tv Amanpour Company PBS January 22, 2019 12:00am-1:01am PST
hello, everyone. welcome to "amanpour and company." here's what's coming up. unacceptable and a nonstarter. that's democrats on president trump's idea of a compromise to end the government shutdown. amid the president's controversial plan to with draw troops from syria, former envoy brett mcgurk says trump's new policy will give isis a new lease on life. then on martin luther king day, the president of color for change, rashad robinson says how they can achieve racial equality and justice. plus the journalist and writer raniqua allen tells us why the
american dream is dead, at least for black millennials. >> unaworld is a proud sponsor. when bea's culinary career began she didn't know her cookbook recipes would make it to the cruise line. her locally inspired question sign is served through europe, asia, india and egypt. according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser. for more information visit unaworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, sue and edgar walkenheim, iii. the cheryl and philip willstein family. judy and josh weston. the jpb foundation, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
thank you. welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. as the longest government shutdown in history enters its fifth week, hundreds of thousands of federal employees remain without work and pay, including nearly a quarter of a million veterans who work for the government. one union says the former service personnel are among the hardest hit by the furlough. morale-sapping news at home and abroad in the field. after four americans were killed in a suicide blast in syria last week. at the very moment the president is rallying to with draw u.s. troops from the country. the decision sparked several high profile resignations from the administration. first, james mattis. then brett mcgurk who was the presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat isis. mcgurk's work spanned three administrations.
now he's written an op-ed. trump said he's giving it new life. everything the administration had been trying to achieve. worse, strips the united states of any leverage with its partners and adversaries in the region. brett mcgurk, welcome back to the program. >> thank you very much for having me. >> we talked to you a lot over the years when you were all sorts of different iterations of envoy, presidential envoy. basically isis point man over the last many, many years. you have resigned. it was a public letter and a public moment. i want to ask you first the consequences of the u.s. pullout. we hear today the turkish president has decided and has offered to be, you know, the security force for manbij, the famous town in northern syria. what does it mean? is that a good thing? should the u.s. be happy the
turks will take over? >> let me rewind the tape a little bit. when we started in 2014 when isis was controlling the territory in iraq and syria, 8 million iraqis and syrians were living under isis control. it was executing americans in horrible ways, planning attacks around the world. they are actually organized in manbij, paris, brussels. it was working hard to attack our homeland. it was using the infrastructure of a major city of raqqa. when we formed the coalition in late summer, early fall of 2014, we started with about 12 countries. it's grown to 75 countries. american leadership was critical to that. turkey was a key partner in this. our initial plan, plan b if you want to say that was to work
with turkey to get a handle on the problem. i spent most of my time in the first year including working with general allen. most of the time was spent in agra because most of the material coming to fuel the isis war machine was coming across the border from turkey to syria. we clearly identified that one of the things we wanted to do was work with the turks, a nato ally to control their border. it was frustrating because turkey didn't take much action on the border. we have worked hard with turkey in various ways and nothing has worked out. there are a number of reasons for it. i think our interests in syria in fundamental ways diverge. when president erdogan puts on the table things that look good in concept, we send our best planners to dig into what we can do together, it never pans out. i will give you an example.
the opposition groups that turkey supports that it would send, for example, into a safe zone are not groups the united states currently work with. they are closely tied with extremist groups. if you just look at the northern tier of syria and run across what's now the turkey border, that's an area that we don't operate in. it is an area of influence for turkey. it's dominated now entirely by groups with ties to al qaeda. all the border crossings with turkey are tied with al qaeda. a very serious problem. >> it is. i see what you are saying. you're saying that's not the solution to replace u.s. troops who are leaving. let me wind back a little bit the tape to when you first heard that the president was going to be removing u.s. troops from syria after all the gains you describe. >> first, we knew president
erdogan wanted to speak with president trump. president erdogan was saber-rattling about sending the turkish backed opposition forces and turk i are miish military f. our message was do not send your military forces in. that will create a very serious situation. frankly, it will put american lives at risk. that was the policy. when president erdogan called trump, president trump didn't say that. he basically said, look, we plan to leave syria fairly soon. then basically a green light. that just totally reversed everything we had been doing for a very long time. i was in iraq working with a new iraqi government on making sure we sustained the significant gains against isis. when i was informed of the call, i had a phone call with
secretary pompeo. i came home to washington to try to manage the fallout. i immediately got on the phone with my coalition partners in capitals around the world to try to explain what was happening. it was just a total reversal of what we had been telling them for months. >> you did resign. to be fair you were leaving mid february but you brought it up to december. in your letter to colleagues you said the recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy articulated to us. it left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered. you have explained about that. when you say -- what was your -- what came out of your mouth? what was the first thing you said when you got the call that this was going to happen? >> there were two ways to look at it. let's figure out a way to orchestrate that in a way that can achieve all of our objectives in syria including --
again, these are the instructions from the white house. this is not a policy cooked up in the state department. our policy in syria articulated by the white house security, john bolton and others is we would stay in syria until the enduring defeat of isis. number two, we'll stay in syria until iranians are out, whether or not that was realistic that was articulated again from the white house. number three, it was an i are revestable momentum was the phraseology to the u.n.-backed political process in geneva which dealt with the civil war and assad regime. if we are leaving syria, those objectives aren't achievable. another thing that concerned me is asking a military force to with draw under pressure or from a combat environment is one of the most difficult things you
can ask a military force to do. if the orders are -- and these are the orders from the president to with draw, that's the mission. the mission cannot be with draw and do a number of other things. complete the isis campaign, which of course we want to do, keep the russians and the regime out of the territory we influence, try to do some sort of engineering to allow turkey to come in to replace us and a number of other things. that's impossible to ask the few americans on the ground to do. it was really mission impossible. >> it sounds absolutely awful. i wonder before i get into more specifics about the particular fallout you were referring to, how does it make you feel as a person, as the sigh sis point man seeing four americans killed this week in the daily planets after president trump made his announcement. >> anyone who works on these issues, i have worked across three administrations, democrats, republicans, policies i supported, policies i thought unwise but your voice is at the
table. you try to influence things based upon the facts and analysis and you do the best you can. in syria, for example, we are not doing the fighting on the ground. for over three years in this campaign until just last week two americans had been killed in action. tragically last week we lost four additional americans. that pales in comparison to the forces who lost thousands of casualties in the campaign. american taxpayers aren't spending money on civilian reconstruction and other tasks. that's from the coalition we built. it is a very sustainable, low cost, high impact mission. >> the kind of mission, brett -- let me interrupt you -- that president trump would love. you said the magic words, low cost. other people are paying if bulk of the money it takes. >> again, to help design a campaign plan that was succeeding and was reaching a
kr critical phase and we were talking about the longer term transition and to have it upended in a phone call with a foreign leader without consultation with the secretary of defense, the team and others is not the way to run foreign policy effectively. this was a complete reversal. i am concerned about the the r void that the u.s. is leaving. a cozy relationship with iranians. you said one of the aim s was t stay until iran was no longer a viable player there. iran is staying and not only that, the president himself said iran can have it. we don't want it. it's just sand and death. i don't understand that policy. do you? >> you hit on a good point.
there is a bit of -- i will be careful with my word. there is incoherence between the views of the president and some of the most senior members of the national security team, particularly in the white house. the views of the president clearly, he's been consistent. he doesn't want to be overly invested in the middle east, particularly with u.s. military power. the views of the national security adviser are different. that's a divergence that makes our foreign policy -- lends an element of incoherence to it. we hear it from partners around the world. that's something ultimately, i think, they have to address. >> it's still weird. everything the president has done speaks to wanting to isolate iran, whether pulling out of the iran nuclear deal, being so cozy with saudi arabia despite everything including the khashoggi murder. then to say that it can have it if it wants, we don't want
syria, it's just sand and death. you just mentioned being presidential envoy, you are a presidential envoy for president trump. did you ever meet him? >> you know, every administration is different. with president bush in the white house, if i wasn't overseas every morning we were in the oval office. president obama, very regular exchanges. president trump just runs the operation differently. most of my interactions with the trump administration were with the secretary of defense, secretary of state or military kmapd commanders. i was involved in every major decision of the isis campaign. mr. trump interacts with his cabinet secretary. >> so the president didn't meet the presidential envoy to syria. >> right. >> are you concerned, as one writer said, senior fellow at brookings, the advent of a more unified predictable foreign policy is likely to destabilize the international order. a deeply divided trump
administration was the best case for those who believe in the united states' post war strategy defined by strong alliances and open global economy and broad supportr from democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the rest of it. >> i go back to my earlier point. there is a disconnect. my own personal experience. instructions from the white house from very senior levels of the white house to tell our partners, our allies, the russians, our adversaries, that we are staying in syria until these objectives are met. for example, until iran is leaving syria. those are instructions we were carrying from the white house. that was completely reversed by the president. we have to be realistic about the situation in syria. number one, i think we have to be realistic that president assad is staying in place. somehow we are going to work through a u.n. process to remove bashar al assad is unrealistic
at this point. if we continue to reach for unrealistic objectives u.s. credibility will be further diminished. >> in other words assad wins and gets it back. he wins and he gets all of syria back. >> well, that's the consequence of our leaving syria. announcing to the world we are leaving syria. i did a lot of negotiations with the russians on syria. i understand where they come from. those negotiations are tough. what gave us leverage at the table is the fact that we were present on the ground and influenced over a significant portion of syria. we drew lines on the map to make clear to the russians don't cross this line or you will have a bad day. that gives you leverage with the russians. we are getting to the point where with the defeat of the physical caliphate we would be able to sit down with the russians and have a serious conversation about the future of syria. announcing to the world we're just leaving, basically all of the leverage evaporates. >> not to put too fine a point on it, the main reason you
stated at the beginning for the u.s. presence and the u.s. campaign and the coalition campaign was to defeat isis. the president described isis as defeated, that's a quote, absolutely obliterated in terms of territory. of course many reports released late last year including the pentagon inspector general, center for strategic studies estimates there are 20,000 to 30,000 members in iraq and syria. is isis defeated? can the president leave syria knowing there will be no more threat from isis? >> it's a great question. in early december secretary mattis and i met with the military contributors of the coalition including many countries that were attacked from isis out of syria. the unanimous view was that isis is not defeated. this mission is not over. i don't think there would be a single expert that would walk in and tell the president this is over. that's why we said the mission was the enduring defeat of isis,
not just taking away the physical caliphate but getting arrangements to be sure a vacuum would not open in its wake. we were setting up the conditions with this serious, intense negotiation with the russians which was setting up in a good spot until, again, we throw away our leverage by announcing we're leaving. there is a serious risk to iraq. this is one-third of syria in which thousands of suicide bombers and foreign fighters poured in that we are now announcing to the world we are going to leave without having a plan for who will take our place. again, i think the consequences are quite serious. that's why i would recommend to the president to halt these orders, reassess the situation. short of that, we have to face the reality. >> you couldn't make it up really. it sounds perplexing for all the reasons you state. can i ask you to give me your personal analysis, opinion of
what role secretary mattis played and i don't just mean as a former commander as secretary of defense but as somebody who -- it has to be said -- the rest of the world looked to as an influence on a president who was not versed in military affairs or foreign affairs. >> secretary mattis is one of our greatest americans i had the honor to work with over the last two years. also, many times previously. really over the last decade. combat veteran. spent a lot of time in war zones. that's an important experience. you want to have people who know what it's like on the ground, know what we are talking about. his voice in the room was a critical stabilizing factor as the national security team deliberated and made decisions. when president trump came in, we did a strategic review of the counter-isis campaign. we looked at elements in which we could axccelerate the campain
and put decisions to the president. the president made the decisions and they were good decisions. that was a strategic review that was run by my office with secretary mattis and tiller son at the time. it was done professionally and thoroughly. >> have you heard from america's allies and partners, particularly the ones you have been talking to in the wake of the decision? >> there is concern about where this is heading. particularly our allies in europe that were prime targets for isis. the attacks in paris left 130 civilians dead in the streets of paris. that came from syria. they were planned in raqqa, organized in manbij. they sent a terrorist team out through syria to infiltrate paris. same thing with the brussels airport attack. these are serious threats emanating from syria. these countries and capitals have put their blood and treasure on the line as part of our coalition under the umbrella of american leadership. they are extremely concerned about the decision that was just
made and the fact that, again, we don't have a plan for what's coming. it's one thing to say we should leave syria. let's think of a plan. it is another to announce we are leaving syria and think of the plan later. that's what's going on now. it is increasing the risk to forces on the ground. increasing the risk to our partners who are under threat from isis. >> you have laid it out succinctly and touched on the fact that, yes, of course if we want to with draw troops we should have a plan, not do it vice versa. what do you say to the american people, to the president who ran on a promise of bringing back forces? these wars have been going on since 2001 after 9/11. they are the forever wars. people in america are fed up with them. >> again, it's a great question. that was obviously a driving influence within the trump presidency and president obama also, of course, had that view. it comes from the american
people and the experience of our country over the last decade. that's why, however, we designed the counter isis campaign to address it. this element of a very low cost, very high impact campaign. americans aren't fighting in the streets of syria. syrian cities and towns. raqqa was the capital of isis under which the plots were being hatched and launched. isis was taken down by syrians without the loss of a single american life. we designed the campaign to address it. >> my head is spinning. i recall very, very, very clearly so many in the national security of field and also trump when he was running, campaigning were very critical of president obama precipitously pulling out of iraq. what did that lead to? isis, the rise of isis. what did that lead to? reinserting tens of thousands if not more u.s. troops.
we have seen this movie before. >> in the middle east two things. presence matters and credibility matters. an american handshake has to matter and your presence on the ground matters. that does not mean we should have planned to stay in syria forever for 20 years. it does mean we should have presence on the ground to help us in a negotiation with adversaries like russia and our presence on the ground helps at the table. having been a diplomat on the table you want that at your back. the consistency of american foreign policy and the leadership behind you and presence on the ground. that's what a diplomat needs to get things done. we pulled the pluggen oh it. >> brett mcgurk, former presidential envoy for syria and isis. thank you very much indeed. >> thank you, christiane. >> hard to know how one will navigate without of the difficult tunnel now. we are turning to a day of moral reflection.
america is marking martin luther king day. no public holiday for congress because of the continued shutdown. however, congress can claim an important marker. for the first time in history african-americans hold the same proportion of congressional seats -- 12% -- as their proportion of the population at large. yet while more than half a century has passed since martin luther king spoke about his american dream, today racial inequality stubbornly persists n. a moment, how it affects black millennials when we talk to the author raniqua allen. first, those fighting for racial justice give us a reality check. rashad robinson is president of the leading nonprofit color for change. he says we need to confront the cause instead of the symptom. >> for those unfamiliar with the organization what does color of change do? >> the next generation racial justice organization. we were founded after hurricane
katrina in that moment where black people were on their roofs begging for the government to do something and were left to die. the theory behind the start of color of change was that the movement needed a new type of infrastructure to capture the energy and aspiration and demands of black folks and allies of every race. folks were giving to the red cross when they could be working for systemic change. how could we use media and organizing to build momentum and power that did the thing that was at the heart of hurricane katrina where no one was nervous about disappointing black people. government, corporations and media. so the idea behind color of change is how do we translate the wide range of moments happening every single day in our society and give people the ability to collectively take action and translate the action
into strategic cultural and political change. >> how do you do it? public pressure, private pressure? >> it is a mix of both. private pressure for us only works if there is an idea that public pressure is possible. sometimes we have to hold out the idea that public pressure is coming. sometimes we can work behind the scenes to push our demands. sometimes it's about reward. sometimes it is about shame. but all of that is about creating a sense that those who are in power need to know there are consequences for racism. there are consequences for behaviors that put our community in peril. >> one of the times i remember you coming on the field post hurricane katrina was when you were able to exert pressure on glenn beck. looking back now that was because of comments he was making, divisive rhetoric. looking now and that was just
2009. here we are nine years after. we have nine-term members of congress who are just starting to face consequences for things they have been saying. that episode with glenn beck, relatively speaking seems tame today. >> in some ways it does seem tame. i think some of this is ebb and flow. i do think while it is important in the media culture to think about rhetoric because media is often times about rhetoric. when we look at what's happening in congress with someone like steve king, i think it is important that folks are calling out his rhetoric now. although i think more journalists need to ask why now and why not just steve king? the larger question is not about folks in power and policy makers' rhetoric but their policy. what are the impact of the policies that they are putting
forth -- voting rights, civil rights? these are all things from criminal justice, immigration that steve king had a say over. he was able to implement and move racist policies. policies that have deep impact on people's lives. so i really hope that as we move the discussion forward and we talk about sort of the words, that we are able to not just have outrage about those, but actually go much deeper and be more clear that it's the policies that have the real deep impact on people every single day. >> sometimes there is a conception that racism is a generational issue, that it will die out over time, that it will move towards equality. we have those images in charlottesville. these were young men maybe just out of college or a little after that with their faces in full tiki torchlight.
>> ever since lyndon johnson signed the civil rights act and vote rights act no democrat that needed black votes has gotten a majority of the white vote. we do live in a very deeply divided country along race. i don't think we get around that by refusing to talk about it or thinking it will just change overnight. far too often people think about inequality as unfortunate, almost like a car accident. i don't just mean people who don't always agree with us on the issues. i mean lots of people. so instead of seeing inequality as unjust and when you see it as unfortunate, so many of the solutions that people think about are charitable solutions. let's send water bottles to flint instead of working to deal with the pipes.
let's clean up inner city schools instead of dealing with ub lick education and making it equal. let's deal with reentry. >> symptom versus the cause. >> part of the challenge that we have had over many decades is that we worked to deal with a lot of symptoms and not causes. change hasn't actually happened. in that sort of era we haven't done all of the work to bring people along. at the same time, there are powerful forces in the white house and there are powerful forces in the media, in our culture that have a lot at stake of keeping the status quo in place, at keeping the roles rigged and keeping us divided in order to do that. for people of good faith who are watching this, for people who are on the sidelines, the fight
to ensure our democracy allows our voices to be counted isn't just the fight for black people. it's not just for people of color. the attacks that happened via racism on our education system, on our health system, our environment, the way racism has been used as a wedge has hurt all of society. the question will be is keeping racist status quo policies in place so beneficial to folks that people are willing to risk their own health, their own environment, their own education and all the other things that have really begun to fall apart because racism has been used as a wedge to break down the structures of our society, the ways that we ensure that justice
is actually served in our systems. . sp one of the areas you're focused on is social platforms. what are you asking of them? what's happening there? >> like many institutions that grow quickly, there have to be rules of the road. as we started to deal with, you know, platforms like facebook and watched how they dealt with law enforcement without any rules or regulations, often times bypassing warrants and civil rights law by providing information to law enforcement, really violating the pact people thought they had about privacy with those platforms. the way algorithms could be used to violate the 1964 civil rights act like you could put an ad on facebook that said i only want to market this house to white people. the way that race was weaponized during the 2016 election. really breaking down, you know,
a whole set of trusts about how we think about our elections and how we think about voting and democracy. while we have been engaged with facebook really pushing them to do a civil rights audit and look at their policies, put in real structures about how they think about policies and practices, we found out via the "new york times" that while they were telling us sort of great things about what they were going to be doing and talking to us about this audit and hiring people to do it they hired a p.r. firm to attack us at the same time. employing this firm to sort of move these narratives about who was funding us and we didn't have our own ideas which were sort of deeply racist and this idea that black people don't control their own ideas. it was like many of the ways that, you know, the student nonviolent coordinating committee and dr. king were attacked in the '60s by saying they were puppets of some larger entity as if they didn't have
their own ideas for fighting for justice. one of the things we really need from both our regulators, members of congress, those that invest in facebook is to hold the largest communications platform that the world has ever seen, one of the largest corporations out there accountable for basic practices around privacy, around data sharing, around civil rights and that is going to be incredibly important. they have so much access to so much of our information. >> there was a now famous letter from a former employee of theirs, mark lucky, as he left the company. he had great statistics on how much more engaged african-americans are on facebook. all the metrics that facebook wishes it had about other communities as well, but it was also not a positive experience for so many of them. when they would post something
either the algorithm or other people were able to essentially create ways for that content to be censored. >> that's one of the things we have seen. it's not just that. organizations having their content blocked. you know, many forces inside of facebook, conservative forces inside of facebook have put this idea of conservative bias at the same level as civil rights. we often times think about it like there is left, right, right and wrong. civil rights is somehow a left issue now. facebook will do a training for their folks that are monitoring around the election and monitoring the platform around the election. the same day they do a training on voter suppression, they did a training on voter fraud which is basically, you know, this donald trump conspiracy theory that's been advanced by the right like why don't you do a training on
is the world flat? the idea that they put -- politicized civil rights to such a point where an ad for a pride parade and a pride celebration becomes a political ad and not just an ad for people coming together is an example of many of the ways that facebook has to sort of recognize and all these platforms have to recognize they've got to have a moral ruttru rudder. this is a challenge they are trying to fight because of what's happening in europe. these companies are trying to avoid any type of regulation at all costs. these companies will have to think clearly about how they engage in this upcoming 2020 election. back in 2016 we forced many companies to divest from the rnc convention because of the
rhetoric of donald trump and the lead-up to the election. all of the platforms like google, facebook, when we got on the phone with them and urged them to die vevest from the rnc congre convention they said they were a media platform and had to be on both sides. mark zuckerberg went to congress to say they are not a media platform. now what will their excuse be for enabling racism? >> there is the news industry and really the entertainment industry. there is a small group of people in hollywood that create and manufacture the perception of how life is or should be. how does an organization like yours tackle that? >> we think a lot about this. a couple of years ago we opened an office in hollywood and put real energy behind focusing on these images with a larger idea that we have to change culture. culture often times precedes
policy shift. one of the things we focused on is we worked with ucla and usc on a number of reports to really look at both diversity in writers' rooms that create the shows and look at how the shows are created. who's in the room? who is writing the stories that reach america? as a result, what are we missing as a result? seeing a whole set of challenges in terms of access that black folks, people of color, women have had to being able to create, write and tell the authentic stories. we are releasing a report that looks at crime on tv. all the crime shows. how they not only portray black people and a criminal justice system that's deeply unfair that we have had folks on the left and the right say is deeply unfair. our justice system is often times portrayed on tv as a set
of individuals moving forward the law that the heroes, the folks working inside the system and everyone on the outside is a criminal. you see often times these cases that start with a crime and end with a verdict within an hour when what we really know is people are often times lagging behind bars for months and months, years and years awaiting trials and often times are there not because they are guilty but because they are poor, because they are black, because they are not powerful. >> you talk about civil rights and you talk about voter rights. where are we in the longer arc of not even achieving the dream but in the process toward it. >> i think we are in a deep struggle now. i look at the rollbacks and the ways voting rights were under
attack during the last election in places like georgia, florida, elsewhere. i think about the work that we have to do to not just be on the defensive. so much of the work in previous decades was about defending and protecting the things that were won during the '60s. as a next generation racial justice organization i really do believe so much of our work has to be about what are the next generation campaigns, the next generation policies we are putting forth that will allow us to move forward in a more multi racial democracy, multi racial society and so not just thinking about how to protect things like the voting rights act but what is the new voting rights act? what are the policies in states and federally that we need to push to ensure that not just that we protect the vote but we make every voter count. not just every vote count.
for us at color of change we are constantly thinking about that and thinking about when we ask people to take an action on something that they are outraged on, something that they are worried about, how do we translate that into a policy fight and, you know, the politics aren't always going to be there. so some of that right now has to be about tilling the soil, putting forward big demands even though we may not have the policy but recognizing that we'll never get there if we refuse to actually be aspirational, refuse to put forward what we really want. >> rashad robinson, color of change, thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> daring to know what you want. it is not surprising to hear about a next gen approach to civil rights when so many young black people in the united states are disillusioned by the current state of play. author raniqua allen talked to dozens of black millennials from
all over the united states for her new book. it was all a dream, it's called, a new generation confronts the broken promise to black america. i have been speaking to her about the broken promises and the significance, in fact, of her book's title. raniqua allen, welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> you have written a book that's getting a lot of buzz. you particularly have the millennial experience. what is the significance of the title "it was all a dream." >> it's a song from the notorious b.i.g. when i was growing up as a young person in the '90s. it was about a rapper from a poor neighborhood in new york city having his dreams realized. he was making it. he had money all of the sudden. for me, i realized that's something that didn't quite feel possible anymore as i entered my 30s and saw a lot of my millennial peers struggling to have their dreams realized.
i was wondering, is it all a dream? it was all a dream, it felt like. barack obama, his presidency was ending. people were still really struggling. while millennials, i think overall struggle, black millennials were having a specific and unique time and a hard time just dealing with growing up. >> let me get it straight though. you're sort of on the cutting edge in that you are one of the original, older generation of millennials right now. are you saying that when you heard this song and his experience, notorious b.i.g., about this other rapper, things were looking like they were better and you feel now they are not so good. >> absolutely. absolutely. i came of age like you mentioned i'm an older millennial. i came of age and things felt possible. jesse jackson was running for president. that was a big deal. our parents endured affirmative action and benefitted from it. our generation of parents were the first people that really
were in corporate america. they were african-americans who were by all means succeeding even though a lot of them grew up with segregation. our parents were doing well by many accounts. all of the sudden when we came of age it didn't seem like that necessarily was the case. barack obama was such a high, high moment for a lot of young black millennials. at the same time we had to proclaim to the world that black lives mattered, our lives mattered. there was a humanity we still were fighting for. it felt exhausting. we have cell phone technology now. you can see a lot of the pain and struggle every day. we saw mike brown laying out. we saw videos of young black bodies attacked over and over, people getting shot in the street. that's a hard place to be still. >> let me ask you.
you have obviously done a huge amount of research. you have written this book. i wonder if you have synthesized why it is happening. you write, today, i laugh at my early '90s notion of making it. at its core, it never really changed. my american dream was not to mess up. my dream was to defy expectations, be unpredictable, do something better and more than my ancestors. so, i mean, you had the hopes. what do you think went wrong, so to speak? >> you know, student debt, college. what went wrong? i think america has always been hard for young black people. i think it is hard for millennials in general. there was a piece this week about millennial burnout from buzzfeed. i think it is hard for the generation. i think there is a lot of uncertainty. we don't have the jobs our parents did. we have to get degrees, make it
ahead a little bit. those factory jobs. you can go to high school and have a job on a factory line and be okay, have a home. is it stability is gone. we have a lot of student debt. those jobs, i don't know anybody who's been on a job for ten years. i don't know anybody who's had a pension. it's really difficult. there is a lot of uncertainty. that's being passed down to this generation. that's the difference. i think the other difference is having barack obama become president. the idea of possibility realized. obama was a tremendous figure. whether you like him or not, or disagree with his politics it was this idea of, yes, we can achieve. i'm looking at the world after. looking at black america. looking at how people of color in this country are being treated.
looking at what happened in charlottesville. after all that, after all the excitement of having someone like barack obama in the white house where we are today, we feel more divided than ever. it feeeeee like we have to stil fight and fight and fight for our humanity. we saw barack obama and michelle obama and their kids have to do that. that's a hard place to be. i don't want to say many of us bought into this idea that we were becoming a post racial society, but even the young men and women i talked to, some of them actually believed it. they thought we were going to be in a better place. to see that america is not, it feels like we are in a worse place than ever. that's a tough thing to deal with. >> it is tough. it's tough to hear you say it. to be in a worse place than ever, it's hard to hear you say that. of course you do highlight the difference, the actual factual difference and difference of opportunity between black and white millennials which presumably mirrors the
difference between blacks and whites in america, period. let me ask you this. you quote in your book the current president donald trump who once said a well educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well educated white in terms of the job market. i believe he said that in 1989. he may or may not still think that. do programs like affirmative action help? what do you make of the statement, first? >> i think it's misguided. it was misguided in the '80s. it's misguided today still. we know this thing that's white privilege is not made up. like being white in america does provide you with a boost in society. whether you see it or not it is a thing. by virtue of people giving you the benefit of the doubt when you walk into a room. >> that's not saying i grew up
like affirmative action actually did benefit people like my mom just because we don't have the networks you might have had. donald trump's father. that gave him a huge boost. while a lot of americans don't have that, they may have a friend or know a friend of a friend. >> let me give you statistics that go to what you are saying. the national academy of sciences last year said hiring discrimination against blacks hasn't changed in the last 25 years. if you are black or latino you have to work harder to get an interview, even if you are as well qualified as white candidates. i spoke with william jawondo who worked in the obama white house in the my brieother's keeper program. he said to me similar to what you are saying. let's play it. >> 99% of american communities if you are a black boy you will have a consistent and persistent
income gap from your white male peer even if you were born with the same economic circumstances. if you are a millionaire black boy, chances of being incarcerated are the same as a white boy from a household with $36,000. you are as likely to fall out of the top income brackets as you are to stay if you are an african-american boy. just stunning data. >> is that consistent with what you are finding? >> o absolutely. absolutely. one, my name is raniqua. i have been able to break some of those barriers and get job interviews. just having a name raniqua on the resumé is an impediment. studies have shown it over and over again. my -- the people i spoke to in the book consistently said so much that i actually was tired of hearing it. they said we have to work twice as hard. we cannot screw up. they'll say that and i saw it myself.
i saw my white colleagues saying, oh, we didn't get internships. we just kind of got drunk the whole time in college. so many young black people are having internship after internship, having to consistently prove themselves to their bosses. it's hard for the millennial generation. they have it rough. it doesn't always matter about skin color. we have an uncertainty and an economic anxiety that i think we haven't had in the past. on the job front, it is still hard, even with a college deg e degree. generally we have more student debt. black america doesn't have wealth. we saw our parents wiped out by the recession. it is outrageous when people say, well, it looks like an even playing field. that's the hard part for me about this generation. yes, a black man can be president. oprah is on television. there is black success, but why aren't we getting it?
people don't get it. those folks are the exception. >> you brought up black lives matter. we have seen actually sort of almost a culture shift in some areas. you can see what's happening in hollywood. major black directors, stories they are directing. you can see in editors of major cultural magazines and things or black or people of color and they are changing the tone of the editorial and what you see on the cover of the magazines. i wonder whether that strikes you as hopeful or how you analyze that. >> it's absolutely hopeful. i think people are recognizing that african-americans and also people of color, their voices in some way do matter. however, i say it with a qualifier that we are still not the folks that hold power. a piece of twitter, picture on twitter was posted of reporters
for another network. no african-americans. that's a huge oversight. look at hollywood. look at the number of executives. they are largely for television and film largely white and male. still. we have a long, long way to go. you look at people who have power even though despite barack obama and congress. it's still largely white. particularly with the current administration. the people that are on the top that are millionaires, that power structure still hasn't changed. you talk about maybe a self-selecting solution. i don't know. you describe this phenomenon i found fascinating and i didn't know about of so many young black millennials actually moving from the north which we all thought was the land of opportunity and are moving down south. that i find fascinating. what's going on there? >> i was sitting in new york
city in a bar election night. someone said we need to make america great again. i don't think it is solely about this administration or just donald trump or who is in the white house. i think of new york city. it doesn't exactly feel so great and liberating anymore. i routinely get followed when i go in a store in the upper east side. the south has a different vibe. there is a vibrant middle class. there are hbcus for people i interviewed in this book. that was a huge thing. i mean historically black ku universities. it was a huge part of their identity, coming to terms with themselves and their blackness. people felt an ease in the south. going back home they felt welcomed. they felt race relations somehow, it was all out there. >> also economic opportunities, right? >> absolutely. absolutely. we have more black wealth educated. more networks for people to tap into.
young black people are lieaving new york and chicago, places deemed the promised land. it feels like they weren't fulfilling the promise. why not go to places where it feels like home? >> raniqua allen, thank you very much for joining me. >> thank you for having me here. >> some sobering reflections there on the lack of structural change for the civil rights movement. join me tomorrow for my interview with the former british prime minister tony blair as they look to unstick the brexit stalemate he lays out options for the country and why he would back a second referendum on e.u. membership. that's it for the program tonight. thank you for watching "amanpour & company" on pbs. >> unaworld is a proud sponsor.
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