tv After Words Patrisse Khan- Cullors When They Call You a Terrorist CSPAN February 10, 2018 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
>> you can watch this and other programs online booktv.org. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. >> next on afterwards, black lives matter cofounder patrice discusses her life, activism in the beginning of the black lives matter movement. she's interviewed by an author and journalist. the top nonfiction authors and their latest work. >> patrice, your book is
beautiful and powerful and heart wrenching. it's sort of like a little bit of a cage bird thing and monster there something else in their. >> other certain books that you have read that he thought here's a northstar if i could just get close to that i would be happy. >> i live off of memoirs, i think elaine brown and malcolm x, i spent a lot of time taking into the stories of my personal heroes. their journeys were so significant and important. it really shaped how i wanted to talk about my book.
what i love about those books as it doesn't just talk about the store but gives contacts about what's happening. and i do that in the book. >> as someone who's done a few of those unwanted know how you worked, how long did it take. >> i think it was a better timeline, the time i spoke to nine months later we're getting a book deal. is pretty quick in the literary world. they said you have a book in you. i wasn't thinking about that. it was the height of black lives matter. there was what the next protest gonna be and i kinda played with ideas on ahead and outline.
and then i went back to organizing the daily grind. as i started to see the ramping up of the right ring calling right wing the terrorist group and selling my face on bill o'reilly's show when i said okay needs right those things. someone asked if i wanted to publish a book, this i definitely do it and i think she could see a collaborative you they called immediately and said before i wanted to get it up asap for sure. heidi want to shape this and
what's gonna be important for us to read. i will be important for people to read a year from now. and that became the centerpiece of how we wrote it. >> is a just you talking in oshawa recording in? >> it was both. it was her often we spend early mornings on the west coast at 6:00 a.m. talking to different experiences ahead. it should write out a first draft and i would look it over. it should have the stories and talk about how i wanted it written. and wanting to dig in to the research part of it will go back and forth research about what to
uplift in the book. it became this beautiful collaboration and i feel very privileged for my first book to have been co-authored with someone who listens and takes the time and really is trying to hear the truly know the story. >> for me part of the true line of the story is consistently systems failed her. twelve step system, educational, justice system, set up to sociey leave you in a chaotic situation, and a deprive situation, not having your father brother, he did not physically with you are not present with the because they're
damaged by. to begin to talk about when you are arrested in front of your class at 12 years old. let's just start with the impact of all of the systems failing to over and over and the impact on you. >> i think when erica garner passed several weeks ago the first thing i thought about was black women get left behind. we don't get served in this place. not only to not get served we have to take on the mantle of everybody else. we suffer because of it. part of being in a movement and trying to challenge government local state and national means you're sacrificing along you're sacrificing your sanity and your health because the system is a well oiled machine with lots of
money and lots of resources you're often left to try to figure out what resources you could piece together to ensure your humanity and dignity. you write the system failed me and my mother and siblings. the failed my community. that's why they started because the system failed trayvon martin and his family is why so many black activists. in the fight. >> you talk about the impact and you make the leap to one of the most powerful and difficult moments when there's a police swat right gear rate on where you live looking for somebody but you think they were looking
to harass you and they say back off and their small children in this moment having gone and pointed at the can you talk about this moment the cops and right cured depending on you in your apartment. >> it was a beautiful summer day in los angeles. the community i lived in have been there for decades. to the artist village and the helicopter police were out and i have been a shooting at the police station right across the street from my village. they literally created a barrier in our neighborhood. for hours and hours the helicopters were circling. and i said to the prisoners with i have to not come in for us.
what are the odds. and they didn't, they came into her village of it right -- >> i believe there's about eight cottages in the village and yet they came to my cottage. this is the height of me working on challenging the law enforcement the people inside sales in l.a. county. there is not care with big military grade weaponry and i asked who it is and i know better than to not open up the door fully. because then it gives the police the right to come into your home. so they say it's lapd i would be the shooters in your home.
and i said there's no shooter my home. i opened the door and stepped outside and i said what would you like those visibly shaking. the officer said to me why you nervous? on december you nervous and you are in right gear and often times law-enforcement kills my community. some extremely nervous. and he said man were just here to protect you. the dog sniff the shooters sent in your home. and i said nobody's here. i have my friend here and his daughter went back inside. and then i heard him talking outside and said i think the
shooters in there and she was nervous because she was forcing being forced to say that. i was talking to my friend and daughter in lake i need us to be calm and have her handset. i was going through it with them. in a move could have gotten a skill. they knock on the door again they say we have to search your home. and i said okay. i'd like to have my friend my daughter grout first with her handset. i will let you know my friend and my daughter he's not the shooter. it's peaceful and they went outside and had their guns drawn and they set them down and i went outside the search my home. i have no idea what they did and
later on the detectives came and took pictures. i know i had to leave and couldn't stay anymore. >> this happens in your adult life, but at 12 you are arrested in front of your class this is your sixth or fifth grade class. >> my seventh grade class. >> on suspicion of having smoked weed in the back bathroom. >> that you did smoke weed. >> i did. >> but even if you're guilty the system fails a 12-year-old and handcuffing a mentoring in front of the class. what was that experience like was a long-term impact? >> i had actually forgotten that
i was arrested because she wanted to hear more about my childhood. i talked often about my brothers and friends and then i just said that i was 12 she said what happen when you're 12? i went on to say when i was 12 officer came into my science class in summer school and he whispered to the science teacher and the next thing i knew my name is being called was being handcuffed. >> so the moment that the 12-year-old patrice was handcuffed in front of your seventh grade class what was the? >> sure they're still vibrant and energy. >> it was so scary and i could
remember was my response which was how was i going to tell my mother. i was already thinking about my brother being incarcerated multiple times as a juvenile. so now my mother will have to deal with me. i remember them search my bags and i just felt terrible. now that i'm adult what they should've done was brought in the school counselor and said what's going on but obviously something happen. but there is no support, they call my mom and lied and i went back to class i am it created such a sour feeling for me. it made me feel like a school
system didn't want me there didn't need me there is interested invested in me. remember the middle school is my neighborhood school very different than the school actually went to which was outside my neighborhood. the annapolis schools i saw the difference in how i would be treated on the rest of my community was treated as a first-time they arrested me with the med school. i go to this other school people are smoking weed and doing all sorts of things on campus and not once i they arrested. >> part of what your underlying is what we criminalize and attack drug use as a personal
feeling and put people in jail for as opposed to treating it passionately in many european countries. you really learn and attack this personal notion. you're talking about external factors is asker bait drug use. twelve-step programs you are the problem in this is something i have dealt with a lot less about people not feeling valued as people. in the criminalizing them misses the point. >> yes. i would say that is true in some people use drugs and are fine. >> many people use drugs in a nonabusive way.
>> the word drugs has not just created law is. >> it's a really dangerous thing to do. when you're a drug addict it's easier to dehumanize and make excuses of why you should be locked up. many people where my family is drugs and radix and many used drugs were not addicts. we have to have a much more nuanced conversation. we have allowed the war on drugs narrative to shape our narrative of who is a drug user. >> even the conversation of drugs is not nuanced enough. marijuana is not addictive in this physical way it does that make you do violent things. so to say your drug user.
>> that conversation also needs to be had. i don't like marijuana because it makes you go to sleep but if i gave you white wine you say but if you learn the grape you learn the difference. >> prison is a huge part of this as a destructive part of your childhood even as you were never inside for anything that you have done, but your father and your brother going inside and being dehumanize there's a painful, difficult perjury about the systematic torture that happens that your brother went through it's hard to read.
although you live through it. >> yes, what we live in is a society and culture that not only does not give options for people who are mentally ill and especially their poor and black, but they don't give them anything. and they don't provide their families anything. what ends up happening is people with severe mental illness end up on the street or they are criminalize for been homeless mentally ill sometimes drug users and drug addicts whether criminalize and end up in jail spending years not getting healthier being overmedicated and not receiving the treatment it deserves. you cannot get well in the cell. but rather in his situation and that being a casualty to the war
and the mentally ill. and so my family becomes the front liner for him. i liner in the care and an advocate for him. it's a wear-and-tear in families has someone with an mental illness. i talked to families of all races because mental illness is a hard process to go through and we still do not have a researcher answers around what it is and how to treat it. some people get experimented on and they take medications that make them overweight and unhealthy. my brother has diabetes now because of his medication. there is a way in which we have to change how we care for people
with mental illness. we have to shape our society very differently. >> we know that prison creates crime and turns people into criminals make some more violent criminals and separates of their families and law-abiding citizens and turns them into underground -- and were talking in the specific about wanting the prison free world. what does that look like? some folks say that we need to put some people in prison? they may realize that doesn't even function as a deterrent what is that look like? so you also want a world without police so what does america look like without police or prisons? >> me make it clear, think of
people here that they think they're grossly crazy leftists again. i want a world of people are held accountable and they feel safe. and if we look at prison and please, are people held accountable they're not. if i talk to people victims of crime, my family has been a victim of crime, there's a idea of who the victim of crime is, victims of crime are also black people in poor neighborhoods. sm if they feel like they got accountability when someone was sent to jail or prison and there say no. i still have a job there so crime in my neighborhood and i still don't feel safe. >> they're dealing with the criminals in their community quite often when the police show up things get really bad. >> the other piece so said the
last 40 or 50 years completely investing in place in prisons and not invest in things like housing access to healthy food, adequate public education, and we seen the impact of it. imagine if we flipped it if we put half of the police budget and put it into social programming, what can we do for a human being, what can we do for someone like my father. but if we had resources to thrive and not survive. imagine if my brother monty was diagnosed earlier and given a juvenile hall where youth authority camp i think you'd be able to hold a job. i think he would not have compounded ptsd.
so there's a way in which i'm trying to have a larger conversation. >> up no new for several years now and i see as a person of great joy in efficacy. great self-esteem, you see very hopeful and optimistic leverage your story and it is pain and deprivation, dads and shell, brothers and in the, the homophobia you're dealing with, all of these things. like how does this person get to this person and am i wrong? are you not happy inside? >> i am happy inside but i do battle with some depression. if you're living in this country on this moment and you're [inaudible] the side of white
nationalists is pretty said to be in this country. >> so how do you get to the jury and the optimists that you have when so much has gone wrong. >> that's a good question. when things that i have a mother who has been through way worse than literally makes up at 5:00 a.m. singing. like i was raised around people like she is happy. but she's a source of my joy a call my mother every day we talk about everything, she is such a source of my resilience but also proud to be part of a movement that is changing the world. his hard-working challenging but also its work that revives my
spirit and soul to be a part of something that hopefully in a hundred years were not having that same conversation. >> the joy that you describe there is not in the book, she is a serious important character but also one who has is carrying the world on her back. you say don't remember ever going to a movie or windowshopping, i don't remember us together as relax. we always had to be doing that she's always working and stress filled with guilt. >> it was hard witnessing that. we had to unlearn a lot of things and i have been very dedicated to my relationship with my mother and growing with
her. she's been the primary childcare providers to my child. brings her great source of joy being a gram parent. but she made sure environment was managed because she was doing everything. making sure we had shelter and figuring out how to raise four children. she is trying to make sure we have food on the table and make sure we're surviving. i cannot imagine the stress that can cause an individual. support kids by the time she was 27. obviously she has support sometimes but she largely did alone. >> is your baby going to grow up and say my mom was always doing.
>> no. that's interesting that you ask that. when you witness someone else working like that it's easy to be like that. i do spend a lot of time with my child and try to find ways and i think about my mom a lot and how i create a different environme environment. >> your father is a bigger character in the book when you get into the book lc why that happens that talking about why he has a drug problem you talk what is the impact of years of's trip searching and being bent over, views before that when no dream you had for several taking seriously. you are not fully invested interviewed viewed as
worthwhile, what is the impact of not being valued and some will say he's a drug addict because he's a black man who lacks character lives in the hood but your like yes he's a black man was always told your nothing. what you think will happen? >> and for my father's character he was such an amazing human being. i was ready to process and the go-between with the siblings. he is so intelligent curious about learning and about himself his life was cut too short. i remember the day he passed like it was yesterday. remember getting the call and
sitting over his dead body. and i just said he didn't deserve this. he deserved a longer life. he died of a heart attack, of a broken heart. i just think so many of us who grew up in communities that were impoverished that witness her parents and her family struggle so much that we deserve so much more. this book is calling for that. we deserve so much more. . .
harriet tubman has been a huge influence for me. a huge influence. i remember how she was talked about. they often talked about how she was very feminine and i felt like i could relate to her character so much and then to later learn that she was much more than someone who was you know strong. she went back and freed her own family. she was a nurse. she created a nursing home for black elderly folks who had fled slavery. she just becomes such a thought of an important character in my own life and trajectory. >> host: let's talk about the folks you have been advocating for, folks that are no longer
here. are there one or two of these black deaths that have haunted you were hurt you more or hit worse than some of the others? >> guest: i get choked up thinking about her because heather bland had family speak from youtube. i considered her a member of black lives matter, larger movement and she was so inspirational and so brilliant. i could have been her. i still could be. you could still be in a one those black women activists who have been inside of a jail cell who have interacted for direct action and sandra story, she was going to go get her dream job. she was going to get her dream
job and instead of that cop letting. , instead of him not stopping her. he did not need to stop her but instead of letting. he pulled her out, richter out of the vehicle and arrested her and she was killed in a jail cell. >> host: is it your opinion that officers fashioned a news, put her in it? >> guest: is my opinion that she was dead before that incident and that unfortunately sci w. it's a prison in california there has been a string of suicides. they all looked the same. the women who hang themselves but when you get the autopsy back, they have bruises so they
probably died before. i think sandra did not commit suicide. no way did she commit suicide when she had just talked about about -- talked to her since sister about going to court and not letting her out. something happened and they covered it up. >> host: are you afraid of being killed? >> guest: i think any black person in america is afraid of being killed and if you are black person with an accent like me who have been the target of death threats, yes i am afraid of losing my life in this country because of my accent. it's not something i think about a lot because i think if i did i wouldn't go out on stages and media events but i try to keep myself a secure and safe as
possible. >> host: i don't believe you when you say if i thought her about it i wouldn't do it. >> guest: do you think i would still do at? >> host: i think you would still do it and we have talked about it for. you feel the fear and you know it's real and you because of who you are you have to go through the wall ease of -- even as it may damage you. >> guest: that's true. there are moments where i have more anxiety than others. i went to the capitol and it was clear that i needed security and i needed them to be vigilant and multiple people try to come up to the stage and stood in line waiting for me and people they had to escort out. and there are other places that i feel safe and i don't feel what i have to have my guard up as much but yes, you are right.
i don't obsess about it. i do think about it for my safety but i can imagine not being part of the solution. >> host: not to obsess on that but what is the scariest moment where somebody was coming at you in some way and not police obviously that civilians. >> guest: it is hard because you want to be safe but you also don't want to create a militarized environment for your own safety. and it's tricky. it's why something like the noi was created. security for the nation because you couldn't trust the police a lot of us are creating our own security and safety. we don't necessarily have to use
law enforcement when we go out and about but it's scary. it's stressful feeling like you might be attacked and i think for many of us which is kind of power through it. >> host: when i first heard the phrase black lives matter is so powerful and it became this multitude already and it's just like we have this feeling and it related to i am a man and the things that reverend jackson and dr. king had said in the 60s and 70s but within your circle just before there was this discussion like maybe not. maybe it's too much. talk about that a little. >> guest: the first time we took it to our own people, our
own movement people had some comments. why not our lives matter in marginalized communities. if you never tried to look for funding i don't know if they will fund that and we are clear. no one is talking about black people anymore and everybody is talking about a post-racial america so we have to talk about how black folks are one of the most vulnerable groups if not the most vulnerable group in this country and across the world. >> host: do white lives matter matter? >> guest: white lives matter, asian lives matter, of course. but black lives matter is the calling, the call to action because for us we believe when you deal with the mass of black
racism you get to feel lots of different issues out there. >> host: in some ways people may not realize is the phrase white lives matter is the inherent value of their lives is in society the inherent value of black, brown,, female lives are not then that's what it comes down to. some of them are offended by black lives matter because they are like fish swimming in water. they don't realize the inherent value of whiteness is a -- by society. >> guest: that's exactly right and that's what makes people so angry. they are like whoa what about us and that's the wrong question to be asking. it's always been about you. >> the question we should be asking is how do we participate
excess if black lives matter we can be in better consciousness. we can have a better society and a more just society. everybody should want that living in this country. >> host: i want to go through it again because i even think about that heineken commercial inventing the hip-hop scratch by accident. it seems we do things accidental or instinctive and part of this story of black lives matter is the alicia wrote the letter and you added the #and it went viral and here we are. you describe more specifically here some of the careful thought
i'll work, communications and michael work you did to make it go viral. so talk about how you made it go viral. it bothers me to hear people say it just went viral, who knew? >> guest: and also trained to make something go viral not just on social media but to resonate in the streets. we are trained organizers. and that's okay and that's really good. you want people who are trained to develop an infrastructure but as we created black lives matter we have to get people on board. people often try to co-opt black lives matter so we spend a significant time challenging people in our own movement sometimes, people that we love and art is to not say our lives
matter, to not use it in to say other communities matter but to focus on black people it to be okay. to be allied and be a solidarity with people in that way ticket to the world that we asked the world, do you see this as a call as a banner for themselves? i'm really proud that black lives matter has permeated our culture. >> everywhere. the every major tv show and the black lives matter team ends because it's become a part of american culture to have an homage to push and challenge an honest conversation about racism in this country. has it resulted in law enforcement changing their actions? not yet and i think that is the next phase of black lives matter matter, how we actually shift our elected officials and shift the states and really and truly
those individual officers and also the agency itself to change the way they relate to black people. >> host: so the next step is to work with the state, the first step was not with the state. the next step is working with the state to create laws and policies that will give you -- >> guest: i don't think it's working with this day. there are elected officials that are on the side of black lives matter. in a good elected visual, any good movement can challenge elected officials but what i'm hoping is the next iteration of black lives matter is challenging, challenging elected officials to create real and sustainable action that will ensure that black people are not being killed by law enforcement.
let's take los angeles for example the district attorney. we have had the most killings of all the cities have happened in los angeles. our d.a. has not prosecuted a war wand so we have our local chapter and allies going on the streets and challenging them to prosecute law enforcement and i think that's an important piece of the work. we have done the shutdown. we have done the protests. we will continue to do that but how do we change legislation? how do we ensure that we can have change that will last for decades? >> host: but if you are talking about the next step then why were you not more verbal and attacking trump? >> guest: we were. >> host: we will make the
difference. i am not really part of this conversation. people talking about hillary will usher in freedom you know that but this is far worse. it seems like you know obama, romney black lives matter yeah, yeah six and 1/2 dozen but trump trump. >> guest: at they say this. the democratic party i think was very useful enough almonds and the democratic party has really milked the black voters and has historically really not been on our side and if you factor in some of the biggest proponents of mass incarceration of black communities and this idea that we are going to have our lives
changed by hillary clinton and at the same time donald trump in the republican party started to see donald trump might win the republican party see many of the started going to those protests. they were extremely dangerous if you remember. those were the protest so it was much more about how do we save our energy? we don't have to interrupt them all the time though many of us did. but i think for folks across the country including the democratic party we didn't think -- we did things were going to win and that was the factor here. we didn't believe he was going to went so at the time people said, the time that the democratic party said because i don't want to blame our movement but some people might see it.
they could have done a much better job. i personally you know, we have to have an honest conversation about how much the democratic party doesn't relate to black people, doesn't relate to young black people and even after the defeat against roy moore in alabama is the demo credit party shifting its investments and priorities? it should be black women because that's who are at the helm of the party. >> host: black women remain the core of the democratic party and people realize that. i would love for the first march in beverly hills on rodeo drive and its revolutionary but it shouldn't be. i've seen so many marches through the hood protesting,
killing what have you and you are preaching to the choir. but you said no, let's go to their communities. >> guest: there was actually a group of us abdullah of the matter of black lives matter runs a class of students in that village that i lived in. we wanted to protest and we were protesting acquittals. one of the students actually said let's go to beverly hills. we go to lemur park all the time. what about rodeo drive? i said let's go. >> host: why rodeo drive. >> guest: rodeo drive is the epicenter of whiteness and the epicenter of wealth and it's the epicenter, is the antithesis of poor black communities.
it's where corporations thrive. it's where the kardashians and the big celebrities are seen and we want the experience the frustration and the pain and grief we want it -- and i remember the day of the protest. we took rodeo drive and i forced the people at the surrounding restaurants to put their champagne glasses down and put their forks down and take a moment. you don't have to live like this. imagine the impact that has on us and they did. they took a moment and did the prayer for trayvon martin. with trayvon the big harrow in that story are sybrina fulton
and tracy fulton. i remember listening to sabrina's voice as a saying don't forget about my son. she said don't forget about him and hearing her voice over and over is really what drove that protests. >> host: the first thing that i knew about that case i saw these beautiful images of him in his football uniform and this horrific image of george zimmerman and the mugshot. it was like this is the first time a black family has won the early media war which set up, he is a good kid. he should be respected and look at this monster and overtime the image started to change and they used an image from the game so now we are trying to change trayvon. that was fascinating to see that happen. we talk so much about your work
in the police and it's incredibly important that this book is also about your loves and your relationships and this relationship that works out with the straight man that ends because you choose it to end in and another relationship and one of the things you talk about in relation to your current relationship with a trans man, i am attracted to doug you said. for those who are straight and don't know the lingo what is it? >> guest: studs are masculine people who are born as women. it's language i use when i was younger. i think the masculine has taken over the world. i was attracted to masculine women and i knew it for a long
time. >> host: you said, you use the word clear. you are clearing you choose masculine energy so where does that fit in your head? you feel compelled to women. >> sexuality is so fluid and the relationship is so fluid. this idea of gender and masculinity and femininity can shift and change. also a lot of us -- the man that i'm attracted who are very feminine so i am interested in fluidity and how people play engendered and that's what i'm attracted to. >> host: your baby is 22
months and i know for me having children and a lot of people it opens us up to the world that makes us think about where is our world going. you were already in place. so i wonder how does having a child open you up further? politically speaking how has becoming a mother change due? >> it is changed everything because i think having a black family is a part of being able to sustain a black family and sustained lack children as a part of our resistance and it's also benefit marker for me. i get to go home to this baby who at this point has not been touched by the angst of racism and. he is present for his own joy and his tantrums and it's a
great reminder of our humanity. >> host: yes, you are so much and you have those moments to. pick up your close, stop crying come eat your vegetables just like all of us. do you have moments where you are like i should have held them them. >> guest: we have such good support and be so mild tempered but i mostly like having moments where i just need you to stop crying or yelling. i feel bad. he's just a kid. he only has this time for a little bit. >> host: every child rebels.
if he does this it's like its cool baby. what would it be? >> guest: i would be very challenged to see, right now he is a boy. i don't know what gender he is going to choose but if you were to grow up to be super patriarchal i would be very disappointed. that's hard knowing that you were going to be influence of like that. we think about that a lot as parents at least myself, how do we raise him to respect the women in his life when he is being raised by so many different genders. i think it's important for his health and well-being. >> thank you so much for your
referring to a speech he delivered about originalism and why is superior to what is called the living constitution approach to jurisprudence and i heard him deliver that speech in madison wisconsin in 2001. it's one he delivered very often often. it was a stump speech. i was looking forward to finding a written version of that because i loved that speech. it included a wonderful passage where he compared the living constitution approach to a television commercial from the 1980s where prego commercial where somebody is making pasta and heating up store-bought pasta sauce and the hostess says to his wife you are using the store-bought sauce, you are not doing it homemade? what about the oregano. the wife says, it's in there. what about the pepper? it's in there. the garlic? it in there and my dad would say we have that kind of the constitution now.
you want a right to an abortion, thin air. you want a right to die, it's in there. anything that's good ensure was beautiful, it's in there no matter what the text says and i thought being a pop-culture pop culture junkie myself and having watched that commercial with my father i love that passage. i was looking forward to finding it but he never actually apparently wrote that speech down. we have a version of it a very different version of it in the collection one he delivered in australia in the early 90s. but that particular version which he delivered very often he never wrote down. instead he wrote from a cliff series of notes that he called an outline. the outline was really just a set of props. if you didn't know the speech you would look at this outline in think what could this possibly mean? barrel me about 50 words on it. some of them are misspelled and
he would photocopy the outline and write notes on it for any given occasion so people he should thank think of the speech were new ideas that popped into his head get unfortunate there's no reference to the prego television commercial on the outline. we were surprised that that's how he did it but he knew what he wanted to say so clearly. it was easy for him to rip off that basic outline.