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The Van Jones Show

The Van Jones Show; Interview with Leslie Jones. Aired 7:00- 8:00p ET

Aired August 11, 2018 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:17] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening, I'm van Jones. Welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW.

Tonight's installment makes me so happy. For once I am not the only Jones on the air. We got the comedy genius, "Saturday Night Live" superstar Leslie Jones with us tonight. I'm so excited.


JONES: Oh, so amazing. It is hard to keep up with the Joneses. Hard to keep up with the Joneses.

Also, I get back in my van -- yes, we really be call this segment "Van in a van." That's what we do. And I'm headed down to Georgia. This time it is a state, Georgia could elect the first black female governor ever in American history. Proud for that. That would be amazing.


JONES: I got to tell you, when I got down there and I talked to the voters, I got a big shock. Two people on different sides of the thing politically, both started crying in the van. Never happened before. You won't believe why. You got to watch that.

But first, let's talk. This weekend actually marks the one-year anniversary of that horrific Nazi-led terror attack that happened down in Charlottesville, Virginia. The whole protest was billed sort of like a simple protest about removing a confederate statute, but on the day of that rally a blood-thirsty mob of armed -- just thugs, showed up. They were chanting anti-black slogans, they were chanting anti- Jewish slogans. They were emulating Hitler's torch-light marches. And at deranged hate monger deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. In other words in broad daylight in the streets of America, a man assassinated a young American named Heather Heyer.

Now that's terrorism, exactly the kind of stuff that ISIS does. But somehow President Trump had a hard time condemning that murder in a forthright way. But for me, it was a really big low point. I think it was a low point for the whole country. And I had hoped that in the aftermath we would finally come together.

I mean at least just to oppose hate speech, insane organizations, political violence. But it didn't happen. And in fact, the anti- defamation league now says that hate crimes against Jewish Americans have surged 57 percent in the last year. That's the biggest single- year jump since they started tracking this stuff in 1979. And I just recently got a chance to see my amazing CNN colleague, a recorder name Sara Sidner. She went to northern Pennsylvania and spoke to a white nationalist. This guy actually openly wears swastikas on his shirt and says America is his country because he is white. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are staring down the barrel of a gun here in white America. There's still 193 million white Americans. Yes, the vast majority of them are in their 60s and 70s, will be in the ground in the next 20 years, and therefore we have the possibility of becoming a minority in our own country.


JONES: Now, to be fair, 12 of that guy's neighbors came out immediately and told Sara they don't agree with this guy. He doesn't represent them in the community. And they deserve a round of applause for sticking up for what is right in this country.


JONES: I appreciate them for doing that.

But here is the thing that bothers me the most. Those same themes that were once considered so extreme are now becoming mainstream, at least in conservative media. Listen to Laura Ingraham on "FOX News" addressing millions of your fellow citizens and neighbors on air.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It does seem like the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they are changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed.


JONES: Now, I see zero difference between what Laura Ingraham is saying on mainstream cable and what the Nazi was saying in front of his house. Literally, it is the same message and it is wrong.

But there is some good news in America. There are millions of people who refuse to accept this notion that America should be whites only or dominated by one race forever. In fact, all across the country people are organizing, they're fighting back, embracing diversity in historic ways.

This week alone, Democrats in Michigan's 13th district nominated Rashida Tlaib for Congress. Now, she is expected to win the --.


JONES: Get this, she will be the first Muslim woman ever elected to U.S. congress. That's a good thing.

Also, no. It has been about four years since the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson. The residents in St. Louis County there voted to nominate a black man to be the lead county prosecutor, a guy named Wesley Bell. What is good about that is Wesley Bell believes in criminal justice reform and he booted out the 27-year-incumbent who would face a lot of criticism for failing to charge the cop who shot Mike Brown in the first place. So organizing paying off on the ground there.

In other words, one year after Charlottesville, let's stay vigilant. You know, America is not yet what it could be. It is not yet what it should be, but it is not what the worst voices in our country want it to be. That's because people keep fighting. Let's keep fighting.

V. JONES: Now, my next guest knows a lot about how you keep your spirits up in tough times. She keeps us all laughing and she keeps us all moving through the difficult times in a good way.

Welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW, a woman with the most beautiful last name in the world, the extraordinary Leslie Jones.



V. JONES: I know.

L. JONES: Hi. Got pictures of me.

V. JONES: So many.

L. JONES: It's like a gallery of me.


L. JONES: This is so -- can you all put this at my house? Oh, my God.

V. JONES: Yes, we might.

Listen, the last time I saw you I was sitting behind you at the "Black Panther" premiere in New York City.

L. JONES: Oh, I was ghetto.

V. JONES: I wasn't going to say nothing.

L. JONES: Oh, I was like -- I was like, wait a minute, hold up, hold up! No!

V. JONES: You narrated the entire film. L. JONES: Yes.

V. JONES: Like the whole thing. Listen, Denzel Washington was there --

L. JONES: Denzel was there?

V. JONES: Yes, you didn't know because you was mouthing --

L. JONES: I didn't know Denzel was there. I would have been like, Denzel!

V. JONES: You were the star of the premiere.

L. JONES: It was hilarious though.

V. JONES: I remember when the general confronted the guy and you said, we got to talk --


L. JONES: Yes, because they was dating. I was like, no, hold up, hold up. You be trying to kick it with me at nighttime, now you're trying to fight me.


V. JONES: Anyway, it was amazing.

L. JONES: That's funny. I didn't know you was there. That's hilarious. No one knew about that until you just said it. Thanks, man.

V. JONES: Listen, no, everybody who was there knew it.


V. JONES: Anyway, it is just such an honor to see you.

Now, listen, you are from Memphis.

L. JONES: Yes, that's why I was trying to figure out, are we related?

V. JONES: I think we might be related. I'm serious.

L. JONES: Because, you know, my daddy --


V. JONES: We might be really related.

L. JONES: I'm just saying.

V. JONES: They got these little kits. I'm going to bring out a kit and we going to try to figure it out.

L. JONES: I'm serious. I think we're related. I mean, it is too close.

V. JONES: I might need a loan.

L. JONES: Oh, I don't give brother money.

V. JONES: We're not related.


V. JONES: I am just so happy for you, sister.

L. JONES: Thank you.

V. JONES: First of all, your second Emmy nomination. Give it up for that.


L. JONES: Crazy, right?

V. JONES: That's unreal.

L. JONES: Insane.

V. JONES: Unbelievable.

L. JONES: Insane.

V. JONES: I want to hear from you, have you told many people -- you were nominated the last time, this time you want to win.

L. JONES: Yes, I want to win this time.

V. JONES: What is your case for winning? Why are you better --?

L. JONES: Because I'm good. I'm so good.



L. JONES: You know what, you know, I did my best to try to bring as much joy as possible this year through the Olympics, through my show, through -- just because you know we need it.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: I think we stopped knowing how to have joy anymore. I think that we have restricted what we used to call joy. We have restricted it so much.

V. JONES: Why is that? Because people are scared to say something that will get them in trouble?

L. JONES: You know, people want to say it started with Trump, but I think it kind of started before that. We just walk around a little too offended.

V. JONES: Too offended?

L. JONES: Too offended.

I mean, let me put it like this, I have -- I'm six feet tall, I got size 12 feet. Real talk. If I got upset every time somebody say you got big feet, I wouldn't live --

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: -- because they say it every day.

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: Like you know, it's amazing how many questions I get about handling the Internet stuff. But I don't get how -- OK, I get how it can upset you --

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: -- but it can't stop my life because I'm like they're behind a computer.

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: Like if they were in front of me like with a knife, you know, saying all of that stuff I would be like, oh, this is a situation. But we talking about something that's in a basement behind a keyboard that I know I can beat up.


L. JONES: I know I can beat them up.



V. JONES: No doubt.

L. JONES: I am not scared of them. I am not scared of them. And there's nothing that you can't call me that I am not been called before.

V. JONES: That's right.

L. JONES: You know, so --

V. JONES: It's almost like not letting other people steal our joy. It's almost down to the point where it's more fashionable to be upset and more fashionable to be offended than it is to go ahead and be proud and loud and do our own stuff.

[19:10:07] L. JONES: And I just don't -- I don't understand how you would want to live in anguish instead of happiness. V. JONES: How does that affect your show?

L. JONES: It does not affect me at all because I don't let stuff affect me. I affect stuff.


L. JONES: You know what I'm saying?

V. JONES: Let's talk about the show. Let's talk about "SNL." I'm a political junky.

L. JONES: Yes, you are. You are very political. I'm not.

V. JONES: Exactly, so, exactly. So when "Saturday Night Live" comes on, I'm glad because I feel like Trump will be put in his place and it makes me very, very happy.

But you said you think maybe we are doing too much of the political comedy and other forms of comedy are being neglected. Talk about that.

L. JONES: When I started comedy, when I started comedy in '86, I -- my biggest goal -- when we, me, Alex Thomas there, he was sitting in the back and would watch comics. We would just go, I just want to be funny. I just want to make -- look how these people are laughing, I just want to make these people laugh.

As a comic, that is the center theme that's important to make -- for me.

V. JONES: Absolutely.

L. JONES: And I'm speaking for me -- that I make people laugh. That's what we do as comics, is make people laugh.

V. JONES: And do you feel we're getting too far from the funny?

L. JONES: No, I understand that we have to have the smart comics, the satire comics.

I say it like this. We need the "Three Stooges" and "Tom & Jerry" just as much as we need Dennis Miller. Does that make sense?

V. JONES: That makes a lot of sense.

L. JONES: I mean, everybody doesn't laugh at the same thing.

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: My problem is stop telling people what they're supposed to laugh at.

V. JONES: Listen, let me ask you a question. It seems to me that you see laughter as almost a necessary ingredient.

L. JONES: I was going to say that.

V. JONES: Almost like if you were in pain, actually the laughter is better. You are saying people are in pain, they're stuck in the pain and won't laugh at it.

L. JONES: Let me tell you something! That's real talk. Come on, you guys. Let's think about the comics we have had in histories -- in histories -- in the history of comedy, like we had, you know, the Eddie Murphys and we had Richard Pryor and we had -- and all of them talked about very personal things.

V. JONES: Absolutely.

L. JONES: Oh, how can I put this? Whenever I'm feeling bad about something, I go on stage and make it laugh. Make the elephant in the room laugh. Just like music is a release, just like when you watch TV is a release, comedy is the same thing. Laughter is an actual release.

You know how when -- you know how when you feel bad and you put on your ear phones and, hey, that's a release.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: Hey, so is laughter. Like let it go. Like let it go. Like let it gorge through your body and let it go. Like how do you not laugh at something that's wrong with you? Like does it make sense?

V. JONES: It does make sense.

L. JONES: It's just so much healthier to laugh at it and accept yourself. A lot of people are offended because you haven't accepted who you are. And when somebody pointed it out, that's when you get mad.

Do you get what I mean? Somebody come up here, they be like, oh, you being a little bitchy.


L. JONES: Oh, what you mean by that? Yes, you being a bitch.


L. JONES: You know what that is.

V. JONES: We know.

L. JONES: You know what I'm saying. Accept what you are.

V. JONES: Look, we got a lot more to talk about --

L. JONES: Sorry.

V. JONES: All right. L. JONES: It's OK.

V. JONES: We got a lot more to talk about with Ms. Leslie Jones when we get back, including how she found success in her 40s. But before we go to break, here is some of what you have to say about how we are faring one year since Charlottesville. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anything, we are more agitated and we are more on guard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the year since, I am more hopeful. I am more inspired because people all across the country, Democrats, Republicans, independents alike, are saying that the hatred that was on display in Charlottesville is not who we aspire to be.



[19:17:16] V. JONES: All right, all right, all right. Welcome back to THE VAN JONES SHOW. I am here with the "Saturday Night Live" star, the hilarious Leslie Jones.



V. JONES: So, listen, I mentioned before you came out that you found success in your 40s.

L. JONES: Forty-seven.

V. JONES: Forty-seven years old. You were doing this in your 20s, in your 30s, in your early 40s.

You got people in this room and people who are watching who have dreams that feel like they're constantly being deferred. How did you stick it out? What -- how were you raised? How were you able to stick it out for decades before you got to here?

L. JONES: You know, it is, again, when I started I really wanted to be a comic.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: I think you have to really want what it is you are going for. You are to really want it because there is going to be a period of time where you're not successful. So if you are in it for the money, you might as well quit now.

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: Quit now. If you are in it for the fame, quit now. If you're not in it for

anything else but loving what it is that you do, then you're just going to fail, because the nights of coming home going, damn, I need to use my degree, like there was times I went in for job interviews and they didn't give me the job interview because they saw me on BET and it was like, oh, you are going to make it.

V. JONES: Oh really?

L. JONES: You're going to make it.

V. JONES: Yes, but right now, I'm hungry.

L. JONES: Right now, right now --

V. JONES: I got bills.

L. JONES: I was Blockbusters, it was like, I saw you, you are going to make it. I was like, right now, time to rerun (ph), baby, I need to pay the rent. You know what I'm saying?

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: But you have to really love it. I love making people laugh. And let me tell you, it was not easy because I have 46 years of thinking I was not going to make it.

V. JONES: Wow.

L. JONES: And --

V. JONES: Who helped you keep going? Who is --?

L. JONES: God.

V. JONES: God.

Please say that on CNN.

L. JONES: No, for real, God. I don't know how anyone survives without God.

My faith that I have has brought me through so many hard things in my -- you know, my parents, my brother, all of them passed, and like --

V. JONES: So you --

L. JONES: That's what I believe in. I believe in having faith in yourself and having faith in God, because once he has faith in you --

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: -- and you just got to work. You got to work.

V. JONES: Give her some applause for that.

L. JONES: You got to work.


L. JONES: You got to work.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: You got to want it and you got to keep wanting it because, Lord have mercy. It's not easy. You have to keep wanting it.

V. JONES: What's amazing to me about you is that, listen, you are in movies, you are on television. You don't have to go out and do the stand-up stuff anymore but you still go out there and you still talk to people. What are you getting out of being in front of --

L. JONES: Oh, no --

V. JONES: Talk to me.

L. JONES: No, that's so untrue. I do have to do --

V. JONES: Why?

L. JONES: That is my soul. That's where I started. This "SNL", that's extra. That's extra stuff.

I have been doing comedy since 1986. That was the way I paid for my bills, my money, my food, everything. And --

[19:20:12] V. JONES: But can I just say something?

L. JONES: I know I'm good at it. I'm good at it. No, I'm not saying I'm not good at what I do.

V. JONES: So what I'm saying is you have other income now. You don't have to do it from the income point of view.

L. JONES: Yes, I do have to because I have to make people laugh, and I'm the only one who can do it.



L. JONES: No, real talk, I have some joy and energy to give people that they need.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: You all need me. You all just don't know you all need me. You all need me so bad because -- and like I said on "The View," people are walking around offended and not letting comedians do your job and I'm telling you, you are so unhappy because you are not laughing.

V. JONES: Yes. L. JONES: You are not laughing. Every time a comedian comes on and

does a joke about Trump, that doesn't make you happy. It does not make you happy.

When the last time that you have belly laughed? Like seriously --


L. JONES: That's what I do. You can keep the little satire, ha-ha, that's so clever. You can keep that.


L. JONES: I want you to be sweating when you leave my show.



L. JONES: Yes.

V. JONES: What do you see in the American people that you wish more people saw?

L. JONES: Actually, we care more about each other than you think. Real talk, like we care about each other. We are just so damn offended that we just don't want to know that we care.

You know? We just all of us have a chip on our shoulder. Like knock it off, because, real talk, this country is going to have to really get rid of that to heal.

You guys, I'm so serious. We are going to have to look into each other and we are going to have to start being nice to each other. Stop thinking that you are going to make it in this world without someone else. We need to help each other. We need to be kind to each other. That is how we are going to heal all of this stuff.

V. JONES: I love that. I love it.


L. JONES: I'm so serious. I get it. I get it.

I truly get it because Trump is awful. He's really awful. He might be one of the most awful that we have ever had, but this --


L. JONES: This country, this country is way more actually than the President, man, and we always have been. We, the people.


V. JONES: You know, speaking of being kind, and you mentioned that people raise this all the time, you know, at the height of your thing, "The Ghostbusters" movie, like you are breaking through, all of the sudden, it's like nobody trolls and bots and people started jumping on you online.

L. JONES: Oh, my God.

V. JONES: Talk to us about that because other people are being bullied and harassed. What was your experience?

L. JONES: OK, I'm going to tell you from the beginning. It was a bunch of people with evil as their goal.

V. JONES: Right.

L. JONES: It wasn't like -- no, it wasn't like they were joining together to say something nice things to me. They were joining together in evil to do something, and that's what upset me. I was like, oh, my God, they believe in - they are believing in what they are sending me.

But let me tell you something about me. I don't let it live there. I know who I am.

V. JONES: That's right.

L. JONES: And I know what they are.

That's what -- if you are getting bullied right now, please take a second to step back and go, this is not real, this is not reality, because if those people saw you on the street, they would not say none of that. Why are you scared of somebody that's hiding behind a keyboard?

And I get it, because those evil messages are coming in. But please know that that's all it is, is evil, and block it. Block the evil. I used to respond to it because I'm a comedian, so, you know, I'm a comedian and I'm like, oh, no, I'm going to, snap, your mama, too.


L. JONES: But that's what they want. They want that attention.

Let me tell you something, blocking is my best friend. I don't even answer people no more. As soon as they say something, block. That's how I answer questions now. Block. I have had people hit and go, I think you blocked me by mistake. No, block.


L. JONES: Block them and block them out of your brain. And, please, please, you have to talk to yourself and you have to have a conversation with yourself and say, hey, this is not real, this is like, this is evil, this is another entity. Don't let it in your life.

It's really not real. It is not real. Those people really isn't real. V. JONES: Listen, I tell you, you are real.

L. JONES: Thank you.

V. JONES: And you are a real people (INAUDIBLE) American life, and we love you for it.

L. JONES: You are real, Van.

V. JONES: We truly, truly love you.

L. JONES: Thank you. I know, it's so sweet.

V. JONES: Well, no --

L. JONES: I'm tripping out. I'm tripping out.

You know me and Kenan?

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: We are on that show doing some stuff that you all don't even know that we are making breakthroughs for people to do something in the future.

V. JONES: Beautiful.

L. JONES: Like real talk. You guys got to support us, especially the sisters and brothers. You all got to support us. You all got to support us.

V. JONES: You got it.

[19:25:00] L. JONES: Like Kenan's been on TV for -- since he was eight years old. That's a shame that man is getting an Emmy nominated --

V. JONES: Just now.

L. JONES: -- just now.

V. JONES: Yes.

L. JONES: That man is so good at what he does.

V. JONES: Good luck to you on the Emmys.

L. JONES: Yes, oh, my God! Oh my God.

V. JONES: We are going to be rooting for you.

L. JONES: You all got to be cheering for me, like doing all of the prayers, all -- call the pastor, all of that.


V. JONES: When we come back, I'm going to hop in my van. This time I'm going --

L. JONES: You are going in a van?

V. JONES: Van in a van. It's my show. You got to watch my show.


L. JONES: I definitely got to watch that.

V. JONES: It is called "Van in a van". I'm going to Atlanta, Georgia.

L. JONES: Right now?

V. JONES: No. It is a tape!


L. JONES: You are going to drive to Atlanta right now? That's like four hours!


V. JONES: Listen, when we come back, you will see me in my van.



[19:29:40] V. JONES: It is being billed at the battle of the bases. The governor's race in Georgia is perhaps the most emblematic of the 2018 political climate. The Democrats think they have a real shot of slipping a deep red Georgia to blue. They have this nominee named Stacey Abrams. Now if she wins, she would be the first black female governor in the history of the United States.

But on the Republican side you have got a guy name Brian Kemp. He is secretary of the state there. He describes himself as a political- incorrect conservative. He got a strong backing of President Trump. So this race is going to come down to whose base is more energized and which canned is most palatable to those in the middle.

Now, voters are considering a host of issues in Georgia, gun control, voting rights, whether the state's confederate memorials including Stone Mountain should be removed. So I went down at Atlanta. I got in my van to talk to some of the voters down there. Take a look.


[19:30:35] V. JONES: Man, Georgia. In the world headquarters.

All right. Here we are in Atlanta, Georgia. We have got one of the biggest governor's races not just in the country but in American history going on. Hey, Shelby.



V. JONES: How are you? All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys, how are you?

V. JONES: Hey.


V. JONES: OK. Why do you like Stacey Abrams?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't just like her. I love her.

V. JONES: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She sees people as individuals and understanding the struggle from poverty, getting an education for herself, for her faith, and just her ability to be relatable. It was eye-opening and encouraging. That I was like, OK, I need to insert myself in this in whatever way possible because she is it.

V. JONES: Christian, what appeals to you about Mr. Kemp?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Brian Kemp is a strong constitutional conservative. He appreciates the constitution. He wants to protect the second amendment, and he wants to lower taxes. He's also very strong on illegal immigration.

V. JONES: I know there is a big conflict going on in this state. Brian Kemp was the secretary of state. He was accused of knocking off a bunch of African-Americans from the voter rolls. He said, look, I'm trying to prevent voter fraud. Does that bother you, Christian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really. I think what bothers me a lot more is illegal immigrants voting and going ahead and practicing a constitutional right that is not theirs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm uncomfortable with the language of referring to people as illegals, because humans aren't illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: use the term illegal, I mean Bill Clinton used it in 1994.

V. JONES: You love Bill Clinton, you want to do everything he does?


V. JONES: OK. Just making sure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't really have time for political correctness because you are sugar coating the issue. These are people that came here illegally, and that's a big issue.

V. JONES: Yes, Brian Kemp seems to be like a local version of a Donald Trump. Are you happy that you have got kind of like a local Trump running?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is great. I love it.

V. JONES: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I mean, you know, there's that going on, but, look, there are certain things you do to win elections. He has been a bit provocative just because he has to win. He had to win the primary.

V. JONES: Isn't that what they said about Trump? That Trump was being provocative? He got in there and he ace still being provocative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't think Brian Kemp is that way, I mean.

V. JONES: How do you wind up as a moderate-seeming, independent- seeming person, pulling the lever for Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you know, even in that election I had a very difficult time choosing, and what it came down to for me was Supreme Court seats. I feel like this is like a lot of the elections that we have seen across the last year. It is very polarizing. The middle is kind of getting lost, and I often find myself in these situations thinking if we could blend the two candidates, it would be great.

V. JONES: Do you believe that Stacey Abrams is actually lighting some fire among just ordinary black voters?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, I think that because people of color aren't used to seeing their faces in everyday on the television and in positive ways, I think that it absolutely activates us in a way to feel more included in life and to not feel so discarded and ignored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that it could actually come back to bite you. I mean if you take a look at black unemployment in this country, the lowest ever in our country. So it has a lot to do with President Trump. So you could be energizing people on the grassroots level to go out and vote, but they may not vote Democrat. They might vote Republican.

V. JONES: What's the case for supporting Democrats if you are a black now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think because the face feels new. Because I think that our country is different. I think our needs are different.

V. JONES: So for you it is just racial symbolism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I mean it is -- oh, my God, that sounds terrible. I'm so much more than just black. I'm very proud to be black. But I think that the same question with being a woman. It seems like it is a rise and an upheaval of something new and different. I think that's legitimate. I think that not just being a woman, but being a black woman is a game changer.

[19:35:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what difference does it make, the identity of the canned though? I mean, who cares if the person is black or if it is white or if it is a male or female or whatever?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it is part of white privilege. My race as well as my gender identity, my everyday decisions in my world, it is who I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think each and every one of us are privileged to be in this country, regardless of race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with you. I agree with you. I'm super nervous about coming here.

V. JONES: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The etching in stone is a monument to domestic terrorism.

V. JONES: Why do you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a celebration of confederacy. It is a reminder to black people that we should have never been freed. I'm actually shaking right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That makes me so sad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I don't -- I don't identify with it that way, but coming here I think of all of the times with my father, my family. And so this seems like a happy place. To hear it is hurtful for you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can appreciate that. If I didn't have my seatbelt on, I would hug you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me sad that's the impact it has on you, but this is a place where I have really happy memories. I could never sit in your shoes, but I don't view the carving that way.

V. JONES: How do you view it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean KKK rallies were here for a reason. It feels like a threat. It feels like a threat. It feels like a consistent and looming, hard granite, solid threat.

V. JONES: Christian, how do you think about this sort of period of our history and how it is celebrated or not? Stacey Abrams says she wants to get rid of Stone Mountain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first of all, I'm a huge fan of the civil war. I used to be a civil war re-enactor actually for the union so. And I have to tell you that I 100 percent agree from both of your stances on this and I understand where you're coming from absolutely. But there are a lot of people here in Georgia whose ancestors fought in the war. They died in their cause. And I have to tell you, a lot of those people disagree with why their ancestors fought. But nonetheless, their ancestor died for the cause and this is what the statues are meant to commemorate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The integration of the north and south --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a confederate flag on that guy's jacket right now. I see that as a threat. Like I'm -- my heart is racing. I don't feel safe.

V. JONES: Do you think that he is wearing that jacket because he hates black people or would hurt you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what that symbol means to me, yes. There's a lot of power in that symbol. There's a lot of history in that symbol. There's a lot of blood and hatred in that symbol. I feel it.

V. JONES: Does this whole conversation motivate some voter turnout on your side, a sense that things that are important are under siege, that history might get erased?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there is, yes, on the ground. There's a little bit of concern for sure because, as I said, a lot of people are concerned that these are monuments that represent their ancestors, and they could be taken away. I don't know what it is like to be black in this country or racism, I'm not going to pretend that I do. But that's all I can tell you from my -- through my experience what that means to some people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: think the fact we're even having these questions and having these conversations and wanting to know more and wanting to hear the other side, that's where we start.



V. JONES: Powerful conversation.

Coming up, I'm going to sit down with a true hero, the whistleblower of the Flint water crisis. Where do things stand right now in Flint? How is she trying to prevent the same thing from happening any place else? That's next.




[19:43:10] V. JONES: Welcome back to THE VAN JONES SHOW. My next guest is a true American hero. She is the Michigan

pediatrician who actually blew the lid on the Flint water crisis. She is also the author of a new book, "What The Eyes Don't See." It tells a story of how she exposed these toxic levels of le lead in the drinking water that was poisoning children. She says that the fight for Flint is not over.

Please welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.


V. JONES: First of all, it is good to see you again. I was one of the many people that came to Flint.


V. JONES: You took me around, you took a bunch of people around. We could not believe what we were seeing. What is happening on the ground right now in Flint? If it is not in the news, people assume it is all fine, it is fixed. Is Flint fixed?

HANNA-ATTISHA: No, that's one of the reasons I wrote this book. I started it over two years ago to put a spotlight back on Flint because our story is still ongoing. We are still in a state of public health emergency. The people of Flint are still on filters and bottled water as our damaged lead pipes are being replaced.

V. JONES: How is it possible this happened? When you talk to the Republicans, they say it was a Democrat city council, it was Barack Obama's EPA, the Democrats say it was a Republican governor. Help me understand what happened, how it happened and we can talk about what can be done about it.

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes. So Flint essentially lost a democracy. So we were a city that was almost bankrupt. And in Michigan if your city is almost bankrupt, the state can swoop in and take over democracy. We were under state-controlled financial emergency management and that emergency manager's job was one thing, it was austerity. How do we save money and cut costs, and they decided that this poor, predominantly minority city, was too poor to get water from the great lakes anymore and they decided to save money by switching to the Flint River until a new pipeline was to be built.

[19:45:07] V. JONES: Now, you are not -- your job - you are not some EPA inspector. Your job is not supposed to be this. Why did you stick your neck out as just a doctor?


V. JONES: To take this thing on? You had to break some rules and break some eggs to do that.

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes, so I'm a pediatrician. And I literally took an oath to protect children. I took an oath when I became a physician to speak up for the kids that I was entrusted to care for. So when I heard that there was lead in the water, as a pediatrician, that's something that you have to act on.

V. JONES: Why?

HANNA-ATTISHA: So lead is an irreversible neuro toxin. So that means it hurts children's brains. It impacts cognition, how kids think. It drops IQ levels. It impacts behavior.

We have learned so much about lead in the last few decades, and we now know there is no safe level of lead. We also know that lead is a form of environmental racism. Our kids in Flint already had higher lead levels just like kids in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia. Kids already suffer from so many toxicities, lead and poverty and all of the other issues, are already burdened with higher rates of lead exposure.

V. JONES: But you didn't have to do what you did, in fact what you did you were not supposed to do. You're supposed to go through a long process to make sure your claims were vetted by 1200 other people, whatever. It is supposed to take five or ten years. You rushed out and held a press conference. Why would you take that kind of risk with your own profession and break those rules in this situation?

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes, and that's the story I wanted to share with this book, the story of resistance and disobedience. I could have minded my own business, done my work as a pediatrician, seen my patients, ignored the noise, went through the long peer review process to get the research out there. But that would have taken too long. And my kids in Flint who are no different than my own children did not have an extra day to spend. So we were disobedient and we resisted and we spoke up. And that is a lesson that we all need right now.

V. JONES: Thank you.


V. JONES: Before we get to what can be done, I want to point out you are an immigrant.


V. JONES: Your family came here from Iraq by way of the UK. If anybody's making America great again, it is Dr. Mona. She is making America great again as far as I'm concerned.


V. JONES: How does it strike you, this whole tone that, you know, refugees like your family were escaping shouldn't be here?

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes, and that's absolutely weaved into the story, because to know what I did in Flint and why I did it, you need to know where I came from. And I came to this country when I was four, fleeing tyranny, dictatorship, fascism, coming to this country for the American dream, for freedom, for opportunity, for democracy, and it was realized for me and my family. Lady liberty opened her arms and welcomed me and my family into this country, and I grew up competent and confident. I grew up with a lens that made me every day grateful to be in this country, realizing how lucky I was to be here. But also realizing what injustices are and how terrible people in power can be to vulnerable populations. And that is why I pledged my career to serve and to be in places like Flint.

So what is happening right now in this country where we are closing our doors to these children, literally closing our doors, crossing our arms, not letting these kids come in who are the same kids as I was a few decades ago, you must wonder what we are going to miss out on. So I wanted to share a positive immigrant story, especially from a country that's majority Muslim, where we are, you know, seeing a rise in hate crimes.

V. JONES: Well, listen, I'm so glad you are here.


V. JONES: I know for a fact that the parents of those children, those children are glad that you're here, too. What can we do? Listen, I think everybody should get your book.


V. JONES: It is a beautiful book, an amazing book. What can we do to help the people in Flint?

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes. So you are right. Buy my book. It is on Oprah's summer reading list, which is fantastic. So part of the proceeds of this book go to our Flint kids' fund. So, that is a way to give back. So this story is very much about the crisis, it is about the activism and resistance but it is about the hope. We are doing amazing things in Flint right now, protecting our children, that aren't being done anywhere else.

V. JONES: You know, you said that it is irreversible, some of the things that happened to these children. So this story is going to go on for a very long time.

HANNA-ATTISHA: Absolutely.

V. JONES: But your heroism and your leadership is something that is going to go on for a very long time, too.

I want to thank you for being here. The book is called "What The Eyes Don't See."

Now coming up, another environmental tragedy happening across the country. I want to talk with you about that and why we should be alarmed about the largest wildfire in California's history and the President's troubling sponsor nonresponse. That's next.


Thank you for being here.



[19:54:00] V. JONES: I want you to talk for just one minute about the wild fires we have been seeing in California this week. I'm going to throw a whole bunch of numbers at. These are life or death figure.

Right now, we have 12 fires that there raging including the largest one in the history of the state. More than 600,000 acres have already been torched. We already got billions of dollars of damages and tragically at least seven people have already died as a result.

Now, if this feels like the new normal, these big fires, that's because sadly it is the new normal. Four out of the five of the largest fires in California's history have all happened since 2012, four out of five. That is scary stuff.

But probably the scariest thing to me is the President's total refusal to acknowledge what's making these fires bigger, more common and more dangerous than ever.

Too much planet warming carbon pollution in the atmosphere heating everything up. Donald Trump's tweets don't even make sense, OK. Donald Trump says that firefighters can't access readily available water to put out the fires. That's not true. The firefighters have plenty of water. What they don't have is the ability to control the weather which is hotter and dryer than ever. And it is not just United States. Not just California. All around the world. Deadly heat waves.

Eighty people have died in Japan as a result of a record heat wave, 92 died in a wild fire in Greece last month made worse by the hot, dry conditions.

We got to face reality. We got one planet to live on and human pollution is changing the atmosphere at an alarming rate. Deadly climate disruption is not just a crisis for the future. It's here, it's now and unfortunately we got some young people trying to do something about it.

Twenty-one activists sued the Trump administration for ignoring the perils of climate change and Supreme Court just rule that their lawsuit has merit.


V. JONES: So pick shout out. The earth audience and our children trust and fighting for a better future. The rest of us need to step up to and insist the politicians in both parties curb the pollution, give us clean energy. In the meantime, let's keep California's 13,000 brave firefighters in our prayers.

I'm Van Jones. This is THE VAN JONES SHOW. Peace and love for one another.

Thank you very much.