Why Is Everyone Getting Divorced? (with Jenee Desmond-Harris & Panama Jackson) | Crooked Media
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September 28, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
Why Is Everyone Getting Divorced? (with Jenee Desmond-Harris & Panama Jackson)

In This Episode

Jenee Desmond Harris, Slate’s “Dear Prudence” columnist and podcast host, joins Damon for a discussion rooted in divorce and giving relationship advice during a time when it feels like couples from all walks of life are splitting up. Then, Panama Jackson returns to help Damon advise a young man with cash flow issues who wants to know if he should pursue dating while broke.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I do often wake up at night and wonder if people are out there reading my columns, going what the hell does this bitch know? [laughter] Who is she supposed to be you know? And I comfort myself with the mantra of my predecessor at Slate, Danny Lavery, who always said, You’re qualified to give advice because someone asked. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So I’m qualified to give advice because Slate asked me to. And you decided to write a letter knowing that I was going to answer it. So that’s sort of like my official response. 

 

Damon Young: That’s a great mantra. I wish someone would have told me that. So welcome back, everyone, to a very, very, very special episode of Stuck with Damon Young. So I’m here in Pittsburgh, and spotted lantern flies are every fucking where. And you know what else is everywhere? Everywhere I turn. Everywhere I look. Divorce. It just seems like celebrities, like Hugh Jackman and his wife and Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner and Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert. Just so many people getting divorced that have never gotten divorced before. And even regular people seem to have caught the bug. It just feels like more friends and acquaintances are splitting up this year than usual. There’s a lot of talk about this and so much more. I’m joined by the homie Jenee Desmond Harris, who many of you also know is Slate magazine’s Dear Prudence. And then for dear Damon, the homie, my brother Panama Jackson returns to help a guy who’s wondering if he’s too broke to be dating. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] So Jenee Desmond Harris is Slate magazine’s Dear Prudence. And Jenee was also my editor when I was a contributing opinion writer for New York Times several years ago. So, Jenee, right when you got on, I was talking to my producers about birth dates. We were talking about how I never really got a chance to celebrate my birthday in a classroom because I have, like, a December 30th birthday. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: So I have FOMO about, you know, people who have been able to have, like the birthday day in school. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. 

 

Damon Young: Cause I just never had that. And then it segued to, like, how uncomfortable birthday songs can be. [laughter] And there was this one time in particular where I was with somebody. We were actually engaged. This was back in, like, 2005. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Wait how old were you at that time? 

 

Damon Young: I was 25. 26 around there. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. So you were a child who got engaged by mistake. Okay. 

 

Damon Young: Yes. Yes, I was a baby. I should not have been engaged. Right. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Still living my parents. And so her and her mom took me to Joe’s Crab Shack for my birthday. And if you’ve ever been to Joe’s Crab Shack on a birthday. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I haven’t. 

 

Damon Young: They make you hula hoop in front of everybody. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: They make you hula hoop? Not the server, but, you?

 

Damon Young: Know, they make you hula hoop. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: How is there even space for that between the tables? 

 

Damon Young: I mean, Joe’s feels like pretty spacious, I think. Or maybe you just get in the middle. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. [laughs]

 

Damon Young: I’m so traumatized by that. I might have been on a table I like. I don’t know how I did it. I just remember [laughs] I was hula hooping in front of people. Right. And and again, I was already, like, on my way out of this—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Of the relationship?

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And like, when you’re in a circumstance where you’re kind of on your way out, everything is fake, I think. But that was like, you don’t know me, because if you knew me, then you would know that I don’t want to be hula hooping in front of a bunch of a hundred random niggas at Joe’s Crab Shack. This is not joyous. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I mean, in the woman’s defense, she was probably, what, 24? She was also a child. Hula hooping was probably right in her wheelhouse. 

 

Damon Young: Yes, yes, yes. She was also very young. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: But yeah, she looked at Damon Young and said, you know what? He would love? [laughter] The attention of a whole restaurant while he looks ridiculous. That sounds like a great birthday celebration. 

 

Damon Young: Yes, it is so completely me. Yeah she nailed that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I remember having, like, a similar moment where I was at a restaurant, actually, and had a foot out of a relationship and just thought, this isn’t going to work. And the actual thing is not a big deal. But it just something clicked in my head. The guy had ordered a some kind of like a sandwich [laughter] I guess it was maybe like an upscale American type restaurant, not like white tablecloth, just a one of the many decent D.C. restaurants. And the sandwich had feta cheese on it. And it’s fine to not like feta cheese, right. But the thing he said to the waitress was, do you have any good cheese like American? [laughter] And I was just like, I don’t know any good cheese like American? I’m not like a stuck up person or bougee or anything. And if you don’t like feta cheese, that’s fine. If you love American cheese, that’s fine. But to look the waitress straight the eye and say, Do you have any good cheese? Just I just was like, yeah, I think it’s over. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, I think that’s enough. Like, if you really like somebody, something like that could be, oh, that was a little weird, but okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: That’s exactly it. Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: But when you’re on your way out, then everything becomes everything. Like, I actually have a similar story. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: I was at a Cheesecake Factory. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Love the Cheesecake Factory. 

 

Damon Young: With someone on the way out and this is going to sound like the pettiest shit. Like, whatever people have, like those Twitter threads about what’s the pettiest thing you’ve ever done? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah, I love those. 

 

Damon Young: This is mine. Okay, so be one. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. 

 

Damon Young: Cheesecake Factory. On my way out. The relationship. We’re still hanging out, picking up whatever. She ordered pork tenderloin for dinner. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Does that strike you as, like, an elderly meal? 

 

Damon Young: I just thought it was so boring. [laughter] Why would you get this boring ass meal? And the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with pork tenderloin, but I’m just thinking yeah, this. This is boring. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: It is and all, I mean, it seems like especially it’s one thing if they have like six options for dinner. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: You choose pork tenderloin, but you had 700, you had avocado egg rolls. 

 

Damon Young: All the fun things that are on the menu here and you get fucking pork tenderloin? [laughter]

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I’m just imagining, like your face changing across the table and she doesn’t know why. She’s like, I guess he’s just in a mood. And it was because of the pork tenderloin. 

 

Damon Young: And Cheesecake Factory might have the best pork tenderloin in America. I don’t know. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I doubt it. 

 

Damon Young: But again, is this something that I was like, yeah, I can’t this can’t continue. So it’s funny. Like it feels like this is like the season of divorce. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Celebrities who have never been divorced before. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. Are getting divorced. Hugh Jackman. I didn’t even know he was married. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: I wasn’t sure that he was straight. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mmm. 

 

Damon Young: And he was married to a woman for 27 years. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. You know which one shook me up? 

 

Damon Young: What? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Miss Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mom. 

 

Damon Young: I forgot about that one. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: So you have Tina Knowles and Richard Lawson. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: You have Young Jeezy. And what’s her name? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Jeannie Mai.

 

Damon Young: And who else? There’s another notable celeb. Oh, Joe Jonas. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: And Sophie Turner. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Justin Trudeau. And his wife. Whose name? I don’t know. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Who else? Teyana Taylor. 

 

Damon Young: Teyana and Iman.

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Obviously, these are celebrity couples, and we do not know what these people’s lives are like on the inside. Right. All of it is a performance. Right. But there are certain couples where the love and the connection and the bond seems genuine. 

 

Damon Young: Remy Ma and Papoose. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Are going through things. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And so Morgan, our star studded producer, you know, she’s all into the stars and astrology. And other people I know are into that. And she’s like, You know what? This is just the season, for the stars are aligned in a way. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: That’s so funny. I’m into astrology, too, but only as it pertains to me and what I’m going through. [laughter] Like I can tell you all about Geminis? It never would have occurred to me to look to the stars to figure out what’s going on with other people. 

 

Damon Young: You know, I shouldn’t have said that with as much skepticism as I did, because I have gotten more into or I’ve gotten less dismissive. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Of astrology just because I don’t know everything. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: About the universe. And I think that the more that you learn, the more you realize that, you know, we really have no idea how this shit works. And maybe there is a correlation between how the stars are aligned and how it affects my mood and behavior here on Earth or when I was born and like all that shit. It’s possible. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I feel like there’s definitely, like a lot of confirmation bias involved, but I have a decent track record of guessing people’s signs when it comes to the science that I know and have strong feelings about. So I think there might be something there. 

 

Damon Young: I mean, I feel like my skepticism about astrology is quintessentially Capricorn. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. 

 

Damon Young: And I’m a quintessential Capricorn, so. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay, that’s one I don’t know a lot about. What are you supposed to be like? 

 

Damon Young: Just very, like, practical, pragmatic, money driven and ambitious. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mmm. Money driven. So, you went to journalism? 

 

Damon Young: Yes. Took it to the right field. [laughs] Jenee is happening? What is in the atmosphere. Why does it seem like so many people are breaking up? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Well, I don’t know if more people are breaking up than usual. Like, to be fair. What is it like 40 to 50% of first marriages end in divorce? And I think it’s 60 to 70% of second marriages. So I don’t know. But I feel like everyone agrees there has been a burst of divorces over the summer. Right. Actually, I have a colleague at Slate who wrote a piece with a few explanations. So I feel like before I just make stuff up. I’ll give some  credit to her reporting. I’ll share a few of them and see if they resonate with you. This is Heather Schwedel. She said one of the explanations is summer itself. A lot of divorces happen during the summer, especially when kids head off to camp or college, leaving the parents to kind of deal with themselves and realize they don’t like each other. Another one is uncertain times. So in this case, that relates to the pandemic fallout. Some people are still dealing with the impact of COVID. Some of them might have started when they were like one on one at home together all the time, and now they’re back out in the world. And that’s starting to take a toll. Other people, what have you, public relations strategy? Some maybe they were going to divorce anyway. And summer is a good time to bury news because people are less tuned in. And finally, Venus in retrograde. [laughter] See, I thought I knew astrology but I thought it was Mercury that was in retrograde. I was telling everyone that’s why stuff was going wrong for me. But according to Heather, it’s Venus. 

 

Damon Young: Venus. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And what that means, astrologically speaking is at the time heavily associated with breakups and relationship troubles. So I don’t know. Do any of those resonate? 

 

Damon Young: I mean, Venus. Definitely. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Venus. [laughs]

 

Damon Young: Venus does. You know Venus in retrograde? Yes. You know. Just Venus’ fault. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I feel like the post pandemic. 

 

Damon Young: And that’s the other one, too. I think that we’re still in the pandemic. Right. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. 

 

Damon Young: We’re not in the lockdown. We’re still in the pandemic. And I think that that just adds to just general sense of anxiety. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: That people feel about. I mean, we’re in the pandemic. We just dealt with a mother fucking insurrection and the person who insurrected—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: —might be the next president. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? So that exists too. Everyone is broke. Even people with money are feeling a bit more financial anxiety. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Than usual. People who I guess would have been safe for 20, 25 years ago now, are in more precarious positions with that. And so you have all of this stuff combined, plus all of this sky falling ness of the news of the climate and fires in the air and lantern flies fucking everywhere. And so. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah, I mean, there really is a I have a strong the world is ending feeling. You know.

 

Damon Young: I’m not going to say I felt more that way now than I ever have because when I was a kid growing up in the eighties, I was terrified of nuclear war. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And so I was watching the news, and—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: You are much more tuned into the news than I was. I did not think about that. 

 

Damon Young: I was paying very close attention to, like, Russia. [laughter]

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. 

 

Damon Young: I was really, really into Russia and Gorbachev and the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I went back and read out about all of that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Wow, I missed all of this as a child. [laughs]

 

Damon Young: But anyway, so I felt it then. But now all of these anxieties that are happening all at the same time, I think are just making, you know, as someone who is married also is like when the world is that way, then everything can add a little bit more strain, a little bit more stress. And we become a little bit less patient. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: A little bit less forgiving. You have a little bit less grace. And not just for your partner, but for yourself, too. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And you might have a stronger sense of the feeling that, like, we’re all going to die, many of us, much sooner than we think. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And you may just want to live the life that makes you happiest while you have time. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. Yes. The other part is that people if you don’t have more access to options, you at least have more visible confirmation that options exist. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. Visible confirmation that options exist. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: That’s true. Especially for people who tried to be more cautious after the pandemic for a longer time. I think most people are pretty much fully outside at this point. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And, yeah, they’re seeing those options, even though, I don’t know, before the pandemic, everyone was on apps anyway, and that’s where the options lived. But I think with celebrities, they go hang out with other celebrities. And that’s where like at private home. And that’s where they meet people who are like on their level. 

 

Damon Young: Pandemic or not, people are back outside. I think this felt like the first year where even the most vigilant people are like, you know what? I’m not staying in the house forever. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Now you have some people who are still and for good reason. Extremely cautious, extremely mindful. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I went to my first concert since the one that was canceled in March 2020, like a month ago. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And just decided you only live once. It was Maxwell performing with the San Francisco Symphony. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: A real middle aged Black person thing to do. 

 

Damon Young: How did you feel about it? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I mean, I would risk my life to see Maxwell, so I was happy to go.

 

Damon Young: Obviously, you just did. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah, I did. 

 

Damon Young: It doesn’t have to be a hypothetical. [laughs]

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I felt a little bit stupid. I mean, I still have a pretty young baby at home. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And I’m in a situation where if I were to get COVID or my husband were to get COVID, we would be really screwed. I mean, we don’t have a basement for someone to isolate in, we don’t have a lake house for someone to go isolate in. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And we wouldn’t want to expose my mom, so we would have no help. And I’ve known some people who’ve gotten sick recently and felt really bad for a few weeks, and I felt stupid knowing that I was potentially setting myself up for that, to say nothing of like the risk to my baby’s little lungs. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: But, you know, we’re all as vaccinated as we can be, and I just really wanted to do it. Honestly, it wasn’t a a great logical choice. But then I looked around and the whole concert venue was making the same choice with one person in a mask, you know? 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. I mean, I went to NABJ this year for the first time. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Had a great time, too great of a time. Because I came back with the virus and gave it to my wife. Now, we managed to be able to isolate in the house where we were in our bedroom, most of the time when we left, the bedroom had our mask on. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And so the kids didn’t get sick. The kids basically just had free reign of the house. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So they were just running wild. 

 

Damon Young: They were just running wild. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: How old are they again? 

 

Damon Young: Seven and four. [laughter] And so we would come out and we prepare food for them, and we would get food for ourselves. And we’d go back to the room. And then, you know, whenever there was like a fire, like almost like a literal fire, we’d have to come out in like, you know, get the fire extinguisher out and—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: That’s pretty impressive that you have a four year old who can not be watched for even like 5 to 7 minutes at a time. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, it’s it’s a lot. But again, another thing that puts a strain. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: On relationships is kids. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Oh, yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Right. Because that changes the entire dynamic of now and again, I don’t know what each of these relationships that we mentioned before or other people who, you know, seem to be happy. But have gotten separated or divorced. I don’t know what everyone’s kids situations are, but having a young child is stressful. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yes. And no matter how cute and cool you think you are as a celebrity, a young child is going to bring you all the way back down to uncute and uncool. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: There’s no way around it if you’re actually the one caring for them. 

 

Damon Young: And from what we know of the Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner situation, child rearing is in the center of that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Oh, yeah. Didn’t they say something like different family values? 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Was that a different couple? I can’t remember. 

 

Damon Young: I think that was his PR people trying to, like, get ahead of it, not realizing that she actually is more loved than he is. And it’s kind of backfiring on him. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Now, so there’s that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: You know, it’s funny. When you first asked me or told me what you want to talk about today, I was thinking, you know, celebrity breakups and divorces are not a big deal because I have a theory that a celebrity couple getting married is the equivalent level of commitment to a regular person couple deciding to be exclusive. Like they just get married willy nilly, I think because they can afford a wedding and they can afford a ring, there’s no reason not to. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And it’s like a sign to the public that they’re a real couple. But what puts a hole in my theory is when they have children, because when you have kids, it’s going to be real no matter who you are. 

 

Damon Young: Now, obviously, you know, if a woman is carrying the child, then that’s obviously an extreme physiological impact on bodies, on on everything. Right. And that can last for for years, forever for as long as a person’s alive. You know, for some people. But in terms of like a child rearing, a lot of these people do have like flexibilities that the normal person doesn’t have. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Where they might have an in-house nanny or in-house care that you’re not waking up, you know, five times a night because you have the person who is going to do all that stuff or you’re not having to think about schedules and, okay, well, today I pick the kids up and tomorrow you pick the kids up and how am I going to have time to work and etc., etc., because you’re able to outsource all that stuff. But just getting, I guess, back to the subject of divorce now, I had Elaine Welteroth on on the show a few months ago. We were talking about this and she had mentioned that with her husband when they were friends before they got married and then, you know, fell in love and got married. And they had a conversation, I guess, either before they got engaged or right after they got engaged about divorce. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. 

 

Damon Young: That Elaine initiated. And to paraphrase, she was basically saying that I want divorce to be on table. I don’t want the divorce to be considered like a failure. I want it to be something that is an option that’s a part of marriage. It’s not like necessarily like the end. It’s not proof of like, you know, this thing didn’t work. This thing was wrong. We were bad. We made a bad decision. It was just like, you know what? We were married. We were happy. Things might have changed and we’re different people now. And so what do you think about that? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I think that’s extremely evolved, probably extremely the right way to think about things and also something I could never like authentically and emotionally get my head around. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I also think if you wanted to have divorce on the table, you might just want to not actually make the marriage official. Like with the state. 

 

Damon Young: Hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Just because it’s much easier to sort of calmly and peacefully walk away if you don’t have all the legal entanglements. Right. I think it’s tough to say. Okay, we’ve been together five or six years and we’re different people. We’re going to part ways. And then it’s like you’re having to go through a mediator or judge, I guess you could theoretically decide everything on your own about who gets what and like what to do, when you sell the house and custody, but. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I don’t know. It just feels like it would be really messy and tricky, even with the two most evolved people with the best intentions. 

 

Damon Young: We talked about this a bit when I was on your show a couple of months ago. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And I guess our sensibilities about relationships are a little distinct. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Where you, you know, someone writes in to you having some relationship issue. Your inclination is to try to think of something that’ll keep them together. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. Well, that’s because my editor told me I can’t tell everyone to just break up. [laughter] Because that’s not an advice column. 

 

Damon Young: And when I had a column. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: My advice usually was. Yeah, you need to break up. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Unless someone was married and, like, had like years, then. But if you were, like, dating. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Or, you know, a few months in and you had some. It’s like just breakup just found someone new. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Well, I do always say, like, dating is meant for getting to know someone and deciding if you want it to be more serious. It’s not a space for fixing someone. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Or changing them. Or, like. Enduring struggle. You’re allowed to just walk away. That’s what distinguishes it from marriage. At least in my book. 

 

Damon Young: As a married person, how has your own relationship impacted the advice and your job basically and your sensibility around, you know, the type of advice that you give people? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So I do think I have a really great husband. And even though I talk about Joel a lot publicly, I don’t talk a lot about I’m not comfortable talking publicly and like earnestly a lot about how he’s a really phenomenal partner and just a really kind, really generous, really emotionally evolved person. So I do think that I’m often holding people to that standard. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I know that Joel is not the only Joel out there. I think there’s you know. 

 

Damon Young: There’s at least three. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah, a healthy, emotionally evolved, kind, generous lid for every pot. And so I want everyone to have that. You know, I don’t want the people who write to me to settle for the husband who, like, insists on playing video games 17 hours a day and yells at you when you interrupt him. I just feel that the bar is on the floor for so many people, and I know how hard it is dating and I know how hard it is going through relationships that don’t work out. And I’ve definitely been there. But I think a lot of people are really, really, really settling under the theory that relationships involve hard work. And I always talk about how I think this phrase is so damaging and so toxic because the work should be like daily tinkering, easy loving work, not work where you’re like sitting in the closet crying or, you know, going to family gatherings alone or wanting to search through your spouse’s phone because you know something is going on or afraid to bring things up because they always snap at you and tell you to shut up. I guess I would say my marriage and the fact that I’m married to someone who just treats me really well makes me want a lot of the people who write into my column to aim higher because I’m nobody’s special. I’m regular. I’m not Beyonce. I was able to get a husband who meets all my expectations and more so I know other people can get it. 

 

Damon Young: It’s funny, the last thing you said, you know, you’re nobody special. I think you’re special Jenee. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Thanks. 

 

Damon Young: But nobody special. You know, I’m not Beyonce. Okay. So Very Smart Brothas, Panama and I back in the day, we started as relationship advice. It was like a tongue in cheek relationship advice site. And we there was intentionality behind that because, you know, we started the blog in 2008. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And at that time, you know, relationship conversation was like a zeitgeist driving force. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Oh, my God. You know, that’s how I broke into journalism was writing a terrible relationship piece. 

 

Damon Young: I did not know that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: But yeah, we’ll talk about later. 

 

Damon Young: But but yeah, for people who don’t remember, I mean, Steve Harvey’s book was ubiquitous. It was everywhere. I mean, you were still a couple of years away from it. Not from, He’s Not That into you—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Think Like a, yeah—

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And Steve Harvey’s Think Like a Lady, Act Like a Man. Hill Harper had a book called The Conversation. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Even, like, Finesse Mitchell from SNL had a relationship book. The first public appearance I did as a writer was on a panel for Paul Brunson, who was like the modern day Hitch, and it was a relationship—

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: —panel in D.C. with Danielle Belton. No, Danielle wasn’t on the panel, but she was at the event, and that’s when I met her the first time. And that was in 2009. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And so we started be as be as like, you know what? We’re going to have like this really tongue in cheek, jokey, funny relationship advice. Right. And then we eventually transitioned to doing what we really want to do, which is have like a general cultural blog or whatever, which is what VSB ended up being. Another reason why I kind of shied away from the relationship advice because I felt like when you are a person who gives advice, there becomes this parasocial sort of thing. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And when you’re giving advice on the Internet, there’s also like an expectation of the type of life or the type of person that you are. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm. 

 

Damon Young: And it’s like if you’re a man giving relationship advice on the Internet, it was almost like, you know, okay, so are you Hitch do you look like Will Smith? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Do you look like Paul Carrick Brunson. So if not, then why? Why? Why should I listen to you? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Like, we even have people say that. To us at events like yo— Like Panama jokes about that all the time about how someone called him a three or something. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Wow. [laughter]

 

Damon Young: Okay. We definitely had people being like, yo, y’all niggas, y’all just some average— 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Did people ever date in your personal life like you broke off an engagement over hula hooping at a restaurant? What do you know? 

 

Damon Young: I mean, that was actually the first time I said that publicly. [laughs]

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Okay. 

 

Damon Young: Part of me kind of getting away from that was because and again, I got back into it, you know, with the Washington Post and whatever. But part of me getting away from it 14 years ago at this point was just like, Yeah, I don’t want that pressure. I don’t want people making presumptions about me and about my personal life. Based off of the advice that I might give people or the way that I write. And I’m wondering for someone who again, you are, Dear Prudence you’re one of the most prominent advice givers in the country right now. How have you dealt with that? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: I do often wake up at night and wonder if people are out there reading my columns, what the hell does this bitch know? Who is she supposed to be? [laughter] You know, and I comfort myself with the mantra of my predecessor at Slate, Danny Lavery, who always said, You’re qualified to give advice because someone asked. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So I’m qualified to give advice because Slate asked me to. And you decided to write a letter knowing that I was going to answer it. So that’s sort of like my official response. 

 

Damon Young: That’s a great mantra. I wish someone would have told me that. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah, that makes me feel a lot better. But I also think, well, two things. One, I try to be transparent and vulnerable in my advice. So instead of acting as if I have everything figured out in every area of life, romantic family, relationships, career, I try to mention things that I’ve gone through, I am going through. There are still difficult and just how I approach them. So there was a letter about a woman who was going through IVF, infertility and trying to have a baby. And I, if I remember correctly, she was making demands for money from her family and just was being an asshole constantly. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: And I actually kind of took up for this woman because I’ve been there dealing with infertility, and I just felt like, you don’t know what she’s going through. This is a form of grief. It’s almost like mourning a death. If you want a child and you don’t know if you’ll be able to have it, basically be nice to her. And the commenters just absolutely ripped me a new one. They just attacked me. People. I don’t even try to read the comments but they were finding my email and screenshotting the comments—

 

Damon Young: Oh wow. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Just so you know, everyone said you were wrong. I still remember the woman’s name was Mia. Mia was wrong. Mia can’t act like that. And I actually realized, you know what? They have a point. And so the next time a question like that came up, I said in the past, I think I’ve let my own bias make me really defend a woman who’s dealing with infertility. And that’s probably not right. You’re still not allowed to demand your family’s money and be a jerk to everyone. So I’m going to answer it differently in this column. I also go ahead and ask for help when I need it, because I think in 2023, nobody is sitting around making any decisions from like what water bottle to buy to how to do your hair without looking at the internet. So I will ask people for input if I can admit that this is something where I just don’t feel qualified or I have no clue. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So I think the combination of those things hopefully makes me a little bit more trustworthy and stop people from saying, you know, who is this bitch and what does she know? 

 

Damon Young: The vulnerability part is really key, too. And I think even asking the question is a part of vulnerability, because again, you’re admitting like, you know, I don’t know everything. I need help. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: You know, I have blind spots and perhaps someone with a different perspective can can help me with this. And vulnerability part where you admit to, like, you know, not only do I have biases not only do I have blind spots, but, you know, I have things that I’m self-conscious about. I have things that I’ve done wrong. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: I have things I’m currently doing wrong. Right. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: And that vulnerability makes you more real, more relatable. And now there might be some people who might feel like it disqualifies you. But I think that actually this is my own sensibility for any sort of relationship advice and also any sort of critique, any sort of like long form critique. I think it’s just better when you have a bit more skin in the game. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. 

 

Damon Young: And you are able to be more personally vulnerable about things in a critique. And I know some people feel like the opposite where they just want like almost like this very, very coldly objective with no overtly discernible parts of yourself in it because there’s always going to be parts of yourself in it. But again, the vulnerability, you can’t do that without being what, you can’t be good at it, I don’t think, without being vulnerable. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. And also, who is the person who would give the advice that wouldn’t make anyone say, what do you know? Right. I mean, Oprah, I don’t know. Some people would be like, well, why haven’t you married Stedman? You know, what do you know? Or you still openly struggle with your weight. What do you know? Or you elevated Dr. Oz? What do you know? But she’s Oprah, like, I’m sure she has a lot of great things to say. Barack Obama, you know, I’m sure there’s things people could critique him on in terms of policy decisions and say, I don’t want advice from someone who would do that. So like does bring me some comfort to know that there’s literally no one out there who could act authoritative. Without raising at least a couple of eyebrows. 

 

Damon Young: We all get some shit in our closets, all of us. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: No one’s perfect. You know, and it’s funny because that was actually like just going back when we were doing the advice column at VSB, that was actually like one of my like rationales for why I am more equipped than someone like a Hitch type character. It’s like, yo. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Who would you rather get advice from someone who could just walk into a room and have everyone, you know, fall at their feet or someone who who was not had that status? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Right. [laughs] Did you follow the saga of that Derrick Jaxn guy? 

 

Damon Young: Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That guy. Yeah.

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. I mean, so he was giving advice on relationships, trying to be like a good guy, giving relationship advice. And the next thing you know, he was caught cheating and his wife was making a video in a bonnet. Now I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and I follow his wife’s every move now trying to figure out what’s going on and what’s going to happen next. But I think that’s an example of someone whose advice kind of fell apart once you learned that he had some personal struggles and shortcomings. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. What did you discover when you went down the bonnet hole? 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So I have to say, I did think that his wife was struggling with her mental health. 

 

Damon Young: It seemed that way. I mean, obviously we can’t tell that, but. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: It felt that way in the things that I saw, too. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: But then she did a sit down interview that I watched on YouTube, but I can’t remember the name of the guy who hosted it. He has some podcast about like trying to find his soul mate. Anyway, she was incredibly clear eyed, articulate, calm, cool, collected, smart, wise, insightful, reflective. So I don’t know. I’m seeing a different version of her on Instagram than I did in that interview. And it’s just a reminder that what we all post on social media is not exactly who we actually are in real life. So I’m just going to reserve judgment. 

 

Damon Young: So, Jenee, thank you again. Dear Prudence. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Thank you. 

 

Damon Young: Do you like when people call you Dear Prudence, a person like Prudie? Dear Prudie? DP?

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So one thing I learned when I was reading the comments, when they were mad at me one time, they made up a name for me. It was Prudee, like a combination of Jenee and Prudy [laughter] and I kind of liked that. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: But yeah people can call me Prudence, I’ve said before, my mom likes to be called Prudee Sr. 

 

Damon Young: Oh wow. Okay.

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So, yeah, it works.

 

Damon Young: All right. So.

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: So thank you so much for having me on. This was really fun. 

 

Damon Young: Oh, no. It’s always fun talking to you, so. All right. 

 

Jenee Desmond Harris: Talk to you next time. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: Up next, for dear Damon, we’re joined by the homie Panama Jackson. But first, Damon hates. [music plays] Okay, so this week’s Damon hates. It’s actually a response, which I haven’t really done before, like a straight response to somebody. And so this morning I went to Slate and I read an article titled Please Let Me Bring Gifts to Your Kid’s Birthday Party. The subhead, I know you want a clutter free, eco friendly celebration, well, I want children’s joy. By Lucy Huber. And, okay, so I read the article and I get her rationale for how she doesn’t want to go to parties empty handed. And, you know, it feels kind of awkward to go to a child’s party and bring nothing but like something for a potluck or like a card that the child is not going to read. So I get that part of it. There’s also a part where she is considering this to be like an upper middle class white person thing. Like, oh, we’re so above gifts and, you know, we’re trying to be eco friendly and eco conscious and we don’t want to glued to Earth sort of thing that she’s kind of dismissing as like a crunchy hippie, performatively progressive white person thing. And I just want to say is that we don’t want fucking gifts for our kids either. And we are definitely not white. Okay? And it’s not about saving the Earth. It’s not about being more eco friendly. It’s not about even teaching our children some lesson about, like collectivity and sharing and valuing the things that they have, now we teach them enough lessons. This we’re not going to use gifts as an opportunity to teach lessons. No, we don’t want gifts because we don’t want you to add to the bunch of shit that is already in our house. And I say shit that is like, that’s person neutral. That’s not just children shit. That’s our shit too, that we need to get rid of. We are always like every weekend. We are just trying to determine and figure out different ways to throw shit away or different ways to store shit or different ways to box shit so that we have more space in the house. So it’s not as cluttered, so it’s not as junky, so it’s not messy. And so you have to consider that when a family, particularly a family that has multiple children. Asks that you don’t bring gifts to a birthday party. They’re doing it for a good fucking reason, not some made up bullshit, not some performatively progressive shit, but because of actual space. Because the thing is, the more clutter you have in the house, the more anxious that can make you, the more anxious that could make you. Then the more on edge you are and the more on edge you are the worst you are as a parent. And so not having extra shit in the house actually enhances our ability and our bandwidth as parents. So basically, by ignoring this rule, you are telling us you are trying to persuade us to be worse fucking parents to our kids. [laughs] Right? And so again, I get what you’re saying. I get what people who feel this way, I get what you’re saying. But you have to not think about yourself, right. And think about the household that your gift is going to have to exist it. [music plays] So joining me this week on dear Damon is my great friend, my brother, my homie. Panama Jackson. Panama what’s good, man? 

 

Panama Jackson: What’s going on brother. Glad to be here. Thank you for having me back on. 

 

Damon Young: Of course. Always. Always. I mean, this isn’t, you know, it’s work, but it’s not like work whenever we talk because it’s just like, you know, two niggas in space talking, talking to each other. 

 

Panama Jackson: Homeboys in outer space, even. 

 

Damon Young: You know the thing that has been on my mind. You know, I can’t get out of my mind is the speech the coach Morgan gave before the game. So I feel like that’s like one of the top five pregame speeches I’ve seen in like the last ten years, even without the Deion influence, this nigga is trying to get another job. Like that’s what I was thinking was like, this is his audition tape for the next time NFL jobs are open, that his name is going to be part of the pool. 

 

Panama Jackson: I can see that the whole thing about Hollywood and they’re playing for wins, not clicks. It was a good speech. He wrote some of that down beforehand. He definitely had some of that stuff written down. 

 

Damon Young: Definitely. He definitely wrote that down. They’re fighting for clicks, we’re fighting for wins. Yeah, he did not come off of that top of his head. I mean, Loaded Lux couldn’t have done that off the top of his head. He definitely wrote that shit down. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yeah you texted me, and was like, this is bars. And I had to agree like he annoyed me, but I could appreciate the fact that he took that moment. I didn’t know his name beforehand. I think you mentioned that too. Like I didn’t know what his name was beforehand. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, I had no idea who this guy was. I mean, obviously he’s the coach of Oregon, so he’s, you know, obviously successful and prominent in college football, but I didn’t know who he was. And so it’s funny, the irony is that he can thank Deion, he should thank Deion for making him, you know, giving him a greater status now too. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yeah. And along with the most amazing exclusives from Nike, you know now he’s going to have a wonderful platform like everybody was talking about this dude. So yeah you’re right. 

 

Damon Young: Morgan the producer, what do you have in store for us this week? What is cooking in the lab? 

 

Morgan Moody: Dear Damon, I like this woman, but I’m broke right now in between jobs. Should I go after this woman or stay in my lane? I don’t really have the money at the moment to date. 

 

Panama Jackson: Kind of answered the question for himself, didn’t he? 

 

Damon Young: I think he did. I think he’s already leaning towards, you know, yeah, I need to sit this one out. But I think it gives to a bigger question about, you know, whether or not broke niggas should date. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yes. 

 

Damon Young: And the thing is, you know, like, I get my man’s trepidation and I think that a question like this needs to be qualified because most niggas is broke. That is just the reality of being Black in America. 

 

Panama Jackson: Facts. 

 

Damon Young: Is that most of us are broke or near broke. So if that’s the truth then I guess no one should date. And so I think a question like this needs to be qualified because it’s like, okay, you have your baseline broke, right? Which is just the general collective status. But what is broke for you? 

 

Panama Jackson: That’s a good question. 

 

Damon Young: [laughs] Okay. Like, when are you like, oh, shit. Like, I know niggas is broke, but I am broke, broke. And I think that maybe broke for you is something that needs to be considered, not like broke as like a community. 

 

Panama Jackson: So yes, I do think he answered the question for himself. Like when you when you have already pointed out that you don’t really have enough money to be dating, you probably need to sit that one out, not because you’re broke, but because you don’t have enough to qualify for a date. And we all know, like you’re probably going to insecure the hell out of this date when you go out that you’re going to make it look like you’re broke, perhaps even broker than you are. But if all the statistics are true that marriages are better for men than they are for women, like we basically come up because we get married. That means being broke is kind of just the norm. It’s understood what’s understood doesn’t need to be said, as they say in whatever community says that. Right. So you kind of just got to get out there and find you. This is where your creative talents need to come into play. But you got to mask the broke with creativity. Fun dates. Take her to a duck pond, right? Like everybody falls in love feeding ducks, you know what I’m saying? So you basically got to mask your broke with interesting and exciting ways to show that as a person while being broke is who you are. It’s not all of who you are. It’s just a component of who you are. But together you can be better as a duo. You just got to make it fall in love with you, bro. That’s all it is there. 

 

Damon Young: But if you don’t have enough money to take her to dinner, how are you going to have enough money to buy food for the ducks?

 

Panama Jackson: A loaf of bread? I mean, look, dinner is expensive these days. I don’t know, man. You go out to eat. I spend way more money going out to eat than I remember going out to eat used to cost. Like, it actually is jarring at this point. And I don’t really go to, like, super fancy places because I’m not really a super fancy. Like, I don’t care about how food is plated, I just want it to be good with good portions. But going out is expensive, like inflation is just gone through the roof. I don’t know if that is actually applicable to what I’m saying right now, but I feel like so I understand feeling too broke to go date. But you need a loaf of bread. And here’s the thing. If you get it in advance that shows you put an effort in your thinking, right? Like, here’s my goal. I want us to go do this fun thing together. Let’s feed some ducks. Let’s go to the zoo. I mean, I live in D.C. where zoos are free, so I don’t know if zoos cost money in other places being in D.C. has ruined my perception of like paying for museums. But you just got to find ways to be creative. Now it’s getting cold outside, so you know, it’s more expensive to be inside in the summertime. It’s easy to date broke. Picnics are always a win. I don’t know what you do with winter picnics. 

 

Damon Young: I think those are good ideas. And again, if you live in a city, there’s going to be free shit happening all the time. That would be, you know, cool to do. You know, museums, gallery crawls, you know, one of us have a book talk, you know, or panel go to that shit. Take a date. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yes, I agree. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? You got at this a little bit at beginning your answer where there’s like if you’re already believing like, you know what, because I’m broke, I have less to offer or because I’m broke, I’m less masculine, I’m less attractive. Then you’re already entering the situation. You’re already entering this environment. Like with a losers mentality. And that’s like the worst thing that you could have. You know, you’re going on a first or second date is already thinking that, you know what, I’m not worthy. I’m not supposed to be here. You’re doing me a favor by being here. You know what I mean? And so maybe that until you get out of that state of mind, maybe you don’t date. Yeah, maybe you do sit on the sidelines. Because there are some people who I think need to feel financially secure in order to be romantically secure. And maybe he’s one of those people. 

 

Panama Jackson: I think it was in a movie. I think I love my wife. I remember Chris Rock’s whatever his name was, his boss was like, You never lose women chasing money, but you can always lose money chasing women. Just stack your bread, bro. Like maybe this aint your season and go stack your paper and then you’ll have plenty of options. Potentially because you have more to lead with in your pitch as to why somebody should date you. Now, you might be changing the type of partner that you’re going to find, if you go out and do the free fun, go to the panels, as Damon suggested. Do something fun that allows us to see you as more of a human. But if you just need somebody to date period to just go get some bread. That way, you know, your pool is people who take some money too, the world would be be your oyster. So I’m with you. You don’t want to be insecure on your date, though, like you definitely don’t want to. In the middle of her ask asking. So how are you? Broke? Which you can tell, you can. [laughter] Like why you why you coming out? You feel attacked. Like you don’t want to be that person. Like that’s everybody hates people who are so insecure as to bring that insecurity on the date with them. 

 

Damon Young: Well, I want to ask you, you know, we’ve all been broke and, you know, broke adjacent, not everyone, because there are some niggas who just have always had money, but most of the niggas I know, right, have been in that circumstance before. And so have you ever met someone, a woman, while you were single who let’s say they’re like a surgeon or some shit and they’re making like four or 500 K. Have you ever felt like someone was out of your league financially? 

 

Panama Jackson: No. 

 

Damon Young: Fuck a surgeon. Let’s say a heiress. Right. Like someone who is like, I don’t know, the princess of Zamunda. Right. And just happens to be [laughter] on U Street and you meet her. You know what I mean. Forget a surgeon, forget a lawyer, but like, someone with, like, real money. Money. 

 

Panama Jackson: I have met somebody like that, but there were no dating prospects there. But now that you mention it, there was a woman that I’d met, and we got to talking, and I could tell the interest was there. But I knew for a fact she made like half a mill a year. And I don’t know that I took myself out of the game because I don’t know that I was ever fully in it, because I’m pretty sure she was looking for somebody. Like I think she was surprised that the spark was there as I was right. And it was just kind of like, Oh, wow. Like, this is like, you know, I really like this dude whatever. And I think that just over time, like, the schedules never align because people who make half a million dollars a year definitely aren’t as free as somebody who’s not [laughter] who is at the time making the high poverty income stream. So it just never quite lined up. But I don’t remember vividly feeling like she’s out of my league, but I don’t know that I pursued it as hard as I maybe could have to try to make it work. And maybe part of that was that like, why would she want to date somebody like me who brought literally nothing to the table, who didn’t even have the table to bring to the table? Like, I didn’t I didn’t have anything. So, you know, maybe subconsciously I took myself out of it. 

 

Damon Young: I’ve definitely been in that situation before and didn’t even go as far as you and the Princess of Zamunda. It was just like, okay, I know this person is like doing whatever. And it’s not even like, you know, over time we’re kicking it. I find out that she’s doing this thing and I’m like, I remove myself. It’s more like, okay, I know already. And there’s a presumption of like, okay, well, if this person is making this much money or has this job, then she’s probably going to be interested in men who are at least at her level, status wise, financially or whatever. I’m not there yet. And so I’m good, you know, and it’s funny because we’re two cis het men talking about this, and this is definitely like a gendered thing, right? In terms of like whether or not you should date while broke. And, you know, if you’ve ever felt like financially insecure around someone else. Not to say that women who date men have never felt that too, but I think there still is more of a stigma for men to be broke than there is for a woman to be broke. 

 

Panama Jackson: It genuinely just looks worse and it always will, I think, because of what we’re expected to show up with. You know, it maybe it’s not even the show. It’s the ambition, like the ambition to get more when you’re broke, and you wear it, you don’t seem like you have ambition. And when you don’t have ambition, it seems like you can’t go get it if you need it. And if you can’t go get it if and when you need it, then what can you really provide anybody? Right? So people who wear the broke kind of seem to lack the ability or drive to go get that thing. Like I think you can always tell when somebody seems like, oh, they’re going to do something with themselves, they might not be there yet, but I can see that on them. Like you exude that kind of confidence or that kind of whatever about yourself. Like you speak it into existence, you manifest you now you want to be able to manifest the two hundred bones you need for that dinner that night, but you might not have to if you’re feeding ducks. So it’s fine. Like you don’t even have to worry about it if you’re out here feeding ducks with half a loaf of bread and some ham or, you know, turkey, depending on people’s particular, you know, dietary restrictions and some Capri Suns and some bags of chips. 

 

Damon Young: You know, I think back just in terms of like the broke woman versus broke man economy Insecure, first season of Insecure where Lawrence, Jay Ellis was unemployed. Right. And when Issa ended up cheating on him and how people were like, oh, yeah, sure [laughter] that’s what you’re supposed to do. Right? You got this broke nigga living with you. Meanwhile, even though he was still scruffy, it’s like a nigga that look like Jay Ellis, who obviously was a college grad, obviously was smart. Just was in a tough stretch. It was like, na nigga. [laughter] Fuck that dude. 

 

Panama Jackson: But to be fair, he was treating his brokenness as pathology like he was treating her bad in all these other ways that the brokenness manifested itself into. Like it was like the symptom. Everything he was doing was a symptom of his brokenness in some way, shape or form, and made everything look worse, too. Like you broke. And you can do this like you broke and this like it was all the extra stuff. 

 

Damon Young: It’s the chicken and egg. It’s like, are you a bad boyfriend because you’re broke or you broke because you’re a bad boyfriend? 

 

Panama Jackson: I don’t know if that works. 

 

Damon Young: That made no sense. No, that didn’t make any. [laughter] That didn’t make any sense. It doesn’t.

 

Panama Jackson: I don’t know what that was. It was bad. 

 

Damon Young: Just let me have it. So, to the guy, we asked the question. We think that you could still date if you’re okay with being broke. But if you’re not okay with being broke, don’t date. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yes. I think that’s it. 

 

Damon Young: Great advice. Thank you. Panama Jackson coming through again. It’s always a pleasure. 

 

Panama Jackson: Hey, man. Thank you for having me. 

 

Damon Young: What you got going on? What’s happening in your world right now? 

 

Panama Jackson: Same old, same old. Just writing, singing, swinging and getting merry like Christmas. You know, podcasting. Teaching a class at Howard University now, which has presented its own significant cultural reference points of how old I am. Because these students don’t know nothing I’m talking about at this point, and they’re introducing me to things I’ve never heard of that apparently are very popular. So for instance, the other day in class, I mentioned the Five Heartbeats, and literally nobody in the class had seen it. Not one person. One person had heard of it. He said he kind of heard of it, but everybody else was like, We have no clue what this is. And this is an essential part of my youth. 

 

Damon Young: There was a really I’m a end on this, but there was a really, really great thread on Twitter like last week from a woman. Her name is Nina Metz, I want to say, she’s a columnist for the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun-Times. And I think she was talking about how one of the things that just doesn’t happen with the TV is like you’re exposed to things because you’re just flicking through channels and you’re watching what your parents are watching, right? And because things today are just so individualized content wise, you’re just not getting that exposure to things that are outside of what you are actually watching. It was a thread about how there were people, young people who had never heard of Denzel Washington. 

 

Panama Jackson: Possible? Yeah, I guess so. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And maybe they just know him as the Equalizer. And like, 15 year old’s aren’t going to see the mother fucking equalizer, you know what I mean, those are movies for us and older. And so, yeah, so it is our fault. 

 

Panama Jackson: Yeah. That gave me something to think about, though, because I think my daughter spends a lot of time on her headphones. She’s at that age, right? So I don’t even 100% know. I don’t even know what her musical proclivities are because she’s always in her headphones. Right. Like, I ask these questions and every now and she’ll play me some songs and I’m like, what is this? Like, this is what you’re listening to. Like, there’s nobody rapping. Like, like, what’s that like and why is it so sad? [laughter] It always reminds me that I have to ask a lot more questions to be intentional about understanding what she’s interested in because so much of it happens on her phone or her iPad, right? So I’m with whoever wrote that. Like, I’m 100% on board with that. Like, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. 

 

Damon Young: Panama Jackson, thanks again coming through. Appreciate you. Also, Panama and I will be hosting the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards in D.C. What is the date? 

 

Panama Jackson: October 26th at the Lincoln Theater. 

 

Damon Young: October 26, at the Lincoln Theater in D.C. We will be there. So if you’re in the D.C. area and you want to come to this, come, it’ll be a good time. We’re going to have fun. You’re going to have fun. It’ll be a lot of fun. 

 

Panama Jackson: 100%. I’m excited. 

 

Damon Young: All right. [music plays] Again, just want to thank Jenee Desmond Harris, Panama Jackson for coming through today. Great conversation, great guests, great topic, and thank you all. Could have been anywhere else in the world, but you chose to be here with us at Stuck with Damon Young. Also, you can get Stuck with Damon Young wherever you get your podcasts, but if you on Spotify app, please go to the app. There are some interactive questions, answers, polling, have some fun. Knock yourself off with that. It should be a lot of fun. Also, if you have any questions about anything whatsoever hit me up at deardamon@crooked.com. All right y’all. See you next week. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Kendra James and Madeleine Haeringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. And from Spotify our executive producers are Lauren Silverman, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam and Krystal Hawes-Dressler. [music plays]