I want to suggest that there's a communication problem and there are two things that are happening. Number one: it's just very, very hard for white people to hear the pain of the subjugated people in this country.
So we live together in these bubbles that touch, and we call that diversity, but we don't know each other. And when that bubble breaks for just a second and we're face to face with each other, it's very, very hard to hear that reality.
But white supremacy, to use the provocative term, will reinterpret that experience for you; and make it not be about your inability to hear, but be about other people's inability to speak. This is one of the most remarkable things: if you can get this, all doors open. There is the assumption - this is deep, this is deep - there is the assumption that when there’s a breakdown in communication between people of color and white people, that there is an deficiency but that the deficiency is not in white listening, that the deficiency is in black speech. "Why are they so angry?" People start critiquing, and then you find somebody who keeps themselves together just for a little bit and it's, "Oh that one's very eloquent, that one’'s very articulate." Right? Always the assumption is that the deficiency lies with the people of color. "Why don't they care about the environment? What wrong with them, don't they see the big picture? ... What's wrong with them? Maybe they are just too poor or busy, because certainly there is nothing wrong with our speech!"
If it was just that you could show up and be heroic and save the polar bears that would be a boring ass movie. That's not the movie! You show up to be the hero and you discover just like Luke Skywalker, "Wait a minute, the dark side is in me! Wait a minute; my father is the originator of many of the problems that I am now trying to solve. Wait a minute, I can't just fight now the war monger without, the polluter without, the incarcerator without, the clear cutter without - I've got to fight the war monger within. I've got to fight the polluter within."
People are always talking about their comfort zones, you ever heard that expression: "this is outside of my comfort zone"? Grow your goddamn comfort zone then, okay? 'Cause we are running out of time.
I've sat with all these people who we think are in charge, and they don't know what to do. Take that in: they don't know what to do! You think you're scared? You think you're terrified? They have the Pentagon's intelligence, they have every major corporation's input; Shell Oil that has done this survey and study around the peak oil problem. You think we've got to get on the Internet and say, "Peak oil!" because the system doesn't know about it? They know, and they don't know what to do. And they are terrified that if they do anything they'll lose their positions. So they keep juggling chickens and chainsaws and hope it works out just like most of us everyday at work.
There's a pathway back to community that we have to walk. I have to give up something, I have to give up my right to be mad at white folks, 'cause that's not going to make a difference for my child. But white people have to give up something too, which is their right to stay ignorant about all of this. You have a perfect right to be ignorant about all of this and you'll be great people, honestly. You could lead big environmental organizations, you could lead spirituality retreats, you could do all kinds of stuff and you will get cookies and congratulations and people will cry at your funeral. You have a perfect right to not care about any of this. There just won't be any human family left.
Via Gristmill. More on Van Jones and eco-apartheid. You can also watch him speak, short: