San Francisco Journalists Examine Black Identity In The U.S. On 'The Stoop'
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Leila Day and Hana Baba are not afraid to go there in their new podcast. It's called The Stoop.
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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The stoop.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Stories about black identity that aren't always shared in the open.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Shh (ph), girl, we can't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: It's like a griot, hair salon, a newsroom, and your mama's kitchen all in one. The stoop.
MCEVERS: They've got episodes about what it means to, quote, "sound white," who gets to wear African-style clothing and why black parents have a hard time saying I love you. They're both journalists in the Bay Area. And they say the podcast is more about raising questions and hashing stuff out than finding definitive answers. Leila Day is African-American and Hana Baba is Sudanese-American. And I talked to them earlier this week about The Stoop. I started by asking about the episode called "Sounding White."
LEILA DAY: We came up with that because we've both been told we sound white. Hana, I know you've been told this. I've been told this.
HANA BABA: Definitely. I'm on the radio. I host a show. And when people see me in real life, a lot of them are just, like, oh, you're black?
BABA: And so that's been interesting for me.
DAY: So in this episode I go to the skate park and I talk to some kids who've been accused of sounding white. They talk about what that means to them.
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UNIDENTIFIED BOY #1: Black people have told me I talk white before. Like, I don't know, like, what it means to, like, talk white or talk black.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY #2: Whenever you're saying I talk white, I get pissed off. They only do it 'cause my mom's white, you know, so I have to speak respectable. And they think since I'm black I have to act ghetto and be stupid.
DAY: So yeah, we really dug deep into this and looked into actually how there's something that's called linguistic profiling where people are kind of profiled based on the way that they sound on the phone. So that we go into a little bit in that episode.
MCEVERS: And there's another episode - we mentioned it briefly in the beginning - but it was one that was - I thought was really interesting. It's this - it's this idea of, like, who gets to wear African-style clothing. We're talking, like, septum rings, African prints, dashiki. Like, you talk very specifically about whether or not African-Americans should wear this stuff. I guess I want to hear about - you talked about how this is something you - it's a conversation that you actually had with each other at work, right?
BABA: Yeah. I mean, Leila and I have worked together for many years in the newsroom. She has some awesome clothing, I must say.
DAY: I have some great headscarves.
BABA: She's very stylish. I love, love, love, love her clothes. And some of the things are, you know, African print. So it's just interesting to me the whole conversation about appropriation when I hear in my community, in my Sudanese community, if people see somebody wearing traditional Sudanese clothing and they're not Sudanese they have some feelings about that. And some of them make those feelings known.
DAY: And this one was about basically, is it appropriation for black Americans to wear something when they don't know where in the continent they're from anyway?
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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Do you really expect a group of systematically oppressed people that were stripped of their heritage to really know the true meaning of all the African clothing after 500 years of disconnection from the continent?
DAY: And that's what we got into there.
MCEVERS: I guess you don't have a specific answer like yes or no, it's OK.
BABA: Basically the question from you is, is there a right here? Like, do black people have a right because this is also their heritage? And the fact that they don't know where in the continent they're from gives them, I think, a green light to wear it from West Africa, East Africa, whatever it is. As long as you know a little bit...
BABA: ...About the clothing, I think is - if there was a verdict in this episode, maybe that's part of it, just like understanding where this cloth comes from, its significance culturally, maybe in connecting to the people who wear it.
DAY: Right. Or, you know, to ask questions. Either Google it...
BABA: ...Ask an African.
DAY: ...Ask an African.
MCEVERS: Ask an African.
DAY: Yeah. We came up with that one.
MCEVERS: Yeah. And, Leila, I wonder, like, do you still wear your African print headscarves...
BABA: Hell yeah (laughter).
MCEVERS: ...After this episode?
DAY: Oh, my God. Yes. That has not stopped. This episode did not stop me from wearing my African print headscarves.
MCEVERS: Obviously, like, race and racism are in the news a lot these days, I mean, white nationalist and Nazi rallies that are happening around the country. Is that the kind of thing that you would cover at The Stoop? I mean, are you trying to be kind of off the news? Are you trying to kind of steer away from the news a little bit and have conversations that are a bit above all that?
DAY: I think one of the things that we thought about was that there's a lot of podcasts that are covering that really well in terms of conversations around race and, you know, the current political environment.
BABA: I mean, I think of The Stoop as more sociocultural than sociopolitical.
DAY: Honestly, as being - for being a black person in the country right now, it is - it can be exhausting having these...
DAY: ...Constant conversations about race, right?
DAY: And I think there's this assumption that when black folk get together that that's what we're doing all the time from outside.
MCEVERS: Yeah. You're like, hang on. We talk about other stuff. And we should talk about other stuff.
DAY: Yeah. No, we're talking about things that make us feel free and open. And that's what we wanted to do in this podcast.
BABA: But I do feel our content and our conversations still have a role in this bigger...
DAY: Oh, yeah.
BABA: ...Conversation about race in just bringing people together. Here, listen to this person who is from Senegal. Listen to this person who is, you know, someone who's black from Chicago.
BABA: And listen to what they have to say.
DAY: Or listen to how it might make us feel when you say we sound white, you know?
BABA: For example.
BABA: Right? And we have some interesting episodes coming up that are really going to dig into this stuff as well. So I'm just saying everybody has a role, and this is ours.
MCEVERS: Hana Baba and Leila Day host The Stoop. You can find their episodes on their website, thestoop.org, and on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks so much to both of you. I really appreciate it.
BABA: Thank you.
DAY: Thanks, Kelly.
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