The Great Class Collapse | Crooked Media
April 02, 2024
Pod Save The People
The Great Class Collapse

In This Episode

Biden’s historical fundraising effort, Trump aka the Bible salesman, white supremacists’ government overthrow, the history of Renaissance era rent parties, Sean Combs ongoing abuse allegations, and a painter’s proclamation of rest as a revolutionary act.


God Bless the USA Bible

When White supremacists overthrew a government

Biden’s Fundraiser With Obama and Clinton Nets a Record High $25 Million, Campaign Says

The Rent Was Too High So They Threw a Party

Danielle Mckinney, the Painter Depicting Black Women Revelling in Rest

He was a hip-hop legend. Now, abuse allegations engulf Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs




[AD BREAK] [music break]


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it’s me, Kaya, and Myles and De’Ara talking about the news that you didn’t hear from the past week with regard to race, justice and Blackness. And we talk about everything from the recent presidential candidate fundraising to some reconstruction news to Beyoncé to a host of things. Here we go. 




De’Ara Balenger: Family, welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. We are all in the house this morning. Excited to be with you. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger. 


Myles E. Johnson: [?], my name is Myles E. Johnson, and you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and uh TikTok on @pharaohrapture. [has been speaking with a strange accent]


Kaya Henderson: What? 


Myles E. Johnson: That’s my Cowboy Carter Southern voice. 


Kaya Henderson: Oh my soul, you and all of the Black girls at the mall walking around with their cowboy hats. I’m Kaya Henderson, and you can find me at @HendersonKaya on Twitter. 


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


De’Ara Balenger: I don’t know why my friends and colleagues here want me to lead with Trump selling Bibles on Easter morning, but that’s what we’re leading with. And I can’t believe I’m saying Trump and Bible in the same sentence. 


Kaya Henderson: I really had to look it up because I saw it on Saturday Night Live last night, and I thought for sure it was just a spoof. 


DeRay Mckesson: You thought it was a joke?


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. I didn’t know it was real. 


De’Ara Balenger: But also for $59.99, like, he’s just like a walking infomercial. I can’t. Is this part of raising money for these legal bills? Is that why he’s selling Bibles on the interwebs? 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. 


Myles E. Johnson: Is there any photos of this Bible and can we describe it to the listening public? 


DeRay Mckesson: It is just described as a Bible that is um endorsed by Donald Trump. Um. I can show you–


Myles E. Johnson: Also, did he drop his own like, is he like King James Donald Trump like? 


De’Ara Balenger: Yeah, he’s dropping his own, his own Bible. All Americans need a Bible in their home. And I have many. It’s my favorite book, Trump said. 


DeRay Mckesson: Can you see it? 


Myles E. Johnson: Oh, I see it. 


De’Ara Balenger: I’m proud to endorse and encourage you to get this Bible. 


Myles E. Johnson: This looks like a leather Bible. It has an American flag on it. 


DeRay Mckesson: And of course, he got some Black people. Look at this. Where did these black people come from? 


De’Ara Balenger: It’s easy to read with large print. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. So that’s that’s the description. It’s a it’s a brown leather Bible with a with, with a American flag on it. What I think is interesting about this Bible, [laughter] about him selling this Bible is, for lack of better words, I don’t wanna say he knows what people want, but it’s like it just validates that everything that he’s doing is so calculated. Like, even as racist as it is or as um pandering as it is. It’s like now that he has to actually has to sell a thing there’s no mistake of who he’s trying to come for or what he thinks of people. So he told you what he thought about you when he gave you these sneakers, Blacks. He also is like telling you, oh, I know what y’all want, evangelical Christian people. Like, here’s a Bible. And I think sometimes when I, when I look at that picture of even Black people reading the Bible. I think that is more for the white view in public too. [laugh] There’s nothing that um tames and soothes a racist white American heart like seeing Black people get indoctrinated and their whole families crowded together over the Bible. That’s a old American tradition. 


DeRay Mckesson: What is interesting is I remember that this Bible also features a copy of the US Constitution, the bill of rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, and the handwritten chorus to God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood, whoever Lee Greenwood is. 


Myles E. Johnson: That don’t sound like separating church and state. 


DeRay Mckesson: The thing that I’m reminded of with the Bible is I’ll never forget, uh that there used to be a slave Bible, that there was a Bible that uh slave owners had that removed every instance of rebellion and rising up. And it was a tool of political control. There are only a few copies left in existence of the slave Bible, but the storytelling mechanism was always an important one for control. 


Kaya Henderson: That is lovely and intellectual. I am thinking about this man who is running for president selling sneakers and Bibles and what, like, are we at the swap meet? What’s going on? This is the American presidential election. What in the world, y’all? 


Myles E. Johnson: [?], what you got? 


De’Ara Balenger: My other favorite thing is when asked to share his favorite Bible verse in an interview with Bloomberg Politics in 2015, he goes, uh. 


Kaya Henderson: Oh Lord today. 


De’Ara Balenger: I wouldn’t want to get into it, because to me, that’s very personal. The Bible means a lot to me. 


DeRay Mckesson: [?]. 


De’Ara Balenger: I don’t want to get into specifics. Okay. You fool, you ain’t even reading this book. Are you kidding me? 


Kaya Henderson: That’s like Candace. That’s like Candace not being ready for the God is good. 


Myles E. Johnson: Right. 


Kaya Henderson: All the time. Good gracious. Mmm. 


De’Ara Balenger: Oh, Lord. All right, well, that’s enough about that. 


Kaya Henderson: Speaking of presidents, three presidents got together this week. 


De’Ara Balenger: Sure did. So President Biden, along with former President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, headlined a fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall, where they raised $25 million. So sort of like a historic fundraiser. Also it just looked like a fun night. Queen Latifah was there, Lizzo was there, Cynthia Erivo, and there was a bunch of white people there too performing, but those are the people I remember. [laughter] Um. But it just seemed like a great night for the Dems. And one thing that I will say, it’s just really been interesting to follow the coverage of this election, because it’s like even when the Dems have a great night, the media is still very much like, well, just remember, Hillary outraised Trump in ’16 and didn’t win. So all that to say, you know, there’s a presencing around– 


Kaya Henderson: Whatever, you need money to mount a presidential election. Let’s get this bag. 


De’Ara Balenger: Exactly. So that’s that is what they did so.


Myles E. Johnson: Well shout out to them, maybe y’all can split that some of that and give us a little stimulus, something I don’t know. [laughter] I’m like, why do y’all need all that money to beat Donald Trump? It’s a little embarrassing. Um. But wait, did Lizzo. So Lizzo was there. I [?]–


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: –because she was. She was on Instagram and she said that she quit. I don’t know if it’s a–


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. 


Myles E. Johnson: –real quit. 


De’Ara Balenger: I did see that too Myles. 


Myles E. Johnson: But she was on instagram saying she was quit quitting. So I’m like that’s an interesting weekend to have that you over here partying with Queen Latifah. And the first you know was was Kamala there too? 


De’Ara Balenger: I’m sure she was. 


Myles E. Johnson: Oh. 


De’Ara Balenger: She had to be. 


DeRay Mckesson: I don’t know. 


Myles E. Johnson: If you were over there partying with Barack and and Queen Latifah and stuff like that. And you get on the internet and Instagram to say that you quit. It sounds like refocus, sister. You’re in the you’re in the place to be. Don’t, real life IRL, not URL. 


Kaya Henderson: I felt really badly for, I read the thing and it touched my heart. Um. Because I do think that, you know, we forget sometimes that these are people who have real feelings. And, I mean, I felt her I don’t know what it’s like to be a whole celebrity. I know a little bit about being in the public eye, and people say all kinds of things and do all kinds of things, and after a while it gets to you. So I am sending Lizzo a virtual hug. I hope she doesn’t quit. We need her. And yeah, that’s my kindness this Easter Sunday morning. 


Myles E. Johnson: I don’t know. [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: If you don’t want to be kind on Jesus Super Bowl Sunday, that’s your business. 


De’Ara Balenger: Just I’m just like, yes, but girl, don’t hit nobody with that flute, girl. Just just play the flute. Don’t be tearing people up with it. 


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya’s holding it down. 


Myles E. Johnson: We also have to remember that Jesus. The reason why we have Easter is because Jesus, who had a, had a mean public. Meaner than Instagram comments. Right? And then so that’s the reason why he had to rise. Um. I mean, I really do love Lizzo. I think her last album was really just, like, great and like, some of the best pop music that has come out. And I think that she’s so super talented. I think I’m just really cur– and this is like a broad stroke comment that, that so I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just thinking about Lizzo. I just don’t really understand the motivation as an artist. So I’m not even just talking about as a celebrity, but the motivation as an artist to maybe create commentary around something and then be upset when that commentary works and then but it doesn’t go your way and, you know, I do not want to quote this person like they are um a cultural critic scholar. But she was right. But like even Azealia Banks had commented that Lizzo’s Instagram username is @Lizzobeeating. And I’m saying this as a chunky person myself. So I’m saying this as a fat person myself. So like your but if your Instagram titled Lizzo be eating and then when you were in the Met Gala, you came in Karl Lagerfeld, who was historically fatphobic, but then you went and you ate fries. It seems as though there is a type of performance art dynamic that you’re engaging with in order to keep public interest and also to create commentary. So I think that maybe we should, just as artists, be more prepared for what happens when you make those kind of commentaries. Or you could totally, like Lizzo said, change the subject matter and make it focus on just your music. But it seems like that was a tug of war that you were gladly playing with the public. So I think that’s how come this note just hit me a little bit weird, cause I’m like, sister, but you liked it, and it’s okay because I’m a I’m a Gaga fan. I’m a Madonna fan. I’m a, somebody who is disrupting public discourse with their art, with their fashion and their commentary. I’m a fan of that. But you also have to be ready for what comes with that. And most people are not going to be ready for where you’re pushing culture. Most people are going to push back. 


Kaya Henderson: You’re right. I feel like this in in the Auntie chat. We’re having the same exact conversation with Amanda Seales, whose feelings are all hurt since people don’t like her and haven’t invited her to whatever and blah blah blah. 


Myles E. Johnson: What are the auntie’s saying? And what are their first and last names and where  do they work? [laughter]


Kaya Henderson: It’s a split jury it’s a split jury. Some people are very gracious towards her and and have the same feeling that I have towards Lizzo, which is, you know, two things can be true at once. You can be critical of the establishment and also want to be part of the establishment. And others are like, nah, not having this sis, you cut your teeth this way and so you gotta this is the way you gotta live. And so I think it represents the complexities of us as human beings, is all I’ll say, cause I think, you know, there’s room for both sides. How about that? Not in your world Myles, I know, but uh [laughing]


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah I do think and even Azealia pointed out she’s like, you did a famous thing where you like, were in a bathtub full of Skittles. And, like, this was a performance. Like, you invited people to comment in this way, and but it does make me sad. I do think that people have been mean to Lizzo. 


De’Ara Balenger: People are mean. 


DeRay Mckesson: Like and went from being, like, sort of an interesting commentary to just, like, mean. You know, like, I see, I wake up sometimes I’m like, what did y’all what did Lizzo do today? I’m like, what is, Lizzo ain’t even– 


Myles E. Johnson: Right. 


DeRay Mckesson: — done nothing today. 


Myles E. Johnson: Right. 


DeRay Mckesson: You’re mad it’s like, well, that is, I think just the internet being a negativity driven place. 


Myles E. Johnson: Absolutely. I just want to say one little thing about Amanda Seales. 10 seconds. [laughter] I don’t agree with the Amanda Seales commentary, just because I do think that, like so any point in time that I have like any type of like with very big air quotes “institutional powers,” so if I work at a big media company, if I work at a nonprofit that’s like for like umbrella Black trans people or alternative Black people, I think it’s that person’s responsibility to put away personal feelings when you’re doing something like that. I actually think it’s a integrity thing. I think it’s somebody shaping culture. And you have the tickets or the access to Essence, NAACP, BET Awards. I think that doing things because you don’t like how somebody speaks to somebody is really sheisty. And I think that that’s just not how it goes. And we can see this time and time again with white culture and how these kind of like objective, we always are talking about who gets invited and how come they got in, they got in or whatever when it comes to white events, I think the same thing should be happening, specifically Black legacy like acts and moments, because that just sounds wild to me. If you have somebody who’s like Amanda Seales who’s dissenting, who’s not invited or is being erased from ceremonies just because you don’t like how she talks. Like that, how many Black women do we know would not be included in certain moments in history if it was just about, do you agree with what she said in a given radio thing? 


Kaya Henderson: I think we have to be real about people and human nature. And when you wrong people or when you insult people or whatever, you can’t tell me my house is dirty and then be mad that I don’t invite you to my house. I don’t care how big my house is or how much money I have. It’s mine. And I think to expect differently. I think intellectually I can agree with you. Sure, that invitation will open the institution to the kind of critique that it needs and all of that. But you not coming to my house if you talk bad about me, that’s all. Call me petty. I’ll call it human. And I think we have to understand that that is part of how the game is played. This is not her first go around with this kind of stuff. And so I don’t know, right, wrong or otherwise. But I know that what happens when you’re labeled as difficult or whatever it means your work dries up. It means all kinds of things. And so I think cultural critique often has a significant price, and we can say it shouldn’t, but it does. And so that’s reality. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: The only thing I add is that, you know, Amanda had a great interview on the podcast. It was very cool to hear her talk about her stuff. And the similarity between this and Lizzo is that Amanda made a video about not being invited. That is true. Like people did not dig it up. People didn’t unearth it. Like she invited people into this conversation by making a video about it. And then it led to a conversation. And I do think that we have to be more I think it’s hard when you you frame the debate, you put something out, and then you get upset that people don’t agree with you or respond in ways that you can’t control. That is not how it goes. I can say that. So some of the most public things with Amanda, I think were things that we know about because she told us and that I think is a little different than if somebody had just sort of like taken a picture or been nosy or been trying to, like, start something. I do think that is different. 


Kaya Henderson: And in this week’s news, Beyoncé dropped Cowboy Carter. 


Myles E. Johnson: Hee haw. 


DeRay Mckesson: Woop woop woop woop. [celebratory sounds]


De’Ara Balenger: Not Yeehaw. [laughter]


Myles E. Johnson: Giddy up.


Kaya Henderson: I love how fast we have all gone country. I literally was at the mall yesterday and counted numerous Black girls walking around the mall with cowboy hats on. 


Myles E. Johnson: I reckon. 


DeRay Mckesson: Not I reckon. Oh, you know, my favorite thing that I saw, you know that song called Levi’s Jeans? Um. That’s on the album. So the album is 27 songs. If you have not listened to it, carve out some time. It is great. But, uh somebody made a really cool video about why they shout out Levi’s jeans. Because when Destiny’s Child was coming up, they could not get clothes from anybody. Which is why Miss Tina had to make them all. And the only brand that would work with them was Levi’s, which is why they always had on those low rise Levi’s jeans. 


De’Ara Balenger: They always had jeans stuff on.


DeRay Mckesson: In all in everything, because Levi’s was the only place that would actually give them clothes. And the song is an homage so that’s why Post Malone says something like, you don’t need designer. And she says, like, that is the subtext of the conversation. And I was like, come on. 


Myles E. Johnson: That’s really, really beautiful. 


Kaya Henderson: Y’all. There are so many nuggets in this. Are we gonna have a whole episode on this at some point? What are we going to do? 


Myles E. Johnson: We really should, because there’s so much to talk about and–


Kaya Henderson: A lot. 


Myles E. Johnson: There’s so many different like, connections that I think are really interesting that she’s made. But I think the only thing I can say in like, a really brief fashion is that, like, man, no matter what, Beyonce knows how to make an album and that’s what she’s here for. And I think sometimes when it comes to myself included, I think I can think about political stuff. I can think about why you didn’t do this, or this could smell better or this can smell worse or like what all these other things that don’t have nothing to do with Beyonce as the artist, as a musician. But when it comes to the art of making a narrative story via music, she has really mastered that and she’s still a student of that. And you can hear the influences of Prince, of Quincy Jones and really of um, people to me, who I’m going to go ahead and say it. But like when I think about like Miles Davis, when I think about when I listen to classical music, like Bach and stuff like that, really understanding taking somebody on a journey, how she starts, where she goes, how she set things up. It’s cinematic. So there’s really a directorial integrity in how she puts together music. And there’s really somebody um, once I can’t remember this person’s name, so I apologize. But somebody said that Beyonce is like a primary color, and she really is able to be blended with every other color, every other genre. And I really think that’s true. And I think she really mastered that. So when it comes to this music that’s in my ears. Oh saddle up. Take me to the rodeo. Hot damn hot dog. I’m in. I’m sold. I’m sold. 


DeRay Mckesson: Hot damn hot dog is hilarious. 


De’Ara Balenger: I’ve been in Houston for almost basically two weeks. I was in Houston. And it’s so interesting because I think people also don’t understand how country Houston is. Yes, the musical influence, country music, etc. but also just like Black cowboy culture in Houston and how in third ward, like the other day, I saw two beautiful, beautiful human beings, one with no shirt on on horses. 


Myles E. Johnson: Hold on. 


De’Ara Balenger: In third ward and third ward is like it is urbane. Okay, so it is. It is literally a neighborhood over from um, from downtown. And that’s where Beyonce grew up. So it was beautiful, I will say, to be in Houston when this album dropped, and also to just be so present in what she’s also trying to do. And I feel like this is true with Homecoming and Renaissance, all of them. When you’re really trying to elevate aspects of Black culture that, you know, sort of the white dominant industry, um has controlled the narrative around what our contribution has been, and she just comes and tells the truth about it. So go Beyonce. 


Kaya Henderson: Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. 


Myles E. Johnson: Reminds me like, really um I got invited to Texas by Solange during her When I get home era for a listening party, and I remember that being my first, like, experience in Texas, but like it being contextualized with that album. And I think Solange has a similar grasp on music making and like the art of creating like a whole album experience. Um. And it’s really beautiful to see. Like, I think there is with Cowboy Carter and When I Get Home. I think there’s a lot of synergy and parallel imageries that they’re creating. But of course Solange is like left of center, a little lunar avant garde. But um, I think there’s such like parallel energy in what they were creating and I really do love that these Black women are take making it their business to reclaim these things that have been whitewashed. And I think it’s just this is really brilliant what they’ve been doing. 


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




DeRay Mckesson: I’ll start with the news and mine is about the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, also known as the Wilmington Coup in Wilmington, North Carolina. I had no clue about this. Saw it online. [?] at a, a mini, not even a doc, but like a mini video on it. I guess the doc is 12 minutes and I read about it and it really did just it was like one of those things where I was like, gotta learn. So the end of reconstruction, as you know, there was unprecedented Black power, Black capital, wealth, Black organization, doctors, all this stuff. And in Wilmington, at the local government, white people were trying to take over. All of the government of North Carolina, they did a good job of taking over at the state level. But Wilmington still had three of the ten council people aldermen were Black. I remember the state of North Carolina sent four Black people to Congress during this era. And the white people put together an entire plan to disrupt that. They have it in writing where the white people were like they’re going to restrict the vote from Black people. They’re going to make sure that white people get all the jobs, like they still have record of this. And I say that because so many people think that when we talk about the historical things that we are embellishing, or that we are dramatizing history, or that there’s some conspiracy theory and shocker shocker, white supremacy is not a conspiracy theory. It is true, and we don’t need to embellish it. If anything, we probably don’t know. And this is what’s true about the Wilmington coup of 1898. We actually do not know the full extent of how many people were lost simply because there was bad recordkeeping. The way that the documentary opens is uh some older people whose families survived saying that the one thing you couldn’t ask about at the Wilmington Library was what happened in 1898. And that is because and the reason I wanted to bring it here is one of the key ways that they were able to completely force the whole city council to resign. They killed a host of Black people ranging in the hundreds. They ran Black people out of Wilmington to never come back. It was a majority Black city. North Carolina didn’t send another Black person to Congress for another 90 years after what they did in 1898. I say this because I was struck that the first piece of their plan was to destroy the Black newspaper. That to this day, if you go, there’s an empty plot of land. And that is where the Daily Record was, which was the newspaper record that disseminated a lot of information about what was happening. It was an organizing tool for Black people, and they burned it to the ground. They took pictures in front of it being burned to the ground. And then they went to City Hall and they, with guns, forced everybody to resign and installed an entirely new council. And it is the Wilmington, North Carolina that we know today. And I’m just always reminded that white supremacy is definitely a brute force instrument, but it is also a storytelling instrument, and so much of how it is able to wield its power is either controlling the storytelling or limiting your ability to tell any type of story to your people. And I just was struck that the first thing they did was burn down the newspaper. And it is still an empty plot of land. So I wanted to bring that here because I hadn’t heard of this. Apparently there are 30 other similar documented stories across the country. I know Rosewood because I remember watching Rosewood as a kid, so that movie has always stuck with me. But another thing that happened in Wilmington is that the white newspaper had all these political cartoons of Black savages and Black men, you know, sleeping with white women and all this other stuff. And a white cartoonist or a white um writer wrote a response that was like, you know, a lot of these guys are attractive, and white women are choosing to be with Black men. And they ran that essay over and over to make white people angry. That that was a part of the storytelling strategy in Wilmington around this. So I just bring this up because I was struck by the power of storytelling. And this was something in 1898 that I did not know about. But I am obsessed with Reconstruction. And no pun to Kaya Henderson’s company called Reconstruction. 


Kaya Henderson: No, no, I think this is wonderful. I want I mean, reconstruction is the least taught about time in American history. It is a time of tremendous Black prosperity. I could go on and on and on and on. And so the fact that you keep bringing these reconstruction stories to the pod makes my heart warm, because people need to know that there was a time, there were many times, but there was a concentrated in just 12 short years time in these United States when African Americans were wildly successful, when we were left to our own devices and the white folks got mad, and then they burned it all down over and over again, you know, Rosewood, you now know Greenwood and Tulsa. And these stories are coming to the forefront because there are people who have documented this stuff. And so we need to see and learn more about these massacres. And this is exactly why we have book bans, and this is why the librarians wouldn’t let the Wilmington children read about this. Because these people don’t want their children to know what their ancestors did to Black people. 


Myles E. Johnson: Well, thank you for bringing it to the podcast DeRay. And I don’t know if I have anything super substantial to add to um the news, except that what dawned on me while I was reading it and while I was even listening to you speak about it, was that probably for as long as I’m alive, there will be new things that unearth me that are horrible. [laugh] It will always be something you’ll bring to the podcast. And I’m like, oh, wow. And then my naive brain will think, oh, this is the last thing I need to know about. Something that’s horrible, happened horrible in history. And then you’ll do something next week and it will unearth something different. And I think there’s something about creating really great connections of when we when we were resilient. But I also think there’s something really important about creating a type of tapestry of the terror that has happened, because I think that not only does it make it important for us to know that because of our history, but I think when we do think about reparations, I think that this has like, it probably has to start at reconstruction era. I think that a lot of times people go all the way back to, you know, slavery in in 1619, which I totally understand that. But I think that even reconstruction, if we just talk about that and all the terrorism that happened during that era, that is a good argument for um reparations in and of itself, because we did pull ourselves by our bootstraps and we created several more boots, and then those were burned down. So now we need some more boots. We actually did the miraculous thing already, and that miracle was burned down. So now we need reparations. Now we need this coming back. So that’s what this reminds me of. So thank you. 


De’Ara Balenger: It also reminds us how these versions of these things are happening present day. And so I think even though the context is historical, it is actually quite present. So some of the same techniques around white supremacy are being used for voter suppression. Incarceration is used, you know, like all these tools are being used right now in 2024. And I found a Guardian article on this massacre. And it talks about weeks after George Floyd was murdered, that some Wilmington police officers were caught in an audit of patrol car videotapes. They were caught saying how they need to go out here and slaughter them effing n words, and that a civil war is coming. Now, they said that in 2020. 


Myles E. Johnson: That was pre insurrection. 


De’Ara Balenger: Come on now. 


Myles E. Johnson: Wait. Right. Right?


De’Ara Balenger: Yes. So I think one it’s like we got to take care of ourselves as Black people in these Black bodies. Like we just like even this conversation and presencing how these things are so deeply impacting our communities and our bodies. I just want us all to take care of ourselves, whatever that means. And the second thing is, is it history if we’re still living and being impacted in it? 


Kaya Henderson: Whew chile. Mmm.


DeRay Mckesson: Boom. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah 


Kaya Henderson: Also along the lines of history, my news comes from The New York Times, which is running a series on the Harlem Renaissance. There are a bunch of different articles that are appearing, weekly or so about the Harlem Renaissance. And this particular one just grabbed my attention. And it is an article about rent parties. Now, for those people, for the uninitiated, for people who don’t know, rent parties are a tradition in the African-American community where a family will host a party, usually at the end of the month, to help raise money for rent. And we cook and there’s music and there’s dancing, and people pay to come to the party. And that fundraiser helps people pay their rent. This was particularly, the custom really came uh to be in the ’20s, out of Harlem, at around the same time as the Harlem Renaissance, because as Black Southerners were moving to the North, they were overcharged rent and exploited and taken, they were underpaid and they were overcharged rent. And so lots of folks were really struggling to make it. And the rent parties are a real juxtaposition of, I think, Black American life, because at one point it is it comes out of a total need, a desperation. Right. You got to pay your rent. But it’s also a moment and space of Black joy. They go on to also talk about how during the Harlem Renaissance, white people were flocking to Harlem to dance and hear music and see art. And while the intellectual and theatrical and entertainment part of Harlem was subject to the white gaze and was all of this, the very Black and intimate part of Harlem didn’t want white people to see the abject poverty that they were living in and whatnot. So this juxtaposition was really, really interesting to me. And part of the reason why this article came to be is because Langston Hughes, our poet and recorder of Black life, actually kept the invitations to rent parties so people would make these little cards that had uh, pithy little saying on top and invited people to either a social whist or a beer brawl or a midsummer frolic, or, my favorite, a chitlin’ strut, um and tell you the the apartment number and the time and promised good music and good food. And Langston kept tons of these little cards for a bunch of different rent parties. He kept them in a box. Um. He traveled with them. He took them all over the world with him. And when he turned over his papers to Yale to commemorate his life, these rent party invitations were there. And so one, I think it’s also important Langston Hughes apparently really enjoyed rent parties. Rent parties were not the salons where the intellectuals were gathering. This is where the truckers and the domestics and the regular, degular people were getting their groove on, and he found them to be much more entertaining than the intellectual things. And so apparently he went to a lot of rent parties because he had lots of rent party invitations. But I think it is important that he kept these and it’s helping us understand um what happened in our history. I think they are examples of poetry, because at the beginning of every invitation there’s like a two line little couplet, the rent party is  where the place where new dances came out. And so the Lindy Hop is one of the dances that came out of rent parties. I think it’s a great example of collective action and community, which is how Black people always get down. The community would rally to help somebody pay their rent. And, you know, you look at Black music of the time. Billie Holiday had a song called Rent Party Blues. Duke Ellington had a song called Rent Party Blues, and the people who were the best dancers were called rug cutters because they danced so hard, they would cut people’s rugs up with their shoes. And that’s where we get the phrase cutting a rug from. And so I just thought it was a really interesting peek into what real Black life looked like during the Harlem Renaissance. I think we have these ideas about Zora and Langston and, you know, Countee and everybody else sitting around in these beautiful big brownstones having intellectual conversation and, and, and Jacob Lawrence painting and, you know, whatever and all of that was happening. But at the same time, there were real regular people who were not only, you know, scratching to eke out a life, but they were also claiming spaces of joy, being intimate in ways that white people didn’t understand. And once again, creating the culture, the music, the poetry, the dance. And so I wanted to bring that because that’s not something that we usually see. 


Myles E. Johnson: Ooh, I love this story. Also you know, because this podcast lives on a continuum. What I was saying last week about Black joy and the availability of it, it’s been very available. This is also proof positive that we have been and always have been finding a way so I think we got that on lock. Um. But I really loved this story. And um, just to add something to this, and this is me being as ethical as I can about this, because we’re talking about Langston Hughes we’re also talking about the Harlem Renaissance and these rent parties. It made me instantly think about Saidiya Hartman’s, her book, which is entitled Wayward Lives, Beautiful um experiments and then other um things that I’ve seen her either speak about or say about her um investigating the queerness of these things that were happening inside of um, the Harlem Renaissance. And when you were talking about Langston Hughes really enjoying these parties more than maybe the salons and stuff like that which it’s documented that him and Zora Neale Hurston were really um, anti the elitism. In an ethical way but in also an intellectual way I start wondering about what kind of queerness that is maybe not spoken about, that was present at these different parties that made them more attractive for somebody like Langston Hughes? 


Kaya Henderson: Absolutely. Sure enough. 


Myles E. Johnson: And it also makes me wonder at again, I don’t know. But it also makes me wonder, oh, was there an availability of sex work? If there was a availability of queer practices that maybe weren’t in the commonplace? Because I think that the more I’m reading into this after reading Saidiya Hartman’s retellings of certain things, and how she does her analysis, it’s almost like it trained my ear to hear the silent part out loud when we’re talking about the Harlem Renaissance, specifically because we know that um, the Langston Hughes estate is allegedly homophobic and really does not want any um, retelling of him ever being gay. Um. Which is why certain films that came out in the ’90s around Langston Hughes, they weren’t even allowed to use his poetry. I know I’m just I’m just bursting at the seams of uh Harlem Renaissance knowledge. But I, I love I love this time in history. It’s so interesting to me. And I definitely feel like um, a not as a, you know, not compare myself. I feel like a daughter, son of this era. So I love looking at it so much because it’s so glamorous and free and interesting. So thank you for bringing this up. And yeah, I would say go read some Saidiya Hartman and and read um some of her stuff about this, because she really pushes one to think about what the silent part is really saying out loud. Thank you for bringing this to the pod Auntie Kaya.


De’Ara Balenger: Yes, thank you Kaya and Myles, thanks for taking us to Hartman. I’m just Myles put some links to Hartman’s work in our little group chat, and one of the things that she says is well claims that queer bodies violated sexual and gender norms and thereby sought to be free. Blackness is always to be found within queer formulations of life, love, and pleasure, precisely because Black bodies have occupied the space against which white normativity expresses itself. 


Myles E. Johnson: She be talking to you [?].


De’Ara Balenger: Come on now, but Kaya I think, and you know what this takes me to? And I’ve been thinking about this a lot now that I’m like, really started to get out of my post-Covid mind, is that I feel like we used to spend more time together. Right. The fact that you had these cards meant that you were bumping into people to give them the card, to invite them to the party. 


Kaya Henderson: That’s right. 


De’Ara Balenger: Right? And so these were, you know, segregated times where we all were living in the same neighborhood and would see and be with each other all the time. But like me living in Brooklyn, DeRay living in Harlem, I mean, I see DeRay more when we out of town, you know what I mean? So I think there is also something to like pre integration times when we were all just with each other all the time. I mean, wow. 


Kaya Henderson: Not just with each other. Responsible for each other, connected to each other. 


De’Ara Balenger: In community. That’s right Kaya. Yup. And this is sort of a tangent, but I think it’s important because again, in Houston, um one of my best friends from law school, her aunt, who has a Ph.D. in physics and she’s probably 78, 79. She’s a public school teacher in Black schools in Houston. But when integration happened, they took all the best Black teachers out of the Black schools and put them in the white schools and took the worst white teachers and put them in the Black schools. I did not know that. 


Kaya Henderson: Not just that just didn’t happen in Houston honey. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, exactly. And so I think but again, I think, you know, I just feel the power of this conversation around community, just like it’s sitting with me and I’m I keep getting information to shape what my action is going to be around it Anyway. 


DeRay Mckesson: The thing that sticks out to me is um, is I love the social spaces that collapse class. 


Myles E. Johnson: Wow. 


DeRay Mckesson: And so much of what you think of when you think of the Harlem Renaissance is all the smart people had dinner together. That’s the storytelling around it. It’s like all the writers we know, all the painters, they were all together. They were friends. Countee Cullen, Langston, Zora, they all went to the supermarket together. And what Baldwin, I think reminds us, well they all do, is that the only way that they were able to do any of that is because Black people loved them. They were in Black communities, and they often were translators of Black life. They wrote about the life around them in a world that they participated in, that was very Black. But that is not the popular story of the Harlem Renaissance. It’s all the smart people hung out with each other. And when I think about the rent parties. It is such a beautiful space of like a collapsing of class. When you think about Black people and I want more of those spaces to exist today, it is one of the things I do love about New York is that, like [?] rides on the subway, you know, it’s like a it’s one of the things I hate about L.A., actually, that I feel like the geography reinforces the class divide in a really–


Kaya Henderson: Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: –intense way. It’s what the East Coast does well, just because the way the cities are set up, like the cities sort of disrupt that. But that’s what made me think about this. I also didn’t know until I read this article, and it seems like a basic thing. So maybe I was just the one that didn’t know, I knew Harlem had a lot of Black people. I didn’t know at one point it was the largest Black community in the country like that I didn’t know, um I knew it was a lot of people. I just didn’t know it was it was that many. And um yeah, this is a beautiful article. 


Kaya Henderson: And click on the links so that you can see there are great pictures with this article the pictures of the of the invitation cards and whatnot is stunning. 


Myles E. Johnson: Can I just say one thing towards what DeRay was saying? I loved that piece around collapsing class that was like literally going through my head as well. Like just how that is so like necessary um today and how that’s really missing. Yeah. You just had took it was just it was almost freaky cause I was like, literally thinking that. I was like, wait they like, that doesn’t exist anymore. And of course, me being a geek, Samuel Delany has uh, a book called Times Square Red, Times Square Blue that talks about New York City and the collapsing of class. And he does it in a very brilliant, brilliant, brilliant way, um about how the more richer that New York has gotten, the more class divided it’s gotten. But he does it through talking about his experiences in the New Times Square and the old Times Square. And if you know anything about the old Times Square, it was um rampant with sex and queerness. And he says and I participated in that. But I also gave people opportunities because that was one of the few places where classes were able to um co-mingle so.


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




De’Ara Balenger: One of my themes that I’m working on for myself this year is rest, so I understand what rest means. But now what I’m struggling with is how do you activate that rest? And so my news today came up for me on this journey. It’s actually about this photographer who’s now a painter. Her name is Danielle McKinney. I am now obsessed with her, but she has a new exhibition which is opening in Italy and Turin. It sounds like something we need to go to. 


Kaya Henderson: I’m down. 


De’Ara Balenger: You know, I was like, where in the heck, what where is this? But the exhibition is all about depicting Black women reveling in rest. And so I love the reveling in rest, because I feel like that is giving me instruction. I know I need to do the rest, but I’m like, what does that rest look like? But anyhow, the imagery, please check out her work. Just in general. The imagery is absolutely incredible, and she also part of her practice in painting because she actually became a painter during Covid because she was a photographer. Then she went on and, you know, and it was hard for her to, you know, to to photograph people, obviously, during Covid. And so she turned to painting and she found that through painting, she really had to practice the intimacy of letting go. Which is something I’m also trying to work on, because sometimes I’m petty and it take me a long time to let go of stuff. But so it’s AnOther magazine, which is Myles I feel like you should be writing for AnOther magazine. It’s like an offshoot of Dazed. It’s like a cultural lifestyle magazine. So the interviewer I want to talk about her as well, because I didn’t know her. So her name is Alayo Akinkugbe. And I’m I’m so sorry Alayo if I’m pronouncing your name incorrectly. I’m now following you on Instagram, but she is a curator and art historian and a writer, and also has an Instagram page called A History of Black Art, which highlights overlooked Black artists, sitters, curators and thinkers past and present. So shout out to her as well. But in this, in this piece, she asks Danielle, you know, some of her her her paintings look like they evoke a sense of nighttime. And she was basically like, what is that about? And Danielle said, it’s the evening time where we really feel, in the evening and early morning, actually, when you finish the day and get back into your house before you grab your phone, you kind of chillax. I’m trying to capture that intimacy when we just let go. She calls her paintings her babies and and the ladies, and they like to be by themselves, she says. I think it’s just because I’m an only child. I don’t see them with anybody else. So she the other cool thing about her paintings is that she doesn’t have people sit for these paintings. These women are coming to her from her imagination, which I also just think about the wonder of the Black imagination, just imagining Black women and humans at rest. It also reminds me of Derrick Adams’ work of just Black people in leisure. 


Kaya Henderson: Recreating baby. Yes.


De’Ara Balenger: Come on. So I just thank you for these imaginative people. She also says, you know, she hopes that our folks can feel feel better. These paintings have, you know, helped her feel better. The paintings really help us to just pause and it’s okay to pause, she says. I can get in my own way and be so critical about what I feel or what I’m saying. While the paintings are just in my studio taking a nap. And I love that. So I hope it shows people it ain’t that deep. She’s just a cool gal. So basically like, you know, she’s getting all in her head about what this painting is going to be or what it’s not going to be. Meanwhile, the paint is like, I am going to be what I’m going to be, girl, so let it go. I loved her work. I kind of loved her attitude and her approach and her sort of pedagogy towards the work. And I wanted to share this with y’all because we need to rest and I hope we figure out how to do that. If you all have any suggestions, let us know on the social medias. 


Myles E. Johnson: Thank you so much Dre’Ara for bringing this to the podcast. I love these news stories. Thanks y’all. They have been um warming me. I think also the thing that I was when I was um looking at the artists’ work. I think that when I see like often when it comes to things that are um, seen as significant when it comes to Black folks, either we are posed or we’re in action. What I like about these images is that because the people are resting, but their eyes are often open, that it also signals that the person, the subject is thinking. And I think that there’s something about like signaling to the onlooker that somebody is deep in, like thought or in Black. And and even though if you if you want to use the term Black thought or in Black imagination is really powerful because it actually shows that this position of thinking is also valuable if it’s a painting. That means that if you’re seeing this portrait of somebody who is just wondering, thinking, being in their imagination, but because it’s a portrait, because it’s a picture, because it’s a painting you already see this is a valuable position. And I think we see so many things that are um seen as valuable because somebody is protesting, because somebody is fighting, because somebody’s struggling, because somebody is maybe posing a certain way that um that makes us think of uh European things or whatever, whatever. I love that this is showing value to a state of being, for Black folks that we don’t often see as um, valuable and um rendered in a painting. So thank you for bringing this, because it made me feel like, yeah, this too is valuable. When I got a little joint in my hand and I’m just looking out the window. Yes. 


Kaya Henderson: You know, Myles, one of these pictures made me think about you. There’s a lady in a white robe with blue feathers. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Like a boa who is thinking, even with her eyes closed, I can tell that she’s thinking. And she has a cigarette in her hand and she is reclined–


Myles E. Johnson: Yes. 


Kaya Henderson: –on the couch. Y’all don’t get to see this. But Myles often comes to the podcast in his sumptuous and luxurious robes and and literally this thing is called a fly on the wall. And it made me think like, that is exactly what this evokes for me, right? It is a fly on the wall of other people’s leisure, other people’s rest, other people’s relaxation. And I, you know, I think about the representation piece. Every Black person that I know plays the Black museum game where you walk into the museum and you look for the Black people. Right? Because we have a need to see ourselves reflected in what’s on the walls. And, you know, De’Ara you’re absolutely right to see us at rest, to see us relaxing. That’s not how people think about Black people. I’ve told this story before, but I’m gonna say it again just because I can, you know, in January, I have a fancy TV where you can put up whatever as your screensaver. And there are a series of color photos of the King family at leisure. It is Martin Luther King Junior and Coretta in their swimsuits, swimming at a pool in Jamaica on a family vacation. It is them eating breakfast together. It’s them laying in the bed, reading the paper. And every before this, before I ever saw this series, every single picture that I saw of Martin Luther King was largely black and white and was largely, as you said, Myles, in action, protesting, you know, looking angry or looking preacherly or whatever. And in these pictures you see him as a father. You see him smiling, you see him playing the piano with his kids. You see, you know, regular old Black family. And I think back to, you know, I make the connection. This is about intimacy. People don’t have views into Black life in this way. And by not seeing us as regular people, it allows them to dehumanize us and to other us. But you have to confront that we drink tea and we lay on the couch and we are tired and pass out. And I love that these, these paintings show that, to a larger audience. 


DeRay Mckesson: The only thing I’ll add is um one is, is sort of what Kaya said is that I love when art reminds me of the world that I grew up in, and I grew up in a world where my grandmother and grand and grandfather and great grandmother would sit on the porch and drink tea and talk all day long. That sweet tea had more sugar in it than any of us should have ever drank. 


Kaya Henderson: That’s why we all got the diabetes. 


DeRay Mckesson: Right. But they would be outside all day long just talking on the porch. Um. Or my grandmother watching her stories. I’m like, [?] it is how many episodes can we watch today? What is going on? But they weren’t always in motion. They were laughing and or like, that’s why I laugh so much. Like my father. Like we just grew up in a house with a lot of funny. And you don’t always see that. Um. And that is a political project to not show it. It’s a political commitment to show it. The second thing is I think about growing up. I would always see the output of things, but I never saw Black people doing them. Which is why I love in this I see the artist with the art, because it was one thing to tell me there was a Black composer or like. There’s a but I was like, mm I don’t know, like I’ve never. I grew up only seeing white people do like they, they were in the movies making the things. They were the composers. They were the people who actually did it. Even if you told me a Black people did produce it, I never got to see the production, or I never got to see the artist next to the art across a whole host of mediums and entertainers didn’t count because, like singing, you know, my aunt sang in church, so she. That didn’t seem like extra special to me. But as an adult, I look back and I’m like, oh, wow, it’s really cool in this to see, like, her next to the painting. It’s cool when I see pictures of Kehinde like at the studio or Derrick Adams, I’m like, oh, it like, I’m happy that kids will grow up and that will be normal for them that they like, saw Black people do it. They weren’t just I feel like my story of Black history being told was like all these Black people did a thing, learn their names every February. But I never saw it in motion. And I love that kids today get to see it in motion. 


Myles E. Johnson: Well, you know, today’s news for me is part, um me offering news. There’s really not just me offering news. It’s really um, a signal. It’s a Negro signal that I’m just blaring out with the Negro megaphone that I call my mouth. Diddy has been in the news. Diddy di some wrong things. He couldn’t stop. He won’t stop. [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: I’m done. I gotta go. I have got to go. I’m logging off.


Myles E. Johnson: We just saying the black and white, right? Okay. And what I beg of and without going into detail. Horrendous detail of what he’s been accused of. Um. What I think it doesn’t matter. But what I think about when I’m in these moments is I think about um Kierna Mayo, who was the editor in chief of um Ebony magazine when all of the um Bill Cosby allegations came out. And Kierna Mayo in one November um issue decided to show the Cosby family with that cracked uh glass showing that there is something dysfunctional happening or that happened, and she really decided to talk about it. What I’m begging because the Kierna Mayos, Bell Hooks is gone. Toni Morrison is gone. A lot of people who would talk about this or are talking about this are um often snuffed, or they can only speak via their Twitter um platforms and or a very niche magazine. I’m really begging for Black legacy publications to take this seriously and get thinkers on this now. And not just when it comes to Diddy, but also when it comes to Russell Simmons and also when it comes to the whole entire um, metoo bubbling under patriarchal uh moment that’s happening in hip hop. I really was disappointed when I see and now, don’t get me wrong, there’s been reports about what’s happening to Diddy in Essence in these different places. What I’m asking for are Black, intelligent, engagements of what this means? Why is this happening? And specifically a feminist gaze. This really again, this podcast is a living organism and it lives on a continuum. So this really is attached to my critique of the Freaknik doc that I had um last week is that I’m seeing this kind of organized silencing of feminist, intellectual thoughts when it comes to what’s happening. And it’s not only has us going backwards, but it really has us not being properly equipped to really take ownership of both our light and our dark. If we’re only talking about Black joy and Black light and Black positivity and Black accomplishment and excellence, we’re creating something that is just as uh diabolical as painting us as evil or monstrous or criminal. We have to be able to have the tools to really sink our teeth into these dark moments. And it’s really becoming sad that a lot of these Black legacy publications are not doing something and doing it quicker, and making it organized and making it diverse. I’m really happy to see that The Root, which is a newer platform that is um, geared towards Black people, has done some talking about it, but I’m really looking at Ebony. I’m really looking at Essence. So I’m right here with Amanda Seales for different reasons. I don’t need to go to the brunch. I don’t need to go to the lunch. I don’t need to go to the awards. I don’t need to do any of those things. But what I do want, because I do care about the future of Black minds and also the future of how we’re able to think about um, the Black psyche and how it manifests when it gets money, when the Black psyche gets power, when it infiltrates white supremacist structures in hyper capitalism. If we’re not able to talk about that, if we’re not being able to really debate about that, if we’re not able to look at that, and if the all of the heavier discourse is happening in shade room comments. And Hollywood on lock comments and happening in 30 second to 90 second news clips on Pod Save the People on Crooked. We’re not doing our work. It needs to be happening on Essence. It needs to be happening on Ebony. It needs to be happening on Tamron Hall. It needs to be happening on Jennifer Hudson. It needs to be happening on these huge platforms too. And if that’s not happening, then you’re really doing a hold on I know a time where Black people were only seen when we were smiling too. We call it the minstrel era. Now, just because this minstrel era looks a little bit more sophisticated and because we it looks a little bit different, doesn’t mean we’re not doing the same things. We can’t only be seen when it’s comfortable for people or because it’s exceptional or because um it makes us happy and oh my God, we love seeing that person sing that song or dance that dance or talk that talk. We have to be able to talk about these things outwardly and publicly and a lot, and in diverse fashion, in the name of Bell Hooks and Jesus Christ. 


DeRay Mckesson: And I just want to say, as a matter of fact, as I remember, the Root is no longer Black owned. 


Myles E. Johnson: Amen. 


DeRay Mckesson: Uh so that is interesting that they are–


Myles E. Johnson: [?]. 


DeRay Mckesson: –they are the one publication that, you named. 


Myles E. Johnson: Are you trying to tell me that anybody who’s not getting Diddy money is the only people who are still talking about Diddy? Because that’s what it’s starting to sound like, that there’s a whole bunch of interweaving Diddy economics, Diddyomics. 


DeRay Mckesson: Well, I don’t know if it’s economics. 


Myles E. Johnson: That are stopping people from speaking their Black minds. Is that what you trying to tell me DeRay? 


DeRay Mckesson: I think it is noteworthy, though, that, like um. 


Myles E. Johnson: DeRay [?] did not say that.


DeRay Mckesson: What what what happens when somebody who has just taken up so much of this space, has had a huge influence on so many people’s careers, which is true, for better or for worse we learn that something real bad and people are just quiet. I mean, same thing with Russell Simmons. It took people a long time to talk about Bill Cosby. It took, what, two documentaries. That one reporter had been writing about Cosby for and R. Kelly, they, you know, both it took a long time. It was not quick. And I think the I don’t remember any critical essays from some of our best Black platforms. The only thing I have to say about the Diddy stuff is I was talking to somebody, and he made this point that I thought was really interesting. He was like, it’s so complicated now to see this conversation because, just ten, 12 years ago, people praised Diddy for being a tyrant. People laughed when he made people walk across the bridge to get him cheesecake. People thought it was funny when he flipped out on TV and threw the phone and the like that was a part of his cultural that’s what geniuses do. That’s what moguls do. That’s how people who are successful, set expectations for their staff. And he was, nothing short of a bully to people. On making the band I mean, that was we saw and people cheered him on. And so you see, today and you’re like, well, it looks like he just kept doing that and that that’s what he did on camera. Look at what he did off camera, was ten times worse than that. But the person I was talking to, his point was that in some ways, the public participated in the making of the monster and celebrated the monster. And is now like, wow, there was a monster! And it’s like, mm let’s have a, you know, to your point, Myles, we should critically examine this moment and how we got here and how we make sure that we don’t participate in reproducing it again. 


Myles E. Johnson: I agree with what you’re saying. I think, you know, I’m about to connect this with Lizzo. I think that there is something to creating a paper monster, is what you see on television. I think once you’re on television, in the sake, in the sake of entertainment, I’m not talking about like when you go and talk about prison reform, abolition on on CNN or whatever. But like somebody who’s an entertainer, I think that there is this kind of silent, um just like when you go in the theater, they say suspend disbelief or suspend your um disbelief while you’re in a theater. I think that same thing and that same um negotiation happens when somebody is on the radio, when somebody is on television entertaining you. So I think that the cartoon character of Diddy mogul tyrant is one thing, and I think the sex trafficking ring is another, you know what I mean? Like, I but I get it. But also and I get that, you know, this might be created from a real thing, but I think it’s easier for me to see like, oh, no. I can see how somebody could be like, oh, yeah, you’re not you’re not really doing that. Nobody will really stay for that. Oh, this is like like that’s I think the agreement that people make in their heads. And then I think the allegations, 75 pages or the Cassie allegations, I’m like, oh no, this is something different than playing. I guess I just saw what Diddy was doing in the same way that I saw what Diahann Carroll was doing on Dynasty. Like I saw it for a different, like, reality television show era. Like I just thought like, oh, you’re just recreating something in order to get people get get the people going. But you really are, sex traffic ring. Rah rah like a dungeon dragon. A monster.


De’Ara Balenger: Wait, y’all, I did find. I just sent it to y’all. In our chat, an LA times piece by Amy DuBois Barnett, who’s the former editor of Honey magazine. And this it’s for Black women. The world of hip hop has always been a minefield of misogyny. And she starts this piece off talking about how she got invited to a Diddy all white party when she became editor of Honey, um and meets Andre Harrell and basically quickly start to understand what the hierarchies are in the hip hop world, sort of speak. I haven’t read through this whole thing, but this this is an interesting one for us to all. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: Audience included. Take a look at. 


Kaya Henderson: Thank you for sharing. 


Myles E. Johnson: Thank you for bringing that. And again L.A. Times. 


Kaya Henderson: I think Myles is right in calling out the need for everybody. Not I mean yes, Black legacy platforms. But like now is the time to be engaging in this conversation. Beyonce’s album drops and there’s 29 thought pieces about it from all different directions. [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: Let the let the choir say Amen, let the church say praise him. 


Myles E. Johnson: Amen. 


Kaya Henderson: And we don’t talk about the hard stuff. Right? And so that strikes me, you know, the piece about the public’s complicitness DeRay in creating or at least, you know, maybe, maybe he was a maybe he was a little monster. And the public helped make him a bigger monster, right? Whatever it was, I do think that there is this public role in, you know, celebrity is not a one way street. It’s not just the image that the celebrity is putting out to us. It is our reaction to our validation of our reinforcement of. And so this is forcing me to think a lot about how what we give back to people and how we not the the misogyny in hip hop is legendary, legendary, and people have been talking about it and writing about it and whatnot. And, you know, I think about we are willing to say ladies first, but we’re not willing to like, talk about the real things that women experience in hip hop, except for the, you know, the few courageous. And you look at what happens to the Dru Dixon’s of the world and, and other people even um, what’s the, the woman’s name, I want to call it, uh Dee Barnes. Who who Doctor Dre beat up and people didn’t believe and whatnot. Right. All of this, we, the public has some culpability in this. And DeRay, your comment has me just thinking. I don’t know exactly what I want to say about it, but I want to think a little bit more about this because we are part of this. It’s not it’s not just that Diddy did some things and he can’t stop won’t stop. It is that we have participated in this as well and have enabled this to some extent. And nobody wants to take responsibility because I wasn’t in the room and I didn’t do that and I wouldn’t do that. But there was a time to stand up and say no and we didn’t do that. [music break]


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.