Part 1 Episode Notes

OK so the thumbnail for this episode couldn't be more spot on.

San Francisco, by way of Shreveport - Kaylah is the dazzling light of the left with a smile to match 😊

I still don't know how she does it all, even though she literally explains how in part 2 haha

Part 2 Episode Notes

Umm, what don't we cover in part 2?

Of particular interest is the background info on how she became Chesa Boudin's campaign manager (he ran and won to become SF's "decarceral District Attorney"). I had no idea there were so many horrifying policies on the books that Chesa was seeking to overturn with his run! Maybe it will give pause to some of the reactionary clowns trying to recall him. (It will not 🙄)

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:17  
Welcome to What's Left To Do. I'm your dazzling host, Janelle. This week we have our first Southern Belle. Our dazzling and darling Kaylah originally hails from Louisiana. But San Francisco has her firmly in its clutches and may never let go. Okay, we're about to get started. And I'm going to cut up real bad because this is the first black person I've been able to interview. How do I intro Kaylah? My sistah who helps us safely fly the friendly sky. De-Carceral campaign manager, shoutout to Chester. Kaylah Williams, say "what's up" to the people, Kaylah.

Kaylah  1:07  
Hey y'all. My name is Kaylah Williams. I am so happy to be here. I am honored to be in your room, seriously. With, I mean, the best podcaster. The best volunteer for Bernie Sanders' campaign. Yeah, this is a match made in heaven-

Janelle Jolley  1:34  
Kaylah is like guest number two. Brandon, I just interviewed two days ago. Even though this is our first time meeting in person, it feels like I already know her because we've been down since the summer for all sorts of random political nonsense and things. But you know, now she's here in person and I've long since decided we're friends, so-

Kaylah  1:56  
Oh yeah, absolutely. Best friends.

Janelle Jolley  1:58  
That's right! It's good to finally meet you in person!

Kaylah  2:04  
It's crazy because I remember the first time when I called you I was like, "Oh my god, I love you. Hello." I found myself just totally being- you know, the cover when you're like, "Oh hello, this is a political phone call." And it totally dissapted immediately.

Janelle Jolley  2:19  
That's right. Probably because I cursed within the first 2 seconds of talking.

Kaylah  2:23  
That's when I knew I was with a friend, immediately.

Janelle Jolley  2:24  
That's right. I'm like, "I don't know what these hoes talkin' 'bout but we gon' figure it out and, goddamn, you tell me... you want me to be mad at, who I need to cuss at and we gonna do it."

Kaylah  2:34  
It was perfect. It was honestly. Yeah, no, I was like, "Oh my god, can we be friends forever?"

Janelle Jolley  2:42  
Well, fiance is here today girl, she just got a ring put on it. So I may or may not refer to her as such during this interview. But I so I made Kaylah's acquaintance over the summer around, I guess was in advance of the convention when we were voting on delegates and what have you. And I didn't, I don't think I ever met you. I know I did not because I would obviously remember you. But I know I didn't meet you during the campaign, but I met you over the summer. Because in the run up to the convention, and I was just, first of all, like, Oh, another black girl who we have the same politics in San Francisco. And additionally, you are way more advanced than I am and more entrenched in the political community of San Francisco than I. So I was just like, "Oh, and she, you know, she's"- you're probably a little younger than me but- "she, you know, she's around my age and very involved in it. Like, how did this happen?" Because I don't know if it's a gross generalization- it might be a gross generalization- but you know, a lot of- there are not always a lot of people our age of any stripe, race, class, creed, whatever, super involved. So it's just like, "Oh, I wonder how this happened?" And I know a little bit, I got to know a little bit more about you since then, but I am super amped and excited to hear your story because I'm sure that it's going to be what the kids call a banger.

Kaylah  4:14  
Oh yeah, I think so too.

Janelle Jolley  4:18  
So tell me about where I- cuz you're not- I don't- you're not from California, are you?

Kaylah  4:21  
No, so I am from Louisiana originally. From Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport call it Rachet City! It's true it is called Ratchet City. It's ratchet. I love- I have so much love for Shreveport. I never want to move back but I do have a lot of love for it.

Janelle Jolley  4:41  
I love where I'm from. I never want to move back. But I love where I'm from.

Kaylah  4:45  
The best part about growing up in Shreveport was I had a lot of- I went to a lot of really great public schools. I had a really good home life. I'm super glad and super thankful for my parents. They- my mom is very free spirited, that's where I get it from. And my dad is really political. And you know, he's Mr. All For Good Politics, All For Good Labor Relations, and so they spit out me, which I think is a good 50/50 of them.

Yeah, I was the oldest of three and I have two younger brothers. And so growing up, you know, just pretty normal standard life growing up.

Janelle Jolley  5:27  
What did- what made your mom, do you think, so free spirited and your dad so political and focused on labor? Do you think?

Kaylah  5:33  
My mom being free spirited, I really think it's because she's also the oldest. And my grandpa spoils my mom, which is really sweet. And you know, he always let her, you know, have her creative outlets. At one point, wanted to start her own business at one point wanted to, you know, she's actually I think now is planning- she actually has created a film, or tries to do filmmaking, and she was a writer. Like all of these different endeavors. She just- my grandparents just really supported her. And so that's something that, you know, she passed on to me and my brothers. And my dad is from South Central LA, originally. And so his mom is from Louisiana, and his dad is from LA. So he would go back and forth between LA and southern Louisiana. He grew up like, you know, let me see the best way I can put it-

Janelle Jolley  6:27  
Describe the way he grew up.

Kaylah  6:28  
Yeah, so my grandfather was as, he would say, a rolling stone.

Janelle Jolley  6:32  
Listen. Who grandad wasn't a rollin' stone, honey? Yes I know exactly what you're- uh-huh.

Kaylah  6:36  
Yeah. And so it left my grandma and my dad and his younger brother, the three of them, South Central LA, like really growing up, super hard life. Trying to survive. Yeah. And it's- so he went through so much of that, and he, you know, became man of the family for a lot of ways. My grandmother has a lot of mental health issues as well. And so he had to grow up real fast. And so something that I really appreciate is that, you know, from that he grew- he learned- like, he's always helped me- the whole, "by your own bootstraps," he's always thought that was such bullshit. Like, he hates that. Because it's like-

Janelle Jolley  7:13  
Because it is bullshit! Especially bullshit for a black man from that era.

Kaylah  7:17  
Exactly. And so he's someone who, you know, has instilled that in me a lot of ways. And I think that's really where he grew in his, like, political beliefs. And, you know, as I got older, I mean, I'm still a daddy's girl, 100%. But I think back to times when I was growing up, some of my favorite memories would be waking up in the morning and Dad would, as we're getting ready for school, Dad would have CNN or something on, like the TV on the living room, and he'd be yelling at CNN, and then we'd hop into the car and he'd have on conservative radio station news and yelling at the radio station. And I'll be like, Dad,  well, first of all, of course he's yelling a lot more at the conservative radio, but I was like, "Dad, why do you listen to this? You know, you can just turn on, you know, NPR and, it's fine. And also, you know, you don't have to be this angry about all this stuff." And he's like, "You got to hear both sides. And so if you want to win an argument, you want to know what they're fighting for. So you can you know, do a good counter." And I was like, "Damn, Dad, okay. Also, slow down because your kids are in the car." A little road rage would come out. But yeah, but I mean, that's been like, I've really- he's always fostered that and allowed me to have my own opinions, challenge him on those opinions. You know, some things he was a little bit harder to come around to.

Janelle Jolley  8:45  

Kaylah  8:45  
Gay marriage. Took a little while. He's there now. I think he's good. I think I had to be like, "Dad, that is homophobic." "I'm not a homophobe!" I'm like, "Okay, good. Just making sure, just testing the waters."

Janelle Jolley  8:56  
Let's work on those...let's work on that view.

Kaylah  8:59  
Yeah. But it's been really cool and I just I'm really forever grateful for my parents.

Janelle Jolley  9:08  
How would you describe- you said you had a pretty normal childhood but- how would you describe it? And how did you think about growing- like did you- when you were little did you think that everybody grew up more or less like you, or did you have a sense of like, we're kind of here on the spectrum of families or whatever? Yeah, actually,

Kaylah  9:29  
Yeah, actually, that's a really good question because I think it was this really weird realization of cuz I went to predominantly white schools. I was always one of-

Janelle Jolley  9:37  
Even in Shreveport?

Kaylah  9:38  
Yeah girl! And that's the thing about Shreveport that's so crazy is like, it is a 50% or 51% black, but I went to the best quote unquote- I'm doing air quotes but you guys can't tell that there's air quotes there- the best public schools in Shreveport, which are magnet programs and stuff. And when I went to those schools, it was predominately white. And it was one of those things that was always weird and so, number one, it was predominately white. Number two, the kid the other black kids that were in those schools were, middle to upper middle class black families, like ourselves. And it really didn't fully dawn on me how not just race but class differences there are between between other students that I'm going to school with, it really didn't fully hit until high school whenever there were a bit more black folks who were from different economic backgrounds that I was hanging out with and I was like, "Oh, yeah, just because I'm black, and you're black, like, we have different experiences." And it was kind of a weird realization and feeling kind of almost like- it made me feel a little alienated because, you know, I was like, "Hi, I'm Kaylah." But it was just weird. Like, it was a bubble that was kind of cracked a little bit. I don't know if that's making-

No, I understand what you're saying. But help me paint a picture like, what was your conception of what it meant to be black, or your kind of black, before that that bubble was burst in high school? Like what was that like?

I mean, I think for me, it was, I mean, I almost feel, not ashamed to say it, but kind of a-

Janelle Jolley  11:24  
No, you can be yourself, yeah.  

Kaylah  11:25  
Yeah, being fully honest, it was a process of not feeling attached to my blackness in a way of being like, "Oh, I just have a different color but we're all the same." It was almost this kind of very neoliberal, "I don't see color."

Janelle Jolley  11:41  
Pre-high school?

Kaylah  11:41  
Pre-high school, yeah. And it was kind of like, "Oh, we all get along just my hair's a little bit different." It really was kind of this weird, like, oh, we just we just have, you know-

Janelle Jolley  11:53  
Okay, so let me park right there. And this is not- I'm obviously I'm not attacking you, I'm just trying to understand. Did you have that understanding of kind of like being colorblind, for lack of a better term, pre-high school because of the composition of the children you went to school with? Like, did you have, you know- you know how it is, like, black people are basically- we're not the same everywhere, but we do many of the similar things. But I'm saying, were you in like, Jack and Jill, did you go to a black church? Like was there...what was your social life, your black social life like, outside of school?

Kaylah  12:29  
Black social life? I mean, it really wasn't a lot of it, I mean, it was just church. It was- that was the only- it was church, and then my church was- it was a lot of extended family, or people who I genuinely viewed, you couldn't tell me that, like Aunt Glora Mae was not my aunty because it was as if she really was my family. And so in a weird way, I mean if, as I'm even saying it now, it's kind of this realization of like, I just viewed that as  black folks a family and then that separate from the kids I hang out with.

Janelle Jolley  12:56  
I see.

Kaylah  12:59  
It was really kind of strange. I think also, when I think about it, too, is part of that is in high school I actually had black friends.

Janelle Jolley  13:05  
That were not the same ones that you went to school with prior to high school.

Kaylah  13:10  

Janelle Jolley  13:10  
So was it that it was a wider swath of-  there were more-

Kaylah  13:16  
Like, more different, types of black folks?

Janelle Jolley  13:17  
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say.  

Kaylah  13:18  
Yeah, no, exactly. I think that was kind of- it was really, really good. Because I was like, "Oh, yeah!" For me, it was kind of this chance to see all of myself. And see the beauty of what it means to be black. See the beauty of what it means to have black friends and how that changes my perspective on a lot of things in the world. And it was, yeah, it was cool.

Janelle Jolley  13:43  
I see. Did you, would you say- and I'm not asking this to push on your buttons, I'm asking you becasue I understand this from my own life growing up black in a different place than Louisiana- but did you knowingly or unknowingly, harbor or hold working class black antagonisms, prior to maybe being introduced to that wider swath of black people in high school?

Kaylah  14:16  
I mean, I think that a lot of that was, is- I think it was a part of that similar like, nobody could say it, like an unconscious bias. I think a lot of that because I've always- I mean, even growing up it was like a lot of kind of unpacking of this and, as I'm like, "Go to therapy," and stuff, unpacking a lot of it is, viewing myself and viewing my family as if we're the Huxtables. Which is like, I mean- also, Bill Cosby, gross. Yeah, but also, you know, unpacking how unhealthy that was to view myself as like, "I'm black but I'm not that kind of black." And how that was super distancing. And, I don't know, it's something that even I think for myself. Like, as I go on- not anytime soon- but whenever I possibly have children in the very distant future how I don't want them to have to negotiate that. Yeah, and how we can, you know, just incorporate- like, I wish my parents would have, I could have had, you know, a couple more black folks-

Janelle Jolley  14:58  
Why do you think that they did- and this is not speaking against your parents and this is not asking you to speak on their behalf- but if you had to guess, why do you think you didn't have that exposure or that incorporation prior to high school?

Kaylah  15:38  
Well, I mean, I think I- one one thing that I could point to it as a comparison is that my brothers had a very different education background, education pathway.

Janelle Jolley  15:48  
What do you mean?

Kaylah  15:49  
So, I went to South Highland Elementary, which is, you know, the best magnet school wherever. And then Cameron, my middle brother- love Cameron- he went there. And Cameron, he's a chill kid now, but when he was younger, they called him Tasmanian devil. So, when he got to South Highland, the teachers- funny how this happens- little white kid, little white boy is rambunctious in school, little black kid is destructive. And so he- they want to different, like- they tried to go through South Highlands, there were a lot of issues with really racist, really bias teachers. And so they transferred to other schools until I think that my parents wanted- which, I appreciate the way that we all had different pathways, which kind of-

Janelle Jolley  16:41  
Because you have different needs.

Kaylah  16:42  
Yeah, we had different needs. And I think that, for my parents, they realized that I just really needed structure of a really rigorous edu- like, I was a gifted APA kid, you know, AP kid, whatever. But I think it was something that they had to find that balance of giving me the challenge I needed in school, while also trying to find ways to make sure I feel still culturally connected to my blackness, which is hard to find. But I wonder, if that's why they, you know, allowed me- or not allowed me- but kept pushing me towards this political world that I wanted to go into. Like, maybe not consciously. But, who knows?

Janelle Jolley  16:44  
I see. So do you think your- what do you think your brothers' experienced growing up, in terms of their social context for blackness was- like, how do you think theirs maybe was different than your-

Kaylah  17:34  
Yeah, I mean, I think- I might honestly, when I talk about them, I might get a little emothional because I love them a lot. And I- it really hurts me when I think about what they went through. Bear in mind, these are grown men. So they're not children now, but, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  17:49  
No, but still, you remember that time and you know what it means for someone to be not treated fairly or, even at that time, you know, what it means for someone to not be treated fairly and for the injustice behind it, and the pain. So, of course. Don't apologize.

Kaylah  18:03  
Thank you. Yeah, I mean, I think that it's different for Cameron and Colby. So, I think Cameron found a lot of his- like, a lot of who he is through religion in a lot of ways because both Cameron and Colby ended up at Evangel, a private Christian university, school, academy, whatever. And I think that he found a lot of solace in that. And I think that's something that really gives him the strength to, you know, he- a lot of his other friends were other black kids who went to Evangel who were really involved in doing after school church activities. Can't relate, but I still love them.

Janelle Jolley  18:03  
Do you think that he found solace in that because there were a mass, if you will, of black children there, so that he was not singled out and maligned? Do you understand what I'm saying?

Kaylah  18:54  
Oh, absolutely. I think so, for sure. And I think that, I mean, in the same way that he was unable to to be picked out. Yeah. Colby, my youngest brother went towards football and he was Mr. Football, Mr. Sports. And in that way he was, you know, like, he was the cool kid, which I, again, can't relate. And growing up he was always you know, in the cool crowd of like- it was pretty diverse of black and white kids who were big football stars at Evangel. And I think that was where he found his niche and felt like he could be accepted-

Janelle Jolley  19:34  
Were they both tar- was your youngest brother- was he unfairly targeted and treated similar to your middle brother? Or was it for different reasons in different ways? And, what do you- is there one memory that stands out of just, the fucked up nature of it? Unless you feel uncomfortable saying-

Kaylah  19:53  
I'm trying to think. I know for sure Miss Cunningham- I hope that you are listening, girl. Fuck you, girl, you did my little brother wrong. That was with Cameron, particular. With Colby. I don't think it was- I think that my parents just wanted wherever Cameron transferred to, to a place that have his brother there with him. So I don't- I think they were just trying to put them as, like, lump sums.

Janelle Jolley  20:17  
Yeah, yeah, they didn't want to separate them.

Kaylah  20:19  
Mm-hmm. Especially after everything Cam had already gone through.

Janelle Jolley  20:22  
Sure. So he was just relentlessly singled out. And like, needled?

Kaylah  20:30  
That's exactly it. And it was kind of like, my mom would have to go up to the school and be like-  

Janelle Jolley  20:39  
All the time. And advocate for her child.

Kaylah  20:40  
Exactly. And it's like, I appreciate her so much for doing that, because she did it for me as well. There were a couple teachers who, you know, tried it. But she nipped that in the bud real fast.  But you know, my mom, she couldn't keep doing that constantly. It just became, like, an extra job.

Janelle Jolley  20:58  
Yeah, it'll wear you down. I see.

Kaylah  21:01  
It was really rough.

Janelle Jolley  21:02  
But they went on to- did they go on- did your brothers go on to be nurtured in that private Christian school environment like in a way that was, not- I don't know if restorative is the right word- but like that, you know, helped heal them? You understand what I'm saying?

Kaylah  21:18  
Yeah! I think a lot of like- I think it was really helpful for Cameron. For Colby, it was just about the football that was really helpful for him. I think that's what really got him to grow. Because Cameron went on and now- brag on my brothers again- Cameron is now a civil engineer? Mechanical engineer? He's an engineer. And Colby is trying to be a pilot and he's nearly got his full commercial pilot's license. So yeah, they're like- I think that what it- I don't know, I would love to really actually ask them and dig deep about it, is like, what do they think they got from those school experiences? Because all three of us had such very different experiences, but also, I think it was what we each individually needed.

Janelle Jolley  22:10  
How did you, you being the the oldest and a girl, which meant you matured more quickly than they, how did you situate and contextualize what they were going through? Like, as a child? How do you think you understood that?

Kaylah  22:25  
For me, I was just- I didn't really- I don't think I had, again, fully understood how much racial bias comes into it. I think for a while I just thought, well, "Cameron and Coby are just very, they're really high energy and that's just what they just need to like, not drink the chocolate milk." That was a whole thing in the Williams family. Like if we got- if Cameron or Colby came back with a little note saying that they're bad in class. It's like, "Did you have chocolate milk for lunch?" Because it has extra sugar in it, or whatever. But, you know, and I think as I got older, it was kind of realization of like, "Oh, no, this is just fucked up." Like, that's just what, you know, they aren't doing anything wrong- more bad than what I see kids in my class doing. And he's still getting consistently sent home with, you know, has to go to in-class suspension has to do after school suspension. Like for stuff that seems so minor when I thought through it. I was like, "Wait, that seems crazy."

Janelle Jolley  23:24  
Yeah, that's right. I see what you're saying. So how did your understanding of yourself, your community, you being black, how did that- how and in what ways did that shift in high school? And what are some of the memories around that?

Kaylah  23:42  
I think there's a couple of things that I think about in high school that kind of made me change that perspective. Number one, having black friends. That was really great.

Janelle Jolley  23:53  
Was high school the first time you had more than one Black school friend.

Kaylah  23:58  
Oh yeah. I mean, Amy Gandy I love you from elementary and middle school, but she went to a different high school than me.

Janelle Jolley  24:04  
Sure, sure. You had to find some new friends.

Kaylah  24:06  
Yeah, I had to find new friends. It was hard. And I made my friends through choir and through theater class. And that also kind of went hand in hand of getting better, with speaking my mind, and, you know, being okay with kind of being a little more loud and being more ridiculous, of my theater friends. Yeah, I think that was, I think one of those moments- it was in doing that I felt more confident and knowing that I don't have to just be someone's one black friend, you know what I mean? And I could feel confident in wearing my hair more natural feeling more comfortable with all these different things that felt like I had to take a super distance stance from. Like, I've wanted to be accepted from, I don't know, other high schoolers and kind of, it helped me feel more comfortable and expressing myself that way. That make sense?

Janelle Jolley  25:02  
C'mon, yes, of course it makes sense. No, I completely understand what you're- did you ever go through a- again, I'm asking because of my own bullshit- did you ever go through a problematic period that your parents had to like, check? Let me give you an example. For a minute I was- for a long time growing up- I was a little color struck and I swore that I could not wear light colors cuz I was, quote, too dark. This is me saying this this, not anyone else. And one of one of my lighter black friends like, "What are you- what the fuck are you-" because there was this pink dress, or whatever, and I was like, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't wear this because I'm too dark." She's like, "What are you talking about?" And I was just like, "Ahh, I can't wear it." You know what I mean? Like, that type of shit? Did you go through like a....some li'l different, you gonna have to nip that in the bud, ma'am. Did you ever, like-

Kaylah  26:04  
I think a lot of that was, I think, in particular- oof, oof- middle school, baby, that was rough!

Janelle Jolley  26:10  
Uh-huh, that's when things get tricky.

Kaylah  26:12  
Because I think it was- middle school was before I really understood what it really meant to be black and I was- in high school I was still figuring it out of course, still too. But, also, middle school was when like- oh, it's also puberty and wanting- and that was like, I was in middle school in the age of the low rise pant. You know what I mean? And I was always a little bit, you know, more curvy, we'll say.

Janelle Jolley  26:35  
She was a little dance too much booty and the pants, so we can't always...

Kaylah  26:41  
And big booties were not a thing, big boobies were not a thing. It was the age of razor thin girls. And so I just- on top of that already, having a black body and black skin? Right? It was that moment of like, "Oh, I'm not pretty." And, you know, even to this day, still unpacking some of those bad thoughts. They still in there. They haunt my dreams. Therapy helps guys and medication.

Janelle Jolley  26:41  
And just being around...booty black people.

Kaylah  27:15  
Yeah, it helps so much! It really does. And that was, I think, probably the really- the heavy of it is when I just was like, ah-

Janelle Jolley  27:32  
Did you go through like a- was it a  combination of like, I already stand out but now, you know, because things are blooming- I hate those terms, but you know what I'm trying to say- like, I look much less like a child than the other people around me and that makes me even more hyper visible. And that's uncomfortable.

Kaylah  28:01  
Oh my god. Okay, I have a story. The moment you said that was immediately- I- oof. Okay, so I haven't told my- haven't even told my dad this story- but it was back whenever he was working for the TV station or whatever. And I was so proud of my dad because he does all the tech stuff at the TV station. And I went to the bathroom and they had, you know, the actual news anchors were there and because it was separate bathrooms, but a shared vanity spot for folks. And I was coming out in the vanities about washing my hands one of the actual male anchors was there and he was like, "Oh, hello, you must be Anthony's daughter" because I look just like my dad. And I was in middle school, like I couldn't have been more than middle school. And he just like- I just remember seeing his eyes. Like, this old white dude, his eyes just dart down to my boobs and back. And I was like, "Uhhh"-

Janelle Jolley  28:56  
Yeah, "I gotta go." Yeah, it's gross.

Kaylah  28:58  
It's so gross. And there's been so many moments because, yeah, I got boobs real fast.

Janelle Jolley  29:05  
Stop showing off, Kaylah. Some of us still are waiting for our boobs to come in.

Kaylah  29:10  
Would you like some? I would be glad to get rd of them. They are cumbersome.

Janelle Jolley  29:15  
Showing off your big breast privilege, you jerk.

Kaylah  29:19  
Big breast privilege. They give me back pain, makes bra shopping awful, you can have them! No, bro. It is weird. And, actually I can- I was talking to- this a couple years back- a friend of mine, Ritu, who I adore. She brought up this really good point about how, in particular I think for us we because we were college friends, but she mentioned this post college but, you know, back in college there was this whole thing about being sexually liberated, reclaiming, you know, having sex.

Janelle Jolley  30:05  
That doesn't apply to everybody. And they don't get it.

Kaylah  30:07  
It doesn't! And I think, in particular, for women of color.

Janelle Jolley  30:09  
That's correct. They don't understand that.

Kaylah  30:11  
Because I think that is something that is I think, for white women, it feels more like, "Yes! I'm reclaiming my body, I'm having sex because I want to have sex." But I think for a lot of women of color who have had sexuality thrust on them-

Janelle Jolley  30:24  
Hello, whether or not you- right.

Kaylah  30:26  
Whether, you know, you want it or not. I think the option of saying no, is actually more sexually liberating. Because you'd be like, "No, I'm choosing celibacy," or saying "no" outright more often , it act-

Janelle Jolley  30:39  
Or cover up, or any of those things.

Kaylah  30:40  
Or covering up, yeah. I think that's something actually really beautiful and something that really should be celebrated.

Janelle Jolley  30:44  
That gets lost in the discourse. Because there's just this blanket assumption. But- and we forget that none of these assumptions or ideas or approaches to, to whatever, are neutral. Like they're very much dependent upon your social, cultural, location. And for-I'm not gonna speak for all women, I'm gonna speak for black women in particular, like, your heart, you know, I mean, not to- I'm kind of exaggerating but I'm kind of not- like, people been trying to fuck you since you were 12. You know what I mean? And so it's like, this is not new, you know, someone someone trying to get in your pants or, you know, sexualize you or whatever. It's like, that's not new and if you are just coming into your- an understanding of your body, which is not complete at 12 at all. Like, I'm, you know, I'm 34 and I'm still- you know what I mean? Like that's actually jarring, a little scary. And then you compound that was the, depending on what your body is, the shame that you're kind of socialized into for having-

Kaylah  31:05  
For even having a body that is in any way sexual.

Janelle Jolley  31:59  
Yeah, that's right. That's too much. So don't tell me that- don't assume that, you know, I too, want to reclaim the word slut. I'm not saying I don't. You know what I mean? Like, it's not the same. You gotta be aware of that.

Kaylah  32:15  
That is 100% accurate. And that was something because I didn't, like it hit me as like, "Oh, damn that. Yeah, that is- that really feels super real." That feels viscerally connected with me. It's like, "Thanks Ritu." Yeah, I will say in middle school and high school in particular, I don't really remember my elementary school teachers as well. But for sure, in high school and middle school, I had a lot of really cool progressive, probably more lib, but definitely good progressive, kind progressive-y lib teachers who thought it was- who made it really important to teach all the students about you know, equality. And, you know, maybe maybe we shouldn't go to war for dumb reasons. And sometimes the government lies to you. But you still should vote. That was kind of a lot of the foundation to my school. For my parents, my mom was- she's a little, like- also, my mom and dad, both pretty progressive, my mom, a little bit more conservative in some ways. Just because, I think, just from growing up in a more, kind of, upper middle class lifestyle in Shreveport. And my dad he, I think, I mean, he nearly converted to being a black Islam. And so I think he has a lot of radical roots. And as he's gotten older, mellowed out a little bit. He still doesn't eat bacon, though. He's like, "I wouldn't eat of the pig." And I was like, "Okay, Dad."

Janelle Jolley  33:46  
In Louisiana?

Kaylah  33:47  
In Louisiana! Yeah, I mean, sometimes I do catch him eating bacon. I'm like, "Hmm, okay. I see the swine in your mouth, Dad." And he's like, "It's just a little swine."

Janelle Jolley  33:55  
You ain't got to lie to kick it, shit! It's all good.

Kaylah  34:00  
But it's- I think he had a lot more radical roots and kind of mellowed out some, but I think a lot of it is the intention of it is still there in his hear. Especially once you get him talking about stuff and, I mean, some experiences he's had in Shreve-like, oof. I- that's a whole- I'll get into that later. But the time he got pulled over and had a fucking gun- sorry, if I'm gonna swear it's okay?

Janelle Jolley  34:00  
Of course you can fucking swear.

Kaylah  34:04  
He got pulled over and he had a fucking gun pulled out on him. And-

Janelle Jolley  34:32  
While you were growing up or before you were born?

Kaylah  34:33  
While we were growing up. I was in high school, and I didn't even know the full story of what happened until my dad came visit- because this is back when I was working for Chesa. Like there was a Angela Davis event and it was really cool and I was super excited. I was like Angela Davis, "Here's my dad." And afterwards he just, you know, we just got to talking, we had a beer and he talked about that experience when he went to jail. And I only knew that he got pulled over and it was a mistaken another Anthony Williams, no middle name. And even though that other Anthony Williams had a totally different description, different complexion, plus had a gigantic stomach tattoo that he could have easily- they could have verified. But they just wanted to pull him up on some bullshit and pulled out a gun on him-

Janelle Jolley  35:26  
Fuck the cops.

Kaylah  35:26  
Yeah, absolutely. Abso-fucking-lutely. I mean, and it was one of those things where my dad knew- he could feel something was weird so he called my mom and had her on speakerphone.

Janelle Jolley  35:36  
Goddamn, I hate that. I-I hate that that is- anyway.

Kaylah  35:42  
And that exactly it. Like, that's the instinct that we have to have. It's fucked up that we have to live the world like that. And I didn't even know the full extent of the story. I just knew that dad got pulled over and was going to jail for something that was not that- for another Anthony Williams. And even then I was like-

Janelle Jolley  35:58  
And got a gun pulled on him. And that's completely unnecessary. I didn't even know

Kaylah  36:00  
I didn't even know the gun part until until he came to Shreveport- came to San Francisco to tell me it. And I was like, "What?"

Janelle Jolley  36:06  
Right, what the fuck?

Kaylah  36:06  
What is this world? What do we fucking live in? And I can totally understand why he was so fucking radical back in the day. Because he, I mean, he lived that. Like he lived through a lot of that in the 70s, 80s, and 90s in South Central LA. Hell yeah, he saw a lot. And to still come out of it and to be the best man that he is? Like, he is just a- he is Superman. You can't tell me my dad is not Superman, because he fucking is. He's perfect. A little goofy. Yeah, that, I think, is my influence of my dad's politics. And at school, the students? It's a mixed bag. I remember there would be some kids who would say some really off color, kind of like, low key/ high key racist shit as children. And I try to forgive them as an adult, but I'm like, "Fuck that kid." But they were also- I mean, this kind of, I think- it was mostly- a lot of what I grew up in was apolitical to conservative children. Which is really weird. Until high school where all the kids were kind of like, liberal artsy kind of kids, so it was a bit more a bit more cool.

Janelle Jolley  36:11  
Okay, okay. So when did- did you go to school? Did you go to college?

Kaylah  37:23  
Yeah, mm-hmm.

Janelle Jolley  37:30  
Where did you end up going?

Kaylah  37:35  
LSU, go Tigers! Yeah, I knew pretty early I wanted to study anthropology. Because my mom was like, "What do you want to do?" And I was like, "I don't know, I like cultures and people." And so she was like, "Okay, well, if that's something you like, here are some options." And I just knew by about 16 or 17. I was like, "I want to study anthropology." I was like-

Janelle Jolley  37:58  
What did you- did you have an idea of what you wanted to, quote, be?

Kaylah  38:03  
Not at all.

Janelle Jolley  38:04  
You just knew what you wanted to study.

Kaylah  38:07  
I just knew that I wanted to study something that had to do with people. I really love- I've always loved people. And people are annoying and wonderful. Like, it's just this- humanity just has always been something that I just I love and hate at the same time and I wanted to learn about it. And anthropology is cool, because it mixed a part of history and you can add scientific, kind of, biological anthropology. It has a lot of different kind of venues you can go into. And so I kind of wanted to focus on cultural anthropology, no clue what to do after I graduate. And, fun fact, I didn't know what I wanted to do when I had the degree in my hand. And I didn't wanna spend a lot of money for school, because we-

Janelle Jolley  38:51  
Because, no.

Kaylah  38:52  
No one wants to- we should not have to pay for university. Just putting it out there. I'm sure the listeners all agree. But yeah, and so I chose LSU because it was in state and was really cheap- not cheap. It was only a five hour drive from my family. Close enough, but far enough and it was good.

Janelle Jolley  39:10  
Did your parents pay for school? Were they able to or-

Kaylah  39:13  
Did they what, sorry?

Janelle Jolley  39:14  
Did they pay for school?

Kaylah  39:15  
Yeah, they helped me pay for school. And it was kind of- I mean, one thing that is kind of crazy is, so my parents and my grandparents and a lot of my aunts and uncles, they all went to Grambling.

Janelle Jolley  39:26  
Are those tigers or bears?

Kaylah  39:28  
Those are tigers, too. They told me the wrong tiger. It's like, "Oh, a tiger. The wrong tiger." But because they went to Grambling, they wanted me to go there, and I was like, "I love Gram. I love their football, but they don't have anthropology." And when I said I wanted to go to LSU my grandma was like, "Are you sure?" And I didn't really understand why until we went home and I asked my mom. I was like, "Why did Franny get so weird about LSU?" And it didn't hit me. And she's like, "Yeah, Kaylah, Franny remembers when LSU was segregated. It was not that long ago." And I was like, "Oh, yeah."

Janelle Jolley  40:07  
Oh, that's right. That part.

Kaylah  40:10  
Yeah, I get that now. But I'm really glad I went to LSU. It was a gigantic school and it has its problems but I was able to kind of really, once again, find a good niche of, like- had some theater friends, had some LSU political friends, and French minor cool kids, It was kind of a good space for me to kind of grow in my different after class activities, or whatever.

Janelle Jolley  40:44  
What was college like for you? Like was college when you- when you said a couple of minutes ago, you got there for a second. Was college when you got a little wild? Did you get wild in college? Did you- were you kind of just the same? Did you start living a life that your parents were not very aware of? What was-

Kaylah  41:02  
Oh yeah, there was a whole- I think college was a really good chance for me to explore all the sides of Kaylah that I did not get a chance to explore in high school for, good and bad. So yeah, I definitely- because I've never- before college, I'd only kissed one boy. I was pretty sheltered in terms of interactions with other people. College is when I realized like, "Oh, hey, oops I'm bi." Didn't know that!

Janelle Jolley  41:32  
So you came into the understanding at college?

Kaylah  41:35  
Well, I think it was my first- like, I wasn't comfortable saying it out loud until I got to San Francisco.

Janelle Jolley  41:40  
Oh, I see. Right. Because this is the most-

Kaylah  41:42  
This is the best place to come out. Yeah, that's right.

Janelle Jolley  41:44  
Yeah, that's right. So you weren't out in college, but you were more aware of that for yourself?

Kaylah  41:49  
Yeah. I mean, I was like- I would go out and I'm like, "Man, I really want to make out and go on a date with this really cute girl. I don't understand it. I guess I'm straight." Stupid. So stupid. I was like- cuz, I just couldn't. I was like, "I guess I"- I mean, I couldn't. I couldn't say it for myself. Like, "I have gay friends. I can't be gay. No."

Janelle Jolley  42:13  
Oh, you- so you're saying you still- wait, wait, wait, wait. Cuz now I'm confused. You're saying you were in college and you would be- like, okay, you'd only kissed one boy before going to college. And now maybe you're kissing many boys. But you'd be out in social situations, which is like, "Oh, I want to kiss that girl but I'm straight." Like, that's the thought process?

Kaylah  42:34  
Yeah, the tought process. I mean, then I also would kiss the girl, too. And then that part happened. And then I'd be like, "Let's go get breakfast together." Or, you know, I don't know, we go hang out and, I mean, hook up. And so I just didn't- I didn't get the fact that that means that I'm not just straight.

Janelle Jolley  42:50  
I see.

Kaylah  42:51  
Because it was this weird mental block of being like, "Oh, I can accept a lot of parts of me but I can't accept the fact that I am bi." And so it was this weird kind of a barrier. That I just didn't allow myself. And it's like-

Janelle Jolley  43:04  
But did you- were you- did you allow your close friends to know? Or you were still working on it within yourself, so it was like-

Kaylah  43:11  
Only within myself. I mean, my close friends knew that I would make out with the girl at a party. They're like, "It's just Kaylah." And I think it was this thing of like, "Oh, I just sometimes get a little crazy." No, that's just who you are. You're just letting that guard down. And it's just, it's still there. It's like, the feelings are still there when you don't drink, you just act on them when you're drunk. And that's not healthy. But we got past that. Again, therapy. But yeah, that was a part of my awakening of cool things that I'm realizing about myself in college. And also just kind of, I mean, I hate to say my bleeding heart because that sounds silly, but finding out I really am passionate about people, passionate about protecting folks that are in dire straits and things that- people who- I mean, I guess when I think about being in Baton Rouge another thing that's really fucked up about Baton Rouge, similar to Shreveport, another city that's a large black population, but is incredibly stratus- like, there's a huge divide between East Baton Rouge and the rest of Baton Rouge. And you see the difference because the other- the west side of Baton Rouge has, you know, LSU, beautiful parks, greenery, all these really beautiful things. And then you get into East Baton Rouge and it's where all the black folks are and there's no infrastructure, there's nothing there. There's all these different things that are like- it just- I guess it's the same thing that I had in Shreveport but I think taking that and putting it in a different city and being a little bit older really made me be like, "Wow. That's fucked up and I want to change it." And and so it got me involved in the best way I could as a college student, which is through advocacy groups and through volunteering and trying my best to plug in and help in whatever way I could. But it is something that I think that kind of started the kind of like, "Oh, well shit is fucked up, we need to try to find a way to change it."

Janelle Jolley  44:01  
How did the stark divide come into view for you? If the school, I presume, is on the west side of the city, how did you even become aware that like, "Oh shit. Shit's real silky over here but it's ashy as fuck over there." Like, how did that even come into your-

Kaylah  45:25  
Well, I gotta get my hair done.

Janelle Jolley  45:36  
Listen! I should have guessed that. I should have guessed that. Okay.

Kaylah  45:41  
I mean, it was, you know, getting my hair done. Or, you know, I have some family in Baton, more like extended family in Baton Rouge. And so, visiting my family. And I'm- and it just is kind of like, "Oh. This don't feel right. This hit different." Like, it's not fair. And if I brought up to other friends, they're like, "Yeah, that's just Baton Rouge." And I was like, "But should it be?" And it's like, I realize, oh, that's what I would say about Shreveport. It's the same thing. It's like, oh, that's just injustice and after injustice that we become blind to.

Janelle Jolley  46:14  
What were some of the other things that defined your undergraduate experience?

Kaylah  46:17  
I did this in high school too, but I ran for student government and stuff. So that was really cool. So cool, and really lame. And I did another cool, really lame thing I was really happy about, actually, at LSU was I was an LSU Ambassador. They're just the people who do the campus tours and stuff. And we're always the face of LSU. So, it was just a lot of that kind of stuff, going out and kind of trying to find my space within that. I was actually, well what actually was the one thing that was really defining of college years was, I was a French minor. And so I did a year, my senior year, abroad in France. It was awesome. It was really cool. I think it was kind of- but it was really fun. It was it was my first time living on my own. I had my own apartment in the city center instead of being at the campus. And it was this kind of cool realization that like, "Oh, I can- if I wanted to go somewhere and be in a city where I knew absolutely no one. I could still hop into it and make friends." And, I mean, I just- it was this really cool, moment of challenging myself to see if I could do it. And I did it. I mean, I cried sometimes, like a lot of times, but I still stuck it out and-

Janelle Jolley  47:34  
Cry because you're freaked out being so far away from home...or what?

Kaylah  47:38  
It was being far from home, but also the fear. Like, I think it was my first time feeling really lonely lonely. And it was kind of this weird feeling of like, "Oh, it's okay to feel lonely. And it's gonna feel sad and scary. But I can make it out of it." You know?

Janelle Jolley  47:55  
I see, I see. How wild was the scene in France? Because they- okay, let's go ahead. Run it down. Run it down.

Kaylah  48:04  
Yes, yes, yes.

Janelle Jolley  48:04  
Because they're very into the brown.

Kaylah  48:07  
Oh yes. Absolutely. Um, i- whew...uh...yeah. Ooo, god.

Janelle Jolley  48:13  
I'm just like, "I've been in the house for a year so I would like to hear how other people used to live in the old world."

Kaylah  48:23  
Yeah, let me tell you. I mean, I will say, there's a little- I will say this though. It was a lot of fun. And a lot of great, great fun times in France. I will say also, you know, I'll just put a trigger warning. Ah, I was also- it was a- sexual assault happened in France. It was really unfortunate. Still, working through all that stuff. But, it's good. I mean, it was just one of those. It's not good. But it's like, that's one of the things where I think where, I had my fun and also kind of was like, "Hey, I am working through." I don't know, sorry. I don't even know what to say on that one. But, um, yeah, I mean, it was like. Well, I mean, it just was like, it happened within the first semester of me being abroad. And it was this thing of me being too drunk at a place and not having- like, a not being with a crew of people that I hang out with, you know what I mean? And just, you know, getting taken advantage of in that general way. And I think it's, even for myself, I don't think I fully even processed the fact that it was an assault. Because, you know, you're like, "Oh, I was just too drunk. Haha." But it's one of those things where it's like- I think it makes- it's more of the processing of it, the processing of what happened. Not as much in the moment when I was in France. But it was more of like, "Oh. Damn, that really did happen."

Janelle Jolley  50:00  
Sure. And it doesn't help that, I presume, it doesn't help that there's not really a language around it. Like, the language is emerging now, but there's not a language around those types of situations because I think for a long time, unfortunately, the perception- if someone were to be in an environment like that and recounted, it's just like- what people would immediately do is like, "Well, why are you drunk? Why did you-" So the only thing that the victim is leftover just- is questioning that, and not like, "Wait a minute, what if- I mean, what if I was shitty drunk on my goddamn ass? Or if I was unconscious? That doesn't make it right. That's still- I was still preyed upon." But you can't even get there, I presume you can't even get there, if the response to you articulating that is laser on you.

Kaylah  51:05  
Right. No, exactly. And that's the thing. And it actually has been kind of this like, okay, slightly off topic, but like, totally, it was such a good movie. It's kind of like, it's one of those things that was like, the allegory was pretty strong. Oh, gosh, what was the name of this movie? It was about this woman who- A Young and Promising Woman, or something? A Promising Young Woman. And it's about this woman who goes round and she is getting vengeance for her friend who committed suicide. And she pretends to be drunk, like, pretends to be on her knees wasted drunk and sees if a man will be a good guy and come and try to take her home. And every single time these guys pick her up and they try to, you know, be like, "Oh, yeah, I'm such a good guy. I'm helping you get home." And then, you know, tries to make her drink more or tries to, you know, do something with her. And then she snaps in is like, "Oh, no, um, no, I- so you were trying to put your fingers up my vagina? While I was passed out? Just so you know, that's what you did." And it was crazy thing to watch that movie. I watched actually a couple months ago. And I was like- it was triggering. But also so good because it's a revenge story that's like, ridiculously extreme. But also, sometimes you just need that to be like, "Yes!" You know, you don't take advantage of people when they're in that state. I will say, I'm really thankful for living in this time period, you know, to have the space to talk about it, and be honest about it. And also to have media to help us digest and understand what the hell is going on.

Janelle Jolley  52:44  
That's right. And situate it. I think that's a good point and I didn't think about that until you said it. But I think a positive out of, kind of, this idea of representation is that it does help people understand concretely certain kind of social phenomena that you might not grok as easily just by hearing someone's story, if that makes sense- you understand what I'm saying?

Kaylah  53:13  
100%, 100%. I think that's- I mean- I love seeing so many different, not just black movies, but also just a really good movie, that happens to be an all black cast, or like a really good movie that's about blacks lives or, you know, you can- we can have both. We don't have to choose one or the other, which is so cool. The cool thing about Us was, you had this black family and, you know, it, they were clearly culturally black and, you know, physically, you know, dark skinned black family. And the story- it was just a good horror story. And it was really well done. And it wasn't necessarily just a black film that has, you know, like, "Oh, we got to talk about slavery. How terrible it is." This is like, No, we can just have a really well done great movie that-

Janelle Jolley  54:12  
A modern black family.

Kaylah  54:13  
Yeah, exactly! And it's so cool to see both of those things- both of those, you know, types of films and types of media living in the same space.

Janelle Jolley  54:23  
Were you still in college when 2008 happened? Or were you in high school?

Kaylah  54:28  
I was in high school. And so I think one of the biggest like, the things that happened for us in 2008, it was a big move for our uncle and his kids to move in with us. They moved from LA to Shreveport.

Janelle Jolley  54:46  
Because they lost their home? Wow. Okay.

Kaylah  54:48  
And so it was kind of like- it was really hard because I know that my uncle really was going through it and, at the time, it was his three kids and then his new wife and her daughter. And they all moved in.

Janelle Jolley  55:04  
How long did they stay with you guys?

Kaylah  55:05  
It was about a year or so. And then we helped them get, not we, my parents helped them, you know, get set up with new jobs-

Janelle Jolley  55:13  
In Louisiana?

Kaylah  55:14  
Yeah, in Louisiana and a new house in Shreveport.

Janelle Jolley  55:17  
Wow. What did you understand? What didn't you understand? Like, what was your perception?

Kaylah  55:21  
I mean, I feel like a lot of what- I didn't fully grasp what was going on, I just knew like, "Oh, family's in need, so you help your family." But I didn't really grasp the fact that like, "Oh, this is something that was happening nationwide." And I'd hear about it in the news, but it just for some reason, I don't know why those two never really connected with me. And, I mean, I think for me, as well, a part of understanding my full blackness, understanding class issues even in some ways, like understanding that in high school, a lot of that came from also just talking, being more honest with my dad and him talking about the struggles that my uncle and his family have gone through and how it's, you know, this is something that is a systemic problem. And I always really appreciate my dad just extending out so much compassion to my uncle and to like, to everyone really, and just being like, he never ever made it be like, "Oh, well, this happened and it was their fault." It was like, no, this is what happens when you have- when you allow gigantic corporations to prey on people. And when you, you know, you make it so that it is absolutely unwinnable. And you are just constantly are, you know, told it's a rat race where you have to finish, but you have to finish in 30 seconds, but you start at five seconds left. You know, it's this kind of like, that- I mean, I appreciate my dad for having really honest conversations about that. And in a way that was also, you know, digestible for me.

Janelle Jolley  56:52  
Sure. It was accessible for you as a child. How did you get to the finish line of college?

Kaylah  56:57  
I find that I do a thing where I just take a bad moment sometimes and look at it in a book, then I close the book, and I lock the book up, and I put it all the way at the back of the library. You know what I mean? It's not healthy. Again, therapy helps. But I was able to, you know, I kind of- it was hard, I think for the little bit after that, in towards the end of the first semester was a little rough. But I think a lot of it was, it motivated me to stay because originally, I was only going to do one semester in France and I pushed it to a full year. So I am thankful that I stayed and I have, you know, put it in the back of the library for a little bit. But I made it through and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my time there and felt really, thankful for it. Yeah. Well, not for that, but thankful for the experience in France.

Janelle Jolley  57:50  
Sure. Post undergrad can be a motherfucker. So what was your situation?

Kaylah  57:56  
So, I graduated and I finished my- well I'll say I finished my year abroad and get all my classes in line and I had just one more class I had to take, which is like a summer capstone class for anthropology. And so I finished with my year abroad, I came back to Louisiana for the summer for my little summer capstone thing where it was archaeology so it was really cool. I got to dig around and bones and stuff.

Janelle Jolley  58:23  
In Louisiana?

Kaylah  58:25  
We we drove to- was it in Florida? I think it was in Florida, or somewhere. I don't know I forgot. All I know, it was actually really too hot to enjoy. There are these gross bugs called yellow flies, who- they look like giant bumblebees and they sting you and DEET doesn't work on them? Yeah, it's gross. It was terrible. But I finished all that and I was happy and I was like, "Cool, I finished up my classes." I couldn't graduate that summer because transcripts were taking a little while to get back from France. So I was done with classes but I was like, "Okay, cool. Let me start thinking what I want to do in the fall." Then it hit me, I was like, "Oh, boy, I don't know what I'm gonna do in the fall." And so I just stayed in Baton Rouge and I went back to my same waitressing job that I was doing. Shout out to Louie's Cafe. Yes, I was Louie's girl. It was just a waitress at that 24 hour diner off campus. And that's whenever my mom stepped in with being the wonderful mama that she is. And she's like, "Well, you know, anthropology you know, you don't know where you want to go. But maybe for the short term, you could be a flight attendant."

Janelle Jolley  59:42  
Thank you, Kaylah, for indulging my various black deep dives. Since you know how rare those can be out here. Oh, she was so patient with me during our interview. Okay, tune in tomorrow for part two when Kaylah begins to not only fly the friendly skies, but organize the unruly ground. Did you see what I did there? All right. See you tomorrow.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:19  
Welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Now, we're picking back up with Kaylah at the start of her career as a flight attendant. Now this part didn't make the edit, but y'all she first started off as a flight attendant for Spirit Airlines. No, ma'am! There was also a story about a wild passenger that didn't make the edit. I might throw that up on social. And I had no idea that flight attendants know who the air marshals are on their flights. Am I late? Am I the last one to know this? Anyway, back to Kaylah. You're starting your career as a flight attendant. You have some crazy experiences with some passengers. No, ma'am, I couldn't do it. When in all of this- you're in your early 20s- when during this time did you move to San Francisco, and why? Or did you move around a bit?

Kaylah  1:20  
I went through flight attendant training in February 2015. And, like, immediately, everyone in my training class, because it was at the very beginning of a big hiring process, they needed a lot of flight attendants in San Francisco. So they're like, "Cool, great, welcome. Um, you usually get to bid for which base you want to have your number one, two and three choice. But y'all don't get that, y'all going to San Francisco."

Janelle Jolley  1:46  
Oh, where would you have wanted to move?

Kaylah  1:48  
What's so crazy is, I thought that I would want to be Newark based. I thought that I want to be in New York City. I thought I want to be on the East Coast that you couldn't tell me- I was like, "Oh, San Francisco is cool." But I didn't really-I didn't- I never viewed myself in San Francisco? And what was so crazy is I was like, "Okay, well, I guess this is a new adventure. We'll try San Francisco out." But, I mean, that's the part that kind of is so wild to me is my life would be- like, I mean, my passion, my everything, is this city now. I would have- it would have totally- I wouldn't be the person that I am if it wasn't for having to move out here. Yeah, so I ended up making the move February, I think, you know, March of 2015 after the training. I moved in with a couple other flight attendant friends who were- we all in training together. A lot of those girls are gonna be literally bridesmaids at my wedding, like they are best friends. My best, best friends. And I get to San Francisco and I start flying. And I'm like, "Cool. Let's get into it. I'm having fun." And I'm enjoying it, I'm having a lot of fun flying, but I'm also still feeling like I'm kind of missing something. Because it's fun to fly but you do kind of- if you are only just, you know, there for a couple hours at a time being someone's, you know, happy flying experience person, but then you come home and then you're like, "Okay, well, I'm just gonna sit and watch TV until"-

Janelle Jolley  3:21  
Until my next job.

Kaylah  3:23  
Yeah. And something about it really felt unfulfilling and felt kind of a little empty. And it's like, "Okay, well, what do I love?" And it just kind of went back to that same passion of, I love people and I love getting involved in doing something that makes me feel fulfilled. And so that was the same time as the Bernie campaign. The 2016 campaign. And so I think it was, California was no longer- like California was after Super Tuesday.

Janelle Jolley  3:53  
Yeah, it's in June. It used to be.

Kaylah  3:54  
Yeah. And so I was like, "Okay, well, cool. Let me volunteer with Bernie. Bernie, is this cool person I'm hearing about. I think I'm a socialist now."

Janelle Jolley  4:03  
What was your process understanding that? Or, coming into an understanding about that?

Kaylah  4:07  
I mean, I feel like I'm just like a lot of folks in this way. And I feel like- I really I appreciate people who are able to realize that they were socialists before Bernie, but Bernie made me a socialist. I mean, it's a lot of basically- like, a lot of things that I felt were straightforward, like, "Oh yeah, you shouldn't go into debt because you have to go to the hospital." Simple things that I just didn't- I always felt like I'm not speaking a different language and I'm not being a bleeding heart. I'm just being a logical person who, you know, cares about humans. And I just felt like there was- there's disconnect within a lot of politics that wasn't really hitting the head on all the stuff. And it was like, maybe we'll get close with Democrats. But it wasn't fully-

Janelle Jolley  4:54  
It wasn't all the way there.

Kaylah  4:54  
Getting there, yeah. And so once Bernie really ran I was like, "Wow. Yes, thank you. Wow, that's exactly what I was thinking." It just it made perfect sense. And that was when I was so hooked. And I was like, "Okay, well, I feel good about this, I feel passionate, I want to put my all into this, I want to build friends who- make make friends and build relationships with people who feel the same way as I do, and care deeply as I do about this stuff." And I got involved with this organization called Bay Area Social Events for Bernie. I would go to their events, and I'd just be like, "I don't know anyone but I like Bernie, hi!" One of the base organizer, that's Iris, was like, "You have a lot of great energy." And I was like, "Yeah! I can help do things!" And she was just like, "Okay, well, we need people to come into the organization and help out and be a volunteer coordinator and, you know, help keep"- because they would put on events that would- help people put on events that could fundraise for Bernie,

Janelle Jolley  5:59  
Because in 2016, if I remember correctly from what Alvin told me, there wasn't an office in San Francisco. So did this group meet in San Francisco or in the East Bay, or?

Kaylah  6:12  
They did a lot of their events in the East Bay. So it was a lot of riding the BART into Oakland and Berkeley. But they also did some events in San Francisco. And at the time, I was living in South SF, so I would just hop on- and I had no car at the time- so just hop on a BART, take a Lyft or Uber, do whatever had to do to get there because I just wanted to help out. And god, really how much money was spent on Uber alone? Geez Louise. But yes, because there was no org, like set organizing thing, they would just be a bunch of individuals who want to help out and BASE was kind of this way to help organize a lot of different other people. And I can do this on the weekend. And I could, you know, go fly and do a couple flights and come back on the weekend. And on my off days, it just felt like a perfect balance of feeling like I was actually a part of San Francisco Bay Area culture and not just a flight attendant who lives here. Because so often a lot of flight attendants- we can be based in San Francisco and live in, like, Las Vegas. Live in other cities and just come fly into work to work and then fly out and be done. And so I wanted to feel like this is my new home and-

Janelle Jolley  7:27  
And a part of the community.

Kaylah  7:28  
Yeah, exactly.

Janelle Jolley  7:29  
What are some of the most fond memories you have of the 2016 primary?

Kaylah  7:34  
I went to one Bernie event, like I flew to Louisiana, to New Orleans, to visit a friend and while I was there, Bernie was speaking. So I was like- I went to the Bernie rally with my friend and I got my little Bernie poster, and I got a sticker and I put it on the poster and I wrote New Orleans, whatever the date was. And I flew back home with the poster. And then I saw that Bernie was speaking in Boston. I hopped on a flight that I did- worked a trip to Boston so I could layover in Boston, see my other friend from college and me and her would go to the Bernie thing, get sticker, stick on it and write Bernie Boston, whatever the date was, and I just kept doing that. And I had a whole thing. I mean, I knew- I kept hearing the same stump speech over and over. But it was so worth it cuz it was just a chance to, in that campaign, it was like, "As a flight attendant, I could just fly and see Bernie anytime I want." It was rad. I was a Bernie groupie! It was rad! I was just like, "I love you, Bernie." It was really cute and just so much fun. Just imagining all the places on just my layover of like, "Alright, we're going to Phoenix tomorrow!"

Janelle Jolley  8:45  
Like, I know my man gonna be something there. I need to add another sticker to my poster."

Kaylah  8:50  
Yeah. And I still have that poster. It's just a really sweet momento of all the times you've been there.

Janelle Jolley  8:56  
Did you- one inappropriate question, one honest question. Now, was it while you were a groupie for Bernie that you were like, "I'm also a bisexual for Bernie." You said it wasn't until you moved to San Francisco, which you were like "This is what it is."

Kaylah  9:13  
I think it was less during the campaign. I think it was a little bit after the 2016 campaign. Because that was whenever- a little after the campaign is whenever I was- well, I will say that happened probably more after Bernie 2016 and then after Jane for State Senate. But then Jane for- Jane Kim for Mayor that- because that was whenever I was meeting other queer people.

Janelle Jolley  9:42  
Like from, just generally? Or because of The Milk Club or-

Kaylah  9:46  
Partially Milk Club, but it was more of- I think the mental block was coming out was this idea- this really dumb weird thing myy mind where I was like-

Janelle Jolley  9:54  
No, don't say that. We don't do negative self talk right now.

Kaylah  9:57  
Okay. Thank you, I appreciate that. I really did need that because it is something I'm like-

Janelle Jolley  10:02  
It's just...what it is.

Kaylah  10:02  
It is what it is, yeah. I think it was just this block I kept in my mind where I was like, "Obviously, being queer is perfectly fine. Obviously, having queer friends is great and wonderful and perfectly fine, but you can't be queer." And it was just this thing of like, I just couldn't unlatch that. And it was this weird thing of I didn't realize how much I had built a wall around saying, "Yes, I am bi." Until I was- it was kind of, I guess, number one being around a lot of other queer folks and feeling accepted amongst that and having a lot of honest conversations with people to be like, "Yeah, I do this. And I think that's okay. But I don't think it's okay." And they're like, "No, girl, it's good. Like, it's fine." And just realizing, "Oh, it is okay, isn't it? Oh, why am I stopping myself from being my full self?" And I think it just is a matter of really letting that guard down. That took a minute of just unpacking it. Got a lot to unpack in there. A lot of religious shit you're holding on to, girl, you gotta let that go.

Janelle Jolley  11:12  
Sure, sure. How would you describe your understanding of your own politic and politics writ large, or San Francisco politics writ large at that point? Having thrown down with BASE, and then getting involved with Jane's campaign? Like, what are what are some of the things that came into stark relief about politics for you at that point? And your own politics?

Kaylah  11:37  
Yeah, um, I think I realized how big housing was in San Francisco. And it's something that I just- I guess, because there's so little land and so many people? I think housing and homelessness were the two that really hit me hard. And what really kind of, well, for me, like I just said, also, when I'd go into the city, I- growing up in Louisiana they were, of course, there's homeless people, of course, but, there I've never seen such a- like families of people, of homeless folks. Like, of unhoused neighbors. Genuinely families. And I just would be- I found that was so crazy that we were in such a wealthy city and had such crazy amount of the wealth disparities. I think that's what really, really hit me. And that's, I think, was a big motivator for me. And that was also helping to drive like, "Oh, yeah, you definitely a socialist."

Janelle Jolley  11:44  
Because everybody needs to be housed.

Kaylah  12:40  
Exactly. Exactly. And it just was kind of like- it really, really- I think that really painted my view of politics. And it really, yeah-

Janelle Jolley  12:50  
Can I ask a question? What is your analysis on why some issues are so pronounced in San Francisco? Based on, you know, your inside political knowledge?

Kaylah  13:02  
Um, yeah, I don't know. I mean, I feel like-

Janelle Jolley  13:05  
Or maybe it's not inside political knowledge. Maybe it's just, you know, your eyes are open, you're paying attention?

Kaylah  13:10  
What you're seeing. Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it, it comes down to just- I mean, I feel like it's a cliche answer, but also it rings so true, is like so much money in politics. It just, it feels like, the thing that really fucking sucks. And, you know, even in having run campaigns, what fucking sucks is just how much money goes into politics and how much money influences things. And, in when you look at, I mean, I'm- any chance I get an opportunity to smash Scott Wiener, I'm going to do it. Sorry, dude. But like, when you look at how much money he's gotten gotten from real estate developers. And like, it's not just Scott. It's really so- okay. Yeah?

Janelle Jolley  13:56  
No, no, no, I want you to- we're gonna double click on this. I want you to explain for people who don't live here. Tell them who Scott Wiener is and why you're going to smash him when you see him. And like, what are the issues around him and money? So, explain that.

Kaylah  14:10  
There we go. So I will say this, Scott Wiener- sorry, Jane Kim, when she was running for State Senate, her main opponent was Scott Wiener and he not only was backed by huge corporations, but one of his main, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big donors, has been from so many different real estate developers. And when you look at his tenure of him being in office, and you look at the housing crisis that we see in San Francisco and in the Bay Area at large, it just- it's despicable. It really makes my blood boil because the money and politics. Like, where your money comes from, that's who your constituents are. And if your money is coming from the people, then your constituents are the people. If your money is coming from big corporations who just want to make money and build huge sky rises for people who don't live in San Francisco, and waste that, and while there are literally family sleeping on the street, that is- it drives me- I mean, my blood just boils every fucking time.

Janelle Jolley  15:18  
So draw a straighter line for me. And let's talk about Wiener and his taking, let's say, real estate money. Tell people how, in your analysis, him taking real estate money contributes to either the way he campaigns around housing or development or the legislation that he supports and or has blocked. Give me some concrete examples.

Kaylah  15:42  
Senate Bill 50 allows the entire state of California to just, all of this land to be up zoned, which allows real estate developers to come in and add a lot of housing. Just build and build and build and build and build. Which I like housing, I want housing. I think that's really important. And dense housing is so important. The problem that I have is, whenever your constituents are the big corporations and the big real estate developers, that means that they're gonna be building housing that's really good for their pockets. And real estate that's good for their pockets does not mean it's real estate, that's good for families. That means, you know, high rises that are really big, luxury condos. And what we really need are, you know, 2-3 bedroom houses for families. We need affordable housing options. And that was the biggest issue that I've really felt so excited about with Jane was- Jane was someone who, when she was the state's- when Jane was the district 6 supervisor, she fought for housing to be built. But she also fought developers to make sure that that housing was affordable. And that, you know, that it wasn't just one or two houses that were affordable housing. It was housing that was more affordable housing, and that affordable housing didn't have, like, a different color door.

Janelle Jolley  17:09  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A stigmatized "other" type of housing.

Kaylah  17:12  
Right. Or is like- because it'd be developers like, "Okay, yeah, we'll build this housing with affordable housing in it. But the people who have affordable housing, they don't have access to the pool." It's like, what is this separate but equal bullshit? No, that's not- you can't do that. And I just I really, I think that that's- when you're facing such a huge crisis, when people's lives are at risk, and genuinely their lives are at risk, you can't play for money with that. You know what I mean? Like that really has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Janelle Jolley  17:46  
So your understanding was- your understanding after being involved in that campaign and being more involved and aware of local politics, is that the money in politics is distortionary.

Kaylah  17:58  
Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of it too, was like, the more money that you have the easier it is to be very loud. And that was, I think, a really crazy realization is like, "Oh, when you invest in paid advertisements or billboards, you may be the loudest, but it's not necessarily the most effective." You have to actually go to those people who you think are- who are, you know, ? Valley moms who might not- who don't- who have a really nice life, but you have to explain to them, "This is why the revolution is for you too."

Janelle Jolley  18:33  
That's right. And this is what you stand to benefit.

Kaylah  18:35  
Exactly. And it's like, I think that that kind of mindset and organizing really only happens within labor organizing and electoral. Because it gets you outside, I mean, it gets you-

Janelle Jolley  18:46  
It gets you face to face on the ground with people and not just some thought exercise of like, "Oh, let's, you know, let's revise Marx." You know, it's like, there has to be some praxis.

Kaylah  18:57  
Exactly. Because, I mean, I think that there will be people who naturally gravitate towards leftist theory, which is great, like, grab them, bring them in, make it open, make it welcoming.

Janelle Jolley  19:06  
But you have to grab them.

Kaylah  19:07  
Yeah, you have to grab them.

Janelle Jolley  19:08  
You have to be out there to touch them, to speak to them. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kaylah  19:11  
Exactly. And I think that that's the thing is like, if we if we focus too insular, if we're like, you know, "Okay, well, you have to use all-" I mean, don't come in there saying crazy words, but- "You have to use all of the right Marxist language and you have to know how to already read this and have a fully developed-" No one's gonna join us. No one's gonna have fun.

Janelle Jolley  19:32  
That's right. What have been, after Jane, what have been your electoral activities and your labor activities? Because you are one of those, I think- well, maybe not super rare for San Francisco- but I think generally speaking for people of our generation, you're kind of a rarity in that you, I think, do both in tandem. So like, discuss- talk to me about those two different things that you hold and how you, kind of- how you are attentive to each of them.

Kaylah  20:03  
Yeah. I mean, it's kind of cool because when I actually look back at my timeline of what I've done, they all kind of feed into each other in a really kind of fun way. Because working on the IE, the IE was run by- one of the IEs.- one of the contributors of the IE was UNITE HERE Local 2. Love UNITE HERE Local 2.

The IE on Jane's campaign?

On Jane's campaign, yeah. They- like, UNITE HERE Local 2 helped to literally run it. And so after the campaign wrapped, they reached out to me, like, "Hey, you know, the campaign's over but if you want to do an internship with us, we would love to have you." And that's where I got my first taste of like, "Oh, this is what union organizing looks like, this is pretty cool." I got to sit in on meetings and talk with hotel workers as they were preparing to, you know, fight for a new contract. And learn a lot of cool different languages around like- well, actual languages, because it's a lot of Spanish that I got to catch up on. But, but also learning a lot of like, what is fighting for a new contract look like? What is working alongside actual real workers, people, whose lives are on the line? Like, their livlihood is on the line.

Janelle Jolley  21:21  
This is not a theoretical exercise, they need to be able to pay their rent and feed their families.

Kaylah  21:25  
Right? Exactly. And it was so cool just to have that experience. And then, you know, I've worked on that side of- the organizing side of UNITE HERE Local 2, and-

Janelle Jolley  21:34  
And what is that? Is that a labor union for...who is that a labor union for?

Kaylah  21:39  
Oh yeah, UNITE HERE is a labor union for hotel workers. Also I think catering, and restaurant workers, predominantly. And then also an SFO airport-

Janelle Jolley  21:54  

Kaylah  21:55  
Yeah, the concessions. Oh, what is it called? Basically, it's a really big- I forgot what the name of the company was. But yeah, all the food stuff coming out of the airport- SFO airport.

Janelle Jolley  22:06  
Okay. So you interned with them. And then?

Kaylah  22:09  
And then after that, then I got a call from Jane herself. And she's like, "Hey, I'm running for mayor. And I would love to hire you because I heard of all the great work you did on my IE." And so I went to work for that campaign. The first day, I met Edward Wright, who is my current roommate, and dearest, dearest friend. And on that same day, I met him and was like, "Cool, I need a roommate." And he was like, "I need a room." So I moved in like a month later on the campaign. So yeah, it all kind of happened pretty quickly of just like- that was when I think I really learned, during Jane's campaign for mayor, is when I learned all of the basics of what a political campaign looks like.

Janelle Jolley  22:54  
What- talk to us about what those things are.

Kaylah  22:57  
Oh yeah. So, I was a volunteer director. So I just would call through that-

Janelle Jolley  23:03  
Whoa, wait, you were your volunteer director and still working full time as a flight attendant?  

Kaylah  23:06  
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  23:06  
How did you do that?

Kaylah  23:07  
Oh, so I would just drop down to my minimum 20 hours of flying as a flight attendant, and I would either work on the weekend, or tell the campaign manager, like, "Okay, cool. I need just this day off so I can fly a couple trips and come back tomorrow."

Janelle Jolley  23:25  
Because you can get your 20 hours in three days. You can just cram that? Okay.

Kaylah  23:29  
Yeah, so I was like, "Alright, cool. We're just gonna hop on a flight. See you guys in a couple days. I'll be right back." It's like, this is a three day weekend, basically, every- once a month. And it was good. And I was able to just, you know, maintain by working for the campaign full time. And as a volunteer director, I got to know so many people, because I basically had to call through a list of 1000 plus people every week.

Janelle Jolley  23:56  
Wow. To raise money or to-

Kaylah  23:58  
To get them to come to the weekend volunteer events.

Janelle Jolley  24:01  
I see, you were phone banking to get canvassers organized.

Kaylah  24:05  
And so I- that's actually where a lot of my individual relationships, a lot of really active, cool people in the city. That's how I met Alison Collins, who I adore. And it was this big push of just constantly calling people, reaching out, and understanding like, this is the same kind of lesson I learned from the State Senate race, is I learned that what wins campaigns is actual people power, not just huge amounts of money. You need to have- she- like if you want to win, you need to canvass doors. If you want to canvass doors, you need volunteers. If you want volunteers, you got to call. And so I called. And it was that constant drive. And that was a big- kind of seeing the full production behind campaigns field work on that end. I had this meeting with Jen, Jen Snider, and she's like, "I don't know, there's this guy running for DA, sounds kind of cool." I was like, "You know, I don't know he's pretty crazy. He's like, you know, has a crazy past with his parents and he wants to be the first decarceral DA in San Francisco." I was like, "Sounds pretty cool." It's like, "Do you want to have a meeting with them?" And I was like, "You planned this." And I was like, "Yes. Yes I do, actually. He sounds amazing." And I looked him up and online I was like, "Oh my God, this guy is so freakin cool."

So Jen Snyder set that up? He didn't step to you?

Yeah, Jen set it up cuz she- her and Jim Stearns were the consultants on the ? campaign. And so they were like, "Yeah, all right. Kaylah could do this. I think she could do that." I was like, "Y'all sure. Again, why?" I gotta have more confidence sometimes. I'm working on it.

Janelle Jolley  25:52  
Yes. We're working on it.

Kaylah  25:55  
So, then I met with Chesa and he was super lovely, really cool, down to earth and had a lot of really cool ideas. And I was sold.

Janelle Jolley  26:07  
Talk about some of his cool ideas because my man is under a little bit of fire right now for some really dickhead reactionaries. But talk about his cool ideas that hooked you.

Kaylah  26:15  
Yeah. I think one of the biggest ones was just the fact that he wanted- I mean, this seems like it should be a standard- but to not convict children as adults.

Janelle Jolley  26:27  
That seems real obvious.

Kaylah  26:29  
Yeah, no, but that's not what was happening. You would have these kids, you know, who would be in and out of juvie and then they would upgrade them and they would, you know, say, "Oh, yeah, we're gonna still gonna charge them as an adult." Like, that- it was like, "Oh, yeah, we don't do that already?" And I think another really big one that just seemed kind of crazy to me was, it was, what's the name of it? It's whenever- it's like if you were from, let's say you're from a random neighborhood, right? And in this random neighborhood, the SFPD has now deemed it a gang territory, or whatever. If you are just a random person who gets arrested in that territory for something like a misdemeanor or an infraction, or whatever, you can get up charged like you're-

Janelle Jolley  27:23  
Oh, they'll throw the book at you because you're in gang ter- oh, I didn't know that.

Kaylah  27:26  
Or if you're gang affiliated, they'll say that- they'll go because this guy is your cousin. Um, that means like, you went in you robbed a bank. Okay, well, yeah, if you did a crime-

Janelle Jolley  27:27  
Let's say you stole a soda from a bodega.

Kaylah  27:40  
Yeah, you stole a soda. And you stole a soda with your cousin. Then you're like, "Okay, well, it was two cousins? Y'all in a gang. We're charging- you're doing-" Gang enhancements! That's it!

Janelle Jolley  27:54  
I didn't know that. Okay. That's absurd.

Kaylah  27:56  
Yeah, it's bad. And because especially in San Francisco, gangs in San Francisco happened in the 80s, 70s, 90s?

Janelle Jolley  28:05  
But also, gang- I mean, this is an aside- but also what people popularly understand is gangs are just like, neighborhoods of people who know each other. Like, that's it.

Kaylah  28:18  
That's really it. I mean, and so with gang enhancements, you would see-

Janelle Jolley  28:22  
You end up throwing the book at people who are disproportionately black and/or brown. And just- and poor, across the board.

Kaylah  28:29  
Exactly. I mean, that was the thing is, as you said, it's like, there has never been a person who has been charged with a gang enhancement, who is not a person of color. Never, never. And he was like, "We're changing that. Day one, I want that to be changed. I want gang enhancements out the window."

Janelle Jolley  28:46  
Meaning that gang enhancements are- that's a tool in a DA's toolkit to throw the book at somebody?

Kaylah  28:54  

Janelle Jolley  28:54  
I see. And that is something a DA has control over- it has discretionary over?

Kaylah  29:00  
Yeah. So he could choose to- so it's like, yeah, if someone, you know, steals a soda, they will get charged for stealing a soda. Not charged for stealing a soda and also they did it with the cousin who could be a gang member. So suddenly, now it goes for two days in jail to, you know, 20 years. And if- they were really some crazy enhancements, where you're like, "What the hell?"

Janelle Jolley  29:20  
Also, why- using that term enhancements is so cynical and insidious, because that makes it sound like a plastic surgery term. Like, we're making your lips bigger. But it's like, no, we're making your charges bigger.

Kaylah  29:38  
Bigger, just bigger for you. So you're welcome! We're enhancing it.

Janelle Jolley  29:43  
Made them more lovely. Like, fuck off.

Kaylah  29:45  
Yeah, exactly. And it's things like that, I was like, "Wow, I had no idea that was happening in the city." And it's really fucked up. It's so crazy. And I was like, "Yeah, this guy's the real deal."

Janelle Jolley  29:59  
So he pitched you with his platform when you guys did meet, and you were like, "Okay."

Kaylah  30:03  
Yep. Sold, sold. 100% sold. And it was literally, I remember, I was in the meeting, it started off with just like, "Okay, I'm thinking about it." By the end of meeting I was like, "Great. So why don't we schedule for the next time to talk about who your top donors will be?" Like, literally just-

Janelle Jolley  30:22  
You were in it.

Kaylah  30:23  
I was in it. I was like, "I'm ready, I'm here, I'm your campaign manager. Nice to meet you. Don't let you get a chance to hire me, I hired myself. So, cool. Hi."

Janelle Jolley  30:33  
How big- were you still a staff of one or did you actually have a staff this time?

Kaylah  30:38  
This was the first time I actually had a staff of mostly women who were behind doing all of this. And it was kind of cool to see, I was like, the Boss Lady. And I kind of thought through the vision of what we want to get done and we want to see. And I would check in with our consultants, Jim and Jen, and just be like, "Hey, I have this idea. Like, what, what are we thinking here?" And they'd be like, "Good idea." Or, "Work on it." And then once it gets kind of good and approved from, you know, from the candidate, from the consultants, I make it happen with all my staff. And it was really neat because all of those same things that I had learned and you kind of figure it out, I just got a chance to say- to teach that to someone else. And teach that to other, mostly- I mean, especially having a mostly woman staff, it felt really cool just to be like, "Hey." Wally was only, like, 19 on the campaign? And she is such a badass. She has so much information and knows how to run campaigns. Kelsey Russom, who I adore, was a rock star volunteer turned intern, who now works in Chesa's office. And these- this is what I- this is one of my favorite things to do is to not just work for, you know, doing this great work on a larger scale, of course, but also on the individual personal level, building up other more women, particularly- well, more great people in general, but, particularly women and women of color, bringing them into the fold into this political world and making sure they are supported. You know? Chesa was originally a public defender in San Francisco, and he worked under Jeff Adachi. And Jeff Adachi was the deputy public defender before he passed away. Actually, he passed away during Chesa's campaign. And he was, you know, another father figure to Chesa and the way that he would run the PD's office was with such integrity, and such amazing thoughtfulness of the community that he served. And what I love is that Chesa really took that- the way that Jeff Adachi ran the PD's office- and he wanted to bring that same integrity to the DA's office. And to hear the way that he talked about it, like, "Look, you don't want your window broken into, I don't want your window broken into. But you know, the person who broke into that window in the first place? If you just put them back in jail and let them go back out on the street with no backup, it's gonna it's just gonna happen again. If you vote for me, I will be able to say, 'Hey, that person broken your window. Let's find a way to get to the root cause of this crime, stop it from happening again.'" And it's like, "Oh, yeah, that works out really well." And this- I just- I don't understand how tough on crime- and it's the same bullshit I see with backlash against Allison Collins, backlash against Chesa. I feel very proud to have campaign managed two campaigns that both have recall that candidate being led by Republicans in San Francisco.

Janelle Jolley  31:20  
That's right, that means you did something right.

Kaylah  33:44  
You're welcome, Republicans. It feels good to know that because what you're seeing is this crazy, reactionary people who are looking at what's happening, looking at how the world is starting to change to bring forward the community, and they're backlashing with the individual. And it is so frustrating, and it sometimes makes me-

Janelle Jolley  34:09  
It's short sighted?

Kaylah  34:09  
Yeah, it's short sighted and makes me feel like...blegh, you know?  I just- like, this is what my life's work is. This is what I am put on this planet to do, is to continue to fight for community. And I'll be fucking damned if y'all go and try to get my candidates out of office. Like, that ain't happening. No.

Janelle Jolley  34:29  
What was- I'm just interested- what was the math in terms of- like, what was the coalition that got Chesa over the hump? Like, what was the math that helped him win?Even though London Breed goofy ass tried to thunder skills?

Kaylah  34:43  
I mean, I think it was a really cool coalition of, like- I love the fact that, particularly in the southeast part of the city, within district 11, and district 10? District 11 and district 10, which have a lot of, like- it's probably one of, some of the most racially diverse neighborhoods of this whole city. You saw a lot of Asian American support, particularly a lot of progressive Asian American support, really kind of coming behind Chesa and saying like, "Hey, you know, we are feeling targeted in a lot of ways. We want to make sure we are supported." And, actually showing up in the way that Chesa would quickly responded and got behind, particularly the Chinese community in San Francisco? We saw them step up and show support. Of course, the black community in San Francisco, because we're like, "Yeah, we are being targeted by the police." And it was amazing to see that even the folks who typically fall in line with London Breed are a lot more moderate were actually listening and being like, "Oh, wait. No, this guy got it. He got it." And they were willing to kind of step outta line to say publicly that they were supporting Chesa over other candidates. That was a big move. Within the Latinx community, a mission was going hard- that's district nine- but they were going hard for Chesa. And it was nice because there were- like, Supervisor Hillary Ronen really, really came through and for Chesa and came to literally every single event that was even D-9 adjacent, would show up. And it was just this cool mixture of different communities showing up and saying, "Hey, we are standing with Chesa." And I think that kind of coalition between- that coalition, and then also like, bring in education, there were so many young voters that came up to vote. Across the country, particularly the more southern states, the rise in Trumpism? There's this rise of organizing out of fear. Organizing, because they're scared of something. And a lot of this is the same thing, "I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, let me run to the most reactionary bullshit that I can find." I feel like you can fight back that fear with real logic and real science. And hopefully people are more amenable to hearing that. But sometimes you have to, you know, slap them in the face a little bit with some science or slap in the face with some, you know, logic of some kind to get them out of this fear-based organizing. Because that's all it really is, you know? I don't know how to do it yet, but I'm hoping we'll get there.  

Janelle Jolley  37:20  
No, we're all working toward that. What is the future that you hope to fight for, and when? And how might we get there? Because you said it's all about community, not the individual. So paint a picture for me.

Kaylah  37:35  
Two big points that I would love to see that I just- what I want to is number one, to have- this one, hopefully it can happen more soon- but number one is hoping to have more engagement of, particularly our generation within the labor movement. Because, I find, it's been kind of stifled. And so, since it's been stifled, you know, you have things like, "Oh, I guess that's the way it is." Like, Jeff is literally his-

Janelle Jolley  38:06  
Her boo.

Kaylah  38:06  
My boo. He is literally at his job facing- since people are leaving from San Francisco and moving to different cities- you know, the company has just said, blanket statements like, "Oh, well, if you're living from the city, then we're going to significantly cut your pay, because we're paying that much money because you're living in San Francisco. So you know, you won't do that." And it's like, yeah-

Janelle Jolley  38:23  
What industry does he work in?

Kaylah  38:30  
He works in tech. I'm sorry, tech workers. But, no, it's like- well, if you had it- and people are just like, "Oh, I guess that makes sense." It's like, "No, if you had a union they could never do." I want to see more representation of more people within the labor union force, you know, joining CWA, who is organizing a lot of amazing tech workers. And once that happens I think it starts to shift the narrative and shift the the psyche of what is possible and what is expected.

Janelle Jolley  39:04  
Shout out to Rob, he was a he was the guest- he was episode last week. He recently- or he was one of the early members of the Google union.

Kaylah  39:11  
Yes! Oh my god, I was so excited to see that! I was like, "Yes." And that's exactly it. It's like, if that becomes the new norm, if that's the new norm, then you know what you're advocating for. You know what you deserve. You know what you are- like, what should be given to you and you have that.

Janelle Jolley  39:26  
And you understand the importance of the collective, the solidarity of a union. Like, that becomes extremely clear because together we can, you know, make sure that this person keeps their job or we can we can defend, you know, our pay or our working conditions or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But as an individual, if I were just bitching about this as an individual, nobody would give a fuck. So yeah, mm-hmm.

Kaylah  39:50  
Yeah. This is the dream, every leftist dream, but having an actual Labor Party? So we can have representation on behalf of those labor members? And also-

Janelle Jolley  40:03  
How do we do that if we keep fucking with the democrats, though?

Kaylah  40:05  
I know! That's the part where I- that I genuinely have no idea how to get to. Because I just know that I want it to happen. I think maybe- I mean in the pipe dream, pipe dream- let's just work with me,  imagine this image: We work hard to get real, actual, tried and true democratic socialists, leftists, who really believe in this movement to come into the Democratic Party and you get to a certain point to reverse a threshold where we can shift it over and pull them over? And like, "Okay, cool. We're already in here. We're established. So now we are a new party and switching parties." But that also is like, decades.

Janelle Jolley  40:45  
Yeah and I don't know how that happens. But, you know, we don't have to know how it happens. You just- that is your vision, that's your desire. I see, uh-huh.    

Kaylah  40:50  
Yeah, I would love to see that. Like, I had to call in sick a couple times because I have-  TMI- well, no, it's not TMI, it's bodily functions- I have really bad cramps. And flying up and down really makes them even worse. And so I had to call in sick couple times and I felt like, "Fuck, I'm going to get fired. I'm gonna get fired because I have fucking cramps. I can't stop it."

Janelle Jolley  40:51  
You can't control it!

Kaylah  41:13  
You can't control it. Ibuprofen does not help. Only thing that helps is if I sit still with a hot water pad, a hot water bottle on my tummy and just-

Janelle Jolley  41:22  
Don't do shit.  

Kaylah  41:23  
Exactly. And I was really worried. I was like, "Fuck, I'm gonna get fired." And I was like, and I was talking to my flight attendant friend about it and she's like, "Oh, just talk to the union rep and, you know, they can refer you to someone to give you FMLA." Which is, like, allows you to call in sick for medical reasons.

Janelle Jolley  41:42  
Every month, really? I didn't know that it was that flexible.

Kaylah  41:45  
Oh, yeah. You're allowed up to as many as like, sometimes you'll have up to six per month to use. Or like, two per month to use. But, yeah, you can just be like, "Hey, I want to use my FMLA and I want to have it covered."

Janelle Jolley  41:57  
Oh, right on.

Kaylah  41:57  
And the union helps you organize that and-

Janelle Jolley  42:00  
Oh my god, every woman needs a union if that's the case. I mean, not every woman has terrible cramps, but you know what I mean? But you still- like, it- you can- I mean, there's a range of symptoms, around, you know, the menstrual cycle, whatever. But it's like, I've wished...god-

Kaylah  42:15  
You would be covered! You would be covered! And that's the thing-

Janelle Jolley  42:18  
And not have to worry about being fucking fired because of something your body do that you can't control.

Kaylah  42:23  
You literally can't control it. If there's something that happens in the company, for example, what's been happening with COVID as flight attendants, and with so much job uncertainty. I know that there are some companies that boast that they've never done any furlough, so they, "Oh, we didn't furlough any flight attendants, so we're great. Who needs a union? We didn't furlough a flight attendant." Yeah, maybe my ass got furloughed, but I at least knew every single step of the way what my company was doing for me and I knew what they couldn't- what they could do, what they couldn't do. What they couldn't do, is they couldn't reduce my pay. They couldn't make a make amendments without- make amendments to my schedule and the ways that- without checking in with me and my union. They couldn't make these changes without checking in with us as- because we represented. We were covered. We were, it's like, "Yeah, sure. Maybe they furloughed us, but, you know what the process to be furloughed at my company is? They first have to offer voluntary leaves. They have to offer- sorry, voluntary leaves, which means you choose to, you know, not fly. They have to offer job shares, which allows you to work a full line but then share it with someone else, so you actually have 10 hour minimums and a 20 hour minimum. They allow- they had to do all these different stipulations before allowing you just to be like "Okay, cool. Now we are, we're just going to furlough you." It's like, "No, no, no." You had all these processes. And we knew every step of the way. And I always felt protected because it wasn't like- I wasn't left on the bridge.

Janelle Jolley  43:56  
And, damn, now's the time to need to be able to feel protected in your job. So, did- were you still even- I don't- does furlough mean you get paid or you do not get paid?

Kaylah  44:03  
So, because- also with that union contract- I was furloughed, but I had furlough pay for three months. And I was furloughed in October, I got brought back on in-

Janelle Jolley  44:13  
October? You weren't furloughed in April?

Kaylah  44:16  
Yeah, they they held off for furloughs for as long as they could.

Janelle Jolley  44:19  
But were you actually flying?

Kaylah  44:21  
Oh, oh, okay. So, I'm still a United flight attendant by pay but I'm on union business, so I'm working for my union.

Janelle Jolley  44:30  
So you had been doing union work before COVID that meant you didn't have your line?

Kaylah  44:37  
Yeah. So it's- so, I'll go back a little bit. So after Chesa won. Well, oh- I'm gonna go back a little more, so sorry.

Janelle Jolley  44:47  
No, don't even apologize, child, I need to understand.

Kaylah  44:50  
So, in the middle of Chesa's campaign, I- this is also around the time whenever, our union president, Sarah Nelson, who is such a badass-

Janelle Jolley  45:01  
She was the union head during the government shutdown when the- yeah, okay.

Kaylah  45:04  
She told off Trump and was like, you know, "I'm fightin'. If you want to do this, we'll have a fuckin shutdown." Boom. Immediately we got what we needed. But during all that time I was still working for Chesa. And around that time it was the national convention, DSA national convention in Atlanta, and I got voted as a delegate for my DSA SF chapter. I was so excited not only to represent DSA SF, but also because one of the keynote speakers was Sarah Nelson. And I- she had come to San Francisco before for some of the Anchor Steam stuff. And I had to fly or I had another meeting, I just wasn't able to meet her, but I was so excited. And so I finally- I was like, "I'm gonna meet her meet her." And she did her speech at the convention. I was fucking crying. I was like, "You're so good!" I was this big old baby, tears on my face. And we were sitting as a whole contingent, like a whole group of DSA SF somewhere towards the front- towards the front left. And so, she finishes her speech and I'm like, "Okay, I'm gonna get up and go, I'm gonna go." And all my friends, like all the other DSA SF folks, are like, "Yeah, Kaylah, let's do it!" Literally pushing me out of my chair to go run up behind her by the stage. And so she finishes her speech, she comes down. And I'm like, "Hi, I'm Kaylah. I am a DSA SF delegate. And I'm also a flight attendant at the same company that you work at. And I'm just really excited to see you and, like, hi." She was like, "Hello!" And she was super excited, and was very kind and was really, really sweet. And just, you know, I was like, "Wait, hey!" And she was like, "Hey, are you involved in your local MEC?" And I was like, "Not really." But she's like, "Well, I want you to call your MEC president, I want you to check in with her- "

Janelle Jolley  45:15  
What is MEC?

Kaylah  46:56  
Oh, you're like your local council. So, there's a United- or, for each company, there's a different- for each company at each base you have your own local- so, there's United San Francisco, there is a Alaska Airline San Francisco, there's a Alaska Airlines Seattle, there's all these different- like, those each individually have their own president. And so she was like, "You should reach out to the one for for your company. And for SFO, there's a really cool program happening that I think you should apply for." And I was like, "Okay! Thanks!" It was a Human Rights Committee, subsection or whatever. And so I'd met Sarah then and she told me to join that and I got involved with the Human Rights Committee through her suggestion and her referral. And so then I met her again, and it's like, "I'm glad to see you here." "Thanks, Sarah!" And so, yeah, I went through the Human Rights Committee training with her. And then after the training I came back to San Francisco, we won the campaign. As I was cleaning up the office, after Chesa won, I got a call from Sarah. And she was like, "Hey, so, you know, I know you've gone through this training. I've met you a couple times and I really think that you've been doing great work. We are just opening up this campaign for Delta AFA, for Delta Airlines to unionize. Would you want to come on board?" I was like, "Yes." Like, that was easy, "Yeah, that's cool." And so she hired me to work on that campaign. And so how it works is after Chesa's campaign, I just, you know, they switch me over- it's a special assignment. I'm like a flight attendant on special assignment-

Janelle Jolley  48:51  
So that means you don't have to fly?

Kaylah  48:52  
Mm-mm. But I still get paid for, you know, what my normal pay would be if I was flying, but it's being paid through the company instead of through the union because the company's making hella money.

Janelle Jolley  49:04  
Yes, right, that's right.

Kaylah  49:05  
They better pay for my salary. Right? Right? Exactly.

Janelle Jolley  49:08  
So you are still on union business. You've been on union business through COVID so you haven't had a drop in your income or anything-

Kaylah  49:19  
No. For a little bit I thought I was going to have to because when I was furloughed I had to- well, like when the furlough went into effect this past October, from October to January, I had to, I mean, I switched from being paid through the company to being- luckily AFA was like, "Cool, it's alright. So, you're furloughed, we will pay for the months that you are not working directly from the company and you're set." It was a little bit of a pay decrease, but nothing crazy. And then once I got recalled back in this past, well yeah, January? February? Then I got, "Cool, back at it."

Janelle Jolley  49:58  
What is it like, or what is involved with trying to get Delta flight attendants unionized? Like, what are you up against? And how do you have to move?

Kaylah  50:07  
I mean, we're up against years and years and years and years of anti-union messaging. Because the whole idea is that they're Delta different. "We're a family here we, you know-"

Janelle Jolley  50:21  
Bitch, that's family, they'll look out for me! I mean a family will let me unionized so I can keep food on my table.

Kaylah  50:27  
Right? A family would have a black and white sick policy so I know if I can or can't call out sick. A real family would have, I don't know, non toxic uniforms?

Janelle Jolley  50:40  
That's right, those purple uniforms.

Kaylah  50:42  
And they're still selling them. They're still selling them. And you can buy those same uniforms for the same amount of money that it was, or get the proven non toxic ones that are more expensive.

Janelle Jolley  50:53  
Wow. That's such trash.

Kaylah  50:56  
That's trifling.

Janelle Jolley  50:56  
Yeah, that's super trifling.

Kaylah  50:57  
And, I mean, that's a lot of what we're going up against. But you know, I think the best way that we- the best tactics to get there has come from, you know, some amazing labor organizers who've already been doing this work. Jane McAlevey is- I think her book, No Shortcuts has been my Bible. My absolute- I mean, I have it, it's highlighted and underlined. There's different things- I have sticky notes on each different section to remind myself of these things. And a lot of it comes from just, you know, constantly being in contact with new flight attendants, making them activists and getting- and stepping them up. You know, having this conversations and- for me, the hardest part was, I just thought like, "Okay, cool, we need to have, you know, 50 new cards, by the end of this month, I'll just call 50 people and have them call." And then my boss is like, "You know, you don't do that. You're not making a union for them, it's their union." These Delta flight attendants themselves are the ones who have to organize it. We don't come in, we don't- we as staff organizers, we aren't the ones who are making a union. We are empowering the workers to make a union for themselves. And so it's been- that has been a really cool thing, just to remember, like- it's a humbling experience. And it's something that, I mean, I take very seriously. And I have a lot of respect and pride for all of my flight attendant activists because this is truly their space to organize. And I am just here just to give them good advice. And you know, set some, maybe some internal deadlines here or there. But it's them to take it on and make it their own.

Janelle Jolley  52:41  
Is the way it works, that enough Delta flight attendants have to say- they have to go to the labor board and say, "Hey, we want to union." And that's- is that how it works?

Kaylah  52:51  
So, yeah. We get enough cards on file-

Janelle Jolley  52:55  
Cards, meaning union cards?

Kaylah  52:57  
Yeah, union cards. Authorization cards. Once we get that big list of folks, we take it to the board, authorization board, and then they say, "Okay, cool. You guys are now officially eligible to vote." And so then we kind of go into the GOTV, which is Get Out The Vote, which means all the people who signed a card before we need to make sure that they actually come in and actually vote "yes" for the union.

Janelle Jolley  53:24  
So you hold an election on the formation of the union after you get enough cards and the labor board says "Okay, you can vote."

Kaylah  53:33  
Yeah. And so, because it's gonna be, I mean, 10s of 1000s of flight attendants, it's important that we aren't- it's not just like, "Oh, this random person told sign a card, so I guess I'll sign it." It's really about empowering people to be like, "Oh, this is what I want." And especially once we really get, you know, get to that number and we are able to present it to the labor board, that's when Delta's gonna go in overdrive of doing anti-union messaging. It already is subtle, but it hasn't kicked into full gear. But it will.

Janelle Jolley  54:07  
Are their uniforms the animating force behind this, or the most recent animating force behind the people's desire to join a union? It's like, "I'm fucking sick at 30,000 feet. And you made me buy this. I have I wear this and it's making me sick. Fuck you guys."

Kaylah  54:22  
It's the uniforms. There have been base spaces that have been significantly reduced. Like, there's an airbase in Honolulu- a lot of flight attendants, we call them, they're pineapples- they have significantly reduced the base in Honolulu. And have just really been like, "Okay, flight attendants. If you don't make the cut, you gotta move to- you gotta be based- you may live in Honolulu but now you have to commute." And so now you have to commute to LA or Seattle or San Francisco or Salt Lake City. But it's been an organizing force around now new commuters or people who were previous computers to make sure that there's a stronger commitment to the company, or stronger commuter policy around. During COVID, especially at the beginning, wanting more transparency around COVID for sick calls, because again-

Janelle Jolley  55:16  
A lot of people got sick-

Kaylah  55:18  
They got sick, yeah. And there was no distinction between calling in sick for yourself and calling in sick for a child that you take care of, or a partner you take care of. All these different things, it's been a lot of what I've been doing, and what our team has been doing is just creating- finding those pathways of like, where is the agitation here? Where is the issue? Where do people feel like- where do they want their voice to be heard? And we just like, "Cool. We're here, what's up? We can help you have your voice." All these things that are, you know, coveted are not protected. And that's the biggest thing.

Janelle Jolley  55:52  
It's like you can have your eight days you have your private sharing, but protect that with a union. Don't be so easily jerked around at the by substitutes of the bosses.

Kaylah  56:05  
Right. It's like, the whole- last year around Valentine's Day, we had a, for the Delta FA campaign, "Like it, Lock it in."

Janelle Jolley  56:15  
That's good marketing. That's good messaging.

Kaylah  56:17  
Nice, right? It's good. That's like, "Well done, Taylor and Sarah" They're two, you know, the two, I think, main folks in the comms bringing that out. It's like, "If you like it, lock it in." That's simple. It doesn't change it. Because the thing about union contracts, it's done by your peers. If majority of your peers want to keep something, it's gonna stay in the contract.

Janelle Jolley  56:37  
That's right. Hmm. Interesting. If you were to give some advice to someone your age or younger about plugging in, or the importance of plugging in and finding something to do, where you are with whatever talents or skills that you have, what would you say?

Kaylah  56:38  
My best advice, this is local and state and nationwide, find out what you're passionate about, other than just being like, "I'm passionate about politics." Like, no, you're not. What are you actually passionate about? Like, don't tell me that you like politics. What are the things that you like? Because if you can't tell me, it's just power. In which case do not go into politics.

Janelle Jolley  57:24  
Yeah, that's right. Cuz then you'll turn into something that you, maybe, don't want to.

Kaylah  57:29  
Exactly. Ground yourself in the things that make you happy, the things that make you upset, the things that- the injustices that you see that you want to change. Ground yourself in that, and then find it and join it. Even if it's a small club of like five people who meet once a month, join that small club. Get active and show up and keep showing up. And, this is actually something that Jane told me is, it's showing up and doing the work.

Janelle Jolley  57:57  
That's it.

Kaylah  57:57  
Yeah, it really is, it's that easy. And it sounds easy, but it's so- exactly. If you show up and you do the work, people take notice. And, you know, you will suddenly realize like, "Oh, someone else feels as passionate about this as I do. They want to work with me and do this, keep working and keep fighting for these same things cuz we have the same passion." And suddenly two people becomes five becomes 20 becomes 100 and you are doing what you love. And even whenever it fucking sucks because, god, sometimes it fucking sucks, you will at least seek solace of knowing that you're doing what you love, and you're doing what you're passionate about. You're doing what you care about. And you'll keep going.

Janelle Jolley  59:00  
Good grief. I do not know how she does it all. Well, I mean, I do know now but you know what I mean. Full time campaign manager- twice- and a full time flight attendant? Kaylah out here making the rest of us look bad. I will go ahead and say, however, if you find yourself crossing paths with a Kaylah you are definitely doing something right in life. She is truly a gift. All right. Don't forget to subscribe and share. Maybe find us on social media @whatslefttodo. You know, it's really about whatever floats your boat. Okay, see you next week.

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