Ayesha Rascoe On 'The Black Hair Experience' : It's Been a Minute The Black Hair Experience is a pop-up visual exhibit dedicated to the beauty, history and nostalgia of Black hair. Guest host Ayesha Rascoe takes a trip there and chats with its co-founder, Alisha Brooks. Then, Ayesha is joined by NPR's Susan Davis and Asma Khalid about the two huge economic priorities for the Biden administration.

— Read Ayesha's essay: "The Black Hair Experience Is About The Joy Of Black Hair — Including My Own"

You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at samsanders@npr.org.

'The Black Hair Experience' Is About The Joy Of Black Hair — Including My Own

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ANNALISE: Hi. I am Annalise (ph). This week...

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Celebrating Black hair.

ANNALISE: ...Celebrating Black hair.

RASCOE: All right, let's start the show.

ANNALISE: All right, let's start the show.

RASCOE: OK, very good.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: My turn.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Ayesha Rascoe, in for Sam Sanders. This week, we are talking about hair - Black hair. So story time - you know, when I was little, I have some pretty vivid memories of being in the kitchen with my head in the sink, getting my hair washed, water rushing down over my head and my ears and my eyes. I felt like I was drowning. And let's not even talk about that hot comb that came after the hair wash. The less said about that, the better.

But nothing was better than the end results, a fresh new hairdo, which is why when I heard about a new exhibit near Washington, D.C., all about Black hair, I knew I needed to check it out.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Hi.

RASCOE: Last week, I went to The Black Hair Experience, a pop-up visual, Instagram-friendly museum dedicated to the beauty, history and nostalgia of Black hair - so, you know, perfect for audio (laughter).

We're standing in The Black Hair Experience. It is - as you can hear, it is vibes. It's vibes. And there are, like, all these colorful installations. So there's a wall full of Black magazines and hair magazines and women's magazines with all these covers. And there's this really amazing kind of, like, lights and mirrors, like, that you can stand in, and you feel like you're really in a music video. And there is this installation that says - with a desk that says, my hair is not unprofessional. That statement is meaningful because for so long, Black people have been told their hair has to be straight to be acceptable.

ALISHA BROOKS: No matter who's sitting behind that desk, how they're wearing their hair, my hair is professional...

RASCOE: This is Alisha Brooks.

Yes.

BROOKS: ...However I'm choosing to wear it.

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: And that - and to foster that message...

RASCOE: (Unintelligible, laughter).

BROOKS: ...That, you know, our hair should be, you know, normalized and celebrated and it shouldn't be, like, a water cooler conversation.

RASCOE: Alisha co-founded The Black Hair Experience along with photographer Elizabeth Austin-Davis. I talked with Alisha outside - that's why you hear a Mack truck - about why she wanted to bring this exhibit to life. And actually, I had already been to the exhibit once just for fun. This was my second time. And it turned out to be so relevant to the conversations that I've been having on the show while guest hosting, like how Black women athletes have been treated at the Olympics and the controversy surrounding the banning of natural hair swimming caps, also with Sonequa Martin-Green about her own natural hair journey. Some parts of those conversations were pretty heavy because it hurts to have to defend something as intimate as the hair that grows out of your head. But this time, I really wanted to focus on the joy of Black hair, which brings us back to Alisha Brooks and The Black Hair Experience. The two of us started off just trading stories about our own hair journeys.

So I had my hair relaxed for a very long time. And really, it was because - when I was an adult, it was because it was easy. When I was younger, I think it was because I just didn't want to get my hair done in the kitchen sink anymore - like, getting it washed, having the water flow all over my face. I didn't want that, so I got a relaxer. I had a relaxer for years. But by the time I was an adult and, like, getting my hair done for, like, different events and stuff, like, sometimes I would get a hair stylist, and they would be like, you still relaxing your hair? Like, they would be shocked.

BROOKS: Yes.

RASCOE: But there can be an almost - sometimes it can be pit against each other. Like, if you relax your hair, if you straighten your hair versus not straighten your hair, instead of being a unifying thing - but I felt like with this exhibit, that's not there. That part of it is not there.

BROOKS: Yeah, absolutely not. We really want to create the message that regardless of you choosing to wear relaxer, your hair natural, if you have locks, if you are bald, like...

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: ...Your hair, however you're choosing to wear it, is beautiful, it should be celebrated, and to help, like, kind of break down that pitting each other - ourselves against each other.

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: Right? 'Cause me and Liz (ph), we both have daughters, and we want them to feel comfortable growing up and being able to wear their hair how they choose. Like, me and Liz are both natural now. We didn't start off that way. We went natural, like, in our 20s. And I want my daughter to feel comfortable saying - like, if I want to put a relaxer on this, you know, we'll coach you and get you there.

RASCOE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BROOKS: So creating this space and making this an inclusive space to where it's not just about having natural hair or having relaxed hair, it's just about celebrating Black hair in general.

RASCOE: Because Black hair is fun. Like, you can flip it up and do it so many different ways. You know, Meg Thee Stallion says, switch up my hairstyle, make you think you cheating. That just like - basically, like, you can be a whole other person.

BROOKS: Yes.

RASCOE: You know, today I'm Sheila (ph).

BROOKS: OK.

RASCOE: Today I could be - you know, you could be somebody else tomorrow, right (laughter)?

BROOKS: Absolutely. I am here for that. Like, I wholeheartedly may have three different hairstyles.

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: I may start off with a twist-out. By the end of the week, I may have a wig.

RASCOE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BROOKS: So that's my prerogative.

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: So I was the girl who had all the hair magazines. I would go to the salon like, give me No. 32. Like, I remember when Keyshia Cole first came out, I was like, I'm about to do the two-tone.

RASCOE: Yes.

BROOKS: I want two different colors. Oh, it ended so badly. I think all the top of my hair broke off 'cause I, like, bleached it, turned it, like, red. It was terrible. But I just...

(LAUGHTER)

BROOKS: I just remember being so influenced and inspired by the things that were around. You know, I mean, like, when I was in high school, everybody was doing, like, French rose and waterfalls and crimp.

RASCOE: Oh, yeah. Yes.

BROOKS: We used to call them, like, four-in-ones. So you got, like, four different hairstyles going on (laughter).

RASCOE: Well, I know something about that, yeah, 'cause you could have the finger waves on the top. You could have, like, a bun in the back.

BROOKS: A bun, yes.

RASCOE: And then maybe a swoop (laughter).

BROOKS: A swoop. Got to get some crimp or some (unintelligible), something. I just remember having, like, a lot going on.

RASCOE: Yes, a lot. I had a lot going on.

BROOKS: Going on, yes.

RASCOE: It was a lot.

BROOKS: But hair is fun. I think hair can represent wherever you are in your life, whatever you're going through. You know, like after I had my babies, I went through postpartum shedding. Like...

RASCOE: Oh, yeah.

BROOKS: And I had to kind of re-fall in love with my hair 'cause I was like, who is this? Like...

RASCOE: Yeah.

BROOKS: So I think that's one of the things that makes Black hair so beautiful - because, you know, you can go - it's so versatile. You can go through so many different phases.

RASCOE: Back inside the exhibit, which even on a Saturday morning was buzzing with music and laughter, I wanted to know why other people had chosen to come to The Black Hair Experience and what their stories were.

SHANTAE LANDINGHAM: My name is Shantae Landingham (ph) - Landingham as in landing a plane and ham, the meat.

RASCOE: OK, so what brought you out here today?

LANDINGHAM: You and The Black Hair Experience, OK? I saw it on Instagram, and I was like, it's a must for me to be there, yes.

BROOKS: Yeah, I had the same experience. When I saw it, I was like, we got to go. We got to go.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: What's the longest you've ever been in a salon, either getting your hair done or waiting to get your hair done?

LANDINGHAM: OK, so I don't wait.

RASCOE: OK, you don't wait.

LANDINGHAM: But it depends on what I'm getting.

RASCOE: OK.

LANDINGHAM: So when I'm getting braids, it's about six hours, you know, because I go to the lady - shoutout to my girl Keisha (ph). Hey, girl. She actually washes my hair.

RASCOE: Yes.

LANDINGHAM: You know, none of that prewash your hair - we don't do that.

RASCOE: No.

LANDINGHAM: I really wish y'all could see my expressions 'cause it adds to the ambiance.

RASCOE: It adds - we can feel it. We can feel it in what you saying. We can feel it, though. We can feel it, though. OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: What do you wish that more people knew about Black hair?

LANDINGHAM: I wish they knew how much time that goes into it.

RASCOE: Yes.

LANDINGHAM: I wish they knew - you know, when I say they - 'cause I know the culture knows not to touch the hair, especially when it gets done. So they know not to touch the hair. I wish they knew, you know, when you walk into work - oh, I like your hair - they supposed to comment, you know, 'cause it take a long time to get...

RASCOE: Put a lot of effort into it.

LANDINGHAM: Exactly.

RASCOE: A lot of effort.

LANDINGHAM: Recognize the hair and get to a point where I work - go into office and I say, hello, anybody see something different here?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAKIYLA MCPHERSON: OK. Hello. My name is Shakiyla, and it is spelled S-H-A-K-I-Y-L-A.

RASCOE: Your last name?

MCPHERSON: McPherson.

RASCOE: And so where are you from, and your age?

MCPHERSON: I am from Woodbridge, Va., and I am the fabulous 28 (laughter).

RASCOE: OK, OK, OK. What brought you out here today?

MCPHERSON: So today we decided to come here to have a fabulous girls day, hanging out with my beautiful girls. Hey.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: And so what is your go-to hairstyle when you want to get real cute?

MCPHERSON: When I want to get real cute, my go-to hairstyle - what has to be a sew-in with leave-out because it looks so natural, and you're able to get, like, any length that you want with it.

RASCOE: So that is a sewn-in weave with some of your natural hair out. We got to explain it to everybody. They don't know. They don't know.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: What's your name and the spelling? OK, I need the full name and the spelling first.

ASHLEY WHITE: OK. My name is Ashley White - A-S-H-L-E-Y W-H-I-T-E.

RASCOE: Just got to make sure 'cause sometimes they throw a Y in there or something. You never know.

WHITE: Yeah, yeah.

RASCOE: Why is Black hair important to you?

WHITE: It's literally like a organ. Like, it's vital. If your hair is not done, you going to feel crazy. It starts from your cranium. So...

(LAUGHTER)

WHITE: ...You making sure your hair is done and looking to whatever you want it to be, it exudes in how you act and how you feel, what you want to do and things of that nature.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: OK, OK. What do you wish that more people knew about Black hair?

WHITE: That it's healthy and it takes the time that you put into it. It's not always bad. You don't always got to shave it off. You don't always got to cut it. It's not nappy (laughter). It just needs tender love and care, like anything else.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: So in addition to all the joy, the other thing I noticed about being at The Black Hair Experience was the freedom - freedom to wear your hair however you like and really embrace it.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thank you.

RASCOE: No problem. Thank you so much.

If I could go back in time and talk to that little girl who was getting her hair done in the sink, I would tell her, you are beautiful. Your hair is beautiful, even though you are not always going to feel that way. And one day, you will be able to celebrate yourself and your hair fully, and you won't be alone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Coming up, we chat with some of our friends from the NPR Politics Podcast, and we play our favorite game, Who Said That?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: So now we're going to talk about something that I'm usually reporting about in my regular job, my day job - politics.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: When I'm not here, I'm a White House correspondent for NPR. And there's been some news related to my beat, specifically two huge economic priorities of the Biden administration - a $3.5 trillion plan containing lots of Democratic priorities...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: This budget resolution will allow us to pass the most significant legislation to expand support and help American families since the New Deal.

RASCOE: ...And a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The investments we'll be making as a result of this deal are long overdue.

RASCOE: Here to walk with me through it all are my friends, esteemed colleagues and NPR Politics Podcast co-hosts Susan Davis, NPR congressional correspondent, and Asma Khalid, my fellow White House correspondent at NPR. Hey, guys.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ayesha.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hey there. So good to talk to you.

DAVIS: I like this host chair reversal.

RASCOE: Yes.

DAVIS: I like being on the other end of the mic with you.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

KHALID: I do, too. I do, too.

RASCOE: So I have to say, I have not been following politics as closely these last few weeks because I've been focused on, like, TV shows and massive goldfish and stuff like that. So selfishly, some of this is just prep for me to return...

DAVIS: Coming back to your day job (laughter).

RASCOE: ...Yes, to my regular job next week. So, you know, so thank you, guys, for helping me out with that.

DAVIS: Oh, you're very welcome. I know that feeling of listening to the podcast to try to catch up on news that I have been ignoring. So I'm here for you.

RASCOE: Thank you. So before we get into the actual details of these packages, we have to start by saying a lot of Biden's economic agenda is on hold right now because it's dependent on Congress, and Congress is doing what it typically does, which is not moving very fast and slowing things down, right, Sue? Like, there have been hiccups.

DAVIS: There certainly has. I mean, if you remember - I think it was about a month ago, maybe close to a month to the day that Joe Biden stood outside the White House flanked by Republican and Democratic senators and said, we've got a deal on this $1.21ish trillion infrastructure package. And here we are a month later, and we still haven't even seen a bill. So it's a good lesson in how slowly things can move in Washington.

They are - they say they're close to having a final deal. Joe Manchin, who we talk about all the time in politics, the West Virginia Democrat who's a key swing vote on this, said they're 99% there, and there is a chance that next week we could actually see bill text and the Senate will start the process of taking it up and likely passing that bill because, if the Republicans who supported the deal stay on board, they're going to have those 60 votes they're going to need.

RASCOE: OK, so 99% there. But in Congress, that 1% can be the dangerous percent, right (laughter)?

DAVIS: Sure, especially if that 1% is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Like - it's, like, rough. But so, Asma, then what do we know about what is in this infrastructure deal? Obviously, I know that we're totally in it. We in it, right? But for people, when they hear infrastructure, a lot of people - their eyes will start to glaze over. Like what? Oh, OK, infrastructure. But this is a lot of money. It's more than a trillion dollars. Like, what do we know about what they are trying to do with this deal?

KHALID: Well, some of it is about traditional infrastructure, right? You think roads, bridges, water systems. The administration says that some of these systems have just been crumbling for a long time, that there are bridges in this country that are long overdue for repair that haven't gotten the fixes they need. And some of this money is focused on that.

Another bucket of this money, though, deals with what I would call kind of like new age infrastructure, and that's high-speed internet, broadband. You know, there is a sense during the pandemic that there were pockets, that there remain pockets of this country that are just not available and accessible via high-speed broadband, and that needs to be rectified in order to sort of just make the entire swath of the country, certainly more rural pockets, able to compete and participate in a 21st century economy.

RASCOE: And so infrastructure is one of those things that's, like, really popular when it's polled - right? - but the federal government can't seem to get anything actually passed into law. Like, why is that? Why is there such a disconnect there?

DAVIS: Well, I think everybody shares the same end goal. I mean, the thing that makes infrastructure bipartisan and so popular is it gives literally every member of Congress something to go home and campaign on. So a lot of the stuff is easy sells. What's never the easy sell is how you pay for it, right? Like, there's just been this huge ideological divide between the two parties over how to get things done in the country and how big the government should be. And one of the reasons why this infrastructure bill isn't as big as Joe Biden and Democrats wanted it to be is because Republicans drew a red line and said, we're not going to raise any taxes. The Trump tax cuts are, essentially, still protected right now. There's going to be a big fight over that in a coming budget bill. But that was one of the things that was taken off the table in the infrastructure talks in order to get a bipartisan deal.

So when you have such radical disagreements over what taxes should be, how that money should be spent, it's really hard to get compromise even if the policy itself is something that both parties have a shared interest in.

RASCOE: Yeah. So the thing that makes this a bit complicated is - because you have, like, two things going on at the same time. So you have this $1.2 trillion infrastructure thing. We'll set that over here to the side. But there's also - Democrats are pushing forward with this $3.5 trillion budget deal. And that deals with a bunch of stuff, health care, child care, climate change. Like, that amount of money is a real legacy-defining, once-in-a-generation type of investment, right? Like, is that is what is happening with this $3.5 trillion budget deal?

DAVIS: The thing I would say that I think is most important to keep these two bills different in your mind is that infrastructure is a lot of money, but it's not new policy. Like, we've got roads and bridges and infrastructure and broadband. This is, like, juicing the existing system to make it better. What Democrats are going to try to do with this other behemoth legislation is sort of rewrite the social contract of America. I mean, it's much more sweeping, impactful legislation because it's all new policies. It's stuff that doesn't exist right now - universal pre-K education, expanded Medicare that would cover dental and health and vision, free community college, federal paid leave policies for the first time in American history. I mean, these are literally policies that would change the way American life is lived. And it's a huge, huge financial gamble. But it's also a huge political gamble as well.

KHALID: I mean, it also strikes me, though, that there's some sense from Democrats that there are all these other priorities that they want to accomplish and that there is no way that they will be able to get bipartisan buy-in for them. And so it feels a bit like this $3.5 trillion package is just a grab bag of a whole bunch of Democratic priorities, right? I mean, Sue, like, isn't there talk of immigration being thrown into there, right?

DAVIS: Yep. Yeah.

KHALID: Like, all these things they know they won't be able to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on, they just...

DAVIS: Climate change.

KHALID: ...Well, throw it all into here, right?

DAVIS: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, their goal is to do as much as they possibly can within the rules of budget reconciliation. And that's tricky because budget reconciliation is the process that they're going to use to get around needing any Republican support. The challenge there is that you're going to need all 50 Senate Democrats to back this thing, which is going to be hard unto itself. And then you have in the House a Democratic majority of maybe a three or four-seat vote margin. I don't know how they're going to do it. I mean, it's going to be the big, big fight within the Democratic Party, basically, throughout the rest of the year if they can even get it done by the end of the year.

KHALID: But I am struck by the fact that it's so big - right? - $3.5 trillion that even if Democrats whittle away a trillion dollars here or a trillion dollars there, and they still...

RASCOE: (Laughter).

KHALID: ...Say, hypothetically end up with, like, a $1 trillion package, I mean, that could still do a lot, to your point, around reshaping parts of the economy or reshaping parts of how - rethink, you know, the social safety net.

DAVIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: So you mentioned some of the things that, right now, are included, like the universal pre-K, free community college. Like, what is the thing that surprises you most out of, you know, what has been mentioned about being a part of this plan? Is there anything that, like, really stands out to you or surprised you that's in there?

DAVIS: I think if Democrats tried to do some element of immigration legislation in this package, that's going to be really tough. I mean, especially when you consider how focused and targeted the Republican Party is on the issue of immigration and border security and protecting American jobs. And I feel like that will take what is already going to be a very political bill - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said no Republicans are going to vote for this. I think that's a pretty safe bet. But you toss immigration into that fire and you make this a hugely controversial and political piece of legislation that will probably - you know, the 2022 midterms may well be a referendum on - right? - on the Biden agenda and what they can or are able to do here.

KHALID: You know, but if it is a test case - right? - the Biden White House seems to believe that by focusing on the economy, by, say, offering things like expanded Medicare that would cover dental and vision issues or making permanent the child tax credit, those are things that would, essentially, offer tangible benefits to voters. And, you know, they believe, I guess, that there is a political advantage to this, one that, potentially, they could reap in those 2022 midterms. To me, one of the questions is, you know, this linear connection between getting, say, a government benefit or benefiting economically from a political party, does that actually, like, connect the dots and make you vote for the Democratic or Republican Party? And candidly, I would say much of my reporting in 2016 showed that folks don't necessarily make that connection - right? - that people vote against their own economic interests, it seems, all the time. And I'm not really sure that this would lead to great political payoff for the Democrats.

DAVIS: I completely agree with that.

RASCOE: When you talk about the child tax credit, I mean, that's money in the bank for a lot of families. And so I guess, for this, they're talking about making that permanent, right? So you feel like even with that, people wouldn't connect that to the Democratic Party? Like...

KHALID: Honestly, I don't know. I mean, what I will say is that I feel both in 2016 and in 2018, I would meet people who did seem to vote against their own economic interests. There were Democrats who voted against President Trump and independents who voted against President Trump, even though they personally benefited from the Trump tax cuts.

RASCOE: Yeah.

KHALID: And on the flip side, you know, I went out to a steel mill that was suffering because of the steel tariffs that President Trump had put in place. Jobs were kind of on the rocks at that particular location. And I met a number of people who supported President Trump and continue to support the former president. So I am fascinated to see if it actually happens. I just don't know that we've seen indications so far that it does.

DAVIS: I am hugely skeptical of economic politics at a time of deep social division because so much of politics right now is about cultural warfare and how you identify your life and your values. And I think that that, in this moment, trumps economic politics in a way that sort of contradicts the it's-the-economy-stupid political cliche that, like, that's the thing that matters the most.

RASCOE: Yeah.

DAVIS: Republicans right now, if you look - what are they doing in this moment? They are focused very heavily on cultural grievance. A lot of it is still immigration. I mean, think about the conversations that they're trying to provoke on this idea of critical race theory - and I'm using finger quotes when I say it, but this idea of how we understand and teach racism. I mean, that is dominating conservative media and conservative conversations right now. And they're making two very different bets on what voters are going to lean on going into the 2022 elections, specifically white voters, right?

RASCOE: Yeah.

DAVIS: Like, and voters that are critical to the Republican base. So I don't think Republicans have a lot to gain by campaigning against universal pre-K education, right? Like, that's not a - they're not going to win on sort of the policy merits. But I think that they have this instinct, which is an instinct that, you know, led - propelled Donald Trump to win the White House and to delivering a lot of Republican victories, that voters identify with parties based off of their cultural values, and bigger government isn't necessarily the thing that's going to make you vote for a Democrat, even if this is the party that is enacting policies that is objectively making your life better and providing more for you and your family.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Well, Sue and Asma, thank you so much. But stick around 'cause, coming up, we are going to play Who Said That? You know, I'm very excited because I'm in charge. Mmm hmm, mmm hmm.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: Is it going to be all "Real Housewives" quotes? Is that...

KHALID: Own it, guys.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: I wish. I wish. But not this time.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

RASCOE: This week, I'm joined by my friends and colleagues, Susan Davis, NPR congressional correspondent, and Asma Khalid, NPR White House correspondent. Thanks for being here.

DAVIS: Oh, it's a pleasure.

KHALID: Thank you for having us.

RASCOE: OK, y'all, so now it's time for the best part of the show. We're going to play Who Said That?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA")

KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

RASCOE: You have played this game before, but here are the rules. And, you know, I'm a stickler for the rules. I'm going to read you three quotes from the past week. You tell me who said that or what it's about, and the winner gets absolutely nothing.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: But that's what makes it fun. So are y'all ready?

KHALID: I'm ready.

RASCOE: OK, here is the first quote. "It all started with a great song and grew from there. It's so exciting that we get to build on that success with the huge event in the feature film" - 'cause we can't say the name - "which we're just starting to talk about."

KHALID: Oh, my God.

DAVIS: What?

RASCOE: Now, you guys know this.

KHALID: I know this?

DAVIS: I'm usually really good at these, and this is...

RASCOE: You know this because you both have children.

KHALID: OK.

RASCOE: It is about a sea animal. The song is very catchy, (laughter) very catchy.

DAVIS: Oh, is it "Baby Shark"?

(SOUNDBITE OF FANFARE)

RASCOE: "Baby Shark" - yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SHARK")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Baby shark - doot, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo (ph).

KHALID: Wait - they're making a movie about "Baby Shark"?

RASCOE: Nickelodeon Animation is creating a "Baby Shark" movie. They've already turned it into a TV series, which Annalise loves, my daughter - loves. And that they are going to expand Baby Shark's world and introduce new events in Baby Shark's life that haven't been explored before.

KHALID: Wow.

RASCOE: So I don't know what Baby Shark has been through.

DAVIS: The origin story of Baby Shark.

RASCOE: (Laughter) I just hope they don't go, like, dark with it. When they're talking about exploring different parts of Baby Shark - you know, sometimes these animations, they can start - you know, OK, get rid of Grandma Shark. You know what I'm saying? Don't do that.

DAVIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: Don't go there with Baby Shark. Keep it light. That's what I would say. OK, so who won that one? Sue, you got that one.

DAVIS: I think I did.

RASCOE: Sue got - won that one. OK, so Sue - one point to Sue. Let's do the next one. The second quote is - "Concussions aren't great, but as long as you get them before you're 50, it's cool."

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: I feel like that's Rob Gronkowski (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF INCORRECT BUZZER)

DAVIS: That's probably the right answer. It just sounds like something Gronk would say.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: So if you - so a hint. This is about a comedy franchise that is known for dangerous stunts.

DAVIS: Is it "Jackass"?

(SOUNDBITE OF FANFARE)

RASCOE: Yes. This is...

DAVIS: Is it Johnny - what's his face? Johnny Knoxville?

RASCOE: Yeah, it's Johnny Knoxville. Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JACKASS FOREVER")

STEVE-O: And Knoxville's 49. So we're good.

RASCOE: So this quote is from the "Jackass Forever" trailer that dropped this week. It's the fourth film in this series of movies starring Johnny Knoxville. And of course, if - I think this is probably - a lot of people listening may not even remember this because I feel like this is, like, my generation. Like, this is, like, older.

DAVIS: Yeah, I do, too. It feels like when I was, like, in high school.

RASCOE: Yeah, so they would do these horrible stunts and, like, get - you know, fall on, like, skateboard and fall on they heads and do all these, like, gross things. And that was just what they did, and it was big. But they're now, like, I think...

DAVIS: Now they're just old men who should not be doing these things.

RASCOE: No. Asma, did you ever watch "Jackass"?

KHALID: I did not. I also feel very out of the loop with this part of our pop culture past, which apparently was when we were all in high school because I am roughly the same age as you all.

RASCOE: You didn't watch MTV?

KHALID: No.

DAVIS: You know what, though, Asma? You have sisters, and I had brothers, and I think that's the difference here.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

DAVIS: Like, sisters don't sit around watching "Jackass."

KHALID: No.

RASCOE: No.

DAVIS: My older brothers would watch "Jackass," and I would be subjected to it.

RASCOE: Yes.

KHALID: Oh (laughter).

DAVIS: I did not seek that out.

KHALID: Yeah, that doesn't exactly sound like my...

DAVIS: That doesn't scream Asma to me.

RASCOE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: It actually would be way more funny if you were like, I loved that show.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Yeah, exactly. Well, OK, so right now Sue is up.

DAVIS: OK.

RASCOE: But we going to make the last one - we can make it, like, three points.

KHALID: Oh, wow. That's a lot of pressure.

DAVIS: Wait a minute - you said you were a stickler for the rules. You can't just change the rules in the middle of the game.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: But I can change the - that's the part of being in charge, is that you can change it at any...

KHALID: You've been covering politics a little too long, Ayesha.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Yes. So this makes it interesting. So this is for all the marbles, right?

DAVIS: OK.

RASCOE: OK, so the third quote is - "It's always hot girl summer for my husband Carl."

DAVIS: Oh, I know.

RASCOE: "Happy birthday to my love."

DAVIS: Dolly Parton.

(SOUNDBITE OF FANFARE)

RASCOE: Yes. OK, Sue won. She ran away with it.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: So this quote is from Dolly Parton. And on Tuesday - have y'all seen this video of her?

DAVIS: I saw the picture on Instagram.

KHALID: I didn't see the video.

RASCOE: The video - she is in a Playboy bunny costume. Yes, Miss Dolly. And she recreated (laughter) her outfit from her 1978 Playboy cover for the occasion. She was going to be there for Carl, so go ahead, Carl, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DOLLY PARTON: He still thinks I'm a hot chick after 57 years, and I'm not going to try to talk him out of that.

DAVIS: May we all be like that at 75.

RASCOE: Yeah, I wish I was looking like that now.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: So Sue won it all, so she gets all the points. But you were a great player, Asma.

KHALID: Thank you. Thank you.

RASCOE: And, you know, so both - having both of you here has just been a joy, right? So thank you very much to both of you.

KHALID: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Thanks again to Asma Khalid, NPR White House correspondent, and Susan Davis, NPR congressional correspondent.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Got to get closer to the mic. Speak big. Say, now it's time to end the show...

ANNALISE: Now it's time to end the show...

RASCOE: ...Like we always do.

ANNALISE: ...Like we always do.

RASCOE: Every week, listeners share the best thing...

ANNALISE: ...The best thing...

RASCOE: ...That happened to them.

ANNALISE: ...That happened to them.

RASCOE: Say, we encourage them to brag.

ANNALISE: We encourage them to brag.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: And they do.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Then you say, and they do.

ANNALISE: And they do (laughter).

RASCOE: Say, let's share a few of those things.

ANNALISE: Let's share a few of those things (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JULIA: Hey, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. It's Julia (ph) from Minneapolis. Best thing that happened in my week - that was I started the first session of a blacksmithing class. I was really excited to try something new and use different parts of my brain.

JEN: Hey, Sam. This is Jen (ph) in New York. The best part of my week was being officially sworn in as an attorney, admitted to practice law in the state of New York. In the past year, I had to finish law school online, take the bar exam remotely and start as a first-year associate from the desk in my bedroom. You may now call me Esquire.

SHANALEE: Hi, Sam. The best thing that happened to me this week was I threw myself a birthday party. I invited friends over to watch a movie in my backyard, and it was the first time many of my friends had seen each other since the beginning of COVID. So I felt like I facilitated a bunch of hugs.

ANA: Hi, Sam. My name is Ana (ph), and I live in Orlando, Fla. I finally got to see my aunt and uncle and my cousins, who only live about an hour away, but I haven't seen them, really, since the pandemic started all together. So it was really, really a sweet time, and I'm so grateful for vaccines.

CORALEE: Hi. This is Coralee (ph) from Virginia. The best thing that happened to me this week was watching my two former foster children learn how to ride bikes. It was amazing. They just got it. And then they were up and running and - actually, up and biking (laughter). And I love them so much. Have a good weekend.

JEN: Thanks for all you do.

JULIA: Love the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RASCOE: Thanks to those listeners you just heard there - Coralee, Ana, Shanalee (ph), Jen and Julia. Listeners, you can send your Best Thing to us at any time during the week. Just record yourself, and send a voice memo to samsanders@npr.org. That's samsanders@npr.org.

This week, the show was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry, Andrea Gutierrez and Liam McBain. Our intern is Manuela Lopez Restrepo. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. Our director of programming is Steve Nelson. Our big boss, the senior vice president of programming at NPR, is Anya Grundmann. All right, till next time, I'm Ayesha Rascoe. Talk soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

RASCOE: Analise, did you want to try?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You're mic. Who are you? You're the White House. You're hair.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: OK.

ANNALISE: Hi. This is NPR.

(LAUGHTER)

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