MetroFocus: May 27, 2020

Encore: June 17, 2020

Unemployment has surged. The economy is in turmoil. And America’s food banks are reportedly facing unprecedented demand as many working-class and middle-class families seek help for the first time. Here in New York, Island Harvest Food Bank is leading the fight against food insecurity on Long Island, where so many have been lining up for help. It has already distributed nearly 2 million more meals than the same time period last year and reports that nearly half of those served have never accessed emergency food assistance programs. The organization recently received state aid as part of a $25 million plan from Governor Cuomo and has teamed up with rockstar Jon Bon Jovi to tackle hunger in the Hamptons by opening a new food bank in the region. As part of our Chasing The Dream initiative on poverty and opportunity in America, Island Harvest President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner shares the struggles facing food banks today.

Before coronavirus, students across the country were making plans for summer internships and future jobs. But with the seismic impact of the pandemic on the economy, for students- getting a job seems as unattainable a goal as repaying the thousands of dollars in school loans. Many college students, both incoming and continuing students, are facing challenges paying for their educations.

As part of our Chasing The Dream initiative examining poverty and opportunity in America, Michael Arceneaux, author of  the new book, ‘I Don’t Want To Die Poor’ sheds light on not only the burden of debt, but the emotional issues that surface under its weight.

Aired on May 27, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> UP NEXT, 'METROFOCUS.'

WE'RE WORKING FROM HOME, BUT WE'RE DEDICATED TO BRINGING YOU THE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT HOW OUR AREA IS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRILL TISH, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P.

WALTER AND BY .

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I AM JACK FORD.

WITH UNEMPLOYMENT SURGING, AMIDST THE ECONOMIC TURMOIL CAUSED BY THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, MANY NEW YORKERS ARE FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE, AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, MANY OF THE REGIONAL FOOD BANKS ARE FACED WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND.

ISLAND HARVEST FOOD BANK, WHICH IS ONE OF THE LEADING HUNGER RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS LOCATED ON LINED HAS BEEN WORKING HEROICALLY IN CONJUNCTION WITH STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES, VOLUNTEERS, PARTNERSHIPS, INCLUDING A RECENT PARTNERSHIP WITH ROCK STAR JOHN BON JOVI TO PROVIDE FOOD AND RESOURCES TO THOSE IN NEED.

AND WE ARE HAPPY TO WELCOME BACK RANDY SHUBIN DRESNER ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

LET'S ESTABLISH THE SCOPE OF THIS PROBLEM, IF WE CAN, AND TO DO THAT, LET ME ASK YOU TO COMPARE SOME NUMBERS.

TELL US APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY MEALS YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS PROVIDED SINCE LET'S SAY THIS PAST MARCH, A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN TWO MONTHS, AND COMPARE THAT TO WHAT THE NUMBER WOULD BE SIMILAR TIME A DIFFERENT YEAR.

YOU KNOW, WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC THAT NO ONE WOULD HAVE ANTICIPATED, AND SO IF YOU COMPARE THIS YEAR TO THE SAME TIME LAST YEAR WE'RE PROVIDING ABOUT 1.7 MILLION MORE MEALS IN THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME.

IT'S JUST ASTONISHING.

AND IN TERMS OF THOSE WHO ARE THE RECIPIENTS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING AMONGST THEM IN TERMS OF HOW MANY ARE FIRST TIME RECIPIENTS?

SO, LOOK, THE WHOLE WORLD IS SHUT DOWN, AND CERTAINLY ALL OF LONG ISLAND, WHICH IS OUR SERVICE AREA.

THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THIS PANDEMIC HAS LITERALLY IMPACTED EVERYBODY ON LONG ISLAND, AND SO WHAT WE ARE FINDING IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE LOOKING FOR FOOD ARE FIRST TIME, NEVER HAVING BEEN ON A FOOD LINE BEFORE, AND IN FACT, SOME OF THEM WERE CONTRIBUTORS TO ISLAND HARVEST IN THE PAST AND MAYBE EVEN A VOLUNTEER.

AND SO WHAT WE'RE FINDING ARE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FOOD LINE THAT HAD NEVER EVER EXPECTED TO BE THERE BEFORE, AND THE TRUTH IS IT'S VERY HUMBLING.

IF YOU'VE NEVER ASKED FOR FOOD, TO STAND ON A LINE FOR AN HOUR OR TWO HOURS AND WAITING IS JUST AN UNBELIEVABLE EXPERIENCE, AND LOOK, WE JUST -- I JUST CAME BACK FROM A DISTRIBUTION JUST ABOUT AN HOUR AGO.

WE HAD TO TURN PEOPLE AWAY, AND WE ARE AT ALMOST EVERY ONE OF OUR DISTRIBUTIONS, AND THE LINES GO ON.

WE FIND THAT PEOPLE ARE WAITING SOMETIMES ONE AND TWO AND THREE HOURS, WALKERS AND IN CARS.

LET'S TALK ALSO ABOUT HOW YOUR ENTIRE STRUCTURE HAS HAD TO CHANGE BECAUSE OF THIS.

SO ONCE AGAIN, GIVE US AN IDEA OF WHERE YOU USED TO ACQUIRE YOUR FOOD, FROM WHAT SOURCES, HOW THAT HAS NOW CHANGED, AND HOW YOU HAVE HAD TO ADAPT AND CHANGE YOUR MIND.

YOU KNOW, WE'RE THE LARGEST HUNGER RELIEF ORGANIZATION ON LONG ISLAND.

WE'VE BEEN IN THAT PLACE FOR A LONG TIME, AND WE'VE DONE IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

OUR MODEL IS SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT.

TYPICALLY, WHEN THERE'S NO PANDEMIC, WE'RE ABOUT 85% OF OUR PRODUCT IS DONATED PRODUCT, AND THE REMAINDER IS FOOD THAT WE PURCHASED BECAUSE WE'VE GOTTEN GRANTS THAT ARE RESTRICTED FOR US TO BUY THE FOOD.

WHEN YOU SAY DONATED -- WHEN YOU SAY DONATED, TELL US ABOUT WHERE THEY WOULD COME FROM?

SURE, THAT 85% WOULD NORMALLY COME FROM WHOLESALERS, DISTRIBUTORS, FARMS, WE GET A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF PRODUCT FROM FARMS AND SUPERMARKETS AND OTHER RETAILERS.

AND THAT HAS BEEN OUR MAINSTAY FOR MANY, MANY YEARS, AND IT'S BEEN -- IT WORKS WELL FOR US, BUT AS SOON AS THE PANDEMIC HIT, EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR US.

IMAGINE -- IF YOU REMEMBER BACK IN THE BEGINNING OF MARCH WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT, EVERYBODY WENT TO THE SUPERMARKETS AND IT'S DIFFERENT THAN IT NORMALLY IS, SAY, FOR A HURRICANE BECAUSE THAT'S A PERIOD OF TIME BUT THIS HAPPENED VERY SUDDENLY.

THERE WASN'T A LOT OF PLANNING.

THE SUPERMARKETS EMPTIED QUICKLY.

THEY TURNED TO THEIR DISTRIBUTORS.

THE DISTRIBUTORS RAN OUT VERY QUICKLY TO SUPPORT THE SUPERMARKETS AND THE RETAILERS, AND THEN THE WHOLESALERS THAT HELPED THE DISTRIBUTORS RAN OUT VERY QUICKLY, SO THE WHOLE FOOD CHAIN WAS DIMINISHED VERY, VERY QUICKLY, AND THE FOOD BANKS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WERE SORT OF JUST SITTING THERE BECAUSE OUR SUPPLIERS WERE OUT, AND THERE WAS NO END IN SIGHT.

SO WHERE ARE YOU NOW GETTING THOSE FOOD SUPPLIES TO HELP THESE PEOPLE?

WELL, IN THE BEGINNING, THE BEGINNING PART OF MARCH, WE REACHED OUT TO A NUMBER OF DISTRIBUTORS THAT WE HAD RELATIONSHIPS WITH, AND THEY CREATED WHAT WE CALL FAMILY FOOD BOXES.

SO WHEN THERE WAS HURRICANE SANDY AND OTHER DISASTERS THAT WE RESPONDED TO IN THE PAST, THAT WOULD BE THE FIRST WAY THAT WE WOULD GO, AND SO IT WOULD BE A BOX OF FOOD FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR FOR PROBABLY ABOUT THREE OR FOUR DAYS, AND IT WOULD BE CANNED FOODS.

IT WOULD BE PACKAGED FOODS LIKE RICE OR PASTA, CEREAL, WHATEVER IT MAY BE.

WITHIN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, ALL OF THOSE DISTRIBUTORS THAT CREATED THOSE BOXES RAN OUT BECAUSE ALL OF THE FOOD BANKS AND OTHER FOOD PROGRAMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WERE GOING TO THE SAME SOURCES, SO WHAT WE DID WAS PLANNED A LITTLE BIT AHEAD.

WE REACHED OUT AS FAR AS WE COULD BECAUSE WE KNEW THAT MONEY WAS GOING TO COME IN TO HELP US WITH NEW PURCHASES, AND WE REACHED OUT TO BUY PALELETIZED TRUCKLOADS OF SINGLE SOURCE PRODUCTS, SO WE'D BUY A TRUCKLOAD OF BEANS, A TRUCKLOAD OF VEGETABLES, A TRUCKLOAD OF FRUIT, AND WE STARTED TO CREATE OUR OWN MEAL BOXES.

WE GOT DONATED WAREHOUSE SPACE.

WE GOT THE CIVIL AIR PATROL, TEAM RUBICON, WHICH ARE RETIRED VETERANS, OFFICERS OF THE POLICE AND A NUMBER OF OTHER GROUPS LIKE THAT, THEY CAME IN AND HELPED US, AND WITHIN NO TIME AT ALL, WE CREATED 15, 20,000 OF OUR OWN FAMILY BOXES.

AND SO NOW THAT'S BECOMING A NEW BUSINESS MODEL FOR ISLAND HARVEST.

WE'RE NOW REACHING OUT TO A NUMBER OF COMMUNITY GROUPS, AND WE'RE OFFERING OUR BOXES FOR A SMALL FEE, AND NOW WHAT WE'RE DOING IS WE'VE CREATED TWO OR THREE DIFFERENT SIDE BOXES FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GROUPS.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SOME OF THESE RELATIONSHIPS YOU HAD.

JUST A REMINDER, I'M TALKING WITH THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF ISLAND HARVEST FOOD BANK, AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS DONE MARVELOUS WORK FOR SO MANY YEARS.

YOU MENTIONED THE DIFFERENT GROUPS THAT ARE PARTICIPATING HERE.

GIV GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT SORT OF ASSISTANCE IS BEING PROVIDED FROM THE STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

SO LOCALLY NASSAU COUNTY HAS -- WE'VE ENTERED INTO A CONTRACT WITH NASSAU COUNTY AND WE'RE WORKING RIGHT NOW IN FINALIZING A CONTRACT WITH SUFFOLK COUNTY, AND WE ARE GOING AROUND TO SELECT COMMUNITIES DOING -- NOW WE'RE CONSIDERING THE MID SIZE FOOD DISTRIBUTION, SO, FOR EXAMPLE, WE CURRENTLY HAVE A CONTRACT TO GO TO TEN DIFFERENT DHCOMMUNITIES IN NASS COUNTY, AND WE'RE AVERAGES ABOUT A THOUSAND RESIDENTS FROM THOSE COMMUNITIES TO COME TO THE DISTRIBUTION.

THE PRODUCT WE'RE GIVING OUT IS ROBUST, SO IT'S A BOX OF CANNED FOOD, PACKAGED FOOD IS INSIDE IT.

WE'RE GIVING THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRODUCE, A GALLON OF MILK, MEAT, CHEESE, YOGURT, AND SOMETIMES MEAT.

SO IT'S A LOT OF PRODUCT THAT THEY'RE GETTING.

IT'S ABOUT 25, 30 POUNDS.

USUALLY IT CAN HELP A FAMILY FOR ABOUT A WEEK.

AND SO WE DO ABOUT TWO TO THREE OF THESE DISTRIBUTIONS EVERY WEEK, AND AS SOON AS WE CONNECT WITH SUFFOLK COUNTY, WE'LL PROBABLY BE OUT THREE TO FOUR TIMES A WEEK.

IN ADDITION TO THAT, THE SCHOOLS IN EACH OF THE COMMUNITIES ARE DOING WHAT THEY CALL GRAB AND GO'S.

IT'S A CONTRACT THEY HAVE WITH THE STATE, BUT THE GRAB AND GO ONLY HELPS THAT ONE PARTICULAR CHILD OF THE SCHOOL, AND SO WE COME IN AND SUPPORT THE SCHOOL WITH PRODUCT THAT THEY CAN GIVE OUT TO THE WHOLE FAMILY BECAUSE OTHERWISE THE CHILD GOES HOME WITH THAT SANDWICH AND THEY'RE EATING IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY ELSE IN THEIR FAMILY.

RIGHT, RIGHT.

SO WE'RE ABLE TO SUPPLEMENT THAT.

AND THEN DID ISSUE.

WONDERFUL, LET ME KNOW QUICKLY THE STATE LEVEL.

SO THE STATE, GOVERNOR CUOMO CAME UP WITH A NEW PROGRAM THAT WE LOVE CALLED NOURISH NEW YORK.

THEY UNDERSTOOD THAT THE FARMERS AND DISTRIBUTORS SUDDENLY LOST THEIR BUSINESS BECAUSE THEY WERE SELLING MOSTLY TO RESTAURANTS AND SCHOOLS, AND WE AT THE FOOD BANKS WERE LOOKING FOR A LOT OF GOOD, HEALTHY NUTRITIOUS FOOD, SO HE RELEASED $25 MILLION TO THE FOOD BANKS ACROSS NEW YORK STATE, AND WE ARE USING THAT FOOD TO BUY NOURISH NEW YORK PRODUCTS, SO IT'S CHEESES AND DAIRY PRODUCT, YOGURT, AND MILK, MEAT, AND INCREDIBLY GREAT PRODUCE.

SO WE'RE NOW MAKING LARGE PURCHASES WITHIN OUR STATE, HELPING OUR FARMERS, BUT ALSO HELPING THE RESIDENTS OF THE STATE.

IT'S A GENIUS PROGRAM AND WE LOVE IT.

IT'S TIGHTENING UP THE CIRCLE, AND EVERYBODY HELPING EVERYBODY WITHIN THAT CIRCUMCIRCLE.

I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION A RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU CREATED WITH JOHN BON JOVI.

TELL ME HOW THAT CAME ABOUT AND HOW THAT WILL PLAY OUT.

I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW EXCITED WE ARE WITH THIS ASSOCIATION.

JOHN AND HIS WIFE DARCIA REACHED OUT TO ME PROBABLY ABOUT A MONTH AGO.

THEY HEARD THAT THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE ON THE EAST END OF LONG ISLAND WHO WERE STRUGGLING WITH FOOD INSECURITY SUDDENLY.

THEY HAVE LIVED ON THE EAST END OF LONG ISLAND FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS, THEY HAVE A HEOME THERE, AND THEY REALLY CARE ABOUT THE COMMUNITY.

THEY REACHED OUT TO US FOR OUR EXPERTISE IN HELPING THEM SET UP A PROGRAM WHERE HE KNEW THAT A MINIMUM OF 5,000 RESIDENTS OUT THERE WOULD GET FOOD EVERY MONTH.

THEY IDENTIFIED A SITE.

WE HELPED THEM FIND A COUPLE OF STAFF PEOPLE TO GET SET UP.

WE GAVE THEM THE EXPERTISE ABOUT HOW TO ACTUALLY SET UP THE FOOD BANK AND THE FOOD PROGRAM.

WE MADE CONNECTIONS WITH THEM WITH ABOUT FIVE OR SIX OF OUR MEMBER AGENCIES OUT ON THE EAST END, AND NOW THERE'S A REGULAR PROGRAM GOING ON WHERE THEY'RE DISTRIBUTING THIS FOOD, AND PEOPLE ARE GETTING FED OUT ON THE EAST END, AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU, THEY ARE SO INTO THIS PROGRAM.

THEY REALLY BELIEVE IN IT.

YEAH, THEY ARE -- I KNOW THEM A BIT.

I'VE DONE SOME WORK WITH THEM WITH SOME CHARITIES.

THEY'RE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO DO WONDERFUL WORK.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU HERE.

IF SOMEBODY'S WATCHING OUR CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW AND THEY'RE SAYING THIS IS SUCH A GOOD CAUSE, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

WELL, YOU KNOW, THESE ARE STRANGE TIMES.

SO THE FIRST THING I WOULD SAY IS CONTRIBUTIONS TO ISLAND HARVEST ARE IMPORTANT, NOT JUST FOR RIGHT NOW BUT FOR THE LONG-TERM.

WE'RE IN THIS RESPONSE MODE, THIS RECOVERY MODE FOR PROBABLY 18 MONTHS TO TWO YEARS.

WE SEE DOING THESE KINDS OF DISTRIBUTIONS FOR A VERY LONG PERIOD OF TIME, AND SO FUNDING WILL HELP US TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL AND THAT FUNDING WILL CASCADE INTO A NUMBER OF NEW PROGRAMS THAT WE'RE DEVELOPING AND TO MAKE SURE WE CAN STRENGTHEN OUR EMERGENCY RESOURCE CENTER.

WE WILL BE OPENING UP OUR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES SOON, AND THERE ARE WAYS FOR VOLUNTEERS OR PROSPECTIVE VOLUNTEERS TO REGISTER ON OUR WEBSITE AND LEARN MORE ABOUT ACTIVITIES AS THEY COME UP, AND THEN LASTLY BS, SETTING UP FOOD DRIVES.

WE LOST A LOT OF FOOD DRIVES IN THE COMMUNITY, IN FACT 500 POUNDS SHORT OF COMMUNITY FOOD DRIVES.

SO ALL OF THAT CAN BE HELPFUL.

AGAIN, THE HEAD OF ISLAND HARVEST FOOD BANK DOING WONDERFUL WORK, YOU, ALL YOUR VOLUNTEERS, YOUR ORGANIZATION, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN REAL SOON.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JACK.

BYE.

> HI, I'M JENNA FLANAGAN METH MO 'METROFOCUS.'

DID YOU REMEMBER TO FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS FORM?

AND THEN THERE IS THAT ELECTION COMING UP.

BEFORE WE STARTED TALKING ALL CORONAVIRUS ALL THE TIME, THERE WERE OTHER INCIDENTS TAKING PRECEDENT IN OUR NATIONAL DISCOURSE, ISSUES LIKE INCOME INEQUALITY AND DEBT, PARTICULARLY STUDENT LOAN DEBT, AND IN A SECOND BOOK, I DON'T WANT TO DIE POOR, WRITER MICHAEL ARSINO USES STUDENT LOAN DEBT TO SHED LIGHT ON THE -- NOT ONLY THE BURDEN OF DEBT BUT ON THE ISSUES THAT CAN SURFACE UNDER ITS WEIGHT, AND AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE EXAMINING POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, I'M GLAD TO WELCOME MICHAEL ARSINO TO THE PROGRAM.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME, ESPECIALLY DURING A NIGHTMARE.

OF COURSE, OF COURSE.

FIRST I WANT TO GIVE PEOPLE AN UNDERSTANDING BECAUSE YOU DO DIVE INTO IT A LITTLE BIT.

WHAT WERE THE ISSUES OR WHAT WAS IT THAT LED YOU TO TAKE ON OR TAKE OUT THE LOANS THAT CREATED THIS CLOUD OF DEBT THAT JUST FOLLOWED YOU EVERYWHERE?

I KIND OF STARTED FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER TO BASICALLY WRITE ABOUT AN EXPERIENCE WITH A VERY ATTRACTIVE RECRUITER AT A RIVAL COLLEGE THAT KIND OF JUST PUT IN THE IDEA THAT I ACTUALLY COULD LEAVE COLLEGE AND I COULD BASICALLY DREAM A LITTLE BIGGER THAN MY ALREADY BIG DREAMS AT THE TIME.

FOR ME HOWARD UNIVERSITY, WHILE IT WAS A GREAT SCHOOL, IT WAS ONE THAT WAS NOT WITHIN MY MEANS, SO WHILE I WON SCHOLARSHIPS DIRECTLY AFTER BEING INSPIRED BY THAT PERSON, JUST REALISTICALLY I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY, SO WE WENT THROUGH PRIVATE LOANS.

THOSE WERE THE BEST AVAILABLE OPTIONS AT THE TIME, AND WE DIDN'T KNOW AS MUCH, OR AT LEAST I DIDN'T KNOW AS MUCH, AND THAT'S THE OPTION THAT WE TOOK.

OF COURSE, AND THAT HAPPENS -- WE HEAR SO MANY VERSIONS OF THAT STORY HAPPENING OVER AND OVER AGAIN SO I'M ALSO WONDERING NOW WHAT WAS IT WITNESS YOU TOOK OUT THOSE LOANS AND REALIZED THE FULL TOTALITY OF THE COST THAT THEY WOULD REQUIRE YOU TO PAY BACK, BUT ALSO HOW MUCH THEY WOULD FOLLOW YOU INTO DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE, HOW DID YOU BEGIN TO PROCESS THAT?

WELL, I WILL SAY WHILE I DEFINITELY HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE FOR MY CHOICES, I DIDN'T ENTER THE SITUATION WITH LIKE NAIVETY.

I KNEW IT WASN'T NECESSARILY THE BEST OPTION, BUT IT WAS THE ONE THAT WAS BEST AVAILABLE, AND I TOLD A LOT OF PEOPLE OF THE TRILLION DOLLARS THAT THE STUDENT LOAN, 100 BILLION OF THAT IS PRIVATE LOAN DEBT, AND THAT DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTS BLACK COLLEGE GRADUATES BECAUSE WE ESSENTIALLY ARE STARTING FROM BL BEHIND.

I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT.

WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW, IN MY INSTANCE, TRADITIONAL MEDIA HAD IMPLODED SO THERE WERE NO JOBS AVAILABLE.

IT WAS ALSO COUPLED WITH THE FACT THAT GEORGE W. BUSH WAS PRESIDENT AND WE HAD THE GREAT RECESSION.

A LOT OF JOBS WERE NOT THERE.

I THINK WHAT HAPPENED IS A LOT OF GRADUATES ARE UNFORTUNATELY FINDING THE SAME THING I'M DISCOVERING THAT YOU ARE NOT AS IN COMPLETE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO THINK.

IN MY PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE, I THINK WITH STUDENT LOANS, GOVERNMENT LOANS, PEOPLE COMPLAIN ABOUT THEM, DEBT IS DEBT, IS BAD.

THE GOVERNMENT AT LEAST WORKS WITH YOU.

PRIVATE CORPORATIONS ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO WORK WITH YOU.

I'VE BEEN ON A 12 YEAR PLAN TO PAY OFF A VERY SIZABLE LOAN WITH VERY LITTLE OPTIONS TO DO ANYTHING.

I THINK THAT'S THE GREATER BURDEN.

ALSO THE FACT THAT PEOPLE FILE FOR BRUANKRUPTCY, I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO DISCHARGE THAT DEBT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T NECESSARILY KNOW ABOUT PRIVATE LOANS AND I THINK THAT'S THE BIGGER ISSUE SO DO I WISH I HAD NOT TAKEN OUT THE LOANS?

ABSOLUTELY.

BUT I KIND OF ALSO THOUGHT I DIDN'T HAVE REALLY MUCH OF A CHOICE.

I WAS GOING TO BE IN DEBT NO MATTER WHAT.

I MADE A DECISION THAT WE FELT WAS THE BEST AT THE TIME FOR ME.

IT'S JUST UNFORTUNATE THAT I WASN'T BORN WITH THE MONEY THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE OR AT LEAST THE ACCESS AND PRIVILEGES.

AND THAT ACTUALLY IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU ALSO TALK ABOUT IN ONE OF YOUR ESSAYS, SPECIFICALLY YOU WRITE IT'S ADORABLE TO BELIEVE THAT WE LIVE IN A MERITOCRACY, BUT SO MUCH OF CERTAIN TYPES OF SUCCESS IS DICTATED BY EVERYTHING ELSE BESIDES PERCEIVED SPECIAL TALENTS AND ABILITIES.

IT'S ABOUT PRIVILEGE AND HOW THAT PRIVILEGE GIVES WAY TO GREATER ACCESS AND LARGER MEANS THAN ARE AFFORDED TO THOSE WHO LACK IT.

SO WHAT WAS IT THAT LED YOU TO THAT REALIZATION, IF YOU WILL?

I DON'T WANT TO PLUG BOTH BOOKS, BUT I HAD A VERY CHAOTIC CHIL CHILDHOOD, VERY VIOLENT, A LOT OF CERTAIN ISSUES AND SO I DON'T -- AGAIN, I DON'T HAVE A LOT OF BLINDERS.

I GUESS WHAT I THOUGHT WAS IT WOULDN'T BE AS DIFFICULT TO JUST KIND OF KEEP GETTING OVER THE HUMP.

I THINK SOME OF THESE PROBLEMS THAT I HAD SPECIFICALLY ARE RELATED TO MEDIA BUT THEY'RE ALSO RELATED TO ANYBODY WHO IS BLACK.

A LOT OF THINGS THAT IMPACTED ME ARE BEYOND MY CONTROL.

IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT BECAUSE OF THE WAY I MAY SOUND, HOW I CARRY MYSELF, OH, BLACK QUEER LIMITED, HE CAN'T DO ANYTHING.

IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE THESE IDEAS OF MY EARNING POTENTIAL BASED ON THINGS OUTSIDE OF MY CONTROL, BUT THAT DOES IMPACT MY BOTTOM LINE.

THERE'S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT I WAS PAID AND I DON'T WANT TO DIE POOR.

NOT SOLELY BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME AUTHOR BUT BECAUSE OF THE ASSUMPTION BECAUSE OF WHO I AM, THE STORIES I TELL THAT THERE'S NO VALUE IN THAT.

THAT IMPACTED SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE, WOMEN, OTHERS, SO THOSE ARE THINGS BEYOND OUR CONTROL.

I DO THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT I SHOULDN'T HAVE TAKEN OUT THE THOSE LOANS.

I COULD HAVE DONE EVERYTHING PERFECTLY, NOT HAD ANY DEBT AND STILL COULD BE IN DEBT IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAT I CAN'T CONTROL PEOPLE'S PREJUDICES.

IT'S ALSO ABOUT INEQUALITY AND THE MYTH OF SOCIAL MOBILITY IN THIS COUNTRY THAT IS NOT AS EASY AS PEOPLE MAKE IT SEEM.

I'M SPEAKING WITH WRITER MICHAEL ARSINO ABOUT HIS SECOND BOOK, A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, 'I DON'T WANT TO DIE POOR.'

YOU TOUCH ON ISSUES THAT I FEEL AS THOUGH, ESPECIALLY WITH OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE, THAT WE TRIED TO LOOK AT, BUT I'M WONDERING FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE FOR, LET'S SAY WORKING POOR, WORKING CLASS, EVEN MIDDLE CLASS BLACK AND BROWN STUDENTS BECAUSE THERE IS THAT STARTING AT A DISADVANTAGE, IS THERE AN ADDITIONAL PRICE THAT COMES WITH CHASING YOUR DREAMS IF THOSE DREAMS DON'T IMMEDIATELY COME WITH A BIG PAYCHECK?

YEAH, I MEAN, AND IT'S CHASING THE DREAMS, IT'S TRYING TO LIVE.

WE UNFORTUNATELY A LOT OF US JUST DON'T HAVE AN -- ONE THING I WILL SAY ABOUT THE BOOK IS THAT I TALK REALLY -- EVERYTHING THAT I DO, I REALLY DO TRY TO HAVE A WORKING CLASS PERSPECTIVE BECAUSE THAT'S WHO I AM, AND I THINK THAT'S OFTEN MISSING.

BLACK WORKING CLASS PERSPECTIVE BECAUSE LAST I HEARD ECONOMIC ANXIETY WAS A POPULAR CONVERSATION, YET YOU DON'T USUALLY HEAR FROM ECONOMIC ANXIETY FROM PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE US.

AND LIKE I TALK ABOUT STRUGGLE BUT I REALLY DO WANT THE DREAMERS TO LIKE UNDERSTAND THAT LIKE, YOU KNOW T C, IT CAN BE H.

IT CAN BE DIFFICULT.

YOU CAN KEEP GOING.

YOU CAN FIND JOY IN THESE HARD TIMES.

YOU CAN LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

A LOT OF THE BOOK IS THAT I TOOK OUT SO MUCH ON MYSELF BECAUSE OF THINGS THAT WERE BEYOND MY CONTROL, AND I TOOK THE SHAME OF DEBT AND NOT PERFORMING WHAT I THOUGHT I SHOULD BE.

IN REALITY I'M ASKING MYSELF, I FORGAVE MYSELF FOR THINGS THAT I SHOULD HAVE NEVER NEEDED FORGIVENESS FOR, AND THAT WHAT I REALLY WANT PEOPLE WHO HAVE A DREAM, WHATEVER IT IS, TO KIND OF LIKE NOT FEEL GUILTY, PARTICULARLY IN THIS CONTEXT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST GRADUATED.

THEY'RE LOOKING AROUND, AND THEY HAVE NOTHING TO -- THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, AND THAT'S SCARY.

AND OF COURSE THE SECOND CRISIS IS ONLY EXACERBATING THAT.

RIGHT, AND IT'S JUST -- I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW AND THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

I DO THINK WHEN YOU TAKE FROM MY LIFE AND PARTICULARLY I DON'T WANT TO DIE POOR, I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE DOOMSDAY ASPECT, BUT I DO KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO GROW -- TO GRADUATE INTO A NIGHTMARE AND NOT JUST HAVE THE OPTIONS YOU THOUGHT WERE THERE.

IT'S PAINFUL AND IT'S HURTFUL.

YOU KIND OF GO A LITTLE STIR CRAZY.

I DO THINK YOU CAN FIGURE IT OUT.

YOU JUST HAVE TO BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND FOR ME IT'S LITTLE THINGS ABOUT WRITING IT DOWN STEP BY STEP, EVEN NOW.

I'M MUCH MORE FORTUNATE THAN I WAS EVEN A YEAR AGO BUT THAT CHANGED ON A WHIM.

SO MUCH OF OUR FATE RIGHT NOW IS IN THE HANDS OF SOMEONE ELSE.

I'M LEARNING TO CONTROL WHAT I CAN CONTROL AND THAT'S HOW I REACT TO BASICALLY INJUSTICE, INEQUALITY, UNFAIRNESS, SO YEAH, I'LL STOP NOW, BUT I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE WHO DO DREAM KIND OF TAKE THAT.

IT'S A REALLY DARK TIME AND I WANT PEOPLE TO FEEL AT LEAST BETTER ABOUT WHAT THEY CAN CONTROL.

WELL, OF COURSE, AND SPEAKING OF THE WAY THAT YOU TALK SO PERSONALLY ABOUT IT, I MEAN, YOUR BOOK DOES HAVE A VERY INTIMATE FEEL TO IT.

IT ALMOST FEELS AS THOUGH, WELL, YOU'RE TALKING TO THE READER.

YOU WERE TALKING TO ME IS WHAT I FELT LIKE.

AND SO IT MAKES DIGESTING A LOT OF YOUR ESSAYS SO MUCH, IT'S LIKE WATER ALMOST.

THANK YOU.

I WROTE ABOUT SOME REALLY PAINFUL THINGS, SOME STUFF I DIDN'T NECESSARILY THINK I WOULD BE TALKING ABOUT BECAUSE YOU CAN REALLY TIE IT TO YOUR DEBT, CONTROL ABOUT FOOD AND THINGS AND DATING.

BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE, I DON'T KNOW.

WE WERE KEEPING SECRETS ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE HOME, I ALSO THINK THERE'S A LOT OF US KEEP SECRETS ABOUT OUR MONEY AND HOW WE FEEL ABOUT IT AND THE PRESSURES OF PERFORMING, PARTICULARLY IN THIS, AND EVEN BEFORE THIS, WHICH IS REALLY HARD.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO BE A LOT MORE HONEST.

I DIDN'T GLEEFULLY WRITE THIS BOOK.

IT WAS A MISERABLE EXPERIENCE WRITING IT, PARTICULARLY AS I WAS FACING SOME OF THE STRUGGLES I THOUGHT I'D HAVE BEEN DONE WITH BY THEN.

BUT EVEN -- IT WAS MISERABLE TO WRITE, BUT I REALLY DO -- I'M A LITTLE HOKEY, I'M GETTING OLDER, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO TELL OUR STORIES, TO FACE OUR SHAME IN ORDER TO JUST KIND OF ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER BECAUSE I JUST DON'T THINK ANY OF US SHOULD BE CARRYING SO MUCH OF THIS INSIDE, AND I DO THINK A LOT OF MILLENNIALS CARRY THIS INSIDE, AND I DON'T WANT PEOPLE BEHIND US TO KIND OF CARRY THIS A SHAME.

LIKE WE REALLY NEED TO BREAK THESE CYCLES, WE'RE ALL KIND OF TRAPPED, AND WE MIGHT BE TRAPPED IN OUR HOMES EVEN LONGER BECAUSE OF AN UNJUST SOCIETY.

WE NEED TO KIND OF EXAMINE THOSE THINGS.

WELL, YOU SPEAK SO ELOQUENTLY ABOUT ADDRESSING, ACKNOWLEDGING AND RELEASING SHAME, AND AGAIN, WHAT WOULD I GUESS BE YOUR ADVICE TO MILLENNIALS, GEN Z, THE KIDS WHO JUST GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL AND ARE NOW TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE A SOCIALLY DISTANCED FIRST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE COMING UP.

WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE CARRYING A SHAME THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY THEIR BURDEN TO BEAR?

I'M REALLY SORRY ABOUT WHAT'S H HAPPENING.

THOSE ARE MEMORIES YOU CAN'T RECREATE, BUT I CAN SAY, YOU KNOW, DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF.

IT SOUNDS SO MUCH EASIER.

BELIEVE ME, I KNOW, BUT I DO THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO -- YOU MIGHT HAVE TO MATURE A LITTLE BIT FASTER.

I DON'T MEAN TO SAY THAT IN INSULTINGLY.

YOU COULD LITERALLY BECOME 50 AND STILL BE STUCK IN A PLACE.

A LOT OF MY BOOK IS LIKE DON'T BE A FOOL LIKE ME.

DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF.

REALLY ASSESS THAT A LOT OF THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT AND TAKE CONTROL OF WHAT YOU CAN.

I WILL SAY TO CERTAIN COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO MIGHT BE TAKING ON A REALLY SIZABLE DEBT FOR THIS IDEA OF WHAT THEY THOUGHT COULD BE AND MIGHT NOT ACTUALLY BE GETTING THE EXPERIENCE THEY WERE TO ME ALREADY BEING OVERCHARMGE FOR.

REALLY TAKE THIS SUMMER TO ASSESS HOW MUCH THE DEBT IS WORTH.

I'M NOT GOING TO PRETEND THAT YOU MIGHT NOT IS TO TAKE OUT ANY KIND OF DEBT, BUT YOU PROBABLY WILL.

YOU SHOULD VALUE HOW MUCH OF IT YOU'RE WILLING TO TAKE.

DON'T BE THE FOOL LIKE ME.

I DON'T REGRET WHAT I DID.

BUT I WISH I WOULD HAVE DONE IT DIFFERENTLY SLIGHTLY IF I COULD HAVE.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE SECOND BOOK, 'I DON'T WANT TO DIE POOR,' AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

ABSOLUTELY.

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