Ep. 217 Surviving in the Face of Death with David Dennis Jr. – Transcript

This episode we hear from cultural critic David Dennis, Jr – Senior Writer at ESPN’s Andscape and author of the new book The Movement Made Us: A Father, a Son, and the Legacy of a Freedom Ride. We talk about the similarities and differences between Black Lives Matter and the Civil Rights Movement, the book that inspired David’s storytelling, and what it means to survive when you’re planning to die.

The Stacks Book Club selection for June is White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue … and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson. We will discuss the book on June 29th with David Dennis Jr.


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Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we welcome David Dennis Jr. He is a senior writer at ESPN is Andscape and a cultural critic who is named one of the routes 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2020. I sat down to speak with him about his new book, The Movement Made Us: A Father, a Son and the Legacy of a Freedom Ride. It’s a blend of oral history and memoir telling the story of his father David Dennis senior, and his role as an organizer in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement as a freedom writer, part of the leadership and a young man confronting his own mortality. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. The stacks book club pick for June is white negros when cornrows were in vogue and other thoughts on cultural appropriation by Lauren Michelle Jackson. We will be discussing the book on Wednesday, June 29. With David Dennis Jr. Listen, the Stacks is a completely independent podcast made possible only by the support of our listeners. I cannot stress this enough, I would not be able to make this show each week without the support of the Stax pack our incredible bookish community on Patreon. If not for them, there would be no show. So if you like the podcast and you want to show your love, plus, earn perks, like bonus episodes with some of your favorite authors and readers, shout outs on this very podcast, monthly book club chats and more, go to patreon.com/thestacks. And speaking of those shout outs, here are some of our newest members of the stacks pack. Clementine Ford, Regina Wade, Carrie Williams summer journey, Liza maysonet, and Sydney van wolven. Thank you all so much. And thank you, thank you, thank you to my dear friend, the entire stacks back. And now it’s time for my conversation with David Dennis Jr.

Okay, everybody, I’m very excited. Today, my guest is David Dennis Jr. The Junior is important in this case, because he wrote a book called The movement made us with his father who is you guessed it, David Dennis, senior civil rights hero. It’s an oral history. David also does a bunch of other stuff, which we’re going to talk about too. But for now, just welcome to the Stacks.

David Dennis Jr 2:28
Thank you so much. I’m excited. We look forward to this all week.

Traci Thomas 2:31
I’m really excited to talk to you. I was just telling you offline that I just finished the book this morning. And I love your dad very much. And I have so many questions about the book. But before we get to that, can you sort of tell people about yourself if you don’t know this, but I’ve given you a proper introduction that lists all your professional things. Okay, so you don’t have to do that you can tell us a little bit more about like who you are.

David Dennis Jr 2:56
Ah, let’s see. What about me. So I’m a writer, of course, and people can’t see but you can see I am a comic book, nerd and hip hop fan. And I live in right outside of Atlanta right now. With my wife and two kids. And what else you want to know. I think that’s that’s all like the non worker stuff that I do. Where were you born? Oh, born in Lafayette, Louisiana, raised in Jackson, Mississippi. And then I went to school at Davidson College, which I’ve referenced every once in a while.

Traci Thomas 3:32
Shout out to Steph Curry.

David Dennis Jr 3:34
Yep. Yep. And then Clint Smith. Yes. And clan. They’re both Okay. So we’ve had a pretty good 36 hours between the three of us.

Traci Thomas 3:43
So yeah, Steph has not definitely played he played, he placed a lot of shots. People are gonna be hearing this in June. So this may sound like insane. But we’re talking about after game two verse Memphis when Steph and clay basically scored nine points, which is exactly how many points I also scored in that game. So it was awesome for us. It’s okay.

David Dennis Jr 4:00
But by the time people listen to this, the warriors would be on the way to a championship.

Traci Thomas 4:05
So knock on wood. I’m so superstitious. I hope that you’re right. I already told David because Steph Curry tweeted or posted about his book that if the Warriors did not win the championship, it was actually going to be David’s entire fault because Steph has never tweeted about your book before. And so now it’s on Neil.

David Dennis Jr 4:24
Well, it’s on Drake. So Drake bet on the Warriors. And so we have you know, you got to overcome the Drake curse.

Traci Thomas 4:30
I know. It’s a nightmare. There’s a lot I’m very stressed. Okay. Let’s start with a book. Then we’ll talk about other things. So the book is sort of an oral history, sort of, because you talk to your dad, he tells you his stories, and then you write them. The it’s not direct quotes necessarily. So can you explain sort of how you thought about approaching that? Because usually with oral history, it’s just like the person said this and I wrote it down.

David Dennis Jr 4:58
Yeah. So it will was originally like, a very like journalistic book, you know, and or the in the proposal stage, it was very journalistic. And it was like whatever they said, I would just write, and try to make it not boring, which is right, exactly as it was. And it was sort of dry, you know, it was like a dry retelling of stuff. Right, right. You know, it was not, it didn’t really have the emotional impact. I mean, the stories are episodic, on their own, like, it just naturally happened that way, they’re, you don’t have to do a lot of sort of massaging the story to make it, you know, dramatic, they just put the yards what happened, but you know, that you, you still have to, you know, I wanted to put you there, you know, if I’m writing in first person, I wanted to write it like I was there. And so, I had to almost write like a fiction, like a novel, like, fiction writer in which I was totally unqualified, like, I had no idea. Like, I haven’t written fiction in life, since I was like, 15, or whatever, you know, so I sort of given it up. And had was only reading fiction for like, fun. I was never reading fiction for form or style, right. And so I took myself through like a, like a lit one on one, like, read invisible man again, like, because I felt like you should need to read books that are like fiction, and read a lot of Toni Morrison, because, like, you just should, if you’re trying to do that, and so, you know, I would get his stories. And then I would write, you know, research, whatever the blanks were, because there were blanks, you know, there were like, he, like, from all accounts from people who have interviewed and talk to dad, he has a really, really good memory for a lot of things. But there are some blanks, obviously, due to the fact that I mean, this is traumatic stuff that happened and, you know, block it out. And then also stuff he hasn’t thought about, you know, like, what was the color of the carpet in the room, or what was you know, like, that sort of stuff. And so, it was a combination of researching and trying to get all that together. But then also, sometimes I would just like, write what kind of I thought might have happened, you know, and then I would go back to him. And so me just writing, like fiction, sort of would jog the memories back for interesting, and he was sort of better at telling me what didn’t have, you know, like, that’s not right, what happened, but oh, yeah, this is exactly what happened. And so it was a lot of back and forth. And, you know, pandemic hit in the middle of the book process. So it was like zoom. And we would just go line by line. And I would just, you know, because it’d be parched, I would like to get from point A to B, I would just sort of like, this is what happened. And so it would trigger the synapses or whatever. And he would remember, almost too much like too much because like by December, I was like, Dad, you can’t remember anything else. Like you can’t play we have to turn it’s done. It’s done. It’s done. Please, if you remember something else, or something different, just don’t tell me.

Traci Thomas 7:51
Don’t tell anybody. Don’t tell anybody. You got to take it to your grave. Right? Yeah. So funny. Okay, I didn’t do a good job of setting up who your dad is. I sort of said he was like the hero. But I think we should probably tell the people that your dad was on the first freedom ride bus in 1961. And he was an organizer with core and that is it pronounced COFCO.

David Dennis Jr 8:16
Yeah, Coco,

Traci Thomas 8:17
I’d never heard that before. I gotta say, I learned a lot in this book. It was sort of a sort of it was upsetting how much I learned because I sort of felt like, we just don’t talk about nearly enough of the people who are involved in the Civil Rights Movement. But also, I was really struck. Sorry, I’m kind of jumping ahead. But I was really struck by how much actual organizing versus like, marching. Like, it’s like, we think of the civil rights movement is like, Martin Luther King, and like, 1000 black people marched down the street, I like, sort of erase the work that your father was doing, which is he sort of started more like a behind the scenes guy. I mean, he sort of always was more of a behind the scenes guy. But he really started that way. He was like, I’m not getting arrested. I’m trying to graduate college. Like, this girl is cute. I want to hang out with her, but like, I don’t want to go to jail. But and then that sort of eventually he joins in obviously he has the Freedom Rides, he becomes like his whole identity, his whole world. And so this book is you kind of chronicling those experiences, and he was in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was in Mississippi all over. He was in Baton Rouge for a little bit. So yeah, that’s your dad. I just I feel like we should tell people because we like, man. They’re gonna be like, What are they talking about? And he was like, you know, nearly killed too many times to count. He was close to a lot of people that were killed. Notably, Medgar Evers, and I’m gonna fuck up their names. I should have written them all down. James Chaney. Mickey I guess Michael is that was for Michael. Michael. Yeah. What’s his honor and shorter, shorter, shorter and Andy Goodman? Yeah, I guess Andrew, your dad talks about them like him, you know, Mickey and Andy. So that’s how I think about it in the book. But anyways, Andrew, I should be respectful, which were three civil rights activist who were killed in 1964. So yes, is that does that feel like a fair representation of everything? Okay. So, my next question for you is, how long have you been thinking about doing this? And then when did you actually decide to do it?

David Dennis Jr 10:31
So I had always thought that I would write this stories. You know, like, even as a kid I was hearing I’m an even as I started thinking of myself as a writer or wanting to be a writer. I was like, one day I’ll do their stories and my when I but biographies, you know, when I was like, 15, or 16, like, I didn’t understand what a memoir was, and know what a memoir was. I was thinking like biographies, right? And I don’t know about you, but for me, like, I hated reading biographies when I was in high school, because it was like, that middle that middle time, you know, like, there was like, an exciting thing that happened. And there’s like, six months, where you kinda like, just do nothing.

Traci Thomas 11:09
Like they were like, healing from Oh, yeah. Like, like organizing their papers.

David Dennis Jr 11:15
Yeah, exactly. Like, I got a job. And I did. And I was like, I don’t I don’t want to write about that stuff. You know, I don’t want to do that. And so when I was in my senior high school, my English teacher, this Alex Davis Williams, who I will be saying her name to the moon. We read the things they carry. Which, yeah, right now.

Traci Thomas 11:37
Oh, God. Oh, my God. Yeah. No one talks about that book enough.

David Dennis Jr 11:40
Ah yeah. So we read the things they carry in. You know, it’s short stories, like, short stories about Vietnam, right. And so I was like, Oh, I think this is the way I could do this book. Like, I can do short stories. I could skip the like, the, you know, stuff. I don’t want to write and just do these, like, really cool stories exactly how my dad told them, right. And I told Ms. Williams, I said, Ms. Williams, I think, I think this one, right? My dad’s book. And the coolest thing ever is, you know, Ms. Williams is a is a white teacher in Mississippi, and teaching public school, black kids. And she goes, I’m gonna hold you to that, you know, and like, there’s a million different things she could have said, you know, and so every time I see her, especially after our graduation be like, are you working on that book? You know, how, how’s the book coming? And just like, I kept thinking about Ms. Williams the whole time, you know, and so, as my writing career was going, I was like, you know, eventually I’ll do dad’s book, like, I’m gonna be dead book, I was like, I had a plan, I was gonna get a couple like essay books under my belt. Like, I just thought books, you could just write books whenever. So I was like, I’ll just do like a couple essay books, maybe. And then I’ll do dad’s book when I know how to write books. And that’s not how it works, you know, like that dad is he’s 80 years old, you know. And we’re also in the middle of, you know, Trump has been elected. And it’s like, Alright, I got, we got to do this sort of now, you know. And so about 2017 2018, I really started, like, let’s do, let’s do some interviews. Let me jot down some of these stories. Let’s get agent, let’s try to actually do this and make it work. So it’s been about five years of actually actual working on the book, and is really sort of still kind of modeled after the things they carried a little bit. There was like some reference some sort of literary references to it in the in the book, but what I learned is that I didn’t have like, I heard that story. I didn’t know the dates. I didn’t have all the date, the chronology. And like, there was no like, boring time. No, like, there was no, there was no like six months where he was just like, kicking it calling people and you know, so it ends up being more so more, you know, like, chronological and biographical. But there’s no downtime, which was one of the sort of striking things about hearing your story sort of in order.

Traci Thomas 13:59
Did you know, before you actually started interviewing him, what you had in his stories, like, I’m sure you’d heard some of the stories and I know in the book, we talked about how, like, he doesn’t remember things and you just mentioned that, but like, when you were like, I want to write my dad’s story. Did you know it was going to be this compelling and like intense or did you think maybe you had like, a little something something?

David Dennis Jr 14:26
Yeah, I was like, I knew I had I knew I had probably like five really good stories. You know, like I was like, I knew just there were five like probably five like I knew the Goodman change more than I knew was last time with with manager. I knew a little bit of the Shreveport stuff you know, so there were like probably five where I was like, I can build a book around five really good stories. And then I was like, Whoa, like there’s a new there’s like too many stories like we had to cut so many stories out of this thing. Because there’s just so much and then the like understand Understand that timeline of like this stuff would happen. Like I knew that dad had gone to was involved in the Harlem riots, right. And but I didn’t understand that this happened, like, in between Gilman changes weren’t being missing. And the like, I didn’t understand the overlap, and that this stuff was just like, non stop, you know, like it was just non stop stuff. So it’s sort of built, I didn’t understand how it would build upon itself to sort of get to this, you know, 1964 moment,

Traci Thomas 15:28
I mean, the truth is, if this was fiction, I would never believe that one person was involved in so many of these like pivotal moments. You know, if this was fiction, historical fiction about the Civil Rights Movement, I’d be like, okay, David’s kind of, he’s doing a lot like, does he have to be everywhere, like, get me wrong, but knowing that it’s true, it’s like, holy shit.

David Dennis Jr 15:46
Well, he’s like, I would always call on the black Forrest Gump. Because he just like, just, like, in like, there’s just like, so many different like, he. I watched, he watched one night in Miami. And texted me the next morning was like, it was a good movie. I remember meeting all four of them. I was like, what?

Traci Thomas 16:03
What’s going on? So funny. I definitely was thinking like, I’m glad this is true. Because no one would no one would buy this book. If it was fiction. They’d be like, hey, like, is this a Disney movie? Like he’s everywhere in our lives? Like, this is insane. Okay, this is the thing that I really want to talk to you about. And I don’t know this, these questions might be like, too aggressive. So you tell me if I’m being crazy. And we can, we can skip it. But the big like, theme in the book is about like, you know, surviving. Even though a person is like willing to or expecting to die, right? Like, it’s not just a story about survival. It’s sort of about a story of survival in spite of this, like, openness to death. Do you think that your dad wishes that he had died doing the work?

David Dennis Jr 16:50
The Oh, well, I don’t think he I don’t know if he wishes he had died. But I know that he has survivor’s guilt. Yeah, for sure. You know, I think that part of it is that like, you kind of when you expect to die, and so many of your friends are dying, especially so young, but also, like, as he’s gotten older, like his friends are just dying, like Bob Moses died in the process of writing this book, you know, and I wonder sometimes, if there’s a feeling of it, he didn’t complete the job, or didn’t do enough, because he didn’t die, you know, right. And there’s just so much. And there’s so many times you could have, you know, obviously, and, you know, I, we talked about a lot we I asked him about it, like, you know, but I think the thing that he sort of comes back to was that if he had and he wouldn’t have, you know, this family and children and grandchildren, things like that. So that sort of keeps that at bay, you know, but I think that, if not for that, if he hadn’t sort of done some of the work to get the families, you know, to get back together or, you know, have these better relationships than you did. I think that would probably, I think, and I think you’ve probably spent decades and all that stuff in between feeling that way, like he wished you to die in the movement?

Traci Thomas 18:11
Yeah, I mean, there’s a part in the book. I can’t I think I think it’s in his one of his sections, where he talks about sort of like, the feelings and the reactions to the violence and the death and the murder like that, that is a responsibility of white supremacy to deal with and not a reflection of the activist or the activist success. And I found that to be really interesting, because I think, you know, clearly in your dad’s story, there’s so much survivor’s guilt, there’s so much feeling of, you know, like you said that the work wasn’t finished or the, you know, the job wasn’t done. And that that’s a failure in some ways on him. And it was interesting to sort of hear him also, in the same kind of breath say that getting murdered isn’t a success story for an activist like that. That’s a horror story for a white person like that’s, that’s their guilt. Okay, back to this survival thing. What do you think it means to survive? When you feel that you’re destined to die?

David Dennis Jr 19:16
School question, I think it takes a lot of time to sort of figure out what’s next, you know, I think dead not dying. really made it hard. Like you don’t think about breaking like Rush Breaking Bad.

Traci Thomas 19:31
Did you watch I did watch Breaking Bad. Yeah.

David Dennis Jr 19:33
Like, it reminds me. Like when I watched the scene or wall, you know, they said his cancer was gone. And he was like, pulling, he punches the right thing in the bathroom. It’s like, you plan to die, like when you die? That’s all he played for was to die, you know? And so now it’s like, okay, you’re on the other side of this thing. Like, what what do I do? You know, it sort of makes me think about George Raymond who was a, you know, sort of a pivotal figure in the book. And, you know, he sort of he was younger when, when he started the movement when the freedom rights, he was like 17 or 18. And so was constantly like, he sort of saw the, the movement, he took it, like with adventure, you know, so there was like, he would do a lot of almost like, pranky type stuff. And, you know, like, at one point, he had stuff that he liked, the Sheriff of cannon was like, every time I see him a kick in the butt, like literally, and so he like, stuffed his overalls with newspaper and like, like, ran to him, and you know, antagonizing when he kicked them. And it didn’t feel anything. And it was like, you know, that was just how he took it into adventure. Right. And so, but when, when, after the Civil Rights Act, and it was sort of, quote, unquote, over, like, he sort of didn’t know how to, you know, reintegrate himself in a society is like, at the end of war, and, you know, he drank a lot, and he died of heart failure at 30. You know, and I think Dad is sort of the was sort of, that’s what it was, like, you plan to die, you go everyday thinking you’re gonna die. And then the next thing is just like, now, I gotta, like, have a life. Right? And I think that’s just, you know, it’s just a hard way to sort of re recalibrate your brain.

Traci Thomas 21:17
Yeah. Okay, I’m gonna come off this, I was very struck by that part of the story by how many times your dad kind of says, like, I’m ready to die, I was ready to die. Like it comes in so early. And it clearly seems like something that he is still, you know, 60 years later, really grappling with like this, this surviving this thing that he wasn’t planning to survive, which I just don’t I don’t think we talk about that. Really, at all, you know, even when we’re talking about soldiers, right? Like, I think a lot of the times when we talk, especially now, like, when we talk about soldiers, we expect them to come home, or just survive. And this was sort of the opposite of like, I’m planning to die here. Like, this is supposed to be the end for me. And it just, it really wasn’t, it was like a quarter of your dad. Not I mean, he was only a quarter through his life at that point. I mean, who knows, maybe even less, depending on how long it was. But you know, what I’m saying up to now.

David Dennis Jr 22:13
And there was no, and there was no place to return from intellect. Like there was no like, you know, you go to war. And you know, your final you go home on right, June, whatever, like, there was no, there’s no place to mark that on the calendar.

Traci Thomas 22:26
Yeah. And it wasn’t like when the Civil Rights Act was passed, or whatever, or the Voting Rights Act was passed, that like, everything was fixed. It’s not like leaving a theater or whatever they call it. Right. Yeah. Okay. So part of his book sort of ties back into like you and and you’re kind of witnessing of the Black Lives Matter movement and being being there and writing about it and stuff. What do you so I don’t even know what the question is. But what I do know is that, I think, thinking about the civil rights movement in the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of people are like, Oh, they’re that this is our civil rights movement. But do you feel like that is real? Do you feel like that’s misguided? Given what, you know, do you feel like that’s an accurate comparison?

David Dennis Jr 23:10
Um, I don’t know, like, I didn’t, I didn’t want to do the like, civil rights man tells black lives, like the self help from the Civil Rights guys, like, you know, 12 steps for black lives matter, right? To get us free or whatever. But I wanted there to be like, I didn’t really think of it. And I still don’t sort of don’t think of it in that sort of comparison sense, you know, because I’m not on the ground in that sort of way. Right? In the, you know, like, I’m not, I don’t know, like, I don’t, all I can do all I can do and like was hopefully trying to do a little bit was like, This is what dad did, and those folks did. And if you can glean something from that, that can help. Now, that would be really awesome. Like, if you could just like, you know, because there was, because there were like some things that folks would tell me, you know, I talk to people and they would be like, well, we’re just, you know, like, we’re just arguing all the time. Like, we’re in Ferguson, there’s different groups, and we’re just can’t get, you know, we’re arguing like, it wasn’t like this baby, like, you know, it wasn’t like this back then they were so united, and all that and it was like, not totally, you know, like you don’t you know, you don’t have to have this idealized I, you know, thinking of what these folks were doing back then. Right? These are real people, these are kids. And they made mistakes, they disagreed. Some of them don’t like each other steal, you know, and that’s normal part of getting, you know, trying to get to the common goal, right. I don’t know if that answers your question at all.

Traci Thomas 24:46
It does a little bit. I mean, for me, what was striking to me is like, I think that people compare the two a lot and in reading your book, I was like, they don’t actually feel that similar to me. Right is I think part of like the catalyst for you know, the civil rights movement was like this attempt to get to get certain rights and to enlist people in activism. And I feel like Black Lives Matter is, is much more of a response to like the police killings. And that oftentimes, like, you know, in the civil rights movement, the people who died were in the movement before they died. Whereas now I feel like the people who become like, who are killed, become part of the movement because of their death. Right. And like, that was really an I had never thought about it that way. I’m sure that like the organizing part around and a lot of the action and stuff is similar, but sort of the way that the that these like martyred people, black people happened in these two moments feels really different to me. I don’t know, I don’t know if that means something. I don’t know if that does something to how we as people who are not in, you know, the movements like organizing in the movement, think about them, but that was something that really like stood out to me. Okay. I want to talk to you about something that has been on my mind for maybe a month now. Okay. Very, very important. Yes, it’s an aha moment. Like about a month ago, I posted a picture and it had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in it. And you commented on the picture, and you said we need to talk about your peanut butter and jelly. And I think I responded like we do, and you never responded again. So please tell me what I have done and what

David Dennis Jr 26:25
I need to I need to look at your opinion, but I need to go back to

Traci Thomas 26:29
I’ve been thinking for like at least a month I feel

David Dennis Jr 26:33
roll back the entire month. Keep keep all this in. I want them to keep all of this scrolling.

Traci Thomas 26:38
It’s from February 21.

David Dennis Jr 26:40
Okay, I got it. I’m here. Okay. All right. Yeah. So I had, it was mostly I had questions about the prep about what, but how this how you’re doing? Okay. Bread, what bread are we using?

Traci Thomas 26:51
So this was a honey wheat. It’s from Target.

David Dennis Jr 26:54
Okay, all right. Okay. All right. The artists artisanal bread is like, Okay,

Traci Thomas 27:01
I that’s what I used to use. But then they started making their slices a little too thick. For me. I don’t need a huge thick slice of bread. I don’t even like bread. It’s really just because I try to feed my kids healthy things.

David Dennis Jr 27:11
So I guess you don’t have to do wheat. You can just do the white artisanal bread. We don’t have to do we’re like we think it’s but it’s like it’s peanut butter and jelly. Like you don’t need to try to do wheat. It’s already peanut butter and jelly.

Traci Thomas 27:24
okay, fair, but this is honey wheat. It’s like barely wheat. It’s pretty pricey.

David Dennis Jr 27:27
Yeah, so might as well just go white. Might as well go go go big white bread. That was sort of it was it was well sliced.

Traci Thomas 27:33
I will give you a really good diagonal slice. I know I was putting on Instagram. So I don’t normally cut my grilled cheese or my peanut butter and jelly and half because I like to eat around the edges first and then get the really juicy stuff on the inside.

David Dennis Jr 27:43
Okay, all right. I can I can respect that. Okay, what kind of jelly are we talking about here? Strawberry.

Traci Thomas 27:50
Really bougie shit, you know? I’ve no clue if you’ve seen it. You’ve seen it’s the Bougie jelly jam. And it comes on like sort of like it’s really round has a red and white. Like, okay, well cloth print top but it’s like round or in the jar. It’s not as narrow as a Smuckers moment.

David Dennis Jr 28:07
Okay, and so if I look very closely, right, it looks like you peanut butter on both sides. Both I’ve sliced and jelly the middle.

Traci Thomas 28:14
I don’t do that. I because what I do I do jelly first and then I usually lick the knife to make sure it’s clean before I then stick all my bacteria into the peanut butter. Smooth COVID safe way to do I’m not sharing my peanut butter with anyone outside of my bubble. It’s just me and my kids. And my husband has his own because he likes crunchy. I like creamy. It’s a GIF. Or it’s a Skippy moment. Okay, and yeah, that’s the peanut butter. Okay, but I didn’t do both sides. It’s just the bottom. Okay, yeah. All right, but because I sliced with the knife you can see it does look a little residual like I did both which is would be so intense. I got could you imagine that was what that was?

David Dennis Jr 28:54
So it was mostly just I wanted to survey okay, you know, me and me and Clint also have very intense-

Traci Thomas 29:00
Okay, what’s your thoughts about peanut butter and jelly setup besides the artists on our white bread so artisan or like very light toasted like toasted?

David Dennis Jr 29:09
Like very light though? Like, like 10 seconds in the toast okay, just so we can just make a little noise. Nothing more. Okay. And then you know peanut butter on one side regular smooth. And then I do like the very process jelly. I do very like sugary knockers great Smucker strawberry.

Traci Thomas 29:30
Sometimes I do great with my habit, but I like stress.

David Dennis Jr 29:33
And then we just then we just go for it.

Traci Thomas 29:35
Okay, okay, I don’t I don’t think that you should toast a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That’s just me. Even a little bit I actually put my bread in the refrigerator so that it’s cold.

David Dennis Jr 29:44
That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Traci Thomas 29:49
Also if you keep it in the fridge it doesn’t like go moldy as fast and so yeah, we do a refrigerated bread moment. Okay, that’s important to me.

David Dennis Jr 29:58
No, you got cold. old bread. Peanut butter jelly sandwich is the wildest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Traci Thomas 30:04
Delicious. You should try it. I was.

David Dennis Jr 30:06
I was. I was about to 8.5 your peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it has now been,

Traci Thomas 30:11
well, you’ve never tried it this way. So how could you know what if it’s actually at now at 10

David Dennis Jr 30:16
but cold bread is like who ever wants cold bread?

Traci Thomas 30:20
Well, is your jelly coming out of the refrigerator? Yeah. Okay, so you already chose.

David Dennis Jr 30:26
It doesn’t have the power to it’s not frozen bread.

Traci Thomas 30:29
It’s just chilled. It’s perfect. But I will not take

David Dennis Jr 30:33
lightly but if you have, if you have a light toasted bread, it adds a little bit of maltiness to the peanut butter. So it makes it even I don’t like melty peanut butter.

Traci Thomas 30:41
I think this is the thing I like. The peanut butter gets everywhere. I don’t like MLT peanut butter. I don’t like if I go get a bagel and I have peanut butter, which I don’t do. But even with cream cheese. If it’s too toasted, and they put it on right away, then it’s too melting. It’s dripping.

David Dennis Jr 30:55
Like just push the toaster button like down and then count to like, seven.

Traci Thomas 31:02
Okay, I have a toaster oven. So I’m gonna have to kind of change.

David Dennis Jr 31:06
Just like a gentle toast just like a regular just like seven seconds.

Traci Thomas 31:09
Ok, I’m gonna try it. I hope that you will be open to trying my way and we can compare notes next month when we come back.

David Dennis Jr 31:16
When we come back, we’ll eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Traci Thomas 31:21
Yeah, oh my gosh, this is the best podcast ever. This is not peanut butter jelly podcast. Okay, wait, one more thing I want to talk to you about. So in addition to writing this book, you’re also a sports, pop culture, journalist, the person at what is now called an escape, but people wouldn’t formally know it as the website known as the undefeated. Is that a dream job? Because to me that feels like a dream job.

David Dennis Jr 31:44
Yeah, it is. It was like, so for Hopefully, by now, people will see me lots of times. But yesterday, like literally 24 hours ago I did around the horn for the first time.

Traci Thomas 31:55
A dream, a dream, a dream.

David Dennis Jr 31:56
Oh, yeah. And so that was like, wow, this is like, this is a dream job type of thing. And like, I have to tell myself, you know, like, yeah, you’re at ESPN. And like, you get to do that sort of stuff or like something like that, you know, sometimes we focus too much on just work. And not what how kind of dreaminess it is like, I was freelance and then undefeated for many years, and did like a whole bunch of cool stuff like I did, you know, but into like, All Star Weekend and like, like, one weekend, they were like, we just want you to cover the Superbowl parties in Atlanta. And that was all I did for like, a weekend. You know, like, there’s, there’s like, a lot of cool stuff. So I have to sort of get out of that idea of like, you know, work and like, even now, we’re like five days from the book. And like, yesterday was the first day I was like, Alright, I’m gonna try to enjoy this like time, right? You know, it’s all just like, Yeah, and you know, like, a lot of people do that, especially black folks. Like, just think about work and making sure you’re stable. And the next thing you got to do and so, I’m trying to enjoy but yeah, I just feel like there are days where it feels like a really cool dream job.

Traci Thomas 33:03
To me. It’s a dream job is basketball. You’re a one sport.

David Dennis Jr 33:07
Yeah, basketball is And who’s your team? So, my team is the Warriors.

Traci Thomas 33:14
Okay, relatable is very relatable. Yeah.

David Dennis Jr 33:17
Like, you know, well, it’s mostly I mean, obviously is because Steph like we were classmates and buddies and all that stuff. So you know, if he left the Warriors, I’d be like, cheered for the the team that he’s on. And if and when he retires who knows who I’ll where I’ll go, you know,

Traci Thomas 33:33
But did you grow up- Who did you grow up rooting for the Hawks?

David Dennis Jr 33:36
No, no, I mean, I wasn’t. So I was just like, No, like a joke like Michael Jordan. Like I just like, I kind of floated I would never really had a like I was when I was in Chicago for grad school. I liked you know, I was like, I’m gonna be a Bulls fan for a little bit. You know, and then so I was I’ve never really had like, a lot like, I’m not so much a football. Well, I got I guess I’m sort of everything now that I’ve been by studying sports like a madman. But I grew up with Saints fan like, that was my big thing. I was like a huge Saints fan. And so that was what I cared about the most, but basketball just like Jordan, and like any cool player that would come along.

Traci Thomas 34:16
Got it. Got it. And what about baseball?

David Dennis Jr 34:19
No, not really. You know, like, I’m more when it comes to baseball. I’m just more like, thinking about the sociol got whatever stuff with with baseball, but I like I said, I’ve been watching more, watching more everything and trying to you know, like, I’m always sort of cognizant of the larger what’s going on, right and all the sports but in terms of like, sit down digging in, it’s mostly basketball.

Traci Thomas 34:44
Okay. Okay. I’ll stop quizzing you about sports. My i could i I kick myself in the butt that I didn’t just do like a sports podcast because that’s really what I want to talk about. A lot of times when I get like authors on who are sports people because I’m like, let’s talk about sports. But

David Dennis Jr 35:00
I’m sorry, you’ve been even worse man forever.

Traci Thomas 35:02
Yeah, I’m from Oakland. Right? So I grew up my, my dad got season tickets to the Warriors when I was in middle school, and that was only a really bad that was like the 13 when season and we had two seats and so my mom would get to go to like the good games like against the Lakers because those were like, you know, it was because all that who would come to town when your team is so bad, it doesn’t matter. And so I would get my brother would get the like mid tier games, and then I would get the clippers, the kings and the Timberwolves and so I became like our very big Kevin Garnett fan. Gotcha. Because he was I always got to see him and I knew he was like tall and famous. But so I grew up a warriors fan, San Francisco Giants fan and a 40. Niners fan.

David Dennis Jr 35:43
Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. So Baron Davis of Baron Davis was like my favorite for a long time.

Traci Thomas 35:51
I was at the game when the Warriors got good. Like when they beat Dallas like I think in like 2008 or nine I got to go to the next series. I think it was like Utah or whatever. It’s like we’re that that like poster or dunk

David Dennis Jr 36:06
dunk Kirilenko and showed his name was at that game. Yep. That was the nipple dunk.

Traci Thomas 36:10
Yeah, I think that was on Mother’s Day. And my dad got us all tickets to go. But me and my brother sat in like very bad seats. And my mom and my dad got to sit in like our good seats. But that was like my first ever NBA playoff game. And since then, you know, I mean, before then, but also since just love the Warriors being good. And it’s so annoying, because people are like, Oh, I’m a warriors fan. I’m like, Okay, well, I’m a warrior. Like, I remember when our mascot was thunder, who we had to get rid of when Seattle went to Oklahoma, and then they became the thunder and then we had to get rid of our mascot, which still helped obviously, I have not forgiven anybody for that blame David Stern. Sorry that your dad but honestly, you shouldn’t have done that to the children of Oakland. But yeah, big. I was a huge Matt Barnes and for my 21st birthday, my brother had a friend who knew him and he signed a birthday card for me. I was like, just that’s a magpie. Just a very weird, weird kid who had like very strong feelings about I still am have very strong feelings about players specifically. Yeah, I’m on my team. Okay, so I didn’t prep you for this. But we do this thing called Ask The Stacks where someone writes in for a book recommendation. I’m going to read to you what they wrote. You’re going to give me at least one recommendation. This is from Teddy and Teddy says I’m looking for a book to get me back into reading. It’s been a while since I’ve actually finished a book. Generally I like murder mysteries and autobiographies. I loved A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Bashar. I can’t really think of a book I didn’t care for recently. I do love fantasy and my shows and movies, but I don’t really read it and I want something that will keep me in suspense and not wanting to put the book down. I can go first.

David Dennis Jr 37:57
You can.

Traci Thomas 37:59
Basically it’s a murder mystery and/or autobiography.

David Dennis Jr 38:03
Okay, all right.

Traci Thomas 38:04
Okay, here’s Teddy. Here’s what I think my first pick. I think because I finished your book today. I was sort of inspired by your dad’s book, which would be actually a really good one. I guess it’s not your dad’s book. It’s your book about your dad anyways, or your guys’s book together. I picked Assata by Assata Shakur for her sort of memoir, biography. It’s really, really good. I picked Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, it is not an autobiography, but it is sort of a murder. It’s not a murder, the mountain spoiler the mountain dead, people climbing Mount Everest, but it’s really, really captivating and really engaging nonfiction. And then I picked the dead are rising by less and Tamra pain, which is about a biography of Malcolm X. So I guess it’s not an autobiography, but I figured you didn’t really care who wrote it. And it’s really, really good. And when I read it, I cried. Even though spoiler I knew what happened to Malcolm X. Awesome. I cried. I couldn’t believe I cried. I was listening to the end on an audiobook and I was walking down the street crying, or Malcolm X, a person who died in 65. So I don’t know I’d very good. Okay, David, do you have at least one book for Teddy?

David Dennis Jr 39:17
I’m gonna say one that we already mentioned things they carry, like, it sort of has all of that stuff in there, even though it’s technically fiction fiction. But it’s sort of written like it’s not. Yeah, I think that’s a good one.

Traci Thomas 39:36
I didn’t notice fiction until like, three years ago. I have to be honest, I always thought it was nonfiction. And then I made my husband read it and then he was like, did you know this was stories and I was like, Nope.

David Dennis Jr 39:47
Well, I’m gonna like you so as a thing I like to but like because the the metaphor the plane with the name like it’s about a Tim O’Brien. That’s fictional night. He’s 10. So I was like, well, we’ll do it a day like it’s a day Dennis put it written by a different date. You know, so I kind of like playing with that. But yeah, I think but you know, there’s it’s suppose you know, it’s fiction, but I’m sure you know.

Traci Thomas 40:08
Yeah, it’s stuff that doesn’t read like fiction at all right? Except for the fact that it’s like got, like really beautiful storytelling, but it doesn’t feel like out of this, except for There’s one story that sort of does anyways. Okay, Teddy, if you read the books, let us know. Also anyone else who wants a book recommendation email, ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com. Okay, now, David’s turn to tell us about the books. He loves. Two books you love one book you hate.

David Dennis Jr 40:36
One book I love that is on the top of my head is Burnham cage, which I really really liked. Marlon

Traci Thomas 40:48
Peterson Yeah,

David Dennis Jr 40:50
He does, like such a fantastic job of just like telling, talking about, like incarceration. As like, he’s not trying to convince you of anything. It’s like he’s just telling you what happened, you know, telling you what, and like you will come to a natural conclusion. But he’s not he doesn’t if he doesn’t like bend himself to make it. Some sort of argument.

Traci Thomas 41:20
Right. Right. Right. You know?

David Dennis Jr 41:23
Yeah. So there’s that. And then, let’s see, I have so many now that I have in my head that I can’t try.

Traci Thomas 41:33
And you have to just pick one for this moment. It’s a book. For this moment.

David Dennis Jr 41:38
I’m gonna go south to America. So good, which is like, Oh, my probably, you know, like, it’s my favorite book so far. This year. I mean, Yvonne is just like, a genius, you know, and it’s perfect human. Yeah. Like, I don’t understand how somebody can do those things like, oh, so, like, heavy and breathe are like the two biggest sort of influences for this book, which, you know, that how to talk to a family member and write about them lovingly. And there was like, a three hour period of my life where like, I was, like, I’m, I’m like, do this book, like, breathe? Like, it’s not going to be like, chapter I’m just gonna, like, weave these stories in and out. And then I realized, I can’t fucking do what you want. What do you think you’re doing?

Traci Thomas 42:27
Like, don’t be, don’t be stupid, right? Of course.

David Dennis Jr 42:31
So no, South America is just like, it. I listened to it. Like, it was like my listening, saying, you know, like going to the gym every morning, like listening to it and doing all that. And it was just like, I think listening to a book like that is probably different than looking at it on the page. Because it’s like, it’s like, like, we’re on foot wearing Gucci Mane. Like, we’re Gucci Mane right now. And then, you know, we’re at this other place, and it’s just, he just takes you there. And it just, you don’t even realize that you’re on that trip. It’s just like, fantastic.

Traci Thomas 43:07
I listened to it as well actually started reading it off the page and really struggled. And then I did the audiobook and was like, Oh, this works for me now. Okay, what about a book you hate?

David Dennis Jr 43:19
I don’t want to say I hate the book. And I’m sort of like, I’m really sort of sensitive about books now. Because people might do a few books to read my book. You can say you hate a book. You know what I did not like, and this might be a hot take, but I did not like the second half of this will mean, I’ve never read it. Really? Okay.

Traci Thomas 43:40
I can’t Yeah. It does sound like a heartache, though, given what I know about it. Yeah.

David Dennis Jr 43:44
Like, I was sort of, like, you know, like I said, I wouldn’t like I was like, it was sort of silly, like, looking back on it. I was like, I gotta read, you know, I gotta read fiction, you know, I gotta, like, learn how to read. So I was like, let’s go to the classics. And so I was like, you know, went back to Invisible Man, which, you know, you sort of read for school, right? Yeah. And I went back and I was like, Man a second. Like, it gets into like, you know, political theory and communism and stuff like that. And it just didn’t, didn’t hold my attention the first half of the book.

Traci Thomas 44:16
Okay, what are you reading now? Are you able to read right now?

David Dennis Jr 44:20
No, not really, like, so as I’m having a hard time keeping my attention on anything. You know, like, I can, like, I have a weird working, like, I work while watching shows, like I watch my shows in the background. And it’d be like, unless it’s like, while you’re writing while I’m writing. Yeah. So, you know, usually I can watch a season of a show and follow it while I’m writing. You know, unless it’s like a super detailed show like Ozark I kind of get lost in some of my Ozar but like, now, I’m like, I can’t concentrate on anything. Like I’ve so hard, like my mind is just thinking about so it’s hard for me to read stuff right? Right now, because I just started thinking about like, my book, like my stuff and things like that. But right now I am reading Shine Bright.

Traci Thomas 45:11
Which when people listen to this, they will know all about it because it’s our book club. May so you guys will already have heard the episode and you will have heard Danyel on the podcast.

David Dennis Jr 45:20
Yes, Danyel this my favorite person in the world.

Traci Thomas 45:24
So everyone I know who’s ever worked for her with her says that she’s like the greatest human on the face of the earth and like the greatest mentor person to ever work for.

David Dennis Jr 45:34
She is yeah, she was my she was my editor at undefeated so when I first got there and so I worked with Danielle for like three years. And Justin Timberlake who was at, you know, at Andscape with me now his book comes out the same day as mine.

Traci Thomas 45:48
It’s called it was all a dream and it’s about Biggie. I met him at the LA Times Book fest. Okay, good. We actually talked about you.

David Dennis Jr 45:56
Okay, cuz I told him to look for you. I was like, okay, she’s got to meet him.

Traci Thomas 45:59
Okay, good.

David Dennis Jr 46:01
So we you know, you’re a basketball person. So we’re like, we say, it was like, Popovich. It was like being coached by Popovich like you just like, she just unlocks these parts of your brain and writing and make you think about writing in a way that you had never thought of before. And she is just just has a like watching her in a Google Doc. It’s like, I don’t know what you’re doing. Like, you’re moving stuff around, and you’re asking these questions, and she’s just like the best. Like she’s just the best. And I wish every writer had could work under Daniel Smith.

Traci Thomas 46:33
In normal times, when you’re not getting ready to release your book. Can you read multiple books at once? Are you a one book pony?

David Dennis Jr 46:40
I will, um, I read comic books all the time I read. Okay, so many comic books. And so I do like, I’m like that every Wednesday. Every Wednesday is Comic Book Day, in case you didn’t know is that one comic books come out. Yeah, every Wednesday-

Traci Thomas 46:53
and so I don’t know anything about comic books or superheroes? I know exactly zero.

David Dennis Jr 46:59
I was trying to sneak in a graphic novel for my stack.

Traci Thomas 47:03
And we’ve done a graphic novel before on the show. But it was like a literary graphic. Okay, not like a comic.

David Dennis Jr 47:10
Yeah. So I was trying to soak in K gems into doing what does did one that was like, really awesome call for a second. But so I read tons of comic books every Wednesday. And so obviously, you got it, there’s overlap, because it’s a monthly sort of thing. But in the book process, what I did to sort of force my because I read so much more than like I was always read, I always read like shortform like I was always training for journalism and thinking about starting wasn’t doing. So what I did was I put a book in every different room in my house. And so whenever I was in the room, I would just grabbed the book, and read it. And so it went through many stages, like at once, I had a different in mind period book, every room in the house. And then I had a different Mississippi book and every room in the house and I had a different fiction book at one point. And like a different Toni Morrison book. So like that was to finish all of those books, pretty much like for the most part, I was able to finish them when I wasn’t like and you know, like sometimes I had to do you know, I got to read like a bunch of civil rights history books and stuff like that. But for those, like I was able to finish a good chunk of them, you know, so I’d have like a tablet one and a bunch of fish right? In the in the in the room books.

Traci Thomas 48:19
Are there any? Because when I read your when I finished your book, I was like, I feel like I need to read more books about civil rights movement. Are there any books that stand out to you that are like particularly great. Oh, extraordinarily good. I don’t want like good I want like the really great shit.

David Dennis Jr 48:34
Okay, so coming of Asian Mississippi and Moody’s book. I know, we might have mentioned that to you when y’all did 90 Min. Yeah. So that was that’s a really sort of good book. And I agree with her that like, sort of second half is more civil rights. stuff. And so that’s, that’s a really good book. Local people is a good book. When is it? Oh, my, somewhere around here, but I think it’s like it was written in the 90s. So it’s like the where I got a lot of the stuff on the local folks I did really sort of helps frame the movement as something that was, you know, already going on. So those are our two. Those are probably the the two ones that I referenced a lot. Or you know, went back to a lot because it’s partially because the way they were written they’re written you know, particularly well stuff.

Traci Thomas 49:25
How do you like to read? If you if it was like your perfect reading setup? Where would you be would you have snacks and beverages? What’s the temperature? What’s the weather? What’s the vibe?

David Dennis Jr 49:35
So on this couch right behind me in the office, I like to just sit there and read you know, probably like something I like I need noise like so there’s something on the TV. That’s probably that’s probably like Food Network. Like, if it’s a if it’s a you know, like,

Traci Thomas 49:56
I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t sure where you were going but did not expect.

David Dennis Jr 50:02
If I could meet Guy Fieri, it would be the greatest day of my life. I love Guy Fieri. He just goes, he just drives around. Think about he just drives around and tells people that their dreams are legitimate. That’s all he does. And like

Traci Thomas 50:18
tells people he also does go get his hair dyed, I think sometimes-

David Dennis Jr 50:22
But he just, you know, like, he does that on on his way. He does it on like, on the way to like going to like Wisconsin and tell him some guy who like has a like grilled cheese restaurant that he is the coolest person in the world and like help them make money. Like they’re like there’s nothing like I’m fell in love with Guy Fieri during the pandemic, but anyway, okay, so like, there’s there’s a lot of Food Network going on, like food paradise, that stubs in the background, and I’m sitting in on my couch, and I’m reading my book, I might have a sparkling water and I’m not a big I don’t snack a lot. But sparkling water, couch Food Network.

Traci Thomas 50:59
And I’m reading is it a is it a Pellegrino because that’s what I see you drinking today?

David Dennis Jr 51:03
Yeah, so it’s not like water. It’s whatever. You’re learning a lot about me today because I am a I’m a coupon person. I’m not well, I’m like I’m a I’m a I’m a sale person. So whatever one Costco has, for $5 off. I’m going I’m going to that one.

Traci Thomas 51:19
So so no brand loyalty. Just know just at that bank.

David Dennis Jr 51:23
Yeah as long as the whoever’s got the $5 off. So I have probably about six containers of sparkling water from various companies in my my garage. Because I hoard from Costco.

Traci Thomas 51:36
Honestly, I love this so much. This is the greatest answer. It just it’s full of surprises. It’s really you’ve taken me on a journey. Are there any genres? I mean, you talked about how you didn’t use to really read fiction, but are there any genres or types of books that you particularly avoid? Or stay away from?

David Dennis Jr 51:55
Um, I don’t think I’ve read a single mystery novel. Ever. Ok, what’s a good mystery novel?

Traci Thomas 52:05
I don’t know. But I don’t know that it’s been a mystery and a thriller. But I feel like I feel like it’s too late for this book. But Gone Girl is sort of my favorite though. But I never saw the movie.

David Dennis Jr 52:16
Oh, okay. Then you should read. My wife saw it and she did the like thing. I don’t know if you do this. My wife did that thing when she told me everything. Like she comes to me and tells me everything from beginning to end.

Traci Thomas 52:24
But I just-

David Dennis Jr 52:27
I’m mostly go I was like, I’ll never I’ll never watch this. You just tell me. But um, I think I forgot. I forgot most of what happens like she is like her like she like sets him up or something like that. Or something.

Traci Thomas 52:38
Spoiler alert, everybody. Yeah. Anyways, it’s a really good one. But I don’t read a lot of mysteries either. I I do like a thriller, but I usually feel like if I figure it out too early, I’m annoyed. Yeah. And then if I figure it out too late, because they didn’t actually set it up. Well, I’m even more annoyed. So I’m like, Okay, well, you just brought in this other character and they did it like I hate you. Right?

David Dennis Jr 53:02
I get most of my like, exciting fiction you know, like this mystery and the suspense it’s like from from my common books, so.

Traci Thomas 53:10
Oh, I would say from TV. Well, yeah, that to possibly I feel like some like I love rom coms, like love rom coms on television, but I just don’t read them right not like in a movie, but I just don’t read them like it just not. I don’t enjoy them nearly as much off the page as I do. Like with Matthew McConaughey being charming and secretly racist. You know what I mean?

David Dennis Jr 53:32
What’s the what’s the best rom com ever?

Traci Thomas 53:35
I personally love How to Lose a Guy in 10 days. Okay, I also love this is a controversial pick because I don’t believe this is a rom com but maybe it is. I do love Love and Basketball.

David Dennis Jr 53:47
That’s it. Yeah, that’s what I count.

Traci Thomas 53:48
Okay, I think that’s like borderline and I love my best friend’s wedding. Okay, that’s like the gold standard. Those are my favorite. I do not like When Harry Met Sally and I don’t fucking care what people say. It’s boring. It is not enough charm.

David Dennis Jr 54:03
Yeah, not enough. Just the one scene carried it, you know?

Traci Thomas 54:07
And I don’t like Annie Hall. Yeah, I like I like the like 90s early 2000s Golden Age of ROM rom com. Because I don’t I don’t think soulfood counts as a rom com. Yeah, I don’t think so. But I love that movie. And about me. Okay, this is sort of our lightning round. So you’re gonna tell me just whatever. I don’t know why I call it a lightning round because it’s not really but Okay, last book that made you laugh.

David Dennis Jr 54:34
Huh? I’m probably rereading long division.

Traci Thomas 54:39
Yeah. Last book that made you cry.

David Dennis Jr 54:42
Probably burden cage.

Traci Thomas 54:45
Last book that made you angry.

David Dennis Jr 54:48
Um, probably some of the parts of shine bright and like the erasing of some of these black women.

Traci Thomas 54:56
Last book where you felt like you learned a lot.

David Dennis Jr 54:59
South to America.

Traci Thomas 55:01
Yeah. Oh my god so much. What’s a book you feel proud about having read?

David Dennis Jr 55:07
Interesting question. Probably. I guess I’m proud that I read Invisible Man. Maybe? Because I’m like, if I could, you know, you feel like that’s when you can have a good conversation.

Traci Thomas 55:18
You read it? Yeah, for sure. I my answers are always like, really long books. Like, it’s never books I actually liked. Like, I read it in Corona, give me an award. All right. Are there any books that you’re embarrassed that you still have not read?

David Dennis Jr 55:33
Um, man, oh, probably a lot. Like, I haven’t. Like I said, I just sort of skipped out on fiction for the longest. And as I was reading all this Toni Morrison, and about midway through The Bluest Eye, I got distracted. It was finished. didn’t finish it. Okay, I gotta get through it.

Traci Thomas 55:57
So we can barely hear you.

Yeah, I was mumbling I think Oh, okay. Oh, my God. Your mouth? I wasn’t good. That was embarrassing. It manifest. Okay, that was a really good performance.

Yeah. Okay. If you were a high school teacher, what’s a book you would assign to your students?

David Dennis Jr 56:17
Well, hopefully the movement made us would be wonderful. Smart. All of you. teachers out there before it gets banned in Mississippi. That would be wonderful.

Traci Thomas 56:27
It will get banned in Mississippi.

David Dennis Jr 56:28
I don’t think so. I don’t think it would be banned. Well, I mean, so I really want them to change change the name of the Ross Barnett reservoir. Oh, I really want them to do that. And so maybe if I start making noise, there’ll be like, you know, that that might get them that might have them wanting to do that. But my hope like I don’t I know that some like I really don’t want this book to be banned. Like I really want high school kids to be reading this book.

Traci Thomas 56:51
Oh, yeah. I don’t want this book to be banned, either. Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything to ban in this. I mean, aside from just like, the general people banning like books because history, there’s, it’s like, I mean, look, I wouldn’t put it past right.

David Dennis Jr 57:05
And you never know if that will say I will say how the word is passed. Also.

Traci Thomas 57:09
Of course, oh, my gosh, client, friend of the stacks. Okay.

David Dennis Jr 57:14
My friend first by the way.

Traci Thomas 57:16
Ok, sorry. Everybody can go to Davidson. It’s a small liberal arts college. So it’s only for small amount of people. Just use three you. Staff. Or three, only three people. Two people have ever been there. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Gotcha. Where is Davidson? I always thought it was in Indiana. But in your book, like you told me it was in North Carolina, right outside of Charlotte. I have this whole time thought that it was like a Midwest school was like a bit.

David Dennis Jr 57:44
Maybe because of mid major. Like people think all of it major Midwest school.

Traci Thomas 57:47
Yeah, maybe that’s why you think Birdman is really?

David Dennis Jr 57:51
Yeah, it was right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Wonderful, wonderful school.

Traci Thomas 57:55
And that’s where staff is from? Yes. Yeah. Somewhere. That’s kinda Yeah. Okay. Second to last one. Who would you want to write the book of your life?

David Dennis Jr 58:07
Oh, man, who would I want to write the book of my life? Um, you know, if I were being, you know, pie in the sky, I would say Jasmine Ward.

Traci Thomas 58:18
Go ahead and write Jasmine Ward.

David Dennis Jr 58:20
Yeah. Because she, you know, she’s sort of like, you know, like Regina King as a director, like she writes about, like, they know how to get at this heart of black men in a way that like, a lot of folks don’t. So, yeah.

Traci Thomas 58:36
Okay, last one. If you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would you want it to be?

David Dennis Jr 58:43
Hmm, I don’t know. Is there a book on like canceling student loans like what’s the what? Is there a book out there?

Traci Thomas 58:48
There are some books there’s that book? Well, I know trustee McMillan. cotton’s first book is about, like higher education. I think it’s called Higher Ed. Or maybe it’s called lower Ed, something like that. Then there’s another book that just came out about student loan debt that I think whoever wrote it as a friend of clients actually.

David Dennis Jr 59:06
Okay. Um, Adam Harris’s book. Oh, yes. They will provide Yes. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 59:10
Isn’t that about higher education? And like,

David Dennis Jr 59:12
Yeah, sort of like, yeah, like finding higher education stuff. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 59:16
But I don’t know if I haven’t read it up. Obviously. You can tell by that really? Specific endorsement. Alright, you did it. You passed. You’re gonna be back Wednesday, June 29. We are discussing white negros when cornrows. Were in vogue and other thoughts on cultural appropriation by Lauren Michelle Jackson. I love this book. I am really excited to talk to you about it because I know that you talk and think about online myths and blackness and culture a lot. So I feel like we’re gonna have a very robust discussion. So everybody get your copy of the book. You can also get the movement made us wherever you get your books. It’s out now Gabrielle Union and Steph Curry have publicly I posted about this book. So if you don’t get it and then don’t post about it, like, wow, what am I not on?

You’re in the Illuminati you don’t get you’re not going to be at the Met Gala.

Let me tell you, Okay, you’re gonna be at the NBA Finals, you’re not going to be anywhere that you want to be. So you should go get this book. Maybe support your local indie. But I don’t really care. Maybe if you can’t afford it, talk to your library. Make sure they have copies. David, thank you so much for being here.

David Dennis Jr 1:00:28
Thank you so much for having me. I was I was excited to do this and a little nervous, but I’m happy we did it.

Traci Thomas 1:00:34
You did great. And please tell your dad a big fan over here.

David Dennis Jr 1:00:38
Big Yeah, I’ll let him know. Oh, no, let him know.

Traci Thomas 1:00:41
And everyone else we will see you in the stacks. All right. That does it for us today. Thank you all so much for listening. And thank you to David for being my guest. I’d also like to thank Rachel Alinsky for helping to coordinate this interview. Remember the stacks book club pick for June is white negros when cornrows were in vogue and other thoughts on cultural appropriation by Lauren Michelle Jackson. We will be discussing the book on Wednesday June 29. With David Dennis Jr. If you love this show and want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the statspack make sure you’re subscribed to the statutory listen to your podcasts and if you’re listening through Apple podcast be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks. Follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram and at the Sachs pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stocks podcast.com This episode of the Stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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