>> i agre aundrea self: hello everyone, and welcome to a special edition of mid-morning.
Let me first begin by saying thank you to the folks here at starkville community theater for allowing us inside the building, and in this theater to have a very important conversation that we're going to do over the next couple of days.
We're going to be talking about race, how we see each other, how we treat each other, and how we can do better together.
Now, we have got some familiar faces from our community that many of you will know who will begin this first half hour of discussion for today.
We'll have a different group with us tomorrow.
But, let me tell you who's joing us today.
We have two lawmakers, and we have two a very specical midmorning starts right now.
Block-pkg aundrea self: hello everyone, and welcome to mid-morning.
We are again at the starkville community theater in downtown starkville, continuing a discussion that we started yesterday.
We have been talking about race.
How we see each other, how we treat each other and how we can do better together and go forward together better.
We today have assembled a panel from different age groups who will talk to us today about a number of different topics.
We have reverend orlando richmond joing us.
He is the pastor of northside christian church in west point.
He's also an attorney.
Nadia colom is the past executive director of the golden triangle boys & girls club, and a tireless worker for young people in the community.
Leah davis is a recent graduate of ole miss.
She's joing us also, and jason robertson is a starkville native, graduate of starkville high school and a rising sophomore at morehouse college.
Orlando richmond: thank you.
Aundrea self: thank all of you so much for being here.
We appreciate it.
We have been having a discussion and a few of you were here as we talked with law enforcement and with our law makers yesterday and heard some of that discussion.
I want to start with a question that we posed to them, and it is the hashtag that has been sweeping across not just the nation, but the world, and that is black lives matter.
That is the movement, i guess, that we find ourselves in at this moment.
So i'm going to start with you, reverend richmond.
What does black lives matter mean to you?
Orlando richmond: yeah, well, a little bit about the genesis, of course, we saw it really become popularized after the death of michael brown.
It gained momentum at that point and it has become a rallying cry, interestingly enough, not just here in the united states, but amazingly around the world.
There has been a great deal of discussion that this feels different.
It feels different from some of the things that we've experienced in the past.
And to see that rallying cry around the world is important specifically though, the notion that black lives matter simply really puts a spotlight on the issue that we have, and that we've had quite frankly, for 400 years in this country.
It is succinct, it is simple, should be easily understood, but it is not.
It's the subject of a fair amount of controversy, but to me it is a summary statement of what the cause is, and the cause he is black lives matter.
Aundrea self: nadia river richmond already referenced it.
It has become sort of a polarizing term for some, because what you hear now is all lives matter.
So when you hear people say that, what does that say to you?
Nadia colom: well, for me it's really quite simple.
Black lives matters not necessarily more than anyone's, but certainly not less than anyone's.
So when we have it pocketed in this conversation that all lives matters, i think it just takes away from the obvious need to put a focus on a community that right now has been tremendously suffering for like pastor richmond said several generations, centuries now.
So it's about being clear.
Aundrea self: you spent time on your college campus and you've heard the hashtag, you've worked there on the ole miss campus with inclusion and diversity.
So black lives matter.
What does it mean?
Leah davis: for me it's like he said a very simple, clear statement, black lives matter, but it's also the minimum.
We've been here, we've been screaming black lives matter for five years and really for more than that, just in different forms. and it's really time to move forward with that and to show them we do matter, but what more is there?
We're not just these monotone, one dimensional human beings.
Aundrea self: jason, you were asked at the starkville march a week ago to come and talk about your experiences and really what black lives matter means to you.
You're the youngest person on this stage and may not have the life experience, but the hashtag, the movement means something to you too.
Jason robertson: to me, i would say that black lives matter symbolizes the societal intersection of the government and commerce in the united states was built upon a system that values black lives less than it values our white friends and our white neighbors.
I believe that black lives matter, they are important no matter our education, our religion, our sexuality or gender.
Black lives matter, they're important.
Aundrea self: we also have heard reverend richmond, and i want you to talk about this specifically, the issue of systemic racism because it really goes to a lot of the ills that the african- american community feels is a part of their existence.
It is systemic racism.
So what is it and what is it not?
Orlando richmond: yeah, so i understand that systemic racism is one of the most researched terms in the country right now.
People want to know what systemic racism is.
It's also called institutional racism and that helps to understand it.
It means that as a part and parcel of our institutions, racism has been embedded, skin color to the detriment of african-americans has been involved in our political institutions, our economic institutions, our social institutions, and those incredibly important institutions in society because of embedded racism.
Because racism is part and parcel of those incredibly important institutions, it affects everything from education to a mortgage loan.
Aundrea self: people have said that the system is broken, and so this is going to the systemic racism and defining what it means, people have said that the system is broken and needs to be fixed, but there's also the perspective that no, the system is not broken.
The system was designed this way and it's actually working perfectly.
Orlando richmond: no doubt.
Here's the truth, and until we grapple with this, we'll never be able to break this stranglehold.
From the time africans hit the shores of what is now america, there has been marginalization and minimization of the terms we use now, but that's nice.
It has been an incredible journey.
And because there was denial of citizenship, because we were equated with chattel, because of all of those things from the very beginning, this has existed and unfortunately, persisted.
There has been a fair amount of progress down through the years, but everyone is entitled to humane treatment.
That also has to be a part of the solution to this.
Aundrea self: you will hear a lot of people say, "i' not racist," but i is not enough not to be racist.
So leah, i want to ask you, what does it mean to be anti- racist versus i'm not racist?
Leah davis: i think when you say, "i'm not racist, you are avoiding the responsibility that you have in the conversation.
And every white person and people who want to call themselves allies, they have a duty to uphold humanity and to use their privilege in order to protect black lives.
Every white person in our society benefits from a type of privilege.
They also benefit and also have been complicit in the privilege and the oppression of black lives within america.
So when you say, "i'm no racist," you ar avoiding how you have been complicit.
You are avoiding the responsibility and you're not being apologetic and not trying to repair what is broken.
So to be anti-racist is to do the actual work, to find the actual parts of in yourself of what are your implicit bias is.
What are your everyday actions?
You know, look around your... aundrea self: i think every day actions is very important because i think that you have to be strong enough and bold enough, blacks and whites quite frankly, to call it out when you see it around your dinner table or at your church meeting, god forbid, reverend richmond.
You've got to be able to stop people in their tracks, whether you're black or white.
You bring up privilege and i know that nadia has a very interesting perspective about privilege.
Nadia colom: well, sure.
For me, i think that subject of privilege gets a lot of pushback because a lot of people feel like it's just, "i don' understand how i had to pull myself up by my bootstraps just like you."
But think what i'm seeing today is the privilege to choose to stay in your comfort zone.
This is a very uncomfortable topic, very difficult for us to navigate whether it's in our homes, in our churches or in our community groups.
But some people do benefit from the privilege of staying silent on it, and i think it is very difficult to be a trusted ally if you aren't at least allowing the space for a different perspective to be heard.
Nadia colom: i think when it comes to privilege is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's like leah suggested, it's what you do with it.
There's an opportunity we have here now, no matter what institution you are in to acknowledge that, yes, there may be things in parts that i don't understand about our history as a country, but in choosing to be an ally will use my platform to push for progress and push for change and that's what i think we as mississippians, especially have to focus on and utilizing our privilege.
Aundrea self: jason, you're the youngest person up here.
I think your generation and that because i have a lot of family members, cousins, nephews, who are in your age group.
And i think more than any other group, you all accept each other as you are.it appears to be fewer prejudices that you operate under.
Is that a world you can see us all getting around in that mindset?
Jason robertson: yes.
I believe that as our nation gets older, every generation becomes a little bit less conservative, and i just believe that it's good for the country to treat others the way that you want to be treated and not based off of what they look like or their social backgrounds.
Aundrea self: and you see that within your circles.
I mean, you went to a high school that was probably about 50/50, but then you went to a historically black college.
So your perspective i imagine is changing on things or maybe just broadening.
Jason robertson: yes ma'am.
So in high school, i was on the cross country team in sga and in boy scouts.
So a lot of those spaces that i was in, i was the only black kid in that organization, or it was few of us.
So i've learned that you have to find your place and voice your opinions on things, even when it's uncomfortable.
Aundrea self: very good.
So i've heard you mention the word ally, everybody up here has said that.
I think at least once since we've been up here.
At least three of you.
What is a good ally?orlando richmond: here's the deal, i heard say the other day at one of the rallies that this has been the only situation where the victim has been asked to fin for him or herself.
That african-americans have been victimized by this and a great deal of the time.
Not exclusively, we've been asked to, well figure it out, work through it, get over it.
We have to be very clear that white people have to help with this.
People of good conscience have to help with this.
Aundrea self: i've also heard this though, reverend richmond, i keep hearing people say, "i hear you silence.
Your silence is deafening."
Shoul we focus on people who are being silent?
Or should we just embrace those who are joing forces.
I mean, what's your take on that?
Nadia colom: i say we absolutely have to focus on those because going to the point that passwords were made about these institutions that have longstanding issues of racism, many of those that are silent, maybe parts of that institution or represent those institutions and in their silence suppressing the needs of others without even awareness.
I feel like in this one, everybody has a stake in it, whether you want to or not, whether you choose to answer that call or not, if we are able to truly push forward as a state and as a country, we all have to get involved in this conversation and this call to action more than anything.
Aundrea self: leah, don't you think that some people are being silent because... there are some who are silent because they're afraid.
They know the problems exist, but they are afraid of the backlash they may get from their families or their friends or their co-workers.
There are some who are silent because they don't care.
So then how do you deal with that group, when there is a group that just doesn't care?
Leah davis: i personally don't have a lot of sympathy for people who fear the backlash, because i think as a people we have constantly felt backlash.
I think to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation to stand up for the rights of others, it's not a big sacrifice, and it's not a big ask for you to make.
A friend of mine, she's a white ally.
One of my dear friends.
She and i have been talking a lot about what is their role.
She shared an article on facebook the other week, and it laid out repentance and repair for white people.
What does that mean?
Repentance, when you constantly benefit from a situation where you have privilege, you've constantly got to repent.
Leah davis: how do you repair?
That means that you have to get out of the way in order to elevate black people and black voices, and what can you do to aid that?
So i think the uncomfortability, we've been uncomfortable our whole lives and it's time because of institutional racism, everything that are talking about is being uprooted and it's going to be uncomfortable, but we've got to get past that in order to heal.
Aundrea self: we're going to take a break.
When we come back, i think there is a role that every generation has to play here, starting with reverend richmond all the way down the line here.
There's something that everybody can do, black and white.
We'll talk a little bit about that when we come back.
Everybody stay with
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