Y'all Focused on the Wrong Things | Crooked Media
Sign up for Vote Save America 2024: Organize or Else, find your team, and get ready to win. Sign up for Vote Save America 2024: Organize or Else, find your team, and get ready to win.
April 09, 2024
Pod Save The People
Y'all Focused on the Wrong Things

In This Episode

Trump faced with law and order, Trans Visibility Day lands on Easter, an attempt to bar incarcerated people from the sky, a biased test stands between Black people and kidney transplants and fem creatives’ ongoing battle for rest.



Trump loses bids to dismiss classified docs, Georgia election cases on the same day

“Unforgivable”: José Andrés’ NGO says 7 aid workers killed in Gaza strike

Joe Biden calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza and says Israel must protect civilians to keep US support

A biased test kept thousands of Black people from getting a kidney transplant. It’s finally changing

Republicans slam Biden for proclaiming Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter, though it’s yearly observed on March 31

For Female Creatives, A Call to (Non) Action

N.Y Prison Will Let Inmates Go Outdoors to View Eclipse After Lawsuit 







DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it’s me, Myles, Kaya, and De’Ara talking about the news from the past week with regard to race, justice and equity that went underreported. We talk about everything from the White House to college basketball to health equity. Talk about a lot of stuff. Here we go. [music break]




De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson, aka Cowboy Johnson. [laughter] You can find me on Twitter, and Instagram and TikTok at @pharaohrapture. 


Kaya Henderson: Ooh, Cowboy Kaya here at @HendersonKaya on Twitter. 


DeRay Mckesson: It’s DeRay at @deray on Twitter.


De’Ara Balenger: Starting off real quick on, you know, today’s happenings and Donald Trump’s legal troubles and battles. You know, always something in the news about all these multiple criminal and civil um cases that are pending against Donald Trump. But um, as of last Thursday, he lost back to back court rulings in separate attempts to dismiss indictments against him, um in two of his four active criminal cases. So in Florida, the judge there rejected his bid to drop charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents. You all remember those classified documents that were in bathrooms and everything like that in his house? 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: Um. And that ruling came down two hours after a Fulton County Superior Court judge denied Trump’s request to dismiss his Georgia election interference case on the grounds that it violated his free speech rights. So just the fact that his lawyers are making so much money off of these foolish, foolish defenses is just beyond, beyond me. But that’s the latest and greatest. Losing, losing, losing and owing a lot of people moneys. That’s the current status of a lot of people’s uh Republican nominee for president of these here United States. 


Kaya Henderson: Do you think that these lawyers think that they’re going to get paid because this man has some financial problems, right? And all these billable hours are racking up. And so–


De’Ara Balenger: Kaya. That is a miraculous question, honestly. [banter]


DeRay Mckesson: But those billionaire, the billionaire friends keep paying bills and–


Kaya Henderson: Paying that’s true. That is true. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


De’Ara Balenger: But no but they said. But no, I think they they’ve been tightening those purse strings because they’re just like how much is enough. 


Myles E. Johnson: Them gold sneakers–


Kaya Henderson: Well he is hosting–


Myles E. Johnson: –are paying for it. Them sixty dollar–


Kaya Henderson: He’s hosting–


Myles E. Johnson: –bibles is paying for them lawyers. [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: 59.99. 


Kaya Henderson: Wait. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: He’s hosting a fundraiser today at Mar-A-Lago. And the price of admission is 800 large, $800,000 to get–


DeRay Mckesson: What? 


Kaya Henderson: –into his fundraiser chile.


Myles E. Johnson: I didn’t even know. Is that is that the street term for a thousand, eight hundred large? Because I was gagging at $800, $800,000? 


Kaya Henderson: $800,000. 


Myles E. Johnson: Whoa. [banter] [laughter]


DeRay Mckesson: [?] a street term, oh that was good. [laughter] But did you see that Tish James, you know, because remember that billionaire? Um.


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: Filed the bond in New–


Kaya Henderson: Yes. The auto. 


DeRay Mckesson: –York City. And she–


Kaya Henderson: The auto dealer or whatever he is, used car salesman. 


DeRay Mckesson: And she went to court like uh uh.


Kaya Henderson: She said it’s not legit.


DeRay Mckesson: Let’s make sure you got the money. Come on.


Kaya Henderson: It’s not legit. But I love, I love, I mean, Tish James. Keep giving it to him sis. Give it to him. Mmm. Whatever law school she went to can we all just uh, make a little donation to thank them for preparing her so well? Good grief. 


DeRay Mckesson: I will say that like and I know this. I know this goes without saying, but there is no Black person in the history of this country who could openly commit as many crimes as this man. Do it in public. Like I I even think about the gag order that he got against not talking about the judge. So then he attacked the judge’s children and then said that the judge’s children were not included in the gag order, and the DA had to say, you’re right. We didn’t write the judge’s children in. There is no world where if anybody else had done that, they would just be in jail. They’d be, you know, forget what was in the gag order. They would have just arrested that person. But he does it on TV and people are like, let’s amend the gag order. Like what? 


Kaya Henderson: Crazy. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. And I think it’s also just not just his, his whiteness. I think that it’s just how many people are interested in keeping him politically powerful, because he will do and say what you want him to do and say if the price is right, you know? So I think that that is and that’s, that is somebody who’s just, you know, immeasurabl um valuable to the far right, conservative, whatever, blah, blah, blah name they using for themselves now, I call them super villains. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, speaking of super villains. [laughter] The saga continues in Gaza. So we got news over the weekend that the IDF deliberately murdered seven humanitarian aid workers that were with World Central Kitchen. These are young folks who had been going country to country, serving thousands upon thousands of meals, whether that’s in hurricane, whether that’s in Covid. They raised their hand to go to Gaza to serve meals and were so prominently dressed in the vehicle they were in were all they were on a humanitarian route. All that to say, what all the news reports are saying. What José Andrés, who is the founder of World Central Kitchen, is saying is that these folks were deliberately targeted and killed. 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah, that they coordinated. I this was something that I learned in this, that they coordinate their transportation with the IDF. 


De’Ara Balenger: The IDF. 


Kaya Henderson: Like they let them know, hey, we’re moving from here to here on such a such a date, so blah, blah. And so all of this was a very coordinated effort. And and the IDF knew who they were, what they were wearing, what kind of cars they were in when they were moving and still and like, not like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Took out seven cars or so. Right? 


DeRay Mckesson: I don’t know if you saw, but today, Israel uh fired two soldiers inside the–


Kaya Henderson: Child bye. 


De’Ara Balenger: Get out of here. 


DeRay Mckesson: –that they uh–


Kaya Henderson: They did it. 


De’Ara Balenger: Come on now. 


Kaya Henderson: They did it by themselves. No, come on. 


DeRay Mckesson: And I was like, not these two people being and fired is probably loose. They probably got reassigned somewhere or they just not in the Army no more. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. It’s–


De’Ara Balenger: But also the assignment has been to kill. I mean, this isn’t the first time that, like, humanitarian aid like delivery was targeted like it continues to happen. I think the difference here is you have such a globally known figure like José Andrés, who has a global platform to call them out on it. I think that’s why there’s accountability in this particular instance. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


Kaya Henderson: But I mean. 


Kaya Henderson: Yeah, because something like 202, over 200 humanitarian aid workers have been killed. 


De’Ara Balenger: Killed.


Kaya Henderson: So far. 


De’Ara Balenger: Journalists, yup. 


Kaya Henderson: And this is the first that we are really hearing about that. 


Myles E. Johnson: And they’ve been signaling very clearly to me, like there is just no other interpretation of this than they’re been they’re signaling that anybody who is helping the Palestinian folks is seen as a enemy, and you’re putting your life in danger, which helps the genocidal mission. If you’re making sure that people do not come and are able to feed these feed people and help people, then you are making sure that these people what? Die, starve. And um, and you’re, you know, just kind of signaling that even your, even your um I don’t know if you will call it uh your nonpolitical just humanitarian help will be met with with blood if you come and help. It’s truly disgusting. 


De’Ara Balenger: And you know, the other thing that’s been happening in Israel over the weekend is that thousands and thousands and thousands of folks have been protesting all weekend long, both in terms of wanting to get the hostages back and also basically saying that this, that Netanyahu is not representing the Israeli people in his actions. So I think that’s also I think it’s also something that we need to present is actually like what the people of Israel, what populations in Israel are saying about this war and and and how it’s not really led to anything in terms of bringing folks home. It’s just been death on death on death. So, um the other thing that develops sort of out of this story is President Biden calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza. So that was as of April 4th, according to The Guardian. Um. They had a phone call where they talked about the seven employees of World Central Kitchen that were killed. And it was a 30 minute phone call. And evidently, President Biden made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers, the White House said in a statement. He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps. Biden said that an immediate cease fire is essential and urged Israel to reach a deal with Hamas without delay. The statement marked a shar– this is according, this is the Guardian saying this. Not me, but I agree. The statement marked a sharp change in Biden’s rhetoric, and suggested for what appears to be the first time that strings could be attached to continued US support. Bada bing, bada boom. That’s where we are y’all.


Myles E. Johnson: I hate to always say like I hate to be the person to say like too little, too late when it comes to stuff. But this feels like the most appropriate time to say too little, too late. It’s kind of wild that this is what it took. Um. You know, don’t, you know, I have I have I have news and internet brain, so I apologize, but I just know there was so much about Biden being very vocal about that not being a possibility for the ceasefire. Um. And I’m also wondering how much I don’t know, the um, the timeline on stuff because, again, I have everything kind of collapses on top of each other in time for me um in my head. But um, I wonder how much this is, like, also politically motivated. Like, seeing what happened in Massachusetts weren’t there wasn’t there like a um, like a swing of um, protest votes that happened? Um uh so, like, I’m wondering how much of that motivated also this ceasefire and it just feels so late on, like, a little bit disrespectful. There is so much bloodshed. There’s there’s so much has happened. And this is what people asked you to do months and months and months ago and just out of good faith because now where where you’re still asking somebody to do, I don’t know. It’s just it’s it’s it’s. It’s true. It’s truly gross how how America has been handling um this crisis, this war, this genocide. 


Kaya Henderson: In better news, it is basketball time, y’all. It’s the Final Four. Woop woop. I know nobody on this podcast cares about this. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m over here like Serena Williams.


Kaya Henderson: As much as I do, but 12 million people watched the women’s. [laughing] I’m telling y’all, when I am your sports girl, we are all in trouble. But um, 12 million, 12 million people watched the LSU um Iowa game this week, this past week. And it is the highest number of people who’ve watched a women’s game like in history, Caitlin Clark um versus Angel Reese and the girls and LSU fell to Iowa. It was a great, great basketball game. Like literally basketball fans across the spectrum, men, women are like this this was the best basketball we’ve ever seen. And for the first time in history, men’s final four tickets. Women’s final four tickets are like, are super like, I don’t know what the number is. I saw I read, I heard something that said that, like entry level men’s final four tickets were $65 and entry level women’s Final four tickets are like $465, something like that. So girls. Mmm. In sports, it’s our time. I just need the WNBA to start paying these girls. But I, this was I think one of the disturbing things um that happened was the continued vilification of Angel Reese and Flau’jae and the Black women, um who, you know, talk trash, play hard. I mean, Caitlin Clark talks trash and plays hard too, but they set the whole thing up as a good versus evil thing. And like, these are young women, coll– like, you know, whatever, 18 to 22 year olds. And I think it was the LA Times that did a really trashy piece about, you know, good versus evil and, and just criticizing this young woman. And I don’t know if you saw the clip, but, you know, Angel Reese cried at the, you know, at the press conference because you are 21 years old and the world is piling on against you. 


[clip of Angel Reese] I don’t really get to stand up for myself. I mean, I have great teammates, I have a great support system. I got my hometown, I got my family that stands up for me. I don’t really get to speak out on things just because I just try to ignore and I just try to stand strong, like I’ve been through so much. I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times. Death threats. I’ve been sexualized, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been so many things, and I’m still strong every single time. And I just try to stand strong for my teammates because I don’t want them to see me down and, like, not be there for them. So I just want and always just know, like I’m still human. Like all this has happened since I won the national championship. And I said the other day I haven’t had peace since then and it sucks. And but I still wouldn’t change. I wouldn’t change anything, and I would still sit here and say, like, I’m unapologetically me. I’m going to always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that. And hopefully the little girls that look up to me and hopefully I give them some type of inspiration that, no, I hopefully it’s not this hard and all the things that come at you, but keep being who you are, keep waking up every day, keep being motivated, staying who you are, stay ten toes. Don’t back down and just be confident. 


Kaya Henderson: I mean, we got to stop this. I was looking at my Facebook feed from literally a year ago and, like I reposted a similar post where she had been vilified and called all kinds of names because she is, you know, a trash talking, aggressive, good ass basketball player. Y’all better cut this stuff out. Okay? Sorry. I just needed to get all of that out. We can carry on. 


DeRay Mckesson: You know, there were some sports commentators who uh, who said about the Angel Reese press conference, like, you know, you can’t, you know, bark big and then come out here and cry and da da da. And if you watch the press conference, the moment where she tears up is actually when Flau’jae defends her. She didn’t like she didn’t walk in crying because they lost the game. Flau’jae is like, y’all do not talk about Angel. Y’all don’t know what’s going on with Angel. Like, she gets emotional because of the love and care that is at the table with her. And people don’t say that about those football players who cry when they lose the Super Bowl. They don’t say that. You know, I, I watched all these clips on Instagram of these basketball players, these guys da da da who like tear up at their last game and da da da. It’s never this is literally people talk about how emotional men are and it you know, the game is the game and da da da. She, she tears up because her teammates love and respect her. And people act like it’s the end of the world. I mean, come on, y’all. It was a great game though. That was a great game. And I’m happy that they already have their championship because Caitlin Clark was on fire. And if Angel Reese hadn’t messed her ankle up because–


Kaya Henderson: Come on. 


DeRay Mckesson: –that little two minutes, she was out the game was that was the game so. You know.


Kaya Henderson: I’m so glad you watched it, DeRay. Come on. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


Kaya Henderson: Come on friends. Come come.


DeRay Mckesson: Oh, yeah, I didn’t watch [?] I was like, you know, I was late in the night, but I did watch Angel and Caitlin. 


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


[AD BREAK] [music break]


DeRay Mckesson: I’m going to start with the news this week. And my news is about kidney transplants. We’ve talked about medical issues before on the podcast. I’m fascinated with this. Uh. Is there has been a push over the past couple of years to take out race based algorithms in the medical field. I remember when I first read about this, it was because of the podcast. I didn’t know there were race based algorithms in the medical field. But um, in 1999 there was an equation that is used to evaluate kidney health based on how quickly a waste compound called creatinine gets filter from the blood. And this has existed before 1999. But in 1999 that was adjusted to modify Black people’s results compared to everybody else’s. And it was based on a on some studies with small numbers of Black people that were not representative. And a false theory about race based differences in creatinine, creatinine is what it’s called, creatinine levels. And until recently, that meant that Black people and white people would get two different results. And what that meant functionally is that Black patients, it would overestimate their kidney functions by as much as 16%. Now, this means that there were people excluded from the transplant list because the results said that you didn’t need a transplant as much as other people needed it, or that your need was different because this was a racist algorithm. And between January 2023 and mid-March, more than 14,300 Black kidney transplant candidates have had their wait times modified by an average of two years. That is wild. More than 2800 of them have actually received a transplant. As in, they got moved up the list because they got bumped down the list because of the racist algorithm. So in the article, they recount these stories. There’s a woman who is now out of college, she should have gotten a transplant when she was in college, but the list moved her. The article opens up with the story of a woman who gets a letter being like, hey, just kidding, we messed up. You now are going to get a different spot on the list. And I bring this up here because, there are so many people and who, you know, why would you even que– you sort of are like, you’re on the list. Your doctor tells you this is where you are. You’re like, the list is the list is the list. And then your whole life is uprooted. There are all these things, but you could have actually been a recipient of a transplant much sooner. And remember that Black people are three times more likely than white people to experience kidney failure. Um. And of the roughly 89,000 people on the list for a new kidney, about 30% are Black. So I’ll stop there. I brought it here because I was fascinated by it. There’s a lot of news I wanted to bring this week, but this was top of my list. 


Myles E. Johnson: That’s just wild DeRay. When I was reading through this and even listening to you speak about it, it’s just astonishing. I think sometimes because of media and because of news and, and and even entertainment, we can um, be so fascinated with, like the theater of white supremacy, um specifically in a historical context. So like the whippings and we like, have these kind of like, long gone stories that about, like, what happened, um and the brutalities that have happened that we kind of forget that we even though the theater of white supremacy in current day is not as fantastical as it once was all the time. That it’s still baked into the institution because this it feels directly conn– like connected to, um what we often talk about when it comes to Black mothers and mortality rates and stuff like that, like, although people aren’t being denied access to a hospital, right. Like those like horrible stories about people dying because they couldn’t get to a hospital during segregation. Now we’re still dealing with this type of, mutated form of white supremacy that comes in these little forms like this that you won’t know about unless you research it. And I guess talking about other things also, too. And I say this all the time when stories come like this is how necessary it is, is to have medical experts that are dedicated to exploring literally, the Black body. I know we say in the academic sense a lot to exhaustion, but literally exploring the Black body because we need people who are committed solely to understanding how the Black body works. 


Kaya Henderson: This is, it’s shocking. And then it’s not shocking, right? If you remember, we did a story a while ago about how in football, um as as the NFL is dealing with these brain injuries, they use a different standard for the brains of Black people and Brown people. And so a lot of Black and Brown football players were not benefiting from the the settlements and the resources available for, you know, concussions and related brain injuries. And, you know, or we talked about the piece on thresholds for pain for Black women and maternal health. Just when you think that there’s not like another way to screw us, there is another way to screw us. And the health piece is particularly precarious because like, this is life and death for people like you know how many of us suffer with kidney disease? Anyway sorry, I’m not saying anything that we don’t know. I’m just registering my continued outrage as these health disparity issues pile on and pile on. And this is what makes the like whole, you know, slavery was over hundreds of years ago, get over it. We’re all done. That this that’s what makes this some trash of an argument. Because every single day, you know, Black people continue to be brutalized by the philosophy and the strategies and, you know, the approaches that people were using before, during and now clearly after enslavement. So, no, we’re not over it because you’re still killing us. You’re still abusing us. You’re still, you know, whatever, experimenting on us medically. So no, no. Miss me with the get over it argument. 


De’Ara Balenger: So I’ve been thinking a lot about disparities, with Black men in particular when it comes to health. Um. My friend group from law school, there’s five of us and we lost our last dad two weeks ago. So all of the five of these Black men. You know. Died too soon, and I honest and and three of them died very suddenly as well, including my dad. So [sigh] I think it’s I think what I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around is like understanding there are like systemic, societal, institutionalized racism and oppression that exists in this country. I like, as intellectually like I understand that, but I think from a very heart place, as Black folks we tend to put things in boxes, so we aren’t so impacted by them. But I think what I can’t help to do is understand that my dad isn’t here because of the legacy of racism, etc. that exists in this country, and we all live with that for so many different reasons. But that’s a really hard thing to try to, to try to settle. 


Myles E. Johnson: My news is about Trans Day of visibility. Um. So in the last couple of weeks, um there’s been like a lot of talk around the trans day of visibility landing on the same day as Easter. And a lot of it was, of course, invented because we know that Easter is um, let’s say a rolling holiday. And trans visibility was a day that was already established um, to be on, March 31st. So it just happened that they all that they synced up like that but of course that um that instance was enough for people to really latch on and um create outrage around it. So that’s the news. I really got upset because as I was watching people talk about it, you would think I was getting upset, like with the conser–, like the conservative people and their weaponization of it and stuff like that. I really got really annoyed with the whole event of this becoming mainstream media fodder for the left and or the right, like that’s what I got really annoyed with. Um. I ended up watching from the um early ’90s, like ’92, this talk with Essex Hemphill. Um. And I’ve, and also Samuel R. Delaney who are these like great Black gay writers. If you don’t know about them, please like research and do it. Um. And and go in to them. And Samuel R. Delany really said something that really um calmed me down, which was which I didn’t really know about, but he was talking about it in the early ’90s y’all, that gay was a term that he did not use. He always used queer, that gay was seen as a term that was mostly used by upper middle class, middle class white men. And queer was his designated term and that kind of like I didn’t not know that. I didn’t know that there was for my generation, I’m 33. For my generation, there was a reclamation of of of queer, and there was a queer, and there was um, we would call each other queer because we wanted people to see gender and sexuality differently. I did not know how old this argument was, but it made me understand even deeper that this is how we get to Fox News talking about and The View talking about trans day of visibility where who cares? And I say that because we I’m looking at the Them the Them Instagram page. There are Black trans people, both Black and um Black and Brown people who are who are dead. There’s overdoses in the community that are atrocious. There’s unemployment that are atrocious, housing crisis that are atrocious. And it’s just this weird thing that something so trivial, like a holiday that doesn’t matter. You know, a holiday that  doesn’t matter becomes the center of trans conversation. And it really makes me think, oh, this started with a whole bunch of as well-meaning as possible, really white gay men wanting to infiltrate mainstream society. So it makes it seem as though our issues are about bathrooms, about holidays, and not about housing, not about overdoses, not about um, all these other crises. And it really minimizes it. And it really pisses me off. It really peeves me off. It really whatever Crooked allows me to say me’s off [laugh] that this is the concentration of it. And I’m, of course, really upset with the, I don’t know, I might be lying. I’m not really that upset with the right party. That’s we know their game. They will take anything. They will invent stuff in order to have an enemy. They like that. They like creating an enemy and creating something that can create a cultural war. That is old as pie for them. What I’m really upset is that the people who are on the left, the people who um, describe themselves as lefties or liberals, participate in the dialog. And that participation in the dialog piles on and covers up the actual really uh tragic and and tragic emergencies that are happening inside of the community. So, yeah, I wanted to bring that to the podcast, because I think sometimes we can be so um, I think we could find so much um, toxic existential catharsis and political arguments, and I think we could participate them participate in them, not just because we think that we’re right, but because also it feels good. And um, we don’t understand how we’re also we’re also allowing a type of distraction to happen from the very real dangers that are happening to a community. And um, hopefully there’s somebody who’s listening who maybe didn’t think of it that way, who’s like, oh, wow. My very participation in this is actually stopping from me figuring out that, oh, wow. Why why are more trans people dying from um, ODs then then um, cis people? Why are more trans people um homeless? Why are more trans people not finding work and employment? Why are more trans people showing up dead? Um. All these different things that are happening inside of the community that really can use the spotlight on the View. You know what if that was the conversation on The View, what if those things were the conversation that happens on The View? I um, work in and out with a, with a nonprofit called For the Gworls, which helps um get people get reassignment surgery and also housing. And I’m like, what would have happened if on The View, instead of talking about a holiday they talked about For the Gworls [laugh] and and and made that and made that the highlight like that but but we don’t think about that because sometimes just calling somebody silly or calling somebody transphobic is really the goal and the catharsis, which to me is really trying to appeal to a thing that we don’t need appealing for and yeah, I kind of went up around the world with that. So hopefully y’all y’all came with me. [laugh] But I really wanted. But I really but I really wanted to say that and um, I don’t know something about that Samuel R. Delany piece um and him really separating that made me see that oh, sometimes we’re having gay mainstream conversations, even if we’re talking about trans things and sometimes we’re having queer conversations. And I think that, like, I want to be really intentional about having the queer conversation, because a queer conversation is saying that we’re not involved in this mainstream heterosexual patriarchy propaganda machine, and we’re not interested in it. We’re interested in saving our own lives and making sure that we thrive. And we’re interested in that conversation we’re not we’re not interested in infiltrating. We don’t care about Easter, you know? We don’t care about the hol– and oh and we don’t care about the holiday. That’s not what we’re talking about. We care about this person’s dead, this person’s homeless, this person’s on drugs. This person just OD’d. This person can’t get work. That’s what needs to change. We need a queer society, not one where everybody gets a day in April and June. 


De’Ara Balenger: And I think Myles, yes. Yes. Thank you for all of that. And I agree and I feel like and this is from our conversation last week around queerdom being a liberating space and actually for the liberation of all Black folks. I feel like it is you really want to be closer to the queerness of it all. So when I say that, I mean even from the kidney conversation, it’s like, where is the safety for Black bodies and within these institutions? And what does that look like? And it’s really it, I did I’ve been working with the Los Angeles LGBT center, and we a couple of weeks back did um a dinner really just trying to build community and build awareness around all of the challenges that humans with vaginas go through. Right. And part of what came out of that was how rare it is to be in a doctor’s office, and to actually feel safe in that doctor’s office, and for that doctor to approach you and say, if anything hurts, let me know, because nothing is supposed to hurt. You’re not supposed to be in discomfort, actually. And to and just how rare it was for the folks in this room to have had an experience like that, I think is just so telling about what’s happening in this country. But what we where we kind of landed on it was that Myles, to your point, so many of these conversations are happening in these sort of like political vacuums, or they’re happening in ways that like they’re dog whistles, as opposed to saying what our intersect like, what are intersectional points between all of these communities. Like in a political campaign why do I have to be African-American for that, that political candidate and LGBTQ for that political candidate and yadda yadda. Like, where are where can we be having these conversations so that when we’re talking about trans bodies, it’s not separate and apart from when we’re talking about movement work around Black bodies. You know what I mean? So I think. Thank you for bringing this, because I think it’s something that’s been very, very top of mind for me, because often times what happens when we do lead movements from these heteronormative perspectives, so much gets left out, so much gets left out. Amen Myles. Or should I say a human. [laughter]


Myles E. Johnson: Or should you say aThem. 


De’Ara Balenger: Them. [laugh]


De’Ara Balenger: Come on now. 


DeRay Mckesson: That was well well done. We can put that on a–


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: We should put that on a t-shirt. Amen aThem. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay. 


DeRay Mckesson: Myles. I’ll just double tap. Double click all the things to which you said. And it is interesting how of all the things going on in the world, this took up a lot of space, I like kept seeing it. I’m like, we got a lot of real stuff happening. Like actual. Real. Not like you got to be plugged into know. But like mmm real, real. And people up here, like, you know, I saw people on Instagram being like, I think what Tyrese made a public post about, like, Biden needs to apologize. I’m like, of all the things happening in the world you are making posts about, like, it just feels so nuts. And it does remind me of like the layer of transphobia that is just present. 


De’Ara Balenger: DeRay. I hope you don’t follow Tyrese. Are you following Tyrese?


DeRay Mckesson: No, he was. It was on like– 


Myles E. Johnson: He went viral. 


DeRay Mckesson: [?]  blogs. 


Myles E. Johnson: It went viral. 


DeRay Mckesson: It went viral it was like. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: I’m like, but I’m like, why is Ty like, forget the fact that Tyrese is a newsmaker, but why is he even who has the time to make a post about this non-story? It just um–


Myles E. Johnson: And Diddy’s right there. 


DeRay Mckesson: Right. [laughter] 


Myles E. Johnson: If you want to–


DeRay Mckesson: Diddy. 


Myles E. Johnson: –be brave and talk about a social issue, Diddy’s right there. So if you want to be brave–


DeRay Mckesson: Right there. 


Myles E. Johnson: –about somebody, be brave about Diddy. Better be quiet. 


DeRay Mckesson: It was so weird. 


Kaya Henderson: Thank you for bringing this this particular perspective, Myles, because it as an ally, I think often times like we I look at this stuff and I’m like, what am I supposed to do about this? Right. But what I am supposed to do, you are very clear, is to lift the issues that really matter, to redirect the conversation to the things that are important. And so thank you for helping us understand what we supposed to be doing about this. 


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




Kaya Henderson: My news this week is short and it was going to be a rant about pettiness, but it actually has a decent ending, so let me just but it’s still worth raising because in the like from the chapter of really is this what we have time to focus on, I take you to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. What a name. Um. Who uh, a couple weeks ago announced that all New York prisons would be locked down during the solar eclipse. Um. That all prisons would be locked down from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., which are the normal hours of outdoor recreation, that there would be no visitation on this day. And this is all for safety purposes. Now, in 2017, when there was an eclipse, there was no lock down, there was no anything. But for whatever reason, this eclipse is going to be much more dangerous than 2017, I don’t know. Um. They said till they were going to lock it all down. Turns out what happens uh at an upstate prison, there’s one dude who said, hey, wait a minute. I need to view the eclipse for my religious reasons. And they said, okay, you can go out in the yard by yourself with some we’ll give you some glasses and you could go view the eclipse. And then five other people were like, wait a minute. Um. I need to view the eclipse, too, for religious reasons. And it’s not lost on me that the uh, that the first inmate who asked for this particular accommodation. His name was Mr. Zelensky. Um. He was the first to request permission, and they said, okay, sure. Um. We’ll give you some glasses and you can stand out in the yard by yourself. And then when a number of other Muslim um inmates and inmates who practice Santeria and inmates who are atheists also requested the accommodation, the prison prison officials said, no, shut it all down. And so six men filed a federal lawsuit against the department, arguing that not allowing them to see the eclipse violates their constitutional right to practice their religion. They said that the eclipse is a religious event that they have to witness and reflect on to observe their faiths. Um. And this just like it just stuck in my craw because, if prisoners are usually outside from two to five anyway, and everybody around the country is rushing to different places to see this eclipse, like, this is just we want to deny prisoners this small piece of humanity by not allowing them to see the eclipse. Well, the good news is that later on in the week, um the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision um settled with the inmates and are allowing them to view the solar eclipse. They’re going to give everybody glasses. They’re going to um allow these folks to go out and practice their religions. And I just thought, you know, we go out of our way, we wonder why when we incarcerate people and they return back to society, you know, recidivism rates are high. And transition back is so hard and it’s because we continue to dehumanize people. This this felt like such a waste of time and energy and and it just felt petty. And I wanted to lift it up because, you know, governmental agencies abuse people in big ways, like the kidney thing, but also in small ways every single day, by just denying us regular access to things that make us human. And so I’m thankful to the to the six men who stood up for their constitutional rights and for their attorneys who pressed this out. And I’m thankful that the agency found its way to allowing them to, practice their religion. 


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya I didn’t know about the, the guy who got a yes. And then when other people asked for it he got a, I didn’t know that was the–


Kaya Henderson: Boom. 


DeRay Mckesson: –backstory to this. 


Kaya Henderson: Boom. 


DeRay Mckesson: But goodness gracious. You know, when when we say it’s all about race and people say we’re being dramatic, I always think we’re not being dramatic enough because it really is always about race and and to just extend what we said with Myles’s news. Just think about how much energy got wasted trying to deny people to see the sun. You know like–


Kaya Henderson: The sun. 


DeRay Mckesson: You’re like, think about the lawyers involved, all the staff people, all the meetings, the hearings, the court, just like y’all ain’t got nothing else to do? It would have been easier to just say yes, but that’s how motivated racism is. That’s how motivated hate is. I mean, what in the world? 


De’Ara Balenger: The only thing that I’ll add quickly is just Mr. Zelensky, who was one of the folks that put the lawsuit forward to, to to be able to to see the eclipse. He says, the sky is so innate to daily experience and we barely think of it. No one should miss seeing it transform. It’s a view of reality we never otherwise get to see. And I just thought that was so beautiful. And profound. Just wanting to see the sky. That’s it. Y’all I am continuing my theme of rest, and I want to thank you to the folks that reached out to me on the Instagram to give me some pointers about rest. Come on y’all, keep it coming. Um. And so I thought, just with the conversation that was happening online with it, I just I would keep it going. And so I found this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Shout out to Philly! I love my people’s in Philly, but this article was about female creatives who essentially brought other female Black women creatives together artists, writers, curators just to rest, restore, it was a bunch of non-action, but action. For them, for their souls, for their spirits, etc. and this was inspired by Maya Angelou. Um. And I just thought this was so beautiful. So essentially there was in this article, um and this article was actually written by two of the the two women that brought this, brought this convening together. Um. But they heard Maya Angelou’s voice whisper to them that they needed to do something to collaborate on creating a writer’s respite in her honor, and understanding that nothing like that existed for women in Philadelphia. They wanted to pursue it. The other part of this that I loved and actually want to, like, do a trip to Harriett’s bookshop in Philadelphia, Black owned independant shop. We’s got to– 


Kaya Henderson: I’ve been there. 


De’Ara Balenger: We’s gots to go back. 


Kaya Henderson: Let’s go, let’s go. [laughter]. 


De’Ara Balenger: They realized that nothing was specifically dedicated to supporting women’s self rejuvenating activities like reading, writing, rest, and retreat. And they they pointed to a quote by Maya Angelou that when she said a day away acts as a spring tonic. When I return home, I’m always surprised to find some questions I sought to evade had been answered and some entanglements I had hoped to flee had become unraveled in my absence. Thank you, Auntie Maya. And they also, this article also talks about this piece in the Paris Review about Maya Angelou, where she spoke about renting a hotel room solely for writing and reflection, and so their vision was inspired by her transparency about the silent demands of creative practice. And they really believe that female writers need time and space for solitude. For solitude, for solitude. And so there they went off. They gathered poets, journalists, memoirists, musicians, foodies, editors, mothers, activists, and more. And they named this thing a room to write and rest. Um. It happened on March 1st, and they had a ton of participants and they, you know, sort of activated the space with, with, with meditation rooms, flowers, workshops, a private chef, personal band, time for journaling, and, of course, books and more books. So their mission was to cultivate a space that mirrored the multifaceted brilliance of Maya Angelou and the countless women like her who navigate various social roles. Partners, parents, community members, and creators. Yeah, Jeannine A. Cook is the owner of Harriet’s Bookshop in Fishtown, and Misty Soul is an artist based in West Philly. So those were the organizers of this. And please, y’all reach out to us and correct us if we are wrong. Um and the last thing I’ll say on this is that they talk about in this article. It seems counterintuitive that in order to create space for rests, more work needs to be done. But that is indeed the case. And their conversations moving forward, they’ve been asking themselves questions like what can we make more easier? Who can we ask for support? How can we make the process joyful and sustainable? We know that the answers are coming simply because we began to ask the right questions. Come on sisters, so visit Harriett’s bookshop, but also read this article because I just found it to be so beautiful and I am not alone in my quest for rest. So thank you all who are participating in this year’s theme. 


Kaya Henderson: Thank you De’Ara for bringing this. I have like 250 different things that I want to say. I’m I try to say them, I was like, writing the list while you were talking. So like, female writers are not the only ones who need rest and solitude. Let me just say that uh. Female superintendents, female CEOs, males, all of our people, everybody needs rest and time for solitude. In fact, I have a friend who is the leader of a very large national organization. And his practice, his rest practice and his creativity practice is that for one week a month and I you got to work at this. Maybe you could have one day a month. Maybe after a while you can get up to a week, a month. He’s he’s a big willy. So he can do it. But for one week a month he goes away and writes and thinks for a week. And you know, this month he’ll go to Toronto and the next month he’ll go to Miami. And he just alternates between the two. He’s got a hotel room at each place that is his and that is his practice. And that’s the way he keeps his ideas flowing. That’s the way he is able to write religiously, because otherwise he’s managing the demands of a multi, you know, billion dollar organization. And so I think we have to figure out for me it is vacation once every three months. I have to go away at least a week every three months. Um. And now I try to at least be at my place in Anguilla a week every other month. But we have to work to cultivate these rest practices. I want to shout out three sets of people who are doing this work specifically for Black women. First of all, I want to shout out me, Kaya Henderson. Um. Part of the work that I have done as a result of a fellowship that I won, um is creating a space for rest and reflection for Black women superintendents and nonprofit leaders in the education space. And we’ve done now two retreats so far where these women get to come together, put it all down. We deal with mind. We deal with body, we deal with soul. Um. And what happens after these retreats is like, you know, there’s one woman who her organization was, you know, a few million dollars in the hole. And after this retreat, like, she closed out the year with, like, a $27 million surplus. And I was like, say what girl? What? And she’s like the ability to step back to get clear about what I was trying to do, to be in community with other Black women. You know, just it freed me from the cage that I was in and enabled all of these different things to happen. And so I, I I use myself as an example because I think that each of us can create, you know, these women, you know, grabbed the bookstore and said, let’s make a place here. I think in each of our own contexts, we can do that. I also want to shout out the Highland Project, which is run by Gabrielle Wyatt and is um, a group that invests in Black women. Um. Invests in us from a financial perspective, but from a time and rest perspective. And in fact, they gave me the fellowship that enables me to do these retreats. So shout out to Highland. Um. And if you’re not following the Highland project, you absolutely should. And then I want to shout out, um one of my good friends, Katara Mccarty, who’s created the Exhale app, which is a meditation and relaxation app for Black women. Bump it. I’m a shout out um, Octavia Raheem, who wrote Pause,  Rest, Be. I want to shout out the Nap ministry lady who you know, has focused us all on sleep and rest, the Black liturgies. 


De’Ara Balenger: Tricia, Tricia–


Kaya Henderson: Tricia Hersey yes, absolutely. The Black liturgies lady, Cole somebody. I can’t think of nobody’s name right now. Somebody De’Ara is going to [?]. But I think I think we’re in a moment. I say all of that to say, we are in a moment where Black women realize that we can’t keep being the mules of the world, that we cannot keep working tirelessly and mercilessly for, for the benefit of others. As sis as you know, Auntie Maya said, and um, I appreciate that we are prioritizing rest. And so thank you for bringing it to the thing De’Ara. To the pod.


DeRay Mckesson: I’m always interested in the way that systems do enable or or limit people’s ability to access anything other than work. And I woke up this morning going back and forth with somebody about the role of truancy. And in places like Baltimore and DC, there seems to be something going on with juvenile crime. And I wake up this morning to a presser where the state’s attorney is like, you know what? They need accountability. Parents need accountability. And I’m going to work on accountability. So the truancy laws da da da. So I’m texting back and forth to somebody and I go, they need help. They don’t need accountability. They need resources, they need and it made me think about my own parents, who were 23 when they had me and TeRay, 23, 24 when they had me and TeRay. And, you know, I was joking with my friend that like, you know, my father couldn’t afford a babysitter, but he did actually get a babysitter once, and she burned our house down. And after our house burned down, we never had– 


Kaya Henderson: Ooh Jesus. 


DeRay Mckesson: –that babysitter again. And my great grandmother moved in with us. And it was only because she moved in with us that we, like, had a stable, you know, we had dinner. We had and it wasn’t that he didn’t love us. It was like he didn’t have the resources. But I think about even her, I look back and think about it and I’m like, oh, I get why Nanny was like, y’all going over to grandma’s house today. Aunt Sheena got y’all. Uncle Barry got y’all. Like, people just needed time to themselves, and and that is just harder to pull off for so many people because of the lack of resources. It’s not that people don’t care. And I look back now, I’m like, oh, I see why Nanny was snapping sometimes because she was what we were driving her up the wall all day, every day. And we didn’t know, you know, we were kids. But like, what I, what I, what hearing you all, hearing you talk about it, it made me think about how often people steal time as opposed to having time for rest. And there’s a cost to stealing. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. 


DeRay Mckesson: Like you some something happens when you hide in the closet for ten minutes just because you got to pull yourself together, or you stay in the car for extra– 


Kaya Henderson: The mamas who sit in the car. Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. You sit in the car for an extra 30 minutes because you or there’s a temper tantrum and you’re like, you know what? You can have it. You know, like, you want to intervene, but you’re like, I just I ain’t got it right now. And how do we build a world where people don’t have to steal time to lay down, steal time to go to a party? I the other thing I think about, and I don’t know if y’all saw this on it went viral on TikTok and Twitter, but there’s a city, excuse me, with a 24 hour daycare, and there was a video of a mom dropping off her kid at like 10:00 because she had work or something like that. And people were like, she doesn’t love her kid. Da da da da da and everybody was like, you know, you just putting your kid over at your grandmother house, you know, like, you you just dropped your kid off at grandma’s house. This is the same thing. She just doesn’t have a grandma’s house to drop the kid off at. But, like, why would you not want the kid to be in a safe environment? The parents get a break, you know, like, why wouldn’t you advocate for these sort of resources for community? Why would you be judging people? Because what is the alternative? Leave the kid in the house alone? Take the kid like the alternatives don’t work either. And this is actually a safe environment with adults who know what they’re doing. And let’s be clear a kid getting dropped off at 8 or 9:00, really they just sleeping like that’s the eas– you know, this is they just sleep. So it just made me think about um the cost of having to steal rest. [music break] Well that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Don’t forget to follow us at Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. And if you enjoyed this episode of Pod Save the People, consider dropping us a review on your favorite podcast app and we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media, it’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. [music break]