Racism in America: Will love unite us toward a better future?

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Continuing the dialog around Racism in America, I talked to DEI consultant Aaisha Joseph and a technology executive Joseph Todd. We focused on whether love will unit us toward a better future.

Nineteen80 is a management consultancy and creative agency focused on transitions. As a Xennial, I was born in an analog world and came of age in a digital world. As the world transitions from command and control to distributed teams, analog to digital, concentrated power and wealth to distributed knowledge of the crowd, Nineteen80 seeks to bring the best of both worlds together to create something better.

Episode Summary

In this episode, we spoke about...

  • Loving the unlovable
  • The Black experience
  • How we get to a more equitable world

Connect With Aaisha Joseph
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaishajoseph/
Website - https://www.aaisharenee.com

Connect With Joseph Todd
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephctodd/

Connect With Daniel Hoang
My website - http://www.danielhoang.com
My company - http://www.nineteen80.co
Follow me on Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/danielhoang
Follow me on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/danielhoang
Join The Nineteen80 Membership - https://www.nineteen80.io/signup

Date recorded January 27th, 2021
Music from https://artlist.io/

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/danielhoang)


Daniel: You're pretty bold yourself. I mean, just on, on LinkedIn. Are you finding any challenges, issues, especially in your role in government and your public facing role?

Joseph: I don't care. It, for me the, the big thing about it is this has got to change. Right. The system has gone along too long to continue down this journey. We had a fascist for a president. He brought out the worst in America.

I truly believe. That  Donald Trump was better for our country than Hillary Clinton would have been. Not because Donald Trump is a great person  is because Donald Trump brought out the stuff that people were keeping in the back of their minds below the surface, not speaking out loud. But using that bias in every aspect of our lives.

Daniel: hey everyone. Welcome back to the 1980 podcast. In this season, we are talking about racial equity. Racism in America. And today I'm talking to two really incredible people. Joseph Todd. And Aisha Joseph.

Joseph and I. Uh, met each other at Tukwilla city had of Tukwila when he was the CTO there. And I saw him posting and I've been following along with his work and he had posted something on Asia. And I was so awestruck by that. Conversation. On LinkedIn. Then I reached down and I said, Hey, can you, two of you get together and hop on a call so we can.

Record this. So this is that recording. And throughout this. Podcasts. I'm going to be jumping in and giving a little bit of color commentary to the conversation. Let's get into it

Daniel: I formed this company in 2020 just before the pandemic and the premise of Nineteen80 is about transitions. I was born in Nineteen80 and as a transition generation.

And after George Floyd, I saw myself as that Asian cop, that set by on the sidewall, George Floyd was murdered. And so I transitioned a lot of my effort into really understanding my role in racism and. You know, doing something about it. So here I am having conversations with people and I wanted to get a comment that I saw that Joseph posts on LinkedIn.

He said our capacity and willingness to love the unlovable is the true essence of being a black American, even when not being loved back. We still love anyways. What does that mean? I like to understand that a little bit more and unpack that. So maybe I'll start, Joseph, I think is your post and unwell jumped to Asia.

Joseph: Well, it was built off of a message that Aaisha send out and I just resonated with it so much. But I also remember when I was coming up as a kid and then the guy from mobile, Alabama my father and I speaking about the fact that loving our country. Loving what it could be, even though it didn't love us back.

And I, and I mean, in every way, they don't love us back and healthcare. They don't love us back. And given those gainful employment, don't love us back and given us resources and I, and I, and I use giving, giving us lightly because we earned it. There's no giving us something for free. We earned it. Years and years of slavery off our backs, this country has done amazingly in the world.

But every time someone says in a, as a black American says that we want the fullness of being an American. I always hear some joke about, Oh, well you want somebody to give you something? No, I just want what's owed.

Aaisha: I mean, I love everything. Joseph said,  there's been so many black people who have sacrificed and suffered just for this country in multiple ways. So, I mean, if you think about. The black soldiers who served in Wars. Right. But then they have to come home and face the fact that they were fighting for freedoms and other countries, but where was that freedom for them when they arrived back on American soil.

And so, I mean, it's, it's just incredible how. We continue to give in our service and our in,  some of our patriotism. Right. And also in the fact that we, we haven't, or we're not looking for revenge in a sense, right. We're not looking to Tear up everything because of what has happened to us.

And I think that is one of the true essence of love, you know, it's, it's not seeking revenge. Right. And so I think there's multiple ways that that black people have, have, have loved this country  while it not loving them back.

Daniel: it seems like an understated comment here. Because. Black people have loved this country and while not, not loving them back. On January six. He grew up with people, charged and brush the Capitol. Defending against Donald Trump. Who called for white nationalism. And called for. Just blatant racism. As Joseph mentioned earlier. And so. I didn't understand. Why would they care? Are they afraid? I don't understand. Let's find out.  

Aaisha: And it's like, why would they choose to care? And I think that as black Americans. We it's like when you love something, you want to hold it accountable. Right. And you want to make sure that they're living up to the ideals that they can like, even when you have children, right?

Like there's a, you discipline them. Or you kind of point out where they're gone wrong because you love them and you want them to course correct. And I think if, you know, Blacks didn't care that there would just be I dunno how to put it if we didn't care there, wouldn't be such a fight to hold America to the ideals that our professors that it has.

And so, yeah, I love what Joseph had wrote. It's it's so true. We, we continue to. Give so much of ourselves in various capacities and this country while, I mean, we're faced with my goodness hate crimes while we're faced with being discriminated against while we're faced with higher rates of police brutality while we're faced with discrimination in the workplace.

And and it's exhausting, it's really exhausting.

(pause here... it's exhausting)

Daniel: I see what you're saying is just black Americans. Just have this unconditional love and you both speak with such passion that better, but like why? Like, why is there such love for this country? That's treated you so poorly?

Aaisha: I think because what it was meant to embody is beautiful, right? Like what the pursuit of, you know just happiness and life and Liberty and all those things in the ideals, which were, which we were actually written out of and not thought about of when the, when the constitution was written.

We see how wow lovely that it is. And we just want it to apply equally to us as well. So the,  ideas and the values of like free speech and freedom of religious expression and being able to come and, you know, make anything of yourself and all of these wonderful values that America stands for.

There are beautiful things. However, they have not been Equally afforded to us. And I think for me personally, it's, you know, that's, that's part of why I think America has such potential to be the greatest country in the world. I don't think it is now. But it has that potential. If it would apply all of those ideas and those values to everyone equally.

Joseph: Right. I totally agree with Aaisha.  She's spot on it's a belief in the beautiful world that this could be the, the beautiful country that this could be. The really shining light on the Hill that Ronald Reagan talked about and being a light for democracy across the world, right.

We have to like live up to being better and better than what we really are because we've been the worst the over years and years, but we've been telling ourselves that we were better. And it's and it's a love of something and what it could be.

Daniel: Well, I w I wanna say, talk a little bit about the pandemic experience, because I think there's a dichotomy and of experience during this pandemic. I'm looking at my white friends and colleagues, and we're talking about baking sourdough bread, writing their Peleton bikes, and they did the blackout Tuesday on Instagram.

While this whole time, you know, we had George Floyd, the insurrection that recently happened. And personally for myself, I've been tracking my heart rate and, and my sleep and heart rate variability. And it's all tanked ever since they insurrection. What is the black experience like sense? Let's call it George Floyd, the insurrection.

I mean, how are you feeling it in your bodies? How how's it impacting you?

Aaisha: I think it's been different for a lot of people. Right. So I don't want to, I can't speak to the whole black experience, but I can speak from my perspective and how I felt. So for me

It's given me and I feel others permission to say the things that we've always wanted to say without regard of consequence. I think for many people, it kind of catapulted us into this mindset of I'm not going to be quiet any longer about the injustices that are happening.

Whether it's in my workplace. Or in the world. And I feel, again, it gave a lot of people permission to say enough is enough. We need to start speaking out. We need to start holding people accountable. And you can see that by the transition of the conversations that started happening on social media, particularly with LinkedIn, which has been known for its very conservative content, but now you're seeing.

You know, lively conversations about race, race relations in the workplace and outside of it. So I say for me, the black experience it's been, it's been very interesting and I think it's one of the reasons why it's also been interesting is because a lot of people now have not saying it's a bad thing, right.

But now have this urgent need to be educated on these issues. Which we know have existed for so long and we've personally had to grapple with it. And so there's this element of, okay, now let's look to the black community to educate us on what's happening. You know, it's like, they're just waking up.

And they're like shaking us out of bed. Like, Oh my gosh, do you see what just happened? Like, do you know what's been going on the last 100 years? Yes. I've been living it, we've been living it, you know? So it's been really interesting. I mean, I, I, haven't noticed, I think it's really cool that you track your, your sleep and your heart rate and things of that sort.

Daniel: I want to tell us a note in this instance, uh, just the mere tracking of my buyers. Not necessarily relevant. I recognize and realize it's a fairly privileged even have all this equipment and gear to sit there and recognize to attract my pile of data. But I went on an experiment to really understand.

How does the world impact my physical being. I was reading his book from therapy called your body knows. And the pain. Things IOT. Everything manifests itself in physical parts, whether you're not sleeping. Weight gain.

Other parts of your body is impacted by this. And I noticed as I'm tracking my heart rate variability, as I'm tracking my mental health state. Kind of how quiet or how loud my mind is. After the insurrection. My body went into this almost cocoon, like protective state. And I wanted to understand that a little bit more.

And so I'll follow that in a future episode. Just around biohacking and understanding. Your body a little bit more. Mental health. That's more of our future episodes.

Aaisha: Just on a practical level. That's awesome. I really haven't noticed any change or shift, I think Maybe immensely, emotionally. I do know that sometimes because of everything that's happening, because I am vocal on social media platforms the pushback can take a toll. And so that's one thing that I that I deal with here and there.

I remember actually one night I was crying and I can't remember why. And I had to just call my friends and they just just really weren't comfortable. It was comforting. I don't know if it was in, it was a response to something that happened in social media. But yeah, for the most part, I just, I feel like, again, it's, it's just while it's been a tragic it was really tragic.

What happened? It kind of opened the doorway to. Lots of people being able to feel like, you know, they can now speak about certain things. So some people still are afraid, but it's a movement. I think that we, we're just not going to go back from right. It's like, it's a new era in accountability, I think.

And so that's the best way that I can describe how I've I've kind of witnessed the black experience post judge Floyd.

Daniel: And Joseph and I talked about that as well. Just kind of, I'm asking him, you know, Joseph, you're a public official and I'm seeing you post some praise, harsh comments on LinkedIn. And why are you doing that? And I think we started the conversation around that and it was just, you know, it's time that just keep this out in the limelight and it's not okay anymore.

Joseph: Yeah, it's absolutely not okay anymore. And I'm just I'm just completely done with. Not talking about this stuff out in the open, because what happens to us happens out in the open, right? We get abused by the police out in the open, not in secret. We have terrible healthcare in our communities out in the open nine secrets.

We get terrible access to resources. Out in the open and not as a secret. And so we have to talk about it. We have to talk, talk about those experiences. We have to make sure people know, we have to make people understand that we are seeing it. We're not oblivious to what's going on. And so also think is pretty cool that you're tracking your sleep in and heart as well.

I, I think I should start doing so as well, but but, but I think mentally. It's been trying for me because I find myself, you know, my son is black and I find myself worried about him more and more on a daily basis than I did in the past. I worried about him a lot in the past, but now. W with the, just being in your face and folks being just racist out in the open, I mean, I, I just kind of live in fear on him being himself.

My son is he's an amazing kid and he's pretty open and he loves to play around and he's got the great engaging attitude. And I worry, like if somebody's going to take that out of context and, and it's ridiculous. I don't even have to have to say, Hey, Hey, Hey, so don't, don't be yourself out in public because somebody might take it the wrong way.

And so that's why I'm talking about it. I'm tired of it. He should not have to deal with this in the future. My, I have a a niece that's here on vacation from California. She should not have to worry about this in the future. And it's up to us now to make sure that doesn't it. They don't have to worry about it.

Daniel: Personally, I am considered generation 1.5, so my parents were, did the Vietnamese boat people. And so they were, I'm a product of the Vietnamese war, the Vietnam war. And as I'm trying to reconcile who I am and where I belong when I'm coming to the conclusion is I have no home. You know, I come to the United States here and what the air quote, Chinese virus, you know, people say, go home to China.

You're not welcome here. And I can't go to Vietnam because I'm not Vietnamese. Anyway, I have no home. And I think what I'm finding is just this. Culture that has been formed. What I'm missing as I'm missing you, Joseph, I'm missing you, Aisha. I'm missing the love that YouTube resonate and this culture, this world that we live in is so full of just hate and anti love.

And so how do we bring more, the two of you out into the light and bring more of just this pure love that you bring. And I think that's, what's, that's what I'm needing personally in my life. And. I'm just honored to be in the presence of both of you have been.

Aaisha: Wow. That's that's beautiful.  I think one of the things that I strive to do on LinkedIn. Is to build empathy and thus love for other people, regardless of differences. And it's garnered me some enemies, but it's also changed a lot of people for the better. And so my position is I.

You know, even though I'm, I'm I'm a black woman, I'm very pro social justice and all those good things. People have these misconceptions. Well, since she's pro black and she's saying XYZ, like, you know, then obviously she hates white people, obviously. She hates Republicans. Obviously she's a Democrat, obviously in this, all this check the box and it's like, well, no, that's not who I am.

Right. You know, I don't paint a brush, a broad stroke and say, all Trump supporters are racist. I don't paint a broad stroke and say, all Republicans are racist. People are very nuanced and they have different dimensions. And when we start looking at people beyond labels, it's when we can really start to engage with one another, another and understand one another.

And really begin to, to look at things from someone else's perspective and thus help to cultivate that empathy and that love. And so that's one of the things that I strive to do.  You know whenever I post and and there are, and there are people who, who, again, who I've mentioned have have really have taken to that because I really think that.

That's what we need. Right? Like you said, it's, it's, it's medicine for the soul. Love is medicine for the soul. And I know that some people don't have that capacity. Right. It's like, well, if you're racist or you're, you know this or that, like, I can't deal with you. Like, I don't want to deal with you.

You're, you know, it's, it's all these things, but you know, that's not my approach. I don't, I don't think that's going to make anything better. Right. And then I also think that when we do that, We are all of us have faults. And so we then start to position our faults as somewhat morally superior to the faults of others, which to me is just really unacceptable.

So so yeah, I, I. Come check out the people who hang with me on LinkedIn, they are they're my community tribe of people who who, who get it and who do not feed into this, to this just atmosphere of hate, because I think that's what people want. I know it's it's we have the right to be angry about things.

We have a right to be upset. But for me, I don't ever want that anger or me holding someone accountable to translate into anything but loving them. I don't know if that answers your question.

Daniel: You are just, you are a gift to this world. That's just. I mean, you just so rare and it shouldn't be the norm, but it's the, it's the, you're the odd one out and that one then.  So Aisha, I'm looking at your website, you do some personal coaching and consulting in the world of diversity and inclusion. Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you're doing and what you're up to.

Aaisha: Yeah, absolutely. So right now I primarily focused on anti-racism coaching at the moment. And I work with individuals who are struggling with either their feelings or experience around privilege around allyship, around racism, around. How to navigate corporate America as a person of color.

And yeah, so that's, that's the heart of the work that I'm doing right now. It's really helping people to challenge, to be reflective and to challenge the beliefs that they previous held so that they can replace them with new ones. And that's my I helped them with that journey through a coach.

Daniel: And just can you share a little bit about yourself professionally? What are you currently working on and how can we support you and your family as well?

Joseph: well from a government perspective of we're really focusing on digital equity and making sure that everybody has equitable access as the service and. And one of the big things is really trying to help folks understand from a heart and soul perspective in organizations that diversity is more than just hiring a bunch of black people and putting them in positions.

It's about creating a structure that allows people to be who they are. And strive and be able to take those pieces of themselves and provide them back to the organization to make it a better place. And you know, I spent a lot of time when I was at the Boeing company when I was at Alaska, trying to make sure that that kind of stuff was infused in organizations and, and for me right now, it's even more of a task.

And I mean, it's a truly a task because a tangible task is not like some frilly ideas, some theory I'm really pushing organizations to be the best they can be and live up to be diverse organizations. I mean, you may have seen one of my posts is where I'm really pushing King County where well we make hiring.

I'm sorry. When we make purchases of software and services. The companies that we work with are going to have to meet what I, our goals are from an equity and social justice perspective, or we won't buy your software. And those folks need to understand like you, you, you have to, you have to join us in this engagement and making this world better and not continue to build a bias and that kind of stuff into the The applications and stuff that you implement.

I mean, LinkedIn is one of them, right? LinkedIn is, has bias built in and by design. And so it's those, it's those things that I'm really as a professional that I'm pushing against.

Daniel: I want to thank the two of you and as black Americans solving this problem, I can't believe that we're putting the onus on you to solve these problems and these companies and. People that are from privileged positions, aren't solving these problems. And so I appreciate that. I'm going to start wrapping up the recording of the podcast itself.

One thing I want to just make public for both of you is I'd like to contribute a certain dollar amount. I'm going to email you individually. Just one, cause I think I want to respect and, and contribute for your, the value of your time and simply not just taking advantage of you because of your role in this. And I think I want to set an example. So I'll send a note either you can take the personal money yourself and, or I'll donate to a charity of your choice. Other than that, I just really value both of you and I hope we can stay in touch and continue this dialogue and keep up the work.

Daniel: So that last bit was a little bit unplanned. I hadn't planned on, I had previously not paid any of my podcasts. Guest, uh, any funds where this, and in the middle of it, I realized. Am I taking advantage of someone. During black history month. Am I taking advantage of people because of my platform?

And so I felt specifically. For black Americans and just. We should be paying people for their expertise. We should be paying them. For their time.

Just like we would, anyone else. And so there we go. Hey, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This one was a little hard for me because it's at the top episode. You can feel the pain, but also you can feel the love. And I'm hopeful.

It better be. Good. It better come out. To better work.

Because I think with the love that you heard from this conversation from Asia and Joseph.

If there isn't love. There's no hope. There's no future. The in the next one

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