Episode 69: Get Swole

Published November 18, 2016.

Ann: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Aminatou: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Ann: I'm Ann Friedman.

Aminatou: And I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: On this week's agenda, more election fallout, how we're coping, how we're reading the news now, and how we're all dealing with anxiety and hopelessness.

[Theme Song]

Ann: How're you doing? [Laughs]

Aminatou: I'm doing okay, having a little bit of technical difficulties, but you know, adjusting.

Ann: I think I said this to you earlier this week but I've been thinking a lot and feeling very appreciative of the sort of minor daily struggles of my life, the things that are ultimately really meaningless as a distraction/concrete thing I feel like I can fix. I'm like going on a big trip soon and I'm obsessed with packing, or solving a technical issue related to this podcast. Weirdly I've become so grateful for those tiny problems.

Aminatou: I've been binge watching so much TV and movies. I just hadn't been consuming entertainment for a while except my steady diet of Daily Mail. But it's like I'm actually watching TV shows and movies the other day. But you can tell I'm a little depressed because I'll sit through seven episodes in a row and I'm like this is not normal.

Ann: Yeah, no, that's what you do when you have food poisoning or the flu or a Trump presidency. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Totally. Yeah, it's like I watched season three of The Fall in one sitting. I had no idea it was even back and I was like this is weirdly really comforting even though it's about a serial killer.

(2:00)

Ann: I know that a lot of people find sort of comfort in all manner of murder TV. [Laughs] Like I just can't . . . like this goes back to my weirdness about Law & Order and stuff. But I 100% am very happy to hear that it is doing you right.

Aminatou: Yeah. I mean Law & Order is a joke compared to real serial killer TV, you know?

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: I was afraid to go to the bathroom three times as well. I was like this is real. [Laughs] You know? Even though the guy was in custody. You take your entertainment wherever you can. I went to watch Arrival this weekend which was really kind of devastating. I watched Moonlight for the fourth time. It's like even though I'm really sad it's helping my brain process a bunch of things and so that's been weirdly good. I'm reading books again. You know how we joke that I don't read fiction. [Laughs]

Ann: Fiction has been very important to your 2016 I feel.

Aminatou: Yeah, like 100% escapism, right? Except that I'm reading Sinclair Lewis It Can't Happen here.

Ann: Okay, so not escapism.

Aminatou: Yeah, so that's definitely not escapism, right? That was too real and I had to stop. Somehow everything is easier than reading newyorktimes.com.

Ann: My sort of sense of duty and let's be real, like professional responsibility to be actually clued into the news, has been so challenged right now. Like trying to make it past paragraph three of any current political news that is less about opposition organizing and more about this is sort of the political machinations that are happening right now has been unbearable.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's also like I'm kind of at the point where, you know, not to turn into this conspiracy theorist, but I was telling you this the other day on the phone, it's really hard to kind of trust these news outlets that just didn't see Trump coming and now they're reporting on the transition. And I'm like why should I trust you? You got everything wrong so far. All of your analysis and punditry was not real. You have the exact same kind of sourcing. So it's really hard for me to be like yes, all of this speculative stuff seems like it could be real. I'm more in a let's wait and see what happens.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: God, I'm turning into a conspiracy theorist 100%.

(4:15)

Ann: I mean who knew that that conversation would prove so prophetic?

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like people who have been wronged by institutions and systems turning into conspiracy theorists. It's like I've always been very skeptical of the even possibility that there could be a "objective" press but it has never been more infuriating to listen to NPR or to listen to The New York Times as it's trying to be measured in this moment, or non-partisan. Some of the headlines about how open, proud, white nationalist Steve Bannon is described for example, it's still doing the like "Some say he might be a racist." And it's like no, no, this is like a word with a definition that you as a reporter should be able to use right now even if you're . . . yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's not even like some say. They're like critics say, you know?

Ann: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Aminatou: Like it's a criticism of him as a white dude that he's a white nationalist. I'm like no, no, white nationalists say he's a white nationalist.

Ann: Right. And also saying "critics say" implies that only critics believe that when he and his supporters believe it too, you know?

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: And so I think for me it's less about failures of coverage during the election, although that plays a role, and it's more about skepticism of how quickly "objectivity" turns into just like its own form of misleading coverage. Like it's really bad.

Aminatou: Yeah. I'm just not there yet. I'm happy to see that there's been a surge, like all these newspapers are reporting there's a surge of people subscribing to them and people really want to support the open and free press which we all should. But it is a really tough pill to swallow right now. You know, because I think for me at least part of my anxiety about the situation right now is that we just don't have enough information, you know?

Ann: Yeah.

(6:10)

Aminatou: It's like one day he says one thing and then the next day he's like "No, no, it's fine. No, that's not what I'm going to do." And when I finally identified that for myself it weirdly made me feel a little bit better, you know?

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: And so I was like I'm freaking out about the uncertainty. And this is not to say that it's going to turn out to be a great four years. No. It's just that I just don't know where to channel both my anxiety and my rage and lack of information has so much to do with that. And I was like yeah, you know, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. So as much as I can I will try to calm down right now and really just figure out what the deal is.

Ann: Yeah. I don't know. I've also been taking some comfort in when I am feeling particularly shitty about things, like taking the opportunity to express my love and gratitude to people in my life who are sort of feeling the same way. And, you know, that looks like a lot of different things. But the other day I was just getting so angry and I was home alone and just spiraling and I went out and bought a friend of mine a birthday present. And I know, I know, probably this has something to do with capitalism too, but weirdly it was like that act of I'm going to do a small thing for a person I know that was a great little catalyst to kind of pull me out of that immediate funk.

Aminatou: No, absolutely. Leaving the house has been so instrumental. I went on a little hike the other day and I was like oh. A friend emailed me that she had gone on a hike with another friend and she was like "It was really helpful," so I was like "I will do this today." And it's like who knew that getting out of the house and getting fresh air would make you feel better? And I was like yeah, I've been wearing the same sweatpants for four days. That's also probably why I feel bad right now.

(8:00)

Ann: It's true. Although I have taken to heart a lot of . . . I mean I think you posted this pretty much everywhere, which is the whole take a shower, eat a meal, take your meds, and then reassess. And that has been very, very helpful for me in a lot of situations in the past week.

Aminatou: Yeah, I made myself a little checklist every morning because I've been having just serious anxiety every morning. And so for me that's just been really . . . it sounds really dumb and it's like the kind of stuff that people joke about when they talk about liberal coddling. But I'm like it literally says wash your face, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, because when the dread sets in all of those things just feel so unsurmountable.

Ann: I mean it's not liberal coddling; it's a literal pyramid of needs. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah, it's true. The other thing too that's been really good is that friend-of-the-podcast Katherine Andrews wrote this really good thing on Medium. She manages a team of young women. Katherine is a boss. I used to work with her. She's great. And she manages a lot of young women, so she wrote this thing about how can you help your employees kind of understand what is going on? And one of the points that she made was about working out. Katherine is like the most sick, fit person I know where sometimes I'm just like I don't know where you find the energy. Not sometimes; all the time. I'm like where the fuck do you find all this energy?

Her rationale for it was about how you want your body to be a fine-tuned Ferrari for the war that you're going into. And so I joined this boxing class this week and honestly I will say kicking things has been so fun.

Ann: I love that.

Aminatou: That is the only thing that is bringing me joy right now. Also who knew that I had such weak punches? [Laughs]

Ann: I'm shocked to hear that.

(9:48)

Aminatou: Oh my god, no. I'm not shocked to hear that I have really shitty upper body strength, but you know whenever you go to the rage place and you're like "I can punch someone right now?" Turns out I could not punch a baby if I wanted to.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: So I'm working on that. [Laughs]

Ann: My rage phase is kind of like t-rex flailing in the wind. That's kind of how . . .

Aminatou: Totally! I'm like oh my god, such a big lady, such weak-ass punches. But that has been really good. And it's funny because the studio that I went to, I ran into two other women that I kind of casually know. And to see that that was their release also, it was like a very good head nod wink moment. Yes, I need to find better ways to channel this than eating See's candies all day.

Ann: I love the idea that one of the unforeseen outcomes of this election was a legion of buff women. [Laughs] Just super-built, like taking over weight rooms and gyms across America. Yeah, just getting so fit.

Aminatou: I know! It's so funny. It's just like ladies getting swole. We're going to post on the website some swole women resources.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: About how to be a swole lady. Did you ever watch Tom and Jerry? Every once in a while there's like a swole mouse.

Ann: Yes. [Laughs]

Aminatou: [Laughs] And I'm just like that's what we're going to become.

Ann: Oh my god, you're killing me. I love that.

Aminatou: I'm so angry but I'm going to be so fit. You know, next time we go protest it's on. It's so ridiculous.

Ann: I know. It's 100% very muscular pussy grabs back. Like that's sort of . . .

Aminatou: [Sighs] Totally. You know, but at the same time it's like I have other friends who are really struggling. The fog isn't lifting. Hang in there and take it one day at a time. When you're ready to rejoin society not wearing your sweatpants we will be here but it's tough and the only thing for me . . . one of the things that is definitely getting me through this is just friends checking in on me. Just keep doing the chain. Reach out to your people even if they're not reaching back out.

(11:55)

Ann: Yeah. And also that whole . . . weirdly it has that effect too of if you're feeling shitty, doing the reach out to someone else has this positive effect both ways. It's like how many times have I sent that check-in text which has just turned into a really long conversation? And there is so much good community building too. I mean yes, action and all of that, but first and foremost community.

Aminatou: Yeah. Ugh, yeah. Or just let's just get swole together.

Ann: Yes.

Aminatou: I'm like angry and swole. This is going to be hilarious. [Laughs]

Ann: Do you . . . yes, exactly. And also it's just such a great -- like sometimes when there's a literal manifestation, like a physical manifestation of a feeling you want to feel, I can't say enough how much I love the image of physically buff women even if you can't tell by looking at all of them. You know, just the idea that we can all lift. [Laughs] I just love that.

Aminatou: No, totally. You're just like I'm strong in my body and I'm strong in my mind, you know?

Ann: Totally.

Aminatou: Oof, oof. It's going to be a long four years.

Ann: The marathon.

Aminatou: Marathon. What else are we talking about today?

Ann: Do you want to maybe take some questions? Because I have to say our inbox right now is an outpouring of first of all lots of affections, so thank you for that everyone. You guys send us the nicest emails. But also lots of anxiety and questioning, so maybe we could read some email.

Aminatou: Yeah. I loved all of the mail that we're getting from people outside of the country. Like that was really comforting to me. Like oh, we are not the only ones living our national nightmare so thanks for just checking in and telling us what's up.

Ann: Oh my god, totally. So appreciated. Yes.

Aminatou: Okay, do you want to read the first one?

Ann: Sure. All right, it says "Thank you for being a consistent source of light in the dark and reminding me that I'm not crazy. Second, after the shit show what is the president-elect and who he has chosen to run the new swamp and talk of fake news sources, what or who do you recommend for legit news sources with legit journalists and places to access actual facts?"

(14:00)

Aminatou: Yo.

Ann: We kind of already answered this question. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I already told you I'm a conspiracy theorist, so this is a tough one. I renewed my New York Times subscription, my Washington Post subscription, my New Yorker subscription even though I take a lot of issue with some of the coverage. But I think it's important to support -- for me at least those are three places where people that I trust and that I like write. I'm subscribing for the first time to ProPublica because they wrote some really great stories during the election and it's like non-profit journalism somehow makes me feel a little better. I can't put my finger on why specifically. But, you know, it's like thank you for putting your resources into actual reporting.

Ann: Yeah. I think that for me, it's interesting, thinking about how there are definitely sources -- and you named many of them -- who are invested in doing reporting, and I think it's important to read and support them. But I also think that even more important than that you can ask questions as you're reading something, even if the source is something like the New York Times which is totally reputable and trying to report with accuracy and I think, you know, like we were saying earlier, almost an alarming degree of "fairness." You can ask questions. You can say "Who am I not hearing from in this article?"

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: You know, I think that that is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. So okay, this is ostensibly about how people are feeling after the election. Who's really quoted here? Who am I really hearing from? What sorts of experts am I hearing from?

Aminatou: Totally. And it's like is this news source trading access to give people anonymity? And how much you can push back against that and just be more of a critical reader of your paper always.

Ann: Yeah. And I think that to that point, when we were talking about Steve Bannon earlier, I mean you can engage. You can sort of say "Okay, so this news source I'm reading says critics call him a white supremacist." But then in the article it says that he wrote all these articles that have a white supremacist point-of-view and published them. So, huh, does that mean critics say he's a white supremacist? Or should it just say white supremacist? I think there's a whole skill set involved in being a critical reader and thinking about how the news that gets to you is constructed. And a good tell -- and I think for this I want to echo Amina's point still about subscribing to places that are doing real reporting -- but you can read and say "Did this writer call people? Did this writer go somewhere and report something firsthand? Or is this more piggybacking off something else?" You're a critical, smart reader and I think being active about that, yeah.

(16:44)

Aminatou: Yeah. Totally. It's like you can't abdicate reading and interpretation of what you read to just the paper. You know what I mean? It's like just think about all the insane reporting that came out before, during, and after the Iraq War. Everybody should be ashamed of themselves. That just seems like a decade ago so it's like we've almost all forgotten but it's like no, really important news sources got a lot of stuff wrong that had really dire consequences.

Ann: For sure. And I was also going to recommend adding one or two international news sources to your diet as well, which is less sort of an immediate concern I think right now in terms of election fallout because sometimes when I consume UK Channel 4 News analysis of what happened in the US election I'm like oh my god, I'm banging my head against the wall. I can't handle this. You know, but in terms of continuing to engage with the world and being aware of how the things that this presidency is doing are having effects beyond America, I think that that is really important too.

Aminatou: Totally.

(17:45)

Ann: So just add it to your browser or wherever you're clicking on these are my sources, like one thing. Yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah. Another thing that I will add too is you can add, and if you can, support one local news source.

Ann: Yes.

Aminatou: Because those stories will hit closer to home for you and honestly will have more political repercussions a lot of times than national stories. I really hope that that doesn't get lost in the mix. And there are places that just do incredible work that will need our support, but I think that in terms of constant vigilance you should be reading your local paper, your local investigative reporters. You need to get on top of that.

Ann: Yeah, like can you say who's covering the state house in your state? I think that's one of those things. It's never sexy to read about state-level legislation or what's happening but this election . . .

Aminatou: That's where it all starts.

Ann: Totally. And this election was very, very devastating on a state level. I mean I know we're talking a lot -- like we are guilty of this as much as anyone of talking about the presidency, but truthfully the thing that's going to make the biggest difference beyond four years from now and in the real long-term is in that pipeline and states and districts. And so if you can't name all your elected officials all the way up the line maybe you should start reading state-level news immediately. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah. You know, another thing, and this is going back to just how social media has fueled so much misinformation, I feel like this is one thing where we're all going to have to hold hands on this, right? Before you share an article, one rule -- like cardinal rule -- is you should actually read it. You should actually read beyond the headline, like what it says. You should read the byline to see who wrote it and when it was written. Are you sharing something that is now? Are you sharing it out of outrage? This is a place where we can all police ourselves. Especially this week it has been maddening to see everybody just panic-sharing all sorts of stuff. It's true. There's definitely like the fake news mills in Macedonia. God bless, that's how they're supplementing their GDP. That shit is real. [Laughs] But if you are going to be a critical reader and you are going to learn about this stuff everybody needs to take a beat before you share anything.

Ann: Right.

(20:00)

Aminatou: We live in this terrible algorithm-based world and it's really easy and sexy to just look at headlines and, ugh, sigh at them and move on. But you really should take some time and see am I contributing to this onslaught of garbage news? Because sometimes we do accidentally, you know?

Ann: Yeah. And if you want people to be reading more quality news, like asking questions about what you're sharing and why and when, I mean same thing, it's like the critical reading is yes, but also yeah, critical sharing is the total flip side.

Aminatou: Yeah, and critical sharing means you have to read all the way to the end. You need to know when it was written. You need to know who it was written by. You need to know whether it's an opinion piece or it's actual reporting.

Ann: But you don't have to read the comments. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah. You know, unfortunately that's the kind of shit they don't teach you in school. Nobody teaches you how to read the newspaper, right? Which is a real shame. Media literacy should be so a part of high school and beyond curriculum. You know, but this is a place where you can just learn on your own and we're all going to hold hands and make it better.

Ann: Totally.

Aminatou: Also don't be afraid to engage with your newspaper people. I love writing the public editor at the Times and even if they don't publish your note they always follow up with you because that stuff is important to them.

Ann: That's their job.

Aminatou: God, so much homework. So much homework.

Ann: And also think about how much impact you can have as a critical reader too. And you know what? Those people have to answer the phone too. If you pick up the phone and you're like "Huh, I notice that you're only quoting white men in your articles about what a Trump presidency is going to mean to our city or our town or whatever," it's like oh, wow, okay, so this is like a real check as well on reporters and editors.

Aminatou: Totally.

Ann: To be like someone else is paying attention.

Aminatou: Totally. Or I'm noticing that all of your sources for this story were anonymous. You know, what does that mean and how do we trust that it was necessary to do that?

Ann: Right. Explain yourselves. [Laughs]

(22:05)

Aminatou: Yeah, it's literally the job of media is to explain themselves in the clearest terms possible. Oof.

[Music and Ads]

(25:45)

Aminatou: Here's another question that we have from somebody who says that they're an activist. Okay. "In the past I've given up on a lot of politically-involved or activist things I've done, calling, letter writing, donating, protesting, because I never felt like I was really helping. This is tied to my own lack of self-esteem and fear of screwing up, the same thing that made me approach every day of work and school certain I'm about to fail or get fired. Combine that with the fact that I just finished graduate school in a field where work/life balance does not exist and you get a person who has prioritized work over most other things including activism without meaning to. 

I also have social anxiety which makes it hard for me to connect with strangers and sometimes even my friends. Most models of activism I have seen hinge on connecting with strangers, either because you're trying to convince them to change their minds or because you're creating a community with like-minded people. On the one hand my anxiety issues are motivation to do more. Anxiety feels awful physically and mentally and I hate that there are and have been people who have been made to feel the same way I do not because of their brain chemistry but because they're unsafe in this country. On the other hand it makes me less helpful to others. Therapy has helped me in general but not in figuring out how to put activism higher on my priority list than workaholicism. Most of the progress I've made in terms of social anxiety has been in talking to the people who are willing to put up with my anxiety rather than the people who need to have their prejudiced views challenged or people who are justifiably upset with white women and shouldn't need to accommodate me. Over the past week I've been trying to go to rallies, donate to non-profits that are gearing up to oppose Putin's best frenemy." [Laughs]

Thank you for making me laugh. Very few things have made me laugh. This was sweet. "Check on my friends and neighbors, etc. But I've tried. So far this past week and previously has not been working very well and I'm still a mess. Basically I want to know if you have any advice for being a better activist while dealing with anxiety/self-esteem issues in a way that doesn't burden people who have more at risk than I do."

(27:50)

Ann: Oof.

Aminatou: This is a really thoughtful and tough question.

Ann: It's not just like "Hey, tell me three things I can do. I want to be active and I don't know how to use Google," which is an email I've received personally and we have received at CYG a bunch. I don't know, I also appreciate the acknowledgment of how hard it can be to do this work separate from sort of having these anxiety issues to deal with, but the feeling that it's not making a difference is something that I relate to a lot. Or that "What is this really going to do anyway?" question.

Aminatou: It's really tough and there are a lot of different levels of things that are happening here, right? So maybe we can address them one-by-one. So to the first thing, like the anxiety thing, that is something that I relate to a lot. You know, I think that on one level for people who just deal with lifelong ambient anxiety you have to get treatment for it. There's not a ton that works but it's something that you have to do, and it's not to say that it's easy or that it goes away, but you know, we all have to live in society somehow. [Laughs] And not freak out all of the time. If you add the combination of self-esteem issues and anxiety it's easy to feel like you're not making a difference and that you're burdening people because that's literally what the anxiety is telling you and the self-esteem is telling you at the same time.

You have to be strong in your body and your head before you can be really helpful to other people. You know, it's like that Audrey Lorde quote, self-care is a political act. So if that's where you have to start there's no shame in that. If you go to this therapy, which this person says that she does, I would suggest talking to your therapist about CBT therapy and seeing if that is something that is helpful to you in treating anxiety. To the question of are you making a difference, doing something is better than not doing anything at all. So of course you're making a difference. There is -- for a lot of people there's also a warped feeling of what it exactly means to be an activist and how on the front lines do you have to be and how much do you have to participate? It's like if being around people is draining to you and that's hard, then how can you support other activist work who do that? Somebody has to organize. Somebody has to be the person who keeps the trains running. Somebody has to be the person who collects all the donations. All of that works in tandem with each other. You don't have to be someone wearing a protest sign in the middle of the march, like talking to someone with a bullhorn, to be an activist.

(30:30)

Ann: Totally. You know, one of the really good models I've seen for an organizing group offering people with different skills and needs and issues a way to plug in is the SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice, group in Los Angeles which is an allied group with The Movement for Black Lives which is a space where white people can sort of engage and ask questions and be in a support role. Like show up but be in a support role. It's really, really great about saying "Okay, today the need is drive these donations to this specific site." Or "The need today is show up with your body at this place." I can look at that email and be like okay, what do I have the capacity for this week? What is a match with my skill set? And I don't think that every group is that organized and I don't think it's realistic to think that every person who wants to be active can just sign up for a listserv and get those options delivered to them, though if you do live in Los Angeles I highly recommend the SURJ list for that.

But I do think that that is a good question to ask, right? So if you do know someone who is showing up to physically protest or is planning something, maybe it's like an organizing retreat or something that it feels like you don't want to be part of that for personal reasons, you can say "Can I support you with food? Can I bring you something to eat? Can I help you find a place to meet and research on the backend?" You know, there are actually spreadsheet people so useful to the movement. Like not everyone is a spreadsheet person.

And so I do think that asking a specific question, you know, specific questions like that of people who are leaders in sort of ways that you want to plug in, is good. And not just the general "Hi, how can I help you?" but saying "These are things I would like to offer. Can you use them?" I think that is helpful to people who are organizing for sure.

(32:25)

Aminatou: Yeah, you know? And I think this thing that you said too about being a part of an actual group, that's the thing is like you can't just be like "I'm an activist!" then you're out here on your own. That's going to be tough for both community purposes and accountability purposes and tracking purposes. If you're a part of an actual, organized group, you know what your contribution brings to the table and you know that the more people you have the better it is.

There's days where people just feel like shit and you don't feel like you're making a difference but there's how you feel and there's the actual truth and the truth is that by being there you are making a difference.

You know, also I don't know, justice work takes a long time. I think that's kind of the thing. I've been feeling really just young and nave in the aftermath of this election. Young people are always hopeful and we're just like "If I make enough noise or give enough money or whatever things will change." But I think that if you start looking at a lot of historical social justice movements and seeing how long it actually takes to do things, even people who do incredible work can watch all of it get dismantled by the ushering in of a new kind of regime. It's going to be a constant struggle. You don't just win and then, you know, you rest on your laurels and you're like "Next issue, please." It's like no, we are constantly waging a war on 10,000 fronts. On some level that is really discouraging but on another level it's also a little comforting because you know it takes time and most likely it will maybe take your whole life.

(34:05)

Ann: Yeah. And asking questions about oh, what is this really going to do? And those kinds of thoughts that creep in really easily when you are in a period of opposition and organizing and rebuilding. I think it's also important to recognize that that is something that everybody feels. You know, getting past that feeling of this won't make a difference is . . . I don't know that anyone that's taken any action ever hasn't had to get past that.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: The world is setup to be self-perpetuating. You know what I mean? It's like . . . yeah. [Laughs]

Aminatou: No, totally. This weekend I rewatched How to Survive a Plague.

Ann: Oh wow, yeah.

Aminatou: Speaking of really just depressing documentaries, which is about AIDS activism. Everybody probably has a lot to learn from AIDS activists. It's the way they just really put their lives on the line and so many people died. You know, like hearing from these people who are like "All of my friends died and we're still here," and seeing how long it took for them to actually get things done and how long it took for the country to move forward in the face of just presidents being awful about AIDS policy in general.

Ann: And that's a really good example.

Aminatou: Read a lot about some historical movements and see where that nets you collectively and just, yeah, it's like on one hand deal with your own shit and self-esteem issues and anxiety are real and they will affect you in a lot of areas of your life. And really they're a thief of joy, you know, in the sense that they make you feel like you have nothing to give and that's just a lie.

Ann: Such a lie.

Aminatou: This work takes a long time and some of us are going to have to live with the fact that some of the things you want to happen you might not be alive for. But as MLK says the arc of history bends towards justice, so you keep hope but you cannot take it personally if justice does not come in your time.

(36:08)

Ann: But the thing about that quote too that I always want to add to it, and I'm like I cannot even believe I'm about to be a P.S. to MLK, but . . .

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: It's not just . . . I always hated that that quote is phrased in terms of passive voice, like the arc bends. It's like no, we have to bend the arc. It's not like the arc of history just naturally bends.

Aminatou: No, obviously.

Ann: I know, but I don't think that's obvious to a lot of people. People say that quote in terms of like . . . I hear it a lot in the context of gay rights particularly, but in a lot of areas, I think that that quote is seen differently maybe by people who are more marginalized versus people who are less marginalized. And I think that sometimes it's used as an excuse for it's all going to go well eventually.

Aminatou: It's just going to happen?

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Oh, no.

Ann: And I know that's not how you mean it for sure. I'm just like that kind of touched a button that I've felt as I've seen it circulated recently. Yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah, I mean not to be this person but lazy people say that and think that.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: And here you have somebody who is really thoughtful and concerned about kind of their place. It's like your place in the world and your place in making the world a better place.

Ann: Right, and is not lazy.

Aminatou: Is not lazy, you know? But I think that one thing we are all nave about, especially people our age, is that you think that if you work hard you will be rewarded. You know, that's kind of the promise of millennial America. But some things we really are just laying the foundation for. It's like the hope that it will be better for other generations. It might be really awful for us, but if we don't do something about it those other generations don't stand a fighting chance.

Ann: Right. And getting comfortable with maybe the work is the reward. Like all you get for the work is the ability to say I tried really hard for something that I believe in and I tried really hard for these people that I care about. That is what you get to say. It's not like it feels great to think that things are moving so slowly you might never see progress or that it all feels so tiny and incremental. But I take a lot of comfort in -- and this is probably personality-driven too -- the feeling of I really did what I could.

(38:15)

Aminatou: Yeah, you know? And there's also for me this feeling of even though I've been racked by terrible anxiety dreams and just awful panic attacks, it's just knowing that I feel good about my ethics, you know? And I feel good about the kind of life I want to lead and how I want to love my friends and love my community and love my neighbors. And I could not live with myself if I didn't hold certain of the beliefs that I did and fought for them. And I think that there is also -- some of it is that too. It's like god, can you really live in the mirror with being a passive person during this kind of time? And some people can and it's like God bless. Other people can't. And you have to protect the values that you care about.

Ann: Ugh. Sorry, I'm just sitting with that for a minute.

Aminatou: It's going to be okay. Thanks listener.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Hopefully you feel better. And I'm not kidding. It's like if you go to therapy, talk to your therapist about CBT therapy. It might could change your life.

Ann: Oh my god, do it.

[Music]

Ann: You can find us many, many places on the Internet including our website callyourgirlfriend.com. You can download this podcast anywhere you like to get your favorite podcasts. If you use iTunes we would love a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or send us an email at callyrgf@gmail.com. You find us on Facebook -- look it up yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a voicemail, which we love voicemails, at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.

Aminatou: See you on the Internet, booboo.

Ann: See you on the Internet.