IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: Jerry Craft wrote 'New Kid' based on his life. Then it got banned.

The full episode transcript for Take a Look, it's in a (Banned) Book.


Into America

Take a Look, it's in a (Banned) Book

Nola Lee: Hi. (LAUGH)

Jerry Craft: How are you?

N. Lee: I'm good. (LAUGH)

Craft: Good, good. I got a surprise for y'all. I just want to draw a picture for you. Do you draw?

N. Lee: I draw a little bit. I usually do, like, tutorials on YouTube. (LAUGH) But, like, I do draw kinda.

Trymaine Lee: This is my nine-year-old daughter, Nola. And on the other end of Zoom call (VOICE OF CRAFT AUDIBLE) is the author and illustrator, Jerry Craft. He's sharing his screen and showing us how he draws the characters from his award-winning graphic novel, New Kid.

Craft: So yeah, I did my circle by doin' the letter U, an upside-down letter U. And there's the number 11. And this is, like, a little box shape.

N. Lee: What character is this?

Craft: Well, you're gonna see. Right now doesn't look like anyone, does it?

N. Lee: No.

Craft: Let's do a rectangle and a triangle. What do you think that triangle's gonna be?

N. Lee: I don't know. Maybe a drawing notebook or something like that.

Craft: Okay.

Lee: Jerry is doing all of this in Photoshop, (VOICE OF CRAFT AUDIBLE) starting with basic shapes, then adding in colors.

Craft: One, two, three.

Lee: It's actually amazing to watch it all come together.

Craft: And see how I can come in and put some more stuff in there.

N. Lee: Oh, yeah, no catch instances.

Craft: You only get one shot, now. Which one is it?

N. Lee: It's Jordan.

Craft: There you go.

N. Lee: It's Jordan, yeah. (LAUGH)

Craft: Yeah, you're absolutely right.

N. Lee: Wow.

Craft: This amazing.

Lee: It was a pretty cool day for Nola.

N. Lee: Even when I found one box to a whole entire drawing.

Craft: Uh-huh (AFFIRM). Yeah.

Lee: Jerry was drawing Jordan Banks, the main character in New Kid. He's a Black seventh grader whose parents sent him to a mostly white private school. Jordan has to learn how to navigate life at a new school, life in middle school while also being one of the few kids of color. The companion book that came out last year is called Class Act. I asked Nola if she had any questions about the characters.

N. Lee: I want a question like, "What happened to Drew's parents?"

Lee: In the book Drew, one of Jordan's best friends, lives with his grandparents.

Craft: You know, I never never figured that out. (LAUGH) 'Cause I wanted it to be the perfect thing. You know what I mean?

N. Lee: Yeah.

Craft: Because even in the first book when he got into a little shoving match with Andy, I had him where he got suspended. And my own sons were so mad at me (LAUGH) that I actually had to change it.

N. Lee: That's good. You should listen to your kids. For everyone out there--

Craft: I do.

N. Lee: --listen to your kids. (LAUGH)

Craft: I do.

N. Lee: They're the truth (LAUGH) thinkers. Yes.

Craft: Kids are truth--

N. Lee: Always remember that.

Craft: There you go. (LAUGH) Always remember that.

Lee: For months I'd been seeing Jerry's book, New Kid all over the place. I thought about getting it for Nola, but wasn't sure if she was quite old enough. But then it popped up on her summer reading list for school. And she absolutely loved it. But as I was wondering whether or not Nola was old enough, some parents had other concerns.

Archival Recording: New at 6:00 tonight, campus controversy. A petition circulating over a scheduled guest speaker at one Katy ISD school.

Archival Recording: That speaker is a children's book author, Jerry Craft, writes stories about African American boys dealing with race issues in school.

Archival Recording: So a group of Katy ISD parents is calling that critical race theory.

Lee: Earlier this fall, New Kid got swept up in the conservative uproar of teaching critical race theory in public education. Even though the theory wasn't actually being taught, a group of parents in the Katy Independent School District of Texas started a petition to cancel an upcoming book event with Craft (BACKGROUND VOICES) at one of the local elementary schools.

Archival Recording: And it goes even further than that virtual visit being postponed today. I just learned that those books have now been removed from the district's libraries while Katy ISD reviews them.

Lee: Four of Craft's books have been included in a list of over 800 books being investigated by a Texas Republican lawmaker. Also on the list is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Many of the authors on the list are other people of color or LGBTQ+. Katy ISD reviewed Craft's books and eventually okayed them. But all the back and forth is part of a larger pattern. There is a long history in America of outrage and fervor over controversial books that might challenge the dominant narrative, especially when those books are about race.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, for example, problematic as it was, was famously barred from stores in the Confederacy because of its pro-abolition message. Schools have also banned books like Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and Alex Haley's Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Titles from some of the most acclaimed Black writers of the last century, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison remain some of the most frequently banned books today. Now there are important conversations to be had about what's appropriate for children to read and when.

But when we start banning books, are we really having that conversation? I'm Trymaine Lee. And this is Into America. Today we talk with author and illustrator Jerry Craft on the importance of creatin' Black characters that he recognized and how it felt to have that experience stripped from the shelves.

Craft: It's basically, "You can't tell those stories because those stories are, what, racist?" But it's because of treatment like that that I make stories like this in the first place.

Lee: And I got some words of wisdom from a trusted book advisor.

N. Lee: Think about this. Like, some books aren't for certain people. You don't have to read this book. You'll have to get all caught up in it.

Lee: Author and illustrator, Jerry Craft, is 58 years old. We caught up with him at his home in Norwalk, Connecticut. But that's not where he's from originally.

Craft: I was born in Harlem, grew up in the Washington Heights section of New York City. And just like my main character, Jordan Banks, from New Kid, I wanted to be an artist.

Lee: And how early did you know that you wanted to be an artist.

Craft: From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon and know not to stick it in my ear or try to (LAUGH) bite it. I have always loved to draw.

Lee: When you were comin' up, you know, as a young aspiring artist, were you seeing characters that looked like you? Were you seeing people that looked like they come from your community?

Craft: No, almost never. Reading a book to me was punishment. I would rather clean my room, take out the garbage. I read Marvel comics. And in a lot of ways I felt like I had more in common with Peter Parker who was Spiderman than I did with any Black characters. Because to me, even in their comic books, the Black characters were sidekicks. And books, you know, it was the same thing over and over. It was history or misery.

Lee: Wow.

Craft: One of my dreams has always been to make, like, iconic African American characters. And I just wanted to have, sometimes kids were the biggest dilemma in their life is if they wanted to play PlayStation or Xbox, or what movie they wanted to go see, you know, as opposed to always havin' the weight of their world. Those are important stories. But I think we have to give kids things to aspire to and to dream.

Lee: Jerry was able to do just that. Starting in the mid '90s, he created a syndicated series called Mama's Boyz which follows the lives of two teenage brothers, Tyrell and Yusuf. And when he wrote New Kid, Jerry was able to tell the story of his own upbringing. He combined his personal anecdotes with the experiences of his sons who are both in their early 20s now. That's where the character Jordan Banks comes in.

Craft: So he is 12 years old. He wants to be an artist. His parents do not want him to be an artist. So they send him to a prestigious private school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. And now, you know, as a light-skinned Black kid, you know, with straight hair, light skin, he didn't look like the kids around his block.

And now he goes to Riverdale Academy Day School where most of the kids are white. And, you know, it's a prestigious private school. So a lot of the families are pretty wealthy. And he's tryin' to fit in there. So slowly but surely, he starts to meet Liam and Drew and Alexandra and starts to find out, you know, what his group is.

And I wanted to be entertaining for both kids and adults and also have a lot of humor in it. Because I think a lot of times as African Americans, we've developed such a sharp sense of humor because that's our copin' mechanism to deal with a lot of the other things that happen on a day-to-day level, you know?

And I think the big thing is I didn't want there to be, like, one devastating thing. Like, I think we're programmed that every time we see a Black movie or a Black TV show, a Black book, that as soon as we like a character, something catastrophic is gonna happen. And I did not want that. I wanted it to be like the little, tiny things that we see on a day-to-day basis as opposed to one, like, destructive things that just changes the plot of the entire book.

Lee: And usually that's how it happens for Black folks in everyday life, right? It's not a cross burning in your yard. But it's the little fires, the little embers, the little cuts that you experience day-to-day, not like some big cataclysmic thing all the time.

Craft: Right. It's you goin' to Costco and talkin' to one of the sales people, and someone cuts right in front of you like you don't exist. You know, so those are the kinds of things, you know, Drew and Jordan, who are the two African American characters, get, you know, called by the wrong name.

Or they assume. They have assumptions. You know, "Oh, Jordan, who do you live with? Just your mom?" "No, I live with my mom and my dad." "You live with your dad?" You know, like, those little things, but just that they can, you know, add up to a lot.

And there's a lot of funny moments that I made specifically just to be silly and to lighten the mood. You know, I have a librarian where Jordan and Drew, two of the Black characters from the book, they go to the library. And, you know, the librarian's like, "Oh, here. This is for you. You'll really be able to identify.

"It's called The Mean Streets of South Uptown," you know, a really (LAUGH) urban portrayal of today's urban grittiness. And it's like, "I don't want grits. The only grits I want is with my breakfast." (LAUGH) You know, but they think that everything we do has to have grit.

Lee: New Kid was published in 2019. And it was a massive hit, a New York Times best seller, winner of the Coretta Scott King award. And you know those gold medallions that you see on the covers of classic kids books, the John Newbery medal? New Kid was the first graphic novel to win that honor. Jerry was invited to give talks to schools all of the country. But this October, when he had a virtual appearance scheduled at an elementary school outside of Houston, he got a cancellation notice.

Bonnie Anderson: It is inappropriate instructional material. They are pointed at white children displaying microaggressions to children of color.

Lee: That's Bonnie Anderson, a white Texas parent in an interview the NBC News station in Houston. Anderson also said that Jerry's books were promoting critical race theory and Marxism. The Katy Independent School District postponed the talk. And Jerry's books were pulled from the school district libraries.

Craft: I mean, I was shocked. And what I say to everyone, I did what most people did. I had to Google "critical race theory" and try to find out (LAUGH) how I was teachin' it.

Lee: You yourself, you didn't know what it was.

Craft: No.

Lee: Wow.

Craft: You know, I mean, I don't sit down and go, "Oh, this is what I'm going to do." My book is not instructional. It is not an academic book. It is loosely based on my life and my two son's lives. And, you know, like, this still happens to me. I have gone to schools to do school visits. And they thought I was there to fix the copier.

Lee: That's crazy.

Craft: You know what I mean? (LAUGH)

Lee: That's insane.

Craft: What? So if I tell that story instead of saying, "Wow, what can we do to maybe change the way that we think?" It's basically, "You can't tell those stories because those stories are, what, racist?" When I'm talkin' about how I'm treated, the stories that I give are the ones that are problematic. But it's because of treatment like that that I make stories like this in the first place, you know?

Lee: We reached to the school district. And they declined to comment. And the parent who made the complaint, Bonnie Anderson, did not respond to us. Here's more of her interview with Houston's NBC affiliate.

Anderson: And the books don't come out and say we want white children to feel like oppressors. But that is absolutely what they will do.

Lee: That is a hell of a (LAUGH) statement right there about, again, a book that reflects your experience.

Craft: Right. And that's the problem. That is not in the book. So, you know, if they had said, "Let's have a focus group with the kids," and they got some kids. The kids read it and were like, "Oh, I feel this way or I feel that way." But when you have parents that are actually projecting that onto their kids.

You know, if you don't want your specific kid to read a book, as a mom or a dad, you have every right to protect your kids if you feel that they need protecting. But just because you don't want your kid to read it, that you take it away from everyone else's kid. Then, you know, that's worse than what I'm accused of doing. You know what I mean?

Lee: After a formal review by the school district, Jerry's books were put back on the shelves. And the kids at the Texas elementary school finally got to attend Jerry's virtual talk. He said it went great. And despite the whole ordeal, Jerry is tryin' to stay positive.

Craft: If you had to sit down and think about everything that happens to you during the day, you might not ever leave the house, (LAUGH) right?

Lee: Yeah.

Craft: You know, these are kids are waitin' for book three which I'm workin' on now. And I have to keep it positive in order to sit down and write these stories in the first place that add humor and warmth and compassion, and teach kids about accepting kids. Because, you know, kids, when they just meet each other, even when they're young, you know, before people are putting stuff on them, kids just play. If you want to play, they're ready to play. They don't care who you are.

Lee: I'll tell you what, Jerry, you might have landed on some banned book list. But where you're not banned is Into America, brother, (LAUGHTER) thank you, or my household.

Craft: Well--

Lee: Thank you, Jerry.

Craft: --thank you. I appreciate that. (LAUGH)

Lee: When we come back, I sit down for a conversation with my daughter, Nola, to talk more about New Kid and what else she's reading these days.

Lee: Last year around the holidays, I brought Nola onto the show to talk about representation in toys.

N. Lee: Representation means to, like, represent Black people. Like, I am here.

Lee: Now, I'm not gonna front. I'm completely biased here. The episode was great. And Nola was the star of the show. And listeners and my producers absolutely loved it. And I think they'll probably want to replace the host and make Nola (LAUGH) the full-time host of Into America. Because she got bars.

N. Lee: I mean, I love that. (LAUGHTER)

Lee: You gonna rap now?

N. Lee: (LAUGH) Yeah.

Lee: (RAPPING) This is your positive representation of Black folks. Gonna talk about that?

N. Lee: Yeah. (LAUGHTER) (RAPPING) Sha-be-boom-ch. Every day's a new day.

Lee: Oh, oh. (LAUGHTER)

N. Lee: (RAPPING) Every day's a new day to rock out. Ooh. Every day's a new day. (LAUGHTER)

Lee: After I sat down with Jerry, I wanted to talk more with Nola about what she thought about New Kid and what else she likes to read, but also just the idea of a child seeing yourself reflected books just like this. Hi, Nola, thank you so much for joining us again.

N. Lee: Oh, yes. Hello, everyone.

Lee: I thought that was really cool that Jerry Craft the illustrator of New Kid, he drew the character for us.

N. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Lee: How much did you like that?

N. Lee: I thought that was really cool. It's crazy how he just got everything going together. And how, it's like, the building block was something that you really like. And you've never really known it all. It's, like, how much effort someone puts into what they're doing for your entertainment.

Lee: Right.

N. Lee: I think that's very cool.

Lee: Very cool. And New Kid, I think it was just a great story. It was really interesting and--

N. Lee: Yeah.

Lee: --based probably on his life. What did you think about New Kid?

N. Lee: I thought it was a really good book. The notion that it's, like, about Jordan facing new challenges and having to learn how to deal with stuff he hasn't really went through in a way.

Lee: Like, was it racism? Or was it just white people treatin' him differently?

N. Lee: It wasn't really--

Lee: Or was it?

N. Lee: For instance, like, a school with all white kids and how there's, like, not a lot of representation in the school. You can see how kinda, like, how people compare him differently.

Lee: And that's one thing that Jerry said is that Jordan's story kinda like reflects his own story. He was in Washington Heights, went to a mostly white school, and had to navigate that. And the one thing that I thought was cool. He said that it was really important for him to illustrate a book that had people that looked like him, that he recognized. As a young reader yourself, as a little Black girl, how important is it for you to see people that reflect you and represent you in books?

N. Lee: I mean, obviously if you grow up in a world where you don't see yourself, that might tell you like, "Oh, yeah, I can't do this. I am not able to do this. Or I'm not capable of this." So I think that in general just seeing people that look like you and representation as a whole is very important to people in general.

Lee: Nora, one thing about this book, even though it doesn't seem like it's a really wild book, it got caught up in a lot of controversy right around critical race theory being taught in schools which was the whole thing. And this book actually got banned because some white parents thought, you know, it was just teaching kids Marxism and teaching kids to hate themselves and all this stuff. Do you get why it was so controversial? Was it controversial to you as a reader?

N. Lee: Personally, I don't think it was that con--

Lee: Controversial.

N. Lee: --controversial. Because I feel it's not really, like, talkin' about, "Oh, my God. This person's horrible. Oh, my God." It's more like telling a story without doing it. So you wouldn't always notice it's, like, about our intimate things. You would think it's just about a regular kid in a regular world.

Like, if you're a Black person, you know how it feels. Like, if you have to go somewhere like this, you know how it feels like this. And then it's like some books aren't for certain people. You don't have to read this book. You don't have be all caught up in it. But I do think that it's just a book that should be in schools. I think that it's a great book. It's a great book to read over and over again. And honestly--

Lee: Wait, whether you're Black or white? You think it's very--

N. Lee: Yeah, I think it's for anyone. I feel like you can read it enjoy it no matter who you are.

Lee: Let me ask you this. The books that you read, like, do you seek out books that have representation? You know, do make sure some are, some aren't? Like, how do you approach what you want to read?

N. Lee: Definitely. I do try to set out and find those books that have a certain spot in me that I can't find in other books. I personally love graphic novels. So I'm always on the lookout for some Black graphic novel that I can find or with Black people starring as the main character. Because I think it's really important, like I said earlier, that people can see themselves. And really if you don't see yourself, who are you seeing?

Lee: That was deep. I like that. (LAUGHTER)

N. Lee: Yes, I'm deep like that.

Lee: All right, now stop this. You look kind of like--

N. Lee: I'm not.

Lee: I'm gonna take you there. Nola's a big reader. But of course she's also always on the lookout for a good podcast. What are some of your favorite podcasts?

N. Lee: I would definitely say I like this debating podcast called Smash Boom Best on Spotify. I also really like Short Wave. And also I like this story, no, pause that, this podcast called--

Lee: What about this one. It's really, really good.

N. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Lee: Award-winning team, it's called Into America.

N. Lee: Oh, yes. (LAUGH) I listen to that.

Lee: (LAUGH) That was the first one.

N. Lee: I-- (LAUGH)

Lee: I--

N. Lee: --do. (LAUGH)

Lee: I. (LAUGH) I do.

N. Lee: I definitely do. But also I love Michelle Obama's podcast. If you're listening to this, I love your podcast. Like, hello. Like, call me.

Lee: I'll definitely talk to Michelle (LAUGH) Obama, like, this holiday.

N. Lee: Oh, no, no, no. Just, like, call me, okay?

Lee: Ma'am.

N. Lee: Just call me. Miss, please call me.

Lee: Let me ask you this, Nola. Have you ever had a book that you had to read for school that you found a little offensive?

N. Lee: I wouldn't say offensive. But one book that I really didn't like on our summer reading list again was this book called The Indian in the Cupboard. It just bothered me. And what I really didn't love about that book was about they portrayed the Native American in the book.

First of all, I don't like the name at all, Indian in the Cupboard, because we all know that it was Native Americans that they founded West Coast New World which I'm not even getting into that. But that was a new world. And there was already people there. But I just read it, got over with it, and kinda did what I had to do.

Lee: Okay. The one thing about this whole thing is that, you know, there are white parents who were complaining about how white children might feel reading something like New Kid. But Native American people, Black people, children have to read stories all the time that are offensive, right?

N. Lee: Yeah. It's kinda like you might feel bad from reading a book about this. But I don't think you should feel bad. 'Cause you didn't do it. This is not you. This is something that other people did. For example, let's just say I am totally theoretical, a stone, for example.

And my stone's grandparents rolled up to the street. (LAUGH) And then a white stone writes a book about it. And then you might not feel bad about yourself. Now what I say is, "Listen. That's not you. This is something that happened in the past." Like, slavery and stuff happened to people with a different mindset than you. You can change all of that. And I'm sorry that you did. Yeah.

Lee: (WHISPERS) Some of them. (LAUGHTER) Some of them. Like I mentioned earlier, there is an important question that books like New Kid bring up about whether and when kids are ready to read certain books. And Nola wanted to know where I draw the line for her.

N. Lee: So father, would would you say that you think is too much for me?

Lee: Well, you know, and I'll be honest, Nola. I give you all the credit in the world because you've been able to handle, you know, all kinds of different topics. And since you were little, you know, we had a lotta conversations. And I tried to, like, give you a little piece of the times so you understand the world around you, right, and see beauty and strength in us and understanding the system.

And so you can have, like, the strength and power to move through it. Sometimes I'm very careful about the way those ideas are delivered to you, right? So I know when you were very young, you probably don't remember this. There was a book on Martin Luther King.

And it was, like, a little picture, like, for little kids. And without any context, it was like, "The school for the Black kids was just so bad. The one for the white kids was great. Martin Luther King didn't think that it was so simple." And it removes all of the context around it.

And to me, the things that say, "Black was so bad. And they needed to be close to white people to have good things." That bothered me. And so I'm always very careful about what goes into your head about yourself and about your people and about how you see yourself.

And so some things, it's like I worry without the proper context, it just might be too much, right? 'Cause you have to carry all this stuff around, right, as Black woman in this country. We're gonna carry these ideas and this weight on our shoulders. And I just don't want you to have too much on your shoulders.

Like, you're already on it, and you're smart, and you're listening, and you're intuned. I know you can handle it. You know, and obviously there are a lot of story lines I think are just too mature, right? I think, like, there's this old saying, "You can't friend a baby steak," right? You have to have your full-grown teeth. And so as you're growing your, like, intellectual teeth, (LAUGH) just to make sure you can, like, you know, chew everything properly.

N. Lee: Yeah. So father, Trymaine Lee, I should say, what really made you want to write about certain topics? I mean, which doesn't really build into what we're saying. But it's still a question to ask my father.

Lee: Just general, like?

N. Lee: Just general, like, about what you write about. Like, I actually should ask this. What really motivated you to make this podcast about what it was about?

Lee: Okay, well, that's a good question. So in the very beginning, you know, came up with the idea. Said, "Hey, you're travelin' around. Why don't you just, like, as you're reporting on your stuff, just tell stories about what's goin' on politically and with real people across the country?"

Sounded great, right? But it was mostly about politics. And we started off. And we were, like, three episodes in. Then COVID hit, right? Then we shifted a little bit to say, "Okay, we need to address this moment, right?" Like, the illness, the sickness, all the terrible things that came out of COVID.

But then there was the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. And I was like, "Yeah, we gotta do somethin' about this." Because my natural self, I'm a old police reporter, right, and a street reporter. So I'm like, "I gotta tell these stories that have a little more grit to it, a little more engaging the system." And so we did a story. And we talked to Reverend Al Sharpton. And then after that, we went back to doing some of our normal stuff. And it never really felt right to me. Like, it felt like this is all good. But anybody could tell--

N. Lee: We're not really gonna talk about this horrible that happened. We're not gonna really address it.

Lee: Yes. (LAUGH) This is my exact chillin'. Like, sometimes in these spaces, once you get into these media spaces or corporate spaces, everybody's arriving differently. So between Ahmaud Arbery and some of the stories we told along the way, it became kind of crystal clear that for me to do my best, you know, you gotta be your natural self, right? So we kinda started to gear ourselves more towards that. And then George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And remember we had that string of killings by police and vigilantes, right? And then all the protests. And so then it kinda like--

N. Lee: It kinda hit you like people actually want to hear about this. And people feel like me. Like, I need to do something.

Lee: Uh-huh (AFFIRM). But also as you know, baby, it's like Blackness isn't just on engaging with police and getting shot or slavery. We are, like, our culture, our music, our food, the way we engage with each other, right? And so now our show has become--

N. Lee: Yeah, it all changed--

Lee: --much more.

N. Lee: --because of what other people did to us.

Lee: Exactly.

N. Lee: It's terrific you have a history. History has acted on you.

Lee: Okay, exactly. And the way we respond to these terrible things, right? We found ways to, like, create beautiful things and music and intellectual things like books and all those things. So now Into America is a little bit of all that.

N. Lee: Yes.

Lee: That's a great question, Nola.

N. Lee: It's very in depth.

Lee: That's right. Well, thank you for that question. I don't think anyone has actually ever asked me that question before. So.

N. Lee: Oh, yes.

Lee: Thank you.

N. Lee: Great thing good up here. (LAUGH)

Lee: Nola Lee, it's been an honor and a pleasure.

N. Lee: Trymaine Lee, it's been more of an honor and a bit more of a pleasure. Thank you.

Lee: No, no, no, no. Actually the pleasure was absolutely all mine.

N. Lee: Oh, no. I'm sure I kind of stole that from you.

Lee: Thank you.

N. Lee: Thank you.

Lee: This is great.

N. Lee: I might be joking. Michelle Obama, if you see this, call me, please. Hit my dad up on Twitter. Just call my father. Just call me, okay? (LAUGHTER)

Lee: You're being funny. Before we go, you've gotta check out Jerry Craft doing a sketch demo for me and Nola. We'll post it on our website and on my Twitter @TrymaineLee. And drop me a note to let me know what you're reading over the holidays. You can reach us at That was intoamerica@nbc and the letters

Into America is produced by Isabel Angell, Allison Bailey, Aaron Dalton, Max Jacobs, and Joshua Sirotiak. Original music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producer is Aisha Turner. Special thanks this week to Olivia Riçhard. I'm Trymaine Lee. Have a great holiday. And I'll see you next Thursday.

N. Lee: (LAUGH) Good-bye. (LAUGHTER)

Lee: All right, Cheryl.

N. Lee: I'm hungry. (LAUGH)

Lee: Why after everything (LAUGH) you always have a good day? (LAUGH)

Lee: You're always hungry.

N. Lee: You're fat. (LAUGHTER)