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Putting The United Back Into The United States

Updated: Apr 27

Putting The United Back Into The United States: Zurriane Bennett On The 5 Things That Each Of UsCan Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society


Tyler Gallagher Follow Feb 14 · 19 min read 3/4/2021

Putting The United Back Into The United States:


Zurriane Bennett On The 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized

Remove big money and influence from politics on all levels. For the people and by the people means just that. Yet we live in America that is for the corporation and run by it corporations i.e.


Big Money. People who continually share and spread lies that hurt the nation and that nation’s people should be very heavily fined, jailed, and then banded from any and every platform part of our series about 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zurriane Bennett.


Zurriane Bennett is a remarkably interesting man. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 22 years. Starting as an enlisted man and working his way up to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer while in the Marines became an Emergency Services Officer, Aircraft Firefight and Recuse Officer, and an Anti-terrorism Officer. Once his military career was over, he transitioned next career and his need to continually learn and grow he because officer with the New York City, Department of Corrections there he became a Fire Safety — Occupational Safety and Health officer.


Still not yet done he changed his career again and became a Program and project manager managing multi-million dollar contracts as a contractor with over 380 staff members.


He worked with various Federal agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. State Department, and others. While doing this he also continued to train in, and teach martial arts, and self-defense. Matter of fact he is a speaker, trainer, and author of 4 books. He teaches and works with individuals and groups.


Here are some of the companies and organizations he has worked with and provided training for Google Inc., Franciscan Mission Service, Northern Virginia Sexual Assaults Victims’ Advocacy Service, U.S. Army National Guard, Library of Congress, National Girl Scouts of America, Prince William Manassas Regional Detention Center, U.S. Marines, Lifetime Fitness, Computer Associates Inc., Lifeways. and more. He has had the opportunity and the honor of being a mentor and positive role model to thousands.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better.


Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory? am what you would call a project kid. For decades some of the poorest people in the US have lived in subsidized housing developments often known as “projects”. Many of these projects, however, are now being torn down and studies suggest only one in three residents find a home in the mixed-income developments built to replace them.


My childhood started in New York in the City of Mt. Vernon, which is in Westchester county. Growing up I believed that my childhood was normal and happy. We spent most of our time in school and playing outside playing with friends. Yet later in my life, I found out that I was wrong. Like many children at a young age, I was bullied. At the age of 7, I saw a man get shot by his wife in my house where I live with my mother, father, and four-year-old brother. Interesting story as this man who was shot was a police officer.


At the age of 8 while standing outside of my second elementary school I saw a little girl run into the street and get hit by a car. She was killed when the horns on the hood ornament hit her in the head.


The hood ornament was the shape of a jumping bull When I was 9. Me and my best friend Brent were outside on the side of our building throwing a football back and forth to each other playing catch when we were startled. I a woman who landed just feet from us. She had jumped from her 7th-floor window hit the ground at the spot where Brent had just been standing about 5 seconds before, I had, thrown the ball to him he ran towards me with the football in his hands.


Right after the woman hit the ground, she made a sharp inhalation of are through her nose and mouth that was her last breath. That same year my parents got me into the martial arts, I loved it and it helped me a lot. During my childhood, I sadly experienced several things that would have a great effect on the way that I saw the world to include violence, racism, and other types of inequality.


Then when I was about 13, I had a man who was upset with my little brother. At the time I had no idea what was going on I just saw my little brother running toward me at full speed. It appeared that my little brother and this man’s daughter who may I add was about 3 three older than my brother had, had some type of problem.


When the man ran up to me and my brother I tried to talk with the man and find out what had happened. The man did not want to talk he wanted my brother, so with my little brother behind me, I told the man that he could not hit my brother and that our parents should be home soon and that he could speak with them.


Then the man punched me in the chest and then after I hit him back in self-defense, I won that fight. The man left and then returned after a few minutes in his hand he had a hatch-hammer and tried to hit me with that in the parking lot next to my building. I ran across the street to the area where they were building and started grabbing and throwing bricks at the man.


Luckily for me, someone who had seen everything from the start had unknown to me had called the police. (Thank you martial arts training) When I was 15, I came to the aid of a pregnant woman who was being beaten by a man in the street in New York. I got in between them in the hope of getting stopped and listen to reason.


The reason that I got involved was because, not one else looked like they were going to help this woman. Sadly, he would not stop or listen and then tried to direct his angry and fist at me. Luckily, my useability to use my hands and feet to defend myself was better than his. So once the man had lost his ability to fight, I redirected my full attention to the woman. We walked away from the area together we then ran into a friend of hers the two of them left in a car. The woman told me she was going to her mother’s.


Every time that I saw the woman that I helped again she would thank me for my help. Many years later I ran into her and her then-teenage daughter she introduced me to her daughter as “the man who beat her daughter’s father’s ass when she was pregnant with her.” But with all that and more I still believed that my childhood was normal. However, my wife to this day does not agree with me on that point. What or who inspired you to pursue your career?


We’d love to hear the story. There are several things, characters, and events that have inspired me. Here is one of them when I was a young boy, my family and I were visiting some people in Connecticut it was a day trip. During that visit, I met these two girls who were close to my age.


While playing with them one of the girls told me that her sisters very shy and nervous around people she did not know. I said okay and we all continued to play later the older sister told me that their father had done things to them and that was why her sister was that way. Later I talk with my parents and told them what the girls had shared with me. I remember my mother getting terribly upset.


She, they told me that the man was hurting the girls and it was wrong. He told me that her and my dad were going to call the police and get the girls some help. What my mother told me later made me want to help people in any way that I could move forward.


I still remember what my mother said, to me. She said to me “you would never want anyone to hurt me or your sister, would you?”


Careers, I have pursued several careers. In all of them, I have experienced a good amount of success. Each of my, pursues I have faced with a positive, can do, will do mindset. Ready forward mindset! What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?


Presently I am working with the Franciscan Mission Service in Washington DC helping them training their missionaries when they have volunteers and missionaries that they are sending to locations around the world.


Help them to be better able to defense and protect themselves from harm as they work to carry out their mission and helping others very fulfilling for me. I am also working with safe houses in the New York City area. Help organizations like Lifeway Network who help women who are survivors of human trafficking not only by teaching them self-defense, awareness, and mindset.


These things help to empower them to take back control of their lives. I had also had a great time working with Google and their staff at their officers in Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C.


None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today?


Can you share a story about that? There are several stories of people who have helped me to achieve success my wife of 31 years, my 4 children, and the many mentors who have stepped up even when they had nothing to gain personally for themselves by helping me.


Two of the people who helped me a great deal are Mr. Reginald Brown and Grand Master Reno Morales, these two men continually stepped up to help me in ways that I not only did not ask them to, but they did it again and again.


Many times, and in ways that were of great help and in some ways and areas that I did not even realize I needed help. One of the ways that they help me was several years ago they suggested that I have a seminar martial arts and self-defense seminar. The original goal was to just have a good learning and growth experience.


That simple goal grew to an event to bring martial artist and their arts together under one roof so that they, their students, and the community could learn and grow. Then it again grew to an event where we had outside companies donating items and products that we away to the event’s volunteer presenters and to attending guests.


Then we donated the proceeds from each event to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. During this time Grand Master Reno was told that he has stage 4 colon cancer and only 3 months to live. He told the doctor that gave him that news “Young lady next year when I come back, we will talk about that”.


Yet even as he was going through radiation treatments, he would call me as upbeat and positive as a man with a clean bill of health that had just collected his 30 million dollars that he had won on the lotto.


On days when I was feeling sad or sorry for myself then out of the blue, I would get a phone from him. He would usually start off with “Hey Jar Head what are you up too?” or “Hey Kid what are you up too?”


This man in his 70s was still active as an Executive Protection Specialist working in the field with his clients. A little short of two years later cancer took him but he faced it with a smile and fought with his last breath. He and Mr. Brown are great and amazing men. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?


Once I was asked to come to a meeting in Washington D.C. so said sure I can come just give me the date and time. The person that had invited me had communicated with me about 7 times in the past via e-mail about 6 times and once on the phone. Now I am one of those people who believe if you are not early to an appointment you are late, so on the day of the meeting I got there about 35 minutes early.


Once I got there to call the office and a woman informed me that I was early and that she would be coming down shortly to get me. I told her to please take her time and there was no rush. This was a government building so I walked over to security told them who I was coming to see and why then presented my information. A few moments later the woman came and escorted me up to a conference room.


She then asked me if I would not mind waiting in the room by myself in the room until the meeting start time. I said sure plus I have my computer and there were a few things that I could take care of until start time. About 20 minutes or so later people started to enter and or peek into the room.


Most of the people knew one another and they started talking among themselves. As the room filled not one person said anything to me. Then I saw the person who had invited me he peeked in and in a flash was gone.


Then he looked in again a few minutes after that this time we met eye to eye, but he turned his head again and was gone. Then a third time he came in and this time he said hi everyone we will be starting in a few minutes we are just waiting for one person to get here and we will start.


On his fourth visit back to the conference room his said to everyone we are just going to have to get started. He said it appears that the person that we are waiting for must have gotten stuck in traffic or something.


Then one of the people in the room asked the man so who are we waiting for?


The man then said to us all that was were wait for Zurriane Bennett and as soon as she gets here, we will get to the meat of the meeting. So, I raised my hand and said in a truly clear, and manly voice you all are not waiting on me I have been sitting in this conference room for the last 30 minutes. {There were a few other things I wanted to say but I kept it professional.) I then said you know a lot of people see my name and assume it is the name of a woman. The host then red-faced said I am so sorry that is my mistake.


I told him no worries that is not the first time that has happened to me. The man then reintroduced me to the group and explained that I was there to speak with them.


The wild part was I was not told I would be speaking I was only asked if I could attend. I had also communicated to the man in 4 of the 7 communications via e-mail that I was not Ms. Bennett I was Mr. Zurriane Bennett. After the fourth time and a short talk on the phone, I figured he had got it. I also later found out that this man believed that I was a white woman. Lesson learned it is just too hard to make up a made mind. Once some people have certain beliefs in their heads, they will swim oceans and climb mountains to keep believing what they want to believe.3


Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you?

Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?


One book series of books are by Pires Anthony, these are all fantasy books about the incarnations: Mother Nature, Time, Death, God, The Fates, etc. The first book in the series that I read was, On A Pale Horse The second book was Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. That book really hit the mark on relationships and communications within the sexes.


There have been many other books over the years as I try to read two to four books a month. Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work? Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” That space.


Note:


My version is a little different but this it where mine originated. The meaning for me is that your actions and the end responses guide your life The Art of War, Sun Tzu If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will know defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Prepare not only yourself but for the expected and unexpected. How do you define “Leadership”?


Can you explain what you mean or give an example? Leadership to me listening, having an open mind, being honest, fair, taking reasonable and timely action, and taking responsibility for your actions and deeds.


Face the real facts always look for ways to get and be better, be honest with yourself/others, and learn from others and your own experiences. Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview.


The polarization in our country has become so extreme that families have been torn apart. Erstwhile close friends have not spoken to each other because of strong partisan differences. This is likely a huge topic, but briefly, can you share your view on how this evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?


Sadly, we are a nation that has been built on lies. These lies have fueled distrust and hate. I have no pretensions about bridging the divide between politicians, or between partisan media outlets. But I’d love to discuss the divide that is occurring between families, co-workers, and friends.


Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your experience about how family or friends have become a bit alienated because of the partisan atmosphere? In 2019 was saw a post on Facebook from a man that I considered and brother and a friend. The man broke my heart. You see I served in the United States Marine Corps for 22 years. I eventually retired as a Marine Chief Warrant Officer. During this time, I served with thousands of people some good, some great, and some not so good but each, and every one of them I consider family. Well in the Marines there is a true bond between each of the men and women that wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. I believe that bond is one of the strongest in the United States Armed Forces.


The gentleman posted a very hateful and racist comment on his Facebook page. Then I saw it I became angry so much so that I reach out to the person and told him that was not something that I would have ever expected him to post. He responded to me by saying “well I guess you should just get over it.”


I looked at the reply and then had to walk away from my computer for a short while. Upon my return I said to him I just want you to know that my wife is black, my children are black. I then told him you served with me in some pretty, serious situations you have a pretty good idea of my abilities.


Then said to him if the Sh_t ever hit the fan I guess I should find you first? I then got an instant reply, back from him that said sir you know I would take a bullet for you and your family. I did not reply and still have not replied to him. We are still connected on Facebook.


You see two years after we had last served together, I got a call from the jag that this Marine and two others were up on military charges for some racial stuff. I submitted a statement in their defense that they were not racist, and I had served very closely with him for years.


Now today I am not sure. In your opinion, what can be done to bridge the divide that has occurred in families?


Can you please share a story or example? Families white and nonwhite need to face the truth as the real, truth. Lied, misinformation, and disinformation have fueled the present crazy we see today.


The truth about Slavery to emancipation 1619 to 1890

The truth about Jim Crow Society 1870 to 1935

The truth about 40 Acres and a mule/The homestead Act

The truth about Separate but equal education 1896 to 1954

The truth about Labor Market Discrimination 1935 to 1965

The truth about GI Bill 1935 to 1965

The truth about the rewriting history of America


Those that are people of color need to also see things as they are and understand that they need to step up, work together and step by step take back their power. Rebuild their families and communities. Invest and reinvest in their people and their communities first on all fronts.


Economic is one of the keys to gaining power. Working together as a people for their own people is another. Waiting, hoping, and praying for things to change is not and has not worked.


We need to work with those that will really work with us and move forward. How about the workplace, what can be done to bridge the partisan divide that has fractured relationships there?


Can you please share a story or example?


Be fair and honest. The decks have been marked for hundreds of years against the many by the few for way too long. I think one of the causes of our divide comes from the fact that many of us see a political affiliation as the primary way to self-identify.


But of course, there are many other ways to self-identify. What do you think can be done to address this? People want to one belong, and two believe that they are right, sadly many want these things more than everyone could imagine and at a price that is higher them the rest of us are willing to pay.


They believe that just because they and their associates say it is true it must be true. We must face the real facts and address them as a nation. It is clear that they are here, and they will not go away as long as we continue to act like they are not real. These cancers have been eating away at us for generations.


One day there will be nothing left to save worth saving. The work needs to start immediately.


Much ink has been spilled about how social media companies and partisan media companies continue to make money off creating a split in our society. Sadly the cat is out of the bag and at least in the near term, there is no turning back. Social media and partisan media have a vested interest in maintaining the divide, but as individuals none of us benefit by continuing this conflict. What can we do moving forward to not let social media divide us?


We need to Stop it all!


These media companies and partisan media companies need to lose their means of sharing and inseminating their failures and damaging content. They should also be sued and heavily fined for the damages caused.


Let's be honest if I sell you a product that I know can and will cause harm am I not responsible. What can we do moving forward to not let partisan media pundits divide us?


Call it out and deal with it directly. Stop supporting these companies and they will go away. They do these things for power and control. Remove their ability to profit and like un-watered plants they will fade away. At the same time place a light on them that is so bright and strong that it burns them off the surface.


Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each. Here are my five things.


1. Make racism and all things like it, real crimes and enforce the laws behinds it. Presently racist, homophobic, actions go unpunished and/or excused.


2. Place term limits on all public officials’ positions. These career politicians and judges are destroying our nation there should be term and age limited. On all branches of the government. If we find they are doing wrong, they should be removed once the wrong (s) are proven.


3. Pay reparations to African Americans and improve education for middle and lower classes. There have been generations of wrongs done to black people and many are still happening today.


4. Remove big money and influence from politics on all levels. For the people and by the people means just that. Yet we live in America that is for the corporation and run by it corporations i.e. Big Money. People who continually share and spread lies that hurt the nation and that nation’s people should be very heavily fined, jailed, and then banded from any and every platform


5. Believe in change, pay attention, and take positive action every chance you get. Read, research, invest in yourself, step outside of your comfort zones and grow. This must be a team effort and each of us has to take responsibility, action, and play our parts.


Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done. ” Simply put, is there anything else we can do to ‘just be nicer to each other’?


We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved?


Can you explain?

I am optimistic and I am also realistic. So, in that regard, I follow, Sun Tzs Art of War


If you could tell young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our society, like you, what would you tell them?


Mindset your present and that will help you to create your future.


Plan but always remember and understand that change will always appear.


But ready to adjust and take corrective action. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?


He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)


Former President of the United States Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama


Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th district


How can our readers follow you online? www.positiveselfdefense.org


This was very meaningful and thank you so much for the time you spent on this interview. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


Thank you for this opportunity.

Best, Zurriane A. Bennett


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