Kai Wright: Everybody, what you're about to hear is our second live show. We've started making the United States of Anxiety live, every Sunday 6:00 PM Eastern Time. You tune in, if you're here in New York City or in the New York area, you tune in on the radio. If you're anywhere on the globe, you stream it at wnyc.org, or just tell your smart speaker to play WNYC. It's a really fun experiment we're engaging, because we just want to be able to talk to you, as well as tell you stories. Check it out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, we're figuring it out, but give this a listen, have fun, and call us up, tweet at us. Let's be in conversation. [music] I'm Kai Wright, and this is the United States of Anxiety, a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grith on our future.
Speaker 2: [foreign language]
B'Ivory LaMarr: Heaven is full to it's capacity.
Letetra Widman: I'm not sad. I don't want your pity. I want change.
Chadwick Boseman: To be young, gifted and Black. [applause]
Reverend Al Sharpton: We wanted to come to show with our bodies that enough is enough.
Jim Jordan: He's taken on the swamp, and when you take on the swamp, the swamp fights back.
Senator Tim Scott: Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime.
Julia Jackson: Do Jacob justice on this level, and examine your hearts. [music]
Kai: I did not watch any of the videos. This is sadly not the first time I've had to make that statement on our show in just the past few months. I did not watch Jacob Blake get shot in the back in front of his kids. I also did not watch the footage surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year old boy. I didn't watch him carrying around a gun and casually hanging out with cops before he allegedly executed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I'm not watching the violence in Portland where last night, a man who maybe was among the crowd that showed up to confront Black Lives Matter protesters, was also shot and killed. Maybe all of this means that I'm not doing my job, I'm a journalist, after all, but I think I've got the story without taking in the snuff films. We are at a breaking point. The compounding crises that we face can no longer be papered over or shrugged off or even just endured in hopes that they'll eventually fade away, because even without all of this violence, it was a really hard week. For one, I know the looming onset of school here in the New York and New Jersey area is on a lot of your minds out there, from educators and facility staff, parents and students. I'm sure there's a tonne of anxiety about where we're going and what's going to happen, but on top of that, depending on where you are or where your loved ones live, there have also been fires raging out west, powerful storms pouring over the Gulf. If you're a sports fan, maybe you turn to the NBA playoffs for a diversion from all this stress, but it's so you found no escape. One of the most dramatic moments of the past week came when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to come out of their locker room for a playoff game. Instead, they read a statement. I'll be honest, just the raw earnestness of it, it made me cry. In case you missed this, I want to start the show with most of their statement.
Sterling Brown: The past few months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African-American community. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings. Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
George Hill: When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from lawmakers and law enforcement. We're calling for justice for Jacob Blake, and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin state legislators to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves. Take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on November 3rd on behalf of Milwaukee Bucks.
Kai: That's the Milwaukee Bucks statement read by two players as the team stood in black t-shirts outside their locker room on Wednesday. It was received by many people as a historic moment. It is certainly the moment of politics breaking out of the normal politics block. It set off a domino effect. Players across a wide range of teams and leagues said, "No, we are literally not here to play, not right now." All of this was happening out in the world last week, as the Republican party held its convention. Maybe that's why one aspect of the convention was so striking to so many people. The party seemed to be trying to foster a double consciousness for white people. The convention kept juxtaposing two contrasting visions of the president's supporters, back to back, right up against each other. There'd be a Black person saying something perfectly plausible about his support for the Republican ticket, like this.
Vernon Jones: Joe Biden has had 47 years to produce results, but he's been all talk and no action, just like so many of the Democrats who've been making promises to the Black voters for decades.
Kai: Fair enough, right? Then, often in the very next segment, they turn to something explicitly hostile to Black people. That Vernon Jones speech you just heard, it was followed by the now infamous white couple from St. Louis, who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters.
Patricia McCloskey: They're not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low quality apartments under now thriving suburban neighborhoods. President Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back. These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you. Make no mistake, no matter where you live, your family will not be safe.
Kai: Notice where that went. Housing policy. A policy meant to encourage integration. That was sandwiched between warnings about chaos and violence and safety. They are coming to your house next. All of this back and forth at the RNC between visual diversity and really old school racist rhetoric. It went on all week, and it was clearly targeted at a very specific voter. It is conventional wisdom at this point that Donald Trump won in 2016, because he won white suburban voters, because he convinced them that he had a simple solution to anxieties about the future. There's already been a ton of commentary this week about how the tokenism at the RNC was designed to reassure those same white suburbanites they're still okay to support Trump, that they don't have to feel like racist or misogynist if they vote for him. All of that begs a deeper question about how and why this strategy could work. The United States of Anxiety began as a podcast four years ago, reporting on the Trump movement in the suburbs of Long Island. Early on in that reporting, we realized that in order to understand Trump's appeal in those communities, we had to look at the history of how suburbs came to exist in the first place. Back then, I spoke with Kwame Holmes, a historian and scholar in residence for human rights at Bard College. Kwame studies all these fascinating dynamics about the suburbs and their origins. After watching the RNC last week, I realized our conversation is as useful in thinking about Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, as it was for his 2016 campaign. I want to share it again. Kwame told us that the suburbs were developed in part because of the push to integrate schools because of fear about Black kids being in the same schools as white kids. As an example, he explained to me what happened in Washington DC right after the Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate back in 1954. Take a listen.
Kwame Holmes: When Brown v. Board is handed down by the Warren Court, the Eisenhower administration basically gives the city no choice. They immediately implement integration in the public schools.
Kai: Most states had messy local fights over whether or not to follow the court's ruling. Some are still having it, honestly. DC is actually controlled by the federal government. Eisenhower, he was able to push past all of that, which made the city a national test case for integration.
Kwame: The stakes are super high. Southern lawmakers are wanting to discredit it, and liberals are wanting to point to it as a model.
Kai: The DC oversight committee in Congress was led by those same Southern lawmakers, and they used a familiar tool to control the debate, a congressional investigation. In September of 1956, they held a series of scandalous hearings to discuss the results. The proceedings could have made Donald Trump blush.
Kwame: They are concerned about three shifts that they argue are the result of African-Americans presence in white schools.
Kai: First, they say the Black kids have lower IQs. That basically they're making the white kids dumber, and not just by dumbing down the curriculum.
Kwame: Also in a kind of weird, like evolutionary understanding that there'll be like a sinking up that will happen.
Kai: Second, they say Black kids are just petty criminals. The white kids are forced to lock up their valuables for fear of getting ripped off. Finally, and maybe most importantly, there's the big one, sex.
Kwame: They are pretty shameless. I mean, these things are even challenging to repeat. It's like talk about one young student was accused of exposing himself to a teacher. Young Black girls are apparently writing obscene language on the bathroom walls telling white girls about new language, new swear words.
Kai: They go on and on about high rates of venereal disease, and about teen pregnancy, and all of this stuff, Kwame says it gets permanently lodged in the Americans psyche.
Kwame: The absolute power that parents can wield over their children's innocence, their right to control that becomes the rationale for segregationist patterns of movement in and out of cities.
Kai: White families fled DC, and the surrounding suburbs boomed. The same white flight was gearing up all over the country at the time. It would intensify as the real estate industry took advantage of the very same fears those southern legislators stoked. They pushed families out of the cities with fear, then pulled them into the suburbs with social engineering designed to create a white middle class, but a very particular type of white middle class.
Kwame: The underwriters at the Federal Housing Authority who are designing policy that will subsidize suburbanization, are really crafting that policy and wanting to only recommend that loans be given to married white men who planned to have children.
Kai: That's the stereotypical suburban life of mid century television was created.
Actor: Margaret, you know what's wrong with this family?
Actress: Apparently, we break too many windows.
Actor: It's more than that. It's everybody's complete disregard for responsibility.
Kai: There's also an interesting little twist on this ideal. It's useful when thinking about the message Donald Trump was trying to send at the RNC last week. Kwame says that over the next decade or so, the same suburban voters who fled the cities and created these segregated world for their kids. They got turned off by overtly segregationist politics. Candidates who ran openly racist campaigns began to lose these voters.
Kwame: For the white parents have moved into the suburbs over the course of 1950s and 1960s, once they've secured their own children's innocence within racially homogeneous schools in the suburbs, it seems to free them up to be more in support of integration in an abstract in general sense. It's like the liberalism that you could never actually engage in your private life. You can advocate as good for the state or good for the nation.
Kai: Put another way, there's a yawning gap between what white Americans believed about their lives, and the lives they chose to live. Holmes says that gap, that psychic disconnect, is still with us today.
Kwame: There's a way in which you can engage in racist activity to protect your kids. Then you have a double whammy where protecting kids means not communicating to them the actual reason for their lifestyle and the way things look so they can grow up innocent of that as well. Potentially right now, I think that when people say our kids won't have what we had, maybe what they're also lamenting is that their kids can not be innocent of racial injustice any longer. Part of this frustration that could be animating the Trump supporter, is that there is no way for the suburb to do the work it used to do to contain childhood innocence because the media and the globalization of information has made that impossible.
Kai: That was my conversation with Kwame Holmes, a historian and scholar in residence at Bard College, who I spoke to back in 2016, as we began watching Donald Trump's effort to win suburban voters. You can follow him on Twitter @KwameHolmes. That's H-O-L-M-E-S. A big part of what Trump is still offering to white suburban voters, is the return of innocence. To get back to a time when all the troubles that this country has always faced. They existed over there in the cities or beyond our national borders, they were other people's problems. It seems to me that strategy can work again this year, but you know what, that's me. I want to know what people inside the Republican party think about all this, and what suburbanites themselves think about all of this. After the break, we're going to take your calls. Do you live in the suburbs? Particularly are you a conservative leaning voter who is, not necessarily a dyed in the wool, Donald Trump supporter, but you've got some debates about it. Maybe you thought in the past, well, I'll support Joe Biden, but you're a little worried about what you're seeing in Portland and Kenosha, or maybe you supported Donald Trump in the past and now you're like, "I don't know if I can get behind this guy." Call us up 646-435-7280, or tweet us using the #USofAnxiety. Tell us about what's happening in your suburb around this election. We'll be right back. [silence] [music] Welcome back. I'm Kai Wright, and this is the United States of Anxiety. We are talking about the suburbs and suburban voters. If you are a suburban voter, give us a call, 646-435-7280. Again at 646-435-7280, or tweet us at the #USofAnxiety. We want to know how this election is playing out in your community. Listen, we're brand new in the Sunday evening lineup here at WNYC, but we have been around for the past four years as a podcast telling stories and exploring history, and generally meeting smart people as we try to understand what it really means to live together in a multiracial society. We started to make this show live last week because we want to be in conversation with all of you more often. Whether you are streaming us from somewhere in the world, or listening right here on the radio, really do hit us up. One thing we noticed right away last week, by the way, is a lot of people who listen live did so while cooking dinner, which sounds pretty cool. If you're cooking tonight, tell us what you're fixing up. You can tweet it at me at Kai_Wright, or use the #USofAnxiety, we'd love to hear about it. As we get your calls coming in, both your recipes on Twitter and your calls here about what's going on in the suburbs, I'm joined by my colleague, Andrea Bernstein, who is the co-host of the Trump, inc podcast. She's got a book called American Oligarchs, the Kushners, the Trumps and the marriage of money and power. It's out in paperback on October 6th. She hosted WNYC's daily coverage of the Republican National Convention all last week. Andrea, thanks for joining us.
Andrea Bernstein: Hey, Kai. Great to be with you. Congratulations on the launch of the show as a radio show.
Kai: Thank you so much. Well, we are really interested in this segment hearing from folks out there. Again, for the next 20 minutes or so, the phones are wide open. We started this back in 2016, reporting in the Long Island suburbs on the Trump revolution. This is kind of a check in on the suburbs all over the country, but particularly the New York region. What's going on in your suburb? How did the convention last week play out? How is the Republican message playing out for you? Especially if you're a conservative leaning voter, I'm really genuinely interested in hearing from you about, and if you're not a diet in the wool Trump supporter, but you're conservative and you're wondering, where do I go this year? How's all this landing. As the calls come in, Andrea, you spent the last week, as I said, hosting our mid day show. I think you heard from some people around the region about what they watch too. What kind of reactions are you hearing in general?
Andrea: I think it's a mixed bag, and it's very hard to tell. I think certainly there were people who were calling in who were saying that the demographics of the suburbs are not what Donald Trump and his party seem to think they are. Donald Trump's view of the suburbs seems to be frozen sometime around 1980, maybe 1989, which was height of white flight, and sort of pre-Giuliani, and a sense of the suburbs where the places that white people would go because the city was too frightening for them. That seems to be the moment that Donald Trump has on his mind. Then he seems to think, and that the messaging that the convention was all structured around. What was interesting is that we heard from a number of people who were like, well, the suburbs are not what he remembers. There was definitely people who said that, we see a lot of Black Lives Matter signs. There's a sense of empathy with the protests of racial justice that are going around in the country. That is not what might be what Donald Trump thought it was when he really started to make money in Manhattan.
Kai: That's because of a change in demographics in the suburbs, or a change in attitude in the suburbs, or both?
Andrea: Well, I think it's hard to separate the two, right? The demographics follow the change in attitudes. How that plays out is knife's edge, certainly. I think that it's like that night's edge is what we kept hearing the party playing too last week in the suburbs. Donald Trump's family fortune-- His father's business, it wasn't really the suburbs, but it was in the outer boroughs of New York City. The same idea as the suburbs. The place where you could get to the end of the subway line. Of course, Donald Trump and his father were sued for discriminating against Black tenants. They ultimately settled with the justice department and promised not to discriminate, which was, in a sense, a victory for the justice department, because that is what they were seeking. There were many people that came forward and spoke to federal investigators at the time who said that they were discriminated against by Donald Trump. That was the basis of his business empire. This whole political edifice that he is constructing is very much rooted in his family business.
Kai: Right, and this idea of what it was he was doing when he went to do business there. That's an interesting point. Let's go to Elizabeth in Sparta, New Jersey. Elizabeth, welcome to WNYC.
Elizabeth: Thank you.
Kai: Elizabeth, I gather that you are a Republican voter.
Elizabeth: I do vote Republican. Although, if you put me down on paper, you would definitely think I'd be voting Democrat, bisexual, atheist, pro-choice, sexual assault survivor. I vote Republican, though.
Elizabeth: That's because I'm a 9/11 survivor.
Elizabeth: I see that happening here too where I live, there's a lot of people who see terrorism as the biggest threat. Yes, there's so many issues, but, and you shouldn't think in a single-- Okay, I'm going to vote just because of this issue, but if you're dead, nothing else matters. That and the fact that people in the suburbs where I live are recoiling from all of this horrible writing happening. That is a kind of that's happening their issue and they don't want it coming here. I hate Trump with a passion, but I will vote for him because of 9/11. I will vote for him because I see that issue, and then it scares the hell out of me.
Kai: Then just to put a fine point on it, then that says that this message that Trump's version of the party is putting forth of, there is danger out there. There is chaos and disorder, and I can keep you safe. That is a powerful idea to you.
Elizabeth: That is the only thing that is permeating our suburbs here in Northern New Jersey that is making people want to vote for Trump, in my opinion.
Kai: Before I let you go, Elizabeth, can I ask you? You mentioned the sort of what we're seeing the protest elsewhere, and now the violence associated with those protests. You said that also leads to a sense of unsafety. How so? Help me understand that. What about what you're seeing there gives you a feeling of unsafety in Sparta, New Jersey?
Elizabeth: You see it happening in a place like Kenosha. Kenosha is not LA. Kenosha is not New York City. Kenosha could be Sparta, and you don't want that here. Nobody wants that.
Kai: What is that?
Elizabeth: That violence, that horrible. People becoming so divided that they're walking on the streets shooting each other from both sides. Nobody wants that kind of violence. It's the violence of it. It's not that we don't want protests. Protesting is good, it's smart, but the rioting and the violence, that's what people left the cities to escape. They don't want to hear.
Kai: Elizabeth, thanks for calling. Let's go to Mike also in Yonkers. Our second Yonkers of the night. Mike, welcome to WNYC.
Mike: My comment really was the people in the suburbs or anywhere for that matter, are tired of hearing from the politicians in Washington tell us we're supposed to be part of this community, and we should be sensitive and et cetera, and then they go and send their kids to Sidwell Friends. It's like, "Hey, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander." It's absolutely true, people want a safe, stable environment. I'll speak for myself, I guess. I don't want to see chaos coming out into the suburbs. You were touching on a whole bunch of issues earlier. I sat down and listened to the New York Times podcast [sound cut]
Kai: You there, Mike?
Mike: It's hard to integrate schools. You still there?
Kai: Yes. We got you. Go ahead.
Mike: I listened to my podcast, and most of the people talking on the podcast were complaining didn't send their kids to the integrated schools. It's such a complicated problem, and Trump plays into it pretty well, that hey, we got this ...
Kai: I'm going to let you go, Mike, because your line's breaking up a lot there, but thank you for calling. Before we take another call, Andrea, any reaction to what you've heard from our last two callers?
Andrea: That's a real sentiment, and Trump went right for it. The whole party in the convention went right for it last week. It's very interesting because I covered the 2004 election, which was the election that obviously was the one right after 9/11, or the one that followed 9/11. The Bush kept us safe, was a very common theme among voters. What is interesting to me, and I love to hear from many callers that call in now, is that what does that mean other than promising to somehow subdue this violence, which is occurring under his watch. It's a confusing message, because in 2004, indeed, there had been no further attacks on US, terrorist attacks on US soil when Bush was president. Now all of this unrest and protests and counter protests and the activation of white supremacists has happened under Trump. Obviously, all of that is overlaid on the pandemic. I'd love to hear more about that. Obviously, very smart political people put together that convention, which was, in some ways, much more controlled than the usual messaging we hear from Trump because it was so disciplined.
Kai: I was quite surprised. He's so disciplined. I really was surprised by that.
Andrea: Yes. Much of it was pre produced and it was not Trump speaking live as he is used to doing. There was an ability for the party hands to take control of the message, and one assumes that that's based on careful polling data. Countervailing that, there was a group that did some focus groups last week of Republicans against Trump. They were particularly interested in suburban women, and they found that many of them had not watched the convention, and were not tuning in, but clearly the President's message was powerful and disciplined, and now we're left seeing what happens. They certainly got across what they wanted to get across will work. We will be learning that next months.
Kai: Jason in Spring Lake. Welcome to WNYC.
Kai: Hi, Jason. Welcome to WNYC. Are you a conservative voter, I gather?
Jason: Kai, I am a registered independent. I am leading more conservatives this year for my for my first time ever, I would say. I'm not a huge Donald Trump fan, but I've always had, I guess, perhaps more of a libertarian bent. This is actually my first general election where I might not straight away just flat out vote for a third party.
Kai: Help me understand where you're coming from then. You're leaning Conservative for the first time. What is it about the message from Donald Trump or the Republican party that's attracting you? Does it relate to this explicit conversation he's having with suburban voters about, "I can make you safe."?
Jason: Not so much, Kai. I think if I could talk it up to a couple of things. I actually did my undergrad in Brooklyn, and my graduate studies in Manhattan. I lived there for, geez, almost 10 years. Then I moved back home where I grew up to the suburbs. Just like down in New Jersey shore and, n o, I'm not concerned about security or any of this stuff that he's talking about, but I feel like there's sort of this thing. I remember my old man told me, "If you're young and then conservative, you're heartless, and if you're older and a liberal, you're brainless."
Kai: Which are you at this age, Jason? [chuckles] Where do you stand?
Jason: [chuckles] It's a very good question. Obviously, I like to think small government. Geez, I don't think-- Go ahead.
Kai: Well, we're going to have to take a quick break, but I appreciate you calling in. We can hear your indecision, and that's a note in of itself. Thanks for giving us a call. [music] This is a new live edition of the United States of Anxiety. We're here every Sunday evening from now on. I'm Kai Wright, and I am here tonight with my colleague at WNYC, Andrea Bernstein, who is the co-host of the Trump, Inc podcast. She hosted our coverage of the Republican National Convention over the past week. We're taking your calls. From suburban voters, we want to hear how that convention worked out for you. 646-435-7280. Let's go straight to Rob, in Levittown. Rob, welcome to WNYC.
Rob: Hey, how are you doing, Kai? How are you doing, Andrea? Nice to talk to you guys. I'm listening to the conversation, and as I told your screener, I think it's such a complex topic, and it can't be really as polarized as we want to think. There's a lot more nuance to it. With that said, I think people understand that Donald Trump, he's a figurehead. He's a puppet. He's a character, and XYZ. I wish he would just-- I voted for him. I voted for him last time, and I don't want to say I voted for him as much as I voted against Hillary. Much like your first caller, who has her one individual reason of 9/11, I was a private military contractor, and I couldn't vote for her because of her stance on what happened with Bengazi and having worked for a very similar company, that was in that vein. With that said, I voted for the Orange Julius. I'm not a big fan of him. I'm a city worker, I'm a paramedic in the city. I'm a union guy, and we don't like him, because we know what he's done. With that nuance-- I'm sorry, go ahead, Kai.
Kai: I was going to ask, what about your other folks there in Levittown? In particular, Levittown has such a very specific history with some of the things we're talking about in terms of creating suburbs.
Rob: Yes, it's interesting. Being the original suburb and everything like that, I feel, when I talk with people, that there's a lot of resentment about people talking against Trump and using his words. Unfortunately, he talks too much, and everybody seems to be like, "If he would just shut up and let his policies do his work, he would have so much more of a leg to stand on without any recourse from the Democrats." Unfortunately, he's got diarrhea of the mouth, and it gets him in trouble. It really puts a lot of distaste in those independent third-party undecided voters.
Kai: Are you going to vote for him this year?
Rob: Reluctantly, most likely. Yes. However, I really wish we had a third-party system. I really do. I think I'm more of a traditionalist. I don't like to use Conservative versus Progressive because they have their connotation, like Traditionalist versus Reformist, but I do have my social freedoms that I like. The libertarian line of like, I wish I could just smoke pot, go to my gay friend's wedding, shoot my guns, and be safe in my own country, is really appealing to me. [crosstalk] I wish that could be the case, but--
Kai: And you feel like Donald Trump can bring you close to it. Well, thank you, Rob, for that. I'm going to let you go. Andrea, that's really interesting. We're hearing-- What I'm hearing a lot of here is that in fact even if people don't like Donald Trump, they're still feel safer somehow in varying ways with the Republican party.
Andrea: It's interesting to me given the pandemic. I don't think any of your callers have raised Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic, which national polls show most people disapprove of. There is a sense in which the actual real present danger that people everywhere are facing is being pushed off in favor of this hypothetical issue of some racial unrest or protest or some other threat to the suburb. I'd like to very much understand whether people feel-- One of the things that always happens in every election, is that voters come home. Part of the idea of these political conventions as they spew out messages so that people can latch onto one of them and give people various lifelines, and that is what they're trying to do. Who knows what is going to happen? I think that there has been so much movement, and the only certainty is uncertainty in this race. I do think that it is interesting that we've now heard from several callers now who feel that Donald Trump is keeping them safe, even though the reality that he warned against is the reality it is carrying under his own presidency.
Kai: Even though they don't like him, also that's what's interesting, is that the whole idea here was that he's so unlikable for Democrats, at least, that he's so unlikable they'll be able to rally the suburbs around that, and that is not at all what we heard, at least in this little [unintelligible 00:37:02]
Andrea: I think they're saying I don't like what he says, and I don't like how he's undisciplined, and I wish he would shut up, but at the end of the day, I think that he is going to give me a safer more secure future. That is an interesting sentiment, and one that surely Donald Trump's convention planners were on to when they put together their messaging.
Kai: Thank you so much for joining us. Andrea Bernstein is the co-host of the Trump, Inc. podcast. She's got a book called American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. It's out in paperback on October 6. It's awesome, and you should go buy it. She has hosted our daily coverage of the Republican national convention last week. Thanks for coming by.
Andrea: Kai, great to talk to you, and I'm so excited about the new show on the radio, proudly listening.
Kai: Thank you. Now before we go for hour, we're going to turn away from politics for a minute because, like I said at the top of the hour, it's been a tough week on a whole lot of levels. One of the questions we constantly wrestle with as a team here and on the show, is just how we find joy amid everything else as we cover these heart issues, and we need to make space to just breathe and live. I'm going to bring in one of our producers, Veralyn Williams. Veralyn, welcome to the air.
Veralyn Williams: Hi. Can you hear me?
Kai: I can. Excellent. You are our resonant find the joy voice, but thinking about this past week, one of the things that really stood out, you had a big reaction to the announcement of Chadwick Boseman's death this weekend. Boseman was most famously the Black Panther, but he also played Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, Jackie Robinson in 42. All these massive Black characters, and he died of colon cancer.
Veralyn: James Brown. And Spike Lee's latest, Five Bloods.
Kai: He died at 43, this weekend, of colon cancer, and that hit you. Tell me about that.
Veralyn: Yes. Mostly because we didn't know he was grappling with this in the midst of playing all of these super Black-- these Black figures, most notably King T'Challa, the first superhero African descent at the center of a Marvel. I think any mainstream superhero comic. I saw Black Panther five times in the theater. I think what he represented, he always talked about purpose. He was a champion of Black Lives Mattering. The part that hit me the most was thinking about the fact that he was doing all of that while also battling cancer. All the surgeries, all the chemo, just thinking about how much he was giving us, and by us, I think everyone, but particularly Black people, while also struggling with this, with an illness that ultimately took his life, I felt like I was devastated. I know a lot of people in my life where my whole Twitter, social media life, everyone was just devastated and shocked. Again, I brought up this concept of, this is a moment where we have to be super intentional about turning to joy, about choosing joy. That's something we've talked a lot about asking our listeners to also do. Like thinking about in the midst of everything we've been grappling with in politics, and everything that you laid out at the top of the show that's happening in the world, how are you guys and girls and everything in between choosing joy right now [unintelligible 00:40:51] yesterday, this past weekend.
Kai: How did you do that?
Veralyn: I, for the most part, have been social distancing and staying away from big crowds. A friend was having a birthday party. I live in the Bronx, she lives within Brooklyn, and I was conflicted. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out. After hearing the news, I was like, you know what, life is short. YOLO. I set my little car ride out to Brooklyn, and it was exactly what I needed. I haven't danced like that in months. That's how I chose joy this weekend. Just thinking about what are the ways we're going to push ourselves to sensor things that like either physically or mentally bring us happiness? It's not going to come just by being on social media passively. I'd be excited of hearing how other people are doing. I think that is something that also brings me joy by hearing what other people-- how other people are being. Kai, I'm always getting on you about this too.
Kai: How can our listeners tell us? What do we want to hear?
Veralyn: We want to hear specifically how you're choosing joy right now. We want you to be on social media, or sending us a recording and sending us a voicemail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just let us know. It could be anything from something small to a specific way in which you pushed yourself to do something that would make you smile, or make someone else in your life smile. Either tweet at us with the #USofAnxiety, or email us at email@example.com.
Kai: These are, as I have said, as Veralyn has said, these are tough times. This show, in particular, we are not here to be a diversion. We are asking people to deal with hard stuff, and we're doing that on purpose because we have to do that. We have to face things as a society. In order to do that, it's not a sprint. That's what my therapist tells me. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. In order to run a marathon, you've got to constantly refresh. We want to be able to explicitly bring that part of the conversation into our show. That's what we're asking for. Veralyn, thank you for joining us, telling your story, and bringing that piece, that question to our listeners.
Veralyn: Thank you, Kai.
Kai: We're going to wrap up for today. This has been the second week of our new live show. We'll be here every single Sunday evening at 6:00 PM. We hope that you will keep joining us. If you're just finding the show, you can also go to our podcast feed at wnyc.org/anxiety, or wherever you get your podcasts. You'll find four years worth of episodes there in which we've been wrestling with what it means to live in a truly multiracial America, and how we can design a society that actually lives up to this country's foundings ideals. Next week is Labor Day, and we will be here talking about essential labor, and how we value it financially, emotionally and personally, how we really actually put value behind that word, essential. This is United States of Anxiety. I'm Kai Wright. You can keep up with me on Twitter @Kai_Wright. Thank you so much for spending this time with us. I'll talk to you next week. The United States of Anxiety is a production of WNYC studios. This episode was produced by Carolyn Adams and Maryanne McCune. It was edited by Karen Frillman, who is also our executive producer. Jared Paul, mixed to the podcast version. Kevin Bristow was at the board for the live version. Our team also includes Emily Botein, Jenny Casas, Christopher Worth, and Verilyn Williams. Our theme music was written by Hannis Brown and performed by the Outer Borough Brass Band. Keep in touch. You can follow me on Twitter @Kai_Wright. Thanks for listening. You can join us live next Sunday, 6:00 PM Eastern, stream it on wnyc.org, or tell your smart speaker to play WNYC. Take care of yourselves.
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