On Dec. 11, 2019 the Othering & Belonging Institute screened "The Long Shadow" documentary. This video shows a panel discussion following the film screening with filmmaker Frances Causey and Institute Director john a. powell. It was moderated by Tina Sacks. For more information about this event visit https://400years.berkeley.edu/events/dec-11-film-screening-long-shadow.
Tina Sacks: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Tina Sacks, I'm an assistant professor in the School of Social Welfare. I'm going to be moderating the panel. We will have john and Frances come to the stage here and provide a little bit of background on their engagement with the film. This is a panel discussion, so we're going to be having a conversation amongst the three of us and then we'll open it up for questions and answers from the audience in a bit. Frances, I wonder if you could begin by telling us a little bit about what brought you to this work.
Frances Causey: As a child, growing up in the family that I did, things weren't talked about anyway. Nothing was talked about except what you were going to succeed in or do, so, like most people, I think, with a heart in the south, you could tell that something was deeply wrong in the field of race relations. The only thing I had were the people in my life and, as I talk about in the film, these were people that worked for our family.
Frances Causey: Although I rarely went on the other side of the tracks, I went to a white segregated academy, whites only, I could just see little things, little observations. Going to Mississippi, I could see white and black not making eye contact in the Walmart. I relate some of this and our team tried to get me to go into more personal detail in the film, but as a journalist, I really wanted to tell the story that I thought I hadn't seen, the documentary that I hadn't seen.
Frances Causey: It was like, "Why are white people claiming ... Why aren't they claiming this awful history and why is it that African-Americans are left to bear this burden, this cultural and historical trauma?" so it was, as a child, just being incredibly sad and seeing the separation and seeing ... Clearly, it was economic first and foremost, and then I wanted to understand education, employment, housing, the three-legged stool and the American dream, how that was repeatedly denied.
Frances Causey: I could see that and as a child, it really tore through me. I think it's a huge part of why I became a journalist. I went to UNC Chapel Hill and we were among the first southern universities, if not the first southern university, to oppose Apartheid as an institution. It was a lot of things coming together to make the film, but I just couldn't understand why nobody, at least in my world, was talking about it.
Frances Causey: As a child, you're subject to your family and their whims, and so as I got older and developed my skillset, it was a film ... Sally felt the same way; we both talked about it for a long time. john really crystallized for me the angle, the thread, of really going after the southern political power that manifested on a national level, so that was the inspiration I was talking about earlier. Documentaries are like sausage.
Frances Causey: It's having the team that we had and the sensitivity, and it all just came together, but mainly, just these are things that I would cry about.
Tina Sacks: As a child?
Frances Causey: As a child, these are things that I would cry myself to sleep about, and I just recently did a TED Talk called "Behind the Long Shadow," and I did actually talk about Henry, and not Jimmy May, but Henry and Gwen, who are two people that worked for our families and the incidences of racism that I saw around them from my own family, which was always very polite about it, but it was still ... I heard and saw terrible things.
Frances Causey: Of course, I know that my experience of it was at one-millionth, and so I wanted to make a film that ... I know some of the history that's in the movie is probably very familiar to this crowd, but I really wanted to make a film that could play in junior high schools. Of course, I made it for everybody, but I really made it for white people. Either white people who are overtly racist or people that might be willing to look at their unconscious racism. As I think I told Raque, I can die happy now. I made the film that I had to make.
Tina Sacks: Thank you so much for sharing that. I wonder, john, if you could share some reflections about your role in this film or even how you came to know each other, how you came to be involved.
Frances Causey: Yeah.
john a. powell: Well, again, thanks Frances and all of you. In some ways, I think that it's a very interesting question, but it's a question without an ending or beginning. When did you become aware of race in the United States? When did I become aware? It's here, and I'm always shocked when people say they have no consciousness because it's everywhere, and if it wasn't obvious 10 years ago or 20 years ago, we have a white supremacist/white nationalist in the White House.
john a. powell: I'm sure many of you have seen the famous background, Marianne, you've seen a lot of Nativity Scenes where they have the baby Jesus and Mary separated in cages. That's racial. The fact that this country could put today ... That's the other thing that I think is really important about the film and about the discussion, is we're talking about how we live today, about what we're fighting over and struggling over.
john a. powell: One reason I was so delighted the film was made and to be a part of it was struggling over will there be an America. As I said in the film, we are still fighting the Civil War and we're losing, and it's no longer the southern strategy. The southern strategy has become the national strategy, if not the global strategy, and it couldn't be more important. I can't imagine. I literally say to people, and I believe it, that if we don't get this right, we don't get to keep a country and we probably don't get to keep the planet.
john a. powell: This is just how dire this is, and as I said in the film, the heart of it is trying to understand not white people, but the sickness of white ideology and domination. How do we actually address that in a critical way, but also in a loving way? How do we move forward so that we all have a role of mutuality and respect? Now, for some people who are bleeding white nationalism/white dominance, they don't want that.
john a. powell: They've actually said, "I'm not mutual with you. I don't respect you," and in fact, the very fact that you asked him for respect, President Obama, is offensive. The various assumptions that you think you can be president, the very assumption that you think you could be in the White House and not be in the kitchen, Woodrow Wilson would be turning over in his grave. I think this issue is so important.
john a. powell: I think it needs to get out more and we need to think about what do we do with this so that we all have a role in changing it and living it, and so interesting and positive things are happening, but also some very scary things are happening. There's no one thing that I can point to. I could pick out things like my family. My family was part of that great migration from the south. "The Warmth of Other Suns," by Isabel Wilkins.
john a. powell: Just one last thing, I showed my dad's ... Actually, another film, "Race: The Power of Illusion." My dad recently passed at at 99, but when he saw that film, he cried and he said, "I have lived all of that, but I hadn't put it together," and that I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Frances for, because we know it all but you put it together, so thank you.
Tina Sacks: Also, john, I wonder ... I just want to pose another question to you. Recently, a scholar of race, Noel Ignatiev, passed away, and he said, "Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity." I'm just wondering, john, if you could talk a little bit more about the creation of whiteness as an idea and the ways that it's played out in the United States, and you alluded to this just now, but what do you think are the elements of whiteness that we still need to contend with in the US?
john a. powell: Well, it was addressed somewhat in the film, but the idea that, first of all, whiteness was a middle stratum, which I think is important to remember, because if we're really going to address whiteness, it means actually breaking with the corporate elites. It's always about controlling and money, that slavery at one point in history was the largest real estate in the United States, and then another friend of mine, David Roediger, wrote a book called "Wages of Whiteness," playing off of something that W.E.B. Du Bois talked about, the wages of whiteness.
john a. powell: Roediger turned it into a book and he talked about all the things that you were given or promised in relationship to being white. Respect, the right to vote, the stuff that came out of the GI Deal, cheap loans, but also the sense that you are always over someone else, that you could always dominate someone else, that this was your country, notwithstanding when we talk about the Ohlone tribes, or when we talk about Native Americans, or when we talk about ...
john a. powell: When you look at it, the construction of whiteness, and particularly white maleness although, obviously, it's not limited to white males, it's quite amazing and it's quite life denying. It denies our relationship with each other, it denies our relationship with nature, climate change. It denies our responsibility to the world and the solution for all of this anxiety and fear is that you get the feeling that you're better than somebody, you dominate somebody, and you get to carry a gun.
john a. powell: In fact, you better carry your gun, because the world is a scary place and there are a lot of people after your stuff. Here's the tricky part for us, the two parts, I think. To be just candid, my guess is there are not many Trump supporters in here, and if you are, god bless you.
Frances Causey: I'm glad you're here.
john a. powell: For those of us who think of ourselves as left of center, how do we move forward so that we all move together? We haven't done that. On the left, there is a blaming and shaming culture. We had our conference on othering and belonging, and one of my friends, a very prominent Muslim woman, Linda Sarsour, you know her, she made the comment publicly, so I think I could repeat it. She said, "F white women."
john a. powell: She said, "53% of them voted for Trump, and I'm a Muslim woman from Palestine, so F white women." I said, "Linda, I understand your frustration, but those women are not here at the conference." The 47% of women who didn't vote for Trump are the ones which largely came to our conference. I'm not saying there were no Trump supporters there, but I bet you they were in small supply. What I was saying to her is that you can't dismiss all white women for the 53%.
john a. powell: For those who really reject Trump, and not Trump as a person, but for all of the white supremacy, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic stuff that he stands for, those who reject that, I'll say this to you: I don't want you as an ally. This has to be your fight, not as an ally. Your fight. We have to be in this together and it doesn't mean being in it together that we don't have different roles. It doesn't mean you get to come into a group and dominate.
john a. powell: That wouldn't make it your fight either, but how do we move forward? Most of the stuff on the left, as I read, have consigned progressive and liberal whites to a role of allyship, angst with guilt and shame. I'm not saying guilt and shame plays no role, but I'm not that interested in that; I'm interested in moving forward. Moving forward in a positive way and moving forward, really, with love and respect for all life.
john a. powell: That's, I think, what we need to be moving toward, and that I think would actually usher not only a new identity for the country, but more importantly, a new identity for whiteness.
Tina Sacks: Frances, I wonder if you have any response to that.
Frances Causey: Gosh, I do. Just that vibe right there is what's just stunned me about john. Maybe this is a well known story, but I had a friend who knew the Dalai Lama and she was at lunch with him one day. Basically, the gist of the story was that if there was any person on the earth who had reasons to be upset with the Chinese, yet he was showing the Chinese love, and that's the type of leadership that is so instructive and just so measurably helpful.
Frances Causey: It was interesting, as you were speaking, in terms of reception to the film, the film premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2017 so it's been out for a couple of years. I am the one that most frequently gets the reception to the film, good or bad or indifferent, and it's been it's been, now that I've done the TED Talk, it's been very hard to get the film seen. I have the luxury to make the films that I want to make, regardless of editorial bent, and ultimately the buck stops with me.
Frances Causey: I've been very surprised that people have been ... The African-American community has embraced the film. In fact, two African-American women from Illinois approached me and formed the Together Is Better Alliance; they were inspired by the film, they've now formed a nonprofit, and they're taking the film out into the world. It's a coalition of white and black people who understand that we've just got a lot of work left to do.
Frances Causey: Some of the criticism, or the challenge in getting the film seen, is from white people, predominantly liberal white people, who question whether I had the right to even make the film. Yep, some in this community, so I was really surprised by that, but not daunted by it. We just keep pushing to get the film seen wherever we can, and obviously we're pushing for the middle of the country and in the south. The film will be on PBS, I'm happy to say.
Tina Sacks: Congratulations.
Frances Causey: In February, each individual station will decide whether they pick the film up, but KCVR, I think, is LA, San Bernardino, they just picked it up so that's 5% of the country right there. Kelly Clement, the documentary programmer at Mill Valley said to me, "It's one of the most sensitive films ..." I think he said it at the festival, or that he had seen, and it was like, "Wow. When people really get it, they really get it."
Frances Causey: This really is about love and it's about standing up for what you know is right. Even though, again, the south is such a place that's ... Almost, it's hard for me to go back because I purposefully, on my Facebook page, like every one of my high school friends. Inevitably, when I post something about the movie or whatever, nothing. It's getting worse, unfortunately. People are digging in because they feel so threatened in the way that you so beautifully point out in the film.
Frances Causey: One of the most important lines, I think, and you just referred to it again, this idea that the mass psychology that if you are ... I have white people come up to me and say, and I talk about this in the TED Talk, "I'm struggling in this economy." I say to them, "Well, just remember that the color of your skin will never have negative consequences for you in your life." It's this idea that, no matter how much you might be struggling, it's still so prevalent in our society, that you still are above African-Americans, which, of course, I knew not to be true when I was 10.
Frances Causey: As much as I know it to be true now and that it really is about opportunity, and when given opportunity, when there is a level playing field, there's no difference with us anyhow spiritually, but that was one of the reasons I went to Canada and I did the Nomini Hall. I wanted people to show what it could have been like had we not done what we did, had my family not done know what they did. Obviously, things would have turned out very differently.
Tina Sacks: That's really a great segue to how you decided to include Nomini Hall, how you found out about it. If you could just give us a little backstory on that.
Frances Causey: My mind is like a crazy neighborhood, you don't want to go in alone. In terms of how I found that story, I'd been asked that before, and also the story in Canada. I just spend hours searching and searching, and, like the opportunity to interview the great-granddaughter of a slave, which I did in Canada, the fact that Latanya had organized the slave legacy. At my core, I say I'm an accidental activist.
Frances Causey: Really, at my core I'm a journalist and I want to introduce my team, also our team. Let me just finish that and then I want to recognize them, if that's okay. It just jumped off. I jumped out of my chair when I saw it, and Latanya, there was this record as a journalist to have this paper trail. It's one of the reasons I love Dr. Warren's scholarship. He's just one of our nation's most important historians. I just encourage you to read his books.
Frances Causey: Just meticulous research, it was just a revelation to me, and so when I ran across Nomini, I couldn't believe it and it was just delightful. Maureen Gosley is our co-creator and editor. She's here, and Jed Riffe, producer, and then Donald Goldmacher is a ... Where's Donald? Is he gone? There he is. Producer on the film. I think we lost Ashley James, was a cinematographer on the film. It takes all of us. We battled it out in edit about things. They wanted me to be more in the film.
Frances Causey: I know Susie and Sheila and everybody wanted me to be more in the film, and that was the story I had to tell.
Tina Sacks: Also, since you're very upfront in the film about your family's story, the implications of that story, so I wonder if you ... As a country, we are trying to deal with the idea of reparations now.
Frances Causey: Right.
Tina Sacks: I wonder if you have anything to say about that. Your family history and other stories that are in the film reveal structural racism to such a great degree, and I wonder if you have any recommendations or any ideas or anything you would share with us as a country, as we're trying to grapple with the idea of reparations, or as well as to these congressional committees that are also trying to think about that.
Frances Causey: Well, it's a great question, it's a lot there. Yeah, if being lesbian wasn't enough to get me disowned, this pretty much put the nail in the coffin with my southern family. Now, I will leave it to greater minds than mine in terms of what's happening right now in the country. I know there's a House ... It's House Bill 44 in terms of a reparations bill. I didn't talk about it in the film, but of course, we've already done this with Japanese-Americans after World War II.
Frances Causey: Actually, it didn't make it into the film, but I went to Uruguay and interviewed the president, José Mujica, and they have a national policy of reparations there. We did a screening of the film in its earliest stages, and everybody was just insistent that we stay in America, that the problem was so great in America that we shouldn't go to another country, but this is not that difficult. They're doing universal income.
Frances Causey: I think, I don't know if I dreamt this because I wanted it to be true, I know they're doing universal income in communities in Africa, but I think they did one-
Tina Sacks: In Stockton.
Frances Causey: Yeah, right, and also in Alabama. Giving these families $1,000 a month changed their lives, so when you hear negativity about stuff like that, it's just flat out racist, which is another reason I made the film. I got so tired of hearing these same racist tropes over and over again that I knew weren't true, and so in the end, it's a full-time job for me and the team to just promote the film and I think that's how bad the problem is, that people don't ...
Frances Causey: We have had backlash by PBS programmers already in the south, who just come back with this clearly racist ... If you don't like the film, that's one thing. If you don't think it's a good film or they don't like me, how I narrate, that's all fine, but these comments that come back are just so clearly racist and they don't even know it. They don't even recognize it, or if they do, even worse. Promoting the film and really helping people connect the dots of this history and there has been great reception to the film and those communities that are willing to be open about it.
Frances Causey: It's just still so hard to understand how we are going backwards, but the southern strategy is a national strategy and maybe there's a silver lining in that people that were sitting on the sidelines, or people might be willing to question their beliefs; we could debate that, I guess, all afternoon, but just getting the film seen and having the light bulbs go off for people. There was a guy in Arizona who saw the film who's also reading "White Fragility."
Frances Causey: He's going to start teaching a class about it, about "White Fragility," and so that's action. It's time for action, but if you don't understand that there's a problem to begin with, it's because we've put our heads in the sand for so long about it and that it's risen to this level of urgency. I feel a sense of urgency. I felt it since I was six years old.
Tina Sacks: Thank you so much for that. john, I wonder if you have any other insights or things you want to share about the idea of reparations in the context of structural discrimination?
john a. powell: Yes, I do. Like a lot of ideas, reparations is really important. That idea can be framed badly or operationalized badly, or well. We have to be mindful and thoughtful to make sure that we don't take an important idea and allow it to be framed poorly. One thing I want to acknowledge, so the history of slavery and racism and taking of the Native American land is not the history of African people. It's not the history of Native American people.
john a. powell: It's the history of the United States. That's what we're talking about. If you want to study about African people, there's a lot out there. Some gaps with some rich literature. You want to study the history of Native American people, again, there's a rich history out there, a lot of gaps, but it's not about taking their land. That's the history of Europeans, and so when we think of it ... First of all, that's important for a couple of reasons.
john a. powell: The structure of white supremacy and racial hierarchy that's so beautifully demonstrated in the film is something that actually structures America, and it structures America whether you're white, black, Latino, Asian, straight, gay. It's actually talking about the structure and institutions that actually permeate our society, so sometimes we think about ... Thinking about slavery, it's just talking about black people.
john a. powell: Not that that's unimportant, but we're really talking about the US economy, we're talking about capitalism, we're talking about a particular kind of capitalism, not Canadian capitalism, but US capitalism. We're talking about extracting labor from people in a particular way. We're talking about reading people. We're talking about that now as we have a new fight about abortion rights, so these issues actually are so core that, if we actually limit them to just black people, not to erase black people, but we miss how significant it is.
john a. powell: One, in terms of structure in the United States, and two, in terms of structuring this sad identity around whiteness. Reparation, the literal meaning of it, means to repair. In that sense, the whole country needs repairing, the whole country needs healing. Now, I think blacks actually play a particular role in that, but from my perspective, there should be a large discussion, is how do we heal this country?
john a. powell: My sense is we can't heal it unless we address slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, and white supremacy, and white nationalism. I think, in some ways, and some people will disagree with me on this and some people think we have to narrow the discussion, we have to enlarge the discussion. Because what people hear when they hear about reparation, and when I say "people" I'm really talking about white people, they hear they're going to lose something.
john a. powell: They hear you're going to take something from one people to give to another people, and I think we talk about reparations in a broad sense. We're talking about something that actually allows the country to become a place where life is welcome and we can grow. I'll give you a quick example and then ... There's a lot I could say, but I'm mindful of time and you've already heard me in the film. There's a book called "The Race Between Education and Technology," written by two Harvard economists, one of them is a friend.
john a. powell: They argue that, at the beginning of the 20th Century, when the United States brought women into formal education, and they didn't do it perfectly, we still haven't done it perfectly, but when they did that, in a sense, more than any other major country in the world, there was a fight about women taking things from men, taking these scarce resources called higher education, and then they would go off and have children and not use them, that's not what happened.
john a. powell: Some of them did have children, but they still used it. In looking back, economists now say that is what caused the US economy to explode in a positive way, that we were tacking in all of these resources, all of this capacity, all of this spiritual grounding that we had left on the side. If you look at education today, the majority of children starting kindergarten are kids of color. If you look at the workforce today, the majority of people coming to the workforce are people of color.
john a. powell: Of you leave that on the table, if you don't invest in those people, and we're not that, it means we're playing with less than a half a deck and we're playing against each other. The last thing I'll say on this is that any serious researcher will tell you not to focus on a single dimension, whether it's income, whether it's education, whether it's housing. All three of those are important, but they would say we're looking at complex systems that are interactive.
john a. powell: If you were going to focus on a single indicator, which you're not, it would be wealth. The projection is that by 2050, the collective black wealth in the United States will be somewhere between zero and negative, based on all of these structures. An example I give is I'm six of nine, which means there are nine children, I'm number six. Doesn't mean I'm a Bork, for those of you who watch Star Trek.
john a. powell: My father and mother came from the south, they bought a house, and you see the house in some of the films that I've been in. That house is perfect as long as they kept it. I helped my dad buy a new house recently. They bought that house for $11,000. When my dad sold the house, my mother had passed, they sold that house in Detroit for $5,000. That house in the suburbs, and I talked to the Federal Reserve Board about this. Reparations, right?
john a. powell: That house in the suburb would have been worth somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000. Now, that's my family. Now, multiply it by the millions of blacks, again, the person in the film. My family did things by the books. They worked hard, they studied, they tried not to harass white people too much. They were saying that I was doing too much harassment, and what they get out of it is nothing. If they had been white, if they'd been in the suburbs, nothing else, $400,000.
john a. powell: How do we fix that? It's not the past, that's what's happening now, and so reparation for my siblings, it means nothing is passed down in terms of income. That's repeated over and over again. Their white counterparts are thinking that I worked hard and I bought my house and I kept it up. Yeah, you did all that, but you had the government to stand on. You had the banking industry to stand on. You had the zoning industry to stand on.
john a. powell: You had all of these things that were largely either not there for the black community or working against the black community and still working against the black community. It's not that you didn't work hard for what you got, but what you got was something someone else was affirmatively denied. The last thing I'll say is that, to me, the goal is not to simply end discrimination, whatever that is. The goal is to affirmatively promote positive outcomes that we believe in.
john a. powell: Not to say to stop discrimination, because it's too complex, and as you know, here in the Bay Area, we're fighting some of these battles right now. The Moran schools, there was just an order for them to desegregate, not even integrate, to desegregate. The good folks of Moran, meaning many upper-middle class white folks are saying, "We're liberal, but we don't want to integrate. We don't want to desegregate, not even integrate. Let the black kids stay where they are."
john a. powell: Where they won't get quality teachers, where they won't get a good education, where they won't be able to go to college. That's in liberal Bay Area today so, yes, we need to have a much longer discussion. It needs to be in high schools and colleges, and when you think about how do we get to a place where we all can fully participate, all can believe the law, all can be fully respected, and build a world and society for all of us.
Tina Sacks: Just before we open it to the audience for questions or comments, I wonder if either of you have any closing remarks. john, that was a pretty good one, I have to say. Frances or john, do you have anything else in closing you'd like to share?
Frances Causey: No, I think if you just help us with getting the word out about the film, we're at TheLongShadow.com, and we're on Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, and iTunes, and encourage, I guess, KQED here to pick up the film. They know that it's going to be uplinked on January 18th, and also if you wouldn't mind going to TED.com and liking ... If you don't like it, don't like it, but watching my TED talk, because that's a platform on the internet that it's hard for us to reach, so we really want to leverage that. Thank you very much for the great questions and the homework and everything.
Tina Sacks: Thank you so much. I'd like to open to the audience if people have questions. Boy, a lot of questions. Okay, so the first person I saw was here, and then I'll get ...
Speaker 4: You talked about reaction of your family and your community a little bit. Could you expand on that? Is there any hope that they'll see the film and create a dialogue there?
Frances Causey: They've seen it. Yeah, no, my family has seen it and while they love and support me, it's just a bridge too far. My parents are in their 80s, and my dad came back and he wanted me to include ... He's a real military, war buff, a military war guy, and so he wanted me to come back and show all the great things that all the Pendletons did in Virginia. One guy was Stonewall Jackson's lieutenant and he was a terrible racist.
Frances Causey: He developed a thick skin about it. My dad came to see the film, I think my uncle watched it, but it's the family dynamics. I told the family secrets, and I think that was as offensive to them as the other stuff. I think it opened my dad's eyes in some ways, I think. He expressed support and that, "How could we have done that?" I never thought I would've heard that come out of his mouth, "How could we have done this as a nation?" and that kind of stuff.
Frances Causey: In terms of the south, boy, it's a bigger pay grade than I've got to diagnose. It's hardened, it's hardwired, and these beliefs are hardwired and we know a little bit about psychology. Beliefs do get hardwired into your brain, and then this guy comes along, Trump, and he's saying for the first time what everybody's thinking and then it becomes acceptable and somehow legitimized, but we'll keep trying.
Frances Causey: That's the great thing about film, and we're having success. I don't mean to say that we haven't, because we have, but we're going to keep plugging. That's the great thing about film, it's there forever. Our film, "Heist: Who Stole the American Dream," we hear all the time about "Heist." People are watching that film and looking at economic injustice, so we have a long-term game plan to keep the film out there.
Tina Sacks: Thank you.
john a. powell: Let me just respond to this quickly. I know I have a couple of friends here who are filmmakers as well. Here's a film that I think, Frances, you might want to make, or you might want to make, and I'm suddenly being tongue in cheek but only partially. There's a film, an old film, called "The Good Doctors," and it's about doctors in Germany and you get to know them. They're all men, they're decent people.
john a. powell: Jews come to them and they fix them up in the daytime, and at night they go to the gas chambers and kill them. It's actually a complicated thing, so they're not just bad people. They're also good people, and I think sometimes we get into this binary, "Is this a good person or bad person?" as opposed to "It's a complicated person that's structured and organized to do terrible things." Someone might make a film called "The Good Racist."
john a. powell: There really are people who think of themselves as good, who are genuinely racist, and it's one of the things that ... Whatever, it's like, "How could they be a good racist?" but anyway, so I think one of the reasons people reject embracing the idea that racism or Nazism is that they think it means there's nothing redeeming in their being. If you're saying, "You're totally a bad, evil person through and through," I can't accept that. I can't accept that of myself.
john a. powell: If you say, "You did some terrible things and let's look at those," but also you should dare to say, "What about the good things that Stonewall Jackson's lieutenant did?" I have no doubt he did do some good things.
Frances Causey: Right.
Tina Sacks: That's right.
Speaker 4: Thank you.
Speaker 5: My name is Lois Carn. I live in Piedmont. We have a film series, it's free. So I wanted to talk to you about that, at some point. I'm so sorry about your dad. I feel like I know him from seeing all the films, and you and Dr. Herd, UC Berkeley is a fine public institution it is, is making this be a never forget arrangement. I am so appreciative of all the programs, so thank you very much.
john a. powell: Thank you.
Tina Sacks: I think you and then you.
Speaker 6: When you touched about the south with the PBS stations, did they explain to say, they weren't receiving your idea because they were just ... "We can't play this" or "Are you out of your mind?"
Frances Causey: Right, yeah. The one was from ... My folks live in Jackson, Tennessee, and so our station wrangler, I said, "Please reach out to the Memphis market," I think it's WBNO or KNO, something like that, and and maybe Jed can tell me because I think he got the e-mail, too. Basically what the station wrangler does is they send out the first five minutes and they watch, and I think her comments were something to the effect of, "It's all about her, I didn't see her reference her family."
Frances Causey: She clearly had only watched the first five minutes just the five minutes that she sent, and just lock, stock, and barrel discounted it, but then another one in Mississippi said, "Well, my viewers ..." What did he say? This was a theater owner, actually. He said, "My white audience has moved on from that, and the black people don't care anymore." I'm sure there'll be more forthcoming, but it's just ...
Frances Causey: We also were told by the station wrangler that all this PBS programming is very closely monitored for being too far left, and so our wrangler sent us ... She said, "Honestly, it'll probably do very well on the coasts, but the middle of the country and the south, you'll have a hard time." We've had a station in Mississippi pick it up, and we're just getting going so it's very limited, but it wasn't surprising what we heard back.
Frances Causey: There are some people out there that have the courage, and who will have the courage, I think, to show the film.
Speaker 7: Hi. I'm an early supporter of the film. I loved it, watching it again.
Frances Causey: Thank you.
Speaker 7: I was struck by the film saying that, in the 1970s and '80s, overt public racism had to go underground a little bit, and of course now we see that it's coming back out from being underground, which is very unfortunate. You talked about repairing needs, resources. The greatest amount of resources that was expropriated in the history of the United States was in 1865 when all these four million pieces of property became people and were removed.
Speaker 7: We need that kind of expropriation again in order to have the resources to repair, so I think we need to expropriate tons of resources from the capitalists and the wealthy people who have it in order to have that kind of repair. In order to do that, we need to reach a whole lot of white people who's going to vote, who still are engaged, and so I urge everybody to reach out to your friends and neighbors all around the country, tell them about the TED Talk.
Speaker 7: Tell them that it's going to be on PBS in February, reach out to PBS stations all around the country and to white politicians that you know, or have some contact with, to tell them about the film. Thank you, Frances.
Frances Causey: Thank you very much. Nice to see you again.
Tina Sacks: Who else? You and then you.
Frances Causey: Yeah. I believe southern slave owners were compensated for their loss, I believe, weren't they? Am I correct there? Yeah, for the loss of their slaves.
Tina Sacks: That's really deep. I just have to say that.
Frances Causey: Yeah.
Speaker 8: They actually had to use the entire fortune of the English government, or Great Britain. For two years, they had to split it and pay half of it to the slave owners and the other half they used to operate.
Frances Causey: Right.
Speaker 9: Okay, so I have a couple of points I'd like to make. Thank you for your film. I'm a retired journalist of 23 years, so I understand the tension of aligning the story and then having ... You're not supposed to be the stories.
Frances Causey: Right, thank you. Anytime you're the store, there is no story.
Speaker 9: Yeah, you're there and supposed to be the story.
Frances Causey: Right.
Speaker 9: This is a new time, so I appreciate you putting enough of yourself in there, but I just wanted to say that. One thing that's creeping into the lexicon right now that people should absolutely be aware of is, because the language is so important, the term "forced busing." I was a reporter in Wilmington, Delaware in the early 1970s, it was my first newspaper reporting job. I actually worked at the New York Times for one year as a clerical person and wrote the first paper then.
Speaker 9: Busing in Delaware was a huge issue. Delaware, most people don't know, during slavery time was half slave and half free, half slavery, half free. There's three counties. The Mason-Dixon Line cuts through the middle of the state, more or less. Above the Mason-Dixon line, free; below the Mason-Dixon Line, slaves, which makes for a schizophrenic state when it comes to slavery. I became aware as a young reporter that the terminology of my stories was getting really looked at super hard.
Speaker 9: I didn't quite understand why, because I'm a New Yorker. That's not where I'm from. My problem was that they tended to use forced busing and my brain said, "It was legislated." Anything that's legislated by law, why would you substitute the word "forced"? That's when I started seeing that term "forced busing." Why am I talking about this now? Because there's been a lot of discussion about Joe Biden running for president, who is from Delaware.
Speaker 9: It's been revealed that he played ball with white segregationists, big time. As a young reporter in Delaware, I covered an event where I saw him talk one way to an all black audience in a black housing project in Wilmington. It was at night. Earlier that day, talked very differently on a racial issue, black and white, and gave a report on it. Okay, so forced busing. This was a mainstream newspaper article I just read this week, because they're getting into it now.
Speaker 9: They're going to get deeper into Biden. I don't hate Biden, but as a young reporter, that was the first example of huge hypocrisy that I'd ever seen. I never forgot that because when people cold switch, it's very interesting. Say one thing to black folks, another thing for non-blacks. I wanted people to be on the lookout for the terminology that's in the paper. There was one other thing. Why did we think all the racism that this country was built on disappeared like that?
Speaker 9: If you know history, when Nat King Cole had a nationally shown TV show, it was not shown in the deep south. Why? Because TV sponsors wouldn't support it, no ads, but also white husbands said, "I don't want that nigger singing love songs to my wife in my living room." This is on record, you can find this. The other thing is general movies of the time, back in the day, had scenes that could be cut when they were shown in the south.
Speaker 9: Lena Horne wouldn't be shown, beautiful as she was, singing because white southerners didn't want to see that. Let's fast forward to the wranglers at PBS. What's the connection? I just wonder why do we think all that stuff just ran away? It just didn't, it just went underground, and Donald Trump pulled the lid. It's like pulling the scalp off your head and exposing all those nerves and veins and blood.
Tina Sacks: Thank you so much for your comments. Very well taken. I saw there were others. I just wanted to give a chance to others in the audience.
Speaker 10: Professor Powell, I deeply admire you and who you are. Really curious, and I'm going to ask you a personal question. If you don't want to answer it, I fully accept that, but how have you become the beautiful person you are within our horrible system of institutionalized racism?
john a. powell: Well, thank you for the question and the comment. I'll tell you a quick story. I had one of these unusual educational journeys, so I went to all these schools like Stanford and Yale and Berkeley, and my family were from the south. My parents were sharecroppers and, like I said, I'm six of nine so more than once a reporter would come to me and it's like, "Explain yourself. The rest of your family looks like deadbeats, or at least they didn't go on to college, and look at you. You've done all these incredible things, so you're exceptional."
john a. powell: My response has always been some version of this, "Do you know about sea turtles?" He said, "No, I don't know about sea turtles." Tens of thousands of sea turtles are laid on the beach, and when they hatch, the seagulls are there in wait. Thousands of seagulls waiting for the sea turtles to hatch, and when the sea turtles hatch, they start running to the ocean and about 99 out of 100 don't make it.
john a. powell: The seagulls get ... Not one makes it, and to some extent, I'm that one. I'd be a fool to think the reason I got to the ocean was because of something about me, that I had a special move. That seagull is coming to me, it's like, "No, you don't." All the 99 that die contributed to my getting to the ocean, so I look at my family and the people around me. If I am anything special it's because they gave me something special.
john a. powell: Some of you know, I talk often about my family, and most recently about my dad, and I was saying to Marianne recently that he just died about a week or so ago. He hit his head and died. It's still hard, I'm processing it, but I think on part of his life to live, to continue to live, to continue the legacy. I think that's true for all of us. That we have anything really good and really beautiful is because we have a circle of people around us that's caring and loving, so thank you for your question.
Speaker 11: Thanks for your presentation. I've been a long-time activist and most of my friends are very radical or ultra-left, but I had this one person I know that I didn't really know his politics and his opinions for a while, and he's extremely intelligent. He's very helpful, supportive. I was sick for a while and he was very helpful, but then I found out it was a Trump supporter. Then I found out he's very racist.
Speaker 11: He blames all the problems of society on the minorities, so I think to myself, "Why am I continuing to be friends with this person? If my friends knew his politics, they would think I was crazy." However, like I said, he's been very helpful and done some good things, so I've invited to gatherings with my friends, and I told him, "Remember, they're very anti-Trump, so to be careful." A couple weeks ago, I had a big party, and he came, and he and his girlfriend set through it.
Speaker 11: I saw them listening to other people's conversations, there were about 40 people, and they left after about two-thirds of the party, but I can see the little cracks, little openings, when I deal with him. We've played tennis together, and some other things. He's not one of my best friends, but he's a friend and I see that he's opening up a little bit. He said a few negative things about Trump, so I guess I'm feeling ...
Frances Causey: Optimistic.
Speaker 11: I'm questioning ... I guess I'm feeling guilty about being his friend, but then again, I'm thinking maybe it can do some good.
Tina Sacks: Do you have a question for the panel?
Speaker 11: Just a comment.
Frances Causey: Yeah, go ahead, john.
john a. powell: I'm sad to leave. My alarm went off in my car. I think it's supposed to be here to ... I see Mora, she's shaking her head that it's time to go. I just want to say we have a whole thing about Institute of Othering & Belonging on bridging. How do you connect with people who are different than you, the process of engaging in compassionate and empathetic listening, both at an individual and instructional level?
john a. powell: I met with a guy who's had a StoryCorps. You may know his work; StoryCorps is a beautiful platform. He said he was talking to one of the national leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, who has since converted, and he said to him, "You know thousands of racists. Are any of them beyond the pale?" and he said, "No." I don't know if I'm convinced, but we don't know how far we can go, so people are complicated and we love ... Even our own families.
john a. powell: Most of us, if we talk about our own families, there's someone in the family who'd give you the shirt off their back and yet you don't necessarily want them over at Thanksgiving, so it's complicated. If you go to our website and look at stuff around bridging and breaking, there'll be some tools in there that we think will be helpful. Again, thank you-
Frances Causey: Thank you very much, john. Thank you.