November 12, 2020

#169 The Confetti Cannon

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

In the midst of a historic election, Alex, PJ and Emmanuel talk to our listeners.


EMMANUEL: From Gimlet, this is Reply All. 

I’m Emmanuel Dzotsi. [Cars honking] So, like a lot of people living in Brooklyn, New York this past Saturday, I heard that Joe Biden was gonna be the next president of the United States mostly because of the large amount of honking on my street. [Cars honking] And much to the annoyance of pretty much everybody who loves me, my first instinct in this moment was to grab a microphone and head outside. 

EMMANUEL: Here at Bedford and Dekalb.

I got onto my street just in time to see my local serious biker dude, who bikes around every morning in his serious biker outfit, actually stop his serious biking to yell out what everybody was thinking.

SERIOUS BIKER DUDE: It’s fuckin’ over! Ah, ah, it’s over! [Cars honking]

EMMANUEL: And then I watched as my neighborhood, or what felt like all of New York City, turned into just this giant party that raged into the small hours of the morning.

EMMANUEL: Wild. Absolutely wild. 

After months of misery and lockdown, the city felt alive—alive in a way that I’d never seen before. But, if I’m being honest about it, the moment I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this week happened hours after Joe Biden won the presidency. It happened later on that night.  

[Cheering]KAMALA HARRRIS: And it is now…

EMMANUEL: As millions of people around the country tuned in to hear him and Kamala Harris declare victory.

KAMALA HARRIS: of the United States of America, Joe Biden! [Cheering]

JOE BIDEN: My fellow Americans…

EMMANUEL: I watched as Joe Biden took the stage and gave his first speech as president-elect.

JOE BIDEN: Let us be the nation that we know we can be! A nation united, a nation…

EMMANUEL: I watched as Kamala Harris, a black woman...the first person of south asian descent and...the first woman to be elected Vice President, walked out onto the stage with her husband to join Biden and his family, who were all hugging each other and waving to the crowd.

JOE BIDEN: Spread the faith! God love you all! May God bless America, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

EMMANUEL: It was a really triumphant moment. And then, just like that


there was a bang. The people in the crowd in Wilmington, Delaware seem to miss the bang. But Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, doesn’t. He flinches the second he hears it. And Kamala Harris, she sort of rocks back on her heels, I’m guessing for the same reason me and so many other people watching their TVs that night froze in our seats—because we figured that in the middle of all of that joy, someone had tried to shoot arguably the most powerful black woman America’s ever had.

If you pause in the second or so after the bang, the expression on everyone’s faces onstage isn’t joy or wonder. It’s real, intense fear. The bang turned out to be a confetti cannon, which, as I’ve played this scene over and over again this week, never stops feeling cruelly ironic. Like, a machine designed for the iconic, happiest moments in peoples’ lives, I mistook for a weapon. Yerboi thought confetti was a bullet. Until, you know, I saw the confetti, and like Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, and the Bidens, remembered that this was supposed to be a moment of celebration, and let out a sigh of relief.

That feeling of living in a world where darkness and evil linger around the corner, ready to punish you for any happy thoughts you might have about your future or the future of your country—I’m depressingly used to it as a black person. But this week, more than any other weeks recently, that scene of a confetti cannon assassination attempt that wasn’t, it feels like an accurate metaphor for this moment. 

This, of course, may change by the time this episode comes out. But as I write this, world leaders are calling to congratulate president-elect Biden, even as President Trump and most of the Republican Party refuse to admit that Trump lost the election.

We here, at Reply All made the interesting choice to spend this historic week sitting in our respective closets and attics asking random strangers to call us. We wanted to hear from callers whose lives might be changed by Biden’s election. And everybody we talked to had different, surprising, funny, sometimes poignant reactions to what’s been going on.

Nobody we spoke to was sad that President Trump lost. Obviously there are millions of people in this country who feel that way. 

We also didn’t hear from anyone who believes Joe Biden stole the election -- although to be honest we were not going to air those false conspiracy theories in the first place.

The people you are gonna hear are all working their way through this bizarre confetti cannon explosion of a country… often trying and failing to talk to their friends and family about this election. 

So today… you’ll hear what me, PJ, Alex, and our producer Anna heard this weekend … as we left the streets, went up into our homes, and took some calls.

PJ: Alright alright alright the man who’s in a closet of darkness and the man who's in a closet of darkness of his soul, you guys ready to go? 

ALEX: Wait which one of us is in the soul darkness?


PJ: If you gotta ask… 

ALEX: I feel great!


ANNA: Oh, here we go. 

EMMANUEL: I guess we're on. 

PERSON: Are you guys ready? 


ANNA: Okay, cool.

ALEX: I'm not recording. 

ANNA: Um. 

EMMANUEL: Can you record?


ALEX: Allright, I'm ready. 



ALEX: Hello?


ALL: Hi. 

PJ: Who is this? 


ALANA: My name is Alana. I live in Dallas, Texas. 

PJ: How are you feeling?


ALANA: I feel… so like, my grandparents and my family live in Georgia.


ALAN: And, um, I am, I am Black. My grandparents are Black, and my grandmother is a staunch Trump supporter. I mean, Trump all day long. Like, we've been in—and I mean, she grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the Jim Crow South. Like, she—

EMMANUEL: Wait, wait wait. Just so I understand, she, she’s a—this is a Black woman.


ALANA: Yes. Very black. Like, went to Spelman, like, Black. Yes. 

EMMANUEL: Oh, she's like, Blackety Black. 

ALANA: Blackety Black Black, from Birmingham, went to Spelman, like, born in 1930, right? You can't get Blacker. You know, makes collard greens. The whole, the whole thing.


ALANA: But she is like—she was like, you know, “I voted for Obama, but he was so disappointing. But now I'm a Christian before I'm, before I'm Black, or before I'm a woman, or before I'm anything else. I'm a Christian.” So, she's 100 percent on like, the whole, "God just told me that Donald Trump is gonna win. So I'm not worried about it because, you know, that's who God has chosen to lead.” We've had screaming matches. It's a whole thing.

PJ: What are the conversations like? And why do you—these are two questions. I'm sorry. What are the conversations, and what do you think is going on? Like, why do you think she—why do you think she likes him?

ALANA: So, she gets most of her news from like, the evangelical Christian, you know, like those kind of news channels. 


ALANA: And so, like everything that she says, like all of her facts come from there, is one part of it. And then, of course, she's anti-abortion, because again, Christian. And she is pro-Jerusalem. That's a big thing for her. Don't know why. 

PJ: Huh. 

ALANA: If you do right by the Jews, God will do right by you. And we have to blah, blah—It's a whole thing.



PJ: These sound like conversations you've had more than once. 

ALANA: Oh, oh, hundreds, hundreds of times. And of late, like literally, she's like, "I don't want to talk about the election anymore, but, you know, God told me that Trump is gonna..." [laughing] I’m like, “You don't want me to talk about the election anymore. You still want to talk about it. But OK.”


EMMANUEL: The thing that seems so interesting to me is like I don't know. I'm just remembering like, how when Obama ran in like, '08, there were all of these sort of like older guard, like, black people who were sort of like—

ALANA: Mm-hmm. 

EMMANUEL: ... not on his train at all. Right? But then, like, by the time election night comes around, everybody's in Chicago crying because it feels like such a momentous moment. Right? 

ALANA: Right. Right. 

EMMANUEL: I don't know. I wonder, do you think, like, part of her is gonna still, even though she supports Trump and all of these things, do you think part of her is gonna look around at what happened in Georgia and just kind of like, marvel for a second at the fact that , one: a black woman is vice president; and b: like, black people are really out there, like in droves?

ALANA:  Absolutely not. She doesn't care at all. [laughing] Definitely not. [laughing] The last time we talked about it, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, like, in my apartment, yelling at my 90-year-old grandmother. Like, she was like, "If you're against Trump, then you're against God!" And I'm like, "Well, mark it down. I'm against God then!"

[someone gasps]

ALANA: "Mark it down!"

PJ: No. Oh no. 

EMMANUEL: You said that to a 90-year-old-woman?



ALANA: Yes. So it was like a whole thing. But then we went on to talk about recipes and what kind of soup we were making ‘cause the weather was cooling down.

ALEX: You guys really bounced back. 



ALANA: Yeah. Yeah.

PJ: You're like, I am in combat with my lord and savior, but.


ALANA: But, you know.

EMMANUEL: Oh my God. 

ALANA: I think I'm gonna this cream of asparagus and mushroom soup. What do you think?


ALANA: Yeah. 

PJ: Um thank you for calling. 

ALEX: Yeah, that was really, really nice to talk to you. Thank you. 

ALANA: Talk to you later.


PJ: Talk to you later. 


PJ: Hello?

ALEX: Hello?

CALLER: HI! Hello? 

ALEX: Who’s this?

PJ: Um, are you on speaker phone? ‘Cause I think Alex is coming through your line also.

CALLER: No, I can’t hear Alex. Uh, I’m dialing on a home phone.

PJ: It might be an us problem, not a you problem. Alex, try saying something else.

ALEX: Well, my name is Alex Goldman, and I’m here to say—

PJ: No, no. Not that, not that, not that.

CALLER: I can hear Mr. Goldman just fine.


PJ: You sound appropriately morose about that. 

CALLER: To be completely candid and transparent, I just had to tee you up for just the obligatory Alex dunk. It’s, it’s—I think it’s required every episode.

PJ: Thank you so much. Thank you for understanding, thank you for understanding your role in this.

ALEX (simultaneous): All right, well, it was great taking your call . We’re going to have to go now. We’ve got a lot of call—we’ve got a lot of people on the line, unfortunately.

[Emmanuel laughs]

PJ: Thank you for helping give the people what they want and what they demand. How is this election gonna change your life?

CALLER: This election is actually kind of weirdly unifying my family, where it used to be rather divi—like, diametrically divided. 

PJ: Huh.

CALLER: My, my father is a 30-year Army vet who is you know like, rather markedly politically conservative, socially con—uh, socially conservative. And I think that he’s seeing the impact the Trump admin had on honest to god U.S. citizens. And it was just kind of like ohhhhh. [PJ: huh] It has kind of opened him up towards more leftist inclusive spaces. And he’s kind of come around, and he’s like, “Well, no, you know, like, yeah, like, black lives matter, like I don’t, like, BLM movement actually does have some validity, and police, you know, should probably be defunded, and we should be allocating those financial resources towards better social programs, and—”

PJ: He went to defunding the police?

ALEX (simultaneous): What a stark reversal!

CALLER: And I think that this is also me whispering in his ear that like, you know, when you were a kid, there were all these social programs. You know, if you, if you had a minimum wage job, you could live. Where did those things go?

ALEX: Wait, are you playing music? 

PJ: Is that like a tiny anthem behind you? 

ALEX: Yeah, yeah.

PJ: It sounds like campaign music.

CALLER: Oh, no, no, no, I, I apologize, uh, all parties involved. I, I am emotionally and mentally burnt out from election night. I was a pollster, and so, Monterrey Bay Aquarium is—has like, this like lo-fi radio like, livestream that’s just like, otter cam footage. It’s just like, footage of their otters and their squids —

ALEX: Aww, that’s cute!

CALLER: If you just look up like, krill radio, like not trill the rap, like rap, but like, krill, like the, the,


PJ: Like plankton?

EMMANUEL: Plankton-like anim—like species? Yeah.

CALLER: Like Plankton? Krill radio Monterrey Bay, and it’ll come up. And it’s just like, lo-fi radio, like all the other memes with—

PJ: Oh, instead of lo-fi beats to chill to relax to, it’s two hours of squid to ch—relax/study/work to, two hours of jellyfish to study and relax/work to, but with lo-fi hip-hop. 

CALLER: After election day, I, I had to report in the polls at like 3 a.m., and I didn’t get out of there till like 10, and it was just—

PJ: Ohh.

CALLER: ... it was exhausting like If someone came to the polls without wearing a mask, we could not turn them away, and we could not force them to wear a mask. We were told that if someone had a concealed handgun they were still allowed to go to polls.

Alex: holy… 

CALLER: So long as they weren’t actively electioneering within the polling location or within 50 feet of it there was nothing we could say or do. 

PJ: Wow.

ALEX: Was this just—were these instructions just given to you by whoever was running your polling place, or was this something more centralized?

CALLER: This was—so I applied to be a pollster in light of everything that was going on, uh, and the training session that we received at the county level told us, boom, if someone comes in, unless someone is making a fuss, you thank them for coming out to the poll, or to vote and participate in the democratic process, uh, you give them the sticker, and you, you go about—they go about their day. They can’t linger, they can’t do anything like that

ALEX: That is crackers.

CALLER: Yeah, it was, it was kind of alarming. 


PJ: OK, one last thing.

CALLER: Yeah, of course.

PJ: Can you just play us some more of the krill music?

CALLER: Uh, yeah, of course.


PJ: What are the fish doing?

CALLER: The otters are swimming on their backs as a—they’re like holding hands and swimming on their backs in the pool.

ALEX: Come on holding hands?


CALLER: Yeah otters are adorable.

CALLER: Good luck with the phone calls today. Uh, Alex, stop doomscrolling. Just joyscroll. Just a little bit.




ALEX: Why, why’s he gotta get on my case? 

EMMANUEL: Well, so, so here’s—this is a thing that I feel like I, I need to ask you guys as part of my first call-in, which is like, like, should I dunk on you too, Alex?

ALEX: I’m gonna say no. [laughing]

PJ: Of course you should dunk on him.

ALEX: I’m gonna say no.


EMMANUEL: Like, which way should I go with this?

PJ: His love language is not love. Hello? 

ALEX: Hello?

PARTH: Hey. 

ALEX: Hi, who's this?

PJ: Who's this?


PARTH: My name is Parth.

EMMANUEL: So great to talk to you. How are you, and where are you calling us from?

PARTH: I'm doing great. I'm calling from Austin, Texas.


EMMANUEL: Nice. So, how has your life been changed by Biden being elected?


PARTH: So, I've been in the U.S. for almost 10 years now. 

EMMANUEL: Mm-hmm. 

PARTH: And I have been on a work visa, also known as H1B, for the last almost seven years. 

What really changed and made the process stressful was, under Trump administration, when you have to fill out the online forms and get an appointment, you fill out all the information about what your current address is, where you live, and what you have studied, who is your employer. But on top of that, they made every applicant fill in their social media handles. Right?

PJ: What?

ALEX: Woah. 


PARTH: So you have to provide your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. 

PJ: So did you do it?


PARTH: And—yes, they were mandatory fields in the, in the form called DS-160. Everyone has to fill that out. And what was more weird was they even asked for my Reddit username, which starts to be a really anonymous platform, but now with this administration, they, they can associate my Social Security number with my Reddit username.


PJ: Are you a big Reddit user? 

PARTH: Yes, I am. Yes. 


PJ: For me, like, I'm not a big Reddit user, but if all of a sudden, a U.S. government employee was like, "I want to see your Reddit," my brain would just flash, like, "What have I posted?", like, what are the—what is the picture of me? 

PARTH: Exactly. I mean, I didn't have anything crazy going on on my Reddit account. But because there are no guidelines or there is no benchmark as to, hey, what they will—what that person in that specific point in time will think is OK, what is not OK, makes me question every time I post anything on any of the platforms.


PJ: Oh, that's so stressful. 

ALEX: Yeah.

PJ: So do you feel like now you can, like, post what you want on the Internet in a less stressful way?


PARTH: Yes. Yes.

PJ: Are you going to post something that's like, wild?


PARTH: I mean, even if it is not anything wild, just to be able to state your opinions and be open about it is helpful, right? Because—


PJ: Yeah. 

PARTH: … I'm not comparing or pitting immigrants versus immigrants. I know there is a lot of conversation about Dreamers and all of that, but there is little to no conversation about people who are here legally and are going to be waiting for their green card for 80 years based on their country of origin.


ALEX: Whoa. 

EMMANUEL: I'm curious. Like, I don't know. I just remember four years ago, like this week, I just applied for, like, American citizenship not too long before. I'm from England, originally. And I remember, like, talking with all my family members and people about whether, you know, if they were going to stay. I don't know, like, like, do you want to become a citizen of the United States?


PARTH: I do. I'll also be honest. If, if Trump would have won this election, I did have all my papers ready for, for Canada.

ALEX: Hmm. 

EMMANUEL: Oh, really? You were gonna, you were gonna, you were gonna ditch and go to Canada.


PARTH: Yeah, I mean, just day-to-day stress was just too much to take for both me and my wife. 


PARTH: But I'm more hopeful now. And to be honest, both my wife and I, we love Austin. This is a great place. And in general, we love the U.S. We are proud of the contribution we are making to this country. And all we are trying to really look for is respect. Right? And that's what we were not getting.

EMMANUEL: Yeah. I don’t know. 

ALEX: Thank you so much for calling, Parth. 

EMMANUEL: Yeah, seriously. Thank you so much. 

PARTH: Bye. 


PJ: Bye. Emmanuel, have you voted in a presidential election before this?

EMMANUEL: This is my—no. This is my first ever vote. 

ALEX: Congratulations.

PJ: How did it feel?


EMMANUEL: It felt really great, to be honest. I mean, it was like—I was prepared for the whole, like, the whole deal. I like, brought a book. I was prepared for a long line. But, you know, I voted, early voted, so it was over like that. [snaps] But no, it felt, it felt great. It felt—it feels nice to be like, invested in a thing, you know, fully. 

PJ: Yeah, I know.

EMMANUEL: [laughing] Ahh. 


PJ: Hello? 

CALLER: Ah, what’s up, buddy? How you doing?

EMMANUEL: We’re good. How are you doing?

CALLER: I’m pretty good.

EMMANUEL: Cool. Where, where are you like, calling us from today?

CALLER: Um, Rock Hill, South Carolina.

EMMANUEL: Ro—where is, where is that in South Carolina, exactly?

CALLER: So, the northern border, just touching, um, Charlotte, North Carolina. So, it’s basically a suburb of Charlotte.

EMMANUEL: Oh, OK, cool, cool, cool. How did you feel watching like, what happened in Georgia, given, you know, what happened in South Carolina?

CALLER: Oh, listen, that gave me hope, you know, things could change. You know, and I, I feel that South Carolina can get there. No time soon, though. I mean, I'm talking about when my kids are ready to vote, ‘cause I have an eight-year-old, a six-year-old, and a three-year-old. And I’m like, maybe by the time they grow up and, you know, their generation sees what’s going on, you know, things can change for them. You know, I’m trying to do my best to show them that you know there are good people all around, but, you know, there are also some pretty bad people. You know what I mean? And I’m just like, yo, everybody that is a Republican is not bad. Everybody that is a Democrat is not bad. I don’t care what party affiliation you have. If a patient comes in to see me, they definitely will get the same treatment. I treat everybody with love and respect. 

EMMANUEL: Oh, you’re a doctor?

CALLER: Yeah, I’m, I’m a dentist down here. 


CALLER: Yeah. But, you know like, me and my friend group, you know, I’m a gamer and all these things. A lot of my friends are—they bought into some of that QAnon—

PJ: Oh, really? 

CALLER: … venom. And honestly, I’m like, dude, as a Black man, you believe this bullshit? LIke, they literally were telling me like, Hillary Clinton was sucking the blood of blah blah blah.

PJ: Oh god.

CALLER: And i’m like, “What the—come on, guys. Come on, y’all, please.

EMMANUEL: I don’t know. I feel like we talk a lot about like how susceptible, right, like, your typical, stereotypical white guy—disaffected guy is to that stuff. But you touched on a thing, which is just like, watching the numbers come in for like, Trump

CALLER: Right.

EMMANUEL: … I kept just thinking, seeing the numbers of like, Black men who voted for Trump, I kept thinking of—and like, the guys, like, I don't know, like, in my like, Black barbershop in Brooklyn, right who wouldn’t—I wouldn’t say that they’re like, QAnon people. But like, when you look at like, the crazy things that the United States and the Western world has done to Black people, it’s not, mo—conspiracy theories don't seem so crazy.

CALLER: Right. Right. I mean.

EMMANUEL: And I don’t know. I’m just, I’m just wondering where you are in your friend group. Like, how do you feel about that?

CALLER: So, speaking of barbershops, in my barbershop, and [sigh] a lot of those men in there can’t stand Biden. OK? For whatever reason. Like, conversations go on for days. But they literally told me that they’re voting for Trump because he gave them that money, that $1,200 dollars. And I said, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.”

EMMANUEL: Oh like the Coronavirus relief fund.

CALLER: You’ve gotta be kidding me. Right, the Coronavirus relief fund. Yes. Right? And, you know, I mean, yeah, we got in huge debates, I’m talking about fallouts where it, it got bad in there. Literally one fight did break out.

PJ: Wow.



CALLER: … it was, um—when it comes down to conspiracies, here’s the thing. As a Black man, in America, it’s like, let me see how we would present it in the barbershop. We talk about religion, right, and how they say Christianity was given to us by the slave masters. And we are simply put in line, and we’re, we’re basically told to follow based off of the Christian belief, and we shouldn't be even rocking with Christianity and all this and that. So, that leads to any and everything that comes from the government or anything that comes from a white man, you shouldn’t believe anyway. Right?

So, those things happened. And whenever you see some stuff with politics, whatever the old way is, if you see anything that could combat that or go against it, you’re gonna rock with it, simply because you need to go against whatever the “establishment” quote unquote white man has told you from the beginning. And they say that Trump was anti-establishment.

And I’m like, “Where?” You know, “Trump is gonna save us money.” And I’m like “Yo, honestly, I'm one of the only ones that can benefit from what Trump has to offer in here. I’m the only one in that tax bracket. The rest of y’all are not.” You know what I’m saying? And I had to break things down, like, “Yo, this is what my taxes looked like before. This is how it is now. This is how much money I saved.” You know what I mean? Like, I tried to break things down to people, like, “Yo 

PJ: How did that go over?

CALLER:  I mean, they—you know, of course they always, they get to talking about how they didn’t benefit from President Obama. Right? And they are trying to say that Trump did more for Black people than Obama did. So, when I showed them how things worked differently under Trump and Obama, they were like, “Well, that’s still bullshit. You still benefited more from Trump.” I said, “Yes, financially, I benefited more. Yes, I did. Cannot front. I have benefited.” But You don’t vote just based off of your pocket. You know what I’m saying? If somebody else—if, if a, if a candidate can come in and light the fire under this racist group of people, and they become just—I [sighs]. I’m sorry.

PJ: No.

CALLER: I just get a little disheartened when I even think about it. You know, especially with, you know, Donald Trump and the things he said about, you know, women. ‘Cause every time he spoke on a Black woman, it seemed like he called ‘em a, an animal or a dog. It, it—

CALLER: This stuff kind of pisses me off. 

PJ: Yeah.

CALLER: You know what I’m saying?  And I get sick of that. And, you know, that’s, that’s why I was so—I mean, I had my daughter watch everything that went down with, you know, Kamala Harris. It felt good to allow my kid, or have my kid see that happen before their eyes.

EMMANUEL: Well, thank you so much for, for talking with us. Um.

CALLER: Listen, thank you guys for letting me get this off my chest.

ALEX: Take care.

EMMANUEL: Take care. Bye.



PJ: Hello?

PAOLA: Oh, hi. 

ALEX: Hi, who's this?

PJ: Who's this?

PAOLA: This is Paola. 

EMMANUEL: How are you doing? 

PAOLA: I'm good. I'm good.


PJ: Where are you calling from? 

PAUOLA: I'm from Boston, but I live in Atlanta.


ALEX: Mm, did you vote in Georgia?


PAOLA: I did.


ALEX: How did that feel? [Laughing]

PJ: Alex, great. Oh, my God, the hard hitting questions from political journalist Alex Goldman. [Laughing] You're from Atlanta. Did you vote in Georgia?

ALEX: I don't know, man.  

PJ: And if so, how did that feel? The, the feeling of watching him realize that he didn't have a question, and his brain being like, "Mmm, I'm a radio journalist. 'How did that feel? How did that feel?'" 

EMMANUEL: There were so many questions. So many questions. I'm sorry. Alex, I'll stop hating on you, and I will, I willl ask more questions. 

ALEX: No. No. You know what?

PJ: Emmanuel, you're a host now. 

[talking over each other]

EMMANUEL: the first place. 

ALEX: I'm fine with it, because if, if there are two villainous hosts and then one poor unsuspecting host that just gets beat up on all the time, that's fine with me. If that's how you want to play it.

PJ: No, but seriously, How did it, how did it feel? How did it feel when you voted? [Laughing]

EMMANUEL: No no no no, let’s be clear—

ALEX: I think she—have you hung up, Paola?

PAOLA: No, I'm here. My boyfriend's laughing. He's here with me too for this call. 

PJ: Does your boyfriend also live in Atlanta? 

PAOLA: Yeah.

BRIAN: Yes. 

PJ: Did he vote in Atlanta?


EMMANUEL: Oh, my God. 

PJ: How did it feel? 

ALEX: Ugh. Umm. 

[Paola laughing]

PAOLA: Well, what do you—

BRIAN: You go ahead, babe. 

PAOLA: OK, so—that's my boyfriend Brian.

PJ: Hi, Brian. 

EMMANUEL: Hi, Brian. 

BRIAN: Hey, guys. We voted early. 

PAULA: Yeah. 

ALEX: Mm-hmm. 

BRIAN: Like the 21st of October. I'm hopeful, but I'm not—this isn't it. You know, everyone keeps saying that the work just started, which I think is 100 percent accurate. 

PAOLA: Agreed.


PJ: Yeah. 

EMMANUEL: Yeah, yeah. 

PAOLA: What about you guys? Are you guys feeling hopeful?

PJ: [sighs] I feel like it's unfashionable to say that you're feeling hopeful. And I know the adult thing is that our country has a lot of work to do. I I like, went outside and like, everyone is just being really nice to each other in Brooklyn today. It's just, it’s just—it's like it's everyone's birthday at the same time.

PAOLA: It was quiet here. I would’ve, I would have loved —

BRIAN: Until now, there’s—we live by Georgia Tech and by the highway, we hear drag racing and fireworks going off right now. [Laughing]


PJ: People are drag racing? That's how Atlanta does it?


BRIAN: Yeah. [Laughing]

PAOLA: Well, I think they look for—there’s, there’s never really a reason for drag racing, to be honest.


PJ: Oh, thanks for calling. 

EMMANUEL: Yeah. Thanks so much. 

PAOLA: Yeah, no problem. Have a good night. 

BRIAN: Have a good night, guys.

EMMANUEL: You too. Bye.

ALEX: You too. Bye.

PJ: Bye.

ALEX: I'm lightheaded from laughing at that. 

PJ: Alex, you're on a delay now. You should refresh. 

ALEX: All right. 

EMMANUEL: And if you are actually lightheaded, you should stand up really quickly, but keep your knees bent. [Laughing]

ALEX: I thought the goal was not to fucking dunk on me, Emmanuel. 

PJ: He was trying to take care of you! 

ALEX: I'm fine. 

PJ: This is one of the reasons—I'm trying, I'm trying to help you understand. I-if you say nice things to him, he takes them as insults. And if you say insults to him, he giggles like a happy little baby.

ALEX: He he he! [laughs]

PJ: Ugh... he's joking, but he's not joking. [laughing] It makes him feel noticed. 

EMMANUEL: Aw. Well, I'm noticing you, Alex. 

PJ: No, you can't do it the next thing. It makes him feel tickled. 

EMMANUEL: [laughing] Just you know, just trying to be intentional. 

PJ: Look how uncomfortable he is. 

ALEX: Yeah, this does feel terrible. 

EMMANUEL: [Crosstalk] Just trying to be intentional about—

ALEX: Don't—can you stop noticing me now? I’d rather be dunked on than noticed, if I’m being honest. 

PJ <laughs>         


ADD VM: Hi you’ve reached the Reply All voicemail. Please leave a message and it might be used on the show. Thanks! 

MARIKA: Hi, this is Marika calling from New York about how Biden winning will personally affect me. And uh, for me, it’s that I can finally use MAGA again about my grandmother, who for 25 years, we called Maga, and she died in March of 2015. And then a few months later, Trump came out and started using those four letters to basically be his campaign slogan. And now I feel like we can kind of reclaim those letters again to be about someone who was so important to our family. Thank you so much. Bye-bye

CALLER: I saw the tweet asking for black voters in the south to call in and give a synopsis of how we’re feeling and uh I’m feeling a lot of different ways all at the same time. I worked as a poll manager for the first time in this election. And I was incredibly proud to do so. But I came home on Tuesday evening in my very red state of South Carolina, incredibly angry and frustrated, when I realized that the majority of white people looked at the incompetence, the cruelty, the straightup racism of this administration, and still intentionally cast a vote for them. It is a hell of a drug, racism is. And after I spent the summer talking to white people. And watching Ava Duvernay’s 13th movie on Netflix with white people that I invited to watch with me. To understand the history, to talk about what was going on. They still chose racism over anything else.

Now, I’m trying to squeeze out joy out of Biden and Harris winning. I’m proud of them. I love both of them. And I’m also proud of the boots on the ground workers who made it possible for them to win Pennsylvania, and Georgia, and Michigan, and Wisconsin, and all the other places where they won. So, I’m trying to squeeze joy out of these historic events that have happened. But it is just very daunting for me to walk around and realize [laughs] that the majority of white people here in the United States despise me because of the color of my skin. [click]

WOMAN: Hi. So, I live in Texas, and I am African-American. And you asked, how do I feel about what’s going on right now? And I just want to share my true feelings, uh, right now, how I feel about what’s going on. [Screams] And that’s pretty much how I feel. And I actually feel a little bit better now. 

After the break… fake news and the church 


[Long silence]

PJ: Hello?

HUDSON: Hello. Is this PJ? 

PJ: This is PJ. Who's this? 

HUDSON: This is Hudson. 

PJ: Hudson. Cool name. 

HUDSON: Hey, thank you. So, I'm on a totally different time zone from you guys. And so, I just woke up, and I saw the tweet, and I was like, I think I have to call. So, let me just give you some backstory real quick.

PJ: Yeah.

HUDSON: I am a youth pastor, and I work at a church. Um, and oh my gosh, this, this Trump administration has really changed the way that we work as pastors and people at churches, um, how we like—

PJ: How? 

HUDSON: … how we like, just do our job? If that makes sense? Um—

PJ: That surprises me a little bit. Like what—how does it change how you do your jobs? 

HUDSON: This is crazy. So, any time we really talk about, like, the way of Jesus and how Jesus lived his life, and how he cares for the people around him, we oftentimes will get congregants coming up to us after certain services or certain messages and saying, “You guys are promoting leftist rhetoric,”

ALEX: What specifically, what specifically in Jesus's message do they object to as leftist? [Laughing]

HUDSON: So, my, my head pastor, he preached this sermon talking about all the kids that were trapped in cages a few weeks ago. And there's quite a few congregants who are pretty upset because they felt that he wasn't talking about, like, things that actually mattered. They're like, “No, the Trump administration's taking care of all these kids.” And, you know, my my pastor got pretty upset at these people and was like, “You're Christians. You're supposed to be taking care of these people. You're supposed to be doing this, you know?”

EMMANUEL: Did they just think it was like, not true that Trump was putting children in cages, or did they just not care? 

HUDSON: I think it's a combination of both. It's kind of crazy because I listen to a lot of your podcasts, especially the ones on QAnon, and QAnon has really infiltrated the modern American church. 

PJ: Really? How does Q show up in, like, a church service? Like, how are you seeing it in a congregation?

HUDSON: So, it’s, it’s all sorts of stuff. So there's one congregant who came up to me a few weeks ago and was telling me about this Facebook group called like, the X22 report, and it's like, it's like, geopolitical something, something. And, and I joined this Facebook group, and it’s literally just reposting stuff from QAnon drops. And I'm just like, I cannot be a part of this. Like, this is kind of insane. 

And I'd say probably a good 15 to 20 percent of our congregation are really, really invested into conspiracy theories. And so, we see—we have to like, combat conspiracy theories. And um, our pastor actually gave a sermon last week talking about fake news and how it's not right, and how Jesus calls us to share good news and not fake news and things like that. Fake news in the sense of like, fact-checking what you’re posting on Facebook and making sure what you’re sharing is correct information, and not blindly following people. And even then, that ruffled some feathers. 

ALEX: Do you think that the sermons that, that have been given about sort of like, being less trustful of online information and that kind of thing, do you think that they're getting through to anybody? Do you think that you're reaching people? Is there any attempt at sort of like, talking to people one-on-one, if they're particularly susceptible or have bought in really hard to this, this kind of stuff? 

HUDSON: For sure, yeah. Um, I think a lot of conversations have happened one-on-one, but it's really hit or miss. There's some people who are really receptive to it, depending on how, how highly they look up to like, pastoral staff. So, um, like, a few conversations that I've had with people, they've been really receptive to it. Then I go home the next day, and they're sharing that like, Jesus sent Donald Trump to reverse all of Barack Obama's policies and things like that. And it's just like, really, really crazy. 

So, to answer your question, I'm really hoping that the Biden, the Biden administration just doesn't do anything like this, so that this kind of thinking just kind of dissipates a little bit. We're supposed to love our neighbor regardless of who they are and their sexual orientation. And just, we're just supposed to love people as much as we can and take care of the poor and the widowed and things like that, so. 

PJ: Do you ever think about—like, do you ever feel like maybe you're at the wrong church? Like that, that you'd be happier with a congregation that, that had a different world view? 

HUDSON: I don't think so. I think, you know, the whole Christianity thing, like, I think this is my purpose. My purpose is to come and to love these people here where I work at. And my goal is to guide them in the ways of Jesus. And this is just another obstacle to overcome. But I do, I do believe that these are really, really wonderful people who really do want to seek out who Jesus is. There's just some things that they believe that they have to work through first. 

PJ: Where, where are you? 

HUDSON: I'm currently in Washington state, about an hour from Seattle in a part called Bremerton. 

PJ: Yeah, MxPx, the Christian punk band, is from there. 

HUDSON: Yup, yup.

All:  [laughing] 

PJ: Well, I think they had an album called like, “Welcome to Bremerton,” or something.

HUDSON: Yeah, so my mom actually had that CD when I was a little kid. And so, when I moved up here, I stole that CD from her.

 PJ: Yeah, well, thank you for calling in, and good luck. 

HUDSON:  Yeah, thank you guys. I appreciate it.

EMMANUEL: Take care. 




ALEX: Hello. [sound of someone hanging up] Hello? 

EMMANUEL: Maybe we should just not have you pick up, Alex. [PJ laughing] 

ALEX: What the fuck, dude? 

EMMANUEL: I'm just testing it out. I'm just, you know, I'm just—it didn't feel good. I'm sorry. [laughing]

EMMANUEL: I'm sorry. That didn't feel nice. 

PJ: Watching a nice person try to be mean. 

ALEX: Felt good for PJ. It felt great for PJ.

PJ: [laughing]

EMMANUEL: I don't know why you're laughing, PJ, because evidently, since I can't make fun of Alex and not feel bad, there's only one target for me in this, this merry-go-round we have. 

PJ: It's like a nun with boxing gloves.

[phone rings]

ALEX: Hello?

RILEY: Oh, hi. Hello.


ALEX: Who are we talking to? Who are you?


RILEY: I'm going to give you a fake name because the stuff that I'm going to talk about, a lot of people in my life don't know, so.

PJ: Oh. 

RILEY: I'm Riley. Hi. 

PJ: Hi, "Riley". 

RILEY: Hi. [laughing] Well, today is a very, very good day for me. I've been here in the country since I was 13. I'm turning 26 this month.


EMMANUEL: And where are you from originally?


RILEY: I'm from the Philippines, but somewhere along the way along the, along the way, because of a series of unfortunate events, I had lost my visa, and—

EMMANUEL: Oh, no. 

RILEY: Basically, my lawyer screwed up my student visa.

ALL: Oh, that’s—I'm sorry. 

RILEY: Yeah. You know, the penalty was—I mean, like, I could leave and go somewhere else, but the penalty is—for overstaying is, I don't get to go—like, I'm banned from this country for ten years. 

PJ: Yeah. 

RILEY: And my whole family is here. I was still able to go to college, and I actually—I'm board certified and licensed for the job, like the profession that I went to college for. But because I am undocumented, I don't have a work permit, which means I've, I’ve been sitting on this license for four years. 

ALEX: Ooh. 

RILEY: I can’t do anything with it.

PJ: Wait, so when you say "sitting on the license," meaning like, you’re licensed to do your job, but you can't do your job?


RILEY: Yeah, like I actually—I have renewed it twice already. I paid money to keep my license active, but I have not used it once for the actual job.


PJ: And so what have you been doing like, for work and like, how have you been maintaining?

RILEY: Odd jobs. I've done a lot of odd jobs. I've, you know, cleaning houses and babysitting, teaching like, children's church or whatever. Like, I've done a lot of odd jobs. And, you know, I'm proud of my hard work, but it—I feel like—not that it's not my purpose, but, you know, I studied really, really, really hard. 


RILEY: And it felt like it was for nothing.


PJ: Do you people in your life know about your status?


RILEY: Um, close friends do. Some folks that I went to school with do. The people who know, they're very supportive. Like, I've actually gotten, [laughs] I've gotten several marriage proposals.


PJ: Oh. People are like, “Let me—let's do some immigration fraud. I'm sorry our country is in a weird place.” [laughing]

PJ: Do the, the people that don't know your status that you went to school with, are they like—are they confused why you're not pursuing a career in your field?


RILEY: Um, yes. I have learned to lie and lie and lie. 

EMMANUEL: What's the lie that you tell?


RILEY: I say something like, "Well, I'm just getting some experience," you know. And “I'm just getting some experience,” or “I'm just taking a bit of a break because it's really stressful.”


RILEY: You know. Oh, it's basically just like—yeah, it's like, lies that, you know, I am getting experience, you know, for my résumé. It's technically true.

PJ: Yeah. 


RILEY: But it's not the whole truth. And I have, I have relatives in the Philippines that I talk to often, and I have become an expert liar, which, you know, obviously weighs on me because, like, my grandma would be like, "Oh, how’s that, you know, that, that the place you're working at?" And I'm like, "Perfect. Wonderful," you know? It's, “My coworkers are like this ,and my coworkers are like that.” And I'm like, I don't have a coworker. I'm taking care of a baby, so.


EMMANUEL: Oh, you're having to lie both ways. Like both to people here, but also to people back in the Philippines.


RILEY: Yeah, and, you know, I have, I have a lot of friends there, and they're always like, "Oh, when are you going to come home and, you know, visit us? We want to take you to this place and this place." And I always have to deflect, and I’m like, "Oh, well, airfare is expensive."

ALEX: Ohh. 

RILEY: Or "I'm busy."

PJ: Because you can't go home and then come back.

RILEY: Yes. 

ALEX: Why do you feel like you can't tell your grandmother what's actually going on? Like, why do you feel like you need to lie to your family back home?


RILEY: I'm, I’m Filipino. Uh, the culture of shame is very strong. 

ALEX: Hmm. 

RILEY: So it's like, bring, you know, being a family disappointment. Yeah. So it's like, I'd rather—not I'd rather, but I guess everyone else in my family, too, is like, we'd rather keep her in the dark so she doesn't get too stressed.


ALEX: I see. So, so now that Joe Biden is the president-elect, what are you, what are you hoping will be your path out of being sort of undocumented in this situation?


RILEY: Um, I think I'm hoping that the easiest way is for an expansion of DACA, because I know they tried that before, but it was blocked for some reason. Because I, I almost, almost qualified for DACA. It was—I think the requirement was, you were supposed to have come here like, in 2007, and I came here in 2008.

ALEX: Shit. 

PJ: Oh. 


RILEY: So just a tiny, tiny bit of expansion would be nice. You know, I would be covered under that umbrella, and I'm sure a lot of other people would be, too. So, it would be nice. I mean, I'm not like, asking for a complete pardon, although that would be nice, too. But, you know, I feel like I just want to be useful.


PJ: I hope things feel less stressful, and we're glad that you're here.


ALEX: Yeah, I hope you get to do the job that you, that you went to school for, and it sounds like you really would like to do.

RILEY: [laughs] Thank you.

ALEX: Riley, thank you so much for calling. 

RILEY: OK, bye. 

ALEX: Bye. 

PJ: Bye. 


I feel like there's this weird thing that I have been feeling actually, now that I have voted. I feel like I feel fully like an American citizen for the first time. And it is interesting talking to folks who aren't American citizens because it's like, "Oh, right. I'm, I'm not there anymore." You know?

PJ:  You feel like you, you're on another side of a line?

EMMANUEL: Yeah. Yeah. Which feels messed up because the only reason I'm on the other side of the line is because I'm from a more favorable country/like, I also was on the H1B visa. Like, you know what I mean? I had—I'm, I’m feeling my immigrant privilege in a major way at the moment.

PJ: Yeah. It's also like, do you feel like, responsible for the mess more now? [Laughs]

EMMANUEL: No, I totally do. I totally, totally do. Like, even my family, like the way they approach me about America is different now. 

PJ: Oh, it's your, it’s your problem now.

EMMANUEL: Yeah. It's like—and it's interesting too, because I can tell like, with Trump and stuff, even though I feel like, I don't know, like, their whole tack for four years has been not to offend me. But it's like, then we start talking and they're like, "Right, Emmanuel's like, an American citizen, but like, he didn't grow up here. And he has a critical eye. Therefore, we can talk shit about America. But there is that disconnect now. They, they see this as my home, which is super crazy.

PJ: Yeah


WOMAN: Yeah. Um, I may just leave a message. I’m Persian, and a lot of my family’s in Iran. Um, so, at the beginning of COVID, before COVID started in the U.S., like, it really looked like Iran and, and America were gonna go to war. My mom was in Iran at that time, and my dad was in Iran at that time. And everything was escalating, and it was very scary. And [sighs], and I don’t think that’s gonna happen anymore. 

It just feels like, so shitty that like, this entire generation for four years got screwed. Like, my cousin got screwed. Some of my friends who were gonna come to college in America got screwed. There were like, these visas before where you could go in and out, and now they can only stay here, and families got separated. And like, hopefully that’s gonna change. [Sighs] And listen, maybe I’ll feel like more of an American again. I always feel American, but, you know, maybe it won’t be such a target to be Persian anymore. I don’t know. I’m gonna go.

LATOYA: My name is Latoya, and I live in a suburb of Georgia—Atlanta, Georgia, called DeKalb County. And, phew. I—as a black woman, it has been such a journey since Stacey Abrams, um, tried to win governorship against Kemp. And this election, this…it, it’s got me speechless, because finally people see that votes do matter, that—and, um, I’ve never been more proud of our state. I’ve never been more proud of people that mailed in votes. And, you know, we stood in those stupid lines, and to see that, you know, four hours in line wasn’t a waste. And, um, go Georgia. And now to the Senate races. 


Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt, Alex Goldman and me, Emmanuel Dzotsi. 

Our show’s produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung, and Lisa Wang. Our executive producer is Tim Howard. We were mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. 

Our theme song and other music used in this episode is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Additional music production by Mari Romano. Thank you so so much to absolutely everyone who called in to tell us about what the election meant to them. 

Matt Lieber is a newly organized tupperware drawer. 


You can listen to our show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you soon.