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THE VAN JONES SHOW
Interview with the Waffle House Shooting Hero; Kanye West Sparkles a Ton of Debate about Free Speech; One-On-One With Tracee Ellis Ross; 2018 National Teacher of the Year. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired May 4, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening and welcome. I'm Van Jones. It's THE VAN JONES SHOW. We have another amazing show for you tonight. A couple of highlights. We are with the star of a hit TV show "Black- ish" and she is a fierce advocate for women. She is a daughter of the iconic Diana Ross. Tracee Ellis Ross is with us tonight. That is going to be amazing to hear from her.
Plus we have two real life heroes. A hero of that tragic Waffle House shooting in Tennessee, James Shaw Jr., he is going to be here tonight.
And I don't want to play favorites, because, you know all schoolteachers are amazing including my mother. Hi, mama, you're amazing. All teachers are amazing, but tonight we have America's teacher of the year. She got invited to the White House, but I don't think President Trump expected what he got from her.
She slipped him a powerful message from her students who are immigrant and refugee children. So, I think, I now know why the press was not allowed to cover her speech. But the amazing Mandy Manning is here tonight, she is going to talk to us, anyway. She is going to be here with us. It's going to be a great show, great show. That is a fact indisputable.
And speaking of facts let's talk, because powerful people have been spewing lies at a record rate this week. We are seeing an epidemic of self-serving dishonesty in the highest places and none more egregious than from the White House.
Now, remember that pre-election doctor's note that proclaimed that Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected President. Well, this week we learned it was a fake note that Trump himself just made up. And, you know, now we're just seeing this -- all the zigzag crazy contradictions over the hush money that the Trump team gave to a porn star. I can't even keep up with the story anymore and I don't know what Rudy Giuliani is doing. So we've got day after day, lie after lie from this administration on
big topics, on little topics and it's wrong. You know, "The Washington Post" wrote this week that Donald Trump has told more than 3,000 lies, since he took office. You know, now, we should all care about this not adjust because it's a crisis of credibility at the top of our government, but because you've got so much stuff on the line.
You know, policies, and how we're going to vote and we've got to have honesty. When regular people lie they face real consequences. What will happen if your child made up a doctor's note to get out of class? He probably get suspended and then get grounded when he got home. And what if your husband or wife sent thousands of dollars to somebody and then kept changing their explanations?
Yes, that wouldn't work out too well. So, listen, you know, Americans we know what's right and what is wrong in the real world. And we deserve better than this, our leadership should know right from wrong as well. But here is the good news. While the folks at the top keep throwing their integrity in the garbage can, everyday people keep doing the right thing anyway.
You want some proof, two men were wrongfully arrested at Starbucks. This week they chose to settle the case with the City of Philadelphia. But for themselves they only took $1 each. They insisted though, that hundreds of thousands of dollars go to setup a training program for young entrepreneurs. They put others first and turned a bad things for themselves into a good thing for other people. I love stuff like that. That is what it's all about.
And my next guest also knows something about putting other people first. He put his life on the line to grab an AR-15 out of the hands of a crazy gunman who had opened fire at a Waffle House in Tennessee, killed four people. But that carnage would have been much worse without my next guest. Please welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW, a man of integrity, James Shaw, Jr.
JAMES SHAW JR., TACKLED WAFFLE HOUSE GUNMAN: My brother. Thank you.
JONES: Good to see you, man. I tell you what, first of all you're making us Tennessee boys look good. I appreciate that. I appreciate that. The question that I think most people have when they think about you, the gunman was killing people. He stopped firing and he is trying to reload, trying to do something else. You were hidden. He didn't know you were there. Why didn't you run? Why didn't you hide? Why would you confront somebody with a weapon like that?
SHAW JR.: So at the time I was behind a door in the bathroom.
[23:05:00] The door actually didn't lock or anything like that. Behind me there was nothing but a brick wall. So I felt like he might find me. And -- so I was just looking for my opportunity and I took it and I'm glad it worked out for me.
JONES: I'm glad it worked out for you, too. It's beautiful to see you here. You know, but your heroism, and we will talk about that word and I know you don't like that word.
SHAW JR.: Right.
JONES: But your heroism helped didn't stop that night. You setup a GoFundMe, not for yourself, not for your family, not for your fame, not for your fortune, but to help all the other people who were there. Why -- how was your raised? How did you come out of a tracking like that, thinking about everybody but yourself?
SHAW JR.: Well, I was raised and I pledge a fraternity outside for we are servants of all. So, I wanted to help out and I know that the money is not going to do anything for the actual loss of life, the actual loss of life, but it can be something like a gesture just to help that family to try to get through this tough time.
JONES: You know, you touched the whole world. I mean all you have to say it Waffle House hero. Everybody knows who you are. Have you heard yet from President Trump?
SHAW JR.: At this time I haven't heard anything, but that is not to say he didn't try to contact me or not.
JONES: So he hasn't successfully contacted you, you know, but he gave a shout out to, you know, gave a shout out to Kanye today. No shout out to you. How do feel when the President of the United States misses an opportunity, to hold up, you know, somebody who is trying to do good stuff like you?
SHAW JR.: I know he is a busy agenda, busy schedule. Maybe he just hasn't gotten around to me and maybe my time is coming. It's not for me to judge whether what he does is just, you know, I did what I did. I didn't really do for working this, I did it just to save my life, honestly.
JONES: Wow. That is amazing. You know, a lot of people who are survivors of these attacks like the Parkland kids, they're very, very strong on gun control. What's your view about gun control?
SHAW JR.: The underlying problem of it before you even get to the gun problem is the mental illness or it's some kind of public health problem. And if you can try to focus on that person and you can try to make that person mentally better then you won't get to that. It won't be that kind of violence.
JONES: Yes. Now, we had a conversation of intimacy and you were talking about cars, how different cars are appropriate in different circumstances and maybe race cars are appropriate on a racetrack, but not in a neighborhood. Would you apply that to some different types of weapons?
SHAW JR.: I don't have any type of problem with any kind of handgun or anything like that. Shotgun or, you know, your hunting rifle, but a formula one race car is for a racer. An AR-15, M-16's, .223s, are those special specific guns are meant for people that have some kind of training. If you do want to shoot that gun, I understand, you know, that is your, god given right if you want to shoot that gun. Let them go to a target range and let the target range handle it and you can shoot there. But for you to just simply want to own that and you don't have any kind of training and you're reliable for that, that is just a lot to be reliable for and it's possible that, you know, deaths could happen.
JONES: You know, in that moment, I just think about that. Do you wish that you had a gun? I mean you're in a situation that somebody has a gun and you are unarmed. I'm just always curious, in that moment don't you wish you had like a bazooka or flamethrower or something.
SHAW JR.: You know, it's going to sound weird. No, because when people see me even though they call me a hero, I want you to emulate that fire that I have inside of myself, and if I had a gun it would be just good guy took bad guy down with a gun. But since I didn't have a gun it seems like it's more touching the people. So I'm really happy how I can touch people throughout the world.
JONES: And you are touching people throughout the world. We were together and people were coming up to us and they wanted me to take your picture with them.
How are you dealing with that? That is a big change. I mean, you're on these big TV shows, you got stars trying to give you money. I mean that is -- could start getting your head big.
SHAW JR.: It's definitely a whirl wind. It is definitely not something I'm used to. So I am just an engineer and I am an electrician right before this, and then now I can't really walk to far down the street or especially in the airport, but -- you know, it does not really bother me, I will take pictures with you, and the that doesn't bother me. The problem -- the only thing that bothers me is when people know who I am and then look at me and they all say I am just like come on over and just talk to me -- let us break the ice, you know that is fine, but -- yes I am getting used to it. Accustomed to it.
[23:10:03] JONES: How is your daughter? You have a 4 year-old daughter?
SHAW JR.: So, my 4-year-old daughter, she is good. She is with the school. Her classmates and her, they all made me cards, they all call me hero. Now, for little kids, I don't care if they call me hero. Because that is a really big thing for them, heroes. But for adults, I just want you to see if you're ever in that situation that a regular guy did it, that you can do it too. JONES: Wow. That is beautiful. So I'm glad you didn't run away from
the gunman. But I would be even more glad if you were to run for higher office.
You know, Nashville could use a good mayor, Tennessee could use a good governor. We could use some good Senators. You got any interest in that, Mr.? People's hero?
SHAW JR.: President.
JONES: Mayor. What about mayor?
SHAW JR.: Honestly, I haven't really thought about it. It's just been joked about with some of me and my colleagues and close friends, but maybe, we will see what the future had.
JONES: Hey, listen. It makes me happy to hear that even an opportunity, because we need people with integrity in high office. And you're right. They always say it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. But sometimes it takes a good man with a good heart to stop a bad guy with a gun. And that is who you are. So, thank you so much. Really, really good heart.
SHAW JR.: Thank you.
JONES: Thank you. This child is unbelievable. Now, coming up, everybody's been talking about Kanye West all week. Whether you love him or hate him, he is just sparking a ton of debate about free speech. And whether black voters should give Trump a chance, we're going to talk about all of that coming up with two young black activist, one is a liberal, and one is a conservative. Now before we hear from them, I want to hear from you and your opinions about the Kanye controversy. Here is what you have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For him to say that slavery was a choice, I don't think that was right. Because if slavery was a choice Martin Luther King, Jr. would simply like, it will not have happened at all because they would not have to go through all these discrimination and all the hurt that they have long for many years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Democratic Party knows that they could have our vote easily they could just easily talk around this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this current state, however, the Republican
Party is not a viable choice for the black community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: OK, so like it or not, everybody is still talking about Kanye West this week. President Trump even gave Kanye a shout out and claimed he'd doubled his African-American poll numbers, because of Kanye West. Now, look, this whole thing could be just a big publicity stuff by Kanye, because he got a record coming out, but he did tap into something here.
Now, what he said about the slavery stuff is like, just flat out wrong and crazy, period. But problems do persist within many black communities after decades of voting for Democrats. There is some frustrations, some desperation, and even some resignation that too little has change. Now, some people are wondering if it's time to give the other party a chance.
So let us just talk about it, have a real conversation. So we've got Lawrence Jones, beautiful last name, who's a conservative activist and a political commentator. And we've got Brittany Packnett, she is an educator and activist for Police Reform. Brittany is actually a part of President Obama task force on policing. So, now listen, first, I would say just some common ground. Was slavery a choice?
LAWRENCE JONES, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No.
BRITTANY PACKNETT, VICE PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL COMMUNITY ALLIANCES, TEACH FOR AMERICA: Absolutely not.
JONES: All right. So round of applause. We agree.
PACKNETT: Sister Harriet said no.
JONES: OK, so, you know, people are mad at Kanye about his comment on slavery and they were mad at him the day before too, when he was expressing love for President Trump. Is it now compulsory to be a black person, to hate President Trump? Is that where we are now?
PACKNETT: You know, I think there is a conversation about the Republican Party and then there is a conversation about Donald Trump. There is facts and fiction. Fiction is certainly that slavery was a choice, but there are facts here about how he won this office that have been detrimental not just to black people, but to marginalized people all over this country and all over this world calling to the African countries and Haiti assholes, right? Hiring someone like Jeff Sessions, who, right in fact came warn us about, who has continued to up hold this idea of police violence and allow it to be pervasive across the country. So those are real issues that people have problems.
JONES: You know, he has done, -- so Trump has done a lot of that stuff. The Republican Party has had a negative history in some ways, but do you think that Kanye has a point when he says that maybe we should be spreading our best. Spreading a hustle. A lot of people are saying, if we only are voting for one party, that party can take us for granted, the other party can write us off.
L. JONES: You know, Malcolm said it.
JONES: And you think Malcolm is right?
L. JONES: Of course, I think Malcolm was right.
L. JONES: I think there is -- look, let me first -- because I am on the right. The Republican Party has failed black families by not going to the community and focusing on issues that matter to them. Black Republicans have failed the black community, because there are some of them that have the genuine interest to help the community and then there are some that don't. They see it as a benefit. I think that --
JONES: Like a personal benefit.
L. JONES: A personal benefit. But there are some of us that are fighting for our community, and we have done a poor job in letting our community know that we are fighting for them.
JONES: Can I -- maybe ask you a question. That is very well said, except you've got people in your party. That is no longer is it a party of Lincoln. It's a party of Steve Bannon. Why are you not doing more to clean out the people in the party who should not be in anybody's political party?
L. JONES: I'm not a part of the party. I believe in my principles. I'm not a Republican member. I'm a conservative. I'm a libertarian. I can disagree with my party, and I let grown men defend themselves. But what I am about is the issues that impact my community and so whatever I can do to speak up on this and have a seat at the table to talk about the issues that matter to them.
Because let us be honest, although we criticize the Republican Party the Democrats ain't done that well for black folks either.
JONES: Did you think that?
L. JONES: But they continue to get our vote but they don't deliver. And I think we have to have an honest conversation --
JONES: I hear there is a lot of --
L. JONES: Van, when I was a young Democrat, I remember you showing up to the conferences before I switched over to the right. And we have the same complaints about the Democratic Party. PACKNETT: No, here's where we can agree, there are a whole lot of
people that are (inaudible) by black folks. Point black period. Right? What we are talking about though is freedom being bigger than a party. What we have seen is that the Democratic Party has been far more willing to move forward on the issues that we bring to bear than the Republican Party has.
[23:20:06] But at the end of the day I actually think we need to be talking about how we are doing this work from the ground up, how we are making sure that it's not just who we're voting for, but who are actually running in those seats. We know that there are a lots of folks who come and knock on our doors every four years. And like Janet said, what have you done for me lately? That is what black communities are asking every single day. And it is bigger than a party for them. It's about their future, it is about their children. It's about their livelihood.
JONES: Let me ask you a political question.
JONES: There is a gap now between African-American men and African- American women on this question. 96 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. 88 percent of black men voted for Hillary Clinton. That is almost a 10-point split. Why are black men more open to this message than black women?
PACKNETT: Well, I think we have to recognize the intersection in which black women exist. We deal not only with racism, but we deal with sexism every single day and we deal with the unique struggles that comes with being a black woman. The accusations of being the angry black woman, the idea that we are always strong, and we never hurt and that we never cry. So there are unique issues to being a black woman that make us see things a little bit differently. But I think if we think about the fact that black women are often right -- I would like to (inaudible).
JONES: I would not disagree with that.
PACKNETT: We can look at the victory of Doug Jones, in Alabama, it was owed in a great deal to black women, so, I believe it actually following the leader black woman is always a white problem.
L. JONES: But to me let's be clear, black men are choosing their families. I would choose wealth over poverty any day. And I think that is the opening from other conservatives from all over, before Kanye even arrive. That hip hop is the way. The Republican Party told me that hip hop was the destruction of the black family. But I saw a catalytic message with any hip hop that they had been raping about this for a long time.
PACKNETT: I am going to push you a little bit though. L. JONES: And now, that is what the black men are saying, that we are
going to choose wealth over poverty.
PACKNETT: I am going to push you a little bit though. Because I don't think, any black mom is out here saying that they want their family to be experiencing the balance of poverty. What I will say though, is we have to recognize that all of the answers we've been talking about economic, like education actually don't move racism out of the way. So what we know to be true is that a white high school dropout still has more wealth than a black college graduate. We can't erase the things or ignore the thing that often conservative and the Republican Party wants to erase, like racism when we are dealing with this problem.
L. JONES: Look, I am not trying remove racism, unlike some people. I believe that it exist, I can -- I contend that I allow -- I do not allow racism to control me or there's always be racist, we can only control our own destiny and I think that is what some of us are saying.
JONES: Look, and I think that is a hard thing to argue with. But then in controlling your own destiny, how do you defend being a Trump supporter now?
L. JONES: I don't defend grown men. I told you from the very beginning. I didn't vote for the President. I support the President, because we need black folks at the table to talk about issues that are going to impact us. And so the President and his administration has been willing to talk now. People who even disagree with the President have a seat at the table to talk about those issues.
JONES: But you know and I know that a lot of things that President Trump said and a lot of things that Republican Party allowed to go are very hurtful and very offensive to people not -- and not weak people, not people who are crybabies, people who are tough and strong, but who feel hurt by this. How can you align yourself as -- not as a voter, not as a defender, but even as a supporter of a president who speaks this way about people of color?
L. JONES: Look, I'll tell you this. I support my values. That is it. I can't control were there are people that have these negative comments. These are grown men. And I'm not going to go on national TV and ask some black conservative and defend every single thing that the President new. I was hurt about Charlottesville as well, but I still -- I still will choose wealth any day over poverty. And I think that the Democratic Party has to answer for this.
JONES: Two questions. Can we at least, I am trying to find some more common grounds. (Inaudible) is that a common ground? You -- what's Republican's solution on this policing issues?
L. JONES: I hate when you say the Republicans.
JONES: Well, the libertarians. You.
(LAUGHTER) L. JONES: Look, as a libertarian, I don't believe we should be giving
the government that much power. I have been voting -- my first job was working in juvenile court and so there is no issue that I have more of a past support than a criminal justice before.
JONES: I'll give you the last word. What do Democrats need to do to keep black support? Because he is coming? And you got a message and I think you might have some challenges from people like him. What do Democrats need to do differently to keep black support?
PACKNETT: Invest in the grass roots. You just talked about the fact that black Republicans and Republicans in general haven't done all that well --
L. JONES: What do you mean about grass roots, because they show up, they just don't deliver.
[23:25:00] PACKNETT: I am going to answer. The grass roots deliver for Doug Jones. The grass roots have been delivering in Ferguson, and Baltimore, and Sacramento, and Cleveland.
L. JONES: No, no, no.
PACKNETT: They've been delivering every single day not just at the high federal levels of policy, were the people every day needs. We know how that people know how to get out the votes. If you actually invest in the black leadership on the ground. So that is what the Democrats need to do. They need to invest those dollars in the black communities, because we know how to have conversations with each other. But after they invest their money in us, they need to listen to us as they crack their policies.
L. JONES: I need them to invest in their money into the community, not into campaign. I will block business, I will when you walk down the streets in the community, you see charter schools were it is competitive and it is not just the Teacher's Union, but to those kids. People should not be going to filling in a zip code.
PACKNETT: We could start in agreeing on a bill, instead of business --
JONES: We got a veto for giving them a round of applause.
Now when we come back, (inaudible) blackish star Tracee Ellis Ross. How she is standing up for women and what it is really like to grow up as a daughter of the iconic Diana Ross. When we get back.
JONES: As I have said many times before it feels like there's just a black renaissance happening right now on television and film. And I'm not just talking about the "Black Panther" crushing the box office records as much as I love that. But also on television. We got this amazing shows of all black cast, Atlanta, Empire, Blackish, which leads me to my next guest. Tracee Ellis Ross, is not just the daughter of an American icon, Diana Ross, she is a Golden Globe winning actress. She is a star in her own write and on her hit show Blackish. Tracee and her co-star somehow makes us laugh while talking about really tough stuff like policing, the history of slavery, even marital problems. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let me be clear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your mother and I are not getting a divorce. We're just taking some space.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just taking some space. Totally temporary, totally cool and just nothing to worry about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing to worry about. There's no need to tell your friends or your teachers, because they don't need to know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's totally temporary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally temporary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and it's nothing to worry about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing to worry about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Tracee Ellis Ross, it is such an honor to have you on this show.
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I am happy to be here, big fan of yours.
JONES: Well, I'm a big fan of yours now, too. We are supposed to accept that the one beautiful functioning thriving black family is going to get busted up, before it our pockets, why, you've got to unpack hard things. This is supposed to be a sitcom.
ELLIS ROSS: And talks about rights, it's hard enough right now.
ELLIS ROSS: Stuff is hard right now.
JONES: Yes, but tell us why, because, you know, this --
[23:30:00] ELLIS ROSS: It feels volatile right now. Why are you making volatility when there's supposed to be humor?
JONES: That is all because the family that you guys represent is now kind of the iconic African-American family.
ROSS: And also the iconic American family.
JONES: Ant iconic American family at the same time. That used to be the Cosby, that used to be (INAUDIBLE).
JONES: And now that is no longer a viable project. So you got --
ROSS: I mean, this is one of the interesting things. There was a wonderful article written in The New York Times about Cosby, and there's this sense of cleaving, like this separation that has to occur. Do the Cosbys still exist without that? As The Cosby Show is --
JONES: Listen, you are in that role now, for a whole generation of people, your family is the iconic black family.
JONES: When the Cosby thing came down, how did it hit you? You're also a leader in "Mee Too." That's something I've been curious about. How do you process this thing?
ROSS: I don't know that I -- in all honestly, I am still processing it, and I don't know that I have a desire to process it publicly.
ROSS: I'll leave it at that.
JONES: Leave it at that. Look, some other issues you've taken on with humor and grace are important issues. You've taken on policing. You've taken on --
ROSS: On the show and not me. So not me. We have taken on a lot of heavy issues. Important, very important topics along with separation and divorce. But postpartum, police brutality, the election, even our parent's generation going to the doctor. So many different -- the sex talk. Like all these different things that if you were to line them up, you would not think our show is a comedy.
JONES: But it works.
ROSS: It does work. But I think it's also -- I think it's incredible writing. I think we have incredible writing and there's daringness and courageousness in which they lean in. And I think it's a character- driven comedy. The way I always describe it is it's like this is a show about a family and it's a show about a family first and foremost. And then we take these things that are on the wallpaper of our lives and drop them in the middle of the floor, in the kitchen, and we see how this family is going to either walk around, trip over, decide to explain what's on the floor, how are they going to make sense of this thing that all of us are dealing with. You know, these are things that are sort of --
JONES: I've never seen anybody deal with the postpartum depression thing. Why is that so important?
ROSS: I thought it was really important because I've never seen it taken on, because it's not a experience I have had, because it's not an experience I know a lot about and more -- and I also think it is a stigmatized thing.
JONES: Very much.
ROSS: Mental illness within the black community, which we touched on and in general. But within the black community, it is not something that there's a lot of language for. There is not a lot of support and resource for. And so it was really important to pull that apart in a way.
And what I loved in the way they handled it was there was no eye rolling, you're making too much of this from the husband. There was this loving couple sort of trying to understand something they didn't understand, trying to make sense of something that they didn't understand together. And it is the reason that it's so hard that this couple is going through trouble.
JONES: The show somehow manages to be hysterically funny in dealing the stuff and it's brilliant. Your mom, she is an icon.
ROSS: I like to call her an international treasure.
JONES: Yeah. It's amazing. For a lot of time, you were her little girl, you were her daughter.
ROSS: I don't think that will ever change.
JONES: You are now a star in your own right. You really are a star in your own right. And there are some younger people who may not even know about your mom. They know about you.
JONES: They know about this family. This family is important to them. What advice did your mom give you when you first came into this business? You got somebody who is still a global icon. She must have told you something. What did she tell you?
ROSS: She told me a lot of things. I think the most incredible stuff that I learned from my mother was through the experience of watching her. There's a way that my mom navigates her life in her own beingness and experience that is as a reflection empowering and gives me the courage to make my own choices and live my own life. JONES: I can have my fantasies about what that would be, but what did you observe her do?
ROSS: Well, my mother is a businesswoman.
ROSS: She is, for example, always on time which for her means 10 minutes early. She's prepared. My mom has always handled like Herculean tasks while being a full-time mother, a full-time single mother. And I never heard my mom look at me or one of my siblings and saying, not now, I don't have time.
[23:35:01] My mom, we would leave the house every morning and she would say things like make a new friend today. And I remember my senior year, I was like, seriously, mom --
ROSS: -- I know everybody in the school. There is no friend to make. I know everybody. And then she would say things like fine, then do your best today. I mean, my mom, for example, my mom would say things like before having an opinion herself, because I know she would have her opinion, she would say things like did you do your best. Which let me tell me something, as a child --
ROSS: -- you know when you didn't --
JONES: Exactly. The truth is burning your eyes.
ROSS: When you are your own worst critic and that is the worst. I also remember her, this is a big lesson she taught us, my sister and I would fight all the time, my older sister and I are really close in age, and she would sit us down on the couch together. She would never allow us to stay in the argument. And she would make us sit there together until we could apologize authentically and say I love you. And then we would have to go into her room and show her us saying we were sorry and we love each other. And if she didn't believe it, if it didn't feel authentic, we have to go right back. So, you know, those are some of the lessons.
JONES: So that's not black girl magic. That's like black girl sorcery. That's some major stuff.
ROSS: So I like to say it's the reality that makes us magic. It's how real we are that makes that magic possible.
JONES: I've got so much more I want to talk with you about, especially why you are speaking up for women. More when we get back.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) JONES: I am back with actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross. So glad you're here. Everybody wants to talk with you about your mom. You know, your mom in the '60s wasn't as politically outspoken. She wasn't walking around with the fists in the air.
ROSS: Well, the experience of being in what she was living and being who she was being, boldly being who she was being lovingly and compassionately being who she was being in and of itself was a form of activism if you think of the time she was in and the experiences that she obviously went through.
JONES: You are a much more outspoken person. What is her you -- your celebrity moment, your "Me Too," you've spoken up on so many different issues.
ROSS: "Times Up" more than "Me Too."
JONES: Yes, "Times Up." What is your mom's view of you being such an outspoken actress?
ROSS: I will tell you that my mother -- my mommy was so proud after my TED Talk. Both my TED Talk and the Glamour's Women of the Year talk. My mom knows that I speak that way. My mom knows how I feel about things. She knows my outspokenness. She has been my mom for 45 years.
I think I was probably hammering on her belly when I was in there trying to say stuff or go shopping, I don't know.
JONES: Or both.
ROSS: Or both. But she was incredibly proud. I think she is also just proud because I have found a sense of self and sense of selfhood and a sense of happiness and joy. That is what you hope for for your children.
JONES: Yeah. Was there ever a moment when you were maybe a student activist or whatever you like --
ROSS: No, my activism is very recent.
JONES: Very recent?
ROSS: I think my activism really sort of --
JONES: Why now?
ROSS: Well, what? Everybody needs to use their voices (ph) right now.
ROSS: Which is part of the fertility of this moment.
ROSS: Is that, you know, the tendency with how volatile and scary and appalling and understandably and justifiably terrifying it is, but the opportunity and the invitation truly is to lean into the compassion and grace and the activism.
JONES: And the activism.
ROSS: You know, that's my --
JONES: In this TED Talk, and it's an extraordinary TED Talk. And if people haven't seen it, they should go out of their way to do so.
ROSS: Please do.
JONES: You talked about compassionism (ph). You're also talking about the fact that women have a right to be furious and to own the fury. Now, that is a very tricky tightrope for a black woman to walk.
ROSS: Of course.
JONES: Because it's always all women are too emotional and black women are too angry. So how do you build the compassion and the fury. Talk to me about that.
ROSS: Well, I mean, you know, the paradigm within patriarchy is that men are dumb and women are crazy, right? Well, I don't think men are dumb. I think that there is a culture that has supported them in being dumb. And I don't think women are crazy.
And I think that there is a much more complex nuanced pool that we' are all swimming in. The fury is justified. And I think you could replace women or race into that same conversation, which I discuss. But what I do in the talk, which is really what I have been chomping on, is connecting the innocuous to the horrific. And that there is a spectrum there that we live within. And one makes space for the other.
And on top of that, the invitation at the end is really what is the important part, which is the invitation for men, calling men in to this conversation, to this dialogue and to this movement, this large scale women's movement that is going on to say there is a way for you to be in support of women and to be of service to the change that is occurring as we all together create what we are envisioning, that we don't know what that is, we haven't lived in it.
And for fury, with fury, I think the invitation is not to push it away because we're trained to smile and be appropriate and gracious all the time, but instead to look at it, to learn safe ways and in safe places to express it and to actually listen to it.
JONES: We're always trying to push it down and push it down.
ROSS: It comes out in very weird side ways.
ROSS: Through your neck.
(LAUGHTER) ROSS: And sometimes, you know what, we're human beings. Sometimes that occurs. But as people of color, as black and brown people, your fury if it comes out the wrong way, there are very real consequences.
[23:45:00] JONES: There's one person who I think we are both in competition to be the president of our fan club is Michelle Obama.
ROSS: Oh, yeah.
ROSS: Michelle Obama.
ROSS: She's amazing. For me, it felt like she started a dialogue that had not been opened to have a black woman, to have her name be preceded by lady and first in and of itself. I heard Michaela Angela Davis (ph) say that and I -- I mean, it just reverberated through me. In and of that, that held something.
And made me -- I mean the two of them, you know, stand up a little taller, that there is a way that she is extraordinary in her ordinariness. But she holds -- and you've met her. She literally makes you want to bow. You just literally want to be like yes, ma'am.
ROSS: Like a little curtsy. There's some sort of regalness to her that is not only because of her stature and her height. But she also -- I think of the speech that she made after that moment during the election, that Trump moment.
JONES: The grabbing of the --
ROSS: And there was a way that she -- from the position that she was in, put the responsibility back on the right person. And that was just very powerful.
JONES: Very powerful. You are very powerful. And listen, we talked about your mom was an icon, Michelle Obama as an icon. You're well on your way of becoming an icon because you are very true.
ROSS: You are kind.
ROSS: If I can just stay teachable and be of service, I will be, I will be pleased.
JONES: Well, I have no doubt about that. It means so much. Thank you so much for being here on the show. I want you to watch "Black-ish" Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.
Coming up, we started this show with a hero. We're going to end the show with one, too. Up next, I'm going to introduce you to the 2018 teacher of the year when we get back.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Now, we all remember at least one awesome teacher. Maybe she stayed late and helped you with your math or maybe went to his pocket, got some money for you, and got you some classroom supplies you need. But let me tell you how amazing our next guest is.
She is a teacher who learned sign language just so she can help to teach two of her students. These kids were born deaf. They're from Syria. They had no language at all. Now because of her, they're both preparing to go to college.
That teacher, Mandy Manning, was just awarded the 2018 Teacher of the Year Award, and she joins us now. Welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW.
JONES: Man. You've gone above and beyond above and beyond for kid after kid after kid. You took some kids who only had a fourth grade education from overseas and you got them college ready in four years. Why do you go that far for kids? They're not your kids. You don't know these kids. They're not from America. Why are you doing it?
MANDY MANNING, ENGLISH TEACHER, JOEL E. FERRIS HIGH SCHOOL: They are my kids. I love them. Because there's potential in every single classroom I've ever worked in. And I haven't always taught immigrant and refugee students. I've taught them for the last seven years, 19 years, though, in regular classrooms. And so whenever I look at a kid, I see immense potential.
MANNING: And it's my privilege to get to help them achieve that potential.
JONES: Well, you got invited to the White House because of your great work, and you brought a stack of letters from these refugee children to President Trump. I'm sure he was surprised. So what happened?
MANNING: I had a photograph with the president and my family, and I took advantage of that opportunity and I presented him with the letters. And I just asked him. I said, these are letters from my students and a few community members from Spokane.
And they -- it's really important to them that you read them. And he did -- like he took them so graciously and he thanked me and he said he looked forward to it and had them put on his desk.
JONES: What do you think President Trump can learn from these children, these young people?
MANNING: That they are thankful that they are here. Very thankful. Every single letter said thank you. That they have dreams and hopes to be productive members of our society, our community here in the United States and that coming to the United States represented hope. And that they could achieve their dreams because so many of them went through tremendous trauma in order to get here.
JONES: Why do you have all these pins on? You have pins talking about trans equality, you have women's march pin. Why did you wear those pins to the White House?
MANNING: So I just have to mention that the women's march pin, I didn't make that connection. Yes, it's a women's march pin. But for me, this is the dreamers. This represents my immigrant students. I wore all these pins because I teach all students and this was my message to my students, that I 2was there representing them and ready to tell their stories.
JONES: Beautiful. The White House pool was banned from your speech, which is shocking to a lot of people. I want you to have a chance to read your speech, at least part of it, on "The Van Jones Show." Would that be all right with everybody?
JONES: Do you have it? Whip it out. It is unbelievable that they were so concerned about what you had to say. But we're not concerned, we're inspired by it. What did you have to say?
MANNING: So where should I look? At you still?
JONES: You can read away.
[23:55:00] You don't have to look at me.
MANNING: Over the next year, I will be sharing my students' stories and profound insights into our country throughout the nation. Like Sultan (ph), a refugee from Syria, who escaped war in his country and understands the importance of the United States to be peacemakers.
I am here for refugee and immigrant students, for the kids in the gay/straight alliance, and for all the girls I've coached over the years, to send them the message that they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough, and they matter.
Go out today, seek an experience you have never had before. Get uncomfortable. Challenge your own perceptions to find clarity. Be fearless. Be kind. Meet someone new.
JONES: That's beautiful. Wonderful, wonderful.
JONES: I so thankful that you were able to be here. I really, really am. Keep up the great work. You know, something else I'm thankful for is my hometown of Jackson, Tennessee where both of my parents were school teachers. And I got to go home last weekend. I got to speak at the same church I attended as a child. I gave a commencement address at Lane College, the small historically black school where my grandfather was once president. And I got the key to the city. And, you know, the whole thing just reminded me that some of the biggest hearts in the world beat in some of the smallest towns in America. There's no place like home.
Thank you all. I'm Van Jones. This is THE VAN JONES SHOW. Peace and love for one another.
[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)