tv America Ferrera American Like Me CSPAN October 21, 2018 7:30am-9:01am EDT
slice of the population and in the marine corps women comprise less than 9% of the population. here i am thinking i'm going to do what i've done for the 17 years i've been on active duty. i will be aggressive and make change happen and improve everything and i'm seen as mean and abusive and that's how that sort of justification the marine corps used to fire me was that i was too hard on my recruits and my marines. >> you can watch this and other programs online at book tv.org. [inaudible conversations] seem that good evening. america ferrera's award-winning actress, producer, director and activist best known for her breakthrough role on abc hit comedy ugly betty for which she won golden globe and me, screen actors guild and currently produces and stars in the acclaimed nbc workplace comedy
superstore in its fourth season. in 2016 she cofounded harness, an organization connecting storytellers and activists to amplify the narrative around social justice. now, in american like me she invites 31 of her friends, peers and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures ranging from the heart fell to the, stories shine a light on a american experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture and growing up. jordan conversation this evening award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist season's community organizer and cochair the women's large and uzo aduba emmy award-winning * the critically acclaimed netflix original series oranges but new black. during me in welcoming america ferrera. [applause].
book. i couldn't have done this without all of the incredible names and contributors on the face of this book and without particularly those supports and contributions of my sisters puzo and linda who i love so much and respect and have abandoned so inspired by them in their work and mostly by the people that they are in the world and how they show up time and time again , not just for summary people in their life, but for me, so thank you for being here. so grateful to you. did i get the introduction or all three of us? everyone got the introduction. okay. we were too busy chatting back there. then they were like please
welcome, so anyway so i thought that we would begin with sharing parts of our contribution to the book and then we will have a conversation that we will open up to q and a. that's with on the menu. this is like a scene from a movie. that's what i feel like. this is the scene in the movie where i wrote a book. on going to read from a introduction because because it lays out why, you know, why this book. why my book agent who is sitting here in the first row has been my book agent for 10 years and he's tried to get me to write a book for 10 years and he was so patient. i feel like we are getting married today like i finally
said yes, i do. so, going to read from the intro and i actually want to also read my dedication because my dedication is also the why. i had a baby four months ago. [applause]. and his name is sebastian. i wrote this dedication right after i got home from the hospital. for baz at every child everywhere with my hope that you seek and find reflections of your deep work and truest value and that in a nutshell is the why of this book and i'm going to read roughly half of my introduction so that you get a sense of what this is all about.
my name is america and the nine years old i hate my name, not because i hate my country, no impact at nine years old i love my country. with the national anthem played i cried into my dodger dog thinking how lucky i am to live in the only nation in the world where someone might grow up to be the first girl to play for the dodgers. i hate the pledge of allegiance, though, not because i don't believe in it. i believe in every word of it especially the liberty and justice for all parts. i believe the pledge of allegiance to my bones and i nine years old i feel honored, self-righteous and smog i was smart enough to be born into one country and the whole world that stands for the things my little heart knows to be true. we are all the same and deserve an equal shot at life, liberty and a place on the dodgers a batting lineup. i hate the pledge of allegiance because as long as i remember there was always at least one smartass in class that turned to
face me with his hand over his heart to recite it, you know, because my name is america. the first day of every school year is always held her teachers always make a big deal of my name in front of the class. they either think it's a typo and want to know my real name or they want to know how to pronounce it. ridiculous, i know and they always follow up with america, you may like the country. yes, like the country. i say with my eyes on my desk in my skin burning hot. this is how i come to hate american history, not because i don't love say the battle of-- obviously i do, that because some-- no teachers ever been more excited to have a student named america than my first american history teacher who is been waiting all day and to commemorate this moment he wheels me around the classroom on his dance teacher chair belt and god bless america while a small part of me died inside.
it reminds me of your when i sat would like to go by my middle name, regina so could you make a note of it. thanks. when he has the gall to ask me why i say something like it's just easier and instead of what i really want to say which is because people like you make my name unbearably embarrassing and another thing i'm not actually named after the united states of america or crime named after my mother who was born and raised in honduras. and if you must know she was born on it obscure holiday. this is a holiday that celebrates all of the americas, south, central and north, not just the united states out of, so my name has nothing to do with amber waves of gray, the us flag or your narrow definition of the word.
it's my mother's name and aware that relates to other countries like the one my parents come from so refrain from limiting the meaning of my name, erasing my families history, just call me georgina, please. i don't say any of this to anyone ever. it would be impolite or worse, unpatriotic and as i said before love my country in the mouse and ironic in earnest way anyone can love anything. i know how lucky i am to be an american because every time i complain about too much homework my mother reminds me in honduras i would be working to help support the family so i better thank my lucky stars that she sacrificed everything she had so my five siblings could one day had to much homework.
with more firmer than most. i feel more american than the tanners and i believe one day i will grow up to look like and becky from full house and then frank sinatra will last me to re- record as a duet because i know all the words better than my siblings, so i let it slide when people respond to my name with your parents must be very patriotic. where are they actually from. this is a refrain i hear often in the one that will take me a couple decades to unpack. i learned to go along with the casting of my parents as the poor immigrant yearning to breathe free related to the promised land and decided to name their american daughter after that soil that would fulfill their dreams. after all it's a beautiful tale only later do i learn to push
back against this incomplete narrative, a narrative which manages to erase my parents history true experience and claim to the name america long before they had a us born a child, nevermind they had a us-born child before me and named her jennifer. which is both a much more american name than mine and one i would kill to have on the first day of every school year, but i'm nine and i do not think too much about narrative and my parents raised history. i think about my friends and getting to go to their houses where we play their brand-new mall madness boardgame and search disney movies for the secret sex images if you know what a positive vhs. i think about how cool it would be if my mom let me sleep over at a friends house and how that will never happen because she is convinced our all sleepovers and in murder and sexual assault.
i think about how cool it would be if my friend was allowed to sleep over my house. i think about how when i'm in junior high and look more like aunt to becky i will have a walker and decorate it with mirrors and magazine cutouts like the kids on saved by the bell. i think about how i will be a professional baseball player, actress, civil rights lawyer who will let her kids go to sleepovers and i think about boys. i think about one boy a lot. aside from having a challenging name i feel like my friends. even the things that make my home life different from my friends seems to unify our experience. sure my parents speak spanish at home, but graces parents speak chinese and briand filipino parents speak something that sounds like spanish, but it is it. my favorite parts of going to my parents house is hearing their
parents yell at them in a different language. we consume an alarming amount of white rice soaked in soy sauce while listening to her mom's mariah carey on one's. speaking spanish at home moms a saturday morning salsa dance party in the kitchen and eating tamales alongside apple pie at christmas doesn't anyway seem odd with my american identity. my parents ties to another country and culture seems part and parcel to being an american. i'm nine and i truly belong. by the time i breach 10 the all begins to change. the first person to make me feel like a stranger in a strange land is the first boy i ever loved. i'm six years old when i fall in love with dan spencer, name changed to avoid awkward interactions. the full agony of loving him is bursting out of my tiny bones in
pulsing through my tiny veins. he has very silky soft brown hair that's almost entirely short except for the rats tail that dangles down the nape of his neck. i sit behind him on the magic carpet at reading time and try to be sneaky about rating his rattail. whether we are making pizza bagels are building castles in the sandbox on my six-year-old mind can focus on is braiding sam's hair, talking to sam and sitting near him. with every year a new boys and girls are added to our class, but my heart remains devoted to worshiping at the altar of sam spencer and by the time we are in third grade i'm aware other girls think sam is one of the cute voice, but i am secure in the foundation we have built starting in kindergarten. when i sit next to him at lunch he doesn't tell me to go away and that has to mean something. i don't need to tell him i love him or need him to declare his love for me.
i just need to sit next to him on the reading carpet and stand as close to him and lunch line as possible. unfulfilled with making him laugh from across the classroom by taking my hair and turning it to a mustache and beard on my face. i think him of mine because my heart says so and what more proof do i need. i never imagine our relationship will be spoken about. one day we, the students of the third grade class are lined up after lunch. i'm locking arms with my girlfriend jenna and allison when sam taps me on the shoulder this is unusual. he's not often the initiator of our conversation. i turn to him and wait. he opens his mouth to say i like jenna more than you. do you want to know why. the masochists in me answered quickly, yes. y? he said because she has blue eyes and lighter skin then you. he turned around and rejoined
his group of boys. i stand frozen. ice cold learning how fast the heartbeat the first time it's crushed by love and how quietly skin crawls the first times its color is mentioned. how wet eyes become when they realized for the first time that they are in fact not blue like jenna, the color sam likes better. i stand there wishing to return to the moment before sam taps me on the shoulder, before learned it would be better to not look like me at least if you want the person only believe ever lead to love you back, which i do. shortly after i learned it's also better not to look like me if you don't want to be singled out as cool and questioned about your parents immigration status. 1984, and california just voted in favor of proposition 187, initiative to deny undocumented immigrants and their children public services including access
to public education for kindergarten through university. their sphere inside the immigrant community that their children will be harassed and questioned in their school. i am in third grade and i don't know or understand any of this. nonetheless my mother told-- pulled me aside one day dropping me off at school and said, you are american. you were born in this country. if anyone asks you questions you don't need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. you have done nothing wrong. i am so confused, but i take my mom's advice and feel the need to mention to some of my friends that people might ask them questions that they should not be afraid. of a have done wrong. they stare at me and then go about their hopscotch. none of my friends seem to know what i'm talking about. i had this suspicion their parents did not pull them aside to have the same talk and while i'm growing more friends on the playground about whether they had been questioned about being american in the kit i don't know interrupted me to say they don't
care about us, just americans like you. my mind short-circuited. americans like me? what does that mean. i wasn't aware there were different kinds of americans. american's american's american, all created equal, liberty and justice for all. i managed to say something to the big kid like oh and that i never talk about it in school again and never talk about it at home either, but i do spend some time wondering what the big kid means by americans like you. is it about me name? is at the salsa music at home? maybe this has something to do with my skin and non- blue eyes again. that's ridiculous. we don't separate americans by the color of their eyes, duly? are there different words for different kinds of americans? mi half of of american, kind of
although, i embrace my self a home in on the weekend i still struggle with being different at school. like most kids i prefer to blend in. i used to hate the prominent between my two front teeth. kids made fun of me for calling my teeth chiclet's. my mother was always asking me to smile when she took photos but i didn't want to open my mouth enough for the gap to show as soon as my friends began getting braces i begged my mother over and over again to get me braces to close the gap. she never entertained this idea, but i would not let up. she finally read grew tired of my persistent and that began to explain. uzo, i will not get you braces and here is why. you have an-- she went on to tell me the history of her family, lineage of people who
were known and revered for this. she told me that it pained her to see embarrassed by it because it was actually considered a sign of beauty and intelligence to her people. parents would pray their children would be born with it. people want it. she looked me deep in the eyes and with her lovely thick accent proclaimed uzo, you have history in your mouth. i don't remember how my mother was a told her that her mother had passed away. i don't know what her exact response was or how she handled the fact that she had missed the one last chance to sega by. .com. i know it must have been hard for her to bear that kind of regret for not going to nigeria with us. we gave her the videotape which was heartbreakingly just an
audiotape of my grandmother and i showed her my journal entries these were the last moments she had my grandmother. she placed them in a safe deposit box along with other items they deem no earlier than her 25th birthday. her birthday party was to take the place the weekend after we returned. one day she and i were playing where mom called cheat sheet into the kitchen where she was cooking and we ran into her mother and saw her standing in front of us don't with her eyes closed for a moment and she breathed deeply as if to gain composure. cici, she paused, would be okay if we don't have your birthday party this year. another pause. mommy is really sad. she looked so broken. all of a sudden my movable peers mother was just a human, a
daughter, a little girl who had lost mom. when you are the child of an immigrant, as i am, you never experience the use of your parents. you never see them as kids who are in the sweeter side of a parent child relationship. you can lose this window into their humanity. they are the saviors, dreamers and the sacrifice errs, not the innocent or vulnerable people. [applause]. scenic linda-- >> linda.
>> i'm so honored and humbled that we on the stage with the both of you. i'm going to read it for you excerpts that are separate about different parts of the story i wrote and it starts like this. we were not an unusual family in our neighborhood. there were dozens of other arab the families along with the dominican, mexican and honduran families that all worked hard, raised their children, supported their neighbors and get back to the community during the daytime the kids would gather to plate pack, with a ball and dodgeball in a treat and sit for hours on the front stoop. when it got dark the moms and grandmothers would come out as home for dinner were bad. with lots of parties throughout the summer filled with music from our different cultures. we would teach one another dances. when i finished high school, i wanted to dedicate my life to helping kids who didn't have the same support alumni had growing up. i had seen the movie dangerous minds in high school wanted to
be like michelle pfeiffer. the bighearted, bad teacher showing kids how to poetry, one another in themselves and it made sense to work outside my own village where i had it so good to have kids in other neighborhoods. i enrolled in community college in brooklyn to get my english degree. i was going to become the adult that toward the disenfranchised kids a brooklyn they matter ended when 911 happened that was 20 years old, new life, young mother and college student. i love my country and my people, but sadly the two seemed at odds and after that horrific attack on our city and fellow americans my community began to be regarded as a group of suspects by virtue of our language and faith. muslims were now very unwelcome in many places. they became subject to racial profiling and police surveillance. i watched as law enforcement agencies rated coffee shops and businesses. i watched women cry and say
someone picked up my husband and i have not seen him in five days i knew muslims who fled their home country to escape the situation they were encountering in america. what was and still is radical is the strength of our commitment to take care of one another, our community had such strong ties and it would take a lot to break us. we are stronger than i knew. my activist work continued into my 20s and i began to see the community, i was part of a lot larger village. muslims could not fight this fight alone. we were aligned with others who shared our struggles. there are many people who face struggles everyday long before 911 or disposal americans had been dealing with being stopped, first, and terry and even killed because of the color of their skin. undocumented people living every day afraid of being separated by their families.
by growing up and leaving my neighbors are their family and might not have cared, but it was my nature to care. i don't believe it's every man's pour himself for every woman for her my parents didn't believe this. my neighbors didn't believe this and my community won't stand for this. [applause]. >> thank you, linda. thank you, uzo. i have some questions i want to ask, but really as i sat and listened to take her stories i have a very personal question, which is why did you say yes when i asked you to join me and telling this very specific part of your story cracks? i knew why it mattered to me to talk about the part of my life
that i never saw the reflected back in may, the part of my life that lived at the intersection of so many things that i wanted to claim as my own, but never claimed me. i always felt so american, but was always made well aware that not everyone saw me that way and i felt latina deeply rooted in my culture, but always told that i was not latina enough and i wanted to tell my story to make any other young person out there who felt isolated in that experience feel represented, but it was important to me that it wasn't just my story being told because i was not even a point. for me the point was i was never alone despite the fact that i never saw the representation of
that part of my experience in existence. the culture just never let me know that i was part of this sisterhood and a brotherhood having this experience and that's why it mattered to me to reach out to all of you and say join me and tell the story, not just so our stories are told but so the world can see we are a community and ourselves as a community and so that's a long way of asking the question, why did you say yes to telling this part of your experience? >> real talk. [laughter] reason number one, because you asked. >> that's my number one reason. >> because you asked, in all sincerity. because i know you genuinely care. you genuinely care about people, you know, not to segue to off
you realize that are so many more uzo, americas, , linda's around the country having shared experiences and that maybe somewhat, maybe it's not a midfield but it's somewhere else, someone might also be having the realization that who i am and where i am from is what makes me entirely american, you know. it actually is america. that is the tenets and the foundation of this place, and to be able to somehow pass that on or to share it or to link myself forever in the chain is so exciting. >> thank you. >> so i suggest because america asked me, and a lot of folks don't know that for the platform
that america has to be sharing with people and particular people like me who are activists and organizers that the privilege for me and to know that she is using her platform to let those voices that are not usually elevated. a second reason was, i've had a reflection over the past may be 17 years about how many times people have told stories of muslims and how many times people of that conversation about muslims in new york, muslims in america, and the way in which muslims are only talk about in the context of national security. there is this of the conversation that someone else's define who we are, defining the way in. in recent times it got very personal for me. i'm an organizer. i build individual relationships. when you organize with me you can feel my sincerity. you know what i care about. i put all on the line but if you don't know me you haven't been
able to organize with me, there has been a depiction of me thought you. it was important to find this opportunity to share some things about myself out of personal that make me claim today. in fact, the majority of my chapter in this book is really about my father who is a very important human being and is why i am who i am today. it was the way for me to be able to say it is time for me to tell my own story and to be able to share who i am from, use my own words and not just the words of others about me and being able to fit and have my daughters and my kids get to see how people define who they are without knowing who we are or who they are. it was important to say i wrote something that is to you, too. i don't get to write a dedication my chapter because it's her book technically. [laughing] but for me this is more my family and it really was a synopsis of my childhood that i
tried right in a very few amount of pages and it's again with me to say don't talk about me without me. i'm going to tell you my story. i'm going to use my words. [applause] >> i just wanted to say the reason i chose those excerpts and asked to read this is first of all when i first read linda's and she described the street sn brooklyn that she grew up on, i was like can you tell me how to get to linda's street? like it sounded so amazing and the image of america that i just crave of hondurans and palestinians, use, teaching each other salsa and eating each others food and loving each other protecting each other. i just remember being so moved
to tears knowing that that dream the summit of us have of america is still possible and it's not dead and isn't impossible. it was so moving to me that that's not a a dream. that's actually your experience, your lived experience of how it could be. we need reminders of that today more than ever, of not just oh, that's a fantasy that we could never achieve, but it's actually how about of us grew up loving and respecting each other, not in spite of our differences but because of our differences. uzo, that piece about, the thing you say about that your mother said to you, you have history in your mouth. it struck me as a reminder of everything that we have to shed
as people come as children who live at the intersection of our american identity and our connection to our families culture. everything we're told doesn't belong here. i would venture to say you are inspiring because of everything that you are, not in spite of what you are. both of you write so beautifully about your parents, your pieces is beautiful piece about your mother and what she means to you. and as you said your pieces about your father. and i wonder, have you spoken to your parents about the things you write about? i find as the title of immigrants and this is touched upon in the book by a number of people about how sometimes how difficult it is to talk to her own parents about their lives history. i wonder if this is something
you were able to talk about with your parents? >> in general, no. [laughing] this could be really long conversation because my mom has the gift of gab. in this context i think yes. like i'm excited for to have this because i think even though not all of these are obviously her children, i think she will embrace them almost all like her children in our stories in the sense that there would be a level of pride in knowing that having come here, you said in your story your mom sacrificed so much, all the sacrifice you can sit here and complain, like there will be a pride in knowing of you done good, you know? all of these people have, and
made something of them, make something of themselves. have a talent for writing or have lived a story that is worth knowing, you know? i'm excited for this. i personally and selfishly i think am excited for her to read this because i guess i would say even a third thing of saying yes is to sort of say thank you and honor her in a way i like, by virtue of the fact the written words are here and it is in print and it is official now and you can buy it at a bookstore and it somehow makes her story real in a way. i'm excited for that because ultimately that crossroads that you talk about, we didn't
abandon all of it, even though you're standing at the crossroads of laundry like which way to go. can you call me this? ultimately, that didn't dissolve and wasn't all that go of and is a huge piece of what makes me the woman i am today. and so i'm glad and thankful to say thank you to you, mom, for making me the woman i am and give me all that culture and knowledge and remind me to hold onto that, and hope somewhere in this you feel that pride and glad this up what you have instilled in me. >> beautiful. >> it's a long answer. [laughing] [applause] >> linda, , i'm curious if you talk about these things with your own father, but also happy
talked about it to your own children, this experience that you had been ingrained in both cultures? how do you talk to them about it, if you do at all? >> i'm so blessed that my kids actually get to grow in the same us that i grew up when i was a kid on the same street with the same ecuadoran neighbors. my kids go next door to hang out with the kids next door which of the children of the people that were my age. they say like my mom will be like when you going? my kids say were going to the eumenes. -- yemenis. the ecuadoran seven avenue. my kids are growing up in my experience. they are eating at the hands of my mother. they get to be on the same street i did, the st. mark's i
played that. i am just, it's like full circle for me. i don't usually come with them when i'm writing stuff about them into it's kind of like when i get arrested, after the fact. [laughing] it it's like it happened, i'm safe. but i but i wanted to share thih everyone here and with america that my experience with casey just putting this all together really inspired me about my larger story. i am also writing a book. [applause] i was inspired by this idea being able to not just tell my own story but tell the story of from immigrants of what it means to be muslim integrated or a child of immigrants and also my experience at how did i get to this space them in right now? i never thought i i would have time to do it or should do it. i realize when i was writing for
america's book that i just wracked my brain. there's probably some of the muslims after the wrote a book about post-9/11 era, what does it mean to be some of who is a muslim before 9/11 and after 9/11. what does it mean to growth like super brooklyn like me? it's not there. the fact muslims have been in america since before the united states of america was american palestinians have been here before the 1967 war and after, to not have story to be told in the way i know i could tell a story of community i grew up in that i have relations, that i still live in until today. i still organized in the same community i was born in. one of the things you learn from a store is the community is so close knit that the same doctor that delivered me when was a baby is the same doctor that marries you when you get married. he's like the imam at the mosque
a you. on top of it is also my boss and the portrait of an organization i ran out of new york for many years and he named my sisters. you will learn about that. being able to start sharing that through this piece inspired me to write my own book so thanks, america. [applause] >> i have so many -- is a time for q&a? we have five more minutes to talk? obligate you to q&a, i promise. linda, you talk about radical love. this is, not everybody puts it in those terms but you would be hard-pressed to find an essay in this book isn't about just that, radical love. uzo, you sit in the part that you read that our parents are the sacrifices, the ones who give everything so that we could one day complained about having
too much homework, or the gap between our teeth and bake for braces. i guess what i'm thinking is, i would love for you to talk about radical love and i would love for you to talk about, uzo, , en though it's not your wording, what role love played in your parents didn't care -- getting here and giving you the life that you have, and what role it played and how you then walk through the world? you know, that idea of doing things, you talk about how risky it is for woman like you to use the word radical, that people don't want you to use that word but use it in terms of talking about love. i just want to hear you talk
about that a little bit and where that came from for you, and particularly how did your parents show you that radical love? >> you read a lot about this in the book but i'm the oldest of seven children. my mother had five daughters back to back, and for someone who comes from a culture of like mind, people in my community were praying that my mother would have a boy. my father taught as radical love. my father would be so elated at the time my mom have a daughter that they would think they had a son. my dad was like what are you talking about? we have another daughter. so for me radical is exactly what the term actually means. the definition of radical is to get to the root. for me my love that i grew up with was so deeply rooted in my palestinian heritage, this idea is connected to something bigger to what a struggle as connected to land, connected to people and ancestors. and for me i realized and people
say when your organizer peoples of i'm hopeful, i'm hopeful things get better. i realized it's not hope that fueled me. it's radical love like a deep unconditional unapologetic love for myself, for william come from a complexities. i love my community. i would die for the community that i grew up in. when i say community i mean everybody in my community. for me i realized when people say listen, bad stuff keeps happening every day. there's so much that stuff governor ducey much -- see so much bad stuff, bad stuff keeps happening around us, like what keeps you fooled? it's not hope because hope is empty. it's something aspirational but love the something we feel. the people that i love are here and i fight for them. that's it, i'm done, i can be done because i still love my children. i still love my family. i still love my community and i
love them so much i'm going to keep doing what i'm doing until we get to a better place. even when you see folks in the movement that we're part of, taken from oppressed communities, you see a lot of anger the confederate people and oftentimes that is depicted as a negative. did you ever wonder why people are angry? why are people angry when young black man gets killed at the hands of police or why his committees angry when young and document is separate from her children? it is because we love that young unarmed black man come he someone son, the young and document what one is her neigha friend, somebody's mother,, somebody sister. for me love is what -- even when i'm angry and protesting it comes from a place for love for my people, , from a family and r my country. this is my country. people can say what they want. they can do what they want. they can find us whatever weight but this is our country, too, and to think love is what we need in this moment.
everybody loves of the family. i don't care what side of the political aisle you're on and i wonder if we could all start from the place of radical love. [applause] >> i think for me the radical love that my parents had was just a simple desire for more, for better even though my family similarly, my grandparents, even though i come from a culture we are supposed to have sons as well, this is a man who had two boys and eight girls. our neighbors at a time that was well well well back when you don't send girls to school and my grandfather believed that if he had the sense in the want to
go, then she should be able to go. my mom was born out of that space and world, and herself given so many opportunities because her father believed male or female, a woman should be able to do in the whatever it is that she wants to be or be. i think she had radical love torture and then it was i think just natural for her to pour it into someone else, be it in this case are children when she had an experience with all that, , r country have for her to experience and she reached as far as nigerian could give us at the time, to be put in full context, my parents are the children of civil war. they lived through the war of the tribes. when they came to the west, my
mom just one more for her children than what my tribe had been reduced to. and then marginalized. my entire life growing up my mom would say that my american dream is for you people to be up to live your dream. that's the american dream because the country that she is from is not afforded the opportunity for us to become ice cubes got something what you did. i look back on my life and i back on all the random things and i look back and think what other nudging to out on this ice rink. my mom is like we don't have it in nigeria, go out and do this thing. like probably really work comes from. like that america can afford you that opportunity to pursue that same is what my mom was chasing
and wanting for us all, to really be able to realize our greatest potential i think that's how she quarter looking to me. i think we as her children and probably true also of children of immigrants, pour back into gimp i wanted to our very best, you know? there's never a day in my youth and still even when i'm tired now, my mom always, i said this to a million times, would i say just work hard. i've never heard nothing coming from hard work. she hoisted always said that tr whole life and she was living testament of that truth growing up, because in her life and the job she was doing to keep us all uploading to all these amazing things, but also just the effort of leaving the place you know for someone else you don't is massive when you really think about it especially when you're doing it as agent person.
it's not like my mom moved her in her 40s, '50s or 60s or something. she was in a young 20s by herself knowing no one here. it's like that never leaves your mind as a young person and to think i radical love that we all paid back to her was in the spirit of yet, you go to class went to work really hard because it cost a lot for them to come in. i don't mean in this sense, i mean in this sense. i left my family and friends. i left my home, the very dwelling in which i lived. all of it, you know, report back and by showing up in our lives. that's the radical love. and why not live without level of love? >> and also an enormous amount of pressure. >> of course. nigerians love it. >> i think that's also conversation that you will see in these pieces, a part of our experiences, americans live in
between. our lies began with sacrifice so everything we do is like you're not just ice ice-skating for -r ice skating for nigeria. that has real implications, like i think for a lot of us it a contrivance to do incredible things. at the same time have an underbelly to it which is we don't get to take the chances that other people get to take because there's more riding on it. that's a deeper conversation that is explored in the book and is very complex. now we should probably turn over to q&a. you are all here and might have some questions. >> hello. my name is destiny so i also had jokes going up. but growing up i watched ugly betty and modestly onscreen i thought she's latina like me, she's quirky like me. she's fierce like me.
so truly awesome to see all that you're doing and i was just wondering if there's anybody in particular they give you the confidence and inspiration to build the platform you're building today? >> thank you for saying that. it truly is, it truly is you, people like you. hearing that story over and over and over again from the very first job that had an a 17-year-old in real women have curves. my career started not by design but yes, hard work but also a lot of luck to be in the right place at the right time to these magical opportunities to tell stories and play characters that had never been seen before. to travel through this country really through the world and hear people say that's the first time i ever saw me on a screen. that's what has empowered me
because i know that when i have after fighting for the dignity of this character that i play or i'm dying to produce a story that has never been produced before, i know that it's not just about me and what i want to see. i know i am representing billions of people who are so hungry to see their stories reflected back at them. i didn't know i was building a platform. i didn't know any of that. i just wanted to do the thing that i love to do but it was encountering the response to someone like me who for all intents and purposes didn't belong in the career i was in. i didn't belong in movies. i didn't belong on television and that was the very reason that, that was a very thing that gave me power to speak to the millions of people who didn't see themselves represented before. so truly, truly truly you. you are what gives me the strength and the power to even have a platform and to use it.
so thank you. [applause] >> given that you now have more power privilege than you might affect the outcome how decide which causes of projects to invest your time, resources and energy in? >> that's a a good question for all of us, right? was that for all of us? do one of you want to answer that first? how do you decide what to invest your time and resources and energy into. >> i think first i we start from the space of the heart, what is right. let me say two things. space of the heart, something a about because although i can be an ally and show my compassion and support towards the rights and wrongs of a thing which is important, i think when i really
choose i guess to use my voice to something that speaks to me and i know i will give all of myself, which sounds of weird way of saying it, to it, so that's one part of it. i also am very much drawn to what i call the little guy. i have a huge pet peeve for bullying or feeling like people, a thing or person feel it's okay to either cast their eyes down or take on something smaller or less powerful than itself. and that's something that really motivates me. i think we're living in a space and time where we see the constantly, and uncertain that
probably has to do in part with growing up in a culture here in the states feeling like my own family was thought of our look at like an outsider at times. the first day of school when i was really young, you know, getting similarly my full name, and teachers writing every version of that name except the real form of it and being made to feel like that was a funny or silly name. but i was really, really small or people having something see about the way our food smells or why are our parents dress like that and having a joke or two and i think that is something that still makes me passionate. really identifying things that people tried to use two separate someone -- excuse me. i passion right now. [laughing] two separate someone from the holden realize no, actually we
are all the same, we are all deserving of our voices, all deserving of holding space can all deserving of our voices being heard. those are things that speedy i agree that it is, a lot of it for me is starting in the heart space. what is my heart telling me? i explore this in one of my pieces in the book. i tried for so long to make sense of all the things i cared about. i was a passionate performer and i wanted to be a storyteller but it also cared about human rights and wanted to engage in the wider world around me. i thought for so long that i could be both of those things and that i had to pick a box or pick a lane find a title that made sense to other people. and i really like wrecked myself over it. i would sit up until five years ago my second piece is really about sort of that growth where
i finally found the courage to say i am all of these things and i'm going to choose to walk into any space as everything that it can. and i think that is such a big part, that such a big umbrella up what this book is about. all of the people of britain have have in some we had to walk into certain spaces, understanding that not all of them is welcome. you can come in here and be brooklynite but not as a palestinian. you can come in here as he american but please don't like don't make us feel uncomfortable with your spanish-speaking, or whatever it is. we become these jedi master shifters and i know how to talk in the show to be accepted in the shrimp and that i know how to talk condition to be accepted and that rent but we're not told we get to walk in spaces as asa full cells and when not told we get to be our full cells. i tried to say and my an actress
or an activist? i am both at all times in the shrimp in the space i am both. [applause] -- in this room and in the space. to answer your question about how do i choose, it's about trusting your gut and your heart in knowing that there's actually no right answer and no one is going to tell you, you knew what you should be? you should go beat this thing or do that thing. it's truly, the whole point of this book is so that you can hold this book in hand and say oh, my story to make sense to anyone else in most of these people, their stores and backgrounds did make sense to the people around them either. and yet they went in the did their thing and they created from that space, not in spite of that space. so that is truly a message of the book, create something that you know is undeniable inside of
you and trust that. that's how i see it. [applause] >> i heard your question as an organizer, so my organizer light came on. as a way i heard your question was, there's a lot of bad stuff happening in the world, how do you prioritize, how do you pick what issues to work on. i i know sometimes we feel prety overwhelmed with all the oppression either here in the states around the world. one of the things that i came to a realization about is we are intellectual enough and have unlimited humanity that you can care about a lot of things at the same time. i'm going to paraphrase audrey lord by saying we don't live single issue life so there's no single issue struggle. one of the things that happened and you see in some of the folks in the book is as idea again of sometimes nothing something, for example, when a lot of people seem at the frontlines of the
anti-police brutality movement in new york, i want to get to moment where no one questions why a light skin palestinian car from south brooklyn is standing up for black people. [applause] it's because i could and you could stand for black people. you can also stand up for undocumented people. you could stand up for lgbtq people, stand up for poor people, working class people, stand up for labor that we've been taught to pick the one passion project and you just go with it and people did and that's fine. i think that has been a condition on a sadiq khan or do a limited amount of stuff. i've seen some remarkable people do a lot of remarkable things. that doesn't mean to be a full-time activist. you can tell your senator you better vote no on this brett kavanaugh. while you're at it you better do it for the daca. you don't just have to call,
visit you again or do one thing at a time, i think we have a lot of, you know, humanity for me is unlimited. my humanity is not limited to anything but people in my heart and i believe all of our hearts are big enough for a lot of people and a lot of oppression and i think again if we're coming from the place of radical of it doesn't have to be prioritization. it's the responsibility we feel we have. i have a platform, thousands of followers. they are for you. what do you need me to talk about? what needs to be uplifted? there the are folks that broughy attention that muslims in china that are being oppressed. i want to be -- woman in brazil, anti-police without activist gets assassinated. it's my responsibility jews platform for the whole world knows about her. we all have that opportunity and ability responsible with platforms that we have. [applause]
>> i have a kind of united states oriented question, not a the local sense but children of immigrants. i'm a puerto rican americans i do have a dual identity you guys discussed. you live at that intersection you mention in both the excerpts and in your discussion but i think maybe even at the root of that we also live with an internal conflict between the ideals of this nation that can sometimes be romanticized. we are all created equal, then our history and sometimes even recently our reality. do you guys come are you confronted with that kind of dissidents? and its own if you experience it, how do you reckon with it? how do you reckon with what are reality has been and is an could be? >> i'm so angry that patriotism
has been hijacked. like, i'm a patriot. [applause] like i love my country and that's with what this book is . it's a no, no, no, american like me. i'm american and nothing anybody says can take that away from me. as linda says this is my country, too. and no, it is never been perfect and it is, remember all i did the first year in college was right in the front row of every class because i realized that i had a very limited education on the history of my country and the present of my country really. but i think the way i reckon with that difference between my dream as a nine-year-old, as an american, whose to tell me that it can be exactly what it want to be? and then the reality of that's
not necessarily true for everyone and there are a lot of obstacles in the way of people achieving what their dreams are. it's a heartbreaking reality, but it's one that calls me to action. it says to me if there is a vision of america that i believe in my bones that looks a little like the street linda grew up on, that it's my responsibility to show up to that and not to say you like to me, it's not what i thought it was, i'll just give up on helping but live in this country and not show up. like that's not an option. we can't relinquish our vision and identity, and truly more than anything, i don't want anyone to take away the love that i have for my country is not perfect but that we, in
spite of the people want to see us or talk about us, we compel this country towards its promise and that our responsibility. so that's how i reckon with it. >> well said. i think it's the thing of, you know, do we all hate our parents? find out that santa claus isn't real, the tooth fairy doesn't exist. we don't all hate our parents that because they are liars, you know? it's in perfect. it's this imperfect nation that we live in and will continue to live in and it's an attempt, it's such an ambitious and fishes thing that was written down on paper, you know, 1776, all of these ideals that they wanted to see enacted is quite ambitious if you think about it at the attempt to live up to it, the action or the act of trying
to meet those goals and dreams and standards is the thing that makes america great. the ambition of america, the experiment. and it is tough i think. it's something that on paper exists in the theoretical and in practice because of so many different places. all the different places people come from makes it challenging. but what i choose to hold onto, i guess, is this neighborhood that we're talking about in brooklyn. and it's important because it's a real place. it's not made up. it's funny, in this space to laugh about it but the truth of the matter is that there are more brooklyn's like this, right? and we are constantly being made to feel like that doesn't exist
anywhere. and why it's called the experiment of america is because what that neighborhood is proving is that it can be possible. that is possible, this idea. and so if that community can do it, so, too, and mine someday. maybe it's not today, true, but maybe ten years from now, 50 years from now, long after i'm gone -- i say that as if the user know and i'm going to be e running may -- marathons. but it's true, because maybe exist america's possibility exist at a think that's what we have to hold onto at the end of the day or else will be driven mad, or else it's easy for things like disparages it in. that's not to say a hopeful pollyanna-ish way.
it's just choosing instead to on to the best things of america. the reality is that all of our family got on a plane, a bus, about, what ever in these stories, for a reason. that there was some motivator or some colonel of truth despite whatever negatives nursing in the newspaper being written home to about seen on the news about this place that said there is something great to be found here. that is what i believe in. [applause] >> thank you all for your wonderful questions direct time for one more before move into the sign. >> pressure. hello. my name is kevin and first of all thank you for being here. it's really been inspiring to her h-1b talk about your
background in the book. my question is revolving around how can someone's color and racial orientation, sexual orientation be successful especially world we live in now looking at corporate america? assures him back and i've recently started a new job where i help increasing awareness around the inclusion of diversity. so it revolves around all this basis the book touches on and it's so easy to talk about these topics with people like myself and see myself being a millennial who is latino, gay, mccain what else that can identify with that background. the biggest gap that i see is the generations older generations in corporate america are having hard times understanding why you should incorporate this in the way i work, et cetera. this is a question to anyone on the panel to see what advice you
can have as i start this new journey. >> you know, i've done a lot of thinking around my own industry and how we began to truly change things. i sort of started thinking about it seriously around the hashtag oscars so white campaign that trend did. you know, i would hope and thought it feels good to be mad, it feels so good to be angry and blame people. but here's what i know to be true. hollywood doesn't gather every month and say, are we still so white? we are still so white? got it. everybody sticking to that. it's complicated and its daily
actions of single people who do daily actions every day who most of them are not bad people. they are not mustache twirling how do we keep hollywood so white people. and i know that to be true because my entire career has been me advocating for myself and me advocating for my characters with people who don't know my experience, but people who are not bad people. most of them are not bad people, they just don't know. and it's exhausting to be the person who has to teach, but that's what we have to do. if you want to say i'm so sick of teaching people, okay, then don't teach people. but the reality is my experience
in advocating for myself, one on one, and advocating on a big level for more systemic change is that you can actually have a little bit of faith in peoples goodness, and in peoples ability to change. that doesn't mean it's easy but it means that we can approach one another from a a place of getting one another benefit of the doubt and saying if you know me and you like me, and you see that i'm a deserving person who can be here, maybe there's an opportunity for a conversation that can help you see things a little bit differently. i know i'm talking about it in broad terms but i've had these conversation. i've had them one-on-one. i've had been in larger context with whole companies and studios invoices like linda's coming to the reducing listen to the impact that the choices you make
on a daily basis have, but you have those conversations not from place of anger and not from a place of assuming that people are determined to think one thing, and truly give the benefit of the debt and showing up in believing that people can open the way their minds and the way that they think about things has served me in my career and in my greater efforts. that i think it's the best advice i can share from my personal experience. [applause] >> i would just say, and in your position, it's about how are you being treated and how included you feel in the corporation is the way that your corporation invests in your work to include
others. so it starts with you. i think being able to make sure the basics like are you getting paid as the same as someone else in the same position as you are? are you being accommodated in your position? and also you doing this for other people. like you are working from a place of service even though sometimes we met up think that, like it's not the nonprofit or you were doing organizing but, in fact, you can serve anywhere that you are. for me my benchmark is how i might be treated in that space is going to be the reflection of how another woman looks like me is going to be treated in that place. so i'm going to assert my power, my self-worth, my dignity, my integrity to be whole human being so that when i am not in that space, that same wholeness that i quitted for me is afforded to someone else who looks like me. [applause]
>> yes, i agree with both of what has been said. i would underscore what america was saying, as far as the teaching element. we work in the same industry. i think rather than looking at an opportunity to be angry and tv made angry yet again, i think there's something to taking a look at it as something, look at it like i have the opportunity right now to hold someone's ear to really educate. i have, i am actually able to be in this space with this individual to course correct. this is to borrow an opera, a teachable moment, right? but really truly it is that because i don't know what you don't know but what i do know is that you can't unknow something. so if i tell you something and if i say it with radical love and if i say it from the
attention behind it isn't to shame because they are not bad people, the intention is not to embarrass, humiliate, spotlight, get someone -- the intention is not that. the intention is actually to put a focus on an absence here or a lack. that is the attention. i think we must do that because here's the reality of the situation. america, the face of america or the face of america as we know it is and has change. so there are more of us were going to be lining up for jobs and opportunities who are potentially going to be left behind and out of the conversation, or by going to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder equally with all of the old america, that older generation you are referring to and really actually benefit from whatever it is they're doing.
so it becomes your responsibility as a number of this global family to do something to help the people who stand behind you, beside you come in front of you. so you have to say something. i think have to say something can identify something if it is that, if you're noticing in our industry that the people who are doing hair are not as trained in yours and you need to say something so that the next group of people who come don't need to be made to feel like they are inadequate or feel as if they are less than, right? you have to say something. it doesn't have to be hurtful. it's all about intention. you can see anything. it's how you say it. that's not necessarily mean that you're saying it in a way that is palatable or comfortable to the recipient. it is just saying it from a space that is respectful and can actually be heard. [applause]
>> i had to say that i worry in this day and age of social media and everyone being able to say whatever they want that we confuse like expressing ourselves for progress, right, for taking action. like lecture margaret success be did i change something for somebody, not just dedicate this thing off my chest? data say what needed to be said? data and it to them and give it to the person? what did that turn the person behind you? i think we have responsibility to kind of not come to rein in what is being -- this day and age, outrage and say how do a channel that to make it better? that's the point. >> true. [applause] >> america, linda, uzo, thank you so much, and thank you all
for joining us tonight. let's have another round of applause. [applause] >> can i quickly say something? this is her first book event, so some of the people who helped put this together are in the room. my book agent, david is here. [applause] >> as i said before, took him ten years to get me to find us a yes, and write a book. i think our editor alison, she still here or did she -- she had to go, but allison thank you wherever you are. violet to help me every step of the way. [applause] my husband was in the room who i love so much. [applause] and, of course, especially especially especially -- reflected to the especially, sorry, linda mentioned casey. casey was my co-editor. this would have never happened
without her. she's in chicago. she couldn't hear but she is as responsible for the book is anybody else so thank you casey wherever you are. i love you. [applause] >> she's not like that. she's in chicago. [laughing] i did like she was in heaven or wherever, where you are. but especially, especially the contributor because is not be what it is without use of hankey, linda. [applause] -- thank you, linda. >> those of you have book you le to get signed, which i i know y of you do, remain in your seats. we will take a moment to set the stage at which time will be calling you up row by row. thank you so much. [inaudible conversations]
the impressions of red square and patrick if the funeral freshman mike we are close to the front. when the goose-stepping arm swing elite guard marched in i first saw only hostile troops and hostile power. we had a little weight and i watched the changing of the card and look at the faces and the south my sense and yours, george, marvin, mike enron. i saw a funeral without tears say for the immediate family. i saw funeral without god and thought how sad come how lonely. i can speak for george scholz but let me say two things now. first, thanks for sending us on an unforgettable mission. second, we must succeed in request for peace. >> you can watch this and all other tv programs from the past 20 years @booktv.org.
type the author's name in the word book in the search bar at the top of the page. >> the american university is in the grips of a mass hysteria. students actually believe that they are victims of oppression at risk of the lives from racism and sexism. the degree of caterwauling is impossible to overstate. at brown, students of color occupied the president office and complained about having to meet such academic expectations attending class when they were so focused on quote, staying alive at brown. at jail, a mob of minority -- yale, highly respected sociologist and cursed in screen at him for three hours because his wife had sent an e-mail suggesting that students could
choose their own hollowing costumes free from the administration of the diversity bureaucracy. among the shouts of shut the f up, and i'm censoring that, and you are disgusting, that were directed at this mild-mannered, left-wing professor was a cry of which are dying from one of the ranters, referring to the alleged endangered status of the minority students. but my favorite moment in this parade of narcissism came from princeton. in 2015 princeton black students chanted we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. now, this phrase was first used by fannie lou hamer, a civil rights activist who was beaten in the 1950s for trying to vote. fannie lou hammer had grounds
aplenty for being sick and tired of being sick and tired. but any princeton student i don't care if he is green, purple or orange, who thinks of himself as oppressed cup is in the grip of a terrible delusion that will encumber him for the rest of his life. well, perhaps you are thinking at least the adults on campus are trying to get students a firmer grip on reality. to the contrary. the adults actively encourage the hysteria. a massive diversity bureaucracy is devoted to cultivating in students have more arcane species of self-involvement, and evermore preposterous forms of self-pity. do you want to know the reason for astronomical tuition? look no further than this bureaucratic bloat.
students regularly act that little psycho cycle drums of on before an appreciative audience of diversity demos, who use the occasion to expand their dominion. many campuses have created bias response teams, model presumably an active shooter response teams on the assumption that discrimination is so rampant and lethal that arava defense force is needed. freshman orientations and dorm sessions invariably features seminars and toxic masculinity in white privilege. students are taught that they are either the oppressed or the oppressors. if you are not female, black, hispanic, they or any of the 116 and still metastasizing categories of gender, the only way that you can escape being an oppressor is by becoming a
quote, ally. allies are something usually associated with war. and, indeed, the reigning thinking is that female students and students of color are literally in a war zone on college campuses and need allies from the opposing side to survive. am i exaggerating? i am not. >> you can watch this and all other booktv programs from the past 20 years @booktv.org. type the author's name and the word book in the search bar at the top of the page. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2, nonfiction authors and books all weekend, 20 years of television for serious readers. this weekend on afterwards journalist beth mason reports on the opiate crisis in america. she's interviewed by democratic congressman gerald connolly of virginia. also use the recent milford readers and writers festival in