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The Van Jones Show
Jim Parsons Interviewed; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Talks Prison Reform; Political Discussion with Native Americans. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 02, 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: Good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW.
We have got a powerful program tonight. We have got the hilarious star of the most watched sitcom on television, the Big Bang Theory. He had got four Emmys. He has got a great play on Broadway. He has got a brand-new film coming out that's going to raise a lot of eyebrows for all the right reasons. Jim Parsons is in the building.
JONES: We got Jim Parsons. I love it.
JONES: Plus, we got another installment of Van in a van. That's my thing. This time, I take my van to Utah. I get a chance to talk to some Native Americans. Some are pro-Trump, some anti-Trump. They get into it. You are going to get some completely original perspectives.
But first, let's talk. Look, it is really easy to get overwhelmed every day by this torrent of tweets and crazy news, but I want to talk about serious stuff. Even in this flood of insanity, there are some events and some trends that really do matter. Now, it's bad enough that Americans seem to be losing our sense of a shared national identity. That's bad enough. But a deeper level, I'm starting fear that we are losing our shared sense of humanity. Both with people around the world and even for each other.
For example, in Puerto Rico, a new Harvard study came out. It says that more than 4,600, 4,600 American citizens lost their lives in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. That's about as many people that's died in 9/11, in Hurricane Katrina combined. It's an ongoing emergency. People still dying. And yet no reaction. No reaction.
And then there was last month's tragedy in the holy land. Now, whether you blame Hamas or Israel, dozens of Palestinian protesters, human beings, lost their lives. And you don't have to pick a side to know this. Everybody on all sides should be horrified. We should still be in a moment of soul searching, trying to make sure it never happens again, but again, no reaction.
And then there's a heartbreak on our own border, American immigration officials are separating parents from their children. And not just folks climbing through fences, jump up the wall, when mothers who follow the proper procedure to win asylum in the U.S., a process that can take months, are being kept apart from their own children.
Now President Trump wants to spin this and blame Obama. Blame the Democrats. It's true. Under certain circumstances, separating families did happen before. But it's being used much more aggressively now with 100 percent no tolerance policy. And Trump's chief of staff just shrugged it off, snatching babies away from mothers is a tough deterrent to would be immigrants.
Hold on a second. Justice send a political message? When did it become OK in America to traumatize children and terrify mothers? You know, Republicans are supposed to be a pro-life, pro-family party. Now, surely, pro-family Republicans and Democrats could work together to stop this. But so far, again, very little reaction. Very little outrage.
This really bothers me. You know, Americans don't have trouble getting outraged. We are outraged every day, all the time, about little stuff. We focus our energy on the transgressions of the big personalities. Donald Trump, Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee, but not the tragedies of everyday people.
So let's not get so exhausted by the comparatively trivial that we got no energy left to deal with the truly tragic. Let's not get so divided over all these policy differences that we forget we are dealing with people, real people who love their lives, who love their kids and need to do a better job looking out for one another.
So in these dark times, we need some hope. We need some light. We need folks on how to make us laugh and think. Nobody does that better than my next guest.
Please welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW, from the Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons in the house. Hello. Hello. Welcome.
JIM PARSONS, ACTOR, THE BIG BANG THEORY: Thank you very much. Hello.
JONES: You look like hop a long Cassidy.
PARSONS: I have a little boot.
JONES: Did you kick too much butt?
PARSONS: No, I have been, I don't know what I have been doing. I have lost my balance on stage, curtain call. Went down, twisted my ankle. Tore a tendon and cracked the foot. I mean, honestly. But I'm back. You know. Miracle of modern medicine.
JONES: We are glad you are back.
PARSONS: PARSONS: Thank you.
JONES: You have come through worst stuff. I mean, you were born in Texas.
[19:05:03] PARSONS: That wasn't worse. I love Texas.
JONES: I love the red states, too. But, you know, being a gay kid in Texas, when you were growing up, did you ever imagine that the top paid actor on television would be a gay guy, you?
PARSONS: Neither of those facts that I think, no. I mean, I didn't think in those terms in so many ways. It was really more about just getting by in life and figuring out who I was and how I could live happiest. And one thing led to another that both my own life gone a certain way and the world and the country has gone a certain way that has allowed the moment we are in now to exist.
But it's a tricky thing, isn't it? I mean, you know, two steps forward, one step back. And I don't think, you know, listening to the beginning stuff that you were talking about and don't even have to listen to just that. Just wake up in the morning and turn on the TV. It's a very interesting time and feels like we are in a real testing ground. I don't know if it's balancing. I hate to use that term, but it does feel like there's been a lot of progress in a lot of ways. And we are currently setting a time where I don't know if it's the last gasp of outrage about certain things or if there's a kind of not so fast thing. I can't tell what's going on.
JONES: But yet you have been trying to reach out. That podcast series.
JONES: It was Jim Parsons, the too stupid for politics. Like that was interesting.
JONES: What did you learn doing that podcast? And also, you know, you started listening to right wing radio, left wing radio, trying to make sense of this and those stuff (INAUDIBLE). What is on the stuff did you learn?
PARSONS: One of the things I wanted to do was try and get past the whirlwind of it's ironic that the world politics is in there because the political language. Like there are so many things with all the arguments we have and everything are based on real structures. Real institutions. Real laws. And they are not quite as necessarily. You don't have to be quote as emotional and heated, to figure out what they are and what's going on.
But it seemed like the way in to talking about things is very rarely from that base of what it really is. And instead from the megaphones and yelling.
PARSONS: That's exactly right. On both sides, to be fair. This is deep stuff. And it is important stuff and it is a stuff that our world is built on.
JONES: I want to talk about this new film.
JONES: This is a film that is so timely. It is so cutting edge. (INAUDIBLE) get in a lot of trouble.
PARSONS: Maybe. We will see.
JONES: You know, a kid called Jake. It is a kid like Jake. It is about a kid with gender identity issues. I want to show a clip and let's talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked once we were having dinner and he asked why boys can't wear skirts because girls can wear pants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you tell him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We told him the truth, I guess, which is there is no good reason, really. But then I mentioned that in Scotland, men wear kilts. Kind of like skirts. We Googled kilts, looked at some pictures. He wasn't very impressed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: you didn't tell him there are men who do wear dresses in our culture?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: What was it about this, this film that made you want to do it?
PARSONS: There were a couple of things. Even just that scene, the way those characters talk to each other is very organic and real sounding. And the conversation has an interesting believable, way about it. And as an actor, I was like I want to be a part of those scenes and engage in that conversation.
Impossible to separate from that though is the topic at hand. And what this really is, you know, it's a little ironic that Jake is in the title because Jake's not in the play at all. And he has not seen too much in the movie because, which has gotten, some people don't like that about it and that's fine. It's a choice we make, which was the choice was to focus on these main adults in his life. His teacher that Octavia plays. His parents that me and Claire Danes play. And focus on them and what they think they are seeing and how they are all trying to come from a good place, but it doesn't matter, you know. It's still to be human and fail and struggle with an issue you don't fully understand.
You do have to make choices as an adult supervisor of a child in your care, you know. Anyway, so it's not clean and it is not pretty. JONES: Look. I mean, what would you say to a parent, given on what
you have now learned and studied and stuff like that. I think a lot of people in their head, say, I'm pro all these rights. I'm pro LGBTQ and if it comes into their own lives, though -.
[19:10:03] PARSONS: Very different story.
JONES: It's a completely different reaction.
PARSONS: Exactly right.
JONES: People realize they don't know what to do. They have all kind of biases and fears that jump up and they don't know what to do. What would you say to a parent and says, listen, I'm for it on paper, but scared of it in my house.
PARSONS: Right. The thing -- with saying I have no answers at all personally, I would say the one thing I learned from doing the film, the reason for the fearful reactions about things that you think you are OK with until it's your own child, the reason you feel that way I believe is because of the universality of it, you feel protective of the one you love and you worry for them. You worry for their safety. You worry for their life. You want them to be happy. And when you realize that a lot of maybe a reaction you may be having is not one that on paper, like you say, you would have thought you would have had, understand first that it's coming from for the most part and most case, from a good place. You want to protect the one you love.
JONES: That's generous. (INAUDIBLE)
PARSONS: So many of the conversations that Claire Danes character and I have in this movie, not only did we recognize that the person after person in a relationship, and especially if they have children, are like I have had the exact same conversation, clearly not about the same thing, but the language is the same. The argument is the same. The blame game between the parents. This is your fault. This is your fault, you know. She goes on this rampage at one point about if you had only taken him to the park and had thrown a ball in his direction once in a while. Which is like insane on its face, but that's what you do sadly when you are in a closed relationship like that. And again, you are concerned for the one you love.
JONES: This isn't the first time you have taken on a role that pushes the envelope. You did the Normal Heart which is about aids. That boys in the band, which goes back to gay life in the '60s. Why do you keep on taking these roles? You could play any role you wanted to. Why do you keep making a stuff like that?
PARSONS: Well, I think it is two main things. And the really personal one for me is, which may sound like that's it? But it really is what I find entertaining. And what I find, what interests me. What scripts, what parts come along that show a journey that I'm like, I don't think I fully understand that. I connect to something in it, but I would really like to explore this.
And the second thing is which is really just talk about try and follow your heart, your instincts. The projects find you. And the people who are putting them together, like everything that we are talking about was brought to me by somebody. It wasn't something I was seeking out.
JONES: You kind of put the boat in the water and the current kind of takes you.
JONES: But I tell you what. This current takes you over and over again to some of the best places. And I want to talk to you about more of it.
JONES: Look. When we get back, we got a lot more to talk b about, including the perilous flight of comedians in the Trump era. That's next.
[19:16:01] JONES: All right. Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW. I'm here with Jim Parsons.
Now look, you are on the biggest comedy in the country. It is 11 seasons. That means you are one of the funniest guys in America. Sucks to be you guys though. You comedians, you comic. Roseanne Barr blew herself up. Samantha Bee is in trouble. Michelle Wolf got in the cross hairs. Do you worry for your fellow comics in the age of Trump? Where are the lines now? I mean, how do you be funny and not be unemployed by tomorrow?
PARSONS: I mean, I feel like anybody who does anything like even like we are doing now, I don't feel any more or less worried for anybody else or ourselves than you and I sitting here right now. It crosses my mind every single time I do an interview or speak in public or anything. You just-- it's hard to speak your mind.
Now I don't do comedy in the traditional sense like a Samantha or whatever, so I'm not trying to make jokes on my own, you know. I deliver other people's. And if they fail, I can blame them, you know. But no. It is tricky. And we are, you touched on this in the opening monologue. We are in a very -- we are easily offended right now. And frequently about things that ultimately probably not that important.
JONES: In the big scheme of things. What do you think about a Roseanne Barr and what she said? Do you think she went too far? Should she be given a second chance? I mean, how do you make sense of that as a professional in this industry?
PARSONS: I only felt about it on an emotional scale. And so I guess that's what I'll say. Which was how and why? That was really my only reaction to it. Whether the reaction to cancel the show, I was surprised it was canceled immediately but, really to the face of it, just reading that tweet, reading it several times. I don't follow her or anything, but I was like how did that, how did you type that? I did have one thought though, which was that it's OK to say certain
things as an elected official right now that is not necessarily OK to say as an entertainer. I find that fascinating!
JONES: In other words, the President of the United States might be able to say stuff that are working.
PARSONS: Yes. And I don't -- that's not even a judgment. I think that's a fact. I mean, if your job is put into place through the vote of the citizens like literal, not just votes of ad dollars and things like that, then you can still get by. In this case, they cut ties, ABC did, with something that was obviously going to be a cash cow for them in a next however long.
JONES: Yes. And by the way, a cash tell also for your friends. You have got friends who are on your show, who are on that show. How do you feel about that?
PARSONS: Awful, you know. I think I didn't see it, but I think Shonda Rhymes brought up, it's so sad so many people at work. And that's true anytime a show is canceled in general. But in situation like this especially, you know, I'm very close to Laurie (INAUDIBLE) and Johnny, I don't know what his plans were going forward with that. But it is like I know a lot of people on there -- Sara Gilbert and the crew, the people you don't see and even you don't know. I mean, that's so many people employed by any given show like that.
JONES: Taken down by a tweet.
JONES: I saw your Instagram feed. Should Laurie (INAUDIBLE) have her on show?
PARSONS: Laurie should always have her own show. Laurie one of the American treasures of actors. She is both an incredibly grounded and truthful and wonderful dramatic actress and one of the dumbest, funniest people that we have going.
JONES: Maybe they spin it off.
PARSONS: Spin off, create something new for her. Whatever the hell you want to do, but keep using her.
JONES: Listen. You are a good red state guy from Texas. I'm from a great guy from Tennessee. Does Roseanne Barr supporters have a point? Not about the crazy tweets. But about the idea that red staters don't have a big enough space in the sitcom culture. It isn't usually people our part of the country. Is that something you think about that bothers you? Is that a fair critic of mainstream media?
[19:20:03] PARSONS: Working in the industry, I do get the sense that we are surrounded at the creative level by more of the left leaning mind set and heart set than we are the right. We are to say that we are completely devoid of a conservative viewpoint and people in Hollywood. I think and maybe you feel this way, too. I have always felt the
(INAUDIBLE). I have so many conservative traits about me. I am such a family first type of guy. Perhaps I have a more expansive view of family, but as far as it is importance and the work it takes and the necessity of having pillars in your life around you and support, I don't, I don't see that as a left or right type of thing because in my heart, I know what I need. And it's the same damn thing that other people need.
JONES: But what do you wish our coastal friends better understood about the heartland? I think a lot of people say, well, if you gave those red states people more shows, it would be more bigotry and mean stuff. I mean, what do on the coast miss that possible about the heart?
PARSONS: Oh my goodness. Well, I mean, the ones that I know and love are very warm people who make it their mission to take care of their neighbor. And maybe they belong to a church and take care of their community through that, you know. I grew up in a family who was very churchgoing. Still very churchgoing.
JONES: And you mentioned being a tradition, one of the things you did that was very traditional was you got married.
JONES: And one thing that is so interesting is even as recently as 2012, even you know, Barack Obama was a little bit hesitant to say he was for marriage equality. Five years later, 2017, you are married and it's no big deal. Like nobody cares at all.
PARSONS: I know. And in fact, the big deal, which really took me by surprise, was how this goes to me be a bit of traditionalist or just a human, I don't know, how meaningful the day was. I mean, we did it because it was meaningful. But to actually go through the wedding, to be there in front of all of your loved ones and your family, it really gave such mean ting, it gave such meaning to it where people can bear witness to it. And that it just -- it meant so much more to me than I was prepared for. Especially having growing up where it wasn't a possibility. And so it wasn't a dream. I'm just thrilled we did it. And again, it feels so traditional to me. Feels so much like mom and dad. But it's not, obviously.
JONES: Yes. Well, I mean, I can't tell you how much you mean to the country.
PARSONS: Oh, my goodness. Thank you.
JONES: Seriously. I mean, you are somebody who, you are recognized all across the country. Every time you have a chance to do something, you do something brave, something provocative, something that is helpful to all of us. And I can't tell you how much it means to me to have you on the VAN JONES SHOW.
PARSONS: Oh thank you for having me.
JONES: Listen, thank you for being here.
This is a Kid Like Jake is in select theatres right now. It's on demand everywhere Friday June 8th. Check it out.
Up next, you may have heard I was recently over at the White House. Yes, I was at the Trump White House helping the Trump administration look out for people behind bars. I just a need for it. But the good thing is I'm not the only person trying to reach across to the other side to do some good stuff.
Up next, we got a Democratic congressman, Hakeem Jeffries. He is a cosponsor of a justice reform bill. We got to talk to him when we come back.
And as we go to break, there's been so much talk about the tasteless rhetoric used by both Roseanne and Samantha Bee this week, I wanted to hear from you about it. And you guys were fired up. Here's what you had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course they should both be fired. Could anyone no matter who you are walk into your place of employment and say what Sam Bee and Roseanne Barr said to another person?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Comedy is comedy in the span of people here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racism and insults are two different things. I would hope people could tell the difference between those two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:27:46] JONES: You know, sometimes, Washington, D.C. reminds me of the Real Housewives. I'm that Serious. Got basically two clicks. Never get along. Lot of cattiness. Rare people do try to sit down and work something out. Bunch of (INAUDIBLE) and drama, you know, takes over.
But shockingly, last month, we saw one bright spot in Congress. Republicans and Democrats in the House worked together and passed a prison reform bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now this bill would ban the shackling of women in prison when they are giving birth to babies. It would be shackled anymore. It lets tens of thousands that have incarcerated people earn their way home sooner and about 4,000 people would be eligible to come home right away.
Now that bill is on its way to the senate. You know, I actually help this thing move along, went to the Trump White House and tried to push for some action. I got some serious backlash not from conservatives, but from progressives. So even though we ultimately prevailed, it got me thinking, is bipartisanship really just dead in the Trump era?
Joining me to talk about all this is one of the cosponsors of that prison reform bill, Democratic Congressman from New York, Hakeem Jeffries is in the house.
JONES: I'm so glad to have you here, buddy.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D) NEW YORK: My goodness.
JONES: First of all, I just wanted to get -- hear from you. Why in the era of division and dysfunction and craziness would you walk out into the killing fields to try to get a bill done for prisoners? They isn't got no lobbyists, man. They can't help you. They can't vote. Why take this kind of risk for people behind bars?
JEFFRIES: Well, in part, that is exactly the reason. And it is great to with you, Van. To go all in on this issue. To focus on the least that lost, the left behind individuals who are currently incarcerate without hope, without opportunity, without a meaningful shot at transformation, a second chance at getting a start in life once they are able to leave the federal penitentiary. Now when the war on drugs started, as you know in 1971, there were less than 350,000 people incarcerated in America. Today, there are approximately 2.2 million, disproportionally black and Latino. So we incarcerate more people than any other country in world. It's a stain on our democracy.
[19:30:04] JONES: So you decided you are going to reach out, try to get the bill done. From your point of view, what's the best thing about the bill? I'm going to hit you with the criticisms. But what is the best thing about the bill from?
JEFFRIES: The most important thing about the bill is that it would authorize approximately a quarter of a billion dollars over a five year period of time to create the type of reentry programming, access to education, GEDs, community college, technical education, mental health, counseling, substance abuse treatment. The types of things that have been proven to dramatically reduce recidivism (ph), help individuals transform their lives, save taxpayer dollars and really provide the hope and opportunity that should exist in the United States of America for everyone.
JONES: Why do you think Republicans and why do you think a Jared Kushner would be supportive of a bill that good?
JEFFRIES: The reality is criminal justice reform have been something that Republicans and Democrats have been discussing long before than it was a thought Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States of America. We welcome their support, but it was important for us in the House to begin to make progress on this issue.
JONES: You talk about it beautifully, but liberals and progressives came after you, hammer, tong. You had NAACP, ACLU. Cory Booker, (INAUDIBLE) Harris, "The New York Times." I mean, a lot of people said that this was a misguided bill.
Eric Holder said the bill threatens to derail momentum for sentencing reform. The bill is attempting half measure, but lawmakers should resist the lure.
So what do you say to those who say, hey, listen. That all sounds great, but all you are talking about is helping the people who are already in prison, maybe do a little bit better and get out. But we have got to stop people from going in the first place. We need to change the sentences. What do you say to those people? (INAUDIBLE).
JEFFRIES: That's absolutely correct in terms of criminal justice reform. Front end sentencing is absolutely necessary, reducing mandatory minimums, dramatically increasing the discretion available to judges so we don't see these out of control sentences.
Prison reform has been a part of that equation and my view was when we attempted to negotiate a bill that the Obama administration supported in the last Congress, there was some of our friends, allies, advocate, who were of the view that that Obama administration criminal justice reform bill didn't go far enough and said let's wait until Hillary Clinton is President.
JONES: How did that work out.
JEFFRIES: So my view was when you have got tens of thousands of individuals who we know will be helped in a meaningful way, why not take a first step toward dealing with over criminalization in America. And that's absolutely what the House did in an incredibly bipartisan way.
JONES: Wow, that's good.
JONES: You know, you got 70 percent of the Democrats in the House to vote with you. You got the entire Democratic leadership to vote with you and yet Trump and the Republican support as well. You may be the only person in the country that you can actually say you have been able to bring these two forces together.
Is there a downside and a danger though? That a Donald Trump might then later on say see, look, I did something good on prison reform and that becomes another reason why you should vote for me. Is this a dangerous move?
JEFFRIES: Well, my view in the situation is that for too long, the criminal justice issue has been used as a political weapon against vulnerable individuals, vulnerable communities, black and Latino communities, low income folks of every single race. And so if there's a chance to actually bring Democrats and Republicans together, and I have got to shout out my good friend, Doug Collins, who was the lead Republican on the bill. We took the position that if you can take criminal justice reform out of the political space, so that we are working on it together, then Democrats and Republicans will be all about the merits of the issue moving forward as opposed to using crime and punishment as a political weapon against each other.
JONES: Listen -- got a lot of -- now, last question. We are in the most important midterm election maybe in American history. It's really going to be b a referendum in some ways on the Donald Trump presidency. I hear Democrats talking about tweets and porn stars and everything else. Are you concerned that the Democratic Party may be praying for a blue wave but not putting in the blue work to get the blue wave? Are we of danger here just being destructed by all the nonsense?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think, you know, the chaos, the crisis, the confusion, the corruption and the drama, the dysfunction, certainly gets the attention of a lot of folks inside the beltway and outside of the beltway. But all of us as House Democrats in particular, we are committed to the notion that focusing on good paying jobs, strong economic growth, how to make sure we bring prosperity to every day American, better jobs, better wages and a better future and a better deal is what we have been all about.
And every single Democratic who has been successful in special election after special election in the north, the south, the east and the west, have been successful because they have talked about pocketbook issues. There's always a temptation to deal with the latest outrage, but if we stay focused on those issues have been pouring to everyday Americans, we are going to take the house back in November.
JONES: We'll see. He predicted it.
Thank you so much for being here. You got to come back at some point.
After the break, when we come back, I am back in my van. This time, I'm headed to southeast Utah. I'm talking to a group of native Americans about Trump's effort to wipe out Obama's legacy on tribal lands and their reaction to President Trump's now infamous Pocahontas slur. You will get that when we get back.
[19:39:27] JONES: Whether you are talking about the Paris climate accord or the Iran deal, it seems like President Trump's main agenda is just to overturn President Obama's agenda and that is especially true when it comes to native American land rights.
President Obama tried to protect about 1.3 million acres of land in southern Utah including native American Barrel grounds. And he did this by creating something called the bears ears national monument. But Trump, since he got in, he downsized the monument by 85 percent. And opened the land up to private drilling and mining.
Now some native American groups are suing the administration. But others are siding with Trump. They say Obama's executive order was just another example of the federal government controlling their lives and their land.
So I got back in my van. I headed to Utah and talks to native Americans about bear's ears, racism and how our government is treating this land's original owners. Take a look.
[19:40:30] JONES: All right. Here we are. Ground zero for one of the big fights of the Trump era. Native American rights versus Donald Trump's agenda. When Barack Obama was President, he tried to protect about two million acres out here. He called it the bear ears monument. Trump came in, said no way. Shrunk it by 85 percent. He wants to make room for more economic development -- drilling, mining. This showdown is actually divided native Americans against each other. Some are pro Trump. Some against Trump. We got to try to get to the bottom of it.
Hello there. Get in this van. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Van. Nice to meet you.
JONES: Very, very good. All right.
Hello. Get in this van.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is warm.
JONES: Up, man? Get in there out of the that heat, man. So, who here is pro monument?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am.
JONES: You are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JONES: Who is anti-monument?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am. I think most native American hearts and the federal government is that promises have been made and promises have been broken. It's almost in my mind, it's like an abuse victim going back to its abusers when we hand more regulations and more land to the federal government, the very people who began the abuse in the first place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The essential part is thinking about the protection of the land, the plants, the animals, our ancestors, the barriers (ph) that are here. The people who are still using these places as sacred sites. Ceremonial places, altars.
You talk to Donald Trump, he says more mining, more drilling, more privatization. Do you think that that is good for native American community? To have more mining, more drilling, more privatization?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the misconception is that has been put out there is that if it's not a monument, then suddenly, it's going to become a mining mecha. That was the biggest fear tactic used.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it's not a pure tactic, just look around you. (INAUDIBLE). This place is decimated. There are springs that are dried up. There are places that sheep used to eat and graze. There are places that people used to raise their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have added things like they changed things. They have so much red tape and so many safety things. And implemented since that time, but it's not the same generation. The it's not the same era.
JONES: So you think it's that mining and drilling is now safe for native Americans. They don't need to worry about the health impacts of mining and drilling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that how it's done now is different than how it was done then, absolutely. And I think that in 20 years --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all. They make the claims of technology being better and equipment, and whatever. But you know what, they always steal something. They always contaminate. And that kind of poisoning, people don't understand this, will last for general races.
JONES: I see a lot of beauty, I see a lot of poverty, I see a lot of pain. What do you think is the right answer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to say that I have trust in the United States government and it doesn't matter what administration it is. Oil is being taken out. You know, this location should be looking like Dubai. Our town here should not be looking the way it looks. There is no clinic. There is no fire stations. You know, there's nowhere for our people to come back to have jobs and hold these jobs where families can say, you know what, we can build a better future.
JONES: Well, whose fault is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, for me, I feel that all of these wells that are being built, somebody is taking the money from us. We have never had a stake and the royalties that has been distributed.
The historical trauma that we felt through a lot of this manifest destiny to take claims to Indian land is still being seen today. That intergenerational trauma is still hanging out today. The U.S. government still continues to politicize our history and rights to our land.
JONES: Do you think that Donald Trump is a better friend to native Americans than Barack Obama was? Talking to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
JONES: When he says stuff like, you know, referring to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, and doing the types of stuff, does that mother you at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, first of all, what bothered me the most was that Elizabeth Warren would claim to be a native American and not be one. That's not OK with me. Do I think that everybody should be able to speak articulately and say the things that are on their mind and speak fluidly like they have a speechwriter in their pocket? Absolutely not. I can appreciate the rawness and the authenticity of somebody who fails with words sometimes the way any human would.
[19:45:23] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I experience racism a lot being a young native woman. And just even hearing you said that word, Pocahontas, that portrayal of that Disney princess also equates to the mascot. That a lot of these mascots have a history of racism tied to it. That image of being a savage, uncivilized, being in poverty. Donald Trump really has a, you know, hard time when he says some of those words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that stereotypes like redskins, that just really serves to dehumanize native people. It objectifies them. It makes them seem less than human. Like you can do anything to them. You can shoot them. You can break them. You can put tailings next to their school which they have done. But they actually carry a lot of historical way and trauma that are carried out through today. And that's one of the reasons why for myself, I think that Trump is inherently anti-Indian because he doesn't actually care enough to know about us. And he is documented as saying very offensive racist things about the northeast Indians in the region that he is from in New York.
JONES: Despite all your differences and the things you don't agree on, the one thing that all three of you guys agree on is this is a special place, a beautiful place and you want to see it protected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think both of those guests in the vehicle along with me have the same feeling. And it is something that is taught and born and our native American blood that it's the birds, the plants, the trees. It is the love and the respect for mother nature. That we know where we came from. And that she's a part of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just drove through the area where my grandmother used to like raise her sheep, you know. So these are places and people who mattered in our community. Like they still talk about them like it was yesterday. And you have to remember that this country is really young. It's just a baby. It's still making all the mistakes that a baby would. It doesn't know what it's doing, you know. And this is a temporary time that we are going to survive. We survived everything before. We will survive this. You know, we will survive Trump.
JONES: I'm honored to be here myself. Your fruit will never be better than your root. And if you are disrespecting the root of anything, you cannot expect that positive fruit. And until America gets right by how we are dealing with native Americans, we are not going b to be right.
JONES: Look, awesome.
Now, going forward, couldn't there be a hidden explanation connecting a series of apparently racist incidents happening across the country recently? I'll show you what I found when we get back.
[19:51:58] JONES: This week more than 8,000 Starbucks stores actually closed up shop so that employees could take racial bias training after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia store for, well, for actually no good reason at all. That was one of several incidents of bias that have been caught on tape just recently.
At Yale, my alma mater, a white graduate student called the cops to report a black woman napping in a dorm common area. Turns out the black woman was also a student who had fallen asleep after a long night of studying.
In Rialto, California, a woman called police on a group of three black friends who were checking out their Airbnb. The woman told the cops she thought the group were suspicious because they didn't wave at her.
So then in Oakland, a woman called police on a black family because they were barbecuing in the park and were using the wrong grill.
So look, there's no question, this is a troubling trend. But sadly, these types of interactions are not new. We just live in a day and age where everybody has got a camera phone and they can record this type of stuff.
So does that mean though that all these white people calling the cops on minorities are a bunch of intentionally hateful bigots? Well, maybe some of them are, but most likely not all of them. Something else is at play here -- implicit bias.
What is implicit bias? I studied it. Take a look.
JONES: If I say you have implicit bias, please don't take offense because everybody has implicit bias. We are talking subconscious perceptions of the world around you. If I say peanut butter, you don't think ketchup. You automatically think jelly. The same with salt and pepper. Green eggs and ham.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like green eggs and ham?
JONES: All of these associations are shaped by everything from your upbringing and experiences to images in the media. Watching TV and film characters based on racial and ethnic stereotypes up shaped our instant associations about people. And those unconscious judgments that start off early and build up overtime can have real consequences on everything from your success in getting a job, your interactions with the police, your ability to find housing.
Now, let's talk about two professions that everybody agrees are full of well-intentioned people, doctors and teachers. Studies find that doctors are about half as likely to prescribe pain medication to black patients versus as white patients with the same reported level of pain. Studies show unconscious stereotypes may be causing doctors to just underestimate the level of pain felt by their black patients.
Now black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. Consider this, Yale researchers asked teachers to watch videos of kids in a classroom were and identify any problematic behavior. Each video featured a black girl and boy, and a white black girl and boy. The catch, there was no bad behavior in any video. And yet 42 percent of teachers identified the black boy as a child who was the most challenging. Researchers found teachers' eye movements actually followed the black boy in the video the most closely.
Another study finds that having a stereotypically black family name makes people imagine someone bigger and more violent.
[19:55:34] JONES: So that is a bad news. And look, to be sure, there are some people who are just flat out old fashioned racists. You know, they don't like people of color and they want to exclude us or cause us harm.
But even if you don't fall into that category, please don't be so quick to exonerate yourself. Because it turns out the racial bias functions kind of like malware, like a computer virus in our brain that kind of causes a subtle glitch whenever the input is a dark- skinned face. So you may not be racist, but your brain probably is. And the first step is admitting that all of us may have picked up a bad virus or too along the way. We can do something about that.
Look. I'm Van Jones with the VAN JONES SHOW. Thank you for watching.
Peace and love for one another.