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Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert. This is part of our Black Voices series. Yeah, our bonus episodes, which I love.


Yeah, me too. Today, we're going to talk to Robert Livingston, who is a social psychologist at the Harvard Kennedy School. He studies the science underlying implicit bias and racism. He has a new book out called The Conversation How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations. This was just the most wonderful conversation.


It was it was so informative to he framed a few things in a way that I had not heard before. Like, he explains, equity versus equality in a way that has really stuck.


It was a ding, ding, ding.


It will be because I'll keep referring to it every now, every few days before we get in the show.


You just had a great experience with a black owned business.


You want to tell me? Well, yeah. And I just want to be transparent. So on these episodes, we normally do two shout outs to black owned businesses in lieu of a couple of ads, but we actually have filled that space with ads. But I would still like to shout out those businesses. We're going to do it right now. Perfect.


I bought a sweatshirt yesterday, just yesterday, just yesterday from a black owned business called Aleah Wapnick. I really hope I'm pronouncing that right. It's a Flywire W.A. and E.K., this awesome woman, and she makes the most beautiful clothes. To be honest, I'm upset with her because everything was sold out except one thing, OK?


And I bought it immediately. It didn't have my size as your favorite thing. I didn't have my size and I bought it immediately.


Didn't matter. They're gorgeous. And I found it on a blog and it was like in the comments, people were talking about the best sweatshirt and this came up.


Protip if anyone wants to sell anything to Monica, just tell her that all the other ones have been sold and it's the last one.


And check in on, you know, there's waitlists and stuff. So buy sweaters and this one only extends to the Los Angeles area.


I'm sorry, but Bledsoe's my favorite barbecue restaurant. It's so good.


Bledsoe's Bledsoe No Blood PSOE.


I believe it will. Let's see. I think I think you've added a knee. You don't. All right, I'm going to look at my I'm going to look at my food delivery app.


Hold on one second B.L. you Daeso apostrophe s look.


So we're were both wrong. Yes. The most amazing barbecue in Los Angeles and Sydes. Oh beautiful sides.


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He's in our chat. How are you doing? I'm doing good. Dr. Livingston, are you bummed that if you Google your name, you're going to get one of the fathers of the Constitution? Right, or one of these early founding fathers taking up all the real estate is horseshit?


Yeah, this is the one advantage of being named DACS. There's just not a bunch out there.


Right. Is that your Christian name? It is. It is, yeah. My mom and dad had read a book in the lead character's name was DACs and they said, let's go for it. Where are you from originally?


So I was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and that's where I spent most of my time. But I've lived in six states and four foreign countries, so I get around.


Do you have a favorite? My favorite place to visit is Turkey. Istanbul is my favorite city in the world, really. It has the optimal balance of chaos and order, if you will. Oh, OK.


Good. I need you to drill down on the order because when I look at it, it looks very bright, very frenetic, very exciting. And I'm a little bit like that seems maybe like too chaotic.


There's a method to the madness because there are places I've been that are chaotic. They're just chaos and you deal with it. But Turkey just seems chaotic. Oh, I like this.


Is it comparable to any other foreign or European country or is it its own thing? And that's why you love it.


It's its own thing. But I would say it's most comparable to Spain. I don't know if you've been to Spain and, you know, people go out to eat restaurants don't open before nine o'clock and the party starts at 1:00 a.m. and it goes to 8:00 in the morning. And Spain just has a different rhythm. And I think that's the most similar country to Turkey and it's Mediterranean. So the similarities in the cuisine, a lot of fish, a lot of olive oil, you know, and then a crazy history, one of the most historical places you could visit.


And that's what I like about it, too.


So you just hit the number one criteria for whether I like cities or I don't. And that is rythm. So I'll be places and I'm like, yeah, it's beautiful. That's a big, tall building that's got all the extreme of a great city, but there's just no rhythm happening here. And then conversely, you go down to Austin, Texas, they don't have a ton to look at. And I'm like, oh, I can feel the rhythm all around me.


Exactly. Yeah. Now, how did you end up at Harvard?


Like most things in life, it had something to do with my network. So I was in England at the time because I had accepted a position because again, I'm a wanderer. You can't tell. I don't mind packing up and going to some exotic place. And I got an offer to take over as head of the Organizational Behavior Department at the University of Sussex. And I had my own center. And when I was there at the centre, I discovered my real passion.


I like to say I transitioned from being a gardener to being a florist. When I was just a straight researcher. I had my hands in the dirt cultivating blooms, if you will. And then when I was head of the centre, I interacted with the Metropolitan Police, the NHS, the National Health Care Service, all these organisations to sort of give away my flowers, if you will. And so I got into the florist business, like, how do you arrange these flowers to the perfect bouquet to give it to people at weddings?


Because what's the point in staying in a greenhouse if no one ever sees the beauty of your flowers? And so when I was in England, I discovered the passion of sort of giving away the science. And then Harvard. I was giving a talk and they said, well, you know, we're a holding company of entrepreneurs. We'll let you come here and do whatever you want to do. If you don't want to publish anymore, we'll let you be a practitioner, but an academic at the same time.


And I was like, really? You know, because most places aren't set up. Harvard makes its own rules. So I sort of took on this position to be an academic practitioner, which led to this book that we're going to talk about, which is sort of trying to distill the science, synthesize it, assemble it like a book into something that people can digest and use to make profound and sustainable change around racism. So that's like my purpose in life.


Now, where did you get your doctor degree? Because Lexington, Kentucky, and then ending up in England, I'm seeing already you're privy to two dramatically different racial structures. And I wonder where you went to college if you maybe even had a third, and that somehow helps you on your journey just to have witnessed all this stuff firsthand.


Yeah, I went from coast to coast to coast and then to the Midwest. So basically I started my undergrad at Tulane University and I did a study abroad in Spain, which is how I came to know Spain and fell in love with Spain. And I majored in Spanish. That was one of my things. And then I went to UCLA. So I'm starting at the Gulf of Mexico coast. No one went to California, UCLA. That was coast number two.


And I was getting a Ph.D. in romance, language and linguistics. So something completely unrelated. But I was looking at themes of oppression in Latin American literature and colonialism. So I'd always been interested in that. In undergrad, I did a thesis on a comparative study of racism in Brazil, in the United States. But long story short, I was hiking in Joshua Tree and there was a psychology student who said, you know, you're doing really cool research.


Did you know you could do this in the real world, and I was like, no, there's a field where you can actually study racism and discrimination. She's like, yeah, you know, why don't you come in, audit a class? And that was the beginning of the end. So I left that program. I got a Masters. I was a hair away from my Ph.D., but decided to start all over again in social psychology. So I started at Yale, so I went from coast to coast to coast.


And my professor at UCLA said, don't go to Yale because I got into Princeton and Yale. He said, go to Ohio State. That's like the best program in the country in what you're doing. And as a Ph.D. student, go to programs, not schools. And I didn't think I could live in Columbus, Ohio. So I went to Yale. And then I was like, you know what? I can't live in New Haven, Connecticut.


So the professor at Ohio State said, would you guys take me? And fortunately, I had my own funding because I want an NSF fellowship. So I was able to export that. And I went to Ohio State and worked with one of the top five people in the field, Marilyn Brewer, who's like the godmother of social identity. Then I started off I had my first job at the University of Wisconsin in psychology and Afro-American Studies, then went to a business school at Kellogg Northwestern and then a business school in England and now public policy school at Harvard.


So I get around academically as well.


Wow. Having been in all those places, would it be silly to even attempt this or is it irrelevant? Does it all have different shapes? But would you be able to rank the experience of a black man in all these different places? Like certainly it was worse and some and better in others. Does any place stick out as like, oh, they're doing something different here and now through seeing that my eyes are open to how fucked up it is elsewhere?


Yeah, well, I'll start by saying, you know, there was racism everywhere and all of those places. Any time you have black and white people together or brown and white people or beige and brown people, you're going to have racism. I think it's just inevitable. However, the quality of it and the quantity of it did vary from place to place. A place that wasn't as racist as I thought it would be was Madison, Wisconsin, of all places, when I was at the University of Wisconsin.


And part of it is Madison is a really, really liberal city. And there aren't enough black people there, I think, to present a threat. People are groups, so they're all about, please, black people come. We want to roll out the red carpet and have you here. Oh, you're in my restaurant. Please, you know, white person, get up and let the black person sit down. You know, we don't have very many of those.


So it was kind of his overcompensation, if you will. Anyway, it's been interesting. Is that worse?


I was just going to say, getting so close to Monica and having to watch her navigate some of these situations where someone says something that they didn't realize is racist and they say it and then they get self-conscious in front of her and then she has to say, oh, it's OK. And then this is the part that would just kill me. Now she has to comfort this person like it's easy being a fine almost. I would if I could handle the hate.


I could not handle having to fucking console people for their mistakes.


Yeah, and you're absolutely right. It was hard because there was a lot of not hatred, not malice. But, you know, you're sitting down in a bar and all of a sudden you feel someone's fingers in your hair and you're like, what is that? Is something crawling on me? Is that a bug? No, it's a white person touching my hair because they've never seen it. And they you know, and those kind of things, of course, don't happen in L.A. or even New Orleans.


Right. Because you're not this exotic sort of thing. But they're they're just fascinated by you and they're curious. And it's not to tell you to get out. It's like, oh, we want to be closer to you. We want to touch on you. And so, you know, it presents its own challenge. Yeah. So that's why I started by saying there was racism everywhere. But the quality and then how it gets manifested was different in each place.


Even as a kid.


The one thing I did notice is I'm from Detroit and we would go down to Florida. Sometimes we drive there on vacation any time we spent time in Atlanta, even as like a twelve year old, I was like, oh, man, black people have such a different life down here than they have in Detroit, by the way, kind of counter to the stereotype of the South being more oppressive. I had not seen being from Michigan middle class black people driving new cars, eating at nice restaurants, living in nice houses.


And I think that's the first time I kind of became aware of what different experiences you could be having as a black person given where you're at in the country.


Yes, I think one of the reasons I study what I study, if I had to sort of psychoanalyze myself, is, you know, I grew up in a very nurturing but sheltered environment. And this was a nurturing and sheltering environment and sheltered environment that was one hundred percent black. My neighborhood was one hundred percent black, but it was a black middle class neighborhood. You know, I ride my bike in the neighborhood with black kids, with people, you know, waving at me from the front porch.


It could be the principal of my elementary school. It could be my dentist, it could be my parents lawyer, like it was sort of this middle class black. MUNITY and even the school that I was in was half black, half white, but I didn't know that white people thought we were inferior like that was that was a shock to me when I was like, I didn't know that really what they thought of black people until I moved to New Orleans, because even in my advanced classes, you know, there were black people there.


I went back to my 30 year high school reunion. And, you know, I'm still friends after all these years with a lot of the people that I grew up with. And I'm like the underachiever. Some of them are like star urologists and top corporate lawyers. And these are people who are very much proud of being black. So I never understood this sort of notion that blackness meant incompetence or blackness meant criminality. Like I no one ever got shot in my neighborhood in 18 years.


I lived there like, you know, when I saw it on TV and all this. So I wasn't completely sheltered. But I was really intrigued by some of the attitudes about the black community that I didn't share. And so I said, let me study this, you know. Yeah. You think I'm inferior.


Like, again, how your own story becomes a gift in your research, in your work, which is if you had grown up around it, you might not have thought to question it. It would just seem like it is in what is is. And you don't necessarily always question what is is. So you do a great job in the book, The Conversation, how seeking and speaking the truth about racism can radically transform individuals and organizations.


You give us the why, when and how of racial biases. So could you walk us through that? I think people have a very binary idea of racism, right. Which is like I'm in the Klu Klux Klan or I'm not, you know, or I like black people in quotes. So I'm not racist or I don't have bias. But of course, all human beings have bias of all kinds. So, yeah. Could you help us understand how this came to be?




So answer two questions. One is how the book came to be and how it's structured. And the second is what is racism and how do people understand what racism is? And those two questions kind of bleed together. But, you know, the way it came to the book was almost like a seven step plan. Like when someone has a problem, whether it's alcoholism or drug addiction or like climate change or weight loss, like any of the sort of challenges that face humans, how is it that they overcome those challenges?


And I sort of structure the book around it. And I have this model that was published in Harvard Business Review that has this five step plan, if you will, and I call it press pretests. The very first step, whether you're an alcoholic. Right. Because when you go to AA, they make you stand up and say, hey, my name is Robert and I'm an alcoholic.


I do it a couple of times a week, so I don't come here. Yeah.


Yeah, right, right. Because there has to be that acknowledgement of the problem and how, you know, the problem is something that you own. America has not done that with racism. So the very first part of the model, which is P is problem awareness. Is there a problem? And that's really important. And it seems obvious to a lot of people, of course, racism exists, but there's a lot of research out there that shows that most white people don't think that racism is a real thing.


It's like the Easter Bunny or unicorn or the tooth fairy. It's something that used to exist maybe, but it went extinct like one hundred years ago or the spottings of it every once in a while. But it's not this real thing that's roaming around the forest or walking around our streets. And if that's the case, if you're in denial. Right. And it's not just for racism, but anything, if you don't think you have a drinking problem, if you don't think you have a drug problem, if you don't think climate change is real, then already any opportunity to change it or resolve the problem is dead in the water because you have acknowledged it.


So I start off the very first part of the book saying, do people think racism is real and how do we know it is? Because the book really takes kind of an inquiry approach rather than an advocacy approach. I'm not there to preach anything to anybody. I'm there to ask questions. And I say maybe it does exist, maybe it doesn't. But if it did, how would we know? And it's like, oh, OK, we can send out these resumes.


Everything's the same, except for the name of the person Lakisha Washington and one and Emily Walsh and the other. Will Emily get more interviews then, Lakisha, despite the fact the resumes are the same? So there's a million different ways that you can empirically investigate it. And the way to get to your first question, dacs that I define racism is any differential treatment or behavior on the basis of race. So when you have a different outcome, when people are perceived differently, when they're judged differently, when they're treated differently on the basis of race, regardless of what the intent is, then racism has occurred.


Mm hmm. The timing of this is so interesting because of what happened with the Capitol a couple of days ago. And I mean, it was just so highlighted the difference in the way people are treated, if they're white versus black or brown, I think that was a big takeaway that. Everyone was sort of talking about was like, whoa, if this were black people, what would the outcome look like?


Yeah, well, we kind of know because we have a lot of footage of this year.


Exactly. Yes. It's not super theoretical this year. I'm just going to bring up this one that I just was exposed to recently when I was watching thirty four thirty on Michael Vick incredible documentary about his life. And you have the advantage of actually going back and listening to the way all the sports newscasters spoke about him and all black quarterbacks, which is a very regular thing. They would just say directly on TV in the year. Two thousand and five was, you know, he's got unparalleled physical ability.


But can he run an offense? Right. And run an offense? Is code for is he smart enough? This is a position on the field that's supposed to require great intellect. And there was about 30 different ways they could say it and mask it. But it happened to all the black quarterbacks prior to Michael Vick. And I think it continues to happen. And I largely don't even think those people are even aware of what they're fucking saying. You know, not to excuse it.


I just think it is so immersed. And again, if you're only definition of racism is slavery or the Voters Rights Act or any number of civil rights movements that are on the other side of, if that's the only definition, then you're going to miss all this other stuff. But just watching your Sunday NFL game, you're going to be inundated with this.


Absolutely. To give you another example related to what you were both talking about with the police and what's going on now? You know, I do a lot of these workshops and anti bias seminars with different executives, and I do some of them with police and with one police chief. I asked him what percentage of police officers on your force do you think are racist? And he said, oh, you know, maybe one percent like we've got some bad apples or whatever.


You one one percent, maybe two percent. And then I said, OK, now let's imagine a scenario. There are some teenagers there, about 16, 17 years old. They're horsing around. Right. So you set up a roadblock and they're moving the cones. What percentage of officers do you think would treat a group of white teenagers doing that differently than a group of black teenagers doing the exact same thing? And then he scratched his head and said, oh, my gosh, now I think the numbers about 70 or 80 percent.


And I said, well, that's racism, right? It's not. So in his mind, he had it as people who hated blacks and were out to prosecute know prosecutors said, no, I'm just talking about officers that would treat if we had a time machine and could take the same scenario and switch out a white person for a black person, you know, what percentage of people would treat them differently? And then he said the vast majority of them would treat the black teenagers differently than the white teenagers.


And I said, well, that's racism.


Yeah. You know, to add to that, one of the things that I talk about in the book is the second fallacy, which is that people assume racism to be a psychological phenomenon. And it is it's what people think. It's what they feel. It's how they perceive other people. But it's also structural. And I use the metaphor of the salmon and the stream to sort of illustrate that, that, you know, people think the problem is the fish, but it's also the current in the stream.


And that if you're living in the stream and there's a current, it's going to push you in a certain direction. And that's what racism is. It's a force. It's a social force. It's the product of history. It's the product of economics. It's the product of lots of different policies, laws. There are so many pillars of it in the community that you can't see and that don't directly reside in people that, you know, you've got these two different causes or origins of it functioning simultaneously and interactively because the structures influence people's thoughts and the thoughts lead to the creation of certain structures.


And so, you know, I think it's complex.


Yeah, just last week on 60 Minutes, you know, they had a segment about a guy who has tried six times for the same crime. And I was watching it and I was going, you know, we've got this really seemingly good understanding now of the bias in policing. But I think if you had to measure damage, I think on the jurisprudent side, it's probably even more heinous and more stark. And yet that thing's not really out in the open.


I mean, the treatment once you're in the system is so dramatically different. I'd argue it's even more different than a roadside stop is. Yeah, that's not what we seem to be focusing on. And then you've got to imagine just every layer. Then I'm like, oh, yeah. And then above that, it's even more, you know, and part of it, you know, and this is not to get cynical or pessimistic, it's just to be realistic.


The system was designed to work that way. So, you know, the system wasn't created to be equal handed, although that's the ideal. And we talk about the scales of justice and how justice is blind and so forth and so on. But at least in this country. Black people were never meant to succeed, they were meant to generate wealth for white people. That's how the system was set up. And many white people said, oh, why are black people always making such a big deal about race?


And it's like not white people made a big deal about race. Such a big deal that even if you looked white, if you had a black great, great, great great grandfather who was still black. Right. There's a movie about that called The Free State of Jones with Matthew McConaughey. It's based on real world events where they actually put a white man, quote unquote, in jail because he married a white woman and his great, great, great grandparent was black.


That's a big deal. Like if you really you know, the one drop rule is making race a really, really big deal. And so I think we live in a system that has always made race a big deal. And it's kind of hard to get away from that when we talk about the way in which structures create disparate outcomes for people of color on every index of significance, whether it's the criminal justice system, whether it's income, whether it's wealth, whether it's health outcomes, I mean, you name it.


And there is not a single index on which white people are doing worse than black people, despite the fact that many white people see themselves as victims. Yeah.


When you were describing the history, I just kind of thought of the parallel between having a nuclear reactor in a neighborhood, and it's just they're poisoning the ground endlessly and then the nuclear reactor is outlawed and dismantled. But then for generations and generations, people are affected by this poisoned ground. But we're like, well, no, we got rid of the nuclear reactor. You know, it's like that didn't make everything go away or heal everything. OK, so problem awareness, which was three, certainly agree there's a problem.


And then what's the root cause analysis.


So root cause analysis is this process of investigation and discovery that once you realize there's a problem, the next step is to understand where the problems are coming from, what's causing it. So if we use a medical metaphor, some people could have a problem, like you could have cancer and you may not know it. And that's a problem because you don't have awareness that there's a problem. But then there are other people who get sick and they realize there's a problem because they're experiencing a headache or they're experiencing nausea.


Then the doctor's job is to diagnose you to figure out what is causing your nausea, because something like nausea can be caused by lots of different things. It can be caused by a stomach virus. It can be caused by stress and anxiety, can be caused by pregnancy, can be caused by myriad different factors. And I think if Americans think, OK, racism does exist but it's the product of bad apples, then you're going to miss all the systemic factors and you're going to fail to address the systemic causes of it.


And guess what? The disease is still going to be there because you're going to end up treating the symptoms and leaving the illness itself there because you haven't properly diagnosed it. And so that's the significance of a root cause. Analysis is sort of digging deeper into the underlying causes of the problem. Once you realize that a problem exists.


And by the way, this shouldn't have to be done, but I do think it has to be done. This overlaps with your ground rules for a productive conversation. And one of them that I like the most is focused on the problem and not the person, because I think where a lot of these debates on race go off the rails is it is seems like a personal attack to the person as opposed to a systemic problem. And I think the more we focus on the system, the less again, it's embarrassing that we'd have to account for people's defensiveness, but it would be stupid not to account for people's defensiveness.


You know, I think people can accept that they grew up in a racist system. I think it's hard for them to accept they are racist. That's just a harder leap. To your point, am I going to go through America and fix each person one by one, by some conversion therapy, or am I going to fix the round up systems? Exactly, exactly.


And I think the latter is a much more productive approach. And the second advantage to focusing on the problem and not the person is based on research by Eddie, Jen, Karen, Jan and colleagues that found that, you know, conflict can be good when you're in a team and you're trying to work on a project or, you know, you're trying to come up with a new technology that you can get greater innovation, creativity and higher performance if there's a certain level of conflict or disagreement.


But it has to be the right kind of conflict. It has to be what they call task based conflict and not person based conflict. So if you disagree with the person they want to go left and you say, no, I don't think we should go left, I think we should go right. And so there's no I think we should be left. No, I think we should go north or south. Those are good conversations to have because more information comes to the table and it ends up leading to greater creativity and innovation.


But if you have person conflict where one person says you're an idiot for thinking we should go left, then all of a sudden everything breaks. Down when you have these ad hominem attacks and so, you know, there's empirical evidence that not focusing on the person or attacking a person, but rather the problem and trying to understand this case, the problem is racism and not the racist in many ways might end up being more productive. I agree, I just going to tell you, you probably have no interest in it, but in moviemaking, one of my favorite versions of a director giving me a note is, you know, I need your help.


This scene has to be this to make the next scene work. So it's got to be kind of lighthearted so that when we go into the next scene, there's a real drop. Right. So they let me in on the global problem we're all trying to solve. But if you come at me and just go, you're too serious in the scene, actually, now it's like, well, I can defend why that's a good choice. But if you let me in on the problem, I'm happy to help you with that.


Now, that's a great example, DAX. Can I use that in one of my presentations or some? Because I never thought about it that way. And it's similar to, you know, getting the best out of an actor. Yeah. And when I direct, I try to do that to people all the time to go like, hey, this isn't personal at all, but I'm in charge of this global thing that's got to make sense in this little piece of the puzzle right now has got to kind of be on this tone.


So help me get there and, you know, let them take a stab at helping you solve it. Exactly. Please call me.


I'm just want to be quoted by professor. It's a bucket list thing.


Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.


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So tell me about empathy, that's the E in press, so the E, in my opinion, I think, is both the most difficult and the most important component of the model. And that is once you understand there's a problem and you understand what's causing the problem, do you care? And it turns out that whether we're talking about addiction or whether we're talking about climate change or whether we're talking about racism, some people just don't care. Another great movie is leaving Las Vegas with Nicolas Cage.


Oh, I love it. Yeah. And he's suffering from it. And he's like, you know, I don't care. I'm going to go to Vegas, drink myself to death, come join the party. Don't try to stop me, you know, and of course, he does drink himself to death.


And in real life, the writer of it did. Oh, really? I didn't know. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Very autobiographical. Yeah.


OK, with racism, many people and we're sort of seeing this now on TV, we're seeing this unfold there like, you know, I'm a white male. Racism only helps me in some ways because it gives me unearned privilege and status. And so not only do I not care about it, in some cases, I actually want to keep it around because it gives me a boost. And so if that's the case where people either don't care about solving a problem or they don't see it as a problem because it's something that helps them, then there's going to be no motivation to actually make progress towards a resolution.


And so I've spent a lot of like three chapters talking about the importance of caring about racial equity. You know, and it's not just the business case. You know, there's a moral case. There's a collective interest case. There's lots of reasons why white people should care about greater equality. There's at least three types of people. And one of those types, what we call competitors or oppressors or people who actually want inequality because it makes them feel more powerful.


And I think that's a unique and naive assumption that Americans make, is that everyone apriori wants equal opportunity for everybody know there are people who don't want equal opportunity. They want dominance. They want hierarchy as long as they're at the top and they will work to keep it. And so they don't care.


I don't argue at all that that group exists. But can I offer a fourth group, which I think is significant? I think a lot of people misunderstand the term white privilege. I don't think they truly understand what it means. And I think what they believe is being proposed is that I lose my white privilege now as I understand racial equality. And what I see as a utopian future is that black people have the same privileges, white people. So it doesn't require losing your state of being as much as it requires everyone else having the same state of being.


I do think it's sometimes proposed in a loss and we are loss adverse. So it's proposed as a loss adverse equation as opposed to a bringing everyone else up to a great standard.


Does that make any sense? It does. It makes sense what you're saying, but I don't know if I totally agree with it. And I'll tell you why. I'll tell you a story. And this is a story that I talked about in the book, which is Betty's Butter Cookies, that there's a mother named Betty. And we could make him a father named Bruce, a parent who bakes cookies on Sunday and has twin daughters, Zelda and Frances.


Every Monday, they give Frances four cookies and they give Zelda zero cookies. Why? It's not because Zelda doesn't like cookies. Both kids like cookies equally. It's because Francis is the favorite. And so they give all the cookies to Francis Ford, to Francis Zero, to Zelda every day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. This goes on for years. Well, the PTA finds out about it. Other parents and they shame, Betty, they say, how could you treat your two daughters that way?


That's unfair. She feels guilty. She says, OK, I'm going to change the cookie policy. Now, all of a sudden, she gives Francis instead of four cookies, three cookies, and she gives Zelda instead of two cookies, one cookie. So it went from four zero to three one. Now, instead of having one unhappy daughter, which was Zelda, who used to get zero cookies. Now you have two unhappy daughters. Zelda is unhappy because the situation is still not fair.


But Francis is unhappy because she was used to getting four cookies and now she only gets three cookies. So let me relate that back to your example, because there was a loss, quote unquote, if you want to frame it in relative terms that Francis was used to getting all the cookies, all four of them, and now she only gets most of the cookies, three cookies. And that feels like a loss because she used to have an extra cookie.


But that's because the system, the cookie policy was messed up to begin with. She never should have gotten four cookies. They should have gotten two cookies apiece from the beginning. If we relate this to racism, white males, historically speaking, have gotten all the cookies. What do I mean by that? I mean, all of the Fortune 500 CEOs up until the late 1970s were white and male, despite the fact that there were only 40 percent of the population, all of the US presidents, up until two thousand eight were white males.


Right. And so when you have one black president, that seems like a loss the same way they're going from four cookies to three cookies seems like a loss. So I think we have to really understand, you know, take into account the larger context when deciding whether there's loss or not. See.


So I love your analogy, but I'm going to push back. And that is what I think is exactly broken about it, because you have a zero sum analogy. There are only four cookies to be had. And that's what I disagree with you about. Now, I don't need for me when I get pulled over for me to be handcuffed inappropriately, it's not a zero sum. We can pull over black people and show them the same respect that I'm given without taking some away from me.


Everyone should just be raised to the level of civility that I'm receiving. I don't think life's a zero sum game. I don't think there's a set finite amount of wealth in this country. I think everything can be lifted. And I think when it's proposed as the cookie plan, yeah, people are saying, wait, I'm going to have to lose something to make these people equal. And I actually don't think it's a zero sum game.


And so let me clarify that. The example that you gave when it comes to respect and when it comes to treatment, that's not a zero sum game. There's enough respect to go around for everybody. But when it comes to let's talk about GDP.


So GDP is based solely on how educated this population is, how innovative they are. Every time we invest in that, in educating more people and getting more doctor degree holders, the overall GDP goes up in that investment. It is not capped. It's not finite. Every time we invest in it, we make more money on the investment. So I see unlimited growth with all these people empowered and given opportunity. I don't see we've got to cut everything in half.


I don't know.


Now I get what you're saying, but it gets to the difference between absolute deprivation and relative deprivation. And I gave an example of zero cookies versus four cookies, but I could have easily made it to cookies versus six cookies or, you know, it very handy. Yeah. Yeah.


And what I'm saying is, even if you could, because I give this example in. A book for some people, even if you could invent a genie who says, OK, I'll wave a magic wand and expand the California coastline so that everyone can have a house in Malibu. Are you on board with that? Some people would say no, because I want to be the only one who has a house in Malibu and there's no way to be the king of the mountain.


Right. You can have Mt. Everest unless there's a valley. So in that sense, it's not even a question of whether the resources are available. It's a question of whether people want because there are a lot of Fortune 500 companies that can they can afford to pay employees more money. But it may mean that they get smaller bonuses because the profits are lower and they won't starve because maybe they'll just make 60 million a year versus 80 million a year or whatever it happens to be.


But as humans, everything's relative. I totally agree with you that there's a big section of this population that are the Malibu house owners that want to be the only one that own house there. I don't deny that at all. I totally think there are many winner take all people who are like, yeah, we're the winners. Why on earth are we going to try to not be the winners? Exactly. And I also I'm scared that there's a good section of people that don't understand what's being proposed and they're afraid and they don't need to be.


That's my fear.


Well, you know, there was a wonderful group of essays in The New York Times on the 16 19 project. And Matthew Desmond wrote an article in what he called Low Road Capitalism. And it's a complicated concept. And he talks about it not only in that article, but his book evicted. But it's based on the fact that people are used up and exploited rather than having a capitalism where everyone wins. And the idea is that capitalism in and of itself doesn't have to be dirty.


But like you said, it kind of has to be spread around. But some people don't see it that way. They see it as a winner take all that. Basically, my job is to break your bank. My job, if I'm a business, is to put you out of business. My job is to maximize profit. And in that sense, slavery, and which is what he argues it's based on, is from an economic standpoint, a good system for plantation owners because they have free labor.


Right. They're using you know, I think there are enough people who don't want to share because they see winning as being so far out ahead of everyone else, that this whole idea of equality, especially when we talk about race, because right now we're having a race neutral conversation just about inequality, equality. But once you add race into it and the fact that people have been taught that they're better than another group, then there's an ego. There's lots of defects in it as well.


Yeah. Yes. If you are equal to someone inferior to you, then you have underachieved. Exactly. Yeah.


How do you combat that mentality or is it possible the winner take all people?


Well, let me talk about the three times because that's the one. And you're right, by the way, the research shows there are only about 12 percent of the population. These people who are winner take all a bigger chunk of the population are what you call individualists. So they're just going to do what's great for them. So is sharing good? Yeah, I'll do it is being selfish. Good. Yeah, I'll do it. And we see this politically.


It's like, OK, whatever way the wind blows that benefits me the most is what I'll do. And that's about thirty eight percent of the population. So, so many people are just out to maximize their own self-interest. They're not out to oppress anyone else. Right. Because the competitor is like I can only win if you lost the individual. This is like I don't really care what happens to you. I just want to maximize what happens to me.


But in both of those cases, the individuals are what we call pro self. They're either unconcerned about other people or they deliberately want to keep other people down. About half of the population is what you call pro social, where they really want things to be more equitable. And so, you know, when you look at it, then in terms of what people are willing to do, that puts a lot of people in the category of not caring either because they're sort of apathetic and indifferent or because they really want oppression and social hierarchy and inequality.


But, you know, there are people who want it and who work for it. But then the question becomes, which I get into later in the book, and which is two of the acronyms that we've yet to discuss is what are you willing to do to actually produce that equitable outcome that you say you want to see?


There's also a sales pitch to be made to the individuals because I'm going to out myself as having been an individuals. So for a lot of my life, I have recognized racial injustice and I care, but I certainly don't care more about that than feeding myself then taking care of my two daughters. And it's kind of like, well, I'm going to handle my stuff. And if there's extra bandwidth, then sure, I'll be concerned about that. But my primary goal is to take care of me and whoever is dependent on me.


And then if there's leftover space, I'll do it. And as I've gotten more comfortable. The struggle is not a struggle for me, I have been more generous with my time or cared more, and I do think there is a way to win over that segment by saying, believe it or not, you actually pay a price. Yes, even if you're an individualist, you're going to pay some hard costs for this.


Yeah. So that's what I talk about in the book in chapters eight and nine is why individual should care, because there are some people who just organically or naturally care and then there are others that are kind of indifferent right now.


I'm not proud of that.


I just wanted to be honest about it, you know, and you're not alone. There's lots of people who are individualists. I mean, there have been whole books written on the rationality of self-interest, if you want to call it that. And I think there has to be some balance of collective interest in self-interest. So there's you know, it's not inherently pathological. But I think for those people, you have to sort of make a case. They have to understand what's in it for them.


And if there's something in it for them, then they will do it, whereas the prosocial sort of do it because that's who they are and it's their values. And then the competitors don't do it. They won't do it at all. So it's hard to get them to cooperate because what they want is an unequal outcome and with themselves getting a larger share of the pie. So I think and I'm glad you brought this up, because what that means for leaders is they have to have multiple strategies or approaches because, you know, the better angels argument is going to fall on some deaf ears.


There are people who just, you know, what is the better angels doing for me or other people say, I don't even believe in better angels.


And we know people generally respond to incentives. People respond to incentives. So the people that are just good people are married to one of them. It doesn't take effort for her. She gets her self-esteem from doing that. I don't get a self-esteem bump from it. I do it because intellectually I know it's moral. I just not like her. Yeah.


Paul Bloom's book talks about that. It's a book called Against Empathy, where he's saying, you know, all this empathy stuff is not necessarily the cure. That what we need is what he calls rational compassion, because some people are just not going to feel for other people. We love Paul Blum. Oh, OK. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We talk about him all the time. Yeah. So for the individuals, what are some of the cost they're paying that they don't even recognize their pain?


I think it's easier in an organization to point that out. Why racial inequality is quite expensive. Yeah. At the end of the day. So I don't know that people recognize that.


Yeah, there is a wonderful book where the entire book focuses on that. It's called The Inner Level. It's by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. And the book is very, very well done. And they talk about all of the benefits of greater equality from greater mental health to greater safety to greater standard of living. So they looked at like one hundred and fifty different countries and looked at the magnitude of inequality and standard of living. And the correlation was sort of off the charts in terms of people who live in more equal societies, enjoy life more.


You know, I was in Bogota, Colombia, once visiting some friends and, you know, they lived in a virtual fortress and I mean, with razor wire and things around their home. And one of them had been kidnapped before. And it's like, who wants to be a mega rich person in a society with so much inequality where you have to look over your shoulders and you can't even walk down the street?


That's a great point compared to Canada, right? I'd rather have two million dollars in live in Canada than have one hundred and fifty million dollars and have to live in Bogota the way that my friends were living there. And so that's part of the advantage that everyone has, is you give up a little bit, but you get a lot back in terms of quality of life.


You look at medical care costs, which is something we spend the most on in this country that's so driven by poverty, inequality, childhood trauma, all these things that we could put some investment into prevent. You look at the lawsuits that these major cities pay out in the police brutality things. I remember watching a frontline on what Chicago has paid out and it's in the billions and billions of dollars. It's so costly.


But, you know, we're not good. This is Daniel Kahneman book Thinking Fast and Slow. We're not rational when it comes to long term thinking, like it's all about the short term fix. And then it's back to the problems that we talked about earlier with alcoholism and and drug addiction and things like that. That's not really about the long term. Like people are indulging in those things because it's about the short term. Right, rather than the long term.


And I think we as humans, that's one of our engineering flaws, if you will. One bar, you know, it's just in our cognitive wiring that people tend to be more influenced by short term outcomes than long term outcomes. So I think the case for a better long term outcome is, you know, it's irrefutable almost.


OK, so now we get into strategy and this is what we really need. I think so many people out in this conversation are really. Good at pointing out the problem, I'm among them, but, boy, the strategy and how to come out of it seems a little elusive.


You know, it's so funny because in the first paragraph of the book on strategy, I tell the reader, if you skip to this chapter, then go back and read chapters one through 11 before you get here, because part of the essay is going through the P, the R and the E. When I go into so many corporations, leaders want to jump straight to strategy without their employees even understanding that there's a problem. And that's doomed to failure, because when you enact these policies and people don't realize there's a problem, it seems like the policy is the problem.


Seems like you're being oppressive because they don't understand what it is that you're doing or where it comes from. And you haven't sort of increased their concern, whether it's intrinsic concern or whether it's extrinsic, as you were mentioning, it's based on incentives or whatever. So you've got to kind of do all that groundwork first if you want to make profound and sustainable change. So then once you get to the strategy, there's at least a couple of ways that you can approach it.


So I talk about three levels of strategy, individual level strategies that are aimed at changing people's minds, cultural level strategies that are aimed at changing social norms and then institutional level strategies that are aimed at changing policies and practices and laws. And so the institutional strategies in many ways serve as like hard straightjackets. They constrain people because even if individuals want to do certain things, you can't do it. If there's policies and laws and the cultural norms serve as like a soft straitjacket, because despite what people believe, they are very strongly influenced by what other people think and other people's approval.


We're like natural sheep that have to be part of a flock and we conform to the behaviors of other people. So I think the sort of different classes of strategies that you can employ are strategies that are aimed at changing individuals minds or levels of bias or values, strategies that are aimed at changing the cultural norms about what's appropriate and inappropriate and how you should and shouldn't behave. Which, by the way, I think is one of the biggest influences that this administration has had on behavior is by changing the norms because a lot of these people always existed.


It's just now the norms are different and they can be way more boco and way more bold. And then there's that third, which is about policies and practices. And I think you have to sort of align those three, because if you just change the policies without changing individual minds, then you get reactance. If you just change minds without changing the policies, then as I mentioned before, there's two whole classes of people that may not even buy into it because they don't really believe it.


And so I just think the most effective approaches for strategies are in those three categories.


Well, when you say them, I'm immediately remembering maybe the clearest cut example of all three of these things in one event, which was Rodney King. So Rodney King, you had on an individual level, you had four of the ten cops there physically beating him. And then when they got back to the station and the other seven or six cops that hadn't participated filled out their statement and they fell into line, you then saw the culture like it was a great example of what the culture is there.


And then you got to see the institution being the Simi Valley Police Department deal with the whole situation and or by extension, the L.A. courts. So all three of those things were happening at once.


Absolutely. That's a great example. I'm going to use that one to dash. OK.


Wow. How many more before I get, like, a co-author next book.


So I'm going to pick up on that example that you used, because I think if there is a good starting point and it's not an ending point, but a good starting point, I would say it's the institutional or the policy or the loss. Right. Because most people are good, which is why I wrote this book and which is why I'm optimistic. I think most people want to do the right thing. I think, you know, there are a number of circumstances.


They're busy. Like you said, there are other priorities because I talk about that a lot in the morality chapter. It's not that people don't care about racial equality or saving the environment or whatever the cause happens to be. It's that they care about other things more. You know, there's a lot of research on values and how values is sort of a relative proposition that, you know, people care about money and they care about doing the right thing.


But the million dollar question is, which do you care about most? You care about money more than doing the right thing, or do you care about doing the right thing more than money? Because that relative difference between the two will actually predict your behavior in a dilemma. So the point there is that you're always going to have differences in people and what they will do and what they won't do. And I think in the George Floyd case, there's sort of a similar thing where you have one, maybe two bad actors and then everyone else who just sort of standing around in the culture and they kind of try to intervene, but not forcefully enough.


So I think if you get to policy, then you can sort of influence those other two things automatically in a really quick way through policy. Whereas with the other one is more of this grassroots you've got to build up. If it's individuals, you've got to convince other people and so on. But you change a law, you change your policy, you change your practice, and then you sort of hit those other two automatically.


Well, it seems to be the only one that can affect the other one. So an individual could choose to act however they want it in the police department. And that will not necessarily affect the culture. It certainly won't affect policy.


But policy can curb the culture, because if there are rules that prevent certain aspects of the culture, the culture will have to change. And if the culture is changed, then of course the individual is very incentivized to change. So, yeah, it seems like it's the only one that can really transcend to the other levels.


But here's the thing. Even though I think is the most important, it's not the only one that can affect the other two. All of them can affect all of them. So the individual actually can affect the culture. And I tell people this all the time, you being a celebrity deaths or people who are cool people like if you get on TV and you say, you know, eating meat is wrong, that's why Oprah got sued. Right. She got on TV and said, you know, eating meat is wrong.


There's no law. She can't tell anyone what to do. But people admire her and they do what she does so she can have an impact on the culture, certain police officers, influencers, and that's why they call them influencers. They can have an impact on the culture within an organization just by modeling the behavior that they want to see. They can get other people to behave in those ways. And I think through activism, individuals can also affect policies.


So I sort of see an arrow from all three to all three. But I'd start with policy.


Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. I just imagine being the one cop in that circle, it's hard. It's hard, it is hard. We are, I believe, collectively better than we are individually in that we can all get together and think of something very impactful and profound that we might have a hard time executing ourselves. But I think collectively we're very, very strong.


Sure. Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.


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OK, so then the last one, sacrifice, I don't like this word, sell me out. Well, I don't like the word either.


I think I chose it in part because it completes the acronym. Right.


That's that's fair. When I start to talk about sacrifice, I actually put it in quotations because sacrifice typically involves less sacrifice than people think. So one of the examples that I give in walking people through the model is weight loss. So, you know, in my situation when I came back from England, you know, over there, I didn't have a car because I can't drive on the left whole story. I was running up on the sidewalk. Most people thought it was a terrorist and they were jumping out of the way.


And I just couldn't gauge how much car there was on that side.


And so I hung up the keys for the several years that I lived there. And I walked everywhere. I lived in a very hilly city and the portion sizes are smaller. So I was down to my, you know, late 20 something early 30 something. Wait, I was looking good.


I came back to the United States. I put on the pounds like a pound a week for several months. And I did notice because it was so gradual. So no problem awareness. Once it was brought to my attention by a friend who I see twice a year who said, oh, my gosh, you've grown since the last time I saw really a euphemism when I was on sabbatical.


So I was wearing stretchy pants and sweat, you know, just kind of chilling out. So if I'd been wearing suits, I would have known. But so I stepped on a scale I'm like, wow, you're right. A game like 30 pounds root cause analysis wasn't mysterious. You know, not exercising enough, eating the wrong foods, eating too much food, driving two blocks rather than walking two blocks. Empathy concern. Did I care. Yeah, I care for health reasons strategy.


Now this is why I think strategy is one of the easiest of the five people really want to focus on strategy, but it's easy if you get all these other things. Are there strategies for losing weight? Absolutely no shortage of them. And they all involve some combination of eating differently or eating less and moving more. But then we get to sacrifice, which is am I willing to do what I actually need to do in order to see the change that I want to see?


And I thought at first, no, I don't want to sacrifice. I don't want to give up chocolate chip cookies. I don't want to get on a treadmill and run like a hamster for forty five minutes every day. But the whole idea is that sacrifice doesn't involve as much sacrifice as I thought.


Do you want to meet film and TV legend Kristen Bell? She's delivery MONCHAUX.


Hi. Hi. How are you. I'm good. How are you.


I'm doing this is Dr. Livingston, who is a very, very pragmatic voice and racial equity teaching us we love pragmatism.


We love racial equity. OK, Kristen's in the fifty percent. She's an annoying fifty percent who just likes it to be good. Yeah, but I'll bring you up to speed after his interview. Yeah, I was surprised.


I'm in the piece of shit and you're you're good. Yeah. I'm an individual. You're not in the piece of shit.


You're in the media. OK, that's good.


You use borderline almost not a position.


No, you're all just humans. And that's the thing. I try to adopt a very nonjudgmental stance. Everybody's different. Everybody's different. The world needs predators and prey. Right?


They do. Listen, we're all needed. I get pissed politically. That's one side thinks the other is not needed. We're needed. We need to choke each other. Yeah. Yeah. So sacrifice. Yeah. Are you ready for the ugly part. Yeah.


So but the thing is, people assume that they'll have to give up more than they really do have to give up. So for example, I love chocolate and I love the Cheesecake Factory double chocolate fudge brownie cheesecake but they're like two thousand calories a slice. So it's talking to my wellness counselor and they're like, you know, you don't need to eat a two thousand calorie slice of cheesecake to enjoy chocolate. A Hershey's kiss is only eighteen calories. And so you can eat ten of those a day and still stay under two hundred calories.


So there was an example of, as you were saying, expanding the pie. So, you know, an integrative negotiation versus distributive negotiation or assuming that it's not a zero sum game, that there is a way to get both boxes checked. And as far as exercise, I live near a river. I love nature. Just like, why don't you buy a bike? You said when you were a kid, you loved riding around your neighborhood on the bike.


And so that's what I do. And it's like a relaxing, tranquil escape for me at the end of the day, rather than going to a gym and being on a treadmill. So what I'm saying from those examples is I think people have to be very creative and think about how they can accomplish their goals in a way that doesn't involve the drudgery that they think it will. And I think there's always a way to do that. And as we were talking about before, with racial equity, you actually gain a lot of stuff.


There isn't sacrifice. People think that there will be a sacrifice of fairness, for example, or sacrifice of quality, that if we have diversity in our organization, it means that. We won't have high quality people, and so part of my job is to help convince them that greater diversity and inclusion and equity does not involve a sacrifice of either fairness or quality.


Well, I think it's pretty evident from all the different corporations that have been early adopters and have actually made an intentional effort towards that, that they've in general had great outcomes from that. I think it's pretty well documented at this point.


Yeah, but the science is tricky. Like, you know, that's become a mantra that diversity will increase your your profit. Know some people that put more women and people of color on a board and you'll have more profit. I'll just refer you to a very recent article that was published in Harvard Business Review by my colleague Robin Ely and David Thomas, who is the president of Morehouse College, where they argue that that's really not the case. Diversity is not an ad and stir proposition where you just add some people stir it up and all of a sudden you're going to get all these fruits fallen from the tree, that it's a lot more complicated than that.


And if it's not done right, diversity can have no effect or even a negative effect on collaboration.


Well, if the work you're talking about is not done and people are just now siloed next to each other, then, yeah, there's no benefit whatsoever.


Right. But even when people are put in the same team or in the same room and they have to collaborate, if there, for example, is an implicit or explicit hierarchy where only certain powerful people talk and the people who are subordinate don't talk, then you're going to miss out on the unique information that those individuals have. And their presence in the team is not going to contribute anything because they're not going to say anything because you didn't give them a chance to get a word in edgewise.


And they're just not siloed like they're all in the same room. And they're so or when you have a diverse panel that's interviewing, you know, sometimes you might have a white male boss who says, oh, I really like candidate A, what do you think, Monica? And you had candidate say? And what do you think? DACs Yeah. Candidate Cool. We're all decided. Well, we're not all decided. You decided and your power influence what the rest of us said.


That's not the benefit of diversity. Briney Brown calls that the halo effect. And maybe it's not her term. But yeah, the halo effect in an organization is that some people follow other people and that the way around that is like every single vote should be anonymous.


But see that in a jury, if you sat on a jury, which I have, like when you're deliberating, basically two people are making the decision for everyone and all of a sudden you start seeing everyone start to be like, OK, yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if they might have a completely different opinion, it just happens that way. But also with diversity on these panels or even if they're all in a room, I think part of it is because there's maybe two or three people of color.


They feel that having that position is rare and that they need to keep it like having an opinion might put them at risk to lose the job and have somebody else come in. The stakes are different. The stakes feel different.


Yeah, totally. How can I hit you with one? It's going to be my only question. We might it might go wrong, but I got to ask it because I do think a lot of people will be thinking of this. A lot of people want to draw a distinction between equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome. And I guess I'm curious where you land on this, because I am a little apprehensive about measuring our progress with equality of outcome.


To give the most simple example, I'd say you can make a fire department completely equal in what gender they'll hire. You could have every policy in place. And you may find that the outcome is that still 90 percent of firefighters are male. And it would not be intellectually responsible to say that the conclusion is that is an inequitable environment. It's that guess what? Women don't want to be firefighters or whatever the case, there's many different cases where equality of opportunity is not necessarily going to equal equality of outcome.


And I want to know what your thoughts on that are.


Well, first, and it's a great question, I'll start by saying I make a huge distinction between equality and equity. OK, and let me just explain the difference between those two. So imagine that the three of us and one other person, your wife, we all go out to dinner. There's four of us. We all order different things. The bill comes. The bill is two hundred dollars. The question then is what's the fair way to split the bill in some countries or some people would say it's four of you bills.


Two hundred bucks. You all split it four ways. Each person pays fifty dollars. That's equality. Equity is DACs. You ordered the surf and turf. Monica, you ordered the caviar. I ordered the garden salad. So you pay 90 bucks. She pays 70 bucks and I pay 30 bucks. Both of those are fair, but one is based on equal outcomes and one's not equal in terms of the outcome. So one of the points that I make in my book is that fairness involves treating people differently, but in a way that makes sense.


So if you are a father and you have three kids and one is 10, one's five and one's three months, you don't treat all those kids the same, you know, pretty. I treat all my kids the same. Well, you might end up in jail if you treat a 12 year old the same as a 12 day old. They're not the same beings, right?


Powdering their ass isn't cool at 12.


Well, maybe not unless you have some sort of agreement early on.


But, you know, it's the idea that you can adjust inputs in a way that makes sense. Yeah. So having said that, where am I going with that? I don't think it makes sense to treat black and white people the same because our experiences in the world are not the same. Now there are people who say they are the same, but then we go back to problem awareness and you're not aware of the problem or I don't think it makes sense to treat people with a severe disability.


So if you have no limbs versus someone who has two legs, that person should be able to park closer to the building. That's not a special favor that's treating people differently in a way that makes sense. I can give more and more examples. Right. So so sometimes when you get on a plane, they let veterans board first verse even before people who paid a first class ticket. To me, that's treating people differently in a way that makes sense because veterans make huge sacrifices.


When I say sacrifice, I mean psychological, I mean social. They're isolated from their families. I mean physical for the community, for the broader community, regardless of whether the war is just or not. That's not their call. They're there to serve the community. And this is a way to sort of show them a certain amount of respect and gratitude. But here's the point. When you're treating people differently, it's actually more complicated because if the four of us went out and the bill was two hundred dollars, we all pay fifty dollars.


That's easy. We don't need a calculator. The moment we adopt a principle of equity, we've got to pass the bill around. We've got to circle what we have. We got to add it up. And so the idea is that you've got to put in more work. And so I say that that's to say I'm not about equality, either input or outcome. I think you have to do a complex calculus to decide whether. Right. And he has to make sense.


Do a six month old deserve to be treated differently than 16 year old? Why or why not? And how are you going to adapt your behavior in a way that's fair to both the 16 year old and the six month old? That reflects that. And I think it's more complicated than just doing the same thing for everybody. But I think it's more fair to adopt a principle of equity versus a principle of equality.


OK, great. I like that a lot. And let me offer a third thing, which is if that really happened, I can tell you what would happen is that Chris and I would pay. Why? Because we're drastically over fucking paid and it doesn't percentage wise make as much of a difference in my life to pay for that thing as it would for other people. So also, people on the Christian side of the equation fucking pick up the bill.


You got more than your share. Like I got more than my share. I would just pay because clearly I got overpaid and we're all of equal value as humans. So let me fucking pay. Absolutely.


And that is the spirit of the progressive tax system. Yeah. So the flat tax that many Republicans call for, that's equality. OK, if if I earn 30 billion dollars a year and you earn thirty thousand dollars a year, we pay the exact same tax rate. And progressive tax is saying, no, you can afford to pay more taxes than someone who's barely scraping by and isn't even making a living wage. So there you go. But like those two people have different understandings and different opinions about what is fair.


And so I don't even think we can have a conversation about equality of inputs and outputs until we first distinguish this difference between equity and equality, because I think people muddle all of those things.


OK, I agree with all that. I guess the only question then left for me is how do we ever evaluate if we're making progress? What will be the measure? What is the metric?


Well, I think the metric in any assessment of progress has to be inextricably tied to the goal. So what is your aspiration? So one of the things that I want to see happen that I think is important is greater economic equality, that we have huge both wage and wealth inequality in this country. And it tends to track along the lines of race as well. Some people may say that they want more equal justice in the criminal justice system, more equal schools.


And I think all these things are related schools, income, incarceration, health. Like you can't really separate out any of those things. And I deal with organizations. They don't really deal with any of those things at all, like they don't deal with incarceration. So when I'm talking to a CEO of Microsoft about how to do things within the company, so I think leaders have to decide what their goals are. It's almost like a honeymooning couple. You know, I'm a travel agent.


You come into my office, I'm going to have to ask you, where do you want to go? You can't just tell me. Send me somewhere. Good. Do you want to go to a city? Do you like tropical islands? Do you want to ski vacation? Do you want to hike? And if you say I want a beautiful island, then I give you a choice. I can say Ibiza, Bermuda, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Barbados.


Right. Narrow down the scope. So I think there are lots of different metrics of success, depending on what people's aspirations are. And I'm glad you asked the question because I think it's important to have goals be concrete rather than abstract. There's a lot of research on the level of construal. So if you have a New Year's resolution, because I say we're in January and your New Year's resolution is to be a better person. Yeah, well, guess what?


You're going to be a better person. That's too abstract. You have to make that concrete. What does it mean to you to be a better person?


Yeah. Dr. Livingston, it's been so great talking to you. And I really hope people pick up the conversation how seeking and speaking the truth about racism can radically transform individuals and organizations. I don't have a co authorship credit on it, but solely because it's already in print. Definitely the next edition when it includes my two examples, hopefully. Absolutely great.


While fellow Bruen, I really enjoyed talking to you and wish you a ton of luck with the conversation. I hope we get to talk to you again soon. Yeah. Thank you. It was great talking to you both. Take care.


Take care. Bye bye.