Episode 54: Moving on from Gendered Violence and Becky Hammon Gets An Interview
On this week’s show, Amira, Shireen, Jessica, and Brenda talk about two sexual assault cases (Oregon State and Detroit Lions) that are in the news even though the cases themselves are years, even decades, old. They discuss about when, or maybe if, there is a time to move on.
Then they break down all the noise around reports that Becky Hammon will interview for the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coaching position, the first woman to ever do so.
Finally, Amira interviews Theresa Runstedtler, Professor of History at American University, about her time as a dancer for the Toronto Raptors, and her views on recent reports about exploitation and equity issues concerning NFL Cheerleaders.
Of course, we cap it off by burning things that deserve to be burned, doing shout outs to women who deserve shout outs, and telling y’all what is good in our worlds.
Intro (2:26) Gender Violence (20:21) Becky Hammon (31:22) Amira interviews Theresa Runstedtler (51:23) Burn Pile (1:01:24) Bad Ass Woman of the Week (1:04:36) What’s Good (1:08:48) Outro
For links and a transcript…
“He Was Convicted of Molesting a 6-Year Old. Should He Have a Future in Baseball?” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/07/sports/luke-heimlich-sex-crime.html
“Lions’ Patricia indicted, not tried in ’96 sex assault” https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2018/05/09/matt-patricia-indicted-sex-assault/34742627/
“Bill Belichick, Patriots Claim Ignorance in Matt Patricia Allegations” https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2018/05/11/belichick-patriots-patricia-assault/
“Matt Patricia emphatic in defense against 1996 sexual assault charge” http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23462321/matt-patricia-detroit-lions-coach-emphatic-defense-previous-aggravated-sexual-assault-indictment
“Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna charged with assault by Toronto police” https://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/blue-jays-closer-roberto-osuna-charged-assault-toronto-police/
“Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays, and the Limits of Presuming Innocence” https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/roberto-osuna-the-blue-jays-and-the-limits-of-presuming-innocence/
“A woman will interview for NBA head coaching job for the first time” https://thinkprogress.org/becky-hammon-nba-e4c5e11729f5/
“An Open Letter About Female Coaches” https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/pau-gasol-becky-hammon
“Shit-For-Brains Columnist Says Existence Of Misogyny Should Prevent Becky Hammon From Being Hired, Unless For “Marketing”” https://deadspin.com/shit-for-brains-columnist-says-existence-of-misogyny-sh-1825984902
“Don’t Fault Becky Hammon’s Experience: Most NBA Coaches Never Played In The NBA, Either” https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidberri/2018/05/07/becky-hammon-never-played-in-the-nba-just-like-most-nba-coaches/#24ba25db6777
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arike Ogunbowale both voted off ‘Dancing With the Stars’ on Monday” https://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/nba/bucks/2018/05/07/abdul-jabbar-ogunbowale-voted-off-dancing-stars/589018002/
“Jim Harbaugh Reveals Who Paid for Michigan Football Team’s Trip to France” https://www.12up.com/posts/6049275-jim-harbaugh-reveals-who-paid-for-michigan-football-team-s-trip-to-france
“Peru slams blackface skit of soccer star on FOX Sports” https://www.reuters.com/article/fox-peru-skit/peru-slams-blackface-skit-of-soccer-star-on-fox-sports-idUSL1N1SI02G
“Wilmington College Mourns Loss of Volleyball Freshman Lauryn Griewahn” http://wilmingtonquakers.com/general/2017-18/releases/20180423e5cudq
“Argentine Viviana Vila Set for World Cup Commentator Role on Telemundo” https://www.si.com/tech-media/2018/05/08/viviana-vila-telemundo-fifa-world-cup-2018-analyst
“Fran Kirby insists Chelsea Ladies want to win all the time” http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11668/11366989/fran-kirby-insists-chelsea-ladies-want-to-win-all-the-time
“Kylia Carter’s Speech Against The NCAA Model Got Right To The Point” https://deadspin.com/kylia-carters-speech-against-the-ncaa-model-got-right-t-1825826893
Jessica: Hello flamethrowers, Jessica here, with a quick note that in the first segment of the show we discuss multiple cases of gendered violence, including sexual assault, and domestic violence. This is a content note for people who need it. The segment begins just after the two minute mark, and last for about 18 minutes. You can find exact timestamps in the description of the show.
Jessica: Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. We are so happy you’re here. On today’s show we have the hardworking, Amira Rose Davis and Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University. The excellent, Shireen Ahmed, writer, public speaker and sports activist in Toronto.
The brilliant Brenda Elsey, an Associate Professor of History at Hofstra who is currently in Argentina on a Fulbright. And me, I’m Jessica Luther, freelance journalist and author in Austin, Texas.
First we want to give a shout out to all our patrons who are supporting this podcast through our ongoing Patreon campaign. You make Burn It All Down possible and we are forever and always grateful. If you would like to become a patron, it’s easy. Got to Patreon dot com slash Burn It All Down. You can pledge as little as one dollar per month but if you donate a little bit more, you can access exclusives like an extra Patreon only podcast segment each month or a monthly newsletter.
For this month’s Patreon only segment, we talk about the NBA and NHL playoffs, so sign up at Patreon today so you don’t miss out.
On today’s show we’re going to discuss two sexual assault cases that are in the news even though the cases themselves are years and even decades old, and talk about when or maybe if there is a time to move on. Then we’ll talk about all the noise around reports that Becky Hammon will interview for the Milwaukee Bucks head coaching position, the first woman to ever do so.
Finally, Amira interviews Theresa Runstedtler, a Professor of History at American University, about her time as a dancer for the Toronto Raptors and her views on recent reports on exploitation and equity issues concerning NFL cheerleaders.
Of course, we’ll cap it off by burning things that deserve to be burned, doing shout outs to women who deserve shout outs and telling you what is good in our worlds. And now onto the show.
Gendered violence in sports has once again been all up in the headlines this week, there are two big stories about cases that are actually pretty old. They’re not happening right in the now but then we also have a couple cases involving the USOC, the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s just been a big week for this topic.
We specifically want to start by thinking about what it means to move on and when people get to move on from cases in the past and the two big ones that have been at the forefront this week, Luke Heimlich, he’s a pitcher for Oregon State, this was big story about a year ago. It’s happening again because the New York Times took it up and they did a big piece about it a few years ago, I can’t remember exactly how many.
He was, it must have been at least five or six, right? ‘Cause we was 15 at the time I want to say.
Jessica: Yeah. He was convicted, he pleaded guilty to molesting his six year old niece. He has since said, he told the New York Times, that he maintains his innocence, that he pleaded guilty in order to smooth things over because it was a family issue and they didn’t want to force a trial on the niece even though he says that he is innocent. The mother of the young girl, she was quoted by the New York Times saying, quote, “There is no way he didn’t do it.”
And so the question that the New York Times asks is whether or not that should be enough. He pleaded guilty, he did what he was supposed to under the court of law, should he be allowed to pitch for Oregon State and he is very good so the idea’s should he then be able to go on and be a pro.
At the same time, we get this other story out of Detroit, Matt Patricia. He is the new head coach there, it came out from the Detroit News, they found that he had been indicted in 1997 for sexual assault, for a rape on South Padre Island here in Texas over spring break at the time.
He was a football player at Rensselaer Polytechnic, it was him and another football player that were actually involved. They were arrested almost immediately, indicted by a Grand Jury, about 10 months later the case fell apart because she, the victim, stop cooperating.
You know, he did a, what did he do? A press conference this week, proclaimed his innocence over and over again. Says this is very hard for him, that this has come up again. I want to, I can’t remember which outlet reported on this, but apparently there were five different witnesses that they were ready to put in front of a court.
You know, the doctor, the police officer, she went to the hospital, all this sort of stuff. So it was definitely a very robust case but as we see all the time, victim chose not to cooperate. So you know, this was 1997, it is 2018. It was only an indictment. There was no conviction. There wasn’t even a trial.
So, Brenda, what are you thinking about all this? I mean these cases, they are very different but they do sort of ask the same questions about what this means, right? And these are very hard questions, so what are you thinking at this point?
Brenda: These are incredibly hard questions, and they’re really different ones for me. I mean it comes up, so it kicks up all of these same sorts of tensions and sadness, and outrage because they’re all terrible things that have happened to girls and women over and over again.
So, they’re connected, but they are so different. In the case of Luke Heimlich, I mean I think it’s worth talking about that separately and first, in the sense that he’s a minor when this happens. So he’s a child. And we know that perpetrators, especially when they’re minors, are by and large, usually also victims. And-
Jessica: Right, we don’t know for a 100 percent for this case but, right.
Brenda: No, no, no we don’t. No, no not at all. But just extrapolating like this as a bigger sort of typical case that we see, it is really common that perpetrators are victims, particularly if they start to be perpetrators as minors.
And so I get this really confusing feeling which is as a society, do we want them to reform or just to punish? It’s, I mean, does he have, if we believe that people can be reformed, and I do somewhere, as negative and cynical as I am, then it has to be like what is the sign that he’s reformed, how do we know what’s the process, you know, things like that. I do think those are important questions in all of it, in terms of has he reformed. Now then there’s the other question of how the police and the university have handled his case and given him such priority and preference and you know, if he was an African American young man, I would be surprised if he was treated like this in the press.
So it does seem like he’s really being treated with kid gloves, at the same time, he was a kid. And I don’t know except to say, how many cases like that go on to get educated in the university, at the end he is a college athlete, and as a college professor, I do want college to be a place for former criminals.
Does that make sense?
Brenda: I mean I-
Brenda: There’s college programs in prisons and they’re important. We live in an incarcerated state, so this guy’s gotten off but it still begs these other questions.
Amira: Yeah, I think exactly that. I think it brings up all these thoughts for me about redemption. And what do we mean when we talk about restorative justice. What do we mean when we talk about, you can’t be somebody who wants the abolition of the carceral state and not think really critically about what that looks like for redemption.
What that looks like for rehabilitation. What that looks like for, you know, when do, how and when and where do we punish? And I think that those are really hard things to wrestle with. I have, you know, many issues with the sex registry because we know that there’s many ways that it has kind of been used to track and like put, you know, there’s various infractions that can get you on this kind of massive list.
Then this case in particular seems, you know, very fraught still. Just by looking at the quotes in the New York Times from the family. But I think, I echo you know Brenda’s considerations, like how, where do you go from there? When this is something when he’s 15. Where, what happens? And I know that, you know, some people are like, “You know that’s fine,” but then he shouldn’t have the privilege of playing.
And I think it’s for me a lot easier at the professional level because I’m like, “Well that’s labor. That’s work.” Like that to me at the professional level is something I can wrap my head around because it’s a lot easier for me to say, “Well we know how hard it is to gain, be gainfully employed, you know, after you have interacted with the criminal justice system and to me you wouldn’t preclude somebody from getting a job at Kinkos or at Walmart or what not.”
Like, how do we think about employment post incarceration or accusation and stuff like that. But at the college level, like I don’t know. Like, I’m, you know, have been wrapping my head around that and I think Brenda touched on a lot of that is because there’s so much that happens in college that is growth. I’ve grown, I’ve seen other people grown.
People have made all sorts, have done harm to people and you know, we have really bustling programs that work with formerly incarcerated youth and I feel like to not even consider what it looks like to have compassion, not only for the victims but for thinking about how, then at 20 with your whole life ahead of you, do you figure out how do you, where do you go from here.
Jessica: Yeah. This case is interesting because you know, he was a minor at the time so the fact that we even know about it is because he, like missed some scheduled meeting or something with his parole officer, something like that. And that’s how the news got ahold of it. So the fact that we even know about it to begin with is weird.
You know, I do think one of the complicating factors, listening to you talk right now Amira, and talk about, I agree that college is very important. You know, and this sort of makes me think about amateurism and whether or not what’s happening in college sports or is not, it is labor too, we just don’t talk about it that way.
Amira: Right, exactly.
Jessica: And how that complicates part of this discussion, is like, they like him ’cause he wins baseball games, right? That there’s certain privileges that he’s going to get because of that and because of what that means for the university well beyond whether or not it’s a rehabilitative place. And on top of that, I think one of the things that’s hard about this, is that this is, when they play these games and especially when they mean so much, there’s a lot of cheering that happens for these people.
There’s literal cheering them on, cheering for them, holding up signs, celebrating them. And this is something that Brenda Tracy, who’s an assault survivor from Oregon State, that she brings up that part a lot. That, would you be okay if you were sitting next to the young girl, then cheering for him when he’s on the mound, right?
And there is something about the cheering part of this in sports that makes it all feel grosser, in a way that I don’t know how to, I don’t know what to do with that. But I, when I think of it that way, it does really hit me in the gut. And so I don’t know, I’m thinking about this, I know Shireen really wants to talk about what’s going on right now with the Toronto Blue Jays.
And the fact that, I want Shireen to give us a little background, but the fact that they pulled him off the mound and you can’t cheer for him, I feel like is really important and I know we’re going to go back, you know, to the pros here. But there’s something about that, so Shireen, tell us what’s-
Amira: That’s such a good point.
Jessica: Going on. Yeah. Tell us what’s going on in Toronto right now.
Shireen: Well, right now the little preamble is that the Blue Jays are doing really badly but more sort more importantly as Roberto Osuna, who is a Mexican closer, was actually arrested on Tuesday for assaulting his girlfriend. Now what came of that was really interesting in Toronto because then you get the automatic people that are defending, “Well we don’t know. It’s innocent until proven guilty?”
Which is I think, this world knee jerk reaction for people that don’t want to deal with reality of what violence is. Now, the manager, John Gibbons, said something really interesting.
Because right away, and this happened on Tuesday, he came out with a statement and the Blue Jays also released a statement, and John Gibbons said and I quote, “You’re dealing with human beings regardless of walk of life. Hopefully there’s nothing there. I love the kid, not because of what he’s done for us on the field but because of who he is and my relationship with him over the years. Really in society in general, there’s got to be a zero tolerance policy, you got to protect the vulnerable and those who can’t protect themselves.”
So I think that was really, that was really important to talk about that. But there has to be a zero tolerance policy and I read that to say regardless who the guy is, I mean you know, there’s times in our lives where we find out that someone we really cared about, or some like a star, or someone, an artist or an athlete that we liked was an abuser.
And my example for this was Kobe Bryant when he first came out, like I was fan. And then you know, obviously, very clear in that I’m not. But the idea is we have to separate that from the reality of what is happening. Now I mean, conversation is Toronto because it’s been very much about this, was there was a photograph of Osuna that as actually leaked of him in the jail cell, in the holding cell.
And then the conversation, instead of being about, you know, what violence is like and how there’s only been a policy since 2015 in MLB and right now there’s a criminal investigation happening in Toronto and a baseball one. So there’s two simultaneous which usually happens in these kinds of situations. So, you know, there’s conversation more about the photograph of him being in the holding cell than there is about the actual violence.
And I think that’s very problematic and we can point out tons of things are problematic. He was immediately put on a administrative league by the MLB, so that’s at least one week. And coincidentally the Blue Jays had a game on Thursday and were supposed to give out, like, 15 thousand Roberto Osuna shirts.
Shireen: So they didn’t, obviously, they switched it and gave them out of another player. And so what happened is and then we look back on the, you know, history of how MLB has handled this. And Canada has a very strong presumption of innocence, like more so than even the USA does.
But like, we have to be really careful about this. And then, so the Canadian team is taking a stronger stance and they’ve also taken all of his merch out of the store. You can’t find a shirt of him anywhere, which is also a very, I think, a very good stance. Because like Jess said, you know, there’s cheering for this people. People would still be out, have access to buy shirts and what not. And for me, that’s also really problematic when investigations are ongoing.
It’s easy to say, “Oh well we don’t know that he did it.” Presumption of innocence. Yeah, but it’s also really easy to say, “You know, he probably did.”
And I think it’s important this gets back to believing survivors and then there’s always the vacuous arguments of, “Oh, his girlfriend’s just trying to get money out of him. It’s just for popularity and fame.” And you know, we can debunk this all we want because the idea of assuming that victims come out and do this for fun or for money, we know is not true.
And I don’t have time for that, I’m not even going to merit that by talking about it any further because I’m just going to get mad. So I that they’re, the Blue Jay’s statement on his was very, very, very good. And I mean, I like that, and Gibbons didn’t even use the word allegations. And this is something that was pointed out in an article that I read by a woman named Sheryl Ring, out of Guelph.
And I think this is really important because the discussions that she’s starting and she’s having and the points she’s making are really important. Not just in terms of Osuna but in terms of the sport in general. And how they can handle this, and how they move forward and not be like a gong show like the NFL.
Jessica: Right, right. Amira?
Amira: Yeah, I think that point you made Jess, about cheering, is so important and I think that that gets to one of the things that I think about most in this. Is the way that we’re having a conversation, a nuance conversation about what moving on means and how do you protect and honor survivors while also like dealing with these really hard questions, and complicated questions.
But I think that’s the thing, is like we’re thinking about this in the kind of good faith way where our bottom line is not about money, our bottom line is not about winning. And I think that that cheering point really speaks to one of the complicated things, is that what redemption or what justice or what rehabilitation looks like for these teens isn’t about, you know, the best treatment for the individual.
It’s about their bottom line, it’s about winning. It’s about these institutions who’re like how can we minimize this, how can we make it go away or how can we treat this that helps us as an institution.
And I think that that’s one of the things that we run up in with a lot, whether it’s the Oregon State situation or Patricia, it’s like, okay what can we do to ensure that this person who’s valuable to our institution, who can help us win is still available to win. That we still can cheer on, that by cheering, we can redeem.
And I think that’s the complicated thing is that the point that they’re getting to is this kind of cheering and using those cheers as redemption and it doves, tails and intersects with this larger conversation that I think everybody should think really critically of. Like where do we go from here after you know, sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
And those interests may converge but they’re not at all the same thing.
Jessica: Right. And the last thing I’ll say, sort of getting on, one of the things I always say about this topic when we talk about moving on is, who actually gets to move on? We know how trauma stays with victims and survivors and you know, as much as and you know Patricia had his press conference and he got to say that this is very hard for him for this to come out 21 years later.
And you know it was a difficult time when it happened because of course he says he was falsely accused. And the thing that I, when I was reading about this, you know, the Detroit News that broke all of this said that they tried to contact this woman for like a good week before they gave up.
And what that means for her and her life too, even though she’s not named, you know, rightfully so because of the way we treat victims. But I keep thinking about the fact that she’s probably gotten a lot of phone calls from people in the press this week. And what this has meant for her life too.
And so when we’re talking about this I always sort of imagine like, what does it mean to move on? What does it mean for the mother of that young girl in Heimlich’s family? What does it mean to move on for her, for her daughter? So, we’ll leave it there.
So the mere idea of a woman possibly in a position of power in sports has caused lots of ripples and hot takes over the last week. Shireen, do you want to clue us in on what’s going on in the NBA?
Shireen: Thank you Jess. First of all, we love Becky Hammon. We love her so much. Becky Hammon, for listeners that are not familiar, is a six time WNBA MVP. She played the US National Team for a couple of years and she played overseas in Russia, professionally and became a naturalized citizen.
So, she actually represented Russia in 2008 and 2012 in the Olympics. And she’s totally badass, she’s assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, which we love, all hail pop. And what happened was this week some news came out that she was actually going to be interviewing for a coaching position for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now, yes, head coach like first coach. And [crosstalk 00:21:26]. And yes, I’m sorry, should qualify that, head coach. H-E-A-D, head as in first, as in boss.
Now, what happens is, a lot of people got into a tizzy and when I mean people I mean people who gravitate towards sexism obviously, misogynists, we’ll just call them that because it’s true. In so much as there as all these rumblings about, “Well is she qualified, it would only be for marketing, can she really do it?”
Like these really pathetic arguments that are super uncreative and unintelligent. And so, and this is despite the fact that Lebron came out in support of it, which I also I love. Because I love Lebron, but I also hate that he had to come out and support. Like, if she was some under qualified man, there would be no need to support the idea. But she’s not, she’s a qualified woman.
And so what ended up happening is something, Pau Gasol, actually and all of us tweeted this and I think the BIAD Twitter account retweeted several times, penned this absolutely beautiful piece for the Players’ Tribune about her.
And what I really like, what he said in this, I liked all of it actually. One of the things I liked was that he said, he’s not coming out in defense of her because that would be unnecessary, she doesn’t need defense because she is qualified. But one of the most incredible things of the many is that her candidacy for this is that he’s talking about his experience working with her. And in the piece for the Player’s Tribune, it’s called An Open Letter about Female Coaches, I suggest everybody read it because there’s a photograph here and he’s like what, seven something?
Or like, and she’s not and she’s fairly tall. But he’s looking down at her and he’s completely absorbed in what she’s saying and he’s like, “Yes, coach.”
And despite the height difference and the physical difference, this guy’s in complete raptures with what she’s saying because she knows what she’s talking about. And that’s it. And I just, I really, really, really liked it. I really appreciated what he said and that what he was, you know, talking about and the way he explained his life experience and having a mother that was a doctor and a father that was a nurse when people always assumed it was the otherwise.
I mean, very clearly, like my mother’s a physician and my father’s not but anytime we went somewhere they automatically assumed he was Dr. Ahmed, this still happens till this day. And he’s not and I take the time to remind them constantly that he’s not. But I think that, one of the really interesting things too for me, about this, was this great piece from Deadspin, like they’re hilarious, and the title for this article is “Shit-for-Brains Columnist Says Existence of Misogyny Should Prevent Becky Hammon from Being Hired, Unless it’s for ‘Marketing,” because what’s happening, these columnists are coming up with these ridiculous ideas.
I’ve actually been surprised there’s been no accusation that she’s like, you know, she’s accusing her of espionage because she played for Russia. I’m waiting to see that. Like, that’s how far fetched the arguments are coming.
She’s qualified, she’s smart, she’s been working with an incredible team, like I don’t know what else needs to happen, other than, you know, for people to shut up about this. Other than the fact that she needs to be a man which I’m sorry, is not the case.
Jessica: And this is amazing because it’s just an interview, right?
Jessica: It’s like a report of an interview but at the same time, this is a huge deal. Lindsay’s not here right now but I know she said publicly, like, she cried when she saw that Becky Hammon was getting this opportunity because it is such a big deal. At the same time, this is peoples’ reactions to the interview for the job.
Amira: The interview. Yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, Amira?
Amira: I mean that’s just wild. It’s like, “Hey we’re going to talk to a qualified assistant coach about the possibility of being a head coach,” and literally like, “Ahh!” Mayhem.
And it’s just like, calm the fuck down. Like shut the hell up and calm down, please. It really is so irritating. I find it really interesting, you know I did these podcast assignments with my gender, sexuality and sport class and I actually had three students who did amazing podcasts on women coaches.
And they each took different aspects of it, yeah one of, I had two soccer players, one of them was a woman who interviewed her head coach about being a woman coach. But her boyfriend actually, who also plays soccer for Penn State, interviewed, he plays soccer on the men’s side and he interviewed anonymously male athletes around Penn State asking them how they would react to having woman coach.
And he did anonymously so they could be, you know, open about it. And he was delighted and so actually surprised to report that despite the fact that almost nobody had experienced having a woman coach, they were like, “Yeah but if she was my coach, that’s just what it would be. Like we would learn from her and it would be fine.” And there was very little hesitancy, it was just like, yeah, you know, yeah.
It’s not about that, it’s literally like can you coach, can you help me get to the best of my sport, can you help me bring out the best in me?
And it was really great to listen to him talk about that and how he was personally surprised. He was like, you know, absolutely shocked that so many people were like that’s a non issue, like can they coach. And I think it points to one of the things that I saw this week, that it was like have you ever noticed like we’ve had this discussion that some of the biggest supporters of the WNBA, are NBA players?
Of people who actually play the game and people who have nothing to do with basketball, who are just fans or you know, haters or whatever, cast all these dispersions but like people who actually are closest to the game, are like what are you even talking about, this is a non issue. Like this is, can you ball? Can you coach? Like all right, then you’re good.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s a great point. Brenda?
Brenda: Yeah I don’t think that it is always that good though. I think when your student was doing that thing, I think that’s awesome and I think it’s generational too. So probably, it’s kind of exciting to think that you know, Amira’s student when out and did this and is probably in touch with a new generation of people that have been affected by all these women like in the same breath that Lebron was talking about Becky Hammon, he mentioned Doris Burke.
Like, right in that same breath, and so it’s connected you know, these sort of pioneers have done so much to change our perception and to change other peoples’ perception that may have been more reticent to accept, you know, women in positions of authority.
But I also feel like there’s a kind of rhetoric that tells women to be patient and that, just wait, you know, one at a time. One at a time. And it infuriates me because I think to myself in this case that patience is not a virtue, I don’t know why we’re being asked to have it.
Frankly drives me insane. And so like, even the most, and this isn’t about Pau Gasol because I love him, right now. Actually, I don’t like him at all as a player or a Spanish, Spanish league I can talk about it but as that letter was amazing and everything like that.
But I also get frustrated because I feel like the most, quote unquote, liberal or feminist allies, you know, if you said, “Okay, well what about if we interviewed seven head coaches, you know, at once?”
It’s like they can handle one or two and then we’re supposed to be patient for the rest or Hillary Clinton should do this and we should just wait for the rest. I guess I’m just like, I’m okay, I’m like along with the ride and everything, like because I love Becky Hammon but I also think like we need to be like, “Why is it that like one is acceptable or the exception is acceptable and then the rest of the time we should be patient?”
Amira: Bren, I think that’s a great point but also what it does, is it puts so much on the shoulders of that person. So say, Becky gets the job, then everything, you know, lives or dies on her success.
Amira: And it’s you know the second side of the coin or whatever, two sides of the, I hate these cliché things but you know what I’m trying to say.
Brenda: Oh totally. No, no. I totally get it and I agree. I think it’s so interesting and generational how it works. When FIFA brought in women referees recently to ref the men’s game, they brought in three and four. You know, so exactly that wouldn’t happen.
Brenda: So not, I mean-
Jessica: Smart. Interesting.
Brenda: The one smart thing FIFA’s ever done for gender equality.
Amira: Oh my gosh, did Brenda just compliment FIFA?
Brenda: Dammit. I take it-
Jessica: She qualified it though. She complimented and then qualified it so-
Brenda: Probably Moya Dodd thought of it and then they just like adopted it or something. No but I totally like not arguing with you, I just get tantrum-y about like even liberal celebration. Not, Amira, like in the social media and stuff that’s like, “Yay.” And it’s like I want this to move faster because I’m just not feeling the patience.
Jessica: Yeah, I mean it is 2018 and the report that one woman will be interviewed for a head coaching job, like peoples’ heads blew up.
Shireen, would you like to wrap this up for us?
Shireen: Well I’m going to quote Pau Gasol and that’s never happened before but that’s okay, in this, I think props to him for writing this piece. And this is what he said, quote, “I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball period,” end quote.
Jessica: Up next, Amira’s interview with Theresa Runstedtler.
Amira: So I am here with Theresa Runstedtler, who’s Associate Professor of History in the chair of the Critical Race, Gender and Cultural studies collaborative at American University. She’s also the author of Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line which came out back in 2012 but is a book that everybody should check out.
I believe Brenda re upped that in our newsletter a few months ago. And Theresa’s next book project, I am so looking forward to, it’s exploring questions of blackness, masculinity and labor through the lens of the NBA and their so called dark days of the 1970s and trust me, everybody’s going to want to cop this book.
So welcome to the pod, Theresa.
Theresa: Thanks so much for having me, Amira.
Amira: So as I said, you are definitely a well-known historian, especially of African American history, sports history. But many people might not also know that you used to dance for the Toronto Raptors.
Theresa: Yes, that was in another lifetime but yes I did. While I was in university and then one year after I graduated back in the late 90s.
Amira: Wow so, you know, when I was looking at a lot of the news that’s been coming out over the last few weeks about equity concerns or women who are cheerleaders and dancers for professional football teams and has been where a lot of the news is. I couldn’t think of a better person to talk to, for somebody who as your profession, analyzes issues of labor in sport and race all the time but also who has that kind of experiential knowledge and experience as dancing.
So my first question is essentially, how did you come to dance for the Raptors?
Theresa: Oh geez, it’s a long story but I’ll tell you the short version. I, you know, always thought of myself as an athlete. I started out, my first sport was figure skating and then after that I transitioned into dancing all throughout my high school years. And so I was trained in classical ballet, jazz, and modern. And so I have a dance background and when I went away to university, I actually wanted to continue playing sports but I had so many injuries.
My favorite sport in high school was soccer. I used to play for a traveling team, I had so many injuries that I just couldn’t play without fear and so I kind of put that aside for a little bit. I made a brief comeback to play for the York University rugby team, the first time ever that they had women’s rugby. And I got very badly injured, somebody fell on the back of my leg, cracked my fibula.
And so I was pretty much out of commission and so at that point, with all of my ankle injuries and my, you know, other leg injuries, I just decided I can’t play sports the way I want to anymore but I can pick up dance again. And it was something that I always loved to do. And with dance of course, it’s choreography so you always know what the next move is going to be.
If there’s not the same element of chance, not that dancers don’t get injured, but it just seemed like a safer option for me and one that would allow me to be physically active. So what ended up happening was my boyfriend at the time dared me to go to the open call audition. It as in Toronto, it was the second year of the Raptors so it was 1996 in the summer. And I was just about the head into my third year of university and I thought, “Why not. Let me give it a whirl and see what happens.”
And I made it all the way to the end of the audition and I think there were about, probably about 500 people there. And from there I guess the rest is history and I did that for three years. So from 1996 until 1999.
Amira: Wow, I think it’s so interesting about one of the things you’re saying, that dispels this myth that the women who are in the cheer squads or in the dance squads are somehow not athletic. Or not athletes. But it takes a lot of training to get to that point.
Theresa: Yeah I mean one of the things that people forget about dancing on a squad like the Toronto Raptors dance pack is that, you know, we didn’t spend months learning our routine. You would learn a routine literally in a three hour rehearsal the night before a game. And then you would have to come back and perform it in front of tens of thousands of people the next day.
And it’s not something where you can hope that, you know, if you make a few mistakes nobody’s going to notice because you know, there’s tons of people who are looking at you from all angles and you know, of course if you know anything about Hip Hop, which was the primary style of dance that we danced in. Although, it was the 90s so Hip Hop now looks a lot different.
But you know, it’s like one and a, two and a, three and a, that’s a ton of counts to remember. So even a minute and a half routine, there’s a lot to remember in terms of not only the moves but where you’re supposed to go, you know where you’re supposed to be facing and all sorts of things. So yes, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to pull off.
And then beyond that, you could also be hired to do corporate appearances, charitable appearances, you know, and different kinds of tours that we did around the city. So some weeks, you know, I’d be working 40 hours a week. Some weeks it would be more like 20, some weeks would be 10 hours, it would just depend on where the games fell each week to week.
Amira: So you mentioned these corporate appearances and of course the article that just came out this week about the Washington football team’s cheerleaders centers a lot on kind of this usage of women, particularly in this case, the cheerleaders to kind of woo big corporate sponsors of the team. Or big donors and certainly a lot of the details coming out are egregious but was there this kind of pattern.
Did you feel like this, were you being like used, was there this idea of like we need to use women’ bodies to promote the Raptors? Did you see kind of continuity between today and when you were dancing?
Theresa: Nothing. I mean, I think anyone who performs for a living, whether you’re an athlete or you’re a dancer, you’re being used to promote something. And so I didn’t feel that especially in the early years, so when I joined the team it was 1996 and Isaiah Thomas was still the GM at that time and it was one group of owners and they kind of gave the choreographer and the dance team a lot of latitude as to what we could style ourselves as.
So you know, we had more of a kind of, Hip Hop vibe, as opposed to sequins and skimpy outfits vibe. So it was much more athletic and Hip Hop, we wore coveralls, we wore jerseys.
And so even though of course you’re showing your body, and that’s part of what dancing is, is to express yourself physically and of course, you’re trying to do that and look good at the same time. But at the same time, I didn’t feel that it was anything that made me uncomfortable. We felt like athletes, we felt like dancers as opposed to cheerleaders, although the distinction is murky there.
Didn’t have pom poms, we didn’t really sit on the court until the last quarter when we would go out and perform short routines during time outs and what not. So, for a lot of it we, you know, during the games, we’d be back essentially backstage. And out of view.
And so at least, particularly for the first two years that I was on the team, it did not feel like that at all and in fact, I think I mentioned this to you at one point. We actually had men on the squad for the first few years.
Theresa: And so it really was not this kind of sense, you didn’t get a sense that you were being, you know, egregiously objectified. Yeah, it just didn’t have that feel to it. I will say that when the team changed ownership and you know, Isaiah Thomas whatever one might want to say about him in other context, he was you know one of our greatest supporters and really just let us have free rein as to what we wanted to do and how we wanted to present ourselves.
When he left and then Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment took over the ownership of the team, things did change. And in the sense that the costumes changed, they became much more shiny. Lots of sequins and more baring of the midriff, tighter and more sort of girly. And like kind of, I don’t know, cheerleader-y slash dancer type style.
And it was very clear to us too that we were supposed to be performing primarily with the sort of big money folks who sat court side and in the lower levels of the bleachers. That we were supposed to be dancing for them as opposed to, you know, performing for the entire stadium. So it did take on much more of a transactional objectifying feel but on the other hand it was never anything even remotely close to some of the things that I’m reading about.
And have been reading about over the course of what the last been several exposes. Yeah. Nothing to that level but you could certainly tell when the tenor of, I don’t know, the ownership changed, certainly the expectation of who we were supposed to be and how we could style ourselves certainly changed.
And the other thing I would say about our squad is that when we started out, we had you know, within obviously a certain range, we had different heights, different body shapes, different ethnicities, races, etcetera, on the team. And I think that that also started to change too, towards the end of when I was on the team.
Amira: Yeah so when you’re reading these exposes, and it really I feel like is becoming a labor issue, and when you’re reading these pieces, do you, you know. What are you feeling for these women who are just trying to do their job?
Theresa: Yeah I mean I always looked at my position with the Raptors as a job because in fact, you know, when I was making, what eight, nine bucks an hour doing research for a history professor, I couldn’t make nearly the amount of money that I could working for the Raptors. And in fact, I probably made more money than most of my peers who worked either in food services or different jobs on and off campus.
So I certainly, you know, saw it as a job. As a means to an end, really. To pay for university. I know that in my first year that I was on the team, we actually did have an anti-fraternization clause in our contract. But for some reason, that disappeared in subsequent contracts so I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t sort of in the know about the conversations that went on behind the scenes that caused the Raptors to take that fraternization clause out of there.
I thought it as kind of laughable and I mean part of it was, I went to university in North Toronto and you know, all the action if you were going to be in the action or in the scene was all in Downtown Toronto. So literally I would commute down to the stadium, dance, do whatever, go to a rehearsal and then turn right around and go right back to campus. So I wasn’t really in the scene, most people I don’t think were at all interested in that. Most of the people, like I said before, who were on the team were either in community college or university or they were aspiring performers who were busy you know doing gigs all over the city.
Many of whom still are working in the industry so it was never really like you know, anything but a job to me. And then-
Theresa: I mean I think the context is also a little bit different too because, you know, cheerleading is not really a thing and where I’m from there wasn’t this sort of expectation that you actually really even cared who the players were and like the big sport in that part of Ontario is hockey and so I mean really, nobody really cared that much about hanging out with players or trying to hang out with players.
I mean certainly, you know, just having been at the games, you know, the players, there were instances were people would get messages, you know, handed from ball boys and what not. And so you could, you know, choose to respond to it or not. But it wasn’t really a prevalent part of you know, our thinking that we were trying to either, you know, be involved or avoid them.
It just, yeah, we just didn’t really, yeah we were just doing our job and-
Amira: You were just doing your job.
Theresa: You know, many of us saw this as an entrée, either a way of paying our bills or an entrée into the industry. And that’s actually how I ended up, you know, getting an agent and becoming a freelance dancer. So I mean one of the things that I think about when I look back on that time, was that there was really no other place to make money, be in a kind of dance company that danced Hip Hop in Toronto. That kind of was the spot to be if you wanted to be doing that and you wanted to be making regular paychecks.
So you know, people can say what they will about the objectification of women but a lot of us were there because we wanted that creative outlet and we wanted the camaraderie and we wanted the ability to do all of that and also bring in a paycheck at the same time.
Amira: Well I think it’s so important to hear that and to you know, fill out this conversation because it, a lot of some of the reactions I’ve seen to some of these exposes are, “Well why would women even dance.” Or, “Why would they take these jobs.” Or, “Why would they want to do this.”
And I think part of what, you know, that help fills out is that there is, first of all, it’s job. Second of all, there’s a lot of benefits for or incentives for women who want to aspire to dance. I mean my sister’s dream for when she was little was to be a Cowboys cheerleader and it also kind of helps frame this moment which is, that makes it even more egregious that when women get to these positions that they’re treated with this kind of disregard by a lot of these organizations as we’re starting to see.
People have been kind of abusing their positions and taking advantage of employees-
Theresa: Yeah absolutely and I mean-
Amira: Which is what they are-
Theresa: I, this is actually making me-
Amira: And it’s really a shame.
Theresa: Remember some of the, you know, just little things that we did to try and control the conditions under which we worked. You know, at one point they tried to get us to do one of our sets like up in the stands and it was horrible, you know. We did it one time and like people were you know saying not so great things about us as we were up there. And we went back into the change room and we said, “You know, if you ever make us do that again, we’re all just going to quit. We’re done.” Like that was just a line that we didn’t want to cross.
You know, so it’s not as if there, I don’t know. I mean I understand as somebody who thinks of myself as a feminist, as somebody who thinks about labor, thinks about a sport and consumption and all of these things. Absolutely there is a way in which you could say, “Hey this is another instance in which these hyper masculine sports are objectifying women.” But it’s really not that simple of a narrative if you actually start to look at the reasons why women go into it.
The ways in which, you know, they draw a line at what they’re willing to do and what they’re not willing to do in the name of the job. And really think about actually, you know for us, dancing was a form of athleticism, it was our craft and for some of us, you know continued to be our profession for a time after even we were working for the team.
So yeah I know what it looks like from the outside but I certainly, as I was experiencing it in my early 20’s, certainly didn’t feel that it was all bad or that I was being objectified in a kind of simplistic, uncomplicated way.
Amira: Right, well thank you so much for adding nuance to this conversation and-
Theresa: It was so much fun to talk and to reminisce.
Amira: We’re happy to have you on the pod anytime. Thanks again.
Jessica: Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment, we like to call it The Burn Pile, where we pile up all the things that we’ve hated this week in sports and set them aflame. I’m going to lead off this week because mine is absolutely the least important topic, but still.
I have been watching the only four weeks long, athletes only version of Dancing with the Stars, which is already, go ahead, which is already half way over. By the time our listeners hear this, there will only be the final left actually.
So Adam and Mirai have been amazing, as you’d expect. Josh Norman from the Washington NFL team is wonderful and the show is actually generally, really adorable. But, I have to burn the fact that Luger, Chris Mazdzer, pitcher, Jenny Finch Daigle, and figure skater, Tonya Harding are still in the competition and Burn It All Down favorite, Arike Ogunbowale and fucking basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are not.
I am so mad about this, you guys. I will say, Harding is pretty good at this and she has her redemption story or whatever you want to call it going for her, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And he did an awesome shoulder shimmy, like you should look this up and he can pretty much keep the beat even though he’s so damn tall.
And Arike! She was so good! I don’t get this terrible voting, maybe we shouldn’t let America vote for anything anymore.
Amira: Well we know-
Jessica: We’re terrible at it.
Amira: We’ve known since American Idol when Jennifer Hudson and all these black women kept going home, like.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, I mean.
Amira: This is like reality TV. When America gets to vote, like guess what, black people go home.
Jessica: Yeah or Donald Trump becomes President so I am just bummed.
Shireen: That’s on white women, okay? Donald Trump is one white women.
Jessica: Well who do you think is voting for Dancing with the Stars. So anyway.
Amira: And also white men.
Jessica: Yeah, I’m bummed that when I tune in this week I will not see Kareem or Arike and I want to burn it. So burn. [crosstalk 00:53:32].
Amira, what has you steaming this week?
Amira: Yeah this is random. I was in a hotel room somewhere, I don’t remember, and I was, you know when you watch like Sports Center at two in the morning and they were doing this package on Michigan, the University of Michigan football team in Normandy. And I like sat up because I was like, “Hey what the hell are they doing in Normandy?” And also the way that it was packaged together, it was like talking about service and valor in a way that rhetorically has been used to kind of push back anybody who would dare protest, you know, police brutality or anything in the sports realm.
And but I thought, “Oh you say politics don’t mesh with sports and you’re literally talking about like political warfare and bringing a football team there.”
And then I was like, “Well who funded this trip?” So now, I looked into it, this is actually the second trip. Last year, the Michigan football team went to Rome. This year they went to Paris and Normandy. The trip cost an estimated 800 thousand dollars sponsored by just two donors. And you know, Michigan is a public school and these are private donors giving money for these trips.
This is such a hit among the donors and to give the student athletes life experience and there’s many articles you can, you know, for people who are like, “Yeah this is random but it team builds and it gives them experience and it gives them traveling experience and all of this stuff.”
So they liked it so much that they’re floating options for next year’s trip already which included Barcelona, Cuba, South Africa or Greece. I’m sorry, in state tuition for Michigan is going through the roof, it’s one of the most expensive public institution, in state tuitions around the country.
This is a place where people are fleeing. The return and retention rate for students of color is absolutely abysmal. Particularly because they keep targeting University of Michigan as fertile kind of hunting grounds for white supremacists groups and white nationalists groups.
Like, it reminds me Jess of when you were speaking at Penn State and that guy wanted to talk about like all the great money things that Paterno has done and donated for the school. And you’re like and he’s like, “If he didn’t donate money, like if he didn’t donate this, how would they have a library.” And it’s like yeah but the boosters could have just built a library. Like.
Jessica: Right, exactly. Yes.
Amira: Right, you didn’t have to give it to Paterno to build the library and I think that why I want to burn this is because it really highlighted for me one of the things that happen with private donors and boosters in the intersection of collegiate sport.
Like, I’m not saying that it’s bad for people, students, anywhere to travel the world. Like I think that it’s a amazing opportunity and we do, you do grow as people. But the fact that two donors can come together and donate 800 thousand dollars to get this team to all of these places and just at the whim. I’m just like, think about the allocation of these resources and that like it is mind blowing to me.
And I just don’t even know so I’m just burning down boosters because it’s just annoying. And yeah, dumb. So burn. [crosstalk 00:56:38]
Jessica: Shireen, what are you burning this week?
Shireen: I’m burning, I love women’s soccer, I love the NWSL but Eddie Robinson was actually named the Houston Dash assistant coach-
Shireen: Head coach is Vera Pauw is the head coach and this is after Lisa Cole left. Now, I’ll tell you what my issue was with this. First because Eddie Robinson is very clear about his likes and dislikes and some of the things he likes, not to mention they’re anti sematic, Islamophobic and absolutely racist, he’s also super sexist. And I was, Kevin McCauley on Twitter, who is also a friend and a soccer writer had actually linked and screenshot-ed and we’ll put that in the show notes, hopefully if it’s possible.
What some of the tweets that he liked. And there’s that guy, that awful Mike Cernovich guy, like when you like that person, you’re not really on the fence about what your opinions are on like humanity. It’s very clear.
And also, Eddie Robinson is actually, was really, really awful. Because when Rachel Daly collapsed on the field, I think it was last year, from heat exhaustion. He was like, you know, his reply was like, “Men and women both have been playing in this heat for years. It seems the only people concerned are those who don’t play net.”
Like he was dismissive that she actually collapsed from heat exhaustion. And nobody who knows women’s soccer has forgotten about this. Like you don’t, first of all, everything on the internet stays forever. And the fact that this person has been hired is telling because the owners of Houston Dash are known Trump supporters as well.
So they can probably sit around and share their likes of, you know, Islamophobes and like racists and sexists and misogynists.
I think it’s also really interesting and I’m just going to say this out there for our friend at NWSL and the media, social media, they did have a tweet about it. Eddie Robinson is named as assistant manager with like a face, a blank face and that tweet is now gone.
So, just going to say that I didn’t screenshot it but I saw it and solidarity with them there. I know the people that run the social media and they’re amazing and they were probably mortified because I just think that this is unfair. And Houston Dash and those players deserve better.
I, yeah, and I also saw a tweet saying that Christen Press was probably in Europe thinking, “Oh my God, thank God I’m playing in Sweden and not Houston Dash anymore.”
And you know like, but only if everybody could have that. So metaphorically burning Eddie Robinson, his opinions and the grossness and the lack of empathy for his own players, and for all of that situation because women’s soccer has enough problems, doesn’t need the likes of Eddie Robinson. Burn. [crosstalk 00:59:32].
Jessica: Okay Brenda, what’s on your burn pile?
Brenda: Fox Sports Peru. At Fox Sports Peru started just a couple months ago and Fox Sports has gone into Latin America pretty deeply and in many places but what it does is it waits before the World Cup. You know, or a major tournament and then it goes in and sets up shop.
So Fox Sports Peru in kind of anticipation of Peru’s participation in the 2018 World Cup, started the network in March and it is the deepest cesspool of racism and sexism in its short life.
It’s done already some horrendous things and this week it ran a skit that parodied Afro-Peruvian soccer star, Jefferson Farfan. And comedian, Miguel Moreno, and I’m putting comedian in quotes in my hands in the air because he’s not funny. Put on Blackface and proceeded to act as if he was supposedly Jefferson Farfan. And by the very nature of Blackface, it was actually, if you hadn’t had the other accoutrements of Farfan, like the jersey, you would have no idea that’s even who he was parodying because that’s the type, that’s what Blackface is, right?
It’s ridiculous. It’s exaggerated, it’s got no sort of connection in reality. And then he proceeded in this costume to act like a total idiot in the segment, flirt with beauty queens, all of this other stuff. And Jefferson is pretty much responsible for Peru going to the World Cup and even five years ago, he had to sue Frito-Lay for a similar Blackface parody of himself.
What! Yeah, like what the hell, Peru, Fox Sports? So I mean it’s disgusting, the Minister of Culture came out and complained but it’s like, there needs to be stronger, multas. There needs to be stronger fines taken when this type of stuff happens.
This is hate speech and he suffered it long enough so Jefferson Farfan, we are rooting for you in the World Cup and I am burning Fox Sports Peru. I can’t do it literally because I’ll go to jail but it’s not even metaphorical for me. It’s like burn it down. Burn!
Shireen: Burn. I’ll pay your bail money. You’re welcome, I love you.
Jessica: After all that burning, it’s time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our badass women of the week segment. First we would like to offer our condolences to the Wilmington College community and volleyball team, for the loss of volleyball player Lauryn Griewahn, the Freshman died at the end of April from complications of Lupus, an autoimmune disease that she was battling.
And now for our honorable mentions. Canadian referee, Carol Ann Chenard and assistant referee, Chantel Boudreau for being appointed to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France in 2018. This will represent Chenard fourth appointment to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and Boudreau’s second.
Dr. Rimla Akhtar, founder of Muslim Women in Sport Foundation was on the Muslim 100 Power List in the UK. Her work advocating for Muslim women in the UK and globally is phenomenal.
Viviana Vila, who will be the first woman to call matches for Men’s World Cup for Telemundo. It is the first time in the 71 years of the Footballer of the Year Award that the group has honored a woman.
AFCW Football 2018 Champion, Fereshteh Karimi, from team Iran, who was named MVP of the tournament and leads the repeat champions and goals scored.
Okay, a drum roll please.
Oh God. Okay. Are badass woman of the week and in honor of Mother’s Day is Kylia Carter, the mother of former Duke and soon to be MBA player Wendell Carter Jr.
She spoke at a night commission on Intercollegiate Athletics panel this last week. A former women’s basketball player at Ole Miss, Carter took the NCAA to task for their failure to pay players for their labor. Here is one part of her statement.
Quote, “The problem I see is not with the student athlete. It’s not with the coaches, or the institutions of higher learning, but it’s with a system like the only system I have ever seen. Where the laborers are the only people that are not being compensated for the work that they do while those in charge receive mighty compensation. The only two systems that I’ve known to be in place, is slavery and the prison system and now I see the NCAA. The overseers of a system that is identical for that.”
All right, Ms. Carter. You are a badass mother.
Okay, what’s good y’all? Brenda, what is good?
Brenda: What’s good is my Panini sticker book. Now my sticker book is getting all filled up and I get my kids to trade with the kids in their school for me, so if you get doubles in the sticker packet, then you know, you’re supposed to be trading with fellow school mates. Because I’m actually a middle aged woman doing this, I need to send my children to go make deals for me.
So the good thing is that they actually really like it and it gets them to use their Spanish for it and they bring me home awesome stickers. And I have Paulinho, who’s my favorite and the World Cup is one month away and believe me, we’ll do like some major stuff on this show about it. So I’m getting really excited despite the fact that it’s a disgusting political, garbage, bin, fire, it’s still going to be so awesome.
Jessica: Nice, Shireen, what about you?
Shireen: Okay, a couple things. My eldest turned 18 yesterday. [crosstalk 01:05:44].
Jessica: Happy birthing day.
Shireen: I know, so Saif-Ullah is 18. I’m a bit like what? Because in my head I’m 20 so I’m like what? And he’s like far more mature than I am. What’s good and I tweeted this publicly, the Burn It All Down mug that I got in the mail from Amira is giving me life and joy and even more happiness.
And I’m so excited by it because I get to have coffee with y’all and that is everything. Ramadan is around the corner and I’m excited but I’m also nervous because the fast is really and I am super happy because it’s a wonderful month. A month of just reelection and prayer and also me being super cranky ass by the time it’s six p.m. because I have to wait till like almost eight or eight thirty to eat. But that’s okay, I can manage that.
And also, in conjunction with Ramadan, my outdoor soccer season starts and I’ve been waiting for outdoor like eight months. So I’m really excited, I love my team and I will be fasting during games if the timing works out that way, so just if y’all can send some good vibes and if you pray, send me some prayers because I’ma need them.
Jessica: Amira, what’s good in your world?
Amira: Yeah, I’m in Massachusetts to celebrate my cousin’s graduation from University of Massachusetts [crosstalk 01:07:00].
Thank you. It’s graduation season and at Penn State we released many, some of my fun students out into the world and it always makes me a little weepy but very excited for what’s next. Also, I just want to, I’m blessed to have three mothers, hashtag adoption, and I just wanted to shout out my moms. All those who have mothered me, they’ve shaped me and that’s, you know, it’s a wonderful thing.
And also, dare I say, most importantly we are just seven days away from a little time of the year known as Gemini season, the baddest and boldest sign, it is almost our time. I will not stand for your Gemini slander. The countdown is on, a week away from Gemini season and 22 days from my birthday. That’s what’s good.
Jessica: Nice. So my what’s good is that I finally saw Avengers: Infinity War which means I’m finally able to read all the things that people have been saying and listen to all the theories.
Amira: How did you avoid spoilers this long?
Jessica: It was really hard but I did it. I did not know all of that, I did not know that all of that was going to happen.
Shireen: Don’t tell me! I haven’t seen it yet.
Jessica: I was very proud of myself. I’m not, I’m not. I was very careful right there with what I said. And then the other thing’s that making me really happy is my whole family is very into a local awesome musician named Mobley and that’s M-O-B-L-E-Y. He just released his first album, it’s called Fresh Lies, Volume One. I highly recommend it.
We’ve known about him for about a couple years. I like him just like as a guy, as a dude, friend. But the album is really, really great. It’s on Spotify, you can find it. And we all are singing it. My son learned one of the songs on the piano. It’s just been really fun. If you need somewhere to start, his single Swoon is wonderful.
That’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn It All Down on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to subscribe to Burn It All Down, and you should, you can do so on Apple Podcast, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn.
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That’s it. From Amira Rose Davis, Brenda Elsey, and Shireen Ahmed, I’m Jessica Luther, until next week.