How Did I Get Here

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Why am I doing this?

You know? Like I was the only black person in my classes, in my neighborhood, on my school bus.

CW: It was really weird, and really isolating, and it made me feel like something was really, really wrong with me. How to deal with white people. How to deal with black people. And yet I had to. The rules of engagement grew much more complex and opaque.

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So many people. So much fear and isolation. So much confusion about how to engage. So, how do we work together? CW: And like when you're in college, and you have to do group projects and you have five people on your team. And one of them is kind of an asshole, and one of them is a little bit of an overachiever, and one of them is co-dependent, and one of them is cool.

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And you have to figure out the whole thing I'm just saying I've been there. And so, you're trying to accomplish something together and CW: I guess the question that I think is one of the most important questions and the one that I don't have an answer to right now is, with all these people trying to figure out something together, can we all do that? Like can this country go forward together? MA: I think if we, I think if we start with our families. I think we have to embrace the diversity within our own families, which I think becomes a school for embracing the diversity within our communities.

But you know, there's people who are not accepted within their own homes, you know, children, wives. And I don't know if you can have If you can have some degree of toxicity within your own home and expect to step out into the world and not handle the world in a less, in a more impersonal way than how you do with things within your own home.

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And I think that we have to listen to our partners and our mates and our loved ones in a way, with an openness and we have to teach it. We have to teach it to our children because they go off to school and they either practice supporting each other or in some ways, oppressing each other or bullying. And these things, these people grow up to be adults and they carry out those same things and those same habits, but MA: And it sounds corny. It sounds trite, but I think we have to do a much better job of listening to each other. And when you talk about larger groups of people, when you talk about Jews and Muslims or, you know, Democrats and Republicans, or whatever, like anyone, we have to CW: And so, how do you teach your daughter for example, to recognize the humanity of people who don't validate her right to be a human being?

CW: Right?

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Like this is something that my kids and I are really in this, because my son, for example, this summer went to travel with…. EW: When you saw a white person, it was like an occasion. CW: Then he spent a week with his mother's parents, his mother is white, with his mother's parents in Florida. There are people who I see flags, I see hats, I see T-shirts, I see bumper stickers of people who I know may have on some level like either CW: How do I see the humanity in those people?

Like how do I? Or am I just turning myself into a sitting duck, if I don't? And I'm paraphrasing his words, but he's getting into a central philosophical question. CW: Like how, you know, like how do you do that? What gives you the strength to do that or the clarity? And, more importantly, how do you pass that on to your kid?

CW: Cause no one wants to be the first person out there being But I think that you can teach your child to be very conscious of how they behave around police, but also teach them that there are good police officers, you know? And I think you could teach them that there are ones who definitely abuse their power. Like obviously, I've experienced it. I know, I have friends who've experienced it, but I think it would be unwise to teach your child that every cop out there is potentially going to do you harm.

But I do think you have to build in that awareness. And so, I think in some ways that is to say, and if you look at you know, what you mentioned, if you could see someone with a "Make American Great Again" hat … and that hat for a black person begins to become synonymous with the Confederate flag.

MA: And a Confederate flag begins And so the challenge, I think for me is to teach my child, who is a woman at that, a young… a girl, is to really emphasize her thinking of herself as just as good, as equal, as… and prepare her to be that. As a black man, I don't want to get lumped into the stereotypes of black culture.

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MA: And you want to be able to be looked at as an individual. That's true for Muslims. That's true for, you know, everyone. And so, I think I would try to teach and try to live in a way that is, that's sort of embodies that example of really first embracing someone as an individual, and if they give me a reason to think less of them, then allow them to give me that reason.

But I'm going to first step to a person, treating them with kindness and respect. CW: What is America's problem? You know what? Let's put America on the couch, do a therapy session. Tell me about your childhood, America. But then you can't figure out why you can't stay in a healthy relationship, or why you keep dating assholes. CW: Imagine, like I said, America is on the couch. America is willing to receive advice. America has finally admitted powerlessness over its own ridiculousness and is like, "Mahersh, help us out. Tell us CW: Yeah. We're infighting, we don't know what are path Things are crazy.

Everything is falling apart. What advice do you have for us?

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What should we do? MA: I think we have to do work in our own lives. CW: Yeah, I know.

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Like I was, like you know I had to like center myself and then I came in and it was late and there was like some crazy traffic stuff. And so while we were getting hooked up, I decided to try and center myself, to put my head down and do a prayer, and invite some kind of calmness I went to prayer that I always go to, which is the prayer of St. Have you ever heard this one? CW: Here's how it goes. So it goes: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, let me bring pardon. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.

Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring light.

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  6. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. I ask that I may not seek to be consoled, so much as to console. Not to be understood, but to understand.

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