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First of All with Victor Blackwell

Biden: U.S. Policy Will change If Israel's Gaza Tactics Don't; Heartbreak, Frustration And The Crisis In Gaza; Biden "Outraged And Heartbroken" Over Aid Worker Deaths; Unique Native American Traditions Inspired By Solar Eclipse; Black And Hispanic Women Who Never Marry Are The Least Wealthy In The US; Widely Used Test Kept Black People From Getting Kidney Transplants Sooner. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 06, 2024 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'll ask a Muslim American who recently met with President Biden, also a Palestinian American helping feed people in Gaza if they agree and what they think of the timing.

Also no labels says that their third party unity candidate idea is a no go. The co-chair of the group says that their hero didn't come along. You could say that maybe they didn't have the strength to carry on. Get it. Okay.

So now what? Civil rights leader, Dr. Ben Chavis is here and --

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: There's another song reference coming up too.

BLACKWELL: Of course, you heard of the solar eclipse. But have you heard about the sun eating squirrel? I learned a lot this week about the Eclipse and some unique stories and teachings passed down by Native Americans. I think you'd like them to so we're going to share some of that coming up.

WALKER: All right. We'll be watching. Have a great show, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much. Let's start the show right now.

Well, first of all, this is an inflection point in the Israel-Hamas war. President Biden has now issued the ultimatum to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden says that he will change U.S. policy if more is not done to address the humanitarian crisis or at least consider changing it. It's in response to the IDF strikes that killed seven aid workers from World central kitchen on Tuesday. The White House says the president was heartbroken and frustrated.

Well, now the administration is waiting to see if Israel's government follows through, if more aid will reach the people who desperately need it. The people in Gaza have been heartbroken and frustrated. More than 32,000 have been killed according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 32,000. Farida Adel Algoul says that she's lost more than 200 members of her extended family.


FARIDA ADEL ALGOUL, ENGLISH TEACHER: I lost my loved ones. I listed all of my family. I lost myself during this war.


BLACKWELL: Heartbroken and frustrated. So as 21-year-old Alfaf Alnajjar, her home and university were destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. And now she's in Rafah.


AFAF ALNAJJAR, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: We are as much human as anyone else in the world is. And we have dreams and we have ambitions and we have -- we have things that we want to accomplish. And we have stories that we want to tell just like everybody else and we feel pain, we feel pain just like everybody else.


BLACKWELL: She is heartbroken and frustrated. So as 37-year-old freelance journalist, Ghada Kurd. She's seen colleagues killed and now she's living in a tent shelter.


GHADA KURD, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: It's enough of them, like every two years, every three years. They lost hope. They become displaced, they are desperate, frustrated. So they want to live a good life.


BLACKWELL: Heartbroken and frustrated and the Israeli families of those killed are being held by hostages are held as hostages, I should say, by Hamas for six months now. They are heartbroken and frustrated. I just played three of the testimonies compiled for a CNN project called voice notes from Gaza just went up online at And they underscore another frustration that it has taken so long for the US to draw this line on the crisis.

Let's hear now from two people with unique perspectives on this, Salima Suswell is the founder of the Black Muslim leadership council also with us is Hani Almadhoun who recently helped launch a soup kitchen in Gaza. Welcome to you both.

Salim, let me start with you, because you attended this White House meeting this week with the President to express frustrations with how the administration is handling the war. I wonder what you think of the new tone from President Biden. And the change is seemingly in response. The Israel now saying it's going to open the era's crossing, and allow more aid in to Gaza?

SALIMA SUSWELL, FOUNDER, BLACK MUSLIM LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Well, thank you so much for having me, Victor. I think that our sentiments to the President were very well received. I also believe that he was deeply impacted by the death of the seven humanitarian aid workers. I mean, enough is enough. It's come time to bring this work to an end. We express that to both the President as well as the vice president, who both agreed.

BLACKWELL: Hani, your family founded your co-founded this godson soup kitchen. And you're doing fantastic work. I've seen online feeding the people who you could reach and can get to you. But the Palestinian Red Crescent says that 31 children have now died from starvation and dehydration. People in northern Gaza are eating grass. What more do you want to see from this administration?


HANI ALMADHOUN, CO-FOUNDER OF GAZA SOUP KITCHEN: That's exactly right. You know, my family actually at the soup kitchen delivers to the commander at one hospital food. And every day there is less kids that are there, because unfortunately, they die from those conditions. You've said the last one is the boy named Naim (ph), Ibrahim, and Najjar (ph). He's not even two years old, and just passed away, broke our hearts. You know, children be and civilians like myself here, go fund me and my family to go feed people with a problem that they have nothing to do with my brother, my family has been through hell. I have lost my brother in November. And you know, this is surprising to hear the guests talk about change in behavior. It's not what they say. It's what they do.

You know, I'd like -- we started the soup kitchen because my family was eating pigeon food, rabbit food for the longest time. And we're not finding it easy to source these materials. Basically, we're cooking with canned food. We're cooking with the forage all that stuff, because we want to be there for our neighbors. It's heartbreaking because many competent and great NGOs are unable and denied access to go deliver for families like mine, the remains 300,000 persons in the North Dakota, and they remain with very little food. And we want to be a response there. I'm so glad so many Americans care about this and the support of our campaign. So more needs to be ceasefire more humanitarian good.

BLACKWELL: Hani, let me stay with you. The Seven World central kitchen workers, who were killed this week, are according to the UN just seven of the close to 200 aid workers who have been killed in Gaza. I wonder how this moment especially changes or influence how you all do the work that you do?

ALMADHOUN: Absolutely. Yes. So 173 of these folks were a liberal colleague of mine at my old job at an era got killed last month so there's a lot of heartbreak.

Our family is stepping up our operations so we used to cook with three pots. Now we're cooking capacity, eight pots. We started -- tomorrow, we're starting a new old female soup kitchen as well. Maybe we'll cook something when we have flour. So it's a struggle every day. We need a series of small Americans.

Right now, the NGOs are closing -- closing their soup kitchens. And you know, we're only serving about 500 to 600 families a day. There is more need to be done. We're aware. We can't wait to see more NGOs and humanitarian relief to support our people. But also it's hard for them to do their job without a sense of safety and without a ceasefire.

So I'm hoping my family will stay safe. I'm so worried for their safety, sir, that I called the White House and gave the coordinates for the soup kitchen. Because after what we've seen at the horrors like last week, I really want my family to be safe already lost a brother. I cannot emotionally afford to lose my mood who's running the kitchen.

BLACKWELL: Salima, the Council on American Islamic Relations focusing back here in the U.S. They say that they've received more than 8000 reports of anti-Muslim bias in 2023. That's a 56% increase over the previous year, the highest in 28 years, they've tracked it disproportionate amount since the start of the war. This is more than after 911. More than after Trump's so called Muslim travel ban. What do we all need to do right now to fight that trend?

SUSWELL: Well, I think that it's really important to know that what is happening in the Middle East right now is impacting American lives as well. Here in my city of Philadelphia, I have experienced over for a minimum of four manager vandalisms in my community in Philadelphia and in their surrounding suburbs. And so it's definitely a threat since the border in Israel. And we want the President to know that if he doesn't ceasefire, that this is something that is also impacting Americans and our safety and so it's very, very important to pay attention to.

BLACKWELL: Salima Suswell, Hani Almadhoun, thank you both.

Well, now a decision that analysts think is a positive development for the Biden campaign, the group No Labels considering the rather considered fielding third party Challenger and the presidential race, but no labels found no candidate. And according to my next guest, the hero we needed did not emerge. So now what? Let's ask, Civil Rights leader, Dr. Benjamin Chavis. He's a national co-chair of No Labels.

Good to see you again. Let me start here. So four weeks ago, about 800. No Labels delegates got together and decided yes, let's move forward. We're going to move forward with this ticket and find candidates. What changed between then four weeks ago and the decision to say now we can't do it.


BEJAMIN CHAVIS JR., NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, NO LABELS: Well, thank you, Victor. Good morning. Always good to see you. Well, I just want to remind everyone, that beginning of the process over a year ago, No Labels said that if we could not find, not only to candidates, but also a pathway to victory, we would stand down. Our organization has a lot of integrity. And we kept my word, because what happened is that we, while we interviewed some worthy people, they decided not to run. And they decided not run, because they didn't think that they could win.

And we didn't think they could win, and therefore, we stood down. That's what we said, we were going to do. We kept by word to the American people. But No Labels is not going away. We're not disappearing. We, you know, we have ballot access and 21 states. We're going to figure out what to do with that. So I think the organization made the right decision at the right time.

BLACKWELL: Okay. So several things here. When you say that, you realize, and I went back and watched your interviews from a year ago, and you said, and Joe Cunningham said that if we can't find or we can't find a way to win, we won't do it. If we can't -- we won't be spoilers here. What did you see, then? That is clear now, because some of the critics have no labels have said there was never a path to 270?

CHAVIS JR.: Well, you know, there's always possibilities if you have the right formula together, the right team together. And I think the people criticize No Labels unfairly and unjustly, because we never misstated on the record that we would not be a spoiler, and we kept our faith kept our word to the American people.

I think that this is a learning process, Victor. I think it also tells us something about the two party system that is very difficult for third party to get momentum in the United States, because it to establish fund has worked really hard to make sure that doesn't happen.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We watch the parade of former candidates in this cycle and previous cycles, who I guess had some engagement with No Labels, turn them down, talking to Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Larry Hogan of Maryland, we've got the faces, we can put up. Joe Manchin as well, who all said, No, this is not my time, even former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan. What did they tell you? That they couldn't win? Or you couldn't win?

CHAVIS JR.: No. I think that each person that was interviewed had different circumstances. So there's no one answer to all of the people that were interviewed. But just let me say this, running for president United States running for vice president is a serious endeavor. You not only put yourself out there, you put your family out there. You put whatever your connections are out there. And so that was a weighty decision for people to be considered. And it was a weighty decision for whether or not they were going to have the courage to do it. So it was a combination of no one single thing.

BLACKWELL: I just said, when you said you have ballot access in 21 states, and now you're going to figure out what to do with it without a candidate. What are your options? I mean, there's nothing you can do with?

CHAVIS JR.: Well, have (inaudible) time. You know, we will see. Right now, over 1 million people signed up with No Labels. We are in the ballot access and 21 states. Sso we'll figure it out. You know, again, once --

BLACKWELL: But you don't have a candidate to put into those slots in these places. Let me -- one more before I go here.

CHAVIS JR.: We don't have a candidate for president or vice president.

BLACKWELL: Okay. Let me ask you before you go. Without a third party candidate, who are you going to support in November?

CHAVIS JR.: I'm going to support the best candidate. Obviously, I'm not going to support Donald Trump because he's an existential threat.

BLACKWELL: But does that mean you're going to vote for President Biden?

CHAVIS JR.: I'm just saying we're not going to go for it. I'm not going to vote for Kennedy.

BLACKWELL: Okay. Why won't you -- if you're not going to vote for them, why can't you say you can vote for President Biden? Is there another person you considering?

CHAVIS JR.: No, I'm going to vote for the you know, first of all, I'm not encouraging anyone to vote for anybody at this point. But I'm going to tell you who I personally would not vote for.

BLACKWELL: All right. Dr. Ben Chavis, thanks so much. Coming up, health and social justice organizations. They're tired of waiting. And now they're suing the FDA for the delay. They say it's costing Black Lives. I'll speak to one of those critics next.

Plus, no eating, no drinking, no activities, just quiet reflection. While some Native American communities have a much different approach to Monday solar eclipse.


BLACKWELL: So I've been following this next story closely because it's a policy this policy decision that could save lives disproportionately black lives, but it's being delayed. A ban on menthol cigarettes was expected last year that was pushed to March of this year. Well, obviously now we're in April. Still no announcement.

Here's what we do know though, menthol cigarettes are popular with black smokers and black people die at higher rates from smoking related illnesses. According to one study, a menthol ban would save 255,000 Black Lives in the US within 40 years. Another study by the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that if Menthols were banned, the gap between black and white lung cancer deaths would close within five years. And now some civil rights and medical organizations are suing the Food and Drug Administration.

Carol McGruder is a founding member of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. Her organization is a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with the group's Action on Smoking and Health, and the National Medical Association, the nation's oldest group representing black physicians.

Carol, good morning to you very early morning, because you're joining me from California. And I thank you for that. So the administration says that they're in the final stages of rulemaking, that they've sent everything over to the FDA now, and they're close to the end of the process. So why the lawsuit? CAROL MCGRUDER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN TOBACCO CONTROL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: We found a new lawsuit. This is our second one, because this issue it has is not solely a public health issue because of the racial overlay of every single thing in our country. And so we've gotten mired up in politics. And so this is really a public health decision that needs to be made that other countries have made. We filed a new lawsuit, because we really want to let the Biden administration know that we are not going anywhere, and that we will not allow this issue to be pushed back. And you know, we don't know what's going to happen with our next election, we're going to have a change in administration. And so it makes it more critical, more crucial that we get the job done and that we get the job done right now. We've been waiting a long time. And we're not going to -- we're going to keep pushing forward until we can get the tobacco industry out of our communities and stop killing the 45,000 black people who die every year in this country from tobacco induced diseases.

BLACKWELL: You said politics. 2020 studies shows 30% of white smokers prefer menthol 83% of black smokers do and we've discussed at length, the President has some grounded makeup with black voters. Do you believe that November 2024 is what they're watching. And that that is why they haven't finalized this rule that they don't want to annoy or disappoint or anger black smokers before they have to go and vote.

MCGRUDER: I think that that's part of it. But the bigger part of it is the tobacco industry's interference. And so they have -- the tobacco industry have historically utilize certain African Americans to espouse their rhetoric. And so this was documented with our colleague, Dr. Valerie yoga and Ruth Malone, smoking with the enemy where food, the tobacco industry's own internal documents, we see how they utilize our people. And so this, the issue of waiting longer, it's for us, it's we can't wait any longer. That every delay every year means that more of our children more of our people are smoking.

There are some you know, there's comedy about this. And so why do black people smoke Newports? Black people smoked Newports because the tobacco industry seeded them in our community for decades, gave them away free to children, children like Dave Chappelle, that's how he started smoking when he was 14 years old, giving vaping having given free cigarettes at the DC metro station. He talks about that in his interviews. And people like Marie Evans, a woman who if she were alive, she would be my age.

And so when we see the deaths from the industry, it kills our parents. It kills our grandparents. It kills the people who are the -- who stabilize our communities, who are the foundation of our families. And that's the harm of this more than anything else is that it kills the people who we need to be on board as we move our agenda forward as African Americans in this country.

BLACKWELL: Carol McGruder, we've been watching this since the very week this show started and we'll continue to watch it. Thank you so much for your time.

Coming up, what the story of a squirrel that tries to eat the sun has to do with a total solar eclipse just days away. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


BLACKWELL: There's a lot of excitement about the total solar eclipse happening on Monday. And it's not just about buying those glasses to stare at the sun. You may not know this, I certainly didn't that eclipses have special meaning to Native Americans and just like there's diversity among indigenous peoples, there is diversity in teaching about the eclipse and how they commemorate it passed down over generations.

Here to share some of the stories and the significance are Shareen goats name, director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center in Indiana University there. She's a member of the Navajo Nation or DNA. Dawn Standridge is also with us. She is a cultural research associate for the Choctaw Nation which will be right in the path of the eclipse on Monday in Oklahoma.

Welcome to you both. So let me start with you Dawn because you will be in that path of totality, will you be inviting visitors? What will the atmosphere be there? Will be celebrations? Tell us about it?

DAWN STANDRIDGE, CULTURAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, CHOCTAW NATION: Well, we are invited visitors we actually have we opened it up ours I'm at a historic side so we open it up for guests to come in and they will be there for the four minutes and 18 totality. So we're really excited to be able to share that with them, as well as some of our Choctaw history and the story about Funi Lusa, the Black Squirrel.


BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: So tell me about that. Because I have since my producer came up with his idea to have this conversation, I've been reading about the different nations and tribes that the Cherokee, it's a frog that they're chasing off.

STANDRIDGE: Frog, yes.

BLACKWELL: Less about the black squirrel.

STANDRIDGE: Well, the story I heard, and I only heard this story about a year ago, and the story of the black squirrel is he in in the Choctaw language, it's Funi Lusa. So he is a very mischievious hungry guy, apparently. And he sees the sun as a snack. So he goes to eat at the sun.

And from what the story goes, is that the Choctaw people saw this happening. And they got very scared because the sun is important to them. And so they started yelling and screaming, and they brought out the pots and pans to start making all this noise in an effort to scare Funi Lusa away.

BLACKWELL: And you'll be doing that on Monday trying to scare the squirrel away. OK. STANDRIDGE: Actually, we will. We have asked our guests to bring their pots and pans if they choose to. And we said about the first minute we're going to -- first minute and a half will probably just let them be quiet to experience that part of the eclipse. But then to the last part of it, we're going to be scared Funi Lusa away.

BLACKWELL: And Sherene, I expect from what I've read that there will be a completely different atmosphere of the Navajo Nation. For some people, this is just a celestial anomaly that we can enjoy for a few minutes. But what's the significance to you?

SHERENE GOATSON ING, DIRECTOR, FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION AND CULTURAL CENTER AT IU: I was taught to recognize this moment with respect and reflection, as the Sun dies and is reborn. We do so by sitting quietly offering prayers and taking time for reflection. What we do not do is we don't eat, sleep, or drink or do or minimize our activity at that time.

BLACKWELL: And what I've learned also is that there is a relationship, a personal relationship with the sky with the sun with the moon, would you talk more about that if you weren't?

ING: Sure. My parents and my elders taught me to respect the Sun, the Moon and the Earth as they go through constant renewal and buy when they're aligning themselves. And so not only do we have relationships with each other, but we also have relationships with Mother Earth and Father Sky. And so this way for us to kind of honor the sun as it is rebalancing balancing itself during the eclipse.

BLACKWELL: Dawn, is there some special significance to being in the path of totality this year?

STANDRIDGE: Oh, well, it is for us. Because we have never experienced that. I think 100 years is what I've last read about it. So it is special for us. But what's recognizing that the sun is a -- it sustains life here for us. That's what our ancestors believed that it was a sustaining power in our lives. And it helped with our crops and stuff.

So, for us to see it not be there for the four minutes, I think we were kind of can see what our ancestors were feeling at that time, and not really knowing what was going on. So that's kind of a significant event for us.

BLACKWELL: Sherene, you mentioned that it is the rebirth of the sun, what does it offer the individual?

ING: It offers the individual time to kind of reflect on your life and what is going on in that moment. And so because it's a moment of cleansing, then it's a moment for you to do some reevaluation. And so it's a beautiful moment to connect with the Earth and the Sky and what is going on. So yes.

BLACKWELL: Sherene Goatson Ing, Dawn Standridge. Thank you so much for teaching me and my audience, as we all share this moment together on Monday. Thank you so much and join CNN for Eclipse Across America. Our special live coverage starts Monday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


You can also stream it on max. Next, new analysis of the wealth gap in America. The pennies on the dollar that unmarried Black and Hispanic women make compared to a white man that's also never been married, prepared to be upset.


BLACKWELL: If you are a black woman or Hispanic woman whose bank account is struggling this might help explain.


A new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found Black and Hispanic women who have never married have the least amount of wealth in the US. Listen to this. For every dollar of wealth held by never married white man, never married black women had eight cents. Never married Hispanic women 14 cents of every dollar. The analysis found that the cost of raising a child could account for some of the disparities.

A new lawsuit accuses Christian Combs the son of Sean "Diddy" Combs of sexual assault note alleges that the 26 year old Christian assaulted a woman as he or she rather worked on a yacht chartered by Christian's father. Now, an attorney for Christian and Shawn Combs say they believe the lawsuit contains manufactured lies and irrelevant facts.

Diddy has been accused of sexual assault by several women in lawsuits since November. He's denied all allegations settled the lawsuit brought by his former girlfriend Cassie, though. Federal agents also searched Diddy's properties as part of a sex trafficking investigation according to sources.

And we've been following the story of families in Mississippi not being told when a loved one is killed. Well now the Department of Justice is stepping in. The Jackson Police Department and coroner had been criticized because some of those victims ended up in paupers graves without family notification.

The DOJ recognized there may be a perception that race or other factors played a role that now give technical assistance recommendations and training for officials to reach next of kin.

In November, I spoke with Bettersten Wad, her son Dexter up he disappeared last March. She reported a missing but did not find out until six months later that he had died after being hit by a police cruiser. Police acknowledged investigators failed to connect the missing persons report with Wade's death.

For students of Wisconsin, Hmong and broader Asian American history will now be required in K through 12 Education. The governor signed a bill mandating it for public schools across the state. About 50,000 Hmong Americans live in Wisconsin, it's the third largest Hmong population in the US. They're a group of people from southwest China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand. Tens of thousands were recruited to fight with American forces in the Vietnam War, and escaped to the U.S. in the 1970s when communist forces swept through the region.


CALE BUSHMAN, DIRECTOR OF STUDENTS SERVICES, WAUSAU SCHOOL DISTRICT: Really a neat experience for our kids to be part of it, not just our Hmong students, but all of our students to see how important education is and empowering our youth.


BLACKWELL: The current law requires Wisconsin K through 12 schools to teach black American, Hispanic American and Native American history.

So when you hear people question the impact of race on health, share with them this next story, by one woman says she was delayed by years to get on a kidney transplant list. But first 56 years ago this weekend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. One day later, a third grade teacher in Iowa decided to use that tragedy as a teaching opportunity. She would show them what discrimination felt like by separating the children by their eye color.

But CNN Race and Equality teen caught up with Jane Elliott now 90 years old about her experiment and discuss the state of lessons of racism in schools today. You can check out this story on right now.



BLACKWELL: April is National Donate Life Month and for people waiting on a transplant list organ donation is critical. But imagine struggling to even get on a list because of a test that's biased against you because you're black.

Jazmin Evans says that was her experience. She was first put on a kidney transplant list in 2019. But she learned last year that she should have been placed on the list for years earlier. You see the formula used to evaluate a patient's health routinely underestimated the severity of kidney disease for black patients.

And last year, UNOS, the nonprofit that manages organ transplants in the US advise hospitals to stop using that test. The National Institutes of Health found that white patients were twice as likely as black patients to be rated as appropriate candidates for organ transplants.

Joining me now is Jazmin Evans. Jazmin, good morning to you. When you saw you receive the letter. And you saw the 2019 eligibility date when you actually put on the list and the 2015 date when you should have been put on that list what went through your mind.

JAZMIN EVANS, KIDNEY TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: At first, I was very shocked. I was outraged as a mid 20-year-old. I just thought that you know a big chunk of my life was really taken from me. And so I went to TikTok and basically expressed my outrage on something like this I was happening.

BLACKWELL: Committee member that organization that runs the donation and transplant network said this so many African-Americans have been affected by the use of race inclusive calculations and have become very ill or have died waiting for the opportunity to list for a kidney transplant. Thousands have been modified on this list since this rule change.

What would those four years have meant for your quality of life for mental health?

EVANS: I think it would have meant everything. During the time that I went on the transplant list and I started dialysis around the same time too, I was also entering into my Ph.D program.


That added a lot of extra stress, it added a lot of extra time, especially having that symptom days and things of that nature. Also just kind of this thought process of will I die waiting for a transplant, I've known many stories of this happening, whether it was within my own community, or within the transplant community.

So even having to deal with this issue of mortality at a very young age, it was very stressful, and I definitely had bouts of depression and things of that nature. And so, I think being able to have those years back not having that stress of, if I'm going to even wake up the next morning, you know, I think that the overall quality of my life would have been a complete one AD.

BLACKWELL: Before you receive that letter. What did your doctors tell you, if anything about how your race played into where you would be eligible or when you would be eligible to go on to the list for transplant?

EVANS: I actually was not told anything at all. Luckily, with my academic background for my master's thesis, I studied scientific racism and medical racism. So that prompted me to go back and look at my charts and look at different tests. And I noticed that there was a difference between the GFR and the GFRE. So I did my own due diligence to really see what was happening.

And then once ever, I brought my findings back to see that race was actually calculated, my doctors been confirmed that this was something that was happening. So I can only imagine what was also happening to the thousands of black Americans that didn't necessarily know to do that research on your own.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you know, we've talked about on this show, and I don't think we in society talk enough about how this or examples, similar situations like this impact, trust and confidence in the medical institutions. And when black people and people of color go into doctor's offices. How has this this moment, this recalculation impacted your degree of trust? EVANS: Yes, absolutely. So you know, we can talk about historically, right, like all of these barriers that have been put into place to where the black community does not feel comfortable going to doctor's offices, or even going to get routine physicals that could basically catch a lot of these preventable diseases.

For me, I will say that the work that you knows and OPT (ph) in are doing right now does give us a glimmer of hope that there are people out there that are pushing the needle on change in equity within the healthcare system. But I'm also sober to remember that we still have a very long way to go. There are still thousands of black Americans that are waiting for organs across the board, not just exclusively to kidney transplants.

And so I think that we need to keep using our voices, I need to think that we need to keep holding our doctors and our physicians accountable for the work that they are doing, and so that they could also uphold their own oath to do no harm to the patients in front of them, no matter their race or creed.

BLACKWELL: So you've received a kidney. How are you doing?

EVANS: I'm doing great. My kidney is working perfectly fine. I'm really blessed to be on this side of things.

BLACKWELL: Jazmin Evans, thank you so much for sharing your story. And we're glad that you are doing well. Enjoy the Saturday.

EVANS: Thank you so much for having me.

BLACKWELL: Coming up. Art is life the good and the bad. Meet an artist who found a balance and making art about two very different subjects he cares deeply about.



BLACKWELL: Time now for art is life. This is the intersection of art and news. When I see an artist who's influenced by or focuses on an event or story, I want to introduce that person to you. And Myron Laban work depicting the art of basketball is what first drew me to his art, Final Four, March Madness. It made sense.

But also on Myron's mind lately is the conflict in Gaza. So we talked about how both subjects are influencing his work now in different ways.


MYRON LABAN, VISUAL ARTIST: My name is Myron Laban. I'm in Chicago, Illinois. And I'm a visual artist and musician. This kind of started maybe about five years ago. I like basketball, flowers, abstract backgrounds, abstract shapes, and I said what if I just combine it all. It's just like, a metaphor for greatness, but also finding your greatness. When you work, and work and work and put in those 10,000 hours you

find that greatness. As of late, I've been doing a little bit more political pieces. As artists, we want to create beautiful things, right. But as artists, we also are reflecting the world around us.

I'm a son of Egyptian immigrants, my parents from Maseb (ph), I see these kids who have no water, no food, no electricity. The fundamental pieces of life have been robbed from them. The biggest thing is just to see the humanity in these people. I've been trying to make beautiful pieces but also I found this voice through watching these injustices and now I'm just trying to speak with it using the crafts and the talents that I have.


BLACKWELL: Well, for more of Myron's work, you can check out the Elephant Room Gallery in Chicago or visit Myron's Instagram or website


Thank you so much for joining me today. I will see you back here next Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Smerconish is up next.