tv After Words Robert Woodson Red White and Black - Rescuing American... CSPAN August 18, 2021 11:57pm-12:53am EDT
>> up next on booktv "after words" mr. woodson discusses his critique of the 1619 project with harvard law professor and author randall kennedy. "after words" is a weekly program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. >> i look forward very much to our discussion of your book, "red white and black rescuing american history from revisionists and race hustlers." why don't we begin by your telling the audience what you were offering in this book and
why they should want it? >> we wrote this in response to "the new york times" publication of 1619, the series of essays by journalists. in essence, it redefined america's birthday from 1776 to 1519 when at the time of the first slaves arrived on the shores of virginia. and it goes on to say that the revolutionary war was to defend laslavery and also made other false claims, but also it tried toca redefine america as systemically racist as all whites are villains and all blacks are victims. and it offers a very dire picture of the country.
it also makes the false claims the current challenges facing many in the community today are a direct legacy of a shadow of slavery and jim crow. so since the message here was black without the counter narrative should be also offered by blacks. but we didn't want to offer a point by point debate or rebuttal. we wanted to offer an inspirational or aspirational alternative narrative of acknowledging that it has been underreported and poorly examined. we acknowledge that. but the conclusions we reached were very different from that which were articulated in 1619
so we brought together a groupus of scholars, journalists and activists, different ideological stripes. so we offered these essays to offer, to establish the fact that 1776 is the birthday of america and the values of the founders have been the foundation upon which blacks were able to survive slavery and discrimination. the foundation of the family, faith and attitude of self-determination. so, we felt that it was important for this book to be written to give an alternative vision to america about we should never be defined by slavery or jim crow. we were more than that.
let me read the title again. red, white and black rescuing american history from revisionists and race hustlers. what is red, white and black supposed to signify? >> it signifies thatte black americans are a part of this nation. that we are not some species set apart and therefore, we claim this heritage. my father was a veteran of the first world war and died of war related wounds. so it signifies an integral part of the nation and deserve to be so but we also know that there have been people who have profited off of racial
grievance. i left the civil rights movement invi the 60s because i believed a lot of those did not benefit from the change and i remember demonstrating outside of the quiet laboratories when they desegregated they hired the chemists and when we ask these brothers and sisters to join us it isn't because of the sacrifices of people who were factory workers but those that didn't benefit. i have a headline in my office that was written by they do not
benefit from the gains of the civil rights movement and it goes on to list the other reasons. i believe there has been a bifurcation that existed and that continues to this day. >> okay. i still want to stick with your title for a bit. rescuing american history. >> yes. >> yes. american history as it was told unfolds in 1619 does not really talk about some of the essays for instance look atce the recod of six major plantations to look at what was happening in the family. they founded 70% and this
tradition of the two parent households continue for a century afterwards. during that period illiteracy rate was like 75% and in less than 50 years the number reduced to 25% to the point when they found there was very little they could do because the institutions that have been established was already attacking that problem and they found nowhere in the history of the world that people moved from 775% down to 25% in such a shot period of time. so in the essays, we also talk about how we achieved against
the odds under very difficult circumstances for instance in 1929 in chicago's section we were denied access to financing from banks, venture capital, 731 black-owned businesses in 1929 with $100 million of real estate assets and almost every major city it was kind of a black wall street. but these stories of triumph in the face of opposition are not shared with the public. so they were intended to share new insight. i spoke at the university in louisiana and when i shared with the students histories of those that achieved against the odds
some came back to me and said why don't they ever did for us the stories of triumph. why aren't we ever told this. >> just to finish it out, so you are rescuing american history and then from revisionists and race hustlers. sounds pretty uncomplimentary, pretty derogatory frankly. tell us what you mean by that. there are people that profit from the suffering of people. those today who are denigrating the police and as a consequence we have seen a rise in violence in these communities but if it
isn't occurring in the communities where a lot of the advocates are defunding so i spent 80% of the people that we serve at the woodson center that live in those at-risk communities. they are the ones that are 80%. a lot social injustice warriors campaigned on attacking the police and make generous and comes now fighting consulting services to school systems in the name ofui equity training ad racial audit, hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into what i call the
grievance industry and in fact if you look at the poverty program over the past 50 years i did a lot of research on where that money went. seventy cents of every dollar didn't go it went to those who served and they are the professional service providers so we created a commodity. so that's why after $22 trillion they are running these major centers will. why do we have the deterioration of the cities if poverty and race for the solution then why in the face of $22 trillion with most that are failing just
concentrating on race is not the answer. >> just a j moment ago you talk about race grievance and the perpetrators of race grievance. are there circumstances in which voicing a racial grievance is the right thingin to do? >> absolutely. i fought in the civil rights movement when it was the legitimate issue. i've been to jail. i s know what that's like. i lived in the segregated south and the military. i had 12 credits from the university when i couldn't walk on the campus because of segregation and what we demanded
then and also i know if a black committed a crime against another in the south often times they were not even punished for it. we said that the diminished black life but if a black committed a crime against a white person they were treated severely so we wanted to even theo playing field. we said we should be judged by a single standard of justice. but now this is changing to the point where eight thousands are killing others and there is no outrage from when 18 blacks are killed like in the george soros we treat it as if it is an epidemic and there's outrage about it. we then say that the police department is an extension of white supremacy and that we vilify them and as a consequence, they step back.
they live in communities with security so many that are advocating and vilifying them don't have to live with the consequence. you indicated in your last answer you are a person that lived a substantial part of your life under jim crow segregation. if you are from the deep south, you have seen up close racial oppression. >> okay. and in your book, your opening essay, there are places you say
slavery and discrimination undeniably are a tragic part of the nation's history. and in other places, you say that. do you think that that part of the story, that part of the american chronicle, do you think that part of the story is underplayed? >> absolutely. elaborate. a. >> we need to tell the complete story of the horrors of discrimination and slavery. need to tell that story. but i believe conditions that exist to them are not the conditions that exist now.
an example talking about a farmer coming to a stream and they get to the stream and it's 3 feet high going 20 miles an hour they come to the same place a year later and it is 6 inches the mule refuses to go in because it has good memory before judgment. many of us have good memory and the conditions haven't improved since the 60s. so, we engage in strategies where it hasn't improved. i could imagine someone saying listen, don't we need to distinguish between what one thinks wouldon be useful, prude,
productive policy today, raised policy in general? i could imagine somebody saying that's one conversation. theco conversation about history the more they overlap it's still an independent issue and i could imagine someone saying with respect to american history, it is still the case that too many americans particularly white americans are not sufficiently educated about some of the aspects you just talked about. again we don't need to go back to slavery. we don't need to go back that far. we can go back to subjects that are in your lifetime. what would you say to the person that says listen, our belief is that too many people do not know
that in 1941 black people didn't even have the right to fight for democracy. and what we want is for our educational system to more fully educate everybody about the fullness of american history. it's a good side and its ugly side,, tomac. >> we need to say to ourselves we are not defined by external barriers. it's dangerous and i think lethal to say if you are dropping out of school, it's not your fault. if you are carrying guns and destroying, it's not your fault. if you're having children out of wedlock. there's nothing more lethalet tn telling a person that they are exempt from any personal responsibilities. and many of the people that are supposed to be social justice advocates and progressives
continue this drumbeat of saying they are not responsible until white people change so you can expect your life to improve. and that's the onerous on white people to determinele the agenc. that is a dangerous self-defeating message for people to say that somehow my destiny is determined by what others have done. let me give you an example. people are motivated. when you give them victories that are possible, not constantly reminding them -- >> go ahead. for instance we talk about the education gap. in 1920 in the south, the education gap was three years. what washe the response?
he put up half the money, 4 million and they participated. in the consequence in 1940 the education gap closed within six months. if we were able to close when our classrooms were crowded we would have textbooks. if h we were able to accomplish this closing of the education gap in the midst of the racism when racism was enshrined in law the question iso why can't we do it today in institutions run by our own people with a per capita expenditure as high as it is on education. don't we deserve the right to
have these discussed? on the one hand you are very muchf in the school of history n which i associated with people like wilson and people who focused on what we've done and what we've been able to overcome. i think that there is a lot of good to that. here's the questionn i have th. isn't it true that in the past
half-century there's also been a lot of firsts wasn't there a lot of achievement in every phase of the civil rights movement? those that were critical of and black people it seems to me have been coming on and making it advances including in the last several decades ideas that you criticize. wouldn't you agree to that? >> it's important to recognize that the biggest issue that i have is when you generalize in
the gesture responding to the institutional racism what is the remedy that coca-cola and others making certain that a third of all of the attorneys who served the company are black. twitter, m tell me how that hels some woman who lived in public housing, how does it do that? the same with women. the me to movement was animated by a black woman seeking to help other black women in new york come together in a mutual support so wealthy middle-class white women came in and a woman
getting abused on the couch in hollywood. women who will be in corporate positions tell me now how that helps thousands ofla black and hispanic women in the prisons or in our communities but we have an agenda to help women so as long as we focus on groups, we will not help the people that i care about most and that is the least of god's children. the other problem with focusing on race is that when the evil wears a black face it doesn't get challenged. ii will give you an example.
several years ago there was a two hour documentary on the sexual abuse of women in prison. every one of the victims were black. itla doesn't even promote a sine day of discussion. not a single day because before it attacks any attention it's only going to be detrimental so that's why we ought to be exercising upward mobility of low income people will because it means people like you and me will benefit in because we could walk around our towns and look at what we have accomplished but
it's coming at the expense of others and that community. so one of the things that's interesting about what you just said and you accentuate very much at the end of the introduction to the book you quoted adolph reed and he says identity is very much of the ideology of the professional management class. they prefer to talk about identity over capitalism and the inequities of capitalism. we have an atrocious wealth gapv in this country. it's not a black-and-white wealth gap. then he says more. what i find interesting is a lot of people would call you a
conservative meaning many of the people, sort of entrepreneurial there's so much about your profile that i think many people would type as conservatives yet you quoted adolph reed. he calls himself a socialist. and in this dimension he would very much agree and say part of his criticism in the civil rights movement would be it opened doors for people like you and people like me but it didn't do as much as he would have liked for the trulyy
disadvantaged. on the one hand you are viewed as a conservative and on the other hand you are embracing the truly disadvantaged and criticizing people for not helping out enough. what's your reaction to that? >> i don't define myself as a conservative. my political philosophy is medical malpractice. i am a cardiac christian who was a radical pragmatist. low income people that i sent all of my life, 80% have letters in front of their names and for
the past few years we have people like this from all over the country and not once, they are black and white and red, not once did the issue of racial antagonism, because most of the people in need in these communities are more concerned about their brokenness and strategies towards redemption than they are politically. i will support anybody that puts in place policies and practices that elevates and that will never be done as long as we try to do this by looking at people through racial categories.
clarence page would be considered conservative or bernard anderson. if you go to any state in the union and go into a low income community, you cannot tell which political parties are in power. they see the conservatives so the issue is and i'm a radical pragmatist. all i want to know is whether or not the policies and practices have the consequence of improving. don't tell me that a woman in prison is on par with a woman with a phd going to work for a
company and we are promoting remedies that helps one at the expense of another but as long as we look through it through the prism of race we will have the and equity. the goal of the woodson center is to d racialized because as long as we are compelled to look atre each other through the prim of race, the deeper more troublesome problems we are facing. >> there are a lot of folks who actually would agree with what you say but also would agree in large part with the people that you criticize pretty harshly.
i have a question for you. why do you for instance use this term in your title race hustler where we talk about the purveyorshe of racial grievance. the black community has people who fake different things. youom disagree and agree with se of them. the slot in the community what would you say to someone who said in reaction to your book i agree with a lot of what mr. woodson says but i think that he does himself a disservice by putting down in quite a personal way people with whom he disagrees. how would you respond to that? >> i try to approach people in a
is my enemy i will say the greater enemy is people you trust who violate that trust that opens people then so be it. >> be example used is a person who committed crimes and was deceptive and was corrupt. that isn't the sort of thing i was thinking about. so i will go autobiographical. my father was a man from louisiana board 1917 and saw the horrors of racial oppression in the deep south
and believed very much in personal responsibility and the responsibility of people to make it regardless. he did. he mother on —- married my mother part off the great migration and came north and raised three children. all three children college graduates, gainfully employed. my folks were churchgoing folk. i think they are both people of blessed memory. so my father never forgave the united states of america for what he viewed as a betrayal
of black people and for him he was a soldier during world war ii and he saw the united states of america betray black people in uniform and never got over that. i'm not saying he was right or wrong i'm simply saying that there are elements of which you say that you would be high-fiving and there are elements in which he believes he is very much in sync to be very pluralistic. >> so let's spend the rest of this time and as the
confrontationaln' instrument. did you see of it and triggers. >> but maybe where were one —- looking at the wrong place so she went back to look at geometry so maybe we need to go back to look at what we do successfully under the worst conditions how we got those a new reality. and that moratorium on white folks of how we were able to build hotels with 100
universities and schools back then. and then to purchase them plantation which he was a slave to take in the family of the slave master of radical grace and your dad lived by the principles that despite his feelings that's what were talking about and then to inspire people to use it as a foundation to rebuild our community not to engage in a debate men coming together how we can rebuild the leading cause of death with the kids of inner-city is homicide. nap alicia it is prescription drugs. in silicon valley, teenage
suicide rate is six times the national w average we have 2500 voices of black mothers who lost her children to urban violence and supportive of the police they comee together for mutual aid in support we will bring them together and also those firms silicon valley so that we can discuss strategies to fill the whole to the point to take someone else's so these are the more critical problems butac we can't do that if we are constantly divided by race so that is why the wilson center wants to d racialized race to use our energies and resources how we
moral and spiritual freefall that consumes us. >> i was happy to hear you mentioned robert smalls i was born in south carolina you were talking to a south carolinians. [laughter] so in your discussion thus far, you mention certain figures. and to really stand out and one is frederick douglas. you quote douglas a number of times. and talk from slavery but the other person of course with tremendous respect is booker
t. washington that wrote up slavery. you are others? so as somebody came up to you and said listen i hear what you say, it is resonating with me. who are peopleti that can be journal and sore historians or political scientist, who are the people you word urge people to read and pay attention to? >> some of our contemporaries certainly would be one frank reed from baltimore i have a whole list and most of the
leaders are not national figures they are local there is one woman who is deceased and profiled on "60 minutes" she went into a public housing development and turned it around to the point where the drug dealers were driven out jimmy gray in washington dc another deceased local leader. there are hundreds of inspiring grassroots leaders and pastors who are doing phenomenal work rebuilding corey brooks in chicago. thousands of indigenous leaders who are the antibodies joseph was important because
even though he was treated unjustly like your father he never succumbed to bitterness and he ended up not only facing his brothers that betrayed him but the injections who enslaved him there is an example of radical grace so it is important to people not top get caught up in resentment because of hatred and animosity consumes you is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. so what we try to emphasize in this book is to inspire people to come together to look beyond race and focus on upward mobility and use our talent instead of always fighting each other not to be engaged in the a tribal warfare butt that they are the race
hustlers the people who legitimately know better but don't act better but this kind of discussion to accomplish something. >> one of the things that is interesting with one issue lurking is the whole question what do we consider leadership? because i ask you the question and you went to local people. frankly i bet most of the people you mentioned, many people in the audience would not have heard of unless they are from that locale. >> right. >> you use the term indigenous in a locale that are local.
i think there is a disconnect because often times people are thinking about national leaders people who are at universitiesiv like mine and people who are in the big newspapers and the big-time columnists. so itut seems one of the things you are getting at is you actually want to nurture and lift up and shine more light on a different type of leader you're not against these people but it is a type of leader that it seems that you say doesn't get enough play or support react to that.
>> you are absolutely right. that's what i want to do. if the market economy only 3 percent sent of the market economy are entrepreneurs but they generate 70 percent of all the jobs so innovation comess from within and then smart students come back because smart people have to have all the answers and then to have the opportunity so i look at that same paradigm and say for instance if we went into an area where there is 53 gain members i chased five entrepreneurs the defenders to have the trust and confidence of the community and a 12
-year-old boy was killed and say god's chosen they brought in 16 young men to my office downtown and we worked on a truce and it took the same young men who were terrorizing the community to turn them into ambassadors of peace and as a consequence we didn't have a single gang murder over 12 years. we harvested these principles we learned and have now applied to other cities so leadership is local and occurs for instance like steve jobs created an instrument that now 60 percent of apples income but it didn't exist eight years ago because that is how local innovation can occur. i'm hoping if local grassroots
leaders can stop 53 murders, it will provide a testbed model for what could happen throughout the nation. >> how do you scale up like that? the united states of america is so huge with 300 million people over this gigantic landmass. all of the cities we also have rural areas and problems everywhere how do we mobilize the social and financial resources that would be needed to effectively address the sourcero of problems that are most on your mind? >> that is the best question. that is where we are at this
point to seek that kind of help from corporate america we are the groupld in washington dc the alliance of concerned men over three informants going into one of the most violent areas of washington dc and for three or four months not a single violent incident because of their intervention we should have been racing through there with resources and technical assistance to answer that question to say let's find out what you did and how you did it to provide you all the resources that you need and the technical skills that it takes for the people to market to a larger audience we went to partner with them so the public relations aspect to the mobilize around what occurs in the local community.
that is one of the challenges we are facing and we're at the point now we are reaching out to peopleso with resources not just money but the wherewithal to partner with us because we are social entrepreneurs to join together with business entrepreneurs so we can answer that question. >> yous mentioned business and companies. what about government? >> as far as i'm concerned government god us in this mess. [laughter] it has a role but not leading role. in order for entrepreneurs to function you need the maximum amount of flexibility so you can address that. in fact if your listeners were to go on to youtube in milwaukee you would see an
example of how one is able lessons from the least of these is a book that i published with ten principles to answer the question you just raised how to identify legitimate grassroots and provide assistance to them and how can we rebuild our culture from the bottom up and inside out? >> we only have time for one last question so is there anything you would have liked me to ask you are is there anything in your mind about this subject you would like to convey to our audience before we have to wrap it up and go? >> yes.
i want to say there is a real urgency for us to end the racial strife and tribalism because if blacks can claim race so can white people and i think most were able to push back against these limits of racial then it won't be long before whites respond in kind. i think we could face violence at a level we've never seen before so there is a certain urgency we have to move beyond race and i think there is an urgency. of course many people would jump in to say what do you mean? whites might start using race? they have been and they are. >> this is where we are not
truthful. whenever i hear about an asian being racially assaulted in california or somewhere and they don't mention the race of the perpetrator i know it's a black person between 80 and 90 percent of the attacks on asians are being done by blacks but the press will not report that because that does not fit the racial narrative. it is a shame that we are being misled because there is the incentive not to be truthful what is happening in this country that whites are not attacking blacks we are killing our children they are not coming into our community shooting our children 94 percent of the murders are black on black. >> on that note and of course