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Cuomo Says New York has Lowest Rate of Transmission in U.S.; Restaurants Face New Challenges are Reopening Accelerates; Medical Workers Stage Protests Over Racial Inequality in Healthcare; North Carolina Doctor Says Racism is a Pandemic Too; Dave Chappelle Talks About George Floyd in New Special; Starbucks Now Says Workers Can Wear Black Lives Matter Items; Two Chefs Feeding the Hungry During Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Well, some welcome news finally out of New York today on the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that the virus is spreading there at the lowest rate of any state in the entire nation.

And that is coming as businesses are trying to figure out how to reopen safely and make guests feel comfortable and confident about returning. A task made even more challenging in places like New York because of the unrest and racial tensions we've seen since the death of George Floyd. And just folks wanting to go out and use voices and march.

So my next guest is working on getting his restaurant back up and running. Russell Jackson is his name. He's a chef and owner of Reverence in New York City. So, chef, welcome. Can you hear me Russell? Russell we're live on tv, you got me? Maybe we should see if we could connect with him. OK. We'll come back to him in just a second.

Meantime, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color. According to a CDC report last month, 33 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients are black compared to 18 percent of people in surrounding areas. This is happening in a time when protests continue against the way African-Americans have been treated by law enforcement in this country. And a number of medical professionals are joining them calling out inequality in health care.

At a protest in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, one doctor made it clear to everyone, you see her sign, racism is a pandemic too and she's joining me now. She is Dr. Jasmine Johnson. She's a maternal and fetal medicine fellow for the University of North Carolina. So, Dr. Johnson, a pleasure, welcome.

DR. JASMINE JOHNSON, MATERNAL-FETAL MEDICINE FELLOW AT UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH: Thank you for having me. BALDWIN: Site of my alma mater there. You are a doctor on the

frontlines. You went into the crowd, you know, with the white coat and mask to hold up that sign. Tell me why.

JOHNSON: Well, I think that this is personal for me on many levels. First of all, I'm a black woman but I'm also the mother of two black children. And when I think about the future for my children, I can't help but speak out. But I'm also a maternal-fetal medicine doctor who researches black maternal health outcomes.

And we know that black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes. Black women have the highest rate of pre-term birth. And other studies that I've done show that racism has infiltrated everything, even the way that we practice medicine. Even when we don't think that racism is impacting it.

BALDWIN: Let me underscore one of the points you just made. So this is according to the CDC JUST in terms of inequality and the public health sphere. The CDC said black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth related causes. Talk about what you are doing . Wat your colleagues are doing to help achieve equality in the health care system.

JOHNSON: Well, one thing that our hospital system is doing just like a lot of hospitals over the country, is we are looking at cases of maternal morbidity or when moms have an adverse outcome and looking at what contributed to that. We are collecting data on race when it comes to maternal outcomes at our hospitals so that we can make sure that a woman's race or her primary language didn't impact her care.

We are also rolling out things called bundles or ways that we can standardize care for women. So that when implicit bias is at play and people aren't doing what they should be doing, at least things are standard so that the impacts of racism could be mitigated.

BALDWIN: So glad, you know, folks are on this. You know we've been talking so much about inequalities within the justice system but it is health care, it is education, it is on and on and on. I know in the protest in Chapel Hill, about 500 medical professionals showed up, right, in solidarity. Just what kind of conversations are you having with fellow doctors, nurses and also what kind of conversations are you having with, as you mentioned, the mother, your children.

JOHNSON: Well I think what puts this movement just on another level compared to other times is that everyone is talking about it. And it's not just the black people talking about how racism has affected their lives but non-black families are having these conversations in their household. Likely said, my colleagues and I have had a lot of conversations in the recent weeks on how we can make sure that we are on the right side of history and making sure that we're doing anti- racism work.

For me as a mom, you know, my children, for them a black female physician is the rule and not the exception. But when my children leave the house there is a different set of rules. And I think that that is what made me go to that protest. Because I don't want my children when they're adults to have to sit and talk about these things that their mom has had to speak out on.

BALDWIN: Dr. Jasmine Johnson, thank you so very much. Nice to have you on.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank you so much.


BALDWIN: And when we come back, we will get you back to the chef there in Harlem. His restaurant is Reverence. How he is handling sitting at the center -- the epicenter of the COVID pandemic and also just as a black chef in Harlem with everything going on. I want to have a conversation with him. Chef Russell Jackson next.


BALDWIN: We are back with the Reverence chef and owner Russell Jackson.


Chef, all right, here we go again. So this country, you know, you're there, you know, this country is battling these two health emergencies, COVID and racism. You are smack dab at the center of it all as a black chef in Harlem. How are you doing?

RUSSELL JACKSON, CHEF AND OWNER, REVERENCE: You know, I'm taking it day by day. Sometimes hour-by-hour. It's a very cathartic, surreal time right now. I don't think any of us really expected to be in this dire position in life. So, yes.

BALDWIN: So you're rolling through. I've read about your bento boxes so people still get some, you know, delicious eats from you. Let me just shout that out right now. But I was you know going through your Instagram and I read your Instagram post that you wanted to open a restaurant.

You know, originally you wanted to open a restaurant in an underserved community. Whereas you wrote about how you wanted to connect with the people and raise your family and serve in the only way you know how and you want to make a difference and built Reverence for this purpose. How do you mean?

JACKSON: Well, I'm really paying homage to the place that I grew up which is South California as well as the chefs and the inspiration that I found living there. I'm a California style chef and I believe in that ideology where fresh veritable high-quality driven simplified cooking, I guess in the Mediterranean style, is really the cornerstone to the foundation that I learned how to cook.

What I saw in living here in Harlem and starting to raise my family here and grow roots here -- because again I'm from originally from southern California -- was that I was sorely needed. That this idea, this style of restaurant didn't exist here.

And there are some amazing restaurants here in Harlem. And there are some amazing artisans doing incredible work. There are more 25-year- old restaurants in this neighborhood than I think that in most cities that I've worked in in my career. I'm a block away from a restaurant that has been there for over 20 years, Belle.

And then, you know of course, we don't even want to bring up Silvia's and Melba's, and what institutions they are for just not Harlem but -- and for African-American cuisine. But for New York as a whole. As we've gone on and done as we're doing the work that we're doing, we're learning so much. I'm on one of the most historic blocks in Manhattan or in Harlem which is Strivers' Row, we're on the key corner at 138th and Frederick Douglas.

And what we have come to realize is that I'm the first fine dining restaurant owned by an African-American chef since Patrick Clark which is extraordinary. Patrick Clark, obviously, had his restaurant on the east side in 1988 and then moved to California and then eventually came back. So for us being a service to the community, having an opportunity to start to change the conversation as well as live up to what I grew up with and the quality of food that I know I want to have living here was really important for me. So that is what we try to do on a day to day basis.

When the pandemic hit, we had to -- and I hate the word pivot. Really, we had to just rethink how we could go out and be of service to the community. So we dropped our prices. We tried to create a program that got people out of their houses but still allowed them to have a high- quality meal. And sit down and have something interesting to be able to sit around the dinner table and have those conversations that are so important right now.

BALDWIN: And I'm sure your community appreciates it. I can't wait to come grab some of your delicious food at Reverence and I thank our dear friend and chef Dom Crenn for connecting the two of us. So Chef Russell Jackson, she is the best as are you. Thank you, sir, so much. We'll see you in Harlem. Thank you.

We hope to see you soon.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thanks guys.

BALDWIN: Dave Chappelle is releasing a surprise special on the death of George Floyd and racial injustice. His message to the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.



BALDWIN: Dave Chappelle is speaking out for the first time since George Floyd's death. The comedian is releasing a surprise special on Netflix's Comedy YouTube channel last night. It's called 846 in reference to how long a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck. The nearly 30-minute video was filmed last week in Ohio with social

distancing guidelines in place for attendees, face masks, temperature checks as you can imagine. At the event Chappelle talked about Floyd's death, the Black Lives Matter movement, police violence and more.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Who are you talking to? What are you signifying? That you can kneel on a man's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn't get the wrath of god. That's what is happening right now. It's not for a single cop, it's for all of it.


BALDWIN: Let's go straight to my friend and CNN senior entertainment reporter Lisa Respers France. And Lisa, it is pretty powerful.


What else did Dave say?

LISA RESPERS FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, Dave got very emotional, it turns out that 846 is also his time of birth. Which was eerie coincidence. He just spoke very passionately about George Floyd's death, about the aftermath.

He took umbrage with our own Don Lemon calling out celebrities saying that now is not the time for celebrities to speak. He said that the streets are speaking, and he doesn't need to participate. That people don't want to hear from celebrities right now.

He had some stuff to say about Laura Ingraham, the conservative TV host. Candace Owens who's also a conservative talking head. And he just got very passionate and very upset.

And it was interesting because it was more, you know, like him really riffing on things as opposed to jokes. It was more of commentary than really a stand up special. And several times he said, this isn't funny. So, it was really interesting to watch.

BALDWIN: Se we can tune into the -- to the YouTube channel for that.

And then I also want to ask you about something you had posted. We did the whole share of the Mic Now campaign. You took over my Instagram account.


BALDWIN: Can I tell you how many people have texted me asking me about this Bachelor's story because you posted it. I mean it's taking ABC nearly 20 years, they have finally cast the first black Bachelor. Do you think it's too little too late? What say you, Lisa France?

FRANCE: Well, it feels a little reactionary but some people say that it's never too late. Matt James, 28 years old, he's a New York based real estate broker, also runs a nonprofit with his best friend Tyler Cameron who's also part of the Bachelor nation, part of the franchise.

But interestingly enough, a lot of people were pulling for Mike Johnson, they really wanted him and not Matt. So, I'm going to be interested to see. People really have a wait and see attitude. They want to see who the contestants are going to be and also, they want to see if he's going to have enough women of color to choose from.

So, there are a lot of layer when's it comes to the whole Bachelor black, you know, Bachelor situation. I mean years ago there was a lawsuit in which two African-American men tried to force ABC to pick a black Bachelor. So, people have been waiting on this for a really long time.

BALDWIN: Last quick question, Starbucks, they're changing course on whether employees can wear clothing items that say, "Black Lives Matter." What's the story there?

FRANCE: Well, they have been threatened with the boycott. Starbuck's just like pop culture, just like business world, everybody's pivoting right now in terms of Black Lives Matter. They prohibited people from wearing personal articles of clothing, and a lot of the employees wanted to be able to show their support for Black Lives Matter. And the company said absolutely not.

Even as they were working on their own apparel to be in support of racial equality. But there was such an outcry from the public and people saying that this wasn't right, that they reversed course and said that they will allow people to wear items that are in support of Black Lives Matter.

BALDWIN: Everybody's pivoting, like you said, with "The Bachelor." Maybe it's reactionary, but, hey, at least it's change. Lisa Respers France, good to see you. Thank you very much.

FRANCE: Good to see you. Thank you.

BALDWIN: You got it.

And a new book on the first lady says Melania Trump waited months to move into the White House for reasons we haven't heard before. That's next. But first, as food banks across the country continue to struggle just to keep up with the demand, two CNN Heroes are making sure people do not go hungry.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The clients we serve are very medically fragile, vulnerable, primarily low-income people. Many of them living alone, and many of them have lost caregivers because of the pandemic. That population has the potential for the most complications and mortality if they get the illness. So, it's really, really important that this population stays home and stays safe. Medically tailored 100 percent organic, meals are specifically tailored to the nutrient requirements of the clients' illness.

CHAD WINDHAM, CNN HERO: We start with canned goods. We received a lot of calls asking for help in feeding food-insecure students that were dependent upon school meals for their basic nutritional needs. The young men and young women that we serve are doing a tremendous job stepping up to the plate during this time of crisis. Grappling with anything even a global pandemic, it starts with a community rallying around one another.


BALDWIN: And Anderson Cooper has so many more stories on these CNN Heroes. Go to



BALDWIN: First lady Melania Trump waited nearly six months to join her husband at the White House when he won the presidency. Now we finally may know why. According to a new book by "Washington Post" reporter Mary Jordan, "Mrs. Trump" delayed that move to renegotiate her prenuptial agreement.

Among her demands, a guarantee that their son, Baron, will be taking care of financially. CNN reached out for comment about the book. And Mrs. Trump's chief of staff told us, quote, yet another book about Mrs. Trump with false information and sources. This book belongs in the fiction genre.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks so much for being with me. Let's go to Jake Tapper in Washington. THE LEAD starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.