It’s not partisan to call out white supremacy
May 16, 2022
Episode 663

It’s not partisan to call out white supremacy

But believers of a white supremacy conspiracy tend to fall along partisan lines.

This Monday, we talk about the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, over the weekend. It’s devastated the town’s predominantly Black community in multiple ways, including its central food supply. As the nation processes the tragedy, it’s critical to call it what is: a white supremacist act. We also discuss the baby formula shortage and the consequences of a Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance laws.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

Have a question or comment about something you heard on the show? Email us at or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart May 16, 2022 transcript 

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams: I think it’s time.

Kai Ryssdal: Thus it written, thus be it done. My goodness gracious me, everybody. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart. Making today make sense is our jam.

Kimberly Adams: And I’m Kimberly Adams. Thank you for –

Kai Ryssdal: Yes, I did just say that. Thank you very much.

Kimberly Adams: I was gonna let it slide. I really was. You can have a jam. We all have jams. As a matter of fact, I got some lovely jams from our distribution team this week. I was very, very pleased with it. All right. I’m Kimberly Adams. Thank you for joining us this Monday we’re going to do the news. As grim as it is, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to bring myself for a Make Me Smile, to be perfectly honest. But uh, let’s see where we go. Okay, why don’t you start with your news fix?

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. I’ll start and I think I think probably we should pass on it make me smile. But that’s a little foreshadowing. So a couple of super quick things. And then we’ll get to Kimberly’s because Kimberly’s are the substantive news, I just want to point out a couple of things. Number one, this is from Heather Long by the FDA and at the Washington Post, is where Heather is and the FDA and a bunch of other outlets now. So Abbott and the federal government have reached a consent decree by which Abbott will begin producing again, baby formula, which is really good and which is, I can’t even imagine not being able to feed your baby, right, full stop. The catch, of course, is that the huge, huge, huge percentage like 90 something percent of all the baby formula in the United States is controlled by three companies of which Abbott controls like 40%, maybe even 48%, or something. And, and Abbott’s formula has been recalled by the FDA because of the bad bacterial substance in some of its batches, because of which two babies have been killed, died. And it just, it seems to me not the best way to solve this problem, right? We have really strict import requirements on baby formula from places as shaky as oh, Europe, and Canada. And I would just like to say that there’s a better way to do it than to go back to a known problem facility without fixing those problems. I would just like to point that out. So that’s item number one, item number two, and this from Sam Fields, our very own Samantha Fields, which I did not know. And usually I see these things, you can now order your third batch of free at home COVID tests from the Postal Service. So we’ll put the link on our show page. do that because as infections and all that jazz rise, testing, testing, testing, that’s all I’m saying. That’s a PSA for ya.

Kimberly Adams: I learned that from Sam Fields, too. I hadn’t seen it either. And then I immediately went to the site to go and get the test sent myself, my grandmother, my uncle’s, my mother and all of the other people I know. And they said, eight tests this time.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s great.

Kimberly Adams: That’s what it said. For me, at least. And so I don’t know. Maybe they just have more.

Kai Ryssdal: Anyway, so those are mine. And we will now change gears to Ms. Adams.

Kimberly Adams: I mean to the story that many of us were seeing we had several mass shootings over the weekend. Which the fact that we say that an are unsurprised says a lot about this country. And it’s hard to talk about one mass shooting in a weekend getting more attention than other mass shootings in a weekend because they’re all unbelievably tragic. But I’m going to talk mostly about the shooting in Buffalo, which I can’t believe people are calling it a racially-motivated mass shooting. The guy was a racist. He admitted he was a racist. Espoused racist ideology, shot mostly black people. And I’ve seen some amazing reporting coming out of the Buffalo News, which is where I’ve been going to get the updates because they’re local and they they know that their own community and one of the stories that I’ve heard come up in several places was that this was a food desert. And this supermarket was sort of like the community place. And they fought really hard to get the supermarket in their community. And it’s similar to, you know, just across the river for me and Anacostia. They’ve been trying so hard to get more supermarkets and grocery stores there. And they’re about to have one built. And, you know, so many communities of color are in food deserts. And so to have this this place, be so specifically targeted. And then of course, we see the normal difference in coverage for how news organizations talk about white people who commit acts of terrorism and violence in this country and people of color, who commit acts of terrorism and violence in this country. So that was unsurprising, but disappointing again. And so there are a couple of pieces that I think are really thoughtful on it on the website Andscape which used to be the Undefeated, there is a nice piece from Ken Makin about calling white supremacy by its name. And the how hard it is for many people in this country to acknowledge that white supremacy is such a violent and powerful force in this country and has been for a long time. I’m always fascinated after something like this happens at the people who are like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening in our country. This is terrible. This is awful.” And I was like, and it is usual. These sorts of acts of violence against people of color, and particularly black people in this country have been going on since the country started. They’re getting more attention now. We’re starting to have some sense of accountability. It looks like this shooter may be one of the first people charged since the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching bill was passed into law. The other let’s see, what is the other piece that I have?

Kai Ryssdal: The other piece is the Washington Post piece. That’s …

Kimberly Adams: Ah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. So people like to say at times like this, like, let’s not be partisan, Let’s, you know, all come together. But unfortunately, when it comes to some of these issues, there really is a partisan split. And it’s it’s tough to deal with that, as a reporter, you know, when we really try hard to be balanced, and you definitely don’t want to paint one party as the enemy, for sure. But the story in the Washington Post, points out that nearly – according to an Associated Press poll, nearly half of Republicans agree to at least some extent with the idea that there is a deliberate intent to replace native born Americans with immigrants, this great replacement theory that this shooter, alleged shooter espoused. And that’s that’s, that’s what the polling shows. And it is, without question that Tucker Carlson on on Fox has been pushing these conspiracy theories. And so we’re in this place in this country where our political niceties are often causing us to gloss over some of the really uncomfortable political truths. And it’s, and that relates back to that Andscape article about the fact that we do need to just start saying these things out loud. Some of us already are, some of us have been, but I think the broader country, mainly white people need to do that as well. And I saw a thread this weekend, about from somebody who was saying, you know, “I’m ready to get all of these messages when I go to work on Monday, about people who were worried about me and how I’m processing this as a Black person, and am I okay, and my response is going to be and what are you doing about it?” Because care without action doesn’t actually mean much. And so, you know, word word of warning to well-meaning individuals who want to comfort their Black friends and colleagues at this moment, unless you have a particular action that you plan on sharing with them that you’re going to do I’d tread cautiously. Huh. I have another thing do you have any thoughts you want to share?

Kai Ryssdal: Well, yeah, I have many but your your second to last point is the one that resonates for me is that that white people need to start calling this out and especially white people with a platform of which I include myself and and the idea now that somehow it reveals bias or or political leanin,  or a non-objectivity if that’s even a word. For me to say that called Tucker Carlson foments, racist hatred in this country. That’s insane. Because he says it all the time. And then this 18 year old kid goes to 4chan and all that –

Kimberly Adams: Ah but kid. That’s so interesting, kid or adult? Well, this was one of the things that came up. Somebody posted when the AP talked about Michael Brown is an 18-year-old, they called him an adult. And this time they called the shooter kid. And but this is an 18-year-old. And the AP went back and corrected it. But like, how we use language is so important around these things. Anyway, go ahead.

Kai Ryssdal: No, that’s, that’s it. I think I made my point.

Kimberly Adams: No, I cut you off. I wanted to let you finish. I’m sorry.

Kai Ryssdal: No, I think I think those are those of us with platforms need to speak out. That’s all I got.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, um, the other story that –

Kai Ryssdal: Maybe, maybe we skip the happy place sting – oh, you’re gonna do the Ted Cruz news, that’s good

Kimberly Adams: I want to do this because I can’t like not talk about it as a political reporter. The Supreme Court today, put down an opinion, not the Roe v. Wade, one that everyone’s looking for. But this was Ted Cruz versus the Federal Election Commission. And I’m sorry, the Federal Election Commission versus Ted Cruz. This basically, there’s a there’s a law that says candidates can use up to $250,000 in post-election contributions, to repay loans that they’ve personally made to their campaign before the election. So if you’re really wealthy, and you want to give your campaign, that extra boost, or you borrow money from other people, and take out a personal loan, and then donate that money to your campaign, you can keep fundraising after you win or lose, and don’t use up to $250,000 of that money you raised to pay yourself back. And Cruz wanted $260,000. Lots of people view this as just a test case. And the FEC said, No, you can only use 250. And now the court says that there shouldn’t be a limit. Now, I want to think about what that means. So that means if you are ridiculously rich, you can or even if you’re really poor, even if you’re really poor, or let’s say you’re an upstart candidate, pushing against the status quo going against incumbent, you have no money, but you believe in yourself. And you put everything you own on the line, take out a loan, a personal loan against your house, against your car, against whatever you have, and then loan that money to your campaign. If you win, or even if you don’t, you can keep fundraising to pay yourself back. Now, that’s the optimistic use of this in this ruling, the more likely consequence is that people who are already very wealthy are going to give themselves – give their campaigns a loan and then use campaign contributions to pay it off. And this is just yet another way that our campaign finance system really does cater to the wealthiest of individuals and it’s there’s gonna be a lot of takes on this once people like it sort of sinks in, but wow, wow.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Yeah. My one thought on the Supreme Court today was not about Ted Cruz. Although I agree with – I associate myself with everything my colleague, Miss Adams said about it. But the the retraumatization that’s gonna happen when the Alito opinion finally drops. Yeah, I think that’s gonna get people going all over again, as rightly it should I just, you know, anyway, that’s what I thought was coming this morning.

Kimberly Adams: Oh, yeah. I think they’re gonna probably save that to the last of the …

Kai Ryssdal: Do ya?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, because they probably will drop it and bounce.

Kai Ryssdal: And then hit the road.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. But who knows? Who knows.

Kai Ryssdal: Who knows.

Kimberly Adams: Okay. It’s really hard for me to be particularly smiley today. So instead, I’m going to just turn to the ask, which is we’re still fundraising for Marketplace and Make Me Smart. And we are able to have conversations like the one that we just had be because of the support of our audience, there’s not a lot of places where myself as a Black woman can just pontificate about how I’m feeling about these things. And have it be taken as seriously as, as I know you do Kai, and I know that my colleagues do, and then add in a dash of campaign finance, for flavor.

Kai Ryssdal: Just to satisfy the political reporter nerdy.

Kimberly Adams: Just to satisfy that. And it’s important because we do really care about public service journalism. And that’s why we have conversations about what objectivity means right now, and how we talk about these really difficult conversations that our country has to have about racism and white supremacy and abortion, and, you know, radicalization of different factions within our country. And these are important conversations to have. And so we do hope that we can get your support to keep doing this work. That’s, if you can, because we didn’t have a Make Me Smile today. We do have one thing that’s kind of uplifting related to our fundraising. That’s that’s kind of nice. Our bonus gift for the May fundraiser is actually a playlist with some chillin and kind of fun summer tracks, and I submitted a song and other Marketplace people submitted a song. And I actually thought it was appropriate that we were talking about this today, because the song that I submitted is by Stevie Wonder, and it’s a really fun, uplifting song that always makes me smile. It’s called Sir Duke. And if you think about Stevie Wonder, was also an activist, and a huge proponent of civil rights and activists within the civil rights movement. And he dealt with and saw and witnessed a lot of really terrible things. Well, you know what I mean. Experienced, I should say, and nevertheless found a way to look within himself and find joy, and make beautiful music that makes people happy, decades later, and I think that on really grim times like we’re in right now. It is important to look within ourselves to find some joy and find a way to uplift others when we can. And so whether it’s from that playlist, whether it’s from a little wine tumbler with Jasper on it, which I took, like, an inordinate amount of time this day to take photos of him with the wine tumbler just to cheer myself up. Do what you can and yeah, that’s that’s make If you can contribute, we’d be grateful.

Kai Ryssdal: We’re done for today. Anything you can give, we’d really appreciate it we are done back tomorrow with a deep dive into, oh my lord cryptocurrency. Oh my goodness, it is a mess. It’s a big mess. There’s real money and people are losing real money in this crypto mess. We’re gonna we’re gonna unpack that a little bit because I’m I’m totally fascinated by it terrified and fascinated.

Kimberly Adams: I’m so fascinated by it. We were also doing it on tech tomorrow because I was just like, I need a lot of this. Yes. And so you can send us questions. You can send us your thoughts about today’s show or any other show and you know if you have questions for our Wednesday show, whatever you can send us a voice memo or an email to, or you can call and leave us a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal: Make Me Smart is produced by Marisa Cabrera. Our intern’s Tiffany Bui. Today’s program was engineered by Drew Jostad.

Kimberly Adams: Our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar and the director of on demand is Donna Tam. Oh, man, too bad. It’s not Friday.

Kai Ryssdal: No, it’s sometimes the reality piles up. Just piles up.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah it does.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.

It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.

Donate any amount to become a Marketplace Investor and help make us smarter (and make us smile!) every day.

The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer