PBS NewsHour full episode, June 1, 2021
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: 100 years later. The anniversary of the Tulsa massacre renews calls to address the massive and widening racial wealth gap in the U.S. Then: a deadly surge. Latin America sees massive spikes in COVID cases across the region, after the explosion of the virus in Brazil. Plus: Rethinking College. Questions arise about applications and tuition for community
colleges amid a precipitous drop in enrollment, especially among students of color. FEDERICO ZARAGOZA, President, College of Southern Nevada: Financial reasons was the primary reason given for students stopping out. Almost 40 percent of those students had a scenario where they had to decide between rent, food and a college expense. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden has spent this day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recalling the racial massacre on this date in 1921 that left hundreds of Black citizens dead. He met with survivors and touted plans for a racial reckoning. We will have a story after the news summary. The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear Johnson & Johnson's appeal of a $2 billion verdict over its talc products; 22 cancer victims alleged the company's baby powder and other products contain asbestos that cause ovarian cancer. A jury in Missouri agreed.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 21,000 similar lawsuits. Florida is now the largest state yet to ban transgender athletes from girls and women's sports teams in public schools and universities. The new law enables athletes to sue if they lose to transgender competitors. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill in Jacksonville today, and argued it's about equity, not discrimination.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It's not a message to anything other than saying we're going to protect fairness in women's sports. We believe that it's important to have integrity in the competition, and we think it's important that they're able to compete on a level playing field. JUDY WOODRUFF: Opponents charge the law endangers an already vulnerable group. Pope Francis revised church law today to criminalize sexual abuse of adults by clergy. Laypeople who hold church office will also be criminally liable for abusing adults or children. The
changes follow scandals over -- in the Catholic Church over seminarians and nuns being sexually victimized by their superiors. Slaughterhouses across the U.S., Canada and Australia have shut down after a new ransomware attack. It targeted JBS, the world's largest meat processor. Several large JBS plants in the U.S. stopped slaughter operations today. The White House says a criminal gang in Russia is the likely culprit.
On the pandemic, the White House is set to resume full in-person staffing next month, with some exceptions allowed. Meanwhile, the Paycheck Protection Program officially ended today. Overall, it lent nearly a trillion dollars to small businesses. The United States today formally ended the policy of making legal asylum seekers from Central American stay in Mexico while their cases are decided. The Trump era restriction affected thousands of migrants. President Biden had paused the program in January.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 45 points to close at 34575. But the Nasdaq fell 12 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two. Still to come on the "NewsHour": what the Tulsa massacre reveals about economic racial disparities today; how to combat a massive spike in COVID cases across Latin America; questions arise about community college tuition amid a precipitous drop in enrollment; plus much more.
And now to Tulsa a century after a storm of racial killing engulfed the city. The president's visit today came as the nation is reassessing race relations past, present and future. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: One hundred years after the Tulsa race massacre, President Biden came to mark one of the darkest chapters in American history. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn't mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases
nothing. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: He's the first U.S. president to travel to Tulsa to do so. He acknowledged the scars seared onto the nation's conscience. JOE BIDEN: Private planes, private planes dropping explosives, the first and only domestic aerial assault of its kind on an American city, here in Tulsa. Eight of Greenwood's
nearly two dozen churches burned, like Mount Zion. My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre. (APPLAUSE) YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Mr. Biden also met with survivors of the massacre. In 1921, from May 31 to June 1, a white mob rampaged through the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was once a thriving African American community known as Black Wall Street. The violence killed as many as 300 Black people. Thousands of Black families were left homeless
and fighting for survival. And 35 city blocks lay in ruins. A century later, Mr. Biden's visit came amid a national reckoning on racial justice in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. The president has pledged to do more to address racial inequities and to try lessening the racial wealth gap. A survey released last year by the Federal Reserve found that the median wealth of Black families is less than 15 percent of white families. The median for white families was
$188,000, compared to just $24,000 for Black families. Today, the Biden administration announced several new initiatives aimed at tackling those disparities, including an effort to combat inequity in home appraisals and housing discrimination, boosting the share of federal contracts by 50 percent over five years for small and disadvantaged businesses. JOE BIDEN: Does anyone doubt this whole nation will be better off from the investments? The rich will be just as well-off. The middle class will do better, and everybody will do
better. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president also would use funds tied to his proposed American Jobs Plan, including $10 billion for community-led infrastructure projects and $31 billion in small business programs to increase access to capital. The Tulsa centennial has also fueled a national conversation about reparations for centuries of slavery and racial discrimination.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Yamiche joins me now. So, Yamiche, tell us a little bit more about the reactions to the president's visit to Tulsa today and more about what he's saying about how to address the enormous racial wealth gap in this country. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, President Biden's history-making trip was definitely welcomed by many people, but it was also a met with a lot of questions that remain unanswered tonight. So, President Biden spoke at length about the massacre in Tulsa. He said that this was really a scar on our nation's history. He said that this is something that we need to learn about, that the nation really needs to confront and deal with and contend with its dark past.
But he also talked about the fact that he needs to do more and that the country needs to do more right now to deal with this racial wealth gap, which is why you saw the White House today roll out these initiatives. The big question, though, is what can be done for the people of Tulsa right now? There are survivors that the president met with who are 106, 107 years old who say that, right now, they are not able to pay their bills. They were unable -- they were never able to close -- go to school. And there are a lot of people who wondering whether or not there should be reparations for those people right now. The White House is not answering that question. They do say
that the president supports a study on reparations. That being said, the president did also announce that Vice President Harris, she's going to be leading the administration's effort on fighting back against Republican-led efforts when it comes to voting rights. The president said that Republicans are really doing un-American things in trying to restrict voting. Of course, Republicans have said that a lot of those laws are aimed at voter integrity, even though there was no widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yamiche, how are these proposals being received? We know there's already quickly come some criticism of what the president did not talk about. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: That's right. So, the president talked a lot about disadvantaged communities and really trying to work on lessening this racial wealth gap. But there are a number of people, including the president of the NAACP, who are saying the president really needs to deal with student loan debt.
And they say, the NAACP, that that disproportionately impacts Black Americans, especially Black students. And they say until you start talking about student loan debt, you can't get to homeownership, you can't get to business ownership, because people are tied down with that sort of debt. Now, the president, when he was a candidate, said that he was supportive of a plan that would wipe out, erase, that is, $10,000 worth of student loan debt for each American. But since his election, he has not moved forward with any plans like that. The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, he says that they're looking into whether or not the president can wipe out student loan debt with only executive action. That is a question still hanging in the air. So, student loans is really top of mind. And the
president did not deal with that today. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche Alcindor reporting on President Biden visit to Tulsa today. Thank you, Yamiche.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Tulsa's history is casting a larger light on the long-term effects of institutional racism, lost income and opportunities, and the toll this all takes on the financial well-being of Black Americans. The wealth gap that Yamiche mentioned and reported on is believed to have widened last year during the pandemic, and it exists among all levels of education. We explore this now and the president's initiatives with William Darity. He's a professor of economics and African American studies at Duke University. He has long studied and written about this.
Professor Darity, very good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us. We know what happened in Tulsa 100 years ago, horrible in human terms. What about in economic terms? What did it mean over time, not only for the people of Tulsa, but more broadly for Black Americans across this nation? WILLIAM DARITY, Duke University: So, it's been estimated the property losses, apart from the casualties and death, the property losses are estimated at a present value of in excess of $600 million today. And the implications across time have to do with the deprivation of resources for multiple generations. Tulsa's only one example or one instance of this type of atrocity. There were upwards of 100 massacres of this type that took place in the United States from the end of the Civil War into the 1940s, which had tremendous implications for the capacity of previous generations of Black Americans to provide resources for subsequent generations. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you have done, I know, a lot of thinking, a lot of writing about what is due, not only the individuals who experienced these massacres, riots across the country, but to Black Americans across time.
And what, in general, do you believe is owed? WILLIAM DARITY: So, I believe that the difference in wealth between Black and white Americans best captures the cumulative intergenerational effects of all of these atrocities, including the fact that, at the very end of the Civil War, Black Americans were promised 40-acre land grants that were never delivered. And so, if we look over time, the Black-white wealth gap is a consequence of what has occurred over multiple generations, and it captures the disadvantage that has accumulated for current generations. And it amounts to $840,900, on average, between a Black and white household. Another way to think about this is, Black Americans who have ancestors who were enslaved in the United States constitute about 12 percent of the nation's population, but possess less than 2 percent of the nation's wealth. So, if we were going to close that gap, it would require us to make a national expenditure in excess of $11 trillion. JUDY WOODRUFF: Eleven trillion, an enormous sum.
And what we are hearing from President Biden today is, among other things, he's talking about addressing housing inequities, doing -- taking a number of specific steps to try to ensure that the racial gap in the homes and the availability of housing is improved. He's also looking at economic opportunity, helping businesses. How far do steps like these go toward accomplishing the kind of broad reparations you're speaking about/ WILLIAM DARITY: So, this is a situation in which the proposal are not necessarily bad ideas, but they won't go very far in terms of eliminating racial wealth differences. The amounts are simply too small, and the focus is targeted on specific asset areas that are not necessarily the full range of assets in which there's a difference in Black and white wealth ownings.
So, if you look at -- if you look at the typical American's combination of assets, about 25 percent are attributable to an individual's primary residence, but a remaining 75 percent is attributable to retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, business ownership, and nonresidential real estate. And so a focus exclusively on homeownership is not going to get us very far. And the amount that's proposed is extremely small relative to the entire gap. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the Biden administration, at this point, is not speaking about, they're not taking a position on reparations. They have said it's something that they are studying. But one can assume that part of what's going on here is the political reality of how difficult it would be to get something of that magnitude passed through the Congress, when the president is having a hard time even getting something like infrastructure through. WILLIAM DARITY: So, it's over 155 years due.
But you're correct. I don't think it's likely that a serious reparations plan would pass the current Congress. However, there has been a sea change in public attitude about reparations for Black Americans. In the year 2000, only about 4 percent of white Americans endorsed reparations. By the year 2018, that percentage had risen to 16, low, but definitely not 4
percent. And, today, the best estimates suggest that it's about 30 percent of Americans who endorse the idea of reparative justice for Black Americans. So, the momentum is moving in the right direction. We will have to see if this is something sustainable.
But other types of policies like the president is proposing fall far short from addressing the racial wealth gap. JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear what you're saying, Professor Darity. They fall short. And we didn't mention the aid the president is speaking about in terms of transportation, where entire communities have been split open and divided because of highways, for example, that have gone through. But are these kinds of steps, are they harmful, or is it that they just -- are they -- can they even count as first steps toward what you are saying is necessary? WILLIAM DARITY: If they were indeed steps that held the promise for a comprehensive effort in the future, then I would be more enthusiastic about them. These are not bad things to do. They just will not have much of an effect on the Black-white
wealth gap. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, if you could say something right now to President Biden about what else he should do, what would it be? WILLIAM DARITY: I think it would be very, very exciting and encouraging if he were to appoint a presidential commission to address the history of racial atrocities in the United States and design a full-scale proposal for reparations. He has said that he's in favor of some type of commission, but it seems that it's a congressional commission that he's referring to. I think it would be very impressive if we had a presidential commission to take on that task. JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor William Darity of Duke University, we thank you very much.
WILLIAM DARITY: Thank you for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Costa Rica, meeting with leaders from Central America. One of the likely topics will be vaccine equity, as the COVID-19 crisis across Latin America and the Caribbean worsens. Today, in Peru, the government revised the official death toll, almost tripling it to 180,000, making it the worst death rate per capita in the world.
It's where producer Ali Rogin begins her report. ALI ROGIN: In Lima, Peru, sprawling hillside cemeteries are reaching their limits, leaving the family of COVID-19 victim Joel Bautista desperate. KETTY BAUTISTA, Sister of COVID-19 Victim (through translator): We have decided to bury him in the garden in front of my house, because there is no solution. What else can I do with
my dead brother in my house? ALI ROGIN: The Bautistas found a burial plot at the last moment. But across Latin America, families like them are dealing with a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Argentina has been under strict lockdown since late May, when cases skyrocketed. South America's largest soccer tournament, the Copa America, was supposed to take place in Argentina.
But on Monday, officials moved it to Brazil, where cases also remain high. Some Brazilians said the move was misguided. AMAURI BARBOSA, Brazilian Citizen (through translator): The country is not yet ready to host a Copa America because of the health issues. They have not taken care of those
of us here. Imagine those who come from other countries. ALI ROGIN: In Colombia, intensive care units are stretched beyond their capacities. In Ecuador, this hospital turned a cafeteria into a COVID ward, then added tents as the numbers grew. ALVARO GAIBOR, IESS Quito Sur Hospital (through translator): In recent weeks the hospital is at 130 percent to 150 percent of its capacity. ALI ROGIN: In May, Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for about 30 percent of COVID deaths worldwide, despite being only 8 percent of the global population. COVID variants are among the chief culprits. The P-1 strain, first detected in the Brazilian
Amazon, has spread throughout the region. In Peru, officials say it's caused 40 percent of new cases. VIOLETA BERMUDEZ, President, Peru Council of Ministers (through translator): We are certain of the presence of the Brazilian variant, with cases in between eight and 10 regions around the country where we have a significant frequency of it. ALI ROGIN: Critics blame Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for what they say is a cavalier attitude. JAIR BOLSONARO, Brazilian President (through translator): To health professionals, we regret the deaths from COVID and the other deaths in Brazil. But we must face the problem. Life goes on. We are already talking about the third wave.
If the third wave comes we will also have the fourth, fifth, sixth, infinite waves. Of course, we hope against it, but we must face it. ALI ROGIN: Bolsonaro discouraged social distancing and face masks. He dismissed COVID-19 as a little flu and encouraged the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure. In Brazil's largest cities, tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated over the weekend, blaming Bolsonaro for the high death toll.
JOANA MARTINS, Protester (through translator): Impeachment now. Out with Bolsonaro. I can't stand him anymore. There will be more deaths if he stays on. ROBERTO MEDRONHO, Epidemiologist (through translator): The COVID pandemic is down to a disastrous policy from the federal government, of an anti-scientific policy of denial that goes against social distancing because of the claim it will profoundly affect the economy. ALI ROGIN: A low vaccination rate is making matters worse. As of late May, only 3 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean were fully vaccinated. The United States has come under pressure to share its vaccine surplus with Latin America, in part to counter China's conditional vaccine diplomacy. Honduras has struggled to get Chinese
vaccines because of its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Neighboring El Salvador, an ally of China, donated some of its stockpile. FRANCISCO ALABI, Health Minister of El Salvador (through translator): The Salvadoran people are with the Honduran people with this humanitarian donation going beyond borders. ALI ROGIN: China is also sending vaccines to Uruguay. Seen as an initial success story, the country's cases are surging. It secured enough vaccines for just over half its population. President Luis Lacalle Pou said China's help signified strengthening ties.
LUIS LACALLE POU, President of Uruguay: We are ready to upgrade our bilateral cooperation in the area of health. I would consider it very firmly. ALI ROGIN: In some cases, even aggressive vaccine diplomacy is insufficient. So far, Bolivia has only received about 5 percent of the five million doses it expected from Russia. JOSE RAFAEL VILAR, Bolivian Analyst (through translator): Since the vaccination of people with kidney diseases and cancer began, the process has accelerated a little. But we see this could go on until 2026 or even 2027.
ALI ROGIN: As the virus worsens all over the region, it's exposing deep fractures between governments and citizens. In Colombia, demonstrators defied second wave lockdowns starting in late April, responding to a planned middle-class tax hike intended to help the pandemic-stricken economy. But even after President Ivan Duque withdrew it, the marches grew, as did the demands. Now protesters are calling for widespread government and police reform.
LUIS CARLOS GARCIA, Professor (through translator): Colombia has lost its fear, and we will keep on until there is real change. ALI ROGIN: Police are using increasingly brutal tactics. Since protests began, 63 people have died and hundreds have been reported missing. Health officials worry that deaths will continue to rise as protesters contract COVID-19. MONICA ROJAS, ICU Nurse (through translator): We can't continue like this. We need to take
measures, so as to resolve the political issues of the country. But now it is a matter of life and death. ALI ROGIN: Across the region, the COVID crisis is also fueling an economic one. In Chile, the government is allowing citizens to draw down their pensions for a third time, which economists say is only forestalling a bigger disaster. VICENTE ESPINOZA, Sociologist (through translator): It is the only available alternative. But
this is like selling your fridge to buy food. The reality is, you're making it worse. ALI ROGIN: But the people of Latin America are also determined to make it better. In Medellin, Colombia, a group of engineers and physicians responded to a ventilator shortage by building their own model from scratch. Mechanical engineer Mauricio Toro spearheaded
the project. MAURICIO TORO, CEO, Techfit Digital Surgery: One of the biggest challenges that we had was, all the parts that were necessary for the ventilators were not available. So, we ended up having to manufacture parts locally, to tweak existing parts that were not 100 percent the part that we needed, but modifying them and making them fit to purpose. ALI ROGIN: Three weeks later, the team had three working prototypes, which quickly made their way into hospitals. MAURICIO TORO: So, there was definitely a learning curve.
And the team, I would say none of us had ever made a ventilator. And every time we talk to a doctor and they say, we used the ventilator and it worked as expected, just fills us with pride, because we know it's one more life that we have saved. ALI ROGIN: One more life saved and one fewer addition to a growing death toll in a region in crisis.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Ali Rogin. JUDY WOODRUFF: Graduation season is in full swing at colleges and universities around the country. Even though the pandemic is easing its grip in the U.S., it's triggered many bigger questions about what schools should be doing in the months to come. We start a special series tonight, and begin with the latest on community colleges. They
have long been seen as an opportunity for students of all backgrounds to earn a degree. But those same students have been some of the hardest-hit by the pandemic. And many have had to drop out. Hari Sreenivasan reports for our series Rethinking College. FANDREA PRESTON, College Student: May of 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was
carrying my second son. I was 16 weeks' pregnant. HARI SREENIVASAN: By the time Fandrea Preston finally finished her cancer treatment, COVID-19 had shut down much of the country. But after 10 years as a medical assistant, in the middle of a pandemic, the mother of three decided to go to community college. FANDREA PRESTON: My husband was like: "You need to do something." He was like: "You know how your task-oriented, driven person." He was like: "You are going to need to do something."
So, he was like: "Go to school for cybersecurity." HARI SREENIVASAN: Now in her first semester at Northern Virginia Community College, Fandrea's able to do all of her classes online, take care of her kids at home, and is already applying for jobs. But that's not the story for many community college students in the U.S. right now. Between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020, nationwide enrollment in public two-year colleges dropped 10 percent. This spring, the slide continued, and it was even worse among students of color. Colleges enrolled around 14 percent fewer Black and Latinx students and nearly 20 percent fewer indigenous students. FULISHA OSCAR, College Student: My youngest son was getting an award at school, and he didn't tell me. And, as a mom, that really broke my heart. It was kind of in that moment
I knew that I needed to get one job that would be able to help me provide for my family. HARI SREENIVASAN: At the time, Fulisha Oscar was working three jobs. But now the single mother of six is working on her associates degree at Madera Community College in Central California.
She is a survivor of domestic violence and wants to use her degree to one day open a shelter. FULISHA OSCAR: I wake up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, and I put a computer desk and a computer in my closet, so that I could actually have a quiet area to study. HARI SREENIVASAN: But when the coronavirus came to California, work dried up and the family was forced to stay at home. For Fulisha, school became overwhelming. FULISHA OSCAR: Our Internet wouldn't work. Then we couldn't -- our -- the Zooms were
crashing. There was no space. So you got to think about it. There are six school-aged children, right, from college all the way down to elementary, plus me. I'm in college. We're all trying
to log into Zooms. We're all trying to do our homework. It's just so much noise. It was so -- you couldn't focus. HARI SREENIVASAN: So, last summer, she dropped out. FULISHA OSCAR: And this is a highlight palette. HARI SREENIVASAN: After getting a makeup resale business up and running, and better adjusting to remote life, Fulisha had enough funds and confidence to return to school last fall.
So, what should schools be doing for students like you? FULISHA OSCAR: I know a lot of people lost their jobs, so there was a worry about food or rent. Just remind them of the services available, that there's support. There are psychological services on campus. There's counselors, academic counselors on campus. HARI SREENIVASAN: At the College of Southern Nevada, the state's largest college, they're hoping to bring back students like Fulisha.
This fall, the school's enrollment declined 12 percent from the year before. The school sits in the heart of Las Vegas. That's a hub for hospitality and tourism. And, at its peak, last April, unemployment in the city hit 33 percent. Federico Zaragoza, the College of Southern Nevada's president, says the economic shutdown had an immediate impact on his students.
FEDERICO ZARAGOZA, President, College of Southern Nevada: Financial reasons was the primary reason given for students stopping out. Almost 40 percent of those students had a scenario where they had to decide between rent, food and a college expense. And many of our students were more comfortable with an in person environment than online courses. HARI SREENIVASAN: Zaragoza hopes that, by connecting students to financial assistance, food pantries and mental health counseling, they can help students get back on a successful career path. FEDERICO ZARAGOZA: Even if you have more people looking for work, if the skills that they bring aren't the line to the skills required by employers, you're still going to have structural unemployment.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Why has this decline has been so severe? Tom Brock and his colleagues at Columbia University's Community College Research Center have pored over U.S. census data and find households with community college students are harder-hit. In a lot of these households, if the breadwinners lose their job, the person who might be going to community college might be kind of drafted in to help the house. THOMAS BROCK, Columbia University Community College Research Center: Absolutely. And it's important to remember that it may be the breadwinner himself or herself who is the community college student.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But Northern Virginia Community College has been able to buck this national trend. NVCC's president, Anne Kress, says enrollment increased this year. What did you do to make that happen? ANNE KRESS, President, Northern Virginia Community College: We got out $750,000 in emergency aid very quickly. We were able to loan laptops. We turned our parking lots into Wi-Fi hot spots. We also turned individuals who work at our college into what we called remote student support specialists. They reached out to students who might be a little bit missing in action. They let them know about the aid that they would qualify for. They let them know that
we were here to help them. HARI SREENIVASAN: On top of the school's efforts, Kress says Virginia's new free community college initiative could have a significant impact on students. The program provides free tuition for low- and middle-income students in high demand fields, as well as funding for other expenses, like transportation and childcare. That extra help can make a huge difference for students like Fandrea Preston. FANDREA PRESTON: I'm not working right now due to the pandemic. And I'm trying to better myself with a career and to provide for my family in the future. So these funds are going
to help me with the childcare and utilities and food to put on my table, and not have to worry about, are my lights going to get cut off? HARI SREENIVASAN: And if community colleges cannot hold onto their students, Tom Brock believes the effects could ripple across the labor force. THOMAS BROCK: Community colleges largely train health care workers, for example. They also train students in careers like construction and welding and other things needed, literally, quite literally, to get the economy humming again. HARI SREENIVASAN: Some worry that, even if schools can get students back in class, the average completion rate for community college students is still very low. As of 2019, only 40 percent of two-year college students complete their degree. But for Fandrea
Preston and Fulisha Oscar, they know how important their education is. FULISHA OSCAR: I wanted my children to see how important education was. And I kind of felt like it was my responsibility, as the example and the head of the household, to kind of not only say it, but to act it out. FANDREA PRESTON: I know everyone is going through something. Everyone is. I mean, it is hard, but you have to keep pushing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And they're both confident they won't let a pandemic get in their way. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Hari Sreenivasan. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tennis star Naomi Osaka's decision this week to withdraw from the French Open has led to major reaction and new conversations about professional athletes, mental health and the media. At 23 years old, she's not just the winner of four Grand Slams and ranked second among women in tennis. She's also the highest paid female athlete in the world.
Amna Nawaz explores some of the issues this case has raised. AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, this all began when Naomi Osaka refused to speak to reporters after her first round victory at Roland-Garros on Sunday. She was fined $15,000. Then the leaders of the Grand Slam tournaments threatened suspension or even disqualification if Osaka did not meet her contractual obligations. Now, Osaka issued her own lengthy statement yesterday on Twitter, announcing she'd be withdrawing from the tournament to protect her mental health. She shared she suffered -- quote -- "long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in
2018" and also what she called huge waves of anxiety before speaking to global media. For more on this, I'm joined by Zina Garrison. She's three-time mixed doubles Grand Slam champion, Olympic gold medalist and a former top five tennis player in the world, and also Howard Bryant. He's a sportswriter and author with Meadowlark Media. He's the author of the recent book "Full Dissidence" and a children's book about Serena and Venus Williams called "Sisters and Champions." Welcome to you both, and thank you so much for being here.
Zina Garrison, I want to start with you, because you know what it is to be a superstar in this sport, to compete at the highest level, the pressure that comes with it. When Osaka said she wasn't going to do the press conferences because it was bad for her mental health, what was your reaction? ZINA GARRISON, U.S. Olympic Champion: Well, my immediate thought was that someone probably should have talked to her before she actually put out the statement that she wasn't doing any press.
But -- and my second thought was that she was in trouble. So, I noticed that -- right after Miami, that she actually said she was not going to be playing some tournaments, that she needed a rest. And so I kind of felt something was going on with her mentally. But the most important thing is that it's really tough, because, when you ask to step away and you ask people to let me step away, and then they don't give you that opportunity, and then it blows up to something else, it just builds on. More pressure comes on.
AMNA NAWAZ: Howard, help us understand what she's talking about here, though, because Osaka says it's those press conferences, having to take the questions. Give us a sense of what goes on in that room, because a lot of people say, this is part of this deal. When you compete at this level, you sit before journal journalists, and you take their questions.
What would you say to that? HOWARD BRYANT, Meadowlark Media: Well, it's not just people who say that's part of the deal. It's the tournaments themselves. They're contractually obligated to be in those rooms. However, I just feel like, when you're looking at this, I just see no reason why this had to escalate to the degree that it did. Here's what happens with the -- with media. Essentially, you go in to press -- and Zina
knows this. Tennis players have the most -- they have -- they're one of the athletes -- it's an individual sport. It's a lonely sport. You're by yourself. And you do press after matches.
There's no open locker room. There's no -- it's not 24/7 access. However, immediately following wins and losses, you go. And there's a cooling-off period of 15 minutes, 20 minutes. And, sometimes, winners take a little bit longer time.
But then you sit down and you talk. If you're going to win a championship, you're probably doing this eight times. And over the course of -- over the course of a season, you're 'answering so many of the same questions. And I think, especially because you don't have teammates, you're being asked especially your deficiencies. And when you're looking at someone like Naomi Osaka, she was entering a period of the calendar where she does not play well. She hadn't played well on clay.
She hadn't played on grass. Take that, combined with the fact that you have got the Olympics looming. Combine that with the fact that she's going to be asked to defend her U.S. Open championship, and then take all of that and then add to it the year anniversary both of the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake, where she took a very prominent role, and it's very, very clear that the pressure is getting to her in terms of being out front. AMNA NAWAZ: Zina Garrison, about this? Because this isn't about any one thing. It's not just
about the sport, just about mental health. She is a Black woman who competes in a predominantly white sport in tennis. And you can't really kind of take apart all of those issues. They're all complicated and layered together. So, what about that? How much of a role do you think that plays? ZINA GARRISON: Well, I was going to say, that plays a big part of it. And it's a role that, unless you're a Black athlete or in a -- basically an all-white sport, you tend not to understand. Sometimes, it's just pressure, getting in, having to be able to go to the tennis court, and somebody just asking you to see your badge because they don't believe that you can play. There's little bitty things.
But, in Osaka's case, she made $52 million last year. So, naturally, everybody's like, oh, so what's the big deal? She shouldn't have any problems or whatever. Well, she has sponsorships. She has people that are counting on her. She has to pay her team members. Everybody's pulling at her. She -- and, also, these young players, especially young tennis players, they don't really have true friends. When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to have at least my high school friends that I could go and talk to when you don't talk about tenants. Now everyone around them is
talking about -- or trying to figure out how they can make them number one, or how they can get more sponsorship. So -- and then you having to rely on social media and some of your friends or put things out that maybe you don't want to put out, and then someone comes back and says something. That's pressure within itself. HOWARD BRYANT: Yes, I think Zina makes an amazing point here. AMNA NAWAZ: Zina... HOWARD BRYANT: I was going to say that Zina is making an amazing point that we're not paying enough attention to as well.
I think we have a real generational issue here as well. I think that, when you're looking at the way that this generation communicates, I think Zina made the point immediately that, once this went public, you're no longer talking about mental health and talking about what's going on with Naomi Osaka. Now it's a fight. ZINA GARRISON: Yes. HOWARD BRYANT: Now it's a fight between the Grand Slams, and it's between her, because I still feel like this story exploded the way that it did because the Instagram post took away any sort of behind-the-scenes diplomacy. And then the Grand Slams, instead of the -- instead of the French Open dealing with this individually, they go to Wimbledon. Then they consult with the U.S. Open. Then they consult with Tennis
Australia. And now it looks like you have got this entire industry ganging up on a 23-year-old. AMNA NAWAZ: Howard, let me just ask you, what about that? Now, we have the Grand Slam tournaments coming out with a statement just this afternoon saying now that they do support Osaka, they will welcome her back when she's ready, but also saying that they're going to take steps to -- quote -- "improve the player experience" at the tournaments, including as it relates to media. What did you take away from that? What does that look like? HOWARD BRYANT: Well, what I take away from this is that these are the conversations that should have taken place behind closed doors over the past several months. Number one, people have said that, well, if you have mental health issues, you cannot guess and determine and anticipate when that's going to happen. But when you read Naomi's
statement, she's been dealing with this for a few years now. She already played to clay tournaments. She played Madrid and she played Rome. And somewhere along the line, someone in her team could have said, we need to go to the French Federation and say: I'm not doing well. Is there a way -- these press conferences are nowhere near worth having the number two player in the world not be there. There's no reason that this could have happened -- that this happened the way that it happened, except for the fact that these sides did not communicate. There had to be a work-around.
There are plenty of ways to deal with this. Everybody lost here. She is climbing to a degree right now. She's got four majors already. The fans lost. The tournament lost. Everybody has lost in this, simply because of the lack of communication. AMNA NAWAZ: Zina, what about the mental health part of this? Because, obviously, there's an epidemic in America. One in every five Americans has some kind of mental health diagnosable illness at any given year.
Someone like Naomi Osaka, at the top of her game, number two in the world, the highest paid female athlete in the world, to come out and say this in this way, does this reveal this is actually much more prevalent at this level than we previously knew? ZINA GARRISON: Well, it's very interesting, because Naomi would be the one that has brought up that there's not only mental health in the world, but there's mental health in sports. And I say that because we have championed her for what she was doing for social justice. And then now I don't think she was asking for this, but she has brought up something now that we're talking about which has been going on for quite some time with different athletes. But, for different athletes, when they come out and they say they need a rest or they're doing something and they say, oh, there's something wrong with them or they're crazy, without looking into the actual background of it. HOWARD BRYANT: And one last thing to that, to Zina's point, is that these athletes are taught from day one, overcome. And if you don't, you're soft. If you don't, you're not
tough enough, mental toughness, mental toughness, Mamba Mentality, all of these things. And there's no room in this, because, especially in tennis, you have no coaches, you have no teammates, you have no one to talk to. ZINA GARRISON: Yes. HOWARD BRYANT: And so everything that you do out there is up to you. So, the pressure that is on these athletes is enormous and substantial. And we make it seem like it's not a big deal because of two things, one, the enormous amount of money.
And, two, we have this paternalism where we say, you're making a lot to play a kid's game. It's not a kid's game. It's a $100 billion industry. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, for all the controversy, all the debate, Naomi Osaka has us talking about all these important issues. And that is absolutely a good first step.
Zina Garrison and Howard Bryant, thank you so much for your time. HOWARD BRYANT: Thank you. ZINA GARRISON: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: After a year of grief and sorrow for so many, a new book by acclaimed author Chimamanda Adichie explores the writer's recent personal sense of loss of a beloved father. She was at her family home in Lagos, Nigeria, when she spoke with Jeffrey Brown for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: Like families everywhere amid pandemic, the Nigerian-born Adichie family, spread across three continents, found a semblance of connection through Zoom. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE, Author, "Notes on Grief": On 7 June, there was my father, only his forehead on the screen, as usual, because he never quite knew how to hold his phone during video calls. "Move your phone a bit, daddy," one of us would say. JEFFREY BROWN: Days later, 88 year old James Nwoye Adichie was dead of complications from liver failure.
CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: "On June 10, he was gone. My brother called to tell me. And I came undone." JEFFREY BROWN: The words are from "Notes on Grief" by James' daughter, Chimamanda, celebrated as one of the world's leading writers, author of novels such as "Half of a Yellow Sun" and "Americanah." CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: Culture does not make people. People make culture. JEFFREY BROWN: Her TED Talks "We Should All Be Feminists" and "The Danger of a Single Story," calling for an openness toward the culture of others, have attracted millions of viewers. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: I am a storyteller. I'm a believer in stories. And in trying to talk
about the things I care about, feminism and how important it is to have a diverse sort of world, I use stories And I think maybe people -- because there's something very universal about stories, and I think that's what maybe people respond to. JEFFREY BROWN: Now the story is her own in a deeply personal essay about losing her father last year. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: I'm only starting to realize how much of my sense of comfort in the world comes from having been raised by him and by my mother.
And so, in some ways, maybe what I would also like for people to get out of this is how important it is to be -- and I know this sounds really cliche -- but how important it is to be a good parent. And I wanted this book to be a tribute to what it means to be a father. He was so present and so patient. And he gave us room to be who we were. JEFFREY BROWN: James Adichie studied mathematics in college in Nigeria, came to the U.S. to
get his Ph.D. at Berkeley and then became Nigeria's first professor of statistics, a beloved teacher for decades, patriarch of a close-knit family. You write in the book, grief is a cruel kind of education. What did you learn about grief that most surprised you? CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: I was surprised to discover that I could laugh a day after my father died. And it was surprising to me that laughter is part of grief.
And I also realized how much anger I felt and still feel about losing my father. And I have just been surprised by how it is such a multifaceted thing. There are moments when I think I'm fine, and I will be fine, and there are moments when I think I'm just never going to be fine. And I just was not prepared. I was not prepared for all of that. JEFFREY BROWN: As with so many millions losing loved ones, the pandemic added to the sense of remoteness, in her case, literal, as she was unable for months to leave her home in the U.S. to be with her extended family in Nigeria.
CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: There's a measure, I think, of the death of a loved one being unreal, feeling that it hasn't happened. But when it's -- there's a kind of distance that -- Zoom calls and lockdowns and airports closed, it creates a kind of distance that makes it even more surreal. JEFFREY BROWN: Did your personal grief give you any better sense of how to confront the collective grief of the pandemic? CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: I just feel a lot more compassion for different kinds of pain that people are going through, particularly this period, the pain of absence, because it's not just death. It's also -- one of the things I think this pandemic has done is that it has frayed human connection, because we can't hug each other, and we don't see each other. And screens just don't -- it's just not the same thing.
JEFFREY BROWN: In March, as this book was going to print, a second loss, the death of her mother, Grace. The T-shirt she wore in our talk read "Daughter of Grace." Well, does writing help? I mean, you're a writer, of course. So you write. But this seems more personal.
CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: It does help. Writing actually does help. And when I teach writing, I like to say the standard thing, which is don't think of writing as therapy. But, actually, sometimes it is. And with this little book, which is really an essay, I found it very -- it was just my way of trying to find words.
I'm trying to, oh, I don't know, talk to myself, trying to make sense of things. Writing is -- language, in general, I think, is what I turn to as a reader and as a writer. And so I found it -- even after my mother died, I found myself trying to say the unsayable. And writing is the only thing that helps me do that -- and reading, I should say, and reading as well. JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is "Notes on Grief."
Chimamanda Adichie, thank you very much. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE: Thank you. It's lovely talking to you. JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden set a goal of 70 percent of Americans to have their first COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. To get there, states and cities have to be creative in their vaccine distribution.
As Gabriel Kramer from PBS station ideastream in Cleveland reports, small local businesses like barbershops are stepping up to help. GABRIEL KRAMER: Barbershops are, of course, known for haircuts, beard trims, and some friendly verbal jabs. MAN: You guys got lucky with that. GABRIEL KRAMER: But twice this month, Urban Kutz Barbershop on Cleveland's West Side was also a place to get another kind of jab,with a needle. They're offering the COVID-19 vaccine. WAVERLY WILLIS, Owner, Urban Kutz Barbershop: We are a trusted entity in the community. They know Urban Kutz. They know me.
GABRIEL KRAMER: Waverly Willis is the owner of Urban Kutz. He has a history of going the extra mile for his customers, free haircuts for the homeless and free blood pressure screenings for any patron, mostly men. WAVERLY WILLIS: Two or three of the gentleman who left here earlier, they told me that I was the reason that they got the vaccine. And that makes me feel good to know that, essentially, I guess they feel like they're trusting me with their lives.
GABRIEL KRAMER: So, when the Cleveland Department of Public Health sought to recruit businesses to distribute the vaccine, it's no wonder that Urban Kutz was the first business to opt in. Shan Smith did not get a haircut last weekend. He just came to the barbershop to get his shot. SHAN SMITH, Vaccine Recipient: I thought about not getting the shot at all, honestly. When I saw that this gentleman here was willing to make this available in his facility to the public, at the very least, I could support him, while helping others at the same time. It's all about community anyway.
GABRIEL KRAMER: Barbershops aren't the only out-of-the-ordinary locations offering COVID-19 vaccines. In Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, the Third Federal Savings And Loan turned its parking lot into a drive-through and walk-up vaccination site. One of the first in line was Third Federal employee Tiffany Watson. TIFFANY WATSON, Vaccine Recipient: That's why I came, because I didn't want to have to figure out, when am I going downtown,how I have to park or where am I going, how do I call to get it? So, I figured, while I'm working, I can just go. GABRIEL KRAMER: The convenience was intentional, but not just for employees. Anyone was welcome to get shots, which were given by MetroHealth Hospital staff.
DR. BROOK WATTS, MetroHealth Hospital: People work. People have all different life situations and different kinds of barriers. So, again, I think the idea is we need to try all kinds of new things, pull down those barriers and just make sure that folks can make choices that they feel comfortable making. GABRIEL KRAMER: Over at the barbershop, the goals were the same, make the vaccine easier to get and provide a comfortable place to get it. WAVERLY WILLIS: I'm going to continue to use Urban Kutz as a vehicle to help our community out. GABRIEL KRAMER: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Gabriel Kramer in Cleveland.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Such a great idea, creative, and it takes everybody pitching in. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.