Jinho Ferreira I grew up there in Oakland, in Berkeley during the crack epidemic.
I didn’t know the names of any cops. They were just people that drove up and down the street and arrested people.
My mother was adamant in proving to her children that life that we saw outside of our front door was not normal. This is not the normal state of Black people.
And she taught me that I could do anything that I put my mind to. Period.
I got with my band Flipsyde and we toured the world.
It was evidence that what my mother was telling me was true. But one of the people from that crew, the original crew, he got killed by the police. Jihad Akhbar, who I call my brother.
No matter how many times I played it over and over again in my head, one cop pulled the trigger and killed my partner Jihad. What made him make that decision? If I was a cop on scene, would I have shot my partner, Jihad?
And I know that I can’t know everybody. But if I was in uniform, man, I sure would try to get out there and meet everybody. At least I could try.
So then it just turned into a why not? Why not me?
David Kyuman Kim Jinho “Piper” Ferreira is a rapper from West Oakland, California. He wanted to make a real difference to end police brutality, so he became a deputy sheriff and patrolled the community where he grew up.
I’m David Kyuman Kim, visiting scholar at UC Berkeley School of Law, filling this week for Dacher Keltner on The Science of Happiness.
Jinho joins us today after trying a practice to cultivate intellectual humility, which is just the awareness that some of your beliefs might be wrong, and it involves being open to other points of view.
David Kyuman Kim Welcome back to The Science of Happiness, I’m David Kyuman Kim, filling in this week for Dacher Keltner.
Jinho Piper Ferreira is a playwright, a rapper, and a former deputy sheriff. His band Flipsyde toured the world with artists like Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes.
While on tour in 2009, a 22-year-old unarmed Black man, Oscar Grant, was shot and killed by police in Jinho’s home town of Oakland
Grant’s murder was one of many. Jinho wanted to make real change to end police violence – so he became a deputy sheriff himself. He was on the force for eight years before resigning in 2019.
Jinho’s here with us today after trying a practice of intellectual humility. It asks us to consider how our memories and understanding of the world might be fallible, so we might not have all the answers.
Jinho, thank you so much for coming on The Science of Happiness.
Jinho Ferreira Thanks for having me. Happiness is a good thing.
David Kyuman-Kim I hear you. So we asked you to try this practice in intellectual humility. When you find yourself in a conflict of opinion, you try to remind yourself that your knowledge of that topic is limited — none of us can ever know everything. But you’ve actually had a lot of experience with this. You did this extraordinary thing which is became a cop yourself in order to fight police violence against your community
David Kyuman-Kim How did intellectual humility factor into your work as an officer?
Jinho Ferreira I mean, hundreds of ways a day just in how you talk to a person. When you’re a cop, you see what America’s afraid of. You see what America is shamelessly afraid of, you know, they’re going to call the cops. There’s this person prowling my house and then you show up and he’s just on a phone, an argument with his girlfriend in front of our house. You know? Yeah. So how do you handle that? There are a number of different ways you can handle that to treat them like a suspect. Or you can just start talking to him and see where his mind is and see what’s going on. And then cancel the call.
Jinho Ferreira You show up on the scene and everyone is the hero in their story. Yeah, everyone is right. You know, even the person that just robbed the lady is right. I’ve been trying to get a job. I can’t find one. I got shot. I’m handicapped. I got a limp in my right my right leg is longer than my left even. He’s right, you know.
And when you get there, you have your training and your training has a place. But whatever human being you were for the past 20, 25, 30, 40 years, that’s going to factor into it. That’s going to largely factor into it for sure.
David Kyuman Kim Well, but did you feel like when you demonstrated some humility that had an effect on the people you’re engaging when you were police?
Jinho Ferreira Definitely, yeah. Because when you’re when you’re a police officer, when — I was a deputy — yeah. When you’re a deputy, you have power.
29:14 it’s so easy to bring down the system on someone else’s head. It’s so easy to do that.
So when you show up and you can, you know, shift your mindset in to a lower power individual’s mindset and look at things through their eyes, it makes for better communication when you’re on scene.
David Kyuman Kim And it makes for better connection. It makes for better community.
Jinho Ferreira Right.
David Kyuman Kim Yeah. To bridge these divides.
Jinho Ferreira To bridge. These divides. Yeah, definitely.
David Kyuman Kim That’s very powerful.
David Kyuman Kim So, you know, for the practice you tried, you went through a set of questions that you ask yourself. And when you find yourself disagreeing with someone, the questions go something along these lines. Why do I disagree? Do I have all the information about this? Am I making any assumptions? How did I come to hold this view and where did I get this information? And then you flip it around and then you ask yourself all those same questions about the other person and their view. Where did their beliefs come from? What information might they have that I don’t? And you know what happened, like when you thought about these questions? Like what? Give us an example of it.
Jinho Ferreira I mean, I was in a band meeting talking to one of my band members.
He said something about the direction of the band. And, you know, I disagreed. Right.
David Kyuman Kim What did the disagreement look like?
Jinho Ferreira We’re on Zoom, we’re having our weekly meeting. So we weren’t in the same room. And it’s good that we weren’t in the same room because I can get a little animated and, you know, get excited. Yeah. And that skews the result. And we’re talking about bringing partners in to help us along. So, you know, my side of the argument was we need to be very cautious about who we decide to stand next to. And his perspective was, you know, it doesn’t really matter. We need to just focus on the good and go forward. I interpreted his his statements as trying to be controlling. And I just wasn’t having it. When you’re emotional, you do not want to do anything cerebral. Like no. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, do I really want to solve this problem or do I just want to go to war? And it’s like, I want to go to war, right? You know, but it’s like, okay, let’s solve this problem.
David Kyuman Kim I’m curious, did going through these questions in your mind change the situation with your bandmate?
Jinho Ferreira I was able to see that there was a lot of emotional baggage fueling my disagreement. There’s a lot of projection, you know, so it asks, do I have all the evidence? Definitely not. You know, you never do. Are you projecting things? Yes, absolutely. Because you’re filtering we each filter the world around us through our experiences, you know, our life experiences. And that’s what we do. That’s what our brains do to keep us alive.
David Kyuman Kim And so what happened with this, this bandmate of yours?
Jinho Ferreira I was able to shift from interpreting his stance as manipulative or there being a lack of boldness. I shifted from that to, knowing his commitment to love and the peace and positivity and I was able to, view his opinion as just having a commitment to unity and not joining the divisive energy, but being naive in how he would be perceived by taking that stance. So then we were able to, you know, recalibrate and have a discussion from that point.
David Kyuman-Kim And what was the outcome?
Jinho Ferreira what came out of it was we started to create a seminar, started to create a seminar where we’re going to play music and and talk and tell our stories, and try to move people forward out of there, you know, from their obstacles in their lives. So that’s something beautiful that came out of it. And now we have something else to work on together.
David Kyuman Kim Well, that’s beautiful.
Jinho Ferreira But, you know, as far as disagreeing with people, man, there’s just passive disagreement and then there’s emotional disagreement. So this was a good practice in taking you out of your emotions. Taking me out of my emotions and. Making it more of a conscious type thing.
David Kyuman Kim And you know, I have to say that you have this amazing ability to integrate things into your life. And that you have demonstrated a lifetime of wanting to make the world better. I mean, what, what an amazing combination of things.
Jinho Ferreira Thank you.
David Kyuman-Kim Man, and I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.
Jinho Ferreira I appreciate this experience. I’m going to continue on a path learning. I have the notes there in my phone. I’ll refer to them. And thanks for having me. I’m honored to be able to come in and, you know, tell a piece of my life and give a piece of my mind. Thank you.
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso It seems like intellectual humility is associated with a lot of things that benefit relationships and that benefit society.
David Kyuman Kim More on the science of intellectual humility, after this break.
David Kyuman Kim Welcome back to The Science of Happiness, I’m David Kyuman Kim, filling in this week for Dacher Keltner.
We’ve been talking about the concept of intellectual humility with Jinho Piper Ferreira.
Jinho found that by slowing down in an argument with his bandmate and asking himself – how did this other person come to believe what they believe? – He was able to calmly navigate the conflict, and come to a resolution.
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso Often we think that, Oh, I know what color my bag is, or I know how this happened. And so it really helps to these interpersonal relationships if we can in the moment realize, you know, this is what I remember, but I could be remembering this wrong or I could be wrong about this.
David Kyuman-Kim That’s Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies intellectual humility.
She wanted to explore the connection between intellectual humility and the tendency to care about the well-being of others
So she surveyed over three hundred adults and had them rate how much they agree with statements like …
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso I’m willing to change my mind once it’s been made up about an important topic.
I often have tender concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso What I saw is that intellectual humility is associated really with all of the positive qualities that I was looking at. And so asking yourself some systematic questions like that can really help you challenge some of those cognitive biases that are just happening often beneath the surface without realizing it.
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso She thinks empathy might be the driving force of this.
Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso People think of empathy more as the emotional side of things like I feel for other people, you know, but empathy also has a more cognitive side which involves perspective taking. Like, I canenvision what it would be like to be in this other person’s shoes.
People who are humble are able to look past themselves enough and look past their own interests enough to recognize the needs of other people And that’s why they’re more open to caring for other people
I don’t know about you, but like for me that would benefit all of my relationships and I think that would benefit communities, that would benefit society
David Kyuman-Kim Dr. Krumrei-Mancuso says we’re just beginning to understand the science behind intellectual humility and how it affects our well-being.
But we do know that it’s linked to more openness, curiosity, and a real desire to learn more.
David Kyuman-Kim Next time on The Science of Happiness: Mustering up a sincere apology can be one of the hardest things we have to do, but they’re so important to all our relationships.
Sam Dugan Nate he’s, you know, like the last person I should be cranky with. I was not so niice to him.
David Kyuman-Kim We explore how to make an apology more effective through mindfulness.
I’m David Kyuman-Kim, filling in this week for Dacher Keltner. Thanks for joining us on The Science of Happiness.
You can learn more about intellectual humility and questions you can ask yourself in our show notes. We also have links to articles exploring the concept, and Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso’s research.
This episode was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, as part of our project on “Expanding Awareness of the Science of Intellectual Humility.” For more on the project, go to ggsc.berkeley.edu/IH.
As always, share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Our Executive Producer of Audio is Shuka Kalantari. Our producer is Haley Gray. Sound designer Jennie Cataldo of Accompany Studios. Our editor in chief is Jason Marsh. The Science of Happiness is a co-production of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and PRX.
Haley Gray Hi, I’m Haley Gray a producer at The Science of Happiness. We want to give a special thanks to Jinho Ferreira and his band Flipsyde, a lot of the music you heard in this episode was by them. Find a link to more of their music in our show notes.