Books Tori Recommends:
by Jonathan Metzl
Links we mention:
I’m Tori Williams, Douglas and I am a writer and anti racism educator. I actually grew up in, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. That’s where I live now. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, my entire life, mainly in Portland and Seattle. And yeah, I didn’t really, I kind of came to this work. I sort of fell into it.
A lot of, a lot of different things sort of brought me to this place. But I mean initially like, gosh, there’s so many, there’s so many places I could go.
Did you go to Portland State University to their conflict resolution program. Like, do you know that they have a program there? I applied to go there and then I could never come up with the funding. And it’s really hard to find a job in Portland.
Yeah. Oh my gosh. It is so hard to find a job here. I hear that for sure.
You can’t even be a substitute teacher without a master’s degree or at least that’s what they told me. I don’t know
That, that, that sounds right. No, I did not. I have not attended that program. I’ve heard about it. And I think that like, conceptually, it seems really good. I have a lot of friends, obviously you’ve gotten to Portland State, so yeah.
How did you get into this work?
I might end up there. I’ve been talking to the Dean of the School of Public Health about like going into that program.
So yeah, it was, it was journey. So I think that the thing that really kind of kicked it off for me was when I got pregnant with my oldest child, I started doing all this research around birth outcomes for black mothers and they were abysmal. So essentially finding out black mothers are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white moms.
And black infants are like twice as likely as white infants today. And like the first 30 days of life. And that really kind caught my attention, made me really nervous for obvious reasons. And then when I was pregnant with my second, that is when the Ferguson uprising happened as a response to Michael Brown being murdered.
And that was kind of when I was like, okay, this seems important. Like I need to start speaking out about this issue and then fast forward another two years or so two, three years. I’m trying to remember, I guess it was probably two years. I ended up getting a job at a, in a neuroscience lab at OHSU here in Portland and it’s a super diverse lab and the PI is black and a lot of the post-docs were, were people of color.
And a lot of the work that was being done there was around racism and implicit bias.
And it was just a really incredible learning experience even though I was working and not like in the, in the actual med school program. But that gave me a lot of, a lot more information and sort of, kind of, it started to like back up what I had been learning sort of on my own. And yeah, so I just sort of, I just sort of like fell into this.
I had been very vocal on Twitter and like after Michael Brown was murdered.
and I ended up losing like probably 60% or so of my Twitter followers. Cause people did not like what I had to say. So, but yeah, eventually over time people started paying attention to like what I was putting out into the world and yeah, I’ve actually been able to transition and do this full time now.
So I do, like, as you said, I did the White Homework Podcast which is a lot of fun and that was kind of the point, right. Was to be able to make anti racism, education, not something other than this kind of like a dull, boring shame or guilt inducing conversation.
I wanted it to be a little bit more fun, a little bit more accessible because I think it’s easier to learn that way. It’s easier to learn when you think that the person who is teaching you actually likes you. Right? And go ahead and
I liked the way that like action steps. You actually have homework for people to do where they can learn and grow. Like I’ve learned so much trying to finish. I have listened to about mass incarceration and I have.
You know, a little bit of background in that. And I took a trauma informed class and some of the websites I went to, I was like, I’ve been here before, but then a ton of other stuff, I’m like, wow, I had no idea. And I love that. You’re all about restorative justice, which made me want to talk about and explain what it is.
Like, I just love the way you have all these ideas. Like you have solutions, whereas so many of you were like, Oh, can we do? And this is what we’ve always done. And like, you know, the way that you talk about punishment, doesn’t work! like that
We have solutions for our prison systems that we can, or maybe we don’t have the solutions right now, but that there’s a way to change it.
And that, I don’t know. There’s just so much.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that was definitely and aspects that I wanted to bring to the conversation was like, again, I know it wasn’t supposed to be hopeful necessarily, but it was supposed to,
I wanted intentionally to create an environment where people felt like the work could be done.
Where people weren’t going, Oh my God, this is way too big for anyone to ever solve.And they just throw it on the towel and walk away.
I wanted it to be. And like I said, people tend to, when it comes to racism, I think white people tend to go either like the shame guilt side, like ditch, or they go to the like kind of reactionary dismissive. That’s not real ditch.
And so I wanted to be able to keep people on the road, right by talking about restorative justice and how restorative justice is good for everyone. Right? It’s, it’s necessary for restoration to occur for people of color. And that work primarily falls on, on white Americans or any white people who live in it like a colonized country.
But restorative justice is also good for white people.
Like it’s good for your humanity. It’s good for your empathy. It’s good for your body, right? Because it like lowers stress.
You know, there’s a lot of talk around like police reform and abolition and, and it’s like, you know, something that I keep trying to bring up is just like policing. Isn’t good for police officers either. Like we have a system that really wears people down, it causes massive amounts of emotional and mental trauma.
There is a huge crisis of, of suicide among police officers. And like, it doesn’t have to be this way as my friend, Andre Henry always says, so it was like trying to give people space to imagine what the world could be like, if we are just brave enough to leave what we’ve always known behind. So yeah.
War Is Obsolete
Exactly. Like imagine can be different. We can do this. Like I have this big poster on our driveway on our pump house that says war is obsolete because I believe we can get to a peaceful world. And like, I teach my kids over and over when I’m a teacher at school, like there’s this book by Todd Parr called the Peace Book.
And it talks about peace is not just an absence of war. Peace is everybody having shoes, everybody having a home, like the kids always love when it’s like everybody having pizza, but I’m always like, do you know how many kids in the world would give anything to have a pizza once a week?
Like they can’t even fathom what a pizza looks like. Like when all our kids get to go to school, like everywhere, like I’m always, my mom’s always like, well, that’s their country’s, you know, job to figure out.
I just don’t feel that way. I’m like we’re humans. There should not be kids on our planet that are hungry. That don’t have access to clean water for cooking or surely for drinking, but also for cooking for cleaning themselves for, but this is 2020. And that’s why I love millennials so much because I think you guys, you’re not going to accept it.
And you’re not like I see the actions you kids are taking every day. I call you kids because my husband is 14 years older than I am. So his daughters are both millennials, my stepkids. So I always call them kids, even though I’m just in my fifties.
But to me, I just think like, you’re, you’re gonna make this change. I feel like my generation I’m generation X and we, we might have, you know, protested and digital, a little bit of stuff, but you know, we’ve obviously become complacent.
Yeah. I mean, I think that you’re absolutely right. I think that a lot of people, a lot of millennials and the younger generation that TBD zoomers or whatever, we’re calling them right now. I’m not really sure. Yeah. They’re, they’re pretty impressive too. I think coming from them. Yes. And I think that it’s, it’s really, we have been told that the system works.
If you know how to work it, if you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, if you can, if you have grit and determination and don’t let anything sidetrack you. Right. And we’re like, okay, but we have the data now. It doesn’t work. It works. It works for a few people really, really well. And it doesn’t work for most people at all.
And yeah. Being able to say, okay, it’s really, it’s not okay to live in a country specifically where there are billionaires and there are kids who don’t have enough money to have a lunch at school.
Like those two things cannot coexist in a moral country.
And so really kind of being willing to wrestle with these ideas of like, what does justice look like for the most marginalized people in society? What does it look like for everyone to have access to fresh, healthy food?
Right? And trying to imagine, and creatively come up with solutions for, to help people survive in a system as it is, and to create a new system that works for everyone, instead of just working for the people that was designed to work for, which is not everyone.
And, you know, I’m really, I’m really grateful for, you know, a lot of the people, you know, my age, who were, who were doing the work, I mean, I’m great, but I’m grateful for anyone who is willing to learn, right?
Who’s willing to listen and learn and examine their own lives, motivations, behaviors, thought patterns, assumptions about the world and, and really kind of sit down with that and like apply a critical lens as opposed to going well, again, this is just, this is just how we’ve always done it. And it kind of works for me or, you know, aspiration.
Like I don’t want to tax billionaires because maybe one day I’ll be a billionaire. It’s like, no, you won’t come on.
Like, let’s make this work for more people. You know, something that I keep telling people on social media mainly is like, okay, there’s, there’s five, there’s 550 billionaires in the US and 550,000 people will go to sleep outside tonight. So you are basically a thousand times more likely to become homeless than to become a billionaire.
That’s a great way to frame it. And now they’re saying there were 615 billionaires when Corona started and now there’s 630. So there’s 15 new billionaires in the world since the coronavirus started.
But how many people have lost their jobs and their means? And I just don’t feel like people are looking into the future and seeing the impact that like, if we don’t get this country together, we don’t have time to waste. Businesses are not going to be able to go backwards and survive through next year.
And I don’t know, there’s so much about the pandemic. I, I can’t, and I’m married to a news junkie, so it’s on over and over and over in different formats. And, and I understand the point of watching different formats and seeing it.
So you know what this person is saying and what this person’s learning and that, but for me, it gets a little intense. I just am baffled by like I’m in rural Montana. So people don’t believe it here. They’re out. Like I’m almost scared to go out in public, certainly in the late afternoons, I would not go out with a mask on because I’m looked at as a radical liberal where I live. Like, I’m just, it’s just kind of, I don’t even know what to think.
Anyway, let’s talk about solutions. I feel like you are, you know, that’s like one of your greatest things is you have solutions for people, but I also feel like, like, so when George Floyd first happened, I am a lot of the podcasters that I was listening to were like, we’ll read White fragility, White fragility, but I didn’t feel like a lot of it came through to me until I started listening to your White Homework Podcast .
Like I realized how white of a lens I was looking through that violence, that what I consider violence is what white people consider violence. And it’s, what’s acceptable based on the society that we have right now, but that there are other, like other people might be like that.
And like, even I argue with my English teacher about reading the hunger games, I’m like the hunger games is so violent. Don’t you feel that violent? And she just kind of looks at me and he’s like, really? I mean, I guess like, she doesn’t think it’s any more violent than anything else, but to me, I am so appalled by all the violence in that book.
And just, I guess we all have different frames of mind. I don’t, I’m getting off topic. Go ahead.
Yeah. I mean, there, there are, we do have lots of research. We have lots of data. We know how to, we know how to improve the system. And I, I mean, I think that’s the thing that kind of ends up being the most frustrating, probably up until up until the end of May was it felt like we have all this information.
We, we know all of these things in terms of, you know, improving outcomes for people and, you know, crime reduction or whatever, whatever the thing is that you were concerned about.
It’s like we have all of this data. We can improve, even if we don’t, even if we don’t destroy the whole system, right. Even if that’s not what happens…
We can still improve outcomes for people by huge amounts.
And we have all this information, we know how to do it, but it’s like, how are we going to get people’s implement this? And I, you know, recently in the last, you know, since, since George Floyd was murdered, so you know about seven, has it been seven weeks now, six, seven weeks, somewhere in there.
I feel like people are taking these not new ideas because a lot of these ideas have been around forever. It’s just, now we have the data to prove that they work.
So taking these ideas, these like abolitionist ideas and saying, “Hey, how can we implement this in our city?”
It’s it’s at this point, I don’t think that there’s been a lot of movement on like the state level for most places. I mean, especially when we talk about something like policing, you know, we can, we can pass all the laws. We can make all of the reforms, but there’s no way to enforce them, which again is intentional.
That that option doesn’t really work. I mean, last night, Seattle cut the, the Seattle city council cut the budget for Seattle PD by 50% voted to cut the budget for Seattle police department by 50% and
put those funds into mental health care and housing and social work. Because again, we know that these programs work.
But we spend, you know, most cities, most big cities spend 40% of their budget on a police department yesterday. I was listening to a podcast yesterday or sometime in the last week or so. And the host said like, it’s, our cities are set up in terms of like, in terms of their budget, it’s like a small army with a city around it. Right? Like we build, we build up the police department and that’s like the thing that the city funds.
And again, it’s like, we don’t get good outcomes from the system. No one does.
I mean, when you talk about assault, like especially sexual assault, like how many rape kits are just sitting. We know like hundreds of thousands of rape kits are just sitting on shelves in police departments right now, because the system doesn’t care about us, right?
The system doesn’t care if we were assaulted, this system has no motivation to go and track down the people who are committing violence, you know, so frequently, you know.
Well, that’s a really good point is that police officers, every time they go out there, they’re putting their lives in danger. And so if we address these social issues, like if they’re going to take that budget and put more money into mental health and, you know, housing!
We’re having such a housing crisis, like you were talking about homelessness before there’s 66,000 people in Los Angeles that either are living on a couch or on the streets or in a shelter or in their car.
And I was talking to somebody they’re like, well, why don’t they just get a job? And I’m like, you know what, if you’re living in your car, you probably have a job. You have a car, you can get the car. You know, there’s not 60,000, 66,000 probably unemployed people in Los Angeles, but you’re counted as homeless.
If you don’t have your own home, if you have to stay on your auntie’s couch or, you know, here or there, people should be able to work. We have people working in this country working full time, husbands and wives working full time that still can’t afford a home.
Older people are constantly like in our area, they keep talking about senior housing that we desperately need, you know? And just so if they’re taking some of that money away, and that was another thing that you talked about, if somebody is raped, that the last thing they want is to police.
And you talked about, was it 27% of police are domestic abusers of themselves? I think. And then the last thing you want, if you’ve just been raped or sexually assaulted or something, or even just assaulted is for somebody like that to come to you, a social worker could come see you.
FYI- all I could find on this is that it’s under Officer Involved Domestic Violence
I mean, if you’re still in danger and the perpetrator’s still around. Yeah. Maybe you want the police if that’s, you know. Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great point. And I think, you know, as a lot of people start saying in the last couple of weeks, it’s like, well, they’re still, it’s not like when you call nine one, one, no one is going to pick up.
Like, that’s not what we’re talking about are still going to be services. They just, aren’t going to be someone who got three to six months of training with a sidearm and that’s all they know.
Right. They don’t know anything about deescalation. Like they know how to shoot and that’s the only tool we give them. So we shouldn’t be surprised when they use it. Yeah.
And when you get in those situations, people’s like blood PR you know, your blood’s literally willing your pressure. You can feel your blood flowing through your veins more, all of a sudden you’re into like, probably not even making them smarter decisions because I mean, I can compare it to being in a classroom when I’ve been like, what should I, you know, later on I can be like, Oh, well this is maybe what I should’ve done.
I could have diffused that situation. But when you’re in the heat of the moment, it’s always different. And then, but also like if we addressed a lot of the social issues, we wouldn’t have so many problems. We wouldn’t have people like, that’s what always bothers me is that, you know, I just.
I feel like I I’ve argued with so many times about people who are drunks and like, why would somebody go buy a 12 pack on their kid’s birthday instead of, and drink that instead of getting it’s because in their mind, they’re supposed to provide this perfect party for their kids.
And so they feel like, well, if I can provide this perfect party, you know, for the little bit of money, it’s going to cost me to forget about it and drink this thing. Like I’m going to get over the failure. They have no hope for themselves.
They don’t have enough confidence in their ability to be a provider or the system has beat them down so much that they are unable, no matter how hard they work and just, you can’t just look at it as that, like I used to argue with teachers all the time, they’d be like, Oh, their parents are just such junction. Oh, the parents did this. Or, Oh, why not? Their parents read to them?
I’m like, how many classes have we taken on how to read and pull up the vocabulary from a book you can’t compare what you know, what to do and how to read to a child, to a parent who’s barely, you know, maybe their parents didn’t read to them or they didn’t do this. Like, I always feel like there’s this big blame game going on.
And ultimately it’s our country as a whole, that should be providing a basic, decent standard of living.
You know, we keep hearing Thom Hartmann was saying yesterday on the news about if we go back to school remotely, you know, where how’s is going to be fair. Like the kids that I taught last year from a wealthy Whitefish, I mean, you know, I had a mix of parents and not everybody was, but certainly they all had available internet access. They all, either the school gave them a computer or they had a computer, you know…
We have really good internet in Northwest Montana because there’s a lot of big remote people who have come in here that have made sure. But I, lots of people ask me, there’s not as great of internet in other parts of Montana. And certainly around our country, I forget where I was going.
Yeah. I’ve heard that Oregon. I have a friend in Oregon. Who’s like, absolutely. He’s like, we’re not getting internet because that should be broadband should be free for everybody. It should be a, you know, the government should make sure that everybody has equal access to. Cause I guess in Oregon city it’s expensive?
It is, it is. But it’s yeah, it’s a utility it’s necessary. If when you tell someone, go get a job, you can’t get a job without internet access. Right? Like you either have to have a smartphone or a tablet and access to the internet.
Like you it’s. Yes. I totally hear you. It’s impossible anymore. And I think you bring, you bring up such an amazing point about trauma, right?
And like, when so many times, especially like white people, I think don’t really understand the systemic trauma piece of parental failure.
In this case, like just using the example that you gave of like parents not reading to their kids consistently enough, or, you know, doing other things that are educational, you know, whatever that looks like.
And I think that there’s two pieces to that.
One is maybe like a lot of people just don’t have the resources.
I mean, like I’ve, I’ve been that parent where I, you know, wanted to be able to take, you know, take my kids out on a hike and it’s like, Oh, this is really like, this is hard. Like you have to have a car, you have to have gas money. You’ve got to have like all these other little things, right. Hand sanitizer and water bottles and a little backpack. And you know, if your kids are really small, you got to take diapers and wipes. And it’s just like, Oh, this is, this is tough.
Now. It’s like, okay, how am I going to get my kids through? Like, even if it’s like a small trail, like, how am I going to get my kids through? If one of them falls down, scrapes their knee and like, can’t walk for, you know, what are we going to do in those kind of situations?
And so I completely understand that, like, there is a piece of that, that like, especially if you have anxiety, which, I mean, if you’ve, you know, if you’ve been exposed to violence, like you probably have anxiety or depression and again, like poverty, instigates violence, like across, it doesn’t matter if it’s like rural Montana or if it’s Memphis or Moscow or Mombasa, like, like it doesn’t matter
where there is poverty, you are going to see crime and, and anybody who tries to argue differently, like, hi, we have numbers on this. We can talk this.
But you know, when you have someone who is exposed to who sees violence, who doesn’t know necessarily where their next meal is coming from, who doesn’t know necessarily, who’s going to be caring for them the next day, right.
You grow up and you become an adult. Who’s trying to again, work in the system that works pretty well.
If you haven’t experienced trauma, if you had a consistent, like, you always knew that your parents were going to be home at 5:30 PM. And that was never like something you had to worry about. You always knew that you were going to have a meal that your mom made for you fresh out of the oven. Like every day, six 30. That was your thing.
You always knew that your parents are gonna read you a bedtime story at 8PM, like having that experience leads to very different outcomes for people, mainly white people.
But I mean, people of color, some of us get to experience that too, or even like,
Like is my electricity going to get shit?
Exactly, exactly. And having like that tick being poor takes up so much of your like totally pivoting to like the neuroscience piece of it. But being poor takes up so much of your prefrontal cortex in terms of the amount of energy you have to expend to just figure out how you’re going to like shuffle things around and, and pay bills.
And again, like we’ve done studies on this in the States in terms of like in terms of poverty and like the loss of sleep because of stress.
And, and they get the exact same results when in studies that are done in India with people who live on the street and who just trying to survive, like, it’s just a massive amount of stress.
And you’re using so much of you, you know, your, your body limits the amount of energy that your brain can use during the course of the day, because it’s a very energy intensive Oregon, right?
It’s like 25% of your energy every day is just your brain. And so you know, we’re looking at these, we’re looking at all this data and we’re seeing like, these situations are one easy to fix and two consistent across the board, right?
It’s not like, Oh, they’re lazy. Oh, they’re not trying hard enough. It’s like, no trauma has these effects. They are predictable.
We can help mitigate them as a society, if that is what we choose to do.
And it’s just like, where is the political will to make these changes? Right? Because again, it becomes a generational thing, right? If you didn’t have security as a child, you were probably not going to be able to provide security no matter what your intentions are for your own kids. Like, that’s just how brains work.
That when a brain experiences trauma, when a body experiences trauma, that is much more likely to be the outcome for their children as well.
Do you know about that thing?
It’s called the ACE study, the adverse childhood experiences study.
So that original study was done on like college, something like 80 co I can’t remember. But like, that was a big thing we talked about when I took a trauma informed class. Browning was that was started out on college, educated white people.
And it’s like these 10 questions. And if, if you’ve had these 10 things, and so I’m taking it in this room and like, most of the people in the room have between four to seven.
And I think it was only one in the room who had zero, like in my that’s the life that I grew up in, people just don’t understand the link between, and I’ll put the link to the study.
People can go check that each thing out, but yeah. Trauma will affect you for your whole life based on, I forgot where I was going with that.
Yeah. No, I mean, it, it does in, if, if you don’t ever, if you can’t ever catch a break, right. Like yeah. It impacts you your entire life. And then you, statistically are going to die seven to 13 years earlier than someone who just hasn’t experienced those same traumas. Right.
So I think that, yeah, you’re, you’re right. You’re right on the money. And, and, you know, I think that a lot of the trauma, like, as you said, because I think it was like a Kaiser foundation study that was done in like San Diego, the first ACE test that went out to, to, to folks.
And yeah, as you said, it was mostly middle class college educated white folks.
And those were the, those were some of the things not, and again, like not everybody had experienced everything clearly, but those are some of the traumas they experienced.
Like, what if you went and you took, you talked to like couple hundred 17 year olds and LA who have been housing insecure for their entire lives. Like, what would those traumas look like? You know, and again, right.
If you don’t give people a break and breathing room, then yeah. The cycle just is going to repeat itself and people do the best that they can with the margin that they have leftover. But if we really want things to improve for everybody, we have to do more work in that.
I mean, that’s why I, with White Homework, I decided that I wanted to use myPatreon to pay the rent for a family of color for a year, because being able to get that breathing room and that space is so important to me, you know, as someone who grew up really poor.
And so I just really was like, how can I, how can I give, how can I use white homework to give back to people? And that was, that was just the opportunity that like made the most sense to me. But yeah, it’s like, we know how to fix these things. It’s just, do we have the will to fix them? Yeah.
So what are some of the solutions you would like to see put into place when you’re UN attorney general?
Hmm. And so, okay. I think so one thing that I think would be really important, going a little bit less, less abroad, cause I, I spend most of my time and work and re research in the US one thing that is really important to me is I want to go through and do a state by state analysis of how long people of color. So in the South, primarily indigenous and black people were prevented from accessing the polls are prevented from running, running in local elections.
Temporary over-representation at the federal level
And I want to take so, and I got this just so people know cause they can go look it up. I got this idea from the book when When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson And I highly recommend that to people just because it’s short and it’s super accessible and talks about the ways that the U S intentionally created these systems and these tracks for people based on their skin color and like getting out of your track is kind of tough. So looking at like, okay, we had Mississippi became a state and 18, 19, I think I, I can’t remember.
And Mississippi tried really, really hard, like minus reconstruction, Mississippi tried really hard to make sure that no black people and no native people were allowed to vote until it until the 1960s, right. Until the civil rights act.
So how, like just doing the math, how many years was that? And then I’m like, okay, let’s take those that number of years. And we’re going to create X number of additional congressional seats and two more Senate seats for Mississippi and people of color exclusively get to vote on those for those people who were running.
And we just give them a temporary, like over, we give them temporary over-representation at the federal level to make up for this very systemic attentional injustice, where we were excluded from being able to participate in, in like our own outcomes, right.
In our own lives and our own destinies, because we were excluded from being able to vote. And so to me, I think that that would be one thing that would be huge because you know, you’re going to have, how many, how many Southern States were there?
You’re going to have, you know, my brain isn’t working right now, an extra 20 senators or so, and an extra, probably a hundred people in Congress who are people who were running specifically for people of color, right. They didn’t have to try to earn the white vote in order to get elected because these votes specifically are for black indigenous people of color.
And then it’s like, okay, this is a temporary seat that’s going to exist for, you know, 160 years or however long your state was, you know, your state existed, but you excluded people of color from participating and then it expires, then it goes away and we can go back to, you know, we can reevaluate at that time and say like, Hey, like, did this work, were we able to make change? That works again for everyone and not just for, and not just for a select few. The book that I am reading right now is called dying of whiteness.
And it’s by Dr. Jonathan Metsul and he digs into, he really digs into the data around the way that white people frequently will vote against social services. That would benefit them as individuals because they feel that people of color are not entitled to those services. So no one should get them essentially. And it’s really interesting because again, like this behavior has a net negative impact on the lives of white people.
It has a net negative impact on their kids opportunities, right? To, for college and careers. It has a net negative impact on, on rates of suicide. And we have, I think again, it’s like, we have to be able to look at the data and go, okay, these things that we have been doing are not working and we need to, we know what works and we need to change to something that is going to work better for more people across the board.
Well, I mean, I just think that’s so important, but I think you’re going to have a hard time when we can even get people to vote in the elections. We have like, didn’t Kentucky, wasn’t that where they just did the thing where they had like six, Oh, was it 6,000 people had one polling place to go to on the, at the primary, like, yeah, I don’t understand why can’t we just, every school has an election thing at every school. Like what, what is going on that we have so many problems having polling places open.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that voter suppression is a very serious problem. And you know, if, for people who are listening, like one of the ways that you can actually help mitigate that is to volunteer, to become a pole worker. Some of those positions are paid, some of them aren’t, but that can make voting more accessible to more people. Like the more poll workers there are. So something to think about, like if we would go back when I was a kid, really not go to school on election day, election day, and veterans day, like Tuesday and Thursday, and they were holidays and parents were home.
We did not have school.
Speaker 1 (41m 34s): And I’ve always went to the voting booth with my mom. Like I remember, like, I think taking your kids with you is super important. And I think also like if we could go back to where it was a holiday where we had the day off, so people didn’t have to worry about trying to get to vote when they have to go to work or they can’t stand in line because they have, you know, they could only stand in line for so long. I don’t even understand why people should have to stand in line. We should be able to vote in this country. Absolutely. You know, just as easy as for me, I’ve never had to really stand in line more than 10 minutes at the most.
I don’t think anybody should have to stand in line for that long, like it’s voting or like now we should be able to vote by mail. Anyway. That’s almost easier. Absolutely. I always liked going to vote. It was kind of a romantic thing. My husband and I did together, but it’s awesome. It’s just as easy to go throw the ballot in the mailbox. And I feel like that would be better. Should those are ways listeners could help change things. What do you think about Washington? D C they’re talking about becoming a state.
Yeah. I mean, I think that that would be that’s important, right? Like the entire premise ostensibly of, of America and independence was like, we don’t want taxation without representation. And this is for some reason what we decided to do to Washington DC. I’m like, that’s, that’s not okay. Like that’s not in line with the values that we claim we have. So yeah, let’s fix that real quick. That’d be amazing. So what else do you want to tell listeners?
You’re probably like, I want to get off this phone. It’s been a long time. Although we still have a few minutes to go to hit my peer in 53 minutes, but we’ll be okay. They’re like, what do you like, what are the big takeaways? You want people to come away with thinking that they could do for, I mean, you’ve given us quite a few ideas, but like I would say that the biggest things would probably be like, understand that, like it’s not impossible.
You can make a difference. Like your voice actually matters. And advocating for justice actually matters. Whether whether or not like we, we see the changes that we want to see, like making small, incremental changes on the individual level. Like, you know, just what I decided to do personally with, with white homework and pay the rent. I’m like that matters. We, even if we can’t fix things systemically right now at this moment, we can still make a difference on an individual to individual level.
And the other piece I would say is just like self-education, which I guess is like, there’s a really like what I talk about all the time on my homework. It’s like, this is, this is your work. This is your job. And you can do it. You have the skillset necessary to do, to educate
Speaker 0 (44m 32s): Yourself and then to come up with a plan of action that works for you and your family, your community, like the amount of privilege that you have or don’t have. And I mean, yeah, I think that it’s like empowering people to self-educate and then take the next steps. Being able to put that education into action are super important.
That’s another one that’s probably hard for people to go to. Like when I went to Portland to go check out PSU, I went on the worst weekend. Like not even paying attention and went over labor day weekend. So I couldn’t meet any professors. The school was closed. I was like the dumbest thing I ever did, but it was the weekend I had to go. And so anyway, but so I went and spent a lot of time at the art museum, but I’ll bet those are hard things for parents to do, just to get, to go do things in a museum when you have kids and just cause you gotta bring almost all those same things to do something like that.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I always tell people in Montana, like it’s super expensive to go to glacier park, like I think anymore, like it’s like $50 for a pass. And I feel like, you know, if you have kids, it’s hard enough to just come up with the gas money and the, you know, the picnic food and the, like you said, the shoes for your kids to wear, how are you going to come up with that money? You know, there’s so many families, especially on the reservation where, you know, I worked at borders up against the park. Now they probably actually, they might not need a pass to get into the park.
Now that I say it, but certainly on my side of the mountain where there’s not, as, you know, people are more in the, in the County, I’m in show next to the reservation. We have the highest unemployment in the state frequently. And it’s a very poor community. Like I told the people frequently that I worked with, there’s nothing I’ve seen over here on the reservation that I haven’t seen in the County where I live. Like I know eight people that have committed suicide. Two of them kids, one of them, I taught at headstart when he was an eighth grader committed suicide.
And then just, I’ve seen poverty here so intensely because it is a very difficult place to make a living. And there aren’t a lot of jobs. And so there is a lot of alcohol and there’s a lot of drugs and there’s a lot of abuse and domestic violence and things. And, but it’s just on the reservation. They have like 20,000 people where we have like 3000 people or something like it’s a much smaller town. So it’s, you know, it doesn’t happen as frequently and you don’t see as much of it, but definitely you see the effects of poverty where I live and the, and the cyclical amount of it.
And there’s so many mothers that I have talked to you are, you know, they’re just like, they can’t even imagine. They can’t even like fathom them having a job that would pay more than their had to get on food stamps. And then the other one that I was always arguing with teachers about is like, you know, technically, most people are on food stamps for six months and you get a dollar 72, a meal I think are less than $2 a meal per person. And I would like to see people try to, and on my show, like one of the reasons I started my show is, you know, we talk about organic food a lot, but if you’re not growing your own organic food, like trying to go to the grocery store and buy that food, I struggle to buy organic food.
I struggled just to buy produce in general. Like not even organic, just a lot of times I go to the store, Oh my gosh, how can I afford this? And here’s like a tombstone pizza for five bucks as compared to here’s a, you know, thing of strawberries for five bucks, that’s going to last like, you know, there’s just processed food thing of Kraft, macaroni and cheese is so much cheaper than, you know, even buying bananas or something or, you know, organic squash or, or regular squash or broccoli or cauliflowers just crazy.
Sometimes there’s always things that I just feel like people take for granted that they don’t realize that other people can imagine. And so many people that wanted to vote for Donald Trump when he was running, like would tell me, they’re like, well, I don’t want my money to, I worked so hard for like, they were so against Bernie Sanders, my husband, I were big Bernie supporters. And they’re just like, I’m not going to let my hard earned money, go to help somebody. Who’s so lazy. They’re going to stay on their couch.
But I have yet to meet people that are so lazy that they want someone else to work from. People want a paycheck people, if you don’t, if you feel like you’re going to go to work and you’re going to struggle, and you’re going to maybe get a job at the town pump, and you’re never going to leave that job at the down bump, you know, people where I grew up, they’re going to think I’m going to go to the town pump and then I’m going to become the manager. And then I’m going to get hired to go somewhere else. Like they have hope they envisioned that they can do better. But if you don’t have that confidence in yourself that you can provide, you know, a basic standard of living you, that’s where I feel like a lot of people in our country struggle because they don’t feel like that.
And in a lot of ways, they’re not ever going to get a better job than that. I mean, my stepdaughter worked at the local grocery store all through high school and never, they never gave her a raise after three years, even after she graduated. And she was still working there full time, she was still making minimum wage the whole time, even though she was in charge of the produce department, she was in charge of making orders and doing all these things. She was, she was still always working for minimum wage. And then that’s the other one. If you pay people minimum wage, you can be a manager with a college degree, a dollar more per hour and pay somebody $9 an hour.
Yeah. And just like, things like that, that’s where, to me systemic poverty comes from in a lot of ways because people don’t even know, you know, what they could that have the potential. They don’t have the confidence. They don’t, they don’t have the success. Is that the series of successes it takes to believe that they can take control of your own life?
Speaker 2 (50m 41s): Absolutely. Yep, absolutely. So I think that right. It’s if there are small ways that we, people who are passionate about this can
Speaker 0 (50m 53s): Passionate about it.
Speaker 2 (50m 55s): Jack, I couldn’t really tell if there are small ways that we can collaborate to make things better. Again, just like one or two families at a time. Like that makes a huge impact. It’s not going to fix everything, but like in the meantime it does actually improve the outcomes of people’s lives. And I think that that is so, so important.
Speaker 0 (51m 28s): Tori, thank you so much for sharing with us today and just, I wish you the best then just keep on rocking that mic and doing what you’re doing and turning me in all your listeners ears on to all these great resources. Like I’ve been listening to the ear hustle and what’s the other one. Is it Alex, just all these different podcasts, the books that you recommended and I’ll make sure they get in the show notes and just, you know, having these conversations and being willing to take the time like the other day you were saying, I’m so tired from talking to people and just trying to explain to people and just, but your work is so important and you are making a difference and people like me are listening and hopefully my listeners are enjoying this and just keep on doing what you’re doing.
Speaker 2 (52m 19s): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. This is awesome. It’s nice to talk to people who are really fired up and passionate about making change in, in a, in a real way. So I really appreciate it.
Speaker 0 (52m 34s): Well, I appreciate you because I feel like I, you know, I’ve certainly learned a ton, but I feel like a lot of the things that you say just like are near and dear to my heart and things that I’ve tried to tell people and just
Speaker 2 (52m 50s): Okay.
Speaker 0 (52m 50s): Crazy world we live in, we’ll get outside and enjoy that beautiful sunny day. And I will send you the recording when it’s live. And thank you so much.
Speaker 2 (52m 59s): Of course. Thank you. All right. Have a great day. Awesome. Thank you. Thanks Tori.
This show has been transcribed by PodScribe
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