Don't Label Me
Lily in the Field: Trust Issues
* “Now he says, ‘Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.'”
Source: Van Jones quoting Teddy Roosevelt, Slate LIVE, October 11, 2017. Slate.com has not archived this interview.
Reforming a White Nationalist
* “‘I had this class… in which a student presented her film about her transgender friend.'”
Source: Phone interview with Daniel [pseudonym] on August 4, 2016.
* “For one thing, Black’s parents, both atheists, raised him to believe in the rationality of white nationalism.”
Source: Derek Black and Matthew Stevenson interviewed by Krista Tippett, “On Being” podcast, May 17, 2018, 4:15-4:45. Unless otherwise stated, all quotes attributed to Black and Stevenson in this chapter come from this podcast.
* “‘I don’t want people to take my story as, ‘Oh, we should just listen to white nationalists; we shouldn’t shout them down… We should counterprotest, too, so it’s complicated.'”
Source: Derek Black interviewed by Brian Lehrer on The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, August 23, 2017, 15:46-16:05.
* “From Derek Black’s perspective, ‘that kind of persuasion happens in person-to-person interactions and it requires a lot of honest listening on both sides.'”
Source: Derek Black, “Why I Left White Nationalism,” The New York Times, November 26, 2016.
* “…’People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for them.'”
Source: Katherine Cramer quoted by Jeff Guo, “A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry – that actually makes sense,” The Washington Post, November 8, 2016.
* “Citing facts that dispute other people’s biases ‘doesn’t actually make them more empathetic’ to a new point of view… What makes people willing to hear difference is knowing and trusting people whose worldview differs from their own.'”
Source: dana boyd, “Why America is Self-Segregating,” Zephoria.org, January 10, 2017.
* “‘If we want to develop a healthy democracy… we need contexts in which the American public voluntarily struggles with the challenges of diversity to build bonds that will last a lifetime.'”
Tolerating the Intolerant?
* “I can’t claim this for every man on a homicidal mission, but the guys I met left militant Islam after they felt heard…”
Note: One of them, Rafiullah Kakar, appeared with me on India’s WION-World Is One News. Journalist Rohit Gandhi interviewed both of us alongside Anantha Duraiappah, head of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace. The broadcast aired in India on September 24 and 25, 2016.
* “‘When the opposition adopts extreme positions… it can expand the president’s electoral base because it provokes a merger of die-hard supporters and ambivalent moderates.”
Source: Javier Corrales, “Polarize and Conquer,” The New York Times, October 8, 2017.
* “By all means take a firm stand, but ‘avoid emulating the president’s escalation tactic, so as not to validate the image that the president wants to portray…'”
* “Voters whom some researchers describe as ‘the exhausted majority.'”
Source: Stephen Hawkins, Daniel Yudkin, Miriam Juan-Torres, and Tim Dixon, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape (New York: More in Common, 2018), pp. 109-115.
For an extended discussion about “the exhausted majority,” listen to researcher Tim Dixon on “The Good Fight” podcast, October 24, 2018.
The Other "N-Word"
* “‘People can say what they want about queers and homos and whatnot… but I’ve never, ever, ever been woken up on a Saturday morning with a group of homos knocking on my door, asking me to join their church.'”
Source and note: “QueerTelevision,” Citytv, January 23, 2000.
Watch this video for an example of how my team and I created a conversation from viewer feedback.
Safe Spaces for All!
* “‘That’s because humans are masters of self-deception.”
Note: A brilliant discussion of this uncomfortable truth can be found in Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).
* “It’s called ‘psychological safety.'”
Source and note: Charles Duhigg, “What Google Learned Form Its Quest To Build The Perfect Team,” The New York Times Magazine, February 28, 2016.
* “I heard a three-star general tell cadets at West Point, ‘We want to build teams where everybody feels like a valued member.'”
Source: General Robert Caslen, Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, speaking to cadets on February 14, 2018. As a keynote speaker at the National Conference on Ethics in America, hosted at West Point that same day, I was attended General Caslen’s talk.
* “The trigger warnings helped prepare them emotionally to read detailed accounts of combat.”
Note: A similar story has been reported by Emma Pettit, “How 3 Professors Use Trigger Warnings In Their Classrooms,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 6, 2016.
* “During the presidency of Barack Obama, some Christians interpreted his reference to ‘freedom of worship’ as disrespect of their faith.”
Source: Ashley E. Samuelson, “Why Freedom Of Worship Is Not Enough,” First Things, February 22, 2010.
* “I’ve learned that the sentence, ‘You speak English very well” qualifies as a microaggression.”
Source: Kelly Wyer, “Microaggressions: What You Need to Know,” UCLA Ampersand, June 2, 2015.
* “Among the findings was this jewel: 77 percent of the Latinos polled believed it’s ‘not offensive’ to be told they speak English well.”
Source: Conor Freidersdorf, “Who Is Competent to Decide What Offends?” The Atlantic, October 16, 2017.
* “Inside the pro-diversity posse, ‘It’s cool to be offended.'”
Source: Phone interview with Chyna [real name], August 4, 2016.
Lily in the Field: Blunt Talk
* “You enjoy learning, so I’m alerting you to a concept from social science: ‘egocentric bias.'”
Source: Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2015), pp. 49-51.
* “‘The Great Chain of Being,’ your species once termed it.”
Source and note: Adam Gopnik, Angels and Ages: A Short Book Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), p. 191.
Gopnik writes lyrically about how Charles Darwin viewed the so-called lesser beings among us — namely, that he didn’t treat them as lesser at all. Instead, Darwin put himself in “a personal relation with his subject, probing, testing, sympathizing, playing the bassoon while the earthworms listen and striking the piano while they cower, and trying in every way to see who they are and where they came from and what they’re like — not where they stand in the great chain of being beneath us, but where they belong in the great web of being that surrounds us, and includes us.”
Lest anyone think this vision a tad too gauzy, read up on how termites can prepare human beings for the future: Lisa Margonelli, “What Termites Teach Us About Robot Cooperation,” Wired, August 9, 2018.
* “James Baldwin asked white folks why they need to invent the so-called ‘nigger.'”
Note: Baldwin first articulated this question in the 1963 documentary, “Take This Hammer,” but then went on to write about it prolifically in books and magazine articles.