Bourbon 'n BrownTown

Ep. 95 - Home

Episode Summary

BrownTown on BrownTown. As SoapBox (the film and movement media hub that powers Bourbon 'n BrownTown) moves into its first-ever office, Caullen and David discuss their journeys finding and curating spaces to call home, personally and professionally. BrownTown affirms housing as a human right while examining Chicago and America's dialectical relationships -- the housing crisis and Bring Chicago Home legislation, decades of US imperialism and caring for asylum seekers, Wall Street bailouts and billionaire tax breaks while the working many unionize for better workplaces, etc. While films like SoapBox's "Calvin's Story" (2016) create empathy, we must balance the interpersonal with the need to radically transform systems if we are ever to bring everyone home. Originally recorded June 19, 2023.

Episode Notes

BrownTown on BrownTown. As SoapBox (the film and movement media hub that powers Bourbon 'n BrownTown) moves into its first-ever office, Caullen and David discuss their journeys finding and curating spaces to call home, personally and professionally. BrownTown affirms housing as a human right while examining Chicago and America's dialectical relationships -- the housing crisis and Bring Chicago Home legislation, decades of US imperialism and caring for asylum seekers, Wall Street bailouts and billionaire tax breaks while the working many unionize for better workplaces, etc. While films like SoapBox's Calvin's Story (2016) create empathy, we must balance the interpersonal with the need to radically transform systems if we are ever to bring everyone home. Originally recorded June 19, 2023.

Full Transcriptions Here!

Topics Mentioned:


CREDITS: Intro soundbite from PBS Newshour and outro music Dirty Money by Diddy ft. Skylar Grey. Episode photo by James  Murray of SoapBox. Audio engineered by Kiera Battles.


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Episode Transcription

Ep. 95 - Home

BrownTown on BrownTown. As SoapBox (the film and movement media hub that powers Bourbon 'n BrownTown) moves into its first-ever office, Caullen and David discuss their journeys finding and curating spaces to call home, personally and professionally. BrownTown affirms housing as a human right while examining Chicago and America's dialectical relationships -- the housing crisis and Bring Chicago Home legislation, decades of US imperialism and caring for asylum seekers, Wall Street bailouts and billionaire tax breaks while the working many unionize for better workplaces, etc. While films like SoapBox's "Calvin's Story" (2016) create empathy, we must balance the interpersonal with the need to radically transform systems if we are ever to bring everyone home. Originally recorded June 19, 2023.


(Intro soundbite from PBS Newshour)

[00:00:51.310] - Judy Woodruff: 

I want to come back, finally, to why people- so many people are homeless in this country. I know I hear many people saying, well, they think- they'll say it's because of mental illness, or they think it's because of substance abuse. But as you suggested earlier, it is more complicated than that.

[00:01:09.030] - Nan Roman: 

It really is about affordable housing and wages. I will age myself, but I'll say when I first started working in the late 70s, there really was- on housing issues- there was not a homeless- very very few people were homeless. And what's changed since then is that then there was an adequate supply of affordable housing, and now we're 7 million units short, and that's the driver. If housing is affordable, people will be housed, they won't be living on the street. It's really housing is not affordable that they're homeless.


[00:01:40.090] - David: 

So I want to welcome all of our listeners to another installment of Bourbon 'n BrownTown. It's your boy David, coming to you from Chicago, Illinois. As always, hanging out with my boy Caullen. Caullen, man, how you doing today?

[00:01:53.730] - Caullen: 

I am doing alright.

[00:01:56.610] - David: 

The pause.

[00:01:58.050] - Caullen: 

Giving a good think, you know what I'm saying? I'm doing alright. Just busy with all the stuff, Soapbox wise, personal stuff wise. But the week has started off good. We're recording on Juneteenth, so shout out. If you got a Black friend, give them some money. If you are the Black friend, demand some money. They got to give it to you today. No, I'm feeling good. It's been an exciting month with a lot of moves, just with Soapbox stuff, with the projects, with some personal things on my own, getting out in the world a little more, seeing the dope homies that we know in Chicago movement artist space, putting on shows and stuff has been really heartwarming. I feel really excited and encouraged about the future of our work, as well as just my place in all of it, if I'm being honest. How are you doing on this fine Juneteenth Monday?

[00:02:49.110] - David: 

We're feeling great. I think- I'm very excited about this conversation just because I've been dealing with it on multiple fronts in terms of our conversation today. But we finally are finding some stability, which is fantastic; creating new habits, hopefully to just continue to help with- on personal notes, personal healing and stuff that's happened. I'm really excited about the summer. I'm back in Chicago.

[00:03:16.930] - Caullen: 

Summa summa summatime

[00:03:20.110] - David: 

I think we were talking about it two weeks ago and I was like, oh, how is everyone's summer going? It's like, it's not really summer yet. I guess I can't wait for it to get here. But yeah, it's also Juneteenth, so shout out to all the homies out there celebrating on today when we're recording. And so with that, I'd love to start introducing us to our conversation for today.

[00:03:42.420] - David: 

I think over the last few years- and Caullen, definitely jump in here- but I know folks may have heard on Bourbon 'n BrownTown that we've continued to look for a home. We're looking for a physical office space. And it's been a little bit. And I think that journey, while I think you've definitely done a wonderful job as the leader of SoapBox, being patient and being mindful of all the things we want versus all the things we need and finding that wonderful balance.

[00:04:12.140] - Caullen: 


[00:04:12.880] - David: 

I think it's definitely, at least on my end, really highlighted a couple things that are a little alarming. I think some of this is understanding some of this red tape, some of this bureaucracy and what it takes for SoapBox to have a home versus a human to have a home and things of that nature. And so I think for us here, how do we start defining what is a home. And then how do we look at that in the comparison of what America has created in the concept of white suburbia? And how I see it kind of is destroying the fabric of what I believe community kinda looks like. And so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on SoapBox's journey through finding this place we want to call home.

[00:05:04.980] - Caullen: 

For sure. I appreciate that question. Yeah. I think the critique on white suburbia is another podcast episode - bringing in urban policy, from Neoliberalism, from war on, and decades of stuff. But I think similarly to- I'll go macro and come micro as far as how cities are constructed, how the suburbs were intentionally created for white flight to become possible. They almost seem like "natural places". Like, oh, your house is built, they all look the same in this area, this is how it is. No, this is all very intentional, it's policy made and there is a heavy sprinkle of white supremacy and capitalism in how that was created to get white folks away from cities.

[00:05:46.970] - Caullen: 

But aside from that, as far as our journey as an organization finding a home, it's been interesting. I feel like Soapbox has been around in some capacity for a decade this month. Really, since 2018 on, we've been doing a lot more. And at one point in time, it was more part time for both of us. At one point in time, it was me with a camera just getting some protest footage and put some stuff together type of thing. Whereas now we put in tens of hours a week into what Soapbox is, and Bourbon 'n BrownTown is just a small part of it. And with the nature of the film stuff we do, we go out and we normally shoot on location and stuff, right? And so even before COVID having a physical space would be cool as an idea, but not super necessary. That's become necessary. And as we've gotten more funding and things, it became possible, right? And it's interesting, I've been talking about this a lot lately, how COVID and the uprisings made folks with the bag understand that how important story is and how important filmmaking media is, but also how important groups pushing for radical transformation is. And so because of those flashpoints in global history, we've been able to get more funding because they understand what we're doing, which is really affirming. And on that affirming journey, we started looking for places last year. And I think, to your point, a home, whether it's a business or whatever, there's some things you don't want to go without or live without. But also things are like, oh, it'd be cool if we have a pool.

[00:07:23.360] - Caullen: 

Do we need a pool? No. So I'll try to make it shorter. I think it's been really gratifying seeing it come together. And for listeners who don't know, which most folks don't, we were supposed to be in an office the first of this year, 2023.

[00:07:37.240] - David: 

I'm almost positive we said it on the New Year's episode with Kiera about like, this next recording we're going to be- it's going to be inside of a studio, yadda yadda.

[00:07:44.690] - Caullen: 

Life happens, weather happens, climate- I'm trying not to say climate change because it makes it sound very passive, like, oh, the climate's just changing. No, people are killing the planet, and have been for decades. So as the climate is

[00:07:57.670] - David: 


[00:07:58.160] - Caullen: 

slowly deteriorating because of the actions of men, we had a huge storm in the end of last year. We had a bunch of water damage in our place, luckily hadn't moved in yet. And so it's been pushed so many months. And it's frustrating, right? But also nice to give us more space, kind of think about what we actually want it to be. And so it's been really exciting. And I think it still hasn't hit me yet as much. I went to an event at Chicago Votes, shout out, in December. And I signed the lease right before I went to the event. Not knowing what the next eight months were going to be. But I kind of teared up. I was like, man, I just remember the days of thinking about what Soapbox was going to be type of thing, and seeing it come to this fruition.

[00:08:40.570] - Caullen: 

And part of it too, with the Home discussion is like, are we legitimate without a physical office? Of course we are. We don't need that. But we've come to a point where we want to build community, which one thinks that's important with a home and building an environment that's supportive. There are pros to having a physical space where people can come and just meet and be. Whether that's us talking through a project in real time and getting the creative juices flowing, it's different in person than it is over zoom, an art build for a campaign or for a direct action or something, meeting with an intern just kind of chopping up a little bit, it's different. And we're going to have space to film interviews and do more things and stuff as well. The stuff that we can share together, equipment and supercomputer for editing and stuff. Shout out James. Having that one place is going to be good. I'm very excited for this home for us. But I think to your point about your journey moving back to the city, and then there's my journey for just moving in different apartments for the past so many years.

[00:09:46.160] - David: 

Or different states.

[00:09:47.285] - Caullen: 

Or different states, yeah. So it's like, let's think about it and talk about it. What does a home look like and how's it different from what a house or apartment or that physical space is?

[00:09:56.420] - Caullen: 

And so I'm curious with you, you could tell listeners, the past what- two months, month really- been like for you finding a space? And really, just backing up a little bit, for a couple of years ago when we were living together, from then to now how you've  looked at a house or apartment versus a home?

[00:10:14.900] - David: 

Yeah, no. Thank you for that question, Caullen. I think it's really interesting, right? Because I think- if I take it back, just being 100, I take it back when I left my parents house, right. I think that was- the way in which that happened, I think, didn't leave me enough time to truly process what was happening. I wasn't just leaving my dad's house, I was, like, leaving a community, leaving my peoples, you know what I'm saying? And doing so in a way that necessarily wasn't the healthiest for everybody included.

[00:10:46.750] - Caullen: 

And how old were you? Can you ground us?

[00:10:48.450] - David: 

Yeah. We were a freshman in undergrad. And I think we may have talked about this at some moment, but there was opposite ends of understanding in terms of where I was spiritually, in terms of the church, which is now known to be a cult, and it's leaders in jail. So shout out to Naasón. Hope he's enjoying that. Never mind. *laughing* Wanna say something, but we got to keep it PG. Naw..

[00:11:21.050] - David: 

I think, from there, leaving my home, leaving what was my community, I think to a certain degree- and I don't know if you see it as such, moving states- but to me, Chicago became a new world for me. And so I think when I started, I knew nobody, really, I had no true connections. Most of the folks who I was friends with were part of the church, who I was no longer in community with. And so I think that kind of labeled things and made me look at, like, well, what is my community going to look like? What does my home want to include or not include? I think that's kind of changed. That's kind of definitely finessed as I've also grown, picked up language and understanding of what the system is constantly trying to do, which is to us...

[00:12:12.890] - David: 

But I think in searching, as of late, I think that's how I was able to meet you. Shout out to Craigslist, doing its thing. But to me, it's been more and more opportunity since I've left my house, since I left that community to start making my own. And I think, I don't know how else I could have done it if it wasn't for me getting kicked out of my house. Now, fast forward to 2023, I think it's awesome because I have a relationship with my family now. I have a relationship with my dad. And I go back to the home, right? And I think it's still different, but I think looking then for my own home, prepping and wanting to create my own space, I think that's been the most exciting. Because it's clear that healing has been done. It's clear that there's understanding. I'm also making a little more money, you know what I'm saying?

[00:12:54.841] - Caullen: 

We out here, we out here!

[00:12:55.750] - David: 

You know what I'm saying? So all of these things are aligning to a way that's like, okay, this is the next path. This is the next step. And for your boy, I, too, have been looking for an apartment since probably, like, December. Not super aggressive, but just scouting, looking at some stuff. So shout out to y'all bitch ass scammers for making our shit fucking hard.

[00:13:15.440] - Caullen: 

Anti shoutouts.

[00:13:19.870] - David: 

Anti shout outs. And then it started getting deeper and deeper into some of the issues of, you know I have a dog, Lola. She's, what some would consider, an aggressive breed. And so just learning all these rules.

[00:13:29.570] - Caullen: 

That sounds hella racist. "An aggressive breed." Like the breed itself is aggressive.

[00:13:33.570] - David: 

Bro, tell me! I don't mean to put my girl on the spot, but Cindy, we were talking about it, and she was super pissed off about like, yo, well, why don't they let Lola? She's super kind and you have her so well trained. And I was like, imagine, they do that to people. And it was a learning moment for us.

[00:13:46.030] - David: 

And she's like, well, what do you mean? I was like, let's take it back to 1940 here in Chicago, it's called redlining. It's when banks would not give access to those loans because you wanted a home in a spot that they didn't want you at. And Cindy's like, that's messed up. And I was like, I know they still kind of do it now. *laughing*

[00:14:00.493] - Caullen: 

I love that!

[00:14:01.690] - David: 

Right! I don't know. I think it's been exciting, but once again, it was just going through that. I think we'll talk to some of those details as we continue this conversation. But just realizing how difficult it can be. And this is for someone who has "everything we need", to be successful. I got my IDs, my social, my credit score ain't trash. You know what I'm saying? I'm supposed to be the good one, I'm good! But clearly that's not always the case.

[00:14:29.580] - David: 

And so that's kind of a little more context, which I appreciate even thinking about here with you. Just because it's been a journey, and I'm connecting it also with the journey of SoapBox. Of like, yeah, it started off with just me and you, and the office was our crib, right? We literally had a room that was our SoapBox office, ultimately. The walls were all SoapBox. Everything was SoapBox. And now it's gotten to a point where we're also now in that same step, all these things have aligned in a way that the next step is that, is to expand that community. And I think that's what this physical home is doing and does for folks, when we're talking about a home. And also, just to be clear, a home, not necessarily- whether it's a condo, an apartment, a garden unit, a three foot piece-

[00:15:12.690] - Caullen: 

A nice tent.

[00:15:13.730] - David: 

A home, we're defining that as such. But I think that's also important, to then look at how it is that some of these statistics, some of the information, some of the way the state just operates, does so not always in the best way. Not always in the best.

[00:15:30.200] - David: 

So to dive into the conversation, some hard facts. As we were prepping for the episode, we know homelessness is an issue, but it's so interesting to start looking at how different groups or institutions break up information. And so according to the Chicago Coalition for Homelessness- shout out, which is a nonprofit- they estimate about 65,000 people experienced homelessness in 2020. In that same note, looking at Point-in-Time Count, which is a citywide report prepared by the Center for the Neighborhood and Community Improvement, they actually only estimated that in 2020, there was 5,930. So, Caullen, why the fuck is there such a difference? And at first, I was like, wait, somebody has to be wrong here. I was just so shocked to see that these numbers are so different.

[00:16:25.340] - Caullen: 

That is a vast difference.

[00:16:26.810] - David: 

Vast number. Go ahead.

[00:16:28.840] - Caullen: 

Yeah. The short answer is, I don't know. And I'm sure someone who does this work is like, this is why!! They're screaming into their headphones. And I apologize. But I do think- a couple of things I think about with that is that one, I think that the... I guess I don't know how the average person thinks about homelessness, who has not ever experienced that. But the levels of it are nuanced in a way. You can be housing insecure, or somewhat secure that you have people you're kind of couch surfing here and there- you don't have an actual stable, consistent home type of thing. Which I think is kind of how the 65,000 number comes about. Which I think is real. I wouldn't want to have that kind of instability with where I might live, or where my things are, or where I can go all the time. That'd be horrible. But I think other entities maybe classify it as, you have not had a home for so long, or you've been in a shelter for so long.

[00:17:23.150] - Caullen: 

And so I do think, not to get away from the point, but when we hear stats, or think about data, how numbers are used... Numbers lie. I don't care what the rappers say, numbers lie. Anyone who's a statistician or does that work or works in data knows that numbers lie and data lies. You have to have really good methods and use them correctly and use algorithms. So this idea that these things are objective is untrue. And so I think this is a really good case in point for that.

[00:17:52.630] - Caullen: 

And one thing I mentioned before we started recording was like, we're talking about people in this way, right? And so I do think there's a need and an understanding that's necessary for numbers and data like this, that's done with good methods and done in good faith, to figure out some of these things on a broad level, to understand just how pervasive it is. And just for some scale, 65,000 folks experiencing homelessness in Chicago, if you're not from Chicago, we have 50 wards. They each have about 55,000 people in them. And so that's more than a wards worth of people who don't have a consistent home. You know what I'm saying? It's a fifth of the city- a 50th of the city, or more than that, they doesn't have a consistent home. And so when I hear that discrepancy, that's what I think of. And I know there's a better answer out there, but I think that's one thing for everyday folks or anyone just who's not in battle research. Just know, numbers do lie. What's your source? How'd you get them from? Just like media literacy, just reading these articles and stuff, seeing the corporate news and what have you, like, who's making these things and why? Who paid them to make that study? Right.

[00:18:59.640] - David: 


[00:19:00.250] - Caullen: 

So I think that's important to think about. But on the macro/ micro kind of thing, I think about with the stats being important, one of our first collaborations was with What Matters Production. Soapbox and What Matters Production, shout out Wilson. A friend of ours, Calvin Curtis, was surviving homeless at the time, he was going to age out of the youth programs they had. And so we made a short film following him around and showing his life, and then showing what he was really skilled with and wanted to get into professionally. We used the film to raise money for him to go to massage therapy school. But over the course of getting funds for the film and things, he found a stable life for himself, so he donated it back to La Casa Norte, a group that does a bunch of dope work and programming for young people surviving homelessness in Chicago.

[00:19:48.880] - Caullen: 

And so we see that sphere going in full circle, and we see Calvin, who got kicked out of his home because he was gay when he was younger. And we see the compounded harm of identity, and capitalism, and racism, and white supremacy, and we see folks just persevere, right? I think what's important, when I think about Calvin's story, the film also, Calvin as a dude, it's like, Calvin's not unique. And that's where these numbers come into play. And that's why I zoom out again and look at the work that we try to do with Soapbox is like, yeah, we want things to be- you want to create empathy, wanting to make stories so people will fall in love with our characters and folks we're talking to. But also to understand that there are systems behind this. It's not just a feel good story type of thing, or a feel bad story, but there's systems behind this. And that's where groups and people who are doing this work, who are fighting white supremacy, capitalism- especially when you talk about affordable housing and homelessness on a very radical level, and doing whatever they can do to get people a home/house, where that comes into play. But also with a liberatory means. I think we had an episode on the nonprofit industrial complex, which I highly suggest y'all listen to.

[00:21:03.240] - David: 

Shout out, Lizette.

[00:21:04.430] - Caullen: 

But there's groups that will claim the good thing but not have a- they're not trying to abolish capitalism. If you're not trying to do that, then you're not going to actually get rid of homelessness as a man-made issue, creation that we're doing. So in these conversations of... everything, but especially of a home, affordable housing, what have you, surviving these terrible conditions, I think it's important in the media we create and the relationships that we foster to have that root cause analysis, as well as doing the things you have to do in the meantime for people to survive.

[00:21:37.760] - David: 

Yeah, yeah. I think that's so awesome. And I think- you know, I was a little jelly because we were living together when you were working on Calvin's story. But I didn't know what I was doing. If I would have known, I would've been like, man, I could have been on that project? Shout out to our boy Sean Kelly, too, out there doing his thing.

[00:21:51.480] - David: 

But to me, seeing that play at Millennium park that day for their short stories thing, was probably the first time I really sat and just let it watch. And to me, what really sits is the reaction that everyone around us gave. Because it was clear that we were Soapbox and What Matters because of the way we were, yelling at the-

[00:22:14.080] - Caullen: 

Let's fucking go!!

[00:22:16.250] - David: 

And just to hear the way everyone- to me, and this sounds bad, but it made me sad to see that it took this for them to give a fuck about this type of a person. Because I think- and we start going into the definition of what does it mean to be homeless? What does it mean to be houseless? Language, let's look into these things. Oftentimes- and I love the way you started with, I don't know how the Average Joe Schmo understands homelessness, right? And I think it's intentional that they don't understand it. I think it's put then in a point of, this is just something you don't want to do. It's somewhere you don't want to be. You have to do everything in your power to maintain a space so that you're not one of those, right?

[00:23:00.570] - David: 

I think that's something that, when you're looking at it, something as beautiful as Calvin's story- which is, once again the film component of this- to me, it defines why our work is so important. But it's also so sad to me of why did it take you seeing Calvin talking about what he loves and the way he says it all nonchalantly, too, in the film, why he's homeless? The excuse seems so... it's not an excuse.. The reasoning behind it seems so... like, what do you mean? You're gay, you got kicked out? For some of us, right? So for others, it makes perfect sense. Like, oh, yeah, what the fuck? I don't know. I'm going down now this rabbit hole of language and why it's important. And how the media we create, but also the media that the system has continued to push out, reinforces these ideas of what it is for someone to be homeless or houseless. And I think then makes it difficult for then also other folks to have empathy towards those people.

[00:24:06.860] - Caullen: I like that. Well, with all the systems we talk about and critique on this show and outside of it, is that rugged individualism is a thing and it's coded with all the -isms we know to be true. And the narrative there is that, oh, you're in this situation because of you. You messed up, you did something wrong, whatever. It's not because the most wealthy time in history of the globe that only a couple percent of people own everything. It's not because of that, it's because you fucked up, right? And I look back at Calvin's story and I still think it's a beautifully shot, it's fun to watch.

[00:24:39.200] - David: 

Well done.

[00:24:39.820] - Caullen: 

Inspiring. But it's like, man, is it too liberal? Is it too, like, you know what I mean? But not that we've showed it that much lately, but I try to directly tie it to homophobia, cishet-patriarchy, capitalism, racism, white supremacy, because it's all there. These are reasons why Calvin and other folks in his position have to go through these things and navigate these worlds.

[00:25:05.010] - Caullen: 

And just a quick aside, me and some fitness friends did a show, May 2021. It's like the Hot Ones challenge, the YouTube thing. We did ourselves. Really fun. And it was for a friend of ours nonprofit, Digs With Dignity. Coming out of homelessness, you get your first crib, you got to furnish it. It's like, damn, I just got this crib, how am I going to make this look good? Look and feel like a home? That's where that feeling comes into play, which I want to circle back to. But they'll furnish the home, that's what they do. So the fundraiser is for them, and so at the end, everyone's talking this shit the whole time. It's a good time, and. Then I ruin it. 

[00:25:41.010] - Caullen: 

[sound clip from event] Can I say one thing? Homelessness is man-made. *yes!* Homelessness is man-made. There is no reason that anyone should be without a home. If you’re here tonight, if you’re donating money, you should want Digs With Dignity not to exist because these conditions that they have invented for us; that money is this real thing that should affect your life and how you live, and IF you live, is made up. And it’s violent and it’s harmful. So when they have an amendment in Illinois to tax billionaires who actively give money to campaigns that are made to not happen, or give money to violent forces, and they convince you that a Fair Tax means that you’re getting taxed, it’s a lie. They’re lying to you. When they say we can’t afford healthcare, when they say we can’t afford food, when they say we can’t afford housing, when they say where’s the money? How are we going to fund it? They’re fucking lying to you. And when we don’t say anything, and we pretend classism is natural and normalized we’ve internalized capitalism, and we’ve allowed homelessness to exist. It’s a lie. They’re lying to you. It’s bullshit. These conditions are made up. *Preach*. Clap and go home and challenge everyone you know, and think about what you’re doing yourself. This is super fun, I’m so glad to be here, right, but I don’t want to. Because we shouldn’t be living in this world. It’s not even a utopia, it’s a world we wanna live in where they’re not actively harming people. Cause Space Force exists. *Preach* Your money’s going to it. I just- I don’t know, I had to center that as well. This is fun, we shouldn’t have to do this. At all.

[00:27:16.230] - Caullen

But last things like, hey, everybody, this is fun, I'm eating wings, I'm drinking a little bit, I'm having a good time... We should not have to do this. Homelessness is manmade. I should have asked someone to raise their hand, but I was like, the Fair Tax didn't pass. I know some motherfuckers in this room voted against the Fair Tax to tax billionaires to give us some- the state some funding to lower the tax of working class people and fund some of these social services that we need.

[00:27:44.280] - Caullen

And I think there are two around that macro level and taxes and policy and all that stuff. But it's that like, oh, you're taking from billionaires, you're taking from this, they earn this money, whatever. No, it's just not true. It's literally not true. We could talk about the Fair Tax things like that for a whole episode. But I think that's something to understand... These issues aren't bifurcated. They're not different, right? The fact that billionaires can exist and have this massive amounts of money you can never spend in your lifetime, and folks can't eat or have a home, they're inherently connected. Capitalism depends on a disposable population, and that's coded for a lot of populations, but including folks that can't find homes, it's dependent on that. It has to have that in order to survive. This idea that we can have reformed capitalism or like, chrono-capitalism is bad, other capitalism is good. It's just not true. It's not true. It doesn't work on paper or in theory or in actuality. And so I think it's really important when we see and hear stories like Calvin, like anyone else, to understand that other than being moved and thinking differently, how are you positioning your privilege and your network and the institutions you have leverage over in order to change this on a systemic level? And your relationships you have matter as well. But the policy and those things that you think are just how the economy works, no, people are enveloped in that, and their survival depends on it.

[00:29:16.660] - David

Yeah. And just for clarification, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless defines "homeless" as a situation where someone lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. And interestingly enough, on the same site, which we'll have all info on episodes notes, so definitely peep those out. It asks, what is a fixed, regular, and adequate mean? It really depends on who you ask. And so we're going down these stats, and then just to provide a little more clarity on those initial hard facts. Of the 65,000 that the Chicago Coalition for Homeless names, 75% of that actually falls under what is labeled as "temporarily staying with others". So it's doubling up, which is something that America has seen actually since 2020 and onward.

[00:30:07.410] - David

If we even look at the Department of Housing and Urban Development counts, I think, 582,000 Americans experiencing homelessness in 2020. And so just looking at what some of these numbers can be meaning versus others. Because I can also hear being like, oh, well, you moved in with your dad, you're not homeless. No, that's what doubling up means. It means you had your own spot, couldn't pay for it anymore, so you had to move somewhere else. And that meant with somebody else, it's not somewhere else, it's that idea. And so I think it's just so interesting when we start going down these rabbit holes of like, well, why is the state talking about it like this? Why is the city of Chicago only naming 5,000 people in 2020 when clearly the number is about like 8,000 people? What happened to those 3,000 people? And that's a whole other conversation of like, what happens to these people? Where do they go? And I think there's different people will tell you different things.

[00:31:00.560] - David

But I think that's something just important to name in terms of when we're looking at the Calvin, right, Calvin- even if Calvin was part of that 75%, that's still someone who's going through this issue that shouldn't be a thing. I think to me, when we were talking about this, I'm like, why is a home seem like an incentive rather than a right? Rather than a basic human right. I googled the UN's- "what are the basic human rights according to the UN?" And housing is not on it. It's not a part of the list. And so the answer? Clearly, capitalism. And so it's like, I don't know, man... It's so baffling sometimes when we even talk amongst our own peers of like, how much information do we truly know about this? How much do you know?

[00:31:44.850] - David

I think a buddy of mine hit me up not too long ago, and he was like, hey, man, I got a homie at work, this that the fifth, he needs a space, do you know anywhere? And granted, I'm not the answer to everything, but I named a couple of things. And it was like, oh, cool. He's like, man, I just couldn't find anything. I was like, well, what do you mean you couldn't find anything? What do you google? He's like, well, I googled- what was the first thing he said- he said, "housing assistance". And I was like, well, you're only going to get grants or you're going to get like, Section Seven housing and stuff. You're looking for something tonight, you need to find churches, you need to go through... And so it's just weird once we really start looking at it. What are the systems currently available for resource? What are the resources available for people right now? And even those are still very not known. Not only are they not known, not well funded, not well resourced.

[00:32:29.320] - David

In labeling some of these hard facts, one of the things we also want to name was that Brandon Johnson has committed to passing Bring Chicago Home, which is a policy that would push real estate in terms of taxation. And that extra tax would then be used to provide programming. Because as Brandon Johnson names, housing is a human right. And so we clearly see that there's constant tug and pull, tug and pull, tug and pull, right? And to your point, there's groups out here who don't want to end homelessness, because that means they're out of a business. They're out of a job. But it's baffling to me how, when we talk to motherfuckers about affordable housing or massive land- like corporate landlords, because you'll always get a Joe Schmo, be like, oh, my dad owns two properties, and the renters, they're horrible, they're not even paying, so my dad has to suffer. I'm like, I'm not talking about your dad, bro.

[00:33:25.550] - Caullen

I'm talking about your dad! So here's the thing, we base this current economic system on... You can't just earn your paycheck, whatever, even if it's a lot of money, and just hold it and save it. The thing is to invest it, right? And that's pretty much a common thing to be told to do, to invest it and make it grow. Which, I have Roth IRA, I ain't gonna lie. I'm doing that as well, or trying to at least. But it's an investment... I hate talking about this shit, like, the market goes down or whatever happens and you lose that investment, it sucks, but it's like, yeah, you went to Vegas and you didn't shoot very well.

[00:34:05.060] - David

You gambled.

[00:34:05.150] - Caullen

You gambled, right, that's what it actually is. And all of Wall Street is just what rich people think about what's going to happen next, is how our society is built on this economy. So are you okay with that? Anyway, it's faulty from the outstart. But when it comes to landlords and especially assistance of mortgages and rent, especially under, I don't know, a global pandemic, who got assistance, right? If you owned, had a mortgage, you got assistance, but renters didn't get assistance. And owning a property probably means you have a home of your own. And so it is an investment/ a risk, also known as "a gamble" to have these kind of things. And so, yeah, if I was homeboy's dad, would I be irked that folks who aren't paying rent? If I'm actually a-

[00:34:54.160] - David

During a global pandemic.

[00:34:55.090] - Caullen

"good landlord", if those exist, right? I mean, shout out Jasmine, she's great, but this is a different conversation. *laughing* My point is that it's a role. Same as when we talk about other positions in society. As a role, it is a gamble. So those renters don't pay, it's annoying, but you invest it, this is a gamble. If I go to Vegas, if I go to the slot machine, and I don't get them all in a row, I'm not going to get pissed off with like, who made this? No, I lost and that sucks. I want to frame it in that way. I'm not like, well, if you need to go on a rent strike, go on a rent strike. I'm all for tenants rights, but I just think, how are we thinking about this? And how do we think about investments as a good thing and grow your wealth? And then we invest in gambles that doesn't work for us and we get angry. It's like, well, this is the game, right? And so I just want to name that as far as how we think about it on that end. Not that I have that many landlord friends, but I'm starting to- some people getting the bag. I'm like, good for you, but toss me some.

[00:35:50.180] - David

Yeah. And even to me, when I was having this particular conversation, I was like, dude, the issue to me isn't your dad. The issue is these multiconglamerate, whatever term you want to use..

[00:35:59.640] - Caullen

conglomerate? *laughing*

[00:36:00.660] - David

Doesn't fucking matter.

[00:36:01.460] - David

I like "con'glam'erate".

[00:36:02.060] - David

But these are motherfuckers who own hundreds and hundreds of homes. You know what I'm saying? So this isn't like, your dad is also the handyman who comes and fixes the pipes when it's broken. It's like, no, there's a whole fucking infrastructure set up for this where the motherfucker who owns it will never even have to look at anything. And so, to me, I do think there's something to name there in distinction. Because the excuse that we heard was, well, it was the american dream for my dad to come over and have property, and he uses that property and he helped pay for someone's school or some shit. I'm like, great, I'm glad that your dad was able to fulfill some type of his own thing, but do we know the American dream is bullshit to begin with? And I think it's so interesting- when you have to just see where folks are at.

[00:36:48.905] - Caullen


[00:36:49.580] - David

When it comes to my boy over here, I didn't have the language you did. So it was mainly like, yo, here's these corporate things, do I think that's your dad? Sure, but also, I didn't say it was a gamble, I said, well, you also know this american dream isn't real, right? It's not a thing. So I think it's problematic because your dad fell under the same thing that a lot of our family, speaking for myself as a Latino from Mexico, fell under this guise of the American dream. And so that was the whole reason why they work so hard and they bust their ass and they want to own properties, because that's the solution that they think they've been given. When the way you're naming, if we're talking about the way the economic system in America works, it's going to be a gamble. And so you can't look at it as a way of, this is a clear means of money. Because that's not how that fucking works. Also, there is no clear ways of money- but go ahead.

[00:37:42.670] - Caullen

Money's not real. I think COVID was a nice reminder for folks- that seems insensitive. But I think folks who don't think about these things all the time, like you and I do, folks who have decent jobs, who get paid a good amount or have savings, whatever. And they're like, oh, shit, my job's over... Okay, what can else can I do? Oh, wait, I'm like, struggling now all of a sudden. I was told that you get a good job out of college, you do all these things right, and you're safe. And I think that safety net we were told. And some folks may have had more privilege than you and I do were good for a while. Then COVID hit them in the face in a weird way. And folks who were already struggling, or freelance workers, and there wasn't a safety net for freelance folks, really got fucked, right? And so I think that led to a lot- I think that led to help set the conditions for the uprisings. I think it set the conditions for a lot of things. Set the conditions for all these union strikes we're seeing now in the past couple of years.

[00:38:31.540] - Caullen

So again, in a way, that hardship on that mass level creates urgency and mobilization- which is really healthy and beautiful- but it's like, fuck, why did it take that? You know what I mean? So to your point, too, as far as it revealed this american dream is actually a myth. And I think what I just thought about too, is that these conversations, like you're having with homeboy, with fam, with other folks who have... I don't know, folks who have more money than I do, or folks who are peers who have better jobs- or not better jobs, but make more money than I do. Or who are white, or have whatever. Something I need to start thinking about more so- and this is a little bit thanks to Taylor Maness, shout out B'nB alum- is that we're in the same boat. You make a lot more money than I do, but you're not a fucking billionaire. So it's like, we should not be fighting each other. I think you're wrong, but also,- this tax is going to come, you're going to be fine actually, and it's going to help everyone. And- what's the phrase? Rising tide raises all boats. That's the truth of it.

[00:39:35.590] - Caullen

And so when I see those arguments, especially with folks that have power and can actually move the needle in a way that's away from equity and healthy society, it's really scary and dangerous, but it's typically folks who would also benefit from this. And the better our society is, from the bottom up, is for everybody. And another thing with COVID, ten years prior, what did we have? The housing crisis. And so it's funny to me that Wall Street and folks, and Wall Street apologists, like guys named Chad who make 50K a year who are like, oh, Elon Musk! What is wrong with you? Are they paying you? It's so weird. The Internet is so weird. But Wall Street and Wall Street apologists, and billionaire apologists, every ten years there's a massive global event of some sort, and who gets bailed out with millions, maybe billions of dollars? Wall Street billionaires, folks at the top. What do we see earlier this year with the Silicon Valley bank? Within days, Biden was like, here's this check right quick. Hey, Biden, can we stop student loans? Nah, y'all gonna have to pay that back.

[00:40:44.320] - Caullen

So sometimes- as complicated and nuanced as an issue like homelessness is, as far as how to support folks right now and change the structure at the same time- and I don't do that work. I haven't done that work in a long time, and so I know there's a lot of levers there. Sometimes it's like, but you gave them how much? Joe? Or Barack? Barry? What? Ten years ago? I say them because they were president at the time, but it doesn't matter who it would be. And so it's just funny when folks talk about handouts, people getting stuff for free, and I'm like, bruh...

[00:41:21.770] - David

I mean, we're suffering. The fact that we got some money during COVID, we're paying for that right now. That's what the inflation came from. Because the inflation also like- seeing that corporations are record profits, but everybody else is in the hole. I don't know.

[00:41:36.970] - Caullen

We've seen the graphs. We've seen it keeps getting worse and worse and worse. But somehow, as much as I think as people open their eyes to it or understand it more- those policies are still the same. And hopefully that will change. I think there is movement behind changing that on a local level and going up, but we will see.

[00:41:54.850] - David

No, and I think one thing you're naming, though, before we move on to the next point. I think it's, something you're naming is the fact that we're on the same boat. The fact that you make $500,000 and I make 50k, it's the same shit because you ain't the Ops. And I don't know where it comes- it must come from this America propaganda where it's like, oh, you got a little bit of bread, Elon Musk is going to be your best friend. I don't truly know where it comes from, and maybe because I've never had that opportunity of privilege, but I hope that if I ever got to that level... I know where it's about, I know where people are at in terms of the game, I don't know. It's just so weird.

[00:42:40.610] - David

To me, it's so funny the way we constantly talk about the Internet being undefeated. I think I've seen- the last meme I seen is like, oh, I'm sorry that I wasn't looking at the stock market back in 2008 during my lunchtime, so I knew when was the right time to buy a house. Because I don't know if anybody knows this, but most of our generation of humans can't afford to buy a home even if they wanted to. And so it's a sad reality for the fact of being a generation that grew up- once again, looking at and glorifying the american dream. And right around the turn of the century with Internet and stuff, and America's eagle and military. I don't know. I'm just thinking about with our generation growing up with, and yet here we are, where none of us can truly own a home because of just the way the system works against us. It's shitty.

[00:43:28.340] - Caullen

And the folks getting shitted on are the ones who created it. Millennials and Gen Z's are- they just want everything handed to them. Y'all made this system the way it was, fuck you mean?!

[00:43:38.150] - David

We got to talk to the motherfuckers-

[00:43:39.730] - Caullen

You shouldn't have to work that hard.

[00:43:40.130] - David

We got to talk to motherfuckers who are like- if you're out here reading Rich Dad Poor Dad.... This is going to be an aside, but it's part of this whole thing. Because once again, we're looking at- we have things like Calvin's story; that push the envelope, challenge narratives, and bring individualism, but in a way that is communal. And then you got shit like Rich Dad Poor Dad, you got shit like MTV Cribs. You got shit like all these other things that I feel brainwashed motherfuckers to believe like, oh, this is what I need to do. I just got to think I'm rich and I'm going to be good. Like what?! I mean, I haven't read Rich Dad Poor Dad, is that what it's about? That's what I feel it's about.

[00:44:19.140] - Caullen

If you've seen my mom or dad on there, they would know. They got Dave Ramsey stuff up there. And it's like, he hates poor people and blames you for being poor, and it's not helpful and it's not sustainable. I think that's something I think about now, at least as far as how I try to frame stuff for myself and when I talk to others about a lot of this. Does Rich Dad Poor Dad, or Dave Ramsey and his most recent whatever, have some kind of tips saying right now you can lower your debt a little bit? I'm sure there's some tidbits in there. Like, sure.

[00:44:52.520] - David

Sure, they're helpful.

[00:44:53.060] - Caullen

But also, we're always going to do this forever if we don't dismantle and abolish this system of debt and credit; and guarantee basic things to everyone, like food, a house, water, a jobs guaranteed. All things we can do, and many other countries are much better at. And so it's just funny to me when it's like, do this... Don't have debt. Well, yeah Dave, that's uhh... I wasn't trying to, bro. Fuck is he talking about? So the- I wouldn't say lack of analysis- there's analysis there, it's just individual, it's not systems based, and it's all based on your own effort and energy and resources that you have. And so that whole corner of what, Barnes & Nobles, whatever, not the Internet.

[00:45:39.446] - David

The whole corner.

[00:45:39.770] - Caullen

You know what I'm talking about? It's just like, what are we doing? My parents have a thing of him and Joel Osteen standing next to each other, two books. I'm like, can I burn these, please? That man's teeth are too big and too white to trust him. He's got money in the walls.. Anyway..

[00:45:53.090] - David

But it's so funny. And just to finalize the call here, I think to me, what I don't understand is how motherfuckers don't see it as a pyramid scheme. I'm not saying Robert or whoever the fuck who wrote the book is part of a pyramid scheme. But it's like, there's so many people who are like, oh, watch out, don't get scammed. Watch this, watch that. And then you got a motherfucker who literally- I'm gonna quote this motherfucker. "Most people don't take action because they lack confidence. They don't know who to trust and fear that they might follow bad advice, that's why I'm giving you access to my top experts." Like, that's his little slogan for selling his book.

[00:46:24.300] - Caullen

I hate it.

[00:46:24.810] - David

Like, bro, what? What do you mean? I lack confidence that's why I'm broke, dawg? The fuck? My student bills ain't paid because I lack confidence. That's why Biden doesn't cancel them. Fuck! Robert knew it and I didn't. I swear to god, bro. This is... All right.

[00:46:37.230] - David

There's other things to read. If this is the literature that you are focusing on, there's other things to look at, I promise you. But that's for another episode.

[00:46:45.240] - David

But I do think, once again, this is all funneled into creating individuals that follow the status quo. Then look at other humans in conditions of homelessness or houselessness and look down on, belittle, or make shit worse. That's like the worst thing. I'm like, all right, cool, they're asking for money on the street- why are you out there yelling at him that you're not going to give him money because he's a crackhead or whatever the fuck you think you think you know? I'm just- an example. Because I've seen it with homies or whatever. My dad would be like, shout out to my dad for growing, but, oh, no, don't give him money because he's probably going to use it for drugs. I'm like, I would too. What the fuck?! I don't understand. The money you give me I use for drugs. Explain to me what's the difference? My man out here is going through god knows what trauma, I smoke weed to control my anxiety, my man- you know what I'm saying? I don't know, man.

[00:47:47.330] - Caullen

That's a really good point. You, in that moment, I got food every day at home, all these things, I got support systems, but I still got issues. And use this plant that should be decriminalized everywhere as a way to remedy those things.

[00:48:01.160] - Caullen

I think of two things. One, I think of, I remember being on the festival circuit for Calvin's story. Seeing Quinn Wilson talk his shit because he directed the project and produced it of course. And was like, look everybody, we have this idea of what a houseless person is. Which one, we need to deconstruct that stereotype and all the things you just coded in that story that are problematic. But he's like, but also that's a small percentage of folks who are actually surviving this man made thing. And it could be the person behind you in line for the store, it could be anyone. It could be all of us. We're all closer to not having a home and surviving this terrible system that we created as people, than being a billionaire. And so let's understand that, then let's also deconstruct some of these really problematic things among folks who are panhandling.

[00:48:44.690] - Caullen

The other thing was- speaking of our families- I was in a car with some family members during a holiday. We were going somewhere and we saw someone panhandling and my cousin was like, ohh... We kind of talked about the situation, like, oh, do you give them money or not? And I'm like, I just want to be in the car. I don't know. Some folks were like, oh, we do. Some folks were like, ahh, no.. And I don't know. I love my dad, but he mentioned, I don't know if it's a scam or not or if they're going to use it whatever, but I do just because if they are actually struggling I want to help them. I was like, one, good, great. That's awesome. Two, scams...

[00:49:26.060] - David

The fact that you-

[00:49:29.570] - Caullen

Virtually... Never a scam. But let's take the one or two Fox News stories you saw one time when it was real. But let's zoom out from that. We were in the car, we were in Florida. And we passed a, it hadn't been built yet, but it was a land that was cleared to make a facility for the Space Force. So if y'all don't know, Trump started Space Force as another arm of the military. Which, this year, gets pretty much close to a trillion dollars a year. That's not including wars. It's different. The DoD budget is different from any war budget. Trump made another arm of military to, I guess, fight space invaders or something? I don't know.

[00:50:10.190] - Caullen

And so when we think about scams, what is the scam I'm more terrified about? Passing someone on the street who may or may not be surviving this terrible condition that we created; you need money for food or housing or maybe some escapism, to self-medicate a feeling or condition? Or is it that a lot of my paycheck goes to the government, and about 40% or more of that is going to the military, and some of that is going to this new armed military that's supposed to fight literal space invaders?

[00:50:47.910] - David

Yo, Thanos is a motherfucking ass, bro.

[00:50:49.470] - Caullen

Biden didn't abolish Space Force day one. He should have. That's the scam I'm more worried about. That's the scam that's more pervasive. That's the scam that matters. This one's not a scam. But I do think examples that you bring up- and often bring up, and I brought up just now, and do sometimes the macro analysis, I think is important. But also I'm going to be more able to convince people around me, my loved ones, my parents, whatever- or not even convince, just have a dialog and really get to the nitty gritty and then be authentic about this stuff than a stranger or someone online. So I think those personal relationships are super important. But also we got to have a bigger analysis or we're not going to- it's not going to be sustainable. And that's what I was trying to get at earlier as far as, yeah, some of Rich Dad Poor Dad advice may be good, or maybe be able to lower your debt a little bit? Sure. But if we're not trying to abolish this inherently predatory system that hasn't been around that long- this shit isn't, natural, we made all this shit up, then we're always going to be in this as a people and as a population.When it doesn't have to be that way, at all.

[00:51:54.230] - David

Yeah. And I think the more people are understanding, I think you're naming something really powerful with 2020, giving your average Joe Schmo the opportunity to just like, you can't go to work, you can't go outside, you can watch tv, but even then it's like.... You have more of an opportunity to think than ever before. That's what Plato would say, what you need is leisure. That's what creates philosophy. That's what creates understanding and empathy. It's time to think. And so that's what COVID created for folks, and so I think it's really interesting that we see those effects. And even now I named the hard fact of Brandon Johnson, our new mayor of Chicago, and the Bring Home Chicago ordinance. And just to be clear, just to name how... Here's an arm who's- that's not Space Force- also low key, I thought that shit was a joke. Because I saw Steve Carell- don't they have like-

[00:52:47.000] - Caullen

They made a show about it very quickly after.

[00:52:49.680] - David

And it got nixed because people were pissed off they were making fun of Trump, but-

[00:52:54.200] - Caullen

The show got nixed but the program that takes your billions of fucking tax payer dollars is still around. I wish it was the other way around.

[00:53:00.070] - David

Yeah. So here's Bring Home Chicago. And so they're proposing that they raise the real estate transfer tax: one time paid when a property is sold by 1.9%. And this would only influence properties over a million dollars, okay. Properties under don't receive- will not receive a tax increase. And then this tax would generate $163,000,000 to be able to combat homelessness. As something as small as 1.9% to change a tax creates that much money in revenue. And the thing about our people is they know how to do a lot with nothing. And so I can only imagine what $163,000,000 can do for the state of Illinois... I don't know. It's those kind of small- seemingly small, because I think when we're looking at this episode, we didn't really know too much about this either. We're like, okay, we know it's a thing.

[00:53:55.400] - Caullen

Yeah. I'm like, I know I'm poor, let me read more about it. Rossana said something about, I'm like, yeah, yeah, let's go for it.

[00:54:00.790] - David

But even yet- and you mentioned the Fair Tax. And, I know we've definitely had conversations about the Fair Tax on B'nB, but when looking at something like this, I can already see the anti- feel of this. Like, oh, well, our property taxes are already high- but you're not paying taxes, you don't have a house, what are you talking about?

[00:54:21.250] - Caullen

And sometimes it's like, you're right... It is high, it shouldn't go anymore. The police budget looking real fat over there... How about we....

[00:54:30.370] - David

No, but they're over correcting like a motherfucker, right?

[00:54:34.550] - Caullen

This could go on forever... But one thing I think about, too, when the rights- and even rights- but it's corporate interest, coming hard against these policies. It's like, if you don't want to pay that "extra" that you weren't anticipating, I'm pretty sure on YouTube there's some free financial literacy videos you guys could watch. And maybe you'd learn something about saving your money better to pay for them. You know what I mean? You get so mad at people that are suffering under this fucking terrible system for not having enough to do basic things, or get mad at folks who are like, you bought an iPhone but you're bitching about money. Like, why'd you buy that iPhone then, buy a Nokia and just get by. Well, you look at these videos and not bitch about these taxes that are coming, that are something that's well manageable for you to spend on buying something you don't need to buy in the fucking first place. So it's just- the logic just doesn't- the logic isn't logicing with a lot of this. And it's frustrating. And I think we could go on and on and on from the macro level stuff.

[00:55:28.870] - Caullen

One thing- I hope I'm not switching gears too much. But I want to think about- I'm curious of... We've played this whole episode with houselessness and homelessness, and I think there's a larger debate there as far as the terms they use with individuals. Which I think is interesting, as far as some folks I know who do the work are like, yeah, say "the homeless people". And some of the folks I know, or some of the folks who are, or who I really know are fine with that term, other folks aren't. I think that's another conversation we could have. I'm curious about what the difference, I guess, between a house and a home? And when I think of a home, I think of how it makes me feel, and how the pride you get between setting it up, making look a certain way. I think that's kind of where we were getting at a little bit in the first part of the episode. So I'm curious with you, David, and you can pull in what we talked about this whole time that makes sense. But for transitioning homes recently, and also in your lifespan from different places, what that feeling feels like?

[00:56:32.810] - Caullen

And my thing, too, is how do I just get this- when I have really good moments or nights or days, I'm like, this feels really good. And it's like, all the work we do with Soapbox, work I am passionate about the thing I feel about, the mistakes I've made personally, interpersonally, whatever, I want to mend. And I want people to feel good; myself and other people. How do we maximize people feeling good? And if you have a home, something you don't have to worry about your basic needs being met. I mean, I think statistically too, if you have a home, everything else just gets easier. Folks are like, oh, even certain programs that are meant to combat homelessness are like, oh, we have to make sure you haven't taken drugs in so long, all these different check marks and these means tests. Like, no no no, give people a home, straight up. If you're worried about them abusing drugs, or health, like, fair, but also give them a home and then do that. Because then that will get better if they can have that home. And so there's research and data and work done to be like, give people homes first, and everything else gets easier. But also, I'm thinking about that feeling of what is a home rather than a physical house? What does that feel like to you?

[00:57:30.320] - David

Yeah. And I think that's definitely been something that we're continuing to discover. I think for me, once again, I name leaving my dad's house, leaving my community from the church. And there was... Solitude can be a bitch. There's a lot of people who are like, oh, that sounds awesome you're alone. Like, no, I fucking hated it, personally. I'm not someone who works well by myself. And so in that, once again, I find an apartment through Craigslist just because I need somewhere to live. And that entire time I was there, it never felt like my home. It felt like the place that I lived. And I think that the things that we want to name here is the autonomy that we have over things.

[00:58:14.800] - David

I think when you're talking about your own space, whether that's an apartment, a condo, a three flat, I think there's a level of... you have full and utter control over what you want to put on your walls. You have full, utter control of what's in your fridge. There's a level of power that comes with having a space that then dictates how you as a human can continue to traverse it. You know what I'm saying? Like, oh, I'm going to be vegetarian. I can't do that at my dad's crib because all they do is eat chicken and meat and steak. You know what I'm saying? So cool, but in my home, in my space, I have that opportunity, and I think that's what makes a home a home. To me, it's being able to have full autonomy over a place, over a space. And in that, you're making habits, you're creating structures, you're doing things.

[00:59:03.930] - David

I've seen so many people, specifically in 2020, they transformed their homes to gyms- like my boy Caullen, to studios- like my boy Genta. Different things where, because of this opportunity and you still love to do this thing, it's not just because for work or whatever, and you don't have access to it, what do you do? You have a space where you can make that happen. You don't have to ask for permission, you don't have to look for anything different. And I think that's when we start defining of, this is what a house brings. A house helps bring the ability to provide a home. And in that home, once again, with you having full autonomy over things, it's a little bit of a power trip. But it's also like, yo, I had a homie for a little bit, he was having issues- bro, come stay with me. Chill, don't even trip. Oh, but I'm gonna... Nah, you could just chill with me. Like, that's the thing. Come hang out with me. And I think those are small things, sometimes, when we're thinking about that. But if I didn't have that crib, if I didn't have that home, I can't take care of somebody else. 

[01:00:02.830] - David

And so it's like, to me, same with the SoapBox scenario. It's like, we're building this home, we're building this physical space, because we know what it is to bring community into those spaces. And so, to me, a home cannot exist without community. And I think that's very important to name, because then it's like, then might as well go travel the world and be a nomad, if that's going to be your route. But to me, here in 2023, where David is back in Chicago, it's always been about, to your point, how can we make our people feel good? And I think that starts with you being able to have that for yourself. And name your boundaries in your space. Come in, hey, take your shoes off. I want to keep it cleaner. Or, hey, you know what- you can smoke weed in here all you want. These rules, and these things, I think, is sometimes so wonderful, but we take them for granted. We take a lot of these things for granted.

[01:00:54.610] - David

And that's where I go back to this concept of, why isn't a house a human right? Why isn't people getting people homes as important as people making sure they have water? As children, making sure they have food? But why isn't it? It's because the system makes it in a way that's difficult. And I think some of the things that I was curious to go into as well was, what's all the restrictions and the red tapes that the state of Illinois, of America, whatever has on people trying to survive these particular situations? It's like, okay, clearly I ain't got a job. Oh, but if you don't have income, I can't rent you out. What the fuck? Or- I know we'll dive into it- but like, oh, I'm not from here, I'm from another country. Oh, you need a social. If you don't have a social, you don't have credit. You don't have a credit score, then I can't rent to you. Why?

[01:01:40.430] - David

Because, to your point, capital needs to have people to prey on, people that it steps over. Because then everybody else, once again, goes back and is like, oh, I don't want to be there. Oh, I don't want that to be me. Like, I got to take care of my shit, because if not... And then not only that, but then that also creates other issues within abusive household, domestic violence, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Because I think one thing you did awesome that I really appreciate hearing you say is like, with Calvin's story, you name it, but then you also grapple at the -isms and the problems that overlook Calvin. Same way with the other thing else. It's like sometimes the fear of falling into the cycle that can be homelessness, you have to then put up with other shit. You have to then do other things. You have to work five jobs to house your kids. This, that, the fifth, that then only- to me- diminishes the value of living, the value of life. We're not meant to be like that. We're not machines.

[01:02:35.550] - David

I don't know if you've seen the video, but there's a machine- not to take us too off. He did regular, just like as if he was working at Amazon. After 15 minutes of doing this routine thing, the machine kills itself.

[01:02:47.750] - Caullen

It what?

[01:02:48.500] - David

Because it doesn't want to do it anymore. Because it realized that this was all it was going to be doing, and it killed itself. Then we traverse that to now and what so many people have to do just to put a roof over their head. Like, how many times have I not heard, or Latinos that may be listening be like, I put a roof over your head, you should be grateful. I'm like, first of all, fuck you! You brought me here, you should give me a roof over my head!

[01:03:13.260] - Caullen

I didn't choose! Just as I didn't to be born!

[01:03:14.850] - David

Even within our own peoples. If that's how we're viewing these things, right? If those are the conversations we're having with our kids being like, oh, my house, my rules type shit, I mean, to me, those are a little problematic and they cause friction, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But if that's the basis of how we're treating our children in our home, how we're treating our cousins in our home, et cetera, it only spills out into all these other issues that we're seeing and that all of us are experiencing in one way, shape, or form. But that was a very long winded answer.

[01:03:43.200] - Caullen

That was lovely. I think you're totally 100% all that. I think the intergenerational aspect of that is like, yeah, we can look at our parents' generations, generations before then, and things they said about their parents, which I couldn't imagine my parents doing. But also, I get it. I'm like, yeah, granddad was... it was the 40s, yeah... you going through some shit. Or the 50s, rather. 50s 60s he was raising my parents. But it's like, they're also surviving this thing that, arguably maybe was worse in certain ways, and then it's worse for us in different ways. We're allowed to be more vocal, like this fucking podcast, or do more things that yesteryear would have been either not as capable to do, we wouldn't have been as capable to do them. But the good jobs, the union jobs, the city jobs, decades ago there was more, and they had pensions, they were funded. I mean, for the most part, I'm being reductive here, a little bit. But I think about what you just said about "roof over your head", it's like, yeah, that's problematic in certain ways. But also, they may not have had them when they were growing up. So for them, it's like, I survived this thing that I'm fighting for you now, so be thankful.

[01:04:51.770] - Caullen

And so when I think about generations and what was happening on a policy level, on a societal level, on a global level, in some cases, it's like, okay, my parents or their parents were dealing with a lot of shit. That's the best they could do. I should be thankful for that, I'm here. But also like, yeah, let's unpack them, let's not replicate those things. We can learn from that and do better, and I think we should. And not to- too much of a parallel, but you kind of touched on folks trying to find sanctuary, find home in Chicago recently. The past year or so we've had, thanks to fucking Governor Abbott in Texas, busing folks who are seeking asylum, coming from Venezuela and other...

[01:05:29.480] - David

Colombia, yeah.

[01:05:30.640] - Caullen

Other countries in the global south, looking for a better life, really, in Texas. And he bused them up to Chicago, which- I don't want to gloss over that because that's horrifying. We don't have time to get into it. But fuck that dude so hard.

[01:05:43.840] - David

The marbles on that man, bro. I was like... Yeah.. Continue.

[01:05:47.380] - Caullen

But anyway... Since 1985, we talked about Chicago under Harold Washington as a sanctuary city. He had an executive order that came out that barred agencies from enforcing these federal shitty immigration laws. Then 2012 is Welcoming City ordinance in Chicago, further protecting immigrants. And in some ways, especially in the past 10 years, that hasn't been the case under Rahm and stuff like that, we can get into that... But we have this symbolic name of The Sanctuary City. And I think there are some policies there that are real on that, and we've been able to try to push that in recent years with more progressive and leftist alders, and our mayor now and everything. And so all that being said is, we have folks coming here from other countries seeking refuge, seeking asylum, and it's been very contentious as far as how that gets funded. If we take the funding for federal money, folks who are low income- or folks that have low income rather- and just Black folks in general in Chicago are like, hey... Folks have thoughts differently about this, but some folks are thinking like, we're going to give them some money to house and stuff, but what have we got in the past 60, 70 years? Which is fair and valid. So how do we demand more of our elected officials and our government at all levels to fund these things that they were- I don't wanna say, well, complicit in capitulating via policy over many decades?

[01:07:10.880] - Caullen

And again, zooming out from that, we think about folks seeking asylum, fleeing violence or disruption in their home countries and stuff. Let's look at why that is.

[01:07:21.520] - David

Why do they have economic disability?

[01:07:23.290] - Caullen

How many coup d'etats across the world, especially in the global south? Neoliberalism was born blocks from here at U of Chicago. We think of Chile, we think of Venezuela, we think of all these governments the CIA has overthrown, or tried to overthrow and made these horrible right wing policies. And that's trickled down to how gangs come up, the need for- the demand for market logic, the demand for drugs in America. So they make that shit and ship it over there. We're responsible for burning their house down. They're coming to us being like, hey, can I get a glass of water? And we're like, how dare you! So I think that's also missing in this asylum seeker conversation too, as far as like, okay, no, we did this. We did this. Maybe it wasn't you who are in this elected position now, but decades of these fucking horrible policies made the conditions that make people need to seek another life necessary.

[01:08:16.810] - Caullen

And so not only should we help folks because we have the resources, we have the power; we also help people who are already here and have been here for a long time. I think that's a valid feeling that we need to talk about in a healthy way, in good faith. But also, as a western power, imperialist power, as the Death Star incarnate in real life, you did this. So... you can't go back in history, so change it now and help people now, because this is actually your fault. You're actually response for this.

[01:08:50.310] - David

There's just so much there. And I do recall a lot of- seeing on the news, seeing clips of our alderfolk going at it with one another of like, yo, this is the response we are- or we have, as this so called sanctuary city? And then other folks being like, yo, this ordinance is going to topple the very fabric of Chicago. Like, what are you talking about?

[01:09:14.830] - Caullen

Name names! Who was it? Name names!

[01:09:17.410] - David

What was this motherfucker's name? I changed the... David Moore.

[01:09:22.430] - Caullen

Man, David, you voted against the Cop Academy. You're doing this now, just do something right.

[01:09:26.690] - David

He was one of 13 aldermen who voted against this, right? And I think it was such an interesting moment, from afar, have folks who are claiming- not claiming- folks who are demanding, and have been demanding for investment in their communities. And then here goes city council to approve 51 million from a surplus of 2021 to give to migrants. And so as a Chicagoan I'm like, it's a big slap in the face. The calls for investment in divested communities in Chicago is 100%. And so here's someone who I'm sitting in the middle of things and I'm like, they're right. We have a surplus budget?! $51 million surplus budget that we didn't use and give to people?! Y'all over here glorifying the fact that they opened up one mental health facility back in three years or five years, however long it's been. Like, yeah, what a great job! But there's 51 million in the bank from two years ago, bro! That shit is wild. And so it would make sense why so many people were pissed off. But to your very point, that should not diminish or devalue the ability to try to help other needy people.

[01:10:43.120] - David

And I think, once again, it's not about- and I know we've talked about, what was the term? It's not the Oppression Olympics. We're not talking about who has it worse type shit. Nah, everybody has situations. Everybody's suffering. But there's a distinction when it's people who, once again, were literally put on buses and shipped. That's... I can't fathom. My dad, when he crossed the border they lived in Phoenix for a little bit. He's like, this sucks, we're going to Chicago. That was a decision he made. He wasn't like.... So I don't know.

[01:11:17.130] - David

I'm just thinking about the particularities of all of these migrants who are in Chicago. Thousands of people who maybe don't know English, are not familiar with the Chicago landscape, you know what I'm saying? Having difficulties probably within their own relationships. And then here is then these other people throwing dirt on them. That can't be it. And I'm definitely proud of Chicago and the steps it took. Because the city council voted at the end of May to allocate 51 million, right. So like, cool, the federal government also gave about $10 million also to support that. Cool. But I hope that we take care of the situation, and the same people who were calling that this was going to break it, get them to understand that this didn't do that. This isn't breaking anything. This isn't disrupting the core of Chicago.

[01:12:11.660] - David

On the contrary, it's showing who we should be, as a leader in the nation. Chicago has had a very interesting last few months. I know we had the episode with the alderfolk, new. And bringing it back, we've talked a lot about the influence that Brandon Johnson and a candidate like himself can bring to the landscape and how all eyes are on Chicago. So let's continue to do that. Let's continue to manifest that as an example, and continue to criticize places like Texas, places like Florida, places that are demonstrating what it shouldn't be. You feel what I'm saying? I didn't want to bring Florida, but I kind of did want to talk about it. The fact that they were like, yo, fuck all these immigrants, get them all out of here. Now they're like, they have job shortages or what was it- no, they have labor shortages because nobody wants to do the jobs that the people that were originally there were doing. Why? Because the system has gotten used to that. And so the fact that- that's why I'm so happy to see Florida backfired on them so badly. And that's also why I think Texas took the route that it did, to be so aggressive. But once again-

[01:13:23.170] - Caullen

That's exactly why.

[01:13:24.130] - David

Yeah. But once again, I'm very proud of the way Chicago has responded. And we hope that Chicago can continue to be that example. Once again, thinking about it through a clear level-headed mind, removing corporate interests and looking at people as people rather than data. As we were looking at the beginning.

[01:13:44.290] - Caullen

Yeah. And I think one of the lessons that I've taken recently from a DeSantis, from an Abbot- and I'm borrowing this from Ricardo Gamboa, is that they have radical imagination and they put that shit in policy.

[01:13:58.380] - David

They're organized to a T.

[01:13:59.920] - Caullen

I'm saying though! So why... We can do the same thing, but be for love and liberation, and for health and actually for people. And so when progressives or leftists, especially folks who are elected, get pushed back for certain things they say and do, as far as being a pipe dream, it's like, no one said that to DeSantis. He didn't get the pipe dream argument. He's doing the fascist shit. Like, actually fascism, right? So I don't understand why we can't do the same thing. And I actually know that we can. And it can be, again, for people and health and beauty and liberation. So let's do that. Codify that in policy and make a better world for ourselves.

[01:14:35.630] - David

Yeah. And I think you're right, Caullen. I think Mariame Kaba constantly speaks of radical imagination. If you haven't seen, peep out the One Million Experiments where they talk about 1 million ways to think radically of bringing liberation to all of our people. And I think continuing to look at these examples, continuing to be the examples that we wish to see in the world, I think only pushes and puts us in a place that I think is important. Because once again, the other side is organized as shit. They got church groups, they got book groups, they got their whole things. And so for us it's important. Bringing this to a full close here: we started with the conversation of what is a home? And as we've continued to unpack, home is partially a feeling, right? Home is partially a place. Home is partially the other people who make up the space.

[01:15:37.220] - David

And I don't know, to me, I'm leaving so excited with this conversation because one, I'm excited to go back home and finish putting my apartment together. And just invigorate of like, yo, things I've been wanting. Like I love throwing parties, I love hosting. I love having people. And you talked about how do we make people feel welcome? I love doing that shit. When we would have parties, I'd be your host. And so I'm excited for those opportunities. But then even further, I'm excited for our entity, as Soapbox and other entities, other groups, other institutions, other startups, to also find their space. Also find their grounding and use that as an opportunity to not only benefit themselves, but empower the people around them. And I think that's something that we know the Soapbox space is going to do; it's going to be open to our community, to our comrades, to our producers and to our affiliates. But it's mainly that. It's to make sure that our base knows what's up. They know that there's a place that they can go to. Whether you want to call that a refuge or whatever you want to say, it's going to be that. And the fact that we finally have an opportunity to create that for ourselves, I think is absolutely beautiful.

[01:16:39.200] - David

And we hope that wherever you find yourselves in this space, whether you're someone who's listening and going through a situation like we're naming, or someone who's maybe you've never even thought about a situation. Find a space, find where you fit in, as we always say, and support the work if you're really about it. Because at the end of the day, we all we got.

[01:16:58.370] - Caullen

And if you happen to got a little bag you want to toss us- We need to pay this rent so they don't kick us out.

[01:17:08.470] - David

Hopefully! No, I mean, we got a couple of months for free at this point, right? But as always, we want to give a special shout out to all the groups and peoples doing this type of work. Just a few that we've named: Casa Norte, All Chicago, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, et cetera, et cetera. For those that we did not name, doesn't mean we don't see you, but this clearly is going to take all of us, as we constantly say. And so, Caullen, I'm glad that we were able to chop it up, just you and I. It's been a minute.

[01:17:36.970] - Caullen

Me too.

[01:17:37.580] - David

So we hope y'all enjoyed it as well. As always, from Bourbon 'n BrownTown, stay Black, stay Brown, stay queer.

[01:17:43.110] - Caullen

Stay tuned. Stay turnt.

[01:17:44.750] - David

See you for the next one.


(Music Dirty Money by Diddy ft. Skylar Grey)