GLENN: This weekend in Tampa Bay, there is something really cool happening. Tony Dungy is going to be there. Warrick Dunn, who I think was with the Bucks when we lived in Tampa. Tony was there.
STU: Yeah, it's weird. Yeah.
GLENN: And also Benjamin Watson is going to be there in a forum, getting real about race and getting free from the fears and frustrations that divide us.
Benjamin Watson is with us right now. Hey, Ben, how are you?
BENJAMIN: I'm doing well. How are you guys doing?
GLENN: Very good. Very good.
First of all, any thoughts on the Super Bowl?
BENJAMIN: Well, I tell you what, having played in New England for 6 years, it did not surprise me. I have a lot of Atlanta friends, including my in-laws who were crushed. I have never seen a comeback like that before. Especially didn't expect it in the Super Bowl. But, honestly, as I talked to the guys after the game, I was like, you know, if any team was going to come back, it would be New England. It was surprising.
GLENN: Yeah. So, Ben, you've been on with us before. And you have one of the sane voices in America that is trying to bring people together and say, look, yeah, we have things that divide us, but let's have this conversation.
So tell me what you're trying to accomplish this weekend and what you think is going to happen.
BENJAMIN: Yes. Well, one of the things we talked about last time I was with you, was -- it was when my book Under Our Skin came out and just this whole issue that we have with race in America, ethnicity in America, that has been a part of our thread for a very, very long time, since the inception of our country. And it keeps on coming back in different ways, and each generation has to deal with it in their own way.
And so this weekend in Tampa, Florida, what we're hoping to foster is an honest conversation. We've had conversations before. But we want this one to be one where people can come in. Truth can be proclaimed. People can let their guards down. Nobody is going to get offended by honest questions. But also, we want people to lead with tangible tools in their tool belt of ways that they, can, in their own spheres of influence, attack this racial problem and also see where they stand.
And, you know, maybe people may come, and they may feel like, you know what, I have no racist bones in my body. I have no prejudice in my body. I'm forgiven. I'm protected. And all those things. And then they come and hear things. And they say, you know what, this is something that keeps rising up in me, and I need to deal with it first in myself. And then, how do I affect the people around me positively when these sorts of things happen on a television set or we encounter certain instances of racism in our community.
GLENN: I will tell you that Pat and I were on a plane once with Hutch, who was a Cowboys player.
GLENN: You know him.
GLENN: And we were on a plane coming home from Washington, DC, one time. And both Pat and I were from the Pacific northwest. We grew up. Became aware in the early '70s. And didn't feel like we had any problems, you know, with race relations or anything.
We got off that plane with him after he explained the things that he went through in life. And both of us realized, there is so much work to be done in America, that we just don't even know. But it's -- we're stopped sometimes because we don't want to open that up because, A, okay. So you're going to excuse me of being a racist.
GLENN: Are you going to say, oh, I have to pay extra money or I have to -- you know what I mean?
So nobody talks about it because it opens up a can of worms, where extremists can play.
BENJAMIN: I agree. I agree. And it's easy to point our finger at white supremacy or at, you know, maybe the black power movement or whatever it may be and say that those are the epitomes of racism and prejudice. But really, it's those of us that are in the middle -- like I said before, some of us that don't really realize -- some of us that don't -- because of our situation, don't have to engage and have to learn about someone else's experience.
A lot of what we don't see -- you know, experiencing somebody else's life. For the white guy who is a coworker in wherever, in West Virginia, who has lost his job and he thinks that, you know what, it's not fair that his perception is that black people get X, Y, and Z. And to the black teenager or the black young man who sees his employment drop and sees the educational opportunities he has, and he thinks he's the only one who is experiencing some of those things. And for those types of people that say, you know what, I may not have your experience. But let me listen to yours, and let me validate what you feel. And let me not disregard what you feel.
And then for you -- you know, for some people who are born in the Northwest or maybe the West and they have a different view of it, to hear some of these stories that are very, very real. That's how we show how we care about each other.
What we do have now is a lot of people being scared to even mention or broach the topic because they're going to be labeled a bigot or a racist. And that's a very real fear that I acknowledge as well.
GLENN: So, Ben, help me out on -- we're talking to Ben Watson, author of Under My Skin. Or Under Our Skin. He has UnderOurSkinForum.com. That's where you can go find out all the information of what's happening. Really important this weekend in Tampa Bay. UnderOurSkinForum.com.
Here's -- here's where I think people live. I came out against Black Lives Matter years ago, when it first started because I read their -- I read their manifesto.
GLENN: And it is -- it's crazy. Have you read it?
BENJAMIN: Yeah. I've gone to their website. And I can say that probably 75 percent or maybe 65 percent of the things that they stand for, I don't agree with. But then there are some things that I do.
GLENN: Correct. Right. Right. But there's a lot of stuff on there that is just anti-capitalism and has nothing to do with race.
GLENN: And so that's what I first saw. Then I met some people who were not part of the founding members. Didn't know about the charter or anything else. But were involved in the Black Lives Matter march here that ended tragically with the shooting of cops here in Dallas.
GLENN: And they were good, decent people and I listened to them.
So I wrote a deal about Black Lives Matter for the New York Times, and I said, "Hey, we have to listen to each other."
Immediately, everything in my world flipped. And now people were against me on the other side.
And what happens is -- for instance, up in Toronto -- I don't know if you saw this, the cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Toronto said white people have recessive genetic defects that need to be wiped out.
Justin Trudeau is a white supremacist terrorist. That we need to rise up and fight back. Quote, please, Allah give me strength not to cuss and kill these white folks out here today.
GLENN: How do we get -- how can we get to a place where we can have a real conversation when there are voices on one side that are absolutely racist, voices on the other side absolutely racist, and our politicians are using those people to stir -- to stir us up?
BENJAMIN: Well, one of the things you do is ask why and what and where. And so I think that's what you did. I remember reading your article. And I remember seeing the backlash that you received. But what you did was you went and you did some research. So you said, "You know what, these people -- for example, the gentleman in Toronto, he's obviously angry. Why do you think he feels this way?" And then you went on. And you looked at the charter. You learned about him. For him, learning about the history of blacks in this country. Blacks on this continent. Maybe some of the things that might have happened in his family. Whatever -- there's a reason why. Now, the way he's lashing out is not an appropriate one. But when we first see why people act the way they act, then we can address them from a human standpoint and we can see why there's upset. And maybe there's some valid reasons why they are. But what we don't have now is, you know, we see the headline, and immediately, like you said, you shut off and you label someone. And maybe they deserve to be labeled. But no one is willing to kind of be in the middle.
So the way -- people ask me all the time, what do I do, Benjamin? How do I change this thing?
And I say, "The first thing you do is you start in your living room. You start in your dining room with your family."
How do you talk about people that aren't like you in your living room at bedtime, when you're praying at night with your kids? What are you teaching them? Are you teaching them that they are no better than anyone else because of their color, or because of their economics, or because of their education, or because of their athletic ability, whatever it may be? Are you teaching them that they need the same forgiveness by the same guys -- the person across the railroad tracks need? Are you giving them a proper sense of self in the home?
Because that's where this all starts, in the home. Whether you're on the white supremacist side, whether you're like the guy in Toronto, wherever it may be. That stuff starts in the home.
And so we as parents have a responsibility to figure it out for ourselves, but also to teach our children. And then from there, you had children who are going to be change agents.
You know, when we look back over the course of our history in this country, and you look at civil rights. And you look at Jim Crow. And you look at neo-slavery, after slavery was abolished. And you look all the way up to the '70s and everything, there were people of all shades of brown, all shades of melanin count, that were -- who stood for justice.
And some of them were maligned, like you were, when you stepped out and you said, "You know, I see some of the reasons why they say what they say."
And sometimes it's going to take you getting out of your groupthink, whatever that groupthink is, black or white or in between, and be willing to stand for what's right.
GLENN: Ben, can I ask you a real honest question that I'm sure you've reflected on: You don't need this. You know, there's nothing to gain here, to, you know, sell a book. You could sell a book a million different ways. And that's already in the past.
Now, you're going to do these forums. You're going to get backlash from both sides. Why? Why are you doing this?
BENJAMIN: Well, honestly, a part of it is a groupthink. A positive groupthink. And it's the number of people who I consider to be friends, Tony Dungy, you mentioned one of them. We have pastors there. We'll have authors there. We'll have my publishing group, which Tyndale Publishers, is a big part of this, that care about this issue.
And alone, honestly, sometimes I want to throw my hands up and say, "You know what, we're just never going to like each other on a large-scale. It is what it is."
I get frustrated just like everybody else. I get backlash when I say certain things from the black community. I get backlash from the white community. You know, from non-Christians. From Christians.
GLENN: I know.
BENJAMIN: You know, it's frustrating. But when you have a group of people who say, "You know what, we're committed to this. And my job is to stand for kindness. For love and kindness. For justice. For truth. For righteousness."
Those are things that I committed my life to. And so whatever realm I can influence someone, even if it's one or two people, I'm committed to take that chance. And this is just one example. And we hope that people will join and then come to livestream.com. Obviously, if they're not in Tampa, they can tune in on livestream.com.
And we've got some good feedback. Hopefully, this thing goes well, and some people's hearts are changed. Their minds are changed. They're encouraged when it comes to this topic. And we go and do it somewhere else. Or maybe we don't. Maybe someone else does it.
GLENN: Speak specifically to someone who you want to come. Who are they? And why should they come Saturday?
BENJAMIN: Well, I want everyone to join in. People who hate blacks of everything they've done to black people in this country and their parents. People who hate blacks because they feel like, you know, they whine and complain and they're lazy. Those things they say about us. I want people to join in. I want the person that you're sitting there and you think that there's really not an issue of race, at least in your neighborhood, and everybody gets along. At our church we all hang out each other. I can't imagine anybody having problems. I want you to join too. I want the people to join that sit there and say, "I've been working over and over and over, and I've never seen any fruit from my labor when it comes to this topic. It seems like I'm getting nowhere, like I'm in quicksand." I want you to come and be encouraged.
And so it's for everyone. No matter if you're not black, if you're not white. If you're just curious. Whether you're a believer or not -- it's being held in a church. But you know what, we believe that our faith is a huge proponent and the reason why we do what we do. But we also understand that you know -- whether you're a person of faith or not, this topic is important because we all have to deal with it at some point.
GLENN: It is always good to talk to you. And I hope we get a chance to work together on something, Ben. Because I think you're an amazing man. Benjamin Watson.
BENJAMIN: I appreciate you having me.
GLENN: You bet. And go to UnderOurSkinForum.com, if you're anywhere in the Tampa Bay area. It's happening, I guess, not this weekend. It's happening on Thursday.
Tony Dungy is going to be there. Warrick Dunn will be there. Other celebrities. It will be Thursday at the Crossing Church, which is a great, great church in Tampa.
STU: He downplays how brave that is to do. I mean, to take stances that are, you know -- that disagree with kind of the way things go in the media and certainly in athletics. It's not easy to do. He's really strong-willed to do that. And he's an impressive guy.