Metrofocus: April 21, 2022

“Don’t Say Gay.” It’s the new Florida law drawing intense national scrutiny, that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Proponents contend it will protect parents and their right to “send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.” Across the United States, at least a dozen states are considering new legislation that in several ways will mirror Florida’s new controversial law. But to opponents, like New York Mayor Eric Adams says it is no more than a “targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ population.” And in the city where the Stonewall Inn riots ignited what many consider to be the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, that has long voiced its support for that community, Mayor Adams wants its message to be heard loud and clear. He is wallpapering the Sunshine State with digital billboards espousing New York City’s staunch opposition to the law. He’s also inviting members of Florida’s LGBTQ community to come to New York. Tonight, New York City council member and part of the LGBTQ caucus, Chi Ossé joins us.

Outspoken author, activist, and founder of “The Moral Courage Project” at USC, Irshad Manji offers perspective on labels, gender roles, and our divided nation.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, NEW YORK TAKES AIM AT FLORIDA'S DON'T SAY GAY LAW, BUT IS THE GOVERNOR DOING ENOUGH TO PROTECT NEW YORKERS BACK HOME?

PLUS HOW TO BRIDGE OUR DEEPENING POLITICAL DAVID.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪ ♪♪

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

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION, AND BY -- ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IN A MOVE FACING OPPOSITION DOWN SOUTH, NEW YORK CITY IS ROLLING OUT DIGITAL BILLBOARDS IN FLORIDA DENOUNCING STATE'S DON'T SAY GAY LAW.

THE BILLBOARDS INCLUDE THE MESSAGES COME TO THE CITY WHERE YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT AND ALSO LOUD, PROUD AND STILL ALLOWED.

THE ADS IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA'S PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION LAW WHICH BANS INSTRUCTION ON GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL INSTRUCTION.

IT IS DRAWING PRAISE FROM MANY INCLUDING OUR NEXT GUEST CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, ONE OF THE YOUNGEST COUNCIL MEMBERS EVER.

OSAY IS PART OF THE LGBT CAUCUS AND HE'S NOT SHIED AWAY FROM CRITICIZING THE MAYOR OVER OTHER ISSUES IMPACTING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM WITH US.

COUNCIL MEMBER, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU, JACK.

I'M EXCITED TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH THE NOTION OF DIGITAL BILLBOARDS.

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD ABOUT IT?

I THINK AS A YOUNG QUEER PERSON HEARING THE DRACONIAN LAWS, THE DRACONIAN LAW THAT WAS PASSED IN FLORIDA REALLY SCARCE ME, NOT JUST AS AN INDIVIDUAL, BUT FOR OTHER YOUNG LGBTQ+ PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA.

WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS IDEA AND ALSO UNDERSTOOD THAT WHEN IT COSTS TAXPAYER DOLLARS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY A PENNY, I REALLY DID THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA AND SOMETHING THAT I THINK NEW YORK CITY AS ONE OF THE YEAR CAPITALS OF THE WORLD, I SHOULD HAVE DONE IN RESPONSE TO RON DESANTIS' LAW.

DO YOU THINK IT'S MORE THAN JUST SYMBOLIC OR IS BEING SYMBOLIC ENOUGH HERE?

I THINK IT'S A LITTLE MORE THAN JUST SYMBOLIC.

I THINK WHEN AGAIN, YOUNG YEAR PEOPLE WILL SEE THAT THERE IS A SAFE PLACE, LIKE NEW YORK CITY CHA IS CALLING FOR THEM TO COME WHICH MANY YOUNG YEAR PEOPLE DO ACROSS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, I REALLY DO THINK IT MEANS SOMETHING AND I THINK IT WILL PROVIDE SOME SORT OF EXTRA SPARK FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS, SOME TIME IN THEIR LIVES TO COME TO NEW YORK CITY WHERE I ULTIMATELY THINK THAT THEY CAN BE THEMSELVES.

HOWEVER, I WILL SAY THAT IT IS LARGELY SYMBOLIC.

I THINK THERE'S A LOT MORE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE HERE IN NEW YORK CITY IN TERMS OF PROTECTING AND UPLIFTING YEAR PEOPLE, BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS AN OUNCE OF GREATNESS TO THESE BILLBOARDS THAT ARE BEING BUILT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SOME OF THE COMMENTS THAT ARE BEING MADE IN SUPPORT OF THIS AND GET YOUR RESPONSE TO THEM.

YOU MENTIONED GOVERNOR DESANTIS AND WE KNOW THAT GOVERNOR DESANTIS AND HE HAS SUPPORTERS THAT ARE NOT SUPPORTING HIM AND HE'S CLEARLY STAKING OUT POSITIONS IN WHAT HAVE BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE CULTURE WARS.

THAT'S WHAT HE'S DOING.

AGAIN, SOME PEOPLE MIGHT APPRECIATE THAT AND SOME PEOPLE DON'T.

HE HAS SAID, HIS WORDS, WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT PARENTS CAN SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL TO GET AN EDUCATION AND NOT AN INDOCTRINATION.

WE'VE HEARD FROM OTHER REPUBLICANS IN FLORIDA WHO SAY, LOOK, WE'RE NOT TARGETING ANY ONE GROUP AND THEIR COMMENTS IS THEY'RE PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM AGE INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL DISCUSSIONS AND ANY SEXUAL DISCUSSIONS THEY SAY IN THE CLASSROOM.

SO LET'S START WITH THAT.

THOSE SAYING WE'RE NOT TARGETING LGBT COMMUNITY, IT'S JUST NOT THE RIGHT AGE.

WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

MY RESPONSE IS EVEN GREATER THAN GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS AND IT SPEAKS TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AS A WHOLE.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STAGED A COUP OR ATTEMPTED TO STAGE A COUP AT THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6th OF 2021 AND EVER SINCE THEN THEY'VE DONE A GOOD JOB AT STEERING AWAY FROM THE HORRIFIC ACTS THAT THEY'VE DONE AGAINST OUR DEMOCRACY AND CREATING NOISE OVER SOME OF THE THINGS THAT REPUBLICANS HATE THE MOST.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY, BLACK PEOPLE.

THE DON'T SAY GAY BILL, TRANS PEOPLE AND BANNING ABORTIONS, SO THIS IS ALL A DISTRACTION FROM THE HORRIFIC, AGAIN, ACCENT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PARTICIPATED IN AND DEFENDED ON JANUARY 6th.

I THINK IT'S LESS ABOUT THEIR DISTASTE FOR QUEER IDENTITY THAT MAY BE CONTRADICTORY TO THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND DISTRACTING AND STEERING US AWAY AND FEAR MONGERING THE ELECTORATE AS MID TERMS ARE COMING ALONG.

LET ME MOVE FROM THE REPUBLICAN DOGMA AND THE COMMENTS FROM SOME REPUBLICANS AND WE'RE NOT SAYING THAT EVERY REPUBLICAN FEELS THIS WAY, AND LET ME ASK A MORE DIFFICULT QUESTION.

SUPPOSE A PARENT COMES UP TO YOU AND SAYS I SUPPORT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, I'M INVESTED IN IT AND AS A PARENT I'M NOT COMFORTABLE HAVING A YOUNG CHILD LEARN ABOUT ANY OF THIS, ANY SEXUAL-RELATED QUESTIONS AT THAT AGE.

WHAT'S THE RESPONSE TO THAT CONCERN?

IT ISN'T SEXUAL RELATED.

IT'S ABOUT IDENTITY.

I THINK WE HAVE A HISTORY LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF STRAIGHT COUPLES TEASING THEIR YOUNG KIDS ABOUT BEING BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND WHICH IS WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE.

SOME OF THESE BOOKS AND SOME OF THESE TEACHINGS AREN'T RELATED TO SEX AND IT'S ABOUT IDENTITY, YEAR LIBERATION AND BEING COMFORTABLE IN ONE'S SKIN, AND I THINK AGAIN, THE ESSENCE OF FEAR AND HOW IT'S BEEN MONTH SRDZ MONGERED THROUGH SEXUALIZATION OR WHAT I LEARNED THROUGH MY SCHOOLING.

YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO REALIZE THAT THE CITY OF NEW YORK IS NOT PAYING FOR THIS.

THIS IS NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS THAT ARE GOING TO THIS.

THESE BILLBOARDS ARE BEING FUNDED BY AN ADVERTISING FIRM NAMED KINETIC.

UH-HUH.

UNDERSTANDING THAT THEN, WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF THE IDEA OF EXPANDING THESE BILLBOARDS?

WE KNOW A NUMBER OF OTHER STATES HAVE MIMICKED THIS BY FLORIDA OR ARE PLANNING OR ATTEMPTING TO SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT AN ARRAY OF OTHER PLACES AND DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO SAY LET'S FOCUS ON THOSE STATES ALSO WITH NEW YORK CITY LEADING THE WAY?

YOU KNOW, IN TERMS OF WHAT WE NEED TO FOCUS ON AND WHILE IT IS GREAT AND THIS IS A GOOD IDEA THERE IS SO MUCH WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ESPECIALLY WITHIN FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE STATEWIDE GOVERNMENTS IN TERMS OF LOBBYING FOR MORE PRO-LGBTQ POLICIES AND WHILE ALSO ADVOCATING AGAINST BILLS THAT HAS BEEN PASSED SINCE FLORIDA.

ON A RESOURCE-BASED LEVEL, I DON'T THINK IT SHOULD BE THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OR MOST ESPECIALLY OUR GOVERNMENTS OR THE ACTUAL WORK LEGISLATION AND ADVOCACY IN PROTECTING OUR MOST MARGINALIZED WHICH ARE OUR QUEER YOUTH.

DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT MASK AND I THINK YOU MADE THIS POINT, BUT MASKS SOME OF THE REAL WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE THAT PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, WE'RE DOING GREAT HERE.

WE HAVE BILLBOARDS UP AND MAYBE NOT JUMP IN WITH MORE SUBSTANTIVE WORK?

ABSOLUTELY.

IT SPEAKS TO THE PEPSI COMMERCIAL WITH KENDALL JENNER.

A LOT OF VIRTUE SIGNALING, BUT NOT NECESSARILY ADDRESSING THE REAL ISSUES OR THE REAL PROBLEM.

SO I THINK IN THIS INSTANCE I WAS HAPPY TO SEE THIS, HOWEVER, JUST TO DOUBLE DOWN ON MY POINTS.

A LOT MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE AND OF COURSE, IT'S EASIER TO SOMETIMES THROW MONEY AT A BILLBOARD, BUT AGAIN, SO MUCH MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE IN HOLDING ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE.

TALKING ABOUT ELECTED OFFICIAL, YOU ARE ONE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE KNOW THAT ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE PRESSURES FROM ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS HERE.

AS YOU LOOK AT THIS SCENARIO AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN FLORIDA, DID YOU GET ANY KIND OF A SENSE THAT THERE IS ROOM FOR CONVERSATION OR SOME SORT OF COMMON GROUND THAT COULD ALAY MAYBE A LEGITIMATE CONCERN AND ALSO MAKE PEOPLE REALIZE THAT MAYBE THAT SHOULDN'T BE A REAL CONCERN AND THERE ARE OTHER THINGS OR DO YOU SEE THIS AS JUST ANOTHER MARKED BATTLE IN THE CULTURE WARS AND WE CAN ONLY EXPECT MORE OF THEM?

I THINK THAT'S A DIFFICULT QUESTION FOR ME TO ANSWER.

ONE BECAUSE I'M NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IN FLORIDA.

THANKFULLY, I DO LIKE BEING AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IN NEW YORK CITY AND NOT TO BRING IT BACK TO ADDRESS REPUBLICANS AS A WHOLE, AFTER TRUMP AND EVEN NOW AFTER TRUMP'S PRESIDENCY, IT FEELS LIKE THE RIGHT HAS MOVED FURTHER RIGHT THAN I EVER EXPECTED THEM TO BE BEFORE AND THERE ARE A LOT MORE AUDACIOUS AND RIDICULOUS SOMETIMES ABOUT THEIR POLICIES RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE CALLIST LIFE AND WELFARE OF AMERICANS, SO I'M REALLY UNSURE IF I CAN ANSWER THAT QUESTION BECAUSE FOR A LOT OF THE SEMANTICS AND POLICIES AND VALUES THAT THIS NEW REPUBLICAN COORDINATOR IS SPEWING THROUGH MEDIA, IT'S HARD FOR ME TO SAY, IF THERE'S ANY TYPE OF REASON OR ANY CONSULTATION DISCUSSING THIS DON'T SAY GAY BILL IS MORALLY WRONG.

ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE IN YOUR TIME IN OFFICE NOW AND OBVIOUSLY, YOU'VE BEEN VERY ACTIVE BEFORE YOU WERE ACTUALLY IN OFFICE, ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE THAT NEW YORK CITY IS MOVING IN THE DIRECTION THAT YOU SHOULD BE MOVING IN?

THERE WAS A QUESTION ABOUT MAYOR ADAMS HAD MADE SOME APPOINTMENTS EARLY ON WHETHER THOSE PEOPLE WHO WERE APPOINTED HAD SAID SOME THINGS IN THE PAST THAT APPEARED TO BE ANTI-GAY AND AS A CONSEQUENCE THERE WAS A SUGGESTION THAT THERE SHOULD BE AN OFFICE OF LGBTQ AFFAIRS IN NEW YORK CITY.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE MAYOR'S ADMINISTRATION MOVING IN THIS DIRECTION?

IN TERMS OF LGBTQ RIGHTS, I THINK WE'RE MOVING SLOWLY.

AGAIN, THERE'S A LOT OF POWER THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE.

MYSELF, AS WELL AS MY COLLEAGUES AND THE LGBTQ CAUCUS AS WELL AS LGBTQ ACTIVISTS ARE ADDRESSING LGBTQ AFFAIRS.

WE ARE SEEING AN UPTICK OF MURDER AGAINST BLACK TRANS WOMEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND NEW YORK CITY AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I'M ALWAYS VOCALIZING TO PEOPLE THAT LISTEN TO ME, BUT OF COURSE, TO THIS ADMINISTRATION, TOO.

WE NEED TO SEE REAL INVESTMENT AND REAL WORK THAT MOVES BEYOND MAYBE VIRTUE SIGNALING AND I CAN'T GET THAT TERM RIGHT --

IT'S NOT AN EASY ONE.

IT'S NOT AN EASY ONE, RIGHT?

IT IS NOT.

I'M GLAD YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY IT AND NOT ME.

RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT.

I THINK THERE IS A LOT MORE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN PROTECTING LGBTQ YOUTH AND LGBTQ PEOPLE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO HOMELESSNESS AND LGBTQ YULG.

I WOULD LOVE TO SEE OUR CITY PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

I HAVE A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE AND YOU TALK ABOUT THE CITIES MOVING SLOWLY, BUT ARE YOU HOPEFUL?

ARE YOU HOPEFUL THAT YOU'RE SEEING SIGNS OF PROGRESS HERE?

I AM YOUNG.

I AM NAIVE.

THUS, I'M ALWAYS OPTIMISTIC AND OF COURSE, I'M HOPEFUL AND WHILE I HAVE DISAGREED WITH THE MAYOR ON A COUPLE OF THING, HE IS SOMEONE THAT LISTENS.

HE IS SOMEONE THAT GIVES HIS WORD AND HE WON'T GIVE HIS WORD TO SOMETHING HE WON'T GIVE HIS WORD TO, AND HE'LL SHOOT IT DOWN, MAYBE.

SO I'M HOPEFUL TO SEEING HIS GROWTH AS WELL AS HIS LISTENING, INTERPRETING AND HOPEFULLY ACTION WITHIN THE CONVERSATIONS THAT I HAVE ENGAGED WITH HIM AS WELL AS OTHER LGBTQ OR QUEER NEW YORKERS.

HOPE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT WE WELCOME HERE.

ONCE AGAIN, COUNCIL MEMBER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU DOWN THE ROAD.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

TAKE CARE.

♪♪

> THE GROUND BREAKING GROUP 'THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM' MADE HER ONE OF THE MOST ADMIRED AND REVILED THINKERS AROUND THE WORLD.

AS A VOICE THAT REFUSES TO BE SILENCE SAID THERE IS A MASTERY OF MORAL COURAGE, SHE'S A WOMAN WHO HAS HAD MANY LAYERS THROWN TO HER AND SHE REFUSES TO HAVE ONE, REFUGEE, LESBIAN, PROFESSOR AND ONE HER TICK.

SHE JOIN US TO TALK ABOUT HER NEW BOOK WHICH HAS JUST COME OUT CALLED 'DON'T LABEL ME,' A CONVERSATION FOR DIVIDED TIMES.

RIGHT BACK AT YOU.

LET'S START WITH LABELS.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WE AS A SOCIETY FIND LABELS SO SEDUCTIVE?

JACK, IT'S NOT JUST WE AS A SOCIETY.

IT'S HUMANITY.

WE HUMAN BEINGS THINK FIRST AND FOREMOST EMOTIONALLY AND BIOLOGICALLY SPEAKING THE EASIEST EMOTION TO HAVE IS FEAR.

NOW CUP THAT UP WITH THE FACT THAT WE'RE IMMERSED IN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE DESIGNED TO AMP UP OUR EMOTIONS AND FINISH IT ALL OFF WITH THE FACT THAT VERY FEW OF US HAVE EVER BEEN TAUGHT TO SORT OF BE AWARE OF OUR EMOTIONS AND LET ALONE, EXPRESS THEM CONSTRUCTIVELY.

SO IN THIS TOXIC CAULDRON, LABELS BECOME CONVENIENT TOOLS WITH WHICH TO SORT OF INDULGE OUR RE --

CONVENIENT AND REQUIRE LITTLE WORK.

WE ARE ALL BORN WITH BRAINS THAT ARE BOTH PRIMITIVE AND EVOLVED, BUT THE FIRST THING THAT ANY KIND OF STIMULI GOES THROUGH IN THE BRAIN IS THE PRIMITIVE PART, AND THE PRIMITIVE PART DOESN'T WANT TO WORK.

IT ONLY REACTS.

SO WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WAYS, LITERALLY TO OUTWIT OUR OWN BRAINS.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT THESE.

I'LL GET TO THEM IN A MOMENT, BUT I DON'T WANT TO MINIMIZE IT BY CALLING IT A DEVICE THAT DRIVES THIS CONVERSATION.

WE TALK ABOUT AN INCREDIBLE CONVERSATION THAT YOU'RE HAVING.

SOMETHING THAT WAS VERY SPECIAL TO YOU.

VERY.

YOUR DOG, NO LONGER WITH US.

NO.

A CONVERSATION THROUGHOUT THIS AND IT'S WHAT HELPED TO STIMULATE THE IDEA BEHIND THAT.

HOW?

I JUST MENTIONED THE MOST DANGEROUS FOUR-LETTER 'F' WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND THAT IS FEAR.

EXACTLY.

I GREW UP WITH AN UNHEALTHY FEAR OF DOGS.

ONE YEAR I WAS HAVING A PARTICULARLY TOUGH TIME WITH MY HEALTH AND MY THEN PARTNER NOW WIFE LAURA SAID TO ME IRSHED, YOU HAVE GOT TO EVOLVE.

YOU HAVE GOT TO GET PAST YOUR FEAR.

LET'S ADOPT A RESCUE DOG AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT A HEALER THAT DOG COULD BE.

HOW CAN I POSSIBLY BE MORAL COURAGE IF I'M NOT WILLING TO GO FIRST?

AND SO WE BROUGHT LILY HOME, AND JACK, ALL I CAN TELL YOU IS THAT FOR THE TWO PRECIOUS YEARS THAT I HAD WITH HER, I LEARNED NOT ONLY WERE MY OWN FEARS OF DOGS BEGGING TO BE OVERCOME, BUT WHEN I DID OVERCOME THOSE FEARS I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM LILY.

THE VALUE, FOR EXAMPLE, OF JUST GETTING OUT OF OUR DEVICES, CLOSING UP THE LAPTOP AND GETTING INTO THE GRASS AND PLAYING.

Y I KNOW, FOR -- YOU KNOW, FOR ANIMAL LOVERS THAT'S A NO-BRAINER, BUT UNDERSTAND THAT TODAY WE ARE ALL DOING THIS AND YOU KNOW, THAT IF WE CAN ALL REALIZE THAT BY SLOWING DOWN AND TAKING A DEEP BREATH, WHEN WE WIND UP DOING IS TRANSCENDING THE FEAR-BASED PART OF THE BRAIN SO THAT EVEN WHEN WE'RE ENGAGING SOMEONE WE DISAGREE WITH, THE FIRST THING TO DO AND THE BEST THING TO DO IS TO JUST BREATHE.

WHO KNEW, SO SIMPLE, THANK YOU, LILY.

WE TALKED ABOUT THE NOTION OF LABELS AND THE TRIBALISM WAS HARD WIRED FOR THAT AND WE LOOK AT THE WAYS IT MANIFESTS ITSELF AND YOU AND I TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE HAND AND I WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW PEM DON'T HAVE CONVERSATIONS ANYMORE.

IT'S AS IF FEAR, WE'RE FEARFUL OF SOMEONE REJECTING OUR OPINIONS.

THAT'S RIGHT.

WE DON'T WANT TO ACCEPT THEIR OPINIONS.

THINK FLOWS FROM WHAT WE SEE AND I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT BOTH PARTIES IN WASHINGTON, YOU BET.

YOU CANNOT HAVE NOW A DISAGREEMENT POLITICALLY WITHOUT VILIFYING THE PERSON YOU'RE DISAGREEING WITH.

IT'S BEEN DESCRIBED OFTEN AS THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION.

RIGHT.

RIGHT.

HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN OR HAS IT BECOME MORE ENHANCED LATELY?

YEAH.

WELL I'M GOING TO GUESS THAT YOU WOULD AGREE WITH ME THAT IT HAS BECOME MORE ENHANCED LATELY.

WE'VE BEEN LIVING WITH THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION, AND I BELIEVE THAT WAS BILL CLINTON'S PHRASE FROM WAY BACK WHEN.

WE'VE BEEN LIVING WITH THAT FOR A LONG TIME, BUT IF YOU'RE WONDERING WHY IT'S BECOME EVEN WORSE NOW I WOULD SAY THAT SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE IMPULSIVE TRIGGERS THAT IT FEEDS TO US HAS MADE THINGS THAT MUCH WORSE WHICH IS WHY, AND I THINK THIS IS WHERE YOU WERE GOING.

MONITOR AND OUR SCREEN AND SPEAK WITH ONE ANOTHER FACE TO FACE.

I TELL A STORY IN THIS BOOK ABOUT TWO YOUNG PEOPLE, ONE A BIRACIAL HIP-HOP ARTIST, THE OTHER, A WHITE GUY, BOTH OF THEM COMPLETELY DISAGREE ABOUT WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN WITH THE MISSISSIPPI STATE FLAG, BECAUSE IT CONTAINS SOME -- IN THE CORNER HAS A CONFEDERATE FLAG.

EXACTLY.

SHE WANTS IT TO CHANGE.

HE DOESN'T.

SOMETHING THAT SHE SAYS AND DOES GOES VIRAL.

HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HER.

SHE INVITES HIM TO THE BACKYARD TO SIT DOWN AND TALK.

LET'S DISCUSS THIS.

BY THE END OF THAT EXPERIENCE IT'S NOT THAT HE CHANGES HIS MIND.

THAT WOULD BE TOO EASY A CONCLUSION.

IT'S THAT HE REALIZES THAT HE CARES MORE ABOUT HER THAN HE DOES ABOUT THE FLAG.

THAT IS WHAT HUMAN TO HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS OR HUMAN TO LILY RELATIONSHIPS CAN DO FOR THIS.

BUT HOW DO WE GET OURSELVES AWAY FROM IT?

AGAIN, I THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT YOU SAY IS HUMAN NATURE.

WE LIKE TO BE SURROUNDED BY LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.

YEAH.

WE LIKE TO BE SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO SOUND LIKE US, WHO THINK LIKE US.

WHO LOOK LIKE US.

WHO LOOK LIKE US.

WE KNOW THAT.

HOW DO WE GET OURSELVES TO A DIFFERENT PLACE EVEN THOUGH THAT IS ALL REINFORCED BY, YOU LOOK AT THE NEWS AND PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THERE ARE A LOT OF VENUES OUT THERE THAT JUST HAVE AN AGENDA AND THEY'RE BEATING THE DRUM.

OPINION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF JOURNALISM?

YEAH.

WHAT TROUBLES ME ASK WE'RE SEEING MORE OF AN PERSON AND LESS OF THE FACT-BASED DISCUSSIONS.

HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE OUT OF THE ECHO CHAMBERS WE MIGHT NOT CHANGE THEIR MIND.

THAT'S OKAY.

HOW DO WE DO THAT?

IT BEGINS WITH EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US.

INSTEAD OF POINTING FINGERS AT SO AND SO BECAUSE HE DOESN'T LISTEN TO ME, ASK YOURSELF HOW AM I CONTRIBUTING TO THIS PROBLEM MEANING IF I'M EYE-ROLLING AND IF I'M BERATING INSTEAD OF LABELING AND I HAVE FIXED HIM IN PLACE AND I HAVE FROZEN HIM IN TIME.

WHAT MOTIVATION I HAVE GIVEN THIS OTHER PERSON TO THEN LOWER HIS EMOTIONAL DEFENSES SO THAT HE CAN HEAR ME.

SO HERE'S WHAT I SAY.

WHEN YOU ARE ENTERING A CONVERSATION OR WANTING TO ENTER INTO A CONVERSATION WITH SOMEBODY WHO PROFOUNDLY DISAGREES WITH YOU ON SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT, ASK THEM.

TELL ME, WHAT AM I MISSING ABOUT YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

DON'T GO IN MAKING STAPLES.

ASK SINCERE QUESTIONS AND THEN LISTEN.

LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND, NOT TO WIN.

BECAUSE THIS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A DEBATE.

IT'S A DISCUSSION.

THAT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE I WOULD SUSPECT, AND I KNOW THIS, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT I DON'T GET INVOLVED IN DISCUSSIONS WITH PEOPLE ANYMORE BECAUSE I KNOW I'M NOT GOING TO CHANGE THEIR MIND, BUT IF I SHOULD, AT LEAST HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH THEM BECAUSE I THINK THE FEAR IS YOU SAY TO YOURSELF WHY SHOULD I BOTHER ENGAGING IN THIS DISCUSSION?

I'M NOT GOING TO CHANGE MY MIND.

BUT HERE'S MY QUESTION TO YOU.

WHY GO IN THERE EVEN WANTING TO CHANGED OTHER PERSON'S MIND?

IMAGINE WHAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO LEARN FROM THAT OTHER PERSON BY SIMPLY LISTENING AND THIS IS NOT BEING POLLYANNAISH, LET ME TELL YOU.

IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT VALUES THEY HAVE, WHAT PERSPECTIVE THEY'RE COMING FROM, THAT IS CRUCIAL INFORMATION WITH WHICH YOU CAN REFRAME YOUR ARGUMENTS DOWN THE ROAD SO THAT IF YOU'RE REALLY STUCK ON NEEDING TO CHANGE THEIR MIND YOU'LL HAVE THE INFORMATION NECESSARY IT EXPRESS YOUR POSITION IN A WAY THAT THEY CAN FINALLY HEAR.

LET ME TALK ABOUT THE YOUNGER GENERATION HERE BECAUSE I KNOW YOU TALK ABOUT IT IN YOUR BOOK.

I WAS IN COLLEGE AT THE TIME WHEN THE NATION WAS ROYALED OVER VIETNAM.

YEAH.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS I MOST REMEMBER ABOUT MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE, I CAN'T REMEMBER THE COURSES I TOOK.

I KNOW SOME OF THEM THAT WERE FAVORITE, BUT IF YOU ASK ME TO GIVE YOU A LIST I CAN'T REMEMBER, BUT I DO REMEMBER THE CONVERSATIONS AND I REMEMBER SITTING IN DINING HALLS AND TALKING ABOUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND THE VIETNAM WAR.

YEAH.

AND YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THERE ARE NOT THE SAME LEVEL, AND I'M TOLD THIS BY MY STUDENTS.

THERE'S NOT THE SAME LEVEL OF CONVERSATION ON CAMPUSES.

SOME OF IT, I THINK, COMES FROM THE FEAR THAT YOU MENTIONED.

WHY DO YOU THINK --

YOU'VE NAILED IT.

YOU'VE NAILED IT.

I WORK WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND MUCH MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, REGARDLESS OF THEIR LABEL, WHATEVER THEIR COLOR OR WHATEVER THEIR AGENDA OR WHATEVER THEIR RELIGION, THEY SAY TO ME I'M AFRAID TO BE JUDGED IF I ASK, GET THIS, THE WRONG QUESTION.

THAT IS WHERE WE HAVE ARRIVED AS A SOCIETY AND YES, AS HUMANITY THAT IF YOU USE A WORD, YOU MAKE A CLUMSY MISTAKE.

YOU ARE HONESTLY JUST MISSPOKEN, IT'S JUST VERY EASY TO GET SLAMMED, SHAMED, BLAMED AND GAMED.

AND NOBODY WANTS THAT.

TEACHING THE SKILLS OF MORAL COURAGE IS SO IMPORTANT.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY MORAL COURAGE?

DEFINE THAT.

I MEAN DOING THE RIGHT THING IN THE FACE OF YOUR FEARS.

AND SO IF, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU KNOW SOMETHING THAT SOMEBODY IS PROMOTING A MESSAGE THAT THEY'RE PROMOTING IS SOMEHOW INACCURATE OR DEROGATORY AND THE WAY TO APPROACH IT IS KEY HERE.

I'M NOT SAYING DON'T STAND UP TO INTOLERANCE OR OUTRIGHT HATE.

ABSOLUTELY STAND UP TO IT, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO GO INTO IT GUNS A-BLAZING BECAUSE YOU WILL BE SHOT DOWN IN THAT CASE.

RATHER, YOU NEED TO BE INTELLIGENT ABOUT IT AND THAT MEANS LISTENING, BUT THEN ASKING, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THIS?

I'M GENUINELY INTERESTED.

IN THE BOOK, ANOTHER STORY I TELL IS ABOUT A NOW FORMER WHITE NATIONALIST WHO REFORMED HIMSELF, NOTICE I DID NOT SAY WAS REFORMED.

HE REFORMED HIMSELF, HOW?

BECAUSE OF AN AMAZING FRIENDSHIP HE HAD WITH AN BE ON SERVANT JEW WHO DIDN'T TURN HIS BACK, WHO DIDN'T GET IN HIS FACE.

WHO DIDN'T TRY TO MAKE HIM DISAPPEAR, BUT RATHER WHO LISTENED AND ENGAGED AND OVER THE COURSE OF THREE YEARS, THIS WHITE NATIONALIST REALIZED THE VIEWS I'VE GOT, THEY'RE NOT FACTUAL AND MORE OVER, THEY HURT THE VERY PERSON THAT I CARE ABOUT.

THAT IS A GREAT STORY.

THE BOOK IS FILLED WITH GREAT STORIES.

ONCE AGAIN, IT'S CALLED 'DON'T LABEL ME' AN INCREDIBLE CONVERSATION FOR DIVIDED TIMES.

YOU AND I CAN TALK FOR HOURS.

I WOULD LOVE THAT.

FOR NOW, EXACTLY, BUT ONCE AGAIN, A VERY PROVOCATIVE, THOUGHTFUL AND I THINK EXTRAORDINARILY HELPFUL LOOK.

SO OUR THANKS TO YOU ASK TO LILY.

I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, I HEARD FROM LILY.

SHE SAYS THANKS RIGHT BACK.

THANK

THANK YOU.

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