Daryl Davis (@realdaryldavis) is a musician, author, lecturer, host of the Changing Minds podcast, and anti-racism activist featured in the documentary Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America. [This is part one of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part two here!]
What We Discuss with Daryl Davis:
- How Daryl Davis, a black musician who was once told by a Ku Klux Klansman that he played piano “just like Jerry Lee Lewis,” leveraged the encounter into a teachable moment that has led to more than 200 KKK members hanging up their robes for good.
- Why racism was such an unfathomable concept when Daryl first experienced it as a 10-year-old Cub Scout.
- How traveling around the world as a child with his diplomat father gave Daryl the tools he needed to sit down and relate to people vastly different from him.
- Why Daryl considers a missed opportunity for dialogue to be a missed opportunity for conflict resolution.
- The five values all humans have in common that Daryl uses to positively navigate (almost) any conversation.
- And much more…
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When he was just a 10-year-old Cub Scout marching in a suburban Boston parade, Daryl Davis thought he was being pelted with bottles and rocks by a select assortment of knuckle-dragging locals because they had something against Cub Scouts — not a problem with him being black. He had spent a childhood traveling around the world with his diplomat father and was used to interacting with every variety of person under the sun, so when his parents briefed him about the ugly reality of racism, he didn’t believe them. It prompted him to ask a question he’s been trying to answer ever since: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”
On this two-part episode, we catch up with Daryl to discover what he’s learned since first asking this question, and how a chance encounter with a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan while playing piano in an all-white club led to an ongoing dialogue that has influenced more than 200 Klansmen to hang up their robes for good. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part one of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part two here!]
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Miss our conversation with comedian, actor, and director Bob Saget? Catch up with episode 372: Bob Saget | How Comedy Continually Changes His Life here!
Thanks, Daryl Davis!
If you enjoyed this session with Daryl Davis, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America | Prime Video
- Changing Minds Podcast
- Daryl Davis | Website
- Daryl Davis | Instagram
- Daryl Davis | Twitter
- Daryl Davis | Facebook
- Daryl Davis: Why I, as a Black Man, Attend KKK Rallies | TEDx Naperville
- Daryl Davis: Turn the World Outward | The Arbinger Institute
- Daryl Davis: Can You Change the Mind of a Racist? | Deseret News
- Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism and Violence | Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
- United States Foreign Service | Wikipedia
- J. Edgar Hoover | The First Amendment Encyclopedia
- The Complicated Legacy of Harry Anslinger | Case
- King Assassination Riots | Wikipedia
- Urban Cowboy | Prime Video
- The Silver Dollar Lounge | NPR
- Jerry Lee Lewis: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On | Steve Allen Show, 1957
- The Audacity of Talking About Race with the Ku Klux Klan | The Atlantic
- Charlottesville Car Attack | Wikipedia
Daryl Davis | A Black Man’s Odyssey in the KKK Part One (Episode 539)
Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Starbucks for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:08] Daryl Davis: If you find yourself in a culture or society with which you're unfamiliar and you apply those five values to those people, I can guarantee you the navigation will be much more smooth and much more positive. So essentially, I just viewed white supremacists as another culture, and I applied those values and that's what allowed me entrance into that world.
[00:00:37] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We've got in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, even the occasional mafia enforcer, neuroscientist, or undercover agent. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:03] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about the show, we've got episode starter packs. The starter packs are collections of top episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started. And of course, I always appreciate it when you share the show.
[00:01:23] And one of the ideas behind the show is not just waiting to see what our society becomes, but actually shape our society. And today's guest is doing just that in a way that's pretty damn unique. Daryl Davis is a jazz musician whose hobby is making friends with Ku Klux Klan members. And it's a bit of a strange pastime, even more strange because Daryl is black. You don't have to know much about the KKK to know that typically being friends with people of color, not really towards the top of their list. Daryl is an incredible guy. He played piano — for Chuck Berry, the inventor of rock and roll by the way — for over 30 years. He's been in that scene for quite a long time, made his mark there. And in his closet next to sheets of music and probably some sparkly sequined shirts or pants, he's got Klansman robes given to Daryl after his friendship with those Klansmen, inspired those men to leave the Klan. To date, Daryl is at least partially responsible for over 200 members turning in their hoods and we're going to hear how this all came to be. Now, how many people of color do you think have a certificate of friendship from the Ku Klux Klan? I'm guessing just one and he's here with me today. This is a phenomenal conversation that I really enjoyed. Daryl is one charming dude, as you'll soon see.
[00:02:33] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all these great folks, these people are in my network. I've reached out. I get to know them. I know you probably don't have a podcast of your own, but if you want to learn these same networking skills for business or personal reasons, I'm giving them away for free. Jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. The same system, software, and tiny habits that I used. And by the way, most of the guests on our show, they subscribe to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong. Now, here's Daryl Davis.
[00:03:02] I looked at the documentary and I watched all those videos that you sent me. And I just have to say it is — I've been wanting to do this for a long time. In the meantime, you've really like blown up big time. And I'd love to see that. I mean, it makes sense because who doesn't want to meet the man, who's so goddamn charming that people leave the Ku Klux Klan to become friends with him. Although technically they become friends with you before they leave the Klan, which is kind of — that's probably even the most interesting part, right? It's not that they come out and go, "Oh, I'm going to meet somebody who's open-minded to my past." I mean, you're the catalyst for them leaving.
[00:03:35] Daryl Davis: Well, you know, I'm the impetus. I give them different ideas that they can work out themselves. I don't want to tell anybody, "Hey, you know, you need to get out of this. This is wrong, blah, blah, blah. Give me your robe." Oftentimes in the media, they'll say, "A black musician converts X number of KKK or white supremacists." No, I didn't convert anybody. I am impetus for over 200 to make up their own minds, to convert themselves because I've given them reason to think about other things that make more sense than what they're currently doing.
[00:04:05] Jordan Harbinger: So over 200 have renounced their membership in part because of you. So does that count the chapters of the KKK that have sort of fallen apart and disintegrated because you've befriended their leadership?
[00:04:16] Daryl Davis: Exactly.
[00:04:17] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, because some people don't — I've heard some critics say, "Oh, well, you know, one person at a time that doesn't do anything," but that's not really how it works. I mean, if you're becoming friends with a Grand Dragon or an Imperial Wizard or these other higher ranks, there's dozens of people below them that go, "If that guy that I looked up to for the last 15 years, if he's saying this is kind of horsesh*t and he's friends with Daryl Davis, what am I doing right now?"
[00:04:41]Daryl Davis: Exactly. You know, Simon says.
[00:04:43] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:04:44] Daryl Davis: But also, I mean, some of the leaders when they leave, they dissolve the group. Others, they leave and the second in command takes over or whatever. They may retain some of the membership, but I do believe in one at a time. Because even with one at a time, this guy joined because his buddy joined, his buddy talked him into it and now his buddy's left so I might as well leave. That happens also. It becomes like a snowball effect. While there've been quite a number of them as individuals, there's also been that attrition, you know, a mass or more than one because the leader left or some friend left and then, you know, dad gets out, then his kids get out.
[00:05:26] Jordan Harbinger: Right. There's been a couple of interesting stories there that I've researched and we'll get to those in a second. We should probably back up a little bit because the movie, the documentary, Accidental Courtesy, and we'll link to that in the show notes. It's a great watch. It starts off with a story of you lending a guy your bus so that him and his friends can drive down to a Klan rally. So like just to paint the picture for everyone, you, an African-American man, lent your bus to a group of KKK members, so they could get to a Klan rally. And just maybe explain your thought process here.
[00:06:03] Daryl Davis: Listen, I don't support the KKK at all. I don't support that ideology, but I support people having the right to believe as they want to believe, as long as they don't cross the line and hurt people. And to show, to prove that I will stick up for somebody else's rights, has also led to people just like that, sticking up for mine. So to give you a little backward, that Klan group was based in a city called Frederick, Maryland, and which is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Washington, DC. So they would usually go to some bus rental company up there and rent a bus to go out of town. So that way they all could ride together for one of their out of town rallies or something in some other city.
[00:06:47] What had happened was the leader called me and he said, "Hey, do you know of any bus companies down your way in your county that rent buses?" I said, "No, I have my own bus. What's going on?" because I have a bus for me, for my band. He explained that the company that he would normally rent from refused to rent from him now, because every time they got the bus back, there were dents in it from people throwing rocks and breaking the glasses because everybody knew there was the Klan in that bus. So for insurance purposes, they didn't want to rent it anymore to him. And so he's going to try to go to another county where maybe his name might be a little lesser known or something, so he's asking me.
[00:07:28] I said, "Well, where's your rally?" And he told me, and then I said, "What day?" He told me, I looked at my calendar and I wasn't doing anything that day and I figured, okay, well, I'll go watch the rally. I said, "Listen, why don't you just take my bus?" And he started laughing because he thought I was joking with him. And I said, "No, I'm serious." He goes, "You're going to lend me your bus to take my Klan to a rally." I said, "Yeah, because I never heard of such." I said, "I'm not joking." He said, "Well, what do I owe you? I'll rent it from you." I said, "No, you don't owe me anything. Just, you know, bring it back with the gas. That's all." He said, "Okay." So then, he and one of his guys came down and got the bus.
[00:08:12] There were a lot of funny things surrounding that, because this was an unpublicized rally. They would just want to show up and walk down a main street in their robes and hoods, and so forth. So nobody knew they were coming except the police, because you have to have a permit to do any kind of like little parade thing.
[00:08:30] That makes sense, yeah.
[00:08:31] My secretary who was white at the time — I only mentioned that, not that it matters to me — and my girlfriend at the time, we had gone down to the spot where they were going to come. Well, the police were all on every corner, up and down the parade route. So we show up, I'm standing around, my girlfriend and my secretary walked away because they both smoked or something. And so they walked away because I don't smoke. They went over there. And so I'm standing there on the corner and a couple of cops behind me and they're like talking to each other, keep looking back at me and I know what was happening. They were hoping that I would cross the street and go on about my business, wherever I was going before the Klan shows up.
[00:09:10] Jordan Harbinger: And hope this guy doesn't see the KKK walking down the road. That would be awkward, right?
[00:09:14] Daryl Davis: Exactly. Exactly. And here I am just standing there, light's changing, I'm still standing there, so one of them walks over to me and says, "How you doing, sir?" And I said, "I'm doing fine. How are you?" And he says, "Are you waiting across the street?" I said, "No." And he says, "What are you waiting for?" I said, "The same thing you are."
[00:09:35] Jordan Harbinger: "Oh, I'm here for the Klan rally. What do you mean?"
[00:09:37] Daryl Davis: Yeah.
[00:09:38] Jordan Harbinger: "I'm the driver."
[00:09:39] Daryl Davis: And he says, "And what would that be?" I said, "Don't you know what you're waiting for?" And he said, "Well, I'm trying to find out why you're here."
[00:09:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "I'm trying to be vague deliberately, Daryl. Come on."
[00:09:52] Daryl Davis: So he wasn't getting anything from me. And I said, "I'm waiting for the Klan." And he looked at me like I was crazy. "How does this guy know?" So then he walked over to my girlfriend and my secretary and he says, "Ladies, how are you, all? What are you waiting for?" And they said, "The Klan." And he said to them, "How did you find out about that?" and they pointed it at me. He didn't know what to do. He just walked on back to his partner because he wasn't getting anything out of me. And then this lady, she was a sergeant at the time. She knew who I was. She shows up and they all, you know, "Hey, Sgt., blah, blah, blah."
[00:10:29] Jordan Harbinger: So another officer who knew who you were showed up to join the other two cops.
[00:10:33] Daryl Davis: Yeah. She's checking all the points to make sure everybody's in place. And then cars are going by, vans were going by. They're like looking to see if it's the Klan. I knew it wasn't. I know what my bus looks like, right? So here comes my bus and they're all these guys in it, and the guy who I lended to, the leader, he's driving. I waved. He toots his horn and waves back and goes by. I said, "That's the Klan," to the cops. And then they looked at me, "Why are they blowing the horn and waving at you?" And then they look at her, you know, their sergeant. And she says, "If he says, that's the Klan, that's the Klan." And they all get on the radio and they radio each other. "Okay. They're here, blah, blah, blah." And what they did was they went down to the end of the parade route, looked around, and came back up. They're just checking out the route first, before they get out and marching. So they come back to the parking lot, right across where we're standing, because that's the beginning of the route. And then they all get out of the bus or they all put on their stuff and then get out of the bus and they proceed to do the march. You know, it was pretty, pretty interesting thing.
[00:11:38] But after the rally was over, about 15 of them, they brought the bus back and they came with the car and they came to my house. I invited them back to my house. So they're all sitting back here in my living room. I bought beer for them. I knew what they liked. I bought all this beer. I don't drink but I bought them beer. All, but two of them, would drink and talk. These two were like, very quiet. They were like this, you know, you could tell, they were like out of their place.
[00:12:04] Jordan Harbinger: Uncomfortable.
[00:12:05] Daryl Davis: Very, very uncomfortable. And they did not understand why everybody else was so comfortable with me and why their leader allowed this. They couldn't get their head around that. They didn't say anything to me other than, "Do you want a beer?" "No, I'm good." You know, that kind of thing, I might poison them or something. So anyway, they eventually quit the Klan shortly thereafter. And mysteriously, the leader began receiving hate mail.
[00:12:30] Jordan Harbinger: Sure, mysteriously, yeah.
[00:12:31] Daryl Davis: Yeah. The same kind of hate mail he used to send out to other people. He was now on the receiving end, probably from those two members and some others who did not approve of him with me.
[00:12:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:42] Daryl Davis: And so he and I have grown a lot closer and each Klan group has a little newsletter that they distribute to their members. They're just, you know, local activities, that was going on with the group, who got promoted, blah, blah, blah. So anyway, he had put one of his guys from his Tennessee chapter, one of the guys down there had found a bus, an old school bus that was for sale. And he told the leader. So the leader looked at some pictures, or whatever, and decided they're going to buy it. So they bought the bus and drove it back up in Tennessee to Maryland. In the newsletter, he wanted some of the members to contribute names that they could put in the marquee of the bus that identified who they were, but coded so only like-minded folks would know that's the Klan. Not you and I.
[00:13:28] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. I was going to say that seems a little antithetical to wearing a hood, to put your name up on a marquee, but whatever.
[00:13:34] Daryl Davis: Exactly. So he calls me and says, tell me what he's doing, and he asked me if I had any suggestions to name the bus. So I'm telling you the relationships are funny. So anyway, I said, "Well, let me think on it." He had all kinds of different names. He didn't like it and so forth. And I said, "Well, you know what? Let's see the Klan considers themself to be a fraternity."
[00:13:56] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:13:57] Daryl Davis: Right. Even though they have women in there, but also the name Ku Klux Klan is a combination of a Greek word and an Irish word. I was Scottish word, kuklos. K-U-K-L-O-S is the Greek word for circle. And clan, C-L-A-N is the Irish word for a close family or close friends. Like you would be the Harbinger clan. I'd be the Davis clan over in Scotland or Ireland, right? So what they did was, and the original Klan members who founded the organization, they were of Irish-Scottish descent. So they took the Greek word, kuklos. They couldn't spell. They spelled it K-U-K-L-U-X instead of the S and then they took the C out of the clan and change it to a K for uniformity, KKK. So it means circle of close friends or circle of family, family circle. So given that they consider themselves to be a fraternity, and of course, you know, Greeks were very big in the fraternity and fraternity, if you were in college. You know all the Greek fraternities are?
[00:15:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, the letters and everything.
[00:15:02] Daryl Davis: Exactly. And plus the name came from a Greek term. So I said, "You know, how about Tri Kappa. T-R-I meaning three, Greek letter for K, Tri Kappa.
[00:15:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:14] Daryl Davis: Well, he's never been to college. He couldn't get the concept.
[00:15:17] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:15:17] Daryl Davis: "I don't know, Daryl. It doesn't make any sense to me." Okay, oh, well, so then they named it Special K. I said, "You can't do that."
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a drug, party drug.
[00:15:28] Daryl Davis: Well actually no.
[00:15:29] Jordan Harbinger: Or a cereal.
[00:15:30] Daryl Davis: It is, right. So I told him, "I would avoid that." They kept the name Special K. And about four weeks later, a month later, they got a cease and desist letter from Kellogg's in Battle Creek, Michigan.
[00:15:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "We don't want our cereal named after a racist hate group. Call us crazy. We're just going to keep that reserve for the cereal. Thanks guys." Well, the KKK making friends all over the place, right? I mean, what's another cease and desist letter to a group like that. Although I guess they do want to stay on the right side of the law, wherever they can, especially given that.
[00:15:59] Daryl Davis: But they also consider themselves the law.
[00:16:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's interesting. That's interesting. Although it is ironic though that — I could be wrong here, but I thought that the Irish were not considered white by the English. So it's interesting that they decided that they were going to be the sort of arbiter of who is white in America after not being considered white in the United Kingdom earlier.
[00:16:19] Daryl Davis: Yeah, earlier, but then when you come over here, they look more like each other than they look like people like me.
[00:16:27] Jordan Harbinger: That should inform their entire ideology as bullsh*t though, right? Like, "Oh, hey, now that we've moved over here, we look white. And now we're just going to redraw this whole thing because it's all arbitrary." "No, we're going to set the lines in stone again, just like they were back in the old country, that was totally unfair for us when we were there." What? That just like—
[00:16:44] Daryl Davis: Look at what they did to the Native Americans, right?
[00:16:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course. Yeah. Oh man, this whole, the whole thing, the irony is like so thick, you can wade through it, barely. Maybe, we back up a little bit as well. Tell me about growing up, Daryl. I mean, when you were a kid, you had a bit of a unique childhood as well.
[00:17:00] Daryl Davis: I did. I'm aged 63 now. And I was the child of parents in the US foreign service. So my dad's job with the state department was to go to foreign countries and foster better relations between the foreign country and the US government. He was a diplomat. And so I started traveling in 1961 at the age of three.
[00:17:19] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:17:20] Daryl Davis: And you go to a country, you're there for two years and you come back home, you're here for a little while, you go to another country for two years, back and forth, back and forth. So my first exposure to school was overseas. I went to kindergarten, first grade, third grade, fifth grade, seventh grade. My classmates at these schools overseas were from all over the world.
[00:17:41] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:17:42] Daryl Davis: Anybody who had an embassy in those countries, all of their kids went to the same school. So that being my first exposure to formal education, that was my baseline. That's the first classroom I saw. It was this multicultural environment. That's all I knew. Now, each time I'd come back home here, to my own country, I would either be an all-black school or black-and-white school, meaning the still segregated or the newly integrated ones. And there was not the amount of diversity in our classrooms back in the '60s here, right?
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, sure.
[00:18:16] Daryl Davis: So essentially picture this. You're kind of young, so I don't know if you remember black-and-white TV. Do you remember that?
[00:18:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, because we had — my parents were the ones that were like, "We're not getting one of those new TVs for this room."
[00:18:28] Daryl Davis: Right.
[00:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: "You can use the old one," and it takes a while to warm up. So you basically like you turn it on, leave, go get a snack, go to the bathroom, come back and it's sort of like fading in slowly.
[00:18:37]Daryl Davis: Yeah. That's it. You know, when we went from black-and-white TV here to color TV, it was like, "Wow!" I mean, it just opened up a whole new dimension, so like 3D today or something. That experience was reversed for me when I came back home, as far as school goes, because I was going from color to black and white.
[00:19:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:19:03] Daryl Davis: You know what I mean?
[00:19:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:04] Daryl Davis: I was living in the future 10 years ahead of my time when I was overseas, because all this multiculturalism — in fact that word didn't exist back then.
[00:19:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:14] Daryl Davis: I remember when the word first came out, it was multi, hyphen, cultural and that was all one word. To me, it was just the norm. So I was already living 10 years ahead of my time. Today, of course, you walk into any major city USA classrooms. You see people from all over, but that was not the case in the 1960s. So I was prepared for it.
[00:19:34] And I realized a few things. When I would be back here and we would be in junior high school or grade school or whatever in world history class, we would be studying the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Berlin Wall, the pyramids, the Sphinx, and all these other things, I've been to all those things. I've been inside the pyramids and the Sphinx. I've been up the Eiffel Tower. I stood five feet from the Mona Lisa in Paris in the Louvre Museum, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I realized that most of the people sitting around me would never see those things other than the pictures in our textbooks. So then I really began to appreciate the fact that I had traveled so much. It didn't make me better than anybody else by any means, but it gave me a broader perspective. And I just saw some things in the history books that weren't true. They were not accurate because I've been there and that's not what it was in the book.
[00:20:22] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Daryl Davis. We'll be right back.
[00:20:27] This episode is sponsored in part by Purple Mattress. Doesn't it seem like the world is against us from getting a good night's sleep this time of year? Our bedroom is getting super stuffy, super hot. We're trying to get this fixed, but in the meantime, it's been sweltering a little bit hard to sleep, especially with blankets. But when you have a Purple Mattress, you can sleep cool and comfortable, no matter what the world throws at you. That's because only Purple Mattresses have the grid, a unique ventilated design that allows air to flow through to help you sleep cool, even when it feels like a thousand degrees out, like it's been these past few weeks. Unlike memory foam, which remembers everything, both the good and the bad, there's trauma in that memory foam, the grid bounces back as you move and shift. So you never get that I'm stuck feeling like you do with memory foam. Every night, I rest my head on the Purple Harmony Pillow, which also has the grid technology. So there's no need to fluff it. It cradles my oh-so-delicate ears and is ultra comfortable.
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[00:23:04] Now back to Daryl Davis on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:23:10] What's an example of that that you remember to this day? There's got to be something.
[00:23:13] Daryl Davis: I'd have to think about it. I'd have to think about it. But some of the context is about people in certain countries and how they felt about their leaders or whatever. No, I lived in those countries. They didn't feel that way at all, something like that.
[00:23:25] Jordan Harbinger: Where did you live when you were overseas? Where were you?
[00:23:27] Daryl Davis: Well, yeah, okay, we were stationed in Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Austria. We were stationed in Moscow and Jamaica.
[00:23:35] Jordan Harbinger: That's so awesome. That must've been incredible.
[00:23:38] Daryl Davis: Here's a thing, you're there for two years. And during those two years, you get home leave and you get R&R, rest and recuperation. So most Americans who were overseas, they would take both home leave and R&R and come back home here to the states. The government is paying for it, right?
[00:23:58] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:23:59] Daryl Davis: We wouldn't come back unless something was going on unless, you know, somebody died or whatever, then we'll come back because you're going to come back anyway at the end of the two years. So my father would take the home leave and R&R at the government's expense. We'd go to Asia, we'd go to Europe, we'd go to South America. We see all kinds of different countries. Why not, right? And so when you combine my travels as a child with my parents with my adulthood travels now as a professional musician, tours around the world, I've been in 57 countries on six continents.
[00:24:31] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:24:31] Daryl Davis: So that exposed me to a multitude of ethnicities, colors of skin, races, religions, whatever you want to call it, beliefs, ideologies. And all of that helped shape me. And I believe truly that those were the stepping stones that have given me the ability to sit down and talk with people who you would never picture me sitting with. Not that I respected their ideology.
[00:24:55] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:24:55] Daryl Davis: All right. But here's what I noticed. No matter how far I go from this country, whether it's right next door to Canada or Mexico or halfway around the globe, no matter how different the people I encounter maybe, what I bring back is that we all are human beings. And as such, everybody I've met anywhere in the world, they all want the same five things in their life. We all want to be loved. We want to be respected. We want to be heard. We want to be treated fairly. And we want the same thing for our family as anybody else wants for their family. And if you find yourself in a culture or society with which you're unfamiliar and you apply those five values to those people, I can guarantee you, the navigation will be much more smooth and much more positive.
[00:25:44] So essentially, I just viewed white supremacists as another culture. And I applied those values and that's what allowed me entrance into that world. Now, of course, I've had my share of violence. People attack me, they just don't like you, you're black or you're Jewish or you're gay or you're Muslim or whatever it is, they don't want to hear it. Boom! They're on you. Like, you see a cockroach, you just go over there and step on it without wondering why he was there.
[00:26:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You don't ask him what he's doing. Yeah.
[00:26:13] Daryl Davis: Right, exactly. So, you know, I've had a few occasions like that where I've had to hurt some people and put them in the hospital and then take them to court and beat them there as well. But fortunately, those instances were few and far between. Not everybody's welcoming, there'll be those who don't want to talk to you.
[00:26:29] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:26:29] Daryl Davis: And that's fine. But for the most part, my experiences have been pretty positive.
[00:26:33] Jordan Harbinger: I'm hung up on this. What was it like in Moscow in the 1960s, '70s, whatever. I mean, there couldn't have even been that many black diplomats from the United States or the west in general during that time. I mean, I assumed people thought your dad was and you were from Africa in those years in those countries.
[00:26:49] Daryl Davis: Well, my dad was there. I stayed here with my mom and then we went over to visit with them.
[00:26:55] Jordan Harbinger: Gotcha.
[00:26:55] Daryl Davis: They were together. They weren't divorced, but I stayed here for high school and all that kind of stuff. So in the '70s, let me give a little bit of history on my dad. My dad was one of the first black secret service agents in this country. He wanted to be an FBI agent, but the head of the FBI, this guy, J. Edgar Hoover was a terrible racist and male chauvinist as well as much other things, no women, no blacks. And so my dad went to the secret service. And Harry Anslinger, who was the head of the civil service on the same day, hired five black men all at the same time for the first time in the history.
[00:27:29] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:27:29] Daryl Davis: And my dad was one of those five and my dad rose through the ranks, went as high as they would let a black person go. So my dad had a knack for languages. He was just a natural linguistic. He's put them up, you know, I can't explain it. My dad spoke nine languages fluently.
[00:27:47] Jordan Harbinger: That is incredible. I know how hard that is. I speak a couple languages and nine is an unbelievable number, just to even keep in your head at the same time is incredibly difficult.
[00:27:57] Daryl Davis: I couldn't fathom it, but he spoke nine and could read and write and four of them.
[00:28:02] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:28:02] Daryl Davis: And so Vice President Richard Nixon would later go on to become president. At the time, he was vice-president to Dwight Eisenhower. He was going to have this famous kitchen debate with Nikita Khrushchev over in Moscow. So the state department advertised for any Americans to apply who can speak fluent Russian, they wanted to hire one as an interpreter translator to go with Nixon. So my dad spoke Russian.
[00:28:27] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:28:28] Daryl Davis: So he applied for the gig and he got it. He went to Moscow with Nixon and a few other interpreters in his entourage, and he did such a good job that Nixon told Eisenhower about it. And so they called him into the White House and President Eisenhower told him they'd done all their background, check on him. Eisenhower told him, "You have gone as far as you can go in the secret service. You could probably do a little bit further in the foreign service." So my father went into the foreign service exam and passed it.
[00:28:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, crushed it. He probably did great on that exam. A guy that's well-traveled, that speaks all those languages probably could take that exam while juggling. It must be cool to have a dad like that. Like that's a really incredible unique upbringing.
[00:29:09] Daryl Davis: But as a child, you think that—
[00:29:12] Jordan Harbinger: Everyone's dad's like that.
[00:29:14] Daryl Davis: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And everybody does all the traveling that you do because I mean, granted that other than the natives of whatever country we were in, all my classmates were children of diplomats or military, whatever that was there. And they were always traveling.
[00:29:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes sense. Right. So your peer group is, "Oh, you haven't been to Paris yet this year." and you're like, "Oh, I'm the odd man out." Meanwhile, you come back here — I mean, the people that you're bringing home, the people that you talk to now, I would imagine that there is a wide gamut of people who are in the Ku Klux Klan, but I would imagine it is weighted heavily towards people that don't travel a ton internationally. Is that accurate?
[00:29:51] Daryl Davis: Absolutely.
[00:29:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Tell me about the first time you'd experienced racism because this is kind of a unique way to find out about it, I suppose, as a young man, as a child.
[00:30:01] Daryl Davis: So one of the times we came back from overseas was 1968. I was aged 10 and I went to school in a place called Belmont, Massachusetts, which is a suburb of Boston. Belmont borders up against Cambridge, Lexington, Concord right there. And so there were two black kids in the whole school: me in fourth grade, a little girl in second grade. So I never really saw her except for like the recess or lunch. All of my friends were white, fourth and fifth graders. And my male friends, some of them were Cub Scouts and they invited me to join. And I joined, I had a great time. Everybody was very nice to me, no problems. And we had a parade from Lexington to Concord, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, for each club, whatever to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere. And the streets were blocked off. Sidewalks were lined with nothing but white people waving and cheering and smiling.
[00:30:58] And we got to a certain point in the route when suddenly I'm getting hit upside the head with soda pop bottles, soda pop cans, debris from the street, things like that, but just a small of maybe four or five people mixed in with the larger crowd of white people. I remember it being a couple of kids, maybe a year or so older than me and a couple of adults were throwing things.
[00:31:24] Now, it came from my right side. They were over here on the sidewalk. And my first thought was, "Oh, these people over here, they don't like the Scouts." That's how naive I was. I never had anything like that happen to me and it wasn't until just moments later, all my troops leaders, den mother, cup master, troop leader, all came running and covered me with their bodies. And they like escorted me out of the danger. So now, I'm looking around, nobody else is getting this treatment except for me. And so now I'm trying to blame myself, like, "What did I do? I didn't say anything to them. I didn't do anything to them. Why are they doing this to me? What did I do?" They wouldn't answer. They just kept shushing me, "Shush," and rushing me along, telling me everything's going to be okay. "Just keep moving. Keep moving." I never got an answer.
[00:32:13] So at the end of the parade, I went home and my mother and father who were not in attendance. They're looking at me and cleaning me up, putting alcohol and iodoform and band-aids on me and asking me, how did I fall down? How do I trip and fall down and get all scraped up? And I told them what happened. I didn't trip and fall down. When I told them what happened for the first time in my life. I'm an only child. For the first time in my life, my mom and dad sat me down at the age of 10 and explained to me what the word racism was.
[00:32:44] Now, get this. You might find this incredible, but at the age of 10, I had never heard the word racism. I had no clue what you're talking about. It wasn't part of my world. I had no reason to know what it was. When they told me this, literally, I did not believe them. I thought they were lying to me.
[00:33:04] Jordan Harbinger: Like, "That can't be right. That's too stupid and ridiculous. Why would anybody think like that?"
[00:33:08] Daryl Davis: Exactly. And my 10 year old brain could not process it. And to reinforce what I'm thinking was the fact that the people who were doing this to me, they looked just like my friends at school. They were just this as white or overseas, my fellow Americans from the embassy, or my little French or Swedish or German or Austrian friends. So it had nothing to do with skin color. My parents were wrong. That doesn't happen because if that happens with them, why wouldn't it happen with my other white friends. It just made no sense. And of course racism doesn't make any sense. So I didn't believe him.
[00:33:44] Well, between a month and a half to two months later, that same year, 1968 on April the fourth, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Every major city, my hometown, Chicago nearby Boston, where I am right here at Washington, DC, everywhere, Los Angeles, they all burned to the ground in the name of this new word that I had learned, racism. So then I understood my parents had not lied to me. This phenomenon exists, but I did not understand why it insisted. Okay, I accept that it does, but why? So I formed a question at that age, age 10, which was, how can you hate me when you don't even know me? And I've been looking for the answer to that question for 53 years. So who better to ask than someone who would go so far as to join an organization with over a hundred year history of practicing hating people who don't look like them or believe as they believe. That's where that led to.
[00:34:45] Jordan Harbinger: So how did you meet your first Klan member face to face? Well, on friendly terms anyways, or at least peaceful terms. I'm sure you came across them accidentally before without the handshake involved.
[00:34:56] Daryl Davis: I did. The very first one that I met, I didn't know he was a Klansman, but I beat him up. He was beating up a lady on a sidewalk outside of a restaurant. And I intervened. I found out later he was Klansman, not that it bothered me. He was somebody beating up a lady. But anyways, so I had joined a country music band. Country music had made a resurgence. There had been a movie out Urban Cowboy with John Travolta in this mechanical bull and line dances. So country was popular. So I joined this country band. They were established in the area and we played a place called the Silver Dollar Lounge in a town called Frederick, Maryland. Just over an hour outside of Washington, DC, the Silver Dollar Lounge was known as an all-white lounge. There were no signs but black people did not go there and they did not go there because they were not welcomed. And when you go somewhere where you're not welcome and alcohol is being served—
[00:35:53] Jordan Harbinger: Not a great, not a great mixture, yeah.
[00:35:55] Daryl Davis: Not a great mixture. So here I was in this place. The band had played there before, my first time there, and after the first set, we're taking a break to come down off the stage and I'm going to go sit down at the band table. And I feel somebody come up from behind me and put their arm around my shoulder. I don't know anybody in this place. So I'm turning around to see who was touching me. There's this white guy. He's like 15 years or so, more older than me. Big smile and he said, "Man, I sure like your piano playing." I thanked him, shook his hand, and he says, "This is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis." And now I was not offended, but I was surprised because this guy is older than me. He should have known the black origin of Jerry Lee Lewis' style. And I said, "Well, Jerry Lee learned to play it just from the same place I did from black blues and boogie-woogie piano players. That's what rock and roll and rockabilly. Well, he was incredulous. He did not believe that Jerry Lee had been like that. He'd never seen a black guy play piano like that. So I guess he never saw Little Richard or Fats Domino, same style.
[00:36:59] Jordan Harbinger: I guess if you never go to a bar and don't let black people in your bar, then maybe you haven't seen that, but that's your fault. That's a you problem at that point, right?
[00:37:07] Daryl Davis: Exactly. So he didn't believe that and I told him, I said, "Listen, man, I know him. He's a friend of mine. He's told me himself." He didn't believe that either. But he was so fascinated, he wanted me to come back to his table and let him buy me a drink. So I don't drink, but I went back to his table and I ordered a cranberry juice. He pays the waitress, he takes his glass, he fixed my glass and cheers me. And then he says, "You know? This is the first time I ever sat down and have a drink with a black man." And he's telling me all this. I was baffled because at that point in my life, I had sat down with thousands of white people, had a meal, a beverage, a conversation. How is it that this guy had never done that? And so innocently, I asked her, I said, "Why?" He didn't answer me. He like looked down at the tabletop. I asked him again, his buddy elbowed him and said, "Tell him, tell him." He says, "I'm a member of the Ku Klux Klan." Man, I burst out laughing. Like this guy's not for real, man. What's wrong with this man? And I'm trying to rationalize what he's telling me in my mind, I'm thinking, "Okay. He thought I was BS-ing him about knowing Jerry Lee Lewis and Jerry Lee learned from black people. And so he's going to BS me about the Klan.
[00:38:13] Jordan Harbinger: Like he's pulling my leg like, yeah, come on.
[00:38:15] Daryl Davis: And while I'm laughing, he goes inside his pocket, pulled out his wallet and hands me his Klan membership card. I recognized the Klan's insignia, which is a red circle with a white cross and a red blood drop in the center of the cross. That thing was for real, man. I'm like, whoa. I stopped laughing. It wasn't funny anymore. And I gave it back to him. And now I'm wondering in my mind, "Why am I sitting here with a Klansman? What's going on here?" But this guy was very, very friendly and very curious about me and so we talked a lot. And he gave me his phone number and wanted me to call him whenever I was to return to this bar with this band, because he wants to bring his friends. Klansmen and Klanswomen to see the black guy who plays like Jerry Lee.
[00:38:58] Jordan Harbinger: That must've been kind of interesting that you're like, "Do I want to call the guy to have him bring a bunch of Klansmen over to the bar while I'm playing?" Like there must've been a part that's like, "Is that a good idea for me to do that?"
[00:39:08] Daryl Davis: Well, I figured if they were as friendly as he was, they wouldn't pose any problems.
[00:39:13] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:39:14] Daryl Davis: And so I said, okay. And so I called them every six weeks when the band was on a rotation there. I call them on a Wednesday or Thursday. I said, "Hey man, you know, we're down to Silver Dollar, Friday and Saturday. Come on out." He'd come out both nights and he'd bring Klansmen and Klanswomen. And they'd gather around the stage and watch me play and get out on the dance floor and dance. And then on the breaks, I'd make my way over to his table and say hello. Some of them were curious about me. They want to meet me. Others would see me coming and they'd get up and scurry away. So they didn't have to touch me or talk to me. And that was fine too.
[00:39:51] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Daryl Davis. We'll be right back.
[00:39:56] This episode is sponsored in part by Starbucks. Starbucks Tripleshot Energy is an extra strength coffee beverage in a can with 225 milligrams of caffeine. It's that Starbucks coffee you love ready to drink. So you have the energy to do the things that matter to you. Great for keeping you energized on a long road trip or getting you amped to tackle the workday ahead. I think with 225 milligrams, you're officially in amped territory. Offering classic flavors like cafe, mocha, and caramel, and also with zero sugar and dairy-free flavors like black and vanilla. Going to the coffee shop is great if you have the time, but it can interrupt productivity and sometimes you just can't get there. Keep Starbucks Tripleshot Energy in your fridge to drink every now and then for a little pick me up. Pro tip, poured over ice, tastes great cold. Tripleshot is also the perfect to throw in your bag when you need it. This stuff is wildly popular.
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[00:40:47] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Bourbon Time. There's no denying this past year has us all spending way too much time at home. And because a lot of us, including myself, were working from home to the kitchen, to be specific, it made each day string together and feel pretty damn exhausting. A lot of us have found ourselves blurring the lines between work and rest, which takes a toll on our energy as well. The folks at Knob Creek see this phenomenon happening and they want to help us reclaim our evenings. Beat the burnout, take back the hour of 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. as one hour, where you let yourself do whatever makes you happiest. For me, I'm always walking around, listening to an audio book, walking down the road. I'm like the weird neighborhood watch guy that wears a sun hat and is always seeing lost dogs and cats and suspicious characters. But hey, that's how I work on my dad bud.
[00:41:32] Jen Harbinger: Leaving burnout behind starting now. Join us in reclaiming 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. as the happiest hour so you can do whatever it is that makes you happy. And if that involves a glass of bourbon, remember to drink Knob Creek responsibly. Jordan, take it away.
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[00:41:55] Thanks so much for listening to and supporting the show. I know that you're loving this conversation as much as I enjoyed recording it for you. And by the way, all those URLs, all those sponsors, they're all on one page. If you get a jordanharbinger.com/deals, you can find all those promo codes. Please consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:42:13] And don't forget, we've got worksheets for many episodes of the show. If you want some of the drills, the exercises talked about during these podcasts, those are in one easy place as well. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And now for the conclusion of part one with Daryl Davis.
[00:42:30] It's amazing that it was that kind of simple and easy. And I know that you dug a little bit deeper after that. I mean, you eventually got a meeting with a guy who was supposed to be kind of dangerous, right? Tell me about that.
[00:42:43] Daryl Davis: Okay, at the end of that year, I think I played through December through Christmas. Then I quit the band and I went back to playing rock and roll and blues and R&B and whatever else was going on. And so I lost track of the guy, it wasn't like I was going to stay in contact with the KKK. Well, sometime later it dawned on me. "Hey Daryl, you didn't realize it, but the answer to your question: how can you hate me when you don't even know me? That's been plaguing you since the age of 10, it fell right into your lap. Who better to ask that question of than somebody in the KKK? Get back in contact with that guy." And so I was going to do that. I decided I'm going to write a book. I have tons of books on the Klan and all kinds of white supremacy, black supremacy, all that ideology. I have tons of books on it. No book had been written by a black author on the KKK from the perspective of in-person interviews. So I just thought I'm going to do that. I'll get back in contact with that guy.
[00:43:40] Then my mom passed and so I put things off for a couple of years, and then I finally got into it. So long story short, I did get in contact with him. He did not want to turn me on to the Klan leader. I knew who the leader was, but I didn't know him personally. And he said, "No, no, no, no, I can't do that. You know, I'll get in trouble." And he didn't want to get in trouble. He didn't want me to get in trouble. And I said, "Well, listen, give me the guy's address and phone number." He didn't want to do that, but I finally persuaded him to do it. And he did it on the condition that I not tell this guy where I got his personal information. I said, "Okay." And he warned me. He said, "Daryl, do not fool with Roger Kelly." That's the guy's name? "Roger Kelly will kill you." I said, "Well, that's the whole reason I need to talk to him. I'll watch all about this. Why would he do that? Just because of the color of my skin, it makes no sense. This is what I need to understand."
[00:44:28] So he warned me again, but he gave me the number and implored me not to tell Mr. Kelly, where I got his information. And so that's where that started. So then I decided, okay, my secretary is white, and I only mentioned that not that I care, but because it's an integral part of the story.
[00:44:45] Jordan Harbinger: It's part of the story. Yeah.
[00:44:46] Daryl Davis: Yeah. I could've called Mr. Kelly myself. I'm the one who had the phone number, but I thought if I called him, he might recognize in my voice that I'm black, "I'm not talking to you," click. The whole project would have ended before it ever got started. So I told her, "Mary," I said, "Listen, call this guy, Roger Kelly." I said, "Do not tell him that I'm black unless he asked. If he asks, don't lie to him, but don't give them a reason to ask. Tell him that you're working for your boss. Who's writing a book on the Klan. Would he consent to sitting down and giving me an interview?" She said, okay. You see back then, nobody knew who I was. I was more involved in music. So she called and he did not ask what color I was. And he agreed to do the interview. So we arranged to meet at this motel.
[00:45:34] Mary and I had got there super early. I mean, several hours early and I gave her some money. I sent her down the hall to get some soda pop out of the vending machine, put it in the ice bucket and get it cold. So I can be hospitable and offer my guests cold drinks. I had no idea what this man was going to do when he saw me. Would he attack me? Would he say, "I'm not talking to you," and walk away? Or would he come in the room and do the interview? But in any event I knew what I was going to do, I was going to be hospitable. So, you know, she got the soda, put it in the ice bucket, filled with ice, and we waited and right on time at 5:15 on a Sunday afternoon, there was a knock on the door.
[00:46:13] So now the room is situated where you cannot see who's in the room from the doorway. You've got to come in the room and turn around the corner, and then you see the room laid out. So I'm sitting in the most obscure corner of the room, at this little lamp table thing. I've taken the lamp off. I have a black bag on my chair. I put a cassette recorder out of there, set it on the table. In the bag, I have some blank cassettes and a copy of the Bible because the Klan claims to be a Christian organization. And they say that the Bible preaches racial separation and I've never seen it in there. So I want to be able to say, "Hey, please show me chapter and verse where it says that."
[00:46:50] So I'm all prepared, right? Mary hops up and runs around the corner, opens the door. In walks this Klan bodyguard and he was in military camouflage that red circle, white cross, blood drop patch, right there. The letters KKK here and Knights of the Ku Klux Klan embroidered on his cap.
[00:47:09] Jordan Harbinger: So he's not like undercover at all. He's just repping.
[00:47:12] Daryl Davis: Yeah. And he's got a semiautomatic on his holster. He comes in. Mr. Kelly is in a dark blue suit and tie walking right behind him. And this guy turns the corner and sees me and just freezes. He just stop short. Well, Mr. Kelly did not realize that his bodyguard had stopped short. He slammed into his back and knocked him forward. So now they both were like stumbling around. It's like a . It was like a Laurel and Hardy thing. And I'm just sitting at the table, looking at them. I could see in their faces, all the apprehension. They're like looking all around, regaining their balance. And I could read their faces. Their faces were saying, "Did the desk clerk give us the wrong room number?"
[00:47:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:47:55] Daryl Davis: Or just an ambush, you know? So I realized that I stood up and I went like this. I displayed my hands to show I had nothing in him and I walked towards him and I put my right hand out. I said, "Hi, Mr. Kelly, I'm Daryl Davis." And he shook my hand and the bodyguard shook my hand. So far, so good, right? "Come on in. Please have a seat." Mr. Kelly sat down and the bodyguard stood at attention on his right side. And before I could sit down, he wanted some ID. So I gave him some ID and then I sat down. We began talking every time he would make some biblical reference or the cassette ran out of tape, I'd reach down to get the Bible or get a fresh cassette. Whenever I'd reached down, the bodyguard would reach up to his gun. He never drew it, but he put his hand on the handle. I understood that because that's his job. He does not know me. He does not know what's in my bag. His job is to protect his boss. So he's doing what he has to do. I got that. So I was fine with that. And this went on when I went in and out of the bed for a while.
[00:48:57] Jordan Harbinger: Why did he want your ID? I mean, who cares? Like that part I didn't—
[00:49:01] Daryl Davis: Here's what happened. So he asked me if I had any ID and so I gave him my driver's license and then he looks at, and he goes, "Oh, you live on such and such street in Silver Spring." That had me concerned.
[00:49:13] Jordan Harbinger: Like, it's like a subtle threat, like, "Oh, now I know where you live."
[00:49:15] Daryl Davis: Exactly. So I'm thinking, okay, what? Is he going to come by and burn across my yard.
[00:49:20] Jordan Harbinger: Will he go up next door to where you live or something?
[00:49:22] Daryl Davis: No, no, but it had me concerned, but I did not want to let him know that I was concerned. So I said, "Yes, Mr. Kelly, that is where I live. And you live at—" and I named his house number and his street. That way he knew I knew where he lived too, right?
[00:49:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:49:38] Daryl Davis: So now I'm leveling the playing field. I did not realize it that day. But the reason why he made note of my street was because one of his members lives right down the road here. He's no longer there. He's in prison now. So Mr. Kelly would have to drive down my street, which runs through two neighborhoods to see this guy. So it's just pure coincidence, but I had no way of knowing that I didn't even know the guy lived down there. So I found that out much later.
[00:50:03] Anyway, so the bodyguard kept reaching for his gun. Well, after a while he relaxed. He realized there was no threat in the bag. I went in and out. He didn't do anything. He just stands there. About a little over an hour, maybe into this interview, Mr. Kelly and I were just talking casually and there was a very quick sudden short noise that came out of nowhere. Like — that was it, but because it happened so out of nowhere, we all jumped. And I came about in my seat. I was ready to dive across that table and attack. I feared for my life. Why do I fear for my life? Well, A, my ear could not discern the noise. It happened too fast. It was gone. I'm sitting in the room with the head of the Klan. For my state, I'm black. I've already been told by one of his members that he would kill me. So I got all that going on in my head.
[00:50:56] And so you go into survival mode and a survival mode, you can only do basically one of four things. Some people just think they pass out because the fear is so great. Their brain cannot process it and it shuts down and you fall out. I don't do that. Other people, their muscles would tighten up and they'll start shaking and they can't move. They're constricted. That's called paralysis by fear. They can't move you to be hitting them, whatever they won't even be deflecting the blows. I don't freeze up like that. And other things people will do is to run away. When you get scared, you run away. That is the best option. And that's the option that I would have chosen had it been available to me, which you cannot outrun a bullet in a motel room.
[00:51:36] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah.
[00:51:37] Daryl Davis: So the last option was to do a preemptive strike, get them before they get you. And that's what I was going to do off my dive across the table, grab both of those guys and slam them down to the ground and then mobilize that guy's gun. But when I hit the table, I'm looking right into Mr. Kelly's eyes. I didn't say a word. My eyes were conveying everything I was thinking, because I knew he made that noise. There was no doubt in my mind, he'd made that noise. And I didn't know what it was. And because I didn't know where it was, it caused fear and I perceived it to be ominous and threatening. And I knew he could read my eyes. My eyes were saying to him, "What did you just do?" Well, his eyes had locked with mine. He didn't say a word either, but I could read his eyes as well. His eyes were asking me, "What did you just do?" And the bodyguard had his hand on his gun, looking back and forth between both of us. Like, "What did either one of y'all just do?" Well, Mary, she was sitting on top of the dresser to my left because there were no more chairs as she realized what had happened as she began explaining it when it happened again. What had happened was the ice and the ice bucket had melted and the cans of soda were falling down the ice — that was it. Somebody almost got shot over an ice cube. That's how crazy this thing was.
[00:53:00] But this was a teaching moment because all in that same moment, it confirmed the fact that we all were human and we all have something in common. We all felt fear in the same moment. He didn't know what it was. He thought I did it, so did the bodyguard, right? I didn't know what it was. I thought he did it. We both feared one another because of some things that we didn't even know about, we were ignorant to it. And at the same time, in that same moment, when Mary explained it, with the fear addressed and gone, we all began laughing about it.
[00:53:34] Jordan Harbinger: I bet I can imagine the tension. It had to get defused somehow after all that.
[00:53:38] Daryl Davis: Yeah and we were laughing at our ignorance. So this is a very important lesson that I think needs to be taught in every classroom, anywhere, USA, all because some foreign — underline, circle, highlight the word foreign — entity of which we were ignorant. Being the bucket of ice cans of soda had entered into our little comfort zone via the noise that it made, we became fearful and accusatory of each other. Ignorance breeds fear. If we do not keep that fear in check and address it, it will escalate the hatred because we hate the things that frighten us. Then if we don't address the hatred and keep it in check, it will escalate into anger and breed destruction. We want to destroy the things that we hate. Why? Because they frightened us. But guess what? They may have been harmless and we were simply ignorant. We saw that whole chain almost unraveled to completion had the Nighthawk, the bodyguard, shot me or my secretary, or had I jumped across the table and hurt one of them. It stopped short of that, fortunately.
[00:54:48] You did see exactly what I'm talking about four years ago, August 12th, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, at that big supremacist rally. On that day, there was a lot of ignorance in Charlottesville. There was a lot of fear which escalated to hatred, which culminated in destruction, when a white supremacist got inside his vehicle and tried to murder as many people as he could, by driving full force into the crowd. He succeeded in injuring 20 people and murdering one young lady named Heather Heyer.
[00:55:23] Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hatred, hatred breeds destruction. And this is universal. You know, when I speak to little kids like in elementary school, middle school, things like that and I'm talking about this kind of thing, of course, I can't put down a lot for that age level, but I'll give you an example of something. I'm in a classroom. I'm standing at the top of the classroom. Here, these little kids are sitting in their little desks, you know, five rows of them and I'm talking casually, and then suddenly out of the blue, I'll say, "Hey, hey, there's a snake under your chair." And I'll point down between some kid's feet and just at my suggestion and pointing that there's a snake under somebody's chair. Not only does that person scream, kids five rows back scream, "Ahhh!" Right? And then they realize it's no snake there and they all start laughing.
[00:56:15] And I asked them, I said, "Why did y'all scream?" "Oh, I hate snakes. I'm afraid of snakes." Well, there's your hatred, here's your fear? Why do you hate snakes?" "Well, they're slimy. They're poisonous." "Well, there's your ignorance. Snakes are not slimy at all. They're dry and not all snakes are poisonous. So, you're making assumptions. That's the ignorance, right?" So I said, "Okay, there was no snake under your chair, obviously. However, let's just pretend that there really was a snake under your chair. What would you want me to do about it?" You know, what did they say? Kill it. There's your disruption.
[00:56:54] Ignorance, fear, hatred, destruction — kill it. And this is coming from little kids, preteen age. That's something that we have to address in this country. Learn how to deal with things that we don't understand. I mean, you know, we can be cautious. I understand that self-preservation and stuff, but let's not always seek to destroy. A missed opportunity for dialogue is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution. I'm a firm believer in that. Nothing gets resolved without talking about it.
[00:57:26] When I was a kid overseas, I was probably six years old, five or six. I remember the occasion, someone over the age, but the American ambassador would always do things at his residence in line with American traditions, like Easter egg hunts and all that kind of stuff for the kids at the embassy. And so my parents were taking me to do an Easter egg hunt at his house. A bunch of kids were coming up the driveway and there was a kid who I didn't recognize, older kid, standing at the top of the driveway and he had something white on his arm. And when he moved around his arm didn't move and I'd never seen anything like this. I didn't know what was wrong with his arm. And when we got there, it was time to get out of the car, I wouldn't get out. I was afraid of that kid because I'd never seen an arm like that before. And my parents just kept trying to explain to me, it's a cast, he's injured his arm. You know, you put it in a cast.
[00:58:27] I've never seen a cast before. So it was foreign to me, I didn't want anything to do with that kid. And my parents literally had to drag me out of the car, kicking and screaming and crying, because I did not want to be anywhere near that kid. I would have had to walk by him to go and play with my other friends. They dragged me out of the car and I ran to my friends, man. And over time that day, I remember some of my friends going up to the guy and they were like touching his cast and they were writing something on his cast. And so I was curious, I kept my distance, like get closer and closer and I'd look, and then he asked me, "Do you want to write your name on it?" I saw everybody else doing it. So I figure, okay, and he handed me a marker. I took it from afar. I touched the cast and then I began writing my name on it. And of course, he and I became friends later, but it took that experience of not knowing what it was, it put fear in me. So I can understand how ignorance can breed fear.
[00:59:32] Jordan Harbinger: If you found this episode interesting, here's a trailer for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Bob Saget shares how humor can be used as a coping mechanism for pain and the necessity of reinvention for career longevity and fulfillment. Here's a preview.
[00:59:46] When did you know that you were funny? Like, were you a class clown the whole time or was it—?
[00:59:51] Bob Saget: Last year.
[00:59:51] Jordan Harbinger: Last year, yeah.
[00:59:52] Bob Saget: Fame has bullsh*t to let it go to your head. The moment you're cocky is the moment you've lost me as an audience. And a lot of people are attracted to it. You know, if I hadn't known that secret as a teenager, I would have had a lot of girlfriends or just been quite a stud because the key was not to care. I'm calm in my skin now. I don't know if it's evident during this thing, if I'm so calm, why the hell was I clicking this chopstick? I'm demonstrating—
[01:00:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, man.
[01:00:19] Bob Saget: This is what you were hearing — but you were hearing it in a much slower clicking.
[01:00:26] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a hypnotic pattern for the listener.
[01:00:28] Bob Saget: So I put your listeners to bed.
[01:00:30] For me to walk around scared or thinking about people that are trying to hold me back. Nobody's holding me back. If anybody's holding you back, it's you, you know — not you.
[01:00:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:39] Bob Saget: Not you, Jordan.
[01:00:40] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[01:00:40] Bob Saget: If anyone's holding me back, it's you, Jordan.
[01:00:43] Jordan Harbinger: This podcast is going to — you're going to see a massive onslaught of listeners for your show.
[01:00:47] Bob Saget: Talking Bob Saget's Here for You is going to get eight more people.
[01:00:51] Jordan Harbinger: Provided we don't blow it in the last quarter here, or the last 10 minutes here or whatever.
[01:00:55] Bob Saget: No, that's impossible. Well, we got more than that. We're at an hour and 12 and two of those minutes have to be cut.
[01:01:01] Jordan Harbinger: You're standing there with John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and you think no one can see you. And I heard that there was a life-sized doll.
[01:01:08] Bob Saget: Yeah. Let's forget this one. This was painful. You know too much. I'm going to have to kill you.
[01:01:12] Jordan Harbinger: I know I read your book.
[01:01:13] Bob Saget: When I get there, I have to kill you.
[01:01:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we can hang out when the plague lifts.
[01:01:16] Bob Saget: Oh, I can't wait. Maybe I'm on here, but I don't like Coronavirus. We don't have wet markets in downtown LA, right?
[01:01:24] Jordan Harbinger: No, we don't. At least not with like bats and pangolin and other stuff that you haven't heard of. No.
[01:01:29] Bob Saget: Oh, what the hell happened?
[01:01:36] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Bob Saget on how the big breaks can come from one of life's worst disappointments and Bob's proven remedy for dealing with the haters — and we all have haters — check out episode 372 on The Jordan Harbinger Show with Bob Saget.
[01:01:51] All right, this is the end of part one. We got part two coming right up. Links to Daryl's stuff is going to be in the show notes. Please use our website links when you buy books from any of the guests. That does help support the show. Worksheets for episodes are also in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes. And there's a video of this interview and many of them, all up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. We've also got a brand new clips channel with cuts that don't make it to the show, highlights from interviews that you can't see anywhere else. jordanharbinger.com/clips is where you can find that. And if you want to get in touch, I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:02:26] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems, software, and tiny habits. That's in our Six-Minute Networking course. And that course is free. That's at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty. And most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:02:45] Don't forget to join us for part two here, coming up next.
[01:02:48] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. Look, this is a fascinating story. Y'all know somebody who's going to be interested in this. Please share this episode with him. I think it's a good intro to The Jordan Harbinger Show as well. I hope you find something great in every episode of this show so please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:03:26] All right, another podcast I can always recommend, my friend, Dr. Emily Morse. Is she a doctor now? That's amazing. She's on a mission to help you prioritize your pleasure and liberate the conversation around sex. For 15 years, she's been answering your questions. Like how do I talk to my partner about trying something new in the bedroom? Or how do I increase my sex drive? And there's a whole lot more of that I just kind of didn't want to put in this promo because it's a little bit saucy. Sex with Emily is the number one podcast about sex, dating, and relationships and has been for quite a while. You know that question you've been wondering about, but we're too afraid to ask. On Sex with Emily, nothing is off limits. Her no-shame approach has made Dr. Emily a trusted source to guide you no matter where you are on your sexual journey. Find Sex with Emily, wherever you listen to podcasts or go to sexwithemily.com/listen.
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