Full Transcript: Racy Conversations Founder Karen Fleshman On GHOGH Podcast

Full Transcript: Racy Conversations Founder Karen Fleshman On GHOGH Podcast

Karen Fleshman
Karen Fleshman, the founder of Racy Conversations speaks to Jamarlin Martin in this episode of the GHOGH podcast. Photo: Anita Sanikop

In the tenth episode of the GHOGH podcast, Jamarlin Martin speaks to Karen Fleshman, founder of Racy Conversations.

The lawyer and activist talks about women of privilege exploiting civil rights and diversity movements, and whether Kamala Harris can be trusted on criminal justice reform. They also discuss Facebook’s problems, and whether these can be primarily sourced to Mark Zuckerberg’s and Sheryl Sandberg’s values and ethics.

You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 10: Karen Fleshman

Jamarlin talks with Karen Fleshman, founder of Racy Conversations. The lawyer and activist talks about women of privilege exploiting civil rights and diversity movements, and whether Kamala Harris can be trusted on criminal justice reform.

This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jamarlin Martin:  You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let’s GHOGH! We have Karen Fleshman, the founder of Racy Conversations. How’s it going, Karen?

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Karen Fleshman: It’s going great, Jamarlin.

Jamarlin Martin: So we’re in the belly of the beast. We’re in Silicon Valley. A place that I believe is the modern day capital of white supremacy.

Karen Fleshman: I would agree.

Jamarlin Martin: You would agree. Karen, dive right in and tell us a little bit about your background and your path to starting racy conversations.

Karen Fleshman: I’ve been a community organizer or since I was in elementary school and I’ve always had a real strong sense of justice and didn’t want anybody to feel excluded. I grew up in an all white community but my best friend immigrated from the former Soviet Union when we were in fifth grade. So I was always on the side of the outsider and her family majorly impacted me. I can assure you I would not be sitting in this room with you had she not been my friend. I got very interested in a Latin American studies and the wars in Central America and I wanted to become a development economist, but I wound up deciding that I really wanted to focus on my society and in our problems, and the early part of my career was in the immigrants rights movement and helping immigrants become citizens. I later was working for the city of New York when reports came out that said 50 percent of black men in New York City don’t have a job and we have 200,000 young adult New Yorkers almost entirely black and Latin X who are not in school, not working. This was in the early 2000s and I completely shifted focus to workforce development. I thought the answer was job training and internships and connecting people to employment. And I dedicated a solid 10 years of my career to that, moved to the Bay Area, continued that line of work. And then in 2014 a couple of things happened. One was Ferguson and specifically the non-indictment of Darren Wilson. That was a major turning point for me when I realized that no matter how active people were, there was so much white supremacy in our society that it was really difficult to get any progress made toward police accountability. A couple weeks after that I was having brunch with two young women who I am close with, Bay area natives who graduated from the job training program I used to work for and we’re working in tech and they were telling me, Karen, you know, we’re very grateful for our careers and our lifestyles, but we are microaggressed at these companies nonstop, even while they put us all over their marketing material, like, look at all the great stuff we’re doing for the community. Their own managers were saying things to them like, oh, you know, we only hired you because you’re black. And that just really turned my stomach. At that point, my job was doing student outreach for this program…

Jamarlin Martin: So you’re white, you’re on the inside, people feel comfortable talking to you, and you kind of observed blatant racism against black people.

Karen Fleshman: That’s it, on the inside through their eyes, and to realize that I was a tool of that, that I was like sending young people into these very harmful environments made me just say, I can’t do this anymore. I have to start to change those environments if young people are going to go off and work in them and how can I do that? Oh, I know there’s a lot of white people on LinkedIn. I’m just going to start blogging on LinkedIn about racism. And then the blog I wrote after Charleston went viral, that led to blogging on Huffington Post. That led to doing workshops.

Jamarlin Martin: It seems like it’s taboo on LinkedIn. You come there, you can find a job network for you to bang your activism on Linkedin. It seems like it goes against most people’s objective of using LinkedIn, however, your path is aligned with that.

Karen Fleshman
Karen Fleshman is the founder of Racy Conversations and is a racial equity trainer and government accountability activist striving to build and support a community of people committed to love, learning, accountability, and action on race in America. Her mission is to inspire the first antiracist generation in the United States.

Karen Fleshman: Professionally. And I’ve been able to connect. I have built a national network largely of women of color who share my same beliefs and are doing incredible work all across the country. And so I’ve been able to go across the country co-hosting inter-racial sisterhood conversations and convening these women from all different backgrounds to talk about overcoming racism and white supremacy and ending the racial divides among women, and white women taking accountability.

Jamarlin Martin: Talk a little bit about your academic background.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. So I’m a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, an all women’s college, which is a fantastic education. Shirley Chisholm was a professor there. It was just a great place to go to school. And then I went on to University of Texas for my master’s degree in radio, TV, film. And then while working for the city of New York on the mayor’s graduate scholarship, I attended law school at night and a four-year program. And I graduated and took the bar and I’m admitted to practice law in New York.

Jamarlin Martin: Share with the audience the goal of Racy Conversations.

Karen Fleshman: The goal of Racy Conversations is to flip the 10 percent of white millennials and white generation Z to anti-racism. So we can have a majority anti-racist generation. So the millennials, 43 percent of them are people of color, generation Z. 47 percent are people of color. So if we can reach 10 percent of the white people in those generations and flip them, then we can have majority anti-racist generation.

Jamarlin Martin: I questioned you before in saying that I don’t see a lot of white women in the belly of the beast, in Silicon Valley, close to tech who speak out where, you know, you’re willing to call names years specifically willing to say to white supremacy to say white women, your specific racial category. Why is it or am I missing something? There’s a lot of other folks that I don’t know about who speak with a similar tone.

Karen Fleshman: There are, Freada Kapor, she is outstanding and she is certainly a huge role model and mentor for me. But I would say it’s not just in Silicon Valley, it is a national. I cannot name a single household name, white woman celebrity, elected official, executive, a famous white woman who’s really out there talking about racism and white supremacy. They don’t exist.

Jamarlin Martin: White women don’t bang for black people. They don’t speak out for black people, right? That this is not just in terms of my life. I’m not familiar with white women really speaking out on black issues. Black people, descendants of slaves, you know, we have to go and bang against white women and white men, but it would seem like white women, they’re supposed to be the soft liberals. They’re supposed to be the kind of more progressive group. But I never saw that.

Karen Fleshman: No, I would say white women are the number one enforcers of white supremacy in our society. And we identify with white men and we’re very comfortable in our position of privilege. I would say because we are the ones who maintain the social order. We are the ones who, you know, run the schools and we run the religious institutions and we’re active in non-profit organizations were active in philanthropy and in the workplace, you know, white women are not kind to other women in the workplace and they’re particularly not kind to women of color and to men of color. And I would say the great irony being that the folks who have done the most to advance white women are black men, specifically Fredrick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama all did tremendous things to help white women achieve where we are, which is the number two position in our society, but we don’t have any knowledge of that history and we certainly don’t feel any compulsion to return the favor.

Jamarlin Martin: And then white women go after Trump is questioning Obama’s birth, is citizenship or constantly disrespecting Barack Obama. He’s suggesting Mexican immigrants are rapists. Fifty two percent of white women go and vote for Trump.

Karen Fleshman: That’s the first thing I’ve thought about every morning since November 9th, 2016, and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep and including some of my family members, you know, cousins my age voted for him.

Jamarlin Martin: If 52 percent of white women voted for Trump and you’re saying as a white woman that you’ve just seen a massive amount of racism in the culture from white women. We both know that they don’t really speak out aggressively on oppression, on the issues, never have. Is there a danger with so many black people specifically getting caught up into the Me Too and gender movements and diversity movements that are going on. You know, we’re politically. It’s not advantageous for black people to be so gung ho with these movements where most of the gains are going to go to your oppressor, and that oppressor being white women.

Karen Fleshman: I definitely, you know, I was in Las Vegas for the women’s March when your anniversary and all of the speakers were women of color. There were only a couple of white women, uh, who addressed the, the crowds assembled there and the message was white women step aside and follow the lead of women of color, like until you can get your Becky situation under control, your family members who voted for Trump, all of that, like just get out of the way, get behind us and we’re going to be the leaders. And I think that is the role that white women need to take in these movements is not calling the shots, but bringing our resources and using our resources and influence to support the leadership of women of color. Again, I don’t see a lot of white women stepping into that. Right? I see a lot of passivity on the part of white women and a lot of this kind of devolution into this spiritual framework where like, I’m just gonna practice yoga or, you know, do all this meditation and there’s nothing wrong with yoga meditation or spiritual practices, but I don’t think they are remaining as engaged as we need to be if we’re really going to win the midterms, if we’re really going to take trump down in the 2020 election. I would like to see a much greater engagement on the part of white women that includes a recognition of our own white supremacy and working on ourselves, and overcoming our racism has to be a part of that.

Jamarlin Martin: You made a good point about black women speaking out with the women’s march, however, when you look at the push to diversify Silicon Valley to address the, the, the promiscuous inequality, really white women are at the forefront of that. Would you agree with that?

Karen Fleshman: I would say white women are the number when beneficiaries of the push to diversify Silicon Valley. And there’s been some great leadership, such as, her name is eluding me. The woman from Uber who wrote the blog post detailing all of the employment discrimination she’d experienced at Uber was a major step forward in the movement. But I would say as far as who is leading the drive to diversify Silicon Valley, it’s coming from people of color.

Jamarlin Martin: When I see the Fortune articles, when I see the main stream media going in and interviewing the folks at the VC firms and the VC firms themselves, diversity is really positioned in Silicon Valley, in big tech, is really we have to get more women in the game. And then at the forefront of that, at least when they’re talking, what it sounds like to me is we have to get more white women in the industry.

Karen Fleshman: I would definitely say those are the quote-unquote diverse folks that they are most comfortable with so that that’s their number one go to. But I would also say on the part of white women within tech, there’s not a great deal of leadership, for example, in 2015 I attended one of the major women in tech conferences in Silicon Valley and the panels were all about design thinking to solve problems and preparing for your technical interview and all of these things. So shortly after the election in 2016, there was a call for speakers and panels at this conference for their next edition. And so I submitted a panel of women of color and non-gender-conforming women giving white professional women feedback on how we could be better sisters in the workplace. And my panel was promptly turned down and when I saw the panels that they did have, it was again around design thinking and how to prepare for your technical interview. So it seems like there’s a lot of resistance. Very few white women really want to be challenged. They think that they have struggled really hard for what they have and that they do in some sense, I think, think of themselves as being empathetic with these struggles of other people, but they don’t have any meaningful relationships with them. They don’t sit down for coffee or you know, chit chat at the playground or whatever with people of color whatsoever. So at a distance they have empathy, but they don’t really understand the struggles of people of color and they have extreme white fragility and if confronted, they’ll just turn away because they don’t want it.

Jamarlin Martin: If you like what you’re hearing, you can check us out at Moguldom.com, that’s m o g u l d o m.com. That’s Moguldom.com. We have the latest information on tech, rypto, the business of Hollywood and economic empowerment. You can also check me out on Twitter at Jamarlin Martin. Let’s get back to the podcast. Have you run into any resentment where, ‘Hey Karen. I like what you say, but you’re a white woman’, in terms of from black people where, ‘hey, you know, you’re fighting the good fight, but you’re a white woman. I don’t want him to see a white woman or representing kind of leadership in tackling these issues’. Have you run into any black people who are sceptical or challenged you?

Karen Fleshman: Oh yeah. I’m frequently challenged by black people, which I welcome. I mean, I think it’s an important part of the engagement and it keeps me honest and it keeps me growing and I have mentors who pushed my buttons and really pushed me to humble myself into not center myself and to not think of myself as the end all be all white savior. That is the exact opposite of what I want to be. But yeah, I’m definitely challenged all the time. It’s when you’re in this role, no one is happy with you. White people don’t want to hear from you and a lot of black people don’t want to hear from you either.

Jamarlin Martin: Has this resulted in a lot of doubt in terms of, hey, I’m in the middle here where I’m banging hard against specifically white women and, black people really don’t appreciate me either.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. But I’m not doing this to gain someone’s appreciation. I’m doing this because this is the right thing to do. And I think it’s really, really important that white people hold other white people accountable and point these things out to white people. I think is very important and I’m gonna keep doing it until the day I die. I’m not like dissuaded or whatever. The pushback is not gonna stop me from keeping going. It’s definitely going to cause me to question how I’m doing it and am I doing it right? So for example, you know, when I first started in police accountability activism, I thought that police could be reformed and all this stuff and the longer I stay in, the more I’m convinced they can’t be. But when I first heard people saying, oh, we got to abolish the police and start over all this stuff, I thought that’s too radical, like, that can never happened. And now I’m like, oh my gosh, they are 100 percent right. That’s what we need to be working on.

Jamarlin Martin: You originally wrote a great piece about the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s assassination in that white women need to step up big time. Can you talk a little bit about your piece? What inspired you to write that, and walk the audience through the key points you touched on?

Karen Fleshman: Yeah, but I think one of my major frustrations is that white women, people in general in our society have very limited understanding of our country’s history, and very limited understanding of how deep white supremacy. Racism is what our society is based on, what our economy is based on, but in particular that white women somehow think that it was the feminist movement that got women legal protection from discrimination. But it wasn’t, it was Dr King and black people. They, at tremendous personal risk, you know, people lost their lives, they were jailed, they couldn’t, they struggled to feed their families, lead this movement to get a law passed banning discrimination, and at the last minute gender was added to that law, it wasn’t even going to be in there and 50 years later the number of beneficiaries of that law are white women. Meanwhile, during the civil rights movement, a handful of us engaged in it, many of us were very antagonistic to civil rights and most of us were just kind of ambivalent in the middle. And then who earns the most, like we, we earn eighty three cents to the dollar that white men make, but Latin next women are making fifty six cents. Black women are making sixty five cents.

Jamarlin Martin: Have you heard of any legislation here in California targeted at venture capitalists, VC firms, that would force them to disclose the racial makeup, age makeup and gender makeup of their founders that they’re investing. Have you heard anything about that here? As you know, there’s been a promiscuous amount of discrimination across pretty much every financial category, mortgages, rental, housing discrimination, auto lending, pretty much the discrimination has been proven, the systemic discrimination has been proven over and over again. But why hasn’t liberal California for a VC firms to disclose, document the racial makeup, gender makeup, age makeup of their investments?

Karen Fleshman: I would not call California, quote-unquote liberal or progressive, San Francisco certainly not. If you go back to 1963, James Baldwin made a documentary about racism in San Francisco. There is still 100 percent applicable to today. There’s a great article in the New York Times just this past weekend by an ex-Californian.

Jamarlin Martin: It sounds like you’re saying Frisco is known for being extremely liberal, but when it comes to race, no.

Karen Fleshman: Exactly. And look at the push too on the tech companies to disclose their numbers…

Jamarlin Martin: It’s like pulling teeth out at Google, right? Google, as many of you know out there, is under federal investigation for discriminatory practices in terms of the pay gap between men and women.

Karen Fleshman: And that push did not come from California. It was Jesse Jackson who came in and pushed the tech companies to disclose their numbers. They would not disclose their numbers.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. So the gender issue at Google, you source it to Jesse Jackson actually?

Karen Fleshman: The gender issue at Google, you know, that is also what friends of mine who are employment discrimination and attorneys, they can’t even do wage differential class suits for people of color because there’s so few people of color that it’s not statistically significant. They exclusively focus on women in these wage gap lawsuits because there’s just enough of them that you can have a meaningful lawsuit, if that makes sense. I think it’s two separate different categories, but I will not say any California-elected official at any time is going to be like, oh, let me take up the mantle of racial equality. For example, we have some of the worst police brutality in the whole country. We have 22,000 police officers and correctional officers statewide allied in this massive lobbying force that keeps police in California some of the most protected in the entire country, stronger than what they have in Alabama. So the idea that California is like this progressive place fails when it comes to race, and look at the 2008 economic downturn. Where did that emanate out of? Subprime mortgage lending in California. That’s it. All those people of color lost their homes, lost all their equity, and then who owns their home now? Probably BlackRock. Exactly. Yeah. None of those guys went to jail.

Jamarlin Martin: Tony Robbins recently made a statement and then apologized. He said that women in the Me Too movement are looking to gain significance. When I read it, obviously a bad choice of words and even worse timing for those words.

Karen Fleshman: And in the video of him, he’s like physically intimidating the woman who is questioning him.

Jamarlin Martin: OK, wow. Part of me says, ‘hey, in looking at black activism and looking at black churches, black politics, there’s always been people who come in with agendas. They’re looking to make money. Black people looking to make money off of, not to Me Too women, but let’s call it the hashtag black movement, right? So we’ve seen it over and over again where folks come in, they’re not genuine, but they’re looking to use racism, racial divisions to pimp the real movement. The black community has elements of this. Would it be wrong for a man to say, ‘hey, of course to me to movement is going to have people who are insincere and they’re looking to profit off of the movement’, or does that discussion need to wait? Does that discussion need to wait for this to kind of filter through the culture?

Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I mean, I do think it’s wrong for a man, especially for a man of Tony Robbins’ enormous influence.

Jamarlin Martin: Let’s take him to the side.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. I mean if, if, if that converts, for example, I would never talk about black people pimping. That’s not my place in society, right? My place in society is to uplift the people doing good work and the people struggling for justice and whoever, other people within the community can take down the bad actors within that community. So before any man rushes in to say, um, there’s bad actors in the Me Too movement. The first step is to uplift the good actors in the Me Too movement. And, and of course, in any, in any opportunity, there may be one or two people who are using this for personal gain, but they are so far the minority. And this is such an incredibly painful problem that so many women have experienced for so long and remain silent on it, that to say that they’re coming forward out of some kind of personal gain is just completely inappropriate.

Jamarlin Martin: His words were totally out of whack and it sounded like he wanted to suggest that the majority of women are looking to gain significance, as he says.

Karen Fleshman: And when you hear men saying that, it makes you question everything about them. Like, why would they be talking about that?

Jamarlin Martin: Meaning like, ‘hey, could this guy have something in his past where this guy may have done some things’.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah, and that’s why he’s using that language.

Jamarlin Martin: Mark Zuckerberg today testified before Congress. He wasn’t sure he was going to testify before Congress, coming after the Cambridge Analytica controversy, but he agreed to testify. Is Sheryl Sandberg a role model for you?

Karen Fleshman: Not at all.

Jamarlin Martin: When she was waving the Lean In flag. This is how you should think about progressing and making it up, the ladder. Did that resonate with you back then when that book came out?

Karen Fleshman: I’m not going to lie, it did. A couple of things. Working with so many young adults who’ve worked in tech companies and have experienced such harmful toxic environments including at Facebook has really given me pause, like why is she writing this book for women all over the world, but she’s not focused on creating that kind of environment at Facebook when people in marginalized groups can really thrive. Wouldn’t you take care of your own domain first. And the other thing is just really seeing, you know, I post on the Lean In community all the time about interracial sisterhood and let’s all get together and let’s get to know each other and all this stuff and I get like zero traction within that community. I see very little leadership on the interracial sisterhood and when I go back and read like what Audre Lorde had to say about this or Bell Hooks has to say about this, and then look back at Lean In, I realize it’s so whitewashed out.

Jamarlin Martin: She’s not a role model you think?

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. She’s clearly had a very incredible career and I liked that she has a mixture of public service and executive leadership, and around the issues of like balancing motherhood and work and stuff like that certainly. But around the overall issues of women in the workplace, I think she represents a very narrow viewpoint and she has very little curiosity about expanding the viewpoint and becoming an advocate for all women in the workplace.

Jamarlin Martin: She recently pulled out of an interview with ABC because she had a relationship with George Stephanopoulos, and they gave the interview to someone else. Many people thought they were going to be more critical, and I heard an interview about a week ago, she was questioned on NBC and she says, ‘hey, the people don’t like what we’re doing about our privacy and our data, you know, we would have to go on a … direction. I know that Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, they’re very scripted. They’re very kind of PR-heavy when we know when they talk, you know, it seems like they lack empathy and humanity and getting everything needs to be scripted. But this interviewer actually got Sheryl to really speak her mind. Like the first thing she says, when being questioned about users getting their privacy back is you got to pay for it. Even if that’s the business position, your consciousness is kinda like, or maybe just from a PR perspective, like, it’s not the right time to talk about that. But I feel like people got insight to Sheryl’s soul, and that people are going to find out as this Facebook story plays out, that Facebook can’t be fixed, that you can’t have a program, you can’t invest millions and millions of dollars, billions of dollars in security, when the regulators, the EU, the advertisers, the consumer, whenever one forensically goes into this organization, they’re going to see that the problem with Facebook really boils down to Mark and Sheryl’s personality. It’s a cultural problem. So these people would not be the appropriate people to fix something of that scale. Would you agree with that?

Karen Fleshman: You know, I was very involved here in San Francisco in the struggle to unseat our previous chief of police and we were successful in getting him fired. And then the question became ‘who’s going to replace him?’ And the mayor at the time really strongly supported having an internal candidate to become the new chief of police. And we demanded, no, it has to be an external candidate. You can’t reform a culture that’s having this type of cultural problems, with an internal leadership candidate. You have to bring someone from the outside, because the people who are already there can’t see the problem and they are part of the problem.

Jamarlin Martin: Ya, that came up on a prior show, where a lot of Fortune 500 companies will bring in strategy consultants to get a fresh look at something. They want an unbiased analysis of a big problem within an organisation. You outsource it, you need someone fully independent. I feel like when I hear your Zuckerbergs, your Sandbergs, your Marc Andreessens, your Silicon Valley white establishment, they’re so smart, they’re so successful. ‘We can fix this’. A, they just have an attitude where we know the proper way to define a diversity. It’s all about cognitive diversity. It sounds like they’re teaching a black executives who come into these diversity roles at Apple and Facebook, that cognitive diversity, that’s what it’s all about. You can have a room of 10 white men in the same room and still have diversity. A black woman, a diversity executive of Apple, she was given her walking papers for most likely just saying what Tim Cook and a lot of the leaders at apple told her to say, but she didn’t understand her role was probably a very concentrated with PR.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. To outwardly project a different image and message. A friend of mine coined the term ‘diversity theater’ where you have all the trappings of diversity while continuing to operate in the exact same way you’ve always operated.

Jamarlin Martin: So big question – in terms of inequality at the big tech level, in terms of these institutions exacerbating wealth and call a programming, disruption in a way where I don’t care what happens, I don’t care who gets hurt, I just need to kill my competitors and create a lot of. Well, you can worry about that stuff later. What steps do you take to really address these big and complex issues?

Karen Fleshman: Well, I think R Buckminster Fuller was 100 percent right where you can’t reform something that’s already been created. It’s better to create something new and make the old obsolete. And so I think you see that with entrepreneurs like yourself, like Morgan DeBaun, folks who are saying, you know what, I’m going to create my own thing. Trying to fix these old platforms is really not a worthy investment of my life.

Jamarlin Martin: What about from a political perspective? Let’s start here in the state of California. I know the Silicon Valley lobbyists, they have a big wallet. They have compromised politicians, including Barack Obama. I believe that the wallets out of Silicon Valley really clawed into a Barack Obama, they ran his campaign and they were in his administration, a lot of Facebook folks, a lot of people left Barack Obama’s administration to go work at Facebook to go to the Silicon Valley overlords such as, Eric holder, who I believe two years ago was getting two big checks out of Silicon Valley, similar to how things work on Wall Street. And you leave government and you go to Wall Street. Obviously this has implications in terms of integrity of the democracy in the United States. Where do you begin from a policy perspective? Uh, let’s start here in California. What needs to be done in terms of the politicians and combating how much power and influence Google and Facebook has and they’re spending money on lobbying, trying to suppress people like yourself. In terms of promoting … that’s really in the best interest of the masses, not necessarily money.

Karen Fleshman: Yeah. Well good luck on. It is all about the power of the people. And we, the people have to educate ourselves and build movements. Politicians are never. What Frederick Douglas said, power concedes nothing without a demand. Like politicians are not going to just say, ‘Oh, let me take on the cause of antitrust on tech companies’. We, the people have to demand that. And I think the tech workers themselves, it’s been really interesting to see more tech workers become engaged politically, and starting to change that. So for example, we have a very active democratic socialists of America chapter here in San Francisco, a lot of millennial tech workers and they’re getting very, very engaged. So I think that’s how the change is going to happen. It’s not going to be because an elected official wakes up one day and says, let’s start to bring these companies down.

Jamarlin Martin: Have you heard anything about … Cory Booker, Kamala Harris a, it looks like the elites and corporate democrats are positioning them for a 2020, but have they spoken out against the establishment and Silicon Valley?

Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I haven’t heard anything. I myself have had personal interactions with Kamala Harris around police accountability that have been extremely frustrating.

Jamarlin Martin: I just read something that frankly she’s a, a fake on criminal justice reform

Karen Fleshman: Completely. We tried to pressure her to come in and do a pattern and practice investigation of the San Francisco Police Department and she said I’m gonna wait for the Department of Justice to issue its recommendations and if they don’t, if they don’t implement them, then I’ll decide whether or not I’m going to act knowing full well that by the time the recommendations came out, she would already be in Washington. You know, I admire her. I admire Cory Booker greatly.  I think they are fantastic individuals and I would be, you know, I would love for Camela Harris to become the president of the United States.

Jamarlin Martin: How could you see that without knowing who she would be running against? So when you say that you would love Kamala Harris to be present in United States, but given a, at least in my view, her positions are not authentically progressive and she’s part of a wing of the Democratic Party, that, is not going to get the people there that there could be something better. It doesn’t matter if it’s a, at least in my perspective, I don’t care if that leader is a white Latino, Asian, I don’t care about their gender as much as this country’s and in such a dire state, uh, that, uh, we have to be careful in terms of how we price in our tribal politics. Yeah. I’m, I’m just wondering, Hey, how can you say you would be glad if Kamala Harris as president, it’s because she’s a woman or she’s a female Democrat and that’s why or…

Karen Fleshman: Well because she’s a woman, women of color from the bay area, those types of things. You know, saying that my police accountability activist friends would be very unhappy with me for saying that when I came out publicly

Jamarlin Martin: Saying these are black people in the bay, in the trenches, they do not give Kamala a lot of credibility with police reform here in the trenches.

Karen Fleshman: I’m hearing the trenches now. The reason why, because I don’t see who the alternative is, right? I don’t see another leader emerging that’s going to be running against Bernie Sanders. I would definitely go for Kamala Harris. I, yeah, no, I mean, Bernie Sanders to me, I’m like, I just don’t like angry white guys running things, especially who’s supporters are largely angry white guys.

Jamarlin Martin: Hopefully the aggressive run someone better than Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.

Karen Fleshman: Listen, I feel like our society is in decline and it’s really difficult for whoever becomes president to reverse the course of income inequality, racial inequality, police militarization. You know, the police guns, they’re all on one side, the prison industrial complex. So it’s I don’t understand why more are not alarmed and an active on the police accountability activism because we are really moving, we are becoming a police state when you see tanks rolling down the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson and if police really were so concerned about their safety, wouldn’t they be the number one proponents of gun control and getting guns off the street, but instead they are, they say keep sending us more military equipment, gives us stronger and the Obama administration gave that to them, you know, and, and it’s, it’s terrifying to me. So we moved into society where 20 percent of the people control 95 percent of the wealth and that’s not enough like the, they want more. This does not end well. And you have like this very militarized police in the middle designed to, to keep that system in place. We need really strong leadership to change the course of that,

Jamarlin Martin: I’d like to thank the founder of Racy Conversations. You can check her out on Twitter. You want to give us your handle?

Karen Fleshman: Yes. I’m @FleishmanKaren, www.racyconversations.com.

Jamarlin Martin: Thank you for coming on the show.

Karen Fleshman: Thank you very much Jamarlin. You’re one of my favorite people and it’s lovely to meet your wonderful producer, Anita. I’m so excited to be here. It’s an honor to be on your show.

Jamarlin Martin: Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out at Jamarlin Marin on Twitter, and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s m o g u l d o m.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter for information on crypto tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!

This interview has been edited for clarity.