Brittany Ferrell

UMSL Digital Humanities: Oral History
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´╗┐Dr. Obermark 0:27 Also, I have you know questions I thought about ahead of time but we'll definitely try to open this up so we can all, you know

Dr. Obermark 0:34 You might have specific questions that I would not have thought of asking either so obviously your name since we're recording.

Brittany Ferrell 0:41 My name is Brittany Ferrell.

Dr. Obermark 0:43 Well thank you for coming. Brittany.

Sure no problem

Unknown 0:47 And you're an UMSL student as well.

I am graduating this year.

Are you?

yea, in December.

Congratulations

Thank you.

Thats exciting

Dr. Obermark 0:58 I will start with a really general question for you that I kind of start whenever I, I've been trying to do some interviews with a lot of different people surrounding Ferguson and the ways that literacy language and communication shape their experiences with engaging about Ferguson in a variety of ways. And I'm just curious if you can tell us how you see yourself as using language or literacy to engage with the in the work that you do to engage with the community.

Language is a really big part of how we connect with different people involved in the movement. We have to connect with law enforcement, we have to connect with like mayors and council men, but we also have to connect with the people of the community.

Brittany Ferrell 1:42 When I took your class I did a presentation on call switching. Yeah, it's a certain perception that people have of you, depending on the kind of language that you use on both sides. You know, you go into a meeting with the city manager or mayor, or anyone else that may be in some type of position or power. You have to use language and communicate in the way of which they will respect you, not only as like a human being or a person but as someone who's intelligent or educated. And, unfortunately, your level of education, or what will be perceived as your level of education, is it gives you value. You know, it gives your, what you have to say, your opinions. It gives it all value that you would otherwise not have.

Brittany Ferrell 2:41 If you don't understand the power of language and how to use and manipulate it to get your message across. So, same thing as going into the communities, you know, people in the communities, do not connect with the way that you speak to them if it's not familiar if it doesn't sound like you are for the people, you know, a lot of times you go into communities, and you use.

Brittany Ferrell 3:08 It's kind of like so my major is nursing right.

Brittany Ferrell 3:12 And we have to study how to communicate with people who are not educated to understand certain medical vernacular we have to learn how to reach people where they're at. Right. And if you, if you talk to, let's say we talk to people in a way in which they will agree and say they understand that they have no idea what you just said, you know, if you communicate with people in the community in a way that they don't understand, they will either agree and have no idea what you just said, or they will associate you with being on the other side. You don't speak our language, you know, so it's all very important in how you communicate in the language that you use on both sides, and doing this work, and I've learned that even with like the people of the community. A lot of times it's certain way, you have to not only approach them but a certain language that you have to use.

Dr. Obermark 4:19 Do you feel like you know you were already like you know pretty far along in your college career you're pretty savvy writer and communicator before you got involved in this movement, but it seems like you feel like just being involved she's learned a lot more about language and communication,

oh yeah, oh yeah, and I've always known that, I mean just culturally it's different ways to communicate with different cultures. But over the past eight months.

Brittany Ferrell 4:52 It has just really, it has really just jumped out at me in regards to like, how we use different methods of language and communication. So, um, it's definitely enhanced my view on on that.

Yeah, it seems like you would get to put it like you said like I knew it, like I knew it but you weren't always you get to put so much more into practice.

Yeah, absolutely,

you know, and then my theories and the way that all this kind of stuff is going to read theorize how we view communication overall, I think that a lot of the movements that are happening right now.

Dr. Obermark 5:30 When we look back in 20 years from today, were going to be like, oh yeah and then this happened. And we thought about language and communication is looked at Totally differently,

yeah,

something that comes up a lot in what you talk about too, which I think connects to like some of the ways I've been rethinking language and communication, like you. And a lot of the media that I've read that you've spoken and you talked about how you kind of want the, you don't want the movement that's come out of Ferguson or come with Millennial activists united to be viewed as coming from one person. And that seems like in the history of rhetoric, often is traced back to one. Oh, Aristotle, he started rhetoric it's like trace back this kind of history of great speakers are often great white men speakers, we have this canon. Okay. And in this class I think we tried to say, Oh, this canon exists but we got to problematize this cannon, a lot too. So I just, I think it's interesting this idea of how, if you could talk more about that idea of the movement is not just based in one person.

Yeah, it's called group sensor leadership. It's a way to center groups on our league so a lot of times we go into spaces and either the police are the person in charge or the who's the leader, and everybody raises their hand and it really it's really frustrating for them. But the reality of it is is there is no one central leader, you're not going to find your MLK in this movement, you know, you're just not, it just does not exist.

Brittany Ferrell 6:59 And what's important about that is,

Brittany Ferrell 7:06 we have this message.

Brittany Ferrell 7:10 That has to be communicated. And we're not just talking to white politicians, you know,

Brittany Ferrell 7:19 we're not just talking to white people in general, we are talking to everyone. You know, and there is

Brittany Ferrell 7:34 with group sensor leadership. It's a collective voice, people are saying the same message in different ways. You know, when we were building millennial activists united we were talking about having an artistic component to it. And there was like, Well, why this is a movement we're fighting for, you know, freedom for black folks, you know, black liberation why. Who has time to paint Who has time to write. Who has time to photograph.

Brittany Ferrell 8:09 And my point was art is a language. Some people may not understand what the heck we're doing. If we don't speak this language this particular language, you know, so, in these hundreds of young people who are all leaders, they have an individual way of communicating and individual like method language of communication. And it's important that we see all of that, you know, instead of us, making it central to one person who stands on a podium and says, all of these wonderful great things that everybody might not be able to connect to. So, the leadership, that puzzles everyone now, you know, it just doesn't make sense for everyone now I feel later down the down the road. It will make perfect sense.

Brittany Ferrell 9:09 And it. I think it's very effectively in keeping the momentum of what's happening. Because you can't just take one person out, and it's going to be over. You know, the language will still carry on. And I think that's the most frustrating thing about it a lot of times it's when we go places you know who's the leader you can't lock all this up now. You know you can't arrest all of us now. You know I'm saying and everybody voice has a certain amount of power to it, because everybody's paying attention to each person out there.

Brittany Ferrell 9:43 So it carries a lot of weight in the way that things are happening now.

Dr. Obermark 9:49 It seems like we can't even like be here talking about this today without talking about Baltimore protected.

Right, absolutely.

And so when you're talking about this group centered leadership and you're kind of talking about.

Dr. Obermark 10:03 I don't know the sort of ripple effect that kind of comes from those collective voices and the power that's in there so do you think it definitely I see where you're saying totally whether that makes a lot of sense to the collectivity. In the local scene and when you're at places and how frustrating that can be even in a really powerful way.

Dr. Obermark 10:19 Do you think that

Dr. Obermark 10:22 because the movement is also part of different cities so like I don't have does this carry over to stuff like in Baltimore, how do we all these things are network, we're talking about networks in this class, all public issues are networked and overlapping. So, does this what you're talking about the leadership that you've been involved in that was that that you're doing, how does that then ripple out to these other locations where, you know, Black Lives still don't matter right so gotta keep calling attention to that.

Well in Baltimore, for example, a lot of folks from here, and LA, and New York.

Brittany Ferrell 10:58 They've been I think they all got into to Baltimore yesterday. So, people that did not know each other. Eight months ago, built relationships with one another because we all have this common, this commonality with one another and a goal in which we wish to seeking that work they were doing. So, as soon as the uprising happened in Baltimore.

Brittany Ferrell 11:24 Folks went in, immediately. And

Brittany Ferrell 11:30 the great part about that is, I think, when this type of stuff first happens. People think that they're supposed to be one meter so they're looking for the leader, they're like, who is going to take charge you know , i saw it happen happened in Ferguson, I saw it happen. You know, it was everyone's instinct. So if someone says hey we're about to do this that person automatically becomes the leader, you know, so in Baltimore. I'm pretty sure someone's looking for the leader. The great thing about folks coming in from different places is they'll say, You're all leaders. And so then people are like, really, you know, okay. So let's talk about what our goal is here. You know, let's talk about how we've been asking for things for years and years and years and years and years and we can't keep asking. You know, so, so it instills a sense of power in individuals, the support that has came together. Over the years, you know, because people didn't just start coming into certain cities when Ferguson happened, you know, these, these are people that have understood what we have not for years, you know, and they come in they educate you on how you are a leader. This is your movement, and you can't rely on someone to come and do this work for you can't do it yourself, you want to, you know, make a make a change, bring attention to the oppression that you live in it, you know. So it's not what you see here. I feel you will see in other cities.

Brittany Ferrell 13:27 It's just a domino effects like it's happened here now, it's going to happen there and it's going to happen there, you know, but it's not something that's innate in us such as. Oh, that's uprise together, you know, it's something that has to be trained and taught.

Dr. Obermark 13:50 Thats a really good point. Im going to ask one more kind of general question and if you have questions to get in on this but one of the things that I think that I'm, and you've touched on this a little bit especially you brought up code switching specifically.

Dr. Obermark 14:02 And a lot of you know interviews I read with you or when I talked to you are listening to Alexis talk at the...I do, I lead a discussion panel about feminism, as the F word but thinking about how identity shapes how we use language right and that seems really important in a lot of the work that you do. I'm thinking as your identity first as a black woman. So if you could talk about yeah how identity has shaped how you've used language in the movement or shaped anything you've done I mean that's a big question, but we've talked, we get a whole unit kind of in here about identity and rhetoric and looking at you know traditions of African American rhetoric upcoming traditions of queer rhetoric feminist rhetoric, all that kind of good stuff.

Dr. Obermark 14:46 And that seems like something that I can see as a really powerful part of what you're doing, as an activist Oh, yeah, your identity, how does that come into play your various identities.

Brittany Ferrell 14:56 I'm had like so many intersections. So, um, language I use it just various you know i i occupy some of these spaces I'm a black woman, I'm a woman I'm queer, I'm a mother I you know I'm very untraditional in a lot of ways.

Brittany Ferrell 15:22 And the language that I use.

Brittany Ferrell 15:28 It reflects out that, you know, it really does and a lot of people, a lot of times are really confused as to why I. Some people say carry myself a certain way, you know, but it's just, it's kind of a part of who I am. Kind of like you know my hair texture is a part of who I am my skin tones a part of who I am. The language I speak is a part of who I am. And it's uncompromising, you know,

Brittany Ferrell 16:04 it's, it's almost like

Brittany Ferrell 16:11 it's just it's just one of those things that

Brittany Ferrell 16:16 it just comes with the package.

Brittany Ferrell 16:21 And what was the question

I think that you're getting at a lot of it already. one thing I wonder.

Dr. Obermark 16:27 We talk sometimes about how does it feel when you're in a situation when you feel like you have to go to switch. Do you ever feel like you're suppressing certain parts of your identity to meet the needs of certain audiences,

you know when that is a very interesting question because we had this conversation with some folks in the community who are doing the same work and a lot of a lot of folks are so used to operating under oppression in a way to where, you know, it's almost like they feel like I'm not going to ask for anything anymore that I just should have as a human being born here. I should have, you know, food I should have water I should have safety I should I should have, you know, the ability to walk and not be a threat, you know, so we've been having people that have been like had that I've had this attitude of. I'm sick of being sick and tired, but they're so used to like operating in the current system that the way that they present when it's time to put these things on the table, it does become an ask, because of the language that they are so used to speaking, you know, and it's like they don't realize it, ask, you know, it's like you can't ask just be able to just be, you know, but it become, it becomes that because they begin to like suppress their anger or their frustration or their tiredness, you know they suppress it because I have to be a certain amount of respectable if I'm going to be taken seriously. So even though I'm absolutely furious and I'm just tired and my kids are hungry and I'm hungry. And, you know, I feel like worthless. I'm gonna still suppress those parts of me. When we're actually presented in the face of people who are in positions of power you know so there are folks that suppress parts of themselves, still unknowingly. I don't do that, you know, I've come to. I've come to accept the fact that what I do. Outside of, you know, the profession that I've chosen is not respectable work in terms of white supremacist standards, it's just not. And I understand that with that comes threats of Calling my employer it comes threats of calling my scholarship donors, it comes with threats of making me look bad and tarnishing my image and calling me an anti white anti white racist and, you know, these are all things that have really really happened to me. You know, people have went to the offices of my scholarship donors they have called the Board of Nursing, you know they've done all of these things to me so and I know that I expect that, you know, but what people fail to realize is, whatever you knew about me before August. What you did not know was that when it came time to stand up for what was right when it came to do something, you know, for, for people, including myself and my child, who had been oppressed for years and years and years and years and finally apprise and say, you know, you know I'm sick of it.

Brittany Ferrell 20:08 I'm not going to turn my back and say you know what it's a better way to do this because you know maybe it's not, you know, and I think people are like oh my gosh, you know that girl has the opportunity to do this with her future and she's just throwing it away by being out here being a thug, you know, because now that's that's what I, that's what I'm seen as because I have not divided myself from there my community I'm considered a thug with everyone else. You know, so I've already, I knew what I was in for, you know, I knew that the same white folks that sign my scholarship so that I can go to school and finish my degree are going to be the same ones that are like I don't want any parts of this because it's going to make me look bad. But I'm not afraid of that. When it's expected and I know that this is something that I might have to face down the road. I'm not afraid of that you cannot scare me out of doing what's right. And I think now at this point, a lot of people just don't know what to do with me.

Brittany Ferrell 21:05 You know I've been in meetings with my deans, and they was like well you need to just tone it down a little bit.

Brittany Ferrell 21:13 And I'm like, Ah, I see where this is going. You know, so it's it's it's literally.

Brittany Ferrell 21:24 I don't know what to tell you.

Brittany Ferrell 21:28 I don't know what to say. But I cannot and I will not act like I don't see the unjust that has been happening in this country for years and act like it's okay. And I'm different. I'm not different, to people who look at me and have no idea who I am, I'm not different, you know, so

that's interesting that you've been like that there's been at least moments where you're just trying to like silenced even by an educational institution where they clearly like it's just silence of course being the other side of language and rhetoric, as we've talked about some too like that's just I just blows my mind that basically they really just if you can just be a little quieter about everything tone it down.

Dr. Obermark 22:12 I don't know what that seemed to imply about the way you're using language or the way you're communicating with people.

Brittany Ferrell 22:19 And our language, if you use it the right way and if you allow your power it's very threatening. Yeah, to the status quo, it just is.

Brittany Ferrell 22:29 And the best way to resolve that is to shut people up. Right.

Unknown 22:36 when you think about... something we have not really talked about much in this class. I never talk about this enough in classes but thinking about the ways that it's implied a lot but the methods that language has always also been used to keep people out and to segregate things like you know literacy tests for voting, things like that have existed always in forever. And so as much as we seem to get a lot of like the power of language, a lot of we're talking about kind of . Yeah, language has done a lot of violence, for a really long time to cover, you're turning that around to some extent but the status quo. So, yeah, there's still a lot of status both things that go along with language. I give it to me and I open it up a little bit. I've definitely been dominating

Dr. Obermark 23:21 I've been I feel like you want to say something.

Unknown 23:24 I just couldn't say when I so when I hear the word activism or activists, I think like the same way that I think about rhetoric or feminism, because like this, loaded word that people have stereotypes about or they sort of have this like murky understanding of what it means. But it's hard to maybe, define. So I guess my question was, like, what does that mean to you when you say I'm an activist or what is it how do you find activism.

I think activism is just it's it's actually, it's not just something that you do. It's actually a lifestyle that you live, you know it's a very righteous.

Brittany Ferrell 24:01 Okay, so you have, what is it what are they call out the Tea Partiers Yeah, who, who are activists, and you have you have like people that protect animals and you have you know. So,

Brittany Ferrell 24:17 I think activism in a lot of ways is standing strong and standing firmly in what you believe in, and working towards working towards whatever that is, in a very vocal out in the open way. Not all activism is righteous.

Brittany Ferrell 24:39 A lot of it is, but a lot of it is not. I think activism gets murky when you talk about amendments, and what you have the right to do. And it becomes oh it's my right to say this, because, you know, I have that right and you can't take it away. But then there's this thin line of righteousness where it's like, but what you're saying is, you know, divisive oppressive it's unjust it's not fair you know it's just not right. And then you have the other side where it's where it's.

Brittany Ferrell 25:18 I just want my basic needs met. You know, I just want to feel safe, I just want to you know so it's activism it's just like it's a very broad term, but I think it's just a firm stance on whatever it is that you believe should be done whatever you, we are willing to work and dedicate your time and your life to achieve that. And, yeah, so it's. When I hear the word now. I just wait for everybody's face in the room so like like, you know, but

Brittany Ferrell 25:52 I know that on that spectrum of activism.

Brittany Ferrell 25:57 I'm on the righteous side.

Brittany Ferrell 25:59 You know, so

Unknown 26:07 this concept of, they're all being leaders, because it kind of reminds me of anonymous.

Unknown 26:14 So you can't throw a person assassinate somebody and die but then at the same time there are still peers because you're being interviewed by press outlets. Other people are being interviewed have more attention have more Twitter followers, maybe even the same cause, just as good boss or not. So there are leaders to choose either I can really eliminate leaders and

Unknown 26:44 an even brought up your continuing education to PhD would be for the purpose of getting your voice heard.

Unknown 26:51 And that's how you reconcile that to make sure that you're not silencing anybody else's voice. Right.

Brittany Ferrell 27:04 Well, I think that just because of the society that we live in.

Brittany Ferrell 27:10 So when I say we ...... I mean people doing this work, everybody has called a shot at one point, everybody has the power to say this is what we're doing. And this is why we're doing it, and everybody be like okay, we're doing it, you know so

Brittany Ferrell 27:29 intercommunal leadership. Is everyone okay.

Brittany Ferrell 27:38 me and Alexis we're talking about how, when the media gets involved, or when outsiders looking in gets involved.

Brittany Ferrell 27:47 Oddly, they pick who they think might be the most articulate, you know, who they think might be good in front of a camera. There's something that I call pretty privileged now that I noticed, you know, one that is appealing to the eye is now put in front of the camera versus the ones that don't fit into that category.

Brittany Ferrell 28:15 Um, I noticed that in the movement, a lot of black women do not conform to European beauty standards at all. So then you just knock it down a level, well who's pretty at least, you know, who has nice teeth. As you know, who speaks and enunciates it's their words you know so they see who they want to put in the media to make the movement either look good, or look really bad. So, it's

Brittany Ferrell28:48 within the movement we know that there are no centralized leadership leaders, no centralized leadership, outside of the movement looking in, people are gonna try to make a leader. You know, I think what's important is knowing that everybody doing the work they have a unified message. So you can pick all you want, but the message is going to be the same. You know, and a lot of times people put people in front of cameras thinking that they're going to get one thing. And it's another because the message remains the same. You know, it's the reason why you picked me because you thought that you were getting something else. But you got wrong, and now you don't ever call me again and that's great, you know, so that's that's kind of what it's like society wants to make a leader. They want to make one. I think when they give that person in this is just, I feel like natural for, they'll give someone a little bit of gas. You know you're a leader, you're great leader oh my god how long have you been doing this, you know you're very influential you have so much power, and they think that that person will immediately rise to the podium, but it's like yeah thanks That's wonderful, but this is group centered leadership there are hundreds of other leaders that I work with, you know, it's just not. It's just not working and when that one person does, you know, drink the Kool Aid.

Brittany Ferrell 30:14 We're like, wait a minute, you know let's, let's get back to where we started, because this is, this is how they're going to break us, you know, this is how they're going to tear us down. And, and in the community, we have the power to like snap you back to reality. You know, so that's that's that's often the love and support that we have from one another and.

Unknown 30:37 (too quiet)

that's how that our older people are used to thinking, you know he comes from a generation of MLK and.

Unknown 31:17 Yeah.

Unknown 31:22 Do you ever find that your age is a hindrance to people and to having people in positions of power take you seriously, I think it's really interesting how congressional leaders. Anyone senate Congress, people in positions of power have to be older and how children, adolescents, young adults are taken seriously. Do you find that, how do you combat that have you found it to be a problem,

I don't, I mean I know that because of the way things have been for so long.

Brittany Ferrell 31:58 It's hard to get a lot of people to budge on on how they view younger people, just like it's hard to get them to change their perspective on women, or people of color, you know, but the thing is is, I am pushing so hard against the status quo. If I come into your space, and I'm challenging you on something that I think should be changed or should be different. I already know that you are going to think that since I'm younger my voice doesn't really matter.

Brittany Ferrell 32:29 But I know that because I really don't care what you think, or how long these, these certain things have been in place where they kind of like marginalize young people and marginalized women and marginalized people of color.

Brittany Ferrell I'm gonna continue to do what I'm doing and how I'm doing it because I cannot feel. I don't think I can feel like it's a challenge that I'm a young black woman, and expect for people to respect me anymore. You know I go into spaces knowing that I'm a young black woman and I just don't care. I care about what you think, you know, because this is me pushing back on you, me, my presence. Being here is me pushing back on you. Before I even open my mouth. So, you know, I challenged that just by being there. And I think that challenge is that that challenge is just even being there having the ability to present to you in the way that I do is enough pushback. To where anything that you think, or anything that you thought before I walked through the door. I don't care about it,

Unknown ( Too Quiet)

Brittany Ferrell That's actually a really big thing that we've been educating folks about in the community.

Unknown So we have this Women's March. On Saturday, on Sunday. It was Sunday and the banner that you saw. Stop taking black women's spaces black woman lives matter that banner was to speak to that issue.

Brittany Ferrell So, we

Brittany Ferrell black men, there's been this term going around called black male privilege, black male privilege. Okay, so people have very different opinions about it. I think black male privilege, only exists inner communally. That's it does not exist outside of the black community.

Brittany Ferrell And the black community, you have the privilege of being a man in your word holding way more weight than black woman, or your actions we unjustified way more than black woman's or.

Brittany Ferrell or something tragic happening. It'd been, you know lifted up, way more than black women.

Brittany Ferrell And then in society as a whole, you have male privilege.

Brittany Ferrell While Black men don't benefit from privilege in general in society as a whole, they still benefit from male privilege, anything that happens to men. It's lifted up, way more than women. Except white women, but you know black men too it's like it's lifted up, way more.

Brittany Ferrell It's still a patriarchal society that we live in, it's still a heteronormative society that we live in a cisgendered society that we live in. So, when black women who bear the brunt of a lot of stuff that happens in in our community. And in society in general, when something happens. Unless you are familiar with violence against people of color, it will go under the radar, because they're not men, it doesn't fit into this patriarchal normative headline of, of, have open season on black men, you know, so it kind of just gets it gets missed, and

Brittany Ferrell it's not okay. It's not okay for black woman to be heading a movement, you know, the majority of black women are heading with sparked in Ferguson, and it was for the murder of a young black man. And when we're out there the names that are lifted up are usually young black man. Unless, women are like, what about you know tonisha Anderson, you know like, what about these black women that have been slain, but go unrecognized because their deaths are not seen as a tragedy, you know they don't make headlines. So then you have to educate people to dig a little bit deeper than what they see in the news or newspaper because this is violence against people of color. It's the violence against black communities, and we cannot continue to ignore black woman like they're not being killed by the police or vigilantes, you cannot continue to ignore transgender women like they're not being killed by vigilantes, you know, so I think what we plan on doing in the future is some political education workshops, because I don't think people have begun to connect the dots and now you know this affects all of us, you know, I mean, even when, let's say the focus is the murder of black men. What about their black mothers that bore them into this world, you know like, who questions that you know so it's like, even if that is your focus. It affects so much more than just black men and you have to like broaden this narrative, because patriarchy will get the best of you and you're just as oppressed as we are, you know, but it's like that little, little slip of power that you can get by knowing that society is patriarchal, you're going to take it, because it makes you feel like, Well at least I have this this power, and it's like no we're all in the same cesspool right now, you know like we all have to get out of this. So, a lot of. It's been a lot of work around organizing to educate, I talked to someone last night, who has just been spewing all kinds of, like, patriarchal crap in how, you know, black women arent being killed by the cops. You don't know any better, like, you need to know, you know, so I even though it's frustrating to me and I'm upset. I know that you don't know. So, we have to tell you, you know, and then he was super apologetic and like, oh my gosh I really did not even know about that. I did, I had no idea you know so we have to fix it.

Dr. Obermark Im going to ask one closing question if you guys don't have any. Okay. Okay so, um, we're thinking a little about here like we keep coming up last few weeks coming up as this term rhetorical education so like how we teach people about communication and how we teach them about the power of language and the danger of language, all that kind of stuff. And it seems to strictly be sort of like something that's generally we notice that it is more it happens more in the academy, you know that like oh this is all just kind of stuff we talked about in university.

Dr. Obermark So I don't know if you were to have any advice for teachers or for people that, you know, want to draw attention to the ways that we teach people about language like, how can we do a better job with generally giving like everybody, a better education incommunication. Or have we done a better job. Another way of asking this, or another version of that might be like, how can we really start to bridge, like the public and the academic here just even. You made a comment to about the ways that like. Fergusons happened in umsls backyard.

Dr. Obermark But they've been a pretty distance reaction to it right yeah, so, um, besides the fact that like so many people involve students so maybe the question I'm trying to ask is how can we start to build better bridges between somewhere like a university and surrounding communities that aren't just sort of like that aren't these typical. I think in the past, there's been there's like savior narratives that go with universities and communities like, oh, let us bring the university to you and save you and help you when clearly that's not the way you know that the university has a lot to learn from what's going on. Yeah, I'm gonna concern communities are there ways we can build better bridges.

I think the question I think, do we want to this is a really great question. You know we always we've been saying for months that silence is violence. I have a bone to pick with the university because they've been too silent. You know, and that is violence for a community in which you take up so much space. And I think what people just really undermined the importance of cultural competence. You know, we talk about it with police officers, we talk about it in the medical field. It's just a thing that people need to know in general, is cultural competence. It's no way that you can take up communities of color. By, acres and not be familiar with the community in which you are dwelling in. You know, there is no way that you can have conversations about what's happening in Ferguson or Baltimore or Oakland or LA, or, or, or, you know, you cannot have those conversations and not have people that have had those experiences at the table, because your privileged experience in no way shape or form or shape can connect to what's actually happening in reality, these are people's realities, you know, but people want to have these conversations and say, what should be done and what could be done and. But no, actually it can't be done, you know why because we're even fighting for our voice right now, you know if no one can hear us, then how can anything that you think should or would or you could or whatever do. It's not effective. So having people at the table that lives these experiences that are built into these experiences to help you connect the dots with now as my privilege and with my power. What can we do, you know, so it's about connecting with people.

Brittany Ferrell Having that cultural competence in how to do that, you know, in understanding that, you know, this is not this is not just something that happened, and go away. I just continue to carry on with my regular life, like it's it's work.

Brittany Ferrell You know it truly is work. I think a lot of people are really just shocked and shook at the fact that it happened, because this is stuff that you read about, you know, if it makes it into a textbook. You know this is stuff that you read about, and you studied it and you read papers on it and you talk about how it relates to, you know, this leader or, you know, the progress that you've made in America and what happened when they dumped it into the harbor you know so it's like you have these conversations and you read about it and then when you are living through such a movement, we are living through such an uprising. It's like, Oh, well, this is ridiculous. Mind you, it happened 50 years ago. Mind you, that America was became independent and a right, even though from a riot, you know, my let's let's remind you of how you know when Tea was being thrown into the harbor no one was like Oh, there they go to another to a. That's just such a shame. All those tax dollars, you know like, no one did that, you know, so it's like, let's, let's just be reminded of where we came from. Let's, let's be realistic about the progress that we've made. You know, let's talk about how much more work we have to do, and what that means and how many barricades we have to tear down and how we have to push back and question. These policies and the way that the system is set up and how many people are blocked out, you know, so it's being realistic, it's just, it's been in a lot of times you have to subject yourself to vulnerability and discomfort, to have those kind of conversations to even begin to have them you have to, or else they won't go anywhere. You know, I have not had a conversation yet with anyone that was not black, whether they were Hispanic or white, or Asian or whatever, and not have said, you know, the first step to even understanding this is to make yourself uncomfortable. You know, it's not a personal attack. And when when things are being said about like white people or white supremacy, it's not personal. It's, it's the institution itself, you just happen to benefit from it, when other people don't. Your voice just seen it just has a little bit more weight than other people whose voices are not even heard you know so when people were pushing and saying, use your privilege use your privilege. They're simply asking use your voice. You know, that's it. And a lot of people just get really uneasy with that and makes them feel really bad, you know, and then we get into this thing with like the oppression Olympics, you know, black people aren't the only people being oppressed in this world. You know we have occupation in Palestine, we have people in Africa. We have people all over this world, you know, in the Middle East, people are being oppressed, they really really are. But this is not the oppression Olympics, you can speak out for black life, just like you speak out with Israel. Just like you speak out with Syria, you know, when you speak out against injustice when you speak out against what you think is wrong.

Brittany Ferrell It's very broad, you know, I mean, and I think I've been talking to one of my, I developed a really close friend with a rabbi in St. Louis area. And Jewish this core, you know, and she's been getting a lot of pushback from her congregation because she will not speak up for Israel.

Brittany Ferrell She doesn't condone it, she thinks it's wrong. And she's in the movement and she said there's no way I can take a stand for black life and say that state violence is wrong in the an advocate for the wrong, that I think my own people are doing, I just won't do it. I won't take aside.

Brittany Ferrell You know, so it's like you have to. If you're going to speak out against injustice, speak out against injustice but don't feel like you have to take aside, or take a fight or be silenced. That's not how it works. You know I feel like if you're going to advocate against something wrong you speak out and you speak out and you stand firmly and what you believe in. All of these are touchy subjects I expect none of them to be comfortable at all. You know, and that's just how I feel. If I have to walk around every day of my life being uncomfortable, you know, a moment in history for people to be uncomfortable to talk about oppression and to talk about things that are wrong is not gonna kill you been doing it all my life. You know, and that's just the reality of it.

Unknown You're talking about asking her about education communications education, blah, she was talking about, we get, we're going to give political education and cultural communication education workshops to people. That's a rhetorical education at the University ....

Unknown 17:00 Yeah. Right. Exactly right. Right, absolutely right that yeah, that there is rhetorical as you yeah like I feel like there's so many awesome productive better than the university site over to a bunch of minority out there doing a lot of this work.

Dr. Obermark As someone that spent so much time in university. I always feel like, well, I want to do a better job of making these connections across academic and public spheres, but I don't know I don't know if that's the move or not you know but yeah I think there are all these sites so we talked a little bit about this last week of like what I think it was extra curricular rhetorical education rhetorical education is by no means just the domain of the Academy.