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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  August 5, 2011 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT

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>tavis: , good evening, from los angeles, we have author and actress ashley judd. she is out with a much-talked about memoir called "all that is bitter and sweet" based on diaries she has been keeping during her humanitarian work arouaking a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all the better. >> with every question and every
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answer, nationwide insurance is combato join tavis to illiteracy. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from the viewers like you. thank you. ♪ tavis: i am pleased and delighted to have ashley judd. she is a longtime human-rights advocate who has gone to a dozen troubled nations around the globe, including the condo. this work and serves as the basis of her new more "all that is bitter and sweet." it is an honor to have you on
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the set. >> it is good to be here. >> i hope you -- tavis: i hope you appreciate the fact@ú@ú@ú@úú just to make you feel comfortable, i wore a tie of a certain color that i thought you would appreciate. >> i did sense when i stepped onto the stage -- the big blue mist over coming me put me significantly at ease. by the way, i do think my team has a strong chance of being the no. 1 favorite. of april is my birthday. it is only a bill that we care about these things. thank you. that is great. i appreciate that. tavis: for those of you did not get that -- >> i am rocking the pit stains. tavis: ashley is a huge kentucky fans.
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i went to indiana and we hate ky. but i love ashley. so, anyway. this conversation is off to a great start. it is nice to see you, too. this book has created a stir, as if you do not already know, around two issues that i want to address like james brown -- hit it and quit it. one of the things that troubled me and part of this is about the world we live in -- you can have the best intentions. you can keep a diary, a journal of your work around the world, tried to save women, try to save children, and the media and others will find one or two lines in the book and turn the whole conversation into something different than what you intended. i want to get to what the book was really about. in no particular order, here is the first question. the book is about the good work
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you have been doing around the world penthouse is it that it becomes eclipsed in some way about a conversation about a family feud the people want to act as if it exists. your mother and sister have come out saying that they love and support you. yet this continues. tell me about this so that we can put it behind us. >> i became willing to share some of my story in the book to provide background for the readers that hopefully explains why i am so interested in feminist social justice, human rights, and public health work. those chapters are very much my work and come at the same time, they are an afterthought. i became willing to share them based on the robust encouragement of people who are not in the media, who thought that, in addition to helping contextualize my empathy, that those chapters may carry a message of hope and recovery to other friends and family of alcoholics, others who have grown up in a family system that did not work very well.
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the thing that none of us could have anticipated was the freakish, uncanny timing of the just show premiering on the oprah winfrey network the exact same week of my book coming out. we literally did a step in repeat in new york. i would be on a show and they would be on a show. to emphasize how uncanny the timing was, the great tenney mccarty where i received help, her show also premiered on the oprah winfrey network last week. clearly, this is some kind of -- tavis: it is oakbrook's falls. >> that is what i was going to .ay -- it is oprah's fault >> that is what i was going to say. god does not make mistakes and a time unfolds as it should. i have confidence that, as more readers have this book in his -- in their hands, they, like you,
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will discover what it is about and the contents will emerge. tavis: the second thing that has caused some controversy, you were researching an organization that asked you to do some work. prior to them being interest in you, they used artist like snoop dog and pd to help spread their message. you wrote that those names were red flags. "my fnn instincts -- my feminine instincts went up. that music is a contemporary representation of misogyny." what would you or could you have said differently, do you think, to avoid the controversy? >> i definitely could have used
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the word "some." i also could have done a better job of anticipating that those who live hip-hop, as a way of life, for those who have that as a cultural identity, that they would take personal umbrage. i would have done it more clear job of individual adding that which is in hip-hop and rap, which are distinct art forms, misogynistic and expresses extraordinary objectification and hyper-socialization of girls and women and the part that obviously does not. it has been interesting. i think it is an important conversation. it really is not a conversation i ever dreamed that i would be such an integral part of. but now that i am having it with the likes of >> love in a way that is profound and intimate, vulnerable and deep, it is about poverty and institutional expressions of racism through a
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slow -- through a 40 like police and what not. it is fascinating. -- through police and what not. it is fascinating. for the ones who are misogynist, they make my argument for more compelling. there is a far more eloquent condemnation on whitewater account of sex is some than any other statement that i -- on my tour account -- on my twitter account of sex is them far more than any other statement that i could have come up with. tavis: tell me about trend to navigate the challenges as you do the work that you do.
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>> "land mines" is the word that came to me. i do not think that i am in touch or where of how risky much of the work that i do is because i come from a spiritual ankle. i think it is my responsibility to stand economist with my god of understanding, to stay cautiously to a power grid of them myself as much as i possibly can, do the honest and good right thing and the outcome is none of my business. as a result, i threw myself hard and head and heart long into the work and then some of the things like what happened over the last week happen. i would not say that i am a shy person. but in terms of media, i am really shy. we live on a farm in rural tennessee and scotland. we are private people.
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no one has been more surprised by this than i. tavis: how does one get motivated to do the work that you do as a result of your faith but not proselytize in the process? >> i have a very ecumenical fate. "the realm of the spirit is roomy and abroad. it is open to all." i stake my life on that. yes. tavis: you used the word "risk." have you discovered whether or not there is risk to wanting to be more than just an actor -- there's nothing wrong with just being an actor -- but you decided to be an actor and to
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pursue your calling, your vacation, your purpose out of the field. is there a risk and try to do both in the business sense? >> by financial planner would say absolutely. [laughter] there is a lot of risk. i spoke and invent in asheville recently. -- i spoke at a tent event nfl recently. -- but i spoke at a tent event in nashville recently. one professor of education at harvard said that when we take the risk of really witnessing another human being, when we validate their human experience , we risk becoming recruited to their welfare. that is really all i have done, is allow my empathy to be engaged. once it is, because my feelings help teach me what my values
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are, i am on the path for which there is no return. i am in a sorely an advocate -- an advocate.le y tavis: you went back there after your career was burgeoning. you wanted to get credentiale >> i always wanted to go to school. it was a dynamic experience as a in undergrad it u.k. being an avid fan of the men's basketball program, i am also a fan of education there. i had an absolutely wonderful education. i wanted to go to graduate school. but i was afraid that, if i did not honor the acting thing, that it would be a regret that i
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carried the rest of my life. if i did not go to hollywood as a young woman, i did not know that it would go to at 42. but on to graduate school in my 40's seemed plausible. i went to vanderbilt assuming that i would find a graduate degree there. it is fairly close to home. to no one's greater astonishment than my own, i ended up at harvard. tavis: you have southern ridge. i have southern ridge. i grew up in india, but i was born in mississippi. i am curious as to whether this is just fate or you just really like morgan freeman. you were going to do a dance every now and again. >> i really like morgan freeman. sometimes, when i see him, my eyes instantaneously well with tears. i adore the man. we had a wonderful time working together on "galston tales." that comes out in september. -- "dolphin tales."
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that comes out in september. tavis: again, about the book, i am empowered by the choice you made to spend your life the way you are using it. >> that is my favorite word, by the way, "empowerment." tavis: i appreciate that part. how or why have you chosen to live up in these places around the globe that you have gone to? there is a case to be made for everyone of them. it is a courageous to go where you have gone. so why these kinds of places? >> id is not by some mastermind ish design. when i received my letter in 2002, it was direct mail solicitation. we did have a mutual friend through who kate roberts, the person who wrote me and contacted me -- that very same week,
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phone calls from two dear friends who are great man, bobby shriver and bonnet, asking me to do the same thing. asking mend bono, to do the same thing. and i sought through this for text of fate and reconnected with my passionate rabble rousing self of undergraduate years. next thing i knew, i had been to 13 countries and had written all of these diaries as a way to both capture and commemorate the sacred narrative of a vulnerable people with which i had been entrusted. but i also wanted to write about the simple and cost effective grass-roots programs that disrupt cycles of poverty and violence. putting a solution in there was to carry a message of hope around the world and for my own sanity. because there has to be held because so much of what is
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happening is senseless. tavis: when you said there has to be hope -- there has to be hope for us? where there has to be held for them? >> there is no difference between us. so, yes, it is held for all of us. i have to fight on a daily basis the delusion that there is some other because we are all one. i love the same from the talmud where we say that when we save one, we save the world. tavis: on two occasions in my own life, i have gone back to my own journals, which i right in every day, for purposes of putting out a tax, a book. in both instances, i found myself being surprised in retrospect. you know where i am going with this. i found myself surprised in retrospect about what i said or thought or insured or whatever the case might of been. i am curious as to, going back through your journals, you surprised yourself about anything.
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>> the grief, the level of grief, absolutely. it is so this role and overwhelming with each exploitive person's story that i tell. i never seem to take it lightly. i have, through recovery, learn to laugh at myself. as long as i can laugh but myself, i never run out of material. there's so much of my consciousness that i hope is appropriately grave, reverent, and is constantly looking to hold the space inside of myself for the sanctity of all human life. tavis: for those who do not quite get how is that a person who has been as blessed as you are, as known as your, as fortunate as you are can connect with people who are on the of that line of hope
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or opportunity, what is it that connects you to them, to him come to her, the person? -- to him, to her, the person? >> i do not really know that i can say it any differently than i breathe the air of humanity. i, too, was once a neglected, abandoned, lost child. and my family system is a lot smaller than the global community, but the identification, the feelings, i think, are the same. when i walk into that first brothel, when i visited my first genocide museum, when i had spent by first week in slums in forcibly displaced persons camps, i saw life. as our brothers and sisters. i saw people whose feelings were real and important and the assault on their dignity, the human rights atrocities with which they live on a daily basis.
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it simply was not ok with me. and their willingness to be vulnerable and to share their stories with me was really touching and it became a pact. every time someone tells me their story, we are creating a pact. you're giving it to me and i will carry it to the world. and i take that very literally and very seriously. tavis: i ask this because, to my mind and my read, it is impossible to ignore it. many of these places that you have chosen to spend your time and do the work that you do, these persons who are disenfranchised oftentimes tend to be people of color. so i ask in a very forthright way what does reset to do with it? >> i think it has everything to do with it. i think it has everything to do with it. if there were 15 million quite
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orphans in north america, we would be doing absolutely everything we could to nurture, love, cherish, and power the health and educate the children. because of those roughly 15 million a chevy orphans living in sub-sahara -- 15 million hiv orphans living in sub-saharan africa, we do not have the large scale to galvanize political response that i absolutely believe we would if they were not people of color. i think that is a very good point that you make. tavis: whether their people of color, whether they are africans or people like me or white americans and yourself, at this particularly propitious moment, we get people to focus on these issues and pay attention to issues and get traction on when so many americans are concerned about
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condition? we may say a prayer for people in congo or rwanda, but how do connect the dots? >> i think that prayer is powerful and not to be diminished. some of us in this country who are struggling to put food on the table and are wondering where the next paycheck is coming from or have dangers health situations and they do not have access to corporate medical care dupree for yourselves -- medical care do pray for themselves and for others. for those concerned with daily survival, i think there is a variety of ways -- it is enlightened self interest. globally, healthy societies are better able to economically empower themselves. there is real connection in the
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growth of gdp with the health status of a population and come in particular, the ability girls and women to access education, income generation, technology with connecting poor communities with technology. there are connections to increase in that nation's productivity. those stable societies are what, as a global community, we're looking for. i think all of the money that we spend militarily, for example, some of it can be diverted to the soft diplomacy and we can accomplish our aims probably faster. bare minimum, the soft diplomacy should be a fully integrated and complementary approach. my godmother is a neat woman and she had a pig for a pet. she is a pacific heights, a fancy community in san francisco. i think people thought it was reareweird.
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she said it was my pay. it has become my representation of how we each have our little precious thing. what i encourage people to do is find their paig. for me, it is gender discrimination, sexual exploitation, taking a disempower person when they're already down. i cannot stand that. so i will leverage my core competencies from my soul very effectively or more effectively if i am connected with my values and principles on an issue. for those around the country who are concerned with their own hand-to-mouth living, what is your pig and make a difference in that area and it broadens your horizons. this is taped, right? it was so clumsy and weird. tavis: this is taped. but that was so real. i could follow it.
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this is the first time we met. i have read so much about you. island -- i now get you. i understand you. >> will you please repeat that? [laughter] tavis: what i still do not know is why, given all that you have seen, you still remain -- i assume you are because you would not be here and you would not have written this book -- why are you still so hopeful? >> i have been restored to sanity, to wholeness, and soundness of mind through a really simple and effective process of recovery. i do not think i am terminally unique. if that can happen to me, i believe that those kinds of hope in fusing and hope-given prophesies can work for other people, too. i have a lot of love to give. and when i give that love and others are able to receive it and show me their vulnerability,
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i believe that god in habits that space, which means i basically hang out with got a lot. and that is why i feel hopeful. tavis: i was and ashley judd fan. now i am a fanatic. i could do this for hours. the new book from ashley judd is called "all that is bitter and sweet" and i am delighted in the opportunity to get inside your head and inside your heart. thank you for sharing it. >> thank you very much. tavis: that is our show for tonight. thank you for tuning in. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visits a
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difference. >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis: smiley. nationwide insurance is happy to join in working with the literacy and remove obstacles to empowerment. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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