Hold Your Light (with Van Lathan Jr.) | Crooked Media
SEE POD SAVE AMERICA, LOVETT OR LEAVE IT & STRICT SCRUTINY LIVE SEE POD SAVE AMERICA, LOVETT OR LEAVE IT & STRICT SCRUTINY LIVE
July 19, 2022
Pod Save The People
Hold Your Light (with Van Lathan Jr.)

In This Episode

DeRay, Myles, De’Ara and Kaya cover the underreported news of the week— including U.S. states charging families for foster care, an increasing amount of Democrats switching to Republican, D.C mayor clears up cryptic comment on her sexuality, and Macy Gray apologizes for anti-train comments. DeRay interviews author and producer Van Lathan Jr. about his new book Fat, Crazy, and Tired: Tales from the Trenches of Transformation. 

 

News: 

Myles https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2022/07/macy-gray-apologizes-anti-trans-comments-misunderstood-today-show-hoda-kotb-piers-morgan

Kaya https://abc11.com/democrats-switching-to-republican-registered-voters-midterm-elections-2022-republicans/11998169/ 

DeRay https://www.npr.org/2022/07/01/1107848270/foster-care-child-support 

De’Ara https://www.advocate.com/politics/2022/7/15/dc-mayor-bowser-not-closeted-lesbian-proud-straight-ally

https://www.them.us/story/jalen-mckee-rodriguez-became-texas-first-black-gay-lawmaker

 

 

Transcript

 

DeRay Mckesson: Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode, it’s me, De’Ara, Myles, and Kaya, talking about the un-reported news of the past week, the news that you should know with regard to race, justice, and equity but you probably don’t know from the past week because they weren’t big items on the mainstream media. And then I sat down and talked to author and producer Van continue to talk about his new book, “Fat, Crazy, and Tired: Tales from the Trenches of Transformation.” We talk about Van’s journey through authorship, healing, transformation, his work in the media. We’ve been friends for a while, but I had never talked to him as a author, and I learned a ton. So dope. Hope you’ll learn too. Here we go. And the advice this week is actually from our guest. “Hold your light” is the advice that he comes on–you’ll see, you’ll hear, you’ll listen. But that’s the advice for the week: Hold your light.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Family! Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I’m Da’Ara Balenger. You can find me on the Twitter and Instagram @dearabalenger.

 

Myles Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @Pharoahrapture.

 

Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson, on Twitter @ Hendersonkaya.

 

DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay at DIY on Twitter.

 

De’Ara Balenger: So there’s lots and lots and lots going on in the world and it actually was really hard for us to figure out what the banter was going to be for this episode. So we’re going to start with President Biden in Saudi Arabia. Also, he was in Israel. I think it was, now that COVID is lifting a lot of traveling is happening–I guess he’s been traveling. He’s been doing a lot of things in Europe, but I think this is the first time like, the Middle East situation has been happening. I mean, I’m going to recuse myself for commenting here since I’ve worked so closely with America’s national security advisor. Jake, you know, you’re doing what you can, man! You doing what you can. But, you know, it’s just interesting to see folks reaction. It’s also interesting to see that, again, the Democratic Party is never aligned, and so, you know, Biden is out there doing his thing, and you have, you know, Bernie Sanders, other kind of political leaders on the Democratic side, mostly disagreeing with tactics and interactions, and saying Biden is not being strong enough, yadda yadda yadda. So I think, mostly for me it’s just, one, it’s is so hard to focus on things that are happening globally–even though I know we absolutely should just given this country seems to be in absolute disrepair–but, you know, we’ll see. We’ll see where this foreign policy gets us. I think in terms of the smartest legal analysis, smartest political analysis I’ve seen is actually on the Shade Room, where a sister from I-don’t-know-where was talking about how the price of gas now costs more than a gallon of daiquiri. So I just feel like–

 

Myles Johnson: The math is mathing.

 

De’Ara Balenger: The math is mathing for me. I was like, you know what? That is, that’s crisis to me. So, you know, interested in what y’all have to say about these going ons. And if you want to talk about some other going ons, let’s get into that too.

 

Kaya Henderson: I mean, I think it’s interesting, right? To me, there’s like two big themes in this Biden trip to Saudi. The political, the alleged political purpose is to keep Russia on ice and to outmaneuver China by strengthening ties with the Middle East, brokering some stuff for Israel, and a few other things. But this is you know, this is some strategery, this is some diplomacy, this is some international relations. Right? And that’s what we do and that’s who we are and that is the game that needs to be played. But then there’s this deeply personal thing going on, especially, you know, I live in Washington, D.C. and Jamal Khashoggi was a reporter for The Post. And like, it is pretty undisputed by everybody except the Saudi crown prince that they put a hit on that cat and just straight-up killed him. And, you know, the question for us personally from a human rights perspective is like, can you be our friends if you out killing people like that? Right? And so I think for John Q Public, it’s a deeply tense conundrum because you would like to think as an American citizen that, you know, if some foreign power took you out, that this country would do something about it. And the reality is there is a greater political calculus that has to be made, and sometimes that runs afoul of our values around human rights and safety and that kind of a thing. And so I think this is why it’s such a big thing, right? People are angry about the fact that he fist-bumped this cat, and, you know, this is the the dude who ordered the hit, is what, you know, by all accounts. And so, you know, and you know, Iran and nuclear weapons and blah, blah, blah. These people are in there talking about serious stuff and so I don’t know how to feel about it because on the one hand, I understand the diplomacy piece. And on the other hand, I deeply, deeply feel the personal thing.

 

Myles Johnson: Now that I’ve concluded Ryan Murphy’s Impeachment, I officially feel like an expert in all things presidential so I’m speaking of a place of expertise and deep wisdom.

 

Kaya Henderson: Do Tell. Do tell.

 

Myles Johnson: But the one thing that I think that we forget because of how presidents get the presidency, is that the president is not our friend and has more in common with a global war criminal who’s a dictator, than they do with you. That’s just the, that’s just the fact of the nature. And I think that sometimes–

 

Kaya Henderson: Ouch! Ouch!

 

Myles Johnson: I just think, Children are in cages, the people have the monkeypox, people have the Oh-oh Ah-ahs. I’m not–come on. We gotta be real about what’s going on. But yeah. And I think that sometimes there are these moments of symbolism, of fist bumping, of friendship and friendliness that reminds people that this is not, the presidency is not a acquisition of friendship, it’s a acquisition of power. And you’ll do whatever it takes to be able to maintain that, and I think, yes, it could be disturbing, but what goes on is disturbing. And I think that when you kind of remember that and then you see what’s happening in this land, in power struggles, and how can we can’t get things moving? It’s like, Oh, this is not about what they ran on to make you vote for them. This is about maintaining global power and dominance. Thank you, Ryan Murphy.

 

DeRay Mckesson: What I will say is that it is really interesting too, to think about Biden’s response to the criticism is, you know, fist bump happens, he’s talking to the guy who definitely killed the journalist at the Washington Post, and the response is, Y’all should talk about something that matters. Like, I don’t want to hear this, talk about something–and you’re like, that’s not a good response, right? In the White House, even with even with abortion, sort of dismissing the people in line and da da da as like we’re not going to be beholden to the activists. And you’re like, also wrong. That’s wrong, right? Public opinion shifts, and the more and more that people realize the scope and the intensity of what the repeal of Roe v. Wade meant that wasn’t only abortion, people going to be pissed. When people like start to realize what that fist bump meant–you know, like even my aunt, who, like, isn’t paying attention to international politics is like, Well, they killed the guy, and then he’s–? Like, it just doesn’t make sense. And your response can’t be, you know, Talk about something that matters. It’s like that dismissiveness is what’s going to get people, going to keep people at home when you’re begging them to come to the polls. And that to me is just, it’s like the party just won’t learn. And a reminder why we can’t keep electing 90-year olds. Like we just, that just, we got to figure out some way to make sure that the presidency is not a cavalcade of the elderly.

 

Myles Johnson: You said a what about the elderly?

 

Kaya Henderson: A cavalcade of the elderly.

 

Myles Johnson: I said, Okay, MC DeRay. Okay. I heard that.

 

Kaya Henderson: Yes, yes, yes.

 

De’Ara Balenger: But speaking of that, he did an op-ed in The Washington Post July 9th about why he’s going to Saudi Arabia. I mean read through it. It’s pretty boring, I’ve just been scrolling through it. But it’s like all of the things: we did this, we did that, we’re trying to do this, we’re trying to do that . . .  in Israel, in Saudi Arabia, blah, blah, blah. “I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia. My views on human rights are clear and longstanding and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and in the West Bank.” Groundbreaking.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Whomp whomp.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. And then even what you were saying and I think also Biden was obviously–Biden is pretty conservative, like as far as, like what new generations want. Like, and he was the bridge between Trump and getting out of Trump. He was not like the star Democratic choice of like, oh, this is what’s going to get all these like like left-leaning ideas straight. It was like, okay, how do we break out of this and get people who are rocking in the middle of this new world and this old world, how do we get them to kind of like shift over a little bit so we don’t end up with another era of Trump. But he, he’s a typical, very business as usual.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Yeah but and it’s also just like the complexities around the primaries and like, you know, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, folks that are quote unquote, “more progressive” what ends up happening is they’re so uncompromising on things that they’re like, We can only raise money in this way, we can only do this in this way, we can only partner with these people, we can only do these things–and they end up losing. So I think it’s part where with Biden–yes, because of it’s an easier transition to your point–but we’re also with Biden because we have a party that is so dysfunctional and so worried about their own.

 

Myles Johnson: But do you think that like, so for instance, the same reason why Trump won’t ever, specifically losing the presidency after January 6th happened, how he would never just say–was that, that wasn’t January 6th, there’s been so many white supremacist attacks–

 

De’Ara Balenger: So many.

 

Myles Johnson: Whenever he said there was good people, good people on both sides. That one. Charleston. Charlottesville. But how he would never just go out and denounce something, do you think the same thing is happening with the Democratic Party in the sense that, oh, I cannot abandon my base right now because the people who are supporting Warren and Sanders want to see such specific things, and if I actually do something that compromises their faith in me, that I might be giving up the little support that I have. Is that what’s going on?

 

De’Ara Balenger: I think it’s the larger I think one, it’s, you know, the Democratic Party hires the same consultants. They hire the same, I mean it’s the same, the same, the same, the same, the same, right? So I think partly it’s like there’s a group of folks who are deciding how we run campaigns, right, on the Senate level, on the congressional level, on the national level–they’re deciding how we run campaigns with, but these are people who actually have no cultural competency whatsoever. Cultural competency in terms of what people want to absorb and how they absorb it, like people that are like living in the real world with others who are diverse, but other cultural [unclear] in terms of there’s so much bias in the Democratic Party that, I mean, let’s look at Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi. Why? How long? How long are you going to do this for?

 

Kaya Henderson: But this is this is the thing, right? Times have changed. And so our old leadership paradigms don’t work. Our old strategies don’t work. Our old playbooks don’t work.

 

De’Ara Balenger: That’s right.

 

Kaya Henderson: And the Democratic Party has failed to change with the times. And so, you know, we’re seeing that in droves. David Gergen has a book out about, you know, this is my thing. I’ve been on this for a while about what kind of country are we if all we have to offer are the old people? And I say to as an emerging older person, but it is a sign of a healthy country when, you know, there are young people who are leading. And this is why DeSantis is very scary. But Gergen basically says, he goes back to things like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps and the Tennessee Valley Association, all of these like national service programs, because they cultivate leadership in young people. And many of those young people then went on to become some of our greatest leaders, our greatest leaders across the country. And I think that this is a huge problem for the Democrats. I mean, just like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden–like the average age has to be like 205!–and I understand how the math works, it was just a joke. But, I mean, but I’m saying, like, this is, where’s our, you know, John F Kennedy was 45 or something when he became president and represented fresh, new ideas and new ways of thinking. You know, where is our–

 

De’Ara Balenger: Barack Obama had ran his campaign completely outside of the Democratic Party, because he was like that shit don’t work. I’m not doing it.

 

Kaya Henderson: Yep.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Now, it kind of messed us up because now we you know, the Democratic Party got even weaker. But I think that’s a real thing. And we’ve heard stories about this, too, where folks have to run as Republicans because the Democrats are so establishment they can’t, you can’t even get new blood in there to run.

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah, I definitely think that part of it is just like them being traditionalist and institutionalist. That makes sense to me. But also like I wonder, so like when you–this, I’m connecting like two different ideas–but like when somebody has a eating disorder, like a big part of that is like, a lot of people who have eating disorders will also suffer from body dysmorphia–meaning that what they see is different than what other people are seeing or what’s actually reality. I wonder when I think about Nancy Pelosi and even Hillary Clinton in the eras that they ran in, or even Bernie Sanders, where just the idea of him walking or doing or folding a certain way or walking with civil rights leader was seen as a radical because of his ideas, or Nancy Pelosi going from a, you know, housewife of five to political leader and speaker of the House–if all these things were happening and that was seen as political, I wonder if there’s a little bit of dysmorphia where they actually see themselves as more progressive and more left-leaning than they actually are, because they’re still remembering a mirror that was reflecting them, the radical of their time, and not the left of today.

 

Kaya Henderson: That’s generous. That’s generous. It could also just be retention of power, pure and simple.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Period. Period.

 

Myles Johnson: Listen.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Myles really was going to try and he-that, Myles, that was nice. That was nice.

 

Kaya Henderson: I loved it. It was very, there was a generosity of spirit there that was beautiful.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Very very kind.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Yeah, I do, I will say, Myles, in that vein, I think about like one of the reasons why I’m a little light on Obama is I’ll tell you, being in those meetings with him, people were real chill on Obama. He could reasonably say people weren’t yelling at him, people want telling him that he was wrong. Like I sat in the room and the oldest civil rights people just said Thank you. They were like, Thank you for being here, da, da, da. –they were not pressing that man. They were not. And I do think there’s something about like who are, who is getting in the room with some of these people and just saying, like, This is wrong, like this just isn’t right. And I think, my experience in D.C. and I’m open to being wrong, is that it’s a lot of people who, like, don’t disagree because that doesn’t help their career. So the activists become, like we become the crazy people being like, That’s wrong. But you’re like, everybody knew that didn’t make sense. Like everybody in this room knew it didn’t make sense, but we’re the only people actually saying it out loud. The career people are like, you know, slow tailing it, and da, da, da, da. And I think that that does have an effect.

 

Kaya Henderson: Well, the people are voting with their feet, because in my news, more than a million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year. This is a phenomenon that is being played out in nearly every region of the country, and it has all happened since Mr. Biden replaced Mr. Trump. The shift is most profound and most dangerous for the Democrats in suburban areas, but this is happening in cities and towns, in urban, suburban, rural. It’s all over the place. The reason why the suburbs are so critical is because the suburban vote are the people who created the bridge from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden. And those people are not with it anymore. And that, a lot of people talk about this being a rejection of the left–not even really an embracing of the right, just a rejection of the the left because of things like mandatory COVID vaccines and the increasing levels of crime and the focus on racial justice. Now, this doesn’t ensure that Republicans are going to win everything during the midterms, but it’s a huge warning to Democrats. I want to read you two paragraphs. “Roughly four months before Election Day, Democrats have no clear strategy to address Biden’s weak popularity, and voters overwhelming fear that the country is headed in the wrong direction with this party in charge. And while Republicans have offered few policy solutions of their own, the GOP has been working effectively to capitalize on the Democrats’ shortcomings.” So important point, right? It’s not like the GOP is offering a compelling policy platform to people. The Democrats are doing this to themselves. In fact, Ronna McDaniel, who is the Chair of the Republican National Committee, says, and I quote, “Biden and the Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that’s why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves.” She predicted that American suburbs will trend red for cycles to come because of Biden’s gas hike, the open border crisis, baby formula shortage, and rising crime. The Democratic National Committee declined to comment when asked about the recent surge in voters switching to the GOP. Y’all what?! What? I mean, what else? What else is there? What else is there to say? I mean, so alarming, so crazy. This is like pure, plain data that the AP collected from, you know, voter registration rolls all across the country and the Dem, and the Republicans are like, um um um, they ain’t crap. Not we are. Just they ain’t. And the Democrats have a “no comment.” My heart goes out to my organizing friends, my get-out-the-vote friends, my people who are registering people to vote because that’s where the real work happens. We look at what happened in Arizona. We look at what happened in Georgia. And that wasn’t because we had all these amazing people in the DNC who were doing what they needed to do. It was because grassroots organizers, regular people who were concerned about their state, got out and did the stuff. And I know those people are like, God dog, I went out here and got all of these people to vote and now the party writ large is making that untenable moving forward. And so, you know, just continuing on the theme of not meeting, the Democratic Party not meeting the moment, we in some real trouble friends.

 

Myles Johnson: I’m never, I wasn’t that surprised by this article and I’m never surprised about what is going, like what is going on with America specifically when it comes to voting conservative. I do think–so again, intellectual empathy is my superpower so I try to put myself on it. I’m like if I’m somewhere in the suburbs with 2.5 children and a spouse and wanting to live this suburban, this suburban life, and all I see is, you know, bathrooms changing and people protesting and somebody making me do things and all these other things, and the only but–then on the other hand, we have Donald Trump, who is so like–this kind of new party that Donald Trump created inside of the Republican Party, then I think it makes sense that now that Biden’s in office and things kind of feel a smidge more settled in certain ways, that I think that you wouldn’t necessarily relate what Trump is doing to the Republican Party. And I do think, from what I’ve heard from just Republican pundits and conservative pundits, that this separation of, Oh this is Trump’s party and this is the real Republican Party–I think that, those ethos have been spreading and I think it’s been working. I think a lot of people are wanting to take the Republican Party back and wanting something that isn’t as extreme and as ostracized as what Trump is doing, but still want a more conservative America, an America that is, that moved slower than I think, you know, all the things you just named–I’m thinking about, like racial justice and the trans conversation and COVID and all those other things I think kind of like trigger the conservative voter. It makes, it make sense to me. Do y’all that it’s going to work. What’s going to happen?

 

DeRay Mckesson: See, I don’t even know if it’s like a rejection of the left as much as it’s like a lot of people I know who are disillusioned are like, you know what, it’s not guarantee we’ll win, but at least fight like hell on the way down. And it feels like the left is just not even fighting. So like when AOC got heckled by that racist white guy on the steps of the Capitol and she tweeted, I went over to go deck him, but I needed to catch a vote more than catch a case, you like, Bars. And like, at this point what can you lose? They were going to storm the Capitol and kill you. What could you lose by fighting the man!? You know, like–and instead of Roe v. Wade gets undone, and what do the Dem leadership do? They’re singing Kum Ba Ya on the stairs. You’re like, Is this, this is wild. That is crazy. So I do think that, I don’t think that we’ve even made a good case for why they should stay over here. Because it’s not, we can’t even say we fighting for you. We not. We are slow rolling it. We have meetings, da, da, da. The other side is fighting us tooth and nail and we are just like, Hey, guys, we’re coming to work today. You’re like, We are going to la, la, la into no world. We are not going to be here. It’s not going to be nothing to fight for soon enough.

 

Myles Johnson: Do you think the average American, specifically suburban voter, sees the people who participate in insurrection as Republicans?

 

DeRay Mckesson: I get what you’re saying about like some of the, you think some of them that like Trump and the party two different things. Yes, I do think they see them as Republicans, and I think that they see the silence of the Republican Party condemning them. I think that Liz Cheney’s probably helping out the Republicans the most because she is both being a bad ass on that committee, and she is a Republican. She’s like a card-carrying Republican. And I think that she is probably doing what, I think she is both helping us get those people out of here, but I do think that she is normalizing this idea that, like, they are real Republicans and you should join us, and then there are the wild Trump people.

 

De’Ara Balenger: I found a Pew study that says, “The United States stands out among 17 advanced economies as one of the most conflicted when it comes to questions of social unity.” This article goes on to talk about both political conflict, but race conflict, conflict in a very local level in communities. So I don’t know. I mean, just to a point Kaya made before, it’s like, what kind of country are we? And I think we now have generations of generations who literally have it in their bones and molecules that this was a country that was founded on stolen land. Those, the descendants of those folks are now probably the most vulnerable population in the United States, maybe globally. We are still reeling from the legacies of slavery. I mean, we are, we’re, if you think about it, we are a country that was founded on conflict. Right? Part of our culture is conflict. I mean, anybody, and also just be like just on a very anecdotal level, like the number of interactions I have with people just get really upset over nothing all the time. “You got in front of me in line!” What? Okay. All right, everybody. So, I mean, all that to say, I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think I’m more and more beginning to understand that, like, we have work to do when it comes to just social unity within our own communities, within other communities, within all of it. Because I think that’s why people are switching over, right? Because they’re just like, Oh, I’m not, those people aren’t supporting me, they have nothing to do with me. So I’m going to go over here. Okay.

 

Myles Johnson: I think the United States has an implicit, I think we just all see the United States and we think there’s a period at the end. And I think where, we seeing the question mark.

 

De’Ara Balenger: There you go. That’s exactly right.

 

Myles Johnson: My news is sad. So, you know, I love a good mini story before I totally read somebody’s [unclear], is I really really love–okay, I’m in middle school. I’m listening. I’m a weird, artsy, Black, queer kid. I’m listening to N.E.R.D. I’m listening to Kalise. I’m listening to Andrew 3000. I’m listening to [unclear] was a little bit later, but still you get where I’m going with this. And another person I’m listening to is Macy Gray. Macy Gray was one of those people because of her voice, because of the type of music she participated in, was really, I felt I found like a hero in somebody who was able to be weird, Black, and popular. There’s no other–my Black queer American dream was wow, you could be Black, weird, and popular all at the same time. I did not see that proof in my reality at the time in middle school. So the idea that I can grow up and that can happen, was what was amazing to me. And then also the music was just really good, really different. And it breaks my heart that yet again, I’m listening to somebody talk and I’m like, When did this happen? When did the regression happen?. Macy Gray was on Piers Morgan–who I don’t even know how has a whos still–went on Piers Morgan and decided to not promote the album, not do anything else, she said, you know, you know what the you know what the people need to hear me talk about? Trans issues and trans identity. She goes to say, “I will say this and everyone’s going to hate me”–that part, that comma is usually what you should not talk. “I will say this and everyone’s going to hate me, but as a woman, just because you go change your body parts doesn’t make you a woman. Sorry.” Grays said that while supports trans rights, she draws the line at athletic competition. She added, “If you want me to call you a her, I will, because that’s what you want, but that doesn’t make you a woman just because I call you a her and just because you got to surgery. A woman goes through a completely unique experience, and surgery and finding yourself doesn’t change that. Being a little girl is whole epic book, you know, you can’t have just–you can’t have just because you want to be a woman.” I think what really makes me sad about this is because I do think that when it comes to cis Black women and trans non-binary trans women, this whole gender conversation, I think there’s so much bridging that can happen because I think cis Black woman have been stripped of gender, humanity, and and I think the trans conversation can really speak to advocating for all Black people when it comes to just human rights, and what does it mean to be a human in America when we came here, stripped of gender and inhumanity? I think that is such a missed opportunity just to equal your womanhood to the parts that you have, or to say womanhood and childhood and girlhood only happens in one way. I think the more diverse we come and the more diverse we think about womanhood in gender and how we arrive at gender or non-gender or whatever, I think the more we will start to see that the scam of the binary is really this patriarchal white supremacist thing that being superimposed on us, that Black people, naturally, in my opinion, don’t fit. It’s not in our history, it’s not in our bloodlines, not in our spirit lives. And I think the more we have these conversations, the more will arrive that like, Wait there’s actually this kinship in thought, even if we don’t have this kinship in experience. It makes me sad that somebody like Macy Gray, who to me is is already seen as an outcast and as this kind of like thought and creative rebel, couldn’t just read a book or have a conversation first. I think the biggest thing that I have is that like women, men don’t own gender, cis people do not own gender. So again, I think that’s hard to think about when we are kind of socialized to think the opposite. But it’s like, No, femininity is not owned by cis women, and that that’s a huge thing. And then the other thing that just bothers me the most about this conversation is how this climate of expressing opinion, expressing thought, and not wanting to be challenged first. Look, I just don’t understand why people get these opinions and then just arrive at “I’m on Piers Morgan telling it.” Like, where’s the bridge? The first thing that happens when DeRay has an opinion or if I have something, DeRay will call me and work it out. And I’ll tell you, I don’t believe that. And DeRay still might go and say what he thinks it’s true, or I’ll still write what I wanted to write or express what I want to express–but this resistance to have your thoughts challenged and expand upon before you just give it to the world, I really believe needs to stop. This make me sad. You know, I had to listen to Lizzo’s to music on super max just to wash out all the hatred. You know how to listen to the music of love. Hey, Lizzo. To wash it all out. And I just want to see what y’all’s opinions on it is, specifically because I don’t know. I feel like it’s generational. I feel like it’s racial. Like I wanted to know what y’all’s opinion of what she said besides it just like not being good and I’m sure y’all don’t agree, but just what do you think is happening? Like, what can we do to fix this, bridge this gap?

 

Kaya Henderson: I have a technical question, it is just a technical question, because I thought she said exactly what you said on Piers Morgan, but then she went on the Today show and was like, My bad. I, it’s like I messed this up. And she says, you know, “I’ve learned a lot through this. It was a huge learning experience for me. You can call yourself whoever you believe you are and nobody can dictate that for you or take that away from you. Being a woman is a vibe and it’s something I’m very proud of and something that’s very precious to me. I think that if you in your heart feel that that’s what you are, then that’s what you are, regardless of what anybody says or thinks. I’ve learned a lot and I’m glad I did, because now I know.” So I thought she said the bad stuff and then came back and said–

 

Myles Johnson: The reason I still brought this in because she just reiterated what she said with Piers Morgan. She said the same thing that I just quoted. If you see it side by side, those are the same ideas. So, the —

 

Kaya Henderson: So it was a fake apology and I fell for it?

 

Myles Johnson: I don’t want to call it fake, but I’m like, you never, in the first original statement that got you blasted, you had said those words that your like, I’ll call you what you want to be called, you can identify with what you want to be identified with, but you barred womenhood away from it in saying that but actually, just because you do this, you’re not a woman. And then because everything was going on, you reiterated, and just said, I learned a lot. You didn’t actually express what you learned.

 

Kaya Henderson: I see.

 

Myles Johnson: And I still and I intrinsically believe that in your head you’re still saying, you know what, if people want to take these, do these surgeries and take these hormones and be called a woman, whatever. You know? And I think that the gap to me is to actually extend some, like to really have a conversation about gender among Black people and also among people who arrive at womanhood or femininity in different ways. And to really have that conversation and really get some understanding, and not just be scared away or wrap it in language. Does that make sense?

 

DeRay Mckesson: I also think that, you know, this is a conversation that I’ve had with a lot of people, and they are they do have a lot of questions. And like people are trying to work through ideas. All those things are real. And that’s just not what Macy Gray did. You know? It’s like, part of the work is to, like, be like, Oh I think this, does that makes sense? Da, da, da, da. Let me read, da, da, da. And we won’t always agree. That doesn’t mean that you’ll end up where we might like you to end up, but at least going through the process actually says like I had a thoughtful conversation about how a whole set of people live in the world, as opposed to sort of this idea that just says because I like had this random thought, I suddenly am an authority on it. And on a platform of a guy who doesn’t give two rats behinds about you or anybody. Like it’s not like you did this with Oprah who like does actually care and da, da. You did this on a platform who, he’s using you at best. You know? It was like that just didn’t work, which is why it makes sense to me that she would go on like somewhere else and do the apology. Because like, they actually do, they care about you. They like want you to be a whole person when you leave their platform and that whole thing. So I think I was just, I think I’m sort of shocked that this continues to happen. Not that people disagree about things–I’m not shocked about that. We’ll live in that. But like the lack of thought that people put into these questions of identity and the lack of nuance in sort of understanding, always surprises me.

 

De’Ara Balenger: I just smiled again. It’s a testament to your kindness. Because who? Huh? Sis, you all right?

 

Kaya Henderson: Welcome, petty Betty. Welcome.

 

De’Ara Balenger: I felt about Macy Gray in the same way I felt about Whitney. Like, who is watching her? Who watching her? So again, Myles, you are just so, you’re just so wonderful and so precious, to really think that this woman is just in a consciousness where–I’m gonna leave it there. I’m gonna leave it there. Petty Patty, don’t want to get in trouble. Adding her to the prayer list.

 

Kaya Henderson: I love it.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Adding her to the prayer list.

 

Myles Johnson: Listen, I think we all deserve–I love Black people and I love Black artists and I love Black folks who are not artists. And in my head, if I’m thinking about radical love, right, and I’m reading my bell hooks and my Martin Luther King, I’m like, just because you got a little crack-cocaine filter over what you’re saying doesn’t mean I should not extend my empathy to, you know? I want, I want you, I want us all to be free.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Nope!

 

Kaya Henderson: Myles, I actually, but Myles, I think that’s the most important thing that you said in this, right? I feel like there are two camps of I’m okay with this, right? One is–or maybe there are two sort of perspectives that I think are very interesting. One is kind of live and let live, right? Like, I don’t care what you are. Do you. I want you to be happy. I want you to be whoever you are, right? And what you introduced is something further, which is, it’s not just live and let live–it is extend grace and empathy to somebody who might be different from you, and that calls us to a higher level of love than just live and let live. And I think we’re comfortable in the live and let live space. You can be whoever you want to, right? That’s cool. But extending grace and real empathy means creating space for people in your world. It means going out of your way to do things that you might not otherwise do for people who are different than you. And that is what radical love is. That is what being an ally is. That is what is different. So I think what you are, the big point to me that you elevate is like, live and let live is not enough. It’s basic.

 

Myles Johnson: It’s specifically when you’re somebody like my Auntie Kaya or Macy Gray, where–

 

Kaya Henderson: Wait, wait, wait! Wait a minute. Hold it, hold it!

 

Myles Johnson: But what I’m saying is somebody who is not bigoted. Who is not, like just saying just wild stuff, you’re like, oh, that’s a goner, you know, that’s somebody who’s never going to have. And then also, I think that, I know when I would talk to cis Black men, cis het Black men, and really have them have the best enlightenment around homophobia was when they actually thought through how homophobia arrived in their cis-het life, and how certain words in certain abuses were done to them and how homophobia has arrived with them even though they don’t have the sexual desires. And my bigger thing is, wait, if you’re not bigoted, if we’re not separated by just like blind hatred, then maybe the next level to me would be for you to see how transphobia as a cis Black woman has also arrived in your life and has also arrived in how you move and what you’ve been able to do and how you’ve been perceived, you know? And then it no longer becomes live and let live, I’m gonna let y’all do y’all or whatever, then you truly become an advocate, you truly become an ally because you understand that this hatred also arrives in your life, even if you’re not assumed the identity that is like the billboard for this hatred. I was just joking about the crack cocaine filter. Sometimes–

 

De’Ara Balenger: I mean, were you? Were you?

 

DeRay Mckesson: The way you just delivered it was so great, though.

 

Myles Johnson: That’s what gets me in trouble. My wit.

 

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

 

[ad break]

 

De’Ara Balenger: I realize that the older I get, the more unhinged my comments are. I feel a lot of similarity to Macy Gray. I really–I don’t say bigoted crazy stuff. For me, it’s more just light who–Kaya were having this little banter earlier–who, people did that person come from? But anyways, I’m going to get into my news. It is, I don’t know if y’all saw it, but it was this week. Mayor Muriel Bowser was at an LGBTQ event. So basically what happened was she was making a speech, giving some remarks, and then at the end, press were asking her questions. And this person who identified as an activist said, You’ve done a lot for the LGBT community, very appreciative of that. It’s amazing. Now, there’s a lot of rumors about you being a lesbian. What was going on with that? And are you a lesbian? And so Muriel Bowser replies, Well, I’m not in the closet. And then the crowd’s like, Ooh, oh, Okay. Because it’s, you know, again, I think everyone was trying to get down to get to the bottom of that rumor, right, and what the truth is there–now, okay. Well, then let me continue with the story. And then so the way her comment was, the way her response was received by so many was that, Oh, she has come out, like she is the lesbian. A day later, her office puts out a statement that’s basically like, I am straight. Okay. Now, so many things here. One, the first thing is, how dare you, whoever you are, ask this woman that question? That ain’t none of your business. Not your business. None of your business. And I just feel like–

 

Kaya Henderson: And you would never ask a man that.

 

De’Ara Balenger: You would never ask a man. You never.

 

Kaya Henderson: You’d never ask a white woman. You wouldn’t, I mean–.

 

De’Ara Balenger: That is the mayor of Washington DC. Get out. Get out of here. So I think my first reaction was that, right? Like just all of that. Then once I got through my upset and my trauma and started to think about it with more of a shade rolling, I’m like, Well, what is going on? And I’ll leave it there, you know, because again, that’s how business, but I am on my own time trying to figure out, do I invite her to my events? Do I, like what, is she on my team or, what? [laughter]

 

DeRay Mckesson: De’Ara.

 

De’Ara Balenger: Listen, we will welcome, we will welcome you. We will welcome you. We are welcoming people, lesbians, and you can find us. So that’s all I’m saying. So I’m gonna leave it there. I don’t want to get into any trouble. Imma leave it there. That’s all I got to say.

 

Myles Johnson: And again, as I’m saying people probably still work out their thoughts, you know, among friends before giving them to the world, I’m about to totally provide an unworked out thought, so.

 

Kaya Henderson: You’re among friends, We’re working it out right here, together. It’s okay.

 

Myles Johnson: Right. So the part about so, I do think that coming out–this is, and I have to be honest about having to extend a lot of, like again, that intellectual empathy to this because I was always perceived as a queer thing in the world, because of my femininity, because of how I arrived, because of gender expression, I never had like, a closet. I was always like, I’m like, um yeah. And then me defining that has been a journey of me like accepting trans and non-binary and certain sexual, all these different stuff that has, I’ve been clear about my definition, but everybody has always been able to look at me and say, that tink has some Sweet ‘n Low in it. So I think that the violence of outing somebody, I had to really mature into and understand and now I totally understand it. But my other thing–and that’s a full sentence, right? So you are wrong, full sentence. Got it. However, I also think to myself isn’t a part of being a public politician selling family, selling your life, and even when you think about the highest political, when you think about the presidency, your whole family’s in this White House, and isn’t that like a part of the game that you’re playing? So is it, isn’t it weird to try to be mysterious about that? Isn’t it weird to try to–I don’t know. Like, I totally understand the outrage. But then I also just think, isn’t this a part of the game that you entered?

 

DeRay Mckesson: I don’t have much, I don’t have much to add. I do agree with what has been said is that they wouldn’t have asked this question of a whole host of other people, and especially post-Trump people are saying whatever they want at these things. When she said, I’m not in the closet, I was like, Oh, got it. Okay, cool. Like, there are other ways to answer that question, but she said it this way and I was like, Okay, got it. And then the statement actually just confused it. I was like, I don’t know what’s going on. I was like, let me just go back to what I was doing. I don’t really understand what’s happening right here, let me just go back to what I was doing and keep it moving.

 

De’Ara Balenger: But I think Myles, to your point, I think this is, like we think about Queer folks of color in office, right? Like, what was his name? He’s the first Queer Black man in Congress now, he’s from New York. I’m forgetting his name. I’m forgetting his name because I ain’t followed him on Twitter after he’s doing some Israeli stuff online. No, no, no. Ritchie, Ritchie Torres. Ritchie Torres, right? So it’s wild that just, what, a couple of years ago that was like our first out Queer, you know, Black-identifying person in Congress. Right? So and I think when we start to think about the Black community, and all of the issues and challenges we face around accepting everyone, I think that, Myles, because I think it’s a conversation around can our people not, can our folks when they run for office, not be who they are? Right? We look at Andrew Gillum. It’s another example of like, you know, he is from a very conservative part of Florida, and went to, you know, went to [unclear], a school that I love, but not necessarily a school that was going to be in the ’90s ppen to his queerness, you know what I mean? So I feel like, I think you’re definitely on to something in terms of can you know, can black leaders be their full selves, if part of that identity is anything other than being hetero, You know? so I think that ,I hadn’t even thought about that, but I think that is kind of that’s where my mind is going now. And that is really, wow.

 

Myles Johnson: Yeah. Let’s talk about the pursuit of power and just how so much of that is it about marketing your personal life, and here is this idealistic–because even the other, the, he’s a white gay man but he ran for president–child, y’all know who I’m talking about?

 

Kaya Henderson: Pete Buttigieg.

 

Myles Johnson: Yes. Yes. When he came, even, he had to figure out a way to present his personal life in a way that could get him to get power. And I think that, like, it’s just weird just to keep that a secret when so much of, you know, being a politician is about marketing that, and showing that, and showing that your politics and what you’re doing at your job and what you do at home align, and it’s about kind of making it make sense. So I totally understand the outrage and agree with it.

 

Kaya Henderson: But that’s the thing that I think makes this difficult, right? Because as a former public figure, right, the reason that I did not want to be a public figure is because I wanted to maintain some semblance of a personal life, that everything is not for everybody, that I get to keep some things to myself. And I think as a person, politics will eat your whole entire soul if you don’t maintain something for yourself, your family, your friends, your relationship, your kids, your something. This is why we say kids are off limits in politics or, you know, people who didn’t sign up, your neighbors! My neighbors took heat for stuff that I was doing at work that didn’t have anything to do with them. Right? And I think there’s a question for me about public service–these are people who have committed to, you know, serving the public and does that mean that you get all the me? You get to eat me up, say anything, do anything, act any kind of way? And I understand the alignment thing, right? Because what the reporter asked her was he said, you know, You’ve been an ally of the LGBTQ community, but we don’t know if we can trust you because we have heard that you’re a closeted lesbian. Right? And as inappropriate as that was, people want to trust people. People want to trust their politicians. People want to know that their politicians are like them and whatnot. And I don’t know how to work out this conundrum because, like, these are real people. These are not you know, these are not, like, I don’t know, artificially-made whatever. Like, and, you know, I don’t agree with everything that Mayor Bowser does or says or whatever, but I think that, I wonder how we have real people who stay connected to real people serving in public service when we feel like we’re able to consume them fully. I don’t know how those two fit things together.

 

Myles Johnson: I just don’t necessarily buy that who you’re married to, who you’re dating is consuming you fully, specifically when it seems to be so baked in to that particular path. Like your family goes and lives in a place, you, the wife or spouse is kissing babies. You are showing how–like this is a part of that package. So I do think that–

 

Kaya Henderson: But that’s not a part of her package. Right? That’s not a part, because you choose what package you send out. And for a lot of people, like when they make the decision to become public, they have to ask their husband or wife, are you, or a partner or a spouse or whoever, are you willing to do this with me? And some say yes and some say no. There are politicians who we don’t all jack about their families because the spouse didn’t sign up for that. And I think people get to present themselves in whatever ways they want to. She has presented herself as a mother, as a single woman, and she never talked about what her–she was dating at one point. Now she’s not. Like, you know, I don’t, I think if you come out with the like, here’s who I am, I’m a family woman, I’m a this, that and the other, then maybe so. But do we have to, do you have to present, like do you get to present your version of yourself, or do people get to define you because that’s what other politicians do?

 

Myles Johnson: I’m all for people, um, I want to know less and less about people. I want that to be normalized. So nothing makes me happier than the idea of knowing less and less about people who just do their job, create their art, do what they’re good at in the politics, and us really do that. But I guess I was just thinking from my point of view that it just seems like such a part of gaining power and advancing, and politics is a part, is also kind of figuring out a way to market your personal life and to be able to curate it–and I’m sure still keep things to yourself–but then also be able to, like, market it so people can feel like they know you ,and that you’re a good leader. So I was just thinking that–

 

Kaya Henderson: That’s the, that’s the conundrum.

 

De’Ara Balenger: And I think the other through-line thought, what I’m thinking about though is like also her having the space to be able to choose. Like, Kaya, I don’t want her to not be able to put who she is out there because she’s scared that if it, just, you know, who she is–we don’t know who she, we don’t know this aspect of her–but if who she is as Queer, and she’s too afraid or not comfortable enough to express that. I think that’s the pain point for me. And I just, I just sent y’all in our chat, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who Texas’s first Black gay lawmaker ever elected to the state of Texas, in the state of Texas, in 2021. This is what I’m saying. Like, this is, I think this is a deeper thing with our leaders not feeling like they can be who they are. The first Black gay man elected in Texas, in 2021?!

 

Myles Johnson: I know you’re saying that like it’s shocking, but I’m like, sounds about right. Like, yes. So, it’s still–

 

De’Ara Balenger: But it is, I think, but I think the context is that like there are other elected, there other folks that I love and adore that are running for office too and we don’t know what’s going on with them., and it’s just like, is it because–?

 

Myles Johnson: Well, now she’s outwardly said that she’s straight. And, you know, believe her. She outwardly said that she’s straight. My hope is that that is just the truth, and you weren’t doing it in order to not abandon certain people, because if anything comes out to contradict that, now that will be bad, because now you done lie.

 

Kaya Henderson: Then she had trouble with you, Myles.

 

Myles Johnson: She’s not in trouble with me. She not in trouble with me because I get it. I totally get it. After June, I doubt my place in the community all the time after June, all that partying. I’m like, maybe I need to leave the community too. I totally understand. No, but I totally get it. But I just hope that she just didn’t–yeah, I just, I just hope that she’s just really straight and that’s it. Because I do think it could go ugly if it comes out that she’s not. Because then I do think the Queer community will not be able to trust you, and then either people who are not community, Queer community, they might be like, Well, you still lied to us. Like, you know? Right. But straight to that shelter. It’s a shelter for adults, which I think we definitely need more Queer shelters for adult LGBT members, because, you know, when you look at the statistics of homelessness and underpayment, it really hits us hard and it doesn’t stop just because we turn 18.

 

DeRay Mckesson: I’m rarely shocked. My work in organizing, everything I’m exposed to new things and I’m like, Oh, this is really wild, and I didn’t know, da, da, da. And then I’m up here just reading the news and I did not know, because I don’t know much about foster care I realized, is that families get charged for foster care when their kids get taken from them. I had no clue. And the news is about the federal government has now issued guidance through HHS that says a state and county child welfare officials, for the first time, can stop sending bills to parents. Now, I had no clue that there was federal legislation that was passed in 1984 that require state and local county child welfare agencies to, when appropriate, collect money from families, and return part of it to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse the federal government, which pays for the biggest percentage, or a large percentage, of foster care. And now they’re undoing that. And like, I just didn’t–no clue. Didn’t know this was a thing. I thought it was already punishment enough to take kids away from their families. I had no clue that we were actually charging the families. And as you can imagine, a lot of the families are already dealing with–like the thing that becomes the child abuse or the thing that becomes unfit or the thing that causes it is often a lack of resources. So taking more resources from the home while the kid is gone is actually wild. And those resources aren’t even going to the family, like the foster families–those are going to reimburse the government, that you’re already paying a gazillion dollars in taxes to. And it just blew my mind. I wanted to bring it here because we’re always mindful when we talk about mass incarceration, we talk about these systems, it’s rarely the big stuff that you see on the news. It is often the accumulation of all of these things that happen, that really put people in a bind. This also made me think of how the Biden team just has to start talking about the good stuff, too. I mean, we’re critical and we’ll always be critical, but there’s good stuff happening. This is a big deal. Never got undone. Obama didn’t do it, and nobody else undid it. And then it gets undone during his administration, and I found it randomly. I wasn’t, you know, I don’t know how I stumbled across it, but I found it. And more people need to know. So I want to bring it here because it really did actually surprise me.

 

Myles Johnson: You know, I’m cynical, so, I can be a little cynical around these issues. So it did not bring me optimism that it happened under Biden. It brought me a lot of cynicism that it ever existed in general. So that’s really my biggest take away from it, is that there’s so many ways that we do not know that are hidden inseam, that exploit people who are in some of the worst situations you can arrive at in life. And I think just having so many friends who are in foster care, in that system, and people who’ve, and then also knowing parents who’ve had unfortunate circumstances or have dealt with addiction, to also then tax you on that, it’s just disgusting that it ever took place. So it doesn’t make me smile that Biden did it. It makes me frown that we live in a country that thinks to exploit before it thinks to help.

 

Kaya Henderson: Yeah. I’m with you, Myles. I literally was like, this is just another indication that we don’t give a hoot about poor people, that we are invested in keeping poor people poor and continuing to punish them for being poor. I mean, the piece about the lady who, you know, her kids were in foster care for 20 months or something and she finally gets them back and she gets a $19,000 bill from foster care? I mean, like, how does that work at all? And I just, you know, De’Ara was talking, we were talking earlier about other countries and their humanity towards poor people and we just, we got none of it. We don’t as a nation, the things that we believe about poor people, the way that we treat poor people is just quite reprehensible. And so this just made me I’m, yeah, I’m trying to get on the happy train DeRay and think this is good, that this is eradicated. But the thing that made me mad about it is that it wasn’t eradicated. It says that states may choose to no longer charge people. And the way these state legislatures are working, you can be sure that there are going to be a whole lot of states that choose to keep on charging people. And so like this, I don’t, this makes me want to vomit. It is. It’s disgusting. And I don’t understand how we claim to have family values in this country or to value families or to want to keep families intact, when, I mean this–we did the thing about, you know, child support payments. Ugh. The whole thing is just rotten around how we treat poor people.

 

De’Ara Balenger: The thing that was least surprising is that the story in the article was about a woman in Minnesota. We all know. My people are from Minnesota, I was born in Minneapolis. And if I ever become from very wealthy person, I’m going to get everybody out. We’re leaving the state. You can have it. You can absolutely have it. DeRay spent time there, he knows what I’m talking about. It’s my mom’s line, I wouldn’t raise a chicken in Minnesota.

 

Myles Johnson: Not I wouldn’t raise a chicken in Minnesota.

 

Kaya Henderson: For all of our Minnesota fans, we love you and Minnesota is a lovely place.

 

De’Ara Balenger: I’ll have you any time. I have two bedrooms. You can come stay. No, I mean, all my family’s there. We’re all there. But, you know, it just, I think that was the least surprising thing for me. “Minnesota Nice” and just the reputation that that state had for so long and people aren’t really understanding what’s going on there. Minnesota, Mississippi, you know.

 

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

 

[ad break]

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: This week, we welcome Van Lathan Jr. to you chat about his book, “Fat, Crazy, and Tired: Tales from the Trenches of Transformation.” Now, it was incredible. I learned a lot about him. I knew him, but there were these stories about how he dealt with loneliness and how he dealt with his weight and what it was like to lose the weight and the way people treated him and his family and his father–all these things that I didn’t know that I want to share with you that we talk about. The book was moving on a host of fronts and I learned a lot. I hope that you will, too. Each chapter holds a valuable lesson for readers to take from the narrative, and there are so many gems. Here we go with Van Lathan Jr. You might know him because he challenged Kanye when he worked at TMZ and Kanye said that slavery was a choice–that was a viral moment that we all saw. And he has an incredible podcast, and he’s an author of a book, a book that we’re talking about now, Fat, Crazy, Tired. Here we go, Van.

 

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

 

Van Lathan Jr. What’s up? How you guys doing?

 

DeRay Mckesson: Good. I’m excited to talk to you about your book. I’ve known you for a while, but now you’re a published author of the book, Fat, Crazy, and Tired. And let’s start with how did you get to L.A. and Hollywood? Like, why did you, why did you choose the career that you have? Let’s start there and then we’ll talk about the book.

 

Van Lathan Jr. My mom, so like, there’s one moment and I remember life in moments like this. People always go, Van’s telling a story for everything, but it’s true. Me and my mother were sitting down and, like, I was 10 or 11 years old and we’re watching Do the Right Thing. And the way my mother tells the story is that she was surprised that I could understand the movie. Because Spike Lee was such a big deal–it’s like 1990, 1989 or something, and she’s watching the movie for the first time on VHS–they used to have these tapes called VHSs and we’d stick them into this box, and then box would play the movie, I don’t know if people remember that–but she sees me watching the movie, as she sees that I’m, like, enthralled by it, you know? And she says to me, she goes. Mookie. You see, Mookie. I’m like yeah. She’s like, Mookie wrote and directed the movie. And I’m like, Well, what does that mean? And she goes, Well, he wrote the movie, you know, everything that’s happening, it came from his mind. And then he directed it. And that means that he stood on there, like on the set and told everybody what to do. And my response to her was, They let Black people do that? And like, she can’t tell the story without, like, tearing up and, you know, getting all emotional and stuff. And she was like, Yeah, you can do whatever you want to do. And I was like, Oh. And I remember saying to her, I want to do that. And she said, Okay, well, are you saying–? Yeah! And so I think I already loved movies and TV, but I had a deep love after I felt like I realized that it was possible for me to be a part of it. And even though it took a winding road for me to get out here to L.A. and there was a lot of pit stops along the way, that’s always the thing inside of me that kept me going, just the the desire to want to create.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Boom. And why a book? Most of us, most of the people who don’t know you as a friend, you know, know you from your podcast–which is dope–or they know you from TMZ world. But I didn’t t meet you as an author. So why a book? There are many, you have already told your story in a host of formats. What made you want to do a book?

 

Van Lathan Jr. If I’m being honest, the book, the telling the book was like, it’s partly me wanting to tell it in long form and really do some service to, you know, my upbringing and how I was, but part of it was definitely like when you start getting managed by like Hollywood types and when people think of the Van Lathan total package, they go, Oh, you got to write a book about your life. And so I think that at the beginning of it, I didn’t really have much desire to do it, but life changed so drastically while I was writing the book. I lost my father. The pandemic happened. I gained some weight. And while I was writing the book, it became cathartic for me. DeRay, really, I wrote my way out of some pretty intense depression that I think people, a lot of people were feeling during the pandemic. So it ended up being sent by God that I was doing it, because it allowed me to sit down and get to my thoughts and contextualize them, you know?

 

DeRay Mckesson: Now, your dad is a big part of the book, a big part of the story. Can you talk about how he figures that into the way you tell your own story in your life?

 

Van Lathan Jr. Yeah, so I always had a North Star in my life and that North Star was like, my father, you know? He had a very specific worldview and outlook on life, and it was it was informed by his upbringing. He’s from a small town, Mariongouin, Louisiana, maybe 1,400 people there. When you go there, you see the same thing there now, that I saw in 1986, 1987 when I was going there as a kid. I think for him, he wanted to instill in me those roots of values, while at the same time understanding that I would be adapted to the contemporary world that I was a part of, which he never wanted to adapt to. So for me, of a lot of my life has been about convincing my father that I’m worthy of my last name. And it’s a weird way to sort of live because him and I never really got along like that. We got along, but how could you really get along with Superman? There’s something ir-relatable there, to where you’re like, you’re always trying to fly and you can never quite get off the ground. So when I lost my father, that pursuit was over. And I mourned that as much as I mourned losing him. I mourned the fact that I would never get a chance to convince him that I was worthy to be his son. Like, it’s so weird. I tell this story in the book, is like, we’re in the house one day–this stuff is just like, weird, small stuff–we’re in the house one day and there’s a wasp in the house. Louisiana, big, killer, wasps, hornets, just you know bite you and your whole neck swell up. And me and my friends are in there, and it’s in there and we’re laughing and running around, like, Oh, here he come, blah, blah, blah.  Like, blah, blah, blah, my dad comes home, cowboy hat on, sweat, hole nine, big 357 on his side, and he sees us, right? And it flies by and he grabs it with his hand. And he crushes it. And like, and all of us are like, Jesus! And later on that day, I look at his hand and there’s a gigantic welt. It’s not that it didn’t hurt, it’s that in his life, sometimes you got to crush the wasp. And it was just stuff like that. Like that’s, you know, I was watching Monty Python movies 1:00 in the morning. I had a different, you know, what I mean? Like I was different. So I think that I, I think that my life in chasing the example that he set–you know, I’m 42 now–I think that has been the thing that kept me on track, that kept me out of trouble, that kept me doing all of this stuff. And now that he’s gone, I have to find a new rudder. And it it’s interesting.

 

DeRay Mckesson: You know, page104, you write, “While my mother tried her best to shield me from any potential wound, my father had the pesky habit of traumatizing me.” And later you go in–I’m trying to get all my bookmarks–is that you go in then to talk about his own issues and talk about “detachment was my father’s trauma, camouflage.” And I think you do such a compelling job of showing how he was a complex person and a complex dad. I’d love to know, like, what were the one or two lessons that you took from him that have that, especially since he’s passed, that you carry with you in your life moving forward? Like, what are those? What are those thing? Or, like, how has that shaped the way that you show up in the world today?

 

Van Lathan Jr. Well, there are two messages. One is just confront it. Whatever it is in front of you, just deal with it. My father had the uncanny way, sometimes you felt like you was making too big of a deal of things with the way that he was just, he was obsessive about getting through whatever problem was in front of him, you know? So, if I’m not my father’s son, the Kanye West thing never happens, because people around the room, they’re like paralyzed by his fame. And not to say that I wasn’t–the guy’s was one of my heroes artistically–but whatever is in front of me, whatever happens we get we get it out then. Like, you say it, we can go to lunch and dinner after, we can be cool, we could be family, we could kick it–but whatever happens right then, you approach and deal with the thing that’s in front of you? And that’s just how he was. The second thing was–and I don’t mean to polarize your audience–was like, don’t take no crap from white people. Like, my dad, we’re on the jobsite one time and we have poured out–he was a contractor–we had poured out this driveway, and the guy was trying to get over him–the guy was like, white guy, really rich, very, very influential in town is like, well, you guys poured out, but I want to let you know it’s going to rain. So if it rains and it messes it up, then, you know, we don’t have to talk about the payment. My dad goes, If it rains and it messes it up and it dries, you’re going to come and have somebody break it out. And like, it’s like, you’re not going to keep the driveway that we just did here. And everybody is like, Oh, my God, Terry. And my dad goes, No, no, no, no, let me tell you what’s happening right here. I’m looking over at Mr. Pennington and he thinks that because were some inwards from over All Guardian Lane that he’s going to have us come out of here and do all of his work and then not pay us for it, because he’s probably done that before. I just want to make sure that that’s not what it is. Like, it was paralyzing the fact that he, he was talking to this guy who was a pretty powerful guy in town like this. And everywhere we would go, whether would be the cops, whether there would be a doctor, whether it’d be a coach, he just was, he did not want me to feel inferior to the white authority power system. He just didn’t, he never wanted me to. It’s like, you’re a man. It’s like you’re a man, they’re men, we have to live here together. You nobody’s boy. And he put that in me, and for better or for worse, I haven’t been able to shake that. Almost, to be honest with you, I’m almost like, What did you say? You know, like, you know what I mean? Like, it’s almost like a hyper vigilance inside of me. But to be honest with you, I think he was preparing me in ways for the times that we were going to have to live in. You know, so there you have it.

 

DeRay Mckesson: So much of the book i’s about your journey with weight. And I learned a lot about you. I was like, okay, I didn’t know this. Like, I didn’t know, I didn’t know that you had been to the hospital so many times. And I didn’t know about your battles with anxiety or your battles with depression. I learned all of that. I have a lot of questions. I’m interested since the book, we’re talking now after the book has already been out–how has it been received around the conversation about weight loss and weight, and, you know, there are people who are both, I’m sure, appreciative of the story and like, you know, well you lost all this weight, right, so what does that mean in terms of how you talk about the struggle with weight today, and how people treat you? I’d love to know how that’s been.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Well, number one, I just want people to know that it’s impossible to have these conversations when you’re around DeRay, because it’s too joyous of a time. DeRay is always showing you the most wondrous side of the world. Like, we’re going to have a conversation one day where it’s just like everywhere that I’ve been when I’ve been with DeRay, and how can you be depressed? You know, like he, like he knows this to be true. Like you you’re sitting at dinner and he’s like, Oh, my God, whatever, whatever. Anyway. But no, I think there are two things. Number one, I learned something by writing this book. I learned that, I learned that the original way that I looked at myself was not at all, it wasn’t very fulfilling. It was a very–it wasn’t right, if I’m being honest with you. I think that when you lose a bunch of weight, people look at you, they go, Oh, my God, like, wow, what an accomplishment. You know what I mean? And the reason why they feel that way is because you are transforming from something that they view as being one of the dregs of society to something that’s being societally acceptable. Like you’re joining a club. You’re joining a club of fit people, and that club is the more desirable way to be. And as I’ve gotten a little older and thought about that, I’ve thought about the ways that we should actually make space for people in our society, in our community that have different body styles and different body shapes then us, and how it’s not an accomplishment that you lost a bunch of weight, unless that’s what you wanted to do. It’s not the, it’s not the fact that you look better than you did before. It’s not the fact that you are now can fit into some size that you could before. It has to be about something that you want it for yourself, and I never looked at it that way. I looked at it in the past as joining a club, joining the club of people that was normal people in society. And I think that that really had more to do with my mental state than even my body sizes. I did not feel like I was a part of anything. I felt like society didn’t want to make space for me on the bus or at a party or ladies sexually–I felt like I was encroaching upon them with my size. And that’s changed now. And I think that that’s changed in society. I think that change is positive. As far as the mental stuff is, the dysfunction where I’m from is so absolutely astronomical that I’m just trying to talk to these brothers and sisters to let them know that there’s a name for what it is that they have.

 

DeRay Mckesson: And when you say dysfunction, what do you mean?

 

Van Lathan Jr. I mean the fact that we have anxiety, the fact that we’re depressed, the fact that we have anger issues, the fact that we trauma bond, all of those things. You’ve been to Baton Rouge before. As a matter of fact, you were down in Baton Rouge when I probably should have been down in Baton Rouge–But, and if you’ve been to my community and if you’ve been down there, we’re just getting through it. We’re just like, we’re just moving, you know? And we’re doing the best that we can. And there are a lot of people down there that are trying to help, a lot of people that come down there to try to help, but we just, we just moving it. The cops are on us. The BRPD is on us. Our communities are destroyed, there are food deserts there, and we end up fat, crazy, and tired. But we have to be able to have conversations about why this is happening and how we head it off at the pass in order to change things. Like, my, um, when I first started having panic attacks, my uncle was like, You need to, you need to get that checked out, there might be something wrong with you like, internally. I was like, I’ve been checked out, physically it’s fine. He was like, I don’t know. That runs in the family. That happens to me. I said, What happens to you? He was like, you know, Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat, my heart races, I had a bad dream, I’m screaming and I can’t, I can’t get myself together, I’m just walk around shaking and shaking and shaking. I’m looking at him. I’m like, Well, you’re having a panic attack. That’s what it is! You’re 46-years old, like you’re having one. And he’s like, naw, I ain’t panicking. And I’m like, Unc, yeah, you are.

 

DeRay Mckesson: You’re like, This is what it is.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Yeah, I’m like, Unc, yeah, you are. You are. And the more things is you don’t have to live that way. Like, we can, it could be different. But, you know, unless we talk about it, unless somebody, you know, is, is vulnerable about it, we’re not going to get to it.

 

DeRay Mckesson: One of the things that you touch on in the book and that you, you talk about it in the context of depression, is essentially loneliness, and what loneliness looks like. And you talk about basketball as one of the ways that you, like, built community and understand community and have friends and basketball becomes a site that you also sort of work through the issues around weight. I’m interested in like how you think about how men deal with loneliness, and how you dealt with it, and how, any advice for other guys? You know, because, you know, I’m sure you probably read the stories about like the loneliness epidemic, right, and how that the lack of community allows so many things like depression, anxiety, all that stuff, to just fester and to become bigger problems that we could address. And I’d love to know how you think about loneliness.

 

Van Lathan Jr. So I think that loneliness is something that plagues men because we don’t have enough socially acceptable ways of connection. You know what I mean? As a man, like, you’re supposed to build a little kingdom, and then people are supposed to want to come to your kingdom, right? You’re supposed to have enough clout, enough financial stability, enough sexual attraction, enough all of these things where everybody wants to be around you. You couldn’t be lonely because there are too many people coming, trying to get around you, right? And if you don’t have those things, you’re less than a man. So loneliness is actually not just a shot, it’s not just a state of being that you’re in, it’s a shot at your masculinity, because what type of man–at least where I’m from–what type of man exists that nobody wants to be around, what type of man exists that you’re not protecting anyone, that you’re not providing financial stability for anyone, that you’re not having sex with anyone, you know what I mean? The sexual component alone, if you’re lonely, that means no women want to have sex with you. If no women want to have sex with you–no people want to have sex with you, should I say–and if no people want to have sex with you, then what good are you to the world? Like you’re like, you’re nothing. Especially in my crew. All of these great looking lothario womanizing guys, you know, I mean, you know. And so I think a lot of times we can’t really discuss our loneliness because it’s too much of a referendum on who we are. Right? And we can’t also discuss the fact that we love and are attracted to our friends. Like, why do you have the same hommies that you had in 1993, 1994, 1995? Because these are the people who you feel tender love and acceptance and platonic, or sometimes not platonic, attraction to, right, for whatever reason. But because we can’t be vulnerable, we can’t talk about the fact that the camaraderie that we need, we sometimes find it in toxic ways. Sometimes, it’s sometimes about who we commit crime with, it’s sometimes about who we make secrets with, who we struggle with, you know, like, and so all of that stuff is, it’s easy. But the hard thing is to, is to really litigate what it is that we need from each other as a community. What is it that we need from each other just in the dailies every day? I think one thing that’s great about my crew is, as we’ve grown up, our relationship has evolved to the point to where I can just call these guys and be like, Yo, man, what’s up with you? You good? How the kids?

 

DeRay Mckesson: Are you still friends with Ryan?

 

Van Lathan Jr. I’m still friends with Ryan.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Shout to Ryan’s. Ryan’s like a whole character in the book. I was like, I want to meet Ryan. What were you going to say?

 

Van Lathan Jr. I met him in first grade.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Shout out to Ryan. Shout out to friends.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Yes, that’s my man.

 

DeRay Mckesson: One of things you also talk about that I didn’t know–I’m going through my notes–but you talk about the, it’s when you gave the gun to Nick.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Yes.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Oh! Page 94. “My therapist convinced me to turn over all the shotgun ammo I own to my friend and business partner, Nick.” So vulnerable moment. Would love for you to walk us through that. But also, I think more importantly in this moment, how do you think back on that? And there are probably other listeners who have dealt with depression or dealing with depression who have thoughts similar to the thoughts that you had in that moment and are looking for advice, or are interested in in hearing what recovery looks like from moments like that. And I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Van Lathan Jr. So, like, I’m laying in bed, like I say that book and I’m like, Yo, I can’t sleep, like I’m never going to be normal again–which is a common refrain for anyone that deals with depression or deals with any type of disorder. It’s like, it’s not even what you’re going through right now, it’s that you don’t see a time where you won’t be dealing with it. You’re so low, you’re so wrapped up in it, you’re so consumed by it, that you think, How could I possibly ever get to a point to where I just wake up and go for a walk, go for a jog, come home and watch the game again. And you say, Oh, man, I had it so good in 2017 when I was just chilling, you know? And so that’s the point that you think, oh, what’s the purpose of it? If every day is going to be torture, if every day is going to be depression, if it’s–I mean, there was a point where I would just wake up and cry until 1:00. Like just literally, until my eyes were red and puffy. Just wake up and cry til one, until the morning anxiety had kind of like washed away. I have a little bit of a weird thing in the middle of the day, then by the end of the day, I feel normal again, kind of. So I talk to my therapist, so I’m sitting there, I’m looking at the gun, I’m like it would be very easy. Put the shell in the gun. Boon, it’s over. And I had that actual thought, and I sat up and I kind of like, I was like, Wow, I just had a real deal, 24-karat gold ideation. Not in a Oh, why do people do that-type of situation. Just like, I just contemplated whether or not I would be better off doing that. And the first thing that happened to me, because of the foundation I had already built, was I have to talk to somebody about this, which I think is very important. That’s why therapy, even well therapy, when you’re doing okay, is very important because you make it a habit of discussing things like that with people. So the first thing I thought–which is not for a lot of people who haven’t maybe been in therapy before, don’t really have the access to it, which is something in our communities that we have to do a better job of–the first thing I thought is, let me talk to somebody. So I talk to my therapist, Coley, and she goes. Okay. She goes, No big deal. So we start talking about it, she goes, Okay, no big deal. You’re here talking to me, so you’ve made the first decision. You’ve made the first decision to live and you’ve made the first decision to discuss it. She was like, I need you to make another one for me. She said, take all your ammunition, give it to somebody that you trust. Nick Maye is a guy that if you are in trouble in Los Angeles, you can call Nick. No matter what it is. If you’re in trouble in Los Angeles, you can call Nick. Like if you if I’m in the [unclear] or if I’m on the west side and I got a problem with the Crips, I’m going be like, You know somebody who could get me out of this? And Nick is going to be able to make that–

 

DeRay Mckesson: Shout out to Nick.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Shout out to Nick. So, I’m like, alright I’ll send over to Nick. I said, Nick, Yo. Like, what’s up, bro? I’m bringing 300 rounds of shotgun ammunition to your crib. He was like, Alright. I said, you don’t want to know why? He’s like, Naw, I mean you need to, I mean, you need to put it over here, Okay come put it over here. It’s not any illegal stuff right? I’m like, naw. Okay. I take the boxes, the little canisters of shotgun ammunition, I bring it over to Nick and he looks at me and goes, You alright. I go, I think I am. So I call Coley back. She’s like, Is it done. I’m like, Yeah. She’s like, Okay, let me tell you what, therapeutically that’s important. She’s like, You’ve made a decision to take care of yourself. You’re not, you’re still, you still have depression and we still need to come together with a clinical plan for you, but you made a decision to take care of yourself. I think for people out there that are dealing with it, it’s the hardest thing to convince somebody when they’re going through it, is that you can be okay. Like you will be okay. Like, you will. You just have to attack it like you would attack anything else. Attack it like you’re attacking a deadline at work. Attack it like you attack it wearing your mask. Attack it like you’re attacking any thing else. You will be okay. You will come out of it, and you just have to find your network. But so for me, I think it was lucky for me that I had, I was doing some things before that that allowed me to kind of deal with it.

 

DeRay Mckesson: I want to ask you, too, about love. And it’s so funny I do–your like, I always sound so cheery, that’s funny–but love becomes such a through line to me in the book, both what does it mean to love oneself–your parents are a big parts of this and your mother and father and the way they loved you, the way that you thought about their love, and then the love of your friends that helped you see yourself differently and the world around you. And I want to hear you talk about how you think, about how you grew in thinking about what love is, like self-love, community love, all those things–like, as you both wrote the book, and as you grew up.

 

Van Lathan Jr. To me, growing up, love was simply like, it was obligation. Love meant that you did things for people, because we always needed each other, right? Like we were, one time, I remember one time we were starving, for whatever reason. Like, it got to the point in the ’80s where the economy was so bad that we had to like, literally, like, fish to live. Like we were, we didn’t have no no bread. Like we was like, no bread. And so what we would go do is dig worms, and then you dig the worms, you take the worms over to Rainey, which is where you could fish. You fish, you catch your dinner. So you could feed four people, especially for like 10 or 15 bucks because all you needed was some cornmeal or whatever you fish you fry up some fish and french fries or whatever. But like, if the fish wasn’t biting, like we weren’t really eating, and we had to go to, to [unclear] to get like two chickens to get us through a week. My momma made the chickens to get us through the week. I just think of love as what people did for you when you needed them. And it was like, the fact that we were all kind of living through this, love was what made us stick together. It was love and family. As I grew older, I started to learn a couple of more things. I remember one time I didn’t want to clean my room up, and my pop goes uh, he’s like, That’s the way you show your mama that you love her. I said, How you me? He’s like, when your mama comes home, when she in here working, she like to look around and see a house with some sort of balance and structure to it. And if you love your mama, you got to make sure that you create an environment for her where she feels comfortable, and she knows that you care about if she feels comfortable. So love became an action then. And the more I grew up, self-love is the one thing that was always the hardest for me, because sometimes I would look, I’d be like, What’s there to love? Sometimes I really felt like that. Sometimes I look at myself, You’re 370 pounds. You know, you’re not working. You got, you having anxiety attacks every week. People got to come out to the hospital. You’re a drain on everyone–like what’s to love? Like, what’s the thing? And so I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve understood that, like, love is to me, it’s acceptance and grace. It’s like who you share grace with, who you share vulnerability with, and who you share growth with. And that’s been very tough for me to come to terms with. It’s been very tough to come to terms with. It’s like, why I see so many people out there on the front lines doing things when all they get is crap about it. You know? I’m talking about you. And it’s like, why I see so many people giving their lives to things when a lot of times people, people excoriate them for it. And it’s because they love the people that they’re out there for. They love them. They’re willing to sacrifice for them. They’re willing to show grace to even the ones that don’t understand what it is that they’re doing. And as stupid as it is, it’s literally the only thing that we have. As human beings, it’s like the only thing that makes you want to build community, the only thing that makes you want to make connections. Like, you have to try to show that to one another. And it took me 42 years until I loved myself, to really love myself. It’s taken this much time for me to be like, Hey, man, you okay. You’re good. There are things about you that you want to change, but there are things about you that are special. And I think for Black boys, period, it’s just imperative that we teach them to understand that within them–because if not, they’ll be loved for how they rap, how they dance, how to shoot a basketball, how they have sex, their abs, all of those things, but what about themselves, you know what I mean, is valuable and worth it? And so I have to teach Black boys how to love who they are, how to look in the mirror and understand who they are. That to me, will build a better community around this, you know?

 

DeRay Mckesson: You know what? I one of things I love about the book is that it really is a journey. And it’s like we like, see you, you like grow and we see you struggle and we see all the things. And I’m hopeful that as you all read it, you get to be on the journey too, and learn from it. There are two questions that we ask everybody, Van. The first is, what’s the piece of advice that you’ve gotten over the years that has stuck with you?

 

Van Lathan Jr. Huh. My mother–so one time I go to my mother and I say, Hey, I want to be able to hold a grudge better, because I can’t hold a grudge. Like, I fall out with somebody, two weeks later, you call me up, you can call me up and act like nothing happened–I’m going to be okay with you. I’ll be like, Haya, cool, man. I’ll hit my mother up and I go, Mom, I need to be, I’m out here in this town and people do you wrong. And I’ll be like, Man, Charlemagne is so good at holding a grudge. It’s like, I need to be able, I need to be able to hold a grudge better. And my mother said, Don’t hold a grudge, hold your light. I’m like, Man, that sound like some Black mama mumbo jumbo. And she’s like, No. She’s like, don’t hold a grudge, hold your light. Whatever you think makes you, you, hold on to it, grow around it. Don’t dissect it, rip it to shreds. Like, grow around. She says, Okay, you can’t hold a grudge. Okay, what does that mean for you? Like, What does that mean, how does that affect your life? She’s like, Hold on to that, but understand what it means to you. Like, don’t change yourself, change around yourself. And I’ve tried to do that. Sometimes I fail. A lot of times I fail. Man, most of the time I fail.

 

DeRay Mckesson: It’s such a momma thing.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Yeah. Well I get it right, it words you know?

 

DeRay Mckesson: She said, Hold your light, baby, hold your light. I’m to your mom on this one. She said, Don’t hold the darkness. Don’t try to hold a grudge. You got to hold your gifts, baby. I can see, I can see mom now. I love it. “Hold your light.” I like that. And the second question is, what do you say to people who have done all the things, they read your book, read my book, listened to your podcast, listened to mine, they watched the news, they stood in the street, they called the people, they voted, and the world hasn’t changed in the way that they want it to. What do you say to those people?

 

Van Lathan Jr. What a fantastic question. I’d say I’m right there with you. And the real thing that I’d say to them–and it’s going to be of no consolation to them–is truly, the only thing that we have is each other. We’re trying to do all of these things to make a better world, but inside of those things, the only thing that we really have is each other. I look at the women that I share my community with, and I watch the anguish, the anguish that they’ve been going through surrounding Roe, Dobbs and everything that happened, you know what I mean? The only thing I can do is make myself available to them, is lend them strength. The same way they lent me strength when we all watched [unclear] when we all went through all of this stuff together, the same way they were there. The same way they’re there every single time. It’s like, the only thing I can do is show up for them. So we can’t put our our trust and our faith in systems, we can’t put our trust and our faith in even words, but we have to find a way to put our trust and our faith in each other. And that’s sometimes not about the Supreme Court. That’s sometimes not about President Biden or what he is or is not doing, or how he’s read the teleprompter this week. Sometimes that has to be just about how we show up for each other. So I actually think that we talk about large communities. That’s very important. But I want to build small ones. I saw this one thing about this black couple–I don’t know if you saw this–and they all moved to the same cul de sac and they stayed there for like 20 years and they all know each other and they got like kids. It’s like four families. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not so much, Will you go out to vote for me? I’m talking about, Can I borrow some sugar? That’s the culture I want to give back to. And so everything that we’re doing out there is very important, but the hope that we have, we have to make a smaller hope. I have to be able to, like I know I can trust you. Right? And that has to get me through. And we build those little links and connections and chains of strength. And maybe the next time the decisions that affect our lives will be a little bit different. But we can’t stop.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Van, where can people go to stay up to date with what you’re doing in the world, to follow you, to make sure they catch the next book–how do people keep tabs on your world?

 

Van Lathan Jr. I’m everywhere! @vanlathan on Instagram, on Twitter. Also, we have a new show that we just did, for 50 Cent and Mona Scott-Young guy. It’s called Hip Hop Homicides. It’s coming out in September. The Ringer Podcast Network, I do Higher Learning with Rachel Lindsay and myself. If you’re into Marvel stuff, you want to talk about nerds, just get your mind off all of this stuff, the Ringer-Verse podcast is there too. There’s so much stuff going on. We have a new movie that we’re starting to do that’ll be out next year.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Okay, movie.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Shout out to my partners Travon Free and Nick Maye from Six Feet Over productions. There’s a lot of stuff going on. But everybody–last thing I’ll say is: take breaks. I woke up this morning and the first thing that was in my ear was listening to Steve Bannon. We can’t do that. Like, like listening ti Steve Bannon talk about the insurrection. I’m like, Did we get him yet? Everybody make sure you take some breaks, and I hope that my book can provide you a little break from all of this stuff.

 

DeRay Mckesson: Boom. Well, Van, we consider you a friend of the pod and can’t wait to have you back.

 

Van Lathan Jr. Absolutely. Thank you, DeRay.

 

DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. And we will see you next week. Pod Save the People was a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrie, and mixed by Veronica Simonetti, and executive produced by me. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger and Myles Johnson.