What do economic and community development, healthcare, and education all have in common? Hint: for under-resourced communities, the answer isn't equity. Want to help bridge the gaps but don't know how? Today, James speaks with trailblazer Karen Hunter—host of Sirius XM's "The Karen Hunter Show"—and Eric Glass, Senior Portfolio Manager of Muni-Impact Strategies at AB, about investing and acting with intention to impact the social change we want to see. All hands on deck, minds, and dollars to work.
00:00 - 00:21
I used to watch Vampire Diaries and the vampires would turn off their humanity, and I just wish everyone would turn on their humanity and realize that we can't survive separately. This is Changing the Trajectory. I'm your host, James Thompson. Bernstein's Head of Diverse Market Strategy.
00:21 - 00:54
I'm joined today by Karen Hunter of Sirius XM's The Karen Hunter Show, and Eric Glass, a portfolio manager of Muni Impact Strategies here at AllianceBernstein. I'm really excited to have a very interesting conversation, to say the least. I think the three of us are influencers in our own right with respect to social impact. And I love to jump into that dialogue to see what's kind of keeping us up at night when we think about the impact and the disproportionate things that are happening in our lives, especially in 2020, and have a very real conversation about what can we do about that.
00:54 - 01:06
Now, Karen, I don't I don't want to take anything away from you and the amazing career you've had. But please, please share a little bit about yourself and your background with the listeners. No one, nothing can be taken from me.
01:06 - 01:22
I can only give it to you. You know what I am more than anything, is somebody that wants to see the world better when I leave than when I came in. So from everything that I do, the goal is to teach, inspire, motivate others to be their best selves.
01:22 - 01:54
And as I was saying before, the notion is how can I feed people every day? So whether it's in the classroom at Hunter College, which I've been teaching there now for 18 years, before that in my youth, before that, Harlem High School kids on a Saturday, teaching them English grammar, or on the radio, which is an extension of the classroom where every day for three hours I get to disseminate not what's really happening in the world, but what's happening in your life and using the perspective of real world events to get you to think about how can I make a difference?
01:54 - 02:27
And the ultimate goal is I want everyone in my life to be wealthy and healthy so that they can leave me alone. No, seriously. Because when people are doing well, they don't borrow money. If they're healthy and happy, they're not calling you to complain. And you just get to live your life freely when you have good, healthy people around you living their lives freely. So that's really that's. How about you, Eric? I think that as far as I'm concerned, I've lived a interesting career. I had certain tensions with my career as it relates to basically helping and empowering community.
02:27 - 02:59
I very much got sidetracked. I very much got lost. And then I found myself and I found what I wanted to do. I found my authentic voice. And I use that voice every day to make and direct investments in community that reduce some disparity that exists. And I love what I do. I get up every day and I feel incredibly fortunate and incredibly self actualized. And that did not come easy. If people want to join me for this ride, I welcome people to do that.
02:59 - 03:23
My God, it's impact investing. It's working to change and expedite the environmental and social change that I want to see in the world. I'm just trying to use the skills that I've developed over time to change the way in which the investment world has thought about making contributions to community, specifically, historically under-resourced communities. That investment world is changing.
03:23 - 03:35
I've been in the industry now 22 years and I never thought I would be in a position to have this conversation in this way in an industry that has not really embraced what we're all about.
03:35 - 04:04
But what's evolved certainly through the efforts of folks like Eric and myself, is that the face of that wealth looks much different. We have an opportunity to influence people, to leverage their assets and resources, to do things that are more impactful, recognize that in the work I do, engaging multicultural investors, there are certainly some gaps where historically folks that look like you and I, Karen, have been underengaged, underserved, underappreciated by the industry.
04:04 - 04:06
But that does not tell the whole story.
04:06 - 04:40
There are folks that look like you and I that are influencers. We have businesses, we are wealthy, and we have an opportunity to kind of to take a punt on the show title, change the trajectory of what that wealth impact, that influence looks like. So I smile at the fact that I'm having a podcast episode with you, Karen, because I think a lot of the things that you've done and are doing literally has blazed the trail for many folks. And I appreciate individuals like yourself who has a platform to be very authentic, to use your platform to influence people to think differently and impact change.
04:40 - 04:50
What we've done for a lot of this year is we focused on some of the discrepancies in the socioeconomic environment. And I do want to get your thoughts.
04:50 - 05:19
Just about 2020 in general, things that I care about the most involve economic and community development, healthcare, education, closing a wealth gap that is steadily widening. I'm interested, Karen, just to get your thoughts on what this year has looked like to you personally, and then what role do you see yourself in addressing the challenges that you find most challenging to you? First, when I think about wealth, the color of money comes to mind.
05:19 - 05:43
And then there's a book I read last year that features six Black millionaires before the end of enslavement. And I didn't learn about these people in school, but there were more than 19 plus communities that were decimated in what they called race riots, all very successful, including Seneca Falls and Central Park that got overtaken by public domain. I think about that and those stories not being told.
05:43 - 06:05
Jeremiah Hamilton, who was deemed the Prince of Darkness of Wall Street in the early 1800s, a Wall Street magnate, Marilena Walker, Mary Ellen Pleasant, Robert Church. And as we head into 2020 with the 8 minutes and 46 seconds and a pandemic on top of it, 8 minutes and 46 seconds, of course, being the life span that we got to watch George Floyd lose his.
06:05 - 06:39
I look at this year as an opportunity to re-educate, to reimagine, to walk into purpose, to no longer apologize for existing, but also recognizing that this world, not just this country, because George Floyd's murder reverberated way beyond these borders, because justice is not a border thing. And for me personally, I said, wow, I've always been unapologetic, but now I'm going to take it to the next level, because this world needs each and every one of us, just like our fingerprints are unique to show up in the world as our authentic self.
06:40 - 07:11
So as we scramble to try to make people comfortable, we're actually doing a disservice to the very thing that we want to see happen. So my job and my mission is to make sure that as many people become as uncomfortable as possible over the next several years, that I have the opportunity to talk to them. That's the goal. And by discomfort, I mean, everything that you thought, you know, is all wrong. And here's why. And I'm going to tell you, and you may not like it and you may squirm about it.
07:11 - 07:34
Everything should be reimagined. And I think 2020 is given us an opportunity to sit still and do that. Do you see other people following that lead or what are some of the unique things that you see have been put in motion? Well, I do Tech Tuesday on my show or Thrive Thursday where we feature people with money, people who are doing things in a money space. And of course, Tech Tuesday, people who are doing things in a tech space.
07:34 - 07:40
And what I'm seeing from Black Girls Code to, I just had pop icon Don Dixon on a few weeks ago,
07:41 - 08:15
Money's flooding in all of a sudden magically, magically money is coming in. So I'm like, OK, McKinsey's gotten all the rest of you, Reed, Reed, Hastings and everybody that's pouring money into these organizations, institutional and otherwise. What are you getting for that? Is it a check? Oh, I gave money to the NAACP, check, or are you following that money that you're given? Are you commanding or demanding that for these dollars this happens and on the receiving end is you're getting this money and what are you doing with it? So I'm committed as well to use my platform to follow that money.
08:16 - 08:42
Because here's the thing. It's nice to be altruistic and it's nice to be this person that I want to see the world a better place. I'm going to make sure that I'm going to put money to it. But it's quite another thing, there's a slightly paternalistic, to think that you have, your checkbook is the answer, as if Black people have not been serving themselves. We make chitlins. So that's all you need to know about Black people. You give us any trouble, we're going to make something delicious, OK?
08:43 - 08:57
We don't need your handout. And we need you to respect the talents and the ingenuity and all the remixing that we do of everything to be appreciated and valued properly and not get ten cents on our full dollar. That's what we need.
08:57 - 09:28
Yeah, she touched on one of our favorite words, which is investing. I've been doing this a long time and especially here at our firm, up until this year, traveled every week just trying to connect the dots. I don't think there are enough people that know that there are people like you exist. We talk a lot about not checking a box and just giving money to an organization, but making your money meaningful and intentional and impactful and supporting people to be advocates. You are the guy at our firm that actually does that for us.
09:28 - 09:47
Right? I affectionately refer to you as my brother from another mother because we're just really connected in so many ways. But why don't you introduce yourself by way of your profession with what you do as a manager to try to connect these dots and put some of these dollars to work that Karen touched on?
09:47 - 10:17
Yeah. So I think in terms of what Karen was talking about and there's somewhat of a problem, there's this idea that someone comes in from up high and has the answer to what's happening at a grassroots level in community. And I think what we've seen time and time again, particularly, like so, for example, in the charter school movement, it's been absolutely a disastrous movement when we have a billionaire White man, young white man, basically saying, well, I've made a billion dollars, therefore I know everything. And so therefore education's got to be pretty easy.
10:17 - 10:31
So let me just dictate what happens for all these communities. And they don't engage those communities. They don't bring them to the table and partner with them and ask them, what is it you want? What are you trying to accomplish here and how can we help you?
10:31 - 10:49
I just look at myself as a vessel. I'm just here to basically, if a community is looking to fund a specific project, whether it's a school, because the simple fact of the matter is the average age of a school building here is one hundred years old. And it's not because it's an architectural marvel. It's not because it's a historical landmark.
10:50 - 11:20
It's because it's old and because the kids that have to go to school there and the teachers that have to go there get this clear message that they don't matter and that they are disposable. That's a problem. So what I do is act as a vessel and inject equity, not as an ownership, but equity as in, we can we can have all these discussions around outcomes. We can debate the racist notion of achievement gap and what that actually means. But let's first reduce the opportunity gap.
11:20 - 11:31
Let's address the opportunity gap, and let's give all these kids, all these teachers, state-of-the-art facilities. And then if we're asking all of these kids to run a race, let them start at the same place.
11:32 - 11:32
11:32 - 12:05
So, I mean, that encapsulates what I do, like when when we invest in healthcare institutions, like we're just trying to provide health access. So that we can reduce the life expectancy gap that exists between people who live in wealthy zip codes and those who live in poor zip codes and the discrepancy throughout the country is appalling. We've talked about this many times, James, up in Boston. It's the most egregious example I've seen. You have people who live, in fact, a Beacon Hill, which is a wealthy community. The average life expectancy there is 90 years old. Two miles away, just two miles away in Roxbury,
12:05 - 12:14
The average life expectancy is 60. As an investor, I look at that and I'm just, I'm appalled. It's repugnant. How do we as a society allow that to occur?
12:14 - 12:46
And so what I'm trying to do and again, it's a capital TRYING, what I'm trying to do is basically invest in safety net hospitals in places that are looking to be and provide a high-quality service within the confines of the four walls, for historically under-resourced communities, and then go into those communities to make them healthier by investing in things that they should have been investing in all along, like housing, like economic development, like transportation, like child care.
12:46 - 13:03
We can't stay healthy without those things being available to us. Right. And so now hospitals are thinking about that and doing that. And that's what I want to promote, because eventually what's going to happen is we're going to raise the quality of life in these communities. And as you raise the quality of life, you're going to raise the life expectancy.
13:03 - 13:28
And all these issues are interconnected. I'm going to play a little game here. All right. So, Karen, you are the first Black woman President of the United States, Eric, you are the Vice President. How will you guys attack equity in education? First of all, I do not want that job. It is a job that is corruptible. I'm more of a dictator, a benevolent dictator.
13:29 - 14:00
What you talk about, Eric, is what I talked about this Wednesday with Dr. Amalara, who is literally building communities after coming back from Malawi and Zimbabwe and Cuba and realized that what is, what brings health to a community is community. So in Cuba in every several square blocks, they have a doctor and a nurse who knows everybody in that area. And this is not a country that has a whole lot of money, but they have a whole lot of concern about the community.
14:00 - 14:23
And her goal is to do that here. So she's already started. And my goal is to help her. So right after we got off the phone, after she got off my show, I got on the phone with her and I said, let's target seven cities. I've been trying to do this with a capital TRYING, from day one, when I see, what you're saying is absolutely true, the health of the community is more than just doctors and hospitals and schools.
14:23 - 14:58
If you're not educating the whole person wholly, if you don't know them, if you're not in concert, they're kids that failed the regents. But we've put in a classroom with culturally competent teachers. They pass. There're kids, health being an equalizer, when Black doctors look after Black kids, Black kids have a better outcome. Why is that? Because those are my kids, and I'm going to take care of them. And it's just what tribes do. So, yeah, there is a lot of work to be done. But I'm really optimistic when I'm hearing you, talk, Eric, about your vision because I think is totally in line with what needs to happen. Wait, I didn't answer your question.
14:58 - 15:18
So if you had all the resources in the world, how would you address the education system to make it more equitable to folks that look like you and I? First, I would go into the community and ask them what they need? Because what I need in Jersey is not the same as what they need in Oakland or in Roxbury or in Detroit or Chicago or Philly.
15:18 - 15:50
They may have similar challenges, but these are unique communities. So I would first empower communities to help themselves because government is a horrible, horrible parent and a horrible steward of other people's lives, is not proven to be very good at that. I mean, one of the things that I would think about in terms of education is, and this seems pretty logical to me, but I was in conversation with the head of Uncommon Schools and he basically went and said, we recruit our teachers from HBCUs. Because I asked him directly.
15:50 - 16:03
And when kids can look in front of a class and see someone that looks like them, they do better. I mean, it's just fact; they do better. They graduate high school at higher rates and they go on to college and they graduate college at higher rates. And all it takes is one teacher.
16:03 - 16:38
And so from my perspective, what I'm asking when I'm engaging with schools, whether it's charter schools or traditional public schools is what are you doing to recruit and retain people of color for these kids who are of color? What are you doing from a culturally congruent curricular perspective to bring education to them where they are, not shoving this Eurocentric model down their throats, expecting them to engage with it, because it's just not going to help? And Eurocentric models show up in Black faces as well. Facts.
16:38 - 17:04
So these are the things that from an investment perspective, we're interested in knowing. It's not just how much money you have and can you pay back your debt, but it's like, how are you really going about trying to change the life of these kids in a meaningful, holistic kind of way? And one of the things that we know works really well is just recruiting more teachers of color. Yeah. And then let's go, let's take a step back from there. Why don't we just respect teachers a little bit more?
17:04 - 17:37
I covered education at the New York Daily News where I won a Pulitzer and a Polk. My beat was child welfare and education, two of the largest beats on the editorial board. And I spent a lot of time at the board of Ed, as a matter of fact, I was, my series of editorials dismantled the Board of Education in New York from the standpoint that it put the governance under the mayor who is accountable and not let it be its own fiefdom because we, the people should be voting for the person that's going to fix that, not have them do whatever they want, but the notion of vocational and all these things.
17:37 - 17:57
And I was realizing that it is a system that has to be looked at from why do we do the standardized tests? Why do we teach kids how to regurgitate information that may or may not be correct? And how come we're not teaching critical thinking and logic and humanities in a way that allows them to conflict resolve?
17:57 - 18:17
Because at Hunter College, where I've been for 18 years, this is one of the most culturally diverse colleges in the country, one of the best, according to US News and World Report. I'm going to give it a shout out, this college is one of the best buys that you can get in America, every class, I have a kid this semester in Turkey, literally because we are in a pandemic. So he's in Turkey. I have a kid that's in the Philippines right now taking my class.
18:17 - 18:34
And it's a very culturally diverse class. And I'm the only Black woman many of them have ever seen on the other side. And what does that do culturally to you if you've never had a Black professor, that you have a notion that this is somehow not for Black people to be in that position?
18:34 - 19:08
I think we also take for granted education generally. And just the way we think about education, we think about education is basically K through 12. Where is the brain forming the synapses and the connections, really that that sort of are the foundation upon which we grow and develop into adults? Right. It's early education. It's anywhere between birth and three years old. And think about how we as a society look at early education. We don't even think about it. We don't do it. So let's take a moment to shout out, because I'm going to do this at Clayton Powell, Clayton Powell Junior.
19:08 - 19:12
Without him, we would not have had Head Start. And he was the one that pushed it through Congress.
19:12 - 19:26
And Lyndon Baines Johnson, with his mighty pen, was able to get a lot of the Southern Republicans and Democrats on board to sign off on it. But Head Start was phenomenal for so many low income Americans, because what you're saying is actually true.
19:26 - 19:49
The word gap, coupled with a host of other things, you start off outside of the arena and while others on third base, and it's makes it hard to catch up, unless you run really fast. So you mentioned LBJ, so we could talk about the current report that was issued back in 1968 and look at all those issues. And let's fast forward to 2020. And we haven't made a whole heck of a lot of progress on those particular issues.
19:49 - 20:03
And I know for myself one of the things I'm just trying to do is bring attention to these issues because I think there's a disconnect between what most of society thinks and thinks they know and what I think I know.
20:03 - 20:31
I just want to try to kind of create a bridge for other people to understand that basically the decisions that we make, the public policy that we have, the financial decisions that we make have impact on people that go from generation to generation to generation. And we need to cut that off. We need to start anew. We need to blow up the system and we need to start fresh. Also, Eric, the tools you need to build that bridge have been purposefully destroyed.
20:31 - 20:44
This system, I tell people all the time, the criminal justice system, it operates exactly the way it was designed to. Our education system. Jefferson never wanted us to be brilliant. He just wanted us to have enough civic knowledge to not kill each other.
20:44 - 21:15
That was it. Third rate was fine with him. So as we talk about education and I come from a community where Black women hold a lot more degrees, demographically speaking, than any other group in this country, education, particularly Black immigrants, high by high, like we achieve. And there's still a wealth gap and there's still leaves these gaps because the system, if you read color money, is designed to do that. We will save money. We will, we will invest. But every time we do, the system finds a way.
21:16 - 21:30
Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Eatonville, you go down the list, and it's like, well, we keep building, you say we got to do it on our own, we did it and then you come firebombing. So at some point in the DNA is this, first, fear, if we build it, you're going to destroy it.
21:30 - 21:59
And then systemically, you see laws keep getting changed to make it harder to do certain things. And why am I getting a high interest on my loan? Why is my property being appraised at a higher rate? Because I live in a certain zip code and my credit's perfect. I have 800 credit. Why am I getting the worst? Why? Oh, you know that I'm Black somewhere. And I can't say that it's not by design. So at some point you have to ask, do you have the tools to build a bridge? We have a lot of what I call intangible voices. A lot of people want to do stuff.
21:59 - 22:31
They just don't know what to do. And I think the gap is between intangible voices and tangible actions. I'm curious, let's give our listeners some call to actions or some some takeaways. And Eric, I'll start with you. What are some tangible actions you would ask people to take on right now to address any of these discrepancies that we've been challenged with along the spectrum of social impact? So I guess where I would start would be basically two paths. The first path seems pretty easy.
22:31 - 22:43
That's to read. I mean, I don't really know what else to say, but we could talk about Howard Zinn. We could talk about, Karen mentioned The Color of Money. So Mehrsa Baradaran, and you talk about Derrick Hamilton. We talk about William Darity.
22:43 - 23:13
Right. And currently his book on reparations. Right. My point in saying all this is this, that we have to be informed. We have to be informed about our history. We have to be informed about things that have occurred in the past, that have created a foundation upon which the present is pretty obvious. And to Karen's points earlier, all this stuff is intentional, right? We created the Homestead Act. We created the GI Bill, redlining in housing, like all of these things are intentional. How many people know that? How many people understand that?
23:13 - 23:48
How many people then can take a step back and with compassion and with empathy, understand that clearly, it's really hard to get an education when the very school district that you're part of is violating your constitutional rights because the facilities themselves are so dilapidated and nonexistent. All these things are interconnected. And by the way, in terms of education, whether it's the primary, secondary, or higher education, which it's not part of the curriculum, these issues are not part of the curriculum. And I think they need to be.
23:48 - 24:07
I think that's the first start. And I think in terms of what we want to pass on to our children, what we should be doing as adults is should be understanding our history, all of it, not just the nice stuff, but the bad stuff. And let's acknowledge it. We have to do something about it. So suffice to say, we need to read. OK, so, so. So I apologize. Yes, we need to read.
24:07 - 24:40
And then the second part is, I as an investor, I just want people to understand that when they make an investment decision that could be with their, that could be with their personal wealth, it could be with, you when they go out and patronize a particular restaurant or a particular store or whatever, that their money has influence. I want people to take a deeper look at how they spend their money and where their money goes. I've said this many times, for better or for worse, you want to invest with me, you want to take that ride. That's great. I really don't care.
24:40 - 24:57
All I want you to do as an investor, all I want you to do as a person who is making a decision on what to buy or where to buy it, that you understand who you're, where your dollars are going. And do you want to do that? Is that something that you want to support? I love that.
24:57 - 25:27
And obviously you and I talk about this all the time, that this idea of using your affluence to influence does take some energy, though. I understand individuals may not know how to do it, but there is an investigative role you should have. I always think about this idea of the Black tax and how we can all contribute to creating more jobs and sustaining an economic ecosystem, right, where everyone could drive and thrive.
25:27 - 25:59
It requires a lot of intentionality. It requires you to think about who are you buying your services from, because if you're very intentional with who you buy your services from, now that individual's using some, you know, Black professionals to help run his or her business, and now they're shopping at Black stores, now it creates this cycle. The other thing is, I would love to figure out and I don't have the answer, and maybe this is what the three of us continue to talk about.
26:00 - 26:09
How do we connect the people we engage, the millions and millions of people that Karen engages on a daily basis to what you do?
26:10 - 26:40
And again, I'm not saying what you do at this firm, but just what you do in general with respect to recognizing the role your money, your resources can have in advocating for these things, advocating for education, advocating for healthcare and things like that. The other thing I would add to that, and I obviously want to hear from Karen, obviously, what I would say is that it doesn't necessarily require money. I don't want to sit here and suggest that the only influence one can have is if you have money.
26:40 - 27:03
The simple fact of the matter is, a lot of things that we're trying to do from an activist investing perspective involves partnerships and collaborations with grassroots activists and community members because the simple fac of the matter is, is that I think is that when you bring this coalition all together, it's a really powerful way to say to a municipality, a government, or what have you,
27:04 - 27:37
We the people don't like the trajectory that we're taking right now and we want to change it. And by the way, if you don't, right, the investors are willing to divest because you're not supporting the community that we want you to support. And then what you're left with are these community activists that, from my perspective, are going to make the life of that municipality, the life of that state, the life of that politician, a living hell from a public relations perspective. But the whole idea is respecting community, it's respecting grassroots community. It's respecting this notion of empowerment.
27:37 - 28:10
But you don't have to have money to be a part of that coalition. You don't have to have money to drive that. And so that's kind of what I'm sort of supporting. Everything that you both said was music to my ears. Every day my mission is like, how do I plug, connect, magnify, amplify? So everything that you said we were toying around with boycotting in 2014 and 2015, identifying companies that are doing great things. We don't necessarily want to boycott. I just want to redirect funds to people that are doing the work, like you're saying, Eric.
28:10 - 28:37
And I think you can't legislate behavior. People are not going to behave properly just because it's in them to do. And I wish, I used to watch Vampire Diaries, and the vampires would turn off their humanity. And I just wish everyone would turn on their humanity and realize that we can't survive separately. Also, this is something I just started thinking about as I'm reading, because Eric said, read and I couldn't agree more. There's another book I would add to it.
28:37 - 29:10
Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told, because from a financial standpoint, Dr. Baptist takes you through the institution of slavery that built this country through body parts. And it's methodical. It is through economics. He is telling you how this country was formed and became a world superpower. And it is stunning. And we need to grow up and mature into adults that want to actually see a change. And it requires yes, James, is going to be a little bit of work to do
29:10 - 29:37
the research on companies and Black people will spend a trillion plus dollars annually. Imagine if those trillion plus dollars were directed by a movement to fund your burger and your hair care products and your liquor and all of the things that you have in your bags, your handbags. And now I'm not getting that money anymore. I might need to serve as then.
29:37 - 30:10
The funny part is you talk about that one trillion's purchasing power. Purchasing power is powerless if you don't purchase with intention. It just creates a funnel of flow-through and not impact. And Eric touched on one thing I think is really important. In many instances, divesting from is just as good as and maybe better than investing in. And I think that is the mindset that I think the three of us hope and wish for. It is taking the time, yes, to read and educate.
30:11 - 30:43
But we have to close the gap between this idea of these intangible voices and these tangible actions. Since the pandemic, when we are in spaces where there are folk that don't look like us and we're the only ones, I call it the magical Negroes in the room, we comport ourselves in a way to make everybody in the room comfortable. Right. And what that does is you allow that person to believe that this is, so they're cartoon characters that you see, I call them cartoon characters in music and entertainment and movies that represent Blackness. Right.
30:43 - 31:07
And since the birth of the nation, that's intentional. In music, 70 percent of that rap music is purchased by White boys in the suburbs. They're getting an ideal of who we are through that, through that in their earhole all the time. Seventy-four percent of black people are not poor. That's a fact. Census. You can go check it out. The notion is most Black people are poor. Most Black people are downtrodden. Not true. As I mentioned, most Black women have degrees.
31:08 - 31:42
We're educated, we're not poor, we're not incarcerated. The majority of Black people are not and have never been incarcerated. Yet when people talk about reform in the Black community, it's poverty and criminal justice reform. To me, that does us a disservice to start the conversation there, as opposed to the rich history in the rich community and the rich building that has always been a part of this community. Start there and then say, how can we help? So I just wish that at some point, that humanity switch will turn on, and people will start to realize, hey, you want safe neighborhoods, you want your kids to be educated just like me.
31:42 - 32:13
Maybe we're not different. Maybe you're not an alien. Maybe you care about the same damn things I care about. And I'm sorry because I just feel very strongly about this. Which is people. I do think that one of the things that I would like if your listeners or Karen to know is, it doesn't end here, you don't get off the hook because we did a podcast. For me right now, it's about partnership and it's about collaboration. And so our industry, for the most part is looked at as this evil incarnate.
32:13 - 32:28
Right. And you sort of alluded to it at the beginning, James, like, it's changing. There are people like you. There are people, I guess, like me, that are looking to sort of change the way the game is played. And we can't do it ourselves because it's just not possible.
32:28 - 32:36
And we need, we need we need all hands on deck to sort of change this. We need people to trust us. Right. To do their due diligence. Trust us.
32:36 - 33:04
We know what we're doing. We've got, our intentions are good. Our heart and our minds are all in the right place. I want Karen to know that I exist because if she ever needs me in a public arena or a private arena or in her class or anywhere else, that she can basically reach out to me and feel comfortable in sort of introducing me in the role that I play at AllianceBernstein and the role that I play outside.
33:05 - 33:22
And Karen's not getting off the hook either, because I'm going to come to her when there are issues that I would like to more deeply engage in and need strong and credible voices to bring to that table that I want her there.
33:22 - 33:28
I want her on my side. I want her on our side. Right. That's the way the stuff gets done.
33:28 - 34:02
And that's kind of the way I envision this change taking place. And so for me, a lot of this work is, I exist, I'm unapologetic, I exist, and this is what I do. And please use me in any way that you can to raise your voice, to amplify what you're trying to do if I can help, because I'm more than happy to do that. The whole idea here is that in order to change, in order to really have a paradigm shift, these are the things that need to occur. I don't want to be off the hook. I just accepted a boardship.
34:02 - 34:36
I'll sit on a Board of Inroads, which is an organization that places young people into corporations through internships. And it's a board that I have to pay to to sit on, which is unusual. Right. But I feel like you have to be involved. You can't just talk about these things if you're not, and all hands on deck. Let's all of us do our part so that no one has to do everything. You shouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting, James shouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting. I shouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting. I'm willing to because I feel like the change has to happen. And I've sat and watched. I'm not an activist.
34:36 - 34:58
I'm a journalist. I'm a teacher who finds myself every day engaging with millions of people all over the country, parts of Canada and Puerto Rico, right, and now with YouTube all over the world, Ireland and Poland and Kenya. And it's resonating. And what I know is I could say I'm a journalist, I'm a teacher. It is not my job.
34:58 - 35:30
It's other people going to do it because that's what I imagine. I'm going to reach out to all these organizations and they're going to do the thing that needs to get done. 50, 60 years have passed and they have not. So it's going to get done. And I wholeheartedly agree with that, like, I mean, to your point, like I don't like I know what I'm doing. If people want to get on board, that's great. I'm not changing my trajectory. There are many open seats. I want as many people to climb on board as possible. If they don't want to, that's fine. I have no judgments.
35:30 - 36:03
Right. But the idea is that I'm not going to stop what I'm doing, right. Hopefully that the number of people that are getting on that ride starts to increase exponentially, et cetera, et cetera. It creates its own momentum. Right. And that's kind of what I'm hoping for. But to your point, Karen, I mean, I could be tired, but I'm not stopping. I'm not going to stop. I hope there's another platform for the three of us to continue the dialogue, to leverage the influence we have, to connect our resources and our people. I certainly want to thank both of you for joining me today.
36:06 - 36:35
I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We love to hear from you. So please email your thoughts, questions, and feedback to diversemarkets@Bernstein.com. Be sure to share, subscribe and rate us on Apple podcast or anywhere you listen to podcasts and check us out on Twitter at BernsteinPWM. Bernstein: Making money meaningful for individuals, families, and foundations for over 50 years. Visit us at Bernstein.com.
- James Thompson
- SVP—Head of Diverse Markets Strategy