fbpx
"There's nothing tha...

"There's nothing that anyone of us can do to assure that our loved ones and even ourselves are not victims of violent acts, victims of police brutality, victims of continuous oppression that we face as people of color, and particularly, black people." -- Tamika Mallory

----------

ROB
Welcome to Disruption Now. I'm your host and moderator, Rob Richardson. It's my pleasure to have Tamika Mallory. It's been a long time coming.

TAMIKA
Yes.

ROB
We've had this done like a year ago. It's was early March but a lot happened between Mid-March and--

TAMIKA
A lot happened.

ROB
Right?

TAMIKA
A lot happened.

ROB
Right. Things happen as they're supposed to. -- Since then, I would say, she's always been in the movement. She's always been committed. She's been there since her beginning, really -- since she was a working professional. It was all about the movement.

Now, everybody knows what I know and what some of her friends know, is that she's about the business. She had a viral speech right after the killing of George Floyd. She's been on the ground and she's been fighting and it's great just to have her here. -- Tamika, how are you doing today?

TAMIKA
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me, Rob. I just want to publicly say that you're probably one of the most persistent people that I have ever encountered. And I don't think it's persistent just for persistence' sake. I think it is because you understand what all of us needs to be doing in terms of conversations and educating people. And you have given me so such grace to allow me to tell you I'm going to be on and then check with my people and all those great things.
And today, although I'm traveling internationally, I wanted to stop and do this because I actually have the time and also because I think that the platform that you have or what it is that you're trying to do with your podcast, your show, your network that I believe you're building is super important. I'm happy to be with you today and just thank you again for having grace with my time.

ROB
Well thank you. And again, I try to give people grace because I understand. And I work to be persistent and also have patience. There’s this--

TAMIKA
There’s a balance.

ROB
It's the balance, right -- what you got to do.

TAMIKA
There's a balance.

ROB
So thank you. As we talked about, when we were about to get up, we're about to do this a year ago.

TAMIKA
Yes.

ROB
I mean the world just changed and the world has changed so much. You were known then but you're really, really well-known now. And that moment really helped elevate what you were doing already. As I tell people, [this is my stuff - 03:03] and you jumped in to like, "Oh let me be a part of this because there's something going on." Like this is what you were doing.

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
And you've been involved a long time. But let's talk about why you got involved. What was your genesis? What was your beginning? Why are you doing this work? You're very talented and you could have made your way a lot of other ways. Why are you doing this?

TAMIKA
I think it's really personal. I tell people all the time that in a lot of ways, I have some selfish reasons for being in this movement. For one, I have a 21 -- he's about to be 22 -- year-old son.
ROB
You do? Wow, okay.

TAMIKA
Yeah. And I think a part of the work that I do is really of fear, if you will, a serious concern for the idea that if we don’t change laws, if we do not create a new culture, he could fall victim to the very things that I fight against every single day.

There's nothing that anyone of us can do to assure that our loved ones and even ourselves are not victims of violent acts, victims of police brutality, victims of continuous oppression that we face as people of color, and particularly, black people. None of us can stop those things from happening. Those things, I believe, is a long line and a long history that is going to take us probably beyond my lifetime and yours to solve.

But the one thing that I want is for people to see me in the fight and be able to say that despite the fact that it's not guaranteed that I can stop it but at least, I put my foot in the water; at least I was in the game; at least I attempted to make a difference. And so whatever happens from there, it just is what it is. You know, it just is what it is.

ROB
Yeah. Let me just interject real quick. When you put yourself out there as a leader, you will get criticized -- I will people this -- no matter what. It's a part of the process, and I know that you understand that.

TAMIKA
Yeah.

ROB
And now that you have even a heightened status in terms of just exposure, it's picked up in... You know, I want to definitely talk about that because as I told you, I support you. I do. But there had been things that had been going on…

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
…with people that we respect. We're not going to say anything negative about... particularly, some of the people that were victims of police brutality and they lost their son. And some of them have spoken out and are saying things that I don't believe to be true but I want you to respond, about you using this movement to just enrich yourselves.

Before you answer, let me just say my personal perspective here. I think we have to get out of the narrative, particularly black people, as thinking that the only way someone can contribute to the movement is they have to be broke during the whole process. Like you can't have some means to do that.

Dr. Martin Luther actually spoke to this and he talked about love and power. He said, "Look, power without love is reckless and abusive but love with power is just sentimental and anemic.”

The thing is you need resources in order to do things. This is how the world works. And there's nothing wrong with having resources and not being broke. I think to say that you're not black enough if you're not poor, that's not part of our narrative. That's somebody else’s narrative. But that's my point.

TAMIKA
That's right.

ROB
Go ahead. I know I said a lot.

TAMIKA
First of all, as long as there's breath in my body and my limbs work... And if my limbs stopped working and only my mouth works, I'm still going to use it. And I'm going to use it for two things. I'm going to use it always to raise awareness about the major challenges, the critical things that black people are dealing with in this country and around the world. That's not going to change.

Much of my activism and the work that I do every day is not something that I can turn off and on like a light switch. It is a calling for me. You know, when I hear people say, "Step out of the way" or "Stop doing what you're doing," I chuckle because I don't think that they realize that there had been more than enough attempts to move me, to silence me, to discredit me.

ROB
Oh there had been a whole lot of attempts.

TAMIKA
Several attempts. And guess what? Every single time, God continues to place me back where He wants me to be. And I can't even say that because I don't think there was probably a time that I ever wasn't there except the fact that it does hurt. But every single time that people come after me, that there are these major attacks... And I've had some big ones. I've had some things that have really, really hurt and hit--

ROB
People said you're anti-sematic. I remember all that stuff.

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
I remember

TAMIKA
Absolutely. So I've dealt with some things. And I also worked for a man, Rev. Sharpton, who dealt with major attacks as well.

You know, you can say whatever you want about any of us. There's not going to be a chorus of people... I mean well there is. Of course, there are many people who love, appreciate, respect and honor the work that I do but there's not going to be -- what do you call it -- a critical mass, right? There's always going to be people who’ll say, "Well I don't like what she does. I don’t like the way she dresses. I don't like the things she says." That's always going to be the case.

But I feel like where we have to land, if you will, or what we have to drill down on is this idea that none of--

I am not here to do this work because someone likes me. In fact, every single day, as you spoke about my speech for George Floyd and other things that I've done, I put myself in positions where people really don't like me.

And while there are some haters that speak about me on the sidelines, there are other people who are really trying to take my life. We know that. I deal with… even during this period. I'm not sure if the individuals that are involved in... And there are many more people. Of course, they are moms--

There is one mom, in particular, who has spoken against me in the press. I think another joined her. But it really has just been those individuals because if you look at my record and the families that I've worked with, from Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, to Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, to Ramarley Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, and the list goes on and on, those individuals are extremely supportive of me. And they will tell you that the things that are being said about me are just not true. I mean that's just the reality. There are opinions and then there are facts.

And in terms of this idea that I use people's children to raise money or to elevate myself and that I show up to steal narratives and then travel across the country using a person's name and not showing back up for the families, those things are absolutely -- absolutely -- not true. It's not me. There are people who do those things but it’s not me.

ROB
That's why I made it clear. Let's get it clear. There are people that pimp this game.
TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
I just say you're not one of those people. I understand how people have this belief and I also think that’s the narrative.

TAMIKA
No. And those people, it’s almost like… You know, people want to say within the police department, "Well I'm not a bad cop.” But the point of the matter is that there are people who are harming folks who are police officers. And if you are not speaking out against it then... So some folks, it's almost like you are co-signing or a complicit. I do speak out against what is considered to be fake activism.

ROB
And there's a lot of that, too. That's a real thing.

TAMIKA
It's a real thing. But again, when you think about my background and you understand what it is that I've done, there is... My track record is clear. So that's the first thing. I'm going to continue to do what I'm doing. I have many opportunities and things that I'm dealing with and situations that I'm vetting and I won't be stopping anytime soon.

But the second thing that I'm going to do is I'm not going to... Well I hope. If God continues to bless me and continues to elevate my voice and just me, in general, I'm not going to die broke. I'm not going to die in a situation…

ROB
And nor should you.

TAMIKA
...similar to what happened to Malcom X where they could not even find a funeral home in Harlem to be able to bury him -- the place that he helped and was from. Dr. King, his family at this point, because of his grand celebrity and the impact that he had on society, there are resources. But nonetheless, the doctor died--

ROB
Let's be clear, he died broke.

TAMIKA
He died broke, absolutely.

ROB
He died broke. You can tell by how he was speaking -- both him and Malcolm -- that they would have made a pivot had they had the opportunity.

TAMIKA
Right.

ROB
Malcolm was talking about economics in our community. That was literally what he got killed for. He was talking about economics.

TAMIKA
Absolutely. Absolutely.

ROB
Malcolm was always about that.

TAMIKA
And I think, from my perspective, Rob, I'm a pretty smart... Not that they weren't but I'm a pretty smart young woman.

ROB
Right. But we learned from their history -- from our ancestors.

TAMIKA
Right, absolutely. And some people say I'm attractive and I have assets, if you will, in terms of what I've learned and as you said, being a student of history. And so I have many different forms of income.

And by the way, what people don't seem to understand is that the least amount of money that I make is from my activism. Literally, my activism is the least amount of my income. My income comes from being a consultant and working with people around the areas of diversity. Sometimes, event planning, other skills that I have. My income also comes from being a speaker.

ROB
I also want to say this: It costs money to do the work you do.

TAMIKA
It does. But I just--

ROB
Even if you got money, in terms of you being an executive director, that is not a bad thing. We can't look at things like… because someone is getting some income like you... Let me put it this way: Jewish organizations, they have executive directors and nobody apologizes for them making money.

TAMIKA
That's right.

ROB
The Red Cross, you go out there, they do good work... I want everybody to Google how much the CEO of Red Cross makes.

TAMIKA
Oh man, the CEO is... Many organizations--

ROB
And I'm not saying we should get to that level but I'm saying, the point that we have to... Only in our community, the perspective is, "How much money are you making? If you are making too much then you must be doing something wrong,” and that shouldn't be the only one there.

TAMIKA
But we're so traumatized. And also we've been taught habits. And there are certain behaviors that had been thrust upon our communities to keep us divided, also to keep us feeling as if we are less than. We're not allowed to have more. We're not allowed to feel good about ourselves and to have the resources to live well.

But as a black woman, and the reason why I was stating all of the different ways in which I make money... And of course, my organization, Until Freedom, pays me a salary. I put all those things together. It's like a soup. I make up... you know. And by the way, there are highs and lows.

ROB
Yeah, of course.

TAMIKA
There are moments when I am making money and then there's moments when people are not doing as many events, right? During the pandemic, things changed. So you have to kind of be willing to go with the punches.

You know, just in the beginning of 2020, I literally had to send out a text message to several of my friends and asked them to send money because I did not have enough money to decide between my mortgage payments or my rent payment. Well it is a mortgage payment for our family home. My... What was the... Oh my car and food, like it literally was a thing.

And I have friends that will tell you, and if that guy had the message, where I said, "You guys are always asking me how you can help. I never asked you for anything but right now, I'm struggling and I need support." So that was at one point. And then things got better and it goes around in cycles.

And I'm saying all of that to say that we've been told as women that we need seven forms of income in order to make up what it takes to be successful, right? So I live my life through that lens. But what I will tell you is--

ROB
And I want to say that... You can get back to that point. But I think the important lesson in what you just brought up is that it has not been a linear process for you. People see... they saw you at the Grammy's, they're like, "Oh she's just up there and it just went instant." Now, these are struggles you get--

TAMIKA
No. It's a long time coming and that's why so many people were literally in tears to see me there because they know what I've been through.

ROB
I was very proud.

TAMIKA
They know what I've been through in order to make it into those spaces and--

Well let me just go back to the point about the income piece. So it takes these seven... You know, I try to study some of the models of these finance gurus that talk about the seven different types of income. But it's tiring. I mean can you imagine what it's like to work on panels and discussions? Most people, they just go to their regular job every day and maybe different extracurricular activities but in my situation, I have multiple full time jobs -- and I mean "full time" -- where people's lives depend on me to show up and to do what it is that I'm supposed to be doing.

So if I'm planning a major event for someone, I don't get to not show up for Breonna Taylor's family just because I have this event going on. I have to be in both places at once. So folks have no idea of the toll and the stress and how difficult it is in order for us to do what it is that we do every day and to survive.

And I do not subscribe and will never ever, ever be a person that agrees with the sentiment that we should be, as you said, broke in order to prove ourselves as activists; that we should not have nice things. I believe it's the opposite.

I think that people who put their lives on the line, people who work hard every day on behalf of basic strangers, people you don't even know that you’re showing up for and putting yourself in very difficult and dangerous situations, we ought to be some of the most less. It's almost like, "Why is it that we pay teachers so little and then we pay doctors so much but yet the teachers teach the doctors?" So there's an imbalance.

And that imbalance has been designed because we know that when there's scarcity, when people are struggling, suffering, and just when people are haters in general -- some of them -- you know you have a situation where... I guess, as my son will say, it's the crabs in the barrel mentality...

ROB
That's it.

TAMIKA
...where you feel like when one crab gets out, maybe they're not coming back. So that's my thing on that.

And the other little piece I was going to say is that when people say they're so proud I made it to the Grammy's, I think what folks don't understand, this is not so much the glitz and glam of it. The issue is that I am considered to be a very controversial person, right?

ROB
Yeah.

TAMIKA
I am not invited in every room. There are many rooms where people do not feel comfortable having me there because I'm a truth-teller and some of the things that I have to say is not politically correct.

So to have me on a stage like the Grammy's after making a speech which, by the way, the speech that I made in Minneapolis and of course, the subsequent speech where I literally called out Daniel Cameron in the hardest way that I could find within my soul, those were speeches that were not just speeches for the books. But actually, the words that I said, the things that I talked about as it relates to targeting and the “rioting,” if you will, the uprising that was happening, those things have made me a target. They have made people extremely angry.

ROB
Of course, they have.
TAMIKA
And so when standing on the Grammy stage and calling on Joe Biden… We all said we want to hold him accountable. Well I held him accountable before an audience of tens and tens of billions of people.

ROB
That actually brings up a good question for me. You talked about during the last president ... I don't want to say his name. But you talked about the fact that people are obsessed with just who they didn't like and you quoted Dr. Martin Luther King. He said, "We fight systems of oppression and not people we don't agree with." Why do you think it's important to make that distinction?

TAMIKA
Well first of all, those are principles kinging on violence principles that I've learned from Dr. King. They're the principles that he studied. In those principles, they tell you that the fight is not against other people, other humans, the fight is against principalities. It's against systems and structures.

I think what's happening, even in the press as it relates to me in this moment, is that people have decided to make me a target versus all of us coming together to fight the system. And that's what they depend on. They depend on an attempt to assassinate the character of those who are actually doing the work. I mean they did this to Dr. King. And I'm in no way -- in no way -- even trying to compare myself.

ROB
No. They did it to Dr. King. They did it to Malcolm X. They did it to every single leader. “Judas and the Black Messiah,” you saw that. This is the narrative.

TAMIKA
This is it. This is it.

ROB
We know that this is what they do.

TAMIKA
And it's scary, Rob, because... I mean when I say "scary," I guess, if you understand what I mean when I say that, it's scary to watch history repeating itself especially when it happens to be about you because the one thing we know is that the tactic that some are playing into and the tactic that we see happening in this moment is not just discrediting people for the sake of discrediting them or discrediting me; it's also creating an environment for people to be isolated, disliked and killed. That's what happens when you take so much time and invest in the constant belittling and degrading of a person. And it happened to me in a women's march where--
I actually met several people since the women's march across the world who I would run into, be it in a mall or a grocery store or different places, and they'd say, "Hi. Are you Tamika Mallory" and I say, "Yes" and they say, "Wow, you're so small." -- I'm 5'4". I'm 125... Well you know, since the pandemic, I'm a little bit more than that. [Laughter] But at that time, I was like 115 pounds. But things changed. I'm also 40 so life is happening.

They would say, "Wow, you're so small. I had this impression of you that you were like this big person." And it's not that I look big. My frame is small. Everyone can tell that. But the thing is, the media built me in a way that made me look like this monster, right?

ROB
Of course.

TAMIKA
I'm anti-sematic. I'm a racist. I'm a hater. I'm evil. I hate men. I'm this black feminist that's against black men.

ROB
Like it’s the total opposite of you, if people know you.

TAMIKA
You said it. And you've actually met me. That's the other part. It's like these people who speak of me have never even sat down for one conversation -- not even one. There were some who actually have talked to me and their impression of me is just whatever it is. You know, you can't do anything about that.

But the point is that… what we know from history is that all of it lends itself to isolation, that isolation of, "We don't like her. She's a bad person" or "He is a bad person." And similar to Angela Davis, the next thing you know, she's incarcerated. Similar to what we saw happened to Billie Holiday.

You talked about Judas and the Black Messiah. If people really want to watch a film that shows you what is so dangerous about speaking up... And she wasn't a big time activist. She had one song -- strangely, one song. And the movie “United States vs. Billie Holiday” gives you a clear understanding of how serious it is, that, I have to say, when white folks don't like you, what they will do to use your own people against you and how you get isolated to the point that you're standing on your own and you're vulnerable to be killed.

ROB
Right. I mean that's what they want. But that's not going to happen with you. We're going to speak this out to the universe.

TAMIKA
Yeah, we're not going to--

ROB
Yeah. We're with you.

TAMIKA
We're in a different place.

ROB
Yeah. But it does require you to pay attention to it.

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
This is why we have to talk about it. And you do have to address this narrative because you can't let them grow because if you don't say anything then people believe it, right?

TAMIKA
That it’s the story, mm-hmm.

ROB
Right? That's the story. I think the last four years has just shown us that people could say whatever and if you don't have an adequate response, people are like, "Well maybe it's true." And after a while, what was seen as extreme, it becomes normalized.

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
That's what where we're going... Well that's not where we're going. That's where we are right now.

TAMIKA
That's where we are.

ROB
Right? And that's why we have to fight back so hard. As we talk about "fighting back," you talked about holding Joe Biden accountable. You have a focus on -- I know you do -- about what the movement should be. I'm curious to know, what should be, from your perspective, the focus of the movement, let's say, for the next couple of years then a few years going forward? Is it holding the president accountable and then pushing the senate to actually do something? Is it at local levels in areas... You have specific plans there. Where do you think the focus should be for the movement in the short term and the long term?

TAMIKA
I think it's all of the above. I think you have to work on every single day -- building communities, right? When I say that, what I mean is, on one hand, call to de-fund the police. Defunding the police only works if you have a strong community that is able to maintain and manage itself. We're not saying that there should be no police. We're not saying take all of them. We're not saying about the police.

Although, I am an abolitionist. And I hope that one day, we get to a point, where like many other countries, police officers are really there to serve. And they don't necessarily even meet lethal source in order to be a part of that community.

But you cannot have a system that minimizes the role and need for police if you have not been building the mental health and the physical health and dealing with the issues of economic development and dealing with poverty and dealing with housing and dealing with clean food and vegetables and access, right? You can't have that.

So I think we always have to be 10 toes down around the idea of building our own communities and investing in grassroots organizations who have solutions for what it looks like to sustain a community on its own. So that's one -- it has to happen. And it almost is one that stands by itself, this idea that we actually have everything we need. We just need to have the resources and take the time to actually focus on those things.

I think the local elections, local politics, people running for office, people raising money in your local community so that when an elected official runs... You know, a local-elected official can run by saying, "I stand for black people. I believe in this cause. I want to do police reform" -- all this stuff -- and then when they get deeply into their campaign, and even if they win into their tenure as an elected, they can't raise money from the same communities that they stood up for and therefore, they begin to lean towards those people who have helped to sustain them.

ROB
Right. That goes back to our earlier conversation about why it's hard to really make a movement if you don't have any resources when it comes down to it, right?

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
So we have to understand that we have to invest in our leaders. And we have to invest, not just voting. We have to vote all the time. Vote locally, not just for presidential elections.
TAMIKA
President, right.

ROB
And then give even it's $5-$10. If you have a good candidate, give to... I've been a candidate. This is some hard stuff.

TAMIKA
It's very.

ROB
I ran statewide. It is hard. It is very hard.

TAMIKA
Yes.

ROB
I was very direct about what I was going to do in terms of criminal justice reform. That made me not popular with some of the local newspapers, whatever. I got a ton of votes but then there were a lot of people... You know, how can you help? You go out and give some money even if it's $5 because that makes--

TAMIKA
Oh it matters.

ROB
It all matters, right? And then I would tell people, like if I had a crystal ball and I was in your position or these other national organizations, I do think there should be some focus on the senate and on the president.

TAMIKA
Absolutely, yeah. Oh absolutely.

ROB
And particularly, a couple of things because to me.... More people voted for Joe Biden; voted in his last election than ever in history -- ever. So to me, they have to stand. They have to do some things specifically right now. One, they have to pass a strong voting rights bill. We know they are--

TAMIKA
That's one.

ROB
Right? To me, all of this stuff, they need to get rid of filibuster. There's no way to do any of this--

TAMIKA
Well at least Joe Biden said that that's something that he's focused on.

ROB
Right. That's good.

TAMIKA
And that was groundbreaking for him to even say that, right?

ROB
I didn't even know he said that. That's good.

TAMIKA
He did. The other day, he spoke to...

ROB
Wonderful.

TAMIKA
...trying to end the Filibuster and saying that he was going to begin the process of figuring out what it's going to take.

ROB
That's good.

TAMIKA
It's not an easy thing.

ROB
No.

TAMIKA
But he did say that. While he may not admit it and his team may not come out and say it, the administration may never admit it in any way but you can't ignore the fact that... On Sunday, on a Grammy speech, I say that, "President Biden. we demand justice, equity and policy" and then the next thing you know in the very next week, he's talking about ending the filibuster which is specifically geared towards how we will get the George Floyd Policing Act. It's Justice and Policing Act.

ROB
Yeah. Basically, let's make sure we can hold police accountable. We got to have some action in the senate.

TAMIKA
Absolutely.

ROB
But we also have to protect voting rights because, look, they're being... I mean it's ridiculous the bill they're trying to pass in... They're going to pass it. They're making it illegal to hand people food in line.

TAMIKA
Well in Kentucky, they're making it illegal for you to even speak to a police officer. To say anything to them is cause like harassment or something like that.

ROB
Yeah. That's got to be out of the constitution.

TAMIKA
There's always a backlash. There was a backlash to President Obama being elected and there's going to be a backlash to Joe Biden. There's always a backlash. And unfortunately, I think that the Asian community just experienced what that backlash looks like. So we all have this common enemy which is white supremacy.

But as you were saying, yes, I do think that building local communities, people running for office and also ensuring that we invest in elected officials is important. But as you said, from a senate level and federal level, we still have a lot of work to do. There are democrats that need to be unseated as well, right?

ROB
There's no question about that.

TAMIKA
What is his name? [Mansion - 32:37]? He needs to be unseated.

We have to look at the entire system and decide what are the points. And there are some people who say to me, "Well we need to see you do more work on policy." Well by the way, you haven't been paying attention if you don't know that we actually do policy work. Well that's one.

We're now working across the country to get Breonna’s Law passed in several places. The law has even been introduced or passed in general. Louisville, Kentucky is one of those places where a dear sister, [Katora Haran - 33:20], was the leader in terms of getting it passed and now represented at. Scott is working on the statewide level.

What I'm beginning to realize, Rob, is that people do not know how a movement works. They don't get it. They don't know or understand that there are lanes and everyone is in their lane.

ROB
There are lanes and there are layers.

TAMIKA
There's lanes and layers, right? There's overpasses, right? There's tunnels. There's all of that. And the people who are policymakers are in their lane. People like me who are advocates, mobilizers, educators who bring awareness to issues help the policymakers to do the work that they're doing.

ROB
Right. That's exactly right.

TAMIKA
I have dual skills. I bring diversity of skills because I am politically-savvy. And I do work with legislators on a regular basis. But we should not look down upon activists who don't necessarily do policy work. They're great organizers on the street. They help to bring the noise and keep the streets hot so that the legislator is able to say, "This is what the people want. We have to pass these laws."

ROB
I always say there's three Ps. There's definitely "Protest" which is what you're talking about. The next is "Policy." And then the one that's connected to that is "Power." You’ve got to have all three, right? You’ve got to have all three to make systemic change which really brings a lot of our conversation together.

I know we're running short on time so let me get just a couple of rapid fire questions I like to ask folks. If you were talking to your younger self, what advice would you give yourself and what advice would you ignore?

TAMIKA
Well for one, I think... and it's still relevant today to me. At 40 years old, I'm still always trying to figure out who is "They" -- "Who is "They"” -- because we love to say, "They're not going to like it. They're going to say they don't think I'm fit for the job. They don't think I'm pretty. They don't think I'm this." Who is "They"?

We have to be able to identify the "Theys" because sometimes, "Theys" can be just in our mind. But also, we have to recognize that the "Theys" that we're listening to are people who will never be with you. So if they say you're not attractive and you change everything about yourself, they're going to say, "Oh now you look worse." They're never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to accept you or be on your side and so you have to accept who you are. Stand firmly in your position and know that you can't win everyone and that the "Theys" had been set to distract you.

Someone told me the other day, a sister by the name of Marvet Britto who is the brand strategist... She's working with everybody -- from Mariah Carey to... You name the people. She called me up in light of some of the recent tension that I had been dealing with and she said, "There are four words that I need you to write down on a piece of paper." She said, "Number one is Distraction, number two is Deceit, number three is Dislocation and the fourth one is Destruction.”

“Once you have been distracted, it is easy for people to move in and deceive you. And once you have been deceived, you can be dislocated from where you are supposed to be. And once you've been dislocated then you can be destroyed.”

ROB
Wow.

TAMIKA
All of that, it comes from having "They" be the loudest voices in your minds, sometimes. So I tell younger people and I would tell myself, "Stop listening to "They" because they have made me not go to school when I was supposed to. They made me not believe in myself. They made me procrastinate." They did a lot of things to me and yet I still don't know who they are.

ROB
[Laughter] That was good. That was great advice. Listen to that advise. That was good. That was really good. All right, final two questions. You got a committee of three, living or dead, to advise you on business, life, whatever. Who are those three people and why?

TAMIKA
Well my mom is alive and my dad but let's put them as one. My parents, they matter in terms of advising me. I already chose my parents but my son or young people, in general, matter. You got to have young people on your team that help you to stay fresh, current, new and also that are honest because young people... My son is brutally honest with me. All the young people I work with are just very, very, very honest.

And I think that the third person for me would be Michelle Obama. I would want to hear from her about what it is to do the “go high” thing because sometimes I want to go real, real, real low. And I've seen--

ROB
I don't have to even sincerely agree with the whole statement. I think that thing is going to go direct.

TAMIKA
I know.

ROB
I love her though.

TAMIKA
But you know what? It works for her.

ROB
It does. It does.

TAMIKA
And I'd love to hear... and to have her constant advice about how to manage the moments when you really just want to punch somebody in their face.

ROB
Yeah.

TAMIKA
Right? Because I know she has wanted to do that.

ROB
Oh I'm sure. I can feel it.

TAMIKA
We can see it.

ROB
Yeah. You can see it. But she always took the high road.

TAMIKA
Always.

ROB
Well I know I'm not just that good.

TAMIKA
Listen, I'm... mm.
ROB
Final question: You have a Google ad, let's say, that summarizes Tamika Mallory's life or beliefs. What is that saying and why?

TAMIKA
I think similar to Shirley Chisholm that says, "Unbought and Unbossed," I will want mine to say, "Tamika Mallory, She Tried."

ROB
Yeah.

TAMIKA
"She tried."

ROB
All right, Tamika Mallory, pleasure to have you on.

TAMIKA
It's great to be with you, Rob. Thank you so much.

ROB
Thank you.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

HOSTED BY

ROB RICHARDSON

Share This!

There’s nothing that anyone of us can do to 

assure that our loved ones and even ourselves are not victims of violent acts, victims of police 

brutality, victims of continuous oppression that 

we face as people of color, particularly black 

people.

Tamika Mallory is a nationally recognized civil rights activist and seasoned community organizer. She served as the youngest ever Executive Director of the National Action Network under Reverend Al Sharpton. Mallory was the co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, the largest single-day demonstration in US history. She most recently gave what has been dubbed “the speech of a generation” – State of Emergency in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. She was recently on the Grammys and has a new book State of Emergency. Her new elevation has also attracted new critics, we address all of this.


In this Episode you will learn

  • Why we need to change the narrative about black leaders and wealth.
  • How listening to collective critics can destroy you.
  • Where the focus of the movement should be in the coming years.
  • Why we must fight systems of oppression and not just focus on people we don’t like.

CONNECT WITH THE HOST

ROB RICHARDSON

Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker

Rob Richardson is the host of disruption Now Podcast and the owner of DN Media Agency, a full-service digital marketing and research company. He has appeared on MSNBC, America this Week, and is a weekly contributor to Roland Martin Unfiltered.

MORE WAYS TO WATCH

thin

Serious about change? Subscribe to our podcasts.

DNSummit 2021

Sign up for our 2021 Summit.