What has being in isolation given you and what is it taken away?
I think isolation is a gift because it forces you to look at yourself, so that you examine your life and you say, “Am I just floating willy-nilly?” It brings us to a wall where we say, I need to look and see if there’s any trace of the harm that I see in this world inside of me? Is there a thread because I have to remove it. Before I point the finger at anyone else, I have to look at myself.
What do you think of the moment we’re in right now?
We’re seeing a universal therapist who’s saying: “No, these things have to change. You’re destroying mother earth.” The very facile statement that Rodney King made almost 30 years ago, “Can’t we just get along?” — and everyone laughed at it and made fun of it — but it’s the reality, isn’t it? To see someone else and think because they look different that they’re an alien? It seems to be life’s easiest conundrum. Oh, skin color doesn’t mean different.
What gives you hope?
I feel so encouraged by youth because they’re not having it. They are saying, “We don’t want this antiquated look anymore.” And the people who are out on the streets, it’s like, this is the real America. And the fact that it’s all over the world? It’s so inspiring. When people see injustice, when they visibly see it, it’s like, “No, this isn’t going to work.”
How did the death of George Floyd affect you?
I was born in Albany, Ga. My father was a civil-rights leader. There was joy in our family and privilege; he was a successful businessman, world traveled. He introduced me to yoga. But you always heard stories about so-and-so who was killed. So-and-so who was lynched. So-and-so who was, brutalized. When my stepmom was five months pregnant, the police beat her up [while she was visiting demonstrators, including Mr. King’s father, jailed in Camilla, Ga.], and she lost her baby. The interview afterward is on film. It was the first time I saw my father cry. The F.B.I. came to the house, and he said: “Get out of here! You all are the ones who did it. You are behind this.”
So this terror, this chain of black murders is the norm for black and brown people in the United States. When you’re accustomed to murder, when you’re accustomed to anti-blackness in all of its forms, you say, wow. Again. But this time there’s something different.