Michael Eric Dyson explains the problem with cancel culture

The professor and author of "Long Time Coming" reacts to President-elect Joe Biden's victory speech and the "pandemic of racism" in America.
9:49 | 12/01/20

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Transcript for Michael Eric Dyson explains the problem with cancel culture
Welcome back. The way you-know-who handled tragedies like George Floyd and breonna Taylor only deepened the country's racial divide, but the brilliant new book "Long time coming: Reckoning with race in America" takes an unflinching look at how it was here long before he showed up and how to finally get on the road to redemption. Please welcome one of our favorite people, "New York Times" best-selling author, professor at Vanderbilt university, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Good to see you. Good to be back. I feel like it's old home week here. The last time we saw you was February in studio. Since then you-know-who had many months left on his presidency. There's a global pandemic. Protests for civil rights broke out. Joe Biden and kamala Harris were elected. A lot has happened. Having watched all this, how are you feeling about where we are right now? That's a great way to set it up. Back in the '90s they were talking about the synergy of pandemics. We have the global virus. The good doctor told us about the latest protocols and etiquette to get us to safety. We had the recognition of a racial pandemic. We had covid-19 and then we had covid-1619. We've been grappling with this -- So we're going to get him back. It's amazing that it's true. We have been dealing with this idea of race and what to do about it, ase said, since 1619. That's a hell of a run. I wonder is there a way to get through this divide. I'll ask you guys as we try to get him back. I mean, is there way you think to get through this racial divide? I'll start with you, sunny. You know, I think professor Dyson's book is incredible. It gives us the history and the blueprint going forward and things that can be done to change. I think what's very interesting is, you know, you heard Joe Biden during his acceptance speech. He said -- he acknowledged the impact black Americans had on his election. He said you've always had my back and I'll have yours. When you have a president that is saying I see you, I recognize you, I recognize your contributions and I'll do whatever I can to have your back, I think that's an incredible start. We're seeing it from the tippy top of the government. I'm hopeful we'll be able to bridge the gap, especially when you look at President-Elect Biden's lift every voice plan for black America. It needs to start from the top. Right. You know, my observations in the world is that every country seems to have its problem of every country. It's about the other. Re the professor will explain this -- And he's back. When you have somebody in trump in office who gives air time to racists, they come out of the woodwork. That's all I have to say. Let's hear what he has to say. Are you back with us? I'm here. Can you hear me? Can you see me? We can see you. We can hear you. You-know-who was hating on me. Stop hating on me, bro. This is the global pandemic of the virus and the pandemic of racism. As you all brilliantly talked about it we have been grappling with this nation. Here we are now and George Floyd opened the minds of many people. As Ms. Goldberg suggested, we know from the very beginning people have not been missing the pandemic in slavery, in Jim crow, in white water fountains and horrible schools we were relegated to. We've been building up to this for a while. The pandemic had us watching our screens. When George Floyd's death occurred, when the knee of Derrick chopin was on George Floyd's neck, white brothers and sisters said we have to hit the street because this is enough. The president of the united States with his megalomania has been a megaphone for the worst instincts in the America and the vicious deannounce yagss of our humanity. Thank god we shifted from this president to a new president, President-Elect Biden and kamala Harris who understand people of color. We got to make it 'plur business you numb out of many one. I was saying, when we lost you, when you look at President-Elect Biden's victory speech, he acknowledged the significant impact black American voters had on his and vice president elect kamala Harris' historic when. He said you've always had my back and I'll have yours. How do you think he can best do that? We heard about his lift every voice plan for America. How does he make it better for black Americans? When have you heard a president say that? What president in American history has articulated his debt, what he owes to African-American people because we recognized we had his back. Not being Donald Trump is a huge start. Number two, try to forge connections between groups. We know he has a reputation for reaching across the aisle. That's good. He has to reach over to progress Progressive peopthe democratic party. We know that criminal justice reform is a necessity. We know dealing with the disproportionately impact is serious from this virus. Know that -- home ownership, when you address those issues along with police brutality, we have living in a nation where if you hold your hands up you get shot. If you put them down you get shot. If you agree with the police you get shot. It's not what we do. It's who we are that seems to exacerbate tensions between law enforcement and African-American communities. We have to address that. I know some people have been out raged by saying defund the police. In 1850s many Americans were against abolition of slavery. As a leftist, I'm not wed to any language. I don't want the mmercial. I want the product. Give us the relief of suffering. When somebody calls the authorities for a person who is mentally unstable, don't send the cops with their batons and send a productive therapist or somebody trained to relief the hurt and pain they might experience so they won't be killed. Defunding the police is another wa of saying let's reassign moneys to those elements and those departments in our public safety realm that attend to the hurts and pains of people most at risk. E do that, we can respect the fact we want law and order. We want when the cops show up they don't see us automatically as criminals and begin to hurt us and harm us in ways that many white brothers and sisters can scarcely imagine. Well said, sir. You said before that you're not a fan of cancel culture. Right. You point out in the book while it may feel satisfying in the moment, it simply offer illusion of justice. What's your case for the alternative, sir? First of all, when you cancel culture you cancel the person. You cancel the system. You put another person in place. To me it's better to have forgiveness, understanding, accountability, to hold people to account for the wrongs they I'm an old Baptist preacher for 41 years. I believe in divine justice and human forgiveness. What we must do is treat each other as human beings who are respectful of the hurt and pain we've imposed, but also bring ourselves to recognition that we have to have redemption. That's restorative justice, no retribution. You have to keep coming back. I love you all. Dr. Dysondyson's book "Long time coming" is available right now. You can hear the audio book. Get it on Amazon, wherever great books are sold.

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

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