Ring the Alarm: ‘What’s In It For Us’ sounds off on political battles impacting us all right now

“It speaks to the disdain that Republicans have continued to demonstrate for democracy,” said guest host David Johns

The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
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Pride Month is coming to an end and so is the What’s In It For Us podcast — for now! The show is taking a hiatus in July and will be back in August and you can trust that we’ll be keeping that same energy.

Helping us out close out Pride Month and sending us off into our summer break is guest host and executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition David Johns. The NBJC is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowering and raising visibility for the Black LGBTQ+ community with a mission to “end racism, homophobia, LGBTQ/SGL (same-gender loving) bias and stigma.” 

As always there was a bevy of topics to dig into this week starting with the latest Verzuz battle. The showdown, the latest of which featured former teen rap sensations, Bow Wow and Soulja Boy, went down Saturday night.

While the event was met with much of the same fanfare and excitement as previous duels, it was also met with sharp criticism from folks who questioned whether or not Verzuz was making a habit of giving a platform and recognition to problematic artists. 

Soulja Boy and Bow Wow perform on stage at “Verzuz” on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (via Instagram)

Host and theGrio politics contributor Dr. Christina Greer, Ph.D., said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, the Verzuz series has felt like a way to stay connected to community, as well as serving as a source joy through a collectively difficult moment. 

“It has definitely been, for me at least, such a solace because it was so wonderful to see some of our favorite artists especially our artists from the past come and bless us” said Greer. 

Johns said that he too felt like the Verzuz series began as unifying cultural experience, but has since departed from it’s original production style and that he has questions for the producers, who chose to book Bow Wow and Soulja Boy. 

“I miss the old Verzuz in the same way I miss the old Kanye,” joked Johns. “I did not watch the last Verzuz battle. I will not support Soulja Boy, [it] has been enough. Everything that he’s said about trans folks is beyond enough.” 

The conversation shifted to news out of Georgia. The Peach State now finds itself the target of a lawsuit, brought by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, over its racist voter suppression laws. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law, which the U.S. Justice Department alleges was “enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color,” in March.

Greer said the fight over voting rights in Georgia is a focal point for many Black Americans as we understand the larger implications of what these laws could mean for the entire country. 

“We care about Black people, we care about democracy, we care about equal leadership and we don’t want to see Republicans running away with our democratic principles and freedoms,” said Greer. 

Johns pointed out that the Black LGBTQ+ community is especially vulnerable to the kind of voter suppression tactics happening right now in Georgia, as states across the nation are introducing more anti-trans bills than ever before. 

“Those of us with intersectional identities face these challenges in unique ways,” said Johns. “[However] Georgia continues to be ground zero for so many community leaders working to ensure that we all have the ability to be free. So many of them are Black and queer, trans and non-binary and woman-x identified, and we have to find more ways of telling their stories and find more ways to support them.” 

To listen to this entire conversation and to learn more about Johns and the National Black Justice Coalition, stream What’s In For Us, theGrio’s smart, funny and politically edgy podcast.

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