Unknown Speaker 2:19
Hey guys, so it’s not gonna be a big long introduction.
Unknown Speaker 2:27
I hope you guys are all doing well and staying safe and like still trying to social distance. But on this week’s episode, we have an interview with Reverend Rob Lee the fourth. We are going to talk about race and anti racism work we are going to talk about mental health issues and religion. We are going to talk a lot about my Aunt Bertha. So stay tuned for the interview right now. Oh and I also I make an announcement. I make announcement In the middle of this interview, and we’re gonna just jump right into the interview.
Unknown Speaker 3:04
Hey everybody, my name is the Reverend Robert W. Lee the force. I am a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and his nephew from a few generations back, and I’m an author and activist and a pastor.
Unknown Speaker 3:21
Okay, and where are you from?
Unknown Speaker 3:22
I Oh, yeah, I am from statesville, North Carolina, down here in the middle of the heartland of the south and kind of beautiful small town but small town nonetheless. So we’ve got all our challenges and problems that we deal with but I love it.
Unknown Speaker 3:38
Yeah. So I how we got connected is because you’re connected to my family, right? My great my grandmother and great grandma and everybody else. Before that. It’s from statesville, North Carolina. And I’ve never met anybody else really, from statesville with but the funny thing is, is I’m friends with someone that I met In New York and like our family is also from statesville.
Unknown Speaker 4:04
So, it seems like a lot of people love to come here for a little bit. Because if you look at it geographically it is where 40, interstate 40 and interstate 77 meet. So a lot of people if you just been through the south on the road, you will have gone through statesville.
Unknown Speaker 4:21
Okay. And, and for me, until recently because I was in statesville in February, but I have not been back to statesville since I was nine, Oh, wow. Yeah, since I was nine years old. So just being back was very weird to me. And I felt like the beginning of this year and the end of last year like my ancestors were like, nagging me to go home and I kind of didn’t, I didn’t understand it. But I was like, I’m just gonna go with it and argue. So it was very good. Being back, extremely emotional for me.
Unknown Speaker 5:05
States was one of those places that, you know, the Celtic described it as a thin place. I think it’s a thin place, you know, that place where you know you’re very close to whether it’s your ancestors or whatever you want to call it the hereafter. There are places that are very close to that. And I think states suppose one of them there’s so much history here. And there’s also so much pain here. I mean, this is a place for has been through a lot. And a lot of there are a heck of a lot of people who are trying to make it
Unknown Speaker 5:37
a little bit better.
Unknown Speaker 5:38
As a part of our country.
Unknown Speaker 5:39
Yeah. And and so
Unknown Speaker 5:43
the general, right. He’s Robert E. Lee. Correct. Right, right.
Unknown Speaker 5:47
Unknown Speaker 5:48
Okay. And so where was he from?
Unknown Speaker 5:50
He was from up in Virginia. So the Commonwealth of Virginia. He lived at a palatial mansion called Stratford Hall, and He was born up there. And then along with the rest of his family, my family. And, um, you know, it was interesting. He eventually ended up in Richmond and all over the place and fighting for the United States Army in a war prior to the Civil War, and then eventually left the United States Army surrendered his commission, and fought for the Confederate States of America. After the war was over, he moved to Lexington, Virginia, where he served as president of Washington College. And after that, he was a you know, he died as President. And then after that, he became this mythological hero of the South, and that we still talk about today. It’s just a very interesting and complex history. But for me, it’s one that’s very clear that what it was about and what he fought for, and it’s hard to kind of convince people that down here because they view him as a hero. So it’s been an interesting journey for me because of reckoning with that, and when that your family has played a very important role in. So, yeah,
Unknown Speaker 7:06
I definitely want to hear about that both. So I’m from so my grandmother is from statesville. So she was born Alexander County, and she moved to New York, I don’t know at some point. And so this is where we we are all born in New York, only one of my aunts is mourn in statesville, which is my oldest art who’s since passed away. But, um, when I was 12, we moved to Alexandria, Virginia. And the major highway was the highway, right? Yeah. And I never knew who it was named for. Because it wasn’t. I don’t really view myself as like an extension of history. So just kind of being in New York, their their names on buildings and places and then like, these are old people and they no longer exist and you’re just kind of like a street name. really didn’t have a concept of like history around how these monuments are created. Right? And, and so it wasn’t only until recently that I recognized Okay, well, that was what Lee highway was. And it goes all the way through Virginia because it’s route one.
Unknown Speaker 8:19
Right, right. And I think you know, one of the things that I think is so important to remember in all of this is at one time, and even still today, people thought it’s so important that that be named the highway after Route Route, you know, like, there’s this sense of like, you got to make the connections. When you name something you obviously value it and what you name it also has to have value. And I think that’s what people are missing in this entire conversation we’re having in this country right now, is that we actually value these things that we’re putting up or you know, whether that’s monuments or schools or you know, roads Whatever people value, what they put names on, and names have value. So
Unknown Speaker 9:07
how do you separate the pride from the horror or the the the truth of what the pride was built on? Because the pride itself is built on white supremacy. But I kind of get why I mean, is black activists kind of get why people want to have this idea of this, you know, and our kids separating from the government and just kind of fighting for what was right, as far as he was concerned, because I feel like that narrative is, is bred into how white people see America anyway.
Unknown Speaker 9:46
Well also say that that narrative provides an excuse for not to having to address the horrors and agree just nature of enslaving human beings. You know, when we talk about this conversation, it’s really people Looking for a way out they want a way out of being able to to avoid the the fullness of the Civil War. And it’s it’s really horror that it caused. You know this, this whole Brother against brother thing makes us feel good because we think that we all came from the same place but really this was a this was a separatist movement that was fighting against federalism and federal overreach for the continued enslavement of black people. And that’s that’s really all we can say about it in terms of why it was fought. And you can’t say it was for states rights because you can’t finish the sentence there it was for states rights to enslave people. And deeper than that, if you need any proof you need only look at the articles of secession from the Confederate States of America in which they talk about you know, the the inferior race and slavery and why they are fighting us and it’s just, it makes your skin crawl. If you’re any sane kind of like well, thinking human being And I use that term lightly because I deal with it too. I’ve had to think through this. I think every white person who has to come to terms with it has to think through this and they have to make a decision as to what they think about it. But I think you’re right there is. There’s a parceling out and it’s more for this, this notion of whites feeling good about themselves.
Unknown Speaker 11:20
Well, it’s social narcissism,
Unknown Speaker 11:21
right? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And, you know, I think it’s also deeply flawed, both in sin in in, you know, I know you do a lot of work with a, with all kinds of things. And I think it’s also deeply in this like, you know, inferiority complex, almost like we’ve got to figure this out so that we can stay, you know, superior, but that doesn’t compete, right, that has bred in a sense an inferiority complex of like, we’ve got to overcompensate for this by explaining it. So, and I you know, as you can tell, I interchange we in the white race, because, you know, it’s both and like I’ve seen some light but I’ve got We got a lot of work to do,
Unknown Speaker 12:01
sir. Yeah. You said my family was instrumental and part of that work.
Unknown Speaker 12:07
Yeah, yeah. So I was growing up in statesville. And one of your relatives, Bertha Hamilton, who is one of my favorite people on this planet. I was attending Broad Street United Methodist Church and it was time for me to choose a confirmation mentor which is the act of joining the church in the Methodist tradition. And, and I say that I use Methodist they’re very, very intentionally because I think that it also needs to be noted that that Bertha is Baptist.
Unknown Speaker 12:41
Unknown Speaker 12:42
to the bone a Baptist woman of color and it is beautiful and I love it. But one of the things that happened when we were choosing confirmation mentors is one there was that that you know, people who were volunteering, and also the people who I got to choose from, I was like, I told my mom I was like, I don’t think I’m going to get anything out of this. You know, sitting here with these people talking about faith and joining the church and what membership means. And so well, Mom said, Is there someone you would ask that would help you with that? Because we want this to be a good experience for you. And my mom, of course, worked with Bertha. And we’ve kind of grown up having Miss Bertha as this. Grandmother figure is this, you know, someone we text her call when we needed her and she was always there. I said, you know, why don’t you ask her. And I remember asking her and I don’t think she knew what she was getting into fully in the long, long game. But she was happy to do it. She was wonderful about it. And I remember there was a night we were sitting in a fellowship hall of the church. And I had been talking about a call the ministry I was toying around with the idea of being a minister. Right then I was convinced I should be a lawyer or a doctor because I needed to make money, which is a common narrative growing up, but I had finally kind of accepted I wanted to be a minister. And I still miss birth about this. And then we got off on a subject and we start talking about history and, you know, in the United States history, and I mentioned that, you know, of course, she knew this, but I mentioned Robert E. Lee and his legacy, and how I had a confederate flag hanging in my room. This wasn’t because I don’t actually don’t think my parents were, you know, actively racist. In that regard. I think they were just letting me have a moment. Because I tried to view it as the last cause narrative. He was a gentle Southern person and not an enslaver. I tried to view it that way. So Miss Bertha, I remember her face, looking at me and saying, honey, if you want to be a minister, you got to take that flag down. And she went into this moment of telling me about how the history of that flag and how it hurt people and cause pain for people. And, you know, Bertha, as well as I do that she’s not afraid for a challenge. But part of me looking back on that event, that’s considerable courage.
Unknown Speaker 15:11
Because I’m a white dude. And we all know how white dudes Connect.
Unknown Speaker 15:17
And there could have been a recoil, there could have been this moment of just me being mad or angry or yelling, and there wasn’t it was just a full and complete connection in which I felt really guilty. So I took the flag down. And I came back to her that next week in the same fellowship hall. And I told her to find out, and I was expecting to have this continuation of the conversation about how bad I was. Not that she ever said that, but I felt bad. I felt like crap. And she told me, I knew you would. And we moved on. And, you know, there wasn’t a there wasn’t a loading or liquid. She did or it was just, I mean, you would, I mean, you’d make the right decision. And so This conversation for me is deeply personal because it took a woman of color
Unknown Speaker 16:06
to remind me of the fullness of who I am.
Unknown Speaker 16:10
And it was a very humbling moment. And I’m not I’ll say what to be careful here and say that it’s incumbent upon black people to tell me by jog. But she took a risk and had that conversation. And I’m forever in her debt.
Unknown Speaker 16:26
I was looking online because I know you guys were both on CBS and an interview. Right? And I was trying to find that that video, but I couldn’t, but I came across something that you I don’t know if it was a sermon that you wrote about her. And I’m paraphrasing, but you said when you see her, you see God.
Unknown Speaker 16:46
Oh, yeah. There’s There’s no doubt about it. You know, a lot of us have to imagine what God looks like. If we believe in a deity of sorts, and for me, it’s perfect. There’s no question about She is a window. She is one of those places that and people that you go to, and you sit there and, and you see the heart of God and not to get too much into your family history or to her family history, but she’s been through a lot. And through it all, she has chosen to remain courageous and
Unknown Speaker 17:19
open and open and accepting, you know, until they see steps every
Unknown Speaker 17:24
does, right there is no there is nothing that is beyond the realm of possibility to talk about in terms of just like what God has in store for that person. Like there is nothing. And here’s the other thing I’ll say it was really interesting. I don’t know how she told you. Well, obviously she hadn’t told your listeners, I’ll tell it. We took her with me and my wife, Stephanie, and my mom and dad to go meet President Carter, Jimmy Carter, and I saw the picture in Georgia. And, you know, while we were there, we were sitting and Stephanie made a comment that you know, 70s she’s a very vocal person. She made a comment about someone who was standing there, who was obviously very much in disagreement with what was going on. And it was just a weird situation. But Miss Bertha had her Bible and she was just tapping it. And she opened it. And she said, Stephanie, you need to read this. And so it kind of humbled Stephanie to like, she’s not afraid to do that. And, you know, she would have said that the President Carter to you know, it’s not she has an equal opportunity disperser of wisdom. And and she doesn’t see it that way. But that’s what she does.
Unknown Speaker 18:31
You know what, because she’s the baby. There you go. isn’t saying six?
Unknown Speaker 18:39
Yeah, it’s a lot. I think.
Unknown Speaker 18:44
I don’t remember.
Unknown Speaker 18:46
Unknown Speaker 18:49
she was also like, held up by the rest of them.
Unknown Speaker 18:56
Being being the youngest and being being the prettiest And I mean, she wouldn’t say that, but I’m gonna say it just so family roles and the roles that we are assigned. She was kind of almost raised as like a only child in that space, even though she had to kind of navigate these relationships with, you know, much older siblings. Because my, I want to say my oldest aunt and her are about the same age, they were about the same age. And so she’s the one that I always knew the most out of my, I won’t say the most, but I knew out of my grandmother’s sisters, because three of them actually lived in New York, and then some of them lived in statesville. So I never really saw the relatives that lived in statesville. And so, in contrast of the way I interacted with the rest of them, she’s always been the most accepting of like, whatever it is that I come to her with. And when I read what you wrote about her Because she, when I mentioned it to her she hadn’t she didn’t know that that’s what you said. But when I read it, I kind of teared up because I got it just kind of that love and acceptance that we’re looking for when we are, you know, seeking religion, she has that heart. Right. And she will gather you if you need to be gathered, but
Unknown Speaker 20:21
a good way to put it. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 20:23
But she does it lovingly. And she does it with a smile and you know that it’s love behind it. So you don’t take it any kind of way.
Unknown Speaker 20:31
I think what’s so compelling about this part of the story, is that through it all, and she had you know, she has been through difficult situations upon difficult situations, situations that would have taken any other person to their core and shaken them there. I think one of the things that she has always done is exuded love and compassion. Now, she hasn’t always you know, agreeing with you, but she will love you. And she will work to understand where you are coming from. And she will then offer her opinion. And that’s what she needs to offer. And she doesn’t offer anymore. She doesn’t offer any less. You get the full picture with her. And you know, I think you’d see with, you know, some of the stories she shares of her being in New York when she was in New York. You’re just like, that’s really cool. Like she also has a really cool life so far and continues to do so she continues to make a difference.
Unknown Speaker 21:31
Unknown Speaker 21:33
That’s the thing I love about her and her smile is everything.
Unknown Speaker 21:36
Well, oh, yeah.
Unknown Speaker 21:39
I guess like a tribute to our birthday. It wasn’t supposed to be what it was. Yeah, my smile is everything. I’ll
Unknown Speaker 21:44
tell this one that story about her and I know she’s gonna not be happy about this, but it’s a good story. I was speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is the the church that Dr. King was pastor at, for the MLK celebration. And I was there with a bunch of different dignitaries People that you know, from politicians to celebrities, and Miss Bertha and my wife were heading back to the hotel to get ready to, you know, drive back to North Carolina. And they got out and Dottie people’s was there. Miss Bertha is a huge Dotty people’s fan. She loves her music. He’s an on time God, yes, he is kind of thing. So she got out and it was like you had met a kid who had never met a celebrity at my wife’s recounting like she had, even at this point, there’s been plenty of people who were really important. This was her like kid in the candy store moment. And so she said something he was like, I’m gonna go talk to her. Do you want me to do I can’t do it. And you know, Stephanie recounts that, you know, Miss Bertha wanted to meet her, but didn’t want to go up to her. So Stephanie Of course because it gets missed people’s and Miss people’s was very gracious and got a picture with this. And it was one of those just awe inspiring moments for everyone involved because it was like, you know, Miss Bertha is our hero. And to see her kind of become this like really excited person for Dotty people’s was awesome. So Oh, wow, now I need to see this photo. Yeah, it’s so one has it somewhere so it was a year or two back. So.
Unknown Speaker 23:19
Um, so she described you as always being an activist from a really young age. Where do you think that came from?
Unknown Speaker 23:30
I wish I knew, um, I wish like I you know, because honestly, I wish I knew the secret sauce for this because I want everybody to be an activist. I think everybody has the potential to be an activist. But I think deep down
Unknown Speaker 23:43
it came from my parents
Unknown Speaker 23:47
helping me surround myself and be surrounded by people like her. And like, you know, I had a daddy growing up being JD and you know, a diverse crowd of people. And the idea that somehow they were less than me or didn’t deserve to be loved to the same way I did was was a horrific emotion for me. Because for me, activism is about love. It’s love and action really, for me. It’s this idea that though we aren’t where we should be, we’re going to work to get there. And, you know, there’s been moments in my life where I’ve been really frustrated or really saddened by the state of the world, in the state of Iowa. But I know deep down, we’re all trying to make that journey together, were more richer for the experience if we embrace that. You know, I’m very honest that while this activism about race and LGBTQ work is my passion in the church. I also work really diligently for the health. I can’t guarantee that you know, I’m very honest about my bipolar disorder, in public and in public conversations. And I also The thing that has in some ways colored my experience because when you’re dealing with all the the, the stereotypes, with the hushed whispers about who you are, and what you have to offer the world or what you don’t have to offer the world, whether that’s because of mental illness, or what people think about LGBTQ persons, or what people think about black people or, you know, any, any whatever we’ve created, there’s a real sense of empathy. And while you can’t fully empathize, you have this deep deep abiding well have, I want to do something to make sure that this doesn’t happen to my children, and that the future Lee’s whatever that looks like will be far more equitable and just in their quest for for peace and hope.
Unknown Speaker 25:50
Okay, I didn’t know about the bipolar disorder, but how do you how do you reconcile this idea that we should just pray Get away with, you know, the actual work that you have to do to kind of overcome or even manage the symptoms of just this this part of life that you’re dealing with.
Unknown Speaker 26:11
Right, right. Well, life is very much a roller coaster for anyone with bipolar disorder that you add on top of that. The fact that I’m on TV at, you know, midnight and have to be up the next morning at 4am for another TV interview or on the newspaper. There’s very little time for rhythm. But the notion that I’ve had to come to you is that, as a Christian, I’m convicted that God created us and God created us with a brain. And that brain has gifted us with science and with medication and with therapy, all the things that make us who we are, you know, I am very convinced that, you know, part of my caring for myself is making sure that I’m regularly checking in with my doctor, that I’m also taking medication that is prescribed to me at the right time. You know, increments and all that stuff. I think this notion that Jesus just wants us to do it by ourself is deeply for both scripturally and scientifically.
Unknown Speaker 27:10
Yeah, Jesus never suggested that.
Unknown Speaker 27:13
You had to pray to get rid of your, your illness, Jesus helped you, either even chronic people who are dealing with chronic illness Jesus helped Jesus also was there. So Jesus also was in the middle of it. And so we have to allow that to through medication and through therapy.
Unknown Speaker 27:33
Yeah, because when I battled depression, and that’s how I ended up coming to this work because I battled it and I overcame it but for me, my family was basically like, Okay, what just pray and I was like, I grew up in church all my life You think I’m gonna try to
Unknown Speaker 27:50
I think there’s this notion that I’ve had to accept to that chronic illness is very important to address and you have to say for see it for what it is I’m not going to get out of This, and it’s better for me to take care of it than for me to not, you know, and if I don’t, I won’t get out of it. It will be sooner rather than later me getting out of it. That’s not a good situation at all.
Unknown Speaker 28:13
Yeah, and for me, I realized, you know, now that I’m able to do this work, and I’m on the other side of it, and I know how to manage. When I’m starting to feel sad or like whatever is going on in my life, I realized it was a level of a skill set that I just didn’t have, you know, my parents dealt with their, you know, mental health issues, because we all have them, but dealing with dealt with the mental health issues with just the resources that they were given by their parents or given by community. I needed a little bit more support than what I was given.
Unknown Speaker 28:43
Well, I think activists to any type of activists, any type of person trying to tell a story needs to be honest about their story. And what that screams and if we’re not we have real problems because if I were to come to you as some people tried to do and tell you all this great stuff that I’m trying to do and all this great awakenings that I’ve had, but not be honest about the struggles and the the chronic nature of what I face and the debilitating sometimes nature of what I face. First of all, I’d be disingenuous. And second of all, that that act doesn’t last long. So we’ve got to be we’ve got to be real with ourselves. And we’re a lot different now than we were in my parents and in your parents generation of how we handle stuff. So we have to be honest about it.
Unknown Speaker 29:29
Oh, if you if you would have told me like years ago, because that you came to I came to know you from around the time when there was this whole conversation started about these Confederate statues and you were like, well, I am Robert Lee Lee, and no, yes. Okay, if you take them down. We don’t feel the same way that these other people feel about it. I would have thought that you were nuts in a way because it takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of strength to do what you did like it’s almost like for the other white people, I would assume that you’re disavowing your legacy. And so just kind of being able to kind of buck that and and the backlash that you faced from speaking out and being so vocal about it, I would have already assumed that you were emotionally overwhelmed with everything that you would take in on.
Unknown Speaker 30:25
I will say two things about that. The first thing is that part of my request for all of this was, was again, influenced greatly by an experience I had when I was in seminary at Duke. I was at Duke divinity school, I was having a crisis of a with my bipolar and I was taken to the hospital, and the hospital there was attached to the university. And I remember one doctor saying to me, as we were in the pod, waiting to be treated For our various illnesses that he was going to put me ahead of the crowd, because he felt that we had to take care of our own. Now, of course, he could have been meaning a duty. But he, we were, I was the only white guy and he was the only white doctor in this entire situation that we were facing. And so he really, that has stuck with me. And not in like a guilt way just like you know, that’s that’s, that’s atrocious, because the he could deny it of course and say I was just talking about the Duke connection, but that wasn’t what it came off. And so I had the opportunity almost three years ago, which is the situation you’re talking about, to go on to MTV and speak at the VMAs the Video Music Awards in 2017. And in front of 5 million people that night, I said Black Lives Matter. Now. I was pastoring a small church at the time. My the church I’m at now is different than So I was at a small church at the time. And they did not like the idea that anyone who was anyone would say blacklivesmatter because they thought that it was a terrorist organization. And it was astounding to me It blew my mind. I was like, This makes no sense. But But you’re right. I think there is a sense of for many people who are in this, how dare you speak ill of the people in our parlor conversations. How dare you say we need to be better. We’ve done this, this and this. And all this stuff they say is really not enough in the first place. But they think a lot of people like me feel like we’ve done enough. feel like we’ve said enough. feel like this is just a charade for a lot of people. So we’ve got to address that. We’ve got to be honest, and we’ve got to say, look, this is so much more than just three words. This is about systemic change, that leads to people feeling like they feel like you and I hate to put it that way, but for white people That’s what they need to hear. They, you know, they have had it made this entire time. We have had it made this entire time Excuse me, but we have to be faithful and say, Look, if we’ve had it made other people deserve to have it too.
Unknown Speaker 33:15
We just want to be left alone. Well, I just want to be left alone. We just want to have to say, like we, our ancestors built this country, right? You know, like literally we did all of the, all of the work, right? You know, white white men have suckled in black women’s teams, you know, we, we birthed the babies, we fed the babies, we fed the household. I think black women in this country, we’ve done all of the emotional labor and we’ve in a lot of ways historically had a lot more clout or like power in their households than white women did. And I think that that’s part of the disparity in or the contentious relationship that we see sometimes between white women Black women in this fight for equality because I think white women feel oppressed because black women have always had these elevated voice I won’t say out always, but historically had these elevated voices in their own households, that I could understand why, for white women, there’s this this high time for them to kind of say, Well, wait a minute, well, we’re victims of oppression too. And but it’s just different.
Unknown Speaker 34:26
It is different. And I don’t want to discount feminism in any way. I think we need to have a wellness, feminist conversation. That’s a whole different that’s a whole nother podcast.
Unknown Speaker 34:38
There’s plenty of voices who are available for that.
Unknown Speaker 34:41
But I do think you’re right. I think there is a sense of even and I’ll speak to what I know is, you know, from from where I am, at least for us it is there plenty of white men in Appalachia near where I live and where I went to school who, who feel like, well, gosh, we’ve been poor all our lives.
Unknown Speaker 35:00
Yeah, that’s, that’s that’s penance enough in their regards.
Unknown Speaker 35:04
But But not only is that speaking to the need for addressing capitalism in this country, but that’s also speaking to, you know, yeah, you had it bad. But systemically, you also had it better. You know, we need to address the systemic ills and, and the personal ills. I mean, you know, it’s one thing to say people are you know, not dealing with this systemically it’s a whole nother thing to say what they say in their living rooms, or the Thanksgiving tables.
Unknown Speaker 35:36
So yeah, I get that they had it bad but they didn’t have it bad because of the color of their skin. Right. Maybe had it bad because of resources. They had it bad because of their votes. They had it bad because of opportunities. You know, they they may have had it bad because the you know, there’s this clinging to ignorance sometimes just to be long, and trauma begets trauma. And so I get that part of it. And I understand that they feel like their voices are shut out of the conversation sometimes. But if you’re voting against your interests, or you’re just aligning yourself with whiteness, just because you believe that that’s the only thing good about your identity, it becomes a problem. I agree with you. I think what I’m having to do with this monument conversation, is say that what you’ve always thought is deeply flawed.
Unknown Speaker 36:26
And there’s a certain risk in that and I’m not saying I take it lightly. I don’t. We’ve had, you know, bullet shot at our house we’ve had no, I mean, we’ve had security signs destroyed in the face. I mean, this whole thing is very costly. And I’m not gonna get, I’m not gonna sugarcoat that and say, that’s something that we need to just, you know, gloss over. It does cost a lot to be an activist. But part of being an activist for me has been speaking difficult truths, people who don’t want to hear them. And it’s also you know, to your listeners and the people who are listening. Again, I want to stress it’s not your job to Get white people. It’s my job as a white person to get my own folk. And that’s what I’ve stood by that. Now I was blessed. And I was so incredibly grateful to have Miss Bertha speak truth to power in my life. But I also want to ensure that you know, her children and our children’s children don’t have to do that. Because that shouldn’t be that way. It should be me saying, hey, that joke isn’t funny. Hey, you need to take that flag down, hey, we need to talk about the systemic ills. And not only that, but people being willing to listen.
Unknown Speaker 37:30
So how do we have these intra racial conversations about about structural racism? Because I, you know, you and I had the conversation on Friday. I am a member of NSW, New York State and our one Vice President, which I didn’t announce on the podcast yet. I want one for vice president and for me as a social worker, I understand the privilege that that I have and being able to take people’s to Children and take their freedom and, you know, lock them up in mental health, you know, hospitals. And so I know that that that part of the job that I do has an awesome responsibility. It can’t be done with any extra biases. I have to take it on a case by case basis and being able to affect change in my community where I am in being an activist where where I can make a difference by having these conversations with other social workers who in our code of ethics, it says that we are supposed to be for social justice and to fight against oppression. These conversations are not welcomed amongst
Unknown Speaker 0:00
White clinicians? And it’s very difficult to have these interracial conversations. And so, like, how do you what do you think is the best way for black people who do want to take that charge? And do want to have that conversation to? I don’t know, get through or
Unknown Speaker 0:17
start the conversation?
Unknown Speaker 0:19
Well, I will say this, I want to first you know, make sure that everybody’s clear. I certainly don’t know what it’s like to be a bi person in America. And I don’t know what it’s like to sit there in that position. As hard it is, I’m sure. And I don’t want to that is an important thing to underscore. I will say that, that what has compelled me the most from my colleagues that I work with, and people who’ve helped keep me humble. And keep me on track and keep me in my lane is stories. You know, stories are so important. And I’m not asking you to create these huge narratives that are so eloquent. You know, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking for people to have These conversations with common ground and common stories. Because I think we’re all trying to be really, you know, really on our, on our toes right now, and we don’t know what to say. But if you said to me, Hey, I just want to tell you the story of what happened to me today. Or, hey, I want to tell you the story about me growing up and what I experienced when someone said something like that, and what I felt. Because that story, they can’t take away from me why people like me, can’t take away from me, and we can’t change it, especially if it wasn’t us. But it helps open our eyes to the reality that we think we’re woke our people aren’t woke and we aren’t work either. And what this is a false narrative anyway, but you know, that’s another conversation for another day. You know, we’re always working. But I think you know, if people realize, Hey, this is not how it should be, then we have work to do. And again, that also comes with following up with not only geology. But, you know, this is how we can make it right. structures and systems that will help. You know, I think one of the things and I’ll say this, and I’m very careful about this. I’m all for defunding police. But I think the narrative that’s being constructed out of the white community is that we’re talking about removing all police officers from Adafruit. And everything, you know, and that’s, that’s abolition of police. And that’s another step that people want to talk about. But this notion that we have to use, you know, vocabulary that gives voice to that, you know, when people say we’re talking about dissenting police, we’re talking about, we’ve defended education for years now. But you know, if you say that people start to think, well, I can definitely
Unknown Speaker 2:41
Unknown Speaker 2:42
and mental health, I mean, North Carolina is one of the worst in that regards. So this notion that we’re talking about anything else that allocating funds, is a is something that a lot of people have constructed in their heads. And so what I’m asking for, for everyone to get by Worldwide is to be honest, you know, explain what you’re trying to say if you need to explain it or if it requires explanation, or if you feel comfortable explaining, you know, there has to be a comfort there. But in a real sense, you have to say, Look, I don’t get this either. You know, for instance, if you didn’t get what I was saying about systemic structures, based on my experiences a white man, I would hope you would ask and feel comfortable asking like I think there’s a comfort level there that has to be there as well.
Unknown Speaker 3:31
I think the thing that’s so exhausting to black people is just the lack of empathy. Like when Trayvon Martin’s trial happened in or Georgia gentleman’s trial happened, for killing Trayvon Martin. I just remember watching it every day with my mom and I was just blown away, that there were white women on the jury who would not under Stand that I’m a woman and I’m going home and I’m minding my own business, and I’m on the phone with my friend and I’m walking in the rain. And there’s a car that’s following me and it keeps following me. And then I go to cut through, you know, a courtyard to get away from them. And then the person gets out, and then they are, you know, attack me and they’re on top of me and they have a gun. And then I’m fighting for my life, and then they shoot me but yet, it’s self defense for that person. I was just having a hard time understanding the concept as a woman who moves in this body who, you know, can can can visualize how I would feel if this car was following me and I’m just minding my business and on my way home, I was having a hard time believing that they would not side with this child
Unknown Speaker 4:51
Unknown Speaker 4:52
and the terror that I had having to tell my my son, I mean, I don’t even remember how old he was at the time. That The man was let go.
Unknown Speaker 5:03
It was frightening for me. So for me
Unknown Speaker 5:07
the struggle that I have as a black woman who’s a lover of black people love, you know, I’m the mother of a black man moving around in society, just this lack of empathy. Where it seems that white people can’t put themselves in our shoes on just the regular circumstances, is really what’s heartbreaking about having these conversations.
Unknown Speaker 5:32
Well, and I’ll also say you know, with that, that is in and of itself, what needs to be said. But with you know, you think about hoodies and BB guns and all this stuff that comes up in these conversations about what people were doing or what people no one deserves to die for that. But deeper than that, my parents never had to tell me growing up. You know, put your bb gun away while you’re walking down the street, of your of your your head and feet or to park or in the park like that was never a conversation. The other conversation don’t don’t you don’t you shouldn’t wear a hoodie. We got in the rain, you’re
Unknown Speaker 6:09
ready in the rain. It was raining. That’s what a hood is for.
Unknown Speaker 6:12
And then deeper than that, I think to one of the things that needs to be heard. That really struck me
Unknown Speaker 6:20
Unknown Speaker 6:23
Mr. Brooks Ray sharp books, he was shot in a wincy Wendy’s parking lot.
Unknown Speaker 6:28
I didn’t watch. I didn’t watch any of it. You don’t have to do that. I’m not looking at any of it. I’m not following it. Just it’s just pain porn to me as well. Yeah, it’s trauma. I can’t do it anymore.
Unknown Speaker 6:39
I will say that he was 27 years old. And I’m seven years old. And I’m sitting here right now struck with the idea that I feel even on my worst days, I have life ahead of me. I have things to do. I have people to love I have things to accomplish. He was The same. Now we were different, obviously in the color of our skin, but I’m sure he had the aspirations that I have and the love that I have. And maybe it was more contextual for him because he was someone who has been oppressed as a black man all his life. But I know this that we both have life ahead of us. And the fact that he just was struck down is atrocious and sinful and wrong. There’s no excuse, no excuse.
Unknown Speaker 7:30
What advice would you give to white people who are engaging in this conversation and they want to be allies?
Unknown Speaker 7:36
Well, I think
Unknown Speaker 7:39
that’s something I feel a little more comfortable going at, because I’ve had to do it. I think one of the things that the first thing I’ll say is that if you post on Instagram, that’s nice. But if it doesn’t follow up with like, concrete action to be an activist, you’re you’re an Instagram activists and sure we need that but we need you to give to black artists and writers and poets and people who are activists who are working everyday for this work to bale funds to, to defense funds to all this stuff, you have to be both. You have to have skin in the game and it says, you know, like you got to be in the game for this. I would also say that the art of listening, the art of empathy is, as we’ve already stated, is is is a lost art sometimes, and we need to re embrace that notion that we need to be together. And we need to be having these conversations as difficult as they are. Without the presupposition of someone coming in. To educate or change on either side, we just need to hear the stories. And I know that my fellow white cohort has stories of either themselves by complicity or you know, commission or omission as we say in the church. You know, we have engaged in racism and we need to tell the stories not for not, again, not for porn, you know, in that, you know, like, violence porn or racism or whatever. We don’t need that. We just need like the cameras off people listening, people responding. That’s what I think will lead to activism. And I don’t know, again, I’m not wanting to say I have all the answers. I don’t know how that would look at each community. But I know in my community, it means a Facebook message I have with the other people that have coordinated protests in state. So we’ve been there talking about who we’re willing to talk to who we shouldn’t engage with. Because this notion, again, that we you know, we don’t have to bring every people every white person along, like the sheriff here in this county. He’s done he’s, I hope he knows he’s his days are numbered with his election cabinet in a few years, because people are fed up. But we do see that there’s possibility elsewhere. So it’s learning where to focus how to focus and how to tell stories.
Unknown Speaker 10:00
Yeah, I don’t know how you separate, like your history and your legacy, maybe just because it was a new thing for me but being in statesville and seeing my ancestors names on things, and I’m a black woman and I’m from New York, so that’s not a thing that we that happens here. But just just seeing that my grandmother’s street had our last name on it. And like, you know, the Moni farm and you know, we’re lackeys. So the lackey farm, like seeing my ancestors name on things was kind of freaky to both it took me to our family cemetery. Yeah. So I’m like, it’s just all it’s just us here. Like, this is all of us. It was a weird concept for me. Who in New York, I’m so far removed from that. I don’t know how you separate like That legacy with that. I mean, you you’ve obviously you’ve had a longer I mean, this just happened in February that I like saw all of this up as an adult for the first time in my life, but I don’t know how you separate that from you and still being able to have your family pride but understanding that what they did was wrong.
Unknown Speaker 11:25
I’m not proud. Well, I will say I’m not proud of Robert E. Lee. I’m not proud of any of the ladies who committed atrocious acts of enslavement and trade, you know, treachery against this nation and against people. What I’ve learned to do, and all of this is decide to be a different footnote. I will never Eclipse Robert E. Lee. There will always be a more famous Robert Lee. But that doesn’t be the bottom of the page. There can’t be a footnote that said this rapidly. tried to change that.
Unknown Speaker 11:57
Unknown Speaker 11:58
like I mean, and that’s not why Do it, ultimately, because this is ultimately about other people. But in a very real sense, if you’re asking about me personally, I’m not proud. I’m not. In fact, I’m horrified in some ways, and it keeps me up at night. But it also drives me to change things so that it doesn’t happen again.
Unknown Speaker 12:17
I think otherwise people have to tap into that I was on a message board today on Facebook, and it was a white minister, who was speaking to you know, a black person in church and they they wrote down these these things and he was like, Well, every time you bring up slavery automatically we shut this is the minister, automatically we shut down because number one, I’ve never owned slaves. Number two, you’ve never been a slave. And number three, thank God for like Bible toting, or Bible thumping. People like me who abolish slavery sounds like you want to remove yourself from slavery, but all of a sudden, your ancestors were abolitionists that you were never an abolitionist. So he’s just kind of like this, this separation of like, all or nothing. In the nuances of racism, I think it shuts white people down in the conversations. You know, in the conversation, I have an intern who’s white. I said, I think it’s difficult for you to think about your granny who made you cookies and, you know, knitted sweater knitted sweaters and think of her as actually being a racist, but she can be both.
Unknown Speaker 13:20
Oh, yeah. And I think you have to partial this out and also say this, a relative of mine saw me on Don Lemon, and called my dad about how, you know, horrible the, you know, Don Lemon was going off and everything
Unknown Speaker 13:38
about this and how, you know, we all just need to take a breath.
Unknown Speaker 13:42
And my dad, you know, that’s not he’s not been the most vocal person about this. But he said, Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 13:47
I actually think that’s kind of the point.
Unknown Speaker 13:50
And I was so proud of my past like, yes, this is a moment that I’m going to celebrate, because he started talking to that relative about George Floyd and about how George’s look forward can take a breath now. I mean, like this whole notion of we all just need to calm down. This is not the time for being calm about what’s happening. And I think so many white people who are just have seen this for the first time, think that this is the first time. You know, one of the things that I’m having a conversation with with the class I was teaching is, gosh, the internet, I think why people are really glad we didn’t have social media and the ability to can’t take videos during the 1960s. Because if you see the pictures of people that did they were either in blackface or killing people. So you know, like this, this whole thing of like, a, we have to just call them for a second. No, this is not the time. And we also have to acknowledge to the churches places, and the white churches places this especially, um, there’s a fabulous book that I’ve committed to your listeners. And once that I’ve read to my students, it’s called the Civil War as theological crisis. It talks about how people abolitionist in the north, preach the same text that southerners in the south preached almost on the same Sunday. But the southerners were justifying slavery with it. The Northerners were justifying abolition, and that’s not to say, of course, that North and South automatically equals equality. You know, the Northerners had their problems too. But this notion of the church was active. Yes. Okay. Yeah, that’s nice. But what about Nat Turner, he was a pastor and we shot you know, like all these people who were, who were active in abolition were deeply faithful people. But so were the people who wanted to continue the enslavement. There is a queue at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, named for where Robert E. Lee’s SAP. Yay. So this whole thing of Well, yeah, but the church helped. No they did. That’s That’s stupid. I’m sorry. I don’t accept that. There’s probably a better word But that’s just patently false. So
Unknown Speaker 16:04
yeah, I don’t understand evangelicals hold over, or their commitment to this president.
Unknown Speaker 16:15
Unknown Speaker 16:15
that everything that he’s against everything the Bible is
Unknown Speaker 16:19
I agree with you. And he likes to form that sometimes. But I will also say that for the, for the Trump administration, they took a gamble. And with Mike Pence, who is also equally as horrifying and better spoken, you know, they have tried to weird, the evangelical vote and the evangelicals have sold there. So, and, again, you know, I think the the politics of the church too are going to have to come out and be put in the light. Because, look, either. ministers are not absent of political leanings. So tell us, tell us where you stand. I know you’re not supposed to proselytize, we can sit down somewhere else, let’s have this conversation. Because if you’re actively supporting someone who wants to keep Confederate monument names on military bases, then you’re actively engaging in white supremacy and racism. There is no qualifiers or anything, it is equal to that. Because, you know, if your son were to join the military, and go to Fort Benning, in Georgia, and go to Fort Bragg wherever, you know, he would have to serve in a place where that name was after someone who wanted to continue to enslave him first of all, and also fought against the United States
Unknown Speaker 17:45
Unknown Speaker 17:47
He was a traitor. Yeah, and they lost right.
Unknown Speaker 17:49
And so again, this whole separatists thing breaks down when they when you find out oh, wait in 1865 they lost. So you know, there’s there’s that brokenness there.
Unknown Speaker 18:00
And this idea that the South will rise again rise again against what? against home.
Unknown Speaker 18:06
Right. And I mean, and some people said that’s a false notion that isn’t happening. It’s happening. It’s happening. It is happening. I mean, I go to Home Depot. There, I talked about this in the book, my book, I read one, that one time I was at Home Depot, and it’s happened again since then, that people will say, Oh, your name is Robert Lee, because they see it on the credit card. I said, Yeah. And I automatically know where this is going. Are you related to them? And I’ll say it because I know where this is going. And they’ll say, the South will rise again.
Unknown Speaker 18:37
That’s what they’ll say.
Unknown Speaker 18:38
Yeah. And some of them are against it.
Unknown Speaker 18:41
And my question is against two against America. Right,
Unknown Speaker 18:44
right. I mean, but they have
Unknown Speaker 18:46
wise, they, they rose against America,
Unknown Speaker 18:49
right? And they don’t connect the dots. And that’s the unfortunate thing. And I think southerners need to learn. And I’m going to say this and it sounds a little crass, but they need to learn to finish their sentences. And I don’t mean that students their intelligence, I’m just saying that if they’re going to be honest about, you know what happened during that war, it was, again to enslave people, like that was what they fought for. And so we need to be clear about that.
Unknown Speaker 19:13
Even here in New York, I was taught it was, I mean, I knew slavery was part of it. But I was taught that it had more to do with the industrial industrial revolution and money.
Unknown Speaker 19:24
Right. And that’s a that’s a common narrative. And I’ll give you this, the South may have lost the war, but we weren’t in the history books. So we want our ability to tell the story the way we wanted to, because reconstruction was so awful. that in the end, we are telling the story that it was about the industrial revolution in the cotton and and all this stuff, you know, but, but, but at the very basis of that, even if it was about the Industrial Revolution, the cotton gin all the things it was because people were afraid of losing their
Unknown Speaker 19:55
livelihoods over enslavement.
Unknown Speaker 19:59
Yeah, so I was I was educated in Brooklyn, New York, I had all black everything included school principals, teachers, everything. And we would talk black history, right. And so when I moved to Alexandria, Virginia, for the first time in my life, I read Huck Finn. And so part of that we were supposed to do like an art project or based on the book and I wrote a poem about slavery and, and the effects of slavery. Now, mind you, I had a black, you know, education in Brooklyn. So I knew about black history and all of those different things. So my teacher read my poem, and she was like, it’s amazing. And then she proceeded to have me read the poem to the other classes. I don’t remember if I was in 10th grade or 11th grade. And I had this conversation with each class and I was, is horrible thing to think about now to do to a child but I had to argue with
Unknown Speaker 20:00
Why slavery was still relevant and how racism was still relevant. And this was in like, maybe 90 1990. And she praised the poem. She said it was, you know, was was wonderful, but just sitting, it was the first time I had, I was like, dealing with white gays, like I had all of these white classmates. It was basically they were saying that I was a racist, racist because I was acknowledging that racism still exists and persist in our environment. And it was a horrible experiences. I think about it. Now, we’re so proud that I wrote this poem that she thought was a great thing, but sitting and having to repeat it to class after class and have black kids and white kids who were privileged students. We went to school with Thurgood Marshall, his granddaughter, Clarence Thomas lived down the street. But to have this this narrative that racism didn’t exist, I felt gay. athlet I felt like I didn’t know what I was talking about,
Unknown Speaker 1:03
well, that in and of itself was almost enslaving to make you justify the history that Alexandria, in the places of all places fought to ensure, you know, in a sense, and I’m not trying to make light of it, I actually do think it’s very serious slavery. And it is a history of education that is broken. It leads to a history of healthcare, and schools and prisons and all these places that have been perpetuated in this notion that slavery is dead, but when in reality, it’s not. And this COVID crisis has made that clear, the prison systems make that clear, everything is built in this country on race. And right now we have the eyes and the ears of the nation upon us. And we have this opportunity to actually say, you know what, this, this is not us. This is not who we’re going to be. And that takes an active choice. And it’s not just one choice that we can make. It’s a choice that we’re going to have to make for the rest of our lives as white people. Especially That says, You know what, we’re gonna engage this conversation, now’s the time to do it. We should have done it 400 years ago.
Unknown Speaker 2:07
And I think the last battle for, you know, civil rights in this country is going to be to make the United States live up to the ideals of the Constitution. I think that that’s why our rights are violated so much because black people are expected to just exist in this country that we weren’t thought of in the Constitution. We weren’t allowed to have you know, constitutional rights or constitutional rights are being violated every single day. We don’t have the right to bear arms at the same way and, you know, our first amendment rights when our our politicians or our basketball players or our stars say anything white people tell us to shut up and dribble right? So it’s this this battle for the fact that we’re just allowed to exist here and be glad that we’re allowed to be Americans as if it hasn’t been bought with our our work and our our blood right. Since the epidemic Revolutionary War black people have always fought for this country. It that the last stand for us will be to make America stand up to the constitutional rights and extend those rights to us and enforce it and protect it for us. I think that that’s really what we’re seeing.
Unknown Speaker 3:19
I think you’re right. And I think what we also have to acknowledge to you is that we’ve also not only acknowledge the existence we’ve commodified existence, if you act this way, if you look this way, if you dress this way, if you don’t do this, this way, you get to live.
Unknown Speaker 3:37
What if we told that to a white person?
Unknown Speaker 3:40
Like if you you know, do this, you’re good. That would be too many to all of us, you know, appalling. We’ve been doing that to black Americans for a very long time. You know, this, this notion of commodification of existence is real. And we have to talk about it and we have to atone for it. And when We have to not only atone for it with our words we have to talk about with our actions and policy and money and everything. We have to engage the conversation because for me, this is not just an issue of what you know, my friends think of me or what you think of me or when anyone this person, this is about what God does and how God works in the world. God’s allowing us a chance to go for justice to go for the big thing that we’ve always worked for, in this country, at least on paper.
Unknown Speaker 4:27
Let’s do it.
Unknown Speaker 4:29
And I don’t want it to go and said that when you spoke out at MTV, you face backlash from the church that you were pastor at.
Unknown Speaker 4:39
Right? I mean, I did lose my job, but it for me, it was clear in Mark’s gospel, you’ve
Unknown Speaker 4:43
Unknown Speaker 4:45
Yeah. And to be very clear, that was a forced resignation. I had two choices. I could either stay on recant the the decision or my decision to say bye bye Matter, or I could, they would vote on my tenure. And the vote would most certainly have gone the way of me leaving the church. So I resigned. And I think the resign was not easy. I lost my job. And that’s how I say it because it wasn’t lost. I agreed that and I also say very clearly, that Mark’s Gospel says what good is it to gain the whole world but to lose your soul?
Unknown Speaker 5:25
I would have lost my soul had I stayed there.
Unknown Speaker 5:29
I would have lost a lot.
Unknown Speaker 5:31
And I’m not happy it went down the way it did, because I wish that people would be okay with with these conversations. But I’m far better off because I had a soul. And I sold it as convinced in the worthiness and the worth of every human being.
Unknown Speaker 5:51
When you’re doing God’s work,
Unknown Speaker 5:54
I hope so. And I and and I mean that in a sense of it. Do I fail? I know I mess up. We all do. But we’ve got to get up and keep trying.
Unknown Speaker 6:08
I mean, but just to have the courage and have the faith to step out on faith and do it. Like I told Bertha, she was asking me something about the position that I got. And I was like, I don’t know. And I was like, you know what I feel like this is like, I feel like it’s like that song, believe I run on see what the ends gonna be. Because I’m just like going, I’m just stepping out on faith. And I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. I don’t know what this role is. I don’t know what I’m sacrificing. I don’t know what I’m stepping into. But I do know that it’s worth it for me to do what I can where I can
Unknown Speaker 6:39
write. I mean, we’ve we’ve all got this, you know, Martin Luther, who was the same terrific reformation minister. In the 1600s. They said that one time he was asked what would you would do if the world were to end tomorrow? And he said the world would end tomorrow at plant a tree today and so I think many of us are fearful and rightfully so what’s next? I mean, it could easily be that the President gets angry and tweets something and then you know, there’s all this stuff happens to the sequential events, but we got to plant our trees now. Because the time is pressing. Yes. The old black church saying the time is short and the moment is pressing. Yeah, that’s true. The we have to press up against the reality that
Unknown Speaker 7:31
that we don’t need to miss out on this moment.
Unknown Speaker 7:35
The one question that I would ask white people, because usually when there’s these these conversations about, you know, someone who says or does something that black people identify as racist. The the retort is always, oh, I don’t know what’s in his heart. Like I’m struggling with how why people actually really identify or define racist? Because it’s like, it doesn’t have to just be kkk clay and like lynching.
Unknown Speaker 8:08
Right? I think you’re right. I think
Unknown Speaker 8:12
that that statement is just in his heart, which we’ve all heard is deeply rooted in excuse building. We’ve gotten really good at making excuses as white people in this country.
Unknown Speaker 8:26
Yeah, I’m really good at that.
Unknown Speaker 8:28
Again, I think that that comes back to the love because I think most white people love racist.
Unknown Speaker 8:33
Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s true as well.
Unknown Speaker 8:36
In so how can I, you know, lay with my husband or love my daddy or love granddaddy or grandma, Mama or whoever, who took care of me and was good to me. And, you know, sometimes sometimes not right? But how can I remove myself from that part of myself, if they’re all good, or they’re all bad? And we’re just like you said, we’re flawed.
Unknown Speaker 8:57
Right? And I think the notion that any of us are all good or all bad is Actually deeply flawed as well. You know, I think we’re complex your magical
Unknown Speaker 9:04
thinking is called black or white thinking, right?
Unknown Speaker 9:06
And we have to have the identity that we, you know, even though, you know, as you said, the relatives that we love and they they are deeply flawed, but it is incumbent upon us if we know that they are flawed to do something about it, to help them become better.
Unknown Speaker 9:25
I think that’s that’s the the ideal. Oh, yeah. I think it’s very difficult.
Unknown Speaker 9:32
I recognize that. And I’ve heard that from countless church people. It’s difficult for us to confront people. And, you know, I’ve read my Bible a few times, and I don’t see anywhere where Jesus said it was going to be easy. No, Jesus was just required us to do what’s right, and implores us to do what’s right, and cause us to do what’s right. And doing what’s right means addressing those realities even in their difficulty. But Jesus also promised something else in the Gospel secret promises that we won’t be able to. So, we have this person with us. God is with us in our struggle.
Unknown Speaker 10:10
And you know, that sacrifices is no more than God’s sacrifice, he sacrificed his son. But we have to stop asking black women, you know and black mothers to stop sacrificing theirs. Because it’s not a choice for us.
Unknown Speaker 10:26
God is uniquely empathetic and the ability to to know what black women are going through. But I also believe that God knows that we can be better and should be better. there that we are called to have these calamities happen upon black mothers who lose their sons who lose their daughters who these people that they have loved, please their fathers, the loss is incalculable.
Unknown Speaker 10:54
So so we have to ensure that that doesn’t happen.
Unknown Speaker 10:57
I just shut down to be honest with you. Because my my challenges as the mother of a black child is to be afraid for him all the time and like, tell him the things that he needs to hear. But at the same token still allows him the freedom of like, living his dreams and not being limited in in what he desires in life. But it’s it’s a fearful feeling at all times.
Unknown Speaker 11:28
And I’m sitting here thinking about what you just said, and I don’t know the fullness of that. I will never will, but it causes me to want to continue to struggle in this work.
Unknown Speaker 11:43
Because no one should have to feel that way.
Unknown Speaker 11:46
Yeah, he’s a he’s a good kid. He’s never given me a moment problems anything. He’s gone to the best schools here in New York Public Schools. He went to school with the mayor son, and there was an incident in in school where him and another student were playing in between classes. He was sitting down writing something in his book and the other student who was not black pick, like tried to snatch his pin. So he snatched it back and it flew across the room. I got an email from his teacher who was black, but I got an email from his teacher who was like, your son threw a pin at me in a dark like fashion. And I was like, whose kid? I firstly, you know, because I’m, I’m my mother’s child. So I’m like, if the teacher says it must be true. So I’m like, upset. I’m
Unknown Speaker 12:30
gonna kill my bike by going up. But like, this is the
Unknown Speaker 12:33
like, until 11th grade. This is the first negative thing I’ve ever heard about my child. And so I called his dad and his dad was like, Nikita, he doesn’t even sound like him, like, Wait till he comes home from school. And I was like, You know what, you’re right. And so I read the email again, I read the email again, the dean called me from school, and he was like, well, there’s nothing going to be on his permanent record and I was like, permanent record. Wait a minute. It’s poison. Never in life, gotten in trouble. So much to the point that his principal in elementary school was like, the whole school had gotten in trouble, because they’ve had a food fight. And he said, My son was sitting at the table reading. And so I finally got on the phone with the teacher. And the teacher was like, Oh, well, you know, yeah, he threw the pin pin at me in a dark like fashion. I said, You’re criminalizing
Unknown Speaker 13:29
his behavior. Did you? Are you
Unknown Speaker 13:31
trying to say that my son intended on throwing a pin at you? I said, and he was reprimanded. There was a scuffle between him and another child who was not black. Was he called to the office. The days did they contact his mother and they were like, No, and I was like, I want to speak to the whole entire school. Because I don’t understand how this is something that was perpetrated against him. But you criminalize his behavior. And and, and you guys are trying to put it on his permanent record in 11th grade. He’s going to college.
Unknown Speaker 14:01
Unknown Speaker 14:03
It systems in place. And I also want to say something you know that I heard when you first talked about him. He said he’s a good kid. I hear you and I believe he is. But just the fact that he’s a kid means he deserves to live and not be worried about this stuff. The qualifier good has been used so often as to explain why he shouldn’t be that, you know, you know, as bending kids have been dead, you know, that we will he was a good kid. Yeah, he wasn’t a kid he deserves to live, he deserves to have this freedom. And, and even mess up if he needs to, even if that’s not the what, you know, you get what I’m saying. There’s so you have to address this. Because you shouldn’t have to qualify your kids existence.
Unknown Speaker 14:45
Unknown Speaker 14:46
And again, as you’re saying, but you don’t have to qualify your kids existence.
Unknown Speaker 14:50
But it’s, it’s, it’s this narrative, right? Black people have that if you try to be good if you try to be pious if you try to be educated If you try to be these things that maybe we can escape some of this, but I know that that’s not that’s not real people, white people tout Martin Luther King all the time as like this standard, but he’s dead nonetheless.
Unknown Speaker 15:15
And Martin Luther King also was had 14% popularity when he died. I mean, like, this notion that King was the saint for people in the white world. It’s just, again, flawed. So you have to do in this narrative is say, Yes, your kid is wonderful and good.
Unknown Speaker 15:31
But that’s not the real
Unknown Speaker 15:33
Unknown Speaker 15:33
he is because he’s yours. Because he has a mind because he has a hopes and dreams.
Unknown Speaker 15:41
And God made them and God made in His
Unknown Speaker 15:44
image. There you go. That’s insane. And so So, existence should not be qualified. Again. It’s the commodification. Well, if he offers, if he goes to college, if he does this, he does that. Then maybe he’ll have a better chance of survival. That’s not that’s not good enough for me in this country.
Unknown Speaker 16:04
There has to be something better.
Unknown Speaker 16:07
I think I think that’s just our, you know, search for meaning, right, of avoidance of trying to beat the system in some sort of way.
Unknown Speaker 16:18
Well, and I mean, it’s sad.
Unknown Speaker 16:19
There’s also a notion that black people have to justify white anger.
Unknown Speaker 16:24
Why me? What did I do wrong?
Unknown Speaker 16:29
Unknown Speaker 16:33
Thank you for this conversation. You made me cry.
Unknown Speaker 16:35
Unknown Speaker 16:37
thank you. We continue on, and I’m thankful for you.
Unknown Speaker 16:42
I really appreciate you doing this. I was Joshua’s my cousin put something up on Facebook about you. And I was like, I want him on the show. And then I saw mixed text from Miss text from you. I’m like, wait a minute. He
Unknown Speaker 16:54
texted me. I’ll do it. Miss Bertha, delta. And Josh. Tell me
Unknown Speaker 17:00
I really appreciate your
Unknown Speaker 17:02
great people too. I got to you know, I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories about Gilbert. You’re Yeah, big deal a big deal. Okay. And I got to sit with him as he passed away. And it was one of the most holy experiences. It was redeeming it a lot of ways.
Unknown Speaker 17:23
So yeah, I miss him.
Unknown Speaker 17:24
I miss him, too. He’s a he was a funny guy.
Unknown Speaker 17:28
Funny guy. Yeah. And that’s when he came around. So
Unknown Speaker 17:33
well, you take care of yourself. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 17:35
Wait, tell them where they can they can find you.
Unknown Speaker 17:37
Oh, gosh. Yeah, sorry. You can find me.
Unknown Speaker 17:41
We’ve had a great conversation. You can find me on Twitter at Rob Lee for um, you can find [email protected] and my book about this particular issue is a sin by any other name, reckoning with racism and the heritage. So,
Unknown Speaker 18:00
okay, so once again, we want to thank Rob Lee for coming on the show. As you heard, this is a very personal interview, and I really appreciate us having this really candid conversation about race. And this time it needs to be said and needs to be done. And yes, guys, if you listen to throughout the show that, you know, I won my election and I am now the Vice President of NSW, New York State. And so I look forward to filling my duties and finding out what all of them are, and contributing in this space and,
Unknown Speaker 18:39
you know, continuing to be a resource now to more people in the field, but also to the people in the field who are not part of the chapter. Okay, hopefully to continue to reach out to me and yeah
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