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The Van Jones Show
Exclusive Interview with Shawn Jay-Z Carter; Revisiting Charlottesville. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 27, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:19] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: I'm van Jones. This is the VAN JONES SHOW season one, episode one. Thank you for being here from the beginning. I appreciate you very much. Appreciate you very much.
Also, here, we have a local rapper, you may have heard of, the legendary, Shawn Jay-Z Carter is in the building, my first guest ever.
JONES: It is just so amazing.
Later, we are going to move from Jay-Z's American success story to the scene of an American tragedy, Charlottesville, Virginia where American Nazis marched and murdered. We are going back there. We are going to see how much healing has taken place. How much learning has taken place since homegrown white terrorist tore apart an American town. So you are going to see that, too.
But first, let's just talk, you know. Where are we today, as a nation, as we start this show?
Trump, year one is done. This is year two. And I call it a tale of two presidencies, alright? You all may not like this. But here is the messy truth about it.
Things are actually better than many Trump supporters had hoped and they are worse than many Trump opponents had feared. So you have to admit this. You have to look at it honestly. The economy is actually doing pretty well, so far, under Trump. Many people had predicted a stock market meltdown, if you want. But the reverse actually happened.
Trump actually continued Obama's bull market and accelerated it. Which means my 401(k) looks pretty amazing right now, and so does yours. I mean, that is the truth. And unemployment numbers, they were going down under Obama. They kept dropping. Still dropping. The tax cut made a bunch of people happy. So Trump's supporters, honestly, have a great deal to be relieved and even excited about.
But -- but -- but, record numbers of Americans cannot stand this President. They live in daily outrage and fear about what he is doing to us, as a country. We now have a commander-in-chief who picks fights with truth seeking journalists, with his own FBI agents, with football players. But he somehow bungled the chance to stand-up forcefully to Nazi terrorists and to Russians messing up our elections. We have a President who is still demonizing immigrants, who has left hundreds of thousands of American citizens in Puerto Rico, right now, without electricity, still. Remember that? They are still there. He's got nothing for them, who casually threatens nuclear war, who dismisses the climate crisis, who wanted an accused pedophile in the U.S. Senate and who allegedly gave hush money to a porn star mistress.
Just so insane. He creates so many controversies every day, nobody can even keep up anymore. And the madness has divided the country so much that half of us can barely speak to the other half, half the time.
So here is the contradiction. Our economy is coming up. But, our society is coming apart. That's the truth. Now, which one of those two facts is more important to you? And it matters a lot because this year, in November, we, the people, finally get to vote again. We get to vote.
JONES: So, you know, we have to get smart about how we see this situation. This show is designed to pop these bubbles we have all been living inside of to get a better insight in how your fellow Americans feel about stuff. And you can't understand politics today, without understanding the whole picture from media and culture at the highest levels all the way down to grass roots movements at the deepest levels. From the women of Me Too to yet including these white supremacists who call themselves the alt right.
I'm a bit believer that no one person, party or candidate have all the answers. So we are going to be using everything from road trips to social media to hear directly from you. So, from the unknown to the infamous to the famous, everybody has got a place in this conversation on this show.
And, speaking of world famous, with the rise of Trump, pop culture has taken over politics. And now, politics is taking over pop culture. There is only one man who can help us understand all of that and more. He is the founder of rock nation. He is the co-owner of the streaming service called Title. He is a 21-time Grammy winner. He has a house made out of Grammy's. And he got eight more tomorrow night.
Please welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW Shawn Jay-Z Carter. Yes.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Please welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW, Shawn "Jay- Z" Carter. Oh yeah.
JONES: Good to see you.
SHAWN "JAY-Z" CARTER, RAPPER: That's right. That's right. JONES: This is nuts. This Is Crazy.
CARTER: Nice, man - you know. They hooked you up. You have a nice spot here
JONES: No - no -- they did me up right.
CARTER: Yeah, they did.
JONES: When they heard you were coming. I never knew how many people loved me and cared about my career until you said you were coming. I have cousins who said I just want to be there to support you. I got a mixed tape, you know? Anyway, it means a lot to have you here.
CARTER: Thank you.
JONES: You know, this album, the 4:44 album, you've got these all the awards and nominations, one of the things that blew my mind though, is the video on "Family Feud" and you show Blue Ivy, having grown up to either save the world or take over the world and she's rewriting the Constitution and all that type of stuff.
And it's just beautiful. Just so powerful to show women of color with that kind of standing. But, Blue Ivy must be dope man for you to believe sort of see that kind of level in her. What is it about Blue Ivy that you love so much that you wanted to do a song like this about her?
CARTER: She is special, man. She's someone who has definitely been here before. Everyone says that, but I believe that. She's so in tuned to her feelings and others and how other people feel. We were seeing a fire from our house- the fires most (ph) recently in Los Angeles. And it was fall off - and she just seen smoke and started crying. She said I don't want anyone to be hurt.
CARTER: That's the type of --
CARTER: -- empathy and the human being she is at such a young age. And that concept was dreamed up by myself and Ava.
JONES: Ava Duvernay?
CARTER: Yeah. I wish we coulda taped the phone conversations because they were beautiful - just dreaming up this world where there are no more firsts for black people. Like all the firsts had been accomplished. So let's move that out of the conversation.
CARTER: That conversation is done. So where do we go from here? It was just a beautiful thing that we dreamt up and I'm glad that people respond to it. (APPLAUSE)
JONES: You don't even realize what you are missing in the culture until somebody shows it to you. You know, we have a lot of -- you know, black people have a lot of history, but little very future. We have a whole month for black history, but we don't even have like a black future weekend.
Like we've never talk about the future. So you know, to be able to see that and also to be able to see it so women-centric - in this me too moment and this time's up moment -- does that give you hope for your daughter? How do you make sense of the new rise of women's voices?
CARTER: Yeah I think - again, I believe everything happens for a reason. You know, everything is a learning experience, you know, the good, bad and the ugly. And, you know, this had to happen to purge itself. You know? For, you know, men who have been in position for so long and then of course if you're in that position of power to abuse your power, you get drunk on success.
It's like human nature, if you go unchecked. It takes a really special person to have that sort of power and not wield it --
JONES: -- not abuse it.
CARTER: -- yeah, in the wrong way. So, you know, it has to happen. This -- movement and everything that is going on and this, and what we are finding out, it's like everything else. It's like racism and everything. It existed the whole time. And we just, it's almost like we normalized it.
The normalization of the things we have to do to survive, like, for women to, like, go to work knowing this sort of abuse was happening every day - happening every day. Because you can look and, you know, logically, you'll say why would you stay there? What is the alternative? What is the alternative? You have to survive in America. And in order to survive, you have to normalize it. So this has been going on. So for it to get uncovered, and the world to correct itself --
JONES: That's beautiful.
CARTER: -- this is what has to happen.
JONES: Well you know, you now have two daughters to worry about. You have twins. I'm here to warn you about something --
CARTER: I'm not worried about my children.
JONES: Go ahead --
CARTER: That's the thing - I know it's a word, but I don't even want to put that out there in the world, you know what I'm saying? I'm hopeful for my daughters. I'm --the amount of information that we'll give them and the amount of love between those two things, they'll be fine.
JONES: They'll be all right.
JONES: I love how you keep it positive. I will say, you have a set of twins?
JONES: I want you to know something, I'm a twin. I have a twin sister, her name is Angela. Hello, Angela. And just be prepared because twins are no joke. We can telepathically scheme on the parents.
JONES: I'm going to cry from 1 to 3 a.m. and then you pick it up from -- are they driving you nuts? We drove our parents nuts. How is it having twins as a super dad?
CARTER: It's actually -- we are in a beautiful time right now because they are seven months and they can't move. They just cool. They just cool. You don't have to, wait, wait, wait. They are not running anywhere, yet. We are going to enjoy these couple months.
JONES: Speaking of running, Blue Ivy got to run around in the Obama Whitehouse a little bit. Do you think these twins will running around the Trump white house?
CARTER: No. Not a shot.
JONES: But why not? I was thinking about this.
CARTER: We won't be invited, first of all.
JONES: But I mean - well Trump could - but listen, I'm the first hip hop president. I'm getting beast with people. I like bling. I got a plane. You can make a play. What if he made a play?
CARTER: He doesn't have the struggles, right? That's the key. That's the key.
JONES: I want to talk to you about this. As a parent, trying to raise black kids, with all the positivity we give them, we have a president that says every African country is a shit hole country. How does that land with you, as a dad?
CARTER: Yes, it's disappointing and hurtful. It is hurtful, moreso. Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it's really hurtful because he's like looking down on a whole population of people. You are so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and
beautiful everything. It's just this is the leader of the free world speaking like this. But on the other side, this has been going on.
This is how people talk. This is how they talk behind closed doors. It was a moment when Donald Sterling had been exposed as this racist on a private phone conversation that he was having.
It's like, OK, that's one way to do it. Another way would have been to have his team and let's talk about it together and let's -- maybe some penalties because once you do that, all of the other closet racists just run back in the hole.
You haven't fixed anything. You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something and you create a superbug because you don't take care of the problem.
You don't take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug. And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.
JONES: It's a really good point. Sounds like you're almost --
CARTER: Donald Trump is a human being, too. I just like want you -- I'm being funny, I say that, too. Somewhere along his lineage, something happened to him. Something happened to him and he is in pain and he is expressing it this sort of way.
JONES: In the hood, you see that a lot. Sometimes people acting out the worst because the worst happened to them.
CARTER: That's right.
JONES: To give him a little bit of credit too, he is somebody who is now saying, look, I'm growing - I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration.
Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service, but no jobs. He may say terrible things, but putting money in our pockets. Does that make him a good leader?
CARTER: No because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then -- that's the main point.
You can't treat someone like -- it goes back to the whole thing, you going to treat me really bad and pay me well. It's not going to lead to happiness. It's going to lead to, again, the same thing.
Everyone is going to be sick. The point about that, yes, on a Democrat side is, yes, it's been a lot -- that's what opened the door for this sort of presidency, right? For many years, guys -- Middle America, they have been voting Democrat because that's what they were -- their family did. They did it as a replay. It's like - yes, yes. And their needs wasn't addressed.
It was more so, "OK, let's get this vote because this vote" -- it became about votes, not people. That's my problem with government is, I think they forget that it's real people behind these decisions they are making.
They're not -- we are not 25,000 votes in this area. It's people going through real things in real time and real pain. When you ignore those -- that pain for so long, people act out. It's like now "I want to see something different, I don't know." That opens the door for what we are living through now.
JONES: The thing I want --
JONES: Yes, exactly. The thing that is so beautiful about you and so beautiful about what you are doing is that for so long, hip hop was this sort of pose of boasting and accusing. "I'm great, you suck." And also, that's what politics has now become.
JONES: "My party is great, you suck." And all accusation, no confession, with your album, you have come out with a confessional hip hop. If people in D.C. were as honest as you, we would have no problems at all. I want to appreciate you for what you are doing.
CARTER: Thank you.
JONES: -- Coming up, we have been fighting on the same side of a really, really tough issue we believe in, but first, I told you I wanted you to hear from the voices of real people on the show and I meant it. So, I went out on my social media channels, and I asked you to send me videos of how Trump is doing. Take a look at what the American people have to say.
JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW. I'm talking to my guest, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter - I might make him my co-host. You know you are just so good at so many things, but one of the things people don't know that you are and that you're good at, is that you are actually a sports agent.
You decided not only to change the game in music, but also you saw athletes being taken advantage of - and you now represent athletes through Rock Nation. So I got a question for you. Colin. Colin Kaepernick. You know, here is a guy, he is now I think an American hero, sticking up for civil rights, sticking up for police reform, sticking up for the first amendment.
He's a legend, he's going to go down with the Muhammad Alis or whatever -- but he lost his job. If you were his sports agent, Jay-Z is a sports agent for Colin Kaepernick, and before this all happened, he said I want to do this, would you have said do it, don't do it? Council the brother.
CARTER: Oh 100 percent do it.
CARTER: Look how many people play football. They're not all going to be him. Like you just put his name next to Muhammad Ali. Would you rather be playing football getting your head dinged in or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life? A job, I think people, again, we confuse the idea of having a job with fulfilling your purpose. Yeah
JONES: It turned into church.
CARTER: Everybody is like, hmm --
JONES: Somebody else we both care about is Meek Mill. You know, he's a part of the Rock Nation family, a terrible judge sent him back to prison for maybe two or three years for a minor probation violation. But that would have been a time a lot of business people cut ties. Rather than cutting ties, you doubled down, tripled down - you're fighting for him right now. Why are you taking a such a strong stand for Meek Mill?
CARTER: Well, Meek is a beacon - right? He's a vessel - the light goes through -- he brings attention to the issue. Because this is not the first time this happened. This is, unfortunately, in America, this happens with black and brown people way too often.
JONES: What happens?
CARTER: When you are on probation - you're on this paper, you do a crime, whatever time you do. And then you're on paper for - he's been on probation for 11 years.
JONES: Eleven years for a fairly minor offense.
CARTER: Eleven years. So, now it's almost like you are tethered to this thing and they are just waiting for you to do something wrong. And you know, every time something happens, the guy popped a wheelie. He was shooting a video and popped a wheelie in the street, which is a minor offense, right? It's like your kid goes to a skateboard park and skates where he's not supposed to and someone gives him two years.
JONES: Two years in prison.
CARTER: In prison. And again - Meek comes from a tough neighborhood. So he's gone through trials and tribulations. We are not sitting here confessing he's some angel, but in this particular incident, you know, the whole system needs to be reworked the way it played (ph) out.
JONES: What's amazing about you is you are not just doing it for him. You are not rapping about it, you're actually out here really fighting for stuff. You wrote that piece in "The New York Times" about the bail industry and how the bail industry is a huge racket. I took inspiration for your piece and I actually made my own video explaining it to people. Because people don't know what's going on. Check out this video explainer that I did on the bail bond industry that you have been writing about and fighting about as well.
(BAIL BOND INDUSTRY EXPLAINER VIDEO)
JONES: You actually executive produced a documentary about Kalief Browder, that young man that was held in jail for three years and hadn't been convicted of anything. And so much you're doing -- why do you care, personally so much about the issue of criminal justice reform? Because you are all over it.
CARTER: I have a friend who got killed in jail. I come from these neighborhoods. I know Kalief Browder. So when I seen this story in New York, I reached out to him before all this happened. You know, I met with him, he came to the office. I just wanted to give him some words of encouragement. And he left, he was pursuing his GED.
He was in the Bronx, I think. I'm not sure. You know, I have seen this story so many times. I haven't seen it -- in the case of Kalief, I thought it had a happy ending. He came home, he went through the worst. He got through it all. He came home, he was pursuing -- he was in college - he had an OK -- and then two weeks later, it was like he committed suicide.
JONES: You know, mental health, trauma, PTSD is so rampant in our community. As scared as black folks are of the cops, we are more scared of therapists. We are not trying to go to therapy.
CARTER: Yeah, it's a stigma.
JONES: It's a stigma - it's a stigma and people are dying. You went to therapy, you talk about it -- how did you get over the stigma of going to therapy and then talking about it? Because you might save a life talking about that.
CARTER: Well, as you grow, you realize the ridiculousness of the stigma attached to it. It's like what? You just talk to someone about your problems, you know. And I think actually it should be in our schools. You know, I mean children - children have the most going on - their minds aren't fully developed. You know, teenagers and drinking and you're doing damage to your brain. You know, all these things that happening to you and you don't know how social anxiety and all these things that happen to you, you don't have the language. You don't have the language to navigate it. How can you navigate it? How can you know when a guy is bullying you? All you have to do is say, you okay? We could change the whole thing.
JONES: The whole dynamic (ph). Those kind of tools and skills are what (ph) you get out of therapy, which we don't have enough of in our community. But we are going to come back. More with Jay-Z. We are going to be talking about the Grammy's - diving into the new album. But first, here is more of what you had to say about the state of our union.
JONES: All right. We are back with Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. Now look, this is a huge weekend for you. You are nominated for eight Grammy's tomorrow -- tonight. It's eight more than you, by the way, in case you were wondering on the math. And also tonight you are receiving the Industry Icon Award for your music and (INAUDIBLE). Unbelievable stuff.
JONES: But I want to get into this album. I feel like the "4:44" album is a breakthrough into freedom for you, personally and, really for all of us. Nobody cared more about freedom, that I know, than Prince.
And you give a shout-out to Prince on the album, which really touched me. A lot of people don't know that you were his business partner. You were the last person he wanted to do business with.
After he beat the music industry, he wanted to be with you. Tell us about the significance of that relationship between "Prince" Rogers Nelson and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter for you.
CARTER: It was deep for me. It really was because just to watch this guy and how brave he was. This man put slave on his face at a time we all were like, "man, Prince is weird."
And then come to find out, he was fighting for his masters the whole time. He was fighting for his freedom the whole time. And for him to come -- he came to me. I didn't even have the nerve to call him and say -- he came to me, said "I know what you are doing. I'm going to give you all my work." A person fought for his work their whole entire life to come to your office and say, "I know what you are doing, here." It was deep for me.
JONES: You explained how you feel about him. I want to tell you how he felt about you because I worked close with him, too. And he -- Brother, he saw you as being the one who finally beaten the system that had beat down black entertainers for a century.
And for him, he loved Egypt and he talked about Egypt and when Africans were builders and owners and stuff and he saw you in that light, of a black builder, owner, and wanted to make sure that you knew that he had your back.
And for me to see a brother -- see a brother, he didn't just -- he had love for everybody. He didn't have respect for everybody. He had respect for you brother. And I just want you to know he --
CARTER: Thank you.
JONES: So, let me move on. This album is a gateway drug to freedom. I mean, it is unbelievable what you have been able to do. It's about financial freedom. Everybody talks about the O.J. song, like it's about O.J.
That song is an ode to financial freedom. I never saw a rapper rapping about investing in art, collector art, and buying property and real estate. How important for the African American freedom agenda is intergenerational rational wealth, being able to give your kids good advice, but goods.
CARTER: That's right. How important? When you have your own independence and you're bringing something to the table, you can ask for something. You can say "it's not right." You can ask for something.
Until you - until we come to the table as a collective with our own power base -- in our entertainment, that's our natural resource. Until we come to the table with our own - as well as other things, with power base, nothing will change. It will not change.
You can talk. We can riot. We can rally. Nothing will change until we are providing a service, and we're not the entertainment. It's not like I'll pay you and when you leave, I'll pay the next guy.
JONES: We have to own it.
CARTER: We have to own. We have to own what we produce.
JONES: Prince said "if you don't own the master, then the master owns you". That's about freedom. More freedom in your album, freedom for the LGBT community. Your song about your mother coming out the closet, "Smile," I mean it's beautiful.
And then the video is so beautiful, showing African American women in such a beautiful, respectful, and subtle way. What did it mean to you to be able to write a song like that about your mother?
CARTER: It was beautiful. Really, I was 3/4 of the way done with the album and my mom had came to me and she was like - she said something. I know when she had something on, this is her thing.
She gets a movement. She's like -- and I'm like, "what's happening?" She said, "I think I'm in love." And we had never spoke like that. We always knew that she was gay her whole life, and we just never addressed it.
And the fact that she trusted me -- she felt so safe with me that she could say that, one, and, two, the fact that she -- I just felt the weight of the world fall of her -- I cried. I don't believe in crying for happy moments.
I'm from (INAUDIBLE) Project. We cry for happy? Who does that? I didn't think that was a real thing. You know what I'm saying? And I literally cried. I was just so happy for her that she didn't have to hide anymore.
And so I wrote this song and I couldn't wait. And so, I played it for her and she said "absolutely not." I was like, "wait, no, no, but this is beautiful. Like, this is freedom. People tell your story, you get to tell your own story."
And then, she had to sit with it. Because you got imagine, she had been holding this in her whole life. So, it took her a second and when she overcame that fear, she wrote that poem at the end and she flew to where I was at. I talk too much, huh?
JONES: No, I'm talking too much. If nothing, shut up and let Jay do Jay. We'll see you next weekend. But, no, I just am thinking about so many black people have still that stigma.
JONES: And they'll say "well, I love the person, but I can't love that lifestyle." How does that sound when you think about your mother?
CARTER: I don't even understand that. It's another form of oppression and it's no different than people looking at black people for how they carry on with their life.
What anyone does in their own bedroom, and their own freedom of America -- we live in America. This is - to be free, that's the whole ethos of the country. The whole things was built on that, right, correct? It's, again, it's a negative way of looking at it.
JONES: The other freedom I see in the album is the freedom for couples who have gone through something.
JONES: You know, it's amazing. It's almost a cliche, the celebrity couple, they get together, they break up. I'm like well who else are they going to go out with. But for some reason, you took an unprecedented stand to fight for this marriage. I mean, to fight for it and to put it all out there. What is it about this marriage that's so special that you would fight this hard to keep it?
CARTER: It's my soulmate, the person I love. You can be in love with someone - you can love someone and if you haven't experienced love, and you don't understand it and you don't have the tools to move forward, then you are going to have complications, period.
And if you -- you can either address it or you can pretend until it blows up, at some point. And you know, for us, we chose to fight for our love, for our family, to give our kids a different outcome. See? To break that cycle. For black men and women, you know, to see a different outcome, like you were saying, it's not celebrity -- we were never a celebrity couple. We were a couple that happened to be celebrities.
JONES: That's good. CARTER: Like real people.
JONES: Yeah. What advice would you have for men who have caused pain in marriages? I mean what -- it's easy. I mean somebody like you --
CARTER: The best policy changed behavior, right? But, change behavior, one. And then, also, you have to, you know, you have to acknowledge. You have to acknowledge the pain. You have to let that person have their say. You have to -- have to get on the floor, get on the mattress and you have to really work through it and really be honest and no matter how many times, it takes a while. It's hard. It's very difficult. It's difficult to hear, difficult to say, difficult you know, to listen to that sort of pain. You just have to be strong enough. You have to be strong enough to go through that. Because on the other side, it's beautiful. You know, in our case.
JONES: That's the level of strength on both sides. If the shoe had been on the other foot, the transgressions on her side, do you think you would have been as forgiving of her as she was of you?
CARTER: I hope. Again, because I love her the same way - no matter what side I love her the same way. I pray I will because of her strength and her, you know -- she is the strongest woman I know - her and my mother. They battling for number one.
JONES: You know, I just want to say to you, you are blazing a trail, you know, for a lot of us to follow - you know, financially, culturally. The idea of confession can save so much pain and suffering in politics and every place else. I honor you. One of the guys said just make sure you ask him before he leaves, you know, is he in the illuminati -- I said I'm not going to ask that, but are you?
CARTER: I'm in the new illuminati, yeah?
JONES: Let's give it up for Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter - our very first guest on the VAN JONES SHOW. Oh that was good - that was good. But look -- we are going to turn from one of our brightest stars to one of our darkest moments when we get back, August, 2007 in Charlottesville, Virginia. I traveled there to see how the residents feel about these confederate monuments and the Nazi-inspired murder that shocked the world. I'm going to take you there when we come back. Thank you and thank you, Jay-Z.
[19:43:03] JONES: Let's give it up for Sean Carter.
JONES: We are going to turn from one of our brightest stars to one of our darkest moments when we get back, August, 2007 in Charlottesville. I went there to see how they feel about the monuments. I'm going to take you there when we come back. Thank you and thank you, Jay-Z.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:47:21] JONES: We have had a wild and turbulent year like last year. Nothing shocked the nation like August, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. I mean, everybody was watching in just horror. You had Nazi, white nationalists and their supporters. They that gathered at a hate-filled protest. The demonstrations actually turned into a violence that killed a young woman name Heather Heyer who was just there to stand up against the hatred.
Two state troopers died, many more people are hurt. And at the center of it, the simmering controversy over the removal of a statue, honoring a confederate general named Robert E. Lee.
Now President Trump made it worse, instead of condemning the white supremacists he actually tried to defend people on both sides, whatever that means.
Now Charlottesville has become a slogan, but it's still a real place, with real people. And sometimes, the best place to have a real conversation is when you are driving someplace. So I went there and got a van. That's right, van got a van. And I picked up some conservatives and a liberal. Take a look at what happened next.
JONES: Charlottesville. Here we go.
What's up, Tanner.
TANNER HEIRSCHFILED, STUDENT: How is it going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see them land. I don't see fords.
JONES: They are in the trunk.
Listen, they don't have good seats. They let anybody drive. Looking around here, you would never think that this is a place where Nazi's were marching, where someone was murdered, ISIS-like, terrorist tactics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we are at Lee Park. And as you can see, the statue of Harvey Lee is covered with black shroud.
JONES: When you see that statue there shrouded, how do you feel about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that it's terrible because I think it's a misrepresentation of who put the statue up. The statue was put up by Charlottesville greatest benefactor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That statue was put up as a way of telling black and brown people, you go this far, no further.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aster, what do you base statement hat on, that they were put there for that purpose? Because that's - well, that is contrary to anything I know about Paul good old McIntyre.
JONES: Do you think the statue should stay up or take down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it is up to the citizens --.
JONES: But if you have a vote?
[19:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I have to vote I would have say, you know, I think they should stay. I think they have been there. They serve as a reminder --. I think Robert Lee led a life (INAUDIBLE).
JONES: Robert E. Lee was considered great in his own era.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By whom? Yes, by whom?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the government of the United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was considered a traitor. He was considered great by those people who were in his circle.
JONES: How would you feel if you were a black man or a black woman having -- you talk about generations of enslavement and brutalization, how would you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that as a white person I will ever completely understand how a black person feels.
JONES: One way to understand, of course, is just to listen.
Can you empathize with him as a white man how he would feel to see those statues shrouded without black tarp?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say it has never been the truth in human history that heritage is based on fear and hatred of the other is strong enough to help someone to live a life.
JONES: Is it OK for white guys to be proud?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't know what it's in his heart or head. I don't know why he would be proud of them but could at least proud of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are statues to honor great American soldiers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't feel that same pride as I would for, you know, my grandfather who fought in World War II.
JONES: How do you feel about that sign that says hell or highway?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rest in peace, baby. A mother's child is gone. A community member is gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were a number of people, including the President of the university, who said don't go downtown. Stay away from downtown. And it was the concept of if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, does it make any noise. JONES: Somebody might mistake you as saying it was Heather Hayer's
fault for coming down here. You don't feel that way, do you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. I don't feel it was her fault. But my point is that nobody who stayed away from downtown Charlottesville was killed by neo-Nazis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People of good sound mind did not believe the way to handle the situation was to pretend that they weren't there and nothing was going to happen.
JONES: You are a young white male who is a conservative and you are seeing in your own peer group people being pulled to some of these very atrocious ideas. What are we missing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They interpreted or misinterpreted Trump's message to something that they identified with. And I think they have infiltrated and co-opted (ph) this -- the Republican Party as their platform to spread their hate. And I think we have done a bad job of telling them that they cannot do that.
JONES: Trump himself sometimes says and does things that seem to be giving aid and comfort to some of these very negative elements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Donald Trump, I voted for him. When he didn't unequivocally condemn the Nazis in Charlottesville, that was very upsetting to me.
JONES: What good is it going to do to take these statues down? How does this advance getting jobs for black people? How does this advance education?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problem is that so much of what this city is about is so intertwined with this stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The statues are a distraction. We do have these major, major issues of economic disparity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The real issue is, again, is this country going to be America? Is it going to be great for everybody or is it going to be great just for a few. When people tell me about the good old days, I don't know what they are talking about.
I was born at the university of Virginia hospital in the basement where the colored babies were with the led pipes dripping in 1955.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was likewise born in the University of Virginia hospital in 1952. But I'm sure on a higher floor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm glad that now if your grandchildren and my grandchildren were to have their babies they would be in the same maternity ward.
JONES: Might be the same baby. (LAUGHTER)
JONES: Even when we disagree, we should at least try to understand each other. And on this show we are going to keep trying to do just that.
Now let's end on some good news. My mother is able to watch this show tonight. And that's something of a miracle. She's in her 70s. She is very sick with multiple sclerosis, you know. And her health just nose-dived this time last week. She is in a hospital. She is surviving but thanks only to a feeding tube. So, you know, my family is a lot like your family. We have our ups and downs and crazy stuff.
But last week everybody came together. We put all our divisions aside. And showed up and in person or in prayer we showed up. And guess what? They took the tube out and my mama went home this week.
[19:55:40] JONES: So it got me thinking -- thank you. Thank you.
You know, it got me thinking, though. You know, it's so sad. Politics has just torn apart so many American families. So I am giving you my first Van Jones challenge. I want you to reach out to one estranged family member. Now, not some scary person who may hurt you. I mean, just somebody you haven't get along with and tell them one thing you love and appreciate about them. Just one thing and let it go. Who knows? You might just get a miracle in your family, too. I hope so.
This is Van Jones on VAN JONES SHOW. Thank you for being here. See you next time. Peace and love for one another.