‘We tried to warn you’: ‘What’s In It For Us’ podcast says history is repeating itself

“One of the things that history shows us is that a rising tide does not lift all boats,” says guest host Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene thegrio.com
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Credit: U.S. House of Representatives)
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There’s nothing new under the sun and this week, historian and author Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur joined the What’s In It For Us podcast to talk the historical precedents informing and shaping some of the biggest moments unfolding in the nation right now. 

A recent investigation from The New York times linked the sickle cell anemia trait to 47 police-custody deaths over the past 25 years. While several doctors interviewed by NYT said they would be apprehensive to make a connection between the sickle cell trait and the official cause of death in these cases, What’s In It For Us host Dr. Christina Greer said we’ve already seen attempts to use pre-existing medical conditions to deny the use of excessive force. Greer cited the recent trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd. 

“I’m so afraid that there’s going to be a court case that sets the precedent that if you have this recessive gene as an African-American, then what has been done to you by law enforcement can essentially be excused,” said Greer. 

The CDC just announced fully vaccinated Americans can drop their masks and start the journey back to normalcy, but is this move too soon? Dr. Greer says given the ways in which Black communities in particular have disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the answer is yes. 

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A report from the National Urban League found that Black Americans are three times more likely to get COVID-19 than white Americans. Dr. Rigueur says the effort to get Black Americans vaccinated and protected from the virus has, in some ways, been stunted by non-residents taking advantage of vaccination clinics in Black communities. 

“We often know that Black people are the first ones sick and the last ones healed and this is the situation right now,” said Rigueur. “We see these vaccine clinics…but one of the things that we are seeing is that they are increasingly being populated by white community members coming in from the suburbs and rural areas to get their shot and go.”

Also giving us a deep sigh this week are the antics of GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. A video from 2019 recently surfaced of Greene and a group of men outside of the office of New York State Representative and outspoken Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Greene and the men taunted AOC claiming she had an obligation to address them face-to-face as is her duty as an elected public official. The same week the video was released, Greene reportedly followed AOC out of the Capitol building, shouting after her and again demanding that AOC address her. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Greene’s behavior may warrant an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. 

Cori Bush Marjorie Taylor Greene thegrio.com
(Credit: Bush and U.S. House of Representatives)

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Dr. Rigueur says not only is Greene’s behavior common practice, but Black women, specifically democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush, have long sounded the alarm about feeling unsafe around the Georgia representative and shared three simple words: 

“We tried to warn you,” said Rigueur. “I think that’s going to come up over and over again when we’re talking about Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

While the current state of affairs feels bleak, Dr. Rigueur says history has already pointed us to where we need to look find answers to some of the biggest problems facing the nation. 

“We have a blueprint for fixing this,” said Rigueur. “The Kerner commission lays it out and the problem is not the people. It’s never the people. They have recognized these systemic factors each and every time but it takes policymakers who have the power to change these institutions.” 

This week, brought us much to discuss but, with so much going on, we always have to stop and ask: What’s In It For Us? 

Tune into What’s In It For Us, now streaming on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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