Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
1. Have you ever visited a plantation? What were your thoughts and feelings while you were there?
2. What do you think of Black History month? How does that relate to American history?
3. Are you willing to examine how racism has pervaded all aspects of America?
4. What is something you can do today to show that Black Lives Matter?
5. Are you uncomfortable learning about systemic racism and its roots in slavery? Why?
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:06):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:09):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:10):
I've been in recovery for 14 years and I am the author of Discovering My Scars, my memoir about my mental health, struggles, experiences, and faith.
Beth Demme (00:17):
I'm a lawyer turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:23):
Beth I had been friends for years, have gone through a recovery program together, and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as co-host.
Beth Demme (00:30):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from honest conversations with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:35):
We value honest conversations, and we hope you do too.
Beth Demme (00:38):
That's why we do this, and why we want you to be part of what we're discussing today. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled BTW Black Lives Still Matter.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:49):
Then we'll share a slice of life in the show. We'll close with questions for reflection, where we'll you invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:56):
So, Beth, I want to circle back to the summertime, back in June.
Beth Demme (01:00):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:01):
June, 2020. That's when we started seeing Black Lives Matter protests. There was a very heated protest about, it started with the murder of George Floyd. Obviously, there's been many more murders that were in connection and the reasoning, but the protests all started in June. And I think for me, that was the first time that I really woke up and thought I have to pay attention to this. What is happening? What's going on? And I started paying attention. And I started to learn and to ask questions. We even had my friend Ashley on the podcast to really give her perspective as a black woman in America.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:46):
And I've just been continuing to listen and try to follow along with stuff that I just had no clue of how racism has shaped this country. And we're seeing this divide that I've never been aware of before. I mean, we're seeing that with the Capitol riots. All of the white supremacists that tried to stop our democracy to create the world they want, and the racist world they want.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:18):
We've had these conversations previously on the podcast and I want to continue to have those conversations. So I guess that's what this is, is we want to continue that conversation. And it happens to be Black History Month, which is interesting because we'll talk dig a little bit more into that as well.
Beth Demme (02:39):
Yeah. And it's good for us, I think, to continue to have this conversation because we're both continuing to learn. So I think there's value in circling back to talk about, okay, what have we been learning? What's our new learning in this? And I think that some folks may listen to this and say, "Well, gosh, you're two white women, why are you having this conversation without inviting an African-American guest or inviting a person of color?" And I just want to say that from my perspective, too often, we ask our friends who are people of color to do this work for us, and I need to do my own work before I go to them and burden them. That's part of what we're going talk about today, is the work that we've done.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:18):
And it's also not the responsibility of our black friends to educate us on this.
Beth Demme (03:22):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:24):
I've been... Obviously, I'm friends with Ashley that we had on the podcast, and she does post... I know her from DIY. That's what she does just like me, is shared DIY projects, but she will, on her Instagram stories, really share what's happening in the community. And she said, at times mentioned, I'm tired being the ambassador for the black community and having to be the go-to for my white friends. And I hear you. I'm like, that seems very unfair to make that we are relying on the black community to educate us where it's our responsibility. This is not Black History. This is American history. And we all have to be aware of it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:08):
And everything, I mean, systemic racism, what we're dealing with today, it all goes back to slavery. In as much as we don't want to keep bringing up slavery, we have to, because it all goes back to it. It all goes back there and we have to understand that. And we have to see, when slavery was abolished, there was still a half our country that wanted slavery to a little less to continue. And those mindsets are still with us today.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:37):
There are people that probably would not say, "I want slaves," not hat, but that mindset of inferior people of, "I'm the better class." That is still in our country today. And in that can't be. We have to change that. We have to... The majority voice needs to rule and say that that's not okay.
Beth Demme (04:58):
That's the thing, is to say to people of color, "You have to fix this problem. You have to fix this problem of systemic racism." No. They didn't create the problem, right? We, the white people in the majority, we created the problem, it's our responsibility to fix it. I'm glad that we're circling back to have this conversation today, to talk about what we've been learning and to just continue to, to say, yes, we believe black lives matter.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:23):
And like I had said, I think it's our responsibilities to research and to look and to not just ask our black friends for, what's this information? Although, speaking on that, my mom has a black friend in her ladies group that sent her a link to this video. And it's called Surviving a Lynching. It's a documentary actually. It's a 25-minute documentary. My mom sent it to me and I watched it and it was so powerful. It was sad. It was frustrating. It was just... It was all of the emotions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:02):
And it was about this leather work artist who is who survived a lynching when he was a young man and just the life that he lives in the trauma that never goes away. And I highly recommend seeing it. I know you didn't have a chance to watch it yet, but I highly recommend it. We'll put a link to it in the show notes, because... He's alive today. He was raised on the cotton fields. He was out picking cotton. And he said that he, I think he said at 14, he ran away from home. He ran away not from home, but from the cotton fields, because that's where he lived, but that wasn't his home.
Beth Demme (06:39):
Yeah. We think about... I think part of my own white privilege... Let me just speak for myself. I want to be careful to do that. I think that for myself when I would hear about things like lynchings, that seems like the distant past, and yet it's not at all. It's not at all. There are people among us who remember that being part of their childhood growing up. That lynchings happened.
Beth Demme (07:07):
I recently met a woman who was telling me that her family had moved from the South to the North. And she's a little bit older than me, maybe 10 years older. Shortly before she was born, her family basically fled from the South to the North because she's an African-American woman and her father, who's an African-American man, had been doing work for a white man. And when there was a dispute about payment, the white man basically said, "You come around here again looking for payment, I'll lynch you." And in a way that was a credible threat.
Beth Demme (07:43):
So credible that this man packed up his family and moved them from the South to the North. And they didn't come back for 20 years. They didn't return to live here for 20 years. That's how real that threat was. And on some level, the black family knew the white man could do this and get away with it, right? So it's not in any way ancient history. It is modern history. It is affecting us today. And we need to educate ourselves about it and address it.
Beth Demme (08:20):
We've mentioned before we live in Tallahassee. There's a movement here to create a memorial to te four man who were dragged from the jail and lynched by a white mob.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:34):
Beth Demme (08:35):
I'm going to guess that even though you grew up here that that wasn't part of your lessons in local history. Because we don't talk about that part of our history.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:44):
Well, and something that's interesting is just a few... I think it was back in December, maybe a couple months ago, me and my mom were driving past this a store in Tallahassee near us. And there was this little plaque and I was like, "I wonder what that plaque says. I've never noticed that before." And I kind of squinted at it and it said that there was a plantation that used to be on this location and it mentioned the guy's name. And I was like, "Oh, that's interesting. That's the name of this area." I had no idea this area was named after a person. I was like, "Wait a plantation owner? Wait a minute."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:19):
So I Google this person's name and I just went down this rabbit hole and this guy owned, it was either 120 or 140 slaves. And that seemed like a lot to me, but I wanted to Google, "Is that a lot?" I wasn't sure how many slaves was a lot of slaves. That was in the high percentage of slavery. And then and then I started seeing all the places right around me that there were plantations and places that are named, the names now are the names of the people that own those plantations. And I just felt sick. Literally.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:59):
I was like, I say these names on a daily basis. They're places I frequent. They're the names of the areas. There's restaurants named after like this is the such and such restaurant in this area. And I was just like, all of these places are named after plantation owners, which shouldn't be surprising to me because I live in the South, but it is surprising to me. And it is appalling to me that... I mean, this is racism that I had no idea that I was being a part of and allowing to happen. I mean, we name these things like the... Whoever names streets and areas decided, "Oh, this was a plantation owner" I mean, our government said, our local governor was like, "Oh, this was the plantation. Oh, we should name this area after the plantation owner." "Oh, that's a great idea. Let's honor him in that way." What? What? Why would we give any sense of acknowledgement in any positive way to plantation owners?
Beth Demme (11:09):
I think it's because we see them on some level. We see them as good business people. And as I have grown up in the South, I guess I'm grown now, I'm full grown woman, but I will just say growing up in the South, plantations were presented as examples of successful business. They were presented as places that were beautiful and elegant. And the slavery aspects of the plantation or never discussed.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:37):
Beth Demme (11:38):
Literally whitewashed .
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:40):
Yeah. Literally. And there's an actual plantation home, like historic location near us. And I remember, as a child, a young child, I remember taking field trips to plantation and having tours of it. Multiple times I've been there. And I remember as a child thinking, this is weird, because we learned about slavery in school. Wasn't it slaves on plantations? But now you're showing this really pretty house and telling me really... Well, it wasn't interesting to me because it was history, but it was just the history of the family, the plantation owners.
Beth Demme (12:16):
The white family.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:17):
The white people. Nothing about the slavery. And I just remember as a child being confused that I'm told slavery is bad, but you're showing me this pretty house and telling me this history and these people. There was a huge disconnect in my head and a confusion as a child trying to understand this history in all of this. And we've done this to children for years. This is what we're teaching children in school, slavery's bad, look at this pretty house. And listen, let me tell you about this family. There is no honor in these families that owned human beings. They used human beings, human life, to create this pretty house.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:59):
And I remember seeing movies as a child. I remember seeing movies, and in school, of happy slaves. It's so disgusting to even realize that as a child that I thought, "Oh, slaves, they were happy, singing and enjoyed their time." What in the world!? That is not okay, that there was some part of me that thought slaves were okay and happy singing on their job.
Beth Demme (13:26):
It's like leftover propaganda from that era, because that's-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:29):
It's continuing propaganda.
Beth Demme (13:30):
Yeah. That's how it was presented.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:32):
They showed me this in school. They showed me this propaganda junk in school and made me as a child, as a white young girl, think, "Oh, it wasn't that bad." And yet what's... No, there is no sense where a slave is happy in being enslaved. I'm sorry. That's insane.
Beth Demme (13:56):
Or even the idea that someone was "good" to their slaves.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:00):
Beth Demme (14:01):
Right? "Oh, well, this person was good to their slaves. They threw parties for their slaves." Or, "Oh my goodness, they were so generous, they let their slaves have shoes." This is crazy talk. But when it's not presented as crazy talk, when it's just presented as, this is information, it can be hard to look at it without critical thinking skills. And I think that's what we're being invited to do now. I think the invitation has been there a long time. It's an invitation that I'm now accepting and try to really work on.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:30):
Well, from as children, we are taught to be racist. As children, we're being brought up to be racist, not even realizing, but it's such a formative age as a child. Children can learn multiple languages as children because they just take-
Beth Demme (14:47):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:47):
Yeah, there's sponges. So when we're a sponge, you're us slavery's bad, but then you're filling up everything else with, "Look at this pretty house. Oh, this guy that owned the house, he's a great guy." How are we supposed to not be racist when that's all that we're being fed. And in one thing about, this is we're in February and this is Black History Month. I remember Black History Month from school. I remember specifically we honor the history of black people. And I remember it being very just, black people are good, and they did these things. And it was just... There was-
Beth Demme (15:24):
We always learned about the same people. It was always Harriet Tubman, Booker T Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, and Frederick Douglass. Those are the four black people that we would learn about every year on Black History Month. Which had left the impression that those were the only notable black people in American history, which is ridiculous.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:45):
Yeah, it was ridiculous. And nothing about the harsh reality of slavery. Also, I do want to research this, what did it look like right after slavery was abolished? What did it look like for those former slaves? They had nothing in this country.
Beth Demme (16:03):
They had no place to live. They had no access to jobs. And so then what do we do? We pass laws against loitering. "No, you need to be going somewhere." "No, we're not going to create any system for there to be a place for you to go. We're not going to create work. We're not going to acknowledge that you should be paid for your work. We're just going to arrest you for loitering." "Oh, and then when we arrest you, guess what we can do? We can put you in a work camp and make you do the same work you did when you were a slave." Unacceptable.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:31):
Beth Demme (16:33):
Another thing that I have only recently learned is I had in my head that when the slave trade itself stopped, right? When boats stopped moving humans from Africa to Europe, into the U.S, that that was sort of the height of enslavement. And actually, that's not true at all. In the United States, the population of slaves, the number of enslaved people was about 700,000 in 1790. But within 70 years of that, it had quadrupled to 4 million. More than quadrupled to 4 million. Because, get this, plantation owners started breeding their slaves to increase their property and increase their workforce.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:26):
What? What? Breeding?
Beth Demme (17:30):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:30):
Oh my gosh. Well-
Beth Demme (17:33):
Completely dehumanizing these humans.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:36):
Oh my goodness. Well, I just saw, actually, a YouTube video this morning, that was about the history of black hair. And I was like, "What?" And I watched it. And gosh, it goes back to slavery. There was early reports before slavery, before the slave trade, of people going to explore Africa in may notes, that they saw the people had very neatly, tidy hair in... I can't remember they call it, but it was corn rows, but it was-
Beth Demme (18:09):
Probably plaiting. That's like an old fashioned word for braid.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:11):
Yeah. Yeah. And they said it was very neat and tidy. So there was... Obviously, previously to the slave trade, it was seen as tidy and well kept and everything, but when they brought African-Americans over here as slaves, they try to dehumanize them and make white people see them as not human. And so they put the analogy of their hair being like animal hair.
Beth Demme (18:36):
Wow. Because it's coarser?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:37):
So to treat them like animals. And then breeding?
Beth Demme (18:42):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:42):
Beth Demme (18:44):
And on some level, you can see that that's what slave owners had to do--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:51):
to sleep at night?
Beth Demme (18:51):
Because of this cognitive dissonance of, "Okay. I am treating them like they're sub-human. So therefore they must be sub-human in order for this to make sense to me." I've heard reports before about how they actually had medical doctors, the whole medical profession would have been different then, but that during slavery, there were people who presented themselves as doctors who told plantation owners that black people could not feel pain.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:21):
Beth Demme (19:22):
And so it was okay to beat them because they can't feel it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:25):
Oh, my God.
Beth Demme (19:26):
Dehumanization at every level.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:30):
The reason we have to understand this, the reason why... It's like learning about the Holocaust. It's like... I can't even fathom these things. But the reason we have to understand these things is, once slavery ended it, didn't just end. Think about that. Think about that with anything. When something just ends, it doesn't just end. The people that were participating in those activities, their minds don't just stop and, "Oh, the law's changed, okay, it's fine."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:02):
Why do we have so many people in jail... Well, jail is a whole different story, but why are there criminals breaking the law? Because there's people that still, just because there's a law about something doesn't mean it changes who they are and their deep-seated reason for doing whatever. And we have to understand the past because it's still here today. There are still people that think that black lives don't matter, that their life matters, and that means that the black lives don't.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:33):
And I don't want this... I don't like that I talk about COVID a lot, but that's what I see with COVID, is literally people don't care about other people's lives. I thought so much more of people in general before this. So it is easy for me to believe how many people are not understanding how much racism is in our country because they can't even wear a freaking mask to help protect their fellow neighbor. How are they truly going to understand that they are racist and that black lives matter we have to make change in this country?
Beth Demme (21:14):
Not only are there individual people who are racist, and I just want to say-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:22):
Racists raise racists, too.
Beth Demme (21:23):
Right. I want to say you said this and I want to say it again. I want to highlight it, because I think that it's true and I think it's important for white folks to acknowledge. So I'm going to acknowledge it. And that is that, I don't remember exactly how you said it, but my takeaway and the thing that I want to highlight is that being white means that you probably have some racist ideas. We're not saying that that means you're a bad person, I think that...
Beth Demme (21:48):
And we had an episode a couple of weeks ago about, do good people have prejudice? And I think the conclusion is that, yes, right? Good people can have prejudice, the question is, what do you do with it? What do you do with your prejudice? Do you understand it? Do you look at what's behind it? Do you try to untangle it? Because we don't always understand all of the subtle messages that we reinforce for each other.
Beth Demme (22:15):
So I just wanted to say that, yes, there are individual people who are racist and who make overtly racist comments and decisions, but also there is systemic racism. There is, on a community-wide level, on a system-wide level, decisions have been made and things have been put into place to continue to perpetuate racism. We do see that in our criminal justice system. We see it in our economics. We do see it in, for example, food insecurity. We see it in the way that COVID has disproportionately affected people of color.
Beth Demme (22:55):
There are a lot of ways that it manifests itself. It's like red flags going up to say, "Oh, it's here, it's here, it's here, it's here." So I think that we have to acknowledge that there are ways that that is benefiting people. That's why it still exists. That it's benefiting the majority.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:12):
Yeah. I think the big thing is, laws may change but hearts aren't changing. And law doesn't change a heart. And how do we change that? How do we make that change? Because that is the problem, is people haven't changed. And just because there's a law that says X, Y, and Z, that doesn't mean that people are changing. And it doesn't mean that those laws are being carried out correctly, and doesn't mean that we're now in this perfect world.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:43):
When you really study history, and I don't actually like the word history because, automatically, when they hear that word, I go past, done, not present. I automatically almost tune out, because I don't like history super much. I just didn't in school. So I don't love the word. It's still prevalent today, a lot of the things that we need to learn about that's happened in the past, but when you really start to read about slavery, then the Jim Crow era, all of that, then the civil rights... I mean, there's so many levels that brought us to where we are today, in some could argue where we are today is kind of where we were back a long time ago. And we haven't really progressed super far.
Beth Demme (24:32):
On that point, I want to say I've been doing some reading through this CPE program that I'm doing. We're really looking at critical race theory and trying to understand how it impacts hospitalization and some other things. So I've had the opportunity to read, for example, W.E.B. DuBois, who was writing in the 1940s and fifties. And reading it, I felt like he has exactly identified the problem we have today. And I'm reading this, what? 70 years later?
Beth Demme (25:07):
So to your point about, we really haven't made progress, We really haven't made progress. The things that were identified as problems 70 years ago, continue to be problems today. They may be manifesting themselves in other ways, but the problem is still there. Another thing I've learned from critical race theory is that we... And this is going to be one of those things that when I say it, I feel like it's so obvious, but until I had it pointed out to me, I didn't really understand it. And that's that we have expanded the definition of who's white so that we can maintain a majority of white. Right?
Beth Demme (25:45):
There was a time when Jewish people were not considered white, or Polish people, or Irish people were not considered white. It's not centered around European ancestry even, it has a different meaning. And so this cultural construct or the social construct of whiteness, we just keep expanding it so that we can be a majority. So, for example, now when you go to fill out a form and it asks about your ethnicity, right? It's, your white. Well, then are you Hispanic white or non-Hispanic white? Because we want to include Hispanics as white so that the definition is broader.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:25):
I haven't seen that. That's on a form now?
Beth Demme (26:26):
Sure. Even on your Census, it would have asked you that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:30):
I probably don't even notice because I just hit Caucasian.
Beth Demme (26:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:33):
I probably don't even read the things.
Beth Demme (26:35):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:36):
I should read that though. I didn't even realize that. I feel like the list is long of the things. Wow.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:45):
I do want to say that, in my mind, the Capitol riots on January 6th were very much similar to the Civil War when the South wanted to keep slavery. That's what the war was about. They wanted to keep slavery, or keep their slaves. That's what I see about the insurrectionists at the Capitol, was they want to keep what they think is the right way of life. White is right in their mind. And they want to keep their majority of white. They want to continue to suppress the people of color. They want to continue to suppress the people that they don't agree with. And they want this white man that does their bidding to continue to stay in office, even though it completely would break our country, our democracy, what our country is founded on.
Beth Demme (27:43):
Well, there's a lot of fear at the root of what they did, right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:46):
Beth Demme (27:46):
They weren't motivated by fear. So then to ask the question, "Gosh, I wonder what they were afraid of?" Well, they were afraid of losing something really important to them. They continue to be afraid of losing some privilege that they have. And that's where, for me, it all comes back really to white privilege. And we see that through the symbols that they use. Right?
Beth Demme (28:07):
We talked about how they use the Confederate battle flag, that that was a symbol that they use that day. But even the... And we talked about the Holocaust shirts that were terrible, camp Auschwitz and all that. But one of the real prominent pictures was the guy who was wearing sort of this Viking helmet with the horns, those are white supremacy images, right? It goes back to Norse mythology that's been co-opted by white supremacists. That is a signal to us of what they're afraid of.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:38):
And they constructed a noose.
Beth Demme (28:40):
The noose was a pretty clear symbol, I would say.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:43):
Yeah. We haven't progressed as a country. And is that how always will be? Will there always be...? Is that what democracy is? Is that what our country is? Is we are always having these two forces. We get a little bit more than half to say yes to something, but there's always that 45% that is opposite. When you look back at our history, will this ever change? Can it change? Can we change 45% of hearts?
Beth Demme (29:20):
I would say I'd choose to remain hopeful, but I can understand that that's a choice I almost have the privilege to make. Because in so many ways, this oppression doesn't come into my bubble.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:37):
I don't know the future. I only know the past, obviously. And when I look at the past and compare it to today, it doesn't make me hopeful. But I honestly don't know what the future holds. If you had asked me in 2019, what the future held, I couldn't tell you about our pandemic, but here we are.
Beth Demme (29:56):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:58):
But I do choose to believe that we can change hearts. And we can befriend our fellow neighbors. And we can have conversations. We can have honest conversations with them.
Beth Demme (30:11):
And we can do our own work.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:13):
And we can do what we can do. Exactly. Can we change the world on a grand scale? I don't have the answer to that, but I know, when I look at the history of people of color in this country, it's so disheartening. It's so sad. It's a lot. I look, and I'm like... I realized when I watched the Surviving a Lynching story, I didn't watch it until yesterday, right before we started planning this episode because I wanted to have it fresh, but I realized I was like, "Would I have watched that normally if we weren't doing a podcast on this?" And I realized, I was like, "I actually need to... I want to know more about American history, which is black history. It's all the same. I want to know more about that." And I realized, I have to be intentional about it. Because I'm not going to naturally gravitate towards watching that when I have some time in front of my TV. I'm not going to naturally be like, "Surviving a Lynching, fun." Like-
Beth Demme (31:18):
It's not really entertainment, it's really an intentional choice to be educated.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:21):
Exactly. And so I'm glad I set aside that time to watch that. That showed me so much that I would not have known or been able to see otherwise. And so that really just re-reiterated to me that I need to be intentional about learning and educating myself. And knowing it's a lot though. And knowing that I can't change the past, that I can't change people currently, but I can make changes in my own life. Something so simple, but I don't... I'm shy, as you know, and I don't typically just talk to strangers or even super acknowledged them a lot, or maybe wave or something, but I don't... I'm shy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:09):
And I don't really super engage with strangers. But something that I've been intentional about is if I see people of color walking towards me or something, I intentionally will put on a smile and be friendly, and say, hi, and just, oh, good morning. But intentional about it. Which is so silly and like, that's nothing. But that is a conscious decision I've made and getting continued to kind of push myself to do, is just to acknowledge all people, obviously, but even more people of color that I might not have acknowledged before in my head just saying, it's because I am shy, of course they know I'm shy and that's why I'm not acknowledging them. No, just acknowledge them. Be uncomfortable and acknowledge them.Everyone needs to be acknowledged. So that's a little tiny thing that probably makes no difference in the world, but something that I feel like I can do. And if it's a small thing, that's what I can do.
Beth Demme (33:09):
So it was, I guess last June, that companies started to talk about how they were going to change some of their brands that have these really unacceptable racist history. For example, the Aunt Jemima brand. And now we've heard from Pepsi, they have a new name for the Aunt Jemima brand. It'll become known as the Pearl Milling Company. And that that change will fully happen by June of this year. So a year after they initially made the decision. Do you think that they should be celebrated for that? How do we say you've done the right thing, but also, for a long time, you didn't do the right thing? Or the Washington Football Team? Or things like that, when those kinds of decisions happen, how do you feel about that?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:02):
I think they need to be acknowledged because we have to change. And like I said, the places where we live in East, the names need to change. I'm sorry. I know it's going to be a whole lot of work for every business to change their name, but that's got to change. So I think it's important to acknowledge when a company does finally make the right decision and change the name. I don't think they should be celebrated, necessarily, because it's kind of like, yeah, this went on way too long and-
Beth Demme (34:36):
Every year, we're not like, "Yay. You paid your corporate taxes." No, it's just what you're supposed to do."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:40):
You're just supposed to do. Exactly. I do think it should be acknowledged because other companies... I think by acknowledging it, it does put pressure on other companies to make the change that needs to happen, but not necessarily celebrated. I didn't use that syrup before, I'm not going use the syrup now. I do believe it has high fructose corn syrup and it was very bad for you.
Beth Demme (35:01):
Yeah. But it's so delicious.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:02):
That may have changed though. I don't know if they changed the recipe, but I don't get syrup with high fructose corn syrup. So that's my-
Beth Demme (35:08):
Its just syrup, it's also self-rising pancake mix. Just add water.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:13):
That sounds real healthy as well.
Beth Demme (35:16):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:16):
It sounds just as healthy as the syrup. I didn't use the product before, I won't use it now, but I do acknowledge that these changes need to happen. I don't celebrate it, but I acknowledge it, and I am glad to hear that it just took a year. That seems kind of short to me actually. And during a pandemic year. What are your thoughts?
Beth Demme (35:38):
I think you're right, that we have to acknowledge it and we have to say, yes, you've done the right thing, but not necessarily celebrate it so that-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:49):
White people have enough celebration. We're good.
Beth Demme (35:50):
Well, that's true, too.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:52):
We don't need to [crosstalk 00:35:52].
Beth Demme (35:53):
We get our history 11 months of the year.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:55):
Yes. Yeah. Which is not cool.
Beth Demme (35:58):
Right. I do want to say, I think that originally the intent behind Black History Month was to say, we're going to be intentional about including this in our curriculum, highlighting things that have gone unacknowledged for too long. So I think the original intent of it was good, but I think, through the years, it has had this unintended effect
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:18):
Beth Demme (36:18):
Maybe, yeah. Maybe that's the way to say it. But it's had this unintended effect of being like, "We only teach it that one month." And really, we need to have a more integrated, less-segregated, approach to learning our history.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:32):
Yeah. I'm not against Black History Month, but I don't think it should be an excuse to only teach it. I think it's great to acknowledge it more, even heightened, but I think it needs to be taught in a point. And again, I haven't been in school in a long time, so maybe it is taught differently now. Maybe they do dig into slavery to the degree that is necessary. And I'm hoping that slavery is a huge part of curriculum.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:57):
I think I've said it before, but I remember in seventh grade, for like a whole semester, it was like forever, we learned about the Holocaust. It was huge. We read the stories, everything. And I was so enthralled in it. And I even took a whole Holocaust class in college. That's all it was about. And as I'm saying this, I'm realizing I don't have any memory. I remember learning about slavery, but I don't have any memory of this intentional, this very in-depth look at slavery in grade school or college. That is appalling that I learned more about the Holocaust than I did about slavery that happened in our country is part of our history. What is that?
Beth Demme (37:46):
I'm in the same boat. It was not something-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:48):
It's probably because when we talk about America's part of the Holocaust, we're celebrated because we went and helped. We made it all better.
Beth Demme (37:54):
That's a good point.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:54):
That's probably what it is.
Beth Demme (37:56):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:57):
Because they really drive home how bad it was. Because, obviously, it is bad. But they really drive home how bad. You read about Anne Frank's story and you learn, you feel, you feel what it was like to be there, and you're just like, "Whoa." And then America comes and fixes it. But we don't have that story for slavery because we didn't come and fix it.
Beth Demme (38:18):
Well, we were talking about the plantation houses and touring the historic properties and things and how you got taken there during school, and I have always been somebody who actually really likes history and I really like historic homes. And I like to look at antebellum furniture. I have a whole different view of it now, I'm just telling you how it's been for me. But I will say that about a year and a half ago, it was pre-pandemic, so it would have been in 2019, I had to go to Clemson, South Carolina, for a work event. And I'd never been to the Clemson Campus. Just kind of wanted to do a tour.
Beth Demme (38:51):
I didn't want to do a campus tour because I'm not really in the market for college in South Carolina, but they happen to have a historic home in the heart of their campus called Fort Hill. And I wanted to do a tour of the house and my friend Hanna, we were there together for work. And it just worked out that the only tour that was available happened to be a student who was presenting, I don't know if it was a master's level thesis or if it was just more like a paper. It was a big work anyway. Where she had studied the life of the slaves who had lived in that plantation home.
Beth Demme (39:26):
And so it was really wonderful to go through this historic home and to look at the furnishings, but to be hearing the little bit that we know about the lives of the slaves that lived there. So for example, we were upstairs and we were in a bedroom. And instead of just talking about the white family who had lived there, she talked about the young slave girl who had served the family in that room, and about how far she would have to go to get the water, and about how...
Beth Demme (39:59):
We're talking about a child, an eight or nine-year-old child who was living as an enslaved person and what that would have been like for her. And how a fire started in that part of the house and this slave girl was blamed. And actually, maybe she did it. And let's talk about the reasons why maybe that would have been a choice that she would have made. It was just a really different way to look at a place like that. And it was so educational and appropriate. And I'm really grateful that I had that opportunity.
Beth Demme (40:31):
So as I look at the plantations that are geographically really close to us, I wonder why they don't do that. Why not look at the lives of the people who really built that plantation, who really made it economically viable, instead of just celebrating the enslavers?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:57):
Ooh. Okay, I'm going to acknowledge that was... I'm really glad we did that episode, but now we have to figure out how to shift to Slice of Life. So I'm just going to do it. I'm going to shift to... I want to share something that happened last night at my house, on the couch. So transition is done-
Beth Demme (41:18):
Let's not get too personal.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:21):
I think I've mentioned that my dog, Tosh, my newest dog, is a couch dog. She loves sitting on the couch. And Mack, my dog of two years, has never sat on the couch. Never had any interest. And last night, I was eating at the bar, eating dinner, and I over, and Mac just pops herself right up on the couch and sprawls out.
Beth Demme (41:40):
Sounds like Tosh has been a bit of an influence.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:43):
Yes. Very much so. Also, Mack is not a touchy-feely dog. She's not a coddler. So I realized when I saw her, I was like, "That is her couch now. Okay, great. She's not going to let me sit there with her. Okay, awesome." So just had to acknowledge my new couch dog,
Beth Demme (42:04):
One weird news thing that happened that I think probably a lot of people have heard about is this lawyer who appeared for court and didn't realize that there was a filter on, somehow, through the Zoom. And so he ended up looking like a cat. And so the big quote has been, "I'm not a cat."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:22):
Oh, I seen them, but I didn't know what that was about.
Beth Demme (42:24):
Do you ever see that? Yeah. So he was using his assistant's computer, and I guess... What I heard was that her daughter had used it the night before to Zoom for school and had turned on the filter and nobody in the office knew how to turn it off.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:38):
Oh, my gosh.
Beth Demme (42:40):
And so the lawyer's like, I'm prepared to proceed, but when you look at him, he looks like a cat.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:44):
Oh, that's funny.
Beth Demme (42:45):
So, yeah. I'm not a cat either. And I don't know, maybe your filter would make you look like a Greyhound. I don't know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:53):
That's embarrassing that old people can't figure it out technology. I'm sorry, guys. I wouldn't know how to turn it off. I'm just saying. Was it Zoom?
Beth Demme (43:04):
Somehow, this man ended up on Zoom looking like a cat.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:10):
Okay, maybe... Ooh, maybe it was a plug-in for Zoom then. Okay. Okay. I'll take away my comment about older people then. That might've been a little bit more complicated. So I take that back. Although I don't take back that I would have been able to figure it out. And I wouldn't have been using someone else's Zoom. Come on. Get your act together. Get your own account.
Beth Demme (43:30):
But it looks like a little kitten.
Speaker 3 (43:33):
I'm prepared to go [crosstalk 00:43:33] and that's... I'm here live. I'm not cat.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:47):
Oh my gosh.
Speaker 4 (43:48):
I can see that. [Gipol 00:43:48] and I believe you've a filter turned on a-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:48):
Oh, my God. Okay, Beth, show me the clip. It was the best ever. That's so much better than explaining it. Okay, you have to put a check the link to that.
Beth Demme (43:56):
You've to come look at this, you guys.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:58):
You to check the link. If you have not seen this video, believe me, you have to see it. Click the link in our description, please, for your enjoyment of the day. That's the best. Oh my gosh. Okay. That was the best.
Beth Demme (44:14):
Okay. So I actually interrupted you to show you the clip. Sorry.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:16):
Oh yes. I was going to mention.... In a couple episodes ago, I had mentioned Hobby Lobby and how I don't like going there. I had to go there for a... I needed paint that literally I could only get at Hobby Lobby. Acrylic paint. And so we went and I want to look at their miniature section because I've been getting two miniatures lately, which I can't remember if I've mentioned in the podcast. I know I did. I don't know if I edited it out though. So this may or may not be your first time hearing this, but I build miniature houses.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:46):
Anyways, I was getting them from Amazon. And I went to the miniature section at Hobby Lobby, and I was looking at the houses, it was like a nice, nice. And then I look over, and they had the exact houses I've been buying from Amazon. Some really some of the houses I've been buying from Amazon, they had there. And I was freaking out. And my mom was excited too, because they were cheaper than on Amazon.
Beth Demme (45:10):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:11):
Yes. So I bought this one set I bought for $35 from Amazon and I hadn't built it yet. And they had it at Hobby Lobby for $20. $20. And I paid 35 on Amazon. Ain't that crazy?
Beth Demme (45:24):
Amazon's always cheaper. I mean, clearly it's not, but yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:28):
Yeah. It was so... And so my mom bought me two sets because my birthday's coming up. So she bought me this big mansion that I'm very excited that I hadn't seen-
Beth Demme (45:36):
Your mom bought you a mansion for your birthday?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:39):
Yes. I'm so [inaudible 00:45:40]. And then she bought me the studio, which is what I had bought on Amazon. So I actually took pictures of both sets to see, and they're exactly the same. Exactly the same stuff. It's different outside packaging because they're ranting and under Hobby Lobby. And I still... Am not a huge fan of Hobby Lobby, but I did want to mention if you happen to be into miniatures like me, they have very good deals on them at Hobby Lobby.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:09):
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will and leave a little pause between. And you can find a PDF of them on our website or our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (46:23):
Number one, have you ever visited a plantation? What were your thoughts and feelings while you were there?
Beth Demme (46:30):
Number two, what do you think of Black History Month? How does that relate to American history?
Beth Demme (46:36):
Number three, are you willing to examine how racism has pervaded all aspects of American life?
Beth Demme (46:43):
Number four, what is something you can do today to show that black lives matter to you?
Beth Demme (46:50):
And number five, are you uncomfortable learning about systemic racism and its roots in slavery? Why?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:58):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcast, thank you for joining us.