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Same-Sex Marriage: A 'Fundamental' Right?; 'Electronic Dog's Nose'; Too Cold for Tourists and Fruit
Aired January 11, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: You're seeing it right there. You're seeing right there, where the kids learn how to be suicide bombers.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And you also, from that lengthy (ph) piece, you got a sense of how the terrain is, how big, how vast it is, and how hard it is to fight a war up there.
PHILLIPS: Michael Holmes, appreciate it.
HOLMES: Great to see you.
And, of course, if you want to see more from Michael and "BackStory" team, check out CNN.com/backstory. He's going to be with us now Monday through Friday.
PHILLIPS: All right. We're pushing forward this hour. The furor and the fallout. Some old comments come back to haunt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. We're going to hold a roundtable on race, politics and more. You will have a front seat.
Plus, why did more of our troops die by their own hands last year than died in battle? The VA and Defense Department want answers and a solution.
And if you think the arctic blast is uncomfortable right now, wait until you really start paying for what's left for Florida's deep freeze.
We begin now with, we all know about Roe versus Wade, we all know of Brown versus Board of Education. And some day a trial that's just getting started in San Francisco might be just as familiar.
It's the first federal test of the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage. At stake, Proposition 8, passed by California voters after the state's highest court had ruled same-sex marriage legal.
This much we already know -- there won't be any video feeds from the San Francisco courtroom, at least for now. The trial judge was OK with it, but the U.S. Supreme Court disapproves.
Now, here's another twist. The lawyers who are now teaming up to challenge Prop 8 are best known for a court case that settled an election, and there was no teamwork back then. Remember hanging chads?
Here's CNN's Dan Simon.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a staunch conservative who backs same-sex marriage, yet Ted Olson says there's nothing inconsistent about that.
TED OLSON, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: This gives us an opportunity. They call it a teaching moment these days.
SIMON: Ted Olson's teaching moment will take place on the 17th floor of the federal courthouse in San Francisco. It's where the former solicitor general will argue to a judge that Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, violates the U.S. Constitution.
California voters narrowly approved the ban in November, 2008. Though the California Supreme Court upheld the vote, it said those who had already gotten married, 18,000 couples, could remain so in the eyes of the state, little consolation to backers of gay rights.
SIMON (on camera): Why do you feel so many of your fellow conservatives are still on the other side of this issue?
OLSON: Because I haven't had a chance to talk to them all yet.
SIMON (voice-over): He jokes, but Olson has made it a goal to try to convince more conservatives.
OLSON: The first thing to think about is the right to marry is a fundamental right in the United States. It's a right that's protected by the constitution. The Supreme Court has held over and over again that it may be one of our most fundamental rights, to unite with the person that you love, to form a partnership.
ANDREW PUGNO, "PROTECT MARRIAGE": I think it's bewildering for conservatives to see Ted Olson do this, but that's a decision he's made.
SIMON: Andrew Pugno is the lawyer for an organization called "Protect Marriage," the group that came up with Prop 8.
PUGNO: And 7 million Californians voted to preserve or restore what marriage has meant since the beginning of time. And if they're not permitted to do something as basic as that, then there's something really wrong with our system.
SIMON: The fiery case has attracted even more attention because of Ted Olson's co-counsel, his onetime adversary David Boies. Does the case Bush versus Gore ring a bell? Olson represented Bush, Boies represented Gore.
For those against Prop 8, the partnership represents something of a dream team. The two appeared together last year on "LARRY KING LIVE."
DAVID BOIES, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: We both believe and both recognize that this is a critical civil rights issue.
SIMON: Olson, now in private practice in Washington, represents CNN's parent company Turner Broadcasting in an ongoing legal matter.
Whatever the judge decides in San Francisco, both sides believe this is just one of a few stops before the case ultimately reaches the Supreme Court.
PHILLIPS: Dan's in the San Francisco courtroom for opening statements. He'll report back as soon as he can.
It used to be talked about in whispers, if at all, a painful secret for the Pentagon and untold numbers of military families, suicide in uniform. Last year, more U.S. service members took their own lives than were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Today, signs of hope. Post-Traumatic Stress is out in the open, help is available, and commanders want every GI to know where to find it.
This week in Washington, the Pentagon and VA holding a suicide prevention conference where the secretary of Veterans Affairs spoke this morning. Referring to the Afghan and Iraqi war campaigns, Eric Shinseki says the losses are grim, especially among vets. But the tide, he says, may be turning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SHINSEKI, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: We can take heart at some of the early emerging trends and encouraging indicators. We know, for example, that since the start OEF, suicide rates have decreased in veterans who come to us for health care.
Despite the fact that I say five veterans we lose a month who are under our program, there are many, many more veterans who are coming to us for treatment. And our suicide rates for veterans -- OEF, OIF veterans who are under, our care -- those rates have come down. That's a good sign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, last hour I had a remarkable conversation with a U.S. Army medic named Meg Krause. Combat stress had ruined, even threatened her life, until she made the choice to reclaim it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFF SGT. MEG KRAUSE, U.S. ARMY: You know, I had a lot of people talking to me and suggesting that I get help, and suggesting that I see people. But it wasn't until I ended up face down in a pigpen in the middle of Pennsylvania, not really sure what I was going to do next with my life, that I realized maybe I need to go into the VA and be seen and get the help that I needed. So, that was the night that I finally called for help and had friends take me to the hospital, and I said, "I need to talk to somebody."
PHILLIPS: Well, Krause's now part of the Real Warriors Program. And we've put a link to it on our blog. That's at CNN.com/kyra.
What's more important to you, security airports and in the air, or your privacy? It's the revealing battle behind full-body scanners.
PHILLIPS: Well, a father's worst nightmare, learning his son is accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day. It happened to this dad, Nigerian banker Alhaji Abdulmutallab.
Now he's now been invited to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They're still waiting for a response. And you'll recall dad warned U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria about his son's extremist views weeks before that failed attack. His son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has pleaded not guilty.
Is the TSA covering up info you need about full-body scanners at airports? Well, the agency says the scanners are unable to store or send their revealing images, but we've gotten documents from the Electronic Privacy Information Center that actually says otherwise.
They claim that the TSA wants its body scanners to be able to store and send images when it "test modes." Well, the privacy group says that leaves the door open for abuse by the TSA and hackers. The TSA stands by its claim that the scanners have no storage capability.
This controversy is over body scanners that are in place now, but what's being tested for possible future use, wow. Talk about a brave new world.
CNN's Brian Todd takes us there.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Obama said this...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.
TODD: ... this is what he meant. You're looking at what one homeland security official calls an electronic dog's nose. It's a trace sensor device, one of the technologies being developed by the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security to protect passengers from terrorists. The trace sensor can sniff explosive traces on a person's hands, possibly near a body cavity. It can smell minute odors, even from sealed containers. SUSAN HALLOWELL, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY LABORATORY: There is enough vapor coming from around that sealed bottle to use detection devices to find it.
TODD: Another device called a MagViz is just for luggage. It's a low-strength MRI machine that can tell which liquids might be explosives. Harmless liquids get green dots. A potential liquid explosive gets a red one.
A homeland security official says they are also looking at thermal imaging technology that can distinguish between the temperatures of skin and foreign objects. As we reported last spring, the Pentagon's developing this to interrogate prisoners for signs of stress, highlighted in the red areas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Brian, tell me how you like working for your boss.
TODD (on camera): I love it. It's the most fulfilling professional experience I've ever had.
Uh-oh. It looks like I'm spiking.
(voice-over): There is some skepticism. Homeland security expert Randy Larsen says he's all for research and development, but...
(on camera): What are the big drawbacks of some of these things in development right now, some of these technologies?
COL. RANDY LARSEN (RET.), INST. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, some things work really well in the laboratory in a very controlled environment when two or three people are going through a system in an hour. At an airport, where we've got a million people going through, we have 2,000 screening lanes just in U.S. airports. Actually, about 2,200 screening lanes. So we have to buy a lot of them and they're very expensive.
TODD (voice-over): In response to that, one homeland security official says cost is a huge component they're factoring in. He says the MagViz machine, for instance, is not too far away from being deployable, but he says MRI technology is expensive. You can't place that in every airport right now, and they're figuring out ways to do that.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
PHILLIPS: So how much is that OJ? You might be asking that on your next trip to the store. Florida's deep freeze could heat up your grocery tab.
Nature might have tapped (ph) out millions of years ago. It wasn't until this day in 1908, though, that the Grand Canyon went monumental. President Teddy Roosevelt declared it a national monument and helped make possible one of the most memorable "Brady Bunch" episodes.
PHILLIPS: Oh, the cost of cold, much more than sniffles and higher heating bills. Subfreezing temps in Florida's citrus groves could mean big losses for farmers and a higher price for your OJ.
Martin Savidge is in Fort Lauderdale.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the sun is out in south Florida, and the sky is blue. But unfortunately, the temperature is still very, very cold, which explains why I'm dressed the way I am and why the beach is absolutely deserted.
Bad news, of course, for tourism, has been this cold spell. And it's also extremely bad news for the farmer and growers. The citrus industry has been especially hard hit.
They say that the damage has been substantial. It is not a complete calamity, but there are certainly heavy areas, especially to the north of the growing area, for citrus fruits that have suffered severely.
One of the farmers we were talking to has said that he has lost at least $500,000 worth of his crop. And last night was another bitterly cold night and, in fact, they expect more freezing possible this night. So it's still a very difficult time for the orange groves, and it's not just the citrus, though.
Farming is done in many different levels in this state. Strawberries -- Florida's the second largest producer of strawberries for the United States, and their (INAUDIBLE) profit has been hard it. It is going to be weeks before they can actually ascertain how bad the impact will be for consumers.
Meanwhile, as you can see by the background here, it's already impacting tourism. And, of course, one week does not make a season, but there are a lot of tourists who are going home with not so warm memories of their Florida vacation of the past week.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Fort Lauderdale.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's cold here, it's cold there, it's cold everywhere -- the U.K., Russia, Japan. Everybody seems to be shivering.
Let's take a quick roundtrip look with our correspondents.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as much as the rest of Europe shivers in this freezing weather, I think it's fair to say Russians have a unique attitude towards the cold. Rather than let it shut their country down, they actively embrace these frigid temperatures.
(voice-over): It's true, Russia seems to handle the cold weather much better than elsewhere. It's fleet of snowplows and army of shoveling workers not cost efficient in more temperate countries. These roads, at least in the capital are kept snow-free, allowing people here to enjoy the coldest winter in some time.
MORGAN NEILL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Morgan Neill in Chawton, England, and we're taking a look at how some of the small communities in the U.K. are dealing with these unusually severe weather conditions. And let me just show you one of the biggest problems authorities are warning about right now.
We have seen temperatures rise by a few degrees today, and that's led to a lot of this sort of mush you can see. It would seem like good news, but what authorities say it raises a new risk, that of black ice making treacherous roads even worse.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kyung Lah in Tokyo, where it is cold, but certainly not frigid like in other parts of the world. And not so cold that you can't afford to put on your dressiest kimono.
Today is the coming of age day where young people celebrate turning 20, the official age of adulthood here. You can see some of these ladies have thrown on some fur scarves to stay warm.
Tokyo is known for mild winters, about eight degrees Centigrade, 46 degrees Fahrenheit today. So, cool, but not so cold that you can't enjoy this colorful holiday.
PHILLIPS: Now, sometimes it's easier to talk about budget cuts on a mass scale, but it's a different when you start putting faces on the numbers.
Our Kate Bolduan has more from Maryland.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old Carson Brewster (ph) has a rare chromosomal disorder. Her mother Michelle left a contracting job four years ago to care for Carson (ph) full time.
MICHELLE BREWSTER, MOTHER: She can't care for herself. You know, we've got to change her clothes. She gets fed through a tube. She's got over 22 doctors.
BOLDUAN (on camera): Twenty-two doctors?
BOLDUAN (voice-over): With $13,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses last year alone, Brewster says supplemental funds from the state of Maryland have been essential to her family's financial survival for years. But the economy has struck even this vulnerable segment of the population.
Faced with a $700 million budget shortfall, Maryland cut nearly $30 million from the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration.
For the Brewsters, that means painful decisions. The extra help for things like diapers, medication and physical therapy dropped from $2,500 to just $300.
(on camera): What does that really mean for you, guys?
BREWSTER: A struggle to figure out how we're going to help her -- you know, how to help our daughter and make sure that we have the monies to make sure our other children get, too. Mom and dad, me and my husband, we can wait. Our kids can't. And that's what it's all about.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Outraged by the state's action, advocates for the developmentally disabled launched a statewide campaign, holding town halls to fight the budget cut.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think people realize how this can totally devastate your family.
BOLDUAN: State officials say they understand, especially in this sluggish economy, every cut hurts somebody, but they defend the governor's budget decision.
CATHERINE RAGGIO, SECRETARY, MARYLAND DEPT. OF DISABILITIES: He was able to protect services for people with disabilities throughout most of the budget-cutting rounds. But the choices are getting much more difficult to make. It's not easy anymore.
BOLDUAN: And not easy for states across the country. A recent report by the Pew Center suggests state budget troubles are having far-reaching impact on residents.
SUSAN URAHN, PEW CENTER ON THE STATES: As the states face increasingly severe budget troubles, the public is definitely going to feel it. They'll pay more taxes. They'll pay higher fees.
BOLDUAN: With a $2 billion budget shortfall projected in Maryland for 2011, Brewster says she has no idea what's in store for her family's financial future. She only hopes more cuts aren't on the horizon for her daughter and so many others.
BREWSTER: They didn't ask to be disabled. We're not asking for hands out. We're just asking for a little bit of help. That's it.
BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Frederick County, Maryland.
PHILLIPS: A new book with old comments from the Senate majority leader. What do you think about it? You're part of the conversation, straight ahead.
PHILLIPS: And you're joining the conversation this hour. The topic? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments about President Obama back when he was still a candidate. Reid mentioning Obama's light skin and lack of "Negro dialect."
Here's some of your tweets.
Beldonna writes, "I personally think Senator Reid should lose his position, but clearly the president has accepted his apology."
DannyBoy1013 writes, "Harry Reid has apologized. His choice of words was wrong. He knows it. His record on civil rights reflects that. Let's move on."
This tweeter writes, "While his choice of words was unfortunate, Reid's comments were accurate. That is also unfortunate."
We're going to break down just what Senator Reid said and run it by a panel that we've put together for you. We're on the hunt for teachable moments.
PHILLIPS: OK. Before we bring in our panel, let's take a quick look at the quote from Harry Reid that's causing such a ruckus right now. It's from the new book "Game Change" about the 2008 presidential election.
"He (Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama." And here's the quote attributed directly to Reid: a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one..."
That's the part Reid has apologized for.
Now the president and Congressional Black Caucus have accepted, but the head of the GOP, he says game change should mean leadership change in the Senate.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: When democrats get caught saying racist things, you know, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the DNC would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Remember, Trent Lott was majority leader just a few years ago, but stepped aside after he made some positive remarks about Strom Thurmond's segregationist past.
So is Harry Reid a Trent Lott or not? Our panel's going to help sort this out for us. We have got Joe Feagin, a professor and author and an expert on race relations; columnist and journalist Richard Prince, he's also an expert on diversity issues; plus our own Soledad O'Brien, host of CNN's "BLACK IN AMERICA" and "LATINO IN AMERICA" specials; plus CNN political analyst Roland Martin there on the White House lawn, he's getting ready to interview the president about this an hour from now.
Richard Prince, I want to start with you. I've heard three words that -- the three I have heard the most since this happened -- truth, ignorance, insensitivity. Where do you want to begin?
RICHARD PRINCE, COLUMNIST: Well, let's start with truth.
PRINCE: Harry Reid did speak some truths, some truths that maybe a lot of people don't want to admit or acknowledge. It is true that there is such a thing called colorism in our society in which lighter- skinned people are viewed more positively than darker-skinned ones. I think we can all remember, those of us who are old enough, the darkening of the O.J. Simpson cover on "Time" magazine, and there have been studies that show darker-skinned people are viewed more threateningly. And that was one of Barack Obama's -- part of his appeal, as Harry Reid was articulating.
Ignorance, yes, there was ignorance of the fact that this exists and that this was a factor in many people's decision to support then- Senator Obama.
And what was the third one?
PHILLIPS: The third was insensitive.
PRINCE: Insensitivity, yes.
Yes, he wasn't sensitive to have allowed this to get out. He did made the remarks in private, however, even though those remarks were made to authors of a book.
PHILLIPS: Joe, which leads me to you, was he being racially insensitive or is he a racist?
JOE FEAGIN, PROFESSOR & AUTHOR: I think he's operating out of a white racial framing of society. He's really saying that Senator Obama at that point was an exception to his race, that he didn't speak out of a Negro dialect, that he was light-skinned. We heard that kind of conversation among a lot of white voters and even some Obama volunteers during the campaign. They would say things like, well, you know, he has a white mother, he has white grandparents who raised him. He went to Harvard. He speaks well, which means he speaks out of a white, middle-class kin of dialect.
So I think what Senator Reid was saying in the backstage region probably with other Whites present was that Senator Obama is an exception to his race. He's not like other black people, he will be acceptable to white voters.
PHILLIPS: Soledad, Roland, I want you both to weigh in on this. Why don't we start with you, Roland.
Are you insulted by this?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, clearly Senator Harry Reid should not have made the comment, but what we have to recognize is that it's interesting. When someone white makes a comment and when someone African-American make as comment, it could be the exact same truth but it's seen as differently based upon who is saying it. We discussed this very issue this morning because I criticize African-Americans because I say -- it's a double standard here. That is, if a white republican made this comment it's a whole different reaction than a white democrat.
But here's what was interesting, on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," 8 million listeners, largely African-American, the response was, Reid was right. And so I just had lunch here in D.C. and I ran into Hilary Shelton, who runs the NAACP Washington bureau. And he said that Harry Reid has had an A record voting-wise for the NAACP report card. Trent Lott, he had an F. He said that we don't want talk about race -- and this is one of the issues -- if we are honest and open and talking about it, we can understand how people view things but automatically people shut down when someone makes this kind of comment.
Should he have said it? Absolutely not. But it shows you how afraid we are and we dance around the issue of race, whoever makes the comment.
PHILLIPS: Are we dancing around the issue -- Soledad, are we dancing around the issue?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: They are so interesting, right? Because suddenly he says something that every single person on this panel so far has said, yes, pretty much what he said is sort of true. Right? No one has said, he's wrong. What a he's apologizing for is that he is a politician. Politicians who have part of the electorate is black should not be calling them Negroes, number one. Right? So that's just an anachronistic term. That's one of the reasons he's apologizing.
He's apologizing for talking about a Negro dialect. People say, oh, you don't talk about that even though black people will tell you there are ways you can talk to different audiences. I'm sure there are ways you can talk to Asian audiences, certainly ways you can talk to Latino audiences and throw out phrases to connect to your audience.
And also he talked about privilege, privilege that comes with the color of your skin which has been documented so many times. What he's apologizing for is, as a politician, not supposed to say those things. As a white politician you really shouldn't say those things. And so he's really saying, oops, don't be too honest. Don't say anything out there, because it will come back to bite you in the rear end.
People who've made, I think, comparisons to Trent Lott, content- wise, completely different. Completely, absolutely different.
PHILLIPS: Guys, do not go away. I see Richard Prince laughing, I'm going to play off that in just a second. Quick break, don't go away, we're coming right back. Great discussion so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I have apologized to the president. I have apologized to everyone within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words.
And I will continue to do my work for the African-American community. As a very young man in the state of Nevada I was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in Nevada and it had a lot of moving to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: We're back with the panel breaking down the little bombshell in the new book "Game Change" Harry Reid's comments about then-candidate Obama.
Joe Feagin, professor, author and expert on race relations; columnist and journalist Richard Prince, also an expert on diversity issues; plus our own Soledad O'Brien, host of CNN's "BLACK IN AMERICA" and "LATINO IN AMERICA" specials; plus CNN political analyst Roland Martin on the White House lawn getting ready to interview the president in less than an hour.
OK, he's apologizing for his word choice, using the word "Negro," saying "Negro dialect." Richard, what is the proper term for people of color now? Is that absolutely in no way, shape or form a proper word? PRINCE: Well, there are some people who still prefer to be called Negro. It does live on in the names of some organizations such as the United Negro College Fund. But yes, it is considered obsolete. We have moved on from those days. It brings back memories of a different time.
But I do believe that people should be called what they want to be called. And one of the reasons this question is coming up is because it's on the Census form. And the Census found out last time around that some people insisted that a that was what they wanted to be called and so they have a choice for them to make this year on this year's Census.
MARTIN: Kyra, I really wonder if we truly -- we always talk about a conversation about race. And I remember years ago there was a website that came out where if you had all these crazy questions about White people and Black people and Hispanic people, you can ask these questions and people said, oh, you shouldn't do that. But folks were saying, no, can't you just talk about it.
And on the issue, there was a study done last year at Northwestern University where they said if you were a baby-faced black CEO with large ears, light skin you were perceived differently by Whites than if it was a white baby-faced CEO. All these different examples.
And so I think what is useful is that if we say, should Harry Reid have said it as a politician? As Soledad said, absolutely not. But are there people who think this and can we have a dialogue to get at why people think that? Why is it that if you don't, some say, talk white or you don't have a Negro dialect you're not as acceptable? If you're dark-skinned? We have to come to grips with that issue. Reid saying it simply exposed us to what some people actually think.
O'BRIEN: OK, can I throw something out...
PHILLIPS: All right, I want to pick up on that, but since we are talking about Harry Reid, OK, let's look at his age, his background...
O'BRIEN: Oh, he's a politician.
PHILLIPS: ... his ethnicity.
OK, he's a politician, true, but can I throw something out? I wanted to run this discussion by a number of people in the NEWSROOM. I went up to one specific employee, African-American, and I said, what do you think about this. And he said, here's something that's interesting, my 4-year-old was in the car with me. I had on a certain radio station and she said, dad, can we listen to the white radio station? OK, this is a 4-year-old in pre-K. And he said, where did you get that term? What are you talking about? What do you mean by that? He was in shock.
So for decades we have been talking about racial discussions and talking about certain words and stereotyping and backdoor racism and front-door racism, but whether it's a 4-year-old or it's Harry Reid, we're still hearing the same, I guess, offensive phrases. Is that...?
MARTIN: Cause race...
O'BRIEN: People aren't...
FEAGIN: We're not in my kind of post-racial America. That's for sure.
MARTIN: We're not.
PHILLIPS: All right, everybody wants to pipe in. Go ahead, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: There is not one black person in this country who believes we're in -- what does even "post-racial" mean? What does that mean? That black people aren't black anymore because we have a black president? That's ridiculous.
Bottom line is Harry Reid where he made, I believe, his major gaffe is as someone who is -- even if he's older and he talked about his heavy involvement in the civil rights issues in Nevada in the past, the bottom line is Negro is not a term you use unless you are talking about the United Negro College Fund. You don't use it. And so that shows him to be a little bit out of step. I mean, to me, that is an indication of more of who he is and it's just -- it's just inappropriate.
PHILLIPS: There was a movement to bring that word back, though, Soledad, remember?
O'BRIEN: Oh, please.
PHILLIPS: I want to say -- was it Cornell West or it was one of these educators -- Roland, you and I have talked about this before. Who was it? There was a movement...
O'BRIEN: Well, it failed. It was a failed movement.
MARTIN: Actually, it failed, yes. So...
MARTIN: ... look, I mean, there are all kinds of movements folks are trying to bring back. But again, though, what we have here is -- look, we are a racial nation. OK? You use a radio station. What you would say is a black radio station, you know, what likely is? A hip- hop or R&B stations. If you say it's a white station, that's a pop station. We do it.
People act as if we don't have these racial views in this country. We do. It's owning up to it, but also discussing amongst ourselves why we are this way and does our view on race hold us back and do we deny people opportunities because of race, or do we simply say, it is what it is and we're simply one big melting pot and we simply just deal with it.
FEAGIN: We need to use this as a teaching moment too. It's extremely important to discuss these things at length and not let them just go away in two, three days.
MARTIN: Or shut down the conversation down.
FEAGIN: You know, what is the Negro dialect? What does that term mean? We need have public discussions about it.
PHILLIPS: What does it mean? Joe, let me ask you, what does it mean?
FEAGIN: It's an old phrase that Whites invented long ago to talk about the way black people accent their English or certain black people accent their English. Everybody speaks English with an accent. Everybody speaks a dialect. But Whites tend to single out a certain way of speaking among African-Americans and stereotype that as a kind of Black speech or Negro dialect. And if they don't speak that way, then they think they are acceptable Black people.
PHILLIPS: Is there any truth to that, Richard?
PRINCE: I'm glad you -- first of all, I want to say I am so glad we are having the discussion. As you might now, I write about diversity issues in the news media and the reason I was smiling earlier is because it was a smile of recognition at some of the points people were making.
Yesterday -- I just wrote about the Sunday talk shows where there was not diversity and this whole issue was treated as a matter of politics. There was no attempt made, as there is being now, to explain is there any truth to this, what are social scientists saying, what makes this offensive and not offensive. And I think we need more discussions like this and we need more people in front of the cameras who understand these kinds of issues.
PHILLIPS: So, Richard, let me ask you, cause in Richard's column -- hold on a second, Roland, cause I know you have to interview the president, I want you to weigh in before we go break.
PHILLIPS: But, Richard, that's what caught my attention about your column. You know, you ripped us all apart, especially the Sunday morning shows, saying, OK, everybody's beating around the bush and by the way, everybody talking about this is white. Everybody's skipping around the word racist. Are we doing the right thing now? Are we having the correct conversation now?
PRINCE: I think we are. I think we're shedding light and not just heat.
MARTIN: Well, first of all, thank God I have a Sunday morning show on TV-one with black folks are on it.
PRINCE: Hear, hear.
MARTIN: Kyra, let's own up to this as well. You have African- Americans who are in corporate America who say, I can't talk the way I want to because I don't want to be seen as "the angry black man." You have all these stereotypes people place and so you have people who change their dress, change their hairstyle, change how they talk to meet someone else's definition. That's all real and so people experience it every single day. I have been called, hey, you're the angry black man. What does that mean when I see a white guy going nuts and yelling, screaming? He's not called the angry white guy. But that's seen as positive, but mine is a negative.
FEAGIN: And that's what Senator Reid was implying in his statement, too.
FEAGIN: He said, Obama doesn't talk about racism very much. So it makes him a more acceptable black man to white voters.
O'BRIEN: I think also you have to remember that the context of what he was saying was he was loving Obama. This guy's great. This guy could win the presidency. This guy's amazing. Why? Because he fits all these things that whatever Harry Reid's perspective of how black people should sound, which is a whole other conversation, he felt like the people are going to be comfortable with him. So, you know, he's praising President Obama.
And black people understand, that what my sense is and I just came from a luncheon that was honoring Eunice Johnson, so full of very well connected black people. President Clinton spoke who said, listen, nobody's outraged about this. It's interesting to have an honest conversation, what did he really say, but people weren't up in arms partly because they felt like what he was saying is essentially, at its core, kind of true.
FEAGIN: And another issue here...
PHILLIPS: Joe, stay with me, Joe. Joe, hold that thought, because Roland's going to take off to interview the president.
Roland, as I let you go before we go to a break, what do you hope to get here from the president when you report back to?
MARTIN: Well, first of all, we're doing a special on MLK with the president in primetime for TV-One, that's the purpose of the interview. And obviously this issue and also the issue of race in his first year will all come up.
And so look, he's talked about it, but look -- remind people, when the president touched the issue of race with Skip Gates, look at the reaction. He gave an honest answer from a black man's perspective and people lost their minds saying he was wrong. It shows you how touchy and dicey we are about race. But look, if we don't talk about it, we never get over it, we never confront it, and we never are able to move on.
PHILLIPS: All right, ask him if there's going to be a Beer Summit II, follow up, call in, let us know.
MARTIN: Hey, hey, I don't do beer. I do cranberry juice and orange juice.
O'BRIEN: I do beer. I do beer.
PHILLIPS: Yes, Soledad, I know you do. Richard and Joe, we'll talk about your drinking choice in a minute.
We're going to continue our summit right after the break. We'll be right back.
PHILLIPS: CNN tonight 10:00 Eastern, a look at the book that has stirred up all the controversy, plus what it says about other behind- the-scenes goings on from the 2008 election, "AC360" tonight 10:00 Eastern.
We're talking about that -- breaking down a little bombshell in the book called "Game Change," Harry Reid's comments about then- candidate Barack Obama. Once again, we're talking to Joe Feagin, professor, author, expert on race relations; columnist and journalist Richard Prince, an expert on diversity issues; and our own Soledad O'Brien, you remember, host of CNN's "BLACK IN AMERICA." Roland now is interviewing the president.
So, guys, I want to get you all to hit a final thought here. Joe, before you went to the break, you were -- you had a thought.
FEAGIN: Yes. One of the key issues here is the backstage racism versus front-stage racism. What Senator Reid said was in the backstage. He didn't expect it to come out in the front stage and be discussed. So one thing we need to talk about in this country when it comes to racism issues in is what Whites say and do in the backstage and what we do in the front stage. In recent decades, we have learned to be socially correct in public, but we still do a lot of this pretty racist discussion in the backstage.
PHILLIPS: Richard, do Blacks do the same thing?
PRINCE: Well, Blacks live in America also. And unfortunately, a lot of what white people judge to be acceptable and not acceptable is picked up by black people and by other people of other races as well, even though it might be to their detriment. And some of what we are hearing about Barack Obama is also true in the black community. PHILLIPS: Soledad, final thoughts?
O'BRIEN: You know, I think it's interesting and it's sort of sad, by having this apology and Senator Reid saying, you know, I apologize blanket for what I have said, I think you miss an opportunity to have a conversations about colorism. I mean, you know, he talks about light-skinned privilege. That's a really interesting conversation to have and in a way you sort of cut it off by an apology, let's move on, let's get on to the politics of the day and leave this icky story behind us.
I think there are all sorts of interesting things to still talk about, as Roland said before he ran off to talk to the president. You know, until you can sort of hash your way through these really awkward and uncomfortable conversations, you're really not going to make any progress because there is a white perspective, there's a black perspective, there's a different generational perspective as well, and all those kind of have to be heard before you can make progress and move any distance, think.
PHILLIPS: How we all wait for the day that we are color blind, that's for sure.
O'BRIEN: Oh, no. I disagree with that.
O'BRIEN: You know why? And no black people ever say that. Black people are fine with being black. You don't need to be color blind, just don't let the fact that you are dark skinned or light skinned or black or Asian or Hispanic impact your ability to get a job, impact your ability to get promoted.
I don't want to be color blind. I enjoy people for who they are. I see them for who they are. I am not color blind, I see who everybody is. That means I have no necessary sense of what they can be. Let their actions show what they can be.
I don't want to be color blind. I want people to see who I am.
FEAGIN: And the color blind language...
PHILLIPS: Interesting. I guess people -- yes, I guess you can define that differently -- Joe.
FEAGIN: And the color blind language is often a cover up for not look at racism too. We need to -- I agree with Soledad, we need to look much more deeply at racism in this country and how it affects the opportunities of people in jobs and housing and so forth.
PHILLIPS: Richard, five seconds, save me.
PRINCE: Well, and we need people in the media who understand all this. PHILLIPS: Rock and roll.
Richard Prince, Joe Feagin, Soledad O'Brien and Roland as well was involved, guys, thanks so much. Richard, I hope your next column is how we did this conversation in a proper way.
O'BRIEN: Spell our names right.
PHILLIPS: Exactly. That's S-O-L-E...
PHILLIPS: Joe, great to see you. Thanks, guys.
FEAGIN: Thank you.
PRINCE: All right.
O'BRIEN: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Quick break.
PHILLIPS: So what's it going to take to get the economy out of the doll drums? How about some good old-fashioned innovation. To answer the call, the New York Stock Exchange launched the NYSE Financial Future Challenge, and guess what. Susan Lisovicz, on the trading floor with the winner. And boy, this one is going to blow you away.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Kyra, you know, and sometimes innovation comes from the very young. Case in point, Fabian Fernandez-Han, he is 12, he is from Conrow (ph), Texas. And while so many of his friends are talking on the cell phone, Kyra, he is developing applications for the cell phone. He developed an app with a memorable name, Oinkosaurus.
LISOVICZ: There's a reason for it. Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness.
PHILLIPS: I am ready to hear it.
LISOVICZ: Why does the Oinkosaurus do, Fabian?
FABIAN FERNANDEZ-HAN, NYSE FINANCIAL FUTURE CHALLENGE WINNER: OK, Oinkosaurus is an iPhone and iPod touch app and it's meant to teach kids about the stock market so that they don't see investing as, like, homework and so they can see it as something that they can do during their regular day. So for example, because investment and savings, they are all around us. They're opportunities.
So, for example, one afternoon I was eating Goldfish-- Goldfish crackers - -and I really like Goldfish. So I was wondering what company makes it. So on the box it said Pepperidge Farms. So I looked it up on Google and then I could see that Pepperidge Farm was actually owned by Campbell Soups.
LISOVICZ: Which is a publically traded company and, Kyra, that's exactly what Warren Buffet has long advocated, buy what you know.
But you know, Fabian, 12-year-olds don't often invest that often, so we're hoping that that application will be popular by kids and their parents. He's a long ways off from retirement.
PHILLIPS: Warren Buffet needs to invest in Fabian, that's what I'm saying. Congratulations, thanks so much.
LISOVICZ: He's ringing the closing bell in an hour.
PHILLIPS: I love it.
That wraps it up for us. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Rick Sanchez up right after the break.