2019, in 6 minutes


The Arab Spring blossomed across North
Africa and the Middle East. This award is for those forgotten children who want education. The British people have voted to leave the European Union. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job. No. Well… Tik Tok: ADHD in app form. Old Town Road became the longest-running number-one
single in Billboard’s history. Avengers: Endgame, officially the
highest-grossing movie of all time. The Emmy goes to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The United States of America, champions of the world. Liverpool goal. Trump is now ordering federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid. It’s official: the government shutdown is now the longest in US history. There’s no sense
that there’s any room for the two sides to really find a compromise. Both are digging in. We have Big Macs, we have Quarter Pounders with cheese. We have everything that I like, that you like. The reason we did this is because of the shutdown. We need border security. We have to have it. Despicable living conditions, migrants
left in standing room cells for a week. The United States is running
concentration camps on our southern border. Special counsel Robert Mueller has
delivered his final report. If we had had confidence that the president clearly
did not commit a crime we would have said so. We’re going to impeach the motherf***r President Trump is maintaining
that there was no wrongdoing on his part in his phone call with the president of Ukraine. A history-making headline, the third time in history a sitting US
president impeached. The 2020 presidential race is heating up. Hell yes, we’re gonna
take your AR-15, your AK-47, we’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore. Who can beat Donald Trump? I have not been able to deliver Brexit. India is counting votes for the world’s biggest democratic election. Narendra Modi has swept to a
crushing general election win. Tensions rising between India and Pakistan over
Kashmir. The long-planned Turkish military operation in Northeast Syria has been launched. Chaos in Venezuela. Both the opposition leader and
President Maduro are calling for supporters to protest. We are witnessing a wave of
demonstrations around the world. From the Middle East, to Latin American the Caribbean, from Europe, to Africa and Asia, it is clear that there is a growing deficit of trust between people and political establishments, and rising threats to the social contract. The young can see what’s in store, what’s lurking around the corner. It’s their future. They have every right to fight it. A teenager from
Sweden called the voice of the planet is ready to cross the Atlantic on a mission
to fight climate change. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. never forgive you This is the start of a day of global
climate strikes inspired by teen activist, Greta Thunberg. You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. A new United Nations report warns the
impacts of climate change are increasing and inevitable. An environmental disaster with global implications. The Amazon rainforest is burning at record rates. New Delhi, air pollution is putting the health of millions of people at risk there. …cyclone that has swept across Southern Africa Kerala for a second consecutive year is battling floods in some districts. Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas. We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We can get married in Taiwan. Taiwan will be the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. We are not immune to the
viruses of hate, of fear, of other. We never have been. But we can be the nation that discovers the cure. The answer lies in our humanity. The first man to run a marathon in
under two hours. We are here and we have to do something nurturing that we respect before we go. To love somebody. To take care of somebody. Exactly what I was thinking. To make one other person feel good. And that just seems to make life not just livable, but a gallant, gallant event.

Amy Goodman – Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back | Bioneers


AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Well, it is a great honor
to be here at the Bioneers
Conference with all of you. I just flew in from
San Antonio, Texas this morning. We were
there last night at the Esperanza Center.
The Esperanza Center. Giving hope is what
that center does, and it’s very interesting
to see there, on the one hand, Esperanza bringing together
many cultures, many– well, a cross section of
society in San Antonio. Also, San Antonio is the
home of Clear Channel, the radio network now
also owning TV stations that has over 1200 radio
stations in this country. It is absolutely critical
we have an independent media. The media–[APPLAUSE]
The media are the most powerful institutions
on Earth. More powerful than any
bomb, than any missile. And the Pentagon’s
deployed the media, and we have to
take it back. [APPLAUSE] I’m lucky enough to
have my brother, David Goodman,
my colleague, and I hesitate to use
this term in this day and age, my collaborator but David and I have
written this book, Static: Government Liars, Media
Cheerleaders, and the People who Fight Back. Why the title Static?
Because in this high-tech, digital age with high-
definition television and digital radio, all we
get is ever more static, that veil of lies and mis-
representations and half truths and omissions that
obscure reality when what we need is a
different kind of static. The media should be giving
the Dictionary definition of static, and that is criticism, opposition,
unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power,
not covers for power. We need a media that
is the fourth estate, not for the state.
And we need a media that covers the movements
that create static and make history. [APPLAUSE] So, we’re on this
80-city tour, and I began on
Labor Day weekend in the Cape–
in Cape Cod. The first night we
were in Provincetown, and each place we go,
we try to celebrate the independent media
that is there, do fundraisers to build up
independent media, whether it is radio/television. Democracy Now! started
10 years ago as the only daily election show in
public broadcasting. We were broadcasting on
Pacifica and other community stations, a couple dozen of them,
and that was terrific. Then five years later,
in 2001, right around September 11th, we
expanded to television, and the program has
just taken off. We are now broadcasting
on over 500 radio and television stations
around the country, on Pacifica stations,
increasingly on NPR stations, on Public Access TV stations,
and increasingly PBS TV stations. We’re on low-power FM
and college and community stations. Our headlines are now
translated into Spanish, so we are broadcasting on
scores of stations throughout Latin America,
Europe, and we’re also on college and community stations
through Canada, Australia and Europe, and our audio and video podcast
at DemocracyNow.org Time magazine just called
our podcast, together with Tim Russert’s Meet The Press,
the most popular podcast here. I don’t know how Tim
Russert made it up there. [APPLAUSE] But I think it just is a
testament to the hunger for independent voices.
We’re also broadcasting on both TV satellite networks,
and I’ve already seen both of the networks
represented here. Dish Network’s channel
9415, Free Speech TV, as well as 9410, Link TV,
which is also– Link is also on Direct TV
channel 375. It is absolutely critical we
support this independent media all over the country, and of
course on the Internet, that we protect it from
being privatized, because that is the great
equalizing force that we can communicate with people
all over the world, why net neutrality is
absolutely critical to grassroots globalization.
[APPLAUSE] But the first night,
Labor Day weekend, Friday night we were
in Provincetown celebrating WOMR
Outermost Radio. Then we moved on to
Nantucket on Saturday, an historic island.
It’s the place where Frederick Douglass gave
one of his first addresses against slavery for
abolition. He trembled when he spoke.
His body shook because he was speaking
from his own experience. He had been enslaved as
a child and a teenager. He was born on the Eastern
shore of Maryland. He had been given to
a man, Edward Covey, known as a
slave breaker. The other slave owners gave
their troublesome slaves to him. Edward Covey’s property was
known as Mt. Misery. Well, he almost broke
Frederick Douglass, but Douglass broke away,
headed north, and changed the world.
That property today, Mt. Misery, is owned by
Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense.
[AUDIENCE REACTS] It’s his vacation home.
[LAUGHTER] He bought it in 2003
to be near, just down the road from his good friend
Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s what I was thinking
about in Nantucket. The night before
in Provincetown we were speaking at
Provincetown High School. So we drove up.
It was getting dark, and just as I came to
the steps of the school, I saw there was
a pickup truck, and in the truck bed
was a coffin. There was a couple
standing next to it, Carlos and Melida
Arredondo. And they quickly told me
their story before I went in. Carlos said it was
two years ago, August 25, 2004,
they had moved to Florida. It was his birthday, and he
was home with his mother. Melida was out. And the marine van
pulled up, and he thought, Could it be my son, Alex,
coming home to surprise me from Iraq. But, no. It was the
marines coming to inform him that his son Alex
was dead. He died in the ancient
Iraqi city of Najaf, at the age of 20 years
and 20 days. And Carlos lost his mind. He went into a frenzy. He asked the marines to leave.
They didn’t. He begged them to leave.
They didn’t. He raced into the garage
and he got some cans of gas and a blow torch, and he asked
them to leave again. They didn’t. He went to their
van and he started to wreck it. He poured gasoline inside.
He was ripping it up. His mother ran out to try
to pull him out of the van and that triggered
the blow torch and everything blew up,
at which point Melida, his wife, pulled up and
found her husband burning on the lawn. And that’s how she learned
that her stepson, Alex, was dead. Soon after that, their son,
their younger son, Brian, 17 years old,
called up to wish his dad a happy birthday,
and someone picked up the phone and he heard the commotion
and someone said something about the press being there,
and he turned on the television. He’d been in summer
vacation in Maine, and that’s where he saw his father
burning on national television, and that’s how he learned
that his older brother, Alex, who he loved, emulated,
wanted to be like, was dead. No judgment. Just one story
in a time of war. Carlos, then, had to heal. He was burned on over
a quarter of his body. But the physical healing,
that was the easy part. It’s the psychic healing,
the emotional healing, that he is continuing
to go through. But a year later,
in August of 2005, when Cindy Sheehan
went to Crawford, that’s when Carlos
found his voice. Cindy Sheehan –
she gives the speech at the Veterans for Peace
Convention in Dallas on August 5, 2005. And spontaneously, she says
she can’t enjoy another vacation because her son Casey died
in Iraq in Sadr City, Baghdad in April 4, 2004,
4/04/04, she says. And so she announced
she would head to Crawford the next morning,
to the presidential estate, because she had a question
for the president. For what noble cause
did my son die? And she said she didn’t
really know where Crawford was, but she was in Texas,
how far could it be? [LAUGHTER] So the next morning,
she headed to Crawford with a little caravan of vets,
and she took up residence in the ditch outside
the presidential estate. We won’t call it a ranch,
beause it isn’t. And she just kept
demanding an hour of the president’s time. Now the White House
Press Corps was there, not exactly known
for its independence but they follow the
president everywhere, and, well, the White House
Press Corps is used to enjoying the
access of evil, that’s trading
truth for access. [LAUGHTER] But beware of even
this embedded press corps, when the president is on
one of the longest vacations in presidential history,
and they are there day after day in
the Texas heat – 110-degree day
after 110-degree day – and they’re not getting
much of the access they usually enjoy, but finally they did get to
ask the president this question. It shows the power
of the media, when they actually
ask the question, because they do
have this access. And they asked the president,
Why won’t you meet with this grieving mother? And he responded. He said, I have to get
on with my life too. [AUDIENCE RESPONDS] And the Atlanta Journal
Constitution reported that day that president Bush
went mountain bike riding for two hours.
He went fishing. He napped. He took in a
Little League luncheon, Apparently he did
some reading. [LAUGHTER] But he didn’t have time- He didn’t have time
for Cindy Sheehan. And so she just
kept at it. Relentless. Persistent. And the Press
Corps said to her, Why haven’t you
spoken out before? You’re so articulate.
You’re so eloquent. And she said,
I have been speaking out. You just haven’t
been listening. Now, if you are a
regular listener to or watcher of
Democracy Now! How many of you
listen or watch? [APPLAUSE] Well, that is
fantastic to hear, and also, by the way,
a shout out to the 16 different places
right now, all over the country,
that are broadcasting the Bioneers Conference. And congratulations to
Bioneers reaching out. [APPLAUSE] But if you are a
regular viewer/listener you certainly had
heard Cindy Sheehan before. We saw her, for example,
when Democracy Now! headed down to
Washington, DC for the inauguration
of President Bush in January of 2005. Those were cold, nasty
days in Washington. I’m talking about
the weather. This is an
environmental conference. [LAUGHTER] And Cindy was there. She was there,
along with Celeste Zappala, she lost her son,
Sherwood Baker, first Pennsylvania National
Guardsmen to die since World War II. And together, they
and some other people, founded Gold Star
Families for Peace. And they called ahead
to the Pentagon. They wanted to meet
with Donald Rumsfeld, but he didn’t get
back to them. The Pentagon didn’t respond,
so they decided to make a pilgrimage
to the Pentagon. They were stopped at
the Pentagon parking lot. Were they met by
an envoy saying the secretary wasn’t available, but did
they have a message for him? Or perhaps invited in
to the Pentagon for some hot cider, for some comfort? These are mourning mothers. No, they were met at
the Pentagon parking lot by the black clad
Pentagon security, and they were turned
back at gunpoint. Well, beware of mothers
who have nothing left to lose. [APPLAUSE] And so a few months later,
Cindy Sheehan headed to Crawford, and she became a
magnet for so many, for hundreds, for
thousands of people. One of those people
was Nadia McCaffrey. Nadia McCaffrey comes
from outside of Sacramento, and her son was
named Patrick, Patrick McCaffrey. And after 9/11,
he just felt he wanted to give back
to this country. Had the perfect life,
wife and two kids, and he signed up,
in case of an attack on this country. In case
of a natural catastrophe, he wanted to be
there to serve. And then he was called
up to go to Iraq, and he didn’t
get the connection. He wanted to
protect this country. What did that have to do
with going to Iraq? He sat with his mother.
They talked for hours. She didn’t want him to go. Ultimately, he decided he
should be there with his buddies to protect them.
He didn’t want to desert them. And he went to Iraq. Now, I come from New York,
and my governor is George Pataki, and he visited Iraq and
he came back and he said he wants to take a piece
of the statue of Saddam Hussein and embed it into the foundation
of a new World Trade Center. If he does that, that will
be the first proven link between 9/11 and Iraq.
[LAUGHTER] So, Patrick goes to Iraq
and he writes home for deflated soccer balls and
candy for the Iraqi kids. Ultimately, he is killed there.
And when his casket was sent back, Nadia
engaged in a defiant act. She invited the press corps
to Sacramento International Airport. She told the photographers
she wanted them to film. She told the filmmakers
and the videographers to turn those cameras on. Now why is this defiant? Because President Bush
invoked that executive order that says you can’t film,
videotape or photograph the flag-draped coffins
of soldiers coming home. She said, “Snap away.
Please film. My son didn’t go to Iraq in darkness. I don’t want him coming
home in darkness.” That’s how she chose
to memorialize her son. Nadia is here today. Nadia would you stand up?
[APPLAUSE] And so that’s what Nadia did.
And she told me just now — I haven’t seen her for
quite a while since I have been
interviewing her — she told me just now that
she is trying to set up a forum in North Carolina
to help soldiers coming home who have been injured,
who are wounded, that they have a
place to recover. Nadia, after…
[APPLAUSE] after this, after she
invited the press, many months later,
she headed to Crawford. And then there was Patricia
Roberts in Georgia. She lost her son
Jamaal Addison. He was, I think, the first
Georgia National Guardsman to die since World War II. And she set up a fund
for him because, she said she wants African American
kids to know that they could go to college without
detouring through Iraq. [APPLAUSE] And she headed-
she headed to Crawford. And then there’s
Becky Lourey. She’s the state
senator for Minnesota. I learned about her two
Memorial Day weekends ago. I was driving through
Minnesota, Minneapolis, headed to Northland College
to give the commencement address in Ashland, Wisconsin,
and I picked up a copy of the Pioneer Press, and
there was a headline that said, Death In The Family.
And it was about Becky Lourey. She’s a state senator who
introduced an anti-war resolution before the invasion. She confronted Donald Rumsfeld
at a national conference of state legislators,
demanding to know about the no-bid Halliburton contracts
that were doing no good for the soldiers in Iraq. But that’s not what this
article was about. It was the about the
fact that her son, Matt, died two Memorial Day
weekends ago in Iraq. And she headed to Crawford. And Becky said, With
our children dying, who will be the future
leaders of this country? Well, I think, Nadia and Becky,
Cindy and Patricia, these are the future
leaders of this country. [APPLAUSE] And so, by this
process of people coming, the presidential estate,
this town, Crawford, will forever be known
as Cindy’s Crawford. [LAUGHTER] But let me get back to
Carlos and Melida Arredondo. After Cindy went to Crawford,
Carlos found his voice. He decided to take a
coffin around the country, sometimes miniature, sometimes
large, full size. He brought it to
Waco and Crawford. I learned last night he’d
been in San Antonio. He took it across
the Capitol Hill, spoke with Congress members. I saw him in Provincetown.
It’s amazing. Labor Day weekend, last bash,
people going back to work and school and there’s this
coffin coming down Main Street. It stops everyone. He says, if the war
doesn’t go on vacation, neither do I. And they showed me
these letters. They have loose-leaf notebooks
filled with documents. And one of them is, well,
Brian, their younger son is being aggressively
recruited to go to Iraq. And the letter says,
Dear American, and that’s interesting,
because Carlos is not an American citizen.
He comes from Costa Rica where they don’t
have an army. He wants to be an
American citizen, but somehow he hasn’t
merited it yet. He has applied. It’s not
as if he hasn’t given the greatest sacrifice
an American could give, more than his own life,
the life of his child. But he hasn’t gotten it yet. And the letter starts by
saying that you can serve your country in times
like Hurricane Katrina. Now that’s pretty astounding,
given that last year, we’re just past the first
anniversary of the drowning of an American city. How is it that possible
that this happened in the 21st Century? And you think about more than
1500 people in New Orleans died. Would anywhere near that number
have perished if the National Guard weren’t deployed to Iraq?
[APPLAUSE] But let’s look at that
moment last year. Make no mistake about it. President Bush was
fully briefed. Yes, he was at his vacation
home in Crawford, but he was video
conference briefed. They told him this
could be the big one. This could be the one
they all feared. This could be the one
that wipes out this American city. This could be the greatest natural
catastrophe our country has seen. Now, you can never absolutely
predict with these ever-more powerful hurricanes –
global warming, global warming – but you
can never absolutely predict. But what is leadership? It is preparing for the worst
and hoping for the best. What did President Bush do? He left Crawford. Did he go to Washington
or Florida or somewhere near New Orleans to be in
charge and command and control. No, he came here,
to California, and he did allow these
pictures to be taken, pictures of him riffing on
the guitar of the country music star Mark Wills,
whose signature song is Wish You Were Here. Could have been the theme
song of the people of New Orleans. And then he flew
back to Crawford. And it wasn’t only him. In Salt Lake City,
I was just there, we were celebrating KRCL
radio, and, well, let’s look at Dick Cheney. He was in Wyoming, and he
didn’t leave when the hurricane hit, when the levees broke. And when I was at KRCL,
celebrating this community radio station, a young man
came up to me afterwards, we were signing books–
and by the way I’ll be signing in the lobby.
We’ll be signing Static, and just on the point of books,
a little lesson in corporate publishing is when books like these make it,
it makes room for other books. There are so many people
in this country who are hungry for information. The book has hit number eight
on the New York Times political best-seller list.
[APPLAUSE] And it hit something like
20 on the overall New York Times
non-fiction list. If it hits 15, it’s
published in the pages of the Times.
And why does it matter? Well, unlike Lafayette
Books that’s here, an independent bookstore, and we
celebrate independent bookstores all over this country, a lot
of them just stock the bestsellers, and good people go into
those bookstores looking for something different. And so it’s very important
that every time a book like this makes it,
another book will make it. If you buy two books–
think about the holidays– we have wonderful
DVDs out there. We have DVDs of Harry
Bellefonte on Democracy Now!, DVDs of Pete Sieger
on Democracy Now!, and also give them to libraries,
these under-resourced national treasures that also need to be supported.
[APPLAUSE] But since I have no time,
I’m going to speak very quickly. In Salt Lake City, this guy
came up afterwards to sign his book, and he said he worked in
a sushi shop in Jackson, Wyoming and he was absolutely shocked that
here he was watching the drowning of New Orleans on TV. All of them were.
All the workers in the restaurant,
and yet Airforce II remained outside — that’s
Cheney’s plane — and they shared a wall with the
Secret Service, and they weren’t leaving.
And they were shocked. He said his daughter was
coming in for orders, Cheney’s daughter. They could
not believe the vice president didn’t leave. And it was
not only the vice president, it was Condoleezza Rice
was in New York, my city, doing some high-end
shoe shopping at Ferragamo, and a customer said to her,
what are you doing shopping when people are dropping
in New Orleans? And they took her out,
the customer, that is. And then there was Andrew Card. Andrew Card is the GM lobbyist
who was the chief of staff at the time. He’s vacationing in New England.
The General Motors lobbyist, right. What we see in Washington is
the ascendancy of the oilygarchy. You have President Bush,
a failed oil man, Dick Cheney, former head of
the largest oil services corporation in the world, Halliburton, you’ve got Condoleezza Rice,
sat on the board of Chevron, headquartered just down the road,
actually had an oil tanker named after her –
the Condoleezza Rice – Andrew Card, the GM lobbyist. Is it any surprise they’re
thirsty for oil, that foreign policy is being determined by that
thirst from Iraq to Venezuela? We need a media that
brings us the truth. But let me say that a side
effect of the Bush administration not responding was that when
the corporate media did the right thing, they went to New Orleans,
there were no troops to embed with, and what we saw unfold
was astounding. We saw, perhaps for one
of the first times, the corporate media reporting
from the victim’s perspective, and it shocked the nation. You’d see bodies floating by. Then the Bush administration
leaped into action and says, you will not film the bodies,
to which the editor of the Times, Vicky Jung, said, you
have got to be kidding. And then you saw a
young woman reporter interviewing a man who
just walked up in the water, said he’d been in the
attic with his wife. As her hand slipped out of his,
she said, take care of the children. He was holding his boy. He told the reporter the story,
turned around and walked off in shock into the water. And this young reporter
started to cry. That’s reporting from
the victim’s perspective. That is ground zero reporting,
and it galvanized the nation. It didn’t matter if you
were conservative Republican or a Democrat or an
Independent or a Green, a Progressive,
it was irrelevant. The differences washed away. It was humanity
responding to humanity. Could you imagine if for
just one week in Iraq we saw those babies
dead on the ground, we saw the women with
their legs blown off from cluster bombs
from Iraq to Lebanon, we saw the soldiers
dead and dying? For just one week. Americans are a
compassionate people. They would say, No.
War is not the answer to conflict in
the 21st Century. [APPLAUSE] The red light is flashing,
and I just have one more quick story to tell. And it’s a T-shirt story. It’s the story of Raed Jarrar,
an Iraqi architect, a blogger, who now lives
in this country, and he was headed on a
plane from New York City to San Francisco, here,
where he lived. It was just a few weeks ago. And he was getting
on Jet Blue. He thought he was
until he was surrounded by four transportation officials
– two Jet Blue employees and two TSA, and they
told him he couldn’t get on the plane if he
was going to wear this T-shirt. You know how when you
wake up in the morning, you throw something on?
You don’t remember quite what you’re wearing? He said,
What’s wrong with my T-shirt? They said they thought
it was threatening. He was wearing a black T-shirt
with white letters that said We Will Not Be Silent. He said, What’s threatening
about that? They said, It’s not the English,
it’s the Arabic script above it. And he said, That’s just Arabic
for We Will Not Be Silent. And they said, We can’t know that,
we don’t have a translator here. [LAUGHTER] And so, he said, Are you saying
Arabic is a terrorist language? And they said, Wearing a T-shirt
with Arabic script onto an American plane today is like
walking into a bank with a T-shirt that says
I am a robber. So he argued with them. He said he had his rights.
He was a taxpayer and this violated his rights. But anyway,
according to the TSA, we called them, it was
the Jet Blue employee who went and got
him a T-shirt. I don’t know if it said
New York or I Love New York [LAUGHTER] but he was forced
to put it on. And then they take him
onto the plane. He had reserved the front-
a seat in the front; they put him on before
all the other passengers, and they escorted him
to the back of the bus, I mean, plane.
[LAUGHTER] And then they brought all
the other passengers on, and that’s how he
flew to San Francisco. Well, we ran with the story
a few days later, and the next day, some women
came into our studio all wearing this T-shirt.
And they were in a rush. And I asked them,
Where are you going? And they said, We’re
headed to the airport. [LAUGHTER]
[APPLAUSE] And I asked them where they would be going and
they said, Didn’t matter, they’re just getting on planes.
[LAUGHTER] So, anyway, this story,
then, went big, and all the networks
picked it up, which is highly unusual.
I mean, in this country, we live in a
globalized world, and yet we are so
isolated when it comes to information in
the United States. But they did go
with this story, and they did, well,
they didn’t credit us, but that’s okay,
because at Democracy Now! our motto is:
Steal This Story, Please! We call it trickle-up journalism.
[LAUGHTER] Oh, by the way, I’m
starting a column this week. It’s being syndicated
by King Features. It’s called the same
thing as our tour: Breaking the Sound Barrier, and you can ask any newspaper
in the country to run the weekly column as we reach
into the mainstream, because the mainstream is here
in this room, and it’s all over this country. Most people in this country
are opposed to war, and one of the things I want
to say is that we are now also apparently broadcasting
in Logan, Utah. Hello, you folks out there! And hello to
Sergeant Marshall Thompson, whose father was the
mayor of Logan, Utah. Utah, the reddest state
in the country, Sergeant Marshall Thompson
came back from Iraq and he’s walking with
his wife across Utah because he deeply believes
what’s going on in Iraq is wrong. A big untold story is the
level of resistance in the military from the bottom to the top.
But [APPLAUSE] let me finish. Let me finish with this story.
[LAUGHTER] When these women came back
from high-flying– from challenging high-filing
profiling, we had one of them on. Her name was Laurie Arbeiter,
and she was wearing this T-shirt when she came
on the show. She’d given Raed the T-shirt.
They started on April 20th, on March 20th, on the
third anniversary of the invasion, giving out these T-shirts. Can you believe, it’s 3 1/2
years since the invasion? We’ve been in Iraq
since the invasion, longer than the US was
involved in World War II. So this is their act,
Artists Against the War, giving out these T-shirts, and now since the
story went big, there are thousands of people
who are ordering these T-shirts at [email protected],
and they’re translating them into many languages –
Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and now
the original German. Why German? Well, it goes
back to World War II, and the White Rose Collective. A brother and sister named
Hans and Sophie Scholl. They, together with other professors
and students in Germany, wanted to do something.
They weren’t Jewish. They were German Christians. And they thought the best they
could do was give out information. And so they started to make
a series of pamphlets so that the Germans could
never say we didn’t know. They did six in all. The fourth said at the bottom,
We will not be silent. They were captured. They were arrested
by the Nazis, Hans and Sophie and other
members of the collective. They were tried.
They were found guilty. And they were beheaded. But that philosophy,
that motto, should be the Hippocratic
oath of the media today. We will not be silent. Democracy Now! [CHEERS]

Veterans And Peace Activists Seek To Find Common Ground


Kids… killed kids. It’s not fun, and so desensitizes what we have to do because that is our job. It’s a job.>>Against that wall, with the ‘X’ on it, can I have all my veterans? The other wall, on this side, I’m gonna have all my peace activists.>>The military brainwashes its soldiers.>>Veteran: (quietly) How?>>Oh, wow. Um, I don’t think the natural inclination for a human being is to want to kill another human being. There is a necessary requirement in the military to get you to perform a certain action. And in order for that action to occur, it is my theory, that there is a part of changing the way that you think, in order to take somebody from a human being and make it a target so that you can achieve a goal. They had asked are the military Desensitizing soldiers are they Manipulating them mentally and I would have walked over. I would have Brainwashed we chose it. Well. I don’t know man It’s just like I even watch like the advertisements for the military And it just seems to me the one thing you brought up was was killing It’s no no one wants to do. I know. I don’t want to do. I know I didn’t want to flips you yes He was use the words desensitized. We’re desensitizes and so because we have to we have to move on I just think that that’s kind of my point though in order to get from that spot where you don’t want to kill another human Being to where you look at it as this is just my job, but it’s a choice. Yeah, it’s not brainwashed It really just comes down to either that guy at the end of your muzzle Or you and I want to come back home to my family Okay Yeah, this is a tough one I think that there’s a point between a just war and An unjust war there are certain wars that? You know, maybe we should have gone into it like maybe we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq Right and then there’s certain wars where World War two You know where Hitler was Advancing to pull in I think that’s definitely a just war to get into I mean he was trying to kill Jewish people yeah And in that case you could call it a necessary evil There is a time that that necessary evil has to happen and in that you don’t even maybe call it a necessary evil It’s just a necessity the action itself has to take place As long as we leave this on the table at war is a necessary evil it really just excuses almost all You know all wars because if it’s six – what’s excusable right when does it become necessary? If you really want to see a peaceful world you have to just get rid of that because the key word there is it necessary Necessary I don’t believe that I don’t believe it’s necessary that it’s the only way for to you to obtain your objective is war Do you I thought you were disagreeing with the evil no no no, I mean well. Yeah war is not evil I mean not yeah, it’s not Have you ever had an argument, but you had good intentions? Right so yeah to speak on the word evil. I don’t really agree that war equals evil as well Probable maybe not possible Yes, yeah When you get humans together and find a way to find common ground to find the similarities rather than the differences That’s when you have a possibility At peace and I believe that it is something that is possible on a grand scale is it easy Maybe not but it is possible World peace I want that to happen of course But it’s so much easier said than done I think because just the way that we were taught you know we all want world peace But let’s say a culture in Africa thinks that genital mutilation is perfectly fine Are we going to be perfectly fine with that are we going to be able to talk them out of it? I don’t really think we are because they have their own customs their own cultures So the only way we can kind of get them to accept our culture. Is there is some sort of violence That’s dangerous. I do believe that the Quantum of people that would prefer peace to conflict is growing and that’s what gives me hope So if it meant if I died the world would be at peace oh Yeah Look I’ve I’ve had some amazing adventures on planet earth I’ve had the greatest of friends the greatest of family seen the best concerts seen some beautiful places if it meant that That happened for this place to be a-ok groovy do it right now. I had a good run I got 35 years with more than a lot I’ve got more than twice yeah, those ears But more importantly I have two grandchildren and a third one on the way, yeah and and really I had to think about it, but if I could do that and bring them world peace let alone all the Lexi’s and Charlie’s around the world that’s easy and like life is so beautiful, but for me I believe there is a life after my life, and there are many lifetimes. Yeah, if I had to die for world peace me versus 7 billion human beings Question I initially when I heard the question. I thought man What a dumb question and then Steve your answer actually really made me think yeah Well actually elicited like a really beautiful response. Are you talking about your grandchildren you know and then I’m Like I’ll think a little bit more about this question And I realized you know what if I say I’m willing to die for peace. Oh gosh. What’s the last time? I did anything to actually promote peace. Oh, I’d be a claw I’d be a really full of shit if I said that I would be willing to die for peace I wouldn’t be able. Do you even take the most basic steps towards actually contributing something, but those basic those basic steps totally matter But also living a life of purpose is a life That’s lived a moment to moment to moment so simply you by being you you affect people like yeah you seem I only met you for what half an hour 45 minutes You got a good head on your shoulders and wherever you go you leave an imprint And that’s true for all of us. I mean don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to die, and I’d rather do those things I I’m in a I’m in a peace group that has met every Friday morning since 9/11 16 years for two hours every Friday to work on these issues So I think really if we I sometimes say a dollar a day and an hour a day Yeah, I know a lot of I mean not like tons of people was you know dozen or so people with that my closest friend To kill was killed was his name is Chris domain and he had a wife and kids it was is Pretty sad I’ve deployed seven times now, and I’m scheduled to go back out in March For my eighth back to Afghanistan, but uh I think there was probably one or two deployments where we didn’t Lose someone. I don’t know if it’s appropriate what taps into your Courage to keep going back in the face of losing these guys. Yeah, it’s a For me. It’s not only just a job when I say job. I think of family I think of putting food on the table roof over the head of my family and then Second to that or pretty much tied for first is the guys next to you you know Which eyes go out here in LA and really? They have a future in college or anything just we’ve got poor and homeless at some points But uh join the military I want to serve my country and really just have some stable and has it evolved It was now’s like this big family. You’re part of you’re part of something that’s bigger, and I don’t mind deploying because I know I’m with family I Think I’m blessed that I don’t know anybody who’s died in combat so I mean yeah I don’t understand what you guys have been through but I applaud you all of you guys for Like you said putting food on the table cuz in my head. I was like. There’s so many jobs out there. Why this one When you’re when you’re a soldier, you’re you’re making a sacrifice, so thank you You’re welcome Yeah, you know I mean I think and I think as Americans we appreciate anybody who makes a significant sacrifice Its kind of the ultimate sacrifice So Thank you for checking out that video much appreciation We get to do what we love because you all watch our videos So if you really love us you’ll continue to keep watching videos There’s more right here that you can check out you probably haven’t seen all of them And if you really want to just commit to us you can subscribe right here. I’ll be around I’ll be at the end of some more videos, and I will keep in touch peace You

Tim Wise: “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” | Talks at Google


FEMALE SPEAKER: Hi everyone. Thanks so much for
coming today. I’m very pleased to welcome
Time Wise to Google today. Tim is an American anti-racism
activist and writer. He’s the author of six books,
including the highly acclaimed memoir “White Like Me,
Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” His next book
“The Culture of Cruelty, How America’s Elite Demonize the
Poor, Valorize the Rich and Jeopardize the Future,” will
be released in winter 2014. Please join me in welcoming
him to talk to us today. TIM WISE: Thank you very
much for coming. I’m particularly grateful
that you’re here. Because even though I’ve done
this for a very long time, and now about 24 years of doing
anti-racism work of some sort or civil rights work of some
sort and about 18 of those on the road speaking to folks
around the country. You never really know when
somebody asks you to come in and talk– whether it’s at a
company or whether it’s at a college or a high school or
occasionally a middle school or community group, wherever
it is I go– who’s going to show up. How many people are
going to show up. How much interest there is
in the conversation. One of the reasons in particular
you don’t know that nowadays, maybe even more so
than when I began this work so long ago, is that in just about
every sense, all the other voices in the culture– at
least the majority of them, if not all– seem to be telling you in a
lot of different ways that this kind of conversation
really isn’t necessary. That we really don’t have
to have this talk. That we don’t have to address
issues of race or racial equity in the workplace or in
the school system or the justice system or the housing
market or anywhere else. Because to hear those voices
tell it– and again, you’ll hear this echoed through
the media. You’ll hear this echoed
through the words of politicians and talking heads
all around the country. We’re living in this–
presumably, in their mind– sort of post-racial era where
these conversations, though they were very, very important
a while back, they’re now, like, so 1965 or something. Or maybe even 1995, if
we’re being generous. Or maybe even 2007, if we’re
being really generous, right? But now that we’re in this
post-racial era symbolized, of course, first and foremost by
the election not once but twice of a man of color as
president, you don’t have to have this conversation. I don’t need to give it. You don’t need to hear it. In fact, I remember immediately
after President Obama was elected the first
time, I opened my email the next day and knew there would
be all kinds of wonderful, lovely things that people
would have to say to me. And one of them was especially
pertinent to this conversation. It was all capital letters. So you know you’re dealing
with crazy when it’s all capital letters and they’re
e-screaming at you, as if I wouldn’t have known they were
pissed if they had taken the caps lock off. And the email was something to
the effect of saying, well now, you’re going to have to
find a new hustle, right? Because that’s clearly what
fighting racism is, is just a big hustle to make a lot of
money and get very famous. Because that is exactly what
you would do if you were sitting in a dorm room at the
age of 19 thinking to yourself, what the hell would I
do if I wanted to get really rich and really famous? Oh, I would fight
white supremacy. Because that always
works out well. So anyway, it said, you should
get a new hustle. Because now that Barack Obama
has been elected, clearly we don’t have to have this
conversation anymore. Racism is dead. And you’re going to have to find
some other line of work. Now, if that were only one
voice and an angry email saying that and the day after
an election, then maybe I wouldn’t have taken it very
seriously, just like I don’t take most of the emails that I
receive all that seriously. But unfortunately, that mantra
was repeated, usually in a lot more erudite way than that. Without the capital letters. Without the electronic
or real screaming. But by people oftentimes very
well intended and quite sincere in their belief that
we’re living in this sort of post-racial era where this
conversation is not important. Of course, if we just think
about it for maybe two seconds, we can recognize, I
hope, almost immediately why the notion of post-raciality
is absurd. At least if the only evidence
you have for it is the election of a black
man as President of the United States. If you have other evidence,
feel free to present it. But if that’s the sum total of
your evidence– if that’s exhibit one and two and three
through seven, then you’re probably not a very
firm ground. Anymore so than we would have
been on firm ground if someone were to have said, let’s say, in
Pakistan in 1989, the year after Benazir Bhutto, a woman,
was first elected president of that country, that
sexism was no longer an issue in Pakistan. Patriarchy has been smashed. And this we know, because
a woman is the head of state in Pakistan. Or when Margaret Thatcher was
elected in Great Britain. Or when Indira Gandhi was
elected in India. Or Golda Meir in Israel. Or Corazon Aquino in
the Philippines. So in all of these countries–
you can probably think of others– there have been
female heads of state. We still haven’t had one. So if I were to suggest, for
instance, to my two daughters, who are 12 and 10, that what
they probably really ought to do if they want equal
opportunity as women is pack up their bags and move to
Karachi, my guess is that even the 10-year-old, who has no idea
where the hell Karachi is, would know that the odds
were that wasn’t a good bet. Just because a woman had been
the head of state in Pakistan did not mean that other women
were going to, therefore, have equal opportunity. So we wouldn’t make the argument
about sexism in those countries just because they’ve
had female heads of state. And I would hope that we would
be able to see through the argument about race as it
relates to this country. But it’s very easy to get sucked
into that rhetoric of post-raciality. And I think maybe it’s more than
ever possible in a place like Silicon Valley, where more
so than just about any other sort of industrial
area of America, both geographically and historically,
there is this very widely accepted mythology
that this, more so than any other part of the American
economy and any other part of the geography of the country,
is this pure meritocracy. All those other industries,
no. They’re not really
meritocratic. We know that there are
networks and there’s clubbiness and there’s cultures
that get sort of reestablished and resurrected
and passed on, but not here. There’s no such thing as
clubbiness or insider advantages or networks, or even
a criteria that might itself not be all that meritocratic in Silicon Valley. Well, the smirks on some your
faces at least suggest to me that you’ve thought through this
a minute and realize that some of that rhetoric
is quite well sold but quite a bit overblown. Because ultimately, at the end
of the day, we do have to ask ourselves one very
simple question. When people tell us that this
industry or that industry or that this country or the
overall economy or this particular company is
meritocratic, it then begs the question, right? That if in fact this company
and the larger part of the economy that it represents and
of which it is a part is truly meritocratic, then you would
have to really ask yourself some hard questions about what
that means in terms of who possesses merit in this country
and who doesn’t. Because if you have an entire
area, both of the economy and a geographic region, this being
the Silicon Valley where only about 6% of all the
employees in the various firms and companies here are black and
Latino, and you believe at the same time that this is a
pure meritocracy as a part of the economy, then you would have
to actually come to some very racist conclusions almost
by definition, right? You would have to conclude
that only 6% of the best people are represented by
African American and Latino folk who collectively, in
the country, represent approximately 30% of the
population and in this state, quite a bit more than that. You would have to assume
that there was this real dearth of ability. This real dearth of merit. This real dearth of interest in
having jobs in the growing part of the economy. As if somehow black and brown
folks would prefer to stay in embedded in parts of the economy
that are rapidly dying and leave all the really great
jobs disproportionately to those who were white and of
course, on a gender level and sex level, those
who were male. You would also have to assume
some very sexist things. If you really buy into the
notion of Silicon Valley as a pure meritocracy, you would have
to assume that men are just that much damn smarter. And just that much better at
doing certain types of jobs. Now, there may or may not
be evidence for that. And you may believe there is. But certainly not to the
extent we see the disproportionalities in not
only this sector of the economy, but in old sectors
of the economy like manufacturing, where the same
kind of thing was true. Is it really true that women
were only 1%, 1 and 1/2%, 2% of the people qualified for jobs
in the old quote unquote economy in certain companies,
firms, or industries. Well, probably not. But if you’re going to accept
that premise, understand where it leads you as we try to have
these conversations. If you’re going to assume that
Silicon Valley or that Google itself as an entity is a pure
meritocracy, you would have to assume not only some very racist
and sexist things about certain folks, which would then,
it seems to me, have an impact on how you perceive even
your co-workers who are women or who are people
of color, right? Because if I actually look at
people and think they’re part of a culture or group of people
that are in general not as good, that are in general
not as qualified, how do I really relate to the one or two
that I actually work with? Or the five or six that I
see on a regular basis? How do I subdivide my
brain into the part that says, oh, no. This person’s just as good
as anybody else. But the group they’re from
is really screwed up. Is that actually something
the human brain is capable of doing? Saying on the one hand that
I believe this group to be superior to this group, this
group to be harder working, this group to be more
innovative, this group to be better for this particular kind
of job, but there are a handful of y’all that are OK and
I’ll be able to keep that in mind as I work with
you on a daily basis. And the psychological research
says that’s not likely. So in fact, if we buy into the
stereotypes, we’re likely to perpetuate the very culture
that maintains those inequalities, even if we don’t
necessarily intend to do it. So how would we know if
we were a meritocracy? How would we know if racism were
operating in a company or in an industry? How would we know
if sexism were? Well, those seem like obvious
questions, but they don’t really have obvious answers. Because when you ask them, how
would you know if racism was operating, you ask a hundred
people that, you’re going to have a lot of different
answers. One thing we know from history
is that if you’re really wanting to figure out if racism
is operating, the first thing you don’t want to do– as
a general rule, with some exceptions– is ask
white people. Just being perfectly honest. Just like if you want to know
if sexism is operating, you wouldn’t start by asking men. Just wouldn’t make sense. If you wanted to know if an
industry or a company were discriminatory toward those
with disabilities, right? On the basis of ablism, you
wouldn’t ask the able-bodied. Because when you’re a member of
a dominant group, whatever that is– whether it’s race,
gender, sex, class, sexuality, religion, educational
background, or whatever it might be– those individuals who are
members of dominant groups– and we’re all, in just about
every case, members of at least one or two. Everyone I see in this room
has probably got a mix of identities. Some of which make you a
dominant group in certain categories. Others of which make you a
subordinate or potentially targeted group for
mistreatment and discrimination on the other. When you’re dominant, why would
you be expected to know what other people who
are not experience? It would be sort of irrational,
wouldn’t it, for me as a man to actually have a
keen insight into what women experience in terms of sexism. Now, I might know. I might know. And if I do, it’s probably
because I listened to a woman describe her reality and decided
to assume she was actually sane and not
overwrought, not overemotional, not hormonal. Because apparently a lot of
guys think only women have hormones, which is
fascinating. Testosterone does
nothing to us. Estrogen is a killer. It’ll totally jack you up. Men would not be the ones
for whom you would seek information and insight
about sexism. Not because they can’t know, but
the odds are, that’s not going to be your best bet. Same thing with race and
asking white folks. Or going to white folks are
asking them, do you think there’s racism in
Silicon Valley? Well it seems to me it would
make more sense to start by asking people of color about
their own experiences. And they’re not all going to
have the same opinion on that, by the way. They’re not all going to have
the very same experiences. But in general, it’s probably
a safe bet to say that if we want to know if a problem
exists, the people to whom you would first turn are the people
who were most likely to have to know the answer to that
question as a matter of daily survival. If I want to know if racial
profiling happens in New York, I don’t ask people
on Wall Street. Because even though they might
need to be racially profiled based on their own past
criminal endeavors and activities that have helped to
tank the economy in the last six years, we know they’re
not going to be. And if they spend their entire
time in Battery Park and they spend their entire time on Wall
Street going to really nice restaurants where the NYPD
never bothers them, and you ask them if that’s
happening, they’re probably not going to see it. And here’s the thing. They’re not going to see it even
if they’re good people. And in fact, I’ll go so far as
to say, they’re not going to see it precisely because they’re
such good people in many cases. And I mean that seriously. Like most people, I
think, are good. Most folks don’t want
to oppress others. Most men don’t actually wake up
in the morning seeking to marginalize women. But we manage to do it even
though we didn’t wake up with that goal. White folks don’t wake up with
the goal of reinscribing white supremacy every single day and
subordinating people of color. But the evidence as we manage
to pull that off even if it wasn’t our intention. Why? Because when you’re a good
person, when you have all the right sort of ideas and
ideologies and ways of thinking and you think you’re
very open minded, it’s oftentimes that precise person
who’s the most dangerous. Because it’s that person who
doesn’t want to look at the ugly, right? And by that I mean, who doesn’t
want to look at the injustice that might be in their
community, whether it’s at a company or whether it’s at
the school or whether it’s in a neighborhood or whether
it’s some private club to which you belong. Because if you’re a good,
caring, compassionate person, you look at the ugly and
then you realize you’re on the hook. You actually have to do
something about that. Because you’re a good person,
now you feel like crap. If you were a sociopath, this
wouldn’t be a problem, right? And the good news is– and there
is some– we’re mostly not sociopaths. So make sure to write
that down. Tweet that. Whatever you need to do. It’s like, we’re not mostly
sociopathic, but because we’re not sociopathic, we look at the
pain of racism or sexism or classism or homophobia and
heterosexism, and for people who really are compassionate, we
turn away from it almost as quickly as we turn towards it. Because to be reminded of it,
and to be reminded that we’re sort of in the midst of that,
is to put us on the hook. And we really don’t like
to be on the hook. Because there’s only 24 hours
in a day, seven days a week, 365 in most years. And so as a result, we just
don’t have extra time to deal with all the problems
that we have. And so we turn away from it. So I think the first lesson
when we have these conversations is as glad as I
am to be here and as honored as I am to be here– and I’m
very happy to be able to speak to you and to other folks
around the country. If we’re really going to get to
a place where we know we’ve created racial equity in a
company or in a community, or gender equity in a company or
community or sexual equity in a company or community, it’s
really important that we get to a place where we can hear all
the stuff that I’m saying and I’m going to continue to
say for a few more minutes from the people who
are the targets. It’s fine for me as a straight
white male to stand up and talk about this stuff. And upper middle class with
a college degree, and able-bodied. And here I embody all of these
privileged groups. But until we’re able to also
hear women say it without getting defensive as men and
getting pissed, right? Until we’re prepared to hear
people of color say it without, as white folks,
getting pissed. Until we’re prepared to hear
LGBT folks say it without those of us who are straight
or cisgendered or gender normative getting angry and
upset and pissed off. Then until that happens,
we’re really not in a place of equity. Part of the problem, I think,
when we have the conversation is that we usually are coming
from very different places in terms of how we’re defining
the concepts that we’re discussing. So if you hear that there’s
going to be a conversation, it’s about racism, you
automatically have certain assumptions about what we’re
going to discuss and what that means. And naturally, as good people,
we don’t want to think that we’re implicated in racism. My god, if there’s racism in
my company, then that means that’s on me. But we’re thinking of racism in
a very sort of traditional way when we use that term. And that’s what gets
us in trouble. That’s what, if we had heart
monitors on people, when you say, we’re going to have
a talk about racism. If you had heart monitors,
you’d see the blood pressure spike. That’s what the research– people get very nervous when
they think we’re going to talk about this. And the reason is, they think
they’re going to be called a racist, right? And that if they are somehow
called a racist, that we mean they’re got there Klan robes in
the closet and they brought them in on the bus or the bike
or however the hell they got to work today and they’re going
to the neo-Nazi rally and they are actually skinheads
in disguise. And people make those
assumptions. And so as a result, they
get very defensive. Nobody wants to be thought
of as that. If we had a different
understanding, though. If we had an understanding
that racism is not principally that. That when we’re talking about
racism in the modern era, it’s not that that stuff
isn’t still there. It is, right? And those of us who do this work
long enough, we get death threats from folks like that. They still are around. They don’t actually
ever go anywhere. You call them neo-Nazis, but
really there’s nothing neo or new about what they do. It’s sort of paleolithic
or Jurassic Nazis. They’re decidedly old school. But there’s still around. But that’s not really
the issue. And it’s certainly not the issue
I assume that I need to address in a corporate
setting. If it is, I’m screwed. I need to get the hell
out of here. And we’re all wasting
our time. If we’re actually in a place
where there’s such overt hostility and bigotry of the
nature of hate group activity, then nothing that I can say in
45 minutes, or that anyone could say, is going to
solve that problem. But if we understood that racism
is much more nuanced than that, particularly in the
modern era– it might have always been more nuanced, but it
certainly is now– then we can have a much better talk
without the same levels of defensiveness. So when I use the term racism
and I talk about racism as a problem, I am not presuming in
this or any other company to which I speak, or at any school
where I speak, or community, that we are mostly
talking about malicious individuals who are
deliberately seeking to harm others. Though I know they’re
there, that’s not what I’m talking about. And that’s not what
I’m focused on. Likewise, you don’t necessarily
have to assume a direct intentional
victim or target. So neither the perpetrator of
racism nor the victim of racism has to necessarily do
anything consciously to make the injury take place or to
get in the way the injury. In fact, sometimes we talk about
racism, we’re not really talking about it in the overt
one-on-one I don’t like you therefore I mistreat
you kind of way. We’re talking about in a much
more systemic sense. And just like any ism that you
can think of, just about, is both an ideology and a system,
the same is true with racism. Think about that. Capitalism. Socialism. Communism. Fascism. Authoritarianism. What are these? They’re ideologies. They’re also ways of organizing
a society. They’re also systems, right? And you can sometimes be in that
system even if you don’t accept the ideology. You can be in that system and
by virtue of your actions, perpetuate that system, even if
you don’t buy the ideology. Materialism is a good
example of this. Materialism we understand. If I go to the store and I
engage in some impulse purchase, right? We understand what– I mean, maybe in the
moment, I don’t understand what I’m doing. But later on, I think
about it. I’m like, why did I
buy the candy bar? I didn’t want chocolate. And I didn’t go for the
“People” magazine. What the hell is
wrong with me? But I picked up the “People”
magazine and I picked up the candy bar because why? Well, because the marketers
put it there. The people who actually stage
the stores put it there, knowing that someone’s going
to buy that and be part of this larger system of
consumption and materialism. Of consumerism. They could have put
the chocolate on the chocolate aisle. They could have. There’s a candy aisle
in every grocery. But they didn’t put all
the chocolate there. And it’s not like they just had
some left at the end, and then were like, I don’t know. What the hell do we
do with this? Oh I don’t know. Just put it up near the
place where they pay. Like that was some kind
of coincidence. It was very deliberate, knowing
that even though your mentality– you didn’t wake up
and go, I am a materialistic consumerist hack. I can’t wait to go buy crap
I don’t need today. Nobody does that. But you fall into it. And therefore, that’s
why they continue to keep the candy there. If everybody made a conscious
choice not to do that, they might rethink. But they know that we can fall
into those cognitive traps when they’re trying
to sell us stuff. That’s what companies spend
billions of dollars, including this one, to market stuff. Google spends I don’t
know how much. I know it’s a lot, right? To market stuff. And it works. If it didn’t work, you’d
get new PR people. You’d change your whole
approach and you’re whole strategy. People spend money to convince
people they need this. They need to think this. They need to act like this. Dress like this. Be like this. Own this piece of technology. Own this vehicle. Live in this neighborhood. Because it works. And if you can be convinced of
the kind of computer that you need to have, or if you can be
convinced of the kind of smartphone that you need to
have, or if you can be convinced of the kind of toilet
paper that you need to use so as not to chafe,
because oh god, no. Downy, that’ll never work. Or Angel Soft. No, I need Charmin. Charmin knows if they spend
enough dough that you’ll maybe fall into that. To the extent that they can sell
us products, commercial products, with advertising. How much easier is it, you
think, to internalize over the course of a lifetime all of the
commercials, if you will, that we’ve been given about
race and racial others. All of the commercials that
we’ve been given and exposed to about gendered
and sexual and religious and class others. Because we’ve been seeing that
commercial since we were children, so to speak. Over and over again. And people who are marketers
will tell you, and people that are in marketing and advertising
will tell you, it only takes about 12 commercials
for a particular consumer product before all of
a sudden, you begin to see brand loyalty and you begin
to see an uptick in sales. It’s the law of 12. Some people call it
the law of 11. If they’re really good,
they can do it in 11. But usually, it takes
a dozen commercials. And after a dozen, it’s like,
damn, I need that product. And so ultimately, I guarantee
we’ve certainly been exposed to racial stereotypes
more than 12 times. We’ve been exposed to gender
and class and sexual and religious stereotypes
more than 12 times. Some of it, since we were
very, very young. And so the odds that somehow
that hasn’t stuck to us or that it stuck to all those
other people out there, but not here. Not at this company. Not in this valley. Not in this industry. Incredibly unlikely. Not a very parsimonious
expectation. I would suggest that it’s
probably the case that there’s not such rarefied air. I mean, I’m breathing it. It seems clean in here. You all filter your air very
well, from what I can tell. As opposed to the salt flats
as we were coming in, which were not nearly as nice. But ultimately, the idea that
the rarefied air here is so different that those things that
beset the mere mortals in the outside world wouldn’t
happen here, pretty incredibly unlikely. So if we can let go of
our concern about bigotry being the issue. If we can let go our sense that
to be accused of racism is to be accused of being a bad
person, or to be accused of perpetrating sexism is to
be accused of a bad person. Then, if we can let go of that,
we can have a real, meaningful conversation. What are the ways, you think,
that we can perpetuate, if you will, racism, sexism, other
isms, even without intentionality. Because that’s the stuff that
unless we think very consciously about it, we’ll
make mistakes and not even realize that we’ve done it. The obvious stuff, the answer
is, just stop doing it. But the stuff that’s so
subconscious you don’t realize you’re doing it, or that’s a
matter of systemic practice and you never reflect on
it, is the stuff that goes under the radar. So what are the ways that can
happen with racism, with sexism, or any other ism? I would suggest there
are three ways with regard to race. One is this notion, this real
myth of objectivity. And now I mean this on
a personal level. This idea that we are actually
capable of objectively evaluating the merit of
another human being. I know we like to believe that
we’re capable of this. We really do. You’ll hear people say
it all the time. Well, it’s not racism,
we just hire the most qualified person. As if somehow, there are 310
million Americans and it is capable to rank them from one to
310 million, and then say, well, you were 167,412. You’ve got the job. Or you were 2,000,307. Sorry, you don’t quite
make the cut. Or you were 11. Hot damn. We have found the 11th most
wonderful human being on the planet for this gig. That isn’t rational. But we act as if somehow, we
can just take people’s resumes, take their background,
sit them down in an interview for a few minutes,
and then we can be the sort of perfect receptors
of information, whether it’s their background or the answers
they give us to the questions that we ask. And that we can just filter it
out like a computer with no biases whatsoever. And we believe this, in part,
because we want to. It’s a lot nicer than to think
that we’re incredibly flawed and incapable of really
being objective. But what the evidence very
clearly tells us is that we’re not nearly as capable of it
as we’d like to believe. So that when we think about jobs
and hiring and promotions and evaluation of existing
employees, in just about any company this would be true. At any college in the
admissions office, this would be true. At any graduate school, business
school, med school, law school, same thing. The notions that often affect
who gets hired, who gets promoted, who gets admitted,
what the evaluation of the employee is, are affected by–
those things are affected by the notion of fit. Who does and does not. The notion of qualifications, by
which we really are talking about formal credentials, not
necessarily qualifications. Because qualifications can
be quite intangible. Credentials are very clear
and they’re on paper. And some of them are probably
quite important. Others, maybe not
so objective. But we certainly utilize them. And those are really
the two things. There’s not three. Just fit and credentials. And yet what the research tells
us is that the notion of fit is incredibly subjective,
more so than just about any other concept, perhaps,
in the workforce. Especially in an industrial
culture, in an economic culture, that is its own sort
of the universe, right? Which is true of tech, but
it’s also true of heavy manufacturing in the past. They created cultures,
did they not? And the people that were seen
as fitting in with that culture, they didn’t
all look the same. They didn’t all have
the same story. They didn’t all have the same
education or background or accent or religion. But there was a certain
continuity. Even with the diversity that
existed just in people’s lives and family backgrounds, there
was still a lot of similarity. There were certain expectations
about affect, about dress, about style, about
your hobbies, about the things that you would do. And if those things affected who
did and didn’t get hired, who did and didn’t get promoted
in the auto industry, for instance, or if it affected
who did and didn’t get promoted, who didn’t
get the gig in– forget manufacturing. Think about police departments
or fire departments, where no doubt, the people who were
getting hired for most of those jobs were probably
qualified for them in some sense. The fire department was not
generally picking people who were incapable of
fighting fires. But the idea that they were
actually capable of figuring out who were the 20 best
firefighting human beings in this community, pretty
unlikely. There was all this other
intangible stuff happening. And the research tells us that
the notion of fit is directly affected and impacted by racial
bias, gender bias, class bias, sexual bias, all
of those and a lot of other types, too. And that we tend to see merit
more quickly in someone that reminds us of ourselves. Whether that’s in terms of our
background or in terms of our interest or in terms– it
could be something as intangible as the music
that you like or all kinds of things. Do you do cross fit
or something? I mean, it could be anything. God forbid, right,
it could be that. But the point being that this
notion of fit isn’t really about objective evaluation. And to the extent that it can
be affected by racial bias, gender bias, class bias, all
these things that the research tells us we internalize from
the time that we’re very young, then even when we think
we’re being purely objective and fair minded in the hiring
process, the evaluation process, the promotion process,
we’re not really able to do that. The second principle
way in which we can maintain racial bias– and this would be true
for other biases– is that there’s also this myth
of institutional objectivity. So it’s not just that our
personal biases– many of which are subconscious, according to the research– get in the way of how we
actually evaluate people. That’s part of it. But this other part, which is
even more frightening, is even if we were capable of being
perfect evaluators of other people’s merit, the problem is
the criteria we’re using to determine merit may
itself be flawed. May not be as objective
as we think. So even if we were objective,
the criteria might not be. What do I mean by that? Well, you think about maybe the
most meritocratic merit indicator that there is. What would it be? If you’re hiring, you would
think, well, it seems like the best indicator is experience. That seems fair. That seems objective. That seems like a pretty
good merit indicator. But the problem is when we
determine whether someone does or does not have as much
experience as makes them qualified, we oftentimes set
incredibly arbitrary limits on that or frames around that or
a particular definition of what experience is that is not
really objectively arrived at. I’ve worked with companies
that– I always make the
habit, usually. I didn’t do it this time. But I usually make the habit
of going and looking at the last, like, 10 job postings
that I can find for a particular gig. Just to see what they’re
asking for, right? And you go and it’ll say,
five to six years. Four to seven years. 8 to 10 years. Two to three years. And I’ll go and I’ll ask the
folks I’m working with, like, OK, where did you
get that number? Why four to six? Why not three years,
four months, two weeks, and an afternoon? Why? What was the actual objective? Other than just picking a
nice, round number, what evidence do you have
the four to six is really what’s necessary? And that if you only had three
and a half, you’d be screwed for another half a year? No, you have to wait six more
months, and then come back and it’ll be fine. And every time I’ve asked that
question, why this criteria as opposed to that one, without
exception there’s never been an objective evaluation. There’s never been what’s called
a reliability analysis in this work done to determine
that this is really necessary and without this, you’re likely
to fail at this job. Usually it’s because that’s
what the last guy– and it usually is a guy–
had to have. So that’s what– by God, that’s
what I had to have. And if I had to jump through
those hoops, you’re going to jump through those hoops. That’s what’s called
a positional good. It’s something that I have, you
want it, and I’m going to make damn sure that you have
go through all the same troubles that I did in
order to get it. Now, the positional good may be
valuable as a criteria, or it may be really strange. So for instance, most of the
time, college professors have to have a Ph.D., certainly
to be tenure in most institutions. And that might make sense. But then you have to actually
ask yourself, well, what makes a person get a Ph.D.? What you do to get a Ph.D.? Because it seems objective. It seems fair. It’s the highest level you can
get in most fields, unless you get a J.D. or something, some
other type of specialized professional degree. But is it really objective? Well, let’s think about it. How do you get a Ph.D.? You get a Ph.D. usually writing
a dissertation, which is you write a really
long paper on a very narrow subject. It’s not like you’re doing
a survey of your entire subject matter. You’re picking a really
narrow, finite area. So Newt Gingrich, for example,
has a Ph.D. Now, I could end the joke right there in some
regards, I suppose. But he has one. He has one, actually, from my
Alma mater, which I’m not overwhelmingly happy about. But it is what it is. And he has his Ph.D.
in history. He got this Ph.D. in history
because he wrote a dissertation. Fantastic. That’s what you do. And because he has a Ph.D., if
Newt Gingrich wanted to be a history professor at any college
in this country, he could probably– he probably also could do
that because he was the Speaker of the House. So that probably would help. But even if he hadn’t done that,
just the Ph.D. would probably qualify him in the eyes
of most for being hired. And yet, what was
his Ph.D. in? Well, it was history. But how did he get it? He wrote a dissertation. What was it about? It was about Belgian
educational policy in the Congo. Fascinating. And I suppose if you’re a
historian of the Belgian Congo, that is a very
important subject. And if you were going to teach a
class on Belgian educational policy in the Congo, I don’t
have any doubt, Newt Gingrich is probably your guy. And that’s actually arguable,
because when he did his Ph.D. in Belgian educational policy
in the Congo, he didn’t actually interview any black
folks from the Congo. He just interviewed
people in Belgium. So even then, you might
say, he’s not really that much of an expert. But we’ll just cut him slack
for the sake of argument because I’m feeling generous,
and we’ll say that if you were going to teach a class on that
subject, he probably knows more about it than
a lot of people. But does that mean that he’s
more qualified to teach, like, a US history 1865 to the
present survey class? Not necessarily. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. So even a really seemingly
objective criteria like that can get us in trouble unless
we dig deeper. And the same is true with
credentials generally, for one very simple reason. How we get them isn’t just about
a fair race in which everyone has started at the very
same point and has the finish line in front of them,
and then whoever is the fastest runner gets there. We’re talking about a larger
system of job networking and job opportunities in which some
people have had three lap head start in a eight lap race,
or five lab head starts, or even just a half a lap
head start, right? If I’ve had even a little bit
of a head start on you and we’re running a race, I’m
supposed to cross the finish line first. That’s sort of how that works. And in fact, if I have a head
start on you and I don’t cross the finish line first, there’s
something wrong with me. I’m not as fast a runner. If I have a five lap head start
in a eight lap race and when the race is over,
I’m only ahead by three, I still won. But you’re the faster runner. So if you were trying to pick
people for a track team, you would want the person who made
up ground and closed the gap in terms of achievement, rather
than the person who just hit the tape first. When we talk about jobs, it’s
not quite like a race. But it’s not altogether
different either. Because none of us are sort of
just starting from scratch. Unless it’s your very first job,
and even then you’re not starting from scratch because
you went to school somewhere. And even that wasn’t scratch,
because you had a family and they had a certain set of
opportunities or lack thereof. So in a sense, we’re constantly
inheriting these eight lap relay races. But we’re not inheriting
the starting line at the very same point. And so if we’re going to
evaluate who’s the most qualified and we’re looking only
at the tape at the end of the race, which is what the
resume, in a sense, represents. The resume, the job references,
the application that you fill out, that’s the
end result of whatever you’ve done before, which is great. Just like the eighth lap. And the tape is the end
result of the race. But unless I know all the stuff
that happened in lap seven, six, five, four, three,
two, and one– or at least some of the stuff. I’m not going to maybe
know all of it. But if I don’t know any of it,
am I really likely to make a really excellent, objective,
fair decision at the end about who the most qualified
person is? Well, I might get lucky. But I could also be horribly
wrong if what I’m seeing is just the detritus of
an opportunity structure that’s unequal. Which is to say that both
ethically and practically, we need to rethink the
notion of merit. Ethically, of course, because
that means a lot of people who might be the best are being
left by the side. Not because they are any less
capable, but just because maybe they don’t know
the right people. They haven’t been in the
pipeline as long so they don’t have the same credentials. But also because it hurts
institutional integrity. If a company’s trying to
actually find the best people, which I think makes sense as
long as we have an expansive capacious understanding of what
“the best people” means, then they would want, I would
think, to have a criteria that was less likely to produce
outcome based decisions that were the end of the
eighth lap. The tape at the end
of the race. That they would want to have as
expansive a notion of merit as possible. And as holistic a way of
assessing merit so as to get the best people. Not only to be fair. That’s part of it. But also to make sure that they
actually do, in fact, get the best people for the job. The final problem that
perpetuates injustice that corporate folks need to think
about, educators need to think about, and all of us, really, in
the country to think about, is what I would suggest as color
blind formalism would be the term that I guess
I would use. And what I mean by color blind
formalism is this very formal, very formulaic way in which we
just don’t talk about race and we don’t think about race. Or we act as if we
don’t see it. So when we talk about racism,
that’s what people will say as their first line of defense. Well, I don’t even see color. I don’t think about color. Well, that may be the problem. If you don’t think about color
in a world in which color matters, ten you’re going to
miss an awful lot of stuff. It’d be like saying, well,
I’m ability blind. I don’t notice disability. Now, think about that. The Americans with
Disabilities Act was passed in 1991. And if anyone said, well, our
goal is to be disability blind, well then how the hell
are you going to build a ramp? You’re not going to build a
ramp for folks in chairs because I’m not noticing,
because I didn’t even see you were in a chair. Ergonomic workplaces,
what the hell? I don’t know anything
about that. You need a certain width
of the door? I don’t know. Why would I do that? Elevators? I’m not noticing that
you’re disabled. All the different things that
come with disability. If I’m not noticing, then the
odds are I’m not going to take the kind of steps that I need
to ensure that you actually have equity of opportunity
in treatment. And then I’m going to pretend
that I’ve been really innocent and kind and nice. Like, oh, but I didn’t
even see you. Yes, exactly. And that’s why you didn’t make
the workspace more functional for me and others like me. The same is true with
race or gender, sexuality or anything else. If you’re going to create real
equal opportunity, you have to take a not color blind or gender
blind or sex blind or sexuality blind or any
blind approach. You have to take a very color
conscious, gender conscious, sex conscious approach that
actually looks at the way that these dynamics oftentimes skew
our own judgments and skew the very criteria that
we are using. To be blind to color, as Julian
Bond, civil rights legend, puts it is to be blind
to the consequences of color. So if the consequences of color
are still quite real, being colorblind means we take
a very passive approach. We just take it as they come. Lots of times folks will say,
we’ll hire whoever walks through the door who’s
most qualified. The problem being, if certain
people know the location of that door and they know which
way the door turns and they know the combination code to
get through that door, then they’re going to have
a much easier time. Or if somebody just simply
thinks that behind the door will lie rejection, right? So imagine if you’re a member–
and like I said, all of us in here are at some point
probably members of dominate groups and also members
of subordinate groups. I’ve rarely met anyone who was
only a dominant group, that every one of their identities
was dominant. And I’ve never met anyone
who’s every identity was non dominant. Could happen, but it’s rare. So when you’re a member of a
dominant group, if you think about being anything but that,
what it would be like to go to a place where you were so
incredibly under represented. And you’re making assumptions
in you’re own head about why that might be. You’re assuming, well, maybe
it’s overt racism, sexism, classism, et cetera. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just subtle bias. Or maybe it’s just the culture
of this institution is going to be off putting and they don’t
really think that I fit. So if they don’t think I fit,
I’m not even going to try. Which gets to the heart
of the problem. Sometimes in Silicon Valley,
where people will say, well, there’s just not enough
qualified fill in the blank. Not enough qualified women
in this kind of work. Not enough qualified people of
color in this kind of work. A, that’s oftentimes a dodge
and oftentimes inaccurate, statistically speaking. Let’s just for the sake of
argument say for the hell of it that even if it’s true,
what does it mean? Let’s just say, for the sake of
argument, that there really aren’t enough to dramatically
change the demographics of Silicon Valley, at least
not right away. What, then, obligations do we
have to do something about it? Do we just passively
go, oh well. It’s not my fault. I didn’t create that
imbalance. It sort of sucks. I wish it wasn’t like that. But I don’t really have time
to think about that. Or do we think, well,
wait a minute now. We inherit this legacy for which
we’re not to blame, but we’ve inherited it and we sort
of have to be accountable to and responsible for what
we do with that. That’s what we do as
responsible people. I don’t think any of us in
here are deliberately responsible– I hope not– for poisoning the
water and the air and the soil all around this planet. You didn’t actually take your
own bucket of hazardous waste and go inject it in a deep well
into the water outside the back of your house. But it got in there. You didn’t go and belch
smoke with toxic chemicals into the air. But somebody did that, and now
you inherit the legacy. And as a responsible person,
not just as a citizen of a country but a citizen of the
planet, you have an obligation to deal with the stuff that
gets handed to you. So if we know that unfairness
and inequity has been handed down to us, then we have to be
conscious about how we’re going to undo that. You can’t do that passively. And ultimately, if you try,
you create incredible dysfunctions. It’s not a sustainable
model, ultimately. To be formally color blind. To not think about race. To not think about issues
of inequity. Or to not challenge our own
subjectivities, whether they’re personal or
institutional. Because here we are, in a state
that’s already mostly people of color, in a country
that’s going to be roughly 50-50 white and people of color
within a mere 30, maybe 35, years at the most. Maybe as few as 25. So somewhere between 25 and 35
years from now, we’re going to be a half and half country
of white folks and people of color. Unless you actually think, and
unless folks throughout American and in Silicon Valley
in particular, think that it is possible to maintain a tech
sector on the back of a dwindling percentage of the
population, which is incredibly unlikely and
it’s a pretty risky gamble, I would think. Unless we actually believe that
we’ll just continue to be able to cull 80, 85, and in
some cases even 90% of the best talent from a group of
people that’s shrinking in terms of its size, then we’d
better think very seriously about how we’re not going to
just passively sit back and say, oh well. We wish there were more of
them, but there aren’t. But we’re actually going
to go out and have to create that pool. We’re going to have
to actually go out and seed that pool. Whether that means collaborating
with school districts and individual schools
and mentoring folks at a very young age when they’re
actually thinking about what they want to be and what they
want to do when they grow up. I remember doing that when I
was in third or fourth or fifth grade. A lot of people don’t
think about it until quite a bit later. But if I never know that
you exist or that your opportunities exist or what it
would even mean to work here. What it would even mean to
work in Silicon Valley generally, at any institution. Then the odds are pretty
good, it’s just not going to be on my radar. If it’s not on my radar, I’m not
likely to apply for a job or seek a career in
the industry. And if I don’t apply, then
I can’t be actively discriminated against, in which
case I can’t sue and nothing ever changes. I can’t sue if you don’t
actually mistreat me. And you can’t even mistreat me
if I don’t even know you exist or know how to reach you. So we have to do that level of
very deliberate seed planting in order to create a
different culture. Not only for the sake of
fairness, which I think is important in its own right,
but also for the sake of institutional continuity. Just like I would tell and I
have told prep schools all around this country that have
been overwhelmingly white for a very long time, that they’re
going to have to think very seriously about how long
they want to exist. If you’re going to be a boarding
school and you’ve been around for 100 years living
off of the presence of affluent white folks in a
country where white folks are dwindling as a percentage of the
population, you don’t have a very good long term
chance of survival. Ultimately, you’re going to be
culling from a shrinking base. So you’ve got to think about
change not just for others, but also for yourself. And so in this particular case,
I’m glad that there are folks in the tech sector and
in Silicon Valley generally who are willing to ask
these questions. I only hope that you continue
to ask them without fear or recrimination or anxiety that
somehow people are going to look at you or others with whom
you work as bad people. I’m sure there are such folks. I’m sure we all know
some of them. But the reality is that most of
us are good folks trying to get it right. Unfortunately if we don’t
understand all the various ways that we get it wrong– because of the cognitive traps
into which we fall, because of our upbringing, because
of our conditioning– then we can’t solve them. The good news being the research
tells us very clearly that if we are willing
to confront that– if we are willing to own our own
biases and the extent to which we’ve been conditioned to
see certain people as more meritorious than
other people– the research says that if we’re
willing to do that, we actually can check the bias
before it becomes discriminatory behavior. So you actually can interrupt
the thought before it becomes the deed. And ultimately, that’s
what’s important. I don’t know a lot of people of
color who are too worried what white folks think
about them. It’s how white folks
treat them. I don’t know too many women who
are really that worried about what men think
about them. It’s how they get treated
as women. So ultimately, if we can
interrupt the thought before it becomes the deed, then harm,
the damage, of racism, of sexism, of all these isms,
can be if not undone, at least interrupted and diminished in
terms of its ability to harm others and, really, to
harm the society upon which we all depend. Thank you all so much
for being here. I appreciate it. I will take any questions that
you have in the time that we have left. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. [APPLAUSE] TIM WISE: Yes. AUDIENCE: Thanks. So at least in the realm of
sexism, I think there has been some basic acknowledgement
that we are not– that this is a major problem
in the tech industry and in Silicon Valley with kind of
the rise of the brogrammer culture in mainstream media. How do you take from
acknowledgment of the existence of this kind of
culture and get past the point where, right now, it seems
like it’s a preference. Like you have a brogrammer
company or one that is less so. And it seems right now like it’s
interpreted as a matter of preference. Like, oh, I prefer
to work here. Not like, this shit
is unacceptable. How do we stop it? How do we move forward
from there? TIM WISE: Right. Well, I think it’s
a good question. Because obviously, we can
acknowledge it and not problematize it. And I think that’s what
we tend to do. We acknowledge certain things,
but we don’t ultimately problematize them. Like we will acknowledge that
people tell racist jokes or sexist jokes, whether it’s in
the workplace or in the school or in the neighborhood. And then we will rationalize
that or not make a big deal out of that or act like
it’s not a problem. So clearly, one does not automatically lead to the other. The good news is that
if we create– and sometimes the critical mass
needed for this, and I don’t mean critical mass of
women in a male-dominated sector or of people of color in
a white-dominated sector so much as I mean a critical
mass of whomever willing to push back. And it might be in a certain
unit of a certain company or a certain industry, just
a handful of really committed people. It could be several dozen. It could be hundreds. It might take more than that. It’s never clear, depending
on where you are. But what the research find
is, and my own experience confirms, that when you push
back, and when a handful of people begin to push back
against the sort of unspoken norms of the culture, and begin
to just question them and to problem– and to ask
questions really more so than even make demonstrative
statements. Because it’s one thing to stand
up and say, this shit is unacceptable. And I’m all for that
a lot of times. Like, there are times when you
just have to say it that way. And then there are other times
when the approach, particularly when folks are
really dug in on their denial that there’s a problem going
on, is to ask a series of questions of them which leaves
very little possible conclusion other than this
shit is unacceptable. But it’s different if I tell you
that or if you think of it yourself, right? It’s like with my
own children. If I want my children to do
something, there are two approaches, right? I can either say, like, in the
morning if it’s time for school, I can say, get upstairs
and brush your teeth. We’re going to be late. Now, that works about
60% of the time. Maybe a little bit better than
flipping a coin, but not much. Or I can come up with a much
more inventive approach. I can ask my daughter. Usually it’s just one of them. The other one is a little bit
quicker on the draw with this. But I’ll ask what are
you supposed to be doing right now? Now, I know the answer is
brushing your damn teeth. That’s the point, right? I could have just
told you that. And you know it’s that. But if I tell you brush your
teeth, there’s that part of you that just, whether your a
kid or an adult and somebody tells you to do something that
might be dug in and not doing it and resisted. But if I ask you and you say,
oh– and she will– brushing my teeth, right? And I go, exactly. That’s awesome. Then all of a sudden, she
thinks she’s a genius. She thought up the problem
on her own. She now came up with the
solution on her own. So if I’m trying to get people
to really question the culture of an institution with regard to
race or gender or class or sexuality, sometimes asking
those kind of questions and getting a handful of people who
are prepared to step up as allies and ask those
questions. And when I say, as allies,
I mean specifically this requires that it’s not just
people of color who are raising this subject in a
white-dominated institution. It’s not just women who are
raising this issue in a male-dominated institution. It means that some of us who
are male and some of us who are white and especially if
we’re both, and some of us who are straight and some of us are
working class background or whatever it is where these
issues come into play. We’ve also got to be prepared to
stand up and to challenge. And what’s really interesting
in the research is that when that happens, you end up
discovering a lot of times– not all the time, but a lot of
times– that there are lots of other people in the
institutional space who also were thinking, this shit
is unacceptable. But they didn’t want
to go first. Part of this is not that we’re
ignorant or we don’t understand the problem. Sometimes that’s it. But sometimes it’s just, I
sort of know the problem. I don’t want to put
my neck out first. I don’t want to go first. Nobody wants to go first,
because there’s that chance that you’re going to get your
hand slapped or your neck chopped off or whatever. So you sort of hold
back and wait. And as soon as someone else does
it, as soon as someone else raises the issue, that’s
when you’ll start to see people go, yeah. I was thinking about that. Now they don’t feel
they’re alone. And so I think in a sense,
that’s an important piece. And it’s also important to put
yourself in the middle of the problem when you’re
discussing it. To say, it’s not just
that the culture generically is this way. It’s that I’m a part of it. And I’ve imbibed it. And I’ve taken part in it. And I’ve contributed to it. And I realize that
that’s a problem. Because just that level of
honesty and transparency makes it easier for someone else to
be honest and transparent. Otherwise, what it sounds like
is, this shit is unacceptable. I’m good, but this shit is
unacceptable, right? As opposed to saying, no,
actually, this shit is unacceptable, but I also
am part of the stuff that’s not OK. And the minute you allow
yourself to be part of the problem, then other people
are willing to own their piece of it too. Other questions? AUDIENCE: So once you all have
this shit is unacceptable moment and then we support
people so you start to have women in the brogrammer culture
or more African Americans going to college, et
cetera, how do we support them once they’re there? TIM WISE: Well, I think the
key to that is you have to actively continue to work with
and collaborate with people. And with as opposed to for. I was a community organizer for
about a year and a half in the mid ’90s, and one of the
things that I learned just doing that work was if I was
going to work with communities that were marginalized both
racially economically and really just culturally oppressed
and dominated and targeted and often times
devastated communities. The only way I was really going
to be of any use as a white man who had a college
degree– and so in every way, I had all the privileges and
advantages that most of the people in that space didn’t,
because not only were they folks of color, not only were
they poor and usually not with college educations, they were
also disproportionately women in public housing, et cetera. The only way that I could really
be of any use to them in the long run was to start by
listening to what they said they needed. Not asking them in a voyeuristic
way, like, how can I help you? Because that gets old. Like people who are constantly
being crapped on really don’t need you to say, how
can I help you? Because you can help them by
not crapping on them, first and foremost. And so we just have to be
prepared to listen. So I would go into the community
and I would listen very carefully to what
was being said. Not necessarily to me in
response to a direct question, but just what were they
talking about? What were the things
on their mind? What were the things that
they needed to see change in that community? So that when I then got involved
in a campaign to do x, y, or z, I knew I was
following their lead. And the same is true in a
corporate setting or in a school setting. If you listen carefully to
what folks of color are saying, or what women as women
are saying, and sometimes that requires just keeping
your ears open. Other times it might
really require– and I think in the best
of cases, it does– getting to know individuals
and creating relationship with them. Because if I do get to know you
on a one-on-one level and I can hear your story and you
can hear mine and I can share it with you, then I might be
able to figure out some way in which I can assist you in
navigating a culture which maybe was not set up for you,
but which I see as important for you to succeed in. And also, there’s some
reciprocity involved. Because even if, as a dominant
group member, I was in there working with these
communities– not for them, but with them– I was still getting something
out of it. It wasn’t all a one-way
street. It wasn’t just that I was going
in and giving them the technical assistance that they
needed to fight for a particular piece
of legislation. I wasn’t just giving
them information. I was also taking
something away. What I was taking away was the
insight and the wisdom that otherwise usually was totally
untapped and un-listened to. And then I could take that and
take that out and talk to other people about it in a way
that the people in the community sometimes couldn’t,
because they didn’t have the microphone. So if I’m going to work with and
mentor folks who are being marginalized on the basis of
some identity that, let’s say, I don’t share, I’m able to
listen very carefully and not only then maybe direct my
actions in a way that will really help them, but more
importantly, I’m able to then go and talk to other people,
maybe of my own identity. Maybe I can go talk to other men
and challenge men around sexism after listening to women
talk about what it is that they need to see happen
in that regard. Or as a white person, I can
challenge other white folks perhaps in a way that people of
color also try to challenge white folks, but oftentimes
aren’t heard. So I can take the wisdom and
then amplify that wisdom, giving credit to the wisdom
where credit is due, not assuming that it’s mine. But saying, hey, this is
the stuff that I’m hearing from folks. And I tend to start with the
assumption that they know their needs. And so I think we all should
start with that assumption. So there are ways of amplifying,
ways of listening, ways of subordinating sort of
your own assumptions about what people need to what
they actually are saying that they need. A lot of times we might assume
that people need a particular resource. And that may be the one that
this person needs. But it might not be the
one this person needs. This person might
need this very formal mentoring structure. This other person might just
need one individual to whom they can relate on a very
personal, not even professional, level, in order to
feel comfortable when they come to work. So you have to learn to listen
and create connection with the people whom you’re trying to
move into the space where maybe they’re not normative
for the space. AUDIENCE: Hi. Do you have any concrete things
that somebody can do on any given day to challenge
somebody who just refuses to see anything or hear anything? TIM WISE: Well, I mean there’s
no silver bullet for that. And obviously, the people who
are truly dug in and refuse to see things are usually
people– they are movable. Most people are not completely
immovable. But the odds that you’ll be
able, by virtue of some really well-placed argument or fact
or even story, to dislodge them when they’re that dug in. You might be able to do it. But the amount of time you’re
going to have to spend to make that happen may very well not
be worth the energy that it takes even if it works. Those are the kind of people
that normally sort of have to have their little come to Jesus
moments, where something happens and the clouds part and
they’re like, holy shit. I need to change everything
I think about the world. You’re not likely to
give them that. You might be able to, if you’re
really persuasive. But the odds are, they’re going
to have to come to that on their own. So what does that mean? Do we go throw up our hands? No. What it means is that
fundamentally, you start not with the hardest cases
like that. You’re trying to
build a certain amount of energy, right? You’re trying to build a
certain inertia towards justice and toward equity. So if you’re starting with the
people who are not those folks that you’re describing. But folks who say all the right
stuff and for the most part, you can assess that they
mean it, at least in theory. That they actually want
to do right by folks. That they really do want equity
and justice, and they know that these things
might be problems. But they may not actually
be involved in trying to change anything. They know it here. They’re not necessarily
working on it in an effective way. Then you start to build a
certain sense of capacity. Again, it’s not just that people
don’t want to go first. It’s that until they see
movement, they may not do anything at all. What I learned in public housing
projects when I worked there as an organizer was the
thing that the people they are needed more than anything, more
than me, they just needed to know that they could win
a couple of things. And if they knew they could
win a couple– and I mean, really minor stuff. Not like major victories. Just minor things, to give
them a sense of their own power and their own capacity. And then they start to do
the work on their own. And they start to change the
dynamics in the community, even though there are people
in much more powerful positions that don’t want
anything to change. I remember going in, very
first week that I was an organizer, and talking to
somebody about what are you all fighting for? What are you working on? Because I was going to hit the
ground, be really excited and interested in this. And I figured he was going to
answer, well, we’re fighting to smash white supremacy,
because that’s why I was there, by god. And we’re going to smash
economic injustice. Well, I mean all that
stuff is true. That’s their long-term goal. But instead of telling me that,
he looked at me and said, we’re trying to get
a stoplight right there. And I remember going, what? A stoplight? At a corner? Like, what’s that? I mean, I know what it is,
but why is that such an important thing. And he said, well,
a couple reasons. One is like four kids have
been hit on their bikes because there’s no stoplight. So we need a stop light so kids
will not get hit on their bikes because cars will stop. So that’s the most
obvious answer. He said secondly, though, it’s
more important, the reason we’re fighting for
the stop light is because we can get it. We can get it. We’ll win. If we fight hard enough on this,
we’ll get– it won’t even be that hard. We’ll get the stop light. And yeah, it doesn’t
change anything about the larger structure. But it gives the community a
sense that there’s something possible in their actions. That they can, in fact, fight
and occasionally get the outcomes that they want. That’s what any group that’s
subordinated– whether it’s economically,
racially, religiously, culturally, terms of gender,
sex, sexuality– needs is to know that it’s
not a wasted struggle. And the more that they know
that, the more they’re invested in the sense that they
actually have efficacy and they have agency that
can be effective. The more that they’re going to
want to work with others. They’re going to be
less exhausted. Less burned out. They’re going to be physically
healthier. Because they know that even
though it’s not going to happen quickly, it can happen. And therefore, you end up doing
an end run around some of these really hard cases. Ultimately, some of
them might change. But the thing that will
change the most is not anything that you say. Not any story that you tell or
statistic that you offer or fact that you give them. But simply the example of people
on the move trying to change the institution. Because most people who are
really dug in like that also tend to be very– they just tend to be more
compliant people. That’s why they don’t want to
think outside their existing world view. Because they tend to just exceed
to what they already assume it’s normative. Well, if you start to create
change, right? With or without them. Now, that becomes normative. And now that person that’s very
compliant gets on board. In fact, they’ll get on board
and say they were down with it all the time. Like, oh my god. It’s like people will tell you
they marched with Dr. King. Oh yeah, shit, I was
at every march. I was right there next to him. This person was like seven when
King was killed, but they have added 20 years to their
age just to make you think that they were at some rally. That person or their parents
might have been horribly opposed to the civil
rights movement. But now, 30, 40, 50 years later,
they’re like, oh yeah, I was there. I was at Woodstock. No. No, you weren’t. No. You weren’t there. And so ultimately, you just
create this energy, this movement, that other people
end up feeling– not all of them, but enough of
them– feel compelled to glom onto, even if it’s for
the wrong reasons. Their reasons for wanting to
jump on that bus may not be the same as other people’s,
but if they get on the bus ultimately and take that trip
to whatever location justice is to be found, then
they’ll get there. They may get there with a very
different purpose and a very different level of intent, but
at the end of the day, if they’re there, then you’ve
sort of got them. And so I wouldn’t be my head
against the wall on the hardest cases first. I’d save that until– unless you just feel really
persuasive and energetic and you’ve got nothing else to
do with the five hours. But ultimately, I think that,
for the most part, the thing that gets folks like that is a
sense of inevitability, right? That’s certainly what got
civil rights laws. It wasn’t that Lyndon Johnson
woke up and said, oh my god. I’ve been a stone asshole all
of my life and didn’t even vote for anti-lynching
legislation. Oh my god, I’m a terrible
person. It’s like Nixon didn’t wake up
and say, we’ve been bombing and killing millions of
southeast Asians. What the hell is
wrong with me? I should stop this. That’s not what happened. Ultimately, these individuals
felt that they had no other choice. You could’ve gotten somebody
more dug in on race, in a lot of ways, than someone like
Johnson had been early in his career. You couldn’t get anybody more
dug in on cold war mentality stuff than Nixon. And yet when they felt that they
had no choice, they ended up making decisions they might
not even have wanted to make, but they had to make them. And that’s the power of
movement activity. That’s the power of the
inevitable inertia that you can create your own energy,
with or without those individuals. Thank you all so much. I appreciate you being here. [APPLAUSE]

How to put the power of law in people’s hands | Vivek Maru


I want to tell you about someone. I’m going to call him Ravi Nanda. I’m changing his name
to protect his safety. Ravi’s from a community
of herdspeople in Gujarat on the western coast of India, same place my own family comes from. When he was 10 years old,
his entire community was forced to move because a multinational corporation constructed a manufacturing facility
on the land where they lived. Then, 20 years later,
the same company built a cement factory 100 meters from where they live now. India has got strong
environmental regulations on paper, but this company
has violated many of them. Dust from that factory
covers Ravi’s mustache and everything he wears. I spent just two days in his place,
and I coughed for a week. Ravi says that if people or animals
eat anything that grows in his village or drink the water, they get sick. He says children now walk
long distances with cattle and buffalo to find uncontaminated grazing land. He says many of those kids
have dropped out of school, including three of his own. Ravi has appealed
to the company for years. He said, “I’ve written so many letters
my family could cremate me with them. They wouldn’t need to buy any wood.” (Laughter) He said the company ignored
every one of those letters, and so in 2013, Ravi Nanda decided to use
the last means of protest he thought he had left. He walked to the gates of that factory
with a bucket of petrol in his hands, intending to set himself on fire. Ravi is not alone in his desperation. The UN estimates that worldwide, four billion people live
without basic access to justice. These people face grave threats
to their safety, their livelihoods, their dignity. There are almost always laws on the books
that would protect these people, but they’ve often
never heard of those laws, and the systems that are supposed
to enforce those laws are corrupt or broken or both. We are living with a global
epidemic of injustice, but we’ve been choosing to ignore it. Right now, in Sierra Leone, in Cambodia, in Ethiopia, farmers are being cajoled into putting their thumbprints
on 50-year lease agreements, signing away all the land
they’ve ever known for a pittance without anybody even explaining the terms. Governments seem to think that’s OK. Right now, in the United States, in India, in Slovenia, people like Ravi
are raising their children in the shadow of factories or mines that are poisoning
their air and their water. There are environmental laws
that would protect these people, but many have never seen those laws, let alone having a shot at enforcing them. And the world seems
to have decided that’s OK. What would it take to change that? Law is supposed to be the language we use to translate our dreams about justice into living institutions
that hold us together. Law is supposed to be the difference between a society
ruled by the most powerful and one that honors
the dignity of everyone, strong or weak. That’s why I told
my grandmother 20 years ago that I wanted to go to law school. Grandma didn’t pause.
She didn’t skip a beat. She said to me, “Lawyer is liar.” (Laughter) That was discouraging. (Laughter) But grandma’s right, in a way. Something about law
and lawyers has gone wrong. We lawyers are usually
expensive, first of all, and we tend to focus
on formal court channels that are impractical
for many of the problems people face. Worse, our profession has shrouded law
in a cloak of complexity. Law is like riot gear on a police officer. It’s intimidating and impenetrable, and it’s hard to tell
there’s something human underneath. If we’re going to make justice
a reality for everyone, we need to turn law
from an abstraction or a threat into something that every single person
can understand, use and shape. Lawyers are crucial
in that fight, no doubt, but we can’t leave it to lawyers alone. In health care, for example, we don’t just rely
on doctors to serve patients. We have nurses and midwives
and community health workers. The same should be true of justice. Community legal workers, sometimes we call them
community paralegals, or barefoot lawyers, can be a bridge. These paralegals are from
the communities they serve. They demystify law, break it down into simple terms, and then they help people
look for a solution. They don’t focus on the courts alone. They look everywhere: ministry departments,
local government, an ombudsman’s office. Lawyers sometimes say to their clients, “I’ll handle it for you. I’ve got you.” Paralegals have a different message, not “I’m going to solve it for you,” but “We’re going to solve it together, and in the process,
we’re both going to grow.” Community paralegals
saved my own relationship to law. After about a year in law school,
I almost dropped out. I was thinking maybe I should
have listened to my grandmother. It was when I started
working with paralegals in Sierra Leone, in 2003, that I began feeling hopeful
about the law again, and I have been obsessed ever since. Let me come back to Ravi. 2013, he did reach
the gates of that factory with the bucket of petrol in his hands, but he was arrested
before he could follow through. He didn’t have to spend long in jail, but he felt completely defeated. Then, two years later, he met someone. I’m going to call him Kush. Kush is part of a team
of community paralegals that works for environmental justice
on the Gujarat coast. Kush explained to Ravi
that there was law on his side. Kush translated into Gujarati
something Ravi had never seen. It’s called the “consent to operate.” It’s issued by the state government, and it allows the factory to run only if it complies
with specific conditions. So together, they compared
the legal requirements with reality, they collected evidence, and they drafted an application — not to the courts,
but to two administrative institutions, the Pollution Control Board
and the district administration. Those applications started turning
the creaky wheels of enforcement. A pollution officer
came for a site inspection, and after that, the company
started running an air filtration system it was supposed to have
been using all along. It also started covering the 100 trucks that come and go
from that plant every day. Those two measures
reduced the air pollution considerably. The case is far from over, but learning and using law gave Ravi hope. There are people like Kush
walking alongside people like Ravi in many places. Today, I work with a group called Namati. Namati helps convene a global network dedicated to legal empowerment. All together, we are over
a thousand organizations in 120 countries. Collectively, we deploy
tens of thousands of community paralegals. Let me give you another example. This is Khadija Hamsa. She is one of five million people in Kenya
who faces a discriminatory vetting process when trying to obtain a national ID card. It is like the Jim Crow South
in the United States. If you are from a certain set of tribes, most of them Muslim, you get sent to a different line. Without an ID, you can’t apply for a job. You can’t get a bank loan. You can’t enroll in university. You are excluded from society. Khadija tried off and on to get an ID
for eight years, without success. Then she met a paralegal
working in her community named Hassan Kassim. Hassan explained to Khadija
how vetting works, he helped her gather
the documents she needed, helped prep her to go before
the vetting committee. Finally, she was able to get an ID
with Hassan’s help. First thing she did with it was use it to apply
for birth certificates for her children, which they need in order to go to school. In the United States,
among many other problems, we have a housing crisis. In many cities, 90 percent of the landlords
in housing court have attorneys, while 90 percent of the tenants do not. In New York, a new crew of paralegals — they’re called
Access to Justice Navigators — helps people to understand housing law
and to advocate for themselves. Normally in New York, one out of nine tenants
brought to housing court gets evicted. Researchers took a look at 150 cases in which people had help
from these paralegals, and they found no evictions at all, not one. A little bit of legal empowerment
can go a long way. I see the beginnings of a real movement, but we’re nowhere near what’s necessary. Not yet. In most countries around the world, governments do not provide
a single dollar of support to paralegals like Hassan and Kush. Most governments don’t even recognize
the role paralegals play, or protect paralegals from harm. I also don’t want
to give you the impression that paralegals and their clients
win every time. Not at all. That cement factory behind Ravi’s village, it’s been turning off
the filtration system at night, when it’s least likely
that the company would get caught. Running that filter costs money. Ravi WhatsApps photos
of the polluted night sky. This is one he sent to Kush in May. Ravi says the air is still unbreathable. At one point this year,
Ravi went on hunger strike. Kush was frustrated. He said, “We can win if we use the law.” Ravi said, “I believe in the law, I do, but it’s not getting us far enough.” Whether it’s India, Kenya,
the United States or anywhere else, trying to squeeze justice
out of broken systems is like Ravi’s case. Hope and despair are neck and neck. And so not only do we urgently need
to support and protect the work of barefoot lawyers
around the world, we need to change the systems themselves. Every case a paralegal takes on is a story about how a system
is working in practice. When you put those stories together, it gives you a detailed portrait
of the system as a whole. People can use that information to demand improvements
to laws and policies. In India, paralegals and clients
have drawn on their case experience to propose smarter regulations
for the handling of minerals. In Kenya, paralegals and clients
are using data from thousands of cases to argue that vetting is unconstitutional. This is a different way
of approaching reform. This is not a consultant
flying into Myanmar with a template he’s going
to cut and paste from Macedonia, and this is not an angry tweet. This is about growing reforms
from the experience of ordinary people trying to make the rules and systems work. This transformation in the relationship
between people and law is the right thing to do. It’s also essential for overcoming all of the other
great challenges of our times. We are not going to avert
environmental collapse if the people most affected by pollution don’t have a say in what happens
to the land and the water, and we won’t succeed in reducing poverty
or expanding opportunity if poor people can’t exercise
their basic rights. And I believe we won’t overcome the despair that authoritarian
politicians prey upon if our systems stay rigged. I called Ravi before coming here
to ask permission to share his story. I asked if there was any message
he wanted to give people. He said, “[Gujarati].” Wake up. “[Gujarati].” Don’t be afraid. “[Gujarati].” Fight with paper. By that I think he means
fight using law rather than guns. “[Gujarati].” Maybe not today, maybe not this year,
maybe not in five years, but find justice. If this guy, whose entire community
is being poisoned every single day, who was ready to take his own life — if he’s not giving up on seeking justice, then the world can’t give up either. Ultimately, what Ravi calls
“fighting with paper” is about forging a deeper
version of democracy in which we the people, we don’t just cast ballots
every few years, we take part daily in the rules
and institutions that hold us together, in which everyone,
even the least powerful, can know law, use law and shape law. Making that happen, winning that fight, requires all of us. Thank you guys. Thank you. (Applause) Kelo Kubu: Thanks, Vivek. So I’m going to make a few assumptions that people in this room know
what the Sustainable Development Goals are and how the process works, but I want us to talk a little bit about Goal 16: Peace, justice
and strong institutions. Vivek Maru: Yeah. Anybody remember
the Millennium Development Goals? They were adopted in 2000 by the UN
and governments around the world, and they were for essential,
laudable things. It was reduce child mortality
by two thirds, cut hunger in half, crucial things. But there was no mention
of justice or fairness or accountability or corruption, and we have made progress
during the 15 years when those goals were in effect, but we are way behind
what justice demands, and we’re not going to get there
unless we take justice into account. And so when the debate started
about the next development framework, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, our community came together
around the world to argue that access to justice
and legal empowerment should be a part of that new framework. And there was a lot of resistance. Those things are more political,
more contentious than the other ones, so we didn’t know until the night before
whether it was going to come through. We squeaked by. The 16th out of 17 goals
commits to access to justice for all, which is a big deal. It’s a big deal, yes.
Let’s clap for justice. (Applause) Here’s the scandal, though. The day the goals were adopted, most of them were accompanied
by big commitments: a billion dollars
from the Gates Foundation and the British government for nutrition; 25 billion in public-private financing
for health care for women and children. On access to justice,
we had the words on the paper, but nobody pledged a penny, and so that is the opportunity
and the challenge that we face right now. The world recognizes more than ever before that you can’t have
development without justice, that people can’t improve their lives
if they can’t exercise their rights, and what we need to do now
is turn that rhetoric, turn that principle, into reality. (Applause) KK: How can we help?
What can people in this room do? VM: Great question. Thank you for asking. I would say three things. One is invest. If you have 10 dollars,
or a hundred dollars, a million dollars, consider putting some of it
towards grassroots legal empowerment. It’s important in its own right and it’s crucial for just about
everything else we care about. Number two, push your politicians and your governments
to make this a public priority. Just like health or education,
access to justice should be one of the things
that a government owes its people, and we’re nowhere close to that, neither in rich countries
or poor countries. Number three is:
be a paralegal in your own life. Find an injustice
or a problem where you live. It’s not hard to find, if you look. Is the river being contaminated, the one that passes through
the city where you live? Are there workers getting paid
less than minimum wage or who are working without safety gear? Get to know the people most affected, find out what the rules say, see if you can use those rules
to get a solution. If it doesn’t work, see if you can
come together to improve those rules. Because if we all start knowing law,
using law and shaping law, then we will be building
that deeper version of democracy that I believe our world
desperately needs. (Applause) KK: Thanks so much, Vivek.
VM: Thank you.

How the US government spies on people who protest — including you | Jennifer Granick


We are all activists now. (Applause) Thank you. I’ll just stop here. (Laughter) From the families who are fighting
to maintain funding for public schools, the tens of thousands of people
who joined Occupy Wall Street or marched with Black Lives Matter to protest police brutality
against African Americans, families that join rallies, pro-life and pro-choice, those of us who are afraid that our friends and neighbors
are going to be deported or that they’ll be added to lists because they are Muslim, people who advocate for gun rights
and for gun control and the millions of people
who joined the women’s marches all across the country this last January. (Applause) We are all activists now, and that means that we all have something
to worry about from surveillance. Surveillance means
government collection and use of private and sensitive data about us. And surveillance is essential to law enforcement
and to national security. But the history of surveillance is one that includes surveillance abuses where this sensitive information
has been used against people because of their race, their national origin, their sexual orientation, and in particular,
because of their activism, their political beliefs. About 53 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
gave his “I have a dream” speech on the Mall in Washington. And today the ideas behind this speech
of racial equality and tolerance are so noncontroversial that my daughters
study the speech in third grade. But at the time, Dr. King was extremely controversial. The legendary and notorious
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed, or wanted to believe, that the Civil Rights Movement
was a Soviet communist plot intended to destabilize
the American government. And so Hoover had his agents
put bugs in Dr. King’s hotel rooms, and those bugs picked up conversations
between civil rights leaders talking about the strategies and tactics
of the Civil Rights Movement. They also picked up sounds of Dr. King having sex with women
who were not his wife, and J. Edgar Hoover
saw the opportunity here to discredit and undermine
the Civil Rights Movement. The FBI sent a package of these recordings along with a handwritten note to Dr. King, and a draft of this note
was found in FBI archives years later, and the letter said, “You are no clergyman and you know it. King, like all frauds,
your end is approaching.” The letter even seemed
to encourage Dr. King to commit suicide, saying, “King, there is
only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You better take it before
your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” But the important thing is, Dr. King was not abnormal. Every one of us has something
that we want to hide from somebody. And even more important, J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t abnormal either. The history of surveillance abuses is not the history
of one bad, megalomaniacal man. Throughout his decades at the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed the support
of the presidents that he served, Democratic and Republican alike. After all, it was John F. Kennedy
and his brother Robert Kennedy who knew about and approved
the surveillance of Dr. King. Hoover ran a program
called COINTELPRO for 15 years which was designed
to spy on and undermine civic groups that were devoted
to things like civil rights, the Women’s Rights Movement, and peace groups and anti-war movements. And the surveillance didn’t stop there. Lyndon Baines Johnson, during the election campaign, had the campaign airplane
of his rival Barry Goldwater bugged as part of his effort
to win that election. And then, of course, there was Watergate. Burglars were caught breaking into the Democratic
National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, the Nixon administration was involved
in covering up the burglary, and eventually Nixon
had to step down as president. COINTELPRO and Watergate
were a wake-up call for Americans. Surveillance was out of control and it was being used
to squelch political challengers. And so Americans rose to the occasion and what we did was
we reformed surveillance law. And the primary tool we used
to reform surveillance law was to require a search warrant for the government to be able to get
access to our phone calls and our letters. Now, the reason why
a search warrant is important is because it interposes a judge in the relationship
between investigators and the citizens, and that judge’s job is to make sure that there’s good cause
for the surveillance, that the surveillance
is targeted at the right people, and that the information that’s collected is going to be used
for legitimate government purposes and not for discriminatory ones. This was our system, and what this means is that President Obama
did not wiretap Trump Tower. The system is set up to prevent
something like that from happening without a judge being involved. But what happens when we’re not talking
about phone calls or letters anymore? Today, we have technology that makes it cheap and easy
for the government to collect information on ordinary everyday people. Your phone call records can reveal whether you have an addiction, what your religion is, what charities you donate to, what political candidate you support. And yet, our government
collected, dragnet-style, Americans’ calling records for years. In 2012, the Republican
National Convention highlighted a new technology
it was planning to use, facial recognition, to identify people
who were going to be in the crowd who might be activists or troublemakers and to stop them ahead of time. Today, over 50 percent of American adults have their faceprint
in a government database. The Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concocted a plan to find out what Americans
were going to gun shows by using license plate detectors to scan the license plates of cars that were in the parking lots
of these events. Today, we believe that over 70 percent
of police departments have automatic license plate
detection technology that they’re using to track people’s cars
as they drive through town. And all of this information, the license plates, the faceprints, the phone records, your address books, your buddy lists, the photos that you upload
to Dropbox or Google Photos, and sometimes even
your chats and your emails are not protected
by a warrant requirement. So what that means is we have
all of this information on regular people that’s newly available
at very low expense. It is the golden age for surveillance. Now, every parent is going
to understand what this means. When you have a little baby and the baby’s young, that child is not able
to climb out of its crib. But eventually your little girl gets older and she’s able to climb out of the crib, but you tell her,
“Don’t climb out of the crib. OK?” And every parent knows
what’s going to happen. Some of those babies
are going to climb out of the crib. Right? That’s the difference
between ability and permission. Well, the same thing is true
with the government today. It used to be that our government
didn’t have the ability to do widespread, massive surveillance
on hundreds of millions of Americans and then abuse that information. But now our government has grown up, and we have that technology today. The government has the ability, and that means the law
is more important than ever before. The law is supposed to say when the government
has permission to do it, and it’s supposed to ensure
that there’s some kind of ramification. We notice when those laws are broken and there’s some of kind of
ramification or punishment. The law is more important than ever
because we are now living in a world where only rules
are stopping the government from abusing this information. But the law has fallen down on the job. Particularly since September 11
the law has fallen down on the job, and we do not have
the rules in place that we need. And we are seeing
the ramifications of that. So fusion centers
are these joint task forces between local, state
and federal government that are meant to ferret out
domestic terrorism. And what we’ve seen
is fusion center reports that say that you might be dangerous if you voted for a third-party candidate, or you own a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, or you watched movies that are anti-tax. These same fusion centers have spied
on Muslim community groups’ reading lists and on Quakers who are resisting
military recruiting in high schools. The Internal Revenue Service
has disproportionately audited groups that have “Tea Party”
or “Patriot” in their name. And now customs and border patrol is stopping people
as they come into the country and demanding our social
networking passwords which will allow them
to see who our friends are, what we say and even to impersonate us online. Now, civil libertarians like myself have been trying to draw
people’s attention to these things and fighting against them for years. This was a huge problem
during the Obama administration, but now the problem is worse. When the New York Police Department spies on Muslims or a police department
uses license plate detectors to find out where
the officers’ spouses are or those sorts of things, that is extremely dangerous. But when a president repurposes the power of federal surveillance
and the federal government to retaliate against political opposition, that is a tyranny. And so we are all activists now, and we all have something
to fear from surveillance. But just like in the time
of Dr. Martin Luther King, we can reform the way things are. First of all, use encryption. Encryption protects your information from being inexpensively
and opportunistically collected. It rolls back the golden age
for surveillance. Second, support surveillance reform. Did you know that if you have a friend who works for the French
or German governments or for an international human rights group or for a global oil company that your friend is a valid
foreign intelligence target? And what that means is that when
you have conversations with that friend, the US government
may be collecting that information. And when that information is collected, even though it’s
conversations with Americans, it can then be funneled to the FBI where the FBI is allowed
to search through it without getting a warrant, without probable cause, looking for information about Americans and whatever crimes we may have committed with no need to document
any kind of suspicion. The law that allows some of this to happen is called Section 702
of the FISA Amendments Act, and we have a great opportunity this year, because Section 702
is going to expire at the end of 2017, which means that
Congress’s inertia is on our side if we want reform. And we can pressure our representatives to actually implement
important reforms to this law and protect our data
from this redirection and misuse. And finally, one of the reasons
why things have gotten so out of control is because so much
of what happens with surveillance — the technology, the enabling rules
and the policies that are either there
or not there to protect us — are secret or classified. We need transparency,
and we need to know as Americans what the government is doing in our name so that the surveillance that takes place
and the use of that information is democratically accounted for. We are all activists now, which means that we all have something
to worry about from surveillance. But like in the time
of Dr. Martin Luther King, there is stuff that we can do about it. So please join me, and let’s get to work. Thank you. (Applause)

Governments – Where is your plan? | Extinction Rebellion


[email protected] Our planet is in crisis. You know it, we know it but honestly where is our emergency plan? it’s not good enough we demand our government protects our future generations we demand they stop the destruction of our forests, our oceans and our wildlife no argument oh you want to know what XR demands?
here is what we demand We demand that we are involved in the decision-making it’s our futures too. We demand our governments reduce global carbon emissions to zero within 10 years Yeah ten years! We demand they end any support for the fossil fuel economy and invest in a green economy we demand clean rivers, fresh air, healthy soil We need to work with nature to sort out all that damage We demand the will and action of our Government We demand a fair and just plan that addresses global inequality so that everyone, North and South can adapt to the new world which we must live in We demand training for the young
and retraining for the old to help us all make a new start we have a simple choice to make: Either our governments make hard decisions now
or we all faced tragic consequences later! Where is your plan? Where is your plan? Where’s your plan? Where is your plan? Where is your plan? Where is your plan? Where is your plan? Where is your plan? We only have my lifetime left… Where is your plan?

Can Black Lives Matter & Law Enforcement See Eye To Eye?


The phrase all lives matter was derived from black lives matter to subvert black lives matter and I won’t come here and sit down and say That that’s okay Can I have my law enforcement go to the left pool of light Can I have my black lives matter supporters go to the right pool of light I regularly fear for my life You know, I’m an armed patrol officer so I do Respond to burglar alarms. So if someone breaks into someone’s house, have a gun I would have to respond to that certain situation. So I do fear for my life in a way I guess you can say
-I do something that, I think every black man, every black person in this country, many people of color have been trained to do and That’s when a law enforcement officer gets behind me and I’m driving, I’m making sure I’m signaling. I’m checking my speed I’m thinking of all the different legitimate ways that you could stop me and in that moment I recognized and I realized that I’m not a scholar, with a bachelor’s in political science a bachelor’s in sociology a master’s in public policy.
In that moment, I’m just another black man to that officer, and that scares me. I maybe could have stepped forward I feel scared for my life when I’m at work often when you get pulled over and all the thoughts and things that are going through your mind or where when I pull a car over I’m thinking about where I’m at on the highway, how I’m gonna pull this vehicle over, Did I run the plate? Did it come back to that vehicle?
Am I buckled in? Am I not buckled in? because most officers are shot and killed during traffic stops And as I approach I put my hand on that car to leave my handprint because if I’m shot and killed that person is further Incriminated by the evidence of my prints being on their car But I don’t feel afraid for my life as a citizen but at work I definitely do and that’s a choice I made I choose not to live in fear If the question was do I feel less safe now than I did five years ago I would say yes, and I think that that’s because we have rampant social chaos That’s expanding and I think that that’s playing a large role in a lot of the trends that we’re seeing – What do you mean by social chaos? Um, out of wedlock birth rates Statistically, you know that sets a child back five times more likely to be poor and nine times more likely to drop out of school And 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
-I mean the chaos that I’m seeing more recently is white men walking into schools with ar-15s and slaughtering people yeah, and that is what you’re seeing and what you’re not seeing is the dozens of homicides that occur in Chicago on a daily basis and that speaks to Certainly a media that’s desirous to push an agenda and a narrative. That factually doesn’t bear out.
There is a massive disparity between black crime and white crime at large and obviously that’s going to lead to accelerated interactions with law enforcement.
-Or is it the criminalization of black people?
when you have more police officers patrolling a concentrated area then of course, you have more stops You have more you know situations where police officers say Oh, they didnt signal and then when I pulled them over
I pulled all occupants out of the car I searched the car I found this gun allegedly buried somewhere and all of a sudden now you have a crime. As a public defender The reputation is that you know, I’m going to lose most of my cases. I have won far more cases than I have lost My name is Alisa Blair. I am African American I’m also a criminal defense attorney. As a public defender I’ve seen the mistreatment of my clients I see the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown people and I see the excessive force used in arrests Police should be given more resources. I think police should definitely be given more resources so that they have other options besides killing people.
Officers should have the resources available to them to handle a situation without casualties on either side. Yeah, I mean as an officer I appreciate hearing that from a member of the public and from a public defender and can speak to it for myself and my department and what I’ve seen in other departments in the area and know that we need more resources and different types of training communication techniques to de-escalate situations and different types of least force option techniques but as a small woman, I also want to be able to physically protect myself and it’s It’s a hard balance The largest expense for almost every municipality and county is Public Safety There’s plenty of money But we don’t have is enough implicit bias training the things that we carry about ourselves that define how we interpret who we’re interacting with. We don’t have enough contextualizing of the communities that you’re serving draw officers from the communities from which they serve. That way when they go back and their policing their own community that’s deeper than just the race of the officers So you think that black police officers need to be trained to be more sensitive to the black community?
Is that what you’re saying? No. I think black officers that are policing black community should come from those communities.
And I think a white officer who comes from that community might even be more effective than a black officer from somewhere else.
-I agree And I think I think that that’s a great point which is that an officer, a white officer, a black officer, a female officer, a hispanic officer, could be just as good as any other or better and that’s because there are things other than skin color and I think that what’s so concerning about this dialogue is that it is pushing us further back into black communities, white communities when really I thought that the goal of Martin Luther King was that we’re gonna be moving to a society where we were being judged by the content of our character if we keep moving further into identifying based on our groups I think that we’re doing a disservice to his message, which I think was very powerful and that united the country in many ways – But not at the time in Martin Luther King’s time White folks hated him, it causes me to bristle and have an emotional reaction whenever somebody says You know black people are killing folks 50% in violent crimes and then says Martin Luther King united the country Martin Luther King would be down for Black Lives Matter The next statement is I believe that all lives matter It’s a little bit surprising below all of this stuff below skin deeper than all this there is a Intrinsic god-given life that’s put inside of all of us I think that it’s concerning that any movement would reject the fundamental premise of that, while preaching for equality – Exactly. At that point, you’re really not an equality movement if you’re really only interested in speaking to your specific group I truly believe and I agree with everything that you say. Everyone deserves life and I believe that you know life is a gift Plain and simple all life counts -Yeah all life matters, all life deserves a chance – Yeah, I think that especially in this platform but also in the world in the country that we live in today stating that all lives matter takes away from the inequality that’s happening in the world.
Of course all lives matter. – It negates the fact that something has to be addressed and if you don’t address it, and you don’t recognize that there is a problem that has to be changed then you never fucking change it. But that’s not our intention. Our intention was just an answer a simple question, but it’s not (Talking over each other) – The question is framed as do all lives matter, if you ask me if all lives have intrinsic value, If all lives are valuable, if all lives are worthy I would have said “hell yes” and would have been the first one in my chair. All lives matter is a specific phrase similar to Blue Lives Matter and anything else that mattered after black lives were exclaimed to have mattered to detract, to appropriate, to subvert the message and the framing and the narrative that’s being brought to us by the Black Lives Matter Movement So I don’t think anybody here in this room thinks that any life is less worthy than another’s. But the phrase all lives matter was derived from Black Lives Matter, to subvert Black Lives Matter and I won’t come here and sit down and say that that’s okay. – I mean, I feel like we’re just kind of going into the weeds here.The question wasn’t if black lives matter It was a simple question. Do you believe that all lives matter?- You don’t think that’s an interesting phrase? Is that a phrase you use quite frequently before? – I think not really. I think that you can attach whatever you want right now. That’s a thing I try and step back from you know Whatever sort of identity political stuff we have going on and I try and deal with things head-on Based on reality when someone says to me, do you think all lives matter? I answer unequivocably “yes”, every time the same way if you ask me is black lives matter or female lives matter I will answer the same way. – Do black lives matter.? – Yes. They do. I had conflicting feelings about coming here today. -For me I was conflicted because I don’t feel like I should speak for black oppression, but as a white woman I think that I can be of value to other white people who may not understand I’m Sandra Cruse Well, I’m from the 60s and I went to jail a lot for fighting for women’s rights and as a human being I think it’s important that I speak out and speak up for injustices – I’m feeling conflicted now as Someone who steps into the law enforcement side as if we are on opposite sides I am a law enforcement officer and a Black Lives Matter supporter. I find myself searching for what to do and how to make a difference and I’ve had moments of thinking about leaving the force I finally had a realization that this gives me an opportunity to have a different angle as a white woman and also as a police officer to potentially make a difference.
Even if it’s just with changing myself. – I didn’t hesitate. I’ve been a civilian my entire life and I consider it an honor to have an opportunity to provide voice for law enforcement and the men and women that serve our communities I think it’s fundamentally important for society to respect law enforcement men and women that serve our communities with tremendous honor and distinction end up getting a bad wrap and I think that that’s very harmful. I think that it is important, I think it’s imperative to speak whenever you have an opportunity to and I think that all of us in whatever movements we’re part of or whatever belief systems were part of should use our gifts. – You know de-escalation training is sitting in a room like this with a PowerPoint and walking officers through scenarios and nothing, Nothing in a scenario is ever going to be like the real world. In defense of officers like only those of us that walk in the shoes of having a badge and a gun and being in these high-stress situations can really articulate what it’s like to make these split-second decisions. With our training officers need to be in these types of discussions owning their shit and being like I did this wrong and I have this prejudice
and how can I sit with people who can teach me and change me? – This is what I think is sort of dangerous about a conversation like this Is that really the only thing that I want law enforcement being trained on is the law Okay there’s nebulous conversation about thinking about how I think about things and — – some of us in law enforcement think of ourselves as social workers with a gun – and that’s concerning because your job is to enforce the law.
– As someone in the field who wants more de-escalation training It’s not because I don’t believe in a lot of the laws that I enforce and it is my job to enforce the law I’m not a law warning officer. That’s not what I signed up to do, but we are given the discretion to make choices and that’s why we need more training because we’re human beings just in my perspective and I appreciate your support of law enforcement and your perspective – Yeah, and I appreciate your perspective as well as your your real service that you’ve done So and I don’t want our disagreement…
Certainly don’t take away from my respect and admiration for your service.
-Thank you for your support. – I think we all respect the service of everyone who works to the service of others.
I don’t think anybody in this room is against individual officers.
The conversation is to take a step back and recognize that this institution is a relic of anglo policing from european culture, but also slave catching and deep-rooted racism in American policy and we need to take that step back and recenter this conversation on the fact that it’s bigger than just an officer. – I think part of the problem is that we’re still so segregated. Where do we go to have these conversations? Where do we go to learn from each other to break down the stereotypes? It’s systemic and I am so thrilled that there’s a Black Lives Matter Movement.
It’s really exciting. – Guys thank you so much. I know this hasn’t been an easy one, but I appreciate your time Feel free to continue the discussion if you’d like outside It’s a pleasure I really appreciate you speaking your truth and hearing mine as well. I really appreciate all of you guys. Okay, real pleasure. -Likeways, yes, thank you. Hey guys, I’m Jason and I’m Dan and we just want say thank you once again for watching another episode of middle ground As always, let us know in the comments what you think we want to get into these issues We want to be able to heal divides We want to be able to cross boundaries and also let us know what you think Future episodes should be about.
Click here to subscribe to more videos click here to watch more videos, and we will catch you guys next time, nigga.

Barack Obama takes on ‘woke’ call-out culture: ‘That’s not activism’


you know this idea of purity
and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and
all that stuff, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy, there are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids
and share certain things with you and I think that one danger I see among
young people and particularly among college campuses – Malia
and I talk about this, Yara goes to school with my daughter – but I do get a sense sometimes now
among young people and this is accelerated by social media, there is this sense sometimes that
the way of me making change is to be as judgemental as possible
about other people and that’s enough. If I tweet or hashtag about how you
didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb or … then I can sit back
and feel pretty good about myself because man, you see how woke I was?
I called you out. [laughter] Then I get on TV, watch my show,
watch Grown-ish. [laughter] You know, that’s not, that’s not activism.
That’s not bringing about change, you know. If all you’re doing is casting stones,
you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.
[applause]