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13 minute read

A Real Conversation of About Race Relations

A REAL CONVERSATION ON RACE RELATIONS

Left to Right: Jason Huddle, Adul El Ali and Sam Dozier had some real conversation on race relations over two episodes of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine
Photo By: Jason Huddle

Jason Huddle: Joining me are two members of our community . Sam Dozier… is highly esteemed in this industry and in this community. I’ve known Sam for many years.

We also invited Addul El Ali. He is a Republican, African American in our community. H e also hosts his own podcast called The Urban Conservative. He has a unique perspective from Sam, which is why I wanted them both to come in.

Sam grew up in the projects of St. Louis. Ali did not. They don’t necessarily agree on some topics that we’re going to discuss today.

One of the most poignant things that was said yesterday afternoon that didn’t get caught on the microphone but it was very impactful for me , was when my mom walked into the office. She said, “Sam, tell me , what I can do for you ? As a 70-something-year-old White woman, what do you want me to do?”

I just sat back and I was like, Wow! I totally get it. And I think that’s generally what everybody wants, right? You want to be heard, right? The problem is, we’re all busy talking so much that we’re not listening to anybody else. 

Sam answered, in a very gracious way. And to paraphrase him, he said, “I want you to stop trying to fix it and just listen. Just listen to my perspective and what I have to say and empathize with me. ”

I just sat back and I was like, “Wow! I totally get it. ” And I think that’s generally what everybody wants, right? You want to be heard, right? The problem is, we’re all busy talking so much that we’re not listening to anybody else.

Jason Huddle: But it kind of sets the tone for this whole conversation that we’re going to have, because I am here to listen. I’m here to ask questions. But I’m also here to listen, as a White male. As somebody who has not experienced growing up as an African American person, I am here to listen , and I want to know what you guys think.

Sam Dozier: Let me touch on that— why it’s very important to listen for anything in any type of situation. Some people want the answer and then some people want the solution. You know now, if you just want the answer, that is just the what. Meaning that it is strictly that you can get an answer by looking on someone else’s paper and then write down what they wrote down and you have the answer. But you have to understand the equation. Meaning you need to know the what , the why, the how, the when, and the where, when you are talking about something that we’re talking about right now . It’s going to be take more than just the what. So , that’s the fix that I’m talking about , when people are trying to fix something.

Normally, if someone fixes something is kind of like repairing it, right? You know, sometimes it’s just that bandaid on something. But that doesn’t take care of the core of what made this what it is. In order for healing to happen, it has to go below the surface. When you’re able to listen to a person’s hurt and the pain, then that’s when the empathy can come; when one feels that you empathize— we’re not looking for sympathy.

Addul El Ali: I think a lot of the issues that we see on the racial front now are symptoms of, like (Sam) said, something that’s a little deeper. But what is that deeper thing than the “America was founded on racism” thing? We can’t take modern understandings of what race was back then , because they didn’t look at race the same way back then the way we look at it now. I think the symptoms of the violence, the rioting, the looting, the perception, like the brother said, in some of the realities that people think they’re living in ; and I’m not saying that disrespectfully, I’m saying that from the perspective of people (who) may not understand there’s a different way to look at their own life. And not that education solves everything , but I mean, fundamental , American basic education isn’t what it was when I was going to school , and I was at the tail end of when it was changing (in the) 80’s. It’s not the same ballgame.

I think that the difficulty is in an internal Black conversation about what it means to be Black in America in 2020 (and) a real thorough change in how we teach American history and education. Acknowledging the falls, acknowledging the slavery acknowledging the horrible, terrible parts, acknowledging all of that, and then assessing where we are and going. 

I think that education and how our education system has basically catered to, let’s just call it subculture… teaching us Ebonics and the lies of omission about certain things that happened in our history, painting all of the founding fathers as these racist , redneck , slave-owning tyrants that couldn’t stand Black (people). There’s certain aspects of our history that I think , by and large, we aren’t taught. I think that’s one part of it.

I think the other part of the race problem in America is , I think , the lack of identity. What it means to be Black in America got co -opted by a certain class of people who then said this is the lack experience. The well-spoken, that ain’t the Black experience, right? Like, you would look at Barack Obama—technically, he didn’t have what you would call the American Black experience. But we identify him as one of us , when he don’t know nothing about none of the struggles we had here. So , I think that the difficulty is in an internal Black conversation about what it means to be Black in America in 2020 , (and) a real , thorough change in how we teach American history and education. Acknowledging the falls, acknowledging the slavery , acknowledging the horrible, terrible parts, acknowledging all of that, and then assessing where we are and going.

What I’m saying now is that I think we’ve got to get to a point first within the Black community that we’re accept ing of different worldviews… Not all of us view politics through the lens of being oppressed. There’s not too many other places that we can pick, like, on the planet that you would rather live, right? There’s a few , but there’s not too many other places in regards to the level of freedom you have here.

Sam Dozier: As a Black person, is what you’re saying?

Addul El Ali: As any person—White, Yellow, Black, Red. I’m saying for me, it does . The numbers don’t warrant me being scared leaving my house—the number of police shootings…it doesn’t warrant being shook.

Jason Huddle: Here’s my question —and I come from a very sincere place in asking this , okay? My oldest son, when he was just shy of two years old, was severely bitten by a dog. It was one of the scariest, probably one of the worst days of my life. I had to take him to the hospital. It was horrible. We asked the doctor, is he going to be afraid of dogs now? And the doctor said, that depends on you. If you freak out every time you see a dog walking down the street, he’s gonna freak out. But if you show him that not every dog is like the one that bit him, he will be fine. There’s only one time I can remember, and it was within a few months after the dog biting, there was a dog walking down the street in our neighborhood that looked just like the dog that bit him and he freaked out. Other than that, we’ve always had a dog in our house. He’s always been a dog person. He loves his dogs, because we didn’t freak out every time a dog came down the street. So, my question is this from a very sincere place. Is the fear of the police in the African American community? Is that a taught behavior? Or is that a learned behavior by experience?

Sam Dozier: That’s great question. Let me first touch on the fear , because most people think the fear of the police is constantly being scared. We’re not scared of the police. But that doesn’t make us not fearful for our life. You understand what I’m saying? And because we’re not scared of the police, when we know that we didn’t do anything to warrant (an officer) pulling us over. I know that I didn’t do anything, but because the officer knew that he can get away with it. This is what people are talking about in the Black community. The system has to change because there’s a systemic inequality standard that’s going on right now.

Now, if we understood that this was not for us, that’d be totally different. I understand that maybe everything can be totally equal. But that’s not what you tell us. Because when we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, we say I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice – I’m cool right there, but don’t say “for all” if it doesn’t mean me.

“We’re not scared of the police. But that doesn’t make us not fearful for our life. You understand what I’m saying? And because we’re not scared of the police, when we know that we didn’t do anything to warrant (an officer) pulling us over. I know that I didn’t do anything, but because the officer knew that he can get away with it. This is what people are talking about in the Black community. The system has to change because there’s a systemic inequality standard that’s going on right now. ”

Addul El Ali: Right .

Sam Dozier: We’re talking about the people that are crying out right now. These are people that are in poverty, impoverished in areas, going to schools that we know need fixing, been needing some solutions to this thing . We understand… what these school systems look like. We understand what these urban communities look like. All of this, that’s a part of what contributes to the injustice and there’s a systemic type of oppression that’s been with us for so long, and that’s dated all the way back , coming all the way up.

Addul El Ali : So , I think one of the things we got to look at to answer the question simply is yes, it’s a learned behavior. And yes, a portion of that is ingrained. So, who was taught that behavior? And who was the behavior ingrained in? We could go all the way back to slavery and talk about the fact that there wasn’t any fear of White people, right? Not all B lack people were scared of all W hite people. But , by and large, you know, it was a society, it was a time where Whites were looked on as a superior race.

So, there was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and all these other different laws that were passed.

Culture doesn’t necessarily move at the speed of legislation. It takes time for natural inclinations to change over time. One of the things that we have to look at though, there’s just not one linear , flat way to look at history.

When we look at economic history, we look at educational history, we look at legal history, we look and see what factors contributed to that condition. So , one of those factors is yes, we have a post-slavery society where, during that time, a lot of pseudo-scientific things in relation to race were being spread.

One of the dynamics that we also have to understand is that there was a point in society where we looked at American society as a whole with respect. There was a time when a butcher was a respected guy in a community. There was a time where the mechanic was the respected guy in the community. The milkman was a respected dude. And the police officer was a respected guy. Black, White, Yellow, Red—didn’t matter… We were fed through arts, through music, through film, through all of that stuff. And you know, everything said was antagonistic to the police. They’re the enemy.

One of the biggest rap groups of all time was Public Enemy? Public Enemy, he didn’t tell us to go be the power. They didn’t say go vote out the power. They said fight the power!

Think about that. What do you mean by fight? Because fight has a certain connotation. When you look at the imagery, what were they actually saying, right? Do we really get that? You can’t have pride in yourself if every image that you see of yourself is destructive. Part of that was ingrained, and part of that we owe to the degradation of American culture and the lowering of standards.

Sam Dozier: So, back in like between ’75 and let’s say ’85, the police were a fixture in the neighborhoods in the communities. We knew the officers—Officer Smith (would) come out and play football with us, throw the ball— not necessarily play, but throw the ball. This was a White officer, but because he invested the time that was necessary to learn (our) community, and then, even when he saw us doing things that we shouldn’t have been doing, he was not aggressive when he came up to question it. See, now, they don’t even question anything anymore. …They come up demanding everything.

I’ll give you a prime example of what we were just talking about. When you look at how law enforcement has been done in this country, by and large, the last, I don’t know, hundred years. You put your cops where the crimes are. Any good police chief will tell you this is a pleasantly quiet neighborhood.

There’s no need for me to invest manpower in scrolling this neighborhood because nothing ever happens over there in Mayberry, but down the street in Jonesville, you’ve got robbery after robbery after this and after that…. So, there’s all of these police there. I think when we examined what lead up to the crime epidemic, the crack epidemic that hit and how to disallow disproportionately, and the terribly disproportionate impact on Black communities (which) was a major reason we got to the point of that ‘94 crime bill. What I’m saying, essentially, is that the things that we should be up in arms and angry about as a Black community are the things we’re celebrating.