Would It Change the World? (with Tishaura O. Jones) | Crooked Media
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February 09, 2021
Pod Save The People
Would It Change the World? (with Tishaura O. Jones)

In This Episode

DeRay, Kaya, Sam, and De’Ara dive into the underreported news of the week, including academic racism, vaccine hunters, medical distribution issues, and replacing the police with healthcare workers. Netta Elzie gives an update on what’s happening with the nationwide protests. DeRay sits down with Tishaura O. Jones, who is running for mayor of St. Louis.




DeRay [00:00:01] Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People. On this episode, It’s me, Sam, Kaya and De’Ara as usual, and we talk about the news that you probably didn’t know in the past week, news that you should know but didn’t know. Johnetta Elzie also joins us to talk about what’s going on with the protests. And then I sit down with the current St. Louis city treasurer to Tishaura Jones, who is running to be the next mayor of St. Louis City. Incredible conversation. She’s the best. Let’s go. My advice for this week is an old saying, “if God answered all your prayers, would it just change you or would it change the world?” And I’ve said it before, but some of us when we pray when we dream. It really is just a dream for us. It’s not a dream that would impact our community or the people around us and your dreams to be big enough that it will change the world. It shouldn’t be so selfish that it is just about you. Dream big, ya’ll.


De’Ara [00:00:52] Welcome family to another episode of Pod Save the People.


De’Ara [00:00:56] I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on the Twitter and Instagram @dearabalenger.


Sam [00:01:00] And I’m Sam Sinyangwe @samswey on Twitter.


Kaya [00:01:03] I’m Kaya Henderson @HendersonKaya on Twitter.


DeRay [00:01:06] And this is DeRay at @deray on Twitter.


De’Ara [00:01:08] We’re coming to you on Super Bowl Sunday. Even though none of us really watched the Super Bowl. That’s all right. We we started a little late, too, because Kaya wanted us to see the halftime show. That’s time I’ll never get back from my life. So thanks Kaya.


Kaya [00:01:22] Don’t. Listen, don’t be mad at me. Be mad at the Weeknd because.


De’Ara [00:01:27] I don’t like to talk about our people in public. We we can talk.


Kaya [00:01:31] He’s Canadian.


Kaya [00:01:32] He’s Canadian.


DeRay [00:01:33] Kaya!


De’Ara [00:01:41] But is that it? Maybe their Black History Month is a different month. Maybe this he just wasn’t it wasn’t all come together for him. OK, so. Well, we’re not even going to talk about we’re going to there’s so many things more important things to talk about.


De’Ara [00:01:54] We could go on and on and on about all the many things that were wrong with the Super Bowl. That’s another day, another dollar.


De’Ara [00:02:00] We’re just going to get into what’s going on with these stimulus stimulus just like stimulus, just like people just don’t like.


Kaya [00:02:11] Where’s my stimulus?


De’Ara [00:02:12] Where’s my check?


DeRay [00:02:15] Stimmy, got a stimmy.


De’Ara [00:02:15] So people estimate, people are still you know, the checks are coming in the mail for some folks, there’s still it’s like the checks from before or is it the checks that are coming now?


Kaya [00:02:30] New checks. These are new checks.


Sam [00:02:31] There’s a whole lot of debate over whether these are new checks or are they adding on to the original six hundred dollars or is this a new round of 2,000?


Sam [00:02:40] Like we’ve heard many different variants of this. And it looks like in Congress right now they are fighting over is it, you know, fourteen hundred dollars on top of the 600 who gets the fourteen hundred dollars? Do you get it if you make seventy five thousand or is the cutoff at fifty thousand, it’s all up in the air.


De’Ara [00:02:58] It’s all very confusing. And the thing that I want to know is whose signature is going to be on this here check. Because as we know, the last dude made a big, big fuss about making sure that his name was on the signature line.


Sam [00:03:11] You know, it is wild that the expectation, you know, is that folks should be getting relief. Right. People turned out in droves. Historic, unprecedented turnout twice. There was the election election. And that was like the Georgia Senate deciding election. Both times, folks turned out massive numbers. We heard about two thousand dollar checks, especially in the Georgia election. It was a big topic of conversation.


Sam [00:03:37] And now it seems like there is this effort to bring on board some of these more conservative ish senators that Joe Manchin’s of the world, Krysten Sinema, others, you know, trying to figure out where we can get 50 votes, but, you know, sort of lost the forest for the trees because of the amount of money that folks actually need in this moment is it’s not fourteen hundred.


Sam [00:04:00] It’s not two thousand. It is way more than that, given all that’s happening economically. And on top of all of that, the wealthiest people, the billionaires in America, have already made an additional one point one trillion dollars just during the pandemic in extra money that they didn’t even need. So we could be cutting seven thousand dollar checks to 150 million Americans with that money. So I don’t know why we’ve been talking about two thousand.


De’Ara [00:04:23] Yeah, and to your point, Sam, it’s also it looks like two thirds of Americans, 68 percent support Biden’s pandemic package, according to Yahoo! Finance who was reporting on this. Just building on that Sam, yes, people voted for this administration, but also still like they are very specific about their support around this pandemic support.


DeRay [00:04:42] You know, so many people made a way out of no way. We didn’t know the pandemic was coming. People didn’t have reserves of money like sitting around, given that like their hours might be cut or they might lose jobs and people still, like, survived, you know. The least we could do is give people money to, like, make it through until the economy holds up. It is interesting, you know, you’ve heard the back and forth about like, is it fourteen hundred dollars is actually a new two thousand.


DeRay [00:05:11] It’s sort of wild that this is still a debate over a one time check you like we’re buying all this time over one time check.


DeRay [00:05:17] This isn’t even like you know, three, fourteen hundred dollar checks this year or you know two two thousand dollar checks. This is a battle over. Is there going to be one at all? You know, I guess the good news here is that there is a conversation on making adult dependents eligible this time where they weren’t eligible before. There’s also a conversation about increasing the amount that goes to kids. So under the Dems plan, parents of children will receive an additional fourteen hundred dollars per child. That means a family of four will get fifty six hundred dollars. And the Dems are separately pushing a child tax benefit that would, over the course of a year, give thirty six hundred dollars per kid under six and three thousand dollars per kid, six to seventeen. So like there are some interesting things that are being sort of pushed about in the plan. But going back to 2019 tax returns is like sort of hard like that, you know, might not be the best way to do. We should just be giving people money like this shouldn’t be a conversation. If you think about the sheer amount of money that we wasted under the Trump administration on things like space force, we could have given people a ton of money if we had never done space force or built the wall, all those ridiculous things that the Republicans were all about. And now we want to help everyday people. And that suddenly is a problem.


Kaya [00:06:31] My news this week is from CNN, and it’s an article about vaccine hunters who are getting their shots ahead of schedule by, quote, unquote, gaming the system. Now, I brought this to the pod because one of my friends asked me recently, do you all ever disagree about anything on the pod? And I was like, hmm, that’s a good question. Not so much, but I feel like this might be one where we scrap it up a little bit. So let me offer for you the example of Isabel Medina, who is the person highlighted in this article. Isabel is a healthy 25 year old who actually was living on the West Coast, working in the film industry, but moved to the East Coast when film prospects died out and she moved in with her parents. She has time on her hands. She’s flexible. And so what Isabel and her friend were doing is scoping out pharmacies that were administering the vaccine. And she calls it vaccine dumpster diving. They call it vaccine hunting. Effectively, it’s waiting around at the end of the day to see where pharmacies have extra vaccines that they need to actually administer. Otherwise they’re going to go bad. And so the idea is that while she’s 25 and healthy and not anywhere near the front of the line for a vaccine, she and her friend waited at a particular pharmacy in the two of them were able to get vaccinated. Isabel says that she feels good about the fact that the vaccine didn’t go to waste. And in fact, this whole entire issue is because the federal government has done such a poor job of the vaccine rollout. And so in lots of places, you might have seen the health care workers in Oregon who were stuck on a highway in a snowstorm and they ended up giving out the vaccine to just people on a highway because the vaccine was going to expire. Or there are lots of cases where in many communities they’ve made provision for communities to have the vaccine. There are people who are choosing not to take the vaccine. And so you have this extra vaccine stock and you have people who are looking to take the stock that nobody else wants to take. And so there’s a question around equity, of course, because usually in order to if you have the time and the energy to be able to go sit and wait, at the end of the day, you nine times out of ten are not poor. You’re not a person of color. You you know, you have to be sort of privileged in order to be able to do this vaccine dumpster diving or vaccine hunting. And there is a big question, because even some of the medical folks that are quoted in this article talk about the fact that is better than the vaccine going to waste. And so I bring it to the pod because at a place where we are working really hard to get the vaccine to the right people complicated by the fact that not everybody wants to take the vaccine, what do we do when there are leftover doses that are going to expire?


Kaya [00:09:39] But we could give them away to people who otherwise would be at the end of the line. I wonder how we feel about that pod friends. And I will say that I am personally conflicted. I had the opportunity. I had a call from a friend who’s a pharmacist whose community is not taking they’re not interested in taking a vaccine. They don’t trust it and he said, why don’t you jump in your car and come on down and I’ll give you the vaccine, and I thought, no, that’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not OK. Like, I’m sure there are frontline workers, teachers, somebody who could get this vaccine before I would. But the question of the vaccine going to waste is really a significant one. And so I offer it up on the pad for a little bit of a conversation. What say you friends about these vaccine hunters?


De’Ara [00:10:28] This is all a mess. Distribution’s a mess. My brother, who I love dearly, who’s 27 years old and healthy as can be, got a vaccination because he’s a D.C. public schools employee.


De’Ara [00:10:40] Why? Why?


Kaya [00:10:41] So he could go back to school. What’s wrong with that? Hey. Hey.


De’Ara [00:10:44] But I feel like it’s got to be some aunties and some grandmas that also work at the schools.


Kaya [00:10:48] They they’re getting it all of the, all of the schools employees are getting it in D.C. Woo woo.


De’Ara [00:10:53] I just need some paperwork to see that he was the eight hundred and ninety seven person that got it, you know, and I think it’s even for like hospital administrators that are getting it. Yeah, I’ll be working from home. It’s just more symptomatic of like what is happening is not working and no one seems to be in charge and like God bless this administration. But if I see one more executive order with no follow up plan and a good person to follow, actually y’all is Ron Klain, because that’s like where I’ve been really getting the news around what’s going on with this administration with specifics. And he’s the chief of staff for Biden. On one hand, I’m like, I’m not mad at you, but on the other hand, I’m like, you don’t have a great auntie or somebody that you can take down to CVS.


DeRay [00:11:36] So they I’m not with you on the teacher thing. I think your brother needed the vaccine.


De’Ara [00:11:39] So I. Yeah, yes. But you know what? I just feel like in in looking at the totality of it, like, does it is he really that at risk?


DeRay [00:11:50] I think that what is true is that they probably opened it for like 65 and older first and then they opened it up to teachers.


DeRay [00:11:57] And like just like in Baltimore, you know, are the sixty and like, are we doing a good job of making sure that crowd is taken care of where we’re not? And I think that that is true. Right. The vaccines can’t go to waste. So we spent all this time trying to make the vaccine so I can’t go to waste.


Kaya [00:12:12] Come on now.


DeRay [00:12:13] So who is running the vaccine for the hood? That’s what I want. Vaccine hunters for the hood. Like, you should be the moment that, you know, there’s an extra vaccine. It should be the nursing home down the street. You should be pumping up. So, like, I don’t think in the same way that, like, we figured out when restaurants were wasting food, it wasn’t like we made people who needed food camp out outside. We built an infrastructure that, like, took the food to where people needed it. I would love for the CVC is in these pharmacies to say, OK, people aren’t going to come in the next 30 minutes. We are going to go to nursing homes in low income neighborhoods. We’re going to go like that. They pre sort of schedule these things like that is an option like that is possible. You can do that in the projects. You can do that in community centers. You could do that at schools. Like if there was like an on-call, like you knew that in this hour you might get a text or whatever because you’re in a targeted group. And like the vaccines wheren’t I picked out, like, we could do that instead of having rich white kids who have extra time sit outside the CVS and just get it, because, like, that’s not fair.


Kaya [00:13:17] There are also local people who are creating Facebook groups.


Kaya [00:13:21] So in the article, they’re talks about the NOLA New Orleans Facebook vaccine Hunter’s Facebook group, where they’re letting people know where there are extra doses. I’m not sure that they are targeting the people who need it the most. But there is a way, I think, to DeRay’s point, to actually get the word out to people who would benefit most from having the vaccine if we were a little bit more creative with it.


Sam [00:13:48] You’re seeing so many different strategies played out in different states and cities across the country with regard to the vaccine, where, you know, one of the analyzes that recently published through The New York Times showed the proportion of people who’ve gotten at least one shot by state. And you can see that there is huge variation across places. So different places have different strategies around this. And some of the places have the highest vaccination rates. So U.S. wide or nationwide, it’s about 10 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. But in some places like Alaska, which is the state that has the highest vaccination rate so far, they’re actually doing what we’re talking about here. They’re doing the outreach going into communities, in some cases traveling, you know, an amazing distance, you know, in the snow, in the tundra, in the Arctic to get folks the vaccine who otherwise wouldn’t have access rather than waiting for, you know, people who have the most money or the most time on their hands to wait in a line all day at a clinic in order to get that vaccine. So, you know, there are some things that are starting to work in places where they’re just really serious about getting folks the vaccine who otherwise might Not have access. So we can learn from from that, we can also look at, you know, what’s happening in other countries in the U.K. they have a higher vaccination rate than we have here in Israel. Same thing. So, again, thinking about what actually is working here, where the places that have the highest vaccination rates and then how do we unpack those factors so that folks in other states are replicating those policies and getting to the same end goal? I think that kind of a conversation we’re starting to get at now because the initial data is coming in around who’s getting vaccinated, who’s not and where.


DeRay [00:15:29] The only part of the vaccination conversation that I am a little stuck on is can you travel to another state? So Kentucky right now is the only state that I have seen where you either have to be a resident or you have to be somebody providing health care services directly to patients in Kentucky to be able to get the shot.


DeRay [00:15:49] Like you can’t, like, travel across state lines and go into Kentucky from another place to get in.


DeRay [00:15:55] And a part of me is like, I guess I get that. But the other part is like everybody needs to get vaccinated at some point. So I got to like I don’t you know, I would move heaven and earth to make sure that my father got vaccinated. You know, I would move heaven and earth to make sure my grandma got vaccinated, that my, you know, like. So that might drive three hours across state lines because it was screwy and whatever. Then we’re driving out there, you know, like so I am torn.


DeRay [00:16:21] New York City is the first city that I’ve seen that’s about to open it up to people of preexisting conditions on the 15th. I think it statewide, actually, because Cuomo said it will be opening it up. So not just teachers and health care workers, but this will be a whole set of other people. And I think that’s probably a good next step. In Baltimore, the school system said that they were going to have a set of doses. The Baltimore Sun just reported that the hospital said that they just don’t have those doses for the teachers. So they promised a set of doses to teachers. And then they’re just like, just kidding. We didn’t get as many doses as we thought. And it’s like that sort of stuff also doesn’t breed trust at all in the system, you know, and like people publicly go out saying, we got something and then everybody’s made to look like a liar.


De’Ara [00:17:00] But it’s also like that’s a federal government issue, like the federal government is responsible for how many doses folks are getting. And now they’re saying, oh, they’re going to be ten million more doses. OK, we’ll see. And we’ll see in my news that getting more doses doesn’t mean that it’s going to be accessible to folks in New York State. Yes, kudos for starting with folks who have preexisting conditions. But just so everyone knows, this is the first vaccine distribution in the history of the world that didn’t start with the most vulnerable people, which are people that have preexisting conditions. I just don’t know who’s in charge, what’s happening? So I think my frustration around stories like this is just like, again, it’s a symptom of a larger issue around. Yes, we’re still playing cleanup from this guy, letting this virus run rampant. But I think we could be working faster. I think there can be better federal government coordination, FEMA, National Guard, all that’s going to be set up to do vaccination centers. But how long do we have to wait for that?


Sam [00:18:02] And like the interplay between local, state and federal governments in how they’re approaching this? So there was a story in Georgia where, you know, this I think was this past week or two, they had a vaccine clinic that was administering vaccines to people who were not in the list of eligible people. So there were supposed to only administer to people, I think, over 75 or 65. They decided to include teachers as well of a variety of ages. And because they had started administering the vaccine outside of those guidelines, the State Department of Public Health came in and confiscated their vaccine supply. So like even like this initial thinking at the local level of maybe we have different needs in our community, maybe we want to start to expand eligibility so that we can reach people who really have need that we can connect to, that we have a plan for. But, you know, aren’t necessarily in the current phase of the rollout and the federal eligibility guidelines, they’re getting hit now by essentially law enforcement. Right. Coming in and saying you’re not supposed to do that. You can’t vaccinate these people. And so it becomes a huge mess that can make it difficult for you know, you imagine folks in another state thinking about how to meet the needs of their own community will be reminded of what happened in Georgia and, you know, potentially might not be able to expand eligibility in that way.


Kaya [00:19:13] I mean, I think it will be interesting to see the federal government is now mounting a response. I saw Mr. President Biden today on CNN talking about opening every single NFL stadium to as massive vaccination sites, mobilizing the military to vaccinate people en masse. And so we’re playing catch up on a, you know, centralized plan. But in the meantime, these other things are happening. And I think there are legitimate ethical questions about what to me, this is a conundrum, right? It is not fair that people who don’t really need it are getting it. But I also don’t want these vaccinations that we have spent a lot of time and effort getting to going to waste. And so, I mean, I think Dara. Our news offers and a different interesting perspective on this question.


De’Ara [00:20:04] That’s a perfect segue way, Kyra. Thank you. So my news is from NBC. NBC News actually has a cute little black page going on where they have all this black news. I was very surprised. OK, NBC.


Kaya [00:20:16] That’s because it’s February.


De’Ara [00:20:16] Oh is that what’s going on? They don’t have no black people working there.


DeRay [00:20:20] They have NBC Black, NBC Black, yeah Lily yeah, Lilly used to run and we like NBC Black.


De’Ara [00:20:26] It’s really cute.


De’Ara [00:20:27] That’s where I got my news on Mississippi. OK, so in Mississippi, black residents are desperate to get vaccinated.


De’Ara [00:20:34] How’s that for a twist? Because all we’ve been hearing, the national headlines are black people don’t want to take the vaccine.


De’Ara [00:20:41] Black people are hesitant, but evidently in Mississippi, they are trying to get it and facing all types of barriers. So here we have black folks in a town called Glendora, Mississippi, who are trying with all their might to get the vaccine to no avail. It’s a community where the nearest hospital is 20 miles away. More than 50 percent of the residents in Glendora live in poverty. There are no vaccination sites operating in Glandore, obviously, or all of Tallahatchie County. The county’s only hospital doesn’t expect to get vaccines until later this month. The nearest state run drive through vaccination clinic is in neighboring the LeFlore County, and that’s 30 miles away. And even with that, when the appointments go really quickly, that’s probably because the vaccine hunters are down there taking all the appointments. The mayor of the mayor of Glendora, Johnny Thomas, who was 67, spent an hour trying to reach someone on the state vaccination hotline, hoping to book a spot for himself. And we’ll learn later what he had to do to get vaccinated. Just to zoom out to the pandemic has hit Mississippi extremely hard, particularly in rural areas where folks are impoverished. And we’re seeing that the disparities are just adding up when it comes to these folks getting vaccinations.

Kaya [00:25:52] This just feels like a massive failure of leadership. I mean, we’ve got lots of examples of failure of leadership over the course of this pandemic, but literally not putting enough vaccination sites in places where people can get to them literally, like people don’t have cars and you have a drive thru thing where you have it. It doesn’t seem like and I I’ve had a job where people assumed a lot about what it takes to run a school district and why aren’t we doing this and why aren’t we doing that. And so I understand that things are complicated. But this Jeez Louise, it just seems like we’re not serious about getting vaccinations to the people who need it most and in this case, people who want it. Maybe folks assumed that these poor black folks didn’t want to take the vaccine, but in fact, they do. And, you know, we know how to plan things and we know how to distribute things. And and so the fact that they are waiting until the feds get a vaccination plan together just feels really I feel terrible for these Mississippians that the people who are their leaders in their states don’t seem to either be taking this seriously enough or can’t be creative enough to figure out how to get this.


Kaya [00:27:12] I mean, we just, Sam just talk to us about Alaskan’s getting across the frozen tundra to get their people vaccinated like. So there are a lot of times these things are a will issue, not a skill issue. And this just feels like you understood.


De’Ara [00:27:27] You better say that one more time. What was that?


Kaya [00:27:30] Will not skill, right? Like there are you you you understand how to do these things. You understand how to implement these kinds of programs. But if nobody wants to do it, if the will isn’t there to ensure that every resident of Glendora who wants a vaccine can get it, then it doesn’t matter. Like they won’t get it. And and so how do we help people? I mean, this just goes back to a lot of conversations that we’ve been having about how we feel about our fellow Americans. Like, don’t we care about these people? Aren’t these people? Isn’t their lot Tied up with ours like, don’t they belong to us, don’t we belong to them, why isn’t the leadership there prioritizing getting these people the medical help that they need? Oh, because you know why? Because they don’t actually worry about getting the medical help that they need generally. So why would we do that in a pandemic? I mean, it is infuriating.


Kaya [00:28:26] And I’m going to just shut my mouth now, because sometimes when you don’t have anything nice to say, you just don’t say anything.


Sam [00:28:34] Yeah. I mean, you know, the only thing that I’ll have to add is this is not the only problem of access. Right. That has happened, especially in Mississippi, but that we’ve seen all across the country. Right. We talk about lack of access in the context of food. We talk about lack of access in the context of education.


Sam [00:28:52] We talk about lack of access and in the context of being able to vote and the strategies around how do we reach people, we talk about the same communities, the same people who have been shut out from wealth, who’ve been shut out from healthy food, who’ve been shut out from the franchise, who’ve been shut out from the health care system and the ability to access vaccines. This reminds me of, you know, the feeling and we hear this all the time, this idea that folks only really care about black folks when it’s time to do an election, when it’s time for us to vote, then you have people ferreting out into communities, knocking on every door. You have microtargeting campaigns where they’re like, these are all the addresses where people over the age of 65 who are Democrats live. We’re going to knock every single one of these doors, make sure everybody has the information they need so that they can go and vote. And then when it comes time to administer a vaccine, we have all the same information, all the same data. We have the infrastructure. There are people who just knocked on these doors like in November. Why can’t we just mobilize this infrastructure that has been built around something that’s critically important, which is the vote in Mississippi where a whole lot of folks turned out to vote for Mike Espey. So why can’t we repurpose that same infrastructure in these same counties? Pair that with public health professionals who can administer the vaccines and make sure that every single one of these households gets a knock on the door and access to a vaccine. So you don’t have to go online. You don’t have to follow the governor’s Twitter. You don’t have to be paying attention because the vaccines coming to you. And so, you know, again, like this is this doesn’t seem like an impossible challenge. It seems like something that has been solved in other contexts. You mentioned Alaska. They have almost twice the rate of vaccinations as Mississippi and they go in across the tundra. And so, again, like this is a solvable problem. It’s it really is about political will.


DeRay [00:30:38] We’re going to get emails from people being like Sam thinks Alaska is all tundra. Sam does not think that all of Alaska’s tundra, you Alaskans, just so you know, we hear you already before you email us. OK, when I think about Mississippi, you know, it’s interesting when you look at the numbers, 70 percent of the people who are vaccinated are white, 19 percent are black. We know that that is not proportional to the racial demographics in Mississippi. When you also look at the vaccination map that they have, it’s sort of interesting. It is concentrated in the cities which, you know, you you might think.


DeRay [00:31:11] But it’s like we already know Covid isn’t only in the cities. You’re like, you just didn’t plan for this. What was interesting was that the highest number of first doses administered were actually in the drive thru, which you’ve already talked about.


DeRay [00:31:25] If you ain’t got a car sort of hard. And that the lowest number of vaccines administered was actually in pharmacies like not CVS and Walgreens, but sort of like day to day pharmacies. And it makes me think about like, what does it mean to make sure that pharmacies in remote places have the vaccine in our hospitals? And like, how do you actually sort of plan for this? I’m also interested to see the studies or whatever that comes out around second doses, like what’s the adherence rate for the second dose and then how many people sort of do and don’t? And what that looks like and, you know, they say that they’re making a couple million more doses, you know, like this is going to ramp up. And I hope it does. And schools should open back up in the world opens back up. You know, Kaya I was talking to somebody that made me think of your story WHO. He is older. He’s probably like 65. He was like, I got a covid shot because my son’s friend worked at the place near the, you know, like and he’s sort of like I felt bad about it. I also didn’t want to die, you know, and like it is this moment where you see people making these really interesting choices that might be against what they would normally say. But they’re like, this feels like a matter of life and death.


Sam [00:32:34] So so my news is about Denver, where we just got in some of the results from an initial program that they piloted in June to have mental health providers respond to a series of situations that up until then the police had been the primary responders, too. So what is interesting about this now we’ve seen in cities across the country that, you know, we’re starting to see a different approach begin to be piloted in places not only like Denver, but also in Portland, in New York City, in Oakland. In L.A. that have started to embark on a strategy that is not having the police respond to every single 911 call that is made and instead divert some of those calls to mental health providers, to social workers, to substance abuse counselors, to other people who, frankly, are better trained professionally and better prepared to deal with those situations and that also do not use force and threaten people in those calls. So in Denver, we just got the initial data in from that experiment, this pilot program, for the past six months, and the results look really strong. So there were a total of seven hundred and forty eight incidents where this they called the Star program. But really, this is a team of mental health providers that responds to some of these calls instead of the police. They drive around in a van. They have one van for the entire city that they drive around to respond to these calls. And in those 748 incidents, there was no use of force, there were no arrests and nobody went to jail. And so what is powerful about this is that they’re currently scaling up the program. So in part based on some of the initial results of that program, they’ve decided to make a three million dollar investment at the city level in expanding the program to handle about three percent of the total calls for service that the police department gets. Now, for context, the police department budget in Denver, it’s the police and sheriff’s department that have sort of consolidated jurisdiction and their total budget is about 400 million dollars. So three percent of that budget is about 11 million or so dollars. And yet for only three million dollars, they are actually going to be able to handle that same number of calls through an alternative rather than the police. So this highlights two things. One, that that this program can work, that a whole range of situations can be responded to by people who are not the police. And this really ranges from situations involving folks who are houseless, who actually make up the majority of calls in which the star program has responded to, to situations involving mental health issues and mental health crises, trespassing calls, suicidal situations, et cetera. But this broad range of incidents, the star program has proven that they can effectively respond to and connect people to services and supports rather than incarceration. That’s what’s happening in Denver. It creates a good foundation for what could happen in other cities as well, and proves that you can handle that, that folks who are not armed with a gun can not only respond to these calls effectively, can not only connect folks who need help with the help that they need, but can do it at a fraction of the cost that we’re currently giving the police to do it.


De’Ara [00:35:48] Sam, this reminds me actually of something when I was looking for articles that I came across this story in Minneapolis, since I’m always looking for news in Minneapolis, since that’s kind of hometown. But they just approved six point four million for the city’s police department to hire dozens more officers this year. So evidently after George Floyd, a lot of police officers like went on leave, I guess one hundred and fifty five officers are on leave and not available for duty. And so I think instead of being more creative and saying, what do we actually need these officers to do? What does it look like across the calls we’re getting and what we’re responding to? I couldn’t find anywhere that that analysis was done. It just was like there is crime, so we need more police. I don’t I also feel like people aren’t paying attention right now to Minneapolis, but they will be paying attention when the trial comes up. So I don’t know. I just thought that was an interesting just like I wish they would follow what Denver is doing. I just obviously these police departments are they aren’t coordinated, but I just that one hit me as being like, is that really what you should do with six point four million dollars?


Kaya [00:36:50] What was most interesting to me about this was that the police are actually calling the mental health clinicians and the other first responders, which one I think indicates that even the police people understand that policing isn’t always the first line of defense and they’re having such a positive experience. I think it portends a really strong partnership. So when police folks aren’t worried, they they feel like stuff is getting handled by the other clinicians and the clinicians are able to meet people’s needs without the police. I think then you get of you know, it’s not like just the mental health conditions are saying, oh, we should be doing this. You can come together and say this is a great partnership and that I hope other jurisdictions learn from. I actually think the police, they can actually ease the way for this to happen in other places because in other places, well, I think the the police infrastructure might be resistant to this. There are police people who are saying this is helpful to us. We are partnering well with them. And so I hope that the police will be advocates.


Kaya [00:38:05] For this kind of replication in other places,.


DeRay [00:38:08] You know, De’Ara, I hadn’t thought about Minneapolis, but I don’t know if you saw that the governor of Minnesota has called the National Guard to be on standby during the trial for Derek Chauven.


DeRay [00:38:18] And you’re like, what do you think people are goint to do during the trial?


DeRay [00:38:22] Like, no, like, come on, OK, like now you’re being a fear monger. Thank you, Governor. The other thing about Denver is I remember that Denver rehires more than half of officers who get fired. And it’s not the contract, it’s city policy. So like, you know, we often talk about no one of these strategies is enough in Denver as a case study in that. Right. Like this idea that this program is good. Yes. Like, let’s do it. And there’s a whole lot of other stuff that needs to happen in Denver. And, you know, Sam reminds us every time we talk about the police that it’s often a small number of officers who have a disproportionate impact on the department. Like those people got to go. It is hard to get them out of there, even in places like this. So while the police are all about programs like this, they are not all about them and then decreasing the number of officers. They want to maintain the number of officers or increase the number of officers and transition to programs like this. Like, no, like that doesn’t work.


DeRay [00:39:17] And the police are the first people to be like, we’re not social workers. We’re we’re like, we agree. We want you. So let us move the responsibilities.


DeRay [00:39:24] And then they freak out. Right. So I’m actually happy. What makes me happy about this being in Denver is that so many of the programs that we hear about are in places with no people of color. Right. It’s like all white communities. And you’re like, OK, but tell me how this alternative response looks in a place where black people or Latino people and then.


DeRay [00:39:42] I want to and then I’m ready to talk to you in Denver actually helps us think about that. So I was interested in this because so there is a and I’m actually interested to hear what everybody has to say about this. So I came across this. There is a new paper that was put out by Professor Francis Stanier Francis. She’s a researcher at UMass Boston. And it is called “Do School Counselors Exhibit Bias in Recommending Students for Advanced Coursework?” And what she finds is that in a blinded name swap experiment that black female high school students are significantly less likely to be recommended for AP calculus compared to other students with identical academic credentials. What is interesting is when you think about the way that racism and bias shows up across a host of indicators and you look at things like AP courses, which honestly I haven’t even thought about since we’ve all been stuck at home for so long. But it was really interesting to see the female students were penalized less for having borderline behavior while male students were penalized less for having borderline academics. It was just like really interesting. And to think about what happened in this study with black girls and showing that like there is racism present in the way that people are recommended for courses, the way that black girls specifically are targeted was something that I wanted to bring here. You know, it was interesting. And she notes here that school counselors were significantly less likely to recommend black girls for AP calculus and both the weakest and strongest profile scenarios. And she even goes to say that black female transcript in the strongest academic and behavioral profile was was equally as likely to be recommended for AP calculus as the blinded profile in the weakest academic and behavioral profile. So it’s like for black girls, it may not even be enough to study, like you could be the best student you could literally be. And still you are less likely to be recommended. So it was like this was both disheartening because it was like WHO like, you know, people tell you to do your best, be the best, didn’t it?


DeRay [00:41:46] It and like yet that doesn’t seem like it actually matters all that much given the way that racism sort of shows up in the education system. So wanted to hear what everybody to think about it. It was interesting to me and I don’t I don’t know what the fix is. I mean, she talks about some solutions here, but about reducing bias in blind reviews. But this both worried me and I was interested to see it.


De’Ara [00:42:12] But I was raised to believe by my parents is if my little black self just worked as hard as I could and just did everything right and just was well behaved and did all my tap dancing in my tap shoes, that I would be able to at least get a little something or at least get in the door.


De’Ara [00:42:32] And I think what this study shows is that even if you are good academically and the most well-behaved, if you are a black girl child, you guys can’t see me, but I’m just shrugging my shoulders. The hopefulness that I am pulling from this is that more research will be done on on black girls because it is rare for anything. I mean, I think this study like kind of accidently showed what happened. I don’t know if the the goal was to was to problem solve for inequities that little black girls faced. But hopefully we see more things like this, the only study I know that’s kind of in the in the realm is that it talks about how black girls are kind of natural leaders until about middle school and then things kind of take a pivot because of the world. Yeah. Don’t don’t don’t have much else on this one. Interested what the mother, sister, friend on this airline has to say.


Kaya [00:43:27] I mean, I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not at all. Not at all. I mean, there are lots of studies that show the disparate impact or the disparate treatment of kids of color, poor kids, rural kids on access to things like AP, to SAT, to competitive colleges and universities. The College Board has actually done a really good job of documenting the fact that so many kids are under matched, so many poor kids, so many kids of color, so many rural kids are under matched because their counselors aren’t giving them the appropriate information. Their counselors aren’t telling them to schools that they would be competitive at. They just don’t have the information. And I also can’t help but recognize that counselors, most counselors don’t look like many of the kids that they serve. Some 60, almost 62 percent of counselors are white, and that is actually a mismatch from many of the kids they serve. So surprised? No, I mean, we know that talent is distributed equally, but access is not. And this is the thing that I that many of us have spent all of our careers in education trying to fight because we know that if you give these kids the same opportunity, I mean, this is why in my school district and lots of others, we give the SAT in class. We require we require AP classes in all of our high schools, not just some of our high schools. I mean, there is oh, my gosh, don’t get me started. I mean, I guess at the end of the day, this study and many others will continue to say the same thing. But this is a will thing as well until we start to see black girls the way we see white girls or white boys or whoever else, then we’re going to continue to see this disparate treatment. Black girls are smart as anybody else. They should have access to these classes. And when they do, many of them perform at the same level as other kids. But we don’t want to give them a chance. And then we wonder why. Come on, listen, OK, sorry y’all got me fired up tonight.


Kaya [00:45:43] That’s ridiculous. This is I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. If I told you how many freakin AP classes I went into college with, like it was bananas. And that was just because I got a good public school education in my regular old town. It wasn’t super spectacular. It wasn’t whatever whatever. I had access to great teachers, to a good education and to the AP exams that then catapulted me into a decent college career. And every black girl in America should have those options.


Kaya [00:46:12] But we can’t even get vaccinations to people in Mississippi who want them. So why are we surprised?


Sam [00:46:18] Yeah, I mean, the only thing that that I’ll add is like this is not surprising, but it is nevertheless shocking and alarming. We just see case after case after case study after study, they changed the methodology. They changed the design. They make it experimental. All of this. And the result is the same every single time, exposing new facets of racism, new facets of inequity, new layers of mysognoir. And all of this just on top, on top, on top of the existing sort of foundation of what we already know, which is that institutional and systemic racism is a determinative or defining aspect of how the American economy, the American political system, how the American health care system, how all of these the education system, it is endemic to all of these systems and must be uprooted. You know, for me, reading through this research, it reminded me it took me all the way back to elementary school. And I think this was maybe like third grade, second grade. I was like too little to really even remember how old I was. But I remember my mom having to fight the school to get me into gifted and talented.


Sam [00:47:26] You had to do like an IQ test. I got above the score that you’re supposed to get even. I mean, the IQ test itself is racist, right? So, like, I had to jump through that racist whoop then, like, you got the score you’re supposed to get. And like, still, they didn’t want to put me in the program, like, they just didn’t want to put me in the program. So my mom had to fight and like, I don’t even remember that many things from that age. But like, this is something that just like sticks in my memory because, like, I didn’t know why I wasn’t good enough for the program.  Did I not test high enough was enough smart enough. Like, why was it that my mom was having to fight to put me into the program? Like, why didn’t they want me? And then, like, you get put in the program. Right. And literally, like the kids were like playing video games, like it was all these white kid. They weren’t doing anything, you know, like they were put in this program where they were just in proximity to one another and they were like, you know, you did a little bit of math, but like, it didn’t make sense to me.


Sam [00:48:14] Like why why the system was the way that it was, why I was feeling the way it was, why I wasn’t good enough for the program. And that was like a small microcosm. Right. That’s a small moment times a million, you know, every single day that folks are experiencing, especially black women in the education system, in the workplace, in all of these different systems and structures.


Sam [00:48:36] And then, like, you beat that system, right?


Sam [00:48:38] You get in the programs, you get the classes, you get to college, you get your degree, and then you look at these wealth gap numbers and it turns out that a white family with no that didn’t even complete high school has more wealth than a black family with a college degree. So you can jump through every single hoop and you still end up with a fraction of what the least qualified white person has.


Sam [00:49:02] So, again, like it is, it’s infuriating. It’s maddening. It’s why this work is so important. It’s why on a policy level, we need to be identifying every single aspect of these inequities so that we can target them and remove them. And it’s also why, you know, we need to have leadership in the education system in all of these systems that is committed to doing that work.


DeRay [00:49:24] Don’t go anywhere, more Pod Save the People’s coming.  A life In basketball has fueled JJ Reddick’s fascination with leadership. And now as a part of a special series on his podcast, the 15 year NBA veteran and his co-host, Tommy Alter, whose amazing Leave the hardwood behind and sit down with some of the most successful people in business and beyond, from CEOs and coaches to thought leaders and trailblazers. And they discuss lessons they’ve learned and the experiences that shaped them.


Kaya [00:49:50] They recently sat down with Disney executive chairman Bob Iger in a candid interview about his incredible journey to media mogul the success of Marvel and the dangers of becoming overconfident. Join J.J. and Tommy as they dig deep with some of the biggest names in business, entertainment and politics, like author, attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson, one of my faves on his incredible human rights work that inspired the blockbuster hit Just Mercy.


DeRay [00:50:17] To listen to The Old Man and the Three on Apple podcast, Spotify, Radio.com, or wherever you listen to your shows.  Pod Save the People is brought to you by Nutrafol 30 million women are impacted by weakening or thinning hair.


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DeRay [00:51:39] And now I check in with Johnetta Elzie as she gives updates on what’s happening with the protests.


Netta [00:51:43] Hey, everyone, it’s me, Netta. Thanks for tuning back in. Last week, I mentioned being super anxious about something I was doing. And so. Well, by now, if you follow me anywhere online, you probably saw the NBA on TNT and the arena gave me four minutes and 30 seconds of their airtime to speak directly to America from my heart about the state of where we are right now. This opportunity came through my homeboy master and an old college friend from way back a SEMO.


Netta [00:52:14] So shout out to Keith, who’s also from St. Louis. I’ve talked about how introverted I am and how I love being alone with Sage or with close friends, and that’s really about it. So it took so much for me to just say yes to this opportunity, but I had to look all of that fear. And again, my astrology lovers, my Virgo moon anxiety straight in the face and tell it to go somewhere because we have business to do in my city’s name.


Netta [00:52:43] It was important for me to give time and space to those of us who were on the ground in Ferguson on August nine twenty fourteen after Mike Brown was fatally shot by Police Officer Darren Wilson. That day.


Netta [00:52:57] That first night, our bonds and our wounds in the early days during the uprisings at home were forged in the fires of sleepless nights, days before that burned and brought national attention, national people and others to our city. No matter what happens, I’ll always have a special place in my heart and honor those who were there on the first day and the next day and the next month and the months that followed.


Netta [00:53:24] And of course, those who are still out there holding it down. I wrote that piece as a way for almost thirty two year old Johnetta to honor what freshly twenty five year old Johnetta, who was grieving her mother, would have said if she had it all together back then. I’m continuously trying to find ways to honor the brave, courageous, fearless Johnetta from twenty fourteen. So I hope you all check out the PSA and I can’t thank John, Eric, Master, Keith and everyone else that wanted me enough for the opportunity. So now onto the news.


Netta [00:53:59] So I’m one for calling a spade a spade. And let me tell you, this is a white supremacist royal flush.


Netta [00:54:07] NYPD Sergeant Dana Martillo wore not one but two highly visible Trump patches on her uniform while on duty at a Brooklyn protest on February 5th, which would have been Trayvon Martin’s twenty sixth birthday. One patch had Trump in all caps at the front and the statement Make Enforcement Great Again. Twenty twenty beneath it. The other featured a Crayola yellow version of the Cheetos hair, a top Marvel Comics punishers logo. According to the NYPD, an officer has already received initial discipline for wearing a politically oriented patch. That officer is likely this woman, Sergeant Dana Martillo.


Netta [00:54:53] But here’s the thing.


Netta [00:54:54] Well, actually, here’s a few things. The symbols she chose to wear to a Black Lives Matter protest, represent and endorse a man who incites violence, riots and upholds and encourages white supremacy and white nationalism. WHO is she? An officer of the law or an officer of Trump, seems like those patches let anyone who’s wondering know that she’d protect and serve Trump supporters, proud boys and other racist. And if that wasn’t enough, this woman chose to wear her mask beneath her nose. A video clip shows her lowering her mask to blow a kiss at somebody. I’m not even going to address that so nasty and then put her mask right back beneath her nose. So she now represents yet another deadly threat to marginalized communities she encounters for refusing to properly wear her mask. Despite what NYPD commissioner said about officers need to remain apolitical because it’s essential to public trust in officers ability to perform their jobs. The performance here is anyone trying to conveniently forget that multiple NYPD police unions endorsed Trump in twenty sixteen and in twenty twenty. This isn’t about an individual officer. This is the racist culture of policing in New York and in America at large.


Netta [00:56:23] In today’s respecting black humanity is optional headlines. “A Utah charter school is in the hot seat for giving parents the option to opt their children out of Black History Month curriculum.” Apparently offering this extremely ridiculous option was, in the words of the school directors, giving parents a chance to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school civil rights.


Netta [00:56:53] When and where do black people ever get to opt out of whiteness? White storytelling, whitewashing of history, the black history that’s taught in American schools is already profoundly embarrassing, giving that most of it already starts African-Americans existence on the planet as only slaves in America, while maybe a chapter or two about centuries of sickening antiblack violence and oppression. And don’t think I forgot about the teachers who continue to create “pretend you are slave assignments” even here in twenty twenty one. Up next.


Netta [00:57:30] Unsurprisingly, Amazon is using ridiculous tactics to try to break up workers from unionizing.


Netta [00:57:37] Some of those tactics include posting anti-union propaganda in employee bathrooms and straight to their phones via text, anti-union meetings that seem to be more along the lines of attempts to brainwash our haze employees and even allegedly got the city to change the traffic light timing so employees couldn’t talk to union organizers station near the Amazon warehouse.


Netta [00:58:01] It seems like a showdown is about to go down in Bessemer, Alabama, where the 80 percent of the city’s workers are black and living below the poverty lines.


Netta [00:58:10] Those black folks, along with others organizing, are fighting to create the first union within Amazon since the pandemic started. Amazon workers worldwide have gone on strike to protest unhealthy working conditions. Last quarter, Amazon made over one hundred twenty five point five billion dollars. Imagine the median income in Bessemer is just over thirty one thousand dollars. There are thousands of Amazon workers in Bessemer, some who could vote as early as this week to unionize.


Netta [00:58:45] I come from a proud union family and have been a member of a union before in my career. I believe in people over entities and people over billionaires and their kind.


Netta [00:58:56] Seems that twenty, twenty one is indeed the reckoning that so many have been avoiding. Last but not least, my good and dear friend, Dr. Sherri Williams, who I’ve mentioned on the show plenty of times before, recently wrote a piece called The Insurrection for the NAACP Crisis magazine.


Netta [00:59:14] You best believe we’re going to talk about it today. Let’s start with this riveting quote. “The law enforcement responses to the rioters was quite different than what we saw last summer when Black Lives Matter protesters marched peacefully in cities throughout the nation during the chaos at the US Capitol. We didn’t see clouds of tear gas go thrust toward the massive crowd nor rubber bullets discharged from officers guns. We also didn’t see batons swinging from their hands and pounding the bodies of the mostly white invaders who bombarded federal grounds.” That kind of authoritative response seems to be reserved for black activists and allies. So now listen, in my personal experience as a citizen journalist who just so happened to walk out of my home and into chaos and collective trauma that was reacting to yet another innocent black life left dead in the street, people love to tell me that I was lying. When I hit the streets in 2014. I actually really stayed in them. What I witnessed and experienced during those early, early days of Ferguson was white supremacy, working like the well oiled, highly American machine that it is. Birmingham had Bull Connor and church bombs. Selma had Bloody Saturday, and in Ferguson we had a burning QuikTrip gas station in their spare time. Folks love to mind my business.


Netta [01:00:42] So somebody search led them to the reality that I did not graduate from college by 2014. Therefore, to them I must have been one of those uneducated blacks who couldn’t possibly know anything. I wonder if their research showed them that many local police officers are not required to have a bachelor’s degree. My mentions in emails from seven years ago are receipts of these petty, ugly attempts to belittle my God given intelligence. So what happens when Dr. Sherry Williams identifies and says that she witnessed the same? How will whiteness and white supremacy try to discredit my friends, real and true emotions based on what she has seen and what we know to be true in this country regarding the treatment of black people, black resistance and black uprisings.


Netta [01:01:31] So Dr. Sherry continues on saying, “I saw white supremacy, white privilege and white. Arrogance, a treacherous and explosive entanglement of toxic whiteness explode and detonate the ideas of democracy and decorum that Americans hold so dear, only to leave open wounds that will not heal any time soon.” These Trump supporters, those in the streets and in Congress, saw themselves as patriots. But black folks knew that if they had carried out these acts of insurrection, it would have meant automatic death for them. And I’ve said this on the podcast many times before, but again, maybe it’ll hit different comes from Dr. Sherry Williams when it comes to race in this country. The writing is on the wall that is was so sick and pervasive about white supremacy. The goalposts are constantly on the move for whomever is on the other side of that privilege.


Netta [01:02:26] I will wait to hear whatever feedback Dr. Sherry received on her beautifully written piece and share here, if I can.


Netta [01:02:34] Thanks so much for tuning in this week and I’ll talk to you soon.


DeRay [01:02:38] Hey, You’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere.


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DeRay [01:04:29] Tishaura Jones is from St. Louis. I met her during the protests way back in 2014. And since 2013, she served as a treasurer of St. Louis, the first African-American woman to hold the position. And now she’s running again to be the mayor of St. Louis with the conversation about public safety, about homelessness, about poverty, key to our platform.


DeRay [01:04:50] It was an honor to talk to her. She’s the best here for yourself. Tishaura, Thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:04:57] Thanks for having me. I’m excited.


DeRay [01:04:59] So I’m excited because you have some exciting news that you are running to be the next mayor of St. Louis City. And, you know, as we jump into that, can you just talk about your journey in public life? You are already an elected official citywide. Why, Mayor, what have you learned like in the role that you’ve already been in? Yeah, let’s start there.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:05:21] Yeah. So again, thanks for having me. I have been treasurer for the last eight years, and before that I did a stint in the Missouri House of Representatives and was actually elected leadership in the Missouri House as assistant minority floor leader. And I come from a political family. My dad was a controller for many years in the city alderman assessor. I had quite the career in politics. But, you know, a lot of times when your parents do one thing, you’re not going to follow in their footsteps. So I thought I wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps. There are things about your genetic makeup or like my mother used to always say, the quickest way to make God laugh is to tell him what you would never do. So I got back to a career in politics and I’ve been here ever since and I love what I do now.


DeRay [01:06:12] Why, Mayor, you’ve been treasurer. You’ve had a chance to do some good stuff for the city. Why, Mayor?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:06:18] Well, I believe that elections nine miles away have more of an impact on your day to day lifestyle than elections nine hundred miles away outside of the most recent presidential election. Of course, you know, when you’re in local politics, that’s an opportunity for you to make real change and see that change in real time, and I’ve been treasurer for eight years and I’ve been able to do a lot of great things for my community in financial empowerment, starting a children’s saving program and then also for the city in upgrading a city department, totally turning that around from something that was totally mired in corruption and turning it into a highly functioning and efficient department. And then also as treasurer, I’m the chief investment officer. I’ve been able to make over 30 million dollars in investments for the city over the last eight years. But I want to take that same spirit of innovation, that same can do attitude to the mayor’s office because St. Louis needs help. I mean, you’ve spent time here. You know that St. Louis needs help. And I want to be that mayor that turns this city around and part of a larger discussion about our region and turning our region around.


DeRay [01:07:32] I love it. So what is what’s on the horizon? You know, when we look at the numbers, St Louis City has the highest rate of police violence in the United States in terms of the top 100 cities. There are other issues around poverty, around education, around childhood access to resources. You have a whole platform about a host of issues. How would you describe the biggest issues that are facing voters today in the city? And then like, what are you going to do about it? What would your administration do? That’s unlike the current administration or administrations that have been there before.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:08:01] At the base of my platform is a guiding principle that you should be able to succeed here no matter what identity you hold, no matter your skin color, who you love, how you worship your zip code. None of those should determine your opportunity, in my opinion. No one thing that’s facing St. Louis right now is we have the highest police killings per capita of any city in the country or the top 100 cities in the country. We also have had a really violent year in twenty twenty where we had a record number of murders. And I think we need to declare gun violence as a public health crisis and address it accordingly, because when you do, you bring everybody to the table, just as we saw with this pandemic, right when they declared a pandemic, everybody’s at the table. That’s the same approach that we need to gun violence in our city. And then when you declare it as a public health crisis, you look at the root causes. You look at the data, you look at where a lot of this is occurring and WHO and then you attack it that way. And in my opinion, we have to attack poverty and the inequalities that are inherent within this region, the systemic racism that’s inherent within this city, because we’re one of the most hyper segregated places in the country and start to have those real hard conversations that we thought were going to happen after Ferguson. But we still have not fully addressed it head on. And that’s going to be the difference in my administration versus what’s currently going on with the current mayor.


DeRay [01:09:37] One of the things that you talk about in the plan is a local living wage ordinance and a homeless bill of rights. Can you talk about why you think that matters? Is there not a living wage right now that’s the law. Is it far from a living wage? Like what? Why is that an issue?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:09:52] We passed the living wage ordinance several years ago and unfortunately, the state then preempted and rolled it back. Poverty is the root cause of crime and we need to pay all of our people a living wage so they can take care of their families. I was the first elected official in the city to increase my minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour, and I immediately was able to see how that made a huge change in the life of the people who worked for me. I had employees come up to me or send me cards saying, you know, thank you for increasing my wages to fifteen dollars because now I don’t have to make that choice of whether or not I’m going to pay a bill or eat this month. And so it’s small things like that that makes huge changes in the lives of people. And like I said, the legislature has preempted as so we’re going to see whatever we can do to increase wages. And I do believe that the mayor has already signaled that she was going to do that just before we got into the pandemic just last year. But you’re also starting to see other companies, private and public, that are going to fifteen dollars on their way to fifteen dollars. And when I talk about a homeless bill of Rights, you know, I want to make sure that we do whatever we can to take care of our own house and also work with organizations that are currently taking care of our own house and what I call God’s work, making sure that they have rights. Because right now in St. Louis, is, we criminalize homelessness, we criminalize panhandling, we criminalize being in the park for too long after curfew. And so we need to provide options for our own house to get back on their feet, we need to provide mental health and substance abuse services. We need to partner with other organizations for sobering centers and also partner with our region to make sure that homeless services are available not just in the city, but other places in the region as well.


DeRay [01:11:58] That makes sense to me. And what can we do? One of the things that you had an interesting plan about that I was like, let me ask her about. It was a St. Louis baby kit. About family planning and reproductive rights? Like how did you lead to this? And what is the baby kiy?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:12:11] Yes. So in Finland, every child born receives a new baby box and it includes a whole host of resources that our families need to be successful in those first few months of having a child. There’s no better way that we can show how we care for our children than to start taking care of them at birth. And so we have a college savings program that starts in kindergarten. But we also need to make sure that we’re taking care of our newborns. And then unfortunately, with African-Americans and other people of color, maternal mortality rates are sky high. So this is one way of the city trying to do what it what we can to address maternal mortality.


DeRay [01:12:58] Can you talk about the the college program you set up? There are a lot of people, I think, who are listening who don’t know what that is.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:13:04] Yes, absolutely. So the College Kids Children’s Savings Account program gives a college savings account to every kindergarten student entering a public school in the city of St. Louis. And what I didn’t tell your listeners was that the treasurer in St. Louis is also the parking supervisor. So I am in control of all of the city owned parking infrastructure. So that’s meters as garages, surface parking tickets. And so a portion of the revenue that we collect from the parking division goes to fund this program. We load the account with the first fifty dollars and there are incentives attached to it that we raise privately. Those incentives currently are matched savings, good attendance and parents participation and financial education courses. And we did the financial education piece because this is a two generation strategy. We use the child as an entry point to the family to increase their financial capability. And so far we have over eighteen thousand children with over a million dollars saved for their future and growing. We started the program because it’s copied off of another city, San Francisco, that has a similar program. But also research at Washington University shows that children with less than five hundred dollars saved are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to complete college than children without savings. So we know that two thirds of the jobs of the future are going to require some sort of post-secondary education. And this is a way to bridge that gap and funding for post-secondary options.


DeRay [01:14:41] That is.  Have you seen it be effective yet or is it too early or like have you seen people take it like how is it? Has it been.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:14:45] Oh, we’ve seen the effects in real time. So that’s again, that that local government piece. Right. And we’ve seen families use our financial education options to refinance existing debt, to fix their credit, to get access to our home mortgage programs, to buy their first home open accounts for themselves or other children in their family. And we’ve seen also with the kids that, you know, it changes their also their social, emotional health. So we’ve seen the changes that this program has been able to accomplish in real time. And if elected mayor, I want to expand it and bookend it so that not only are we taking care of kids financial health as they get into school, but how are we also taking care of our kids that are about to graduate and partner with our local community colleges and vocational and technical schools to offer free or reduced tuition to give our kids options as they graduate from high school? So I see this program as a game changer for our region to make sure that our children can get the training they need, the education they need in order to get into the middle class and take care of themselves and their families.


DeRay [01:15:56] You will be mayor in the time of covid. And I’ve seen so many cities really struggle because, you know, they want to do big things and there legitimately is there’s not as much money as there used to be for a host of reasons, because a covid. How do you think that impacts the way you think about what it will be like to be mayor? Like covid still is continuing. It has had a big impact on the St. Louis region, St. Louis city, like what’s the plan?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:16:24] There obviously is going to be difficult. Nobody wants to be the mayor in the middle of a pandemic. But I also see it as an opportunity. You know, it also may be a time to raise. As our government, one of the other things I’ve noticed is that our police department is also larger than eight other cities, the same size as St. Louis. And I think that this is an opportunity for us to really take a look at how we can do things more efficiently and effectively, how we can reduce our spending in certain areas, how we can things differently on the local level. I think the other big piece missing from the equation is we don’t yet know what the aid is going to be from the federal level. We know that the Biden Harris administration has a whole host of plans to invest in infrastructure and to invest in cities. And so we want to be poised to take advantage of those opportunities when they come down the pipeline.


DeRay [01:17:26] Got it. And what about schools? What’s the mayor’s role in making sure that every kid has a great education every day? Is there no role to him as the mayor sort of ancillary? How does that factor into your plan?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:17:36] The mayor has no direct role with our school district. However, that doesn’t mean that the mayor can’t be a better partner and a better advocate. And I will be that mayor. I’m a single mom with the most adorable 13 year old son. And so I look at my job as a mother, as paramount and first in everything that I do. And so I will be definitely paying attention to the health and well-being of our families and of our children and what I can do as mayor to be a better partner to our district and charter schools and public and private schools. Right. My goal is to help those leaders deliver a quality education no matter where that school is located within our city. And that’s where I see my role as mayor with education.


DeRay [01:18:24] And since you bring up being a mom, how has and I’m sure he if he heard you call him adorable at 13 years old, he’d be like, mom, I’m 13, I’m a teenager. How is being a mother impacted the way you think about your responsibility or your role in public service.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:18:44] Oh it effects me every dayYou know, because I want to make sure that the decisions I make, he’ll be proud of me. So it affects how I deal with people, how I interact with people, because the last thing I want is for him to be 21, 22 years old and look up his mother’s Twitter feed and say, oh, she was horrible, you know. So, you know, I try to have that as a lens that I’ve looked through. Look at things through. I just, you know, make him proud of me. And, you know, he’s he’s, you know, since twenty seventeen when I lost the mayor’s race, then, you know, back only eight hundred and eighty eight votes. He asked almost every day since. Are you going to run again. Are you going to run again Mom. Are you going to run again. And when I finally tell him I would you know, he was excited but scared about that. And one discussion we had that nearly stopped me in my tracks was we were talking about, you know, what the responsibilities of the mayor was. And he asked me about police and he said, well, mom, would you be over the police? I said, yeah, mommy would be over the police. And he said, Oh, good. But that means I’ll be safe. And it stopped me in my tracks because his mother should not have to become the mayor in order for him to feel safe around police.


DeRay [01:20:00] You’re right.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:20:01] That was a sobering conversation that we had.


DeRay [01:20:04] One of these I want to ask about, too, is about immigrant families. There’s a sizable population of immigrant families in St. Louis.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:20:10] As mayor, how can you support those communities in St. Louis that has the largest population of Bosnian refugees outside Serbia? And this happened in the 90s. And we do have a sizable immigrant population. And I believe that the mayor has a responsibility to make sure that St. Louis is welcoming for everyone, no matter who you love or how you worship or where you came from. And so that’s working with our existing organizations like the International Institute to make sure that we do our part in city government to make sure that we’re welcoming and providing a welcoming environment. And that could be making sure that a lot of our propaganda or our a lot of our brochures are translated in different languages so they can navigate city government or navigate the city. So I look forward to working with our immigrant population and our advocates for immigrants to make St. Louis a more welcoming place.


DeRay [01:21:10] Is there a way that people can get involved to support the campaign or not?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:21:14] Yes, absolutely. So, you know, you can go to our website at Tishaura4Maor.com, TISHAURA4MAYOR.com and sign up and volunteer because we have people phone banking all over the country in this race. And so far we’ve knocked on over 40000 doors. Made over 10000 phone calls. Election Day is in twenty six days, I believe. Twenty six. Twenty five days, but who’s counting? And we are going to need all the help we can get to get through the primary and through the runoff because we have a new election system This time. People are calling it a jungle primary where you can vote for as many candidates as you want to or as you approve of in the primary. And the top two vote getters then go on to the runoff a month later.


DeRay [01:22:07] So Tishaura I also wanted to think about how do you think about St. Louis sitting in the context of Missouri, like why does St. Louis matter in the state context or in the national context.  If oyu win you’ll be a leader that helps to set the tone for the area, I believe. How do you think about the city in a larger context?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:22:23] I think of the city in a larger context, especially being in a red state. A lot of times, you know, the urban areas are run by Democrats and sit in red states. St. Louis is in the middle of the country, but also St. Louis is the economic engine for the state with us and Kansas City. You know, we provide almost two thirds of the tax revenue that’s collected by the state of Missouri.


DeRay [01:22:48] Really?


Tishaura O. Jones [01:22:49] Yes. Yes.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:22:51] So I look at it as a way to get together with our St. Louis County executive fanpage, as well as the mayor of Kansas City to see how we can start to not just necessarily flex their muscles, but come together on two or three agenda items that we can work with the legislature to move forward on. I don’t think that our legislature has ever seen where the leaders of our urban areas, the elected leaders of our urban areas, are actually in lockstep on anything. And this is an opportunity to do so. I see the mayor as sort of a convener of sorts to bring people to the table with different ideas and to sort of craft an agenda or craft a path forward not only for the region, but also to work with our legislature to craft a path forward for our state. Because if St. Louis fails in St. Louis County fails and Kansas City fails, then the whole state fails. So we have to see our destinies as linked and we have to work together on making sure that we are again providing an opportunity, an environment where everyone can succeed no matter what identity they hold.


DeRay [01:24:04] Well we consider you a friend of the pod.  Can’t wait to have you back.


Tishaura O. Jones [01:24:05] Thank you so much. I appreciate this DeRay.


DeRay [01:24:11] Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure that you rate it wherever you get your podcast whether it’s Apple podcast or somewhere else. I’ll see you next week.  Pod Save the People is a production of Cooked Media.


DeRay [01:24:24] It’s produced by Brock Wilbur and mixed by Bill Lancz.  Our Executive producers Jessica Cordova Kraamer and myself. Special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger and Sam Sinyangwe and our special contributor Johnetta Elzie.