Profound Conversations

The American Social Epidemic Of Violence and Racism Part II, Transforming Anguish Into Purpose

June 13, 2020 Today's panelists are Pastor Melvin Russell, Adar Ayira, Major Neill Franklin, Justin Hodge, DeBorah Ahmed, Dr. Charles Lewis, and the host is Linda Howard. Season 1 Episode 11
Profound Conversations
The American Social Epidemic Of Violence and Racism Part II, Transforming Anguish Into Purpose
Show Notes Transcript

Protests that originated in Minneapolis after a white police officer killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, quickly spread around the country. The reality of social inequality create anger and despair that is now playing out on the streets of cities throughout the country. How did we get here and what is the way forward? What are specific health impacts on individual, family and communities from both physical and mental perspectives? What are effective pathways to breakthroughs in enforcement and judicial policies and civic engagement? How do we begin to transform our social contract to include those who have been dehumanized, commoditized and under represented?


Today's panelists are Pastor Melvin Russell, Adar Ayira, Major Neill Franklin, Justin Hodge, DeBorah Ahmed, Dr. Charles Lewis, and the host is Linda Howard.

The Profound Conversations Podcast is produced by Erika Christie https://www.ErikaChristie.com

The Profound Conversations Series can be found at
https://www.profoundconvos.com/series

Karim Ali :

Welcome everyone to Profound Conversations 11th episode. My name is Karim Ali, I'm an executive producer partner with Muslim life planning Institute. And today's discussion is part two of the American social epidemic of violence and racism, transforming anguish into purpose, through the pursuit of freedom, justice, and equity. A little bit about Profound Conversations for our audience and I see audience members have been here before. Profound Conversations are listening and discussion space which brings for most thought leaders into a conversation to grapple with the vexing challenges of today we use intercultural dialogue sense of community and organizational engagement to initiate valuable cultural, educational, economic, and policy outcomes and would like to say, in an ever evolving world, new ideas and transformative ways of being of the lights at the end of the tunnel, hence why we brought many lights here today representing sectors of the various sectors of our community, law enforcement, education and public health, governance, a sector community building, and I want to now turn it over to our host, extraordinaire, a Miss Linda Howard, Linda, please take it away. Okay.

Linda Howard :

Thank you and welcome everybody. This as Karim mentioned, this is our 11th episode of Profound Conversations. Today's episode is a part two. We did Part One last week. And if you missed that episode, please visit our website in listen to it because it was through that profound conversation that we concluded that we needed to keep this particular discussion going. So we brought six new, Profound Conversations cars to the conversation today. But before we get started, I wanted to just kind of share some of share some of my thoughts. We've been talking about policing and a culture of violence and racism in America. And we've been engaging in these Profound Conversations, to get to some breakthroughs. That but in order for us to do that, we have to hear many voices. We have to hear many views. We have to understand the impact that this has on the community. We have to understand the mindset of police officers and the challenges the biases the face. Here's the police leadership in the role that even the police unions play. And we also have to understand the pain at the family level, and what families experience when they get that call. And I can tell you from personal experience, I'm having gotten that call twice. And my family, my youngest brother, as well as my nephew, both were killed on through through gun violence. And I understand what impact that that has on the family, what impact that that has on parents. And then I take that and I think about what families experience when they get that call, that a family member's life has been taken by someone who was trusted with the authority to protect them. Very rarely Is there any charges filed? And even when there are charges, there's very rarely a conviction. So, you know, we want to also just think about what that experience is like to get the call All, too, even when there's charges to sit in a courtroom and hear in non non guilty verdict. And we're not, you know, we're not in this conversation just to kind of rehash some of the obvious but order to for us to get through some breakthroughs. And we've concluded that we got to hear many voices. And we have to have this comprehensive, comprehensive approach. And in this conversation, I'm bringing all of me to this conversation, the African American woman who has nephews who've experienced the violence within our own family, but I'm also bringing in my experience as a compliance and ethics officer, which I've done for over 15 years. And what I know from that experience is that in order for you to have compliance, you have to implement every single element of an effective compliance program. And so when I'm talking when we're talking today, I'm hoping that we can co create what those effective elements are, for us to get to a place where we have good policing. And when we create a culture in America, where we don't have the violence, we don't have the bias, and we don't have the racism. So before I can open it up for our profound conversation illis to jump in, I just want to put a few things on the table that I want to carry over from my experiences as a compliance and ethics officer and some of those elements. And one is that we got to have those policies and procedures, policies and procedures don't mean anything. If we don't train to them. We got to have training, if we don't enforce them, where people fear that there is going to be a disciplinary action that there's going to be punishment. When you violate those policies and procedures. We also have to have money Monitoring to make sure it works. We have to have clear methods of communication where people can feel that they can report things. And when they report those things that there is not going to be a retaliation. And we kind of move forward to where we were with the George Floyd situation. Even if we had the policies and procedures in place, if those police officers did not fear, punishment, it doesn't mean anything. And we've been in a position where we've been reacting. So we have violence, we have unjustified killings, or questionable killings, and we say, Okay, give police officers body cams. Well, that didn't help at all, to save the life of George Floyd, because you have to have every single element, and we have to bring these different voices to the discussion. So today, the previous conversation, the future conversations, I'm bringing all of me into this conversation, Muslim life planning or leadership, we're bringing all of us into this conversation. So I'm asking our profound conversation was today to bring all of you into this conversation. This is not a conversation to be experts. This is not an academic conversation. This is a family conversation that we're in to get through some breakthroughs. So, on that note, I am not going to do an introduction of each panelist and tell you all of your credentials. Just everybody know we got some heavyweights in this conversation. And so I will ask each and every panelist to just take a few minutes to tell us your name, who you are, and why you are in this conversation. And I'm going to start with my screen when I'm looking at I'm looking at Colonel Russell. So can you start us off?

Pastor Melvin Russell :

Sure. Well, you just said who I was. So yeah, um actually, I'm a retired colonel/Chief, as well as Acting Deputy Commissioner from Baltimore police department where I did just shy of 40 years. So pretty much a place that I grew up in, in Baltimore City. I'm also still an assistant pastor in Baltimore City. And I joined a conversation because I believe in social justice, economic justice and everything else, when we talk about justice and Kareem and I connected some years back, and have been doing some work together. And I've been sick and tired for a very, very long time of the system of corruption and discrimination and everything else that really affects people of color. And so anytime I get an opportunity from an organization that I know, is serious about movement, serious about talking about bringing around or incorporating social justice and getting us on a playing field, where there is equality across the board, I'm there so we it for me, it's more than just talking about it. The conversation is nice, a dialogue is nice, but it's got to be backed by some action. He's got to be backed by some policy changes and a whole lot of other things. I've always said this, and I start with this, you know, our people are really good at raising their voices in time of crisis. Like with George Floyd, you know, whether it's, you know, Eric Gardner, for us, it was Freddie Gray, Michael Brown. So we're really good at raising our voices for 30, maybe 90 days, and I'm a firm believer in this, I don't have any data to back this up. But then we die off, we kind of go back to business as usual. And when that happens, I just believe those that are our who likes status quo, pretty much can wait us out and don't mind knowing that they will, they will pretty much die off in a couple of months. And we'll go back to business as usual. And I've been telling my wife, this is the time now that I pray. We've been shaking so bad with this last event, this last horrific event with George Floyd that we absolutely do not go back into our corners and call timeout and just get more of the same treatment but we absolutely stand continue to cry and not just cry out about But do it in a in a way that smart. There's no loitering, loitering, loitering, there's no looting. There's no there's no rioting. But we use our our brainpower to really get policy changed in this country because until then nothing's going to happen. And I'll absolutely say this rules without consequences, rules without consequences, which we've been doing for a long time, especially within a system. When there's no consequences when people break the rules within a system. It breeds corruption, and it promotes lawlessness in that order. And that's what we're dealing with now. Just got to that point now that people said, you know, what, enough is enough, and we're not talking about anymore and now they don't want it.

Linda Howard :

Well, thank you, Justin.

Justin Hodge :

Thank you for having me. My name is Justin Hodge. I'm a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. I primarily teach policy courses and courses to get social work students to get engaged in policy and political work. I'm also the chair of the Washington County shares community advisory board for law enforcement This conversation is particularly timely for us right now. We had an incident of police use of force. Very recently here in my board is going through a process right now collecting public comment, I will get a conversation to share very soon. And my board will be doing a citizens review of the incident, in addition to that conversation, to talk about how we can take these changes that we all know need to happen, but move them into the policy realm. I'm currently running for Washington County Commissioner, and my hope is, as an elected official via which I'd promote more socially just policies. And that's something that we really need to do. We need to galvanize all this attention on these really important issues to turn them into policy.

Linda Howard :

Major Franklin

Major Neill Franklin :

Hi, my name is Neil Franklin. And I'm from Baltimore. I've been in policing. I've got a policing career. Over 34 years now retired Maryland State Police, Baltimore City and Maryland Transit. And for the past 10 years I've been the executive director of the law enforcement action partnership, leap for short. And we are a nonprofit organization we're International. But we are a collection of police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, parole and probation federal agents and more members of the criminal justice community who had been pretty much doing this work within our neighborhoods and communities and continue to do this work. We are retired Members, we are also active members of those disciplines I just mentioned. And although we have thousands of members from from around the globe, we have just under 300, who we consider experts who are ambassadors, our speakers for carrying the messages of not so much reform because reform can be about just remoulding something, you still have the same problems. It just looks different. We are solution oriented. So we look at the issues and problems we were having within our justice system. And collectively all these disciplines we come up with solutions. And we we educate folks by writing op eds. We do publications, we speak at conferences, universities, any, any community based organization or group we do a lot of webinars. We host at least one or two webinars every every month. And a big part of what we do is educating our policymakers at the state, local and federal levels on need for policy change. And we also focus on public policy. See, which is huge for us in either working to eliminate problematic public policy, and we also try to do our best with keeping an eye out for the development, the creation of problem, public policy, so that we can push back against the implementation of public policy that could be problematic. A lot of the work we do is focused upon the black community and policing within the black community, the entire justice system. Because we the data is clear, and not just by a little but blacks are arrested, charged, convicted, and have higher sentences than than white by far in this country. So we do that work. And I'll end with this the five silos work that we we do. You're centered in police community relations, incarceration, drug policy, harm reduction, and then global issues. And under each one of those silos of work, you'll see just a, a very large collection of micro issues that we focus on. And, of course, with what we're dealing with today, over the past couple of weeks, with the murder of George Floyd, and which were said, we know it's not just about George Floyd. It's about all the other black bodies that have come before George floor. And so we've been focused on that work for years. And so anyway, we cannot let this this moment escape us in the work that we need to do. So. That's it.

Linda Howard :

Thank you, Adar.

Adar Ayira :

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I'm excited about the conversation. Um, I am the Senior Director of strategy and racial equity with associated black charities, which is a public foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. I also engaged this work through Baltimore racial justice action, which is a group of facilitators and trainers and citizens and residents who are interested in racial justice, not only in Baltimore, not only in the state of Maryland, but in doing what we can where we can. With associated black charities. I do trainings and facilitations, with institutions, with businesses with nonprofit organizations, sharing with them how to incorporate a quote unquote racial equity lens and their policies and their practices. I also work with our policy makers to help them understand And how essential it is to craft to monitor to evaluate policies that are fair for all of our citizens. And as we know, what we see happening now, is is not just what is happening now it is 400 years of policies which privilege some people and disadvantage others, which have an impact on every single aspect of life in this country. And if we are going to craft change, we need to first acknowledge that, that this has been a 400 year battle for the soul of America. And then we need to figure out those things that we need for justice, racial justice and for repair and for moving forward together. And that is why I'm here today.

Linda Howard :

Thank you for being here. And we have DeBorah Ahmed.

DeBorah Ahmed :

Good afternoon, everybody. Linda, thank you very much for asking me to be a part of this most profound conversation that we're having. With some for me new family members I've met before. Brother Karim and brother Samuel is good to be a part of this. So I think all of you all, I am with a nonprofit organization, the St. Louis, Missouri called better family life Incorporated. The national headquarters sits here in St. Louis, and for a lot of folks who may be in the audience. St. Louis got on the map when Ferguson erupted on August 10, actually 2014 after the murder of Michael Brown on August 9 2014. Better family life for the past 37 years has been doing work primarily for and with African Americans and we believe that our work is so uniting families and empowering communities. And we do that by providing hope, comprehensive services and meaningful opportunities for everybody, anybody who comes to our doors, what we have seen in the past 37 years of our existence is black folks expressing a lack of self love. And one of the reasons that we constantly find ourselves we believe in the situation's that we are in, because when we look at people who look like ourselves, we don't love them because we don't love ourselves. So what does that do? It makes us open and makes us vulnerable to anybody from the outside. Coming in, and I always say that doesn't excuse the behavior of anybody who's on the outside coming in, because what has happened to us recently, historically, Since we were brought to the shores of this continent by people who meant us, no good, who saw us as human chattel as property is they have done deeds that have been despicable to us. And they have continued to this day. And what the whole world saw a little more than two weeks ago, was a black man being murdered. And I am so glad to see that so many young people are involved in this in the outcry now, of this will not happen anymore. I'm also glad to see a lot of white folks involved in it too. How long is it gonna last? I don't know. I am, like the brother who spoke earlier that a lot of times this last 3060 or 90 days but hopefully this fast has been lifted permanently. Because we all saw it. Nobody had to edit a videotape, there were no edited videotapes of what we just saw. It was blatant murder of a brother who said, Stop, I cannot breathe other people saying, stop, he cannot breathe, get your foot off his neck. He didn't. So here we are having another conversation. And we we know, I know a better family life we practice that we are the same people who we serve. And we have to believe in practice that we have the ability to change our reality so that we can restore ourselves to our traditional greatness. So with that being said, Linda, pass it back to you.

Linda Howard :

Thank you. And finally, but certainly not least, Dr. Lewis

Dr. Charles Lewis :

Good afternoon everyone. Ah, the system our system is broken. This system of government democracy is broken, and it has to be fixed. And we have we're gonna we're gonna have to deal with all kinds of issues and of course, this latest incident involving the murder of George Floyd. Once again, remind us that you know, we have a long way to go you know, and to create a society that's gonna treat black people like citizens. I I've been, I've been really into James Baldwin lately and you know, I I just I guess I've discovered him. No, no Lay a time read some of his books. But now I'm really listening to what he has to say. And one of the things he said that that really struck me was, he says, you know, you're not sitting in a second class citizen. All right? He said, All he was asked about being a citizen, struggling for his civil rights. He said, if you have if you're a citizen, you don't have to stop before your freedom rights, civil rights, you have your civil rights. So I am a social worker. I am a product of the black church, at one point, I was working in a black church in Brooklyn, St. Paul community Baptist Church in East New York with African American males. And my father died when I was 16. And so I many I kind of lost my way and I didn't have a Focus, I didn't have a purpose. So I went, you know, I did this different things, and not really kind of doing that. Long story short, is that. So I was in this church at 42. And I was telling these brothers that they need to go back to school. So I went back to school, got my BA, because I had been in clinical counseling, I thought, Oh, I'm gonna go and learn how to be a clinical counselor that I can come back and work with these brothers one on one. And then I discovered policy, because I realized as much as you do in terms of clinical counseling, unless you take, pay attention to the policies, you know, it's going to be an uphill struggle. So, long story short, that's where my focus is now. My, my nonprofit focuses on helping social workers engage with the political arena, because I feel that our values and skills and knowledge will be useful there. And I'll talk a little bit more later about some of the things that I'm doing specifically.

Linda Howard :

Great. So there's two things that I mean, I've heard a couple of people mentioned and this in your interactions is skeptical about how long will this last? You know, is this the the 30 to 60 to 90 days in then it fizzles out. The question that I asked last week of our profound conversation list of is what makes this particular incident different. I know in 2015, I did a presentation surrounding questionable police shootings, and I put together a spreadsheet and I think I was in 2015. I was up to 75 That I had catalogs starting back from Mama do diavolo. And that was in 1999. And, and most of those situations, there was not a, there was not a conviction. There was not even a an arrest or charges. And in most of those situations there was there was no conviction. And we don't know those names. I mean, we've now you know, when we, when we hear people talking, we hear about five or six names, but that was 2015 when I came up with 75 names. So I'm asking the question, What's different? And I want to throw this question out to to Bora to talk about a little bit. What do you see as a difference with this situation in Ferguson in those that are in Maryland to talk about? What's the difference between this situation and what we experienced in Baltimore More with Freddie Gray. And so I am going to open it up for our profound conversation list to jump in.

DeBorah Ahmed :

So I see a few differences. One I mentioned in my introduction, first one being that we saw somebody murdered. And in my age in my life, I've never experienced that. Before we saw somebody begging for their life, we saw somebody have the opportunity to stop, we heard people cry out, stop, stop, stop. And the man didn't stop. And the other people who were there the other three officers, they did not intervene to stop it. So we saw brutality, on a very animalistic level. And in the social arena, what we saw was racism in its systemic form. We saw a lack of humanity, we saw a lack of empathy. We saw lack of compassion, in a very basic form. So that's it. One difference. I think another difference is that it is shot out all over the world. So other countries around the world, other people and other countries around the world are rallying to support us one into the speak out about the own racial and justices that they are experiencing in their home countries. Three in this country, we're seeing probably millions now, not only of people, but of white Americans coming out and speaking out against this, which is a whole different voice that we're hearing, and many of them are young people. So those for me, those are the three major differences that I'm seeing that differentiates the recent murders that we all know about, of African Americans at the hands of the police, primarily black men. And what is occurring Today, and another thing is that we're seeing an asinine human being who was elected, should I say selected as a president of this country? Who is not showing any connectivity to the tragedy of what has occurred? And the voices that are crying out to say, this must not happen.

Linda Howard :

All right, B-more in the house. what's what's different than what happened with Freddie Gray.

Pastor Melvin Russell :

If I may. So the board hit the nail on the head. It's pretty much the same thing. And I'll work backwards. I say the number one thing that's different First of all, it just feels different. I think we all can agree with that. And the reason it feels so much different is this has really been a wake up call, not just for color, people of color. Yeah, we have some, some of our white brothers and sisters with us during the Freddie Gray uprising, civil unrest, riots, whatever you want to call it. But this is way different. This is way different. And I think it's different because the accumulation of these type of tragic events, and I hear my beloved sister Deborah said, This time we seen a murder. But I remind us that we saw almost the same thing happened to Eric Gardner was yelling, I can't breathe, and that was filmed. And we saw the murder take place, just like we see here with George Floyd. So I think the accumulation of everything that we're seeing, and it's coming so quickly now, back to back to back to back. There were a time when you saw these atrocities happening, years apart. It seems like they're happening every couple of months now. We're seeing this and I think it just got to the point sick and tired of secondary debt. My beloved sister really hit the nail on the head, going Freddie Gray. We had number 44, the beloved, the beloved, the wonderful President Barack Obama, who was compassionate for the whole country, as well as that incident, now we have number 45. I have difficulty saying his name, we have number 45. Who's driving racism? Who's allowed these things almost empower these people who are, who are racist. It's giving them the freedom to be these racists, you know, and I had difficulty when I first took office. And he talked to I guess he thought he was talking to us police officers, and you'll you'll remember this when he told law enforcement across the country. Don't be so nice when you look at the bad guys. be rough with them. When you put them in a car, make sure you hit your head against the roof of the cars, you put them into the car, just stupid and asinine. Things that he was saying. I thought man, he just you don't know what he just said. You had no idea what he just said. And then just think of everything he has not said. Everything he has said and has not said has absolutely fuel the flames to what's going on now and did nothing to de escalate anything. So you have now more division and it's country that never even power, white privilege. That's what you've done. And you demoralized and absolutely reiterated that people of color are secondary, even that people in this country. And so you have the two now going at each other. And I thank God that you have people who are not people of color who are raising up and saying, you know what, this is wrong. This is wrong. But I think those three things are really the difference. That's what's going on right now in the wake up. And I think God is hitting all across the country. I never thought I was seeing Dignitas people from around the world. I was just looking at Australia. Are they being killed at a higher rate percentage, then color people black people in the United States? Absolutely. I was floored by that. I was absolutely floored by that. But nobody's talking about it. So you see now people standing up all across the world against this racism. And I am so grateful. And I will say what many commentators have said, I absolutely believe that George Floyd's death is murder. I'm sorry, his murder will not be in vain. It's got to bring policy changes and shame on All of us if we don't see that through.

Adar Ayira :

Can I chime in from Baltimore? I would say this, you know, I agree with with everything that has been said thus far. And I will just add that the blatancy of it, right to blatancy of it. When when the image of the police the police with hands and pockets, standing almost in 100 hands like some hunters do when they are exhibiting an animal as a trophy that they have just killed. That is is very blatant and and the the number of videos that we see coming out just as television and the showing of violence in the 1960s the showing of racial violence on TV in the 60s, spurred out not only a black America who had been talking about this before Generations but a white America who was long complacent with it, comfortable with it, and complicit with it. Those same conditions were happening today. This is what has been said by black people in terms of police abuses and brutality, in terms of other forms of violence, including policy violence. Black people and brown people have been speaking out against this in the vineyard totally, to make changes for generations. But we have COVID-19 we have a white supremacist in the White House. We have 58% of white people who voted for this white supremacist in the White House. Right. And and I am not saying and I want to be very clear, I'm not saying that everybody who voted for Trump is a racist. I don't know that I don't even care. What I'm saying is the 58% of white people who voted and it was an extremely racialized vote there was there were no other people of color who voted for him in those high percentages. They were comfortable voting for someone who ran a white racialized campaign. So So all of that is is going on here. And and I think that just like in the 60s, and in that third phase or fourth phase of the civil rights movement, the king movement, you had a tipping point that was less than 25% of the general population. Right. Now we have a tipping point where people are taking charge taking heed and showing out will it move to policy? I hope that it will, but only time will tell but I think that that is the difference the blatancy of the actions of those acting under color of law.

Major Neill Franklin :

I'll be brief this this is Neill also from Baltimore. And do my best not to repeat any of the great comments had already been made. So I'll go ahead and begin with some that haven't but I will segue with this what what Melvin was saying regarding number 45 minutes in a White House, I think that also people recognize known as critical moment. November is right around the corner. And they realize how critical it is to get number 45 out of the White House for all the things that have been said about him on this webinar right now from the from the other panels. So we have that. Now we have the Black Lives Matter Matter Movement is now a positive movement being embraced by so many people, you know, number 45 and others were trying to make this seem as as a hate group. Not anymore, folks. It's painted on the streets of Washington, DC leading up to the White House. absolutely critical In this, and then then I'll end my comments with this. Even in the wake of that visual murder of George Floyd by a police officer, the police still had the audacity to use violence don't peaceful protest. And so people are seeing for the, with their own eyes with the with video after video after video that even with this horrific murder, the police are still out there pushing and shoving people and using tear gas and rubber bullets close up when peaceful protest and they're still out there, you know, arresting black folks who jaywalking and just these minor in fact they're still acting up in a violent way. And people are continuing to see this and they recognize the urgency oh and final from the US United Nations is now on this also looking at this situation here and policing in the United States as a human rights issue from the United Nations. And that's tied to the global attention.

Linda Howard :

Wow. If you tuned into any of our earlier broadcasts, you know, I frequently started out saying we want to just kind of establish where we are, like, this is where we are folks. And before we can even start thinking about where do we go from here? It's just really acknowledging where we are. And I think, you know, the Profound Conversations today has given us a good picture about where we are, what's happening in the country right now, where we are as a society, and some of the history that that brought us here. But I want us to kind of in the next part of this to really start thinking about, you know, what's the next steps? What are the solutions How do we really begin to how do we begin to effectuate change? But before we do that I'm going to anyone can jump in here. But I think we might need to do a little bit of an education lesson. And because if I look at some of the comments that I've gotten from people is, I've had people ask me exactly what is institutionalized racism? What is systemic racism? You know, what is this thing around implicit bias, and I know a few of you are really out there doing some of that work. So if maybe we can just take about two minutes and just give a little bit of an education about some of these terms that we hear being thrown around.

Adar Ayira :

I'll jump in and start, um, institutional racism really talks about those policies, those practices, that that happen within our institutions. Right, but are the policies and the practices are interwoven together. And I'll use this as an example. EOC guidelines, right? Every single institution has to operate under those which supposedly help guard against discrimination. But those don't necessarily mention or talk about anti blackness. They don't mention or talk about implicit bias or any except the most blatant ways in which we see racism, white supremacy, ableism and other ism forms operate within our culture. So that that really is what we're talking about when we talk about that it is mostly invisible, because it is often just the way that we do business, but yet it has profound impact. structural racism is The ways in which those things are woven through between above and under our systems, our structures, everything that operates within society. So for instance, when we talk about news, right new shows, and I am a new show junkie, God helped me. But when we see experts, the people who come up as experts, it is mostly until all of this started happening, panels of white men and maybe white women. When we look at TV and particularly in this area, if we're talking about criminals or violence, we're talking not about the people in the suburbs or the people in rural areas, we're talking about black people. So it is the ways in which we receive both both implicit and explicit messages about our role in society and where where we are in Where should be, and a lot of what we're reacting to, or what society reacts to now while we see everybody happening is because those though that social contract about where people should be is no longer being adhered to.

Linda Howard :

DeBorah, you want to weigh in?

DeBorah Ahmed :

You're right. Institutionalized and systemic racism run parallel to each other. They are journeys down the same road. It allows people who see themselves as white folks, because in order to be a racist, you have to have power. No, really, you cannot be a racist without power, whether it is perceived power or real power, it must be present. And generally with that type of power to implement comes to financial capability to implement and sustain. So it allows white people systemic and institutionalized racism, to practice their hardiness of who they are, how they see themselves in the world in relationship to people of color in particular, they really don't have to work there that hard because the the social structures allow them to be and operate in that space, and is supportive of that. So when you go for a job, right, as an African American, the person who's interviewing you who is a Caucasian, just may make a little note on the application, that's part of their practice, right? To let someone know who sees that application, even to remind them that this is somebody of color and I have this moment Have them. That's how institutionalized racism works. And when the white person comes in after that black person or somebody of color, who doesn't even have the same background, right? qualifications, in quotes experience for real, to get their job over that blank person who came in before them, because that play person is not wanted it not needed and not seen as an asset within that work environment. So it allows for racism to occur. And it is not a whole lot of work that's required on the individual because the system supports it and happens over and over and over.

Linda Howard :

Now before we because I want to throw a couple of questions to our those that have that history in law enforcement, but Adar I want to go back to you mentioned the social contract. Can you just tell us what you meant by the social contract?

Adar Ayira :

So, um every society every institution operates under a social contract. It is a social contract of laws. It's a social contract, which defines what is good, what is bad, are mores for doing things, right. It also defines how words are used, for instance, and so for instance, how the word violence is used. And if you notice that, that in our society, when we talk about violence, we talk about property. Right? There are times when we when we talk about people, but the two forms of violence that in society we get most upset about is his profit, or lack thereof, and property. We do not talk about the violence of policy. We do not talk about the violence of lack of opportunity. We do not Talk about the violence of lack of access or anything that results from those forms of violence. So those are just examples of a social contract and how it is maintained. Or another example, when we talk about forms of protests that are acceptable, right. And though those things that are acceptable or not acceptable are always defined by the dominant society, those people who aren't in those people who will be long in groups that are in power. So therefore, you have people from groups who are empowered with the ability to say that taking a knee is not an appropriate form of protest. Right? That speaking out however you do, it is not an appropriate form of protest. Or or that something is I was reading some tweets and they were saying, Oh yes, this is an appropriate form of protests when people used to dress up. And then they had a picture of Mark Martin Luther King and others walking over that. Edwards. Oh my god blanking on the name.

DeBorah Ahmed :

The Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Adar Ayira :

The Edmund Pettus Bridge thank you and saying 'oh, this is an appropriate form protest.' Well, it wasn't appropriate in the 60s. So you have people trying to to juxtaposition what is appropriate not understanding the history, but understanding their power of what is appropriate and what is not. That's the social contract when you have white women calling the police and expecting police to come out because there is a white there's a black man birdwatching or a black family in the park and when police actually come out because of identify black person that is a way in Which a social contract is in operation. So the social contract is often invisible. It is accepted. And it is when we go outside of those normative parameters, where there are societal sensors that come on us, straight and happy. And this is more about a social contract can be found in Professor Charles Mills book of that same name, the social contract.

Linda Howard :

And I know, Colonel Russell has got to run a little bit early, he's going to have to leave us about 15 minutes 15 minutes early. And but I do want in so I want him to be able to, to weigh in on this and I will ask any of the individuals that's in our audience. If you want to put some questions in our question and answer box you should start doing that because we said we were going to deal with the questions at the end. But if we have some pressing questions, we may interject those and before Russell leaves us so I'll ask Russell and in also a major Franklin to kind of, you know, if you take into consideration what you heard before and Adar say, how do you see this? And in law enforcement, where are those biases in the racism? And what is that social contract?

Pastor Melvin Russell :

Oh, they're alive and well. in law enforcement. I can only speak for Baltimore Police Department, but I've been fortunate. I was a task force federal agent assigned to both a memorable mostly Police Department got assigned to FBI, DEA, ATF. So I got a lot of exposure to death for about 14 years of my 20 years in our cottage. And so, I will say to you, first of all racism, period discrimination is absolutely alive and well within law enforcement. And let me let me let me caveat by saying this, like any Police will tell you the vast majority of police officers are really really good police officer and then out of that you have some really great police officers. But make no mistake about it they're individuals my wife was joking the other day she says no no, you know how when you apply to become a law enforcement officer and they ask your integrity questions and and this that in the third they need to start asking Are you a member of any racial organizations like KJ skinhead Nazis and stuff like that? That's a really good because we do have and I know factually, within bulk mcleese department when I was there, we have on the cover people that are part of kkk and things like that, and the titles practices out so so until you get in so the way to resolve that is get proper leadership that don't take a turn a blindside week. I'll see too many leaders. I worked for 15 different Commission's over my tenure. That's a lot of commissioners, and a lot of them literally just turn a blind eye they make sure they have a blind eye when it came to systematic and eternal racism. It was a real simple there and a lot of them and I'm not banging anybody, but some of them got up there. Not a lot of them got up there. But basically turning the blinds on become a part of the good old boys club. So if you were a person of color, not all of them, there were some real champions of colors that made it to the top. But to get up there, a lot of them really I just like to say, sold their souls, right. And so you've allowed because it's Listen, any organization, especially in law enforcement, any good soldier is going to follow the lead of the leader. Right. And so if the leader has some unbiased attributes in his personality, it's going to get filtered down. And if he's turned a blind eye, and I talked about earlier that without consequences, if you can get away with doing things, which we have done for many years across this country, law enforcement, and there's not going to be any consequences or because you have white privilege, you get a slap on the wrist. If that and a black officer gets terminated. Then what you've done is you set up a system within a department within an agency and I will say this Throughout my tenure, what I saw in the culture, man, how do I say this? And because I just need to be brutally honest here. What I saw in the culture of policing First of all, the thin blue line is real. Okay, you do not cross that thin blue line. And so if you are ostracized just by blowing the whistle was something that's right. And then you a black bowl. I mean, you are you're blackballed from promotions. You're blackballed from assignments, your black hole goal from even getting the proper backup, then you've made a real difficult for anyone to blow the whistle and, and tell him his brothers and sisters. That's very difficult. I've never been that out when I suffered for not biting that Apple. But I would do it all over again because I have turned on black and people of people of color and white people throughout my career. But all enough the ones that I turned on with black, yeah, they got terminated, they got the highest degree of punishment. And the one that I turned on that why you got swept under the carpet. And so that culture and I will Push it back and blame it on this, the real dynamic in this country now set up with this and let Neil get in here. For me the real change came throughout the 90s when the Big Apple, New York adopted a policy called zero tolerance, zero tolerance said, we can arrest our way out of this. And if you know anything about law enforcement, law enforcement is always seeking the best practice what is happening in the other part of the country, and their law enforcement agency that we can now adopt and apply now law enforcement agency. And basically, when people accept their best practices, they don't tell them make them, they don't tweak them. They pick up that square policy, bring it back to their agency, and try to shove it into the round circle. And we did that doing something called the O'Malley administration, where we locked up one six of our population for an entire year. People lives were ruined. People couldn't get jobs after that. And so what I'm saying to you is when zero tolerance hit it basically open the Pandora's box. For how we see police acting today that's getting captured by video. I think it was, well, Miss Smith said this a new, none of this is new. It's just now being captured on video. It's always been there. And so we're seeing it being captured on video. And I really believe zero towers really kicked the door in for that. And it's making it real difficult, because it takes a leader, a real leader to turn the tide of his department back around to get to the business of day of protecting and serving. And what most agencies have done and most people have heard me say this, all they want to do is protect all they want to do is fight bad guys get the guns off the street, but nobody wants to serve anymore. Nobody wants to serve their community that the sworn to protect and serve. So you know what, when I come to you, I got all the answers. I don't need your advice. Just let me handle it my way. We don't listen anymore to our community. We are occupiers. We're not partners within our community. And it's going to take strong leadership and all of those 18,000 Police Department 80,000 police departments across this country, representing 800,000 Police officers, and I'm not saying they're all bad, but there's a lot of great departments. But we got too many big departments that allowing this shenanigans to go on. And I will say I love with the the key said in Minneapolis that apology, but how many days that have taken him and say he apologized for what happened. That was so blatant, so blatant using the words of my sister daughter. What happened to George Floyd, the apology should have came right away action should take place right away. There wasn't a rest right away. There was nothing happened until pressure was so so much that they had to do something. I felt leadership. Any city if you're if your mayor if your city if your manager, your city manager if your county executive, your police department leadership. If your state's attorney's office, if they're not on the same page, and pushing back against this darkness, it's not gonna get any better. The challenges is real difficult to really police like this. It's real difficult because you're worried about your money. You're worried about your job position. You're worried about the next election. You're worried about all this stupid stuff you forget about people. So you let these atrocities take place. I probably said too much. I'm gonna kick it over to my friend Neill.

Linda Howard :

Well, before you before we kick it over, we are going to kick it over. But before we do, I did have a question that came through to me for for you. And that question was whether or not there is an opportunity for police officers to have voice?

Pastor Melvin Russell :

So that so there is but again, a lot of police officers are afraid to raise that voice is a rare breed officer that raises voice because of the consequences with it. Right? You get out of line, you're not a good soldier, you challenge the system. You're not a good soldier. And I've seen police that the police get bury because they raised a righteous voice. And the leadership heard it and they burned them if they didn't just stop them by saying Shut up, know your place, and that person is up and know their place. All of a sudden, in the words of Denzel Washington will put a case on you because at any time Any officer all of us make mistakes. I've been really fortunate in my career, over 5000 arrests, never had one legitimate complaint made against me, not one large. And so I've been I really I believe I've done it the right way, not saying I was perfect, but I've done it the right way. And so one of the things that law enforcement superiors couldn't do towards me when they didn't like that I wasn't going along with the system, if they could put cases on, because that happens, that's a good way to shut you down. take something away from you, threaten you with something threaten you without taking away a position where it takes me big. That was never been able to do to me because they never had a leg to stand on. So it is difficult for police in this day and age. It is difficult, but it's the right thing to do to raise their voice unless police collectively get together. And too often they're afraid to do that. I was having a lot of police come together in my agency and saying, Listen, I will be your one champion. I'm not at the top of the top of the pyramid, but I'm pretty darn close. And I will be your champion and when you want to raise a voice, I will fight for you. And so not only did I Do that for the community. But I also did that for the police. So it's possible, but you need strong leadership, at least somebody that will stand up for the cops, because the leader not only got to take care of his cops, he's got to take care of his community. While he's taking care of the community. I take yours cup, and that's a rare breed.

Adar Ayira :

Sister Linda, before we move on, can I say something to that?

Pastor Melvin Russell :

Who's that, Adar?

Adar Ayira :

Because you may not remember this, but but I remember this. Do you remember when an incident happened to me and I called you because nobody else was asking. I do. And, and, and, you know, me, Melvin, you know, but but the reason that I reached out because I knew that number one, you know, I saw you, I saw your character I saw who you were, as even as a police officer in, in in your role of authority. I saw how you Reading people, I saw how you stood up and I saw the risk that you took. And and in Baltimore, you were an example of, you know, somebody who was who followed your own moral code around it, and who was transparent about it. So the level of trust, right, you have that. So when when I came to you, and even though I knew that, that maybe you could not speak up within that system, I so appreciate it the way that you stood with me and the way that you guided me and gave me advice about how to handle things, you know, and that for me, was so you always have been so instrumental and helping me have hope that they are were good people in that system, and good people who would also fight for community and stand with community and and take risks and and i every opportunity that I get to say that because I know I've told you this over the years, but I'm gonna say at every opportunity I get, because you have been a real one. And just like we talked about the things that go wrong, we need to win, we should. But we also have to uplift those people who have always put themselves on the line to make things right. And so I To this day, I appreciate you. Thank you.

Pastor Melvin Russell :

Well, let us just let me tell it there. First of all, I'm humbled by her words, and God bless you. I always want my work to my work to speak for me, so I'm greatly appreciative of that. I love Baltimore. I love my community. I love the law enforcement agency that I grew up in, and I'm always gonna fight for justice on both sides and try to break that. There should be no more out. I want to get rid of that. us versus them, it should just be us. And we're fighting together as a city. So I will continue to do that. Unfortunately, my service and my style of leadership was no longer welcome. Because I now fight against the system. So, you know, finally someone got in there that strategically was smart enough to figure out how to get me out of there. So I, I'm still fighting on the outside. God bless you for that.

Linda Howard :

Yes. Thank you. Thank you.

DeBorah Ahmed :

Linda, can I ask you them question?

Linda Howard :

Sure.

DeBorah Ahmed :

So Neil, and Melvin and, Neil, I know you haven't really responded to Linda's initial question, but as police officers who I guess the on your own personal as a Darcy, your moral authority. Did you all ever fear for your personal safety for that of your family, being in an environment with people that you knew? Probably hated to want to see you off the planet has no regard for black human existence.

Pastor Melvin Russell :

I spoke a lot. So Neil, I'll let you tackle this one first.

Major Neill Franklin :

So, not for my own safety. I never feared for my safety or the safety of my family. But I did fear for the success of my career. Because as Melvin touched upon behind the scenes, a lot of vindictive happenings behind the scene, not an orchestration to get you either transferred or moved or fired. Because of your speaking out on issues, I do know of one particular detective and you do Melvin goes right in line with what you were saying about speaking out and whistleblowing. And that's Joe crystal. The friend good friend, Detective Joe Chris of Baltimore City, who had to literally leave Baltimore City and go to Florida with his family take his family to Florida because he reported some excessive force by a couple members of the department. And he didn't get the support from the commissioner's office. He didn't get the support from the union. He didn't get the support from from anyone in positions of authority who could make a difference. But long story short, he felt afraid for himself and his family and he left and went to Florida. And they tried to. They tried to say and demonstrate and show and pulling out all the stops that showed he was a bad police officer. He was an incompetent police officer when he in fact wasn't because when he went to Florida, Florida, he ended up on a governor's protection detail. Now does that happen if you're not a good police officer, you know, and doing the Freddie Gray riots, this young detective came back to Baltimore on his own time. I own time to help clean up. And that's the kind of that's the kind of results that you want. But go ahead.

Pastor Melvin Russell :

no, no, you're absolutely right. Joseph is an excellent example of those. And there's a bunch of jokes out there, Joe was probably the one person that you could really point to because it was so publicized. And I told you this day, we still stay in contact. He's like a police son to me that man, if I was ever Commissioner, I bring you back in a heartbeat. I've tried to get him back several times in different administrations, and that stigma, and that fear of getting outside of the box and not being part of the system, even as a commissioner, it still resonates. And so that's a shame. But to answer your question, I've never been fearful. I'm like, I'm like Neil. And I've had contracts on my list. I've literally had contracts in my life on both sides of the fence. I knew the relative and so that's one reason I guess I was concerned but never fearful because I do believe in God. You know, I'm a man of faith. I love guy with all my heart. And I don't think you can you can For many weapons, you could try to come at me all you want. But at the end of the day, I know I got a great project to watch. And so if it happens because he allowed it, but but what I will say to you, I did become really concerned for my African American males in Baltimore City, because I knew what was happening with African American males in Baltimore City. When I say mine, I'm talking about my son, my wife and I got a blended family of eight kids, six of them African American boys, and I seen when they started getting abused by police officers, where I knew a gun was gonna get planted or Joyce was going to get planted and I'm not joking. I knew that was gonna happen. But they were trained from home, and they knew certain things to do and how to how to not talk back and be respectful. And and my oldest son, who looks like a football player and probably enter a bodybuilding contest and come in top three, and he's a he's a judo expert when he got pulled over, or he got pulled and slammed on the back of a car by two inferior white guys. He could have broken both in half. He simply said, while you're doing this, sir, because all he asked was Can I get my car leave not to disturb you and just buy it. And of course, they slammed them down the back of his car. And he simply said, I just want to ask you do you know Melvin Russell? And when they he said that, they said, Well, what do you know about sets my pups, and they turned white as ghosts and let him go? Well, I dealt with them and one of them got fired. The other one got reprimand severely So, so that stuff goes on. But to answer your question, No, I've never been outright fearful. My passion for doing the right thing has always outweighed my fear. I'm never gonna let fear rule.

Major Neill Franklin :

I just wanted to quickly answer your question. And before I do this, I got you know, brother Melvin, I don't get mad at me for this. I'm gonna answer this question. But to say that, first of all, Melvin should have been the police commission, I've been saying this for the past decade. And you know, he should be the one sitting there and headquarters right now directing and leading, leading from the front this police departments. I'll say that now move on to the answer the question Sorry, no, and do that. Let me just say that the police policing history in this country, it's never been for the benefit of black people. All right, we the policing model that we currently have came out of slave patrols in the south. It came out of protecting the property of the wealthy and the North. It was never been a benefit for the black people. So I just quickly say we need a new policing model in this country. When we when we talk about racism within policing and how it affects the community. First of all, internally, if we can't settle the racism internally in police departments, we're police that were still suing police departments because of the disparity in promotions, disparity and assignments disparity in how discipline is handed out to black police officers. Within our departments, we're never going to get it right in the streets. The unions, when I say unions, I'm talking about the fop from coast to coast in this country, the union that is the reservoir of racism in American police. All right, that's they hold on to the structural racism within policing, they hold on to that culture and attitude that's been handed down from their families, their grandpappy. And, and great grandpappy in policing. Again, relative to that policing history, I was talking about where it came from. And the unions have to be dealt with. We also didn't talk about structural racism as it relates to public policy tied to policing such as the war on drugs and drug prohibition policies, that the whole thing of the war on drugs was about social control of black folks and brown folks from Mexico never had anything to do with health. None whatsoever. So you know, again, you know, for for the for the listeners and viewers of this webinar, the irisa History as relates to that piece of public policy and other pieces of public policy out there that are directly related to structural racism, institutional racism tied directly to our criminal justice system. And we need to know about this so that when we do move forward, we know not only what policy to put in place, what policy to get rid of and fight very hard to get rid of.

Linda Howard :

I'm gonna ask that Dr. Lewis to jump in, because to talk a little bit about the the policy issues that some of the policy issues that were raised.

Dr. Charles Lewis :

Okay, it's very interesting. Listen, I'll start by saying one example of institutionalized racism that I think is as critical is the failure of this country to educate black people. Okay, and it goes back to slavery, like you said, When it was, when it was a crime or, you know, egregious to teach African Africans to read, okay, and that and that still persist in terms of institutionalized racism, because of the way public education is financed, right, primarily through property taxes. So you're never going to have a equal system. I'll just leave that. Now going back to policy. So from my from listening to the conversation so far, it's obvious that the police have a lot of work to do in terms of dealing with their culture. All right, and that's an eternal thing as a major Well said, because there's 18,000 different police departments and and it's no blanket way to deal with that. So each of them are going to have to deal with it on its own. However, there are some things we can do. All right to make change. And so going back to that question, Is this time different? So the only way we're going to notice whether or not this time is different is if we can make it different, if you know, and that and that means we have to go to the polls. I the only reason number 45 is in the White House, because not enough black people in Detroit. And Philadelphia, went to the polls. Now, I'm not blaming people for not going to the polls, because they probably didn't have a clue who this guy was. But I was from New York, and I knew that he was going to be a basket case. So I'm not surprised. Now we do know. So there's no excuse in November. If we don't go to the polls, young people that get out module they want. They better get to the polls. I so One more one last thing I'll say. So I was I was late getting his destiny because I was on the phone with Christopher Holland's office. Okay, working on a some kind of response to what's going on. So, two ways so I use most of my workers in Congress. So we've noticed Karen bass introduced a bill earlier this week that will try to hold police accountable for one example. Ban the choke hold while the federal government can't ban the chokehold, because that's an individual decision from the police departments. However, they can hold funding for those departments who do not bend a chokehold on another issue is, is it and I think that brother Neil and rather Melvin could could put a weigh in on this is that many police departments are complain because they have to do quote unquote social work. Alright, so that that a lot of the work that they do is not law enforcement. But they have to handle often call to some issues to deal with social work. So one of the things we were doing today was coming up with a system where a 911 calls would not would be redirected to a community entity that would respond with the proper response. So if it's if it's a domestic violence issue, if it's a mentally, mentally mental health issue, then you send social workers, even, you know, with the police, and this has been done. This has been done around the country. And we're going to have a briefing in July, when we're going to bring some people who do this work to talk about what are the best practices for communities to move some of that Non law enforcement went to different places.

Justin Hodge :

I want to say in there about partnerships between the police and social workers. So here in Washington County, our Sheriff's Office partners really closely with our community mental health, and in terms of training that our deputies receive, and they receive trainings on mental health, first aid, de escalation trainings, and frequently they will go out if there's a call for service, they will go out with a social worker, and we were having a large conversation about how do we move forward, or we need to do to move forward? Like I said, we need to take a look at the vast number of police departments across the country, and we need local change. I mean, so with all the protests once the protests start to die down, I mean, we need to galvanize the people and then focus those efforts on making these local changes. And what kinds of changes do we need in your city police departments in your county police departments? I mean, do we need to look at policies that will push for community policing, so we have officers that police areas and where they live So we don't have people coming in to please others. And then what do we do about mental health for officers because we know that trauma will affect police officers as well. And that certainly affects the way that they do their jobs and how they respond to things.

Adar Ayira :

When we're talking policy, can we also acknowledge that with policy comes resources, and if we're, you know, policy alone, policy is a great thing. But resources drives everything too. And so when we're talking about giving more resources, so or resources so that there is a policy, social worker partnership, we're talking resources, if we're talking about defunding police and the way that I understand it is diverting some of those resources to front end programs that will keep our you know, young people out of the system then and that will increase the viability of our vulnerable community. Have these, that's a resource issue. We've got the resources, what we often do not have is the societal understanding or will, nor do we have the political will for it. And those are things that go with a ballot box and with a vote. But that's not the only thing. You know that the vote will not just get you that. And when we're talking about voting who votes and who doesn't. If we're talking about that, we cannot just talk about people not coming out to the polls, we have to talk about which which polling areas get resources right? You go in 10 minutes, five minutes, and vote as opposed to waiting for three hours to vote. Because they did the 2016 election was the first presidential election since the Voting Rights Act was gutted. When we talk about who voted who didn't? What communities, what didn't, we never mentioned that piece. And that was a policy violence piece that when we talk about violence we do not talk about, we have to restructure our conversation that is just as important as everything else that we're doing.

Linda Howard :

You know, I'm now appealing to all of you to give me some advice here. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been getting a lot of phone calls since this happened from people saying, Okay, what can I do? And I know last week on the calls, you know, I mentioned I do, you know, compliance and ethics works, but my training is as a lawyer, I graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1986 Law School. Last week, I had four of my law school classmates attended the session. I know there's Lisa One or two of them that's on the that's on the broadcast today. I've had another call from a woman who's a lawyer who's a compliance officer. And she said to me, tell me what can I do as a privileged white woman to help. I'm also a part of the national wellness Institute. And we just put out a statement from the president of the board, a national wellness Institute, and we put out a statement, asking wellness professionals basically to take a pledge to say that they are going to help effectuate change. So now that we're talking about all of these things that you know we need to do and where we can have some impact. What do we say? What do I say when I get those calls from my colleagues, or compliance officers who are wellness professionals who are lawyers to say, Linda guide me, what can I do?

DeBorah Ahmed :

Okay, I'm a king I have a real basic response. And you all forgive me if you think that it's silly. There is a saying that is, you Be the change you seek. So the first place that has to, you have to begin is with yourself, which means looking yourself in the mirror. And be very honest and identifying how it is that you personally, I'm gonna make this personal. How am I personally contributing to the problems? What am I doing? And I think it's from that point, there real change begins to occur, because institutional, whatever, systemic, whatever, cannot occur without human energy, which is human beings, the human mind, creating it. So what my exists within that human being the causes them to create, perpetuate, instill, impose acts upon other people, that the humanized them what exists within my mind, I'm making this personal, the causes me to participate in that act. So I really believe that you must be the change that you seek, which means you got to have a real honest conversation with yourself now, do human beings have the ability to do that? I don't know why I have the ability to do that most of the time, because we'd like to fool ourselves to. We'd like to create excuses for who we are and what it is that we do. Instead of seeking out the highest side of who we are our own personal goddess and our personal god.

Linda Howard :

DeBorah that makes me think about the statement that brother, Latif Rashid, who was one of our Profound Conversations last week ended us with the profound conversation by saying which is from the Quran, "I will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." Hmm. And so what I what I heard you saying is that, you know, we got a lot of work to do within ourselves. And that is one of the first pieces of advice when we get that call, what can I do is to employ on people to start to make the change within themselves. So thank you for that. And I know someone else wants to jump in here. I can see the look on your faces.

Adar Ayira :

I'm trying to give other people room to. . .

Major Neill Franklin :

I'll just say something real quick, again that we need a new policing paradigm, a new policing model in this country because the one that we currently have wasn't never designed for black folks wasn't for our benefit. Let me put it that way. It was designed for us, but not for our benefit. And I'll just comment real quickly on what Camden New Jersey did, they they literally fired their police department and restructured it. Right now the new police departments don't quite well, but I fear it reverting back to some of the days of old, they were able to effectively eliminate the union in doing that and these what has resurfaced as the union. At least it is a collection of more of a more diverse group of members of the police department versus a predominately white organization. And also they don't have the political power that they had with the old police department. And it gave them a chance to filter out the problem police officers because when they rebuilt the police department, everyone, including the chief had to reapply, and if there was baggage, they weren't allowed back on when the police force gave them that opportunity, hopefully, if they have policies and, and things in place as they hire new officers and make sure they're hiring the best, using the right instruments and evaluating those officers, and then making sure that management as it is now maintains that very high level of integrity and ensuring that these police officers are doing what they should and interacting with the citizens. And again, we just have to limit the police and the responsibilities that we give them. You know, such as police should not be involved in civil processes, levying civil fines on people and so on. Bottom line is the police should be protecting people from other people not involved in many of the things that we currently have them involved in.

Linda Howard :

We're gonna take a couple of questions. I know we're close to nowhere close to. We're close to the end I've been I've been weaving in some of the questions that I've seen come through the through the chat, but I want to open it up on I'm not sure if Karim or Erika is going to help us with the question. So I will turn it over to one of you can kind of jump in.

Erika Christie :

All right. Yes, I do have a question. And it is actually directed towards Dr. Lewis. So the question is, well, it starts out a 'statement that Reverend Al Sharpton made recently at one of the services for George Floyd, "get your knee off our necks" comes to mind when I asked this question. A young African American male at the age of 17 years old is charged with a felony. Today in his 40s. This charge continues to appear and is brought up each time that he attempts to advance at his place of employment. Any advice or resources?'

Dr. Charles Lewis :

Okay, and this, this goes back to my earlier, our government matters. Laws matter. Some voting matters. Okay. Going back to the second chance act that Danny Davis had got passed off years ago, I think it was around 2008. There was a there was a provision in that law that would, where felons could have their records expunged after five years, okay, but it was one senator who refused to go along so they took it out of the bill. But That's the kind of thing that we need, you know, we need to have on our books.

Linda Howard :

I just want to acknowledge because we are close to close to 230. And I know one of our panelists did have to depart already. And that was Russell. And I think Neill also has a hard stop at 230. So I just want to thank thank him for joining us. And if the rest of us have a few more minutes, maybe we can field a couple of more questions. If anyone has to jump off. Just know that this is being recorded, and you can catch the podcast audio or you can catch catch the video.

Major Neill Franklin :

Thanks, everyone. Great panel. Thank you for the invite.

Linda Howard :

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Erika Christie :

Next question, 'the hate that has created hate has created an environment where we are guarded around our own people. Does self hate contribute to the blank check given to law enforcement.'

DeBorah Ahmed :

I like to respond to that. Yes. And no. I'm gonna deal with the no part first. We did not end up we are the descendants of people who did not buy a ticket on a boat. Come over here. You're not asked to come over here. Now, if you go into some ancient ancient history, have Africans been traveling to this part of the world for eons. Yes, we have been. But on this most recent journey that brought us here some 400 years ago. No, we didn't ask to come. We are here as a direct result of Europeans coming into the continent and stealing us. And it's Americans that participated. Yeah, there were a few along the coast there were but for the most part Africans were not participants in iron slaves we were the victims of it. So now we're gonna do with the hate that hate produce on the no side on the yes side when you do not love self you can become a tacit and an active participant in someone else. Being able to infiltrate and take because divide and conquer is real. So when you don't love self it is damn near impossible to love. Anybody who looks like you who sounds like you dresses like you talks like you. It really is. So, you know, it's like, okay, they do that to each other and we hear why people say this all the time. They kill each other, but doesn't make a call each other nigga. We can't call them nigga. So, yes, we can be participants in it. But there's an aspect of it, we have nothing to do with hatred. And you know, sometimes I wonder if it's even hatred, because there has to be a lack of love that people who want to be human as other people have even for them, selves that they don't see a relationship to other members of the human family, that they don't see the commonalities between themselves and other members of the human family. They don't see the necessity to take care of a great mother, the Mother Earth, that if we don't take care of her, she is not gonna take care of us. In fact, she's gonna rip your hair back on us. So I think that there is a relationship there.

Adar Ayira :

And if I can jump in, you know, oftentimes, we talk about things From the Personal as opposed to be institutional. So when we talk about the, you know, relationship between community and police, right, or race relations, we take the components of power out of it. So if we're talking about hate producing hate, I, we can talk about internalized oppression, we can talk about the way in which black folk are receive and inculcate the messages about who we are what we are our role and status in society, through the white gaze. That's something that we grow up with until we decolonize our mind, but talking about hate versus hate black people in this society have been awfully forgiving. We forgive our murderers, we forget about repressors we do not operate in the same way that that people with power in this country have operated so the hate versus hate paradigm is Not even one that is historically correct, number one. Number two, when we're talking about policing, and we're talking about forms of institutional violence, for us to talk about it as if it were an interpersonal relationship, and not a relationship of power does a great disservice to what really is going on. It basically is a deflection that allows the circumstances to continue, and that power element to continue, because then we get distracted because we're caught up in talking about the individuals involved, then in talking about the the, the structures and the systems that support the power dynamic and the ways in which it falls in equitably on vulnerable people. So I just want to put that out there. So that we can think about that with the question, because maybe if we thought about it from that way, the question would be refrained to acknowledge that

DeBorah Ahmed :

Some of you all saw me just, you know, raise a book. I wasn't trying to be facetious or anything but the man who found a better family life Malik Ahmed wrote a book recently called "from the projects to the pyramids in search of a better family life." And in the journey of his own personal life, he captured so much of what we've been talking about in this conversation. today. He witnessed it, he saw how the systems of government from the FBI to the Drug Enforcement Agency to African Americans just being unjustly locked up to the riots in New York, how those things got us to where we are today. It was just published last year, so I would just encourage the participants, the audience participants to get a copy of it and read it because it has. It has helped frame for me the conversation that we're having. Right now, I just want to say the name of the book against cost from the projects to the pyramids, search of a better family life and it is available on Amazon and this is what it looks like right here.

Adar Ayira :

Linda, may I go back to your last question about what people can do? Um, so just very practically, for people who are white, find a showing up search showing up for racial justice. Find a chapter near you so that you will have a safe space to explore what being white means in society. Oftentimes, as a facilitator, I hear white people say, but I'll never understand what it is to be black. I'll never understand what black people go through. You don't have to understand what it is to be white. Mm hmm. And understand what the currency of your whiteness, and what that gets you and your family, explore that and understand the day to day operationalization of that. And then you can figure out how you want to use your privilege to disrupt because you can't get it back. It's no sense of feeling guilty about it. Figure out how to use it as a tool for disrupting the the racialized dynamics of our society. For everybody, regardless of race, understand the history of this country, not the mythology of this country, the history of this country. There are so many good books out there to read, go to Google Baltimore, racial justice action and go on that website and you will see such a reading Less, because we are inculcated into American mythology of land of the free home of the brave. The police system is good as opposed to coming out of the slave Patty rollers system, understand the history so that you can know how to disrupt. And then finally, throw your bucket down where you stand as what Booker T Washington. .

DeBorah Ahmed :

Booker T Washington Yes.

Adar Ayira :

And as he said, and that means, you know, do the work in your own families, do the work in your own institutions. If if there is a high level of risk for you, ask questions. And if you will go on the associated black charities website, you will see a couple of 10 essential questions documents, one for employers, one for workforce, one for policy and one foot philanthropy and there are 10 questions or 20 questions. For you, if you do not know the questions to ask, those brochures are ready made. So wherever you are, within whatever institution with whatever public office you're running for with whatever candidate you want to interrogate, there are questions written out, so that you will be able to at least disrupt in that low risk way. Those are practical things that anybody can do. And if you are wanting to disrupt to create a better country, for all of us and our children and those that we love, at least take the risk to ask a question. So b RJ a or Baltimore racial justice actually website from reading less and associated black charities website. For the tools. It's 10 essential questions, brochures, a tool to help you answer the questions. Wherever you want to practice your privilege, and the disruption of that privilege

Linda Howard :

So I'm going to ask all of our panelists, because I know you all have some great resources. If you can share those resources with Muslim life planning Institute, we will commit to either getting them up on our website or sending them out to the attendees. So please, like after this ends, just do it while you're thinking about it. And we'll commit to getting it out and I see my partner Karim Ali has made his camera visible, which makes me think he's got some closing remarks that he would like to that he would like to give.

Karim Ali :

Thank you, Linda. Yes, a very engaging conversation. And I just want to end with some thanks. First of all, I want to thank our listening audience, those that are still with us on beyond the 230 timeframe, and those that joined us earlier and had to leave. I want to send out some special things to our team, our executive team, or economic development officer on travel Safe travels to Samuel Shareef and his family as they're on the road, winding their way through the countryside. Right now, I want to extend a special thanks to Linda Howard, for an excellent job hosting our programming our executive team has taken on the work to really write this the show every week. And this is an 11th week and it has not been an easy chore. And we're looking forward to next week as well. Special thanks to the Select planning Institute and the network. All affiliates, volunteers and supporters of our organization of the Ilia network of diversify holdings. I want to thank the associated black charities for their contribution to this work, I want to thank a better family life or the national wellness Institute, a think of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work on the crisp organization, Erika Christie, who is much more than an engineer and support person. She's photographer extraordinaire, production expert for any support work that you might need that way please look up Erika Christie, and our lovely communications consultant Khadijah Ali. Thank you all. And we look forward to coming back to you next week with another program. Please we'll be moving back into the space of public health and speaking with some transplant community professionals are regarding that industry in the impact of COVID-19. Linda, thank you so much. And I'll give it back to you to close up.

Linda Howard :

Okay. My closing remarks. "Thank you." This has truly been a profound conversation. And I hope that all of our panelists become participants in the audience for the next week's profound conversation and we have an opportunity to bring you back again as as profound compensation lists and thanks, everyone for tuning who tuned in and we hope to see you again. Thank you.

Adar Ayira :

Thank you all so much.

DeBorah Ahmed :

Yes. And thank you all so much, have a great day. Be safe and stay well.