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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  October 22, 2013 8:00am-8:30am EDT

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any other generation before us in the african-american community. more crossover power, and we have the ability to make things happen. these events are coming together. i do not think it is directly effect of the president. the president is a direct effect of these larger policies of affirmative action. >> you are speaking of clarence thomas, the only african- american. if justice thomas was here he would say the opposite. african-americans have been stigmatized by affirmative action and your argument is it opened up the door to this goodness and enrichment we are being exposed to. >> absolutely. where would clarence thomas b without affirmative action? he would never have gotten into yale. i would not have gotten into yale. the class of 1966 that yale had six like men. then 1996.
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was there a genetic blip in rac e? to have a quo on roman catholics as well as by people and i am sure they had one on jewish people as well. those of us who benefited from at theone that stands gates and let more people in, the gates can keep other people out and unfortunately justice thomas i believe falls into that latter category. the value iswhat of our being exposed to all of these various films and documentaries, specifically on "the african americans: many rivers to cross." >> every time there is a racist incident, politicians call for a on race. they mean a feel-good session or
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a town meeting, you accuse and apologize and sing, "we shall overcome" at the end and everyone goes home feeling better and there is another murder of a black boy. what -- where do real conversations about citizenship occur? think about what you learn in first grade. i pledge allegiance to the flag. your teacher was shaping you to be a citizen but she never said i'm going to teach you how to be it iszen or today citizenship lessons. they did it by demonstration. that is where we have to put the conversation about race and the reason that i wanted to do this series, the first comprehensive treatment of the whole sweep of african-american history is though cosby -- since bill cosby did his in 1968 was to provide the tools through which a teacher could incorporate african-american history into
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the story, the grand narrative of the founding of america, its settlement, its people in, and it's great prosperity over the last several centuries. tavis: your statement that professor gates assumes that people want that history to be taught, this is not the kind of stuff they want in the curriculum. >> we do not have to be anecdotal. the southern poverty law center published a story examining how the civil rights movement is taught. you would think with mlk day, how many times do you hear "i have a dream" in january and february ? only three states get an eight. only three states get a b. 35 states get an f including the great state of california. that is reprehensible. the first thing we have to do is provide the tools so we have a dvd with six hours of impeccably researched history.
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we have a great companion book. and now we have to lobby the school district, state legislatures, to put african- american history where it alongside in the classroom. and not only is a separate course because most legislatures will not do that. i am talking about integrating the stories so that, let's say not only do we learn about george washington, we learn about the slave kerry washington. he ran away from mount vernon and fought for the british and then when the british lost, went to nova scotia with the free black community, the former black patriots and then when nova scotia did not work out, they went to sierra leone and settled there. that tells a former story of american history and george washington than simply george washington chop on the terror -- the cherrywnee and did not
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tree and did not tell a lie. tavis: this is six weeks, every time and a different episode of "the african americans: many rivers to cross," brought to us by professor gates. back to your wine earlier of the data brought to us by the southern poverty law center about what is not being taught in schools, help me understand why you feel this will be or can be? the first thing you have to do is provide a well researched product. something that conforms to the highest scholarly standards and the highest standards of production. we have done that. all i can do is provide them because my first hat is i am a teacher but i am an activist. influential activists like you and the black congressional caucus, all those legislatures and organizations like the naacp and that national urban league to join with me and help to demand, to lobby for the
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integration of black content into the curriculum. i cannot do that alone. i can make a documentary series. the second has to be a team effort and we have to recognize that as politically important as raising the percentage of black people in the middle-class or reducing the number of black men in prison or reducing the poverty level. it is of crucial importance because the only way you can combat racism systematically i think is through the classroom. effortlessly, and visibly. not only teaching about race and racism in black history month, we are teaching about it every day. we are teaching about the reflectingamerica as a black presence every day effortlessly. we have to do that with the new curriculum. tavis: this oak is published by
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-- book is published by smiley books. a beautiful book. it is beautifully done by a wonderful team. this was the companion to what you are seeing on pbs. real piece of work create i want to talk specifically about the six part series and without going through much faster too much detail. what are we going to see tomorrow night? in 1513 wheretart no other series has started. when we took african-american history we always start in 1690. jamestown, the first african americans landed at a place called port comfort.
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we now know thanks to the work of historians like john thornton and linda haywood, they are from angola. everyone starts the story there but they were not the first africans to come to what is now the united states. the first african came in 1513. he was a free black man, not a slave and his name was juan garrito and he came with pots leon,on, -- ponce de looking for the fountain of youth like a white guy. he goes with cortez all the way to baja, california, mexico, looking for the mythical black amazons and he comes back to mexico city and files a petition in 1538 to the king of spain asking for pension and he claims, this is how you know he is a brother. he claims to have invented the growing of wheat. because -- your majesty, i also
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invented wheat. we have his portrait. we have a picture of him. the first slave whose name we know came in 1528, his name was esther von -- estaban. peopleon a ship with 600 that was shipwrecked. he turns out to be of really linguist and becomes a translator. he wondered all the way to arizona, new mexico, and back and goes back again, 15,000 miles. this brother some more of the continental united states than any other non-native american before lewis and clark. we start with this contrast between a free black man and a black man who was a slave to show that the black experience, the story of black america was always multivalent, multilayered. it was always complex. it was not always about slaves or free people or whatever. we move from there to tell the story of anthony johnson.
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in jamestown. -- 1525 and25 gained his freedom in some way. even he was -- it or at an indentured servant. 250 acres and has white indentured servants working for him and a black man. we know that because in 1654 the black man either took him to court or he took the black man to court because the black man said i should be treated as an indentured servant like the white servants and get my freedom after seven years. anthony johnson says you are my slave for life and anthony johnson wins and that codifies slavery as a race-based thing in virginia thereafter. it is cap located. -- complicated. that we havehow been in this country for half a millennium and that we have had lots of ups and downs.
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it is a story of travail and suffering but also of great triumph. even ending with the second inauguration of president obama is in extending. you would think it is a note of triumph on one hand. a black man is elected and reelected at the same time we have 75% of live births out of wedlock, we have the highest male prison rate for african- americans in our history. the percentage of black children living at her been a poverty line is in the mid-30%. you know what it was on dr. king died, just slightly higher. we did this to deconstruct this idea that we are somehow in a post-racial society because president obama was elected and
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reelected. questionwas asked a and i gave the answer to the question i was asked. some people tried to label that as me smashing the president. >> someone accused you of doing that, why would they do that? i was asked a question and i answered the question. offafrican-americans better five years into the obama presidency and the answer as you and i both know is no. you just lay that out. if you look at the data. substantively, we are not. all hell breaks loose about tavis smiley smashing the president and that is not what it was. the data is going to indicate on myhad austin goolsby radio show last week. he concurs with this point. the data is going to indicate that obama is out of office
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after eight years, black people lost ground in every single leading economic indicator, category. something magical would have to happen for that not to be the case. >> i do not know the state of the let's presume it was true. -- the data but let's presume it is true. after 500 years of history, we know that this is not obama's fault but i am getting to a question which is this. 50 orll the historians, 100 or 200 years from now when historians look back, how will they juxtapose that in the era of the first black president after being 500 years, we lost ground in all these categories? those indicesme
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are true and a lot can happen in the next three years and let's hope that it does. given the recalcitrance of the tea party. the silent second term motivating the tea party is the word race. i think the people in the tea party are -- some are clearly disturbed ideologically by a government but subconsciously at least they are totally obsessed with having a black man in the white house. many of these guys would rather see the country go bankrupt then for a black man to succeed. i would say that it would show the limited effect of an individual to transform large systemic forces that have a long history. ofrting with three centuries slavery, for centuries of slavery and a century of jim crow. you cannot wave a wand and change all that magically. you just cannot which is why i think that americans need to understand the deleterious
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historical impact, the lasting impact of where -- the way our ancestors were treated. even one man is brilliant and charismatic as barack obama cannot come in and erase centuries of systematic institutional dissemination against our people. we started by talking about affirmative action. class isk upper-middle- quadrupled so people like you and i having this conversation, it is -- it was impossible to do this for decades ago. and you will see my book -- publishing my book, you are a one-person media empire. at the same time it is almost as if the system lettuce and and shut the door -- let us in and shut the door on everyone else. so how we can begin to address the problems facing black america economically and that is the single failure of the civil rights group. very few of the leaders in the history of civil rights had an economic analysis because we thought it was a matter of
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xenophobia. here are the black man. fear of the black face, the black bodied but blackness coded for deeper economic analysis and i know cornell west agrees. the printable effect of the civil rights movement is the creation of a new black upper class and maybe he was right. i think that we need more theomic-based solutions to problems afflicting the black community and that is a way to redefine affirmative action. i grew up before why people -- white people in west virginia and there is a culture of poverty. i have seen why people perform exactly the same pathological forms of behavior as black people do when they are systematically deprived, whether it is getting pregnant, doing drugs, dropping out of school, whatever we are talking about. we should have affirmative action for poor white people, too. tavis: what is the message for
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black people who are watching the series, all americans will watch it on pbs but specifically for african-americans. we know that we are still dealing with the impact and the reverberation of this history. what is the message to us because history is written backwards and our lives are lived forwards. >> i will quote you on that root.com. is true on -- of the episodes, we made our ancestors made our way. they had no reason to believe in the future. no reason to believe in the future yet they believed in the future and deferred gratification. they valued education as a lives generations' depended on it even though they saw no end to slavery. very few black people embraced back to africa it movements.
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a tiny movement -- number went back to africa. they said we are going to make america live up to the ideas of the constitution and they produced one of the world's great cultures and individuals who were just as brilliant and made contributions to the world civilization. they produced a world civilization, a world-class civilization in music, dance, oratory, religion, writing. the great miracles in human civilization. i think it means that each individual has the responsibility to get out of bed and learn the abcs and learn your math tables and not use race and racism as an excuse. sex, youwants to have do not have to have a baby when you're 16. you do not have to do drugs. our churches should be turned into black history schools and computer schools like hebrew
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schools for jewish people. chinese or korean on the weekend. we have to stop making excuses. one of the things i am careful to show is that her and this affects of institutional instructions and -- institutional instructional racism. you cannot wait for a black man or white hand -- a white man to ride in on a horse and save you. with what you said about saving ourselves. do you get these -- how do you get these black people to care about a future they will never see? ancestors our slave do it, what made them believe that one day if they kept on keeping on that there would be a tavis smiley and there would be a skip gates? i do not know. it was america. one of the most astonishing developments and mysterious development in human history that the slaves believed, kept the faith so we could be here today.
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tavis: "the african americans: many rivers to cross the book is called "the african americans: many rivers to cross -- the book is called "the african americans: many rivers to cross ." it everye seeing tuesday night brought to us by dr. henry louis "skip" gates, jr. pbs.ing tomorrow night on thanks for some wonderful work and it is a blessing to have you on this program. >> thank you and keep doing what you're doing. tavis: thanks for watching and keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with -- about poverty in america, why it persists, and what we could you to eradicate it. that is next time. we will see you then. time.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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>> funding for overheard for evan smith is prooded by the mat -- provided by the mattsson mchale foundation, and from the texas board of legal specialization, board-certified attorneysn your community. experienced, respected and tested. also by hillco partners, texas government affairs consultancy and its global health care consulting business unit, hillco health and alice cleburg foundation and viewers like you. >> i'm evan smith, he's a staffer for cnn whose second
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book on the nation's n oath, the obama administration. he's jeffery toobin. this is overhead. >> most people want a good job. >> i realized a lot of people weren't writing things in my voice. i had to do it myself. >> he said kid i love you because. >> we're a better country, and we have more to do. >> i will do that. when i want the buzz you can get for working at the absolute top dollar. [laughter] >> jeffery toobin, welcome. >> great to be back. nice to see you again. thank you. >> pleasure. >> why is it the obama white house versus the supreme court?& >> that changed june 28, the day of the healthcare decision. because the pattern of unremitting hostility between
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the supreme court and the obama administration was broken in perhaps the most important -- >> right. >> mmment of conflict, potentially, between the court and the president. >> yeah. >> but i don't anticipate that. i think it's a truce, rather than a peace treaty. >> but it was a very important truce. >> and it was shocking in the way it came down, the story -- if we believe it. you have a point of view through your reporting. first chief justice roberts was against the white house and against tte affordable care act and came around? a lot of myth sprung up around this. >> one of the problems when you work for cnn, they keep the stuff you say on tv. so i'm very much on record for saying this case would have come out differently. the oral arguments, i thought went bad for the general. >> this was their general. >> the general, got a very hard time from the justices.
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i think -- now that i have had a chance to do reporting on it. i think john roberts recognized that the obamacare case, falling on top of bush -- citizens united in 2010, had, for a third time, five republican justices in a highly partisan way trashed the dreams of democrats, i think there would have been damage to the court as an institution. >> do you buy the argument he was concerned about how the court is viewed? >> absoluttly. >> isn't he only concerned about the law? not the optics, the institution. >> he's concerned about the supreme court as an institution in the american life. it is important for the justices to recognize they don't live in an ivory tower that is completely divorced from the real world. i think the justices are very aware of the broader world. you know, there are justices on that court who believe, today, that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50
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states. but they know if they were to rule that alabama and mississippi and texas, for that matter, have to have same-sex marriage tomorrow, they know the political implications of that. they will say look, let's way. let the states deal with it. that is the appropriate way -- >> it fits the role of the supreme court? >> absolutely. i think the core, you know -- we always -- there is this idealization that the court is rogue mystics, impervious to the real world. that has never been the way it is. that has never been the way it should be. i don't agree with all their decisions, but i certainly think it is appropriate to consider -- the justice of the justice to consider the implications of their decisions. >> did you agree with this decision? >> i sure did. >> and the way that it came down? >> look, i agreed with the bottom line. i think the affordable care act is constitutional. if you recall, chief justice roberts opinion said, it is not constitutional

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