In recent years, attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States of skyrocketed. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been over 10,300 documented incidents of hate. Today, we’re joined by Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director of AAPI Equity and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, to learn more about how data is being collected and shared in the movement to stop Asian hate. In recent years, attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States of skyrocketed. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been over 10,300 documented incidents of hate. Today, we’re joined by Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director of AAPI Equity and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, to learn more about how data is being collected and shared in the movement to stop Asian hate.
Hi, I’m Josh Davis from StriveTogether, your host for today’s episode of Together for Change. Here we share expert perspective on what’s possible in communities and how we can work together to build to last. In the Cradle to Career movement and the work of collective impact we know about the importance of data. For example, we’ve talked about communities like Spartanburg, South Carolina, who are using continuous improvement methodology and real time data to address challenges and opportunities as they arise, instead of allowing problems to grow. Today, we’re going to learn how data is being collected and shared to drive change in a different but related area, the movement to stop Asian hate. In recent years attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States have skyrocketed. Since the COVID 19 pandemic began, there have been over 10,300 documented incidents of hate. Stop AAPI Hate was formed to help track and respond to these attacks. We’re joined by Manju Kulkarni, Executive Director of AAPI, Equity and Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate. So let’s get started. Manju, welcome to Together for Change.
Thanks so much for having me on, Josh.
Manju, I have to start with, part of your bio informs the readers, listeners, those that are tuning in that you most recently became one of TIME 100’s most influential people. And so this is an absolute honor and I’m intrigued because I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with someone it’s such an esteemed class. Tell us, how did you get to be recognized as one of the most influential people by TIME Magazine? What’s that story?
Well, let me just say, you know, it was a complete surprise that Cynthia Choi, Russell Jeung and I were recognized in that way. And really, I think, I want to say, a recognition of so many people in what has become this movement, right? And we are really standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, those who have been part of the resistance for centuries, right? We know that this is not the first time for anti Asian hate and discrimination. Our, you know, foremothers and forefathers experienced it before. And now what we’re saying is, you know, in this latest iteration, we too, are going to resist. And so I’ve been really heartened, Josh, by really the 1000s of folks that have come out into the streets and rallies and protests. And I do feel just really honored and humbled by the recognition and just know, though, that it’s the work of our staff. It’s the work of community members. And, you know, just in this particular instance, you know, we become the face of it in some small way. But really, it’s about so many other folks.
Manju, you said something that I want to dive right into, and the purpose of it is I feel that in order to have conversations that progressively allow two or more people to move into action, there has to be some baseline of facts and truth, and your recognition of those that have come before you. I wonder if you could give our audience a quick sort of glimpse back into the history of our country and speak about the incidences. The examples of this type of hate that has been going on for generations. And what that looks like when it is also augmented and supported by policy so that you not only have interpersonal, hate, and interpersonal oppression, but what does this look like in the formation of our country? And so again, thinking go back this baseline of facts and just truth that demonstrates that what a community is being subjected to today in 2021, 2022, didn’t just start in 2020, during COVID. So what can you share with our audience about that trajectory of time?
So we know that, you know, first off, let me say that 2021 and 2022 are recognition for so many folks that our histories are not being taught in schools, right? And that there now are new efforts to prevent that from happening, right, even going forward. And we see the full on assault on the 1619 Project and so many others where we’re trying to engage in that truth telling, when we look back at our history, Asian American and Pacific Islanders have been part of it for centuries. There’s evidence that people from my community, South Asians, were brought to the US as indentured servants as early as the late 1700s. And, you know, other community members came during the 1800s. And we saw, of course, that, you know, what little we are taught in school that Chinese Americans helped to build the Transcontinental Railroad. And after they did that, right, they were essentially ousted. And we had the Chinese Exclusion Act to say, you know, no more of you. There were attacks not only against Chinese Americans, but even South Asians. So Indian Americans who were working in the lumber factories in Washington, literally, there’s an incident of 500 white men beating and driving out 200 South Asian men in the early 1900s. You had the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, which prevented pretty much everyone from Asia from entering the US legally between 1917 and essentially 1965. And so we don’t know that history, right. And the other part of our history that I also want to add is, to many people, that is to many immigrants outside of Europe, don’t know that it’s because of civil rights leaders that well, many of us came to the United States, or were allowed into the US, because after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, they didn’t just rest on their laurels. They said our immigration laws are also extremely racist, not allowing folks from Asian, African, even South American countries, and so they opened up through the Immigration Act of 1965, these pathways, and that’s literally how my family came to the United States. It’s because of those civil rights leaders. So I just wanted to uplift that part two of our history.
It’s remarkable because that these changes have happened within your lifetime and mine. And it is remarkable, scary, all at the same time, to me to think about just how long of the formation, of the structure of our company has been in place, structure of our country’s been in place to just be alive to see some of the actual changes systemically take place that allow for an accelerated pathway towards inclusion. So it’s just something of note. And once you could tell us a little bit more about your trajectory into this work, you know, what is it in your person that brings you into this work and in the position that you are in now?
You know, I can start, really, in middle school, which is that, at that time, I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, right sort of the heart of the Confederacy, the buckle of the Bible Belt. And it was there that my mother, actually, my parents happen to both be doctors, and that was, you know, part of the immigration story as well, because it was only in the Immigration Act of 1965, the only ways for us to come here are if our parents were engineers, scientists or doctors, because that’s what was needed in the US marketplace. So when my mom applied for a position at a hospital in the late 1970s, early 80s, she, in front of, you know, white panel of doctors, all men was told, you foreigners come here and take all of our jobs, just blatantly, right? They said few other racist things, and then they denied her the position. My parents with a tremendous amount of courage and bravery brought a class action lawsuit against not only those doctors but also against the University of Alabama residency program, which essentially prevented foreign medical graduates from non European countries from being part of the residency program. So really limiting or prohibiting them from practicing in Alabama, and they got a settlement out of that their lawyer was actually on the board of the Southern Poverty Law Center. And interestingly enough, I actually was going to follow in their footsteps. I said from when I was five that I also wanted to be a doctor. But seeing that, and seeing that laws, could bring about change, and could actually redress violations, really of human rights, civil rights, I said, like, this is for me. And so I early on in my career, right after I graduated from high school, worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center in my gap year, then went to law school, worked at the ACLU at MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and then decided my, you know, first position as an attorney was working at a civil rights law firm on what was the Denny’s Consent Decree, this was the largest class action lawsuit in public accommodations. So that means really, like, you know, particular type of retail. And so it’s something that I’ve, you know, dedicated my life to and feel like, you know, for me, this is the driver of change. I’m not here to change hearts and minds, I want to see changes in behavior. And growing up in the South, I think I knew, you know, people thought poorly of me. They may have wanted to dehumanize me, but they couldn’t because of the law. And again, I can’t change what they’re thinking. And I’m not, I’m not in the psychology business so I’m not trying to.
So strongly appreciate your history with the South, and the evolution of where you’ve landed in terms of wanting to use your person to make an impact to and from the South. I’m from Mississippi, and have lived here 89% of my living life at this point. And so there is a strong resonance with me to your sort of trajectory of, at a certain point, there’s only so much that I can do as one person. And so individually, the relationships that we hold with people might give them enough investment in us as people that they change a part of their mind or heart. But in the role that I hold now, and with the time that I have left on this earth, I feel very, very strongly connected to your desire to actually change behaviors. A lot of times it has to be done by what is mandated is legal, and from jurisdiction. So I appreciate, I appreciate that evolution. I want to go into a little bit about Stop AAPI Hate. And you know, there are many organizations working in the AAPI community, from those focused on civil rights work to grass roots groups. Tell us what are the factors that you were considering when you were forming Stop AAPI Hate as a new effort? What gaps were you open to field in this ideation and creation?
That’s a great question. So what happened for us was that actually, two years ago, almost to the date, there was an incident here in Los Angeles, where a child in middle school was physically attacked and verbally assaulted on the school yard at a local public school. He was approached by, you know, a bully, and told, you know, you’re a COVID carrier, go back to China. And this child was really just perplexed and said, You know, I’m not Chinese, you know, just because he couldn’t go back. He wasn’t trying to distance himself from Chinese Americans. But he just said, like, I can’t go back, because I’m not Chinese. And when he said that, the other child punched him in the face and head 20 times. And this was all before, we had a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in LA. So just imagine that A: The racism had spread and was much more virulent than the virus itself. And to that it had infiltrated into the mind of a 12 or 13 year old to then carry out these acts of hate against another child. So we were made aware of that within a day or two of the incident, and essentially decided to, you know, of course, we’re going to work with a family and help them get their needs met. But also we decided to have a press conference with local leaders, to say you know what, we would not tolerate this type of behavior. So we had a number of local officials at our press conference and managed to get some, you know, local and national coverage. Because of that coverage. Russell and Cynthia reached out to me because they were seeing the same things in the Bay Area. And, you know, it was literally a cold call from Russell, to say, you know, should we start working on this? And thankfully, I had worked with Cynthia before when she was in Los Angeles, we were on the board of directors of a gender violence prevention group in the early 2000s. So we decided to approach the Attorney General of California, ask that, then Xavier Becerra, collect the data. And his office said, you know, that they weren’t in the business of doing that. That they relied on local law enforcement. And so we decided, well, let’s start collecting it ourselves, right, to better understand the issue. And so we set up the website. It was very basic. It was a Google form, right, and we linked the Google form to our local website. And we were really shocked that within two weeks, we got I think, almost 700 incident reports from all across the country. And that number has grown to over 10,000, in 18 months from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
My head is I’m shaking my head just a little bit, in response to the absence of there being the technological solution to, first of all, just record and track. I’m thinking as a parent, if that was my child, what’s the likelihood that I would have been able to be a part of a group of people and community to whip this up to allow others to be able to connect a similar play? I mean, so the question I want to ask is, why do you think that there has been such an underrepresentation, an under record and account of hate against the AAPI community? It sounds like you spoke to that a little bit in the Attorney General’s response. There’s no technical solution for this. But I’m curious what, how else might you describe the absence of our ability to capture these sorts of instances prior to community form of yourselves creating this?
Well, I think you’ve hit on such a critical point, which is, you can’t solve what you don’t measure, right? And so if institutions choose not to measure it, then we don’t know what’s happening. And that is most apparent to us in one key piece of the data, right? So out of 10,000+ incident reports, we know in examining them that about 90% are not crimes at all, right? And this gets us back to our sort of restorative justice type framework and our desire to work within civil law enforcement, also looking for community based solutions, and education, equity, because policing and law enforcement is not going to solve this problem. Even if you put all the resources, it’ll solve at best 10% of all the incidents, right? So I want to make that point clear, too, is that the Attorney General, even, you know, all they could do was look at hate crimes. And most of these aren’t hate crimes. So they’re not going to see it in their data anyway. And let me just say also, that the FBI mechanism is all voluntary. And I think it’s only about 60% of local law enforcement departments that share it with the FBI. It may even be that 40 plus percent don’t even collect it themselves. But what’s important is, is really what’s happening day to day in our, you know, workplace discrimination, refusal of service and retail school bullying University discrimination against student or, or student upon student. And I think the reason I think to get to your primary question, which is why don’t people report because a lot of times for our communities, they don’t trust law enforcement, right? We of course, know that from other communities of color, our African American sisters and brothers not trusting policing for obvious reasons. Latinx sisters and brothers not trusting because of immigration enforcement. And those are really the same mechanisms that work against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, right? We know too often that police have reported our community members to ICE, and then they get deported, even when they are the victims of domestic violence or other types of crimes. We know from the Atlanta shooting, that even police don’t see it, right? The law enforcement officer after the Atlanta shooting said, you know what the perpetrator just said he was having a bad day. What? Right? I mean, we just take him at his word, because he said he’s not racist. I’m sorry, that’s not how I thought it worked. I thought there was an investigation that people did. So those are just a few of the reasons people don’t report is they’re afraid for their own safety, and they’re not sure they’re going to get that, that they’re going to get a objective, thorough investigation, perhaps, to validate their experiences from law enforcement.
That makes a lot of sense. And as a Black man, I can hear each one of those factors of consideration, complete legitimacy. I was curious about any patterns that you all may have uncovered, since like you described some of the patterns that you were starting to uncover as you were collecting this, of note. The civil versus criminal was really interesting to me, you know, in my own experiences, as a person as a professional, I think that it is really easy to understand, while patterns and occurrences of criminal impact and criminal nature are those that might be able to garner a little bit more traction with respect to policy, or with respect to campaigns that are really effective because of the criminality aspect, but the civil leaves, to me, room for values, judgments to be incorporated into, you know, how serious of a challenge or threat is this to our country as a whole? I’m curious about your thoughts on that. The pattern and kind of the impact of what you’re uncovering, overwhelmingly being in the realm of civil versus criminal with respect to punitive measures or the ability to act from a policy standpoint.
In terms of our data, Josh, what we’re seeing is that verbal harassment, tops the list at about 66%. Physical assaults make up about 15, 16%, as do civil rights violations, and then online harassment is about eight to 10%. And so to answer your question, you know, this really brings up the issue of civil versus criminal, right? When I, we even look at the physical assault at about 15, 16%. Most of them still would not even be prosecuted by any DA’s office. Thankfully, there have minimal severity or magnitude. So there’s no permanent bodily injury, it’s like pushing or shoving or throwing of bottles or cans. And as I said before, you know, when 90% are just hate incidents and not crimes, then that really should inform our thinking in terms of what our needs are. And so we have advocated for a stronger civil rights infrastructure, right? If there are patterns or practices at certain grocery stores, pharmacies, ride hailing companies, right, why aren’t we going after that? And essentially, corporate practices, individuals working at companies, including, you know, higher level officials, rather than the solo individual who might commit an act of assault, right? I think it also brings up for us the issue of you know, what are the efficacy of our hate crimes laws? Like, are they actually changing future human behavior? Because one thing that does happen when you have a civil rights infrastructure, is you have forward facing laws that require not only the stopping of those practices, right, of the discrimination, as in the Denny’s Consent Decree that I worked on, but you’re having training of all the employees, you’re having making sure that there are protocols in place, so that if hate incidents happen, that there are mechanisms to address it. So that’s really what we’re going after. And let me just say, and as I end this particular answer, we’re looking at it for all communities. All marginalized communities including African American, Latinx, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ. So it’s not just simply people who identify as AAPI, but trying to build that infrastructure for all of us.
That makes a lot of sense. The little bit that I know about Stop AAPI is there’s a five pronged approach, largely serving as the lead aggregators of anti AAPI hate crimes, and then advocate for policies at the local, state and national level. And so what you were speaking to, just to help me and hopefully the audience to get some understanding of how you use data to shape policy and the resources that you’ve been able to offer, so that was a perfect segue. I was curious if there are places where you can point to more traction and more success along the plethora of things that could be done, and what the sort of momentum is looking like at this point where you see some actual progress being made, particularly from a policy and a systems perspective.
Another thing that our data has shown us is sadly, that women bear the brunt of anti AAPI hate. They make up 63% of all the individuals who report to Stop AAPI Hate. And for that reason, we’ve chosen to focus some of our policy work on addressing the experiences of women, particularly in California we have three bills that we’re going to be introducing, in fact, tomorrow. One is on the impacts of street harassment on women. And again, this is women from all communities. But we know that harassment, sexual harassment of women is essentially ubiquitous in the United States. And so we want to find public health solutions, because as Rochelle Walensky has said, racism is one of the biggest public health threats we have in America. So how can we look at street harassment in that way? Number two is public transit. What are ways that we can address safety in the public transit settings. And we know that too, just from the recent killing of Michelle Alyssa Go, in the New York subway system, that we need more protocols, we need more measures to keep women and men safe. And then lastly, civil rights legislation, especially in retail settings, where we see a lot of discrimination happening. But even outside of these, we’ve seen some traction with ethnic studies. California has enacted that in the last year, Illinois, New Jersey have recently enacted legislation to allow for the teaching or require the teaching of Asian American Studies, at least as part of one piece of the the curriculum. And we know other states are doing the same.
Manju, I’m just really, really curious about, as the beckon and the call for the rest of communities in our country, to one, acknowledge that these instances and this hate is real, it’s perverse enough and affects a significant a population of our country that more folks should be caring and find ways of being engaged. I’m curious if there are allies that you all have found now that maybe wouldn’t have existed three, four or five years ago or any any strange and just really unique sort of partnerships that have sprung up, as there’s been more of an ability across our country and an appetite and willingness to acknowledge that there’s more work to be done?
Well, I do think for many in our community, there was an awakening to, you know, with the George Floyd murder, and, you know, the Movement for Black Lives in the last decade, seeing and connecting the dots with other communities of color and seeing that our proximity is to them, and we should not move forward or really seek out white adjacency, right? I think too often for immigrants, they come to the United States and you know, they see how the game works, right? They see that white folks are at the top of the racial ladder and African Americans and Latinx communities are on the bottom, so to say, and so they say, oh, well, I want to be with the white people, right? And so I want to align with them. And so what we’re really seeing, especially with the younger generations, is really in, you know, in eschewing of that, like, no, we’re not gonna do that anymore, right? Their parents may have chosen that path and I understand that, right? I mean, Tony Morrison wrote about this in 1993, for TIME Magazine, that’s what immigrants do. They want to be, you know, at a place where they can earn money to feed their families where they can live in safe neighborhoods. And that has been where white people live and work. And so those in our community are saying, no, no, no, like, we’re not going to be part of these mechanisms of white supremacy, right, and we are instead going to work for change. And that change comes with the liberation of our sisters and brothers in other communities of color.
I’m shaking my head, again, I just, there’s obviously a very strong experience in the South, you know? I’ve been holding in this conversation, images of primary school, you know, first through sixth grade, and living in a small southern college town. And so, Mississippi is a very binary state. Demographics, black and white. And living in a college town in Mississippi meant that those that were, who were not black, and were not white, were often here because of the university, and the connection to academics for their pursuit of academics and those in their families. And it was virtually always the experience in my elementary school that those that were not black, and were not white had an option in terms of their sort of de facto group, where they would sit in the class where they would sit at lunch. And I completely understand as an adult, that out of necessity out of understanding, right, like you say that how the game was played, and centering whiteness gets you closer to those things that make life more comfortable, and better. And that was the phenomenon that I experienced as a youth growing up observing, you just did not fit into this binary black, white group in Mississippi. So that just, I don’t know if there’s anything I should say of that. But that really just it stuck with me, as you were describing that.
You see me nodding my head in affirmation. Absolutely. And, you know, what you said is exactly right, you know, that nonbinary positioning, right? And I felt it so much when I was growing up, you know, people literally saying, Well, what are you, you know, you kind of need to choose a pathway almost right. And, you know, some of it came down to socio economics. I’ll be honest, you know, that my, my parents had an option, which was, you know, because they had the financial resources. And, you know, it’s almost like what we’ve seen in in South Africa, which is, you know, there’s black, white and colored, right, and so colored folks, you know, that was a different term there than it is here, but got some privileges that Black Africans did not get. And so we were allowed. And I will give you one example, we were allowed. And I say that use that word very deliberately to live in a white neighborhood or white neighborhood, probably because what my parents did for a living, we sold our house, one of our houses to a Black family, and our neighbors were actually been angry with us, right and told my parents, and, you know, they clearly did not believe in that form of racism or any form. I mean, I have to say, really, how proud I was of them. They’re not with us today, but like that they took those stances in a way that friends and family members often did not. And I think helped to shape my own thinking of that. But yes, I think, you know, I want to be clear of that positionality. And I think, you know, Josh, tell me if you think this is true. Sometimes seeing the starkness of the racism just made it so clear for me about how race works in this country that had grown up elsewhere. I’m not sure I would have been able to see it. But in a way it was also helpful because don’t have to read between the lines or decipher or, you know, make out what a dog whistle means. They’ll just tell you what they think, right? And so I think that shaped where I wanted to go with my career, because I saw how stark it was. And it’s not any different in Los Angeles. It’s not different in Boston or North Carolina, all the places I’ve lived. But sometimes you do have to read between the lines or figure out those, you know, the code words that they use, because you know, what it really is, when you connect the dots?
Yes, all of that resonates. I have very similar experiences. I think about the impact on children. And so, you know, Manju, it sounded like, you know, one stance that you were sort of holding, is that the accelerated pace of understanding so that you can act and decide quicker for your own determination in your, in your own life, like what’s, what is the wheel that you take, in order to fit within this construct of race in America, and knowing what are the implications of decision when you have the ability to make that determination, particularly in a binary community. So I think back to my early, you know, childhood and formative years, and understanding and seeing what was visible that my white friends didn’t see as visible, it did accelerate my understanding of these are the rules, these are the benefits, and I can opt into acting on that, or I could opt out. Whereas I’m certain that my colleagues, my classmates, who were white, did not have the same clarity of the positions that they and their parents held. And so in some ways, I was given somewhat of this accelerated gift or curse of at least being able to act with my own determination upon this knowledge that I could see it was visible to me, and maybe not visible to my white classmates or my white friends.
And I would just say, ditto, to all of that. You said it so beautifully. There’s nothing I can say that that would equal that. But yes, that’s, I think, having that position and sort of being able to make out, you know, I knew that I wasn’t white, and I didn’t get all of their privileges. I also knew I wasn’t black. And I was given certain privileges that my African American friends were not given, right. Like one thing I’ve written about actually, in a few different columns I got to write for Huff Post, is that, you know, some white friends would you know, think it was okay to share their racist jokes, and other things with me, right? And so that’s how I saw it. I mean, it was very just clear, like, oh, you know, damn, like, wow, you actually think this? And I don’t know that I would have seen that had they, had I been African American. Or have they seen me as being African American, because then they would have known like, oh, that’s off limits, but for some reason they thought it wasn’t. And so I got an opening or a window, into really what was in their hearts or minds. And that’s why I say, you know, I said early on that I don’t care about changing that, because that’s a much bigger process. And I just want them to not deny me the opportunities and my people for self actualization at the end of the day.
Well, I really believe that you, through this conversation, are able to touch on all three of those types of changes. I believe that this really authentic and natural conversation that we’ve had, as listeners, and audience members partake of this podcast, will feel some invitation. And I hope that many of them will willingly take up an examination more of a conscious manner in which they determine how did at least be on the more loving more time side of the challenges that you’ve laid out for the AAPI community. So I hope that I feel like this conversation you have sharing your personal experience, who you are and your person, what that means for the work that you take up, so touching on the hearts and minds and particularly on behavior changes. I really, really appreciate on behalf of the StriveTogether network, you making that connection between a personal experience of a child, and how sad it is for a child to endure that type of bullying of physical violence at such a young age in school in LA, and how that has kind of led to the community this one way of solution orientation, creating the technical mechanisms to capture data, and then save that data, put it into action. So that we see behavior change through force, and through mandates and through education. I want to ask you, if you will deliver a challenge to those that would take up listening to this particular episode, the focus of this podcast is on change and what’s possible. And I believe that there are folks that listen, who are willing to take away like, what’s something that’s concrete, that they can just hold with them as they move throughout their days as a nugget. So I’m curious if there’s any challenge as we’re coming down the homestretch that you issue to our audience, and whether it’s those that are in government, whether those that are taking up this word, or whether it’s, you know, a parent who’s listening to this podcast while sitting in car rider line, but what’s the one, what’s the challenge that you would give our audience?
Well, I wouldn’t be a very good advocate or activist if I didn’t have several calls to action, right? And so first off, I would say, right now, you know, we have so many different opportunities to engage, whether that’s, you know, boots on the ground and getting out for protests and rallies, I think we’ve seen in the last decades or two that those can have tremendous influence on our lawmakers. And I’ve seen grandmas and grandpas and walkers and wheelchairs, and they don’t even speak English, going out to protest against anti Asian Hate, that’s one way. Number two is engaging with school boards, with city councils. We have on our website, a model resolution that every city in America should pass that says we condemn hate. And too often, we’ve seen that we’re not all on the same page with that. But we need to know who our friends are in government and who our enemies are. And that’s the first step in fighting for the real substantive change that we need on a local level. And third, I will say, we’re in what I think is a really precarious position. While we have all these opportunities, we are also seeing the potential end of the American experiment with multiracial democracy, we’ve only had it for a short time since 1965. And I think we may be on the precipice of it ending for every year since 1965. Folks have tried to make it difficult for people of color to vote. And now they are essentially willing to overturn and nullify election. So I think we see our democracy potentially dying. And I think that means we need to take it extremely seriously. You know, there, I don’t have as many concrete steps except to say, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, every election, every year, get everyone you know, to vote. You know, it’s almost like eradicating COVID, which is you can’t just get vaccinated yourself. Because that’s not going to end anything, right. In order to have you know, what they call herd immunity, we all have to be vaccinated. And because we’re not we’re seeing COVID really decimate our populations in the US that it’s not doing in many other countries. The same thing is true with democracy, right? We can’t just vote ourselves, we got to get every single auntie, uncle, grandparent cousin, and end up staying engaged, right, to stay engaged. I’ll just end, there’s a little bit of a long answer. When I’ve been to DC, I’ve seen a lot of white families in the halls of Congress, showing around their kids and saying, you know, we own this place. I think as people of color, we need to take that attitude and say, you know, what, we own this place to this is our democracy. And you better listen to us and you better do what we want. So we got to be, I think, hella demanding moving forward, if we want America to continue.
Yeah, I won’t even touch it, just yes on all it. I love it. Manju, as a Black man, as a Southerner, I just have to say how much I appreciate this opportunity to hear your experience. And for you being vulnerable, being open, and just sharing with us today. Really, really it was it was a pleasure to have you on our podcast. Thank you.
Thank you so much. It was such an honor and really a privilege and I hope this is the first of many conversations. And after COVID, would love to have lunch with you and talk more about this and so many other topics.
We’ll definitely have to take that invitation. So to our listeners, thank you for joining us today. Stay connected with us by visiting strivetogether.org where you will find transcripts of our Together for Change podcast series.