George Saba and Sarah Wilkinson
DescriptionOne Small Step conversation partners George "Kate" Saba [no age given] and Sarah Wilkinson (26) share their thoughts on recent elections, the political landscape of the United States, and what causes inequalities amongst US citizens. Kate reflects on her upbringing in Belarus and what has led her to adopt Republican conservative views, and Sarah discusses her experiences working with youth and public housing initiatives that have shaped her beliefs about race, class, and inequality.
Subject Log / Time Code
- George Saba
- Sarah Wilkinson
Recording LocationVirtual Recording
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00:02 Today is Friday, June 25th, 2021. And I am in, Centreville, Virginia.
00:14 Hi, my name is Sarah Wilkinson. I'm 26 years old. It is Friday, June 25th, 2021. I am in Richmond, Virginia. The name of my recording partner is Kate and my relationship to my recording partner is one small step or station partner.
00:35 Sarah. It's nice to meet you. Nice to meet you too frequent listener of NPR and every morning when I drive to work and it's a long, 40 minutes from you. I love to listen to NPR and I hear the conversation, all kinds of people between siblings, family members. People that may not know each other, and I always wanted to not only participate in that but just wanted to have my voice heard specially with all the division that takes place nowadays, lytical Division, and Hope just cries of division switch. I really don't don't like very much and
01:21 When I saw an opportunity to talk to somebody who may not necessarily be on the same.
01:28 The same political beliefs as I am. I thought it would be a good opportunity to maybe the bridge that Gap and bring us a little bit closer and at least understand each other a little bit more. So that was my motivation.
01:42 I think my motivation is very similar. I think I added the path to getting there probably as well. Learn is a little different than your past. I imagine but definitely was interesting when I saw this opportunity and you know, I have been in adult all that long. So I'm going to be honest and 26 but I would say that that it's been a very chaotic political environment that I kind of came of age in and I think part of part of that, for me has been experiencing that extreme divide. I'm in saying that even in my own family, I have my mother is very, very Progressive. And my father is very conservative. And so you can just seen that in my own family. And so when I saw the opportunity to to kind of have a conversation and just you know, be in a relationship with somebody who might be different and I feel like that happens that opportunity to serve it to like it comes every day, especially with a pandemic and
02:42 Now that really turned life upside down and the opportunity to meet new people. So that was really part of my motivation and just wanting to see what it looks like to. You know, find some common ground in common Humanity with somebody else. And I read your bio and really surprised. Now that I met you to realize that you only 26 years old wedding dresses, that you already got her in the bachelor's degree, and had so much time service and national service. And what exactly do you do for you? So, I work for a nonprofit called Mentor. Virginia. We are Statewide nonprofit are really our mission is to partner with programs that are serving used for mentoring and working to provide the resources. Make sure they have the training that they need. Make sure they're running a high-quality safe mentoring program for the Youth that they're working with diamond Trillium power.
03:42 Youth and get the boy through the active mentoring and really at the heart of that is, you know, relationships. And so that's to me what, what drives my passion and motivation to be in this work. And really my role is focused on, I kind of oversee our quality based, we have four different services and two of those are really focused on making. Sure programs are operating a high-quality. And so those are kind of the programs that I oversee. So just a lot of, you know, working with Partners. I oversee some of our key of a team of Consultants that do a lot of that work with programs one-on-one and so over sing that team as well. And just really trying to figure out how to build together toward always trying to strive for like a more Equitable world where young people have access to the relationships that they need to thrive.
04:39 Am excellent. And I work in a very different environment. I work in the laboratory at the hospital, pride of that. I served in the military for five years and prior to that. I was studying to be a computer scientist which didn't turn out, which I'm glad it didn't. Since I really enjoy Hands-On work. So I love working in the laboratory. And I, it was very instrumental during the course of times too. And so, I'll have to say, I luckily did not lose my job that did not affect me. In fact, we're extremely dizzy and, and before that. I originally, I'm from Belarus former Soviet Union and the probably heard on the news that takes place. Now, unfortunately,
05:26 So, I'm praying that thinks settle down and have a get back to normal there.
05:33 But I grew up in the former Soviet Union like a mention and seen a lot of the
05:42 Problems, that came with socialism and
05:47 Just the hundred percent government control and National Medical Care. And so many other things that come along with socialism that we live through an 80s and up to the night was what kind of shape my belief now. And that's when I see certain things here that I may be trimmed into a socialism that what really alarms me. I am not stand up America store and socialist, but whenever there is a step towards that that is very concerning to me. And that's kind of what she ate mean. And that's why I would have been to fight as being a republican conservative because I flipped through the socialism. So another reason I wanted to talk to somebody because a lot of people may have a preconceived notion that if you are Republican conservative that you're automatically. Don't care about people, at least of things that I have heard that you automatically.
06:43 Not a nice person that you're racist and I just wanted to do.
06:49 Speak up and just be out there to let people know that me and other conservatives and Republicans that I do know, we are a very, very curious people that I do know, they're extremely kind, extremely loving. And I have absolutely no. And I never think that the people on the other side of any less than that either. So that's
07:13 Another reason why I really wanted to talk to somebody on the other side of the aisle.
07:18 I'm not as making an assumption, but I'm thinking you probably are on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders and that was right after his presidential run. So I imagine any he's Democratic socialists. Yeah, I don't know. I have to say that when we're running a running against Hillary. I was really hoping that Bernie would win. But maybe not. Because honestly, I would have been a hard having a hard time then. Not voting for Bernie Sanders because he is just so personable and just when he speaks really speaks from the heart. That's all I got to give him credit there. I really do.
08:05 How do you like to remind by the way, with cold chance? It's certainly, certainly a nice place to visit. I would not say I like live there, but it's, it's, it's own Universe at their. It really does feel like it's kind of a world apart from the rest of the United States. That was my experience with it anyway, but it was a it was interesting time to be there. Just because Bernie Sanders is like, you know, he's being Living Legends there. I mean everybody, and he hate what I think is really interesting to with
08:46 Being part of the political scene there when I was in that was like, you know, 2016-2017 was really when I was there and and involved with his office and he has the ability to attach for a lot of boats on both sides of the aisle. And that was always really, really interesting to see. I'm in Vermont, has a republican Governor. Grasso is able to capture both sides of the aisle and it's there. So it's really interesting political scene up there cuz there's still a lot of bipartisanship. Yeah, and I would expect you to. So what are you said? Your mom is on the way. My mother, my mother is she has a lot of choice words, that none of them are polite.
09:46 My friends and my father is a loyalist. So it's it's very it's it's challenging to balance and I will say that I'm, I am not a fan of Donald Trump because of the hit, like, because of the history of this country and I've done a lot more into that over the over recent Years, starting in college, but but also a lot of, a lot of kind of independent study coming out of college and just seeing the connection to white supremacy that he represents. And in seeing that bat that he has emboldened that part, which is always been here, but it's so much more
10:36 In our face and a sense. So, I think that that to me has been really challenging and in terms, which with my father, trying to try to start a relationship with him, has gotten harder as he's become more vocal. And I just, I feel like, I feel like the disconnect is that
10:55 He'll let me talk and he'll let me share where I'm coming from but he doesn't hear it. Like there's no, there's no sense of there's an open, this place of curiosity for four different ways of thinking of being in the world. If he's always on defense, it feels like and that's that's hard to really have a relationship that has been my challenge. But I feel like I'm doing a lot of talk to feel for your dad because a lot of people who are Trump supporters including myself.
11:37 I have never really been into politics too much and you are follow the news and I have my favorites and if they don't win, it's no big deal. Like kind of made me sad for a day and then I move on. So when the new scammed up Trump, and then I realize, and Trump is not going to be our next president was upset. I was
12:02 I was not just crying. I was weeping. I was Ballin. I was distraught. It was so much emotion. And I came home when I realized that he was not going to win. And I just send the car and just cried my eyes out. My husband came up and just wanted to see if it wasn't going to happen to the kids. And I can do is shake my head. The kiss, it took me about 10 minutes to be able to speak and and I said, it's up to you guys and I really thought about it and I said, why did I have so much emotion where I was crying out of control? And I do a lot of friends that are, that are conservatives that are also like your dad loyalists. Why did we have so much emotion to try to do this to me? He's just one, man. That's people make trees.
12:55 And started digging back further it because in the primaries, I actually was going for Ted Cruz and I have a telemarketer call me to urge me to vote for Trump. And I asked when she had a heavy Hispanic accent, which I thought was very interesting and I asked the lady, why? I know you can read the script, but I told her to tell me honestly, why are you volunteering right now making this phone calls? Why are you working for Trump? What the tribes you and she start for a good minute and then she just told me honestly, no, he's got kids and they turned out so. Well, he is such a good family, man.
13:35 And I thought about to let you know, that's, that's a good honest woman. And so going back to why I was crying so much. My emotions were so wrong because to me, he is man, who was a businessman. I need money. Really didn't need to get into politics. I know people can argue with me and I really don't see that way. I see him as somebody who will put a lot of the line just to do the best he can and he I felt like a lot of he got a lot of negative Flash and lot of negativity, all those you wholeheartedly wanted to do the good thing and I could see it. When I washed a set of the Union, if I was to mute everything and just listened to him, speak only him without any side. What side of the other telling me you were just listening to what he said, I could really see that he truly wholeheartedly wanted to do the right thing. He truly wanted to have with policies. That would do a make America great. I don't think there's anything
14:35 Absolutely, would love to be in an amazing country. I love this country. But I absolutely love this country. So I think that part of why I was crying so much is because I thought that he was not treated fairly fairly and I just thought he wasn't given credit for just trying so hard and I do believe that he had a lot of good colleges what without even getting into all that. But that's that was my emotion that I just wanted to share with you and I kind of think that your dad may still have a lot of emotion and that's why he feels a little bit on the side.
15:15 And I appreciate you sharing that and I had the first time that Trump was elected. I have the exact same experience as you, but in Reverse, when I saw that Clinton was Luke had lost. I actually was supposed to be in. I was going to go to the Bernie Sanders, office. The next morning early and so I couldn't stay up and watch the end of the results come in. But I do know Panic woke up at like, 3 in the morning and just knew I felt that something has shifted in the world and I looked at my phone and saw that the results have been confirmed and I just stopped for about 20 fingers, and seen all this negative things. We did this and that and
16:08 I just really wish that would take all this drug to the terms and just this offseason. Just try to resend people. I think we would have been a lot better off, in my opinion.
16:29 Well, I have to say I hope you're feeling better. Know I ate, it feels a little every day. I wake up and I'm like, how how am I going to make a difference today? How how can I make this better for? Cuz it mean we work with an impoverished, you send me work with black and brown, you a killer who are living in a world where, you know, they're not they don't have the same, got the Trump presidency was an escalation in the wrong direction of that. I was seeing how that was impacting these that we served and seeing that it was getting worse for them and not better. And so that was for me. That was the driving.
17:19 The driving piece of why isn't that. Of time? Just felt really like we were going in in the wrong direction. And I mean, I still, I mean by it is not the perfect candidate for me. I mean, it's there so much that, you know, it's like the Voting Rights bill, for example, I mean, they're not going to be able to make progress on that and that I mean just because I mean, I really want everybody to have that same access because then it's truly a competition of ideas. You have to have the better idea that to really win an election and I don't quite feel like this is going to set up that way at the moment and that's that's reaching back into our history and in the four hundred years of history that we've had that his franchise people disproportionately, you know, I bet that still lingers and is still very much present in some communities.
18:15 Now you it says you work was the newest and you Hennessy or they'd like teenagers or that young 20s or all of the service was focus on developing. I'm a mentoring program for you to where I think was 5 or 12. They were, they were all black use. They all lived in subsidized housing and their entire Community was, I think there was one blended family who had like a white mom and everybody else in the community was black. And I think what was hard and sad for me was how often I can see their families being asked, you know, what have you done wrong to end up here? And I just thought that was touched the wrong question. Because I want to I think that there were, you know, the systems that have been set up that
19:07 Cause them to get stuck there and not, it's not really at fault of their own. It's been something that's been kind of passed out and that they were born into, they would be inherited a place in society where they, they didn't have a Ford mobility and it just kind of have the family surgical stuck there. I know it reminds me of the throwing up when I was a teenager in the in Belarus and if it's all over the
19:39 The fact that you have that stagnation, like you said, you'd have that lack of opportunity. We have the system kind of set up where you really don't have the upper hand. We're obviously everybody's white there. So there's no race involved and here in America. You have a lot of
20:01 There's a lot there, a lot of
20:04 Places and Daniel's like yours, like a nonprofit organization that you helped that provide assistance food stamps. Do you have assistance of leaving all kinds of assistance, which is wonderful where I was going out. We had nothing. There was nothing. So basically if you are on the street, hopefully you when the restitution where you basically is going to like jail, you you put there but he'll try to find the neighborhood, a neighbor of family member that you can stand the couch for the basement or just going to go. A lot of people went into the woods literally and build houses and just so I can see where a lot of conservatives would say. Well, yes, you did maybe a assistant and we should collectively think of a way forward.
20:50 Not just keep handing people money. I would say but try to educate them. Try to show them a pass Way Forward the password to my my opinion, A lot of it has to do with education. I do actually agree. There should be some kind of deal or something. We're like Early Education is very, very critical like have milk. It's very important to get the first page 3272, which I know what's going to happen. It's a lot more complex than what I'm making it sound, but I'm trying to say is in the Soviet Union. We did not even have any programs that would even help remotely was slightly and
21:42 So I'm trying to understand if it would try to see from you since I'm not through the experience here. I'm just coming from my background and Just Hear What I Hear is, what do you think? We, as a society could do to help them. But also, you want to make sure that people are
22:01 And a person responsibilities too. So if you don't want to be just giving given the money money, money all the time, they want to be able to take responsibility and move on forward on their own as well. And I agree and I think one of the things that was really eye-opening for me when I was, you know, in that community and then meeting the people there was how hard they were trying to. I mean, they were taking financial literacy courses, you know, they were trying to see, you know. Save of course, you know, when we are saving on that scale takes a long time for them and how they could buy a house in, and what it would look like to save money for the kids to go to college. I mean they were all, you know, deeply invested in that kind of self-improvement. Peace. And I think they were just there's just a lot of barriers that that get in the way of being able to access that next step and that and especially when you know, you're spending your kids to school is better failing. And they're saying
23:01 Because so many of the kids are in poverty and they're bringing their hardships, and they're bringing all that to school with them. And in the teachers, you know, what can a teacher do with 30?
23:16 I think I think I saw that that I saw that Spirit of a desire, but just not having the past, having the opportunity. And I think one of the things that became very clear to me and I know it sounds crazy, but we almost need to, we need to, if you think of it almost in a reparations, kind of sense because he, because that community in particular would cut off from Building Wealth? The same way that my family was because I'm a white family. And, you know, I came from and other white folks who had the opportunity to own land much sooner than the black folks did in this country. And so, you know, if we gave see grants and we gave folks money for a down payment and they had the ability to start building equity and they have no access to free community college for example or something where they can get and then a job suddenly. They're living a very different life and they have at that point. They don't need any more government assistance because nobody truly
24:16 I have seen nobody wants to live on government assistance. That is the last thing, you know, that's because there's nothing else. There were no jobs anywhere near the community that I was volunteering in McDonald's. The last night. I came here as a teenager was nothing and I had to build it on my own and I'm not trying to keep you this to me, but I just know a lot of other people that may not also be white males to be black or brown that have also started at the bottom. Such as Ben Carson. I'm a big fan of town.
24:57 She is, as you know, I was very impoverished and still yet. He has built as you can see your education. He's got on his own so they really ties in. Where are you still have to have a lot of personal responsibility and people that come from other countries have come with nothing and they do, they don't have family or even money that anybody that really can leave the way and all their hand, or give them this or doing down payment. The way I look at it in the lot. Of course, I sympathize with them and I would have a problem with Stephen in the down payment as if it's as if it is. However, and it's not fair to somebody who has maybe white or Asian or Indian, dance. Well, why are people of color get into star payments? And she have an engine and I'm not being talked to him and I came with nothing.
25:53 So you can have that kind of an issue.
25:58 So what would you say to somebody like that was coming as an immigrant who had to build from scratch from nothing. And so you going to give money to somebody else? Nobody gave me down payment on a catch a favor for a long time. I did. And it took me another 10 years apart just to get to that point. No, I don't. I, I, I, I think it's impossible not to distill and simplify because we're talking about such complex things, but Christmas new on and you're definitely the nuances of poverty in America poverty in the world. I mean, it's a very nuanced situation and I've, you know, one of the other volunteers who was Jane national service, I was doing, she was, she was from Jamaica and she came here when she was fourteen. She had nothing and she very much resisted being lumped in with
26:58 African Americans. And, and kind of that, that history, she didn't want to be a part of that history. But of course, because she has black skin, you know, most Americans are going to love her in tonight. I mean, I should go there was, there was a, it was interesting to see that strong resistance in her and she had made a very similar argument to what you're making now, you know, she came with nothing, she had to build, you know, and then find a way to to make her life here. And I don't want to diminish that. I think that is an incredible thing. And I think some people have I think I want to be careful that sometimes there are exceptions, but that doesn't mean that we also shouldn't address with the system. You know, I think that there are exceptional people who can really build from nothing, but I don't think we can expect that from everybody if that makes sense.
27:58 Address. And I'm not saying that I know how to address it. I'm not saying that anybody truly knows how to address it in a way that the Equitable. But I know that as well as a white person who was, who is being born and raised in rule in Indiana and didn't really understand or know a black person until I moved here to Richmond, which is the capital of the Confederacy. I just need to get to that history. To me is is something that white people in my own family have tried to bury so deeply that to me I ate just that shapes. I think my view of this and Inwood, NY to me being in that housing community with predominantly black, you know, kids and families. And I think that you probably identified a blank spot for me that I'm really thinking of this more as black and white, and it's not black and white. I mean, are there other nuances to the situation? So I certainly have more learning and warm considering to do on this year.
28:58 Find parts and just seen it this way. It's very admirable. Thank you. When I
29:12 When I was on my way here to America and then it's not like a one day. I just decide to come to America was obviously you won't answer process for me to get the visa to come here. I envisioned this country as much as the land of opportunity, but
29:30 Land of goodness. Really? And you know, I was really surprised. It's not only was Linda opportunity. Is it the physical Goods? The car? It's really the people that really was really surprised how nice and kind people are and you know, you telling your story kind of brings that up to for me.
29:52 You know, where I come from you. Going to walk on the streets in the somebody is looking you in the eyes smile. And that usually means they want something from you and it's not going to be anything good. So you don't even have that eye to eye contact. Nobody would smile at you. Unless it's a gentleman was going to smile the young lady. That's the only time they're going to smile at you. So come and see American and everybody's just Pleasant and kind and then smile and that was just to make such a difference for me and I just really fell in love with this country and its people and no going out in the Soviet Union with her at all, kinds of bad things about America, how are capitalists and how they're all racist. And so when I came here it's it's it's really obviously was not even remotely close to what was described and
30:44 You know, we all obviously weren't brought up in this overtime, is this to everybody is equal. We need to treat everybody as equal and I see that she when I came here and I never saw anybody as black or white or Asian. So I was so the mess as people. So to me, it's it's
31:05 It's hard to.
31:08 Really look at them as African-American versus swipe versus Asians. So I like to look at people and its people as everybody having their own.
31:21 Their own heart, they're their own history. They're their own self to bring to the table. So,
31:29 It's really sad that is you said there is a system in place. I really don't really see if necessarily but maybe because I am.
31:38 Am I from another country? And I see things a little bit differently, but I do want to say that this is beautiful country was amazing people. And and I have to give you credit for a lot of that for your kindness and what you do for everybody. I kind thing for you to say that. I am very, I'm very curious. I want to know a little bit more about your background, but I think one of the things that kind of thing that I've learned before way, before I kind of dig into those questions with you, one of the things I've been doing a lot of self-reflection just over the past and every year and instruction before that to a degree. Just just about identity and how we all show up and and what does it mean to to be shaped by the things that were shaped by and take care of the identities that were carried by? And I think one of the things that I've really learned is that, you know, we all have so many of these so many facets. And we all, of course, carry them differently, but, for a lot of folks, their race has become such a core piece of their
32:38 Identity and I thank, you know, for me growing up. I didn't realize but I was like white until college. That was the first time I'd ever been really challenged to think about my racial identity and that way and so I think this is bad though. I think one of the other pieces that I've really been learning is how much there is to celebrate in the difference of our, what when we recognize and make space all ready to have the variety of identities. They have including their racial and ethnic identity. You know, I think that there's so much to celebrate and I think that because of the divisions and because of our history, I think that often gets lost. And I think that to me, that is what is tragic about our current state of things that we, we all can't truly show up the way we are. Because of all this, like Bagon,
33:38 That were carrying around 8. I think what you're saying it comes to my mind right now is I think what we need all of us is just more love. You don't want to it's just not even the little kids no matter what they asked me back on his just give them some love, teenager. Whatever trouble. I going to get doesn't matter. What color was just give them some love and show it to see them for who they are and just acknowledged for the yard. And I think if we talked more like you and I are talking and just just just give him some love and I think the world would be a better place instead of pointing fingers and blaming someone so. And I know there's always going to be government to blame for this and that and the system to blame for this new look of the world places like where I come from. You don't have anything in place and you can't really blame the white people.
34:38 It's just really to me. It's more of a class issue in my opinion and just
34:45 Just just like a glove, really like 11, like you said, understanding that we are all day for us. Even in Belarus for. Everybody's why do we still have a lot of diversity? Because everybody has a different background different parents, different views of the world. So, are you ride? That we should be, we should celebrate our diversity and differences of opinion. Yeah. Well, I'm curious and I, I hear something questionably. I put in a tattoo, but I'm also curious, cuz you brought up a class rather than the class being more of, a, of a driver or softer than race. I'm really curious. If you could talk more a little bit more about how how I think your background perhaps shapes that particular view. Yeah. So the question, do you, how do you fix a disc?
35:38 If I faced discrimination, no, I have not faced discrimination because I don't believe. So there was some
35:48 I'm inside of her but I never took them personally because I understand sometimes people tell you things. They don't need you. They may come from another than not trying to hurt you. And I think most people generally are in their hearts, the people they may just be going through something and I just
36:04 Not really have a good day that day. Then they tell you something that they don't mean to. But no, I have not faced discrimination and I'm starting to catch the second part of your question was reading this.
36:18 You talking to me like, the mighty, curious more, so about how it how it came about for you to kind of Conan Moore on the class this year versus versus race or versus seeing them as like part of the same. Because I think a lot of people that are impoverished, which just happens. Unfortunately to be more population. Sadly. It's just you see the same same problems that we had in my country. Although the worldwide for it was exact same issues that they're having here in the impoverished. So to me, it's not so much. I don't see it as a raise and it's not because I choose not to see it on the races. I just looked at a different person is a person that doesn't really matter.
37:09 But their skin color is, I just don't see it as a race problem. I see more of a class problem and the socio-economic problem.
37:19 Why will very politely and respectfully disagree? I think America works. I think I think Grace has been so baked into this, the building of this country that I think in America particular get some very interesting.
37:34 I don't want to say, like, microcosm of the world. It's any different from how other places often have formed. Because of that, very unique, very racialized history. And I think that that has created the modern American class system very much created out of the racialized, as well. We have until 1860s. So we did have slavery and it was white. People were enslaved, and we had two hours, but nobody ever brings it up. And then yeah. And yeah, because because of the lack of
38:14 Because it wasn't racialized in the same way. I can get it. It does get talked about it differently. I totally agree. I mean, I, I hear that my dad and it was always talking about the Irish Inn in the, the British in the conflict that happened between there. And I mean, it's, it's terrible anywhere. I think what's challenging is that we're still dealing with the legacy of it here in America, but we don't often want to talk about it. A lot of a lot of folks. The history isn't was taught. It's not, it's not just that fact that it's not either until then we can't make these connections and see policy through that lens and me. That's how I see it and going up in Indiana. That, that was my experience. Nobody ever talked about it. And I think that talking about it, so critical and so important for how we move forward. I also think having good education and just showing love and respect for people, is another ask for that. We can build that. Now the history we should talk about history. We also learn from history.
39:14 Going forward with what we already know. Sometimes I just feel like we're going in circles again. This is my opinion that we miss you and it's kind of what? I kind of feel like. Well, yes, we already heard this, we learn from it and let's, let's, let's move on forward. Let's just let's just give some heart and some love to each other and just let stuff on forward and put the anger behind. I just wish we would the anger behind that is all I really hope for from this country to the ones and just love this country and not be ashamed to say that I'm an American and then I'm proud of him in American. So that's that's my take away from that as soon as we do need to look at each other with love and respect and be proud of who we are. And love everybody.