NYC: The New Civil Rights Agenda

welcome to New America New York I’m Suzanne DiMaggio I’m a fellow and a director here at New America and it’s my great pleasure to welcome you this evening as you know we here at New America are dedicated to big ideas and lively conversation and I think tonight’s panel discussion will not disappoint it’s a collaboration between New America and the n-double-a-cp Legal Defense Fund and specifically I’d like to thank Jennifer Parker who is a New America alum and janae Nelson for helping to bring this great panel together thank you so much now I’m going to hand them the baton over to janae she’s going to lead the conversation she’s also going to introduce our great panel panelists this evening janae is associate director counsel at the n-double-a-cp Legal Defense Fund and education fund and she’s also a professor of law at st John University School of Law so without further ado let me hand it over to you Thank You Suzanne I’m delighted to be here thank you for hosting this event with the Legal Defense Fund it’s been wonderful working in partnership with the New America Foundation to put this together and thank you for turning out for this conversation on the new civil rights agenda thank you for the overflow crowd it’s always a good thing to see I have the easy job as moderator of this group to introduce a stellar panel of public intellectuals who I’m sure all of you know well in different capacities to my immediate right is Tallahassee Coates the national correspondent at The Atlantic Monthly next to him is sherrilyn Ifill the president and director Council of n-double-a-cp Legal Defense Fund and last but certainly not least is Jonathan Holloway a professor of history at Yale College and the new Dean of Yale College so please join me in welcoming so as many of you may have guessed the impetus for this gathering was the article the uber viral exquisite disquisition journalistic phenomenon Ozzie Coates is a cover story for The Atlantic Monthly this month you may not have seen it because it’s no longer on the stands that’s how hot it has been the case for reparations and so we wanted to gather this group to continue the discussion the re-energize discussion about racism history and status in America that was spawned by this incredible incredibly provocative article and it’s important that we’re having this discussion this year in particular because we are in the fiftieth anniversary year of many milestones in the civil rights movement much of the transformative legislation that was passed during that era is now 50 years old this year and next year so it’s a wonderful time to stop and pause and think about the new civil rights agenda and this is a wonderful context in which to begin that discussion um actually when I say I’m going to start with you and ask you about an observation I’ve made and seeing you be interviewed about your article and in the article itself it seems as if you’ve gone through great pains to modernize the discussion around reparations in an effort to distance it if you will from the historical grounding of slavery try to sort of update it and make it more present for us I wanted to know your thinking behind that why you did that and what it means for informing a modern civil rights agenda thank you janay when they actually be on this pan I could not refuse I suppose today they’re to two observations to be made if the first is a disciplinary observation you know we all have different ways that we go at things depending on you know we’ll feel we come from and for journalists you know the great power journalism and unfortunately the great weakness of journalism is that things have to be made new it has to be okay so what you know what’s going on right now what have you done for me lately and you know I came up in a period of time where there were a great many people in this country you know I guess they always are commenting on you know the force of

racism or Raisina in America and many journalists doing so without you know trying to be nice here we’re in a safe space without the slightest rounding or understanding of American history and the force of race and racism in American history to be perfectly frank about that and so and I think like people you know maybe who you know a specialist in Africa or maybe you know specialists in you know the Middle East or specialists wherever journalists tend to dip their toe might have a similar complaint their folks don’t understand the historical complexities of which they’re writing about and so that that I think comes from the fact that journalists have to be very much you know up-to-date what’s going on right now reporting the news but at the same time that doesn’t have to be a weakness you know he can actually be you know a great strength and so when I went to approach the topic like reparations I had to make it new but I think I actually I hate this thing of such crash terms but I think I actually made a more compelling narrative so thinking like did you cuddle this or so crashed the first thing I thought was you know knowing you know having read you know quite a bit of the research that you guys did knowing that the story does not you know end with enslavement that after 1865 there was not a great party and then we just let black people in and you know now we can’t figure out what’s going on you know you know understanding that you know and having seen you know so much work done around the New Deal and so much work done around the GI Bill so much work done around house it I mean even at the beginning if I had done anyone planning it was quite plated there must be living people on behalf of home you can you could make a claim and one of the great frustrating things about the conversation about reparations and we can have a you know a conversation about whether slavery in and of itself is enough but the notion that is just slave you know again that it just sort of ended right there and I wasn’t so much trying to distance it from enslaving but what I did want to do is say you know there is a path a policy path that you can track from 1619 right you know into the period right now where you can see people taking things from black people people plundering live people season taking resources out of African American communities and that was the you know anger I really tried to attach to it and that that is one it just so happens regrettably to not end in slavery well thank you um you you say that there are still living people who suffered the plunder and it’s interesting Charlotte and I just received an email from a colleague today who ran into John Lewis at an airport and recounted that fact to us he was so taken by meeting this living civil rights hero someone who actually suffered the brutality of trying to ensure that black people could have an enforceable and expansive right to vote and so Sharon let me ask you this when we talk about a modern civil rights agenda Voting Rights is really a key issue that is still at the fore I mean African American men got the right to vote in 1870 under the Constitution but it wasn’t until nearly a hundred years later with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 that that right was really expanded and and came to fruition why are we still fighting for voting rights not only you know after the passage of the Voting Rights Act but 50 years later we’re still fighting some of those battles what remains to be done well I think so first of all thank you for having me and you all for coming out and this is just terrific to be on this panel with such amazing people but I think Todd Haas he’s already kind of laid out that path which is that there’s a lot of forgetfulness you know that it’s kind of a part of American public policy and you hit it yourself janay when you first said that you know we’re celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer the 60th anniversary of Brown versus Board of Education next year we’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act so what do all those things mean well to me what they mean is that in fact this country as you and I know it is certainly no more than 60 years old I mean if it’s 60 years since Brown versus Board of Education and that’s the beginning of the end of legal apartheid that makes this room possible and the lives that many of us have led possible then we’re talking about a country that is in its infancy as the country that we know and yet we have not been taught to think of it that way we’ve been taught to think of ourselves as kind of hundreds of years old and therefore it leads to all kinds of things like why are we still talking about the right to vote well you know what’s wrong with black people why can’t they get it together what’s it you know didn’t slavery end in 1865 we forget that essentially we had the end of slavery we had very few years of reconstruction we

had this awful backlash we had the door shut and we had the recreation essentially of slave-like conditions for african-americans and all of the promises of the Civil War amendments of the 13th 14th and 15th amendments were with deliberation with state constitutional amendments with the brutality of lynching to enforce it with Jim Crow and the complicity of the United States Supreme Court all of that was crushed in its infancy and it took the work of the Legal Defense Fund it took the work of civil rights activists it took the blood and the martyrdom of Goodman Chaney and Schwerner and all of that to get to the point where we can say 50 years late here we are but here we are as a country that’s 50 years old so it’s important to me that we recognize that so first of all we won’t be so impatient with ourselves we actually just kind of are getting started at this thing called equality and secondly so that we won’t forget how really far we still have to go and what’s so powerful about Tallahassee’s peace is that it is a command to confront this reality and confront this history now the trick the tricky part in the difficult part is that it’s not just journalists who write or engage in discourse about race with having no kind of clue about American history it’s most people it’s most people and you know for those of us who have taught law as janae and I have you know the two hardest courses to teach our criminal law and constitutional law and they’re really hard not just because they engage really difficult issues they’re really hard because every student feels like they know something about this and they know something about criminal law and they know something about constitutional law because they have feelings about it and feelings are not the same thing as knowing so part of the problem that we have around race and and we see it to bring it back to your question about voting rights we saw it last year when the Supreme Court decided the Shelby County versus holder case which was a case that we litigated and argued in the in the court where there’s you know the Supreme Court basically professed to have it kind of superior knowledge notwithstanding the 15,000 page record that Congress had accumulated the 90 witnesses that they had heard from in the course of hearings around reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act just Chief Justice Roberts just has a field he just knows he knows that the way to stop racial discrimination is to stop discriminating based on race he just feels like that must be the formula the rest of us have just I don’t know what Justice Scalia he knows why the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized he said I know what this is he said in a file minute incredibly slow painful insulting soliloquy with our clients that we had flown in from Shelby County Alabama sitting in that packed Supreme Court well I know what this is he said it is the perpetuation of racial entitlement so how does he know how does Justice Scalia know this we’re from whence comes his expertise you know I was at a conference last Friday and I was talking about a case that Justice Scalia wrote a concurrence in last term it was the case about patenting the human genome and Justice Scalia in that case concurred with the majority decision but he said I could not concur with section 2b because it was all about microbiology and he said I don’t have any reason to know that you know I’m like not an expert that’s science right but race but race there is never any hesitation and those of us who work in this field know that to understand race means that you are and protect certainly to engage in anything to do with race in the law means that you’re talking about history and biology and neurology if you’re talking about bias and labor statistics and economics and demography and and political science and all of those disciplines are part of understanding how to litigate a Voting Rights case or an employment discrimination case or any case involving race and yet you don’t need any expertise for that you just kind of know so part of why Tallahassee’s piece for me is so powerful it’s just I just love hearing people say I just I feel so you know I’m so convicted by it right because it the conviction is not that you should feel guilty the conviction is that you have to stand humble before what you don’t know there are some reasons why you don’t know you weren’t taught is an effort to try to hide this history and shame and people don’t want to talk about all that stuff but you don’t know and that’s the beginning of I think coming to a place where we could really talk about how we change policy where we can have a honest engagement

about why we still need a robust Voting Rights Act in into 14 so Jonathan let’s let’s talk a little bit about how we get to know about race and racism in this country so Jonathan has written a wonderful book called Jim Crow wisdom and the title comes from an essay by Richard Wright called the ethics of Jim Crow living and he has in this book very pointedly and and personally talked about how race and racism is conveyed through families through narratives and how it informs social and political narratives about race and racism and so what I would like to one just hear your thoughts about how we come to acquire this knowledge about racism how it leads to this feeling that we know about race and yet we have this very simplistic understanding that empowers folks to opine about future of black people without having the appropriate grounding but I also want to add to that this context of reparations and I want you to hypothesize if in fact we had had this narrative and it wasn’t this marginalized narrative if we actually talked about reparations and redress from the start what new Jim Crow wisdom would we have today okay well let me thank you all for being here yeah it’s a stalling but so you know what I the historian in me obviously loves the past and loves great stories about the past we are who we are because of the stories that we’re told or the stories that were not told just trying to pull together the different Commodore on the floor I started thinking about what makes a nation this is a way to get to your I think and Furness turn on a French philosopher wrote in the late 19th century and I’m crudely paraphrasing it but a nation is made by forgetting like that’s what makes a nation it forgets and that’s what the reparations conversation is about it’s the one you’re trying to start by trying to have a grown-up conversation which we are not good at in this country I mean this country succeeds because it forgets and intentionally oh yeah structurally yes it’s built into the logic of this country and so I think the mindful work of honest scholars historians because for historians the mindful work of honest parents is to tell stories about the past and how we got to where we are sometimes that story and what I’m thinking about parents now involves forgetting that some things are so terrible we simply cannot afford to talk about it because you will be damaged the thinking is and that’s the story sort of the story behind the Richard Wright’s getting beaten knowledge beaten into them basically of others and you can’t afford to do certain things that you develop us that black parents develop a system of not telling their children things or beating them Ralph Ellison referred to you know black mothers beat their children it’s homeopathic preparing their children for this terrible world that a system is created where that makes sense tells you something that’s deeply flawed in the system in the first place that of survival is contingent upon forgetting something’s wrong and so how do we get to this point me give this point because after every so often people get frustrated by forgetting and they want to tell a story have or at least for goodness sakes have a conversation that’s not hyperbolic that’s not about blaming this person or that person that is simply about let’s actually think about who we are as a nation and let’s see what comes of it I don’t know why that’s so terrifying but it it is for many people I think it’s terrifying because it starts to it having an honest conversation takes you back to original sins of this country having honest conversation invites people to think about persistent structural inequality having an honest conversation means that we don’t just celebrate the 50th anniversary of a civil rights bill but think of all the people who aren’t alive who fought to have those you know to have these bills weren’t a good and change to these 69 1772 but they aren’t because people were afraid of change of

confronting original sin of being honest about what this country really is so we need to think about all of these things at once and it’s hard and it’s messy and it’s inconvenient but that’s the ethical way to live thank you yeah interesting things that would just said and the exciting really exciting thing about like um I mean RTC I you know hope th all 40 gets passed discussion but you know as a writer like really selfish and I think you have to have to be and it was kind of great to sit with like the philosophical question of whether a nation can actually remember like whether you made the point that with bad at this and I was trying to think if any makes that actually good at it you know Japan for instance is one that you know has a huge huge problem with this and is going through it right now people say Germany does a good job of remembering but that was after it killed most of the Jews within its borders so you know it’s a very very different project than what America has to do and so it like becomes you know almost philosophical question of whether we actually can remember whether you know a democracy actually can do that whether nation can actually do that and in that collides with something else and I was just thinking about this um notion you talking about about success through forgetting and Tony choten’s book pulse what he talks about this we were able the nations of Europe were able to emerge to keep going because they forgot had they been obsessed with these Bloods and Denis back and forth and all this death they never would have been able to consolidate in the successful nation-states and yet you know I think about the great existential crisis in us right now which is climate change I wonder like whether we’ll be able to like forget because this is all about history right this is all about challenging what you’re doing like what you did to the earth which you’ve been doing to the earth it’s a very similar challenge to you know what we what we face in terms of race and racism in this country and so really really direct ties for instance when you start thinking about how our cities are set up and sprawl you know you start thinking about car and I know you’ll talk will talk a little bit about transportation and that sort of thing and how that ties in you know it’s all tied together and so I guess what I’m saying is you know we often think of reparations this sort of luxury this is confrontation but it’s optional you know something that we should do but if we don’t we’ll be okay and you know I wonder and I’m doing speculative here but if it’s actually existential if you don’t do it we may not be a succeeding by forgetting we may just be putting off a debt that’s gonna come upon us in in the worst possible way something much worse than black people right you know I mean that’s so that just kind of gets me right in the chest because I it is I think it’s an open question to like I don’t know that we can I I do think there are things we can do to make ourselves do this thing we don’t want to do which is to remember and to engage and you know you raise the issue of transportation that’s a longer subject but the issue of place which is also why your piece was so important I really believe that the physical space I mean think we do it right we set up monuments to remember we set up Arlington National Cemetery we we recognize that the physical space is a powerful way to make us confront the past the weed so we all know that and I think that that it is an important place for us to start when I was writing about these the last two recorded lynchings in Maryland you know I was really meticulous about the physical space right that this is where they broke into the hospital this is these are the streets they dragged him down this is where they hung and this is where they’ve been the police officer was standing at the corner of Main and division when he was directing traffic while the lynching was happening this is where they dragged his body – and the black section was burned here they went to that gas station and they got get I mean because – just walk through the physical space as though as though certain things didn’t happen right wheel we allowed that’s something we allow we don’t have to allow that I mean if you think about it you you walk through the city and streets are named you know I don’t know Spike Lee way or whatever you know I mean we do this I mean that we commemorate in the physical space and we could commemorate in the physical space other things that have happened as well and it’s it is it takes a decision to do it so one of the things I was pushing for in these communities was you know the the name of the book I wrote was called on the courthouse lawn because all these lynchings took place upon the courthouse lawn and I wanted to – to say that lynchings did not happen in the woods with Hillbillies which is what I grew up thinking right that that’s not how it happened that in fact most of the time they happened downtown and most of

the time they happened outside the courthouse because it was a statement about who is in control of the law we are the mob not you because very often the person who was killed was taken from the jail which was in the courthouse so when you go and you drive to the Eastern Shore of Maryland there all these beautiful courthouses and these beautiful lawns are so picturesque and lovely and they have commemorative plaques on them they have war memorials and they have trees that were donated by the Garden Club and they have little plaques but none of them mentioned that in one case five hundred people in one case two thousand people in another case 1,800 people were standing on that very courthouse lawn trying to kill and effectively killing him for hanging and burning somebody I’m not talking about in the 1800s you know I’m talking about in the 1930s in very small towns where the descendants still live so there’s a way in which like the the disappearing of this of the physical space is actually part of what allows the rest of it to happen and that’s one of the reasons why I really love the piece that the Tallahassee wrote about housing because I’m always asking people like how do you think this city got to look the way it does we didn’t just wake up and say black people just decide to all go this way white people all went this way I just like to live in this really big tall thing that you know has really small rooms like that just didn’t happen it’s all the result of affirmative policy decisions and investments that were made in this country that controlled the physical space Bronks looks like the Bronx that’s because certain highways were built in certain places Queens looks like it it looks because certain investments were made in Long Island take those potato fields and allow people to live like those were decisions that were made we didn’t just kind of come out into the plains and just start running and claiming land and putting down stakes there were decisions that were made and we’re still making them we’re still making policy decisions that are transforming the space climate change is a perfect example and that’s where the memory is at least to my mind in that physical space so I want to build on that a little bit because it’s easy right when you have something like lynchings when you have this physical even event this physical brutality to point to and that everyone can viscerally react to but these days it’s it’s very hard to find something that explicit and that’s what makes the challenge of addressing racism in this current modern context that much more difficult that’s why we have such a struggle with our students right because they don’t quite have the physical markers to look at in the same way and so what I really appreciated about Charlene’s book on the courthouse lawn is that she talks about lynchings and she talks about not only the physical violence and the white perpetrators but also those folks who just passively looked and allowed it to happen right so folks who knew that this was occurring that this was in many ways government sanctioned terrorism and allowed it to happen what do we know day that we are witnessing that we are on looking to that is contributing to black subjugation what can we bring to the fore in criminal justice right I mean sto that’s teen it up you know this RC this is not what I spent the last two years researching and you guys can find speak a lot of attitudes but there was a great article in in New York last week and I cannot remember the journalist name I mean it was absolutely a crime we have data prisons in this country I mean we just do you know thank you thank you Sarah Stillman thank you sir Stover for the camera incredible I mean I had to stop at some point it was just so you know like terrified and we just don’t know so I you know I wonder whether it is the lack of light explicit provocative thing I mean I’m there’s plenty explicit and plenty plenty provocative or is it just looking away you know we actually you know we die and that you know gets us into again these existential question you know are we just looking away like didn’t do we just kind of have to look away to get throughout you know how our everyday I mean are you talking about why didn’t we you know black men of a certain age going through us I may not and the effects are very real you know they’re very very real and they’re felt and they’re there and they’re demonstrable you can put a number on them you can you know what is it we you know african-american men represent some in this skill population of all humans on this earth but like 8% of all humans in prison I mean I you know that’s pretty stalk that’s pretty stalk and yet we’re looking away and you know I brought that piece by sir stone because the beautiful thing about that is that if it’s not the product of mass incarceration it’s a product of reform that’s what that piece is all about it’s about the effort to do

things besides you know besides you know lock people way halfway houses was was the big thing she was critiquing in there and in effect you see like you see the thing almost like a virus I won’t reduce it to racism but that’s definitely part of it almost like a virus reproducing itself even in our efforts to reform and when you got something that deep you know I don’t want to be a total mess in this but you know I it speaks to something at all very roots is what I’m trying to say that you know can’t be just made to go away because you know some governor’s want to cut budgets that’s not gonna be enough you know what actually it’s thinking about forgetting again people make choices to get to your point I mean a lot of people in this room are younger and some may not remember that it wasn’t always like this in terms of scales that conscious decisions were made policy decisions were made to do this to create prison Strait prisons for profit for God’s sake and that was that’s recent history that’s 30 years ago this just happened really successfully and and it’s now created multiple generations of people who at minimum will have bad faith when it comes to interacting with police minimally and same thing with stop and frisk minimally they’ll have bad faith and this is not to say that things were perfect beforehand but the scales of this kind of physical and psychological violence had just gone off the charts and people either because they’re bystanders or they’re innocent they’re innocent – history is what we’d like to say politically to be politic they’re innocent – history they put their heads in the sand you know they’re enjoying their modern all modern gadget that I love as well and they’re really happy to enjoy those things and not worry about the terrors that are there I mean cuz we got we got little kids in detention camps on the Mexican border we have people who are detained even though they are actually detained improperly doing was a dollar day laborer in the New York Times story weeks ago but see how is this this place I think there has to be as people are so tired of hearing the word narrative but what here it is listen I started writing this book here about these lynchings that was not my area of study I have been a civil rights lawyer and when I went to when I moved from from New York to Maryland I left the Legal Defense Fund and I went to teach and I started these clinics with my students I was bringing a title six case challenging the routing of a talking about place again the routing of a highway through the black community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and it was the third time in 60 years they run a highway either through or next to the same african-american community we actually had plaintiffs would like lived there and then mu and now they were running the highway through their community again and whatever I go to do a case I always ask people in the community about the history of race in their community that’s matter what I’ve read you know I ask the people because there are always these stories and those people told me about these two lynchings and the reason that it struck me is because every time I ask in any community about the history of discrimination since I became a civil rights lawyer I was always told these stories about violence it happened when I was in Texas it happened when I was in Tulsa that’s how I first heard about the Tulsa race riots it was always there not because these people that I was talking to had been there speaking about memory but because they remembered it it the story was so powerful so I think that when I started then researching and getting involved in the story and it’s obviously a fairly gruesome topic you know I became obsessed with trying to understand the bystanders how do people how do people do this how do people watch this how did they do it I mean they’re human beings they’re not you get to say they’re white they’re human beings and they watched this brutality and I mean housewives and homemakers and storekeepers and I don’t mean the people who you know got the rope and the fire I mean that I mean the people who just came out so trying to understand it and what I believe is that the power of narrative the story that you are told about the other infiltrates you so deeply and and black people are not immune to it either which is why we also can watch a lot of stuff happen mm-hmm that that the story about who this person or these this group of people are you know somebody said the other day you know if this was all these Irish toddlers you know at the border would we

be having the same reaction as hearing that all these Mexican American Mexican toddlers are at the border right that the story about who people are gets so deep I think in US that it allows the return to your gadget and it’s why we have to engage the the the narrative in in 1966 the the US prison population was 250,000 that is now the same number as the federal prison population right our prison population now is about what 2.1 million 2.1 million but interestingly today our crime rate is the same as it was in 1966 so we went through all of the fear of crack and carjacking and you know we would always create a new law every time a new crime because carjacking gotta have a federal law and now we’re back to the crime level of 1966 but we have this prison population that looks nothing like the prison population up to 1966 so where is that congress that demand that we make our prison system look be commensurate with the threat right I think because there is a story that has been developed about who african-american men are in particular and there and the worthiness of their lives about what they would do with their lives I think people just think what would they I could do anything with it you know I think prison has been put so out of sight and out of mind that we know you know prison conditions used to be like a thoroughgoing conversation in the 1970s now we’re holding people in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for decades which means we are deliberately driving people out their minds and that’s not like a daily conversation so I think that and and for us it’s a struggle as civil rights lawyers because you know we’re litigating and we’re engaged in advocacy but we are not unaware of the fact that narrative is so important and and the constancy of trying to think through how to to shape narrative within the kind of narrow confines of litigation or even of policy advocacy it’s very very difficult which is why the work of historians and journalists are so complementary and have to be part of that struggle that these are not like separate vocations because we can’t do it without somebody pushing to change and shift that narrative the other piece is I think like when you talk about narrative is arm so there never is everybody knows there’s you know people are very happy because there’s this broad coalition that you know seems to be emerging right now and I think you know I say that just a little skeptic we will see how that goes between left and right with people in society that our policy around incarceration that is bad I don’t think that’ll be sufficient though it is very very similar to you know the conversation that you know we had I would say you know around the Civil Rights we will end up coming out of the civil rights and we don’t say we all had that conversation but came out and that is if we stop doing what we did everything will be okay after this is was a disaster and no matter what gets fixed after this it will be a disaster for a long long time it will not be enough to just fix our policies this was a moral probably economic disaster for african-american families and for this country and it won’t be enough to just stop doing it and that was like one of the big things you know I was I was trying to push in the piece it’s not enough to say okay you know I’ve been kicking you in the head for the past 50 years now I stopped how I give me a medal you know we should all celebrate have a holiday no no you got to fix things you got to repair you know got to you know bandage folks up and heal them this dig african-american media is taking on and I’m not even capable of you know quantifying this or you know qualifying this I’m sure you know somebody knew what could do it but you can just feel it those of us who live in the community I walk around understand it this has been a disaster and and it won’t be enough to just stop doing it you know there’s gonna have to be some sort of repair done so let me ask a question because there’s there’s a statement in your piece that is almost Anatomy to what many of us grew up hearing and what we try to beat into our kids in terms of how achievement can uplift the race I don’t want to butcher your words but you say something along the lines of the entrenched or the trenchant racism to which black people are subjected will not change or will not be eradicated by us becoming more respectable right right so it speaks to the systemic racism right that this is much bigger than us it’s not just a

matter of us rebranding ourselves right or coming up with some new image of 2.0 and we’ve done that we have tried that but I want to ask I mean and and I do want us to get back to the bigger policy question so just giving you a heads up we are going to end with our top civil rights agenda points that you want the audience to take away but I also want to talk on a very practical level and maybe Jonathan this is a good one for you and we talked about Jim Crow wisdom and passing on messaging to to the next generation how do we get youth to buy into some level of personal responsibility some inspiration some sense that there is a future for them in the face of these systemic problems how do we contextualize Jim Crow and-and-and the history of subjugation and discrimination in this country in a way that can still leave folks inspiring if we hear Tallahassee’s comment there’s nothing we can do right I mean you know we’ll never be risk enough so how do you say keep marching on that there is still something that you can gain and there still is some way to uplift the race through achievement so since you want a head towards a policy conversation I’m going to answer with a very non policy theme so this is you know you can say he still didn’t do it I believe you need to have systemic changes and you need to have very non-quantifiable small changes you know these problems can be so overwhelming that you’re like I can’t do anything about this and so you just don’t do anything about it and since I’m so vested in narratives and storytelling essentially I think we owe it to our future to start talking having conversations like this talking to our children talking to our nephews and nieces and explaining some things to them and if we start having honest conversations difficult conversations conversations that aren’t about heroes and villains because I think everybody’s a saint and sinner but like are just tough conversations maybe we can teach our children to grow up I mean that they can actually have grown-up conversations because we just want to have them in this country I’m so tired of you know spin doctoring in 32nd news and you know reality TV and I mean all that stuff it’s polite way of saying it but you know I want to have like real honest-to-goodness conversations because he you start changing consciousness you actually can get somewhere now this is not a replacement let me be clear it’s not a replacement for the real need for also structural economic I mean you need to get help people get jobs you to have decent housing identities in health care you need to have fundamentals but if you also can’t remember who you are in the process of doing it it’s just going to come back again it’s gonna bloomerang around again and next time may not be black people it may be you know pick your object that you want to pick we’re gonna divide and conquer somehow and we’ll just keep doing it so if we don’t have small conversations honest conversations I don’t care where they happen frankly it happened in the church and happer in the kitchen table doesn’t really matter to me we’re not gonna go anywhere so I like to see people reading more how about that reading reading is fundamental reading all kinds of things like see them talking with one another more and with I want to see them to turn off the television set or electronic world in which we live TV doesn’t really well laptop screens all that kind of stuff want to interact with each other I know this all sounds very squishy and soft it’s not gonna change anything but I can guarantee if we don’t do it nothing’s changing if we don’t find a way to convince people to get concerned about the quality of life around them about the faces that they don’t see about the people who like your room is clean how did you really get clean somebody cleaned it for you if we can’t find about those people we’re sunk I mean if you remember many of you or many weren’t live my god we’re getting older but uh jesse jackson’s convention for floors speech and 88 in atlanta he started talking on all the people who clean your hotel rooms into the bedpans there’s anybody that took the early bus that you never saw that worked their tails off so you could be here and have a nice comfortable room have a place to go if you’re sick and enjoy whatever convenience it is if we don’t tell their story we’re sunk I mean yeah I’ll be short term success but

we’re sunk I mean it’s it is on you know teetering on on fragile legs and it’s gonna collapse so I want to have a moment to open it up to questions shortly but I am going to ask each of you what is on your new civil rights agenda operation you know reparations and I was sick right and in its root level its root level and it just keeps you know reproducing itself and and just you know just the ties met really quickly to this conversation about personal responsibility which is it I’m not gonna say that make argument against you know children you know not doing their homework I want to favor them that’s when their homework there certainly is a conversation of my personal responsibility I have with my son there’s been an ongoing conversation about personal responsibility in our communities and our places of worship ever we organize probably from the moment we got here that you know that that has to be there it’s tough to say this right because I think like that there’s a need you know and I don’t know if this is like us as Americans of this human thing to believe that there is something that can be done where and you don’t have to depend on other people and I think a lot of black people feel this need you know you don’t want to see your fate the power over over over to other people but in some way we made a choice to be Americans and there’s some things that come with that and part of what comes with that is that we are wearing a minority and there are people with a great great degree of policy control over our communities that doesn’t mean we have to be hopeless you know that doesn’t mean it is you know nothing that can’t be done what it doesn’t mean is I am skeptical of that being changed by going into communities and denigrating little black boys who idolized LeBron James I don’t think that’s going get us there I don’t think the problem is and I’m you know speaking to a larger you know thing hit up in a cage then I don’t think the problem is that those young black boys idolize LeBron James I think you know young boys across this country idolized LeBron James be they black white or whatever the problem is there is not enough going on those communities that they idolized something besides that right there there’s a lack of options there’s a lack of other things being seen and then we have to ask a question of why that is and regrettably the most depressing thing that is the world is that that takes us right back to policy it’s not an accident you know it’s not a lot and I’m just gonna you know say this you know I’ve lived around you know African Americans all my life I’ve been an American all my life I like that you know and I just I’ve I’ve not detected a lack of will you know among black people that just has not been you know my perception and you know going out into the world and being around white people I have certainly not detected a superior will among white people at all in any respect you know a mediocre black people a mediocre white people the problem is if you’re black and mediocre you could end up in jail that’s the policy problem right there and so I you know I don’t want to be depressing you know and I don’t want to say you know we shouldn’t have these conversations about personal responsibility we should we are will continue to but you know just to help you where because Ramona says when the President of the United States but was the author you know of American pilots who brings with them all the history of what America did always the representative of the American public stands up before us and says that you know this is part of the sewage I have a problem with that I have a problem with that I have an issue with that you know because you know when you become president you’re not just a black man anymore you know you’re still a black man we recognize that is your private identity but when you’re standing in a while your public official you should be held to account I would have a problem for white president said that and so I’m just gonna tell you you know for all the energy I got in the world I’m gonna push back on that you know I don’t again I don’t want to denigrate the private conversations that we have that are you central to who we are that are part of our humanity but policy got us here policy got us here not not a lack of will you know we did not become enslaved because of a lack of wood we were not victimized by Jim Crow because of a lack of what we were not red line because of the lack of will policy got us here in policy is the way out can we get ourselves out and I want as I ask you all to identify the civil rights issue on your agenda how do we get there I mean I know there’s this obviously concept of linked fate I mean you know you made a very eloquent point that we’re all in this together it’s so integrated and interlocked but if if really we have this pessimism right that

our own respectability is not going to get us there on our own and we know these constructs did not just come out of thin air that there’s really some deliberation behind this what is the solution can we get out of this on our own can I interrupt because there’s no way I want to go after the head of the n-double a-c-p you know your strengths and weaknesses I’m not going I’ll be very brief real jobs and real education people can debate Tallahassee and other people about reparations or even what I was just about conversation to they’re blue in the face but if we don’t find a way to give real jobs to this country if you have a real job you can do things now you may not be able to do everything that’s a different conversation I’m talking about fundamentals I mean just fundamentals a real job and because education is my is the world in which I live a real education which looks like different things to different people I think but like a real one not not one for profit not when it leaves you with no skills critical thinking skills or vocation skills that you can use real education real jobs you set me up so I believe that and this very much is consistent with I think both Jonathan and Tallahassee’s points that the ability to make substantial change for black people in this country for racial minorities in this country will and must happen as a result of public policy but we very often forget the word public racism in this country has now become wrapped in a language about public life and the attack on public life is in my view what is choking the black community if you think about all of the ways in which we have privatized elements of life that we thought of as public private prisons private education private transportation it is the public apparatus the group robust public life that gives that chance that you’re talking about its robust public education its public transportation that allows people to be able to get to jobs it allows them to be able to move around the public space it’s public space parks bike lanes all that other stuff that allows us to interact with each other it is taking responsibility for people who are the most powerless or the worst of these which means public prisons it’s all of those pieces of public life that when they are strong allowed people who have gotten this short end of the policy stick to be able to move their lives forward and in my view the attack that we have been seeing particularly over the last 25 years and it’s growing in intensity is an attack on public life in America every institution of public life is under attack that’s what you see on the top but race is right underneath it right underneath it and so you’re able to talk about public education and public schoolteachers and you’re able to talk about all of these things without mentioning race when we’re in Maryland and we’re having a debate about whether to raise the gasoline tax to pay for public transportation everybody knows what that means that means building a train in Baltimore right that’s different than building the Intercontinental connector highway that’s going to get people from Washington DC to Montgomery County people know what that means so all of those words that signify public life and the reason why I’m saying this to you is because we are in New York and you have no idea what it is like in the rest of the country that does not have a robust public life you’re on the subway with each other all the time you’re walking down the street you went to Central Park and you watch the World Cup game you go into the public theater and you you did all this public stuff and you take it for granted it’s like airf to you and you don’t even notice it you don’t even notice it but you don’t know notice what it is like in yes the Shelby counties and the kill Michael Mississippi’s but in the Baltimore Maryland’s with the Train goes ten stops it’s not even a

circle it’s just what up and down up to Johns Hopkins and back down again so I’m always talking about this woman who’s standing at the bus stop in the nurse’s uniform who’s got the job at Johns Hopkins it starts at seven o’clock yeah she she did leave her kids in the dark because we don’t even have the transportation system there she’s got a job but that would allow her to get to that job in a ride in a car that would be 15 minutes it’s going to take her an hour and a half because our bus system is still the maids route gonna take her all over the city before it gets her to her job so now she’s left her kids they have to go to school by themselves maybe they didn’t have breakfast maybe she didn’t check the homework maybe they are bullied on the way to school maybe they do something and all the narrative is going to happen that night on on I news is gonna be about what happened to her child that she left mm-hmm it’s not gonna have anything to do with the bus system or the lack thereof that’s that’s a farthest thing from people but the public infrastructure that working-class people need to be able to live their lives has been under relentless attack I think we’re at the point now where we’re even voting is thought of as like welfare – like everything that everything public is welfare everything public is welfare so if if I were going to think through how to frame all of this for me it is kidding at those places of public life that are so important it is hitting at education it is dealing with crime and and the prison system it is dealing with transportation and public services because every piece of transportation that you see is the result of a decision and an investment and the investment was not private money the investment was our money it was public money so we have the ability to make those investments differently so for us obviously coin of the realm is voting remains the coin of the realm because that’s your indicia of citizenship and I enter coming for that one they want that one so if they want it it must be really important you got it you got to have that but you’ve got to deal with mass incarceration which will which will when we look back be seen as kind of the human rights you know crisis of the 20th and 21st century it will there’s no question about it would be absolute shame your grandchildren say well what what are you kidding me how did that happen we must deal with public education because we must have a real opportunity for people to be able to get that thing that you get from from America you get to 12 years you get you 12 years and and institutions of higher learning – I’m the youngest of ten kids the ability to go to City College in the 1970s pay that fifty dollar registration fee allowed my older siblings to be able to go to college so we really have to be focused on all of these places of public engagement and public investment because that’s our money we have the right to be concerned about that we have the right to the privatization of America we have a right to be concerned about that and understand that right underneath the conversation about the public and the private is race just right underneath it and it’s covering up the robust conversation that you all are trying to push us to have if you read Tana Hafiz article every decision that is in there that results in the kind of suffering that those individuals lived has to do with public policy and decision making at the public level so before we open this up for questions I’m actually going to answer my own question and I’m glad you you raised the issue of voting tonight and I just want to underscore that in my view voting and elections that is our most public of processes right that we need to protect that gives us the entry point to make a difference in all these other levels and Charlaine alluded to this already about voting rights are fundamentally under attack this coming Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee is conducting a hearing on an amendment to the Voting Rights Act and cherylin will be testifying will be hosting a link on our site to watch that testimony live and I hope you’ll join us and do that but it’s critical that we as the public put pressure on those elected officials who can make the decisions to ensure that we get those protections back to protect the right to vote to enable us to make these policy changes we’ve been talking about policy policy doesn’t just change itself it comes through a political process and we have to be engaged in it in order to make that happen so that is at the top of my civil rights agenda and I would love to hear from you we’re gonna open up the floor for questions and Tyler has the mic so just raise your hand if you’re interested in posing a question we’ll start over here hello so one of the main questions that I always have coming from

Texas the suburb I come from a conservative black family and I said Tennessee’s piece to a lot of people who I thought would think it was very relevant and interesting and it was hard to get them to sit down and read it and I realized that it’s long they were right if there was to worse and that’s the struggle but there’s a in the broader context of America there’s a lack of attention span and so I get really frustrated cuz we sit here and have these amazing discussions you know public intellectuals have all these great ideas and I just wonder you know when Kim Kardashian all of a sudden post something about how racism is relevant because now she’s married to Kanye West and millions of people have a thought about it I just think you know back to something a pastor of mine said meet people where you are and I wonder if you guys have an opinion on figuring out ways to meet Americans realistically where they are cuz I agree with what Jonathan said about getting people to sit down and read and talk to each other but that’s not what I see and I’m frustrated by it but I want to be realistic about it so I just wanna know what you guys think about that thank you so to two quick things the first thing is I think we should all be aware of the limits of knowledge if progressives don’t often think if everyone had access to the right information everything will be okay it is very very hard what’s that saying it’s very hard to get a man to realize something his paycheck it’s very very hard to get people to to to to but you can’t make them read that it’s not in your power you know and I think like that that’s the first thing to deal with you know a level of personal especially people always ask me you know when I write you know especially with a piece like that well what did you hope to happen well I hope to figure out a problem for myself after that there’s not too much you can do you just can’t make people want to know and behind every bit of that you know public policy to Shaolin is talking about this is the depressing thing there is to some extent people you know who have been you know doing things against their own interests but the father demise in American history white supremacy is an actual interest there’s an interest and you can see people you know supporting it in you know even if you want to say it’s a short-term interest you know it’s an interest that people actively support um so you know I think we have to be realistic about that fact everybody isn’t going to want to know at the same time believe it optimistic now I’m not gonna be totally at the same time you know I’ll just speak and I hope I’m not you know embarrassing anybody Atlantic by saying this but I think I can save this when you make a decision to put reparations on the copper and you make a decision to put no pictures on the copper and you make a decision to put all text on the cover you’re not expecting it to somehow not you know you’re kind of taking one for the team hey you know what we really should just do this I mean everybody was happy about it journalistically right like I mean like everybody was like yeah this is really cool but you know this ain’t the one you’re gonna sell out on but it did but it did and the last I heard the live sales figures we had we had already sold out and we hadn’t even gotten the newsstand numbers yeah we had only just old bonds and only basically sold out you know more than the issue from from this time last year you can’t find they don’t induce this I mean this is this is absolutely incredible and it was like that right away we were doing some stuff with MSNBC and Joey was doing the pieces and then I went all over Brooklyn looking for this okay it’s it you know this is like right after it came out not a have black folks come up to me you know I bought 10 and this is trying to get one but I give it a move and people write me yo you got a hookup like I’m not even joking like I got the text message I’ll show it to like people like just straight up like China that light has to be a good thing you know I thought that that is the optimist and I think a lot of us have just really really taken heart you know from that so why the same thing you can’t make people know there is an appetite to know you know there is a you know a number of people in this country that really do want to know things the number of people would just come up to me you know with and you know we just come up to me I mean why me when they just say I had no idea I just didn’t know you know and for prayed for a person like me who can be sent a coin you know kind of cold-hearted about the writing in about our future it has been heartwarming you know it has been enlightening that there is you know people in this country a number of people in this country who are concerned and do want to know well you can say what you want about the the cover the cover is is incredible and it’s powerful and compelling without pixilated you know like someone is a

different thing looks good thank you to all our panelists and also wanted to thank Shoen for talking about public life and recovering public life I think that’s a really important theme that really runs through all of these conversations so I just came back from a conference in Detroit called the allied media conference and I it’s a conference that is primarily attended by people in Detroit mostly queer youth of color and my question somewhat relates to our previous questioner but maybe in a different sense and I was hoping that the panelists could really address this question of how do we engage young people in these debates and these questions because what I witnessed in Detroit was amazing right there was a huge push for talking about things like this investing in our cities which is a very important topic in Detroit about how that relates to race and Empire really thinking through like the historical markers in our racial history but at the end of it I also heard and these are young people that are very technologically engaged they’re always using their gadgets and they’re talking about these issues but at the end of the day one of the things that I heard is we don’t trust the rule of law we want to build our own systems and our own communities we don’t believe in this system of democracy and I’m wondering if you can address that well so I would say quickly there are so many conversations happening among so many young people right now that I’m not surprised by what you’re saying I actually just was saying this the other day of the million hoodies had their conference and freedom side is meeting this weekend there are so many groups of young people who are completely engaged and they are studying they want to know they are educating themselves about the history of this country and it’s and it’s extraordinary I think that young people should should should feel that way in other words I think young people should be mistrustful you know snick was mistrustful of King and and the SCLC and that’s the way it should be and and and there should be that push and pull you know after Trayvon Martin was killed I was going to the bank with my daughter it was maybe six or seven months later and she had her her hoodie on and we were going into bankers and get some money out and I just said very didn’t even think about I said you know take your hood off before we go into the bank and she said no and I thought what do you know take it on going into the bank it’s respectable place take you did she said I’m gonna get my money and it’s a coal and I’m keeping my own now you know my thought as her parent right is that yeah I don’t want her I don’t want trouble you know um and I’m still worries lawyer right but I’m going to you know saying do it um and and she’s saying something different I mean that the whole thing about the hoodie thing was actually I mean know what this was not grown people who was saying you know let’s take the pictures with the hoodies or million hoodies and all that stuff that was young people because they were saying something more than we were saying we were saying of course that stand your ground is terrible that you filled this child that all weep saying all the things that you couldn’t but they were saying something else they were saying also I don’t have to be respectable I’ll have to dress a certain way I get to be Who I am and get to walk on the street and that’s what the hoodie represented it represented an articulation of themselves as citizens of this country because people in this country so young people should always be saying something different then we’re saying that doesn’t that doesn’t trouble me at all I think the problem is what what does trouble me is when that becomes like some kind of competition so I am NOT one of the people of my now generation sadly who tries to convince young people that they should see it my way I just don’t think I mean I I have to learn to write just like just like my daughter kept her hood on and I’m like yeah why can’t she keep well why did I tell her take it off right so so I don’t think that’s a competition and I think sometimes when we’re in the same space together when I’m at conferences there’s like a thing where somebody’s trying to convince the other side I just think I don’t you know I’m very I’m very mindful of just the process of maturation the good and the bad of it right the good of it and that you learn how to be strategic and you learn how to play the long game and you know all the things that maturation gives you and the bad of it and there takes some of your boldness away and your take you know one of the

best things that I found when I was researching my book was a petition signed in 1933 by by 19 lawyers 13 lawyers all asking for reparations literally that’s what they were asking for for lynchings and they were basically saying that the local town should have to pay for the ‘sheriff not protecting the victim and it was $20,000 for this and $20,000 for that and the property damage it was signed by 19 lawyers and the the last lawyer who signed it it was very young and only two years out of law school was Thurgood Marshall now I’m sure if in 1972 you’d ask their Gamache to sign a petition about reparation you say well probably not right that I mean you know what I mean so that to me that is is natural that is what it’s supposed to happen and I think that you know we shouldn’t worry so much about I mean the difficult periods are the dry periods but there are waves that’s why your article sold out there are waves when people want to know when people are on to something the 2008 economic crisis as devastating as it has been to this country you know people started to see the strings of America and it made people want to know people we’re in a time of curiosity and so we’re on a wave and and when you’ve that wave comes because it does leave you you have to have your stuff together to go with that wave you know when you’re coming into the shore and you should go to come with the wave so that’s our job our job is to get our ducks in a row so that when people are ready to know you know Tallahassee like rolls it out you know there it is right and now the question is so now he’s rolled it out and some people have read it not all but some and now what so now people want to know now what and now it’s my job do you know like now so what do we do about housing so what do we so that’s the it’s catching the wave and then building on it and recognizing that then you go back and it retrench is again it retrench is again but these waves will come they will come high so even though Civil Rights agenda is very much based in the historical struggle of african-americans how do you think that new alliances with other racial and minority groups can play a role in the struggle moving forward I’ve been sitting like a bump on a log swallow oh um one of you said earlier some kind of forget you mean there’s a long history structural it’s policy but also we’re talking about human beings and human beings get hungry and the need shelter and then he close and they need jobs I think if we start to recognize alliances are there are in that space is that we all know what it feels like to be picked on everybody does if we’re honest most of us know what it feels like to pick on somebody else as well if we can find ways to recognize that helping like what does it arise with going the water theme a rising tide lifts all boats and now that’s easy to say the trick is is that I’ll keep it crude and simplistic our own at self-described ethnic groups are not free of our own ethnic presuppositions that there is lots of tensions between historically like in Los Angeles Korean shop owners and the black community that they largely served there are lots of tensions between blacks and Latinos who are taking their jobs you know in quotes in different places so there’s a lot of heavy lifting to go on that has nothing to do with the man in the sense it’s about getting past her own ethnic particular isms and racism Zinn ethnocentrism I wonder I don’t it’s an honest wondering I’m thinking about the youth of today are they different and I just don’t know I don’t know the the historian me says sooner or later you know that sucker punch is coming but I don’t want to take the possibility of a different kind of future way from younger generations that’s their role frankly to prove us wrong and so I do wonder if if it’s possible to be hopeful about cross-racial across ethnic alliances in a way that it’s hard for me to understand in a practical sense I’m not answering the question I just wonder it openly I don’t know if anybody else has any thoughts on that well I mean I would say we we certainly I being having been a voting rights lawyer for such a long time it feels very natural to me because that’s the way we’ve always worked we’ve always had these very close alliances with Mexican Americans and

Asian Americans in in fighting for voting rights and we’re very often litigating cases together the very first case I litigated in Texas was with LULAC the League of United Latin American citizens and so I’m always seeing frankly this work together and it feels very natural and organic that’s not it doesn’t feel tense actually but that’s not to say that tensions don’t exist I but I see it happening very naturally I think the the you know what I find interesting and and I can’t speak for young people because I you know I have three daughters who were young and so I see their lives and their lives are certainly much more ethnically dynamic than mine was growing up even though I was raised in New York City and went to a very ethnically diverse school and so forth but to me I think it is figuring out how to invest everyone in the idea of you know that future that I think all young people should feel that they can possibly have I mean I think one of the scariest things that’s happening in this country right now is the sense among many young people they’re like it may not happen like I may not get to where I may not get that job I may not be in a situation where I’m solvent you know for most of my adult life I think it’s kind of joining together around a set of principles about what we want this country to be that’s going to create that set of alliances and I think they’re just places and issues around which it already happening and as I said happens actually quite organically in some particular civil right spaces really and has without interruption for decades when I was first you know beginning to even teach in this area and beginning to teach civil rights law and even teaching a seminar and separate reparations which I did for two years you know I always did it with a kind of circle around the whole community you know in the u.s there was always you know we came frankly to african-americans last because I knew that’s what people expected so we did the japanese-american internment we did Native Americans we did international stuff we did you know we came to that last because then it made them have to hold off on what they thought they knew you know so I think that there are ways we can be very intentional about making sure that the gays is not only on African Americans but it really is towards the entire community hi I wanted to ask especially given that half the panel or lawyers / law professors what do you see any possibilities for using the law not just all the policy and conversation and social stuff we’ve been talking about but using the law through litigation etc to try and accomplish anything but but some of this obviously the current Supreme Court is a challenging site for these kinds of issues for all the reasons that you’ve talked about but whether in state courts lower courts etc what are the possibilities in that direction and how do you guys see that yes and yes yes several of my lawyers are right here litigating cases and we don’t lose all of them yeah you know it’s so interesting we people talk all the time about the Supreme Court and and and how conservative they are and and and that is true I I am not actively trying to get any case to this Supreme Court right so that that is not that is not the place of progress for us however I worried less about I worry less about it’s kind of cool and jazzy though I like like in oh you know I worry less about and I say this to to my lawyers all the time I worry less about the current Supreme Court being so conservative and I worry more about whether when the court changes and it will because it always does whether we have anything teed up that’s gonna do what a brown did what what have we been working in the lower courts winning and losing experimenting that when it get that what it changes we’re ready to really move the needle that worries me that keeps me up nights now wearing about Scalia and Thomas and all that because it always does change I remind people all the time that you know Brown vs. Board wasn’t gonna be Brown vs. Board you know until Chief Justice Vincent had a heart attack in between the first and second oral arguments and President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren who nobody expected so you know I’m not wishing ill on anybody on the Supreme Court I really not I’m just saying I’m just saying it changes right and but your job is to be there is to have laid the foundation and have done have created the theory develop the strategy begun that litigation whether it’s in the state

courts or you know where you’re beginning just as as as Marshall and his team did over 20 years they didn’t just wake up and litigate Brown it was 20 years and then the moment was right and then there’s a wave again so that’s what worries me it’s like you know are we in that space where we’re creating that thing so when the moment turns we’re ready to really move do something that’s going to change this country because Brown wasn’t it wasn’t everything but it certainly changed this country thank you I think you all spoke about very interesting points and looking at my challenge is the new generation today lives and I agree with that we forget and I is institutionalized when we think about institutionalized prisons some of these prisons are offering the basic amenities that they can’t find at home so you get three meals and health care in prison so it’s probably a better choice and when all you look at all these things when we have all these young people today who will look up to Kardashian and to all these other role models where you are talking about us giving them a different new option today how do we take this conversation beyond you here and take it and and bring up this new option new face new conversation to the young people so that LeBron James is not only the option that it’s only basketball or it’s only sports but it is good to be intellectual it’s good to out to aspire how do we move that conversation beyond here and and and start bringing up the new the new voice the new young people who can connect to them I just I think kids are right you know trying to you know disrespecting anybody by saying is now should I don’t that we worry about young people but I see very little evidence that this generation is you know look everything right so I have a specific challenge just be really clear about that you know Madison Kazmir is a specific thing you know that you know another generation but adults you know a much much much more worried about the adult and it’s very hard at this point and listen I’m just speaking for myself but at this point after the conversation that you know I’ve been engaged in over the past month or so over reparations to say that you know the conversation is just here I was just down at DC I spoke at two high school graduations for young people in schools and you know Southeast DC Anacostia area folks were very very excited you know it was not you know a bunch of eggheads sitting around and once I got done you know you know what they wanted to talk about they want to talk about reparations as soon as I got done talking so you know right away doesn’t used to be in the cus honest one thing I’m not a statistic about is the well and the intellectual curiosity of young people today I know it’s a different world I know you have Facebook and all these you know little things and you know gadgets and you know people you know 100 channels or 200 or 300 that we didn’t have when I was a kid but you know I can remember being a kid and people say the very same thing about it that’s you know in the very same thing about me and you know I was a big like comic book readers all I wanted to be when I was a kid people saying what are you gonna do with that you know what you gonna be I mean what’s you know I just I just think um while we should be very concerned about our younger I really think we gotta watch that you know i watch ourselves is what I mean you know I just I don’t see much evidence that they’re any less engaged or you know any less intelligent or any less curious than my generation was we have time for one more question I got you right here you see she’s right there I have a question about public policy and intersection of that with economic development because often their address was like separate spheres but I seem pretty connected and I’m a curious says I I write on business and technology and there’s this whole wave of entrepreneurship and efforts to get people to start their own businesses and especially in tech but there’s also a sense that it’s left black people or minority communities behind that they’re not being able to tap into that so I’m curious like if you’ve done any efforts around that or what do you think you could do to address that so that because you mentioned real jobs being an issue and what we can do to build up economic divide I’m really very curious but I don’t have the answer I’m very curious about it actually I mean that Tana javi and I were on a panel and in DC a month or so

ago and you know we were talking about the differential in you know the persistent differential and wealth between whites and blacks right and just you know what happened in 2008 as a result of the housing crisis right which which was that you know what America learned the secret that you know the black people did know which was that middle class status for black people is quite precarious right most black people who purport to be in the middle class are actually like white knuckled middle class they’re holding on like this and it’s and and the loss of three paychecks pretty much does it it’s its salary middle class and the the the lack of accumulated wealth the lack of ability for you know your parents to help you start that business for example to help you get the capital or to co-sign that loan for you to have sufficient credit to help you get that loan for your business and so forth it is to me part of this whole issue of like how we develop an economic engine in our own communities because without the accumulation of wealth I mean we now live in a society where and I fear that this is where we’re headed we do this litigation now around employers using criminal background checks to keep people from employment right you know something that shows up from when you were 18 and it’s 20 years later but it you know we’re also looking at the issue of credit and and using credit checks to keep people from employment right so we’re fast becoming a society in which the people who have credit people who don’t have credit right which might be another way to think about kind of you know how our society is strata strata stratified so the ability to have credit to have wealth is and and again what by wealth I don’t mean rich right I mean just wealth which is the accumulation of something that allows you to make those steps into the business world I think it’s really part of what is harming our ability within our own communities to generate you know biz and independent employment and I’m very kind of curious about how we interface in this area we have an economic justice team and we spend a lot of time talking about like how do we interface in that place to deal with what I see as that ongoing issue it is still true that for you know for white families when their parents pass on they inherit something and when for black families when their parents pass on they they get dead right that there is still this way in which we’re not we’re not developing that cushion that actually allows you to make that step forward everything is just kind of on the day and sometimes 30 days late right everything is everything is you know you’re waiting for that paycheck everything is just kind of right to the day and as we could see from 2008 when 25 percent of African Americans either lost their home to foreclosure ended up in foreclosure proceedings you basically wiped out you know a generation of progress in the middle class so your point is very well taken it’s something that’s very much on my mind I don’t have the answer yet but it’s something I’m quite interested in it’s really quite so I piggyback on the point thing to understand about that is that this is not um as you said this is not like natural soil like the wealth gap it was a bad with money you know it’s not that happened that happened right and I continuing to happen to today the very you know the great example you know why do we live where we live right we have actual housing policy that put black people in certain neighborhoods well when the Aero subprime mortgages came about and folks were looking for people who might be susceptible to take out loans they didn’t just look at credit check they didn’t just look at you know who could you know what downpayment you can make they didn’t just look at you know what you had the bank assets they looked at race and we know this I mean we you know we have you know a barrage of studies that now show they view control for everything folks was specifically looking at race as a way to exploit people why were they doing that because we African Americans are the most segregated community in this country okay if you were looking for a pool new people who are exploitable guess what they all live in like a five block radius right there they’re all like a fish in a belt right there just waiting to be shot you can just go at it made it it made exploitation and may plunder efficient and it was our inability to deal with the past you know to say okay well we’re gonna take down the white only signs now and everything will be okay after that you know it was the the the willingness to you know speak a policy of integration but I actually did a hard worker desegregation and we will continue to pay for that okay so this this wealth gap the show the talk abou talk about african-americans having you know one twentieth or wealth or something like that whatever the number is of white families I had a guy who came into our Atlanta Goff’s is a couple

weeks ago and he showed us a map of a city and you could see where they would have been building affordable housing and all the affordable housing was exactly in the same area where there had been redline and exactly what I have done black you know look nobody’s against affordable house right everybody wants affordable but why are you only building it in one have you what’s that about and what’s the impact on out of people who are living there and trying to build them actively trying to build that well when they alone would have to shoulder the burden it is so this is a policy conversation that it’s ongoing today right now the wealth get it’s not magic you know it’s the exact result that should happen if you look at what what our policy has been towards African American communities so on that note on behalf of the n-double a-c-p Legal Defense Fund and the New America Foundation I want to invite you to continue that conversation over wine and snacks will be in this space for a little while longer but before you do that please join me in thanking our guests you you