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Interview with Israeli Peace Activist and Parents were Killed on October 7 Magen Inon; Interview with Hands of Peace Palestinian Regional Leader Hamze Awawde; Interview with COP26 President and British Conservative MP Alok Sharma; Interview with The Roots Co-Founder and "The Upcycled Self" Author Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 14, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Horror and pain in Gaza. CNN witnesses firsthand the intense suffering at a hospital inside the enclave, and we'll have a special report.
And, amid the anger and loss, a beacon of hope. I'm joined by two new friends who've lost loved ones to this war, a Palestinian and an Israeli,
who now fight together for peace.
Then, is this the end of dirty energy? COP26 president, U.K. MP Alok Sharma, reacts to that landmark deal on fossil fuels.
Plus, "The Upcycled Self," renowned rapper Black Thought, on his new memoir, a story of tragedy and resilience.
Welcome to the program, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Tonight, what we've reported on for two months, we see through the eyes of our own correspondent for the first time, the desperate humanitarian
disaster in Gaza. Since Israel lost 1,200 citizens to Hamas slaughter on October 7th, their counteroffensive in Gaza has had a catastrophic effect
on Palestinian civilians.
More than 18,000 Gazans have been killed, according to the Hamas run Ministry of Health there. And today Israel's Defense Minister informed the
visiting U.S. National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, their war on Hamas will last "more than several months."
Sullivan's meetings with government officials, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, come as the White House pushes them to be
more precise in reducing the risk to civilians.
Scores of brave Palestinian journalists have been bringing the horrors suffered in Gaza to the world. Many of them have lost their lives doing so.
Now, CNN is the first western media outlet to gain access without Israeli military escorts. Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward witnesses
the severe crisis on a visit to a field hospital facilitated by the UAE. And of course, it is painful to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): You don't have to search for tragedy in Gaza, it finds you on every street, strewn
with trash and stagnant water, desolate and foreboding.
WARD: So, we've just crossed the border into Southern Gaza. This is the first time we've actually been able to get into Gaza since October 7th. And
we are now driving to a field hospital that has been set up by the UAE.
WARD (voiceover): Up until now, Israel and Egypt have made access for international journalists next to impossible. And you can see why.
WARD: Since October 7, the Israeli military says it has hit Gaza with more than 22,000 strikes. That, by far, surpasses anything we've seen in modern
warfare in terms of intensity and ferocity. And we really, honestly, are just getting a glimpse of it here.
WARD (voiceover): Despite Israel's heavy bombardment, there are people out on the streets. A crowd outside a bakery. Where else can they go? Nowhere
is safe in Gaza.
DR. ABDULLAH AL-NAQBI, UAE FIELD HOSPITAL: It used to be a stadium.
WARD (voiceover): Arriving at the Emirati Field Hospital, we meet Dr. Abdullah Al-Naqbi. No sooner does our tour begin when --
DR. AL-NAQBI: So, our ambulance -- that's real life.
WARD: And this is what you hear all the time now?
DR. AL-NAQBI: Yes. At least 20 times a day.
WARD: At least 20 times a day?
DR. AL-NAQBI: Maybe more sometimes. But I think we'll get used to it.
WARD (voiceover): One thing none of the doctors here have got used to is the number of children they are treating. The U.N. estimates that some two
thirds of those killed in this round of the conflict have been women and children.
Eight-year-old Janan (ph) was lucky enough to survive a strike on her family home that crushed her femur, but spared her immediate family.
WARD: She says she's not in pain, so that's good.
WARD (voiceover): Her mother, Heba (ph), was out when it happened. I went to the hospital to look for her, she says, and I came here, and I found her
here. The doctors told me what happened with her, and I made sure that she's OK. Thank God.
They bombed the house in front of us and then our home, Janan (ph) tells us. I was sitting next to my grandfather, and my grandfather held me, and
my uncle was fine. So, he is the one who took us out.
WARD: That's OK. That's OK. Don't cry.
WARD (voiceover): But Dr. Ahmed Almazrouei says it is hard not to.
DR. AHMED ALMAZROUEI, UAE FIELD HOSPITAL: I work with old people, like, adults, but the children, you know, it's something that change your heart.
WARD (voiceover): Touches your heart and tests your faith in humanity.
As we leave, Janan, Dr. Al-Naqbi comes back with the news of casualties arriving from the strike just 10 minutes earlier.
DR. AL-NAQBI: They just got us. They will send right now two amputated young male from the -- just the bombing.
WARD: From the Qassaf we just heard?
DR. AL-NAQBI: Yes.
WARD: From the bomb we just heard?
DR. AL-NAQBI: That is my understanding.
DR. AL-NAQBI: They will arrive to our (INAUDIBLE).
WARD (voiceover): A man and a 13-year-old boy are wheeled in. Both missing limbs, both in a perilous state.
What's your name? What's your name? The doctor asks. The notes provided by the paramedics are smeared with blood. The tourniquet improvised with a
bandage. Since the field hospital opened less than two weeks ago, it has been inundated with patients. 130 of their 150 beds are already full.
WARD: So, let me understand this. You are now basically the only hospital around that still has some beds?
DR. AL-NAQBI: I guess so, yes. Or maybe I'm very sure of that. Because they are telling me, one of the hospitals with a capacity of 200, they are
accommodating 1,000 right now. And the next-door hospital, I'm not very sure, they said, like, 50 to 100, maybe 400 to 500 patients.
So, at one occasion, he called me, he said, I have three patients in each bed. Please take any. I said to them, send as many as you can.
WARD: I mean, we've been here 15 minutes, and this is already what we're seeing.
DR. AL-NAQBI: And this is -- you hear it, you see it.
WARD (voiceover): In every bed, another gut punch. Less than two years old, Amir (ph) still doesn't know that his parents and siblings were killed in
the strike that disfigured him.
Yesterday, he saw a nurse that looked like his father, his aunt Nahaya (ph) tells us. He kept screaming, dad, dad, dad. Amir (ph) is still too young to
comprehend the horror all around him.
But 20-year-old Lama (ph) understands it all too well. Ten weeks ago, she was studying engineering at university, helping to plan her sister's
wedding. Today, she is recovering from the amputation of her right leg. Her family followed Israeli military orders and fled from the north to the
south. But the house where they were seeking shelter was hit in a strike.
The world isn't listening to us, she says. Nobody cares about us. We have been dying for over 60 days, dying from the bombing, and nobody did
Words of condemnation delivered in a thin rasp. But does anyone hear them? Like Grozny, Aleppo, and Mariupol, Gaza will go down as one of the great
horrors of modern warfare.
It's getting dark. Time for us to leave. A privilege the vast majority of Gazans do not have. Our brief glimpse from a window onto hell is ending as
a new chapter in this ugly conflict unfolds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the hell continues. Clarissa Ward reporting there from Southern Gaza.
Meanwhile, a concrete snapshot about what some of our guests and experts have been telling us since October 7th and the counteroffensive on Gaza.
A respected Palestinian polling agency now says support for Hamas has more than tripled in the occupied West Bank compared to three months ago. The
results say support is even up in Gaza. But by a much smaller amount.
October 7th and its aftermath have clearly caused deep divisions at home and around the world, often ugly polarizing divisions, even within
families, amongst work colleagues and fellow students, which makes my next guest mission to build bridges, not to burn them truly extraordinary.
Magen Inon's parents were both killed on October 7th, but instead of seeking revenge he's working for peace and unity, together with Hamza
Awawde, a Palestinian campaigner who's also lost family members to this endless cycle of violence. They say they must start preparing for a
different future, even before the guns fall silent.
They only just met at a recent vigil for bereaved families here in London and they join me in the studio with what turns out to be a masterclass in
finding the humanity.
Magen, Hamze, welcome to the program.
You have suffered an unspeakable tragedy October 7th, your parents were killed. Can you tell me about it?
MAGEN INON, ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVIST AND PARENTS WERE KILLED ON OCTOBER 7: Yes. So, in the morning of October 7th, we saw in the news and my family
WhatsApp started buzzing. And then, my brother and sisters were asking my parents if they're OK. We got a message from my parents saying that they're
in the safe room in their home and they can hear gunshots. They've locked the house. And that was the last message we got from them.
We later learned that the Hamas terrorists used the motorized parachutes to fly into the village where my parents live and their house was hit directly
by a shoulder rocket and it was partly made of wood and the house burned down completely with my parents in it. And we pray that they -- that it was
quick and that they did not suffer. And we have some consolation that they died together.
AMANPOUR: It's very difficult to hear, isn't it? And this is such a raw and immediate trauma. I'm fascinated because your family also, Palestinians,
have suffered trauma throughout the years. And I am fascinated how out of this you, particularly, because yours is the most raw, and you have been
able to come together.
You never met before, right, until you attended a vigil here in London. Tell me, tell me about that, Hamze. Why -- what was the vigil and why was
HAMZE AWAWDE, PALESTINIAN REGIONAL LEADER, HANDS OF PEACE: So, I was coming to the U.K. and, a mutual friend told me if I would be interested. I
honestly have lost hope long time ago because of the negligence to this conflict, because only crazy people are -- crazy leaders are saying
terrible things and they get away with it. And the International Community is playing just lip service to -- when they say two-state solution, they
don't really mean it. When they say equal measures of freedom and security, they don't really mean it.
And I was in the U.S. this summer. I was meeting with U.S. officials and also community leaders, but they didn't see the urgency. But for me, being
under the occupation, I see the urgency, and I see where the situation is going. And I lost hope, I -- losing hope is really, you know --
AMANPOUR: It's the end, where there's no hope, there's no life.
AWAWDE: Yes. And then, October 7th happened, which was beyond my expectations. People were telling me in the U.S. you are very pessimist.
But this actually was really worse than what I ever expected. And then I understood that hope is, you know, like love, it's something you -- it's an
action. It's not just a feeling.
AMANPOUR: But for people who won't understand this --
AMANPOUR: -- how do you, and maybe even you, see hope out of this, how do you see hope out of this moment?
AWAWDE: We have not -- we are creating hope. We don't see -- we are creating hope.
AMANPOUR: You're creating it together?
AWAWDE: Because it's about us. It's about us, about our future, and our children's future. We -- I personally lived all my life under very heavy
military regime where you everything was limited and --
AMANPOUR: You're talking about in the occupied West Bank.
AWAWDE: In the Palestinian -- yes, occupied West Bank. And my family have suffered all these years and we always thought the future would be better,
but it's actually getting worse. And I don't want this to my son. I don't want this to myself also. I always dream to have normal problems and have -
- but, you know, when you see leaders not doing the right thing, when you see things also going down very, very fast speed, it's our -- we have to
take the agency back.
AMANPOUR: And how do you do that, Magen, again, out of your trauma? I mean, we know that Israel is in a state of trauma right now. The people are
traumatized and I don't even know whether this kind of unity that you're talking about and seeing the other and sharing, you know, humanity, I don't
know whether it's possible for people inside Israel right now. How, out of your trauma, can you -- or build, not even rebuild, build it?
INON: I think two things here. One is that we felt as a family that we don't want anyone, any extremist to hijack our pain, and call for revenge,
which is, completely, not what my parents would have wanted.
I mean, they -- we think, you know, everyone in Israel and Palestine deserves safety and security, and equality. But the -- revenge is not the
attitude that we were seeking. It was important for my family to speak out and say, you know, we -- this is not, this is not our way.
And, the second thing is where I think me and Hamze really see eye to eye is that we have sons that are about the same age.
AMANPOUR: How old are they?
AWAWDE: Six and a half.
AMANPOUR: Six and a half.
INON: Yes. So, they're about the same age. And if we want them to have a future, we have to start working on it now so that they grow up not fearing
and not hating anyone else. And even in the -- I don't know, in the immediate future, I don't have any magic solutions, But in the long-term, I
want my kids to grow up so that they don't fear and don't hate anyone. And for that, we have to start working now.
AMANPOUR: So, I know it maybe sound a little frivolous, but your two particular kids, I think you're trying to get them to meet and play sports
together as a kickoff, so to speak.
AMANPOUR: So, is that right?
AWAWDE: You know, now I moved to Italy since the war started.
AMANPOUR: So, you left on October 7th?
AWAWDE: I left in October 8th.
AWAWDE: Because, you know, I have responsibility for my son. Maybe this time if I didn't have my child, I would be there to help people. And you
know, there are a lot of refugees from Gaza, were in hospitals in Jerusalem and were kicked out and now in Ramallah. But, you know, I have a moral
responsibility toward my son. I don't want him to be in this radical situation and unsafe situation.
We were both about to be killed on October 5th. The army stopped us in Ramallah. They were hiding in the street. They jumped. They loaded their
guns. They put it in our heads.
AMANPOUR: Our? You and your son?
AWAWDE: Me and my son. October 5th already. And if I didn't speak Hebrew and dealt with it in a very -- you know, under the stress in a very smart
way, we would have been killed. And the officer told me I was not supposed to be there, and it's my fault. I told him, like, how could I know in the
center of Ramallah that there's army hiding and I should have avoided the street? And already was thinking about, maybe if I do a favor to my son, I
take him somewhere else, but he love Palestine, he wants to stay in Palestine with his friends.
So, in Italy, you know, when your environment is normal and OK, of course you can play with him, and it's possible. But back home, Palestinian
children and Israeli children, even when they live across the street, they can't, because the situation is radical. People have -- people are nice,
people are good, on both sides. But the system is not good. Of course, you --
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that too? People are nice, people are good on both sides?
INON: Absolutely. You know, we -- when we first met.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me how you first met. You met on the stage or something at this -- or somewhere at this vigil.
INON: Maybe underneath. Yes.
INON: So, there was a vigil the Sunday before last where a group of individuals and organizations. We felt like there's a need here in London
to say -- to provide a different voice to people who we understand that many people feel the need to do something. So, we wanted to offer an option
where it's not just marching down the street with a very simplistic slogan, but rather maybe have some unity and together around common humanity, and
getting on the stage people from different backgrounds.
AMANPOUR: And bereaved people from both Israel and Palestine.
INON: Yes. And so, we met, I think, just near the stage there for the first time, and I think, connected quite well. It was very natural, and I think
we shared very similar values. And so, it was very natural for us to go on stage together and provide that message.
AMANPOUR: I mean, again, it is actually incredible that barely two months after you lost your parents, two Palestinian radicals, terrorists, Hamas,
that you were immediately able to bond. I find that extraordinary. Do you find that extraordinary?
AWAWDE: Yes. But, you know, it's also rational because there's urgency. And it's about us, you know. I have always said, I am willing to forgive anyone
everything, but at least I want to save the future. You know, I can't forgive anyone for ruining my future. I forgive the past and also the
But if we can't -- you know, we also see the same, he sees the future, you know, we didn't get any promise from any leader that the future would be
better. So, we have to, we have the urgency.
INON: And I think just to add is, it's important for me to tell my Israeli friends, listen, guys, there's people on the other side we can talk to. And
I think for Hamze, it's important to tell his Palestinian friends, listen guys.
And I don't know if there's many of us, but I think there might be a growing movement. And just to put it in numbers, if the U.S. spends $3.8
billion a year on military aid, but a fraction of that, so less than $50 million on peace building, just imagine if it was the other way around,
where would we be?
INON: And so, there's people on both sides that would like to be part of this peace movement, again, talking in the long-term. Now, everything is --
the flames are so high and tension is so high. But in the long-term, this is the only solution. But we need help. It's not going to happen by itself.
You know, we have this natural connection here that happened because we both felt the urgency but we need help from the outside to be able to bring
that to many more people.
AMANPOUR: And again, you two are both outside your respective countries and you left on October 8th.
AMANPOUR: You have been here. How do you do it from the outside? Do you feel maybe you need to go back to light this movement that you've sparked?
AWAWDE: My son, every day, tell me, I want to go back. And I speak with people even in Gaza. This morning, a friend of mine was killed. He was a
journalist. He was part of peace program that I ran in the past. That was also about journalism. We put journalists together.
I speak with people and I keep in touch and I try to listen from them, not from the media, not from the leaders because, you know, the truth is the
ordinary people in the ground. I tell them, how can I help? What messages the world has to know? And I hope, you know, I'm being helpful by being
outside and being free because if I was back home, I wouldn't be able to say what I'm saying now.
You know, there is censorship. There is -- the army would arrest someone for a Facebook status for speaking up. I get threats. I get condemnation
from both sides, you know.
So, being outside, it's -- I have this privilege, really, to speak freely. And I would -- I'm trying to be the voice of people. And we'll be -- I will
be back, hopefully soon. Hopefully, this war ends soon. And we will have to work with people.
AMANPOUR: On this program, we had one of the peace activists who you all know, Robi Damelin, who I think was at the same vigil. She also is a
bereaved Israeli parent, and she works with Palestinians parents who've lost their children as well. And she said something to us. She said, I'm
imploring your country and other countries not to import our conflict. What do you think that means? How does that resonate with you?
INON: So, I love Robi and she's an amazing woman. I think in a way, it's too late. The conflict is already imported into London and the U.S. and
Europe. And you know, my son here goes to a school in a very diverse community. People from all backgrounds, including Muslim, quite a large
Muslim community, and we love that. We have very good relationships with everyone in the school over the last few years. And since October 7th,
tensions are really high.
And so, I hope the vigil and the -- my -- Hamze is a new partner, but also other people, we can provide a different platform for people to show that
they care about what is happening in the Middle East, but we can provide solidarity and maybe service role models, here in London where it's easier,
service role models for what should happen in the Middle East as well.
And I hope we can do that. Because, again, the conflict is already here. It's in schools, it's in universities, it's in communities. And so, if
we're able to provide a different voice here, maybe that would help people in the Middle East as well.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you both? I mean, I don't know whether you want to address, you know, you are two individuals who may have a lot of
individuals and people behind you, but you're not in government, you're not in the military, you're not in NGOs or anything like that. And you've both
complained about the status of your leadership.
Clearly, this government's popularity is at rock bottom. Yes, Israelis support the war and to get rid of Hamas in Gaza, but the popularity is at
rock bottom. They want Netanyahu and his cohort out. Same on the Palestinian side. The popularity of the P.A., your nominal leaders, rock
What can you tell me about Hamas? Do you think they're -- are they benefiting from this situation? Do you think they're popular? I mean, they
can't lead to what you're talking about, can they?
AWAWDE: I think what, what's happening now is the biggest service for Hamas. Whoever is thinking killing people will weaken Hamas is really never
understood anything from history. This is not the first war with Hamas. This will have -- had several wars with Hamas, and several times we
eliminated political leaders and military leaders, and this only gets Hamas popularities, but most of the fighters are the orphans of the previous
wars. And the orphans of this war will be the soldiers of the next war.
So, if we need to eradicate Hamas, I mean, genuinely and successfully, we have to change the circumstances. We have to show people a different
vision. To tell people, yes, you will have a state, you're entitled to human rights, you're entitled to equal rights. And then, we can, you know,
come and talk about unity, about tolerance, about acceptance and all of that.
But people are threatened. People hear Israeli leaders saying in the Knesset podium that there will be another Nakba, that Palestinians will
never have a state. And then, I come and talk about peace with them, I don't sound authentic. I don't -- I have tried this over and over, and I
have tried it and told them and explained to them, I do it for you. You have to live without resentment and victimhood for yourself. But it doesn't
come naturally to people when they're threatened all the time. And the world has abandoned them.
President Biden, which I admire, when he came, I was so relieved, you know, that Trump is no longer president. And I was really hoping at least he will
do small things. He promised to open the concert in Jerusalem, he couldn't. The Palestinian office in Washington, D.C. is still closed, he did nothing.
And then, he put all his energy in normalization with Saudi Arabia, which is nice, but Palestinians are there.
Why they're invisible? Because they're quiet? Why Palestinians have to, you know, do something so crazy to be seen? And only then, you know, start
talking about -- like, what I felt in Washington, D.C. this summer, that Americans are waiting for a crisis to step in. But as long as situation is
under control, which was not under control for Palestinians, for Israeli wars, you know, settlements are expanding, settlers are going crazy, that
they will step in.
So, Hamas -- naturally, you know, we have to take the agency from Hamas by showing alternative to the people.
AMANPOUR: And you are a direct victim of Hamas' terror. Your parents have been killed. Where do you see the solution?
INON: So, you know, the billions in military aid did not keep my parents safe. That's the truth. And I think if I want, for my family in Israel and
my friends in Israel to be safe, there needs to be some kind of a political solution. So, the effort should go in that direction.
In the immediate term, I think -- and I don't want to make a moral comparison between the two sides, but there's very extreme ideas on both
sides. And I expect the International Community and people, living outside of the Middle East to realize that they should drive a wedge between the
very extreme ideas of Hamas and the Palestinian people, and also drive a wedge between the very extreme right winged ideology in Israel and the
And it's -- I know it's slightly more complicated than the slogan that people are chanting, but it's not that much complicated.
INON: And so, people should realize that the vast majority of people in Israel Palestine want to live their life at peace, and they want their kids
to play football.
It's not -- again, it's, for me, it's like we're stating the obvious that people are human beings and it -- this is not a crazy message.
AMANPOUR: Well, you two have clearly demonstrated, that recognize that you're living it, you're acting it, and you're coming to tell us and the
world about it. And it's so important to have this dialogue. And I really admire your courage and your commitment. So, Magen, thank you so much. And,
Hamze, thank you so much for coming in.
INON: Thank you.
AWAWDE: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Such brave warriors for peace. And now, the real climate work begins after a major deal struck Wednesday in Dubai, more than 200
countries must start to follow through on their promise to transition away from fossil fuels.
The U.N. Climate Summit, known as COP28, was heralded as a great success by the host country and major oil producer, the UAE. But vulnerable island
nations see major loopholes, and they worry this life-or-death situation for them isn't being tackled urgently enough.
Alok Sharma is a British MP who was the president of the COP26 summit in Glasgow two years ago, and I asked him what's been achieved since he hosted
at that time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Alok Sharma, welcome back to the program.
ALOK SHARMA, PRESIDENT, COP26 AND BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: So, in the cold light of day, at the end of this very, very tense negotiation, I would like to know your verdict. The U.N. climate chief
said, this is a climate lifeline, not the finish line. So, vital, but not all that we wanted.
SHARMA: Well, Christiane, we made significant progress at COP28. And if I just go back to COP26, it was the first time in 26 COPs we got language for
the first time on phase down of coal. Here, we went even further. We got language on the transition away from all fossil fuels. Of course, many of
us would have liked language, very clear language on phase out of fossil fuels, but I certainly think that this does spell the beginning of the end
of the fossil fuel era.
But I'll just make this one point, which is that whichever COP you talk about, these are just words on a page. And for them to have real meaning,
it now needs countries and companies to step forward and deliver with real action.
And so, the proof of the pudding will be, if in a year from now we're sitting here and discussing the progress that's been made or whether in
fact, you know, people have just disregarded international commitments that they've made.
AMANPOUR: And there is a deadline for a year to regroup to see what progress has been made ahead of the next COP, or, well, it is the next COP.
But the question I have then is, given the fact that you just mentioned the phase down of coal done in Glasgow, part of the United Kingdom, and this
very U.K. government did not deliver and actually opened a new coal mine, talked about opening new drilling in the North Sea, how much can we depend
on governments to do the right thing as you just suggested?
SHARMA: Well, look, it's vitally important that --
AMANPOUR: But you agree with me, right?
SHARMA: Well --
AMANPOUR: That this country itself back down from what you achieved at COP26?
SHARMA: Well, I was very clear at the time when the decision was made on giving permission for a new coal mine that was not a positive thing, and it
does have an impact in terms of our international reputation.
As it happens, that coal mine has not yet been opened, and we don't know whether it will ever be opened. But the message it sends, the rhetoric, is
unfortunate, and we've had some more of that more recently. And so, in the conversations that I've had with our international partners, they have been
concerned that the U.K. has somehow moved away from the high point of our international climate diplomacy at COP26.
And I know that many of our, our closest partners want us to be back at the top table, leading domestically and leading internationally.
AMANPOUR: The big leader in the world is generally considered to be the United States. It had been the most polluting country now. I believe China
is the most polluting country. Secretary of State John Kerry is President Biden's climate czar, and it appears he made some really -- he leveraged
all his incredible contacts, he spoke directly with the Saudi energy minister, with the Chinese counterpart that he has on this, because the
Saudi and OPEC countries were threatening not even to talk about this transition.
How important is it for America, not just to be at the table, but to really throw its weight behind this?
SHARMA: Well, look, I got to know John Kerry very well over the past few years. I'm a huge fan of John's. And he was incredibly helpful at COP26.
And I'm sure he would have played a critical role at COP28 as well.
But what ultimately matters is what countries do. What does the U.S. do in terms of its policies, its domestic policies? What does the U.K. do? What
does China do?
And this is the critical point for me, is until and unless countries are prepared to act, we will not see the progress that we need. And you know,
one of the things that all of us want to see is to keep alive the prospect of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. We're not there yet. We're not
there yet. We need to see much faster progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And while we await that progress, next we turn to one of America's most brilliant lyricists, Tariq Trotter, of The Roots, better
known as Black Thought. The Grammy winning artist has wowed audiences for decades with his live performance skills. Some music critics contend that
he's one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Now, Black Thought is out with a memoir examining a life that began with tragedy. Both his mother and father were murdered. The book is called "The
Upcycled Self," and he discusses it now with Hari Sreenivasan.
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HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Tariq Trotter, also known as Black Thought to most of us who have listened
to him for so many years as part of The Roots, thanks so much for joining us.
First of all, congratulations on this book. I am not surprised that you're venturing out into this sort of written word expression. What does "The
Upcycled Self" mean?
TARIQ "BLACK THOUGHT" TROTTER, CO-FOUNDER, THE ROOTS AND AUTHOR, "THE UPCYCLED SELF": I'm from Philadelphia from a specific place and time there,
where, you know, you had to sort of move through life with a layer of scar to -- of callus, right? Of scar tissue, almost as a protective sort of
thing, you know, and it serves a purpose at -- you know, one time in your life, or at least it may.
And then, as we evolve, as we, you know, mature, as we move on in life, you know, these things no longer service in the same way. So, the upcycle self,
it speaks to, you know, the wisdom it takes to recognize when to, you know, leave a thing in the past, to adapt a way or, you know, to move forward in
a different way.
SREENIVASAN: You start out this book with something I suspect anybody would want to leave in the past and it's a horrendous story of you setting your
house on fire as a little kid playing with toys, you know, being a curious kid and starting a fire with your TV. What were some of the repercussions
of that event?
TROTTER: Yes. You know, the book actually begins with the fire. It took place when I was six years old. I burned my -- you know, my family home
down. And, yes, I think, you know, the story to follow puts you in into the mind of -- you know, the story is told in the spirit of the phoenix.
So, I'm -- you know, I think I very much emerged, you know, from the flame. So, it begins with the fire, even though that wasn't my first traumatic
experience, even at that young age, it was -- you know, it was a watershed moment in that way. And it was a moment -- it was my earliest memory of a
time after which, you know, things would never be the same, you know.
But, you know, talk about just curiosity, right, of a child and the tremendous amount of grace and wisdom that it took my mother, you know, for
her to extend and not come home, you know, after having lost everything and sort of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) her main concern was that no one had been
And, you know, I wasn't mad that I wasn't punished in the way that I'd expected to be. And I think, there's beauty and there was a -- there was
great value in that. And my mother sort of recognizing that it was my curiosity and it was my, you know, imagination that led to -- you know, to
So, she was able to help me -- you know, to encourage me to lean into that curiosity and into that imagination by getting into the arts.
SREENIVASAN: So, what did that do to your mom, do you think? I mean, because she had worked so hard to -- you know, your father had been
murdered earlier, and she was raising you two, and she's built all these things. She saved up. She's kind of built something normal for the two of
you as normal as can be, and then to literally see it go up in smoke, what does that do to her psyche? What did you find out over time?
TROTTER: It really -- I mean, over time, I came to realize just the tremendous amount of strength and, you know, resilience that she had.
Because you think back, you know, when she lost my father, my father was very young. He was, you know, maybe 26. My mother was still very young.
When you -- at the time, there's no way that she could have fully recovered because I think maybe -- you know, maybe four years or so had passed if
So, yes, she was -- the whole family was still very much in the grieving process. You know, so this was sort of, you know, back-to-back loss in that
way that, yes, I mean, you know, we should have been and could have, you know, been devastating, but, it wasn't in many ways.
SREENIVASAN: So, who were the men that you looked at as role models or father figures during this impressionable time?
TROTTER: My earliest examples of manhood, you know, aside from, you know, what I saw in my grandparents, like in my -- you know, my father's father,
who I saw, you know, rarely and in my mother's stepfather who I referred to as my grandfather, they were sort of the examples.
But then there were -- you know, the gentlemen that were in my mother's life. So, the people that my mother would date, my mother's male friends, a
colorful cast of characters, you know, set many examples. Some were good examples, some were bad, you know. But yes, that was sort of what I had.
And I had, again, my older brother, who, for all intents and purposes, was away from the family because he spent -- you know, he essentially came to
adulthood in juvenile -- in the juvenile justice system and then, you know, you graduated.
SREENIVASAN: Your mom figured out somehow that your curiosity also translated into the ability for you to express yourself artistically, and
she pushed you into that. How did she do that?
TROTTER: I think the earliest indication of, you know, her sort of understanding that thing, that dynamic was, you know, just in her
encouraging me to take art classes I think in the summer.
Well, you know, even before I took visual art classes, my mother, she signed me up for choir and, you know, she'd always encouraged me to sort of
lean into music. But when she found out visual art was sort of my thing, then she was really, really just super supportive of that.
And, yes, she -- you know, at every turn she would, register me for a thing. Anything that was free, I was definitely going to do, but you know,
the -- all the other things that we -- anything we could afford or save up for she also would encourage.
SREENIVASAN: You also are very vulnerable in this book and you write about some very painful moments. In terms of your mom, you basically have kind of
a scene that you play out, and it's to try to essentially rescue her from what would be a crack house. What was that like?
TROTTER: I mean, you know, it was -- that may have been -- I mean, I think about low points of my life, you know, dark moments. You know, I don't know
that I've ever been as resigned as, you know, just sad and down, you know, bad as I was in that moment. I mean, it's something that I think I've
grappled with, over the years when you're in that moment.
You know, I went to go -- you know, I was -- we've been looking for my mom for a period of days, you know, a couple of days have gone by and I tracked
her down and she was in a drug house. And, yes, you know, I thought I was, you know, showing up like the calvary. I was there to -- you know, to save
my mom, you know, take her out of this place. And, no, it was the heart -- I had to accept the harsh reality of just, you know, the matter of fact
that she, in that moment, preferred to remain, right? She didn't want to leave.
TROTTER: So, I couldn't convince her to leave. And it was -- yes, that was -- it was just a super gut-wrenching moment for me as a young person, you
know, because I was -- I mean, you know, as I recall, I may have been -- I was 14 -- you know, 13 or 14 years old.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. Later in the book, you were -- you're not living with your mom. You're someplace else. How did you find out that your mother was
TROTTER: Yes. My mother was murdered when I was -- I think I just turned 16 -- or somewhere between 15 and 16 my mother was murdered. I moved out of
the City of Philadelphia to Michigan, to Southfield, Michigan, right outside Detroit, to stay with an uncle, with my -- one of my father's
brothers who I never met, you know, just because, the streets had gotten so crazy. My neighborhood was crazy. Lots of my friends were, you know, being
murdered or, you know, sent to prison. And it was -- you know, it was the middle of, you know, 1980s drug crack epidemic and everything that sort of
came along with it.
So, my family has sent me to Michigan for a while and, you know, it didn't work out in Michigan, but when I came back to Philly, it was -- we were --
we had agreed that I wouldn't return to my old neighborhood. So, no, I wasn't living with my mother. I was staying in an apartment that my
grandparents own. She was sort of living her life and I was living mine. I had school. I had work.
And, you know, days, sometimes weeks will go by without us, you know, seeing one another, but we would speak on the phone. And I just remember,
there was a period, during which a few days had gone by when no one in the family had heard from or seen my mother, which also, again, wasn't, you
know, out of, out of the norm, right?
And over, you know, a period of days through that process of elimination, my mother was identified as a Jane Doe who had, you know, turned up in the
morgue. So, yes. And, you know, the way I found out, I mean, it was -- I don't know, I think my whole family, you know, even by that point, had
become to just experiences that would otherwise be, you know, life shattering, traumatic experience for other people. We were just so used to
loss and grief that, yes, I don't know that they pulled any punches. I don't know that -- I think, you know, they -- my aunt, as I recall, my aunt
and my grandmother, so, you know, two -- my grandmother and her sister just confirmed with me that the body, the Jane Doe that had been, you know,
found that we suspected was my mother. Yes, that was that Cassie.
You know -- and, you know, we just started to move, move forward with the arrangements. You know, it was -- it's wild. I didn't even -- I don't
remember having shed a tear during my mother's death until I saw her body being, you know, lowered into the ground.
SREENIVASAN: At that time, you're also at a creative arts high school, the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, CAPA, right? And
we know who they are now, but who was in that high school at the time that was, I guess, your competition, your classmates, your peers that were also
performers that went on to be more successful?
TROTTER: I went to that school, which was sort of Philadelphia's version of LaGuardia in New York City, or, you know, like "Fame." It was like "Fame,"
the TV series and the film. And, yes, I was a visual arts major, but there were just very many singers and instrumentalists there who were already,
you know, forces to be reckoned with in their own right.
So, Questlove who, you know, he and I met there and started The Roots, but there was also Boys II Men, who before they even came together as Boys II
Men were parts of, you know, other male ensembles who, you know, just beautiful, you know, harmonies. And, you know, so it was -- walking through
the halls of that school made me feel the way it must have felt to, you know, like in the days of Corner Boy do up (ph), you know what I'm saying?
They would be -- yes, at any given moment, someone will break out into song, you'll turn a corner and there'd be one yay and nay, you know,
working on a harmony. So, it was that. And it was a huge confidence builder for me. You know, and I mean, to see kids that I knew, you know, doing --
like going on, you know, to onboard a network.
SREENIVASAN: So how did you and Ahmir Questlove find each other?
TROTTER: Questlove and I found each other in the principal's office, where we were -- yes, it probably wasn't the first time we -- you know, we're in
the space together, but we were like two ships of, you know, passing each other at sea in the night. usually, and it was -- in this instance, I think
I was going -- I was on my way out on a suspension, which, you know, I got suspended sometimes.
So, I was there. I'd done something and I was being suspended from school. So, I was in the office and, Quest walked in. I think he was bringing like
flowers and apples to the faculty. And he had on a jacket, a hand painted denim jacket, which was one of my side hustles at the time was I would do
hand painted denim, like, you know, jeans and jackets and I would sell them, you know, really out of my locker.
So, the jacket that he wore that day and I think maybe his necklace too that he had on was a sort of the gateway to a dynamic that will grow where,
you know, I was able to put him on to parts of the elements of the culture and, you know, hip hop music that he had been exposed to yet and vice
versa. And, you know, we became an odd couple and we remain as such.
I think, you know, maybe both of us, you know, just had a desire to -- you know, for brotherhood, to experience that brother, because even though I
had a brother, I still hadn't really experienced that dynamic in the way that, you know, other siblings had. So, it was great, yes, to have a
brother at that time.
And then, our relationship evolved into something else when it became a business relationship and it evolved into, now, what is a marriage. Yes,
TROTTER: We went from brotherhood to marriage.
SREENIVASAN: So, I wonder, you formed this group, at the time it wasn't called The Roots, right? What was it called?
TROTTER: Before we were called The Roots, we were called Square Roots.
SREENIVASAN: Square. That's right. So, Square Roots. And I wonder, the Square Roots, in the type of influences that you were mixing to make the
type of music that you wanted to make and put that in the context of what was happening at the time, because what we see of The Roots now, which is a
mix of so many different influences, is not what was kind of playing on the streets and the car stereos as you were growing up and this group was
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TROTTER: Yes. I think, you know, it was a huge challenge, because not only did we not, you know -- like, we didn't look. We didn't have the same, you
know, aesthetic as our contemporaries at the time, nor did we sound or feel -- nor did, like, our music sound or feel like theirs.
So, you know, in a mixtape, mixed radio show era, The Roots music sort of stood out like a sore thumb. And it's wild that, you know, it stood out in
its musicality, you know?
TROTTER: Because we it was live instrumentation, and it just didn't feel like -- you know, the standard at that time, because it just felt more
electronic, and, you know, we had to fight to represent those influences, right, in order to -- you know, to expand sort of the palette of the
culture, you know? And, it's something that -- you know, I mean, it's taken some time, but I think over time, we -- The Roots has, you know, been
hugely responsible for reestablishing that standard.
And, you know, now you see, you know, folks who go out to tour, to do gigs, studio sessions, you rarely see -- I mean, even within the realm of hip
hop, people who don't use live instrumentation.
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SREENIVASAN: Is there -- you have been in so many different formats. You write about the fact that you were a graffiti artist, at the time, that
could be considered vandalism, depending on who saw your work, right? You've done visual arts. You've been rhyming for decades. Here you are
writing a book. I mean, what is it about self-expression that keeps you wanting to try it in another format?
TROTTER: It's the challenge of taking on a new sort of format, working in a new medium of allowing, you know, one discipline to inform another, it
keeps me engaged. And, you know, I always meet, you know, folks, sometimes it's one person, sometimes it's 10, sometimes it's more, but, you know, if
there's one person that, you know, my work, my story has resonated with in a way that, you know, has, you know, given them any deeper insight into
themselves or into their story, then it's worth it. You what I mean?
And that is -- you know, it's a two-sided therapy, right? Like, this is my -- like, this is -- it's -- the work, the process is cathartic for me in
that way. So, yes, I just keep, you know, accepting new challenges because there's nothing that -- you know, I mean, there's so many people that I've
seen come from Philadelphia and try a thing and win. And those who have won, all those many people who I'm able to list who have won, they have won
because they didn't give up. You know what I mean?
TROTTER: So, you know, I feel like if anything, any challenge that that I take on, as long as I stick to it, I'm going to be able to see it through
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are." Author Tariq Trotter, also known as Black Thought
from the Roots, thank you so much for your time.
TROTTER: Thank you. This has been awesome. Thank you so much.
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AMANPOUR: And never give up, that is sound advice from a man who lived it. If you want more Black Thought, you can find him and The Roots on "The
Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." They are the house band.
And finally, as award season rolls around again, one unforgettable performance is sure to be a contender. Actor Gael Garcia Bernal's poignant
turn as Cassandro, the real-life Mexican wrestler who broke cultural taboos as easily as he broke chokeholds. "Cassandro" is an exotico, a wrestler who
comes from a tradition of campy drag performance.
My colleague, Bianna Golodryga, spoke with him, spoke with Bernal, and he describes the impact that performing publicly as the outrageous Cassandro
had on the personal life of the wrestler himself named Saul.
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GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, ACTOR, "CASSANDRO": Saul, the character, is used to this this duality, you know, to play these different roles depending on
where he is. And with his boyfriend and with his mother, he's always placed this secret life, you know. Yes. Very, very, loving and very supportive,
but at the same time, it's a secret. Outside can -- you know, he can't be known, you know?
And so, Cassandro is the kind of the detonator for all that. He's the one that kind of, like, says, no. No. I don't want to doesn't want to be in in
the secret anymore.
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AMANPOUR: You can catch "Cassandro" on Amazon Prime right now. And you can catch Biana's full interview with Gael Garcia Bernal on this program
That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can always
catch us online, on our website and all-over social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.