Emmy Award winner W. Kamau Bell and bestselling author Kate Schatz visit The Stacks to discuss their joint effort Do the Work!: An Antiracist Activity Book. They break down how the process of co-writing, how they decided to write for white audiences, and explain why we need an adult activity book for antiracism in the first place. We also ask, what do we do when we mess up; what makes a good apology?
The Stacks Book Club selection for August is How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. We will discuss the book on August 31st with Ingrid Rojas Contreras.
*Due to the nature of podcast advertising, these timestamps are not 100% accurate and will vary.
Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas. This episode we are joined by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz. W Kamau Bell is an Emmy Award winning comedian and TV host who hosts United Shades of America on CNN, as well as the man behind the We Need to Talk About Cosby documentary series. Kate Schatz is a New York Times bestselling author, feminist activist and creator of the Rad Women book series, a children’s book for everyone. They are the co-authors of a brand new book called Do The Work: An Anti-racist Activity Book. It’s an illustrated educational workbook for adults, which offers a fresh and very interactive approach to understanding systemic racism and the methods for dismantling it. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on today’s episode of The Stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. And our book club pick for August is How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. We will discuss this book of essays on August 31st with Ingrid Rojas Contreras. If you love the show and want more of it head to patreon.com/thestacks to join the stacks pack. If you join, you get access to our virtual book club meetups, the stacks, lively discord chat and our monthly bonus episodes. Our most recent bonus episode was with Tia Williams, author of Seven Days in June, we talk about romance, soda water and so much more. So if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, or you just want to show love for this black woman run indie book podcast head to patreon.com/the stacks to join. I want to say a huge thank you to our newest members of the stacks pack. Lacey Ward, Moni B. Sarita Gonzalez, Sarah and Krystal Armstrong, thank you all so much. And of course, thank you to every single member of the stacks pack. Now it’s time for my chat with W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz.
All right, everyone, I’m thrilled to welcome co authors today to the show, hate shots, and W. Kamau Bell. They are the authors of Do The Work, which is an anti-racist activity book, which I’m very excited to talk about. Welcome to The Stacks.
Kate Schatz 2:18
Thank you so much.
W. Kamau Bell 2:19
Traci Thomas 2:20
Really excited to dive in. Before we get into the nitty gritty of everything, will one of you take about 30 seconds to tell us what this book is about?
W. Kamau Bell 2:28
No. I like to make things hard sometimes. Do the work is an anti racism activity book for grownups. The way I think about it is like as an adult, if you ever go to a dentist, and if let’s say you take any kid to the dentist, and you see a highlights magazine, you pick it up because you like what’s going on in highlights magazine these days. This is that but for anti racism, so it has that same feel of like maybe an activity book you did as a kid, that was fun. But it’s actually for anti racism.
Traci Thomas 3:00
Perfect description. I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this book when I heard. So when I got it, I was like, I don’t know, do we need this? Like, it’s a little cute, you know, whatever. But I got it. I was like, Yeah, send it to me. Let me let me just see what’s up. I had a really good time. I was really surprised by how much you know, actual history was in the book, actually useful things were in the book. And I was taken by how much fun I was having, you know, I was like, Oh, I’m worried it’s going to either be really fun and like a waste of my time, or it’s going to be like, not nearly activity book enough for me. But you both struck such a great balance. So I’m wondering, from that point of view, how did you work together? How did you find balance?
Kate Schatz 3:48
Well, I’ll just say thank you so much. It’s really satisfying to hear, you know, I think, I think come I would agree that for us, like the most meaningful feedback is from people who are skeptical of a book like this, and who pick it up and are like, Oh, okay, no, they they did a good job. Yeah, you know, our tagline with the book all along has been that it’s funny, but not fucking around. And you said we could swear. So, please. So I think that the whole process of creating the book, we were really walking, not just walking a fine line, I actually kind of feel like in a way, we were zigzagging back and forth across the fine line over and over of being funny and silly and playful and also incredibly serious and straightforward and direct because the topic the subject matter is deadly serious.
Traci Thomas 4:37
Yeah. And why? Why did you want to do it this way?
W. Kamau Bell 4:41
I mean, it really came out of 2020. You know, George Floyd is murdered on television by Minneapolis Police. Me and Kate are both in a business where when racism happens, people reach out to us to explain it from her white lady perspective and my black man perspective. So I was being asked to explain racism a lot. I got booked on more talk shows quicker than I ever have in my career, like, suddenly I was every talk show hosts, black friend, which is fine. It’s my, it’s, I get paid for it professionally, so it’s fine. But I also I saw all those books, we talked about the books that went to the top of the bestseller list that were sort of like in the racial reckoning the so called racial reckoning. And I just felt like we talked about this, like, people are buying those books. And those are all great books. But are they going to read those books? And after they read those books, are they going to know what to do in their community and in their neighborhood and in their house and with that Uncle at Thanksgiving? And so really, we saw a need for like a companion to those books, like, you know, not this is not to replace those books. Like, it’s like, no bad ideas, or brainstorm no bad ideas in trying to create anti racism, like so this was like, these, this is this is doing some of the work. And this is doing another part of the work. So that’s how it came together.
Kate Schatz 5:55
Yeah, using the format of, of activities, using stuff that’s familiar using humor, you know, it’s again, it’s another way to get an audience, a potentially reluctant audience to engage with difficult subject matter. And also, you know, we learn best by doing, you know, that’s why that’s, I think, most elementary school and middle school and high school teacher educators will tell you like creating interactive, engaging lessons is how kids learn. It’s how adults learn to. And so you were like, within an activity book, you are literally doing work. Like you have to engage with the ideas in it. Like with your hands, you have to write stuff, you have to figure stuff out. And it challenges people to grapple with the material, I think in a way that just sitting back and reading and receiving the information maybe doesn’t always fully take you there.
Traci Thomas 6:42
Yeah. I love the question of did people actually read those books? And I don’t know if you saw but people didn’t actually pick up a lot of those books from the bookstore.
Kate Schatz 6:50
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Those a lot of those got returned. And a lot of them didn’t get finished. And,
W. Kamau Bell 6:57
you know, a lot of them just became zoom backgrounds. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 7:02
Truly, I once had a I once got in a fight with the person that I went to college with about racism. Shocking. Sounds fine. In September 2020, via Facebook, immediately after.
W. Kamau Bell 7:14
Yeah, I was gonna say, you should have been off Facebook.
Traci Thomas 7:17
I’ve been off I’m clean of Facebook now. But the highlight of the conversation for me a person who works in books, you know, I’ve been doing this for a while I work in books, I talk about books a lot. I suggested perhaps that this person should read a book about, you know, voter disenfranchisement, etc. And this person said to me, and this is not a joke, and I wish it was they said to me, I can’t believe you insinuate I don’t read. I have read the nickel boys and little fires everywhere. And I was like, I’m dying. I imagine it’s just like, oh, you can you don’t even have to read a book about the thing. You could just read a book by a person who is not white, and you are an expert on anti racism. So I feel like you guys
Kate Schatz 7:59
My anti-racist reading challenge. I’m done. One thing I would add to Drizzy is that, you know, again, when you talked about, like, how specific the book is that like it was engaging, it has all this information. I think that, you know, there are a lot of incredibly powerful scholarly, academic, you work, you know, books about this content, and we’re drawing from those, you know, we’re building on what those what those authors and thinkers have been doing for a long time, only a lot of those spokes that shot up the bestseller list. It’s not like they like released their book in May 2020, you know, to be on trend, like that’s the work they’ve always been doing. But I have seen you, I think there are a number of other kinds of like guides and how to be anti racist books out there. And I think sometimes for me that I find like, I like really specific things I like really clear then I was an educator for a long time. So I like things to be very specific. I like clear examples I and sometimes, you know, talking about like, just doing better and learning more. And you know, it can feel a little hard to grasp for people. So again, with this book, we wanted to just make it like here is a whole bunch of really specific things that you could actually do.
Traci Thomas 9:21
How did you pull those things together? Because that’s another thing that I liked in the book. There’s actual actionable items. I mean, towards the end of the book, there’s a lot of them, you lay out a bunch of different things like you can do this in your house. You can do this to yourself, you can do this with your community. How did you actually create what was like What were you drawing from
Kate Schatz 9:39
Our you know, our joke with that, since I know that you have young, very young children, I was talking about how when my kid my first child was a baby, I would get all those like, how to make your baby sleep books. And they’re like 400 pages of research and I would be like, just tell me the part where my baby sleeps like I was. I want to skip to the part I don’t actually care about all the studies? How do I make her not wake up all night? So that was our joke in that part of the book where you pull out a giant poster, that’s just a giant list of things to do. Like, look, I hope you read the whole book. But if you want to just skip to the part where we tell you what to do, it’s it’s at the end. And to compile that we did a huge brainstorm with people in our community we crowdsource that we were like, Okay, everybody, help us out? What are specific things that you can do in your community in the world to make a difference?
Traci Thomas 10:29
And who were the people that you called on which people in your community, or what kinds of people,
W. Kamau Bell 10:34
I mean, it was really like, there are people that we know immediately, like, personally, so I knew that like Alicia Garza would be a reference because I used her as a reference in life, like the day the Instagram squares all went black or for racial justice. I was like, Oh, my God, I missed a meeting. I’m such a bad anti racist. And I texted her, and she was like, I don’t know what this is either. Okay, all right, if she don’t know that this ain’t real. So there are people like that like, like that I’ve met through my work. Professor Nikki Jones, from Cal Berkeley, does the does the five things you should know about policing is somebody that I met, actually, after getting kicked out of a coffee shop in Berkeley, because I was talking to my wife, and and then I put on United shades basically doing the same exact version of that, like, tell me about breakdown policing. So for me, there’s just been people that I’ve met through the work that I’ve been doing, that it was a great way to sort of go back to them and go, Hey, you know, that thing we did on the podcast or the TV show? Now? Can you help me figure out how to do this in the book?
Traci Thomas 11:32
I want to talk about audience, you lay out very early on in the book that this book is really aimed at White people. You know, you say like, if you’re not white, you could enjoy it. You might like it, check it out. You probably know a lot of this stuff. But you know, you’re you’re very clearly state who your audience is. Was that a difficult choice to make? How was that something that came to quickly early on? Like, how did you know who you wanted to write for?
Kate Schatz 11:55
Like, can I want to take you on start with?
Traci Thomas 11:58
Just you’re both smirking. So I’m like, is this a question you guys got a lot and you hate?
W. Kamau Bell 12:02
As you know, in the book world, that’s literally the question they asked you as the writer of your book when you’re making it, like who’s the audience. And so, one, they want to know there is an audience as you shine. And the other thing, they want to know that you know who your audience is, so that then they can be like, if you want that audience, and you know, it’s a way to help guide the book. So they asked us that. And we had, I think we always it was definitely we knew it was for white people. But then to sort of ask them when they were talking in those zoom meetings about it, we to say it out loud. And then it became like, well, let’s just be clear about it in the book, because the thing I didn’t really want was somebody like you to pick up the book, and think that we thought everybody was at the same place, not knowing this knowledge, right. And so I think the idea being like we didn’t want, we didn’t want to, like just like the book is like, written clearly by a black man and a white woman, we didn’t combine our voice into one voice, either. We wanted people to make sure that like, oh, we know that some people are read into this, and some people are not. And generally people are not tend to be white people. And so it helps sort of, for me, I’m a big believer in sort of diffusing the questions that you know, you’re gonna get anyway, so like, so that the minute that like, you know, some some activists of colors, like, I don’t need this, I’d be like, I know. But the thing that I think is important, is that you may know somebody who does need this. Or you may flip through and find some piece of information that you didn’t know, which I think is very likely. But I did want people to know, like, you know, the way we talked about it was like, we wanted our activist friends to pick it up and be like, this may not be for me, but you did the damn thing.
Kate Schatz 13:35
Yeah, and I mean, we were smirking about it. Because, you know, yeah, we had a lot of discussions about that. And like Kumar said, like, it’s a question you have to answer in publishing, and I’m someone who, I always try to avoid that question, or I resent it. Not with this, but with my previous books with the RAD women books, because those books are aimed. They’re like, marketed as children’s books and young, you know, middle grade young reader, and I was always like, but look, adults are reading these two, like, I don’t want it to just be shelved here. Like, you know, I, there’s so there’s like a, you know, like, the counterculture part of me wants to just like resist category, categorization genre, but also, let’s be real, who needs books about being less racist? It’s white people who needs to be talking and reading and thinking about dismantling and acknowledging white supremacy. It’s white people, also, who are most books aimed at White people. So I wanted to be really clear about so making the decision to be really upfront about that. You know, I think that’s, it’s in a way part of us, I think, kind of modeling what we’re trying to do in the book, which is just to be really direct. I think often when we have conversations about race and racism we a lot of white people do use this we like as if we are all having the same experience as if there is some kind of universal we when we talk about it when there’s not and again, like Kamau said, that’s part of why we wrote the book and dialogue because we can’t write an authentic what singular we collective voice about what it’s like to experience this Is it just that doesn’t work?
Traci Thomas 15:02
Right? And I personally liked that you said it upfront because like you said, I knew most of the stuff in the book, I was familiar with it. Like I, I actually am one of the people who has done the rebate, you know, but most of it well before 2020, obviously, but I liked it, because then I didn’t feel like you were trying to teach me something I felt like I was I knew where I was, too, you know, and I could enjoy it as something is like, I’ve done a lot of this work. So this is like really extra fun for me unless like stressful emotionally. And I don’t feel like I’m being called out for like being a horrible person. Not that you guys do that. But I didn’t have like any resistance to the book, because I knew. Whereas if you hadn’t said I would have been like, why did they think that I need this? Do they think I’m damned. And they think I don’t know about like redlining or whatever, like, Hello, I’ve been here. So I appreciate it. It.
W. Kamau Bell 15:50
Part of it, too, is also as for me, specifically, as a stand up comedian, I’m very used to breaking the audience down into teams and sides. So I think that happens with the United States too. There are times where I will say to the CNN audience, black people, we know Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, and sometimes I’ll be like, and white people, I know you got it out of that. Because not every point is for every person and and so for me, it was like very easy to go this. Okay, let me talk to the black people in the book first, if you’re black me the book, let me talk to you for a second. And I think that’s something that comedy can do that other forms aren’t as good as breaking that fourth wall. And so this is why it makes sense that you I don’t think you could do a book like this unless it was also funny, because I think the funny is the part that makes it that makes it that you can really break the structure and it goes down easier.
Traci Thomas 16:37
Do you feel like with your previous books, because you’ve each written at least one other book? Do you feel like being able to name the audience and kind of saying like, hey, white people talking to you made it easier to write versus if you were writing to a more open ended audience? Like did you feel like having that specificity helped?
Kate Schatz 16:58
You know, I feel like what my experience with my other books, it helped. Let’s see, this is actually a really interesting, like, process question for me, because what I was trying to do with my with, you know, so rad American women A to Z was the first book I did in that series. And that was aimed pretty squarely at young readers. But I was really insistent that it not read like a kid’s book, I wanted to just write in a way that was clear, and direct and easy to understand and engaging. But that wasn’t dumbed down, or like, you know, silly. So I really tried to find this kind of like just neutral direct, yet still engaging voice. And with each of the books in that series, I kind of changed it up a little bit, to the point where the last one which came out in March 2020, which was a great time to launch a book that read American history, A to Z was a lot more like it was denser, it was longer, it was a lot chunkier. But I felt like I was still maintaining this voice of you know, I want this to be read by a young person, I want this to be read by an adult. So I think that is a long way of saying that. I think that helped me with this book, you know, a creating a kind of voice that could speak to a lot of people. But I did also appreciate us naming it upfront.
W. Kamau Bell 18:20
I mean, for me, I think that that’s the part of the book that’s the easiest for me is the actual sort of like really naming the audience because I think I do that across the platforms for my work. The thing that was that was required for this book was having Kate like I would I would not after I wrote my first book, I was like, I I will never write another book again. And my cousin now makes fun of me because I said that. She’s like, I thought you said you’d never write a book again.
Kate Schatz 18:45
This is the part where you have to say who your cousin is.
W. Kamau Bell 18:47
No, no like when you say it. It’s more fun that way.
Kate Schatz 18:49
Traci, do you know who his cousin is? It’s NK Jemisin. Like, first cousin.
Traci Thomas 18:57
So your cousin who’s familiar with writing as well is what you’re saying.
W. Kamau Bell 19:01
Yeah, my cousin who knows those a thing or two about writing 100 thousand words a day.
Traci Thomas 19:04
Holy shit. What in the family relation-
W. Kamau Bell 19:08
She’s just to be clear, and I was gonna make this clear, especially people who know her like we’re like, grew up like she lived in Mobile, Alabama. I went there. Every summer we lived in I would I stayed in my grandmother’s house. She came over every day, we would sit on the floor in the sun in the Alabama sun in the front of the house, which is really the back of the house because of how houses worked out in there. And we would sit in the sun and she would write and I would draw comic books and we thought she was going to say I’m going to be a famous author and I said I’m going to be a famous comic artist and it all worked out exactly as we play.
Traci Thomas 19:39
How does your families raise such creatures? You have other creatives in your family? Do you come from a creative family?
W. Kamau Bell 19:45
No, no, I mean my mom I’d say my she on her side definitely does not look my mom is the person who she credits with encouraging her to continue to write so yeah, so I came from my mom was just like do whatever you Want to do? I believe you can figure it out. But yeah, no, it is not a creative thing. We were definitely the, the weirdos, the outliers, the black sheep and the black fam, the black sheeps in the black family. So yeah, it was not. It is not a thing that any I mean, and I would let her tell the story, but I don’t think I mean, her mom passed away several years ago, but I don’t know that her mom even really got it after she won. Like three goes, I don’t think she even understood it.
Traci Thomas 20:21
That’s incredible. Okay, wait, we have to come back to whatever you were saying. I’m like, trying to my like, blacked out. You know, like refocusing.
W. Kamau Bell 20:30
I always think everybody in the knows, but I wanted to find people who don’t
Traci Thomas 20:34
know, I didn’t know. But now everyone listening knows to Congratulations, we all win. But you were saying you weren’t gonna write another book, your cousin was like, A ha ha. And Kate was like, let’s do it.
W. Kamau Bell 20:46
Because we definitely this is a collaboration we did together. It was 5050. But the idea when I first reached out, I think I was gonna be reaching out to Kate go, I have this idea. I think we should do this together because we’ve been in conversation about the racial reckoning. And in my mind, I was like, I would only write another book if she said she would do it with me. There was not like, a list of people. It was not like, because I was really like, the last experience was so traumatic. I was like, I don’t want to go through that again. But if she’s she’ll do it, then we can do it.
Traci Thomas 21:18
And how did you meet each other?
W. Kamau Bell 21:20
I mean, you know how the bay area works. There’s like all the cool people tend to find each other I think me that Yeah, I think it’s just the especially if like you’re in the state we’re both in this sort of creative writer II activist it you know, also parents so there’s just like, you know, if you’re not this, you’re eventually going to be in the same room over and over again and like so. I would go see I would also she was doing solidarity Sundays. So like I Melissa, my wife ended up taking a Saturday Sundays. I think, Kate’s that she’d seen me do perform before. So it’s just it’s just the bare it’s a small bay area after all.
Traci Thomas 21:51
Yeah, love it. Love it. greatest place on Earth. This year, for some reason on the podcast, we’ve had so many Bay Area authors, which is like extra than normal, which I obviously like, always want to talk to people in the Bay Area, because I live in LA now. And so I miss home. But I’m like always, but this this year, so many of you, it makes me so who else? Well, so Leila Motley was on, she wrote night crawling, okay. And then I just interviewed, I can’t tell you who because this episode will come up for someone that I interviewed, spent a bunch of their childhood. Their dad was at Stanford, I had Julio tsuka, who lived in the Bay Area for a bunch. So it’s just like a bunch of I know, I’m forgetting people. But I’ve had a bunch of like Bay Area people on recently on the show, which makes me thrilled.
Kate Schatz 22:37
So can I can I just say that? So I have not had the pleasure of meeting we will Motley yet but I was the I ran and directed the literary arts program at Oakland School for the Arts, where she just where she wrote back where she wrote not probably and where she just graduated. And my good friend was her teacher, teacher, and it’s just like, they’re just exploding with joy. It’s like, it’s so so, so exciting.
Traci Thomas 23:02
She’s so lovely. And that school, as we talked about, on our conversation is across the street from the most important Wendy’s of my life, that is open until like 9pm and not late enough to even go and get frosty. And I thought of another bear person. Ingrid Rojas Contreras is in San Francisco. She’s also on the same month. Anyways, a lot of
Kate Schatz 23:21
Yes. You know, it’s it’s we have a lot of really, really great people here. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 23:25
I agree. I want to dig in a little bit to how you to actually work together. Were you using a Google Doc? How who was coming with what how were you dividing it? How were you editing or like critiquing, pushing back? How did the process work?
Kate Schatz 23:40
Google Docs all the way. I our editor. She hates Google Docs, our poor editor, bless her heart. She was like, Oh, so it’s gonna be all these Google Docs. You know, and I think we, I mean, I think the process of this was so 2020. And so slash 2021. We wrote this in Google Docs. We wrote it over zoom, we wrote it over FaceTime. We wrote it together. Inside wearing masks before we were vaccinated, we wrote it outside and backyards and on porches until the wildfires were so bad that the air quality required us to go inside and put our masks back on. We wrote it while our kids were literally running around the table because they could not go to school because of the pandemic. What are any other modes that we do telegrams or-
W. Kamau Bell 24:33
phone calls, phone calls, okay, so there’ll be phone calls and I think that like and I think the other part of it that is there would be times where we would like okay come over let’s let’s write for two hours and then we would stare at the TV for two hours because the nation was under siege right you know, so like there was a lot of like, a let’s distracted by the like, the things were happening in the news that told us we need to be writing the book but also, an informed the book but also were like, making it hard to write the book.
Kate Schatz 25:02
Yeah. You know, I was actually just an interview earlier today I was talking about how, I mean, I referenced often that we had a deadline, a big chapter deadline on January 6. We did not hit that deadline. We, you know, but we were also writing we were having a whole big writing session on the day that the verdict that the derrick Chauvin verdict came down. And we were supposed to get a whole bunch done that day, and we just sat with it, you come out and your entire family, your mom came in the room, and we sat and just watched an experience that I remember afterwards. That’s just being like. So I guess we’re not going to write anything today. So yeah, we were really writing it in real time. And a lot of you know, a lot of the conversation in the book is actually the literal conversation we had, we would sometimes use like voice memo to record it, or I’d be kind of frantically typing in the Google Doc and asking Kamau to repeat the really funny, smart thing that you just said,
W. Kamau Bell 25:57
I’m a big I’m a big Rambler, Rambler. So I’ll just be talking and talking and talking and talking. And they keep like, Oh, what did you say repeat what you just said. It’s very organic. And I think that’s maybe why the Congress, that’s definitely the conversations in the book feel that way, because they were there. Some of them were like, strictly written, but then a lot of them were talked through.
Kate Schatz 26:17
And I want to really give credit to to Kelly Rafferty, our good friend, and who works really closely with Kamau, and she was a big part of our process and writing with us and really helping us stay organized, which was incredibly helpful. They’re helping us think about how to structure the whole thing.
W. Kamau Bell 26:34
And she’s also got a PhD in Kelly, what’s your PhD? And again, I was getting wrong. Performance Studies. Yes. You have a you have a women’s studies? Yes. Yes. So I mean, so it’s not just a random friend, fancy friend. And my now also my wife won’t give credit to my wife, Melissa, who has been with we’ve been together almost 20 years. So she has been in the trenches of this of this W. Kamau Bell business since nobody since before anybody cared. And so she also is somebody who’s like, knows my voice and is also will ask, she has a, she has her own PhD. Everybody’s got a PhD except for me.
Kate Schatz 27:09
I don’t I don’t, okay. Okay, good.
W. Kamau Bell 27:11
But no PhD pod. But like, so she will actually go what are you trying to say here? What is the thing you’re trying to do here? Because then I can actually read this and see if you’re pulling it off.
Traci Thomas 27:21
So were there times were you disagreed with things or felt like you weren’t on the same page?
Kate Schatz 27:29
It’s a good question.
W. Kamau Bell 27:30
I think there was like, sort of a like, how do we how do we accomplish this goal? And so there would be some we could do this, we there was a lot more like, sort of back and forth of how we pull things off. I think if either one of us was like, sort of dug into a thing. I think a lot of times I felt this, one of us would back off and let that person try to figure it out, and then sort of see if we could get somewhere and then sometimes you would go you want the one of us would go I couldn’t make that work. And then when the other one would be like, I’m not surprised. Like so. There would just be I think there was a space created for like, if something’s really important to you, and I don’t get it. I’m gonna let you go for it. And then we’ll see where it ends up. I think. What is the I always forget the word the rebus-
Kate Schatz 28:11
my dream of a Rebus that did not happen, but you really gave me the space to push for
Traci Thomas 28:16
it. Yeah, it was like I was like, I don’t really know how to but what is a Rebus?
Kate Schatz 28:19
Okay, so So going back to what Kamau said earlier about the Highlights for Children. Like the reverse. It’s like a pictogram where it’s a story and then every few words instead of a word, it’s a picture. So it’d be like a squirrel ran up the tree, but it’s a little cartoon of a squirrel instead of the word. So I had this elaborate
W. Kamau Bell 28:33
if I just say emojis right here, everybody understands what
Kate Schatz 28:36
it’s like, like a story in emojis. But with some words, I had this elaborate vision that I wanted to create a Rebus about the construction of race and whiteness in colonial America, leading up to Bacon’s Rebellion. It was super 18th century like history nerd geeky stuff. And our wonderful designer, Diane Holden, who pretty much like took every idea that we had and just ran with it and made it happen. That was one where she was like, I just don’t think So Kate, so it just kind of turned into a fairy tale about the construction of race in colonial America.
Traci Thomas 29:10
I love that I love that. She was like, not this time.
Kate Schatz 29:15
I just was, I was just remembering that the first time I ever when Kamau had his beloved podcast, politically reactive, I was a guest on it years ago with my collaborator, Miriam Klein Stoll who I did the RAD women books with And anyway, I remember the first I made a joke right away with you on the podcast come out where you were like, okay, like, what are you doing with this book? And I was like, Well, you know, I don’t really see color and I did you guys actually put that in the podcast? It actually played well. Anyway, I was gonna make that I was gonna make that joke that you know, it was hard for us to collaborate on this book because I don’t really see color.
Traci Thomas 29:53
Okay, I have two directions. I want to go I can’t really decide which one so I’m just gonna go for one that will come back to the other. One of the things in The book that I really loved that I feel like is maybe when I imagine why people reading it, the most important part is the what to do when you fuck up section. Because I love that part. I just feel like so often I am on the receiving end of a fuckup. And I’m just like, you could be doing this so much better. Like you don’t have to send me seven paragraphs in a DM explaining why you’re not racist and why you’re sorry. But also, you didn’t mean it. And also and this and like, and my cousin is black, and also my cousins and K Jemison. And like, I don’t. So I just really appreciated that part. And I’m wondering, like, if you would sort of speak a little bit about what what that advice was and why it was important for you all to put it in?
Kate Schatz 30:49
Wow, what’s that? Like? It’s one of those moments where as a writer, I’m like, what did we say in the book? No. I mean, I was I was I actually don’t think I say this in the book. But I was being interviewed recently. And it was a white person asking me and wanting me to talk about that. And she was like, you know, what advice do you have about apologies. And I was like, a good apology doesn’t come with caveats. And also like, like an apology, it really doesn’t need to be more than two words. Yeah, I’m, I’m, I’m sorry. You know, and then maybe there’s some context afterwards. But like you said, it’s not a seven paragraph thing. And it doesn’t come with caveats and like explanations, right. It’s and I think what we try to get out in the book is the, you know, this basic concept of it’s about impact, not intent. You know, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to it someone was hurt. And I think this is where you come in with the Daniel Tiger quote, come out the great scholar Daniel Tiger,
W. Kamau Bell 31:39
we’ve been doing we’ve been doing this for we do these interviews for a while. So yes, I, for me, having as a black person, or as a proud black person in media, I’m on the business end of a lot of bad white apologies and a lot of bad white equivocation. In my, in my life, I mean, you know, going back to the story of being kicked out of the Elmwood cafe, in Berkeley, Berkeley, California, been kicked out by white people for because they thought a black man was bothering a table of white ladies not understanding that one of them was my wife holding my baby who was not white. And, and just the way in which that I quickly felt once I realized that they had fucked up they, well, the manager on duty wasn’t there. And the and the person who did it, there was their first day and, and this person kicked you out, they were actually not an employee, technically, like, you just go, you just tell the black man to leave? Because he was because you thought he was bothering white people. And now you’re explaining to me why I’ve misunderstood what was going on. And so I have a long history of that. And so a big investment in figuring out how to get people how to get white people to understand guilt better and shame better, and how to use that as a motivator instead of as a shield. And so for me, the idea of that was like, and again to quote the great sage Daniel Tiger on PBS, in his preschool banger saying, I’m sorry, is the first step then how can I help and so that’s that’s, that’s the that’s just wear any clues as a man who has who was called on for sexism by one of my best friends, Martha Reinberg. Earlier in my life and career for stuff I did in my work, it was like, it was very clear to me that like, when she called me out privately and said, you can’t make you can’t talk about making you can’t talk about ending racism if you’re gonna make sexism worse. And then she said, Then she gave me examples of how I had done it poorly. And then it became a challenge to me, like now go out and do it better. And so for me, that’s, that’s the same thing with when you talk about racism. I don’t want to hear about the excuses. I want to tell you how you can do it better, and then see you do it better.
Traci Thomas 33:35
Right? And I think it’s important to say like, I don’t know, I don’t know if you guys know anything about this. I don’t know if it’s cultural. I don’t know. But I too have fucked up as we all have. And I’m a black person, and I’ve you know, done and said things that were inappropriate, whether they were homophobic, transphobic ableist, whatever. Right. But I for me, the thing that’s always been really difficult about dealing with with white people who fuck up is the way that the apology feels like so desperate in a way that like, we’re how I was raised. When we fucked up in our family was always like, a very quick like, Hey, don’t like that. That was fucked up. And then it was like, I’m sorry, whatever. And then we moved on. And I feel like there’s a difference culturally for white people where it’s like, impossible to admit wrongdoing and to move forward. And it’s like, you know, sometimes my husband does things and I’m like, This is a disaster. You’ve destroyed my insides for this week. You know, like, I’m so sad you’ve broken me. And he’ll be like, I’m sorry. And then like, we still can have dinner together. Like I still love this person. And it’s like, but with with like these, put maybe public facing things or like, I don’t know, the but in the book, you sort of addressed that as well, which I found to be really helpful is like, just because you fuck up doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person. Just because you perpetuate racism doesn’t mean that you’re doomed for life to own slaves or something. and
W. Kamau Bell 35:01
some people would say privileged. But I would say the other thing about that is, too is that I think that as much as we think America just recently started doing a bad job of teaching history with the impacts on CRT, most of us grew up hearing that racism was the thing that happened a long time ago. And it was always with people with white hat with the white hoods, and the like that racism is a violent thing that happened a long time ago, and that there’s not like levels to this. And it’s not structural. And it’s not, it’s not about industry. And it’s not about like, it’s not an invisible thing. It’s actually it’s a violent thing that happened long time ago. And so the idea being that, like, a lot of white people, therefore, can’t even imagine they did something racist, because they didn’t light a cross on your lawn and lynching. You know. So the idea being that, like, we have to get past that. And I think that’s the same thing, the same thing, I was going around the way thing and that will sexism was if I’m like calling women pejorative things to their faces. And while I was let them on the street, that’s the sexism. It’s not about language that I’m using every day and ways in which I’m normalizing sexist language. So the idea being that, like, I think that that’s what this book is trying to get to is that you have to understand that there is levels to this. And the thing that I understand that somebody, the faster you get to the apology, the faster you can get to forgiveness, and the faster you can get to fixing what you did wrong. Yeah, yeah. Imagine if when the slaves had landed, or the enslaved Africans that landed in 69 team, that somebody had said, oops, I think we didn’t think this through, you know, what, if you want to go back, we’re gonna send it back, we’re gonna get more boats, they’re going to be bigger and nicer to take you back to Africa. If you want to stay, here’s money and some places you can live. And we’re working with the native folks to make this right. We wouldn’t be here right now, January 6, would have just been a day on the calendar, not a day of an insurrection.
Traci Thomas 36:47
Kate Schatz 36:49
come on. 1619 project, part 2-
Traci Thomas 36:54
The 1776 project, that’s what that’s going to read like. Hey, we said, We’re sorry, and we gave them all a home.
Kate Schatz 37:00
You know, Traci, I mean, I think that you’re getting at something that’s incredibly true, and like deeply unspoken about whiteness and white culture, which is that white people we really, really like to be liked. And we’re used to being liked. And we’re used to people not being mad at us. And we’re used to, you know, the, we don’t have a normalized experience of being mistreated. And being rejected. And just, you know, again, look, there are all kinds of experiences that white people can have. And there are white people with all kinds of intersecting identities that can cause them to experience that, but on a whole with whiteness, we really like to be right, we really like to be liked. And when that is destabilized, and we get something wrong, it can send us into this, like you said, a debt, there’s a desperation and a panic. And because we don’t have a normalized experience of being rejected, I’m getting it wrong. I love to be right. I hate getting it wrong. Shame, but it happens, you know, but it happens. And, and I really agree, you know, I think, and I’ve, I’ve had a few experience. Actually, I’ll tell a story that there was someone we just did an event in Portland at Pauwels books, and someone posted on Instagram a thing that was like, Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz shouldn’t be doing their event at Pauwels, they should take it to the only black owned bookstore in Portland. You know, and it was like one of like, a really intense thing. And I saw that and like, I wrote to that person who posted it, and I said, Hey, thank you so much for this, I’d never heard of that bookstore. I’m really glad to know about them. Pauwels was booked because of the venue size. We really can’t change it now. But I’d love to get in touch with that bookstore. And maybe we can come in and do a signing. And the person responded and was like, Okay, great. Thanks. The owner’s name is Michelle. And now we’ve been in touch and we’re going to like, do a zoom with them and have an event and it was like, again, that could I could have been like, I’m so sorry. It wasn’t my fault. Somebody else booked it, like put it up. But it was just like, Oh, hey, thanks.
Traci Thomas 38:59
Now we know why this is how Yeah, right. Yeah, totally. Okay, we’re gonna take a quick break and we’ll be right back. Hey, let’s take a second to review our self care and wellness ritual. If you’re like me, you could always use a leg up. I’ve got a hot tip and a great deal just for you. Have you checked out care of it’s the monthly subscription vitamin service that ships high quality personalized vitamin supplements and powders right to your door. I made a resolution this year to take more vitamins and just generally be healthier, and I have been taking my vitamins every single day. Thank you so much Kara, because it’s made my life so much easier. First things first care of asks you to take a quiz to fill out what sort of things you’re looking for and what things you want to adjust in your lifestyle. I love how easy the quizzes and I love that once they gave me suggestions I could always go back in and adjust my vitamin plan. You sign up you fill in your info, they tailor make a plan the cherry on top is that their compostable daily packs are so chic. The packaging is lovely. And it makes me feel like I’m starting off my day on a fancy note. I’m going Be honest, I love a little razzle dazzle. Another thing I love about carob is that you’re never locked into any particular plan. You can tweak it to your liking, you can add or subtract items you can refresh. You can do whatever you need that fits your lifestyle. You’ll also get a booklet with each shipment telling you exactly what’s in your daily packs and why it was recommended for you and for your goals. Kara wants you to feel your best through the rest of the summer by supplementing your healthy daily habits that you have tomorrow. Well, thank you treat yourself and let me know what you think for 50% off your first care of order, go to take care of.com and enter the code stacks 50. Again, that’s Take care of.com with the code stacks 50 for 50% off. Did you know there’s a way to get even more of the stacks. It’s called the stacks pack and it’s accessible only through Patreon. The sacks pack allows you inside access to this podcast things like bonus episodes, monthly virtual book club meetups. And it’s just a great place for book lovers to connect and talk all things books, the stacks, snacks, and even the bachelor if that’s your thing. I created the stacks in the hopes of carving out a space to talk about books with people who love to read. I also wanted to make sure that our bookish corner would feature the books and authors that excited me not the same kinds of books that every celebrity Book Club was picking, or every streaming service was optioning for the screen. Since 2018. I’ve been lucky enough to do that week in and week out. I’ve also been able to make this show as an independent podcast, which means I do not have the backing of major media companies like Spotify, crooked media, Apple podcasts, Stitcher or whatever, I get to create a show that I love without oversight from companies with other agendas. That being said, it also means I do it without the financial backing of said companies. It’s a lot harder to compete with the big podcasts out there. Because it’s just me, my wonderful editor Christian and our Team Admin Lauren, three people. That’s it, I count on the support of listeners like you to join the stacks pack on Patreon and put their money behind this black woman created and run book podcast. Joining Mr. X pack starts at just $5 a month. And if you love this show, and you believe in the show, please please please consider supporting the stacks on Patreon. Head to patreon.com/the stacks to join. Okay, we’re back. This is the other thing I wanted to talk about. That’s the magic of podcast. Yes. Ever heard of it? Artists collaborators, you all had so many different artists, collaborators who helped create this book from a wide spectrum of racial sexual gender, etc. identities, it was really cool to like look in the back of the book and see the list of all the names and like read their little blurbs and etc. How did you find the artist collaborators? What was that process? Like? And again, why did you want to include so many? Why not go with, you know, just one, one or two.
W. Kamau Bell 42:52
So I think we have to credit Diane Holton, who our book designer who is from DC. I just say you have to DC has to get credit for the good things that does
Traci Thomas 43:02
The one dc thing in this whole book? So shout out to Oakland again, you know,
W. Kamau Bell 43:07
yeah, but yeah, so And Diane. First of all, we we really when we when we get usually talking about this, but when we set the book up with the with the publisher, we said we wanted to make sure there were more black people on it and involved in it, specifically black women, because as we know, publishing is not necessarily major publishing is not a black industry. So we had a we had them at a black woman editor to the book, Diane Holden, we wanted to be designed by black woman dying holding the black woman, woman and then she went out to go fine, because she’s a graphic designer and artists to go find the people we collaborate with. And she went out of her way to make sure that it was a diverse group of people and that she was finding people who maybe had never been published in a book before. Cool. So it was like so it’s not so people who really like would get the assignment. And now
Kate Schatz 43:51
That was all Diane, she commissioned work. I’m think we have like over 1618 artists, all artists of color. And that was really her that’s what she does in her work. her day job. She works for the AARP. She likes to She jokes. She’s the youngest person at AARP. Yeah, but she really I mean, that’s like a huge part of her work is like lifting up all of these, all of these artists. And that was again from the get go that, you know, that’s what we wanted to do. And again, the choice to use lots of different arts and illustrators one is that we wanted to have like that kind of like different looks like we wanted it to have a unifying aesthetic theme, but we also liked the idea of having lots of different styles throughout. But it also is a way to create more opportunity for more people. So there are a whole bunch of artists and illustrators who have their first you know, their first book credit and now it’s a New York Times bestseller. Congratulate like that’s it that’s a lot. That’s a lot of people that get to add that to their bio now and that’s that’s so
W. Kamau Bell 44:47
cool. That’s so cool.
Traci Thomas 44:49
Yeah, that’s so cool. Okay, racism thing, big thing. Never heard of it. humongous. How? I guess the question is what is not in this book that you wish could have been in the book.
W. Kamau Bell 45:05
I mean, I think there was a lot of like, it’s funny when you write a book about racism, but you’re also people who want to practice. Kimberly Crenshaw is intersectionality, there was ways in which we started to get into other areas. And then sometimes I’d be like, wait, I mean, that’s great that we want to talk about these things. And we, there’s ways to sort of nod at these things, or include them. But we can’t go too far into other areas that we also would like that need an activity book, you know, so I think that was one of the things that like, for me, it was like, I think we were we were, we were defining the words in which words we’d use in the book, we got into some words that weren’t very specific. And at some point, it was like, This is good. But also you have to work within the confines if you only have this many pages. So the idea being that, like, we had, that was the I think the hardest thing for me, because I’m always my daughter’s, that was one of the worst things for me personally was like, because I’m always trying to be as intersectional as I can. And my work because I realized that it’s that it’s, it is more helpful, and will get a broader audience that way. So and it will be more more useful is really the real thing.
Kate Schatz 46:02
No, yeah, I would really agree with with what Kemal said, you know, there’s Yeah, we would go down so many different paths. And it’s like we needed to be talking about like, like trans folks, we need to talk about, you know, this like, and it was like, we had a limited amount of space. And we need to do we do need to keep it relatively focused. I’d say also, you know, we didn’t talk about parents and like, how to talk to young people that much, we have a little bit of that in the book. And I think we are doing actually a second book that’s aimed at young people. So we’ll have more of that in there. So that’s something that I think we probably could have done an entire chapter just on parenting and talking to kids and helping them understand race and racism. But but we we kept that kind of limited to
Traci Thomas 46:45
Yeah, I was, as I was reading this, I was thinking about how this could easily be a series of all sorts of different kinds of doing the work, you know, I
W. Kamau Bell 46:54
don’t know that we would we should be the ones writing these other ones. I think that these should be a series of but maybe you were saying that. Like there are there’s more work to be done. But I think that we’re not always going to be the ones to do that work. Now we I think we have learned something through through like the what we did, so we can help people do that work. And yeah, we’ve got that. But yeah, I think there’s definitely somebody asked, are you gonna do what about misogyny? Like, you know, like, there’s just, there’s a lot more work to be done,
Traci Thomas 47:19
right? No, for sure. I mean, yeah, you unfortunately you too, do not speak for all humans ever and ever experience. You talked a little bit about how you sort of would meet up, do things separate blah, blah, blah, of working together? A very important question that we ask on this show is how do you like to write? What is their music playing? Are you in the home? Are you outside? Are their snacks and beverages and that part’s very important. Please don’t skip the snacks and beverages. Are there rituals candles? Palo Santo Is there a yoga routine? Like explain to me how you like to write?
Kate Schatz 47:55
Hmm, come out does like two hours of yoga every morning. He has to light 100 candles and take a bath.
W. Kamau Bell 48:04
That’s all very very physical and hard healthy.
Kate Schatz 48:08
That’s a great you know, I will say that my I don’t have a great writing routine. And actually I had an office and I gave it up at the beginning of the pandemic and just didn’t end up returning so my I mean I wrote this book when you know it what I wasn’t at come out was I wrote this book on my living room on the couch and the dining table with my kids crap everywhere. You know, I really I still haven’t returned to like I don’t have like a wonderful little special writing spot with the candles and stuff but but we did in working out a lot at income House office. We there was a lot we listened to a lot of music. We listened to a lot we credit in the book and our thank yous we listened to a lot of hiatus coyote and Thundercat and and a lot of old like Nina Simone, he would just like put on a Nina Simone YouTube channel and just like let it go. And I’m also going to call you out come out because Kemal also does like having CNN plane on mute in the background on TV all the time. So wonder
Traci Thomas 49:06
you guys are getting distracted with all this news.
Kate Schatz 49:09
But he has an outstanding beverage fridge. Oh tam snack selection and so there was always a kombucha on hand. I drink a lot of kombucha and we use
Traci Thomas 49:20
Is there a flavor that speaks to your soul?
Kate Schatz 49:23
I like the I like a ginger like a spicy he’s having one right now. Yeah, I like it
Traci Thomas 49:28
What flavor is that? clear mint. clear mind. Oh,
Kate Schatz 49:32
yeah. We also ate a lot of ramen.
Traci Thomas 49:36
Oh, Top Ramen or ordered and ramen from like a real restaurant.
W. Kamau Bell 49:40
ramen. I considered supporting my local restaurants very important.
Kate Schatz 49:46
Fancy Oakland like bougie Oakland ramen, like
W. Kamau Bell 49:50
a tiny ramen in, in the Uptown district of Oakland. I’m home. Yeah, tiny ramen. But so yeah, I would say that like right off For the pandemic hit, we hit converted our garage into an office for me, which we didn’t know how important that was gonna be. So a lot of it happens in here and I’m a person who needs to sort of like, like, like, I need to be separate from people. And then if I’m going to write, I need to just sort of I need to create my own space. So there is a lot of music listening, but it’s got to be either. Yeah, it’s got to be instrumental music or music. I’ve heard a lot before it can’t be something that I’m new to a lot of John Coltrane, a lot of Nina Simone a lot of Lo Fi YouTube music channels like where they just the the Lo Fi jazz channels. Lo Fi hip hop. Yeah. So it it starts at my desk here where I’m at now and then at some point, it ends up with me on the floor upside down this with the laptop on my face. And I also I also need a little bit of panic to really get it going. So the deadline needs to have like really either approached and it smacked me in the face or it’s about to pass and it has to be so that it’s like it’s like everything that I did wrong in high school when a term paper was due. I’m still doing for all my professional projects like this for you. Yeah, so And yes, there’s a lot of con Bucha that was a big I went through a big con Bucha face because I was trying to phase out our Red Bulls. Which I have cleared the red bullet a lot of my wife likes good coffees with a lot of good coffee and then we have a thing here we called okay during that happened a lot called afternoon chocolate that you just get chocolate in the afternoon sometimes to get you through the afternoon. So one final
Traci Thomas 51:30
chocolate is it, is that Hershey’s?
W. Kamau Bell 51:36
not your not your airport chocolates. No, no, no, no, no, no. Although I do like sees this old in airports. I do like a good season. I’m a big like hard toffee covered in, in chocolate or hard toffee covered in chocolate and nuts. I’m big hard toffee. Same. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 51:52
I love hard toffee.
W. Kamau Bell 51:54
Yeah, so shoutout to See’s hard toffee.
Traci Thomas 51:56
Okay, before we go, we got to talk about spelling. I am a notoriously horrible speller. In your book. You both mentioned how you cannot spell privilege, which I obviously took a note about because I asked everyone on the show the word they cannot spell correctly. I felt seen because that’s one of my many words. And I’m going to ask you each a word you can’t spell correctly, but you neither of you can say privilege. You gotta come up with a different one. Because that’s already in the text, you know?
W. Kamau Bell 52:21
Okay. Oh my god,
Kate Schatz 52:23
that and I’m gonna say I am a really good speller. Are you? Yes, that’s
W. Kamau Bell 52:27
what I was gonna say. I’m actually not that bad speller.
Kate Schatz 52:30
But that’s and that’s part of why privilege is such a difficult word for me because it makes me so mad that I still struggle with it, because I really am like, I’m a prideful speller. But you’re one of those. Yes. What the other word is, that is really hard for me. And it’s ironic because it’s connected to privilege. It’s acknowledgement. Oh,
Traci Thomas 52:50
I gonna say white. No,
Kate Schatz 52:52
I got no acknowledge the word acknowledge and acknowledgement still messes me up. So all the times in this damn book, when I was typing acknowledged your privilege. I was like, Oh, God,
Traci Thomas 53:04
like a minefield of spelling for you.
Kate Schatz 53:06
It’s like a D G E, like that particular letter combo messes with me.
Traci Thomas 53:11
That’s a good one.
W. Kamau Bell 53:12
I would say I can’t I there’s an area of words that I’m not good at. So I can’t think of anyone in particular, but any words that any of those OHSs Ow. So gaseous, nauseous, nauseous, like, like sometimes there’s an eye sometimes there’s an E sometimes there’s both an eye and an EN and ODU. And sometimes any of those sort of like I like because they seem to be there’s very different ways you can get to that. That’s just I guess it is let’s just like that one. And they always although a although I’m very proud of the fact that I that I’ve always remembered from when I was a kid watching Sesame Street, that shun t i o n Shan Shan Shan Shan T I O. N. No, no, no, it’s old school, but my kids know that too now because to them so,
Traci Thomas 54:00
passing it on oral tradition, tradition. Okay, another thing I really want to quickly touch on you already mentioned your New York Times bestsellers come out you have recently become an Emmy multi Emmy nominated person for your we need to talk about Cosby which I watched in is fantastic. I don’t really have a question. I just some sort of plugging it for people who haven’t seen it yet. I guess my question is Do you feel like
W. Kamau Bell 54:30
I don’t I honestly love that. You’re like you mouth got really big.
Traci Thomas 54:33
I have so many questions because it’s so good. You also had former stacks guest Tressie McMillan Cottom in the movie so I was very excited because
W. Kamau Bell 54:43
she’s called the mic dropper. The mic dropper?
Traci Thomas 54:47
a dream. I mean, it’s filled with famous people also mark Lamont Hill also on the show. I don’t have a question, Rodney Cobb on the show. No, not yet. And Jamel Hill has a book coming out in October. So that’s another person I’m hoping that yes, I will.
W. Kamau Bell 55:02
I will try to help that happen.
Traci Thomas 55:03
Oh my god, please. Um, anyways, the movie or the movies, the series four parts. It’s so good. Breaking news was happening as it was as it was being made, which was also really it’s just the whole thing. It’s so good if you want your stomach to hurt watch it because I felt sick. Literally. I was like, I can’t watch another one tonight.
W. Kamau Bell 55:21
Like, I appreciate that- That’s, I appreciate that’s a good review. It doesn’t sound like a good review. No, it’s
Traci Thomas 55:25
the best. It’s like when the things make you feel when you feel that like holy shit. This thing is it’s anyways, this is a book podcast. But shout out to that. Congratulations, hopefully you’re going to be a winner. And it’s going to be even better. But it’s an honor to be nominated.
W. Kamau Bell 55:43
For one of the categories. I’m up against. Sir David Attenborough. And a guy who used to be president United States, Barack Hussein Obama heard of him. We’re up against those two and Lupita Nyong’o And Kareem Abdul Jabbar. So it’s an honor to be nominated.
Traci Thomas 56:00
It’s a It’s kind of like the easy category for you. It’s like sort of the one that’s like who you know, it’s your lock, because no one’s even heard of those other people.
W. Kamau Bell 56:08
Yeah. So as my friend said, yeah, don’t worry. Don’t worry about your speech on that one.
Traci Thomas 56:16
Good friends, good friends. Okay. Last two questions. One is for people who love this book, do the work. What are some other books you might recommend to them with the caveat that for people who have read this book and picked it up, there is a huge reading list in the back of this book. So there are plenty of recommendations. But if you want to just throw out one or two, we would appreciate it.
W. Kamau Bell 56:38
I would recommend a series of books called Rat, American women, A to Z. If you liked this book, you’re gonna like the writer of that other book. I actually think in the same way it is to give Kate some more credit. I read it to my four year old and I was like, Is this really for kids? And I meant that in a great way. Like as I was like, I was learning as I was it didn’t it does not feel like a kid book in the way, but it does. But it’s appropriate for kids. I think so but it doesn’t. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying to make anything cute is just trying to make things clear, and also Jomo Lubos. So you want to talk about race. So that’s another one that I think is like a fun, accessible, but not fucking right way to talk about racism.
Kate Schatz 57:18
So I’m gonna say, a book that just came out actually like two days ago and is Elaine Castillo’s new book of essays how to read now, where she’s really talking about, like, how white supremacy fucks us up as readers and thinkers. And like, really, I just so I’d say for people who listen to this podcast, who are probably into books and readers, like if the idea you know, that that book and I loved her novel, America is not the heart is incredible, but that this new book of essays is fire by late that’s Elaine Castillo’s new book. And then I would also say I mean, I think if people haven’t read RESPA mannequins, my grandmother’s hands and then his more recent book, I think it’s the quaking of America, I think his approach to somatic anti racism, I think, for people who are emotionally like, are having the kind of reaction of like, oh, like, it’s like, so hard for me to think about this overfloweth for white people who are it’s hard for them to think about and like feel the feelings. And then I think, of course, for for folks of color who are dealing with like the real bodily and somatic and emotional impact of white supremacy. I think his books are so important.
Traci Thomas 58:29
Amazing, amazing, great recommendations. Last question for each of you. If you could have one person dead or alive, read this book. Who would you want it to be?
Kate Schatz 58:37
It did not expect that question, Traci.
Traci Thomas 58:40
I only asked it every week, Kate.
Kate Schatz 58:42
Oh my god. Oh. Like, can I come up with it first?
W. Kamau Bell 58:50
Oh, my God. I mean, there’s everywhere. Like, I wouldn’t really want to know.
Kate Schatz 58:54
I’m gonna I’m going to stall here by saying one more book recommendation, actually, because the Black Panther graphic novel that came out last year that just won like big Eisner Award at Comic Con. And actually, Marcus Cormier and Anthony Anderson, who did the illustrations for the Black Panther graphic novel also did the little cartoons of us in our book and do the work. That graphic novel is such a great history of the Black Panthers. And I’m going to tell a short anecdote while we figure out our answer to your two incredibly hard question. But no, just last night, I actually was at an art opening in Oakland and had my nine year old son with me and we met Erica Huggins from the Black Panther Party and my son, we had like we were chatting with her and I said, I said to him, you know, this is Erica Huggins from the Black Panther Party and his jaw dropped, like my little white nine year old son’s jaw dropped, his eyes got wide, he couldn’t believe he was meeting her and he was so excited. And she was like, how do you know who I am? And he was like, because I read the graphic novel about the Black Panthers. So that’s my shout out for that, but luck and how my son is now enamored and knows that history.
W. Kamau Bell 1:00:04
Alright, you just came us came with your answer though.
Kate Schatz 1:00:06
Okay, there we go. I’d like Eric Huggins to read this.
W. Kamau Bell 1:00:10
It’s possible because she lives here.
Traci Thomas 1:00:12
You can just just drop it off if this Yeah,
W. Kamau Bell 1:00:15
I was gonna steal that from you. I was like, No, that’s Kate’s that’s, uh, Eric Goggins. As I think Ericka Huggins would get it because she knows that this work takes on different forms and different for different functions. So I’m gonna say, I’m gonna say we’ve mentioned before, I would say Nina Simone, because I think Nina Simone really understood the power of art to make to sort of lead to change like she you know, to think that she heard about, you know, the, the racial terrorism the south and turn it into Mississippi. Goddamn. And if you listen to the version of that song, the definitive live version, that song it’s clear that she has a sense of humor about it, too. This is a show tune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet. Like so. I would say Nina Simone.
Traci Thomas 1:00:56
I love it. Thank you both so much for being here. Everyone the book do the work is out in the world. Wherever you get your books, please pick up a copy, maybe grab one for the whites that you know, or if those people are you grab one for yourself. You know what I’ve Kate Kamau, thank you so much for being here.
Kate Schatz 1:01:13
Thank you so much. Thank you for having this podcast.
Traci Thomas 1:01:17
We will see everyone in The Stacks.
Alright, y’all that does it for us today. Thank you so much to W. Kamau Bell and Kate shots for joining us today. And also a huge thank you to a lot of gold for helping to make this interview possible. Our book club pick for August is how to write an autobiographical novel by Alexander chi. And we’ll be talking about that book on August 31 with Ingrid Rojas Contreras, if you love the show and went inside access to it head to patreon.com/the stacks and joined the stacks fan. Please make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you’re listening to your podcasts. If you listen through Apple podcasts or Spotify 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 stackspod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stats podcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Christian Duenas. Yes with the production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. And our theme music is from Tiki urges. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.
To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.
The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.