Full Transcript: Lawyer-Activist Karen Fleshman On GHOGH Podcast
In episode 27 of the GHOGH podcast, Jamarlin Martin talks to lawyer-activist Karen Fleshman, who returns to the GHOGH show to discuss why white folks call the cops on innocent Black folks and whether an ambiguous diversity concept helps empower BBQ Beckies and Permit Patties.
They also discuss the Kavanaugh nomination, economist Thomas Sowell, and the risks of increased online censorship.
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 Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 27: Karen Fleshman
Jamarlin talks to lawyer-activist Karen Fleshman about why white folks call the cops on innocent Black folks and whether an ambiguous diversity concept helps empower BBQ Beckies and Permit Patties.
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’re thankful to have Karen Fleshman back on the GHOGH show. We’re going to dive right in. To get Karen’s story, you want to go to episode 10. How’s it going, Karen?
Karen Fleshman: It’s going great Jamarlin. Super excited to be here with you.
Jamarlin Martin: Karen is the founder and CEO of Racy Conversations and she’s also a lawyer and activist. We’re just going to dive into some interesting topics. The first thing, I haven’t really discussed this on the GHOGH show. What is up with your people calling the police on Black folks? So I’m talking about Permit Patty, BBQ Becky and now it seems like there’s a new cultural phenomenon where Black folks know to start recording when we’re observing or we’re being victimized by white folks and racists. But what’s going on there in terms of white people that just love to call the police on us?
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. I think this is not a recent phenomena, right? This has been going on for a long time.
Jamarlin Martin: I guess my point is more of it being exported to social media in terms of the coverage of it.
Karen Fleshman: Certainly the coverage of it has increased and I’m no sociologist and I’m not tracking the actual incidents, but I think now it’s a copycat phenomenon where people are like, “oh, I’m going to do that too”. That’s the only way I can explain why there seems to be so much of this activity concentrated. And I think it’s also very much a sign of the time that we’re in when you have a white supremacist running the entire United States and Jeff Sessions in charge of the Department of Justice, etc. It is giving license to racists to feel like they can use the police as their personal racism concierge.
Jamarlin Martin: They’ve been doing this before Trump and before Jeff Sessions.
Karen Fleshman: Yes. I think the social media makes us more aware of it happening. But I also think just looking at why are white women in particular, so compelled to want to control black people for such an absurd reasons, like you’re taking a nap in the dorm, I’m going to call the police on you. You’re barbecuing in an unauthorized area. What is going on with them psychologically? And I think they are very miserable people and they’re resentful and they’re jealous of black people’s community, sense of joy, all of this. And that’s why this deep-seated resentment is what is coming out in these phone calls to the police. I really can’t think of any other explanation for it because why would you do something like that?
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. I’ve talked a lot about the negative impact of technology and big tech, but the idea of scaling that Rodney King video to where every day almost someone is being exposed, someone is being fired, a company’s being held accountable, where the social media platforms are being weaponized in a good way by black people to expose and shame racists across the country. I think culturally this thing is going to accelerate and it is a form of reverse police. And what I mean by that is that police have been arresting us, harassing us, killing us, and you’ll just hear complaints, there’s protests, but if you’re able to scale the visualization of it every day, if you’re able to scale that and throw it back into the community and America’s face, and allow people to communicate about these issues, there’s something to fire back at the police with. But I think it’s a positive thing.
Karen Fleshman: I agree with you. Unfortunately, it’s only like three out of every thousand police slayings that actually result in a conviction of an officer. Unfortunately, we have really bad laws starting with a supreme court decision, Graham v Connor, that grant police tremendous discretion in the amount of use of force that they apply in these situations. Different communities can decide to adopt a higher use of force standard, but that would only apply to actually disciplining the officers and terminating them. It wouldn’t result in them getting criminally convicted, and until there’s criminal convictions… I believe there’s no way to currently reform the police in America.
Jamarlin Martin: I believe Permit Patty and BBQ Becky, these incidents have been in the Bay Area.
Karen Fleshman: Yes.
Jamarlin Martin: Both are white women. One white woman, I believe was a professional at Stanford University. Do you think that there’s a correlation with these events with white women, particularly in the Bay, that you have to believe that, hey, these are the incidents that people were able to film, but there’s a lot more of this stuff out there. And so these incidents are happening in the Bay. If people in the tech space are pushing this ambiguous diversity term, could Black people inadvertently be pushing the BBQ Becky, the Permit Patty into this kind of white women affirmative action where if Black people are championing an ambiguous diversity concept, that the beneficiaries of that are going to be people who most likely skew more towards a tech version of BBQ Becky, a tech version of a Permit Patty, and so this is why I would say is that Black people can no longer wave an ambiguous diversity flag because the people who are going to benefit from that in terms of economically, in terms of professionally, you can’t help the BBQ Becky and the Permit Patty systematically, push them. They don’t need your help. And so I believe we have to call out our own agenda in terms of black empowerment.
Karen Fleshman: I agree wholeheartedly. As we talked about in the last episode, the whole reason why we have employment discrimination protections is because of Black people leading the civil rights movement at tremendous personal risk. And then the number one beneficiaries of employment discrimination laws are white women. And then we get what we want and then were like peace out. It’s all good, and we still see the same percent, two percent black employees, three percent Latin X employees in tech year after year after year, after they spend how many millions of dollars on these diversity initiatives. And to your point about the liberal Bay…
Jamarlin Martin: The so called Liberal Bay,
Karen Fleshman: Yes, the so called Liberal Bay which I call the modern day capital of white supremacy. Black family friends of mine were moving into a white neighborhood in Oakland and someone called the cops on them, saying that they thought that they were breaking into the house. So this pattern has been going on in the Bay for a long time. I think the Bay, it’s particularly heightened because of all of the gentrification and the newcomers to San Francisco. So I’m part of that wave. My family moved there in 2012 because my ex-husband was recruited to work for a startup. So there’s tons of people like me moving to the Bay who have grown up in very conservative, much less diverse environments. And now all of a sudden they’re living in this very politicized, very liberal place. And the Black and Brown people are being driven out of the communities that they built. I would argue the reason why the Bay is such a center of innovation is because we were a destination of the underground railroad. We were a center of gay liberation. We were a center of the original sanctuary cities movement, of the farm workers movement, the feminists, the Black Panthers, all of this social movement originated in the Bay. That’s what created the space for us to be a center of innovation. And now the very people who who made that happen are being forced out of these communities, only to be replaced by bland, white, college educated professionals like me who are moving to the Bay for the limitless career opportunities that are available to us. Whereas the only thing they can get is perhaps working as a security guard or a receptionist or a custodian at one of these tech companies. And when they do get those jobs, they’re not as full blown employees of the tech company. They are as subcontractors. So they don’t get any of the benefits. They don’t get any of the stock options. It’s very low wage employment and something like 20 percent of the children in Silicon Valley are homeless, so people are living in their cars to be able to work at these tech companies because they can’t afford the housing, and they’re getting paid just subsistence…
Jamarlin Martin: Is that an exaggeration, in terms of that’s a systemic problem, where the Facebook employee or the Google employee, they are sleeping in cars.
Karen Fleshman: So I’m saying the contractors to Facebook who are working in the cafeteria, working as custodians, those folks are the ones that I’m talking about, because the full fledged Facebook employee who moved here from wherever it was that they were coming are driving up the rent so high that the people who are providing these services can’t afford to live there.
Jamarlin Martin: I want to share with you a great company called TopTal. This is a company that I use if you’re in the market for a freelancer, whether it’s an engineer or designer, this is one of the leading companies that is going to help you identify and hire top freelancing talent. You can go to https://moguldom.com/toptal/. Click on that link and register and someone will get right back to you to get more information. Be sure to check out TopTal. Let’s play a game. Three people who are the best representation of public figures, of what is wrong with America. I’ll go first. Donald trump.
Karen Fleshman: I agree.
Jamarlin Martin: Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian. And comprehensively in terms of 30 years from now when people look back on this generation and what’s going on and how the culture is evolving, what public figures best manifest the defects culturally, psychologically in America?
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I would add Sheryl Sandberg.
Jamarlin Martin: Your top three.
Karen Fleshman: So I love your top three, but I don’t want to duplicate. So, who are the people who drive me the most crazy? I would say my top three. Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen. I would argue that Trump would not be in office if it had not been for Kellyanne Conway, and she was instrumental in his election. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a woman who can get up there and just tell outrageous lies, and there have been moments when you could see that the woman does have some semblance of humanity. Like when a child reporter asked her about school shootings and she teared up, but then she continues to go out there day after day and defend a defenseless administration. And then Kirstjen Nielsen, a woman who, even as she’s separating children and their families and denying that it’s happening, then feels that she can go and have dinner in a posh Mexican restaurant. So I think these women, and the fact that they’re willing to support someone with such open misogyny, and to encourage other other women to support him, and the fact that 53 percent of white women voted for him. I think this is something hundreds of years from now, people are going to be wondering what was going on with them.
Jamarlin Martin: With Trump, it’s easy to neatly say that, hey, this is the problem. He’s the problem and all the attention should be on Trump. But I believe Trump and Zuckerberg, they’re reflective of extreme greed on both sides of the political spectrum, whether it’s the elements or the forces out of Silicon Valley, where we’re going to create this technology, we’re going to make the most money we can and if shit breaks or the election fails, that’s not our problem. We’re trying to get this money. We’re trying to make sure that you can be tracked with ads and we’re trying to get our stock up and whatever breaks, that’s not on us. From the left and the right, which I believe Trump represents, where he’s been corrupt most likely, most of his professional life. Of course he was born into a lot of privilege, he got a big insurance payout in addition to the money he got from his dad when his dad died. He got a lot of money. Folks who have looked at this have said that if you put the same amount of money that Trump got from the life insurance payout, a monkey could invest in the S&P 500 and end up where Trump is today. And of course you have all these people praising him as a genius, but most likely it’s going to come out that this guy has been riding dirty, corrupt, committing a lot of fraud. But the corporate establishment, they want to take pictures with them. They want to be associated with him. Now they want to support him. And I think that America, the way it’s trending, where people are so greedy and so sick in some cases where we will look the other way. And I say me because a lot of us have this in various degrees. Trump is an extreme manifestation of it. Mark Zuckerberg is an extreme manifestation of it. Kim Kardashian is an extreme manifestation of it. We will look the other way in the pursuit of success and money. And I believe it has reached a bubble and we’re seeing the result of it now.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. And I would argue that Trump is not the problem. Trump is the symptom of the problem. The problem being a society in which 20 percent of the people control 86 percent of the wealth. And apparently that’s not enough. They want all 100 percent, which I don’t know how they think that’s going to end well for them. When we get down to zero, we will revolt.
Jamarlin Martin: Why do the elites believe that a small clique of people are going to control all of the wealth, and there’s just going to be a few companies, Google, Amazon, you got these big companies, they control everything. There’s a shrinking small and medium-sized and large businesses in America. But why do you think the elites believe that the pie can keep on shrinking for most of the larger society and they can just keep everything, in terms of history. I just don’t understand it. How do they think that that’s going to work?
Karen Fleshman: I think they’re so far gone in their pursuit of wealth and power, and if you measure success and wealth and power, you can never have enough. Right? Because there’s always more, there’s always more. And that’s what they’re fixated on. What the consequence of this is? I don’t think they give a hoot, They’re just living for their themselves and their own hubris, in the short term
Jamarlin Martin: And in this mindset, you can damage the environment, you can take your tax cuts and there’s less to take care of other important things and it seems like they don’t care what happens in 20, 50 years. Like, dude, I’m going to be gone. We’re going to suck up as much as we can and live the best we can and we’ll worry about that stuff later. That’s a sick mentality.
Karen Fleshman: It is a pathology. It’s a really sick pathology and the rest of us are just looking at them like, what is wrong with you? Why do you want it all? I want to have a moderately nice lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to live destitute, but what I really enjoy is community and family and learning things. What is so great about having all this access to wealth and power? I just don’t get it.
Jamarlin Martin: Should Kim Kardashian get props for using her access to Trump. She’s been friends or I guess her family had been friends with Trump. Should she get props for bringing up or helping a black woman get out of jail and working with Trump on a single part. Should society be crip walking because Kim, her dash-in has access and she gets a, a, a black woman out of jail.
Karen Fleshman: Well, I think it is good that she advocated for this particular issue.
Jamarlin Martin: Should she be getting praise for that?
Karen Fleshman: I think like if she would use her enormous power and influence to highlight the whole system of mass incarceration, and really involve herself in changing it, then perhaps yes, but I feel like she just did that like she does everything else, because she wants to get publicity.
Jamarlin Martin: Why wouldn’t folks be suspicious? Where the brand of just vanity and reality and all that stuff is kind of drying up, right? So people in this political climate, they’re not checking for that Kardashian stuff as much as they did before. Right? Where before it’s like, Whoa, the Kardashian is this, but now in this political climate people are checking for that stuff less and less. And so what the smart celebrities are going to do, in my point of view, the smart ones who have the best PR minds, like a Pepsi Cola who did the ad with Kendall Jenner, is they want to attach themselves to progressive politics because progressive politics is hot. It’s a different environment now. And so what celebrities are going to do is, hey, that old stuff where it’s just about money, it’s just about how I look or who has the biggest butt, or who has this, that stuff is going to dry out, that has a cycle, I believe, in popular culture. And when that stuff dries up, they are going to pivot to what the people are now checking for. People want to attach themselves to celebrities and leaders who are authentic and speaking up on behalf of the people. So the celebrity, when that stuff is not as hot anymore, how do they improve their brand? They go over to progressive movements. And from my perspective, you should have been doing that anyway, that’s what a human does. I cannot praise Kim Kardashian for doing that. I know that there’s thousands of black people who have been fighting this fight. And because you were cliqued up on the backs of black people, where her fame has been built in large part on the backs of the black community, and she can use her access to Trump where a lot of black people, of course, are not going to be able to do that. With the amount of influence you got, you could be doing a lot more than that.
Karen Fleshman: I agree with you wholeheartedly Jamarlin. You sedated it much more eloquently than I did, and I’m very skeptical of any latter day celebrity involvement in progressive causes because we’ve been working on these issues for a very long time.
Jamarlin Martin: Does it show the political perversion in Black America where you’re in such a bad shape that when ever there are strides made, Kim Kardashian gets to be your hero. She gets to be the champion of criminal justice reform. She gets the limelight for getting this black woman out of jail. It goes to the white woman.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I don’t want to criticize the black community. I don’t feel like that’s really my lane. But certainly you compare what she did to what an Ava Duvernay did, what a Michelle Alexander did, what black lives matter has done, there’s absolutely no point of comparison.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay. So tech workers at Google, at Salesforce, at Microsoft, they’re speaking up more and more about the values of their institutions. As you know, as a business, particularly tech businesses, as the market becomes more concentrated, they have more power, they have more influence. These companies become like mini governments in terms of their influence, in terms of their power, in terms of their role. And you’re seeing now protests inside of these organizations. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Karen Fleshman: As we talked about last time, unfortunately what these companies are doing is not a violation of trust laws. So there would have to be new regulation created to cut their power. And as I said last time, I don’t perceive that happening. The only way that will happen is if the people rise up and demand it. And now we’re starting to see that actually happen. We’re seeing this emerging group, the Tech Workers Coalition, and it includes folks who work at these companies protesting in front of the companies, and highlighting the hypocrisy and contradiction of the companies. So at Salesforce they were protesting the fact that Salesforce has a contract with Customs and Border Patrol, and then Marc Benioff tried to donate money to RAICES, one of the largest nonprofits in Texas serving the children who’ve been separated from their families and RAICES did not accept the donation.
Jamarlin Martin: And he’s been trying to position himself as more progressive. He’s been attacking Zuckerberg. He’s talking about Facebook being regulated like a tobacco company. So he’s been positioning himself as like, “Hey, I’m not one of them”. But now he’s seeing problems within his own institution from progressives.
Karen Fleshman: Yes. Yes. And really calling him out. And same thing at Google, same thing at Microsoft. With Amazon, you see Amazon workers protesting not only in the United States but in other parts of the world.
Jamarlin Martin: In Europe they’re striking, right?
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. In Silicon Valley, Amazon has a physical store and a group called Silicon Valley Rising, took over the store, disrupted it in a very noisy protests of Amazon profiting from hate. So we are now starting to see the contradictions of these companies. Personally, where I would like to see more pressure put is with Paypal. So the Unite The Right, the group that planned Charlottesville is currently planning Charlottesville 2.0. And they’re using Facebook and Paypal to raise the money for it. And so I’d like to see the next big protest occurring at Paypal.
Jamarlin Martin: Well, I’m seeing at Paypal, they’re calling it “de-platform” certain businesses who were associated with the alt-right or white supremacists. I guess the goal is for Paypal to start identifying folks who promote hate speech…
Karen Fleshman: And not allowing them to use the platform to raise money.
Jamarlin Martin: This brings up a big topic of censorship. I can speak for the black community in terms of what I observed in the black community, is that a lot of folks have been pro-censorship, hey, we want Spotify to get these abusers off the platform. Spotify should not be playing this music. Spotify responds and of course they target a couple of black artists. Hey, we don’t like what the alt-right is posting. We don’t like what Breitbart is posting. We don’t like what Infowars is posting. We want Facebook, we want Google, we want these different companies to start bringing the police out, bringing the sirens out and de-platforming all the folks who are associated or promoting hate speech. On one hand that could sound like the right thing to do, but when I isolate Black America who’s not in power, right? We’re not on the policy teams. We’re not making these big decisions, we have to be careful that if we do not have the business and political power to be involved with these policing decisions, and we’re pushing the platforms to start policing the alt-right, history has showed us that most likely the weaker communities are going to be victimized from online censorship, and that yes, you can bang against the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, alt-right, Breitbart, Fox News, whatever. That may be like the in thing right now. But if you’re thinking further out, most likely these types of policies are going to hurt people who do not have a lot of power, who cannot complain to a Facebook or a Foogle who’s not really in the room within these policy decisions. And so I’m a bit conflicted on that issue.
Karen Fleshman: That’s already occurring. Facebook silences black activists on the regular. It’s happened to people I know, and they’re not practicing hate speech. They are provoking white fragility and then white people will go and complain and say, “Oh, she’s hurting my feelings or something”. And then they freeze the account. Or in some cases, shut down the account for a far longer period of time because that’s the practice that companies have taken to doing is, rather than delete the account to shut it down for a period of time and they’re trying to move away from bright line rules because then the people who do practice hate speech will keep testing them and try to get within the rules, if that makes sense, like it’s a game. But I do think profiting from hate and allowing all those Youtube hits…
Jamarlin Martin: But I guess the issue is how do you define hate with white men, meaning that most of these companies, most of these executives who were involved in this, the hate is defined, the policies are created by white men. And so if Facebook or Paypal or whatever, let’s say they start saying, “hey, Fox News is just promoting racist propaganda”. They may not be using certain words, but they’re promoting this. I got to think, of course they would be cranking it up on black activists. They’re already doing that online in terms of how they treat black activists. I just don’t see that ending well for a marginalized communities, medium to long term. And, one of the things that caught my eye is Twitter. This I think represents the complexity of the problem, is that Twitter, decheckmarked Louis Farrakhan. People complained and said, “Hey, why does Louis Farrakhan have a check mark on Twitter? He promotes hate speech”. Okay. So Twitter decides to take the check mark of Louis Farrakhan. The question is, if folks are looking to call the cops to police freedom of speech, this is one of the things that are going to happen to Black people. So now they called the cops, they called Twitter, “hey, we want you to do something about Farrakhan’s Twitter feed”. But why does Donald Trump get a Twitter feed? Right? So folks do accuse Louis Farrakhan of promoting hate and hate speech, but the question is, what about the other folks people accuse of hate speech? Are you going to decheckmark Donald Trump? And this gets to the issue of racism and white supremacy, meaning that the only real racism and white supremacy that matters is when folks have power, right? And so what Farrakhan says could be offensive and could be deemed hate speech, but he doesn’t have any power to influence who’s on the communication platforms of America. He doesn’t have the power to set policies at Facebook and Paypal. Farrakhan does not have the power to really regulate American society. But you throw him in the race racism box, but the people with power, the real racists, they are allowed to do whatever they want. And so, hey, we will decheckmark certain Black leaders who we believe are banging against white people too hard, they’re saying aggressive stuff. They’re offending too many people. Decheckmark Farrakhan. But the white leaders who are supported by Fox News and the conservative establishment, they get invited to Facebook to talk. They get invited to have dialogue at Facebook about censorship.
Karen Fleshman: And how much money are all these platforms making, Youtube, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google from all these hate websites? Breitbart, Infowars, all of that are like Youtube videos. So I think that’s an important part of the equation too. This is why I’m so excited that Morgan DeBaun just raised $6.5 million Series A for Blavity and what she’s doing with it. She’s investing it in engineering and creating Black platforms and Black technology tools so that Black people can own the method to tell their own stories. This is what I’ve been saying for a long time. Malkia Cyril. You can’t insert technology into white supremacy and not expect anything other than white supremacy. If we really want to solve this problem, we have to get off these platforms and create our own platforms. And I’m counting me with the Black community as progressive white people, because these platforms are just going to keep replicating white supremacy, we’ll drive ourselves crazy protesting against them, blah, blah, blah, and in the end we will have very little impact. So let’s instead invest our time and energy into creating our own thing.
Jamarlin Martin: Yes, you touched on a very important point that where we need to go, I believe society, people of goodwill. When you look at Google, Facebook, and Twitter. We are opted in to these communication systems, media systems, right? And we provide all this value, great content, interesting content, and the profits go to the Google shareholders, the Facebook shareholders, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, the Google shareholders. It goes to folks who are really about keeping this system working for them, right? So we are enabling our own filtering, our own oppression, our own policing. And I believe where things are going to go, is that there will be social networks, where the contributors, the Black Twitter and the folks on Facebook where when you contribute so much content to the platform, the value is not just going to go to their shareholders and the big executives. The value needs to come back to the people because the value is created by the people. So I believe that there’s going to be big disintermediation, where the big centralized platforms are going to break in terms of, folks are going to come gradually come off of these platforms and go to platforms where they can actually get a piece of the value that they create.
Karen Fleshman: And I think that will be a very, very positive move in the right direction because we have to clutch back some of that 86 percent of wealth that the top 20 percent have. I think Black millennial women in particular, right? So graduating from college at the highest rates. Trying to carve out professional careers for themselves, but facing the racial wealth gap, facing tremendous student loan burden. I just took a young Black woman out for dinner because she passed the bar exam and I was asking her how much is your student loan burden? Two $240,000. Okay. Unimaginable to me to have that kind of student loan burden.
Jamarlin Martin: How much of the college debt problem do you think is the student and parents’s responsibility where there’s too much college debt in the United States, right? But if someone has the opportunity to go to an instate school. They can go to a UC school or a cal state school or a state school in Florida, but because of the system or because of personal preference, I want to go to a private school. I want to go to this school. I want to go to the higher tuition school. I want to go to where the demographic looks like this. So I’m going to pay a premium on my tuition and I’m going to have more debt because of what I like to do. I believe that there’s a consumer choice where, hey, I don’t want an Android phone. I want an iPhone. I’m going to pay 30 or 40 percent more because this phone is gonna work better. I believe the government can do a lot in terms of problem-solving for the college debt problem where I believe 50 percent of college debt is not being paid right now. But I don’t think the government can do anything for the consumer choice element where some people, they need the BMW. Some people say, “I want a Tesla”.
Karen Fleshman: But Jamarlin, I don’t think that’s what’s at the root of this situation. I think what’s at the root of this situation, and I’ll speak of California. So since 1980 California has built 22 prisons and one university, we used to have the public education that was the world’s best, both the university and the K through 12. Then we had Proposition 187, the systematic defunding of the public education system. Proposition 187 was a citizen-led initiative to cap property taxes and property taxes are what pays for schools. And our schools fell from being number one in the country to now we’re down around 49th. And same thing, our state budget for prisons and our state budget for universities, the budget for prisons has gone up and the percent for universities has gone down by the exact same amount in the same timeframe. We’re choosing as a society to invest in young people by building prisons and not in our public education system, not in public universities. Similarly, with Proposition 409, I believe was the anti-affirmative action proposition in California. After that, it’s very difficult for Black and Brown native Californians to get admitted into the UC schools. And many of the UC schools, because of their budget problems, are drawing many of their students internationally in order to meet their budgetary needs. So I don’t think it’s so much individual choice. I think it’s government action that is then severely challenging university systems and then creating difficult circumstances for young people who want to pursue an education.
Jamarlin Martin: I agree. Most of it. I do believe, it’s a defect in system design and it’s a policy issue. Most of it, Over 50 percent of the problem. However, even if you were to create free tuition, free tuition universities, quality universities, but these institutions, in terms of feeding your Google, feeding your Facebook, feeding your Apple, they’re looking at, “hey, I want a Harvard, I want MIT, I want Caltech”, so they have a hierarchy, right? And so the consumers most likely would still, even if free tuition at the state level, quality education was still available, I still think a significant amount of students are going to buy into the existing system that’s not totally under the government control of course. You’ll buy into I want the Ferrari, I want the Mercedes education, and there’s going to be a certain amount of debt attached to that. You’ve bought into the academic hierarchy where you need to go to a certain fancy school with a good name that’s going to help you get a job at Google, Facebook, Apple or Amazon. They’re checking for the best schools in large part. And you’re going to have to pay a lot more debt if you make that decision. So I just think that behavioral change where students and parents opt out of the old system where the degrees and the fancy degrees, they don’t give you the same ROI. We’re in a different environment. And so there is something that we can do to encourage parents and students to opt out and show them another path in terms of accomplishing their goals. If you really love the GHOGH podcast, one way to support us is going to http://www.moguldom.com/survey. Fill out that quick survey, that gives us better information on our audience and it helps us with our sponsors. That’s one big way you can support us and keep our movement going. Go to http://www.moguldom.com/survey. Thank you.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, well I would say another really problematic development has been the rise of the for profit college industry, which particularly preys on…
Jamarlin Martin: It’s like an academic pawn shop.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. And they prey upon people who’ve been poorly served by our public education system, but who aspire to having a middle class lifestyle and believe that education is the ticket to doing that.
Jamarlin Martin: And of course, to Obama’s credit, he slapped a lot of regulations on this industry. Trump is pulling them back. Lobbyist money is coming in. Bring back the cheap, fraudulent, pawn shop for-profit schools. Trump wants them back. And of course we saw, as soon as Trump was elected, the stocks of the biggest for profit prisons are up over a hundred percent.
Karen Fleshman: My whole work, my whole career is rooted in my deep abiding love of young people. And I feel like we’re structuring our society so that young people fail. And that to me is my number one cause of concern.
Jamarlin Martin: Kavanaugh. Let’s walk through your beef with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Karen Fleshman: Well, I want to start by saying, a Kavanaugh appointment will not harm me that much. I’m a generation x professional woman. Yes, I think Kavanaugh will mess with my Obamacare, but like I’ve had my abortion, my gay friends who wanted to get married have gotten married. The people who Kavanaugh’s appointment will dramatically impact are the most young, the most marginalized people in our country. And let’s look at the overall demographics. Forty-three percent of millennials are people of color. Forty seven percent of generation z are people of color and so, the guy Kavanaugh is being appointed to replace, Justice Kennedy, started service in 1987. It’s highly likely that if he’s confirmed Justice Kavanaugh would serve for 30 years. There would be then a solid majority, five votes on the Supreme Court that are conservative and so many of the things that these hard-fought struggles of our forebears for civil rights, women’s rights, environmental protections, gun control, all of the things that we’ve struggled so hard for will be taken back after decision after decision after decision. And we see it already in just the most recent Supreme Court decisions before Kavanaugh is even appointed to the court. So I urge all young people listening to this podcast, please get involved in the struggle. The confirmation of Kavanaugh is not a done deal. The Senate Republicans are going to try to get it done before the midterm election. They have 51 republican senators, there’s 49 Democrats, and they need 51 votes in order to confirm him. But we’re going to be struggling a lot to prevent that from happening. I urge everybody listening to this podcast, this is by far the most harmful thing that Trump can do. And by far what he most wants to do to energize his whole base for that Nov. 6 midterm, is to say, look, I got this conservative Supreme Court justice who’s gonna represent the evangelicals, who’s going to represent the rich, who’s going to represent the national fraternal order of police, the Border Patrol Union, the national rifle association. Kavanaugh believes that regulating assault rifles is unconstitutional. Young people, please pay attention and get involved in the struggle to prevent the confirmation of the Supreme Court justice. And I’ll give you some links to articles that I’ve written that break it down because it is very complicated and if you want to talk about it some more, I’d be happy to talk about it some more.
Jamarlin Martin: Let’s talk about conspiracy theories related to Kavanaugh. So Kennedy’s son was a banker at Deutsche Bank. He has affiliations with Trump-Kushner. Do you believe that Kennedy stepping down, it’s not a matter of, “Hey, I’m old and I want to retire”, that the Mueller investigation is going into the ninth inning. Something is going to go before the Supreme Court. And if I can trade Kennedy for someone to the right, that could help me publicly politically, where Republicans say, man, this guy is really helping us on the Supreme Court, long-term ramifications in terms of abortion. Some of our big issues. So Trump can get the credit to get someone to the right of Kennedy while he’s in power, before he leaves, right? He could be gone within six months, possibly. So if you are able to negotiate with Kennedy and there are some reports that there was a negotiation between Trump and Kennedy, and Kennedy suggested Kavanaugh, and it was negotiated that before Trump was going to get out of power, let’s move this seat to the right. And another part of the conspiracy theory, is that Kavanaugh has weighed in on Watergate, where he’s questioning a big decision related to the Watergate tapes.
Karen Fleshman: He doesn’t believe presidents can be indicted.
Jamarlin Martin: Could it just be, we’re really about to go to the end game with this investigation. I need to make my move at the Supreme Court level. I need to make my move in New York state. New York State Attorney General Schneiderman was investigating the Trump Foundation. There were reports that Trump was in contact with the accusers, and the accusers’ attorney and that there was a leaked report that ended up ousting Schneiderman related to, I believe, sexual assault. But it seems like Trump is that mafia type guy where you’re looking at moving some chess pieces around to position yourself better for that Super Bowl event where Mueller is going to lay down the hammer.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I think there’s that, but I think more broadly speaking, the Republicans have been salivating over getting a five-justice voting block that’s solidly conservative on the Supreme Court for a very long time. And someone tweeted, “Republicans knew that Trump was in bed with Putin. It’s just that they prefer Putin to Merrick Garland. And that’s what I think this is all about. Having a conservative Supreme Court will satisfy all their interests. And it’s not only the Supreme Court. Trump has been loading all the courts with conservative judges because their numbers are dwindling, right? So the only way they can hold onto power, the courts are their greatest tool under our system.
Jamarlin Martin: You’re talking about white folks?
Karen Fleshman: Exactly. White, rich, white folks, men, who run the country and their women supporters. Controlling the courts is the way they’re going to preserve their power even as their numbers continue to dwindle. So this is the fight of our lives to prevent this confirmation from occurring. And I encourage everybody. There’s a lot of different organizations involved in this movement, the National Urban League, Naacp, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the women’s rights organizations, Planned Parenthood, so get involved. Just follow the #StopKavanaugh, and there’s going to be a national day of action on Aug. 26. So I encourage you to get involved in your local events. If you live in a red state in particular, make sure you’re contacting your senators saying, we don’t want him to be confirmed. If you’re not registered to vote, make sure you are registered and you vote Nov. 6. And tweet pictures of yourself, #StopKavanaugh, I’m registering, we’re watching you because it was really sad yesterday to hear Andrew Gillum say that young people only make up five percent of the electorate.
Jamarlin Martin: In the state of Florida.
Karen Fleshman: In the state of Florida. Young people, please get out and vote in the state of Florida. Get out and vote. Register to vote. Pay Attention. Because these judges are going to make decisions that are going to have extremely detrimental impact on your life and I encourage you to engage in the struggle of stopping this confirmation. It’s just wrong. It’s simply wrong that someone whose viewpoints is just so out of touch with the majority of Americans will be able to serve on the Supreme Court for 30 years and cause the kind of harm that he would be able to cause.
Jamarlin Martin: Since we last talked, you mentioned that if it was a choice of Kamala Harris versus Bernie Sanders in 2020, you would be voting Kamala Harris. Are you still there?
Karen Fleshman: I’m still there. I’m even stronger there than I was before. I really do believe that Kamala Harris…
Jamarlin Martin: Do you think she’s moving to the left?
Karen Fleshman: Yes. And I think she is that candidate who is going to energize. Remember, voters of color and progressive whites, we make up the majority of the electorate. We sent Obama to the White House twice. I encourage everyone to read Steve Phillips’s brilliant book, “Brown is the new white”. And this is what he documents in there, but we only turn out to vote when we’re energized by the candidate. That was Hillary’s big downfall, is she did not energize us. And so we didn’t turn out to vote for her. I think Kamala Harris energizes that same progressive base of the party, and I’m super excited by the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Jamarlin Martin: Who’s supporting Bernie Sanders. There’s two proxies that I think progressives need to look at. One is which candidate authentically wants to remove, dial back, corporate money from our politics. In my mind, all these things that we’re talking about, we’re fighting for, we’re voting for, it would be much easier to push these things forward if you look at the big picture and you try to peel back the influence of corporate interests, of lobbyists, and so in the big kind of map of progress, I feel like when you have so much corporate money drowning out the people’s vote and they have their ear to the politicians and the politicians need their money. In Google’s case they’re hiring kids of Congressmen and women, I believe for political influence. So a big proxy of is that person a real progressive, or sufficiently progressive, are they talking with a loud voice about getting corporate money and money out of politics, which is going to increase the political power of the people, right? And no, Kamala Harris is not an advocate on that front, right? She’s one of the probably most liked by the corporate interest side of the Democratic Party, the Dianne Feinstein, the Nancy Pelosi, the Chuck Schumer, right? So in my mind, she may move to the left for political points, for votes, but I’m suspicious of her progressive credentials. Particularly, that has never been a big issue for her in terms of, hey, we need to remove big money out of politics. Two, Netanyahu, in terms of how he’s leading in Israel is comparable to Donald Trump. Okay. So a democratic politician is going to bang hard against Donald Trump. I get a lot of political points for that domestically. I can just talk about Trump all day because of what he’s doing, but when you’re a U.S. Senator and you have to deal with foreign policy and international matters, if you’re authentic in terms of your principles, your values, how you judge Donald Trump and what he’s doing, it should be pretty consistent when you look at different things that are going on around the world. Meaning that, yes, it’s a big issue in terms of separating families, but it’s also a big issue if the Israeli military is killing 80 Palestinians, a lot of them, young. Kamala Harris is not going to speak out on that. So I believe the contrarian indicators for progressive voters is, has this person been speaking out in terms of trying to get corporate money out of politics, and two, how do they address Palestine? And it’s not as much as those issues are the biggest issues for Americans domestically or individually. It’s that, what does it mean for a person to have a strong stance on those issues? There’s a bigger meaning in terms of this person is possibly that candidate who’s going to shake up the establishment, meaning I believe progressives need to take more risk, meaning that the corporate side of the Democratic Party, they’re only offering slow steps. We can only do this. We can only do so much. And I believe the way this country is going, we can’t afford that. And you have to actually go hard on your progressive convictions. You need a leader who has conviction about these issues and they’re not playing political ping pong.
Karen Fleshman: That’s right. I was really angry at Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi for their tone policing of Maxine Waters. And I was one of the signatories, there was a letter initiated by white women, condemning Nancy Pelosi for tone policing Maxine Waters.
Jamarlin Martin: And Chuck Schumer, why would he mention, “it’s un-American”? Why mention that? It’s like he’s feeding meat to the racist pit bulls, the Republican pit bulls. Why would he mix her patriotism with calling out Trump?
Karen Fleshman: I think she is exactly the kind of leader that you’re talking about who stands on conviction and does speak from her heart and does speak authentically in what she’s doing.
Jamarlin Martin: So I give her a lot of credit. She was one of the big advocates against apartheid. She has been very vocal representing the Black community. However, if the Democrats really want change, sticking with the congresswomen, congressmen that have been in power for 20, 30 years, that grew up in a time of extreme lobbyists, corporate influence, and if we want things to shift, isn’t it time for the Nancy Pelosis, the Dianne Feinsteins that Chuck Schumers and Maxine Waters, who I have a lot of respect for and I give a lot of credit, but is it time for new leadership in the Democratic Party? A new generation of leaders. Does it sit well with you that a lot of the leaders of the Democratic Party, they’ve been in Congress and Senate for 20, 30 years? Do we have room for a new generation, a younger generation?
Karen Fleshman: I think we absolutely must make room for new leadership. And I was super excited, as I mentioned, by the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and I hope that she will inspire. That’s what she’s trying to do. She says, “I don’t want to be there by myself”. She’s trying to encourage more young people to pursue her path of getting elected. She ran a very smart, very strategic campaign, was able to unseat someone who’d been there for 20 years and was fourth in line to ascend within the leadership, but she was able to show he doesn’t even live in this district, he does not really represent this district. And she was able to energize a lot of voters. And I encourage other young people to get involved. I’m actually trying to recruit one of my friends to run against Nancy Pelosi because that’s what it takes. We have to get involved. Like Beyonce said, power is never given to you. You have to take it. Young people, if we want to see things change, we’re the ones, we got to get in there and run against these folks.
Jamarlin Martin: I’m a big fan as well of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I was very happy to see her win. I was also happy to find out before the election that she was following me on Twitter. But I love how she makes her top five issues very visible. Of course she’s pushing to get corporate money out of politics. I believe she’s part of the Justice Democrats, the more progressive side of the Democratic Party. And I believe that the corporate lobbyist side of the Democratic Party, they don’t want to see someone like that rise. They are fearful and you see them making certain statements like, “Hey, this is nothing”. Or even, Joanne Reid on MSNBC, she tweeted something that sounded dismissive to me about Cortez. She said something like, “Hey, with something like this, anybody can get elected”, and I believe that it short changed Ocasio-Cortez, but I believe the corporate side of the Democratic Party, anybody affiliated with more progressive anti-establishment positions, they get spooked out, particularly, I believe, she worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think there’s a lot of people who are looking at her, her victory and really shaking their heads and wondering will they have to face competitors in elections. And I want to encourage people listening, go out and run for office. That’s what we need.
Jamarlin Martin: I’m gonna try it again. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, hypothetically, although I don’t see them on the same ticket. Kamala Harris at the top. Cory Booker as VP. Bernie Sanders and Cortez as VP. Who has your vote? What ticket are you backing?
Karen Fleshman: I just have an aversion to Bernie Sanders.
Jamarlin Martin: You wouldn’t be able to get over that?
Karen Fleshman: I wouldn’t be able to get over it. No.
Jamarlin Martin: Democratic socialist has become a slur. People are very fearful.
Karen Fleshman: A slur?
Jamarlin Martin: In terms of conservative media. Even some mainstream publications. If you’re a democratic socialist, hey, it’s a bad thing, right? You’re trying to direct America towards a Venezuela. She has become the poster woman now for democratic socialists, and what the conservatives or the alt-right, what they’re saying essentially is, this is just going to be a rise of socialism and she represents that new wave where they’re going to try to turn America into a socialist Venezuela. And some of the conservative marketing kit as it relates to democratic socialism is, Hey, in Venezuela, the country is bankrupt. People are eating cats and dogs, literally eating cats and dogs. If you go in the direction of socialism, America is going to become more like Venezuela. They conveniently leave out a country like Norway who many economists would call a welfare state, or Sweden or Denmark. Meaning that there’s examples where there’s more empathy in terms of social policy and economic policy and a sense of responsibility for all, where it’s not like Venezuela, right? Everybody’s not eating cats and dogs. I’ve been to Oslo and I’ve been to Stockholm. What are your thoughts on the thinking that the Democratic Party is going to lose if you have democratic socialists on the ticket, Bernie Sanders and Cortez?
Karen Fleshman: I mean, the United States is looking more and more like a Latin American country in terms of our wealth distribution. Right? How did the Venezuelan revolution take place? It was because they had this incredible tiny elite that control all the wealth and then the vast majority of the people have nothing. So I disagree. I think that in the United States we are a very economically polarized country and it’s particularly been harmful to young people. A lot of young people don’t go to the doctor regularly or are trying to take care of their own medical problems because they don’t have health insurance or it’s too prohibitively expensive for them to utilize the health insurance that they have. So I think moving toward single pair, moving toward free public higher education, moving toward creating new ways of administering justice and safety that don’t involve mass incarceration and militarization of police. I think all of those things, all of those things are extremely costly. The current systems that we have and creating systems that actually are centered around how can we help improve income distribution? How can we help improve economic equality, and give people the chance to have a high quality life? I think those are winning issues for Democrats. And I think that in San Francisco we have democratic socialists who became very energized after the election and they’re very organized and they’re energizing a whole new group of voters, and they’re not satisfied with the corporate interests politics of the mainstream Democrats. So I think moving to the left is actually a good move.
Jamarlin Martin: You believe, based on the current environment that the Democrats have a higher probability of winning if they move to the left of Hillary Clinton, not to the right, where there’s this thinking out there is that, man, you got to play it safe. You need that in-the-middle white voter. So you can’t go too far to the left.
Karen Fleshman: My poor friend, Steve Phillips, the author of “Brown is the new white”, has tried as hard as he can. He wrote an entire book. He podcasts, he blogs, he goes out and gives talks. We don’t need to persuade any Trump voters. All we need to do is energize the core democratic base and make sure they get to the polls. That’s all we need to do. This whole notion that we’re going to win over the swing voters by doing all these TV ads is a total waste of money. We should be investing it in voter mobilization and getting people to the polls on the days of election and in getting candidates that people are gonna want to turn out for.
Jamarlin Martin: So I missed a when we’re talking about proxies for how to tell which democratic candidate not to vote for. One of the things I left out, which is I believe going to be a tell, is whoever the Silicon Valley establishment supports, do not vote for that person. That’s trying to tell you something. And let me tell you, who do they love in Silicon Valley? Cory Booker. They have invested in his companies. He’s friends with Mark Zuckerberg. He’s very cozy with the Silicon Valley establishment. And that’s another issue that I hope to bring to the surface as we go into 2020, is does there need to be separation in terms of our elected officials and the leaders in big tech, meaning that the coziness, the friendships, the networking is a form of backdoor lobbying where if I get cozy with these people when I’m at the office one day, they can donate to my foundation, they can help me, and I may sacrifice the interests of the people for my friends in high places. And Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Eric Holder mentioned the other day that he may run. Those Black elected officials are actually the coziest with the Silicon Valley establishment. And I think that’s a tell that you got to be careful with these candidates. Meaning that, why are these people in Santa Clara County, why are these people who are connected to big corporate interests, why do they love these Black candidates so much? When you look at the history, have they been cultivating relationships way back as part of a lobbying campaign? I’m just very suspicious. Do you believe that that is a flag on a candidate, if the Silicon Valley establishment supports you?
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I mean that would be consistent with everything I believe about the Silicon Valley establishment. And I would urge those candidates to use their positions of influence to push on these companies. Why is it that year after year after year, the numbers of Black and Brown employees never budge, and the experience of Black and Brown employees who do work there are consistently miserable. We need some outside pressure on these companies to change their culture.
Jamarlin Martin: You recently saw the film, “Sorry to bother you”. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Karen Fleshman: I urge everyone listening to this podcast. You must see that film. It perfectly depicts the contradiction of the Bay Area, right? So the Bay Area is the center of activism, self-determination and soulfulness. And then we have Silicon Valley, which is the center of oppression, the center of capitalism, and really the center of soulessness. And that’s exactly what occurs in the movie. A Black guy living in Oakland, desperate for cash, takes a job at a very nefarious telemarketing company and is rapidly promoted. And it’s all about his moral consciousness, his relationship with his girlfriend, who is an incredible artist, really pointing out the contradictions of capitalism. And it’s a very, very well made movie.
Jamarlin Martin: I believe the writer is from the hip hop group, The Coup.
Karen Fleshman: Yes. And I love The Coup. I encourage everyone listening to this podcast to listen to The Coup as well.
Jamarlin Martin: I ordered some books a couple of weeks ago by Thomas Sowell, a noted economist and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, and I spent some time with this stuff, and I liked some stuff and some stuff I thought was bizarre. But one of the things that Thomas Sowell touched on was Democratic Party policies. White liberal policies are to blame for cities like Baltimore, cities like Chicago. And so the Democrats have been in power in those cities, they’re pushing a lot of welfare, they’re pushing a lot of liberal policies and look at the results. This stuff is not working that the Democrats are pushing. The welfare state or liberal democratic policies have not worked for Black America. What’s your response to that?
Karen Fleshman: On that point, I would agree.
Jamarlin Martin: What was defective from your perspective?
Karen Fleshman: Well, first of all, welfare policy has changed during our lifetime, right? So before President Clinton’s welfare reform initiative, there were more cash subsidies. Post his initiative, the move was to welfare to work and earned income tax credit, and this push toward work. But I would say my whole career has been in antipoverty and so I had direct contact with people who were receiving welfare benefits, who were transitioning into work as well as with immigrants and with young people who were starting corporate careers in tech. And all of those experiences is what led me to change my career to working on ending racism, because I believe that at the core of all of these policies is a fundamental misunderstanding of people that is deeply rooted in racism and unless and until we address racism, the money we expend on antipoverty is largely going to be wasted.
Jamarlin Martin: But it’s interesting that he indicts Black leaders, I think justifiably so. He says that the Black politicians, the black leaders. He doesn’t call out the names. The Al Sharptons, the Jesse Jacksons, that’s me calling out the names. He says these leaders are conflicted in terms of, they will profit by the misery. He takes the Black leaders to task in terms of, Hey, they’re conflicted, they’re monetizing, they’re profiting off the misery and the poverty. It’s not in their interest to show the community to build yourself up. Hold yourself accountable. You can do it. Hey, there may not be as much racism as you think, and you can really make strides with racism existing at the same time. The Black leaders and the liberal politicians, they have produced the Baltimore, they have produced the Chicago. But, at least not yet, as part of his analysis of what’s wrong, he doesn’t really talk about mass incarceration being a piece of it, right? His thing is liberal policies, out of wedlock births, and that’s the Black community’s fault that’s causing the problem. It’s not racism. It’s not mass incarceration. It’s not some of this other stuff.
Karen Fleshman: I fundamentally disagree with that viewpoint. He believes that racism is not the reason why…
Jamarlin Martin: At least so far in the material that I’ve read and listening to him, he stays away from saying racism is the cause of anything.
Karen Fleshman: Right? Right. He believes that people are poor because they don’t produce.
Jamarlin Martin: Because they’re making bad choices. The Black leaders are corrupt, and the welfare state, the liberal democrats are kind of paralyzing the Black community with these policies and values, making them feel like they can’t do anything for themselves.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. Well, I spend my life inside companies teaching workshops on overcoming racism, on unlearning racism and overcoming unconscious bias because, people of color who do according to him make all the right choices and graduate from high school and go on to college and then land jobs in these companies, once they’re there are microaggressed nonstop, and many of them actually leave. My most recent company that I worked with had two very high profile departures of women of color who sent all staff emails detailing why they were leaving. And so these are, these are people who made all the right choices in his mind, and then when they get to the institution, the institution fundamentally rejects them. So I disagree entirely with that. I do believe that racism, the experience of racism, when people experience that, it is extremely harmful. It has long lasting psychological impact. And you’re not going to want to go be in one of these institutions when you, when you’ve experienced harm there.
Jamarlin Martin: His response is that the data shows, that with more racism in the sixties and the fifties when the Black family was more intact, the data shows that across a couple of metrics in terms of employment, income, that Black people were better off with more racism. That’s what the data shows, in terms of the fifties and even the sixties
Karen Fleshman: Is that because there was greater segregation and so there was a greater Black professional class that was serving people who.
Jamarlin Martin: I think that’s part of it.
Karen Fleshman: Who couldn’t access white professionals. And then I would also say that folks who study microaggression say that they are more harmful than overt acts of racism because they are more unpredictable. They come from out of the blue and they’re more jarring and they have long-term health consequences. I’m not saying that like living during the Jim Crow time and all the terrible things that happened there during that time was not incredibly stressful for the community, but I do think that there’s a lot of stress now, and to say that racism has gotten better, I don’t know if that’s really true. I mean maybe there’s not lynchings, but then there’s police brutality and we all see these horrific videos over and over again of police executing Black people in that has a tremendous harmful impact on us as well.
Jamarlin Martin: For the audience, I encourage you to read Thomas Sowell, because he comes on Fox News and he has said that Obama is the worst American president in the history of the country. I wouldn’t be spooked out about diving into his work. And I wouldn’t throw him too quickly into the Uncle Tom box, like many of us like to do. But I think it’s important for us to understand different viewpoints, opposing viewpoints on the complexities of the problem in the Black community in America that we have to bring in other viewpoints, meaning that the Liberals and the Democrats, they do not have all the answers, and I encourage you to read him, read John McWhorter, and you can decide for yourself. But I think it’s important that we explore other viewpoints.
Karen Fleshman: And I also think that notion that, it’s Black people’s failings, is also not proven by the data. Black men are thriving. Black men are employed at record numbers and are the most engaged fathers, but we don’t hear those narratives. We always hear these negative stereotypes of the absentee father and all of this stuff. But the data is actually contrary to those stereotypes and false narratives about Black men.
Jamarlin Martin: What I would also say, and Thomas Sowell, he wouldn’t be the guy to I think probe this because when I read him, I don’t hear any affinity for Black people. I don’t hear one percent of connectivity with Black people in his audience. What he’s optimizing for commercially is clearly white. It’s the Fox News, it’s conservatives. He’s optimizing his message and his intellectual exercises for that particular audience. So he wouldn’t be the person to tackle this. This is my thought, is that the data has showed that Korean Americans, and Jewish Americans academically, as the new generations go into high school, go into college, their academic scores, their test scores are lower. So the more their original culture and traditions are diluted, the longer they’re here in America, their test scores, their academic performance materially drops. And so, in my view, what could explain why you have the high out-of-wedlock births relative to other groups, why you have a lot of pathology and issues in the African-American community relative to other groups, is that the out-of-wedlock births, it’s happening with white folks now, right? And so the reason why Black people would be ahead of other people, other people are going there, the longer they’re in America, the trends show that they’re going there or that it’s increasing. But it’s a mixture of, the descendants of slave the slaves, we would score the lowest in terms of having an intact cultural tradition to reference, right. In Africa we had strong families. The courting behavior, and I had this explained to me when I went to Nigeria and it confirmed what I’ve read, is that the community, in a lot of cases would have to approve the mate, and there was a big vetting process, right? In western Africa, that was our tradition. And so during slavery, when you have to start with a diluted cultural reference, it’s interrupted…
Karen Fleshman: They looted and genocided cultural reference.
Jamarlin Martin: Yes. When that cultural linkage and tradition is interrupted with slavery, it makes total sense to me that when you compare the African-American with other groups, the other groups are having more out-of-wedlock births. The other groups, they’re scoring lower on test scores the longer they’re here in America, but the groups that have the strongest connectivity to their cultural tradition, they are going to be better off across a lot of these statistics, and African-Americans, the cultural battery pack that each people I believe need, they need a good cultural reference point. And for us it was Africa. And so a lot of the stuff that you see in terms of man, these people are crazy, or man, they’re committing all this crime or man they’re having all these out-of-wedlock births is that the stronger the cultural tradition in terms of the legacies that are passed down, the better outcomes a lot of communities and cultures are going to have, and America, white folks have interrupted this. And so the negative data that comes out, a lot of it could be explained with African-Americans have further distance to our cultural tradition than other groups. You can’t expect that everyone’s going to be running at the same speed unless everyone else went through slavery too.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah. I agree with what you’re saying, 100 percent. The trauma, then the intergenerational trauma and the separation of children from their parents and the raping of women, and Black men having to see their wives and women that they loved being raped, and powerless to do anything about it. Black men themselves being raped in many instances. It’s just so much trauma over so many generations.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. You want the same results, people got to go through similar things. I’m going to finish with R. Kelly, who just released a 19 minute, I guess song saying “I admit it”. When you look at it, these predators that are in the black community… This is not to get R. Kelly off the hook. He needs to be held accountable by the community. A lot of the sexual abuse that’s in the Black community that can be traced back to the molestation and the rape during slavery. And so when you look at the behavior of sexual abuse victims and rape victims, a lot of times their behavior, their cognitive function is different. Their ability to cope in society is different. With our people here in the United States, Black people, there was a massive rape sexually and psychologically. Right? And so at some point, this is for Black people, if we want to succeed at scale, meaning that it’s not just a few people making it, that we within the community are going to have to address what has happened to us and we’re going to have to reach back into our African roots, and grab a lot of the good stuff that we had before America.
Karen Fleshman: Yeah, I think that was a big part of why there was such a phenomenal response to Black Panther, because it was reaching back there and connecting and celebrating and really highlighting the incredible matriarchal power of African societies and their advancement in technology and culture in all these different ways that really deeply resonated with African Americans. I’ll end with this. I just did a really powerful anti-racism weekend retreat with a native Alaskan, and one of the exercises that she had us do, the white people went in one room and the people of color in another room and we went back in time and we meditated to our ancestors and we healed our ancestors. We went to them and said, “I’m here to heal you. I’m here to help you. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.” And in my case, I was seeing my ancestors on slave patrol and killing native Americans. And I went with them and said, “You have to stop doing this. You have to. The system does not serve us. Let’s break away from the system and go run off and live free of this society because the society is sick and what you are doing is wrong.” And I think doing those kinds of exercises is very healing to go back in the past because we keep recreating this trauma as the white Americans when we inflicted this trauma on Black people, on native Americans, it traumatized us as well. Obviously the trauma isn’t the same because we weren’t the ones being physically harmed, but what it did to our minds, what it did to our spirit to do that to someone, I think that’s the root of our white fragility today and why we can’t have a productive conversation about race because all the deep-seeded guilt and shame from all those things is very, very deep inside of us. So I think we all would benefit from a healing process.
Jamarlin Martin: I want to thank Karen Fleshman. Where can people check you out on Twitter and your website?
Karen Fleshman: http://racyconversations.com/, @KarenFleshman is my Twitter and please, please #StopKavanaugh.
Jamarlin Martin: Also, you can go back to the GHOGH episode number 10, where Karen shares her story with us. Again, that’s episode 10. You can also check out Karen there.
Karen Fleshman: Thank you Jamarlin. It’s always a pleasure. You’re one of my favorite people.
Jamarlin Martin: Thank you. Let’s GHOGH! Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at https://moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!