Will Amazon’s Union Change the World?

It’s the kind of workplace you can find most anywhere: a sprawling small-town fulfillment center for Amazon. But the choice made by the nearly 6,000 workers at this plant in Bessemer, Alabama, is ringing across the globe: Will they vote to form a union? The result, which will be known in the coming days but could be tied up in litigation far longer, may shake a behemoth that dominates American commerce in a way no company ever has. The ramifications will also ripple through American politics and a labor movement that has seen its power drip away. But at a time of incredible economic churn and yawning inequality across the globe, unions are innovating to find their voice from Silicon Valley to Karachi. Brothers and sisters, let us join together to fill you in.

why bessemer matters

Amazon Dominoes. If Bessemer’s union drive succeeds, it would be the e-commerce giant’s first U.S. union, which is partly why it’s drawn such global attention. Amazon workers in Italy and Germany went on strike this week over working conditions, and union leaders have taken calls from as far afield as South Africa about how to organize their own union drives. And while Amazon is unique among American tech titans for the size of its blue-collar workforce, its peers are agitating, too. Alphabet workers mobilized in January to push Google’s parent company for change, although it does not yet have collective bargaining rights.

Social Union-Busting. The real threat of an organizing chain reaction is why Amazon is responding by aggressively taking anti-union campaigns into the 21st century. On Tuesday, Twitter shuttered several fake accounts that masqueraded as Amazon warehouse employees while tweeting positive things about their jobs and attacking the Bessemer union drive — a tactic similar to the one used by Russians to influence the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections in America. It’s part of a punchier PR response (reportedly driven by CEO Jeff Bezos himself) to address pro-union Amazon critics such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Combined with some classic suppression tools, such as anti-union signs in bathroom stalls and mandatory meetings where bosses rail against unionization efforts, Amazon is showing how to innovate union busting. Could this presage how future battles between Big Tech and politicians play out?

Organizing While Black. “Bessemer is the new Selma,” civil rights leader Rev. William Barber II said at a rally with union organizers. Racial justice themes have infused the Alabama union drive: The vast majority of the workers at the fulfillment center, about 20 miles outside of Birmingham, are Black, and a majority are female, underscoring that the face of labor in 2021 is far from the white male autoworkers of yore. In fact, Black workers are more likely to be unionized (12.3 percent) than any other ethnic group. There’s substantial crossover with the Black Lives Matter movement, as many of the workers supported BLM marches and joined efforts to take down Confederate statues in Birmingham. Look for the next phase of organizing to be Black-led and infused with BLM tactics.

More Than Money. Union drives are often about negotiating power for better wages, but with Amazon — which has paid all of its U.S. employees at least $15 per hour since 2018 — that isn’t necessarily the case. Local organizers say this is more about the hyper-surveillance of their movements, as Amazon tracks everything, down to each time an employee touches a package. “People tell us they feel like robots who are being managed by robots,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, told The New Yorker. Reports indicate that underperforming employees are even targeted for firing by robots. An Amazon spokesperson tells OZY that Appelbaum is “misrepresenting the facts” and “our employees know the truth — starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encouraged all of our employees to vote, and their voices will be heard in the days ahead.”

Whose Side Are You On. After Donald Trump helped scramble the politics of organized labor by wooing away many blue-collar voters, many Republicans are trying to brand themselves as the workers’ party — leading Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to embrace the Bessemer union drive. But no other big-name Republicans have joined him, and promoting labor-friendly policies remains the domain of Democrats, who are embracing unions with renewed vigor from President Joe Biden on down. Democrats are pushing a federal bill that would override state “right to work” laws — designed to diminish union power by preventing workplaces from requiring union membership — which are on the books in 28 states, including Alabama. Washington’s most powerful Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, recently floated the idea of the reverse — a national right to work law — if Republicans retake power, after a scorched-earth session with Democrats.

organizing the gig economy

Pandemic Push. Their companies are cutthroat rivals. But drivers of Uber and its biggest Indian competitor, Ola, are banding together with other gig worker groups in the country to create an “umbrella union” that would advocate for all of them. Gig workers in India have particularly been hammered by the pandemic: One study released by Azim Premji University researchers shows that 23 percent of workers in the informal sector in Bangalore lost their jobs, and 15 percent remain unemployed nearly a year after lockdowns began. If such a pan-industry union of gig workers takes off in the world’s largest democracy, it’s only a matter of time before the idea spreads elsewhere.


Drink to Millennials. Unions haven’t exactly been a growth industry lately, but there’s one demographic that’s becoming more union-friendly: millennials. That trend has been true in recent years and through the pandemic: 25- to 34-year-olds were the only age bracket that rose in the labor ranks as companies shed jobs left and right from 2019 to 2020, according to U.S. federal data. The young unionizers are shaking up workplaces with scant union history, from digital media to Hollywood writers rooms, speaking a language of activism that would be foreign to their brothers and sisters in the steel mills of the past. And since millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and increasingly helming leadership roles, that could lead to more worker-friendly corporate cultures going forward. Read more on OZY.

Friends With Benefits. Unions tied to specific industries or companies likely aren’t the future, given that a majority of American workers are expected to be freelancers by 2027. But freelancers need representatives even more than full-time workers. And Freelancers Union, with more than 500,000 members, is offering a new model by promising health insurance and networking opportunities. The union hopes those benefits will attract freelance workers and build its numbers, which could help it collectively bargain with governments and industries on freelancers’ behalf.

App-ly Yourself. Campaigning outside factory gates with pamphlets outlining your cause is no longer an efficient way to unionize when many of your members are likely working online, at home. Cue the rise of a new wave of apps designed specifically to organize labor digitally. There’s UnionConnect, which helps unions communicate directly with their members, while creating a personalized dashboard for each worker to track details about their company and union that matter to them. Walmart employees have used an app called WorkIt, which uses artificial intelligence to answer questions about their rights and allows labor leaders and workers to set up virtual chat rooms where they can brainstorm. And then there’s UnionBase, a Facebook of sorts for the workers movement where unions can set up verified pages and members can communicate with each other. It currently boasts 30,000 American unions as members.



From “I Gotta Feeling” to “Scream and Shout,” whether with the Black Eyed Peas or alone, the impact Will.i.am made on the music of the 2010s is undeniable. But why does this acclaimed artist call himself much more of a computer scientist than a musician? Today on the Carlos Watson Show, futurist and tech wiz Will.i.am gets real about friendship, love and machines. Get to know this thinker beyond his beats and hear why he thinks it’s important for robots to learn that Black Lives Matter.

changing global currents

Bourgeois Communists. China is home to the world’s largest trade union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which has nearly as many members (around 300 million) as America’s entire population. It’s also the country’s only legally recognized union, and the Communist Party cracks down on efforts to form independent unions. But none of that’s helping Beijing manage growing disenchantment among Chinese workers, visible in an explosion of labor disputes. The country has witnessed 530 known strikes in the past seven months, which represents a 30 percent uptick from the previous seven-month stretch. Can these labor pains deliver a new balance of power between Beijing and the country’s working class?

Free to Choose. Mexico might be learning the lessons China hasn’t. For decades, workers could negotiate with employers only through a set of government-approved unions. A nexus between the government, big corporations and corrupt union leaders meant it was impossible for workers to engage in any meaningful collective bargaining. Not anymore. Under current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico has amended labor laws to allow workers to form and join independent unions of their choice. Measures like these have helped AMLO retain a ridiculously high popularity rating — 64 percent in February — even though Mexico has the world’s second highest COVID-19 death toll.

Pakistan’s 80 Percent. They’ve been ignored for generations. Now, the women who constitute 80 percent of Pakistan’s home-based workforce, running cottage businesses that hold up much of the country’s economy, have had enough. They’re organizing like never before, forming trade unions and winning battles for better working conditions. So much so that the country’s mainstream male-dominated labor unions, which have been on the decline for years, are now turning to these female labor activists for inspiration.

Workers of the World, Tweet! Of course, the challenge of declining union membership is hardly unique to Pakistan. In Australia, another country with a strong history of labor movements, unions are reinventing themselves by using social media platforms as central organizing tools, moving away from the stilted language of earlier generations and adopting the lingo of millennials and Gen Zers. They’re staying relevant, now pressuring the Australian government to raise the federal minimum wage, among other causes. Memes might do for them what Marx couldn’t. Read more on OZY.


Owning Their Future. Tunisia’s labor movement was a pivotal pillar of the Arab Spring protests that brought down dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Now the Tunisian General Labour Union is plotting another revolution by helping workers buy the defunct factories and businesses where they previously worked, getting them financial assistance and legal support to help them own their destinies.


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history’s most powerful unions

Protest like an Egyptian. The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” was the anthem of Egypt’s protests during the Arab Spring that began in 2010. But in reality, they needn’t have looked anywhere beyond Egypt for inspiration. More than three millennia ago, tomb builders and craftsmen stopped work and marched in protest against their pharaoh, Ramses III, after their pay had been repeatedly delayed. Pastries couldn’t pacify them despite chants of “we are hungry!” and, after multiple strikes, they got their wages. It’s the first known labor strike in history, and inspired similar strikes across the Egyptian empire in subsequent centuries.

Shaking the Soviets. If taking on the pharaoh was fraught with danger, challenging the Soviet Union-backed Polish politburo in the 1980s was no less risky. That’s what the trade union Solidarity did, drawing its initial strength from protests by shipyard workers in Gdansk before growing into a national phenomenon with 10 million members within a year. Under pressure from Moscow, the Polish government imposed martial law and cracked down on Solidarity. But the movement continued underground, emerging as a fulcrum of fresh protests that ultimately led to the fall of communism in Poland. Its influence was so evident that Solidarity leader and Nobel laureate Lech Wałęsa became the country’s first president in 1990 after its transition to a democracy.

Breaking Apartheid’s Bank. In racially segregated 1980s South Africa, the government effectively owned homes in “townships” that reserved residential neighborhoods for people of color. The apartheid regime’s handpicked Black foot soldiers managed these townships and collected rent from residents, in a scheme that also helped swell the regime’s coffers. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), formed in 1985, played a central role in disrupting that exploitative model: It helped coordinate rent boycotts across more than 50 townships, leading to nearly $100 million in unpaid rents to the government by 1989. Today, COSATU is battling its traditional ally, the African National Congress government, over wage disputes. As South Africa’s largest trade union, it has been a key power broker that’s helped the ANC stay in control of South Africa. But could labor now bring down the party of Nelson Mandela?

Vaccine Voice. Brazil’s biggest trade union, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), also gained prominence while taking on a repressive regime: the U.S.-backed military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. That struggle helped shape the union’s argument that “growth is not enough” — the economy expanded at 10 percent some years, but the poor remained poor while labor rights were crushed. CUT’s influence has only grown this century, with former trade unionist Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva instituting massive social welfare schemes (including the Bolsa Família) when he was president from 2003 through 2010. Now the CUT’s leading protests against controversial President Jair Bolsonaro. Its latest demand? Universal COVID-19 vaccines for Brazilians, who have seen the world’s third-highest death toll.


Activists of Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) take part in a silent demonstration in front of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) office urging the municipal corporation to issue a monthly compensation for jobless construction labourers and free testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Bangalore on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP) (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Modi’s Achilles Heel? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has steamrolled his democratic opposition in repeated elections, ignoring concerns of religious minorities and students to retain his popularity with vast sections of the majority-Hindu electorate. But there are chinks in his armor, none more so than the growing frustration with his policies among the country’s massive working class. In January 2020, an estimated 250 million workers joined strikes and flooded India’s streets in protest of economic policies that critics say benefit big private firms over small businesses and state-owned enterprises. But will worker unity stand in the face of Modi’s use of Hindu nationalism to bait (and divide) voters?

The Battle of Blair Mountain. It was the largest armed uprising since the Civil War. In 1921, some 10,000 workers marched southward from the West Virginia state capital of Charleston to anti-union counties in an effort to protest coal companies’ complete control of the territory. They were met by a force of 3,000 law enforcement officers and militiamen at Blair Mountain in Logan County, where a protracted battle ensued — with many of the officers firing machine guns and the local sheriff chartering planes to bomb the union men. Federal troops were called in to stop the fighting, which left scores dead. The battle left a linguistic legacy, too: The term “redneck” can be traced to the red bandanas worn around the necks of striking miners.

The Story Behind Big Freedia’s Breakout Beyoncé Sample

She helped popularize the New Orleans sound called bounce and notched a famous Beyoncé sample along the way. Now Big Freedia joins OZY’s co-founder and CEO on The Carlos Watson Show. Below are the best cuts from their full conversation, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

Coming-Out Story

Carlos Watson: So now, were you this fun when you were a kid? What were you like as a kid? Were you this fun and this lively?

Big Freedia: Oh, most definitely. I was way more lively than I am now. I was just screaming, walking up hallways, just this big jolly queen. I was young, full of energy. I was way more fun as a kid. Yeah. So that’s why I had tons of friends. People who love me. They love me at my high school. My church home, all around my neighborhood. I was definitely live, loud and common.

Watson: And now, were you out and open even as a teenager?

Big Freedia: Oh, most definitely. I came out to my mom at 13. So as a teenager, I was in my full bloom of being who I wanted to be, still trying to find my way, but I definitely was out.

Watson: Now, why did you have that confidence when so many kids don’t? Because you know for a lot of kids, that’s been a struggle. Why do you think you were so confident that you were able to say that to your mom and be out in high school?

Big Freedia: The relationship. I think it was the relationship that me and my mom had that played a big part, and she was my biggest cheerleader. She was my protector. And once I told her, I didn’t need approval from anybody else in the world. Once the lady who born me approved it, I really didn’t care what everybody else thought. And so once she had my back, I started to move forward and started to find myself. And that’s what it was. As long as Mom approved, I didn’t need nobody else.

Watson: And what about other folks at school? The fact that you came out, did that give other people confidence to be themselves and accept themselves? Was there a ripple effect among any friends or classmates that you saw?

Big Freedia: I don’t think it was a ripple effect. I think that my friends in the community who were gay, they looked up to me. They look up to my mom. She was the cool mom. They always came over. Their moms wasn’t fully accepting. So they had a really rough time at home and a really rough way to go. But as time went on and they started to see me and my mom’s relationship, they started to lighten up a little bit. My mom started to talk to their moms, and as time went on, they built a great bond with their moms. But no, definitely didn’t start a ripple effect. It was very much not talked about a lot in the neighborhood. It wasn’t so accepted being Black and gay. And in the hood … Yeah, it was always being something being whispered about you, or we have to fight and fight for who we wanted to be and stand up. My mom used to always say, “You better go back out there and be a man and kick their ass.”

Watson: Did you?

Big Freedia: I had to, I had no choice. I was very quiet and I was very humble and it took a lot for people to get me riled up, but when you did, it was hard for me to come down.

Watson: Do you feel like it is different now being Black and gay than it was back then? I mean, I guess the obvious answer is yes, but I guess I’m thinking about this a little bit, because you also said your church home, and I’ve always felt like, I’m the grandson of a Baptist minister, and I’ve always felt like there’s been an interesting dichotomy there that, on one hand, I felt like people who were Black and gay often played important roles in the church, but I felt like it was almost a “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Everybody knew, but I felt like the conversation didn’t always happen out loud. What was your experience like?

Big Freedia: Same thing. It was the same way, it was “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I mean, I was the choir director, and the organizer was gay and we had other gay choir members. So it wasn’t something that was always brought up. It was just, you just roll with it and they accepted it. They loved us for who we were. We didn’t have to hide or be closeted. And that was the most important thing, that they still accepted it. If they talked about it, they talked about it amongst themselves and we didn’t know. And my godmother, who was the head choir director, she would protect me and she would be there in defense of anything that I wanted to do. And in the church, she would have my back.

Big Freedia: So it’s all about support systems, and I had a great support system with my mom at home, my godmother at church. And I had a few friends in the community that supported me. So the little trouble that I did have to go through with kids at school and other folks in the neighborhood, it didn’t happen so much, but when it did happen, I think I was old enough to be prepared and to, to handle it on my own. And if I did, my mom was going out there ready with a bat, a gun, whatever she needed to fight for me.

Defining a Genre

Watson: For people who don’t know bounce music. How do you describe it?

Big Freedia: Bounce music is a New Orleans–based music, is a subgenre of hip-hop, is up-tempo, heavy bass call-and-respond–type music, has a lot to do with shaking the ass and moving the body. It’s a party music, it’s a fun music. It gets the party hyped. You put on a Freedia song and the club going twerking, OK?

Watson: Now, what did you call twerking before everyone knew the phrase twerking? What did you call it?

Big Freedia: Well, I usually use the term twerking for certain things, but we say we wiggle, we wobble. We have bend over, bust open, but we used to call it pussy pop, it’s just straight old pussy pop.

The Big Beyoncé Moment

Watson: Tell me about Beyoncé. How did she come across you and start adopting your music, your sound, your work?

Big Freedia: Well, one day she came to New Orleans and saw me at a club a long time ago and it was her, Kelly Rowland and Solange. And they just came to hang out with me and see me perform. And that was the first time we came in contact. And then I was invited to her mom’s 60th party that was here in New Orleans and all the stars were there. We hung out, we dance, we laugh, it was just amazing. And then a few years after that, my publicist called and said that “Beyoncé want to talk to you.” And I was like, “Well, girl, why are you still on the phone?” I was sitting by the phone waiting for the phone call and I was nervous, excited, all at the same time. And when she called, she said that she wanted me to be a part of this project that she had coming up and she was going to send me a snippet of the song. And she wanted me to talk some New Orleans on it. And I was like, Oh, that’s easy. Talk some New Orleans, I talk lots of shit.

She saw this clipping. It was about three to five seconds, which was not a clipping to hear nothing. It was like, “Girl, when, where?” So after we got the clipping, me and my DJ, we went to the studio, we looped it over for about a minute and 30 seconds to two minutes. And then I started to talk some shit on it, where I came up with, “I did not come to play with you hoes, I came to slay.” I sent it back and she said, “Oh, my God, this is perfect. I love it.“ Next thing I know I’m walking up at a parade around Mardi Gras time, a fan come up to me and say, “Oh, my God, it’s Big Freedia. I just heard you on a Beyoncé song.” I say, “Oh, my God, I didn’t hear myself on a Beyoncé song.“ So I never even knew I made the project.”

So running from the parade flying to my car, calling my manager, “Look, somebody just said they had the Beyoncé song.” He was like, “You lying. Holy shit.” And he started leaving the parade, we both trying to get to the song. And that night was just amazing. People coming from everywhere. “Oh, my God. The Beyoncé track is so fire. This is so big.” And after that, things just started to take off even more and I’m forever grateful for Beyoncé. I love her so much and I appreciate her even knowing who I was, liking my sound and putting me a part of the project. It will go down in history forever. And it was big for New Orleans and for the movement of Katrina. And we love her here.

What the McCloskeys Have to Say About Black Lives Matter and Their Mixed-Race Neighborhood

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorneys who famously pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters during this summer’s racial unrest in an effort to protect their property, sat for a revealing interview with OZY’s co-founder and CEO on The Carlos Watson Show. You can find some of the best cuts here from the full interview, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

A Second Scary Night

Carlos Watson: How do you guys think back about that night as you stand here today in January?

Mark McCloskey: The interesting thing to us is that only that first night, only June 28 ever gets reported by the media. And that was the easier of the two events. The mob came back on July 3 with the express intent of killing us and burning down the house. And now this mob was estimated between 500 and 1,000. And that was the scary night. That was the time when we really thought the end had come. We had a long time trying to get some security and the people we normally hire — in our business from time to time we hire secondary employment cops — nobody wanted to get involved because of the bad press we attract. We were referred to a high-end global security firm that’s based about 50 miles from here.

They’ve gotten bad press over the Ferguson incident and they didn’t want to get involved. The guy finally tells me: “What I’d do is just take whatever you can’t live without, put it in your cars, drive away and just abandon your house.” And I said, “Well, no effing way in heck I’m going to do that. We’re going to go down with this ship if we have to.”

I’ve gotten a call from the White House earlier in the week. And one of the guys at the White House said the president wanted to express his support. If there’s ever anything we can do for you, give us a call, let us know. So now it’s Thursday night before that Friday, July the third, we had every belief that we were going to die. And our daughter who was staying with us came and gave us a hug and a kiss and took her favorite stuffed animal from when she was 3 years old and left thinking she’d never see us again.

And I got back from the White House on the phone and I said, well, you said that there’s ever anything you can do give us a call. So it’s a heck of a good time. And so he gave me Mark Meadows’ cellphone number. I called up Mark Meadows and tell him the story. And then the next call I made was to Tucker Carlson. And I was sitting on the bench in the kitchen and Patty was sitting beside me, sobbing because we thought we were going to die. We had not been to sleep since that previous Sunday night. We’d spent the whole week hiding valuables and stuffing things in walls and under beds and stuff. And Tucker put us on the air and said, “I’m talking to Mark McCloskey,” and I hear Patty sobbing in the background and told the story. When that Friday came, we were pretty certain we were going to die. But it all came together. We had tremendous support at the end. We had some SEALs came up from Texas and from one guy, fourth-generation cattle farmer. A Navy SEAL drove in from Kansas, just put his gear in his truck and drove here. We have support from from the government. As result of Tucker Carlson’s call, there were maybe 10 or so secondary employment cops from rural jurisdictions that weren’t afraid to have their name on the press if they had to.

No Regrets

CW: So, if someone were to say to you, “I hear that, and I hear some of what you’re saying.” They may say, “I don’t agree with all of it. I don’t agree with your characterization of it, but I understand that if you’re outside and there are lots of people out there and there’s noise and there’s concern, and there’s lots of stress all around, I understand how someone could come to that place. But that if you’d stayed in the house, if you’d not pulled guns out, that they would not have come in and that they likely would have just moved on and kept walking through the neighborhood.” You say what to that?

MM: Am I supposed to interview each person as they breached that gate and say, “Are you the good protester or are you the violent mobster? Are you a person who just wants to make some noise so you get on TV, or are you one of those people that shot police officers and burn 7-Eleven’s and kill [police officer] David Dorn?” Am I supposed to individually assess each of these people as they walk through the gate? It’s ridiculous.

I mean, we were terrified, legitimately so, and look what did happen. No shot got fired. Nobody got hurt. Not even a sidewalk got painted. The only casualty that day, other than our psyches, was an iron gate that had been there since 1888. What happened when they leave here? They go to the Mayor Krewson’s house. They shoot fireworks through a window trying to set it on fire. They accost news reporters with semi-automatic weapons. This was not a crowd which you could trust to be harmless, and every indication was that they had no intention of being harmless.

Mixed Neighborhood

Patty McCloskey: Well, the interesting thing is uninformed people, I see it in the paper, I’ve seen it in a lot of things, saying that this street was chosen because it’s a bastion of white supremacy or white imperialism or something. They don’t know. The neighbor right across the street from me is Black and his father was Black. They’ve been living there since 1972. Next-door to me, a mixed couple, Black and white, with mixed children. I have…

MM: Gay guys across the street next-door.

PM: … gay guys, white guys, Chinese people. I mean, everybody. I mean…

MM: There are 42 houses in this street. As of right now, I think that there are probably what, five? That are African American. Mostly they’re, well, not mostly, I hate to characterize, lots of mixed couples, gay couples, and it’s been that way for the whole 33 years we’ve been there. This has always been about as diverse a neighborhood as you’re going to find in St. Louis.

PM: And liberal.

MM: And liberal. St. Louis, as you may know, is one of the most racially divided cities in the country. I knew that south St. Louis was almost all white, north St. Louis is almost all Black, and there’s very little interchange between the races here with the exception of this specific neighborhood, where it’s always been a mixed neighborhood and no one’s ever had any problem with it.

PM: But I see newspaper articles written saying no Black person would ever be allowed to live there. In fact, “They weren’t allowed to live there,” they say, “under the restrictions.” That was never under our restrictions. That never happened. There have been people here and happily. We’re all happy. It’s kind of shocking that they can say these things. I think that the people that maybe that decided, “Hey, let’s stop in on this particular street because they are all those things you might’ve heard about in the paper,” they’re just uninformed and the paper’s at fault for that.

Impact of Trump

CW: Do you think on race relations he’s been a good president?

PM: Yeah, I believe so. Because when I see the mainstream news, they’re putting those things together, saying that race relations and prison reform are the same thing. Because we’re putting people in prison, African Americans in prison, for things that you wouldn’t for white-collar crime. So I put those things together, but I think there were opportunity zones, I think he’s set up like in St. Louis. There’s a zone here where he’s bringing in extra help for police to help an African American community. I don’t know any African American that wants fewer cops. He says, I’ll give you more cops because they need help. They’re afraid. I would say 85 percent of our clients are African American and have been for 15 years. And we become very close. We’re not these kinds of people that just say, you know, “Sign you up and we’ll see you. We don’t even know who you are.” We come in and talk to them daily. And I know what they’re like, and I…

CW: Sorry, you said 85 percent. So 85 percent of your clients are African American?

PM: Yes.

CW: And what has happened since this? Have they stayed? Have African Americans continued to be your clients or have they said, “I don’t like what I saw. I don’t like what I heard. I like you as a person, but I don’t respect the choices you’ve made.” And have they chosen other lawyers?

PM: Everyone has said, “I would have done the same thing as you. I talked to my friends that would have done the same thing as you.” One was the girl that I told you about that called and said, “I still love you. And I know that’s not you. And I know that they want you to pay for it.” But not one has left and not one has said. And we’ve gotten calls from clients from way back saying, “I know you people, and I would have done the same thing and I understand it. And so not a one.”

On Black Lives Matter

CW: Now, I was surprised in some of the interviews that I thought I heard you say that you supported Black Lives Matter. Is that true? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Is that true?

MM: My lawyer said it in those words one time and I corrected him, and I’ve corrected it on every media event that’s asked me that question. I support equal justice under the law. I support equal rights for all people. I’m a big believer in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I recognize the Black Lives Matter organization as a Marxist organization. That’s antithetical to everything I believe in. I believe that amongst other things, the biggest impediment to success in the African American community is degradation of family values and the lack of cohesive family organization and Black Lives Matter disavows traditional families, Black Lives Matter disavows…

CW: Mark, Mark, Mark, sorry. You think that’s a bigger impediment to Black success than systemic racism?

MM: I don’t… I can’t answer that question. I can tell you from personal experience of living in the murder capital of the world for most of my life, St. Louis is a remarkably dangerous place if you’re an African American, and that’s because of Black-on-Black violence. So we had 262 murders in the city of St. Louis last year, highest murder rate in 50 years, almost exclusively Black-on-Black violence, and no one wishes to address that issue. And certainly Black Lives Matter does not wish to address that issue.

Who Would Be Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s Dream Verzuz Matchup?

The hip-hop producers behind the pandemic sensation Verzuz, Timbaland and Swizz Beats join The Carlos Watson Show to talk about their adjustments to the COVID-19 world and to break down their show’s best moments. Read on for some of the highlights from the full interview, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

Origin Story

Carlos Watson: How did it start? Whose idea was it? Was this a new thing, literally just came in the moment you knew that people needed something and you guys came up with it, or had you been thinking about it before?

Timbaland: Yes, it’s been on the radar for about three and a half, four years. How it started, we started it, we set the temperature when we did Summer Jam in New York. Swizz brought me out and we battled right there, and it was a great response. And from there, times changed and we was in the pandemic, and I started antagonizing Swizz on Instagram and poking little beefs, and like, “What’s up?” And I called him, I said, “Man, we should do what we started right now.” And then it took off from there.

Swizz Beatz: One hour later.

CW: Now, did you guys know it was going to be as much of a hit? I realize that’s almost an obvious question to ask, but what did you think? Did you think you were going to do this one time and you would see, or did you already have in your mind, given Tim, that you said that this was three or four years in the making, that you were going to turn this into a whole thing?

T: I just believe that the energy that we put out, it was something given back. It was a very crucial time in the world and it brought a lot of light. I didn’t know it would be . . . I don’t think nobody knew it would take off the way it took off, but we knew the energy that we was putting out in the universe, that nothing but good could come from it.


CW: What was the most beautiful moment, because you guys had so many interesting moments in the midst of it. Swizz, do it however you want to do it, what was the most beautiful moment in your mind?

SB: I’m going to be honest. The last one with Jeezy and Gucci was probably my most beautiful moment because that show broke the record for those brothers. People showed up for them to go into destruction, they wanted to see destruction with those guys. And they gave them destruction during the Verzuz, but at the end, the brothers gave everybody love. People showed up for destruction and got love.

And I just loved to see the maturity and in our culture, I just love to see the maturity in guys that may have not been perfect when they was growing up, but willing to use our platform and their platform to send out a positive message to the youth. And that right there, that was a very, very touching moment. And it’s a lot of touching moments in Verzuz by the way, but this one right here particularly was special because we was dealing with real issues that a lot of people don’t get to talk about. So the audience got to see this thing play out from A to Z, and we commend Gucci and we commend Jeezy for their excellence, and we got to give them their praise because if they would . . . If something would’ve went wrong, and they would’ve did something negative that night, it would have been all over the place, right? So, I want us to celebrate them for the positivity they did that night.

Season Two Preview

CW: Where do we go from here? Or I shouldn’t put me in it because you guys created it, but where are you going with it in season two? Because you have built something special. And I could imagine you thinking international. I could imagine you thinking different kinds of artists. I could imagine that even some of the comedians or some of the other folks are coming to you and saying why couldn’t Verzuz be applied in my backyard as well as in music’s backyard. Where are you guys thinking about taking this?

SB: Well, we have global in mind, definitely. We have Verzuz Sports already. We have Verzuz Comedy already. We have Verzuz Universe, right? So, the sky is not the limit, it’s just the view. But we’re also taking our time. We’re not rushing into things that are not well thought out. Myself and Tim and our team, we have a lot on our table. A lot of people bringing a lot of greatness to the table with Verzuz, and we’re looking at everything and deciding from there. But remember, this is only season two. We only one in, in season two. We got a big season coming. Take this season’s greetings.

CW: Give me a preview. Tim, who are you excited about bringing in season two?

T: The sky is just a view. You know what I think? I don’t have a wish list because everything that . . . We don’t force nothing on Verzuz, and everything comes to us. But lately I’ve been riding, and I feel like I just want to show the world about just love and slow songs and that feel-good music that touch your soul. And I was thinking just a lot of Anita Baker. I’m just like, “Man, we got to give Anita her flowers.” So much that . . . Not because of Verzuz. Verzuz is the platform to tell this woman how much her music done just for me. You know what I’m saying? I feel like we can’t leave this world without Anita Baker or celebrating Sade. Like those moments in life. I feel like I don’t have to tell them how I felt and what their music done for me as a producer, just as a human, just for situations, and decisions in relationships. I use their music to guide me. You know what I’m saying? And it’s like that’s what I would like to see.

CW: I think, Tim, it’s. . . Oh, sorry. Swizz, go ahead.

SB: Yeah. I’m going to say what I want to see, and then I stopped saying it because sometimes it makes the artists nervous, but this one, they just going to have to be nervous. I’m putting it out there. I want to see another reggae one and I want to see Super Cat vs. Shabba.

T: I want to see that too.

Life Changes

CW: Tim, how do you think . . . because I know when I hear Swizz talking, I talk about both of you, and that curiosity and that hustle. I know life hasn’t always though, even after your success, worked out exactly as you wanted. I admire the way people have come back. Talk to me a little bit about that. If you don’t mind me bringing her up, but where were you after Aaliyah passed, and what happened that allowed you, in my mind, to get that energy going again in a different way and reimagine yourself, body and soul?

T: I think it’s a little bit more events after Aaliyah. I think it was Aaliyah, I had got married, had a kid, had children and got divorced. I believe when you go through trial and error in life, some people stay down. I’m always trying to look at me, and evolve and become a better version of me, from every experience. For me, going forward, I just know I didn’t want to go into my second phase or second chapter of life doing the same things I did in my first half of life. So I just made a conscious decision just to live better, eat better, be a better person, just be conscious of what I do. With the pandemic, just really made me just evaluate who I am and what I want to give to the world, what I want to put out. Yeah, just evolving.

CW: How has the pandemic changed you, when you watched what happened? I feel like both of you have a really interesting vantage point, because you not only have your own life. You probably have heard from people one-off and in groups, about where people are. What do you take away from this year, 2020? What are your big lessons, and where are you planning on going yourself, personally?

T: My takeaway from this is people . . . It was like if I would have told you that the world is going to stop, you would probably have looked at me crazy. You know what I’m saying? So I think that a lot of things that we take for granted, we shouldn’t. I was telling Swizz, I think that’s how this whole Verzuz really started, is because I just value our friendship. I just had time to think about who was there, really just people that we spend a lot of time, but we don’t communicate enough.

Because death was happening. It was just a bad 2020. So I just started, just for me, just paying attention to how I can be better as a person. Just talking to Swizz, talking to him, and I believe that’s how Verzuz got started, because it was a love, just showing gratitude and being thankful for allowing . . . for us meeting, sharing the same vision in life. I just thought that’s how we’re here today with Verzuz, but 2020 has been a life-changing experience.

CW: Swizz, what about you? What about this last year, or really in some ways, I even think about your last couple of years, how have you changed?

SB: I’m more conscious about my time, especially my family time. Because I thought that I was spending a lot of time with my family, but during this whole pandemic, I really spent time with my family and got to know my kids even more, got to know my wife even more. I feel like the most I’ve been a father ever, the most I’ve been a husband ever, just because we had that time to actually be together instead of traveling every month, three and four times.

Although you connected on the phone and we connect when we see each other, and it doesn’t feel like we’re that far, but this let me know that everybody was really far. My relationship with my kids, my relationship with my family, it was really far. It’s like, OK, how do I maintain this as we get back up into 2021, moving forward? How do I keep this same energy? How do I carve out the time? Because you have to make time for these things.

You have to make time for your loved ones. You have to make time for yourself. Right? I think that the world was just moving too fast. 2020 showed us how to actually slow down. We had no choice but to slow down and reflect within ourself, and really get to actually hear our thoughts. Because sometimes we move so fast, we don’t even get to listen to ourself, or digest what somebody else told us that could be a great gem. So I think that 2020 has definitely taught me patience and discipline.

Glynn Turman on How Chadwick Boseman ‘Spills His Guts’ on Screen

Actor Glynn Turman stopped by The Carlos Watson Show to talk about his remarkable six-decade run on stage and screen, where he’s encountered legends of all stripes. He’s now starring in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix. Below you’ll find some of the best cuts from the full conversation, which you can hear on the show’s podcast feed.

On Underappreciated Black Actors

Carlos Watson: Tell me about Cooley High, because I think that was one of the first times that I remember you, and it’s so interesting when I get to see so many of your pieces of work lined up next to each other. It’s a little bit like some of your favorite musicians who you forgot all the hit songs they had, but did Cooley High mean as much to you as maybe it did to a viewer like me?

Glynn Turman: It has come to mean that much. Again, like with [Raisin in the Sun], we didn’t know we were making a landmark stride, a landmark production in the culture, but Cooley High has indeed become that signature piece in the culture of Black people in America, in filmmaking with Eric Monte, who wrote it. It’s a wonderful piece that there’s some insight as to what we as a Black people were doing and how our lives were shaped. And at the same time, then spearheaded by the great Michael Schultz, one of the finest directors in the business, Black directors in business.

And then, friendships came out of that, which have lasted all of these years — which is 45 years. I know that because we just celebrated not too long ago. Myself and my buddy Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Steven Williams and Garrett Morris.

CW: Was Garrett Morris in that?

GT: Yes, Garrett Morris was in that. Yeah, no, he was the teacher.

CW: Oh, my. Is that right?

GT: He was the one who saved us when we stole the car and the police, he was the one who stepped up and spoke for us and got us out. That was a young Garrett Morris. Yeah. We were all tight to this day, right here in California.

CW: I am struck by all. … It’s funny. I am struck by all of the talent that was there, and I’m not going to put this in the right words, but there were times when we felt like not enough of us got those opportunities on stage and screen, but at the same time, as I hear you say, Garrett Morris, I hear you say Ivan Dixon earlier, as I hear you say all of these interesting names, I say, you know what, Cicely Tyson. I used to try and hide to stay at home when they were playing her movies during the day on the independent TV station and all of these interesting actors were there.

And so, I’m trying to reconcile that in my mind. Do I say they were there, but maybe they didn’t get all of the acclaim and credit they should have, or how to think about that? But it’s interesting. You were making me realize that there are more of us who did really special distinctive work, maybe than I previously appreciated. Was there a richer set of Black actors in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, maybe than now, or is that an overstatement?

GT: Probably partially because I’m of that era and knew these people personally, and yes, there are some fine talents today. Some young people who are coming up with some wonderful work that they’re doing. Having worked with one who’s Chad Boseman. He’s that caliber, a fine actor who was dedicated to the craft and wasn’t there for the glamour. He wasn’t taking it haphazardly. He was putting his blood into it. And so, there are some young people who are doing that same thing. And David Armando, Jordan, the field with his insight on things, creating a whole other genre for us to work in.

So these are people in front of and behind the camera, you know what I’m saying? That are filling the shoes of some of the people who were some of the giants that I came up with. So I wouldn’t say that there was a better anything, but it was a different time. And in those times, the pickings were scarcer, so to get a piece of that, you had to really be sharp. You know what I mean? You had to really be sharp because there wasn’t that much going around. You didn’t have that many options.

Honing the Craft

GT: One of the things that was wonderful about back then was there was certain theater companies started by Blacks, run by Blacks, did Black material. The Negro Ensemble Theater Company with the plays that they did. National Black Theatre Touring Company with the New Federal Theatre Company, my friend Woodie King Jr.

Who’s going to this day, we’re getting ready to celebrate its 50th year. And anyone that I have mentioned to you from Denzel to Sam Jackson, to anybody that I’ve mentioned, came through one of these outlets. One of these theater companies. One of these programs that had to shape and provide a space for actors to hone their craft and for playwrights to get their works done.

And so, nobody was fly-by-night. Nobody came with expecting just because they showed up that they deserve. No, you show up, but you better bring a game. You better have something to back you up, because you get blown off the stage.

CW: Right.

GT: Oh, yeah. No, no, no, no. You better know your craft. You better know the difference between upstage left and stage right. And downstage, and all of that jargon. You better know it.

And we had places to hone that. Some of which are still going on, and that’s what I look for in the young actors and actresses today. Do they know their craft? Are the honing their craft, or are they just trying to become movie stars or famous or tweaked successes. Success stories. I don’t have much time for that. I really lose my patience with them.

There’s too much blood on the boards. Because the stories that need to be told, need to be told by people who are ready to spill their guts on the boards, so that it makes a difference when the audience sees. And that’s what you’re going to see in Ma Rainey. Everyone who’s involved in … Chadwick Boseman spills his guts. Oh, my God, wait till you see this boy.

CW: Going to miss him. But, we’re not going to miss him because he didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t go anywhere. Not going to miss him because he didn’t go anywhere. Not going to miss him because he’s still with us.

GT: [Chokes up with emotion] Right.

CW: He’s still with us.

GT: He’s still with us.

Life Lessons

CW: If you were to reach back to young Glynn and whisper two or three things in his ear, what would you be telling him? What would you point out to him as he embarks on this, on this journey?

GT: Don’t overthink. Don’t overthink matters, trust your instincts. I would whisper to him, don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. And I think, again, trust your instincts.

CW: That “trust your instinct” is so powerful and that “pick your battles” is too. I think especially in a world in which often your heart is broken. Or the pot is boiling underneath you and to still have your wits about you to know that you still have to pick your battles. That’s a hard thing to do, but it, but it’s a critical thing to do, and I think that there’s power in that. Talk to me about love. What would you tell young Glynn about love? What have you learned about love?

GT: Treasure it. Treasure it and make it bigger than yourself. Your love has to be bigger than yourself, because your love has to cover the love you expect others to have. We always think that people love in the same manner that we love. And people don’t — they love in their own manner. But if you want that kind of love, you’ve got to be the one that brings that kind of love because only to what degree that is. You can’t judge it on somebody else’s degree of what love means to them.

Finding Perspective

CW: When you sit back and think about it and talk about it with good friends, how do you think about this journey?

GT: You’re looking at an overnight success right here. It has been a hell of a night.

25 Rising Stars to Track in 2021

Maybe it’s the inspiring vaccine news or just getting into holiday mode, but we’re feeling a lot more hopeful about 2021. The trauma of 2020 has kindled unparalleled disruptions in art, politics and social activism — not to mention science and health, which have been tested like never before. It’s in OZY’s DNA to look out for what’s new and next: We’ve been profiling Rising Stars since Day One. In that spirit, today’s Sunday Magazine brings you the 25 people we think will be making a real impact in what we hope and expect to be a sunnier 2021. It’s only a starting point, so we will need your help to add to this illustrious list: Tag us on Twitter or Instagram @ozy to let us know someone who we should keep our eye on in the new year.


Mandela Barnes. The Milwaukee native has risen to become the state’s first Black man elected to statewide office — despite being mistakenly declared dead and swapped out for a white candidate on local news. At age 33, the lieutenant governor now may have Washington on his mind. Barnes, who is named for South Africa’s first Black president and achieved national prominence as a thoughtful and strident voice during the Kenosha protests, is a rumored candidate for perhaps the hottest U.S. Senate election in 2022. If in the coming months he declares for the seat now held by conservative Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, he won’t have a cake walk in the Democratic primary, but he can likely count on national grassroots enthusiasm.

Josh Hawley. It was about as odd a couple as you could find: Hawley, 40, the populist conservative rookie GOP senator, next to the 79-year-old Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. But last week they appeared together to advocate for another round of direct payments to Americans as part of a COVID-19 relief deal. It worked: The emerging deal now appears to include $600 checks. It’s those political skills and unorthodox thinking, which OZY first spotted in our 2018 profile of then-candidate Hawley, that have many people eyeing him as a 2024 White House contender. The Republican race is frozen as long as President Donald Trump appears to be running again, but the former Supreme Court clerk and men’s Bible study leader can afford to wait — and make unlikely alliances in the meantime. 

Ayanna Pressley. Is she Joe Biden’s bridge to the Squad? Pressley, 46, who rose through the cutthroat ranks of Boston politics to become the first Black woman in Congress from Massachusetts, is more of an inside politician than the AOCs of the world and has separated herself ever so slightly from them — for example endorsing her fellow Massachusetts pol Elizabeth Warren rather than Bernie Sanders during the presidential primary. Now Pressley’s 2021 will be devoted to pushing Biden on issues like student debt cancellation, but also marshalling votes in a closely divided House. And with her openness about her alopecia diagnosis by going bald in public, Pressley has become a powerful symbol for millions with the disease.

Stephanie Bice. The first Iranian American elected to Congress won her seat by taking out out the only Democrat representing Oklahoma in D.C. And she’s already been elected the freshman class president. At the forefront of a crew of Republican women building their House presence to record levels, Bice, 47, also says she will join “the Freedom Force,” meant as a conservative counterweight to the Squad — though she sounds eager for compromise in interviews. A former marketing executive, she served in Oklahoma’s state senate, where she led the charge to modernize the state’s liquor laws before making the jump to Washington.

Rishi Sunak. The United Kingdom’s chancellor of the exchequer has been the fastest rising star in the Tory party with clear eyes on No. 10 Downing Street. On his way, Sunak, 40, ticked most every elite box possible (Oxford, Stanford, Goldman Sachs) and married the daughter of one of India’s richest men, N.R. Narayana Murthy. Last summer, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson floundered while responding to the pandemic, Sunak arranged direct wage subsidies and has become the skinny-suited face of the country’s fiscal policy. The whispers are growing louder that a challenge to Johnson’s leadership could be afoot in 2021.

George Forsyth. Perhaps a country that’s been through the turmoil of three presidents in a week needs a goalkeeper to make a save. Ahead of Peru’s new presidential election in April, and widespread unrest among the country’s economically battered youth, Forsyth, 38, is leading in the polls. The mayor of the La Victoria municipality of Lima, he’s known as a crime-fighter and corruption-buster. The 6-foot-2 politician is also known for his playing career for one of Peru’s top soccer clubs, Alianza Lima. As the son of Peru’s former U.S. ambassador and a former Miss Chile, Forsyth brings a cocktail of celebrity and a political ideology that is not discernibly left or right to a possible presidential bid. It may be enough to prevail in a topsy-turvy political climate.

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Adwa Al Dakheel. She’s the face of the new Saudi Arabia. The 28-year-old entrepreneur and social media influencer runs the kingdom’s most promising investment hub, Falak. She’s also a guitarist, writer, amateur pilot, a high-profile refugee advocate and national champion squash player. Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia still has a troublesome human rights record and is struggling to diversify from oil, but Al Dakheel is a striking role model for change. Read more on OZY.

Su Hua. Imagine TikTok and Amazon rolled into one, and that’s Kuaishou, China’s newest emerging tech giant. Su, the video sharing app’s bespectacled 38-year-old CEO and founder, grew up in a Hunan village without electricity. Now he’s worth $4 billion and about to become even wealthier: Kuaishou’s mega IPO in January could see the company valued at $50 billion.

Jacob Becraft. Seeing everyone from ER doctors to Mike Pence to William Shakespeare take the first COVID-19 vaccines has been cause for celebration. But it will be a long wait for most — especially in the developing world. Jacob Becraft, 29, is rushing in to help in India and Southeast Asia with a delivery platform that could potentially allow you to “turn vaccines on and off” with a pill that triggers the release process. The Illinois native’s company, Strand Therapeutics, could allow people to take one dose instead of two of mRNA vaccines like Moderna’s, which was approved Friday by the FDA. Becraft’s technology could make it easier to inoculate people in poorer, far-flung places. Read more on OZY.

Virtue Oboro. Studies show that jaundice in newborn babies puts them at mortal risk, and for Oboro the fight was personal. Her own son barely survived a bout with the condition — requiring an emergency blood transfusion —  because of a lack of available phototherapy cots, where jaundiced babies are treated under a special light. A graphic designer, Oboro used her expertise to design a product called Crib A’Glow, a low-cost, solar-powered, mobile phototherapy solution to treat newborns. Her company, Tiny Hearts Technology, built a prototype that failed but kept trying until it worked. Since that 2016 start, it’s treated more than 1,600 babies and has spread from its Nigerian home base to Ghana, Kenya and Benin.

Dajae Williams. With so few Black women in science, technology, engineering and math fields, Williams, 26, struggled at times with her identity, and often found herself “code-switching” in a mostly white workplace as a quality engineer at NASA. Now she’s embraced a mission to build pathways for the next generation — through hip-hop. With Listen Up Education, the St. Louis native is using music to engage underprivileged kids in math and science, and is on a mission to become, in her words, “the Black female Bill Nye — where Fresh Prince and Bel-Air meet.” Read more on OZY.

Mattieu Gamache-Asselin. It started with a “you know what I hate” conversation and ended up with a billion dollar company. Gamache-Asselin, a 30-year-old Aboriginal Canadian, is the co-founder of Alto Pharmacy, a digital brand that brings drugs to your door without charging for delivery and disrupts the brick and mortar pharmacies that everyone loves to complain about. The model has taken off during COVID-19 and is sure to extend beyond its current five-state foothold, thanks to a new investment of $250 million from SoftBank and others. Read more on OZY.

Sal Khan. Before everyone was in Zoom school, he was figuring out how it would work. The New Orleans native founded Khan Academy after getting the idea from tutoring his cousin. Now he reaches 10 million students per month and is the leading expert on remote learning, with one big idea: Everyone on the planet should be able to get a world-class education for free. He has tips for how teachers should structure their online time, with more practice and peer learning rather than lecturing. As students (hopefully) return to the classrooms in 2021, Khan, 44, will be at the forefront — including collaborating with the Biden administration. Watch him on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’

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Santia Deck. The former track star turned pro flag football and rugby player had made a name for herself by leaving her defenders standing in cement, going viral with lightning moves, chiseled abs and a dose of social media savvy. It led to her signing with the Los Angeles Flames for the first multimillion dollar contract in women’s football history. Now she’s the face of the Women’s Football League Association, and their season is set to launch in May. Read more on OZY.

Zach Wilson. It’s hard to imagine a 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback sneaking up on anybody. But that’s exactly what Wilson has done as he’s led Brigham Young University to a 10-1 record, capping his collegiate career with a 310-yard, three touchdown performance — while showing off the sneaky athleticism and lightning-quick decision making that could make him the second quarterback chosen in the 2021 NFL Draft behind consensus pick Trevor Lawrence. Wilson may be the Justin Herbert of 2021.

Caris LeVert. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard wasn’t even a lottery pick, much less a bona fide star, out of Michigan in 2016. But with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sidelined with injuries last year for the Brooklyn Nets, LeVert stepped up big as a rangy driving and shooting threat, averaging around 23 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds per game in the NBA bubble. With a stacked roster, the Nets are talking about using LeVert as a super sixth man like Manu Ginobili on the great Spurs teams of the 2000s — or they could trade him. With the season starting Tuesday, look for him to end up as the critical third star on a team where anything less than an NBA Finals appearance would be a disappointment. 

Letícia Bufoni. The Brazilian street skating star has five X-Games medals to her name and has tied the decade-old record for most golds for a woman in the sport. And with skateboarding making its Olympic debut in 2021, the 27-year-old is about to become a household name. Bufoni moved from her hometown of São Paulo in 2007 to train in Southern California. She cites spending time in the water while wake-surfing, her “third-favorite sport” behind skateboarding and soccer, as aiding her recovery regimen when she gets the inevitable injuries that come from going cabeça a cabeça with gravity.

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Licypriya Kangujam. She’s half Greta Thunberg’s age but has all of the teen climate change leader’s spunk. And Kangujam, 9, is paving her own way in India, pushing the Modi administration to pass climate change laws and warning that if action isn’t taken, the earth will be uninhabitable “by the time I grow up.” Read more on OZY. 

Stella Nyanzi. They tried to silence her with a prison term for “cyberbullying” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. But a court order commuted her 18-month sentence, providing another example of how the 46-year-old mother and activist refuses to be cowed. And ahead of Uganda’s 2021 elections, the former journalist and anthropologist is working to diminish Museveni, in power since 1986, with whatever it takes — from petty insults to provocative poems to baring her breasts in protest. Read more on OZY.

Damario Solomon-Simmons. The 44-year-old civil rights attorney is paving the way for reparations, beginning at the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that stopped a burgeoning Black Wall Street in its tracks. His argument? That the city’s racial division and tension stems from that century-old wrong, in which neither the city nor insurance companies ever compensated victims for their economic and emotional losses. The Oklahoma native, a vegan and owner of a six-pound poodle, is taking up civil rights cases of families who have lost loved ones to police violence and college football players looking for compensation for enduring racism. Read more on OZY.

Eszter Nagy. The Secretary General of the Union of European Federalists in Hungary is a former diplomat dismayed by her nation’s turn away from its commitment to a healthy partnership with the European Union and the democratic backsliding that has followed. However, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continues to assert control, Nagy also doesn’t spare criticism for the EU — which, she says, needs leaders willing to make “braver political decisions” with “real consequences.” As the tension between Hungary and the EU comes to a boil in 2021, Nagy will be in the middle of it.


Saweetie. This aspiring mogul may well be the next Rihanna, given her dream of building a billion-dollar multi-industry global brand. The rapper behind “Icy Grl,” “My Type” and “Tap In,” Saweetie, 27, describes her sound as: “it’s bougie, it’s bossed up, it’s inspirational.” And this California native, who first caught notice on Instagram, is now a TikTok sensation who will be dominating your screens in 2021. Watch Her on ‘The Carlos Watson Show.’

Justin Simien. His latest film, Bad Hair, is a horror flick about a bloodsucking weave that has political relevance you may not expect. No, really. For Simien, 37, the creator of Dear White People who considers being Black and queer his superpower, the unexpected has come to be expected. The world is now eagerly awaiting his entrance into the Star Wars canon: Simien is developing a show around the classic character Lando Calrissian for Disney+. Watch Him on ‘The Carlos Watson Show.

Noname. She is a rapper with a conscience, and she’s not going away. Noname’s biggest moment of 2020 was probably her public feud with rapper J. Cole, which she owned with a stunningly powerful 70-second diss track, “Song 33.” But far more than a diss track, it showed her depth as an advocate for causes like defund the police. Unafraid to go after the likes of Barack Obama and Beyoncé, Chicago’s own Noname, 29, will be a force to be reckoned with in the new year in music, activism and literature. She founded Noname’s Book Club to lift up marginalized writers. Read more on OZY.

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones. The 28-year-old is a New Yorker born in London to Nigerian parents, and his rich, stunning paintings speak to his Yoruba heritage, with stylized figures and an appreciation for the natural world. A Yale and Oxford graduate, Adeniyi-Jones gained buzz in 2020 when he was featured in the collection Young, Gifted and Black, and his gifts are now on display in Los Angeles, with more to come in the new year.

A New Vision for America

America has a new look to it these days. OZY has dedicated its editorial mission this year to the idea that it’s time to Reset America, and we haven’t yet seen the kind of wholesale change this movement would require. If you take another look — or even employ augmented reality, as one of our profile subjects does this week — you can see a new country starting to emerge. Perhaps it’s the advancing conversation on police reform or the changing of administrations, with the new White House set to work with a Congress that’s more diverse than ever on both sides of the aisle. It’s been a trying year. But today’s Sunday Magazine invites you to take a glance from a new angle at the positive change we’re already seeing.

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the new trailblazers

Mark Robinson. The first Black lieutenant governor in North Carolina history was a factory worker just a couple of years ago, until his impassioned speech against gun control at a Greensboro City Council meeting went viral. Now he’s a certified Republican star, with an unlikely triumph in his first-ever run for office positioning him for a place on the national stage. Read more on OZY.

Antonio López. Poet to politician is not the usual path, but neither is rising from the rough neighborhoods of East Palo Alto to earning a Ph.D. from Stanford. López is an unusual sort, and his quest to fight gentrification will continue after winning a tight race to get on the East Palo Alto City Council. At just 26, the sky’s the limit. Read more on OZY.

Saweetie. Rising superstar Saweetie wants to be more than just a musician: She’s out to build a billion-dollar multi-industry global brand as the next Rihanna. In a revealing chat on The Carlos Watson Show, the artist behind “Icy Grl,” “My Type” and “Tap In” shares the story behind her love affair with fellow rapper Quavo, how her relationship with her grandmother continues to shape her career — and her politics — and why sports is her true first love, over music. Watch Now.

Charles Overton. Overton cuts an unlikely figure when he performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Boston Pops: Only 1.8 percent of musicians in American orchestras are Black, and only 6 percent of harpists are men. Plus, he’s a harpist who not only regularly performs classical masterpieces but also excels in jazz, from gentle to almost avant garde. You’re going to want to hear his harp take on Notorious BIG’s “Big Poppa,” and read how the 26-year-old launched a classical response to George Floyd’s death. Read more on OZY.

Lamorne Morris. The questions started coming as soon as it was revealed that Damon Wayans Jr. would rejoin the New Girl cast: Was Morris out? “We can have two Black dudes on a show. We can. Watch. It’ll be fun,” Morris would say, as he recounts on The Carlos Watson Show. Now he’s breaking more ground on the Hulu hit Woke, a comedic yet meaty examination of what happens when someone who just wants to be left out of the political-racial debates of the day suddenly can’t ignore them anymore. Watch Now.

Cosette Rinab. The 21-year-old college student and fashion creator sued Donald Trump … and won. Rinab, who boasts more than 2.3 million followers on TikTok (and partnerships with Dolce & Gabbana and Levi’s), was one of the lead plaintiffs in a challenge to the Trump administration’s ban of the platform as a national security threat. She and other major influencers leveraged their followings to wage a legal and PR campaign against the pending ban on TikTok downloads, which they argued was an attack on free speech and their livelihoods. The influencers won their case in Pennsylvania, and the Trump administration has delayed its still-pending TikTok ban.

the new ideas

Facing the Rising Heat. The Biden administration has signaled a reversal from the Trump years on climate change, from rejoining the Paris climate accords to appointing former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate czar. But a closely divided Congress will likely stymie major climate legislation. In any case, the real innovation these days is happening in cities like New York, Copenhagen and China’s Xiong’an New Area, as our special report with Goldman Sachs reveals. Read more. 

Yes, There’s a Free Lunch. Right now, nearly every school in America can hand out meals for free, thanks to the emergency extension of a federal school food program meant to provide no-cost meals to kids during the summer. The program is set to expire at the end of the school year, but perhaps the initiative that’s helping fight the rising scourge of child hunger should become permanent. Read more on OZY, from the Hechinger Report.

Say Goodbye to Debt? Another pandemic innovation that could become permanent: The halting of federal student loan payments. Advocates say Biden could simply cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower with the stroke of a pen. The decision would be hugely consequential — and controversial — for millions. But aside from the political fight, it could also come with huge tax liability for the recipients if the IRS follows existing policy that counts loan forgiveness as income.

Unions’ GOP Embrace. A political alignment that’s seen GOP gains among working class voters of color, coupled with college-educated white voters moving toward Democrats, means conservative populism is here to stay — with or without Trump. For GOP senators with evident presidential dreams like Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio, that means an end to “free market fundamentalism” and a new willingness to benefit working-class earners at the expense of the wealthy when cutting taxes. For conservative thinkers like Oren Cass, it also means an embrace of labor unions and collective bargaining rights, long an area where Democrats dominated. It’s already sparking heated debate within the party. Read more on OZY.

Rethinking Police Oversight. Election Day saw several criminal justice reform measures pass at the state and local level in response to this year’s racial reckoning. Perhaps the most intriguing came in Portland, Oregon, one of America’s most liberal cities and the scene of many a clash involving antifa and far-right rivals. The city overwhelmingly voted to dissolve its police oversight board and put in place a new more independent system with teeth — including subpoena power and the ability to fire officers.   

Boosting Black Business. From February to April of this year alone, 440,000 Black-owned businesses closed their doors permanently, with the pandemic hitting Black-owned firms harder than white-owned ones. But initiatives are sprouting up like #BuyBlackFriday, encouraging shoppers to support Black-owned businesses. And JPMorgan Chase is helping businesses weather the crisis with free instruction on everything from supply chain management to cash flow, via its Advancing Black Pathways program. Read more on OZY.

Jiu Jitsu for Police. Given all that’s gone on this year, it’s worth asking whether police officers and the communities they serve might be better off if cops had something other than guns to subdue unruly suspects. Enter Brazilian jiu jitsu training, which has been advocated by former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang and others.  Read more on OZY.

Baby Bonds. What if every American got $1,000 in an account managed by the government on the day they were born that they could access when they turn 18? The notion floated by Sen. Cory Booker during the presidential primaries is gaining more steam as a way to close the racial wealth gap. While such an expense is unlikely to go far in Congress, New Jersey is proposing a state level baby bond and others could follow.


the new american history

An Augmented View. The debate over statues and monuments has roiled America in recent years, so Glenn Cantave carved out a new vision. The social entrepreneur and activist has created an app via his nonprofit, Movers & Shakers, that uses augmented reality to create new digital monuments. For example, you can see Shirley Chisholm on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or Jackie Robinson hitting a home run at the site of the old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and students can even take selfies with their chosen monuments. It’s all part of his effort to revamp how students learn history. Read more on OZY.

A South Dakota Story. The extermination of Native Americans is a subject often glossed over in school, but one vitally important to the story of America. A visit to the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre can be poignant and valuable, and as one OZY author finds out, carries a twist when one pulls out a $20 bill featuring “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson. Read more on OZY.  

The Election Day Massacre. You probably didn’t hear about this in school, and even many residents of Ocoee, Florida, didn’t know their own troubled history. But a century ago this small town was the scene of the worst incident of election violence in American history, when white men attacked hundreds of Black residents, killing dozens, because they had the audacity to vote. Subscribe to OZY’s deep dive podcast here.

States of Awakening. For the first time next year, the Ocoee massacre will be a required lesson in Florida schools. It’s the result of a new state law beefing up instruction about Black history and anti-Semitism — and a nationwide trend of states and districts taking a new look at long-whitewashed curricula. That includes New Jersey, where oversight will be tightened and education about social justice movements will be required under a bill that awaits the governor’s signature. Meanwhile, many schools are starting to teach The 1619 Project, based on the New York Times initiative showing how the founding, development and even modern timeline of the U.S. is entwined with its enslavement of Africans. A conservative group is countering with a Black history curriculum called 1776 Unites that rejects “victimhood culture.”

Alabama … Communism? Before she lit the spark of the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks protested Jim Crow in another way: Attending underground communist meetings. This long untold aspect of the world famous civil rights leader’s identity — she was also a sexual assault investigator — helped shape her activism, along with many of her cohorts in Alabama. Read more on OZY.

A New Kind of Monument. An Oakland homeowner has launched a project to create a massive mural on the side of her house depicting the women of the Black Panther Party, often overshadowed by their male comrades. One of the women on the front lines was Cheryl Dawson, who has stories to share about the FBI watching her every move. Read more on OZY.


the new administration

Veep Power. We don’t know yet what kind of policy portfolio or West Wing influence Kamala Harris will have, though President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that his vice president will be a governing partner. But we do know that the barrier-breaking daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants will be a cultural phenomenon: Harris is already an inspiration to Black girls, and it’s hard to imagine Biden inspiring viral images like this portrait or her casting a shadow of a young Ruby Bridges. Read more on OZY about the Kamala Effect.

Security Squad. Biden rolled out his top national security Cabinet and White House picks last week — including veteran diplomats Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations ambassador — to reinforce the message to the world that “America’s Back.” They’re steady hands and experienced minds expected to collectively work at undoing Trump’s “America first” policy choices. Read more on OZY.

The Power Brokers. An office in the West Wing is nice, but political power often derives from forces beyond the White House. Whether it’s defeated congressional candidates like Jaime Harrison, economic policy wonks like Heather Boushey, key senators like Susan Collins or intel veterans like Carrie Cordero, it’s time to get to know the power centers of the Biden era. Read more on OZY.

Insight from the Inside. Valerie Jarrett has been in the room. The close adviser to President Barack Obama who ran the Bush-Obama transition reveals how Obama and Biden operated, and how the White House responded to crises. Check out what she has to say on The Carlos Watson Show about what would surprise you about Obama and what to expect from the new administration. Watch Now.

The Best Money Advice Lamorne Morris Ever Got … From Zooey Deschanel

You know him as Winston from the sitcom New Girl, and you will know him from his compelling new project, Woke, on Hulu. Now you’ll get to know another side of Lamorne Morris in a revealing interview with OZY’s CEO and co-founder on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show. The following are some of the best cuts, edited and condensed from the full conversation, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

Waking Up to ‘Woke’

Watson: How do you describe the show to people who haven’t seen it? When you’re telling people about the show, what do you say?

Morris: I usually say it’s about a guy who kind of walks the political road ambiguously. He just wants to be left alone. He wants to do his art. He wants to do his work and just have a little bit of fun and go home and hang out with his friends and not really be bothered. He knows what’s going on in the world, but doesn’t know if he has a voice. And if he did have a voice, he didn’t know what good it would be. No one would listen. Who would care? Until something happens to him one day, and he has to make that decision. He’s an intellectual guy. He’s a bright guy. And he does have a huge fan base of people that follow his work. And the question is what do you do with a voice if you realize you have one? Do you put it to good use? Or do you just take the paycheck and go on about your merry way? So that’s how I describe the show to people.

And also I pose that question to people as well. What would you do if you suddenly were faced with this thing that was consuming your life, this bout of racism all of a sudden that seemed like it came from out of nowhere? What would you do? Do you speak up, even if it could cost you your job, your career, your livelihood? Or do you stand by the wayside and kind of let everybody else handle it? And again, that’s what gravitated me towards the show, is because that’s how I felt. For the longest time in my life, I just felt like, yes, we got smart people like you. You know what I mean? I’ll leave that to you. I’ll leave that to everybody else out there. I’ll leave that to Cornel West. I don’t know what I could add to this conversation.

But it’s more so about, even if you have the smallest bit of intellect on a subject matter, speak on it. Address it because it’s not just about educating people. It’s also about what you put out there, seeing what’s going to come back to you. We’ll have a conversation, and I’ll tell you something, and if I’m wrong, and if I’m talking to the right person, they’ll correct me, and therefore, helping form my opinion even more. And so a lot of folks out there feel like they don’t have this voice, so they don’t have knowledge on a situation. They don’t want to say the wrong thing. They don’t want to get canceled, which I get, and I understand. But always be a work in progress. Always be learning. And that’s who Keith Knight is.

Parental Influence

Watson: Were either of your parents actors? Do you come from a long line of actors?

Morris: No, no. Well, my mom studied a little bit back in high school. They came over from Belize when my mom was about 9 or 10. And in school she studied theater. She did a little bit of modeling here, all while she was younger. And then in college years, started having kids. And so we talk about all the time, how she left that passion behind. But she’s so funny, my mom is. We’re always talking about putting her in something, as much as I can, I always get her involved with what I’m doing. She’s a poet. She writes. So I definitely get that creative side from my mom.

Watson: And what about your dad? What was your dad up to? What did he do?

Morris: So my dad was an athlete growing up, soccer player, track coach. But, those middle years, when I was young, my dad was a bit a misfit, if you will. Let’s just say my dad was in the wrong business of pharmaceuticals.

Watson: OK. OK.

Morris: My daddy was a drug dealer. Daddy was a drug dealer.

Watson: And did you realize that at the time?

Morris: Nope. When you’re a kid, everything is just normal. So I had nothing to put it in perspective. I had no context for what was happening in our household. I saw my mom busting her butt, working crazy hours just to provide for us. But then I would see this man around the house sometimes who just wasn’t all the way there. And I would see the dynamic in our house, but it never hit me until I got older. When you get older and you start to see the way other families live, you ask questions about your upbringing. Why didn’t we have this? Why couldn’t we get that? When you’re a kid, all you do is want stuff.

I want to get the new Jordans. I want to get this and then can’t afford it. And then you look around and you go, “Well, why not? Dad’s got money.” And it’s like, “Well, that money’s going to that dude over there who’s giving him a package, and he’s going to do this.” It’s all these weird things. As a kid, I’ve been to drug deals, as a kid. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I had no idea what was going on. There’s a funny story about my brother when he was younger. We were at a park once and my brother gave away, I’m not sure if I’m telling the story right, my brother gave away a massive amount of weed in a bag once that my dad was supposed to be delivering to somebody, but my brother had it and … just gave it away to somebody else for free.

Watson: Did you ever get to talk to him about it? Did you guys ever have conversations once you got older? Maybe even the last few years, have you been able to have that kind of conversation?

Morris: Not really. I’ll be honest with you, not really. And part of that’s on me, to be quite honest with you. I haven’t had the face time with my dad. He’s in Belize right now. I just had a conversation with him over FaceTime recently, for an unfortunate situation. My grandmother passed. So his mom passed. So, we talked, we were talking on FaceTime a little bit, just playing catch-up. But prior to that, it had been over 25 years, 20-something years that we had spoken.

Zooey Deschanel’s Money Advice

Watson: Hey, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about money?

Morris: I remember when I was on New Girl, when I first started the show, I wanted to buy a BMW, and to me at the time, I was like, “Man, that’s a big step,” because I had this really dope Jeep Cherokee with the doors would come off, but it wasn’t an expensive car. It wasn’t an expensive car at all. I remember wanting to buy this car that was 6 Series BMW at the time. I think it was $85,000. From where I come from, man, you don’t do stuff like that. And I remember Zooey pulling me to the side and going … At the time I was renting an apartment and she’s like, “That’s a pretty expensive car,” and this is Zooey. This is coming from a millionaire, like Zooey, she was already rich before she started New Girl. And she goes, “That’s a real expensive car.” She goes, “What are you paying in mortgage?” And I was like, “I don’t. I have rent. I’m paying X amount dollars in rent.” And she goes…

And it took me a while to understand that, that I mean, you’ve got to get a house first. You’ve got to start building some equity. You’ve got to start saving. You’ve got to start building these assets before you start buying things that decrease in value. I did not listen to her, but I do regret it in the future. I wish I would have done things in reverse. I wish I would’ve got the house first, started learning how to build that building and that homeowner’s mindset before I started trying to look cool, because let me tell you something, if you’ve got to get the right car to look cool, then you ain’t cool.

Biden Won. Now What?

It’s all over. Apart from the shouting … and the potential constitutional crisis, that is. The Associated Press and major TV networks called the presidential race for Joe Biden on Saturday morning, as mail ballots in Pennsylvania put the state firmly in his column. But President Donald Trump has shown no indication that he will concede. So now what? Your Daily Dose is here to serve.

what’s next

Concession Speech? Trump’s blazing White House appearance Thursday, in which he hurled baseless assertions of fraud, was reportedly designed to get ahead of Fox News and other outlets formally calling the race for Biden. After Biden pulled ahead Friday morning in Pennsylvania, conservative attorney Jonathan Turley said on Fox News that Trump could have “the greatest moment of his career” by “bringing Americans together, even in a concession speech.” Now, that would be the ultimate 2020 twist, but we’re not betting on it.

The Legal Landscape. Trump has alleged a massive fraud and his team has filed a flurry of lawsuits, but none have yet turned from innuendo to facts that held up in court. Friday afternoon, the president issued a lawyerly statement demanding “full transparency” into vote counts and certification. “We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government,” he said. But the way the counts are going, he’d have to invalidate more than 10,000 ballots in multiple states. 

Pressure State Legislatures. He hasn’t gone there yet, but the next phase for Trump could be to formally urge GOP governors and legislators to go against their official ballot totals and appoint Trump electors to the Electoral College, for Congress to certify in January, sparking a constitutional crisis. Chatter on the right picked up on this tack Thursday, and Fox News host Sean Hannity floated the idea to Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said “everything should be on the table.” How would those lawmakers react? Pennsylvania Republicans have already said no dice … or at least they did before the election. In either case, it’s time to read up on Electoral College procedure.

Testy Transition. Trump’s administration will likely try to implement as many policy changes as possible, such as undermining civil service protections for federal employees to hit back against the so-called deep state. He could also destroy documents, in contravention of the Presidential Records Act, to hide anything unseemly and make things harder for a Biden administration. But there is a limit to how much Trump could do, given how the transition is legally controlled largely by career civil servants — not Trump appointees. And then there are always the true wild-card options, like a new military incursion overseas.

Pardon Time. Issuing 11th-hour pardons is a time-honored presidential tradition, with perhaps the most infamous being Bill Clinton pardoning hedge funder Marc Rich of tax evasion after his ex-wife made copious donations to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. Trump hasn’t exactly been shy about pardons and commutations, using one for confidant Roger Stone. Steve Bannon or Rudy Giuliani could be up next. Even if people haven’t been charged, Trump can still pardon them, as was the case for the past presidential pardons of Richard Nixon, Vietnam War draft evaders and former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The biggest question here is whether, facing all kinds of legal exposure once he leaves office, Trump would elect to pardon himself — and if it would hold up. Read OZY’s 2017 look at self-pardons.

lessons from past contested elections

Franklin Roosevelt Takes the Oath of Office

2000: Bush v. Gore. This election wasn’t decided by the Supreme Court until Dec. 12, 2000, when it halted Florida’s recount. Democrats believe they would have won the race had they taken a more aggressive tack sooner, and Gore’s early — later retracted — concession to Bush when the networks called Florida cost them. Biden’s team has indicated they have learned these lessons and will have Biden act as the incoming president even as Trump continues with lawsuits or sowing doubt. For more on the 2000 race, check out OZY’s The Campaigns That Made History on HISTORY. Watch Now.

1932: FDR vs. Hoover. This wasn’t a contested election — Franklin Delano Roosevelt won in a landslide, with 417 electoral votes — but it gives us a window into a messy transition. President Herbert Hoover steadfastly refused to take any actions to stem the free fall of the economy, doing everything in his power to put the brakes on a New Deal before Roosevelt could take office. In the wake of the political rivals’ noncooperation, the transition period was shortened, and the presidential inauguration was moved from March to January.

1920: The Ocoee Massacre. The worst incident of election violence in U.S. history occurred with a massacre of Black people in the little town of Ocoee, Florida, a century ago. In a special miniseries of OZY’s hit history podcast, Flashback, with guest host Eugene S. Robinson, hear from the descendants of some of the survivors — and explore how the massacre still haunts the country today. Listen Now.

the biden agenda

Joe and Mitch. During the Obama administration, Biden as vice president often found himself negotiating last-minute budget deals with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The two men who served together for decades will now have the most consequential relationship in Washington, assuming McConnell remains majority leader — which would appear to require Republicans to win one of two January runoff elections in Georgia. A GOP Senate means much of the Biden agenda is off the table, so what could get done?

COVID Relief. The first order of business for Biden — assuming a lame-duck Trump and Congress have no interest in striking a deal — will be an economic rescue package. Senate Republicans have shot down the notion of a package topping $1 trillion in recent months, and we’ll see if the economy deteriorates by January, but expect this to be a tortured negotiation not unlike the 2009 stimulus — except that Biden will need to woo substantially more Republicans this time. With both parties eager for more spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, there may be opportunities to mirror the stimulus in other ways.

Foreign Policy. Biden will be an unusually active foreign policy president, given his long history in international affairs and his pledge to heal ruptures with longtime allies and to rebuild the State Department. Foreign policy is often something presidents turn their attention to after being frustrated by Congress or as a legacy builder in their second term. In Biden’s case, he will likely face a GOP Senate from the jump and is widely expected not to run for reelection — meaning he will have even more reason to leap onto the global stage. Look for him to rejoin the Paris climate accord and try to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal, though it’s unclear whether Tehran has any interest in playing ball at this stage.

the future of polling

How Bad Was It? The easiest punching bag once the results came flowing in was the pollsters, who had almost universally pegged leads for Biden in the key states. The RealClearPolitics average of all polls found Biden about 0.9 percentage points ahead in Florida, while FiveThirtyEight (which weights for quality ratings of pollsters) had Biden ahead by 2.5. He lost by 3.4 points. The same story unfolded from Wisconsin to Ohio to Texas: The polls, particularly so-called gold-standard media polls with live call surveys, underestimated support for Trump. This wasn’t the case everywhere: Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina polls ended up pretty close to the tight results, and as mail ballots stream in, the final results will look a lot closer to the polls than they did on election night. But in all, it appeared at least as big a polling miss as the 2016 election — even if Biden is the overall winner. 

What About OZY’s Forecast? Our final numbers, in partnership with the data firm 0ptimus, gave Biden an 88 percent chance of winning, and pegged him at 320 electoral votes. If Biden ends up winning Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, as seems likely, he ends up with 306 electoral votes. Our numbers were further off for the House (where we predicted a small gain for Democrats, but where they will lose several seats) and the Senate (where we predicted a 53-47 Democratic majority, and it appears Dems will need to pull off the unlikely feat of winning both Georgia runoffs to get to 50). 

What Has to Change? Pollsters need to do a better job of reaching non-college-educated people, who form the bulk of Trump’s base. Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group, the GOP pollster who predicted Trump to win this time and ended up closer to the final results than many major pollsters, has tried briefer phone calls and surveys where respondents reply via text. A lengthy phone survey “is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored,” he said before the election.

Is It Just Trump? An intriguing note: the polls — except in Florida — were pretty spot-on about the 2018 midterms. So this nearly industrywide miss could be a function of not being able to properly gauge Trump’s support.

Should We Stop Trusting Them Altogether? Or perhaps stop believing they’re so precise. Polls come with a margin of error, which works both ways — meaning that a poll showing Biden ahead 50-42 with a 4 percentage point margin of error could also theoretically indicate a tied race if Biden loses 4 points and Trump gains 4. Turnout is also incredibly hard to model: If pollsters’ expectations about who is going to vote is off by just a couple of points, it can skew results even further. And don’t forget that this year’s pandemic made turnout modeling even more difficult, given the historic levels of participation and the surge of mail-in voting.

what would a biden cabinet look like?


Secretary of State. Biden’s global focus means he will have an intense working relationship with his secretary of state and is likely looking for familiarity. Susan Rice, the Obama administration national security adviser and vice presidential contender, is a clear favorite, but former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power might have an easier time getting confirmed in the Republican Senate. Longtime diplomat William Burns, now head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is also a top candidate. Looking for a wild card? How about former Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the onetime Foreign Relations Committee chairman who was harshly critical of Trump before leaving the Senate and would be a sign of outreach to Republicans.

Secretary of the Treasury. Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, is considered the front-runner here, a centrist who has made overtures to the left, not unlike Biden himself. Progressives would much prefer Sen. Elizabeth Warren in this role to implement at least a version of the “big structural change” she talked about on the presidential campaign trail. One complicating factor: Massachusetts’ Republican governor would get to appoint Warren’s Senate replacement until a special election could be held, a terrifying thought for the Democrats if the Senate ends up 50-50.

Attorney General. Sally Yates, who famously stood up to Trump’s immigration orders at the beginning of his administration, is seen as the top pick here — and would be another one who disappoints the left, as she was stingy with pardons while serving in the Obama administration. Also in the mix: Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who has an extensive record of civil rights prosecutions and just lost reelection, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, an aggressive litigant against the Trump administration.

Secretary of Defense. Michele Flournoy is widely expected to be tapped for this role, and would be the first woman to hold the defense secretary post. A trailblazing, high-ranking Pentagon official during the Obama administration, she is considered a “liberal realist” — favoring the use of force at times but not excessively interventionist.

Team of Rivals? In addition to Warren, other former presidential hopefuls could also be in the mix. Andrew Yang discussed a possible administration role on The Carlos Watson Show, floating a newly created tech-related post rather than a Cabinet role like commerce secretary. Pete Buttigieg has been discussed for U.N. ambassador.

rising stars to watch


Karen Bass. The knives are out for Nancy Pelosi. After surprise losses in several seats shrank the expected Democratic House majority heading into January, Pelosi got an earful from her members on a conference call. The 80-year-old speaker had pledged to step down by 2022 to secure the necessary votes for the speakership after a challenge two years ago. Now she could face renewed pressure to step aside. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York is often discussed, and Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio challenged Pelosi last time. But keep an eye out for Bass, the popular but low-key former speaker of the California House who was on Biden’s vice presidential shortlist, to emerge as a consensus candidate. Watch Bass on The Carlos Watson Show.

Ashley Hinson. As House Republicans made surprising gains, a theme emerged: a rising tide of women. The House GOP caucus will add at least 10 newly elected women to its ranks, bringing it to a historic high. Among them is Hinson, a 37-year-old former TV journalist who notched an upset win over Rep. Abby Finkenauer and comes with ample experience for cable TV hits from the Capitol.

Greg Gianforte. He arrived in Congress with a bang in 2017, pleading guilty to assault for body-slamming a reporter who asked him about health care. But Gianforte was able to move on and rack up a conservative voting record, earning an endorsement from President Trump, and win the Montana governor’s race on Tuesday, picking up the state for Republicans in the only governor’s election to change parties this year. The former tech entrepreneur vows to streamline energy permits and reform the tax code.

The Wildcard Moves Trump Has Left

In our instant gratification world, it’s a bit maddening: It’s been two days since the election, and we still don’t know who the president will be come January. This is not in and of itself a sign of mischief, but rather a reflection of thousands of local jurisdictions methodically counting votes, many of which arrived in the form of time-consuming mail ballots, to decide a teeth-grittingly tight election. Today’s Daily Dose charts the path ahead, digs into the debates to come and explores how we heal when this is all over.

how does this end?

The Magic Number. Joe Biden has more paths to 270 electoral votes than President Donald Trump, but either one could pull this off. Of the remaining states in play, Trump needs almost all of them: He can afford to lose Nevada or Arizona, but not both. If he loses Georgia or (highly unlikely) North Carolina, he needs to sweep everywhere else. And if he loses Pennsylvania, it’s over. 

Legal Road Ahead. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Nevada (claiming out-of-state residents voted by mail) and in Georgia (its challenge in Savannah was tossed out this morning), but Pennsylvania is the legal epicenter. Trump’s early lead there — as widely predicted — is shrinking fast as mail ballots in Philadelphia and elsewhere are counted. Top Trump officials are making blanket claims of fraud and won a preliminary court victory early today to be allowed to more closely observe the count in Philadelphia. The key legal dispute is whether Pennsylvania can count ballots postmarked before Election Day but received in the days after (the Supreme Court punted on this preelection). But Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, said this afternoon that the result could become clear by tonight, and so few ballots arrived after Election Day that they likely won’t decide the winner.

Street Theater. Protests are starting to build — including confrontations with police in Minneapolis and Portland — with Biden supporters demanding to “count every vote.” In Arizona, armed Trump supporters protested outside a ballot-counting location, forcing it to close with employees locked inside. In Michigan, an anti-lockdown group banged on ballot counters’ windows in Detroit demanding to stop the count. Expect demonstrations to accelerate once a winner is declared.

Fox on the Outs. Sean Hannity was fired up. Starting his hit show on Fox News on Wednesday night, the Trump confidant delivered a monologue against a graphic blasting “Corrupt Institutions,” calling the election an “absolute disgrace” and raising various theories about fraud. But in the steady news coverage anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, Fox has played it straight — witness their sharp questions for Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany. Its decision desk’s early call of Arizona for Biden angered the Trump campaign, which on Thursday issued a press release attacking the head of the desk, Arnon Mishkin, by name and calling out that he is a Democrat. It’s all fueling a possible divorce between Trump and Fox that could hasten a post-presidency Trump forming his own media company.

trump’s wild card moves 

How far might the president go to hang on?

Send in Bill Barr. With Trump and his allies beating the drum about fraud, he could try to have the Department of Justice step in — to use federal authority to halt ballot counting in, say, Pennsylvania. In related news, the DOJ told federal prosecutors Wednesday that legally they could send armed officers to ballot-counting locations to investigate fraud.

Rival Electors. Republicans control the Legislature while Democrats hold the governor’s mansion in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. In Georgia and Arizona, Republicans hold both. This raises the possibility of GOP officials becoming so convinced the vote has been stolen that they appoint Trump-committed electors to the electoral college on Dec. 14 even if their states’ formal vote count goes to Biden, a notion conservative radio host Mark Levin is already floating. Democratic governors could also send rival electors backing Biden. The electoral votes are tallied by Congress on Jan. 6, and it’s unclear how they would deal with such a scenario. A dispute over electors in the 1876 election was settled with a disastrous compromise that ended post-Civil War Reconstruction.

Certified Mess. Say Trump keeps his legal challenges going and wants to stay put in the White House until they are resolved — and a divided Congress deadlocks on certifying a winner. In that case, we may not have a clear idea of who the president is at noon on Jan. 20, 2021. If Biden is sworn in, he could order the Secret Service to remove Trump from the White House as a trespasser. But he can’t get there without Congress. 

What About the Military? Put this under the most commonly discussed but least likely option, especially now that we’ve come this far in the count. There were ample preelection fears on the left that Trump would use the U.S. military at the ballot box or to quell protests or to remain in power, perhaps drumming up fears of a foreign threat. But the military has sent strong signals it has no interest in that route. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley reportedly told news anchors that the military would have no role in the election.

key results

A Georgia Pivot Awaits. Dismissed as “Buckhead Barbie” and buffeted by controversy for her pandemic stock trades, Sen. Kelly Loeffler was in trouble. But the multimillionaire finance executive — appointed to the seat as a moderate who would appeal to suburban women — survived a “jungle primary” with a hard-right turn that included campaigning with the QAnon-sympathetic Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene and cutting an ad declaring she was “more conservative than Attila the Hun.” Now she needs to run to the center ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff election against Democrat Raphael Warnock — a race that could decide whether the Senate stays Republican. Read more on OZY.

Saved by Black Voters … Again. Biden’s Democratic primary campaign was famously rescued by Black voters in South Carolina who helped springboard a moribund campaign to the party nomination. Now as the vote counts from Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta roll in at levels above what Hillary Clinton earned in 2016, it looks like it’s happening again.

Conservatives Cheer California. While some ballot measures in California are too close to call, conservatives are cheering many of the results in the overwhelmingly Democratic state: Voters approved a plan pushed by Uber and Lyft to keep classifying gig workers as independent contractors, rejected an effort to end cash bail, rejected a revival of affirmative action and rejected rent control measures.

A Cabinet Conundrum. One result of Republicans likely securing a Senate majority: They will have to confirm all Biden cabinet appointees. And that could put the kibosh on more progressive picks like Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Stacey Abrams, or even potential Secretary of State Susan Rice — who battled Republicans for years as they investigated the Benghazi attacks. Watch Rice on The Carlos Watson Show.

Drug War Peace Accords? Legal marijuana continues to sweep the country. New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona legalized recreational marijuana, while Mississippi legalized medical marijuana and the District of Columbia decriminalized psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms. Meanwhile, Oregon took the first-in-the-nation step of voting to decriminalize possession of all drugs — including heroin and cocaine.

the debates to come

People Without a Party. If Biden wins the White House, it will be due to margins built on the backs of people of color, particularly voters in key states’ majority-minority cities such as Milwaukee, Detroit and Atlanta. But the broader results — in which Trump may have won over a quarter of the nonwhite vote, the most of any Republican since 1960 — suggest that people of color are quickly becoming a people without a party that represents their needs. Routinely the Democratic Party and Biden campaign ignored the suggestions of Black leaders, funneling billions of dollars into advertisements that did little to reach, or improve the lives of, their minority base. And that lack of addressing their values and concerns could increasingly lead to voters becoming disenchanted, argues OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, trapped in a political homelessness with little faith that civic life can change their lives for the better.

MAGA Is Dead. Long Live MAGA. If Trump is in fact defeated, the close result will not be the repudiation of Trumpism many GOP establishment types craved. Trump will hold a grip on the party no matter what — and could even run again in 2024. The close result, even amid a historic pandemic, showed the power of his political style — and ability to turn out hidden Republicans in historic numbers, as he earned some 5 million votes more than he did in 2016.

The Road Ahead. This election is not over, and a power struggle could be afoot, but at some point we will all have to get together at Thanksgiving and hash this out. Can liberals ever find common ground with Trump supporters? Can Trump fans ever forgive how their president was treated by the left?

time to heal

We asked you to share your ideas on healing. Here’s what you had to say.

Linda D. — ”What I would like to see as one way to help bridge the ideological divide in the country is a ‘Senior Corps.’ This would be a Peace-Corps-like federal project that would enlist senior citizens to work on projects across the nation. Let’s put that retired talent to work on education, climate change, justice.”

James D. — “All self-proclaimed news media should actively attempt to take all bias out of their content. Give equal time to all sides of an issue. Never refer to one position with a negative term and the opposite with a positive term. Have pairs of editors from both liberal and conservative viewpoints and make sure stories go through both before going out the door.”

Mike D. — ”How about Democrats start with rebranding things in a less inflammatory style? Slogans like ‘defund’ and ‘abolish’ the police are really good at evoking knee-jerk negative reactions from those who might otherwise agree with more subtle and nuanced phrases like ‘reform’ or ‘restructure.’ … The anger is justified, but you’re shooting yourselves in the foot!”

Scott O. — “I think that it is imperative that all voices be heard and that all areas of common ground should be explored. I know it sounds like a big data-mining project, but I’m imagining something more organic. Maybe sort of a Facebook reboot, with all the nastiness filtered out, so people can just connect around common interests.” 

Maryse C. — “I don’t watch TV news as often. I read the news online only when I need to be informed. I take days off of social media. … Overall I put my trust in God!”