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tv   Brandon Fleming Miseducated - A Memoir  CSPAN  July 25, 2021 10:59am-11:56am EDT

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you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. lending comes on these television companies and more including mediacom. >> the world changed in an instant but mediacom was ready. internet traffic soared and we never slow down. schools and businesses when virtual and we powered a new reality because at mediacom we are built to keep you ahead. >> mediacom, along with these television companies, supports c-span2 as a public service. >> you are watching booktv. next, harvard university assistant debate coach brandon fleming shows a literature by black writers helped transform his life. "washington post" journalist yasmine and damien paletta take an in-depth look at the trump administration handling of the covid-19 pandemic. later retired marine lieutenant colonel examines the impact of
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drones in combat and their affect on the military units operating them remotely. find more schedule information at or consult your program guide. now here's hard words brandon fleming. >> i am delighted to introduce our speakers. brandon fleming is the assistant coach of debate at harvard university and found of the nationally acclaimed harvard debate council diversity project. in 2020 he was recognized by forbes on their 30 and a 30 list and by the root as one of the root 100 most influential african-americans in 2020. nic stone was born and raised in atlanta, georgia, and only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. after graduating from spelman college to work extensively in teen mentoring and lived in israel for a few years before returning to the u.s. to write
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full-time. our acclaimed novel for young people include her debut bestseller dear martin, clean getaway, dear justice and a black panther novel. they will be discussing "miseducated" which recounts his extraordinary journey from a tumultuous abusive upbringing and a nearly lethal battle with depression as an 18-year-old college dropout to his current role as assistant coach of debate at harvard university and found of the harvard diversity project, a pipeline program of the harvard debate council. for three consecutive years since the programs inception in 2017 every cohort trained by fleming has one harvard international summer debate competition. i am very pleased to turn things over to our speakers, the digital podium is yours, brandon and nic. >> that might've been mistake, nell but it's okay.
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>> nic stone. >> oh, my god. so first of all, brandon, this took me out. i'm just going to put it out there. we got to kick it on tuesday because you had like like e party for the book, book came out to see. congratulations by the way. it is a huge deal to have this beautiful -- hardcover, like, talk about how you wouldn't do it again at a disagree with that and will continue to disagree with that because you do come of such a way with words. the first question i have for you, "miseducated" is a book, it's a memoir but it's a book that i've never really seen anything like it. with regard to the way you express yourself with regard to the things you're willing to just kind of put out there. as i was reading it, in addition to like sobbing at times and
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wanting to fight, at other times i was astounded by come like a sieve, the things you are willing to talk about in this book. there's such a lack of the kind of shame we are told where supposed to feel over some of the stuff you went through. i guess my first question to you is like, i won't say where did the inspiration come from, like what inspired you to write the book, but like what gave you the courage to put all of this out there? >> i will answer your question, but first i'm going to give you these flowers because i need you to know how much i appreciate you, how much you mean to me. i am just honored and privileged to be able to have this conversation, his first virtual conversation with you. i mean, you inspire me. i'm just so impressed by you and i am so blown away by your work.
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and not just as a black woman. because i kind of hate when people say that, it's because do not expect that? this is great, i'm proud of you as a black girl. >> i understand. >> your contribution to the literary world. you want to see what books out of me, that's calling someone like west wing books of their own, i don't if i can do that but i'm so privileged and to be honored to share this month with you. and thank you for being there the other day as well to celebrate the moment with me in that book release. i enjoyed it more than a release itself the time that we spent in the parking lot talking for hours. we're going to keep that same energy going. they don't even matter who's here right now because honestly, we would do this on facetime come in person, whatever so we'll just let people eavesdrop on what we talk about.
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the process, that book, i go through this transformation, this reinvention, i have now turned that process into curricula and i'd use it as a tool to help build scholars. i want my students to learn from my mistakes, and so at first, it's very uncomfortable kind of entering your foible to the world but it's the price i'm willing to pay if they're able to use my mistakes as a compass for the places where they don't have to go, you know?
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i been there, i've learned that lesson and so we are in the position where we can offer them a cheat sheet. we can say look, this is the result of doing this. let me tell you to get there quicker because ultimately we don't want them to be where we are. we want them to go further. honestly that's what gave me the courage to do it is it started out being for them first. >> i will tell you i think the thing i appreciated most is you do present these things without shame. because i will say as a person who writes books aimed at teenagers who get banned all that i because there's this idea the stuff i talk about in my books is an appropriate for young people, but what i discovered reading united states is you were really willing to be like you know, this is what i was doing when i was the age of these people you say are too young to read what i'm talking about, right? how did you get to a point where you are able to shake off they
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shame that would typically keep people silent about the stuff? >> you know, i don't know i had to shake it off because i don't know it was ever there. i was never really a shame about what i did. because this is a story about victory, you know? this is a story that takes you up in a very low place, but what a drop you off it drops you off in the place of inspiration. for that reason i'm willing to delve deep into those dark places because i know that i came out. and i needed to show other people that you can come out. it doesn't how low, it doesn't matter how downtrodden you might be. nobody is going the reach of redemption how to truly believe that if i was able to make it out, that's what it want to show the world, if i was able to make it outcome if i was able to take my broken and shattered pieces and turn it into a mosaic, and
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everyone else has the power to do the same. >> this is one talking about. we need to keep reading. that was beautiful and poetic. talking mosaics now. >> it was real. >> i have a favorite quote from the book. i only knew i was born into circumstances i did not choose. i conform to the identities of lifestyles of the people who were accessible to me. the reason that this quote, number one, stood out is because the truth of it is something a lot of people overlook. like as the mother of black boys, i have to make sense and my sons are growing up very different than i did large because i've worked my off. if you decide to have children, they will go up a different venue to because you have been working your back off but there's something to be said about being a product of your environment. this is something people overlook when it comes to black boys specifically. i want you to say a little bit
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more about conforming to these identities and is lifestyles that you saw around you and why you felt like you had to do that because if you read the book it's very clearly felt like that was an imperative. >> absolutely. one of the things that i see all the time is that what we have to understand about access and representation is that representation is the lens through which we train. it's the lands to which we aspire here i aspire to become that which i had access to. i did no black people could be scholars. i know that sounds crazy, people say there's black scholars all of the world. yet, , but there were not black scholars in my world. in the microcosm in which i existed i only saw black drug dealers and gangsters and athletes that's what i had access to get i didn't see black scholars in my community. i didn't see black scholars on my television. i didn't see black scholars in my textbook. we could spend the whole time
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talking about that. what does that say about me? that's what we're talking about decolonizing curriculum right now because we're to ask the world when a young black kid is reading a textbook at school what does it tell them about themselves? my history is rich and full legacy and its not relegated to a 400 year freedom struggle. it's not relegated to poverty in africa. at the same time we wasn't all kings and queens neither, you know what i mean? we have to show black and brown people that it's possible for them, , that we have to give thm access to examples and models that will make them aspire to be something great, and that something i did not have quite honestly. young people can't be what they can't see. so for me i saw alan iversen and his corn rolls, saying i could
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be that. i wanted the corn rolls so i got iversen braids. i didn't have no hang time though. remember when cats used to come to school and they have braids but they had no hang time? that was me. >> like i was -- hair braided. >> my sister used to braid my hair. so yeah, i saw alan iversen. i saw latrell sprewell and stuff with all but all the tay jeans and i thought i could be that because they look like me. i had different would it have been if someone would have at an early age introduced me to black scholars, and if someone would've put a a book in my hd instead of a basketball, you know? i think my life could have turned out differently. >> i want to dig into this a little bit because i completely
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agree with you but the thing about you as a black scholars that makes you different from a lot of the black scholars, honestly the thing about both of us as black scholars that i feel is a little different from some of the black scholars i did encounter when i was growing up is authenticity. like we were talking on tuesday about being educated. you can be really well educated and still do things that society says you are not supposed to come like the things your old unquote fulfill the stereotypes. but how come you clearly successfully are able to push back against the idea that to be, yet the kind of not do anything or be involved with what's over here. that's just not true. how do you manage to do the things that you do come build the things that you build and still just be who you are? >> and can i say this one of the things i love about you because i told kelly that the other day, i was like i love nic stone.
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she is so brilliant and she o -- this is like the perfect sophistication and it's beautiful, you know? nobody should be one-dimensional. i think we have an advantage. you know why? because reaching people is all about being multilingual. it's about being able to speak of the people's languages in order to connect with other people. there's a lot of people who really struggle with that ability to connect. so i'm grateful for my journey. it's the same way, look, my kids are going to grow up privileged and slow because of not going to have the same struggles i had. however, i want to understand how to connect to people. i need them to be able to have a variety of different cultural experiences and to be able to speak of the people's languages
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to connect with them at different places because that's what it's all about. i'm able to do that because armada, the harvard diversity project, where the place for scholarship meets culture, and its a movement that goes against the grain and shows young black people that you don't have to sacrifice defining elements of your culture in order to conform and assimilate to what society says a scholar should look like. you can be a scholar and have tattoos. you can be that i got tattoos, look, you know, we live, know what i'm saying? you can be a scholar and use your ebonics. i hear people use slang and ebonics and thinks is that sophisticated. that suggests creative, you know what i mean? we deal with words. it's creative. it's poetics, you know? so that's why because those
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people who think that blackness or characteristics of blackness or unintelligent, that's really just a sign of their lack of intelligence because we are a beautiful and a brilliant people and we should show it. [inaudible] >> having somebody who sees the world through a similar lens, there's like nothing like it in the world. i love in this book even just to the telling of your story you really highlight the power of economic equality and you and to show all of these factors into how you became. some of them have to do with family. some of it have to do with like economic situations. your mom was gone a lot because she was gone for weeks at a time. you were dealing with somebody that i wanted to read in this book. i hope i never see this dude in the street.
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i mean i understand it because i had a similar situation in my house. so it's like getting to see how come it's almost this kind of double-edge sword. sometimes i feel like you really highlighted beautifully in this book is how there's this pressure on black kids specifically to conform. this is what you've got to do in order to earn respect. you do all those things and people still don't respect you. so then you're going to go the other way because at the end of the day the message is you have to earn respect. reputation is kind of everything and a lot of ways. how did you shift out of that space what it's like okay, i'm doing everything right but nobody is saying this other stuff going on at back of the chunky began. now that no one is paying attention to that i'm going to ship to do something different so i feel a little safer. but both ways of the midwest to treat me like trash. how do you break out of both of
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those things and honestly carve out a new space for yourself? i i feel like that's what you d, not in the book but in life. >> it's about learning how to navigate spaces. if we are being real, there are certain environments which is not an opportune time for us to show every aspect of ourselves. you know what reminds me of? i don't want to go on too many tangents because we could talk about so much. reminds me of some of the actions where the like do you think black people should code switch? some people disagree and say people like no, black people shouldn't code switch because we shouldn't have to conform, we should have to do this or that. there's some truth to that. at the same time it goes back to what i was saying about being up to speak multiple languages and not being one-dimensional.
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i think what i learned throughout my journey was how to not be one-dimensional. but here's the thing, some people don't know how to explore dimensions of their cells without losing who they are at the core. that's what i never lost. the thing is, look, i go to harvard and i can talk the talk, you know what i mean? did in the boardrooms and i can talk the talk and i can walk the walk. i can get all of that, you know, but at the end of the day i don't lose myself because i know who i am. i'm able to show people who i am and they're able to appreciate that as well. some of the quite final scene is about power. some of it is about power as well, you know what i mean because a person who has power is a person who commands respect, and people are willing to make certain concessions for
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people who do respect and proceed in power. >> yeah, word. look, again this is off-topic but not really, like i do know is possible to not code switch. it's a natural thing. like where you're at your talk based on -- i personally think it is a skill, just putting it out there. i want you to say a little bit about the compulsion -- something i really dug about this book is you'd really didn't hold back when you're talking about, you had a desire really to kind of create chaos in some of the spaces you found yourself in but i know that comes from a very human place. talk about that a little bit, like this drive. >> yeah, and that's a great way to put it because wanted to [bleep] everything i could around me and i became a threat
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to everything and everybody was around me. and i think we've got to talk about the why. here's the thing, yo. when we look at people, like even when i was in school and as a kid and i exhibited all of these we word behaviors and teachers had a reason to not want to deal with me, everybody had a label for me. everybody had a judgment for me. nobody took the time to ask the right questions. nobody asked why. is this bit we see people out here every day messing up. we see been telling people, raping people, we've got to understand hurt people tend to hurt other people. at the end of a liquid to continue the cycle until somebody take the time to stop and say you know what, what's happening to the persons? what i want people to see in this book, in this story is that victims can either become
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villains or they can become heroes. victims will become villains if they don't find help, but victims can become heroes if they can simply find healing, you know what i mean? we've got to understand that about people. i'm not turn off of when i see some of my students exhibiting some of behavior that even i did when i was younger. i would take the time and asked the right questions. i try to learn from their experiences because at the end of the day we all looking for healing. some of us are looking for healing in the wrong places. we all looking for love. some of us are looking for love in the wrong places. when i got jumped into that can come when i got introduced to drugs, i don't necessarily know i wanted to do that. in fact, i wasn't even good at being a gangster at first, you know what i mean? you in that part of the book where i was -- [inaudible] >> yes.
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here again and i got that from a song, but i see everyone. i wanted to be down because i didn't have community. i did have a support system like that. when it was doing around me i thought i had to adapt to that in order to be loved. i think that's what a lot of us tend to do. >> yeah, i completely agree. even the fact the book really does give a different, gives a bit of insight into why young black boys go down the path that they go down. i think about the book native son and i read that book, i think i was probably 17 or 18 in the idea of thomas feel like where the hell else was a good end up based on things going around me, it's like was that an notable for him to wind up where he did?
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you do an excellent job of digging into that and all of these other factors come place of what were not given the benefit of the doubt, like a kid cousin should surprise koko the media assumption was he was mentally ill in some way. if you'd like us that's not the case. it doesn't go down the same way. i'm saying for your willingness to like put it out there, with regard to language, it's awesom awesome. >> because this book is, it's an emotional, intellectual, and psychological window into the experiences of people who are lost. we tend to judge those people, but when we talk about reaching people, you can't reach people that you don't understand. and so that's what i want to achieve with this book. if were talking about going out
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and rescuing lost, we can't do that if we don't understand them first. if we don't have empathy for them first if we don't know how -- you can't know my mental, dr. cornel west says you can't say people that you don't serve and you can't lead people that you don't love. this is hard work right here, you know what i mean? that's why so many teachers fall short because they don't know how to do the hard work. they might be intellects, they might be brilliant, they might be scholars but they don't know how to serve people. they don't know how to reach people and so they miss them and so many people end up lost. >> i'm going to ask you one question before it opened it up to q&a and less people to ask any questions and then i will continue to ask you questions and we will continue to bob. but i want you to say more about your journey up. you talk a lot about being down and the things that are contributing to you hitting this
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little place, like the book opens with a suicide attempt. i guess i should say with a result of a suicide attempt. and like, first of all, shout at you, i just don't know of a whole -- i have conversations with some a black friends everyday about like why are you not taking your psychiatric medication? you are come to me and you are not doing well but you don't want to take your meds. the fact you are willing to even start the book with an expression of a mental health struggle, like shadow at you. i personally as a person who has mental health issues, i completely, i cannot say how much i appreciate you. i can it's impossible for me to express how much i appreciate you, a straight black cute dude be like yo this is why started. how did you get up? >> i think for me desperation has a tendency to pull us up sometimes.
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desperation has, i hit rock bottom and it didn't hit rock bottom, i didn't just hit rock bottom but i made my bed there, you know, and it was a space i lived in where i don't think i could've gotten any lower than that and try to take my own life. but can i tell you that that time. gave me a sense of fearlessness? it was a part of the book where i started doing, doing stuff. when i got to college, when i gave that first speech when it did the harlem renaissance vessel when i started the program i wasn't scared. the reason why is because i've been so long, felony can do anything to me that it are not done already. i wasn't scared of that place to unlike i've been there. i came out of that place already, i know that looks like i know that feels like. i ain't scared of, you know what i mean, because if i ever falter again i pull myself back up come there's nothing i can't do. you can't have one thing i can
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do because i'm not scared. even if i am scared i'm going to do it afraid. so growing up for me as an athlete, too, i never realized i think every student should participate in athletics. so important because it instilled within the us since a competition not necessary competition with a bonus, with competition with myself. it taught me to be nice best self and it taught me sometimes your disadvantages are your greatest gifts. for instance, for me i'm not very tall. i'm only like 5'8" but i wanted to make it in basketball. in order to make in basketball i had to compensate for my weaknesses. that's because my coach told me he said listen, we don't complain can we compensate. what are you going to do about your own disadvantages? what are you going to do? i had coaches and teachers who look me in my eyes and would not let me lament, you know what i
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mean? from that moment i realized the ball was in my court, and so now when i struggle with literacy, the ball was in my court. when i struggled with raising money, the ball was in my court. with everything i struggled with the ball was in my court. it taught me in every circumstance that i experience there's never a point where i absently no control. i can always find a a way to l myself out into my best self, and so that's how i was able to lift myself out of that. >> i like seriously adore you. >> man, i love you. >> we about to cut up, all i got to say. >> for sure, man. >> there's a couple of questions in the q&a. i really like this person. what was a it like to sell this book to an overwhelmingly white publishing industry for agents and publishers who might see it as troubled black boy gets a white education and heels?
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that's a fantastic question. >> that is a really good question, and i don't know that i thought about it that way. i wasn't thinking about white people whenever this book. like, some people do. some people do, but i wasn't thinking about the book industry when i wrote this book. i was a think about the publishing process whenever this book. i was thinking about him being myself. that's all it was thinking about. i was thinking of being goes on inside covers thinking about my students from the entire time. that's a gave me the strength it if it was not for them i would not have done this. i mean, the places i don't think you understand. in the beginning of that book i had to revisit those places. my family and i never had conversations about any of that stuff. all the stuff happened when i was like ten, from five years old to ten years old and we spent all that under the rug until this point make my family had never had one conversation about it. to the point right to call my
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sister, i know it's going to be tough but i've got to write this book but got through some of the things that happened, and as were trying to recall through our memory are recollections of those events, , she and i both t on the phone raking down because all that pain started to rush back and i did know what to do with that. i'll be honest with you, you're the first person i've told this, but i went to depression writing that book. >> i'm not surprised. ..
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>> all of that that i went through will feel purposeful whenever it affects somebody else and allows them to push through their circumstances. so hope that answers the question, just straightforward answer. >> sometimes in order to tell a story you want to tell -- >> i wasn't thinking about that. >> we're all right. the next question, how would you encourage people to embrace vulnerability, especially the people who love to put on a tough front? >> yeah. i think that's tough. you know what? because all throughout the book, i talk about real -- >> yes, you do. >> that's the phrase. and particularly, the school of hard knocks, with my cousin, and
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i was taught that real -- don't cry. this is so powerful, to the point as men, we're not taught to be excited when we see each other. even if we are excited to see each other, we're taught to keep a straight face. what's good? we're not taught to be vulnerable with each other. i was reading this article that described male relationships versus female relationships that said female relationships tend to be face-to-face, whereas male relationships tend to be shoulder to shoulder, which means we do things together, but we don't connect intimately, you know, and so we live in this culture that's very hyper masculine where we make it feel like it is not masculine to be emotional. that's why so many men are
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messed up, you know what i'm saying? that's why i struggle so much because i was taught if you were vulnerable, you were weak, do you know what i'm saying? >> uh-huh. >> how do you overcome that? by changing your surroundings, by changing the people who are feeding your mind, you know, that when i got out of that environment, that's when i was able to change, but the fact of the matter is, i was fortunate to get out of that. some people are stuck in their condition, you know. that's why it is our responsibility to liberate them. >> word, word. i think something important for -- i want everyone to take a second and recognize the fact that like the tough guy act? you're dehumanizing yourself? >> right. >> we cut off our own humanity by pretending. >> like your own emotional being. why would you suppress that? why would you not nurture that
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part of who you are? you could never be whole that way. >> right. this is literally what members of the animal kingdom, like let's -- we don't need to act like -- >> yeah, man. >> there's another question here, this is actually from one of my mentees and one our -- one of your kids, elliot. >> yeah, elliot. >> this is a deeply personal book that obviously caused you to dig into some dark places. how did you care for your emotional and mental well being while reliving this trauma? you just said it took you -- you were depressed while you were writing it. how did you survive that? >> this depends on how honest you want me to be. [laughter] >> sometimes drinking and sometimes partying, you know.
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here's the thing. we tend to judge addicts a lot, when many of us are addicts and we don't even know it. >> yep. >> and the reason why is because i think most of us are out here trying to chase some sort of high. >> yep. >> all of us are looking for highs. we're all looking for something that will numb and quell the pain. and for me, i didn't know how to deal with that, you know. fortunately, for me, to be honest with you, to answer the question directly, work is what's -- thankfully the type of work that i do is so purpose driven that it gives me a sense of healing. if i didn't have that, i would not have a reason to live, and i certainly wouldn't be able to write that book. but as i went into those dark spaces, i was able to come out because i had somebody to come out for. i had somebody to live for. and there are so many people who don't feel like they have a reason to live. there's so many people that feel like they have no one to love,
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no one to love them, and as a result, they feel like they have no purpose, you know, so that's how i was able to make it through, because of the people that i love. >> i love that. i love that. and that is another way of encouraging vulnerability, like -- >> yeah. >> you have other people that you live for in a sense. >> yeah, absolutely. >> this is a really good one too. i live in a small community, where there's been about two to three murders each month, mostly black men. how do i keep from becoming numb to it all? >> you know, that's tough. it's hard to say because i did become numb to that, you know, the violence, you know, that i saw constantly in my community. i think we have to be careful about not becoming numb to other people's pain. >> yeah. >> and trying to numb our own
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pain, and i think empathy, you know, whether that's empathy for others, whether that's empathy for self and self-care, and all of that is essential. but i think the way that we don't become numb to it is we put ourselves in a position where we're constantly fighting against it. you know, there are some people -- and that's why i said there's a difference between for instance cultural awareness and cultural responsiveness. you can be aware of something and choose to do nothing about it. -- cultural awareness and cultural responsiveness. you can be aware of something and choose not to do nothing about it. racism exists, however not everyone is willing to respond to racism. always be in a position to respond and fight against it. when you do that, you won't
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become numb to it. >> now that you are students who have graduated from your program and most likely will read the book, how do you talk to them about the personal --? >> i don't know. my kids have never seen me in that light. i did some stuff. i'm like oh my god, what are they going to think about me? you know what i'm saying? i don't know. i mean the best thing -- but i'm not the only one in this position. think about parents, like you as a mother, how willing are you going to be to tell your kids yeah, i messed up, you know what i'm saying? let me tell you how. there's a difference between
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telling your kids that you messed up and actually say let me tell you what i did. if we're superficial, they know that. kids don't like inauthentic people, period. whether that's their parents, their teachers. kids appreciate authenticity. i can say that my kids appreciate that about me. >> uh-huh. >> i'm not like any of their other teachers. i'm real, like i'm honest with them, and i tell them about where i've been and what i've done, you know what i'm saying? i don't try to put up a front. i don't try to pretend. in fact, sometimes i think my ways are way too unconventional because look, i cuss at my kids. [laughter] you know what i'm saying? because, you know, that's who i am, you know what i'm saying? i'm very intentional about showing my kids that i'm a real person, and the reason why is because we tend to put people on a pedestal, people in our
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positions, who are successful, we think they're perfect, and because we're think they're perfect, we think we can't be them. >> or we need to be perfect. >> yes, yes, and so i need my kids to see if i'm going to be in a high place, i need them to say that i'm just as flawed as they are. that way they never negate the possibility of them rising too. >> bam. like i don't ever want anybody to admire a version of me that isn't real because at the end -- >> right, right. >> what's the point; right? >> and i struggle with even now like when i go places, and i've had the opportunity to speak to millions of people, right? i will be honest with you, sometimes i'm like these people don't love me. >> yep. >> they don't even know me, because, you know what i'm saying? if i pulled up in here in my jeans and [inaudible], would you feel the same about me? if i was talking to them the
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same way you and i were talking the other day, would they still feel the same about us, if they got to experience that? you know what i'm saying? that's the only way you really know who is truly for you or not is who is willing to accept and embrace your authenticity. >> i love that. i love it. i love it. i love it. here's one, how did writing a book about your journey change you, how you think, feel, and act? did any of that change as a result of what you learned about yourself through this writing process? >> yes, what it taught me was that i was not healed, and the reason why i is because i think i used work as a drug. >> [inaudible]. >> yeah, like, even when i'm going through stuff, like i lose myself in work, and i mean, i go in, you know what i'm saying? and because it's easier to do that than to confront what we
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really got going on. >> yep. >> you know what i'm saying? because we get high offover what we do. -- because we get high off of what we do. like i said, everybody is looking for some kind of high. we get high off of what we do. i had to sit there, write, and edit. you know that process way more than me. you know, i had to edit and go back and try to perfect it as much as possible and find the write word that captures the true essence of the emotion that you're trying to convey, you know, and i had to deal with all of that, you know, and it was the first time that i had to give words to my experiences. >> yes. >> especial pi will the ones -- especially the ones that i tried to ignore. it opened this window where i realized like i'm really not healed from this stuff. >> uh-huh. >> it really taught me that my healing process has just begun, like literally, just now, so
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we're going to do this healing work together, we're out here. >> like what other option is there? when you are a person who is interacting with younger people and they are like looking to you, how do i do this life thing, not healing is not an option. >> yeah, yeah, and we've got to be real with them. we got to be real with them and let them know, look, we're trying to figure it out too. >> absolutely, absolutely. >> we're trying to figure it out too. we're all out here trying to figure it out. we got to have grace for each other. >> absolutely. okay. this is from one of my moms actually, debbie. your deep honesty will help so many students. has your experience given you the vision to see students in trouble even though they try to hide it? >> you know, one of the things that i talk about is the fact that when i was in school, and i showed all those behaviors, i wish i had somebody who was able
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to identify those behaviors as symptoms of a deep-seeded pain. >> yep. >> you know, because a lot of people don't know how to articulate that they're in pain. >> uh-huh. >> you know, a lot of people don't know how to -- they don't have the courage to be able to share what they are dealing with. think about how many people are sexually or physically abused, and they don't tell anyone because they are so conflicted on the inside. this book is not just for those kids who are going through it, but for those who have the desire to reach them, but in order to reach them, you have to have the wherewithal to be able to identify certain behaviors of kids who are dealing with trauma, you know. but that's something we don't deal with. you know what i'm saying? we talk about in education, like i've been through the education training programs in college. we don't talk about this stuff. >> yeah. >> you know what i'm saying?
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we don't have conversations about that. it's all about the subject, you know. it's all about the curriculum. i say to teachers all the time, nowadays, we live in a climate and culture where teachers love their subject more than they love their students. when was the last time we've had a class on love or teachers where they have had a professional development seminar that was centered on love? you know what i'm saying? this is hard work that we're doing. when we talk about reaching and changing the kids, we need to understand the true impetus of change. change comes through the front door of the heart and through the back door of the mind. love changes people more than information ever will, and that's what we got to understand. >> we going to take a moment of silence after that one. [laughter] >> that's real, man. >> absolutely. >> that's real. >> absolutely. how did you find yourself, and how do you continue to return to
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your true self? >> i found myself when i found my voice, and that's important because where a person has no voice, they do not exist. they don't exist. if you don't have -- it's your voice that declares your presence, you know. and when i found my voice, i discovered who i really was, and i discovered my calling to help other people do the same, find their voices. so that was how -- how do i stay true to myself? by singing my song, by telling my story, by using my voice to make other people's lives better. >> i just love you. you're just -- >> i love you too. >> i'm excited for a lot of the things that you are doing that i'm not going to mention because i do -- like you're doing some
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really powerful stuff. there's a question here about the debate and basketball. are there similarities? i was a debater. >> first of all, i love the debate references, you all. i was like, wait, were you a debater? >> i was. >> people who want to debate don't just write about debate. how did she not tell me she was a debater? we will talk about that later. yeah, the connections between basketball and debate is the same -- there's a correlation between debate and basketball and life. >> uh-huh. >> particularly life in america, you know, in a capitalistic society where we have to play this game of chess, you know, and when we're talking about being our better selves and this
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journey of finding power and using that power to make other people's lives better because if the right person doesn't have power, the wrong person will. we have to understand that. you know, and so for me, debate taught me, you know, about owning my ideas, about thinking critically, about wielding my words as a weapon to build and to fight against systems of injustice, you know. that's what it was all about for me. and that's why i tell teachers that a debate-centered curriculum is so powerful because there's nothing that you will own more than your own perspective. >> correct. >> that's why kids love science and math so much, which tend to be more hands on, but whether you are creating a product or whether you're creating an idea, it is something that you can behold as your own, something
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that you can love, something that you can cherish, you know, and so when i got to the point where i was able to formulate my own thoughts, you know, the mere imparting of information is not education. the effort must result in one's ability to think and do for him self. when i learned how to think and when i learned how to do, that's when i felt like i really started to exist. that's when i felt like i really started to matter, you know, and when i discovered that power, man, i was like oh i got to get this -- why people in my community don't know about this? you know what i'm saying? i was like i got to take this back to the hood. >> yeah. >> it was that transformative. i was like i got to find some black kids and need to teach them about this because they probably don't know this exists. >> right. >> when i was in college, i wanted to start teaching debate to the kids in my community. and they started showing up. first, it was five, then it was 10, kids from the park, kids from the playground, from the
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basketball court were all coming and learning about debate. why? because they were going through the same intellectual metamorphosis like i was. all of that was from me finding my voice. we've got to help young people find their voice. we got to. >> i started debating when i was in 7th grade. the rapid fire thing -- >> yeah, let's try this. they do that in policy debate. >> i have watched it. my head spins. when it comes to teaching the kids to find their voice, you are teaching them to find support. what is your evidence? how do you support this argument you are making? how are you going to convince me
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that what you are saying is valid? right? being able to speak for yourself is one of the beautiful things that kids can learn from debate. keep that energy on debate. it is amazing. >> oh, yeah, it doesn't matter if you are math, science, every subject should be centered around debate and discourse. >> yes. >> because the thing is, the problem is that in so many classrooms around the world, the teacher does 90% of the talking. why? like, why? you're not -- you're not fostering -- this should be a journey. the teacher should be a tour guide, someone who takes you on this journey with beautiful tangents where curiosity, you know, just -- where you just drift away with curiosity and find yourself in this place that's so beautiful, and you're like how do we get here? and this destination?
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there's nothing i live for more than those moments of self-discovery. they are so powerful. >> yes. >> the true teacher is the one who knows how to usher in that moment, that experience. debate does that. >> inquiry, discourse, and debate. absolutely. >> yeah. >> you're everything. >> oh, man, you are too, man. i could talk to you all day. >> that's probably going to happen. we're just going to have to kick it. [laughter] >> i appreciate you, man, you have no idea how much you mean to me as a budding author, someone who is new on the scene, to be embraced by someone of your stature, someone who is
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celebrated as the -- i've got your name on the back of my book. it's not going anywhere. people like you and cornell west have embraced me and loved on me. i appreciate you more than you ever know, sister, i'm serious. >> i appreciate you for what you are doing out in your world. i'm in my house making up stuff all day, which is great. don't get me wrong. it is wonderful. >> i wish i could do that. i wish i could be a fiction writer. fiction writers are the most brilliant people in the world, like you create whole new worlds. >> we had this discussion, and i'm telling you, nonfiction is harder to me because i'm like -- i can't lie? like i got to tell the truth? [laughter] >> then it's not nonfiction
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anymore? >> yeah, i'm envious of you, so give me a little bit of that energy so i can do the same maybe one day. >> there you go. >> i appreciate it. i receive that. [laughter] >> i receive that. i appreciate you, man. >> i'm so sad so be the one to cut off this conversation. thank you so much to both of you for your brines and your candor. i have just been frantically writing down notes on my phone of what these wonderful -- thank you. this was really really wonderful conversation. folks, thank you very much for joining us. i just reposted a link in the chat to purchase copies of the book. please go buy this remarkable book. thanks so much to both of you. yeah, there it is. nic mentioned earlier, he even
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matched his wardrobe for you today. please -- [laughter] >> please make an effort. anyway, thank you very much for supporting your independent bookstores. thank you very much, again, to both of you. this was a wonderful conversation. stay well. stay safe. keep reading. have a lovely night. thank you. >> yes, everybody have a good night. thanks for coming. bye. ♪ ♪


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