Manage episode 293026466 series 121090
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A’shanti Gholar (Emerge)
Jennifer Carroll Foy (Twitter)
Anne Helen Petersen (Twitter)
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:00:00] Because I can tell you if it wasn't for amazing organizations like Emerge, I wouldn't be here today in a position that I am running for governor and, you know, hearing the same conversations about electability and, you know, having our experience, you know, questioned and our credentials undermined. It is truly unfortunate.
And so it's about time other people acknowledge our power and it's wonderful organizations like Emerge who help us we'll date and be able to use it as a tool to be able to get in positions of power because in the words of former Supreme court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we deserve. To be where all the decisions are being made.
Sarah: This is Sarah
Beth: And Beth.
Sarah: You're listening to Pantsuit Politics.
Beth: The home of grace-filled political conversations.
Sarah: [00:01:11] Hello, welcome to another episode of Pantsuit Politics on today's show. We're going to share our conversation with A’shanti Gholar, the president of Emerge and Jennifer Carroll Foy, an Emerge graduate, and former member of the Virginia House of delegates and current candidate for governor of Virginia, about her run.
In the main segment of the show, we couldn't wait to share this conversation we had with Anne Helen Petersen with all of you. We talked about childcare with her for our upcoming infrastructure series this summer but we also had a conversation where we talked about the politics of teacher appreciation week and we just had to share it with all of you. So that's in the main segment and as always, we'll end the show by talking about what's on our mind outside of politics.
Beth: [00:01:48] As we start to jump into this episode, I just wanted to express that we are thinking about all of you living in the Gulf coast region who have experienced dangerous flash flooding and power outages. This week, there've been several deaths and just, [00:02:00] just thinking about all of you as we get into that kind of weather and the damages that last for long periods of time after.
Sarah: [00:02:07] Okay, so first up we are going to share our conversation with A’shanti Gholar and Jennifer Carroll Foy. As an Emerge graduate, I am so thrilled to share this conversation with all of you with A’shanti Gholar, who is the president of Emerge, which is a trainee program for democratic women, considering public office and Jennifer Carroll Foy, who we've had on the show before, when she was newly elected to the Virginia House of delegates and now that she's running for governor, we knew we wanted to have her back on the show, and we're excited to share this conversation with all of you.
Jennifer, tell us about the decision to leave the house of delegates to run for governor cause I feel like that's a little out of the ordinary. Most people just want to do all the things and I think that your decision to prioritize is not only [00:03:00] fascinating, but truly important for this moment in American history.
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:03:03] Yeah, absolutely. So thank you so much. Honored to be here with you all, uh, first and foremost. And so I have to say that resigning my seat in the house of delegates was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. You know, I worked very hard to be able to win that seat in the first place. I was running while being pregnant with twins.
Sarah: [00:03:21] I tell that story all the time. I'll talk about you. You're like in my ear, like in my standard play of stories, I'm like, well, let me tell you about this delicate we met in Virginia.
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:03:30] Yeah. Like you want to talk hard? Let me tell you hard. Yes, that's right and then I'm flipping a seat from red to blue, being outraced four to one, it was a challenge. It was very difficult and even though I knew I would be outraged, I knew I would never be outworked. So, you know, being the voice for the people in the second district was the honor of a lifetime. We got some great things done. I was able to clean up toxic coal ash, where people in my district were being poisoned from the top fossil fuel company in Virginia that was seeping lead, arsenic and mercury into their [00:04:00] well drinking water. Made Virginia the 38th States tie women's equality into the United States constitution.
So we got some great things done, but at the end of the day, I didn't want to have one foot in one foot out. I wanted to give everything I had to running and winning this office to become the next governor of Virginia. So it was not only tradition because great women like Stacey Abrams did the same thing. She resigned her seat as minority leader in the state assembly right before her primary election, because she knew she needed to be all in as well running, as she won that primary. Um, and many other people throughout the country have done the same, but I can tell you, it was also the best decision for my family.
You know, I'm a mom of two three-year-olds. Um, I have a whole husband and I'm still working, right and it is all encompassing. And I can tell you that, you know, I want it to be sure that I gave it my all because Virginians deserve it and, um, it was one of the best decisions I made, because I can tell you, I would not be a top [00:05:00] two contender running for governor here in Virginia if I would not have resigned.
Beth: [00:05:03] A'Shanti I want to ask you, we've had the privilege of speaking with you before about Emerges efforts to recruit women to run for office. I feel like a lot of our conversations in the past have been focused around women running as legislators and I'm interested in your perspective on more women in the executive branch, in executive positions across the country.
A’shanti Gholar: [00:05:22] Yes. Well, I am so glad to be back talking to everyone and I'm excited to talk about women in executive positions because we are recording this on the night of the first state of the union and we're going to see our first woman of color, our first woman president and that is what we're talking about when we want to have women in executive positions but even when we talk about the trajectory of vice president Harris, ehe started at the local level and then she was at the state level and now she's in the executive position and for most women, that is how it goes.
[00:06:00] But we also can't negate the fact that those state and local positions are so important because at the biggest impact on everyone's everyday lives. JCF was just so effective and the house of delegates with what she was able to do, but this is the path. This is what we should be seeing. The fact that because we have more women running, they are running for higher office and we talked about that at Emerge.
We don't believe in that you have to bloom where you're planted. There's a lot of women who do say in the same position and they're highly effective and we love it. But we know that they can run it for higher positions and be extremely effective and as we have more women running for higher positions, one of the things I find myself saying a lot is we know that when women run, especially the first time, men will be like, Oh, you can't win, you're enough viable. And then they win and they want to run for higher office and [00:07:00] then the men are like, But you're doing such a good job here. Why can't you just, you know, you got so much more to do. They continually want to hold us back where ever we are.
So it makes me so happy when I see JCF running for governor, when I'm seeing our alumns who are running for other executive positions. We have four alumns right now that are secretaries of state which is very important when we're talking about everything that's happening around voting rights. Again, 520,000 elected offices in this country, women, 51% of the population, we don't hold 51% of those offices.
Sarah: [00:07:41] Right.
A’shanti Gholar: [00:07:41] So it has to not only be about just running at the local, we have to have these influential executive positions, especially for women of color, like JCF. I say all the time, I'm a JCF stan, I'm a Stacey Abrams Stan, but it, [00:08:00] Stacey wasn't able to be the first, I want JCF to be the first because this country absolutely needs Black women as governors and I live in Virginia and I want to have JCF not only as my governor, but the first Black woman governor in this country.
Sarah: [00:08:16] Yeah. Let's talk about that run for governor, because I think there's so many layers of this. I think that the first Black woman governor, so unbelievably important, your experience as just as a legislator in the house of delegates and what you accomplished there and also, I just think you have so many components of your personal story that are relevant and engaging to people. So tell us about why you decided to run and why you think that you're the best candidate.
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:08:43] Absolutely. I'd be happy to. So I can tell you that, you know, my race for governor didn't begin recently, it began a long time ago growing up in Petersburg, Virginia. And Petersburg was once an affluent and a well to do predominantly African-American community [00:09:00] but when businesses closed jobs left and despair crept in, and there's just so many possibilities and potentials for my hometown. But unfortunately politicians of the past have made so many false promises and they'll come around during campaign season, but I can tell you what I've seen and what I've heard in my travels. That there are so many communities just like Petersburg all over Virginia and we have one of the highest growing racial wealth gaps, child poverty has increased. And some of our schools are just as underfunded and segregated today as they weren't in 1950s and sixties.
So while the wealthy and well-connected are doing very well in Virginia, what about everyone else? And so I've dedicated my entire life to public service. As a former public defender, helping poor Virginians navigate a broken criminal justice system, as a foster mom for eight years and as a community organizer, registering people to vote and restoring others' rights. Because of a [00:10:00] mistake that was made no one should be relegated to second class citizenship for the rest of their lives and Virginia is one of only two States that does that. So I can tell you that I am in this to ensure that we move all communities in Virginia for, and not just some.
And so I'll never forget, you know, at a young age, being in Petersburg and being raised by my grandparents, but my grandmother had a stroke and became a quadriplegic and having to sit at my dining room table with my aunt, trying to decide if we're going to pay for our mortgage that month or for the medications keeping my grandmother alive. That is the moment my journey for governor began. The minute I realized that so many of us have just been totally ignored and Virginians are hurting, virginians are dying, and it's about time that we have someone who give a voice to the voiceless and stand up to, or communities who have been completely discarded and now is definitely our time.
Beth: [00:10:57] What have you learned from serving in the house of [00:11:00] delegates that you didn't know going in? You have all this experience in government and public service, what was surprising to you during your term? And A’shanti I'd love to hear your kind of macro vision of that too. What do you hear from Emerge alums once they get elected that is surprising to them as they're serving?
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:11:15] Yeah, so I can say two things. First, when I was elected, I thought that I could just carry the most amazing bills that's going to uplift so many Virginians and it'll just pass automatically and that is definitely not true. Being effective is about two things. It's about respect and it's about relationships and if you don't have those two things and you are pretty much ineffective and can't get things done and we can get things done. Like I like to remind people that we passed Medicaid expansion, uh, giving 500,000 Virginians affordable quality healthcare and that was under a Republican controlled general assembly, so you can get things done, but you got to know how to do it.
And being one of the first women to ever graduate from Virginia military Institute, one of the top military colleges in this country gave me the tools I [00:12:00] needed to teach me that my job is to get the job done, no matter if people have a D,I, or R beside their name and so that's how I've been able to be effective as a legislator and now will be effective as a governor as well.
So I could tell you that that's one of the things I learned, and I just want to piggyback on what A’shanti said, because I can tell you if it wasn't for amazing organizations like Emerge, I wouldn't be here today in a position that I am running for governor and you know, hearing the same conversations about electability and, you know, having our experience, you know, questioned and our credentials undermined um, it is truly unfortunate, but people believe that equality is oppression, but that's privilege that they're coming from because you know, we are over 50% of the population and I tell you that we are forced to be reckoned with.
You know, women, we are predominant caregivers of our parents, of our families, but we are also a huge economic driver here, not only in the [00:13:00] Commonwealth of Virginia, but throughout the country. And so it's about time other people acknowledge our power and it's wonderful organizations like Emerge who help us wield and be able to use it as a tool to be able to get in positions of power because in the words of former Supreme court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we deserve to be where all the decisions are being made and so when that happens, that's when we're going to finally get paid family medical leave, paid sick days, $15 minimum wage, all of the wonderful things that will help women reach their full possibility and potential and lift millions of women and families effectively out of poverty.
So that is also true. That's a narrative that is, you know, people are saying in our race by, you know, the patriarchy, but it's very clear, you know, we are not here to ask a patriarchy for permission. We're here to take what's ours and this governorship, you know, is prime and ready to have a working mom representing working families in Virginia.
A’shanti Gholar: [00:13:55] Yes, to what JCF said and I love astrology and I was reading [00:14:00] something earlier today about how Jupiter is in Capricorn, which is associated with the patriarchy and helping throughout the change and I heard it from JCF so, this is why I'm voting for her, but we're talking about a lot of the things that we hear from our alumns when they do get elected into office, it is that piece that JCF talked about is really navigating things and is why, lots of reasons why I love Emerge but one of the reasons why is because we do have this network of support.
And with has having over a thousand alums in elected office, now when women are elected, especially the state houses, there are serving with other Emerge sisters so they have the opportunity to work together. They have people who have been elected before them who can help them with. The budgeting process, writing a bill, figuring out where the cafeteria is, bathrooms, all of those little things and big things, but [00:15:00] they're also there to support each other because the sexism, the racism, the misogyny is still exist and unfortunately for a lot of the women is something that they knew would be there, but not at the level that is still is when you are equal to these men. And they are still talking down to you and acting as if they're better than you, they're more accomplished.
And we saw this a lot at the height of the Me Too movement. We had a lot of our alumns who are coming to us saying, this has been my experience and wanted to speak out about it, but then they also had to think about backlash if they did come out and say anything and we were very clear, if you want to talk about this, we will be there to support you. But also when you do talk about it, you're going to help other women come forward with their experiences and we had so many of [00:16:00] our Emerge alums who led the way on this. Who were just key leaders in the me too movement to help us call out the sexism, the racism and misogyny that still exists in so many political institutions.
So I think that's something that we have to talk a lot about more and it's something I personally have been talking a lot about more because a lot of people think that when women, especially women of color, get into these positions, all those things go away and they don't. They're still there and a lot of times is tenfold, fiftyfold so we have to continue to support our women, not only when they're running, but when they're in these positions, because they're still dealing with all of those issues that they dealt with when they were running for the position.
Sarah: [00:16:53] Yeah, that that's definitely my experience with Emerge. I think the support after you get in the positions and often in [00:17:00] places, political places, state houses that are the last to see really dramatic change when it comes to hostile work environments. I think about that piece that was titled "Congress is a Hostile Work Environment," you know, and I think it's so true.
A’shanti Gholar: [00:17:13] It really is and. I also have to talk about the staff too. It's not just elected officials. Staff gets harassed as well. So there's a lot that we have to do to change these institutions and the biggest thing that we can do to change it as culminate charge because we know it makes a huge difference, not only with the treatment of the women, but you get things such as a breastfeeding room for moms, you get maternity leave, family leave, all these things that didn't exist before because of the men. So another reason to have women in charge.
Sarah: [00:17:50] You know, as I'm thinking about Virginia and its political journey over the last few years. Def you know, when I lived in Washington, DC, I moved out in 2009. [00:18:00] Virginia was still a red state. It is not a red state anymore. It's on this journey that you're seeing, you know, that you're seeing other States take that are really top of mind now with the census. You're seeing a lot of States in the South and the West go on this journey as well from red to blue. I think North Carolina is getting close. Dare I say, Texas and I'm wondering both of your perspectives on seeing that journey in the state of Virginia firsthand, you know, that class that came into the house of delegates and, you know, switch control for the first time and definitely women's role in that journey.
You know, if you're sitting down with the graduating class of Emerge in Texas, or you're sitting down with the class in North Carolina, and they're really on the precipice of big political change, but they're also encountering, you know, some dirty tactics when we're talking about gerrymandering and we're talking about tactics in the, with regards to legislation, like what advice would you have for them?
A’shanti Gholar: [00:18:57] Continue to just do it. I know in [00:19:00] 2018, we talked a lot about all of the women who got elected that year, but I played into 2017 and women like JCF who won their races in Virginia and JCF had mentioned this, if you look at the seas that were flipped, these were seeds that were held by. White Republican men, but the districts voted for Hillary Clinton. That tells you that they will vote for a woman and democratic woman and we gave them amazing democratic women, light GCF, and they voted for them.
So a lot of this is just the strategy that people do want different elected leaders. They want better elected leaders. We just have to give them to them. Because so many people fail that their elected leaders have failed them and they want new ones and they want authentic ones, like JCF and the other women who have been elected post 2017, who [00:20:00] truly understand their lives, their lived experience and what they're going through. So the biggest thing is those opportunities are there because the country is changing and that is why we're seeing all of these horrible tactics like gerrymandering, another form of voter suppression.
What they're doing in Georgia, in Texas and Michigan, another form of voter suppression. They can no longer win the right way. You know, the proper way, the honest way of really so they have to cheat to win, and that means that they have to cheat us out of our right to vote and our right to have the elected leaders that we want to have, but the best way to fight this is yes, it is the people speaking up, but we got to get the elected leaders in there that won't let this happen, that will continue to fight back.
So we're going to see it get a [00:21:00] lot worse before it gets better, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have women, especially women of color running for these seats because they can still win. Even if it's by a hundred votes, five votes or one vote. Every cycle, we have Emerge alumns who win by one vote. It really does happen. So we cannot let up, we have to continue to fight back and we can't let them win.
Beth: [00:21:28] Jennifer, you have been an enormously successful fundraiser in a crowded primary field and I think fundraising is something that we often hear from women as a barrier to seeking higher office. I would just love to hear your sort of philosophy around fundraising. What do you think has made you so successful and what would you tell other women who are intimidated by that component that sort of necessary evil of asking to do public service?
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:21:52] That's a really great question and I would like to go back again to my Emerge training. I know that I was raised in a [00:22:00] Southern Christian household and one of the things we were taught is that you don't ask anyone for anything. You know, I could have traveled to a desert, came to, you know, a lady's house and she says, can I offer you a cup of water? And you respectfully and politely decline and so this was new to me, having to depend on other people to be successful in this fashion.
And, you know, I feel like people care about really care about two things, right like the most. Like their kids and their money and I'm asking you for one of them, right? And it's just like, it was so intimidating but the thing that Emerge training helped me understand was this isn't about you. It's about us. It's about everyone. It's about the principles and the values that you're fighting for so them giving you money, isn't them giving it to you for you to put in your pocket it's to give to the, you know, the issues. To protect choice, to protect for or to have, expand voting rights to, you know, continue to fight for fully funded education. That's what they're [00:23:00] investing in and they know that you will be the facilitator, the conduit that's used in order to effectuate that change.
And so I think that helped take me out of it and really empower me to know that in order for us to make a difference, you have to have the resources in order to make it happen and I can tell you that, you know, it has helped me. Some of the best practices, it's just making sure that people know what you're fighting for and your record of success and why they need to invest in you and invest in you now, because just like A’shanti was saying, let's be clear, you know, power begets power, right.
Power, never concedes without a demand. Agitate, agitate, agitate and in order to agitate, you have to build a ground game. You have to have the infrastructure. You have to be where people are. They're on their phones. They're on social media, they're checking their mail and their email and unfortunately those things cost and so in order to keep us successful campaign going and operating seamlessly and reaching the voters and [00:24:00] sharing their positive vision, then you have to have the resources that requires, you know, that to happen.
So I'm excited to say that, you know, the tools that Emerge has provided me with that's, what I've been using and utilizing. Making those hard calls, making those hard asks and being relentless and dogging, because at the beginning of training, they said, you know, we're going to have these raw conversations with you and we're going to hurt your feelings, but we need you to go out here and we need you to hit the ground running. So because you're a woman and a woman of color, let me be clear, you will be given to less and less often and so be ready, but do not be the tiered. Right? So it's nothing new.
We have to usually women, this is what we do. Right. We're mansplained in boardrooms. We are passed up for promotions. We are always having to explain ourselves and decisions and stuff like that and, and it's just, this is just another layer because women running for office, we're still [00:25:00] considered the exception and not the rule, but as we have this groundswell and more women running and winning, then people will see that, you know, when we run, we win, especially when we have, you know, wonderful, um, organizations like Emerge, that's backing us and giving us the tools that we need to be successful.
So I can say that all of that training has helped, having a fantastic dynamic team around me helped, and knowing what's at stake and what's on the line that we're ready to move Virginia forward and not back. This is about Virginia's future and not the past and I know intimately what's at stake and so that's why I'm willing to give it everything I have to make sure that we are successful and we win at this pivotal moment, not only to elect the first Black woman governor in the history of our country, but to let one who will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people and not special interests. Who will never back down from a fight from doing what's right for Virginians and who knows how to get things done.
Sarah: [00:25:55] Well, I know that power begets power is the perfect place to end this conversation between the two of you. [00:26:00] That is for sure. I love that so much. Thank you both for joining us. I think this is going to be awesome and inspiring, and we wish you the best of luck on your campaign.
Jennifer Carroll Foy: [00:26:09] Thank you so much and please go to JenniferCarrollFoy.com to learn more.
Sarah: [00:26:14] Thank you to Jennifer and A’shanti. Next up Anne Helen Peterson.
So we sat down with Anne Helen Petersen to talk about childcare for our infrastructure series but she had just written a piece for her Substack Culture Studies, which you should all subscribe to about the politics of teacher appreciation week and I was in the throws of teacher appreciation week when she wrote this. Beth was too and so we definitely wanted to talk to her about that. This is, this is peak teacher appreciation time of the year. We know all of you guys, both teachers and parents, and this affects your lives and listen, the personal is political. So here's our conversation with [00:27:00] Anne Helen Petersen about teacher appreciation week.
Okay. So let's talk about teacher appreciation. It's may. It's peak teacher appreciation time and you wrote about it and you did just the classic HP treatment and sort of exploded my mind a little bit where you're like, Oh my God yes, there is all this cultural, excuse me, sh*t going on with teacher appreciation,
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:27:22] I feel like it's gotten so much bigger. It's just amplified.
Sarah: [00:27:25] Cause people feel bad cause of COVID and so it just took this thing that was already messed up and took it to like an 11.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:27:32] Right. So it's the combination of like general devaluation of public education that has been happening over the course of the last 30 years, plus COVID and like understanding that teachers are demoralized and you're like, Oh, what can we do? And so I, the, the, the prescriptions that I have seen for what different parents should be doing [00:28:00] for teacher appreciation week. Like the details, the style and breadth of snacks that are to be provided.
Sarah: [00:28:07] I love the one you shared the woman. It was like, bring your favorite teacher, her favorite breakfast and the woman was like, am I supposed to eat all twenty five of these in one day?
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:28:18] And yeah, just like, there's just so much crap. It's waste right but it is appreciation theater in terms of like, how can we show this appreciation?
Sarah: [00:28:31] Well, and also parents who of course had an easy breezy time throughout COVID. Yes. Great.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:28:36] I love, uh, Claire Kane Miller, who, uh, is writes on gender for the New York times, she tweeted about the piece and was like, you know, this is a really easy quiz to see who does the mental labor is your house is-
Sarah: [00:28:50] oh yeah. She did that piece on that.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:28:51] Who know about Teacher appreciation week, like who is in charge of teacher appreciation week. Of course, almost always, [00:29:00] the woman in the house. Like that's another thing that they have to be thinking about is like, Oh, where do I find the outfit that they're supposed to wear to show appreciation, plus all of these doodads plus like this flower, plus handwritten notes, plus a breakfast item, plus a bath bomb plus spa day. Like all of it, all of it is just ridiculous and I know that Stu like some teachers really do feel appreciated, especially if like your, your love language is receiving gifts.
Sarah: [00:29:31] Oh, you're rolling. You're great.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:29:33] Yeah, but I think a lot of others are like, are you freaking kidding me?
Sarah: [00:29:37] Like, there don't need this many candles.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:29:39] I don't need this many candles. It's my job to do this. You know, I heard from some teachers about their different experiences of teacher appreciation week that include things like you have to put up the billboard for your own teacher appreciation.
Sarah: [00:29:53] No.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:29:56] Yeah. Like the billboard in the hall.
[00:30:00] Beth: [00:30:00] Appreciate yourself.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:30:00] It's like teacher appreciation week to me, more labor, more unpaid labor and, you know, I even think about this with mother's day with any holiday that we have cordoned off to celebrate and that includes like Black history month, all of these different things. What it means is that the status quo does not have room to accommodate or actually appreciate these people in real life and so we have developed these farces of holidays and appreciation months to try to suggest that we do actually appreciate these people and it is just so insufficient and as I know you two appreciate, this is what the money is for. Like, this is what taxes are for. This is what equity is for. This is what the actual work is meant to create scenarios in which you do not have to buy a bath bomb in order to evidence your [00:31:00] appreciation.
Beth: [00:31:01] I think that's all really good and true and where I kind of struggle is like, what is the thing beneath everyone feeling so unappreciated and if we had a more supportive social structure, would we be past that or would we be still searching for it? I did a lot of employee appreciation work in my HR days and I discovered that we really did need it as a tool because even people in jobs that pay very well, jobs that pay frankly above market for positions, there's never enough money to make people feel really seen and valued for what they do.
And so I had to always have, you know, I would talk about it as like a buffet. Hey, you might think this is really lame, but your coworker over here likes it. Hopefully I've got something on the buffet that you like. You don't have to say, take the whole plate, like find the thing that works for you and if I'm not putting it out here, tell me what it is, but I don't know. It seems like [00:32:00] there is something even underneath the economic precarity that we're struggling to feel valued/
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:32:08] Totally.
Sarah: [00:32:09] When we talked about this with Mother's day, like we do need ritual and you've written about this too. Like the importance of like that ritualistic moment and it makes sense at the end of the school year, like to mark it somehow and say, I like really appreciate what you've done for my child, because I think it is sincere appreciation coming from lots of people. It's just, we choose consumption over connection. If we can lean into consumption, instead of actually doing the vulnerable work of saying, here's how you help my child and I want you to know that and I want you to, because we feel like, well, we know deep down or consciously subconsciously we know like teachers don't get paid enough and we can't really fix that.
We can, but not as individuals, you know what I mean? And so, like, I think there's like this real knot of like, we want a ritual in our lives and we do want places to like, make that connection. It's just, we've been taught like the only way to do that is not either a through political action to actually support [00:33:00] the system or be through connection instead of consuming.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:33:03] I, as a former teacher, I have received incredible gestures of appreciation, particularly from the students themselves that are meaningful and stick with me still and so I am not at all saying that, like, you can't create these gestures of appreciation and I think that you're totally right. That money doesn't fix everything. I think the better framework, oftentimes for thinking through what's going on now in particular, but what's been going on for some time particularly with teachers is the framework of demoralization, right?
And that framework really is instead of thinking about like, Oh, you're burnt out or tired. It's more that you do not have access to the infrastructure that makes it possible for you to do your job well. So that might mean that you are incredibly under-resourced. [00:34:00] That might mean that you have, like your class size is just too big for you to deal with. It might mean that there is no funding for mental health supports for your students and so you are functioning essentially as a social worker instead of as a teacher and that I think has really been amplified and accentuated during COVID, but teachers have felt that for some time that they are not, they do not have the tools to do a job, their job, their life's work. You know, many, many teachers, they, this is the most fulfilling thing that they chose to do and love to do, but they can no longer derive that joy and that satisfaction from it because their tools have been taken from them.
Sarah: [00:34:43] Yes. I think that's definitely a huge part of what's happening and you see that choice in so many areas when in any area, you know, be it low-income work and we've talked about that or teaching or early child. When, when suddenly you have [00:35:00] something in front of you that gives you a choice, you're going to take it and I think that was like the, some of the frustration with school reopening that's people, they, the frustration people feel about unemployment payments, is like when somebody has, if they feel demoralized and all of a sudden they have a choice, they're going to take it and it might not make sense to you but it's not. It's not for you. It's for them. You know what I mean? It's not about you.
And I think that's, what's you know, so hard and I think with teachers, especially after COVID, COVID accelerated and exposed so much, and we're all so desperate to say, like, I see it, I see it. I care about it and we're just trying to find any way to do that and it, you know, it just manifests in all these crazy ways. Like my teacher writing a thank you note to my kindergartener for a gift that she knows the kindergartener didn't give her, you know what I mean? Like I just got, I kind of want to be like, how about for the first step of cleaning up teacher appreciation week, we write a note that says, please, you do not have to write me a thank you note teacher, please do not perform more labor for this exchange.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:35:59] You know, [00:36:00] in my suggestions about ways that you could show appreciation, like writing a note to your kid's teacher, that outlines all the, you know, the ways that you really do appreciate the work that they have done for your kid, but that also doesn't include some like weird passive aggressive thing, like I know that he could be working more on this, but like, we appreciated how you did this, right, which I think oftentimes seeps in here, like I have received these sorts of notes.
But then also being very explicit because we are bad at this, in our, in our country about you do not need to reply and I do not expect an acknowledgement, and it's not. Like my gift, one of my gifts to you is saying, you do not need to acknowledge this gift um, and I know that that sometimes goes counter to some of the ideas that we've turned internalized about expressing gratitude for gratitude. Um, but it is, it takes an enormous burden off of the recipient to say, I want [00:37:00] it, I want to give you all of this praise and I do not expect labor in return in terms of like, you mirroring that gratitude back to me.
Sarah: [00:37:08] And that is feminized. Like that is a feminization of grat, like gratitude and performance that is so intensive. We had Diana Butler Bass on the show a long time ago to talk about her book Gratitude, which is so good and she talks about like, we have a patronage version of gratitude in our head where I am bestowing this on you, and you should be very thankful and send it back up to me and she was like, that's not what gratitude is. Gratitude is a flow and you just contribute to it and then it takes off and like, it's not a transaction, but we do that to each other in so many spaces, especially women, I think.
Anne Helen Petersen: [00:37:40] Absolutely and if they don't respond, you're like, well, that was rude was like, well then why did you, why did you express that gratitude when all you wanted was them to express it back? Anyway.
Sarah: [00:37:51] Bless.
[00:38:00] Beth: [00:38:02] Thank you so much to Anne Helen Petersen. Sarah, I wanted to share these two conversations today because I know it's been really heavy around here at Pantsuit Politics this week and I love talking about a governor. I love talking about teachers and education, and so I hope everybody really found a little bit of lightness and some interesting thoughts as we head into the weekend.
Sarah: [00:38:20] Beth what's on your mind outside politics?
Beth: [00:38:22] Spent a lot of time with Instagram this week and I feel like we've been spending a lot of time thinking about Instagram and talking about what we're doing on Instagram and why we're doing it and so I thought it would be fun to have a little Instagram check in here, especially because Sarah, you've really been uping your Reels game. You've spent a lot of time thinking about this.
Sarah: [00:38:38] Listen, Instagram wants the reels. I want Instagram to stop punishing us in the algorithm. So I have been like begrudgingly thinking about reels at first, but now my kind of getting into it and it is pretty fun. And we started doing a lot of play on really fun audio, but the truth is people want to see our faces, which is hard because we live apart.
So I thought I'll just, I'll [00:39:00] just for both roles so I made a real about the struggle to get back to post pandemic life. It's a series y'all. This only the first one I made. I've made three. They're going to be coming out over the next few days. I don't want to brag, but I think they're pretty funny. I'm pretty good. My 12 year old was not impressed. Every time he comes home, I'm like I made three reels today and he calls it millennial Tiktok, which I think is rude, very rude and discriminatory, maybe even, but-
Beth: [00:39:30] Not exactly wrong.
Sarah: [00:39:31] Not exactly. That's it and don't call me at geriatric millennial either. Um, so I, you know, it's really, they are fun to do. I love seeing everybody's comments. I love providing a little lightness. I've, I've have some reels that have lightened my load and made me laugh and I'm just happy to put more into the stream and you have been both of us, but you in particular have been doing Q and A's after the episode.
You know, it started, I think is like, do you have any thoughts about the episode it turned into? Like, what can we help you with now? I'm a [00:40:00] resource sherpa so I love a good rec, I love a good product, I love a good app, but you are the real, the real caretaker. You're out there just, just taking on people's intense questions on Instagram. I don't know how you do it.
Beth: [00:40:11] Instagram is just a really interesting place because I think something about it feels kind of intimate in certain spaces and like the total opposite of intimate everywhere else and I don't really know how to figure out which one, you know, why certain, certain spaces of Instagram feel more intimate than others, but I definitely feel a huge amount of trust flowing from the people who listen to the podcast and follow us on Instagram and when people who listen to the podcast and follow us on Instagram engage with those question boxes that can pop up in Instagram stories.
Now, if you're not on Instagram and you're like, Oh, this whole conversation is so annoying. Let me just share that Instagram stories are a way for us to interact with y'all as close to live as we can get in the current world, right. And [00:41:00] it's, I think it's a really nice way to kind of come together in community and I love hearing people's stories and what's going on with them and just getting a sense of what they're thinking about and I find that doing that once a week or so really helps me better understand, you know, how we can do a better job on the show here so it's really fun. If you don't, if you don't do Instagram, honestly, I think we have one of the coolest spaces there to think about the shows, to think about what's going on in life in general, and to connect with other listeners. So we would definitely invite you to that space.
Sarah: [00:41:33] So you can follow us on Instagram. We also have the Facebook Pantsuit Politics gathering place, which is a group of listeners. We are not there a lot, but we have amazing volunteer moderators so that's a space. There's the Facebook page. There's the Twitter page. There's of course our Patrwon community, because we learn so much from all of you and we make better shows when we are in conversation with this community, when we understand like what your pain points are, what you're thinking [00:42:00] about. So we just, we value those spaces so, so much.
Enough that I like, uh, did a little show in the Reels. I like put on costumes. I did a costume change. I threw a piece of paper at my own face. So which you will see an upcoming reels. So, yeah, just check us out on the social media pages. We so appreciate every single email, every single message, every single comment, because this community is living and breathing and we appreciate all of you so much. So thank you for joining us for another episode of Pantsuit Politics, we will be back in your ears on Tuesday and until then keep it nuanced, y'all.
Beth: Pantsuit Politics is produced by Studio D Podcast Production.
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Sarah: Megan Hart is our community engagement manager. Dante Lima is the composer and performer of our theme music.
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Executive Producers (Read their own names): Martha Bronitsky, Linda Daniel, Ali Edwards, Janice Elliot, Sarah Greepup, Julie Haller, Helen Handley, Tiffany Hassler, Barry Kaufman, Molly Kohrs.
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