Justn Ist: “Passion, it is essential to selling your vision”

I think the greatest progress for the world is for people to look within for a while. We’re so busy judging, condemning, hating, and demanding things from others and from “the world”, we’ve seemed to have lost the sense of self. Am I being the best person I can be? Am I being friendly, helpful, […]

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I think the greatest progress for the world is for people to look within for a while. We’re so busy judging, condemning, hating, and demanding things from others and from “the world”, we’ve seemed to have lost the sense of self. Am I being the best person I can be? Am I being friendly, helpful, and respectful towards other in an effective way or I am just judging whether others are in line with my personal beliefs?

From a movement standpoint, I hope that a nationwide coalition is formed to protect those against unfair political correctness. It may be helping to stop someone who is fired or the victim of cancel culture, it may be to pressure a corporation to not give in to unreasonable woke demands, etc.

As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Justn Ist.

Justn Ist was born in California in a suburban middle-class upbringing. Like many of the youth of his time, he grew up wearing hand-me-downs and eating TV dinners. Going out to dinner was a luxury, reserved for the once or twice a year celebration. In America, even a single father like Justn’s could raise his kids, wisely save and invest.

After getting his Bachelor’s degree, Justn met his beautiful wife at work. Although he was white and she Hispanic, they never heard a scoff, received a dirty look or other hint of disapproval from others. With black cousins, nieces and nephews, they had the ultimate diverse family.

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the country seemed to be entering a post-racial era. By 2008, the U.S. proudly elected its first black President. Yes, there were still individual acts of prejudice and racism, but overall the society enjoyed an openness and acceptance to others.

Then something happened. The voices echoing from the campus lecture halls to the Hollywood microphone grew louder and louder about unfairness, injustice, and racism. There was a desperation, a pleading in their tone at first that was neglected by the evidence — the reality around them. But, like a wounded animal fighting for its existence, the quiet cries turned into deafening screeches. As the words reverberated through the years and the claims became more extreme, they gathered a fervor and rage not seen before, morphing into a dark and ugly hubris.

Justn and those around him were shocked at these cries especially when every statistical measure consistently showed the opposite trend. They began to wonder if they were just insulated, blind to the truth. “Un-Corrected,” Justn’s first published work, was the result of this search for an answer.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

I was a latchkey kid raised by a single father. The kitchen table immediately gave away to any visitor the lack of a female presence in our house. There was perpetually a bottle of sticky syrup practically cemented to the table. One could literally read the imprint of a wet newspaper that seeped through over time and stained the table with ink.

In our mostly white suburban town, I recall the neighborhood children had more prejudice towards others at first. But, in the end the kids of all stripes played together. When visiting my Black cousins, it was my brother and I who were the odd ones out. But, it gave me some perspective in knowing what it was like to be the different one in the crowd.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?

In my youth, I learned about Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr and how they stood up for true equality. They didn’t do it with violence or forcing their adversaries to kneel before them but with a message of peace that struck the soul of humanity. It taught me how far we’ve come in the world. We need to respect that and acknowledge the strides we’ve made in racial harmony. As we’ve moved away from their teachings in recent years and more towards this new “woke” ideology, I believe we have regressed in race relations.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

I remember watching a film called “PCU” about a fictional university that was so politically correct that a group of students rebelled against it. Although, it wasn’t exactly the best movie, it had the perfect sentiment that I was feeling. So, this film had to be made in around the 2019/2020 timeframe, right? Actually, it was made in 1994. Can you imagine what those filmmakers would say today? I’ve been thinking about the problem of political correctness for over 20 years. But good luck finding the film on Netflix, Amazon, or cable TV, it’s all but been wiped from the annals of history. You would think that the star power of Jeremy Piven, David Spade and Jon Favreau should give it an occasional airing on the cable channels. It makes you wonder.

It took until the 2015/2016 era to begin writing the book. The narrative that came forward after the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, MO, hatched the first ideas for Un-Corrected. It became clear from the evidence and ensuing investigation by the Eric Holder Justice Department under President Obama that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” never happened and it was ruled that the police officer acted in self-defense. But, the narrative of Hands Up lives on to this day. Why didn’t the truth matter to the protestors? Why wasn’t the media more forthcoming and insistent on correcting their misreporting and the narrative they helped popularize? Police officers were shot in the ensuing unrest from this incident. The murder of police officers continued to rise nationwide thereafter. I started to think about how political correctness and false narratives were affecting our society — and in some cases lives are literally at stake.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

I hope that people will see the terrible divisiveness and destruction that can result for political correctness run amok. Let me clarify that we should all be kind and respectful to others. But, there is a line…and the book explores where the balance should lie. If we are going to be a colorblind and fair society, we need to quit looking at everyone through lens of race, color, gender, and sexuality all of the time. Convincing everyone that they are a victim is not beneficial to anyone — except perhaps those who are fundraising and profiting from it.

Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?

The book has just recently been launched, so it’s a bit early to measure. But, people seem to be waking up to the idea that the pendulum has swung way too far when it comes to political correctness. Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Bill Burr, John Cleese, Jim Norton and others have recently spoken out against it.

The corporations will be the real test. They are deathly afraid of the handful of activists who may turn public opinion against them unless they fall in line with their woke dogma. They do so while irritating the silent 99.999% of us. We need to stop being silent. We need a coalition of people on both the right and left to help defend individuals and companies that are under assault. Stopping overt political correctness is something that could finally unite us.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.

I’ll know the movement is in full swing when on a talk show if someone tries a woke argument, the crowd begins to boo. When the audience values common sense and free speech over an empty virtue signal, the tide will be turning.

On a bigger scale, when ideas like Proposition 16 are not put on the ballots anymore, I know my goal has been achieved. In 2020, over 7 million Californians voted to allow the discrimination of people based on the color of their skin in supporting Proposition 16. I’m serious, it says exactly that in the proposed state constitutional amendment. When a proposition almost passes, in this day and age, that allows people to be discriminated against based on skin color — no matter the rationalization behind it — the time to take action is now.

I want everyone to realize that it does NOT make you a racist or a bad person to say you don’t believe in the woke ideology. Most Americans are decent people who do not have hate in their hearts for other races and genders. We’re not a perfect nation, but we get better every decade and every year. How can there be racial harmony when one group of people is told that they are inherently privileged, flawed, and their successes are not their own? What happens to the psyche of the youth of so-called disadvantaged groups when they are constantly told that they can’t achieve success on their own, that they need a boost up solely based on the color of their skin? I hope the readers will ask questions on this topic and challenge the narratives that they hear.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

With the controversy of the book, everyone takes it a bit differently. In some circles, I’d lose a favorability poll to Hitler and Bin Laden. However, most people seem to agree with a great deal of my book, but not necessarily with all of it. But, that’s the idea. We don’t have to all 100% agree to get along and to find a healthy path forward for the country. We should be able to talk about issues like race and gender without putting people in a box labeled “good” or “bad” depending on your point of view. Political correctness takes away the discussion, denying the opportunity for context. There is an instant judgement taking place, where ideas and conversation are shut down. Context is where the deeper truth can be found.

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?

It’s heartwarming to see people whom I know who have read it start to push back and resist the woke ideology. A friend that I’ve had since childhood recently read the book. As a gay man in the SF Bay Area, he has been around the ultra-PC ideology and gradually has adopted a few of the same ideas. After reading Un-Corrected, he understood the point of view of that unfettered political correctness can do great harm. It’s been inspiring to see him question the woke dogma and I’ve enjoyed having conversations with he and his friends on the topic. There is now a whole group around him who are more resistant to seeing themselves as victims and who are more open to respectfully discussing complex and sensitive issues. In turn, their feedback has been helpful to me and I understand more about their viewpoints. That is a key goal of the book, to have people feel confident enough in each other to have these discussions.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

In promoting the book on social media, I’ve received some threats. It’s ironic that it’s the “enlightened” crowd that is threatening the violence. To borrow from the Armstrong & Getty Show, factions of the PC crowd are “punching violence in the face” to solve the problem. Yes, there are risks in writing this book. But, we are ALL going to have to be willing to take some risks if we are going to keep our freedoms and the wonderful American culture that we all enjoy.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

Books are an effective medium for conveying complex and important messages. The reader can comprehend the material at their own pace, allowing time for reflection, consideration. There is also something about the power of messages when told through the written word, the permanence of it. Social media can make people angry and emotional, but books launch movements with staying power.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Perseverance and discipline. I’m a business executive in my “other life.” If you have passion in your craft and stick with it, improving every day, the path to success being easier.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?

Writing a book in a genre that wasn’t a good fit for me ultimately led to failure. I started a book that morphed into an action-adventure and it seemed to steer out of my control. It wasn’t my strong suit or my interest. In Un-Corrected, I focused on a theme that was my passion. I was more careful to lay out the outline before diving too deep. Focusing on a political satire was right up my alley and has made all of the difference.

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers need to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)

Passion, it is essential to selling your vision. As mentioned above, perseverance and discipline are critical. I remember reading a stock investment book years ago and the advice was to buy what you know if you were buying individual stocks. If you like to fix up and customize motorcycles, buy Harley Davidson, not Pepsi stock. The concept applies to what you write about. The knowledge and passion will shine through. Research is an important element for sparking a movement. You need to know your history and be fluent in the topic. As Heinlein said “A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.” I believe that the reason the PC culture has taken hold is because of the lack of knowledge of history the latest generations have. Movements like the 1619 Project is utter nonsense to any historian, or anyone with a modicum of understanding of our history. But the opportunity to look enlightened, especially on “hey, look at me” social media, can spread its poisonous message like a pandemic.

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?

I think the greatest progress for the world is for people to look within for a while. We’re so busy judging, condemning, hating, and demanding things from others and from “the world”, we’ve seemed to have lost the sense of self. Am I being the best person I can be? Am I being friendly, helpful, and respectful towards other in an effective way or I am just judging whether others are in line with my personal beliefs?

From a movement standpoint, I hope that a nationwide coalition is formed to protect those against unfair political correctness. It may be helping to stop someone who is fired or the victim of cancel culture, it may be to pressure a corporation to not give in to unreasonable woke demands, etc.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Honestly, I think social media has been a large contributor to our PC culture. The anonymity, the medium, etc. How can we have a deep conversation about sensitive issues in 128 characters where meaning, a starting point of trust and true connection is lost. Plus 90% of the communication (the non-verbal) is also absent.

That said, I do want to connect with those who truly seek a conversation. So, I will be completely hypocritical and provide my Twitter handle @IstJustin. I can also be reached at JustnIst.com

Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.

Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.

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