Ep. 3: Check In + Lane Check With Ai-jen And Alicia

IG: @aijenp | Twitter: @aijenpoo

IG: @chasinggarza | Twitter: @aliciagarza

Learn:

Read | Ai-jen’s journey organizing for domestic worker’s rights and the women NDWA represents

Read | What makes Alicia hopeful for the future

Watch | Roma, a film that centers the story of Cleo, an indigienous domestic worker in Mexico City

Act:

Donate | Support the Coronavirus Care Fund for in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners who have been severely impacted by the pandemic

Buy | Pre-order Alicia’s upcoming book, The Purpose of Power, from your local independent bookstore

Sign | Take Families Belong Together’s #FreeTheFamilies Pledge as ICE and immigration authorities have proven to be unable and unwilling to prioritize the health and safety of the women, mothers, fathers, children and families that make up the people in their care

Vote:

Read the Black Agenda 2020 and check your voter registration with Alicia’s organization, Black Futures Lab

Transcript

Ai-jen Poo:

Welcome to Sunstorm, where we get real about what’s happening in the world and what we’re doing about it, because we are light in the storm.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Hi, I’m Ai-Jen Poo.

 

Alicia Garza:

And I’m Alicia Garza, and I’m so excited to be back with you, girl.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I know I miss this time together that we had.

 

Alicia Garza:

Me too. Everything has been going on. Everything, everything, everything.

 

Alicia Garza:

Let’s jump in. Let’s talk about what we’ve been up to. I know I missed you. You missed me, even though we like work together.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And we talk everyday.

 

Alicia Garza:

But I missed you here. You know what I mean? And then of course we missed our listeners. So maybe we can do a quick catch up and just let folks know what we’ve been up to.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah. I mean, the world basically imploded. We launched Sunstorm when we thought we were in the biggest storm of our lives.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And at the time we probably were, but I don’t think we ever could have imagined.

 

Alicia Garza:

No.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I mean, this is next level. You can’t even make this up, what’s happening right now.

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah. You really can’t. This is the stuff that dystopian novels are made of, and we’re like living it. And I guess then the hope is that we live through it so that we can talk about how wild it was. Unfortunately, we’re still in it. So right from the center of the storm, we present to you season two of Sunstorm.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Exactly. From the center of the biggest storm ever, here we are.

 

Alicia Garza:

So we’ve been working and we’ve been hustling. Okay, but let’s talk about pandemic real quick because you and I organize caregivers, domestic workers, home health aids, people who care for the people we care for the most. And there is no more important time to give and receive care than in the middle of a public health crisis.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s right.

 

Alicia Garza:

And of course, right? As everything has been thrown into topsy turvy, domestic workers are really the superheroes of this moment. And we’ve been doing a lot of work to make sure that domestic workers are cared for, as they are caring for others, in the midst of many different crises.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Some of our members in March, were really early on, even before I think some of the stay at home orders came down, started to call and say, “We’re losing our jobs. We’re losing our income. What are we going to do? We don’t have money to stock up on groceries.” 82% of domestic workers didn’t have a single paid sick day going into the pandemic.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

So really early on, people were just struggling and dealing with these impossible choices around, “Do I go to work when it’s not safe so that I can put food on the table? Or do I stay at home and not know if I’m going to get evicted or if I’m going to be able to keep paying my phone bill so my kid can do distance learning?” Right?

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And here we are months into it. And we’ve got all these essential workers who’ve just been like holding us up. Women, people of color, disproportionately working in these essential jobs, where they’ve been putting their own safety and health on the line to keep us safe and to keep this country moving.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And you know, a lot of people are clapping for them and calling them heroes. But the truth is is that they still don’t have health care. They still don’t have PPE. They still don’t have hazard pay. And it is rough out there. People are still dying. People are sick, and it’s disproportionately affecting black women, women of color, low wage workers who came into the crisis totally insecure to begin with. And Congress, the House moved and passed a big bill called the Heroes Act, but the Senate has not yet brought it to the table. And so we’re just kind of in a crisis upon crisis upon crisis holding pattern, and we need to do something about it. We really do.

 

Alicia Garza:

Well, part of what we need to do about it is make sure that we have the kind of leadership in this country that can get resources to the right places, that acknowledges who it is that is keeping this country running and functioning every single day. And I think that this pandemic has exposed all of the different webs of connection that exist between us. It really is in times of crisis that you realize how much you depend on others to survive. And it feels like there’s so much possible in terms of change. And we’ve been seeing that change and we’ve been organizing for that change. So, seeing domestic workers and caregivers as essential workers, right?

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Right. Exactly.

 

Alicia Garza:

Just like nurses and doctors and firefighters, right? That’s a huge shift, and there’s more shifts that are possible. And it feels like what makes that possible is the regular participation of everyday people in shaping the ways that our cities and our states and really our country functions, so that we can kind of close these loopholes where people are getting left behind, and we can make sure that people have what they need to live dignified lives.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Exactly. And I think I actually feel more hopeful than ever despite the devastation of this time, because we needed a pretty serious shakeup. The status quo was really broken, and this has been the biggest shakeup imaginable. I wouldn’t wish it on us as a country. And now that it’s happened, this incredible disruption has happened, this is our moment. Where all the things that you named about, what’s been revealed. Everything from how essential so many invisible workers are to how dangerous it is to just be black in America.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

To how universally broken our caregiving system is. Right?

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right. That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I mean, how many calls have you been on with kids crawling all over their parents going insane because they don’t have the support that they need.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And everybody’s just struggling. I think all of this has been revealed, which means that we finally have the kind of consciousness, the popular consciousness we need in this country to move the big shifts forward that we’ve needed to move for a really long time.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And so the potential for real transformation has never been greater.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And it’s not inevitable. It’s really up to us. And that’s why this season of Sunstorm is so important because it’s about each of us figuring out our highest and best way to be a part of bringing in that change in a way that feels really authentic and true to who we are.

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah, and with so much going on, you might be wondering where can I even make the most impact? There’s so many things I care about. Maybe there’s things that I’m being exposed to for the first time. And maybe you’re somebody who is wondering how you get involved from the middle of a public health crisis, the crisis in our democracy, and a crisis in our economy, all the things. So this season is all about finding your lane, knowing that there’s an activist and an organizer inside all of us, but it may not actually look the same for everybody. How do you find your lane, get in it, get comfy in there, and just literally ride it to the wheels fall off. That is the mandate for 2020.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s right. Riding till the wheels fall off. I’m thinking that sometimes finding your lane is planting seeds. I’m not really a gardener, but I wonder if planting your seeds and growing flowers and plants is this way, the way that you and I have done the work over the years is to try to seed the ground for beautiful things to grow and to take root. For real justice, dignity, care, to take root. And it takes a long time. And you don’t always know when the kind of first stem is going to bust through the ground and you just keep watering it and nurturing it and believing in it. And then all of a sudden, there’s this like beautiful Spanish Marigold.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And this also feels like that kind of time too.

 

Alicia Garza:

I can say that one of the things that is also important to kind of catch in there is not everything you plant will grow. So part of the journey is learning about how to sow seeds, learning about how to really get your hands in the dirt. But also there’s a cultivation piece where you have to sometimes be okay with, “This might not work.”

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah.

 

Alicia Garza:

“Or I can’t see it yet, but there’s certainly something under there.” And being specific, I think sometimes in organizing, we plant seeds that we can’t actually imagine what the fruit will be. That’s was true for me, for sure, with black lives matter. We planted a seed seven years ago and imagined this moment, but couldn’t see it and maybe didn’t expect it in this way. I mean, we’ve been through a few rounds of this now. But this one is the largest and it’s the most widespread. Maybe we thought we were planting like a beet. You know what I mean? Like a thing that grows underground, but then the leaves grow up on top and you can eat those too. But really you’re like trying to wait for the beet to grow. And I think what we ended up with, for all your gardeners out there who are listening, it’s like pole beans or like squash, the things that just lik once they go, they go.

 

Alicia Garza:

And all of a sudden you have a lot of harvest. You’re like, “Whoa, what do I do with all these zucchini?”

 

Ai-jen Poo:

A lot of harvest.

 

Alicia Garza:

A lot of harvest.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Sometimes whether or not the seeds grow into a plant has nothing to do with your effort. Sometime the seasons are just really unpredictable, especially with climate change. You just don’t know when you’re going to get a randomly early frost. You keep learning, and you do have control over the lessons that you carry, and the way that you learn and observe and listen and improve the way that you nurture and sow those seeds.

 

Alicia Garza:

Absolutely. Yo could not agree more.

 

Alicia Garza:

Oh, speaking of seeds, I have a book coming out.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s right. I’m obsessed with the cover.

 

Alicia Garza:

Isn’t it so good?

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And then seeing it in German the other day kind of blew my mind.

 

Alicia Garza:

Right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

The book is going to be in dozens of countries all over the world. I mean, it’s going to be a global sensation. It’s called The Purpose of Power. And it’s incredible. I literally cried for most of it.

 

Alicia Garza:

Oh, my gosh.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Because I’m so proud of you.

 

Alicia Garza:

Oh, my gosh.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It’s such an important book. It’s going to be a game changer for so many people. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the world to experience this. It’s amazing.

 

Alicia Garza:

Me neither. And this is another example of a labor of love that I wasn’t sure was going to grow. I was like halfway through it, and my mom died, and I was like, “How can I even finish this project right now? I have so many other things that I need to focus on.” But we finished it and we made it happen. And not only is it out here, but it’s going to be out in five other countries. We’re doing an audio book and it’s going to be fantastic. And it is coming out at the right time.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Exactly. Yeah. So what is this book about?

 

Alicia Garza:

So the book is called The Purpose of Power, How We Come Together When We Fall Apart. And it is all about building movements that last. It’s about finding your lane. Learning old lessons so that we can make new mistakes. And it’s about being a compass to how we create the kind of change that we want to see. First starting with ourselves. And then extending outwards.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It is a lot about finding your lane actually. It’s perfectly timed.

 

Alicia Garza:

Well, thanks boo.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Because no matter what happens in November, we’re going to need our lanes. I actually think that the book is going to be a really helpful compass, a really helpful guide, for those of us who are deeply committed to our dreams for this country and our future. I just think a lot about how much it’s in all of us, the fact that we’re on the brink of the most important election of our lifetime.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And you know, I think we’re all going to need to do what we got to do in November. Get to the polls, get our friends to the polls, and make it happen.

 

Alicia Garza:

Speaking of that voting thing, baby, I’m like, what do we need to do to get every single person possible? Like I want to see like Beyonce long lines, you know what I’m saying?

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Exactly.

 

Alicia Garza:

Physically distanced and everything, because they messing with the mail right now. So we got to have backups. I really saw this thing this morning where folks are talking about, “We should have curbside voting.” I was like, “Yes, we should.”

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Oh, I like that. I like that.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s good, right?

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah. If we can have curbside pick up for everything else, we can definitely vote curbside. Yeah.

 

Alicia Garza:

Okay. That’s what I’m talking about. Like the Cha Cha slide.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah. Exactly.

 

Alicia Garza:

Hop to the left. Slide to the right. Everybody vote today.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Wow. Where did that come from? That was amazing.

 

Alicia Garza:

I’m going to make up a voting Cha Cha Slide.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Oh yes, it should be on Tik Tok.

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s make it go viral, baby.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah. And to all of you listeners, write us, Tweet us. Tell us about how you are making your way through the storm. Follow us @sunstormpod on social media and Tweet us @aijenpoo and @aliciagarza, hashtag sunstorm. And tell all your friends. We can’t wait to hear from you. Until next week.

 

Alicia Garza:

Sunstorm is a project of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Sunstorm is executive produced by Alicia Garza, Ai-jen Poo and Kristina Mevs-Apgar. Sunstorm is produced by Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer of The Mash-Up Americans. Producers are Shelby Sandlin, Mary Phillips-Sandy and Mia Warren. Original music composed by Jen Kwok and Jody Shelton.

 

Alicia Garza:

He’s a dog. And he’s really fucking cute, but like, that’s it. He don’t talk, he don’t pay rent, he don’t clean, he don’t pay the bills.