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Black Voices Matter The RockStar Advocate Suz Paulinski

#86 | #blackvoicesmatter

Are you listening?

In this very special episode we are highlighting the voices of the black community – their words, their pain, their pleas, their needs, their frustrations. We invite you to take time to listen & find ways to take action in our show notes page:

You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.
– Maya Angelou

You’re listening to Episode 86 of the Music-Preneur Mindset Podcast.

Hello! You’re listening to Episode 86: #blackvoicesmatter.

My name is Suz, a mindset coach helping music professionals get clear on their goals, priorities, and next steps.

I don’t think I need to tell you this past week has made a lot of us rethink our priorities and our next steps in life and in our careers – how we use our voices and whose voices we listen to more often. I want to thank Willie Green who has allowed me to use his music from A Suite for Souled People throughout this episode.

He released it in 2014 and the full EP is available for download from Bandcamp and for streaming on Spotify. You can find the links in the show notes.

Also in 2014, after the death of Eric Garner in NY, I sent out a newsletter to my list about BlackLivesMatter. In it, I wrote about my experience growing up listening to and loving hiphop while being taught at home about cultural appropriation, my own white privilege, and how

I felt more of us could be allies.

Most people were open to what I had to say. Others were not. And because I received even the slightest pushback from others who were not ready to have the uncomfortable conversations, I went back to being quiet. I continued my own education, but kept it to myself and others who were already having the difficult and complex conversations.

This time around I realize that my fear of getting it wrong or not finding a way to ensure I don’t offend anyone is making it about me and not focusing on the greater issues at hand.

This time around I also realize that it’s more important to amplify voices that aren’t my own right now. Which is why for the next 60 minutes you’ll be hearing clips of recordings from various black voices sharing their stories. Well, that is, if you choose to keep listening.

Some of you tuning in may be wondering, “What does this have to do with having a musicpreneur mindset? Why can’t she just stick to talking about business?”

And to that I say:

Because this affects all of us and being open to listening and learning from the experiences of others is a mindset. It’s a choice to increase empathy and understand your fellow humans on a deeper level even if you may never walk in their shoes or feel they’ve walked in yours. Music is conversation. It’s emotion. It’s unity. In order for music to do its job, those who create it need to start by listening to the world around them.

You will hear from 15 different POC – some voices you’ll recognize right away and others you may not. I will not be introducing each in between their speeches, but rather letting one play after the other. I think it’s less important to focus on who is speaking and more important to focus on what they are saying without me jumping on and priming each in my own way.

Please know that for the sake of time, and sticking on topic, I did my best to truncate some of these clips without losing context of the message and for those I felt I was unable to edit without losing the overall message I left in whole. Links to the full clips of each can be found in the show notes and in the transcript it is notated where the edits are made. Simply go to

I also did my best to improve the volume & clarity but some older clips may be of poorer quality.

I will warn you some speeches are filled with a lot of deep emotion and some with explicit language. To all listeners, but especially those who are BIPOC, I understand if this may not be something you have the capacity to listen to at the moment and if you’re curious to see who speaks in this episode, a full list can be found in the show notes and the transcript can be downloaded.

To my white listeners, when you are able to set aside time to continue listening, I encourage you to listen even when you feel your shoulders tighten up or your stomach caves in or you feel the emotions come to the surface. Keep listening. I encourage you to listen even if someone says something you want to immediately defend or outright disagree with, keep listening.

This is just a podcast episode, no one’s life is in danger by listening to this recording. If you find something you are angered by, or disagree with, you’re entitled to your feelings, but I urge you to keep listening. I also encourage you to download the transcript and read the words that are being spoken and listen again. And when you’re done listening, examine the emotions that have come up for you.

I am always available should you feel the need to express yourself, no matter who you are.

However, I do ask that you share your views and comments respectfully. I’m happy to provide additional resources that may help answer any questions you may have or provide more context around certain subjects you may be unfamiliar with after listening.

I am not here to “knock this out of the park” and be the perfect ally and have all of the answers.

I am here to continue to do the work without making it about me and I’m going to mess up and I’m going to keep listening.

There is also a long list of resources you can find in the show notes from sources that have a lot more knowledge than I do in case you want to listen further and learn how to take action in your own way. If you have a resource you think should be added to that list let me know and I’m happy to add it.

I thank all of you who have decided to listen and I will now be quiet and allow these voices to share their experiences with you.

1: Dr. Joy DeGruy, M.S. Clinical Psychology, M.S. Social Work, Ph.D. Social Work Research

“Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. How Is It Different From PTSD?”

AJ+ Opinion (2019)

One of the things that is difficult for people, is their first response is, “OMG, that happened so long ago!” We’re talking about people being captured, shipped, sold, beaten, raped experimented on, and then you have to ask a question, “Did the trauma continue?” Yes. So three hundred years of trauma. No help. Free. No help. More trauma. If it’s a sustained trauma, then the impact of that is also sustained.

When we look at multi generational trauma, if we’re looking at people who are maybe victims of natural disasters, and their families, and their children, and generations of folks who hav experienced war, and we know that there are residual mental emotional traumatic impact. And what I did was I started to look at the African American experience starting with slavery as a real clear long enduring trauma. I started to see that they were clear connections between
that survival behavior and contemporary living in African American experience. I started to see common behaviors that I took for granted as well cultural. There’s adaptive behaviors, survival behaviors. Well what are they?

Let’s just say in 2019 you have a black mother and white mother – their sons go to schools together – they find themselves at a meeting. The black mother leans over to the white mother and the black mother says, “I just wanted to mention to you that I noticed that your son is really doing quite well.” And the white mother responds, “Thank you!” She begins to go on and on about, “He won the science fair, his uncle’s an astronaut…” She’s just oozing. She realizes the black mother’s son is excelling her son, she says, “Wait a minute, YOUR son’s the one who’s really coming along!” And the black mother responds, “Oh my God, he’s a handful but oh he just works my nerves!”

Now when I’m working with African Americans, it doesn’t matter what the audience, it doesn’t matter what class, if I would ask is she’s very proud while she’s saying those denigrating things and everybody laughs it goes, “Of course!” There’s a secret.

Because everybody black knows that even though the black mother’s going off “Oh my god!” she’s really proud. So let’s roll that scene back 300 years and let’s say this black mother’s working in the fields, and a white slave owner comes through and says, “Wow, that boy is really coming along!” What is she going to say? “No, he’s not, he’s stupid, he’s shiftless, he can’t work (because I don’t want you to sell him).”

So I denigrate them to protect them.

That is called “appropriate adaptation” when living in a hostile environment. The little white boy, say Timmy, he feels really comfortable and happy about what his mom just said about him, and Try looks at his mom and wonders, “Why can’t you be proud of me?” Because he doesn’t understand the secret yet and by the time he learns the secret he will already’ve been injured by it. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.


When you start looking at the simple biology, and you start looking at the impact of stress on health – and when we look at general stress, you know finances, you have illnesses, all these different things… how about being black? How does factoring in being black in America impact your stress level, and therefore your body’s ability to operate its own immune system? Because we know it compromises the immune system.

Once you understand it you can deal with it. Because it’s habitual, you socialize it, it becomes part of your being. So one of the ways you begin to address that multi-generational trauma is to work with the people it directly impacts, to hear from them, and when you give the people the information they can us it.

I think the first order of business is beginning to have a conversation, and the other is to educate the larger society. You have to stop the assault. So this is not purely a clinical thing this requires social justice and change.


For the full clip click here.

2: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Other America” (1968) from “5 of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Most Memorable Speeches”
PBS (2018)

We are seeking to make America one nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Now let me say that the struggle for Civil Rights and the struggle to make these two Americas one America, is much more difficult today than it was five or ten years ago. For about a decade or maybe twelve years, we’ve struggled all across the South in glorious struggles to get rid of legal, overt segregation and all of the humiliation that surrounded that system of segregation.

In a sense this was a struggle for decency; we could not go to a lunch counter in so many instances and get a hamburger or a cup of coffee. We could not make use of public accommodations. Public transportation was segregated, and often we had to sit in the back and within transportation — transportation within cities — we often had to stand over empty seats because sections were reserved for whites only. We did not have the right to vote in so many areas of the South. And the struggle was to deal with these problems.

And certainly they were difficult problems, they were humiliating conditions. By the thousands we protested these conditions. We made it clear that it was ultimately more honorable to accept jail cell experiences than to accept segregation and humiliation. By the thousands students and adults decided to sit in at segregated lunch counters to protest conditions there.

When they were sitting at those lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream.


It’s more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality. It’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. It’s much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee the right to live in sanitary, decent housing conditions. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to make genuine, quality, integrated education a reality. And so today we are struggling for something
which says we demand genuine equality.

It’s not merely a struggle against extremist behavior toward Negroes. And I’m convinced that many of the very people who supported us in the struggle in the South are not willing to go all the way now. I came to see this in a very difficult and painful way. In Chicago the last year where I’ve lived and worked. Some of the people who came quickly to march with us in Selma and Birmingham weren’t active around Chicago. And I came to see that so many people who supported morally and even financially what we were doing in Birmingham and Selma, were really outraged against the extremist behavior of Bull Connor and Jim Clark toward Negroes, rather than believing in genuine equality for Negroes.

And I think this is what we’ve gotta see now, and this is what makes the struggle much more difficult.


For the full clip click here.

3: Tamika Mallory, activist & former Women’s March co-chair

Speech given during Minneapolis protests on May 29, 2020
Clip is in full. Follow Tamika on Instagram here.

The reason why buildings are burning is because this city, this state would prefer preserving that white nationalism and that white supremacist mindset over arresting, charging, and helping to convict four officers who killed a black man. That is the reality of what we’re dealing with. This is not just a few cops doing things across the country. This is not a good cop vs. bad cop situation.

This is Ahmud Aubrey being shot down by white men on the streets of Georgia. Breonna Taylor being killed in her home. This is in NYC where we were until freedom… we just in NY fighting the police officers who in the name of social distancing were damn near killing black young people on our streets.

This is a coordinated activity happening across this nation and so we are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying in a state of emergency. We cannot look at this as an isolated incident.

The reason why buildings are burning are not just for our brother George Floyd. They’re burning down because people here in Minnesota are saying to people in New York, to people in California, to people in Memphis, to people all across this nation ‘enough is enough,’ and we are not responsible for the mental illness that has been inflicted upon our people by the American government, institutions, and those people who are in positions of power.

I don’t give a damn if they burn down Target because Target should be on the streets with us calling for the justice that our people deserve. Where was AutoZone at the time when Philando Castile was shot in a car, which is what they actually represent? Where were they? So if you are not coming to the people’s defense, then don’t challenge us when young people and other people who are frustrated and instigated by the people you pay.

You are paying instigators to be among our people out there throwing rocks, breaking windows, and burning down buildings. And so young people are responding to that. They are enraged, and there’s an easy way to stop it. Arrest the cops. Charge the cops. Charge all the cops, not just some of them, not just here in Minneapolis. Charge them in every city across America where our people are being murdered. Charge them everywhere.

That’s the bottom line. Charge the cops. Do your job. Do what you say this country is supposed to be about the land of the free for all. It has not been free for Black people, and we are tired. Don’t talk to us about looting. Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here. So looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. We learned violence from you. The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, then damnit you do better.

4: Tyler Merritt – The Tyler Merritt Project

“Before You Call the Cops”
Now This (2020) – Clip is in full.

Before you call the cops I just want you to know – the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was yell at my alarm clock. My parents were raised in the south. I have to roll tide or they’ll disown me. They raised me in Las Vegas. That city still has my heart. I hate spiders. I’m a vegetarian. I’m not proud about it. I’ve done goat yoga. I’m really not proud about that.

I can tell you every single word of the NWA Straight Outta Compton album. I can also sing you every single word from Oklahoma. Bananas are disgusting. I am a Christian. I spend almost every Sunday morning teaching kids in Sunday School. I am often asked if I am Muslim. I’m ok with that.

I’m pretty much convinced if you met my mother, you’d automatically become a better person.

My father is a veteran. He taught me how to say, “Yes sir,” and, “Yes ma’am,” to everyone that I meet.

I don’t hate our President. I pray for him. I love basketball and also hockey. This is my brother James. This is my brother Mike. This is my brother John. And this is my brother Rob. I’ve never been to jail. I’ve never owned a gun.
I hate that anyone at all might possibly be afraid of me.

I’d go around the world and back again if I knew that single act might make your day better. I’m a proud man. I’m a proud black man.

Does any of this really matter? No. I just wanted you to get to know me better before you call the cops.

5: Zianna Oliphant, a young girl from Charlotte, NC, testifying to the Charlotte City

Council after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016.
“Girl Gives Tearful Plea After Keith Lamont Scott Shooting”
ABC World News Tonight with David Muir (2016) – Clip is in full.

I come here today to talk about how I feel and I feel that like we are treated differently than other people and I don’t like how we are treated just because of our color and it doesn’t mean anything to me. I believe that we are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because ya’ll are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and have rights.

I’ve been born and raised in Charlotte and I never felt this way until now. I can’t stand how we’re treated. It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t even see them anymore. It’s a shame that we have to go to the graveyard and bury them. And we have tears and we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.

6: Toni Morrison, author & first African American woman to win the Nobel prize for literature

“Toni Morrison’s Powerful Words on Racism”
The Guardian (2019)

There is no such thing as race, none. There’s just the human race – scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct, and it has benefits. It has… money can be made off of it, people who don’t like themselves can feel better because of it, it can describe certain kinds of behavior that are wrong or misleading, so it has a social function, racism. But race can only be defined as a human being.


If you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees then you have a serious problem. And my feeling is white people have a very very serious problem, and they should start thinking about what they can do about it. Take me out of it.


[interviewer] You don’t think you will ever change and write books that incorporate white lives into them substantially?

[Toni] I have been.

[interviewer] In a substantial way?

[Toni] You can’t understand how powerfully racist questions is, can you? ‘Cause you could never ask a white author, “When are you gonna write about black people?” Whether he did or not or she did or not. Even the inquiry comes from a position of being in the center…

[interviewer] and being used to being in the center…

[Toni] …and being used to being in the center.

For full clip click here.

7: Killer Mike, Run the Jewels music artist

“Killer Mike Delivers Emotional Speech to Atlanta Protestors at Mayor’s Press Conference”
Rolling Stone (2020)

I didn’t wanna come and I don’t wanna be here. I’m the son of an Atlantic city police officer, my cousin is an Atlanta City police officer and my other cousin, East Point police officer. And I got a lot of love and respect for police officers down to the original eight police offices in Atlanta, that even after becoming police had to dress in a YMCA because white officers didn’t want to get dressed with niggers.

And here we are 80 years later, I watched a white officer assassinate a black man and I know that tore your heart out and I know it’s crippling and I have nothing positive to say in this moment because I don’t want to be here.

But I’m responsible to be here because wasn’t as Dr. King and people dressed nicely who marched in protest to progress this city and so many other cities. It was people like my grandmother, people like my aunts and uncles were members SCLC and the NAACP and in particular Reverend James Orange, Mrs. Alice Johnson, and Reverend Love, who just lost last year.

So I’m duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization and now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize.

It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs. Atlanta is not perfect, but we a lot better than we ever were and we are a lot better than cities are.

I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burned down yesterday because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw and we watch it like murder porn over and over again. So that’s why children are burning to the ground – they don’t know what else to do and it is responsibility of us to make this better right now.

We don’t want to see one officer charged, we want to see four officers prosecuted and sentenced. We don’t want to see Targets burning, we want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground. And as I sit here in Georgia, home of Stephens, Georgia, a former Vice President of the Confederacy. White man said that law, fundamental law stated that whites were naturally the superior race and the confederacy was built on a cornerstone, it’s called the Cornerstone Speech, look it up the cornerstone speech – that blacks would always be subordinate. That officer believe that speech because he killed that man like an animal.


When a man yells for his mother in duress and pain and she she’s dead, he’s essentially yelling, “Please God don’t let it happen to me!” And we watched that. So my question for us on the other side of this camera is that after it burns, will we be left with charred or will we rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes that Atlanta has always done? We use this as a moment to say that we will not do what other cities have done and, in fact, we will get better than we’ve been?

We got good enough to destroy a cash bonds. You don’t have to worry about going to jail for something petty. We are smart enough to decriminalize marijuana. How smart are we gonna be in the next fifteen to twenty years to keep us ahead of this curve so that much like when South Africa suffered apartheid you had Andy and other politicians that could make sure that Atlanta said, “Coca Cola we love you, but if you don’t pull out of South Africa we’re gonna leave. We’re not gonna drink Coca Cola anymore.” And Coca Cola jumped on our side and apartheid ended.

So we have an opportunity now, because I’m mad I don’t have any good advice, but what I can tell you is that if you sit in your homes tonight instead of having your home burnt to the ground you will have time to properly plot, plan, strategize, and organize and mobilize in effective ways.

And two of the most effective ways is first taking your butt to the computer and making sure you fill out the census so that people know who you are and where you are and the next thing is making sure you exercise your political bully power and going to local elections and beating up the politicians that you don’t like.

You got to prosecutor who sent your partner to jail and you know it was bullshit, put a new prosecutor in there. Now’s your election to do it. You want a different Senator that’s more progressive that pushes marijuana through, now is the time to do that.


I want you to go home, I want to talk to ten of your friends, I want you guys to come up with real solutions.


I love and respect you all, I hope that we found a way out of it because I don’t have the answers but I do know that we must plot, we must plan, strategize, organize and mobilize. Thank you for allowing me some time to speak, I’d like to appreciate our chief for what she said on YouTube, I thought it was very bold do.

I like to appreciate our mayor for talking to us like a black momma and telling us to take our asses home. And I’d like to thank my friend for convincing me to come here, now I defer to Joe Beasley now because he knows a hell of a lot more than I do, thank you.

For full clip click here.

8: Various finance and history experts & feat. Senator Cory Booker

Explained: Racial Wealth Gap
Netflix (2020)

[narrator] On multiple bills are people picking cotton, enslaved people. These slaves didn’t just represent wealth in America, they were wealth. By 1863 they were worth over $3 billion dollars.


[Mehrsa Baradaran, author] Wealth is where, you know, past injustices breed present suffering.

[Cory Booker, senator] I think the racial wealth gap speaks to the fact that we still have a long way to go to achieve ideals of equality in this country.

[Thomas Shapiro, sociologist] The racial wealth gap is a measure of the white family and the African American family that’s right smack dab in the middle the median.

[narrator] The median white households wealth – their savings assets minus their debts is $171,000.00. The median black household’s is $17,600.00, and that gap is still growing and growing. Why?


[narrator] In January 1865, the Civil War was ending. Union general William Sherman and secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, gathered a group of 20 black leaders and ask them what the black community needed to build lives in freedom. Reverend Garrison Frazier, the leader of the group, answered simply, “The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land.” Four days after the meeting, Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15. It set aside hundreds of thousands of acres of land, saying each family should have a plot of not more than 40 acres of tillable ground.

The day before his second inauguration, Lincoln signed a bill that made the plan official. America was almost a very different country.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

Weeks later Lincoln was dead. His successor Andrew Johnson quickly reversed course.

[Mehrsa Baradaran, author] Immediately once we say, “Okay equal rights!” then you have a white backlash that says, “Well what about our rights?”

[narrator] By the end of that year, thousands of freed slaves who had received land were evicted. In just a year after slavery, President Johnson complained about discrimination against whites, “In favor of the negro.”

But slaves had been creating wealth for their owners for 246 years. That wealth whites got to keep.


[Jay-Z, The Story of O.J., 2017] I bought some artwork for one million / two years later that shit worth two million / few years later that shit worth 8 million…

[Thomas Shapiro, sociologist] “I can’t wait to give this shit to my children.” One thing it says is that wealth begets wealth. Turn one million is the eight – raise your hand if you want to take that deal.

[narrator] Tt doesn’t take a risky, Picasso-sized bet to see wealth grow dramatically. It just takes time.


Imagine you took $100.00 and invested in 1863. The average annual inflation adjusted return in the US stock market has been around 7%. The next it’s worth a bit more and a bit more and a bit more. Today that $100.00 would be worth more than $3,500,000.00.


To this day African Americans make a lot less money than whites. They’re far more likely to be unemployed and studies show employers still discriminate. But even if we manage to close those gaps right now, centuries of inequality have already compounded, most powerfully through land and housing.

[Mehrsa Baradaran, author] Usually in this century any wealth that’s captured is through property.

[narrator] For the American middle class, home equity accounts for around 2/3 of wealth, so if you’re a white American you’re likely to have parents or grandparents with a story like this:

[Beth Jacobson, foreclosure specialist] My parents bought a house probably now about 50 years ago, paid $14,000.00 for it then, and it is worth now probably about $600,000.000 to $700,000.00.

[Cory Booker, senator] Most people don’t understand the power of housing – of where you live, of what opportunities exist in that community.

[narrator] The government played a huge role in making that happen. During the Great Depression almost half of all city homeowners were in default.

[radio audio] Men are sitting in the park all day long, out of work, muttering to themselves.

[narrator] Franklin Delano Roosevelt took action with the New Deal.

[Mehrsa Baradaran, author] So then the New Deal unleashes mortgage credit to the population.

[narrator] The American Dream and owning a home became synonymous. But the new Federal Housing Administration wouldn’t insure mortgages in areas it decided too risky.

[Mehrsa Baradaran, author] And the way that risk is calculated is by race.

[narrator] A black family moving in was seen as a threat to housing prices.

[reporter] “Do you think of negro family moving here will affect the community as a whole?

[white lady] “I think that all the property values will go down if they’re allowed to move in here on any number.”

[narrator] So when the FHA drew maps of where they wouldn’t insure loans, the neighborhoods with more black families were colored in red.

[Cory Booker, senator] Red lining is not a figurative metaphor, you would literally see maps drawn where entire neighborhoods were redlined off.

[narrator] The effects of racism became a justification for more racism.

[Thomas Shapiro, sociologist] If two thirds of America’s middle class wealth is in the form of home ownership, that opportunity to own a home has now just been excluded

[narrator] Federally enforced segregation affected every part of life – the jobs you could access, where your children went to school, how safe they were, and whether your home increased in value.


[narrator] Consider what it took for Cory Booker’s family to get their house in 1969.

[Cory Booker, senator] My parents began looking for homes but finding just odd things happening, where real estate agents, if they saw them beforehand, they would only show them homes in African American communities. And if it was a house in the white neighborhood, my parents would be told, “This house has already sold.”

[narrator] Booker’s parents set up a sting operation with a civil rights group. The next time they were turned away, a white couple arrived and made an offer on their behalf.

[Cory Booker, senator] The bid was accepted and on the day of the closing the white couple did not show up – my father did and the lawyers. And the real estate agent, so angry, stands up and punches my dad’s lawyer.

Literally they’re fighting, scrambling, and there was a dog in the corner and he sicked the dog on my father. So my father’s now for trying to fight off a big dog, a window was smashed, but eventually things settled the real estate agent was desperate and started begging my father.

“You want to move here, your people are not here,” he was so afraid that one black family would move in and somehow destroy his business and drive down real estate rates.

[narrator] Corey Booker and his parents ended up getting that house and that house helped build his future.

[Cory Booker, senator] It built wealth incredibly. My father rolled into another house in the same town, an even bigger house, going from poverty to being in, very comfortably, in the middle class in the United States of America and really thriving.


[narrator] One in five black borrowers with good credit still ended up with a subprime loan.

[Beth Jacobson, foreclosure specialist] I was a loan officer at Wells Fargo in their subprime division.

[narrator] So Beth heard the conference calls where Wells Fargo planned to target black churches.

[Beth Jacobson, foreclosure specialist] They were termed “wealth building seminars” and that was about purchasing homes. The minister of these churches thought this was a great idea, something to help the parishioners in the community.

[narrator] The bank would give the church a donation for each parishioner who ended up getting a mortgage.

[Beth Jacobson, foreclosure specialist] So the people the congregation didn’t realize the loan officer they were talking to was only going to sell them a subprime loan, even if they had 800 credit scores.


[Thomas Shapiro, sociologist] The Fed Reserve Bank of Saint Louis did a study that came up with finding that white college graduates, over a couple of decades, their wealth increased dramatically. As one might expect, black college graduates over the same period of time, their wealth actually decreased.

[narrator] The reason isn’t that graduates made very different amounts of money, it was how they spent it.

[Thomas Shapiro, sociologist] It’s much more likely to be the case that an African American college graduate is the most successful in their family network and therefore relatives ask them for help and they give it. That doesn’t mean that white college graduates are less charitable or less giving, or anything like that, it just means that they’re like others in their network.

[narrator] African Americans were wealth for 246 years, for 100 more years a patchwork of laws excluded them from building wealth and discrimination continues today. The wealth gap has grown so large over so many years it would take something truly radical to close it.

For the full clip click here.

9: Billy Porter, actor, singer, writer, director

“This Is My Message to America”
Instagram TV Post (2020)

This country was built on thievery, violence, genocide and slavery period. So I find it disingenuous when my well-meaning white liberal allies, news outlets, politicians, faith leaders and all the rest of my Caucasian compatriots act as if this shit is new. Ain’t none of it new.

You know it and you all benefit from this ancient privilege simply by being white. This is why nothing has changed. Let me rephrase that. Things have changed, but nothing has changed for good. So please please keep your white-I-didn’t-do-it-fagility to yourselves and simply listen.

Finally listen to us.


As a black queer man in America, my basic human rights have been up for legislation every single day that I have had breath in my body.


During the riots, during the peaceful protests, Iyanna Dior was brutally beaten by a gang a black man while trying to peacefully protest for our rights. L. G. B. T. Q. Plus black folks are black people, too. Our lives matter, too.

So this is my response to those of y’all who don’t understand that. Fuck you!

And yes, I am cussing. It’s time for cussing. Y’all need… this conversation is not about tolerance, this conversation is not about acceptance, it’s about a demand for the respect for our humanity. Like we respect everybody else’s because none of us are free til we all are free.

So to my homophobic and transphobic brothers and sisters get your fucking houses in order!


As black people we risk our lives every time we leave our homes. As queer people of color, that risk is doubled. We move about our days sucking it up. Hiding our pain and terror from the world, trying to make ourselves small so white people and straight people feel comfortable. Our parents try to prepare us for the realities of this world; the fact that the playing field is not level, the laws that protect white people do not do the same for us, and that we have to be at least ten times better at anything we choose to do at life to simply get in the rooms where
things happen.

For the full clip click here.

10: Michelle Obama (lawyer, author and former First Lady) & Oprah (talk show host, actress, television producer, media executive, and philanthropist)

“Michelle Obama on Being the First Black Family in the White House”

OWN, Oprah’s Book Club (2018) – Clip is in full.

[Oprah] Did you feel the pressure being the first black family because…

[Michelle Obama] Uh DUH!

[Oprah] …because we’ve all been raised with, “You’ve got to work twice as hard, gotta work twice as hard to get half as far,” and before you came out I was saying, “meticulous not a misstep…”

[Michelle Obama] Do not think that was an accident?

[Oprah] Yeah I know it was no accident, but did you feel the pressure of that?

[Michelle Obama] Absolutely. We felt the pressure from the minute we started to run. We talk about that and just how – first of all, we had to convince our base that a black man could win. It wasn’t even winning over Iowa, we… first we had to win over black people because black people like Dandy, my grandparents, once again who I understand the context they never believed this could happen. They wanted it, they wanted it for us, but their lives to told them, “No, never.”

Hillary was the safer bet for them because she was known, you know? Opening your hearts up to the hope that America would put down its racism for a black man, I think that hurt too much and it wasn’t until Iowa that when Barak won Iowa that people thought, “Okay, maybe.”

[Oprah] Did you believe in the beginning? Because you say you didn’t believe he would win.

[Michelle Obama] No, not at all. Well, one of the reasons, the other reasons I said yes was like, “I okay we’re gonna do this he’s going to lose and that is that.”

11: Mena Combo, founder of The OJiJi Purple Project, coach, speaker, and activist

“No. You Cannot Touch My Hair!”
TEDx Talks, Bristol (2017)

I launched the “No, you cannot touch my hair” campaign survey in the summer of 2017 and just under half of the respondents said they had their hair touched on a monthly basis by people they’ve never met before. And within that 18% said it happened once a week. So if you can imagine unwanted an uninvited hair touching by people you’ve never met before. That’s my daily life.

About a year ago I got exhausted with constantly saying to people, “Don’t touch, thanks for the compliment but keep your hands to yourself.” I kind of wanted a recorder to kinda just press play, but I figured that prevention is much better than cure so I printed these t-shirts.

And I start to walk around wearing “No you can’t touch my hair” and I wore them into supermarkets, I wore them to work and to conferences, I wore them out socially.

But what I found is that lots of people start asking me questions. So some people generally didn’t know this was a thing, even though it affects my life, I was like yes it’s a thing. And some people were like, “Yep! I want a t-shirt that happens to me.”

So I wanted to start collecting that data on the survey was born.


Now a friend of a friend, this white guy, was saying, “Yea, but you know I went on holiday to India for two weeks and people touching my hair,” and a lot of other women were saying, “Oh, you know when you’re pregnant people come up and touch your stomach and it’s the same thing.”

Now, I don’t want to take that experience away from anybody. Any form of unwanted and uninvited touching is completely unacceptable, but most women on average are only pregnant for nine months, so that type of touching will come to an end. And I’m on vacation or on holiday, and like many of the respondents, this is the country that I was born and it still happens.

Some people, a very small minority, said they didn’t mind the touching, and again that’s cool. But this campaign is really targeted at the overwhelming, disproportionate number of black people, black women, black girls that experience this unwanted hair touching.


In 1810 a woman named [Sara] Saartjie Baartman was taken from South Africa and brought to the U. K. She had distinct features as a black woman, she had a large behind and they put her on display in Piccadilly Circus. And thousands and thousands of people would come year on year to stare and to point and to touch, fascinated, intrigued, curious.


She survived for five years in the U. K. and when she died doctors and scientists were so fascinated by her body, they made a plaster cast a they preserved her organs in museums until the 1970s and in 2002 to Nelson Mandela sent for her to come home where she received a burial.

When I think the experience I had at school with my peers and I think about the women who answered the “No You Can’t Touch My Hair” campaign survey and I compare that to experience of Sara Baartman, I have to say that the actions keep repeating themselves. This fascination with black bodies, when I say black bodies I include black hair, has been around for centuries. So is the motivation for touching hair different to the motivation for those that
went to see Sara Baartman? I’ll say that again – is the motivation the same for touching hair as it is as the actions that happened to Sarah Baartman?


“Your hair looks like my pubes,” is what a group of lads chanted at me as I walked down Bristol harborside. “I’ve never touched an afro before,” are the kind of comments that people respond when I challenge them after they’ve just grabbed my hair. “You can touch mine,” is a common response I get in meetings or conferences as a trade off for exchanging hair touching. One woman said to me, “Well if you hair wasn’t so beautiful people wouldn’t touch it,” after I went up to her and said, “Don’t touch my hair again.”

Is the motivation different? Because the actions are still the same.


Many of the respondents were angry at the responses that come when you challenge things, so I asked them, “What can we do? What can be done?” And they came up with three things:

  1. They said that the touchers just need to stop touching. So if you’re someone who touches –
    whatever you need to do – put a memo, a post-it note on your computer, educate yourself,
    but stop touching.
  2. They said that more education and awareness was needed. And that looks like more representation in mainstream media, more history in schools and not just one month. I hope that this talk today is how to raise some awareness and education, but don’t be complacent. Google, YouTube exist. So if this reaffirms your position or if this is new to you then learn and share.
  3. Last but not least, they said that we need to call it out more. We all need to call out more.

For the full clip click here.

12: Viola Davis, actor

“Viola Davis Gives Powerful Speech About Diversity and Opportunity”
Television Academy (2015) – Clip is in full.

‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.

And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.

And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line.

13: Angela Davis (political activist, philosopher, academic, and author) & Jane Elliott (schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator)

“A Conversation on Race and Privilege with Angela Davis and Jane Elliott”
University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work (2018)

[moderator] Let’s talk about privilege.

[Jane Elliott] Angela, you want about privilege?

[moderator] And this goes to you Jane, first, how did you first become aware – this is a reflective question – how did you first become aware of your own privilege and how did you first become aware that others had more privilege than you? And I’m going to ask the same of you also.

[Jane Elliott] I never thought of it as white privilege. I just thought if you do the right thing people will do the right thing where you’re concerned and because I’m white they did. And they were wrong because I’ve been doing the wrong thing for about for about thirty three years I did the wrong thing.

I thought it was alright and then I did the Blue-Eyed-Brown-Eyed exercise and I watched a brilliant little blue-eyed white girl turn into a frightened, intimidated, unable-to-learn child in space of 15 minutes because I accused her of not being smart enough because she had the wrong color eyes. And I watched 4 dyslexic brown-eyed boys read words they had never been able to read and spell words they had never been able to spell because nobody had ever told them that they could learn to read or spell, but on the day they have brown eyes it was obvious that the world was their’s, they could do anything.

I found out about expectations that day and I realized that what we have done, what we white folks have done in this country, ever since we got here, is treat people positively or negatively not on the basis of the color of their skin but on the basis of our ignorance about skin color – where it comes from and what it causes.

This is not about skin color, this is about ignorance and the answer to ignorance is education. It is not indoctrination, it is not schooling, and is not training, it is education, but you have to have teachers who know better if they’re going to teach better and teachers can only teach what the know and unfortunately for all of us we’ve all been led down the same ugly path of thinking that it’s all right to claim privilege when what we should be claiming is ignorance.

We’ve got the wrong word here people – this problem is white ignorance and white people are running the show. Now you’re gonna think, “She’s a traitor to her race.” I’m not a traitor to the human race and that’s the only race I see. Make no mistake about that.

And as long as we keep on acting as though there are several races we can have panels like this in which we discuss white privilege instead of discussing white ignorance and deciding to do something about it. We need to start really furnishing education in the schools instead of furnishing indoctrination.

Did that answer your question?

[moderator] Yes, partially. The rest of the question is so how did you become aware of your own privilege or of others have a more privilege than you.

[Jane Elliott] I watched my students and I realized watching them that they were exhibiting the behaviors that they were copying from me. Hey, my little brown-eyed students the day they were on the top in that exercise became me, and is made me sick to my stomach.

And it does to this day, I hate to remember that day because I watched my brown-eyed children who would… we just loved one another in that classroom, we really did! And on that day I found out that I don’t want to be tolerated. ‘Cause in that classroom my kids tolerated because I’m blue-eyed. The first thing that was said after I told the kids the blue-eyed people aren’t as smart as brown-eyed people, a little brown-eyed child in the front row, Debbie Hughes, looked up at me and said, “How come you’re the teacher here if you got them blue eyes?”

I got a real experience that day and a real educational experience people. I found out how I look to people of color.

[Angela Davis] First of all I think it is important to emphasize the notion of privilege, but privilege as Jane pointed out can’t explain the workings of racism altogether.

[moderator] Okay so make that distinction that’s really important.

[Angela Davis] Well do you want me to tell you when I first became aware of racism? I had the… I don’t know whether I would say good fortune of bad fortune of growing up in the most segregated city in the United States of America during the 1940s & 1950s – Birmingham, Alabama.

So I can’t really tell you what I became aware of racism. I think that as I learned to think and learned to conceptualize, racism was always in the forefront. I can tell you that I remember when I was about two years old I was washing my shoe laces, my white shoe laces, because I was going to wear them to Sunday school the next day, it was a Saturday evening, and then suddenly I heard this sound, this thunderous sound.

As it turned out, the house across the street was being bought by the Klu Klux Klan because I lived in an area of Birmingham that was right on the edge of the zone that had been created for black people. So we were able to live on one side of the street, white people on the other side of the street. When black people bought a house on the other side of the street it was bombed by the Klu Klux Klan.

But let me say something parenthetically here, because you might ask, “Well how is it that black people were able to buy a house in the white neighborhood?” Because of course white people would have to sell it to them. It was because white people bought the house, white people who were involved in the anti-racist movement bought the house so that black people could challenge the racial zoning laws.

This was in Birmingham, Alabama. You might have heard of Anne Braden from Louisville, Kentucky who was one of my mentors. I met her when I was very very young. She and her husband, Carl, ended up doing the same thing in Louisville. They bought a house for a black couple, Carl ended up going to the federal penitentiary as a result because he was charged with some incredible charge, but the point that I want to make is that when I learned how to think I learned how to think about racism.

And I was very fortunate to be raised by a mother who was a teacher, my father was a teacher as well, I would like to say an ‘educator’ in the way you described what it means to be an educator, because as I’ve said many times from the moment what became aware of the fact that black people were treated as inferior, I can’t remember hearing my mother’s voice say, “This is not the way things are supposed to be. This is not the way the world is supposed to be
organized and one day they will be different.”

So as a result, I learned how to imagine a different world, early on, when I was 3, 4, 5 years old.

It wasn’t so much a personal awareness, and I think oftentimes we tend to only think about racism in personal terms – if there’s something wrong with this white person because this white person has racist ideas, but it’s about ideology, it’s about how larger forces are doing the work through our emotion and our consciousness and the fact that during that period so many white people, not all, but the vast majority of white people were convinced that black people were inferior. It had something to do with the way in which we conceptualize freedom. I mean how
did white people know that they were free?

During slavery, this was supposed to be the first great democracy in the world. How did people who experienced that democracy know that they were free? Because they looked at slaves and they were able to say, “I am free because I am not a slave. I am free because I am not black. I am free because I am not in prison.”

So I think that it’s really important to ask ourselves how these larger forces, how the state, how racist ideology works through individuals.

For the full clip click here.

14: James Baldwin, novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist

“The Magnificent James Baldwin Explains the Riots of 1968”
David Hoffman’s YouTube channel (originally from a documentary for network television in
1969) – Clip is in full.

The reason that black people are in the streets has to do with the lives they are forced to lead in this country. And they’re forced to lead these lives by the indifference and the apathy and a certain kind of ignorance, a very willful ignorance, on the part of their co-citizens. Everybody knows, no matter what they do not know, is that they wouldn’t like to be a black man in this country.

They know that and they shut their minds against the rest of it – all the implications of being a black father or black woman or a black son. And all of the implications involved in a human being’s endeavor to take care of his wife, to take care of his children, to raise his children to be men and women in the structure which is built to deny that I can be a human being, although my child can be.

The great question in the country’s been all the years I’ve been living here, and I was born here 43 years ago is, “What does the Negro want?” And this question masks a terrible knowledge – I wan exactly what you want and you know what you want. I want to be left alone.

I don’t want any of the things that people accuse negros of wanting and I don’t hate you. I simply want to be able to raise my children in peace, and arrive at my own maturity in my own way, in peace, and I don’t want to be defined by you.

I think that you and I might learn a great deal from each other if you can overcome the curtain of my color. The curtain of my color is what you use to avoid facing the facts of our common history, the facts of American life.

It is easy to call me a negro or a nigga or a promising black man, but, in fact, I’m a man like you.

I want to live like you. This country’s mine, too. I paid as much for it as you. White means you’re European still and black means I’m African we both know we’ve both been here too long – you can go back to Ireland or Poland or England, and I can’t go back to Africa.

And we live here together or we will die here together. It is not, “I am telling you,” time is telling you. You will listen or you will perish.

15: Maya Angelou, poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist

“And Still I Rise” published in 1978
NPR (2014) – Clip is in full.

You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? Just ’cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I rise.

Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t take it awful hard just ’cause I laugh as if I’ve got gold mines digging in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like life, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance as if I have diamonds at the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past rooted in pain, I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide. Welding and swelling, I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak, miraculously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the hope and the dream of the slave, and so I rise. I rise. I rise.

Now there were an infinite amount of speeches and sound clips I could have pulled and there are many different emotions and layers to address in our turbulent, violent, and unequal history in the United States between blacks and whites and it’s not going to be solved or fully addressed in this one lil episode.

I chose these clips to showcase as much variety as I could with as much access as I could get to mp3 recordings of these sound clips. I KNOW I left out a LOT.

But, I hope for those who may not have been listening too well before, or had not heard some of these speeches, this was a start of a greater conversation and education. Again, please consider going to the show notes and downloading the full transcript with links to the fuller videos of each clip as well as a list of additional resources.

In closing, I am sure there are lots of thoughts and emotions swelling through many of you and please feel free to share them with me if you’d like. I thought I’d leave us with this one final thought from an ally who seems to always have a way with words. This is a brief clip from The Daily Show, hosted by Jon Stewart, in 2014:

So we live in New York City, a liberal bastion. Recently – let me finish – recently we sent a correspondent and a producer to a building in this liberal bastion where we were going to tape an interview.

The producer, white, dressed in what could only be described as homeless elf attire, and a pretty strong 5 o’clock from the previous week’s shadow, strode confidently into the building proceeding our humble correspondent, a gentleman of color, dressed resplendently in a tailored suit. Who do you think was stopped?

Let me give you a hint: the black guy. And that shit happens all the time. All of it. Race is there and it is a constant. You’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.

For the full clip click here.

Until next time, Rock/Star. Have a safe and wonderful week, learn something new, expand your understanding of how someone else may be living, and I hope to see you back here next time so we can get grounded to get rising together! Take care.

Featured Speakers

The intro and outro music to this episode was provided by Willie Green’s track “Funeral (w/ Elucid)” from his 2014 EP A Suite for Souled People available on Bandcamp.

Want to hear a particular clip? Go to the time stamps as indicated or click on their links to access each of the speeches in full. It is noted in the Episode 86 Transcript where speeches were, if at all, edited.

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