Kaya Henderson: Maybe we should have her on the pod? 


De’Ara Balenger: We have, we should have her on the pod. Um. There we go. So all that to say I can, got to got to action my feelings. So there we go. Let’s do that. 


Kaya Henderson: Well, and shout out to people in the state of Ohio who last– 


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. 


Kaya Henderson: –week voted, and didn’t let– 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s right. That’s right.


Kaya Henderson: –the constitutional amendment go, shout out to the people in Kansas when it came to them, they were like, Yeah, that’s not what we’re doing. There’s a huge disconnect between what regular people think about abortion and what these Republican legislatures have done. And like this, this has to get reconciled in a different way because too many people, too many families are being destroyed by this. I don’t know. 


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




DeRay Mckesson, narrating: This week we welcome award winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson and co-director Valerie Scoon on the pod to talk about their new documentary titled, Sound of the Police. Now, the documentary highlights the history of the fraught relationship between Black people and the police. And it is an archival masterpiece. It’s framed around some of the high profile conflicts that you have seen. But it really it’s magic is in the the legacy of it and the history and the archiving of it. So the series is produced by ABC News Studios in association with Firelight Films. It’s available now on Hulu. Here we go. 


DeRay Mckesson: Stanley and Valerie, thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People. 


Stanley Nelson: Thank you. Thanks for having us. 


Valerie Scoon: Yeah, thank you for having us. 


DeRay Mckesson: Now let’s talk about Sound of the Police, what made you, you all have done a lot of work, I’ve seen the documentaries. I’m a fan. I started out as a fan. Why this historical record about the police? Why was this important? You know, we’re coming up on the ten years since uh Mike Brown was killed. So it meant something to me personally. But why was this on your docket of films to make? 


Stanley Nelson: Well, there was so much uh concern about the police, and rightly so. You know, especially after George Floyd died, it was just ratcheted up. And, you know, I thought that there was a historical context for this. And there had been a lot of talk about the police now, but I didn’t see much kind of um relating it to history and the whole history of policing and the history of police. So I thought that that, you know, we could do that. And also I thought it was really important to make the make a film that was not about one case, but was about the police in general, the police as an institution. And that’s, I think, one of the things that this film does. 


DeRay Mckesson: And Valerie, what about you? What was what was special to you in this? I think about how many historians you know, in such a small world of policing. I saw people and I was like, I know them, I know that historian. I know that historian. Uh, what was, did you learn, what did you learn uh as you all put this together? 


Valerie Scoon: Well, I learned a I learned a lot. I mean, I learned also from Stanley as a filmmaker. And I also learned more about the history of Black people and law enforcement. And when Stanley first offered um to bring me on board, I actually did hesitate, um partly because it’s such a large topic. And I, you know, couldn’t quite imagine wrapping my arms around it. Plus, it’s you know upsetting. [laugh] Um. But then Stanley said to me, you know, don’t you have a son? And I was like, Oh, yes, I do. I do. And that gave me pause. Um. And then also um I thought I could contribute with this film, help to contribute to the conversation about um showing showing the history so that we could sort of arrive at a solution. So when you ask, like what did I learn, I think that I had a general idea of the history, but I think I learned in a more specific way, you know, literally how the past was informing the present.


DeRay Mckesson: Now one of the things that sets this apart is, is, like you said is that it is not just an accounting of the present, but it is it is a real historical record. There’s so much archival footage that is woven throughout the film. How was that process of finding it? Is it was there like one of the clips that was like really hard to get and you got it? Or like, how did that? I’m interested in like how you how you found the archival footage, uh especially as you wove it through the current narrative. 


Stanley Nelson: Right. One of the things that we did was that we pitched when we pitched the film to ABC News Studios. And one of the things that we said was that, um you know, it would be centered on a present day case, but that we could start the archival research, the historical research, researching the stories, researching the stills, researching the archival footage. And within that nine months to a year that it would take to put that piece together, that something would happen with the cops and African-Americans, because it always does. And then we started the film. We started doing research, we started getting the archival footage and stills together, and then Amir Locke got killed and we incorporated that into our film process. 


DeRay Mckesson: That was interesting, it was you know, the film starts in uh starts in Minneapolis. I used to live in Minneapolis. And we worked with the city of Minneapolis to ban no knock, uh no knock raids after they, after so much that happened in Minneapolis. Um. Can you talk about the decision to show the open casket? I was surprised by that in the beginning, only because I know so many people who have never seen an open casket funeral. And then uh in the early part of this, there was the open casket. And there were a lot of like, you didn’t bleep out words like it was a very honest recounting. Uh can you talk about those decisions? 


Stanley Nelson: Sure, Valerie do you want to do you want to talk about that? 


Valerie Scoon: Sure. I mean, I think that um. I think. I guess I’d have to go back and talk about, you know, Amir Locke’s parents, Karen Wells and Andre Locke and their um bravery and willingness to talk about their son. Um. I think part of it was we wanted to show you know how he lived. I think that the idea would be to honor him in the same way that um Emmett Till was honored. And also the whole community could come together and bear witness to what had happened. And so I think it was sort of an act of bravery to um share this funeral with all of us. You know and I think that we tried to um you know show his funeral in that regard. 


DeRay Mckesson: And how did you two come together? 


Stanley Nelson: Um. Valerie had made a film um uh in Florida about slavery in Florida, the enslavement in Florida. And um I saw it and and uh and really admired it. And I was looking for someone to to work with me as a co-director and co-producer. And we started talking on that basis. 


DeRay Mckesson: And can you talk about, you know, one of the things that you all paint really well is the historical arc of policing, that the problem didn’t manifest today and didn’t start today. It didn’t start with the protesting years ago or frankly, the protests 30 years ago. It’s a much longer arc. Uh. What do you say to the people who would say you went too far back? Right? Like that I don’t have a personal relationship with enslavement so, you know, it’s just too far back for something to move me today. Can you talk about the decision to start uh start at the beginning in some ways. 


Stanley Nelson: Um. I’ll let Valerie chime in, but I think the opposite of that I I think it’s even more moving because you realize that that the police started, you know, in 1704, um you know, in the Carolinas uh with with the slave catchers. And that, I think is is even more enlightening. And that you, it help it helps you to understand how we got to where we are today. So I think that that in some ways starting, you know, from the beginning of policing um is even um uh hopefully you can draw people in even more than um starting anywhere else. 


Valerie Scoon: Yeah, I think that it is important to sort of start um in the past. And I think that uh not only sort of some aspects of policing intertwined with slave patrols, but I think that Black people’s positioning in the United States, we can understand in the sense of what were the slave patrols up to? You know, they were concerned if they saw a Black person you know off the plantation or seemingly by themselves. Right. They were you know um, I think we understand from the historians, the people we interviewed that there was always a fear of revolt, you know, so that the idea of um quickly being you know curtailed or punished you know for being off plantation and also being considered to be um sort of suspicious so always sort of like guilty by default, you know, these these ideas about Black people and the condemnation of sort of Blackness. You know, is kind of rooted in in slavery. And so I think it’s important to sort of, you know, see that and see you know how that’s operating today, perhaps. 


Stanley Nelson: Yeah. And I also think that that so many people think, oh, you know this thing started with George Floyd. Oh, no, it started with Mike Brown. Oh, no, it started with Eric Garner. Oh, no. It started with the Black Panthers. But we wanted to show it started a long time ago. And in some ways, the the relationship of African-Americans to the police in this country was baked into the cake of this country. And and if we are going to start talking about change, we have to start talking about where the problem really originates. And that is, to me, you know, America’s original sin with allowing the southern states to have to enslave people. 


DeRay Mckesson: And in that in the research part of this and in putting it together, did you did you see any regional differences in the in the historical record of the way that police manifested, or would you say that you saw just the consistency of of the terror? 


Stanley Nelson: I think it’s really clear in the section in the film where we talk about the Great Migration and and African-Americans, you know, migrating out of the South after the Civil War to the north and expecting, um you know, not only to get jobs and a better life, but also that policing would be more fair than it was in the South. And they did not find that they found, again, that they were arrested and harassed and chased back into into ghettos um by the police. And that was really the police police’s job was to do that. Um. And so that is very clear in the film. 


DeRay Mckesson: Boom. You know, the hard thing about this is that the film is so clear that it’s like, you know, people just need to watch it. It’s like that is the that is the take away. It’s like you need to, it is a clear, clear examination of the history of policing and it takes us here. What do you want people to take away when you think about like when people see this, they walk away with what do you want them to walk away with? 


Valerie Scoon: Well, I think that, um you know, a lot of people when I would, you know, mention when I was working on this project, you know, looking at the history of law enforcement and and Black people, they would spark they would say, oh, that’s good, that’s good. We clearly need something to sort of you know shed some light on this. And it was more of a sense of them being like cur– wondering, how did we get here? Like, they didn’t really have an answer, you know, you know, you know how did we get here? And so I think that when I think about you know what can the documentary do, it can help people understand perhaps how we did get here, you know, so that it would spark an interest in them, hopefully, to like, examine it, um examine the history of it with the idea of now using that knowledge to you know find solutions that would be that would improve um policing in Black communities and improve things for law enforcement as well. 


Stanley Nelson: Yeah, I mean, I think that that one of the things that is very clear with the film is that there’s a problem with the institution of the police. And that’s what I think the film does really well is is related all together. So you don’t say, oh, you know, this was just a bad cop that that, you know, Derek Garner. [correction: he meant Chauvin] This was just a bad cop. That stepped on George Floyd’s neck. You know, that that it’s the institution that that that is not working is not working for for people of color. And I think that’s the first step. You know, and and we have to just keep saying that, you know, in so many in as many different ways as we can, that there’s a problem. And I think that one of the things that that, you know, the door is cracked a little bit now, you know, after the incidents of the last few years where more and more people recognize that there are that there is a problem and we just want to keep pushing that door open, you know, and then we can talk about solutions, you know, and then we can find solutions because there is, it can get better. You know, it’s not something that has that that has to be continuously baked into the cake that we keep baking. You know, let’s bake a new cake. 


Valerie Scoon: Yeah and I’ll just add one other thing too, that I remembered is that talking to one of a um the law enforcement um people in our documentary, she mentioned that community relations you know really improved when he um you know met with the community members and they discussed the past and discussed history and they acknowledged it as opposed to acting like it never happened, you know, whether it was a civil rights movement or any of these other things that you know people know about, I think, or even lynchings, you’re looking at the role of that that law enforcement was not always protecting Black people. So for him, he felt like that really opened up the door to sort of improve community relations because, um you know, they’re on the same page as they went forward. 


Stanley Nelson: I think that’s the thing you asked the question again, about the footage. I think that’s the thing that works in the film that we collected so much so much footage of of the police and that you see over and over again you know there’s no way you can say, oh, it’s just a bad cop, or this cop had a bad day, or it’s just a bad police force in Minneapolis, as bad as Minneapolis police are. You know, it’s not if Minneapolis was the only problem, you know, we’d be okay. You know, we can solve that problem really quickly. But but you see over and over again with the footage that it’s not, you know, um just one thing and it happens over and over again um to to African-Americans. And as we state kind of in the thesis in the beginning, you know, there are two forms of policing in this country, one for people of color and another for white folks. And I think we prove that uh thesis, you know, um as we go through the film. 


DeRay Mckesson: Boom. Well film comes out, the film will be out by the time listeners hear this. You should watch it. Make sure that you watch it. Um. There’s a question that we ask everybody who’s been on the pod. But Stanley, you’ve been on the pod before. So I’ll only ask one of them instead of both of them. And it is what do you say to people whose hope is challenged? Right? There are people who are going to watch this, who will remember 2014, who will remember 2020. And will say, God, it still looks the same, right? They’ll say, it doesn’t look like much has changed and what do you say to those people, people whose hope is challenged? 


Stanley Nelson: Um. I think that that for for me, the thing that I always say is change is possible. You know, change is possible. You know, we never thought that that that that the South would change in this country. The civil rights movement, you know, led by African-Americans, rose up and changed the South. It needs to change more. This country needs to change more. But it definitely has changed. Right? If you look at apartheid in South Africa, you know, it was an intractable situation. You know, it was not going to change, but Black people rose up and changed it. And so I do believe in change. You know, you have to believe in change. You have to believe in hope. Um. And so I think, you know, we have to understand that people have the power to make change. And you can’t [?] I mean, it’s not it’s not like [snap] just going to snap your fingers and change is going to be done. You know, it’s a process. It’s a process. You know and we’re headed towards that that movement and headed towards change. 


DeRay Mckesson: Boom, Valerie, what’s yours? What do you say to people whose hope is challenged? 


Valerie Scoon: I would say that I also am hopeful. In fact, I couldn’t have worked on this documentary if I wasn’t hopeful. I mean, well, you know, what would be the point? [laugh] You know, that the to identify a problem and say, that’s it, there’s the problem, we’re done. You know, that’d be very difficult. The only reason why you want to identify a problem or look at history is sort of to improve things, you know. And so I am also optimistic. I feel like when I maybe because I’m a fan of looking at history, I see many things that started, it took a long time for women to get the right to vote. You know, when I look back and I think, oh my gosh, 70 years, not that I hope it’s going to take 70 years now, but you know, it was um quite and the same women were, you know, turning away, you know, um fighting for it, you know. So I think that I do believe that this country um evolves and gets better all the time. And I and I really believe that when people, um you know, really think about it, you know, they’ll want um things to be better both for people of color as well as for law enforcement. So I’m very hopeful. 


Stanley Nelson: Yeah. I just want to say I’m very proud of this film and I’m really glad that that it’s on Hulu starting, you know, August 11th. And, you know, you turn on your TV and you watch it, so um please watch it. 


DeRay Mckesson: Boom.


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