Season 2 of The Resistbot Podcast, hosted by Melanie Dione, features a different interview every week with an organizer working to create change in their community. We aim to elevate voices without a large platform, focusing on their stories. Our pod is brought to you by the same volunteers behind the Resistbot (https://resist.bot) chatbot that's driven over 30 million pieces of correspondence to elected officials since 2017. If you haven't given it a try, pull out your phone and text the word "resist" to the number 50409 to get started. You can text officials from your Mayor to the President, check your voter registration, start your own campaigns, and much more!
Melanie: Welcome to The Resist bot
Podcast, hosted by me, Melanie Dione.
Join me this week and every week
as I chat with the advocates and
activists in your neighborhood at the
intersection where policy meets people.
Now, let's start the show.
Welcome back to the Resist by Podcast.
I am your host, Melanie Dione.
Glad to be here with you again this week.
Last summer, I had the privilege of
hosting a panel at the Bow and Flow Beer
Festival on behalf of Re Resist Bot, and
we talked about culture as resistance.
And the panel consisted of some
amazing artists and creatives
who had used their craft.
To push back against injustice, to push
back against marginalization, because
at the heart and soul of every movement,
Lies the spirit of creativity and it's
usually the voices of creatives that
push those, those movements, those
causes into the collective consciousness.
So we cannot discount the contributions
of those who don't necessarily have
the traditional organizer's skillset.
Sometimes you see something and
you work with the tools and the
talents that you have, and that
is what this week's guest does.
Personal friend of mine,
we actually work together.
On some more lighthearted podcasts, but he
also takes on topics such as menstruation.
On his podcast period piece where he
removes the stigma and shame about
conversations around menstruation.
We also have a podcast together that
we do the Bad Advice Show, as well as
that other thing, or we talk about,
among other things, mental health.
And he also has one of my favorite live
shows, drunk Black History, where he
pushes back against anything that stands
in the weight of discussing race in this.
Critically, please welcome
my friend, Gordon Baker Bone.
Gordon: it going?
That's a long, long
list, but I'm happy to be
Melanie: able to do all that.
You do a lot of stuff.
I feel like your town crier right now.
I'm like, my friend is accomplished.
So let's start.
I always like to talk to organizers
and begin at the beginning, right?
So you're a funny guy, Uhhuh.
And you use your comedy
for social commentary.
Can you talk a bit about what
moved you from going to just being
funny to using your voice in.
Gordon: I guess time and maturity.
Uh, when I first started comedy, I just
thought it was all just jokes about myself
and family, but then more and more I found
myself commenting about the society around
me and taking a lot of deep observations
and the world around me and speaking on
that, and I believe it, uh, gave me a
better viewpoint and made me a better
So when we talk about that, okay.
We've, we've gone from the, the social
commentary part of it, and then you took
it a bit further with Drunk Black History.
Can you talk about how you've
turned this social event this
night out into an education?
Gordon: Basically, uh, Mary
Poppin's Spoonful of Sugar Theory.
You realize that critical race theory,
c r t as some states call it, and
some politicians may cower from, uh,
is a hot button issue that they think
is a terrible thing, but you mix it
with a couple of drinks and it turns
into a fun event where people are.
Able to talk and learn
from a sensitive subject.
I, I think that's a, a thing that a
lot of people in politics and, and
many fields shy away from trying
to make something lighthearted
and bring levity to a taboo topic.
Melanie: And you cover a broad spectrum
of topics you've taken on plantation
weddings and haunted plantations.
You've also discussed
queer ballroom culture.
When you look at that broad landscape,
because your, your audience is very
diverse, so what is it like when you are
talking to non-black people and realize
that they messed around and learned?
Is there a backlash?
What is the response like?
It is a,
Gordon: it's a weird response.
Cause the, the sole goal of Drunk Black
history was to educate people about
historical black figures in American
culture and worldwide that schools in
American won't normally teach you about.
Cause every February we
get the same curriculum.
We learn about Dr.
Kane, Muhammad Ali, maybe Malcolm
X if your school is really
spicy, but then we just move.
This is solely to get away from that.
And like once you get away from
that, a lot of people have a
little bit of confusion and
denial, I think is the best word.
They're just like, well, I don't
want to be part of the problem
and I didn't know any of this.
And it's not as scary as C R T
or Critical Race Theory is not as
scary as people make it out to be.
It's actually just history.
It's a confusing time
Melanie: for them because when you
look at that, like, I mean, obviously
nobody wants to be the bad guy.
And there's a resistance to things
like c r t because then you have to
discuss that, you know, America is
a cake and the bad guys baked it.
So chances are, you know, these
things are beyond your control,
but you still benefit from them.
And having that, those
conversations are important.
Gordon: a lot of people have
a problem with when they.
How the history that they're learning,
how they benefited from that history,
how certain things came into play.
Cause I've, I've had people come and
witness the, uh, black National anthem and
they go, I've never heard of that before.
I haven't not heard of like, oh,
it's cause you don't go to school
with a lot of, uh, minorities.
And if you did, for some reason, they
felt it, uh, felt a reason not to share.
And I wonder why.
So do they have to question themselves
and the community that they were reared
It's super important work and
something that I really appreciate.
So this week we are going to talk
about the history of the future,
and that is, Current events, uh,
because there are a lot of things
coming at us from varying spaces.
It's not the, it's, it's
impossible to focus on one thing.
It literally feels like a hydra head.
So this week we're gonna talk about a
few things that are happening currently
that can get folks engaged where we
need your voices, we need your help.
I wanna start with some of the, Ongoing
topics that if you've listened to the
morning mug, if you've listened to earlier
episodes, we've talked about these, but
these petitions are really important.
Of course, there is the fight
for medication abortion.
So we have a petition for that I'm
leading out right now with the petition.
We know what has, what has happened.
Uh, we, we have our eye on Texas
to see what happens next with Mifa
Preston, and there's also a petition.
President Biden, we need you to
fight for medication abortion.
And the call sign is P
w R W D G, second up.
Also, bodily autonomy.
These are things that, again, are going
to be covered in the history books because
this is a, a huge cultural shift, the way
trans people are being treated currently.
We wanna make sure that we're on the
right side of history on this, and
that's to make sure that trans folks.
The same protections that everyone has.
So that petition, stop the attack on
trans people and pass the equality act.
Now the call sign for that is P T F E X R.
We, not too long ago had an episode,
our earlier episode with Aaron Reed
of the Erin in the Morning newsletter.
Highly recommend keeping up
to date with her newsletter.
She has her finger on the pulse.
All things anti-trans legislation and her
newsletter is Erin in the morning.dot com.
So Gordon, I also wanna talk about
one of your besties, your face.
We've got one of your favorite
people in the news Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Gordon: our forgotten bad uncle.
Melanie: Doing Supreme Court
Justice, Clarence Thomas things.
So he was recently the subject
of a ProPublica investigative
news article talking about these
lavish gifts he's been collecting
from or receiving over the years.
From Harlan Crow who apparently
collects fascist memorabilia.
When we talk about ethics in the Supreme
Court, Clarence Thomas kind of spoke
on his own ethics and it was basically,
I didn't know I couldn't do that.
And even if I couldn't, yes, I could.
Gordon: it, it brings up
that popular question.
Who governs the ones that govern?
Melanie: And when we look at ethics
in the Supreme Court, there is not a
normal protocol for this type of thing.
You know, there's there, the,
the ethics that some other judges
have, they do not have that.
Why would they,
Gordon: uh, why would they have
a similar ethics to everyone?
Why, why would that be
Melanie: conducive with
their lifetime appointments?
Why would we need ethics for that?
And so right now what Congress
is doing is calling for Chief
Justice Roberts to investigate.
But people are also
Gordon: of like drunk black history
and certain historical figures,
only being told Clarence Thomas, if
you look at his line of work, they
make him just sound like a decorated
individual, which he is, but it
comes with a little bit of a troubled
Yeah, a lot of shadiness and the
wild thing is that even if you know,
kind of the, the surface background
on him, it's still pretty terrible.
It's still pretty terrible
and a deep dive is worse.
And while we have older
petitions that are seeking out.
For example, we do have a, a petition from
a few months ago past HR 7 67, the Supreme
Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency
Act that has a call sign of P K P A Q H.
It doesn't necessarily directly address,
obviously, it doesn't directly address
Clarence Thomas, but this is something
that we need for the Supreme Court
across the board, like there needs to.
Yeah, there's a lot of, I mean,
we're looking at a lot of issues of
government overreach, for example.
Like when we see it, we see
it in the judiciary, right?
Gordon: We definitely see it in
the judiciary because that's the
ultimate goal, is to make something
that someone feels should be a law.
There's no more ultimate power into saying
someone is legally prohibited from doing.
Melanie: And we look,
we see it so many times.
I mean that was the important
thing when we saw Trump, you know,
appointing judges like hot cakes.
There was a reason for that.
The judge who has pistone in
jeopardy, that's a Trump appointee.
And I don't know if you read the
opinion, but it's terrifying.
And that's something that, you know, we,
we have to address, especially when we're
looking at these lifetime appointments,
because he is also a federal.
Appointed until the good Lord says Amen.
And that should concern all of us.
Is that the only job that's
Gordon: a lifetime appointment?
Like I can't think of anything
else that you get to have a
heavily weighed position on
Melanie: for a lifetime.
I think when it comes down to
government, judges are the few.
I feel like everyone else is subject
to a little more, but that's us.
Uh, struggling in public sometimes
learning in public, in our government.
Most appointments are not
Most, most positions you're elected in.
And you either have to continue
to run or you have term limits.
Or slash and or you have term limits.
Oh my God.
Gordon: We need more term
limits, in my opinion.
But you know, that's just
Melanie: my opinion.
Oh my, my, my personal opinion
is definitely that nothing
should be a lifetime appointment.
Gordon: getting back to Clarence
Thomas, like things like his wife
running around on January 6th,
Melanie: recusing himself.
It's not just one thing.
This is a, this is a pattern and the
thing about it is if there's a pattern
and he is comfortable enough to operate
with this fairly open, We have to look
at the court as a whole and see if this
is a cultural issue, which is why we need
ethics requirements for the Supreme Court.
Other people overreaching
the legislature, everybody.
Everybody is just putting a little bit
too much dip on that chip right now.
A lot of our eyes are on t.
Of course, after the tragic school
shooting, students have had enough
parents, have had enough people
with common sense, have had.
And they protested in Congress
as is the custom in this country.
Gordon: What's, uh,
happening in Tennessee?
I, I wanna say it's bittersweet because
honestly, seeing that so many children
have to come to the aid of, of this reform
is, is startling, but it's also refreshing
Melanie: at the same time.
And the part that angers me is
these young people have to speak up
because the adults are not being.
We're looking at an unprecedented,
youthful voting block, and it's
basically because they do not feel
comfortable trusting the adults.
I mean, would you trust
the adults at this point?
When the adults aren't being adult?
It makes it very, it makes it very
difficult when we stay out loud
that we're okay with sacrificing
the lives of our children for the
right to have these dangerous guns
that are typically unnecessary.
Reasons that one would need that
type of gun at all is very narrow.
They're very narrow, and the fact is,
even if you look past a ban, these
people don't want any regulations they're
against to background checks, which.
Is something that could have helped when
we just had a recent, a recent shooting.
We've had a lot of shootings where
we can look at just the fact that
simple background checks would help.
We've had shootings in issues of intimate
partner violence where background checks.
Would have helped.
And it's the basic things that would
save lives they do not want to budge on.
And it clogs up the conversation
to the point that they expelled
two members of the Tennessee House
for joining a peaceful protest.
Something that protests
the foundation of America.
America was found.
On protests and there were three
house members who participated.
Justin Jones, Justin
Pearson, and Gloria Johnson.
The two Justins are black and
Gloria Johnson is an older
white retired school teacher.
And what do you know?
The only ones who were actually
expelled were the young black men.
They're also young congressmen.
This is what we're looking at.
It's not even a matter of the
quiet part being said loud.
They're not quietly.
What they want with guns.
They're not quietly saying
that there's a racial.
Gordon: I just find it funny
that I'm saying that face.
I find it funny that they said that it
is not a racial issue and it clearly
that race didn't even play a part.
But when you look at it from any angle
and you see who was suspended and who
wasn't suspended, From protesting.
You clearly see that that was a blatant
And Tennessee's reputation when it comes
to any sort of equity and equality is
raggedy because while this, the expelled
congressmen are on the national stage
right now, and right now, uh, Justin
Jones has already been reinstated,
Shelby County is gonna be voting on we.
Wednesday, April 12th, uh, to on
whether or not they'll be reinstating
Justin Pearson, we're looking at that.
But then there's an, an entirely different
scenario running behind the scenes in
Tennessee where they are exploiting
black residents in the towns near Blue
Oval City, which is a development,
uh, Fort Motor Company development.
Um, so last year for those of us, for,
for our longtime listeners, we talked
about what happened in Mason last year.
Tennessee Comptroller, Jason Mum.
Basically took over the city from
black leadership citing corruption, not
citing the fact that the corruption,
the, the newer black leadership was
replacing corrupt white leadership.
However, the conversation has
been, the belief has been, this
is related to this predominantly
black town being in close proximity.
To this development.
That is going to be a huge, huge
thing for that area as far as jobs,
opportunity, business development.
Now we're looking at black farmers.
And hose is a very polite way
of saying what's being uh, done.
To these small business owners
and, uh, just agricultural
Well, right now what's happening
to these farmers is they are
assuming portions of their land.
So they're taking portions of certain,
of farmland from these farmers.
There's one, uh, gentleman
who has 14 acres.
They are demanding 10
for an absurdly low cost.
Usually we're, we're looking
at usually $10,000 per acre.
I think they said right now
the states offer 37 50 an acre.
Gordon: absurdly low is a, again,
a polite way of putting it.
And just to go back to the critical
race theory and drunk black history,
if you look at how black farmers have
been treated in this country, Throughout
history, it's never been a fair shape.
It is it manifest destiny or when,
when they were giving out farmlands
or land going west and how, uh,
proportioned it was given out to white
farmers as opposed to black farmers.
It's been a serious issue in this country
for years, decades, and nothing seems that
have changed besides the administration.
Melanie: The farther we get
from black agricultural workers
being forced to work for free.
The more the number of black farmers drop.
So we are, you know, in the double
digits when it comes to population,
but about 1%, maybe 1.4% current
farmers in this country are.
And the number continues to decline.
Gordon: insane to, to, to hear that and
to know what I know about, like, the
history of black farmers and that hidden
valley, the rain sauce that America loves.
Was invented by a black farmer.
And to think maybe if we gave more
black farmers land and opportunities
like that, who knows the type of
condiments that we would have.
Not only would we have ranch,
we would've other things too.
But you know,
Melanie: the truth, the truth of
my God, you being robbed a mustard.
Um, but the, the truth of the matter is
it's been these, the systematic function.
Of racism, of capitalism to keep
certain folks on the top and to
keep the bottom on the bottom.
And that always, always, it
always finds a way to be racist.
Gordon: I don't know if it finds
a way or it, it's inherently,
Melanie: I mean, that's the thing.
It's the like, I mean, this
is the cake that racism baked.
When, whenever we talk about this
experiment, this American experi.
Racism is sewn in the fabric.
It's baked in the cake, planted in
the soil, like whatever, allegory,
whatever, uh, similarly metaphor you
wanna use, racism is right there.
Just ready to pop out and there.
So it does, you know, going back
to your point of injecting these
conversations, there's a purpose of
keeping it as a hidden conversation.
And there is a need to
continue to push back.
Yeah, I just
Gordon: wish more, uh, black farmers
or people were aware of the issue of
what's going on with the agriculture,
uh, industry in this country because
it's a, it's a pivotal part of our
economy and a way for what we love
to, to brag about small business
owners having an opportunity.
And here we are, our government
forcefully forcing small business
owners to sell for below its.
Melanie: It's very necessary for us
to not only have more agricultural
workers, but to have agricultural
workers who are not white.
The percentage of agricultural workers
should represent the percentage of
people that live in this country.
Yes, opportunity should
So when we have conversations, there are
so many conversations and so many bills
that we want furthered for agriculture,
but we also have to look at those bills
and make sure that we are pushing for.
Equity, particularly when we're
talking about people who for years
sustained the agricultural, the
agriculture in this nation for free.
This is not a giving, this is something
that is quite frankly, an entitlement.
You should be compensated
for what you work for.
You should see the value of your
hard work, and that includes those
families who for centuries were.
And continue to be exploited.
The descendants continue
to be exploited and even
Gordon: today being exploited.
So yeah, I'm happy that there's, uh,
places that people can voice the issues
of, with things like this where we can
discuss what's happening in Tennessee
and what's happening with farmers,
because I feel like not enough people,
uh, know or have access to the inform.
Melanie: And as we move on down the
line, in the third branch of overreach,
the executive branch, one of the huge
ways that people have mobilized, have
organized, have spread messages, have
raised awareness, is social media.
And nothing has been doing
it like TikTok, TikTok.
Everywhere your grandma is on
TikTok, your little, you know,
little toddlers on TikTok.
This has been something that has
really been not only a means of people
being silly, people sharing, you know,
slice of life, everyday slice of life
videos, but a way a, a very intense.
Organizing, IM mobilization tool,
particularly among marginalized people.
And right now we are
looking at the restrict act.
Yes, we are staring down the barrel.
Have you, have you read that scary thing?
Gordon: I have not read the entire
RESTRICT Act, but I have learned
more and more about it through,
ironically, through TikTok.
Melanie: This what's going to happen
with the Restrict Act, it would give the
executive branch, it really heightens the.
For executive overreach to make these
decisions that when you have the
conversation and call it a TikTok
band, you make it sound reductive.
You make it sound immature, and people are
more like, oh, I don't like TikTok anyway.
But this is not something that is
going, it is not just a TikTok band.
I, we, I'm gonna share the entire
act in the, all the entire language
or the act in the show notes.
I highly recommend everybody read it
or read as much of it as possible.
Or if it makes you go across side,
I highly recommend that you read the
CliffNotes on it because these are those
free speech rights that we talk about.
They jeopardize those.
There is a.
Reason that information is basically gold,
especially when we talk about, you know,
matters of rights, political matters.
When we talk about social justice,
whoever has the information, whoever
makes the most compelling argument
gets it and truth gets fuzzy.
It's amazing that they questioned the
owner of TikTok for five hours, five
Melanie: and a half hours.
Am I correct?
It was about five and a half hours.
And it was painful.
It was painful because there were
people, it was so out of touch.
There were questions like, does TikTok
access your wifi network questions?
That indicated that the people who were
asking the questions had not done their
homework, have not done their homework.
Gordon: It, it, it resembled explaining to
someone that's elderly in your family how
to work the cable network or how to work
Oh my goodness.
Once upon a time in another life, I was a
customer service representative for a bank
in the early stages of online banking.
And trying to convince seniors A, that
this is something that you can slash
should use and walking them through
it was less painful than that hearing.
And I did that for about eight
hours a day for two years.
We have to make space for the realization
that some of this is just meant to
cloud the cloud, the conversation.
And run around in circles.
But from your standpoint, as a
creative, as someone who uses.
Can you, can you speak a bit to how social
media, things like TikTok, especially like
we're just coming out of a pandemic and
just like social me, uh, just like TikTok
was a great tool for misinformation.
It was a great tool for information, but
a lot of creatives latched onto that.
Can you talk about the impact that that
has for not only comedians, but also
comedians that may not necessarily be
on the traditional track, comedians
who may be disabled, things like that.
Can you talk a little bit?
How TikTok during that time
was beneficial for you?
Gordon: gave us a, uh, new outlet
for expanding our content, our art,
our work, and a TikTok man will
limit not only our voice, not only
our content, our art, and many other
things, a way that we can provide for
ourselves and to expand our stages and.
That's something that is terrifying, that
the same senators and politicians that
harp the necessity for free speech and
the right that every American has for the
First Amendment is going to be kind of.
Making a ban on an app, which
is a app that, uh, impedes on
a First Amendment right, that
Melanie: they fight so hard for it
and it won't just affect that app.
Like when we look at it, this is going
to be, this is something that will
shape how we engage social media.
This is something that is going
to shape how we get information
that we are told we can.
And there's a reason.
There is a reason that we have
three branches of government
and checks and balances.
There is a reason that
we have free speech.
There is a reason that there are certain
tenets of media that are protected.
And when you almost unilaterally put
what is good and what's not good in
the hands of one branch of the go.
On an uneven scale that is incredibly
dangerous, and it also serves to further
minimize, minimize marginalized voices.
The playing field is
becoming increasingly uneven.
Whoever has the goal dictates the
conversation on social media now.
And so having to contend with that
and contend with messaging being
throttled or contin or, or contend with
messages being just completely erase.
The dog and pony show on, you know,
what they're doing in China is literally
just that, it's literally just a dog and
pony show because you're still putting
this information in the hands of the
government and taking it outside of the
hands of folks of, of regular people.
Of, of citizens.
It's the same thing that I've seen America
criticize other countries for doing,
for limiting their citizen's voice.
And now here we are seemingly
attempting to do the same.
Melanie: I mean, when we look
at it between this and and book
bands and not being able to just
flat out teach certain subjects.
It's, it's very similar,
like on a, on a larger scale.
It's very similar to that.
That same trick, the G O P
pulls all the time, right?
They're pointing their finger
out what this person is gonna do,
the meantime they're using the
other hand to do that exact thing.
So if you want to support,
and I know Gordon is gonna
wanna support this petition.
I got one.
I got you here because this one is for.
We have a petition, vote no on Data
Act and restrict Act, P U E R D B.
You just have to text that.
Call signed to five zero four
zero nine and make sure that
you support the continuation.
A free speech.
It's kinda all we got.
And I commend you guys on being able
to have a platform that shows people
a way that they can do something.
Cause I know the, the question's
always, what can I do?
How can I help?
And not get in the way or just
do the, the, at least the.
To try to help.
And you guys provide a
platform that actually provides
that for people, which is
Melanie: amazing and makes it accessible.
And sometimes people, I think,
get caught up in, if I can't do
a big act, I, it's, it's just as
well that I don't do anything.
And that's not how this works.
It isn't a zero sum game.
It takes all of it.
It takes all of us when we think.
Supporting trans people.
When we think about supporting black
farmers, we're talking about very
small percentages of the population.
If they're the only ones raising their
voice, if they're the only ones push
pushing back on Congress, it's very
easy to get ignored, and that's why
we have to step up collaboratively
with these communities and make.
The work of equity goes across
the board for all of us.
One of the things that we are doing to
help baby organizers, cuz we've seen
during the time of the Resist by podcast,
you have heard from organizers in various.
Points of their journey.
Big organizers, small organizers,
people who are just getting started,
people who have been in the game for
decades, and they all typically have
the same origin story of, I was just
doing this, but I felt like it wasn't
enough, so I did this next thing.
And talking about how that.
Gordon Baker Bone.
Gordon: Thank you for having me.
This has been more fun than I
anticipated and more educational than,
well, I knew it was gonna be this
way, but I'm excited to be a part
Melanie: of it.
Well, you know, we always do a little
bit, we talk a little bit, we learn
a little bit, and I appreciate you.
I appreciate the work that you and Brandon
are doing with Drunk Black History.
Can you tell the folks where they can
find you and how they can support.
Gordon: can find me at Baker Bone on
Instagram and twitter baker bone.com.
And for those that's interested
in learning critical race
theory in a fun way, I highly
recommend Drunk Black History.
Drunk black history.com.
You can see our upcoming shows.
Our next one is June 18th,
So we'll be in Brooklyn,
New York at the Bellhouse.
And we're doing a special brunch
show where we're doing, talking
about critical race theory, black
history, and doing it while drinking
mimosas the most elegant way to do
I think that's how I always wanna
talk about black history now.
Maybe with a parasol.
I think that, I think that's
the best way to do it.
I wanna thank you so much for joining us.
I wanna thank all of you for listening,
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