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Where Did the Empathy for Ukraine Go? (with Terrell Starr)

December 17, 2023
Notes
Transcript
Terrell Starr joins Tim to discuss being a Black reporter in Ukraine, and how that impacts the way he views the Russian invasion of the country. He also delves into the current mentality of Ukrainian citizens towards the defense effort, as well as how they view the stalemate in the United States over additional funds its ally.

Terrell’s YouTube channel, Black Diplomats official, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/@BlackDiplomatsOfficial/videos

Subscribe to Terrell’s newsletter here: https://substack.com/@terrellstarr (First article publishes next week.

If you’d like to donate to some Ukrainian organizations Terrell recommends, click on the links below:

Nareshti Help Fund: https://nareshti.com. PAYPAL info: [email protected] (In the note say, “Terrell Starr sent me your way.”)

Yahidne Mission, which helps to rebuild homes in formerly occupied cities:  https://heylink.me/Yahidne_mission/

Tatyana Kagitina, who supports Ukrainian soldiers who need winter gear, can be reached by email at [email protected]. (In the note say, “Terrell Starr sent me your way.”)

Follow Terrell on social media with links below.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/terrelljstarr
IG: https://www.instagram.com/terrelljstarr?igshid=OGQ5ZDc2ODk2ZA%3D%3D&utm_source=qr
Threads: [email protected]

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08

    Hello. Welcome to the next level Sunday interview. It’s Tim, and I have got Terrell star with me. Terrell runs the Bulwark diplomat social media feed, and, we’ll get into it on the podcast. I found him so interesting when I stumbled onto an Instagram as a black American born Detroit has a crazy kind of life story who learned Russian, went to the peace corps, moved to Eastern Europe, moved to Ukraine, was doing independent journalism there, and then the war started.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:38

    And so I’ve been looking for a way to get him on here to both give us an update about life in Ukraine and also kind of talk about the interesting racial dynamic of know, thinking about his life in America and and the racial challenges he faced here and then going in Eastern Europe where he’s like the only black person within a hundred thousand miles. Okay. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but you get the gist And so he’s got an interesting story and this was leaked to do it because, you know, Zelensky is in DC. As we discussed on the Wednesday next level, there is I think very real concern that the United States support for our ally is about to run out because of the Republican Party because of the nihilism, because of the Maganationalism, and, you know, because unfortunate ultimately, the Republicans who to date have been actually good on this to Mitch McConnell’s of the world. It seems like they might have run out political capital on their own side.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:31

    I hope that’s not the case. I really do. We hash that all out on Wednesday if you missed it. Go back and check the Wednesday next level. And so we’re getting a little bit with Terrell, but I’m mostly interested in his perspective, his personal journey, his experiences on the ground in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:46

    I think you’ll enjoy it. So up next, Terrell Star, host of the Bulwark diplomats, but first, our friends at acid Tongks. We’ll see you guys later. Welcome to the Bulwark next level Sunday interview. I’m Tim Miller And I’m here today with Terrell Star, the author of the Black Diplomats newsletter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:20

    He’s got Black Diplomats official on YouTube, You’ll see him on all the social media accounts doing Bulwark diplomats stuff, an independent journalist who has been in Kiev and all over Ukraine, really. Since the start of the war. And, Charles, thanks for doing this, man.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:34

    Oh, of course. I’m happy to be here. We’ve been talking for a minute via Twitter here. I’m finally here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:39

    Alright. I’m glad we could finally do it. So I’m gonna give you the backstory here about, this happened. I was on Instagram. I guess it was maybe last winter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:47

    And somebody shared a post of a black guy and a massive coat walking through Keith after after a after a raid. It’s there’s snow everywhere. And I think to myself, who in the fuck is this guy? And what is he thinking? And so I would like to just start there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:03

    Like, who are you and what were you thinking? What are you doing over there?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:06

    Oh, yes. I am an independent journalist, but I’ve actually I specialize in Eastern European politics. My degree is Russian East European. You raise your studies. I also went to Jay School at the University of Illinois, but I’ve been focused on this region for more than twenty years.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:21

    And so I started off by going to Russia when I was an undergrad, and then I was accepted into the peace corps. And I was in the country of Georgia where I witnessed the Rose Revolution then and so I was always just pulled into the politics of eastern Europe in particular. And I was and I honestly, was intrigued because when I went to Russia, I saw all these black people there in the in the like you, I thought what the fuck are these people doing here? Right? I thought that I would be the only one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:50

    And so it took me on this intellectual sojourne of understanding how black people, you know, starting from Lexington Hughes in the nineteen thirties going over there to, you know, with the other group of other black people who has socialist leanings who are seeking a alternative to the Jim Crow South in reality of the United States, but also went deeper to understand how black bodies entered into the Russian empire, etcetera. And so that culminated into my own curiosity for myself to go on my own journey. And so when you saw me, that’s the lag of that journey that you saw me on actually covering the war in Ukraine as it actually was happening.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:31

    Yeah. What did you find out about the Russian history? What was the genesis of of black folks ended up in Russia.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:37

    Right. So the genesis of it was that, there’s a book, as it was written by Ashley Blakeley, it focused on the history of blackness in Russia. And the history goes back to even, you know, through the Ottoman Empire, whereby black people who were enslaved, through the Ottomans were given to Katherine the Great as gifts. Right? So it’s not some of the earliest historical documentation of black people being, service in Katherine the Great’s court.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:03

    Who Catherine The Great, by the way, you know, herself, was definitely a villain created to pay a settlement where she concentrated Jews you know, a much of Eastern Europe and and colonized Ukraine to a greater extent, but there were black people that were interspersed within that history and then it went on into Soviet Union, which is where you had the largest push because the Soviet is very keenly in my view. Their big push was against Western imperialism in the continent of Africa. So they use it as a political play to get the continent of Africa and other oppressed peoples or black peoples to be on their side. Ironically, whether it was the Russian empire, but more particularly the Soviets, they had their own hegemony, they had their own colonial policy. I mean, Siberia essentially is, like, it’s colonized territory and indigenous people murdered them just as Bulwark just as American settlers, murdered and butchered indigenous people here in the United States.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:56

    So Is there it it was it was the pop calling the kettle Bulwark, but they played off of the the the the racism that was inflicted on black peoples across the world through Brussels and through Washington, DC. And that led me to really understanding how these black people were reconciling these two colonial powers, but the difference was that one was appealing to them from a national level on ways that the United States and in Western Europe did not. And that’s what fascinated me so much, and I’m still wrestling with that dynamic today as I’m really working through my own book proposal to figure out how how we can explain what’s going on with so many of our global issues now today.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:40

    Yeah. Well, I wanna go in a little bit more into your back story because I think it’s so fascinating. I’ve I’ve since discovered since I saw you on Instagram, but, I I wanna just talk about the news a little bit first. So we’re taping this on Wednesday afternoon. Zelensky was here last night.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:53

    Before we get to Zelensky, you’re actually back stateside for a couple but have recently been in Ukraine, obviously been there throughout the war. What is the state of play on the ground there? You know, from your time there last month, and and you know, from your sources and folks that you’re talking to. Are people starting to feel a little bit disillusioned? Is there a sense that maybe some of the momentum is shifting towards the bad guys?
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:16

    How’d you assess the state of play and how people are feeling there?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:19

    Well, I was in Ukraine up until the first week of November, and I’m returning it February so there’s no disillusionment from what I’ve seen at all. I’ve traveled across the entire country. In fact, there’s more enthusiasm and their determination is is entrenched And there’s no returning back to it. This has been the most anti Russia period since the end of the cold war, essentially in Ukraine. In the politics of the Ukrainian Parliament, very pro Ukrainian.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:45

    And if you are a Russia sympathizer, you will have a very rough and bleak political career. In the country right now. In fact, the helder offensive installed, essentially. And so the Ukrainians really do not have the necessary manpower, the hardware, the attack comes to long range missiles needed to strike into the southern region. You know, I’m talking about here for example.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:09

    A lot of people thought that the Southern offensive would be like the counter offensive that was taking place in the east with, hard key, for example. Is a completely different set of circumstances. And so I find that people are still continuing to be resolute. There’s a lot of concern about US funding. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:25

    But I just published, video story on my YouTube channel, Black DiplomES official, where I was interviewing volunteers who were raising money prow sourcing money for Ukrainian soldiers getting them flak jackets and winter clothes, for example, and there was a a guy who owns a famous perfume shop who since February of last year has given two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of his own money from his shop earnings to the Ukrainian military. That’s just one person. So when you ask me about what’s the state of play on the ground, there’s from the local population, and I bring up the local population because civil society there is a large reason where where they’re in the competitive situation right now is incredibly resolute, and there’s no return. There’s no talk up. There’s no attitude for peace talks and peace talks is a very relative subjective term that we can get into it if you ask, but There’s no dialogue about we’re going to negotiate or we’re going to see land.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:21

    It’s always loop.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:22

    I wanna have some of those Charlie Sykes, some of those folks you’ve been talking to. I’m gonna get those links put them in the description of this. This show, if our listeners and viewers wanna support because I know that they would like to.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:33

    Our
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:33

    listenership is very unified on this issue. That’s great. I’m glad to hear that. There has to be, though, and maybe this is a little bit more recent than in November, but a sense of frustration with what American politics the view of us from them. I mean, you know, to date, we’ve we’ve, you know, maybe not always been as quick as they’ve wanted in in providing support, when it comes to military support, financial support, whatever, various weaponry.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:56

    But now, I mean, look, we’re staring down the possibility of a total a total collapse of support from America. Is that not raising anxieties over there?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:07

    Oh, anxiety is an me know that people are incredibly concerned, but a lot of this anxiety folks really don’t understand the culture of American politics, essentially what’s happening right now in There’s a few diplomats that I speak to every two weeks while I’m in Ukraine. We just exchange notes. And it’s all off record. I tell him what’s going on from my perspective as an American who covers Ukrainian politics, and he tells me what’s going on from the Ukrainian perspective. And so what was going on here, Tim, is that a very particular segment of the GOP, the freedom caucus, namely, is they are taking advantage of procedural steps in regards to power.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:46

    And that’s what happened with Matt Gates, you know, challenging for Carthing. You know, he’s retiring stuff. Has a lot to do with it. And so none of these people have a Ukraine policy. They don’t have a serious, foreign policy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:58

    What they have is a white nationalist policy. And Ukraine is being bastardized as a campaign talking point because it’s not America first. And that’s ultimately what this is about. And so you have a country like Ukraine. We’re at the beginning of the war where you would think that this country, and let’s talk about the racial dynamics of in YEA.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:19

    There is such appeal towards really where this war is captivated people. You have people who look like much of the American population are white. Right, that, you know, you have children, who’ve been bombed, who’ve been killed, who experienced incredible atrocities. I’ve witnessed you know, and I help people ferry across into the EU. So I have a very personal intimate experience with this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:40

    What’s happening is that in Ukraine, what I try to explain to them is that this has nothing to do with you. You know, this this is not about supporting Ukraine because they don’t give a fuck about Ukraine. It’s about maintaining their power. And if you can look at Ukraine and say that money that’s going to Ukraine ought to come here, then that’s a good talking point, and it has nothing to do with the security of the Ukrainian people.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:03

    Yeah. We could go round and round about the bastardization of the g o p. We’re gonna be, you know, find a very friendly audience here on that front
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:10

    I see this as an app. I’ve been in this part of the world for twenty plus years, and I can’t find a policy angle that makes sense.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:18

    Right. And I mean either. And so but to me that is what’s the concerning part. Like if I was in Ukraine right now, I’d be in a panic about this. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:27

    Like, I don’t see how America can keep funding them to the degree that they need And on top of that, you have the specter of possibly another Trump presidency. Has that sunk in with people? Like, how are they navigating this situation given given like the abandonment that is gonna that is imminent from us, likely.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:48

    There is a of what’s going on in America. They fundamentally are really puzzled by American culture. Once you get beyond these substantive conversations, they’re like, that literally they’re saying, Cheryl, what the fuck. Right? And and and and and the reason why they’re saying that is because they don’t really understand how a country that they say, okay, this is the land of freedom and opportunity.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:10

    How can you have someone like Donald Trump? And Office. Now, of course, we all know because we understand this country. They do not. And so a lot of their top diplomats, they go to their highest quality schools here in the United States, but unfortunately, they don’t step outside of these predominantly white think tank spaces where they could get a glimpse you know, and and that’s most formats.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:31

    Right? But especially Ukraine, Poland, all these Eastern European countries, they don’t get that. And so that has a lot to do with the dirt of expertise coming from people of color who understand the totality. Of this country. And so that’s a big thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:46

    Now another concern is, you know, let’s go back to last night where there was this massive missile attack against Keith in particular. And so around Keith, there are roughly about a handful of of patriot missile defense system, you know, various defense system that come from the west as, you know, come from Europe as well. Now I as somebody who lives in Keith, you know, six months out of the year, I have heard those missile attacks, and I could tell you just by the sounds. If you hear explosions in the air, that’s a good sign because you only have to worry about the debris, and it means that the missile systems are intercepting
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:19

    the income.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:20

    Worry about you in the income. Yes. You worry about the booms because that means that those fuckers landing. Right? And so, and you’re worried about where exactly are they landing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:28

    And so, I’ve woken up three o’clock in the morning, four o’clock in the morning to drone strikes, and you know the Iranian ones because your loudness held the motors a lot. Like, you you you really get into a system in a cadence to really understand the type of of weapon that’s coming in your direction at hundreds of miles per hour. And so as the conversation around funding ending for Ukraine looms. People are worried that we may have to wake up to the possibility that the incoming coming in is not going to be intercepted. And so there’s an incredible fear because now we’re just talking about keeping a lot of those mis and some of those missiles come through.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:03

    Now just imagine if you’re in Odessa, if you’re in Harkeve, if you’re in here a song which was liberated in the most recent counter offensive. A lot of these countries don’t have the air defense systems to protect themselves. They’re in much worse shape. And so there is an incredible fear about that, but I think we have to have another conversation about why is it that this support that we saw coming before and before and before is no longer happening. So is there definitely great concerns about that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:32

    Yeah. I mean, going to the last night example, the Keith, I feel like in America, there was outside of the Steve Bannon bubble, you know, outside of the far right, alright, right, bubble. I there was a lot of shock about the assault on Keith, the initial assault on Keith. Right? I I do think that right or wrong, I think that there was a sense here you know, this is not our position at the board, but I think there’s a sense here that, like, you know, among your casual Americans that there’s a territorial dispute on the board or blabble of Ukraine and Russia is one thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:07

    Right? Like, bombs going into Kiev. Like, that is an invasion. Right? Like, that is Russia in trying to invade and take over another country, that is fundamentally a different thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:17

    You know, from a public facing standpoint. The thing that worries me is that, like, that’s starting to happen again. And it doesn’t feel like the outrage is the same. Right? We’re not seeing the same backlash here in America that we saw initially.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:31

    Like, are people in Ukraine can eventually start to feel abandoned and could like the momentum on this thing change very quickly is kind of what I worry about.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:40

    It’s not that that they have concern about Western support turning on them. They’re concerned about the apathy. Like, they’re keenly aware that over time, people get weary of the news cycle. So when I was there at the beginning of the war, you know, I was actually there months before the war started. And there was a lead up to this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:02

    Right? And so what’s important
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:03

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:04

    Is that the way that Putin talked about Ukrainian, he talked about them like they’re less than Russians. Right? You know, they’re beneath them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:11

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:12

    The way that I describe it is that he talks about Ukraine. He’s like their white trash. You know, he he really he he does. He does. He doesn’t embrace them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:19

    Right? And he has repeatedly said there’s no Ukrainian society, no Ukrainian culture. I mean, it is as white nationalist as Jonathan Last as you could possibly get get the way that we would look at it. Right? And so his whole thing is we want to wipe Ukrainian culture completely off the map These are just a whole bunch of runaway hits who really think that they are something more than what they are.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:42

    They really just need to be an old blast of Russia. That is how he articulates that. And so there was an anger and a and a brooding that that percolated leading up to that point. And so when you saw the resistance that a lot of people were surprised by, a lot of it in addition to the improvements of the Ukrainian military It was sustained by the fact that this this person is coming because he he doesn’t want us to exist as human beings. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:09

    Right. And so they so when you talk about where fighting for our lives and our existence. That was literally true. Now I think that people are definitely worried, you know, worried about the apathy and here’s why. Again, I think that when you see the images at the beginning of a war where the fighting was most intense and everyone was worried Ukraine would even exist after that the intrigue was Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:32

    Will Ukraine survive. And so that’s not there anymore. And basically, they see that Ukraine, they don’t people don’t really understand then, like, what’s happening right now because there’s just a state of, okay, the Russians are taking over done yet. They’ve taken over much of Luhanske. There’s a little bit of Luhans that’s left, or they’re taking over here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:52

    So it becomes this very wonky conversation that’s being led by think tank people and military experts that talk
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:59

    to each other.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:00

    He is a gamer. So so so the conversation became more the empathy left because the way that we talk about Ukraine is not empathetic. The way that we talk about Ukraine is like a chessboard. And so really the type of people that ought to be leading to Charlie Sykes is Joe Biden himself. And the way that he talks about it, he doesn’t talk about it from a perspective of this is why the American people need to participate in the defense of Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:28

    And so he doesn’t humanize it. It just becomes a think take conversation that most of the American public don’t feel that they have a personal connection to in the way that they were connecting to the images of Ukrainians fighting to defend themselves and then women and children and everyone else fighting for their lives. That’s the major thing. There’s a lack of humanity from all sides that’s being lost in the communication particularly. Again, I criticized the White House for their for for their dialogue because Mike Johnson, the the house speaker, I think he’s intellectually disingenuous, but when he talks about the communication standpoint and what’s your strategy, he is right about that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:05

    Yeah. Somebody’s been good, really good on the communication side of this is Zelensky. I’m wondering But your perspective wasn’t being on the ground there. And the story is kind of crazy. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:19

    Like, the guy, like, as an actor, and and I think there were a lot of questions, oh, there is up for this. And you’re there before starts. And so I’m just wondering, like, what did people think about him before the war started? Then as it said, you know, just kind of walk me through, like, the perception story is lent And I’d have to imagine when you’re first on the ground, you’re like, oh, shit. Is this guy up for this?
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:36

    Oh, oh, everybody thought, oh, shit. There was worry. Definitely. They were like, does this guy have getting to handle this because people thought that he was a one term president. There was no forecast of Ukraine entering into the European Union or NATO, now all of these things are on the table right now and then there’s conversation of ascension talks with European Union now in the next few days.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:58

    However, at the beginning of the war, no one knew about the Ukrainian army and military, but but with Zelensky, because of that acting experience, because of that TV persona, He is a master of communication. And I’m gonna bring up somebody who I know you, maybe, you know, and that definitely me and all of your audience want don’t care for at all. It’s Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was somebody who was a former actor who understood.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:20

    I love Greg. Don’t don’t be dumpy. Don’t don’t be throwing me down. I love Ronnie. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:24

    Alright. We’re the Trevor’s over here. Alright? Remember remember where you’re at. Remember what stage you’re in.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:31

    I hear you, but the thing about Ronald Reagan was that He was brilliant with symbolisms, right? You know, and I hate his policy, but he was excellent with symbolisms, one of the best to ever do it, right, in his own way. And Zelitsky is also somebody who’s very keen on symbolism. And you notice this now at the beginning of the war, he spoke pretty much in Ukrainian. And then now he’s doing all these interviews in the Russian.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:54

    So even his way of communicating with the world has been incredible because he understands the human touch. And the way that he answers questions, he’s very diplomatic, which is not something that we saw in him prior to this invasion or when he running for office. We didn’t know that. And sometimes the the worst of circumstances tend to bring out the best of people or or aspects Yeah. Who they are, And so, you know, let’s go back to in his recent his interview on Fox News.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:21

    It’s roughly a six minute interview. Right? But but but but There’s one thing that that was really important. He was asked basically, about the support for Ukraine. He said something that was really profound.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:32

    Which he said that it’s a moral issue. Right? And I think this is gonna really slip a lot of people’s minds. He was very correct to say that this is a moral issue. Because it is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:43

    Right? And I know right now what’s dominating the headlines is, Gaza, which I also think is a moral issue. Right? But genocide is happening in Ukraine right now. Putin has verbally articulated in officials in the Russian government have articulated that Ukraine does not need to exist, and they talk about them in the most genocidal terms imaginable.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:06

    And so Zelensky said that I’ve tried to tell the house republicans everyone that this is a moral dilemma and that Putin really, you know, like to support us is essential not only just to support Ukraine militarily, but just from a human being perspective. And he he articulated that better then I think most politicians here right now, and you have to think and I’ll close out with this. You know, the thing about biting why why why it’s so critical with them is that really without a Biden in office, there’s no one neither the Democrats nor Republicans have anyone with his type of statesmanship and experience in this region in particular, the last person who had his, type of regional commitment and political statesmanship expertise was John McCain. He’s no longer there. Before that, we have to honestly go back to Reagan in that regard.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:57

    Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:57

    H w.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:57

    Yeah. You could say h w, but then it was rated. And so you so this is a very rare type of of of situational expertise that’s essential. To really crystalize why it’s important to support you and I can go into my own technical reasons why why it’s US support, for for for that region is needed primarily the fact that you if, as a NATO member country, it’s not really from a security standpoint, healthy to have an unstabilized country at your border, whole another conversation. But I think that right now, with Zelensky, when he was also asked during the press conference with Biden about Trump, was Hey, do you see think that support will end with trump as an office?
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:39

    Zelensky diplomatically said I’ve worked with both parties. I’ll give you the answer that he gonna say. It will end. Because Biden is the whip of NATO. He is the whip de facto of the European Union.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:51

    He is the one that whips the other members into shape and to corral them to get around. You know, it’s like herding cats and to corral them around support. Where he is not in office, all that is gone.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:02

    I agree with that. Well, one way to kind of get people to actually care about this knot in the game of chessboard ways is to like tell these stories and it’s a cool thing about what you’re doing. So I’m wondering mean, is there anything, you know, that has really stood out to you that kind of crystallize, like, what they’re going through over there?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:18

    Yeah. So my YouTube channel, which, you know, Bulwark diplomats official, which it’d all be in the notes at, you know, for for the show. Every week I travel, just talk to a local people. And asking them what is it like living here during the war. And so the culture in Ukraine is that there are people who raise money particular military units that they know and trust because a lot of them have friends and cousins, sisters, what have you, they’re in the military, then they’ll call and say, Hey, we need this, that, and the third.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:47

    Because for all the money that’s being sent to Ukraine is still not enough to cover a lot of, essential needs for the military. So you have Right. A lot of crowdsourcing, millions of dollars in crowdsourcing that’s taking place in Ukraine from everyday people, whether it’s one dollar, whether it’s ten dollars. And so you go there and you see these people who were engineers, they may have been gardeners, and then now they’re making flight jackets. You know, and or now they’re making military underwear for soldiers.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:18

    Things that they never thought that they would ever be doing or you have students who are taking time off not even to fight, but to just volunteer and and raise money or to create ways where they can bring drones into the country so that they can be converted for military use. They so you so so you have all those things, but also one anecdote that sticks out to me is, I went to the city of zaporizhia. And so you have zaporizhia, which is the the the whole blast with Zaporizhia. You have the city. And Everyone knows that’s where the nuclear power plant is, and the Russians are currently occupying it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:52

    So Right. And and I wanted to go there because it’s just done power plants a few hours away and the whole conversation is will this blow up, right, which it won’t. That’s a whole another thing. But basically, the intrigue is what is it like to live near point that everyone thinks is going to explode. So Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:07

    You know, once I got into town, there were so many people who are saying, well, Terrell, we want, you know, we wanna show you around and we want to show you, Hey, this is what we’re doing again. One cafe that I visited, it was named Hymars.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:25

    K.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:26

    And so she opened it up. You know, in Hymars, You know, it’s the, it’s the
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:31

    The weapon.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:32

    Yeah. The weapon is the web. Yeah. Yeah. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:33

    Right. And so she named it High Mars at the start of the war. Right? And and and and so in shared thing is strategically was to say High Mars and her and I asked her why did you name it High Mars? She said, well, Thank you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:47

    So it just shows you the intensity of the commitment that someone would name their business after a Ukrainian weapon, right, and started during the war. And also I was invited to a doughnut shop owner’s shop, and they make some of the best doughnuts that I’ve ever tasted all my life. They would put Crispy Kreme to shame and their health care. And so, and these are people who just invited me and just showing me, you know, their whole thing is, hey, fuck Russia. And they literally tell me that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:17

    And so the tourism Bureau in Zaporizha invited me to their office And his first word to me was Russia sucks. And then he just went into this larger conversation of the fact that, hey, we used to speak Russian. That was our first language, but now we’re moving into Ukraineian, and we just wanna tell you why we hate these people. And it was a very and for me just being, an American there, and they’re talking to me about, how they feel like they’ve been dehumanized. Just as a visual, right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:54

    You know, I’m I’m used as a black person who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. And this is where a lot of my approach comes from. Right? Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, which is the largest Bulwark city in the United States has been that way for more than thirty years. Also, I went to a historically Bulwark college at Fernando Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:12

    So for the first twenty two years of my life, I lived a very black American life. And so I know my whole history of of oppression and discrimination very well. What was really illuminating to me was just the scene of this black guy with the history that I have and these people, Ukrainian people who, you know, by western constructs of race are, you know, and just generally, you know, are white people. Right? And so them talking about their oppression to me as a black person.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:45

    There are definitely differences, but there are definitely a lot of similar strains there. That I could personally appreciate and relate to, not only because my area of expertise, but also from a human perspective, it really opened up my eyes to the different types of oppression that exists in the world and that trip to zaporizhia in each instance where these different people that I mentioned welcome me into their workspaces, their environments, this is how we are overcoming this Russian colonialism oppression story. So that was just interspersed in their very welcoming greeting to me. And so it was really something that sits with me even to this day, and I’m happy. This is really the first time that I’ve spoken to anyone about it and towards me enough.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:35

    Can I just it’s only wanted to talk to Quinn Smith more about this? At the very end, I talked to, you know, Quinn Smith, that’s for the Atlantic. I wrote how the word has passed. Bulwark guys writes about kind of racial history and how we how we passed down stories about our racist past, mostly in America. And at the very end of our interview, I asked him about something that he’s changed his perspective on I mean, he said he was he’s doing some reporting on Korea and and what was, happening in in Korea and he kind of had a very American worldview mentally towards it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:05

    But as he was over there doing reporting, you know, he said it surprised him. It gave him a different view of like colonialism and race because when he was listening to Koreans, they were talking about Japanese colonial oppression. Right? And he said they’re using a lot of the same words that a lot of, you know, Bulwark folks choose when they’re talking about white good idea. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:24

    And and he’s like, there’s no racial. He’s like, there’s not really a pigmentation construct. There. Right? He didn’t say that what I’m saying.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:30

    I’m putting my words in his mouth. But but it’s the same thing. And so it’s interesting to hear you say that. And so anyway, I just kind of wonder, has that, like, changed your active on how integral race is to the issue of colonialism and oppression, or has it?
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:44

    Mark, my first thought was, Linkston Hughes, very famous all time great American writer. He went there as a black man, you know, history of Jim Crow, you know, in his family. Their existence there. Right? He went to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:02

    And that was during the famine where the, man made famine took place in Ukraine. And so it was really interesting to understand from his perspective how he viewed race so I just it just gave me some historical frame, but to see what he was thinking. And I remember he went to a central Asian country. I forgot the name of it, but basically He went on buses, and he said they have partition spaces during the Russian empire, right pre nineteen seventeen. And so basically, there is a space for Asian people, basically, that were in the back, and then there are other spaces for Russians.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:39

    And so romantic what Clint Smith was saying. So even him in in roughly a hundred years ago, he saw this dynamic, right? And so he saw, you know, the ways that race played there, right? Because the Russians people like to say that race is an American construct, which is Bulwark, The scholarly use of race Baraza began around the eighteen seventies in Russia. So they definitely have their construct of race because that’s how they helped colonialize their territory.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:08

    So that wouldn’t have had that tidbit fact there. But as for me, my reckoning with understanding race. And this is before I understood the terminologies of colonialism and imperialism. When I was in college, I wasn’t thinking about that back then, right? This is, you know, you know, nineteen ninety.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:24

    I didn’t have that frame of mind. And I wasn’t thinking about hegemony, like those big fancy terms. Right? They matter now. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:31

    But basically, what I I didn’t have those words, but what I do remember is when I was a peace corps volunteer, I was in Georgia. And what I learned was that people from the Caucasus, like from the certain parts south to Russia, they’re considered caucus people, and the Russians considered them black. They also considered central Asians
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:54

    the caucasians. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:55

    The caucasian. Right. Right. Which is the original to turn the caucasian. We say caucasian here, United States, but it’s actually not and, you know, true or academic, right, so how we use it here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:05

    But basically, I was fascinated with these georgians who were white people here in the United States. Right? One guy was saying, well, Terrell, you know, we’re black, you know, here. I’m like, get the fuck out of here. You know, like, I, you know, I was like, come on, man, because I’m used to, like, yo’ hair ain’t my, you know what I’m saying?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:23

    Your hair is not going out of your hair like they’re going on my beard. Right? And and and so, but but the thing here is is that I had to expand my own mind and my own intellect. Because and and the thing is is that those very interpersonal experiences that I experienced what Clint saw It was very vital to understand that the world works. Like, there are different types of oppression that work in ways that operate out about construct.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:50

    And if you don’t understand them, then you’re not going to solve the larger problems that exist today. And so it’s not enough to understand only western hegemony, right, which is military, political, economic control. This is a basic definition of, right? And so, you know, I, you know, there’s Russian hegemony, because remember Russia covers about eleven time zones, something to that effect. You have Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:14

    You know, post World War two, Right? You have Chinese hegemony because, you know, post, you know, pre world war two is a very different thing. But post world war two, you have a Chinese agenda. Right? And so my whole point of it is that You know, and I lived in Georgia for going on three years because I go there every year at State for about a month, but I was a peace corps volunteer at State for more than two years.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:32

    But I was surrounded by who I would be considered white people. They had their own regional oppression story in which they were racialized. And the same thing is true for Armenians and Azeri people. Right? And so just from a purely, you know, ethnic standpoint, they are racialized as the black people by the predominant hegemony in their region, which is Russia.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:58

    It it really helped me to understand how the world was really constructed. And and this now bringing our home. So growing up in Detroit, I understood my own hegemony. And, you know, we call it Jim Crow. We call it redlining.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:13

    Because all those things. So why was I poor? I grew up in the hood. You know, why did I come from a place where both my uncle’s soul cracked? Like, that was my whole around my my whole experience with diplomacy start from my watching my Uncle sell drugs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:26

    And so I understood it very well the confines of of where I was. But in reality, this comes down to urban planning, every neighborhood, every house, every business, every park every school is planned through urban planning. And foreign policy is just a globalized extension of that. Many of these countries in these conflicts, whether it’s Israel, whether it’s, you know, when you think about South Sudan, where all these places are carved up. And there’s a group of very powerful white people who are usually at the table making the decisions on how the rest of us live.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:02

    And so when you think about it like that, you know, or or, you know, in the case of China China with with the South China Sea, like, you have these very powerful figures with their own regional homogeneous territories They are deciding how we live. And if you break it down, it’s nothing more than a bigger version of urban planning, and there’s just a re and there’s racism embedded in it. There’s sexism embedded in it. There’s greed. There’s cleptocracy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:28

    All that stuff matters. And so my whole life and the way that I look at the world comes from me being this black kid that grew up in the hood. And quite frankly, my experiences are are experiences like mine, and I don’t know what Clint’s background is by appreciate you can relate to it. So so even intellectually, people like Marklyn Mot Hill who, you know, who who does a lot of print and crubble work on Palestine is that We are living in a space where the oppression that we’re experiencing as individuals It’s not that much different from how it’s carved out for the rest of the world. And if you watch the series power, You know, you have James Saint Patrick who is the drug lord who tried to go straight with his his his.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:12

    I don’t I don’t know that. Is this a is this a fictional series or documentary? I don’t know that I’m not familiar with
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:16

    just thirty seconds. So, basically, the whole point of it is that Tariq, his father was a drug dealer, and his his own network stars. And so Tarique is picking up his father’s job business. And he gets a job as an intern working at a hedge fund that runs a ponzi scheme. But the hedge fund executive kinda lets him do it because he’s profiting off of it one way or the other.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:40

    And so the whole point of the story is that there gets to a point where their worlds collide and they’re clashing around a conflict, but Tarique has to jump on him because he knows that this executive is running a policy scheme. This is gonna crystallize everything I just told you. The white executive who comes from family wealth He looks at Tarit, this nineteen year old kid who goes to Ivy League in New York. He says, okay, you think you got me, you you you think you think that you got me You must think this is the hood, don’t you? And let me tell you, it is not.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:13

    And then Tarique looks him dead in the eye and says, My nigga, the whole world is the hood. You you hear me? Shut the fuck up. And so that that that so so basically He he basically is is crystallizing everything I said, like, the whole world is the hood. And so that’s what I’m saying, like, the racist urban plane that I experienced in in Tariq character experience growing up is a larger manifestation of this criminal criminal enterprise that’s carved up by white people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:42

    It’s just that the world in which Tyrique lives in his criminal lives and the ones that is really destroying the world and wreaking havoc is not.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:49

    Yeah. I’m curious to base on that experience. I’m glad that you brought that out, because I wanted to talk about this anyway. Is, just more on the personal level rather than the geopolitical level. Like, because I was I was reading your, some of you wrote, a long time ago about Buzzfeed, but you’re upbringing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:09

    And and one of the anecdotes in there, you’re talking about your uncles, you said, or drug dealers, but you’re also talking about just the violence in the neighborhood. And, like, you know, there are times coming home from school. There’s gunshots. And there’s stuff you have to worry about. But then, like, also, like, you gotta live your life day in, day out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:22

    You gotta survive while this trauma is going on. And I’m just kind of wondering, did that, like, prepare you, like, give perspective at all for life in Ukraine. And and how do you kind of compare and contrast that? Right? Cause there are some Sarah Longwell, right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:36

    I don’t wanna say Detroit is Keith, but growing up in Detroit, well, you gotta worry about gunshots or live in an apartment where you gotta listen for whether it’s a boom or a crash, Like, there are definitely some parallels there. So I just wonder, like, on a personal level, like, how you process that and how, like, kind of the people in Kiev process
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:54

    Well, thank you very much for asking me that question. I’m always open to talk about the whole mental health journey because we’re often it’s a shameful conversation for a lot of people because they don’t want to talk about their vulnerabilities and I’m happy to do so because I feel like it can help someone else. Growing up where I grew up on the west side of Detroit during the nineteen eighties, Both my uncles started selling drugs and one of them eventually became addicted to them and died of a drug overdose and rough, roughly around two thousand and three, two thousand and four. I think. And so basically I saw people whose lives, quite frankly, were a tragedy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:29

    You know, in my neighborhood, the community there was a community built there that I grew accustomed to that I actually liked. What what was really rough about it was that when they, when the drug dealers would turn on each other and conflict would arise, I also have to acknowledge the the lives that were ruined through drug, you know, through the excessive, drug use by people during the crack era claimed a lot of lives, including a lot of people. I know my family included. And so I also had a very strange relationship with that uncle cricket who was addicted to crack. And so what does that look like?
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:07

    That looks like our house being raided. By other drug dealers and having guns when I’m eleven years old, ten years old, stuck in my face. I remember the the three fifty seven magnum that was stuck in my face. Even as a forty three year old man, you know, just decades later, I still remember that scene. I remember my uncles being beaten to a bloody pulp.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:27

    Just to share violence and just in the aftermath for a few days walking down the hallway past the smears of blood that was beaten out of your family member in the very graphic scenes that I saw and just going to school and my classmates hearing about it and laughing at me And they weren’t laughing at me to be cruel. They were laughing at me to say, y’all, somebody got the jump on y’all. Right? And so there was this whole thing in the hook, you know, being in the but but as a forty three year old man, I’m not upset with them because that was our lives. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:58

    Right? Somebody got to jump on you. You know, and then also my uncle’s drug addiction made him a very violent person. And so there were situations where there were there were three instances where one of my uncles died. And then I had to be the man of the house.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:15

    I was given a a gun when I was twelve years old. And almost killed my uncle three times because of his drug addiction. And I was very lucky that I didn’t pull the trigger at one instance someone pulled the gun out of my hand And so as opposed to being on this show talking to you
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:32

    Because he was like, what? Gonna hurt your mom.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:36

    So he was on one of his benches and then he said he was gonna we thought that he was gonna go down to the basement and get a gun to shoot us, so I was gonna beat him to the punch. So I grabbed my grandmother’s twenty two, and then I pointed at him. And then when he came up, somebody pulled the gun out just right before that was gonna pull the trigger. And so I had a lot of this suppressed anger and fear, it made me a very insular person. And so, basically, when I was about thirty two or thirty three years old.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:11

    I was in a work environment that was extremely there was a very abusive and very bullying environment. And so the intellectual side of me that guy out of the hood was like, I don’t want to put hands on this dude, right? Because it was, you know, from where I’m from, when someone says you’re violating. You know, basically, it’s like you’d be a disrespectful, but if you’re violating, like you’re going past there are certain limbs that you’re going back like you’re violating. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:39

    And so in the from the block, if someone says that you’re violating, then your ears need to perk up because it’s something going on. It’s like somebody from my hood is saying, oh, my mama. Right? It’s like, it’s it’s big, like, it’s a big fucking thing. Like, it’s the problem’s gonna start.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:52

    Right? And so for me, these people at my job shook me to that level. I mean, there are a whole bunch of little things that they were doing my life stress was. So, but it but it really evoked all of this childhood trauma that I couldn’t take it out on them because I would lose my job. I would give them to jail.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:12

    So I said, fuck it. I’m a just shoot myself. And so I bait up this elaborate plan to do it, but then something somebody reached out to me and then I told them what was going on. And then I got the help that I need. So I went to therapy for two years.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:24

    I was on medication for one of them. And I bring this all up to say that when I talk about foreign policy, I feel like my life experience from a personal standpoint I understand how bad life can be, and I and and just as I was that kid that could have shot my uncle, killed him, I could have been in prison come out with a re as a felon. Right? So a lot of people who are listening to this podcast are not gonna look at me and say, oh, Torell is the type of dude that could have shot his uncle. But when things get that bad when your life is that, that’s like, I am living proof that it can get that bad.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:59

    And that environment can create people, but I show you that once you create circumstances in environments where that doesn’t happen, and that’s why I talk about my uncle in therapy, I learned how to forgive my uncle. And that was one of the toughest steps that I had to take in my life. It was one of the most important decisions that I made, and because I was able to forgive my uncle, I was able to be free as a person and free as a thinker, and that forgiveness of my uncle help me to quite frankly understand the rest of the world because that’s why I Think, okay. Why is the world carved out the way that it is? This comes down to abuse.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:41

    It comes down to power. And why do people do the worst and heinous things? And as somebody who grew up in an environment, where I did the most heinous thing that you can do is kill a family, what, like, almost kill the family member I get it. And so it put a lot of empathy in my heart from a personal perspective why I can go to Ukraine and cover this war and call Putin a general civil terrorist. That’s why I can go to Palestine, because I I was in Palestine this year and have the same politics about being morally consistent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:16

    And I may not have been in the ways where our Palestinian child is, but I know what it’s like when you feel like you’re we are at rock bottom and you feel like the best way you could defend yourself is pick up a weapon and kill someone. I I get it. And so I feel like this type of perspective is needed to understand what’s going on in America, to understand what’s going on in the world, because this whole punitive approach, like, I I I know what it’s like to to wanna kill somebody. I’ve been there as a kid, as a child, as a child, you know, and so that’s why it it it just informs my way my politics in so many ways, man.
  • Speaker 1
    0:47:50

    And I I appreciate you sharing that story. Yeah. And I do wonder You know, when I think about it, look, I mean, you come out look at mental health journey, life’s a journey. We all deal with all the stuff. So I guess there’s no coming out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:01

    But In some sense, you’ve come out the other side. Right? In some sense, you’ve come out the other side. There’s no coming out permanently. But in some sense, you’ve come out the other side and, you know, you had therapy, and you dealt with you dealt with violence.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:12

    Like, you dealt with people coming after your family. You dealt with, I mean, there’s an element of a family feud to the Ukrainian thing not to stretch the metaphor, but, like, when you’re living over there, you’re dealing with people that have death now in their life that have that that have had experienced that, people that died too young in their family and you talked about that, you know, kids that died. And so I just wonder, have, like, has that journey? Have you been able to leverage that at all? It kind of like, building bonds and like relationship building with people and and and I don’t know, you know, I’m kind of curious about that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:42

    Absolutely. I am often the first black person that a lot of these folks have ever talked to in a meaningful way. I’m not this time I’m taking the photo. Hey, let’s take a selfie together, yay. No.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:52

    I’m just talking
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:52

    about selfies over there. It’s like, oh, wait. I wanna selfie with the black guy that I can put on Facebook. Is it that
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:57

    is So so yeah. So so it’s Convergent. So it’s Switch. Right? So, yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:00

    For different reasons, right? So before the war, I got them because people thought I was curious. And that coat that you saw me on, I don’t was it a red coat that you saw me on on this television show?
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:10

    I’ve had member. I I just I remember being like, that dude is standing out. That’s a lot. That’s all.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:16

    I I I got you at any rate. I had this red cooldown with a white for a couple
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:20

    of Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:20

    That was
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:21

    it. That was it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:22

    Okay. But okay. But a lot of the kids thought that was father frost. They thought it was Santa Claus.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:27

    Oh, okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:27

    And so you were right up to me and take photos. So you saw, I’m like, okay. I think it’s kinda cool that these little kids in Ukraine think that a black man could be centered. Great. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:36

    So advancing in a row. And so there were people who were so convinced that I was Santa that they actually took photo. They wanted to pay me. You know, things on that was actually working. Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:45

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:45

    And this was in the desk. I remember, you know, everywhere. Right. And so But before, it was curiosity, but now they recognize the work that I do and say, Hey, I know who you are. And so that happens in New York and other places around the United States where I go.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:59

    And so at least once a month, someone say, Hey, I or maybe twice say, Hey, I know who you are. Can I take a photo? So that app is so It’s with different reasons now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:06

    Anyway, I’m sorry. I I interrupted. You were saying though that a lot of times you’re the first black person they’ve had a meaningful conversation with.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:12

    When we talk to each other, They also asked me about race they say it’s real. Is it really are there still problems in the United States with race? And one story that I’ll tell you, that I’ll kind of crystallize everything is that I was in the mountains in Ukraine. Western Ukraine, the Carpathian mountains, and now with a guy, Volodymyr. One of my favorite places to go.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:33

    He has a cabin there day. He rents out and I go there and I stay at least once a month, at least a month. While I’m there. And we were hiking a mountain, and we were just to give you the scene, there were blueberry, patches surrounding us as we went up to the summit of this mountain. And then, you know, there are roma people around too that were doing seasonal work.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:56

    Just give you the whole scene. It was just a bright sunny day in the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine. A black guy in this Ukrainian dude walking just casually walking. Right? And then he looks at me, you know, he’s kinda looking around just searching in his mind trying to figure out how to communicate with me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:10

    Now mind you, we were speaking in Russian. And so my Russian is not completely fluent at all, but like I can communicate. And so he said, well, Terrell, I’ve been re and this was I forgot what year was. I think two thousand and twenty. And so he said, what’s real?
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:24

    I I was doing a lot of reading about Charlotte’s bill. Can you explain to me why is it that these people decided to commit this really terrible act of violence. Like, I’m just he said, I don’t understand it. And so I explained it to him. And he said, Oh, These people are terrorists.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:41

    I said, yes. Yes. He said, these people are terrorists. Yes. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:45

    He’s like, oh, they are like the people in Donietz in Luhance. These are people who are turning on their country. And I’m like, wow. And and you know, and this is a very empathetic person period. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:56

    And you know, and these people You know, they’re regional folks, they’re farmers. They do this type of thing. Right? But, for him, and, you know, and me to have that conversation with each other, where we were having it. Because we weren’t in the capital.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:09

    We are far away from any regional capital, by the way. You know, and for us to have that conversation of understanding to me was very important. And now, and and the only thing that’s unfortunate about it is that Ukrainians don’t have more conversations with people at that level because usually there’s some guy like Austin Lloyd coming in at some high level diplomacy. And, you know, he’s not gonna talk about that. And so I just common people, like, people like myself who really understand this country, and I think that was a really bonding moment because I appreciate what’s going on in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:44

    I understand their humanity, but he took time to understand mine. And now there are some times when the conversations go left. And now I see myself as a cultural diplomat whereby if something pisses me off, it makes me angry after hold back. And I and I’ve done a lot of that. Sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes I do lose my coop my patients.
  • Speaker 2
    0:53:08

    Because you’ll be surprised at the type of shit that people ask me and say to me, but on the most ninety percent of the time I maintain my cool when things go left, And one example of that would be this woman who I wrote a story about. I was telling her about racism in America, and she said I was overbro your making too much of a big deal of it. And I said, well, I’m kinda annoyed that this Ukrainian person would come over to my country and tell me that I’m overflowing racism that I experienced. Right? But what I had to explain to her was that I said, look, you went to school in New York and and Washington DC, which has two of the largest black populations as far as cities in the entire country.
  • Speaker 2
    0:53:48

    And you don’t have one black friend. The person that you had any significant conversation with Esmi Detroit at New York has two million black people. That’s the highest number of black people in any city in the country. Washington DC is about forty five fifty percent black. You don’t know one black person in any meaningful way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:08

    And I said, look, let’s just let’s let’s just call this person Olga Olga. When you came over to my country, you became a white woman. All just regional oppression. All that stuff is very real, but once you brought your blue eyed blonde ass to my country. You became a white woman and started doing care and shit.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:27

    I’ve told her that. Like, she and I think the one she was surprised by the the blunt nature of it, but she really pissed me off. And I felt like I was that was relatively diplomatic to how she was the, you know, the racist shit that she was saying. And then she looked at me and said, well, you know what? I guess you’re right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:47

    I’m like, yeah. I’m right. You know, now what’s really ironic about this, when I see this person, they say, Well, Terrell, I see that this person’s daughter, they say, well, Hey, this is Uncle Terrell. I’m like, okay, Lady, whatever. But, you know, like, but, I mean, it is a nice person.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:03

    I like it. But my point is that, as a black person who has any type of consciousness about who they are as a person, I have these conversations several times a month. Yeah. And sometimes they go left and sometimes they’re productive, but at least twice a month with the Ukrainian, with the Polish shirts, with whoever, I have these conversations. But that’s the life of what it’s like to be a black person who live in this part of the world.
  • Speaker 1
    0:55:24

    It’s definitely noticeable. I’ll tell you that. If you definitely draw an attention to it, Sometimes it might go live and I think that’s a good thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:32

    And now we’re gonna change for anything in the world. I love it. I’m gonna spend the rest of my life doing this. I love this country. I I love Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:40

    I I wanna be on the front lines of his liberation, whether that means just doing what I’m doing talking to you, Tim, and really getting getting people to understand what’s going on. But bringing some moral consistency to the conversation expertise and also the human element that makes me the communicator that I am. And I’m just really thankful that you brought me on the show to talk about this because I love Ukraine and I I love the country and I wanna do everything I can again and I feel like talking to you about this is a part of that work.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:07

    Oh, man. I appreciate that one’s Bulwark diplomats. We’re gonna elevate it. I’m nervous about what’s coming next year, but I’m happy you got people like you out there and all the folks and Ukraine on the front lines. I’m gonna get some advice for you on on kind of what links to put in here, but we’re gonna give people.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:21

    I know we got a lot of folks that wanna support the people Ukraine and the oppression that they’re dealing with, the invasion that they’re dealing with. I wanna appreciate. Thank you for taking the time to do this. We’ll be monitoring you. When you get back out there in February.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:35

    So godspeed you, my man. I appreciate it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:37

    No doubt. Alright. See you.
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