tv After Words Jamil Jivani Why Young Men CSPAN September 5, 2019 11:44pm-12:47am EDT
affixed on "after words," the rise in violence committed by young men around the world. interviewed by brooklyn law school professor capers. "after words" is a program with a good guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. >> host: so, jamil jivani i just have to say it is a privilege to be able to sit
across from you and talk about your book why young men. thoroughly enjoyable. i'm going to say i read this book in one sitting and it was so fascinating to read about your journey from growing up in a segregated neighborhood being very close to the edge of becoming a criminal, being deemed illiterate, good colleges and university, yale law school and becoming sort of this youth activist in traveling around the world and really about your journey of trying to figure out why young men get attracted to violence to keep the violence i found it fascinating. congratulations. but i'm going to ask i guess i want to start off with this wealth was the impetus for this book if you could tell me. >> like most of the rest of the
world i had observed this pair is attacking 2015 organized by a few young men who'd grown up europe mostly belgium and france and they turned against europe, these were european men who decided they wanted to join a foreign enemy which was the islamic state o of crisis and attack their own hometown suffice hundred people were killed or injured in baseball this and i wasn't a person who ever thought about jihad is, violence or terrorism before, but i saw these guys and i thought to myself they grew up in a neighborhood not a very different froverydifferent fromt of newcomers, second-generation european. they've been in and out of the criminal lifestyle and have seen their friend go through all sorts of trauma. they were very much people i could havlikethat have grown upt their life wound up in these
places i had a hard time understanding so i wanted to know what to do that. and i saw a lot of emotion in frustration that i think is relatable to the young men of all sorts of backgrounds in different places and i wanted to write a book that my explain why we lose young men and movements like that and what we might learn from their experiences that they are not these young men can teach us nothing but they are the result of a lot of things everyday people can relate to. >> host: i'm going to cut to the chase. your book is titled why young men. what is the answer? is it simple or more complicated? >> i don't think that there is a simple answer but to the extent i ca can get it in less than 300 pages, we have movement that are tapping into a sort of unique
frustration men are experienci experiencing. i believe we have a crisis of masculinity happening at the moment where it seems t what ite a man is changing and the love of boys and young men are changing. i think of myself as being in the middle of this generation trying to figure out if men are not supposed to be the bread winners of the family anymore or having all these privileges and now we share the labor market if we share the responsibility to earn money with women, what does all that mean them, and as my generation is figuring that out, they are looking online and in the streets into their groups finding answers i don't think are helpful. some are good but some are not and i wanted to write a book that would provide some of the answer but show why they are so good at trying to answer that question and give meaning to young men looking for the answer and i have to tell you i appreciate the short answer but
i also recognize you get a much more complete layout and that's why it's so interesting. i think i found myself asking questions a little bit differently though as i was reading the book. wondering why young men and i was thinking like why not young women because they are growing up in these segregated environments, so that might be a different way of thinking about it. is it about the way we are raising boys and do something abouinto somethingabout the wayg girls, like you have any thoughts? >> also why not order amends for the population is so disproportionately involved suppress the desire was to look at why is this the group that is
kind of the backbone of a lot of this type of violence and i also wanted to explore are there things about this current generation i belong to that are unique and i think the introduction of that technology is an example where trying to figure out where divided into the world around me we are looking at new technologies that are pulling us to sotheby's violence movementviolent movemes partly what makes this generation unique and why we have a unique challenge if theyd we're also at a time where the way families have been structured has been questioned a lot. i find it weird for instance to go on tv and say boys need their dad. i think it would be seen as
controversial in some circles. if we are one of the first generations where that is a controversial idea i want to explore why and is it true because you know in the book i talk a lot abou about about fatd the import to such a masculine role model and i think that's cultural pushes the question is wrong. >> i want to push back a little i find the topic fascinating and i think a lot about the gender issues and masculinity issues. one way of thinking about this is we give little boys toy guns and we are teaching them to sort of value violence and the whole conversation on masculinity like maybe we should get rid of that.
i don't think that they necessarily have to accompany toy guns. there is another way to role model masculinity and whether they should be doing differently is a different question than whether they should be there in the first place. so i take the point that there are ways for a present father to be harmful for example. your dad could be an alcoholic, he could treat your mom poorly. in the book i talk about the snapshots of my life where my father was around and often they are not pleasant experiences that i wonder if there was more damage with a little bit of time he was around him if he had been gone the whole time. but i do think in the house with a lot of the psychological research backs this up there is but i would call a throne of masculinity and femininity in the household and wha what theyn by that is children were looking for this example of what are
they supposed to mimic. what are they role modeling themselves after and when they don't have a man in the house to show them it isn't just what you see on tv but it's also holding your mom's hand and being a nice person and looking after your children and paying taxes and go to work it isn't just the glamour that we see on television or the internet or whether that should be glamorous is another story but learning that it looks like that is really important because what you find i think when you find concentrations not in the house what you think is an overreliance on pop culture to fill the void. it's incredibly popular multi-billion-dollar industry and most of the consumers treat it as if it is hollywood
entertainment but if you are a kid where they are not just entertainers those are your figures when you are expecting it to answer all those questio questions. so yes i do take the point that there are ways but it doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to have one of positive masculine role models for our boys. >> host: you opened the book talking to her father. can you talk more about that? >> and immigrant he came to canada to attend a wedding where he met my mom was a white canadian. he did with young people do when they meet at weddings and i came along so they tried to make the situation work. i think of my father as a tragic figure in the sense that his
life was incredibly inspiring up until that point he was born in oregon because of antiblack prejudice among his adopted family that he pulled himself up and did what i think is incredibly difficult, put himself in school and worked his way all the way up to the hotel in london and i think about that and that is an inspiring story but when it came to the family dynamics when i come along and my younger sisters come along and he's trying to be a husband and dad it falls apart and that stems from the fact he had never seen a family function. people who have a healthy family don't appreciate how counterintuitive it can be to sit on the couch with your wife and kids and feel comfortable in that space. he didn't know how to do that in baseball that by the time he
leaves my life and i'm a teenager and he's not around anymore, i know i have may be good reason to be be angry tows him and there are still days i feel that, but i also kind of understand to some extent what he was battling just to be there. >> host: support of your book is about the repercussions of not having a father figure. how do we find a replacement for that and not just for you but the children in the u.s. that are basically living in single-family household. i am imagining that is a fraction of what's going on because you then have the fathers bought emotionally there so are their substitutes?
>> were there other possible role models around or was that absent? >> i had boy scouts, church group leaders or whatever. i heard so many students who told me i'm the first black male teachers that they ever had. so is it not having enough male figures of color that's a great question. certainly if you have a robust set of community services where the organization is like the boy scouts or mentorship programs or
athletic programs where you can find them in different places that is a tactic. we were a new suburb that had been urbanized particularly forr the stipulation that moved to canada so we didn't have a lot of postings. even to this day i meet with the boys at my old middle school and still have those services 20 years later so that was an unfortunate reality but i do think that there are other sources to emerge and where possible either as teachers or community programs that share the space of the schools of people see more coming in and out of the doors i think that's important. having workers is important, men who participate in churches, mosques, synagogues. i think a lot of it is about
male involvement and the idea that you can just work and earn some money and that is enough to contribute. i'm not sure if it is ever a good idea but that doesn't work anymore. the truth is to advocate a good life in america you need to have two incomes in the household so if you want to download responsibility to look after, i think they need to play a bigger role in the. sophistical church that contributing that's a responsibility mandated feel especially as the economic role is changing because that is an inevitability right now. >> host: since you didn't have those other men around cummings turned to gangster rap. can you talk about why that was so vague in your life and also seems like in the lives of your
friends. >> the reason that it's so popular around the world is because it's the same reason we love the movies, the southpaw type of characters say the world will boss you around and tell you this end of that. you don't have to listen to that. when you are a young person, it's natural to find those characters compelling. the difference though i think for me and my friends we looked at those characters and thought we didn't think we were going to get a good job when we were over and we didn't understand what getting a good job with even look like. ..
>> that pain and frustration that we are particularly an angry group of people with high risk-taking and high in testosterone on the pursuit of admiration and respect and if we don't get it we are mad. when you hear somebody also mad you say i feel that. we are tapped into the same frequency. >> so what is the answer?
because i could read that section as what we need to do to police gangster rap more so they are not that impressionable teenagers or teenage boys but if not gangster rap it is something else. so should we be making laws that bar gangster rap quick snow. maybe should you as a parent discourage you from listing to violent music? yes. that one of the things that when you talk about other forms of violence and then to attack a mosque that narrative
will go back to rhetoric to have the politicians that say this and then they attack a mosque so that is an important piece of the puzzle to understand this. with a billion-dollar industry talking about guns is that rhetoric not relevant like nepsy hustle is killed in los angeles maybe he talked about death and killing and being his wand - - being a crip his entire career is relevant. i wish we granted that form of violence the same the same respect. and then there is a philosophy that is not solely
attributable. to get across i am at a point in my life i can listen to kendrick lamarr what it was like growing up in that gang-related neighborhood and i appreciate that sociological analysis. but at 17 years old i thought he was a prophet. not him because i'm older but how to live my life. but that is the distinction. >> that's why found your book so provocative and fascinating i'm sure you've heard this before. some of the arguments and then
to spend more time with the children but at the same time you also make the more progressive argument. that you are right. and then to be considered a right wing evangelist this stems from the fact and then to write this around the people we are talking about. been on the political spectrum. and then to think about what
we don't know how to do. and the conversation from all ends of the spectrum. and that the republicans or democrats are doing better on these issues that i want to talk to that person. >> so one more question. you said you are 31? but around that specific time you were growing up. so no real role models of color but you had gangster rap but i wonder how different your life would have been if you had grown up when obama was president. those formative years with him
being president. >> i thank you are right because president obama by the time he came along i said this is another half white or half kenyan dude. and i appreciated his example a lot and it came at a time i'm not sure i would have gone to yale law school without someone like him. and maybe not that crazy. and those moments and to strongly applied and then to the importance of fatherhood, culture, committee
strength and not that jay-z is a toxic figure necessarily that i don't think for perhaps political expediency president obama was as clear about the morality as a wish he was that postpresidential life he has been more clear probably because he doesn't need the jay-z endorsement anymore. [laughter] but i appreciate the morehouse college speech for example where he was tapping into that is a wealth of wisdom how much potential existed black boys and then to remind them that you show that two people.
and those that are far removed what i would call traditional family values and the checkered history and that is part of the obama era to appreciate more to send that out. and those that are proud to be her husband. [laughter] >> and in love. >> to explore radicalization and i want to get to that in more detail but first let's talk about you and and this is interesting and then you really came close to joining the other side. you actually came close to
buying a gun at one point. and you describe that as a turning point. so i just marked off the bottom of the page. >> this is from a chapter called capacity to aspire. >> i went to one of my closest friends and asked him to locate a good for me. a few days later he confirmed he could get one. he quoted me a price and said i need to make sure i was serious and it would take some work from his friends to get it perk i said i would get back to him. then i went home and cried i'm not sure why although it wasn't rare in those days but i was scared. i knew i was about to cross a line that would be very difficult to return from and
myself in a life it would justify the way the police already treated me and people who look like me. and then causer to lose faith in me altogether and then coming up in conversation and then forgot about it. so possibly he knew how bad of a decision would be to cross that line. >> that's a great passage so why was the gun so important? what did it symbolize to you? >> it represented i had spent a lot of my time in high school talking about wanting
to be a gangster like these hollywood figures that we looked up to on television. i want to show i am serious about this and i want you to welcome me into your network and earn money like you and be like you my best friend at the time was in and out of jail and i thought this would be a way to show him i'm not just a young kid anymore but becoming a man. but to see what owning a gun does to people. and then just to feel safe to carry a gun around but then the likelihood to be caught with that at some point is incredibly high so when i say that i was scared that's what i was feeling because it represented seriousness that
would make them seem like a real gangster but i actually want to be a gangster? and i tell that story because it shows how close i came to my life being potentially completely different. and then maybe never would have become aware i am now. to remind people how close those moments are because what i try to champion in my work if you like second chances they make mistakes especially those who are incarcerated in the united states and a lot of people what i would can say continuous or dubious circumstances people are sentenced differently and when
you know how much potential can be lost with the split-second decisions then you better create a system that creates second chances there would be a whole lot more people like me if we gave people a chance to live up to their potential. >> if i recall maybe once you passed tenth grade they said you are a literate and then you said i better buckle down and study to graduate high school maybe go to college and then transferred to university. but dozens of things are happening at the same time. >> and what is going on - - on at the same time quick.
>> i was considered a literate and high school. thankfully that didn't hold me back as much as it might have because i had a mother who made sure i did not give up on graduating from high school. that was a very discouraging experience frankly if i would have listened nine out of tight ten times it would've dropped out after that. it was devastating so my friend lucas our friendship starts like my father passed me on to him because he introduced us then my father was gone and i had this older friend that was like an older male role model in my lif life. he was not living the life anyone would want to mimic having a hard time himself that when he was incarcerated
at my first year of university after i had a turnaround when i was able to reengage with the school and get good grades at communities collagen progress academically going to that experience to see my life change very rapidly and my friends lives were not. was trying to figure out how do i help someone like lucas because i am in school my life is getting better with a light at the end of the tunnel but he was doing the same stuff at 16. so i think of him that i wish at that point and that the efforts to reach them coming out of jail and then to criticize him and judge him then we never talked again.
now i try to find a young man like him that i've learned something i could teach them something and then try to help them. >> so is it change? so what happened that he wasn't quick. >> the biggest thing in my favor compared to lucas was that i had not dropped out of school for good despite the challenges i had and illiterate. i was still connected to something. and lucas has these moments he would come out of jail and have problems and say i want to get my life together but he
was stuck. he didn't have any institutional connection so where does someone in that situation become a different person? it's hard unless you have that in your family. but the fact that i was there and i could move on to community college that was the biggest difference between us. i don't like what i'm doing to encourage me to be that better person and then we take it for granted you don't know how great you are yet but you can be a better person that you think but i see it and when you are ready i'm here and that goes a long way. people said that to me.
matt is the biggest difference maker what my family had done you blaze trails when people are showing you and where you go next that goes a long way. >> is that the capacity to aspire? >> yes because that is a concept from an nyu professor and a lot of his work is in the context of poverty in india explaining how kids make it out of poverty and some don't. i played that in my life because there are rich cultural insights you could have two people of identical families and economic but we know if you are in neighborhoods that are designated high crime most
will fall into crime and doing what they are supposed to. but they need more support they are not breaking laws. so that minority of kids exposed to crime and participate explains the understanding the cultural differences in how decision-making intersects with their circumstances. >> i will skip ahead you go to yale. you do some teaching. how do you get involved? >> a good question because at yale in some sense i was almost second by the privilege to be an ivy league student. it was hard to adjust to that life to say if you go from
someone who is fighting for a chance to prove yourself to now have all these people tell you that you are a genius. so the natural reaction was to take what i was learning as a law student and as a lawyer and apply that to the lives of the people who are struggling. i hoped it was to make a positive impact but to be real is to cope with my privilege. i don't know what to do with this i just want to share it. i don't know what else to do. it was very difficult to sit in a classroom at yale and feel comfortable like if you have the chance to connect people with resources and make sure people in positions of power understand the needs of those who are not then you should be doing that. then why are you sitting in a
classroom reading contracts from the 18 hundreds. that's how i felt and to reconcile those feelings that you may call a community organizer or to say i am learned how to be empowered person let me help others to do the same. that's different from being a lawyer. and never really wanted to be a lawyer once i learned that's not the best way to empower people. we do need good lawyers i'm not denigrating the profession but i don't want to be someone who could help people even how to talk to a lawyer or what a lawyer does. what is the broader context the lawyer is operating in. that's the empowerment i got to help more people get. >> i'm tempted to ask you about new haven but i will
save that if we have time. [laughter] so now talking about how people get radicalized that what you see between those getting radicalized through gangster rap or isys or anything else. eventually you travel to brussels and you try to figure out the lives of the two guys and i will get there but first going back in time with friends with the members of the nation of islam you go to l lewis - - louis farrakhan speech so talk about that
time. do you see similarities with the nation of islam? but you conclude that to be radicalized quick. >> that's a good question. the radicalization is on a spectrum. you have radical ideologies some of which can be helpful. the idea that being a black man and a white man to be equal to be deserved a right to vote was radical. but on the spectrum you have ideologies that lean toward promoting violence. the nation of islam is the example the fascination of malcolm x. and has not produced very much violence and louis farrakhan has gone out of his way. that said to promote ideology
to be activated where you are promoting hatred and division using divisive language it's easy for people over time that boils over. so louis farrakhan the nation of islam and what is in common with isys they both use islam to promote their version of political conflict. they have attached themselves to a brand one and a half billion people believe and to some extent that they are not really interested in promoting the moral aspects of islam or what it means for you in terms of duties to other people or that islam like other religions is a colorblind faith. those moral expectations based on your color but it is telling you that you should identify with islam because
they want to equate that with being anti- western. so the way i use it is to say make haiti - - hating the world around you acceptable to fill that void with visions of a utopia if you join this group your life will become perfect that's what these have in commo common. >> in your description going ahead with louis farrakhan and literally coming back with two different speeches. [laughter] drinking the kool-aid. >> it's the same thing the research i did with these
young muslim boys what does the white supremacist say on the internet? as much as they try to get across you are unhappy with your life and the way you are treated and the people who identify with or treated and you should blame the world around you blame america and be mad and find this completely fictionalized reality where they don't exist anymore. what is similar is we were angry but i don't think that louis farrakhan is different from the alternative reality so whenever you are unhappy
and then to fight for the alternative future where people of your particular faith or racer on top. all the tensions in those divisions and the biases disappears when your people are on top. it is fiction of course but it compels to an angry and frustrated young man. >> a few things. that integration was a - - was an abysmal failure. with the policies coming under the veil of secularism of
it's almost like they are building an identity based on exclusion. somehow that means we mean something and tha in it that ist how that works. radicalization is very powerful. prison and europe are a breeding ground for jihad u us a lot of them wind up joining the isis went to jail for selling marijuana or stealing a car part of what i'm trying to get people to understand is why would a young man who is appealing, who is drawn to the inner-city america what can he learn from the experience of a young man in europe and during those parallels is important because part of what i'm trying the challenges the idea these are
pathological trades for subgroups which is a very dangerous idea that is operated under the surface of a lot of this conversation while culture is relevant how a culture that is created by a variety o of crp factor is that everyone is connected to as opposed to something that can be uniquely placed on the shoulders of a minority group where you say this is your problem we don't have to worry about it. >> host: for the famed radicalization can happen anywhere the thing i struggle with you do a great job showing here are some of the ingredients you see
across-the-board that facilitate radicalization, but at the end of the day it's such a small fraction of people that get radicalized. i will have family members that are jehovah's witnesses and the knock on a lot of doors most people shut the door and few people open to. >> why some people open the door it's a great question. it's about timing ideologically in this young man who at the time they interacted with the recruiter or the propagandist or other men who wanted to mentor theenterthem into the criminal .
their sister had a falling out with their appearance and it's something that made them particularly distraught and vulnerable to someone that is selling them on a utopia in a perfect world somethin saluted s of who opens the door it is about what happened to you that day. you open the door and the jehovah's witness might have something you need in that moment. they are not promoting an ideology they are just using the analogy way to people open the door and i think a lot of it is about things that are hard to standardize. a lot of it is about the personal circumstances.
i generally think they don't work because of how localized in specific these issues are like if you want to push back against radicalization a lot of it is about the relationships that exist in the communities and what you see when someone opens the door to they have the support that on the other side. >> how you conclude is building up to having more youth leaders and communities working with young people especially young men. i'm going to ask about that, but i have to ask about black wives matter. >> that is a part of the book
that i probably received the most push back on a. they are a radical group and they would self identify. i suppose that is in the eye of the beholder and they also think of themselves as being radical in a good way. the people who support them if are they helping actually resolve the problems i described. i take issue with all forms of what i've called centralizing people. one of the common thread in everything we are talking about
when you claim that sort of authenticity you claim a lot of power to define who people are supposed to be. black wives matter by the nature of invoking breaks in the way they do in their activism would be a fringe political idea. the policy platform they came out within 2016 would make bernie sanders look like ronald reagan. moderate and socially conservative people, so the idea that you are going to take this identity and insert a whole bunch of political baggage into it and then think that the people that are affected by that box was out here trying to make changes that any sensible person would say are better than the status quo may not be perfect but better than the status quo.
i don't offer it in the box and i as a person was in the public square i don't like that i get criticized because i'm not repeating far left talking points and yet somehow the impression has been created because you have a very well-funded network of activists they've never been voted the news media props them up as thet surfaces of the community and i think that's incredibly frustrating. i'm going to go out on a limb and i can imagine the response to the criticism about we have
so much disenfranchisement in the country that it is and think it is in the community anyway. the question becomes what is the determination of the representation gets to walk around fame and this is because of the best interest of black people or in the best interest of women or men and even in a book like mine, as an identity in the title and at risk of repeating the same mistake and i'm criticizing black wives matter. if you read my book and i know you have, it would be hard to go in there and say that i am prescribing any sort of political ideology men are supposed to have other than don't hurt people, look after your family cannot be responsible to people around you whether that means democrat, republican or you want socialized healthcare or a
free-market episode for every young man to make his own decisions. that is a universal morality to be a good person. at the core it's been bigger than the definition of good means. this idea of putting forward a black identity and a trying to shame and bully and push people around who don't go your political priorities, that i have massive problems with and i'm sure there are individual black wives matter activists who don't think that is what they are doing. i'm sure that is in their intention. you are claiming to be the people who knows what it looks
like a. it isn't in the best interest of anyone. that is an example of an idea that they promote. now i am not anti-israel and a lot of people in the country are not, so it is to be black wives matter, though so don't invoke my politics and that is the message i'm trying to get across. it puts us in a vulnerable position to be criticized in the plus authentic. they don't share the agenda in many cases and we don't think black wives matter now of course we do. >> i just want to be a fly on the wall.
i'm going to wrap up and turned to what he can do to at least try to stand radicalization and excessive violence so this goes from the gang members to the white nationalists, what can we do. what can parents do and society of politicians since i am a law professor and he went to yale law school there is an access of law in your book and is that pretty much impotent in this area? what can the rest of us do? >> i do think a lot of the problems a in people with the
answer. i'm not sure it can always help. i think that impersonating as many people as we do have a horrible idea an that the first step act and other reform efforts are important to reducing the negative effect of the justice system. especially when it comes to people supporting coming out of prison and being part of the system creates a sense a lot of those people are fathers there's going to be a multi-generational effect if that's an important policy area worth looking at. a lot oable to fit his culture d about how we treat each other and the responsibility for ourselves and in our communities and families and i think as. some of the biggest pieces of advice i can give us understand
what internet culture is to build bridges between the indirect communication and in person communication so what i mean by that is every example you winthat for theexample you a radicalized young man drawn to crime with the internet is involved you invariably see the young man and say we have no idea what he was doing, we didn't know he made these friends where he was tried to bite. on the phone, are, whatever it might be, have conversations about that. make sure that you are helping them make sense of what they are seeing on social media because that is a wall that is full of a lot affordable stuff as much as
it is about any good stuff and being able to understand how do i put value in two different things which of these influencers should i care about what they thin think and who shi not be listening to. that's an exercise my generation started to become. they've had children look at these things we need to take that seriously because we understand that but the parents ahead of us that are in the generation between mine and my moms let's say, that is a problem they might not feel is important that they need to take seriously. i wrote about the way social media and the internet is affecting these things because that is the key element to what makes a man of today different than the young men of previous generations. >> thank you so much. this has been an incredible. and i love the book by young men. thank you for talking to me. >> guest: thank you.
>> the co-author of this book the boy crisis by our boys are struggling and what we can do about it. what do you mean by the boy crisis? >> all my life i've been doing research on men and women into uswomen and iused to be the boaf directors on the organization for women and i was speaking about the world on these issues and teachers like in japan would comep