All Tea All Shade On Tennessee | Crooked Media
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February 27, 2023
What A Day
All Tea All Shade On Tennessee

In This Episode

  • The Biden administration has promised new measures to crack down on child labor. It follows a recent investigation by the New York Times, which found that many migrant children are being forced to work in dangerous, labor-intensive jobs.
  • Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee said he will sign House Bill 9, a measure that would ban public drag performances in the state. The law would be the first in the country specifically targeting drag, and comes amid an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the U.S..
  • And in headlines: tornadoes and severe winter weather swept across the Southern Plains, the White House ordered federal agencies to delete TikTok from government-issued devices within 30 days, and Michael B. Jordan is the new face of Calvin Klein underwear.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, February 28th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where it’s our official opinion that the video of Marjorie Taylor Greene working out isn’t real and therefore it cannot hurt you. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I am upset that she seems to be in better shape than me. [laughter] But hate builds muscle is what I’ve heard. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Hate builds muscle. Put that on a t shirt. [laughter] On today’s show, TikTok is getting the boot from US government devices. Plus, we’ve learned that nothing comes between Michael Jordan and his Calvins. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, migrant children are being forced to work jobs in violation of child labor laws, according to a new investigation by The New York Times. The Times spoke to more than 100 migrant child workers in 20 states and found children as young as 12 working labor intensive jobs, sometimes for 12 hours a day. Many of these children are unaccompanied minors, meaning that they entered the United States alone without a parent or guardian with them. The Times also talked to 60 caseworkers at child welfare agencies, most of whom estimated that about two thirds of all migrant children ended up working full time once in the U.S.. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s a really wild statistic. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Two thirds of all migrant children end up working full time. Super absurd and horrible. Josie. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You mentioned that these are brutal jobs. Tell us what kind of jobs are these kids doing? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s so many awful things like packing Cheerios and Lucky Charms boxes with cereal, working in slaughterhouses, sawing wood planks, working as roofers, scrubbing dishes, harvesting coffee, running milk machines, sewing clothes, washing hotel sheets, a ton of different things in different states across the country, all intense and requiring manual labor and all more work than any child is supposed to be doing. Right. These are kids. Some of these kids have actually lost their lives on the job, too. So according to the Times, at least a dozen underage workers have been killed while on the job in the last six years, while others have been injured, including losing limbs and breaking their backs. So really serious injuries. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So now is this a new issue or just one that’s just getting attention now? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s not a new issue per se, but it is an issue that’s gotten a lot worse in recent years. And that’s because the number of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. has risen. It’s risen to about 130,000, which is a pretty drastic increase. For context, that’s three times what it was just five years ago. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And so who does The New York Times identify as, like the party responsible for, you know, overseeing all of this? 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s actually where I have a few questions about The New York Times angle on this. So they point out that these children are not kids who have, quote, “stolen into the country undetected” and that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services knows these kids are in the country. Right. Which is true. The department’s job is to connect these children with sponsors and ensure that they aren’t being trafficked or exploited in that process. But The New York Times seems to say it’s the department’s fault for not tracking these children long term. And I’m not clear that’s right or that we even want that because it’s not actually ideal for the department to track unaccompanied minors for years at a time or for like really extended amounts of time. Right. Because we know what can happen when that data gets in the wrong hands. Sometimes their sponsors are undocumented, for example, it’s easy to say we want Biden to keep an eye on all undocumented children in the U.S. But what about when another president is in the White House? Right. I mean, we’ve seen what happens when the anti-immigration presidents enter the White House, particularly the orange one it’s really ugly what happens when they have information about undocumented people. So when you have other presidents who like to harass undocumented people for political points like both the frontrunners for the Republican nomination right now or have a special affinity for family separation like both of the frontrunners for Republican nomination, like that’s not people that you want having long term data about undocumented children. So lots of people think like, oh, of course, the government should be tracking kids, but they don’t track all kids, right? They don’t track my kids, for example. They don’t call me to ask if my children are working at General Mills. The onus is supposed to be on General Mills to ensure that no children are working in their factories. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And so we have to make sure that when we are accounting for who’s at fault here, we look to the actual employers and make sure that they’re being held accountable. 


Tre’vell Anderson: All right. So how has the Biden administration responded to all of this, if at all? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So the Biden administration has said that the Department of Labor will investigate companies more aggressively who are accused of illegally employing children. Just kind of what we just said. Right? The Labor Department should be going after the companies here. It has also said that they will create a joint task force between the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services so that they share information more easily. We’ll see how all this works. This is a really big problem. It’s a hard problem to crack down on, but it’s been understood for years that the penalties for child labor violations are not high enough. They’re about $15,000 a violation. If you’re a big company, there’s really no incentive to crack down on this. But there’s also another problem, right? These kids work because they need the money, because they live in households that need money, because they are in economically precarious situations and they need the extra cash. And so the problem is even bigger than just child labor, just the Department of Labor, just the Department of Health and Human Services. This is a broader problem with our current immigration system, right? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thanks for that, Josie. Now on to our second story for the day. It’s an update on one we’ve been following for a little bit now, and that’s the assault on LGBTQ plus identities and culture happening across the country. We’re going to zero in today on the attack on drag. We briefly mentioned Tennessee’s House Bill nine late last week, which is the soon to be new law in the state banning public drag performances. Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee confirmed what everyone has expected up to this point, which is that he will sign the law when it reaches his desk. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. So Tennessee is a mess. Can you break it down for us? Like what’s in this bill? This seems bananas and it also seems like the logical end of the direction we’ve been heading for so long in this country. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. The writing has been on the wall, as they say. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So the legislation here, it bans, quote unquote, “adult oriented entertainment” that is quote unquote, “harmful to minors” from public property and places where the performers might be seen by children. The law specifically mentions Go-Go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, as well as male or female impersonators, which is to say drag entertainers. It would actually classify all of those folks as adult cabaret, which, to be clear, drag is not necessarily adult cabaret like– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, an adult cabaret performer can get up in drag. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But so much of the drag that we love and see out in culture is not of the adult cabaret variety. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Which they know. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. But they’re playing games with us. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And they’re just throwing out words. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Just doing what they can to make it make sense. But all of this is about restricting all forms of entertainment that appeals to prurient interest. That’s the word that I’ve been struggling with. But, you know, they’re basically saying, you know, anything sexual or hankie panky motivated–


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –or influenced– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –is what they’re saying. Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, the definition that they’ll be using of what, quote unquote, “harmful to minors” means is the state’s existing obscenity laws. But there’s a bit of disagreement afoot about how it will actually be enforced. A quick aside here, before House Bill nine became what it is now, it was Senate Bill three, which the Tennessee State Senate approved 26 to 6. All of the chamber’s Democrats opposed the measure, that happened earlier this year. But because it passed, it then went to the House where it transitioned. Ha ha ha. Into HB nine. And so the sponsor of the bill, when it was in the state Senate, has previously said that it would be up to local prosecutors to determine how exactly to apply this new law. But then you have folks like the bill’s sponsor in the House who is suggesting that all drag performance. Right. No matter your thoughts about it, that all drag performance should be considered inappropriate for minors and therefore all drag performance restricted. Now, under this law, a first violation would be a misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in prison and or a fine of up to $2500. Subsequent violations would be classified as a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. To put it in some realer terms, you know, this new law basically means not only no more drag queen story hours, right. But also, for example, no drag queens at Pride, which if you listen to our special episode from Pride last year about drag’s pivotal role in the foundation of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, all of this is really a wild idea. And if you’re out there and you didn’t listen to it, it’s fine. We’ll drop a link to it in our show notes so you can catch it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. It’s also just an assault on people’s right to free expression, right? I mean, it just is a violation across the board. To that point like what have drag performers in Tennessee been saying? Because this impedes their like ability to live, you know, their ability to, like, do their job, basically. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Well, there’s one video that has gone sort of viral that I want to play, and it’s a speech from drag Queen Bella da Ball. In case you didn’t get the reference like Belle of the Ball. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Oh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But Bella da Ball. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I like it. I like it. I can’t believe Tennessee wants to outlaw that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] They don’t like clever wordplay. 


Josie Duffy Rice: They don’t. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Ya know? Just a little too advanced for them. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughter] Anyway, so she was hosting a drag brunch late last week, and she did this little speech about all of this. It’s a little long of a clip, but I’m going to play the whole thing because of how well she lays out the stakes here. Take a listen. 


[clilp of Bella da Ball] If this law passes on April 1st, public drag will now be criminalized. I could go to jail for 15 years. For appearing outside in drag. [audience indistinct] They also seek to classify us as adult cabaret performers. So that means that we would have to get a stripping license. If you have one of those, you cannot also have an alcohol license. So our bar couldn’t even serve liquor anymore. This is an attempt to erase drag in Tennessee. This bill will further harm trans people who are literally just living their fucking lives. I need you to contact your house representative and tell them this will not stand. Tell them urge them to vote no. Because if they don’t, this will make public pride illegal this year. Now, if you don’t know, we’ve been having public drag in Tennessee for over 50 years and pride began to commemorate the events of Stonewall. Back in Stonewall, we weren’t allowed to do drag. It was criminalized. And so what happened when the cops came in and tried to beat us down? [audience responding indistinct] We picked up them bricks and sent em packing. [cheers] The original pride was a riot. And if this year, we need to remind them that we will fight for our liberation. [cheers and applause] [music swelling up] We will raise our bricks high again and let them know that we will not go quietly. I may need your help with legal fees because mama ain’t quitting. I’ll get arrested. I don’t care. Somebody’s got to be first. We’ll sue the state. But whatever happens, we are queer people. We are very strong. And we will rise. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s just so moving. It’s both amazing to hear the strength and the activism of people on the ground. And just a reminder that this shouldn’t be. Them risking being arrested, having to pay a fine and spending years in prison like it’s just crazy. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I get chills every time I listen to that video, that speech every single time. And one of the things I want to note that she mentions is that there’s a very real possibility that this law is used to further malign trans people who are not drag performers. Right? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Because these bills are often broadly worded. Their practical effects could include not just bans on drag performance, but on any public displays of gender non-conformity as well. So like, it has a potential to reach and impact so many more. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Then I think a lot of people are thinking about. And then there’s also another bill that passed the Tennessee House recently, HB one, which would ban transition related care for minors. Once signed into law, health care providers who are found guilty could be stripped of their license to practice medicine. The bill would also provide an avenue for patients who received transition related health care as minors to sue providers within 30 years after the patient turns 18. So, you know, the Tennessee state legislature is really showing their true colors in more ways than one. As I said on the show before, we are living through a targeted attack. During the 2023 legislative session alone, more than 30 drag bans have reportedly been introduced. The one in Tennessee is just the first one to pass. And all of this is in addition to the hundreds of other bills that we’ve seen introduced and passing that are otherwise trying to erase queer and trans people and our history. We should all be very clear, right, that none of this is about, quote unquote, “protecting children or women”, which is what they would like us to believe. So just stay engaged, folks, and pay attention to what’s going on. With that, we’re going to pay some bills and we’ll be back with headlines in a moment. [music break]. 




Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The United Kingdom finally announced an agreement with the European Union over some unfinished Brexit business. The deal is meant to simplify a very complicated situation over trade between the Republic of Ireland, which is still an EU member and Northern Ireland, which is a British province. The EU argued that without border checks, goods could pass through Northern Ireland as a sort of backdoor into Ireland and essentially into the European Union without getting taxed or cleared through customs. And the dispute isn’t just over trade. Critics feared the arrangement would lead to another hard border between the island’s north and south, which was finally demilitarized in 1998 after decades of sectarian violence. Lawmakers in Britain’s parliament are now reviewing the deal before they vote on it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, had sharp words for critics of his government’s move to shrink its independent election authority. Over the weekend, thousands of people gathered in Mexico City to protest the overhaul, which was approved by the country’s Congress last week. Among other things, it cuts funding, staffing and other resources for the National Electoral Institute or INE, as it is known locally. Political experts say it helped in one party rule over 20 years ago, and critics fear the new changes will threaten Mexico’s democracy, especially with a presidential election coming up next year. Lopez Obrador, however, has called the INE corrupt and inefficient and said anyone questioning the move is elitist. 


Josie Duffy Rice: More severe weather is battering the central states. Hurricane force winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes were reported across Oklahoma and Kansas, leaving at least a dozen people hurt in the Sooner State. Meanwhile, the storms are expected to shift north toward states like Illinois and Indiana. And Michigan, which hasn’t had a chance to thaw out since last week’s ice storm is bracing for another blast of frigid cold. As of Monday evening, residents in some parts of the state have gone five days without power. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I could barely survive the two hours of my power going out literally today. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Five days in freezing cold weather, too. It’s just unimaginable. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The White House has ordered all federal agencies to delete TikTok from government issued devices within the next 30 days. That’s according to a report from Reuters yesterday. It comes after more than half of all state governments have implemented similar bans on the Chinese owned video sharing app amid concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity. Also on Monday, Canadian officials announced a similar ban for all government issued devices. Just one week after its own federal watchdog launched a probe into whether TikTok abides by the country’s privacy laws. Two of the European Union’s top policymaking institutions have also banned the app for its employees phones and devices. 


Josie Duffy Rice: As long as Cirque du Soleil keeps its TikTok account. [laughter] I will not riot. It’s great on there, At Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, one film in particular seemed to be winning everything everywhere all at once. [laughter] Do you get it? The cast and crew of the A24 blockbuster took home the ceremony’s top awards, and some of them made history. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan became the first Asian actors to win best lead actress and best actor in a supporting role, respectively, for their performances. And the film also took home the ceremony’s top prize for Best Ensemble. I love that award, by the way. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Every award show should have best Ensemble, great award. And if that wasn’t enough, cast member and Hollywood veteran James Hong earned a standing ovation after he schooled the youth in his acceptance speech following the cast’s big win. Hong, who is 94, got his start in showbiz 70 years ago and described the racist environment he faced as an Asian-American actor. 


[clip of James Hong] Back in those days, I have to tell you this. Uh The Good earth, the leading role was played by these guys with their eyes taped up like this, and they talk a like this, because the producers said, the Asians were not good enough and they are not box office. But look at us now, huh? [applause and cheers]


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. What a great moment. The film’s wins of the top awards for acting, directing and producing bode well for its chances at the Oscars. It’s up for some of the most coveted awards, including Best Picture. Only one movie, 1995’s Apollo 13 has ever won the three SAG categories and not gone on to win Best Picture. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I would love for Everything Everywhere, All At Once to win. It’s a great movie. Ten out of ten. No, notes. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I thought it was great and I don’t remember Apollo 13. So.


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Amid all the drama of storm alerts and chemical spills and general political upheaval, we deserve something good every once in a while. The people at Calvin Klein understand this. And yesterday they delivered in the form of Michael B. Jordan, People’s 2020 Sexiest man alive as the face of their latest ploy to sell us their cotton underwear. This is, of course, a podcast so, you know, I’ll do my best to catch you up visually. Michael B. laying down sensually, Michael B. flexing [laughter] his big arms and Michael B kind of, but not really wearing a pair of jeans, you know, like in mid undress. Y’all know what I mean okay. Now, in case you’ve already done your own research on the Google images and thought if only there was a way to make these much, much larger, you’re in luck. Select images from the Calvin Klein ad campaign shot in a tasteful black and white by photographers Mert and Marcus for the spring and summer collection will be featured on billboards in New York and Los Angeles. And so you can pull over on the side of La Cienega Boulevard and just, you know, gaze at Michael B. Jordan as the afternoon just drifts away. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Drive over there in the L.A. rain. [laughter] Just look up. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know it’d be very peaceful. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A very meditative journey, perhaps. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Totally. Totally. He’s come a long way from the Wire, it must be said. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He has. He absolutely has. And we love a journey. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We love a journey. We do. We truly do. And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Book a trip for some casual billboard tourism, and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just the growing list of awards won by Everything Everywhere, All At Once like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] And keep Marjorie Taylor Greene out of CrossFit. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Look, it’s too much. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a lot because we already dislike her politics. And so, like, we’re going to hate anything else. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s just call it like it is. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true. She’s from my state. There’s too much of her in my life. I can’t watch her work out too. It’s too much. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.