June 9, 2020

American dreaming

American dreaming

America is battling two deadly pandemics. Is this a moment for hope or despair? Kelley asks her two co-hosts and close friends, Cindy and Tanvir—both from cultures with a history of white oppression, but on opposite sides of the planet—to weigh in on the current moment and that other virus that has infected America from the beginning: racism.

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Kelley Lynch: 0:03We're usually the people who are talking to you about life during the pandemic. And where do we go from here? But given what's going on in the world today, the marches we're seeing in countries around the world protesting the treatment of African Americans in America, we thought it was really important to talk about that other virus that has devastated this country from the beginning.

Cindy Sealls: 0:31You Mean Racism?

Kelley Lynch: 0:40the other night, it must've been about 11:30. I heard this screaming coming from somewhere down the street, there came a louder one and allowed her one , uh , turned out it was the house next door. And there was somebody just screaming, like they were being attacked. And so we were faced with kind of like, what do we do? And I said, we're going to call nine one one. You know? I mean, what else are we going to do? Then the police were coming and we kind of backed off two days ago. He happened to see the guy who's in that house. There was no way that he was attacking anybody in my mind, but I know that they had had an intruder once before. So I had to , I said to him, I was like, man, I'm so sorry. I called the police, but I, what was going on? And he said, I actually, it was my girlfriend and his girlfriend is it's African-American and he said she was responding to all the stuff that's going on. And she just, she just couldn't handle it anymore. And I mean, literally these are the sounds that you would make if someone was being murdered in front of your eyes, which I guess is exactly what has been happening. It is on TV or on your computer screen or on your phone. But I wanted to ask you Cindy, in particular, how this is impacting you personally,

Cindy Sealls: 2:29I guess, for me, and I can totally understand her. She's a younger much younger woman than I am. And just, I think just living through history and crying a bucket load of tears, over different, different things that have happened. There's some something happened a while ago. Uh, I think it was like a year ago. I can't remember what it was, but we were walking and I just said to Kelly, why do white people hate us so much? And she said, I don't think that's true. And I said, yeah, it's true. I said, you know, they just do stuff to us. That makes no sense to me. I've been thinking about how this country was founded, the principles that it was founded on and how they had to, because it was founded on quote unquote, you know, principles of equality, but they weren't treating everybody equally. Um, they, I don't think they did it conscious consciously. I think it was an unconscious way of dealing with this, this , um, situation of supposedly this is the , uh , equal place for every person, but then not treating everybody equally, not treating the native Americans as human beings, not treating the blacks as human beings, not treating women , um , the same way. Uh, so there's, there's, I think there's always been there, this conflict in the soul and spirit of America of having this ideal, but not living the ideal. And I think say you're just a regular person and you're a pastor . So , and so you, you care about this flock, but then you're abusing kids or something like that. I mean, you cannot be a happy and satisfied person. You have got to be a person with a lot of craziness in your soul when that is going on. And I think that's, that's, you know, that's unfortunately the sin, the original sin of America. Um, and I think it's, it's being born out in all of these different conflicts because you know, America, isn't just in conflict with black people. It's citizens, it's in conflict with the world, you know, it's in conflict with other countries. Um, the , the way that we've treated other countries, the way that we've looked at other citizens of other countries, the way we send drones over to, you know, kill, like not seeing other people as human. I think that's the thing. And for us, you know, it's been 400 years of this, of not seeing us as human. And it's just, it's so depressing. But I have hope, I have hope and I hope what my hope is and seeing these protests. And I was telling, I think I told you about this Kelly. We were talking about this, that the hope I see is when I see these people, the people who were involved in the protest, and it's a multi ethnic crowd that gives me hope because in the sixties, there were some white people, but most of the crowd, 95%, 96% were black people. This crowd that I see, it looks like it might be 30, 40% people of other ethnicities who are saying now, okay, we're done with how you're treating these people we're done with that. This we hope I hope will be a new normal will , will bring us to a new normal and how black people are perceived and treated in this country. That's my hope I'm being, I'm going to be optimistic about this whole thing. Optimism is good. Yeah. And I hope that it also pushes us to behave in a different manner toward people in other countries, especially in countries where there are people of color.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 7:07Kelley should remember that we went to Cox's buzzer and seeing Kelly's skin, a white person at the beach , a 10th grader came to us and he wanted to go to America because he has seen from the movies that that's the place to be.

Kelley Lynch: 7:27People always are like—young people, especially—I want to go to America. I want to be in America. Can you sponsor me to go to America? I mean, it's, it would be an aberration not to meet people like that. Well, how does that make you feel? Maybe if you were of a certain political persuasion that might make you stick your chest out a little bit, you know, about being an American, like I'm here in this country and people are coming up to me and asking me to come to my country. That's how great my country is for me. I'm just going to be honest with you. I've had to stand up in front of classes, in schools and other things. And, and what I tell them is it's not what it looks like on television or on, you know, or in the movies. It's not that place. I've talked to too many people here who have immigrated from other countries and they're working two, three jobs trying to make ends meet. And the view from abroad is that those people are making a lot of money and they have everything they want. But the view from within, from those immigrants themselves is , is very different. Um, it's not an easy life being here and there are these tensions. And I don't think I don't want to sugar coat that for people, honestly, at this moment, if you were to ask me what I see is we're standing on the world stage with our pants down, it's pretty embarrassing. So then some kid says to me, Hey, I want to go there. I would have to say Why?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 9:39It's the movies that have made everybody believe that , America is this shiny space. This make believe fools the rest of the world. It also fools some people in US, probably. That's why this whole thing suddenly is kind of a wake up call because this racism issue has been there for 300, 400 years. You know why occasionally people rise up and then again it's subsides? Because it's not addressed as an issue or as a serious major problem,

Kelley Lynch: 10:30Although we are making America great again—

Speaker 6: 10:36All that glitters right? Yeah. Yeah. Isn't gold. It's, it's the, the notion of American dream. It's a dream for all the people living in places or in countries where , uh, the system kind of pushes them so that they cannot live up to their expectation or their potential, I'd say, so this situation truly takes away that idea or that dream—that hope. It's kind of a loss for people all over the world, because it negates the hope that, anybody can be anything and anybody can rise up to any level just because they have the potential or they have the ability to do so,

Kelley Lynch: 11:55so is it that it shows that if you are a person of a certain color, sorry, that dream is closed off to you, is that right ?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 12:07Yeah. It , it, it , the reality is not something that we want to see because it takes away that hope.

Kelley Lynch: 12:18So it's kinda like the movies.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 12:20Exactly.

Kelley Lynch: 12:21You want to see the movie version of the police police brutality where there's a, there's a happy ending.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 12:29Exactly. Exactly.

Kelley Lynch: 12:30Have you seen that movie Cindy?

Cindy Sealls: 12:33I have not seen that movie.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 12:37No , it's, it's, it's, it's more like, it's not a happy ending, but it's more like, you want to believe that even if you come from a different ethnicity, [inaudible] in the end, justice prevails, but in reality, that is not happening. That's what we are seeing. So that's like the most troublesome part. Now, standing here. I definitely think that, that you show an image with makeup and glitter to the rest of the world so that you can dictate them. You can convince them, you can make them do whatever you want them to do. For instance, you know, like here in Bangladesh, the US Embassy was talking about democracy and human rights and governance and things like that. But now, you know, that discussion or that preaching, this shows how hollow that was. They should look at their own backyard. It takes me back to British India. It's the same kind of thing. Dividing and ruling through the idea of Hindus versus the Muslims. It's the same. Instead of dividing people based on their skin color, you are dividing based on their belief. It's the same thing, the British supported one group against another so they could extract whatever resources they could from this land and make themselves rich. Same thing is happening. Who is benefiting from all t his in the States? Seeing a military uniform in the capital city has a different meaning to us because we are so familiar with that concept, especially with Bangladesh being a third world country. This is pretty common. You see military uniform in a capital city, only when the democracy has gone and the military has taken over the whole system. It reminds us of that. The consequences of that, we are so familiar with that. We have seen that in our country and around the world, you don't have any idea how that life is, where you are stripped of all your freedom, just by the whim of a few people. Seeing the same thing happening to your place, it made me sad because I know what lies on the other side of that.

Cindy Sealls: 15:52This is what I say: in my lifetime, born in 61, what has happened for, for black people? Yes. This police thing is still going on. There's a lot of discrimination that's still going on, but we have made a lot of progress as a people in this society. So the year that I was born, in 1961. If you lived basically below Washington, DC , which is about half of the country, you couldn't go on a bus as a black person. You couldn't go on a bus that ran through the states like a regular old bus line. Even if you paid your ticket, you had to sit certain places on and certain transportation. You couldn't go to certain stores. Like for instance, my parents, had to go to segregated schools. My dad was born in the North so he was, he had a much better time than my mom. Even though her dad was a doctor and they had resources , they still had to abide by the rules. Jim Crow. And black people knew it. They just followed the rules to tried to stay out of trouble. You know, some of them would get in trouble. There was a group of vigilantes named the KU Klux Klan who literally had free reign to be able to go anywhere and do anything, to black people, or to white people who helped the black people . So the white people, even if they didn't agree with all this stuff, had to abide by rules, because if they didn't, they were going to be in trouble with the rest of the white people. This is all in my lifetime since I've been born. So like, for instance, me and Kelly, we would not be able to go to her, her home in Texas.

Kelley Lynch: 18:07That's right. Like last summer.

Cindy Sealls: 18:08The only way we would know each other is if we worked somewhere together and she would probably be in a much higher role. So we probably would never have met each other because I would be in a more subservient role at whatever job I was at. So there wasn't even, there wouldn't be even any likelihood that we would ever have met. We might live in the same neighborhood, but that was extremely rare.

Kelley Lynch: 18:37So red lining had finished...

Cindy Sealls: 18:39Right. But still the bank still wouldn't give black people loans. I mean, you know, the banks decide here who lives, where, so, you know , it's just so many things have just changed just in my lifetime , that I have hope. And I have hope because I think the beauty of America is the optimism of the people who founded the country. I don't think they meant that it was actually for everybody, but because of the way they wrote the constitution, where Congress could change it, if they felt so led, it enables more people to be able to partake in the opportunities that are available here. And that's why I think everybody wants to come here because it isn't like that in other places. And no, it's not perfect and nothing's ever perfect. And we just have to keep working on it. And sometimes, unfortunately it has to come to this. So I understand t hat you're not optimistic Tanvir, but I am knowing the history of this country. I just believe in human beings and I think human beings, they don't realize it, but I think t hey're more good than bad. I think the religions tell t hem that that's not true, but I think if you look at human history and what used to go on in human history and where we are now, even though it's not perfect, and it can be really bad for people—most of us want to believe that others of us are kind caring human beings. And that's what we want to be t oo to others. I just believe that.

Speaker 3: 20:36I honestly hope that Cindy's wish comes true in almost every 10 years, we have gone through , um ,

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 20:48Next year, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary of independence. We have seen the very people who fought during the independence. They started fighting among themselves just after four or five years of liberation. And then we have seen the military takeover of the country, of the politics. And then we had a dictator for 10 years. And in nineties, we took down the dictator and started our journey towards democracy. So I have seen this roller coaster ride in our country and, and the effect of it on the people. It's almost every 10 years, we had to fight for a better future for our children. The reason that I have for not being optimistic about your situation is that you have entrusted the police with so much responsibility and do carry out those responsibilities. You have entrusted them with so much power that one day it bites back. We don't have any examples where we see that an authoritarian establishment makes life better. It never happened. I see the same trend in your country. Just one example. See how many journalists were attacked deliberately by police.

Kelley Lynch: 22:27Yeah, that's right.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 22:29That's a tell tale sign. If you can stop journalists from spreading the news, there is no news. That's why they're targeting the journalists. That's, that's one of the biggest worries that I have. You know , we see in our country, that's the norm. The first target is always the journalists or the media. If you can control the media, the rest of the people you can control easily. The media is controlled by the corporates. It no longer represents the mass people — all over the world. Especially in the US, the media is owned by people with money. People with power. What results is that you start self-censoring. You start judging yourself that, okay, I should not be talking about this because that may harm my family. Not me. If it was only us we would be able to take more risks. But when it comes to your family, I'm sure none of you will take the same risk if you know that if you do something, or if you say something, your children will be harmed.

Speaker 3: 23:58That's a terror. You're trying to spread the fear among the media. That's a really bad sign.

Cindy Sealls: 24:07I'll agree with you in that. And I blame the president of the United States because every chance he gets, he criticizes the media, calls them, liars, says to his people that they are trying to take over, or they're trying to destroy him. And that's just amping up the animosity towards the press. And you know, that some of those people that support him are in the police force. I mean, you know, there's gotta be,

Kelley Lynch: 24:46but the police unions, I mean, he was, that was his thing, right. I mean, he was supported by the police unions even as he got elected.

Cindy Sealls: 24:54Yeah. But I mean, I was just thinking, I mean, if 63 million people voted for him, there's some of them have got to be police officers, you know, and I, you know, Tanvir, I mean, I totally get you, but I really believe in the capability of the people in America to be able to fight against authoritarianism. And it's kinda weird because now we have this whole narrative now both on the extreme, right and on the extreme left that this country is becoming like that,

Kelley Lynch: 25:40But they can't agree on why. So one side, says, it's the socialists and the communists who are causing this thing. And the other side says, it's Donald Trump and his ilk who are bringing on this authoritarianism. Everybody's afraid of the same thing. But they point to two totally different causes.

Cindy Sealls: 26:01I mean, cause yeah, that's the confusing thing with us like this, this whole thing is coming from the extreme ends of the political spectrum. So we don't really know what to believe.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 26:14In the beginning. Probably we had extremists in both sides , but after 10 years of independence, they were not too far on the edge. We had institutions there , but they supported the authoritarian power structure just to maximize their benefits. So basically it was, I would say, it's the institutions that were corrupted by the individuals.

Cindy Sealls: 26:47So can you, can you tell us what you foresee for us given what's going on in our country?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 26:54There is no easy way out when people start dying next to you, that people, you know, only then you will start reacting. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that. If you look at the global scenario, look at Hong Kong, how the Chinese is taking over Hong Kong and how nobody talks anymore because the people who were protesting vanished. So there was nobody in the street to protest this , you know, the latest change that China has made to Hong Kong's legislation. You have started going down that path. I was reading about this article about in DC data. So many unmarked law enforcement personnel, like nobody knows which agency they come from, but they are dead. So you make them anonymous and that gives them the power to go beyond the law. You cannot actually identify who fired the shot towards you. So, you don't have any way to prosecute them. So that's where the law and order situation or the rule of law becomes fake. The present generation, that includes ours as well, has a memory of a goldfish. We will forget in three days time or one week's time or one month's time. And we will move on,

Cindy Sealls: 28:37But not the three of us. So there's hope. Because I know we're not the only ones. There's hope you guys. There is hope. Working together, when people realize we're in this together and it's, I mean, I don't want to say it's us against them, but you know, it i s the people who care about the masses as opposed to people who don't. A nd I don't know if they do or don't, but they don't seem to care about the masses. And I just think that, you know, especially with this technology that we have, that we can communicate and that we can see what's going on in each other's countries and how their governments are treating people. I just really hope that we, at some point in the world realize that. Man, you know, we got, we've had all this experience to get this thing, right. And we're still screwing this thing. You know, I just hope that more of us will say, Hey, why don't we have housing, food, healthcare for everybody? Wouldn't that be great?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 29:53I was listening to this, this guy talking about the democracy and capitalism. It's actually against each other. If you have democracy, you cannot have capitalism. If you have capitalism, you cannot have democracy needs dictatorship.

Kelley Lynch: 30:11How, how explain that? What did he say?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 30:14Profit making would be always for chosen few. So you have to deprive the masses to make profit for the chosen few. In the U. S., how did you get to this 1% who want to accumulate more? And that drives the whole idea of capitalism that you will be forcing yourself to make more profit and that actually creates this gap. You cannot have capitalism and democracy working together. It's a myth . And that myth is fed to us because we don't have the bird's eye view of the whole situation. We see from the ground level controlling the flow of information is like the key to controlling the mindset. So that's what you have. News is no longer news it's views, but.

Cindy Sealls: 31:12Tanvir, I was gonna , uh, I agree with you on the whole democracy and capitalism thing, because I 'm just looking at, I mean, I just looking at China and how it's grown so quickly economically, and then I'm reading this book called, Age of Ambition about the g rowth of China. And I came up with a term that I call communistic capitalism, which will enable China to overtake us because there, like you said, the government can control whatever happens with the money here. It's sort of like that. But you know, people have a right to go hide their money, places o ffshore, or whatever. I mean, they're not supposed to, but they do it anyway. But t here, because basically the government is controlling the economy, they are going to be, well, some of them are going to be, y ou k now, filthy rich. So I just looked up a stat and it says, China overtakes us a nd rankings of the world's richest people. This was, this happened in October of 2019 because they r ealized, Hey, this capitalism thing could work for us. If we control it.

: 32:37Listen, you're living. You've lived through this stuff that we in America are always so afraid of. And I think that having your voice in there to say, be careful, I'm just telling you, you know, be very, very careful , uh, about, you know, what you're allowing to take place in your country. It's a slippery slope. And we have to keep our leaders in check and our police officers.

Speaker 7: 33:20[inaudible]

Cindy Sealls: 33:21Going back to the protest. I'm heartened by the kinds of people that are involved and the number of them all over the world. There's a guy who's written a book called How to be an Anti racist. His name is Kendi Ibraham, I think. But anyway, the name of the book is how to be an antiracist. And he, his thing is there's either racism or they're racist and anti-racist, and there's nobody in between because you have to be actively acting against this kind of behavior. That it's not that you know, well , I'm not doing anything. So it's not me. I'm not doing any of that stuff. But as you see, you know, 400 years later, how could this still be happening? It's just, it's just crazy. And it's because I think this whole idea of people of color being institutionally, subjugated all over the world, because I think if you look in a lot of societies, there's a colorism, this whole idea of if I'm lighter and whiter, then they don't deserve my respect as a human being.

Speaker 3: 34:40And I want that to be gone. That, you know, that whole, as we in the black community, call it white is right thing. It needs to be, you know, that cancer needs to be operated on and dugout. And then we need, they need chemotherapy, constant medication to make sure it doesn't come back. Because I think that people this time see that like King said, if there's injustice going on somewhere, it's everywhere. And it's not just in the U S that, that the U S which has a lot of power and influence around the world. Our policies affect people all over the world. So, you know, people might say, well, that's just happened in America, that police brutality, but that police brutality is really just showing the kind of deep infection, you know, a disease that's in America that we have to, we have to get healed of, you know? And I think that will help us then yeah . Put in place policies that, so that we're not basically subjugating people economically around world

Kelley Lynch: 36:10No , indeed , indeed. And I, I really appreciated Tanvir's point earlier about how, when you go outside of America, you see America is covered a lot in the news, you would almost think you were watching the American news to a certain extent. BBC Al Jazeera , wherever. I mean, American news is often the news that leads. And I think it has a deep impact on other people. I , I don't think I fully appreciate it until Tom Baer said that the impact that this has on the possibilities that other people around the world see for themselves.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 36:51it's this idea that if they can do it, we can do it too. So you take out that , take away that dream in you are shattering their dream as well.

Kelley Lynch: 37:13I feel so privileged and so grateful to have two friends like you, and to be doing this with you. Thank you both. I really appreciate it. We'll talk again soon. Probably tomorrow. Okay, bye. Have a great day. All right , bye guys. Bye. So what do we want them to do? Okay. One, two, three. Before you go, please hit subscribe.

Cindy Sealls: 37:59Why are you saying hit? That's a violent it thing?

Kelley Lynch: 38:08Gently touch the subscribe button. And there you go. Touch the like button on Facebook and put it up there very kindly to your friends. And then if you wouldn't mind also click that beautiful heart button and show us some love on. There, am I making you happy over there?

Cindy Sealls: 38:31You can't have , you can't have hit and love in the same sentence. Right.

Kelley Lynch: 38:36Alright. Okay. All right . We're done .