In exploring how to grapple with the bias and stigma being unleashed during this crisis, we spoke with two people who have had to deal with it head on. We talk with former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke who woke up last week to an inadvertent cameo in a Trump Campaign ad as well as New York Times best selling author Ijeoma Oluo about efforts to aid Seattle area artists and how we might curb the rise of racial bias during this trying time.
0:37 - Introducing the Life On The Margins Podcast
3:43 - Jini Palmer's personal experience with Coronavirus
8:05 - Interview with former Washington Governor Gary Locke
21:05 - Interview with Ijeoma Oluo
36:56 - Episode Recap
Gary Locke graduated from Seattle's Franklin High School. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He attended Yale University, graduating with a Bachelor degree in political science and received his law degree from Boston University.
As Governor of Washington State (the first Chinese American to be elected governor in United States history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland), U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and most recently as America's envoy to China, Gary Locke has been a leader in the areas of education, employment, trade, health care, human rights, immigration reform, privacy, and the environment.
Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller. She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk about Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and winner of the of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society, Oluo’s work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts, and personal essay. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, TIME, The Stranger, and the Guardian, among other outlets.
Produced In Partnership With :
Town Hall Seattle (https://townhallseattle.org/)
The South Seattle Emerald (https://southseattleemerald.com/)
Executive Producer + Host // Marcus Harrison Green
Executive Producer + Host // Enrique Cerna
Executive Producer + Host // Jini Palmer
Additional Production Support Provided By // Hans Anderson & JEFFSCOTTSHAW
Music Provided By // Draze "The Hood Ain't The Same" // http://www.thedrazeexperience.com/about-draze/
"And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this, if not for yourself then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big mama, do it for your pop-pop. We need you to understand especially in communities of color we need you to step up and help stop the spread so that we can protect those who are most vulnerable."
♪ I was born in the Central District ♪ ♪ Raised in the south bend ♪ ♪ I'm a homegrown kid yep ♪ ♪ 206 living ♪ ♪ We used to play Flyers up ♪ ♪ When I lived up on Union ♪ ♪ Pushing out towards us ♪
- COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. As we just head from Surgeon General Jerome Adams, whose comments about communities of color brought down some controversy, we're facing a tremendous challenge. Coming up, how we are coping in Seattle, King County, and Washington State, the original ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak in the US. We'll hear from former governor Gary Locke and bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo. Welcome all to the first episode of Life on the Margins. I'm Enrique Cerna.
- I'm Jini Palmer.
- And I'm Marcus Harrison Green. Now before we get started we want to share a little bit about who we are and why we created this podcast for you. All three of us are veterans of the media sphere where we've habitually seen the voices of communities of color muffled, distorted, and diluted. We found that true power isn't the cushy position at a large media powerhouse. It's being able to speak as authentically as possible. So here, with our intergenerational, racial, and diversely gendered crew we'll empower the voices and stories few others can or do. Speaking of empowerment, it's something that I've done at the South Seattle Emerald over the last six years, publishing and amplifying the voices of communities of color in South King County. I've been the publisher for the last six years and it has been a great experience because I've gotten to meet people like you, Jini, and Enrique, and now we're here with this podcast that I am going to say is going to be the best in Seattle of all time. So just throwing that out there.
- Love that.
- Well, there's a high standard to reach. There we go.
- We're gonna get there. And I've been working with Town Hall Seattle. I'm the digital media manager there. I've been producing podcasts and managing the video team for about three-and-a-half years. I'm originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. I've lived here for over 10 years, almost 11 years now, so I think I'm a legit Seattleite at this point, and I've played music for many years. I write songs on my guitar and play the piano and some drums and do some video work, so I'm definitely in the sphere of video/audio publication.
- And I am a semi-retired journalist. I've been here in Seattle for 45 years. Grew up here in Washington State, actually born and raise in the Yakima Valley near a small town called Wapato in Central Washington, but my life has really been formed here in the Seattle area doing a lot of journalism work, but I'm really looking forward to being part of this podcast and bringing folks feature interviews and stories of those folks that are on the margins, the marginalized, those who are underserved and not heard of much from much, and we need to give them a voice and I'm really looking forward to giving them that opportunity and working with Jini and Marcus and we're gonna have a good time but we're also gonna tell some good stories, too.
- Yes, we are.
- Yeah. So Jini, I know that as we have been dealing with the virus and the pandemic you actually had a bit of a scare. A few weeks ago you were quite ill, so were you concerned that you actually had the virus?
- Yeah, I think I'm still concerned. I think I might always be concerned that I contracted the virus, but I am unsure. Basically about a month ago I went to a wedding in Oregon. I don't know that it had anything to do with that, but a few days after I came back I was sick and it kind of hit my respiratory system. I had some definite, like I would call it kind of pressure in the lungs and was coughing, but it wasn't a dry cough and it was more phlegmy. It was incredible phlegmy, and then I didn't have much of a temperature. I also, like, bought myself a little thermometer and then like read my temperature. I never really got a fever, so there were some symptoms that I had and then symptoms that I didn't, so I basically got a hold of my kinda online care physician and asked if I could go in and get a test done for my kinda own peace of mind and they asked my age, they asked what the symptoms were, and they said, you know, "You're not at high risk, "so no, we're not gonna," like, "permit you to come in and get the test done." I have two other friends that think that they contracted the virus and also were not able to get tested. So I feel like at this point, you know, the numbers that we have just in our region are severely underrepresented just due to the fact that, you know, not only do we not have enough tests but they're not giving them to people that aren't high risk.
- Were you bothered that you couldn't get the test, just wanted to know?
- Yeah, I mean I think for myself it's like it wouldn't change anything, like it doesn't mean that I could've gotten any sort of medication or anything to help, but it would've just been nice to know that I had it because then I would've absolutely known that okay, I really need to make sure that this quarantine's on lockdown. Like I did go through the quarantine myself. I had to go to the store at some points to just get myself some medication, but I wore a mask and such, but I think it's just knowing if I got it because I think that then you hear rumors about people that have contracted like several strains or something and who really even knows if there are several strains. I think it's just for my own peace of mind. It would've been great to be able to find out.
- You wore a mask when you went to the pharmacy, I take it.
- I did yes, yes.
- Did you get any looks?
- Yeah. So I'm Asian-American and yeah, I certainly did, but I think when I had wore the mask out, which is probably, you know, three weeks ago now, far fewer people were wearing it as are now, at least in my realm, and so yeah, there were certainly people that I think very occasionally you could get like somebody that felt almost grateful that you were, and then everybody else, you know, you kinda get these kinda sideways glances and I'm not really sure if that was just the fact that I was wearing it or the fact that I'm Asian, like who really knows?
- Were you worried about it at all? I mean I guess--
- You know, personal--
- Obviously you were worried about being sick.
- Yeah, like I think I'm a little self-conscious about it just because, you know, it's different than most people, but I wasn't really relating it to my race. I think that, you know, my boyfriend actually was more concerned than I was about, like, if I were to go out and wear a mask and how people would take that, but yeah, I suppose personally speaking I think I was more just trying to be, you know, mindful of others and not, you know, spread the virus if I had it.
- Yeah, very important at this time, and unfortunately, you know, the concerns about, you know, people targeting Asian-Americans these days is something that we definitely need to be aware of. We shouldn't tolerate that at all. In exploring how to grapple with the bias and stigma being unleashed during this crisis we spoke with two people who had to deal with it head-on. Coming up we're going to be talking with New York Times bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo about efforts to aid Seattle area residents on how we might curb the rise of racial bias during this trying time. Up next, former Washington governor Gary Locke who had an inadvertent cameo in a Trump campaign ad. We'll talk to him about his reaction and how it might've inflamed preexisting stereotypes. The former governor was not at all happy about being involved in that ad, we talked about it. Well, Gary Locke, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
- My pleasure. Good to see you again.
- Good to see you, too. I'm sorry to hear that you actually have lost someone to COVID-19.
- Yeah, Steve Shulman, who I've known for a long, long time. In fact, he's kinda like the unofficial mayor of Mount Baker and Leschi community area. He had a grocery store there, he was just a great guy, and you know, it really just shows how this virus is affecting us on a more deeper personal level than just staying at home and the disruption and what impact it's having on businesses, it really brings it home, and then my first campaign treasurer when I ran for state legislature and who was my campaign treasurer for many years is in fact hospitalized with the virus. So we have to understand that everybody needs to take precautions and that our daily actions can really impact other people and we need to take the advice of staying at home as much as possible and keeping social distances and washing hands and so forth, we really need to take that to heart.
- Well, let's talk about this campaign ad that the Trump campaign released, and when did you first find out about that and when did you first see it?
- I found out about it Thursday evening, and people sent links to it and I looked it up, and wow, it was just so amazing. I mean it was an ad that's portraying vice president Biden as being too chummy with Chinese government officials, and it showed his contact with a variety of Chinese government officials, but they included my picture in that montage. I'm not, I may be Chinese-American but I'm not a Chinese government official, I'm an American official representing the United States government. It was, you know, disheartening, I was angry to see it, but not surprised to have that coming from the Trump campaign because it is... It's stereotyping Asian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, basically saying that we're all, at heart, foreigners regardless of whether we're first generation or 10th generation here in America, that we're somehow still foreigners and loyal to the governments of our ancestors.
- Now governor, you have, you know, your father fought in the Normandy invasion, you grew up in a very blue collar environment, and you know, the Seattle housing projects. You worked your way through the state legislature all the way up, you know, to the governor's mansion, so to speak. You know, you have this very quintessential American story, you know, in terms of underscoring like the American dream. What do you think it still means to you that even somebody of your stature still has to display and defend your Americanness even, you know in this day and age?
- Well, I think that, first of all, America's strength is its diversity of people. Except for the Native Americans, we're all foreigners, whether our ancestors came on the Mayflower, on a slave vessel from Africa, or on a steamer from China. America is a land of generation after generation of people from other countries coming here and who have prospered, and that dynamism, that diversity of people is our strength, and people who, whether it's Trump and his campaign and others who fail to recognize that dynamism, that strength of America, are really turning their back to the history and the essence of America and don't really understand what makes America truly great. So it's really sad that after all these decades we're still fighting the struggle, whether it's Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, people from other countries, other walks of life, that somehow we're still not viewed as American, that we have to keep proving ourselves. And maybe it's because of our physical characteristics, so we'll always be set apart from Caucasians, and therefore we're always viewed as non-Americans somehow.
- I found it interesting that a Trump spokesman, in talking about the ad after you released the statement condemning it, that his reaction was almost that it was intentional, and it seems to me that that seems to be part of the strategy is to send a message to their base and also at a time with this virus going on and the pandemic going on and the difficulties the administration seems to be having in trying to deal with all of this, I guess it might be a tactic of distraction.
- Well first of all, if you really want to win an election you want to show leadership and show that you're taking care of the crisis at hand. I think the best political ad would be to demonstrate and showcase the president's leadership on this. Unfortunately he was very late to attend to this crisis and so he's trying to deflect, and for a while they were trying to ban people from the CDC and people responding to the crisis from going on the news shows, and now retweeting calls for the firing of Dr Fauci. But you know, if you really want to win an election you want to show that you're a real, firm leader and calming the public, giving them frank messages and information, and showing that you're fully attended to this crisis at hand. To do that you need to unite people, bring everyone of the country, of all stripes and colors and perspectives, together. I mean we need to be combating this virus and saving lives, not dividing people, not engaging in stereotypes or xenophobia, but that seems to be a tactic, and the spokesperson for the campaign said, well, they used the picture of me to really show that this occurred in China because it had American and Chinese flags. Well, there's nothing to say when this happened or where it was. It could've been at a United States, US-China Business Council meeting in Washington DC, because in those settings they have both the Chinese and the American flag. It could've been at an event by the National Committee on US-China Relations out of New York City where when they have events they have both the Chinese and the American flag. So their excuse is pretty lame that somehow having a picture of me demonstrated that these meetings took place in China.
- There've been a number of incidents that have been racially motivated, violent attacks against Asians. In fact, I have some friends that are very afraid right now about going out, going to the grocery store or going to the pharmacy, they are on the defensive. What do you say to those folks out there that suddenly find, I mean do you feel like that at all?
- Well, I've certainly, well... When the virus first caught the attention of the American people and I was in an airport coming from California, and because I have allergies I was coughing. Oh, my gosh, the response by people, I mean like I was a piranha and people wanted to stay away from me as much as possible, and people who were wearing masks, Asian-Americans who were wearing masks, which is very typical throughout many parts of Asia if they're trying to avoid the effects of pollution or the flu or colds and things like that. Other people of our society were just avoiding all of those individuals, and so yeah, there's been a lot of verbal abuse and physical attacks against Asian-Americans and it's basically out of fear and ignorance, and hopefully now that more people of America are wearing masks and we're all being encouraged to wear a mask there'll be greater understanding. But we should not be blaming people of one ethnic group for this virus. This is a pandemic that is now affecting all of the world with many of the sources of the disease coming from Europe, and maybe some of those Europeans may have traveled to Asia or went to Singapore and attended a conference and so forth, and so we need to be uniting together, the scientists and the researchers and the public health officials, to come up with a cure for this, a vaccine for this as quickly as possible.
- I was just gonna say as a fellow Asian-American here in the United States during this virus and this outbreak, I'm wondering what you're telling, like, your family and friends about how they can protect themselves during this time.
- Well, obviously don't be afraid of who we are as a people, as an ethnic group. We as individuals did not cause this, and we'll find out sooner or later just exactly how the virus was transmitted from animals to humans. In the meantime stay home as much as possible, constantly wash those hands and disinfect surfaces. We know how disruptive this is to businesses and so many companies have closed down, some of them permanently unfortunately, and a lot of people have been laid off. We'd like to get back to a normal life, get back to school and work and socialize with friends and family, but for now for everyone's sake we need to keep heeding the advice of health professionals and our governors and our mayors.
- Very quickly, we only have a couple of minutes left here, the census, as commerce secretary your department was in charge of the census. How crucial is the census in 2020, and with all of these other things going on right now it seems like are we gonna be able to get a real good read on America?
- If nothing else, the census, the 2020 census is more critical than ever before. First of all, billions and billions of dollars come to our state every single year based on the latest census, or the last census, and so if we care about getting our fair share of federal dollars for human services, for programs for the elderly, nutrition programs, for public health, emergency preparedness, transportation, and other things, then we need to be counted because that money, if it doesn't come to us it will go to another state and another community, and certainly as this pandemic, this coronavirus has demonstrated, we cannot be too prepared in terms of our public health systems and our emergency management programs, which get dollars based on the census. So having an accurate count means that we get our fair share of federal dollars, and then the state distributes money as well based on the census. The second reason is political empowerment. There are only so many seats in the United States Congress. 435 seats in the United States Congress, and as the population grows in certain parts of the country and in other parts it may go down or is stagnant, then those seats are reallocated. The census is also used in divvying up and drawing the boundaries for the 49 legislative districts in our state legislature, and certainly here in the Puget Sound region as we are growing in population. So in fast-growing communities, if you want strong political representation and want your voices heard in Olympia, you need to be counted, because if you wanna make sure that Olympia, or even Washington DC, is addressing the issues that you care about, whether it's safety, whether it's jobs, whether it's the environment, climate change, education, you need to be counted. And now that we're staying at home this is a good time to respond to the census. You can do it online, you can do it by telephone. We don't want to have people coming to our doors asking the census questions given the coronavirus. You know, the census may not even be able to hire enough people to go door-to-door, and that's why it's so important that we respond on our own. The information is safe, secure, it's private, but it's so important for our future political empowerment and dollars to take care of the needs of our communities.
- We're back with more Life on the Margins. I'm Marcus Harrison Green. One thing we know for sure as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic is that our economy's going to take a huge hit. Jobs have already been lost, and for artists, we count on people to go to galleries, concert, and other performances. There's no telling right now what the future holds. Seattle-based author Ijeoma Oluo, who wrote the New York Times bestseller 'So You Want to Talk About Race,' is involved in a relief effort to help the Seattle arts community. She joins us now. The first question I wanna start off with, of course, is how are you doing?
- I mean you know. I think we're doing as well as can be expected, it's a lot. I think we're all collectively grieving like life as we knew it, and I think especially, you know, as a black woman preemptively grieving, actively grieving the impact that everything's taking in the black community, which is very tough, and also trying to work and reassure children and--
- You know? Be in a family and it's one of those things where you wish, like, can't we just, can't everything else hold? Okay, we can go through this pandemic, can we also not go through anything else? And I think that we also know that, like, you know, as people of color that doesn't hold. As a woman that doesn't hold, you know? And I'm very aware of my blessings right now and also just tired and stressed.
- I do want to ask you, as you wrote about the disparities that are widening and the gaps that are widening, you know, they say that crisis ultimately just reveals, and it reveals more of who you are, you know, as an institution, as a country. What do you think this is bringing as far as, you know, maybe a collective epiphany to people who, you know, before used to, you know, kind of poo-pah, "Ah, there is no," you know, "such thing as white supremacy or racism," and so forth, and now it's like, "Oh, maybe she was right."
- Mm-hm. We're seeing what has been killing black people just amplified, right? You know, it's the same thing that's always killed black people and it is interesting to see people asking why. "Oh why is it killing more black people?" To me, I'm like wait, this is a question we still have to ask, you know? I mean it's pointing out, I think, how little care has been given to what's been happening to black people, and I would say also native people. Almost any kind of systemic issue we see facing the black community also faces the native community to an almost equal if not sometimes larger degree. It's just not talked about because numbers are so small due to how native people are counted in this country. And one of my colleagues was one of, you know, the earlier people to die in Detroit, just three years older than me. It was devastating to see this man who, you know, dedicated his whole life to helping black youth just go, you know? And that's happening everywhere, and I think like to see people talking about it, to see Fauci talking about it, and yet to also see how fundamental their misunderstanding is to what the issue is. You can't just say, "Oh, there's a problem. "It's hitting black people," and not talk about the obvious, which is the vast systemic racism that happens, you know? We have the surgeon general talking about, oh you know, "Stop drinking and smoking," as if that's what the problem is, right, and that's really heartbreaking to see. I think it's also highlighting... I was saying this the other day of how there's one universal, which is if we are lucky, all of us one day will be old and/or disabled, and we like to pretend like that was never coming for us until a disease that was, like, oh, if you have any disability whether you know it or not, if you're elderly it's gonna come for all of you at once, and then suddenly these issues that people who we've been ignoring, acting like it was never gonna impact us, even though it was always going to impact us, disabled communities have been asking for work accommodations for years. You know, elderly people have been asking for steady, you know, access to affordable healthcare, like you know, that's not just the bare minimum for years, you know? All these communities we've been ignoring and adding the, you know, insecurity. All of these homes that are barely taking care of our elders because it's all that will accept Medicaid, you know, or Medicare. We're now seeing what happens when, you know, these sorts of illnesses hit these communities, and now that it might impact us suddenly all these accommodations that we said we couldn't do, you know, no one could work from home because it would impact productivity. You know, we can have all these other things. We can have better healthcare, you know? We couldn't open up insurance signups, we couldn't have extended medical leave. All these things we said we couldn't do suddenly we can do, and the truth is it was always gonna come for us, and I think the hypocrisy and our hubris is showing in that. And I also think that the lack of respect and dignity that we afford laborers is definitely showing right now, how much we depend upon them, and yet how much we're willing to put them on the frontline with minimal security, minimal protections, and very minimal pay, and I really do hope that this leads to broader discussions about how we value. You know, and when we had this, you know, the Fight for $15 here years ago, so many people saying, "Oh, so you mean someone working at a fast food restaurant "should be making as much as someone," you know, "with a bachelor's?" Yes, absolutely yes, and I think we're seeing right now how much these services, how much our grocery clerks, how much our restaurant workers, how much our delivery drivers, how much they actually mean to us in our ability to live, and I swear to God, if we have another argument about raising minimum wage and about taking care of people who provide absolutely necessary services and keep calling it "unskilled labor," when I would love to see any of these, you know, commentators try to do that work for a day, I'm gonna scream because I think if anything this has definitely shown that these are absolutely essential jobs, not just for our comfort but for our actual ability to function and live.
- I mean on that note with all of this mandated sequestering, do you think that there's any people are going to be more thoughtful about the injustices, and you know, racial inequities that happen in this country?
- You know, what scared me when this virus came when they were talking about preexisting conditions was thinking about how almost every black person in my life has avoided the doctor like the plage because of A, how expensive it is, and B, how they're treated when they go in, and I immediately knew like we don't know what our preexisting conditions are, and that's what we're seeing right now. You know, people who had no idea they had diabetes, all these things they didn't know they had because of the systemic racism is impacting them, and so I think that it may. I think if there is going to be a change, I have very little hope it's going to be a systemic change. We have to take action. We have to find a way to get people to listen to us because it is coming for all of us, no one is exempt.
- We know this is a time of sequestering and isolation for many folks. Potentially you have an opportunity where people who didn't, you know, grapple with, you know, these conversations and analysis on, you know, racial inequities and injustice do have some time now to hopefully sit down and read some of your books, read some of Professor Ibram X Kendi's books and so forth. Then, you know, on the other hand on the more cynical side, you know, it is true that, you know, hate groups and white national groups were increasing pre-crisis, and those people who are attracted to those type of groups are usually those who already feel some sense of isolation and alienation, and you know, already are social distanced in many ways. I mean for you, how can we make sure that, you know, the latter group doesn't, you know, explode and fester and isn't cultivated, if you will, during this, you know, time period where we're, you know, all kind of just, you know, trying to make due with what we have right now?
- I think that whiteness spending its time being like, "Oh okay, we're going to obsess about "every little bit of gain that we're getting." I think that has taken a little bit of a pause, which is good. I would love to see more solidarity around how this is impacting communities of color. I would like all of us to have conversations about, you know, the hate crimes against Asian-Americans and discrimination against Asian-Americans. I'd love for all of us to stand up together against that. I would love for all of us to start shouting about the ways in which black and brown communities are being disproportionately impacted by this outbreak, talk about what led up to it, talk about the way that society at large has contributed to this problem, because what I've noticed in studying these fringe groups, they have existed for a very, very long time, right? So when we look at, right now here in the west, many of our western fringe groups, or militias, or white supremacist groups, are offshoots of groups that have been operating since the 1800s. Even looking at like the Bundy brothers. The Bundy family's ancestors were involved in serious massacres all in the name of, you know, protecting themselves and their faith, right? These are long histories here in the west, long tradition of violent white supremacy and militia work. My concern is when they're legitimized in the broader public and are treated as a viable outlet for people who are feeling lonely and disaffected right now for especially younger white men. So what I would love to see right now is for people to be reaching out to each other and to be collectively talking about building together and building community, because when you give people who are maybe on the verge a space where their identity can lie in something that is productive instead of destructive, I think it can decrease the amount of pull that some of these other groups have. When we talk about how people can come together to support communities of color and be a part of that in a productive way I think that it decreases the pull of people who felt like they've been cut out of that. When we can talk about the similarities in how this is impacting all of us, I think we could talk about that. You know, the Bundy brothers are still putting together marches right now. They'd like to think this is, you know, that social distancing was impacting their rights. If we can talk about social distancing as being part of a community and what we're doing for a community and reach out to people online, build a space that has welcoming built into it, I think that that can help people who've become lonely and desperate from maybe landing in these spots. I really do believe that collectively, you know, one of the dangerous things that happened with the election in 2016 and the years leading up to it was we allowed this kind of hatred that used to live in a corner, that used to, you know, kind of hide to become legitimized, and I think we have a real opportunity right now when we're facing real crisis to decide what is legitimate and what's not, and decide that that's not legitimate in this space and decide what we're going to celebrate, and I think that that can create a viable alternative and I hope that we do. And I really do hope we reach out to each other. I know a lot of us talk about our families, talk about people we have. We need to know who our neighbors are. We need to be reaching out to our neighbors. And you know, you can't knock on their door right now and say, "How are you doing?" But you can leave a note, you can call. We should know who our neighbors are in times like this because you don't know who's going to need you, and when people can't immediately reach out, you know, it's important to be proactive, and so I think that that's the best thing that we can do right now and really build it as part of a collective mission as part of something positive and great. I would love to see more, "Yay, I am a part of a solution. "I am a part of protecting my elders, "protecting my community," you know, protecting society by staying home, and you know, setting up my Zoom meetings instead of in-person meetings than what I often see, which are people yelling at other people and saying, "Why were you outside? "Why were you doing this?" Because they're outside because they want to be a part of something, so give them. You're not inviting someone to be a part of something when you're yelling at them and saying, "Stay home," you know? You're inviting them to be a part of something when you say, "Come join us," in this, you know, responsible, loving gesture as part of community. Be a part of our community that is looking out for each other, and I think that that's probably the best option we have.
- Ijeoma, I did just wanna ask you, number one, wanted to congratulate you on your engagement to your partner. I know it's been a while. You know, he's a very lucky human. I'm not hating too much.
- Thank you, thank you.
- And I know you have two very extraordinary young men who you're raising as well. What is giving you, you know, I shouldn't say hope now, but what is giving you, you know, some distraction from the doldrums of the everyday? What's the line you just sort of get up every day and not focus on, you know, all the news, the environment of news around the pandemic and so forth?
- Yeah, I would say first and foremost I had to set rules for my life because I was obsessing at first, right, and I would get ready to go to bed, look at the news, and then I couldn't go to sleep and I was just up, like you know. So I had to set rules of like if it's a couple hours before bed I'm not looking at anything, right? I am either, at least three hours before bedtime, focused just on myself or my family. Because there's four people in this house, none of us are leaving, and looking at, you know, we've built ways to be considerate of each other, right? My stinky kids have to shower a little more because we're all in the house, you know? We are trying to figure out noise and space and how to create space for each other when we wanna come together, right? Because teenagers love to hide in their room and don't realize at times they actually need to feel like they're a part of a family and part of a group. Like they think they're fine sitting in, you know, the room with the lights off watching videos, and they're not. So giving them the space they need, but then also like we bought a bunch of board games. Saying, "Now is the time to come out. "You may think you're too old for Scrabble. "You're not too old for Scrabble. "You're gonna sit and you're gonna play with us," you know? And they love it and... It's been fun to see how much I really like the people I live with, right? They're my family and we know we love them, right? Like I know I love my sons, I know I love my partner, but realizing that like my 12-year-old can make me laugh and can bring me real joy, and my 18-year-old has some really insightful ideas about politics, you know, and realizing that I actually enjoy them and I'm not suffering them. I don't have to just care for them but they're getting me through. They are making this. They're reminding me that life is still here. It's really important. And try to find those reminders that life is still here, that you're still here. It could be very easy to feel like it's coming for you, everything is ending, everything is death, everything is dreary. Look for the reminders that we're still here, because it's still an amazing gift. It's an even more amazing gift in what we're facing right now.
- All right, before we wrap things up some thoughts of what we heard today from our guests. I think some of my takeaways are just that, you know, it doesn't matter where the virus starts in the world or what race you associate it as, but it affects all of us. I mean we're all human, and we're all in this together, and not thinking about like how this is like a racial breakdown, you know, bringing that into our worlds, but like recognizing that we're all in it together and how we deal with it collectively is what's going to save lives and keep us safe and healthy, and then obviously thinking about all of the underrepresented communities of color and arts organizations that are affected and what we can do in Seattle and beyond to kind of help these organizations and people that are in, you know, great need of not only during this time, but even in our normal, everyday life, you know, of being able to be valued, and not only monetarily, but collectively through our community and recognizing like how all of this affects all of us.
- Well, I think one thing that we're really gonna have to grapple with is the disparities. We've known the disparities are there, but particularly in the communities of color, and I think it's being brought home even stronger now because we know so many folks in the African-American community, as well as Latino community are being hit hard by the virus, but it also reflects the fact that there are many other issues related. Not just the virus, but you know, within the different communities, diabetes to high blood pressure. Those types of things that need to be addressed because in this time with the virus it just makes them that much more susceptible to the virus and to possible death, so it's a deep concern there, no doubt about it.
- Yeah, which is why I think that we need to make sure that we give constant, regular attention to that. I think, you know, even seeing some of the coverage on the disparities that are going on in the African-American and Latino community, a lot of news sites have been treating these sort of like a, you know, two-day story here and then, you know, moving onto the next thing, and I think we need to make sure that there is constant, you know, focus and attention on these things so that we can actually address them, and so that, you know, these gaps, whether they be socioeconomic or racial, that we can hopefully, you know, close them when, you know, this whole thing is over, whenever that might be.
- Sure, and yeah, and recognizing the importance of like, again, universal healthcare or being able to provide those services for people that, you know, don't have them, don't have access.
- So it was telling to me with Gary Locke talking about the census that how important it is going to be because it means so much to the states, but also from a monetary standpoint obviously because the amount of federal funding you get, but also those other things such as public health and all of those related areas. The census is just critically important in order for Washington State to get its fair share of political power. Last time around we got another congressional seat and I suppose there might be an opportunity for us to get another one this time around as well. Okay, did you all fill out your census forms?
- I did as well. I'm happy. My good citizens taking care of that, but you know. And I think he's right. During this time when we're all hunkered down there's really no reason why we can't fill that out and get it sent in, but it's crucial, and I think maybe we haven't thought about that as much as we need to because the census is going to be, the outcome of that could be so important.
- Yeah, I mean I will say its importance is becoming, I think, more and more concrete to people, especially as we talk about public health and the need to allocate public health resources equitably. Yeah, I live in, you know, South Seattle where we have, you know, very few medical resources, very few medical clinics. You know, one of the reasons for that is that, you know, the census, you know, does play a huge role in where certain resources, including medical resources, are deployed. So you know, this is definitely not the time to poo-pah filling out the census.
- Right, and also just remember that the census isn't permitted to share any of that personal information with any other government entity, so your information will remain private, so don't worry about if you don't have a green card, or you know, citizenship, you know, being fearful that that's gonna come back to you. That will not happen.
- We want to encourage all of you, since we have time and people are hunkered down, to get a good book and the one you want to get is Ijeoma Oluo's bestselling book, 'So You Want to Talk About Race.' It is a good time to pick up that book and give it a read, and it's a very, very important read.
- Yes, and also just to let everybody know that we are practicing social distancing. So we have recorded-- We did record this podcast via Zoom and some other, you know, leveraged some other technology to do so. So just letting everybody know that we are safe.
- We've been jumping through hoops.
- Yes, and hurdles.
- Try to get that done, yeah. A lot of hurdles in the news, so bear with us, folks.
- It's been an adventure. And actually it's been a little bit fun because you get the chance to learn some new things.
- That's right, that's right. Well, this is Life on the Margins. It's a co-production of the South Seattle Emerald and Town Hall Seattle, I'm Jini Palmer.
- I'm Marcus Harrison Green.
- And I'm Enrique Cerna. Stay safe, be well, we'll talk more later.
♪ I was born in the Central District ♪ ♪ Raised in the south bend ♪ ♪ I'm a homegrown kid yep ♪ ♪ 206 living ♪ ♪ We used to play Flyers up ♪ ♪ When I lived up on Union ♪ ♪ Pushing out towards us ♪ ♪ And eventually the Kenyans ♪ ♪ Didn't have much ♪ ♪ But thankful for all we was given ♪ ♪ It was our hood ♪ ♪ Until weed and seed crept in ♪ ♪ And the blacks went naked ♪ ♪ And gentrification came ♪ ♪ Garfield Franklin ♪ ♪ Robberies ain't even the same ♪ ♪ Mark my words ♪ ♪ It gon be white boys all on the team ♪ ♪ I don't reminisce when I drive through this hood ♪ ♪ I feel pain ♪ ♪ I ain't proud of these new developments ♪