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Impact of Roe v. Wade Decision on African American Community; Philippines Set to Hold Presidential Election; Interview with Our Body Politic Host/Creator Farai Chideya; Interview with "Where the Children Take Us" Author Zain Asher. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 06, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Will the upcoming Philippines presidential election replace one strongman with another? A special report on what's at stake.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN, AUTHOR, "THE RISE OF DUTERTE: A POPULIST REVOLT AGAINST ELITE DEMOCRACY": This is the authoritarian nostalgia that we see it all
around the world. And now, in the Philippines, the chickens are coming home to roost.
AMANPOUR: What the return of the Marcos dynasty could mean. My conversation with Filipino writer and political analyst Richard Heydarian.
Also ahead: how the Supreme Court's draft ruling on Roe vs. Wade could hit the black community hardest. Michel Martin speaks with the award-winning
journalist Farai Chideya.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: She was desperate. She was a single mother. She was a widow. And she was just trying to get through the day and
thinking to herself, OK, I just want my kids to be able to focus on anything besides their loss.
AMANPOUR: From tragedy to triumph. In a new memoir, TV anchor Zain Asher talks about her mother's extreme recipe for her children's success.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The Philippines is bracing for an important presidential election Monday. Way ahead in the polls is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also known as Bongbong, and
his running mate, Sara Duterte.
Now, if these names sound familiar, it is because they are. Marcos is the son of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who became notorious for
corruption and human rights abuses, and his equally infamous wife, Imelda Marcos, she of the massive shoe collection, who, at 92, is still alive and
kicking her son's campaign into high gear.
Now, they were ousted by a People Power Revolution in 1986, while the vice presidential candidate is the daughter of the outgoing Philippines
strongman leader Rodrigo Duterte. His rule has been defined and condemned for its bloody war on drugs.
Many have forgotten the sins of the fathers, and they are enthusiastically embracing the Marcos-Duterte ticket.
But correspondent Ivan Watson found that there are still some unnerved by this back to the future epic.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Still dealing with the legacy of a brutal dictator after nearly half-a-century.
Bonifacio Ilagan wrote underground newspapers and poetry during martial law under Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s, when the regime
arrested and tortured him for two years.
BONIFACIO ILAGAN, TORTURE SURVIVOR: I didn't know my threshold of pain. And I kept on hoping that I'd lose consciousness, but I didn't lose
consciousness. I endured.
I was crying and pleading for mercy.
WATSON: During that crackdown, Ilagan also lost his sister, Rizalina, a fellow activist who disappeared with a group of friends, some of whom were
later found dead.
ILAGAN: They impressed upon us that they had the power of life and death over us because it was martial law.
WATSON: Ilagan now works to ensure that painful memories of his generation are not forgotten. He's also campaigned against the Marcos family returning
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., called Bongbong, is the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election.
ILAGAN: The Marcoses have succeeded in a big way in not only rewriting history, but in turning history upside down.
WATSON: Marcos has teamed up with another controversial political name, vice presidential hopeful Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the outgoing
President Rodrigo Duterte.
His legacy will be dominated by accusations he committed crimes against humanity for running a vicious drug war that left thousands dead.
Luzviminda Siapo lost her 19-year-old disabled son, Remart (ph), to the drug war in 2017.
LUZVIMINDA SIAPO, MOTHER OF DRUG WAR VICTIM (through translator): He was so caring and sweet. He was a very good son.
WATSON: Siapo said Remart was abducted and killed after being wrongly accused of selling marijuana.
SIAPO (through translator): All I could do is cry and cry for days. I could not sleep.
WATSON: Siapo places the blame squarely with President Duterte and says she would never vote for any member of his family, including his daughter.
The two powerful new allies in red chase a growing challenge from the pink wave led by the current vice president, Leni Robredo. Her huge street
rallies and strategy of house-to-house campaigning pose an electoral threat to the favorites, the noisy and passionate following of young volunteers
ignited by Robredo's pledge to tackle corruption and help the country's poor.
Despite the grassroots support for Robredo, current polls show that the Marcos-Duterte- alliance is ahead. Marcos says, if he becomes president,
fixing the economy will be his first priority.
BONGBONG MARCOS, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The failure and success of the next will be how we handle the economic situation with it
WATSON: Thirty-three-year-old shopkeeper Gerarld Cruz says he plans to vote for the junior Marcos because he thinks his economic policies will
help to lower electricity prices. He also says he won't judge him on the cruelty of his father's regime.
GERARLD CRUZ, MARCOS SUPPORTER (through translator): I have no opinion that because I didn't live in those times. We can't base everything on
WATSON: But forgetting history is what Bonifacio Ilagan fears the most.
At 70 years old, he's growing tired of campaigning against tyranny. But he won't give up the fight for what he has always believed in.
ILAGAN: Should Marcos Jr. win, I don't think it's going to be the end of our struggle. The struggle will and must resist.
AMANPOUR: Ivan Watson reporting there.
So, let's get more of what's at stake. My first guest tonight is political scientist Richard Heydarian. He chronicled the growing illiberal forces in
the Philippines in his book "The Rise of Duterte."
And when he joined me from Manila earlier this week, we discussed the power shift and its potential impact on relations with both China and the United
AMANPOUR: Richard Heydarian, welcome to the program.
HEYDARIAN: My pleasure, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, you know what? Not many people pay a huge amount of attention these days, because of all the world events, to Philippine
elections. But we know that they're consequential. This one is almost like back to the future, bringing up a Marcos son. Tell me what is pivotal about
this election and the candidates.
HEYDARIAN: I mean, first of all, this is one of the biggest democratic exercises anywhere on -- in the world, right? Everyone talks about India,
Brazil, some of the other large democracies.
But the Philippines is also one of the biggest. We have more than 60 million eligible voters, and thousands of positions across different levels
of government are up for grabs. But, in my opinion, this is the most consequential elections for the Philippines since at least 1969, the last
time when a Marcos was on the ballot and won a competitive election.
It was a dirty, violent election, but that election, 1969, actually essentially set the tone for the Marcoses to define the Philippine history
for the next half-a-century. And here we are in 2022. Another Marcos is on the ballot. And if we're to believe the surveys, he's in a very strong
position to essentially pick up not only where his dad left when they were kicked out of power in 1986, but where President Duterte, the outgoing
populist strongman president, has left.
And the Philippines is really in a very, very, I would say, delicate situation, because President Duterte has been able to undermine the
foundations of democracy. But he never had the wherewithal and discipline to push it over the edge.
Should another Marcos win, he may be in a position to do that. And, at the very least, constitutional change could be in the cards very soon.
AMANPOUR: So, Richard, explain to me then or explain to our viewers a Marcos being ahead of the in the polls in 2022 after, as you say, Ferdinand
Marcos, who was considered a dictator, who empowered martial law for most of his reign, who was considered corrupt and quite brutal.
He was kicked out by people power.
AMANPOUR: How is it possible that his son all these years later is a legitimate candidate and in the lead?
HEYDARIAN: This is possible because of nostalgia, a lot of Filipinos who are frustrated with the status quo.
I mean, Christiane, let me give you some numbers. Up to 90 percent of the Philippine Congress is dominated by political dynasties, if you count out
of the wedlock kids of some of the political dynasties; 40 richest families took home 76 percent of newly created growth in the Philippines in recent
The amount of concentration of power in economic resources is just mind- boggling. And, honestly, it has made a mockery out of our democratic aspirations and pretentious for that matter. That is why it made it very
easy for Marcos to come in and say, don't you remember during those golden era, when my father provided certainty?
So this is the authoritarian nostalgia that we see all around the world. And now, in the Philippines, the chickens are coming home to roost.
AMANPOUR: Yes, the whole idea of strongman rule.
And yet Bongbong Marcos, who -- which is the nickname of the candidate, he is running with Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte.
HEYDARIAN: Right. Right.
AMANPOUR: Again, how does that narrative, how is it even a runner in these elections, given how many people in the Philippines seem to want to kind of
discard the Duterte years of extrajudicial killings, the economy, COVID, all of that kind of stuff?
HEYDARIAN: Well, believe it or not, Christiane, Duterte is still very popular in the Philippines. He still has 60, 70 percent approval ratings.
I wrote a book on Duterte a few years back. And some of the numbers I saw were mind-boggling. So, if you look at the World Values Survey, Pew survey,
majority of Filipinos have been ambivalent about democracy. A very small plurality have been what you can call categorical committed democrats, 10,
15, 20 percent.
So Duterte has been able to tap into that zeitgeist, that yearning for a strongman who provide certainty and all. Now, obviously, Duterte has come
short on so many fronts. His war on drugs has gone off the rail. His management of the COVID-19 has been more of a mismanagement. The economic
contraction has been huge.
But this is where it gets interesting. If you ask people, oh, shouldn't that be a reason for us to go back to more liberal democratic reformist
candidates, they will say, no, maybe what we want is an even more efficient strongman, right?
Hence, what's happened here is actually -- the reason why Marcos has a lot of support is because presidential daughter Sara Duterte, kind of a
strongwoman, kind of like a Le Pen, emerging Le Pen in the Philippines, Marine Le Pen of the Philippines, she decided not to contest the
But let's not forget, the reason why Bongbong Marcos is doing very well is because presidential daughter Duterte, Sara Duterte, is behind him. So the
opposition is not just against the Marcoses, but against a tandem, the Duterte-Marcos axis. That is why it's so difficult for the opposition to
pull off a victory.
AMANPOUR: So, the opposition is basically Leni Robredo, right?
AMANPOUR: And she -- to sort of talk about dynasties and alliances, she is actually Duterte's current vice president.
Now, I know they're elected separately, but she is his current vice president. So there's a lot of interlinkage here.
AMANPOUR: She seems to be doing quite well. Do you think that she has any hope of coming anywhere close to winning? She talks about being the anti-
Duterte, the anti-Marcos, to really talk about people's cost of living, to bring in a crackdown on corruption and the like.
Well, I mean, Leni Robredo actually managed to beat Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the race in 2016, when Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ran for the vice presidency. It
was a razor-thin margin. The margins were very close, but Leni pulled that off.
But, back then, Christiane, she was also a political outsider. She came from the provinces, also, just like Duterte. She was a fresh face on the
national stage. But over the past six years, she has been a big victim of disinformation.
The Marcoses never accepted their defeat in 2016. So they have questioned her mandate. All sorts of disinformation has been targeting her. She
criticized Duterte's war on drugs, for understandable reason. So Duterte has been also attacking her.
So she has been squeezing between these two houses of the illiberalism and authoritarianism in the Philippines. So, when she's fighting right now,
she's also fighting against five years of disinformation that explains why she has struggled to really break through, even though she has huge
potential to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the grand rallies.
AMANPOUR: So you talked about disinformation. And we now know that the Philippines certainly, in ushering Duterte and in -- throughout his regime,
has been sort of a lab test case for social media disinformation, the big Facebook narratives, the conspiracy theories.
AMANPOUR: In fact, somebody, a historian says, think QAnon, but Philippines style, in other words, this current campaign.
HEYDARIAN: Right. Right.
AMANPOUR: Talk to us about the influence of not only disinformation, but the social media platforms.
I mean, Christiane, I think I and Maria Ressa, both of us have, I think, described the Philippines back in 2016 as the ground zero for a global
disinformation industry. You see, the problem is, Christiane, back in 2010, on YouTube, there were already this disinformation networks, pro-Marcos
But, for some reason, there was no effort to regulate these networks of disinformation. And they have really proliferated. And the floodgates were
let open. And now that's why we are in a cesspool, sorry to say that, off all sorts of disinformation that unfortunately has influenced the opinion
of a lot of people, especially towards democracy, liberal democracy, and Leni Robredo and the opposition in general.
And in these elections, Generation Z, the next generation, are coming in. And the worry we have is that they may be even more susceptible to
especially new platforms like TikTok, which works very differently. The algorithm is even wilder than the algorithm we have on Facebook and
And the Marcoses are doing a very good job on TikTok. They have this slick, cool messaging there. Bongbong Marcos almost looks like a K-pop star if you
go on TikTok. And that seems to be working with Gen Z, the younger generation. There are four million new voters 18 to 22. And there are tens
of millions of young voters.
And the Marcoses have been really targeting them, because they didn't get them back in 2016.
AMANPOUR: By the way, do these Gen Z voters -- does the Philippines actually teach history in terms of what the Marcos regime was like in
Christiane, actually, I come from the north. My mom is from the north, right? Based on my mom's story, I was born in like Marcos highway. So the
north is where the Marcoses come from.
Honestly, honestly, it was not until I went to the university -- and I studied in quite a progressive university -- that I got to know how bad the
situation was during the martial law years, because the basic education in the Philippines, I'm not going to say whitewashes what happens, but
definitely underemphasizes the horrors of martial law.
That is why it's very, very easy for these alternative narratives of the golden era, that we need a strongman and Marcos was our best president
ever, it resonates with a lot of youth, because our basic education system essentially has really come short.
So some of us were lucky to go to progressive Western universities. So we have a better knowledge of what happened then. But that's not the reality
on the basic education level.
AMANPOUR: And now just to sort of broaden the lens out a little bit, what would a Marcos victory mean to, let's say, China, who are looking very
closely, of course, at everything that's going on in their Pacific neighborhood, let's say the United States, which has a long history of
alliances with the Philippines?
The Philippines has been perched at the center of this scramble by superpowers in the Indo-Pacific region, right? The Philippines has very
strategically located bases that will be relevant to America's ability to deter Chinese aggression and hegemonic ambition in this part of the world.
But what we saw with President Duterte was that he actually pivoted towards China and tried to downgrade our relationship with the United States in his
earlier years. The problem was, China took the Duterte for a ride. China offered him billions of dollars of investment, offered him concessions in
the South China Sea, where the two countries have maritime disputes.
Guess what, Christiane? Nothing came. Forget about debt trap. This was pledge trap. So now, whoever becomes the next president of the Philippines,
even Bongbong Marcos, who is known to be much more partial to China than other candidates, like Leni Robredo, for instance, even he will have a hard
time selling the China policy that Duterte has been carrying.
He will have a hard time of openly flirting with China, because Duterte's flirtation with China has been largely fruitless. Then, of course,
Christiane, the other important thing is the Philippine military. The Philippine defense establishment is largely trained by America, a lot of
people, including defense minister of President Duterte, are graduates of West Point, right, or New South Wales in Australia.
Those institutional linkages with Pentagon and U.S. matters. But, Christiane, let me emphasize this. It also depends on what the Biden
administration will do. I think, largely, the White House has snubbed Duterte. I understand why. I mean, I don't -- I'm not sure how many times
Biden really bothered to even dial in the phone for Duterte.
But if they're going to also keep away from the Marcoses -- and we know the Marcoses are quite notorious in America. They have a lot of court cases
there. There are even suggestions that Marcos may have problems visiting America because of those court cases, et cetera.
But if Biden doesn't engage Marcos, he will make it easier for China to actually charm the next Filipino president. So, the Biden administration
will have to make some very difficult choices if Marcos wins. And, you see, one important defense agreement that has not been implemented under Duterte
is the enhanced defense cooperation agreement.
That agreement would allow the Americans to preposition weapons and troops in very strategically located bases close to the South China Sea, those
disputed areas. And the Biden administration needs to get that with the next Filipino president if they want to have significant deterrence in the
South China Sea against China.
So that's why the Philippines is very important. That's why what the Filipino people do, what the Philippine defense establishment does, how the
Biden administration approaches a potential Marcos presidency will determine how this competition will go, how the Philippine foreign policy
will be, the trajectory of that foreign policy in the years to come.
AMANPOUR: Richard Heydarian, thank you so much indeed, author of "The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy."
Thank you for joining us.
HEYDARIAN: Pleasure. Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And next, the ongoing aftershocks from the social and political earthquake rocking the United States this week. That is the leak of that
Supreme Court draft opinion which would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling giving women the constitutional right to choose.
Many fear this would disproportionately impact minority communities.
Farai Chideya is an award-winning journalist. And she's host of the podcast "Our Body Politic," which focuses on how women of color experience and
shape major political events.
And here she is speaking to Michel Martin about it.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Farai Chideya, thank you so much for joining us.
FARAI CHIDEYA, HOST/CREATOR, "OUR BODY POLITIC": Thanks, Michelle. Really grateful to be here.
MARTIN: So you have had a long career as a journalist. And in your latest work, you have been digging in particularly on the issue of black women in
our public and civic life.
The one statistic that's always jumped out is the fact that black women tend to be more likely to get abortions than other demographic groups are
in the United States. I mean, in 2019, like 38 percent of the abortions that were done in America were done on black women, who are only 13 percent
of the population; 33 percent were done on white women or were obtained by white women, and 21 percent by people who identify as Hispanic.
Why do you think that is?
CHIDEYA: It's money, pure and simple, and medical access.
There are many people, who when they go in for the occasional reproductive health check, whether it's related to an unwanted pregnancy or just in
general, that might be one of the few times that they see a doctor.
The lack of medical access in America is unparalleled in any other developed nation. And it really fluctuates by income. And so, if you are
someone -- black Americans have one-tenth of the wealth of white Americans in the best of times. It's gone up to -- the racial wealth gap at times is
13 times less wealth, less likely to have jobs with benefits.
You're living in a country where your health benefits are often indexed to your job. And so, simply, a lot of people don't have primary health care
providers. And by the time they realize they're pregnant, they haven't had like, a long discussion of, like, what birth control are you on? Do you
want to have kids?
And then there really are -- I'm just going to get personal here. I grew up black and Catholic. And my family has a lot of social conservatism. But I
know, within my Catholic community, there were many people who were ambivalent about birth control, but then, when they had an unwanted
pregnancy, they would go have it terminated.
And so there's a lot of, I think, internal -- in addition to the economic factors, which I think are the number one issues of health access -- the
health disparities track with economic disparities. But I think there's also sometimes an ambivalence about, what does it mean to deal with the
fact that you are of childbearing age and fertile, and you don't really want to deal with it?
A lot of people, not just black people, but a lot of people who have cognitive dissonance, end up putting their head in the sand and then having
to face tough choices later.
MARTIN: Well, to your -- and here's one of the studies from the Guttmacher Institute, which is one of the premier research institutes that studies
this issue, that 49 percent of abortion patients live below the federal poverty level, and 59 percent of abortions are obtained by women who have
So that kind of tracks with your point.
MARTIN: The other data that stands out here is that some of the states with the greatest percentage of African-American women obtaining abortions
are also the states with the most restrictive abortion policies.
And those are also the states that are the most reluctant to extend health benefits through programs like Medicaid and Medicare to the general
population. How does that all fit together?
CHIDEYA: Yes, I mean, I would refer to the incredible book "Dying of Whiteness," which talks about the ways that the expansion of the Affordable
Care Act was really restricted by institutional and structural racism, including the idea that, if white Americans are loyal to the cause of
American democracy and to how whiteness operates, and that they will themselves be willing to give up health care in order to prevent what one
person interviewed in the award-winning book called the Mexicans and the welfare queens.
So, people who are lower-income whites in some states are literally denying themselves lifesaving care out of this misguided notion that you have to
play defense against the hoards of brown people.
That then trickles down onto black and brown women, who don't have access to primary care providers, don't have a mechanism to guard their
reproductive health. And, also, I think that one thing that we see is that people who believe that they have things to do in the world in addition to
raising children, doesn't have to be opposed to raising children, will really try to guard their ability to go to college have time to develop a
And there's an intergenerational nature to the lack of access to health care that really does come out of slavery. There was no such thing as
reproductive rights, obviously, during slavery, and during the many years that followed racial terrorism.
I have met people whose relatives died in the mid-1900s from abortions on black farms, people trying to self-abort. People had no access to abortion
rights. And when people's bodies were used in chattel slavery to reproduce more farmhands and more laborers, I think a lot of people just pass down a
history of trauma around what it means to care for your body and who owns it.
Do you own it? Does some larger superstructure own it? And a lot of black women are heavily traumatized by their experiences in the medical system.
And so then you have a rupture between women who need to be seeking regular care, in which they might have more control over reproduction, other than
But if it all comes down to the 11th hour, and it's a go/no-go between being someone who might add another kid to a family that already can barely
afford to survive, women are making tough choices. And I think that, within the black community, there's also an idea of some -- and some people feel
It's like, there's this idea of voter capture. White evangelicals effectively have been captured by the Republican Party, black Americans
often captured by the democratic Party, because if you are a black person who is a social conservative, but who does not want to erode voting rights,
what are your choices?
And so a lot of people don't feel like they have a home in the medical care system. And they also feel like they don't have a real home in politics.
And all of that cognitive dissonance makes it harder to make choices sometimes.
MARTIN: Except that -- I take your point about the level of social conservatism among African-Americans, which is something that I think kind
of the white political analysis framework doesn't necessarily capture.
But if you look at some of the black women in Republican politics today, they are some of the most outspoken opponents of abortion. So how do you
understand that phenomenon?
CHIDEYA: I mean, first of all, it -- there should be room for black anti- abortion organizers. I mean, that is the promise of America, is that you don't have to be -- when we really believe in the promise of America, we
should have a wide range of political opinion.
But -- and it makes perfect sense to me. But what we can't do is use those fierce, passionate advocates for what they believe in, which is ending
access to abortion, we can't confuse that with the majority of black opinion. Black Americans are more likely to support abortion rights than
I believe it was a Gallup study that showed that it was 50 percent -- 57 percent of white Americans supported abortion rights, 67 percent of black
Americans. So it makes perfect sense that there's fierce organizers, and there is a history of -- some people call abortion black genocide, which is
really a misnomer, counterfactual, sort of half-factual.
But there certainly has been a strain of eugenics in America, where black women were forcibly sterilized. Fannie Lou Hamer, for example, was
sterilized against her will, indigenous women sterilized against their will. So there have been many abuses of the control of black women's
But whether you were forcing a black woman during slavery or after to bear a child against her will or sterilizing her against her will, it's a
question of choice and consent. That is really what we need to get down to.
Black women should feel free to advocate against abortion or for abortion rights. So I'm very much in favor of that, but we can't mistake the passion
and the urgency of black anti-abortion organizations for majority black opinion. it is not.
MARTIN: Well, one of the things that I think you have pointed out is that -- is that the social conservatism of African-Americans may extend to their
own personal choices.
MARTIN: But that does not mean that they wish to impose their personal, you know, moral choices on other -- moral and religious choices on other
people through the -- through law.
MARTIN: And that is kind of a -- sort of a nuanced position that, I think, used to be common, right? In --
MARTIN: -- going -- behavior. But seems to have shifted quite substantially among some white -- among white conservatives.
CHIDEYA: Yes, I mean that -- thanks for bringing that up because that was a big part of my reporting during the 2016 election. So, I did a series
called, "The Voters: where I looked at different demographics of voters through a mix of field reporting and data. And I really understood the
potential for candidate Trump to become President Trump while reporting on white evangelicals in South Carolina. Because the evangelical community, at
the beginning of the primary season, was very much opposed to Donald Trump. And the family I interviewed basically said that one could not be a good
Christian, not just a good voter, but a good Christian and support a man like Donald Trump. And by the end, they voted for him because it was a
tactical vote about changing the playing field of abortion. They were single issues voters.
Black conservatives, in general, are not single-issue voters. And when they are, it's not about abortion. It might be about voting rights. You might
be, you know, a black conservative or a black liberal who's a single-issue voter, like who's going to preserve voting rights. Because without voting
rights, you have no choices politically. You can't decide about abortion. You can't decide about anything.
And so, I think that when we look at the role of black Americans in the abortion landscape, black Americans simply are not the kind of single-issue
voters who would choose abortion as the litmus test for candidates.
MARTIN: According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers.
They're 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. And one of the other things about this reporting that really
emerged in the last couple of years is that you know wealth is not a protector. Education is not a protector of this. I mean -- I think that
people may remember Serena Williams nearly died in childbirth because people weren't listening to her when she told them what was going on with
her and what she needed. And I just don't -- how do you even wrap your head around that? And what does that say?
CHIDEYA: Yes, I mean, I would also -- you know, the Serena Williams example is really key. And then another one I would urge people to read,
Tressie McMillan Cottom's book, "Thick" which is a compilation of her essays. And she's a socialist who lost her daughter, late in -- you know,
very close to what should have been the end of a healthy pregnancy because she was sent home bleeding. She was literally bleeding in the doctor's
office and they sent her home. And she subsequently lost her child. And she talks about how no amount of credentialing meaning education, wealth, makes
some medical professionals believe black women.
How does this relate back to the question of abortion? Very directly. Because if abortion access ends, it is quite likely that the lifetime risk
of a black woman dying from childbirth will rise from one in a thousand, which is already -- you know, one in 1,300 which is already massive to one
in a thousand. You know, so more black women will die if they're asked to carry to term pregnancies that they would choose not to have.
And let's also be clear about choose not to have. I tried to adopt three times, as you know. We talked about it. The women who were the potential,
you know, parents who would put their children up for adoption. It was all economic. One was Latina, two were black. They were poor. They really
wanted to raise their children, which is why I ended up not being able to adopt those children. So, there is if we could, as a country, pull up on
poverty, we would have more women who did not want to get an abortion, you know. And who did not want to put their children up for adoption but who
could make choices about how to bear and raise their own children.
It is part of a cycle of economic deprivation that harms both the women who, you know, feel like they have to have an abortion when they would love
to have a child but they don't have, you know, a safety net. They don't have paid leave. They don't have sick leave. When I look at the big
picture, women are shamed for being poor and having children.
So, if you are a lower-income woman and you get pregnant, you're either going to be shamed for seeking an abortion or you're going to be shamed for
being a mother. That's a terrible thing to do. That's a terrible, terrible thing for a country to do to people.
MARTIN: Why do you think it is though that the reality of poor maternal outcomes. The reality of black women dying at such high rates is not a
bigger part of this conversation, about this issue. It's just -- and the reason I say that is that it, finally, in the last election, in the 2020
election, it did become an issue that was discussed on the campaign trail. I mean, a number -- Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand surfaced this
issue in a very, you know, powerful way. And yet, somehow it doesn't seem to be part of this current discussion around abortion rights at all.
CHIDEYA: I do think people are talking about this. But what I'll also say, as someone who's, you know, spent years as a field reporter, a lot of times
it is viewed as detrimental to keeping white voters to raise the issues facing black and Latinx or Latino people. It's seen as, you know, toxic to
-- for example, you know, some people in the Democratic Party really are trying to backpedal on racial justice as a central issue of the Democratic
Party because they fear losing white voters. And I don't think that that's completely inaccurate.
The Republican Party has managed to find a way to hold their coalition together in ways that the Democratic Party hasn't. And I think that affects
the nature of the debate over reproductive justice, over health care, et cetera.
People are afraid of, in some cases, talking about saving the lives of black and brown people. I mean, it's horrible to say, but it's viewed as
tactically unadvantageous to focus too much on it. And as long as that's the case, you're going to have a real hard time building an active
coalition to preserve the lives of black women who are of childbearing age and who are fertile, and who need reproductive care.
I also do think, very much, that -- you know, I saw this coming. I saw the end of Roe coming from a long way off. In part because of my reporting
during the 2016 cycle and beyond. And I think that many white Americans who want abortion rights for themselves and their daughters did not view it as
a possibility. That they would be denied abortion rights. They were like, oh, yes, maybe there's those poor people who live in that State where they
can't get to whatever. But me in my State, I'm cool.
And so now we see things like Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in Michigan, filing suit to preserve abortion rights if Roe ends. Because there's an old
statute on the book, and there's 18 States that have these statutes where abortion rights could immediately end in those States if Roe V. Wade is
And now, I'm going to be real, white women have a firelit under their behinds. In a way that was not true when black or brown women, for years,
had been sounding the alarm. And poor white women, for years, had been sounding the alarm. Like, we can't get any reproductive health. Like,
what's going on here? A lot of people didn't think it was their fight. They didn't think that they're -- they had skin in the game. And that's how we
ended up here, among many other things.
MARTIN: Farai Chideya, thank you so much for talking with us today.
CHIDEYA: Thanks, Michel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, my next guest says there is tragedy in her story, but her story is not a tragedy. As a child, CNN's News Anchor Zain Asher and her
family went through a trauma that almost destroyed them. And yet, she and her siblings have achieved remarkable success as adults. They're doctors,
entrepreneurs, and there's an Oscar-nominated actor in there, too.
In her new book, "Where the Children Take Us", she tells the story of how her mother struggled to survive and pushed her children to achieve, even if
her method sounds strict by today's standards. Here's our conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Zain Asher, welcome to her program.
ZAIN ASHER, AUTHOR, "WHERE THE CHILDREN TAKE US": Thank you, Christiane, for having me.
AMANPOUR: Listen, Zain, it's very rare that we interview direct colleagues. But your book is extraordinary. And I think it tells such an
important story for many of our viewers, not least, of course, your own family. And it starts with a terrible tragedy when you are very, very
young. And you opened the book with that. Your mother received a life- changing phone call one day. Tell us about what happened.
ASHER: Yes, so my mother was in the living room and it was September 1988. I was five years old. And my dad and my brother were away on a father-son
road trip. It was a long-distance road trip. And my mother was expecting a call from my dad to basically say, listen we're back. We've landed at the
airport, Heathrow-Gatwick. Come and pick us up.
And then, all of a sudden at around 6:30 in the evening, the phone finally rang. My mother rushes over, expecting it to be my dad. And she was
actually kind of annoyed at him because, you know, she'd been worried and he hadn't called her to say that the flight had been delayed, which is what
she thought at the time. She answers the phone and it's not my dad.
The voice on the other end of the line was that of an extended relative in Nigeria, that is where the road trip was taking place. And the voice
basically said to my mom, your husband and your son have been involved in a car crash. One of them is dead and we don't know which one. And that
moment, pretty much almost destroyed my mother. She was broken, she had no idea -- she went to Nigeria, literally not knowing if she was going to be
burying her husband or her son.
AMANPOUR: You obviously were very small, she left you in the care, I guess, of relatives in the UK, where your family had moved to and she went
ASHER: Yes. So, on the flight my mother kept on holding onto this idea that may be since the person -- remember this is 1980s Nigeria, there's no
cellphones, there's very little -- there's very little communication for her. And so, she was holding onto this idea that may be since the person
who had called her was so confused, maybe -- of course, there was a car accident, but perhaps both of them had survived. She was really holding on
to that hope. Because, obviously, in the six hours where you're flying from London to Lagos, you don't -- it's just too long by yourself with your own
thoughts to imagine the worst possibility.
Somebody was supposed to meet her at the hospital. They didn't. She arrived there before them. And, you know, she learned that it was my brother who
had survived the accident. And even though, you know, there is kind of a silver lining to that because of course she could've lost her son as well.
Just the fact that all of a sudden, she was now having to bury my dad, was just -- I mean, it was an emotional earthquake for her.
AMANPOUR: Of course. And what's so revealing about your book -- and first, let's just say your brother is, you know, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who the world
knows as a major movie star and somebody really famous. And we're going to get back to that in a moment. Because again that goes back to what your
mother did with you all after this tragedy. But your parents had a love match, didn't they?
ASHER: Yes, absolutely. My mother described it as love at first sight. You know, she was 14 years old when she met my dad. He was 16. He was working
in a local restaurant in the village where they're from. And she popped by, popped into this restaurant with her cousin who knew my dad. And from that
moment onwards, they were basically as inseparable as they could be. I mean, obviously, after some time, my mother had to go back to school in the
Northern part of the country. My dad went to a different school.
And then, you know, the Biafra war happened. And so, they were separated for a period of time. And during that war, as you know, Christiane, I mean,
it was pretty much one of the most brutal and deadliest civil wars in African history. People were eating snakes to survive. They were eating
termites to survive. My parents were, you know, people were scattered across the country to sort of looking for food and trying to survive any
way they could.
And my dad really tried his hardest, during that war, going from town to town to try and track down my mother. And he eventually finds her towards
the end of the war and they sort of reunited after not seeing each other for two and a half years. Remember that my dad is pretty much the only guy
that my mother has even held hands with. The only man that my mother has kissed. You know, they had a bond and it was immediate as soon as they,
sort of, laid eyes on each other. And then they set off to England for a life together.
AMANPOUR: It is a beautiful story. Obviously, the tragedy has completely refocused your mother's life. And then she gave everything to you all. You,
her children. I want you to read a little bit from your book which goes to the heart of how she determined that you were going to be successful and
educated, and have all the opportunities possible. To the extent that she wanted you to go to Oxford University. Read a little bit from your book.
ASHER: Yes, this definitely sums up my mother. It was after 10:00 p.m. when my mother entered my room with a stern look. I have a solution about
getting you into Oxford University, she said. It's simple. It won't cost a penny. And I'm almost certain it will work. She wasn't going to stop me
from seeing my friends or lay down some draconian curfew. There was one obvious distraction that loomed above all others and represented a clear
and present danger to my meandering teenage attention span. TV.
She told me that from that moment on, just under two years before I would even start university, I was barred from watching any television,
whatsoever until I had an actual Oxford acceptance letter in hand. I thought she was joking at first. Whoever had heard of such a thing? No
But I realized she meant business. When she walked over to the beat-up 13- inch television balancing on my nightstand, that will have to go, she said. And I do not want to see you anywhere near the TV in the living room. I sat
in shock as I watched her scoop up the small set and leave the room. There was no more discussion.
AMANPOUR: But even -- she went even further, right? You couldn't spend time on the telephone. I know there weren't mobile phones at that point but
she didn't want you talking to your friends and wasting your time either.
ASHER: Yes. She essentially eliminated all distractions in my house. She got rid of the possibility of me watching television. And when I migrated
to using the phone in my spare time, she got a residential payphone in the house as well. So, she put in this, sort of, small landline that had a slot
for coins on one side. And if I wanted to use the phone, I would have to pay for it, put in 20P myself.
And so of course, my phone calls with friends became extremely short. That's if I made phone calls altogether. And so, I literally, sort of, from
the age of about six to six and a half onwards, I literally had nothing else to do but study. Once there was no television or, basically, phones, I
began to become a straight-A student very, very quickly. And in a lot of my, sort of, practice tests, I was getting every answer correct.
So much so that one of my teachers -- my French teacher actually tracked down my mother one day in the carpark and asked her about my sudden surge
and grades. And my mother explained that it was simply about eliminating distractions. My teacher actually asked my mother for advice about what to
do with her own children.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, you want to do well. And the proof is in the pudding because you are here now on CNN and writing a book, and your whole family
has been unbelievably successful, thanks to your mother and your own innate talent. But when you were growing up, did you think that was extreme? I
mean, was there any rebellion?
ASHER: Yes, I mean, for me, I did rebel a little bit. When I was, sort of, 14, 15. But rebelling for me went as far as staying out late, talking to
boys, you know, going out and trying to creep back into the house without my mother knowing. But my mother's answer to it was actually quite
When I was 13 years old, she began to sort of start taking me to Oxford University. At a time when I really had no idea what Oxford University
actually was. So, when I was 13, every sort of six months or so, she would take me to Oxford just to see this institution. Just to sort of see and
smell and breathe in the air and really feel and imagined myself going there. She wanted to expose me to it.
And so, when I got older, yes, those trips to Oxford became one of our rituals. One of our routines. But there came a point where she wouldn't
punish me for rebelling. Instead, she would take me back to visit Oxford. To show me something better to aspire to. And that also had an impact as
I am also a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Christiane. And, you know, when you are in Nigeria, when you're living in Nigeria, the idea of
rebelling against your parents is kind of unheard of. I mean, that's the household that I was raised in. And also, I lived in Nigeria for two years.
And so, that kind of respect toward my parents was inculcated at a young age.
AMANPOUR: I want to talk to you about the, you know, about the racism aspect and what it was like as a Nigerian immigrant to be at school here in
the UK. When I talked once to your brother, you know, and interviewed him over his film with his directorial debut, this is what he told me about
being a young black boy in a school here in London.
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, OSCAR-NOMINATED ACTOR: As I was growing up, I had very deep concerns about the ideas of very deeply kind of structured, systemic
racial bias. That was something that I understood from a very young age. That certain things were not going to be as easily accessible or available
AMANPOUR: We know the story so much now, particularly since, obviously, Black Lives Matter. But as you were growing up, was that a discussion
around the table on top of everything else that you are aspiring to? Was the danger of racism something that you had to confront as a kid?
ASHER: Yes, and in my particular case, and Chiwetel's as well. I mean, it was really about, especially, you know, as a teenager for Chiwetel and I as
I entered my teenage years as well. It was really about how we were treated in schools as one of -- the sort of, few black kids in our classes at the
time. You know, one of the reasons why my dad decided on a father-son road trip with Chiwetel in Nigeria was because he was sort of being bullied in
school as one of the young, sort of, only Nigerian or African kids in his class.
We experience quite difficult moments in school. I remember there was one time when I was about nine years old or so, every Wednesday our school had
swimming lessons. And every single time I entered the swimming pool, the other girls would scream and cry. Because they thought that if I entered
the pool then the water was going to turn brown. And that is something that stuck with me for such a long time, you know.
One of the -- sort of, remedies that my mother had for, you know, the sort of inferiority complex, to be honest, that comes with those kinds of
-- was that she would look for articles in say "The Guardian", "The Times", "The Telegraph" of black success stories. She would cut it out and
she would plaster these images and these articles to our walls. So, when we came home from school from an environment where we didn't feel respected
and we didn't feel like we belonged. We would come home and we would be bombarded with image after image after image of black success or black
people who were doing extraordinary things.
AMANPOUR: As I think Oprah Winfrey or many others, even Billie Jean King say if you can see it, you can be it. So, your mother intuited that so long
ago. It is remarkable. And I want to ask you as well because as we said, it was Chiwetel who was so grievously injured. Your mother had to leave. Come
back to the UK to be with you. He had to heal in Nigeria before he could come back and join you all. And he went on, obviously, to wonderful things
as well as you did. I just want to play a little bit of your emotion when he was nominated for the Oscar for "12 Years A Slave".
ASHER: You know, he just -- he's worked so hard for this. And growing up with him, he was always in his bedroom. You know, practicing Shakespeare
lines, you know, writing Shakespeare on the wall. I would go to -- I would go out with my friends and I would come home. And in the morning, he'd be
reciting "Measure for Measure". And then in the evening, it would be Othello. And just somebody who was really dedicated. And actor's actor.
AMANPOUR: Are you OK?
ASHER: This gets me emotional -- yes. It just gets me emotional every time, so.
AMANPOUR: And for your mother's role, I guess, as well because I wonder what she thought when she knew her son wanted to be an actor. With -- you
know, she wanted you to go to Oxford and I guess be an academic, or a CEO, or a president. Was acting in her playbook as well? How did she support
ASHER: No, initially, absolutely not. She didn't really take the idea of him becoming an actor seriously at all until one day when my mother was
dropping off my brother to school and one of the teachers knocked on my mother's, sort of, car door and said to her, listen, I need to talk to you.
I need to talk to you about your son. You might not know this but your son is a brilliantly talented actor. And, you know, he's been doing these
performances, these plays for us. And he's literally the only child who acts in these plays, who doesn't really seem to have a family member in the
audience. And our recommendation is that you should really see him perform.
My mother initially dismissed it. You know, she did not really take it seriously, the idea that her son would want to be an actor. This teacher
kept on pressing and said, you really need to come and watch him perform. And so, she went shortly after that and watched my brother in "Measure for
Measure", that was the very first school play that he ever did. And mother's in the audience, she doesn't really know much about Shakespeare.
But at the very, very end of that performance, she looked around her at this, basically, an all-white auditorium in London, and watched everybody,
sort of, get up, giving him a standing ovation, and erupting in applause.
And that moment really meant something for her as an immigrant to this country, whereby she never felt as though she belonged. She never felt as
though she was seen or heard. To see her son getting this kind of acclaim, and in her view for nothing more than acting in a play, was the beginning
of her -- beginning -- you know, sort of understanding that there was something special going on here.
AMANPOUR: Well, she's achieved a huge amount through all of you. And I just wonder -- and you've achieved a huge amount because of her, whether
she's read the book, obviously she has, what she feels about it, this tribute to her?
ASHER: So, initially, when I was interviewing her for the book. She had to limit our conversations each day, especially around the first chapter which
is about my father passing away. She couldn't talk for more than 10, 15 minutes because it was so painful.
And my mother never dealt with any of that grief. You know, she never went to therapy. She never saw a grief counselor about it. And so, the emotions
are still buried within her. However, looking at the other chapters where I, sort of, talk about all these, sort of, remarkable things that she did
to raise us, it's really powerful for her. Because it is the first time that she's actually been able to look at her experience from a bird's-eye
view perspective and understand and synthesize and distill those experiences.
She's really now beginning to understand the kind of monumental impact it had on our lives. At the time, she was very much in survival mode. She was
desperate. She was a single mother. She was a widow. And she was just trying to get through the day and thinking to herself, OK. I just want my
kids to be able to focus on anything besides their loss. Besides their pain. Besides their grief. And this is my way of doing it by getting them
to focus on academics.
And now she can understand that how each of these small decisions completely changed all of our lives. So, she is very proud of, you know,
what we've achieved as a family, so.
AMANPOUR: And so, she should be. Unbelievable. Really a great story. Zain Asher, thank you so much.
ASHER: Thank you, Christiane. Appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is an incredible story. And "Where the Children Take Us" is in bookstores right now. That's it for us. Remember you can always catch us
online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thank you for watching. And goodbye from London.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Five is your lucky number. That's how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day to help live
your longest life. A study released by the American Heart Association says about two servings of fruit, and three servings of vegetables each day is
associated with a lower risk of mortality.
For your vegetable, leafy greens are rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene, those include spinach, lettuce, and kale. Be aware though, starchy
vegetables like peas, corn, and potatoes didn't seem to lower the risk of early death.