1 00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:06,874 2 00:00:06,874 --> 00:00:09,965 SPEAKER 1: What is it that you think is at the basis of the 3 00:00:09,965 --> 00:00:12,042 inequitable ways we treat each other? 4 00:00:12,042 --> 00:00:15,200 MICHELLE ALEXANDER: At the core of all of these systems 5 00:00:15,200 --> 00:00:19,860 of racial and social division and inequality, including the 6 00:00:19,860 --> 00:00:24,400 system of mass incarceration, is the belief that some of us 7 00:00:24,400 --> 00:00:28,640 are not worthy of genuine care, compassion, and concern. 8 00:00:28,640 --> 00:00:33,440 It's an idea that is deeply rooted in our psyches. 9 00:00:33,440 --> 00:00:39,220 It's a idea that was written into the US constitution with 10 00:00:39,220 --> 00:00:41,450 the 3/5 clause. 11 00:00:41,450 --> 00:00:46,840 And it is an idea that we will likely be wrestling with for a 12 00:00:46,840 --> 00:00:48,430 long time to come. 13 00:00:48,430 --> 00:00:52,860 But we cannot turn away from the challenge. 14 00:00:52,860 --> 00:00:57,890 And I think, really, the privilege of being alive today 15 00:00:57,890 --> 00:01:02,810 is the privilege of being able to work for racial and social 16 00:01:02,810 --> 00:01:06,390 justice and for the greater recognition of the unity and 17 00:01:06,390 --> 00:01:08,070 oneness of all. 18 00:01:08,070 --> 00:01:10,280 SPEAKER 1: Is there something about this that you'd conceive 19 00:01:10,280 --> 00:01:12,130 of as religious work? 20 00:01:12,130 --> 00:01:13,120 MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Absolutely. 21 00:01:13,120 --> 00:01:17,020 I think this is deeply spiritual work for me, and I 22 00:01:17,020 --> 00:01:20,680 think for so many of the people who are engaged in it. 23 00:01:20,680 --> 00:01:25,930 It's about how we view and value each other as human 24 00:01:25,930 --> 00:01:32,980 beings, whether we see in them genuine dignity and humanity, 25 00:01:32,980 --> 00:01:37,070 view them as children of God, or whether we view them as 26 00:01:37,070 --> 00:01:41,700 others who can be kicked to the curb and disposed of. 27 00:01:41,700 --> 00:01:48,270 And unfortunately, many of us who claim to care have been 28 00:01:48,270 --> 00:01:51,650 too willing to turn a blind eye to those who have been 29 00:01:51,650 --> 00:01:54,920 viewed as criminals, or viewed as others, because of the 30 00:01:54,920 --> 00:01:57,170 countries they came from or perhaps the 31 00:01:57,170 --> 00:01:58,845 mistakes they have made. 32 00:01:58,845 --> 00:02:02,480 SPEAKER 1: Here we are for five days, which I don't think 33 00:02:02,480 --> 00:02:06,280 of as an endpoint, but as a kick-off point. 34 00:02:06,280 --> 00:02:11,080 What do you think we can do as a movement, and as religious 35 00:02:11,080 --> 00:02:13,630 people, to work on this? 36 00:02:13,630 --> 00:02:15,150 MICHELLE ALEXANDER: I think one of the most important 37 00:02:15,150 --> 00:02:16,690 things that can be done, initially, is 38 00:02:16,690 --> 00:02:18,230 consciousness raising. 39 00:02:18,230 --> 00:02:22,680 And in fact, that's the main reason I wrote my book, and 40 00:02:22,680 --> 00:02:27,960 why I encourage others to see films, read books about these 41 00:02:27,960 --> 00:02:31,860 issues, because many of us think we know, but then 42 00:02:31,860 --> 00:02:34,870 realize with closer study and examination 43 00:02:34,870 --> 00:02:36,350 that, perhaps, we don't. 44 00:02:36,350 --> 00:02:39,370 And there are so many myths about the system of mass 45 00:02:39,370 --> 00:02:43,660 incarceration, about the nature of our economy, the 46 00:02:43,660 --> 00:02:45,730 structure of our government-- 47 00:02:45,730 --> 00:02:48,950 all of these things that affect our lives, our 48 00:02:48,950 --> 00:02:50,620 communities, so profoundly. 49 00:02:50,620 --> 00:02:53,200 And so I think the first step is engaging in consciousness 50 00:02:53,200 --> 00:02:57,730 raising, forming study circles, holding forums. 51 00:02:57,730 --> 00:03:02,970 And then the next step is to act on what we know, coming 52 00:03:02,970 --> 00:03:07,930 together as churches, as congregations, as communities, 53 00:03:07,930 --> 00:03:10,830 to take action, to do justice where we are 54 00:03:10,830 --> 00:03:11,680 and where we live. 55 00:03:11,680 --> 00:03:14,250 SPEAKER 1: How do you keep going considering what a long 56 00:03:14,250 --> 00:03:16,391 haul it is? 57 00:03:16,391 --> 00:03:19,540 MICHELLE ALEXANDER: I think that it's really remembering 58 00:03:19,540 --> 00:03:24,290 that it's the work itself is what makes life meaningful. 59 00:03:24,290 --> 00:03:27,260 It's not arriving at the promised land. 60 00:03:27,260 --> 00:03:29,120 It's the journey itself. 61 00:03:29,120 --> 00:03:33,580 And that's what keeps me going, because I know that 62 00:03:33,580 --> 00:03:38,740 it's unlikely that in my lifetime I'll be able to say, 63 00:03:38,740 --> 00:03:43,260 we've done it all, and that new challenges will be born. 64 00:03:43,260 --> 00:03:49,150 But our work today is to make the road by walking and to 65 00:03:49,150 --> 00:03:50,360 take the journey. 66 00:03:50,360 --> 00:04:08,360 [MUSIC PLAYING] 67 00:04:08,360 --> 00:04:15,767