MetroFocus: July 20, 2021

Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell is leading the charge to bring live music back to New York City stages. He’ll be performing at Lincoln Center this summer and as chairman of The Actors Fund, Broadway’s favorite leading man is also helping the theater community get back on its feet. Since March 2020, the organization has provided more than $22 million to over 16,000 entertainment professionals. Tonight, the actor joins us to discuss this vital work, the reopening of Broadway theaters, and his new outdoor show, “Out with the Old, In with the New.”

For nearly thirty years, journalist Maria Hinojosa has made it her life’s work to report on the lives and struggles of some of America’s most marginalized communities. Her keen journalistic eye has earned her a number of awards, including a Peabody and multiple Emmys. And now, the Emmy award–winning journalist, and anchor and executive producer of Latino USA is hoping to connect once again by telling her own story. In her new book, “Once I Was You: A Memoir Of Love And Hate In A Torn America”, she shares her own experience as a Mexican American woman, offering an eye-opening account of how the rhetoric and policy over immigration has shaped modern day America.

TRANSCRIPT

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

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

TONY HAS BEEN DELIGHTING AUDIENCES WITH HIS SINGING AND ACTING TALENTS FOR DECADES NOW.

ONCE DESCRIBED AS THE LAST GREAT LEADING MAN, HE'S NOW LEADING THE CHARGE TO GET LIVE MUSIC BACK ON TO NEW YORK CITY STAGES WITH HIS UPCOMING OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW CONCERTS AT LINCOLN CENTER.

HE'S ALSO BEEN DEEPLY INVOLVED WITH HELPING TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR PERFORMERS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE PANDEMIC THROUGH HIS WORK AS THE CHAIR OF THE ACTOR'S FUND.

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM JOIN US HERE ONCE AGAIN AT 'METROFOCUS.'

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANKS, JACK.

GOOD TO SEE YOU, TOO.

THANKS FOR JOINING ME.

THE LAST TIME YOU AND I CHATTED YOU WERE JUST COMING OUT OF YOUR OWN BOUT WITH COVID.

TELL ME HOW YOU'RE DOING NOW.

I SEEM TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT, WHICH IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT, WHICH IS THAT I HAD A BAD CASE OF IT.

I DIDN'T END UP IN THE HOSPITAL BUT JUST SHORT OF THAT.

AND THE EFFECTS OF IT LASTED, I THINK, OR I WOULD SAY PROBABLY ANOTHER TWO AND A HALF MONTHS OR SO AFTER THE INITIAL TWO AND A HALF WEEKS THAT I HAD.

YOU KNOW, I WAS STILL GETTING TIRED.

I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH THIS AS WELL, BUT I HAD IT SUCH A LONG TIME AGO.

I WAS ONE OF THE FIRST PEOPLE I KNEW OF THAT HAD IT.

THAT'S WHY I WENT PUBLIC WITH IT AS WELL.

BUT I'M FEELING BETTER NOW THAT WE HAVE THE VACCINE.

I WAS OUT AT BROADWAY, THE FIRST BROADWAY OPENING, WHICH WAS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

HE VERY GENEROUSLY CAME IN AND DECIDED TO DO HIS SHOW AGAIN.

I WAS IN A THEATER OF VACCINATED PEOPLE CELEBRATING THIS OPENING AGAIN.

AND I WENT TO TWO OTHER SHOWS THAT WEEK AS WELL OF OTHER THINGS THAT WERE OPENING UP, WHICH WAS REALLY, REALLY EXCITING.

SOMETHING '54 BELOW.'

AND JAMES WESLEY HAD BEEN DOING STARS IN THE HOUSE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ACTORS' FUND.

WE HAD OUR FIRST LIVE SHOW TOGETHER CELEBRATING THE MILLION DOLLARS THAT THEY RAISED FOR THE ACTORS' FUND.

SO NOW WE'RE IN THIS TIME OF CELEBRATION.

GOOD.

THAT'S WONDERFUL.

GREAT VENUES, GREAT PEOPLE AND GREAT TO BE OUT AGAIN, TO BE VACCINATED, TO GET OUT.

SPEAKING OF GETTING OUT AND VENUES, YOU ARE COMING UP AND THE DATES ARE JULY 21st THROUGH JULY 23rd, AUGUST 4th THROUGH THE 14th THROUGH THE LINCOLN CENTER RESTART STAGES PROGRAM.

YOUR OWN CONCERTS I MENTIONED THE TITLE I HAVE SEEN IS 'OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW.'

CERTAINLY APPROPRIATE CONSIDERING WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH.

WE HAVE GONE THROUGH IT, HAVEN'T WE?

EVERYBODY HAS HAD SO MANY CHALLENGES THIS YEAR.

MAKES ME THINK BACK TO THE 1917 PANDEMIC.

NOT THAT I WAS THERE.

YOU AND I ARE OLD.

WE'RE NOT THAT OLD.

EXACTLY.

FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND, THAT IS WHAT KIND OF GAVE BIRTH TO THE ROARING '20s.

EVERYBODY WENT THROUGH THIS DARK, DEPRESSING TIME AND THEY WERE ALSO SHUT IN AND ISOLATED AND EVERYTHING.

WHEN IT PASSED OVER, EVERYBODY WENT CRAZY AND THERE WAS THIS NEW BOOM IN ENTERTAINMENT AND JUST EXCITEMENT AND CELEBRATION AS WELL.

SO THAT'S KIND OF WHAT I WANTED TO CAPTURE, THAT SAME KIND OF SPIRIT WITH MY CONCERT BECAUSE -- BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN SUCH A DIFFICULT TIME.

AND NOW WE ARE ABLE TO GET OUT.

AND I WANTED TO BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE.

I WANTED IT TO BE A CELEBRATION NOT ONLY OF MUSIC BUT OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT AND OF THE FACT WE'RE CAUGHT ALL OUT THERE.

THANK GOD FOR ALL THE SCIENTISTS AND ALL THE ESSENTIAL PEOPLE THAT HAVE KEPT US GOING.

I ALSO, THOUGH, WANT THE SHOW TO KIND OF ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH AS WELL.

I THINK IT'S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE DON'T FORGET THE SOMETIMES INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT LESSONS THAT WE HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THIS VERY CHALLENGING LAST YEAR THAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH, NOT ONLY THE PANDEMIC, BUT THE GEORGE FLOYD MURDER.

STILL WE HAVE ISSUES WITH SEXUAL INJUSTICE.

WE HAVE DYSFUNCTION IN OUR GOVERNMENT AS WELL.

AND, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE THOUGHT -- I THINK WE THOUGHT EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO FINALLY START COMING TOGETHER.

NO, IT SEEMS TO BE MORE DIVIDED THAN EVER.

BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS MORE GOOD PEOPLE THAN BAD PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

SO THIS IS A SHOW WHERE WE'RE GOING TO CELEBRATE ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE AS WELL AND SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT WE HAVE DONE.

AND I WANT PEOPLE TO FEEL BETTER THAN WHEN THEY LEAVE THAN THEY FEEL LIKE WE'RE KIND OF HAVING THIS COMMUNAL EXPERIENCE TOGETHER.

OKAY.

WELL, WE CAN EXPERIENCE AND CELEBRATE AND MOURN AND GET THROUGH WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH AND MOVE ON NOW.

WELL, AS YOU SAID, IT IS CERTAINLY THE RIGHT TIME TO CELEBRATE WHERE WE ARE NOW, BUT WITH THE UNDERSTANDING WE NEED TO ALWAYS REMEMBER WHAT WE CAME THROUGH BEFORE WE GOT HERE.

AND A MARVELOUS VENUE FOR YOU TO BE DOING THAT OUTDOORS AND AT LINCOLN CENTER.

I MENTIONED IN MY INTRODUCTION THAT YOU WERE SO DEEPLY INVOLVED AND HAVE BEEN SO DEEPLY INVOLVED IN YOUR ROLE AS THE CHAIR FOR THE ACTOR'S FUND AND PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE IN THE PERFORMING ARTS.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE ABLE TO DO DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME PERIOD.

WE DID A LOT.

THIS WAS A REALLY, REALLY CHALLENGING TIME PERIOD FOR ANYBODY WHO IS A PERFORMER.

I LOVINGLY CALL PEOPLE THAT AREN'T IN SHOW BUSINESS CIVILIANS BECAUSE I THINK FOR MOST CIVILIANS THE PANDEMIC WILL HAVE MAYBE A TWO-YEAR BEGINNING TO END, YOU KNOW, WHERE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE AT THE END OF THE TWO YEARS, AH, FEELS LIKE LIFE IS BACK TO NORMAL.

FOR PEOPLE IN SHOW BUSINESS, THAT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE MORE LIKE FIVE YEARS.

AND WHEN I SAY PEOPLE IN SHOW BUSINESS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN SHOW BUSINESS ARE NOT THESE MULTIBILLION DOLLAR MAKING STARS THAT YOU SEE ON FILMS AND IN THE NEWS ALL THE TIME.

NO, THEY'RE BASICALLY WORKING PEOPLE WITH GIG JOBS.

WE DID A REALLY WONDERFUL SURVEY THAT WAS ALSO A LITTLE EYE OPENING AT THE AFTER SPUN LAST MONTH, AND WE FOUND OUT SOME REALLY KIND OF INCREDIBLE INFORMATION, YOU KNOW, THINGS LIKE 62% OF PEOPLE IN SHOW BUSINESS REPORTED LOSING A PART-TIME OR GIG EMPLOYMENT.

NOT SO SURPRISING.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DID.

40% FACED FOOD INSECURITY.

28% FELL BEHIND ON THEIR RENT OR THEIR MORTGAGE.

20% HAD BEEN FORCED TO MOVE.

AND 1 IN 10 SAID THEY LOST THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE, WHICH IS A VERY IMPORTANT THING BECAUSE FOR PEOPLE IN SHOW BUSINESS, ACTORS, MUSICIANS, CREW MEMBERS, OUR HEALTH INSURANCE IS BASED ON WEEKS WORK.

WE DIDN'T WORK FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

THAT MEANS A LOT OF PEOPLE LOST HEALTH INSURANCE.

THAT WAS IMPROVED BY COBRA.

WE HAVE SOMETHING IN THE ACTORS OH FUND, WE HAVE A NUMBER OF PROGRAMS AND I HOPE PEOPLE GO ON TO ACTORSFUND.ORG TO FIND OUT ABOUT IT ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE IN SHOW BUSINESS OR WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUT.

BUT WE HAVE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT PROGRAMS.

THE MOST ACTIVE PROGRAM IN THE LAST YEAR HAS BEEN OUR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE FUND.

THE EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE FUND GOES FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED THE MOST ESSENTIAL THINGS, HELPING TO PAY THE RENT OR HELPING TO BUY PRESCRIPTIONS, HELPING TO BUY FOOD, THE MOST ESSENTIAL THINGS.

NORMALLY IN A YEAR, WE WOULD GIVE OUT ABOUT $2 MILLION TO ABOUT 1,500 PEOPLE.

SINCE LAST MARCH, WE HAVE GIVEN OUT MORE THAN $22 MILLION TO MORE THAN 16,000 PEOPLE.

AND, AGAIN, THAT'S GOING TO CONTINUE FOR QUITE SOME TIME BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE STILL OUT OF WORK, AND IT'S A SLOW RAMP-UP.

WE WERE THE FIRST SECTOR TO BE HIT AND LIKELY ONE OF THE LAST ONES TO COME BACK.

THOSE ARE ASTONISHING NUMBERS AND AS YOU SAID HARD WORK BY SO MANY PEOPLE TO PROVIDE.

ONE LAST QUESTION ABOUT THIS WHOLE IDEA OF REOPENING.

I HAD THIS CONVERSATION A COUPLE MONTHS AGO WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE BROADWAY LEAGUE.

AND I ASKED HER THE QUESTION ABOUT OPENING UP THEATERS, GETTING PEOPLE BACK.

AND SHE HAD AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION.

SHE SAID IT'S NOT ABOUT WHEN THE GOVERNMENT SAYS YOU CAN OPEN UP.

IT IS NOT ABOUT WHEN ALL THE PERFORMERS AND THE CREW PEOPLE ARE READY TO COME BACK INTO THE THEATERS AND WORK.

IT IS ABOUT WHEN US, THE CIVILIANS THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT, THE AUDIENCE, THOSE OF US WHO LOVE GOING TO THEATER, WHEN WE WILL BE READY AND COMFORTABLE TO WALK INTO A FAIRLY CONFINED SPACE OF A THEATER AND SIT NEXT TO A STRANGER.

DO YOU HAVE A SENSE FROM PEOPLE YOU HAVE TALKED TO THAT THOSE OF US, YOU KNOW, THE CIVILIANS, I CAN PROMISE YOU I WILL BE THERE AND MY WIFE WILL BE THERE WITH ME, BUT DO YOU HAVE A SENSE WHERE PEOPLE ARE GETTING TO THAT POINT NOW WHERE THEY'RE READY TO COME BACK AND TO WELCOME THEATER INTO THEIR LIVES?

YEAH, I REALLY DO.

AND I WASN'T SURE AT FIRST.

IT WAS BECAUSE GOING TO THE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN OPENING AND THE OTHER SHOWS I HAVE BEEN TO, THAT'S WHAT MADE ME FEEL LIKE, OH.

I ACTUALLY DID TWO CONCERTS DURING THE PANDEMIC.

ONE WAS AT A 600 SEAT THEATER FOR 45 SOCIALLY DISTANCED PEOPLE.

THE OTHER WAS IN A BACK PARKING LOT.

YOU KNOW, WE DIDN'T DO IT IN THE THEATERS.

WE DID IT OUTSIDE IN THE BACK PARKING LOT FOR 50 PEOPLE.

BUT I ALSO JUST DID RECENTLY ANOTHER CONCERT.

THIS WAS JUST ABOUT FOUR DAYS AGO IN ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA.

IT WAS IN A 700-SEAT THEATER FOR 450 PEOPLE.

AND BY THE WAY, ALL OF THESE AUDIENCES WERE HAPPY TO BE THERE.

AND THE SAME THING WITH THE SPRINGSTEEN AUDIENCE.

EVERYBODY WAS VACCINATED.

WE DIDN'T HAVE TO WEAR MASKS.

AND YOU COULD JUST FEEL THE CELEBRATION, THE EXCITEMENT, THE FACT LIKE, OH, WE'RE HERE.

THIS IS REAL THIS TIME BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW IF EVERYBODY REMEMBERS, BUT LIKE A FEW WEEKS AFTER WE FIRST SHUT DOWN LAST MARCH PEOPLE WERE SAYING, OH, THIS IS A SHORT INTERMISSION.

WE'LL HOPEFULLY SEE YOU NEXT MONTH.

WE DO REMEMBER TALKING WITH PEOPLE SAYING, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

DO YOU THINK IN MAY?

DO YOU THINK IN JUNE?

AND IT KEPT GETTING PUSHED BACK.

BUT THAT'S BECAUSE WE DIDN'T HAVE A VACCINE AT THAT POINT.

AND UNTIL THEN, I KEPT THINKING HOW ARE WE GOING TO OPEN WITHOUT ANY VACCINE OR SOME KIND OF ASSURANCE THAT PEOPLE WON'T GET IT.

NOW WE'RE THERE.

NOW WE HAVE THAT.

FOR THOSE THAT CHOOSE TO DO THAT.

AND EVEN WITH THESE NEW VARIANTS THAT ARE GOING AROUND, EVEN THOUGH SOME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VACCINATED, I UNDERSTAND HAVE BEEN GETTING SICK AROUND, BUT THEY'RE NOT ENDING UP IN THE HOSPITAL.

IT IS USUALLY LIKE TWO OR THREE DAYS FROM THE PEOPLE I HAVE HEARD ABOUT AND KNOW THAT HAVE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH IT.

IT IS LIKE WHAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY GO THROUGH IN A NORMAL FLU YEAR.

THAT I CAN DO.

I'M THERE.

I'M WITH THAT.

IF I GET A VARIANT AND IT, YOU KNOW, MAKES ME SICK FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS, NOT AS BAD, ANYWHERE NEAR AS BAD AS THE REGULAR COVID WAS, THAT'S, I THINK, WORTH IT FOR PEOPLE.

BECAUSE IT WAS A REALLY TOUGH TIME FOR EVERYBODY FINANCIALLY.

I SEE SO MANY STORES CLOSE AROUND MY NEIGHBORHOOD HERE IN THE UPPER WEST SIDE AND JUST SO MANY PEOPLE OUT OF WORK AND HURTING.

WE DO NEED TO GET BACK.

WE HAD TO FIND THAT BALANCE.

YOU'RE RIGHT.

IT IS HEART-BREAKING WHEN YOU SEE SO MANY SMALL SHOPS AND BUSINESSES, WONDERING, ARE THEY GOING TO COME BACK?

WE NEED PEOPLE TO EMBRACE THE THEATERS AND YOU WILL HELP BRING US THERE.

A COUPLE OF OTHER THINGS.

YOU ARE DOING ONE NEW SOLO ALBUM OUT CALLED PLAYS WITH MUSIC, AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

YOU WILL HOST A LIVE STREAM TALK SHOW STARTING PRETTY SOON, AS A MATTER OF FACT.

IT'S CALLED CROSSOVER LIE.

I GOT ABOUT A MINUTE HALF OR SO.

TELL ME ABOUT THE CROSSOVER LIVE IF YOU WILL.

IT'S A SHOW.

IT'S GOING TO BE A LIVE SHOW.

IT WILL BE STREAMING ON THE STELLAR STREAMING NETWORK.

I'M DOING THE INTERVIEWING, BASICALLY PRETTY MUCH EVERYBODY WHO ARE MY FRIENDS.

AND IT IS GOING TO BE LIKE A UNDER THE HOOD LOOK.

IT WILL BE FUN.

IT WILL BE, AGAIN, A CELEBRATION.

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THINGS THAT THEY NORMALLY DON'T TALK ABOUT ON A TALK SHOW, YOU KNOW, THE KIND OF THINGS WE WOULD TALK ABOUT IF WE WERE SITTING AROUND IN OUR LIVING ROOMS AND THE INSIDE INFORMATION ABOUT IT AS WELL.

WE HAVE VANESSA WILLIAMS STARTING ON JULY 26th.

EVERY ONCE A MONTH WE WILL HAVE SOMEBODY AROUND THE SAME TIME.

GREAT COMPOSER.

AND WE'RE DOING SIX -- I THINK SIX SHOWS TO START OFF WITH.

AND IT SEEMS TO BE DOING REALLY, REALLY WELL.

PEOPLE CAN GO ON TO STELLAR AND GET TICKETS THERE.

AND PLAYS WITH MUSIC, WHICH OPENED RIGHT BEFORE, YOU KNOW, IT RELEASED RIGHT BEFORE COVID.

I'M KIND OF DOING A NEW RE-RELEASE OF THAT ALBUM BECAUSE I WILL BE DOING A LOT OF THAT MUSIC WHEN I DO THE CONCERT AT LINCOLN CENTER, WHICH IS FREE, BY THE WAY, FOR PEOPLE.

THEY JUST HAVE TO GO AND SIGN UP.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT CROSSOVER LIVE, THAT'S SUCH A LIST OF LUMINARIES AND FOR US TO BE ABLE TO ESSENTIALLY LISTEN IN TO YOU ALL HAVING YOUR CONVERSATIONS WILL BE MARVELOUS.

DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH YOU.

BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS ORGANIZATION BLACK THEATER UNITED THAT YOU AND SOME OTHERS HAVE GATHERED TOGETHER.

VERY IMPORTANT IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

BUT I PROMISE YOU WE'LL GET YOU BACK HERE AND WE'LL BE ABLE TO SPEND SOME TIME TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

AUGUST 12th AND 14th, LINCOLN CENTER.

PART OF THE RE-START STAGES.

BRIAN STOKES-MITCHELL, IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK WITH YOU.

I'M GLAD YOU ARE FEELING WELL AND YOU ARE BACK OUT ON STAGE.

WE WILL BE THERE TO WATCH AND LISTEN TO YOU.

YOU STAY WELL.

THANKS, JACK.

YOU TOO.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I AM JACK FORD.

FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS, MARIA MADE IT HER LIFE'S WORK IN THE LIVES AND STRUGGLES OF SOME OF AMERICA'S MOST MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES.

ALONG WITH HER GIFT OF ILLUMINATING THE HUMANITY OF HER SUBJECTS EARNED HER A PEA BODY AND MULTIPLE EMMYS.

NOW, HOWEVER, SHE'S TURNING THAT JOURNALISTIC EYE ON HERSELF.

HER NEW BOOK IS TITLED, ONCE I WAS YOU.

A MEMOIRE OF LOVE AND HATE IN A TORN AMERICA.

IT TELLS A STORY OF HER OWN EXPERIENCES AS A MEXICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN AND OFFERS AN EYE OPENING ACCOUNT OF HOW THE RHETORIC AND POLICY OVER IMMIGRATION HAS SHAPED MODERN DAY AMERICA.

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HER JOINING US NOW.

MARIA, IT'S SO NICE TO SEE YOU.

HEY, JACK.

IT'S GREAT TO BE WITH YOU.

THIS IS A MARVELOUS BOOK.

THANK YOU.

IT IS JUST SUCH A WONDERFUL INTERWEAVING OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND OBSTACLES AND STRUGGLES AND SUCCESSES AND THE BIGGER PICTURE OF HISTORY AND IMMIGRATION.

BUT LET ME START WITH, IF I CAN, I'M ALWAYS FASCINATED BY THE TITLES OF BOOKS.

AND I LOOKED AT YOURS AND I SAID, OKAY, IF I WAS YOU, I'M GOING TO ASK ABOUT WHERE THAT CAME FROM AND THEN I READ THE ANECDOTE OF HOW YOU STARTED THE BOOK.

YEAH.

SO, YOU KNOW, JACK, I LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE FASCINATED WITH TITLES SO I WILL KNOW TO CALL YOU NEXT TIME.

IT'S THE HARDEST THING TO DO, ISN'T IT?

WE DID NOT HAVE A TITLE.

WE WERE STRUGGLING, AND THEN WE HAD A FRESH TAKE AND SOMEBODY WROTE THE INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK WHICH I WROTE ONCE I FINISHED THE BOOK.

IT WAS A MOMENT, THE GREAT AMERICAN WRITER WHO WROTE 'THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET' IS A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE.

SHE TOLD ME DON'T ALWAYS WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU REMEMBER.

WRITE ABOUT THE THINGS YOU WISH YOU COULD FORGET.

I THOUGHT THAT WAS A FABULOUS LINE.

I SAID WHAT GREAT ADVICE TO A JOURNALIST AND A WRITER.

RIGHT?

AND, SO THEN I THOUGHT WHAT DO I WISH I COULD FORGET?

WHAT IS THAT THING?

I REMEMBER THIS SCENE IN THE AIRPORT RIGHT AROUND THE TIME EVERYBODY WAS AWARE CHILDREN WERE BEING RIPPED OUT OF THE ARMS OF THEIR PARENTS FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE BASICALLY REFUGEES.

AND, SO, I SEE THIS LITTLE GIRL IN THE AIRPORT.

AND, YOU KNOW, JACK, BACK WHEN WE WERE FLYING AROUND, YOU KNOW, ALL THE TIME, I HAVE A LOT OF GOOD AIRPORT -- I KNOW HOW TO JUDGE AIRPORT VIBE.

LITTLE KIDS IN AIRPORTS ARE ALWAYS HAPPY, PERIOD.

THIS LITTLE GIRL WAS NOT.

SHE WAS SITTING THERE ALMOST CATATONIC, BUT GORGEOUS.

AND THEN I REALIZED THAT THERE WAS A GROUP OF KIDS THE SAME, ALL JUST LIKE BLANK FACED.

AND THEN I REALIZED WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

I WAS WITNESSING A GROUP OF THESE CHILDREN WHO HAD BEEN TAKEN FROM THEIR PARENTS AND WAS NOW BEING TAKEN SOMEPLACE ELSE ON A FLIGHT.

AND, SO, AS A JOURNALIST, YOU KNOW, I WAS JUST LIKE, OH, MY GOD, THIS IS MY MOMENT.

SO I WENT AND I SAT NEXT TO HER AND I STARTED SPEAKING WITH HER.

AND THEN OF COURSE SOON AFTER THERE, THE PEOPLE WHO WERE TRANSPORTING THESE CHILDREN, YOU KNOW, PULLED THEM ALL UP, GOT THEM INTO LINE.

I COULDN'T SPEAK TO THEM.

I WAS TOLD I COULD NOT SPEAK TO THEM.

I WAS SPEAKING IN SPANISH.

I STARTED SPEAKING OUTLOUD IN SPANISH TO THESE PEOPLE WHO WERE TRANSPORTING THE CHILDREN.

AND I SAID IN SPANISH, I WANT THESE CHILDREN TO HEAR ME.

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO SPEAK TO JOURNALISTS.

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO CARE ABOUT THEM AND CARE ABOUT THEIR WHEREABOUTS WHO DON'T SEE THEM AS A THREAT OR THE ENEMY.

AND THEN AS I WAS WRITING, I SAID I WANTED THIS LITTLE GIRL TO HEAR ME BECAUSE I WANTED HER TO KNOW THAT I SEE YOU BECAUSE UNDERSTAND I WAS YOU.

AND THEN THE THING THAT HAPPENED, JACK, IN THE WRITING OF THIS BOOK AND FRANKLY IN THE POLICIES UNDER THIS ADMINISTRATION, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, IS THAT I REALIZED SOMETHING THAT I -- I JUST DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF IT.

BUT WHEN I ARRIVED IN THIS COUNTRY WITH PRIVILEGE, WITH A GREEN CARD, WITH MY MOTHER BY PLANE TO MEET MY FATHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, SO WE'RE TALKING PRIVILEGE.

NOT WEALTH, BUT PRIVILEGE.

IMMIGRATION AGENTS IN TEXAS AT THE DALLAS AIRPORT TRIED TO TAKE ME.

AND THAT IS PART OF THE STORY, AND I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE IT.

AND, AGAIN, I DON'T KNOW HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THIS PARTICULAR ADMINISTRATION IF I WOULD HAVE BEEN PUSHED TO KIND OF SEE THAT TRAUMA.

IS THAT THE WHY?

BECAUSE THE NEXT QUESTION I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU WAS THIS.

BY THE WAY, THAT FIRST, THAT ANECDOTE, I READ IT AND I SAT BACK AND I SAID, AH, OKAY, NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY FOR HER, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE.

WHY NOW?

WHY THIS BOOK NOW?

BECAUSE THIS IS -- YOU COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS TEN YEARS AGO.

YOU COULD WRITE IT TEN YEARS FROM NOW.

WHY NOW?

SO, JACK, YOU AND I ARE JOURNALISTS.

WE ARE VERY USED TO DAILY DEADLINES, A WEEKLY DEADLINE.

YOU KNOW, WE WRITE LIKE THIS.

WELL, BUT YOU'RE A BOOK WRITER, SO YOU KNOW.

TO ME BOOK WRITING IS LIKE, OH, MY GOD, NO.

LIKE THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS WRITE A BOOK BECAUSE IT TAKES SO MUCH OUT OF YOU AND SUCH A COMMITMENT.

I DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE A BOOK, ACTUALLY.

I WAS AFRAID.

AS YOU KNOW, I'M VERY HONEST ABOUT THESE THINGS, SO I ADMIT THAT I WAS REALLY SCARED OF WRITING ANOTHER BOOK, BUT IT WAS 2016 AND I HAD THIS VIRAL MOMENT ON MSNBC WHERE I SAID TO STEVE CORTEZ, A TRUMP SURROGATE, I SAID ILLEGAL IS NOT A NOUN.

I SAID ILLEGAL IS NOT A NOUN.

THE FIRST THING THE NAZIS DID WAS TO DECLARE THE JEWS TO BE AN ILLEGAL PEOPLE.

PLEASE DON'T USE THAT TERM.

A COLLEAGUE SAID, THAT'S THE BOOK.

YOU KNOW WHAT I SAID, JACK?

I SAID, OH, I CAN WRITE A LITTLE POCKETBOOK.

YOU KNOW, LIKE THE KIND WE USED TO PICK UP WHEN YOU WERE AT THE AIRPORT AND YOU WOULD PICK IT UP AND READ IT IN ONE SITTING.

I WAS GOING TO WRITE THAT BECAUSE I WAS LIKE, I CAN WRITE THAT BOOK.

THAT'S A SMALL BOOK.

MY PUBLISHER WHEN I ENDED UP KIND OF GETTING AN AGENT, ET CETERA, THEY WERE LIKE, WE ACTUALLY DON'T WANT A SMALL BOOK.

WE WANT A BIG BOOK FROM YOU.

AND THAT'S WHEN I WAS LIKE, OH, MY GOD.

SO WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

AND ALSO I HAD JUST FINISHED IT AT THE END OF 2019, AND I WAS LIKE NOBODY IS GOING TO CARE ABOUT THIS BOOK.

THIS BOOK IS ALREADY -- THERE IS NOTHING NEW TODAY.

I LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE SAY THERE IS SOMETHING PERFECT FOR THIS MOMENT BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IT WAS JUST LIFE THAT LED ITSELF TO BE THIS WAY.

AND, AGAIN, I DON'T KNOW.

IT'S WEIRD.

I HAVE ACTUALLY NEVER SAID THIS BEFORE, BUT HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THIS PARTICULAR ADMINISTRATION, MAYBE I MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN FORCED IN A WAY TO WRITE THIS BOOK.

WELL, IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME FOR IT.

LET ME ASK YOU.

AS I MENTIONED, IT IS THIS INTERESTING WORK AND YOU HAVE DESCRIBED IT AS A HISTORICAL MEMOIR.

SO THE MEMOIR PART IS FASCINATING AND IT IS AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF THE HISTORY, YOUR HISTORY, OUR HISTORY.

I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT WITH THE GREAT SUCCESSES YOU HAD AS A JOURNALIST THAT YOU TALK ABOUT THE FIRST DAY YOU WALKED INTO THE NPR NEWS ROOM AND YOU DESCRIBED YOURSELF AS BEING TERRIFIED.

WHY TERRIFIED?

LOOK, JACK, THERE WAS JUST NO WAY TO GET AROUND IT.

I WAS THE FIRST LATINA HIRED TO WORK IN THE NEWS ROOM AT NPR.

THE FIRST.

IT WAS 1985.

SO OF COURSE, YES, I HAD GRADUATED FROM BARNHART, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I WRITE ABOUT IN THE BOOK A LOT IS THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME.

OH, MY GOD.

THEY'RE GOING TO FIND OUT THAT I'M JUST THIS MEXICAN IMMIGRANT KID AND I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE.

I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

THAT'S ONE OF THE THEMES THROUGHOUT THE BOOK THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE ACTUALLY CONNECTED TO.

SO I WAS TERRIFIED.

I MEAN, I HAD A TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY.

TO ME, IT WASN'T JUST LIKE, OH, YOU GOT A JOB AS A JOURNALIST.

IT WAS, TO ME, YOU GOT A JOB AS A JOURNALIST AT NPR BECAUSE OF THE KIND OF -- OF JOURNALIST ALREADY, BECAUSE I WAS A BUDDING JOURNALIST AT BARNHART THAT YOU HAVE BECOME.

THAT'S A TESTAMENT TO JAY CURTIS WHO HIRED ME AND WAS THE CREATOR OF 'MORNING EDITION,' FORMER PRODUCER OF 60 MINUTES.

JAY CURTIS HIRED ME BECAUSE OF THE PERSON I WAS TO BRING THAT INTO HIS NEWS ROOM, BECAUSE HE SAW THAT.

SO IT WASN'T ADDED WEIGHT.

IT WASN'T JUST LIKE IT'S MY FIRST DAY ON MY JOB.

BUT IT'S LIKE, IT IS THE FIRST DAY ON YOUR JOB AND YOU ARE THE FIRST.

AND THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO ABSOLUTELY SAW ME AS AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION HIRE.

BUT THE WAY I DEALT WITH IT BECAUSE I'M IN THIS ROOM.

I'M IN THIS PLACE.

I HAVE PRIVILEGE.

I'VE GOT RESPONSIBILITY.

I'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING NOT JUST FOR ME BUT FOR ALL OF THESE STORIES THAT NEED TO BE TOLD.

YOU THINK THAT -- YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT 1985.

I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED BY HEARING THAT YOU WERE THE FIRST PERSON AND IT WAS 1985.

DO YOU THINK THAT OUR NEWS ROOMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND I AM TALKING ABOUT BROADCAST, CABLE, DIGITAL, ONLINE, DO YOU THINK WE ARE WHERE WE SHOULD BE IN TERMS OF RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T LOOK LIKE US OR SOUND LIKE US, OR ARE WE STILL WAY BEHIND ON THAT?

WE'RE STILL WAY BEHIND.

AND THE REASON WHY I SAY THAT, JACK, IS BECAUSE THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING JOURNALISTS OF COLOR AND GOOD CONSCIOUS.

BY THE WAY, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A JOURNALIST OF COLOR TO BE A JOURNALIST OF CONSCIOUS.

BUT THE TRAJECTORY THAT WE HAVE IN THIS COUNTRY IS SO ESSENTIAL.

I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HAVE READ THIS BOOK, BUT YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT.

IT IS CALLED 'NEWS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE.'

WHAT IT DOES IS IT TALKS ABOUT THE ROLE PARTICULARLY OF JOURNALISTS OF COLOR.

AND WHEN I UNDERSTOOD THAT, I WAS LIKE, NOW I UNDERSTAND MY ROLE.

I'M TRIED TO FREDERICK DOUGLAS WHO WAS BORN INTO SLAVERY AND THEN LAUNCHES THE FIRST BLACK-OWNED, BLACK EDITED NEWSPAPER IN OUR COUNTRY.

SO WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IS ACTUALLY DOING THE BEST JOURNALISM THAT WE CAN DO.

IMAGINE IF FREDERICK DOUGLAS HAD BEEN EDITOR IN CHIEF OF THE WASHINGTON POST, FOR EXAMPLE.

IMAGINE HOW WE WOULD HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT OR COVERING THE ISSUE OF SLAVERY IF HE HAD BEEN THE EDITOR IN CHIEF.

NOW, IT IS NOT TO SAY THAT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN EDITORS IN CHIEF HAVE BEEN TERRIBLE PEOPLE.

THEY'RE GREAT JOURNALISTS.

BUT YOU ONLY SEE -- THAT'S WHY I LOVE WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT BEING RAISED BY A SINGLE MOTHER, BY THE FACT THAT YOU WERE NOT A CHILD OF PRIVILEGE.

YOU HAD TO FIGHT TO GET INTO THIS BUSINESS, BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU BRING TO THE NEWS ROOM THAT AFFECT HOW YOU SEE THESE STORIES.

THE TRUTH IS THAT THE UNITED STATES IS INCREDIBLY DIVERSE.

WE ALL KNOW IT.

IT HAS BEEN SINCE FOREVER.

ARE, THE BETTER JOURNALISM WE DO, PERIOD.

IT'S NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE.

AND IT'S ACTUALLY BETTER BECAUSE THEN WE'RE GOING TO HAVE MARKETS TO SELL TO OR IN THE CASE OF PUBLIC MEDIA MARKETS THAT WILL WANT TO DONATE TO PUBLIC MEDIA.

IT'S A QUESTION OF THE QUALITY OF THE WORK THAT IS BEING DONE.

I COULD TALK FOREVER WITH YOU ABOUT THIS.

AS I SAID, IT IS JUST SUCH A MARVELOUS BOOK.

SO MANY MESSAGES, AS YOU SAID, HISTORICAL MEMOIRE.

I WISH I COULD TALK WITH YOU MORE ABOUT.

AS YOU SAY, MESSAGES, DON'T GIVE UP.

THE BOOK IS TITLED 'ONCE I WAS YOU.'

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT IS A PLEASURE.

I LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU AGAIN REAL SOON HOPEFULLY.

THANK YOU, JACK.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

YOU BE WELL.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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