The political power of being a good neighbor | Michael Tubbs


So I know for sure there’s at least
one thing I have in common with dentists. I absolutely hate
the holiday of Halloween. Now, this hatred stems
not from a dislike of cavities, nor was it a lifetime in the making. Rather, this hatred stems
from a particular incident that happened nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was even younger,
I was 20 years old, and I was an intern in the White House. The other White House. And my job was to work
with mayors and councilors nationwide. November 1, 2010
began just like any other day. I turned on the computer, went on Google
and prepared to write my news clips. I was met with a call from my mother,
which isn’t that out the norm, my mom likes to text, call,
email, Facebook, Instagram, all that. So I answered the phone expecting
to hear maybe some church gossip, or maybe something from WorldStarHipHop
she had discovered. But when I answered the phone, I was met with a tone that was unlike
anything I had ever heard from my mother. My mother’s loud. But she spoke in a hush,
still, muffled tone that conveyed a sense of sadness. And as she whispered, she said, “Michael, your cousin Donnell
was murdered last night, on Halloween, at a house party in Stockton.” And like far too many people
in this country, particularly from communities like mine, particularly that look like me, I spent the better part of the year
dealing with anger, rage, nihilism, and I had a choice to make. The choice was one
between action and apathy. The choice was what could I do
to put purpose to this pain. I spent a year dealing
with feelings of survivor’s guilt. What was the point of me
being at Stanford, what was the point
of me being at the White House if I was powerless to help my own family? And my own family was dying,
quite literally. I then began to feel
a little selfish and say, what’s the point of even trying
to make the world a better place? Maybe that’s just the way it is. Maybe I would be smart to take advantage
of all the opportunities given to me and make as much money as possible, so I’m comfortable,
and my immediate family is comfortable. But finally, towards the end of that year, I realized I wanted to do something. So I made the crazy decision,
as a senior in college, to run for city council. That decision was unlikely
for a couple of reasons, and not just my age. You see, my family
is far from a political dynasty. More men in my family
have been incarcerated than in college. In fact, as I speak today,
my father is still incarcerated. My mother, she had me as a teenager, and government wasn’t something
we had warm feelings from. You see, it was the government that red-lined the
neighborhoods I grew up in. Full of liquor stores
and no grocery stores, there was a lack of opportunity
and concentrated poverty. It was the government and the politicians that made choices, like the war on drugs and three strikes, that have incarcerated
far too many people in our country. It was the government and political actors that made the decisions
that created the school funding formulas, that made it so the school I went to
receive less per pupil spending than schools in more affluent areas. So there was nothing about that background
that made it likely for me to choose to be involved in being
a government actor. And at the same time,
Stockton was a very unlikely place. Stockton is my home town,
a city of 320,000 people. But historically, it’s been a place
people run from, rather than come back to. It’s a city that’s incredibly diverse. Thirty-five percent Latino,
35 percent white, 20 percent Asian,
10 percent African American, the oldest Sikh temple in North America. But at the time I ran for office, we were also the largest city
in the country at that time to declare bankruptcy. At the time I decided to run for office, we also had more murders
per capita than Chicago. At the time I decided to run for office, we had a 23 percent poverty rate, a 17 percent college attainment rate and a host of challenges and issues
beyond the scope of any 21-year-old. So after I won my election, I did what I usually do
when I feel overwhelmed, I realized the problems of Stockton
were far bigger than me and that I might need
a little divine intervention. So as I prepared
for my first council meeting, I went back to some wisdom
my grandmother taught me. A parable I think we all know, that really constitutes
the governing frame we’re using to reinvent Stockton today. I remember in Sunday school,
my grandmother told me that at one time, a guy asked Jesus,
“Who was my neighbor? Who was my fellow citizen? Who am I responsible for?” And instead of a short answer,
Jesus replied with a parable. He said there was a man on a journey, walking down Jericho Road. As he was walking down the road, he was beat up,
left on the side of the road, stripped of all his clothes, had everything stolen from
and left to die. And then a priest came by,
saw the man on the side of the road, maybe said a silent prayer, hopes and prayers,
prayers that he gets better. Maybe saw the man on the side of the road and surmised that it was ordained by God for this particular man,
this particular group to be on the side of the road,
there’s nothing I can do to change it. After the priest walked by,
maybe a politician walked by. A 28-year-old politician, for example. Saw the man on the side of the road
and saw how beat up the man was, saw that the man was a victim
of violence, or fleeing violence. And the politician decided,
“You know what? Instead of welcoming this man in,
let’s build a wall. Maybe the politician said, “Maybe this man chose
to be on the side of the road.” That if he just pulled himself up
by his bootstraps, despite his boots being stolen, and got himself back on the horse, he could be successful,
and there’s nothing I could do.” And then finally, my grandmother said,
a good Samaritan came by, saw the man on the side of the road and looked and saw not centuries of hatred between Jews and Samaritans, looked and saw not his fears reflected, not economic anxiety, not “what’s going to happen to me
because things are changing.” But looked and saw
a reflection of himself. He saw his neighbor,
he saw his common humanity. He didn’t just see it,
he did something about it, my grandmother said. He got down on one knee, he made sure the man was OK, and I heard, even gave him a room
at that nice Fairmont, the Pan Pacific one. (Laughter) And as I prepared to govern, I realized that given
the diversity of Stockton, the first step to making change
will be to again answer the same question: Who is our neighbor? And realizing that our destiny as a city
was tied up in everyone. Particularly those who are left
on the side of the road. But then I realized
that charity isn’t justice, that acts of empathy isn’t justice, that being a good neighbor
is necessary but not sufficient, and there was more that had to be done. So looking at the story, I realized that the road,
Jericho Road, has a nickname. It’s known as the Bloody Pass,
the Ascent of Red, because the road
is structured for violence. This Jericho Road is narrow,
it’s conducive for ambushing. Meaning, a man on the side
of the road wasn’t abnormal. Wasn’t strange. And in fact, it was something
that was structured to happen, it was supposed to happen. And Johan Galtung, a peace theorist, talks about structural
violence in our society. He says, “Structural violence
is the avoidable impairment of basic human needs.” Dr. Paul Farmer talks
about structural violence and talks about how it’s the way our institutions,
our policies, our culture creates outcomes that advantage
some people and disadvantage others. And then I realized,
much like the road in Jericho, in many ways, Stockton, our society, has been structured
for the outcomes we complain about. That we should not be surprised when we see that kids in poverty
don’t do well in school, that we should not be surprised
to see wealth gaps by race and ethnicity. We should not be surprised to see
income pay disparities between genders, because that’s what our society,
historically, has been structured to do, and it’s working accordingly. (Applause) So taking this wisdom, I rolled up my sleeves and began to work. And there’s three quick stories
I want to share, that point to not that we
figured everything out, not that we have arrived, but we’re trending in the right direction. The first story, about the neighbor. When I was a city council member, I was working with one of the most
conservative members in our community on opening a health clinic
for undocumented people in the south part of the city,
and I loved it. And as we opened the clinic, we had a resolution to sign, he presented me a gift. It was an O’Reilly Factor
lifetime membership pin. (Laughter) Mind you, I didn’t ask
what he did to get such a gift. What blood oath —
I had no idea how he got it. But I looked at him and I said, “Well, how are we working together
to open a health clinic, to provide free health care
for undocumented people, and you’re an O’Reilly Factor member?” He looked at me and said, “Councilman Tubbs,
this is for my neighbors.” And he’s a great example of what it means to be a good neighbor,
at least in that instance. The robbers. So after four years on city council,
I decided to run for mayor, realizing that being a part-time
councilman wasn’t enough to enact the structural
changes we need to see in Stockton, and I came to that conclusion
by looking at the data. So my old council district,
where I grew up, is 10 minutes away
from a more affluent district. And 10 minutes away in the same city, the difference between
zip code 95205 and 95219 in life expectancy is 10 years. Ten minutes away, 4.5 miles, 10 years life expectancy difference, and not because of the choices
people are making. Because no one chose
to live in an unsafe community where they can’t exercise. No one chose to put more liquor stores
than grocery stores in the community. No one chose these things,
but that’s the reality. I realized, as a councilman, to enact a structural change
I wanted to see, where between the same zip codes there’s a 30 percent difference
in the rate of unemployment, there’s a 75,000 dollars a year
difference in income, that being a councilman
was not going to cut it. So that’s when I decided to run for mayor. And as mayor, we’ve been focused
on the robbers and the road. So in Stockton, as I mentioned, we have historically had problems
with violent crime. In fact, that’s why I decided
to run for office in the first place. And my first job as mayor
was helping our community to see ourselves, our neighbors, not just in the people
victimized by violence but also in the perpetrators. We realized that those
who enact pain in our society, those who are committing homicides
and contributing to gun violence, are oftentimes victims themselves. They have high rates of trauma,
they have been shot at, they’ve known people who have been shot. That doesn’t excuse their behavior,
but it helps explain it, and as a community,
we have to see these folks as us, too. That they too are our neighbors. So for the past three years — (Applause) So for the past three years,
we’ve been working on two strategies: Ceasefire and Advance Peace, where we give these guys
as much attention, as much love from social services,
from opportunities, from tattoo removals, in some cases even cash, as a gift from law enforcement. And last year, we saw
a 40 percent reduction in homicides and a 30 percent reduction
in violent crime. (Applause) And now, the road. I mentioned that my community
has a 23 percent poverty rate. As someone who comes from poverty,
it’s a personal issue for me. So I decided that we
wouldn’t just do a program, or we wouldn’t just do something
to go around the edges, but we would call into question
the very structure that produces poverty in the first place. So starting in February,
we launched a basic income demonstration, where for the next 18 months, as a pilot, 130 families,
randomly selected, who live in zip codes at or below
the median income of the city, are given 500 dollars a month. And we’re doing this
for a couple of reasons. We’re doing it because we realize that something is structurally
wrong in America, when one in two Americans
can’t afford one 400-dollar emergency. We’re doing it because we realize
that something is structurally wrong when wages have only increased
six percent between 1979 and 2013. We’re doing it because we realize
something is structurally wrong when people working two and three jobs, doing all the jobs
no one in here wants to do, can’t pay for necessities, like rent, like lights, like health care,
like childcare. (Applause) So I would say, Stockton again,
we have real issues. I have constituent emails in my phone now,
about the homelessness issue, about some of the violent crime
we’re still experiencing. But I would say, I think as a society,
we would be wise to go back to those old Bible stories
we were taught growing up, and understand that number one, we have to begin to see
each other as neighbors, that when we see someone
different from us, they should not reflect our fears,
our anxieties, our insecurities, the prejudices we’ve been taught,
our biases — but we should see ourselves. We should see our common humanity. Because I think once we do that, we can do the more important work
of restructuring the road. Because again, I understand
some listening are saying, “Well, Mayor Tubbs, you’re talking about
structural violence and structural this, but you’re on the stage. That the structures can’t be too bad
if you could come up from poverty, have a father in jail, go to Stanford, work in the White House and become mayor.” And I would respond by saying
the term for that is exceptionalism. Meaning that we recognize it’s exceptional
for people to escape the structures. Meaning by our very language, we understand that the things we’re seeing
in our world are by design. And I think that task for us, as TEDsters, and as good people,
just people, moral people, is really do the hard work necessary
of not just joining hands as neighbors, but using our hands
to restructure our road, a road that in this country has been
rooted in things like white supremacy. A road like in this country
has been rooted in things like misogyny. A road that’s not working
for far too many people. And I think today, tomorrow and 2020
we have a chance to change that. So as I prepare to close, I started with a story from nine years ago
and I’ll end with one. So after my cousin was murdered, I was lucky enough
to go on the Freedom Rides with some of the original freedom riders. And they taught me a lot
about restructuring the road. And one guy in particular,
Bob Singleton, asked me a question I’m going to leave with us today. We were going to Anniston,
Alabama, and he said, “Michael,” and I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “I was arrested
on August 4, 1961. Now why is that day important?” And I said, “Well, you were arrested, if you weren’t arrested,
we wouldn’t be on this bus. if we weren’t on this bus,
we wouldn’t have the rights we enjoy.” He rolled his eyes and said, “No, son.” He said, “On that day,
Barack Obama was born.” And then he said he had no idea
that the choice he made to restructure the road would pave the way, so a child born as a second class citizen, who wouldn’t be able to even get
a cup of water at a counter, would have the chance,
50 years later, to be president. Then he looked at me and he said, “What are you prepared to do today so that 50 years from now a child born has a chance
to be president?” And I think, TED, that’s
the question before us today. We know things are jacked up. I think what we’ve seen
recently isn’t abnormal but a reflection of a system
that’s been structured to produce such crazy outcomes. But I think it’s also an opportunity. Because these structures we inherit
aren’t acts of God but acts of men and women,
they’re policy choices, they’re by politicians like me,
approved by voters like you. And we have the chance
and the awesome opportunity to do something about it. So my question is:
What are we prepared to do today, so that a child born today,
50 years from now isn’t born in a society
rooted in white supremacy; isn’t born into a society
riddled with misogyny; isn’t born into a society riddled
with homophobia and transphobia and anti-Semitism
and Islamophobia and ableism, and all the phobias and -isms? What are we prepared to do today, so that 50 years from now we have a road in our society
that’s structured to reflect what we hold
to be self-evident? That all men, that all women, that even all trans people are created equal and are endowed by your Creator
with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you. (Applause)




Comments
  1. Well, my neighbor is such a good neighbor that he is now controlling everything I do through his political influence over me.

  2. political figures lie like its expected, who wants the average far left democratic as a neighbor???

    I was far left until I found out Democrats paid for Russia investigation hoax.

  3. Just stop being a progressive and the world would a far better, for more peaceful and a far less racist place!!

  4. FINALLY, a young man acting like a man and doing something about the problems instead of just complaining about it! The Golden rule does work! Good job young man!

  5. Some people bake pies.  Some people like to slice those pies.  They disguise their reason for redistribution of others' work,, and claim unfairness.

  6. Take personal responsibility.
    This guy correctly identified that government is the problem for the city he grew up in.
    But then this guy decided that becoming the government was the answer.
    Then he set up a line of victims who need to be protected by more government.
    Bullshit.
    Take personal responsibility.
    You're not a victim.
    We all go through tough times in life.
    Nobody owes you anything, so don't demand anything. You have to help yourself.
    Take personal responsibility.

  7. Michael Tubbs
    – Doesn’t like Halloween
    – His cousin was murdered on that day
    – Red Lined Neighborhoods

    4:00 The Problems Of Stockton
    4:46 My Neighbor
    6:58 More needs to be done
    Basic Human Needs

    8:43 Health clinic For Undocumented People
    9:43 10 minutes, 10 years, 2 different lives
    11:57 Poverty, $500 per month basic income (Yang)
    13:48 Exceptionalism

    14:47 Freedom Rides And Roads

  8. Why was a cis man given a platform for this talk when it could have been given to a Latinx nonbinary person or other marginalized group?

  9. We can not satisfies all the "phobia" and "ism" . It is contradict with each other believes and stands. However, certain problem such as poverty, climate change is something i believe we will working and surely agree to solve it together.

  10. "Our society is structured for this." Yes, and plants are 'structured' to orient themselves towards the sunlight.
    Unequal outcomes can also be the result of emergent structures, not simply poor human planning.

  11. I applaud your resolve, for running head first into a problem and working for a good solution. I hope that your time in office doesn't jade your ideals, nor do you become apathetic to the issues you once personally knew. I also hope you don't work to solve the problems of some by creating problems for others.

  12. Oh someone is trying to actually go a different way than the people before him did and they clearly failed.
    Conservatives:
    That's not right let the free market deal with anything

  13. what a gross misinterpretation of the parable Jesus spoke… The Good Samaritan. The main idea is good but everything else this man was adding to the story was not what Jesus what talking about. Read it for yourself from the original author.

    25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

    28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  14. Michael's talk should be the mantra of all voices today for a better future for all…..it can happen if we all try. Excellent speech!!

  15. I remember when TED used to have actual jaw-dropping talks and not a bunch of woe-is-me-life-is-hard-because-I'm-a-fill-in-the-blank-victim

  16. Asian immigrants come dirt poor into this country and in one generation their kids go to Ivy League universities and become well-paid professionals.
    The US is not perfect but the grounds are fertile enough to yield a productive life if you want. Stop blaming skin color and THE MAN for not being able to make it. Entire generations of black families who lived in the US and can speak the language and have far more advantages than some family who just came from 3rd world conditions – offer so many excuses for being criminals and hurting and stealing from innocent people. How about not making babies that you can not parent responsibly and stop making excuses.

  17. So the person who governs one of the worst areas of the US is telling us how to govern the country and act as people? I think ill listen to him more when people can no longer say "I came from Stockton" because he actually made it better.

  18. Did click the video, scrolled down before the speaker appeared. Heard his voice and thought "oh, a black guy talking". I am racist?

  19. Democrats are very much aware of this, although you make it sound much more ‘butterflies and flowers’ than it really is. Keep the lower class in the lower class and you’ve got permanent voters for life.

  20. ok that's the last Ted talk for me, it started like an interesting journey in search of human knowledge and experience…but it's ending in a spiral resembling dante's descent in a ideological inferno of identity politics. The radical left has conquered the platforms of contemporary knowledge fruition and now everything is politics….but when everything is politics nothing is politics anymore, it's just an ideological battle for power. I know better…I will leave this channel to the ideologically possesed to the simpletons and the unharmful dangerous people. a book is way better

  21. what are the passing present numbers is in reduction in violent crime and homicides that he speaks about? Did the way they prosecute have anything to do with that? Meaning bad actions happened but we're not prosecuted for that level of criminality, there for a perceived reduction.

  22. Wow. And he didnt have to sit up in the Oval office with Trump posing for some stupid phony photo opp.
    He appears to be actually getting something done.

  23. These go beyond bible stories. They are stories common to all humanity no matter what their belief system is. I helped us survive our time a million years ago on the plains of Africa or otherwise we would have been cat food. Don't divide society by religious or non-religious belief which is what you are doing.

  24. The racism and privilege among those who make comments blaming the underprivileged and are avoiding interaction with anyone who doesn't look like or live with them is showing so much.
    So many people are triggered when someone deliberately rocks the boat and attempts to implement change.

  25. These all sound fabulous, nobody was structured to poverty, that's all personal choices, maybe you didn't choose to live in your community, but your parents did.
    If you are not able to make your own living, why you choose to give birth to your children?
    If you are already born in a family like this, then your parents are responsible to raise you up, not somebody else, not even the society.
    so nobody owe anybody else anything, everybody should be responsible for their own choice. No way you can prove your way will work. Absolutely wrong way!

  26. "I was in the white house, the other white house". Please don't mix your political views with a TED talk. I have noticed that a lot of times scholars aren't the talkers in the video, it just seems like random people talking. I looked it up on Wikipedia and it says that they cover political topics too and this guy is a politician, so now it makes sense. I wish they separated the politics to another talk and just focused on academic/scientific topics.

  27. Hello , i can translate your all videos into Arabic to spread your videos and spread knowledge . For each video i will take only 1$ . I think it will be good for you.

  28. Random?! You mean, ppls you personally know first, then others. You want to give $500 to low income or poor families, give criminals money so they won't commit a crime but yet there is so many Homeless who you haven't gave a cent to! And you talking about being a good neighbor! Stop with the bullshit!? SMH.

  29. Talk,that’s all he is good at. The self proclaimed “story teller of Stockton “ the crime rates higher then ever,as is the murder rates and the homeless have more then tripled but where is the tubes? Spending all his time traveling and promoting his brand just like he is doing in this video… garbage!!!!

  30. He had me until he ended his list for a better tomorrow with ending islamophobia and transfobia etc.

    A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Islam is a political system disguised as a religion, one fraught with hostility and hatred towards certain groups of people. It’s not irrational to fear Islamic terror for example.

    While I agree with the sentiment (no need to fear your average muslim neighbor), I very much would like to keep my reservations toward Islam.

    Transfobia is another weird one. As far as I know trans-people are not denied any rights that others possess. Some argue gender dysphoria (which is at the root of transgenderism) is a form of mental illness and as such should be treated with caution. This doesn’t mean you hate trans-people!

    Just like acknowledging the many developmental defects people have does not mean you have phobias for those things. There could be “wheelchairphobia”. I’d put transphobia in the same category.

    But honestly, I think the speaker just hasn’t paid that careful attention to the specific issues listed.

    It was more of a call to action against all things bad and wrong, against prejudice. On that I’m with him 100%.

    However one should understand that compassion isn’t always the same thing as acceptance.

  31. Michael Tubbs is the youngest mayor to receive tens of thousands of dollars from Freemason developers and Deep State Social Engineers. He has never had an independent thought of his own in over 100,000 hours of trying. The rates of violence and poverty and homelessness have sharply spiked while Mayor Tubbs is in office, but don't worry, he just got back from a fancy vacation and bought a house in a nicer part of town so by Him doing better, YOU are too!! Phony intellectuals and other bullshit artists agree, Michael Tubbs has what it takes to continue to rise in Politics!!!

  32. About 1 minute into the video. He's proudly talking about his 'hatred', he pretends that there are two white houses, he also thought it would cool to give a shout out to WorldStarHipHop. I'm sure the rest of the talk will be just great.

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