It’s Been a Minute : NPR

JOAN: Hey, y’all. You’re listening to IT’S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I’m Joan (ph), Tracie’s aunt. And today on the show, Bad Bunny puts Puerto Rican politics on the world stage, plus the marriage of Black and Jewish foods and what brings them together. All right. Here’s the show.


Hey, y’all. You’re listening to IT’S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I’m your guest host, Tracie Hunte. The other day, I was listening to the new Bad Bunny album, “Un Verano Sin Ti.”


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

HUNTE: And I noticed something kind of amazing. The album only just came out in May, but every song had been streamed hundreds of millions of times. If you do that math, the world has collectively listened to Bad Bunny for 733 years in the past four months alone.


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

HUNTE: It’s official. The biggest artist in the world right now comes from Puerto Rico. And when you dig into his music and what he stands for, the island is very close to his heart.


BAD BUNNY: Puerto Rico.


HUNTE: Bad Bunny is now on a world tour. But before he left home, he threw three nights of sold-out parties for his people. He also used those nights to bring up some of the biggest political issues facing Puerto Ricans – gentrification, power outages and women and trans rights.


BAD BUNNY: (Rapping in Spanish).

YARIMAR BONILLA: He does whatever he wants (laughter).

HUNTE: That’s Yarimar Bonilla, a political anthropologist from Puerto Rico.

BONILLA: But I think in a place that doesn’t have sovereignty, in a place that can’t choose its destiny, that can’t do what it wants, having sovereignty, bodily autonomy, the right to speak the language that you want, the right to, like, curse out who you want – that’s not nothing. That is politics.


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

HUNTE: Today, Yarimar and I are digging into Bad Bunny’s Puerto Rico, looking at what he stands for and what he wants for the island. And bear with me in this conversation. My Spanish is a work in progress.


BAD BUNNY: Puerto Rico (speaking Spanish).


HUNTE: So first thing, I want to talk about these three nights of parties that Mr. Bad Bunny had in Puerto Rico. What were these parties exactly? Like, what was – you know, what did he do?

BONILLA: First of all, party is the right – he would be happy that you described it as a party because he said many times, this is not a concert – (speaking Spanish) party. And so I think what he wanted and the way people felt, it was like a (speaking Spanish), a kind of popular, national gathering. So there was a venue that was sold out for three nights, but there were also public plazas where, you know, what was happening in the venue was presented on, like – on large screens. There was also – at all sorts of bars and (speaking Spanish), as we call it, people just had the TVs tuned in because the concert itself was all transmitted live on Puerto Rican television. And so he said he wanted to throw a big party and for everyone in Puerto Rico to be able to attend.

HUNTE: Yeah. And what moments kind of stood out for you?

BONILLA: I think just the very beginning, just, like, when it began, the way he walked out and just, you know, declared, here I am.


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

BONILLA: Within the first five minutes there were so many bleeps…

HUNTE: (Laughter).

BONILLA: …Because, you know, Bad Bunny’s songs, they have a lot of curse words and a lot of sexual references. And so I think there was a kind of immediate, like, oh, my God, this is happening. This is on…

HUNTE: Right.

BONILLA: …Like, very – what is usually very conservative, you know, mainstream local television. Suddenly, there were all these curse words, but also all this vernacular, you know, just the way people speak in everyday language. And there were all these different, you know, racialized bodies and also different representations of femininity and masculinity. And the music is also – I think even though Bad Bunny’s the No. 1 global streaming musical artist, there’s still people in Puerto Rico who clutch their pearls at reggaeton. Like, it’s still kind of not the mainstream music and not what you’re used to seeing on TV.

HUNTE: I know that during the show he said…


BAD BUNNY: (Speaking Spanish).

HUNTE: …My dream is that all those who are present here, who have the genuine desire to live forever in Puerto Rico can achieve it. And that seems like such a simple thing to want. Why has that dream become so unreachable for so many Puerto Ricans?

BONILLA: I agree with you. It seems so simple, and yet it is so out of reach for so many of his generation who feel like they – with the debt crisis and everything, they can’t find jobs. Or they feel like in order to have a fulfilling career, you know, and to achieve what they want professionally, they have to leave – or to raise their families. You know, there is a crisis of schools in Puerto Rico. Just today I saw the headlines, like, some mayors want to take over the schools because the local government has just abandoned the schools, and there are schools that have been closed for over two years because they were affected by earthquakes and they weren’t repaired and then they were closed during COVID – and so just giving your kids a education. So I think a lot of people feel like they have to choose between their career, their family and living where they want to live and being with their people.

HUNTE: Yeah, yeah.

BONILLA: And so while Puerto Ricans feel like they can’t make their lives there, the government is not working on making Puerto Rico more livable for residents but instead is trying to attract foreigners to come, particularly folks from the U.S. who then don’t have to pay taxes when they move to Puerto Rico. And many of these folks are incredibly wealthy, and so they don’t need a public education system. They don’t need public hospitals, you know?

HUNTE: Right.

BONILLA: And so that’s the kind of folks that are being attracted to a place where there is decreasing public services and decreasing infrastructure every day.

HUNTE: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because people from mainland U.S. have been coming to Puerto Rico, claiming these beaches are private property when they build their condos on the beach. And Puerto Ricans have been holding protest on the beaches. They even took away construction materials from one beach after a judge declared that construction illegal. And just to say, the idea of even trying to own a beach just feels like a very American sentiment. Like, how do you own ocean and sand? But whatever. So, how are Puerto Ricans resisting attempts to create what you call in your column, Puerto Rico without Puerto Ricans?

BONILLA: Yeah, that phrase of Puerto Rico without Puerto Ricans. It’s a phrase that came from – I don’t know if you remember – in 2019, when people marched in the streets to get rid of the governor, there was a leaked chat between the governor and his friends. And one of the folks on the chat, he said, oh, I’ve seen the future, and it’s beautiful. There are no Puerto Ricans. So – and he’s never been held accountable for that, so we…

HUNTE: Wait, the governor said that…

BONILLA: …Can only guess what he means.

HUNTE: …Or one of the governor’s friends?

BONILLA: One of his staff members – you know? – someone that was working…

HUNTE: Someone who’s working for the…

BONILLA: …For the Puerto Rican government…

HUNTE: Right, yeah.

BONILLA: …Yeah, said that. And so, you know, people have associated that with the government’s efforts to bring, you know, non-Puerto-Ricans to live in Puerto Rico. Like, that’s the future that they imagine. If you think about a lot of the fantasies when you look at travel brochures, it’s always empty beaches, you know? It’s always tapping into this colonial mentality of, like, come and conquer this untouched land, you know?

HUNTE: Land, yeah.

BONILLA: And Puerto Rican beaches aren’t empty. They’re full of people with radios, with food, with big, you know, big pots of rice and beans.


BONILLA: Like, as Puerto Rico gets marketed more and more to outsiders, there’s an attempt to create – to turn Puerto Rico into that tourist fantasy of the untouched private beach – you know, the secluded beach. That’s what people want. And when they arrive, they can’t find it. They find beaches full of Puerto Ricans, yeah (laughter).

HUNTE: So we can look at his lyrics. And on his song “El, Apagon,” he raps, saying, damn it, another blackout. Let’s go to the bleachers and light up a blunt before I give Pipo a slap.


BAD BUNNY: (Rapping in Spanish).

BONILLA: Puerto Rico is the only place where he has to travel and set up a gazillion generators to be able to have his show ’cause he can’t trust the electric company. And so the inability to have constant power affects everyone, including him, right? And so I think, you know, he talks to us like he’s part of our community. So, Pipo would be a nickname for Pedro Pierluisi, who is the governor. And so he’s kind of like, let me go smoke a blunt and chill out so I don’t, you know, go wild on this dude (laughter).


BAD BUNNY: (Rapping in Spanish).

HUNTE: You know, reggaeton is historically hypermasculine. But in Bad Bunny, we have an artist who paints his nails. You know, he dressed in drag for his music video “Yo Perreo Sola.” Is he doing something radical in Puerto Rico?

BONILLA: Yes. I think now we’ve gotten our heads around it. It’s been a couple of years. You know, it is possible for him to do all this gender-bending because, at the end of the day, he is a straight, light-skinned male, you know? And he has talked about it, and he has recognized and has taken on more of an ally role, you know? And his concert in Puerto Rico – he was very purposeful about bringing all female artists and trans artists on stage with him, in addition to bringing the old-school reggaeton dudes, as well.

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: But I think he’s the right person at the right time, arriving with this anti-sexist message. He says that machismo is just old-fashioned. It’s just, like, embarrassing. He’s like, oh, that’s just, like, pathetic and sad for you.

HUNTE: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah.

BONILLA: You know, come on now. The thing is that he doesn’t do it in a kind of didactic, scold-y (ph) kind of way. He’s just like, oh, that’s so passe…

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: …To be, like, straight and boring and, you know – he’s like, and why would you limit your outfit choices to the men’s department? That’s just sad, you know?

HUNTE: Yeah. Yeah. He has made trans issues, like, a big part of his platform. As you know, he performed on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” and he wore a shirt that read (speaking Spanish), which in English means, they killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt. Why do you think this issue, in particular, has been so important to him?

BONILLA: Well, I think it’s important in Puerto Rico. You know, we – there was a crisis of femicides that was declared. And there’s – there has been also a crisis of trans violence and, you know, a real push for people to recognize that, you know? And then in the case that he referenced at the Jimmy Fallon show, the person who was killed self-identified as a trans woman, but the police described them when they were killed as a man wearing women’s clothing. And so a lot of people really pushed back on that. And so it was really lovely for him to say, no, she – you know, she wasn’t a man in women’s clothing. She was a woman. Her name was Alexa.

And I think it has resonated with a lot of young people, both queer but also straight people who feel constrained by the conservativism of Puerto Rican society. The power structure in Puerto Rico has traditionally been straight and light-skinned and conservative. You know, it’s a time of transformation in Puerto Rico. Along with the political transformations and the recovery from all our disasters, there is also these identarian struggles that are happening. And I think he speaks to all of that.

HUNTE: Yeah. I mean, we were talking about machismo earlier. And, you know, as much as he uses his platform to talk about progressive politics, you know, he’s, at the same time, still kind of engaging in some toxic masculinity, like his song “Soy Peor,” where he sings – once again, bad translation – I have the white girl that gives me lap dances, the rocker girl who I stick it in with my Vans, the dark girl, the blonde girls, the models, da da da da da (ph). Can he, like, embody the traditional machismo of reggaeton and push those boundaries? Like, can he authentically do both?

BONILLA: So I think – “Soy Peor,” that was one of his first hits. And he says he’s evolved, whatever. But if you look at the current album…

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: …I’m just like, let’s talk about the current album.

HUNTE: Current album.

BONILLA: On the current album, he has the song about Andrea…


BAD BUNNY: (Rapping in Spanish).

BONILLA: …Which is, like, an amazing song about what it’s like to be a beautiful young woman in Puerto Rico, constantly harassed, who just wants to live her life…

HUNTE: Right.

BONILLA: …You know? Such a – a song from a female perspective that’s so beautiful. But – and you also have a song like “Yo No Soy Celoso,” where he says, I’m not a jealous type, but who the hell are you talking to over there? Who’s that?


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

BONILLA: He goes back and forth. He’s like, I’m not jealous. But who’s that?

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: I don’t want to be machista. And he says, like, (speaking Spanish), like, I’m just going to slap myself, you know?

HUNTE: Right.


BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

BONILLA: You get the sense of someone who’s like, this is toxic masculinity, and I don’t want to do it…

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: …You know? So he’s kind of, like, dealing with those feelings. I do think that his songs center women’s pleasure. You know, so it’s not just about women being objects of male pleasure. There is definitely a sexualization of women and a celebration still of, you know, traditional femininity also, you know? It’s like, your beautiful, big butt is like – you know – what – all the songs about women is never about how smart they are.


HUNTE: Never. Never. We don’t write about…

BONILLA: Well, except…

HUNTE: We don’t write songs about smart girls. No. No one does.

BONILLA: Well, except “Andrea.” “Andrea,” he says she’s smart like a Tesla.



BONILLA: But mostly it’s about, like, how beautiful and how great she is at oral sex and things like that, you know?


BONILLA: Sorry, NPR listeners.


BONILLA: So he challenges machismo while celebrating promiscuity.

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: You know? And so…

HUNTE: You know, I was talking to a friend about the fact that, you know, among Puerto Ricans, everybody calls him Benito. And I was saying – you know, she was like, well, that’s his name. And I was like, yeah, but it sounds like you’re talking about your little cousin. Like – (laughter) – whenever you say Benito, it’s like, you know, your little knucklehead cousin down the street. And I feel like that’s part of that, like, relation, like, you know, that people feel, like, warmly enough that he’s not Bad Bunny necessarily. He’s Benito.

BONILLA: And he does feel like a cousin.

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: I had a friend who said, you know, I just feel – I feel like he’s just that cousin who made it big and doesn’t have time to answer your text anymore. But you’re not mad ’cause you know he’s busy.

HUNTE: Right.

BONILLA: You know?


HUNTE: I love that. I love that.

BONILLA: I think a lot of us, we feel that familiarity, partly because we know his history and we feel like we know him. Like, people say to me – they say, oh, you’re a big fan of Bad Bunny. I’m like, it’s not that I’m a fan. It’s that I just love him.


BONILLA: I just care – I just wish the best for him, you know?

HUNTE: You just – yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

BONILLA: But – and we love how he represents us, how he’s always so proud to be Puerto Rican. We love how he always speaks in Spanish without any embarrassment. And when he’s asked about it, his responses are so refreshing ’cause he says, you know, gringo artists have done this forever. They travel the world and speak in English wherever they’re interviewed. So I travel the world and speak in Spanish…

HUNTE: Right.

BONILLA: …Wherever I’m interviewed. And it’s like, oh. You know, like, he makes it seem…

HUNTE: Yeah.

BONILLA: …So simple. Or sing about different things – like he’s still singing about, you know, going shopping at the local mall in Puerto Rico or going to the local beach and going to the west side of the island. His lyrics are so rooted in Puerto Rican daily life, and yet they resonate with the world, I think precisely because they’re so authentic to a specific experience. People seem to like it even if they’re not from Puerto Rico.

HUNTE: Yarimar, thank you so much. This was such a great conversation. I’m so glad that we got to chat.

BONILLA: Thank you. Any time.

HUNTE: Yarimar Bonilla is a political anthropologist and the director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. We’re going to take a quick break. And when we get back, we’re exploring “Koshersoul,” the marriage of Black and Jewish foods and what unites them. We’ll be right back.


HUNTE: All I want to do right now is sit on a beach in Barbados and eat a fried flying fish sandwich. If there’s a greater joy to be had in this world, I haven’t met it. This is my favorite thing to do when I visit my family in Barbados, and it’s not an experience easily replicated anywhere else. First of all, it has to be made by this one lady who sets up her cart at the beach. She fries the fish to order and then tops it with a vinegary green cabbage and onion salad, pepper sauce, mayo and ketchup. And although flying fish is abundant in Caribbean waters, it’s mostly only eaten by Bajans. And you’re not going to find it in most grocery stores up here in New York City.

It’s sometimes frustrating how food is fixed in a location, a memory, an experience not easily reached. But food also ties you to your history, your heritage and your family. We are what we eat, after all. My next guest, Michael W. Twitty, has deeply researched his food histories and wants us to think more about our own. His latest book is called “Koshersoul.”

MICHAEL W TWITTY: “Koshersoul” is about my journey in the world of Jewish peoplehood, but it’s also about the food cultures of the African-Atlantic and Jewish diasporas in conversation with each other.

HUNTE: I talked to Michael about how survival, care and resistance are baked into food and why sharing our knowledge of foods with one another is so important.

So I think a lot of people would look at your recipes and call what you, do, like, fusion – like, Black-Jewish fusion food – but you don’t seem to like that word. You wrote, sometimes two food traditions have nothing to say to each other. Other times they cannot shut up as they make love. What do you think Black food and Jewish food have to say to each other?

TWITTY: A lot. It’s a lot about migration and exile. I think there’s a tendency to think of Jewish as one thing and Black as another thing. And many people in the Jewish diaspora, their relationship with the Americas was negotiated and navigated by the communities of African descent. To be Jewish is a constant negotiation with the place we’re from, the place we’re going. And to be African American, to be African-Atlantic, is a very similar thing.

So if you consider the fact that these two diasporas have been in many of the same places at the same time, how could they not cook together? How could they not eat together? How could they not have same ingredients and some of the same leanings and troubles and understandings? So unraveling all of that is what “Koshersoul” really is centered in.

HUNTE: I mean, so personally, for you, how have you brought them together?

TWITTY: It’s the smells. It’s the mortar and pestle. There’s the hot comb (ph) positioned like a mezuza, which is what we put on our doors, that my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had. You know, it’s encouraging that energy of the cooks that came before me, whether I knew them or not, to be in that space and cook with me.

HUNTE: Yeah. Yeah. I’m from Barbados, and I’m thinking about something called cou-cou, which is like fufu…

TWITTY: Right, right, right, right, right.

HUNTE: …Kind of the same idea. And most people make it with just this thin, long paddle-looking thing to, like, whip it up and everything. And when you were talking in your book about, like, how – like, having a sacred kitchen and the things in your kitchen, like, you know, being sacred, I kept thinking of, like, the cou-cou stick because it feels like if you have one in your home, that identifies you as a Bajan home.

TWITTY: I have a banku stick, which is the same thing.

HUNTE: Oh, OK. I have to look that up.

TWITTY: And by the way, there were Jews who came in refuge, but also for opportunity…

HUNTE: Yeah, yeah.

TWITTY: …Places where enslavement was running the show. And part of the Jewish food of Curacao, lo and behold, is cou-cou and fungee.

HUNTE: Oh, wow. If you want to imbue your kitchen with sacredness or your cou-cou stick or your waffle maker with sacredness, like, how would you do that?

TWITTY: You know, when I have the hot comb in the kitchen, like, hung up like a mezuza, the kitchen was the place where, you know, our matriarchs did their hair. It’s the pictures of the ancestors.

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: I have an Asafo flag in my kitchen from Ghana, where it depicts, like, banku and fufu in the market. But also, it’s where my mother’s recipe is preserved in her hand and where, you know, I teach the younger generation things that I learned. It’s meaning. It’s importance, symbolism.

HUNTE: Yeah. You know, Jewish food does have a lot of rules. You write, like, part of that comes from a desire to be pure and to connect to food traditions that have been passed down for generations. But, like, there’s obviously attention when it comes to introducing new kinds of food into the Jewish cookbook, so to say – basically, how you end up with, like, kosher jerk chicken. What is a rule that you follow with conviction?

TWITTY: Well, I mean, there’s 613, so I guess I have a lot to follow with conviction.

HUNTE: (Laughter). Six hundred thirteen. If you told, me, like a hundred, I would have been like, oh, OK, yeah, that’s – but 613’s blowing my mind a little bit (laughter).

TWITTY: And it’s all the Mitzvot, all the commandments – they’re kind of, like, holistically linked. Jewish peoplehood isn’t really centered in the idea that we all – all of us follow the rules all the time. It’s more centered in the idea that we understand that there are rules.

HUNTE: Yeah (laughter).

TWITTY: But for me, like, Passover, I guess- I’m machmir of the machmir on Passover. I’m like – dude, no joke, I foil down my counters and cover them with plastic and blowtorch.

HUNTE: Wait. What are you blowtorching?

TWITTY: You blowtorch the stove and the sink. You have to get rid of every single possible crumb of bread or leavened anything before you can use that kitchen for Pesach. I’m telling you the feeling of coming down the stairs to see your gleaming kitchen before it gets completely wrecked making dinner for three days the morning before Passover is the most satisfying thing you’ll have.

HUNTE: Right.

TWITTY: I mean, it’s like the Jewish equivalent of, like, the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.


TWITTY: Just coming downstairs and saying, oh my gosh, how beautiful, how clean my kitchen looks.

HUNTE: The Jewish Christmas tree is a beautiful, clean kitchen.



HUNTE: So I’m glad you brought up Passover because my next question is about the Seder plate. And you write, like, this really beautiful description of the kosher soul Seder plate that you use. Can you just – for our listeners who are unfamiliar, can you explain what a Seder plate is and how you’ve designed your kosher soul Seder plate?

TWITTY: A Seder plate is the central ritual object on Passover. It tells a story through five to six specific ingredients. So one of which is the hard-boiled egg, which symbolizes the spring, and the lamb shank, which symbolizes the simple sacrifices, and charoset, which is a mixture of fruit, nuts and spice. And so all these symbols, really, are part of telling the Passover story. So it’s a symbol of liberation, exodus, resistance. And so for me, mine has okra, symbolizes African heritage. There’s the chicken bone instead of the lamb’s shank bone ’cause of the relationship between chicken and African-Atlantic spiritualities. And you can keep going. I mean, you could put bammy on there if you’re Jamaican. You could put callaloo in it. Collard greens or my maror – you could put callaloo in those if you want to. Saltwater in both traditions. Here, it’s saltwater – the tears of the Israelites. In here, it’s the tears of the enslaved but also the waters of the Middle Passage.

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: But the idea here is that people should be able to see themselves in this very universal narrative. It is meant to be shared by all people who find themselves oppressed, marginalized and exiled.

HUNTE: Yeah. One of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere is in Barbados. It was built in the 1650s by Sephardic Jews who were escaping Portuguese persecution in Brazil, and they brought their expertise and sugar to Barbados, which means they made a living enslaving my ancestors. And you talk about this, like, painful, complicated history of Black-Jewish relationships in your book. For people who want to learn about this food and cook this food but don’t want to paper over that frankly terrible history, what do you say to them?

TWITTY: It’s a lot of twists and turns and complications. There’s also an incredible book called “Once We Were Slaves” by a Jewish scholar that talks about, basically, people who were formerly enslaved in Barbados who were the children of their masters, who were liberated and sent to New York and became, basically, the patriarchs and matriarchs of one of New York’s prominent Jewish families. They were mixed-blood people of African descent. There were Black people who were enslaved, who were Jewish. We still see Black people with names like Levi and Cahn (ph). But there were multiple rabbis that lost their jobs and were ran out of town because they said slavery was wrong.

In some of the same spaces that, you know, had – a generation before had supported the slave trade through the membership like Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. A generation later, these same spaces were being used to harbor people who were running away from enslavement. It’s a very complex narrative, especially coming from a people where we have the saying, now we were slaves. Next year, may we be free. But I also say this. Judaism is interesting in that among all of these faith traditions, it is also the one that makes room for things that are problematic. In Judaism, we say we wrestle with God. Do we choose to make the world a better place? Do we choose to commit acts of tikkun olam, or world repair? That’s what’s on us. And so I really value that.

HUNTE: So you’ve talked about how food alone won’t save us. You know, just because someone likes Black, southern food doesn’t mean that they respect the people making the food. It needs to be deeper.

TWITTY: You know, just because they want everything to be white doesn’t mean they don’t want no black pepper in their food.

HUNTE: Right (laughter).

TWITTY: Dude, look, you need some garlic powder, some Lori’s. You need some adobo. All of it.

HUNTE: All of it.

TWITTY: All of it – some hot sauce, I mean, all of it.

HUNTE: All of it. So on the flip side, how can people connect to history to have that deeper experience when they cook the food of certain cultures?

TWITTY: The way in which so many people – they don’t understand the issue of appropriation. They go, meh, if I’m eating your food that means I’m crediting you. You ain’t doing nothing for me unless you writing reparations checks.

HUNTE: (Laughter) Yes.

TWITTY: Unless the check is already in the mail, certified, signed, sealed, delivered like Stevie Wonder on Obama’s election night, it ain’t going nowhere. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about actual, real conversation. Those conversations, those allyships (ph), that hard work that led to aspects of our liberation and ongoing liberation now were built on people saying, hey, I want to talk to you. That’s how it works. It’s not just, you know, big men and big women in big places that make great pronouncements and lead the people. It’s everyday people like you and me who decide to break down those walls and say, all right, I’m tired of feeling so isolated and vulnerable. We have to work together as a community. And it doesn’t always work. We know it doesn’t always work. But by God, we live in a better world because somebody made that decision to say, let’s talk, let’s share some bread, and let’s work through our issues.

HUNTE: Yeah. You know, something that resonates with you is legacy. What kind of food legacy do you hope to leave behind?

TWITTY: I guess I want to leave behind that conversation. You know, I would love to do a folk school. Folk schools taught everything from nonviolent resistance to some of the folk culture and storytelling and music. And I want to do the same for food and growing things and using those things as a means of resistance.

HUNTE: Well, how would we use these things as means of resistance?

TWITTY: I mean, the very fact that you and I said cou-cou and fungie means that somebody in heaven is laughing…

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: …Because the buckra didn’t get all of it. The resistance is real. We’re living it. We’re also telling our stories on our own terms. That’s resistance. When we make our food and we tell the story of how the food got there, we’re repeating our history. Being able to know your own history and tell your own story and pass on to the next generation but also affirm that this is who you are. This is who I am. And this is the ground on which we stand and the shoulders we stand on.

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: That’s where it starts. Now, where it goes to is decolonizing the diet.

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: But we should never take for granted our storytelling, our resistance against amnesia because once you know that you ain’t got no excuse, once you know that it doesn’t have to be this way, once you know that it could have gone down a whole different way…

HUNTE: Yeah.

TWITTY: …There’s a different kind of anger that comes from that, a different kind of spirit of, OK, I’m ready to fight now.


HUNTE: Thank you so much, Michael. It was really great talking to you.

TWITTY: Thank you, my sister. I appreciate you.

HUNTE: Thanks again to Michael W. Twitty. His new book, “Koshersoul,” is out now. Up next, Who Said That with my group chat. Stick around.


HUNTE: We’re back. And I’m here with Alana Casanova-Burgess. She’s a producer and the host of La Brega from WNYC and Futuro Studios.


HUNTE: And Rebeca Ibarra, host and producer of “The Refresh” from Insider.

REBECA IBARRA, BYLINE: Hi, Tracie. Hi, Alana.

HUNTE: And I’m so excited because not only are these women fantastic journalists and radio makers, they’re also two of my closest friends.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: It’s the group chat come to life.

HUNTE: Whenever I feel like I haven’t gotten enough attention in my life, I will open up the group chat and start making a voice memo. And then you guys pay attention to me, and it’s great.

IBARRA: Listeners, the record is eight minutes for a voice memo.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: No, no, no, no – 10, 10, 10.

HUNTE: It’s 10.


HUNTE: We’ve had a 10-minute voice memo.

IBARRA: Never mind, I stand corrected (laughter).

HUNTE: And it – and I believe it was from me.


CASANOVA-BURGESS: I think that’s accurate. That’s accurate.

HUNTE: (Laughter).

IBARRA: It was delightful.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Nobody wants to hear about this.

HUNTE: No one wants to hear about this. But, OK, we’re super close. We’re buddies. We’re chismosas. But are you two willing to set all that aside and compete?

IBARRA: Absolutely.


HUNTE: So we’re here to play a game called Who Said That.


KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

HUNTE: OK. Here are the rules. I’ll share a quote you might have heard in the news this week. You have to guess who said that or what it’s about. There are no buzzers. Just yell out the answer. There are zero prizes, just bragging rights and the title of queen of the group chat.


HUNTE: Please be aware – I will clown you if you get zero points (laughter).

CASANOVA-BURGESS: I’m sorry, you didn’t tell me that before I said yes.

HUNTE: You’re hearing it now. OK. For this one, you can tell me who said this or who it’s about.


HUNTE: Blank is the son I’ve never had. He’s a charming boy who’s finding his way.


IBARRA: It sounds like something Matt Gaetz would say in a very creepy way, but it’s probably not Matt Gaetz.


HUNTE: No, it’s not Matt Gaetz.


HUNTE: The person who said this is a very close personal friend to Snoop Dogg.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Oh – Martha – Martha Stewart.


HUNTE: Alana, you get it. OK, yes.


HUNTE: So that was Martha Stewart. Apparently, last Friday, The Daily Mail asked her if she was going to be Pete Davidson’s new girlfriend because there was a picture of them floating around holding hands at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Oh, my God. Amazing.

HUNTE: And she basically said she finds him delightful. So in my book, she didn’t deny that she is not dating Pete Davidson.

IBARRA: He’s going to have such good meals. I’m jealous.


CASANOVA-BURGESS: This is like a meme…

HUNTE: Well, I think – well, Pete Davidson is definitely a meme boyfriend at this point.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HUNTE: You know, he’s just dating all these amazing women. And, I mean, obviously, why wouldn’t Martha Stewart snatch him up?

IBARRA: She can. She will. She has – maybe. You heard it here first.


HUNTE: All right, so number two – OK, you have to tell me who said this one, all right?


HUNTE: No, you can’t just let it flow. The crew is – you know, you’re not on your own in a hotel room. You’re being hounded by a bunch of blokes carrying things. I don’t know who the actor was, but maybe he had an intimacy coordinator accidentally at home.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: I need a hint. I’m terrible at this game.

HUNTE: A major clue is the fact that this person said bloke.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Yeah, yeah, yeah…

HUNTE: …So this is a British person. I’ll give you a hint. She’s a dame.

IBARRA: Dame Judi Dench?





IBARRA: (Laughter).

HUNTE: I’ll give you one more hint. She played a nurse, a homeless woman and an angel in an HBO miniseries.

IBARRA: Oh, man.

HUNTE: Rebeca, I really thought you would get this.

IBARRA: “Angels in America” – I know, I know. But I’m completely blanking on her name.

HUNTE: Sorry, Rebeca. It’s Emma Thompson.

IBARRA: Oh, my God.

HUNTE: I love Rebeca. You were just like – I know it. I just…

IBARRA: Yeah, I was picturing her haircut. You know, that short blonde bob?

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Yep, yep, yep.

HUNTE: Yes, so that’s Emma Thompson. She was responding to actor Sean Bean, who last week said that having intimacy coordinators spoil the spontaneity of scripted sex scenes.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Does he know the option – there’s an option to just not say anything.

HUNTE: There is an option to not just say anything. I did read that quote last week, and it was so distressing to think about him, like, letting it flow in a work environment because they’re workers, not lovers.

IBARRA: He’s like, listen, let’s just wing it. Who knows – who knows what’ll happen? That’s part of the excitement.

HUNTE: It’s like, no, no. All right, OK, so this is a two-parter. It’s worth two points. First, someone needs to fill in the blank, and then – and tell me who said it.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Oh my God, it’s like an algebra question.

HUNTE: After much thought, were saddened to share that we have separated and will begin the process of divorcing. To the blank family and Netflix, thank you for this unforgettable…


HUNTE: …Opportunity and support.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: “Love is Blind.”


HUNTE: “Love is Blind” and who is talking?

IBARRA: Oh, the two people I just…

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Didn’t I just put this in the group chat?


HUNTE: I know. This is why this is hilarious.

IBARRA: I never know the names of the couple of “Love is Blind,” but she is adorable.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Oh, my God. She’s adorable.

IBARRA: She’s pint-sized, and he’s mega tall.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: She’s so teeny.

IBARRA: Honestly, she’s better than him.

HUNTE: Right.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Oh, my God, 100%. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HUNTE: All right, so Alana gets one point.

IBARRA: I get zero. It’s fine.

HUNTE: You don’t want – you don’t want to…

IBARRA: Oh, no, I 100% don’t know their names.

HUNTE: You don’t know – (laughter).

CASANOVA-BURGESS: We just talked about this…

IBARRA: (Laughter).

HUNTE: OK, so, yes, we’re talking about – I know – this was just in the group chat. I’m so disappointed in you two.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Before this I Googled gossip to be ready for this segment.

HUNTE: You Googled gossip?

IBARRA: I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I didn’t study.


HUNTE: All right, that’s Iyanna McNeely announcing that she and Jarrette Jones are getting divorced. The two got together through Netflix’s show “Love Is Blind.” I’m a little bummed because I was rooting for them.


HUNTE: I thought they were a cute couple.

IBARRA: No, I was just rooting for her – just for her.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: I was just rooting for her. No offense to Jarrette.

HUNTE: Well, in the sense that I was rooting for her and she wanted – seemed to want Jarrett. Then yes. So I’m a little bummed, but, you know, what do you expect? These things happen.

IBARRA: Par for the course.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Don’t I know it?

HUNTE: All right, so, Alana, you won.


IBARRA: You know what? Losing has never felt so delightful. So I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for that, as well (laughter).


HUNTE: Thank you guys so much for doing this with me. I really appreciate it.

IBARRA: Thank you so much, Tracie.

CASANOVA-BURGESS: Thank you. You’ve been so great on this show.

HUNTE: Thanks Alana.

This episode was produced by Barton Girdwood, Andrea Gutierrez, Liam McBain and Jessica Mendoza. Our intern is Ehianeta Arheghan, and I want to pause for a moment to shout out Ehianeta. This is their last week with us is an intern. Ehianeta, you’ve been a vital member of our team and we will really, really miss you. Engineering support came from Andie Heuther and Kwesi Lee. We had fact checking help from Sarah Knight. Our supervising editor is Jessica Placzek. Our executive producer is Veralyn Williams. And Anya Grundmann is NPR’s senior vice president of programming.

And, listeners, this is my last week as your guest host. Hosting this show has been a highlight in my professional life. This team is amazing, and I loved hanging out with all of you these last three weeks. But I leave you in good hands. Joining the show in the coming weeks are two co-hosts you’re already familiar with – Elise Hu, who last hosted the show in June, and Andrea Gutierrez, one of the producers of IT’S BEEN A MINUTE. Thank you all for listening. I’m Tracie Hunte. Take care.

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