Benjamin Watson Tackles the Racial Divide With Real Conversations

Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson joined The Glenn Beck Program on Tuesday to talk about his ongoing efforts to heal racial divides and bring people together. In addition to his book Under Our Skin, Watson will be a featured speaker at Under Our Skin: A Forum on Race and Faith, taking place this weekend in Tampa.

"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 leave 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," Watson said.

Learn more about the forum at underourskinforum.org, which also features esteemed broadcaster James Brown, Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy and former NFL Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award winner Warren Dunn, among others.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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.

PAT: Uh-huh.

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.

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

GLENN: You know him.

BENJAMIN: Uh-huh.

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.

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

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.

BENJAMIN: Uh-huh.

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.

BENJAMIN: Exactly.

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.

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

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.

BENJAMIN: Uh-huh.

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.

Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving for radical leftists. This charade goes on year after year, where decent folks across America try to enjoy and celebrate Christmas, and a few militant progressives disapprove. It's exhausting. We get it, you don't like Christmas. And that's totally fine. But entire communities of people who do like to celebrate Christmas are tired of their celebration being held hostage by an extreme minority—sometimes just one person—getting offended.

This year, a self-described “Unintentional Grinch who stole Christmas" is in the lead to win Scrooge of the Year. The principal at Manchester Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska sent her teachers a memo this week outlining all the Christmas-related items and activities that will not be allowed in their classrooms.

RELATED: Millennial parents are right to support school choice

The banned list includes:

  • Santa
  • Christmas trees
  • Elf on the Shelf
  • Singing Christmas carols
  • Playing Christmas music
  • Making an ornament as a gift
  • Any red and green items
  • Reindeer
  • And, of course, candy canes. Not because the sugar will make the children hyper, but because, as the principal explains, the candy cane is shaped like a “J" for Jesus.

She writes, “the red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection." In case you try to cheat, different-colored candy canes are not allowed either.

Why is this principal going out of her way to delete any trace of Christmas in her school? She explains:

“I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools…"

Her list, “aligns with my interpretation of our expectations as a public school who seeks to be inclusive and culturally sensitive to all of our students."

What about being culturally sensitive toward students who do celebrate Christmas?

Kids will survive if they're accidentally exposed to a Santa.

The irony here, for this principal and others who hate Christmas and the Christianity that undergirds it, is that Christmas has long existed on two parallel tracks. You've got the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ on one, and you've got the Santa Claus, secular mythology on the other. That means there is more than enough about the Christmas season that has nothing to do with Jesus if that's your thing.

You don't need a totalitarian list of forbidden things to protect the children from a 2,000-year-old holiday. Kids will survive if they're accidentally exposed to a Santa, or a Christmas carol, or—heaven forbid—a manger scene.

Avenatti bails on 2020 presidential run, leaving Biden as 'most qualified' — really?

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon

Well, that de-escalated quickly. Michael Avenatti, lawyer of Stormy Daniels, announced he will not run for president in 2020 after all. That takes the number of Democrats planning to challenge Trump down to around 724.

In a statement, Avenatti said he would still run, but he decided not to out of respect for his family's “concerns." He didn't list their concerns, but said:

“We will not prevail in 2020 without a fighter. I remain hopeful the party finds one."

Speaking of — if you've been wondering who's the most qualified person in America to be president, wonder no more. It's former vice president Joe Biden.

RELATED: Out-of-work Joe needs something to do, won't rule out 2020 run

How do we know? Because ol' Joe told us so, at a book tour stop in Montana. The 76-year-old says he'll make a decision about a 2020 bid within the next two months, which is campaign-speak for “I'm definitely running, so get out your checkbooks."

Biden admitted:

“I am a gaffe machine, but my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth."

Yeah, about that… the first time Biden ran for president, in 1987, he was actually pulling ahead of the Democratic pack until his campaign got snagged on plagiarism. He got caught lifting entire sections of a speech by Neil Kinnock, a British Labor Party candidate who ran for Prime Minister and lost to Margaret Thatcher. It wasn't just the fact that Biden copied exact sections of Kinnock's speech, he also stole biographical facts from Kinnock's life and tried to pass them off as his own — like saying his ancestors were coal miners.

The most qualified person in the country to be president? Maybe in the mind of Joe Biden.

Perhaps in the pre-Internet era, Biden thought he could get away with it. But he didn't. An adviser for Michael Dukakis' campaign saw a tape of Kinnock's speech and put together a side-by-side comparison video of Biden's plagiarizing, then sent the tape to the New York Times. As reporters dug further into the story, they found that Biden had also lifted large portions of speeches by Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Those revelations led Biden to admit he got an “F" for a course in law school after he plagiarized five pages for a term paper. Biden was caught in more lies about his academic credentials and enough embarrassments mounted that he finally withdrew from the race.

The most qualified person in the country to be president? Maybe in the mind of Joe Biden.

Saturday Night Live writer Nimesh Patel, an Emmy-nominated comedian, is the latest victim in campus culture's wacky game. Patel is the first Indian-American writer for SNL, so by the usual standards of identity politics, he should be safe. Not the case. All of the rules went out the window when he was performing a stand-up comedy set for an event called "cultureSHOCK: Reclaim" at Columbia University hosted by the Asian American Alliance.

He joked that being gay cannot be a choice because “no one looks in the mirror and thinks, 'this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.'"

RELATED: Comedy has been taken over by 'insanely self-important people like Stephen Colbert'

For one, that's less of a joke and more of a statement. It's exactly the kind of safe, pro-LGBT statement that you would think campus feminists and trans activists would squeal with glee to hear.

According to Columbia's school paper, student organizers, offended by Patel's joke, rushed the stage 30 minutes into the set and told Patel that he needed to finish his set and say a few closing remarks.

Patel argued that his jokes were not offensive, and that they were actually much-needed insights into the real world. He also made it clear that he stands in solidarity with the Asian American Alliance.

They still cut his microphone off and booted him off stage.

Patel hasn't commented on the uproar, but here are a few comments from people who were in the audience:

The Columbia Spectator quoted three students who were in the audience. One of them said:

“The message they were trying to send with the event was opposite to the jokes he was making, and using people's ethnicity as the crux of his jokes could be funny but still offensive... He definitely wasn't the most crass comedian I've ever heard but for the event it was inappropriate."

Another student said:

“I really dislike when people who are older say that our generation needs to be exposed to the real world. Obviously the world is not a safe space but just accepting that it's not and continuing to perpetuate the un-safeness of it… is saying that it can't be changed," said Jao. “When older generations say you need to stop being so sensitive, it's like undermining what our generation is trying to do in accepting others and making it safer."

The radical version of leftism that has overtaken college campuses... will eat their own without thinking twice.

The third student wasn't bothered by the jokes:

“While what some of the things that he said might have been a bit provoking to some of the audience, as someone who watches comedy a lot, none of them were jokes that I hadn't heard before and none of them were jokes that elicited such a response in my experience."

The third student is a little ray of hope in all of this, but I'm afraid that people like her are increasingly outnumbered and unwilling to speak up.

The jokes were clearly not racist or homophobic. If anything, they seem to have been designed to pander to overly sensitive campus activists who all too often cry “racist" and “homophobic" and all their other insults.

It just goes to show that the left, particularly the radical version of leftism that has overtaken college campuses, will stop at nothing to push its postmodern narrative. They'll spare nobody. And they will eat their own without thinking twice.

Forbes recently described student loan debt as the $1.5 trillion crisis, adding that "Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category - behind only mortgage debt - and higher than both credit cards and auto loans," which is affecting 44 million borrowers in the U.S.

There's also the cultural effect that college is having, the indoctrination that young people are being subjected to. More and more powerful people are recognizing that college as an institution is a problem.

Last Friday, Peter Thiel gave a keynote speech at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Collegiate Network editors' conference. He told a roomful of 100 students:

Universities today are as corrupt as the Catholic Church of 500 years ago. At some point, if it's 100 to zero, you start to suspect you're in North Korea. Does the unanimity mean you've gotten to the truth, or does it mean you're in a totalitarian state. We have this illusion that all sorts of important decisions have been decided.

He added:

We are not on the losing side of history. The other side is on the losing side. The reformation is going to happen, and it won't come from within, but from the outside.

Thiel has worked actively to bring about the change that he's talking about here. The lawsuit he led against Gawker helped topple their empire of filth and lowest-level journalism. He has also created The Thiel Fellowship, which "gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom. The idea that we are on the losing side is a form of psychological warfare."

We're not on the losing side. Not in the slightest.

And he's right. We're not on the losing side. Not in the slightest. We're on the up-and-up. Things are only going to get better from here.