A Year Of Mass Shootings, Plus 'Minari' and Recognition For Asian Actors : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders It might have seemed like mass shootings were down last year, but 2020 was actually one of the deadliest years for gun violence in decades. Sam talks to Abené Clayton, reporter for The Guardian, about why some shootings get more coverage than others. Plus, Sam talks to Shirley Li, staff writer at The Atlantic, about Minari and the way stereotypes inform how white audiences view the performances of Asian actors. Then, Hannah Giorgis, also of The Atlantic, joins Sam and Shirley to play Who Said That.

You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at samsanders@npr.org.
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Gun Violence Never Went Away, Plus The Overlooked Talent Of Asian Actors

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Gun Violence Never Went Away, Plus The Overlooked Talent Of Asian Actors

Gun Violence Never Went Away, Plus The Overlooked Talent Of Asian Actors

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  • Transcript

AUNT BETTY: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, the reality of mass shootings in America. All right, let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders. So in the last week or so, America has seen two mass shootings, one in Atlanta and another in Boulder, Colo. And every time there's a high-profile mass shooting, I can usually count on a few things to always happen. One, politicians will make speeches and statements that don't amount to much. Two, nothing will really seem to change. And three, The Onion will run the same article they've always run after mass shootings since 2014.

JASON ROEDER: The headline is "No Way To Prevent This, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens."

SANDERS: That is Jason Roeder. He is the guy who originally wrote that piece. Now, this article from The Onion, it is 7 years old. It first came out after the Isla Vista shooting. That was the one at UC Santa Barbara. Ever since then, though, The Onion has retweeted this story 17 times after other mass shootings. They just change it slightly to update the location and numbers. It's this sad reminder from a satirical news outlet of how this stuff never really seems to change.

ROEDER: I dread the day when it reaches a hundred iterations, you know? Like, how long is this going to go on?

SANDERS: This past week, The Onion retweeted that story twice.

ROEDER: It's really like a chronology of the fact we've made no progress. I mean, if anything, maybe it's just, in terms of taking something away from it, are you happy with it? If you're not, well, what will you say when we run it again? I suppose there's an argument to run it every day. But for now, I think they just focus on - well, you know, it's hard to say - like, the shootings that get the headlines. Well, what are those, and why are those?

SANDERS: And that's the thing. I realized the last time I saw this story, it was back in February 2020, before the country went into lockdown, before the pandemic really hit the U.S. And I, like perhaps a lot of you, thought, oh, maybe mass shootings were down this past year because we all were cooped up. But the truth is these mass shootings and gun violence, they did not just go away because of the coronavirus. They were always here. They never left. And in fact, 2020 was one of the deadliest years for gun violence in decades.

ABENE CLAYTON: As soon shutdowns started to happen, gun violence, specifically intra-community (ph), interpersonal (inaudible) violence began to tick up.

SANDERS: That is Abene Clayton. She's a reporter for The Guardian. She covers gun violence. And I called up Abene to talk through this trend and why we haven't been hearing more about it.

CLAYTON: A lot of my reporting focuses on Oakland. And at the start of the year, the city was on track to have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in probably decades. And around mid-March and late April, we started seeing just multiple people killed within two-week spans. And this is a trend that was duplicated in Los Angeles, in Philly, where there was maybe 50-plus-year high in 2020, and, really, in cities across the nation. And these shootings and homicides were concentrated in the places where we were also seeing the most COVID deaths, you know? Lower-income...

SANDERS: Really?

CLAYTON: Yeah, lower-income Black and brown communities. So we just saw these numbers go through the roof.

SANDERS: Yeah. Why is it - and so once you dig into the numbers, it's crazy. And this data will be confirmed by the FBI a little later this year. But we know kind of as a first read, there was a surge in daily gun violence last year that led to an estimated 4,000 additional murders in 2020 - 4,000 more than 2019. And experts say that 2020 will probably see the worst single-year increase in murders on record. OK, why, in the midst of all that uptick in gun violence, there was this narrative that took root over the last year that shootings were down and there were fewer mass shootings and there was less coverage of mass shootings? How can both be true?

CLAYTON: Yeah. So unless you're someone who has expanded their definition of mass shooting to be strictly numbers based rather than reaction based, it makes sense that you would see that. If I could go back for a second - in 2019, there was a really terrible mass shooting in Orinda, a small suburb here in the Bay Area. And initial coverage, because there were multiple casualties and multiple injuries, hundred or so people at the party, it was immediately covered as a mass shooting in the national news. It was everywhere. And in the following days, people saw that the partygoers, the victims and the suspected shooters were all Black. And it became very local. It became a, quote-unquote, "gang shooting."

SANDERS: Wow.

CLAYTON: It was something that was seen as, oh, we don't need to worry about that. This is just what happens when a bunch of Black and Latino teenagers get together and there's booze involved. They don't know how to act. They're going to start shooting. This is no Parkland. This is no Sandy Hook, so let's keep it local. It's a criminal investigation now. It's not a commentary on the U.S.'s issue with guns. And that is something that really affected me. A high school classmate was killed in that shooting. A high school friend was greatly traumatized by that. And they weren't lionized the same way that others are, you know, when they're shot in movie theaters and other public spaces.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CLAYTON: And a lot of that happened because this definition of mass shootings is so - people base it on whether or not it gets public attention, whether or not the March for Our Lives and the large gun violence prevention advocacy groups are talking about it. However, in my mind and in the minds of many researchers, trauma surgeons who care deeply about this subject, you know, four people shot anywhere is a mass shooting, you know? Victimization is victimization.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CLAYTON: But in so many American minds and in the context of the U.S. gun debate, these are consequences of living in the hood when it happens in Philly or in Oakland and multiple people are shot at block parties.

SANDERS: Yeah. And so when you have that happening, you're able to have years like 2020...

CLAYTON: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...A year in which gun violence and gun death is actually up, but no one seems to notice. It is crazy. You know - so I mentioned this uptick in gun violence over the last year, over this pandemic here, an estimated 4,000 more murders than usual. What, to the extent we know right now, caused this crazy uptick in gun violence over the course of our pandemic year?

CLAYTON: So I will certainly preface this by saying we won't have very definitive answers until we have the benefit of hindsight. And right now, it's still happening, so all we have is best-informed guesses.

SANDERS: OK.

CLAYTON: So I think economic desperation certainly has a lot to do with it. You know, folks are losing their jobs. People are being traumatized by a deadly pandemic, spending more time at home in some places that may not be the healthiest. But one thing that I do keep hearing from, you know, violence interrupters and different clinicians is the loss of in-person interactions that were so vital for young folks, you know? I know so many violence prevention advocates who are able to capture and defuse really potentially deadly conflicts by showing up at high schools. And there was so much great momentum. And then the pandemic hit, and no one could see each other again.

SANDERS: Yeah. Well - and what I notice in, you know, reading your work and hearing you talk about this stuff, the shootings I think that Americans care the most about and give the most attention to are these high-profile shootings that target strangers. You know, shootings where it's a drive-by with folks that may know each other or domestic violence killings or club shootings where everyone's come up to the same party or nightclub, those get less attention because I think it feels less out of the blue. Is that part of it, too?

CLAYTON: Yeah.

SANDERS: Like, when a stranger is shot, you always say to yourself, I could be that stranger. When a nightclub is shot up, you say, I don't even go to nightclubs anymore.

CLAYTON: Yeah, I think that's a really great point. My colleague Lois and I wrote about this kind of framing of innocent victims versus, like, complicit victims, you know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CLAYTON: This - oh, well, you shouldn't have even been there. Why are you even still living in that neighborhood if you know it struggles with gun violence? Why are you still there? You know, we are so quick to ask when it's usually a Black, brown low-income person. Like, oh, well, you know that this happens in your community. Why didn't you move out the way, you know? Why would you even go to that store? Why are you even on that neighborhood? You know, no one's asking about why it's unsafe for someone to visit their grandmother's home or why it's unsafe for somebody to walk on a block that they've lived on for years. No one asks those questions when it's someone in - I keep using, you know, Philly and Oakland because these are the two places that I look at the most.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

CLAYTON: But no one asks those questions then. But when you have someone at a mall, movie theater, public space, people can just identify with that more 'cause it's like, oh, if it's one of those, like, I was just going about my everyday life and a gunman walked in, you can see that in those situations. It's the exact same in the hood. You know, no one wakes up and is like, I'm going to get shot today...

SANDERS: Yes. Might get shot today - exactly.

CLAYTON: ...Exactly. That's a common theme in both of these is that no one expected to wake up and lose their life to a bullet that day.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, when I think of the coverage that the Boulder, Colo., mass shooting has gotten and the Atlanta mass shooting has gotten, one of the things that happens after a shooting - after shootings like those are covered, is the call for gun control measures.

CLAYTON: Yeah.

SANDERS: And these are regulations that seem specific to the types of shootings that get a lot of coverage - bans on certain types of weapons, background checks, et cetera. But would those preventative measures prevent a lot of the, quote-unquote, "gang shootings" or undercover local shootings that we don't hear about as much that are actually on the rise?

CLAYTON: Yeah. (Inaudible) Of course, dismiss any sort of efforts to address the supply of guns, restrictions, et cetera.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CLAYTON: But I will say - a doctor that I spoke to said it really well. She looks at gun violence in terms of a public health crisis. And to understand a public health crisis, you have to know what the real disease burden is, and that's what you want to address. And in the case of gun violence, most gun deaths are suicides, one.

SANDERS: Huh.

CLAYTON: Yeah, I think it's about two-thirds. Most are...

SANDERS: Wow.

CLAYTON: ...Suicides - white men in rural places. And that's something that, for various reasons, people don't talk about that often. But right after that, it's the murders of usually young Black and brown people. And to look at high-profile mass shootings and send all of the efforts and kind of legislative goals towards that is treating the rarest form of that disease.

And I think when we instinctively go to, well, that's why people shouldn't have AR-15s and that's why we need these universal background checks and a registry, that is all fine. That is all dandy. However, it's not going to address the true burden. It's not going to affect what the majority reason for these losses of life is.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Thanks again to Abene Clayton. She's a reporter at The Guardian covering gun violence.

Coming up, we break down the film "Minari." It is an Asian American movie up for a lot of Oscars. But my next guest says, even if you love that movie, you probably don't get all of the nuance in the actors' performances. She'll explain.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: So after the mass shooting in Atlanta this month, Asian Americans have been urging the rest of us to reckon with America's long history of anti-Asian racism. And my next guest says that requires us examining movies as well.

SHIRLEY LI: What we see on screen, what Hollywood delivers, is inextricable from the way that Asians are perceived in real life.

SANDERS: That is Shirley Li. She's a staff writer for The Atlantic. And I talked to her about a piece she wrote recently about Asian representation on screen. For a very long time, Hollywood has relied on these tropes of Asian representation that make it very easy for the industry and viewers to not really see Asians - at least, not see them fully.

CLAYTON: There's the trope of the inscrutable Asian. There's the trope of depicting Asians as this racialized horde. And even when Asian performers are the leads, they're exoticized, or they're misunderstood.

SANDERS: But this year, that might be beginning to change.

LI: I was heartened to see "Minari" get several performance nominations at the Oscars.

SANDERS: "Minari" is about a Korean American family that moves to Arkansas to start a new life on a farm.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MINARI")

STEVEN YEUN: (As Jacob Yi, speaking Korean). Garden of Eden is big - like this.

SANDERS: But the work is hard on the family. So to get some extra help, they have a relative come to town from Korea. Unlike other movies focused on an Asian cast, two of "Minari's" actors did get Oscar nominations this year. But Shirley said, even still, some of the nuances of the performances in this film, they still go unrecognized.

LI: When Steven Yeun's name was announced and when Youn Yuh-jung's name was announced in the best supporting actress category, I - I was thrilled.

SANDERS: OK.

LI: (Laughter).

SANDERS: OK.

LI: I just felt like, oh, good - it happened. I think those were the two actors in the ensemble that there had been buzz about. But on the flip side of that, you know, one of the actors I write about in the piece from "Minari," Ye-ri Han, she's been overlooked. And her performance is - it's not melodramatic, the way that Oscar voters have tended to prefer...

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: ...In the past.

SANDERS: That's what I want to really dig into. So you write that she offers this nuanced and subtle performance that Asian viewers might see and realize and know and identify with. But it's a performance that mostly white film critics, who are looking for, you know, dramatic, white performances, they just might not get it. Talk more about that and why some people don't see that that is actually skillful performance.

LI: To answer your question, I'm going to kick this over to "Minari's" writer/director Lee Isaac Chung. I talked to him for the piece.

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: And he felt like her performance might be invisible, even though she's the emotional heart of the story.

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: So she - you know, he told me, her performance - there are no loud speeches. It's just her, quote-unquote, "being."

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: And what results from this performance is a humming anxiety. She's not going to, you know, talk to her husband about how him gambling over this land that he bought is a bad idea. She's really trying to hold it together for the family. And when we think of actors, we expect them to express a lot of emotions.

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: And for her, she's holding it all back. So it's tough to read into that, I think, for audiences who don't understand that very specific Asian immigrant headspace of supporting your family by any means, not letting, you know, the waterworks flow.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it's like, this kind of perception of what is an Oscar-worthy performance, it affects, you know, all kinds of actors. It seems to particularly hurt Asian actors in certain performances. There are these other ways in which a subdued performance in a film like "Minari" is particularly ignored because of the ways in which Americans and American film critics have gotten used to seeing Asian people on screen. There are these stereotypes and these tropes that we always see. I know you mentioned a few of them earlier, but I want to have you kind of go through them and say exactly what they are.

LI: Yeah, it's the inscrutable Asian, the perpetual foreigner, the racialized horde. All of that is foundational to the very specific invisibility of Asian actors. When you think about the way that they've appeared in the past, well, either they're whitewashed or...

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: ...They're in the background. They have served more often as the backdrop then as the subjects.

Now, specifically with "Minari," I think, you know - I think we should talk more about Steven Yeun's performance being recognized. His performance, when it's written about by a lot of white film critics, I think they pick up on his idealism. He is the character - he's the patriarch of the family who is intent on making the American dream work. You know, he's the one who buys this plot of land in Arkansas, moves his whole family out of California to try to make it happen. And that is an immigrant narrative that we have seen in a lot of these stories, right? And immigrant stories...

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: ...Are certainly a huge genre in Hollywood movies. But that character - Steven Yeun's character is also really angry in a way that I don't think I've seen picked up as much except by Asian writers and viewers. His performance is someone who is an extraordinarily angry man, and he is simmering with frustration over how he has not been able to make it work. And I think that is the - you know, it's such a - it's almost such a small, slight difference.

That very slight difference also works in terms of Youn Yuh-jung's performance as the grandmother. I talked to her for the piece, and she had told me, you know, after screening, so many people came up to her being like, you're so funny in the movie. You're so funny, you know? And they talk about her as, like, the comic relief of the film. And her character is certainly witty and is in some funny situations, but she's also more than just comic relief. And that goes again to the nuance that we're discussing that is often hard to talk about (laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Well, and it's, like - I'm just thinking of - as "Minari" walks into the Oscars with a lot of nominations and possibly an Asian actor or two getting an Oscar for this film, are you hopeful that there is real change on this front? Or is it still going to kind of maybe be the same even after the Oscars?

LI: (Laughter) I mean, that's the classic question, right? It's, like, oh, this is a step forward. Is this actually (laughter) - are we going to take two steps back right after this?

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: I mean, it is hard to tell. I think any step forward is a step forward. But, you know, if we just look at what happened in the past week, you know, these Oscar nominations come out. They're so - this is a huge reason to be celebrating in the AAPI community.

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: And then the next day, the Atlanta shootings happen. And...

SANDERS: Targeting Asian women.

LI: Yes. And the conclusion that I can - that I've drawn from that is that what we see on screen, what Hollywood delivers, is inextricable from the way that Asians are perceived in real life. And that is something that we need to keep working on (laughter), you know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

LI: It's great to see one movie out there become legitimized at the highest level. You know, even though there are a lot of folks who would say that awards don't really matter. Awards do matter for (laughter) a community like this. And if one story can make it, hopefully that means more stories can make it as well.

SANDERS: Yeah.

Thanks again to Shirley Li. You can find her work at The Atlantic. Coming up, Shirley brings her friend Hannah Giorgis onto the show for a little game of Who Said That? Stay with us.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm your host, Sam Sanders, joined for this segment by two guests who happen to be colleagues. Tell folks who you are.

LI: Hi. I'm Shirley Li. I'm a staff writer with the culture team at The Atlantic.

HANNAH GIORGIS: I'm Hannah Giorgis. I, too, am a staff writer with the culture team at The Atlantic.

SANDERS: OK. So were y'all, like, cubicle buddies in the before times in the office?

LI: (Laughter) On occasion. I work remotely because I'm based in LA. But when I have visited the office, Hannah and I have seen each other (laughter).

GIORGIS: We have.

SANDERS: OK.

GIORGIS: We have met in person before. It has been lovely (laughter).

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: OK, good.

GIORGIS: Once we got a nice little lunch, you know, working. Yeah (laughter).

SANDERS: Those were the days - going out to lunch with your colleagues. I remember those times.

(LAUGHTER)

LI: Yeah. Imagine - water cooler conversations...

(LAUGHTER)

LI: ...Lunches in restaurants.

SANDERS: Right? Well, this next segment - this next game is going to be all about the types of stuff that you would have during that water cooler conversation. It's my favorite game. It's called 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?

SANDERS: So this game is really easy. I share three quotes from the week of news, and you've got to tell me who said it. Guess the person or the story I'm talking about or just some keywords. Just holler out the answer when you have it. There are no buzzers.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I'll try to keep score, but I'm bad at that. But it doesn't matter 'cause the winner gets nothing but bragging rights.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: Sounds good.

SANDERS: All right. So this first quote - I want you to fill in the blank with this one and tell me what kind of thing we're talking about. Here it is. Quote, "To celebrate the start of springtime, Pepsi collaborated with Peeps to develop a limited batch of its first-ever blank cola." What kind of cola?

GIORGIS: Oh, no.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: An abomination - I don't know.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

LI: The first-ever gross cola.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

GIORGIS: Easter cola (laughter)?

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

LI: Easter cola. Right.

SANDERS: No, specific to what Peeps are. What actually are Peeps?

GIORGIS: Oh, marshmallow?

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

LI: Marshmallow cola?

SANDERS: Yes, marshmallow.

LI: No.

SANDERS: It's happening this spring. Y'all are like twins...

GIORGIS: No.

SANDERS: 'cause you kind of said it together...

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: ...So I don't know who gets the point.

(LAUGHTER)

LI: I, mean, I like Hannah's answer...

SANDERS: I'm just trusting you both.

LI: ...Of an abomination cola.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Who do y'all want to get this point?

GIORGIS: Yeah, it's a famous marketing term. I - Shirl, it's all you.

LI: OK. I'll take it.

SANDERS: OK, Shirley, you get that point. That was Pepsi, this week, announcing their newest soda flavor - marshmallow cola - through a collaboration with Peeps. I want you both to Google right now, Peeps soda Pepsi and just see it. It's trying to be cute, but it looks disgusting. It's this yellow can, looking like a yellow (inaudible)...

GIORGIS: No.

SANDERS: ...And it's kind of Easter-themed.

GIORGIS: I don't like this.

SANDERS: And it just - looks nuclear.

LI: I don't - oh, God. Ew. Yeah, this is...

GIORGIS: It looks like it should be banana cola, which is not appealing to me either.

LI: Also, why - I don't get why the branding is Pepsi X Peeps when Peepsi is right there.

GIORGIS: No, Shirley.

SANDERS: Oh, no. Peepsi?

GIORGIS: I'm taking my point back.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: The game is over. We're ending this.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Here's the next quote.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: It is also food-related. And it's also a fill in the blank. Quote, "Cinnamon toast shrimp guy turned out to be a blank, just like bean dad," is a sentence I desperately wish I did not understand.

LI: The milkshake duck (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

GIORGIS: Same milkshake duck, right? Yeah.

SANDERS: Milkshake duck. Who said milkshake?

LI: I said it. But I am...

GIORGIS: Both of us said it, but Shirley said it first.

LI: No, but I'm happy to give this one up.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: No, I don't want the milkshake duck point.

SANDERS: So this whole story would make no sense to anybody, like, 10 years ago. It is entirely a story of the Internet. And I will try to explain. So that tweet comes from Janel Comeau, and she was talking about one of the main characters on Twitter this week. So this comedian/famous person/funny podcaster kind of guy named Jensen Karp, he tweets a picture this week of an open box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and some of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch that come out of the box. And there's also in the midst of the cinnamon toast crunchies, like shrimp tails - shrimp tails. And he's basically, like, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, what's up? This is weird. This is nasty.

So this starts trending on Twitter. And so Cinnamon Toast Crunch tweets back and says, uh-uh, didn't do it. Trust us. We would never. It was not us. Some folks start to dig into the history of Jensen Karp, the cinnamon toast shrimp guy. And it turns out he maybe fabricates stories. This is probably a hoax. And he's been, like, accused of abuse by several women. It was really crazy. What is y'all's take on this story?

LI: It all happened so fast.

GIORGIS: Well, he's married, I believe, to Danielle Fishel, who's the woman who played Topanga on "Boy Meets World," right? That was the first additional detail that I learned.

SANDERS: Yeah.

GIORGIS: And I was, like, OK, this is enough.

LI: Yeah.

GIORGIS: But that reminded me that she had actually recently been in the news for being racist on the set of that show.

SANDERS: Wait. What?

LI: So I guess...

GIORGIS: Yeah. Yeah, yeah yeah.

SANDERS: I didn't know that. Oh, my God. I have to, I guess, explain at this point why in the world the words milkshake and duck are associated...

GIORGIS: Oh, yes.

SANDERS: ...This Cinnamon Toast Crunch shrimp tail story. God, this is so crazy. This whole thing is so bonkers (laughter). But let me try to explain.

The term milkshake duck is an Internet meme and a term used to describe things on the Internet that seem too good to be true. And the term milkshake duck all goes back to a tweet from 2016 in which an account called Pixelatedboat wrote, quote, "The whole Internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes." Five seconds later - "We regret to inform you the duck is racist." It's a lot of wind-up to tell you a story that means absolutely nothing in the real world.

LI: Sam, that's my take on it. Like I'm disheartened to know exactly what that sentence means - you know, what all of this means.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: Correct.

SANDERS: Yes.

LI: And it's just - it's too much, honestly. Like, my take on this is whenever a story like this appears on Twitter, I'm, like, I've already braced myself for it to become a milkshake duck situation. But I feel like milkshake duck isn't even the right term anymore (laughter).

GIORGIS: I don't know. Well, milkshakes are inherently racist in my opinion because it's just too much lactose.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: That's anti-Black, just by virtue of existing.

LI: Oh, my God, Hannah.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: But we still like ducks, right? Are we all still good with ducks?

GIORGIS: We do. Yes, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Ducks are great. Who got that point?

LI: Uh.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: My team says that it goes to Shirley.

LI: Oh, boy.

GIORGIS: All right.

SANDERS: OK, Shirley, you got it. Here's the last quote. Tell me what big chain we're talking about. Here's a quote, "I love that you want to thank people for getting the #COVID19 #vaccine. Every incentive helps, and free donuts may help move the needle...

LI: It's Krispy Kreme.

SANDERS: "...However, donuts are a treat that's not good for health if eaten every day." Yeah, Krispy Kremes. Who said that?

LI: Krispy Kreme. And it was Leana Wen, who is the former president of Planned Parenthood and also the former Baltimore City health commissioner, I believe.

GIORGIS: Dang.

SANDERS: Wow. Look at you knowing your stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: So that quote does, in fact, come from former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen. She was critiquing Krispy Kreme after the doughnut chain announced that it would be giving out a free glazed doughnut to anybody who could prove that they had a COVID-19 vaccination. But this doctor says, no, you shouldn't be having that many doughnuts. It's - and she says that, in fact, if someone ate an original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut every day and changed no other aspects of their diet/exercise, this doctor, Dr. Wen, she says that they would gain approximately 15 pounds by the end of 2021, to which I say, doesn't seem that bad - worth the trade-off.

GIORGIS: Does not.

LI: Yeah. That's just the same thing as a freshman 15.

GIORGIS: Right. And that's making a lot of assumptions about people's commitment to going to get the doughnut every day.

GIORGIS: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Every day (laughter).

LI: Yeah. I think this is when I admit that I've actually never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

GIORGIS: And where I admit that I don't actually like them very much.

SANDERS: Wait. What? Why don't you like them?

GIORGIS: I think they're too sweet. But I say this as a person...

SANDERS: I think you're wrong.

GIORGIS: ...Who doesn't have that much of a sweet tooth.

SANDERS: Wow.

GIORGIS: And I can understand why other people like them. They're just not for me.

SANDERS: I have no idea who actually won this game, but I will say...

GIORGIS: I think it was Shirl (ph).

SANDERS: ...Weird snacks did. OK. Yeah?

GIORGIS: It was a fun game.

(LAUGHTER)

GIORGIS: Lots of food stories.

SANDERS: Well, congrats to Shirley for winning the game. Congrats to you both. To close this segment out, tell folks again who you are, what you do and where they can find you.

LI: Well, I am Shirley Li with The Atlantic's Culture Team, and you can find me on Twitter at @shirklesxp.

GIORGIS: I'm Hannah Giorgis, also a staff writer with the Culture Team at The Atlantic, and I am on Twitter at just my name, @hannahgiorgis.

AUNT BETTY: Now it's time to end the show as we always do. Every week, listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag, and they do. Let's hear a few of those submissions.

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MEG: Hi, Sam. This is Meg (ph) from Cheverly, Md., and the best thing to happen in my week was that my husband became a U.S. citizen.

THOMAS: Hey, Sam. I think the best thing this week so far is that I'm ready for my annual Easter egg event. This is going to be my eighth year painting wooden Easter eggs for my Atlanta community. Whoever finds it in the public spaces, that's theirs.

BRANDON: Hey, Sam. My name is Brandon (ph). I live in Brooklyn. The best thing for me this week has been video chatting with my grandma for the first time in a while. That really made me really happy.

AGATHA: Hi, Sam. This is Agatha (ph) in Denver, Colo. The best thing about my week is that after almost three months of being by myself in Prague doing fertility treatments, I'm finally home to my husband and the best dog ever, Alice (ph). And according to my blood test, I'm pregnant.

ABBY: Hi, Sam.

DAVID: Hi, Sam.

ABBY: This is Abby (ph).

DAVID: And David (ph).

ABBY: From Vergennes, Vt. The best part of our week was getting married and having the virtual wedding celebration of our dreams.

JULIANNA: Hi, Sam. My name's Julianna (ph), and I'm from Massachusetts. And I am going to do something really big today. I'm recording this before I do it. That way, I can make sure I follow through with it. But I'm 27 years old. I have a master's degree and a bachelor's degree. And as of later today, I will be debt-free. I'm going to pay off all my student loans. I've saved up enough money to pay them off, and I'm going to pay off my car. And I'm so excited to not owe anyone money so then I can go looking for a house. Have a great day.

DAVID: We love your show.

ABBY: Thanks, Sam.

MEG: Thanks so much.

BRANDON: Thank you.

SANDERS: Debt-free - congratulations. That is a good, good feeling. All right, thanks to all those listeners you heard there - Julianna, Abby and David, Agatha, Brandon, Thomas (ph) and Meg. I got to say, best part of my week - I think it was Thursday - I had leftover pizza for breakfast, and it was perfect. All right, listeners, don't forget, you can send the best part of your week to us here at the show any time throughout any week. Just record yourself on your phone and send that voice memo to me via email - samsanders@npr.org. Email us at samsanders@npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Want to take some time now and thank some folks who are consistently some of the best parts of my week, the team that makes this show. This week, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Jinae West, Andrea Gutierrez and Sylvie Douglis. Our intern is Liam McBain. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. Our director of programming is Steve Nelson. Our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. Listeners, till next time, be good to yourselves. Maybe have some pizza for breakfast sometime soon. It feels nice. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll talk soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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