Jose Adames: Good afternoon everyone, my name is Dr. Jose Adames, I'm the president of El Centro College, so on behalf of myself and our employees I'd like to welcome you to our college. We are very pleased to be hosting this movie preview to the employees of DCCCD and our sister colleges. Now I'd like to acknowledge some special guests that are seated in the front area here – Jackie Seabrooks, former chief of Santa Monica, California police department, she'll be arriving a little bit later – she's here in the back. Our Lamar Brooks, Tony Hobbs, Reverend Gerald Britt, City Square VP of External Affairs, Ashley Wilson, City Square as well, External Affairs manager, Mark Andrew Sworjinski is also here, and we also have representatives from the district office as well that are seated in in the front, Mary Brumbach, Chief Loretta Hill, Justin Lonon, Isaac Faz, Anna Mays, Rob Wendland, Tim Marshall, Pyeper Wilkins, Shamim Crawford. Also we have fellow presidents here as well, President Sharon Davis, you don't mind standing up, Sharon? Sharon is fairly new to the district as interim president at Mountain View. Eddie Tealer also is just selected as president of Eastfield. My colleagues, Christa Slejko, of course of course, Joe Seabrooks seated in front, and two of my fellow presidents could not be here this afternoon but they are very committed to this endeavor, Thom Chesney and Kay Eggleston as well. Now it's my pleasure to introduce Dr. Joe May. Dr. May is the chancellor of the DCCCD. I'd like to acknowledge his vision and support for this effort to engage us in an open dialogue about bridging the gap between police officers, peace officers and the communities that we all live in and that they serve. Thank you.
Joe May: Dr. Adames, thank you, thank you very much, and…and thank you so much for…for hosting this very, very important event, and I want to thank all of you for…for joining us here…here today, as well as, of course, Georgeann Moss, you and the… the groups internal that helped pull this together. I know you've been working on this for some time, realizing that we really do need to have conversations together as we work toward the good of our students and the communities that we serve. So, we thank you very, very much. You know these are, these are really sobering times as we, as we think about what's going on in our country. You know, at… I mean it seems like there's no place safe anymore whether it be as we've seen in schools, here at this institution, places of work, houses of worship, and even your own home. It…it causes us to…to pause and I was…had, had the opportunity a few weeks back to…a group of us met with Mayor Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas, and we were talking about these issues and really stressing the importance that we come together as organizations, as communities, as neighborhoods, and…and talk about some of the issues. You know it seems like that we've shifted in our thinking. You know, I recall growing up where we understood that the American dream was about equity and opportunity for all, and somehow that that's gotten shifted where it means it's about me and it's about me and…and my world and becoming – if...if I can't succeed somehow without somebody else failing in the…the process, and it's become where we've once had places that we felt safe, now those no longer feel safe to…to everyone, to the communities that we're in, and so as we work together we realize that it's important for us as part of the DCCCD to engage in what I believe will be a bit of an uncomfortable discussion for some as we talk about the…the issues of race. But it's pretty hard to live today without being aware that that's not just an undercurrent, it's really become very visible and something that we see on the front pages of our papers, in our media as a daily reality. So, I appreciate those of you who…who did come here today to not only see a movie and…and…and that's an important one, but what's more important is what happens next when we engage in conversations about working collaboratively for the good of our community that we serve, but also making sure that we're supportive of each other during these times. And to help lead us I…I'm delighted to have our own Dr. Joe Seabrooks, president of Cedar Valley College. I want you to welcome him as he will be the emcee for today's event as…as we go forward. So, with that, Dr. Seabrooks, welcome.
Joe Seabrooks: Well, good afternoon. You know I have to be very honest with you and transparent. I'm…I'm quite nervous about today to be very honest with you, but I'm also excited and I'm thrilled at the same time because I think what we are going to engage upon for the next several hours takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of vulnerability, it takes the ability to be transparent, open, about your concerns, how you feel, and I really wanna take a moment to acknowledge Georgeann Moss again, I think she's somewhere, could you come here Georgeann please? So, we we would not be here if not for Georgeann's tenacity and commitment to have us have a dialogue about the things that really impact all of our students, and and if we're being honest with ourselves not only does this subject matter impact our students, it impacts all of us. So, me of us feel the the sting of contemporary events more than others but I think we all feel the hurt and we all are angry and we all are disappointed, and we thought with the infinite wisdom of the folks who pulled this together who actually have dragged drug me along this whole process is that it's probably wise, as the folks who are responsible for the success, for helping the fulfillment of dreams across seven districts, seven colleges across this district, that we need to be able to address and deal with how we think and feel ourselves, and so it's difficult to lift someone up when you're falling down, and I'll be very honest with you, I have struggled I mean my — when we came to Dallas looking for a home after I after chancellor May gave me this amazing news, it was the same day of the unfortunate events that happened at this college, and then when you see the compound nature of things, what happened with Jordan Edwards and and most recently Botham Jean, it it's overwhelming to think that — wonder if you do really matter, and as a person who walked in some of the same shoes as some of the folks who have been victimized and sometimes you don't always know if you're in the right place, well observing our chancellor, observing incredible presidents like Dr. Jose Adames and my colleagues, it's clear that I'm in the right place because it's real easy to go on with as business as usual, to act as if what's really impacting all of us is out there, but the truth of the matter is it's right here and we have to navigate on a daily basis how we choose to respond to each other, right, how we choose to react to good and bad news, financial facilities and otherwise, and oftentimes what's folded in that is how — I'll speak for myself — as how I am perceived of being of value to the institution, and it's impacted my work, I'll just tell you. I don't know if I feel as comfortable as I should in all circles, and so I'm excited about today but I'm also nervous because it's nervous when you lay it all out on the line, right? When you kinda show it all for what it is and and be able to react the way you need to, and we've chosen to make this a DCCCD event exclusively employees and not include students because quite honestly we're not quite sure how we're gonna respond. I haven't seen the film yet, I'm not quite sure how I'm gonna respond and we wanted to be able to have the space to to be who we need to be in order for us to move forward and so nervous, excited, but appreciative that we have the opportunity to not just hear more about the problem that exists but be presented with some solutions. it's my job to also forecast and warn you that there are gonna be some difficult elements of this film to navigate initially but I do believe we are confident that it will spear a dialogue that we hope that can make us more healthier, whole, reflective people as we do right by students, and so today's activities are broken up in three parts, you you will obviously see this production that I'm gonna go ahead and say it's amazing even though I haven't seen it, and then you're gonna hear from two amazing panelists who have been a part of doing the work. One is our amazing producer and director and another inpidual who I can't wait to introduce you later, and then for those of you who may need a moment we're gonna engage in some breakout sessions that are called healing circles, and I I know I'm gonna stay for that and I have not had that experience but I think we all need an opportunity to debrief, decompress and and reconnect. We are a fractured society but under Joe May's leadership we will not be a fractured district, and it's that cohesiveness, it's that collective wisdom, pooling our resources, not only the resources that are in our pockets but the resources that are in our hearts to be able to really move our society forward. I'm thrilled that you are here, I hope I covered everything I was supposed to, Georgeann, 'cause I didn't read the script, she knew I wasn't gonna read the script and so I — what I did not do she will clean up later, but thank you so much for hosting us, thank you for supporting us, thank you for your leadership and I am grateful, and with no further ado, it's showtime, showtime. Y'all doing okay? Are y'all sure? I have snot bubbles on my sleeves, I've been I've been — that was very moving and I'm and I'm I'm grateful, for the next 45 minutes or so, and again recognize that folks may can't commit to the entire program and and if you can't, you know no one will see that as a a sign of disrespect, but if you want to gain some more insight from the creator and director of the this incredible moving film please please hang out with us, and then joining him is Mr. Antoine Joyce who who is a leader from our community here in Dallas who works with an organization called All Stars Project and they have some unique experiences that I think are relevant to help us move forward on the idea of love being the answer, and so I think it's probably best that I give you the opportunity to to introduce yourself and share your journey and then I'm I'm gonna try to keep my eye out for the Slido or question, if you have questions go to Slido — you all know how that works right? There it is, and so please submit submit your questions and then we'll continue to move forward. So, with that would you mind kicking us off Mr. A.J.? Great great.
A.J. Ali: Thank you. Can everybody hear me okay? All right great, I want to start out just by thanking Georgeann and all the hard work that she's done for many months to make this day happen and for everyone who's been involved in that process, thank you very much, it's an honor to come here and be with you. want to recognize my wife Jane who keeps me together. I I'm a veteran, I tell people she's my emotional support wife, and and a special just hello again to retired chief Jackie Seabrooks who was the chief in Santa Monica when we were making this film and she really was there for us and just helped us in ways that she can't even imagine because of the way that she ran that department and the community policing that took place there, just gave us a good barometer you know as to how we needed to do our job with this film to be sensitive to the needs of all sides of the community. So, this has been a journey making this film and and it started in 2012 when I was harassed and profiled and then harassed in my own neighborhood for going for a walk, and here we are six years later and this film is being seen all over the country and and healing in many communities because people are taking it to heart, 'cause we didn't come at it just from one side of the equation, we tried to tackle this issue from a 360 degree perspective, I I've not been this nervous since our world premiere in Santa Monica because I know how important healing is to this community and I want to tell you that our entire crew has been praying for Dallas for two years, so I'm deeply appreciative of the time to to be here with you today and I hope I hope we did you justice with this film and you know we just want to be of service to to all of you, so thank you.
Antoine Joyce: Okay we decided to talk shorter than our than originally planned on the thing, so just to set the stage for who I am and and why I'm talking to all of you, so thank you for making the movie again, thank you to all of you for wanting to have this conversation, particularly thank you again Dr. May for inviting us and All Stars Project, we're a national organization, again 37 years old in New York City and our expertise is in bridging communities. We started out working in the poor communities of New York City and bringing families, young people and their their parents together with white affluent business people, bringing them to talent shows in my area of Bedstuy and Brownsville, Brooklyn, and as we exploded throughout New York City we've now went to Newark, New Jersey, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, North Carolina, and I came here in Dallas in 2013, so we build talent shows in poor communities here in west Dallas, south Oak Cliff, south Dallas, and we also have leadership programs that young people would learn how to perform in professional settings, resume writing, public speaking and paid internships. But our one of our biggest programs that that connect to this is my founder, Dr. Lenora Fulani, created a program called Operation Conversation, Cops and Kids, where after the shooting of Sean Bell in 2005 we wanted to bring police officers and communities together. I was talking to her today and she was reminding me, two of the most hated communities are our black teens and our police officers, and every day they have to be face to face with each other with no mediation, with no one separating them, how do they deal with that relationship? So, the young men said in in the movie, communication, how do we create new types of relationships with each other that foster something else that each side owns, not what someone's created for here, not what was created for here, but what can we create that we own together. So, that's what I've been doing for the last 27 years of my life, I grew up in the All Stars, I used to be someone who hated police officers, I don't think publicly I've ever said that before but as you mentioned, I was stopped when I was a teen for no reasons and never understood that, but when you're growing up in poor communities it's the norm. Actually it it becomes a badge of honor, all right, you got stopped by the police and you survived, you got a story to tell and you go back to your friends in the projects and you tell them how you were stopped and yo son, man, man stupid ass cop man, did that man, you know what I'm sayin', I told him, and you start bragging about how you told the police off, right? It wasn't until I started building my talent shows, working with other people, that I stopped hating everybody. I didn't even know I had hate inside of me but I hated white people, I hated police officers, I hated being poor, I hated that my mom had a struggle to feed four boys over food stamps and going to the embarrassment of that, I hated my school, hated everything. I had to build more of my life so that I couldn't hate, so I can grow and have things to give other people. So, that's that's when things changed for me and so what I do in Dallas is I help young people create their lives so they can have more so they have more to look forward to, less things to hate in their lives, and build partnerships with all of you. So, again I thank you for having this conversation and I look forward to to circles later and more dialogue.
Joe Seabrooks: Great, now as you all have your instructions for the Slido questions I do have a couple of prescribed questions that I'll go ahead and throw out if that's okay. I'm curious to know this thing, you both reference social justice and and and and I'm thinking not only how long have you been involved in this work but but what has been the impact, can you give us some some some evidence of how your work has made an impact on people's lives?
Antoine Joyce: So, yeah let's let's start let's start with the talent shows, right? It seems very simple 'cause it is. Young people are performing onstage, they sing, they dance, they rap, I like to say rap like with a — they rap, and they say some things on stage that make you cringe. I used to be the kid onstage that made you cringe, right? And what happened for me again was there was people like you in the audience of different colors, different races, different political backgrounds, who applauded for me. I just came offstage gyrating, talking about what I'm gonna do later, yeah, and doing all this sexy talk maybe or my cousin was like yeah, shoot 'em up bang bang, right, we never shot a gun in our lives. We was you know, and people was like, yay, it's it's weird right? 'Cause like supporting somebody's creativity onstage, it gave us the outlet to be creative in our lives. We didn't have to then really act those things out in our daily lives, we could go to school and be like hey, I like I like the math teacher, she's cool, yeah yeah you know, and then go I'm gonna write this hardcore rap son, you know what I'm saying, it's gonna be the hardest rap you ever heard son. So, so that's that's the secret source to to what the work that we're doing. Bring people together, create an environment where everyone can be supportive of each other, and then it creates dialogue. So, the dialogue that it created for me was that I was working with white people, they were producing a hip hop talent show, it was kinda very foreign to me that white people were interested in hip hop, and then I learned that some of our white friends and and oldest mentors actually knew more about hip hop than I did and one of my bosses at the time sent me something in the "New York Times," I'm a black kid from Brooklyn, I never read the "New York Times." So, I read this article in "New York Times," I'm going hey, where can I get more stuff like this at? Oh so now I'm introduced to more things. So, what I'm saying here is the world just opened up for me, this kid from Brooklyn, I used to go 15 blocks to the projects, 15 blocks back to my place, now I know about the "New York Times," and now I know this other white guy who knows about hip hop and he works in a law firm, and I call this guy at a law firm, okay hey, can we have another conversation about hip hop? And then tell me about this law firm, tell me about your life, and then he goes, hey Antoine, you wanna come to a house party? My first time in a in a penthouse suite was on the sixteenth floor in New York City, my friend Joe invited me for a Super Bowl party, I'd never been to a Super Bowl party before and I'm now hanging out with his all his white friends and we're just eating chips and dip and I'm like yeah, I like chips and dip, I'm like you got sour cream and onion? Yeah right over there. Ah come on Joe, really? Sour cream — like Joe, come on, I didn't know white guy boy like Joe liked sour cream and onion and dip. So, again this this hatred towards people just started going away, so it kinda started taking a turn you know, taking a turn with police officers as well because I had more going for me to the point where I remember leaving the All Stars headquarters once and my friend he got stopped, he got taken away, and I said, I know where the court is at, I'm gonna meet you there, and I talked to the D.A. and I said hey — or his public defender, I said we build the community you know activist organization, we do talent shows together and he's the volunteer captain and we're going to do outreach in communities, this is his business card, this is a flyer of what we do, this is him on the flyer. The judge like, oh, let him go. I never had that experience before that I actually had power in this setting, and so that's kinda the work that we do. We're giving young people new ways of being in the world, new power that they can take out and build their lives with. So, I'll stop there, so many stories I could tell but that's one.
Joe Seabrooks: Let me ask — you have a response?
A.J. Ali: I'm gonna say, he came from the birth of hip hop from from that place right?
Joe Seabrooks: Yeah, Bronx right?
A.J. Ali: Can you do a little something, little Sugarhill Gang man?
Joe Seabrooks: We'll save that for after this.
A.J. Ali: Hip hop, hippity da hippity hip hip.
A.J. Ali: I bet anybody in here could finish that. my start in in social justice, I'm I'm 55, about I don't know, four or five years ago, I realized that I didn't I didn't start in my 40s or my 30s or my 20s or my teens, I actually started this journey as a young child at home with my mother and father. it's not a happy story unfortunately but God turns sadness into powerful positive things sometimes, right? So, my father was very successful in business but he was not so successful around the house. He was an alcoholic, he beat my mom on a regular basis, he tried to kill her a couple times, and I would make these raps and songs and one man plays and anything I could do to put a smile on my mom's face the next day you know, and that became a mission for me you know. Father coming home late, drunk, beating my mom, waking us all up, we're scared to death, we're all afraid of dying that night, my mom crying, everybody somehow going to sleep, waking up the next morning, and then you know scribbling out my little notes you know about whatever story I wanted to tell my mom to make her happy again, and that was my start of my journey to be a storyteller and I formalized that later when I joined the Air Force and and they trained me to become a a journalist, a public affairs person, and from there I've done television, film, music and print for more than 30 years. But doing this project made me reflect back on, well why did I become interested in in telling a story that that had to do with changing someone's life, making a difference in someone's life and it was that, so.
Joe Seabrooks: Thank you, thank you. Question for the audience, could you please go through the acronym of L.O.V.E. again and could you and what advice do you have for all of us who who are in a variety of different leadership positions, different places in the in the institution, to begin to have a dialogue about how to bring us closer together as a as a robust academe?
A.J. Ali: Sure, I'm very very happy to do that. So, love is the answer, as it says in the film that that that subtitle, love is the answer you know came to me on a on a beach in Hawaii after I'd been on a on a personal journey, a walkabout if you will, been to all 50 states in 101 days and I'm sitting there and I was reflecting on on life and you know God just kinda whispered in my heart, hey, if you want to tell a story about police and community you gotta find a way to let go of all that stuff that you've been carrying around, all that baggage, because it's not gonna it's not gonna tell a story that's gonna mean anything, you gotta do it with love and this love is the answer acronym came, whereas the L is to learn, to open your your mind. At first I thought – before I get into the details, I thought I was making this acronym for the police so that they could do their jobs better, so that they could not profile people or hurt people and all of that, but it hit me that these 4 letters, these L-O-V-E and and the meaning behind them are really for everyone and especially for me, because I had to go through this process as as well. So, to learn, to learn about the people that you serve, the people that you work with, the people who are in your family, the people who don't look like you, the people who annoy you, all the people who are in your community, take a moment to learn about them. What makes them tick? Maybe they're the way they are because they've had a lot of bad days or a lot of bad years or a lot of bad experiences or maybe they just don't have someone to tell them I love you, you mean something to me you know, and so taking that that information in will give you a clearer picture of what they're all about. The O — and I had to do that with the police, I really had to dig down and figure out okay, what makes them tick? Why are they the way they are? And then I realized, oh my friend, Melvin Russell, he he's one of the coolest dudes I know on the planet and he's a cop, he's a police chief, so okay, maybe they're not all bad. Open your heart to their needs, that's the O, and some of you might've had to have done that with a student or two, right? To get past the the learn part and let that trickle down into your heart so that you can have empathy for what someone has been through to see things their way. major there's a major in the Howard county police department where all this started for me, Luther Johnson, after he saw the film we sat down in his office the next day and we had a really great talk and he he drew a picture of a six and he put it on the table and he said, what does that look like to you? And he had the six facing his way, and I said, well it looks like a nine, and he said, well to me it looks like a six, and we were both right because of the perspective, right? So, we it was a little exercise to say hey, we can see things differently or we can see things the same, you know that something that is between us is maybe not something that's separating us, it's looking at it from different ways, and so the that's where the empathy comes in, where you open things up to your heart, that's where you can feel things differently that you that you have learned and you can take things deeper in a relationship. What do you do with that? What do you do with that, with with your mind knowledge and your heart knowledge? It only matters if you then volunteer — that's the V, volunteer yourself to be part of the solution, right. In the '60s what'd they say? If you're not part of the solution you're —
Audience: Part of the problem.
A.J. Ali: Right, so we'd rather be part of the solution, right? So, but we have to do something like we have to vote for example if we don't like the way things are in the political scene, we have to vote people out of office and vote people into office that we want. We have to take action, and so volunteer yourself to be part of the solution in someone's life, take that mind knowledge, that heart knowledge, and do something about it, and the final step is is the E to empower others to do the same, which is what we're gonna ask you to do when you leave this room, to go out and tell your coworkers, your friends, family members and others that you come in contact with, hey, we gotta do this thing together. Here's what I learned today, here's what I experienced today, let's do something to together to to heal our community, to make things better. So, those things are easy but not so easy, right? They're four simple steps that you gotta do in order to create some really positive powerful change, and I I just invite you to do that as an exercise. The next time you have a difficulty with someone, just take a step back. Jane has to do that with me all the time, she'll take a deep breath you know, and then then she'll empathize and then she'll volunteer to be part of the solution in my life you know.
Joe Seabrooks: And then you do what you're told.
A.J. Ali: That's right that's right that's right.
Joe Seabrooks: There there there are a lot of compelling questions and many of them, chancellor, are actually really are DCCCD centric and I hate to pose questions that you wouldn't have answers too, so I do think that we have an opportunity to follow up in our in our sphere. but let me ask a question that is I think is is a difficult one to respond to but I think we all can learn from.
Joe Seabrooks: Here it comes, so so healing as articulated in the film is a is a multi-step process and anger is indeed part of that process. Yet, in our workplaces, it's often our fear and our anger is often police, in some cases, racially coded. What advice do you have for a person who is anger angry and trying to process that anger but have to come to work every day to to be a good example for the students we serve?
Antoine Joyce: Be angry. So, I.. I... I... — oh here we go, all right. We can't pretend that anger doesn't exist, so what what what I actually appreciate about you Joe, when you started this when you came up on stage you said, can I be honest? I'm uncomfortable today, this is uncomfortable for me, right? If we can't start there then — and we can't say willingly and openly to people that there's something heavy on on my heart right now, on my mind, then all that anger bottles up. That that you know and sometimes I hate bringing up 7-7, but that's what 7-7 was produced of. It's the bottling up-ness of thousands of people in this city being angry and pissed off and having nowhere to say that they're angry, and many people say, don't be angry, just go on with your lives. We can't go on with our lives, it's impossible to just go on with your life if if you don't have a place to express you know that this tragic thing has happened across the country for four years you know recently, I'm not saying like you know the film went back to even '90s and even further than that, right, and we're supposed to wake up the next day and teach our students, you know kiss your kids and hope that they come home safe? Right, you you gotta share that. So, so the work I do with my young people, before we even do a workshop and we're going to Bank of America or so forth and something happens, I I talk to them, like hey, this has nothing to do with the workshop, we're about to learn – we're about to go to to learn about law. Well actually that has something to do, right, you know but we're gonna learn about the the in and outs of your law firm and this nice guy is gonna show you something, but can I be honest that I'm afraid for all of you today? You know, when there's shootings in schools and there's another young man was shot in his home, what I want to know what y'all think about that, I need to know what y'all think about that because I can't live my life being afraid for you and being afraid for what could happen when we walk out of this door. So, you gotta you gotta gotta hold that anger and you gotta tell people that I'm angry. The flip side of that is that we gotta create the environment, so this is the hard part, where that people can respond and say, I hear you, I hear your anger, and be empathetic. That's what our program, Cops and Kids, does. So, we get officers in a room with young people, the officers are purposely dressed up in their uniforms with their guns on their hips purposefully and they sit in a circle and the circle is close. We got the kids sitting next to the officer like this and we create these performance games where — or work activities as we like to say — where they have to do silly things with each other. Both the police and both the kids hate it, I don't wanna be silly, like I'm wearing a uniform, like the uniform promotes seriousness you know, authority, you need to comply as as somebody said, right? I can't be silly. The young men, y'all from the hood yo, we don't we don't play games in the hood yo. I ain't trying to laugh with no white officer man, I'm too cool for that. I got my new J's on. But 10 minutes later they're both laughing, that was funny you know. They're laughing with each other. So, then you sit in front of each other and you ask them, and I remember watching this. So, the prompt is, so what's the hardest thing about your day, and the officer says, I I was I'm married two years now, I just had my first baby and my wife always asks me – always says, can you be safe? I want you to come home to our daughter, and that's the hardest moment of my day every single day. The job of the young person is to be empathetic, not to respond, oh I didn't know you had a kid, just I hear you, that must be hard having a child and and doing that work and not knowing if you're gonna come home. So, then we ask the young person, what's the hardest day of your day? My mom always tells me to be safe, she wants me to come home. Having them share that moment together creates something so the next time they're out there and they see each other that guy wants to go home just as much as I wanna go home too. How do we create a situation right now where we both can go home? That's all we wanna do right now is go home. So, —
A.J. Ali: So, the work that you guys are doing in that space , you mention you don't want to have that hate bottled up and so you're you're you're freeing people up to to share those feelings, right, and one thing that I was thinking of when you were talking is that, Bible says in your anger do not sin, it doesn't say don't be angry, 'cause being angry is a human feeling. If if something is not going right and there's some things going against you you're going to feel a certain way, right, so to be able to process those feelings and to be able to do it in a setting like the one you guys provide is really powerful. Yeah.
Antoine Joyce: And and one thing, before I forget, you mentioned again social justice work, also I don't want people to also think that social justice work only means that I have to be out there marching all the time. March sometimes, I'm not saying don't march, I like I like to go out and march, but it doesn't mean – that doesn't mean you have to be on the news and be in the front and and slamming tables or you know, social justice work is kinda what you say. Like can you volunteer someone's life and empower them to do the same with somebody else? Can you be for something? So,metimes we're too much against something, we're against police brutality, we're against black lives matter, we're against this. Can we be for the community? Can I be for all of you you know? So, that that's that's also what changed my life is when I realized I can be for just living and being prosperous and having a good life and do that well without being against every single thing, 'cause that's also what produces the anger. We hold on being against something. I don't like this color of bottle, don't you give me a green bottle, I want this blue bottle, don't you give don't you give me a green bottle AJ, you know. Can I be for bottles? I just want a bottle. Silly analogy but it makes sense in my head, trust me.
Joe Seabrooks: We we have time for a few more questions and I'm gonna try to get to this one. So, so do you believe our current political climate has exacerbated the challenges that we see, and if so how how can we in this environment best effectively educate the importance of love and learn from each other over all?
A.J. Ali: Want me to answer that?
Antoine Joyce: Yeah you can start it.
A.J. Ali: Yeah okay, 'cause I don't have to see these people tomorrow, you do. So, I'm gonna take this. yeah yeah the the current political climate is causing people to get killed. we have a man in the White House right now who in my opinion is not doing this country a good service in terms of reconciliation. We've got a pider in chief and there's a lot of people who are responding to what he is saying and unfortunately there's some people in Pittsburgh who are mourning the loss of their loved ones today and I believe that we have a responsibility as leaders to make things better, not worse, and so the political climate today is is suffering from poor leadership, from a man who is doing his best to pide, and I'm not saying that from from AJ Ali, he has he has said that, that he is seeking to pide whenever possible and we need to stand up and fight against that because that is not who we are. United States of America is the United States of America, not the pided states of America.
Antoine Joyce: So, I don't put it all on Trump, so my experience of growing up is the democrats and the republicans and our political parties have always been pisive, I don't care what president you could think of, so I mean — I was born in '77 so since since you know my my first president is what, Reagan, right, that I can remember? And all I remember is what I thought democrats were, democrats were the poor, and republicans for the rich, that's what I thought so it was pisive since I was born in my lens. So, even when I watch the the the ads today you know, there's you know this person is wrong for Texas, don't vote for him, it's all pisive language so I don't put that all on him. Unfortunately we're in an era where this speaks louder and travels faster, right? We we we see it more. So, what I think we have to do, again and I go back to this all the time, is we have to build something that we're all for, just period, right. This republican, democrat, libertarian, this that that, can we be for communities, can we be for west Dallas, can we be for south Dallas, can we be for Highland Hills, Highland Park, can we be for all those communities together? If we all start working towards that I don't really care what anybody says on his Twitter, right, because I'm working towards building connections with the people right in front of me so I can't I can't I can't speak for him and the overall political environment. What I can speak for is what I can do right now, I can walk out this door with five of you and go into a community and build something beautiful with a bunch of young people, I can do that right now, you can do that right now. So, is the political climate keeping it pisive or are we feeding into the pisiveness ourselves and keeping it pided? Do we believe do we believe our country's pided? If you believe like you said, if we believe that this is the United States of America, well let's unite damn it, let's let's get in there, right.
A.J. Ali: And we've got folks you know who are democrats, republicans and whatever else working with us around the country just like you've got in your program, right?
Antoine Joyce: Correct.
A.J. Ali: And at the end of the day no one cares about that, let's get the job done, let's take care of our families, let's take care of our communities. I mean sure, there's gonna be some differences but you know not — we need to get past all the craziness, maybe we just need to turn the news off for like a year and just and just be together and live together you know, just do the work together.
Antoine Joyce: My board chair, Hunter Hunt, is one of the wealthiest men in this city and he knows it and when me and Hunter connected, what Hunter would talk about is that he, as a white man in a wealthy family, has been secluded all his life as well just as much, we talk about poor young people being secluded, you know being poor keeps you isolated, right? Keeps you you know, I talk to my kids and I say what do you need in your life? And they say everything I need is in Oak Cliff, I'm like that can't be possible. You don't go to the mall or anything like that at NorthPark? No, why? 'Cause there ain't nothing there for them. But Hunter was saying the flip side, why does he go to Oak Cliff? He doesn't, there's nothing there for him. So he's been around white wealthy people all his life and the only black people he interacted with were either serving him at dinner or something of that sort until he came to a talent show in Brooklyn. So, again you know, I... I... He never told me but I'm sure he's a republican, I'm an independent, we work together for our young people, for their families, for their education, for their development in their lives. That's what we talk about, that's what we do.
Joe Seabrooks: Well I I think we're getting close to the end of this segment and we definitely appreciate your insight. Want to leave if you can answer one question before we wrap this up. You know dialogue has has been a constant around these issues and so we are accustomed to dialogue, can you offer us some tangible suggestions or recommendations on how we as a the largest educational institution in this community move from dialogue to to action?
A.J. Ali: Can I give one example and then you give another? Okay, so we're encouraging people to do five minute films, short films. People ask me all the time, are you gonna do a sequel? I'm like no man, I'm trying to get a romantic comedy done now 'cause I need to laugh every day. So, I'm hosting a wellness game show as well, so you know trying to keep things lighthearted. So, what I'm asking people to do is get a cop and a kid together as a co-director, co-producer, y'all ready for this? 'Cause I'm gonna call on you, and and get a team of people around you, five, 10, 15, 20 people, and each – actually each college could do this, right, and work with high schools in your communities to do the same thing and make a five-minute film showing good stuff, things that you're doing together in the community that are that are making a difference. You know maybe one group is is building a community garden or organic garden, eat organic food, eat organic food, and so that the young people can then have that as their place of learning, right, but know that the police and the rest of the community made that garden together, and then put that on film and then show that on Youtube and Facebook and let that go viral you know. Make five-minute films about silly things or important things or whatever, just tell what you think love is the answer means to you in a little five-minute film. Save me the trouble of making a sequel, 'cause I don't wanna make a sequel to this. I wanna see 10,000 sequels starting with the people in this room, and that's something that anyone can do, you don't need camera equipment, you just need an iPhone.
Antoine Joyce: Android.
A.J. Ali: iPhone, that's all you need, all you need.
Antoine Joyce: See the difference? So, one, I will you know plug of course, I would love for you to all get involved in our work with the All Stars Project, so you can go to our website very easy — allstars.org — come out and support kids at the talent shows. I actually Joe, I want to do one here you know, say Dr. Adames, I wanna do one here. So, just to let you all know. Be a be a mentor to our students, so every semester we do mock job interviews with our young people, they they don't know how to interview, for many of them they're gonna have their first job this upcoming summer. So that's ways to get involved directly with the All Stars, but sort of to what he's saying, I was thinking is you know each one of you go out and learn about the city. Dallas is a great city, I'm you know I'm a New York guy, I'll always be a New Yorker, I'm a Brooklyn boy, love being from Brooklyn, but I fell in love with Dallas because I've explored every inch of this city and it always breaks my heart when I'm working with a young volunteer, black man who said you know I've I've never been to the DMA before and I grew up in Oak Cliff until I did an All Stars workshop. How are you 32 years old, never been to a free institution that's there every day, right? You know, I don't know when it was built but it's there every day. So go explore the this great city and bring somebody who you normally would not do that with, bring them with you and find something new about each other, all right? We we're very it's very easy to just do that with somebody that you know. I'm black, you're black, we gotta share the same experiences, come on with me girl. No, right you know, bring that person that annoys you the most and be like Tim, me and you going to the museum, we going all right? And you and Tim have some fun together. So that's how we keep building the community, we gotta create, build, create and build new things.
A.J. Ali: Can I share one more thing?
Joe Seabrooks: Sure.
A.J. Ali: Okay, so there's another thing that we that we're promoting and that's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and a movie, and what we're asking you to do is just go to our website — walkingwhileblack.com — rent the film for three days, invite some friends over from your neighborhood and some people that you don't know from your neighborhood, invite your neighbors who don't look like you to your house for dinner and then invite a police officer as well, that's the guess who, not Sidney Poitier but your local cop, and invite that person and watch the film, have dinner and have a discussion and see what happens.
Joe Seabrooks: Great suggestions. Well gentlemen, thank you very much for your perspectives, your honesty, as we transition, and again I apologize, there were some incredible questions that I I got a feeling that you would not be happy with me if I tried to get them all answered in one swoop, but I want to end by by just thanking you all so very much.