tv After Words De Ray Mckesson On the Other Side of Freedom CSPAN December 30, 2018 12:02pm-1:02pm EST
by america's cable television companies. and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. next on book tv's after words, activist and pod save the people, reflects on work with black lives matter and offers from time to time work he believes moves social activism forward. interviewed by derrick johnson,
after words with guest hosts, interviewing top nonfiction authors about latest work. >> welcome, community activists. >> so good to be here. >> good to have you here. you just wrote a book? >> i did write a book. >> what's fascinating to me as persons get interviewed, this is a new experience to me. [laughter] >> i know what that's like. you're on the other side all of a sudden. >> how does the book on the other side of freedom the case for hope, why the title? >> you know, and you know in the work in activism that we spend so much time thinking about this , all the people killed by strangers, killed by police officers. the question for me was like how do we start to think about the other side of freedom, what does that look like, i wanted to think about the most important stories and lessons that i
learned in the last couple of years, i wanted to share them in one text so everything from things sort of obvious that you think about, protests, i write about my mother, what it means to be gay in this moment and activist and range of things and we need to start to thinking about if we want to get to the other side of freedom. >> host: when did you begin to seriously think aggressive policing, police brutality, what prompted your interest? >> guest: i got pulled over in 209. -- 2009. i got pulled over by police officer with gun drawn, i will never forget it. i thought that was isolated, weird thing that happened to me. i had no clue that it was happening across the country like that. so as you know, we were in the street for 400 days, people remember it as long weekend but for us a long time in the middle of the streets and most people
know mike brown's name but most don't know the police killed 10 people in the region, powell the next weekend. we were not only in the street around mike brown's death that was catalyst, we stayed in the street because so many other people got killed too. that changed everything. we now know more about policing than we did before. we know not only the data but we know the structural things. you think about like in california there's investigation of an officer that left more than a year can never result in discipline regardless of outcome. that's crazy. in cleveland destroyed disciplinary record every 2 years, in maryland, there's law that you can file anonymous complaint for everything except brutality. and i said that's wild. we spent a lot of time spending what is the data and laws and practices that we didn't know before. >> host: language is the first act. that's profound.
let me read a quote from that. language is the tube by which power is initially distributed and redistributed. it is in his hands that we find the gateway to liberation, to justice, to freedom. talk about that. >> guest: i'm fascinating by the way we use language to shape ideas. one of the reasons why we never talk about police brutality, we only talk about police violence because we think frame of police violence shows how inconsistent, you can recruit 20 more members and still have a transphobic place. people shouldn't have to experience trauma in the first place. those are the words that -- people talk about first-world countries, there's one world, you know, they're not 3 worlds, it's one world. the language actually really
matters. i know the way we talk about the world is the way it shapes about the world. >> host: like in you're california, you're black part of the majority community. >> guest: you're right. shape it is way you think about how you enter into space all of a sudden. i wanted to be thoughtful about that. you grew up in baltimore and i'm from detroit. you talk about growing up with your grandmother. >> great grandmother. >> tell me about this experience, i'm asking you because my great aunt was like my grandmother. i used to love being in church and the choir would be singing and i would get under her and i would take a nap. i was the only child. >> i have oldest sister, we are
not twins. both of my parents were addicted to drugs, my father raised us, my mother left when i was 3, came back to when i was 30. >> who raised you? >> my father raised you. >> often times we talk about absent fathers but your father not only was present but primary. >> my father is amazing. he raised us, my great grandmother helped him, she moved in and she was with us until sixth grade, he got married. interesting we talk to him about it, it was my great grandmother with us, she raised us with him and then she moved out in sixth grade and it was just him. we hasn't been used to just him. he would tell us the clean up. this isn't how we experienced you before.
growing up in baltimore was interesting. we used to sleep on the floor when gunshots got closed. i couldn't go out the porch. but that was -- we often talk about what it means to grow up poor and that was my experience as a kid. >> host: growing up that way sometimes you are the poor little rich kid. you're rich compared but in grand scheme you don't realize how much you don't have but you appreciate what you have like a small yard. >> guest: i used to teach and i talked about social justice we penalize people for not having the language but they often have experiences before they have the language. as a kid i lived in food desert and didn't have a language to call it food desert. i just like that my grandmother
liked 30 minutes to grocery store. we lived in food desert. we didn't have the language but we lived through and how do we make sure we don't replicate, penalizing people for not having the language but they have the experiences. >> host: you put in the book, exemplified to remember as political act. it's a political act because you now can look back and remember those experiences but you also recognize the political nature of those experiences. so tell me why you, why now, why are you involved, why do you care? >> guest: the reason for the book i listened to the sermon, don't tell the story too soon. great title of the sermon and what he says is sometimes you can tell a story and all you see is the pain and not the purpose and if i were in the book 3 years it would have been the pain of protest.
i knew what was different from charleston to st. louis, to baltimore. i could talk about that. i couldn't talk about deems. i think about the work now, i think that there was a period of time this year where we didn't have all of the data, we knew what was right and wrong telling the story was more complicated. now we like, we know so much about mass incarceration, we know where the sleeping dogs are. the question for me now is, the question for all of us, it's not how many people are on our side but can we organize them. we have the people. the message sort of works, can we actually do something to build power in a way that it would allow us to win and strategies in organizing and another about withstanding the trauma and not enough trying to build people's capacity and tools so we can win in the end
and i think we can win. >> ferguson, missouri, baton rouge, louisiana. different outcome. is there a double standard in america? school shooting in florida where all of the young people, seem seemed to be embracing them? you didn't see the same levels of embrace of the activists who took streets in ferguson or the individual who is took the streets in baton rouge, louisiana. is there a double standard of protest in america and why? >> guest: absolutely. it's funny, people criticize some of those of us who were there in early days, you have to remember that we were the cameras, people weren't telling our stories, people weren't listening us, if we didn't have twitter and vine you wouldn't know that we were there. we have seen it change how people like all of a sudden loves being protestor because
that wasn't what it was 4 years. when white people experience trauma, white people experience trauma in groups, for black people that's part of american condition which is not a good thing and it's normal part of experience for people. when i think about the best example in charlottesville, i don't know if you remember this video but those white supremacists pushed the police, they pushed them in groups. it's like i couldn't imagine pushing -- if you or i pushed police officers like that, there would be no interview, there would be no book to talk about, we would be afterthought. in st. louis we had truth in cell phone. >> host: is it double standard with progressive conservatives or double standard with white progressives or black activists?
>> guest: we were in the streets, white people were the front line. they weren't -- 50-year-old white woman in the front and the police officer gently grabs her wrist and arrests her. >> host: that was so sweet. >> guest: you never gently walked somebody over. he did it to her. the way that the organizers set that up is that they had 15 white people walk in first because they knew police wouldn't suspect anything odd and white people walking into police department, they walked and we came at the end, it was brilliant. a way to use double standard against them and we have seen that time and time again. >> host: you worked as a teacher? >> guest: teacher. >> host: tell me some of your experiences of being a teacher and now activist, how are you able to bridge those experiences?
>> guest: the thing about teaching is one of the most important things i ever did, i taught sixth grade, high school shaky but sixth i understand. i learned a lot. like one key lesson was how to take complicated things and break them into pieces and know that every day won't be the master lesson but set us up for something bigger, that was really big. teaching every single day with first experiences with system, seeing what it's like to be the school that was only second year of ever existing and still having old textbooks. that was something i will never forget. my responsibility to young people i taught a decade ago. the kids i taught are 20, 21 now, they are adults. but then after teaching i opened
up after-school center. helping to lead that center and i worked in two public school districts. most recently in baltimore. minneapolis. seeing systematic work with adults. i layed a lot of adult work. >> host: so we talked about being raised by a single father, braking the norm, stereotypes that black men are doing their part in many cases. tell me about your experience being a gay black men in a social justice movement, was that any different? >> guest: interesting some people for whom they are homophobic who like me -- >> host: we don't like them. like i don't like black people but you're different. >> guest: that was really smart.
i'm a tool for you, i'm not -- >> host: right, right. >> guest: it's been interesting, some people what they call critic is actually hope -- homophobia. the thing under that is homophobia. nothing i can do can be radical, revolutionary transformation. it can't be. where did that come from? it's important for me to be publicly out early. i didn't want people to that's you hide to do work publicly. i think about all of the people who were shunned and i didn't want that to be my experience or anybody else's, i stay with that. i often know that homophobia is, you know, has not gone anywhere. i think the public conversation about identity is beautiful to watch. we are talking about the trans
community, the queer community in ways that we have not talked about in generations, that's powerful. i'm mindful that awareness is the first step and awareness is not the same way of having impact on outcomes. even when i think about the police, you know that the conversation about police and criminal justice is perhaps the most public conversation in generations right now and like the outcomes haven't changed. police have killed as many people in '18 as they did in '17, '15 and '16. it's important not change in outcome. >> host: for those of us who study history of civil rights, for me i say the greatest civil rights leader in that generation was randolph and his apprentice logistical genius. when you think of about how much more can he contributed being
out front? >> guest: people pushed him in the background. >> host: was he in the ground of communistic views. >> guest: if you think about all the gifts in town that people lost out on because he couldn't be in the room. you know he was a strategists, you know, he was a person saying put young people out in the front. march in washington should look like this. if you think about all of the things that weren't planned because they had to having to talk to king because he can't be in the room, i think that has changed in the moment. i think the space is generally more accepting. i think what we see now is a lot of homophobia, you're great but i don't want my kids to be gay. that comes from a place.
>> host: you actually hear this? >> guest: i didn't know you were gay, what a waste. just because i'm not marrying you love isn't real. you've been for long -- >> host: it's your book, man, not mine. >> guest: part of the book is how we build community. you are seen much quieter time in the country around criminal justice, around civil rights, it's cool now as popular, everybody is talking about it, what do you think that we could get now -- >> host: i don't know that i've ever seen a more quiet time. what ferguson created was a democracy of media for the first time every person with a smartphone in hand became a cameraman and commentator. growing up in detroit i've always seen levels of aggressive policing.
on the other side how do we control hope for interest. you're a part of a continuum and how are we being accountable to other outside of necessary phobias and really focus on outcomes and so i applaud young activists because i can see the next generation. that's your book. [laughter] >> if you think about the midterms, one of the things underreported is 60 million people voted for democrats in the midterms, only 63 million people voted for trump. it's only the second time in history where it's been that close. one of the reminders that the strategy is actually work to go get people out, to get people to care and that the numbers are on our side.
reverend jackson says keep hope alive. weigh -- why is hope important? >> guest: i think when we say because people bend it, the notion that we believe that our tomorrows can be better than our today and hope isn't magic, we have to fight for it. everybody that came out in the streets in early days deeply rooted in hope that this can't be the best version of the system that we've got and i'm mindful. when you think about the tax bill, they can rewrite tax bill, don't tell me we have to wait 10,000 years to end mass incarceration. you were talking about voting, we created a voting system that
is big part of power. make sure that we are the people who hold the ropes. that has to be part of it too. >> host: i like the fact that you see white supremacy as a bully, explain that. >> guest: thinking of ills that we see in the world, when i say bully, started from somebody asking me if i would meet with trump, i don't know if it's my job to tell the bully to stop bullying, i don't know it's my job to convince that i'm a whole human person. when i think about bully, the combination of a system that bullying is a thing that becomes pervasive even when the bully is not there, you start to think about the bully. remind how many people enable it, how many people are quiet, you think about trump as great
example of there are a lot of people who think history of injustice in the country began with muslim ban. cousins, sisters, employers being deported. the bully may not be bullying you today but the presence creates downstream and stream that affects us all. >> host: we should go meet with trump and can't take us all meet with trump? >> guest: he's not listening. some people disagree -- >> host: i don't think he has the capacity to hear. >> guest: right. >> host: it's your book. [laughter] >> host: what is your vision for the future? >> guest: i'm obsessed, data piece, we spend work on policies, laws and practices because we think house bill and
part of work to define piece and have whole thing fall down and figure out what is the biggest levers here, parole boards, what are the things that when we fix it it'll take a whole piece down and we don't want piece by piece strategy. that's part of the work. the second is how do we decide to tell stories. it came out during the tour. i'm more believe that there's limit to empathy, 20 years or 30 years, 50 years, race injustice, empathy was the answer. if we showed people the true conditions and i think that what i'm reminded with empathy that empathy is power that dynamic is shared. white supremacy, the majority of people, it's not shared. what it becomes it's a lot of
people's pain. i need a documentary that shows how we built the system and allows that to happen. that's what we are not doing. interestingly how -- every story is a lesson in power. people that nobody wants to work with. that actually tells a story about accountability in police department. bad boys, utopia, movies that people really like. police officers can do whatever they want and bad boys are shooting in crowd which is animated and that's a telling part. >> host: many mentors are veterans and they talk about the juncture when they shifted from leadership from john lewis and argument was on one side, you know, the need to appeal to
man's heart and response is, the heart is like another organ in the body like the liver, has no compassion. it's about power. that's pretty much what you're saying. argument brought forward today. i'm accountable to ancestors that came before me. i'm accountable to young people i provide access to today. who are you accountable to? >> guest: i'm mindful that we didn't invent resistance in the middle of the street. we didn't incover injustice for the first time. we did see it differently and the tools were different from the people that came before us. i think about accountability,
how i do things that i said i was going to do and when i think about the beginning of the movement, we were going to tell the truth in public. every day we came outside and said we will tell the truth. we might not tell everything but we know mike brown should be alive. i think about accountability. trying to dismantle system's instructions, that's my passion, when i think about the young people that i work with across the country, community operationers, it's dumb that we are trying to figure out tools and resources so you can do best work and i'm trying to show up and help you in whatever way we can. they said, can you help, let us know how you want us to help. some stuff with city council. we are here to make sure we build capacity.
you know your space better than we could ever. you have a gift and talent and part of what we can do is make sure that you have as much power as you do. >> host: i woke up one morning and i realized i'm no longer young. looks are distinguished and it is the juncture where millennials are no longer young people, how are you training next group of activist that is come behind you? >> guest: one of the things i tell people younger than me, you can know the work too. style that's old and outdated and dangerous, small set of people who know the strategies, tactics and the plan and everybody else should just follow them. i believe i know mass incarsation, i'm not the only person that can understand this.
make it accessible. i always say if i can't explain it to my aunt, it doesn't matter. not because my aunt is stupid but she's sitting watching cnn all day. this isn't too hard. you can know all of this work and i spend a lot of time with younger people trying to remind them of that. i was in youth prison not too long ago, the crime is really an action with consequence. if somebody made this up, you know, sometimes we think about the system as permanent thing as a result of people's choices. >> host: invention of the white race. talk about that? >> guest: in his book. >> host: in his book.
>> guest: in the book i talk about helping understanding the whitens moves and what we can do about it, metaphor for power. two ways to think of power. we can either think of power piece of pie. always game of winners and losers. the goal is to get as many slices as possible. so like it's not pieces of pie, he's saying metaphor where we live in space where there are finite resources. nobody loses and everybody eats breakfast, lunch and dinner. nobody loses when everybody can read and write. one of the ways that we think -- the quality is everybody getting the same thing, equity, people
get what they deserve and justice is almost the work of equity. when we think about white supremacy that's one frame and didn't write per se, we all inhale whether we want it or not, part that we see we are inhaling and does as little damage as possible. we think about the culture that white supremacy creates and you think about the right to comfort, the right to comfort is a by-product of dominant culture, power equals comfort, when you have power, people protesting, colin kaepernick, he disrupted the right to comfort in the nfl. we try and name the people the way people inhale it and participate it.
>> guest: you see it move and even think about i don't know if you saw the story of the father who he killed his two kids and wife because he wanted to start over. the way that was covered, you see the beautiful family photos, he's being humanized where our black victims don't even get treated that well and the idea that white is what it means to be human and alive, like it's reinforcing every single part of society. ellen pompeo's interview cus -- was brilliant. she ends interview, in white peoplings -- people this is our to do because we created this. >> host: almost like the movie,
i hated the movie exorcist. you've mentioned james baldwin. both extremely talented. the king speech. randolph concept of march. king gave the best speech of the day, that's all he did but they wouldn't allow james baldwin to speak. profound thinker and one of my heros because when i head the fire next time he was talking directly to me particularly growing up in harlem. what would you say to a young man growing up in baltimore today in the middle of the hood a aggressive policing all around them, what would be your advice?
>> one of the things that we learned from baldwin is that the world is bigger than the world we grew up in, you know. you see the transformation in baldwin's writing when he traveled and see how different power looks in other places, how similar things look, think about being a young man in baltimore, i just thought morgan was the only high school that existed. i hadn't traveled -- >> host: black school and white school. >> guest: what college looks like. i had never been -- baltimore is my whole world. that was as big as the world was. the world in tv it was interesting and cool but not what i would ever experience. one of the things i say to people in baltimore today, remember the world is bigger than your block and you have a right to access that. you should be able to experience all of those things and that's real. the second is that people made this up, in the city of
baltimore, sometimes and i was a victim, it is the way it is, of course, this is what it is. and, you know, one of the school systems that's interesting we are renovating every single school in portfolio in decade, every building renovated or rebuilt and it's fascinating because you see communities that have never had -- they've never had natural light because they are old brick buildings. all of a sudden, wow, i never thought this could be my neighborhood. you deserve light. it's not -- you shouldn't even be congratulating for building a building that works. this is late, you know. and there are a lot of those things where people don't know what to fight for because they haven't ever seen it before or don't know that they are worthy of it. so my advice to young people, the systems exist for you and make those big asks and third try to make yourself positive.
my father moved us to a different -- he moved us out of city, we split time, we lived in city with granada mother on weekends and went to school in the county, being in different environment changed so much. you shouldn't have to leave city to get an education and you don't necessarily had to today like my father did 30 years ago. i was in student government, they provided level of access that i didn't know existed before. so i say keep trying. one of the things i worry about baltimore, i ran for mayor and other things in the city, what does it mean, i think they are down 3 movie theaters and none by where black people live which is wild. you don't have -- not a place, you know, skating rink opened and closed for so long. movie theet near the county doesn't let black kids go there --
>> host: what did you learn about politics and what did you learn about yourself? >> guest: best organizers are relationships, the only thing i would do differently, i would skip forum. it was a crazy day from the very first day, you know. i went to a lot of community forums and it wasn't that the people weren't passionate, the people who came to forum already made up their mind whether they liked me or not they decided. >> host: real people and real scenarios. >> guest: for the mayor's race, we did house parties. dm on twitter, i will get people in my house and will you come, 40 people, people sitting in
staircases, like that type of organizing is a reminder that nothing beats that. that's always the thing, that was one. the second is there are a lot of people who had never asked their vision of baltimore. they were told -- they never asked the question of what they thought. that was a big deal. third, one of the reasons that i ran, i remember i was back in the city and i had platform and i want to do work, i want to figure out who to support running for mayor. it's not who i disagree with somebody running, it's 80 days out and no platforms, literally, people running on name and permity -- personality and that wasn't fair. i would go to forums and people say i believe in public education. that actually isn't enough in school system that's struggling and city that's plagued by violence and drugs. i learned a lot about how we
talked about solutions and public that people have entrusted to be able to understand solutions. >> host: what did you learn about yourself? >> guest: people are unkind. it's different to be young and be in public space and i will never forget, it's interesting seeing people running for office, i did a fundraiser in new york, you know coming from a poor city there sometimes isn't money in your city. i didn't do fundraiser here and national headline, the place you grew up in. when i did it it was a scandal. people are like what have you done in baltimore. all the people donated campaign lived in other places.
third highest number of donors in the city of baltimore. all of the things having to live through and -- twitter was my home back then. i had to come back and i didn't do that as candidate in the same way. i learned a lot about patience and stamina. >> do you see yourself running again? >> maybe. i believe in the strategy. the other thing is people that did bernie's fundraising did mine and it was one of the first set of small races, now they've done a lot of cool things but it was one of the first and we raised more money on twitter than any race in the country, we raised a lot of money. i learned a lot about small donor campaign. some days we raised $20,000 and some days $200, $3,000 but came
in really wild shifts, anything different we would have spend money whereas use today budgeting we either have the money or we don't. that was different. >> host: going back to concept. people say, well, head of legacy organization, the movement with black lives matter, what are you going to do about them? social justice is not competition, there's room for everyone. how do you feel about this concept that old versus young, someone must win to be champion of who is voice of social justice, what's your opinion on that? >> i think about the rooms that we sat in four years ago that there were a lot of older people that wanted to be our parents and not our peers. we are like -- we got the
speeches. if you are able to help us in this moment, that's not helpful. i think that has changed. like i said, the notion of white supremacy is smog, we participate in it and don't pay attention. the idea of scarcity is part of what the smog shows up like. the notion that there could be one person to fight for, and i'm sensitive because one of the things i know to be true from community is part of what it means to be marginalized you live on the margin and you're unheard and you know like i know there are people in this moment who have been heard and seen for the first time, right, they become addicted to being heard and seen more than being free. they know that really well.
they are suddenly displaced and how do we actually remind people that part of the movement, the movement has to grow as you grow and that we have to grow as the movement grows and we should be mindful about people's integrity, money, time and resources and all those things but it is -- we can't create this system that says when i go the work goes. a lot of people want to be the only interest and i say that somebody with big platform, i'm the person to say, they are like, i can be a lot of people -- i'm not everybody's and i'm okay with that. i want you to get to the work. whatever i can do to help you get there, i'm cool with that. >> host: i grew up in detroit, went to mississippi, came back to mississippi, a lot of my training was understanding the value of intergenerational
movement. >> guest: south. >> host: most successful when it's generational movement because we all have our values to add and creator he's paid cool trick, there's many old school as young fools but there are a lot of seasoned veterans as there are various young people and often times we must get away from the fog and make sure we -- we coalesce how we bring how we bring to the table and in that transitional -- in that transition, where do you think movement for black lives, black lives movement, where is it going to go in the future, where is it headed? >> guest: mindful, one of the most beautiful things i believe about protests in the beginning is that no organization started the protest, no coalition started the protest, people came outside and i never confused the work of organizations with the
group of collective action, a lot of organization that is don't have collective action and a lot of collective action whether you have or not. i think where the movement goes and the movement began with people coming outside saying this isn't right and i want to do whatever i can to end it. some people who started organization, some people who started coalitions but that's not how protests began. that's not how movements begin and i'm mindful of that. when i think about what comes next, a decade long work of activism, it wasn't a year, i think about the first four years since the protests began about awareness, building a language and common understanding that there is a problem and i'm hopeful that the next set of years is how do we change the system and the things that aren't always -- we are doing felony, it's not theft over 3,000 felony.
those things aren't as sexy as private prisons to people. you change the theft amount, how do we organize around some of the things that people don't see and have real impact on people's lives. >> host: you talk about mass incarceration, is that the biggest problem today? >> one is the police. second is is incarceration. they show up in people's lives differently but they all intersect. when i think about mass incarceration, we talk about the racial wealth gap. you free everybody from jail, you need to figure out how do we make people's lives whole again. i think that these three issues
are the issues that have biggest opportunity. i think those are obviously really important these are the macro things. one in 3 black men to be incarcerated in lifetime, that's a wild thing. >> host: slavery under another name. >> guest: yeah. >> host: i want to go back to your father. what did he contribute to your development? >> guest: daddy or calvin. that had profound impact when people hit rock bottom and recover. those things changed the way i understand empathy and changed the way what it means to
actually support people, what it means to help people accountable, all those things i learned from both him and his love and seeing him grow. the second is i really understood what it meant to try and make something better for the people that come after you, you know, what is that responsibility and sacrifice looks like. all of the things my dad couldn't do because he had two things and that was okay. i understand like my role as a parent is to do these things and that's responsibilities, funny to see him traveling. heist at disney world. what are you doing at disney world? [laughter] >> guest: cool to see him and be able to be a friend as an adult. he was my father. he was much more of authority figure and now being adult we can both call each other and press in different way. and my mother is around now in a way she wasn't before, trying to build the relationship.
one of the reasons why i talk about in the book is i'm mindful that we carry more things in every room than we name all of the time. one of the things i carry in every room the idea that means to be worthy, because she left when i was a kid, the idea that, you know, if your mother leaves, maybe you actually anybody can leave, right, you aren't worthy, part of work as an adult. to not have issue of worthiness not show up in the work. >> host: that's profound. i can relate back to some of my friends who come from different households of stability, right? as we talk about our experience growing up in detroit i can see that come through but i also see come through the ability to em -- empathize and see people through their problems, we see work that we do because we can see through the human in all
individuals and -- >> guest: we don't have to do it this way, when i think about baltimore, it's like, you know, we have more murders per capita than anywhere in the country. poverty and crimes about addiction. we know what to do about poverty and addiction. we know now, lindsey lohan is not going to methadone clinics, how do we scale in-patient treatment. we know what some of the solutions look like but we haven't made public investment. >> host: most people don't recognize how he was in many ways a race man. einstein talked about imagination being more important than anything, race, poverty and oppression keeps us from seeing the way we can transform the
nation for the better? >> guest: i think that -- you know this, one of the things that i think is true when you grow up in marginalized community, understanding the constraints, you knew what street you could walk down and which you couldn't. you knew when you could be outside and when you couldn't be outside. you knew how much money your family had. you might cry about the toy but you will not flip out because you know the capacity of the people around you. that's all we can see. that's the only way we think about the world. so if you think about imagination as skill and all skills become better when we practice them, the skill, imagination i believe is to name all of the constraints and move them out of the way, so what does it mean, what does it mean to think about community, you see kids on a corner and you call an after school provider to
come service them or put them in a program instead of locking them. that's a different way to think about 311 or 911. we know that they should grow up in environments. how do we start to reimagine things, i'm interested in that. do i think about imagination as skill. you think about one of the things that allows white people to be free in imagination, constraints are always theoretical for them. you think about kavanaugh's appointment to the supreme court is that all these rules, all the traditions, all these things, you feel, like a person of color, it would have been -- >> host: temperament, behavior. >> guest: everything. white people constraint is interesting, you are like how many -- you are seeking out
trauma so much. this is wild. how do we start to think about imagination as a real skill? it's not because we by default have limited imagination, not because we don't believe, seeing con straipts have been matter of survival for us, if nothing more know how to survive. >> host: could you imagine being in the seat that you're sitting now? >> guest: no. i remember the day that i decided to go to st. louis. i drove to st. louis in the middle of the night. i'm going to go. and i really was, i didn't know what it meant to be called until the protest. i didn't know what it meant to just sort of walking the path because there were all the things, that was how we made it
out of there. no plan, no money, no nothing. we did it anyway. and that really stuck with me. >> host: we share mutual friends >> guest: yeah. >> host: she tells me funny story. you tweeted. do you see yourself as a tool through social media or do you see social media as tool for your voice? >> i think what internet allows us to do is pace of impact. i think about st. louis and get 5,000 of people to show up in one place. that was my role. mobilize people. we could have gotten the same result in much slower on the phone. accelerated the pace of impact. i have a complicated with that platform than most platforms.
i have seen that part of the platform. i have seen the beauty of people being able to use their voice, so i don't think about it as replacement problem organizing, i do think there could be done quicker. if you think 30 years ago, you were young activist, you couldn't talk to a million people without validator, tv show, raid out show. people should pay attention to this. you think about people with influence, all of a sudden we could be in proximity to them and not have to meet them. >> host: in your book you point out that police kill around 1200 people a year, injury 50,000 people annually, black people are 3 times more likely than whites to be killed and more likely unarmed and baltimore going back to 2014 every man killed by police was a black man and 2015, 14 cities the only
people killed by police were black. why does talking about this make people uncomfortable? >> guest: i think for a couple of reasons, race actually makes you feel uncomfortable. a lot of people who you talk about reconciliation, the truth of racism gets people, white people in particularly who think we should just move on. the second is police have done incredible job of notion of accountability and police departments lead to chaos. elected officials, it's wild that -- i don't know if you saw the press conference in baton rouge after officers weren't charge. the police chief who was black, if you have a complaint call it in. we want to work with you. in baton rouge you can't call
complaints of police. >> host: great script. >> guest: police created narrative and a system that they won't be able to be held accountable. and the third is some people just don't know. that's how we spend a lot of time uncovering some of the data, you read the thing black people are likely to be unarmed and nonthreatening. in public idea every person had a gun, in 65% of cases where -- 65% of cases where there was a knife was weapon an officer just used deadly force as first thing and you're like, a knife, people aren't like professional knife throwers, they weren't drawing the knife, they were holding it and you shot them. >> host: bringing knife to gunfight, you lose every time. >> guest: yeah, i want to believe that you're more equipped to deal with that ran
random private citizens. we have a lot of work to do. i think that people are generally uncomfortable talking about race. new data that shows race not partisanship is actually the dividing line. when you ask people to like decipher between fact and fiction, race is better indicater on how they are affiliated. >> host: we support the affordable care but we don't want obamacare, same thing. >> guest: if you ask people is unemployment rate like high or low, and like that answer you can map that to people's racial beliefs and that is more correlating than party belief. >> host: final 2 minutes. pick up the book, i read it, what would you like the reader to walk away with, what's the lesson in the book? >> guest: yeah, so there are a set of lesson that is go from how do we think about protestor to policing differently to our
own personal stories to identity. what i want people to do is take it and i want people to figure out what parts they can use in their work. i wanted to write a book that wasn't just my story but things that i thought people could use to do work better. >> host: right. what's next for you? .. .. a lot of time looking for those things we think will be the biggest levers.
>> host: this has been enjoyable. >> guest: great to meet you. >> this year, booktv marx our 20th year of bring you the country's top nonfiction authors and their latest books. find us every weekend on c-span2 or online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. we're going get our program started now. there will be coffee and food