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Giving Away Power; Generations of Trauma; Interview With Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 01, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): To Lukashenko, I say, it's time for you to go. Make room for a democratically elected leader.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Shoulder to shoulder with democracy. A bipartisan trio of senators traveled to Eastern Europe to meet with the exiled
Belarusian opposition leader. The head of the delegation, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, tells me what they hope to achieve.
VIOLA FLETCHER, TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.
GOLODRYGA: One hundred years after the Tulsa massacre, what should be done to heal generations of trauma? I asked historians Scott Ellsworth and
Keisha N. Blain.
Also, Matthew Barzun, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.K. tells me about the power of giving away power.
NAV BHATIA, TORONTO RAPTORS SUPERFAN: This is something which is amazing. It's a miracle. And it is something which no fan can dream of.
GOLODRYGA: Hari Sreenivasan talks to the first superfan inducted into basketball's Hall of Fame.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
More U.S. sanctions are needed against the Belarus government. That's according to exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. This comes
after she met with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators in Vilnius, Lithuania. The delegation is in Eastern Europe to send a united message
against human rights violations by President Alexander Lukashenko, who triggered international outrage with the brazen arrest of dissident
journalists Roman Protasevich after his flight was grounded in Minsk.
Leading the trio of senators is Jeanne Shaheen. She's also a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Shaheen is joining me
now from Vilnius.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
As we mentioned, this is a bipartisan delegation. You're accompanied by Senator Rob Portman, Republican, and Senator Chris Murphy. In addition to
Lithuania, you will be traveling to Georgia and Ukraine.
What do you hope to accomplish on this trip?
SHAHEEN: Well, right now, we're in Ukraine, but, earlier today, we were in Vilnius.
And we met with the opposition leader from Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. And what we wanted to say to her loud and clear is that we
support her efforts to unite the opposition, to stand up for the people of Belarus. It's taken a lot of courage for her to do that. She's been in
danger. She had to leave her country.
And we also want to say to Lukashenko that this is not the way civilized nations behave. To kidnap a civilian airliner, so that you can take off an
opposition journalist because you don't like what he writes about you, is not the way civilized countries behave. And we need to send a very loud and
clear message that the United States is united with the Belarusian people in their efforts to get democracy, free and fair elections, and that we are
united with the European community in condemning what has happened in Belarus.
GOLODRYGA: I spoke with the Lithuanian foreign minister last week just shortly after that brazen attack of the airliner, and I asked him what he
thought the U.S. should be doing, because he expected more from the U.S., in terms of not only statements and offers of solidarity, but actual
And one thing that he suggested was a permanent U.S. troop presence in the Baltic region. Would you support that?
SHAHEEN: Well, we had a chance to meet with the foreign minister of Lithuania as well this afternoon, and we talked about security concerns,
and we appreciate what those are.
They are in a very difficult part of the world, right next to Russia. And they are seeing efforts by Russia to influence the Baltic nations on a
daily basis. That's why NATO has troops stationed in not just Lithuania, but Latvia and Estonia. And the United States supports that. We are
rotating our security forces around Europe.
That's what the European Deterrence Initiative is all about.
GOLODRYGA: I guess the question is, what more, as opposed to additional sanctions, which have been levied by both the E.U. and the United States
against Belarus? We know that they have been levied against Russia over the past few years.
And yet you don't seem to see them working as a deterrent just yet, in fact, just the opposite. We have seen Vladimir Putin meet with Lukashenko
over the weekend, further him an extended line of credit and rerouting some air traffic there, as the E.U. has shut down its flights over Belarus.
So, what more can be done in terms of bringing these brazen attacks to an end and bringing the Lukashenko regime to an end too?
SHAHEEN: Well, these sanctions are just being imposed. They -- I expect them to get stricter, and to include not just the United States, but the
And so we will see what the impact of those are. Belarus is very dependent on Russia for exports and for financing. And we will see an impact on the
country because of the sanctions from Europe and the United States.
GOLODRYGA: I'm sure you are aware that there is a significant crackdown on dissident journalists within Belarus and Russia itself.
But in Belarus in particular, we know that not only Roman Protasevich, who is now in jail, and we don't know his conditions, but there are hundreds of
dissidents within jails in Belarus right now.
Just today, one of them was in the courtroom and attempted to kill himself and hurt himself because he had been so threatened.
What more can be done for the Belarusian people as far as journalists there on the ground? What message do you and the delegation send to journalists
in the region who are risking their lives, literally?
SHAHEEN: Well, again, that's why we're here so soon after Secretary of State Blinken's, because we want to send a message to the region.
We're going to be meeting with some journalists tomorrow while we're in Ukraine to talk to them. One of the messages we heard this afternoon was
that it would be important for the United States to continue to support efforts like Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty that provide factual, real
information in Belarus and other countries in Eastern Europe.
And so my goal when I get back to the United States is to talk to the various committees in Congress to ensure that we're providing additional
support for those journalists who are being forced out of countries like Belarus and are needing to set up shop in Lithuania and Poland, which has
also been very supportive, and make sure that they have the support and that they know the United States is there to try and ensure that they can
continue to operate.
GOLODRYGA: I spoke with a journalist from Belarus yesterday, and she suggested that there should be more of a comprehensive approach to the
solution and The crisis there from the E.U. and the United States together. And I'm sure that is what you're hearing as well.
But this speaks to the bigger issue at hand, because we know we're just a few weeks away from the Putin and Biden summit in Geneva. Given this
embrace, with this public embrace that we have seen from Vladimir Putin of Lukashenko, we have since had more cyberattacks as well. The Russian
foreign minister today said the U.S. is conducting human rights violations in their pursuit of the January 6 investigation.
I mean, the list goes on and on as far as affronts that the U.S. is receiving publicly from Russia. Given all of that, do you think that a
summit is still worth it?
SHAHEEN: I think this will be a very different summit than the one we saw between former President Trump and Putin in Helsinki.
I think we will see President Biden be very clear with Vladimir Putin about what is acceptable behavior and what isn't. And I think we are working and
looking at other ways that we can try and hold Russians accountable for their actions when they behave in ways that countries that are part of the
world order that are civilized nations behave.
GOLODRYGA: But what--
SHAHEEN: -- Russia we have seen, whether their interference in our elections, or whether it's supporting Lukashenko in the downing of this
Ryanair jet, that this is -- the international community needs to be very clear that we're looking at ways to hold them accountable.
GOLODRYGA: And one of the ways that's been suggested to hold Putin accountable that may hurt the most would be going after the Nord Stream II
pipeline and imposing sanctions. That is something that the Lithuanian foreign minister said that he would be in favor of as well.
President Biden just lifted those sanctions recently. We know the German delegation is in Washington as well in support of this pipeline continuing.
Do you support lifting the sanctions or do you think that the sanctions should be reimposed?
SHAHEEN: I don't support lifting the sanctions. I said that at the time. I was disappointed in that action.
I think we need to do everything we can to keep Nord Stream II from operating and undermining not just Ukraine, but giving Russian influence in
Europe that they would have if they provide that energy.
GOLODRYGA: I want to go back to what the Russian foreign minister, Lavrov, was picking at, because he clearly knows -- and they focus on what's going
on in the United States as well -- and the fact that the United States Senate was not even able to put together a bipartisan commission to
investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol is something that's making headlines around the world and something clearly that our adversaries are
Does this weaken missions like yours and the messages that you and others are sending when you represent the United States abroad?
SHAHEEN: I don't think so.
We're here with a bipartisan delegation. We -- all of us who are here supported the commission. But the important thing is to send a message to
Russia, to Lukashenko and Belarus that we support the aspirations of the Belarusian people to have free and fair elections.
And we are standing up for that. We're going to continue to stand up for that. And we're looking at everything we can do in the Senate and in
Congress to support those efforts.
GOLODRYGA: If we could go back to that attack by Belarus, bringing down that Ryanair plane, you look at just the fact that a small, relatively poor
country was able to accomplish something like that over E.U. territory from a plane that originated in an E.U. country, traveling to another E.U.
country, there were residents from Europe on the plane and citizens of the United States as well.
And this should send messages to many people, many who are dissidents, many who are outspoken critics of regimes, that perhaps they're not safe flying
over that airspace. What can be done? And what is your message to those who may be worried now?
SHAHEEN: Well, I think there will be long-term consequences, because the fact is air travel into Belarus is going to be stopped from many E.U.
countries, from the United States. We're not going to travel over their airspace, and that's going to have a long-term economic impact on the
So, I think we need to continue to be tough about that, to ensure that air travel does not continue, until Lukashenko changes his ways.
GOLODRYGA: We also know that Russia also just detained another opposition leader as he was about to fly from St. Petersburg to Warsaw, Poland, as
So, autocrats are focusing on this and paying close attention.
Senator, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. And good luck on the rest of the trip.
SHAHEEN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, President Biden is visiting Oklahoma today to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst acts of
racial violence in American history.
It's estimated that as many as 300 black Americans were murdered when a white mob attacked the area known as Black Wall Street.
Take a listen to this testimony from Viola Fletcher, the oldest living survivor of the massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLETCHER: I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see black men seeing -- being shot, black bodies lying in
I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams.
I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot, I will not, and other survivors do not. And our
descendants do not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Joining me to discuss this anniversary are two historians.
Scott Ellsworth is a Tulsa native whose latest book is called "The Ground Breaking: An American Search and" -- "American City and Its Search for
Justice." Also with me is Keisha N. Blain, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Welcome, both of you.
Scott, let me just get your reaction to what we just heard from Viola, because 100 years later, you can still see that the trauma that she's
enduring, remembering that day and that massacre.
SCOTT ELLSWORTH, AUTHOR, "THE GROUND BREAKING: AN AMERICAN CITY AND ITS SEARCH FOR JUSTICE": You know, and that's a story that -- I have heard
stories like that for nearly 45 years.
It's important to remember just the traumatic effect that this horrific incident had on people. There were massacre survivors I interviewed in the
1990s who were still suffering from PTSD. As late as the 1970s, there was one survivor who kept a loaded rifle by his door -- quote -- "in case it
should happen again."
GOLODRYGA: This was really a showcase of the black community showing what they can do when they are given the opportunity to live together, to create
wealth, to prosper.
And the fact that so many in this country had not heard of not only the massacre, but also what came before it, this thriving community, I know you
have spent so many years trying to dig deeper into why this wasn't known, why this wasn't more public. And what have you learned?
ELLSWORTH: Well, there was a very much a concerted effort in Tulsa that lasted for nearly a half-century just to bury this story.
Official documents were stolen. Articles were cut out of bound volumes of old issues of Tulsa newspapers. As late as the 1970s, there were
researchers who had their lives threatened, their careers threatened. And for nearly 50 years, in the white community, the massacre was just
something not to be discussed, not in newspapers, not in public forums either.
The irony, though, was that -- Bianna, that -- was in the African-American community, the massacre also wasn't discussed in a public way. And I think
the way to understand that is to think about Tulsa massacre survivors like Holocaust survivors, in that they did not want to burden their children and
grandchildren with these traumatic stories.
So, they simply didn't talk about them.
GOLODRYGA: And, Keisha, I was so surprised to read about that as well.
This is a subject that I, like millions of other Americans, I would assume, did not hear nearly enough about or learn enough about as we were growing
up in public schools throughout the country. But, as I have been reading about this over the past several months, to hear that even descendants of
those who were member and victimized there and part of that community only found out about it in bits and pieces over the past several decades
suggests that there was a lot of PTSD and there was a lot of fear about perhaps this even happening again.
Can you talk about that?
KEISHA N. BLAIN, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH: Yes, absolutely.
This is a result of trauma, as Professor Ellsworth just pointed out. I think so many people feared what could happen if they spoke about it. They
feared reprisals. They feared perhaps the violence happening yet again. And these fears were -- are valid fears, because when you look at what has
happened, not only in Tulsa, but across the nation since 1921, there are so many acts of violence, so many racist acts directed at black people in this
And so the fear was warranted. People did not want to go through it again. And people are still processing the trauma to this very day.
GOLODRYGA: And, Keisha, this may sound redundant, but can you just explain why it is so important that we learn about this, we talk about this, we get
to the bottom of what happened, and learn how these families had to survive, those that did survive, in the decades to come after?
BLAIN: Well, we just heard the survivors giving testimony recently, and emphasizing the importance of reparations, financial reparations, which is
still today a topic that we continue to debate it on a national level.
You can't really talk about redress if you don't acknowledge what has actually happened. And so this is why history is so important. It's
important to uncover these stories. It's important to talk about these histories in order to make the first step forward.
And part of what I hope happens is that we don't just talk, we don't just acknowledge the anniversary -- that's all important -- but that we take
some concrete steps forward and actually listen to the survivors who are asking for reparations.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, because, Scott -- I mean, when we talk about, Scott, just the damage done, in present-day value, nearly or over $18 million worth of
damage, 10,000 people were left homeless, thousands of buildings and businesses were burned to the ground.
We are having a national discussion now again about reparations dating back to slavery. But in terms of the Oklahoma massacre itself, this was just 100
years ago. Finding descendants, finding the people who did suffer as a result of this should be much easier and more narrow of a focus.
And yet we are not in a place where there's agreement about reparations. Why not?
ELLSWORTH: Well, and you're exactly right, in the sense that this is something we can do. It's not going to be easy. There's not going to be
But I think -- and I fully support financial restitution for survivors and their descendants, because the massacre has cast a shadow over Tulsa, over
the Greenwood neighborhood that is still there today.
There's an estimate, actually, that I have seen that the amount of generational wealth that would be in black Tulsa today had the massacre not
happened is $600 million. I mean, this is generations of college tuition and on, and that.
But, right now, we're divided very much racially on this issue. And this is part of -- this is a process. I mean, this is a beginning. You have to face
the history first. But I think you also need to listen to the survivors and the very clear message that they have made for decades about the need for
GOLODRYGA: Well, we have sound from both sides of this argument that I'd like to play for you and get your reaction after.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G.T. BYNUM (R), MAYOR OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA: Getting in to trying to make cash payments to people, it divides the community on something that we
really need to be united around.
STATE REP. REGINA GOODWIN (D-OK): I disagree.
And, again, what is divisive is when we're not willing to talk about the truth, when we're not willing to talk about the harm done. What I am saying
is, even as a descendant, let's take care of the survivors right now that are in our face. And let's take care of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Keisha, what is your response to that, in particular to the mayor, who says that it would further divide the community?
BLAIN: Well, this is something that we have seen play out over and over again, the argument that, if we actually take concrete steps to redress the
harm that was done in the past, that somehow is going to cause more division.
Well, the reality is that there's already so much division. And part of what reparations will do is help with healing. Will it resolve everything?
Of course not. But it's an important step to demonstrate that truly people are sorry. It's not enough to simply say, we're so sorry what happened to
you 100 years ago. We're so sorry for all of the loss.
Reparations then say, because we're sorry, we're going to take this step, and now let's begin the process of healing. How in the world could that
GOLODRYGA: Well, President Biden is there visiting the site on the centennial today. And he and his administration are offering steps that
they say and they hope can at least be the first in healing this divide and combating the racial wealth gap.
Here are some of the steps that he's taking, really focusing on small business and homeownership in communities of color, taking action to
address racial discrimination in the housing market, and using the federal government's purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small
disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent.
They're saying that's going to translate to an additional $100 billion over five years to help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams and
Keisha, is that a good first step? Is this enough? What is your reaction to that?
BLAIN: I think it's a first step, but I would say that we really should go back to the recommendations of the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission, of which
Professor Ellsworth was an adviser, along with John Hope Franklin.
And that report, after interviewing 118 survivors, it just -- it's such a detailed, an in-depth, meaningful report that gave specific recommendations
as it relates to Tulsa and financial reparations.
And I think those recommendations need to be acknowledged, but certainly a first step, but I hope we don't stop there. I hope we do a lot more.
GOLODRYGA: And, Scott, so much is yet to be done in terms of just finding the victims in the mass graves that are reported to be still unfounded and
I know that you are working on that as well, and it's something you have dedicated a lot of time to and research to over the past few decades. How
much closer are you to getting a concrete answer as to whether or not you can find those bodies?
ELLSWORTH: Well, we're very close, in the sense that, in October, we discovered a mass grave in Oaklawn Cemetery. We believe we found 12
We believe that they are 12 of the at least 18 identified and unidentified massacre, African-American massacre victims that were buried by white
But I can tell you, Bianna, that there's another three sites, three locations in Tulsa, that, my team, we have been working at this off and on
for over 20 years. We're quite convinced that there are other massacre victims buried in unmarked graves. And it is our hope and intention to see
if we can find them.
GOLODRYGA: Every one of those victims was somebody who contributed to society, who was an American, who went to work every day to help their
community and help the country.
Many of them had served in World War I. And yet they come home and have to endure this terrible legacy and massacre that so much of the country just
tried to cover up.
Can you just explain, Scott, the significance between massacre and riots? Because riots was the term initially labeled to this event, and now it's
massacre. Explain the difference between the two.
ELLSWORTH: Well, it has to do with how words change.
In 1921, everyone in America, black newspapers, white newspapers, everyone called these events race riots. And they were some sort of a racial
incident that then leads into African-Americans being attacked in downtown areas, white mobs invading black neighborhoods intent on murder, arson,
looting, and everyone understood that term.
But then the term race riot started to change when it was applied to what we now call the racial rebellions of the 1960s. So, the word changed, and -
- but the events themselves did not.
The reality, though, is that there's no really one good term for what happened in Tulsa. It's been referred to as a disaster, an event, a race
war, a pogrom. Once, I called it an American Kristallnacht.
And we don't really have the right word, but massacre is the word we're using now.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and riot also.
I know that there was some financial impact as well attributed to this, because many didn't have insurance, or they were not able to get the
insurance money following that, just because of how this was deemed and the language attributed to it.
Keisha, the neighborhood today, it's much smaller. It encompasses just a few blocks, and it's become very gentrified. Can you talk about the effort
to not only talk about the past, but what can be done with the Greenwood area now to honor those that lived there before and perhaps start new
BLAIN: Well, this is how we ended up right back to the conversation about reparations, right? I mean, that is why history is so powerful.
We have to study history in order to understand the developments that shaped our current -- that ultimately shaped our current realities. And so,
when you look at the Greenwood district today, anyone paying attention to even just economic disparity -- you mentioned gentrification -- all of this
as a result, right, off a longer history that actually does take us back to 1921.
And so, as we try to figure out what steps to take to move forward, it begins with looking back with addressing the family's demands of
Well, Keisha and Scott, this is why we are so fortunate to have historians in this world, in this country to give us the truth and the history, good,
bad and ugly. And we will continue this conversation with you as well. Thank you so much.
Well, so much of the news we cover on this show is ultimately about power in politics and government or otherwise. It's all about who has it, who's
lost it, and what happens when it's abused.
Well, someone who knows a lot about dealing with those in power is former U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. and Sweden Matthew Barzun. He argues that, by
giving away power, that power actually grows. It's the subject of his new book, "The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let
And former Ambassador Barzun joins me now from New York.
Ambassador, thank you so much for coming on. I have to say it's a catchy title, but how does it work in reality?
MATTHEW BARZUN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED KINGDOM: Bianna, thank you for having me. Please call me Matthew.
GOLODRYGA: OK, Matthew.
How does it work in reality? It works in reality when groups of people -- and I think your previous segment, all those wonderful guests were
describing the process of healing and -- or the attempted process of healing.
So, it happens when people realize that lording power over others doesn't work, hoarding it all to yourself doesn't work, that there is an
alternative, that you can make power together as a group. And it's not about sweeping differences under the carpet, so to speak. It's about -- so
much energy lives in different, so it's about embracing and constructively dealing with differences to make something bigger than yourself.
GOLODRYGA: Well, speaking about power, some of the world's most powerful leaders will be convening in your old stomping ground in the U.K. later
this month for the G7, obviously, a lot of foreign policy news to talk about and digest and work through.
What are some of the top priorities, in your opinion?
BARZUN: Well, I think that phrase, Bianna, work through is one we don't use enough, right?
There's so much of, whether it's domestic or foreign policy, we talk about trying to win. And the minute you talk about winning, someone else -- even
if you say win-win, someone else immediately thinks about losing.
And so much of the work ahead of us, whether it's climate, whether it's the global COVID-19 pandemic, this is about working through these things
together. And I hope that's what we will see at the G7.
GOLODRYGA: What we're seen --
BARZUN: You know, it's also the kind of place --
GOLODRYGA: Go ahead. Go ahead.
BARZUN: Go ahead.
GOLODRYGA: No, no. Finish your thought.
BARZUN: Well, I was just going to say, it's -- so often brings me back to my old jobs where I think we need to fight the instinct at gatherings like
this to look for difference as if it is a bad thing. And I remember, there's a set phrase that we use as diplomats, I must have said it a
thousand times, there's no daylight between us.
You know, no daylight between the U.S. and the U.K. or among the G7 nations on topic X, Y or Z. It's always said with that tone of voice that's kind of
often wrong, never a doubt. And I think it is a ludicrous standard of agreement. It is not true, it's not helpful. And what's so scary about
GOLODRYGA: I guess this happens also in the backdrop of so much change, not only the United States in terms of leadership in politics here but also
in the E.U. with Brexit and the U.K. And I could see where people would argue with so much change, perhaps it is a bit reassuring to hear leaders
when they meet to constantly use that same phrase, no daylight between us, or in the case of the United States with the U.K., that special
relationship. What's wrong with that if it makes people feel at ease?
BARZUN: Well, I love the phrase special relationship. And if you think about two people, two soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder, a couple
dancing, you name it, there is always daylight between them. And I am focusing on this image because I think images really matter. We have -- I
brought a little prop here, we have on the U.S. dollar bill two really powerful symbols that represent two sources of American strength and
energy. Power, really.
And one is familiar to many people, it's that pyramid on the back of the dollar bill. That's consolidated power. There's no daylight in a pyramid.
But the other image we don't notice as much. If you can see that right above the eagle's head, I don't know if that's coming through. Bianna, can
you see that?
GOLODRYGA: The constellation. Yes.
BARZUN: Yes. So, that's the constellation. Right. And it's on our -- if you're American, you see it on the cover of your passport, right? And we
just sort of look through it, we don't notice it. Our national motto, E pluribus unum, out of many, one, meant if you just thought about that motto
in a vacuum, you might think, OK, out of many bricks, one pyramid, right? That's on way to think about it. But that's not what they meant. E pluribus
unum is what is written right under that constellation, from many stars one constellation.
So, that's a very different way to think about what we are as citizens within our country, states within the United States, United States within
the community of nations, and there's lots of space in between those stars, and that's a good thing.
GOLODRYGA: Just, I have to say, let the record show, as any good journalist, you know, I also brought my prop of the dollar bill because I
thought we would bring this up in this conversation. But you beat me to it.
GOLODRYGA: And yours is folded much nicer than mine. So, in terms of consolation, when you look at the United States as a whole, it's hard to
see the nation really united, state by state, not only because of politics but with COVID, now with the election. And many states, you know,
disenfranchising voters. If we can just put it out there like that.
I'm wondering as someone who represented the United States abroad, what kind of message does the country with the constellation on its dollar bill
in such disarray at times send to our allies?
BARZUN: Yes. I mean, I remember when I served over in London, I went over to 200 different, what we would call high schools here and did seminars.
100 students at a time. So, 20,000 students. And I asked them each to draw a picture or write a word of one thing that frustrated them about the
United States and what we were up to. So, I have 20,000 index cards at home with all these doodles. Half the students wrote one single word or one
single image. Guns. Followed closely by police brutality and racism. This is 2013 through 2017.
And the day -- learning I had from that was, look, we can make the distinction between foreign policy and domestic policy, but that's not how
young people in the U.K. or I would argue anywhere in the world. Our domestic policy is foreign policy. So, they're struggling with it, they're
confused, we're struggling with it here. And I think making meaning out of the struggle, as your previous segment talked about, that is the hard work
that we need to do.
GOLODRYGA: It's kind of deflating, too, when you put a time stamp on that because that could have been just been today that you walk into a school
and the issue of police brutality and racism and guns is something that comes to mind for students there because so many years later, that
continues to be a struggle that we face, and a lot of that is, you know, exclusive it seems to the United States.
You worked for President Obama and I know that as an ambassador, some advice that he gave you was really poignant and sort of spoke to your role
representing the United States, and it encompassed one word, and that was listen. It seems like an easy thing to do but not enough people do it, I
guess. What are some of the lessons that you've learned?
BARZUN: Well, I got to watch him. He came to my adopted hometown of Louisville, Kentucky back in 2006 before -- I mean, he was on the cover of
"Time" magazine. So, people thought he might be running for president but he hadn't announced yet. And we did a big three rally and then we did a
fundraiser but we had a spare hour to go before he was going to go meet Muhammad Ali for the first time.
He said, hey, Matthew, do you have any friends who are independents or Republicans who didn't want to come to a big rally? And I said, sure,
plenty. So, we gathered a small group around the table. He went around, he asked them all about his hopes and fears. This is where I got the idea to
later use with the young British students.
At the end of it, two really powerful things happened. One, a number of people who are at the meeting said, wow, he is such a great speaker. And I
realized, he hadn't really actually said much, he's just really thoughtful and he asked good open-ended questions, listened, wrote them down and then
he summed up at the end.
But the second thing, there was a woman who called who couldn't come to the meeting, and she said, how did it go? Did he light up the room? And I
remember thinking, yes, but not in the way you might be thinking, not in that sort of those people who just take up all the oxygen in the room. The
room got lit up because he sort of got everyone to switch on their own light.
And at the end of his time as president, he came to London and we had a wonderful townhall of these thousands of young leaders across the U.K. And
a young woman at the back raised her hand and said, Mr. President, what advice would you have to make positive change in the world? And he said, be
predisposed to see the power in other people.
BARZUN: And he is just one of many leaders in this book that understands that we are stars and it is much more powerful to see everyone around us as
fellow stars and how we can connect with them.
GOLODRYGA: As a constellation of one, right. Very well said. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us.
BARZUN: Well, constellation of many. Constellation of many.
GOLODRYGA: Constellation of many, right.
BARZUN: Thank you, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: All encompassed by one.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Well, now, as sports venues across the world begin to tentatively open up, we dig into the special relationship between athletes and fans. In the
United States basketball, it's something that's taking a real dark turn this week. Five NBA arena's banning some fans because of poor behavior.
We're talking about people running onto the court throwing objects, even spitting on players. Well, thankfully, we have a bit of an antidote now
with Nav Bhatia.
Last month, he became the first NBA super fan inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. Mr. Bhatia has not missed a Toronto Rappers game since 1995.
In fact, he's become such a part of the team that he got to championship ring when they won in 2019. Here is talking to Hari Sreenivasan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Biaana. Nav Bhatia, thanks for joining us.
How did a guy that's not 6 feet, even with the turban, that's not athletic, never played a single minute of pro basketball get both a championship ring
and in the Hall of Fame?
NAV BHATIA, TORONTO RAPTORS SUPERFAN: I tell you. This is something which is amazing. It's a miracle. And it is something that, you know, no fan can
dream of. As a fan, you can dream of your team winning the championship and you can join the parade and celebrate. But here, God gave me the
opportunity not just to be sitting on the courtside when we beat Golden State in Oakland. But two days later, will be the grand march of the
biggest sports parade ever in the history of any sports. 9 million people were watching, 2.5 on the streets and 7 million people on the internet and
on the TV.
And then, right after that, on October 22, 2019, getting for the first time in the history of any sports, getting championship ring which the players
BHATIA: Same thing what (INAUDIBLE) and Larry got. And then to be to beat all that of, then getting a Hall of Fame from the Hall of Fame in the NBA.
This is amazing business. This is not what you dream of.
And especially, when I was in front of the gallery and -- the Superfan Gallery and watching all those things, especially my turban, I tell you, I
had to pace myself and it was so amazing.
SREENIVASAN: When you shared with your family that you are going to be in the Hall of Fame, what was the response?
BHATIA: They were in awe. They were speechless. I mean, we are all in all right. Now, we are just -- you know, it's unbelievable. Bring the journey
which God has me put through with the championship, with championship ring and now, Hall of Fame. But I had to tell my wife, I had to break the news
that I'm not wearing the wedding ring anymore now because this Hall of Fame ring is going to take the priority over that.
SREENIVASAN: I don't think you want to say that your wide.
BHATIA: I did. I did already. The harm has been done.
SREENIVASAN: Can you show us the ring that you have?
BHATIA: This is the championship ring.
SREENIVASAN: That looks pretty good. That's the championship ring and then you have --
BHATIA: That's the championship ring and this is the ring which has replaced my wife's wedding band, Hall of Fame ring.
BHATIA: With my name on it and everything.
SREENIVASAN: Let's take a couple of steps backs. Well, you don't look like the traditional superfan with your background coming to Canada in 1984.
First of all, what drove you to leave India?
BHATIA: Well, because we Sikhs and was a -- you know, they -- everybody knows, golden temple, the holiest of our place was attacked and found
themselves -- people, pilgrimages were killed there. But, you know, after that, it was a lot of tension going on everywhere, a year -- two or three
years before that and even a little bit after that.
And, you know, there were some people who -- there was a genocide, basically, I'm going to say, in a lot of part of the -- a lot of India and
in Delhi especially, where my family is from, they were just picking on the sits, putting the burning tires on them, you know, raping the girls and all
that. It was that it was a bad, bad scenario. And, you know, I hope it never happens anywhere in the world to any particular community.
And you know, that was the saddest period in our life, because in '47 we left Pakistan. And then in '84, all this happens and then, we had to
migrate to Canada. Out of 20 (ph), my parents came, my family, all my family was here in Canada.
SREENIVASAN: So, you come out of there and you were trained or qualify. What were you working as in India and then what did you start working as in
BHATIA: Well, I'm a mechanical engineer by education. But in India, my parents had -- family had an optical business, which I was able to expand
and I was a part of -- I was going to be a part of it and expand it.
BHATIA: But all came to stand still once this enlightenment (ph) was bad and the Sikh rights and genocide happened. And at that time, as a family,
we decided to get out of there, me and my wife were the first one to come. And when I first came here, I was very happy. I was rented a basement for
$340 and I was the safest guy. I felt to be very safe. But finding a job was another lot of speed bumps. Nobody wanted to hire a guy with a turban
and beard. So, I did odd jobs. I did janitorial work. I did landscaping job.
But I tell you one thing, I was the best janitor and I was the best landscaper. Because whatever I do, I do it with passion. And we the Sikhs
believe in the dignity of labor that everything is good as long as you're working hard.
SREENIVASAN: So, you come here, trained as an engineer, but you take jobs as janitors and as a landscaper. And then, how did you get into car sales?
BHATIA: Well, let me tell you, I applied a couple of 100 places in 1984. And one day, I got a call from -- for an interview at a car dealership
called Rexdale Hyundai. And you know what? I went there. I was hired. And the day I started, I had some other speedbumps. You know there were, 9, 10
white guys standing around and as soon as I entered the showroom, they started making fun of me, they start calling me towel head, they start
calling me diaper head. All those names. And they started calling me Parky (ph).
And I said, you know, why are they calling the Parky (ph)? I could understand all the others, but why are they calling me Parky (ph) because
I'm not from Pakistan? Later I found it was not a good name.
BHATIA: But you know what? Of that day, I got the motivation that now you have to be better than good if you want to survive. And with God's grace
and hard work I sold under the 127 cars in three months, which was the record at the time and it's still be the record today.
SREENIVASAN: Soo, you sold a bunch of cars. Did that automatically lead to purchasing a car dealership or how did you get into this line of work?
BHATIA: No. Then I became a manager then when Hyundai moved to me to another dealership which was failing and failing. And as I went there, I
thought everybody knows, that was in '87, that I was the top manager in the country. I had a little chip on the shoulder, you know, it's all human.
BHATIA: But then as soon as I went there, once again, there was another speedbump. There were 9 out of 10 white sales people, decided to quit and
not to work for a general manager who had a turban and beard and I had to start it all over again with a new team, and we became number one in the
country. And now, with God's grace that I have five dealership, three Hyundai and two Genesis with 270 people working and it's amazing.
SREENIVASAN: So, you built up a network of car dealerships. It's one of the largest in Canada. What made you want to be a basketball fan?
BHATIA: Well, you know, like any other immigrant, first 10 years when you come to a new country, you spend energy. I used to work 100 hours to make
sure that I have a roof on the of my family and we had bread and butter going. So, you know what I did? I was (INAUDIBLE) table in '95 and I used
to watch basketball on television with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, Dr. J and it was an exciting game.
But you know what? As soon as they came in '95, I decided to buy two tickets for the franchise. And I said, I'm going to give it a try and if I
don't like it, I won't renew them. But lo and behold, the very first day -- remember the 3rd in 1995, I went and I fell in love. It is the fastest game
on this planet. It's the most entertaining game on this planet. And for two and a half hours, the way NBA has designed, you just forget about
everything. You are in a different zone. And 25 years later, I have never been late for a game. I have never missed a game. And I would never leave a
SREENIVASAN: Short of the COVID season, that's an impressive streak. So, what have you given up to show up at a Toronto Raptors game? I mean, what
kinds of things have you missed in your life? Because the basketball schedule is not easy to keep up with.
BHATIA: It's not easy. And you know, with the road games, and with the playoff games, it gets harder. Let me tell you one thing. I'm very loved
outside of my home. In my home, I'm not a superfan. I have missed my wife's wedding anniversaries. I have missed her birthdays. I had missed some other
events. And every relative knows that I'm not going to show up if there is a Raptors' game on that day.
And you know, my priority all around the Raptors' schedule and that's what I have done in 25 years. Even if I have a temperature, (INAUDIBLE) has
helped me out to be there. And I tell you, I have loved it, enjoyed it for the last 25 years.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I got to ask, well, what is it about the Raptors that makes you want to stay a fan? I mean, look, players have come and
gone. The administration, so to speak, of the team has changed. And frankly, the first few years, they stunk.
BHATIA: Yes, you can say that. I have seen a lot of -- a lot of times, I was sitting there when they were only 4,000 people in the arena. I was
there when they were losing by 30 points in the last quarter. So, you know -- but we -- I'm a Sikh and Sikhs are very loyal people. Once we hold
somebody, we don't let it to go.
So, I'm -- you know, I have only one team, which is the basketball I like. I only have one car. I was offered other dealerships with other franchise,
but I only have Hyundai. And then I have only one wife. I have one daughter. And I have only dealt with one bank for the last -- over 35
years, Bank of Nova Scotia. So, you know, I'm a one thing guy.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about when you are on the court, what is it that you are doing for somebody who's never watched a Raptors'
game, if I turned on the TV and I know the camera pans to you often during these games, what do I see you doing? What do I hear you doing?
BHATIA: You are going to be seeing me cheering as loud as I can. And I want to tell something here. I love all the players, basketball players.
For 48 minutes, when Raptors' uplink (ph) somebody, we might be competing, we might be in competition, but before 48-minute and after the 48 minutes,
we are all brothers. And I break bread with them even after the game and before the game.
So, everybody knows and believe, all the players, referees and the approaching coaches know that this guy love. So, everybody knows them. They
love it and respect it, but sometimes they might not when I'm throwing the towel when a guy is going the free-throw. So, they don't like it. People
like Shaq, people like the C.B., Chris Webber and Kevin Garnet and (INAUDIBLE), you know. You ask them, they will tell you that I'm very
annoying when I'm there. But all in good way and respective way.
SREENIVASAN: You know, a couple of years ago, there was an exchange on Twitter and people from opposing teams want to pick on people that they
know are superfans, right. So, this guy reached out on Twitter and said the mean things about you. I want you to tell us briefly what that is about.
BHATIA: Well, he was not a super fan. He was the guy who lives three hours away from Milwaukee Arena and has never seen a Sikh. And so, he wrote on
the tweet that this guy is fat and is wearing an underwear on his head. Now, I got to give the credit. He was 50 percent right. I am fat by all
standard, but I was not wearing an underwear.
And everybody in the social media started killing it. So, I tweeted out, guys, let's not kill him because then there is no difference between him
and us. So, leave him alone because I get so much love in Milwaukee. One fan shouldn't make a difference. And we were in the middle of the playoff.
I didn't want any side drama.
And a few days later after that, credit to him, he called me for forgiveness and I told him, I'll only forgive when I come to Milwaukee and
I'm able to take his family for a game and I have a bite to eat with him. And that's what I did. November 3rd in 2019, I took him and his very good
looking 10-year-old son to the game. And, you know, during the dinner, everybody Milwaukee fan wearing the (INAUDIBLE) Jersey game hugged me and
all of them took picture. And this kid became a friend. And I told him when we were leaving and hugging each other and they were crying, they were
So, you know, here we change perception. Now, he's a friend of mine. And I tell you, this is an amazing hall. Basketball gives us the opportunity to
bring the world together.
SREENIVASAN: You've been buying tickets, a lot of tickets every year for the Sikh new year, why?
BHATIA: Well, because I wanted to bring everybody together. I want the people -- you know about 21 years over, right after I was given the title
of superfan, I was -- by Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Famer himself. He was our president and general manager. He gave me jersey in the middle of -- in
front of all the parents. I became the face of the Raptors and I had some - - you know, tap on the shoulder again. I heard something about it.
And then one day, when I went to fix my phone, there was a white guy sitting there talking to his wife. And he said, honey, I got to go, my cab
is here. Because a lot of Sikhs drive cab in Toronto, and I'm proud of them, because we, the Sikhs, believe in dignity of labor.
But I didn't get upset with him. So, right after that, I went to the Raptors and bought 3,000 and more in order to bring everybody, all the
young kids from 10 to 15 years old together from the Gurdwaras, from the Hindu temple, mosque, churches, single mother kids, everybody together
because these kids, I don't want them to go through what I went through, all the speedbumps.
So, this is working for last 20 years. I've been doing the (INAUDIBLE) game. And now, if you go up to the Raptors Arena, Scotiabank Arena, you see
thousands of immigrants and hundreds of people with a turban. It's a different arena. And that's what I want to do. The NBA and the Raptors had
given me the opportunity to bring the world together.
Now, it's not just an entertainment for me, it's my mission to use all this which I have to bring the world together.
SREENIVASAN: You know, it's interesting that you call them speedbumps. I mean, people would call this racism and discrimination. How do you not let
systemic oppression keep your optimism at bay?
BHATIA: You know, I mean, I'm of Sikh faith. And, you know, one thing, our morning prayer, if anybody knows, it's not (INAUDIBLE), that means
happiness and wellness for everybody irrespective of religion, color, faith or gender. And that gives me -- keeps get me going. And I always believed
when somebody goes low, you go high. And that's what I've been doing and practicing for the last 40, 50 years, you know, and it has well delved (ph)
in my case.
Because, basically, I believe human being are full of love, it's just that hatred goes in them and they go to take the hatred out, educated them and
bring the love in. If they can bring the hatred, we can definitely bring the love and make this world a better place.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I want to circle back to this fact that throughout your life in Canada, the turban has been a symbol for you of your faith,
for ignorant people of your difference. And here is that turban now in the basketball Hall of Fame. I mean, what was that like seeing that?
BHATIA: You know, when I was in front, when they did the ribbon cutting and I saw the gallery for the first time, I saw my jersey and I saw my
chair where I sit in the Raptors, sit number A12 courtside and then I saw my replica of my championship ring and then I saw this turban, white turban
with my red band exactly like this, which I wore during the Golden State championship run. And I teared up. That here it is for the next generation
after generation to see this.
And I want to give kudos to not just Raptors, but also to the NBA and Hall of Fame all of been, especially Commissioner Silver and Deputy Commissioner
Mark Tatum, who were amazing people. And I'm proud of NBA. I'm proud to be a part of this league because it's always, it's always on the right side of
the goals and leader in taking lead in all the social (ph) causes.
SREENIVASAN: Nav Bhatia, thanks so much for joining us.
BHATIA: Thank you very much, sir. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to talk to you. And hopefully, when people see it, they will
become more inclusive and will bring -- will make the world a better world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Bravo, Nav. Well, that's it for now and good-bye from New York.