Summary of The Three Tells

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In the United States, fortune favors the wealthy. Influential people abuse their positions to remain in power while justifying their actions to the public they supposedly serve. Eric Liu, co-founder of Citizen University, describes three “tells,” or revealing behaviors, that act as red flags for oppression. Liu’s bold, eloquent presentation teaches social activists and responsible citizens to discern injustice and exercise their voices in fighting the good fight.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How certain phrases used by the wealthy and the media serve as statements of oppression,
  • What three statements, or “tells,” warn that oppression is occurring,
  • Why it is important to stand up to oppressive statements rather than accept them as logical rationalizations of inaction by those in power.
 

About the Speaker

Eric Liu is a senior law lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law. He co-founded Citizen University.

 

Summary

In the United States, the “game of opportunity” unfairly benefits the rich. In fact, “Congress enacts only the preferences of the wealthy.” When it passes legislation that aids the middle class or poor, it does so only because the rich also stand to gain. “Civic game-riggers” are aware that they profit unfairly from an unjust system but refuse to acknowledge this fact. Rather, they attempt to conceal the truth and preserve the status quo, but three “tells” betray their intentions. Ordinary citizens who encounter these statements should perceive them as power plays and prepare to fight back against oppression:


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