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  • Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating

  • the end of slavery in the United States,

  • observed annually on June 19.

  • Happy Juneteenth, everybody.

  • It's Kalen Allen here.

  • We are back with OMKalen.

  • And today is a very special episode,

  • for we are celebrating the one holiday that often

  • gets overlooked, Juneteenth.

  • Joining me are two very special friends of mine,

  • actor, producer, and human rights advocate Angelica Ross,

  • and civil rights organizer and activist and co-founder

  • of Campaign Zero, DeRay Mckesson.

  • How are you both doing today?

  • [INAUDIBLE]

  • I'm good.

  • I'm good.

  • So much work to be done and so much great

  • work already happening.

  • I've never been more hopeful about where we

  • can go for moments like these.

  • It's been a very challenging and interesting time that we've all

  • been experiencing.

  • And we're all in different areas.

  • Angelica, you're in Atlanta, and I'm here in Los Angeles.

  • And DeRay, you are in New York.

  • So we're all experiencing this on different types of levels.

  • So we're just going to jump into this.

  • And I think my first question that I

  • want to start with is, why are we taught the origin of July 4

  • but not Juneteenth?

  • Let's just be real.

  • We know why.

  • They don't want us to know our rights.

  • The more we, as black people, are

  • conscious about the whole history,

  • the more you can't sit down.

  • But when you look at our history,

  • slavery was still happening 155 years ago.

  • That's not that long ago, OK?

  • And even though the Emancipation Proclamation

  • was issued in 1863, it wasn't until June 19, 1865

  • that all slaves were actually free.

  • When we talk about "the slaves were freed," I guess,

  • because it's like, we realize now

  • that we haven't really been freed,

  • or that America just created a different version of slavery.

  • Part of what it means to usher in a new world

  • is that we actually have to put those constraints out of mind

  • and say, you know what?

  • If these weren't the rules, what would we do, right?

  • What do we deserve?

  • And that's part of the fight, right?

  • Is that we actually fight for what we deserve.

  • We don't fight for what we think we can get.

  • And I think that we have to help people get to that place.

  • This system of white supremacy has done such a number

  • on our community that it has created not only trauma,

  • but it has created internalized white supremacy.

  • So when you have internalized white supremacy,

  • you have black people who have a white perspective

  • against themselves and their communities about how

  • to get through this white-centered world.

  • All black lives matter.

  • But I think sometimes people will then--

  • especially white people looking in--

  • are like, well, isn't that the same as "all lives matter?"

  • To zoom all the way out, right?

  • It's a reminder that anytime we focus solely

  • on black people, people struggle with it, right?

  • When I go to a breast cancer rally,

  • I'm focused on breast cancer.

  • That doesn't mean I don't believe

  • in the end of other forms of cancer.

  • It doesn't mean that I don't care about those, that I'm not

  • rallying for those.

  • But in this moment, at this walk, at this march,

  • I'm here about breast cancer, right?

  • Yes.

  • So that's how I think about-- when I say Black Lives Matter,

  • it is, like, we are focused on this issue right here.

  • That doesn't mean we aren't thinking about other issues.

  • That doesn't mean we aren't organizing around issues.

  • But in this moment, in this rally, in this march,

  • we are marshaling resources towards this.

  • And if it was true that all lives matter,

  • we wouldn't be out here in the first place, right?

  • Because it would just be true.

  • White people can trust America in ways that we,

  • as people of color, cannot.

  • So the conversation then has to go back to trust.

  • That means I can't trust you.

  • If you trust in a system that I can't trust,

  • that means I can't trust you.

  • Now, DeRay, I want to talk about the 8

  • Can't Wait, which is a campaign that

  • introduces eight policies that can decrease police violence.

  • 8 Can't Wait-- when we launched it,

  • I think that we probably could've done some better

  • framing around the purpose.

  • I've read a lot of the criticisms about the plan.

  • I don't think about this as reform.

  • I think about this as harm reduction.

  • I think about this as the path to transformation.

  • And our idea was really simple.

  • We were like, if there are any police officers that

  • exist tomorrow anywhere, they should have less power.

  • Now, I was talking to the chief of staff

  • of a major senator in the US Senate,

  • and he said to me-- he's like, DeRay, oh, we've

  • already banned chokeholds all over the country.

  • And I'm like, we haven't--

  • Check.

  • --actually.

  • We've only banned chokeholds in 28 of the 100 largest cities.

  • That's not a majority of the country.

  • And we actually haven't even banned strangleholds in all 28

  • of those places.

  • So the different-- why this matters

  • is that a chokehold is your airway.

  • A stranglehold is the muscles.

  • So I heard people be like-- they were like, well, chokeholds

  • were banned in New York City, DeRay.

  • Why are you even--

  • it's clear.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • And you're like, well, you know what

  • wasn't banned in New York City?

  • Strangleholds.

  • So the moment Garner gets killed,

  • you know what the police union said?

  • They said, we didn't choke him.

  • We put him in a stranglehold.

  • We don't want to argue semantics with you.

  • Just ban it all.

  • When we think about defund, that's also a simple idea,

  • right?

  • Who should respond to a mental health crisis?

  • An expert.

  • Who should respond to suicidal ideation?

  • An expert-- a mental health expert,

  • not somebody with a gun.

  • Who should respond to homelessness?

  • An expert, right?

  • In LA, a third of all uses of force

  • are used against a homeless person.

  • That doesn't make sense, right?

  • The police are the first people to tell us that they're not

  • social workers.

  • And we should just say, we agree.

  • We agree.

  • And we should move all that money and all those resources

  • somewhere else.

  • So in the United States, if you get killed by a police officer

  • and a newspaper doesn't write about it,

  • you don't exist in any of the three big databases.

  • So that, in and of itself, is wild.

  • Angelica, I want to know how you've seen, since your career,

  • since you've entered the public life in this way,

  • how have you-- have you seen the industry change?

  • Have you seen culture shift around some of these issues?

  • As a black trans actor in Hollywood, in the industry,

  • I will tell you it's as if my fairy godmother, Ryan Murphy,

  • gave me a ticket to the ball--

  • OK.

  • --and a ball that I would never have been invited to,

  • and I'm still not invited to when

  • it comes to certain places, like BET and other platforms,

  • you know what I mean?

  • They just still don't invite us to the ball.

  • So you call us to tokenize us whenever it makes sense to you

  • that you know trans people.

  • So in order to not lose their jobs, they're showing us a face

  • that they're OK, but there's no action.

  • There's no heart.

  • They'll talk about black men being murdered,

  • but they will barely talk about Breonna Taylor, let alone

  • Tony McDade and Nina Pop.

  • I love that you brought up this fairy godmother

  • thing, Angelica.

  • Ellen was my fairy godmother.

  • And what is interesting to me, and what I've always

  • struggled with, is that sometimes I

  • do feel as though I do get a little bit of pushback

  • from the black gay community sometimes

  • because of my proximity to whiteness.

  • But that does not threaten my blackness.

  • I know that I have an audience that is majority white.

  • And so I look like--

  • I said, OK.

  • So in this movement, how can I best advocate?

  • How do I, in my best way possible, educate?

  • Because another thing that's very important to realize--

  • You are white famous, Kalen.

  • Baby, we went to Disney, and we couldn't-- oh, Kalen!

  • Every white person within a 5-foot radius

  • was trying to take a selfie with Kalen.

  • So the question becomes, how do we

  • make sure that our values stay present in every room we're in,

  • right?

  • And we make it really clear that we

  • don't compromise because of our proximity

  • to anything, let alone whiteness--

  • Yes.

  • --right?

  • When I walked into the set of Pose season one,

  • everyone in the hair and makeup trailer was white.

  • And let alone, nobody was trans.

  • And I'm like, how the heck is this going on

  • on a black and trans show?

  • And Ryan-- he always listens.

  • So everything that I--

  • I push, every time, to the point where I cause tension.

  • But I always cause tension in ways

  • that people know that I'm not trying to completely

  • disrupt and dismantle the entire thing,

  • but I am trying to create more opportunities.

  • And by speaking up, last year, a black trans woman

  • was nominated for an Emmy for makeup--

  • Deja Smith-- because we're speaking up

  • and trying to get these folks into the room.

  • Yeah.

  • OK, so with Pride also being in June,

  • and also talking about Juneteenth,

  • I want to know, how do you balance

  • the fact of being black within the Black Lives Matter

  • movement while also having to deal with being queer?

  • How do you handle the duality of that all?

  • For me, I have been challenged to reimagine pride.

  • And I think that's what's happening

  • as we reimagine America.

  • I think that's one of the ways that we

  • shift the narrative from "all black lives

  • matter" to just black pride.

  • All of these BLM, Black Lives Matter, protests

  • that are happening in Atlanta, in Chicago, in LA, all

  • across the world--

  • again, like I said earlier, they just organically turn back

  • into a pride parade--

  • like a pride thing for black people--

  • black pride.

  • And that's what's centered there.

  • Then we don't have to separate.

  • We don't have to balance.

  • I have a complicated history of Pride,

  • because it wasn't even a thing in Baltimore.

  • Pride wasn't real to me until I became an adult.

  • As a kid growing up, I would have

  • died to see somebody wear a rainbow flag.

  • So some of my relationship with Pride

  • is, I wear those things, because I

  • want to signal to people around me in a way

  • that I wish that somebody had signaled to me,

  • especially before I had any public statements about who