The Epidemic of Trumpism | Crooked Media
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March 05, 2024
Pod Save The People
The Epidemic of Trumpism

In This Episode

Trump advances on the ballot, Ghana criminalizes LGBTQ identity at their own expense, and SF judges under scrutiny for ethical rulings. Pod Save The People is back with the Blackest Book Club reading list in collaboration with Reconstruction and Campaign Zero.


Trump says he’s long worked ‘hand in hand’ with Black people. Let’s review.

Ghana passes bill making identifying as LGBTQ+ illegal

Unanimous? Top takeaways from Supreme Court’s ruling to keep Trump on the ballot

Ghanaian finance ministry warns against fallout from anti-LGBTQ law

In Pursuit of Harsher Punishments, San Francisco Courtwatchers Target Judges

Trump alludes to replacement conspiracy theory at Richmond rally






DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay. And welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it’s me, Myles, and Kaya talking about the news that you don’t know or didn’t hear with regard to race, justice, and equity and culture. Here we go. Happy March! And this week we continue our conversation on the Blackest Book Club reading list. Our question this week is which Black author would you like to interview on the podcast? And join the book club if you haven’t already. Visit [doesn’t work, here is the link:] Here we go. 




Kaya Henderson: Welcome welcome welcome friends to Pod Save the People. We’re in for another episode and super excited to be with you! I’m Kaya Henderson. You can find me on Twitter at @HendersonKaya. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter and TikTok at @pharaohrapture.


DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay at @deray on Twitter. 


Myles E. Johnson: Welcome friends. We are jumping straight into some news that’s been going on. Um. I wanted to get all y’all opinions. I seen the um, Wendy Williams doc. It’s one of those interesting stories where you’re observing something happening. It’s sad, but also, and I think Wendy even, uh would tell you this, that she would not give anybody any grace or privacy during this time. She maybe even would [?] in. So the Lifetime um documentary has gotten, like, record views and viewership. It’s like their highest rated documentary um but the last thing that I saw, and it’s all about them thinking they’re going to be taping something about Wendy Williams and her comeback and her doing a podcast. And then they slowly and pretty immediately, I don’t know how slowly it was actually. But like, they immediately see that something’s wrong with Wendy and her faculties and the team around her, and the documentary takes a whole turn into really talking about her alcoholism, the team around her, and eventually that she has um alcohol induced dementia. I wanted to get you alls thoughts on this. What do y’all think? Did y’all see it? Have you all watched it?


DeRay Mckesson: You know, I was interested, I saw a clip and it made me sad and I was like, I can’t do anymore. But it was really interesting to me that Lifetime released a statement saying that if they knew that she had dementia, they would not have done it. 


Kaya Henderson: It doesn’t even remotely sound believable to me. 


DeRay Mckesson: When I saw that, I was like mmm, she look like she has dementia from the beginning you guys started filming. So I just wanted to add that. 


Kaya Henderson: So one, let me see. I agree with you, Myles. If this was happening to somebody else and Wendy was at her peak, she would be all over this reporting on it, would not give people grace and whatnot. So I understand people’s general empathy. Like we don’t want to see people this way, but I think it’s particularly ironic that it’s Wendy Williams. Listen, on my little friend thread, everybody was like, let me tell y’all something girls. Don’t have me on the TV looking crazy. [laughing] So I think it is a good conversation to have with your people about uh, who is taking control and who is in charge when things go to the left. Because this manager and publicist and whoever else who, if you noticed, I don’t know if you noticed this Myles, when you watched it, but the manager is actually one of the executive producers on the documentary. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mmmm. 


Kaya Henderson: So that dude is making him some money off of this. He knew exactly what he was doing from jump. This is not a oh, she’s coming back. One of the things that was really interesting to me, if you have never seen somebody who has alcohol induced dementia, if that’s what we’re calling it, or graves disease or cocaine addiction or edema. It was we tell people don’t do drugs, we tell people don’t drink. We tell people don’t do all of these things. But the physical manifestations were jarring. And I think that it I actually think it’s good for people to see, like, alcoholism is not some little disease that just goes quietly into the night. Like this stuff wreaks havoc on your body, it wreaks havoc on everything. And so I thought that was a particularly interesting dimension to see. The other thing that I thought was really did tug at my heartstrings was right her son. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: Who clearly didn’t sign up for any of this and is really just trying to figure out how to be, you know, helpful to his mom at a moment where the family doesn’t have control. And this thing is happening. And I mean, he could have chosen to not even come on. But he was like, you know what? This is what we’re trying to do, we’re bringing her to Florida, we’re trying to, I and my heart goes out to the son for sure. 


DeRay Mckesson: The other thing is that the publicist also said the documentary exploited her, and that she did not intend for this to happen this way, and that she was not a decision maker in the process, and that if she had known it would be like this, she would have tried to stop it. [banter]


Kaya Henderson: What do you mean if you had known? You were there, like you were seeing the same thing that I’m seeing, you were seeing the cameras rolling. You could have been like, you know what? No, this is too much. I can’t handle this. She shouldn’t be talking this way to people on camera. Stop, stop, stop. I’m out. Like there were 25 ways for you to have stopped this sis. But there you were. 


Myles E. Johnson: DeRay, I know that it’s not an easy thing to watch, but I really do implore you to watch it, because that publicist, she is one of the shadiest characters in that whole documentary. So don’t be mad when the exploitation comes back to bite, because that was your whole prerogative. And then you end up looking Looney Tunes, and now people are underneath your page about something that has nothing to do with Wendy Williams. Talking about [?] hashtag free Wendy. And now you’re like, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Well, as a publicist, you should be able to anticipate this. This is supposed to be your bread and butter. You know, I like to bring things out a little bit. So to y’alls all point about this being recorded and even you being like, don’t have me looking wild on the internet and stuff like that, or don’t have me looking wild on television because so many more jobs are public, because social media is a thing. Do you think it might be like, I don’t know, I guess we would need De’Ara here too to figure out like what’s the precedence for this? But do you think it might be a thing to say like, no, after this point, do not record me and put me on social media, or don’t record me and have me do things for media if I’m incapacitated, if I’m suffering and stuff like that. Because it seems as though when I look at this documentary, when I look at things on [?], when I look at viral content happening and I’m like, oh, this person is obviously suffering, having a mental health episode and stuff like that. It seems like that might be a thing that more and more regular folks, you know, people who don’t see themselves as celebrities might need to think about like, oh, wow, I do not consent to being put on social media or being made into a television show if I was incapacitated. What do y’all feel about that? 


Kaya Henderson: So I think there’s two different answers. One is television or any kind of formal thing, you have to provide consent. So that’s one thing. But I do think that if you were having an episode in the middle of the street and random people tape it and post it, what is your expectation of privacy when everybody in the world has a video camera in their hand? Can you sue somebody for recording you without your permission? Like, I wonder, I like this is the thing about technology, right? It opens up new questions that, like, we never had to answer before. If something is happening to me, even, like, I think about all those people on WorldStar hip hop who are fighting, right? Well, especially if I’m the one getting my booty beat [laughter] like, I [laughing] I don’t want to have video running around the world, but do I have any control of that? It’s a great question, Myles. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: And I’m sure some smart person is going to take it to the courts and sue somebody. 


Myles E. Johnson: Has too, because even when we think about Wendy Williams, even though I understand what you’re saying about television and the consent forms and stuff like that, she did all of that when she was of sound mind. 


Kaya Henderson: Totally. 


Myles E. Johnson: So they used her signing that consent to then you know what I– 


Kaya Henderson: Or whoever was responsible, right? Because she’s under receivership. And so I thought it was interesting that the court receiver, the financial people, none of the people who are supposed to be over her showed up. They all refused to comment and not be on the thing, but somebody had to sign those forms. And it wasn’t Wendy. Somebody had to sign those forms to say, yes, she can do this. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah, not very guardian like. Um. 


Kaya Henderson: Mm mm. 


Myles E. Johnson: Moving on. I’m going to need for this this is news that, you know, I have to save my, my mental health so I can’t consume every single thing that Trump does every single week. I just wait for y’all to tell me um, how how dark the skies are. So Trump, the white replacement theory, I’m gathering that he is um spreading this misinformation that there’s immigrants coming to replace white people, is that what’s going on? 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. So you probably saw this rear its head originally the report that came out that said the country is soon going to be majority people of color, if you remember that that was uh this was like a couple of years ago. It was like at this rate of growth and births and da da da, that people of color will be the majority. And that sort of spawned this very public, what they are calling the white replacement theory that the white, the white supremacists have used and they are stoking this is like the undergirding of the fear of the immigrants and the migrants and the, you know, bussing people to New York City and Chicago. And Trump is just very openly saying it to stoke fear amongst white people. And this, I think, frankly, is like one of the ways that they’ve gotten people who wouldn’t identify as racist but are like, oh, I don’t want to lose my power. I want I don’t want them to take jobs away from my kids, or da da like this sort of fear mongering and lying about immigration because they knew just the basic like deport everybody would obviously come off as racist and this is their way to do it. So I’m fascinated by just how nakedly bad and racist this is. But I’m interested to see what you have to say Kaya.


Kaya Henderson: Did you hear my news last week about the Nazis openly–


DeRay Mckesson: Right. 


Kaya Henderson: –parading around and participating at the CPAC? Why is this surprising to you? I don’t understand. These people have are making it very plain who they are. And this is working, right? This is they are stoking fears of white people losing their power, privilege, position. Welcome to Claudine Gay at Harvard and Bill Ackman’s assault on, you know, academia because of DEI and whatever else like this is all about, you know, maintaining white privilege and power. It’s not like this ain’t news. This ain’t like, this is the play boo, this is the play. It worked in 2016. And they feel like it’s going to work again this go around. 


Myles E. Johnson: And you know, maybe I’m giving this like conversation too much dignity by thinking of it like this or thinking of it as like where I’m about to go, but also just in the tradition of white supremacy in America. It’s never been about numbers. You know, if that was the case, then we would have acquired freedom all the time. It’s really always been about how, for lack of better words, how savage white supremacy is willing to be in order to assert itself. That’s what’s always been. It’s always been oh there’s a type of white terrorism that will always be wielded, that will terrorize your whole life. And that has always been it. It’s never been strictly about numbers or even about numbers. Because if that was the case, there were some scenarios where enslaved African people could have totally taken back the uh the nation. It’s never just been about that. So it was interesting that so many people are allergic to books that [laugh] that, that they’re like buying lies that just aren’t historically truth, no matter what side you’re on, you know, no matter uh, it’s just never that’s never been how that works. 


Kaya Henderson: You’re absolutely right, Myles. I spent this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I went to Greenwood Rising, which is the museum that captures the story of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa. And, you know, I’m just going to bring this story back because we can’t tell it enough. But Black Wall Street or the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, which is literally on the other side of the train tracks, was a thriving Black community with Black business people, Black hotels, Black barbershops and beauty salons and homes and Black people minding they business. Living on they side of town. They couldn’t spend money in white places, so they had their own thriving economy. And these people had land. They had oil because Oklahoma had oil, and these formerly enslaved people did the whole entire thing. And, you know, the white people were angry about it. So it’s never numbers, right? But it also is just about racial lust, land lust. It’s not just about these people are coming to get us. We wasn’t trying to get them. We was minding our own business in our neighborhood. They came to get us and burned it all down, burned it down, burned people’s houses, burned people’s businesses, and never rebuilt this part of town, built a baseball stadium on top of the people’s thing and all kinds of other things. I’m pleased to say that part of the Greenwood neighborhood now is rebuilt and there are Black entrepreneurs. I met a sister who is running a coffee and book shop. That’s the bomb, a sneaker store, all kinds of stuff that is happening in that neighborhood. But it’s all because, uh we could talk about replacement. We could talk about whatever. This is just pure white power, white rage, white privilege, white whatever. And I think that Mr. Trump has done us a service by laying it all out so that we don’t believe this post-racial B.S. we are still living in a place where at any moment, an angry white mob can come and burn down a Black neighborhood and nothing would happen. 


Myles E. Johnson: Right.


Kaya Henderson: They setting up for it. Y’all better get ready. 


DeRay Mckesson: I will just tell you, while we’re recording, the Supreme Court has ruled that Colorado cannot ban Trump from the ballot. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mmm. 


DeRay Mckesson: A unanimous decision. 


Myles E. Johnson: Mmm. 


DeRay Mckesson: Unanimous. And their rationale is that Congress and not the states are the enforcement mechanism for this provision of the Constitution. So Trump uh lives to fight another day. 


Myles E. Johnson: And sell more gold sneakers child. Oh.


Kaya Henderson: Unanimous? I mean, I thought we believed in states rights. I thought we believed that states had the, federalism this is the whole, like, reason why our country is the way it is. The states get to decide what is right for them. How, what in the world? Tell us talk to us. 


Myles E. Johnson: And I know that like it’s kind of like redundant for me to say and so many other people who speak publicly say it. But when people talk about the quote unquote “American project, American experiment” and they say [?] maybe it’s is it wasn’t a good one. It’s times like this where I’m like, you know what? [laugh] Maybe how we’re thinking about this is just it’s just not working. Because I can believe it, but I can’t believe it. If that makes sense that we’re here. 


DeRay Mckesson: Because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states responsible for enforcing section three against federal officeholders and candidates, we reverse. Unanimous. Wild. Did y’all just see that Trump forgot um, it was Biden was president and gives this whole speech against Obama. You’re like, and they up here talking about Biden. You’re like, come on. [laugh] 


Myles E. Johnson: I didn’t–


Kaya Henderson: Who was surprised by that? 


Myles E. Johnson: This is a dark one. But I’m like, whatever has to happen to Trump in order for us just to get through this part of American history. It’s fair. Let’s, let’s let’s

hurry that up. Um. It was it was dark. But you know something yeah. But um, also speaking of dark, dark, dark things that are happening in the culture, um Diddy. It started last year, I think it was November because we were all together in Philly, right when Cassie came out with the lawsuit which– [banter]


Kaya Henderson: Oh yes, we were together. That was lovely. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. It was lovely. And I’ll never forget it, because I was having a lovely time with y’all in Philadelphia. And I love Philadelphia. But also, this case came out the same day and I was like, it was I’ll just never forget where I was when this came out. So, um Diddy has also acquired more and more accusations against him, uh by a male producer. It’s a 73 page um document. It talks about underage sex. It’s talking about having firearms illegally. It’s talking about a lot of different things. Of course, the thing that is um being hooked is that Diddy might have very well been involved with many of homosexual sexual events. Um. And that’s what the the internet seems to be doing. But I’m like, did you hear the thing about the underage girls and the guns and the, and the all these other things, but they’re like, no gay sex. Um. [laugh] That’s what we’re gonna that’s what we’re gonna focus on. Um. But I’m wondering because and I’m not gonna hold you when I think about Wendy Williams, when I think about Diddy, like, Gen X is going out. 


Kaya Henderson: Aw, don’t do that to us. [indistinct]


Myles E. Johnson: I’m not talking about everybody in Gen X, but like, the icons are going out bad. And then when you think just when you think you’re you’re done with it then Usher, just moments before we started recording this, Usher is in Bali with Russell Simmons doing doing yoga shirtless, sweaty like finding your chi with a with a whole with a whole entire rapist. Like what is going on? I just feel like Gen X is really going out. I should say the the Black and hip hop icons of Black exceptionalism of Gen X are really going out bad one by one. This had nothing to do with it, but everything to do with it too. Kelly Rowland was just in a Tyler Perry film. I count that as a L. [laughing] Um. You can’t take it to court, but it’s still it’s still a L. [laugh] What is going on? 


Kaya Henderson: [laugh] I don’t even know where to start except to stand up for my Gen X people and say we ain’t all crazy. Um. Whew child. I okay, so let me see, the Diddy stuff. Here is all I can say and not all I can say. I mean, here’s what I will say. The latest accusation by the young producer man is not completely and totally compelling to me. Maybe some stuff happened, but it feels kind of funky. And you let the dude grope your stuff for a whole year, and I, I don’t know. I think my big takeaway is some things happened. Things have happened. We can’t say what did and what didn’t. Because none of us were there. My hope is that all of these people get some kind of recompense and justice for whatever happened to them, because, you know, I mean, you’ve heard the quote, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: And I think, you know, the more money people have, the more power people have, the more control over people’s careers. You know, the thirst culture of I just want to be a star. I’m willing to do anything. All of these things make for a very dangerous situation. I think we’re seeing that play out. This is not new. Um. You know, people in power have been doing this for years and will continue to do this, and I’m not minimizing it. I hope that all of these people get justice for whatever happened to them. Now, this Usher thing. Hmm. I am really sorely disappointed. You know, I went to see Usher in Vegas. It really was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life fo sho. I thoroughly enjoyed the Super Bowl halftime show. I was happy that he got married. I’m happy that he’s having his moment. Uh sir, in the midst of all of this, at the pinnacle of your whatever. You think going to spend some time with Russell Simmons in Bali is a good look? Uh. I don’t think so, but um we gonna see how this plays out in his little ticket sales for his um world tour that has lots and lots of dates, none of which are sold out just yet, but we’ll see. 


Kaya Henderson: We didn’t need that little tidbit Auntie Kaya. Stop being shady. 


DeRay Mckesson: She definitely just had to stick it to him. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m like, geez. 


Kaya Henderson: [laugh] I know. I like usher. I’m a fan. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: And I have not bought, I have not bought tickets yet because the ticket prices are a little outrageous. And so I’m just going to wait till closer to the, I’m going let me be very clear. I’m going. I’m a support the brother unless some craziness comes out in the meantime. But my plan is to be there um singing my boo and, you know, daddy’s home and all of the things. But really, why would you at this particular moment? 


Myles E. Johnson: Well, he’s sticking to the script. The script is in his generation. Right. And I say this seriously is that it has never harmed you to align yourself with patriarchal power in hip hop and in industry. So that’s how come R.Kelly was getting away with, Russell Simmons was able to do what he was doing and everybody else. So in Usher’s head, he has not necessarily caught up to the Gen Z, millennial wokeification of the world. So him aligning himself with Russell Simmons would have never harmed his brand in a parallel universe that he’s existed in. 


Kaya Henderson: In a parallel universe. But have you read the paper? Why is your boy in Bali? Because he can’t come back to the United States. 


Myles E. Johnson: Well, people ain’t reading. [indistinct] [laughter] I’m glad we coming back to this, literacy. 


Kaya Henderson: Honey. Ooh.


DeRay Mckesson: I was floored to see him in Bali. I’m like, I know you got a good PR person. I don’t know what is happening. And then Russell Simmons is leaning into it being like I woke up and who was next to my bed? Usher. Like just weird. 


Myles E. Johnson: What sounds nuts. And I am a queer, trans non-binary person. So for me to say something sounds a little sweet, it must be diabetic. [laughing] 


DeRay Mckesson: Oh, Myles. 


Myles E. Johnson: So I’m like, what? That sounds absolutely wild. But again, it makes me think again I don’t want to go into like, just totally just assuming things about Usher and their and his life, because I don’t know, but it seems like he’s really used to using his power and his popularity to save grown men or to be used by a grown man. And like the whole ideas around Usher being 13 when he was um founded by Diddy and being groomed, all these other things, it just almost seems like this was such a automatic response to, oh, I’m acquiring power, I’m acquiring privilege. I’m popular. Let me use this to help this adult man like that seems that’s something that is like learned in my experience. Like you, you kind of that just felt like an odd response to having such a great moment that Usher is having. It was to like, oh, where’s the most toxic man in the world? Let me go let me go try to do some yoga with him and post it. Like that that just seemed wild to me. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Stay tuned, there’s more to come. 




Myles E. Johnson: I wanted to bring this to the pod for multiple reasons. When I get into it, you’ll understand why. But one of the most important reasons that I think, and I’ve said this many times, when we think about and romanticize trips back home to Africa and to Ghana, we don’t think about queer identities. And I think that the absence of thinking about those queer identities births a type of like uh, like conflict, because it’s like you don’t see us, you’re trying to go back here and we’re telling you, this is here is dangerous. So do you not see us in your Black future? Do you not see us in your um collective acquiring of of freedom from this nation state we call America? And it’s really necessary. And this news really highlights what me and so many other um queer Black folks have been saying. So the news is, Ghana’s parliament has passed a tough new bill that imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQ+. It also imposes a maximum five year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups. Lawmakers heckled down attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counseling. It is the latest sign of growing opposition to LGBTQ+ rights in the conservative West African nation. I remember I don’t know what year, what that that was because I ain’t had no money to go [laugh] everybody was returning back home. The year of the return. And I was like, well, we need to do the year of the return when I get my tax return because I don’t got I don’t got. [laugh] I didn’t have the money to go to that. But I do remember thinking to myself that it’s really easy for cis, heterosexual Black people and cis heterosexual, assumed queer people, gay people, lesbian people to romanticize this mass exodus or this trip to Ghana. And I knew that there are places that are so um anti-trans, anti LGBT and anti-gay. And there was just this refusal, I remember bringing it up to my now ex-mentor, and I remember bringing it up, and there was just a refusal to talk about the complicated nature of this. It just wasn’t a thing that anybody wanted to think about at the time. And the anti-trans and gay stuff, when it comes to it happening to people in Africa or coming from people who are in Africa, in West Africa, it really just creates like this kind of social and political loneliness. Is I think that’s what I want to say, because I think that when things like this happen, we see that there’s really no place for Black trans people, Black visibly queer people to go. And it also feels like if Black cis heterosexual people have a place to go, that those Black, queer and trans people will be left. It when that truth is underlying any type of movement, work or ideas or thinking or imagining about futures, it’s really hard to create actual collective family, familial, communal spaces and ideas, if somebody in the back of their head knows that, oh I’ll, I’ll dip and leave you in this nation state that’s toxic, or I will definitely sacrifice your well-being or put your well-being in jeopardy in order to get this fantasy of the return acquired. I think it’s so necessary for us to to talk about, uh trans things as Black people. I feel like I’m stretching a lot of different things and connecting a lot of different things that maybe don’t seem super similar, but they are to me. I think that even when I see like Ts Madison arguing with a Jess Hilarious. And there being so much hatred and vitriol, not just at Ts Madison, who is a who’s a [?] and who is a comedian and, you know, puts herself in a certain situation to be criticized or or to be or to be engaged with in a certain way. But there is just vitriol to the trans community. There’s hatred there. There’s hatred towards queer people. Um. There is a dismissiveness of our Blackness in a lot of those spaces. I remember when I first initially met DeRay, um I had no idea DeRay was a gay queer, any of those different things. And I don’t think that was by the fault of DeRay. But I also think that was the fault of the system surrounding DeRay. That if you’re in a leadership role, that we’re going to project heterosexuality onto you. And I think that’s strange to me. And I don’t know, like, how do we imagine Black futures? How do we imagine Black power? How do we imagine any of these different things if we’re not willing to seriously sit down and say, this is a problem. There are people who hate this identity. There are people who are creating um Katt Williams that that was what I was thinking about. Sorry, y’all, but the um, Katt Williams has just came out and basically theorized, if we want to call it that that trans people worship the devil and that they’re demons. And Katt Williams as we know is a super powerful, influential figure. We can’t lie about those numbers. We can’t lie about what happened when he went on Shannon Sharpe and how many people view viewed him, and and how many people see him as this beacon of of unfiltered straight talk, you know what I mean? And and tell it like it is talking. Then we have to talk about Dave Chappelle and what Dave Chappelle has been saying in every single Netflix special as well. This is a problem. And this type of rhetoric and this type of speech creates brutality and murders, you know? So those are a lot of different, fragmented thoughts that I had on this that I wasn’t able to create like a whole quote of wisdom with it. But I wanted to just give out those different things where this is a big deal. You know. This to me this is one of the things to focus on for our generation when it comes to um Black liberation and Black power and Black advancement is queer inclusiveness, trans inclusiveness, and the knowledge of African queerness and ancient African queerness. Um. To me, that’s it’s just paramount for us to really soak that in and for this kind of ignorance not to be passed down to another generation because we really can’t afford it too. You know? 


Kaya Henderson: I’ll just provide a brief update, and then I want to respond to the issue that you’re raising. But 45 minutes or so ago, another article came out where Ghana’s Finance ministry has urged the president not to sign the anti-LGBTQ bill. 


Myles E. Johnson: They passed it. 


–passed by Parliament last week because they about to get hit in the pocketbook, baby. He says and this is unprecedented, the Finance Ministry does not intervene publicly in stuff. This is unprecedented. But the Finance Minister has said that Ghana could lose $3.8 billion in World Bank funding over the next five to six years because of this bill. Ghana is currently suffering a major economic crisis and last year it got a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. But uh because these values do not align with the IMF and the World Bank and their priorities around diversity and whatnot, they have the right to withhold money. In fact, last year, the World Bank freezed new loans to Uganda because of its anti-LGBTQ legislation, which is even worse than what was passed in Ghana. This year alone, Ghana could lose about $850 million in support um which will negatively impact the already struggling economy. And so it is interesting to watch who has influence in these things. But um they about to get hit in the pocketbook, which might change everything. What this raised from your provocation around, you know, everybody going to Ghana, the year of the return. We’re reclaiming our heritage and whatnot, but we’re not taking everybody with us reminded me of Fannie Lou Hamer’s quote from a speech that she delivered in 1971 where she said, nobody’s free until everybody’s free. And so we have to reject the notion of rugged individualism that America teaches us. As long as I got mine, I’m good. As long as I can afford to go to Ghana and I can connect with the ancestors and I can reclaim this, you know, heritage, then we’re good. No, no if our brothers and sisters can’t go, then we ain’t free. And I think I talk a lot about how America has desensitized us to our collective nature. Um. African communities are collective. Black communities in America are collective we our our our liberation is bound up in one another. And I think being here so long and listening to these other folks have taught us that that’s not the case, but it is the case. And so we have a responsibility to everybody in our community to make sure that we are, you know, pulling back our money. If it I mean this to me, for all of the Black Americans who are talking about, I’m moving to Ghana, right? This is a moment to stop and say, what am I supporting? What am I really moving to? I’m moving away from America because of it’s laws and the way it treats Black people. But I’m going to move to a country that treats Black people this way like, nah, we got to square some circles here, friends. Um. Same thing with my all my people moving to Portugal. And like, we gotta interrogate the decisions that we’re making because it is absolutely true that we got to stand together if we all going to get free. 


DeRay Mckesson: I went to Ghana during the first year of the return. It was great and so many people have continued to go and I was frankly shocked by this because I really thought that Ghana was more progressive and so I was saddened by it. I was heartened to see the Black Americans who organized the year of the return post a letter in solidarity, being like we have not forgotten about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters here or in Ghana. And will when they called on the president to not do this, so [?] posted a letter. But it was a lot of people. I saw it because [?] posted it, and she has like an appointment from the president of Ghana to help bridge the gap and all this stuff. And I was like, thank you for using your your platform to fight against this. And not only back channel, I’m sure [?] has been working it behind the scenes, but it was important to me that there was a public statement that all of these Black people who signed it who, like, showed, Kaya I actually didn’t see this message about that from the finance minister until you just said it. So shout out to him, because, you know, I just it’s such a wild thing to do. It’s like also so unnecessary. Like you’re like of all the things Ghana gotta fix. It’s a lot going on in Ghana. Gay people really are not the top 2000 issues, not the top 20,000 issues at all going on in Ghana. So so just wow. My news is actually about San Francisco. So you probably remember that in San Francisco there was a progressive DA. His name was Chesa Boudin. He got elected. He was like you know, we not sending everybody to prison and jail. He was great on rehabilitation. He was like just a good guy, like still a prosecutor. So, you know, part of that job is to lock people up. But he was like, we’ve been doing it wrong. He wasn’t a tough on crime person. And he really, to his credit, pushed back on the mayor of San Francisco and the tech crowd, who was literally like, lock everybody up. So when they said that, you know, one of the reasons why Rite Aid and whatever had to move out of San Francisco was because of organized retail theft. He was one of the first people that was like mmm yeah I think we might be fearmongering. Like if you remember when, you know, there was a tech guy who got killed, like there’s all this stuff where he was sort of pushing that like lets wait and lets figure out. And you know, there were a lot of things that came out. And he was right. Right? Like, you know, I even think about recently, I don’t even know if he was the prosecutor then. But do you remember when the tech guy who helped start Cash App got killed and it was this whole community, his whole thing about the assumption was like a Black person had [?], and it was like, no, it was a drug deal. This was not crazy community who kill somebody. I say all that to say that he got removed in a recall and they put in a Black woman who has been a nightmare, and the mayor is also a Black woman. She has been a nightmare. And they are tough on crime. They won’t prosecute the police like they’re really intense. And you know what happened, is that crime increased. Crime did not go down. They put all these crazy policies in. So that’s the old news. The new news is that a group of police officer adjacent people have started a court watching group. And they’re like, you know, we are actually targeting the judges now. So they are working to get a set of judges who they think are too lenient and will not lock everybody up. They’re trying to get them removed from the bench, and they are gunning for these judges. They are trying to gun for the judges that have released people on their own recognizance. So remember, when you get arrested, they can either detain you because they think you’re like a threat to society, or they can say, you know, go home and just come back for a court case. Come back for your court case. They want to stop that. These this group, this like nonprofit that is calling themselves like court watchers and da da da they are now and this is like the first organized version of this I’ve seen on the right. They are trying to remove judges who show any leniency, who show any idea of compassion. And let me tell you, you know, I’ve got a lot of experience with the criminal justice system. Even the most progressive judges are like, uh I mean, only but [?] like, there’s a limit to anybody’s progressiveness inside the judicial system. So when they’re choosing not to like send you to jail for 100 years, it really is because they think they’re like, okay, that’s a little wild. So the idea that they want to unelect these judges and put in judges who will just be tough on people is so infuriating. Not only because tougher sentences don’t deter people, but also because San Francisco is the lay is there is no better case study for wealth inequality than San Francisco. You have some of the richest people who have ever been alive in the tech community in San Francisco, who will buy the house next to them, who will buy whole neighborhoods because they just can afford it. And then you have some of the poorest people literally anywhere up next to them. I’m not confused by crime. I’m not confused by, like what happens when you have obscene wealth and people who make $7,000 a year, $10,000 a year, fighting for resources. That doesn’t confuse me at all. And more prison is not the thing that’s gonna fix that. So I wanted to bring it here because I just had not, it was surprising to me to see this right on crime approach that was arguing against judges discretion, which used to be sort of one of their arguments. And let’s be clear, white people benefit far more than Black people with judges discretion. 


Myles E. Johnson: I think everything that you said was right DeRay. And then the only thing I want to add, because I feel like it’s just important to highlight, is the limits of representational politics. You know, I think highlighting that, you know, these are Black women. I think it’s always important to remind people that anybody can be the face of, of conservative, far right um domination. It doesn’t have to look like how we think it’s supposed to look like. And I think specifically in this case, we see how people are utilized in order to make people feel more comfortable with a conservative plan or with a plan that is going to essentially criminalize poverty and Black folks and people who are experiencing all types of injustice because of the poverty discussion that’s happening in San Francisco. 


Kaya Henderson: Thanks for bringing this to the podcast DeRay. Two thoughts for me. One is just about how money works in this country. And at some point, money was working all to fund progressive criminal justice efforts. Um. And, you know, I guess because in response to crime rates or whatever money is now working to, to support conservative criminal justice uh perspectives. And I do think that it is pretty reprehensible that some of the richest people in America are funding the recall efforts of public servants who are charged to do the most objective job possible in enforcing the laws of our country um in a way that makes sense for people. And so um, it gave me a weird feeling that these Bay area billionaires are bankrolling this thing. That ain’t right. Um. The second thing that it made me think about is of, I mean, of course. So first let me just say I agree with you absolutely on just how wrong this is. But the second thing that it made me think about is the right’s ability to like this is just a strategic observation. The right’s ability to take a strategy, even a strategy of their opponents and turn it around for themselves and scale. Like scale, this is not just happening in San Francisco. Um. Here in Washington, DC, the, the city council member who chairs the, I don’t know, Judiciary Committee, Charles Allen, who is widely seen as bringing in very progressive, criminal justice laws and legislation, is now being attacked and potentially recalled by a bunch of Republicans. So this thing is happening not just in San Francisco or in DC. This is the playbook. They figure out a strategy, and then they spread it across the country pretty quickly. And, you know, in a don’t hate the play or hate the game. I wonder what would it take for progressive criminal reformists to to replicate the, the, to not replicate the strategy, I understand that the strategy started as a progressive strategy, but how do we get our scaling potential um up our scaling capacity up because they are beating us on this. And so what do we do? I you know, I think about some of the work that you are doing here in DeRay on on Criminal Justice in Washington, DC. And instead of people coming together, people are fighting over who is the one that is leading the charge and blah, blah, blah, when somehow I know that the right get themselves in line and start marching in the same direction and see success in their strategies. And so I just wonder, one like when we see stuff like this, how come we can’t get ourselves together and scale and appropriately respond or even be on offensive against some of these things? 


DeRay Mckesson: It is interesting too, you’re right about the about the money is that the left trickles out the money, the right pours it. 


Kaya Henderson: Mmm. 


DeRay Mckesson: And in one moment, the right will it’ll be like $30 million dollars [?] and you’re like what? Whereas on the left, it’s like $20,000 to fight the thing. You’re like, okay, we can make 20,000 worth. But on the right, it’s like from day one is on TV and radio and you’re like, and that is just hard to. Even the best organizing, that is hard to fight, you know what I mean? I even think about what we’re doing up against in DC, and it’s the Democrats. But like Mayor Bowser is straight up lying to people. Like she just is being dishonest. And it is even hard to like it’s hard to go up against the state because she’s rolling out this official memo from the mayor and you’re like, that is just not true. It is like she is saying things that are untrue and it is hard to fight. It is hard to fight back. But the right definitely pours money and the left trickles it. It’s hard. [music break]


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




Kaya Henderson: Speaking about people pouring money. My news takes us to Trump world. And again it offends me that I, that I spend this much time thinking about this man. But um there was an article in the Washington Post. An analysis, actually um by the Washington Post fact checker that I just thought was interesting and I thought was worth a reminder because I think sometimes we forget. Um. So Mr. Trump was at a Black conservative Federation gala in Columbia, South Carolina on February 23rd. Mmm. I would have liked to be in that room and see who’s in there. Um. And here is what he said to the conservative Blacks in South Carolina. He says, unlike racist Joe Biden, I have spent my entire life working hand in hand with Black Americans to create jobs, to build buildings, to invest in our communities, our communities? And expand opportunities and freedom for citizens of every race, religion ,and color. I built a lot of buildings. I want to tell you, a Black worker is a great worker. You’ve done an incredible job. That’s what Mr. Trump said to the to the Blacks. 


Myles E. Johnson: That’s so racist. [laugh] Oh my God. 


Kaya Henderson: Um. And so, you know, he claims all along that he’s done more for Black Americans than any other president. He often points to uh the low Black unemployment rate during his administration. Um. Just as a fact check, the Black unemployment rate is actually lower under President Biden than it was under Trump. He talks about increased funding for HBCUs under his administration, except he didn’t do that. That was a congressional initiative. But, why stand in the way when taking credit is free. Um. And then he talks about the passage of Opportunity Zone programs. And so the Washington Post was like, well, let’s take a look down memory lane and figure out, has Mr. Trump been a champion for for Black people? And the answer, at least in three cases that they cite are no, no, no no no no no. And it starts in 1973 with a 27 year old Donald Trump working at the Trump Organization. When the Justice Department, the United States Justice Department sued the Trumps in federal court for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act in their management of 39 buildings. The Human Rights Commission sent Black people and white people into the Trump buildings to rent apartments. White people could easily rent, Black people were told there was nothing available and their applications were marked C for colored. In 1973 we weren’t even using the word colored anymore. But, you know, and so during the case, Donald Trump was the representative for the Trump Organization, and he told another lawyer, you know, you don’t want to live with them either. This is what he told the Justice Department lawyers. So not even a lawyer on his own team, the opposition lawyer. The suit was settled out of court in 1975. The Trump company was required to share all apartment vacancies with the New York Urban League and to advertise in the Amsterdam News, and they still weren’t renting to Black people. So again, in 1978, the Justice Department charged the Trump Organization with being in breach of the agreement by continuing to discriminate against Black people. Case drags on until 1982 and when Mr. Trump became president in 2016, guess what he did? His administration scaled back their housing laws, including the 1968 Fair Housing Act. That is what I call working hand in hand with Black people, right? Wrong. Um. 1989, most people know this. The Central Park five, after five Black and Latino teenagers were accused in a brutal attack of a white woman in Central Park. Mr. Trump, private citizen, none of your business took out full page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for criminals of every age, despite the fact that the Central Park Five were exonerated and they thankfully got a $41 million wrongful conviction settlement. Not only did Mr. Trump not apologize, but he called their settlement a disgrace. And then there is how he talks about his Black workers, right? He says Black workers are good workers. Well, according to former employees, Trump has said that laziness is a trait in Blacks. On Black accountants he says Black guys counting my money, I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys who wear yarmulkes. Well, apparently we’re not the only people who he has issues with so I just say all of that to say, you know. For all of y’all–


Myles E. Johnson: Uh Uh. That anti-semetic remark really took me out. I’m sorry. 


Kaya Henderson: Surprised are we? I mean– 


Myles E. Johnson: Not surprised. But that was just so um– 


Kaya Henderson: Told y’all last week, they let the Nazis to the party. What do you think this is? So I brought this to the podcast because it would. I wanted to remind people that this man has been who he is from jump. He gonna be who he is. And I cram to understand why all of these Black people are somehow finding community with him when he clearly don’t want nothing to do with us. He does not want us to rent his apartments. He does not care when we are wrongfully convicted. He has all kinds of things to say about Black workers, and he, contrary to his own belief, has not been the best president for Black people um in history. So I thought I’d just leave that here and see what you all thought. 


Myles E. Johnson: I think my first thing is, and maybe I’m I’m thinking about this prematurely because we, you know, we’re in the election year. But the first thing that comes to my mind is if Black conservative folks are able to rally around or find harmony with Trump, that means anybody a little bit saner is a shoo in. 


Kaya Henderson: That’s what Nikki Haley is counting on. 


Myles E. Johnson: You know, like if you’re able to just transcend all of Trump’s B.S., that means somebody else with half of the trouble that Trump has made, which is not hard to do, you could just stand still and not get into the trouble that Trump has gotten into. He’s gone out of his way to be a white supremacist throughout his career and throughout his um public reputation. So that means that a lot of people who are conservative are going to have a really easy time with Black conservatives if Trump is making advancement. So that’s what is the scariest thing to me. Also, I think there’s something to Black conservatism. What happened in Ghana, what’s happening in Ghana? Um. And these like kind of cultural wars around gender, these cultural wars around sexuality. Um. There’s kind of this weaponization turning woke into a pejorative and turning into anything that is about progressive politics. I think there’s something too, people finding political alignment based off of a hatred of trans folks, a hatred of LGBT folks. I have a feeling that that’s really powerful when and when we think about Black folks and conservatism today, is that a lot of this stuff is really around, like anti LGBT things. And last thing I’ll say too, from what DeRay was saying around these black women prosecutors, and even when I think about when um Hillary Clinton was getting under fire about her super predator remarks and then you turn around and look and see that a lot of the people who were wanting um certain types of laws reinstated were Black folks, there’s something happening. And I’m less scared about this election cycle. I’m more scared about the next one. I’m more concerned about what somebody who is more of sound mind, more of a cleaner reputation, will be able to do with the Black conservative community if Trump is able to make all this headway. 


Kaya Henderson: It’s not just Black conservatives, right? This is also why he made y’all some sneakers. This is also why he, you know, is talking about how the Black community can relate to him because he’s being indicted. And all of this jazz, like this is a full frontal attack friends and Black men are the target. 


Myles E. Johnson: Well, to your point, Auntie Auntie Kaya,  what I’m trying to say. What what I’ve always tried to say is that Black people aren’t as progressive as we like to think. So when I’m saying Black conservative, I’m not just saying people who will go to what what you just named and and can go to a rally or go to um a convention or whatever they’re calling it, and go to this convention. I think that there are a lot of Black conservatives that have, up until today, voted Democrat, and I think that there is space to motivate them and shift them to voting conservative. Specifically, if we make the center of the arguments around rugged individualism, anti LGBT, anti-trans, and anti-gay things, that I think that there’s a lot of people who are conservatives who have just been forced to vote Democrat. So that’s a piece, too. And we see it even with I don’t want to use Kanye, but like the culture around Kanye, we see that there’s something there that’s not progressive. 


DeRay Mckesson: We’re fighting the crime bill in DC and what’s been interesting about it is the difference between what people say about it and what it says itself. And I’m like really interested now because I’m thinking like, what can turn the tide on Trump with people? And one of the things that Trump does really well is that the storytelling is what people buy into, and the storytelling like doesn’t match the facts. But the left has not figured out how to tell the facts in a way that don’t seem boring. And I’m interested, so even when you talk about Kaya, like the when you read the quote about him being like, I don’t want Black people touching my money da da da like that immediately made me think of like and not just showing people the quotes, but I’d love to like take the this is what I think about him out of the narrative for people because it really does you know, I’ve heard people be like, at least he telling the truth and da da. And you’re like, y’all this is nuts. You know? 


Myles E. Johnson: We need to get a AI voice that sounds like Trump and have him then repeat them quotes. So in people’s heads, they hear it. 


Kaya Henderson: You know what they I can’t remember I saw it on online this weekend, but um some comedian that does like on the street stuff was pranking Trump supporters. Right. And so they’d be like, hey, you know, it just came out that President Biden had an affair with this woman. You know, she was a sex worker, and he ended up paying her $30,000 to keep it hush. Right. Like, what do you think about that? And then people are like, I knew it. You know, we know Biden is trash, blah, blah, blah. And then they’re like, oh no, wait, I said Biden. I meant Trump. Like, this is Trump. And they’re like, oh, you mean Stormy Daniels? Well, I mean, that happens like my father had affairs. I’m still going to vote for him, blah, blah, blah, whatever, whatever. And they just, like, kept playing out these, these narratives that were Trump narratives. But they put Biden’s name in. And people, these people like, went hard on Biden and then literally in like the same breath ten seconds later would be like, oh, but I mean, he didn’t really mean that and da da da. And so I think even when you have the narratives, like you’re, you’re thinking about appealing to people’s heads DeRay and logic and reason. And I think what we’ve learned about this is this is an unreasonable situation. Like people are not thinking with their heads because there’s no way that you could condemn something in one second. And then once you find out it’s a different person, you just flip like, that’s not head, that’s heart, that’s crazy. That’s I don’t know what it is, but I think the narrative is really important. But I don’t think that it’s enough. I think that people are not responding to logic and reason, and that is why it’s hard for the left, because the left is a logical, reasonable data. I mean, nobody is completely. But the left prides itself on being logical, reasonable, data driven, whatever, whatever. And that ain’t what the fight is right now. 


Myles E. Johnson: It’s cultural, it’s nebulous. It’s it’s whatever is motivating and making people feel good. Even if you don’t, there’s something that’s making people feel good when they hear a good Dave Chappelle uh, or a bad Dave Chappelle trans joke. They feel good about it. And when people hear Roseanne Barr say certain things and then they like and they go, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, that same thing Trump is able to galvanize in people and that’s that’s dare I say that’s like spiritual, that’s emotional, that’s psychological. 


Kaya Henderson: Well, friends, as we shared last week, just because February is over does not mean that we are going to stop reading Black books. We are still in the Blackest book clubs because, as Myles shared earlier, reading is fundamental friends. And we are excited to lift up authors that you might not know, books that you might not know, topics that you might not know. And this week, um I’m asking my colleagues to think about an author that you would love to interview on the podcast, and which of their books would you like to discuss and why? And if you have not already seen, you can head to the website. Um. All of our book choices are there. We also have recommendations for books for children and young adults, ages kindergarten to teenagers. And, we want everybody reading and Black February is the kickoff for Black History year as far as I’m concerned. So come on and keep reading with us. Y’all have had a little bit of time to think. So Myles, I’m gonna ask you to get started. Which Black author would you love to interview and which of their books would you like to discuss? 


Myles E. Johnson: I think the Black author I would most love to interview would be La Marr Jurelle Bruce. Um. I would love to discuss How to go mad without losing your mind. Um. The reason behind that is because and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, I think, for a really long time. I mean, since the ’70s. But, you know, since I’ve been born, there’s been this kind of like promotion of, like, Black insert positive adjective. So Black is beautiful. Black excellence, Black pride, Black girl joy, Black boy all these different things. And what I’m interested about, what La Marr Jurelle Bruce has was able to accomplish was take something like madness, take something that’s ugly, take something that is not and, not necessarily the warmest thing and really assert that this is also a part of Black genius. And this is also a part of what has helped Black people um move through these extremely complicated and layered uh political realities that we’ve experienced. And it made me think about what kind of Black is valuable. I think that there’s something too when anytime you have to see a Black person, you have to like how they sound or like how they look. I think there’s something to what he was saying around like Nina Simone, what he was saying about Sun Ra. So, like the when I think about Nina Simone’s anger when she was on the stage of the um Summer of soul and how she says, are you ready for um Black to break white things and how she how she was fiery and she was scary. And then when I think about Sun Ra and some, some songs being um, borderline for a lot of people, this free jazz music being like, unlistenable to some people. That is totally subversive to the angelic voices of Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin and, and um, and the melodies of um, that we came to be accustomed to some of the, some of our, jazz greats, namely, I think about like, even like Charlie Parker and stuff of being like, oh, no, my Black sound is not here to make you feel okay and bring harmony. It’s not this lullaby that summertime was and it’s not Porgy and Bess. This it’s mad and it’s going wild. And I’m going to get it out of my head. So it can go into A, the world and get outside of me. And I just think that was so interesting. Even last night I um, tweeted out, you know, we all can’t be our ancestor’s wildest dreams. Some of us have to be living our ancestor’s wildest nightmares, some of some of what I’m seeing, has to be something that would put fear in our hearts if we if we told our ancestors 100, 200, 300, 400, thousands of years later, this is the reality that your great great, great, great great great grandchildren would be um living with. And I think that to not think about stuff like that is doing us a disservice, as Black folks, to always think in the sun. I think sometimes we have to think lunar, and we have to think in the moon, and we have to think in the darkness. And I think that we have the capacity to do it, because we’ve been given so much terror and darkness that we actually have the muscle to go there. And I think, um man, this book goes there like and so I would just love to wax poetic and just listen and talk to him about everything. [laugh]


Kaya Henderson: That is a very interesting perspective, like it ain’t all light, there is dark. And how do we make room for the dark and examine the dark and, and harness the energy? Um. And people have harnessed the energy to create art and resistance and whatnot. And um huh I never heard of this book, love the title. Thank you for bringing it to the podcast and um helping us to think about, I mean, the cover of the book is amazing. Madness and Black radical creativity. Come on, I’m here for it. DeRay, what author would you like to interview? 


DeRay Mckesson: Uh. You know, this is sort of cheating because I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been able to interview almost all of them, but um The children of blood and bone, the series I thought was incredible. Written by Tomi Adeyemi. Um. There’s a new book coming out, and I actually want to so I want to talk to you about the new book. I have not read the new book, but because the the I think it’s the final book in the trilogy, I want to talk to her about what it was like building a Black world. That’s what I want to talk to her about. I want to read the new book, and she’s like, on my list to see if we can get because I’m just like, what did you think about? What did you not include? What did you borrow from? What about our ancestors are in the book and the world you created? Less about the books actually and more about the world, like less about the moments in the book and more about like, how did you create this world? What did that look like? So yeah, I’m excited. 


Kaya Henderson: Can you say a little bit more about what a Black world might look like for people who haven’t read? 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. So it’s like a um, it’s sort of like a hero hero trilogy. Uh. And the people are Black, and I don’t want to give too much away because you should read it. But the first two books out, loved them, they did extremely well. And there was a cliffhanger in the second book, as you can imagine. And I’m just like, I’m I’m curious about what happens in the world, but I’m super curious about the choices she made. And what made me think about her is I, you know, I don’t know if there’s another author who I thought was as intentional as Toni Morrison was about creating a Black world in her books. Like it was just so it wasn’t just Black, it was intentionally Black. And she understood it as part of her work to like, name that intention in her essays and da da da, so there are just not a lot of Black fantasy writers or, you know, like there are some science fiction writers who do really good work, but this isn’t really science fiction. This is more fantasy to me. And they’re just not really bestseller Black fantasy novels like this. I mean, this book really did take off. And that to me, science fiction to me is like, how do you how do you create a future? Which is also interesting, but this is fantasy. And like, what was it like to create that Black fantastical world? I want to know more about. 


Kaya Henderson: I read The Children of Blood and Bone and like, if you like it is it is mythology. It is magic. It is teenagers. It is power. It is like all and it is ancestral and historical and all of those things. And it really reminds me of like a Black and elevated version of like a Harry Potter esque kind of thing, right? Like J.K. Rowling imagined a magical world that no and like people are in love with it because this is a world that, you know, we never even thought about. This is that on steroids boo like, this is Black magic. This is, you know, saving the world. This is, you know, young people who have agency and like, I mean, this is all of the things. And so it is like you would have to think like, J.K. how did you imagine this totally like world. Like this world with different food, different everything da da da. Tomi like you went above and beyond, talk to us about like where this came from in your head. And, girl, what do you eat for breakfast? Because we need some of that.


Myles E. Johnson: [laugh] And I think it’s one of those things too where people um I love when fantasy and things based in like fantasy also get you into curious about realities. And I think that is like something that is oftentimes unique to like Black writers is that they often like, put our own history, our own mythologies, our own folklore inside of it. Speaking of Toni Morrison, that’s something that she was good at. It gets you more curious about where you come from. So it’s not just strictly fantasy and abracadabra, it’s like, oh no, this your great grandmother might actually have been doing some of these roots that are in this book. 


Kaya Henderson: So the author who I would like to interview, um and the book that I would like to discuss is Hunger by Roxane Gay, and um I chose this book because I am a big girl, and that is as much of my identity as being Black or as being a woman. And it impacts me every single day. And I see the world very differently um than people who are not big. And um Hunger is really the first time that I’ve seen anybody speak, really anybody like who looks like me and, and whatnot speak really candidly about obesity, um about self-image, about um about desire, about relationships. Um. And I think we need to be having this conversation more out in the open. I know that um there are conversations that are being had amongst friendship circles or in book clubs or, amongst, you know, one on one amongst friends. And then there are lots of conversations that are not happening. And Roxane just put it out there. She’s like, look, I’ve been fat my whole life. Here’s the reasons why I’ve used food to self-medicate. These things have happened to me. Here’s how I felt about myself. We just don’t have that that candid conversation. I think the closest that we’ve come to it, and I think it’s interesting that we’re talking about this at this particular time, because I think the the closest we’ve come to it is the conversation about Oprah and her weight. Right. And if you saw last week Oprah stepped down from the Weight Watchers board because she’s on to weight loss drugs now and feels like she can’t authentically or whatever, they broke up because she on the weight loss drugs. Right. And I think there’s a whole conversation about about weight and what we think about fat shaming and willpower that these new drugs are saying is actually not true. And we’re not the way we’re having the conversation publicly. I was listening I was watching the today show last week, um where this slim white woman was just talking about Oprah stepping down and how it was inauthentic for her to be on the weight loss drugs. And I was like, child everybody in Hollywood is on the weight loss drugs, and everybody in Hollywood has gotten their teeth fixed, and everybody in Hollywood has gotten their faces lifted and whatnot. And we act like these people are just, you know, beautiful and wonderful and doing their things, when in fact, there’s a whole lot of body image stuff going on that we’re not talking about. We’re not talking about little girls who are, you know, obsessed with skin care stuff that is actually not good for them because [laugh] like but but the way we do beauty and the way Roxane Gay has unapologetically sort of owned her, her situation and her narrative and brought this conversation um into the public space um makes me want to ask her, um how she got that courage. Because this is not something that people really want to talk about. Um. And if they do, they want to talk about it in a particular way. And she doesn’t talk about it in Hunger, the way people want to talk about it. So um, I would I want to I want to meet Roxane Gay, and I want to ask her some questions on the podcast y’all.


DeRay Mckesson:  I need to read that, I’ve only heard good things about it, but I’ve never read it. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah, it reminds me of um Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, which kind of, like, goes through goes through similar things. Um. And, yeah, I think I think there’s so much like room to I, I would love for y’all to talk about it too, because I also, I think it’s interesting too because I I was born in Long Island, but I grew up most of my life in Georgia. Right? So weight has been such a weird thing because, you know, I’m a thick Georgia. I’m a fat in New York. [laughter] And like and I think that it wasn’t until like my mid 20s that I kind of figured out, like, okay, this is a, this is a thing thing, you know, like there’s just something to Black folks and our experience of weight and the medical industry and esthetics that just has not always aligned with the white mainstream. And I’m just um, I would just be so curious about hearing you and Roxane Gay talk about those things. 


DeRay Mckesson: Let’s set it up. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Can we set it up? I love the sense of possibility DeRay, yes. Let us set it up. Call your people. 


DeRay Mckesson: Let’s DM– 


Kaya Henderson: Call– 


DeRay Mckesson: –Roxane. Let’s call Roxane. 


Kaya Henderson: Call your people. DM Roxanne. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: And see if she’ll talk to us. That would be fantastic. And this, my friends, is The Power of the Blackest Book Club, where we get to learn together, we get to dream together, and we get to make it happen. All because of Black authors and Black um books. And so join us next time, um when we discuss another set of books that we love and are interested in and that we’ve learned from on the Blackest Book Club. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Don’t forget to follow us at @crookedmedia on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. And if you enjoyed this episode of Pod Save the People, consider dropping us a review on your favorite podcast app and we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. [music break]