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Sheinelle, Al and Dylan on what comes next: 'Normal isn't OK anymore'

The TODAY co-hosts discussed why they think returning to normal would be "losing sight of what this whole nightmare is about in the first place."
/ Source: TODAY

One thing Sheinelle Jones doesn't want at the end of the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's death is a return to normalcy.

The co-host shared her view on that sentiment as part of an ongoing conversation about race with Al Roker and Dylan Dreyer on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday.

"I think we're all wrestling with this desire to get back to a place where it was a little bit more peaceful, but I think if we allow ourselves to say 'I just want to get back to normal,' that to me is the problem," she said.

"For some people, normal is fine, but for so many people who've felt disenfranchised and frustrated, for them normal isn't OK any more. Even though it's uncomfortable, I think we have to sit in a place where we have to acknowledge that normal isn't necessarily OK, so if we want to get back to a new normal, then fine. But to just say, 'Oh, I just want things to go back to normal,' that's just kind of to me losing sight of what this whole nightmare is about in the first place."

The protests against racial injustice following Floyd's death in the custody of the Minneapolis police have sparked conversations and outrage across the country at the way African Americans are treated by the U.S. justice system.

They also have prompted Al, Sheinelle and Craig Melvin to reveal the difficult conversations they have had with their children about being black and biracial in America, as well as the misguided notion of raising children to be "colorblind."

The TODAY co-hosts hope it can be a moment to spark fundamental change, rather than calls for life to return to what it was like before the protests.

"People don't like change," Al said. "Segregation, that was normal, and it changed, and suddenly we get a new normal and after a while, that was normal. I think the issue is that we don't know when or how or how long it's going to take to find that spot."

"If there is a chance to get to a new normal, this could be the ideal time," Dylan said. "Because of the coronavirus and the pandemic and us being home, being so aware of the news and everything that's going on, everything is different in all aspects of our life for everyone across the board. Everything has to be a new normal anyway so if there's a way we can harness that in the situation that we're in because of the pandemic, let's just change it all right now."

Dylan admitted that she recently had a conversation with her mother about race for the first time in her life, which was eye-opening to Sheinelle.

"I appreciate your honesty Dylan, because I think as much as everybody's saying 'I want to learn from you,' we're learning from each other in many ways because I have to tell you, it never crossed my mind that you wouldn't have talked about race, but why would you?" Sheinelle said.

"I talk about race every day. I can't think of a time when it doesn't come up. Very rarely, every day somehow, some way, whether we're at the store and something happens, it's just always in the air, and so, wow! And there are a lot of people that are like, 'Must be nice, I wish I didn't have to talk about it all the time.'"

Al and Craig also reflected earlier this week that their white colleagues have reached out to them for one-on-one conversations about race more than ever before.

"I think that's maybe the model going forward," Al said on Wednesday. "You don't have to change a thousand people's minds, you just have to reach out to one person, and that person reach out to somebody, and then we go down the line."

While the protests have brought racial issues to the forefront, there also have been numerous instances of destruction and looting.

"Listen, we are all in this together, no one wants to see things on fire," Sheinelle said. "It is a scary time and no one wants this. I think we're all trying to figure out, how do we stop this? Because we understand the protests, but the looting has to stop. We can't afford to keep burning, but we also understand why this is happening. How do we stop this?"