I listened to a Russell Brand podcast with guest Candace Owens. Do you know who she is?
I stay out of the news for the most part, so I had never heard of her prior to, and to the best of my understanding, it seems she believes that black people are no longer oppressed (she is black), and that the real oppression that exists is the story of victimhood that we as a society feed them. She also doesn’t believe in the Me Too movement. She came from poverty, and she pulled herself out by overcoming this narrative, and so everyone can too. She believes vehemently that government is not the place for this sort of change, and that reparations are ridiculous; inside the families and community is where these issues ought to be worked out.
I do not stand on her side of the ledger, and in fact, I typically can’t listen to someone with her beliefs without getting utterly angry and full of judgment. I did well though, perhaps because Russell Brand was the interviewer and not someone on the “far right.” Perhaps that softened the experience for me. In fact, his efforts to find commonalities and ask open questions to better understand her was inspiring, so yes, it probably was Russell that changed my experience. That said, which side is right is not the point of this blog.
What I was able to experience for the first time was my reaction to her from a different position. I could feel myself getting righteously angry, and a small voice inside of me asked, “why do you feel so threatened by her and by what she is saying?”
Why do I feel like I must steel myself from her arguments and get defensive? Others I know would be calling her names right into their iPhones. Aren’t I already ahead that I don’t?
So I let myself go and listened to what she had to say with openness. It wasn’t easy, but I did.
Guess what didn’t happen? I didn’t explode, the world is the same as it was before I listened to it, and I didn’t join her choir. Not because I was determined not to, but because after having listened to her without the steel wall, I still disagreed.
What did happen was I left the podcast a little bit more expanded, understanding how she came to her conclusions, how she believes love and compassion plays out, and how she is just as angry as I am about the injustices perpetuated by “the other side.” At the end, do I think she is wrong? Yes. But I actually really listened to her, and I don’t hate her.
I left the podcast less angry, and instead more thoughtful on how we might bridge the gap between the two sides.