I have my own law practice, The Christian Law Office LLC, where I work with small businesses and help families with estate planning needs. I formerly worked as a Legal Analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.
What is an important thing that we Americans can do together that we can’t do alone?
Only one thing? Listen to each other. They’re doing it in Ohio, which has a big problem with infant mortality. We are 47th in the nation, and 50th in the nation for African Americans. Local public health offices focus on engagement and listening to communities to understand their problems and barriers to access to medical care and education. They then develop solutions that actually make a difference.
What about your country, state, or community makes you proud? How do you think government interacts with that?
I’m proud of the high standards we set for ourselves as a nation. When we look around and see things that we can improve, we hold each other accountable. Our government needs to be responsive to these calls to action.
What do you think it means to be a good citizen?
One of my favorite quotes is “True advances towards liberty and dignity can only be achieved through a sense of responsibility.” So for me being a good citizen is taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the community and doing what you can to make it better. Voting.
What one word describes our government as it is?
What one word do you wish described our government?Focused.
If you could run a government program or agency what would it be? What would you want to accomplish there?
If I could run any government program, I would be the Secretary of the newly formed, and currently fictional, Equal Access to Opportunity Department. I would do research to identify communities that have high opportunity and low opportunity and then determine the structural causes of each. From this research I would work to create a more equitable society by increasing access to critical opportunity structures. I believe this will address a lot of the societal ills that we see and lead to a more just and inclusive society.
What thing that government does do you think would surprise most Americans?
Americans would be surprised to learn that government cares. If there were a way for government to be more personal, if people were more engaged in local government, they’d see that their opinions do matter. Most people see only national politics through the media, where we see little meaningful dialogue and lots of substantial gridlock, and they think that’s true for government on every level. But on the local level, officials are more invested in individuals and their community. I wish people knew that government truly cared about their situations. It would give us all hope.
What is your first memory of an interaction with government?
My first memory of government was learning that my great uncle wrote the score for the national anthem of Dominica, my father’s country. My parents never told me – I found out in the encyclopedia! A single person can have a real impact on how government works.
What was your most recent government interaction?
I recently gave a presentation to public health workers in Toledo, Ohio on structural racism and how to engage in productive dialogue about race. Then I taught them how to structure persuasive arguments to move their policies forward and a little bit if the psychology behind it as to why it’s so difficult to break through and have these conversations about race in America.
What is your favorite thing that government does?
Small business loans. The state and local administrations will give you loans to help you start a small business. In addition to access to capital, they also provide access to advice and free classes.
Who is your government hero who is not an elected official?
My government heroes are the older African Americans in our communities. Growing up, there was a lot of apathy about government. Older African Americans constantly remind the community of when they couldn’t vote and what they sacrificed for us to have those opportunities. There was always someone in my life quick to correct me if I entered that apathetic mindset to stop me from forgetting what we have earned.
ImagineGov: If government could be anything, what would it be?
Government is the mirror of our society. So when we look into Government we see ourselves. So whenwe contemplate our aspirations for government, we’re really contemplating our own aspirations. What or who do we aspire to be? If we want our government to improve, we must be willing to improve ourselves.
Why is the work of Indivisible so important?
The work of Indivisible is important because humans are more responsive to negativity, but it’s important to have a voice out there that focuses people on the positive. Government is not perfect but let’s focus on what you want it to be and let’s figure out how we can work to get there. When we look forward and envision the government we want it causes us to take action. Indivisible causes us look to the future and see how we can work together to create the Government that we want.
Name someone whose answers to these questions you would like to see.
Aaron Magruder – the person who created the show Boondocks.
An Interview with Indivisible.