Listening Versus Fixing, Racial Trauma With TJ McKnight

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TJ McKnight 0:00 The solution is to get to the root of this cause and fix the root of the issue. Because if you fix the root, everything else, just like with a tree, if you fix the root of a tree, and that tree is cut off, it will spring back up. It’ll be beautiful and full back and back. It should be Amy Watson 0:19 Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the listener supported Wednesdays with Watson podcast, it is June of 2022. I cannot believe it’s June. We are in a series on racial trauma specifically, though, as it pertains to trauma in the black and brown communities. This podcast if any of you know have listened to the 60 plus episodes, you know that we have a mission. That mission is to provide access to help. We’re doing that through education. We have interviews with doctors and therapists, I’ve written blogs on research. I’m a freelance writer for the C PTSD Foundation, and stories like you’re going to hear today. But most importantly, the mission here is introducing you to Jesus who we believe is the star of the story, and does all things well. Before we step into today’s interview, I want y’all to understand something. I don’t know what the guest was going to tell us. I realized that tackling a topic like this is difficult, dare I say risky, but I feel like it is part of the mission of this podcast to help listeners understand all trauma, and how that they can provide support. And some people listening to this podcast today will even have some me too moments. Today. I welcome TJ McKnight to the show. TJ is a fellow podcaster and friend. My favorite thing about him though, is he is jealous for the souls of Jesus. He will tell us about that ministry towards the end of the podcast. But I want you to welcome TJ McKnight to the podcast. Welcome, TJ. TJ McKnight 1:50 Thank you, Amy. I’m excited to be here. And I’m extremely humbled and honored to just be a part of your podcast. i When you asked me to do this a while back, I was like, Man, this is crazy. I’m hoping that I say something that is, you know, beneficial and edifying for the body. And it’s also enlightening and educational, as well. So well. Thank you again for this opportunity. Thank you so much. Amy Watson 2:17 Thank you for being here. Like I said, I know that it’s dicey. And as a white person, I am struggling with vernacular. And so to those of you listening out there, particularly those of you that will know when TJ is episode drops when people who do not look like me, and this is what I mean by by the vernacular, people who are not white when they listen to this, I want you to understand that I feel like this is a risk worth taking, because I believe that all trauma matters. And that is what this podcast is about. And so before we get into that, one, I sent the questions ahead, just because everybody knows me. And we’ll be here for three hours if I didn’t have some sort of structure. But in season three, the icebreaker question that I decided to use has been one of the most enriching questions that I’ve asked, and now almost four seasons of this podcast, because the the guests have told me when you sent me the questions, all the other ones were easy, but this first question was, Wow, that was hard for an icebreaker question. But it’s been super cathartic for me. So TJ, my listeners want to know, they know the first question is going to be what is your favorite thing about how God made you? TJ McKnight 3:29 Oh, man, my favorite thing about how God made me is just how you know how the Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I love the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And not only that, but I am made in the image of God. And even over talking about racial trauma, and race, we tackling this tough subject of race. I wholeheartedly believe that all of us regardless of our skin, pigmentations regardless of our background, so who we are, we are all created in the image of God. He says that he created them in his image, He created us in his image, and that’s what I wholeheartedly believe. I love that I love that He has created me to be the individual that I am, by you. You put it so eloquently when you was kind of talking about me or introducing me, you know, jealous after the souls of God and, and, you know, it’s so humbling to hear those things. But you know, I always consider myself as a nobody. But at the same time, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s who I am, it’s who I strive to be, you know, not trying to, you know, be anything other than who God has created me to be. And I love that I love God. wholeheartedly. Yes, you do have a deep passion for God. So Amy Watson 4:59 I would love Have to take credit for that jealous for the souls of Jesus, I stole that from a friend of mine who will probably listen to this, but you are jealous for the souls of Jesus. And I love. I love that answer. Because we mentioned a lot on this podcast, Genesis 126, which we got 26 verses into the Bible before God had to remind us who we were, and that he made us in His own image. And then we also mentioned quite frequently, Psalm 139, which you just referenced them fearfully and wonderfully made, that he knew us and animals parts before the foundations of the world. And so to say, to identify that as one of your favorite things about how God made you, is to really honor the Creator, right? It’s like, what’s my favorite thing about this plate? Well, my daughter made it for me. And so I love that answer. And by far, probably one of my favorite answers of the entire season. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, probably one of my favorite answers. Well, so we are in a series this this season three, where we are talking about trauma spaces, places and aces, we started the series out with aces, and talking about the Enneagram and trauma and how God made us and how we how we deal with trauma based on how God made us. And then we moved into the places and spaces, which was childhood trauma in the home. And then and so I began to educate my listeners about things that we call adverse childhood experiences. And just like in the name, there are experiences that we have as children that are adverse that affects us later in life. And I sent these to you earlier and asked if you are comfortable in answering answering these questions as we move towards our goal of talking about racial trauma. And so this doesn’t necessarily need to have happened in your home, even though we are focusing on childhood trauma in the home. Right now. We’re focusing on childhood trauma and these adverse childhood experiences. And I’m gonna tell you what that means after you’ve answered the questions. And so just a simple yes or no, and then we’ll talk a little bit more so from zero to 18. Did you experience physical abuse? No. Sexual abuse? No. Verbal abuse? You say outside of the home? Yes. Okay. And any of these outside the home, by the way, physical neglect? TJ McKnight 7:22 Um, I’ll say yes and no. Amy Watson 7:28 That’s a hard one. How about emotional neglect? TJ McKnight 7:30 Yeah, yeah, definitely emotional. Amy Watson 7:33 Okay. How about a family member with mental illness? Yes. How about a family member addicts? How about a family member addicted to substances? TJ McKnight 7:48 Yes, Amy Watson 7:49 a family member in prison? TJ McKnight 7:52 I’m not immediate, but yes, I did have a family. Amy Watson 7:56 How about domestic violence? TJ McKnight 8:00 Wow. Yes. Amy Watson 8:02 Okay. So, so adverse childhood experiences, were these 10 questions that experts a long time ago came up with that they identified particularly that domestic violence question that I asked you, particularly if it’s against your mother, it will adversely affect you later in life. Experts say that if you have three to four of these adverse childhood experiences that you as a child and until it is dealt with, are under what’s called toxic stress, and it will present itself and other ways in your body, and in your spirit and in your life and in relationally, and, and all of those things. And so, adverse childhood experiences are important in the concept of this conversation, because some of those adverse childhood experiences could or could not be racially racial trauma. But what I want my listeners to know is that I’m sitting across the screen from somebody who gets it right. There are some of those people out there, though I’ve not had an interview yet. With that with it with an adverse childhood experience score of fewer than three. Now, obviously, it’s a trauma podcast, so but I didn’t know this about you. I don’t know anything about you, except for how much I adore you and respect you as a fellow podcaster Ran brother and Christ. But I didn’t know this about you. And so you’ve got a relatively high adverse childhood experience score somewhere between five and six. And so the fact that you are breathing air is a miracle. Yeah, simple lesson Exactly. It but it does cause us problems. And I’m sure relationally or physically or sometime in your life, when when we hit end on the end of this podcast, you’re going to think, Oh, I remember this and how that affected this and this and this and decisions that we make sometimes are bad as a result of these adverse childhood experiences. Like I’ll give you a great example. I am a domestic violence survivor. I have an adverse childhood experience score of nine. I married somebody stayed in the domestic violence marriage for 12 years. So I just made bad decision after bad decision after bad decision because As of that toxic stress. And so I think it’s important in the concept of this conversation, because we’re going to be talking about little TJ, teenage TJ, and those things, and I want people to know who I’m talking to. So, obviously, I want, I do want to thank you again, I feel like I can’t say it enough for being here, because we are focusing on racial trauma. I recognize that my community can never understand or the experiences that your community experiences just on an everyday basis, especially as a male, who probably as a young age was taught how to put his hand on the steering wheel when a police officer Okay, no, that’s the one that all the white people know, you’re gonna tell us on that though all the white people don’t know. But that’s but I do recognize that my community, we could never experience some of the trauma that you’ve experienced, both in this generation and wage generations back all the way back to the to whether we’re talking African roots, Caribbean roots, or wherever, trauma among black and brown people, the entire continent of Asia, is prevalent, and has been and will continue to be until we continue to do things like this affects it. For my listeners, as I mentioned to you, I don’t know what TJ is going to tell me. But I’m wondering, can you give us an example of a trauma that your community experiences that mine never could? TJ McKnight 11:20 And so off the bat, I think the biggest for me, was and I’m I’m really I’m gonna talk about like maybe childhood, TJ into teenage TJ kind of piggybacking off of your police reference, you know, my mom would tell me all the time, you know, speak proper speak up, you know, sit up when you’re talking to an adult and, you know, have respect for your elders and people in authority. And so, you know, when I was a teenager, I was an idiot. used to race a lot. I didn’t have a car for fit for racing, put it that way. So I had a 95 because Michigan line, but I used to race the mess out of that car. But I would always get in trouble with like, you know, I would get pulled over all the time. And even when I had my good light to when I upgraded to, which is crazy. I upgraded to like a 2005 Nissan Altima was all white with black 10, like you cannot see through the 10 You know, he’s it’s it was a beautiful car, in my opinion, stick shift, I will race in that car as well. So, you know, getting to, to that. I remember I would always get pulled over by the by the cops, you know this always and I remember my mom as even as a kid as a child. She would tell me, she would actually demonstrated whenever she would get pulled over by a cop How was to act. You know, when whenever we were pulled over by a cop. And you can always kind of gauge the type of responses that you would get based on the race of that cop. I remember one incident where my mom when she was pulled over. Funny story. She was pulled over it was on our way to church. He was already running late. We had he’s had some fried chicken in the back because she was in charge of Reagan fried chicken. And she was blasted her God from us. And we were blasting, you know, gas was going down a road back country road, didn’t see the police officer just just ran past him. And she and he pulled up behind her. And we saw blue lights immediately. Fear came across all of us. He was just oh my gosh, what do we what do we do? I’m looking at my mom through the rearview mirror because I’m sitting in the backseat, my sister sit in the front and we’re looking at her and she’s like, alright, I’ll just be quiet. I have handled this. And you know, and we’re, you know, just kind of calmed down and actually rolled down the window. She, the officer walked up to the car, he was black. And he heard the song alone Mama was playing. Ironically, he was black. He was a Christian and he was listening to the exact same radio station and the exact same song. That’s great. You walk up and he gave her jokes and you know, hey, you’re listening to the song, you’re getting caught up in the Spirit and you know, you’re you’re driving fast, what’s going on? And when he came and he said that kind of, you know, decompress our level of stress, you know, it put us at ease, like okay, we can now you know, engage this man as a regular human being. And I remember when he went back to his car, and he came back and he was asking us where we were going. I’m gonna say we’re on our way to church. I’m already running late. And she said, You know, I have some fried chicken in the back. You want a piece? I want a piece. Right? So she’s bribing officer with fried chicken. That’s probably no he was. But he was like, No, ma’am, I will take it. But he led us off with a warning. And I remember that vividly because that was one of the moments where I wanted to talk with us. And she was saying how, you know how you want to present yourself as a, as a, as a young, black person in this context, and then my mom would tell me all the time, she’s got wrestler, so I love her so much. She would tell me all the time, you’re you’re black, you’re you already have two strikes against you, you’re black, and you’re male. And most people see you as a threat. They’re just waiting to give you that third strike so that they can count you out. So always live your life thinking that you had those two strikes, and that you’re always about to hit that third strike at any time. And that helped kind of shaped how I navigated and how I did things with people. So going back to my police reference, I remember what time I got pulled over. It was very scary. This particular instance, because we were just leaving the hospital. My mom was in the hospital at the time just leaving the hospital. I wasn’t racing. But you know, I pretty much I believe I had a reputation for race. But I wasn’t racing or anything like that. I easily. I mean, it was just I was going to come and down the road. But I saw a police officer Get behind me. But what I did was I he got close to my bumper, I’m thinking that he’s trying to get past so I turned my blinkers on and get into the next 20 He gets behind me and turn the blue lights on. I’m like, oh, gosh, what did I do. And so I pull it over, pulled into a school. And I’m approached by this female officer, she was really nice. He was really kind I was, you know, kind of talking myself out of the ticket with her. But her male counterpart who was a white male officer, he was very much more aggressive. And I believe he was maybe like her training officer or whatnot. Because I could tell that there were some, you know, tension back and forth between the two. And I remember this vividly my sister, she pulls up because she was behind me. But she was maybe like five minutes off. And she saw that I was pulled over. She comes in full blazing. My brother yelling out the window, we live in a hospital. You know, my mom is in the hospital. And everything she’s saying is like, you know, counting my story, you know, she’s confirming my story. And I just remember to the white male officer put his his hand on his gun, he’s yelling at her telling her go get away, go park over there. You know, we got this. And I just, I’m just sitting there kind of stone and like, and he’s yelling at her, she’s yelling at him. It’s kind of crazy. She she’s, she could tell she’s my oldest sister. She’s very protective. She’s a fierce protector. But she’s telling him like, he’s he you know, he’s a good kid. And you don’t have to go down like this. And, and I’m just, you know, kind of stuck in the middle. And I just remember, pretty much how that story ends is. The female officer just lets me go with a warning. And come to find out. I mean, I knew what the issue was with my tags, three months, he pulled me over which of it was my tags, I had just got a new car. But I had my old tags on the plate on the car. And I remember having that conversation with the dealer when I bought the car like, Hey, these are old tags, it was like, you’ll be fine. Just leave alone, bear until you get your new tags. And it just so happened. Ironically, my new tags did come in that day. But they were on the frigerator at the house. Good place for him. And that didn’t have right great place for but I didn’t have time to switch them out. Because you know, we had to immediately get to the hospitals, a lot of things going on. I was explaining that to them. She was you know, I said the female officer. She was very receptive. She was understanding. But the male officer was very aggressive. He wasn’t I don’t know if he was on something that day, but he wasn’t getting it. And as I explained it to them. And I told him about, hey, my sister can go to the house and grab the tags for you. If it’s that, you know, serious so that you guys can see that I’m not lying. They believe the story. They’re like, you know, you you’re good to go. But it’s those types of incidences that you know, that kind of, you know, always kind of left a bad taste in my mouth with regards to police officers and how they deal with things. Yes, I had one cop who was respectful it was doing her job and then had another cop who just was just blatantly doing his his own thing. And it always kind of left that. I will say, yeah, it always kind of left that negative impression on me, because I know that there are good cops out there. And this is I can speak for this as a whole. For all black people. We know that there are good cops out there. But we also know that there There’s a remnant of bad ones that are like tainting the entire police force is just like good analogy one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing. And when you have that, you’re you’re promoting a distrust between the communities in Durham, North Carolina is notorious for not having. We’re notorious for just like, always having in the news with shootings, and just, it’s, it’s a great city, but at the same time, it’s a dangerous city, the community relationship, or I would say the relationship between the community and police has not always been great. So justice just kind of experienced that as a teenager. And oftentimes, throughout, you know, it kind of always kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. But did you know, there was one instance and I can’t say that this is, you know, as all police are bad, because there was one incident when I was I would say this, not all white male police officers were bad, because there was one instance where I was pulled over by a white male police officer. And I explained to him like, Hey, I’m breastfeeding, and I ran this red light, because my mom is sick, I’m going home. And I’m just getting here from college. And he understood that and he let me go with a warning. And he was very respectful. He was saying, hey, next time, just make sure that you slow down, take your time, he was giving me advice. You know, I know that there’s good cops. But we also acknowledged the fact that there are bad cops so Amy Watson 21:27 well, and that we’re still having this conversation, right? So we’re still having this conversation. 2030 35 years later, let me tell you, I’ve been pulled over so many times in the state of Florida, that for speeding, that I can I have maxed out and I maxed this out about 15 years ago, I maxed out the amount of times that I could go to Driver Improvement school, but never once as a white. Yeah, I have a heavy, heavy foot, I got places in ptJ. I got places to be. But but as a white female I can’t comprehend. And so one of the questions I wanted to ask you, and it wasn’t in the prep, but it was just occurring to me, as you were talking to questions I’m gonna ask you to, I’m gonna ask them in two separate parts. The first question is, do you as an adult struggle with any sort of bitterness slash resentment, like I am my precious Son of the Most High King, we talked about fearfully and wonderfully made a made in the image of God. But yet, we’re still having conversations. And I’m going to ask you about your children in a second. But we’re still having to tell, and the police reference comes up, because it is the one that we’re seeing the most, we’ve seen it, we saw it for nine minutes with George Floyd, we, you know, and we could go on, and then on and on, say their names, say their names, say their names. And so I’m looking across the screen of a college educated Christian man who loves his family who loves the Lord. But yet, if you were to leave this interview, and get in your car and drive across town, you still have something in your head that I don’t like, I gotta be careful, because I’m a black male. And the assumption is they want to give me that third strike. Do you struggle at all with bitterness or resentment against God? for that? I guess it’s my first question, or against just life in general? Or do you just kind of let you know what, this is the way it is? And so I don’t even think about it. TJ McKnight 23:23 Um, I don’t I don’t resent God for this. I really don’t. I think that, you know, when you when you resent God for something that he created, you know, you’re putting yourself in a bad place, because you’re telling God that, you know, what you did wasn’t good enough. But we also have to understand that various sin in the world. And so everybody who is a Christian, you have to recognize that there are good people, there are bad people. And at the same time, sin is still running rampant in the world. There are Christians who are not Christians, there are people who are Christians who are great people, there are Christians who are still sending in our bad people. But the fact of the matter is, they’re still Christians. I’m not gonna sit here and be like, Hey, I’m hating all people because of how they treat me or I’m hating God because of how his people who are treating me no, that means that I’m exalting myself above a higher standard or thinking that I’m better than God, when this is what God created, you know, he created this, he created this earth to be a certain way, but because of the Fallen half of Adam and Eve and Genesis three, you know, here we are dealing with the ramifications of sin, dealing with everything that comes from it. So no, I don’t resent God for going through some of these things. I can see how some people could if their faith was kind of attached to it, but I know that my faith is set on a firm foundation, which is the word of God. It’s not I didn’t come to God off of some emotional appeal or some you know, crazy story now. Oh, my foundation was set. When I was a kid, I gotta say, when I was eight. And from the time I was eight to the time that I was, I would say, 23. Yeah, I lived it up. And I did my own thing. But my foundation was always there when I was eight. And I’ll never be angry with God, because of how other people react to certain things, or how other people treat me Do you Amy Watson 25:26 struggle with? When you see things like George Floyd, and I’ve not been able to investigate the school shootings in Texas enough today to know whether or not I would imagine that there was a huge Hispanic community. Do you struggle? So not necessarily with bitterness or resentment? But can you help listeners out there, especially male listeners understand how you navigate the day to day like, you know what this sucks, but this is the way it is I walk out of my house, I get in my car, I’m a target. How do you navigate that? And I’m going to part two of that question. As you said, you have three children and two of them are school age, either of them boys. TJ McKnight 26:05 I have two boys and one girl. Amy Watson 26:06 Okay, so you have two boys and one girl. So you’re so we’re reliving that throughout in the same conversation with your with your own kids. Does that make you feel some kind of way that you still have to do that? TJ McKnight 26:16 From a humanistic standpoint? Yes, that does make me feel some kind of way that I have to have these conversations with my children. But I would say from a, I hate to say religious standpoint, but from from that perspective, with God, I don’t resent God for that. I’m big on accountability, you know, holding people accountable for the things that they do. God is the chief accountable person, why we he holds us accountable to his standards, if we’re not living up to his standards, and that’s that, and so when you when you see all these different types of things going on, and even as a man, I always err on the side of God, you know, what we’ve got to think about these things, God, and even when I’m leaving the house, or I’m going out and about and I’m doing all these different things, or Amy Watson 27:02 sending your children. TJ McKnight 27:04 Yeah, yeah, there’s always that, that notion in the back of my mind as a black males, like, at any point, this can go sideways. And so I always try to make sure that I carry myself in a certain way. And this, this is another thing that maybe, you know, maybe some people don’t know, but you know, it’s like, we have to shed layers of who we truly are, to become another person in the public eye. Because we want to be perceived as, and I remember, yeah, all growing up. And just even I would say, up until maybe like, a couple of years ago, you know, I would always kind of present myself in a in a standing manner, so that I don’t perceive to be a threat to anyone. But as I got older, and I, and things in life kind of happened, you know, I’m at the police now. Whereas, like, I shouldn’t have to do that. If I’m just being myself. I should just be myself at all times. No, I’m not a threat to nobody. I don’t present myself as a threat. But it goes back to what mom was telling me all the time. You know, you have those two stripes, you’re black, you’re male. And then now let’s add this to it. I’m black, I’m male, and I’m six foot two 200 plus pounds, and I have muscles and stuff, it’s like you’re always going to be perceived as a threat. And so that’s one of the reasons why you know, in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking like, How can I approach certain things certain compensation certain things certain people because our you know, you see me as as as a threat, even with like my hair like it is and, and everything like that you may perceive me as I complete. I consider myself as the Eskimos Gentle Giant, I’m a nice person that anybody will probably probably ever meet. But at the same time, not everybody will perceive that. And everybody will see that when they see me because they may see me or they’re like, oh, that’s another black kid or, you know, another dog or whatever. No, like, college educated. I have two degrees. I have a master’s in information technology. Yeah, information, information systems and technology management. And being a religion. Amy Watson 29:19 Yeah. Well, you loved it. Yeah. Yeah. You love you love Jesus, and you love people. And, and so but but I do want to recognize something for you. And I want to recognize it for you and for your two sons. And for for my listeners out there is I recognize how exhausting that has to be. Right? Because Because I wake up and I’m Amy. You know, I’m not a danger to anybody. You’re not a danger to anybody. But but but people don’t look at me a certain way. They don’t make assumptions about me. With the exception of being a white male. Being a white female is the best. The best demographic to be In this country, and that makes me very sad. And it kind of leads me into something else I, I only would have asked from a friend. Because what we find and what we found is white people, particularly after the George Floyd thing, mainly because we were all locked in our houses, and we got on apps like clubhouse and started talking to each other white people. Even though I grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly black, most of my friends were black, I never got in a fight, because I knew if somebody was going to beat me up, I was going to have all of my black friends with me. And so I understand. I understand kind of the the community, but I don’t understand being any of these things like somebody’s looking at me going, you’re a danger, because you look different. I live in a county in Florida, where if we see a black person that’s like, you know, like, like a unicorn, it literally is like a unicorn, we’re still we’re still there, right? And so after the George Floyd thing happened, and after we were all locked in our houses and unclog houses and holding rooms, I began to the Amy Watson and me that started this podcast and Amy Watson, to me that writes and does the things that helps people with trauma, I want to fix it. And I very quickly in some clubhouse rooms realize that there was a better way to ask for that. And so I do not want to come across as like some white savior complex to you. I want to come across, and you’re looking at me on Zoom, and my listeners will hear the authenticity and my voice, I want to know, and I want to ask somebody who won’t get offended, and who will assume that I really want to make a difference. I want this microphone to be a megaphone for a message that a white person can can help. Right? How can white people help mitigate some of the damages of trauma and the black community? How do we, how do we earn the trust? And how do I learn without asking the victims if you will, to be my professor? I don’t know any other way TJ than to ask somebody? What can White people do? TJ McKnight 32:15 Well, the first thing is like what you said, don’t don’t come in and try to be a savior. Just listen, you know, don’t listen with the intent of trying to fix something. listen with the intent of just listening, you know, fully hearing what somebody is saying, clearly hear what we’re what we’re explaining. I know, for me, that is one of the biggest things for me is just listening with the intent to just listen, you know, if I tell you who I am, and I tell you about a situation I tell you about issue, you know, immediately and I’ve had the conversation before it with a white friend of mine, immediately, you know, thinking, well, this is how we have to fix this. And if any of them are going to handle this. No, just listen. You know, just listen. Because it’s so easy to try to think of solutions and think of things immediately. But sometimes the solution isn’t always present. Sometimes the solution is very hard to get to. Because if it’s been if it’s a systemic issue about racism, and it’s been going on generationally, yes, there are practices and things that you can do now, small things, small changes, as Matthew McConaughey has said earlier, small sacrifices that we can make the change the perspective or change the generational errors that we’ve done. Yeah, that can be done. But if I’m saying, this is one of the biggest issues that I’ve had, and I know I’m kind of going off, left a little bit here with the George Floyd situation, that height is everything. One of the things that that I was saying and I and I know a lot of people are saying is that that diversity needs to be seen needs to be filled. One of the biggest things that I’m I’m I work for them, I wouldn’t say a fortune 500 company but I work for one of the top five banks in the country. When we talk about diversity and inclusion. We don’t want to just be included with every type of thing that’s diverse, okay? We’re say diversity and inclusion or we want to be included in these things won’t be recognized as black people. Just as equal as white people. It doesn’t mean that you have to include us with okay, that’s Cujo with the homosexuals, let’s include Jolyn. With Asians, let’s include y’all with all of these minorities now. Because each and every one of those minority individuals want their own individualized respect. When you look on the board of directors for so many of these companies. I can eat it Target Facebook, and look at Facebook in and of itself, they say that they are a diverse company, but they don’t have a black person that like me sitting on their board, they may have an Asian or Indian or someone like that, and that, that makes them diverse, but they don’t have a black person like me sitting on their board, giving them a, you know, giving them advice or advising on these things for me, and I’m not saying that you have to be be in general, but you know, somebody that is well qualified to sit in that role. You know, it’s and that is not just singling out Facebook, but singling out a lot of these companies, because it’s, it’s like that across the board. There are companies that are making progress towards that. But one of the issues that I had with with a lot of companies is that they reacted in a way of wanting to fix instead of just listening, because the biggest error that I know the company does behind Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice and all that stuff. The biggest issue is we didn’t watch all the change all those different things. Like we just want it to be heard. That’s all nobody wanted. Nobody wanted to be taken off to the pancake box. Like we like to have demand. Right? If it was an issue with Aunt Jemima was whatever and she was a slave of it. Change her shirt change something like you know, make her look like somebody’s not like somebody know that each pancakes. Right? If that was the case, we do that you’ll make it later. But that’s not what we wanted. We didn’t want you to just do away with hmm, and now you have Pearl mining company. What is pro mining company? We don’t know. We don’t even know what it was like I don’t even Amy Watson 36:51 that’s literally the first time I’ve heard the Rename. TJ McKnight 36:54 Uh huh. Yeah. And it’s like, you see all of this and you’re like, that’s, that’s not the response that we wanted. That’s not the response that we were talking about. If you’re talking about police brutality, you talking about racial discrimination, you talking about racial inequity, you’re talking about all of these different race things, the solution is to is it to immediately fix these things like this? No, the issue, the solution is to get to the root of this cause and fix the root of the issue. Because if you fix the root, everything else from that is just like with a tree, if you fix the root of a tree, and that tree is cut off, it will spring back up, it’ll be beautiful and full back and like it should be. And so if we get to the root of what the issues are, if you have somebody that is sitting in a seat of judgment on a home mortgage, and they determine whether or not you apply approved for this mortgage or not, based on your credit score, or based on the factors of both of that, let that be the case, don’t let it be because I’m black, right? Don’t let it be because I’m this I’m that like No. If I if I’m, if I have the capital, and I had the credit, and I have all these different things based off of that, just like you would do your white counterpart in these situations. And so I know that it’s kind of like all over the place. But Amy Watson 38:17 it’s actually not all biggest thing. Yeah, no, it’s it’s not all over the place. And I you taught you taught me something because I’m a fixer. And I think the nine minute knee on George Floyd’s jugular vein did it to all of us, right. But we, as human beings immediately want to go into fix it mode. And I did that in some clubhouse rooms, like I, you know, I got on, you know, and really got educated, for lack of a better way to explain it, of how to interact with a group of people who, historically and you talk about the root, here’s the root of the problem. And here and anybody that listened to my podcast is not going to be surprised to hear this come on my mouth. The here’s the root of the problem. We, as a society, for hundreds of years, have not valued black and brown people for the image bearers that they are, we sometimes forget that and one of the original draft of the Constitution that a black person was considered, it was either two fists or three fifths of a human being. And so for you to say to me, we didn’t want angioma to go out we you know, and there’s lots of things that that happened to they took the at Disney, they took Splash Mountain out, I didn’t even know I didn’t that was so old that I didn’t even know that that had anything to do with racism. And so for you to tell me, we need you guys to stop fixing it thinking that that’s going to make you feel better. And that’s going to placate you for representing a group of people that has has ostracized us and not valued us for for hundreds and hundreds of years. If Amy was Soon as a white person can look at TJ McKnight as a black person, and know that you are the precious Son of the Most High God that you’re the Genesis 126, image bearer, then the best thing that we can do for somebody is give them our time. And we give them our time, when we listen. And so listeners out there we are, we all want to fix this. But we are not going to fix in even a decade or two decades, hundreds of years of racial trauma, I think that the gift of presence is so important. Having conversations like this is important, listening, trying to really feel in my body, what it must feel like to be pulled out of a car. And you didn’t say this happened to you. But it does happen to black males who get pulled out of the car with handcuffs on, I want to hear you and listen to what you’re not saying when you when you say I have two boys that you’re having to have the same conversations with. And so I think it comes down to a value issue. And it comes down to human beings needing to understand that we are all made in the image of God. And that, that the ultimate diversity and inclusivity happened when when God created man, He created us all in his own image. And so it comes down to a value issue. And so those of us that wants to help the answer to that question is those of us that want to help, guys, let’s just listen. Because I know that when when we are listened to we feel loved when we feel loved, we feel less insecure, when we feel less than secure, we can navigate through some of these unfair feelings. And so I had a podcast guest that came on that said, if you want to know why the fruit looks like it looks look at the fruit. So if we’ve got a bunch of African American males running around this country, creating crimes, black on black crime, all the things that are true, look at the roots. And we can fix the roots. By nourishing them by reminding them we need to value those roots, we need to love those roots, we need to hear those roots, we need to see those roots. And we need to just remember that these are human beings that we’re talking to. And so the gift, the gift of time, and the gift of listening is incredible. And so we have we have three seasons, we kind of as we kind of end here we have three season our podcast. And I would just love for you to tell us how they play a role in your life. And more particularly for listeners out there, how they can play a role in US navigating generational trauma. The first one is church. Now let me tell you something, I will pick a black church every day of the week over a white church because you’re way cooler than us. You take care of your own. I’ve learned things by listening from my black friends on clubhouse about how churches have had church mothers things that our churches don’t have. But tell us in your opinion, how the church kept you really on the straight and narrow, even though you’d like to race and all of that. But given that you are that you dealt with racial trauma, that you have an adverse childhood experience score that significantly high? How did the church play into and invest in your life so that what I’m looking across on the screen right now is an amazing human being with a wife and three kids. TJ McKnight 43:39 The church played a huge, significant role in my life. Because, you know, that’s where I can say that I found my identity, not just in Christ and who I am, you know, not only did I find my identity, but I found my community. I found that I was valued and I was worth something. You know, I found out that I was gifted, I had gifts, you know, I found that I could be somebody or you know, the smallest achievements in my life, you know, we’re celebrating, you know, it’s those type of things that made me who I am, you know, it shaped me. You know, when my mom was sick with cancer. I mean, it 98 the first time, you know, the church responded, you know, when we went through a lot, you know, financial issues or whatever, you know, the church responded. There are times in my life when I can, you know, point to how the church helped mold and shape me, you know, but we’ll be here all day. Amy Watson 44:48 Yeah, talking. Yeah. You brought in that other C community which is so important. And so for listeners, it really is the community, the church, I have these three C’s big as they are a huge part of my healing, right, and my trauma just looks different. It’s just it just looks different. But, but the church and community are two vital components, in my opinion to healing. I love that you said that the church gave you your identity, not only in Christ as first, as we see in first Peter two, nine, where the Bible says that we are chosen people are royal royal priesthood, and God has called us out of the darkness into this marvelous light. That verse doesn’t say, hey, all white people, you are a chosen royal priesthood. And by the way, you know, our faith was founded in the Middle East where nobody looked like either one of us. And so that’s just that that was free. The last C is the last C is counseling. And I want to do a little call to action here before I ask you this question, because this is a passion of mine. And as a reason that I am sitting here, proclaiming Christ in Christ alone because of church because of community, but because of counseling, and I was really fortunate to be able to afford to go to counseling, I realized that not everybody can afford to go to counseling particularly, and marginalized communities. And so the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast at the end of last year raised money, and the first X amount of money went towards the production of the podcast, because I’m not Joe Rogan, I don’t have advertisers, I’m not getting rich on this podcast. And you know, and so I had people that came in and completely funded the podcast for 2022 for production costs, and then all the money that is donated after that goes to scholarships for pro bono counseling. And I have already established two of those, one of them was in the name of Cheryl Rice, who was a really good friend of mine who took me to the psych ward when I attempted to take my life. And the second one to Simone Lashay, who is of a sound mind, she is a black female living with bipolar disorder. And so counseling is a big deal to me. And this podcast, the reason why I do it, besides the fact that I like to hear myself talk is to raise money for pro bono counseling. And so that is a call to action guys, if you’re interested in that mission, and to help us fund pro bono counseling. And the show notes. If you hit contact Amy, there are two ways you can do that. One is called buy me a cup of coffee, which is lame, but it’s it gives you the opportunity to do a one time gift. And then the second is Patreon, which are for those of you who are interested in maybe a monthly support, I’ve got a $5 option there. All of that money goes to Joel 225 Ministries, which is my newly soon to be newly formed 501 C three that will fund pro bono counseling. Now I stuck that call to action in the middle of the questions so that people would listen to it. Talk to me about counseling, has counseling been part of your story, as we talk about some of these things? You’ve mentioned your mom BNL several times, that’s that’s a big deal, particularly when she was so instrumental and who you are today, has counseling been part of your story, whether it’s racial trauma or not, has counseling been part of your story? TJ McKnight 47:59 Yes. It’s funny, because, you know, I’ve been eager to get back to California because I was like, I need to talk to somebody about a lot of the stuff that but I remember vividly back from when 911 happened, you know, I dealt with a serious bout of depression. And I was 11 years old. So my birthday is September 8. And 911 occurred three days later. And so being in I had just turned to live and so you know, seeing that really unfold and just seeing people jumping out of the windows of the the Twin Towers you know as 11 year old kid, you know, in my mind and growing up in church, you know, you hear all the time you know, about heaven and hell and death and stuff. So, you know, all of that was weighing heavy on my mind. And I just remember talking to my mom was like, and she was she was constantly prayed over me and I know I probably drove her crazy during that time because I’ve tried I would drive myself crazy. Because I was just it was certain songs I couldn’t listen to is this one song called be encouraged. I believe it’s about William Becton. And in the end of the song, he was saying, even to the end of the world, you know, basically saying he got guys that Jesus said he will be with me up to the end of the world. You know, they used to scare me because I’m like, I don’t want to think about the end of the world. You know, I didn’t want to go home and play with my toys. Amy Watson 49:27 Yeah, exactly. TJ McKnight 49:29 I want my mom and my bed. Like, you know, as a kid, you know, that kind of you know, it traumatizes you. But, you know, when I was when I was in school, one of the counselors noticed that, you know, my behavior was a little bit different. My mom was telling her what was going on, and she pulled me aside. So Brandon was listening and was wondering why I was missing some days. In middle school, definitely. That’s why she pulled me aside and, you know, we sat down, we talked about what was going on, and she helped me I navigate through some of those feelings that I was going through and navigate through what I was dealing with. And she worked with me for about a month. And it was a good month and some change, I believe. And I remember, you know, my school, shout out to catch your eyes, and this children who was there, and it was helping me, but, you know, my school was very big on making sure that everybody was seen and taken care of. And my school was a very small charter schools. So you know, everybody knew everybody. And so, you know, for them to really take that notice. And, and, and offer me those counseling sessions with a guidance counselor, not with a counselor within our school, it was helpful, because it helped me to overcome, you know, what I was thinking, you know, overcome my fears. And, you know, when I came out of that depression, I stood up in church and gave a testimony to say how the Lord, you know, delivered me from it, you know, is, is very serious, you know, it’s very, there’s something that I feel is not utilized. And then I say that because, you know, I want Kalfas counseling for something, and I haven’t done it. But I know that, you know, a lot of a lot of the issues, a lot of the problems in life, or a lot of the, I would say the big incidences that took place, even recently, you know, with the school shooting, a lot of that probably could have been avoided. Those individuals sought real counseling, and good counseling. And I remember talking to a friend of mine, he was telling me about how he had bad counseling, and how that almost drove him over the edge. And I just think about, you know, it’s important to get good, holistic counseling, I know this is Christian based, I will even put the plug in good Christian counseling, if you’re a Christian, or you feel that, you know, maybe you like somebody that’s out that’s not Christian, you know, it’s not Christian, you know, this get good counseling. Because it’s very needed in this day and age. Mental health is so, so serious, and I hate that the church kind of downplays it so much. It hurts my heart. But it’s something that is very real. And it’s very prevalent in this day and age, it seems that so many people are dealing with mental health issues, this day and age that they’re scared to say anything about it, because of the fear of being looked at as crazy or something like that. But you know, it’s not crazy. If you’re getting help, right. And it was not crazy if this saving your life, Amy Watson 52:56 and it does save lives, right. And so for those of you listening, particularly for those of you listening for the racial trauma portion of it, it’s important to to attack that early. So if your children saw the George Floyd thing, or their you cannot turn on the news and not hear it, counseling is biblical. It you know, the Bible says in the multitude of counselors, there is great wisdom. And and so, so, go get counseling. I do, though, understand in the context of a conversation of racial trauma. Again, this was an assumption I made in a clubhouse room that got me in a lot of trouble. So I don’t want to make the assumption. But I do know that across the board, but because we’re talking about racial trauma, that resources aren’t often there for counsel for people to get counseling. And so I was telling somebody in a podcast interview today, I turned 50 in December, and on my 50th birthday, I told the Lord, I want to raise $1 million for pro bono counseling. And that might seem crazy, but you better believe I’m going to do it because that’s how important I believe counseling is. Well, TJ, you have been remarkable here today. I think the big takeaway for me as I hear you talk about basically living as a black man and then obviously raising two black sons is that the best thing that people who are not Black can do is listen and not just jump into action and take Andrew mime off the bottle and we did a bunch of you know a bunch of other things which I don’t really have an opinion on because I’m white, but but I don’t think that many black people across the country feel more valuable because we took her off the bottle or because we took the the zippity doo da song ala Disney or because, you know, Lady Antebellum changed the lady a I don’t think any black people felt better with those actions. However, I do think that when when we are able to do what you said and just listen and not want to defend and not want to cry front of you. Because that yes, I’m sad. But but but the pain is yours. And to be able to sit in that and practice, that gift of presence, I think is the best advice that I’ve gotten on this series so far. So I want to thank you for that. Well, as we close, as I mentioned, you are a fellow podcaster, I would love for you to take two to three minutes here and tell people about your podcast about your mission and where they can find you. TJ McKnight 55:27 Yeah, so my podcast is called one faith, you can find it on social media. Everywhere at we are one base, you can find us on all of your podcast, streaming platforms, same thing, we are one faith, you know, and the podcast is solely about creating or promoting unity in the body of Christ. Growing up, I grew up black church all my life. And so I had an experience where I went to a multicultural church. And that really kind of changed the game for me. And I just knew, like, you know, hey, you know, all God’s people need to be worshiping together. And that’s really where the birth of one faith kind of came from. Because one thing I recognize is that we are all, you know, unique in our own ways, you know, whether you’re black, white, you know, whatever your, you know, ethnicity is, you know, it is God’s intent in design for all of his people to be together. Because when we get to heaven, you know, there’s not just gonna be a black heaven, that would be a white heaven. It’s not going to be an Asian, Hispanic, Amy Watson 56:32 it’s just going to be heaven. It’s gonna be an image bearer heaven. Right? Exactly. Yeah. It’s gonna be an image. We’re TJ McKnight 56:38 a joint presence of God. And so that’s what one faith is all about. You know, I’m not just talking about that. Amy Watson 56:45 Oh, right, right. No, but I did it. Listen, guys, his podcast is amazing. I will put it in the show notes. Get ready to put your thinking cap on, though, because this is a podcast that is well thought out. And it is Biblically sound. And I think that, you know, by how amazing TJ has been on this interview, that he is also an amazing podcast host. But the thing I love about him the most, just by listening to just a few of your podcasts is that jealousy that you have for the for the souls of Jesus. And so my final question to you, and is so captain obvious, but I call Jesus the star of my story. TJ McKnight. Is Jesus, the star of your story? trauma? And TJ McKnight 57:28 if I said no, you know, no, there’ll be perceived as a joke. But yes, you know, he is the star of my story. And, you know, he is the center of everything that I do. You know, with the podcast with the now we’re transitioning to a young adult ministry, and with everything that we’re doing, you know, my intention is to please God and everything that I do, whether that’s being a husband, being a father, being a brother, being a son, being a friend, whatever, you know, all of those titles mean nothing if, you know if I’m not representing God in those titles. And so that’s yes, he’s the star of my short story. He is the star of my life, he is the star of everything that I do. And I love God with my whole heart. And I just pray that you know, anyone who is listening, that, you know, hey, if you want to know more about Jesus, if you want to know about know more about God in any in any way, you know, feel free to contact me, you know, you can reach out to me via email at admin at We are one If you want to connect with what we’re doing, you know, hey, just go follow us or connect with us on Instagram, that we are one faith. Because, you know, I my hope, and my prayer is that I can help you make Jesus the star of your show. Amy Watson 58:51 Amen. Amen. Oh, I love that. And I’ll do you one better. I always say to listeners, when especially when I have a guest like you, we would love to introduce you to the star of the story. So one of the very first things that you will see in the show notes is contact me contact TJ. And you can do that through DMS, you can send a bird you can send a plane but I can promise you that we would love to introduce you to the star of the story. Well, TJ, one of the things I want to say to you I never leave a microphone, but today it feels especially more powerful to say these words over you because of what you’ve said to us today. And how people who are not marginalized who have not experienced racial trauma can be part of the solution by just listening and here’s why we need to listen to you and TJ I speak this over you and I speak this over my listeners. Everyone knows I don’t leave with microphone without saying it but right now, I am saying it to you to your wife to your children and your children’s children that you are seen. You are known. You are heard you are loved and most of all, you are valued. And we will keep listening. We will keep listening. Thank you for being here today. TJ. TJ McKnight 1:00:12 Thank you. Thank you. I love it. I love it. That’s amazing. Amy Watson 1:00:18 Well, guys, thank you so much for listening to that incredible conversation that I had with my friend TJ McKnight. I do hope that you glean something from it. I know that I certainly did. As we as Christians navigate a world that is often so not kind to everybody, but particularly in marginalized communities. I think that TJ gave us one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard, and they just want us to listen and when we listen, we tell them that they are valuable because they are because they too are made in the image of guys. We’ll be back here next week with another episode on racial trauma as we are continuing through the month of June. We hope that you will join us until then you know what I’m going to say just like I just said to TJ you are seen you are known you’re heard you are loved. And you are so so valued. See you guys next week.

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