TheGrio Daily

An American horror story

Episode 114

“It’s not just white people; it’s conservatives; they are the Dr. Frankenstein in this analogy.” Society can’t agree on much but we can all agree that monsters aren’t real, they’re fiction that’s created. Michael Harriot tackles some of the biggest arguments used by conservatives pointing out that they’re just monsters, fictitious theories made up to scare us. 


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Hello. Have you ever heard of Frankenstein? Like Frankenstein is scary. Like. Like this big monster that, you know, I think he always has the bolts in his head. And he “Errr.” He’s kind of like a zombie. Except like none of that is actually accurate. Did you know, like, the monster is not called Frankenstein, right? In the actual book, the man who created the monster is actually Dr. Frankenstein. The only way you would know that is if you were woke. What am I talking about? Well, I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that’ll tell you about how “Woke” became a monster. So I’m sure you’ve seen like all of these clips of white people, like giving this crazy definition of woke. 

[00:01:08] Wokeness is weakness. It’s a cancer that’s eating America. Woke is something very different. It’s it’s identity politics. We see it all the time. It’s always the most important thing. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:17] You know, we’ve talked about it on this podcast before, but just so you know, and you will have to go back and look in the archives. Woke was a word that was first used by Black people in the 1920s. There was a blues singer called Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, who first, like is first recorded a using the term in a song about the Scottsboro Boys, some boys from Alabama who were convicted of raping a white woman, falsely convicted, and Huddie Ledbetter, Lead Belly. Ledbetter wrote a song about it, and at the end of the song, he said, You know, you got to stay away from Alabama. If you’re Black, y’all stay woke. 

Lead Belly [00:02:02] I advise everybody be little careful when you go down through that. But stay woke. Keep them eyes open. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:08] And from then on, like people were using it all of the time, like white people weren’t using it. But, you know, in 1940s, coal miners strike by the Negro Coal Miners Workers Union, William E. Kelley, who is this great author, you should look for his books. He wrote an article in The New York Times in 1962 about Negro idiom, and one of the phrases that he defined was woke. And he just means to be aware, Right? And so we’ve known what it meant for a long time, and we didn’t necessarily keep it to ourselves. Like, William Kelley wrote a thing in the New York Times. Erykah Badu wrote a whole song about stay woke. 

Erykah Badu [00:02:53] Stay woke. Gotta stay woke. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:00] So did Childish Gambino and you know white people love Donald Glover. 

Childish Gambino [00:03:05] But stay woke. They be creepin’.

Michael Harriot [00:03:11] It wasn’t like he was keeping it a secret. But white people don’t necessarily pay attention to Black people. They co-opted it and they started calling themselves woke if they, you know, paid attention or kind of were basically progressive or liberal. Which is never what woke meant. It just meant watch out for white people. But, of course, white people getting watch out for white people. So they just created an own definition. And then other white people who didn’t like the white people who had redefined the thing that Black people created. They are the ones who turned it into a monster. They are the Frankenstein. Not just white people, it was conservatives. They are the Dr. Frankenstein in this analogy. 

Dr. Frankenstein [00:03:56] It’s alive. It’s alive, it’s alive. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:58] But. Here is the thing, right? That ain’t the first Frankenstein. That ain’t the first monster that they created. This is a tatic. So to understand the history of this monster that these white conservative Frankensteins created. We’ll have to go back. Right? We will have to go back. Let’s see. We can start with the abolition movement was a thing, you know, even before America was a think way. In notes on the state of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, you know, guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence. He wrote about Black people and he said, like, I’m kind of in favor of, you know, ending slavery. I think that slavery is wrong. But here’s a problem. You know, when the Greeks had slaves and Romans as slaves and it was bad, but they enslaved people who looked like them, and so they didn’t have to worry about it. Here’s the important part. When they freed those people, they didn’t have to worry about those people’s blood mixing with things. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:12] That was a real worry. That was one of the main arguments against abolition. And it extended even after slavery. And the idea that Black men were going to procreate or even have sex with white women was the monster that they created to justify slavery, to justify Jim Crow, to justify lynching. As a matter of fact, Ida B. Wells, who was this great journalist, one of the first investigative journalists. She advocated for an anti-lynching law. And people was like, But, you know, if we do that, you know, how are we going to stop the Black men from raping the white women? So Ida B. Well’s went around the country and she cataloged lynching. She did like a statistical study of lyinching, and she discovered most of the time a black dude is lynched it’s not for raping a white woman. Even the people who lie and say they do, that’s not why they lynch. They just lynch Black people for anything. Most lynchings didn’t have anything to do with white women, and she cataloged it, did a statistical analysis, you know, Southern Lynches and Other Horrors was kind of one of the first looks at the lynching epidemic. And white people didn’t care. They had already created their monster. 

Michael Harriot [00:06:42] Even during segregation. Right. The fight to end segregation wasn’t about integrating the schools, about bussing. Nah, it was like Black children are dirtier. They’re going to give our children’s diseases, white Black people who, of course, are dumber. And so they’re going to hold our kids back. They’re going to have to teach them slow. The civil rights movement, they manufactured a whole monster about communism. Right. Like most white people believed and here is the actual poll that shows it. Most white people believed that communist were involved in the civil rights movement. They had created a whole monster. Right. The first anti-gay laws were created because they said that the Russians were going to use the people’s homosexuality to turn them into spies. And so they passed a bunch of anti-gay laws. Why police were authorized to like patrol areas where gay people hung out because it was and it was called the Lavender Threat. Like you’ve probably heard of the the Red Scare. But like Google the Lavender Scare, Right. It was an anti-gay movement that was manufactured out of this monster. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:01] And even if you go to recent times, like the reason that they do this, like they don’t have an argument for segregation, for lynching, there’s really no valid argument. Except, I remember when my grandmamma gave me one. She told me, like, when you try to understand racism, you have to understand one thing. Some people are just mean. There’s no valid excuse. Some people are mean. So. Like when Barack Obama was running for president, right? Like they wholly manufactured a monster that he wasn’t from this country. That he was a socialist. And to prove it, they brought up this guy named Joe the Plumber, who was a small business owner who was hurt by all of these socialist policies, except it turned out that dude was not even a plumber. He didn’t own a business. Right. And then they said they said Obamacare was going to create death panels. And so they actually turned people against free health care. And to explain it, they said that they’re going to have a whole panel of people who determine whether you could live or die. Now, it turned out once Obamacare was instituted, that monster disappeared and white people liked it. And then they had another monster that they needed to stop the Muslim terrorists from coming into our country. And so they created the muslim ban against flying into the country. That’s how Donald Trump partly won. He also kind of won by saying, like MS13 was coming over here in caravans and so he was going to build a wall. 

Donald Trump [00:09:37] Build that wall, build that wall, build that wall. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:41] It was a monster. MS13 was a monster. The Muslim terrorists were a monster. How do I know? Because shortly after that, the FBI said, Well, the greatest domestic terror threat were white men, and then the people who were an actual gang turned out to be groups like the Proud Boys and the group of centers who created a movement to overthrow democracy. These white supremacist groups, they were the real threat. But white people had manufactured this brown Muslim BLM monster who was coming to set fire to their cities. And it turned out. The Washington Post reported that this the Black Matters live protests after George Floyd were actually less violent than the entire civil rights movement. But again, they had a communism monster back in the sixties, in the fifties. This one was about the thugs and ANTIFA coming to destroy their cities. It wasn’t true. It was a wholly manufacture monster. And the same with politically correct. The same with Black identity extremists. All of that was monsters. Because. And here is the point. They don’t have policies. They don’t have reasons. They don’t have something to say. We’ll make equal schools will make education better. We’ll give you a better life. Conservatives don’t have that. All they have are monsters: Woke. CRT, BLM, ANTIFA, The Leftist Agenda, The Gay Agenda, The Trans People Coming to Transform Your Children into Indiscriminate People Who Burst into the Wrong Bathrooms and Show Their Genitalia to Toddlers. It’s all a monster. None of it is real. 

[00:11:39] And the thing that you should ask yourself when you hear about these monsters is Hey, why weren’t Black people doing that before? Why weren’t we doing critical race theory in third grade since Derrick Bell came up with it. Why weren’t trans people busting in bathrooms before? Why weren’t the gays attacking us before? Why weren’t all the Black men raping the Black women before slavery ended? Why didn’t any of these things happen until white people manufactured? Because it is a monster and monsters aren’t real. But the monster isn’t CRT. It’s not wokeness. Frankenstein isn’t even a monster. Frankenstein is the man who creates the monster. And that’s why you have to continue to tell your friends about this podcast. That’s why you got to stay woke. That’s why you got to download theGrio app. And that’s why we always leave you with a Black saying. And today’s Black saying is “Monsters ain’t real but white people are.” We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app, Subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:32] I’m political scientist, author and professor Dr. Christina Greer, and I’m host of The Blackest Questions on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. This person invented ranch dressing around 1950. Who are they? 

Marc Lamont Hill [00:13:46] I have no idea. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:47] This all began as an exclusive Black history trivia party at my home in Harlem with family and friends. And they got so popular it seemed only right to share the fun with our Grio listeners. Each week we invite a familiar face on the podcast to play. What was the name of the person who was an enslaved chief cook for George Washington and later ran away to freedom? In 1868, this university was the first in the country to open a medical school that welcomed medical students of all races, genders and social classes. What university was it? 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:14:21] This is why I like doing stuff with you, because I leave educated. I was not taught this in Alabama Public Schools. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:27] Question number three. Are you ready? 

Eboni K. Williams [00:14:28] Yes. I want to redeem myself. 

Amanda Seales [00:14:30] How do we go from Kwanzaa to like these obscure. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:34] Diaspora, darling. 

Amanda Seales [00:14:37] This is like the New York Times crossword from Monday to Saturday. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:40] Right or wrong, because all we care about is the journey and having some fun while we do it. 

Kalen Allen [00:14:45] I’m excited and also a little nervous. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:47] Oh listen. No need to be nervous. And as I tell all of my guests, this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves because Black history is American history. So we’re just going to have some fun. Listen, some people get zero out of five, some people get five out of five, but it doesn’t matter. We’re just going to be on a little intellectual journey together. 

Eboni K. Williams [00:15:03] Latoya Cantrell. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:06] That’s right. Mayor Latoya Cantrell. 

Michael Twitty [00:15:08] Hercules Posey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:09] Mm. Born in 1754 and he was a member of the Mount Vernon slave community, widely admired for his culinary skills. 

Kalen Allen [00:15:16] I’m going to guess Afro Punk. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:19] Close. It’s AfroNation. 

Kalen Allen [00:15:23] I’ve never heard of that. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:23] According to my research, and Samuel Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon. 

Jason Johnson [00:15:28] Wrong. Wrong. I am disputing this. 

Latosha Brown [00:15:32] Very, very, very, very 99.9999 that it is Representative John Lewis, who is also from the state of Alabama. That let you know, Christina, we got some goodness come out of Alabama. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:44] There is something in the water in Alabama. And you are absolutely correct. 

Diallo Riddle [00:15:47] The harder they come. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:49] Close. 

Diallo Riddle [00:15:50] Oh, wait, the harder they fall. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:52] That’s right. I’m one of those people that just changes one word. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:15:57] I just don’t know nothing today. I’m going to pour myself a little water while you tell me the answer 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:02] The answer is Seneca Village, which began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee, the A.M.E. Zion Church. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:16:08] You know why games like this make me nervous? I don’t know if I know enough Black. Do I know enough? How Black am I? Oh, my Lord. They they, we going to find out in public. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:17] So give us a follow. Subscribe and join us on the Blackest Questions.