S2 – Episode 3 – Friends for Life
Laughter is crucial, especially in uncertain times! Malachi Garza, movement strategist and beacon of humor, talks with us about what it means to lean into humor and laughter during hard times. We explore the audacity of being, here, alive and joyful in the midst of oppression, and the necessity of surrendering control and centering joy. Other topics include exploring sadness as a way of showing up for yourself and the idea that maybe safety is found in opening up, not building walls. Plus, hear the tale of the speakeasy and the Count Chocula cocktail! Follow our ‘Friends For Life: Songs Getting Us Through’ Playlist
Our Guest Today:
Malachi Garza (he/they/them) is currently the Organizing Director at Solidaire working on the frontlines of movements for racial, gender, and climate justice. Previously, Malachi served worked as Senior Strategist and CJNY National Network Director at the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Malachi’s work in popular education and community organizing–including work he has done bridging religious and LGBTQ communities–spans over 25 years.
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LISA ANDERSON: Welcome to the Friends for Life podcast. My name is Lisa Anderson.
MACKY ALSTON: And I’m Macky Alston.
LA: And we are beloved friends and co-conspirators, interviewing other friends and co-conspirators.
MA: Thanks for being with us as we explore the ways in which friendship helps us create a world of love and justice.
LA: So, welcome friends. Welcome, everyone. This is the third episode of our second season of Friends for Life. And today, we are delighted, extra, extra special delighted, to welcome Malachi Garza, one of our beloveds. I say extra, extra special delighted for everyone, but it’s true every week. I’m just letting you know, it’s true every week.
MALACHI GARZA: I’ll take it, I’ll take it.
LA: So, Malachi is currently the organizing [00:01:00] director of Solidaire, a community of donor organizers that works on the front lines of movements for racial, gender, and climate justice. Malachi also works in popular education and community organizing, including work that he has done on bridge-building in religious communities and LGBT communities, and his portfolio is like 25 years old, even though Malachi’s just a young one. And so, I want to welcome Malachi, I want to welcome you into this conversation, by starting off with a little story I know about you and about what inspired us to want to talk to you, besides the fact that we love you dearly. Do you remember a couple of years ago when I was in San Francisco, it was you, me, and it was Sharon Groves, our buddy, Sharon Groves, and you took us to a bar in the Tenderloin? [00:02:00] I don’t even remember the name of the bar, anymore.
MG: It was a speakeasy. There was really no name.
LA: Okay. You couldn’t see anything from the outside and you had to get the key, they had to unlock the place to let us in, and then we were in this whole wonderful world. And what I loved about it, besides the fact that the cocktails were serious and insane, because they were, was it told me everything that I sort of suspected about you from the beginning. The cocktails, I remember you got one that was cereal based, and you had to pick the Count Chocula or whatever from the wall of flavors in the bar. And everything was custom-made, so the bartender asked a little bit about you and then created this beautiful thing that was a reflection of who you are. [00:03:00] And then, you brought us back into another part of the bar where there was serious community organizing and community give back work that was happening in this bar. And the thing I loved about the experience and what it told me about you was the heart for joy, and playfulness, and lightness, and love, and also the heart for the people, because we learned real stuff about life in the Tenderloin about what was hard and then also about where there was hope and where people were not laying down, but where they were standing up for folk. And I couldn’t let this podcast go by without saying that kind of combination of “I’m a love you, I’m a laugh with you, I’m a tell you the history, and then we’re all going to get down to work together,” [00:04:00] that’s why I love you.
MG: Oh, wow. Beautiful.
LA: And so, we’ve got lots of questions but we always start off with what we think is the delight question, the joy question. So, what flavor delights you? What flavor is delighting you right now, Malachi Garza?
MG: Geez. Well, thank you for that lovely introduction, that story, that just fills me with so much joy. And I would say this coffee with chicory in it right now is really doing it for me. This is from Cafe Du Monde in French Quarter, in New Orleans, and shout out to my family in New Orleans, Baton Rouge. And it not only reminds me a little bit of family and a [00:05:00] home feeling, but there is something so delicious about waking up to something warm, and delicious. So, I’m over here trying to get it together, baby, on my second or third cup of coffee trying to get right for you all. So, I think this delicious, deep, dark espresso with something in it is really doing it for me.
LA: I love that.
MA: So, Malachi, you know this work is hard. The times are hard. And on this podcast, we focus on the need for us to befriend one another to make it through these kinds of times, and also this kind of work. So, what does it mean for you in these times, both personally, and relationally, and socially, and politically, to lean into a gift that you really do in a unique [00:06:00] and super beautiful way? What does it mean to lean into the gift of levity, of humor, of joy?
MG: Wow, these are great questions. Such a great question, and in a highly politicized context, I just really enjoy you all pulling this out. I think for me, what I know is true is a constant state of suffering. I know what it is to be constantly sad and to have a reality where, we were just discussing before we pushed play, our loved ones who are in decades-long struggles with serious addiction, where people [00:07:00] don’t have enough food. I am looking at moving to my hometown because we cannot breathe outside three to four months a year. So, I mean, the conditions are so severe, and I think to me there is this beautiful — it’s both a beautiful resistance in being able to smile, and to laugh, and to love, that is like the biggest “Eff you” to capitalism, to white supremacy, to homophobia. These things want to ground us into dust, and then sell that dust for some profit. And to be able to basically say, “You know what? You can bleep, bleep, bleep my bleep, bleep, bleep.” That fills me with joy. There is something about telling people that want to kill us, “Eff you to your face.” There is a strength in that. And there’s also, [00:08:00] I think I love unabashed hope and resiliency. Part of it is when I’ve been so low, and a child who’s like, “I don’t know where I’m going to go, I don’t have shit, or even (inaudible) taken care of me,” all the way to the ridiculousness of being able to pay off my bills and have something. Life has been so wondrous and unexpected. There’s something that I just hold onto in the audacity of the fact that we are still here, and that one way or another, we’re going to win. It might not be in my lifetime, the big W, but small W’s, I’m going to take them along the way. And there’s something that feels absolutely — I’m trying to really check my ableist language these days, so I don’t want to say insane, or crazy, but there is something in surrender where [00:09:00] for me, when I really understand, I as a person cannot change all of these conditions. I can do my part. I can do a lot of freaking good. But overall, I am not in control. There’s something to me about releasing control and releasing the super tight, I think it’s Eurocentric, the professional, the academic, you know everything, you can control everything, you have all the answers, I honestly believe none of us really know what the fuck we’re doing, or what’s going on. Like, we’re making it through the best we can. But to me, there’s something in the surrender of, I cannot control. My loved one’s addicted to crack. I cannot control the fact that millions of people are starving or the mines are exploding all over the world, and the ecological disasters. In that surrender to me is [00:10:00] a deeply spiritual space. And it’s a deep space full of joy. And it almost feels like, when I’m in that real space, I feel like I’ve gone over the cliff of sanity into something else. That’s an ultimate spiritual surrender, that’s like, “I can do what I can do and be in right relationship and be a reflection of my God, and that is all I can do.” And it’s unabashedly ridiculous. The joy and the release in that, it fills me with laughter and joy.
LA: Oh my God. Okay, so everything made sense. Everything made sense. (laughs)
MA: You know this podcast considers friendship as necessary, and a saving grace, and a benefit, [00:11:00] and a strategy, but mostly, just a flower of movement work, or spiritual commitments, though sometimes it’s got thorns. So, I wonder if after that beautiful reflection on the audacity of joy and levity, how it relates to friendship for you.
MG: Interesting. I definitely agree that I think friendship, big F, and friendship little F, and by big F, I’m not sure if it’s a trauma response, or it’s just human nature, but I’ve been so many political circles and experiments where, basically, people want to sound the smartest, have the right line, and be on the woke island. And it means that we’re there with seven to 10 friends. [00:12:00] In the United States, a mass organization is 100 people. Internationally, they’re like, “What is that, like, a family? What are you talking about?” And we have this propensity to, I think, want to protect our sense of safety and self, and also righteousness, and being correctness, and all the things, and there’s so much judgment there, and also rejection and other things. And I think that you actually have to open up to joy to have the big F friendship where you can actually have a big tent with thousands of people, because you’re going to have people that disagree on a lot of things. We’re on the same team, even though you may not recycle the same, or even remember my right pronoun, or even agree on, I don’t know, [00:13:00] we could go more serious, like gun control or something, right? We have lefties who are like, “Bang, bang,” and other lefties who are like, “Peace in the streets, no weapons ever.” And we actually have all this extreme difference, but we actually are on the same side, on the freedom side, and on the train of liberation. And I think if we can’t center joy in how we understand each other as being really different, then we are totally fucked. We need to be able to rock together as friends with people who are really different than us and be able to understand our commonality as a sense of joy, and wonder, and learning, and special, instead of rejection, you get kicked off the island, an army of us is going to be four people. So, there’s that. And then, in personal relationship, I think [00:14:00] probably my dearest friend in the world, [Malcia Debouch Siril?], that we’ve been friends — we were just talking, we met in an elevator, I think, when we were 19 years old in some political building in San Francisco. And we were going down the elevator to both smoke a cigarette. And by the time we finished smoking a cigarette, we were BFFs, and we were like, “We have to hang out, man, you’re so funny and cool.” And I’ve been reflecting on the journey of friendship with Mack, because they are brilliant, and we are aligned, and we are so similar. And our relationship has taken work over the years, and ability to see each other’s faults, and where we are hard to be friends with, and where we are easy, and stay in together, and readjust our expectations, and as we grow, what hole we fill in each other’s lives, all of it has had to keep being malleable. But the joy in staying in together is so intensely, [00:15:00] overwhelmingly, amazing. And the lightness that I get from them, and hearing their laughter, this squealy, “I can’t breathe,” when they really, really think something’s funny it’s a (inaudible) and to me, it’s like a sound of Heaven. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world. And I think that I’ve been reflecting a lot on what friendships I want to spend the most time with or prioritize. I think when we get 40-plus, I’m like, “Okay, I’m tired. I can’t do three hang outs in a night. I’m not going to stay up until 3:00.” I am more focused on what I want to spend my time on the work, and in my life, and in my relationships. And I think about the friendships that feed me back, as well as I feed them or I feed it. [00:16:00] And the joy that Mack reflects back to me and their laughter and the way we laugh together and the lightness and the ease there is really part of what makes me feel not alone in this world. And it sustains me in doing this work. And the political work that we can do together because of all of that is quite amazing.
LA: We actually were going to ask you in a little bit about who you laugh with and you already gave us an insight of Malcia. They are amazing. I got the pleasure of being on a panel with them once, and I have not ever told them this, but I forgot everything that I had written down to say because when they started reflecting, all I wanted to do was to be in their thought universe. It’s like, [00:17:00] “Wherever you want the conversation to go, that is where it will go.” But I love the description of who you will laugh with. And the thing I also heard inside of that, the commitment that your befriending requires, and the acknowledgement of our vulnerability as humans. The fact that we have to make the commitments, and that we are vulnerable, and that we will stick together through the work of it. Because I think inside the work is where you see, “Oh, that’s their breaking point, or that’s my breaking point, or that’s my sore space,” or whatever it is, and how are we going to navigate this movement through? Can you say a little bit about [00:18:00] when you’ve chosen that navigation? Because I think, inside, we choose it, and then sometimes we choose to say, “No, this friendship ends.” What’s the difference between the endings, and the folks that we decide, “The commitment was for a season, and now this is a new season?”
MG: Yes, these are great questions. I think two things come to mind. One is, I have started to have, I think, better boundaries. I never had a boundary before, I think I’m starting to learn them. And I am starting to pay attention to folks who maybe I’m pouring into, and I just feel like there’s not as much coming back, [00:19:00] and there’s just not a lot of presence. I’ve got friends of all kinds of different stripes. I think sometimes I have understood, “Oh, your relationship to maybe this substance is your primary love, and a filter in which you come toward me through. I understand if that works for you but I’m looking for something different. I need something more than that, or different than that.” And just as an example, I think I’ve started to understand that it’s okay to say no to hanging out with people, or to sticking in, and that if I’m not necessarily getting a lot out of it, it’s really okay for me to sunset it. [00:20:00] It doesn’t mean I have to grenade the thing or blow it up, but I have started using my “no” a lot more. And I think when something is draining, my flags are hearing from someone and getting the feeling that I’m never enough for them. They have an insatiability to be held, or satiated, or listened to, or whatever it is, and realizing, “Oh, I am an over sharer. I’m an over shore upper, I’m an over giver,” and I think I have realized with some folks I have a giant red flag and it’s like, “Oh, I’m never enough for you. I’m never a good enough friend. I’m never showing up enough.” And then I’m like, “Wait a minute, boo, I went and bought your groceries, and then I braided your mom’s hair, and then I washed your fucking feet, so what are [00:21:00] we talking about?” So, I think starting for myself to define, what do I feel like is enough? What do I feel like is showing up in a good and righteous way? And when people need more, to say, “Okay, I can’t do that. But I hope you can get that.” So, that’s a red flag for me. And then, sometimes people thing — and maybe this happens to you all because you’re a political person, you’ve been in the movement a long time, you can just do anything or fix anything, so they’re like, “I just know what needs to happen for racial justice to happen,” and then, “Why won’t people do it? Get me money or help me make a nonprofit or help me do this thing.” And you’re like, “This is kind of like a nascent point. What you’re saying does not even equal what you think it does. [00:22:00] I can’t do that for you.” And I think sometimes people want others to implement their vision or their dreams for them. And it’s been big learning lesson for me of, people are responsible for their own happiness, and their own dreams. And as a friend, you can flank them, you can support them, but you can’t do it for them. And so, I’ve been really watching giving too much away of myself, and like, wow, I have an evening just to read or do nothing? It feels bourgeoise, like decadence. I’m like, “Wow, I can just do that.” And so, I think those are some flags that come to mind. And then, when you know that it’s in when you’re in, it reminds me of the love of my life, I just love her to death, Alicia Garza, [00:23:00] many of you guys know her. And we always had a commitment to build a friendship, and a love, and an intimacy, primary, period. And the vehicle of that, the formation of that could shift and could morph, but that if we’re doing this love thing right and this joy thing right, that we’ll be able to stay in beautiful relationship, and that intimacy is what’s actually the goal. And I think having us transition from a marriage, to be very heteronormativity, like a partnership of that kind, and treat each other so well within it. And nobody created a bunch of pain to make a painful decision. And to understand, we’re better in right relationship, in a different type of formation. It allows us to love more. It oxygenates our life in a way we want and need. It allows our l[00:24:00] love to grow of self more. To watch her treat me so well in that process, to watch the kindness and the compassion, and the way that we sat with our decision and didn’t even tell anyone for months, and just, “How does this feel? What do we need in this?” before even turning it up to the public for the vultures of the public, often. And when someone is willing to sit through a painful situation with you that maybe isn’t even external, so just holding me when my grandma died, but it’s like, this thing between us is hard. And when someone treats you so well within that, then for me, it’s like, “Green light, baby. We’re going to be in this for lifetime.” And so, I think about Alicia when I think about so clearly understanding something’s worth it and staying in, [00:25:00] because you treat each other so well, and with so much care, and you treat your intimacy like it is a million, billion dollars, and it’s everything. And you still can sit in hard stuff and figure that out. You can still sit in sadness, or anger. That, to me, is just the most beautiful example I can think of in that way.
LA: I have things. (laughs) And I want to respect the fact that my tendency in these conversations is to leap right in, and Macky’s is to ruminate. So many things came up when we were talking. I had two, and please choose from the two. One was, I wanted to know, who have been your teachers? And the other was, you’ve hinted at it, [00:26:00] what has befriending yourself looked like, or has it looked like? And I have to say, I follow you on all the platforms that you’re on, but especially IG, and so, I watch you with your puppy. And watching you two together makes me feel like, “That’s Malachi loving this creature, but this is Malachi loving Malachi.” So, who were your teachers and how do you befriend you?
MG: That’s interesting. My teachers? Someone that’s coming to mine actually is, I call her the big boss, but she’s my boss at Solidaire, Vini Bhansali. And I love so many things about her, I don’t know if you’ve [00:27:00] ever had a boss that works harder than you, but I’m like, “Wow, this is crazy.” And she is super smart, super hard-working, super principled, but also super full of lightness, and joy. And she’s like, “Here’s a key to my house, come over and use my hot tub anytime.” I had a date early on, a couple months ago, and I was like, “I don’t know how to do this dating thing. I’ve been married for 17 years.” And she’s like, “Come over and use my hot tub. I’ll put some cigars by the hot tub for you.” And I was just like, “Wow, you are so seriously badass. And you so can command the attention of people who are moving millions, and garner that respect, and they know that they can invest it with you, and you will do right by it,” and just to have that level of [00:28:00] fortitude, and that thing. And then also, so understanding and prioritizing of people’s joy and their actual lives and their wellness that the way that she runs staff is, people first, relationships first, the work will get done. And I’m a political head, and to hold the amount of rigor and get stuff done-ness and hardcore organizing, as well as super gay, fantabulous, ride a unicorn pony in the hot tub, smoking a cigar-ness, I’m like, “Yes, this is the promised land of my organizational life.” And so, I just feel she has taught me a lot about, sometimes I feel because I’m pretty counterhegemonic, or I’m not the one who’s going to — I like making jokes in the meeting, and I like swearing in the [00:29:00] meeting, and I like people breastfeeding on camera, and I like it when you eat on camera. That realness and authenticity, I think, as an organizer, to me, it’s magical sauce. And that you can still command the respect of people who are super square bears, and who are holding and leveraging millions, and very uptight, button-tight, old guard, traditional in that way, I think she’s taught me a lot about being in a forward stance with your joy, and your taking care of people first does not even undercut you to reach that level of bossery. And as a January Capricorn, I aspire to that level of bossery, but I also am a flaming homosexual, and want to do the things that are sparkly and bring joy to my life. And I want it all. I want it all. [00:30:00] And she shows me you can. It’s amazing there. And I think — should I just pick one or should I go to befriending?
LA: Well, if you have another that feels burning, we’ve got some time.
MG: The one thing I will say about the befriending thing is, I think being someone who really loves joy and loves connection, I find so much salve in those, I have had to break through some of my growing edges, allow myself to be sad, and to be lonely in a way that I have had a real aversion to. My good friends know that throughout out my twenties and thirties, I would schedule two to three hangouts every day. I would often have overlapping hangouts. Part of my growing edge would be not showing up on time, [00:31:00] ever, for my friends because I’m coming across town because I was just with another friend, just packing my social calendar so hard. And I think part of that is running away from the things that are kind of sad, and from those feelings. And I think as I’m thinking about moving from my hometown, right now I’m in North Carolina talking to you all, and I’m with my family, and we’re looking at houses out here. And maybe yesterday, it was just like, “Oh my God, I feel all of these feelings of loneliness, and sadness, and fear,” and I feel like to feel them is maturing me, in a strange way. And I feel like it’s me showing up for myself to be like, “You’re still going to be okay. You’re not going to be an abandoned child. You’re not going to be destitute. Milk cartons are not going to be your chair, [00:32:00] and your table, and the floor’s not going to be your bed, whatever happens. And your friends are here, and in this weird COVID world, our beloveds are scattered all over. And not going to be alone, and not going to be abandoned. And I feel like I’m starting to befriend myself more and more in actually allowing myself to feel that stuff. It’s a weird answer but it feels so important to me, right now.
MA: It’s funny. The question that surfaced for me when you were talking about boundaries made me want to ask you, has there ever been a time when you’ve been so down, when you’ve been so in need, that you couldn’t get to joy? Because when you were telling the story of the friends who were insatiable, I know that insatiability, right? And I have a heart for the moments in life like that. [00:33:00] And so, I know that when you were a kid, you were living on the street, and yet, you’ve got this faith in what’s possible. You say, “We’re going to win.” You know we’re going to win. Maybe not in my lifetime, and an access to joy. So, I guess my question is, was there ever a time when you just didn’t have that access? Was that something that grew in you? And so, when Lisa asked questions about teachers and befriending self, they resonated with me because I wanted to know a little bit about your journey.
MG: You know, I think that what I feel really lucky about or blessed by is that even when I’ve been so down, I’ve had someone who’s been there, even if it was — [00:34:00] I remember being that homeless kid and my punk-rock friend Stan. And Stan was an asshole. Stan was brown, but lightweight racist. Stan was self-hating. Stan was a cutter. He used to take so many pills. I’d be like, “Dude, you’re going to overdose.” And he’s like, “It’s fine, I take 17 Aleve every day.” He just was really wild. He was mean to his mom, which I hated, and he had a room that was full of trash. But even having mean punk-rock Stan there as a one friend who happened to be staying, also, on this rooftop, I think for me, maybe it’s one reason I never left my hometown, is if I feel like there’s just one person that I’m in connection with, then I’m not all the way alone. And honestly, even if they’re harming me, I will stay. And it’s not a [00:35:00] good thing, always, but I will fucking stay, and I will take it because I need that lifeline so bad. And so, for me, I think if there’s anyone who even is sharing a destitute rooftop with me, and is totally an asshole, there’s something that’s an energetic lifeline to the creation source that I feel like is still there and I can still see, and that there’s a possibility there and I’m not totally cut off. And so, I think I have not maybe reached a place where I have had no joy or not that lifeline because I have chosen to stay what I felt connected to, even if I was being abused to have it. It’s fucked up, I’m saying oh my God, this is the real podcast.
LA: So, this morning before I came to work, [00:36:00] I was listening to Patrice Cullors talk about her new book, The Abolition’s Handbook. And when you were talking about staying because of the lifeline even if the situation has abuse in it, it made me think, what’s the healing work that we have to do that doesn’t cut that lifeline, that actually acknowledges that there’s life there? It seems to go back to what you said about being on the woke island, that how do we build this a way where they’re safe enough, there’s safety for Malachi, there’s the lifeline, that the lifeline stays there, and you don’t push — I forget his name now, [00:37:00] but you don’t push Stan off the side of the building, because that’s the only way that you can make a way for Malachi, or me, or for Macky, or for anyone, because you deny the lifeline, and the way that we get it in a punishment and society is, you cut it off. You break it, you kill it, you destroy it. And it feels you’re saying, “No, there’s something.” Your vulnerabilities said, “No, but wait, if you kill that, it’s not like that is a thing. There’s life there.” That’s what I felt when you said that.
MG: Yeah, that’s beautiful. Yeah, it’s this question to me of what makes us safe? And sometimes all the pain and suffering of [00:38:00] this world, it’s like, “Cut everything off and hunker down and build the biggest walls as possible and have all the guns ever, and that’s what makes you safe.” And there’s a counter truth that actually says, “Safe is community. Safe is connection. Safe is opening up and is allowing more in.” And I think that our society is faced with these choices more and more these days. And I think you’re right, in an idea around abolition, when there is harm or when there is abuse or things that are wrong, how do we seek accountability and restoration without destroying someone, and without getting absolutism? Sometimes you need to — [00:39:00] there is, remove the situation, remove the person, let’s hang that. But I do believe that if we believe everyone is sacred, then there is sanctity, even in the most vicious of situations. And we could figure out how to keep people in safe in that, and how to have all those things. But we are really quick to drop the axe, and to boot someone in a million ways than one. So, yeah. I’m feeling your feeling me. (laughter)
LA: Oh, my God, yes. And when you’re saying that, there’s that part of me that’s like, “Absolutely. Life, all of us are sacred,” and it’s hard to imagine how we make the healing spaces. [00:40:00] But I’m foolish enough to believe that the hunkering down is not going to get it. And yeah, it’s just not going to get it.
MG: That’s true.
MA: There’s something about practicing Heaven on Earth that’s surfacing for me in this conversation, from the beginning of the story about the bar — I want to go to that speakeasy and cereal cocktails and the organizing room in the back — or the promised land of your organizational life, with your teacher friend with the hot tub and the cigars, and beautiful bossery. What I’ve loved about this conversation is, there are [00:41:00] tensions, right? You can’t be friends with everybody. And some people want to be friends with you in ways that don’t work for you. And so, there is some separation, or distance. And then, at the same time, we hold your uncut cord with Stan, and look, if this were simple math, then we wouldn’t be chewing on it, and chewing on it, and chewing on it, but there is some kind of Heaven logic. And I’ve got to say, when I talk to you, I hear this language this faith-y language, and then I’m like, “Oh yeah, he was evangelical. He had that before it all. That’s where it all started.” [00:42:00] And I like the unapologetic way in which you take that. You possess that. And it is also sustaining, not only for you, but for all you inspire. So, I just want to celebrate you in this moment, your beauty, the friendship you give, even just through this conversation, as you said, to the thousands, but also in the moment because, we talk about friends for life, but that doesn’t have to mean until you die. It can mean for the life of this moment, right here, right now. That generosity doesn’t have to come with monogamy, or permanence. It’s that great. [00:43:00] It’s that spacious, and it’s that abundant. All right, we’ve got one more question.
MG: Okay, I’m going to take our picture, throw it on my IG.
LA: Oh, you’re going to take a picture?
MG: I’m taking a picture of us taking a picture. Okay. (laughs)
MA: So, we start with joy, we end with joy. And in asking this question, to some degree, we want to offer or lift up some things that anybody can tune into to access some joy, some specific joy. So of course, I tipped it off. What song is getting you through right now, Malachi?
MG: Oh, what song? What is it, the Free Nationals? I am obsessed with — let me get my Spotify right now — yeah, the Free Nationals. Anything off of this album 2019, Beauty & Essex. But basically, this whole album is my newest obsession. [00:44:00] It’s soulful. It’s groovy. It’s just awesome.
LA: Every week I find this question because we three answer it, such a challenge, and then I just have to come clean. So, I’ve been listening to way more podcasts than I have to music, lately. And so, there are two, but I’ll save one for next week. The podcast that is getting me through is called “Sibling Rivalry,” and it is with Bob the Drag Queen, and Monet Exchange. And I love listening to these two Black, queer, just marvelous human beings tell the Blackest stories. They’re funny. They’re [00:45:00] friends. And apropos of this conversation, they’ve fought on the air. They’ve struggled with the things that they struggle with on the air. One comes from a Christian, what is it, Jamaican background. The other grew up Christian and is like “I have nothing to do with that anymore,” so it’s sort of like Friends for Life if we were drag queens. (laughter)
MG: What’s the name of it?
LA: It’s called “Sibling Rivalry.”
MG: I love that. Awesome.
MA: All right, my offering is, I love this question, too, because I start by thinking, “I don’t know, I don’t know,” and then I go to my Spotify, I think, “Oh,” and then, the song has actually been talking right into this conversation. So, I guess, two nights ago, a friend has been staying with us, and we were celebrating the fact that she’s going down to spend time with family in [00:46:00] North Carolina. And so, we were playing some music and this song came up and we just went silent because it was saying everything. And it’s a song by Allison Russell, who is this Black Canadian singer, and the song is called “Joyful Motherfuckers.” It’s such a beautiful song. And the deal with this album is that it’s her response to childhood abuse in her family. And the song is this just outcry from that space, “Where in the world are the joyful motherfuckers?” And then she describes the necessity of that moment on the roof with Stan, you can’t be there by yourself, we need each other to survive, [00:47:00] but it’s also just beautiful music. It’s music that just makes you sway, and also thank God for the music.
MG: Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, thank you all for having me. I’m going to take with me today this concept of Heaven on Earth. And to me, that is friends, and is laughter, and love, and brevity, and even in our suffering, being able to smile, and eat something delicious, and still feel is a victory, and is a win. And you all have really brought that into my life today. I really appreciate it.
LA: Oh, thank you so much, Malachi.
MA: Malachi, you said that Malcia’s laughter is the sound of Heaven. That’s how we feel about you.
LA: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
MG: More soon. [00:48:00]
LA: More soon. Oh, my God. I can’t wait until I can hug you in the flesh. Thanks for being with us today. We’ll see you next month as we continue to explore the ways in which friendship helps us to create a world of love and justice.
MA: We want to send you out with the words of Winnie the Pooh.
LA: 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, even if we’re apart.
LA: I’ll always with you.
MA: I’ll always be with you.
LA: We’ll always be with you.
MA: We’ll always be together.
LA: (laughs) Something like that. (laughter)