Jul 15 • 1HR 24M

Theory of Change #079: Ty Ross on race, religion, and the Black Republican experience

In the first of the mini-series "Why I Left:" How much does personal trauma shape political identity?

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Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big and devoted many resources to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change can be negative as well as positive. In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology.
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This episode is the first of a new ongoing series called “Why I Left,” which is going to be based on conversations with people who left political or religious movements. And the first are going to be free to everyone, but going forward, most of this series is going to be an extra benefit for paid subscribers.

We're going to start the Why I Left series with a conversation with my good friend Ty Ross, she is an author and journalist and podcaster who is the cohost of the “Pardon the Insurrection” podcast, and she also wrote a book called The Power of Perspective under the pen name T. R. Armstrong.

More importantly for this conversation, however, Ty was born and raised as a Black Republican and has a lot of personal insights on that experience and how, at least in her case, her political identity was just as much a matter of psychology as it was ideology.

The video of our conversation is below. A machine-generated transcript of the edited audio follows.



MATTHEW SHEFFIELD: Welcome to Theory of Change, Ty.

TY ROSS: Hi, thank you for having me, Matt.

SHEFFIELD: All right. Well, so let's [00:02:00] get started at the beginning here. So you're originally from North Carolina.

And your father was a preacher, but I'll let you take the story from there. Tell us, how did your parents meet and what was their background and all that?

ROSS: Well, my parents, they met when they were young.

They were both teenagers when my mother had me. They didn't stay together. My father got together with my stepmother shortly after. My grandfather was a pastor in Charlotte. So he had founded two churches. And at that point, my father had, was born again and got saved and went into, into the profession and married my stepmother.

So his views were separate from my mother's in that instance, because my father was so involved in the church.

SHEFFIELD: And what denomination was this?

ROSS: Pentecostal. Pentecostal.

SHEFFIELD: Okay, just non-denominational Pentecostal?

ROSS: Pentecostal is it's like Baptist, but a bit more extreme. This was just straight up Pentecostal. I guess maybe the closest would be what they consider to be a holiness church. Similar to COGIC [Church of God in Christ] kind of, but it was church almost seven days a week in a sense.

There was Bible study, there was children's church, there was regular church, there were revivals. When we weren't at our home church, we visited churches or other churches were visiting us. So it was just everything revolved around the Bible, the church-- very strict, we couldn't listen to secular music, so popular.

As I got older, popular bands and groups, I had no idea when my friends were going to concerts or singing popular songs. I'd never heard of them, so I was kind of looked at a little bit as a freak, because I had no idea of what was going on in popular culture.

SHEFFIELD: Now, did you know that yourself that people thought you were weird because you didn't know that stuff?

ROSS: Well, yeah, because kids [00:04:00] are cruel and kids don't really hold back.

And I did have other friends whose fathers were pastors, but they weren't extreme. Like they, they drove flashy cars and they were, they kind of had everything that they wanted. And I, in my mind, I remember thinking, well, like. They worship God. So like, what's the, what's the difference? Her father's a pastor. Like, why is it that, women shouldn't wear pants? Or why is it that listening to this song and, and they weren't songs that were explicit or anything like that. Just, they just weren't singing the gospel.

It was under the reasoning that if you're going to sing, it needs to be to praise the Lord. If you're going to dance, it needs to be dancing for the Lord. So that was the whole, everything revolved around God. Your life was not your own. It belonged to serving the Lord. Everything that you, everything that you do.

SHEFFIELD: And that was on your, with your dad's environment. Now, how was your mom? What was her sort of viewpoint on all that stuff?

ROSS: My mother she was Methodist. So there was church and there was service on Sundays. There was, you pray before you eat, you pray before you say your prayers before you go to bed.

And I was thinking about the prayer the other day. I don't know why it was just going through my head. And I was like, why am I thinking about this? But. That, but that was the extent of it because they love to listen to music and have a good time and, mingle with people have people over.

So it wasn't, it was strange because I couldn't really understand, there was no one to explain to me the difference between Methodist and Pentecostal. And if you all believe in God, Islam. And you're a good person, then everyone should be going to heaven. It shouldn't matter what pants I'm wearing and what, and just kind of my questioning that didn't make my dad very happy.

And it was rough when [00:06:00] I had to live with my father. It was really, it was hard, but it left a really big impression on me.

SHEFFIELD: Because how old were you when you did for that time,

ROSS: Was I eight or nine, eight or nine years old? And, for myself, I didn't have a lot of friends. I think I had like one, one friend, like I said, everything revolved around the church, but I did have questions because I did have two different influences in my life.

So I had something to compare it to. And I've always been kind of inquisitive and just kind of wanted to know, but also as a child. You want to please your parents and you want to be accepted. So I found myself going through the motions of things when I was with my father, learning when they would do things like altar calls.

And that's when they would say, okay, if you're a sinner and you're ready to give your, come on up here to the altar. And they would put their hands on your forehead and tears streaming down people's faces and falling to their knees. And I was the daughter, the granddaughter at that time, my father was then just a minister in the church.

So every week I felt obligated to go up there, and pretty much put myself up there in front of the church. And I remember once trying to just sit and see what happens. Like maybe they'll just kind of forget about me. And my stepmother was in the choir. So she's looking down and then, my father's sitting up on the men's side I was like, yeah, I've got to get up.

I've got to get out. But that was my way of just kind of staying in the family's good graces and being the good, the good daughter, so to speak, because I mean, literally my father, my stepmother, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, everyone was in that church. So there was really no [00:08:00] nowhere to go, nowhere for me to kind of voice my concerns or just really ask questions without being chastised because it was basically, if you're asking questions, you're going to hell because you don't have faith in that, that was it.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Okay. Well, so that was your childhood kind of being torn in both directions in some ways and a lot of confusion sounds like, right?

ROSS: Yeah, absolutely.

SHEFFIELD: So, okay. So once you became an adult, what happened next with that?

ROSS: Well, when I became an adult, I, well, my stepfather was Catholic.

And I found solace in the Catholic church. It wasn't as crazy and wild. And I, it's so I clung to the Catholic church, and I'd still consider myself a Catholic, but. It was like I was running away from the extreme nature of my father's church. And I felt some, a more forgiving church in the Catholic church.

So I held onto that. And at one time I was actually very devout as an adult. I went to daily mass in the mornings. I went to mass on Sundays. I went to retreats. I would do all of the high Holy days. I wanted to be the best Catholic that I. Could be. And I threw myself full, full force into that.

It was kind of also a part of like where I was with my political views at the time. Just starting in high school was where I started to formulate more opinions about things going on in the world. Like, Ronald Reagan had a profound impact when he was elected as somebody who's been in debate and student council.

As an orator, he draws me in, and he was a brilliant [00:10:00] speaker. He had a way of speaking and it felt like he was speaking to me. And we didn't have social media at the time. We just saw what we saw on our non-cable, TV news and whatever came on. And he seemed to be someone that wanted to continue to move this country forward, and I wanted to be a part of that.

And I was not impressed with the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons. I felt, they felt clownish to me. Now, I had a tremendous amount of respect for Thurgood Marshall. I was very proud that he sat on our, on our Supreme Court. And I know that he was a, an advocate for social justice, but I also know that he was a conservative man.

He wasn't some crazy, crazy liberal. And I know that my mother went to see Reagan speak. So that validated my following and him like, okay, my mom supports him and her not being very extreme. It was easy, easier for me to kind of slip into that. And then I just kind of found myself gravitating towards conservative views.

And just kind of mixing my background, all of it, just all of it kind of coming together. Just kind of mixing my background and. I didn't realize that I was a Republican, but I knew that I liked certain people and certain what certain people said more than others. And they tended to be of a particular, and then that was just, yeah.

SHEFFIELD: Now, did you have any political discussions with your high school friends or anything like that? Or not really?

ROSS: When I got into high school and I got into student council and debate, I did, and I would.

SHEFFIELD: And was your school like, what was it primarily White or primarily Black or kind of a mix?

ROSS: Well, I was here in El Paso, [00:12:00] which is predominantly Hispanic, but I did have the school that I went to because of a lot of military parents, there were more Black people there.

And I found myself not agreeing with a lot of what the Black people had to say about things. And I would just kind of listen to them. I was a supporter of the Second Amendment, and I really spent a lot of time focusing on the Second Amendment. Looking back now, I was probably a bit irrational about it, how I clung to it.

And I don't even know why I've never held a gun. Never seen one in person, but for some reason I felt like to be a good American and I needed to support that, that the Second Amendment, it was like, I was indoctrinated that you had to support that above. Every other amendment to be a good American, if that makes any sense.

And not as extreme as the GOP is today but was a part of who I was. And I don't want to say branding, but I did in a sense, brand myself, I guess you can say for lack of a better word, I had branded myself, this is what I feel. This is what I believe, but I had conviction in the things that I was saying.

I would read about them. I would read about people in history, and I wanted to know, and I wanted to be firm when I was having discussions with people. And when I was on the debate team, there was a girl who was really militant, like Black militants. And we were partners when we did cross sex debate.

So that was interesting because she was completely opposite of me. And she was like the person that introduced me to Nikki Giovanni. And she, she was really, really like Black Panther, but looking back, she was really fascinating, but, [00:14:00] like I said, I was very strong in what I believed in I believed in the right to life, I believed in the Second Amendment, I followed the guidelines for what I thought was going to be the path that was going to separate me so that I wasn't lumped in with every other Black person at that time.

I remember wanting to run as far away as I could from Jesse Jackson and a lot of it. Also, my father couldn't stand him. My father hated him, and he never had anything nice to say about him. And though I was not as extreme as my father, I still wanted to have something. That was something that we had in common.

So my father and I, as I got older, we would talk about politics, if there was a speech when I remember when Jesse Jackson was running for president my father and I would have conversations and whatnot. And so it really, it shaped me more my political than my religious with my father in that aspect, because that was something I couldn't join him on the religious thing because it was just too, too much for me.

But on the political aspect, we bonded and that was something that I wasn't able to have with him when I really couldn't understand. It felt fake when I lived with him because, like I said, I was going through the motions. But not really feeling it in his church. So, there wasn't really the kind of connection that I wanted to have with him.

So, with the politics thing, we had a real true something in com truly something in common. A real bond, and I clung to that as well. And that could also be, me not, living with my mother most of my life. And her moving around, and we moved around. So that was my way of being my father's daughter, [00:16:00] something he could be proud of,

SHEFFIELD: know, connection with him.


ROSS: yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, so the idea though of kind of being different or differentiating yourself from the other Black people that you knew, like that was a, there was an impulse, something you felt very strongly. Why did you feel that way, do you think?

ROSS: It was, I think it also had to do with, I was bullied a lot, when we were growing up and we lived in, of course, at that time there, I mean, there's still segregation, but you know, I went to a predominantly White school, but I live in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

And my grandfather had a third-grade education. He grew up in the tobacco fields in North Carolina. So for him, reading was really important. And I like dinosaurs, as a kid, and he said, for every book you bring home on what you like, you need to bring home a book on like Black history. And I learned about Jim Crow and for me, I saw how far we'd come, and I had some pride in that, but I had in my In my mind, I felt like we could go so much further.

It was kind of an assimilation mindset for, I guess, if that makes any sense. Like, because I was bullied, because I liked to read, because I didn't speak slang or, what have you, and kids would say, oh, you speak be White. You sound White and this and that. And when I would get on the bus and go, 45 minutes to my predominantly White school, I was accepted.

I was celebrated to a certain degree. My teacher, Oh, you're so smart. I started getting awards and this, and that felt good. It was a validation that I wasn't getting from my own community. And. That was like, I don't want to [00:18:00] be in this community, had to be treated this, to be treated this way, it didn't really make sense to me.

So I just kind of started drifting more and it wasn't that I wanted to be raped or anything. I mean, that, that can't happen, even if I wanted to, but I wanted to be in a space that I considered to be safe. And I wanted to be where someone wasn't going to beat me up, take my lunch, knock me around or whatever.

When I was at home, I couldn't really play outside a lot of times because the kids were chasing me around and wanting to fight me all the time. But when I was at school, I'd go have recess and no problems at lunch and my teachers were great and, and everything. And so started shaping my thought process on community acceptance.

And I opened my mind and made myself more susceptible to going down that road as a, as a conservative. And I found that when I would tell people that I was, they seemed impressed. And that was another validation. It's like, okay, they like this and they're being nice to me and I'm getting special treatment.

Or better treatment. Yeah, this is, this must be the way to go. And because I was Black and conservative, most of those spaces were White. So that would be who I gravitated my friendships to. That would be who I gravitated my friendships to as well. And so, and that just kind of, just said it became second nature to me.

If they said this, then I would say that, well, no, and it was just a kind of that kind of thing. But I did believe it though. It wasn't, I wasn't acting, I wasn't playing. I really did in my heart of hearts, believe the [00:20:00] things that I was saying. And I remember in college, I had started at community college, and I had this hippy dippy teacher and she had gone through some marriages.

Just got her degree and so she was really proud of herself, and I was proud of her too, but I remember we had to do a paper on the movie The Unforgiven and I wrote my paper about what I thought about it, and it was really heavily pro two way. I didn't really think about that at the time, but there was a lady in Texas who she had, she was a teacher and she had been like carjacked or something. And she was taken into the woods, and she had a tape recorder, and they recorded the whole thing. And I remember saying in the paper, well, if she was packing a gun instead of a tape recorder, she'd still be alive.

And I probably just sounded like Lauren Boebert right now, a little disgusting, but that was what I put in the paper. And I didn't think anything about it. And we're in class and the teacher's walking around and she's giving papers back out. And then she looks at me and she goes, you, and she points at me directly.

And she goes, you, you are a militant. And I remember being, and everyone looks at me. I went through this phase where I would wear these. Texas style, big bangs with a big bow and like these flower dresses, like Little House on the Prairie style. She goes, you come in here with your bows and your hair and your flower dresses.

She goes, you are a militant. And she's pointing and everyone just turns and looks because I was pretty quiet in classroom, in the classroom. And they're like, what? Her? Like they couldn't wrap their head around that. At that time. At that point, I knew I was a Republican because someone told me in high school when we were doing a mock court in DC, it was like the Congressional Youth Leadership Conference.

And we got to meet our senators and we got to do like a little fake debate and like to make a bill and [00:22:00] legislation and stuff. And I've just remembered us debating and one of the guys who goes, you're a Republican, right? I was like, cause you're a Republican. And from that point, I realized that I guess I am, and then I identified as such.

And, when I first registered to vote, I registered Republican. My first vote was for Bob Dole. I really didn't know a whole lot about Bob Dole, but I knew he wasn't Bill Clinton, and he wasn't a Democrat. So I was a Republican. So I needed to, vote Republican.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and now one thing that you and I have talked about before this was the idea of colorism.

ROSS: Yes.

SHEFFIELD: That might have played a role in your political view formation as well. So for people who don't know what colorism is, maybe define it first and then talk about it in your own experience, please.

ROSS: For me, What colorism is which is prevalent in the Black community. It's the uplifting of those that have features that are closer to being White, even if you're not White, even if you're a brown skin like myself, but you know, your cheekbones are a little higher, your hair's a little straighter, your nose is a little skinnier.

That's considered more attractive, even if that person isn't more attractive, it's the color of their skin that's attractive. And as I got older, and I was able to listen to secular music and it was reinforced in the rap videos. It was reinforced in the magazines. It was reinforced on the television, et cetera.

And I was a lot darker when I was younger than I am now. Looked more like my father. My nose was a lot broader. I had a gap in my teeth. I was always considered a pretty girl, but my mother was considered beautiful. My mother had lighter skin. My mother had a really thin nose and like [00:24:00] perfect lips.

And my friends would always say, how attractive my mother was, how attractive my mother was, and it really already as a young girl, you have issues with self-esteem and self-worth. And so when you're not being validated for who you are. In all spaces, like not just in one space, but literally every space you go, you internalize that and that makes you feel like, okay, then I guess this is what is the standard, this is what, but short of bleaching my skin I will never, I can't have that.

So I clung even more to, I want to say, like, just kind of my beliefs and setting myself apart because that was validation for me. Validation that I got from the outside for my wise political views. I was applauded for, wow, you're so smart because I was cosigning their points of view.

SHEFFIELD: You were repeating back to them the things that they believed.

ROSS: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it probably played a role in my first husband was a White man, from Arkansas, like a town of 2, 000 people. He'd never seen a Black person till he went in the army, like in person.

But he was in the, he had, he was in the military. He'd just gotten back from the Gulf war, but he found me attractive. And because living on the border here, you have a lot of mixed relationships. You have White and Black, Black and White, and also military. So you also have a lot of Hispanic, Hispanic, White, Hispanic, Black. So a lot of the girls that were in my school were half Hispanic, half Black.

So they had the aesthetic that Black men found attractive that had been reinforced in their mind of what they should find attractive. A lighter skinned woman whose hair is different. Yeah, exactly. And so I got looked over [00:26:00] a lot and I think now, I'm pretty confident in myself. I think I'm okay.

But when you're 14 and you want to go on a date, I threw myself into the bait and the, and other things too, but he found me attractive. And so that was nice. So that, that was another. Reinforcement of, okay, you are on, okay, this is your, and he was a conservative person. He didn't believe in abortion.

He didn't believe in divorce. I mean, his mother cried when we separated, like they really put the full court press on me. And it's so, it's like looking back because his sister lived in Oklahoma and I will never forget, we took a drive up to see her genie. She's from the home of Garth Brooks, actually is where she lived.

And her husband was a truck driver and I'm pretty sure a racist and, but we went bowling and we hung out with them, and they were really, really pleasant and welcoming. And even they didn't want us to get a divorce, and I realize now that I have some perspective and clarity. I can look back and see they didn't see me as Black

and it was easier for them to accept me because I shared. their views. So they could accept their brother marrying a Black girl because I wasn't a Black girl.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, yeah, because basically, I mean, the framework seems to be that you, you can be White, you can be Christian, or you can be a Republican, or all three of those things.

Like, you have to be one of those, at least one.

ROSS: Yeah.

SHEFFIELD: In order to be okay. Or to be a real American in the views of a lot of people, it seems like.

ROSS: [00:28:00] Absolutely. And I found that my Republicanism allowed me to move in spaces that I might would have experienced more, not that I hadn't experienced any discrimination, but might would have experienced more had I not been.

Because I was able to have a conversation if there was a news event and I learned how to start a conversation with someone. A White person, if I was somewhere and there's, the TV in the cafe or whatever, and a news story or commercial or something comes on and I make a comment that resonates with them.

And then all of a sudden, they perk up and they want to have a conversation with me and they, someone that maybe never have ever talked to a Black person before or even wanted to, I thought we won't have anything in common.

Which is a lot of judgment of people, and it goes in all aspects, all races, all cultures that I wouldn't have anything in common with them. So I'm just not going to bother.

So when there was a discovery that there was something all of a sudden, I was more desirable. I was more attractive to them. And I attracted a lot of White men in my life with my Republicanism a lot. And I started, you start to notice those types of things. You start to realize, and if you're in a situation that's maybe uncomfortable, you learn how to get yourself out of it.

Well, if I say the right things, I say this, I say that I'll be able to finesse my way out of this uncomfortable situation and let them know that I'm not a threat. And that was another thing. It was really important for me not to be seen as a threat. I never wanted to be [00:30:00] seen as so that they would be on their guard.

I didn't want any barriers. I wanted to have an open opportunity to really do whatever I wanted, go where I wanted and have the best experience possible. I didn't want to be mistreated. I didn't want to be discriminated against. So how can I, what can I do, what can I say to ensure that I won't be mistreated?

SHEFFIELD: And then of course there was another experience that you had that was a lot more horrible that probably had an impact on you as well. You want to talk about that?

ROSS: Yeah. Yeah, we can talk about that. When I was 12 years old, I, around 11 or 12, I started to grow into my looks a little bit, I guess you can say. And people started finding me more attractive in some aspect. And you could tell by the way that they looked at me. Men, grown men in particular.

And I wanted to be attractive, like my mother was, and it was nice. It was uncomfortable, but it was, it also felt good, if that makes any sense. And I would be invited places with some of the older kids and I would hang around and what have you and going house parties and stuff like that.

And I remember 1 day, I went to a little house party, I guess, something like that. And a kid that was in my class, well, I wouldn't even call him a kid because he was like 17.

And he was in like 7th, 8th grade. But his name, I'm not going to say it. I don't want to get you sued.[00:32:00] He said, hey, come here, I want to show you something.

And so I go, and there was like a room in the back, and I go in and there's another guy who I saw in the neighborhood. He was older. He was 23. I won't say his name either. And they grabbed me, and they threw me down on the whatever bed couch. I can't remember. And one was holding my arms down and the other was pulling my pants down to have sex with me.

And it was painful. It was rough. There was not full penetration, but it was still rape. But someone started coming down the hall and then I remember them just kind of like throwing me off to the side and then running out. And here I am pulling up, pulling up my pants, trying to process what the hell just happened to me and what was going on.

And when I went back to school, things were different. I was being treated differently. Unbeknownst to me, the rumors had spread that I had sex with two guys. That was what they went around like, like I hadn't even had the chance to tell anybody, a friend or anybody what had happened to me. And like I said, I was still processing this.

And then all of a sudden, my entire life had changed, like literally overnight for something that was beyond my control. So then the eating disorder started and that kind of became my release to try to get a handle on things. But. It also, the lack of power that I felt, I didn't want to feel anymore. So I wanted to grasp at things and, looking back, whether it was [00:34:00] my politics or whether it was a, whatever it was, I was looking for something to separate me from that person.

I needed to rebrand myself, so to speak, even at that point.

SHEFFIELD: You needed to be in control.

ROSS: Yeah, absolutely. And I had no control. I was a teenager, I was a teenage girl. So yeah, so it would lead me in a lot of ways. I was searching. So, like I said, looking back in retrospect, I can really tie everything, every choice that I made into that person I was and looking for control.

I didn't want my community to control who I was. You can't tell me I have to like Jesse Jackson just because I'm Black. I'm going to like who I want to like, and I like Ronald Reagan, so I'm going to like Ronald Reagan. Or you can't tell, everything became that. You can't tell me that I have to go to your church, Dad.

I'm going to be Catholic, because I like being Catholic. So I'm going to be Catholic, and I'm going to be the best damn Catholic, and I threw myself, into that. I don't have to marry a Black man. I can do what I want. I'm going to move in these spaces and what have you. So that's it.

Just that one experience. It shaped the rest of my life because every choice that I made was predicated on me not wanting to feel like I wasn't in control of my life and myself.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, well, and yeah this-- yeah, it's deep. And I appreciate you having the courage to be able to talk about it at this point. It's still very personal.

ROSS: Yeah, yeah, I almost teared up a little bit. But yeah, it is.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah well, and it's and I think that that's it is something that people who haven't had an up close contact with a lot of people who are Black Republicans, that they don't get that that there are a lot of things that are different and [00:36:00] make you want to be different, to differentiate yourself from everybody else.

And it can be something that is exploited by political consultants at the top end of things, all the way down to just regular people who are just like, well, this is a Black person who is actually a real person because she's Republican.

ROSS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You become; I remember.

And I think I told you this, when I was working at a club that I was hired at, and they had never had a Black girl and I was actually recruited from a previous club that I worked at, because they didn't have any Black girls and they saw me and they're like, she's Black but she's not really Black.

And they literally said that to my face, he goes, well, the girls that the Black girls that come in here and audition, they're like, they're real Black girls with like big butts and stuff. But I was kind of, I was small then, didn't have much up here or down there, but you know, but I spoke the way that was acceptable to them.

I looked in a way that was acceptable to them. And they wanted to have me there. And I was eager to be there. It was nice to be wanted. It was nice to be considered deserving. But it sounds sad, and it was looking back, but that's exactly the word it felt. It was good to feel deserving of being asked there.


ROSS: I didn't have to go and apply there. They came looking for me. They came looking for me. So being chosen in that aspect. And then of course, these were clubs that were predominantly White customers as well.[00:38:00] They still, North Carolina, they discriminated then, it was early, early nineties, what, like 93.

But they seem to get a kick out of my vocabulary and my vernacular, because I didn't speak in slang, but nobody in my house did. And we lived in the hood when I was growing up, but like I said, my education was important for my grandfather and just being well read and everything. And I loved books.

So, you pick up what you're around. And I wasn't around a lot of that. So, but yeah, but they seem to really get a kick out of it and now I'm embarrassed, but then I didn't think they were denigrating me.

I thought they were complimenting me, when my manager said, come here, come here. And that's, well, then I went by the name Dallas, Dallas. I was like, I'm from Texas. So went by the name Dallas, but it was like, hey, and they would ask me to repeat a sentence or say something. And I'd say it and they go, see, she puts the G on the end of her words. And then they were--

SHEFFIELD: Almost like you were their pull-string puppet kind of.

ROSS: Yeah. And there was a Black person that worked in the club besides me. My apologies, the shoeshine guy. No bullshit. And the shoeshine man was Black, and there was me, those were the two, the two Black people in the entire club.

But I learned to stay away from Black men that came inside the club because it didn't matter if the guy was a hundred years old, if a Black guy came in and I sat and talked to them, it was, 'That's your boyfriend, is that your boyfriend? I don't want to get in trouble here. I don't want your,' that was just an automatic thing.

So I had to wanted to talk to everybody. And I remember I would get comments [00:40:00] from Black guys that would come in and them not really understanding, like, this is my living that I'm making here, and it's really not about you, but it's about my livelihood.

And this is how people think and this is how, so I can't, I just can't, spend time with you for 10 or 20 sitting and chatting, even if the conversation is great, because it may cost me 2 or 300, so. That became kind of awkward and it just kind of, I got a lot of side eye, and I deserved it, but I was being practical at the time.

And like I said, you, you, you calculate things, you watch, I'm a watcher. I watch how people engage, how people interact. I watch what people say. And I modify my behavior accordingly so that I can get done what I need to get done, regardless of, of what that is, but I've also been on the receiving end of that same thing.

I worked at beauty control cosmetics in Dallas, and I was a receptionist and the only other Black person in the company was the vice president. And he used to work for Mary Kay. He worked in research and development, and he would not talk to me. He would kind of ignore me there. And so I, I kind of picked up on that.

He was probably going through the same thing that I was being the only Black person in a White space and also being in his executive position as well. But I was getting asked to lunch all the time by. The old perverts, the White ones, in the company that worked upstairs to him. I actually went to lunch with a couple of them.

But they'd come down and they'd chat. Just the, just the chat with the pretty Black girls sitting down at the desk. And they would come, and they'd talk, and they'd go by my desk. I don't know how many times. Times a day and [00:42:00] whatnot, but I mean, I didn't, I didn't fault him, what have you, but also if he had spoken to me, I guarantee everyone in that company would have thought we were having an affair.

Like if he was spending the kind of time with me, he's Black and I'm Black. I have zero doubt that would have been the natural assumption.

SHEFFIELD: Because all Black people know each other

ROSS: Exactly.

SHEFFIELD: And so, and, and they also know each other in the Biblical sense.

ROSS: White guys, they're not thinking they're in their mind. Well, she's Black, then he's not attracted to her because some people think like that too, because like when I was working in clubs, I remember girls getting upset if I was making money and they were just like, you're the only Black person in here.

You're making all the money. And I'm like, yeah, that's kind of the point because some guys kind of like Black women. It's kind of their kink, their fetish or whatever. So that also put me in a position to kind of have my own customer base because there were those that that was their way of kind of, because in their mind, they don't know where they're going to run into a Black woman or want to, so they were able to come and talk and, and that would always be the same thing.

SHEFFIELD: And things also were different in the early 90s with regard to interracial dating. It was just extremely uncommon, even back then. I mean, hell, they even made a movie about it in the late 90s called something, I guess it was early 2000s or late 90s, I forget called Something New, where there was a Black woman and a White man who got together, and it was something strange.

That was the subtext of that movie. It was that everybody thought it was weird.

ROSS: Well, you know what? Because when, when people think about interracial relationships, it's been historically Black man, White woman. So while there have been, of course, we wouldn't have Loving v. Virginia if not, but there have been, but not, they've been rare.

Not as common.

SHEFFIELD: So, seeing and that, by the way, statistically speaking, sorry, [00:44:00] was, is that when you look at people who do date outside of their own race heterosexually, male, female, Black men are the most likely to date outside the race, and then Black women are the least likely to date outside of their race.

ROSS: Yeah, Black women would rather be single than a lot of them. Because they're just not, my friend Stephanie, my best friend, she just is not attracted to White men. Or Mexican, she's not attracted to any other race but Black. That's it for her. And I know a lot of women like that that if they can't find that Black man of their dreams and they would just be single date, whatever and then hang with their girlfriends.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And there are some Black feminists who argue that that's another example of racism in that Black women are expected to stay home and keep the fire burning, but Black men are not expected to do that. It's like sexism and racism combined.

ROSS: Yeah, it is. a lot of Black men I've had tell me that they don't date Black women.

I've had a lot of friends that are Black that are male that tell me why they don't like Black women or why they don't date Black women. They feel comfortable to tell me because they know that I don't care number one, and number two that I date outside of my race, but I date all races, but they'll have these conversations, and they feel so comfortable having these conversations with me about how awful Black women are.

And, but they don't, as same as, like I said, they, the White people didn't see me. They don't see me as the typical Black girl in their minds, which is what they would say, though we were not dating. We were just real, just close friends or whatever, but they don’t see me that way. And there's a lot of that in the Black community.

So like he gave me that, he gave me that vibe of when somebody, there's [00:46:00] something they don't, they like, but they don't want to like it. And it makes them mad. So they get mad at the thing that they like that they don't want to like, like that was, that was how I felt, that was how I felt. And, but it was so, it was, and, and I kept in my mind, I had to go inside because I was like, I don't feel safe around this guy because something just, he just, that kind of energy, that kind of aggressive energy, I was like, I would never be alone with this person like ever, ever, with this person.

And then having been being a survivor of sexual assault, I'd like to keep my space if I feel some uncomfortable or aggression, especially from, or really from any man, but particularly a Black man too. Yeah.

But it's, it's so incredibly, I don't know. I think about so many things now. And I, and it's like, I can pinpoint things along the way.

It was like, yeah, I can see how that played a part, like leading me up to where I am now, which is I'm almost on the opposite extreme end of the spectrum. My ex-husband said when Rush Limbaugh died, I remember you would listen to him every single day. Which I did.

And he was on the EIB network, and I'll never forget because of their stupid commercial. That's what he called it.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. It was literally just his show.

ROSS: It was Rush because he was in the, like, when I was going to call it, like in the afternoons, but there was a judge, Dr. Laura. Laura Schlesinger.

My dad loved her.

SHEFFIELD: Who was racist.

ROSS: Absolutely. My dad thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He had all her books. He had, he really did. But it was G. Gordon Liddy, and then it was Rush, and then it was Dr. Laura. And I would listen all day. I would listen to all of their blogs. Every day, because [00:48:00] I remember.

G Gordon Liddy had this calendar packed and stacked, and it was girls in bikinis with guns because he was always hawking it on, on his thing, on his show. And I can't believe I'm Jesus. But yeah, I listened every day and I thought, and that was the first time I remember the first time I ever heard Rush say feminazi.

When he would talk about Hillary Clinton and he would talk, and I was, and it's, and it's so weird because I could go inside and into my classes and have an open mind, like I really enjoyed, but I was also an economics major. So it wasn't a whole lot of, but yeah, I,

I did it. My grandmother listened to Rush until he died, even when he went. All the way off the deep ends, like, because, he used to be a fricking radio, the host. So, when he first started, he had his right wing, but it wasn't as crazy as when he really got, crazy. When it was like, yeah, I can't to this guy, but my grandmother, my dad would say.

Rush said today, or I was listening to Rush today, or my grandmother, Rush mentioned Fox stayed on 24 seven at my dad's house. If they weren't watching like a movie or something, it was on Fox all the time.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and unfortunately that is how a lot of elderly people's television is set to.

It's almost like, yeah, if, if they had a cathode ray tube, the old-style TV would have like the Fox logo burned in the corner when they turn it off.

ROSS: Yeah, yeah. But you know, even like way, way back, Fox. wasn't that bad. [00:50:00] Like I was watching a segment that they did on Black history that wasn't mentioned and they were bringing up all of these things and having an actual real discussion about why those things weren't taught.

And, and I was like, this is Fox. Wow. They were, they were kind of sane then, but I think that was the hook is that it was a little. More conservative for the more conservative folks and Blacks included because like I said, it is the South and then the religious people, but the little upticks in extremism kind of go unnoticed.

It's like I can look at my son now and see, wow, he's so tall, but it didn't happen overnight. He started small and, but he was always growing, it was just kind of, Like that. And then before you know it, you're radicalized. Even if you are Black, you can find yourself getting to that, to that point.

And it wasn't even until my dad, until my dad got COVID. Well, really it was after George Floyd's murder because my dad, he called me and he goes, Oh, your stepmother and I are going to a protest. And I remember thinking, what? protest. He was like, yeah, we're going to a George Ford. And I was floored because I had started to in 2020.

Well, even before that, a little, I'm going to say maybe 2018 started to evolve in my views a bit. And so when I would talk to my dad,

SHEFFIELD: Trump related at all; do you think was that Trump related?

ROSS: Not instantly. Because I thought he was a whole mess and when he was elected, I thought we would suffer through it with his idiocy, but the people that he would surround himself with good people, and we [00:52:00] would be okay. And then he would get to say, I was the president and just move on and go back to, hosting beauty pageants or whatever. But when I started to see certain things, when I started to see him rolling back certain legislation. That, even though I was a Republican and I was, pretty staunch in my beliefs, but I did still have my own mind.

I knew Newt Gingrich was trash. I was cognizant enough to know that Jesse Helms was a racist. I didn't make excuses, but I knew he was a racist. I knew that. So I was still cognizant.

I also knew that Clarence Thomas, I believed Anita Hill. I watched those hearings. I thought he was a horrible choice to replace Thurgood Marshall.

I, I just I knew, and I believed Anita Hill and I was glued to the television, and I thought, God, what a disgrace for Thurgood Marshall's memory, memory. And now where we are with like whitewashing and erasing of history, there are going to be people who don't even know that Thurgood Marshall was the first Black person to sit on the Supreme Court.

They're going to think that Clarence Thomas was, and it may sound hyperbolic, but they really, they, there probably are people right now who think that he was the first Black person to sit on the bench, but I started to look, pay attention more The Kavanaugh that I think that was the main turning point for me.

I think no, I'm not made a major because I believed Blasey Ford and I remember crying because I remember what it felt like to have been sexually salted and also having not shared my story and it just brought back a flood of memories. And that just kind of washed over me and I, I [00:54:00] was sexually assaulted again in college.

A stranger had come through the patio door at my friend's house. We went out drinking. I went, I was asleep on her bed, and they came in and it went to trial. He got 10 years. But it was. Blasey Ford brought up both of those and I remember thinking how strong she was when she was testifying and thinking when I was on the witness stand testifying, I wasn't just testifying for me.

Then I was testifying for 12-year-old me who had no voice and it just really, it shook a lot of things loose in me that I had maybe been clinging to to avoid dealing with a lot of things in my life, including my politics. And it made me really look inside myself.

And I was always a Never Trumper, but like, if you're going to support this and support this party, like do it with sincerity do it because it's still in lines. And I still consider myself like I listened to right wing, like right leaning, not right wing, right leaning. Like, I like the dispatch, I like The Bulwark.

But I discovered the Young Turks on accident. They came up in a Facebook feed, and what Cenk was saying made sense. And Ana was saying, and I go, God, that makes so much sense. So I started listening to them more, but I still didn't pull the trigger on my party yet. I still didn't leave.

But I started to listen to what they were saying, and it made me start looking in, and I was like, is this really what's going on? Because I wasn't active on, on Twitter. I'd had my account since 2009, but I wasn't. So then it made me want to go on Twitter to see what they were talking about. And then I would hear people say they went to Twitter for news, but I didn't really know what that meant.

And so then I'm, I'm getting this information. And so I'm, I'm at the time it wasn't as [00:56:00] trolly and because I didn't have a couple hundred followers, so I wasn't getting bombarded. So I was able to. Search for the things that I wanted. And then when I search for those things, like minded things would come into my feed and I found myself really, I was like, wow, that makes sense.

That makes sense. And not from a party standpoint, but just from just common sense and, and just government, and then Trump started to do things and I started paying attention to the hatch at violations and who he had, installed in his cabinet who I didn't really pay attention to in 2016, so then I'm looking into bits and like, these are terrible people.

Like, these are, how are they doing this? Like, how are, like, my mother did the mail. She was over the entire peninsula. She was the, and in Germany and then in South Korea, like she qualifies that she could be in postmaster general. But, and then the ramped-up shootings. That really started to get to me like that really, especially as I'm now looking at I have now I have a Black son.

I didn't think about that before. I mean, I knew that what happened in the Rodney King situation was bad. I knew that he got beat. I didn't understand how the jury could have let them go. I knew the riots were out of anger. I felt bad like that was the but now it was like, but that seemed so few and far between.

Back then, though it probably was happening all the time like it is now, we just didn't have the smartphones for it, but there's then just started to be more and, and, then you have like the Ferguson's and, it, it came to a head, like in 2020, it was just, it was so much and then to see how people were starting to change people in my Party were changing.

I knew that Reagan wasn't [00:58:00] perfect. I knew that, but I could appreciate him speaking with the NAACP. I could appreciate him implementing the earned income credit, which helped lift millions of families, especially families of color out of poverty. Even Nixon and the EPA, like I could appreciate that when they knew something was the thing that they needed to do, they, they did it regardless, and their views on, on immigration, because being here on the border, that's an issue that's important to me because I know so many mixed families where some are documented and some aren't are some might be first generation and some might be three generation or or what have you.

SHEFFIELD: And you see the people who are caught up in the system.

ROSS: Yes.

SHEFFIELD: And are failed by it.

ROSS: Exactly. And things are not getting better. And I was like, this isn't. No, no, we're supposed to be getting better.

We're not supposed to be getting worse. Where's that Republican Party that wanted things to be better, at least, at least they would say it out loud, even if it wasn't always what they and they would still do legislation that didn't move us forward, even if they were, snatching with one hand and, but it's still, it's still gave hope that we were moving on a positive trajectory.

And then. Trump started to see like the whole MAGA thing just got weird. Like after he won, I didn't realize why people still needed to run around with those hats on and these flags and stuff, it was like, people put their little things in their yard. You might go by and back in the day, you might see Obama sign. You might see a McCain sign. Every other house is different. But it didn't matter.

SHEFFIELD: And then they would take it down!

ROSS: After the election. But you were still neighbors. [01:00:00] That neighborliness started to go away. And then there were people in play that were really, really extreme. And the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and then his kids in the White House and, and just I was like, this isn't, this isn't the government that I really respect and love, like I can't, and I registered independent in 2020.

And then here in New Mexico, you have to have, you have, you can't vote except for the party you're registered. So I had to register like the day of, I had to register Dem so that I could vote. And then I just, Dem down ballot.

SHEFFIELD: And how did that feel doing that?

ROSS: Like a loss, like a loss because I had held on to, even when personally, like when they got more extreme with the second, I didn't mind the assault weapons ban. I didn't mind. Like I was never like, everybody should have a machine gun, you're going to take my rights away. Kind of. Even when I was a little bit extreme with the Second Amendment defense, I didn't mind those things and the more school shootings and stuff and, and I started saying, and I go, this doesn't common sense, this doesn't have anything to do with being a Republican.

At least from what I knew for 30 years. Like this isn't what being a Republican's about. Like we are still human. We just lean a little conservative and we believe a little bit of this or a little bit of that. And When I was my sexual assault that I had in college and had the rape kit in the hospital, they wanted, they offered me the morning after pill and I refused to take [01:02:00] it, I mean, I've never been one of those crazy, like, wanting to burn anybody at the stake or whatever, it's a personal, it's a personal choice, but I didn't, I didn't take it because I, I'm Catholic and I can't,

I mean, thankfully I didn't get pregnant, but that was my, that was my mentality, but it was also my, it was my choice, but I'm, I, I'm also older now and I'm also a parent and I think that has played a lot because now I'm not, I'm not just living for myself. It's easy for me to believe in certain things when I just have myself to worry about.

But now I have to worry about how the people I support, the choices and decisions and the legislation they make are going to affect my children. And when I see these people on the news and then my, now I have a Black son. Crap. Now I have a Black son and he's, he's really brown, so what is, this isn't getting better, there's a, there's not even a Rodney Cain worse than Rodney Cain like every other day.

SHEFFIELD: And some people applaud private citizens for taking action.

ROSS: Yeah, the Trayvon Martin thing, though. So it was a little, it was a process of a lot of things, like, Trayvon Martin thing, because that horrified me how people didn't agree with this child.

Like, he was a kid. And supported this man. And I go, that, that shouldn't be partisan. Because everyone thought that, I thought the beating of Rodney King was terrible. Everybody, no matter what, we were like, what the heck? This is awful, and them getting off. We're like, man, how could we all saw it, but we dealt with it.

And then, of course. Whenever there are riots, it always makes it easier for them to [01:04:00] then just go back to not being shocked anymore at it and, throwing us away again. But it was just a culmination of things through the years, I think, that were chipping away at me and making me think twice. And when I'm listening, really listening.

So if I'm listening to the radio and someone says something, not accepting it just because I have an R on my registration. But like, no, that's not a very human thing to say. At the end of the day, I consider myself a human. I mean, I honestly, kind of wish, which I had made a tweet about, that they would kind of do away with the parties, in the sense of making people run on who they are and how that would affect.

Those people that go, well, I've always voted Republican, but that doesn't mean you always have to. I always had always voted Republican too. And then you don't when it's no longer in your best interests as a citizen, as a human, period. That's what growth means.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, exactly. Now, how has it been with your family members since you have had your political transformation?

ROSS: Well, my father, he passed away. So my father was kind of the glue that kept everything together. And though my grandmother doesn't really talk about politics, she's 90 something, but I need to call her to, thanks for reminding me.

But I don't really talk to her that much, I'm not as close. My dad was the glue that kept everybody together. So I haven't even really talked to my sister, like I haven't talked to her since my dad died, but my dad, my dad took care of my sister. And so my sister's has full sickle cell, so she spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital.

And so my dad was always there. My [01:06:00] stepmother wasn't very, she wasn't the most loving stepmother. So when you talk about a mother, you know the relationship between mothers and daughters. My stepmother based— I didn't realize it, but my sister opened up to me because my sister's gay, but my sister was in the closet until six months before my dad died.

She came out that Thanksgiving. She came out finally, but my sister, she would get extensions and get nails done because my grandmother would say she looked like a boy because my sister, my sister's she’s a stud. The short hair and she wears the Timberlands and the white t-shirts kind of stuff, but she started wearing dresses and like dating guys because she wanted to please, my stepmother when she found out that my sister was gay, my sister hadn't come out yet.

My sister was in college and had someone. And when she, her stuff came home for the semester, my stepmother being nosy, went through and found these love letters. For a month, my sister said my stepmother took a taxi to church because she wouldn't ride in the same car with my sister.

That's how, so if you want to know how extreme my, that side, my dad's side of the, yeah, that extreme that she would take a taxi to not ride in the same car with my sister as if she was going to catch the gay or something. Because she was worried of how it was going to make her look as the first lady of the church.

that her daughter was a lesbian. Yeah. Because she took great pride in that, that was all she knew her and my father were together since they were like 18, 18, 19 years old. They were together for 42 years. So she's always been Mrs. Stanley Pettis. And then it was lady Pettis. And then it was that, and then when she ascended to, my grandmother's throne when my father was, became a bishop and was installed as the, the bishops met and [01:08:00] chose my dad to take over the church.

So she relished her position. And so she takes appearance is very, it's very important. And I remember. My sister saying that she had these pictures on her desk with like no pictures of my sister, like on her desk at work and stuff and that she would always say things like, and, and like, why can't you be cultured like your sister, like your sister's cultured.

She speaks other languages. She's traveled the world. Like she was always being compared to me and I didn't, I had no idea that that was going on. I thought I was the prodigal daughter, but apparently they, so my sister. was feeling like she lived in my shadow, even though I wasn't there. And she was doing all the right things.

She played drums in the church. She was there. She was doing everything that she could to please my parents. And it wasn't good enough. And here I was doing whatever the hell I wanted to do out in my life. And they were like putting her in, in that position. So, but yeah, but I haven't really like much talked about them, but My mother is a bit horrified that of my extreme on the other side now, so to speak, on my Facebook, because my Facebook is a bunch of maggots.

All of my friends, all of the White people in El Paso pretty much voted for Trump. It's not an exaggeration and it's not being racist. My ex-husband, he put it perfectly. He was like, they feel like they finally get their chance because this town, like I said, it's 80% Hispanic. There is no majority for them.

So, and they feel a bit kind of like nothing caters to them here, so to speak. Empowered, yeah. Yeah, and yeah, exactly. And so, and then, and the people that do, like we have a [01:10:00] small but thriving Jewish community. And we have a small but thriving Arab community. And the Arabs. The Arab and Jewish communities pretty much built all of El Paso.

They own everything. They own all the commercial, well, except Jordan Foster. I mean, Paul Foster. Jordan Foster's his company, but he's a billionaire. And he moved here. We got like five billionaires here, but they literally own everything. And I remember when I was growing up, people would always say, oh, I couldn't get that job because I don't speak Spanish.

I didn't get that because I don't speak Spanish. Well, why don't you learn Spanish? This is America. My youngest son, they have dual languages free for anybody can join. My son is the only non-Latino of, of, of not of Latino heritage in those classes. And he's been since kindergarten. He can read, write, and speak fluent Spanish.

His books are in Spanish, his social studies, his, and it's free and it's right here available. But it's like just out of stubbornness, they won't do it. It's like a, just because this is America or, or what have you of that kind of thing. But every, yeah, but every here. And so on my Facebook.

It's like the only way I can really kind of disseminate information. So I will aggregate some of the best stuff from Twitter, like debunking or fact checking, and I'll make a tweet. I mean, I'll make a, I'll make a post and then I'll, I'll leave it at that. And then I'll make a, so it's kind of, I'm trying to subliminally put in their mind, these commonsense things, especially with.

The indictment because there's just so much misinformation. And then my friend, Maricio Quinones. Had just changed his profile picture like three or four days ago to American Black, American shredded flag. And is it Trump [01:12:00] 2024? And I'm like, your dad lives in, in what is like Mauricio, like your sister's a first generation of, coming here, like your whole family, whenever I'm at the house, it's mostly only Spanish speaking. And I'm like, what, what in the absolute world? Do you think that this man is going to do for you? Like why? It's absolutely insane. But I never engage on any of their posts.

Like I never jump on them. I never jumped, but I try to put things that I think will like, like the Loving v. Virginia case was like, this has been 50, 56 years since loving the Virginia was. The SCOTUS decision in that, because I know a lot of interracial people here. Damn near every relationship is interracial on the border.

And because I'm trying to get them to understand, like, this is what woke looks like.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it actually looks like you if you think about it.

ROSS: Exactly. Because, I have my friends and she's blonde haired, blue eyed and her husband is Latino and he's, he looks very Latino. And I'm like, if not for some one person, you and your husband would not be together.

And it's so easy for them in our bubble here in El Paso. But I go, I want you to drive from here to Dallas now. And I want you to do it at night. And I want you to have to stop in Midland on the way to get a room. And we're going to see how that works out, or you're going to have to stop, let your husband go in and get this room, with some lunatic ass, like, [01:14:00] yeah, because El Paso, we are so diverse and everybody is so open, but even my friends.

Lizette, she goes, but you can feel it, friends. She goes, it's just so ugly. And Lizette was a Republican her whole life too. Her husband, he was going to get me a job working for George Bush when he was governor because he was really good friends with George Bush because they would spend a lot of time at the governor's mansion.

And then when he was elected president, they would spend time at the White House. He was, he had a lot of money.

He was, he was a wealthy real estate developer. But yeah, but she's like, it just, she, cause her kids were going to Montessori school and they, she's got, the country club and all that, that stuff. But she's like, it just, it feels a little bit darker here. People that you just kind of don't look at the same, the same way.

But I try because I don't really go out much anymore. What I really hate is most of my LGBTQ friends, when I do go out with them, they're very low information. So I try to put stuff about legislation that's being passed. Because I really want them to be more involved. Because there's absolutely no reason.

The reason that Beto lost to Ted Cruz, was it in 2018? Was because of El Paso. El Paso turned out for Cruz. They didn't turn out for Beto. They were holding on to grudges from frickin 40 years ago, 30 years ago because of Beto's parents or because whatever they think he did or didn't do or his dad did or didn't do.

But it had nothing to do with who he is and because he didn't lose by that much, it was so close in those votes were here because we El Paso is very, for the most part, we are very blue after people got caught up in that [01:16:00] Trump wave. So they elected a Republican mayor, DeMargo (sp), and that was when we were, then COVID hit, and he was trying to do the Trumpy thing when the judge was putting mandates and we were ground zero and we had bodies piling up.

The guy who was mayor before him, Oscar Leaser, he's like, I want my job back. He won 85% of the vote, of the vote. So El Paso is not El Paso, we can do it. That personal grudge they were holding on to. I just don't, that just things could have gone a lot different, but I try. So I know that there are people that are reasonable because I have for, I have a friend who voted for Trump.

She voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. She, but we're but I, I know her heart as a person, but she stumped for Oscar Lisa to remove DeMarco. So I know that she has an open that she's a gettable person to reason with of this is why you know what I mean to when I drop things that and even some, of course, they won't say or won't like, but I know that for some of them, it's at least sinking in one because they haven't blocked me.

I mean, I had one friend block me after like 10 years, but being friends, but she was also posting about adrenochrome. So she was far gone.

That was, that was a wrap, but yeah, I'm pretty comfortable now.

SHEFFIELD: This has been really great Ty, and I appreciate your time and your willingness to be vulnerable and to really delve deep into your own situation and your own thinking. What's kind of the parting thought that you have for the audience after all this?

ROSS: I would just like to say that we need to really, we need to kind of come, we need to come [01:18:00] together.

On the left. I mean, I mean, there's some fracturing going on. There are a lot of bad actors out here who are insidious. We saw what happened with Tricia Cotham in North Carolina. What's happened with Kirsten Sinema. We need to really pay attention. We need to support our candidates; we need to stay on top of the DNC.

We need to be more vocal. We need to combat the misinformation as much and as hard as we can. And when it comes to our MAGA friends and family, relatives, whatever, we may need to do it a little lighter. Like I said, like maybe just, making a little post that aren't attacking, but just dropping a little truth bomb or something, just to kind of those, at least.

That are not completely far gone, they're not on the Q side, but you know, still leaning right and they're only getting one side of information. So there's nothing to combat it and that's where we come in. That's where we have to be willing to say, I don't want to talk to them. We have to be willing to talk because right now everything is at stake.

It's not just a little bit. Everything is at stake, our, our future, our present, right now I wake up every day dreading to pick up the phone because I don't know what's transpired over the last 24 hours. And I'm hoping that the world hasn’t fallen off the edge of flat earth completely, but yeah, but yeah, but we, we need to be willing, but we also have to be vigilant.

And we have to be willing to stand our ground, we have to do more about the domestic terrorism, stochastic terrorism that's going on. If you have friends and family in the LGBTQ community, you need to be vocal, you need to show them that you're there for them, and you need to,[01:20:00] if you hear someone using slurs or talking in a way, don't be silent.

Because that's, that's how they're able to do it is because now, instead of them being afraid to say the N word, you're afraid to tell them not to, and it should be the other way around, it should be the other way around, but we need to get back to that. They can still think it. I don't really care, but.

Let them do it under their, under the rocks they used to live under.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and, and it's important to educate people on both the left and the right, because there, I think there's a lot of people who are on the left that are just, they sort of habitually are against, a lot of this right wing stuff, but they don't know why, and they don't know what, what they should do about it, and what's at stake.

ROSS: Yeah. No, I, you're absolutely right.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, Ty, this has been great. I really appreciate you joining me today.

ROSS: Thank you for having me.

SHEFFIELD: By the way, you're on Twitter at cooltxchick, but you pronounce it “Cool Texas chick.”

ROSS: Yes.

SHEFFIELD: So people should definitely check it out, and follow you on there. I highly recommend it. Thanks so much.

ROSS: Thanks. Bye, Matt.

SHEFFIELD: All right. So that is the program for today. This is the first part of our Why I Left series, and I hope you enjoyed the program here. And as I mentioned at the beginning the first two episodes of this series are going to be available to the public. But going forward after that, they are going to be premium benefit episodes for paid subscribers. So you can go to theoryofchange.show to sign up on Patreon or Substack, whichever one you prefer.

And I really do appreciate your support. Everybody who is already a paid subscribing member. Thanks so much. And I would encourage everybody else to do that as well. And that enables me to keep making shows like this.

And if you have any ideas for content that you would like to see, or guests that you would like to see interviewed please do let me know. Reach out on the Flux website, flux.community, or you can find me on various [01:22:00] social media places as well. Thanks so much, and I'll see you next time.