MetroFocus: June 2, 2021

NEW AMERICAN DREAM: TANGIBLE LESSONS LEARNED FROM FIVE-WEEK VIRTUAL FORUM

Over the past month, The WNET Group has been airing a virtual discussion series called, New American Dream, which examined the impact of white supremacy on America today in relation to five aspects of contemporary society: voting rights, artificial intelligence and genetic data, journalism, antiracism, and cultural narrative. Before the start of the series, we had a conversation with several of the series’ panelists to give you a preview of what you could expect when you tuned in. Tonight, we are following up with our friends from New American Dream to find out what they learned from their experience. Returning tonight from the New American Dream discussion series is, Afaf Nasher, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of New York, Kimberly Peeler-Allen, the co-founder of Higher Heights, and singer songwriter and entrepreneur, Sandra Lilia Velasquez. And joining us tonight for the first time, is the curator of New American Dream, Brian Tate.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WALKEN HEIN THE III.

DR. ROBERT C AND TINA STONE FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

OVER THE PAST MONTH THE WNET GROUP HAS BEEN AIRING A VIRTUAL DISCUSSION SERIES CALLED 'NEW AMERICAN DREAM,' EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN AMERICA TODAY, VOTING RIGHTS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND GENETIC DATA.

JOURNALISM, ANTI-RACISM, AND CULTURAL NARRATIVE.

BEFORE THE SAEURERIES AIRED WE A CONVERSATION RIGHT HERE ON 'METROFOCUS' WITH SEVERAL OF THE SERIES PANELISTS TO GIVE AGREE VIEW OF WHAT YOU COULD EXPECT WHEN YOU TUNED IN.

TONIGHT WE ARE FOLLOWING UP WITH OUR FRIENDS FROM NEW AMERICAN DREAM TO FIND OUT WHAT THEY LEARNED FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE.

RETURNING TO 'METROFOCUS' TONIGHT FROM NEW AMERICAN DREAM DISCUSS SERIES, IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COUNCIL AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS OF NEW YORK.

WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.

THANK YOU.

GLAD TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

WE ARE JOINED BY KIMBERLY PEELER ALLEN.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

WE HAVE SINGER, SONGWRITER, AND ENTREPRENEUR, SANDRA VELASQUEZ.

WELCOME BACK.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

JOINING US TONIGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP SPECIALISTS AND CURE RATER OF NEW AMERICAN DREAM, RYAN TATE.

IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON THE SHOW?

WONDERFUL TO BE HERE WITH YOU, AND THIS ESTEEMED GROUP, JENNA.

OF COURSE.

NOW, BRIAN, I DO WANT TO START WITH YOU.

SINCE YOU WERE THE ONE THAT PUT THIS TOGETHER, REALLY, HOW DID NEW AMERICAN DREAM FIRST COME TOGETHER AND WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION AND THE GOAL FOR THIS SERIES?

WELL, FROM MY WORK WITH THE STATION OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, WE HAVE BEEN MEETING WITH DOZENS OF COMMUNITY LEADERS AND THOUGHT LEADERS AND DOERS FROM ACROSS NEW YORK CITY TO TALK ABOUT THE TOP ISSUES AFFECTING NEW YORKERS.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE LEARNED EARLY ON -- WE MET WITH ABOUT 300 PEOPLE ACROSS SECTORS AND BURROWS, AND ONE OF THE TOP ISSUES AFFECTING NEW YORK CITY AND BEYOND WAS SYSTEMIC RACISM, SO WE KNEW EARLY ON WE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING AROUND THAT AND IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A PUBLIC CONVERSATION.

THE THOUGHT WAS LET'S DO SOMETHING REALLY BOLD, LET'S DO SOMETHING REALLY NECESSARY, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THE TIMES DEMAND, AND LET'S LOOK AT SYSTEMIC RACISM ACROSS FIVE WEEKS, JUST GIVE IT A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A CHALLENGE, AND THAT'S WHEN THE WHOLE PIECE STARTED TO COME TOGETHER.

A LOT OF THE RESEARCH THAT I HAVE BEEN DOING AROUND SYSTEMIC RACISM, AND JUST ISSUES GOING ON IN AMERICA POINTED US TO THOSE LENSES OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND JOURNALISM AND RACISM AND WHAT HAVE YOU, AND IT HAS BEEN A REAL THRILL TO GATHER WITH THESE FOLKS THAT YOU SEE HERE TONIGHT AND MANY, MANY OTHERS, TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO LOOK BEYOND THESE ISSUES OF WHITE SUPREMACY AND SYSTEMIC RACISM.

WELL, GIVEN THE PANELISTS, THE ESTEEMED PANELISTS, I SHOULD MENTION, THAT YOU PUT TOGETHER THAT HAVE BEEN GREAT AND INSIGHTFUL FOR ALL OF THIS, I AM WONDERING FROM EACH ONE OF YOU, WHAT HAS PARTICIPATING IN NEW AMERICAN DREAM BEEN LIKE, AND DOES IT SOMEHOW STAND APART FROM PERHAPS OTHER TYPES OF WORK THAT YOU HAVE DONE IN THIS FIELD?

AND I'LL START WITH YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON WHAT THE SERIES HAS BEEN LIKE.

SO JENNA, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I HAVE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE SERIES, AND THIS IS WHAT I SOMEWHAT KNEW BUT IT HAS BEEN EMPHASIZED THROUGHOUT THE SERIES, THE PREVALENT AND HOW SYSTEMIC RACISM REALLY WORKS IN SUCH A PROFOUND WAY ACROSS THE BOARD TOWARDS SO MANY COMMUNITIES, AND ALTHOUGH IN SOME INSTANCES AND IN SOME WAYS THE EXPERIENCES THAT EACH COMMUNITY FACES IS UNIQUE.

THE OPPRESSIVE FORCES THAT BRING FORTH THE OPPRESSION THAT WE HAVE ALL BEEN TALKING ABOUT THROUGHOUT THIS SERIES HAVE PRETTY MUCH BEEN THE SAME IN TERMS OF A DOMINATING SUPREMACY THAT IS THERE THAT IS TRYING TO BE MAINTAINED AT ALL COSTS, THE ECONOMIC DISPARITIES, AND HOW WE SEE PREVALENCE IN LIVES IN SCHOOLS, ELECTIONS, AND BIOGENETICS AND WHAT THIS HAS BROUGHT TO LIGHT.

YOU CAN SEE IT COME OUT, NOT JUST ANY OF ONE OF THE MOST PROU FOUND WAYS, AND WHAT THE MEDIA FOCUSES ON, BUT IN OTHER WAYS THAT WE DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE PREVALENCE OF SYSTEMIC RACISM WORKS IN THE HEALTH CARE FIELD AND SO MANY OTHER FIELDS, AND THAT'S SOMETHING I OWE TO MY COLLEAGUES AND OTHER PANELISTS, TO REALLY GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW ENTER RELATED ALL THESE IDEAS ARE, AND THEY ARE ALL UNDER THE SAME KIND OF OPPRESSIVE FORCE THAT WORKS IN CONNECTION AND GEARS WITH ONE ANOTHER, AND HOW THEY FEED ONE ANOTHER TO REALLY SORT OF SILENCE FOLKS AND TO REALLY KEEP THEM AS THE DOMINATING FORCE, IN THIS CASE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACY, TO KEEP THE DOMINATORS IN POWER.

KIMBERLY, I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD BUILD ON THAT WITH YOUR TAKEAWAY?

AGAIN, A VERY IMPORTANT THING WAS MENTIONED AND THAT'S HOW FREQUENTLY A LOT OF GROUPS TEND TO FEEL AS THOUGH THEIR EXPERIENCE IS SILOED, AND JUST HAPPENING TO THEM, WHEN IN FACT THEY MIGHT MANIFEST IN DIFFERENT WAYS, AS FOSTER SO VERY BEAUTIFULLY PUT IT, IT HAPPENS TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.

YEAH, THAT'S DEFINITELY BEEN ONE OF THE GREAT TAKEAWAYS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THIS IS BREAKING DOWN THE SILOS.

AS WE ALL, YOU KNOW, REALIZE AND DISCUSS HOW OUR COMMON EXPERIENCES MANIFEST THEMSELVES IN DIFFERENT WAYS, WE ALSO ARE HAVING VERY CLEAR CONVERSATIONS ABOUT HOW BY BREAKING DOWN THESE SILOS WE CAN COLLECTIVELY WORK TO BREAK DOWN WHITE SUPREMACY AND REALLY CHANGE HOW THINGS ARE DONE ACROSS THE BOARD.

THE AWARENESS OF IT'S NOT JUST WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE REALM OF POLITICS AND VOTER SUPPRESSION, BUT ALSO HOW IS AI PLAYING INTO THIS, AND WHAT ARE ALL OF THESE WAYS THAT WE ARE ALL PIGGYBACKING ON EACH OTHER, AND BY BREAKING THAT DOWN WE'RE ABLE TO SAY, OKAY, I'M GOING TO THINK MORE HOLISTICALLY ABOUT THE WORK THAT I AM DOING, BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST EFFECTIVE MY SILO, IT'S SETTING A TREND ACROSS THE BOARD, AND HAVING THESE VERY OPEN CONVERSATIONS AND VERY CLEARLY CONNECTING THE DOTS ALLOWS PEOPLE TO COLLECTIVELY IN A VERY COMPREHENSIVE WAY WORK AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY.

OF COURSE.

SANDRA, I THINK I SORT OF ASKED YOU THE QUESTION THE LAST TIME YOU WERE ON THE SHOW BEFORE THE SERIES HAPPENED, AND THAT, OF COURSE, WAS ABOUT THE ISSUE OF CULTURAL NARRATIVE, BECAUSE, AGAIN, TO A LAYPERSON YOU MIGHT LOOK AT THE PROGRAMMING LANDSCAPE RIGHT NOW, AND SAY, YOU KNOW, I AM SEEING A LOT OF DIVERSITY, SO WE'RE FIXING THE CULTURAL NARRATIVE, BUT FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE HAVING BEEN THROUGH THE SERIES, WHAT WAS YOUR UNIQUE TAKEAWAY?

WELL, SUBTLE TAKEAWAYS.

FIRST, I THINK THIS ONGOING SERIES SHOULD BE ONGOING FOREVER, ACTUALLY, AND IT SHOULD BE A COMPONENT OF WNET, AND IT SHOULD BE A COMPONENT OF NEW YORK GOVERNMENT.

IT'S GREAT THAT IT WAS FIVE WEEKS LONG BUT IT SHOULD REALLY BE 52 WEEKS LONG, SO RYAN, IF YOU CAN JUST GET ON THAT.

AS LIKE A MEXICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN AND A PERFORMER THAT PLAYS LATIN MUSIC, MY EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN THAT TOKEN LATIN BAND, YOU KNOW.

YOU KNOW, SO THERE'S -- I DON'T THINK THAT HAS REALLY GONE AWAY, BUT AS WE TALK ABOUT IT IN OUR LAST INTERVIEW, THE INTERNET DEMOCRATIZED THING AND PEOPLE CAN BUILD THEIR OWN LABELS AND THEY CAN BUILD THEIR OWN ONLINE PLATFORMS AND DON'T NEED TO GET AUTHORITY OR PERMISSION FROM THESE BIGGER, YOU KNOW, INSTITUTIONS TO CREATE THEIR ART, SO THAT IS POWERFUL.

BUT DOES THAT ANSWER YOUR QUESTION?

I MEAN, IT SORT OF DOES.

I GUESS I'M ALSO WONDERING IF YOU FEEL AS THOUGH HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THIS SERIES GAVE YOU A DEEPER INSIGHT INTO HOW THE CULTURAL NARRATIVE GOT TO BE THE WAY IT IS, AND HOW IT NEEDS TO BE ADJUSTED OR DOES IT NEED TO BE ADJUSTED?

YES, I MEAN, MY ENTIRE CAREER HAS BEEN FOCUSED ON SPECIFICALLY SINGING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WOMEN'S RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS, RACISM AND IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS, SO I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN THAT WORLD, AND I USED MUSIC AS MY PLATFORM TO DO THAT BECAUSE FOR ME IT WAS LIKE THE HOOK WAS THE MUSIC, I CAN GET PEOPLE DANCING AND THEN I WILL HIT THEM WITH REALLY SERIOUS LYRICS.

I THINK ANY WAY WE CAN UTILIZE OUR PLATFORMS TO CREATE CONVERSATIONS, TO ME THAT'S WHY I AM AN ARTIST TO BEGIN WITH.

IT'S REALLY ABOUT THE IMPACT.

IT'S NOT ABOUT JUST THE AFFECT.

WELL, OF COURSE, I THINK PART OF THE DISCUSSIONS OF HOW WE GOT HERE ARE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, AND THERE WAS A BIG DISCUSSION WITHIN THE SERIES WHERE YOU GUYS GOT A CHANCE TO REALLY GET INTO WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE JANUARY 6th INSURRECTION, AND WHETHER OR NOT THERE WILL BE CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN, AND FOR KIMBERLY AND THE STAFF YOU BOTH TALKED ABOUT A DOUBLE STANDARD THAT WAS, I GUESS, EXPOSED WITH ALL OF THIS.

YEAH, IT WAS DEFINITELY -- THE DOUBLE STANDARD IS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN SO PREVALENT OVER THE LAST YEAR, AND NOW YOU CAN'T PUT THE MIRROR DOWN OF UNDERSTANDING HOW THE INSURRECTIONISTS WERE TREATED, HOW THEY WERE LED OUT OF THE CAPITOL AND THEY WERE NOT ARRESTED UNTIL THEY WERE BACK IN THEIR HOMES WHERE WE HAD PROTESTERS IN LAFAYETTE SQUARE WHO WERE -- YOU KNOW, HAD TEAR-GAS, PEPPER SPRAY PUT ON THEM TO CLEAR THE SQUARE.

THEY WERE COMPLETELY NONVIOLENT AND JUST, YOU KNOW, BASIC PROTESTERS.

TO HAVE THOSE TWO IMAGES IN ALL OF THE IMAGERY WE HAVE SEEN, IT WAS PROFOUND TO SEE THAT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.

IF PEOPLE WERE NOT AWARE OR DID NOT WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE DOUBLE STANDARD, THEY COULDN'T IGNORE IT ANY FURTHER.

I THINK, AGAIN, BACK TO MY EARLIER POINT OF BY LAYING IT ALL BARE AND CONNECTING THE DOTS AND MAKING IT FRONT OF MIND, IT'S ONLY THEN THAT WE CAN REALLY FACE THIS AND CHANGE HOW THINGS OPERATE AND HOW THINGS ARE DONE, BUT IT'S THAT LACK OF AWARENESS THAT I THINK SO MANY PEOPLE HAD NOT NECESSARILY EXPERIENCED, PEOPLE OF COLOR WERE NOT AT ALL SURPRISED, THEY WERE DISAPPOINTED AND ANGERED BY THE TREATMENT OF THE INSURRECTIONISTS ON JANUARY 6th, BUT IT WAS JUST, YOU KNOW, ANOTHER DAY IN AMERICA FOR MANY OF US TO WITNESS.

I THINK THAT'S THE POINT THAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE FOCUSED UPON.

THE DRAMA OF THE SITUATION, THE FACT IT HAPPENED, WHERE IT HAPPENED AND HOW IT HAPPENED AND HOW IT PLAYED OUT THAT WAS ON ALL CHANNELS, YOU KNOW, AND THIS WAS THE SYMBOL OF AMERICA, THE SYMBOL OF DEMOCRACY THAT BROUGHT THAT MUCH ATTENTION TO IT, BUT EVERYBODY IN OUR CIRCLES ON A DAILY BASIS SEES THE DOUBLE STANDARD ALL THE TIME, AND BECAUSE IT IS SO NORMALIZED ON THE DAILY BASIS, IT DOESN'T RECEIVE THE ATTENTION THIS RECEIVED, RIGHT?

FOR US, THIS IS, HEY, OBVIOUSLY THERE'S GOING TO BE A DOUBLE STANDARD HERE AND WE SEE IT EVERY DAY IN OUR LIVES, AND OTHER PEOPLE, IT'S JUST A MOMENT OF RECKONING AND THEY CAN'T IGNORE IT NOW BECAUSE OF GRAND DRAMA OF HOW THIS CAME ABOUT AND HOW PEOPLE WERE SEEING IT ON THE TV SCREEN.

I DON'T WANT TO LINGER TOO MUCH ON THIS SPECIFIC INCIDENT, BUT MORE OF WHAT IT REPRESENTS, AND WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT, AND TO ME JANUARY 6th SEEMS LIKE A GREAT EXAMPLE OF CULTURAL NARRATIVE.

A LOT OF CASES, ESPECIALLY AS WHETHER OR NOT THIS, YOU KNOW, INVESTIGATIVE CONGRESSIONAL HEARING HAPPENS OR NOT, WE ARE SEEING IN REAL TIME PEOPLE ATTEMPTING TO REFRAME AND RESHAPE WHAT HAPPENED, EVEN THOUGH WE ALL SAW IT JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO, WHAT HAPPENED.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE HOW DOES THAT FIT INTO THE WAY THIS COUNTRY HAS HANDLED CULTURAL NARRATIVES PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO WHITE MOB VIOLENCE?

I THINK A COUPLE THINGS ARE AT WORK HERE, JENNA.

THERE'S A SAYING THAT THE PERSON THAT CONTROLS THE PAST CONTROLS THE PRESENT, AND THE PERSON THAT CONTROLS THE PRESENT CONTROLS THE FUTURE.

SO MUCH OF THE WAY STRUCTURAL RACISM WORKS IS AROUND NOT ONLY SILENCING PEOPLE WHO WOULD SPEAK AND ACT AGAINST IT, BUT ALSO JUST COMPLETELY RESTRUCTURE THE THING ITSELF AS IF IT DOES NOT EXIST, AS IF IT IS JUST A NORMAL STATE AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT.

WE, OF COURSE, KNOW THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

WHEN WE LOOK ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND WHEN WE LOOK AT THESE EVENTS ON JANUARY 6th -- PART OF IT IS -- YOU KNOW, IT'S A MANIFESTATION OF A CULTURAL MESSAGE THAT THIS IS NOT SIMPLY OKAY, THIS IS THE THING TO DO, AND THE CULTURE DRIVES POLICY, AND THE CULTURE ALSO DRIVES THE PUBLIC SENTIMENT, AND SO WHAT SURROUNDS THIS, THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN AND THE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT THAT EXISTED FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS ARE ACTUALLY THEY DON'T WORK, AND THEY ARE WORKING AGAINST YOU, AND ALL OF THOSE KINDS OF MESSAGES COME UP INTO THE CULTURE AND SPREAD A MESSAGE THAT THIS IS NOT SIMPLY OKAY, IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT WE COMMIT VIOLENT INSURRECTION AGAINST OUR GOVERNMENT.

NOW, I'M IN BROOKLYN SO -- IT'S NOISY.

THE OTHER MASSES IS PEOPLE WHO SPEAK OUT AGAINST ARE PEOPLE CRITICAL OF U.S. POLICY ARE SOMEHOW TRAITORS OR SOMEHOW UN-AMERICAN, AND WE SAW THAT WITH COLIN KAEPERNICK, FOR EXAMPLE, AND WE SEE THAT WITH A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING ACTUALLY TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE.

THE MESSAGE ABOUT THEM IS THAT THEY ARE UN-AMERICAN.

THE MESSAGE ABOUT OTHER FOLKS WHO ARE CAUGHT UP IN THIS WHIRLWIND, OH, NO, THESE ARE PATRIOTS.

YOU KNOW, I JUST THINK THAT IT'S IMPORTANT WHEN WE ARE DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES TO RECOGNIZE A COUPLE THINGS.

NUMBER ONE, IF THE CULTURE IS DRIVING THE POLICY AND THE CULTURE IS WHAT SHAPES THE FUTURE, PEOPLE THAT FIGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEOPLE THAT FIGHT FOR QUALITY HAVE A TREMENDOUS HISTORY OF CREATING A CULTURAL NARRATIVE, AND IF IT WORKS ON ONE SIDE IT WORKS ON THE OTHER AND THAT IS DONE THROUGHOUT HISTORY, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I FIND TO BE VERY EMPOWERING.

THE OTHER MESSAGE IS THAT SO MUCH IS POSSIBLE WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER ACROSS CULTURES AND ACROSS COMMUNITIES IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE RECOGNITION OF THE DIFFERENCES OF WHAT OUR EXPERIENCES ARE AND WHAT OUR GOALS AND AMBITIONS ARE, AND ALSO WITH THE RECOGNITION OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE WHEN WE COME TOGETHER, AND IT'S ALSO A PART OF OUR HISTORICAL LEGACY.

I AM SIMPLY SAYING THAT WHAT WORKS IN ONE LANE IN TERMS OF STRUCTURAL RACISM WORKS IN THE OTHER LANE IN TERMS OF JUST A MORE DEMOCRATIC -- A MORE INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE AND SUSTAINABLE NARRATIVE AND GOVERNMENT AND LIFE, AND I SEE IT IN AMERICA AND FAR BEYOND.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO CALL THESE THINGS WHAT THEY ARE, CALL THEM BY THEIR NAME, YOU KNOW.

CALL THEM -- TO CALL THEM OUT AND TO EXPOSE THEM AND MAKE CLEAR THAT, OH, NO, IT'S NOT ONLY THAT IT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENED, BUT THIS WAS NOT -- AND THAT THIS WAS NOT OKAY, BUT THAT THIS ACTIVITY IS THE UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITY.

I WANT TO SORT OF PIVOT OFF OF THIS ISSUE BUT NOT QUITE BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WHEN PEOPLE LISTEN TO SPEAKING TO EVENTS LIKE THIS, OR PANELS AND THEY ENGAGE AND PARTICIPATE, AND ONE OF THE BIG QUESTIONS PEOPLE COME AWAY WITH IS WHAT CAN WE DO?

WHAT IS THE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO BEGIN TO FIX THIS?

I KNOW ALL OF YOU HAVE WORKED VERY DEEPLY AND FOR A LONG TIME IN ONE OF THE -- ACTUALLY ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS PEOPLE MIGHT NOT THINK OF IS VOTING.

VOTING HAS ALSO BECOME A VERY HOT TOPIC IN OUR CULTURE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE NOT NECESSARILY IN NEW YORK, BUT WE HAVE SEEN IT ACROSS THE COUNTRY, A LOT OF STATE-LEVEL BILLS THAT ARE LOOKING TO -- I'LL SAY ALTER, TO BE POLITICALLY NEUTRAL, AND SO FROM THE PANELISTS I WANTED TO GET YOUR TAKE ON WHY VOTING IS TOUCH AN IMPORTANT PART -- AND PARTICIPATING IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF ADDRESSING SOME OF THE ISSUES, AND NOT JUST SHOWING UP FOR A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, BUT ALL OF THEM.

SO I'LL GO BACK TO YOU.

TELL US ABOUT GETTING PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS WHICH CAN SEEM LIKE IT'S BUILT TO TURN PEOPLE OFF?

YES, SO HERE IN NEW YORK, THERE'S AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS BEEN FOCUSSING ON GETTING OUT THE VOTE SPECIFICALLY WITHIN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY BECAUSE A LOT PORTION OF THE COMMUNITY, NOT ALL, BUT A LARGE PORTION IS FIRST OR SECOND GENERATION AMERICAN, AND I ALWAYS REMIND PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, VOTE SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT.

I TAKE MY FATHER -- MY FATHER WAS VERY MUCH INTO VOTING EVEN IF HE WAS TIED UP TIME OF VOTING, HE WOULD CALL US AND MAKE SURE WE WERE VOTING, AND HE IMPARTED IN US HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS, AND FOR MANY STRUGGLING, THEIR MAIN FOCUS IS PROVIDING FOR THEIR FAMILIES AND TRYING TO PROVIDE THE BASIC NECESSITIES, AND THINGS LIKE CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IS NOT ON TOP OF THE LIST.

ON TOP OF THAT, WHEN YOU FACE SYSTEMIC DEPRESSION, THERE'S A LEVEL OF OTHE MENTALITY THAT COMES INTO PLAY, I CAN'T CHANGE ANYTHING ANYWAY.

FOR EXAMPLE, I SEE IN MY COMMUNITY THERE'S A HUGE AMOUNT OF UNDER REPORTING FOR MANY THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO THEM, HATE CRIMES OR OTHER THINGS.

WHY IS 7?

THERE'S THE THOUGHT THAT WHAT I SAY DOESN'T MATTER, ESSENTIALLY.

WE ARE TRYING TO CHANGE THE MENTALITY WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES, AND SAYING, NUMBER ONE, DEFINITELY VOTE IN YOUR LOCAL ELECTIONS BECAUSE MANY OF THE POLICIES THAT HAPPEN ON A DAILY BASIS HAPPENS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, AND IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR VOICE WITH A VOTE IS NOT ENOUGH THEN YOU NEED TO BE RUNNING YOUR SELL.

WHY ARE YOU WAITING FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO REPRESENT YOU?

IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR VOTE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH, THEN YOU NEED TO BE ENGAGED ON A EVEN HIGHER LEVEL.

THE OTHER THING WE ARE TEACHING OUR COMMUNITY IS THAT ELECTED OFFICIALS SHOULD STOP BEING LOOKED AT LIKE ROCK STARS AND PEOPLE THAT CAN'T BE TOUCHED, AND THEY ARE NOT OFFICIALS BUT PUBLIC SERVANTS AND NEED TO BE TREATED AS SUCH, MEANING THEY NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE, AND WHEN THEY ARE USING YOU AS A PLATFORM TO GET THEIR NAME AND FACE OUT AND THEIR PHOTO OPES, AND THEY SAY ALL THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE RIGHT TIME, AND TAKE A DEEPER LOOK AT WHAT THEY ARE DOING ONCE THEY ARE IN OFFICE?

ARE THEY SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY'S NEEDS AND IF NOT THEY NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT.

THERE SHOULD NEVER BE A MEETING WITH AN ELECTED OFFICIAL WAS COMMUNICATING, AND THOSE ARE ASPECTS WE ARE TEACHING OUR COMMUNITY, AND DRIVING FORWARD THE REGISTRATION DRIVE AND THE CONCEPT OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND EMPOWERING THEM, AND WE SEE THIS, WE SEE SO MANY PEOPLE OF COLOR ENTERING INTO THE REALM OF POLITICS, AND WITHIN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY THERE HAS BEEN A HUGE SHIFT ACROSS THE NATION FOR MUSLIMS ENTERING POLITICS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY IN SUCH A WAY THAT IS SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF AND EMPOWERING.

OF COURSE.

I WANT TO ASK YOUR TAKE ON GETTING INVOLVED IN VOTING, ESPECIALLY SINCE AFTER THIS LAST ELECTION SO MUCH WAS MADE ABOUT UNDERSTANDING OR WRAPPING OUR HEADS AROUND THE LATINO DEAS LA WHY VOTING WEPTNT THE WAY IT DI?

THE REAL CHANGES START TO HAPPEN IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES AND NEIGHBORHOODS, AND THERE'S A LOT OF UNGLAMOROUS WORK HAPPENS AND I KNOW EVERYBODY HERE KNOWS THAT, AND IT'S NOT ALWAYS THAT WE'RE ON TV AND CHANGE IS HAPPENING VISIBLY, AND A LOT OF IT IS JUST QUIET DISCUSSIONS, AND THINGS HAPPENING THAT I WISH THERE WAS A LOCAL APP, AND WE HAVE AN APP FOR EVERYTHING THESE DAYS, AND WHY ISN'T THERE AN APP OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MY DISTRICT, POLITICALLY AND EVERYTHING, SO PEOPLE CAN FEEL MORE INVOLVED, YOU KNOW?

I FEEL LIKE THE INFORMATION -- WE'RE SO BUSINESS FRANCHISED.

WHERE DO I FIND INFORMATION?

WHO IS TELLING ME THE TRUTH, ET CETERA, AND I AM THROWING THAT OUT THERE FOR ANYBODY THAT WANTS TO CREATE THAT APP.

WE KNOW THE LATIN X COMMUNITY, PEOPLE GROUP US TOGETHER LIKE WE ARE FROM ONE COUNTRY, BUT I THINK THAT IS, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE ALSO JUST -- WE'RE IN A NEW ERA ABOUT NO STORIES ABOUT US IF WE ARE NOT TELLING THE STORIES OURSELVES, AND WE HAVE TO BE INVOLVED IN THAT, YOU KNOW.

I THINK THERE'S STILL -- THERE'S STILL A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE, AND THERE'S A LOT OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT WITHIN THE LATINO X COMMUNITY, AND SO THAT'S -- AGAIN, I DON'T KNOW IF I ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION --

LISTEN, I DON'T EXPECT YOU TO HAVE ALL OF THAT ANSWER, BECAUSE THAT IS WORTH SEVERAL MORE PANELS, AND I THINK YOU ILLUSTRATED WE NEED MORE TIME, BECAUSE WE NEED MORE TIME.

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK MY ENTIRE PANEL.

YOU HAVE BEEN GREAT.

THE SERIES WAS ABSOLUTELY JUST REALLY INFORMATIVE AND REALLY NOURISHING FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE AT A POINT WHERE THEY REALLY WANT TO KNOW HOW DO I UNDERSTAND BETTER THE MOMENT WE ARE ALL LIVING THROUGH, AND WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

SO THE DIRECTOR ON THE COUNSEL OF ISLAMIC RELATIONS OF NEW YORK, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF HIGHER HEIGHTS, THANK YOU.

SANDRA, SINGER AND SONGWRITER AND ENTREPRENEUR, THANK YOU.

NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT PBS AND WNET'S CURATOR OF NEW AMERICAN DREAM, RYAN TATE, THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, JENNA.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIN III, AND SYLVIA A. AND SIMON BPOYTA, AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLOR, JODY AND JOHN ARNOLD, THE CHERYL AND FPHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUY AND JOSH WESTON, AND THE DR.

ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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