MetroFocus: December 3, 2020

Emmanuel Acho’s newly released “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” began as engaging and intuitive conversations on Instagram. Now in a new book, in collaboration with Oprah, the former NFL linebacker and sports analyst is gathering those thoughts and answers to tackle systematic racism in America and encourage anti-racist work.

New York’s skyline has soared to new heights in recent years thanks in large part to construction workers. But amid this building boom dozens have died on the job despite regulations intended to keep them safe. Workplace tragedies continue at job sites across the country. Now a new film, “Building The American Dream” is giving us a firsthand look at the fight for fair working conditions and the abuse of immigrant labor. Airing as part of Voces — the acclaimed PBS documentary series produced by Latino Public Broadcasting — the film takes us to Texas to depict the downside of putting business over people. As part of our Chasing The Dream initiative on poverty, justice and economic opportunity in America, the film’s Producer and Director Chelsea Hernandez joins us.

 

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENA FLANNIGAN.

METROFOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SILVIA A. AND SIMON B.

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTISEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, AND BY BRANDON PRINDEL SIDE LEAR, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA STONE FOUNDATION.

FUNDING FOR CHASING THE DREAM IS PROVIDED BY THE JPB FOUNDATION.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR CHASING THE DREAM IS PROVIDED BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

♪ ♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.

I AM JACK FORD.

DURING THIS EXTRAORDINARY PERIOD OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL TURMOIL, WE'VE COME TO REALIZE THAT ONE OF THE THINGS WE DESPERATELY NEED IS MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION.

A COMMODITY THAT HAS BEEN SCARCE UP UNTIL NOW, BUT WE ARE FORTUNATE THAT ONE MAN HAS STEPPED FORWARD.

MANUEL ACHA HAS USED HIS STATUS AS A FORM ARE FOOTBALL START IN THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, IN THE NFL TO CREATE A PLATFORM FOR CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL, THAT ARE REAL AND THAT ARE RELEVANT AND THOUGHTFUL AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT, THAT ARE DIFFICULT.

AND HE JOINS US NOW TO TALK ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK, HIS BOOK HAS BORROWED, IF I CAN, THE TITLE FROM HIS ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL VIDEO SERIES AND THE BOOK IS ENTITLED UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN AND EMANUEL JOINS US AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY JUSTICE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

EMANUEL, WELCOME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

BEING.

THE PLEASURE IS MINE AND THANK YOU FOR THE KIND INTRODUCTION, MY FRIEND.

I WANT TO PREFACE THIS BY SAYING I READ THE BOOK YESTERDAY.

IT WAS FABULOUS AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT I MENTIONED, BUT I THOUGHT AS IMPORTANT, IT WAS AS IF, AS I WAS READING THE BOOK, I WAS ACTUALLY HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH YOU.

DIFFERENT BOOKS ARE WRITTEN IN DIFFERENT FASHIONS, AND I SUSPECT THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT.

I WANT TO GET TO THE BOOK IN A SECOND, BUT I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHERE THIS BOOK IS COMING FROM.

I THINK THEY NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT YOU, AND I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT, AND I MENTIONED YOUR EXTRAORDINARY FOOTBALL SUCCESS, BUT I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT IN YOUR BOOK YOU SAY THIS EARLY ON.

YOU SAY YOUR WORD, I'VE BEEN NAVIGATING THE LANES BETWEEN WHITENESS AND BLACKNESS ALL OF MY LIFE.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

JACK, IF WE CAN START THIS OFF BY BEING UNCOMFORTABLE.

I REALIZE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLOR AND CULTURE.

JACK, I WENT TO AN AFFLUENT WHITE, PRIVATE SCHOOL FROM GRADE 5 THROUGH 12 AND I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MERIT SCHOLAR AND GO TO HARVARD AND YALE AND I HAPPENED TO BE 246 POUNDS AND I SAID LET ME PLAY FOOTBALL.

LET ME PUT THIS IN CONTEXT, THERE WERE PERFECT A.C.T. AND S.A.T. SCORES FROM STUDENTS IN MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS, THERE WERE 16-YEAR-OLDS WHO WERE ALREADY COMPOSING MUSIC FOR VIOLINS AND CELLO.

I WAS AT A SCHOOL WITH THE CREAM OF THE CROP.

IT IS CALLED ST. MARK'S SCHOOL IN TEXAS AND THE NUMBER ONE PRIVATE SCHOOL IN DALLAS.

I WAS IMMERSED IN WHITE CULTURE, JACK AND I GO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AND THEN GO TO THE NFL AND I WAS IMMERSED IN BLACK CULTURE, BUT I AM FIRST-GENERATION AMERICAN AND MY PARENTS WERE BORN IN NIGERIA.

SO WHILE MY SKIN IS BLACK I GREW UP IN NIGERIAN CULTURE.

SO I HAD TO LEARN WHITE CULTURE AND LEARN BLACK CULTURE AND I HAD TO NAVIGATE WHITE SPACES AND BLACK SPACES AND WHILE WE ALL SPEAK ENGLISH, JACK, THERE IS A CLEAR, LARGE COMMUNICATION BARRIER BETWEEN WHITE PEOPLE AND HOW THEY COMMUNICATE TO BLACK PEOPLE AND HOW THEY COMMUNICATE.

I SHOULD KNOW, BY THE WAY, I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE GOTTEN YOU TO COME UP TO NEW HAVEN AND BLADE FOR THE YALE BULLDOGS, BUT IT WAS OUR LOSS AND THE LONG HORNS' GAIN.

LET ME GO TO THE TITLE OF THE BOOK, ALL RIGHT?

BECAUSE I THINK TITLES ARE SO INTERESTING AND SO IMPORTANT, AND THEY ARE SO DIFFICULT TO COME UP OFTENTIMES, AND I KNOW YOU HAD A WORKING TITLE THAT WAS DIFFERENT FROM THIS.

WHY IS THE NOTION OF UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS SO IMPORTANT?

BECAUSE I THINK THAT ANYTHING WORTH DOING IT IS BIRTHED THROUGH DISCOMFORT.

ANYTHING GREAT, JACK -- IN PLAYING FOOTBALL, IN ORDER TO START THE SEASON, YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH TRAINING CAMP AND TRAINING CAMP FOR THOSE THAT WILL WATCH AND DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, TRAINING CAMP IS GRUELING PRACTICES IN THE TEXAS HEAT FOR MANY WITH ABOUT 12 POUNDS OF PADDING ON.

YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH YOU THAT DISCOMFORT TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL.

GOING THROUGH NO AMOUNT OF DISCOMFORT AND PAIN TO BIRTH THE NEXT GREAT CHILD THAT WILL ACCOMPLISH THE NEXT GREAT THING.

I THINK, JACK, IF WE WANT TO DO ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT IN OUR COUNTRY, WHICH IS MEND THE DIVIDE OF RACISM WHICH IS BRIDGE THE GAPS AND LEAD TO RACIAL RECONCILIATION, IT WILL HAVE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK, I THINK, IS VERY INTERESTING AND VERY COMPELLING.

DIFFERENT SUBJECTS ARE TREATED IN EACH ONE, SUCH AS WHAT SHOULD YOU CALL US?

AND YOU THIS WHOLE WAY THAT YOU LOOK AT BACK IN HISTORY AND YOU LOOK AT COLORED AND NEEG GRO AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND BLACK.

YOU TALK ABOUT ALL OF THOSE AND HOW YOU CAN BE AN ALLY AND HAVE THE CONVERSATIONS.

EACH CHAPTER STARTS WITH A QUESTION AND IT IS SO INTERESTING TO SEE THOSE QUESTIONS BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T REALLY YOUR QUESTIONS.

WHERE DO THE QUESTIONS COME FROM?

GREAT QUESTION.

AFTER THE FIRST EPISODE, JACK, I GOT 25 MILLION VIEWS IN ABOUT FOUR DAYS AND I WAS, LIKE, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, BUT THE HEART OF THE SHOW WAS TO TALK TO PEOPLE, SO I READ EVERY SINGLE E-MAIL PROBABLY 1300 E-MAILS IN THE FIRST FOUR DAYS AND I WOULD FLAG E-MAILS OF QUESTIONS THAT I WANTED TO GET TO IN MORE DETAIL, SO EVERY QUESTION THAT YOU SEE IN MY BOOK WHICH STARTS EVERY CHAPTER WHICH IS FROM A REAL PERSON, A GENUINE SPACE AND SINCERITY, AND I HAD FLAGGED THESE QUESTIONS FROM WAY BACK WHEN, AND I HAD TRIED TO FIND DUPLICATING THINGS.

SO I START EVERY CHAPTER WITH THE REAL QUESTIONS FROM REAL PEOPLE.

ONCE AGAIN, WE'RE TALKING WITH EMANUEL ACHO WHO AMONG OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN HIS LIFE IS THE AUTH ARE OF 'UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN.'

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SPECIFICS HERE AND EACH OF THESE CHAPTERS IS SO COMPELLING AND I WANT TO TOUCH ON A COUPLE OF THEM HERE.

IN ONE OF THEM YOU TALK ABOUT THE FACT AND PEOPLE MIGHT FIND THIS ODD AND COUNTERINTUITIVE.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE SHOULD STOP CELEBRATING COLORBLINDNESS.

MOST PEOPLE IF YOU ASKED THEM AND THEY WOULD THINK, IF THEY CAN SAY THAT THEY WERE COLORBLIND, THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE A POSITIVE, BUT YOU'RE SAYING THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING.

WHY NOT AND WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?

BECAUSE THERE IS A DAFRPS BETWEEN INTENTION AND DIRECTION.

THE INTENTION BEHIND BEING COLORBLIND IS PURE, AND IS TRYING TO SAY I TREAT ALL PEOPLE EQUALLY BECAUSE I'M COLOR BLIND WHEN WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING IS SEEING EACH OTHER'S COLORS, CULTURES AND APPRECIATING NONE THELESS.

IMAGINE HOW SILLY IF I WALKED OUT AFTER AN OVERCAST DAY, JACK, SEE THE RAINBOW.

I CAN'T SEE THE RAINBOW.

WHEN YOU DON'T SEE COLOR, YOU DON'T SEE THE BEAUTY THATS WITH THAT.

THERE'S A BEAUTY THAT COMES WITH MY COLOR IN BEING BLACK AND BROWN AND A BEAUTY THAT COMES WITH THE CULTURE AND I DO NOT ASK FOR YOU TO NOT SEE IT, SEE EVERY ATTRIBUTE THAT DESCRIBES ME, MY HEIGHT, MY WEIGHT AND WHATEVER THE BEAUTY IS.

SO DON'T BE COLORBLIND.

SEE COLOR AND APPRECIATE COLOR.

YOU ALSO TALK ABOUT IN ONE OF THE CHAPTERS IS HAVING AN ALLY.

YEAH.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY HOW TO BE AN ALLY?

AGAIN, I SAY, SO MANY PEOPLE AFTER THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD, EMANUEL, I'M HERE FOR YOU.

WHAT CAN I DO?

SEE, JACK?

THEY WANTED TO BE AN ALLY, BUT THEY DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO BE AN ALLY.

AND I WANTED TO EDUCATE MY WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND ALL OF THOSE WHO WANT TO GET INTO THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY WHICH WILL GREATLY IMPROVE THIS GREAT NATION, AND I WANT TO EDUCATE THEM ON HOW TO BE.

YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP DECISIVELY, PROMPTLY AND YOU HAVE TO BE ACCURATE IN YOUR SPEECH WHEN YOU DO SHOW UP.

SO IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO WANT TO BE AN ALLY.

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE GREAT INTENTIONS.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THOSE INTENTIONS?

YOU MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION THAT YOU HAD STARTED THIS VIDEO SERIES, SHORTLY AFTER THAT TRAGIC AND HORRIFIC DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD AND HOW THE BOOK HAS FLOWN, IF YOU WILL, FROM THAT.

LET ME GO BACK TO THE VIDEO SERIES.

THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS YOU'RE SEEING AND YOU'RE A HOST AND ANALYST WITH FOX SPORTS.

WHAT MADE YOU SAY, THIS IS WHAT I'VE GOT TO DO, SIT DOWN AND CREATE THIS VIDEO SERIES AND HAVE THESE UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS.

YOU KNOW, I'VE NEVER ANSWERED THIS QUESTION LIKE THIS, BUT NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, I THINK IT WAS MY FORM OF GRIEF.

I'VE NEVER SAID THAT BEFORE, BUT NOW THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IT'S DAWNED ON ME JUST NOW THAT SOME PEOPLE WERE CRYING, SOME PEOPLE WERE SCREAMING, SOME PEOPLE WERE QUIET.

SOME PEOPLE WERE DISTRAUGHT.

I WAS A LITTLE BIT OF ALL THOSE THINGS, BUT I KNEW I HAD TO SPEAK, AND I HAD TO GET MY FEELINGS OUT THERE.

JACK, I'M NOT THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO LIKES TO COMPLAIN, WHETHER IT IS JUSTIFIED AND DO NOTHING ABOUT IT, AND SO WHILE SO MANY OF MY BLACK BROTHERS AND SISTERS WERE JUSTIFIABLY MARCHING AND PROTESTING AND SEEKING JUSTICE IN DIFFERENT FORMS.

I REALIZE THAT MY VOICE IS MY SOURCE, AND SO I'M GOING TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE THE WAY I KNOW HOW.

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT EXTRAORDINARY REACTION?

AS YOU SAID, MILLIONS OF VIEWS.

LAST TIME I LOOKED IT WAS MORE THAN 70 MILLION VIEWS OF THIS, AND AGAIN, IF YOU WATCH IT, YOU MAKE CERTAIN TO BRING ON PEOPLE AND CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE.

WERE YOU SURPRISED AT SUCH A POSITIVE REACTION TO IT?

YEAH.

YOU CAN'T NOT BE SURPRISED WHEN JUST ONE EPISODE OF ME SITTING IN AN ALL-WHITE ROOM GETS 25 MILLION VIEWS IN FOUR DAYS.

PUT THIS IN CONTEXT.

I PLAYED IN THE NFL, BUT I WASN'T LIKE A HALL OF FAMER.

IT'S NOT LIKE I'M MICHAEL STRAHAN.

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THAT, IN MY NFL CAREER, WHILE I KNEW IT WAS A GREAT CONCEPT, I DIDN'T KNOW THE RECEPTION WOULD BE SO RADICAL.

I DIDN'T THINK I'D GET CALLS FROM MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY FROM NO CALLER I.D. NUMBERS AND JENNIFER ANISTON AND REESE WITHERSPOON WOULD REACH OUT AND ROGER GOODELL WOULD CALL ME.

I HAD NO IDEA.

IT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU SAY IN THE BOOK THAT STRUCK ME, AND YOUIO SAY THIS MIGHT BE SURPRISG TO PEOPLE.

YOU SAY ENDING RACISM IS NOT A FINISH LINE, RIGHT?

THAT WE WILL CROSS, RATHER IT'S A ROAD WELL TRAVELED.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

IN SPORTS, YOU HAVE AN OBJECTIVE TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN IN FOOTBALL.

YOU CROSS THE THICK WHITE LINE AND SCORE A TOUCHDOWN AND YOU'RE GOOD.

YOU CROSS THE THRESHOLD, IN TRACK AND FIELD YOU CROSS THE FINISH LINE AND YOU KNOW THERE IS AN END POINT, BUT I REALIZE WITH RACIAL RECONCILIATION, JACK, THERE ISN'T SOME SORT OF END POINT THAT WE KNOW WE WILL GET TO SO WE MUST CONTINUE TO TRAVEL THE ROAD TOGETHER.

WE WON'T LOOK UP IN 30 DAYS FROM NOW AND SAY WE DID IT, WE SOLVED RACE IM.

THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AND WHAT WE CAN LOOK UP AND SAY IS WE'RE DOING IT AND WE'RE SOLVING IT TOGETHER.

WE'RE ON THAT ROAD, RIGHT?

ONCE AGAIN, THE BOOK IS TITLED UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN.

EMMANUEL ACHO, IT IS A MARVELOUS BOOK.

IT IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT AND THOUGHTFUL AND COMPELLING DIRECTION FOR US TO FOLLOW AS HAVE BEEN YOUR VIDEO SERIES.

EMANUEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING AGAIN WITH YOU.

THANK YOU, MY FRIEND.

THE PLEASURE IS MINE.

TAKE CARE NOW.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

THE NEW YORK SKYLINE HAS SOARED TO NEW HEIGHTS IN RECENT YEARS THANKS IN LARGE PART TO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, BUT AMID THIS BUILDING BOOM, DOZENS HAVE DIED ON THE JOB DESPITE REGULATIONS INTENDED TO KEEP THEM SAFE.

WORKPLACE TRAGEDIES CONTINUE TO HAPPEN IN JOB SITES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND NOW A NEW FILM, BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM IS GIVING US A FIRST-HAND LOOK AT THE ABUSE OF IMMIGRANT LABOR AND THE FIGHT FOR FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS.

THE ACCLAIMED PBS DOCUMENTARY SERIES PRODUCED BY LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING, THE FILM TAKES US TO TEXAS THAT SHOWS THE DOWN SIDE OF PRIORITIZING BUSINESS OVER WORKERS.

HERE IS A PREVIEW.

♪ ♪ [ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]

ONE IN FIVE TEXAS CONSTRUCTION WORKERS ARE SUBJECT TO WORKPLACE INJURY OR FATALITY.

THESE ARE FOLKS WORKING TEN HOURS DOING THE HARDEST JOB YOU CAN POSSIBLY DO.

[ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]

> JOINING US NOW IS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

THE FILM'S PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR, CHELSEA HERNANDEZ.

CHELSEA, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

CHELSEA, FIRST OF ALL, WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE AND WHAT ULTIMATELY LED YOU TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT IT?

SURE.

SO I WAS ATTENDING COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS BACK IN 2009 AND WHILE I WAS ATTENDING SCHOOL THERE, WAS THERE A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT NEAR CAMPUS AND THREE WORKERS HAD FALLEN TO THEIR DEATHS AFTER THEIR SCAFFOLD HAD COLLAPSED AND SO THAT KIND OF WOKE ME UP TO REALIZE THAT THE WORKERS WHO WERE BUILDING MY HOMETOWN WERE DYING OR BEING INJURED AT THE JOB, AND I FOUND THIS ORGANIZATION CALLED WORKERS' DEFENSE PROJECT AND THAT'S WHEN I HAD LEARNED THAT TEXAS WAS DEADLY FOR CONSTRUCTION AND NEARLY HALF A MILLION -- HALF A MILLION WORKFORCE WAS UNDOCUMENTED AND SO I WAS JUST SHOCKED THAT THIS WAS HAPPENING IN MY HOMETOWN AND HAVING IT ACROSS THE STATE REALLY AND WANTING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND SO I STARTED FILMING IN 2014, AND FILMED FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS.

MOST OF THE WORKERS IN THE FILM ARE UNDOCUMENTED.

NOT ALL, BUT MOST.

THAT'S WHAT MAKES THEM SO INCREDIBLY VULNERABLE TO ABUSE AND TO EXPLOITATION, RIGHT?

AS FAR AS THEY ARE NOW.

IMMIGRANT WORKERS ARE MORE AT RISK OF BEING INJURED IN THE JOB AND MAKING WAGE THEFT MORE THAN THE AMERICAN COHORTS AND THAT'S THE REALITY OF THE INDUSTRY.

THIS CULTURE OF THE WORKPLACE HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR A LONG TIME.

TEXAS IS THE ONLY STATE IN THE COMPANY THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE COMPANIES TO PROVIDE WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION, AND I THINK IT LEADS TO A LOT OF EXPLOITATION ON THE JOB ESPECIALLY THE IMMIGRANTS.

WELL, YOU KNOW, AS THE FILM PROGRESSES, THE WORKERS IN YOUR FILM BEGIN TO ORGANIZE AND BEGIN TO FIGHT BACK AND HAVE SOME SUCCESSES.

I DON'T WANT TO GIVE MUCH AWAY, BUT ONE PARTICULAR WORKER WHO IS VERY ACTIVE AND VERY IMPRESSIVE AND JUST AFTER SHE'S HAD SOME SUCCESS SHE GETS PICKED UP BY I.C.E., WAS THAT A COINCIDENCE OR RETALIATION?

I'M NOT SURE IF IT WAS IN REGARDS TO HER COMING OUT AND COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT BEING PAID, BUT REALLY, IT'S THE FEAR THAT MOST IMMIGRANTS FACE ESPECIALLY UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS IS THE FEAR OF BEING DEPORTED.

SO NOT ONLY DOES SHE GO TO WORK EVERY DAY TO A DANGEROUS SITE WHERE SHE COULD POTENTIALLY GET INJURED, BUT ALSO FACE THEFT WHICH SHE WAS GOING THROUGH, BUT ALSO DRIVING HOME OR DRIVING TO THE GROCERY STORE OR PICKING UP HER KIDS, SHE COULD POTENTIALLY BE DEPORTED.

IT IS AMAZING.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF VERY DRAMATIC STORIES IN THE FILM AND VERY CAPTIVATING.

THERE IS ONE WHERE YOU FOLLOW A FAMILY WHOSE SON DIED IN HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HE WAS WORKING IN OVER 100-DEGREE WEATHER TEMPERATURES WITHOUT A BREAK.

THE FAMILY GOES TO THE DALLAS CITY COUNCIL PUSHING FOR AN ORDINANCE THAT ASKS THAT REQUIRES A TEN-MINUTE BREAK EVERY FOUR HOURS.

EXTREMELY MODEST.

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I WAS SO SURPRISED TO HEAR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ARGUE AGAINST THAT.

I WAS SURPRISED AND ANGERED, AND I WONDER, WAS THAT YOUR REACTION AS YOU WERE WITNESSING IT?

IT REALLY WAS.

I MEAN, I WASN'T SO MUCH SURPRISED THAT THEY WERE -- THEY HAD THIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS WORKERS AND TOWARDS REGULATIONS OF BUSINESSES AFTER RESEARCHING YEARS BEFORE WE STARTED PICKING UP THE CAMERA.

I KNEW THAT THE BUSINESS -- THAT THE POLITICAL SECTOR WAS DEFINITELY ONBOARD WITH LITTLE REGULATIONS AND WANTED BUSINESSES TO FLOURISH AND WASN'T LOOKING OUT FOR THE LITTLE GUYS AND THE EMPLOYEE, BUT I WAS REALLY SHOCKED THAT THEY WERE SAYING SOME PRETTY MEAN STUFF IN FRONT OF THE FAMILY WHO JUST LOST THEIR SON TO HEAT STROKE ON THE JOB, CALLING THEM AND THE GROUP THAT WERE FIGHTING WITH THEM CHARLATANS AND TO QUIT TELLING THE BUSINESS NO.

THAT WAS SHOCKING TO ME THAT THEY WERE JUST SO OPEN ABOUT IT IN A PUBLIC FORUM.

IT WAS A PUBLIC CITY COUNCIL HEARING BEING RECORDED.

MEDIA WAS THERE.

SO THAT WAS REALLY SHOCKING TO ME, BUT I DO GET IT WAS EMBLEMATIC OF HOW GOVERNMENT AND THE INDUSTRY WORKS TOGETHER HERE IN THE STATE.

BUT YOU KNOW, THE FUNDAMENTAL ARGUMENT THAT THESE COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE MAKING AND THAT TEXAS BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT TENDS TO MAKE IS THAT TESHGS TE TEXAS HAS HAD ECONOMIC SUCCESS BECAUSE IT'S HAD SO FEW REGULATIONS AND BECAUSE ITS HAD SUCH A RELATIVELY DOCILE WORKFORCE AND IF THEY LOSE THOSE ADVANTAGES THEN EVERYBODY LOSES, INCLUDING THE WORKERS.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT ARGUMENT?

YEAH.

I THINK IT'S REALLY NOT TRUE.

YOU KNOW, IN TEXAS, IS THE LARGE SHORTAGE OF WORKERS AND MANY HAVE FLED BACK TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF RETALIATION, THE FEAR OF DEPORTATION ESPECIALLY IN OUR CURRENT TIMES WHERE WE HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO IS FEEDING ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC TO THE PUBLIC, BUT THIS MYTH OF THEM TAKING AWAY JOBS OR, YOU KNOW, LITTLE -- IF WE ADD ON MORE REGULATIONS, BUSINESSES AREN'T GOING TO COME.

OFTEN IN DALLAS BOTH NOW HAVE ORDINANCES AND COMPANIES CONTINUE TO FLOURISH.

SO WE DON'T SEE A LACK OF BOOM THAT IS HAPPENING IN THE STATE AND IN REALITY, I THINK IT COULD REALLY ADD TO THE WORKFORCE AND HELP FILL THAT SHORTAGE OF WORKERS IF PEOPLE KNOW THAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, THEN THEY WON'T GET KILLED ON THE JOB AND MAYBE THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY COULD ACTUALLY EXPAND AND REALLY DO WELL AT PROTECTING THEIR WORKERS.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT -- THE AMERICAN DREAM IS IN THE TITLE AND THAT'S A PHRASE THAT OFTEN BY MULTIGENERATION AMERICANS IS SEEN AS A SLOGAN OR CLICHE, BUT CERTAINLY NOT FOR THE PEOPLE THAT YOU FILM.

FOR THE PEOPLE THAT YOU FILM THE AMERICAN DREAM IS VERY REAL.

NOT ONLY THAT, THEY ARE BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAMS IN THEIR LIVES EVEN WITH THE OBSTACLES THAT THEY FACE AND YOU SHOW THAT.

YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT IT, BUT YOU SHOW IT AND THE FAMILIES ARE DOING WELL.

THEY'RE HARDWORKING AND KIND OF CONSERVATIVE.

AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE AS OZZIE AND HARRIET MUCH MORE THAN MOST AMERICANS ARE AND THAT'S THE IRONY.

THESE PEOPLE WOULDN'T BE ORGANIZING AND FIGHTING IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO.

THEY ARE WORKERS, CONSERVATIVES AND THEY SAY THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND IT'S IRONIC THAT IT'S THE CONSERVATIVES WHO SHOULD SEE THEM AS CONSTITUENTS THAT ARE KIND OF FIGHTING THEM.

IS THAT CHANGING IN TEXAS, BECAUSE IT'S CHANGING NATIONALLY A LITTLE BIT.

WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE?

YEAH, I MEAN, YOU'RE SO ON POINT.

THESE WORKERS ARE VERY PRIDEFUL TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY.

I KNOW CLAUDIA, ONE OF THE ELECTRICIANS FEATURED IN THE FILM, SHE WAS ALWAYS WEARING, YOU KNOW, T-SHIRTS THAT HAD THE AMERICAN FLAG AND WAS BOASTING THESE PATRIOTIC IMAGES AND SO THEY'RE VERY PROUD TO, YOU KNOW, BUILD WITH THEIR HANDS AND BUILD THESE BUILDINGS THAT MAKE UP THE CITY SKYLINE, BUT I DO THINK THAT THERE IS A CHANGE AND, YOU KNOW, CURRENTLY WITH THE PANDEMIC HAPPENING, PEOPLE ARE REALIZING THAT WORKERS ARE ESSENTIAL AND SO I THINK ESPECIALLY CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN TEXAS.

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WERE WORKING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC.

THEY WERE CONSIDERED BY THE GOVERNOR AS ESSENTIAL BACK IN APRIL, BUT KNOWING THAT THEY DON'T HAVE -- THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC AND WHO IS TO SAY THEY WON'T BE PROVIDED A SAFE WORKING CONDITION NOW IN A PANDEMIC?

AND SO I THINK PEOPLE ARE REALIZING THAT WORKERS ARE, YOU KNOW, IN DIRE SITUATIONS AND NEED BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS.

SO I DO THINK IT IS CHANGING AS FAR AS THE ATTITUDE TO PROTECT WORKERS AND HAVE THE PATRIOTISM FOR THE COUNTRY, BUT FOR THE WORKERS AND YOU KNOW NEW YORK IS CONSIDERED A STATE, AND HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE GENERAL STATEMENTS OF UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS?

YEAH.

I MEAN, NEW YORK DEFINITELY HAS MORE UNION WORKERS THAN TEXAS.

I BELIEVE TEXAS IS ABOUT 1% UNIONIZED.

SO IT'S A LITTLE BIT HARDER TO FIGHT FOR LAWS AND THAT'S WHY WORKER CENTERS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT AND COLLABORATE WITH UNIONS TO PUSH FOR LEGISLATION.

NEW YORK IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE THEY DO HAVE, YOU KNOW, A BIGGER UNION WORKFORCE.

HOWEVER, SINCE THE CITY BUDGET AND THE STATE BUDGET HAS KIND OF DECREASED THEIR FUNDING FOR CITY PROJECTS.

THAT'S WHEN YOU TEND TO SEE COMPANIES, DEVELOPERS HIRING CONTRACTORS THAT ARE NOT UNIONIZED AND DON'T HAVE A RAPPORT AND THEY END UP GETTING WORKERS ON THE STREETS WHO DON'T HAVE ANY TRAINING.

I DO KNOW THAT IN NEW YORK THEY JUST PASSED THE LEGISLATE NOW WHERE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS DO HAVE TO GET AN OSHA 30 WHICH IS REALLY GREAT FOR THE CITY IN MAKING SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE, YOU KNOW, WORKING CORRECTLY, PROVIDING THAT SAFE ENVIRONMENT AMONG EACH OTHER, BUT YOU KNOW, YOU CAN SEE, YOU KNOW, WHEN THERE IS A LACK OF SAFETY ON THE JOB.

YOU'LL HAVE MAJOR ACCIDENTS HAPPEN AND NEW YORK, THEY'VE HAD ACCIDENTS INCREASE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS AND THERE ARE SOME HORRENDOUS CRANE ACCIDENTS THAT HAPPENED THERE, AND IT MAKES YOU WONDER WHAT KIND OF WORKING CONDITIONS WERE THOSE WORKERS IN IN THE FIRST PLACE?

WE HAVE ABOUT 20 SECONDS LEFT.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE OF WORKERS IN AMERICA IN ADDITION BEYOND UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS?

YEAH.

I'M VERY OPTIMISTIC.

I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO CHANGE OVERNIGHT, BUT I THINK THERE IS A GROWING MOVEMENT, AND I HOPE THE FILM ENCOURAGES OTHER WORKERS TO STAND UP AND PUSH FOR MORE CHANGES IN LAWS.

CHELSEA, IT'S A WONDERFUL FILM.

I HOPE A LOT OF PEOPLE SEE IT AND IT WILL HAVE A GOOD IMPACT.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE TODAY.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE HAVING YOU HERE.

THANK YOU.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

♪ ♪

> 'METRO FOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SILVIA A. AND SIMON B.

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY JANET PRINDEL SIDE LER, JODI AND JOHN ARNE HOLD AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTIN, TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

♪ ♪

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