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  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

  • WOW. WOW.

  • I AM A MAN. I AM A NATION.

  • LOCK INTO MY FREQUENCY. TUNE INTO MY STATION.

  • SIT UP IN YOUR CHAIR, GRAB A DRINK FROM THE FRIDGE.

  • WE NEED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION.

  • COME MEET ME ON THE BRIDGE.

  • SO, HERE I AM ONSTAGE AT UCLA,

  • IN FRONT OF A ROOMFUL OF STRANGERS, SO WHAT DO I SAY?

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • GLENNON'S TALKING ABOUT HOT YOGA.

  • GARY'S TALKING ABOUT THE SEED OF THE SOUL.

  • BUT IF YOUR HEART IS BROKEN, HOW CAN YOU EVER BE MADE WHOLE?

  • AND, SO, HERE WE ARE, AND YOU'RE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT,

  • "IS THAT SUGE KNIGHT? WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?"

  • [ LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ]

  • SO, THEY PUT ME UP BEHIND A RHODES SCHOLAR NAMED WES.

  • I GOT A DOUBLE HIGH-SCHOOL DIPLOMA,

  • BUT IT DON'T MEAN I'M NOT BLESSED.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • YOU'RE WONDERING, AM I GONNA RHYME FOR THE ENTIRE SESSION?

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • DON'T WORRY, RELAX. IT'S JUST A PART OF MY EXPRESSION.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • SO, WHAT IS THE BRIDGE?

  • A BRIDGE IS AN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS.

  • IT'S A PLACE OF INTERCONNECTED HUMANITY,

  • WHERE WE COME AND HAVE DIALOGUE

  • WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING JUDGED OR MALIGNED

  • FOR OUR PERSONAL IDEOLOGY.

  • A BRIDGE ITSELF IS A SPAN

  • THAT ALLOWS TWO FIXED POINTS

  • THAT WOULD NEVER CONNECT

  • TO HAVE AN ABILITY TO MEET OVER OBJECTS AND IMPEDIMENTS

  • THAT WOULD NORMALLY KEEP THESE TWO FIXED OBJECTS FROM MEETING.

  • WE ARE IN A VERY DIFFICULT TIME IN OUR NATION.

  • IT'S BAD.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • IT'S BAD, MAN!

  • THERE'S A LOT GOING ON.

  • AND EVERYBODY COMES FROM A DIFFERENT PLACE.

  • EVERYBODY HAS THEIR OWN LENS, THEIR OWN PERSPECTIVE,

  • AND THE MOMENT YOU INVALIDATE SOMEONE ELSE'S PERSPECTIVE,

  • YOU DEHUMANIZE THEM.

  • IF WE'RE REALLY GONNA GROW, IF WE'RE REALLY GONNA CHANGE,

  • THEN WE NEED TO SET OUR MINDS TO BE REARRANGED.

  • AND, SO, ONCE AGAIN, JUST SIT UP IN THE CHAIR,

  • GRAB A DRINK FROM THE FRIDGE, AND LET'S HAVE A CONVERSATION.

  • JUST MEET ME ON THE BRIDGE.

  • THIS PLACE,

  • THIS MOMENT IS HISTORIC,

  • BECAUSE YOU CAME HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE SEEKING SOMETHING.

  • YOU ARE HUNGRY FOR SOMETHING. YOU ARE HUNGRY FOR TRUTH.

  • NOT TRUTH IN ITS ETHEREAL FORM, BUT TRUTH IN A SUBSTANTIVE FORM.

  • BUT ALL OF US COME FROM A DIFFERENT PLACE.

  • YOU KNOW, NOW WE'RE REAL LOCKED IN TO OUR IDEOLOGIES.

  • MAYBE YOU'RE FAR RIGHT OR MAYBE YOU'RE FAR LEFT,

  • AND IT'S HARD TO MEET IN THE MIDDLE, BECAUSE, ME,

  • I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, "WHERE DO I FIT IN?"

  • BECAUSE AT THE INTERSECTION OF FAITH, POLITICS,

  • AND SOCIAL JUSTICE,

  • I'M JUST A LITTLE PREACHER FROM A SMALL-TOWN CINCINNATI CHURCH.

  • AND NOW I'M SITTING AT THE CHURCH

  • WITH THE NICEST MAN IN THE WORLD.

  • JOEL OSTEEN IS LITERALLY THE NICEST DUDE IN THE WORLD.

  • HE SMILES AT EVERYTHING.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • NO, FOR REAL. IF YOU PUT HIM IN A HORROR MOVIE,

  • HE WOULD STILL SMILE.

  • YOU PUT HIM IN "FRIDAY THE 13th,"

  • YOU HEAR THE MUSIC... "CHH, CHH, CHH, CHH!

  • HA, HA, HA, HA! CHH, CHH, CHH! HA!"

  • PASTER JOEL WOULD WALK UP.

  • "WELL, JASON, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

  • YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO STAB PEOPLE.

  • YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LOVE PEOPLE.

  • OH, JASON, DON'T YOU KNOW YOU COULD LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW?

  • ALL YOU GOT TO DO IS BUY MY BOOK,

  • 'YOUR BEST LIFE NOW.'"

  • [ LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ]

  • I FEEL LIKE JOY DOES GOOD LIKE MEDICINE,

  • AND WE NEED TO LAUGH A LITTLE BIT,

  • 'CAUSE IT'S BEEN A WHOLE LOT OF TEARS SHED

  • OVER THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF IN THIS NATION.

  • WE GOT A LOT OF HEALING TO DO.

  • PEOPLE WERE SHOCKED -- SHOCKED!

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • WHEW! "WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR NATION?"

  • HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND FOR THE LAST 200 YEARS?

  • WE'VE NEVER BEEN TOGETHER!

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • FAR LEFT -- "ALL LIVES MATTER!

  • BLACK LIVES MATTER! EVERYBODY'S LIVES MATTER!"

  • BUT IF YOU'RE FAR RIGHT,

  • "I'M GONNA TELL YOU RIGHT NOW, YOU BETTER SHUT YOUR MOUTH UP.

  • YOU BETTER MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

  • YOU BETTER SHUT YOUR MOUTH UP.

  • YOU BETTER HUSH UP, BOY!

  • YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKIN' ABOUT!"

  • "SAY SOMETHING ELSE! SAY SOMETHING ELSE!

  • DON'T MAKE ME -- OOH, OOH! SAY SOMETHING ELSE.

  • I WILL COME ACROSS THIS BRIDGE. I WILL BUST YOU IN YOUR EYE!"

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • "I WISH YOU WOULD, 'CAUSE I'M SECOND AMENDMENT ALL DAY.

  • COME ON 'ROUND HERE. COME ON 'ROUND HERE.

  • RIGHT 'BOUT RIGHT THERE. COME ON.

  • I GOT MY CONCEAL/CARRY. COME ON, BOY.

  • COME OOOOOOOON! COME ON! COME ON!

  • COME ON!"

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • THE BRIDGE.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • THAT'S WHERE WE NEED TO MEET.

  • 'CAUSE WHEN YOU THINKIN' 'BOUT MY FAMILY

  • IT DON'T MATTER IF YOU'RE BLACK OR WHITE

  • DA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA!

  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • [ CHUCKLES ]

  • WE DON'T GET A CHANCE TO INVALIDATE SOMEBODY,

  • BECAUSE WE DON'T UNDERSTAND

  • HOW THEY GOT TO A CERTAIN CONCLUSION.

  • WE'VE GOT TO LEARN HOW TO HEAL.

  • WE'VE GOT TO LEARN HOW TO DEAL.

  • AND SO I CAN'T STAY IN THESE POLARIC PLACES,

  • WHETHER I'M FAR LEFT OR FAR RIGHT.

  • SOMEHOW, I GOT TO GET US TO THE MIDDLE.

  • SOMEBODY SAY "MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE."

  • -MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE! -MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE!

  • SEE, THIS IS THE KEY.

  • WE'RE ALREADY MOVING CLOSER TO THE MIDDLE.

  • IT'S FEELING GOOD IN HERE.

  • ANYTIME I COME TO THE MIDDLE,

  • I'M GONNA PROBABLY START RHYMING,

  • SO JUST PREPARE YOURSELF.

  • WHEN I COME TO THIS PLACE, I'M GONNA START RHYMING.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • I'M FEELING KIND OF GOOD, MAN. WHAT DO I SAY?

  • YOU GOT WHITE WOMEN PLAYING AFRICAN DRUMS.

  • WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • [ BEATBOXING ]

  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

  • Y'ALL BETTER GO AHEAD. Y'ALL ARE LIKE,

  • "THIS IS WONDERFUL. I'VE NEVER DONE THIS.

  • THIS IS AMAZING.

  • IS THIS WHAT THEY DO, AND THEY BACK IT UP?

  • I WANT TO BACK IT UP! I WANT TO BACK IT UP."

  • [ LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ]

  • I BELIEVE IN THE IDEA OF AMERICA.

  • I BELIEVE IN THE IDEAL OF AMERICA.

  • COME ON, AMERICA. I KNOW WE CAN DO BETTER.

  • I KNOW THAT YOU'RE ABLE.

  • I'M NOT SOLANGE OR BEYONC�,

  • BUT I DESERVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • THIS IS A MOMENT THAT WE CAN CHANGE THINGS.

  • BUT WE GOT TO COME DOWN FROM OUR HIGH PLACE.

  • WE GOT TO COME DOWN FROM THAT PLACE THAT MAKES US THINK

  • THAT WE'RE RIGHT AND THE OTHER PERSON IS WRONG,

  • AS OPPOSED TO SAYING,

  • "THEY GOT TO THAT PLACE BECAUSE OF THE LIFE

  • THAT THEY'VE LIVED AND THE PEOPLE THAT RAISED THEM

  • AND THE SITUATIONS THAT FRAMED THEM."

  • IT'S REAL QUIET, AND I KNOW THIS IS MORE LIKE A LECTURE SERIES,

  • BUT I'M A BLACK PREACHER, SO PLEASE ALLOW YOUR INNER NEGRO

  • TO COME OUT FOR THE NEXT 10 TO 12 MINUTES.

  • AND YOU CAN SHOUT ME DOWN LIKE, "I KNOW THAT'S RIGHT.

  • YOU BETTER SAY THAT. HE TALKIN' GOOD, GIRL.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • THAT'S GOOD!"

  • SO, WHAT DOES AMERICA LOOK LIKE? HOW DO WE HEAL?

  • WE'VE GOT A LOT OF HEALING.

  • I KNOW THAT WE'RE BROKEN.

  • AND HOW CAN YOU NOT BE HURT

  • WHEN YOU'RE IN THE AGE OF ALTERNATIVE FACTS?

  • THAT'S LIKE SAYING, "I GOT FAT BY EATING ALTERNATIVE SNACKS."

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU'RE LAUGHING.

  • YOU KNOW THAT IT'S TRUE.

  • AND DON'T JUDGE ME, 'CAUSE YOU GOT STUFF, TOO.

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • BUT I THINK ABOUT THE FAR RIGHT AND THE FAR LEFT,

  • AND I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, "HOW DO WE MEET IN THE MIDDLE?

  • HOW DO WE BUILD BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING AND CONNECTIVITY

  • BEYOND RACE, BEYOND GENDER,

  • BEYOND SEXUAL ORIENTATION,

  • BEYOND RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE AND IDEOLOGY?

  • HOW DO WE GET TO THIS PLACE?

  • ALL OF US CAME FROM SOMEWHERE.

  • AND SO I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, "WHAT IS MY ROLE TO PLAY?"

  • 'CAUSE I GREW UP IN A LITTLE CHURCH, AND AT 7 YEARS OLD,

  • I CONNECTED TO THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF THE MOST HIGH GOD

  • THROUGH THIS MAN NAMED JESUS. THAT'S HOW I CONNECTED.

  • AND MY MOTHER -- SHE DIDN'T JUST PREACH IT, SHE LIVED IT.

  • AND I WAS LIKE, "THIS IS SOMETHING THAT CONNECTS TO ME,"

  • BECAUSE SHE ACTUALLY LIVED IT OUT.

  • AND IT WAS A WEIRD THING, BECAUSE MY MOTHER WAS ALWAYS

  • THE ONE CHOCOLATE SPOT IN A SEA OF VANILLA.

  • SHE FOUGHT TO BUILD BRIDGES AND SHE ALWAYS FOUGHT

  • TO GIVE EVERY HUMAN BEING EQUAL VALUE.

  • AND IN CINCINNATI IN THE '70s AND '80s,

  • IN A VERY CONSERVATIVE AND NON-POST-RACIAL SOCIETY,

  • SHE STOOD OUT LIKE A BEAUTIFUL SORE THUMB, SAYING THAT,

  • "I'M NOT GOING TO ALLOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST

  • TO DICTATE MY FUTURE." AND SHE CREATED, IN ME,

  • A HUNGER TO BUILD BRIDGES WITH PEOPLE THAT DIDN'T LOOK LIKE ME,

  • DIDN'T COME FROM WHERE I CAME FROM,

  • AND DIDN'T BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE.

  • AND EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL

  • THAT YOU WILL EVER SEE HAS THE SAME EQUAL VALUE.

  • DOESN'T MEAN WE AGREE, BUT WE'RE ALL FAMILY.

  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

  • SOMEBODY MAKE SOME NOISE.

  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE INTENSIFIES ]

  • GREAT. I'M IN HERE SWEATING.

  • I DONE LOST 6 POUNDS UNDER THESE HOT PRISON LIGHTS.

  • -TAKE IT OFF! -TAKE IT OFF?

  • DON'T DO IT, 'CAUSE I...

  • [ BEATBOXING ]

  • [ LAUGHTER ]

  • I THINK ABOUT MY UPBRINGING AND I THINK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS

  • TO BE WHERE I'M AT RIGHT NOW, STANDING IN FRONT OF YOU.

  • AND I'M REALLY KIND OF BLOWN AWAY,

  • BECAUSE I SHOULDN'T BE HERE.

  • MY MOM AND DAD DIVORCED WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG.

  • HE WALKED OUT THE DOOR FOR THE LAST TIME WHEN I WAS 4 1/2.

  • I SAW HIM FOUR TIMES IN MY LIFE.

  • BUT IT DIDN'T STOP MY MOTHER

  • FROM DOING WHAT SHE NEEDED TO DO,

  • WORKING FULL TIME DURING THE DAY AND GOING TO COLLEGE AT NIGHT,

  • ENDING UP GRADUATING WITH HONORS WITH HER DEGREE IN SOCIAL WORK,

  • AND BECOMING ONE OF THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE HISTORY

  • OF THE STATE OF OHIO SOCIAL-WORK SYSTEM.

  • [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

  • I CAME FROM A WOMAN THAT WOULD NOT GIVE UP.

  • I'M SURE THERE WERE TIMES WHEN SHE WANTED TO,

  • BUT THERE WAS SOMETHING ON THE INSIDE.

  • AND EVERY MORNING AND EVERY NIGHT,

  • I WOULD SEE HER PRAYING AND READING IN THIS WORD.

  • AND THEN, OF COURSE, I HAD TO DO THAT, TOO.

  • THERE WAS NO OPTION FOR ME.

  • MY MOTHER MADE SURE THAT I WAS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT

  • FROM THE LEGACY THAT I CAME FROM,

  • BECAUSE, GROWING UP, PEOPLE WERE SAYING,

  • "BE A MAN OF GOD. BE A MAN OF GOD."

  • BUT HOW CAN YOU BE WHAT YOU'VE NEVER SEEN?

  • Woman: PRAISE HIM!

  • SHE GOES TO A BLACK CHURCH. I'M JUST TELLING YOU RIGHT NOW.

  • [ LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ]

  • BUT I FOUND MYSELF ENTHRALLED BY THIS LIFE

  • THAT MY MOTHER CHOSE TO LIVE.

  • AND WHEN I WAS GROWING UP,

  • THE IDEA OF MORALITY AND RELATIONSHIP

  • AND SPIRITUALITY WERE ALL INTERWOVEN.

  • WHEN I WAS 13, MY MOTHER WAS LIKE,

  • "YOU'RE GONNA BE A VIRGIN WHEN YOU GET MARRIED."