Heidi Stevens (#VoteHerIn, Episode 44)
You're listening to an interview with Chicago Tribune columnist Tidy Stevens on vote her in a collaboration between two broads talking politics and author Rebecca Survive. Are. You La. Everyone, this is Kelly. You're listening to a vote her in, which is a collaboration between two broads talking politics and author. Rebecca. Coming to you today shortly before Joe Biden is set to announce his VP. Pick. Alternate over to Rebecca now, who will introduce our guests high rebekah hi, Kelly and good morning and the warnings all of you who are listening where it's always thrilled with our guest today hiding Stephen columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Her column is called the Balancing Act, but it strikes me as I think about it that that doesn't really do justice to what she writes about why she's here and why we invited me here today. She consistently writes about issues that are very political in a way that shares the story of rail people's lives and experiences, and she has also in that context then very forthright about. the important of women's leadership, the importance of women in politics and not incidentally has written about the fact that Joe Biden's about to pick a woman for VPN Heidi few pick a woman of color. So we have a lot to talk about, but I wanted to say that start with we felt we might begin by the fact quote. A piece actually that Heidi wrote reviewing my book. In and thank you again for that Heidi in which she said revolutions don't happen overnight in everyday presents a new chance to act to share messages that resonate into model behavior that will mobilize other women clearly at back kind of a moment needing to mobilize. To be supportive this woman p nominee and I thought that we could therefore. So to begin by your sharing with a Heidi Y, you believe that why you think mobilization now is so important. And why you in that context focus on the issues that you do so welcome and thing. We'll thank you for having me. Elaborate for a second on the name and the column and how it has sort of shifted a little bit in its focusing missions. Since I started, it did start originally several years ago as kind of a work life balance column, I was right I'm A. I'm a young kids and focused on that had a Sophon. I do tend to focus more now. Race. Gender and politics and I would argue that they're all of a piece right because x parenting effects, children and Certainly, we have those conversations without including blind spots and by sees discrimination as they relate to grace gender if we're talking about creating a healthy equitable place for our children to prop and and for parents. All of it so I think it's all related but I, do wonder about the name of the column like does this apply? Celeste. That's just an aside. I think in the moment. So the the piece that I wrote about, how drew Biden needing to pick of vice president? WHO's a woman of color actually went ahead and set a black woman I. Think in this moment in history one, we are finally having long overdue recommend about race he someone in an executive position on that number two spot with the Lens that you have when you. Grow up in this country and live in this country and walk around in this country in black skin. Just think we do. I think that I hearken back all the time to something that of all People Sheryl Sandberg said, but it was such a great anecdote when she talked about when she were Google and didn't realize how badly they needed a pregnancy parking spots in their gigantic campus. Parking lot until she herself was pregnant and had to park. You know a gazillion miles away from the building and then walked through the heat and you know her swollen ankles and and so I just think that that's such A. Good crystallizing example of how we can be aware and read and listen and still have blind spots. Until we ourselves have lived through certain experiences right and and I think in this moment, if we're gonNA turn this rocketing in these conversations that we're finally having into some action and some lasting change Joe Biden needs a black woman next to him to guide us to that place of. Change. May, makes absolute sense I think we've all learned some of us on repre path and. The kind of thing that you're saying. Well and there's such a long list of qualified candidates. I mean I think the congress gets five down to the white can't just focus on who is qualified. Why do we have to focus on identity politics? I would argue that you can focus on both because. Shortlist of highly qualified love. US From It's. Not Either or yeah, just a quick follow up on this. But you know I there was a column in yesterday's New York. Times the fact that selecting a woman as VP candidate is hardly a revolutionary act them the rationale was. The primary duty at least for most vice-presidents is following in the footsteps of the Guy Ahead of you and saying yes or yes or doing what he asked you to do as opposed to exercise true executive power wondering why Europe Saw that article in the context for now and? It was a good article. She'd be an excellent points. I. Think this might be a little bit different partly because of Joe Biden's age Statistically higher chance of you know frankly not making drew his first four years alive and I mean certainly hope he does. But that if we're just looking at life expectancy in statistics and take the emotion out of it, and then you know in terms of him. Running for a second term also statistically lower chance because age so. Political analysts who believe that this V P pick you know has a higher than average chance of being acurite. Sometime in the next forty years. So so it it probably you know there's a chance. This person won't just be the number two the whole time and just are deferring to the number one or fluffing a the number one. But I think I think the writer made excellent points about how that position you know is sort of. Took it. Sort of you know it could be like A. A sneaky way but away in for. An leader in a way that this country has a quite admitted to being ready for in the number one spot in that number two spot you're sort of like you've got the power but not all of it and a lot of your powers geared toward making the number on look good and there's atten serving and sacrifice and. A rules that were comfortable with women playing in a way that we're not so comfortable with women. Wielding their power for executive actions were comfortable building their power to serve others were so. Good points I hope that that I I hope we could look back on that article inhabits feel. A LITTLE RETROGRADE K.. I couple months. That would make me. Back. Quick. So how do you rate a lion? As you mentioned, you started to call him about you know being about raising kids and balancing those things. But you still write a lot about family issues and challenges for children and Parents Lake. All parents in this country right now myself included you're thinking about things like how do we get kids back to school gut? How do we educate them safely? What are the kinds of messages that you really trying to sort of get a cross when when you're writing about kids and family and parents and coming together in community schooling issues, things like that way what are the things we're really trying to the kinds of stories that you're really trying to tell. Well I try to use this platform I have to give a voice to you know the the perspectives and insights in the experiences that are harder to come by right who we don't hear enough from because I think that's how we concert to better understand our communities than our neighbors and the towns and cities states we live in if we get a better sense of what it's like. To live in them for people who aren't us right and so try to seek out people who feel we don't hear enough from and then help them tell their story isn't use this platform to highlight what they're doing or how they're living, and sometimes that's just a grieving mother who lost her son do addiction or you know sometimes that's A young activists, dues you now planning a food drive that doesn't look how you'd. Expect. Young. A. Unexpected supposed under covered voices, I think. I do think that any kind of guidance. We can go. Parents, and this is partly selfishly also raising heads. I think any guidance you know if I can find authors and Therapists and educators to help us figure out how to do this parenting stuff in a way. That's peaceful on respectful and mindful of raising kids who are GonNa you know we have the world. Founder. Actually think that's seminoles important writing out there. You know sometimes there's. A little bit of. Chris strong of a word, but sometimes, there's A feeling I think among. Media critics that women tend to write the stories about family and home life and features and lifestyle stuff and you know the man's sort of got the important beat straight of like. Government Investigations and war coverage in and I feel like. What happens at home and the environment that we create for our kids up. And surround them with every day is. Is just as important as any other beat out there. So. So, for me, it's a real privilege to have this space NBA able to call on like Lisa d'amour call on. You know any sort of experts say like, how do we do this and how do we do well because we need these kids to. Solve a lot of problems we've. If you look at like a gratifying Burg's. And the end, the black lives, matter and March for our lives activists it out. It's it's the kids who are leading us on a lot of the stuff and. And we need to know how to walk alongside them and some cases guy them and others away in those So I, I really relished opportunity to read about parenting as well. Speaking of writing about parenting I, think, I mentioned this to you I was really struck by your com last week about the proposed naming, change the school in Chicago and it occurred to me that that was sort of a context in which you were talking about institutional change as well as individual learning about you know what should be the message. Symbols around us and I wondered if you could talk a bit about how you came to your we that it's important to tie these issues of You May as well as gender to in your view requisite chips in institutions sometimes let. Kids point out. Well, you know a lot of our conversations around parenting and raising kids center on white families and White Moms, and that's just an inaccurate telling of the way this country is operating right I mean not every mom obviously as white in every white, and that tends to be who we hear from and who receive pictures of in commercials and Unbe covers and and you know Mickey Kendall writes about this way more intelligently than I ever could I encourage anybody read feminism for whole whole book. That topic in particular is really poignant. You know, of course, when you`re Getting something as broad and universal as parenting because even if you're not a parent you've been parented and you're sharing world parents, I'm certainly when you're writing this new that broad. Race needs to be a part of it in my mind if you're GONNA be talking about how to do while an equitable and with an eye toward the greater good. The the story that you mentioned last week Agassi story was fascinating. There's this group of parents who want and they've been trying to review years. To get a name Agassi removed from their on Andrew Sloan, lakeview because his name for a scientists Louis CBI scientists who believed that black people and white people were two different species and fat likable were inferior to white people on his sort of pseudoscience was used to justify. Slavery in his time and and all sorts of white supremacy. You know policies that came out of slavery right and so this group appearances saying you know black and Brown children, any children really should not be. Subjective Sue walking through a building with that person's name on a be learning science or any other subjects under the name of a man whose writings were flawed and and harmful. You speak into the system. Question it was really interesting to talk to one of the band's who said that. You know so far what the principal said that is that you know we will launch this. Formal, CPS policy. For You know renaming a school or changing the name of a school and on hand that sounds lake progress. But on the other hand, hurt to this man's point. You know she said that that in itself is problematic that policy is problematic, it shouldn't come down to. Community meetings and a vote of a local school council to determine whether it's okay for kids to go to school. When the schools named for scientists, it just should be. A decision handed down may cps this person's writings are racist that's a problem. We're not going to name her school after him anymore done and so you know the I don't know what will decide but but it's interesting to talk to someone who is so. Thoughtful and vocal and assured about you know the the entire system being. This idea that we're going to debate what's What's offensive and what's Cato leave up It speaks to our broader national conversation right now about. and. Names of teams in all of it. You also talk a lot about women and leadership. We you know we started talking some about that but you know the the importance to advance women in the workplace and government and civic. Leadership. I is there was there anything in your life that that led to that to to want to be committed to advocating for women's leadership or is this something you sort of came to organically? I would say organically I certainly grew up with an example of an involved active in the community. Mom My mom is sprung environmentalists to watch you know volunteering my whole life in the environmental movement and working to save land from being developed in the town where Robin and she still does that and so I certainly had that in. The. Background or foreground it was in my home. My whole life was watching. I'm not only you know I suppose realized she had power in wielded, but also for you know. The. Invade I'm not serve like a job at a bank or something that actually. Improve the the world, the natural world around her. So I can't discount that. The influencer bats. I, think just you know there's something about journalism at least the way I learned in college and then professional practice that. Wants to see you know who the powerful held to account and power equally distributed and not abused. I. Mean. That's one of the tenets of journalism right? You're supposed to hold people accountable. and. I think early on as a college student even it it felt to me like far too often. You know women either as students or fussers or any positions of power were were being left out of those conversations. It felt to me early on. Like The prototype sort of the the example of power was male and and girls and women were sort of the extras soon in that film. Sort of off to the side. Could come and so on. When necessary But the but when we pictured authority we pictured. And that just always struck me as Ryan and I think it. You know it is what leads to. Discrimination. At is what leads to sexual harassment at leads to this culture of like you know the the manor doing the real work and the women are here to to them along and come. In when needed but also when they're not needed anymore, they need to move back out of the way and let them into back over and. And that's a little bit how. We've frames works in this country for decades and it's it's wrong. It's not it's not fair. Doesn't build. It doesn't build the best companies and businesses in. Industries for starters but. It doesn't. Lead to the healthiest families and retirement accounts, panning opportunities, and and it's just not an it also doesn't bring out the best and. We work we all were bust when we're working shoulder to shoulder and side by side we need everybody's lenses trained on the future. We need everybody's thoughts and ideas and talents and nuts when we were best and so it just has always as. Your minded and and Ryan to leave. To leave women out of those rooms where it happens I guess. If you hear cheering from faraway hiding. No surprise. I just one more reason girlfriends who are listening why I love what Heidi has say. Kelly, the two one of the things you just said was the example of power was male. You also said holding the powerful to account and in that context and in this context of Women's leadership we. Women may talent country including of big cities Chicago than we've ever had in our history and remarkably in Chicago case and African American lesbian and for those of us who? We work for Herald Washington for mayor. It's still is mind boggling but the important thing here I think is not only that this has happened and there's some progress will be slow. Is what they do when they're in office and I think going back to some of these other issues we were talking about related to. Race and change and where our country is today always wondering if if you were to whisper mayor life with your fewer to write a column thing, here's what I think. You should do what would be your goal. I think in this moment, and this is gonNA sound like a little bit of aqap but it's not i. think she should form a task force on race and I think it should. You know to be honest. She met have something like this. In the works already I was surprised to see when the Columbus Statue Didn't come down with the week before the protests were happening around the Columbus Statue. She said, you know we have a comprehensive policy working on we just haven't released it yet. I was surprised that there was a comprehensive house maybe there is something like this in the works but. Something that would address at? From. Funding the Cox two cops in school what to do with the Columbus stashes of the removal truly is temporary to. Esley lead in the water the you know overburdens deep tunnel system. All of those things are deeply rooted in the city's discriminatory has segregated past the gun violence. It's all related and I think that if she had some sort of task force that. Race would be sort of the umbrella term, but it would need to tackle all those things through the lens of racial equity with. SMART. Diverse voices with lots of different backgrounds on it I. Actually, I was super impressed with I. Know She Toni preckwinkle. Bowler. Former rivals that. I was super impressed with twenty one goals commentary the other day about statue the Tribune I just think the city is full of so many smart people with ideas if she could get him in a room to you know with the idea of solving some of our biggest. Thorniest problems right now, with an eye toward you know racial justice, I could be like a national idol and get it some of what has plagued Chicago for so long time, which is all rooted and you know. Segregation by Yeah. That's a big one. Force. which she? Does pretty good. It could yeah no I. Agree. I think we've seen how an how interesting the conversations are the Chicago Board of Education now I and era a fairly diverse and very interesting group around these issues around funding or removing the police from from CPS and things like that. You know I think yeah. This could be really interesting conversations for taskforce to tackle him at. So our last question for you then is a lot of people listening may be interested in in being writers themselves and writing. You know this was a such a tough industry. Right, now I'd the has always been but a, but especially right now unto have advice for people who are interested in in writing and becoming writers no hat how to go about it. So. Sort of logistically I would say you know just start. Writing. Were muscle whether it's drilling are blogging or pieces to idiom or whoever will take it is truly a muscle that you just have to exercise You know work sputtering stronger. So I would just say you know, right right right as much as you can use papers I don't know I. Don't know where they're GONNA BE Side. I don't you know I, never tell anybody to shy away from journalism, but I'm not sure journalism is going to be taking place in you know sort of our legacy media companies the way we've been used to I think that Chicago though has. I mean I love the Tribune. So proud to work. There were said my colleagues I also think that you know Chicago's bigger than the tribune the sometimes the tribe is fantastic clubs Chicago. Fantastic. WBZ's. Been Cast Excel. Pretty. Exciting city to to live and work in an and WANNA ride in. This is a tricky. Time to find the funding base for right because we're GONNA. Pandemic on. 'em people are trying to still figure out how to get the Internet. To Fund. Its publications anyway pre pandemic but but but I feel strongly that that stuff will. Be Temporary and and there will always be an appetite. And a need for these storytellers and is to you know our history and so it's it feels very much like we're in. A correction phase I. Guess or figuring out phase of that. But but I don't I don't at all feel like eventually this Steph will just saul fade out and disappear I think and when I say this stuff I mean newspapers and media organizations I just think that you know we need somebody to figure out how to how to make the funding models work but. But. No I would say you know. Be A veracious reader of. Books Media. And rate your heart out and take a good look at all the places in. Chicago that that need writers because there's a lot of them. Speaking of writing your heart out. Of course, it goes speaking your heart out and so Heidi thank you so much. For being with us today proposal view who. Don't live in Chicago Heidi's column resume says you probably gathered from this conversation across the country and my view in terms of what she talks about she also the podcast and so we want to recommend that to you. After this. Interview is completed and dropped. Later today, you'll find links to. Hide these writing the pipe has some other wonderful pieces and You again for joining US I hope you'll come back and share with us at another white. So take care how you doing. I would love to thanks removing. The vote her in segment is a collaboration of two broad talking politics and author Rebecca side. Our theme song is called. Are you listening off of the album elephants shaped trees by the band immunity and we're using it with permission of the band our logo and other original artwork is by Matthew Westland and was created for use. By this podcast. You can contact us at two broads talking politics at g mail, DOT COM, or on twitter or facebook to broads top you can find all of our episodes at two broads talking politics, dot com, or anywhere podcast or found.