TheGrio Daily

What To Do When Your Country Turns Into A Dumpster Fire

Episode 17

“The land of the free and home of the brave is not so free or brave.” Michael Harriott lays out the steps Americans can take to put out the country’s inferno dumpster fire that’s raging with no end in sight.

You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black culture, amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Has the country’s Supreme Court suddenly put law reproductive rights in the hands of white legislators. Have you seen the people who are charged with protecting your life and serving your community shoot people who look like you in the face? Are you concerned about the fact that it’s harder to vote than to get an assault weapon? Has a mob of angry white people tried to overturn an election and overthrow your nation? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re not alone. For years, political scientists, historians and a well-regarded organization called Every Black Person Who Ever Existed has diagnosed America with a neurological condition Colloquially known as “Being Fucked Up.” If you or someone you know watched the last president and now suffer from the condition experts has termed “What Happened to the Illusion of Truth, Equality, National Exceptionalism and Superiority Syndrome (W.H.I.T.E.N.E.S.S)?” Have no fear. Your friendly neighborhood negroes are here. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:06] It’s white People Wednesday. I’m Michael Harriot and this is theGrio Daily. The only podcast that can tell you what to do when your country turns into a dumpster fire. Every Wednesday, theGrio likes to focus on our white audience members. Right. We like to talk about their concerns. And recently, our Caucasian consumers have started to realize that the land of the free and the home of the brave is not so free or brave. Luckily for you, not for us, because this shit kind of hurts. Black people have a quite a few useful survival skills born from 400 years of navigating chaos and disorder in a country that ignores our concerns, stamples on our rights and historically called for white supremacists to stand up and stand by whenever we ask this nation to stop being so damn racist. So to address the concerns of those who are beginning to suspect that their country might be traced, theGrio has created this handy dandy little pick me up. To help our unmelanated countrymen survive and, dare I say, thrive under these adverse conditions. This is what to do when your country turns into a dumpster fire. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:38] Step one: Accept that your country may be trash. Like, I was Colin Kaepernick protest years old. When I realized that some people actually believe in that stuff in the national anthem. Look, I imagine that it feels good to romanticize the past, but if you squint really hard at any history books during the twilight’s last gleaming, you might discover that Francis Scott Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner in 1814, when America still allowed the state sanctioned practice of enslaving Black people. And the US will continue to permit its citizens to purchase human beings for another half century long after Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands stop that slavery B.S.. While racism exists in varying forms everywhere those countries didn’t replicate the uniquely American versions of Jim Crow. They didn’t create color base disenfranchisement. And they didn’t instill legalized second class citizenship that still exists in the land of the free and the home of the brave. No, America is a dumpster fire, its trash. And sometimes, you know, trash catches on fire. To be fair, I was disappointed when I learned that Minnesota didn’t have berets made out of raspberries, crying dogs or a single inch of proper precipitation. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:03] Step two: Realize that you’re part of the problem. Are you outraged that a so-called democracy would overturn the right to abortion when you frazzled by a clarion call to MAGA Muffin poll watchers? Well, you should have probably said something when Donald Trump promised that he’d overturn Roe versus Wade or perhaps he should have stood up after he did it. And the majority of white women voted for and a choice candidates in the next two election. Or maybe when he installed two Supreme Court justices who he said was going to overturn Roe versus Wade. Maybe you should have joined the thousands of Black led organizations that was doing something about it. And I know you didn’t think that it was going to personally affect you. Which is actually a good point. See, if you suddenly watch someone planning a robbery, you can’t cry when they take your shit. There will always be corrupt, racist liars who try to destroy America. But this country won’t be destroyed by corruption, racism or lies. It will be because someone recognized the corruption, racism and lies and did nothing. So congratulations. You helped light this dumpster fire. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:15] Step three: Stop loving America so damn much. I mean, everybody was rightfully appalled when the January 6 congressional committee reported that Republicans had joined the efforts of proud boys and white supremacist groups to overthrow the country. Aside from the fact that Black reporters like myself have been reporting on The Proud Boys, the three percenters, the Oath Keepers for nearly a decade, and saying, hey, you know, they go try to overthrow the country like they’re going to try to toss on our votes. And it’s going to be a little bit of voter suppression and some violence. We’ve been saying that for years. But white people like, “How did this happen? Who knew this was going to happen?” We did. We try to tell y’all. Of course, those violent right-wing extremists didn’t spontaneously manifest themselves into existence. They probably came from the right-wing militias who claim to want to protect the constitution. Or maybe they came from the innocuous was far-right groups who the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have been warning us about in written memos for years. The nativist movement of the 1920s and the 1830s. The Ku Klux Klan, the nativist movement of the 1940 Nazi movement. The segregation movement, and the alt-right movement all evolved from supposedly patriotic groups who were intent on protecting American values and keeping America first. See. America ain’t lines on a map. America, ain’t shit but people. Whenever someone cloaks themselves in the false flag of love for a country or refers to himself as a patriot, you should be scared because they are actually preparing to grab the tiki torches and long good so they can ignite a dumpster fire and start killing people who don’t look like them. It happens every time. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:04] Step four: Don’t fan the flames. Even if you don’t agree that Black Lives matter. Even if you don’t like seasoning, even if you don’t refute. Even if you refuse to accept the infinite amount of studies proving systemic racism exists in voting, policing, criminal justice, education and health care. I don’t understand why you would fight against addressing those problems. Like if it don’t exist, then let the people waste their time trying to fight it. Right? Like, don’t try to stop progress. Can we agree that police kill too many human beings? Why not just try to improve all schools? Shouldn’t we try to keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven to be unstable and dangerous. Why would anyone want more people in jail or more people dying because they can’t afford health care? Yet in America, we fight all of this. And I can’t understand why. Why do you fight the good things? And that’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know why anyone would oppose universal background checks or an increase of the minimum wage or incarcerating police who kill unarmed people. white children go to school. There are more poor and unemployed white people than there are Black people. You know, cops shoot white people, too, right? Yeah, I know they. Right. As the white apocalypse devours your beloved country you got to remember that. We got to remember how you gathered around a fire and watch this burn and we beg you to help us extinguish the flames. You said, Nah, I got to roast these marshmallows. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:41] Step five: Choose a side. Perhaps this dumpster fire was ignited by people who only consider their needs instead of thinking about the greater good. Whether it’s a global pandemic, economic anxiety, or the prospect of a post-election free for all, you’re going to have to pick a team to represent you in the Great American Shit Show. The choice isn’t between Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, or even white people versus Black indigenous people of color who use the correct bathroom and have mercenary sex with Jesus. You have to make a choice between good and evil, right and wrong. And here are your choices. People who believe Black Lives Matter or people who aren’t bothered by videos of Black people getting shot in the face, lower taxes or poor people having access to well-funded schools, community resources, living wages, higher education and affordable health care. A global pandemic that disproportionately kills poor people. Or wearing a mask to Wal-Mart. Guns versus guns, but with some common sense rules. The right to vote or the right to vote, if you have an I.D., have never committed a crime or are employed by a company that will let you off work, live in a white neighborhood and don’t mind waiting in line. Lawrys versus is a dash of seasoned salt. 

Michael Harriot [00:10:01] Step six: Do what Black people do. Now that your country is in flames, you’re going to need someone to show you how to survive the fire. Although there are many people who have endured hardship and suffering, there is only one group of people whose record proves that they are worthy of your allegiance. Team Black People. This ain’t to say that white people won’t survive as they survived the bloodiest conflict in American history. But they will fight and white people. They survived the Great Depression because the New Deal simply took the tax dollars paid by Black people and built the white middle class. They barely made it through horrific tan suits, terrorist fist bumps and hidden birth certificates during the Obama presidency. And all they got to show for it was free health care. A healthy economy. International climate change agreement. A nuclear free Iran. And five Rihanna albums. Black people on the other and survived slavery. The Civil War. Reconstruction. Separate but equal. Red summer. Redlining. The Civil Rights Movement. Nixon. The war on Drugs. Ronald Reagan. Two Bushes and Donald Trump. And we did it with twice the unemployment, unequal schools, lower pay, housing inequality, financial discrimination, racial terrorism and no health care. And just as she did during Donald Trump’s reign of terror, Rhianna release very little music during reconstruction. See, we’ve been doing this stuff. 

Michael Harriot [00:11:22] Step seven: Don’t just stand there. Do something. We know you’re not an experienced firefighter, but you can lend a hand by voting for a party who isn’t supporting white nationalism. Or you can just say something every time you spot a microscopic bit of injustice or inequality. Or just don’t call the police every time you feel uncomfortable or upset. Fighting for equality, even if it cost you some privilege, is the right thing to do. Or you could just not reflexively choose to protect whiteness over righteousness. At least you can just stop buying Katy Perry albums. Or you can listen to Black women. Seriously, stop calling the police all the goddamn time. Or you could use more seasoning. Or you could pay Black people the same thing you pay white people. Or you can support diversity and inclusion by raising your hand, asking why there no Black people in the room? Or remembering the thing I said about not calling the cops. Aye, why don’t ya’ll try that. Okay. I would just checking.  

Michael Harriot [00:12:19] And number 8, this is the final one. Let it burn. I know it feels terrible to watch something you love be destroyed by racism, apathy, hate and incompetence. But you have to look at the bright side. You’re going to get a brand new country. See, sometimes you can change the system by enacting fairer rules and injecting equity into the equation. But sometimes you just got to raise everything to the ground and start all over. You can’t fix anything without dismantling the parts that are already broken. And this is just the breaking point. The founding fathers were essentially like wig wearring members of Antifa. The federal government put down a white supremacist rebellion, and we call that a Civil War. Examples of previous dumpster fires include like the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, the war between the states and the white supremacist, the segregation movement, making America great again, stopping the steal and every attempt at a reboot of the Fantastic Four. Will ya’ll please stop doing that. Like we don’t need the Fantastic Four movies. For real, y’all. And if any part of this podcast makes you feel uncomfortable, there’s also an online version of this podcast that isn’t filled with as much sarcasm, profanity and racism. It just basically says this, In every stage of these oppressions, we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be a ruler of free people. 

Michael Harriot [00:13:57] See, America has always been trash, and sometimes the things that should have been discarded or politely hauled away by people who we have charged with that task. But there are times when those people don’t do their jobs and the racist, incompetent, corrupt debris starts to stink so bad that some of us can’t take it anymore. And now. You are some of us. Don’t forget to download theGrio app. Subscribe and tell one friend about theGrio daily. And as usual, we’re going to leave you with a quote from Black America for all of our white friends who just realized that they are in a dumpster fire. “You know, Black folks draw heat.” 

Michael Harriot [00:14:42] Thank you for listening to 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 theGrio dot com. 

[00:14:59] You are now listening to theGrio Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.