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Mitch Landrieu (Ep. 7, 2020)

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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Radio. We speak with former New Orleans. Mayor Mich Landrieu author of a report on the way Americans is in the south experience issues of race and class marriage. Tell us about your new initiative and nonprofit. Well look you had asked me before about what was it like growing up here when I decided to run for the legislature. I spent sixteen years there. I was the lieutenant governor the state the two terms and I how was the mayor for eight and after thirty years of service you know I came to believe and I still believe today that no matter what issue we were talking about you pick anyone anyone. Recreation libraries healthcare education transportation budget. Whatever it was race is always right under the surface in this and it's part a part B? They experienced taken down. Those monuments told me there's wound is still open. And it's because we've never really dealt with it. We've never oh really had a good conversation about race because we don't know how to talk about it. It becomes emotional. We you know we have words that trigger certain things and you know my my theory Gary is that unless we get through this unless we actually do do the hard work of getting through race and get to the other side because I believe there is another side. Because that's what I founding father said or would they spy to almetco created equal or e poor pursuing them which means out of many one that was a national motto. That's true you know that's a nice talk but the question is we walk into walk and so I wanted to work in this space and decided instead of telling people what to do you know I. I want to listen to what it is. They were saying it was on their heart so I took a team of researchers and we traveled across the whole South and Went to twenty eight different communities and thirteen states. I mean we went everywhere. We went Alabama Georgia Mississippi. We were through the Delta and went through Appalachia we we even jumped over the Houston in Florida. Although sometimes they don't consider themselves to be part and And we had eight hundred interviews individual interviews and talk to people about where they weren't what they were thinking about and you know. Our report is is called divided by design dot. Org You can go on a website. Look at it it's interactive you can touch touch on it and they can show you where we went and who we talked to and what they said we did this massive poll in the poll results in there and came up with a bunch of different insights. And what we WANNA do is help. The people figure out in communities throughout the country how to deal with this issue recognize that if they're understand that it's hard talk through it and let's get to the other side odd because diversity in my opinion is a strength. It's not a weakness and if we keep being divided we're not gonNA ever not everybody's GonNa have the same opportunities everybody else in the the country is GonNa be worse for it so the whole part. It's all about making the country strong again and making sure everybody's got equal opportunity. Responsibility in the report in in your opinion are obviously all the insights are significant. But take us through some that that you think we need to really focus focus on in the near future well first of all. We can't do everything now. We learned a lot a lot of stuff and the poll reflects its out commended to people to read it and to read the the report but we Kinda took all that information you know for eight hundred interviews from eleven months of work and we bought it down to fifteen conclusions. I'm not going to go through every you WANNA go through a couple of one of the conclusions that we drew based on what people told us. What the things that we saw and the evidence that we we found was that white people who responded to the survey participated? Don't have a strong sense of or knowledge of institutional racism. They don't they they don't understand really what it is. They think that racism is just limited to individual acts of malice towards another person of a different color By using a racial epithet or something in that sort african-americans on the other hand clearly understand that that's racism but they also feel very strongly that almost to a person that they have experienced some form of institutional racism in other words they have they have been treated unfairly. They have not gotten the benefit of the doubt and retreated negatively by institutional designs like redlining or the criminal justice system or where bus-lines began in a bus line in how neighborhoods design school districts created. And it's a very impactful important part and they don't understand why people don't understand that that's one of the big takeaways which means you were living a block apart but a world away from each other which is another conclusion that notwithstanding the fact that some areas terrorism I it is pretty much live segregated lives so those are the two what I would consider to be negative takeaways. A couple of positive takeaways is that everybody irrespective of race creed or color believes that everybody is entitled to Equal Opportunity. They want their children to do better than And they believe that diversity is a strength not a weakness in other words. Almost every person that we talked to in the survey said they liked the idea idea of America being a melting pot. In other words this was I made this. I was happy about this because in the current national debate that ideas actually being challenged. There are some people that say. No I don't WanNa live in that kind of world. I actually believe in you you you stay here. I'M GONNA go over here. I win you lose. That's not what we heard in the poll on the ground in the neighborhoods in urban or rural areas. That's good and the third thing we heard that was good. Was that when we come together. The people like coming together around art and music sports in other words. There are things that can bring us together if we allow them to. You know you know we took all that information and said you know what are we going to do with one of the things we WANNA do is set up of an organization that helps number one educate most Americans about what the real history of our country is so that they can begin to understand institutional racism which clearly exists. Secondly we are going to Use Art Music Culture Sports to help change those stores and bring people together. Third thing we're going to do is we want to help train leaders and communities about what an equity agenda and would look like how equality and equity of two different things and that if you really mean that everybody should have an equal opportunity that you have to design systems to do it and effectively lead. The conclusion was big picture was that the country is the way it is because we designed it this way and if we're divided somebody designed it so that we can be divided and if we wanted to together we gotta redesign it. We gotta fix what we broke. You know. Pick up where we messed up. And there's a pathway to do that if people are willing to give each other the benefit ah out and see each other see the humanity another person their respective of their race creed or they call all the sexual orientation etcetera etcetera. You talked earlier about us as a reluctant to actually address race. Why you are conducting the survey? Were these individuals open about their feelings of the of the information. You is trying to ascertain from them particularly you know we had them. We had the way we listen. We yet the answer's Yes. Because the way we did this was not in public meetings more challenging people publicly where people were showing up. You know people getting to they want to show you go so we have an individual interviews with people in private. You know settings where they tell us what they really thought and now we had some small what they call focus focus groups where they were eight or nine people in the room together feeling comfortable. We had a couple of community-wide meetings but there wasn't mostly that and they won't and they warrant mostly political. They should like it wasn't the political leaders of the town. In what like the kind of meeting that. I would've conductive hours the mayor. They'll more quiet settings so that people could feel comfortable so someone a person of color said something that offended another person. That wasn't calling in the wrong. They could say well. I don't understand that without getting into a big fight or explain that to to me. You know things like that so we think we got the real people's real heart's on on what they thought about these issues. I mean it's it's certainly not thackery sank and it's not the seminal study that's ever been done but I came away both frustrated. You know at People's lack of knowledge of history like you know what the goals of the civil war was Or whether Columbus really discovered America. He's so frustrated by that. But what you learn is people people people you know what they learned and there are some people who say in a non hateful way. Hey Man. I just didn't know that now that I know they didn't know read law like a lot of white folks don't don't know what redlining it don't understand it and have a hard time believing that it happened so you show them you said wait. Let me show you the document where it actually is a federal regulation nation. That says you know. Basically I'm paraphrasing but you can't lend money to black vote to live in that neighborhood they're gonna say yes that actually. That actually is true and it really did happen. Then they go. Gosh I didn't know that so now that you know it what do you think about it. Well that's not a good idea. Now that does the difference between as you know jury Mhm By law and by fact. And here's another thing you could change the law all you want. But if you don't change people's hearts you know you got you. Could you could potentially sit in. And the same situation for a long period of time and that is clear about the school districts that we have drawn in this country but the neighborhoods that people choose to live in you know because if you can flee quote unquote you can if. You're not the juice if you got the juice to leave that you do you know and sticking is a lot harder for people so we learned some of that to the good news is that people did find I was. I was surprised that that people are willing notwithstanding. The national noise is which is terrible right now coming out of the White House in other places but on the ground on the ground where feet meet the pavement on the grass. You know in the neighborhood. What did the churches people are? More open than they have been In a long time because they think I think they now know how important is dangerous. It's going to be in this country if we don't figure out how to get along. Were there any mindset that was equal as far as bove races wine the same thing for for for the children. Oh after one hundred percent everybody wants a better life of the kid one hundred percent now they have a different idea about how to get there. you know are about. Who's WHO's ahead ahead and WHO's behind a lot of white folks have participated in the survey? Don't understand the term white privilege you know. I know that's getting so there are certain words that have that kind of moving into you. Know Common language that we use reparations. White privilege institutional racism does not really early a common understanding of what that means those words themselves. When you start digging down a little bit more and you say to white people but let me explain what I might white meat by white privilege? Can you ever remember when you might have gotten the benefit of the doubt that maybe one of the African American neighbors would not have got. Do you understand. Oh I understand that a little bit. What do you understand that if your son got pulled over by the police that he would be treated a certain way and a young boy of caller who was his same age would have been treated the differently? Oh Yeah Yeah yeah I understand understand that maybe your mom and daddy might have been able to pass a little bit of wealth now until you but that might not have happened. Oh Yeah Yeah. Yeah so well. Now that I've told you that could you see maybe that we call that white privilege. You get that they go. Oh yeah what. I didn't realize that's what you're talking about. See what I'm saying. And so on the same thing on reparations which most everybody that responded to a survey that was white said. I'm not you know what I didn't have anything to do with that. I'm not responsible. No I'm not writing the check and that was almost universally true in the African American community that could be the african-american generally thought you know what I'm in favor of reparation. Big Divide vied between that so when you started to start talking about well it didn't have to be a check. Maybe maybe it could be something else. Don't you think that if you ran into the back of somebody's car it was damage. You should fix it or if you broke something you should clean it up. Well Yeah I guess I can see that so you can start to see if you were trying to get to another place. One extreme extreme writing a check another stream is not doing anything. Well maybe there's something in between that gets you to well restructuring the design of the system. That's GonNa give everybody an opportunity that you say that you want so you know I I hear openness in that other people here where you're not exactly agreeing with me so I'm not GonNa talk to you anymore. I just think in the world that we live in if you at the table and you're talking and there's a there's a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how small of as You keep moving towards. What's that if you want reconciliation now? There's some people that don't want reconciliation. There's some people without power in the country's got decide what it wants man it'll be because because it's just not gonNA be easy. No I'm just saying at the end of the day. If you want to reconcile I mean if you got kids you know how this works when there is an offense had somebody has to say. I'm sorry I gotTa beating knowledge whatever wrongdoing and at some point you have to say I forgive you now sometimes in families. There's fifty years between those two things. Things are a hundred years or never gets done..