In a candid conversation with Kweku Mandela, grandson of the legendary Nelson Mandela, along with Mr. Jeff Dess, author of Deconstructing Ratchet and James McCrae, author of S#it Your Ego Says, Jake Sasseville, a white male, of The Jake Sasseville Show, had one of the most open conversations about race relations in America today. Sasseville clearly explained why white Americans need to first acknowledge their privilege in order for real change to take place. “What can really be done about it today?” he asked. “Not tomorrow, not at an institutional level or a governmental level. Not making it a political issue, but how do we deal with the hatred that has been bred, that’s inside of all of us, and how do we start to deal with it? Today, race and racism. It’s a two-party equation and it’s time for white people to look at their own ignorance and prejudice, admit it and start to deal with it.” He later added, “This is the thing about race in America — we’re not allowed to speak about it openly. And it’s time that we start.”
The podcast host later went on to bravely confess, “When I was 18 years old and living out in New York City, I remember being out with one of my closest friends, Reza Salazar,” he shared. “Reza is an actor, and he’s appeared in sitcoms, dramas, films and on stage. He’s originally from Peru and Argentina. After one particularly ignorant comment I made when I was 18, Reza stopped and looked at me and he asked me “Jake, do you see color?” And baffled, I said, “Of course I don’t see color.” And he grabbed my arm and put it next to his, and he says, “You don’t see color?” I said, “No, I don’t see color! Everybody’s equal, everybody’s the same!” And he said, “But you don’t see that my skin is actually darker than yours…” And that was the first time that I started to confront my own ignorance, around race and our differences. And this is the problem with white people. We pretend we’re unity for all and we don’t see color, and that we just need to come together and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ When, in fact, we have to acknowledge that we do see color and we do see differences. The differences aren’t the issue, it’s the unwillingness to acknowledge that we see the differences or experience the cultural differences, that becomes the issue.”
Kweku Mandela shared one of his many experiences with racism and the hatred he felt toward a fellow schoolmate who was overtly racist towards him while studying in the US. While the young man’s comments led to him being expelled, the expulsion was revoked when Mandela asked that the school not punish him due to an upcoming interview that would help him get into the high school of his choice.
It was in that moment Mandela realized that an act of kindness, rather than anger, was a simple formula to help bridge the gap between him and his peer. But, of course, it wasn’t the solution to all the existing problems in society then and now. “Until we can relate to something, we tend to either sheer it or discard it out of ignorance,” said Mandela.
This was one of the most honest dialogues about race, white privilege and why white Americans must first be held responsible for changing the country’s landscape. This informative discourse is definitely a conversation you don’t want to miss.
Listen to the full interview below.
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