The Return of Damon Young (with Malcolm D. Lee & Elaine Welteroth) | Crooked Media
A BOOK FOR YOUR EYES AND EARS! PRE-ORDER THE DEMOCRACY OR ELSE AUDIOBOOK NOW A BOOK FOR YOUR EYES AND EARS! PRE-ORDER THE DEMOCRACY OR ELSE AUDIOBOOK NOW
February 22, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
The Return of Damon Young (with Malcolm D. Lee & Elaine Welteroth)

In This Episode

The second season of Stuck with Damon Young kicks off with a conversation ripped straight out of the sports headlines. The dying embers of the first ever all-black quarterback Super Bowl matchup are still sizzling, and NBA All Star weekend is at centerstage.

 

Film maker Malcolm D. Lee joins Damon to recount the big game and discuss how the Brooklyn Nets serve as a living illustration of gentrification in New York City.

 

Damon is also joined by author and TV personality Elaine Welteroth. Together, they give advice to a person trying to figure out for themselves whether marriage is the only outcome for love.

 

Send your questions, confessions and/or conundrums in for consideration to be responded to on the podcast at deardamon@crooked.com.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Damon Young: It’s $12 milkshakes, it’s $20 tacos, it’s $4,000 lofts, it’s Trader Joe’s, Target, Whole Foods. What is the relationship between gentrifying white people and curtainless windows? [laughter] 

 

Malcolm Lee: They feel safe. 

 

Damon Young: It’s like they’re making gentrification documentaries, and they want us to witness what they’re able to do, what they’re able to afford, and they want everyone else on the street to be able to see it. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Well, you know, you speak to what was happening in your era. Like people had to close their things because they didn’t want to have people see inside the good shit that they got. Right. Because they’ll get robbed. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: You know. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: And now these folks just feel safe. [music plays] 

 

Damon Young: Welcome back, everyone, to season two, what it do, thought you knew, I freestyle too [laughs] of Stuck with Damon Young. I’m your host. Everyone’s second favorite Pittsburgh nigga, Damon Young. So much happening, so much to get to. And I, I’m so excited that you’re here with me. So excited, actually, that this will be the most excited you’ll ever hear me. [laughs] Don’t get used to all this fucking energy, and this season we’ll be kicking it again with some of my favorite writers comedians, academics, actors, activists, journalists, TV showrunners, and even niggas  from Detroit. To help me help you to help us understand and unpack the world around us. Since it’s the week after the Rihanna concert at the Super Bowl. I’m going to talk to the homie Malcolm Lee, director of The Best Man, Girls Trip, about the game. And then we’ll switch to Brooklyn Nets, gentrification of Brooklyn and in Pittsburgh, and then we’ll get real vulnerable about the relationship between Black art and mainstream critical validation. Also, we’re doing something new, a segment where I guest and I answer a listener submitted question. And today, just in town for Valentine’s Day week. The multi, multi, multi, multi-hyphenate Elaine Welteroth joins me to answer a love letter. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] Malcolm what’s good? 

 

Malcolm Lee: What up brother? 

 

Damon Young: How you doing? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I’m well. Post-Super Bowl. I was born on Super Bowl Sunday. 

 

Damon Young: Oh word? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I don’t know if it’s, it’s fun fact. Fun fact. It was what, and Kansas City was playing in fact. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. You know what? I was born during the I think an AFC championship game and I and I remember my dad telling me that he told like the doctors to like kind of to hurry up my birth [laughter] so that he could get back to to what’s really important. [laughter] The game.

 

Malcolm Lee: Well, my father was in front of the television. He wasn’t at the hospital. He got a phone call that I was born. [laughter] So, but it was different back in the day. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. So, you know, getting back to the Super Bowl and, you know, I didn’t really have a rooting  interest between the Chiefs and Philly’s. You know, people—

 

Malcolm Lee: Me neither. 

 

Damon Young: —presume because I’m from Pittsburgh. You know, I root for the Eagles, but, you know, it’s a, you know we’re six hours away from that, there’s really no connection between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. So my rooting interest, you know, usually when I don’t have rooting interest like that is who has a Black quarterback. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: But then we have two teams. Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, two Black quarterbacks. And so my rooting interests last night I’m a keep it a buck Jalen Hurts is too handsome [laughter] right, and I was like know what, he’s been given enough by God already [laughter] so I’m a just go—

 

Malcolm Lee: That’s understood. 

 

Damon Young: I’m a just, I’m a just go with Mahomes and the Chiefs you know I, and again it wasn’t you know it wasn’t like a sincere serious route, but it’s like, yeah, you know, this niggas been given enough already. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I understand that. 

 

Damon Young: I mean he can host Soul Train or like star in like some [laughter] CSI offshoot if this NFL thing doesn’t work out for him. You know what I mean, so. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I think it will work out for him. He played a hell of a game last night. 

 

Damon Young: He did, he did. 

 

Malcolm Lee: You know what’s great about the fact there’s two black quarterbacks is that you don’t have to root for the Black quarterback now. You just root for your team, you know and so I think that’s what we all been looking for and equity and everything else and like, you know, it’s like there’s no reason why a Giants fan should be rooting for Philadelphia, right? Like, that’s just that doesn’t compute unless it’s like, well, you know, NFC East loyalty, yadda, yadda. Philly fans hate New York. New York, generally speaking, hates Philly fans. I don’t I’m kind of like whatever, you know, like they’re both very intense fanbases. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Philly’s a little bit more intense, I’d say. I didn’t I didn’t have a little rooting interest in the game either. I just want to see a good game. And it was a great game. 

 

Damon Young: It was a great game, yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: It was a great game. So like, you know, hats off to Patrick Mahomes. 

 

Damon Young: So did you watch the, you know, Rihanna’s performance at halftime? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I did. 

 

Damon Young: You did? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I did, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I was with, you know, some people who were much more interested in that than they were in the game. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. Same. 

 

Malcolm Lee: You know, my wife and you know her friends and it was just like, you know, like I was I, you know, I love Rihanna. I think she’s great. You know, I thought she did a great job with like, well, who is she going to bring out? Who’s she going to bring out? Who’s the special guest? Is Drake coming? Is Jay-Z coming? None of that, nobody showed up. 

 

Damon Young: Wait, no, her, her special guest was her baby— [laughter]

 

Malcolm Lee: Exactly. 

 

Damon Young: —that was her, that was her special guest. And, you know, and, you know, inevitably there’s this inevitable comparison between Beyonce and Rihanna. And I–

 

Malcolm Lee: Yep. 

 

Damon Young: —I appreciate them both for two different reasons. Beyonce is the king of doing the most right. Like she you know, her productions, her instrumentation and her like everything. It’s just, you know, Beyonce, that’s that’s her, that her thing. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And Rihanna is gonna give you the least. [laughter] Right?

 

Malcolm Lee: Why you say that?

 

Damon Young: Even her performance it’s it’s like, you know I’m going to give you these hits I’m going to give you like some hand twerking and I’m going to give you this baby, right. And y’all are going to take it. [laughs]

 

Malcolm Lee: By the way, I wasn’t mad at her like, you know, I—

 

Damon Young: And again, I’m not mad at her either, but I, it’s just— 

 

Malcolm Lee: I don’t know I’d characterize it that way. 

 

Damon Young: It is quin— That was a quintessentially Rihanna performance [laughs] just now. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Okay. I don’t even like think about it you know, in those, it’s funny. It’s just I was I was [laughter] we were talking about the the the kind of origin of the the halftime Super Bowl show. And it was, you know, if you recall, it was in Living Color back in the day. That was like the the halftime to go to at Fox, you know, before. 

 

Damon Young: I remember. Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: But before that it was like, you know, like marching bands and all kinds of that thing, the following year, they, you know, like because, because it was so popular, even the second half of the game wasn’t, you know, as widely televised or widely watched. So now they got like, you know, so now it’s always like about, okay, how do we keep elevating this or like top what we did before? 

 

Damon Young: And so you’re also, you know, to shift gears a bit, you are going to go to the All-Star Game, to the NBA All-Star Game. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I am, I’m gonna go to Utah. 

 

Damon Young: You’re gonna go to Utah. You know, you’re you know, if you stayed behind an extra day or two after the All-Star Weekend is over, you’re going to double the Black population in the state. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Thinking of the NBA, thinking of All-Star Weekend. You know, I can’t help but think about what’s happening in Brooklyn right now [laughs] with the Nets. And yeah, I mean, what what is your take on just that whole situation? What is going on with the Brooklyn Nets right now? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I have to say, when they first got KD and Kyrie. It was exciting. I thought the team that was there already with D’Angelo and Caris LeVert the big man there—

 

Damon Young: Oh, Jarrett Allen. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Thank you, Jarrett Allen. You know the fro right and I thought that was a good team but then bring it on you know KD and Kyrie and letting D’Angelo go to the Golden State like you know what that’s a good team like that you got some good role players you got two alpha dog stars. And then they got greedy. Like, you know, you make Steve Nash the coach who never coached, never even had any coaching aspirations as far as anyone of us knew. Why does he get that job? Number one, they tell him oh, we’re all going to be coaches. What? Come on, that’s stupid. And so then you get greedy and you want to trade away the entire team to get James Harden. And they were never on the court at the same time. Now, I will say, if Kyrie doesn’t go down in the playoffs against the Bucks, they probably win that series. 

 

Damon Young: They win a championship. 

 

Malcolm Lee: And probably win the championship. 

 

Damon Young: They win the championship that year. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Probably, you know, you listen the pandem was hard for everybody, Kyrie didn’t to want to take the vaccination da da da da. Okay, he only believes, I get it, but it’s been a problem, man like. That, force trick. I don’t like this new like I’m unhappy. I’m out of here. Right. Like, it’s it’s rampant. I feel like people should have autonomy, right? I think the players should have the right to make the best decision for themselves and their team. Right. And the situation. Right. You know, so the players should have some empowerment, but you should honor your agreement. Right. And make the most of it, in my opinion. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. So just thinking about the Nets and thinking about Brooklyn. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: The only time that we, you know, met face to face, we met up at the Barclays Center for the NBA Draft in 2019. And I remember me and you were hanging and, this funny story, too, because Spike Lee, your cousin, was there and you introduced me to him. And I had, like, this whole preamble plan, like, you know, Spike, I’m a big fan of, you know, etc., etc.. He Got Game, Malcolm X, whatever. And this nigga was so focused on the draft. [laughs]

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And, and no paid me no amount. And again I get it he was he was focused he was focused on who the Knicks were gonna draft. This was the Zion, RJ Barrett—

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: All those guys draft. But it was just I had this big thing planned. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Ja Morant—

 

Damon Young: Was Morant that year? 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes. Ja Morant was number two. 

 

Damon Young: Right, right, right. Ja was that year too. 

 

Malcolm Lee: That’s right. 

 

Damon Young: Right, yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Zion, Ja, and then we got RJ.

 

Damon Young: Right. Wow. But I was thinking about just the Barclays Center. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And this is something that I didn’t realize until I read some more stuff about it, about how this center was like this not just an indicator, but like the pinnacle of Brooklyn gentrification where, you know, it was built there. It creates this bottleneck, you know, this traffic jam that didn’t really exist before, even in Nets. The Nets existence in Brooklyn was, I guess, very similar to some of the white settlers who were come through colonizers who would come through with their $45,000 a month condos [laughs] and and, you know, $15 donuts and etc., etc.. And there was an article that I read that was about Barclays and gentrification and the Nets, and it was from SB Nation back in December. And a titled article was why the Barclays Center is the worst arena in America. And I’m a just read a paragraph and I want your thoughts on it. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Okay. 

 

Damon Young: The Nets moved to Brooklyn, mirrored a typical gentrifiers path to the city. They lived in New Jersey throughout their miserable adolescence. They came here because they thought they could remake themselves in a big city unfamiliar with them. Throw on some hip new threads, buy some new friends, and we all forget the shitty, awkward Jerseyites they once were. And appropriately, that’s the very fan base the Nets would attract. Back in 2012, the easiest way to tell someone who wasn’t from New York was a Nets jersey or hat.  

 

Malcolm Lee: Well, that’s a funny analogy. I think when they first came to Brooklyn, I think they were like kind of, you know, the bastard child of New York Tri-State Area Sports. 

 

Damon Young: Mmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: The Barclays Center. When I first saw it, I was like, look at that ugly ass building, you know? [laughter] And they really didn’t feel great or warm or, like, cool even. It just felt like big and expensive and whatnot. And I think it’s gotten better over the years in terms of its profile. I don’t think that there are as many corny people rooting for the Nets. Like I always say that necessarily is the fan base. I’ll say two things about it. One, the brothers that attend Nets games are very, very Brooklyn. Right. They all got the dope kicks. They got the hoodies. They swagged out, you know, and they B-boys from Brooklyn. Old, old time B-boys from Brooklyn. Just cool Black folks that are in there. And a lot lot of Black people in there. 

 

Damon Young: I noticed. Yeah, I’ve noticed. Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. When I first went to a game this year, I was like, oh, look at this. I like I like the vibe in here. But, you know, half the arena roots for the other team, their fanbase is not strong. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And I think that this article was more speaking to, the gentrifier, like the hipster gentrifier who, you know, is synonymous with certain parts of Brooklyn, particularly like Williamsburg or whatever. And you know, who comes to the game, you know, who are not fans of the game, but are just, you know, this is the next cool thing to be seen at, particularly when they get KD and Kyrie. But yet, like me, I’m a fan of basketball, so I’m going to go wherever the best basketball’s being played. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Sure. 

 

Damon Young: So if I lived in Brooklyn. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: While KD and Kyrie were there, I would have got season tickets, like I would have been at every game because I am just a fan. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Of good Ba— But I’m a I’m a basketball mercenary where I do not have a team allegiance. I am a fan of whoever has [laughs] whoever my favorite players are playing for. Like I make I make no. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: I have no shame about that. And so to your point, you know, I’m sure there are people who would attend the games who were just diehards who just want to see some good ball being played. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. And by the way, that’s not the whole of the base. And, you know, in terms of the whole gentrification, that was a big thing. Like, I remember my dad talking about it, something that, you know, my father has a house in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. That’s where I grew up. 

 

Damon Young: Where do you live now? I mean, what borough? 

 

Malcolm Lee: Now I’m in Westchester. I’m out of the borough and I can’t afford— 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Malcolm Lee: —Brooklyn anymore, you know, And I know that’s funny to hear, but it’s the truth. Right. And so, like my dad, I remember because he’s very much a Black nationalist and it’s always down with the people and whatever. And he was just like, man, this is going to be a big old mess, blah, blah, blah. Ratner has no business building this thing there and over the Atlantic Yards. And by the way, Atlantic and Flatbush is always been busy. 

 

Damon Young: Mmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Without the Barclays Center, right? It’s always been like a mad traffic going to and from there because it’s a major thruway getting into Manhattan. But what they built up in Brooklyn and Fort Greene and downtown Brooklyn and Crown Heights and Williamsburg to your point, Greenpoint, Bushwick, it’s all gentrified. And gentrification would be cool if the stuff that was being built was for the people that lived there. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: You know, the coffee shops and the yoga things and the yogurt shops and whatever else. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, we like. We like good burgers. 

 

Malcolm Lee: We like all that shit—

 

Damon Young: And good milkshakes and yoga. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Goat cheese. Give me a goat cheese omelet, man. I’m down with it. 

 

Damon Young: Niggas need yoga too niggas niggas especially need yoga. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: All the shit that we got to deal with. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes, no doubt. No doubt. And so, you know, if it was being built for us, it’d be not be a problem. Same thing happened in Harlem. You know, that’s the that’s the issue, right? Like, nobody cares about it until white people do. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: That’s age old. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. It’s a similar thing happening that’s happened and is currently happening in a neighborhood that I grew up in. It’s a neighborhood in Pittsburgh called East Liberty. And what I grew up there in the nineties. I mean, we had like Bloods, Crips, you know, other gangs, you know, drive bys on my street, my house got shot up before. Yeah, it I mean, it was crazy. I seen people get shot, shit like that. And thing is, I’m not I feel like sometimes people tell these stories to like give them some sort of like Blackness, bona fides or whatever. Like, you know, I’m from the hood, so, you know, I’m authentically Black, but it’s just that is where I’m from. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? That’s the neighborhood I’m from. And so East Liberty right now, it’s $12 milkshakes. It’s $20 tacos. It’s $4,000 lofts. It’s Trader Joe’s, Target, Whole Foods. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yep. 

 

Damon Young: You know, I mean, Warby Parker, sidebar, what is the relationship between gentrifying white people and curtainless windows? [laughter] Because if you go to if you go to any of these neighborhoods right that have been recently gentrified and the buildings all look the same and you look up in there and you can look straight up in there because none of them have curtains on their windows. 

 

Malcolm Lee: They feel safe. 

 

Damon Young: It’s like they’re making gentrification documentaries and they want us to witness, you know, what they’re able to do, what they’re able to afford, you know, the fucking Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn shit that they got in their crib and they want everyone else on the street to be able to see it. And it has always fascinated me because it’s the it’s everywhere thing, wherever there’s a recently gentrified—

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: —neighborhood and you have those buildings, you will not see curtains in any of the motherfucking windows. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Well, you know, you speak to what was happening in your era. Like people had to close their things because they didn’t want to have people see inside the good shit that they got. Right. Because they’ll get robbed. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: You know, And now these folks just feel safe, like whatever, you know, and they got and they got cameras and Ring bells and all that kind of other shit. So, you know.

 

Damon Young: I’ve never like, done any sort of robbery, but it’s tempting [laughter] like it’s tempting when I’m walking by there, you know? And again, I’m in my I’m in my old neighborhood. I have to be honest, too. You know, I’m in a position now where, yeah, I could afford to live in some of those places, too. You know what I mean? I couldn’t always. But. But now I could. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right? 

 

Damon Young: But to your point, it’s like, why do we have to be pushed out? Now the $4,000 lofts, that’s one thing. But we appreciate a good burger. We appreciate yoga, we appreciate Whole Foods. We appreciate walkable streets and and community and, you know, activities and fairs and all that stuff. And so it’s like, well, why did this sort of investment need to happen in the community? You know, why did it have to happen at the expense of us? 

 

Malcolm Lee: I mean, look, I think it’s the age old stereotypes of property values going down when Black people move into a neighborhood. Right. It’s something that is still inherent, still in the fabric of the feeling around the country. And there was so much white flight that happened in the sixties or whatever and and went to the suburbs and now they want to move back. And so, you know, I remember when the Starbucks came on 125th Street in Harlem, and I was like, oh, that’s cool. And my father was like, nope, that ain’t for us. That’s for white people. And here they come. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: This is kind of shifting gears a bit, but it’s still kind of related to the same topic of our relationship with America and even with whiteness. And so I’m a big fan of your work. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Thank you. 

 

Damon Young: I feel like Undercover Brother is the most underrated comedy that has been released in the last 30 years. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Thank you. 

 

Damon Young: Because I feel like it’s up there with the iconic comedies that have been released, but I don’t know if it gives that same sort of love of like the Superbad and the Talladega Nights and the 40 year Old Virgin. 

 

Malcolm Lee: No. 

 

Damon Young: Stepbrothers and movies of that nature. But I think it’s like it’s right there, right there in that class. And with the Best Man, you created characters that we’ve grown up with. You know, the best man was released when I was in college. What year was that? What? 98? 

 

Malcolm Lee: 1999. 

 

Damon Young: 99. 99. I was in college. Right. And so what? 20, 25 years later, we still have these relationships with these characters, relationships with the actors who are playing the characters, right. At this point, they are almost like family in not just the characters. We know the archetype that the characters are based off. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And the character in particular that I’m interested in is Harper. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: You know, because we’re both writers, and Harper is a writer. Right. Harper’s got in hot water, in the first Best Man for revealing some things that he did in his book. I got in some hot water. Well, I didn’t get in any hot water, but I could have. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. With some of the things that I reveal in my memoir. Right. And so in your series, Harper has some anxiety about, you know, he’s this uber successful artist, right? 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know, successful enough to be able to buy a brownstone. And what was upper was it Upper West Side or Lower? 

 

Malcolm Lee: Upper West Side. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And which that was my one bone to pick. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I’m listening. 

 

Damon Young: Because I don’t know any authors who make that much money laughter] to be able to afford a brownstone. They’re like, he must be on some Stephen King type shit. Yeah, I mean, you must be selling that many books. But he very successful author, you know. But his books don’t necessarily get the same sort of critical acclaim. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: That he wants. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah, yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And so he has some anxiety about that and ends up writing a book that wins a Pulitzer. And so I’m wondering, I guess, what’s your own relationship with your work? Mm hmm. Right. And you’ve made this work that has that an entire generation of Black people have grown up on. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: But, you know, in terms of, like, Oscar, Emmy sort of things, your work hasn’t necessarily been the sort of work that gets that sort of buzz. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Right. Right. 

 

Damon Young: And I’m wondering if there were any connections with the Harper character and maybe any of your own feelings, because I’ll admit that I still. Look to certain validations that are outside of the community. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And I’m wondering what your relationship is with that. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Well, let me let me go back by saying when I made Best Man, it was largely because there was a lack of seeing people like me on screen, Black people, aspirational, educated, who had all that universal hang ups and desires and whatnot, career, wanted to find love, wanted to be loved, wanted to make a good friend group. And so I spoke to that. Right. And really my mission really has been like to keep elevating that and normalizing Black life in America. Like, that’s been the goal, right? And Black people and the culture appreciate that. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Because that’s like. That’s me. And not only was I showing it to a larger group, but I wanted us to feel good about ourselves. You know, a lot of hood movies, a lot of, like, you know, caricature ish, educated Black people on screen. The woman is really snooty, or the dude is really like, oh, hello, how are you? You know, you know, checking his ethnicity at the door, whatever. And that was not true and authentic to me. So. You know, as I as I go further my career and you start to see, you know, the Ryan Coogler’s of the world and Kasi Lemmons and Ava DuVernay and Jenkins. Barry Jenkins. 

 

Damon Young: Barry Jenkins yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Making these movies and, oh my God, it’s so amazing and duh duh duh duh. And then and by the way, the work is amazing, right? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I definitely had a feeling, like, right after Night School, where I was like, God. And by the way, even before Night School, I’ve been wanting to tell an Oscar story. An Oscar movie, right? Like, cause I want I want to be in those conversations. First of all, Undercover Brother, Girls Trip. Other films that I’ve done, they’re not talking about the way they talk about like Judd Apatow, Right? They’re not talking about me like Tom Shadyac or whatever. I’m like. But these movies are very funny, right? And people enjoy them. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. Really quickly, I didn’t mention Girls Trip that I had of my top three cinematic experiences in terms of going [laughter] to the theater the same week Girls Trip, wait it was Girls Trip and it was Get Out. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Those those are my top two in terms of like— 

 

Malcolm Lee: Get Out, an amazing movie. 

 

Damon Young: You know, first week audience participation— 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: There’s nothing that could replicate that experience of seeing those two movies that Friday in the theater. So anyway, go on. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Jordan Peele is another one, right? Like, that’s a revolutionary movie. Get Out’s a revolutionary movie. That just guy killed every white person in the house and all and choked out a white woman. Right? And didn’t go to jail. Right. So I was I was getting a little bit bothered like, oh, why aren’t I in those conversations? Right. But that’s how they separate us anyway. But there are some Black folks that do squeak through, right? So I was like, you know what? I got to make my Oscar movie. And I tried to do that after Night School. I was like, you know what? No comedy. I’m not going to engage on the Uptown Saturday night remake. I’m not going to do Coming to America 2, I’m going to like, do this movie about the 1968 Olympics, which I’ve been wanting to do, you know, since I was 20. Since I first heard that story. And so it didn’t happen. We were scouting and I was rewriting script and casting and whatnot, and it got to a place where like the movie fell apart and I was like, damn. Like I was really upset by it. A month later, I get offered Space Jam, which is a big  you couldn’t get further away from a [laughter] from a Oscar movie, right? And I’m just like, you know what? This is what the universe wants for me, and maybe it’ll come back around again, right? Like wanting to be validated in that way was important to me. And I think it will be again. Right now, I’m just kind of like, okay, it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and I’ll make the product that I feel passionate about. Period. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Malcolm Lee: And do those because it takes away a year of your life, at least to make a project. Right. And I think with some of the things that I do have in development, then I could get there. But I look at, you know, my good friend Gina Prince-Bythewood, who made The Woman King. Right. Completely shut out performances, the craftsman cinematography, the costumes, the direction, the writing. Butkus. Right from the academy. And she spoke on it, right? And she should have. But I also said to her, like, you know what, we can’t expect we, we, and and she said in the article, we think we’re going to get something more from these institutions. We expect them to be better, and they’re simply not. And it’s just like you can’t get too upset about it. But at the same time, you have to get upset because, like, it’s like you said, we all want greater recognition. That movie is on the level like Braveheart, Right? Why does Braveheart resonate so much with them? Because it’s white. It’s white men, dark skinned Black women having their own agency and killing motherfuckers and getting away with it. They’re like, I don’t I can’t relate. I don’t see what that is. Right. And so it’s sad and it’s it’s upsetting. But we can’t we have to, you know, lower our expectations, keep aiming high for what we want, but lower our expectations for what the larger group is going to give to us. 

 

Damon Young: And I bring this up because in my industry, with writing books, having a great critical reception, unless you’re like someone like motherfucking Tom Clancy or Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or whatever, who is just so, so big that a review is not going to—

 

Malcolm Lee: Or Tyler Perry. 

 

Damon Young: —or whatever [laughs] right. Where a review or list is not going to mess with you. But for the majority of us, you know what I mean? Getting certain critical lauds, getting on certain, you know, best of the year list. That’s the sort of thing that leads to awards, that’s the sort of thing, that leads to bigger book deals. And it also leads to the sort of supplemental income that if you’re a working writer, you’re able to survive on. So you’re able to command instead of getting $4,000 for speaking to parents, you could get ten. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Mhm. 

 

Damon Young: And so if you get ten and you do like seven of those a year, that’s that’s a nice, really nice chunk of change. 

 

Malcolm Lee: I’d say so. 

 

Damon Young: Right. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: There’s stuff like that where it has an actual tangible relationship to your, to your well-being. 

 

Malcolm Lee: 100%. 

 

Damon Young: To your livelihood. 

 

Malcolm Lee: 100%. And it puts you in different conversations as well. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. So even though there is this compulsion, this want the desire to be like, man, fuck these motherfuckers, that compulsion doesn’t jive with the actual physical, tangible reality of the business that we’re both in. 

 

Malcolm Lee: Yes. And I guess my point in it, you know, I used to feel like, oh, like, what’s so unfair? And I’m just like, you know what? You can’t we cannot expect anything more from them, right? Like you said, they fuck with it, they fuck with it? And it’s just like, you know, and you just got to point their that shit out and be like, well, that’s how y’all are. Cool. Whatever. We gonna do, we gonna keep stepping. I guess my point of it also is if we lower expectations, then we won’t get hurt as much. It’s still going to hurt, but like, you know, like it’s mental gymnastics. It’s a whole lot of like, why and uh. And you start feeling bad about yourself and it’s like, you know what? No, I did the damn thing. It was cool. The fact that Tiffany Haddish didn’t get nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Girl’s Trip is criminal. Criminal? Right. Melissa McCarthy, who’s fantastic, got that nomination for Bridesmaids. She deserved it. Right. Because like, okay, you acknowledge comedy and how brilliant she was. Tiffany Haddish was that same person. But you know what? The Academy members did not see Girls Trip. They did not see The Woman King. They did not see it, they were like, well, you know, I don’t think that’s for me. I hear it’s great, but I don’t think I want to see that. You got to get them in the room. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Malcolm Lee: That’s part of it also, getting them to watch. 

 

Damon Young: Malcolm, thank you. Thank you so much for doing this, for coming through. I appreciate it. 

 

Malcolm Lee: My pleasure. 

 

Damon Young: What can people looking for Malcolm Lee look forward to 2023? 

 

Malcolm Lee: Malcolm Lee is going to sleep, gonna get some rest. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for the better part of three years. I want to try to, like, spend a little time with the family. I want to try to do a little traveling, enjoy the fruits of my labor a little bit, and also my company, Blackmaled Productions. We’re in, doing a lot of development and hopefully producing some things, maybe a film and hopefully some television this year. But me, I’m not behind the camera. Maybe by the end of the year I will be. Or a year from now I will be. A year from now, you will not get me on this podcast. 

 

Damon Young: Hey, hey, hey. All right man, I appreciate it. 

 

Malcolm Lee: No problem. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: Up next, Damon hates. So I feel like if you were to just ask any random people, any random person in any city who are the worst drivers in your city, you’re going to have some city specific people. Like, for instance, if you ask a Pittsburgher that question. They’ll probably name people on Carson Street or Pitt students or CMU students or people who don’t know how to drive through the tunnels. Right. And again, regardless of where you’re from, you’re going to have that thing where you’re going to have people that are brought up, sometimes the same people or sometimes people mention women or sometimes people get racist and mentioned Asians or whatever. But there is one population of people that is never mentioned. When people talk about the worst drivers and that’s police. Police are by far the worst drivers in every city, in every community and every county and every state. They run red lights all the time at their whim. When they are in your vicinity, they make everyone else drive worse because you’re anxious that there’s a cop nearby. You know, they speed past you, they cause accidents, they cause accidents, and then blame the person that they hit for causing the accident. I don’t know how many people police have killed in car accidents, people who have been blamed for their own death because they get in a crash with a police officer who was speeding through a red light to catch a motherfucking shoplifter. Right. So all I’m saying is that when you think of the worst drivers, when you think of this list again, please, please, please, please, please name the motherfucking police. [music plays] Up next. Elaine Welteroth and I will, enhance your life, not fix. We ain’t doing that around here, but enhance your life. With our advice. 

 

Listener Question: Dear Damon, I’m no commitment phobe. I’ve been in my fair share of drive by Vegas chapel relationships. Meaning I was drunk or high the entire time. And by the end of it, I didn’t know who was in bed with me. But I’ve been going to therapy, and I stopped drinking. The excitement fueled my relationships before. Now that I found someone I’m committed to and who committed to me without all of the turbulence disguised as excitement. I don’t really know if marriage is for me. I love being in love and building a life with my partner, but I don’t know if I want marriage for my life, my missing something, or is marriage the only next step? 

 

Damon Young: Elaine is a journalist, author, editor, TV host. She was the editor at Teen Vogue. You can find her on TV pretty much any time of the day. She’s a judge on Project Runway. So many things that she does. Elaine. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Damon. 

 

Damon Young: What’s good?

 

Elaine Welteroth: [laughs] Oh, this is a doozy. Who wants to tackle this first? You or me? 

 

Damon Young: I feel like. There are two separate things here. Like, there’s the excitement part, which is like what defines excitement in a relationship. And then there’s a whole different question about marriage. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: You know, in terms of like, is marriage a realistic goal for everyone. Should that be an aspiration. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: So maybe let’s go with the first one, the excitement part. I mean, what are your thoughts about what she had to say about that? 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Well, first of all, I’m going to say as a married person. Marriage is not for everyone. And I also think there’s a major call on all of us considering marriage to really redefine marriage for yourself. I do think that marriage needs to be redefined for everyone. It shouldn’t look the same for everyone. But speaking to the excitement piece of this, let’s start there. Like, okay, I have to say that a lot of times. The people who make us feel the butterflies and that crazy love. There’s usually some chaos. I think it’s easy to get addicted to chaos in a relationship, particularly when you’re younger or where you have less experience in relationships. And like I will admit, while I married the nicest guy ever and the guy who made me feel the safest, I definitely dated some. I dated a drug dealer, you know what I mean? Like, that was my first love for five and a half years. And I understand the draw to the kind of chaotic love that’s problematic. And there’s a lot of dysfunction. And I think it’s easy to get chemically addicted to chaos in a relationship. And it’s easy to mistake love like it’s easy to mistake toxic relationships with love. And I think it takes time to get comfortable with the idea that real, sustainable love is often it often elicits the exact opposite chemical reaction. In us, it’s actually the calmest, most sane, most like [laughter] you know, healthy kind of connection that sometimes can be confused with boredom. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: So like, I think that what we have labeled love or in love is often dysfunctional, chaotic and toxic. 

 

Damon Young: I mean, we could go back to, you know, our first I don’t know, our first interactions in terms of not in terms of what we saw in front of us, but cinematically or we read in books or read in fairy tales. And all of those relationships were terrible. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Romeo and Juliet died [laughter] right you know what I mean. And their families were warring against each other. You know, Cinderella, Rapun— Like you could just go down the list of like these, Beauty and the Beast, of these like these terrible— 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Beauty and the Beast is really toxic. 

 

Damon Young: Awful relationships that were the standard. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yep. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? It’s like, you know what? This is what we need to aspire to. This is what we need to have in order to feel fulfilled, in order to be validated, in order to, you know, to have that social proof of being in love or whatever. But I’m going to pivot just a tiny bit here. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Pivot. One of my favorite words. Just kidding. [laughter] Just kidding. 

 

Damon Young: So my rigorous pivot. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Uh huh. 

 

Damon Young: Is that I think sometimes, though, when you have people in these circumstances who have are used to dysfunction. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And then they find a man, whatever person who is not dysfunctional. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And they are bored. And they’re thinking to themselves, you know what’s wrong with me? Why? Why doesn’t this feel right? I think sometimes there is an overcorrection. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Where be like with a woman in this instance might be trying to force a round hole or a square peg in a round hole where maybe this guy is nice, this guy is safe, this guy is solid, but you still need attraction. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And maybe she’s just thinking like, you know what? I’ve dated all the fuck boys or whatever. I’ve done all this. And there must be something wrong with me because I don’t like this guy that much. But maybe you just don’t like this guy this much. And I feel like that needs to be taken into account. Also, that possibility of that happening. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Or maybe you’re not done with your work. And by the way, is this a woman? Do we know that this is a woman and not a man? 

 

Damon Young: It is a woman in this circumstance yeah. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: It’s interesting because as I read this the first time, I thought it was a woman and I had a certain opinion and then I read it again and I thought of it as a man and I thought, this fuck boy. One thing I will say, whether this is a man a woman, straight, queer, otherwise, whatever they identify. What I really love about this question is the self-awareness. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Because there’s a lot of people who end up in relationships, and for whatever reason, they are resistant to long term commitment or resistant to marriage. But they haven’t done the work to even identify that there is a lack of excitement and that there is this indifference to or resistance to marriage. And this person is is literally they’re clear that they love being in love and they love building a life with their partner, but they don’t know if they want marriage for their life. And that is a really I think it takes a in evolved person to be able to say out loud, I love you. I want to build a life with you. I don’t know yet if marriage is for me. And I think the world would be a better place if more people had that kind of self-awareness and clarity and honest communication, both with themselves and with their partner. Because it just opens up the dialogue. And I think a lot of times in relationships, the M word like marriage, it’s like a looming dark cloud for one of them. And then it’s like a big elephant in the room for the other where it’s like, I want to talk about it, I want to talk about it, but I want them to bring it up. But I don’t. You know, and I love that this question, just like it’s clarifying, it’s like, hey, let’s talk about it. Let’s put this conversation about marriage on the table. And let me lead by saying, I don’t know if is for me and I’m not dense enough to say like, this is where I’m going to stay forever. I’m actually I want to ask the question. I’m curious, am I missing something? I also really love that they’re not looking at this like through this like false binary where it’s like we either get married or we don’t. It’s like, is marriage the only next step? They’re kind of leaving this open ended question that invites creativity, curiosity, and this opportunity to redefine what the next step of this relationship could look like sans marriage. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Or actually could end up allowing these two people to redefine what the kind of marriage is that they would want to sign up for, whether it’s with that person or not. 

 

Damon Young: This question speaks to like a larger cultural conversation that is happening right now where people who are married, you know, and I include myself as one of them. And you alluded to your own conversations about your own marriage, are really just investigating and interrogating, deconstructing just the concept of marriage. What does it mean to be married? 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yes. So important.

 

Damon Young: And like a question that we’ve asked ourselves is like, well, if we were the first ever married couple. What would our marriage look like? Like, what would it look like if it existed outside of, like, tradition or like these expectations of roles and expectations of behavior? You know what? If we just, you know, made like a bespoke sort of marriage, like people have bespoke relationships, but like a a relationship, a marriage that is tailored specifically to your own sensibility, your own livelihoods, your own desires. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: That’s so good. 

 

Damon Young: You know, how would that look? 

 

Elaine Welteroth: That’s what every marriage should be, in my opinion. By the way. 

 

Damon Young: I’m curious, though, like for you, like, when did you recognize that you wanted to be married? Was it when you were dating your husband and were like, you know what, I’m going to marry this man? Or did you have, like, a desire to be married, to be in that sort of long term, you know, partnership before you met him or before you were with him? 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Well, I think to your earlier point about pop culture’s influence on how we view partnership and marriage. I definitely was poisoned by the Disney Princess syndrome. Let’s call it where it’s like some prince is going to come along and save me from my life and myself and and it’s going to give me a castle. And you know what I mean? It’s like there is this and it’s perpetuated even by more modern day. Well, now it’s still considered passé or a little bit older. But like Sex and the City is what I grew up on and what inspired in some ways kind of subliminally my move to New York and the career path that I chose. And then by extension, the kind of guy that I thought I was supposed to date. I thought I was supposed to date a Big, you know, with a suit and a tie and a briefcase and this big money man. And they are going to give me this penthouse in the sky and build my closet. And then I could be the creative one. And I can write and I can wear cute clothes that somebody else paid for and, you know, like that whole thing. And it’s not something that you’re super conscious of, right. But it’s in there. And so I would say I dated enough guys that really embodied those tropes that I had been conditioned to be attracted to. I had done that enough to know that actually wasn’t it for me. And those relationships didn’t work out. I didn’t feel like myself in those dynamics. I didn’t feel as powerful as I am. There wasn’t space for me to. And so by the time that I re met my husband as adults, because we actually knew each other as preteens, but when we met each other as adults, like literally before him, every guy there was this like butterfly feeling and this like excitement, this, my heart was beating a little bit faster. My mouth would get a little dry when they didn’t text me back right away. I’d be like, oh my God, do they like me still? Or what is going on? Like, you know, I would have these crazy visions if they were, like, out of reach for too long of me, like, wilin out and, like, it was just way more volatile in general. And then when I met my husband as an adult. He made me feel completely at ease, completely myself and completely safe. And I was mature enough and had gone through enough to know by that point that this is a feeling I actually like and I want to feel more of this. And it gave me room to expand and blossom as a woman professionally and in all these ways. And so I think but by that point I was also a bit jaded by the failures of all of these relationships prior. And I remember specifically like, so I’m the product of a long marriage. My parents are still together. They’re married almost 40 years, but I’ve watched them go through some things that I don’t necessarily want to walk through and some things that I don’t know that I would sign up for or stay through. And I was raised by parents that kind of married each other. Marriage, by my parent’s definition, was a commitment to a commitment. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: And that doesn’t sound fun to me, right? Like, through all types of turbulence and trauma. And so by the time I met my who would become my husband, I was like, listen, I’m not signing up for forever. Like, unconditionally. I’m not. I want us to be together as long as it’s healthy and it’s fun and it feels good for us. I believe that we can continue cultivating this beautiful dynamic that we have with each other forever. I believe that. I don’t know that, and neither do you. So why do we have to get married? Like, if it’s working, let’s just leave it how it is. And. And I became kind of, like, noncommittal about marriage, and because I was more interested in just having a healthy dynamic with somebody and just, like, rocking with it as long as we can. You know what I mean? I didn’t need to have a signed papers, if anything. All of that really scared me and I had a lot of resistance around it. So that’s from that perspective. I really relate to this person’s question like. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: I didn’t feel that marriage was necessary and I wondered if I was missing something too, because I was a very different woman in this relationship where I wasn’t pining for a ring. I wasn’t wondering when he was going to pop the question. I actually told him at one point in our relationship. I love you so much. But please do not propose to me. [laughter] I really did. And then we had to unpack that and. And I said. I said, I want to know. And I. This is the most. This is like, the least romantic thing I could ever say. But I want to know that if I marry somebody, that divorce is on the table. And he said to me. Divorce can be on the table. I love you enough to try my best to make you happy for as long as we live. If we get to a point where you are no longer happy and I know that I’ve tried everything and I can not make you happy, I would let you go in love. And yo, I said to him that this is the most romantic thing anybody [laughter] could ever say to me at this stage of my life. And in that moment I was like, I want to marry this man. This is this this one right here. I want to marry him. 

 

Damon Young: That and that’s it. I mean, that’s a pretty radical, I guess. I guess entry into marriage is to prioritize or not prioritize, but acknowledge, divorce, acknowledge and divorce not necessarily be in a failure of a relationship. Marriage, but just a transition. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: It’s like, you know, this isn’t, it worked for what it worked. This might not be right for us anymore. So we’re going to go separate ways. And again, I feel like it’s the sort of thing where if a divorce is to considered in that context, that means that there’s a possibility of reconciliation. Like, you know what? This was a stage, and now I’m in another stage and now we’re maybe back together. You know, instead of looking at divorce as like this, this representation of failure, you know, considering it a representation of a re-imagining, a representation of happiness, of the pursuit of—

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: —happiness and safety and care. You know, in my background, I guess with my parents somewhat similar, they were married, whatever, for 30 something years. My mom passed ten years ago. My dad’s a widower and I witnessed them go through some shit also, like some serious like, why are you all still together type shit? [laughs] You know, I mean, and not even like, you know, when you mention that, I feel like I have to be clear. I’m not talking about, like, infidelity or some shit like that. Or at least stuff that. I mean, I’m a kid, so I don’t know. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Right. 

 

Damon Young: I’m just witnessing arguments about finances, arguments about how to raise me. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Right. 

 

Damon Young: You know, about where to live. And those are those sorts of things that can ruin a relationship, too, you know? But I grew up, I think, wanting to get married. And then I was in a couple of relationships. Then I was single for for a minute. And this is like back in late 2011, 2012. And I was thinking to myself, you know what? I think I’m good. I think I’m good on marriage. Like I think I’m good with this. I think I’m going to date, I’m going to have fun. I’m going to be free. And then I met well, I didn’t meet my wife, but I fell in love with her. She was a friend. And then I found someone who I wanted to be married to. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And that kind of just shifted my perspective completely. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: What was it about the relationship and about her that shifted your perspective and made you feel like you actually wanted to be married? 

 

Damon Young: Everything just felt right. Like, I just. I just ultimately just felt like I could be myself. In a way, I didn’t feel self-conscious. I don’t feel self-conscious. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: I felt free. Which, again, is a I feel like, as a counter-intuitive thing to say. While you know, you are pursuing a commitment with someone, but I feel really free. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: You know, again, to be me. And also, I wanted her to be herself too. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: This is becoming really romantic. [laughter]

 

Damon Young: You know, we go Stuck with Damon Young travels whatever path, just like the marriage conversation. Just like the marriage, which whichever path is available and is opens up for us, that’s the path we will travel down. I mean, we started off of off boys. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Mm hmm, mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: We started off with Disney and now we’re on some, you know, some romantic re-imagining, radical 22nd century, [laughs] you know, understanding of what marriage you know, what marriage. What, what, being coupled. Right. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Being coupled. I love that framing. 

 

Damon Young: Could and should be. You know. Elaine, thank you for coming on. This has been a pleasure. You are like a multi-hyphenate [laughter] with, a thousand jobs. I feel like you’re one of the few people where it feels like any time of the day I turn on my TV, I can see [laughter] it could be 11 a.m., it could be 6 p.m., I could be at the gym, I could be home. I can click on like a YouTube video and see an ad that you’re in like you are. You are everywhere right now. I mean, so weird. I guess. Like I usually ask people where can they find you? But it’s like, just turn on your fucking TV. [laughter] 

 

Elaine Welteroth: In a random Airbnb in New York City across from a fire station huddled over a makeshift podcast set up with Damon Young, That’s where you can find me. But no, I mean, listen. Catch me in the wind just like you, Damon. You’re Mr. Multi-Hyphenate as well. And I just love reading your work. I’ve been a fan of your work. I’m honored that you invited me on to your new podcast, and I hope we help this person. I don’t know. Do you think we did at all Damon? 

 

Damon Young: I think so. I think I think this person is going to go away from this, just thinking that, you know, these two people who have obviously thought about this question and these concepts are basically saying like, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with feeling indecisive. With feeling unsure. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: In fact you should lean into that. You should lean into that feeling and don’t feel like there’s there’s like a thing missing with you because you don’t want this goal that everyone was socialized to believe that they should, that we should pursue. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Yeah. And it’s not necessarily that this isn’t the right person for you. It might be that time will tell. Like it might be like you just need more time. I felt indecisive about marriage for years until I didn’t. What I want to clarify is I felt indecisive about marriage with the man that I eventually married. And I felt that indecision for years. And I did not make a move towards marriage until that indecision lifted. And even when we got engaged, I waited another three and a half years to actually get married because I wanted to feel really ready for the commitment that I was going to make. And so I would say my strongest piece of advice is don’t make moves when you’re not at peace with the decision. Just wait. When somebody once told me when in doubt, don’t. But also don’t look at that as like the dead end where you’re going to be stuck forever. Feelings change, your mindset may shift and just don’t settle and don’t make decisions like long term life changing decisions from a place of fear or indecision. Wait until you feel at peace and at ease with the decision. And even, might I add, enthusiasm. That’s what I always wait for— 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, enthusiasm, yeah. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: I wait for enthusiasm because every other feeling shifts and changes and is hard to discern. Sometimes it’s like, is that fear, is that anxiety, is that doubt? But you never question when you feel enthusiastic. 

 

Damon Young: Right. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: You know when you can get to an enthusiastic yes, I want this. I think that’s when you know, you’re in the right place at the right time with this decision. And I wouldn’t move on marriage until you can get there in a sustainable way. 

 

Damon Young: Boom. 

 

Elaine Welteroth: Hopefully we helped them. I really hope we did. Boom. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: Thanks again, everybody, for tuning in to the first episode, season two, of Stuck with Damon Young. I want to thank the homies Malcolm Lee and Elaine Welteroth again for coming through. Thank you so much to them. And stay tuned for next week and the week after that. And for 43 more weeks after that, I will be here. Stuck in your head, in your dreams. [laughs] Also, if you have any messes that you need help unpacking, hit me up at askdamon@crooked.com. And maybe it will make it on the show. All right y’all. Peace. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. Our executive producers are Kendra James and Sandy Girard. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and Sound Design by Sara Gibble-Laska. Theme Music and Score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks, as always, to Charlotte Landes. And from Gimlet and Spotify, our executive producers are Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Lauren Silverman, Nicole Beemsterboer and Neil Drumming. Also special thanks to Lesley Gwam.