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Walk Into Your Gifts.

DeRay, Clint and Sam discuss how the PATRIOT Act targets drug use more than terrorism, unequal access to opportunities for students, and the lasting effects of the bombing of Nagasaki. Physician Jonathan Metzl joins DeRay to discuss his book, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland.”

 

Show Notes: 

Transcription below:

[00:00:00] DeRay: Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save The People, on this episode we have Clint and Sam. Brittany’s not with us as we because she was traveling but you know, they’re pretty Spears always in the pot. So, in a way she is still here. She’ll be back next week.  And then I’m joined by Jonathan metal author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland.

 Jonathan: A lot of people told me. Yeah. I know that I’m getting hurt by my politics, but I care about a bigger thing which is blocking abortion or building a wall or something like that. Dre: Now the word for this week is that you know, I’m sensitive about sort of feeling like I owe people things around me like whether it’s my time or my energy or words or whatever.

DeRay :I just realized recently like in the past couple days, that I’m so much more thoughtful about owing everybody something and I’m not very doubtful about what I owe myself and I really had to own and this last like 48-72 hours like that I owe myself some things and I’m just starting to acknowledge that [00:01:00] so.

My word to you this week is think about all the things you owe yourself. Are you following through on those commitments? Let’s go. Clinton: This is the news is not pretty packed. Knit. This is Clinton Smith the third. Samson: This is Sam Sinyangwe  @Samswey on Twitter. DeRay: And this is DeRay, DeRay on Twitter

Clinton:  So, Britney’s not here this week. But if she were here, I know that she’d would want to talk about the passing of a literary giant and icon in my opinion the greatest American writer of all-time person who not only changed the landscape of American literature person who changed the landscape of America and that is Toni Morrison.

So, Toni Morrison left us last week at the age of 88. She won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993 becoming the first. American woman, I believe the first African-American person to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She is the author of almost a dozen novels [00:02:00] pieces of nonfiction or remarkable editor a lot of people forget that she was an editor.

Clinton: She edited so many incredible Black authors during her time at random house and I wrote a piece for the new Republic last week that was sort of a tribute to her. And I was really reflecting on what it meant to have been alive at the same time as this literary giant actually got the chance to see Toni Morrison speak in person and during a series of lectures

She did at Harvard in 2016. I was just so grateful that I got to see this person. In front of me, I got to hear her voice. I got to be in the same room as her laugh and it’s something that I would that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I’m grateful that she got to experience a lot of the love that she deserved a lot of the adulation that she deserved while she was alive which isn’t the case for all of our artists and writers obviously sad to see her go, but what a legacy and what a life.

DeRay: I  started a reading Toni Morrison late, you know, I think in some ways I wasn’t really a reader and took College like I didn’t know that I didn’t know what reading was until actually did it [00:03:00] in a college setting I was like, wow, this is what text can do but I will say it wasn’t

until reading Toni Morrison that I understood like The Power of Words and specifically it was a rebel of it

DeRay: I never forget reading beloved and it was so lyrical and I was like, I just didn’t know books could do this. I knew sentences can be special because I had read a lot of beautiful sentences before. but I hadn’t read a book that could be lyrical until I read beloved and I remember the hardest book I ever read

My entire life was Paradise. I remember reading “Paradise” it being like this is work. Like Tony made you work. It was not a breeze, but it was work that was deserving of her time. And you know, I learned so much about what it meant to actually be a reader because of her texts. I also say like really inspired by the career trajectory

She had you. She had a whole career as an editor and then decided she’s going to write and it makes me think about people like Ava right who like Ava had a whole career is like a PR professional, you know, and then said [00:04:00] I’m actually going to be a director and like reminds you that when you find your gift no matter when that it is like you should walk towards that gift

And Tony to me is like that reminder of what it means to walk towards your gift when you find. Sam: So, one of the things that was fascinating was reading and rereading her essay from 2016 right after the election called making America white again, so there’s a quote here. I’m just going to quote from her writing says so scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength

And I just sat with that quote for a while because you know after seeing not one but two mass shootings excessively and all of what we’ve seen under now almost three years of this Administration, I think going back and reading over in her writing the impact that this election actually meant what it meant for what was to [00:05:00] come in terms of violence in terms of white identity and how that was

Becoming even more dangerous even more radicalized even more translated into much of what we’ve been covering what we’ve been talking about and what we’ve seen in this country over the past two and a half years. It was really prescient and Toni Morrison will definitely be missed just a side note. I didn’t read the book “Beloved

Sam: I do remember when the movie came out in 1998. I was only 8 years old. And I couldn’t really fully understand sort of what was happening at a much deeper sort of socio-political level. But I just remember seeing that movie and not only being sort of frightened but it just stuck with me in the power of that movie

So, you know again, I think she’s definitely one of the greats. Clinton: So for my news, I want to talk about a new report that came out from Georgetown University Center on education in the workforce and is called Born To Win school to lose why equally talented students don’t get equal chances to be all they can be and so broadly this report [00:06:00] is talking about how if you are born into poverty

If you are born into a low socioeconomic status, you are less likely to end up in a position of affluence less likely to end up in a position to Middle upper middle-class life. High socioeconomic status then your counterparts who may not have done as well in school, but we’re themselves born into a higher socioeconomic status or it’s also talking about how your educational experience is fundamentally entangled with your class status, right and that let’s say you are someone who isn’t doing well in school

Your parents can invest resources into you from tutoring two more books to computer and technological programs and time right part of what affluence gives you is time and space or gives you the tools to give your child the time and space that they need in order to bring their grades up to bring their scores up in a way

That is simply not the case. For folks coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds because there’s less social cultural capital from which to pull and so part of it is that parents don’t even [00:07:00] know where to go if they’re young person is struggling and even if the young person is doing well, there are so many different factors facing the lives of those young people as they move throughout their academic journey, I think of students I taught who were brilliant but also couldn’t take advantage of the same extracurricular academic enrichment activities because they had to go home and take care of their younger brother or sister because their parents

Clinton: Afford a babysitter or they couldn’t participate in Debate Club where they can participate in a range of academic activities or they couldn’t get the additional support that they needed to build an even more robust sort of academic and intellectual Foundation upon one that was already this matters for students who are both successful already and not giving them the opportunity to become even more successful than they are and serves as something that’s kind of prohibitive or serves as an impediment like they’re low socioeconomic

Listen the sort of larger social and political context surrounding that serve as an impediment to their upward Mobility but also for students who may [00:08:00] not be doing well wealthier parents can invest resources into the lives of their students in ways that other parents simply cannot and one key point that they talk about in the study that I thought was really interesting is that for example among the affluent even a kindergartener with a test score in the bottom half as a seven in ten chance of reaching a high socioeconomic status among his or her peers as a young adult

But for similarly talented kids who are born into low socio-economic conditions the lack of material support lack of resources the lack of social capital along the way makes it incredibly difficult to reach that same level of upward Mobility economically and so across racial and ethnic groups a disadvantage kindergartner coming from a low SES background with test scores that are in the top half has approximately a three intention

Clinton: Of being in a high socioeconomic status by the time they’re 25. So just think about that right? Like if you’re a young person who is doing really well in school. Theoretically that would put you on a trajectory to continue to do well and then reach and educational and then [00:09:00] professional Bedrock upon which to build the rest of your life and have a solid socioeconomic status for you and your family, but we find that is simply not the case in that among the affluent parents even if their kindergarten has low test scores

They are still more likely to end up in high socioeconomic status. And again, that’s because. Generational wealth that’s because of resources they can invest into their students and so the report goes on and on and there’s a lot of really fascinating information here, but I thought it was something worthy to bring to our attention

Sam:  So, this is even more evidence that meritocracy in America is a myth that the idea that. Education is sort of the great equalizer is the way to go from low socioeconomic status to high socioeconomic status is just not borne out by the data and you know what that means is that we need to be talking about solutions that go Way Beyond education solutions that involve redistribution of wealth because ultimately this is about

The fact that folks who already have resources are able to transmit those [00:10:00] privileges intergenerationally regardless of the underlying Merit or work ethic or any sort of characteristics of the people who are actually in those positions. And this report to find socioeconomic status in a way that is somewhat limited looking at household income parent’s educational attainment and parents with the called occupational Prestige

So that’s looking at whether the occupation is an occupation that tends to be accorded with social standing power or earnings ability and that’s sort of an interesting indicator to use because it doesn’t actually take into account wealth, right? So, when you take into account wealth the situation gets even more dire

Right. So not only two things look bad with regard to socioeconomic status as defined in this report. But if we’re going to use wealth then even folks who have similar levels of let’s say occupational Prestige, so maybe your black lawyer compared to a white lawyer. Maybe you have the same household income

Sam: And educational attainment but [00:11:00] even under those circumstances, you’re actually if you take into account. Well, if you could be in a vastly different economic status as a black person than a white person with all three of those characteristics being held the same, you know, for example report from Prosperity now found that if the definition of middle class accounted for total wealth instead of income then only black and Latino households with graduate degrees would be considered middle class compared to White households with a high school diploma or higher

So I would love to see an analysis like was done in this report Clint take into account wealth because that would produce findings that are probably even more dire with regard to the ability of folks particularly black and brown folks who are performing well in school to actually be able to attain the same economic status as white folks who are not performing well in school, but come from a background of intergenerational wealth

DeRay: I was struck by the findings that you both should have no I will say I was a little surprised about the lack of any conversation about the role of a [00:12:00] teacher or teacher quality is sort of references schools is these places that exist regardless of the quality of the people in them and I was just surprised by that

So, with that said, I do think the findings were interesting there were a set of things. Really surprised me. So, the idea that wealthy families can spin five times as much an enrichment activity and they Define that as everything from books to tutoring that that was interesting. Another thing that was interesting is that they note that over a quarter kids in the lowest socio-economic

Live in communities where like buildings need repair or only four percent of families in high income communities live in neighborhoods where the buildings need repair and I thought that was interesting like they reference the studies that talk about the impact that feeling unsafe has on student achievement, which I think is interesting in this context

DeRay: And then one of the things I’ve always been fascinated by its Pre-K and they talk about how. Only forty percent of families who are in the lowest socio-economic status attend some sort of formal Pre-K programming and the [00:13:00] impact that that has and they talked about this notion that at pre-k programming is actually one of the most cost-effective and leads to one of us long-lasting positive effects

And like I think all of those things are really important again, I was sort of struck by the lack of conversation about. Teacher quality our staff quality or I don’t know like what does it look like if we concentrate talent and they do sort of reference to some schools have sort of beat the odds but I can’t help but like acknowledge the lack of a conversation about the talent

I think it’d be different to you if they said that like one of the findings is that regardless of the quality of Staff. These findings are true. Then that will be fascinating to me. Hey, you’re listening to find save the people don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come Sam. Dre: Did you know it takes a first responder on average 45 minutes to respond to home security alarm

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Dre: My news is about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War Two. So, this past week was the 74th anniversary of those bombings. These are the only two occasions in which nuclear weapons were used in the context of a war against another population and there was an incredible [00:16:00] thread actually two threads by Professor Alex Wallerstein who

Really help me understand a lot that I didn’t know about the history of these bombings and the decisions that were made tactically leading up to. So just for a little bit of background, you know, my grandfather fought in World War II in the Pacific Theater and you know growing up hearing stories about his service in the war when talking about the bombings

He would use this Frame that the bombings wall. Really bad where necessary to end the war and ultimately saved more lives than were lost because otherwise there would have had to be an invasion of Japan and that would have cost a lot of lives on both sides and that was sort of the narrative that he had in his actually a narrative that I’ve heard from a number of people over the years and this thread actually goes into the details here and does a good job of debunking a lot of those assumptions

So, first of all, just to level set these bombings were obviously. [00:17:00] A scale of Destruction and death that has really been unparalleled over the course of human history. So, between the two bombings and estimated hundred and thirty thousand to two hundred and thirty thousand Japanese people were killed and the bombings were spaced out by three days

So, Hiroshima was bomb first Nagasaki was bombed three days later, but what was interesting in reading through some of the historical? Was first of all learning that you know Nagasaki the second city that was bombed was actually not the original Target and it was bombed only because there was whether that made it difficult for the military to actually go after their original Target, which was a series of military installations in a city called Kokura in Japan.

So instead of bombing the military installations, they went towards Nagasaki which wasn’t even originally on the list of high-priority targets that the US military had created moreover when they [00:18:00] ultimately drop the bomb. They dropped it not where they had originally planned to drop it or even in the area of Nagasaki that military planners had identified as strategically important because of the presence of military installations

In fact. But instead they dropped it on and all civilian area of Nagasaki which they attribute to the weather. But again, this is something that they don’t teach you in school. Certainly. What was also fascinating about this was that this narrative that I was told and I think many of us were told

Around you know, these bombings being to some degree necessary the narratives tended to focus on the bombings being a strategy of forcing Japan into an unconditional surrender, therefore stopping the war and further loss of life, but it turns out that first of all Truman himself the president the time didn’t explicitly authorize the second bombing rather

That was a decision that was made. By lower-level folks within the US military after the first bombing. Not only that but [00:19:00] the Japanese High command actually did not know of the Nagasaki bombing before they learned of the Hiroshima bombing. Apparently, they had just received notice that Hiroshima was bombed at the time that the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki

So, it wasn’t like there was a waiting period to figure out whether the first bombing was sufficient to get that surrender before the second bomb was dropped and then finally, you know, what was also fascinating and reading through this was the impact that the bombing had on. First of all, President Truman’s conception of the role of nuclear weapons in War so specifically after this bombing President Truman decided to keep control over nuclear weapons out of the hands of the defense

And instead to put them under civilian control through new civilian agency specifically because he was worried about the military using these bombs as if they were any other type of weapon in future Wars and then the last thing that was interesting in just reading through this. I was actually going through [00:20:00] some of the documents estimating the death toll in Nagasaki and I didn’t know this but they actually used records of schools and the number of school children as a way of estimating how many people had been killed

Clinton: So, there are military documents showing that for example a distance of zero to a thousand feet of the blast. They estimated the percentage of school children who were killed between a thousand fifteen hundred feet. They had another estimate and that was sort of how because schools had been documented a number of kids that went to the schools were documented in Japan

They actually use that as a way of estimating how many people in general were killed as well. The impact that these bombs had and those are sort of how they develop their estimates for the power and danger that these bombs would pose in future combat so much of the way that I was taught as a child about World War II was

Unsurprisingly through a very sort of U.S. Centric [00:21:00] jingoistic framework and I remember it wasn’t until – maybe like a few years ago that I learned how many Russians died in the war like it so much of World War II was like almost made it feel as if it was like the US. Verse Germany and Japan and like there were some other like Britain was there and Russia was there but like, you know, it was really like U.S. mobilize handle business

It was all us we’re so great the Great War saved all these lives and I remember learning that 28 million Soviet people died in World War Two I learned it was 14 percent of the entire Soviet. Our deadliest war was the Civil War in which around 700,000 people died. And those were mostly combatants and generally I just think it’s such a helpful reminder to think about what this war meant or what any conflict means from a non us perspective and from the [00:22:00] perspective of the people who ostensibly, you know, even in this context ostensibly were our enemies in this war

Clinton: If we want to frame it that way but reminder that these are people right these are kids and families. And so many of these people are not reflective necessarily of the military or government who pretends to fight on their behalf. I think it’s just so important to think about these things from the context of people who are not living within our borders

DeRay: One of the things that this sort of brought up to me is that you shouldn’t have to go to college to learn the truth about. The biggest things in history and I think about how if not for Twitter. We would have never seen this thread that Sam brought To Us by Professor. Dre: I also didn’t know that there was ever a point in time in the country’s history where the Army was in control of any military weapons slowly without civilian power

So, one of the things the historian note is that the bomb and Nagasaki actually led to Truman taking away the power [00:23:00] from the military to decide when and where they were going to deploy bombs themselves. He is the person who enforced the president being the holder of the nuclear codes in the nuclear weapons

And in my mind the way I’ve been taught about the premise of the American government was that it was civilian control the Army like that was the whole idea and then you learn that like it’s not really a civilian control the army of the army can choose when and where they want to. Put nuclear bombs, like that’s sort of wild

It also was reminded to of how some of the biggest things in history are actually at the sway of natural forces. So, one of the things that you brought up Sam at the historian notes is that like part of the rationale for dropping the bomb so quickly and where they dropped it was literally because the weather like the weather precluded them from dropping it somewhere else and Clint

I hadn’t even thought about like this Shear percentage of people killed until you said it and like, you know, you wonder why people hate America for a host of reasons. That is your right that like even the Civil War wasn’t you know, 25 percent of the people in the country. So, this is my reminder [00:24:00] that I wish I didn’t have to enroll in a college program till I get this is actually history course taught by a historian who was an expert it would love to figure out how I can learn more outside of Twitter

So, my new year’s is an article by Mother Jones. It’s about the Patriot Act warrants that is referencing a study that just came out of EF F the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which we love and what they know is that there was a special law passed right after 9/11 as a part of the Patriot Act section 213 that essentially expands the federal government’s power to do what’s known as sneak and peek warrants where they can essentially just

Go into your house like a no-knock warrant almost at the federal level so they can go into your house. If they think that doing something else that giving you notice my tip you off or you might destroy evidence and what the FF finds is that from 2001 to 2003. This is right after 9/11. Is that about 4,000 requests for process and then [00:25:00] within three years that jumps to about

Request so there’s a huge jump in just this idea of sneak and peek warrants being used. Now. Here’s the kicker out of roughly 4,000 total requests for this warrant in between October 1st 2009. September 30th, 2010 3,000 of them were for Narcotics cases and only 37 were for terrorism cases like 37 total that’s around point nine percent

And then since then the E FF notes at the numbers just got worse. So, the 2011 report show that out of almost 7,000 request 5,000 were used for drugs and only 31 where used for terrorism cases in 2012. Only about point six percent of the requests that would terrorism and twenty thirteen-point five percent of the request dealt with terrorism

So, it’s just like this real aha moment that like when the federal government asked to expand its power around terrorism. It is almost guaranteed that that expansion is going to be used for something that has nothing related [00:26:00] to terrorism and then it made me think of like, what would the government do if it wasn’t Prosecuting drug cases that like

The prosecution of drugs actually sustains so much of the federal government’s law enforcement capacity. And then if you legalize drugs A decriminalize drugs, literally we would just undo the work of so much of policing which is why I like so many Industries sort of rely on this language of like Law and Order is why police unions and other law enforcement unions do its why cities do that

Like they would actually lose so much apparatus if we didn’t prosecute drugs in this way. Sam: I sort of anticipated that something like this might happen, but I had no idea the scale at which these warrants were being used. And just how many of these were for drugs versus terrorism. I mean as you said today, it’s less than 1% for terrorism despite terrorism being its sort of stated purpose for the legislation specifically

This is the Patriot Act which I think is one of those sort of signature pieces of legislation following 9/11. And this [00:27:00] is sort of the long-term impact that we’re seeing now of a lot of the panic. Passing that legislation. But just seeing the growth in the number of sneak and peek warrants the most recent data that we have access to is 2013, but just consider that in 2010 there were about four thousand of these warrants in 2011

There were about 6,700 in 2012. There were 10,000 183 and 2013 there were already eleven thousand one hundred twenty-nine. So, we’ve gone over the space of four years we’ve gone from about 4,000 all the way more than doubled it to 11,000 and. Just makes me wonder how many were at now especially under this current Administration

And I think it’s all the more reason as we talked about. The response particularly to white supremacist terrorism as we’re debating this as a nation. I know there’s been talk of a domestic terrorism bill that would allow the government to prosecute domestic terrorism in the same ways that it prosecutes International terrorism

But this is the kind of data that we need to be using to inform that [00:28:00] conversation because you know, the unintended consequences I think for many people may be intended for some people who try to pass this legislation more often than not these types of. Law enforcement strategies tend to disproportionately impact people for drugs impact people of color communities of color in particular will be interesting to see a racial breakdown of the data for example, but you know, we already know how the government engages in drug enforcement differently in black and brown communities

So, all of these things have to be part of the conversation and currently, you know, this is sort of debated as an abstract or theoretical if it’s even considered at all in the public conversation. Around the unintended consequences of this type of legislation, but this has to be front and center to inform the debate moving forward

Clinton: It is difficult to outline the Myriad of ways in which 911 fundamentally shifted every facet of American political. Social cultural and economic life. We see it in Immigration. We see the Department of Homeland Security which didn’t [00:29:00] exist at all is an institution before 9/11 ice did not exist at all before 9/11

The Patriot Act obviously did not exist before 9/11 and it’s even possible to enumerate the amount of laws on the books and policies and norms and expectations that shifted as a result of this attack. And obviously it was you know, one of the deadliest attacks that’s ever happened on American soil

It is astonishing how so many of these things that were Pat like the Patriot. Act was passed within weeks of September 11th happening in a passed through Congress easily. And now, you know, we’re almost 20 years out and I think most Americans don’t understand the extent to which the Patriot Act

Impacts every facet of their lives. I mean at one example, there was a piece written a few years ago by a professor of education and she was talking about this data that showed how the membership rolls of Muslim student associations and Muslim student unions across the country since 9/11 how like they [00:30:00] shrunk exponentially after 9/11 after the Patriot Act pass

That’s just something I never thought of like, I never thought of. Muslim student associations membership shrinking and it makes sense when I think about it, right? I remember how frightened so many people were people were being attacked. If you looked Muslim to the extent that someone can or cannot look like a person who practices with religion which is ridiculous, but it mostly men attacking brown people whether or not they were

Clinton: But I think that is a single example of the I don’t even know if residue is the right word because it residue suggests something passive and I think this is very active but all of the sort of different tentacles and all the different spaces in which so much of this legislation tapped into in our society

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DeRay: Now my conversation Jonathan metal author of dying of whiteness how the politics of racial resentment skill in America’s Heartland. I learned a lot in this conversation.  Jonathan thanks so much for joining us today on pod save the people. Jonathan: Thanks so much. It’s great to be here. So I’m excited to talk about your look dying of whiteness how the politics of racial resentment is killing America’s Heartland, but before we jump to deeply into the book, I wanted to know how you even got to this topic and the first place like, how’d you get into this work as a professor psychiatrist

Like I did you what was the beginning for you? Jonathan: Sure. That’s a great way to start. I mean, I’m somebody who has [00:33:00] spent a lot of my career studying issues of race and social justice and how they link to health and mental health. So, I was already kind of primed to. A project like this and then in about 2010 2011

I was doing a project with some colleagues of mine in rural Tennessee. We were talking to people about the Affordable Care Act. And at that time, I wasn’t thinking I was going to write a book about whiteness, but we were doing these focus groups with these men who were very often working class or very poor white men who really really were quite sick they were you know suffering from

Chronic illness or medical conditions and I’ll never forget these were guys who really needed, you know Medicaid expansion Healthcare and we would ask them the question. How do you feel about health care reform and the answers we got one of the guys I start the book with is gosh? This program might help me, but I don’t want to sign up for a program that’s going to help what the guy said was Mexicans and Welfare Queens in other words

He was willing to sacrifice his own health care in order to block a program that he thought was going [00:34:00] to help undeserving immigrants and minorities. You know, that was the kind of this aha moment where I was like, oh my God, I learned as a doctor that self-preservation is the core human instinct and here are people who are putting something else above their own seemed like medical well-being the sense that basically being white and blocking immigrants and minorities was more important even than their own health

And so that became this jumping-off point for a much bigger exploration of all the different ways in which this idea of what it means to be white or white Identity or at odds. The well-being in the longevity of you know white Americans who could have benefited from programs like healthcare. DeRay:  And why do you call it racial resentment and not racism

Like how did you get to the phrase racial resentment Jonathan: sure, you know part of the issue. Is that what I track in the book? I’m also I mean whiteness is also part of the title, right and I’m not talking about whiteness as a biological category. I’m talking about it as a political category and it’s the same thing with racial resentment that really what I tracked the rise up in this book and it was about [00:35:00] 8 years of research going all over the South and the Midwest is the rise of politics that are based in you know, this sense of

White Americans being displaced a privilege or priority that we used to have the sense of nostalgia that very often wasn’t real but it was real to them and it led to these politics that were anti-government anti-immigrant pro-gun. And basically, I call it racial resentment because what was driving it across the board was this sense that you know other people immigrants coming across the border welfare Queens as this guy said it are taking things

That should be ours. This resentment LED people into making decisions that were bad for them and ultimately bad for the country. DeRay: Is there anything that you found around demographics that surprised you? Jonathan: I talked to a lot of different kinds of people and there are also different topics. So The Narrative of the book goes from Missouri to Tennessee to Kansas and I talk to people about kind of hot button GOP issues [00:36:00] ranging from the Affordable Care Act Two Guns to education and tax cuts and I ended up talking to some very working-class poor people but also middle-income and upper-income people and so, you know, what’s surprising for me and I hope people can

This in the excerpts that I have in the book. I put in people’s voices almost verbatim to let people make up their own minds number one was that this ideology of whiteness under attack was something that ended up cutting across socio-economic lines. A lot of times we would hear the same thing from well-to-do white Americans and poor white Americans and it was weird from the well-to-do people because

They were seemed to me like doing pretty well when we talk to them, but they sent like oh people are coming to take away what is ours but they would have driven up like in a you know, Rolls-Royce and they were wearing a suit and stuff like that. And so, part of the issue was how a lot of these narratives cut across socio-economic demographic

So, I think that’s part of it, but the other part is I talked to a lot of white women particularly about schools. And so, I did think [00:37:00] the interesting point was that there were some white women who actually supported tax cuts to their own kids’ schools. Because they feared that Minority districts were taking away resources from their taxes, but I also thought that white women gave a pretty interesting perspective, you know, a lot of white women basically said, yeah, I’m a conservative Trump supporter, but I’m not down with this

DeRay: Is there anything that you saw in the conversations that was able to sway people from holding ideas that were rooted in resentment? Because it is so counterintuitive that people would be willing to sacrifice their own well-being or their children’s well-being just to make sure that other people can’t game the system even if the gaming is not real, but did you find anything effective at countering those I think about this a lot

Jonathan: I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the book came out and I’ve been having a lot of conversations to and you know, first of all, I think it’s important to note that their own medical self-interest was just one of the reasons that they identified as who they were right? So, a lot of people told me yeah

Know that I’m getting [00:38:00] hurt by my politics, but I care about a bigger thing which is blocking abortion or building a wall or something like that. And so, in that sense, you know, it wasn’t like they were just losing all the time. They felt like they were winning. It just wasn’t winning in a way that was benefiting them

It was winning in a way that was benefiting very wealthy people in corporations, but for them they were basically saying they weren’t dumb right they were saying I know what the Affordable Care Act does but I’m blocking it because I care about these other things more and so. Point number one is I tried to take seriously like why people took their own stance and not try to say, you know, it was an education issue which I don’t think it was and I think that’s part of it

But the other part is I’ve really come to believe in writing this book that there needs to be a kind of progressive movement from the conservative side. Also, in other words. I don’t think the change is going to come when somebody like me floats my way down south and talks to people or they listen to NPR or something

It’s much more that I think went cancer. Rid of people start saying yeah, I’m a red State [00:39:00] Republican but I in exchange for my support. I think it’s fair for me to ask for better Healthcare or better schools or better roads the minute that they start doing that you know, so I guess the issue is. You know the money that is usually doing that for conservative people is going to fund tax cuts for rich people and so the minute conservative working-class people start asking for more and exchange for their support

I think that’s where it’s going to change but that change coming from within it’s not coming from me trying to talk anybody out of it DeRay:  before the book. You were a psychiatrist and you did a lot of work on gun violence. How did you bring a gun violence expert play into the work? You most recently did around whiteness

Jonathan: So, I’m up psychiatrist and a sociologist and I’m kind of lived between Both Worlds and the last book I did before this book was a book called the protest psychosis and it was a story about kind of the emergence of the Trope of the crazy. Angry black man, the central story of that book is a story about black power protesters in Detroit who [00:40:00] were protesting against the government and were locked into Mental Hospitals just because they were protesting and diagnosed with schizophrenia and

There was a little part of that book where I talked about how that played out in terms of guns as well. And I specifically talked about what happened when Malcolm X, you know, basically said, hey the second amendment applies to me and the same thing for you know, Huey Newton and Stokely Carmichael out of point and other people and so part of the issue was what I was showing in that book was how when black men started to say

Hey, I want some second amendment protection. I went to arm myself because they were right the police were not protecting them that Society defined. As crazy. And so that was a little part of the book and then you know, I started going on my friend Melissa Harris Perry is show pretty regularly talking about masculinity and gun rights and the themes in relation to that book and then as mass shooting started to happen, you know, there was this question of who really is a threat to society because so many of these Mass shooters were white men, right

And [00:41:00] so the progression for me was I started off in gun rights looking at black masculinity. I ended up then shifting into white masculinity then. Illness, and its kind of primed me I think for this transition. DeRay: Did you leave the book with hope like did you leave the process of writing the book with hope or did you leave it with like a we’re screwed or did you leave it with the like who this is an uphill battle

Like what was it like in the end? Jonathan: What I’ve tried to do in this book was just make clear what the issues are. Right and it’s not just the policy issues. You know, we have major major existential questions about the kind of healthcare. We want to provide for people about how we want to allocate our resources

Do we want to continue to invest in rich people which is what we’re doing with the GOP tax bill? Do we want to have a society where there are guns everywhere or do, we want to have a society where we can respect Second Amendment gun rights on one hand? And have some reasonable laws that protect safety on the other and so on one hand

We have a 20/20 election coming up where the issues could. Possibly [00:42:00] be clearer and the other issue is the race issues that I talked about really are at a boiling point as well. We need a new conversation about whiteness and America that’s not the Donald Trump conversation. It’s a book about people standing up and saying there’s a better way to be white and this guy doesn’t represent me but here’s a version of whiteness

That’s more generous and collaborative and invested in social justice. And so, I think the issues are all right in front of us and we. Really a national decision in 2020. So, I’m optimistic that we’re going to choose the right thing. But I think we’re under No Illusion about the fact that there’s a pretty strong headwind and you know the kind of work that it’s going to take DeRay: you think about how we talk about gun control ways that don’t replicate the same

Disparities and enforcement that we saw around drugs, you know, like one of the words it we have always had is that if gun control becomes about gun users then the penalties might be so great that like we got all these really incredible wins on drugs and then people just get locked up for 40 years for having a gun in the neighborhood

How do we start to think about [00:43:00] gun control in ways that don’t replicate racist enforcement? Jonathan: Right Well, you know, it’s funny the story. I really tell me I deal with all of that extensively in my research, but the story I tell in the book is kind of the. Told story of just buy a numbers game most gun death in this country is gun suicide and you know; we have about 40,000-gun deaths a year in this country and maybe two-thirds of that is gun suicide and of that about 90% as white men

So white men are. People who are dying the most of gun violence at self-inflicted. And so, part of what I argue in the book is that we need better policies that actually look at enforcement of common-sense gun solutions that actually target white men a lot more because they’re the people who are dying, right

And so, you know that of course goes up against everything the NRA says and everything the gun rights movement says, but it was kind of like, you know, when I started to Crunch the data, I thought like why for example, why is the NRA blocking? Research on gun Suicide Prevention. Why is the [00:44:00] inner a blocking policy that really would help their core constituents’ white man

And so part of what I argue in addition to, you know exactly what you’re saying, which is you know, gun crimes become a another way of incarcerating communities of color, but it was also notable for me the absence of any kind of initiative that targeted white men even when white men were dying and so

I’m not saying this to say, you know, white men are dying. Damn it, Jim or something like that, but I did think that if we brought whiteness into the conversation about gun laws and gun death prevention that it might help level the playing field a little bit more. It is interesting because you’re right about the narrative is not the two-thirds are suicides

DeRay: You know who got us so far away from that narrative like the. Jonathan: Yeah, the NRA has been blocking research for about 30 years and its friends in Congress. And so, there’s just a big huge gaping hole in knowledge gun manufacturers have Suicide Prevention programs, but you can’t mention a gun as being a risk factor for gun suicide which seems to be hard to [00:45:00] commit against suicide without a gun

And so, there are all these ways in which common knowledge is being shaped by these very powerful forces that really are, you know, making this epidemic gun suicide is gone up 20% in the last decade there making it invisible to the detriment of their own supporters DeRay: that sort of nuts. That’s why I learn something new every time we have a conversation

Are you supporting anybody for president yet? Jonathan:  I’m writing this book really did a number on me and turns out how I think about this. I will say. I’m listening very closely and I’m listening in a different way than I probably would have otherwise and so. Things that I probably would have supported as slogans before like Medicare for all for me are red flags in a way

It’s just too easy to dismiss that point in my personal opinion because it sounds like Obamacare for all I mean look at what happened with the Affordable Care Act the minute they coded it as the government is going to come into your life and do your health care, even though that wasn’t true it tapped into [00:46:00] 200 years of history that they weren’t ready to deal with which was this 200 year history of government

Intervention there’s also a long history of just whose life is worthy of insurance. You know, there’s a history of only white people getting insured and flecked people had sleeve insurance and all these other kinds of things. And so it just it was a softball for the other side without recognizing that they were saying something that was going to mobilize people against them and I worry that in a general election a slogan like that would be again, I’m not against universal healthcare, but I just think that making it a litmus test for how you say it will make it way too easy for the other

Side to just basically do the same thing. They did to Obamacare. DeRay:  Is there a way that you think we should talk about Healthcare in a way that isn’t an easy layup for the other side? Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, I think there are certain politicians now, they’re being very concrete. You know, I want to do job training in poor areas

I want to expand Broadband to low-income communities. I want to do all these kind of things things that actually people can understand as being beneficial to their lives things like that that [00:47:00] people can get down with on a more concrete level DeRay: that makes a lot of sense. Did you find that people in the coast felt differently than people in the middle of the country like that’s a Trope that we hear a lot?

The middle of country is overlooked and feels very different than the coastal Elite. Did you find that that was true? Jonathan: Well, I think the people on the coast are waking up to the fact that there is a middle of the country right now. And for the reason I say that is because a lot of the policies that are happening now that everybody shocked about you no more guns

And why would we upend the Affordable Care Act? This is all been happening in the south for the past 10 years or 200 years. And so, part of the issue is I just think that there’s more of a recognition in the coast. Of the kinds of tensions that are happening in Middle America and I think that’s important right as important coastally on one hand

Like I can just say I’m in New York right now New York has great gun laws for a city of its size the amount of gun crime and density is shockingly low compared to a place like, Tennessee for example where I [00:48:00] live and so I think that there are better policies on the coasts for a lot of these things

A lot of people on the coasts are on Obamacare as another example, and so I just think people in. Need to realize that those are the things that are being targeted right now by a lot of these policies because they are more beneficial on the coast. So, I’m not trying to avoid the question. I think it’s important that people recognize them

But I also think that you know, what’s being targeted are policies that are for me or at least are working on the coasts. DeRay: Can you also talk about like the book dying of whiteness seems to focus so much on social welfare program. Part of me worries a little bit that while we talk about social welfare programs, like food stamps Medicare Medicaid those sort of things as good things in public that there’s a silent subset of people that might be close to a majority, they don’t believe in the efficacy of them in general

Like I’ve been in rooms where people feel like, you know, giving things to people take their dignity away. Like I wouldn’t have believed that if somebody hadn’t said that to me like I heard that I was like that is wild. Do you think that there’s [00:49:00] space to make a case for a public welfare? A way that you think will resonate with a lot of people

Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, it’s funny like the Affordable Care Act is a great example, you know the Affordable Care Act was not. A government program. It was a collaboration between government regulatory entities and Private health care insurance. Right? So, it was a public-private partnership and the minute they started saying, you know, Uncle Sam is in your room doing like the there were lies crazy ads of Uncle Sam with a speculum, you know doing your wife’s exam and stuff like that

So, the minute they just started calling it a government program. Everybody forgot that it actually wasn’t totally a government program. And so, part of the issue is. There is on one hand this stigma about government programs that has to do an avoidable E with race and who’s gaming the system as you say there also are strong traditions of kind of Fina wanting to make it on my own and American individualism, but then there’s a lot of research now that shows like how effective government programs are compared to like Private [00:50:00] Industry programs in terms of addressing core issues

And so, I think we have to get over it. You know, I mean, it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. DeRay: Is it comes in and they’re two questions I ask everybody one is what do you say to people who are losing Hope in This Moment a lot of people who have voted. Called emailed protested they done all the things that they were told to do and the world hasn’t changed in a way

They thought it would what do you say to those people? Jonathan: Well, we have a huge opportunity coming up in front of us in 2016. A lot of people felt like they were blindsided right now. We know we know the issue is, you know will probably be blindsided by some other thing, but the decision has never been more clear and so they’re actually right now is something you can do about it

And so, I would wait to feel hopeless. I right now I would get engaged. I mean the reason that. Democrats lose elections is because of things that you can control, you know, voter registration getting people out to the polls that kind of thing. And so, there’s a way you can turn your hope into action right now in relation to a very concrete objective DeRay: and what’s a piece of advice that you gotten over the years [00:51:00] is stuck with you

Jonathan: I started off in medical school and I liked being a doctor but it just wasn’t really for me getting out these issues of. Social justice and Health Equity and other factors. I felt like I needed to do something else with my life and it’s hard because when you’re in a professional track all the pressure in the world is telling you oh you put in all this time for medical school, you know, it was all just stick it out for the rest of your life and I got a lot of love and support from people I care about along the way I left residency afterwards and went back to grad school and I’ve pulled together this career that scene probably counterintuitive and now I get to Mentor people who were

Trying to combine those same factors. And so sometimes the non-traditional path can end up being the most meaningful one. DeRay: Before we go. What is your advice to white people? So, it is an interesting moment of why people seem to be engaged in issues of Justice in ways that at scale they’ve not been before what should we be telling white people in terms of how to make an impact in moments like this

[00:52:00] Jonathan: Mmm, I had a piece in Washington Post did basically argued that it’s time to talk about what it means to be white in America. And part of what I was saying in that point is we haven’t really developed a language. They have to realize that you know, we have 200 years of whiteness being invisible

And so, I urge people to Define what whiteness means for them and to look out at representations of whiteness and asked if Donald Trump and Steve Banning other people are doing Justice to what whiteness means to them. And the other of course is to learn from people who are really at the front of

Doing for social justice and who’ve been talking about race and so really learn from thinkers and Scholars and activists have color about ways to be collaborative and recognize that you don’t have all the answers in the really defining whiteness right now is not in a vacuum that whiteness is a relational term and so it has to be a conversation

That’s a horizontal conversation. DeRay: Well, thanks so much for joining us today and party the people can’t wait for more people to read your book and can’t wait to see what comes next.  Jonathan: Thank you so much as from great

[00:53:00] DeRay: Well, that’s it. Thanks, so much for tuning in a posse of the people this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcast or this apple podcast or somewhere else and I’ll see you next week.