Benjamin Watson joined The Glenn Beck Program on Thursday to talk about the current state of race relations in the U.S. Watson, a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens and author of Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us., has emerged as a voice of reason in the heated debate about Black Lives Matter and the real challenges facing America's black communities.
"You see us go into our separate corners and point fingers and call each other awful names and not really be concerned about opening our hearts, opening our minds to hearing what someone else has to say, even if it's not really your experience, or even if you don't even think that it's real. We're not having that honest dialogue, and I'm hoping that we can have that so that we can bridge the gap and find solutions," Watson said.
"It’s connecting with your humanity and seeing the human in all of us," Glenn said.
Read below or listen to the full segment for answers to these heartfelt questions:
• What did Benjamin Watson think about Glenn's op-ed in the New York Times?
• Does Watson support Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem?
• How have Watson's life experiences impacted his view on race relations?
• Does Glenn wear polka dot clothes like a loaf of Wonder Bread?
• How hard is it for Watson to keep his faith strong working in the NFL?
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Ben Watson wrote a new book, Under Our Skin. In it he writes: For so many people, the racial divide is an argument, a political position, a debate on TV, but keeping our distance isn't working. It's not an option anymore. This is about you and me. It's about our neighbors, our children, and the world.
That's what's on the back cover. I can't -- there's a bunch of words in between. It sounds great. I haven't had a chance to read it. Ben Watson is here. Tony Dungy says he is one of the brightest guys he knows. For everybody I've talked to says the same thing about Ben Watson. Hi, Ben, how are you?
BEN: Hello, Glenn, how are you doing, man?
GLENN: I'm very good. I'm very good. Let's just start -- I want to talk to you about what's been happening in your life. But let's get to the book and how we find our way to each other on things like Black Lives Matter.
BEN: You know, I was reading an article that you wrote not too long ago, and you were talking about empathy. And you, from a very honest position, talked about your initial reactions to Black Lives Matter and different things that we see. I think a lot of people relate to that. But you also for a minute there talked about how you let your guard down and you were able to for an instance, you know, see where someone else was coming from, being open to someone else's experience, even if it isn't yours.
GLENN: Right. Right.
BEN: And although you may not always agree, you can say to them, "You know, your experience is real. Let me hear from you. Let me acknowledge the fact that what you're saying is truly going on." And I think that that's the start. That's how we kind of bridge the gap.
And what we're seeing a lot of, whether it's the national anthem issue, whether it's -- you know, you mentioned the Black Lives Matter, whether it's police excessive use of force, the list goes on and on, and you see us go into our separate corners and point fingers and call each other awful names and not really be concerned about opening our hearts, opening our minds to hearing what someone else has to say, even if it's not really your experience, or even if you don't even think that it's real. We're not having that honest dialogue. And I'm hoping that we can have that so that we can bridge the gap and find solutions.
PAT: And, Ben, you seem to exhibit those same qualities. Because I was just rereading your Facebook post from a while ago after the Ferguson incident. And you had the same introspection. You were confused, as some are, about, you know, first of all, there's a lot of people that just jump to conclusions. There's a lot of people who don't listen to facts. There's a lot of people who don't care about facts. There's a lot of people who don't care about the other side. And you seem to be willing to do that as well. And how do we get more people on board to do that?
BEN: Well, I think we all have a sphere of influence. And I said that the dining room table is as important as the courtroom when it comes to racial reconciliation, when it comes to race relations.
We all have children that we teach. They watch everything that we do. They watch how we respond when different things happen on television, when we see something happen on CNN or Fox or MSNBC, and they see our reactions. They hear what we say. They're forming their ideas about race and what that means by what we as parents are teaching them.
BEN: Also, we have coworkers that tell jokes that talk about things in a certain way. Are we willing to stand up for that?
I mean, each of us has a certain amount of people that we can influence. And I think it's incumbent upon all of us to see where we fall in this whole dialogue, in this whole narrative. A lot of times, we want to point to a politician and say that they need to be the one to change things, or we want to point to some big government entity. And what I'm saying is that we all need a change of heart. We need to look introspectively.
You know, you mention what I wrote in the post. And, you know, being honest about my anger and my frustration, but also my introspection and my sadness and my embarrassment when it comes to all of these things.
PAT: Uh-huh, yeah.
GLENN: So, Ben, here's the problem that I haven't figured out how we can get around.
There's a lot of, if you will, righteous anger right now. People have real reason to be angry about a lot of different things. All across the spectrum.
Things have broken down, and they're not working. And we haven't addressed issues. It's like, you know, if you're -- if you are in a marriage that is going south, you can't just say, "Okay. Let's start fresh." No, you have to listen to each other first.
GLENN: And get it all out and be able to say, "Okay. I hear you. I understand you. I may not agree with you, but I understand you."
GLENN: So now let's move forward. We're not doing that. And here's what I'd like your advice on. I got a lot of heat -- a lot of heat for my New York Times editorial.
BEN: Yeah, you did.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.
BEN: Which is good. Hey, heat means that you're in the kitchen.
GLENN: I know. So I got a lot of heat for that. And it's not that I had a change of position on the leadership of -- or I shouldn't say -- on the stated goals of Black Lives Matter. They are stated that they are anticapitalist, anti-American. You know, they want a separate state for African-Americans. I think this is insane.
GLENN: But that's not what the average person who is walking in the streets wants or what they're feeling.
GLENN: How do we get past our own people -- because, you know, me saying I want to sit down with Black Lives Matter people. They're all thinking, "Oh, my gosh, I'm not going to sit down with that guy." But I got to get through to my own people too to say, "No, it's okay to listen to one another."
BEN: Yeah, well, I think Black Lives Matter is a convenient excuse not to talk about things. And so you have this organization, Black Lives Matter. And for a while, I was like, "What exactly does Black Lives Matter represent and believe?" So I went on their website, and I looked at a lot of things, like I'm sure you did. Did some research. And say, "You know what, I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that." I do like this, but I don't agree with this. Right?
And so the movement starts -- and a lot of people simply thinks it's just about police excessive force, but there are other things that are involved.
BEN: You have a lot of folks who are saying they're part of the movement, who are holding banners, saying they're part of the movement and burning things and doing things that are illegal, and they may not even be. But we look at them and say, "Well, that represents all black people." But it doesn't.
GLENN: It doesn't.
BEN: And so what I'm saying is, there are extremes on both sides. You have white supremacists who hate black people, and there's nothing that's ever going to change for them. They think we are animals. And you can tell because you see it on social media.
Then you have some people who say, "The white man is the devil, and I never want to hear anything from him." And you have some of us in the middle, and we're the ones that need to look at our interpersonal relationships, whether they be at church or at school or at work or on teams or wherever they may be, and be willing to be honest with each other and allow us to talk about it, without being labeled bigots and racists, and to be able to grow and hear experiences.
So, but some people you're not going to reach. And you know that. But let's not worry about those. And let's not use those as an excuse for us in the middle not to really try to effect positive change and let our guard down and be real with each other.
GLENN: How do you --
BEN: I mean, you mentioned the fact that you have to address these things in order to get over it. And it does no one any good to simply say, you know, racism is gone. It was a long time ago. That's not true, obviously.
GLENN: How do you feel about athletes that are kneeling down? I mean, I am all for, you got to do what you believe, and there's nothing more patriotic -- or, I shouldn't say that. There's nothing more American than standing up for what you believe and protesting, even the government.
BEN: Yeah. Yeah.
GLENN: That's what we were founded on. But how do you feel about these -- about these guys?
BEN: Well, I agree with you on that, that America was founded on protest. America started with people overthrowing -- or shaking their fist at the government. And not because they didn't care about the country, but because they wanted it to be something better.
BEN: And so I said from the beginning that if I was able to play -- obviously, I can't right now, I will be standing for the national them. And it's not because I don't agree with the reason of the guys that are kneeling. I agree with them and even more so because of my life experience and because of what I know happens in this country.
But I think the default position for any American is to be able to stand for the national anthem. Now, if there's a time, which there is right now, where men are wanting to draw attention to certain issues, I'm all for them doing that. And I think that they're well within their rights.
I don't think we should be telling them to leave the country or that they should take bullets in their head. You know, that is ridiculous. Because as you mentioned, that is part of what makes our country great and what pushes us to address certain issues. The problem is when people simply look at the protester and not really the reason why they're protesting.
GLENN: So tell me -- tell me as probably the whitest white man you've ever met in your life.
GLENN: I practically wear, you know, polka dot clothes like a loaf of Wonder Bread.
BEN: I've seen you. I've seen pictures.
GLENN: All right. Okay. Back off. It's my show.
Okay. Ben, explain to me -- you just said, you know, "With my life experiences, I agree with them and maybe more." Explain to me, as a whitey white guy what I should be hearing.
BEN: Well, you should first be willing to hear.
GLENN: I am.
BEN: And I think that's the first step, is that many aren't even willing to hear.
You should be hearing, the personal experiences, but also the collective experience of many black people in this country. And what we also need to understand is that I'm not condemning you as an individual, whitest of white guys, as being a racist simply because the country we live in has an inherent bias against people of color.
And this has been proven over and over again. You want to talk about the example of the kids picking out the good doll and the bad doll.
BEN: And when they point to -- and this is even with black kids too. We all are affected by this simply because of the history of our country, is that, you know, the darker skin is kind of less desirable.
And I'm not saying that that's a personal thing from you. What I'm saying is that we all kind of operate under this bias.
And what I see from a lot of white people that I know -- I know a lot of the whitest of the white people. They're some of my best friends. That immediately, when -- when that subject is brought up, they get defensive. Which I totally understand because if I was in their shoes, I probably would too and think that I'm saying that it's your fault and that you're a racist and that I blame -- I blame you for everything. And that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm simply being honest about the situation.
And the truth of the matter is, Glenn, is that when you look through civil rights, you look through, you know, the '80s, '90s, whatever it is. You look all the way to Emancipation, it has been white people who have been the majority culture, who have helped this thing go along. And so it's not an us against you guys or anything like that. It's a we. You know, and that's the important thing to remember.
GLENN: Yeah. It's connecting with your humanity and seeing -- seeing the human in all of us.
GLENN: Okay. I want to take a quick break. Talking to Ben Watson. Do you prefer -- by the way, your books -- everybody calls you Ben, but your books are Benjamin Watson. Is that that your nom de plume, or?
BEN: Well, I prefer Benjamin. I'm not offended by Ben. You can shorten it to Ben because, you know, Ben is much easier to say. But I prefer Benjamin.
GLENN: Okay. Benjamin. Benjamin Watson. He's written the book, Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race. We'll continue here in just a second.
And our serial on gun control is coming up at the bottom of the hour.
GLENN: Benjamin Watson. Under Our Skin is his new book. He's an NFL Baltimore Ravens tight end. Get into his injury here in a second, if we have some time.
PAT: Yeah, Benjamin, I've seen some really strong stands that you take on same-sex marriage and also Planned Parenthood. You've said that their goal is to exterminate blacks, which is true. That's how they were set up by Margaret Sanger. Do you get a lot of pushback from fellow athletes?
BEN: No, not from pro athletes. Amazingly, I think that a lot of times athletes are -- are kind of in a position where others think they shouldn't weigh in on certain social topics. Overwhelmingly, I would say I've had really good support from many of my teammates and guys that I've played with. We want to be able to express our views. You know, we're part of this country too. We pay taxes and we vote and all of those things. And so it's important for us to be able to talk about these things.
I have received a little bit of pushback from other people. But, you know, the great thing is that people are entitled to their opinions.
But I would say overwhelmingly, I've had a lot of support.
GLENN: You were -- your dad's a pastor?
BEN: Yes, sir. Yeah, my dad is a pastor in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
GLENN: How hard is it to keep your faith in the world that you live in?
BEN: Well, Glenn, I would say that we all -- in whatever world we're in, whatever our occupation is, we all have a path to walk. We all have struggles.
You know, being in the NFL, obviously there's some unique challenges in the NFL. But what I found and what Scripture tells us is that your faith is not something on the side. It's not something that you can carry with you. It is inherently who you are.
When you pass from death into life, you become a new person, and so everything you do flows from that.
When you go to work, you are a Christian at your workplace. You're not a broadcaster who happens to be Christian. You're a Christian. You've dealt with broadcasting and rights and those sorts of things. Same for me as an athlete. And so everything I do -- you know, that's just who I am. And so whatever the trials are and the temptations in any job, it's not anything that is not uncommon. We all face certain things.
GLENN: You know, I feel like we're living in the world where we're choosing between Jesus and Barabbas. And obviously I'm not assigning anybody Jesus nor Barabbas' role. But the crowd is cheering for the anarchist and the guy who was going to light the world on fire. And the guy who's saying, "Loved one another," is not being listened to. In fact, he's going to be crucified.
How do we get past this rage and the mob mentality of screaming for Barabbas because it makes us feel good?
BEN: Well, it makes sense. When you look through our history -- even I've been reading the Book of Acts, and it talks about our persecution to spread the gospel. And so there's a wide road and a narrow road. And when we live in the world, we can't be surprised when the world acts like the world. And we also can't be surprised when those who are believers act like believers, but we also understand that we are a world who is going contrary or going against what the Word of God says. And that's normal. And that's what we should expect.
However, we know how the outcome happens. We know who triumphs in the end. And we're called to live and to love other people. Even if they don't agree with us, we're called to love other people, we're called to respect other people, we're called to be a light to the world.
GLENN: Benjamin Watson. The name of the book is Under Our Skin. Benjamin, I hope we talk again soon.
Featured Image: Finalist Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints speaks during the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Finalist press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center West on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)