S1 – Episode 2 – Friends for Life
Queer love and embodying transformation
CAITLIN BREEDLOVE: How do we, as this vale is being lifted and the old ways are crumbling, like, how do we actually put our feet in some of those cracks and in some of those doors and kick them open further? After we kick the door open, let me fucking tell you something people, kindness eases change. So after you kick, after you destroy things, you know, like, whether that’s relationships, whether that’s infrastructure, whether that’s structure, like, and I’m going to quote our buddy, because she doesn’t get any love here in the US even though she’s brilliant, Jelena Milos, who is a Croatian activist who’s a friend, I remember her saying y’all really predicting, being like y’all are really into, like, your individual charismatic electoral folks you’re running who are feminist. That’s cute. What is the platform? How are you thinking about feminist governance, and what’s the role of kindness and compassion?
LISA ANDERSON: Welcome to [00:01:00] Friends for Life from Auburn Seminary, a podcast for friends who give us life and with whom we are in it for life together. My name is Lisa Anderson. I work at Auburn Seminary. I am a black queer theologian who believes that loving blackness is the spiritual calling of our time.
MACKY ALSTON: My name is Macky Alston, queer dad, documentary film maker, spiritual activist, someone who’s worked side by side with Lisa for a super long time, been transformed by her leadership.
LA: Oh, technically we’re kind of the elders in our community, which I’m kind of okay with at this point in my life because, like you said, that means we get to talk to a lot of people and be with a lot of people. We’re babies in this podcast world, but I think we’re long in relationship, and we want to bring you into relationship with the people that we love and know best. Most recently on July 21 we had a chance to talk to two of our besties [00:02:00], Kate Shapiro and Caitlin Breedlove. So Kate, Kate works with the Women’s March right now. She’s the organizing director there, and she is from Durham, North Carolina, and she currently lives in Atlanta, a Southern, Southern girl, real Southern girl. She’s a grassroots organizer and a trainer and a popular educator. And for the longest time she worked at SONG, Southerners on New Ground.
MA: Along with Kate we’ve got Caitlin Breedlove. Caitlin Breedlove is one of our crazily beloved colleagues at Auburn. She’s the VP for movement leadership while at the same time she is chief strategy officer at the Women’s March. She’s a board member at SONG, Southerners on New Ground, where she was co-director for over a decade and did a lot in that collective to build up that network into its [00:03:00] magnificence.
LA: Our podcast unfolds in two parts. We start off with four questions to ground us, to get us in our bodies. And they are who has got your back? Where do you go to feel better? What song is getting you through? And what flavor delights you? So we want the whole body involved in those questions. So can you imagine the kind of sensual loveliness that can come out of that? And that’s the ground that we lay so that from there we can go deeper into talking about what’s up in this contemporary moment. And the three questions that we ask people to sort of get us there are we ask them what strategic counsel do they have for our leaders, you out there, of faith and moral courage so that we can think and live and embody what it means to survive and to thrive, to win in 2020 and also to imagine [00:04:00] the world beyond the 2002 election season. The next thing we ask them is to tell us a story about when we have won in the past in our movements. We’re winning people. Our communities are people who know in our bones what it means, like, to do civil and human rights, what it means to bring love and justice into communities, but often in hard times we forget it. So we invite our community to remember it with us, to lift each other up, to buoy our spirits and the reality of what it means to win. And the final question we ask is what is a joy practice that is getting us through, that is getting each of us through in these days? Dual pandemics people, uprising on every street, and we have to practice the world that we want to be in. We have to practice joy. We have to practice imagining and living [00:05:00] the realm of holiness, the realm of justice, the realm of God now. So that’s what we do with our people every week. That’s what we’re going to do with Kate and Caitlin this week and with you all. So —
MA: You have ideas, suggestions, thoughts, email us: [email protected] And if you’re feeling it, please share the podcast with friends, with folk through social media, subscribe. If this is going to be of help to folks we got to get it to folks. So please be our friends in that for us. Now here we go. We hope this is a gift for you.
LA: Okay, so here we are. All right, so how’s it going Caitlin and Kate? How you all doing? Isn’t that a weird question to ask in these days?
CB: Today I’m okay. Today I’m okay. It’s nice to be among friends.
KATE SHAPIRO: Yes, I’m glad to be here. It’s about to storm here in Atlanta. But yeah, I’m [00:06:00] thrilled to be in conversation with you all and excited for whatever’s to unfold next time.
LA: Whatever’s going to unfold, right, right? I mean, it’s so weird to ask that question, how you doing, right now and the world is the weirdest freaking question. But I think what makes it answerable is when you’re really asking because you really want to hear it. So I really want to hear it, whatever it is we do, both of us.
MA: Let me ask you one question: did you notice Lisa Anderson’s hairdo?
CB: Yeah, but I’ve seen her hair kind of recently, so I know that it’s going to be gorgeous, so —
LA: Well, you know, we had a minute when you could get out into the world, and the first thing I did was go get my hair done.
CB: And that lip. You got that lip too. So I see you.
LA: Well, you know, Fenty, Fenty, Fenty, Fenty. Oh my God, I’m advertising. I’m advertising for Rihanna. (laughter)
CB: Good, good.
LA: Oh gosh, [00:07:00] okay, you know, black woman in business. I’m all for that. So who’s got your back, Caitlin?
CB: Oh, well, I mean, there’s a whole list of people that got my back, but Shapiro, Kate Shapiro’s got my back. Big time, especially when it’s hard to have my back because I’m being kind of an asshole, which Kate sees pretty regularly. But yeah, I mean, I think about who’s got my back a lot in this moment in a really different way. I feel like it’s one of those things where I definitely think that one of the things about this time is it’s sort of put a pretty hard stop on me building new relationships. Maybe there’s people out there who are building new relationships. They’re not me. They maybe are a lot more skilled on Zoom than me, but they’re not. So what it has done is pushed me, and I’ve heard this from many other folks as well, to go connect with old friends that have my back, which has been super helpful. [00:08:00] And then also think about like, team and political and spiritual team and where those overlap and family and where those overlap. So Kate again, after a many-year relationship is sitting in, like, multiple teams with me in — we’re in a cycle. So we’re back at the front of the cycle, so Kate has my back. And one thing I was thinking about this morning, an example of how Kate had my back was the videos we sent each other last night to prepare for this podcast interview. They were pretty raw. Neither party was wearing a whole lot of clothing.
KS: All right.
CB: My (inaudible) was like, “Shapiro, I want to be in the video,” after just, like, really late night rambling to each other like, maybe we can talk about this. Maybe we can talk about that. And of course Kate was kind enough to put that video on [00:09:00] just a normal text video because Marco Polo or other more sophisticated ways that people can send videos she knows that I don’t have and I don’t know how to use. So then she actually just met me where I was, and then we exchanged them, and then we carried on with our day, given the time change. So very recent example of her having my back in the last 12 to 15 hours.
LA: Oh, I love it. All right. So Kate, what do you have to say about that?
KS: Well, yeah, I think saying that we were lightly clothes might even be an overstatement, so thank you for that, Breedlove. And I do call — since we also, you know, are white ladies with similar names, we often call each other Shapiro and Breedlove. That also comes out of SONG or Southerners on New Ground, though so where we first kind of fell in friend love. So just to say that I’m probably going to be calling her Breedlove over the course of this [00:10:00] conversation. Yeah, but I think one thing that I just want to start with is in reflecting about doing this podcast, like, I feel super like Auburn has my back.
KS: And that specifically, like, it’s really interesting since Breedlove and I have known each other for, what, 13 years, probably, 14 years, 100 years in lesbian years, I don’t know, is that being able to work on the sort of feminist organizing and training curriculum that we were working on for the last year and a half that we’re about to birth into the world, like, was a sight of work that we’re able to, like, reignite some of our friends, friend and political comrade, like, relationship. So just thinking too about, like, Auburn taking a risk on another [00:11:00] wild Southern queer that you didn’t know (inaudible) relationship and that giving us a space to be able to like, recalibrate. So just thinking about that, and yeah, I actually feel a whole bunch of rage and tumultuousness for all the reasons in this time and grief. And I actually, inside of my own personal life because of my own privilege and advantage and my own depth of community and relationships and living in the place that I grew up, I feel, like, very held in ways that like, are actually, yeah, have been hard for me to accept, I think, in other places because I’ve been experiencing a ton of loss in this time of corona, as we all have in a variety of personal ways. So I’m feeling like damn, it’s a rugged and terrifying and empowerful [00:12:00] time. And it’s been another time of affirmation around, like, intimacy comes in all forms. We starve ourselves when we think about it only romantically, and we actually stunt our ability to grow and be in a relationship with our self and others when that’s our only north star. So yeah, and I can talk a lot more about Breedlove and all of her excellent and bizarreness whenever you want me to do that. So I’m prepared to do that whenever.
LA: I mean, I love that. I love the opportunity to get to do exactly what we’re doing right here, which is like, lean in deep to being in all kinds of different intimacy and love with each other. And I resonate so powerfully with what Caitlin said, which I think you echoed, [00:13:00] Kate, earlier when you were talking about feeling like you don’t want to expand that circle so much right now but to go deeper and deeper into the — and can I just say, I feel like the granny in this conversation because —
LA: — I call Caitlin Caitlin, and I call Kate Kate. And like, I feel like the elder woman who calls them all by their given names.
KS: Love it.
CB: Call me whatever you want, Lisa Anderson.
LA: Mm. Mm.
MA: The thing that we all know is true is that when we say we have each other’s backs, there’s a lot of ugly in that. There’s a lot of, like, you all, (inaudible) I admire you both. And [00:14:00] as I Google you in advance of talking to you today I can’t believe the spaces you’ve been in, the spaces you are co-creating, and I thank you. But I also, you know, sometimes we put organizers up on a pedestal. We even other them, which is a easy way out as well as no favor to anybody. And so it’s just even when you talk about raw, and I don’t mean raw video but raw, like, knowing you just a little I’m imaging you all for one another in the most vulnerable times. And you know, part of me wants to just say thank you. Thank you for being there for each other, for supporting one another through it, but I also lift that [00:15:00] up for all of us, that having each other’s backs, that’s hard work, and particularly in a time like — and you know, I wanted to ask, like, when were you together last, and what does it mean to have each other’s backs when you can’t touch?
LA: That’s a question.
CB: I mean, I think, going to the first piece of what you were saying, Macky, I mean, we talked about this a little bit, we talked about it a lot, and I think, you know, our political relationship starting inside of a bigger political and spiritual container, which is SONG, Southerners on New Ground, I think is a really important context, because I’ve thought a lot about — and then I think there’s stuff that’s really specific, but I think that just the same way that we can individualize relationships we can also kind of couple them. And I completely agree with [00:16:00] what Shapiro said. Like, I actually think there’s a lot to go into how much it’s important for us to be there for each other as two white queer identified people who feel very connected to a white anti-racist lesbian tradition or the best parts of that and learning from the most rugged parts of that and holding each other accountable and being accountabilibuddies. And I think that’s inside of a political and spiritual imperative and mandate that comes from SONG, which has a great deal to do with also what are the parts of the history that are most meaningful. And I think that can feel very far away right now, and I think there’s also a queer and trans-generational piece in some ways where I think for a lot of folks under 30 right now, that feels really far away. And maybe for a lot of other folks it felt really far away too, but I think about the opportunities we’ve been able [00:17:00] to have to actually be steeped in some of those traditions, particularly in the South, and with much appreciation to like, you know, a trajectory of white anti-racist dykes across class who are working the South who a lot of gnarly stuff, a lot of great stuff, but a lot of relationship there. And so I think that a big part of that has also been how you make a commitment to have your lives be about related things and then help each other hold to that, particularly as Kate was saying, I think that one of the most beautiful things that is in — has been to some extent lost and is at risk of being lost even more, and this is a conversation Macky and Lisa, the three of us have had as well, is the critical importance of nonromantic queer love, the critical importance of, quote-unquote, platonic love and relationship. And actually I think there’s a lot of things that Shapiro helps me to look at [00:18:00] or to see or to work through both politically and personally that having been in romantic relationships with people who are also organizers, it’s just mixing those things together has made it much harder to see, much easier to take it personally, much less able to actually be like oh, right, that’s right, Shapiro, I want to be focused on — I want to be growing. I want to be growing. I want to be building. I want to be honoring all of the training and love and commitment that people put into my leadership. And I want to be in that. And I feel like having that kind of touchstone actually, I think there’s a case to be made that that kind of political and spiritual touchstone work is actually much easier to have deep intimate relationship that is not necessarily romantic, you know. And I think that that has been super powerful in this time sort of, you know, living alone and have time with a little tiny person, that really, I feel like, brings a sense of balance [00:19:00] and also the reminder of, like, really remembering who I am, who I’ve been, who I’m trying to be because I think it’s a very easy time, at least for me, to get forgetful on the daily. I think for many other people as well, but I would just to say to be vulnerable (inaudible) for me it has been.
KS: Yeah, and that’s something that’s been so, like, helpful, like 13 years in, right is being like, remember that pattern you have? Remember that — oh, that pattern that I have, that all these new friends don’t see or know? [Scheisse?], like, you can’t hide, you know, and I think that I feel super grateful in some ways that relational organizing and some of this terminology, like, has been introduced into our vocabulary, like, in progressive circles around recognizing how critical relationships are. And I think that sometimes that still gets sort of, like, romanticized [00:20:00] or flattened or two dimensional. Or I’m like this is gnarly, and it’s worth it. Like, I annoy Breedlove so much, absolutely. Does she make me, like, want to kick a can? Yes, all the time. And like, that’s okay, and it’s still worth it. So I don’t know. There’s something to me about, like, sometimes we’re like oh, we’re all hardwire for relationship. We need connection. It’s like, sure that is true in a time of deep, profound isolation. And like, we do need to know that relationships are risky and they’re worth the risk. And I think inside a queer and trans and Southern traditions and also, like, the other traditions that we don’t come from but that we’ve learned from in terms of black Southern traditions and others, like, relationships are also a material necessity, you know. But then on the [00:21:00] flip side you got the queer people, of which I am, everybody, in case you did not know, (inaudible) very queer conversation happening. (laughter) But then sometimes we’re like, we want to stay small and just with our two friends or our three friends or our lover because we don’t want anybody to disrupt this special precious things we had. And sometimes that tendency comes, I think, because of homophobia and transphobia and isolation that we’re like, protect our boundaries, create a safer intimate space. And then other times when we don’t welcome that relationships are risky and that we got to take risks on other people and that people are taking risks on us, then we lose the opportunity to widen the circle, which I think is also some of the best of our LGBTQ traditions, which is like cool, cool, cool, we got some stuff. We’ve made [00:22:00] some advances. No, we have not achieved liberation, but our role is not to just sit and enjoy the sacrifices and the cultural change and the policy change that’s happened. It’s to make more room for more people.
LA: That’s right.
KS: So that was kind of a ramble, but seemed somewhat related.
MA: You know, these questions we’re asking, the desire is for listeners to think for yourselves about, you know, who’s got your back, and things just that make you feel better in this hell time. And so the second question, and the second question feels like a mean-spirited question almost when we can’t go wherever we want to go, if we can go wherever we want to go, but at the same time invites resourcefulness, creativity, or imagination. So the second question is where do you go to feel better? Caitlin, [00:23:00] where do you go to feel better right now?
CB: With the physicality of having a toddler feels like a huge gift, huge gift because it’s like I have to work hard to not be like oh, make me feel better but just to be in his presence I’m always like, I haven’t quite experienced a lot love like that where I’m like oh, it’s 5:00 am, you smell like pee, and I’m really excited you’re in the bed. That hasn’t really been something everybody (inaudible) maybe for other people they’re real pumped about that. Hasn’t really been my thing, but I feel like that makes me feel better, but I think the reasons are really specific. Going back to what you were saying Kate, relationship, it’s not — like, there’s not a hallmark card on that. I’m like, why is this little two and a half year old so loud? Why does he yell all the time, as I’m yelling? Like, I know just yell happily at each other all day every day, right. But I do think there’s something about I’m actually very clear [00:24:00] on, this is going to sound like a weird jump, but I’m very clear about where the elements of how I would think about the best kind of membership, of being part of an organization, those three elements are also part of my relationship with my son, which is belonging, meaning, and purpose. And I still think about that with SONG being on the board. Having belonging and meaning and purpose, and some people think like, that’s where I go to feel better is those three things. I mean, sometimes people like meaning and purpose are the same thing, and I’m like nope. You can be in something very meaningful and be like, but where is this going? I feel like I belong. It has meaning. Not clear where the purpose is. And I feel like with parenting I’m like ooh, very clear about what my work is to help nurture, feeling those things, and helping to transmit feeling those things, and I think those are parts of a lot of different kinds of relationship. But I think those components, when I think about, to get to what [00:25:00] Kate was saying, there’s what makes me feel better, which I feel like there’s other things as well, but they also have elements of those three, but then the part that’s about widening the circle, that it’s not enough just for me, right, that it’s I’m feeling better as the we is feeling better, actually. I have my individual answer. I’ll be with it. But I’m also like, as we widen the circle, when we consider that those three elements, for example, most humans I’ve ever organized with really, those things feel really great to them, and having those things in relationship actually is incredibly helpful. Like, I think that I’m hearing a lot of people really actually be willing to be more honest that they want those three things from different parts of their life, their community, their neighborhood, however they define family, you know, even having audacity to want to feel that in the workplace. You know, like, groups they’re organizing with. And I think that to me, like, I’m really like [00:26:00] oh, I really need to make sure I know how to access and build those things with other people as I’m trying to help create spaces where that’s available for more people. Otherwise it feels too thin.
MA: Kate, where do you go to feel better?
KS: It’s a really great question, and I really am — just because I’m sitting with some of what Breedlove was saying, but I think that this time has really forced and invited me and I think many of us to revisit how we self-sooth. We’re like got to be your own best friend. Got some best friends, one of them I’m looking at right now. They’re beyond even that descriptor, and it is like, how do you come home to yourself a little bit, I think, is I think one of the collective questions that we’re all trying to figure out how to do that inside of the crisis that is extending in all of these different ways. [00:27:00] So yeah, I’ve got my nerdy novels, and I have a pod that includes my seven-year-old — grandchildren, God, hello. And I’ve been recruited by Breedlove to take on a new role at the Woman’s March. And I’m building a new team instead of — constellation set of relationships over there that realigns me not with my life purpose, but it uplinks me into the broader team that I think without that then we become adrift, or at least I become adrift. And then I’ve been a dyke who loves plants. I’m like the freaking stereotype with my glasses. Everyone’s like are you a vegetarian? I’m like no, I am a white lesbian, but I — not a vegetarian, but I do like to garden. So my garden is on point. [00:28:00] But that’s just to say also I think that the thing that so many people are like, you know, that’s why you can’t go to the Sweetwater Creek state park over here because it’s too full. It’s not just like where can I be that’s safe. I do think it is the like, where am I being called? And I do think it is profoundly spiritual that it is in nature in connection to the earth and outside of our little boxes on the hillside. So you know, I’ve got all those sort of little practices that I’m brushing up on and refining. And it is to me about sort of self-soothing, and some of what we’ve talked about for years, Breedlove and I and others, around spiritual strength training and stamina. And that part of that also is giving ourselves permission to be a mess, and I’ve been eating cereal for dinner for weeks. And I’m fine with that, everybody. [00:29:00]
MA: What kind? What kind?
LA: What kind of cereal, yeah?
KS: Some lesbian freak co-op — I finished last night. I can’t even (inaudible). I got it in bulk, pre-packaged bulk. So I’ll leave it at that. But cereal for dinner, do what you got to do, you know.
CB: And we saw each other at the Women’s March when I made Kate come at the last minute and help save my ass, working with me and stayed in my hotel room, and then we drank vodka at night and laid there in our underwear and talked about whatever, things we had to do.
KS: And all of Breedlove’s coworkers at the time, because I didn’t work there, would come, and then we’d just be in our underwear, and it’s just different culture, friend culture, thong culture, versus other organizational culture. They were like, who are these people together? Whoa.
CB: We had a real growing [00:30:00] (inaudible) —
KS: Made them a little uncomfortable, but that’s okay.
LA: I love the self-soothing piece, and I couple it in my mind with being — creating spaces of ease. Like, when you said the thing about the cereal eating, and I’m okay with that, I’ve really resisted the tyranny at the beginning of this in particular where we all had a marching order to write a book and prove your life. Very individualistic too, very much in that kind of my own Marlboro person warrior through, and Kate, I remember early on when I was afraid and said I wanted to be a good soldier. And you corrected me and said but we’re not soldiers. We’re human in a moment that’s deeply [00:31:00] feels inhuman on so many levels. And so that self-soothing with the idea that you breathe ease into life, it’s powerful. It’s getting me through.
KS: I mean, I just want to say one other thing that I think has — where I’ve gone to feel better also, like, as well as feel many other feelings besides better, like, have been to be in support in a variety of back-up dancer roles like around the different uprisings that are happening. You know, because there’s been so many points at which I felt both my heart was going to explode with joy and excitement and transformation and possibility while on my phone seeing the monuments come down and NASCAR ban [00:32:00] and all the uprisings of black young people of all ages actually across the country and at other points, it felt so, when I was just in my house for weeks by myself, like so far away. So being able to just get back there playing a variety of very menial roles, because I don’t know any of those people anymore, and so has also been a way that literally just in my spirit has made me feel better versus just mediating it through the screen.
LA: So the next question: what song is getting you through?
KS: Oh lord, I think we’re both probably listening to our lesbian Brandi Carlile and in our — I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for you, Breedlove, but —
CB: My kid [00:33:00] sings Brandi Carlile in the bathtub. It’s hilarious. (inaudible) But I also, Nightmare on Wax “Give THX”, actually, when thinking about the uprising I really, I think, yeah, I think that’s been incredibly powerful, and actually I think has been, and I want to hear what your specific lezzer song is too over there, Kate, but I think it’s also been powerful for me to have Shapiro or us to be able to have that conversation. I think we both come from a kind of training where actually in some odd ways is very suited for this moment where we were trained that you don’t have any attitude about playing the back. You don’t have to scramble for the front. You don’t have to scramble for the mic. You’re not scared of it, but that’s an honorable place to hold. And I think there are not a lot of white people that I have worked with who have spent a big part of our lives [00:34:00] in black and POC majority either smaller spaces or bigger spaces or that that’s a lot of the organizing trajectory that we’ve engaged in. And so the conversation, I think, look particular, and it is great because I think that there’s an authenticity in that relationship and a privacy that we don’t get caught up in the political dynamic that is so often there that I think we both take a political position against, which is like, it’s not about being a white person that gets the cookie because you’re a white person in a majority people of color organization, but there are conversations I feel like we’ve been able to have and also differences in experiences we’re able to engage. I think some of that training, I’ve been thinking about how it’s prepared me for a moment where right before 2020 I think this was descending but present. There was [00:35:00] such an energy to me in progressive space that was like, I want to be seen. I want to be seen. I want to be seen. And I’m not pathologizing all of that because I think some of that was coming from deep unseen-ness from humans of many lived experience because race, because of class, because of gender and sexuality, because of cis and trans identities. But I feel this energy now like I want to be known. Like, when I talk to people, and when I talk to people who are very well-seen, especially those who are over 75 years old. Their desire to be known, to be remembered for what they actually believed, intersectionality wise. They actually believed who they actually were, to be known in that is powerful. And the being seen is secondary to that. It’s just about being known by more or being remembered. And I think that we came up in a political space that desired to have our community [00:36:00] be known at a time when it was not known to help our folks gather the courage to be known. It wasn’t about being seen. I actually think that’s a linguistic and semantic error. Like, coming out, being out, all this sort of very simple two dimensional race and class privileged, frankly, conversation. But the desire to be known, when I think about our elders saying I wanted to come out, and I came out at 30 or 35 or 38, thinking of that as someone who’s 38 now, the desire to be known was the power that was holding that, which to me has so much more depth and humility than only being seen. I think seen isn’t a bad thing. I just think it’s layered with other pieces. And I think that the kind of tools that we were given to help people make that transition to I want to be known and I want to know is actually incredibly powerful in this time in a time when millions and millions of dollars have gone into folk’s [00:37:00] individual desire to be seen, helping other people see each other, getting paid a lot of money to help other people be seen. Like, I’m not that interested in that anymore, as everybody knows me well knows. I’m very interested in what wants to be unearthed, what needs to be known, and how we know each other differently. And I think that is really resonant in this time. I think people are really feeling that right now. At least that’s what I experience.
LA: Oh, definitely. I mean, it gets back to that question of intimacy. It’s a very spiritually deep question. It’s erotic. It makes me think of — if you let me use some God talk, it makes me remember when God breathes [00:38:00] and exhales on us, that intimacy that knows you so well that life is breathed into you by that knowing. And I think we can do that in relationship too, that when you know me it’s like we exchange the hotness of our breath. And you can know that in movements too. It’s not individualistic. It’s actually the opposite of an individual knowing. I don’t want to go off too much into that space because I can just go down a road with that kind of talk. And it’s interesting that we got here out of what songs delights you out of what sound, that you take in that we got here for that.
KS: Can I riff on what Breedlove was just talking about? [00:39:00]
LA: Yup, absolutely.
KS: (inaudible) Let me just riff on that a little bit. Because I super appreciate you bringing a lot of that, Breedlove. And I think a couple things. I think actually one of the things that that reminds me of is this quote from Stacey Abrams that she said at an Auburn gathering last year where she was being honored by Auburn Seminary. And I actually wove this into the curriculum that we’re distributing through Auburn, of course. Where she says we spend a lot of time thinking about our own belonging, and I think our own visibility, to your point, Breedlove, versus thinking about the belonging of others and what our responsibility is in any space or even relationship to ensure our belonging but to actually [00:40:00] hold it sacred and important, like the belonging of others versus individual profile or visibility. So there’s something about that sort of reframe around belonging that I think there’s a lot of hunger for, and there’s a lot of entrenchment around being like, do I have what I need? Am I seen, and will I ascend? Will I be visible? Everybody thinks that organizers are the people with the bullhorns. I’m like, are you kidding me? We’re herding the cats. We’re trying to build a team and move a process inside of our values. We’re not trying to stunt for the sound bite or get a bunch of followers. So I don’t know. There’s something about the belonging piece, and then I think the other thing that you were saying, Breedlove, around coming out of SONG, right, the 28-year-old, maybe [00:41:00] 29-year-old multiracial cross-class LGBTQ institution that we both came up through beautifully, all these risks were taken on us, even get us up in there in the ways that we were, but there’s something about being Southern or coming out of all of the various traditions that we actually understand something about both relationship and being known that’s like, it takes time. There’s something about pacing that maybe I think maybe is also about this moment. Some of the stamina stuff, everyone’s like, why would you organize if you can’t win? Like, why you keep fighting if [it’s all?] so red? And it’s like, wait a second, are you kidding me? Like, why would we not? How do you deal with all of that? And it’s like, there’s something about the sort of piece around pacing and time [00:42:00] and the slow and respectful work that is needed in building relationships period. Can’t fast track that if it’s real, especially across identity and across power and across race, class, and gender. Like, we talk a lot at SONG about building a path to trust, not assuming that that can happen, especially across difference and across all of the wedges and crevasses that separate us for all the reasons and that that takes time. So I don’t know. Some of what you’re saying about being known to me is also around walking a long road together and not expecting it to be able to be shorthand or glossy or instantly providing results. So [00:43:00] yeah, and I’m just going to go stick with I’ve been listening to a lot of Brandi Carlile as well, so (inaudible). I’ve been, like, going back also into, like, my old stuff, some of the old stuff there in, like, ’90s hip hop from high school where I’m like let me get some Aquemini in my life. Thank you Outkast, bless you. You know, and same with movies. I have been like going to some of the old — I was like Breedlove, we’re going to watch Tootsie. We’re watching Tootsie. It’s happening and some other — I just got a Disney+ subscription through my housemate, so it’s about to get super weird with that. What are some of the other old ones that we were talking about, Breedlove, that we were texting each other about?
CB: I don’t know, but I’m awash in Moana right now. I have Disney+ because of my local bestie who holds me down [00:44:00] so hard, and I have to say, you know, if you have to mess with Disney+ and you want to try to indoctrinate your child into one particular one, Moana is the original feminist banger as far as I’m concerned.
KS: Oh yeah, I know from Porter, oh my God, yeah. Oh yeah, classic.
LA: Okay. I didn’t know about Moana.
CB: It’s just so like something you would be into. I feel like you’d be really into it because it’s super spiritual, and it’s feminist. I’m like, actually (inaudible).
LA: I wrote it down. I didn’t even want to admit that I don’t know who Brandi Carlile is either.
KS: It’s okay.
CB: Yeah, just Google (inaudible). I don’t know if I think there’s a best song in Moana, but I did hear, and I am just going to say it, that my favorite tweet of 2020 [00:45:00] is as follows. I can’t remember exactly who it was. It was a 30-something commentator. It was like the reasons Moana is the greatest ever. One, there are no white people in it. Two, there’s no romantic interest. Three, every single song is a banger. And four, motherfucking grandma. And when you see it, Lisa (inaudible).
LA: All right, I’m going to watch it. I’m going to watch it. I have Disney+ for a month.
CB: [unclear] going to be right there. I’m going to have to figure out who tweeted that so you all can quote that person. But it’s amazing. But every song is a banger. I do actually believe that, Macky, about Moana.
MA: I have failed in so many ways. I have this radical jock daughter who, you know, she asks me to throw a ball. I try to throw the ball. I’m not even sure. But across the board show tunes, when we are together, the [00:46:00] four of us, we bring it. Moana’s at the top of the list. So last sensual question. What flavor right now delights you?
CB: God, my answer’s so boring, y’all. But that’s all right. It’s very real, which is that I feel like one of the things that has been so difficult about this time, also a shout-out, sending some love to everyone listening to this who’s in what I would consider an extreme weather situation, like, it’s 115 during the day here in Phoenix sometimes. So since we’re inside so much it’s super important to mark parts of the day to me. So I feel like coffee is the number one marker of like, it’s my transition towards actually starting working from the hazy early morning time with the toddler. [00:47:00] I feel like I’ve been getting more and more intense. I think I have coffee in every form in my house. I make coffee in the French press. Then I have those Starbucks shots. I try to contain it just to the morning, but I’ll pretty much go on whatever time, and then also my good friend here, some of you all now, who’s fantastic, (inaudible), keeps mama game. And like, once a week she has me meet her at her house to bike, but I have to be there at 6:00. So I like do one of those Starbucks shots, get on my bike, put on my mask, and then we go around because it’s the only time you can do it. But I definitely associate that with her now, that and the fact that she’s the only reason I have a water bottle that’s properly cold in Phoenix. She’s like, oh my God, here you go. Here’s one of those fancy ones that actually keeps it cold. Drink your coffee shot. So that’s me.
KS: Here’s the thing about Breedlove, she’s not very food motivated. It’s a point of [00:48:00] tension in our relationship.
CB: Yeah, it is actually. Kate’s like I’m trying to show you wonder. And I’m like, I’m a crappy audience.
KS: (inaudible) bread is so good. She’s like, just give me a piece of string cheese and a slice of turkey and maybe (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). And I’m like, what are you talking about? No more baby yogurts, string cheese. Yeah, I panic shopped. Breedlove knows all about it. I talk about it all the time. And I bought, at the beginning of this nightmare, and I bought at the recommendation of a friend, a frother.
LA: A frother?
CB: Frother so I can make a little cappuccino or a (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). I use that every day, and it’s totally part of my self-soothing, and I love it, and I talk about it to Breedlove all the time. I allegedly was going to send her one. I believe I have forgotten to do that. Your birthday (inaudible) ago. I got you. [00:49:00] And now I’m back on popsicles, cereal, popsicles. I’m a simple girl, I guess. And then all the bounty from my garden.
LA: What’s the flavor?
KS: It’s been great.
LA: What’s the flavor of the popsicle?
KS: I just went to the Mexican store around the corner from my house and just cleared out. I was like lime, mango, coconut, Mamey, tamarind.
KS: I was like let me get four of everything and just be that person, so I have —
LA: Wow, that’s wild. I’m learning all the things. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a tamarind popsicle.
CB: They’re great.
KS: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) life. Why not? We’ll see.
LA: We got an election coming up in November. And we’ve got our folks out there, including you all, doing all the things to support our people in the various ways [00:50:00] that you’re doing that. What have you got now? If you have to list what are you thinking about towards winning in 2020, if that’s a thing, what are you doing now, what do you got to — yeah, I don’t even know how to ask the question, if you want to know the truth. I’ve been in the news so much lately and listening to folks so much lately that the question even feels weird to ask.
CB: I think for sure Shapiro’s — is much stronger on the granular right now, some of the things that we’re up to in the really concrete. I mean, I think kind of on the big stories, which is where I usually think, [00:51:00] like, I’ve just been thinking a lot about when we get out of the literal grassroots grabble, like, lie on the ground and look at the ants level, like anything not in that feels very not — it feels dissonant, not only not resonant but all the way to dissonant with what’s actually going on for folks from the things that I’m reading, seeing, hearing, conversations I’m in all the time. From my vantage point, for what that’s worth, I think people are deeply in their homes, in the six blocks around their houses, in the question of locality in a way that particularly classes centers and middle class people and people of wealth had not had to consider for a long time. I think people who have traveled for work, which is many progressive organizer types of a certain crew and many [00:52:00] others, actually, like, are sedentary and sitting our asses down in a different kind of way in this electoral moment, and are like, how to compute? How to compute, on that to some degree, you know. And I think that when I think about this moment that we’re in, you know, we basically have, I feel like, to me, it doesn’t have to dampen morale to tell the truth that we have Trump running against a democratic vacancy. It’s a vacancy. He’s (inaudible), you know. He’s parking spotting it. The exciting thing about that is that we actually get to fill that space up with keeping really close to like where actually people are (inaudible) point about this. I think one of the things I’ve been saying inside of space at SONG is like, how do we contend with so many people in this [00:53:00] up and coming generation through black leadership but not only black, being like, we desire to be the last generation that experiences police brutality. We are manifesting a desire to be the last generation that is dealing with some of this bullshit. How are you all going to contend with our desire to be the last? Which is running through us in some incredibly powerful ways, and which doesn’t always make coalition building or working together that easy all the time because when humans have that mandate running through that, that can be in real bumpy territory, right, with a sort of mainstream electoral traditional politics, right. But I think in the question of how actually we — at Women’s March I think we’ve been thinking about — Kate could say a lot more about specifics, but I think in the concepts and the way we’re thinking about it, like, what does it mean to think about, for us, like, women to women voter work that’s actually relational, that’s actually using this an opportunity to figure out what the deep longings and aspirations to build a different kind of feminist governance? [00:54:00] When we say defund the police, what do we want to fund? What do we want to build? What do we want to dismantle, change, build, and what does that actually then look like in real time? And I think that aspirational desire is real, but I also think the level to which people are localizing right now absolutely, I mean, there are folks who are like, yeah, it’s really not enough that we have a few progressives in city council in Arizona, in Phoenix, right. It’s really great that we have a few, but it hasn’t meant anything for people not dying here. Like, we need more. We actually are understanding the purpose of having more control of governance because we understand what a public health crisis is both in terms of white supremacy and COVID. And so I think that when I think about the electoral possibility it’s like Biden in order to advance what? Like, yes, Biden in order to advance what — and yes, fighting like hell for ourselves and each other. Going back to what Kate was saying, it’s like, it’s about what [00:55:00] I need, and it’s also about what the bigger we needs in order to say yup, like, this is the way in which we can actually move things forward because I think if we were waiting for anyone to come save us in the traditional Democratic Party, if any of the more center factions of progressives were thinking that might occur, I hope that that idea is not alive in order for other things to live. Because there is so much more enthusiasm and (inaudible) in a progressive base when it’s like that is so clearly not happening. And I think some of us have thought that for quite some time. But it’s laid so bare in a space that’s actually not just the smallest faction of the Democratic Party or even the Warren-Sanders combined block, right. It’s way beyond that. People are like oh, his whole approach is to sit this out. [00:56:00] So what does it mean for us to not sit it out even while we’re home. And I actually think it’s incredibly powerful, like, it’s always powerful when folks are like oh, yeah, you’re not going to go do that. So what are we going to do? And nobody’s going to be surprised that I think that feminists and queer and trans people and women of color and working class women, frankly, and people who have to just take care of people all the time, that’s what we’re doing, have some real contributions to make to that. Like duh, nobody’s going to make the dinner. Nobody’s going to get it done. Nobody’s going to get all of that done unless we’re going to do that, and I think that is the energy that I’m like, how do we motivate on that because I think the realization is pretty intense given the true impact of this administration on a way wider set of people within this country than just the folks that he has mercilessly scapegoated, which, we all know who that — black folks and undocumented [00:57:00] people, et cetera, from jump. Tragically it’s way wider than that, the impact as well, right. So you got people directly affected in numbers that are acknowledging that they’re directly affected in numbers that are very high, you know. So that’s some of my thoughts. Shapiro?
LA: Oh, I can’t wait to hear from you, Kate, because this is the most hopeful sounding, and not in a Pollyanna way, analysis and like, forward moving thing I have heard. I have never heard anybody fill vacancy with so much possibility.
KS: I want to read this thing really quickly that actually kind of ties back to some of what I was reflecting on from what Breedlove was saying earlier. And it’s a little thing that I wrote a number of years ago with Mary Hooks from SONG. And then we both put it on our little alter. It’s right here. It says we are measured, judged by the one not of our elders, [00:58:00] the critique of our comrades, the health of our teams, and the values we live daily. And I think that so much of what’s interesting right now, and I’ve been saying this inside the Women’s March base with our different organizing work and just saying it to myself is it’s like, to me the gift that we have to and get to give ourselves and each other is like, to welcome the transformation that’s happening inside of us and amongst us and around us, right fucking now. And because I’ve been in the, you know, like, down on the ground trying to sort through in terms of strategies, organizing onramps, distributing and organizing all of that, like, I haven’t had the chance, and I don’t know how many of us have, to be like, what actually is the scale of transformation that’s already happened [00:59:00] right now? And how do we, as this vale is being lifted and the old ways are crumbling, how do we actually put our feet in some of those cracks and in some of those doors and kick them open further? And so I think a lot of what Breedlove was speaking to relates to a little bit of that sentiment while also I actually personally also cannot grasp, because I also haven’t done enough global study around the implications of what havoc Trump has already wrought and what the scenarios and possibilities are. Like, whoa. So just to say that with such a media environment that’s so saturated, and we’re all in our houses, and we’re getting all of this info from our screens, it [01:00:00] does feel hard to be like what’s the reader analysis? Like, what’s actually taking place right now? Because we can’t all gather and synthesize because everything’s happening so fast. But yeah, I mean, I think that we have an amazing opportunity to welcome the transformation and actually use this as a chance to articulate through our values and through our practice, like, embodying the people that we want to be and that we get a chance every damn day when we are alive and on this planet to do that. You know, and I think that there is such a really interesting sort of with the folks that we’re working with, the thousands and thousands of women that we’re working with inside the Women’s March who have gotten very little support previously, they’ve just been scrapping it out on their own figuring it all out, like, people [01:01:00] both want an assignment and are scared to choose a path. And so I think that that’s some of our collective work, I think especially as whites, is how do we keep pushing on our transformation, welcome it, encourage it, go further with it, and accept and rise to the occasion to be like, what’s the best contribution that we can make right now? And to me it is the like the vale’s been lifted broadly. What does that give you the opportunity to learn about your place and your people? And how do you build your team and broaden your team in all of the variety of ways? And then how do we go hard inside of a vision to do whatever we need to do to defeat Trump but to also defeat [01:02:00] Trumpism and to create the world that we need. Because like, that’s what this moment has shown us, exactly what you’re saying, Breedlove, is like, nobody else is going to do it for us. Nobody else is going to do it, and we actually have the ability to create and embody and build and rebuild the systems and structures that we need. And then I think to your other point, Breedlove, which I really agree with, is I hope that we can muster our courage to be able to not be overly disrespectful but even inside of the Democratic establishment it’s like, friends, that’s not working. We got to find a different way. Let us be honest with where we’re at and what has and hasn’t worked and what has gotten us to this point. And let’s try some new things. Like, Mary Hooks the [01:03:00] other day was on our feminist organizing school, and she was like, you know, no holds barred everybody. Like of course let’s defeat Trump and defeat Trumpism, and this is a world-building moment. So what are the ideas that we have, and if we don’t have ideas and we don’t have creativity, how can we join in and offer our hands in spirit and resources in the service of something bigger? So there’s a bunch more sort of specifics that I’d be happy to talk about in terms of some of sort of the strategy and program that we’re running if that is relevant or desired. But sort of in the vein of what Breedlove was talking about, I kind of kept it pretty 30,000-foot.
MA: People are desperate for assignment. They really are. We are. And you all, I mean, Kate, you’ve been so generous in naming the value of [01:04:00] what Auburn has, for example, offered. And that generosity of lifting up that work is a sweet gift. For you all at the Women’s March at Southerners on New Ground, my belief is that there are listeners to this podcast who have congregations, who have networks, who are in red states and blue, who have resources, who have money. You know, we have a lot and are just wishing for the clarity of the call. So what do you, in that regard, not at 30,000 but today, this week, next month, are there things that you would ask people to get on board with? [01:05:00]
KS: Yeah, absolutely. Are you kidding me? There’s a million assignments. Sometimes there’s too many. But I think, and I’m a Jew, but raised in the South, so I know a little bit about Christianity, but there is this piece around giving our time, our talents, and our tithe. It’s like, to me I think it is about institutionally people are going through a reckoning around their practices and interpersonal behavior and all of that, which I think is very important, specifically around racism and anti-black racism, and that should continue. And inside of that I think it should be like, how do we actually transform not just our interpersonal relationships but the practices and the policies that uphold white supremacy, that uphold classism, that uphold elitism, and how do we break from that? But that’s just sort of on the institutional tip. And then I think to me the question is [01:06:00] what’s the best contribution we can make? And that is going to vary based on people’s position or access or relationships, but I’m like, contribute to building defeating Trumpism and building democracy and more teams and connective tissue in your local area. So that’s like join a local organization and commit to showing up for six months. And don’t just go one time and flake, right. Contribute your time and talents to the down ballot races and to defeating Trump. Because that’s how the right wing won was by going county by county, school board by school board, county by congressional district by state to like, build this empire. So what you have you should figure out how to give and not be stingy with what your longing is. And you can do that, yeah, local organizations, volunteer; [01:07:00] local races, volunteer; federal races, volunteer. And then figure out a couple of buddies that you want to scheme and dream with. Because without the scheming and the dreaming it’d be like what’s the best little contribution that we can make that might impact a couple more people than just ourselves? Even if it’s just like, we going to do a little food distro in our community. Think about how you can create, as we say inside of feminist traditions, that third space. The first space, this comes out of Chicana and black and indigenous feminist trajectories, first space is where we live right now, McDonalds, Trump, all the things. Second space is the fight of resistance. And third space is the world-building. So what are the ways that we’re going to actually not go and hammer on our local Democratic Party people to be like you guys are doing everything wrong, do it this way. They probably are. [01:08:00] But we’re going to try to fold into what they’re doing so we can get those doors knocked and do all of that, and we’re going to do our world-building. And that’s the muscle that I think that we need to build. And I think that that’s the other piece inside of feminism, inside of relationships, and inside of everything is like, we’re so hungry. We’re living in scorched earth. Like, there’s so much longing and desire for connection, for meaning, for purpose, for belonging. And that’s going to be built by us making commitments to each other and to things bigger than ourselves and then repeating them. There’s no magic sauce beyond that I know of. But what would you say, Breedlove?
CB: Yeah, I mean, I definitely was going to speak on the down ballot and the important — but I actually think you covered a lot of that part, Shapiro. I mean, I think a couple things. I think one is that this is going to sound super dry, but I [01:09:00] actually think it’s super important, we’re seeing more and more people, many of whom get no attention because people don’t think it’s very interesting, getting deep in their local and state budget allocations —
KS: Oh great.
CB: — of where their taxes go. I think that is so critical. I think if you think it’s dry consider what it would look like for those of us who’ve lived our whole lives or most of our lives in red states. Like, zero to five pre-K, that doesn’t exist for us. The idea that New York City does that, I don’t even know how many of my neighbors even know New York City has — that does not exist. That is completely aspirational. Thinking about if there was 35 more libraries, all this childcare, eldercare, there was community farms. That’s what a reinvigored tax space looks like, and just one note here in Phoenix. One of the things that Poder in Action, one of the local organizations here found when they surveyed, they’re one of the only organizations in the city that surveyed working class and working poor white people, [01:10:00] Latino people, and black people. People were really with that bite around changing the budget allocation in their district because people are super directly affected. And so thinking about that as world-building, like, we pay a ton of taxes, and more than a third go to militarization, and on a federal level but on a local and state. I actually think using the electoral opportunity to be like who’s going to get in there and support our fights for [project reallocation?] and taking money in our cities and states away from murdering people because they’re black, because they’re poor, because they have disabilities, and putting it into infrastructure is critical. And then the other thing, which is going to sound a little unrelated but I think is critical, I completely agree with the how do we kick the door open more, Shapiro. I think this is a moment of reckoning. And I also think, and this is purely on a nerd core, I’ve been having some conversations with people who are very recognized [01:11:00] scholars on Octavia Butler right now. I am not a scholar on Octavia Butler, but I am from the original nerd core of reading Octavia Butler when people were not feeling here.
KS: Oh yeah.
CB: And I think what’s super interesting about this time is that she is repeatedly quoted for the same things again and again, and she had a lot to say that is not very popular right now. And I think it’s super interesting to look at the things she talked about and the scenarios she set up. She did say God is change. She said everything that we change changes us. She also said kindness eases change. She said kindness eases change again and again, and kindness is not the same as rolling over, as being disingenuous, as giving into power as niceties. But she said after we kicked the door open let me fucking tell you something, people, kindness eases change. So after you kick, after you destroy things, you know, like, whether that’s relationships, whether that’s infrastructure, whether that’s structure, [01:12:00] like, and I’m going to quote our buddy, because she doesn’t get any love here in the US even though she’s brilliant Jelena Milos, who is a Croatian activist who’s a friend, I remember her saying y’all really predicting. Being like y’all are really into, like, your individual charismatic electoral folks you’re running who are feminist. That’s cute. What is the platform? How are you thinking about feminist governance, and what’s the role of kindness and compassion inside of that? Because she was like for us who actually lived through an ethnic cleansing and war where my uncle killed somebody’s daddy, you know, like, actually part of feminist governance is how do you actually find that, and how do you structurally put that in place? And I would say the thing about that, which I think relates to why I do the work I do now, is that I think she also set up scenarios again and again where people that you were led in her narratives to believe were good people did horrible things and [01:13:00] people who you knew were horrible, who you saw do 12 terrible things, did something that was transformative, critical, and life-saving at the end of a 600 page novel. And she was setting up again and again for this moment where you don’t — the good guys and bad guys dynamic, that’s real cute, you all. It’s real cute when you were sitting in a really fancy women’s studies classroom, frankly, but out here where we actually are, if everybody’s already been divided into the shrillest, purest, good guys and everyone else is voted off the island, right, I don’t see how we’re going to get where we need to go. And it’s an inconvenient fact right now, but we’re not going to get there with .00005 percent of like the army of the woke. I don’t see us getting there. Our work is actually with people. It’s not yelling at other people it’s actually with people where they’re at. And I think that’s powerful. And it’s transformative. And it’s a completely different conversation. Does that mean we roll over and we say oh, we don’t have a political line anymore? [01:14:00] No, it means we got to think about how we’re actually engaging people because it’s not as simple as that. It’s not as simple as that. And if it was as simple as representational politics, you know, we wouldn’t have so much harm done by people from so many different lived walks of life right now, you know. Unfortunately power corrupts people across the board. And so I think when I think about the possibilities in this moment, when I think about what people can actually do, it’s like where is the work grounded in the values and the world that we want to build? And that absolutely who are the folks embodying different lived experiences that are bringing wisdom to help us get there? But that’s not the same as like okay, you know, there’s only five of us, and if we just do what they said then we’re just replicating what I think is a fundamentally white patriarchal model of understanding someone else coming to save us, what they’re substituting in every time. That’s actually what’s exciting about this moment. People are like, I’m not waiting for you to tell me what to do. [01:15:03] I want to be on assignment, but I don’t want to be talked at all the time. And with that I will stop talking.
MA: You all have lived, you all have been in, and you all have studied. Specifically what struggle, what win, what experience of transformation toward life, justice, the unbelievable, what have you lived through or what experience of that gives you hope right now? What’s a story you can tell us that can remind us that we can win, that we can live and thrive? We being the broadest we.
KS: Whew. [01:16:00] That question is so beautiful, Macky, and that’s one that I want to sit on and simmer on because part of being in the ’rona is I do feel like my memory is a little garbled. So I just want to be honest about that. But I think having stared at Breedlove’s face for the last couple of hours, like, one of the things that’s making me remember is that video that SONG put out after we lost the amendment one fight.
CB: Oh yeah.
KS: And to say how you doing, to also say there’s so many random people that I don’t actually know that are friends of friends or friends that are like when I feel sad, when I feel lonely, when I feel depressed I go watch those old SONG videos you all made. And I’m like, are you kidding me? I’m like, word, that’s great, great, great. But like, whoa. [01:17:00]
CB: Because our (inaudible) was great then, Kate. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)
KS: To me (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) those were ways that we were trying to build an invitation into belonging and an articulation of some of our values and some of our trying to stay sturdy and be sturdy and keep going. But all of that is to say yeah, we made this video. I believe it was Breedlove’s idea, and the whole team, of course, made it happen after we lost the amendment one fight that Breedlove could talk about in much more detail, but essentially North Carolinians across the whole state organized in every of the hundred counties to oppose a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage and domestic partnerships and a whole bunch of other attacks on different communities. And our people worked their tails off not just doing the sort of [01:18:00] traditional kind of voter contact stuff but actually being like we want to have a million conversations on porches our way with our relationships with our scripts and inside of our context, right. And this is to me, there’s so many other examples even from Abrams, Abrams’s campaign to a million others, even (inaudible) of people being like no, no, we don’t think that electoral is the way. We’re not going to vote our way fully out of this empire. But what we can do is that we can engage this question of governance and resources and power and use this electoral cycle to find our people and actually be able to find our people at scale. I feel like some of the reasons why maybe the left has not done a lot of electoral work is because we’ve been ambivalent and/or scared of growing and of our people. We’re like, let’s keep it with our friends. All that is to say [01:19:00] 800,000, over 800,000 folks came to vote against that or vote for it, I’m sorry, that amendment. And then we ultimately lost but made a video, and we released it the day after knowing that folks were alone in their homes across the state, and not everybody could come to the party at the gay club, that was like let me tell you what we did though, everybody. Let me tell you how we did it and why we did it and why it matters and what it means. And I think that that also is so important in all the different ways. And Breedlove, if you want to speak more on that, because it is like also acknowledging people’s work and courage and sacrifice and reminding us of our timeline and reminding us [01:20:00] of the river of movement that we’re a part of, the broader trajectory and the broader team. That doesn’t change the reality that our elders who have been partnered for 40 years won’t be able to get into the hospital if their partner is ill. Like, doesn’t change the material conditions of all the nightmare of these rules that crush and kill our communities, but it does allow us to put ourselves in context and relationship.
CB: That was beautiful. I mean, I’m really happy to have that work lifted up again because it was again I think us taking the third space in the campaign route because we were told nationally that it was this huge lost and we lost 60-40. Well, when you talk about that in organizing and when you move more than 823,000 people on a Republican primary to your side, you’re actually like, it’s kind of saying to the rest of the progressive establishment in [01:21:00] North Carolina you’re welcome. Here you go. We delivered you the actual base you need to win a lot of other things. So that would be on the electoral nerdy side. I think that what comes up for me, which I think exists in relationship with that is I was thinking the other day, Shapiro, about the action that our folks did in South Carolina of cleansing, of washing white supremacy off the monuments there and off of the former slave market and how people treated that. People were like you’re work is ridiculous. People on the national level would go be like, it’s so stupid. What SONG is doing doesn’t make any sense. I’m glad you’re doing a little theater. Be you all’s selves. I’m glad you think that’s important. I took so much shit for that particular action. I didn’t even tell the staff how much people shit on us for that because it was too demoralizing. [01:22:00] And I think about that now, and I want to be like not even fuck you to individual people but like fuck you to that sentiment questioning the idea of what altars we worship at and what we have monuments too is not critical inside the consciousness. And anyone who’s saying that these monuments coming down is not important obviously doesn’t understand that the far right, particularly in the South, completely understand how impotent that is because that’s why they’re so upset about it. That’s why they’re so upset about it. That’s why it’s this huge thing. And so I think about how powerful it is to be in this time where the origins of those actions don’t even really — telling that story doesn’t really matter because it’s so far in the consciousness of so many people, primarily people under 30, that it is meaningful to remove those monuments that it ceases to matter how much our folks were like [01:23:00] laughed at for that because that’s how social change is. When you’re up there pressing on that line around the cultural, the spiritual, and the change of the physical conditions, and I think of all the shit our SONG people went through in South Carolina and are still going through, still fighting there now, hands down the hardest people, place I’ve supported organizing, harder than many other Southern states because the idea that white wealthy people own black people is so profoundly baked into the structure of so much of the state that it’s pure ownership. I think there’s so much to look at inside of that in terms of how that has given birth — what it means to stay with it in terms of transformative feminist change. And I actually, there was a piece in the New Yorker that came out yesterday about the Combahee River Collective that I think was so important because, no shade to (inaudible), [01:24:00] the other (inaudible) that the birth by primarily black dykes and really amazing black allies at a river in South Carolina of what eventually birthed that thinking, like, we have to go there, y’all. We have to go there to understand how we got here, I believe, because I think that if we’re not doing that then we don’t understand how visceral it actually is and how much like, yeah, yeah, it’s not going to make sense to a fundamentally white heteropatriarchal mind, which is not just about white straight men. That’s now who I’m talking about. I think there’s lots of folks living in that paradigm, frankly, who are elected officials on a national level of every single walk of life, right. I just think that piece is so profound about, like, the fact that we didn’t back down from that as a tactic in a time when it wasn’t even seen as a tactic, it was seen as some weird SONG shit, just some weird SONG shit, [01:25:00] I think is so powerful to look at what that actually means now. And the final thing I’ll say about that is, for folks who haven’t seen it, there’s some amazing images from the Southwest of indigenous people who are moving monuments here and dancing over where those monuments were that are directly inspired from what happened in the South. It’s so powerful to just see how those things interplay, and I just think the spiritual power becomes unstoppable at a certain moment regardless. It’s not about who it doesn’t make sense to anymore. It’s all about who it does make sense to, which is a profound and growing number of people of many lived experiences, you know.
LA: My God, that’s an amen. That is an amen. We have one last question for you beautiful humans. How do you practice joy now? [01:26:00]
KS: I can go.
LA: Okay, Kate.
KS: I’m glad there’s this final question. And I want to speak also to me, to my relationship with Breedlove too, bring it back to that Friends for Life theme is like, being raunchy, being funny, being inappropriate in the privacy of your own home, I think to me that helps fuel and refuel my own sense of joy. And so of course there’s a million of other things, like being on assignment actually gives me joy. And being able to know that I’m making a contribution gives me joy and that I’m trying [01:27:00] my best even though I know that I’m going to mess up every day and that that should be expected. But I do think right now it is around pleasure. I’m trying to get some booty. I’m hoping that that’s going to bring me some joy. It’s hard in the ’rona. Know what doesn’t bring me joy? Online dating, rough. (laughter) But yeah, I mean, I think to me it is the humor and being able to be silly and being able to be imperfect and knowing, to the first question, that people have your back in your imperfections, and they’re still here for it. What a blessing and what a gift that is.
LA: And I know, Caitlin, you have to go real soon to pick up your little one, so just quickly, [01:28:00] how do you practice joy now?
CB: (inaudible) too. It was actually funny you said that. I was definitely going to go with gay sex.
CB: Definitely still making sure I’m homosexual and staying in that because, you know, sometimes it gets hard after (inaudible) (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) but I was —
KS: She did threaten to not stay gay. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)
CB: Yeah, I threatened. Things have been hard enough in the past year or so that I may be threatening to have my sexuality (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). So I’m staying gay, but I do also think the piece about humor, because I’m such a heavy stone as a white (inaudible) lesbian Virgo (inaudible) as Shapiro well knows, that I do think there’s just so many times. Also I think that humor’s contagious. Like, Shapiro and I will just have times when we’re in a gay bar. People just start talking to us because we’re clearly having such a good time and think that we are [01:29:00] very funny or people will be like, wow, you two are really a pain in the ass. Or like, in a majority POC space, so like wow, who’s the two weird white people? But they’re funny and weird, and I think that there is, from us continuing to have that side, especially sometimes these days I feel a lot of pressure. I’m supposed to be serious, whatever. But I do think there’s really something about that plus antics, pranks. I think one of the last photographs that I have of me and Shapiro together was when we went to Flagstaff to conceptualize this curriculum we’ve been discussing. And you know, there was a snow fort with some photos inside of it. One night we decide that (inaudible) coded at a bar. Like, we had color-coded the whole thing in the most brilliant way, but unfortunately we had too many beers. The next day we were like, what does any of this mean? It meant nothing. I meant it was [01:30:00] nothing. You know, so I just feel like (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) relationships where you’re just really — you know, and you act out sometimes. I think that really keeps you in touch with the rest of the world who also acts out, just often pretends like they don’t. You’re like I’m an act-outer. Here I am. Still here. Still queer. Still doing it. So yup, I love that about you, Shapiro, really very few people (inaudible) pee-in-my-pants laughing as much as you do. So it just brings up like an oldie but a goodie. Oh, remember when we thought that was so funny for like two years, and we sat (inaudible) and then we forgot about it? And now we’re back, and every morning we say duder. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) Duder. Not quite caffeinated, what’s up? What are we doing today?
CB: Really weird.
KS: Yeah, funny but sad.
LA: All right, cuties. We have a special thing that Macky and I like to say to every one [01:31:00] and to say to our listeners as the way to close us out. It’s a quote by one of our beloveds, Winnie the Pooh. So here we go. If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together —
MA: There’s something you must always remember.
LA: You are braver than you believe.
MA: Stronger than you seem.
LA: And smarter than you think.
MA: But the most important thing is —
LA: Even if we’re apart —
MA: I’ll always be with you.
LA: I’ll always be with you.
MA: You all, it is such a kindness to let us know your love for one another. Just watching you on this Zoom call, you’re being in love is such a beyond beautiful thing to behold. So thanks for being friends for life with each other, and thanks for sharing that friendship.
LA: Thank you so much. We love you.
KS: We loved it. It was so great.
CB: So fun.
LA: Yeah. [01:32:00]
CB: So much love. Take care everybody.
LA: Queer love is a thing.
KS: (inaudible) you better believe it.
MA: (inaudible) That’s our show, y’all. So for more info about Kate and Caitlin, for the links to that video they were talking about, a bunch of the campaigns they’re running, all kinds of stuff about monuments and the like, also things you can do and get involved with, both through Auburn, through Women’s March, through SONG, check us out at auburnseminary.org or go to us on the socials of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. And you know we want to hear what you thought, so email us at [email protected]
LA: It was a joy to be with you today, Macky. It was more than I could have imagined to listen to Kate and Caitlin just drop all of the knowledge and to keep us in [01:33:00] love with what it means to embrace queerness and social justice. I’m excited about what we just did, and I’m really excited for next month.
MA: Sometimes you don’t see the folks behind the show. And we love these folks with all our heart and might. And we thank the folks who made this show possible. We want to thank the people who made it but also the people who made it possible. Auburn as well as The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation are the folks who have given us the resource we need to make this show.
LA: Yes, and the friends for life who produced it, along with Macky and me, are Courtney Weber Hoover, Sharon Groves, and David Beasley, so a thousand thanks, a thousand hugs and kisses to them for all of their hard work and also with the audio [01:34:00] engineering from Dan Greenman and the editing of the podcast, which was done by Macky and David.
MA: Thanks, y’all. We love you. Come say hi to us.
LA: Come say hi. (laughter)