Voice: Soul Watson

Soul Watson is a journalist at Free Speech TV, where he does a national show on progressive issues. He lived in Africa for 10 years. His father, Lauren Watson, was founder of the Denver chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s.

“America has all of the resources to make this a reality. It just doesn’t have the political will. There are too many people who have a vested interested in keeping separate those of us who have more in common than we have different.”

I know that Colorado likes to pride itself on being a very progressive state, both politically and socially. But I think your numbers really give a much different picture, and a much needed picture, to the reality on the ground and how these particular issues really are begging to be addressed.

Soul Watson

Soul Watson

Those are numbers to you, but to me those are family members, those are friends, those are relatives, those are community members. Even within the progressive community here in Colorado, race is such a taboo conversation. Race is far behind what people would feel like is important to talk about, which would be the economy, or the environment, especially in Colorado, the environment, energy issues.

However, the numbers that you’ve come up with require that people stand up and take accountability.

African Americans only represent 10 percent of the city’s population. So many politicians and organizations get away with not having to address it at all. There’s nothing compelling them to do it. They don’t feel like the inner cities are going to be burned up. They don’t feel like there are going to repercussions to ignoring this conversation.

One of the things I’ll speak to you very candidly about (is) the concept of race and its use as a weapon in order to divide people. Many people are unwilling to let go of seeing themselves as minorities. Many of the organizations and their funding are based upon the fact that they are minority, that there are problems and that it is based upon race. But I see it very differently than that. As long as we’re using the concepts and the ideas of an antiquated system, i.e. race, then many of these things are going to perpetuate themselves. Victims don’t realize as long as they continue to define themselves the same way that their victimizers define them, the problem is going to persist.

It’s important for us to understand that race is a social construct, not a scientific construct. There is no such thing as a white person, or a black person. These are people and what affects their lives is that other people see them as different people. And because you see them as different people you can treat them differently than you would treat yourselves. So the problem is the definitions we’re using. When you say how should they describe themselves, they should describe themselves as Americans.

Racist policies are inside of the institutions of America itself. And until we start addressing that, until white people, and brown people and black people, and these people all say let’s address this as Americans – nothing changes.

Policies are created in the mind. They can be policies based on fear, or they can be policies based upon truth. The truth which scientists have proven to us is that there no such thing as race. But that is not what our polices are based upon, and until our policies are based upon the reality that there is no such thing as race, and there’s just different cultures and that’s what makes America great, all cultures are valued equally, then these statistics are going to continue to perpetuate themselves.

What conversations do we need to have in order to bring us together and unite us so that someone with pink skin has as much interest and as much concern for someone who has brown skin? Or whether a brown-skin child is being educated or not? Or whether a brown- skin child is eating as much as other children are? That’s where the conversation has to come from. And be very clear, I’m not blaming this on quote-unquote white people. This is a conversation that really initially needs to start inside the brown community. But a lot of people, especially people who went through the ‘60s and ‘70s, have a vested interest, because now they have grants and positions and titles being opposed to the system. So if the system is changed, what happens to these grants? What happens to their positions of power?

Someone described it to me this way: What do you think would happen if a cure for cancer was found tomorrow? How many millions and billions of dollars are tied up in non-profit organizations and things of this nature that actually feed off the fact that this disease exists? Racism is a disease and there are many organizations, both brown and white, that get fed off that system.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s you saw a plethora of African American studies, of Chicano studies, on campuses and inner cities throughout the country. People were being more educated, they were seeing themselves inside of the American dialogue, so the work of the ‘60s and ‘70s really made the power structure begin to have this conversation. But a lot of those people have gotten government jobs, a lot of those people have passed away, so the forces that we have slowly rolled back those gains that were made, and now you see those issues pop up again.

What we’re talking about is a re-education of society on such a fundamental level that I understand that what I’m saying seems extremely revolutionary, but it’s been done in this country before. FDR and the social programs that he implemented were conversations that really changed the direction of America. The conversations, I mean America has all of the resources to make this a reality. It just doesn’t have the political will. There are too many people who have a vested interested in keeping those of us who have more in common than we have different separate.

If you look at the NAACP, if you look at the Urban League, these are organizations that are, this may sound harsh, they’re crybabies by design. They were designed that way. And that’s why about three or four years ago, you heard Obama strongly rebuke the NAACP because they were crying about that he hadn’t come and talked to them, or he hadn’t created some type of special something for (them) and he rebuked them for that, but that’s why those organizations were made. They’re founded upon being a victim. So they behaved with a brown president the same way they would have behaved with a pink president, except they probably cried a little louder with a brown president because they feel like this is someone who will really get into our victim story and Obama just had no listening for that.

Because I am an African American, I have seen what these social programs have made as far as generational dependence on the system and it has injured them in quite a few ways. So they see themselves as perpetual victims.

I would like to see higher taxes for the one percent and we have to be very clear as far as where these monies are going. The money should go to education. We have to start with the kids. I mean many of these (people) are not going to let go of these ideas. They’re just not. It goes to the quote it’s much easier to educate a child then to fix an adult. You have to focus on the next generation of children that are coming up.

I’ve been in countries where children are being educated out underneath a tree and the greater part of the class is extremely literate and go on to university level. So, I mean, we don’t want them in dilapidated buildings but what I’m saying is what needs to be reinstituted inside of the schools is a much better idea.

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