NYLA Talks

„You have to be 50 times smarter.“ Understanding racism with Roosevelt Ducelus


It’s easy to focus on rioting when watching George Floyd protests. It’s harder to understand what it means to grow up black in the U.S. today. This episode of NYLA podcast is an attempt to do that.

“For us, we have to be so far up to be at the door. But for the white man the door is just right there,” Roosevelt Ducelus, English language officer in Atlanta explains talking with Karolis Vyšniauskas in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Roosevelt managed to reach the door and open it. He works as a contractor with the US Department of State programs, which is how Karolis met him. He has two master’s degrees and speaks five languages. But he’s spending these days protesting in Atlanta so that other African-Americans would have more equal opportunities.

“I have three kids. If I don’t make it better for them, who’s gonna do it?” he says. 

This conversation discusses the logic of rioting, the legacy of slavery and why Roosevelt believes that discrimination of black people won’t end until Africa itself is in a better situation.

(In order to listen to the podcast, press PLAY above)

From Atlanta to Vilnius. The conversation was recorded on June 2, after the first week of George Floyd protests.

Having 10 years of active military experience, Roosevelt says he is not afraid of being tear gassed in a protest. He lost count of how many times that had already happened.

“People are frustated. They have been deprived of a lot of things for a long time. And majority of these people are black,” Roosevelt says. “The U.S. is a great country. But the greatness of this country came from everybody. Everybody worked together to build it. But when it’s time to pay back, the return does not equite to what African-Americans have invested.”

Roosevelt in Haiti, his heritage country. He has written a book (yet unpublished) explaining why Haiti is deemed to be among the poorest nations in the western hemisphere.

George Floyd protesters in Morristown, New Jersey. Protests have erupted in at least 140 American cities after George Floyd, an African-American man was suffocated by a white policeman in Minneapolis on May 25. He later died in the ambulance

Host and producer: Karolis Vyšniauskas
Editor: Karolis Pilypas Liutkevičius
Photo courtesy: Roosevelt Ducelus and Giedrius Paulauskas (cover photo)
Photo editor: Artūras Morozovas
Music by Martynas Gailius and Vitalija Glovackytė
Language editor: Rasa Radzevičiūtė
Sound recordings by Indrė Kiršaitė and Roosevelt Ducelus
Special thanks to Berta Tilmantaitė


Each week Nyla podcast aims to deconstruct social and cultural forces that shape our world. Support our work at Patreon and listen to other episodes in English:

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