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Unconscious Bias: Facing The Realities Of Racism; Examining How Our Judgments May Color Our Decision; How Ingrained Attitudes Can Result In Racial Injustice; How Today's Youth Battle Implicit Bias, Racism; Unconscious Bias Can Turn Everyday Encounters Into Confrontations. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 7, 2020 - 22:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for joining us this evening for the special program, "Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism."

So what is Unconscious Bias? Over the next hour we're going to take a closer look at that because it's something we all do. We all have judgements that may color our decisions, whether it's crossing the street at the side of a black man walking your direction or at the airport fearing someone who appears to be Middle Eastern is a terrorist or presuming Chinese people are carriers of the deadly coronavirus.

Biases can affect everything, from housing to education, finances, health care, even life and death. And right now thousands are still in the streets at this hour demanding change and end to racism in equality, in justice and in end to police brutality. All the ingredients of what led to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man pinned down by police for eight minutes 46 seconds suffering, dying while the officer bracingly had his hand in his pocket with a knee on Floyd's neck.

Leading up to the death of George Floyd, there have been so many others, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, and just recently, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor which has CNN Tom Foreman shows us helped bring this country to this boiling point.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT [voice-over]: Back up from that terrible moment when Ahmaud Arbery was chased down shot to death jogging in Georgia, note the claims of innocence by lawyers for the accused father and son. And then think about the third accused man, William Bryan, whose lawyer also says he's innocent. That he was on his porch, saw a two men in a truck he recognized chasing someone he did not and followed them, taking video of the incident.

KEVIN GOUGH, BRYAN'S ATTORNEY: He does, with all due respect, what any patriotic American citizen would have done under the same circumstances.

FOREMAN: Now listen to another take.

JANE ELLIOT, ANTI-RACISM ACTIVIST: If Arbery had been white, that man you're talking about would have been out there to find out why they were chasing him.

FOREMAN: That's Jane Elliot. She's an educator and activist who has done a lot of work on the subject of unconscious, or as researchers often call it, implicit bias. And so as activist turned attorney, Christopher Bridges.

CHRISTOPHER BRIDGES, DIRECTOR, EXPLICIT BIAS NETWORK FOR EQUAL JUSTICE SOCIETY: Implicit bias is not a way of calling people racist. It's a way of acknowledging that everybody has biases. That very much have been earned or conditioned upon us or with society and function without our conscious awareness.

FOREMAN: An example, a black boy and girl, and a white girl and boy are busy at a table. Teachers are asked to assess their nearly identical behaviors and time and again, the black boy is identified as a challenge. Why? Researchers say it's because our whole society is steeped in the idea kids like him are trouble.

BRIDGES: It's unavoidable to have implicit bias. The problem is, implicit bias can actually impact distant groups way worse than some of the other biases, the general biases we may have.

FOREMAN: Take those ingrained attitudes into adult life and you get, even among folks who do not think they're racist. A bird watcher asking a woman to leash her dog only to be met with fury and a call to police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was an African-American man. I'm in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.

FOREMAN: A woman campaigning door to door for public office only to have the police called on her, too.

REP. SHEILA STUBBS, (D) WISCONSIN STATE ASSEMBLY: Because I felt so degraded. I felt so humiliated.

FOREMAN: And when police arrived, studies have shown they are much more likely to act with violence if they encounter an African-American man, even unarmed.

So much so, a study last year found the average black man has about a one in 1,000 chance of being killed by police over his lifetime. More than double the risk to a white man.

ELLIOT: They are more likely to kill a black person than a white person because they have been taught for 500 years that white people are superior to all others.

FOREMAN: Defender say statistic show African-Americans commit crimes at a higher rate. But skeptics ask, how can we trust those stats if implicit bias is constantly steering everyone to look for crimes involving black people. Remember in the Arbery case, a suspect initially said they saw him poking around a house under construction. And an investigator says the accused shooter said he had a gut feeling that Mr. Arbery may have been responsible for thefts. Even though a security camera caught white people looking around the same building.

BRIDGES: In America, implicit biases, implicit racial biases with incredible in disparity impact a lot of the way in which African- Americans and other people of color live and experience their daily lives.


FOREMAN: The fatal police shooting this year of Breonna Taylor, unarmed in her own apartment in Kentucky is boiling with allegations of bias. And the lieutenant governor is calling for implicit bias education in schools, hoping what is learned can be unlearned. Experts are hopeful.

ELLIOT: Absolutely. Anything you create, you can destroy. We can destroy racism.

FOREMAN [on camera]: These types of biases can affect our views of all sorts of things about age and religion and where you're from, even maybe what you wear. But right now the big debate is how do we grapple with the sort of gray thinking when it comes down to black and white. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And borrowing the words of civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, "People are sick and tired of being sick and tired."

To help us understand the unconscious bias we all either encounter or have, with me now by phone is Verna Myers who is Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix and the author of "What if I Say the Wrong Thing. Also with us, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of the "New York Times" best seller, "White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism."

Ladies, thank you so much for being with us.

So, Robin, Dr. DiAngelo, you first. You know, explain for people in simplest terms, you know, what is unconscious implicit bias?

ROBIN DIANGELO, AUTHOR, "WHITE FRAGILITY: WHY IT'S SO HARD FOR WHITE PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT RACISM: It's a bias that everyone absorbs just by living in a culture where we're constantly given different messages about different people. And implicit bias is unavoidable. We all have unconscious prejudices or bias.

Unfortunately, we've been taught that it's bad to have those things, and that has us defending and protecting and denying that we have them, rather than taking that deep look that would help challenge it.

You know, I want to make a really important point. Well, implicit bias and racism are connected, they're not the same thing. Racism is what happens when you take one group's collective racial bias and you back it with legal authority and institutional control then it is transformed into a system because there's so much homogeneity in the groups of people that are controlling that system that it gets embedded in everything.

And that's why black people can have an implicit automatic bias towards me just because I'm white. But I don't live in a world in which I have to worry about that because the impact of my bias on them, when it is backed by every institution including the police, is just so profoundly different.

FREDRICKA: Verna Meyers, you're on the phone with us. We were hoping to be able to see you but just technology that kind of stood in the way. But your voice is really valued here.

So you say, you know, one of the first things about dealing with bias is to get out of denial. You say, we all have biases. So how do we get out of denial?

VERNA MYERS, AUTHOR, "WHAT IF I SAY THE WRONG THING" (via telephone): Hi. Thank you so much for having this program. I think it's extremely important at this time. I think that denial is the most important thing for us to focus on so often because we are good people, we want people to believe that about us. And the problem with being in denial of racism and our bias is that we're standing in the way of actually becoming the people that we want to be.

And so what we're really asking people to do is to do the hard work of looking at yourself, looking at the way that you've been brought up, your history, your community, your friends, and to notice what is so difficult to admit, which is that you may have been placed not on your own but as a result of systems, as Robin said, in a position of being considered better than. Having the benefit of the doubt. Having your hard work assisted by the assumption that you're smart, or that you're moral, or that you're more capable than others.

And so it's hard to, it's hard --


MYERS: -- to hear that and to see that and to believe it. But once you are willing to look at it and bring some courage to it, then you're in a position to interrupt those biases.

WHITFIELD: So Robin, because it is so hard to, a, admit, and it's hard for a lot of people to talk about, here's an example, perhaps. Listen to what happened when one of our reporters who is a white woman asked a young black woman about unconscious bias, any that she may have experienced. And this was the outcome.


MARIELLE SMITH, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER, BLACK LOVE RESIST IN THE RUST: I'm going to be honest, as a white woman for to you ask me a question like that, it is a bit offensive. Because my whole life in this black body has been biased by people who look like you.


The earliest experience I ever had with racism, I was 6 years old.


WHITFIELD: So Robin that underscores, because it is difficult to talk about. How do you start the conversation?

DIANGELO: Well, it doesn't have to be difficult to talk about. We have to get past this idea that somehow that makes us bad. And then we end up putting all our energy into defending our moral character. As long as we think that something that is unavoidable for us to absorb makes us immoral we're going to put all our energy into defending our moral character.

Just start from the premise that of course you've internalized biases and prejudices and stereo types. You know, you spent your lifetime absorbing messages, movies, television, your heroes, your heroines.

You know, the research is very clear that as early as three and four, everyone who grows up here understands it's better to be white in this society. Nobody misses the message. I didn't choose that message but I did get it and it does come out in my life.

And so, just let go of guilt and that kind of thing and then get to work actually trying to identify your biases. You know, the nature of an assumption you is don't know you're making it. So, you're not going to be able to do that on your own.

If somebody is willing to kind if risk you getting defensive with them and help you point out an assumption you're making you don't know you're making, be appreciative of that. Do you want to carry on making mistakes that you don't know you're making but people are afraid to tell you because you're going to laugh at them?

WHITFIELD: You say be appreciative but you've written it in your book, you know, "White Fragility," that it is very uncomfortable. A lot of people don't want to make that kind admission and they certainly don't want to make that admission because they don't want to feel bad about themselves. So...

DIANGELO: Yes. We're back to...

WHITFIELD: ... so then you suggest what?

DIANGELO: ... it's not your fault. And we just -- it's actually really liberating to let go of that and to say of course it's inevitable that I've absorbed these biases. And if I want to feel good about myself, then I'm actively working to challenge them. Putting my head in the sand, I'm wondering how that would make me feel better than working hard to be actually a better person, if you will.

WHITFIELD: And Verna, as we continue to look at pictures across the country, this is in Portland, Oregon, people out in protest, in your book, you say, "What if I Say the Wrong Thing?", you say you just got to go there. You got to be uncomfortable. Face the fear that actually shapes your bias.

MYERS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you're not going to be comfortable before you're uncomfortable, right? So that's just a piece of information that you take into the conversation. But I think what you also do is that you decide what you're going to go looking for your biases, right? So this is like we are being very proactive. And there are ways that you can start to see it show up once you start looking for it.

WHITFIELD: Give me an example.

MYERS: Well, you can just look at the number of people in your circle and see how many people, like if we're talking about the work place, for example, and you can say, who do I hang out with? Who do I talk to? Is it a very sort of monocultural system? And when I think of who I hire or who I promoted in the last year, right, because it's always important with bias not to look at just one incident but to look over a -- to see if you can see a pattern. And often what you will realize is, oh, I'm hiring myself.

By far, I think one of the most difficult biases to see is in stable (ph) business.


MYERS: That's the kind of bias where you are basically replicating yourself, right? So that's how racism continues to get embedded in all across...

WHITFIELD: OK. We're going to leave it there. Verna Myers and Robin DiAngelo, thank you so much as we continue to look at these pictures out of Los Angeles people gathering.

It's a universal issue that we're all talking about. We're all vulnerable to it.

Still ahead, real life experiences of unconscious bias, including one of my colleagues' run-in with police. Our conversion continues right after this.


WHITNEY HOPKINS: I was working at Startup and I had a very high executive tell me that I was very articulate and that I spoke very well.

SAM SHACHTER: I was drug tested once if any times and I was high every day. And teachers knew, faculty knew, and my parents and myself and friends knew. But given the fact that I was white, they were like, let's give him a chance.

TERECIA DAUGHTRY: I apply for some housing and they said they didn't have any more housing. But another female came in, a different race came in and they gave that housing to that person because the property was still open.




WHITFIELD: All right, thanks for joining me for this special hour, Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism.

So bias, they can come in lots of different forms from the very blatant to something as simple as a look.

Procter and Gamble created a video it calls "The Look" to help start that conversation.


WHITFIELD: Powerful, right? Well, joining me right now, CNN Political Commentators, Van Jones, Keith Boykin, Ana Navarro. Good to see all of you this evening.

So Van, you know, the presumptions, you know, in that video are clear, you know, saying, I fear you, I don't respect you, and in the end it doesn't even matter that you're a judge and that you would experience this. So help people understand how fatiguing it is to be subjected to this.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, you feel like you're always on trial. Every time you walk into an elevator, you walk into a building, anytime you interact with the public, you have this extra anxiety that somebody is going to see you as a threat.

And it is this weird thing because somehow, you know, my skin makes me threatening, but actually experience the world as a very threatening place. I'm the one that's more likely to be accused of shoplifting, arrested, beaten. I'm the one actually in danger and it is such a mind trip to be the person who is, you know, going about your day, threatening no one, under threat, but seen as a threat.

WHITFIELD: Ana, hopefully you can hear me. I understand we may have some audio problems.


WHITFIELD: OK. Good. So, what are your -- what are the biases that you have learned to kind of steel yourself against?

NAVARRO: You know, I grew up, I settled and came to Miami. When Cuban- Americans first came here in 1960, there were signs all over the place that said no blacks, no dogs, no Cubans. But by the time I came here in 1980, grew up here in 1990, the 2000s, the Hispanics, Latins were in Congress, were in governorships, were senators, were in charge of financial institutions. So I kind of live in this little bubble here in Miami where we haven't yet read the memo in our inbox informing us that we are a minority in America. And it wasn't until I hit the national stage that I started getting just a, you know, a thunderbolt of it. I got so much social media back lash. That people who like me will talk to me by my sexy Latina accent. That people who hate me would tell me to go eat another burrito and go back to Mexico.

By the way, I'm not from Mexico. I was born in Nicaragua. But it turns out ignorance and racism are -- there's a huge correlation, there is more than one country in Latin America.

And how do I steel myself to it? It just I don't let it affect me. It used to. It used to get to me. And then one day, it was like I turned off a light switch, and really, they can insult me any way they want, they can say anything they want, it did not ding my skin because I am American no matter what they say and no matter who likes it or who accepts it or not. We have exactly the same rights.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Because the goal sometimes is to distract you, is to throw you off course, so to speak, Ana. So, has anything changed for you in recent years besides your resolve, the way in which you address it when it comes?

NAVARRO: You know, I see things that I didn't see before. I see privilege. I see people behaving in ways that it would not occur to me to behave because I don't think I could get away with it.

And I also try to check myself. You I know I have a lot -- I know people always say, some of my best friends are black. You know, in my case actually, some of my best friends are black. And because of that, I really try to check myself a lot because how many times have I, you know, been in a place where somebody cracks a joke? How many times have I heard somebody from Latin America say something like, oh, in Cuba, there was no racism because black people knew their place. And I don't correct it or call it out as racism.

And so I see things now. And I see things. The reason I'm able to hear things differently and see things differently is because I have the benefit of people like Donna Brazile in my life, and like Isaiah in my life, and Kendrick in my life and Julia in my life who have shared these experiences with me that are somewhat foreign to me.

Because also, remember, a lot of us Latins, a lot of us immigrants, Hispanic immigrants, came here after the Civil Rights Movement. And so it's something that you have to learn because we didn't live through. And it has made a huge difference in my life. It made it a lot better.


WHITFIELD: That's fantastic. Well, you know, Keith, you know, because you turned it around. Keith, you know, race and ethnicity, it's not the only way in which these biases are exhibited, sexuality, religion, politics, you see it there too.

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: That's true. And you know, for me, as a black man, as a gay man (INAUDIBLE), I've encountered different types of unconscious bias and implicit bias primarily in two ways, police encounters and stores. With police encounters, you know, stopped by the police one time in the subway here in New York City. Accused of jumping the turnstile which I did not do.

And another event just a week ago I was arrested by the police while covering a protest here in New York City. I think they just made the assumption that I had to be a troublemaker even though I identified myself being with the press.

And when I'm in stores, as Van said, you know, if I'm in a drugstore, a department store, there is a tendency that sort of think that I'm a shoplifter from a lot of people. Or if not that, there's also a tendency to think that I work at that store for people.

WHITFIELD: I get both of those all the time.

BOYKIN: Exactly. Exactly. So you're constantly self-regulating. You're watching yourself and your behavior to make sure it fits into a way that doesn't threaten someone.

And, you know, you have intersectional identities that makes it even more complicated because for me, you know, sometimes you give the black community that people don't think you're going to be supportive of the larger African-American cause. And from the LGBTQ community, sometimes there's a tendency to pick that black people were threatening. So, there's a lot of different layers that are involved in the unconscious bias and it affects all of us in many different ways.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So often if I'm in a store and I'm followed around and I feel like the security guard is, you know, suspecting that I'm going to shoplift, and then by the time I get to the counter to pay for it, I'm looking for that same security guard just to help remove the image that he has of me or anyone who looks like me that would shoplift. How about look at me as a person who's actually paying for their stuff.

BOYKIN: Or if you go to a restaurant...

WHITFIELD: But seldom do I see that security guard at that moment.

BOYKIN: Or you go to a restaurant, there's a tendency sometimes for black people to over tip because there's (INAUDIBLE) black people don't tip. And so there's many way...


WHITFIELD: So you're over compensating -- that's right.

All right, thanks to all of you. Really appreciate it, Van, Keith, Ana, appreciate it. Have a great evening.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, so when does unconscious bias begin? I'll speak with a group of college students about their experiences and their own biases. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Welcome back to unconscious bias facing the realities of racism, prejudices, judgments about each other, fears, which are all at the root of your bias, and it all starts really early.

Using an implicit bias test, Northwestern University researchers found that children just four and five years old already viewed images of black boys and girls less favorably than their white peers, and it often starts in the classroom.


IMANI SMITH: The very first time ever I experienced that I was in sixth grade, I moved to Connecticut for a year, it was predominantly white. I went to a predominantly white school. I was an honor student. I got high grades. I was told like, it's impossible for me to get this, this. I must be cheating.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's get some more perspective from some of our young people that are joining me here. Right now are three college students, Freddie Hicks of Florida A&M University, Jessica Jones of Georgia State University, and Maya Brown-Edwards of Howard University, my alma mater, by the way, good to see all of you. Thanks so much for joining us.

So Jessica, can you think of a bias that you experienced that really set you back really upset you?

JESSICA JONES, STUDENT, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes. I remember when I was 10, I went to a new school and it was a K through 12 school. Some of the kids have been there for a while. And I remember my hair being compared to broomsticks. And the kids laughed and my nickname was Petia.

WHITFIELD: And how did that make you feel?

JONES: Confused, very confused.

WHITFIELD: How did you handle it? What did you do?

JONES: I went to my mom. We went to the school administrators. You know, I was talking with my peers and it ended up being something of a fiasco. My mom was in the office all the time talking to the teachers and the administration at that school throughout my and my sister's time there as we dealt with all kinds of discrimination.

WHITFIELD: And then you felt, you know, singled out, which sometimes makes you feel a little bit more insecure, doesn't it?

JONES: Definitely.


JONES: I think one of the biggest gifts, however that came through that has been a self-confidence and love that I'd read for myself. And to have been able to overcome that and be able to speak to others has been really impactful for me.

WHITFIELD: Beautiful and you're doing a great job right now. So, you know, Maya, you know, do you see where your biases may have impacted how you make decisions?

JONES: Definitely --


WHITFIELD: Oh, that's Maya, go ahead.

BROWN-EDWARDS: I know, I can see it in my day to day process. I feel like it was such an ingrained thing in my life that I didn't really notice it until it became a word, when that was -- that was when I started to apply internships and I started to be in these rooms where I am only black person here. And then you will see cases of nepotism, you will see cases of where my intelligence was being questioned. And that's when it really sunk into me.

WHITFIELD: Freddie, do you think you remember the first time you may have experienced racial bias? And how might it have changed you?

FREDDIE HICKS, STUDENT, FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY: Well, I would say around when I was in middle school. My teacher kept on like getting me confused with one of the students that was happening throughout the year. And at the time, I thought it was more of like, I thought it was funny because it was just from fifth grade and I didn't really understand it.

But looking back now, it was really kind of confusing how it happened multiple times. But that was also say the first time.

WHITFIELD: All right Jessica, I know you say you in the end all of this empowered you, Maya and Freddie, do you feel like these experiences have in some way empowered you too?


BROWN-EDWARDS: I would say that it -- it did make me insecure, but then luckily, I was -- we have this discussion often with my peers and having this discussion and made me know that this is not my experience. And also with my professors and being at a school like Harvard University, they really built up their black students, so we can go into these situations and know and still have our confidence there.

WHITFIELD: So true, Freddie.

HICKS: Yes. I feel like it also helped me empower me and make me feel going through thinking back and maybe feel, I'm proud to be black and also what like, what she said I'm making go to (INAUDIBLE) where we update our black students, and it just made me feel like me, and made me feel comfortable.

WHITFIELD: All right, we're also proud of all of you, Freddie Hicks, Jessica Jones, Maya Brown-Edwards, thank you so much.

HICKS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All the best.

Unconscious bias can seep into our daily lives in so many different ways from sitting at a Starbucks to taking a nap in your dorm common room. We'll talk to two of our CNN correspondents about their experiences and what they see.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back to our special coverage, unconscious bias, facing the realities of racism, which can happen at any time. For example, you'll remember two black men arrested in Philadelphia for waiting for another friend at a table in Starbucks. The Starbucks CEO eventually apologizing calling it quote, a reprehensible in incident.


Or how about a nap after studying, at Yale University, a white student, suspicious of a of a black student sleeping in her dorms, common room calls police saying quote, you're not supposed to be sleeping here.

All right with me now, CNN Sara Sidner and Ryan Young. Both of you have extensively covered these recent protests sparked by George Floyd's death. But you've also covered other incidents where race played a factor. So Sara, what makes this movement different, and how might it impact people's biases?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a couple of things that make this different. In 2014, I covered the killing of Michael Brown. I covered in Tulsa the shooting of Terence Crutcher by a police officer. In Baltimore, I covered the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of a police officer.

And then of course, we have the situation with George Floyd. And I think one thing that makes it difference is the length of time that this went on, and that the video shows from the beginning to the end. There is no question about what happened before or after, because what you see on that videotape for more than seven minutes for seven minutes and 54 seconds, is someone who has complete control of a human being who has his hands behind his back in handcuffs, unable to move or do anything.

And you watch this unfold minute by minute by minute. You haven't had that in any other case that has become, you know, a national story. What you've seen is the immediate action at the time or you didn't see what happened during the time you just heard stories of what happened.

And so in this particular instance, you were seeing from beginning to end, it didn't matter at one point whether or not George Floyd was resisting arrest or not, because he was already handcuffed and the whole time, he has a knee pressed down on his neck. You are watching a man lose his breath and eventually lose his life.

And there's no question about it. You can't deny it. A lot of times people have wanted to find excuses. And sometimes the police have a reason for doing something or another that cannot be disputed because there is no videotape of it. It's he said, she said, and people tend to side with the officers who are professionals and supposed to be, you know, they know what they're supposed to be doing.

But so many times, people have said that's not what happened, but there is no proof. And to be fair, in the criminal justice systems, juries tend to side with police officers. It's just a proven fact. In this case, when you look at the totality of just that eight or nine minute video, what you see on that video cannot be denied. And so I think that is what changed so many people's minds.

It was so painful to watch that. It was so disturbing from a humanity standpoint to watch that, that when any human being watched that, and I'm talking about from a child to an 80-year-old person, you cannot deny that there was in humanity there, and that he was losing his life in front of your eyes for no reason. And no one can figure out what the reason was because he certainly wasn't resisting.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And it's more than an insinuation and people feel they can see bias just in the demeanor of the officer who is so cool and cavalier with the hand of the pocket while someone is losing their life under his knee.

Ryan, you know, while you have certainly covered a lot of stories that put the magnifying glass on bias. The last thing you thought is that while you're covering a story, you would actually be subject of bias. Tell me about this story, where you called for police because someone you thought was intimidating your live shot only to be looked at as a suspect yourself.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Sara and I have covered all these cases. And I can tell you we a lot of times are talking with police officers. They tell you often they look, they want to be on the side of what's right. And one of the situations you always sort of figure out here, people say you can't prove things they just happened sometimes.

I can tell you, we were out covering the hurricane one time, I just started at CNN, and I was getting ready for a live shot with Anderson. And then all of a sudden, we had a man who came up and started costing us and as I was talking to him, he decided to spit in my direction and call me the N word.

When we call the police department for help, what ended up happening unfortunately to us is one of these things that you just really can't explain. The officers arrived even though I was wearing a CNN jacket, they thought I was the person that the producers were calling to get help from and in fact that he first and call for backup. They realized that it was actually the other gentleman that they need an arrest. And look, here's the thing, we deal with these things and my producers and my photographer was quite shocked. I've never really talked about this because of the whole fact of look, difficult job to do. But when you get pulled over, when you have these instances and when you're out in the community, people have these complaints all the time.


They want us to do something about it. But without video, like we saw, is you would not see the sort of people from the community coming forward to support this. So it's something that we always deal with. You have to be able to prove it. And that's how cell phones have really changed things.

WHITFIELD: Yes. They really have indeed. But to your point of, you know, you didn't tell anybody about it. I really just put you on the spot about it. And sadly, you've encountered things like that so often that you did kind of put it aside as, you know, sadly, you're used to it and that is what biases are all about. Sara Sidner, Ryan young, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right, protesters have been out on the street for now, 13 days. Their pain is palpable. Coming up, how we can channel that pain into progress.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back, the death of George Floyd has sparked nationwide protests and place renewed scrutiny on policing tactics. One community that is no stranger to frayed relationships with police is Ferguson, Missouri. It's been less than six years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police there. His death sparked nationwide demonstrations.


Joining me right now from Ferguson is Ron Johnson, a former captain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He played a significant role in trying to heal the community after Michael Brown was killed and wrote the book, "13 Days in Ferguson" about what happened.

Also joining me by phone, so many people working from home, trying to bring their signals to us and sometimes it all doesn't work out perfectly. But Ella Jones, we'll hear her voice. She is the mayor- elect of Ferguson, the city's first African-American and the first woman to hold that seat. Thanks so much, both of you for joining us.

Mayor-elect, we're going to be on every word hanging on every word since we can't see you particularly. But what is the relationship like in your view in Ferguson between police and the community right now? I know you're new to the job, but what are you seeing?

MAYOR-ELECT ELLA JONES, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: Right now the Ferguson Police Department, they are working diligently to communicate with the youth and the people of Ferguson. At this time, they have started different functions with the youth. They are communicating with the people. So the relationship is getting better.

WHITFIELD: Captain Johnson, people became very familiar with you and your approach. You literally were putting your arms around people trying to bridge that divide between the community and Ferguson and police. But not all police departments have the capacity to approach situations like that, or in your view, should they all have the capacity to do that?

CAPT. RON JOHNSON (RET.), MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: They should all have the capacity and I believe they all do. It is tough. And I always say it's going up to the porch when someone says don't come to my gate. But you keep going to that gate and you keep knocking at that gate until someone says, lets you in and you begin to have that conversation.

WHITFIELD: Mayor-elect, biases, we're talking about that how judgments really color people's actions. How are you hoping to convey to that community that people need to approach their fears, leave their comfort zones, try to stamp out or correct whatever biases they have?

JONES: Well, we've got to have courageous conversations. And once we sit down and start talking to each other and find common ground, that's the only way people can get over their biases. They must sit down and talk and realize, just because the color of my skin is different than yours, we all breathe the same air.

And once people understand that, and understand that it's OK to disagree, then and only then you can start moving forward together to mend some of the hurt and the biases.

WHITFIELD: And Captain Johnson, I know it's a simplistic question. And the answer is not simple. But how do you remove the most poisonous of biases within the police department?

JOHNSON: You have that impactful conversation, that conversation that talks about implicit biases. You know, I always say that the first thing that has to happen in law enforcement, there has to be an acknowledgement of the existence of a culture that has a social racism that exists and that it impacts African-Americans. It takes away freedoms, liberties, and life.

And so I think you have to acknowledge the existence. And until you do that, you cannot even have the conversation.

WHITFIELD: You heard one of the secretaries of the Trump administration say today. There is no systemic racism in law enforcement. And what do you say to him?

JOHNSON: Well, I say, you know, the next thing I'm going to say that America has to acknowledge the existence of a social racism in America, that's beyond policing. And so there's a lot of issues that we have to address as a country. And I'd say that everybody needs to get to the table. Some people say that it takes white America to fix it. Well, it takes all of us to fix it. And it has to be a joint conversation with African-Americans at the table. There's a group in North Carolina, a group of gang members, and they're in a program called True Colors. And the impact is not about the word gang. But we focus on the word leader. And that leader has the chance to influence and create a positive change. So, even African-American men that have been gang members or former gang members need to have a seat at the table.

So everyone has a seat at the table to understand what our problems are. And that's where in this impactful conversation comes in.

WHITFIELD: Captain Ron Johnson, Mayor-elect Ella Jones, thank you so much for joining us.

JONES: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.


All right, so this has been a tumultuous two weeks from shocking, reaffirming, confusing, comforting, disheartening, giving rise to greater determination to keep fighting for right. And in this fight a diverse tapestry of people on one accord globally and racism and injustices, Black Lives Matter, right, not dictated by political leanings, associations with comfortable spaces, but what's right on basic human kindness and decency levels.

And along the way in the spirit of Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and George Floyd, we have seen these things, heard things, stirring all of our emotions, bringing us to ask, where are we, and how is this and how can this be? Behaviors, biases, travesties, and obstacles going back 400 plus years in America, so wouldn't it be something, if where we are right now, if we are in a place on the precipice, perhaps of what abolitionist Frederick Douglass said is needed to right the wrongs.

He said, it is not light that we need, but fire. It is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. And in this moment, is all of this. All of this, is this part of the forces behind that storm, that earthquake? It's up to all of us.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks so much for being with us this evening. Have a great night.