tv Tarana Burke Unbound - My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me... CSPAN November 21, 2021 8:40am-9:56am EST
in america, and somebody's daughter. according to npd book scan print book sales rose over 17% for the week ending november 6. but people continued bring you new programs and publishing news and you can watch all of our past programs anytime at booktv.org. >> tonight we're going to talk about your book, it feels like a setup, because i'm feeling very -- we got good kleenex here. the kind that doesn't leave particles on your face. >> okay spread hoping we can have an honest conversation and we have to remember there's other people here so it's not like the good girlfriend conversation that we still need to have. >> it's like we don't know these people.
[inaudible] are you here with me? >> i will probably know someone i put on my glasses. i do. [inaudible] this is one of my favorite white people in the world, y'all. [laughing] this book would not exist without this lady. i've never seen her hair down, that's why. >> sorry. >> are you here? are we ready? >> i'm here. >> okay. i'm going to talk a little bit about, i'm going to have some reflections as we talk. >> okay. >> because i wasn't ready for this and i don't know what i was ready for but it wasn't ready for this. things to-do list i i know wel have this conversation today, i have angst to do. i get the book in hand on friday. i say saturday i'm going to read four chapters, come back and read for more chapters come senate will finish it up, make
notes on monday. saturday sitdown reading and i realize that i was not prepared for what i was about to read. i don't know why. i'm going to start chapter one that's called no alibi. first word, unkindness is a serial killer. here we go. death in the flesh sometimes seems like a less excruciating way to succumb than the slow and -- mean-spirited codewords and actions that poison you over time. i guess that's why can't stand the old children's rhyme sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. every time i hear it i think to myself that's a lie.
you can die by a rock but you cannot un-hear a word. you can't undo the intentional damage that some words have done on your mind, body and spirit especially a word like ugly. the funny way that some people interact with those they seem physically unattractive usually a fair for about half of the to the mall when there notice they smile and eyes that away and the posture falls into an unsettling myth of toddler and chimpanzee as if they don't know where to move next. suddenly they are fascinated by the nothingness over your shoulder. i know -- i seen so often and i can spot in a split second. i can read the readjustments as a comfort turns through their body accomplishes a a millised discussed come sometimes offset by embarrassing if confronted by
my unrelenting stair, guilt. i know this because i am ugly. at least that's what the world finds new ways to tell me every day. now, you know the work that i do. i wanted to start, i was not going to start there. i wanted to avoid this chapter altogether but what woke it up for me today, because you nobody on the net is having a good old time celebrating this book and everybody is making their post and encouraging anyone else to get the book. and i saw a post i don't know if you all saw it, let me see if i can log on but i'm going to read claire. do you all know that magazine? marie claire is celebrating today. they have a post up, right?
it says tarana burke on the future of ice take me to in the caption says i know this because i'm ugly. tarana burke writes in the first few pages of "unbound" and that just, that made me mad. >> me too. >> because it took those words completely out of context and so we have been here with you on this ride with the #me too movement for how many years now? >> almost four. >> and i know that that you are plugged in online and you had a lot, a lot of the energy behind it has been about the bible moment, right? how do you do this? how to get on the internet on the instagram and facebook and twitter where you're supposed people to have a good laugh with your friends but also keep up with what's going on in mind other people's business, and
then use shit like this? >> that's why i wrote about in the book. nobody wants to have this conversation dick nobody wants to be honest about this conversation. this is the rally of being a black woman in the world, a reality of being a black woman on the internet and, quite frankly, a dark and black woman with no -- and a lot to say. people have come people would rather talk about what i look like and what i do. they would say with the a pf said things like you couldn't have got -- why would somebody want to rape you? and unlike what i was to do when i was seven here does that help you? doesn't make you feel better? i just want to kind of put in people's face because it's his like anything else, it's disarming once i own it. i look in your and i'm like i'm all right. i'm saying i'm cool here if other people have an issue with that and also we have plans with
friends, you're fine, you're fine. but let's be real about what is out in the world. look at my friends mfn would be like no, you're beautiful, you're this, that, that's great but the agile world finds new ways to tell me i'm not worthy, i'm not beautiful. and what i did when i was young was i conflated that as a reason what i was violated, the reason why i was abused. and i think that's what happens a lot of times when you dealing with multiple things at the same time. it's not just the sexual violence. it is the sexual violence as a young black girl in america in particular in what that is. i just want to be right in people's face with that and talk about people act like what i look like is an affront to them, right? so you're going to get matt and me and it's also what, if you read the book i don't want to give away a lot why i took on
the angry, the anger. i was like i got anger, too. that's what we doing? i'm a person and i'm fighting, too. this is what ugly black girls in the bronx do. i got it. we're trying desperately to find some things to cling to that says i'm just as good or i'm better or i'm worthy in some way. it's not just a fight of from the trauma. it's all the things we have to carry around the trauma. i just wanted to get it out. it's a serial killer. that marie claire thing come nobody thought it was unkind but when you compile that with all other unkindness come over time it's like death by a thousand cuts. >> this book is phenomenal. it's 250 something pages. if all the things you could've
picked up -- >> picked that line. >> that line and called it a celebration. you pick that like to encourage people to buy your book. >> right. so when i come back and say -- marie claire, then i'm wrong, right? but they want to hang on to meet say hey, mommy. [laughing] the subtitle reads my story of liberation and the birth of #me too movement so what i really appreciate from the inside out
is that i think people think they know what the #me too movement is, right? the movement started 2017? >> yeah. >> the fall of 2017 with the hashtag going viral, you being thrown in the spotlight and very much associated with white women. >> oh, yes. >> this moment of you writing in your memoir what i appreciate if you didn't spend a lot of time talking about that. he talked about -- you brought it back in and but in the middle is a black woman's story. it is what -- a black girls song. it is, you sing that song, girl. it is so new york. i'm asking -- teacher glasses on. on.
i'm going to ask you now if you can read -- you good? read all of it from uptown baby. >> okay. which page? >> thirty-seven. >> okay. so uptown baby. i am a third-generation bronx and was born and raised in new york in the early '70s. my grandfather joseph burke was one of the first black babies born in lincoln hospital in the late 20s. his mother martha came to the united states through ellis island from an island country of st. kitts in 1922. granddaddy met my grandma lillie mae was race in south carolina and relocated when she was seven in what is done as the banana kelly section of the bronx even though my mother told me that was wrong, that was my mothers
come when she read the book she's like i had to tell you that is not banana kelly. you got that wrong. sorry. she had -- he had stepped in to break up a fight between my grandma and her then boyfriend pete who thought he could put his hands on her and get away with it. as the story goes my granddaddy stop my grandma from going upside keeps head after race his hands to hit her. she had grabbed a broom from the storefront they were standing there and started wailing on pete. my granddaddy pulls her off pete and assisted on walking her home to comfort her. summer between granddaddy decided very definitely that she was the one. he told her that he had been drafted to go to war, world war ii, but that he would come back for her. grandma said she paid him no mind and went about our business when he left.
while in the armed services my granddaddy was in an airplane accident that nearly killed him and he was sent home after serving just 18 months here once discharged he kept his word to my grandma and showed up at my great grand at his door asking to quarter. she told her father she did know who the heck he was. she did of course but you want to see how serious he was. he came back three times before she agreed to go on a date. she went out with him that day and a few days after that, and then as he would often say, she became his last girlfriend. you want me to keep going? my grandparents made a good life in the bronx. grandma was a nurse and granddaddy worked the general -- which might place in the upper middle class instead of working class if they had not had six children. my mother was the oldest. my granddaddy was a patriarch and head of household. he was strong-willed and dominant. his word was law and his views were gospel. his golden rule was family
first. burks matador anyone else. -- mattered before -- he was a self-taught scholar of black history and gourmet chef picky believe in the teachings of derby and malcolm x among others and if you in his presence for any extended time you knew it. we were with some would call a pro black family that my granddaddy believed in celebrating blackness and as many ways as possible. once my younger cousin who was born the day after malcolm x birthday said he didn't who the venerate a black leader was. my granddaddy went out on the spot and brought a birthday cake to celebrate malcolm expertise to celebrate, use the celebration to teach my cousin about our own black shining friends. my mom heavily influenced by my granddaddy was engaged in the blacks -- at the vienna daycare
where i was learning swahili and african dance at just three. granddaddy believed in telling the truth about america and who we were in relation to it. i wasn't allowed to -- wear red, white and blue operatives but in the pledge of allegiance. what are you pledging to he would say? this country doesn't keep its promises. as it often does the patriarchy ran deep in our beloved patriarch when my mom got pregnant during her junior year of college family folklore says my granddaddy was so angry he refused to speak to her for months. there was evidence of that anger after my birth though. i was the apple of his eye. my biological father was never part of my life. i've never met in and don't have limited information about him. my mother was my primary caretaker but my granddaddy was a larger-than-life for me from the first time he picked me up. growing up the oldest of six kids in the '50s and 60s more than prepared my mother for
raising a child of her own. even in the often unforgiving city like new york, but the bronx was a different animal. >> you could read a little more. but you can stop a little bit because here you go on to describe the bronx as the world would know it, right and the image of the bronx and what the people thought of the bronx but where i wanted you to go is right up to the point where you talk about that sense of community and what community meant but what i was trying to get you to go right before you start describe your relationship with mr. west, right? your mother had a relationship with who was a father figure in your life and i wanted to go there because you talk about the patriarchy the way you describe your grandfathers personality.
again telling your story of survival, right, and resistance and again thinking about the ways which people think about the #me too movement and whatever a means to be a survivor of sexual violence and in the gender politics of that a lot of times in our discussions of sexual violence in a position in a particular way, right? predators, pedophiles, you know, the offenders, and that's real and often, our relationship to them is survivor versus, right? so if we're telling our story the presumption is meant are going to be cast away. what i love about your book is it that so much teaching but it's not like new information. teaching is like waking up your spirit having thought about this teaching. tell us a little bit about mr. wes and why your seven-year-old self didn't tell him your truth.
>> so mr. wes was, i consider myself having several father figures that mr. wes is one of two main ones. he was my stepfather. raise me from three years old, the apple of her eye, the love of my life. my uncle neil is right here. he's one of the other ones but mr. wes was just -- >> can i help you out? >> the thing that you're getting at is that there were not, the blackman and my life is what i tried to people on time, i know amazing man. the blessing of my life is that i just know the most amazing black man starting with my granddaddy, my uncles, mr. west. so it wasn't come oftentimes when your people talk about
their expense of sexual violence it's about their fear of not being believed. >> bright. >> my fear at seven years old wasn't that is not going to be believed, it was that i was going to be believed. i was very fearful that mr. west would believe me if i came to him because he was such a fierce protector, that he would believe me and that he would put everything on the line for me, that he would risk his life and maybe even take the life of somebody else that he thought had harm be in that way. what i talk but in the book is how at seven years old i made a very adult decision to my mother, right, my mother is mama bear. all i know is she goes from zero to 60. in like that. it's like something happened. who? who did a? that's what i know in my family.
there's another story later in the book about my uncle, not to put you on the spot where make the same decision. here i don't, i'll come because it wanted to throw his life away. the black man in my life protected me. the blackman in my life stood up for me. if i told mr. west at seven years old what that boy identity he would've surely desha up in the closet up in little desha i knew. if i'd said to my mother making the house her and mr. west, everybody knows the story i told online about a mother coming to the supermarket. you all laugh at that story. my mother and my grandmother coming to the supermarket and my mother punching a man in the face who smacked me everybody
was laughing but that's real. my mother wrote that man's jaw for smacking me in the face. like, we all black, were clapping but that is against the law. [laughing] people go to jail for that. one of the things i was raised, i knew what consequences were very early on in life and so i didn't want this consequences to fall on me. not for me. i felt like i done something wrong and i had broken the rules and they didn't want mr. west to go to jail and be gone because i done a bad thing. i didn't want my uncle, he was a teacher, had children and i didn't my uncle to go to jail. if i'd said to my uncle that night that this boy have done something, jesus christ. i can't even -- is so last year?
my little -- you all read in the book about what happened to celeste. celeste beat the boys up. celeste and my friend did what my uncle didn't he because he did know, found out the next day, cornered them and beat the shit out of them. it's okay -- [laughing] i'm going to say allegedly. allegedly, right? so what i know is protection from black men, from my people, from community. and so i made the decision very early very young to do that but it's also because i felt complicit and i thought immediately i'm not worthy of this. i do what mr. west to throw his life away for me. i'm the bad girl. >> unkind hold onto some stuff because all the pieces of the
book and then yelled at have to read a budget all read the book and will come back and talk again. speaking of the incident again when we got lots of new city, what of your favorite writers and friend, you saw his post, he posted the cover of your book. he said did this and read it alongside i know why the caged bird sings come because it's that good. and for those of you who have a copy of the book near you you will notice that every chapter starts with a little bird. there are birds all through this book. talk to us about this bird. don't talk to us yet. read. i want you to read. sunshine and rain, come with me to -- what page? page 68. take me down towards the bottom of 69. >> sixty-eight. this is like being in school. hold on a minute.
>> i will tell you when to stop. >> oh, gosh. she's so bossy. my glasses ain't fading over my frame. hold on. my favorite class was honest and restrict my mother was a reason i loved literature our home was a black woman's literary paradise fish at hundreds of books all over our house and majority of them were by the most beloved and revered black women writers of our lifetime, toni morrison and alice walker, gwendolyn brooks, nikki, and my angelo, among others. i was drawn in by the pretty covers and spectacular titles. my angelo's book in particular was dazzling and inviting but every time i asked my mom if i could read one she would say i wasn't ready. i owe bader and left the books alone but my curiosity only grew. when they why my mom was out of the house i couldn't help
myself. i snuck her copy of i know why the caged bird sings off the shelf. i had been around swells. i had to tell my mother -- she thought it would be too difficult to understand but the words came easy. didn't take long before i was hooked. reading the opening chapter about her running out of the church penis of mind of a embarrassing moment in my own life there was something so strangely comforting about reading hasher laugh at her embarrassment even though she knew the adults with punisher any of the kids would tease her. i found myself wishing that i was her friend so that i can learn to laugh at myself, too. even when i i was scared. i kept reading fascinated by the way she talked about her thoughts and emotions and the many of them mirrored how i felt about myself here and then mr. freeman was introduced. i understand now why my mother
might have been wary of my reading this book too soon. maya angelou bothe being molested and raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was eight years old. my mom who had no idea that my life was being mirrored in this book likely didn't want me to read it in an attempt to protect me from an ugly reality i had unfortunately already experienced. instead of being horrified and compelled to ask questions i was being introduced to a truth that would forever alter my life. my 12-year-old mind had not understood that this was a thing that happens to other girls who are innocent. i thought it was just me or at least girls like me. i thought i was a kind of girl who bad things happen to you. when i i read about what happd to young maya angelou i was able to read her as innocent in a way i didn't allow myself. she was decent and nice and it
seemed agree just that god would allowed something so horrible to happen to her. it was the first time i ever realized a little girl like her could have gone through what i went through. i finished the book and kept what was in my mind are secret. to my 12-year-old self maya angelou was just another name on my mothers bookshelf. she wasn't doctor maya angelou the esteemed poet author activist and all-around legend. she was a lady who wrote the book that shared my secret. she was my confidant. i no longer felt alone. [applause] >> tell us about these birds flying around your book. >> i mean, that part does talk about -- i have been so in love with that book excitement of us. i feel like it is, it's almost like how we fit each other, right? of all of our girlfriends are we all love that book and we all love color purple. we all love -- like we all love
the same thing but i felt a sense of liberation. it's kind of what me too is about. it's about finding community. she was the first place i found community. and she talked about i know why the caged bird sings, comes from another poem, and i did it because you want to feel freedom. but i think this work that i've done on myself in the world has actually let me sing outside the cage. like, i don't want to sing inside the cage. i want to fly outside of the cage. that's what liberation looked like to me. i do want to just imagine it. i want to be free and actually fly out in the world. i want to sing my song and so that's what the bird symbolizes. i want to sing that song and keep flying and moving.
i'm not all the way there. i don't think any of us really are but at least symbolically that allows me the space to know that that is possible. >> speaking of liberation let's talk a little bit about movements. interesting because in my attempt to get ready for this conversation because i didn't think i get it without crying speedy you're doing all right. >> thank you. i reached out to quite a few people who would only had a of the book. i reached out to garrett. where is garrett? we're going to call you appear in just a few. brin and danny will ask all of them to share some thoughts with us in a few but garrick reminded me of a conversation that we had on our trip to l.a. where you were supposed to be working and he came --
>> i was working. >> you were. he came by to check on you on your progress, had a laptop and cepheid is really powerful conversation about motherhood, about mothering, and about what feels like a trauma that we inherit from our mothers, right? so there's that you that is a daughter and inherit is you that is a mother. i know the large majority of folks are talking specifically about your mother mother. >> not biological. >> so folks home in the that singular type mothering, right? your biological mother and want to understand the relationship between you and her. i want to focus on one of your other mothers that you talk about in the book, right, take her in the context of movement.
so often we talk about mothers of the movement. we talk about sisters in the movement. we talk about the role of women in the movement, and you had a particular experience with a woman named mrs. sanders. tell us a little bit about mothering in the movement. [inaudible] i need my people. april is here? okay good. i need the people here to know. so i joined and workstation called the 21st century century leadership movement when i was 14. and the change, it absolutely changed my life and you will read in the book how that happened and a big part of how that happened is because ms. sanders, rose sanders, she's
a phenom. she really is. i had never met and i don't think i have since met a person like her. she's not that big of a woman. maybe 5'3" -- [laughing] >> average height. >> but, but she was the first person to validate me as a leader. my family had given me all of this wonderful grounding in who i was as a black person and all of this information to my family helped me be able to recognize injustice. ms. sanders help me understand i could do something about it. and i could do something about it now at 14, right? she didn't say let me train you and one day when you finish college. she said right now, what do you want to do? right now.
and i was exhilarated by that. it was amazing. it was like i will follow you anywhere. i wanted to please her. i wanted to show her that i was -- i was also and i think a lot of people go through, going through feelings of being unworthy and she made me feel worthy. she showed me how movement made me feel worthy. not just as an individual predicating support. now i have -- people say you find your voice. wasn't really that but i tapped into something. she said you can speak up. i spoke up and people listen and i was like okay. i'm going to keep doing this, you know? and so i moved to selma. she helped me get into college. she helped me. she just guided me in so many different ways. she definitely other than my
mother and ms. and who is also here, somewhere. ms. ann -- isn't it odd both my mom's name is ms. ann. i touted as a mother figure and, and you know until you're a parent you don't realize just how human your parents are and just how -- i never forget one time when i heard kaia outside playing with a friend. kaia must've been six or seven and they were arguing back and forth with a friend, about something and then kaia stood up and it and said yes, they did. because my mommy told me. and i was like oh, shoot. you basing it off something i told you? i don't know nothing.
it's like how much you count on you believe in your pants because you think of them as superheroes. i thought of it then as a superhero. and so ways in which, the ways in which i found her to be human and flawed was devastating to me but not just to me personally. i think they also indicative of how we pour into people in movement. we talk about -- what is it called? the singular -- y'all know what i'm talking about. what is it? singular person -- the charismatic leader kind of thing. we kind of like but people like dr. king on a pedestal and all of that kind of stuff. it's so dangerous point those people are human beings who are just trying to figure it out as well. and if you are not -- if you are
narcissistic, if ever crazy ego, you know, people dealing with all of that and the bottom line is ms. sanders really broke my heart at the end of the day. she broke my heart. she continues to break my heart, if i'm being honest. i still love her. i still appreciate everything that she gave me an pour into me. i could never deny what she poured into my life but i also know that sometimes you have to take a gift and separate yourself from the gift giver, you know? >> and begin without giving away too much of the story because this is important for the conversation, how did she break your heart? >> they are going to read it. >> so the other part is the reason why i tell the story of why she broke my heart is because we talk a lot about the culture of silence, and when we talk about sexual violence in our community and the committee's of color we have a
huge problem with culture silence for many reasons. we don't talk often enough about the culture of complicity. and i think the culture of complicity happens in a lot of ways. some of it is very direct and some of it is in direct. it dovetails with that culture of celebrity, you know? so for instance, in the book i talk about reverend james, you all read it anyways. a lot of people don't know who he is but those of you who do know, he was a chief lieutenant of dr. martin luther king. folk in the movement, talk about older people in movement they are so adamant and they so want to first to protect dr. king's of memory and legacy that they will go to the ends of the earth to do that and he was a human being. he was a human being who did
great things that he was still human, and we are not even talking about him. these are the people around him. james bevel was brilliant. he was an architect of the movement. he is the architect of the children's march in birmingham. he is the architect of the selma to montgomery march. he was the with the architect of the million man march, and is also a serial pedophile and child molester. he raped seven of his nine daughters. this is not innuendo. google it. he was tried and convicted but you see how many people probably don't know that because it came and it went. it was a news story, it predated social media by about that happened in 2007, 2008 so we wasn't quite reading and face booking and i think whatever,
whatever. it wasn't quite, things wasn't viral back then. so what didn't spread like it would have but i was living through it. and the people in selma, including ms. sanders and some members of her family knew about it, found out about it, and did not ring the alarm in the community. now, the reasons why they didn't do that, i have my theory, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter because you didn't do it. and to me the reason why i include it in the book is because it paints a picture of this culture of complicity where you would rather protect the legacy of this person, or even like i don't even know it was about him as much as it is if it comes out what does that say about y'all and your relationship to him and all the rest of that? all those questions that come up
before you go run and tell, that's the problem. all of that like weight, what if this happens? what if that happens? my child was around this man. ms. ann said he was around this man. their children were around this man. and so it was something that i needed to talk about. also because i felt guilt around him myself. because by the time i found out it wasn't much we could do, ms. ann and i found out about same type if there wasn't much we can do about it, and it's also part of the start of me too, right? because i was like i'm dealing with these girls in my program for experience sexual violence. i felt like i didn't have enough experience. all i had was my own experience. i'm an organizer.
i knew something was wrong with this man. i knew he was creepy and he wasn't right, and elyse i felt like, you know when you think come out in your spirit, this man is -- it ain't right. come here, i don't want these children are ready. so we get the kids away from him because it just wasn't, i did want that on my head psych of the kids away from him before, you know. but i just felt like, i don't know whatever. i just felt guilty but that made up my mind that if i'm an organizer, i need to say, i need to be who i said is going to be. these skills i have need to be used for something else. how was it that i have kids in my program if i send 5% of the kids in my program are dealing with sexual violence? how is this not a problem that we are not organizing around? how? we respond to everything.
we respond to gun violence in the community. we respond to voting issues. we respond to every other political built in the community but you're going to tell me if i have class of 40 like girls and 35 of them can say me too, we'll have a community problem? we've got a problem. so it's it's time to do something about it. that was -- that will just -- he just added insult to injuries. i think i felt guilt because it didn't -- [inaudible] >> what with that of looked like? >> i don't know. >> what would that have done? like the way you feel the guilt? >> i don't know. i'm just saying, you know t think i felt that was a guilt i felt. i just left. i got my babies. we packed up and we got out of dodge.
april had gone, celeste had gone and i was just like i'm out. i i can't, i can't do this anymore. my uncle had told me to leave some years before. i just laugh but i think that's where the guilt came from. i probably went on too long. i'm sorry. >> no, no. it's important to talk about it. i'm thinking as you were talking i was drawing connections to the final section where you talk about the ways in which you have been received or rejected by our community in this whole moment of me too, particularly talk about surviving r. kelly experience and filming that and you want to talk about -- >> last question? [laughing] >> it could be. >> i'm just drawing a connection. >> it's true, right? it's absolutely connected. this moment, i mean, you know,
this is our village. these are the people here who love us and let me and who have been supportive and will be supported but this has been hard. >> of course. >> it's been, it's been, i feel almost naïve and how i thought when me too went viral. i remember thinking what's the opposite argument? right? was the opposite argument to don't rate people? what's the flipside, you know? and boy was i not ready. and then come and in a black people don't, you know, want to talk about this. i know it's a hard conversation. i just wasn't ready for people to die on the hill of r. kelly of all people. i get bill cosby actually. i can follow logic. i did it. we can't separate the huxtable
from blah, blah, blah. we like jell-o pudding, whatever. i get it, you know, hey, hey, i did it but i don't understand r. kelly. i don't understand russell simmons. what? [inaudible] what? this is the hill -- i i say ts in the book. this is going back to the black man in my life, amazing black men. what i thought would happen is that this would give black men a chance to say, this is not who we are. these men don't represent us. manlike r. kelly or russell simmons or bill cosby need to be outside of the community. even if you don't want him to go to jail, i get that but sometimes a to put people outside of the community. sometimes had to find ways to have them accountable away from the people that they are
harming, right? because they don't represent us. i wanted black man to be like we love and want to protect our women. remember that? i know them from the 90s and let them protect and respect the black women, come on, you know. i thought that was going to happen. and instead they were like free r. kelly. it's a just, there's something about the lack of nuance. there's also not enough conversation. in the black community sexual violence has been weaponized against black men for decades. we know that but you know what? i could go around the room and all of us can name emmett till. we can talk to everything from emmett till to brian banks. we know the stories of central park five. but we don't know the stories
about those recognized -- weaponized against black women. nobody can talk about black women and sexual violence in this country so we even tell outside stories about the sexual violence has been weaponized against black men, as if it doesn't happen to us. we just went through this reckoning from black lives matter and police violence are and i'm like y'all, this is a simple map to drop if you can connect these dots. if you know that, you all know what i'm going to say, right? i'm going to say it anyway. if you know that police comes up like people have adverse relationships with the police, like people have adverse relationships with the police, black people are being killed by the police with impunity. we know that. that's why we have say her name. like men are being killed. black women are also being killed. we know that. police harassment is the number one complaint against police in
this country, the number one complaint against law enforcement across the country. is, what you call it? tell me what it is. no, no, no, the first one. harassment and excessive force. that's what i've tried to say, sorry. excessive force and harassment is the number one complaint against police in this country. don't laugh at me, family. it's not nice. we are being taped. you are going to pay for this later. [inaudible] [laughing] anyway, excessive force is the number one complaint against police in this country, right? the number two complaint is sexual violence. so if black people, people have
adverse encounters with the police, number one and number two both include black women. but when we said black lives matter, we really mean black men's lives matter. that's all i was trying to get. i know that was a long way around. but people were saying to me last summer, this is not a need to issue. why are you talking about this? what's the word the kids say? they told me i was trying to -- i was trying to get clap -- i had to ask kaia what that is. i'm trying to clap chain? what's the -- that's ridiculous. i was on the cover of time magazine. i don't need your clout. [applause] look at here, twice. [laughing] one time was fake but i'm just saying. but my point is we cannot have,
we cannot have a real conversation about sexual violence in our communities because we we're scared to rl conversations. we cannot have nuance conversation about it. everything is polarizing. we bring up r. kelly, r. kelly is only in indicative of what happened in the community, right? >> that's what i appreciate this particular -- >> i was going to go back to the book. .. how could you just open up in this particular way and tell
this story in this particular way? what was it like? you were so vulnerable, was that on me as i read it was raw and not just raw in terms of truth telling but raw in terms of open. like somebody ripped a band-aid off and how did you do this? >> you know when your little and get a cut you put a band-aid on it and after a while somebody, your mama or grandmother says let take that off and let that would get some air . that's what it is. sometimes you can't keepthe band-aid on forever . i have a band-aid on this story for 40 years. and this is the only way i knew how to tell it. this is the only way i knew for it to come out. this is my story. and it was, it's the hardest
thing i've ever had to do in my life because 17 hours of labor. i'm not going to let it go. it was. it was the hardest thing i've ever had to do is he here? i don't even want to know where you are. don't do it. >> i'm allowed to bringpeople up . >> francis and i had a conversation about this. and we were talking about the story needing to live on the outside. and just how i don't even know. i did all the work. i've done therapy and then in modal therapy and all the talking and all the kumbaya
things. i've never felt as free as i felt the moment ifinished writing . it just needed to live on the outside. i don't think, do what you want with it,don't do what you want with it . i'm going to write it again. but i don't even want it like that anymore. >> want what like that? >> i held on to these stories . when i started writing them down i realized i didn't even really know them well. i think we tell ourselves our life story in a particular way. you feel like you knowyour life and you write it in a timeline . i had my journals going all the way back to eighth grade . luckily i could literally go back and read what 12-year-old, 14-year-old
tarana was thinking and i reconfigured those things in my mind for my own comfort . when i read that and i was confronted with that reality i was like, did you know i was telling myself for years that what the person who assaulted me said afterwards, this is what happened that i believe as a girl. there is no evidence of that. it's a memory that i created. it's just not real. and i just needed to flesh it all out. i had garrick, who i'm glad i can't lookat . it doesn't matter. garrick, i actually can't face him.
>> take your time. you want to take a minute? >> why did garrett make me cry? i love him. >> we could freestyle. >> no, number don't do that. but i had garrett on speed dial. to walk me through a lot of really hard parts. i have you on speed dial. you, her and garrick. it made it possible because, and francis. lord have mercy. it made it possible to be in this world because i felt safe. and i felt like i had people who created this safety net around me.
and you forget you've got to put it out in the world eventually. and then there was brentwho i'm also not going to look at . it's really interesting to write a book about this with a white lady. brandt is my editor you all and it's just the most careful and compassionate thoughtful but will get the machete out in a minute and be like i know you love this but i cut this thousand words . i think you're going to like it better though. i just had wonderful people around me who made it possible to be more. >> who is this for, for you or for us? >> is how we came. i guess it was from me. i hope you will appreciateit but it was just how it came. i literally don't know if i could have written it any
other way . there were some things i went back and took out after it was all written but that would be first, and garrett. get it all out. just get it out. >> i do want to add, i'm going to ask brendan to say a few words and garrick to say a few words. before we do that, i got to wrap it up. i want to say this. in front of our community, because i was feeling i think the reason i was emotional reading it not just because you're my sister and i love you and there was a different way that it landed on me was because i know you . i'vebeen with you . i've been in black box, i've been everywhere. i'm not even laughing. someone would, and tell you there #metoo stories on the streets and you'd hold their hands and give them a little faith and then we move on. how much more are you supposed to carry on your shoulders?
for us and i'm saying that in the context of if you thought those people love you, when they read this book i can only imagine what it might look like now. for someone to read these words and see you on the street and come again and again, it's no shame . they really are trying to connect and thank you because this is going to wake some things up for the good but what i'm saying to you and us is you have to create a protective force field around you. you cannot, you have given us enough with these words. it's not your responsibility to hold our hand and walk us through them. >> i love you for that and appreciate the way a lot of you all for like both ron around me. i have to say there's something you know, a lot of you all know i've had conversations.
i had to figure out why this happened to me. i know people who do this work. i know organizers just amazing people. why did this happen to me and the only thing. >> the only place that i could live is this is my assignment. and people, i think about michael has a home where she talked about the courage of people . people often accuse me of being courageous but i really feel beautiful. it feels like it's this is what i'm here for. not to be held up, not just being coming here. i'm not tryingto say that . but there is a part of me
that feels a sense of duty and so i just try to balance that. don't do that. don't do that. >> i hear you and still. we'll talk later. i hear what you're saying. and i respect your duty as you feel it. i'm just saying, you can't hold everybody. >> i'm not trying to. >> what you do. >> i'm just saying, will talk about it later. i want to witness this to know . she won't smile. [laughter] >> i can't standyou. they're trying to pull all soft things but i have to hear from garrick . can you do that?
you can come forward if you want to . >> tarana named you. as your book due up. and she gives you so much honor. for making these words come alive. and i give you the same honor because you yourself are phenomenal writer of your own. but your words and your thoughts and her words and her thoughts, you can share anything you'd like to do what i want to know is what was it like to hold her hand, to hold her hand throughthis process . >> which way do you want me to go? first, we are here. it's finished. you're holding it. people have it. and i just can't tell you how
proud i am of you because it was november 2018. we were in palm springs. you were about to have this amazing speech that you gave and it was the first conversation we had about this book. this one here sent me all these links . that work all over the place. it was lots of fun. lots of feelings, lots of journals and she had everything mapped out, various versions of it and the conversation was like how do we make this a book and also how do we make this you want to tell the story that you feel you want to share and i wanted to protect that because i had the great honor of watching her and the world work and watching not just women but so many people come up to you after you give a speech for you were giving a talk and share.
and i know what that feels like and i know how much of that you hold when you leave and when we get in the car and go back to the hotel. and get food. so i really wanted to protect not only that person who was showing up in so many ways but also for the little girl i know you wanted to really pay honor to in such a way. so the question of how to hold our hand was really just being accountable and being accountable to her but also really i don't know, sitting in this trust that you gave me which i cannot believe you would do give somebody trust of your entire story another person as well. and just like i think many times i have to tell you just tell the story. you can worry about everything later. she was so concerned about how the people in her life feel about these pages and we
had lotsof fights about that . >> we've about a lot of things. i think she got alittle tired of my questions and my prompts . >> he's so sweet and you see this lovely, but garrick was commuting with me and we got to the end of the book and i said to himi said what do you think ? idon't like it . >> that's true. >> i was quite hurt. because usually it's like you know, i would send this back to you to take a look at what i said. just rework it. think about this, think about that and this time it was like how do you like it. i don't. >> it's true, i did use those words but i use those words because those were the moments when i saw how afraid she was to share her truth. and i didn't want her to run away from that. first of all because unlike
you've got all this money for this book deal. you have to tell the truth but also because i know how much she wanted to free herself and free everybody. and what is in this final book. i am so proud of but i am also so happy you did. because there were times when we had a late night and it was like i know this is going tomake it . we should just tear the whole thing down. you have the manager being somebody is going to have to write a book . >> a.k.a. merv. merv is would come in with a text message. let me tell you what's going to happen . we need to expand your script . so i just come in and manage this for you and garrick could get together. i said we're working on. okay, because i can hire some people. she was adamant, she was not going to go straight. she wanted to write your own book. >> honest somebody goes right
your life . >> take that back. >> if you're a writer. >> it happens. >> let me move on. >> that's one last thing i wanted to say is one, please get this book . please read it but also really love this woman for what she has done and for what she has given the world and what she continues to give even when she's tired, when she doesn't want to do any of it anymore and you still keep giving and i am just so excited for the next thing. it does a the first memoir so maybe there's more but i want you to consider that deeply becausewe didn't survive this long .i am very proud of you and i love you so much. >> can isay one thing, garrick has a book coming out . garrick, for those that don't know garrick kennedy is a decorated journalist, formerly of the la times. now he writes for all kinds of things.
he does all these cover stories in his book is about the definitive book on whitney houston. amazing. it talks. come on. >> february 1 but if you wanted to write that . >> can you jump up your quickly looking at me. come on, share something. when is his editor. fresh as the microphone. what was it like to hold tarana's hand for this? >> congratulations. >> since the first meeting. >> that's incredible. i think holding tarana's hand was more an exercise in keeping up with you. because as everyone here
knows, tarana is an absolute force and when i sat in that acquisition meeting she me dead in the eye and said who is this girl? she said i don't just want to tell my story. i want to be a literary writer. i want to write every single word of this book. so holding your hand through this process honestly was watching a world-class global shipping movement building activist transform into one of the most beautiful literary writers i have ever worked with . as garrick says get the book, read it and you'll see yourself. every sentence is so masterfully crafted and all of the words comparisons to maya angelou, it's just true and peopleneed to read the book . but as is true in every editorial process there are always challenges and i think
for us of the things was to make a for those moments of joy . that's you to have talked about this amazing conversation . there's so much happiness and prompted in this book. so many stories that are heartbreaking and then you put our hearts back together again and their meaningful and they needed to be in there but there were also the stories that i was like this is laugh out loud funny as we need to find where it is going to go amidst all the other things that are building towards this incredible moment. and i want to say still my favorite lines. you being called out for wearing jeans. i think we had maybe an hour long call that was like we can't this. but where does it go in the narrative and needs to be in there. tarana was like no, this isn't going. this is goingto be one of your cuts . but he first met fred at college.you guys early start about the difference of being from the bronx versus top or the northeast.
and then i think my absolute favorite is the moment where you can find a tim wearing poser from mount vernon, my college party forcing you look like carrots long and you shouted at him fromacross the room , call me whatever you want as long asyou still know i'm number one . [laughter] and all those things. again, laugh out loud funny but it was so important even though it was challenging to get those moments in there because they the complexity of trauma and how much people stories are varied and the ways that we go in and out of life from the depth of humanity and that's what the movement is about. i'm just so thankful that we got over those tales i got those things in there. congratulations on this amazing book . you found joy in the story
and i hope you find joy in thispublication process . >> thank you ren and it's time. okay. be safe. so if you have a glass in your hand, if you have a glass in your head let's focus. a real one. here you go. what are we toasting to? what are your hopes for this book? what are your dreams for this book. >> my hopes for this book, well. in the beginning of the book i have a dedication. and a dedication says for melinda who never knew freedom. i did a lot of research in the beginning of the pandemic
and i discovered an ancestor who i've become completely accepted. she is my great-grandmother and she never knew freedom. and so part of the dedication says for belinda who never knew freedom. for kia. so you always have freedom. for heaven who is the little girl who changed my life. for helpingme find freedom . and for money. so they're all you film freaks. and so at the very back of the book, the last art. is a picture, people won't know the significance of this but this picture is of me, it's from christmas of 1980. and 1979. when i was trying to figure
out by putting the pieces together of what happened to me when i was little. this was a picture that helped me figure it out because it was cold i was in and i was assaulted and this is when i first got it. this picture has always represented before to me. this is who i was before. all the joy in my face, all the happiness. so i said for you, tarana so that you finally know freedom . congratulations. [cheering] >> tank you all for joining us. i love you, the rest of the time for drinking, dancing. just having a good time.
and musician bruce springsteen described their relationships and often offer thoughts on politics as a companion to their podcast the renegade plus wrapping up a look at nonfiction books is the book of hope: from scientists and conservation conservationist jane goodall on what it means to be hopeful in trying times. some authors have appeared on tv and you can watch their programs anytime. >> i'm robert doerr, president of ai and i'm happy to welcome you to this terrific conversation with three wonderful people. i want to start out by mentioning the person who made us do this and get it done and get it done fast and kept us inspired that's sally frizzell. when i first came to aei when i was eight years ago the second scholar i met after the great john makin was alice and she welcomed me to this wonderful community so