Have a topic you’d like us to delve into, a guest recommendation, or just want to say hi? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
- “All Politics is Local: Changemaking Happens Closer to Home Than You Realize,” Elaina Pevide, Ms., Feb. 15, 2021.
- “Women’s Political Representation: A Dish Best Served with Reform,” Kaycie Goral, Ms., Mar. 16, 2021.
- LISTEN: Hear from even more women shaking up local politics in “On the Issues” episode 35: “Meet the Badass All-Women LA Board of Supervisors (with Kathryn Barger, Janice Hahn, Sheila Kuehl, Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis)“
- “How Black Women Legislators Are Fighting Abortion Bans and Trumpism in State Legislatures,” Roxy Szal, Ms., Feb. 18, 2021.
00:00:00 Michele Goodwin:
Welcome to “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin” at Ms. Magazine, a show where we report, rebel and tell it like it is. On this show we center your concerns about rebuilding our nation and advancing the promise of equality. Join me as we tackle the most compelling issues of our times. On our show, history matters. We examine the past as we think about the future. Now, on today’s show, we think about, what does independence mean for the rest of us? Women have long asked this question and any group that has felt shut out, excluded, colonized or enslaved has thought about the same.
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglas put it this way: what to the slave is the Fourth of July? It was a time in which our nation reaped benefit from the enslavement of kidnapped and trafficked Black people from the shores of Africa. And now, I know so many of us are hearing attacks on critical race theory and some of you are wondering what does that mean?
And you might even be asking why do we talk about Frederick Douglas in 1852, that, after all, is before the Emancipation Proclamation, before the Civil War and before the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Although, to be honest, we need to do a 13th Amendment show because the 13th Amendment abolished slavery but also allowed it to exist at the same time. But we’re going to talk about that later, another show.
But today, we dive into questions of freedom, the Fourth of July. What it means to be represented. What does equality mean when you’re thinking about your wages? What does freedom mean to people who are in detention centers, who are incarcerated in jails, or prison or waiting, still to be charged, or waiting for other criminal justice processes to take place while they’re not able to afford bail.
What does it mean to celebrate a day where there is so much to be grateful for and to honor, and yet, to recall the vestiges of Jim Crow, of slavery, of suffrage, of colonization, and how do we stay true to all of that? And some people see these messages as conflicting and how do we sort it out? Sometimes it’s not easy.
So, we’re talking to folks who are making a difference at the local level, who will help us to sort that out because not all the business gets done in Washington D.C. So, I’m joined by very special guests. Representative Leslie Herod, who was elected in 2016 as the first LGBTQ African American in the General Assembly in Colorado while receiving the highest number of votes of any candidate running in a contested election there.
Heather Lende is a New York Times bestselling author and has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, among many other newspapers and magazines, and in fact, has a great new book out, Of Bears and Ballots, which was just released a few weeks ago.
I’m also joined by Representative Attica Scott who serves in the Kentucky legislature, representing house district 41. She serves on critical committees, including education, local government and elections. So, this is a powerhouse episode. So, grab whatever drink is near by you in that mug, in that glass, and take a good sip, and if you’re barbecuing this week, today, take a good bite, but do sit back, listen because there is such critical engagement that they’re dropping, and I am absolutely thrilled to have these guests on today’s show.
Rep. Scott, this has been a question that has confronted women, of all backgrounds, its confronted African Americans in very unique ways. Frederick Douglas did a very famous oration associated with what does the Fourth of July, you know, mean to me? What does that mean to people who were enslaved and even post enslavement with Jim Crow, and it’s a complicated kind of space. Can you tell us a bit about what does the Fourth of July represent to you and the constituents that you represent?
00:04:43 Attica Scott:
Yes. And that’s a heavy question. I know that a few years ago, when I was serving on Louisville Metro Council, I remember being invited by my political party to partake in reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, and I stopped. I stopped going. I have not done that since I’ve been a state representative because those words ring hollow when I think about, as Heather said, our indigenous siblings on whose land we stand and don’t acknowledge, and what colonization has done to our indigenous siblings, and we still have yet to reconcile with that reality.
And it’s very difficult to see the Fourth of July, Independence Day as a day of celebration when people are still fighting for independence and freedom for Black lives, right. When we still don’t have justice for people who’ve been murdered by police. When people like me and my teenage daughter, at the time, were unjustly arrested and how we gloss over that, so that we can have fireworks and cookouts. All at the same time, on that very day, I guarantee you there are going to be some Black, and Latinx folks and indigenous folks across this country who are going to experience police violence.
And so, it’s really heavy to think about what that day means when there’s still so much reconciliation that has not happened in this country, and we’re barely moving in the direction of racial reconciliation, racial justice and having a new celebration of liberty, and freedom and justice that’s real and that’s not based on enslavement, that’s not based on taking people’s land, but instead, is based on unity and our ability to build, collectively, and acknowledge hurt and harm and remedy it.
00:06:39 Michele Goodwin:
I so appreciate you speaking to that heaviness of it, and you too, Heather, because that heaviness, when I think about it, internment of Japanese Americans leading to the Korematsu case, and yet, people who invested in joining U.S. service and military, indigenous people who have also fought for this country, African Americans, Latinx folks, and yet, also feeling dispossessed at the same time. But it’s a complicated celebration and I want to just ask, too, given that, there’s a lot of pushback right now about what history should be told or what is history.
Across the country, right now, there are legislatures where there are bills being proposed that literally call for suffrage to be removed from history books. That there are certain women who are, names not to be spoken. That indigenous people, not supposed to be mentioned. That African Americans, they’re not supposed to be talked about. How do we reconcile this very complicated space, right now, where history is not supposed to be history? What do we do with that?
00:07:55 Heather Lende:
I think you do it locally. Again, I come back to one on one, like you say. I mean, in Haines, where I live, there’s a native village about 20 miles out of town, Klukwan. They have a huge Fourth of July. They have more Vietnam vets per capita in this little village than most places in the country, I think. You know, out of a couple hundred people in the village they may have had 30 or 40 that served, and they’re very patriotic, which some people would find ironic. Like you say.
I think, for this year, you know, at least for me, the Fourth of July, in Haines, we know there’s some reckoning coming, and that’s good and there is some joy. I mean, the pandemic’s over. We’re having our first gatherings. That makes us happy. We’re seeing each other for the first time, and really, maybe thinking about all the things that have happened in the last year and maybe starting to process them. And the other one is, I mean, if I can say this, but quite frankly, there’s some celebration because Donald Trump isn’t president. I mean, you know, the bad guys didn’t win completely. We stopped them, and hopefully, that will keep going. I don’t want to get in trouble but it’s true. It could be worse, I guess is what I’m saying.
00:09:11 Michele Goodwin:
Well I mean, let’s be clear, there’s still children who have not been located or their parents have not been located, when one thinks about that, you know, one hears more…it’s not hyperbole when we think about Muslim ban, when we think about children being snatched from their parents’ arms and put in cages and being fed frozen burritos.
00:09:34 Heather Lende:
But here’s something that might give you some hope. Here’s something that would give you some hope, in the parade, the last time we had a Fourth of July parade, which I believe was two years ago, we had a group of people in Haines march for those children. Walking down the street with banners saying, you know, take our children out of cages. You know, peace. That whole thing.
And this is in Haines Alaska, about as far as you can get, and at the same time, and this is weird, but it gives me hope, there was a group of people with, you know, NRA, local gun club marching right along in the parade as well, and a homemade marching band and native dancers and singers. And I thought well, if we can at least be walking down Main Street together, then maybe we can get in a room and talk about some of this stuff together. And people are caring about that, even here.
00:10:22 Michele Goodwin:
And so, Rep. Scott, and I want to put this question back to you about history, right, this sort of history being taken out of history and how one exactly addresses that, especially given when you think about it, there are people that are saying that they never knew about the massacre of Black people in Tulsa. That they just never knew. And when I think about it, you know, it’s not just Tulsa. There are images going on across the country, now, where people are understanding, in towns across the United States, that Black businesses were burnt down. You know, successful Black communities were burnt down.
And when you think about the stereotypes that then, live, right, what people don’t know are about these massacres that Black people experienced, post slavery. What they don’t know is about, you know, Pauli Murray’s book on race laws, nearly 800 pages, single space, of laws, all that deny Black people from doing things post slavery, like, playing checkers in public, playing chess in public, being in a taxi, all of these different things, and when we say erase it from history, what does that mean? What do you hear? What do you think about, given that backdrop?
00:11:44 Attica Scott:
And I do want to start by saying, you know, Heather is absolutely correct. People, of course, are going to celebrate the fourth. I don’t want to leave that conversation without also acknowledging that many of those celebrations are going to be segregated. And so, my goodness, so much further for us to go to even acknowledge that, and then, I think about your point, Michele, and you know, I’m stuck with this idea of…and the question that Dr. King left us with, which is where do we go from here?
That’s the question I continue to sit with is where do we go from here because, in my opinion, there are some people who choose to ignore and to be ignorant of history, who have chosen to not even notice anything that may come into their purview about Tulsa, or Rosewood or any other part of this country where Black people were able to thrive and live in communities that they operated, right, that they were the leadership of.
And right here, in Kentucky, in Louisville, you will have people who will feign ignorance that the National Guard was brought into Louisville in the West end during the Civil Rights Movement and the governor at that time, called in the National Guard on my elders, and then, just last year the governor of Kentucky called in the National Guard, on us, in Louisville, and a Black man, David McAtee, was murdered by the National Guard.
You will have people who will feign ignorance, and then, in the next few years, will act like they never heard of that, didn’t even know it happened, right, and then, it will be incumbent upon us who live in the neighborhood where Mr. McAtee was murdered to keep reminding people of our humanity. To keep saying that, you know, law enforcement has been weaponized against us by white people in power, and we’re going to have to continue to remind people of that because there will always be people who choose to be ignorant about our suffering because they have that privilege to be ignorant because they feel like it didn’t impact them directly.
And we’re going to have to keep bringing them back, keep putting it in people’s faces and saying, we’re going to push back against any form of legislation, at the state level, anywhere in this country that does not want that history to be taught because that is the history of this country. That is the history of the commonwealth of Kentucky. It is the history of the city of Louisville. And we are going to put it front and center because we cannot get better, we cannot move forward if we don’t acknowledge that history, and then, turn that acknowledgement into action for change, and for justice, and for transformation.
00:14:37 Michele Goodwin:
There’s much to learn from Representative Attica Scott and the fight that she’s taken on in Kentucky for all Kentuckians, this question of liberty, equality and freedom for all and what that means in real pragmatic ways. So, it gives me great pleasure, then, to turn to Representative Leslie Herod. As I mentioned earlier, she was elected in 2016 to the Colorado General Assembly. She serves as the chair of the house finance committee there, vice chair of the house judiciary committee and chair of the committee on legal services. She also chairs the Colorado Black Democratic legislative caucus and the arts caucus.
She’s been very busy and doing incredible work for the people of Colorado. She helps us to think about what it means to be local. So much of what we think about in terms of power and how things get done, folks think about that in Washington D.C., but in reality, so much of what affects your life, your wellbeing, the well being of your family members and of your children, happens at the local level. And so, what an honor it was, for me, to sit with Representative Herod.
Representative Herod, you were elected in 2016 as the first LGBTQ African American in the General Assembly, in Colorado, and while receiving the highest number of votes of any candidate running in a contested election at that same time, which is really just terrific. I’m so impressed by the fact that you serve as chair of the house finance committee, vice chair of the house judiciary committee and chair of the committee on legal services. You have been very busy. What motivated you to run for office and what keeps you in the fight?
00:16:32 Leslie Herod:
Well, that’s a great question. You know, I have been working in Colorado politics since I was in college, honestly, lobbying at the state capital for access to higher education for students and student fee autonomy, and really began to understand the power that exists within these capitals, especially at the state level. But I didn’t know that I was going to run myself, because in Colorado, we didn’t have very many Black female legislators. I ended up working for the one who was serving as the only African American female legislator at the time, Representative Rosemary Marshall, but we had no Black queer legislators, and— she was the only. She was the only, and she took me in as her mentee, as someone who was hanging out around the capital looking for work.
She gave me a job but also, really gave me that mentorship. And so, when she term limited out, there was conversation about me running then but I, quite frankly, wasn’t ready to run. I felt like I needed to learn more but on top of that, I was very unsure about how the community would react to my sexual orientation, and if that was a position I wanted to put myself in, honestly. But after the seat was won by someone who did not reflect the community, and quite frankly, didn’t even seek out the voices of folks in the community, it was apparent to me that when the seat came back open that I was going to run.
And with the support of my mentor and so many others, I did, and to my, I think, surprise and pleasure, I think, you know, the community embraced me, and they said listen, we’ve always known about your sexual orientation. You’re not going to win despite it. You’re going to win because of who you are, and we want you to run and represent us. And this came from everyone from elders to church folks, to young folks, you know, white, Black, brown, everything in between, and I was really supported in my election and hope to be that same support for other folks who were looking to run for office as well.
00:18:54 Michele Goodwin:
Well, when I first came to learn about the impact of your work, it related to something that so many girls and women experience and that’s menstruation, and what was so moving about it is that you very bravely and courageously talked about what was happening to women, incarcerated, in Colorado, who were having to bargain to receive appropriate sanitary care such as tampons. Can you tell our listeners a bit about that? I mean, it was just absolutely stunning both in what you were able to accomplish but also, what you were able to reveal.
00:19:33 Leslie Herod:
Absolutely. So, as a member of the house judiciary committee and eventually as a vice chair, you know, I spent a lot of time, quite frankly, in prisons and jails talking to people about what they need, because they deserve representation too. But being in prison and jail has not been foreign to me. You know, my sister has been in and out of incarceration since I’ve known her, so for, honestly, about 30 years, and I know, first hand, the decisions she had to make between, you know, buying a tampon or calling her kids.
People are making, women in correctional facilities, if they make anything, about a dollar a day, and to buy a 12-dollar box of tampons is not something that’s easily done. And so, women were having to barter, beg, you know, create their own products in order to meet their sanitary needs, and quite frankly, that was unacceptable to me.
So, as a member of the judiciary committee, I decided that it was time to change that, and that I would run the first amendments on our budget to require that tampons be provided at the state level in all detention facilities, but then, subsequently ran a bill to ensure that our jails and other facilities that were not state run, had that requirement as well. And I got to tell you, when I go back and visit these facilities, the people there who menstruate are saying that this is the thing that has made them feel like they have the most dignity, that their advocacy has made progress for them. And so, I’m really proud of that work and wish the conversation didn’t have to happen but glad we can move it forward in Colorado.
00:21:16 Michele Goodwin:
And something that was so long overdue, and I wonder is that also an example of the multiple identities and sensitivities that you bring to this work as a Black woman. As a Black woman who has experienced family members in the systems of incarceration. As someone who’s sensitive to people who would be impoverished, as a woman. Because one wonders, well, okay, how come that hadn’t been addressed before?
00:21:47 Leslie Herod:
Absolutely. You know, I think because for so long it has been men making these decisions, they don’t even want to have the conversation. They couldn’t even say the word tampon much less provide them to the folks who were in their facilities. And so, you know, I did take people by surprise when I brought that amendment forward and said words like tampons, and pantyliners and pads without feeling embarrassed or ashamed and instead, really saying, we should be ashamed that we haven’t had these conversations and we haven’t provided these products.
We provide, you know, toilet paper and shampoo, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t provide these types of products, and again, to my surprise, maybe, but the thing that has changed is that there are more women now serving. And when I ran my first tampon amendment, I was proud that my mentor was Faith Winter, a representative who fought for, you know, female equality, equity, all that stuff and really was a part…you know, considers herself a feminist and a part of the women’s movement but also that, you know, the speaker of the house was a female, Crisanta Duran. And then, our governor at the time was hearing from the first lady, his wife, you know, or his partner at the time, about why this was so important.
And so, it became a conversation that was not one that was stoppable, right, because there were so many women who stood up and said, no, this is something that we must do. And I’m proud to say that the conversation has now evolved because now, we have men being a part of the conversation saying why aren’t we providing these products in our schools. And we have trans women who are stepping up and saying, it’s important that anyone, no matter their gender expression, has access to these products, and so, we want to make sure that they are available in all restrooms. Right. And so, these are conversations that continue to evolve in Colorado and it’s so important and it’s the right thing to do.
00:23:49 Michele Goodwin:
Well, it’s really a spark that is setting a flame all across the country what you’ve done, and it was so powerful. It still gives me chills looking at the video of you as you are holding up sanitary supplies saying, yes, this is a tampon and that we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it, and that is really great. You really are inspiring movements all across the country, but I see, as well, you are just at it in terms of legislation, right. So, you’ve very recently announced a bill to eliminate court fines and fees for juveniles. HB21-1315. It passed the senate in Colorado and is headed to the governor’s desk. Can you tell us about that legislation?
00:24:37 Leslie Herod:
Sure. Well, this is kind of the evolution of my career here is that I really wanted to make sure that I was a part of the decisions on the budget because a lot of the bills I had passed had success but the ones that didn’t were stopped because we didn’t have enough money to pay for them. So, I was appointed by the speaker this past year, to be on the joint budget committee and as a member…there’s only six of us. We have great power in building the budget.
And so, while I had tried to run bills previously, looking at fines and fees, I realized our judicial system is so dependent on them. So, even if we all agreed that these fines and fees are not working, right, they’re setting kids up for failure. No one was willing to sacrifice their budget for these youth and that was a problem to me. And even though the courts really recuperate only about 25 percent of those dollars, so 25 cents on one dollar they recuperate, they still were charging these fines and fees and using that revenue to pay for other court services.
So, I said let’s step back. Let’s talk about what our values are, which is these additional fines and fees are not working. They’re hurting the juvenile and their families, and again, they’re not really setting up that youth for success. Instead, they’re strapping them down with debt before they turn 18, so let’s agree on that. And now, let’s talk about how we fund our court system, equitably, and completely and wholly. You know. And so, I started to dig into the budget and found sources of funding that we could give direct revenue to our judicial branch, where they needed it, where they were not being funded. We actually used marijuana cash fund dollars because, for me, this is an equity issue, and said, we will fund your courts completely, but we will not do it on the backs of these young people.
00:26:32 Michele Goodwin:
Well, that’s right. So, as you’ve recently expressed, that Colorado spends 75 percent of juvenile fees collected on this kind of administration, you know, 75 percent of that is to go towards all these other things leaving only that 25 percent in net revenue. So, it’s degrading. It puts these kids in an awful position, but it also said a whole lot about running a judicial system on the backs of kids.
00:27:07 Leslie Herod:
Right. Right. Exactly. And just expecting their parents to be able to pay for it, you know. Really just not understanding comprehensively and holistically, like, what is going on with a young person who ends up in those situations, you know, and how these fines and fees just multiply. I mean, there are people who leave with thousands of dollars’ worth of debt and that is not for their punishment for their crime or their restitution. This is on top of that, and quite frankly, it’s wrong. So, we not only passed that bill, but we also wiped out all past debt. 58 million dollars’ worth of past debt now has been wiped clean, so that we are no longer saddling our young people with this debt as they go into adulthood.
00:27:52 Michele Goodwin:
My goodness. This is what power looks like. This is amazing what you’re doing, and you know, it makes me think of Pauli Murray who is an unsung hero, heroine who preceded Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the ACLU, you know, really helped to establish the frameworks for what became both civil rights movement litigation through Brown v. Board of Education, and also, equal protection work on women’s side.
And she wrote this book, which is amazing, nearly 800 pages, and it’s called Race Laws and its single space, and it just documents all of these horrific laws, Jim Crow laws. Such as laws banning Black people from playing checkers in public. Laws banning Black people from being able to play billiards.
And so, when I think about the work that you’re doing, this amazing, impactful work, and then, I think about what these folks were doing in legislatures, like, sitting around saying oh, let’s dream up a law where we can ban Black people from playing checkers and I’m thinking, like, and those people got elected? I’m so happy that you are in the Colorado legislature, and you know, the trend that you’re setting. I want to ask also about other legislation that you’ve pursued and that’s HB1224 and SB217. Can you tell us a little bit about that legislation?
00:29:24 Leslie Herod:
So, Senate Bill 217 is definitely a hallmark of what I’ve done. I’m very proud of that bill. So, it is our police accountability bill, here, in Colorado. It came up immediately during, quite honestly, the protests for the murder of George Floyd. We had protests, here, in Colorado like we had in most cities across the nation demanding change, and we happened to be working during that time. And again, as a legislator, I said I can do something about this.
We don’t just have to go out and join the protest or make some statement on Twitter. We can actually pass laws. And I’m proud to say that my colleagues agreed with me, so when they heard the protests and saw the video, they said we need to do something, and they respected the leadership of the Black caucus. I am the chair, and said, we will support what you all come up with. Within 16 days, we had drafted a bill and got it through the entire process and onto the governor’s desk. The governor signed that bill on Juneteenth.
So, what does that bill do? We are the first state in the nation to end qualified immunity for law enforcement officers. This means that they can be held accountable for their wrongdoings. They have to face a judge or a jury. We can bring more cases forward than we would have had if we did not have qualified immunity. Additionally, we required all law enforcement to wear body cameras by 2023, and that footage had to be released to the families directly, within 21 days, unredacted, unedited, because we’ve seen that too often, when you get a little clip and not the whole thing. You only get the part that tells one part of a story, and that is so very important.
Additionally, we put in racial profiling legislation and policy. We created a duty to intervene and a duty to report that also had criminal sanctions if you did not do that. We added pattern of practice investigations. So, this was an omnibus law enforcement bill that we got through with bipartisan support, Democrats and Republicans. And I’m proud to say that since that bill has passed, it has already had an effect. We are already seeing officers being charged under the crimes that we created in that bill.
And I believe we’re saving lives because we banned choke holds. We banned fleeing felon, meaning if someone is running away, you cannot shoot them in the back. All of those things we have changed now, in Colorado, and it is because of 217 and the work of the people who did not stop their protests until this bill was passed.
00:32:01 Michele Goodwin:
Look at that. You know, in two weeks you did that, you and your colleagues. You know, I think that there’s a lot to be said about modeling what you’re doing because you also proudly represent, right. So, what I’ve seen of you, whether it’s as you’re speaking to your colleagues in the legislature, whether you are speaking out to your constituents and social media, etcetera, is that you proudly represent who you are as a Black woman, as a Black queer woman in the legislature, and you are able to do this and gain bipartisan support. Many would wonder how in the world do you do that?
00:32:47 Leslie Herod:
Well, it’s all about building relationships and listening. You know. My first year I sat next to a very liberal democrat, my good friend Representative Joe Salazar, always fighting the good fight, and I put myself, on the other side of me, a more conservative Republican who was a DA and really got to listen to where he was coming from. And when I heard points of agreement, I kind of took them and ran with them. You know.
So, him and I agreed on a few different issues that really allowed me to run some of the bills that I ran and passed, like drug defelonization, but again, it also let me understand what was going on in his mind, so that when it came time to run some of these big bills, like law enforcement accountability, I had a sense of what mattered to him and what his values were, so that I could change my dialogue in a way that resonated with his side of the aisle. And I always told him, I don’t need to get all of you. I just need to get some of you, you know, and our issues are not that different.
And so, that is how you do that work, and you have to do it on both sides of the aisle. I always say that it’s rare that I get all Democrats on my bills but it’s more rare that I can pull over some Republicans, you know, especially rural Republicans. Especially those who are libertarians or lower income who might understand what it’s like a bit to be overpoliced, right, or to be unfairly charged or that have this American value in them, of innocent before proven guilty, you know, or your day in court, living until your day in court. And so, we were able to work on some of those things together.
What me and Cole Wist worked on, Representative Wist at the time, worked on together was closing down prison debts and shutting down prisons in Colorado. We shut down numerous prisons in Colorado now, and it wasn’t because of the dignity issue or the justice issue that, you know, sung a song to him, it was straight up budget, right. It was they were creating a fiefdom. They are — tax dollars, This is too much money, we shouldn’t be giving the Department of Corrections a billion dollars every year and I said, I agree with you. So, we got to work together, and we have closed prisons. You know what I mean? And so, it’s finding that alignment.
00:35:11 Michele Goodwin:
Yes. What you’ve done so successfully. So, we’re coming to the closing but really, I could just spend hours listening to you. Honestly, there’s still so much more, and I really do hope that you’ll come back on our show because our listeners, and it’s not just our listeners, it’s your colleagues who also listen to our show, who I think are learning so much from you all across the country and in Congress, too.
So, I would very much hope that you’ll come back, but we always do this at the end of our show. We ask about a silver lining and what our guests see as, going forward, what provides hope for them, and so, I’d like to put that question to you. What’s the silver lining for you as you move forward with the work that you do?
00:35:59 Leslie Herod:
Yeah. Well, I’ll definitely take you up on that offer to come back, anytime. And what I would say is the silver lining is really just, it’s a tough time right now, you know. I think, as a Black woman, we are facing a lot of traumas and they are coming up from inside of us. They are generational traumas but they’re also trauma that’s being committed against us right now, right. We are seeing more division in our country. We are seeing a lot of backlash against the movement for Black Lives and that is just creating a lot of, I think, negativity and kind of a cloud. COVID. It’s just one thing after another.
But what is inspirational to me is that we are changing the game and if we can like focus in on that, I think, when we look back on this time, we will see that Black women have not only led the conversation, but they have changed laws and policies across the board, not just in the legislature but in their places of work, in their homes, in their communities, in whatever way that looks like. And so, we are making progress I don’t think we’ve seen in a very long time and that provides me with so much hope and inspiration.
So, that, when I look at a little Leslie, a little Black girl coming up through school or coming out of a tour of the state capital, who’s like, I can do that job. I can be that person. I am so hopeful and excited to see what she brings to the table and what laws and policies she changes because that is how I think we break down this systemic racism and white supremacy that is built into the fabric of our nation, and our policies and our laws, and I know that we’re going to do it.
00:37:40 Michele Goodwin:
Thank you so much, Representative Herod. It is my honor having you on our show.
So, at this point I needed to turn back, to turn back to Representative Scott and Heather Lende to give a sense about what happens, on the ground, in places like Alaska and Kentucky. What does it mean to represent people at the most intimate, local levels, city councils, school boards, state legislators, and what is it like for women to run for office, and how do people respond to them? It doesn’t matter if you are a woman of color or not. It doesn’t matter if you are LGBTQ. How do people come out to support? How do people resonate with the messages that women are offering in these times, and they have a lot to say.
Rep. Scott, I would like to turn to you. You’ve been a witness, firsthand, to what it’s like to be in politics in a state that was divided at its very origins on questions of slavery. Even though Kentucky was willing to go along with the union, it was a state that enslaved African Americans, and on January 22 a Kentucky Born Alive bill came into law when the governor allowed it to pass through without his signature. In an interview with Ms. Magazine, you said that you began serving in the legislature, there, in Kentucky, in 2017, and from that very first day until now there has been an all-out assault by the Republican supermajority on the rights of women to make their own reproductive health decisions.
So, part of this divide, one could say, has been along lines of race. Another has been along the lines of sex. It’s been deeply intersectional. So, why don’t I start off with you just talking about what inspired you to run, then. Was it the fact that you see a divide, the fact that there’s a need for greater representation, women, people of color, what inspired you?
00:39:57 Attica Scott:
Interestingly enough, Michele, for this particular seat as a state rep, I was encouraged by another state representative, a woman who is currently in office, the awesome state representative Mary Lou Marzian, and for about a year she encouraged me to run. I had lost my re-election to local government, local metro council and she kept saying my vision was bigger and broader and it was needed in Frankfort, and she encouraged me to run against a long-term incumbent, someone who’s family had held the seat for almost 40 years.
And so, that was pretty significant, pretty huge to have her say, we need you in office and I’m going to do what I can to work to help you unseat someone who is in my own political party. So, that’s how I ended up being recruited to serve as a state representative, was by another woman who saw something in me that was bigger, and bolder and braver than the person who was representing us at the time.
00:41:00 Michele Goodwin:
So, in fact, on bigger, bolder, braver, you also shared something else, which is that you had a seat in local, local government that you lost. So, could you tell us a little bit about that because that would be devastating for people and they’d say, I’m never doing this again. Get me out of politics altogether. If you all can’t appreciate me, I’m going home. Why wasn’t that your story?
00:41:24 Attica Scott:
For me, it couldn’t be my story. I am from the projects, Beecher Terrace, here in Louisville, recently torn down, and now, multi-family, single family housing is being built. So, I have a different set of people who are looking to me for lots of other reasons than what we typically see with politicians is, you know, let’s maintain incumbency, or you’re wealthy enough to run. No. It was people who were like, no, she’s from the hood like we are. She’s from the streets like we are. She has lived the same kind of experiences that we have lived and she’s going to bring that to her service. And so, when people elected me to serve on metro council, that’s what they saw.
And for me, it was a unique situation when I lost. I ended up applying for this vacant, local metro council seat because the person who was in the seat retired, and then, a year later, she passed away. So, I ended up losing the seat to her daughter. So, there was a lot of sympathy vote there. People were voting for the daughter of the woman who was previously in the seat and who had died. So, that was understandable. Totally different situation than you have in most cases.
And so, but a year later, people were ready for me to run for something else because I didn’t give up. I didn’t stop. I didn’t throw up my hands and say, oh, I lost an election and life is over. No. I said, that’s an election. That’s exactly what that is. That’s not life. That’s part of my life, but the work continues. People are still houseless. People are still hungry. People still need a robust public transportation system, so they can get to work. That doesn’t stop because I lost an election. That work has to continue. And so, I kept going and people saw that. They paid attention to that and were ready to support me in this position as state representative.
00:43:09 Michele Goodwin:
Those are serious lessons, right. There’s so much more to unpack on that, just how one picks up and how that braveness leads to something that is a bolder kind of vision. Well, Heather Lende, it is wonderful to have you on the show. Your book Of Bears and Ballots: an Alaskan Adventure in Small Town Politics is such an important read and it, too, says a lot about what it means to put yourself forward and to become vulnerable for trying to make a change. Can you tell us a little bit about that journey that inspired the book, which I’m holding, right now, in my hands?
00:43:56 Heather Lende:
Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me here, and I’m just really honored to be in the presence of Rep. Scott and I’m in awe of what she does. What happened with me is on a much smaller scale. Haines, Alaska is a very small town, about two thousand people. You know, to give you an idea, there’s what, 270 kids in the school district, kindergarten through twelfth grade. We just had, I think, 19 seniors graduate. It’s a very small place, and it’s isolated. You can only get here by a ferry or a long road through the Canadian border that’s closed now, and small planes.
But I was part of, I think, a group of women who were inspired by Hillary Clinton and the 2016 campaign that I thought well, she’s going to be the first woman president, and I’m going to be in that wave and my grandchildren will be proud of me, and you know, we all know how that went. And I was listening very closely to Rep. Scott in your introduction talking about the divisiveness in Kentucky politics and that from the get-go there was an assault on everything that was important to you, and that happened to me, here, in Haines. There was two of us that were more liberal, progressive. Myself, a writer and then, the local editor of the newspaper and really, literally, the first…right after we were sworn in, we were told, we’re going to recall you. The wrong people voted. You’re getting out of here.
Our issues are not really race or gender based, they tend to be much more environmental. Issues of development, which, you know, when you get to it, they’re all linked. We have a large Alaskan native population. There’s historic trauma, so it’s not that they’re not but those things, here, aren’t quite voiced, but I see, in local government and local service, a real connection and a real way to make good things happen if you can stick with it, but it’s difficult. It’s really difficult when you’re just under attack all the time, and it takes great courage. So, I love your perspective on it, Rep. Scott.
00:46:26 Michele Goodwin:
Well, in fact, so let’s unpack further and let me turn back to Rep. Scott because you’ve been described as a “reptivist,” which is a very interesting term. I’ve never heard of reptivist before, but this is one of the labels that’s been tossed at you and it’s because you come from an activist and organizing background. And in that role, you recently co-sponsored three pre-filed bills calling for proposed statewide fairness law. A ban on conversion therapy for Kentuckians younger than 18 and for public schools to provide age appropriate, medically accurate and LGBTQ+ inclusive health education for their students.
Now, in Kentucky, that would seem radical although not always from Kentucky. I mean, something has happened in Kentucky. So, maybe we can get to talking about what’s happened in Kentucky, but what inspired you to file these particular bills, and do you find support amongst your colleagues in the legislature?
00:47:31 Attica Scott:
Thank you so much for that question, Michele. And I’m a co-sponsor with my colleague Representative Lisa Willner here, in Louisville and Jefferson County, who’s the primary sponsor of the bills, and we intentionally announced those bills on the first day of pride month, in part because we wanted to acknowledge that it was a Black queer woman who led the Stonewall Uprisings in 1969, and then, just a year ago, we had the uprisings for Black Lives in Louisville and across Kentucky. We had, Michele, literally, thousands of people in Appalachia and rural Western Kentucky marching for Black Lives in 2020. So, for us, this was bringing all of that together to do…really to go back to your point and to Heather’s point about how all of our issues are intersected, right, how they are connected, and we see, and we live that daily.
And so, for us, it was a way of bringing them together and saying to folks, yes, we can protect our young people from the dangerous practice of conversion torture. 42 percent of conversion torture survivors have attempted or seriously considered suicide in the past year. And so, with everything, with COVID-19, the uprisings for Black Lives, with high unemployment rates, and here, in Kentucky, for the first time in 19 years, we saw women outpace men in seeking unemployment insurance benefits. And so, with all of that happening and on top of that you have young people and people who have survived conversion torture thinking about or even attempting suicide.
And so, it’s really important for us to ban conversion therapy. It’s also important for us to pass statewide fairness legislation to protect people in employment, housing and public accommodations all across Kentucky, to protect them and their civil rights. And so, we’ve had 21 cities and a county pass a statewide fairness ordinance. It’s time to pass that at the state level. Then, of course, yes, it’s vitally important for us to have comprehensive and inclusive sexual health education in our public schools.
So, it was important to me to sign on as a co-sponsor for those measures and I do want you all to know, I think it’s really important for you listeners who are thinking about Kentucky in this context, this has support of people who are Democrats and people who are Republicans. And so, we are beginning to see a shift in Kentucky in the way that people are thinking about how we protect folks who are LGBTQ+.
00:50:09 Michele Goodwin:
Well, you know, I want to add on to that because our listeners also know we’ve done a show, our 15 Minutes of Feminism: Who Killed Breonna Taylor, and so, what’s on their mind and attention is so much coming out of Kentucky. I mean, Kentucky has really become a place for the nation to watch. It’s also the place where Breonna Taylor was killed in her own bedroom. An essential care worker who was not treated with the dignity that she deserved, that we all owed to her given the work that she was doing.
And so, this is a flashpoint for thinking about a number of issues that I’m sure, as a representative, you must contend with, right. So, how do you keep people feeling safe, like Breonna Taylor, in our homes with the conversations that are taking place about law enforcement? It’s sort of in the wake of an insurrection in the capitol earlier this year and with people being defiant in Congress, not wanting a commission to investigate it. How hard is it to do the work that you’re doing in pulling people together, given the backdrop of these tensions?
00:51:26 Attica Scott:
Thank you so much for that question. And really, for me, all of what you’ve just talked about is how we’ve come closer together, is how we’ve found one another, is how, you know, for the folks in far Eastern Kentucky who found themselves side by side marching for justice for Black Lives, looked around and said, I’m not by myself, right. We hadn’t done this before because I thought it was just me and I wasn’t ready to take that step by myself but there are literally hundreds and thousands of us marching together and look at what we can build together when we hold onto that.
And then, as a result, you had, you know, almost a hundred Black people from this one county in Eastern Kentucky, who came to their next city council meeting and shared stories of their experiences and interactions with law enforcement in Eastern Kentucky. They had never done that before because they didn’t feel safe enough to do it, but because of the uprisings and because of the people who showed up in Eastern Kentucky, they said yes, let’s go share our stories.
So, to your question, Michele, it’s really everything that you’ve mentioned has brought us together. Literally, four thousand people calling their state legislators to say support a full ban on no knock warrants. Five thousand people sending them emails and this is from all across Kentucky. We’d never seen anything like that before on a piece of legislation where folks felt connected in the way that they did with the bill that we were trying to pass to ban no knock warrants. So, I would just say that the pressure, everything that we’ve been experiencing, has made us look around and say, how do we support one another? How do we have one another’s backs?
00:53:08 Michele Goodwin:
And it seems that it’s also made a difference, too. Have you seen that as well and what does that mean for community? And then, I’m going to turn to you, Heather. But Rep. Scott, what does that mean when people use their voices because I imagine, just as you said, with a hundred Black folks in Eastern Kentucky who came out for the first time and said, look, these are the experiences that we’ve had but we’ve not done it before maybe out of fear, or maybe out of a sense that maybe nothing will happen, people won’t listen to us, or they won’t believe us or give us the time that we deserve. But you see something changing and tell us about that, and then, Heather, I want to hear about what that’s like in Alaska.
00:53:49 Attica Scott:
I see real changes. I see people who are taking their protests and turning it into policy advocacy, and now, are moving into politics and running for office themselves. We had middle school students who came to their state capital to support banning discrimination based on natural hair and they have a whole video, a hip hop video they created called The Crown, and so, it’s all about their crown, their beautiful hair. And then, you have people who were supporting a police accountability measures who are, you know, my age and older who’ve never been to their state capital before, but they finally saw themselves directly reflected in legislation and came up to their state capital to hold a march and a rally. That’s huge, Michele, for us.
That is huge, for us, in the commonwealth of Kentucky to have people who are turning that protest into something more and are looking at what can we change at the local, and state and federal level as it relates to policy, and then, why can’t we run for office. Why don’t we have the right to put our names on the ballot. And now, you have one of our key protest leaders in Louisville who’s running for mayor in 2022. This is all huge, and phenomenal and fantastic, and I hope that it’s a model for other people in other rural communities, and suburban areas and urban areas, who are looking around and saying, yeah, I’m in a Southern state and we can match that energy that Kentucky’s putting out there.
00:55:13 Michele Goodwin:
Yeah. I can’t help but also think that this is 2021 when we’re seeing this and 2020 when we’re seeing this. It’s been a long time coming, really, it has been. And so, Heather, in your book Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small Town Politics, you’ve talked about what it’s like to also try to bring people together and try to move an agenda forward, and our audience can’t see the fact that you’re shaking your head right now. So, what in the world inspired you to do this? You’re a New York Times bestselling author but you decided to put your hat in. Tell us about that.
00:55:56 Heather Lende:
I mean, Representative Scott, my heart sings when I listen to her. I’m there. Like, that’s why. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make a change. We don’t have the obvious, the so public issues. This is a small town. It’s pretty white, and Alaska natives, but there’s an underlying part of it that we tend to ignore and it has to do with poverty, abuse, all kinds of stuff, and what I wanted to speak on, quickly, because you talk about changing police policy at a state wide level, we’re pretty isolated and small, and a lot of towns that are in red states, particularly, are isolated and small, and the decisions that are being made by local government are the ones that are, in many ways, perpetuating a lot of the racism, the trauma, the sexism.
Even though there may be some umbrella, state wide, but it’s the hiring committees. It’s the supervisors. It’s the local councils and assemblies who approve those policy manuals, and sometimes, are people of good will but aren’t really savvy politically. They’re not paid. They’re spending a lot of time. They’ve got a lot going on, and so, when they’re handed this 300-page thing, well there’s the police chief, they just kind of go, I guess it’s okay. Until something happens, like, wait. How did that happen? Well, it’s in the policy.
And I see a place that really needs reforming is the local, small town governments because the time expected of volunteer citizens is so…there’s so much of it that it in and of itself creates inequity. I mean, how can like, a single mom with three kids who’s working all day go to a meeting four nights a week, or spend their whole weekend, instead of with their family, they’re reading through policies and planning for the next meeting. The system itself creates inequities and it needs to be changed, and one of the good things about the pandemic was Zoom. All of a sudden, even in Haines, my daughters, who could never go to a borough assembly meeting are listening at home, and they can call in on Zoom. That was a game changer. People were hearing it.
00:58:34 Michele Goodwin:
For the first time. You know, I want to turn to this topic of the local and how important the local happens to be because all eyes, in November and January, with so much litigation challenging the presidential election, over 60 lawsuits, so many that were futile, all tossed out, right, expect for one. So, eyes all on D.C., but people lose sight of what’s happening at the local level and how important it is to their lives, and maybe you both can help to fill in a little bit more about how it is so important that we pay attention to local politics.
00:59:18 Heather Lende:
I mean, I can tell you that it is, it’s really important but it’s also hard and it isn’t necessarily as rewarding as having a larger group that at least you know you’ve got a constituency. You know, you’re trying, constantly, to craft a compromise and to sit back, start again. The personalities are all very obvious and they’re the same people you see in the grocery store. Your kids go to school with them. You know, many small towns, there’s one public school. There’s not a lot of community division in terms of the way we socialize, and so, there you are. You know, you voted against something that your next-door neighbor really liked, and then, suddenly, they don’t talk to you.
But worse yet, what happens now is that they get on social media, they start watching a different news channel, and suddenly, it’s like Republicans and Democrats, and you’re just talking about local zoning. Like, how did that happen? When did it suddenly become this big, national issue? And most recently, our assembly here in Haines, which I’m not on anymore, passed a resolution making our little town a second amendment sanctuary city. It was like, what? In spite of all the opposition, locally, but there happened to be a couple of people on the assembly, they knew they had the votes, and so, they just did it.
It’s like, where did that come from? That came from somebody watching OAN or whatever it was. It wasn’t a local issue at all, and it suddenly became one and that’s where you see it coming down into small towns, now, and I think that’s a concern and its why people have to say to themselves, well, it’s worth my time to do it, and my community is worth it and to know that it goes out into the world like the butterfly effect. I mean, it matters.
01:01:14 Michele Goodwin:
Well, in fact, on that note, with Rep. Scott, you know, it seems to me that there’s a lot of model legislation that’s being pushed down onto states. ALEC, an organization that’s highly influential has been part of that. We’ve seen that with the Affordable Care Act and myriad other legislation that deals with incarceration and so many other kinds of things, that’s the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is also known as ALEC, and it’s a network of state legislators, conservative philanthropies and some pretty wealthy donors. An advocacy group who basically draft model proposals for legislatures, and then, those spread all around the country.
And so, when Heather Lende speaks to just what happened in terms of local politics with this new second amendment sanctuary proposal, rules coming about out of nowhere, it makes me wonder, well, maybe it was a somewhere, somewhere else. So, can you talk a little bit about what that is like in Kentucky? Have you seen instances of that, and then, also, the importance of local governance?
01:02:32 Attica Scott:
We have, Michele, and what’s heartbreaking is we’ve had bills, here, in Kentucky, for multiple years now to do things like address the fact that Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. We can’t get those bills to have the light of day. We can’t get the bills banning discrimination based on natural hair, those don’t get the light of day. But yet, we’ve recently, just in the past week, had a legislator file a bill for the 2022 session to basically ban any public school in Kentucky from teaching the history of racism and sexism in this country. And so, yes, we see that going across the country.
Kentucky is definitely not the first state that has started to move in this direction, but it quickly followed suit and fell in line because of this rhetoric around critical race theory and the 1619 project, which neither are being taught in our public schools, but this is a way to try to ride that wave that we’re beginning to see across the country. So, yes, Michele, to your point, we are experiencing that right here in Kentucky as well, and it’s why people have to pay attention to what’s happening at every single level of government.
And please stay focused on what’s happening in your own backyard with the people who tend to be closest to you, your local city councils or county commissions. What’s happening at the state level because the state can decide to do something that forces your localities to fall in line, whether you want to or not. So, it’s important to know who’s representing you at the state level as well as at the federal level, to know who’s going to push back against some of these policies that we’re seeing across the country and make sure that there’s policy at the national level to prevent things like not teaching the history of racism and sexism in our public schools.
01:04:26 Michele Goodwin:
Wow. You know, for so many people that would be absolutely daunting, what you say, but this is exactly why you’re the reptivist, which is that legislation that can’t get the light of day, including maternal mortality, and it’s an issue that’s real in the state of Kentucky and we know that nationally, Black women are three and a half times more likely than white women to die carrying a pregnancy to term, and that’s magnified, it’s tripled, it’s quadrupled in certain communities. And so, and Kentucky being one of those spaces where there are these grave disparities as well.
But we also have on our show a time in which we like to think about silver linings, and this has gone by way too quickly, our time together, and so, I’m wondering for you both, what you see as silver linings going forth. What keeps you hopeful and what keeps you inspired even as there is such divisiveness that we can see in our country? I’ll start with you, Rep. Scott.
01:05:35 Attica Scott:
Thanks so much for the question. I’m looking forward to what Heather has to share because I’m enjoying the conversation that she’s bringing. There’s so much similarity, so much commonality that we have. This is what gives me hope though it’s because I believe that we can build power across our geographic divides and our differences. It’s the collective story sharing that will get us to the point where we’re building our collective power to truly see transformative change across our country, in every single part of our country, regardless of where you are and what time zone you might be in.
And so, I keep going because of the young folks that I have the privilege of navigating community with, who are doing just phenomenal work to center the needs of Black folks, and Asian folks, and folks who are Palestinian, and people who are houseless and folks who are LGBTQ+, who are saying we will not give up until we all know what justice looks like, until we all know what equity looks like, until we all know what freedom means in our lives. And so, you know, if I can do anything to support our people, for me, that means showing up. And showing up, as an elected official, even sometimes in spaces where I’m the only one, and we’ve done the work to make sure we’ve changed that because the goal was never to be the only one.
The goal was open up the door for other people to come through and make it even easier for other people to follow. And so, I remain hopeful, Michele, because now we have two Black women serving in our state legislator and we have the first ever Indian immigrant, my colleague Rep. Nima Kulkarni. So, that’s what gives me hope, is seeing that we are actually making those kinds of concrete changes in the midst of an environment where people told us it wasn’t possible, and we rejected that wasn’t possible and said we’re going to show you what’s possible. We’re going to do it and that’s what we’re doing right here, in Kentucky.
01:07:30 Michele Goodwin:
Heather, what about you?
01:07:31 Heather Lende:
What gives me hope is just what Rep. Scott was talking about, it’s the human to human. It’s the heart to heart, you know, mind to mind. Once we start in a dialogue with people that we know, for instance, in a small town, or meet new people, and you know the stories, everything changes, and it usually changes for the better. When we get rid of all the big idealogues and that’s where like, in local government…you know, we had a situation here where we had a natural disaster, in December, and it was a landslide and two young people were killed, a kindergarten teacher and a young man that had a great future, and when that happened people who hadn’t spoken to each other over politics, people who were really fighting suddenly were helping each other out.
And some guy had a backhoe and he helped somebody who considered him a redneck or a greenie, those are the kind of words that you hear in small towns, and everybody kind of realized what we had in common, and it changed. For a few months, it changed, and we moved forward with fixing roads, with feeding people, you know, with working with the Salvation Army, and the American Legion and the school, and helping people get through that disaster and we still are. And I hate to see a disaster bring that kind of thing out, but you talked about it with Breonna. I mean, sometimes, that’s what happens.
The best comes out in people when bad things happen and that’s when it inspires more people to get involved. So, I think there’s hope when we take a look at what we have in common more than what divides us, and there’s a lot, and we just have to get rid of the noise from the people who really, it’s in their best interest to keep us apart and to keep us fighting. I think women are the ones who can do this. The moms and grandmas, like me. I have like…I can say whatever I want with my gray hair now, so I’ll do it. You know, what do I have to lose? Like, everything and nothing, right.
01:09:44 Michele Goodwin:
I love that. I love that. Thank you both so much for being on the show. Guests and listeners, that’s it for today’s episode of “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin,” and I want to thank my guests Representative Leslie Herod, Heather Lende and Representative Attica Scott for joining us and being part of this critical and insightful conversation. And to our listeners, I thank you for tuning in for the full story. We hope you join us again for our next episode where we will be reporting, rebelling and telling it like it is with special guests tackling really important issues.
You know, listen out for the shows that we have coming up where we’re going to be talking about sex ed 101, what you really wish that your parents had really told you about. We’re going to be talking about the Olympics and women in sports, and we’re going to be talking about the cast of hate, which people are seeing now against Asian American communities, but the reality is that for a very long time there has been a blanket of suffering, and hate, and resentment and discrimination that has seemingly been papered over, and so, we’re going to rip the band-aid off and talk about all of that.
So, for our listeners, if you want to find out more about this episode, then head to msmagazine.com, and if you believe, as we do, that women’s voices matter, that equality for all persons cannot be delayed and that rebuilding America, being unbought and unbossed and reclaiming our time are important than be sure to rate, review and subscribe to “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin” in Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Google podcasts and Stitcher.
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This has been your host Michele Goodwin, reporting, rebelling and telling it like it is. “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin” is a Ms. Magazine joint production. Kathy Spillar and Michele Goodwin are our executive producers. Our producers for this episode are Roxy Szal, Mariah Lindsay and Oliver Haug. The creative vision behind our work includes art and design by Brandi Phipps, editing by Will Alvarez and Marsh Allen, and music by Chris J. Lee, and as ever, we are always grateful for the impressive executive assistance of Stephanie Wilner.