Community & Government

Become an Example of the Thing You’re Fighting For

Nikole Hannah-Jones reminds us of what history demonstrates: Black people have never been the problem; they have always been the solution for America.

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Topics include: For White Americans • Rage Can Be Good • Black People Are the Solution

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] INTERVIEWER: You've taught so much. What should I do with this wealth of information? And how do I make changes with what you've taught me? - The first thing that we have to do if we want to make changes, if you want to make changes, is it has to start with your own individual decisions. Inequality is structural. But it is maintained by our everyday choices as individuals. And I think a lot of times, we say that because it's structural, there's nothing that I can do. And we actually use that as an excuse not to have to act. So what you should do, as an individual, if you truly care about these issues, stop believing that success means leaving your communities. Stay in your communities. Help your communities. Invest in your communities. And the same thing with your schools. These are all of our children. It is not a deficit to put our Black children in schools with other Black kids who don't have as much money as we have. We have to invest. The worst unintended consequences of the Civil Rights movement was before integration, all of us had to live in the same communities. The Black doctors had to live in the communities with the Black janitors. And what the Civil Rights movement has allowed is a small percentage of us to get out. But the rest of our people are not living like we are. And I just feel like if we truly want to make a change, you have to be fighting against the policies. You have to be fighting against the laws. But you also have to live your life in that way. You have to become the example of the thing that you're fighting for. [MUSIC PLAYING] And for white Americans, white Americans have to really decide, what are their actual values? The reason that a Black person doesn't stay in their neighborhood or go to the Black school is not because they think those people are less than them or they're afraid of them. It's because they understand the way that race drives resources. So they understand that staying in that neighborhood is going to hurt them financially. Staying that neighborhood means that their child will likely not get the same educational resources. Those white Americans who have had generational advantage have to be willing to give some of that advantage up. You'll still be advantaged. Because this is America. But give some of that up for the benefit of equality in our country and stop being afraid of other folks. I think James Baldwin probably said it best when he said, white people have to give up whiteness. That's not saying that there's anything wrong with descending from Europe. That's not whiteness. Whiteness is created. It is a construct. And it is about power. And if we truly want to create the America that we pretend we are, we have to break that power that is aligned with whiteness and actually create a society where we can all have justice, we could all have enough to eat, we can all have quality schools. And we can do that. It's the choice. [...

About the Instructor

From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Cornel West, John McWhorter, Angela Davis, Jelani Cobb, and Sherrilyn Ifill

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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