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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Special: Afraid: Fear In America's Communities of Color; CNN Anchors Share Personal Experiences with Racism; Asian American Community On Edge, Hate Crimes Against Them Rose 150 Percent In 2020; Christian Cooper: "There Are People, In Politics, Who Have Made Fear Their Platform". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 26, 2021 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us for what we feel will be an important Special, AFRAID: FEAR IN AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.
Tonight, my Co-Anchors, Amara Walker, Victor Blackwell, and Ana Cabrera, and I will talk about that fear, which has only been amplified in the wake of the mass shootings in Atlanta, the first of two recent mass shootings.
There's the ongoing hostility toward Asian Americans, always there throughout our history, but inflamed, over the last year, by the Pandemic, and all the racist hate that's been spewed about it.
Though there is still a lot to learn about the motivation, behind that attack, which the alleged killer has blamed on some sort of sexual addiction, what we do know is that, last year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crimes rose by nearly 150 percent.
There's the larger issue of race in America and the white supremacists' propaganda fueling it at an all-time high, according to the Anti-Defamation League. There's the fear in communities of color not only being victimized, but also being falsely accused or suspected of crimes.
So many people have stories to tell about what they face, often daily. We're going to explore those stories tonight. And we'll look at what it'll take to change this climate of fear to stop otherizing people and stand together against hate.
You can tweet us your suggestions with the #CNNSpecial, and we'll feature some, during the hour, right there on the bottom of your screen.
We begin tonight with my Co-Anchors for the hour with stories of their own.
Amara, let's begin with you. You've covered the shooting in Atlanta. You've had some emotional
moments, on air, during the course of reporting that story. Can you just talk about what it's been like for you, as an Asian American, seeing this play out and reporting on it?
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's been painful. And it's also been deeply personal.
Just a few days ago, I paid a visit to two of the spa scenes, in Atlanta, as a resident of Atlanta, and also as a member of the Asian American community. And there were a few things that really stuck out to me.
Firstly, I saw a lot of young people, of Asian descent, coming to this scene, many of them crying, for strangers that they had never met before. They were kneeling and bowing at these makeshift memorials. And it was a very familiar sight to me, because in our culture, in the Korean culture, you bow, in respect to your elders' and your ancestors' graves.
I also felt this collective pain that our community is really feeling right now. And it reminded me of this word, it's a Korean word called "Han."
And "Han" means it's a deeply internalized sorrow, grief and anger that Koreans feel towards the injustices they have faced. And it's a word that originated from the long history that Koreans have faced, from being invaded and oppressed. And that feeling of "Han" was so palpable.
And one thing I want to point out, a lot of people have asked me, "Do you think it's a fair thing for an Asian American woman to be covering these shootings?" And I say, "Absolutely, it's a fair thing. It's the only way to do it."
And I say that because I know, as a journalist, I'm supposed to be objective. I do my very best to be objective. But I'm also human. I'm also Asian American, and I'm an Asian American woman.
And that's an asset, because when I got to the scene, immediately, you know, I was in tune. I was keenly aware of the fear that this community, my community, has been facing for the past year. I'm keenly aware of the immigrant, the Asian immigrant experience where there are language barriers.
And I was thinking about these families, when law enforcement arrived, did they have the resources? Were they able to effectively communicate to police, what they needed to, in that traumatic moment? I know that Asian immigrants feel dismissed often because of that language barrier.
And lastly, I thought about the immigrant mentality that I'm very much aware of, from the way that I was raised by my Korean immigrant parents.
And that is to keep your head down, to be grateful to be in this country, and to quietly work hard. And by so many accounts, that's exactly what these women were doing. But that didn't prevent them from being killed that day.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Amara, I have to say, so much of what you are saying resonates with me in a deep way.
And I know the Asian American Pacific Islander community is hurting right now in a very visceral raw way, given everything that you've been through, not just the past couple of weeks, but really for the past year-plus, and beyond that.
But I just want you to know and the others who are feeling that deep, deep pain right now that you're not alone.
And I think a lot of what you said resonated with me because other people of color, my Latino brothers and sisters have experienced some of that, too, particularly this sense of being treated or looked at as "Other."
And I think I personally have been very fortunate, perhaps because of the color of my skin being a little bit lighter, perhaps because I don't speak with an accent. But I've been able to escape the worst of it, the vitriol, the violence, but I have experienced racism, perhaps more of a casual racism.
I can tell a story about when I was a young reporter. And I was reporting at the scene of a wildfire in northern Idaho, very rural area. And this was the middle of nowhere, it felt like.
And a local person came, and drove up to our Sat truck. He asked me for my name.
And I told him "Ana Cabrera."
And he goes, "Cabrera? Where are you from?"
And I said, "Colorado." But, you know, I live in Spokane now.
And he goes "No, no, no, Cabrera?"
And I casually said, "Oh, well, I have Mexican heritage, my father's name."
And he was "Oh, you're a beaner!"
And I don't really remember how I reacted to him. But I remember thinking, "Wow!" like the way he said it was so nonchalant. It was not with an ill intent, so it seemed. I didn't feel threatened in any way. It was just so casual how he used that term and thought that it was normal.
And it taught me that a lot of people are ignorant. I thought it really showed that he was ignorant. And perhaps people are ignorant, because they haven't had as much experience with diverse communities, and people of color, and for him, with people who have Hispanic heritage.
And I think that's one of the things that is so important about the conversation that we are having is an opportunity for us to learn from each other, and to create greater understanding.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, WEEKEND NEW DAY: Yes.
Amara, you and I have had conversations. I don't know if you remember this, because it's been some time now, where, you were filling in, on the "WEEKEND" show. And we were trading, I guess, racist war stories of some of the things we've faced in our careers.
This was before the recent killings in Atlanta. This was before the previous president committed to his racism, related to the Pandemic.
And I bring up the time because after the killing of George Floyd, and the country started to acknowledge some of the systemic racism, and the disparities, facing Black Americans, Black people were frustrated saying, "We have been telling you this for years, for decades."
Do you feel that same frustration that you have been, or that the Asian American community, in this country, has been trying to tell this story, and not until this big, bold exclamation point of this tragedy, is anybody really listening?
WALKER: How sad is it, Victor? You're right. How sad is it that it took a mass shooting, a massacre, to make Asians more visible, and for us to have this conversation, about the fact that racism does indeed exist against Asians?
And we talk so much, I mean, I know we've heard the word "Invisible, Inter-racial," so many times in the media, and from talking heads, discussing Asian Americans' experiences with racism.
But that's the reality, right? I mean, we haven't had the platform to talk about what we go through on a regular basis. But now, I'm heartened by the fact that I'm seeing so many of my Asian American brothers and sisters starting to speak out about their experiences.
I'm getting messages literally every single day, people telling me, "Oh my Gosh! The other day, I was walking down the street, and someone yelled at me "Go back to China!" These things happen every single day, and people are just learning about it now.
CABRERA: Do you feel like it's worse because of the Pandemic, and the rhetoric around this virus coming from China, and what we've heard from people in positions of power, specifically calling it the "China Virus" or "Kung Flu?"
I know when I've heard that, I've cringed, because it, for me, has been like a flashback to what we heard around immigration in 2019. And we heard this otherization, this demonization of people of Hispanic heritage, calling "Mexicans, an infestation," calling it an "Invasion."
[21:10:00] And then, we see those types of words echoed, in the writings of these white supremacists, who went on a rampage, in a Walmart, and told police, according to the affidavits that he was targeting Mexicans, and he was concerned about a Hispanic invasion.
And so, I've thought a lot about that, in my reaction, and how I'm processing what's happening in the Asian American community, because of all the rhetoric around the Pandemic.
What has that been like? Is that been worse for you now?
WALKER: Yes, absolutely. I mean, words matter, like you say, right?
And it's definitely emboldened those, I guess, closet racists or the racists who weren't empowered to, to get violent or verbally harass Asian Americans. So absolutely, I feel like they're they started coming out this past year, because they had a scapegoat.
But when you see these videos of our elderly Asian Americans being lit on fire, I mean, one elderly man was taking a walk, in the Bay Area, and he was violently pushed to the ground, and he died.
Why is this happening? And why are people feeling empowered that they can do this with impunity?
And again, it goes back to the whole invisibility idea that Asians - there's this misconception out there that Asians don't deal with racism. We too are people of color. We too experience racism. And we're talking about it now.
The problem is there's - it's twofold.
We bear some responsibility because of our culture. And we need to come out of our shell. We need to start speaking up, as uncomfortable as it is, as much as it goes against the things that we were taught.
But the other aspect is our society. The fact that there has been a long history of racism against Asians hasn't been taught in our schools.
ANDERSON COOPER: Yes.
Everybody stand by, because we want to dig more into this topic, particularly the history that you are talking about, and the ripple effects of that today, what it means to be Asian in America.
CNN's Kyung Lah has that.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mass killings in Atlanta are the nightmare that so many Asian Americans feared was coming.
DENNY KIM, ATTACKED ON THE STREET: They started beating me up. They started hitting my face, kicking me.
LAH (voice-over): Unprovoked, Denny Kim says, two young male attackers jumped him, last month, in Los Angeles' Koreatown, breaking his nose. The LAPD is investigating it as a hate crime. The attackers stole nothing, but said this, while they struck him.
KIM: They started calling me "Chinese Virus, Ching chong, Chink."
LAH (on camera): When you heard them say those things, what did you think?
KIM: Ah, you know what? I'm going to be honest. I'm used to it.
LAH (voice-over): Used to it all his life, but increasingly through the Pandemic.
Captured on cameras across the country, in San Francisco, attackers jumped a 67-year-old Asian man in a Laundromat. In Oakland, a man walked up behind a 91-year-old man, and threw him to the ground. In New York, a 61-year-old man was slashed cheek-to-cheek on the subway.
This elderly woman in San Francisco says a man punched her in the eye. She says she fought back.
MONTHANUS RATANAPAKDEE, FATHER ATTACKED: Happy birthday, dear Grandpa!
LAH (voice-over): But 84-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee didn't have a chance to fight. He was on his daily walk, in his Bay Area neighborhood, when an unprovoked attacker ran across the street.
RATANAPAKDEE: He got an injury very bad, by his brain, bleeding. And he never wake up again. I never see him again.
RUSSELL JEUNG, CO-FOUNDER, STOP AAPI HATE: The trends are clear. Our reports indicate that anti-Asian racism is on the upraise.
LAH (voice-over): Russell Jeung of "Stop AAPI Hate" says while only a few make headlines, his group has tracked 3,800 incidents, since March of last year, while Jeung cites former president Trump's rhetoric for inflaming racism.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With this terrible China virus.
I can name "Kung Flu."
JEUNG: This racism has been going on for centuries now. And it's just been resurrected during this COVID-19.
LAH (voice-over): Racism embedded in U.S. history. In 1882, the U.S. enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act. As depicted in this newspaper, they were the first racial group legally barred from entering the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All persons of Japanese descent were required to register.
LAH (voice-over): During World War II, the U.S. government imprisoned all people of Japanese descent, Americans denied their basic rights and possessions because of their race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Japanese descent.
LAH (voice-over): And the justice system has failed Asian Americans in the past. Two white men in Detroit beat Vincent Chin to death, in the 1980s, blaming the Chinese American victim for the Japanese auto industry. The Killers never spent a night in prison.
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Am I supposed to bow to say hello?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WATTERS: I like these watches. Are they hot?
LAH (voice-over): In popular culture, turning Asians into a joke or insult remains common, seen on television.
(VIDEO - JESSE WATTERS SWINGING NUNCHUCKS)
LAH (voice-over): Or heard on Congresswoman Grace Meng's office voicemail, which she shared on Twitter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, you look like a Chinese virus, you fat slob, or maybe Kung Flu.
LAH (voice-over): It is the message that you don't belong, that you can't ever belong, says Denny Kim. He was in the Air Force for four years. But after his attack, he feels he isn't welcome, in the country he served.
KIM: I just feel hurt because I have love for all people. But unfortunately, people don't feel the same about my race. And it hurts me a lot so.
CABRERA: Kyung, the stories you shared are just horrific. It's disgusting to see what's happening.
I should mention you are on the ground, in Boulder, right now, reporting on yet another mass shooting that we've suffered in this country.
But talk to us about your life in the last years.
We're both moms now. And my kids have started to ask me about their identity. I'm curious, have your children been asking questions? And what do you tell them about what's happening right now?
LAH: That's a really difficult conversation, especially in California. I live in Los Angeles.
My kids go to Los Angeles public school. It is predominantly kids of color, Black, Asian, and Latino. That's who makes up the Los Angeles public schools. And so, for them, diversity, kids of different colors, mixed race kids, because my kids are biracial, it is something that is just normal.
Their teachers now have made what's been happening to Asian people, across the country, part of the lesson plan. They need to talk about it.
And so, as parents, we have to bring up the conversation, something you don't want to do. But that certainly Black families have been having these conversations for a long time with their children, that there are going to be people who do not like you because of the way you look.
And it is just a fact. And it's something you need to be aware of. Don't be afraid of it. But you have to be aware of it.
CABRERA: Thank you, Kyung, for sharing your story, and your wonderful reporting. We appreciate it.
ANDERSON COOPER: Ana, Kyung, thanks.
Joining us now, an advocate for the Asian American community, for civil rights of all stripes, Actor, Writer, George Takei.
Also the Host of "THIS IS LIFE," here on CNN, my old friend, and longtime colleague, going back to our, I think, like early 20s, Lisa, although maybe you are even younger, Lisa Ling, joins us now.
Lisa, you say you grew up with racism. I've heard you talk about this. But has this past year been different since the Pandemic?
LISA LING, CNN HOST, THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING: Well certainly, Anderson. When the Pandemic took root in this country, I started to receive really ugly messages, blaming me, and my people, for bringing the Coronavirus to this country. And some are really, really vicious, even wishing harm on my family and my kids.
But if I'm being honest, and the young man in the - in Kyung's video said, I and most Asian Americans have experienced these kinds of micro aggressions, and aggressions for most of our lives. I was literally teased every single day throughout high school.
And it wasn't malicious. But because I was different, because there were so few Asians, it just gave kids a reason to tease me.
But Anderson, you mentioned where you and I started in journalism, we started a show called "Channel One News." You and I even shared an office. We were in our early 20s.
And I don't know if you know this, but when we were at Channel One, Rolling Stone magazine chose me, one year, as their "Hot Reporter." And it was such a moment of excitement and joy for me. It was such an honor.
And one day, someone had cut out - someone in our office had cut out that picture of me, and the article, and wrote "Yes, right," over the "Hot Reporter," and drew slanted Is over my eyes.
ANDERSON COOPER: Wow! I had no idea.
LING: And put it in my - well and someone put it in my mailbox. And I didn't tell anybody about it because I knew that once I walked out of my little office that anyone, who I interacted with, could have been that person, who put that in my mailbox.
And so, I just I compartmentalized it. I didn't tell anyone. I just kept it inside, like a good Asian girl does, I mean, so, you know, Amara, and some of the other people, who've spoken, have talked about how we just kind of keep our heads down.
And so, it's this moment, is out of this crisis, it's so interesting and comforting to hear the stories of so many other people, who have gone through these things, our whole lives.
And Asians have been scapegoated throughout this country's history or at least as soon as Asians first appeared here in America. And our country has done a good job of scapegoating people, who are considered "Others." And it can happen in an instant.
When we think back on 9/11, when Muslims and South Asians were scapegoated, when the economy starts going south, Latin Americans are scapegoated. Black Americans are scapegoated for so many things. Gay Americans, during the Cold War, were accused of, you know, of being Communists.
So, this is - this is a kind of a moment of reckoning for so many of us to recognize these trends that have happened throughout U.S. history, so that maybe once and for all, we can try and stop it.
WALKER: Yes. And Lisa, I mean, thank you for sharing your stories, because I can relate, I know George can relate, in terms of being made fun of your entire life, and being ashamed to even talk about it.
So the fact that we're even talking about it, on this national level, it really is comforting, and it really is therapeutic, in some ways.
And George, to you, I mean, you experienced anti-Asian racism in a way very few people today can relate to. You and your family were rounded up, sent to an internment camp, along with what was it, 120,000 other Japanese Americans, during World War II?
I'm curious to know, George, when you see what's happening now, some 80 years later, what's going through your mind.
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: There are the same echoes. I mean, we see people being attacked. After Pearl Harbor, this country was swept up by terror, and looking
at people that looked like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor, with fear, and suspicion, and outright hatred.
And, unfortunately, are the leaders of our country, then were being led by the masses, the hysterical racist masses. Every politician, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Fletcher Bowron made the statement, "No matter how many generations they're here, they're going to - they are still going to be Japs."
And the President of the United States, a great man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in the 30s, told the people that we're being crushed by this, that Depression, that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, but even that great man proved that he was not infallible.
He got swept up in the hysteria. And on February 19th, 1942, he signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered all Japanese Americans to be summarily rounded up with no charges, no trial, due process. The central pillar of our justice system simply disappeared.
We were rounded up and imprisoned in 10 barbed wire prison camps. Barbed wire fences, sentry towers, machine guns pointed at us, I remember that vividly. As a matter of fact, I went to - I began school, in the swamps of Arkansas in one of those prison camps.
My schoolhouse was a black tar paper barrack. And we started this school every morning, with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. I could see the barbed wire fence and the sentry towers, right outside my schoolhouse window, as I recited the words, "With liberty and justice for all."
So this, what's happening right now, all this terror, and it is horrific, is very resonant. The only difference I see is, well, not the only difference, for one thing, the President of the United States is a genuine leader.
Last week, he made that powerful speech. This is "Un-American," this anti-Asian hatred, "It is intolerable. And it's got to stop."
And the other positive thing is Asian and Asian American perspective is on the media. The media back, when we were in prison, was against us. But today, we have all these voices, journalists, professional journalists, talking from their vantage point.
WALKER: George, you raised so many good points.
But back to you, Lisa, because you've done a lot of reporting, on these Asian massage parlors, and I know you found that these women are some of the most marginalized people in our society.
There's so much fetishizing, stereotyping, of Asian women in America. I'm sure you and I could trade stories about that for hours.
But can you talk to us a little bit about how that contributes to violence against Asian American women?
LING: Well, I have seen so many people post on social media. They were involved in the sex industry or they, I mean, just that, that assumption alone is such a mischaracterization, given that we really don't have much information about these women's lives.
And I did a piece for "THIS IS LIFE," last season, about these massage parlors. And so many of these women, they don't speak English very well. They have found that this is their best opportunity to be able to make a living, and support their families, or send money back overseas.
They really are marginalized. Very often, they don't even live in the cities, where they are working. They might spend three months in one city and then move to another city for another three months with no days-off at all. So, they really are women, who have been living in the margins.
And the law enforcement taking this killer's word for it, that it was not racially motivated, to me, is just completely irresponsible.
And I just also - I want to just talk quickly about the significance of President Biden's proclamation, condemning the violence in Atlanta, and lowering the flags, at the White House, and all federal buildings, to half-mast.
America has had a long history of persecuting and scapegoating Asians. The internment of Japanese Americans is just one of so many examples.
And so, knowing that the flag, in front of the White House, where the President of the United States resides, are flying half-mast, is just, to me, it's such a powerful, symbolic gesture that really honors the lives of these women, who have lived in the margins, but who in so many ways have carried the weight of Asian American history on their shoulders without even knowing it.
ANDERSON COOPER: Lisa Ling, George Takei, thank you so much. Really fascinating, appreciate it.
Coming up next, you may recall an encounter between a Black man, in New York, out birdwatching, and a White woman walking her dog. It was captured on camera, and what it revealed was stunning. We'll talk to the man at the center of it, next.
And later, survivors of the mass killings, in El Paso, Mother Emanuel church, in Charleston, and the Tree of Life synagogue, on what it's like to know and live with the fact that they have been targeted, in no small part, because of who they are.
ANDERSON COOPER: Welcome back.
This hour is about honest conversation, but also looking for solutions. To that end, we asked you, via Twitter, "What can people do, to be an ally, to communities of color, in the fight against hate?" We're featuring some of your answers at the bottom of the screen.
Last May, you may remember an encounter that made headlines. A Black man, in New York Central Park, was bird-watching, and confronted by a White woman, who then called the cops on him, and said he was threatening her.
Christian Cooper recorded what happened on his cell phone
AMY COOPER, WHITE WOMAN WHO CALLED POLICE ON CHRISTIAN COOPER, A BLACK BIRD-WATCHER IN CENTRAL PARK: Sir, I'm asking you to stop.
CHRISTIAN COOPER, FILMED WOMAN CALLING POLICE ON HIM: Please don't come close to me.
AMY COOPER: Sir, I'm asking you to stop recording me.
C. COOPER: Please don't come close to me.
AMY COOPER: Please take your phone off.
C. COOPER: Please don't come close to me.
AMY COOPER: Then I'm taking your picture and calling the cops.
C. COOPER: Please, please call the cops. Please call the cops.
AMY COOPER: I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life.
C. COOPER: Please tell them whatever you like.
AMY COOPER: There is an African-American man. I am in Central Park. He's recording me, and threatening myself and my dog.
I'm sorry I can't hear you either. I'm being threatened by a man into the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately.
BLACKWELL: That woman was later charged for falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. The charge was later dismissed, after she completed education and therapy classes.
We're joined now by the man you heard in that video, Christian Cooper.
Christian, the issue of race, and exchanges with like that has always felt for me like "In case of emergency, break glass."
I mean, honest conversation, I know that if I'm in a situation like that, the other person has the hammer, to break that glass, if they ever feel too uncomfortable, or if it's a little too adversarial. And when I heard Amy Cooper say "An African-American man is
threatening my life," that call would have been no less urgent, if she just said "A man is threatening my life." She broke the glass.
How would - how would you describe, explain that awareness?
C. COOPER: Well, clearly she was trying to get an advantage in our confrontation. And she went to a very dark place. She tapped into a very dark vein in American history to do it.
And the most interesting - interesting thing I think in all of that is who she says it to. She says "I'm going to call the police, and I'm going to tell them that an African-American man is threatening my life."
I know I'm African-American. I've known it for years. So, why is she telling me that? She's telling me this to racially intimidate me, and try to get an upper hand in the confrontation.
So it's unfortunately not surprising that she went to that place because it is a very deep and strong vein in America. But it is unfortunate and we have to try and root it out.
BLACKWELL: Yes, for as valuable is this conversation about fear in communities of color, is we should also talk about the fear of communities of color.
Black men, three times, as likely, as Whites, to be killed in incidents with police. We've watched so many videos, like yours, of White women calling the police on Black people doing innocuous things.
C. COOPER: Right.
BLACKWELL: Being in a coffee shop, going to a university. We heard from the insurrectionists on the 6th wanting to take their country back.
Did you believe that if police showed up that they would even believe you?
C. COOPER: I have no idea. I don't like to speculate about that. It could have gone in any direction.
They could have gotten there, and thrown me to the ground, and cuffed me, or worse. Or, they could have gotten there, and looked at her, and said "What's up with her? She's a little unhinged." There's no way to know what would have happened.
I think you're right, that it's not just about being afraid. It's about people being made afraid. And I think that's one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet, is that there are people, in politics, who have made fear their platform. Fomenting fear is their business now. And that's the sum total of their platform for trying to remain in power. And we have to recognize that, and we have to, as individuals, push
back on it from - if they're bringing fear from the top-down, we've got to push back from the bottom-up, and say, "No, we're not going to stand for that. We're going to do what we can to make sure that that fear isn't spread."
BLACKWELL: Yes. What I had to be reminded of, and I think a lot of people may not remember is that this incident in Central Park, happened just a few hours before the killing of George Floyd, same day, in May, I believe it was May 25th, of 2020.
Once you heard what happened in Minneapolis, did that take on some additional poignancy for you?
C. COOPER: Yes, how could it not? Just what happened to me was important, in that it, let people see what was what you and I know, but a lot of, I think, White folk, other folk, didn't necessarily understand, didn't believe, so it was important in that respect.
But in terms of its consequences, it pales in comparison to what happened to George Floyd, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, what happened to Breonna Taylor, what happened, going back to Amadou Diallo.
And this is not - this is not new. This is something that has been going on for decades, for centuries.
This country has a tendency to, as we keep talking about other people, but with, in particular, with African-Americans, the tendency is we are, by the nature of our Brown skin, we can be identified as an inherent menace. And that is baked into the DNA of this country.
And we've got to find a way to root it out, because it's costing lives, our lives. And we can't fix it. It's up to other people to fix it.
BLACKWELL: Christian, you mentioned that the expectation or the thought that Black people, Black men specifically, are an inherent threat and innate danger, is baked into this country, there obviously needs to be some work done.
And listen, this is a great conversation. And I think it's good that we're having it. But it seems like every time there's an incident, involving race, we have these discussions. And these events continue.
Talk about the work that has to happen, and who has to do it, to change what we're seeing.
C. COOPER: Well, again, if we're talking specifically about "African- American equals menace," that's not something African-Americans can fix. That's something that other people have to fix, who aren't African-American.
They've got to pull themselves back and say, "Why am I reacting like this? Why am I having this response to this person, at this moment? They got to hit the pause button." And that's hard to do, when you're in the moment or something.
But you got to hit the pause button, and think it through, "Why is this happening? Why am I reacting this way? And is there maybe something else going on here subconsciously, that I'm not aware of?"
And then you got to make yourself aware of it and rethink your responses. That's a start. It's not easy.
And, honestly, we're all letting ourselves off the hook a little bit. Because, if we talk beyond just the fear of African-Americans, and we talk about what happened to the Asian Americans in Georgia, there's an othering that goes on in all directions.
And again, it's up to us, because there are people who are fomenting it from the top, who want us to be fearful and who want us to fear each other.
It's up to us, at the bottom, as ordinary folk, to push back and say, "OK, I'm not going to other that Asian person. I'm not going to other that Black person. I'm not going to other that Latino person. I'm not going to other that Trans person or that gay person." That's on us to do. That's the work we have to do.
BLACKWELL: That's an important point. Listen, our face - how we faced racism is different. It's not the same, but we are all facing it. So, we should not otherize other communities.
And we have some work to do, independent of people in power, White Americans, we have some bi-directional corrections and healing that we need to do within minority communities as well.
Christian Cooper, thank you so much.
ANDERSON COOPER: Victor, thank you, and Christian as well.
Of increased concern right now, in this country, Hate Groups. CNN's Sara Sidner has been reporting on Hate Groups for CNN since 2016.
Take a look at one encounter she had with a neo-Nazi, back in 2018.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL BURNSIDE, ULYSSES RESIDENT: And therefore, we have the possibility of becoming a minority in our own country. A possibility--
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It sounds to me--
BURNSIDE: --of becoming a minority in our own country.
SIDNER (on camera): --like you're afraid of being me. And being me--
BURNSIDE: This is my country.
SIDNER (on camera): --is great. BURNSIDE: This is--
SIDNER (on camera): This is also my country.
BURNSIDE: You guys didn't win the culture war.
SIDNER (voice-over): He invited us on his property, to talk. But when he doesn't like our conversation, he explodes.
BURNSIDE: Get the (BLEEP) out of here. (BLEEP) now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: All right, joining us now is Sara Sidner.
And Sara, as we just mentioned, you've been reporting on Hate Groups since 2016. And clearly, in that clip, you have no problem challenging them, as a reporter. You went toe-to-toe with hate.
Personally, what's it been like covering a story like that?
SIDNER: That particular story, that was Daniel Burnside, and he was in rural Pennsylvania.
And I had heard about him, and how he was affecting the community there. There was an article written. And the community felt as if they all were being colored with his same ideals. And so, it was really interesting dichotomy there, a very White community, small town, in Pennsylvania.
And he just exploded, like out of nowhere, because he said, "Yes, I'll talk to you." And so we were like, "OK." But when I started to push back, he then exploded.
He didn't like that every time he would say something that was just either patently false, or just extremely exceedingly racist, I would say "That's not true." And then he would, you know, it would sort of elevate his ire and anger.
But it might seem like a very strange and uncomfortable position to be in, as a person, like myself, who is mixed race, who is often despised by the extremists that I speak to solely for the existence, that I exist in this world.
SIDNER: It's equal parts brutal, on my soul, to know such hatred still exists, in 2021, because of the slightest difference in DNA, and kind of important for me, also, though, on a personal level, to understand how that's still around, how they came to feel this way, in a world where you can have an education? You have an entire world in front of you, on the computer.
But what I know when I'm talking to them, is that while they may hate me, I have the power to not hate them. And I don't hate them. For whatever potential messed-up psychology I might have that I want to know, I want them to know, they can't make me hate them.
And I see their hatred, I see their anger. And most of all, I see their fear of a changing America. But with all of those feelings, I also see their humanity. Is it difficult? Yes. Do I leave some times afraid? Of course.
I think about my family, I think about the fact that some of these folks have my phone number. And I've been doing this for quite a few years now. Some of these extremists have - groups have been extremely violent.
And then, on the other end of that, when I report on it, and try to explain who these people are, I get exacerbated.
I get - I'm endlessly getting my proverbial teeth kicked in, every time I speak to one of these extremists, because readers and viewers, some of them say, "Leave them under a rock. Don't give them a platform."
And I kind of thought that too for a while. But I also know that now, and you know this very well, many of the extremes groups, racists, they have a platform already that they are speaking to.
SIDNER: They're able to get to the masses without anyone challenging their notions. And that's kind of where I feel like I needed to step in. But it is treacherous. It's a treacherous and fine line to walk.
WALKER: Yes, you're so right on so many levels. And this country is facing a racial reckoning. And we still have to face our demons.
Sara Sidner, thank you so much.
ANDERSON COOPER: Yes, coming up, how race-fueled shootings have left a painful toll for the survivors, and their families, years later.
We'll talk to those left behind, after losing so much, in mass killings, around the country, as our CNN Special continues.
ANDERSON COOPER: Welcome back to the CNN Special hour, titled AFRAID: FEAR IN AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.
We want your voices heard, and we asked you to weigh in, via Twitter, on this question, "What can people do, to be an ally, to communities of color, in the fight against hate?" Some of your answers could be seen on the bottom of the screen throughout the program.
Investigators in Boulder are still trying to find a motive for the mass shooting at a grocery store. And then the mass killings in Georgia have led to gatherings across the country by Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, and their allies, calling for an end to racism against them.
But tonight, three people help remind us how racial and ethnic hatred fuels so many major attacks in this country, and how the pain from that prejudice can stay forever.
Andrew Torres lost two family members in the El Paso shootings that claimed 23 lives. Prosecutors say the suspect posted a racist and anti-immigrant manifesto shortly before the killings.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers continues to serve at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were shot dead, in the worst anti- Semitic attack in American history.
And Jennifer Pinckney's husband was the Pastor at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He was among nine people shot and killed by a racist White gunman at the historically Black house of worship.
Rabbi Myers, let's start with you. It has been just over two years, since 11 people were killed in the attack, on your Synagogue. I remember speaking to you, outside the Synagogue, in the days after.
What has it been like to carry that with you every day, to carry the knowledge that there are Americans out there that view you, Jews, as a problem that needed to be solved somehow with violence?
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: Well, thank you for having me. Anderson. It's a great question.
I grew up with anti-Semitism as a child, so it's not new to me. Nor is it new to Jews in America, in some regard. It's the world's oldest disease. It's been in existence ever since Jews have been in existence, which dates back millennia. So, it's not something new.
What really is different is the fact that an individual will resort to such an extreme way, to express their hatred of the Jewish community, to respond in such a violent manner. And that I think is what shocked the Jewish community. But anti-Semitism, it exists so. I wish I could say that it's something new, it's not.
CABRERA: Andrew, after you lived through the trauma, of losing two family members, two of them, in that horrific El Paso shooting, and now you're stuck, in this space, walking around with that fear, with that grief, living inside of you, to people who haven't personally experienced a tragedy like this, how would you describe the impact it's had on you, and the Latino community?
ANDREW TORRES, RELATIVE TO TWO EL PASO SHOOTING VICTIMS: I have always referred to El Paso, and I know that I'm not alone in this, as a bubble, for our community. We are the majority here with over 80 percent of the population being Hispanic or Latino.
I, myself am half Irish, and half Mexican, was raised here. And I have a deep sense of pride and love for this community. And I know that many people who are from here, they feel the exact same way.
When the El Paso shooting happened, what it essentially did was it burst this bubble of protection for us, where we understood that, despite us having different complexions of skin, despite some of us being more indigenous than others, despite some maybe White-passing, or whatever it may be that in our community that we all felt like we were all part of one.
And so, when the shooting happened, like I said, it burst this bubble, it burst this sense of protection that one would feel.
I can imagine, as the Rabbi felt, when he went into his synagogue, and how Mrs. Pinckney feel - felt when she was in her church. It's a sense of safety that will never be the same.
CABRERA: So, I have to ask you, with this surge, we are now seeing, of migrants again, at the border, right now, and a focus returning to immigration, do you worry about or have fear of another attack on the Latino community? Are you looking over your shoulder?
TORRES: Personally, I avoid large crowds. And I also avoid Walmart.
I avoid going to any place that gives me any sort of - any sort of reminder of what had happened here. I even just for a second, even being near that Walmart, it does give me anxiety, it does induce fear within me.
And I know that that's something that some people are, you know, can tell me, "You're not supposed to live in fear," but the reality is, is that we do live in this country, where mass shootings are happening every single week.
And so, where we have to go from here is that I think that I need to - I need to not be so afraid, by our government actually taking the proper measures, to ban these assault weapons that have been able to cause so much destruction within our country.
I think that right now, what we're seeing with the Biden administration, talking about the measures that he can do, to move forward with better background checks, limiting people to be able to get these guns, because I think that if we made it harder, for people to get AR-15s, as hard as it is for people to get mental health help, in a crisis, then we would not be so fearful.
I would not have to be so afraid, especially being on a border community, if I knew that something was being done, about these weapons being readily available in our society.
BLACKWELL: Mrs. Pinckney, I was in Charleston after that shooting, and there were people everywhere, bringing flowers, candles, in front of the church.
And you said in an interview, a couple of years ago that immediately after the shooting, there were lots of people around. Your phone was constantly ringing. But then, after a while, everything just stopped, and people moved on. Almost six years now, how are you feeling after this has now become silent for so many people?
JENNIFER PINCKNEY, CHARLESTON CHURCH SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, after hearing about - I'm actually doing all right.
And but whenever you hear about all of the mass shootings that's continuing to take place, it takes me back to that actual spot. It takes me back to Mother Emanuel. It takes me back to hearing the gunshots and the commotion that went on.
It takes me back to when all of the family members were in a hotel, waiting to hear about our loved ones. And then once they found out, you hear them screaming, and crying out, and so forth. It takes me back to when the Coroner told me that Clementa was one of the deceased.
The mass shootings continue to happen. And it's like you constantly relive it. Years may have passed, but you still can't help, but to think about your own, to your own self as to what happened to you.
And then your heart goes out to those individuals that have currently lost someone. You understand what they're going through. You understand just feeling just kind of lost and out of it, when you find out that your loved one has been brutally killed.
So, until you've walked in our shoes, you don't fully get it, you don't fully understand the grief of it. It's - you have to have been there, you have to have walked it to understand what someone else is going through.
I continue to stay strong. I have two girls, that, you know, they're - I'm raising them. And they're doing extremely, exceptionally well. And that's my main focus.
WALKER: To hear all your stories, it's so heartbreaking.
And Rabbi Myers, when you look at the rise of hate crimes, over the past few years, with 2020, actually having the highest number of hate- motivated killings, since the FBI started keeping records of that, in the 1990s, how does this get better, do you think?
MYERS: I think that communities that are being threatened, regardless of their religion, their color, their sexual orientation, we all need to work together, because there's far more that unites us than separates us.
We need to work together, to be able to help each other, to work through the challenges of living in America. America has not been a welcoming country to immigrants, despite the hopes of the Founders. That doesn't mean that it can't become something better. It's still democracy in progress.
So, any ways that we can work together, all of our communities, to be able to find our commonalities, work to make our country a better country, because it does have the potential.
ANDERSON COOPER: Andrew, I'm wondering what your message to people out there, who view you as "Other," who see Latinos, or Black Americans, or Jews, or Asian Americans as somehow "Other."
TORRES: Yes, Anderson. And the thing is, is that even within the white supremacists' viewpoint, even multiracial people are the "Other," right? So, even me, as a person who, quote-unquote, "Has skin in the game," according to these white supremacists, it still doesn't matter to them, right?
And so, for me, it really is something where we're just going to move forward, and in this world where, we're going to work with one another exactly how the Rabbi was saying.
He's so right in saying that it is only going to be an issue that will be properly addressed, once we all come together, and understand that this is something that we are all facing together, that this is something that the violence, the hatred, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the racism, every single thing together, it's all tied together, in what academics call an intersectional way. Every single thing is connected.
So, until we address everything together, until once again, we do something that has to do with, with gun reform, to send a strong message, to the rest of the country that we can no longer afford to lose any more lives, regardless of what group they belong to, we can no longer afford to have another mass shooting, being televised again, and again, and again, and again, there's something that needs to be done on a large-scale level between every single one of us.
And I think that that's something that will only happen by continuing conversations like this one.
ANDERSON COOPER: Yes. Andrew Torres, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Jennifer Pinckney, thank you so much for your time today. I'm sorry we're talking under these circumstances. I wish you all continued strength.
I want to also thank my Co-Anchors for this hour, Amara Walker, Victor Blackwell, and Ana Cabrera. Thank you so much for the genuine discussion and conversation.
That does it for this Special hour, AFRAID: FEAR IN AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES OF COLOR. For more resources, in the fight against hate, go to CNN.com/Impact.
The news continues now, here on CNN.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Top of the hour, this is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.
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