Aqueela Sherrills, Activist, Campaigner Against Gang Violence

[00:00:00] Aqeela: As I am Aqeela Sherrils. I’m the executive director of the Community Self-determination Institute a former member of the Grape Street Crips out of Jordan down housing projects here in Watts.

[00:00:34] Miae:So tell me what were you doing when the La Riots broke out?

[00:00:40] Aqeela: What I was doing during the breakout of The L.A. riots was actually working with an organization that we co-founded with Hall of Fame where Jim Brown called Amer-I-Can. And at the time we were actually organizing in the neighborhood the peace treaty the peace treaty happened a few days before the actual Rodney King verdict. So we had actually took about 250 275 gang members ex-gang members from seven different neighborhoods throughout the city of Los Angeles down to City Hall to make a presentation to let them know that we had formed a peace treaty that we were coming together to atone for the violence that was perpetrated on ourselves and against each other and that we were making a commitment to stop. And a lot of the killing in the city and I think the following day was the Rodney King verdict. And you know basically what we were doing in the neighborhood was trying to stop individuals from looting and robbing and burning down the stores and different things like that because we were trying to let them understand that this is our community. This is where we live. And so whatever we destroy here you know we lose.

[00:02:02] Miae: A lot of the African American members who become part of their lives. That was my understanding. So I thought you you are part of.

[00:02:15] Aqeela: No actually we were we were the individuals who were out trying to stop individuals from looting and robbing and stuff you know. Now once he got so big you know and we saw that we couldn’t control it. Law enforcement stopped coming into the neighborhoods. Then we kind of like just laid back and you can also you know Jim Brown there’s a brother named Batman from one of the original members of the East Coast Crips gang. There’s a couple of documentaries on him. Even had both Jim Brown down to the neighborhood. And so Jim was also in the neighborhood along with some of the key members who organized a peace treaty trying to stop individuals from looting and robbing them once. Like I said he got out of control you know.

[00:02:59] You know my brother Daoud you know told Batman that you know that it was really time to get him out of here and everything to take him back to the house because you know it just had totally got out of control.

[00:03:13] Miae: So what about participants of the riots?

[00:03:15] Aqeela: The participants of the riots were a community people who saw an opportunity to take advantage of you know of the system in a certain sense. You know there’s a there’s a lot of poverty you know that exist in urban communities in this country. And you know the riots broke out you know in several major cities across the country. You know the right. Because of the Rodney King verdict and you know we were also running programs up in Vegas. The same thing was happening there. But you know many people felt like that the you know the system had taken advantage of them and you know people aren’t you know neighborhood folks aren’t really sophisticated to a certain extent about understanding how government works and who’s with this and who’s not with that. So stores supermarkets shops people so on as a free for all.

[00:04:11] You know here’s a chance to go in and be able to you know get some good news and things that we feel like we need.

[00:04:17] Miae: There were some Korean Americans were targets. We become victimized because we all see it shops. Nobody can help us like other people like.

[00:04:45] Aqeela: Well I’ll tell you right on the corner of Slawson and Venice. There was a career in. A liquor store owner who they his sister was on the corner and it was an L-shaped building. They burned down his store and it burned down my father’s restaurant as well. So and then I mean you know and I’m saying that to say that you know you absolutely correct a lot of people lost businesses not just Korean-Americans but also African-Americans, Latino Americans. Many people lost a business as a part of the riot. It wasn’t directed towards any specific person. And I mean you know you take somebody like Mr. Lee you know who owned Watts market.

[00:05:30] You know Mister Lee’s store got burned down. And people in the neighborhood love Mr. Lee. And since then Mr. Lee has rebuilt. He doesn’t have a market anymore. Now it’s a laundromat where mostly and mostly over there all the time. You know what I’m saying. You know somebody spray painted on the wall and it was in the on the front page of the Metro section L.A. Times you know sorry Mr. Lee you know because people really loved Mr. Lee because he took a real you know. You know he supported the community heavily and now and some other individuals you know Korean-Americans, African-Americans, Latino Americans who did nothing for the community who bled the community who treated people like trash and they take the money and they go back to their homes and they never return. Ms Ford who owned the liquor store right across the street from Watts market radicals from the during down house projects as well. They burned her store to the ground and looted her store and nobody will sorry Ms forward and she was a black woman because people felt like she didn’t have any respect for the community. So it’s not so much it wasn’t about you know the riots wasn’t about you know any particular group it was about a dynamic that happened in the country.

[00:06:46] Major urban cities in this country are powderkegs. Because there are few jobs. You know they’re few. You know the education system is terrible.

[00:06:58] You know there’s terrible you know that L.A. The city of Los Angeles has a housing crisis that has had one for for years but yet you know there’s a large influx of immigrants that are coming into the country. And then at the same time there’s a lot of racism that plays into laws and how things are actually done. You know African-Americans have been here you know forever to certain extent and then they can’t qualify for some of the loans that they’re Korean-Americans qualify for. You know and it’s it has nothing to do with the Korean-Americans it’s racism in the banking system. You know it’s predatory lending. There’s all different types of stuff. And so therefore some people might target the Korean Americans and say hey you know you guys are predators in our neighborhood but there’s good and bad on both sides. You know I wouldn’t say that that folks specifically targeted you know the Korean you know American business owners to just rob and loot their store.

[00:07:56] In some cases like the swap meet and stuff like that they know that they are. That’s where all of the goods are. You know so if you are a robber you know if you are if you’re a criminal that’s where you’re going to go you know because that’s where you can access all of the goods. And it got nothing to do with the people. It has to do. Those are the goods and that’s where I’m going to go get it.

[00:08:18] Miae: And I’m just repeating the same question about this last piece of this issue because this is one of two key issues here. Get different opinions from other people. For example I interviewed an African American person the other day and he said it’s a class issue.

[00:09:11] Aqeela: I think we have to take a critical look at they. Who are they. Who. Yes rioters but who are the rioters though. I mean can we identify the rioters specifically. Can we say that they were African-Americans. Can we say that they were Latinos were people were arrested for robbing those stores. OK so what were what. What was the. I mean were they are part of organizations that targeted the store or were they individuals who were criminals who were just angry. You know because of the problems that they have in your own life projecting their fear and their anger onto these individuals you know be Korean-Americans, African-Americans or Latino Americans and the businesses burned down.

[00:09:57] Of course there were problem there are problems in the community with you know some African-Americans and some Latino. I mean some Korean-Americans there was Latasha Harland’s who was shot in the head. You know you know for fighting you know with the Korean woman in the store there has been you know the media takes those type of situations and totally blows them out of proportion. Every channel you turn on they are looking because they sell newspapers they sell stories you know. So they’re going to blow all of their stuff out of proportion. But now what’s the reality of it. Because the I don’t have I don’t accept everything that I see on television or read in the newspaper and I don’t like to generalize things because I think when we generalize things it becomes really dangerous you know. So you know of course individuals are going to say yes there’s a lot of problems with African-Americans and Koreans. Yes. But at the same time there are a lot of positive beautiful relationships between African-Americans and Koreans. Like I said Mr. Lee introduced me to Mr. Kim you know who owns the liquor store right on the corner of of of Stocker and Crenshaw.

[00:11:01] You know Mr. Kim what is the head of the Korean grocers Association they put together about 15 Korean businessmen and they all came up to Jim Brown’s house.

[00:11:11] You know I was a part of the black Korean alliance you know helping to kind of like protect the interests of the Koreans because there were individuals there who wanted to make the Koreans paid for stuff that wasn’t their responsibility. You know and this was in the mayor’s office. So although there were examples of relationships of bad relationships between African-Americans and Koreans there were also a lot of examples that the media never focused on and never promoted because it wasn’t in their best interest. It doesn’t sell newspapers that were out there that that were not focused on. So you know I believe that that you know. Yeah.

[00:11:52] When you do a people in a mix in a mess like you know urban America is urban America is a war zone. I mean you know over the past 15 years alone there’s talk about gangs. There’s been over 15000 gang related deaths. You know you’re talking about people I would say probably two thirds of of South Central Los Angeles has been incarcerated have or had some type of incarceration. The kids any adult in these communities suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and hyper vigilance. This is a warzone. It literally is in South Central Los Angeles. You know many parts of the city weren’t in the United States there would be humanitarian aid in here helping people to deal with the after effects of war. There would be peace envoys here because America you know sometimes doesn’t pay attention you know to its poor and many of the Korean Americans that come in this country come here with nothing.

[00:12:49] You know and they work hard just like the next person in order to put themselves in a position to be able to sustain themselves and their families. And sometimes when people see this individual has a liquor store they think that these people are making millions of dollars they don’t understand the business of running a market. They don’t understand that you make in one to two cents markup one on canned foods in you know five cents with a bag of potato chips. They don’t they don’t understand the details they don’t analyze the details of any of those things. You know they just think that people are making millions of dollars you know because they might drive a nice car and different things like that.

[00:13:26] I mean I don’t want the same thing here all the time. You know as well. People will stop to try to really understand that and it’s really a result of the pain and the anger and the frustration that we feel in our own lives. You know America doesn’t have a collective idea of success. Success is an individual conquest in this country for the most part. And it’s like any type of expression you know of authentic feelings or emotions is denied. It’s a taboo in this country it’s to suppress any type of you know you know authenticity. So how do you how do you begin to mend relationships between people you know between classes you know between races when you have a country that is in total denial about everything you know you don’t you know it’s like.

[00:14:20] So I think sometimes it’s a benefit to some that riots happen because they get an opportunity to steal the money. You know millions and millions of dollars poured into the city of Los Angeles to rebuild the city. You know millions of dollars are our primary all kinds of stuff none of that stuff came to rebuild Los Angeles all these organizations that popped up. You know millions and millions and millions of dollars restore.

[00:14:52] And that’s a game you know just like war war and war is profit you know for those who are selling the weapons for those who are bandaging hospitals drugs companies all these folks they make money off that type of stuff. You know and we have to look at the economics of of something like that happening. You know believe me I think that you know partially. And you know you might call me a conspiracy theorist. I think that the riot was almost planned to a certain extent. Yeah. Well I think that that there are people who know.

[00:15:30] The state of of of tension that exist in the city and in urban communities. You know when you take away people’s jobs you know when you tell them that once you commit a crime that you can never work again. You know you deny them opportunity even though they have paid the debt to society. When you denied them you know quality housing a proper education and I’m not saying that and I’m saying that those things are available. However people believe that it’s not available just like you go around in Watts. What is a very beautiful community compared to other places around the world. I mean I just came from bar Bali a couple of days ago. Poverty in Bali is not poverty in the United States in any way. None. People in this community believe that they have nothing. They believe that they’re poor because they don’t appreciate what they have. You know there is so little gratitude for what you have in this country that it’s it’s ridiculous. We’re spoiled you know and at the expense of the whole world we have this thing that we call freedom. You know but it’s tokenism almost really. So it’s like there are people who understand this you know they understand the psychology of of of a scarcity mentality to a certain extent because that’s where people suffer from here. It’s not that they don’t have they believe that they don’t have you know. I mean that’s why you have so much. You know like obesity you know people are malnutrition you know malnourished as opposed to really not having enough to eat.

[00:17:10] I mean there’s no I mean we throw away more food and then some countries have in the whole year. You know but we still have big poverty programs. A lot of these programs the mission program has been in business for 20 years. You don’t have an almost like poverty pimps. You know it’s a business. They’re running a business. You know the mission is not to really feed people with the business you know it’s a way of making money. It’s like everything is about money everything is about money. So you know my belief is that you have officers I mean and I’m not saying that that the officers beating Rodney King that happens every single day. You know my only the only time I’ve ever been in prison was I got jumped by some police in the projects for nothing. You know for nothing. So I could have had it Rodney King case in a three or four dozen other people that I know the thing was that it was captured on video. And you see those individuals got that. They promoted it. It’s on every single channel every time you wake up every time you turn around they’re showing it over and over again. Because what they were doing is in you know pumping the fear you know in bringing out the anger and the rage in the people behind something like that happening then they set up a court case. That’s clear. I mean it’s clear that these individuals were in the wrong and in a let them go. What is that about. I’m like come on now.

[00:18:35] You know it’s almost like you know you agitating something. You know it’s like you know. It’s like you know it’s this whole you know said Oh theory you know of of divide and conquer. You know it’s like. I’m like why would they do something like that when they already know they know the truth. The truth is right there in the writing. Who cares that Rodney King was beating you know doing 80 miles an hour. He still didn’t deserve that type of beating. You know and everything. I mean that was just that was uncalled for. That was uncalled for. You know he broke a law. You pulled him over. You write him a ticket. You let him go. You don’t beat him.

[00:19:13] Because that has nothing to do with you know it just like this other guy. There was another situation not long ago a guy in Compton was in an alleged stole car stolen car he got out he ran you know the helicopter and everything was they caught them. You know and apprehended him then and beat him. And I’m like this. That’s that officer taken out his own frustration and anger about maybe his own personal life onto this individual. You know and I’m like this that means that we’re not giving our officers the proper training that they need because they’re out there with a whole gang of stress and fear and everything as well. So you know it all centered around is this fear and there’s people who understand this type of fear and despair that exists in the community and a puppy. You know so they know it’s a powderkeg.

[00:20:04] I mean you know it’s like you know so I think that sometimes things are planned you know and you know that you you you pit people against each other you know. Yeah. You get.

[00:20:20] Miae; A lot of the same the LA Riots is like tan uprising movement to other people something we cause is something that we was a conspiracy or not whether it’s planned. But a lot of people part of or Riots were trying to say something.

[00:20:35] Aqueela: I think that that people were trying to say something. I mean they were crying out for help. And the only way that they know how and the only language that they know how to violence because that’s what this country is actually built on violence. You know our foreign policy allows us to go around the world and destroy the lives of other people in the name of democracy in the name of freedom.

[00:21:09] You know so I think that you know what the people in this country and you know in the riots we’re trying to say it was that you know see us provide some services to us. You know we’re the taxpayers we’re the people in this country and we get nothing. You know we’ve sacrificed our lives. We are in debt to the federal government our children’s children’s children. You know we’ll still be paying off this debt.

[00:21:38] But yet. When we talk to our politicians who you know are who don’t represent us they represent special interests and big business. Slike you know we can’t get anything. They cut and all of our services. You know I said you know they steal all our money used to purchase in books that are outdated. Our water system is soft can even get water out of the faucet. I mean the quality of life is it’s ridiculous. So I think that people were reacting to something. You know I don’t think that I don’t believe that it was like the civil rights movement because the civil rights movement I mean although it came out of out of an incident it became a planned orchestrated you know movement. It was a strategic approach to to try to get you know to try to shift something within the culture whereas the riots was like it was a reaction to something that had happened.

[00:22:53] I think the lesson. Is that we have to invest in human capacity. We have to spend more time in helping people to learn to love themselves to have greater compassion for their own life. To see. To begin to practice love I mean authentic love to learn how to forgive.

[00:23:21] To shift our whole perception of how we see you know humility and vulnerability from weaknesses to actual strengths. So I think that that you know one of the major things that we can learn from the riots is that. Is that we have to invest in helping people to bring balance to the wounds in their personal life because that’s what I saw it was those officers wailing on Rodney King.

[00:24:09] (off mic response to noise) I’m going to interview. You. Well. Thank. You. Coming in with a blower. All right let’s let’s go to. Yes.

[00:24:44] So what were we saying? Lessons?

[00:24:48] Aqueela: So I think that you know one of the major lessons that, you know we need to take away from the Riots is that that there is a wound a deep wound that exist within this culture that needs to be healed. You know just looking at the officers who beat Rodney King, I mean clearly it was uncalled for, and I think that it represented the anguish you know and the fear and you know the sadness that they have in their own personal lives. And we saw it projected onto this other human being the fact that Rodney King was on drugs and that he was driving. I mean you know people don’t just smoke drugs just because I mean you know drugs is only a symptom of a deeper rooted problem and that is rooted in individual self-esteem as well as the spirit of disconnect that’s taking place in our own personal life the fact that our judicial system is broken. And that it’s been riddled by racism you know forever. I mean black people in this country has never had any protection from the law when we perpetrate crimes against each other in a neighborhood. Law enforcement don’t investigate it.

[00:25:57] And up until the 60s you know we could never even get a fair trial in court. I mean so we had no protection not from ourselves or from the court because they prosecuted as wrongly as well. So Rodney King there was no way that Rodney King can get a fair trial going up against you know the police department which is one of the strongest lobbies in this country.

[00:26:21] You know especially in the city of Los Angeles I mean they made a lot of decisions and you know they command a large percentage of the public safety budget. You know in the city of Los Angeles so that was almost that was crazy. And then also people taking out their frustration and anger on innocent bystanders. You know is also another example of that. You know just the wounds, the deep wounds that exist in our own personal lives that we project on others.

[00:26:50] You know whether it be black on Korean where there’s Korean or African-American Latino and black black or Latino Latino and Korean.

[00:26:58] I mean however you spin it it’s all a part of that original wound that is taking place in our own personal lives that we have never brought balance to. So I think that the real lesson is that how do we begin the healing process. How do we begin to ask those critical questions that will make us comfortable enough that would make us vulnerable enough to express really what’s on our heart. And then you know do we actually have the ability within this city within this country to hold space for the hard truth that we do here you know so I think that that you know that’s one of the real lessons that we have to learn from the Riot.

[00:27:44] Miae: Although you say the Riot was not talking to a specific group and talking to Americans and talking to African-American and Latino Americans and it seems like although the Riot you target all the businesses including Latinos and African-American American Koreans why. Also there was some that targeted African Americans and I spoke to leaders of African Americans and they say you know you know Koreans rah rah rah They always the tensions of Korean American citizens. . And I we’re seeing the same thing. So what’s the situation now. You said you know we need to bring some politics isn’t the situation between you know African-Americans and Korean-Americans. Is that better.

[00:28:33] Aqeela: I’m not I’m not really involved with with the black Korean alliance anymore because it was really a political thing. You know it happened to like take care of the politics because nobody really cares about dope. I mean I was a nobody.

[00:28:49] I do. But the system doesn’t necessarily have the time nor the interest in trying to really discover what’s at the root of this pain. A lot of the Korean-Americans that come to this country come out of war torn situations. I mean if we look at the history of what America did in Korea I mean up. I mean man we could you know we could you know you know I mean we could say a whole lot of stuff actually. So the fact that that you know that you know Korean Americans are here I think that’s still you know within their own bones they still hold a lot of you know maybe anger and sadness you know from what they saw you know happened to their country you know perpetrated by us and then the image of the black man in this country, we don’t even we don’t control our own image our image is projected around the world as either some exotic you know oversexed you know individual or the murderer the criminal or the martyr.

[00:29:55] That’s that’s the image that people have of black people worldwide. And so you know when folks come here there’s a lot of racism there is a lot of racism within the system you know in order for you to assimilate to be a part of American culture. You’ve got to be this far from black as you possibly can you know. So we’re all we were the scapegoat for everybody’s problem you know. You know and I have you know you know if you’re if you’re Asian the closer you are to white assimilated into you know white American culture the better you are. If you’re Latino also you assimilate into white American culture the better you are.

[00:30:34] You know black people can’t assimilate into that because the black. The racism is because of our skin color you know. And in working that we can’t do anything about that. You know for the most part. And so you know I think that you know have things gotten better? Probably not. Probably not.

[00:30:56] Because I don’t see any deep dialogue and conversation that’s taking place about bringing violence to the wounds in our personal life. You know I think that you know Koreans as well as black folks have a lot of wounds you know and I know I mean our history in this country I mean 400 years of slavery another 100 years of Jim Crow. I mean up until 1968 when we couldn’t even own an estate in this country.

[00:31:20] You know and I mean we’re still blamed for everything. You know Clinton just you know during the 90s repealed all of the civil rights legislation that black folks fought this man gave their life for. You know. So it tells you how much you know and then people still say you know what the black people won. What do we want. I’m like man we want to be taught to love our self you know and that be OK.

[00:31:52] Because soon as two or three black people get together in one place oh my god they like you know that’s almost a crime. You know and if a black person stand up and starts saying that you know I love black and we need to get together black people they call it racism because you know we live in a very sick country.

[00:32:14] You know the only freedom that exists in this country is is freedom to pursue money at the expense of all of us. That’s what freedom is in America. Freedom is being able to choose 14 different deodorants 25 different tooth pastes.

[00:32:31] You know that’s what freedom is in this country which is ridiculous. But there’s no real freedom to love yourself. I mean that’s an individual quest. And if you try to organize individuals around that type of love.

[00:32:48] (off mic to someone who walked in) Is good. Sir.

[00:32:52] This is Dao Ud.

[00:32:58] Well I don’t know if you have time.

[00:33:02] I wish you would go in a while.

[00:33:19] But I got to tell you about this stuff I just thought the how are you on the phone. I was telling you Ben but I have to tell you about this because we got to we got to go over here to Myron Kahn’s office so that we could set up a meeting with the. (cut off)

[00:33:33] Miae: So might be a tough question that I’m just trying to get all different perspectives and ask your questions.

[00:33:39] This is all good.

[00:33:41] Miae: OK great. So what about. OK. You brought brought up racism among Korean-Americans because the case is racism all over the world. But what about African Americans like you might see new immigrants coming. Do you have racist against Korean Americans, Asian Amerians?

[00:34:11] Aqeela: Absolutely. There’s a lot of racism you know racism is ignorance you know prejudice means to prejudge. You know you prejudge a lot of things. I mean you know most people in this country you know they dislike and they fear what they don’t understand. And you know I mean it’s the same attitude with Latinos Americans you know that you know live here is the same thing. It’s like this whole scarcity mentality thing that I talked about a little earlier is what actually kind of triggers it. There is a belief that there’s not enough. You know when there is really an abundance of things but that’s how people are actually conditioned and programmed in this country that there’s not enough. So when you see another group that comes in you know you’ve got all these vacant you know buildings and stuff in the African-American community Korean-American sees an opportunity they open a business they open up a market a store you know whatever kind of business you know folks just like why do you get the money to do that.

[00:35:19] You know. But. Or these Koreans are taking over the neighborhood. I mean it is this is ignorance that’s all. It’s just ignorance and a scarcity mentality. There’s enough room for all of it to happen. You know Bali is an interesting culture in that you know it’s a collective culture. I mean there’s about you know 50 art galleries right on the same block. You don’t and all of the Silverstone’s all on the same block you know all of the all of the stonemasons all on the same block all the wood carvers all on the same block you know because they see competition as a good thing whereas in this country we see it as negative.

[00:35:58] You know our value system in this country is all messed up. You know and I wouldn’t I wouldn’t assign it to any group of people. We’re all like that. You know so it’s you can’t you can’t really kind of like point the finger and say you know like black people are racist towards Koreans or Koreans are racist towards black people or Mexicans or you know racist towards El Salvadorians. It’s it’s a conditioning process that exists within this country you know. And basically is is bigger than that is well it’s Western philosophical thought.

[00:36:35] That’s what it is. You know it’s a construct that has been given to us that’s based upon a racist view of the world. And it’s like it’s based upon duality good and bad.

[00:36:53] What’s the balance between good and bad. If there’s only good and bad then then then there’s no balancing and there’s nothing to balance these two. Then you don’t get stuck all the time because you can always be looking to judge somebody you’re going to be able to make it looking to make somebody right and make somebody wrong. You know and it’s like that’s you know I had a conversation with a woman who did an interview on us and me and my brother. And you know she was caught up in that duality. She wanted to make somebody wrong. You know the game is wrong. You know the victim is wrong. And I’d like to explain it like with this whole is like with the idea of of domestic abuse.

[00:37:37] You have a man who’s beaten his wife and you have a woman who’s taken a beating to stand there who’s wrong? Now the judicial system is say we’re going to lock the man up as if that’s going to solve the problem because as soon as he get out she’s going to go right back to. In most cases you know they’ll lock the man up and then they give the woman like you know shelter and all of this stuff like that to so-called protect her.

[00:38:05] Somewhere along the way in their conditioning process as a kid he learned that it was right to beat his woman into submission. And somewhere in her condition process and on the way she learned that taking a beating meant that somebody loves you if you’re going to bring balance to that situation.

[00:38:27] You know it’s not I don’t think that you know that you need to prosecute anyone first.

[00:38:33] I don’t think you need to prosecute anyone so to follow what I’m saying. I don’t think that you need to prosecute anyone. I think that both individuals need help. They both need counseling.

[00:38:51] So I didn’t see it but this is just a horror. It’s a hard thing for people to understand because it’s a part of a duality within this culture. Somebody always has to be wrong in this culture. You know and this is what this whole thing that I’m also talking about with the right.

[00:39:05] You know Koreans feel like they took the brunt of the pain. And it’s not necessarily true. African-Americans feel like they took the brunt of the pain and that’s not necessarily true. Mexican-Americans Latino-Americans feel like they took the brunt of the pain and it’s not necessarily true. We’ve all suffered we’ve suffered in our own homelands and we suffer even more in this country based upon this whole dual concept because it has no balancing pole in it. It has no it has no measure of bringing healing. You know what I’m saying to the wound you can’t heal the wound by making it bad because you’re judging it you know. You are really defining it as such. So I’m not I’m not condoning this example of domestic abuse. I’m not condoning what the man has done. And I’m not condoning the woman for staying there and being beaten.

[00:40:14] I’m not saying that any of those is right. I’m not judging it at all. I’m saying that they both need therapy. They need counseling.

[00:40:25] They probably need to be separated so that they can begin to deconstruct the conditioning process that told them that that was OK.

[00:40:35] That’s what needs to happen in their lives.

[00:40:38] Locking the person up in jail doesn’t solve a problem. And there’s a review. There’s a thousand studies a million studies out there that proves it.

[00:40:45] It hardens a person and it makes it worse. There’s people who understand that that’s why they do it.

[00:40:52] Miae: So if you talk about the L.A. riots or society I say you know everybody in our society either the whites or ruling class so people become like Korea. They are all caught up. OK. We have responsibilities you don’t need to work together.

[00:41:13] Aqueela: Absolutely. I’ll tell you this we have a fluent America. We have the so-called poor people in America. You know that class issue. Affluent America believes that it is right because they’re fluent because they have money and everything when it does it’s not true. People say be upstanding respectable citizen wear a tie. Can’t go to work every day. That does not mean that you’re an individual that has integrity and that you are a healthy functioning human being. That does not mean that if you have a suit and tie and a nice car and a big house I don’t mean it just because you don’t have a car. You live on this. You sleep on the street you know it doesn’t mean that you’re not a person that has integrity and that you’re not an upstanding human being.

[00:42:07] You know but what we teach that in the culture that the image of what it is you know at the root you know like for instance the mental physical and psychological abuse that people suffer.

[00:42:23] First of all in our own households you know as children that they never really come to terms with in most cases manifests itself as homicide in urban communities.

[00:42:34] An affluent neighborhood in Beverly Hills Pacific Heights Palisades they same mental physical or psychological abuse that suppressed manifest itself as suicide. Say mood is just the opposite side of the same coin.

[00:42:50] In most cases in affluent neighborhoods they hide behind money because they can buy themselves out of situation it can by themselves either not going into the newspaper you know they can cover it up with you know the abused with an inheritance. All kinds of stuff.

[00:43:05] You know what I’m sayin with with their own societal rules whereas in urban neighborhoods you know it’s all over the front lawn. But somehow in the culture it has shifted because now kids who grew up in affluent neighborhoods they want to be in the ghetto. You know they were a hip hop culture has popularized and made you know poverty seem good. You know and that’s I mean that’s one thing that black folks have always been able to do is being able to take straw in a brick you know to shift you know the whole. I mean you know just like cultural perception. But we don’t control it. So when we shifted somebody else takes it market and promote it you know what I’m saying and makes it into something else.

[00:43:57] But it’s the same wound and you know we’re no different.

[00:44:14] Miae: Anything else you want to say about the LA Riots?

[00:44:15] Aqeela: I’ll tell you. I think that the early ride was a precursor to something else. That hasn’t happened yet within the culture. I think that this country is actually headed for civil war. And I think that the we are being totally emotionally desensitized to violence.

[00:44:41] Against one another I think that we’re being pitted against each other on a large scale because capitalism is an experiment, like communism like socialism. They’ve successfully crashed both of those systems the latter I mean you know communism and socialism capitalism is over and they’re ready for a new experiment.

[00:45:08] I believe that that that that those who who who you know play the streams within this culture they’re going to collapse this whole economy and they’re gonna create so many levels between them. And and where the so-called problem is you know that that before people even wake up to realize what’s going on you know everything will be gone. You know Enron, all of those things, are just minor examples of what’s going to happen. You know because those folks who play the strings they’re global citizens.

[00:45:54] They’ve created their turn because literally they can live anywhere in the world. And through technology they can control everything they orchestrate wars and all types of stuff. And as long as they keep blacks and Latinos fighting is always a keep blacks in Korean Americans fighting.

[00:46:14] You know as long as they keep rich and poor fighting the whole presidential campaign with you know Kerry talking about you know the two Americas I’m like I thought that that was kind of like just so sick. I really did. Because I’m like what two Americans are you talking about. But there’s one America you know there’s a Goliath in the shadow. This is a shadow America you know.

[00:46:41] And the folks who are controlling everything they like to say that you know there is a middle class you know like I’m for the middle class white middle class.

[00:46:51] Middle class is a is a conceptual framework. It means that you have more material possessions but your wounds are just as deep as the person s so-called has nothing as well as those who supposedly are rich that are aspiring to middle class means that your two paychecks from the street whereas poor means that you’re living on the streets basically if you just do day to day you know I’m like this. Having a house having a car and all of this stuff? Man I’m like you know it makes it easy to transverse the culture to go here and to go there and stuff like that but it doesn’t heal the wound and the life.

[00:47:45] You know I think that the LA Riot was was a sign that unless we focus our energy and effort on helping people to address the deep wounds within our own personal life. That we’re going to see this whole country destroy.

[00:48:08] And I think that again that you know that some people were looking forward to that because they are really still in on the money drain and all the money. Privatizing Social Security I mean you know this is stupid stuff. You know I mean we’re in an $87 billion war with Iraq. You know to fight a war that we can never win.

[00:48:29] Still to instill democracy William and to practice democracy you. There was a coup in this country four years ago the people are trying to act like you know it didn’t happen. I mean this started with Ronald Reagan and all of that. I mean people are going to remember that he got shot assassinated Kennedy. Coups happen in this country too. But you know what our media is so powerful that they’ll tell us of something else and we believe it. Some of us believe it.

[00:49:00] You know that’s what I’m like. I’m not fooled. I’m not. I’m not fooled by it you know. And I’m like this I have compassion for those officers, I do, who beat Rodney King. I do. I have compassion for him because I’m like somebody has to help them to address the issues in their personal life. You know I have compassion for Rodney King because I know that he has a deep wound and that’s why he’s consistently in trouble. Because it’s never been addressed.

[00:49:33] Giving him or ordering him a million dollars and stuff you know you give an ignorant person a million dollars and they’re going to do more damage than actually do good. And I’m not saying that I’ve met Rodney King and everything is sit down and talk to him and he ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer you know. I mean he has some real issues. You know but no one no one is really trying to help him to address those issues.

[00:49:57] You know our legal system in this country is whack. You know it’s riddled with racism an old outdated thoughts and ideas. The fact that a person can go to prison. And serve time for a crime that they commit and not be able to come out and be re-employed is ridiculous to me. To me I’m saying that if we elect politicians to do a job then that would be one of the number one policy issues that needs to be addressed. Because an individual in this country is supposed to have the right of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

[00:50:41] But when you deny a person the right to be able to sustain himself to feel like a man or woman to provide for their family I’m like you know you’re destroying the building blocks of this country.

[00:51:01] Miae: Actually let me ask one more question. OK. All right. OK. What time.

[00:51:08] Aqeela: Oh my God.

[00:51:09] Miae: Is there any community meetings among different races Korean-Americans African-Americans Latinos.

[00:51:20] Aqeela: Yeah there were quite a few community meetings after the riots that were organized by a lot of different groups. I mean so there were a lot of dialogues and conversation that happened.

[00:51:31] They were political in nature though and not the conversations but the motivation to do them were political so that someone can take credit for it and say that this is what I’ve organized and what I’ve done. So it wasn’t really about trying to get to that when get to the heart of things because it takes time. And that’s something that you know that we entered into in this culture. Everything has to happen now. You know what I’m saying. That other countries if you go to around the world you know everything is In sh Allah you know it is like you know things take for ever to happen. You know I’ve said but you know what. Things take so long because people with a lot of time on you know trying to deal with the heart in some cases you know but at the same time I mean the whole world you know and I’ve I’ve spoken like I was in Indonesia. I was speaking with a lot of the you know brothers and sisters over there and you know they were saying pretty much that they suffer from the same thing. It’s is called a silence. It’s a taboo to speak about certain things you know.

[00:52:34] And I was telling them that you know but they all idolize America because they’ve never been here and everything like oh you guys have it so great. It’s FREE. Everybody talks I’m like hey who told you that. I don’t believe that my freedom of speech is just a word. You know you can’t really say anything. I’m like you can say anything but don’t think that there won’t be no consequences and repercussions behind it. You know I’m like it it’ll be distorted and I’ll have of stuff. But yeah.