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Barbershop: Bill Clinton, Black Lives Matter And Gender Stereotypes


Now it's time for the Barbershop, where we gather some interesting folks to talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Joining us here in D.C. for a shapeup this weekend are Jolene Ivey. She's a public relations professional. She's a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. Good to have you back again, Jolene.

JOLENE IVEY: It's great to see you, Michel.

MARTIN: And Farajii Muhammad is the host of Listen Up! That's a radio show on member station WEAA in Baltimore. He's also director of the youth organization Peace by Piece. Welcome back, Farajii.


MARTIN: And from NPR West, Doyin Richards, staff writer for and also founder of a blog about fatherhood called Doyin, it's good to have you back as well.

DOYIN RICHARDS: Oh, thanks Michel.

MARTIN: So let's talk about something that's buzzing on the campaign trail. This is on the Democratic side. Earlier this week, former president Bill Clinton went out on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton - no surprise there. But he had the experience that a lot of people have had this year. He was heckled by Black Lives Matter protesters who were criticizing his tough-on-crime measures back from the 1990s. Now, you might've heard that Hillary Clinton has also been taken to task for some of those policies. We've talked about that before. Now, we've talked about how Donald Trump responds to protesters a couple of times on this program. But Bill Clinton is a little different. So this is a little a bit of what he said.


BILL CLINTON: I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children - maybe you thought they were good citizens, she didn't. She didn't.


CLINTON: You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth.

MARTIN: You know, this actually went on for some few minutes. And it was kind of - I don't know, Jolene Ivey, what would you say, like, a little bit of a political science lecturer mixed with kind of...

IVEY: Yeah, just...

MARTIN: ...Elder schooling the young ones kind of tone there. But I'm curious what you thought of that because as a person herself who's run for office, has won elected office, I'm interested in what you think about how he responded.

IVEY: Well, I kind of understand where he was coming from just because I'm old enough to remember the times he was talking about. So I kind of remember how people felt then, and people were outraged at what was going on with the crack epidemic, with the crime that we were having. And heck, Bernie Sanders of all people voted for that bill.

MARTIN: So what is it that people are upset about because I heard a lot of people cheering?

IVEY: I think that black people were definitely - will be like whoa, hang on for a minute, especially younger people. And that's really the group of people that she's having the most trouble with. Hillary is good with older people because we remember the good times the Clintons did have, and we still want to support them. But younger people aren't remembering those days, and something like this just creates more division. And I don't think it helps her.

MARTIN: Farajii, what do you think about this?

MUHAMMAD: A couple of things happened. One is that, you know, in the midst of those comments, he mentioned that Biden suggested to him that he should put harsher penalties in the legislation if he wanted to get it across the Republicans. But then he also said black leaders approach him and said, you know, we need some real help with this without getting any full details or context on this. So it was as if black leaders became complicit in Bill Clinton locking up many more black men. And I could not foresee that that being the help that they wanted to give the addressing the problem...

MARTIN: But isn't that true though? I mean, members of the Black Caucus, some significant...

MUHAMMAD: There were some folks...

MARTIN: ...Prominent members of the Black Caucus...


MARTIN: ...Supported those policies? That is true, isn't it?

MUHAMMAD: They supported the policies, but I don't think they truly understood the ramifications of it. And here's the thing, the...

MARTIN: So they get a pass but he doesn't?

MUHAMMAD: No, he doesn't. No, nobody gets a pass, actually. But the thing is is that the president - Bill Clinton was in a position to do much more than just pass legislation.

MARTIN: I take it that you support that - you agree with the protesters who have been criticizing him extension and by extension Hillary Clinton.

MUHAMMAD: I think so, yeah. I mean, I would agree with the protesters because they're forcing him to take responsibility. And he didn't - that answer that he gave was not a sufficient explanation as to why those policies were established.

MARTIN: Doyin, what do you think about this?

RICHARDS: (Laughter) My thing is we have to come down to one simple thing - accountability. I actually agree with what President Clinton said because when you really look deep into it, if you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime. So I have no problem with cats getting locked up for doing stuff that's wrong, that's against the law. So when we look at what he said, did he say anything that was inherently wrong? I really don't think so.

MARTIN: So let's move on because Doyin was just in Washington, D.C., a few days ago. He did not come by to see us; I'm just saying. Don't know why...


MARTIN: ...But he was at the White House...

MUHAMMAD: That's messed up, Doyin.

MARTIN: I know, right?


MARTIN: He was at the White House for an interesting summit, and I want to talk about that a bit. The idea was to open up a dialogue about tackling gender stereotypes perpetuated by toys and television shows marketed to children. And Doyin, do you want to tell us some of the surprising thing that you learned at the summit? I was following your tweets, and some of it was, I have to say, kind of hair-raising some of the statistics that you were bringing out.

RICHARDS: So basically, one stat was 6 out of 10 girls will stop doing what they love based on their body image or their perceived body image. And you can't be it if you can't see it. So we have to make sure - I see 5-year-old and 6-year-old girls measuring their waistlines. Like, oh, I'm not - I'm getting fat or I'm chubby. And it's like we need to change the narrative on what it is to be successful. It's not looks. It's not being sexy. We have to see more women as coders, as pilots, as surgeons so they can be like you know what? I can do that, too, and stop the noise about what it looks like. Dudes don't care about what they look like. Go to the beach, go to the pool. You'll see more dad bods - shirtless dad bods than you'll ever want to see, you know what I mean?


RICHARDS: They're walking around proudly - oh, yo, I got this. Check me out.

IVEY: Right.

RICHARDS: They don't care.

IVEY: And they think they're the man, too.

RICHARDS: They think they're the man. But there's women who even - no matter what their body type is will cover up and feel like they're not good enough. We have to change that. We have to change the narrative.

MARTIN: So else about - that came out about boys that...


MARTIN: ...Was also of interest to you?

RICHARDS: So a lot of boys y'all - a lot of boys are watching porn. So they had a study where they notice that the average 12-year-old boy sees 50 pornographic images a week.

MARTIN: How? I mean, how? I guess - are there...

RICHARDS: It's very - I mean...

IVEY: Apparently you can find it pretty easily on the Internet. I remember some years ago...

MUHAMMAD: Are you saying they're downloading porn, or is there just happening to kind of...

RICHARDS: Viewing. It's simple - yeah, exposed. You text it, you go online. Your buddy Snapchatting (sp) it.

IVEY: You can print it off the Internet. I've seen it, unfortunately, in my own home. I've walked in and said what the heck is all of this?

RICHARDS: Who's printing stuff nowadays, Jolene?


IVEY: Well, you know, this was a few years ago. This was a few years ago, and it was one of my boys, who will be - remain nameless right now. But...

MARTIN: I was going to say because...

IVEY: Seriously, but that's how I caught him because how can you be that dumb?

MARTIN: But how is this any different from back in the day when boys would sneak "Playboys" and "Penthouses?"

RICHARDS: It's more accessible now, Michel.

MARTIN: It's more accessible.

RICHARDS: More - yeah, more accessible. I mean, it's so simple. There's Snapchat, there's texting. You can go anywhere and see that kind of stuff.

MARTIN: And what did they say the consequence of this was and why this was brought up at a White House summit. Obviously, people thought that this was really important. And people felt that this was really important because...

RICHARDS: Yeah, the consequence is how are these young boys going to treat women? A lot of times - there are studies that they learn everything about sex through pornography. So they think intimacy is what they see in photographic videos. There's no kissing; there's no intimacy. It's just straight up almost a violent act.

MARTIN: Farajii, can you talk about this because I know in addition to being a radio host, you also work with youth in a program. Is this something that's come up? I mean, I know you're really interested in social justice and organizing and things like that. But that - but intimacy and those kinds of conversations...

MUHAMMAD: It's not there. It's just really not there. You know, I often go to a school in Baltimore. And even among high school, middle school students - and the thought of a woman's body is more of a commodity more so than someone else.

MARTIN: Do you think it's different from when you were growing up?

MUHAMMAD: Oh absolutely. It's gotten much more intense. It's very hypersexual. Boys are becoming exposed to sexual situations very early on, and that's distorting how they see each other.

MARTIN: So one more thing we wanted to run by you though before we let you go which is that earlier this week, Bomani Jones filled in on ESPN's "Mike & Mike," wearing Ringgit a T-shirt that looked like - you guys - can you...

MUHAMMAD: The Cleveland...

MARTIN: ...Picture the...

RICHARDS: We saw it.

MARTIN: ...Cleveland Indians logo, right?


MARTIN: But instead of Chief Wahoo - which is the mascot figure that a lot of people are very disgusted with - the image was replaced with a white guy with a similarly - you know, the big teeth and the grin. But instead of the feather, it was replaced with a dollar sign. For some reason, a lot of people didn't find that funny. It caused this big reaction on Twitter. And later, Jones told ESPN's Molly Qerim that he chose the shirt for his TV appearance because it was clean and also because he likes it.


MARTIN: But...


MARTIN: But I mean...

MUHAMMAD: No political, like...

MARTIN: And no politics there?

IVEY: And he's a man...

MUHAMMAD: (Laughter) Exactly (laughter).

IVEY: ...And that's how men think. I think it was hilarious.

MARTIN: Do you think it was hilarious?

IVEY: I do.

MARTIN: Because...

IVEY: Well, because I agree with him. And I do think he was making a political statement, especially when they told him to cover it up and he just, like, half zipped his jacket so you could still see it. So I appreciate that. He's fighting the power.

RICHARDS: Can you - could you imagine what the executives at ESPN were thinking when they saw him roll out with that shirt? They must've been like yo...


RICHARDS: I don't know y'all. What are we going to do about this brother?


MUHAMMAD: Like, take it down, take it down. OK, that's good. That's good.

IVEY: Right.

MARTIN: Farajii, what'd you think?

MUHAMMAD: You know what? This is funny. But, you know, let's be honest, that conversation about the Indians and the Washington Redskins and all of these teams, that's a conversation that should be had. And it shouldn't be, you know, put to the back burner or shouldn't be just doused with money to make it - cover it up. We need to actually have those conversations, I mean, just out of respect. And in 2016, if you can't talk about a mascot that describes a group of people in a very offensive way, then we haven't gotten that far at all.

MARTIN: All right, we'll leave it there for now. That's Jolene Ivey. She's a former state lawmaker, former candidate for lieutenant governor, public relations professional here in Washington, D.C., along with Farajii Muhammad, who's host of Listen Up!, a radio show on member station WEAA in Baltimore and from NPR West, Doyin Richards, staff writer for and founder of a blog about fatherhood called Thanks everybody for being here.

IVEY: Thanks Michel. It was fun.

MUHAMMAD: Thank you, Michel.

RICHARDS: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.