In the kitchen with Khalil Muhammad, D. Watkins, Janaya Khan

ABC News’ Sunny Hostin speaks with Harvard professor Khalil Muhammad, author D. Watkins and activist Janaya Khan about what it will take for Black people to truly gain equality.
5:55 | 04/07/21

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Transcript for In the kitchen with Khalil Muhammad, D. Watkins, Janaya Khan
So welcome to the kitchen. Thank you. Thank you for joining me. Of course. It's been great watching the show. Thank you. Thank you. We've had all these incredible conversations but this episode is about the reconstruction, right? Are we really in a reconstruction? Uh-oh. I hear breathing heavy over there. What is reconstruction without also the compromise, right? A lot of federal promises, a 40-acre-and-a-mule promise. And then what happened? The compromise was what happened when they said, "You know what? Black people are suffering, but they can wait." And then there was another racial reckoning that happened that, in the 1960s, all of this attention and all this energy was like, "Yes, we want to give black people justice and equality, but not yet." Please wait. We wait. We go slow. And here we are again. 250 bills have been -- Yes. -- Rolled out and introduced on rolling back voter rights protections. This is all to ensure that black people don't have a voice in this country and this is because of the monumental win. Are we the generation of people that are going to compromise again? Is this reconstruction? Or are we going to be asked, to compromise to wait? Reconstruction. You're rebuilding something that was torn down. And from the perspective of a lot of people, we never really had anything. So we're still, like, trying to catch up from how we came into this country. It's not like these people, these insurrectionists ran into our neighborhoods and ripped them apart. They're already ripped apart. But when we talking about us as a whole, we have a lot of work to do. And I'm -- it's hard for me to just imagine us building something that we just never really had. I mean, just to janaya's point and to d.'s point about whether we are in a future reconstruction or not, I mean, I have all the cynicism in the world. But the question of whether we will see the kinds of changes that people are on the ground fighting for will depend on whether or not people in power listen or take action. I mean, the sad truth is now that we are 150 years removed from literal slavery, our 13% of black bodies are still 13% of black bodies. We punch outside of our weight class, but the truth is we're still losing these conversations in these decision-making places of power and privilege. What is the identity of America without black people on their knees? That's really what we're being challenged to think about. Is it a moment? Is it a movement? Is this truly the third reconstruction? We'll see soon what this moment really is going to bring in terms of the future. We always figure out a way to get it. We always do we're going to get there. Let's chat about this, because we've been talking about this in the kitchen. When is the moment that you knew you were black? Well, I was headed to kindergarten. My mother was part of a first generation of black teachers who were desegregating Chicago. So she worked out a special deal with the new black principal of an all-white school on the north side of Chicago. "Can I bring my kindergarten son with me?" So he said yes. There's an uproar. A local firefighter decides to organize a community meeting to say that this black boy doesn't belong in this school, they went to the principal, said, "Correct your mistake." Wow. Next day, I was gone and that was the end of it. You know, I think of it kind of a little bit like coming out. I think people think it happens all at once in this really big way. But actually, you do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And so the first time that I really understood that I was black, actually, you know, because I grew up in a black neighborhood, so everybody was. But it was around my hair. I have a twin sister and her hair grows like this and my hair grows like this. So it was -- it was understood that somebody had good hair. My sister had good hair, and I had bad hair. I had black hair. And that was one of the first times that I came to understand myself as a specific kind of black person. One thing about America, they going to let you know you black. And see, now -- They're going to work hard at that. -- I'm sitting here obsessed with your hair. Yeah, right. Let me ask you, D., when was the moment when you knew you were black? Being from Baltimore, it's a predominantly black city. It's an extremely segregated. I've never had white peers. But one thing I do remember that just sticks out is martin O'Malley was the mayor and they was moving this festival to fells point. There's a little projects right next to fells point called I was going to play basketball with a friend. And this is what makes me upset. They didn't want the people from that projects to intermix with this -- these people at this little festival in fells point so they brought two cheese buses and parked them right on the side of the projects and they locked us all up and we sat for, like, two days, no charges, no paperwork, no nothing. Wow. Wow. I was about 17, 18 years old and I'm like, okay, this is like -- all right, there's different rules and you're about to graduate high school and you have to be ready for this. Because you could get locked up for hooping. Wow. This is how it works. That's incredible. That is incredible. Yeah. So thank you all for joining it's been a blessing. My pleasure. Thank you. Pleasure was all mine. Thank you. No, no, no food, but none required. I know. No food.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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