Black to the Future: Activism, Community, and the Movement

– Good morning. Welcome to the second
event of A Dream Deferred Black in the USA. Please silence your cell phones and I will introduce now my colleague, professor of
history Marcia Chatelain who is the chair of this
symposium right now. This panel, Marcia. – Hi folks, thank you so much for coming. This is a real honor and pleasure to facilitate this conversation with the next leaders in
the Black Freedom Struggle and so I’ll introduce our speakers briefly and then we’ll have a conversation about activism, platforms, and freedom. To my immediate left featured in the New York
Times article entitled Our Demand is Simple: Stop Killing Us Johnetta Elzie, known as Netta on Twitter is a St. Louis native
who keeps us all woke with her on the street action and social media posts on the struggle. Moved by the moments after Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson Elzie told the Atlantic,
“And it just really hurt “My feelings that on this day “This boy could not make it
back to his grandma’s house. “His blood was so vivid on that road. “The blood was just that deep.” Next to Netta is Morgan DeBaun. A St. Louis native who has been a leader since her days at Washington University. Where she was elected
student body president in her sophomore year. An unprecedented election
for the St. Louis campus. An ever present voice
for black millennials she is co-founder of one of my favorite websites, (audience cheering) Her commitment to black gravity is nothing short of inspirational. Next to Morgan is DeRay McKesson. A Baltimore native and now a mayoral candidate. You may have heard of that. He is an alum of Bowdoin College and has spent his career
as an advocate for children family, and youth as an organizer and
activist and a teacher. Known for his signature blue vest and his desire to see
black people get free McKesson devoted himself
to full time organizing and activism after the
killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And last but definitely not least we have Samuel Sinyangwe of Campaign Zero. Along with some of the
members of this panel he is co-collaborator of the
incredible activist resource We The Protestors. He marries data and policy analysis with action on the ground. Among his many contributions
to helping people understand this moment is my favorite from
Huffington Post entitled Stop Pretending the
Ferguson Effect is Real. Please welcome our panelists. (audience cheering and applauding) Panelists, I’d like to open up with the Lannan theme this year which is A Dream Deferred:
Black in the USA. Can each of you give me a sense of what you believe is
the central impediment for the black dream to be
realized in our present culture. – Before I say anything. I will say you know, me,
Sam, and Netta talk often. We love you Morgan. (laughing) But we haven’t been together in so long. – I know! – So this is like, the first time we’ve seen each other again. – This is like a cookout right. You’re so excited. – Friends! – So what’s in the way? – I’ll say two things. First is it’s good to be here. Thanks for the invitation. You know, I get a lot of stuff every time I leave Baltimore which is why I’ve not
tweeted that I’m here. But I’m happy to be here. You know, one is I
think that the landscape of hope in blackness has changed. I think that there was a period where people were really hopeful. And I worry sometimes
that that is not the case. I do think there’s some
people more interested in fighting than winning and that worries me when I
think about the movement space. Sometimes. I also know and I’ve
said this a million times that we are not born woke but something wakes us up. And I think that there’s
sometimes impatience when we think about this work. You know, I didn’t know that
police were killing people like this until Mike got killed and like, that is real. I think some of our work,
you know it’s understanding the difference between
being woke and staying woke. And some people like get it today and don’t get it tomorrow. And we have to, that’s
why the fight continues. – You got a little fire over there. – Because it’s right, because it’s right. And then the last thing I’ll say is this is really my worries. Is I worry about the
way that we create space between reform and revolution. Because people, when people you know because people critique
us as like, the reformers. Because we believe that
we can actually fix the systems and structures. Like that we believe that at our core. It’s like why we did the data project. It’s why I went to the
street on August 9th. It’s why I, you know got in my car and drove nine hours into St. Louis. And we believe that we can
fix some of this stuff. And people critique us and say that this is actually not
standing in solidarity with people of color. That like, there needs to be
a wholesale transformation of the system and dada. And we agree but we just say that we can both and. That if reform means that
Pookie gets out of jail tomorrow that that is good for Pookie. And I say Pookie endearingly as people in my family right? That it’s like, good for people today while we work towards
beyond two party system that it doesn’t actually
have to be either or. And that people who only
think about the revolution as just like this hundred year goal actually damage people that they claim that they stand beside. And I worry about that. I think that language is really seductive around the revolution. But then when you ask people
what does that look like it’s always the 50 year plan that ignores people in
the today and tomorrow. And you know, I think
about our work as rooted in the today and the tomorrow as well. – Thank you. Anyone else? The impediments? – Can I just add? Add onto DeRay’s point about people and their fascinations or fantasies about the revolution. I had my revolution on August 9th and unfortunately not
everyone came to Ferguson. So, if you missed it you missed it but I had my revolution. I’ve earned my stripes. I’ve done all these horrific things fighting the police and
cursing out the national guard. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. So if I feel like my way of
getting black people free is the way that I go then that’s what it is. – I think for me, one of the impediments is access to information. And so being from St. Louis and living in Silicon
Valley at the same time I saw you know, in the moment
when Mike Brown was killed it was a Saturday and I was in it right? Because I went to Wash. U and I like, knew what was going on. But there was a huge disconnect. My Facebook feed was like, blowing up from people in St. Louis. But in The Bay, nobody
knew what was happening and no one was covering it. Black publications weren’t covering it. Major news publications
weren’t covering it. Like, you know CNN or Vice. And Blavity was about I
don’t know, three months old. We had like, 300 users and like literally none. And seeing that disparity of information that assymetry was just
what made me quit honestly. Quit my full time job. And I think access to information is one of the challenges that we have. – Sam? – Yeah, I would say you know,
building on all these points one of the barriers that I see is our ability to move
together and in solidarity across generations and across spaces. So, that means working with academia to not just sort of produce papers that only get read by other professors but actually doing work that
other people on the ground can actually read and understand and use in action. It means working with institutions and I’m talking about you
know, let’s say the non-profit space for example. You know, I worked before
getting into this work I worked at an organization that was doing policy
research and analysis focused on inequity. And you know, on August
9th the world changed for our generation. But many folks who had
been doing this work for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years just didn’t see that, didn’t feel it and weren’t connected to it. And so there was this divide that formed whereby it was like business
as usual in the workplace while the world was changing outside. And I think how do we bridge that divide? How do we actually… How do we, and I’m
talking we as black folk really come together and figure out how to leverage the institutional
power and connections that sort of the older generation has but do that in service of the cause and the movement that has been formed and has been lead by young folk. And I think that has been a huge challenge and I think there’s progress being made but it is slow and you know, in this work we
don’t have time to lose right? It’s stuff, there is momentum here and it’s about how do you
keep the momentum going. How do you keep this at the front of everybody’s conversation. I think it takes everybody to do that. And we can’t be distracted
by you know, what foundations will tell you is important. Or by what your board will
tell you is important. Or what these old legacy
institutions continue to think is the work, as the work
continues to evolve on the ground. – I really appreciate you
focusing on your relationship to institutions because I think that each of you has found a
medium in which your activism on behalf of black people can
be highlighted and amplified. So if we pivot towards methods. Because each of you is in a sector that is often criticized for
being either too reactive or too passive. Too outside or too inside. I’d like to hear your thoughts about running for office for DeRay. For Netta, about connecting
on the ground work with social media and
chronicling it for people. Sam, about numbers and data and Morgan, your
relationship to the start-up Silicon Valley world. – So I’ll just echo what Sam said briefly. I do think that there are many people who want to be our
parents and not our peers and our partners in the work. And I think that that is real. I think that there are also… Academia is really interesting because people do the like, I know history therefore I’m right. And you’re like, well you know. You couldn’t have, what
happened in Ferguson had not happened before that way. So you could have known all
the history in the world and like, it wouldn’t have helped us when we were getting tear gassed or hiding under our steering wheels any of that stuff. In terms of running for Mayor raise your hand if you saw my picture on the front page of the New
York Times website yesterday. If anybody saw that article. Well good, don’t read it, don’t read it. (laughs) – [Morgan] Nevermind. – It’s better that you do not. Don’t read it. Don’t read it. One of the interesting things
about running for Mayor is that I prepared, I
thought that I was gonna get a lot of critiques. And you know one of the
critiques we get, Netta and I is that we aren’t open to critiques. So like anybody, anytime
someone says something critical of us anytime we respond in any way it becomes like, they
aren’t open to critique. So when I ran I thought
that we were gonna have some real challenges around a set of issues that people
were gonna file a lawsuit against my residency. That people were going to say
that we couldn’t raise money. That people were gonna say
that we didn’t have volunteers. And all of those things,
essentially turned out to be okay. Like, the residency thing didn’t turn to be an issue. You know, we have 5,100 donors from all 50 states and importantly, the third
highest number of donors from Baltimore City. We raised more money quicker than any race in the history of Baltimore elections. Alright, so all that stuff worked out. What has been fascinating to me is that what I can’t get out of is like, the simple critiques right? So people every day
publish articles that say like, I really have never
done anything in Baltimore. And it’s like this
interesting space that I’m in because you know, I was an
organizer in ’99 as a teenager. I opened up NAFTA School Center on the west side of Baltimore. I trained a third of all
the new teachers in the city for two years. I was the number two in human
capital for the school system which is a 12,000 person,
billion dollar organization. And literally, like to this day there are articles that are written that’s like, DeRay has not
organized in Baltimore. And you’re like, I’m sitting there like. I literally don’t know what to do. Or people reduce us to the people who like stood in the street and we
were the communications team during the protest as if we weren’t like, getting
tear gassed while tweeting. Or like as if we weren’t also protesting. – [Marcia] What do you
think that impulse is? Because I think, I mean I think. Well, we know what it is
but I want you to say it. (laughs) I’m supposed to pretend
like I’m asking questions. So just let me do that. – Okay help me out here. – Let’s dive deep into that impulse right? So there’s a deep desire
to reduce work right? And I think that the more that involves women and people of color the less it becomes work and it just, oh it just happens right? So, in that process of running for office how do you communicate those
facts in that platform? – Well what’s good is that
the voters in Baltimore aren’t reading this
article on the front page of the New York Times, that’s good. So I’ve done a lot of,
I’ve been really proud of like, the number of voters that we’ve been able to contact. I’ve done a host of meet and
greets at people’s houses. Like people will DM me and be like, “If I get my
friends together will you come?” Right, and then we go. And you know, we hit
like 40 voters at a time or people around bars so they can host the neighborhood. And that has been really powerful. And then knocking on doors. You know, we knocked… The campaign knocked 800 doors yesterday. We knocked doors this weekend and a lot of people are undecided. People are really open. The challenge for me has been, you know no matter what it’s gonna
be an 83 day campaign right? That was best case scenario. And other people have
been running for 183 days already right? So the question is how do
we get in front of people. But there’s been so much positive and the platform is really strong. You know, of all the,
I’ve gotten no critiques about any idea we’ve put out. Like you know, the platform
is across eight buckets and it is a strong platform. But it has been interesting to see the national profile that
doesn’t necessarily help me in Baltimore. If anything, it really hurts me. So every time somebody sees. You know, I met with the CEO of Youtube the other day, Susan and people who saw it were like “Why is DeRay meeting with the CEO?” And it’s like, I’m talking
about black people in Baltimore. Right, like it’s not. We’re not like, “Hey Susan,
can we go get lunch?” You know, it’s like. – [Marcia] Right. (audience laughs) – And that’s hard. – [Marcia] Anyone else on platforms? – [Netta] You asked me about what? – About connecting. I think it goes to DeRay’s point about like, telling a story
that can get out there. Because I think that
people turn to you for… You have this incredible
ability to communicate the complexity of the
experience as it’s happening and so just kind of use,
how you use those tools or how you use those platforms. – To answer your earlier question I think the problem or
the issue people have with how we use our platforms is the fact that they never thought to do it that way before. Or they can’t do it that way before. Or they can’t hold people’s
attention that way. I know our dynamics are
an issue for people. He’s a black, gay man. People erase DeRay’s
sexuality all the time. Especially black women when they go after well black men, blah,
blah, blah, blah, blah. And it’s just like well, he’s also gay. So he’s in your LGBTQ community. And what happens there? Or with me. You know, I almost said something wrong. (audience and panel laughs) Let me use a better word. Okay so some black men. (audience and panel laughs) I thought you were playing. These mother, okay. (audience and panel laughing) They just really try me all the time. All the time. So I was tried yesterday
in DeRay’s little hit piece that came out on the New York Times where this man literally reduced me to a local woman who was
on the communications team. And trick, I was there before people on Twitter
knew who the fuck I was. And I was there before DeRay was there. I had like, I’m from there. So how fucking dare you tell me that I was just a
communicator on the ground. No trick, like you DM’d
me to get an interview saying my work was so
important five months ago but because it went empty and unanswered all of a sudden I’m just like nothing. – So erasing your pre-August 9th life is also a way I think of
discrediting young people. Like, oh they get woke one day and you know, it starts there. And so in terms of thinking
about your rootedness in St. Louis what part of that earlier experience do you think people
have yet to come toward? – I don’t know, I feel
like everything has been attacked at this point. So people say I’m not from there because in my mom, before she passed away she moved us to the suburbs. And it’s just like, I
grew up in a neighborhood where the house across
the street from my house was a crack house. And I went to a private school so I would leave this
all white world at five and come home and see the police like jumping out on people. You can’t take that away from me. Nobody can, which is why I fight so much. Like, he doesn’t fight and that’s fine. Like, that’s just him. (laughing) That’s just who DeRay is. That’s his male privilege,
it’s all that shit. But for me. I’m like, oh no you come from me you got me absolutely fucked up. Because I just gave up
too much to be where I am. So I don’t play with nobody. So if people like come,
like you either gonna get this hot block or you’re gonna get these hot 140. Or if you’re like, local you might get these hands. Like I don’t care. (audience cheering and applauding) So I’m not like, I’m not
Coretta Scott King at all. (audience and panel laughing) Just in case anybody in the audience feels like trying me, it can’t go down. – Alright, you’ve been put on– – [DeRay] Already today though. – St. Louis until I die. – You have been put on notice. Morgan? – Yeah, so you asked me about you know, Silicon Valley
and some of the methods that I’ve had to use there. So, for those of you who don’t know you know, less than 1% of start-ups are funded by black women or actually black people. Probably less than half a percent are venture funded by and founded by black women right? So given those statistics and given that I have a
black, really black company with all black people who I love you know, a lot of people were like “Um, are you sure you want to start this? “You sure you’re gonna raise money?” And I was like, “Yeah,
Buzzfeed’s valuation “Is a billion dollars. “Vice’s valuation is a billion dollars.” Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Ebony, Jet. You know, while I love all of them they haven’t transitioned to the way that we use technology today. And the demographic of
America is shifting. So from a business sense this made sense right? Like, there’s a clear
market opportunity right? From a passion perspective elevating voices was important to me and is important to me
and everybody on my team. And so, you know what was hard was hearing it over and over again that like, it wasn’t
something we should do because it’s just so
scientifically impossible to do what we’re doing. And you know it took me
maybe like six months to really be like, whatever. You know, I’m still gonna do it. Like, I’m still gonna go hard
and raise millions of dollars and do what I see all my white
friends in Silicon Valley do. And because we decided to do that you know, I think people are open to some of the mistakes
that Blavity has made. I mean you guys are
criticized all the time. My DM’s look a little bit different. They’re either people trying to get a job which I appreciate or… (laughing) Which you know, is great. Or two, it’s people saying you know, “Blavity shouldn’t
have published this” right? Blavity, you guys can’t say this. Or you can’t say that. And my response is always,
“Blavity is not one person.” Right, Blavity is everybody. And those are gonna be a conflict at times and so you know, not to say we
don’t have rules and policies and guidelines about what
flies and what doesn’t. We absolutely do. But there are times
when you’ll have voices that compete with each other and as long as it’s an argument
that’s well thought out that has a point of view and often a clear call to action than it’s welcome right? And so if you read the
comment section of the site it’s lit! Comment sections are ridiculous. – [Audience Member] You
never read the comments! (laughing) – But read the comments on Blavity because they’re actually
really interesting. – Are they good? – They’re so good. We don’t get trolls. The trolls are– – How do you do that? – Right. – Because Blavity is so
clearly for black people that those who come onto the site they know what they’re walking into. – But trolls are so mal-organized. – Our Facebook comments is different. – Got it. – Because Facebook will
circle outside of the world and people won’t read the article. They’ll just comment off the headline and what people said right? But on the actual site it’s actually this really great community and so yeah, it’s crazy. Do you guys ever read Very Smart Brothers? – Yeah. (audience cheers) – Right, so their comment
section is very similar right? You go, like all the– – [DeRay] Wait, what is it? – Very Smart Brothers, VSB. – They’re young, it’s really well done. – It’s excellent and here
in Philly, or Pittsburgh. And so… I think by creating spaces that are very clearly for us and that was the other
challenge that I got from a methods perspective is your demographic is too small. You can’t have $100 million company and only service black people and black millennials specifically. And I was like um, have
you heard of Brazil? Or Lagos? (laughing) You know right? So you know I think that being clear and
having the flag in the sand that says like, Blavity
is for black millennials and black millennials around the world was how I kind of let go
of all those obstacles that mentally were in my way. – Excellent. And Sam, in the world of big data and using data towards justice. I would love to hear more about how you see that platform doing the work. – Yeah, so I think we all tell our story in different ways. And in many ways, that helps to translate to particular audiences. And so you know, following August 9th you had nationwide protests,
started in Ferguson protesting police violence. And what we continued to hear in the media was the story that you
know, we really don’t know if these are isolated incidents or if this is a pattern of police violence typically against black people. We don’t know because
the FBI doesn’t collect comprehensive data on people
being killed by police. And so, out of that conversation the best that policy makers were proposing was oh, we just need
to collect better data. And that’s just not good enough. In a moment like this you don’t just, if all we get is a policy to collect better data,
that’s not the win right? And so, what was true was that actually there were crowdsourced
data bases out there that were collecting
fairly comprehensive data on people being killed by police. And so you know, what we did was we looked at those databases and in fact, according to
the best research estimates they combined across those databases they were collecting about
95% of the total number of people killed by police
in the United States. So they were doing what the FBI was not. The data was there. It was open source. Just nobody had compiled
it, filled in the gaps and made sense of it in
a way that could move the conversation forward. And so you know, what we
did was compile that data merged it together, filled
in the gaps around race. Around whether the person
was armed or unarmed. Around which police
department was responsible. The circumstances of each incident. And what we found was actually that… And this is again, there’s
so many times that academia and research institutions
will put out studies that just confirm what
communities have been saying for a long, long time. But again, it’s about
you know, translation. This idea that there are circles where because of institutional racism folks, particularly white folks won’t listen to what black
communities are saying. They’ll say oh that’s just,
they’ll try to dismiss it unless they see quantitative evidence. Unless they see it’s
statistically significant. There are all these barriers
that have been erected in order to actually silence communities and leave communities
out of the conversation and leave them unheard. And so you know, what we
did was we found the data and so we could make
the case using the data. We could make the case on live,
on the ground using tweets. We could make the case using video. There were so many ways to make the case and I think the data added this element that convinced a certain
subset of the population that something was going on. That it was a crisis,
that it was systemic. We were able to show that black folks were three times more likely
to be killed by police. That they were more likely to be unarmed when killed by police. That there were 17 of the 100
largest police departments in the United States killed black men at a rate higher than the US murder rate. So we could actually use
data to tell this story in a way that was different and that appealed to a different audience. And I think that
broadened the conversation and it particularly
appealed to policy makers. That really shut down their ability to dismiss what was going on. And part of how to do that is
to make is accessible right? So if you look at the first thing you see is this map of every black
person killed by police in 2015. There are 336 markers on the map. And you look at that
map and in two seconds you know that this is a pattern. That it’s happening all over the country and that it’s a crisis. You don’t need to read an academic study. You don’t need to write a 30 page report. You get it in two seconds and that should be the goal. Ultimately, you need to
be able to convince people in two seconds, in five seconds of exactly what you’re trying to say. And there has to be really sophisticated and hard research to back it up. But ultimately your goal
is to make it accessible. Is to make the case to as
many people as possible. So I think that is, that is
how we sort of use the data to make the case in a different way. I also think about how
the data can be used to shut down false
narratives about black folks. So, once folks were convinced
that this was a crisis that it was happening
particularly effecting black folks then the next sort of conversation coming from the right wing, coming from police was oh, this is because of
black on black crime right? They would try to blame black folks for the fact that police
were out there killing them at a rate higher than the US murder rate. And so what we did was
we ran the numbers right? So nobody in the media had
actually done the study where they looked at
crime rates in communities and matched that against
rates of police violence. Nobody had done that simple
correlational study right? They were just going based on assumption. Even in academia, going
based on the assumption that this was somehow connected to violent crime in communities. And as researchers, I mean
that is just ludicrous right? You are pushing a narrative
that is harmful to community harmful to progress based on no evidence whatsoever. Because it confirms biases and stereotypes about black folks. And so what we did was
we ran those numbers which showed that there was
absolutely no correlation between the rates of crime in cities and the rates of police
violence per capita. Absolutely no correlation. There are cities like Newark and Buffalo where police are not killing folks that have among the highest
crime rates in the country. There are cities like St. Louis where police are killing folks at a rate higher than the US murder rate that have a comparable crime rate. And so this clearly has
to do with the policies and practices in the culture
of the police departments that are resulting in
the way that they respond to situations. And we also showed that right? We looked at the use of force policies of the hundred largest police departments. Coded those up for whether
they require officers to de-escalate situations. Do they ban choke holds
and strangle holds. Do they require officers to intervene when another officer is
using excessive force. These types of things. What we found was that
there was a statistically significant correlation
between those policies being in place and having lower rates. Making it less likely for
police to kill people. Right, and so what we’re trying to do is use a, is translate this
what we know to be true in community, to research, to academia to policy makers in a way that it just become irrefutable. That these policies need to change. That these systems and
structures need to change. That the responsibility
is on public servants to actually serve the public. And not to kill them. And so that is sort of
the way that we use data. The way that we use policy to really answer questions
in a different way. And when you combine that with the videos and you combine that with
on the ground testimony and stories, it really
becomes an irrefutable body of evidence that
change needs to happen. – A lot of the responses to this question to these questions, have been
about community and voice. And so as all of you are
giving voice to communities not only left behind
but actively alienated and disenfranchised what role has your
activism or platform played in amplifying those
who have been silenced? And I think that’s related to the issue at the core of this movement. Which is state sanctioned violence. So how do you see your work helping to grow that resistance? And how do you, where do you
see that resistance going? – I’ll start. – Okay. – So for me, I see a lot of, there’s a lot of emotional struggle. I remember sitting in my all white office. I used to work at Intuit
as a product manager. And watching Twitter Vine, and Periscope was kinda, those were like
the main kind of on the ground tools that people were using. And at work, in my cubicle like, no one would say
anything to me right? Like, don’t talk to me. Like, don’t even look my way right? And then you know, I did the
stupid thing of asking someone like, “Oh what do you think “About what’s going on in Ferguson?” They were just like. They had no idea what I
was talking about right? And so I think one of the things that we’ve tried to do is create a space where people
can share their feelings. Right, because processing a lot of this is difficult. And I think there’s a lot of healing there’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of sadness,
there’s a lot of energy as well. And having the ability and a platform in an area where you can go and voice those concerns and voice your opinion and have a point of view and have a call to action and share your stories locally. Things that aren’t happening. And I think about all the students at Yale at Mis. U, I mean there’s
just been so many things in the last 18 months that have happened because we’ve created these spaces for people to have a point of view and to share their perspective. And so when I think about the future you know, I think it’s about networks. I think it’s about enabling people to share their voices and talk about whatever
issues that that may be and you know, state violence is obviously one of the ones top of
mind for everyone here. But there’s other issues as well effecting people of color
and black folks specifically. And so I think about
platforms like Twitter, Blavity, Medium. There’s so many other
places that you can go to voice your opinion and to network with other people so that they and you can work together to accomplish your goals right? So, I see more people flocking
to platforms like that. – I think as people of color we always face these issues of erasure and erasure often manifests in two ways. One is that either their
story is never told or it is told by everybody but us. And in this moment we
became the un-erased. Like Twitter literally
allowed us to push back on dominant culture narratives while talking to each other in ways that weren’t
mediated by anybody else. I think that was really powerful. You know, I think that. And I think I’m really close to erased. I think I’m too close to it in some ways to talk about it objectively but I would like to
believe that what we and us is just like, a sum of many
people in the movement space. Right, the movement is
bigger than any one person or two people or three people or one organization. Help do is tell a consistent
narrative about this across the country. So I think about looking at Netta’s tweets from the beginning from when you know the gas station was still there and they were at one of
the pumps getting supplies and think about how that narrative has been consistent across. And I think that that’s
some of the feedback that I’ve gotten from people is that like, when I
go to different cities and talk about it, that I
can actually help people situate it in a context that is broader than this one city. That it is about how these
things link together. And there is something about Twitter that like, I don’t know I just get right? I think about Twitter as like, the friend that’s always awake. I get it. You know, it’s like got it. – Good morning guys. – Right you’re like hey! (laughs) Twitter is home. I was just meeting, I
just met with the head of cyber security at Facebook. And we were talking about Facebook and I say all the time
that Twitter is home but Facebook is like
grandma’s house right? Like you would always, you would never you know, you always go
back to grandma’s house at some point but you don’t
want to be there all day. (audience laughs) But Twitter is like that,
Twitter is like home and I do think there’s something
about the story telling that allows messages to be amplified and I’m also sensitive to the fact that the story that we’re
telling changes right? The movement is young. In the beginning it was like nine months of hey everybody, not
only is there a crisis but the crisis is close to you. Like in the beginning
people were like, St. Louis and we’re like, no everywhere right? But it wasn’t until Sandra,
Walter, and Freddie died that people were like okay,
the crisis is close to me. And then the story we were telling was that there are solutions right? And then the story we’re
telling is that there needs to be systemic change and I think about what
comes next in the movement is two things. One is can we build coalitions right? Can we build entrances for people who might not have the same goals but have the same outcomes. You think about the gun control lobbyists don’t have the same goals. All want to live in a world where there’s not mass shootings. You think the environmentalists
don’t have the same goals. All want to live in a world
where the water is not dirty like it is in Flint. And then you think about
the inside outside game. I mean, it’s like one of
the reasons I’m running. Can we be as organized on the inside as we are on the outside. That being a battering ram on the outside will always be a part of
the work, it has to be. But it cannot be the
only part of the work. That we have to be on the
boards and commissions. And like, that has to be
a part of our strategy because the people who are fighting are definitely organized on the inside. And the issues we’re fighting are like, so deeply
entrenched on the inside that we have to be there too. – I think from a policy perspective we’ve seen so much change happen right? So we’ve seen at least 24 states have enacted legislation related
to police accountability police reform. We’ve seen public opinion
shift dramatically in a way that we haven’t seen really since the Civil Rights Movement. Something like 70 million
more Americans now agree with the statement that more changes are needed
to secure equal rights for black folks in this country than before Ferguson happened right? So it’s shifted from a minority
position in this country to a majority position. And we’ve seen more police
officers get indicted than have ever been indicted at least since the past decade
when data was being collected but yet, it’s still not good enough. It’s piecemeal. It’s small things here and there. And what will be fascinating going forward and I think the next phase is one, how do we be more comprehensive in our approach? So you see states like Illinois you see Connecticut Colorado actually enacting
fairly comprehensive legislation related to police accountability independent investigations, prosecutions. Having clear rules about
how body cameras are used so that they insure
accountability and transparency. Limiting, creating an
officer misconduct database so that officers that are fired or resign under investigation don’t get rehired. All of these elements are being passed in particular states but we haven’t seen that happen in you know, the majority of states. And I think the next piece is how do we insure that these
things are being implemented in a way that is effective. That is actually reducing and ultimately eliminating police violence right? So this goes to the issue of who is it that is actually
implementing these policies. Can they be trusted? Are the tools and the
infrastructure in place in order to actually
monitor how they’re doing and hold them accountable. Do folks have, is it that
we’re able to open up access ways for folks to directly lobby their representatives and to know exactly how
they stand on the issues. How they’re voting. In order to hold them
accountable at the ballot box. We saw two prosecutors Anita Alvarez and McGinty in Chicago and in Ohio, in Cleveland get deposed right? They got elected out of office after you know, failing to deliver justice in the case of Tamir Rice. And then waiting on that
Laquan McDonald video for 400 days. And so we’re seeing now
powers being translated. We’re seeing folks get
pushed out of office. We’re seeing presidential candidates getting held accountable. And actually propose
agendas on racial justice which we haven’t seen really ever. Something specifically on racial justice. Although, it clearly
doesn’t go far enough. And so I think we’re seeing progress but it’s just not quick enough. Folks at the mass level do not have the right entry points in order to directly get involved in the political process and I think so, how do we think strategic about creating those openings so that in two clicks you can
contact your representative and know exactly where they stand and push them to go further. All of that, we have the capacity to do but we still have to build those tools in order to make it happen. – Would you like to comment? – Uh, repeat the question. – About giving voice to people who have been actively alienated around this issue of the resistance against state violence. – I would just… The only thing that comes to my mind is like, the human aspect of it. Is that it’s really exhausting. Always having to like, read or see or hear or listen to like just oppressive ass shit all day. So um, I don’t know, it’s hard. Like, when I wanna just relax or tweet like the rest of my timeline I still follow all the people
I’ve followed since 2009 when I first made my Twitter. So I didn’t like, alienate
who I was before Ferguson. So some days I just wanna watch TV with my friends but people on Twitter
think we’re all friends. And it’s just like well,
I want to be over here with these people and
talk about bullshit on TV. I don’t want right now to have to be on and like, hey it’s an
emergency it’s a next level. I know that a lot of
people seem to have this desire or want for
everything to be a big story or a big headline. – Right. – And it’s just like,
it’s hard to tell people like, this isn’t what you
think it’s going to be. But I can try to you know, I can try. People think that we
just wave a magic wand and like, the media just cares. And that’s just, it’s hard because people should know and the media should care and these stories should be shared and that’s why we have places like Blavity or the Root or all the kinda like the indie black news channels. I don’t know, that’s my biggest struggle is like, keeping my humanity in a movement that doesn’t
want to see my humanity because I’m so visible. – I really appreciate the point you make about the magic wand because when I tried to explain to people that movements are work they’ll say, “Well this
happened and no one was there.” And I was like, “Well why didn’t
you organize those people?” I think that there’s a desire to reduce how hard your work is because you have computers. You still have to spend time with people. You still have to be in community. How do you shut down, oh okay. I’m just, okay, sorry. (audience laughs) Last point, how do you shut down a highway without connecting with real people right? You don’t do that without work and so I think that, I’m just gonna, okay. So, we have many students. (laughs) – You’ve been thinking. – Where’s your think piece? (laughs) – Blavity is ready there. – Blavity can publish it. – I have a lot of thoughts. – Talk to your folks afterwards. (laughs) – So we have many
students in the room today and many I can vouch for are magic. And they are looking to
charter, course, and orient themselves towards activism. I went to the University of Missouri and I spent time with
students there recently. And they have a deep gratitude for everybody on this platform and the platforms you represent and the people that name,
who’s names we will never know because of the courage you gave them to chart their own course towards freedom. So what advice or guidance or insight would you give students on this and other campuses about an orientation toward justice? – I’ll say three quick things. One is that this work will
always be more important than it is popular. And you have to know that coming in. You know, I worry sometimes that people see us or they saw me on Colbert and they think that that is like every day and it is, I’m broke right? People just like, they don’t get it. – [Marcia] No say it. Please, say it. – Yeah they just don’t get it you know? They think that it is you know. It’s interesting running for Mayor because people expect me to be
the guy on Colbert every time like I knock on a door and they’re like, “Hey!” You’re like, that is I’m hungry right? (audience and panel laughs) – [Marcia] You’ve got some snacks? – That Colbert set is freezing. So you have to be you know, alert because it’s so cold you know. So that is funny, is that I think people there’s like a real disconnect there. That the work is important and you do the work
because it’s important. And you do the work every day and that’s the grind and then the other things will come. I think people think about it very, very differently. And I say that as somebody who you know, my phone got
cut off the other day and I had to call, I had to borrow money to turn my phone back on and I’m running for office right? So it’s like, people don’t I think people don’t get that. And I think they see you know,
Beyonce follows me on Twitter and it’s like you know. All of it is important and it’s part of the work but it does not translate into what people think it translates into. The second is that there’s a difference between organizations and infrastructure. Is that one of the, people
have a lot of critiques of me and that some of them I
think, even though I disagree with them I think they’re fair critiques. But one that we get and
Netta’s probably like I don’t think none of them fair. (laughs) Is I think that this thing about. We haven’t joined an organization and we started camping zero moments. We’re really intense
about it’s a group of us coming together that’s worked with and organized from around the country but it’s not necessarily an organization. And it’s because we are trying
to help people understand that the difference between infrastructure and organizations. That in St. Louis, infrastructure emerged. We became tweeters, other
people became live streamers. The bell front people came. Like, the infrastructure emerged. There was no organization
that started the protest. There was no organization
that sustained the protest. But the infrastructure emerged. And that you can do work whether you’re in an organization or not. Not to say that organizations
don’t have a role to play. They do, but they’re not the only role in social justice work. And like I, that’s important to me because if you have an issue you can get two of your friends together and like, you can build
infrastructure wherever you are. It doesn’t need like a University ID code and a bank account. Like, you can think beyond the
structures of organizations. If you think about the
Civil Rights Movement that were born out of institutions. Churches and schools. What happened at Ferguson was like people coming out of their homes and like, no more right? It was different and there’s
something true to that. And then third is that it really you know, one of my
former mentors said to me “DeRay when it gets hard “Just remember to do the work.” And that probably has been the
single best piece of advice because there have been some days that are not particularly great. And instead of reacting really intensely like, I just double down on the work and that has always proved to
be the right piece of advice. Even when it doesn’t feel
like it in the moment and Lord knows, there’s
enough work to be done. And I’ve seen people wait
for permission in this work and like, you already have it. And you know, I think about I got off my couch on August 16th one o’clock in the
morning, saw it on Twitter and drove nine hours to St. Louis. Didn’t know anybody in Missouri. Put on Facebook that I’m going and I hope somebody can
find a couch for me. And that was my story right? I literally was like, I
just feel called to go. And like, you can do that too. Like it was, you know I just. It was, I wanted to be there and like, I met Netta. She was, we knew her
because she was on Twitter. And then we stood next
to each other in a church and it was like, hug your neighbor. And me and Netta. (audience and panel laughing) That’s not an unto me, that’s an unto her. – [Netta] No it’s not, yes. – But anyway we hugged and that was like were we? That was a, I know she. That was our story you know and that is legitimately how it happened. And I will, this is the last thing. The fourth thing is that I do think people are interested in, I know. People are interested in a scandal and not everything, there’s
not always a conspiracy theory like, around the work right? There’s not always an ulterior motive. There’s not always some deep, dark like, sometimes it is just what it is. And we have to like, let that happen. And I say that piggybacking
off what Sam said about how can we all work together. Is that sometimes the movement space is damn near gonna tear itself apart. That we don’t need other people to do it because the fighting that
happens inside sometimes is so damning. And like, we have to figure out how to work past that. – Yeah, so I’ll build on that organizations and infrastructure idea. I think particularly you
know, as University students you have a skill set
that is really important and that can really be
effective in making the case for all of the stuff that
needs to happen right? And I think you don’t need
permission to do that right? So mapping police violence like literally, I looked at this article that said the data was there. And I was like, okay. I studied political science. I know how to do statistical analysis. It wasn’t even required, it was like basic correlational stuff right? And you just look at it
and you’re like, okay. Like, let’s merge it and then let’s figure
out how to visualize it. Let’s look at these mapping programs. Which one looks good? This one kinda looks good,
I’m not a graphic designer but like, it looks good. So like, here it goes. And then connected with DeRay on Twitter just like, look I have this idea. What do you think, can we work on this? He’s like, “Here’s my phone number.” So then we got on the phone, launched it and all of a sudden it
became a thing right? So, you don’t need permission for that. You don’t need your academic
advisor to approve that. You don’t need to do that
for your dissertation right? That is something you have
the skill to do right now. You may not get your degree off of it but you’re gonna help people and you’re gonna actually do the work that you want to do. And I think that’s more important. And then you know, the
other piece about it is there’s still so much
that is yet unknown right? We just got the data on police killings like, last year right? We don’t know much about it at all. Really, we know the circumstances. We don’t know for example among all of the policies
within Campaign Zero or that have been proposed in the President’s task force report. Or that have been proposed
across the country. We don’t know which three have the, are the best predictors of reducing police
violence in this country. We don’t know. We don’t know, we don’t know
how rates of police violence compared to other social indicators. Residential segregation,
educational attainment all of those things. We don’t know specifically what is it
about the officers involved that could be good predictors in order to not get them you know, not hire these types of officers or to have an early warning system. Like, we don’t know the
answers to these questions because the data is new. And you have all of the skills to actually start
answering these questions. The data is open source. You just have to run the analysis and make sense of it right? And I think that is a
power that has really democratized the space. Right, and I think that
is the era that we’re in is that it is now sort of a horizontal leadership structure where you don’t need to get permission to do the work. You don’t need to get a
PHD to have the skills to do the work. You don’t need to know this person who knows this person who’s that person. You just need to connect
to somebody on Twitter who likes the idea share your information and then build something together and I think that is a power
that is new in our generation. And if we learn how to use this wisely it will be incredibly impactful. Because now all of a sudden you don’t have just a room
of people doing the work. You have people all across this country that are working together collaborating and have built this infrastructure
to move the work forward at a pace that we just
haven’t seen before. – Yeah, I’d add don’t wait right? I mean, I remember in
college people being like “Well you need to get a CS degree.” Or you need to get a
computer science degree or like, you need,
before I started Blavity. You need to go get your MBA. You know, those are better outcomes. And really, I think the theme here is that there is no reason to wait. You have a mobile phone,
you have internet. That’s all that you need
to start something right? Whether that’s talking to someone. Tweeting at someone. Writing an article, building something mapping something. I mean, at the end of the day none of us can really give you your answer besides to just say like, we all did something and a lot of us have probably
tried multiple things. So, starting and just like, tomorrow tonight, right now. Like, that’s the best
thing that you can do. – Word. On that note. I would like to open it up for questions. And let me just make sure you understand the difference between a
question and a comment. A question is a search for
information and knowledge. A comment are your feelings
which are important but let’s make the distinction and make sure everyone has
a chance at the microphone. – [Morgan] I love that. – So shady. (laughing) – Sometimes you just have to. – And you can tweet us questions too. – Yes and there’s opportunities on that. (laughing) For everyone else but Netta to get some feedback on Twitter. Yes? – [Joseph] Good morning, Joseph Reeves. I’m your colleague from Howard University and I’m really glad to be here today. So, my question for the panel is what would you think– (audience member sneezes) – Bless you. – Bless you. – [Joseph] Or rather what are your views on like, black institution spaces that want to use the
Black Lives Matter moniker but don’t necessarily invite people from the Black Lives
Matter movement to speak? – I think, thank you. I think I have a sense
of where that question is coming from. The odds, the tensions
between black institutions and Black Lives Matter. Anybody? (audience laughing) The silence is deafening on this question. – You aint getting me caught me. – Yeah right. – I do think that, so we always challenge. We challenge two things. One is this notion of
like, the front line right? And we say to those
people who got tear gassed in many cities is that we don’t want to privilege
people’s proximity to trauma. Right, that like you
are on the, black people are on the front line everywhere. Whether you stood in the street or not like, you were in the
front line to the trauma and pain in America. So, we are weary to create this space where it’s like some of
us are in the movement and then there are other
black people right? That that is like a, I worry about that. So in terms of having panels that talk about this work I’m open to having a broad range of people who identify as people
being a part of the work. It doesn’t need to be only those of us who got tear gassed or stood in the middle, like you know I’m worried about that. I do think that there’s a responsibility to tell the story correctly. And that is what I worry about the most when I see these panels. It’s just like you, you know
I think about even writers. And we try not to talk about
writers that frustrate us. But there are some writers who have said definitive things about the protests. Like, they have reported it as true. And then we’re like, well
what protest were you at? They’re like, “None.” And you’re like, “Well how did you?” Like literally, I don’t know
how you’re in a panel about it. Like, you’re in a panel as
an expert on the protest and like, that doesn’t make sense to me. If you were on a panel
about reporting about it or something like maybe. But that is, there’s this weird thing where people who literally
experienced very little of it become any part of the story teller and like, that I think
is where I have an issue. – Interesting, yes? – [Anita] Hi everyone, my name is Anita and I’m currently doing my
masters here at Georgetown in Global Health. My question was or is, how have you dealt with or handled the globalized nature
that Black Lives Matter has become? Because I know for example,
I was watching a video on the whole FeesMustFall in South Africa. That whole movement. And the Caparo 12 in South Brazil. And you know, these are things where people said they drew inspiration from the Black Lives Matter Movement. So, for you guys when you began this did you ever think that
it’d become this global? And then now that it has how do you handle or how do you deal with the globalized nature that Black Lives Matter has become? You know, I don’t know if you guys know of Cecil Emeke and you know, she works
with like, black identities across the globe and that’s something
I’m very interested in. So I know that you know Americans and black Americans
have a huge role to play in you know, in having this global voice. So I would say that for
all of you on the panel how do you navigate you know, becoming more
than just an American voice but then also an international voice? – Thank you. – So I think for us,
about 20% of our audience is international. Mostly in London and South Africa. And Lagos and in Kenya. And it’s interesting because
just as you mentioned you know, we’ve dealt like our, from the beginning our voice was the US black millennials right? And as we grow and expand I think it’s thinking about
how do we invite other voices and make sure that they
have just an equal footing on the platform as well. And so you know, the answer is that there’s a lot of work to be done. I think especially from
the media perspective. Because as far as I know,
I haven’t really seen any black publications who have had a big international point of view present. So lots of work to be done. – Anyone else on that before I give it to the next question? – I think you know, it’s funny. So we stand in solidarity with people all across the country
who are marginalized. I mean, all across the world. What is hard though is
that they don’t always want us to talk about their issues. So I can name some times where I’ve said you know, I tweeted
something like in solidarity and people were like, you don’t know. And it’s like you know
what, so I’m real quiet now. It took me a long time
to find the right people in other countries,
like the people who like if I retweeted anything
it wouldn’t be a problem. But I think about a couple things you know, Sam got me. Sam tweeted this thing once that said in London. – Oh! – Oh it was bad, it was bad. He tweeted it, what was the tweet? – So I was pointing out the fact that police don’t shoot people to death or shoot people really at all in England and frankly in most of the
rest of the developed world. Which is a fact. – And I retweeted that. People were livid. Like to this day, I don’t talk
about black people in the UK because of that. Because people said to me literally, like it became DeRay is erasing police violence in the UK. And then when we asked
for, so we said like you know, I was like well what is it? Is the data wrong? And they were like, “You’re treating us “Just like white people treat us.” You’re not believing our experience. And it was like, I don’t. And what was real right? The real critique was
that I did not understand the impact of the border police. I didn’t know right? And they weren’t killing people but they were inflicting
violence in a different way that was not represented in the numbers and that we weren’t adding
texture to, which is real. Right? But it became this thing of like that we were like, being malignant. And it was like, I literally like the numbers, they don’t have guns. You know like, it wasn’t this. I wasn’t trying to diminish
police violence anywhere else. But that was how it was received. And like, after that I literally. And one day I tweeted. Like, it was a Muslim
woman got pulled off a bus for being Muslim and I thought it was here in America and did a quoted tweet, America 2016 and it was really the UK so somebody wrote back it
was the UK, fine right? So I deleted it and then
I just retweeted it. And people were literally in my mentions like, why did you not retweet it UK 2016? And it’s like, I’m done right? So I literally just like, I’m real chill. I do like a couple retweets and it’s not because I
don’t stand in solidarity but I am nervous about
retweeting the wrong thing. And there was another
thing in South Africa where like, Desmond Tutu’s
niece or grand-daughter or somebody was protesting but it was like, against
the FeesMustFall protestors but I didn’t know. And it was like Desmond
Tutu’s grand-daughter so I’m like retweeting. I read like 15 tweets about her. And people are like, in my
mentions like, “He did!” And I’m like whoa, I’m so sorry right? So now I’m real quiet about other places. (laughs) Because I really, it has been
totally in the best intent. Like I’m not trying to
marginalize people anywhere. But it is harder than it looks. – I think that’s part of it though. It’s like, that shows the thirst right? It shows how poorly
we’ve done as a country in inviting other people’s voices in. Because we shouldn’t have
to be the representatives of the world right? We should be figuring out
how it can empower people like Cecil Emeke who has an amazing the Strolling web series. And get her to have an
international audience. – And how do we know who they are though? I think about that. You know, I don’t know right? So I’m amplifying the people that I see retweet on my timeline. And then it’s like what happens when you do the wrong person. I’m looking at Blavity
like Blavity help me! Find out when the article came out. (audience laughing) Somebody please have an article. – We have them. We’re working on it. – I’m on Blavity, I’m on Blavity. – Can I answer? – Oh please! – I have an answer. You know, Imma let them do them. But I– – You didn’t at the
beginning, don’t do that. That was shady. – Shut your mouth. (audience laughing) – She’s not being erased on this panel. – Shut up. I will say something
good about international (laughing) black community. I had to find it. When Ferguson first popped off there were several places that
reached out to us globally. I don’t know if all of them were black but I know Palestine Egypt and Mexico City and Hong Kong all like, reached out and were like this is how you handle tear gas. That was the one thing
they had us in common. Because our police in St. Louis traveled to Israel, learned
all their fucked up tactics and bring them back to America so Palestinians had
the exact same tear gas that we had in St. Louis. Which is the same tear gas
that they had in Baltimore. So that’s how we connected. But we didn’t like,
keep up the connection. I wasn’t like pressed to
be like, hey be my friend. Only because I’m getting
fucked up in the street where I pay taxes. So it’s hard because a lot of black people were only worried about their neighborhood their city, their state their country. And if you don’t have access to things like access to information
across the country or across the globe. You don’t have a, I don’t have a passport. So it’s just like certain things just don’t really come into my sphere because I’m so focused on me. And what effects me and
the people around me. So like Morgan said, there’s
definitely work to be done but in response to what DeRay was saying I watched him go through that. Because I just don’t
even, I don’t even try. Because if people come to me crazy like, I just, something happens so I just try to stay
far, far away from it because I don’t want to
talk crazy to black people you know what I’m saying? Like, I love black people. But I did have a guy from Europe somewhere who was, he was mad about Campaign Zero and for some reason, DeRay
wouldn’t take the bait. Sam was like, asleep. Sam lived in. (laughs) Sam lived in California. – He’s always sleeping when it gets bad. – They mad, Sam goes to sleep. – You started this. – And our friend Britney was like I don’t know, doing something. So I was the only one who was awake who saw what he was saying and I had time so I was
just like in the airport going back and forth with him until he blocked me
because I was just like you will not disrespect me into or bully me into talking
about your issues. And I was like, you can
actually just send someone else. And maybe we can talk. So it’s like the whole barrier of culture and like, they experience white supremacy in a different way than we do. And it’s just like all these things that keep us apart,
which is really fucked up and it shouldn’t. But if you come at me, you know. It’s hard, it’s hard to bully someone into caring about your issues. And that’s how we experience
most international black experiences. But I’ve had some good ones too. – [Dan] My name is Dan and I’m a sophomore and just thanks so much for coming. I’m like, geeking out and I’ve been like, looking forward to
this panel for awhile. Anyway, thanks. My question is Netta and Morgan ya’ll both talked about the emotional aspect of this work and the importance and the power of the emotions involved. And what I see a lot especially from like, people
in western schools of thought is like, emotions should stay
out of objective reasoning. And can’t be part of the argument. So my question is how do you respond to people like that who say emotions aren’t part of this work when they’re obviously so important? – The only time I ever hear that is when it’s usually from
black academics on Twitter. Black academics are a special… – No they, wait a second! Time out. – I can call ya’ll special. – Time out, time out. Are you? What’s the argument? What’s the argument that
you’re too emotional? – Yeah. Or that emotions don’t
take, or people are like oh, well she’s just
really young, she’s mad. She’s angry, blah, blah, blah. Because I was 25 when Ferguson happened. I’m about to be 27 and it’s
just like I’m not young. I’m mad. I mean I am young but it’s just like I’m not a child, like I pay bills. I’m grown as hell. – Clearly. (audience laughs) – But yeah, black academics on Twitter are like a real special,
maybe I’ll just say everywhere because I’ve experienced them on Twitter on Facebook, on Tumblr and I’m just like oh God, ya’ll are just so much. And it’s like, it sucks
because they’re really smart. They do all this research
and things that matter like, I didn’t finish school. So everyone on this panel
has a degree but me. And I’m just always looking
at it from the outside what are ya’ll, why? Like why does it have
to be so complicated? Why can’t you just say what
the hell you’re actually trying to say? Why do you have to add 60 extra words to this one thing. Like, trying to sound extra smart. Like we already know you’re smart. (audience laughing) And so I think the
removing just the simple ways you can apply whatever this theory is makes people remove their emotions too. My ex-boyfriend was really brilliant. And his emotions, he just couldn’t emote. He was like, really fucked up and I was just like,
what is wrong with you? (audience laughing) If you want to cry, my dude cry. (audience laughing) It’s just stupid. So it really worries me because
I’m about to go to school. Go back to school in the fall and I’m just like, I do not want to be one of these people. So, I’m very like… I just believe in being very simple. My emotions have lead me many a places. I have always just gone
with what I feel is right. And it’s gotten me pretty far. So when people are like oh well you should map
out or draw a diagram or you need to, it’s like no I don’t. I actually, what I’ve
been doing is pretty good. I just need to tighten it up. You know what I’m saying? Or maybe learn some new
skills, I can do that and still apply it to
what I do or how I do it. But I don’t have to go write
30 dissertations every day or have a Twitter fight with someone about oh, well you use this wrong and it’s like you’re talking about theory and I’m actually in the streets getting my ass kicked. So fuck you and your theory because you won’t get out your ivy tower and meet me in the streets. So I just, I really have
a love/hate relationship with academics. – I think that was well said. (audience laughs) – I think is an interesting question about gender as well right? Because there’s a way
that women get discredited for being emotional and then their emotions are what launches a lot of the reasons why people get in. Without the mother’s grief,
we don’t have movements right? And so I’m interested in
the men, if you get this. – That was good, without
the mother’s grief we don’t have a movement, that was good. – Read a book, read it. – Sometimes we do it right. – That was a credit, that
was a tweet, that was good. – Sometimes we do it right. Follow my timeline. – I’m gonna tweet that, that was good. – So, but I want to ask
this gender question because for the men, where does then the emotion stuff go into the critique or do you even get that critique? – My emotion, so I’m part of the problem because I channel my emotion into sort of figuring out how to come at it using the data and the research but still do it in a way that is like, not kosher right? Like, it is in a way that… Like if somebody writes
a fucked up article and they like, on the Ferguson effect I would do this on the
Ferguson effect all the time because this idea would
just get shipped out there that police are like,
not policing anymore. And because police aren’t policing anymore like, crime is going up so we really need the
police to be killing folks so that they can keep crime down. That’s the theory. And you know, there’s no data behind it. Police were killing more
people after Ferguson than they were in the
months before Ferguson so like, there wasn’t
any not killing people that they were saying. They weren’t testing that assumption. And then crime rates weren’t even going up in any really statistically
significant way across the country when you actually incorporate it weren’t cherry picking cities like the New York Times was doing. So the entire argument was wrong. And folks would just push this out there. It was in the media, people
writing articles about it. Using it to discredit the
movement, yada, yada, yada. And so I would come at them directly. And go, like where are your facts. Where’s your data, why are you pushing this racist narrative. All of this stuff directly but it was sort of more reserved. I wasn’t just like, you know. I didn’t say like, fuck you you’re a terrible person. But I wanted to say it. (audience laughs) I would try to be like,
okay here’s how the numbers are wrong and I think in many ways it’s like, some people respond to that in a different way but some people just want to see “Fuck you, your numbers are wrong.” Or, “Fuck you.” You know, “You’re a bad person.” Because it’s true right? And so you shouldn’t have to… You shouldn’t be afraid of the truth because the truth is something that people will respond to regardless right? And I think in many ways the truth can look different
to different people. But speak your truth right? Speak your truth, speak it
the way you want to speak it. And be conscious of the ways in which you know, folks your own truth, like as a man oftentimes I feel I have to
sugarcoat what I’m saying in numbers and data because I went through academia and that’s what I was taught. It was institutionalized. And you know, as Netta said that’s just… That’s not necessarily true right? Netta has spoken a truth. Hasn’t needed to do that and still been much more
effective than I have at speaking the truth right? And so she got a lot
more followers than me. (audience laughs) Sadly. So… – You sad? (audience laughing) – So yeah, so just speak your truth. Speak your truth, speak it
the way you want to speak it. And don’t be afraid. – I will say. You know, I actually,
I feel like I’ve gotten to be emotional about the movement. I feel like people are okay with it when it’s about the movement. But I can’t say anything
emotional about me right? So if I ever, like if
somebody says anything and I disagree with it it’s like immediately like
DeRay doesn’t take feedback. I get that a lot. So I think about when I taught
the two day course at Yale. I taught this two day course at Yale. It was a new program,
it had never happened like it happened before, blah, blah, blah. It was very cool. Fox News tweeted it out
and it became this thing. And like, the academics,
like black academics took me to, I mean it was like direct. We’ve worked our entire career. We don’t know how DeRay,
like this huge thing. And I couldn’t, anything I said to people. Anything was immediately
like, he’s defensive. And that is a box that I get trapped in. And that is really hard. That I can be emotional
about everything but me. And as a candidate it’s been interesting because I can’t even
be emotional about me. So if I tweet like, “I want waffles.” People are like, he’s not serious. That’s not a real campaign. And you’re like, this is, you know? – Who doesn’t love waffles? – I mean it’s just like
a really, Leggo my Eggo. (audience laughing) So as a candidate the box is actually closed much more. If I don’t tweet about
Baltimore, the police and maybe like, education it immediately is like,
DeRay’s just running to get more visits. It cannot be that I am
actually a whole person who also needs a haircut today. You know, I just don’t get it. And that is a really interesting. And being gay is interesting because it’s like important to people only when they’re trying to use
it for something else right? Then like, it becomes the men
are destroying the movement and then there’s DeRay. And then it’s like well,
you know queer people are leading the movement. People will be like LGB but
not whatever they put me as. You know, is leading. And I’m like okay, this is just deep. – Joy? – [Joy] Thank you all for being here. On behalf of my peers,
friends, and classmates we really appreciate your
voices and your presence here at Georgetown. So a couple months ago, I was introduced to the idea of F.A.I.L as an acronym. So First Attempt In Learning. And I really, it took to me and I see failure now as
something that’s necessary to progress and growth. So in the spirit of not idolizing you all and kind of celebrating your humanity what would you call your best failure? – Sounds like a good question. (audience laughing) That’s a great question. Try to keep it to one. – Yeah right? – I got hellas. – I started a start up in undergrad. I went to Wash. U. And it was with four
of my closest friends. And it was, how many of
you have this problem at the end of the semester or end of the quarter, depends
on how you guys are on. You run out of meal points right? And so you’re like, looking
for things that have free food. Or you’re like, hitting
up freshmen meal plans. At Wash. U that’s what went down. But we had so many events
that had free food. So we were building a system that let you search, and this was before Facebook events were big right? So you could search events
and see which events had free food and then go to them because you were running
out of meal points. Which was fine for the campus orgs because they needed to hit certain numbers and so it was a great exchange right? Brilliant idea, so convinced. But what I failed at was that
we didn’t organize very well. I mean, I started it with my friends and we were just like, excited about it. And we ultimately failed because we tried to make it perfect and it never launched. And you know? I think it was a great idea. We could have gotten far. But yeah, we were just trying
too much for perfection because we didn’t understand that in the world of technology and innovation you don’t need to be perfect to launch. You can just be good enough. Minimal viable product, MVP. – One more failure story? – I dropped out of school and my grandmother cried. My mom made a real big deal. I didn’t care, it wasn’t
what I wanted to do. I was really bored. School was just really boring to me. I just, I feel like I had other shit to do and not be… The schools I went to were all white and I was like, ugh this aint it. I didn’t really know a lot of people. I didn’t have a lot of
black friends there. And I just came home and got a job. But my mom was also sick at the time so I would just rather. Like, my mind was everywhere else but sitting in a classroom. But, I learned lots of
real life experience. I was supposed to go back
to school in August of 2014 but clearly I was out protesting. I was supposed to get
a job in August of 2014 or like, looking to get one and I was in the streets. So I was just like, fuck it. And my grandmother was
like, she took my car. (laughs) So we, at least for the first six months. DeRay and I spent almost
every day together when he was in St. Louis
because I didn’t have a car. He would have to come get me. And I would just suck,
I felt like a failure because I pay my car
note and you took my car because you don’t want me to protest. Like, what the fuck is this. So we just had lots of fights. It was really ugly. I’ve never really cursed
at my grandmother before but Ferguson inspired lots of new things. (audience laughs) But I don’t curse at her now. We back where you know,
where we should be. – Alright, we’re gonna take some of the. Tell me your question and
then we’ll distribute them. Oh hey, how are you? – [Javier] How you doing? My name is Javier Starks,
I’m a hip-hop artist youth advocate, and teacher working in the Washington DC area. I grew up in Baltimore. And so it’s, I guess this
question is for everybody. How do you feel that art music, visual, whatever will play a role in the things that you guys
are doing moving forward such as campaigns or
obviously Blavity, you know. It’s like your outlet. But for someone such as myself we don’t see as many outlets
per se for those things so I was just curious you know. How do you guys view this. How do you see yourselves
using artists and art itself to further your message or per se to just share this you know? What, I’m gonna leave it at that. That’s all, I guess that’s all. – Thanks Javier. The next question? – [Kate] Hey, my name is Kate Chandler. I’m in the culture and
politics program here. And my question… I’m trying very hard not to give a comment but I want you to sort of react to the ways in which the past 10 months with Donald Trump’s campaign has been one of the most racist past 10 months. Especially in terms of the ways it’s been presented in the media. Using a lot of the same platforms that you guys are using, including Twitter and Facebook and all
of these other things. And so, given the sort of ways in which this has
dominated the white media what are the responses
that you guys have to this? – Excellent, and the last question? – [Man] This is a Baltimore question and I guess it’s DeRay’s intimacy that would answer to this. And it’s really about the image and the dynamics of Baltimore. The whole imagery from
Inner Harbor to Federal Hill to African American museum downtown. To West Baltimore. And the Freddie killing. When we got all the pictures back and we have a black
prosecutor, black Mayor. When we get the pictures back of who were involved in the Freddie Hill we see maybe half minorities in there. And is there, you know
thinking of rookie cops thinking of these sort of
mentality of police forces and so forth which adapt to maybe a majority culture. You know, just trying to go along we’re trying to fit in or
try to rise or whatever. How is the dynamic, how do
you feel that whole dynamic played out among those members who are now being prosecuted
by black prosecutors for the Freddie killing? You know, what goes on psychologically in the minds of those
members of the police force? – So we have three questions. One about Freddie Gray and Baltimore. The role of artists and this thing called Trump. So, we can start with
whichever ones you would like. – I’ll give just three comments. One is the Baltimore issue is that we know that representation alone is not justice right? Just because there are
black people in power doesn’t mean the world suddenly changes or that racism goes away. And what is interesting
about being a candidate is that what I’ve come to understand is that there are two things in Baltimore that have held us back. One is that there’s no strategy. That there are like, resources. That there are amazing people and talent but there’s no plan at the city level. So people are working in silos. And the second is about scale. That so many of our problems
in Baltimore are scaled but the solutions aren’t. So there’s 70,000 addicts. 40% of our adults cannot
functionally read. 25% of our pre-K students
are chronically absent. They miss 20 days or more right? And we just don’t have the
solutions aren’t at scale. And we have to, if we don’t do those we’ll just piecemeal the world. And I think about artists. Artists are storytellers
and we have to privilege different ways of telling stories. Like, would the people we
fight against have done so well as tell these stories about whiteness as normal, as what it means to be alive. And art helps us tell stories differently. Like, it functions as
a window and a mirror. A window helping us to see you know, what is possible
and what is happening. And a mirror in the sense that
we see ourselves differently and I think that that is
what the role of art is. And then Trump’s interesting because Trump is like
a phenomenal reminder that it is about the story that sells not about the story of substance right? And like, he is an incredible click bait. He is a caricature. And he has mastered, you know. I say this as somebody who
does a lot of interviews. Is that he knows how to
talk to the camera so well. He’s not talking to the public,
he’s talking to the camera. And he’s mastered what it’s
like to talk to the camera. Trump will implode one day and the question is
like, how do we make sure that we’re not part of the
collateral damage right? For Trump to destroy Breitbart. For Trump to take out Fox News. Like that, for Trump to
make the RNT something that will not be the
same after his candidacy is incredible. I mean, that is, we couldn’t. The Left could not have done that right? Trump did it. But there is something about making sure that we don’t become the casualties. How do we not become
the casualties of Trump I think is a real question. – I just want to say
that I really feel like you wasted a question by
asking us about Trump. As in, Trump is not something that just magically appeared one day. On Twitter, on Facebook his supporters, they’ve always been there. They just suddenly became Trump supporters because he’s so vocal and visible. And loud and obnoxious
and just openly racist. But he speaks to other races that already existed here so it’s like, I don’t even
know what new there is. What’s new to say about Trump. He’s the same person who probably trolled Ferguson protestors. He’s the same person who probably trolled the Black Power Movement in the ’70s. He’s the same God damn person with his foot on Martin Luther King’s neck when he had on the suit. He’s the same person
who was also an overseer on a plantation. Trump is not new. So I don’t like, really give a fuck about anything related to him because it’s always the same. White supremacy is the fucking same. It changes, it shifts, it molds to the way black people are or to the way the world
is shifting and changing but nothing about him is new. I really wish you would have
asked a different question. I’m sorry, Trump just makes me really hot. And as a white person, I was expecting you to ask about ally-ship or you know, how to be… – Well do you want to talk about that? – No, but these are just the things. (audience laughs) This is what I was expecting. Not like, for us to have to spend time talking about Donald Trump and
his raggedy ass supporters. (audience laughs) – I could talk about art I think. (audience and panel laughs) – Thank you Sam, I love you. – So, I think ultimately we have to conceptualize art as something that is broader than what
hangs in a gallery right? Like, art is the way
that we visualize data. Art is the way that stories are told brilliantly on Twitter. Right, it is the pictures that are taken and how they capture a particular moment and a feeling and exactly what happened at that point. So all of that is art and I think the power of art is to communicate things very succinctly and very powerfully. And to appeal to the people,
to people’s whole person right? And so you know I think about it in the context of Campaign Zero. You know, we’ve been very conscious about how do we use data visualization to tell the story in a way that you just
cannot with text alone. And I think there’s a lot
more work to still be done in terms of taking that outside of the digital space and creating it in the physical space with physical art right? Whether it’s an installation whether it is graffiti. Whether like, how do
we make it unavoidable the fact that you know, what
Campaign Zero does really well is show that there are
solutions to these issues and here’s what they are. Here’s sort of the
categories of solutions. And that they need to be pushed in a comprehensive way right? Like body cameras alone is not
going to solve this problem. You know, changing the use of force policy is not gonna solve this problem alone when you don’t have an
accountability system to make sure police are adhering to it. So, I think how do we use art and how do artists think
about how to tell that story in a physical space so that people walking down the street are confronted with it in a way that they can
choose to avoid on Twitter. – Yeah, I would add. You know, art has always
been how we communicated as a people right? It’s one of the things
that we can control. And you know, audio, visuals and it’s incredibly important. I think it’s a foundation
to a lot of change movements and an emotional connection which ultimately drives change right? So, for those of you who are artists I mean, think of yourselves
as absolutely core and essential to what we all do. I mean, I look on Instagram on hours just going through people’s feeds and just being like, jesus. These people are so talented. And how can we take some of that talent and add the tools and technology to help disseminate it. You know, Sam you were talking
about the physical world. I think that’s really important because then it gets outside
of your bubble right? Like on Instagram you can only go off of like, maybe the discover channel. But mostly just people
who follow you right? But if you’re physically there then you can’t walk around it right? You can’t walk past it. You have to like, not look at the building with the mural on it right? So I think that’s really important. And to Trump, I think you know. Trump is just a constant reminder of what we’re fighting against and I think you know,
for me I was in denial for a really long time,
what was happening. I was. I was like, we’re not gonna cover Trump. We literally had a no
Trump rule at Blavity. And a lot of other
publications kinda had one. HuffPo had one. Buzzfeed. But you can’t do that. You can’t ignore it because there are legitimate
people going to the polls and voting and even registering to vote to vote for Trump right? And I think for most of you in this room what our power is, is that
we typically don’t vote. We talk a lot, we
chitchat on the internet. We’re in the comment section. We’re doing this, we’re doing that but we don’t actually vote. And that to me is our biggest challenge. And the biggest opportunity area for us to impact what happens in the fall and impact things that
happen in local elections. It’s registering to vote and
actually going to go vote. – Thank you so much. On behalf of Georgetown University and the Lannan Center and a generation, I just
want to say thank you so much for spending time with us. (audience applauds)

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