Partnerships in Belonging, with Alexis McGill Johnson, Jeff Raikes, and Phil Thompson | #OBConf2019

I’m going to introduce all three panelists. This is for the Partnerships in Belonging
and we’ll begin with Alexis McGill Johnson. Alexis is the CO founder and executive director
of the Perception Institute, a consortium of social science researchers, law professors
and culture makers focused on the role of the mind sciences in developing interventions
to address issues of bias and discrimination and work places and other key domains. She has designed and authored original research
and reports in the mind sciences and regularly delivers presentations and facilitates workshops
in the private and public sector on the role of implicit bias, racial anxiety and stereotype
threat. Alexis has led in the design of diversity
inclusion strategies for national organizations and developed empirical metrics to determine
efficacy. Currently Alexis has a board member and former
chair of the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. We can clap for that. Previously she served on the boards of New
York Civil Liberties Union, Center for Social Inclusion, and Citizen Engagement Lab. She’s a founder of the Culture Group as well
as a frequent commentator on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and in the press. During the 2004 election cycle, she served
as an Executive Director of Citizen Change. She holds degrees from Princeton and Yale
University’s and has taught political science at both Yale and Wesleyan. Alexis McGill Johnson will bring her to the
stage very shortly. We can clap it up for her right now though. Joining Alexis will be Jeff Raikes. Jeff is the co-founder with his wife, Tricia,
of the Raikes Foundation, which works towards a just an inclusive society where all young
people have the support they need to reach their full potential. The foundation focuses on youth serving systems,
seeking to make them work better on behalf of the most marginalized young people in our
society. Based in Seattle, the Raikes foundation focuses
on using the science of learning and development to advance more equitable learning environments
and preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. The foundation recently launched an initiative
aimed at increasing the effectiveness of philanthropic giving. Jeff is the former CEO of the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation where he led the foundation’s efforts to promote equity for all people around
the world. Before joining the foundation, he was president
of Microsoft’s Business Division and served as a member of the company senior leadership
team that said overall strategy and direction for the firm. He began his career with Microsoft in 1981
and was instrumental in creating the Microsoft office suite of productivity applications. We can clap it up for that. I’m a writer. I use it every day. So to you, Jeff is the chair of the Stanford
University Board of trustees. He is part of the ownership group of the Seattle
Mariners, go A’s and serves on its board. He also serves on the board of a Costco Wholesale
Corp and the Advisory Board of the Raikes School at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Ma’am stop laughing in the front row, please. Good. Next up to the stage will be J. Phillip Thompson. He’s appointed deputy mayor of first strategic
policy initiatives in February, 2018. Phil Thompson is responsible for spearheading
a diverse collection of priority initiatives. He oversees New York City’s signature Pre-K
for All program for all program, which provides free high quality pre-kindergarten to over
70,004 year olds each year. Yes. And he continued expansion of the nation’s
first ever 3-K for All. He will also ensure the continued success
of the Community Schools and Young Men’s Initiatives and ThriveNYC, the nation’s most comprehensive
approach to mental health. Thompson’s agency portfolio includes the Department
of Youth and Community Development, Department of Small Business Services, the commission
on Human Rights, the Department of Veterans Services, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant
Affairs, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Then New York City Public Engagement Unit
and the Mayor’s Office for Workforce Development, brother’s working hard. He has been charged with expanding the city’s
investment in minority and women owned businesses and leading the mayor’s comprehensive strategy
to encourage great voter participation and improve the way the city carries out elections,
democracy, NYC. Prior to joining the de Blasio administration
Thompson was an AP of Urban Planning at MIT. His courses, which married real world experience
and cutting edge research covered a wide range of subject matter including housing and economic
development, urban politics, post disaster planning, social movements, race and ethnicity
and American politics among many other areas. Thompson is the author of Double Trouble:
Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy published in 2006 by Oxford
press. He received a BA in Soc from Harvard University
in 1977 a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College in 86′ and a PhD from the City
University of New York Graduate Center in 1990 please welcome to the stage J. Philip
Thompson, Jeff Raikes and the unstoppable Alexis McGill Johnson. Oh right. Can I have it one more time? Good afternoon. All right. I said let’s get some energy in here. I know it’s four o’clock. I thought I would start off by doing a quick
exercise to see how our brains are doing at this time of day. I’m sorry. I’m going to stand. I’m standing a little bit because the lights
are a little bright. Who can tell me, who rides a bicycle. Okay, lots of you ride a bicycle. Okay. So when you have a wheel of a bicycle and
then the radius of that wheel, what’s that called? Okay. Say it loud. Okay. All right. Now I want you to clap. Ready? Go. The radius of a wheel is called a … If I
tell you something funny its a … I don’t drink Pepsi I like … The white part of an
egg is called a … The white part of an egg is called a … I can see how we’re doing
now. So what did I just do? I was checking on your conditioning because
that’s what we do at Perception Institute. We’re constantly trying to figure out how
our brains are automatically processing lots of information rather, very quickly and very
efficiently. And sometimes what that does, how that gets
in the way of our experiences of belonging, why we otherize, how we embed those negative
stereotypes in our brains around implicit bias. We started perception institute 10 years ago
when we were worried, actually if you can believe it, 11 years ago when we were worried
about the experience of race under then candidate Obama, the conversations that we were going
to have, whether or not we’d be even able to have these conversations around race. And yet we knew that there was something really
important about the science that was still largely living in the academy, working with
social psychologists who are really had these wonderful ideas of how to disrupt bias, but
they weren’t necessarily translating into the public sector. And so we worked with that information. We started working with police departments
and judges and school districts over the last 10 years, we started working with corporations
and hospital and health centers and public advocates around these conversations. And largely what we’ve been trying to do is
connect the dots between how our brains oftentimes can betray the values that we hold dearly,
the values that we have around the fairness, the values that we have around belonging. And the conversation that we want to have
today is to really explore how those insights both around the research also play into the
partnerships and the practices of engaging along the sector, along the lines of foundation
work around corporate work, around political work, around advocacy work to figure out how
we can build better partnerships to hold each other accountable and build more transparency
in these constructs. So I’m going to turn to Jeff to give us your
perspective. Talk about some of the work that you’re doing
institutionally at the Raikes Foundation, but also your personal experiences as you
think about kind of institution belonging. Yeah. Well maybe I’ll start with the latter part
first because sort of my own journey I think shapes a lot of what we try and do at the
Raikes Foundation. I grew up on a farm near a very small town
in rural Nebraska. And it was in many ways a great way to grow
up. But I will say a small town like that, 2000
people, the only minorities in my town where Catholics. And I was very fortunate. I went from A farm to B farm. I think I heard backstage, maybe a little
reaction to Stanford. I went from the farm in Nebraska to Stanford. Now I do want to make it clear that my parents
didn’t Photoshop my picture on the water polo player and or bribe the university, there
was no Photoshop when I applied. There was no water polo and there still is
no water polo in Nebraska. So I was very lucky to get to Stanford, but
I have to admit when I got there, I didn’t necessarily feel like I belonged, I didn’t
necessarily feel like I was Stanford material. The other kids have greater means, greater
educational background. I felt a little out of place. But I had some great professors. I also had an incredible roommate, ironically,
a roommate from Nebraska, and only about five kids from Nebraska that go to Stanford. But the thing about Kenneth, my roommate is
we grew up 35 minutes apart in two completely different worlds. Kenneth is African American and he was from
the urban part of Omaha. Here I am from a farm. And that was the beginning of me learning
some of the most important lessons of my life, things that I learned outside the classroom
at Stanford. Kenneth and I became good friends. We moved into Ujamaa, which is the black cultural
theme center at Stanford. And that was part of a journey where today
I feel like I have more language to put around what I learned. And probably one of the most important lessons
I learned is that privileges is invisible to those who possess it. And so that shaped a lot of my thinking from
college on. If I fast forward on the journey to the Raikes
Foundation in what we’re doing today, I might start with education and how some of that
early experience for me and my wife Tricia, who’s here, how some of her early experience
has shaped how we think about education. Our basic view is that the US education system
was designed in the 19th century and it was designed to direct a few students, primarily
white male upper class may be middle class to rigorous learning experiences. And unfortunately, when we look at the system
today, 150 years later, that legacy persist, race and class are still the most reliable
predictors of academic achievement in our country. And that’s true even as our nation and schools
become more diverse. Now, let me flip over to our role in philanthropy. Philanthropy is largely dominated by white
leaders. And many of those leaders want change, they
feel like they see some of the issues that we all care about. But I think it’s very important to recognize
that our perceptions, our ideas are shaped by the experiences that we had. And that’s a problem because the education
system works for someone like me, it was designed for me, but the result is and other philanthropists
they tend to be focused on what they know, their experiences and they try and make the
students, the teachers fit into the existing system rather than really examine the system
for what it is and then ask why is it not producing the outcomes and you really step
back and understand the system. And so there’s really that blind spot that
we tend to have because the system worked for us. And I particularly resist this idea that we
should just tell young people who are furthest from opportunity, that they should just pull
up their bootstraps and work hard and they too will be successful. I think it’s extremely important that we understand
where people are situated relative to opportunity. And this is one of the things that we work
with John Powell on because you have to really understand where somebody is relative to opportunity
and what are the structures that get in the way before we can really have a meaningful
impact on their opportunity. So in the case of the Raikes Foundation, we
have embraced the ideas that John Powell put forward a under targeted universalism. We think that yes, it’s great to have a universal
goal, but you have to understand where people are, especially with their identities, where
they are relative to opportunity and then have strategies that are specific to what
they are they’re going to need. And so if you think about these narratives
that we have in society, they can be so both pervasive and damaging in terms of how it
shapes people’s perception of opportunity. And what this did from a philanthropic standpoint
is it led Tricia, my wife, my co-founder, and I had to really speak out more forcefully
and more openly on the need to focus on equity in philanthropy. So we focused a good deal of our energy on
trying to persuade other white philanthropists to do the work that will help them understand
the inequitable systems that we have in place. So I’ll just say a little bit more about our
education work because I feel like that’s providing us some of the tools that allow
us to have this dialogue. What I hope is a bridging dialogue with other
people in philanthropy. And I’m going to start out with school finance. Our country has a shameful history of red
lining and the denying black people opportunity relative to housing, to build wealth. And then you layer on top of that and inequitable
school finance system that’s based on property tax and that’s the system that we have today. So I’m spending a lot of time with the help
of the Raikes Foundation team to really dig in and understand this and because we need
change. So I’m working with Linda Darling Hammond. I’m working with the Learning Policy Institute
to try and use that as a way to draw other philanthropists in on the issues of inequity
in our education system. Another example would be the science of learning
and development. We try and leverage the science. Now, to be quite honest, the science kind
of tells us what we already know. If you create an environment where students,
where young people feel like they belong, where they feel like they have the opportunity
to succeed, we know that they’re going to be more successful. The science tells us that. So we use the science to state what is the
obvious. And that actually helps break down some of
this narrative that gets in the way. Schools have to be designed so that the student
feels like they belong, that they can be successful. And you can’t do that with a race blind approach. Identity and belonging are deeply intertwined. So the biases of the adults, whether they’re
explicit or implicit, they send signals. And so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying
to understand how can we shape schools and school systems to really under understand
this so that we create systems where these young people feel like they belong and can
be successful based on their identity. That is a great example where this concept
that oftentimes purse pervade society, white society, that colorblindness is what we should
aspire to. When you look at those kinds of examples,
colorblindness tends to fall apart. We aren’t color or identity blind. It’s better to know and deal with the biases
versus a race blind universal solution. And so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying
to build new structures, policies that acknowledge these identities and move us forward. We are quick to recognize, we have a lot to
learn. But John Powell is a great mentor to us and
one of the things he said is, even if you don’t know everything, you it’s important
that people who look like us wait in and build the trust, the dialogue so that we can take
the benefit of our experiences and try to bring people in. So that kind of gives you both a little bit
of our journey and then how we’re trying to use that in what we do in education and we
also use some of those concepts in youth homelessness and others. So we have a long way to go, but we feel like
we’re learning and we want to move forward. Yeah. You’re off to a really important start with
some really core aspirations, I think. Phil, I’d love to hear, you’ve span academia,
currently government work, labor work, building partnerships. Obviously in all of that, thinking about partnerships
with big business as it were. How do you kind of connect the dots and think
about belonging and bridging those conversations? One thing I’m working on now, and there are
a lot of things we’re trying to do as a city but one of the things is to try and develop
a concept of government that goes beyond taxing citizens and then spending through government
programs and thinking about how to use government to change the way the private, so-called private
market works. This stand point or the starting point being,
we are one country. We are one people. We are one nation. So how do we make the economy including the
private market work for everybody? And as simple as that notion sounds, it’s
always been a fight in this country, not just about what should government do, but even
the notion that we are one people has been historically contested first by slavery and
slave owners. The notion that black Americans with three
fifths is an example of that. But even on things like everyone’s trash should
be collected in a city until the Civil War in Chicago or other major cities, trash was,
if you could afford to have somebody come pick up your trash, your trash got picked
up. If you weren’t wealthy enough or that you
trashed didn’t get picked up. And it wasn’t until Chicago after the Civil
War, when a bunch of Civil War veterans fought to say no, everyone’s trash should get picked
up because we are one people. Because until the Civil War, that really wasn’t
a concept. We are one people in one city. Then we started having municipal trash collection. So what we’re trying to work on in New York
right now is how do we actually think of the economy that way from the standpoint of how
does it benefit everybody? Now for me that starts with challenging the
notion that the economy is something that is exists separate and apart from our social
arrangements and our public policies. Capitalism was founded on the assumption that
human activities that are not profit making, like taking care of children, taking care
of elderly and disabled people would be done by women or done by slaves for free. And these were obviously social arrangements
that women would take care of kids for free. And slavery obviously was a social and political
arrangement, but the private economy depended on that to function or that notion of the
economy, private economy dependent on that to function. But we usually don’t think of that as part
of the economy. But it always was. And if you look at the last 100 years, basically
women said, “We want to be full citizens.” Black people, other people said, “We want
to be full citizens and treated like everybody else in the economy.” But that creates a big problem for us as a
nation because we’ve never actually thought about how do we think about social policy
and the economy as a whole to ensure that every woman, every person really has an equal
opportunity, an equal shot to participate, to succeed in our economy? So that’s one of the things we’re working
at and government is the institution that works in the intersection of all of this. And for us, we’re trying to reconceptualize
our local government to promote the notion, promote initiatives that change the way people
think about how the economy works. And I just want to give two examples. So one is youth employment, particularly for
at risk young people connected to old people and the silver tsunami. So in the next 10 years, about a fifth of
New Yorkers will be elderly. The biggest job category for at risk young
people in the city right now and in the future will be home care but taking care of elderly
people. But home care is a terrible job right now,
pays minimum wage, there’s very little training, hours are uneven. It’s a poverty job and it’s a dead end job. And this hurts elderly people too because
they don’t get good care. And of course governed in a lot of money because,
because they don’t get good care, elderly people are running in and out of hospitals
and emergency rooms and that’s really expensive. So how do we actually reenvision a new kind
of system for delivering care to the elderly that’s better for workers who are young people
now. And also better for elderly people and also
saves government money? And I think here there’s a lot of room for
innovation. We’re looking at cluster care like a worker
in a neighborhood serving a number of clients in a neighborhood, but also telemedicine which
is something that businesses interested in, particularly in the tech community. So how do we work together to create a system
that actually works better for everybody? How do we do that? That’s one initiative. And another initiative is around consumer
organizing, which was really pioneered by Jewish housewives in the lower east side in
New York a hundred years ago, organizing for better meat prices from kosher butchers. But then it was kind of written out of the
American narrative by law actually to shut it down. But low income communities are seldom trained
to organize, to exercise their collective strength in the marketplace. And we’re promoting, I’m promoting something
called Civic Enterprises. And basically one way to do that is, for example,
organizing people in the community to buy cell phone services together. If you organized 5,000 people to buy cell
phones together, you will get over a half million dollars from a cell phone company. And I tell young people in New York, you can
make more money by organizing people your age in the neighborhood to buy their phones
together than you can buy dealing drugs and you don’t have to shoot somebody to control
a corner. And in fact, the more you work with people
around you to more bargaining power you have. So why are you dealing drugs? Right? Why don’t you organize people to buy cell
phones together and buy cable service together, buy diapers together. But that kind of training of how poor people,
low income people should work together to impact the economy, to change the economy,
it’s usually not taught at all. So one of the ways we want to jumpstart that
is by putting a chip on the NYC ID card. We have ID cards, the city issues initially
for immigrants mainly. And 1.2 million people have an NYC ID card,
low income black and Latino communities on average pay about 10% of their income on finance
charges. Because they are victimized by predatory finance,
payday loan places, check cashing places on and on 10% of their annual income on finance
charges. So we want to create a low cost financing
option by putting a chip on the card and offering on that card low costs, banking services,
other financial services. But one of the things you get when people
buy things with a card is data. So you can see in a given neighborhood, in
a given block who’s buying phone service from this company, that company, cable service
from here or there, where people buy their pizza, where they buy their diapers. And with that data you can organize people. And our view is if we could organize communities
to save $100 on their cable bill, their phone bill, we think we can convince them to take
five of those dollars or 10 of those dollars and put it aside for community organizing
to continue this movement building. We think this is a way to finance community
organizing that goes way beyond what foundations can do. And actually we can use those resources to
build civic infrastructure in communities and independent political power in these communities. So that’s a couple of the things we’re trying
to do to use government differently. It’s really incredibly powerful. I think that it’s interesting the work that
you both have touched upon still revolves around I think a notion of fairness, right? Like a belief that that people actually should
have equal access to good education, not targeted universal way, appropriately targeted universal
way. But yes. But fairness in some way kind of understanding
the meritocracy doesn’t exist, that colorblindness doesn’t exist. And then also the fact that there’s a value
aspiration in bridging and building community in a way. And I feel like the values part of the conversation,
the aspiration rather, I would say the aspirational part of the conversation is something that
we oftentimes miss in how we do it. I think that for us at Perception, the fairness
paradox the way that we’ve been perhaps taught to practice fairness over the years is something
that is very, I think has limited us. And when we find, when we were in conversations
with big corporations who believed that they’d been practicing fairness, they believe that
they’ve been doing the work to kind of invest in young people, build pipelines, those sorts
of things. They still don’t understand what’s getting
in the way of that work as well. And so I’m wondering if you could talk about
some of the challenges, right? Like the aspirations are critically important,
but what do you think is actually getting in the way if people do believe in that word? Well I’ll throw in a perspective from philanthropy. Right now we’re seeing some shifts in philanthropy,
which I consider to be positive. We’re seeing many more philanthropists or
than the people in the nonprofit community be interested in equity. I think one of the challenges is equity still
for many is a buzzword. It doesn’t have the power, the force of definition,
of plant planning, accountability. So we’re trying to figure out, okay, how can
we dimensionalize it? How can we make it more tangible? So one of the things that we did led by a
leader in our foundation, Lindsay Hill was work with a group Promise54 to have an assessment
tool for the education sector. And basically it’s a tool where a school and
the school system can see where they are on an equity journey. So making it much more tangible in terms of
where the entity is, where the organization and frankly it confirms what you would expect
that we aren’t really living up to the promise or potential. We at the Raikes Foundation have taken the
survey, we think we have to really explore where we’re at in our journey. So I offer that as an example of where we’re
trying to do things that will help the field navigate the journey and make the goal of
equity more clear, more tangible, to have that force of definition of planning and accountability. Is it just investing in outside groups? Or what are the ways in which you actually
are creating equity throughout your operations as a foundation? Yeah, so for example, when we use the survey
to get a sense of all the way from how people were thinking about their transportation to
and from work, their health benefits, the diversity of our staff, not just the diversity
of the staff, how they feel included as a part of the decision making, the sharing of
power, how that works with our grantees, the nonprofit community, our partners, what they
look like, how they’re thinking about equity. Lindsay led the creation of what’s called
BELE, the building equitable learning environment network. And what we’re doing there is we’re working
with school support organizations you can almost think of is management consulting groups
for schools. And the fundamental part of working with us
on BELE was for them to share with us in each, in the schools where they work, who are the
students who are least well served? We made that a part of the consideration process
for making the grants and that’s been a great learning journey for, I think it’s roughly
eight or nine of those school support organizations that were working for. And we created a network so that they can
each share their experience. So we’re both trying to use these kinds of
tools internally as well as externally. Then what we can do is we can build on that
experience to try and bring others in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector and civil
society and ultimately what we hope. We’re big believers in catalytic philanthropy. We hope that what we are doing through our
philanthropic work is identifying the kind of innovative interventions that are co-created
with the communities that we hope to have positive impact or positive change and then
use that, show the evidence of the efficacy and then use that to try and encourage the
scaling up and sustaining by the public sector and, or the private sector. So we view ourselves as partners with say,
Phil or the public sector or education because what we’re ultimately, we’re going to have
our greatest impact if we can figure out how to move the public sector and private sector
resources in a positive direction relative to equity. So I would just add that we’re in New York,
we’re trying to figure out how to leverage our 20 billion plus in annual procurement
dollars to support and build what I call economic democracy companies that actually enable their
employees to have voice on the job. But also that are responsible partners with
the communities and the people in the city where they are. And to tilt our preferences when we’re picking
contractors and handing out contracts to those kinds of businesses. Right now if a business hires folks from one
of our workforce centers that takes folks from public housing or a low income communities
and does job training, they don’t get any credit for that. And another company that does none of that
might be a little cheaper and not work as hard, but it doesn’t matter. And so we want to actually leverage our dollars
towards those kinds of companies. And the other thing is Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison believed that if that Americans to be citizens had to actually own something
in the economy so that every day when they work, they would learn how to make good decisions
and take responsibility for their decisions. So they said either you should own property,
land, or if they worked in a business, the workers should own part of that business. So they learned democracy every day. And I would say you can’t vote once a year,
an hour or two a year, and then think you’re building a democratic culture. We actually have to build different kinds
of companies, different kinds of enterprises. And we are 400,000 employees in New York City. Our city, we have to build different kinds
of government where it’s just not a bureaucracy, which looks like a dictatorship. You can’t have people working in dictatorships
every day and then think you’re building a democratic culture. So how do we actually inculcate as a city
a different notion of how a company works? So a company is something where workers are
learning democracy on the job and practicing democracy on the job. So that’s another thing. Yeah, the question I have around that though
is how do you bridge the identities? How do you bridge the stakeholders? Right. Because when we were doing work, just like
in police departments, we were having great success, not great, but we were having limited
moderate success in police departments, getting them on the same page and getting them on
the same page that there is a challenge. When we then brought in judges and prosecutors
to have a conversation with police departments, it actually created a different dynamic where
everybody had to hold each other accountable. That kind of multi stakeholder work I think
is really critical for bridging. So I’m curious how it happens on between business
and then I’d love to hear it from the foundation side too. Well, we have actually reduced, we ended stop
and Frisk that’s 98% down under the de Blasio administration. And we’ve really promoted neighborhood policing
and crime has gone down to the lowest level since 1942. So we actually crush this myth that the way
to improve safety is just rounding people up and harassing people and so forth. The biggest advocates for this new policy
are most effective ones I’ve seen are actually the police captains. In high crime districts who’ve said, we’ve
changed our whole way. We approach policing, we do more community
work then what’s called ‘policing’. And guess what? It’s working. People call us and let us know before a problem
erupts. It’s actually not super complicated. Communities cooperation is what creates safe
neighborhoods, bottom line. Jeff. Yeah, from a philanthropic standpoint or what
role do we think we can play? I think part of what we learned from John
is that it’s not that identity or identity politics are a new thing. It’s just for a very long time it was really
focused on one identity the white male identity. And I think part of what you’re seeing now
is that as we become much more vocal or more in conversation about the various identities
of our society, I think what you see is that kind of pushback. And so I’ll draw upon a conversation with
one of my friends, because we do talk about how this is really the hardest part is how
do you take the role of identity and make it a bridging conversation as opposed to a
breaking conversation today. Too often, in fact we have a president who
excels at turning it into a breaking conversation. So Darren Walker, who’s the president of the
Ford Foundation, like me, he’s a philanthropic leader, but unlike me, he’s black and gay. And what Darren emphasizes to me is that he
thinks it’s really important that people like Tricia and I are in the conversation. We’ve always had this identity based society. But as I said, it’s been white and male and
that’s released what shaped and the norms and the systems. In fact, Darren and I did a session at the
Aspen Ideas Festival with Michelle Norris and it was entitled, the myth of colorblindness. And one of the things that Darren said is
that, “When I see a bunch of guys who look like Jeff riding around in a golf cart in
Dallas, having the conversation we’re having right now, I’ll know we are winning.” Well, I think we’re a long way from that. No, but seriously, I think, I, people like
me, we need feedback. We need to know how to build the trust, how
to have the dialogue. And I think my role is to share what I’ve
learned, how I’ve evolved, what changed me to be vulnerable in sharing that about my
experiences and also be vulnerable about where I’ve fallen short. And what I hope that does is that it creates
spaces for others, in particular others in the Philanthropic and nonprofit sector where
we’re trying to get some leverage from our work to open their minds and think about how
they can change. And so that I think represents the essence
of what John Powell talks about with bridging. And that’s what we aspire too. Thank you. I kind of feel like I’m a professional bridger
like by nature. I grew up in a predominantly a white suburb
to a black family and went to universities where I was constantly being a bridge, explaining,
finding retreat, came into new areas where I’m still kind of constantly trying to explain
one to the other. And then I spent like almost six or seven
years on Fox News trying to explain. I think that’s a big bridging challenge. Yeah, exactly. I know. I’ll just say. I was going to say, I feel dirty, but the
idea of it being, staying curious. Right? I think like there’s a skill set involved
in bridging that really requires us to stay curious, but there’s also a cognitive burden
related to it too, right? There’s a level of exhaustion in bridging
and using your brain mentally both to kind of retain your own sense of identity and self
and commitment to the work, but then also to stay engaged. And I think that cognitive burden is actually
the one thing, the one hook that we’ve been able to build in the corporate sector. Right? Because we actually say, you know what, when
someone is really worried about how you perceive their hairstyle or their accent or how they’re
showing up, or if they need to leave to pray several times a day, like that’s actually
taking away from the work that staying on task. And we have studies that demonstrate the level
of cognitive burden that’s actually taking away from your productivity and your bottom
line. There’re like strategic kind of arguments,
business case arguments that you can make around it. I think we’ve been relying a lot on the politics
of morality around it. The politics of fairness. I’m wondering how do you actually also then
create a way to bridge both the morality and the bottom line in a way? And I think the community policing was one
way of making the case, right? Creating safety, but also actually building
that community value in there. I’m wondering if there are other ways in which,
I don’t know, like just from an identity perspective, just the level of burden that we particularly
those of us who have been otherized or been broken by the current climate that we’re engaged
in and have to navigate and have those systems affect you. I never a separate identity from power and
policy. So the reason why waitresses make so little
money, generally the reason why home care workers make so little money generally is
because care work was mainly done by women for thousands of years and it was supposed
to be done for free. And people still have a hard time paying a
living wage to a waitress or a home care worker to a caregiver. And that has nothing to do with skill. Why do we call elementary school teachers
and nursery school teachers unskilled Labor or home care workers, unskilled labor? Taking care of a young child, you need skill. But the building trades, the plumbers, the
electricians are called skilled labor. Why? That has nothing … That’s about power. That’s about social convention. I speak a lot to white workers, low income,
some not low income. I spoke a couple of weeks ago to the building
trades and I said to them, Frederick Douglas was a labor hero. He’s not just a black hero. Slaves understood they hadn’t gotten a paycheck
in 300 years. They understood they had a labor issue. You didn’t understand it was a labor issue. The Civil War was about work and labor. It wasn’t just about skin colored in the abstract. They understood that Harriet Tubman is your
hero, not just my hero, but the very narratives we tell about each other. When we tell about our history and where we
came from is segregated. In 1954 when the lawyers for the NAACP argued
Brown versus board of education, they said the reason segregation was instituted in the
late 1890s as federal policy was two separate poor whites and poor blacks who had come together
in the populist movement, that’s why. And so ending segregation isn’t just about
us liking each other and feeling good about each other in the abstract. It’s about building power together. When Martin Luther King went to the AFL-CIO
in 1962 Martin Luther King said, Today AFL-CIO, I will end the civil rights movement and bring
40 million black people into the labor movement. We don’t need to movements fighting for the
same thing. We just need you to desegregate so we can
join and we can be together. And when we come together, we change everything.” Only four of 72 unions agreed with Martin
Luther King. So it’s about power. Where is Trump building his base? It’s amongst those anxious white workers who
feel like everything is slipping away from them and the other are black folks, immigrants,
et cetera. The narrative has always been used to give
certain people power and deny other people power. I think poor white people are ready to hear
a message like that in America. Amen. Let the church say Amen. I think that from … No, seriously. I mean, I think with the last question really
was about commitment. It was about kind of short-term strategies
moving forward in bridging dialogues, the kinds of difficult conversations that we know
we need to have. We’ve been having, we’ve been having for centuries. But it does feel like there’s a critical time. We were just talking about this in the green
room like, that this moment, this kind of political moment that we’re in where all of
these forces have been coming together for … When we’ve all been working on these issues
for decades. Right. Watching labor issues come to a boil, watching
demographic change happen rapidly, watching immigration and our role as US in that. And so now that we’re at this moment where
bridging becomes even more important and maybe it’s a little bit easier to do because it
is so us and them. How do you think about kind of the short-term
strategies and what kind of commitment are you going to give from the foundation in order
to continue conversation [inaudible 00:47:29]. And real quickly, I just want to back up to
your previous question to say that the cognitive load that you described is quite real and
I just want to suggest to the audience a book called Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele
that actually uses science to explain exactly what Alexis described. It’s a fabulous book. And I think it really, really helps. To your question about what we’re trying to
do at the Raikes Foundation of what we think needs to be done and philanthropy, the thing
that we’ve learned from John, John Powell is that we think of the importance of bridging
and we hold that as our north star, that is a role that we can play. And if we play it well, it can be highly leveraged
because we can bring other people, other resources, other power into this in a way that can be
quite effective for achieving racial equity and social justice in society. So I think the key question is how do we use
that in a way that will shift these deeply entrenched narratives that you and Phil have
talked about? Certainly we hope that what we do at the Raikes
Foundation represents a model of what foundations or philanthropy can do. We have to avoid the invitation only process,
we have to get out of our echo chamber. We have to work with those that we hope to
benefit in ways that we are co-creating those so called innovative solutions. Tricia and I have to think about how we use
our voices, how we communicate in ways that will bring more people into the tent, but
at the same time staying true to our values, to our commitment to racial equity and social
justice. And that may sound easy, but it is really,
really hard because if we come across in a certain way, we will push them away. What we want to do is we draw them in and
that’s a big part of why we really try and learn everything we can about bridging. And we think along the way, another contribution
we’ll make is how we share our journey. Because we are very committed to share our
journey. And we hope that in the process of doing that
it, that it will bring others along. It’s funny because many Americans, 80% of
whom haven’t seen their incomes rise in 30 years. We’ve seen great inequality, but at the same
time America’s the most wealthy nation in the history of humankind. I think household wealth hit $100 trillion
last year for the first time ever. So the nation is really wealthy. We don’t the money broadly, but it’s not because
we’re poor. And actually if you look on the horizon with
digital technology and AI and all of that can do to improve productivity and it’s a
promising wonderful opportunity. The problem is we’re not approaching the green
economy or the tech economy as in a unified spirit. And we have some structural issues we have
to deal with. One of the things is we cannot afford in a
nation that will become majority of color in a couple of decades, we cannot afford to
leave women people of color out of the tech revolution or the green revolution. Women missed the industrial revolution. People of color were on a cotton plantation
or banana plantation. Never really got a foothold in the industrial
economy. We can’t afford that with the tech revolution,
with the green revolution. And we have never ever unleash the human potential
of women, of people of color, of the whole population. What that means in terms of how wonderful
this country could be and how wonderful this world could be is something we need to actually
talk about and describe to people. Because the reason Donald Trump says truth
doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter. Fight facts are false. Science is irrelevant is because if we have
a rational conversation about we can actually achieve as a society, as a community, they
loose. And that’s where we need to go. I’m going to close on the opening exercise
and see if we do any better. What’s the radius of a wheel? The radius of a wheel is called a … I tell
you something funny. It’s a … I don’t drink Pepsi, I like … The
white part of an egg is called a … That is the power of learning how to override our
automatic brain. We don’t have to be at the mercy of it and
we can be open what these learnings, these critical learnings that both Jeff and Phil
have offered us, really are about how we can open ourselves up to these long-term views
and understand how our identity is actually an asset in these conversations. Learning how to bridge and build better power
collectively. So thank you both for joining the conversation. Thank you. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *