Flashback Friday: White People Ruin Everything (with W. Kamau Bell)
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Listen again as Hoja, Kiki, and Mohanad have a candid conversation about race, racism, and “wokeness” with comedian and host of CNN’s United Shades of America, W. Kamau Bell. They talk about Kamau’s experience meeting the KKK, his Emmy-nominated documentary about Bill Cosby, and getting white people to “do the work.” Plus, Hoja steals a cat, Kiki feuds with a delivery driver, and Mohanad demands an apology from his super on this week’s Sorry Not Sorry.
Please note, I’m Sorry contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.
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Kamau Bell, Mohanad Elshieky, Kiki Monique, Hoja Lopez
Hoja Lopez 00:00
IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt is another amazing podcast from Lemonada Media, the network that makes this show. Host and former White House senior advisor for COVID response, Andy Slavitt is here to help you make sense of tough issues. From COVID to America’s gun crisis, to climate change, abortion rights and beyond. Andy breaks down the most complex news stories of today in a way that’s easy to understand and gives you the information you need to keep you and your family safe. Out IN THE BUBBLE, they believe the most comforting thing for all of us is knowing what and what not to worry about in the bubble has new episodes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, wherever you get your podcasts.
Kiki Monique 00:48
I’m Kiki Monique. And this is I’M SORRY, the unapologetic show about apologies. And this week, I learned that referring to a long sandwich as a hoagie outside of the East Coast is a no no.
Mohanad Elshieky 01:02
That is so funny. And I am one of the Chafee and this week. I’m in New York City and it feels illegally hot. It should be less than this. I don’t like it. The mayor needs to do something about it.
Hoja Lopez 01:14
Call him up and my name is Hoja Lopez in this week, I am so honored so excited because we have an incredible guest joining us. He is a comedian and the host of CNN’s United Shades of America. He’s also the co-author of a new book called do the work, on anti-racist activity book and also fellow Rage Against the Machine fan. Please everyone welcome W. Kamau Bell, thank you so much for being here.
Kamau Bell 01:41
Can we just talking about Rage Against the Machine for an hour? That would be good.
Hoja Lopez 01:46
I know, um, somebody got hurt at a concert last night. So we got to watch out for one of the rage concert. So I gotta go check on him. I don’t know any of them personally.
Kamau Bell 01:56
One of the members of the band or what?
Hoja Lopez 01:58
Yes, something happened. And they ended up somebody had to like, ended up doing the rest of the show on just one leg sitting on.
Kamau Bell 02:04
I’ll try not to look that up while we’re talking.
Hoja Lopez 02:07
Feel free, feel free.
Kamau Bell 02:12
It was non-breaking my members of the band. I hope it was not. I’m sorry for ranking members of raging machine my personal order of importance
Hoja Lopez 02:21
I do to my family members. So I would imagine you would do it to your favorite.
Kamau Bell 02:25
Musical family members.
Hoja Lopez 02:28
Well, Kamau, thank you so much for being here with us. You know, here on I’m sorry, we talk a lot about apologies. And we talk a lot about you know, I think the proverbial sort of like vindication arc. And that’s not always something that is easy to talk about for everyone. Because I think we love to see right now we’re in a kind of punishment era. And some of it you know, we’re navigating how to do that. So we’re so excited to have you on because I know, a lot of the work you do is really surrounding, you know, personal accountability, kind of across a ton of different areas.
Kiki Monique 03:05
I mean, look, I’ll be honest, I want to know of you are still optimistic, to be honest, you, like, have been doing this work. And I think like when, at least for me when 2020 came around, because that’s when I really jumped on social media like I was, I would not consider myself an activist and you even talk about in your show United shades of America how like CRT, none of us knew what CRT was like, we’re all new to this. And so I think there was a moment, you know, you even talked about you were everybody’s Black friend in that moment. And I felt that way too, like all the sudden. And now here we are in 2022. And I don’t I’m trying to hold optimism and I look to people like you I want to know, are you still optimistic? Because I hope so.
Kamau Bell 03:49
So, I think I have to take always take a which is I was not a kid who was a fan of history. So I say that to show that. Like I actually care about history now. And I think I was not a fan history, because the way they taught history to me when I was a kid. But like I sort of have to look at like, you know, like even like sometimes like, am I having a worse day than Harriet Tubman. Just the idea of like, which doesn’t mean we can’t have hard days and can’t complain and can’t I think for me, I try to keep it in my inner circle. I’m not going to go on Twitter and be like, Hey, everybody, I’m having a bad day. Emmy winner, nominated comedian, famous person. But I do think that like, we are allowed to feel things. But I think for those of us in positions of privilege, which I would define myself as I have to also keep it in perspective, especially being a black person in the history of this country. You know, it might get worse for Black people. But it’s like generally it gets better as things go on over the arc of history, but it does not get better enough for each of us individually.
Kiki Monique 04:44
And I think like the hardest part, you know, is like, yes, things were really really terrible than but you kind of were fully aware of the terrible people versus the not terrible people. And now we’re in this place where there are people who aren’t like So terrible but they’re just unwilling to hear and listen. And I think that is like the craziest part. And then we talk a lot about this woke, right we’re gonna get into this woke and how woke has become the worst word ever like let’s be real like white people ruin woke and ruined it for all of us. And you know, how do we navigate that when there’s just like this level of like we can’t even talk to each other because we just aren’t even hearing each other anymore.
Kamau Bell 05:27
I mean, I think one of the ways we navigate that is by calling it out when it’s wrong. I think for me I ignored woke the demonization of well, because I thought it was ridiculous. And I probably ignored it for too long because I was like, that’s not a thing. Like that’s like, that’d be like if they suddenly said it’s lit mit, critical race theory, like it just felt like that’s not a thing. That’s ridiculous, who’s gonna believe that but I think we have to understand that like, when certain forces in this country on the right generally want to accrue power, one of the ways they do it is by demonizing black people. And whether that’s demonizing black people as we’re all criminals, or demonizing the black intellectuals like they’re all secret bla bla bla. Yeah, words that don’t mean that what you think they mean bla bla bla. So that’s one of the ways in which they accrue power. So whenever we see that, we have to those of us again, who are in positions of privilege have to stand up Kimberly Crenshaw, who is one of the pioneering scholars of critical race theory, like I was lucky enough to get on a Zoom call with her. And she was like, no, this is bad. And so when I heard from her, I was like, Oh, I thought this is ridiculous. And she’s like, none of this is they’re coming for us. They’re coming for black academics as a way to pull us up to pull what we do out of the schools. And so and it’s, and we saw it trickle all the way down to elementary school. So I think we just have to, like, hear the alarm sooner, I think is what we have to do. And so to answer your earlier question, Am I an optimist, I’m not a pessimist, I couldn’t be a pessimist. I really think being Black and a pessimist would be a real prescription for not ever getting out of the bed. So I think that like I just can’t like, so I do have this sort of like, I wish we could all just be friends. I’m always sort of trying to aspire to that. But I have three kids, so I can’t be a pessimist for them. But I’m absolutely clear that like none of this works unless we do the work.
Mohanad Elshieky 07:08
Yeah. And I think to your point also, I feel like what’s hard about this is that you know that those people won’t want you to stop being optimistic. Like the idea like you, you given up on like becoming like basically a nihilist about everything around you is exactly what they want is that means that you’re going to stop fighting. Activism is just you like, well, activism is useless. I’m going to stop doing that. So I feel like that aligns with their goals as well. And you don’t want to like really fall into that trap. Because like what you said, like using the word walk as like demonizing it and then like critical race theory and using these like, boogeyman words and they lose their meaning to a point where you feel so hopeless when you’re like, Well, you just kind of counterpart and play the game. Like it has no rules because that’s how they’re playing it.
Kiki Monique 07:57
So like one of the things that you know, is brought up you bring this up in your series is like, you know, Ibram X. Kendi this line about like, you can’t be, you can’t be not racist. You’re either racist or you’re anti-racist, right. And I think about this a lot when we talk about this demonization of woke because I feel like there’s White people that have now like, come so far. It’s gone way too far. Like I was reading the story. I don’t know if you read this story the other day about Oberlin College, there was a story about how there was this 137 year old bakery. And I guess there were three students who had gone there, and they had actually shoplifted but the school was like, no, you racially profiled these kids. So they boycotted this bakery. And basically, like destroyed this bakery. Come to find out the kids, you know, pled guilty, they did end up you know, they did shoplift. And so the owner and his son were branded as racist. And the owner actually had like, marched with Martin Luther King, right? And this is like a 97 year old man. Both the father and the son have died and the one of the professors who was sort of leading the charge they ended up suing the school suing this you know, the professor for like this defamation they want like $40 million to school refuses to pay, the professor has now gone on to like some cushy job, I think somewhere in Georgia, and it’s totally fine. But this 137 year old Bakery has now been destroyed. This family who actually was probably one of the anti-racist people back in the day, like one of the few allies we had kind of went to the grave, you know, people thinking they’re a racist. You know, like, how do we get back to a place where White people feel like they don’t have to do all the things because I understand they want to be anti-racist, but now I feel like they are harming everything because they want so badly to be anti-racist. They’re not paying attention.
Kamau Bell 10:02
Well, I think the big part of that I don’t know that story. And I’m like, I need to know that story. You know, I think a big part of this is about sort of the idea of like, it’s not enough to read the Ibram X. Kendi quote, read the whole book. Look, I think some people have Instagram med the quote, and that’s the full extent of their knowledge of how it is to be in what it is to be an anti-racist when you actually like, that’s actually a part of the that’s, that’s probably the intro to the book. It’s not even like, not even like the, the, you know, it’s not even like the real analysis. And so, for me, the problem with this is like, I remember this was during the pandemic one day, but everybody puts people on Instagram and turn their squares Black. Yeah. And it was like, it was apparently for Black Lives Matter, or racial justice, or whatever. And I remember seeing it and being like, Oh, my God, I missed. nobody emailed me about this. I’m supposed to know these things. So I just turned my square Black, where do I get a Black square from, do I make a Black square? And I did, I was like, slow down. And I texted, Alicia Garza, who’s one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter. She’s in a place called Black futures project. And I was like, What is this thing? I didn’t know what he told me about it. She’s like, I have no idea either. And so for me that and it became clear later that some random White person had dirt in a square Black and other random white people saw it, and then it just sort of, and nobody said, what does this mean? And I feel like that’s the question that has to be asked more and more, as you get excited, for like to, to show off your anti-racism. It’s like, what are you doing it for? And have you actually done the work to know exactly what you’re doing? So, you know, like, there’s all these things where it’s like, it may be that like, it is entirely possible. And I don’t know the story, I wanted to clear with that, that those kids were racially profiled, and they shoplifted. Those two things can exist in one years. And it’s entirely possible that white kids have shoplift from there and haven’t been caught because they haven’t been racially profiled. So but that’s a real nuanced discussion. So I again, I don’t know the story. But I know those things happen all the time. And I think we want to go; we want to call balls and strikes and good guys and bad guys. And it’s like, America has baked this so much into the cake of America that you can’t separate it unless you actually look at the whole thing.
Mohanad Elshieky 12:13
Exactly. It’s all about nuance. I mean, like, I want to think about why people like this, I think about Portland, Oregon, because I lived there for few years. And it’s always felt like a bit like, like performative in a way where you find racism and stuff that are not racist. And you speak up about that, and then the real racism is laying on the sides. And you’re like, well, that’s I’m not gonna, this is too hard to look at. So I’m just going to avoid that. And it’s so funny, just like seeing like, sometimes. I remember, like I had, I had a coworker in the past who came up to me when the whole thing was happening with the dreamers, you know, when they were like, you know, they’ve lost rights. And they were like, some of them were like, being, like, threatened and like to be deported back to countries that you’ve never lived in. And all of that, and I remember I had one of my coworkers approached me, and he was like, I hope that you’re okay. Like, is this like, how, like, is there anything I can do for you? And I was just like, what are you talking about? I like literally, they’re like, oh, like, is it okay, if I give you a hug? And I was like, I just need you to explain to me, have you done any research? I am 31 years old. And I’m from Libya, and I’ve been here for seven years. What are we even talking about?
Kamau Bell 13:30
I don’t want you to be deported back to a country in South America you don’t know. None of that is.
Mohanad Elshieky 13:36
Yeah, I was like, my, man, I appreciate the sentiment maybe let’s do some reading and do a research before we just even. And I was like also do not give me a hug. Like we don’t even handshake.
Hoja Lopez 13:51
Oh, man, there is this sort of like misguiding this and this feeling of like, sort of like a first step and wanting to help but not really knowing how to do it and then putting your foot in your mouth and my cousin Daniella. She’s a dreamer. And she moved to New York and is a literal, like, he just got a master’s degree in microbiology and still doesn’t have her like, full path to citizenship clear. But the questions that this woman gets from people all around her are completely delusional. I won’t point she had a coworker asked her like when she got here on a boat, like because he assumed that she had somehow gotten herself on some kind of Greek Cuba boat where she just arrived at the shores of like Miami Beach, just like with a vest just cackling and cold. And she’s like, no, my parents brought me here on American Airlines when I was 2 years old. I’m just hanging out. I like Olivia Rodrigo, like everybody else. Like it’s just the vision of how of what race actually looks like, or immigration or anything like that it’s so much more normal I think than these like extreme, you know, stories.
Mohanad Elshieky 15:08
Hoja Lopez 15:11
I could have, I would have paid money to watch your faces this man tried to hug you. Hard to catch.
Mohanad Elshieky 15:41
Also, I also wanted to ask about, you know, the book. So obviously, when you write something, obviously you want everyone to read it, but at the same time, who are you hoping this like with, will actually read this and benefit from this? Because I feel like for some people, people are going to be like, oh, this is not for me, because I’ve done the work. I’m a good person. So this is for other people. But when you think about it, who do you think this is for?
Kamau Bell 16:11
First of all, if you actually say it’s not for me, because I’ve done the work, and I’m a good person then it’s 100% free. But he was in that kind of ego statement is not, has not probably hasn’t done the work. And is probably not as good as they think we are. So I mean, we want to be clear about this, like this book is for White people. You know, I think with the me and Kate, who’s a white person, so I can say that. My co-author who’s written these books, American women A to Z, this whole series of books, which is about trying to get history into the hands of like kids into adults who think they don’t need it as they read it to their kids going, Oh, I didn’t know about that is to sort of make this stuff more accessible. And when we sat down and wrote it, it was right after shortly after George Floyd was killed was murdered by the cops in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor’s murdered by those cops. So I mean, it’s not legally murdered, but I would. That’s my opinion. Ahmaud Arbery being chased by White guys acting like police officers on armed militia and getting killed as he’s going jogging and all these in Rashard Brooks and all these other things that happened that summer that we were sort of like, and we saw a lot of these sort of the Black square level of White person, like, I’m going to do that, or the person who’s like, I’m going to put up this link on my Instagram and done for the done for this done for the racism reckoning. And, and also, we saw all those like Ibram X. Kendi, our friend […] And like, all these books shoot up to the top of the bestseller list, which are most of them are great books, and many of them are my friends of ours. But we’re like, are you for it? And what are you going to read those books? Are you just going to put them in the back of your like, Zoom screen? And two, once you read them? What do you do next. And so this book, and a lot of those books are sort of like not the Kendi and […] are great, but a lot of the books are sort of writing about the racism out there. And we wanted to create a book that was writing about the racism in here, and specifically for white people who even want to do something but just don’t literally don’t know what to do. And we were trying to write something that was a step by step sort of, like, personal like, sort of like, like doing a personal excavation of yourself and going what’s in here, and then leading you towards literally listing out different things, you can do things you can support ways in which you can go back to support, there’s like, there’s like donation bingo in there to sort of show equate who you should be supported. And on top of that, we understand me and Kate, because we’re both comedians, you know, in one way or another, that we, if we make it fun, more people will engage with it. And so our motto the whole time was funny, but not fucking around. They didn’t allow us to put that on the book. But that is the book. And because and literally, as I talked about, Elisa Garza Again, our goal was like, we want this to be so they’re a White person, like my White mother in law, who’s who went from like, sort of no activism to sewing a pussy hat, would read this and get a lot out of it, and really enjoy it and do it with their friends and do with her friend group. And our badass activist friends from Oakland would read this and be like, this isn’t for me, but you do, but you’re doing the damn thing like this is this actually is worthy. Because I get it’s easy to condescend to the idea. So we really always held it against and Kate’s also an activist? How can we make sure that if an activist flips through this to actually feel like there’s good work in here.
Kiki Monique 19:23
That’s what I love so much about it. I mean, obviously, it’s an activity book. And I like activities, which also already makes it easy for me, but it’s just like, it gives you obviously things to do but like the knowledge that you’re learning, because again, one of the things you talk about in your series is just like about people have this vision of like CRT being like white, bad black, you know, victim and it’s like, no, it’s just like, you know, one of the lines you ask people is like, do you believe that our schools should teach an accurate and age appropriate history of the United States of America? And everybody should say yes to that. And that’s, you know, this workbook. Is that but beyond it’s like, not just you know, and like one of my favorite sections was this skin in the game, right? Because just like you talk about is like, okay, you’ve posted your Black square, now what? You know. And then it talks about, you know, these people who I had never heard of, and you learn about, like, you know, this white educator from Boston, who was like the only teacher willing to teach a black child and the one white person who was killed during the Black civil rights movement. I mean, I think White people would want to know that too, you know, and it’s really cool. And then it just gets to sections like, who’s your governor? I bet a million people couldn’t answer that question. You know, and so it’s like doing the work. It’s not about like, black, white, it’s about like, do you even know the country you’re living in? Do you know anything about it? Because I would really love to know more.
Kamau Bell 20:52
Yeah, I mean, that’s the whole point is it really and I think we understand that like, really breaking it up into like, even the ways you looked at books, some things are like little small, like fast facts section. And some things are like huge coloring pages. And some things are like, just filled with text and like it, but also you can color in the text. And so it’s like, we that was where we started, we were like, who will let us put stickers on a book. And workmen in the company who publish it. Who does these brain quest books for kids was like, we do stickers. I gotta put what I saw, I was gonna put one on my left, like, I got other people stickers on it. But like, yeah, it was really just about like, no bad ideas, and a brainstorm. And let’s put all these things on the table and see how we can actually like, and again, like, we really want the book to be something that is helpful and additive. And it’s also something that even as it were, we created it by the fact that all the illustrators and artists are black, indigenous Latinx. Asian there, there’s so that it was purposeful. It was purposeful, even so that like, it would be easy to make a book like this. And just hire the people, the usual suspects to do the graphics. And the use of ethics are White people, probably a White guy, he’s probably 68. And so we went out of our way to be like, no, and luckily workman because publishing is largely White, especially at the higher upper echelons. So we were like, we need a Black editor on this, and they got us a Black editor. And we also need to make sure that it’s clear that we want to employ, we don’t want to include the usual suspects.
Hoja Lopez 22:15
Yeah, which is another part of your book on how to navigate like being in a position of power and bringing people along. So it’s cool to see that you’re writing about it, you’re living it, and it has to happen every day. And that’s not always easy. So it’s cool to see it all kind of come together. And then it’s represented in this sort of like thing. That is this book. So one of the parts that I really enjoyed about it is the sort of we fucked up but we were not able to use fucked up. You can’t say bad words in this book. So it’s a is a hashtag and at a percentage symbol are regular. But it’s, it’s a lot about making mistakes and a lot about just how to take accountability. And one of my favorite parts of it is you guys sort of you enact, there’s this little yellow book and it kind of has this be and don’t be sides to it, which I think is such a good kind of set rule for how to even start to take accountability and how to even without even having to utter the words I’m sorry, or even know what you did wrong entirely. You give this sort of like a little bit of like a roadmap of like where to come from emotionally whenever somebody’s kind of told you that you’ve made a mistake and so part of the beside is the humble gracious curious, transparent, motivated, and then on the don’t be sad there’s defensive, dismissive, dramatic and defeatist. So there is something really I think lovely about breaking down apologies even to their most like core, like human thing. And so that was a really, really fun area to explore for me and in the book.
Kamau Bell 23:55
It’s funny, you mentioned that because I think I learned a lot about apologies, this is why I think you know, when people say it’s the golden age of television, or movies, it’s also the golden age of kid programming. So having kids now during the Golden Age of kids programming means that there’s a lot of programming that I’m taking them like, this is great. Like, I’m White. So like, there’s a Daniel Tiger song that has become one of the staples of our house that is saying, I’m sorry, is the first step then how can I help? And it was just like, is a kid song like it just like, like a 15 second kid song. It’s like, that’s the whole thing. And so I said, we say to our kids all the time, no, like, tell your sister, I’m sorry. And then ask her what you can do to make it better. So for us, that kind of all that sort of inspired the book, like how like getting people past the like, and also really owning the fact that like, if, if, if you’re going to be engaged in anti-racism work, and you’re new to it, then you’re gonna fuck up, just sort of get you past like, what if no, no, you are you’re 100% gonna screw up, you’re 100% gonna mess up. So just accept that and then get to the place of how do you come back from it? Because generally people understand if you mess up and then you come back from it and go, here’s what I’m prepared to do and also then you prove by your further behavior you’re gonna do it. They will actually like you more than if you never fucked up. Because if you never screw up then people get suspicious. They’re like, what do you hide?
Mohanad Elshieky 25:08
Yeah, they’re like, you’re so good at hiding things.
Kiki Monique 25:12
I’m so curious too, because you know, you talk about there’s like this intro section where you talk about, like, how do I identify and you talk about how your dad is Black and you have capital B, but lowercase lack, but your mom is Black all caps. And I was just curious, like, did you like have your mom like after this workbook? Did you have her help you with this? Do you ever review it afterwards just to be like, get her eyes on it. Because it seems like she formed a lot of this.
Kamau Bell 25:41
I couldn’t keep her eyes off of it. If stuff sitting around. She just picks it up.
Hoja Lopez 25:46
That’s definitely a mom. She’s just picking shit up at your house.
Kamau Bell 25:52
There’s no, and we’ll be very clear. Like, I made you. So all of this is mine.
Kiki Monique 25:57
Oh my god. And she like ever. Like, what does she think? I mean, I think a lot of people I think I was introduced to you as the guy who talked to the KKK. That was like the very first time I heard your name. Did you tell your mom before you were gonna do that, you were gonna do that? And was she like, hell no. Or like, go do that.
Kamau Bell 26:19
No, she was like, oh, Kamau, all right. Like, you know, she’s very, I mean, it’s her fault. I mean, I wouldn’t be so anti-racism if not for her. So it’s not like I’m doing I think she’d be more disturbed if I was going to go join the KKK. Which the membership is pretty low right now. So as my friend Dwayne Kennedy jokes, they are going to start accepting more diverse membership. That’s Dwayne Kennedy. But like, but yeah, but I think her thing, I mean, it was her, her my wife and my dad’s number one thing is about safety. And like, but also like, that we talked about, what do you why do you want to do this? What are you going to do? And also they understood that like, there’s this I’ve only learned this about myself through like, the last few years, but there’s something about me, that is attracted to the more fractured areas of conversation. And also knowing that the best conversations are the ones where you can be sort of the most wide open and free and also where you’re going to end up learning something. Like if you walk out and think, oh, I didn’t know that. And I think that so many people in this society promote not learning that I think it becomes my job to raise the stakes on what good conversation learning is. So you know, I mean, the funny thing is, I said to my best friend, after the Cosby series came out, like, well, I guess I’m not the Klan guy anymore.
Kiki Monique 27:41
We need to talk about that a little bit. But I do want to say that I love that line, I’m the same way I love. I’m drawn to the fracture conversations, like I remember, like, I go to Texas, I’ll find I love a dive bar, and I will find the weirdest dive bar on the outskirts. And I sometimes am a little bit scared. But I want to draw conversation to those people because I might have been the first Black person that they’ve even talked to in that capacity. And I want them to remember that moment, even if we like can get heated and have like real discussion. So I do love that. But like yeah, you know, the other thing that people know you and congratulations, because you were nominated. Is this Cosby Docu series, which I will offer my apology. I haven’t been able to watch it and I’m not saying it because I don’t want to watch it because I absolutely do.
Kamau Bell 28:28
I thought you’re gonna say after my apology, I tore you down on the internet for weeks. Like why would this Black man tear down another Black man? And then I realized that.
Kiki Monique 28:40
It’s exactly what the series is about, which is why you need to watch it. He was America’s dad it is so hard for me to, he did bad things, and I acknowledge that and I do not and I don’t say he didn’t. It’s so hard for me to just step into and like watch it though.
Kamau Bell 28:57
You don’t have to be clear for it. But you have to apologize for not watching. This is the good it’s a great era of television that everybody wants to turn on especially during these fractured times a Cosby documentary, sort of you run to some comfort another thing so. And also somebody who clearly understands and believes that he did bad things. You’re halfway there so I don’t need you know, I don’t it’s like I feel like this documentary was in many part made for the people who were sitting on the fall like on the sort of on the fence of that discussion. I will say this, I think if you press play on it just on the first episode, it is we do it in a way that you’re not expecting so that’s all I’ll say is that so I would encourage you to watch the first five minutes and just sort of go because I think that’s I’m aware of you when I made it like not you specifically, but I’m aware of the person who’s like even though I believe all this I don’t know that I want to watch it and so I was making it and that’s why I think it’s great to be a comedian because I was aware of like how do I make this actually be something that people will watch and will want to keep watching as opposed to like I mean, here’s the thing I saw the I watched Surviving R. Kelly by the great Dream Hampton like it was medicine. I was like this is not fun. This is not, but this is important. And this is, and I, you know, my youngest daughter was a baby at the time. So it’s sitting making her go to sleep. I’m watching on my phone like, I’m just like, I have to take this in. And so, and I think Dream Hampton had to make it that way, because she was like, this is an active crime scene, and I need your help in catching the criminal and she did that she changed justice. Yeah. And so for me, this was not the same level of intensity because it was not at that point. He was in prison. It was not an active crime scene. So there’s a little more of a..
Mohanad Elshieky 30:30
Kiki Monique 30:31
I think that’s why, yeah, it was so much easier for me to watch the R. Kelly because it was like he was like, I felt like he was under the jail at that point. To be fair, it took me a very long time to watch the Michael Jackson documentary too, but I will watch it before the Emmys so I promise you, I will watch it.
Kamau Bell 30:47
You had me on the podcast, you’ve done your work.
Mohanad Elshieky 31:11
You know, I like that you only talk about he said it’s like a nuanced conversation about like Bill Cosby, like we’re not really like, you know, saying look at the other side, let’s hear what they’re saying is more like, it’s hard. It’s hard conversation. It sucks. But no, like, you know, the name of the documentary is we need to talk about Cosby. And, and I think it’s very interesting when you say like nuance because like, I feel like, the trap that a lot of like the media falls in is that they think they’re being nuanced. While they’re just two sidings a problem. We’re talking about white supremacist; we’re talking about the Nazis. And we’re like, okay, but let’s see how the Nazis feel. I mean, like, this is not nuance. We don’t need to hear from them. Which is the opinion section thrive in that category. Because I not too long ago, I saw this like two days ago, it was about like, how Christians feel so bad now for being demonized. Because every time they take your rights away, you’re calling them extremist and fascists and how that is bad, like an interview about like, how they’re feeling? And I’m like, no, actually, it’s okay not to hear from them. That’s fine. That’s not nuanced. That’s just two sides. And this, we shouldn’t be reporting that way.
Kamau Bell 32:26
The thing right now, with the overturning of Roe versus Wade, there’s a lot of like, even though if you all the polls that are out there will say that Americans overall want to support a person’s right to have access to an abortion. And then but the media portrays is like on one side, people think this on the other side, people think this. And what that does, is it puts people who don’t have enough knowledge to go, that’s too complicated, because these are two sides, instead of going like the country overwhelmingly thinks this way. Here’s why it is affecting the country that they don’t have access to abortion. And this is why you should care. Like to me that and that’s sort of the work that I feel like I’m in right now, the side of like, this is why you like I just did this. I was invited to the thing, Dad’s for choice about getting dads to care about access to abortion. And it was just to me, it was just the idea of like, most of us middle aged dads are like, that’s I had my kids, I don’t have to worry about this, right? Yeah, I had my vasectomy […]. Yeah, but your whole life has happened before that. And at some point, birth control and or abortion has been part of that, whether you knew it or not.
Mohanad Elshieky 33:27
Exactly. There’s just like this one quote that I remember is from Sally Claire, and it’s about journalism. And it says if someone says it’s raining, and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both your job is to fucking window and find out what’s true. It is exactly, yeah, bring me the truth. I don’t care to hear about people who I know for a fact are very, very wrong.
Kamau Bell 33:53
I mean, I think with the show, the only reason that it’s worth putting some of those people on TV, sometimes it’s because some people believe they don’t exist. Like some people think that like those people don’t actually like so I’m not. So I like there’s the women who said that, like teachers shouldn’t say Nazis are bad teachers shouldn’t say slavery is bad. And you’re like, America needs to know these people are out here for those of us who think that like, 100%, so I think for me, but it’s not, but in no way did we go. Oh, I guess that is a good point. Like on the show, we don’t go.
Mohanad Elshieky 34:23
Because the thing you’re doing is at least you’re pushing back. You’re like you’re providing your side of it too and stuff. But I feel like when it’s usually presented in media, it’s just like, you hear them say the most terrible things ever. And you’re like, well, that’s their point of view. We’re not going to challenge it.
Kamau Bell 34:36
Yeah, yeah. I remember there’s a show. It’s not a very beloved show, but it was the newsroom is an Aaron Sorkin show. There was a, there’s a part in there where they talk about like, there’s any seat on YouTube. It’s like a clip where they talk about, there’s like the idea of two sides to a story and the anchor guys like there’s not two sides to every story. There’s one side sometimes, there’s eight sides. Sometimes there’s 20 sides to a story, there’s not always two sides to a story.
Hoja Lopez 35:03
There is something about the sort of a simplification of like fairness and the feeling of fairness. And I think they mentioned that in that that series, which I really love. Is it wrong to love it? Did you see, what’s going on?
Kamau Bell 35:18
I don’t think it’s wrong to love it. I think if you say it out loud people, you’ll get some pushback on the social media, not in the group chat in the social media, because there is Aaron Sorkin is a lot like so. So I think you can sort of feel when you can feel the Aaron Sorkin and it’s like, okay, we need to slow down a little bit. But there are lots of great parts of that series. So I when I say it, I feel like I have to go. I know not everybody wants to hear this, but..
Hoja Lopez 35:44
Got it. Oh, the disclaimer, which by the way, the irony of me asking Kamau Bell, whether or not it’s okay to love the newsroom, whatever you told me I was gonna abide by Kamau said it was okay. So I don’t know, I guess just take it up with him.
Kamau Bell 36:00
Just at me, whenever you think about the newsroom, send all your at’s to him.
Hoja Lopez 36:07
Absolutely. Well, and just to go back really to I think, like, when I think of your kind of body of work, and about how much like sort of, because I also knew about they knew you from the kk k conversation, and then also really loved politically reactive with Hari. And so I feel like, I’ve been sort of like, following these things. And you’ve just sort of, like, big so legit, like, so legit dude, like from this, like these incredible sort of like things that you did in your real life all the way to like CNN and this whole, entirely new platform of talking about anti-racism and the activity book, like, how do you? This is a very general question, but how do you feel like that is like, to be an expert in those things? I would just love to know, like, how you feel about that trajectory? You know?
Kamau Bell 37:00
I mean, I think first of all, I know, I know how you mean it, I just want to be clear, I don’t claim expert status, I claim active learning stat. And I just mean that like, in the most sort of like, I think one of the things I’ve tried to do with all this is keep my ego out of it. Because people will tell you like, you’re so smart and intelligent. And I am and I go wait, did you drop out of college? Yes, I did. So it doesn’t mean you have to be college educated to be smart. But you know, I’m saying like, but I do feel like I just want to keep my ego in check and know that most of my most valuable work is not what I’m saying. It’s what I’m pointing to. So like, in the episode of United Shades about what critical race theory, it was like, We got to get Kimberly Crenshaw on here. So it’s like, she’s not going to be on CNN most likely. Yeah. Because she’s not going to answer that call most likely. So we have to put her on here so that I can go, you know, the things I’m saying, actually listen to this person say, Listen. So I think that’s the most valuable and even in the book, me and Kate were very clear about like, we have to promote it, we have to make sure that it’s about here’s the things we’re quoting from, here’s the sources. There’s a bibliography in the back that Kate worked on. And also like hiring our friends below. So really making sure you the thing that I think that I’m proudest of, is really bringing other people along, and not sort of like being it’d be easy for me to go. Yes, me and even Mexican, you’re basically doing the same work, even though.
Kiki Monique 38:21
You’re a connector. I’m a connector, I love connectors, they’re the best.
Mohanad Elshieky 38:25
But you do such a great job of interviewing, like, because a lot of these conversations that you’re having and whatnot, like I look at them, and I’m like, I personally would be very frustrated right now. And I don’t know how to carry this conversation. I think it’s very interesting because like, recently, I’ve been touring with your friend Harry, and, you know, we’ve done political reactive together and all of that stuff. And I remember like, multiple times, we’re like, in these small cities, and you know, places I’ve never been to personally and talking and hearing from people who are saying their wildest shit. And he was very good at just like, keeping the conversation going. And just answering asking questions, and all of that. I was like, this is such a good skill to have. Because for me, I’m just like, sitting there. I’m just like, I just need this to stop right now. Like, I don’t I need this person to stop talking. But he was like, very good at just like, you know. And I was like, I’m sure also he has heard worse stuff. So his like, […]
Kamau Bell 39:25
I think first of all, people think that the smartest, most clever person when they come to try to get you like, oh, what about […], like, you understand I do this every day. So you think you’re really doing something now? And I’m like, oh, you’re doing? I’m like, oh, that’s move 15 you’re doing right there. It’s not like I’m aware of. For me, and it’s also the thing I’ve learned through United shades and really just through making the show, the more I’m quiet and let people talk, the more they will reveal themselves. So it’s much less of a debate show than people some people want it to be. I’m like, no, no, this is like get this person talking and step out of the way, which is also the same thing I did on Cosby, it’s like make the conversation start. And then once that person gets a good head of steam, then you just step out of the way.
Mohanad Elshieky 40:05
Because like they just keep digging that hole and then at some point you just keep digging in because you’re not asking them to stop and then eventually they’re like, well, that’s too deep.
Kamau Bell 40:16
Whatever those women believe the ones I talked on the streets of Arizona about like, whatever they believe about whether or not you should say Nazis are bad. That teacher shouldn’t say Nazis are bad or slavery, but they are definitely thinking about it differently right now, as it goes out into the stratosphere. And I’m sure some of their friends are like, I mean, yes, we all believe that. But we can’t say that out loud. You know what I mean? There is an effect that has had but again, the bigger one I want of people who are watching it, it’s like, this is our America right now.
Kiki Monique 40:45
So do the work in anti-racist activity book. Where can people, it’s out now? Where can people get it?
Kamau Bell 40:51
Yeah, the book is out now wherever books are sold, I would say go to your finest indie bookstores, support your local businesses and get do the work and get a pencil and get to work on dismantling White supremacy. It’s your job.
Kiki Monique 41:04
Thank you so much for joining us. This was like the most fun we’ve had all week, all month,
Kamau Bell 41:08
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Kiki Monique 41:10
Even though we’re talking about racism. It’s still fun on these parts I think, I appreciate that.
Kamau Bell 41:15
I’m happy that this was a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.
Mohanad Elshieky 41:23
Okay, well, now it’s time for my favorite segment. Sorry, not sorry, where every week we either demand that apology from someone or we asked for an apology. And I am going to start with Hoja.
Hoja Lopez 41:38
Stop. Okay, okay. This week, I would like to apologize to a neighbor because I don’t know which neighbor in particular, so I’ll just put it out there. But my main situation is that I’m slowly trying to like, maybe not steal a cat but have a co, you know, a co-existing parenthood with another neighbor that I don’t know with a street cat that has been coming up to our front porch. And I’ve just been leaving maybe like little bits of food and treats and maybe just kind of petting it for extended periods of time. And then I let it up the stairs and pet it for a little while longer. And I’m not going to slowly lure the cat and like keep the cat obviously, but I would like to apologize for you know, slowly just taking the love of this animal away from their parents essentially. So anyways, I’m a nightmare I’m out here doing it, stealing cat slowly with love. So I’d like to apologize to my unnamed neighbor for this.
Kiki Monique 42:45
And you’re not even a cat person so this must be a very special cat.
Hoja Lopez 42:49
I’ll send you pictures this cat is so cute you guys oh my god, very, very cute.
Kiki Monique 42:55
I have a cute porch cat that comes up to my window and I want to teach me your luring ways because every time I open the window he or she runs away.
Mohanad Elshieky 43:05
Hoja, doesn’t like cats, you just like theft.
Hoja Lopez 43:12
The thrill of taking it.
Mohanad Elshieky 43:16
Well Kiki Have you stolen any pets this week? What’s happening?
Kiki Monique 43:20
Well no but I do there is a really cute cat that comes up to my windows has just like a little cute little black mouth and I just want to steal it so I am going to try to learn that cat mostly because I want to get into vet it probably needs some help but you know what I need an apology from the it’s not an Amazon delivery driver it is I think it’s like someone who has been outsourced and they use a van there’s something called piggy cars in California I’d never heard of these things piggy cars I guess they’re like these rental vans and all the Amazon packages that have been ordering have been delivered from this person. And this I don’t know why because all the other delivery people understand that there’s a gate that you walk to the porch but for some reason this delivery driver can’t find it and has just been chucking the packages over the fence into the yard where the cars are one time like watching like a 50 pound box of like a garage items and so I need an allergy because like, we had already sent one package back damaged and I’m just worried because I have a very important package on the way and I’m very scared it’s going to just get tossed over the fence and then maybe we won’t even see it and then we’re the cars on then I’ll run over it I don’t know. No, it’s I can’t even tell you; I’ll tell you later. I can’t even jinx it because it’s on the way but I didn’t apology from this Amazon driver just learn where the door is and just please just place it gently inside the door. You don’t even have to bring it all the way up to the to the porch.
Hoja Lopez 44:59
He did get a ring light and you need to tape him and then you need to drag him.
Kiki Monique 45:04
But he’s on the other side of the fence tossing.
Hoja Lopez 45:09
They always know how to hide when they’re doing bad stuff.
Mohanad Elshieky 45:13
You know, you talked about packages and stuff I was gonna do want apology but now you reminded me of one old apology. I demand from my old super, that my first building here in New York City. Oh, my God that man, I truly never disliked someone more. I’ll say it. So this is something that this man used to do. So the packages get left outside, like in the hallway. And I remember I got this package. And I got it on, like Express so I can get it in one day, because I really needed it. And I come out. It’s not there. It disappeared. And I’m like, so upset. Like, did someone steal it? I hate this shit, this suck so much. Two days later, this man messages me and says, hey, yeah, so I just wanted to keep your package safe. So I just took it. It’s in my apartment. And I was like, You did not need to keep it safe. This is just eek. Also, you could have texted me this second you took it. Why are you doing this now? And then I go to this man’s apartment every day for two weeks. No one has ever answered. And his apartment is my building, by the way, obviously. And I like literally text him like almost every day. I’m like, hey, man, I came to your apartment. Where’s my package? I really need it. And he has now responded. And then two weeks after, has neither responded to me yet. He just left it by my door after two weeks said nothing. But if you were protecting my package, you literally still left it outside. What was doing all of this? And truly one of the worst people in America working right now.
Hoja Lopez 47:02
He is working. He is in America,
Kiki Monique 47:04
I would have just I mean, knowing me I would have started I would have started lying and saying that my life saving medications were in that package. And if you don’t have it back to me within 24 hours and I die, that my estate will be suing you forever.
Mohanad Elshieky 47:19
I don’t think that man would have cared if I lived or died to be honest from the look of it.
Hoja Lopez 47:24
Honestly, maybe he’s a time traveler who somehow saved your life through that, you know, I’m so sorry that I want to I you know what? Fuck him, Mohanad, I’m so sorry. I even tried to defend him with a time travel thing.
Mohanad Elshieky 47:36
We literally just had a whole conversation about to siding and Hoja, right here, literally, time travel for this man.
Hoja Lopez 47:46
What if he was nervous and having a bad two weeks.
Mohanad Elshieky 47:51
No, I believe that man does not feel, that’s how much I hate him. But yeah, it’s fine. I hope he still has his job because I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs. That’s just I feel like that’s what being a millennial is. You get treated the worst way possible by someone with whatever job and you’re like, I hope you continue to have this job you piece of shit because I care about you.
I’M SORRY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Alex McOwen, supervising producer is Kryssy Pease. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Our mix is by Kat Yore and theme music was composed by Xander Singh. If you like this show, please rate and review. And please don’t cancel us. You can find out more about our show at @LemonadaMedia on all social platforms, or follow us on Instagram at @imsorry_podcast. We’ll be back next week and until then be nice, play fair and always say I’m sorry. Thanks for listening!