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TMHS 416: The Most Overlooked Racial Health Disparity In Our World Today
“Race and racism are a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray that we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.” – Michelle Obama
Long-standing, deep-seeded racial inequities are being uncovered in every aspect of American life. Not only do many western illnesses (and even the pandemic) disproportionately affect Black people, but now we’re seeing a widespread public outcry about racism in our criminal justice system. If you’re at all familiar with The Model Health Show, you know my tendency to dig into the numbers, look at the data, and find the root cause of any issue.
That’s what we’re going to dive into on today’s show. You’re going to gain a deeper understanding of systemic racism, racial profiling, and the disproportionate rates in which violence, poverty, homicide, and police brutality affect the Black community. I hope you will come into this episode with an open mind, and I also ask for your compassion as I share deeply personal and hurtful experiences.
I invite you to view these current events through my perspective and the culmination of my experiences as a Black man in America. I also want to encourage you to be part of the change—offering specific action steps you can take in your heart, your home, and your community.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- Where I come from, and how my early exposure to violence influenced me.
- What the second most influential factor in the lower lifespan of black men is.
- Why we need to start viewing violence as an epidemic of public health.
- How our life experiences shape our viewpoints and outcomes.
- The experience that led me to always seek out truth.
- How being involved in a desegregation program affected me.
- An example of how societal norms can change in just one generation.
- My experiences being racially profiled by the police and other authority figures.
- The core issue that our society needs to address.
- Why I believe racial injustice is still an undercurrent in our society.
- The importance of recognizing your own cognitive biases.
- History of Black Wall Street.
- How education and exposure can facilitate deep change.
- The link between poverty and violence, and what you can do to help.
- What qualified immunity is, and why we need to speak up about it.
- The qualities and training that I believe should be mandatory for police officers.
- How to leverage your vote to create systemic change.
- What you need to know about prosecutor-police relationships.
- How to use your voice as a force for compassion, equality, and love.
Items mentioned in this episode include:
- Thrivemarket.com/modelhealth ⇐ get a $20 shopping credit with a new membership!
- Organifi.com/Model ⇐ Use the coupon code model for 20% off!
- The World Is Facing Great Challenges with Dr. Michael Beckwith – Episode 415
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- When They See Us on Netflix
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show, this is fitness and nutrition expert Shawn Stevenson and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. This episode is all about transparency, it's all about heart, it's all about sharing and 2020 has been on some stuff, some crazy stuff. My 2020 and just to open and share this with you guys for the first time, I turned in a book that I've been working on for about a year on New Year's Eve, just hours before 2020 came in and I was like, "This is a celebration, this is time to really focus on me and my health." I read over 600 medical journals for this book, it's a very, very special project which I might talk about a little bit more throughout this episode, but that day, New Years Day was my wife's birthday but at the same time, just trying to still release and process all of the stress and all the energy I put into this project.
January second came around and I got injured and I got injured bad and I actually spent the next several weeks learning to walk again and I couldn't even dress myself. I had some pretty severe nerve damage and blockage and that's how my 2020 started off so it was not like "Yippee, here we go. 2020 is my year." 2020 was like "Uh-uh, we got other plans for you." And just as I was starting to finally feel better, COVID hit and I felt that I was in a position, I was strong enough that I could do something about it. I can speak up, I could teach about how viruses work, how our immune system works.
I could stay up-to-date on the science, I can talk to epidemiologists. I can get the data that a lot of other people can't and I can communicate it in a way that really makes sense for people. So even though I wasn't 100%, I still felt called to do it and I took action.
All the while with my responsibilities with work and with taking care of my family now suddenly, as many people were, I was thrust into homeschooling my son because schools were closed and in addition to that, just going outside, we were required to wear a mask simply to go outside in our area. You go to stores anywhere and it just looks like a dystopian Mad Max world out there. People are afraid of each other and then, this situation hit. The most recent situation that's on everybody's minds right now and it's the relationship between different cultures, different ethnicities, different races and it's reached a boiling point, to the degree that protests are just down the street from my house and all over the country and all over the world.
And so being myself, I always like to dive in and look at what is a deeper issue? Let's stop treating a symptom and let's go and uncover what the core root cause of the issue is and what are some of the things that we can do about it? And so that's what today is going to be really focused on and again, 2020 is on some stuff, I would not be surprised if an alien ship rolls up over Los Angeles right now and if Thanos jumps out, I would not be surprised at all.
Alright? And I know many people feel the same way, it's just... But as we just talked about, having Michael Beckwith on the show recently, make sure please check out that episode. We're at a great time of turbulence but it also makes... It makes it so this world is more malleable. It's more easy for us to actually do something to change it when things are very rigid and structured and formed, it's harder to shift and we are at a great time right now. I truly believe that you are alive right now at this moment in human history because you are a part of the solution, you have something to give, something to share, something to do. That's why you're here right now.
But the thing is, it's us going on that quest to find out what is it that we need to do? And through that and through the pieces that I'm going to share, I'm going to take you through my story and I don't know how bumpy or smooth this is going to be but I do know that the destination that we're going to arrive at is going to be beautiful, it's going to be fulfilling and it's going to be very rewarding as far as tangible, actionable, real-world steps that we can take right now.
And so to start off my story, I was born in San Louis, Missouri and you can check off many of the stereotypical boxes for me in my situation. I've never met my biological father and the man that I knew as my father, it was my step-father, who was there since I was born, he ended up having his life demolished because of alcohol and crack cocaine and this is something that was just a normal part of my reality. Same story for many of my uncles, family members, friends. Either seeing prison, drug abuse or just struggling to get by, no matter how good of a people they actually are at their core, which I've met some amazing people. It's just the conditions that we're around, cultivated an atmosphere that we saw a lot of these things as the outcome.
So and mentioning that I'm from St. Louis, Missouri, this is something that I want you to know. Missouri is ranked number one in black homicide rates, seven times since 2007 and this is according to the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report. Report found that the black homicide rate in Missouri is 10 times higher than the homicide rate of the entire United States average and just to plant a little bit of a seed of what's to come, researchers at the University of Missouri, St. Louis where I graduated from, stated that, "Poverty, joblessness, racial isolation, all of these factors contribute to the conditions leading to high homicide rates and other forms of serious crimes.
Now, as I mentioned, a huge percentage of my family, a huge percentage of the black community are born into these conditions and we'll talk more about that in a moment. I just want you to understand that I grew up around a lot of violence and my first brush with that was, I was just a child, my mother knew that I need to be strong and I needed to be armed to be able to handle a world that can possibly hurt me and I needed to be ready. So as a child, four years old, she made me fight, she made me fight the kid next door as kind of like an early UFC fight, which was so inappropriate and I ended up cracking my head open on the side of a brick wall, which I still have that scar to this day, to remind me and even though that was not a great, stellar moment in parenting, I don't know and I cannot say if that did not help me in being able to accomplish what I have and being able to survive the environment that I was in and so I just wanted to share that.
That's literally one of my earliest memories, is violence. So when I saw that outside of my door and within my own household and my mother always had kids around; my brother and sister and I and then she was a babysitter, that's one of her little things that she did, her little hustle and there was one kid that we were babysitting, his name was Nicholas and he looked like us. Part of my story is my biological father is a black man that I've never met. My stepfather is a black man who grew up in harsh conditions and ended up being subject to alcoholism and drug abuse and it was just everywhere in our environment.
So Nicholas was another little mixed kid because part of my family, my mother is... And I know some people if you ever listened to past episodes you might be like, "What is Shawn? Is he like a... I don't know, is he like a Beyoncé? Creole? I don't know." But my mother is... She's a nice mixture of things as well, Native American, Irish. Probably why my name is Shawn, by the way, but... So having this experience and why I feel so compelled to share this today is that I have literally been in both environments. Where the tension is so high right now, it is within my own body and so I got to live, as we'll talk about, in different environments but I wanted to share this part with you that...
So Nicholas was one of the kids that we watched. When I say we, I mean we. Because I was changing diapers and looking out for kids and teaching them how to walk ever since I was probably five or six and it's just been a continuous thread in my life as well and so Nicholas and we took in, as my mom always does, their family as well, Nicholas's mother and father and Nicholas's father, his name was Maurice and he looked like me too and he just... We came to know that was my big brother and we all kind of just had a life together where we saw each other frequently, we danced, we hung out, we laughed but Maurice was murdered when I was just a little bit older than my son, my youngest son.
So please guys, if you can, have compassion on me today. I think this will be helpful to know. How does this happen? There's a meta-analysis from researchers at Columbia University and demonstrated that homicide is the second most influential factor in the lower life expectancy of black men compared to white men. Second only to heart disease.
So all things considered, black men and white men would live the same amount of time, if it wasn't for heart disease and murder. The reason I want to talk about this is this is an epidemic of health, this is an epidemic of public health. We're talking about violence and specifically violence towards a specific part of our community. We are really all world citizens and we all come from the same source, the same root. We're talking about the human genome and the genetic code, you and me, we are less than 0.000001% different and it's an amazing, remarkable thing but for some reason, that small difference has become a huge obstacle that we're still dealing with today.
But there are solutions and that's the beautiful part about it and that's what I really want to get to but I think it's important for us to know these numbers, to know how much of a problem it actually is and to know that it's not just an issue of police brutality, which is the highlight of the day. Many people point to the issues of violence within the black community but I really want you to understand that these are both two sides of the same coin, alright? Both of these come together to create the fortune or lack of fortune that many African-Americans face and as a world community, all of us together, we can help to uplift each other and to support each other.
But let's talk a little bit more about where this comes from and so to reiterate, I really want you to understand that this is a public health issue; because it's not Alzheimer's, it's not diabetes, it's not cancer. Life expectancy would be the same if it wasn't for heart disease and for homicide and we'll talk about, again, some of the systemic things that create a situation like this because it's just not normal and for somebody like myself, growing up in these conditions, I unknowingly come to accept these things as normal and again, at the end of the day and where this story is going to lead, is that we can do something about it but I think that my story and even sharing the story of my big brother that I lost and just sharing some of the pieces along the way can help us to really make sense of all this.
And so just moving on in my life after that time of having that fight that my mother put me into at the age of four. This is when my entire world shifted, because I went from living with my mother to predominately living with my grandmother. My predominantly white grandmother, in a nice neighborhood with my white grandfather and so I'm this little mixed kid with this big curly afro and they take me in partly because of my mother having a difficult time with housing, with money to pay bills and to feed me and partly to give me a little bit of an opportunity to go to a school in a safe neighborhood and so I was able to take advantage of that and this is so important to this story and where it's going and what I would really need you to understand.
I needed an opportunity. I needed to see something different. Right now, I've been reading... For whatever reason, I just was called to read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and in it, he really describes that there truly are... We think that there are these exceptional human beings and these anomalies but if we really dive into it, we see that there is a series of life experiences and events that help to shape and create the exceptional people that we see. Had it not been for this moment of exposure to routine, structure, safety, just a routine experience of having a meal and not worrying about where my next meal is going to come from, helped to shape the person that I am.
And so in going to school and being so different, it's a predominantly white area, I was already seeing that I was different from a very early age and the environment let me know as such, with kids giving me a hard time and I'm trying to maintain my composure today in my expression because we've got a lot to go through but it wasn't always fun, definitely wasn't always fun but within that, a really important moment happened. I remember my first experience with police officers was at the Just Say No assembly. Keep your kids off drugs, the DARE keep kids off drugs. McGruff, the crime dog was there. I remember McGruff being there. That was a big deal, McGruff, the crime dog and there was a police officer there as well and he was sharing about how important it was to just say no and how dangerous drugs were and the one thing about me, even to this day and again, it's this question of nature and nurture, what's in the DNA but once I get a piece of data that just makes sense, I run with it.
I was seeing drugs used in my environment prior to moving in and I saw that "I don't like this. I don't like the way that these people are acting. I don't like the way that it makes me feel being in the environment. I'm never going to do drugs." And that was a decision that was cemented having that exposure but I want you to understand it's far more difficult if I'm immersed in that environment and I'm being told not to do a thing when everybody in the environment is doing it no matter how strong we are.
But as fortune had it, I was not in an environment where that was being pressed upon me yet and so I had that experience, structure, routine, education, care and concern and conversations as my grandmother would talk to me all the time and love me and nurture me and just as so many grandmothers do. So having that opportunity but also having that feeling of safety and structure. I shared this before but what changed the routine was after second grade and by the way, even in second grade, this was my first experience of being forced to tell a lie, I was in second grade, I went to spend the weekend with my mother and I did something that... What kids do, get into trouble and my mother beat me with the wiffle ball bat and she accidentally hit me in the eye and I had a red blood clot in my eye.
And I had... She told me I had to go to school and tell the teacher a lie about how it happened, that I fell and these are the seeds of my honesty and my always looking for the truth in things? It's because I was told to lie and I saw them lying around me and not to say that my mother is a bad person, she wanted the best for me. She was doing what she, under pressure in the situation she was in and the emotions what she was experiencing, of course, she didn't want to hurt her child and she... I remember that's the first time I ever heard her say "I'm sorry." But this was the environment that I was in and so now I'm going to be put in that environment full-time.
After second grade, my grandparents moved away and they moved back to the "country" in Southern Missouri and I was going to live with my mother and now, I'm in the inner city and coming from the conditions I was in prior, now I'm in a totally different culture shock. So predominantly white school, now I'm in a predominantly black school and I still don't exactly fit in. There was a couple of mixed kids at the school, some Vietnamese kids and that was it that was the mixture. It was 98% black, at least but they had the same thread. Kids just having fun and trying to do the best that we can in the conditions that we're in. I loved the free lunch program, was the bomb. I never got to go there and pick my lunch. We had these little red tickets and I was learning and I still... I had the seed planted of education.
So coming into it, I was exceeding in school but back at home, I'm seeing an environment, where we're struggling to get by. We're getting food from charities, we're on food stamps, we're on WIC but my parents are working hard, extremely hard and my stepfather, he's an incredible chef and man, he worked his finger to the bone at his job and he would see himself get passed over time and time again for him having the head chef position. It took like, I don't know, a certain amount of time, like 20 years before he ever got the position.
And once he did, he was just... Man, he had been through so much and seeing this situation and not even having a relationship with him very often because he was always going to work and then when he wasn't working, he was drinking, trying to just forget about the stresses because that's what... At the core, a lot of times it's what it is, the drugs and the alcohol is to forget, is to forget the pain and fast forward the story. I'm also in an environment where we don't have anything. So if there's somebody or someplace where we can get something and have something, like I didn't have toys that other people had, for example. So I had a friend named Rico... Shout out to Rico, if you're listening but Rico had those sticky fingers. Rico had those sticky fingers. We'd go to Kmart... I went to Kmart with Rico. I come out of the store, Rico got all toys in his pocket. I'm like "Where'd you get those toys?" He was like, "I just took them." "You can do that?"
So I started Sticky Fingers with Rico but I got caught. It was in my Dharma. If you want to believe in something like that, that I didn't go very far down that track, it was halted. So that was my second interaction with police, was that moment but fast forward the story and where this really kind of takes hold for me is in high school. I go through... And there's so many stories along the way but I really want to get to the heart of the situation and the story and for me. So I go through elementary school, middle school, having different unfortunate events take place but in high school really hit ahead.
The year before I went to high school, my high school was on the news and this is when I got... My mother got me and my brother and sister into what was called the Desegregation program. So we're city kids being bussed out to the county, to the "good schools" and it was a method of helping desegregate, provide better opportunities but also just leveraging the abilities of some of the black children resources with things like athletics and education and things like that the school was benefiting from but it was definitely not, of course, a smooth transition. You would think about this is like the mid-late '90s, right? You would think this was like the '60s or something, you know where it's like, forced segregation but now it's more... A little bit more subtle.
And the year before I went to this high school, my high school was on the news and this was the headline, "Racial tensions running high at this local high school." What happened was, during history class, the teacher put on the film "Roots" and that was part of the classroom experience and racial tensions really welled up within the school, within the student body because of that and just having these conversations and that experience of the superiority feeling like, "My ancestors owned your ancestors." And this feeling of "I am strong enough now to fight back."
And things just reached a boiling point at the school and I think it's important for us to understand because when we don't think about like, "Why would this stuff be happening right now?" Well, my mother, my father, they were born when segregation was still legal. Folks are still alive right now that lived during those times. My grandparents forget about it, of course. Not only did they live during the time that it was kind of withering away, they lived in times where it was at it's... It was at some nasty points, nasty times but what can change just within a couple of years, within a life... One life span and that's the part that I think that we overlook and how so many of those conditions because those parents instill certain ways of thinking and belief structures into their children and we all do, we pick it up from our environment...
And so I get to the high school and I know that this is a desegregation program but I'm just there as a kid, just wanting to play sports, have fun, do my work and I excelled. I excelled. I ended up getting accepted. It was the very first year of something called INROADS, where I was able to take college-level courses for credit while I was in high school. I was in student advisory committee. I was a scholar-athlete. The list goes on and on. So many different things but when it came down to it, an event took place. My junior year and I got into a fight and this fight was something that could have been avoided, had my voice been heard.
This was repeated, you know, this individual, he was another black student. He kept pushing up on me, threatening me, getting in my face, putting his hands on me, and coming from where I come from. I didn't tell the story of all the fights that I've been in prior to this but I really wanted to just get my education, succeed, do something good with my life but I... Even one confrontation, the day before this happened, face-to-face, the principal comes along... Well, one of the principals and I told her "Listen this guy keeps... This situation keeps happening, do something." Nothing got done.
And so the next day, we got into a fight and what was normal was to get suspended for three days, maybe five days. I stood in front of the Board of Education of Chesterfield Missouri, Ballwin Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri so it's like St. Louis County and this was a table, one of those long boardroom tables of white faces and I knew that they were not going to let me back at school. They kicked me out of school for 180 days. They kicked me out of the school. It didn't matter what... How good of a student I was, all the good that I was doing, something that normally would have been three, five, 10-day suspension. It didn't matter and not to say that the way that I look was the ingredient behind it but in my soul, I know and I received a message on Facebook several years back from the kid that I got into the fight with and it's just like, you know, how you...
Facebook is weird like that, social media is weird like that. You'll bump into people, you'll get these weird connections and he sent me a message and I was just like, "Hey, man. How are you?" And the first thing he said was, "Shawn, I deserved what I got." Because he was the tough guy and I hurt him and from that moment he turned his life around as well and the work that he was doing at the time, shout out to you if you're listening, was helping kids, high-risk kids, kids in the inner city to find a better way, to find a way out.
So we both kind of had this trajectory and it intersected in that moment but I ended up graduating from high school in three years. I had to do what I had to do. I was taking home correspondence courses. Whatever it took but it was during this time when I was kicked out of school and I was actually working maybe 30 hours a week or something while I'm trying to take correspondence courses. I was with my friend and we were just driving to get something to eat. He was driving his sister's car and we were just going to get some fast food which... No love to the fast food. I'm not trying to endorse fast food right here but we were just going for a drive to pick up some food and the police pulled us over.
We didn't do anything wrong. They literally just looked at us as they drove by, hit the siren, pulled us over, immediately forced us to get out of the car on the side of the road and this was like a major street. They're making us pull our underwear open so they can look in our underwear. Looking for... They said they were looking for drugs but just like so demeaning and so... Man, it's tough because I can't do anything about it. I couldn't do anything about it. If I fight back, you know what the consequences are and so I let them do that. I let them do that to me and my friend, same thing. We got back in the car, we felt violated, we felt terrible but we knew that this was just our lot in life. This is just the way that things are. What are we going to do? We're going to complain, what's going to happen? And so that experience happened and many other experiences happened.
So after I graduated, I was fortunate enough to get all of these scholarship opportunities for schools all over the country and ultimately, I decided to go to a college that's close to St. Louis, it was just outside of St. Louis and Saint Charles and I stayed because now, teenage father, I have another stereotypical box checked and I want to be close to my daughter.
At this school, same thing, excelling. Excellent grades, handling business, working about 32 hours a week while going to school full-time, to take care of my daughter and just to take care of my business and the last day of school, I'm driving back on the campus, the last day of my freshman year of college and this man gets in his car, he sees me drive by, he gets in his car and follows me on the campus back to my dorm room. I didn't know he was following me until I saw his face as I drove by, like a minute earlier, and then all of a sudden he's racing after me after I got into my car. He was like "Hey, come here." And I was just like, I was really taken aback like "What are you doing?" He's this older, white gentleman and so he raced towards me and obviously again, I'm just like, "What is happening here."
And he's like, "What are you doing?" And I'm just like, "Why? Who are you? What do you... " and he said, "Are you a student here?" And I said "Yeah, I stay right here in Parker, in Parker Hall." and he was like, "Show me your ID." and I was just like "No." And then I realized who it was and then I remembered the stories that I would hear about this man who is crazy enough, this was the president of this private university. Very wealthy man and he was noted for some racist driven activities and he said that my music was too loud in my car, it was offensive. I didn't have no beats in my car, I had a Plymouth Acclaim. I know you're like, "What is that? Is that like a standing ovation or something?" No, it's a car.
So anyways, I'm just like, "What is going on?" And I realized who he was, he told me who he was and he asked to see my ID, I gave him my ID and he had asked "Are you student here?" And then he said that, "You're not a student here anymore." And he took my ID and walked away and I got kicked out of college right in that moment.
Man, I've been through this before so this time we got an attorney, it was an African-American law firm and he had dealt with situations like this before. He let the president know and their board that if they don't allow me back in the school, they're going to take this story to the media and all these different things because he had a pattern and he had other complaints against him for doing things like this and so what ended up happening was he apologized to me. What? He apologized to me, gave me more scholarship money and I came back to the school again.
But this is really where the story, the heart of the story, and the thing that I want to talk about today and really what... Just to give you a foundational understanding, if you don't know right now, the racial tensions in regarding public servants and police officers, you got to know that... I've even had one of my good friends on the show, who's a police officer and Jamal King and just understanding that there are wonderful people in all fields doing work but there's a condition that many people don't really understand unless you experience it.
And so while I was at this school, again, like I said, I was working a lot and I was driving to work and it's a two-lane road so one lane is going east and another lane is going west. There are four or five cars in front of me and I can't go any faster than those cars and we're all just kind of going at the speed of traffic together and I'm not rushing, I'm almost to my job and a police officer drives by me going the other direction and he looks me dead in my face and again, this is when I had curly afro, whatever and... But I still had on... I think I had a tie on that day or at least a dress shirt. He looked me right in my eyes and of course, I got that feeling and then he made a U-turn on this very tight road to get behind me. Turned on the sirens, pulled me over.
So as the officer is approaching my vehicle, I have my hands where he can see them, I already know the drill, I've got my ID already out so that I don't have to reach for anything and he approaches my car and he asked me do I know why I pulled you over? Which is like, first of all, guys and I know many other people have experienced this but it's just like, "Is this a quiz time?" But anyway, he asked me, do I know why he pulled me over and I said, "No sir, I have no idea." And he said, "You were speeding." and I said "I'm sorry, sir but I'm following these other cars, how can I possibly be speeding? We're all going at the same speed together and I couldn't go any faster than them." And he said, "Well, I clocked you at whatever the case might be." and then I said, "You know why you really pulled me over."
Grabbed his weapon, out of the car. He arrested me on the spot and took me to the local jail and he told... And I was like "How can you arrest me for a ticket?" He told me this and again, I didn't know if the law was true or whatever the case. He said, "Whenever you get a ticket, you're already under arrest. We just decide whether or not we take you in." And he took me and locked me up and I needed my friend to get my money out and come to post the bail or whatever it is for me to get out and my friend's father is a police officer as well and he was so mad at me. He was like because I didn't understand the danger. I did not understand the danger. I made a mistake making that statement.
My friend was imploring me how I could have really got myself hurt making a statement like that but I'd just been through so much and I was so sick of it and I had many prior experiences but that's what happened. So it's back to business as usual and I eventually end up transferring schools and now this is when my adult life really started, was living in Ferguson, Missouri and I was commuting into the University of Missouri St. Louis, which wasn't too far away but through that commute, I had a daily commute where I'm trying to traverse my way through Ferguson, which has been noted for issues regarding racial profiling and so, unfortunately, I was pulled over about a dozen times and most of the time without a ticket, just being suspicious and it's unfortunate but I literally, every single day I would try to find what is the best route to avoid getting pulled over.
Even if I wasn't doing anything wrong, I'm going to get my education, to learn, to be a productive citizen but I was a target and a lot of people don't really understand what it's like and people that see me, I just had some of this discussion with my Mastermind group and in the group, they just say the same thing that many of you probably feels like "I just see you as Shawn. I wouldn't think that these things happened to you." These things have been happening to me my entire life and it really became most apparent when I was in college and trying throughout my... And my environment is not conducive of me being successful. When I go outside my door of my apartment complex in Ferguson, there's drugs, there's check-cashing place, a liquor store, fast food on every corner. There's no gyms, there's no close access to education.
The school system is poor because it's funded by the property tax of the environment and as far as access to healthy food and exercise, even if I had wanted those things, I didn't know where I would get access and so I'm just in an environment that's conducive to me being stuck in this environment and I needed exposure. I needed to see something else but it was in college I met some exceptional human beings that really had an impact on my life and one of those individuals is Ronnie Lee and he's a member of the basketball team there at the college and we just had a friendship take off. At a point, after the college experience for both of us or towards the end of it and just knowing each other but Ronnie dedicated his life to serving inner-city students because that's where he came from and I didn't know this but Ronnie lost his father at the age of 10-years-old. He was 10-years-old when his father was murdered by a police officer. He had to identify his father's body.
He was unarmed. There's no video. Sorry. I love you, Ronnie. Against those odds, not having his father. He made it to college. He was homeless for a time. He had so many odds against him but he graduated and became a teacher and not too long ago, I rented out an entire movie theater for his students. Inner-city kids, many of them don't get the opportunity to see examples of what's possible. So we bust in all of these amazing students and we got to see a Black Panther movie, Marvel, and see what's possible. Just some examples and hear from me. Again, I ask that you have compassion on me today. We can do exceptional things but you cannot understand unless you walk in our shoes. The things that we face, it's not just hard work. It's one of the stereotypes that African-Americans are not willing to work hard, it's disgusting.
It's just that in addition to the hard work and rising above poverty, our lives are in danger just by walking out the door and I'm saying this as a grown man today. Just within the last few months, my eight-year-old son, Braden, has been with me during three altercations with police officers. You know who I am. I'm an international best-selling author. I've impacted the lives of millions of people. I've had almost 20 years in this field of dedication to serving others but none of that matters because of the way that I look. I'm a threat and it's so unfortunate, my son has to be there and see it and I really want to make a change today and talk to you about what we can do so that my son can grow up and not experience these things because he was crying today 'cause he doesn't want to die and it's not just some idea. It's a true possibility, a strong possibility, a probability if we look at the statistics.
We went back to St. Louis, for a wedding a couple of months ago and I went to pick up my oldest son, Jorden. He was at a family member's house in an area called Pinelawn and if you're from St. Louis, you know that Pinelawn is, it's noted for not being the best area to go to. A lot of people don't want to go there unless you know somebody there and also the lieutenant, police there, the mayor was also indicted for corruption, for threatening people and all kinds of crazy stuff but it's an African-American community, maybe... Most likely 100% and so we went to pick up Jorden and there's an intersection, it's just a very tight neighborhood that we were in. There's an intersection going from one block to the next. You make a left and then a quick right. Left and quick right to get onto the next street. It's a very strange little intersection. So I'm there, I'm in a rental car, I make a left, make a quick right and then outta nowhere, whoo, whoo.
I hear the police officer, he was hiding in a little alleyway over to my right and I didn't see him and he pulled me over and I'm just... I'm literally shocked and so, of course, I get my ID out, get my hands where he could see them and I can see him through the rearview mirror, he has his hand on his weapon, he's approaching sideways and he knocks on the window, he reaches out to knock on the window and I already have my ID up so he could see it and he is visibly shaking. His hands are shaking, his hand is on his weapon, unclipped. The belt lock was unclipped and I realized "Oh wait, I got to make sure that I defuse this situation." And I'm like "Hey officer, how's it going, what's going on?" And he was like, "You ran a stop sign back there." And I was like "No way." I literally looked over 'cause I can see right where the corner was and there's a stop sign that was pushed to the ground and twisted.
So it's pushed over to the ground and twisted sideways. The stop sign was facing him, where he was hiding and he knew that I couldn't see that stop sign but he was sitting there setting people up because he knows that in that neighborhood, the chances are somebody has a warrant, somebody has an expired license or whatever the case might be because they're trying to get by and then they get this thing added on top of them, it's very difficult to take care of your stuff.
He knew that he was probably going to be pulling somebody outta that car when he pulled them over but he pulled me over and so I defused the situation. My son is in the backseat, my wife is next to me. He is shaking, ready obviously, for an altercation to take place and the reality is, my life could have been taken in that situation had I done one minor move wrong. That's not the story you hear when you read my book or when you listen to The Model Health Show. You don't understand or hear things like this take place and again, I'm just going to a wedding. I'm not hurting anybody, a matter of fact my life is dedicated to helping but it doesn't matter.
So I got out of the situation, I didn't even get a ticket, of course, because I did nothing wrong and two other similar situations like that took place in Los Angeles, just in the short amount of time that I've been here and a couple of those months, several of these months, I was injured so I wasn't even out but the more that people are out just living their life, the more these situations happen, unfortunately.
And so my oldest son, Jorden, is a football player, college football player, he said, prior to the recent incidents happening, that he makes sure that when he goes out to jog, as he's just training for football, he makes sure that he doesn't wear anything that makes anybody scared of him. He makes sure he doesn't wear a hoodie. He makes sure that he wears some bright colors because he is aware that he is a target, just because of the way that he looks as a young Black man and it's very unfortunate and so again, guys, I want to ask that you have compassion on me, today and my experience and the experience of the people that are in my life that I love.
There are so many wonderful people in the world. Most people are radically, unbelievably good human beings but many of us live in a veil, where we don't see the reality of many of our brothers and sisters of different ethnicities and the veil right now, we're getting an opportunity to peak through and start to see more clearly and data has come forward because that's what I do, I go and look at the evidence, what does the science say?
Now, I've already shared my personal experience with different altercations in situations but this plays out in a very real-world thing where we have this incredible... Disarray and civil unrest right now regarding the interaction with law enforcement and citizens but of course, the issue is, it's not necessarily just about law enforcement and citizens because there are some phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, human beings who are police officers all over the country, absolutely but there is a core issue that we need to address because it plays out in the data like this. The National Academy of sciences has peer-reviewed evidence that Black citizens are two-and-a-half times more likely to be murdered by the police than White citizens. That's insane, that's insane. That should be like... It should be startling. Not one and a half, not two, two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by police officers. So the question is why? What's going on here?
Now looking at a meta-analysis from researchers at Columbia University, we find that the costs of committing murder are contingent on the identity of the victim. Okay, the costs of committing murder are contingent on the identity of the victim, the perceived value of the person that you're killing. With murders less likely to be solved and less aggressively prosecuted if the victims are Black and at this rate, according to this study, one would expect blacks to be victimized at greater rates all other things considered and this means that Black folks face greater danger in all of their interactions.
Whether it's with other Black people, White people or the like and therefore, inherent in this is the deep-seated belief that one's life is less valuable because those who take the life of somebody who is your race are going to be prosecuted far less aggressively, if at all. It creates an inherent inferiority and fear and this leads in the data to preemptively kill more often because your life is perceived as less valuable so you're more pre-emptive to try to defend that life. That's part of the systemic issue here.
Now, it's also important because it's one of the deflecting issues is, what about Black on Black crime? People kill more often the people that they're around. Black people kill Black people more often, White people kill White people more often, Native Americans kill Native Americans more often. Unfortunately, humans murder who we are around. This is a public health issue, this is why we're talking about it today because this is something we can do about it. Because a core issue of this, if we look a little bit deeper, ever since records have been tracked accurately and this is dating back to about 1910, Black citizens have been considerably more likely than White citizens to be murdered and this goes all the way up to present day where we're looking at the rate after all the data is compiled with about 22 Black citizens being murdered per 100,000 corresponding with White citizens having five people murdered per 100,000.
This is a ratio of five to one likelihood that a Black citizen is getting murdered and even at its peak and this is according to researchers at Harvard University, the peak death rate for Black male, specifically Black young males, is 10 times greater likelihood to be murdered than young White males.
Absolutely insane and Harvard researchers in a study that was published in 2000, exposed that expected punishment is significantly reduced for crimes including homicide when the victim is Black. It's a perceived value. This is why the conversation of Black lives mattering. We're talking about just mattering, we're not even saying equal, not even saying more important, just matter. It's all that's looking for, just matter, just have some semblance of value and understanding that not that long ago, African-Americans were valued at three-fifths of a man. This was not that long ago and this is what really strikes me that we kind of look past that. This was such a long time ago and things have changed so much. There are many systematic things that again, we're going to talk about fixing today and I need you to be with me so that we can actually help make this change so that we can get on because again, 2020 is on some stuff. Alright, 2020 has an attitude problem and we need some solutions right now.
And so looking back at the data when we're talking about health disparities in regards to race, it's not just an issue of homicide which is incredibly poignant and alarming but also just disparities in healthcare overall. A peer-reviewed study from the American Journal of Public Health for example, peer-reviewed journal as well as many others documented that healthcare providers are less likely to deliver effective treatments to people of color when compared to their White counterparts. So we're talking about in relationship to medications, surgeries, treatments overall, the disparity is seen right there in the evidence, all things considered equal. So we're talking about folks with the same socio-economic place, the same level of access but this still happens systemically and the question is, why?
And I know many people out there, there's so many people that listen to this show that are in the health space and you cannot possibly imagine yourself treating somebody differently because of the color of their skin. However, we have these cognitive biases that we oftentimes are not aware of and it's a very deep-seated issue and again, we're going to talk about some ways to address it but right before we get to that, I want to share with you why this issue is still an undercurrent in our society from my perspective and I started this episode sharing a story of my experience in going into high school in a desegregation program and seeing the racial tensions flare-up.
Which was on the local news and people were fighting and it's a crazy situation, based on the playing of this movie and exposure of this wound of slavery and it's just a couple of generations ago when humans owned other humans, they controlled other humans, they beat other humans, raped other humans. There's no concept of punishment for the violence and abuse that took place as people not even being looked at as humans and that thread of energy was believed by some to change once slavery was abolished like, "Ah, that's over."
But in reality, there is a tidal wave of events that come as a result of that because even those that fought on the side of the emancipation of the slaves, sometimes it's just built into the system. It's not necessarily like you agree with it, like you want a Black person to move in next door. Because in our country for whatever insane reason, we have primarily these two political parties and you might be in a political party and you agree with seven of their 10 commandments, the seven of their 10 tenets on what they represent but those other three, you're like maybe you're on the fence or even not so much, which is like "Well I'm in this party, I have to take on these beliefs."
So please understand the majority of citizens were not okay with having these folks who were recently freed to come and move into their neighborhoods, alright? So Black people had to migrate and find places where they can just set up roots and maintain a level of safety around people who hate them. Can you imagine that? In a country where you are such a small minority surrounded by people who hate you, who would rather see you dead? Now that led to different opportunities as well.
People being able to make their own decisions to a degree, to start to create places of education for their children but routinely throughout history, those institutions, the Churches burned down, destroyed time and time again, creating up an entire vessel or city or community, like what was found in Tulsa, Oklahoma, thriving African-American community and setting a place where they have their own access to food and supermarkets and healthcare and legal appointments and barber shops, clothing stores and this bustling area that was known as Black Wall Street and that city was burnt to the ground, totally destroyed, countless lives taken, the African-Americans in this community and now it's just the anniversary of this event has just come around when this episode is being published and it's just a speck. You don't learn about this in history class in high school, we don't talk about that because it's too close, like, we don't want to admit that these events happened so close to where we are right now.
And so again, when we're talking about... Well, you can overcome, you could pull yourself by your bootstraps and make it. You don't have to be in poverty, you don't have to be on drugs, you can make a different choice. What if the choice has already been made for you because of the way the system is constructed to keep you oppressed?
Now, this thread, things changed again, things continued to evolve but we had laws of segregation, again in my parents' lifetime and definitely your parents or at least your grandparents' lifetime. This is so close that we literally have millions upon millions upon millions of people walking around right now in our country who were alive during segregation and have those deep-seated feelings that are still there of Black versus White.
Of Black citizens not having value, not having as much value as a White life and that plays out in the data. That's why I want to share this with you. It isn't just like, "All this sounds like, I don't know, if that's true, it's just a way of thinking." It's a systematic issue and so to address a systematic issue, we have to look at what the cause is and realize that this is not that long ago, in human history when we're... Because that's one of the deflection points is, "Why don't people just work hard? Why don't they... "
When you talk about my stepfather, for example, he worked extremely hard, harder than most people you will ever meet but the opportunities for him to make it out of the situation that he was in were far in-between. Him being harassed by the police, several times himself just trying to get to work, him trying to have some form of family structure when he didn't have it as well and his mother experiencing the oppression of segregation and losing his father at a young age and just like, it's just you're coming into the situation without some of the advantages because it's a huge advantage.
My son, Braden, has a huge advantage. I talked to him about this today, he has both parents who love him deeply, right here in this household with him, advantage. He has wonderful access to education, advantage. He has wonderful access to health and to healthcare and things that support his health and well-being, advantage.
These are the all things that I didn't even know existed, right? Me having both my parents in my home, I never met my biological father and my step-father was alcoholic, he was on drugs and worked every other moment of his life, just to make sure we can keep the bills paid and in those environments, my mother worked so hard and like I said, she had her hustle she'd do babysitting thing, she worked overnight at a convenience store and being in the environment, even if you're trying to do right, trying to make money, trying to make a better way for yourself and your kids. My mother was stabbed several times while she was at work, working overnight to fend off an assailant with a knife and for somebody to say, "You just need to work hard. This is the land of opportunity."
We need to wake up, we need to wake up and we need to help each other, we need to support each other, we need to love each other because again, most people are good, amazing people but we have a systemic issue that is taking the lives of so many people, of so many good people, of so many valuable resources and today, this is starting to change. So let's talk about some of the things that we can actually do to make a shift in what's going on.
Obviously, education is at the forefront here but we talk about this in a context of like, "Education is the savior." but it's not just that. It's how it happens. Alright? Access to education is one thing but the quality of their education matters too and being able to make it stick. This is why I created the Model Health Show, to take complex health and nutrition and biology and chemistry and anatomy and all these things and make it make sense because these are all beautiful things to know about. I think that all of us should be somewhat of an expert on the body that we live in but to make that happen... This is something that I didn't receive in school and it led to me being kind of disenchanted by that system and now it's my deep passion.
And so today, one of the things that you can do to kind of help to make a change and a shift, as many people right now are protesting all over the country, all over the world for changes in our socio-economic system at its core but specifically, we're looking at the issue of police brutality and people being able to take other people's lives without repercussions and if you saw the video of George Floyd, you saw one thing. This man that was kneeling on him, looked right into the cameras. He was calm, cool, collected because he's done it before. This was not his first rodeo with taking somebody's life. This is not his first rodeo with stepping on the rights of another human being.
That's why you see that and so we have to call those things forward because the great news is, we can see it today. We can see it and we can address it because he does not represent the majority of police officers. However, within that construct, because of some of the data I shared, there is an inherent fear of Black citizens. There's an inherent fear, an inherent under-valuing of Black lives that's shown clearly in the data. It's not just an imaginary thing and so if you know that somebody's life is less valuable, the repercussions for taking that life are not going to scare you and so the real issue that we are targeting today in the systemic oppression of a certain class of people and also the ability to take the lives of another human being, to oppress and damage the lives of another human being without repercussion, the system that allows that, is what we need to address and to change and that's where we're really heading today.
Because if this was another citizen taking the life of another citizen blatantly right there in the open, they would have been immediately arrested and prosecuted. The prosecution would come down the pipe because it was obvious but there's a different set of rules set up and how do we change this? How do we improve the perceived value of the lives of African-American citizens?
Again so number one, it goes back to education and asking yourself, "How can I contribute?" This is number one today, asking yourself, "How can I contribute to change?" And with this, I really want you to know again, you're alive right now, at this time in human history, to provide your unique gift and whatever that might be right now. This could be a gift of your time, your talent, your resources, asking "What can I contribute? What can I give to help to facilitate change?" So it could be through your art. It could be through your art, your medium of art, whether it's music or painting or dance, whatever the case might be.
Express your art, express love and connection and empowerment through your art, express change through your art. We need that. Throughout human history, art has remained a consistent thread in our documentation of how we relate and how we share the story of the evolution of humanity, is through art. So this is the time to do that. So whether it's through your gifts in technology, building websites, writing code, social media support, whatever the case might be, to help to create the voice of change. That's really what's needed right now, more than ever. If you have a technology gift, using that to the betterment of the mission where all people are provided equal healthcare and all people are provided equal safety within our borders of this country.
And even expanding beyond that because we are truly world citizens. Whether it's a gift of leadership, leaders are needed more than ever right now. I found that during the pandemic that recently hit all of the top of our minds, it seems to have just kind of dissolved. Isn't it funny how that happens? But it just hit the top of our minds. My perspective was just a shocking lack of leadership, of voices of people who say that they are leaders and voices in public health, remaining silent. We cannot do that anymore and this is the time, really and you've seen it probably more than ever that people are speaking up.
And if you're not speaking up, society is calling you to speak up but I'm from the perspective that nobody should be forced to do the right thing. We need to get to a place of education and love and compassion and communication so that we automatically do the right thing. So whether your gift is in financing and help to finance movements that support all these things that we're talking about today, whether it's providing resources and donations and things like that. We've got amazing companies and organizations that are just investing and giving donations to organizations to help to facilitate change. So whatever that looks like for you so whether it's your time, your talents, your resources, ask, "What can I do today to help? How can I serve?"
Also, even if you... Whatever business you're in, you can create and cater a part of your business to help to uplift those who have been oppressed and impoverished and not valued. Help to share their voices, help to provide resources for all these amazing... That's what happened with me, guys. That's why I'm here today as somebody invested in me and it wasn't just one time. I got exposure. That's all many of us need. We just need an opportunity. We just need exposure. We will work hard. We will give everything that we got. We will devote our lives to the cause. We just need to know that our lives matter. We just need to know that it's possible, that success is possible and so whether it's outreach programs, whether it's catering a certain part of your business to, again, uplifting voices or to providing service and giving to those in need, you can find a way to do that...
And on that note, I got to share with you guys because I've been doing this again, in this field for almost 20 years and The Model Health Show has been over six years and nobody holds me accountable here. I'm just so passionate about the research and the uncovering and the asking of questions and seeing lives change but funding for this, even getting people on board with your movement, getting yourself aligned with the organizations that are doing good, this is why I have the sponsors that I have. These are companies that I love, that I admire the work that they're doing and I promise you behind the scenes, they're going above and beyond nine times out of 10 in service to the community in different ways and one of those that's truly remarkable, probably does the most is Thrive Market and Thrive Market is an access point home delivery option for all of your favorite organic non-GMO...
Whatever food label you're subscribed to; paleo, vegetarian, vegan, non-toxic so the things that you'd find in stores like Whole Foods and things like that, they provide all of these different products at 25% to 50% of the retail price that you would see at places like Whole Foods and the like and it's absolutely amazing that they have created an organization like that but they do that because they cut out the middle man. They cut out the storefront area. It cost a lot just to put stuff in the stores and so providing that access but also they give. They give so much.
Already to date, they've accumulated over $400,000 in aid for folks who've been affected by the ramifications, the economic ramifications of COVID-19. So they've created a fund to help people who are having a hard time right now and there's much more to come. That's still playing out. That's a part of the formula of people being so passionate and just fed up right now is that people are unemployed, they're out of work, they have been connected from their loved ones, people have lost their lives, people are fed up.
But it's just starting up this part of change that can take place right now but we have to get a mental and emotional handle on this situation and again ask, "How can I serve? How can I help?" And so definitely support companies like Thrive Market but truly, I'm just being real with you, it's more so supporting yourself because you save money, you get access to curated top-quality products and every time you spend money at Thrive Market there's opportunity there for you to give because they're providing free memberships to folks who are in poverty, folks who are retired veterans, school teachers, people who really need it that might not necessarily be able to afford it and they've got two options now for membership.
So this is the best time ever to get yourself a membership at Thrive Market. Go to thrivemarket.com/modelhealth. Alright. So that's thrivemarket.com/modelhealth and you're going to get access to, potentially you could save even $20 off of your first purchase depending on what you're buying and things like that but even if you're not getting that, you get access to all these incredible specials that they're giving, pretty much, I think at least once a week but definitely each month they're changing and giving all these cool specials for... When you buy a certain things, you get other things. A really amazing organization and they're dedicated to doing good and being of service to the movement of equality and supporting each other because that's what it really boils down to. Probably check them out thrivemarket.com/modelhealth.
And as we move on here; so that's number one, is ask yourself, "How can I contribute?" Number two is for us to consciously and proactively reach out and provide education and business/employment-related opportunities to folks in underserved populations who are more susceptible to the ramifications of violence. Part of the cure of violence and homicide in our society is helping folks to get out of poverty and for me, again, I'm a perfect example of having access. I had to fight.
I shared my entire... Not my entire story but a big part of my story because I had to fight so hard over and over and over just to protect my life to be able to make it here today. People should not have to go through that. At different turns in this situation, losing my loved ones. I could have lost my life and you would have never even known my name but I made it through and I'm not an anomaly. It's just this little crazy, perfect storm of events that helped to create the person that I am and so we need each other and so to provide those opportunities today proactively, consciously, we can help to change the landscape of this thing.
Number three, now when we are talking about a specific issue with... And this is what everybody right now is on the top of people's minds, is having more accountability for our law enforcement. Now again, so many amazing people that are dedicated to protecting and serving the community. This should go without saying. However, having the ability and the right, the license to kill, should come with great, absolute great responsibility and a great ability to have emotional fitness and intelligence and with that, the system itself has to change, the structure itself has to change but this is just talk until we find out what are some of the actual things that we can do to change the system to make sure that the system doesn't allow for the abuse of power to take place because we do know that it does take place.
One of those things is speaking up about qualified immunity to your local politicians, public forums, wherever it is… your state politicians. People are trying to get elected right now. People are trying to get elected to positions of power in your area and also all over the country, for our government body period and it's up to us to make sure that they are addressing the issues. You bring it up wherever you go, you bring up these issues and ask them about repealing things like qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity effectively makes it almost impossible for a civil suit. So we'll say that a police officer brutalizes an individual or take somebody's life, their family cannot go after and to sue that person for taking their loved one away from them. This is something that's seen in civil aspects every single day all over the place. If somebody is harmed by another person, you have the ability and right to take this to a civil issue but qualified immunity protects police officers essentially from being able to be held accountable, financially liable for their abuse of power and that enables it to continue. So I hope that makes sense. This concept of qualified immunity, qualified immunity, and you can just do a Dr. Google, look into it, research it but this is an important thing, that needs to be repealed, it needs to be removed. We cannot have these levels, because these are still people. We're people, these are people who are... Their job is to protect and serve their community, to protect other people but unfortunately, that power is abused and that is being highlighted right now.
It's brought to the surface right now so we can change it.
Someone actually asked me, if police officers are being sued and fired and held accountable for their negative actions when they are wrong when they actually take somebody's life or wrongly injure somebody else or wrongly hurt and abuse somebody else and if officers are being sued and fired, then how will we be able to keep a police force? What? Just like any other job. If you mess up, if you don't follow the rules, you lose your job but it's coming into with a higher standard of what that job entails in the first place because right now, we don't have that. We are talking about levels of the way that our police system is operating.
And so the best officers who are righteously doing their job, who are taking care of their community, who are still again, potentially putting their lives on the line, these folks are coming into a situation where their judgment and their character has to be of a higher magnitude. If you are in control of other people's lives literally, because you can walk around strapped up, they cannot put a hand on you but you can put a hand on them, we need to be very judicious and emotionally intelligent so these interactions can go well. Many people don't realize that and on average, police officers can receive 100 or even 150 hours of combat training and less than 10 hours in de-escalation training and human communication. That makes zero sense.
It's training people to be violent, instead of training them how to handle situations. So what is your biggest tool if this is what you're taught to do? So again, we need our officers to be trained to handle difficult situations but more so because that's still in the minority of the situations they face. More so, they need to be trained on human connection, in psychology, in de-escalation and communication because oftentimes, situations can be de-escalated and resolved through good communication. Because again, most people are good people and sometimes bad things happen in conflicts between good people and a police officers need to be able to step in and to have their heads about them to be able to handle the situation and if we make changes in the responsibility and the code of ethics and making sure that after we have these certain amount of offenses, then somebody loses their job.
Those public records should not be sealed off, where an officer like the one who killed George Floyd had 15 offenses. That makes no sense. This is why he was so cold with a camera in his face being able to take another life, it's because he's not held accountable. We need to make sure the public records are accessed. Police officers who've had all of these offenses of violence need to be immediately fired. They have to have accountability so that they know even if they're not a good person in their heart they know that, "Okay, I'm still going to follow the rules." We cannot trust in people just doing the right thing, unfortunately. We have to create a system to where you do the right thing or you get punished and I don't even like using that word "Punish." It's very unfortunate, it's very unfortunate but we're talking this is like people are children at this point, this is should be basic stuff.
If you hurt people, you have consequences. Period. And you don't have the right to just hurt people because you took some training, it's not okay, it's not okay, we have to protect each other, including we have to protect our officers and so with that said, how do we do that? Part of it is, we all need to begin advocating again with our local officials, police chief, advocate for your elected officials and police chief to introduce and maintain required courses/hours on conflict de-escalation and humanity training and also to be able to protect the health, the physical and mental health of our police officers. It's like it's not even a thing. How are we not talking about this and supporting the mental and physical well-being, because at its core, when somebody is not well, it is far less easy to be compassionate, not saying it's impossible but hurt people hurt people. If you're physically and mentally unwell, it makes the job harder, it just does.
We got basic studies with couples not being able to resolve issues when one of them has a blood sugar crash. This is in the data. People arguing more, not being able to handle conflicts. Now bring guns into it. It's very basic stuff and so as a matter of fact, a lot of people don't realize the stress that many police officers face and right now, police officers are at a higher risk of suicide than any other profession and suicide is so prevalent in the profession that the number of police officers who died by suicide is more than triple that of officers who were fatally injured in the line of duty. Researchers are attributing the statistics to the unique combination of easy access to deadly weapons and the intense stress. This intense stress is heightened by the erratic sleep patterns, the lack of ability to spend time de-stressing with family and friends and the pressure that they're under, escalated more by the overall poor health that's seen across the board in police officers.
There are some exceptionally healthy and fit police officers. I know some of those guys, some of those guys are my friends but as a rule, as a general rule, higher rates of diabetes, higher risk of heart disease, oftentimes more so than the general public. We have to make sure that folks are getting healthy, if they're responsible for other people's lives, we have to make sure that we are taking care of their lives. There has to be a system in place to make that happen and it starts with our officials, they are elected officials and making sure these things are put into place. Making sure that they have health programs, not healthcare, which is usually sick care but health programs that are giving them counseling on nutrition and support in nutrition and stipends even for healthy food, exercise, community group exercise with police officers.
You go to police, you go to the Police Academy, whenever I think of Police Academy, I think of the movie Police Academy, right? Shout out to Steve Guttenberg, alright? But after that, it's pretty much downhill from there for a lot of police officers as far as their training and their health, their physical fitness so making sure that they are able to by requirement maintain a level of health and mental health because again... And I hope you really get this, the number of police officers who died by suicide is more than triple that of officers who were fatally injured in the line of duty. They're more of a danger to themselves than the community. Just let that wrap around your mind for a moment. If they're more dangerous to themselves, how much do you matter? We have to take care of the physical and mental health of our police officers, period. Period. These are, like again, we're trying to treat symptoms, like make them behave, make them do the right thing.
It's harder when you don't feel well, it's harder when you're not healthy, it's harder when you don't have community support and I'm not talking about the police brotherhood, I'm talking about support from the community, friends, and family, not just the day-to-day stuff but true, the experience of love and affection and time together. So many people, they're over-stressed, again, erratic work schedules and then just like so many of us, again, even as I'm saying this, it's not just police officers, it's our country as a whole, we have to take better care of ourselves and we have to hold our friends and family accountable, check in on them, make sure they're doing basic things to take care of their health, it's so important. So I just wanted to share that. We have to bring these things up to our local officials. So if you're going to any rallies, if you're going to any town halls, bring up qualified immunity, repealing that, bring up rightful action for brutality, bring up making sure that we're taking care, that we have programs in place for our officers to maintain a level of health and well-being.
How important is it? It's one of the most important things in our reality right now so and these things are not difficult, these things are not hard to fix. Somebody, we've had on the show before, Rob Wolf, they did a pilot study with a police department in Las Vegas, for example and making sure that they had training on sleep, wellness and training on nutrition and he literally, he ended up saving their jurisdiction or their particular city, their area, like $10 million in healthcare experiences. So it's actually an investment that can potentially save money, make an area even more wealthy and more capacity to do cool things because they're saving money on health expenses when people get healthier. There's like a, it's a no-lose situation when our municipalities, our communities, our cities work and invest on proactively getting people healthier, rather than looking at treatment of disease that takes place as a result of not taking care of our citizens. Alright, so I hope that makes sense.
Now so moving on to our next point, here is and I'm going to say this, I want you to listen very carefully, do not vote for anyone in upcoming elections, unless they explicitly answer questions of what they're going to do to protect citizens from misconduct. Demand it in every rally, every public forum, question them on this. We make the changes by voting in people, a lot of times, these politicians, they're just political. You know, talking heads, unfortunately. Some of them get into it for the right reasons sometimes, it's just, it's literally called politics for a reason, they're politicking but they're just going to want to be liked, they're going to want to get into office but the requirement for them to do that is to make sure that they're taking care of the issues that you want. So bring these issues up and make sure that again, we do this on every opportunity, every platform that we have available, and addressing these issues in voting.
And for some of us it's like, "Well, I don't know what to do, I don't know who to... Who's in my local area, what positions there are." Look it up! We spend hours upon hours upon hours researching supplements for example. You can spend a little bit of time to find out who's up for election in your area, alright? And that's a little bit of the homework for us all to do because I'm new to this area, I'm new to Los Angeles so I need to find out who are my officials, like who's up and how can I get in contact with them, how can I interact with them to make sure that they're addressing the issues that are important to me, right? So we can all do that.
On the supplements side, I got you. I could help you with that homework on that. Even right now, I've been feeling the stress and I know that many of us have and so I've been proactively like, "Let me get some of these other things in my body that have some credibility and some science behind helping me to modulate stress." One of those things, this is a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial and this was published in 2008, found that ashwagandha was able to reduce subjective stress and anxiety and reduce objective levels of cortisol and C-reactive protein for study participants. Another double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study and this one was published in 2012, found that ashwagandha can safely and effectively improve an individual's resistance towards stress. Gimme! I want it, I want ashwagandha right now.
This is one of the things, I don't talk about it enough, that's highlighted in Organifi's green juice. It's one of the ingredients in there. This is why I love their freaking product. Not only do we have all these green superfoods but we also have ashwagandha in there and so some of the green superfoods obviously being spirulina, 71% protein by weight, super dense source of chlorophyll, blood building components of iron, magnesium and all these other wonderful things. Same thing with the Chlorella in there. Oh my goodness! Stem cell genesis is one other thing that spirulina is clinically proven to do, which stem cells are needed to make everything in your body. Like right now, I'm sure many of us, some of our brain cells are getting fried out. We need stem cells to make new ones.
So such a wonderful product and it actually tastes amazing. It's one of the things that my kids have. Even my son's best friend next door, Avery, shout out to Avery, he also does his Organifi as well. These little eighth-graders... I'm sorry, eight-year-olds, little jumping the gun, eight-year-olds who, they just finished today, their last day of being in second grade. So congratulations to my son Braden and his best bud Avery. So Organifi is that deal. Pop over there and check them out. It's organifi.com/model and you actually get 20% off everything. So that's O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I.com/model and get 20% off everything they carry.
Alright now, another action step when we're talking about this specific public health issue, when we're talking about Black citizens two and a half times more likely to die at the hands of a police officer, we need to implore public officials to invoke legislation that ends prosecutor-to-police relationships that protect police from prosecution. So when a police officer takes a life that was not justified, when they harm and injure people that are not justified, abusing their power, it's very difficult to prosecute them because of their relationship, the police relationship with the prosecutor and the District Attorney's Office, for example, because the district attorney relies on them to get evidence and things like that.
It's kind of like your friend at work being the person to get you fired. It's like, "Why would I do that?" That same prosecutor that works in partnership with the police unit should never have the responsibility of deciding whether or not to prosecute an officer. We need outside prosecutors without ulterior motives to be able to make these decisions and to get the job done, okay? Very simple things, it just creates a system, a structure of accountability and the amazing, wonderful, righteous police officers out there who are dedicating their lives to protecting and serving, they're operating within that construct, this does not affect them. This just makes sure that the people around them are doing their job and they're being held more accountable, alright?
So it's a wonderful thing, a very simple thing but these are core things that the system should not be set up in such a way that people who are in the position of power to prosecute a police officer works alongside that police officer, that system should not be there and we can change it. It's something very simple and this is what we actually saw in the case of George Floyd. We had to get... Because their prosecutor in the case initially was so dragging their feet on even arresting one of the officers who were responsible for taking his life, dragged their feet so mightily and another prosecuting attorney and also charged him lesser charges, like it was literally an accident and somebody else had to be brought in from the outside and we can have that to be a systemic thing where somebody from the outside but still in touch with that community somehow, is able to do that job, alright? So again, I'm just looking at what are some specific, actionable things that we can do here?
And finally, again, thank you so much for going on this journey with me. I know that this has not been easy, this has probably been the most difficult show I've ever done and it's just because I care and I love you guys so much and I value so much being a part of your story and the superhero that you are and again, I know that you are here right now on this planet to help to usher in a world that works for all of us and that leads me to my last point and action step here, is to talk to each other.
Talk to each other, continue to help and uplift each other. Racism will continue to be an issue until we first acknowledge it's a huge ugly issue in our society, still today and then work together as a human family to ensure that all people are treated equal, with compassion, respect and basic human decency and how do we go about doing that? How do we educate ourselves and to do something about it? There are so many different resources out there right now and you can get easy access to those things so... And I'm definitely not an expert. I'm an expert on my story, that's why I shared my story but I am an expert on being able to read clinical evidence and to make that make sense for people and also to be able to be a monitor of behavior and communication and language and one of the things to be aware of is people who are on the side of equal rights and love and compassion, might say statements like, "I don't see color." And unfortunately, that is, it's a little bit of the problem and I know that some people listening right now are is like, "That's what I say? You're just, to me, you're Shawn. My friends, I don't see color, I love everybody equally." but unfortunately, the reality is... Well, not even unfortunately, beautifully, we do have a variety of colors.
We are all very different and beautiful in our unique ways and that's a beautiful part about what makes us who we are as human beings. To say you don't see color like, "Are you literally color blind?" Because even color blind people see some kind of color. We're not color blind, we see color. We see our differences but what enables us to see our differences enables us to have more love and respect and appreciation for those differences.
So no longer say that you don't see color because when we don't see color, we can also not see the oppression because somebody that we might know or love or respect is being oppressed because of their color and it won't even make sense to you that the thing is happening. So I hope that makes sense.
Now, we also want to be careful about negating someone else's experience. One of the most unfortunate things that I've seen recently is somebody who I consider to be a colleague or somewhat of a friend but some people, if you listen to your intuition, it just don't sit right with you but he posted that... And he's a physician, he posted and everybody's having this response right now and coming together in solidarity, he posted an image of the four officers responsible for the death of George Floyd and one of the boxes there was each officer in a box at the scene and each of their faces and one of them said White, which was the main assailant who had his knee on George's neck and the other three boxes said not White, not White, not White and his comment was that this is not a race issue, this is a police issue.
And he went down into his comments to argue with people that institutional racism doesn't exist. People are not being racially profiled and oppressed because of the color of their skin and I called him on that, I called him to get some clarification because I was shocked that he believed this and he immediately said that "Oh well, actually, I do know that racism exists, it's just not systemic." And he went on to tell me, this is a White physician, that he's been racially profiled by a Black police officer and he went into his story and how he was picked on because he was around Black kids growing up and they picked on him and right there, he was telling me the root, the actual root of this cognitive bias and his oblivious nature to the plight of millions of people who have been in suffering and it was a sad thing to see.
It was a sad... He was justifying and I told him, "Please do not negate my experience. You cannot truly understand what it's like unless you walk in my shoes." And he said, "I totally disagree with that. I can absolutely understand, even if I don't walk in your shoes." He told me that he doesn't have to be a woman to know what it's like to give birth.
That's what this physician said to me and I was like "That is the most ridiculous... Like I've heard some stupid things but this is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard." and I don't even use language like that very often and he went on to say, "I can study the female reproductive system, I can study the hormones." And I was like, "But you don't know what it's like to give birth." And he continued to argue with me, he said, "Well, I can put the electrodes on my belly as I have and... " I was just like, "Just stop, stop right there. You sound ridiculous. You don't know what it's like to be a woman, you don't know what it's like to give birth and you don't know what it's like being a Black man in America."
Unfortunately, people are and I got to stop saying, unfortunately... Fortunately, this is a time where people are showing their true colors. They're showing what they stand for, they're showing where their heart is. I will not give up hope. I will not give up hope in him and waking up but I don't have to associate with him and that hurtful venom and rhetoric that he is pressing out to other people and unfortunately he even tagged me, he sent me a video of a Black woman who was irate because she got held up by another Black person. She made a statement to say, "It's not the police who held me up, it was a Black person." just to let me know that Black on Black is the real issue. So ignorant, so hurtful and I want you to also know that if he was truly dedicated to our friendship and to making progress just with any and all of us.
It's to be able to actually want to understand me, to want to understand my story, to want to understand my experience and this reminds me and I'm paraphrasing the words of St. Francis of Assisi, who said, "We must first seek to understand and then to be understood." We must first seek to understand and then to be understood. I could see the symptom, he immediately went to justify and put his positioning in so he's understood, he didn't want to understand me but we need to have these conversations, especially if these are people who are in your inner circle, who you love and you care about and you spend time with, you need to have these conversations.
Not reaching out to your Black friend necessarily and asking what you could do but having conversations with your White friends, within those constructs. When the White best friends have conversations about racism and about social injustices and what do people think about it? Like get this stuff on the open, it's not comfortable, it's not pretty stuff but it's needed, because at the end of all of this, our humanity, our beauty, our potential together, is unstoppable.
We are amazing, we are made from amazing, we're made from stars, we're made from the cosmos, this beautiful balance, to the cosmos, to the infinite, we're just like, we're so infinitesimally small and here we are fighting amongst each other, fighting amongst ourselves, we're one part... We're a part of the human, the Earth's organism, we're a part of it, we're like cells in the Earth's body but these cells, we can operate and work together as organ systems and communities but we can also have unrest and create cancers within this Earth body and when we say Black Lives Matter, that's saying that this part of the body, this organ system of the body matters.
If you think about it like the human body, it's not saying that the leg doesn't matter, it's not saying that the colon doesn't matter, it's saying that "Hey, we have this heart condition right now, we need to address this heart. The heart matters. Not saying the heart is more important but the heart matters because sometimes we forget that we are all truly connected." If there's suffering anywhere, there's a threat of suffering everywhere.
We cannot escape it, we are here together and we're connected and if you want to get into quantum mechanics and all that stuff and get fancy with me, I like it but it's a fact. So us reducing suffering helps to uplift our entire civilization and that's what it's all about. So please be careful about negating someone else's experience and also please understand that being Black is dynamic and it comes in many different forms in this communication. My wife is from Africa, she is from Kenya. I, myself have a Black father, I've a mixed-race mother, who is different versions of White and Native American. My son is a mixture of all of that. He's half Kenyan, a quarter African-American, a quarter of some other mixture and he's a representation of this melting pot and this potential of coming together and he's beautiful but when people see him, when people who have their lens of racism, whether it's hidden knowledge to them or not when they see him and they see a Black child and unfortunately, the data shows that his life is less valued and it doesn't have to be that way anymore.
So understand that Black is dynamic and it comes in many different forms and even our next-door neighbors, some of our good friends, the Johnson's, their dynamic of Blackness is beautiful and different as well and with that said, I want you to know that the words of one Black person definitely does not reflect the feelings of all Black people. Right now, a lot of people are speaking out, there's a lot of conversation going on. I want you to be mindful of who you're listening to. If it's not truly about compassion, of acknowledging the problems and real solutions, if it's deflecting, if there's an African-American who's speaking out with a big platform who's deflecting from the issue of police brutality, be mindful of that because that same terrible friend, who... This physician who just man, just really said some very hurtful things to me with his ignorance, he also tagged me in this other video from an African-American woman and she has a large following and she tweeted out that Ahmaud Arbery was not a jogger gunned down for the crime of being Black.
And her predominantly White following were so overjoyed at the statement and just posting and re-tweeting and just saying how they agree with her. However, the African-American community, that is so inappropriate and just a terrible thing to say 'cause it's defecting from the point that this man was murdered and of course what's come to pass is recently, the official statement, one of the men stood over his body and used a racial slur to describe him and he was killed for the crime of being Black. If there's a Black person who's saying that that's not the case, be careful about that. Be careful about following them and buying into that. That's terrible because there are all these psychological cognitive biases that people can have within their own construct, within their own race.
Obviously this is across the board for any race and just be mindful of that because right now, more than ever, we need to be on one accord because this is not about a police issue, this is not a political issue. This is about what's right and wrong, this is about basic human decency and respect, this is about our potential and learning from our past mistakes and truly making systemic change so that all of us can thrive because truly, we all do need each other, we all are here together on this planet right now in human history to do something special and for that to happen, I ask you again, what can you give, what can you do, what service can you provide to help to usher in this change? Just think about that, what gift, talent, capacity, the gift of your time, resources do you have that you can utilize right now to help usher in this change? We need you right now more than ever. Alright?
We've got... The world, in the words of Michael Beckwith, is fluxed up and right now it also presents an opportunity for us to mold it into something more beautiful, more powerful, and a world that works for all of us but it's up to us.
Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. Again, I appreciate you for going on this journey and for having compassion on me in this moment and I hope that I provided some actionable things to help you to get started and to get going and just continue to educate yourself. There are wonderful books out there, documentaries, films When They See Us comes to mind on Netflix, it's a wonderful... I think it's mandatory for everybody to see that and see the current state of things.
But there's many different things that you can get access to, have conversations with different ethnicities, people of color in your life, also the people of the same color as you, those are some of the most important conversations to have for all of us, whether it's Black... Black people having conversations, White people having conversations, let's have conversations, cross-cultural and also within our own construct, because it's important, we got to talk so that we can prevent these negative things from happening anymore.
We can make it a footnote, a dirty spot in humanity, in the history of humanity but I got a feeling, in 100 years, people are going to look back at the page in their history book and 2020 is going to be a thick chapter, it's going to be much thicker chapter than the rest of them but again, we are a part of it, we're part of this history and where it goes from here and what people are going to be reading in 100 years. So I love you very much and I appreciate you, thank you so much for spending time with me today. Take care, have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon.
And for more after the show, make sure to head over to themodelhealthshow.com, that's where you can find all of the show notes, you could find transcriptions, videos for each episode and if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well and please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome and I appreciate that so much and take care. I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
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