Bakari Sellers: A Vanishing Country

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Bakari Sellers: A Vanishing Country

I was 10 11 12 they don’t remember in line for the movies and my there were two guys in line in front of us like three or four people in front of us holding hands and my mother pulled me to her not my siblings just me and looked at my father and said they’re weird which does made me look at those guys that I went oh now I got it I’m weird like they’re weird and and I looked at them and I thought they look happy they look like they’re in love and born brings you incredible stories I left two days before the Revolution it killed me so hard James has never experienced the taste of fruits that haven’t been attacked by pesticides just like he’s never experienced a neighborhood that hasn’t been attacked by bullets some things just go hand in hand people say what’s on their mind I think that it is a a cardinal sin July 2 the American people about war partisanship is a version of narcissism in downtown San Francisco the Commonwealth clubs in Forum curates events that bring you face to face with the world’s changemakers one-third of the wage gains that women have made since the 1960s were made as a result of the birth control pill Twitter is a technology that I don’t think we’ve seen before in this world since 1903 the most innovative leaders have come to the Commonwealth Club to share their vision sharing cars sharing their homes sharing sharing a shared dream a shareable American dream that could work you each can play a role in helping us chart a better future housing and health and education and policy I’ll live close to the surface in us when our children are murdered it’s all the same story we bring together the visionaries shaping the emerging trends in technology it was a combination of instant and telegram it was the idea that you could take a moment in time and you could capture it you could just send it out and broadcast it with the entire world I just threw the site together in about a week when I was at school we’ve got angels we’ve got incubators we’ve got accelerators we’ve gotten seed funds we’ve got crowdfunding we eat we drink one of our first dates ever we’ve pickled like a hundred pounds of herring and yeah we never shy away 75% of the people this country want universal health care and expect it and damn it let’s go concentrated deep slow loving tender passionate sex whether you want to be on the cusp of current events or feast on pop culture I should have a great time writing I shouldn’t write a book that is as fun as any party I’d be skipping inform events are fun and action-packed I have an anthropology scarf that does that twisting okay so come feed your mind and soul and celebrate the future with in forum I love San Francisco and every time I come back here I remember that this is the only city in America that has magic hi everyone I’m crystal Contreras and I’m the director of inform thank you for joining us today for our virtual program with Bakari sellers we’re here to discuss his new book my vanishing country and he will be in conversation with policy links dr. Michael McAfee if you’d like to ask either of our speakers a question during this program you can do that in the comment or chat section of this livestream the Commonwealth Club has temporarily suspended in-person events but to keep the public informed during this outbreak we are going full speed ahead with a full slate of live online programs these programs are currently free to the public so we ask that you consider making a donation to help us continue our work you can visit Commonwealth Club org slash online to learn more and you can also text the word donate two four one five three two nine four two three one during this program now please join me in welcoming Bakari sellers and dr. Michael McAfee to inform hello and welcome to today’s virtual program with inform at a Commonwealth Club I am Dr. Michael McAfe,e president and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focusing on racial and economic equity I’m pleased to be in conversation with brother Bakari Sellers. He became the youngest African-American elected official in the country and represented South Carolina’s congressional district

today we’ll be talking about his new memoir my vanishing country which is now available for purchase at your local bookstores and also in New York Times bestsellers a congratulations card in it he tells the story of his family and the story of countless families across America especially the black working class if you’d like to ask him a question please ask it in the chat you’re watching on youtube or in the comments if you’re watching on Facebook so now we’re just going to dive in and begin to ask a series of questions and Corey I appreciate before we start in the generosity of allowing me to ask whatever the spirit moved me to ask and so I really wanted to start just really on what a deep sense of gratitude for your voice your voice around justice your voice around reminding folks that race still matters yeah and actually well as you say in the book using empathy as a volume for suffering so I wanted to thank you for how you show up in Africa and I wanted to start our thanks are out of the way with this a simple question how are you feeling listen up you can’t pull you off your best Don Lemon impersonation and not let me give some things back so honey let me say think so it’s a it’s a privilege to be here with you I wish that I was in San Francisco I wish that I was traveling I wish that I was able to I’m an extrovert and so thank you for checking on me because extrovert is doing this time from the south you know I shake hands I hug you know those things are so passe in 2020 that’s right and today is just a it’s a weirdly emotional day I mean so we get to have this conversation as as I’m looking at my phone in my clock right now it’s George Floyd’s body is finally getting the dirt and he being buried you know as we speak in Houston Texas and so for those people who were watching just know and say a prayer for his family and I’m from a big city you know where we got three whole stoplights in a blinking light mm-hmm my mom and dad my mom and dad would always say that the two most important words in the English language other words thank you because they’re not nearly said enough and so I have to say thank you to the Commonwealth Club I had to say thank you to you everyone was watching everyone who’s pulled up you know a boding chair or listening to this however they are streaming we’re supporting for those who had in the support supported yet those who will to come from Denmark South Carolina and literally the first New York Times bestselling author from my city big city that bet hey that means a lot you know then I also need to apologize because you’re probably going to hear the voices of to 17 month-old twins running through this house at some point Satan Stokely they’re my they’re my heartbeat they’re 15 year old sister I just got her permit but she’s upstairs man about something we can talk about that too I don’t know what in teenagers but my twins are running around but all in all I’m happy to be here you ask me how am i doing um so that answer is is to foe and let me be completely honest as will be throughout this discussion the first and I thought I highlighted in the book my wife last year January 7th 528 Stokely was born 533 Sadie was born by about 10 11 o’clock at night she was passed out she was feeling warm she threw up her eyes rolled in the back of her head it was just me her and a lactation special she was trying to we were trying to learn how to breastfeed and twin babies I never forget that night it was just I know one was moving fast enough for me the nurses were taking their time finally as we had a relationship it was three black women who were the OBGYNs in my wife’s practice I knew them I called them up I had them come to the hospital they came as quickly as I can one of the OBGYNs actually had an 8 year old child she left her garage open and called her neighbor to come over and watch her daughter while her daughter was still asleep I mean that’s the type of care that they provided because I told him something wasn’t right with my wife she just wasn’t right and the nurses although she had passed out and kind of come to they just weren’t giving her the proper attention we found out she lost seven units of blood she was hemorrhaging she spent the first 36 hours of our children’s life ICU and so went through a lot with that moment and you know the overlay of politics

african-american women or four times more likely to die in childbirth in their white colleagues or counterparts and then two months later our little girl Sadie she was still a little bit yellow we couldn’t figure it out she still a little bit yellow we went to the pediatrician and our pediatrician called us back when it’s Saturday and you should know that if your pediatrician ever calls you on a Saturday it’s not a good thing and our pediatrician let us know that we needed to go to the hospital as quickly as possible Sadie got diagnosis familiar treason we had a Kasai procedure which is a procedure where they try to connect your large intestine to your liver that didn’t work we ended up going to Duke University she was on the liver transplant Ladyland waiting list for 93 days she got a transplant on it summer first and we’re so blessed and so fortunate she got the gifts of life she’s thriving she’s running around here she loved the camera I don’t know where she got that from is she coming from her daddy but I’m not sure where I say you asking how I’m doing and I can tell you that even though we’re in quarantine and even though there is so much going on around this um my family was gay because we’re all healthy and we’re all together and we’re all happy so we counted all this joy that’s right thank you for sharing know that did you started there you know I feel the same sense of privilege and gratitude and really just full of being blessed that I get to work and do what I love but the employees are policy leader able to continue to work through this time but you said something in your book that was really important because it speaks to something that I’m holding and I wanted you to explain it a little bit more you said anger being angry is in the sea yeah yeah and I feel deeply angry right now in some ways also guilty because of how we’re taking care of and angry that angry because of what I see in the world angry because I don’t have full confidence that leaders like us will translate that tension from the street but demand in the street into really the transformative action that folks have and so I’m I’m trying to hold that and channel into productive ways but that anger is not a sin spoke to me in your book so I’d love for you to just share more about that so the crazy thing is and yes I came I know this is why I wanted to name the book bed I want to name the book anger is not a sin and my publisher and everyone else we were having these conversations about the pictures that were painted in the book and the story about country and being country right country versus southern red is like it’s a it’s a whole thing in the book and not just that but the country and the ideals of the country hold but you know I’ve always learned and it’s always been sizzling in my spirit as they say as the comedian country winning says it’s been sizzling in my spirit that anger is not a sin and too many people treated as such the trick though is that you can allow anger to paralyze you right you have to allow anger to manifest itself into productivity which is very difficult to do but it’s it’s it’s righteous and those people who have that righteous anger who are in the streets protesting right now I’m with them on hundred and ten percent the best example I can give and I mean to be jumping on in front of your questions and wherever you have it go where do you wanna go you know the Traulsen Massacre for me we’re Dylan Roof I was I was in Charleston you know and I know when I write about it I was a block away from when that happened I was with Hillary Clinton and some others I knew Clements I think me so well he would have been perfect for this moment and you know Clem led a straggling white boy did they never seen before into Bible study and he set him down right by him and Bible study he didn’t sit him on the others how to turn didn’t lock him out like it was tracking white boy with a backpack whop on your door right now what you gonna do right exactly Bible study Wednesday what did they do they let him in the church right they let him in that’s what to do that’s what you’re supposed to do they had a full hour of worship and learning and experience Clem set him right by him so that this new kid that they didn’t know I mean this is sounds really weird but they treat it they treat it Dylan Roof like you would hope to treat Jesus when you meet up that’s right that’s right like a refugee like somebody you don’t know somebody who’s just here to get the word they set him right by the preacher and when they pray their benediction he shot and Clem was so strong Clem made it all the way to the church I mean all the way to the hospital scuse me eight others would kill he stood over Pali Shepherd and asked and told piling that he was gonna let her live Polly’s old car is like 80 years old now if he said

I’m gonna let you live but I want you to own sure go ahead and tell the story for everyone who’s watching or who will watch please whenever you’re in in Charleston actually we’re Lee and I think that compared Charleston to San Francisco often I’m gonna just in terms of the sheer beauty of the city but when you’re in Charleston let me know I’ll take you to mother Emanuel AME and when you get to anger isn’t out of sin I tell that story because there are a lot of people in that church who are further along in their Christian journey further along in their religious journey and they can forgive Dylan roof yeah and I can and personally I’m not there personally that story it makes me angry you seein me on the back of George Floyd’s neck makes me angry you know I’ve stated this many times since the video George fluid came out and to be black in this country as being in the federal state of grieving because we went from anger to immense sadness back to anger back to the rage back to clear eye for justice today it was a homegoing celebration right and for all the white close to a watching the funeral today yes we do that for health roles that is the way that we do welcome to the black church and usually that you didn’t get was a repast because usually after the funeral you get to go into the little cafeteria in the church and you get your fried chicken or fried whitey and you get your macaroni and cheese and your rice is great and you do all of those things didn’t get that today but that’s usually what happened but we go through these stages of grief and grieving and I’m angry I really am and your anger is should be noted one of the things you should challenge yourself down near the challenge should not be to not be angry that’s the rough dungeon I’m not a young opens on I love her but I’m not her she’s she’s smart I am but don’t don’t don’t look at your anger as a sin never but challenge yourself to meet this moment because because of the country we’ve met we’ve been in moments like this before and we sorely missed we had a moment in 1955 when people saw the image of him it seal we’ve had a moment on the Edmund Pettus Bridge went for the first time in primetime news the 6 o’clock to 5:30 6 o’clock news there’s images where people were getting beaten and bludgeoned on Edmund Pettis bridge in Alabama we had an opportunity after the President of the United States sang amazing grace the general come inside Pinkney and we missed all of these moments let’s make this moment sure then so in order to make it true how did you Center how do you stop this thing that happens we’ll we sinner what comfort over black pain like I said I don’t know how you I don’t know how we move forward if everything has to be juxtaposed but you whether you’re white black or whatever quite frankly whether I’m comfortable with it but I’m comin with you can edit you looking at the wrong life you have to allow yourself to let go of some of this stuff yeah and if we cable-tv I would have curse write it in because I I can’t cuss on wolf but I meant first like on Don Lemon and aim right later in the night right you have to lie to yourself the lake bolus some of this stuff right yeah it’s not on white folk to cure this world or racism like limit they’re more like it’s not it’s not sure it’s not on you what one of the things that that I wrote this book my vanishing country and I wanted to tell my truth just as every day you go to work you try to speak truth to power right yeah and I’m not sure everybody understands so let’s let’s back up because gonna forgive weird we’re 20 minutes into a discussion and I haven’t really framed the discussion so I apologize I mean let me reframe the discussion here again I like to define what racism is so people understand it um Stokely Carmichael defines racism as this he says that if you want to lynch me that’s your problem but if you have the power to lynch me that’s my problem see racism is a power construct right it’s not somebody calling you nigger it’s these systems of oppression that people live under it’s the fact that Flint and did mark South Carolina where I’m from still don’t have clean water it’s the fact that children in this country are still punished because of the zip code that they’re born into it’s the fact that the fastest the fastest growing small businesses we have in the United States of America are owned by black women yet many times over they are the ones who have limited access to capital and resources right it’s the fact that we have lack of access to quality here in our communities in the rural South where hospitals are closing where

many people live in food deserts which y’all big city folks probably take for granted but where I’m from where I wrote about you notice it’s 2 to 3 miles to the nearest to the nearest grocery store where you can get fresh vegetables it’s more than that right and so when you think about these systems of oppression that is what we’re talking about this is larger than jewelers Floyd right this is larger than Ghana this is larger than a month on this this is the systemic racism and injustice that we’re talking about and when I say that it’s not on us to to remedy this country of discouraging races and one of the things I want to highlight though is that we have to begin to have very very difficult conversations right now in this country we have an empathy deficit and in order to make up that deficit of empathy we have to begin to listen we have to begin to understand and everybody’s not going to be a social justice advocate everybody’s not coins I have to make a statement for example I’m a huge Tiger Woods fan this statement was weak sauce I’m a huge I used to like the Knicks a little bit not as much recently but their statement could it they could have kept it flex on top you don’t have to make a statement sometimes you can read a book and when I wrote my the editing country I wrote it so that we could get some pride and hope but then when people read it and wanted to know about the experience what it meant to be black in this country the experience of the pain from the Orangeburg massacre that I write about where my father was shot to the Charleston massacre we’re able to get some understanding about the struggles they’re in that’s right thank you for sharing this are you comfortable talking about how that massacre has shaped and just some things that your father you hadn’t yet I’m literally an open book I love the rich part of the horrible pun but you know you you get I am a I’m literally an open book all right sure sure something first I want you to share I know how magic will be in the South and West Point Mississippi was for me in the summer times just some of those fondest memories you have of just being a boy in didn’t want in that region and then connected to what did you pick from your parents that shaped who you are right now and then just bring that right on up into what was your mind it’s tell you and in beauty that’s owed you and we lead a team are they they just and their mom was trying to stop him from coming in but this is what happens so this is so babies you just they just jump in so just ugly Haiti and they love the camera so grown up in Denmark you wait she went bitch in Denmark will you had three stoplights in a blinking light right wicker it’s a country city where everybody knows your name you realize that you’re very very rich in experiences you’re originally bar you could rich and understanding that you can be unapologetic in your blackness right but I don’t recognize you don’t necessarily recognize the poverty around you we may be wise that if it was a really really poor community I’d be an example in the book I talk about examples right I would I didn’t run those that was pretty redundant but in the book we talk about the number one thing you can do as a person of color is be an example right we highlight that and one of the things that we used to do and did more South Carolina as my kids I’m not going crazy one of the things I used to do in Denmark South Carolina I was take our we had a we had a recreation center that my father ran right and every year every summer we would take the kids to curious care wins looks like um how can I explain it cure wins is like a bootleg six flashes right it’s our think park is close by it’s like mcdow’s and coming to America do you remember that okay yeah that’s right anybody who doesn’t know that milk if you watch coming so Mary McDowell’s the knockout from McDonald said that’s what it’s like notice what is on the it’s on the it’s on the border of North Carolina in South County we take kids every year after the Demark recreation center sort program every year we get on the bus and we would go up to Carolyn’s and it wasn’t the turkey legs it wasn’t the big bags popcorn it wasn’t the thing part of the big rides people where I’m from they wanted to stand on the border they wanted to straddle the border between North Carolina and South Carolina and take

pictures the reason I want to do that is because they wanted to be able to tell people that they literally had left South Carolina that they had seen something else they they had been somewhere like the big were no longer defined by – 904 – which was our zip code and so the power of an example in my my mother and father was so intentional about it and if you don’t I mean if people are watching this and they get a kick out of meeting you and they don’t remember a whole lot they were like you know today was a busy day but I got a chance to tune into this YouTube for three or four minutes it was alright just remember this one piece like rededicate yourself to being intentional and purposeful and everything that you did especially when it comes to raising your children especially when it comes to being advocates for justice right and my parents were very very intentional and purposeful I’m a product that private it takes a village to raise a child and my village had Stokely Carmichael and Marion Barry Julia and bottling Kathleen cleaver Ella Baker then Lou Hamer you know that’s who we either knew directly or my father was friends with who passed away before I was born and I was able to learn from them Willie Riggs I mean you meant Stokely a minute ago snuggly after Stokely Carmichael and because I had this this village I mean the lens that I contextualized things through is from being a child of the movement and that’s how I look at things politically culturally and socially as a child of the movement I can you know just their struggles it helped me with the perseverance and keep keep going you know thinking about the struggles of Bob Moses you know I don’t know when you’re writing your book have you written your book yet or not I hope you’re working on it and trick writing the book that let me tell you something going back to be an extensional and purposeful there’s nothing like there’s a lot of stuff you said you were gonna do but you didn’t have time all right God given you a lot of time right now oh you don’t have any excuse that’s first exactly right 15 minutes a day at minimum sit down i sat down and wrote for it minimum 15 minutes a day you should do that some days longer but to sit still in a place for 15 minutes a day and you and you’ll get it done but but as you are going through this process as you share your story yeah one of the things you realize though is that telling your truth and putting those words on paper I’m like I was able to be doing my vanishing country it’s not only cathartic in therapeutic but it actually will help because we come from with people of storytellers it will help ensure that we’re able to pass down those stories from one generation to another and some of the stories you have can fill in the gap for others who know you can stand in the gap for that proverbial it takes a village to raise a child you can be somebody’s a part of somebody’s village just by the stories they pick up and reach record when you would stand on that board and as a little boy where did you project yourself you so my parents always tell me we could be a change agent mm-hmm no hobby a year I don’t know if I thought I would we would be here is that the question that you’re asking like if I thought we would be at this point at this moment if I thought I would be at this moment yeah I was thinking more about as you think about your own sense of purpose for your own life but in your head and you were standing on that border talking about folks when I’m alone and somewhere did you have a sense of where you want it to be yeah I did I did I did I did you firm firmly I did that’s it that’s my people soul so I was curious about your pretty enough firmly I did and part of the reason was because my parents said if you wanted to be a doctor to be okay well this is gonna sound weird but at that time if you want to be a doctor be Benjamin Carson yeah yeah the same ring that it wants watch it you know that in black churches especially throughout the south yeah you had pictures of Jesus Martin Luther King and Bing person all right those are the pictures you had in the end there in the repast hall we don’t like that things have changed so no but they would say if you want to be a doctor be in big cars if you want to be a lawyer be Thurgood Marshall if you want to be a politician I had pictured my room I have my side of the room I still have pictures of Nelson Mandela Wow yeah yeah yeah I knew I was purposeful even then my parents made sure they also just they treated me with so many experiences that although we were sharing these experiences with

other kids in my hometown other kids in my neighborhood they were very very honest about the fact that I even though I was black in this world I couldn’t be anything I wanted to be yeah did you feel you talked about growing up and you talked about not knowing you were in poverty I didn’t feel that I I mean for moments if it was generally a lot of fun and especially in the summer time but I’m trying to juxtapose that with a lot of folks who are white in rural America who are feeling left out how do you connect as a bridge if at all right now to some of this anxiety of what people would call flyover country feeling disconnected from the opportunity centers in the nation it seems like your story could be one and how you show up could be a bridge to some of this tension where we see ourselves as other and not connect so yeah you you you’re talking about things you that’s a again here you go challenge to you now you’re now you’re in Chris Cuomo and it’s a Cooper rear katia right here you ask you really good questions so you’re asking something that we don’t really do a lot of yeah in the media when you say working-class they mean white when they say rule they mean one when it’s a urban though that means me and you this is a urban urban conversation all right one of the things I try to do in my bench in country with debunk those and throw those on their head mm-hmm they that we had these rule working-class folks now the other thing that I talk about in the lack because this book is not a it’s not a as you realize it’s a it’s a political book but it’s not partisan at all there’s nothing in this book that is like truly Democrat versus Republican it’s no I didn’t feel as if I that would muddle my waist I felt like there were so many things that we could say without having to go down that path of the distance but I don’t believe in economic anxiety is a true theme that’s pervasive in this country the incoming anxiety is a myth I think we have a lot of cultural anxiety is rooted in race I think the fact that the Browning of this country is petrifying a large group of people that they feel as if they’re gonna be replaced by immigrants they feel is it they’re going to be replaced by others and for me I’m very cognizant of that and I have to push back on that where there can be a bridge built though I think there should be because I really believe that there are some common bonds between socio-economic levels in this country and I think that if you’re poor in this country you have not all but many of the same struggles when you talk about the bridge and you use a word in the book only do you think that’s essential to that bridge being able to be built and what does that what does that word mean for you and what does the work look like it is a path to building the grinch you got a so yeah I mean I and I find that in the sense that black people are always in a position where we have to forgive like we talked about that earlier like even rude they’re like when are y’all going y’all forgive like the family and George Floyd’s family do you forgive the officers I mean then there be certain members of the family of course that forgive etcetera etcetera the wire black folk always in this position to forgive and so the wild thing is and I’m nada I arrived without Sharpton but I’m not like a huge I’ll Sharpton pin we’re friends but it’s it’s you know I don’t necessarily put him in the same category as I put a Stokely or others but today he said something that was really refreshing and he talked about the power of a name mm-hmm and I thought about that a lot like you know I’m 35 years old I have a beautiful family yeah I have a New York Times bestselling book about my story and every time I sign that book astatine the name of someone who owned by him right like when I sign my name Bakari sellers the last name is not the name that my family adorned that is the name that was given to my family when we got off of ships from West Africa on the coast of South Carolina like that is how pervasive and profound that is so even and one of my pinnacles and highest moments that I will achieve in this world having this level of success even when I sign my name I’m signing the name of someone who wants to own my family and put them through degradation oppression etc and so when you when you

think about that type of position that that you have you recognize that when I write in my vanishing country is true that we’ve made a lot of progress but we still have so far you’ve also talked in your book as you think about progress constructive is you worry when you were in office being frustrated with some of the elected leaders who you thought maybe have lost their way a little bit in terms of serving gun getting that right yeah right so like listen what church do you go to church my father said I had this conversation I’ll throw him out here no I don’t want you pastor call on me so yeah I you know that when we were that when our fathers were toiling in the vineyard the black church was the epicenter for social justice and change right this way and I just feel like right now it’s reclaiming that weirdly enough like Al Sharpton today I think began what TV and others wanted to do which was reclaiming the purpose of the black church I just I wanted to challenge institutions to be better than they were because for a long period of time the black church became a place where you wanted to figure out if you were a megachurch or how many branches you could have right right it wasn’t focused on being the epicenter of sustenance to both heal you spiritually emotionally etc it wasn’t the place where we you went to ensure that it was the upper center for community involvement engagement voter activity etc it got focused but now right now it’s all hands on deck and I think we I don’t have a problem with challenging these institutions at all in the book I challenge this this country and their people who have a more conservative bent who will chastise me for having the audacity to challenge the United States of America and I’m very firm in my stance that my father the blood of my family literally runs to the soil of this great country like my father was shot February 8 1968 so that he could bold so that he could bring a end to the injustice that we saw through the Jim Crow South and so I have just as much claim to this country as anyone else which means that I can push to make it better yeah Wow nope when I’m listening to you talk I often think about them you sharing your spiritual orientation the power of what your family says but if I make the leap or if I’m listening carefully the way you love humanity is very evident yeah but I often hear people say that love is weak and so I would love to hear is what you think about what does this nation go if it can’t figure out how to love black people and why is that so important while not saying you’re at the exclusion of others what does this nation go they can’t figure out how about blackboard well let me just start off by saying it love is weak they call me the weakest sob on earth cook I’ll be that yeah because I am a lover and I’m a very emotional being I write about it you I write about in the book I think you probably can count 12 times where I cried look I just you know I am I am someone who falls in love and I love heart like I fell in love with this country and everything it could be and everything it can be but I’m also petrified maybe this is a part of my next book I’m petrified because there’s a large portion of this country that does not get people of color the benefit of their humanity like people watching I mean even if you’re teetering if you if you if you hung on this long then you must like me and you might maybe they just hanging over you but like ask yourself do you know anybody who can put their knee on the neck of somebody else for 8 minutes and 46 seconds like you can’t even do that to a doll right right and I made the mistake that’s why I love social media and hate it I made the mistake of saying that they treated George Floyd like a dog I said it like last Wednesday and somebody tweeted me directly in the cipa card you know George Floyd would have been a dog they would have arrested all four officers Landon that’s right

and when you’re raising black children in this country I have a 15 year old daughter 17 month-old twins I mean that the question remains like like what do we tell them other than the truth my daughter was protesting yesterday it was a proud moment she was out there and she wanted to go by herself she and her girlfriends they went they would have met they made their sons they went out yeah we dropped them off we picked them up um but like why does my daughter have to protest for like have some ahead why why can’t she just be 15 right like what exactly like why can’t she just why does she have to be so cognizant why does she have to work so hard and so diligent in proving to people her value so we have a long way to go that’s the truth of the matter and I think that you’re you asked a really really good question that and you know the weird question I get back to this whole thing it’s not for black people to eradicate cuz I know you’ve had a lot of your white friends call you and they’re like what can I do right which is cool I get it hate the question but I understand it I like the first step out you know I I appreciate that in people then ask me they’re like well tell me about that conversation because I always talk about the fact that you know we have to have a conversation with our sons and daughters that white folk don’t have to end that’s right within I think and I’m like what do i plug these dead children like are y’all teaching your children that my daughter life matters I mean are they watching you and are you in your work are you empowering black folk around you so that your child can see that are you talking to them with dignity and respect even when they’re not on the phone with you anymore you know are you are you valley are you valuing them are you are you teaching them to that and you others are you teaching people your children to love humanity like all of us I mean those are the that’s the question that I have I know what you’re teaching your kids mine you’re teaching your kids how to stay alive yeah that’s what I’m teaching my kids how to stay alive right but I wonder you know what a white parents teaching their children and maybe that’s real heavy for you know an informed Commonwealth conversation about a bulletin but and we got to have these conversations I think these conversations are difficult healthy but necessary and I hope that when people read this book it is spur more those conversations yeah you know you thank you for sharing that you know you can put an excellent marker down and really starts with what are we doing in the home if we want to get past this moment I know a lot of money is circulating right now a lot of folks throwing money at stuff but you’re right shoulder grandchildren etc there’s a whole lacking with it doesn’t cost money and when you think about then all this money that’s flowing around but isn’t ending to the structural stuff anything but people may feel good by doing when you think about your leadership voice what are you beginning to think about ways to help people hold both of those tensions yes to resolving stuff related to the pandemic yes to beginning to invest in institutions led by people of color especially organizations like the movement for black lives matter and other movement black lives and others but how do we get people to make this shit because it seems so difficult and I’m watching this play out around police Li where I can’t tell you how many folks are called and said wait you can come down on police in the U for abolition being fun how whatever you want to call it I’m like we’re getting ready to do it again which is not answer the question is this an institution that is liberating brush is oppressed we are now into slicing and dicing the language that is further dividing us within movement before we even get to folks who don’t even care about this conversation so when you think about that what are you thinking about in your leadership waste of your actions but they’re going to help us make this bridge finally getting to a place where we can send to some of the structural stuff in this nation well I feel like I had the answer I had the answer one question that I want the way I want to answer directly first to answer the question the way I want to in my vanishing country I define leadership but I think people just have it all types of screwed up sure that what was with that your definition yeah leadership is not having followers you know people think that when you’re a pastor in a pulpit or when you’re a CEO and you have the people up under you or followers to your leader that’s not that’s not it at all because leaders forget other leaders if you don’t have people around you they can go out and lead and organize in their respective communities you are not a leader you are a false prophet okay that’s what is that’s what’s wrong and so you have to make sure that you’re cultivating others around you that can go out and lead in their respective places that’s marvelous the second thing is we’re having a conversation I wrote

an op-ed piece I’m seeing in that recently about I mean just recently about you know some of the things we can do around please and then people start talking about the funds leasing abolition and all this other stuff when you down 9-1-1 you are going to that police that show up no one is saying that should not be the case I do think Democrats suck in messaging though they have and they always will and proverbial bed-wetters in a really bad messaging because the fun police is just an awful slogan but what people are saying is that you should go line by line even Scott Walker today was like let’s talk about reforming the police you should go line and as your militarizing you know the LA Police Department is 55% of the city budget 55% that roams right it has military vehicles what all we’re saying is that some of those dollars can go to I don’t know summer jobs programs some of those jobs can go to mental health awareness programs because even if law enforcement will tell you that when there’s a mental health crisis why are they the first ones to show up that’s right they don’t want to be the first one they don’t have the training they don’t want to be the first ones to show up you can you can put that money into drug rehabilitation programs like theirs there are a lot of things we can do to make it preventive and people are like what are you gonna do a limited police limited policing like we had limited policing right now all you need to do is go to the suburbs I mean that’s all you got to do you want to see limited policing go to the suburb you see it ain’t no police out there mmm so my only point is no one is trying and I actually think you can play police officers more yeah I think you can trim the budget get rid of all the fat pay people who do this work so they don’t have to work two jobs you have any police office I know who work at bars yeah just to make their hands me they should not have to do that right but I think that we can trim off millions of dollars from our policing budgets put those into programs that actually work pay police officers more and I think that you can actually get to the pro to the point but right now you’re right people don’t care about nuance everybody wants to talk about the slogan switch to be a Democrat is hard I don’t know we just churn out really bad slogans I don’t know who we’re paying to be slogans but they we’ve got about ten minutes left I would love to just take a moment and let you think about what are some things that you want to share from the book with the audience so the book is cool and one of the things that I always tell people is a lot of people look at the perspective of race through the context of their lifetime mm-hmm I hope that people look at race through some historical context which I try to add and I talk about my father’s journey from 1955 I’m an image tool through a Jimmie Lee Jackson snake Quarter Massacre through the highs to me being the youngest black elected official in country the lows of Charleston come out in the book and talk about my anxiety you know races that I’ve won races that I’ve lost to HBCU experience at the end of the day I think when black Pope read it don’t get a sense apply I hope when others read it they get a sense of understanding at the end of the day recognize that my trauma is not your trauma but we can persevere together that’s gonna go thank you thank you Bakari you talked about a couple of them less just one more to one or two more questions and then I want to move on to some of these great questions you did talk about you talked about the agency you experienced you seem to have this really wonderful brother what does that what does what does brothers would be to you I mean I know folks who brothers have gone to Morehouse and the camaraderie the unity you see it is like long what does that mean to you as you continue to evolve as a man what have you taken that connected instead of buzz I mean Morehouse was an interesting school because I tell people that we were not an HBCU that was Oh mail and they like and I’m like it’s the most diverse place on earth we have people from all 50 states hundred countries the leadership they teach you you have to recognize him or else we have Julian Manor David Satcher Edwin Moses spike lee samuel l.jackson I write antidotes in a book about stimulate axon we never knew you know I’ll tell you one I won’t tell you the other you got to read the book to find the other but one you know Samuel Jackson walked behind the casket of dr. King was killed when you read the other part of samuel l.jackson story while he had to take it involuntary hiatus from Morehouse it’s gonna open your eyes but we had dr. King of course it was just they put a crown above your head for winter and my parents gave me choices my mom and dad

said you can go to any school you want to go to in the country as long as it’s an HPC Commons but it was it was an awesome experience going in you know I hope my children decide on a ham Hampton Howard Morehouse Spellman fan I mean I go to Wow are you still close to some of the fellows that you just talk about in the book the ones who reared you in basketball and others oh yeah those are my guys I mean I don’t know median stately marry I’m sending the family and both the Amato are very case down the Taylor case and he’s represent family and he and bankrupt for representing the family and Minneapolis you know John bacon of Washington home and school it’s great acting Denzel son I just all these guys man this is all right they keep you humble if nothing else that’s right that’s right well thank you for sharing that I’m gonna move to some of these questions these are really good let me start with them what do you think should be on the short list of advice graduate the vice president should be Pamela Harris I think Amy Klobuchar is no longer on the list I think Tomlin here this is a layup but as we know Democrats miss layups all the time right now I mean because it’s just me and you and if you’re not close friends here I can say I believe the short list from for the good sources is Susan Rice Kamala Lujan Grisham who’s a governor of New Mexico you will probably have Keisha bottoms who is I’m bedded as well but at the end of the day but likelihood that is Carla goes up every single day they or they were talking about announcing the VP pick during fourth of July week weekend I think he’s moved that back to August but I think there’s a lot of tough to pull that back to fourth of July weekend okay thank you for sharing it no Stacey Abrams not no I you know I’m a I’m a friend of Stacey Stacey has never really been vetted by the Biden campaign um I think that her being a pig for BP was more of a choice of many of us Outsiders you know how people in here than it was actual reality it’s very hard from going to be a former state legislature legislate or excuse me to being one step away from president you know I mean I mean thinking about it and I love this is coming from someone who is friends with Stacey and loved states and would say this if she was sitting where you are think about Ellen everybody who was thinking in their room I mean imagine if your state rep was then vice president do you do you want your state representative currently not sure can go back not the person in Congress but the person who represents you in Sacramento to be you know vice president of the United States and the answer over overwhelmingly would likely be no because of the experience factor and it’s very hard to be prepared and mind you I came from the State House so I know it’s very hard to be prepared to be one step away meet President of the United States and then the national light that transparency you know Connells through that I’m a huge common with hands-on bias and also taking my political predictions for what they’re worth because I’m also the same person who served Hillary Clinton was going to get 330 electoral votes to the Train you know yeah yeah we gotta win this next will do um someone asked car you know your family surname before sellers was I don’t we do know where we’re from we have been researching that we think we know what it is I’ve been given some names by some of my friends who are in various tribes especially along the west coast of Africa so we’ve been given some some surnames but we’ve still somewhat in the wilderness on that maybe maybe by the time so can I say if you get of age we would so we can we can teach the net but I dunno Caria Swahili McCartney or noble promise and so we hold on the next show type thank you folks are saying the range there’s several questions related to race and one is the racial divide that exists is so pervasive in our society do you have hope that if we can forgive the past we can move forward to a new better future yeah but before you get to forgiveness you have to get to some level of atonement right like this is like do we have to just forgive the past or can we do can we also like can we acknowledge there was a wrong done yeah um before we get to us forgiving so I

think I mean I think that we have to get the understanding and empathy because right now we’re not even where we and it comes from the top but we’re not even really an empathetic country and so we kind of have to get to that point first yeah and since you’re holding the little one do you recommend any books for children to share some understanding the black people or culture what books would you recommend to folks so the books that would I recommend what I recommend – what age group cuz I don’t any can you recommend any books for children let’s just say like Sudan is a stamp is a good book it’s a young adult book yeah um let’s come dance stand I don’t have many you know the weird part is I don’t have many children’s books that tackle this issue very well another next book is going to be a young adult book X I know hopefully I’m able to write that in my beautiful wife because I did it she’s like anybody can be a author now so I’m gonna do that I so she’s actually gonna she’s a better writer than I but no I mean I think that you’re Michael Eric Dyson I read all the Baldwin’s book Zora Neale Hurston for people who are of age I mean even middle school kids can can start start with um with those book mark mark Lamont Hill nobody people who were trying to understand the politics of the day is one of the books I have behind the healing politics by Abdullah say II is it visible he ran for governor against Gretchen Whitmer and um in Michigan means upstart he’s a former um public health official in the city of Detroit so there are you know there are some really really really really good books they don’t read for children’s books I think there’s a huge gap and boy for kids coming up in what they should agree to be completely honest in teaching tools we have to feel that’s right a couple more around politics you around policing do you think you think politicians have abandon in the South especially those black parts of the South Pacific question do you think national politics has abandoned the South especially black America is bullying working if not working people to do to address the real injustice in our system is voting working and the answer to that is no I many of you guys probably haven’t watched the news just yet about what happened today in Georgia know while we were while we were burying George Floyd and talking about the quest for justice people in black parts of Georgia Atlanta in particular were in line for three to six hours waiting both there was a legatee who was in line for six hours she got there at 6:00 a.m trying to cast about you know just that type of inability to access the ballot boxes and injustice in itself nobody has a band in the south there are a lot of us he who was doing fighting a good fight I got 42 percent 41 42 percent of the vote in 2014 running statewide I was trying to be first african-american elected statewide since reconstruction asked me you had Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gilliam who got really really close Stacey actually won but I digress now you have Ralph or not it was a minister of Ebenezer Baptist with King actually preach who’s running to us they sent dropping the $5 if you can’t Jaime Harrison running against Lindsey grant dropping dropping $5 if Kim Kyle Cunningham running against Thom Tillis Kyle is gonna win dropping five dollars of kick so like nobody’s given up Doug Jones uphill battle in Alabama oh boy but I mean don’t don’t hopefully you know if he doesn’t win you I think Doug Jones should be Attorney General of the United States you know I think that that is perfect so nobody’s giving up it’s just it’s a lot more difficult to Tim the soil okay now will you run again yes oh yes what are you thinking about we’re running for United States Congress I’m into impoverished district will run for Congress sir no man that’s gonna be hopefully 2022 but we’ll see that happens thank you last two questions one is around anxiety someone asks what’s helpful for some folks the way you would talked about that do you still experience and know-how to human energy initiation I mean the eyes I’m yeah I get very anxious often you know I don’t let it paralyze me um communicate try to try to be more communicative to my wife and others and people have talked to give this Bishop Jake’s or someone else I just I think it’s something that we have to acknowledge especially as black men that’s usually the first step hmm you think about all that you’ve accomplished

yeah the relatively young age what would you say to folks who are looking at you and saying I would love to do that but dennings I has been doubting myself talking against myself I’m in my hair and I can’t get out of what would you think first thing is I don’t really count my accomplishments I’ll let other people write my obituary yeah I’m really open that but I’m not a typical there are so many people who can do things better bigger brighter than I have just need the opportunity and they should utilize when they get called in their head as you say as I said they should utilize that as it’s their superpower you know my ears as I hear death and tell you and I people ask me often what you’ve been doing five years or ten years those are the most if you want to stump me ask me that question mm-hmm but I’ll try to make the most of every 24-hour period I literally live in 24 hours it’s very nice well last question for you is it is an informed tradition to ask all speakers the following question you had 60 a 60 second idea to change the world what would it be if I had a 60 second idea to change the world yeah all I would do was it’s been probably ten seconds and say I’m thankful for this platform I was been the other 50 seconds hugging monkey Apes and letting them know they can be great and then I would send them out in the world complete the work that I haven’t finished sorry it’s really been a present weather to have you on Commonwealth V ever being conversation with you to learn from thank you thank you brother thank you for having me anybody who hasn’t picked up the book please give it a chance great Father’s Day gift I hope everybody supports so that they can be other people of color of the young people other people inside to get a chance to share their story so thank you all and God bless you thank you now we just want to remind everybody that you can get copies of the new book my vanishing country it’s available now for purchase if you’d like to watch more virtual programs on the Commonwealth Club you can do so virtually experience all this programming YouTube Facebook etc thank you all for staying with us stay safe you