Movie Theaters, Gyms And Museums Among Businesses Set To Reopen In San Diego, San Diego County Schools Prepare To Welcome Kids Back To Classrooms, Understanding The Scope And Impact Of Racial Bias In The Military
Speaker 1: 00:01 Any San Diego County businesses can reopen indoors with restrictions. This is basically another attempt to open things up this time more gradually, and let's hope it works. I'm Mark Sauer with Alison st. John. This is KPBS midday edition A panel discussion on the scope and impact of racism in the military. Speaker 2: 00:30 I'll tell her at the Naval Academy, what questioning, Speaker 1: 00:33 Why, why should we continue to serve in a nation that doesn't seem to always appreciate us? And many schools prepare specific plans to reopen in person? The bottom line is that our system was not really designed to function this way. So we're, we're Speaker 2: 00:49 Reworking kind of all of our systems. Speaker 1: 00:51 That's the head on midday edition. Speaker 1: 01:01 The announcement on the state's COVID-19 website was surprising and good news for many San Diego County business owners, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, places of worship malls and movie theaters can reopen indoors with restrictions that's because the spread of Corona virus has slowed here compared with most California counties. Joining me to discuss the new reopening plan is dr. Mark Sawyer, infectious disease expert at radius children's hospital and professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer, welcome to the program. It's great to join you. Well, the state has rolled out a new system, replacing the state's COVID-19 watch list with a four tiered color coded approach with purple for widespread restrictions and yellow for minimal restrictions. Here's governor Gavin Newsome. We don't put up green beans Speaker 2: 01:49 Because we don't believe that there is a green light just says, go back to the way things were or back to a pre pandemic Speaker 1: 01:58 Mindset. And San Diego County is in the red or second worst tier meaning viral activity here remains quote, substantial. Still most businesses in the County can reopen with restrictions, dr. Sawyer, what do you make of this approach? Well, I think I'm cautiously optimistic that, that this is going to work. I hope people have gotten the message that this will only work if we are very compliant with wearing masks and staying socially distance from other people. If we try to go back to business as usual, we will inevitably see a rebound of cases and be shoved back into the purple category. And the new tiered system relies on two indicators, case rate and positivity rate yet when it comes to hospitalizations and deaths, the state as a whole is still above the springtime plateau. So you wonder if it makes sense to move forward with reopening even as hospitalizations and deaths remain this high. Yeah, I mean, there's so many metrics you can look at and probably no single Speaker 3: 03:00 Right answer to when to reopen and how to reopen this strikes me as a very reasonable approach. As you may be pointing out these businesses that are reopening are reopening with a very reduced number of clients or, or, or, uh, customers, which should help with the social distancing. But we'll find out this, this is basically another attempt to open things up this time more gradually, and let's hope it works Speaker 1: 03:29 Right. And, uh, unfortunately around Memorial day we had a similar, uh, open up and it didn't work last time. Um, are you confident that the public has learned its lesson, as we say, and, and maybe we'll be a little more diligent, uh, as individuals Speaker 3: 03:44 I'm cautiously optimistic about this, you know, we've had another, a few months since then people have seen what happens, not only in the United States, but around the world. If you get too relaxed. On the other hand, they've seen what happens in, in other countries when they do it well, and people are compliant with wearing masks and distancing. Many countries are, are pretty much back to business and we're hoping that this is going to help us get there. Speaker 1: 04:10 Now, San Diego County public health officer, dr. Wilma Wooten can decide to make the new state requirements more restrictive than what we've heard out of Sacramento. At the end of last week and supervisor Nathan Fletcher, he believes the County should take a more cautious approach. He's concerned because we had that early summer holiday and Memorial day. And then we saw a surge in June after that. And now we we're coming up on, on labor day. Do you think the state might have a, just held off until after this holiday? Speaker 3: 04:38 I don't know if there's ever a great time to take this step. I think, again, particularly over the holiday, people need to keep in mind that the two secret ingredients here are wearing a mask and distancing from other people. So if you're having a labor day picnic, uh, you need to be very careful about that and how many people you involve. So if we get too relaxed about social distancing, we're going to be back where we were at Memorial day. Speaker 1: 05:07 And of course, as we're talking, messaging is, is critical here. And what the public is thinking and doing president Trump retweeted a distorted message from a far right website over the weekend saying the real death toll from COVID-19 is just 9,000 nationally, not the CDCs official 183,000, because most dying from the virus had underlying conditions. How does muddled messaging from the president or other leaders impact what the public health officials are trying to get across on the County level? Speaker 3: 05:37 I think it's crucial. I think it's crucial that we all have the same message. And, and I think that the evidence, the scientific evidence is very clear that masks work. It's very clear that this is a serious disease. It's very clear who is at risk for this disease. And in order to protect those people all need to pitch in and do the right thing, which is to wear masks and stay away from other people as much as possible, Speaker 1: 06:04 Just a few weeks, the weather's going to turn cooler, especially in many other parts of the country. That means a lot of people going back in doors. Are we looking at a double whammy because that also means flu season's coming up. I wonder as a, as a lay person, I wonder, is there a concern about, uh, you know, the flu and the COVID a virus still here, or because of what we're doing with masking and distancing and washing hands, et cetera, might that hold down the flu this year? Cause it's a virus after all as well. Speaker 3: 06:33 Yeah. That's a great question. Uh, back to your first comment about people going indoors. We, the other thing that's very clear from the scientific evidence is that outdoors is a much better environment and much safer environment. So we're somewhat fortunate here in San Diego where we can continue to do a lot of things, outdoors, even things that we normally would do indoors even into the winter. And I would encourage people to think about that and do that as much as possible. Any indoor environment is going to be an increased risk because there's decreased air circulation. And that's the environment in which the virus spreads easily. Now we're all concerned about influenza, which will inevitably hit San Diego somewhere between November and February, as it does every year. And, you know, particularly if it's a severe flu season, we are going to again, be in a situation where we have to worry about healthcare resources. Speaker 3: 07:30 Do we have enough hospital beds and ventilators to take care of everybody? I'm hopeful that this will motivate people to get their influenza vaccine. Those vaccines are already starting to become available in the community. So now is the time to go out and get a flu shot, and that will decrease your chance of getting influenza and also help with the overall burden in the community. I am a little bit optimistic that social distancing and masks are going to impact or reduce the rate of influenza as well. We saw that back in the spring, we were still having influenza in San Diego. And when we went into lockdown, the cases dramatically decreased. So hopefully it won't be a severe flu season because people are wearing masks and staying distanced. Speaker 1: 08:17 Last question I want to ask you was about schools in the County. They're expected to get a green light to reopen tomorrow. Uh, what will you be paying attention to as the region continues to move forward with reopening, especially with schools, Speaker 3: 08:30 That's just one other element of this reopening process. The schools I know have been very careful in planning how to do this as safely as possible, but we're not really going to know whether that has a big impact on the rates of, of SARS Coby too, or not until it happens. So same messages in schools where masks stay socially distance. Obviously don't send your children school if they're Speaker 4: 08:56 Sick, uh, and keep them protected at home as well. By following the same measures Speaker 5: 09:02 I've been speaking with dr. Mark Sawyer, infectious disease expert at [inaudible] children's hospital. Thanks very much for joining us. Speaker 4: 09:09 It was great to join you. Thanks. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John, along with Mark Sauer, parents and teachers are getting ready to resume in person classes. County officials say with a COVID-19 case rate below state targets, old schools can reopen starting tomorrow. Many have already started the year online with distance learning KPBS reporter. Matt Hoffman takes us inside to East County schools to show us what classes will look like during the pandemic. Speaker 5: 09:45 If they arrive healthy, they're going to remain healthy throughout the day, and we're going to send them home healthy. At the end of the day, blossom Valley elementary principal, Kirk Hoban says they've proven they can take care of kids safely hosting a summer daycare program where no coronavirus cases were reported among staff or students at all grade levels from K through fifth grade. I had an amazing group of teachers who volunteered to come in and be the ones to try this out. And we were able to safely bring kids back blossom Valley and alcohol is part of the Cajon Valley union school district and plans to welcome back kids. After labor day weekend inside of classrooms, desks are spaced apart and each have clear plastic divider sitting on top of the tables hope and says, they've learned a lot from summer daycare, the daily arrival and departure of kids, I think was one of the greatest challenge because normally you're not having to pay attention to things like social distance saying, and do kids have mass blossom Valley will keep individual classes isolated from each other. Speaker 5: 10:38 That way kids can still go out for activities like recess. I think the biggest eyeopener, um, you know, we, we know schools are a social place and we know how important that is, but I don't think we realize how important and how critical that social element is. Um, both for kids in the families, all of this in an effort to make the return to the classroom feel as normal as possible while protecting kids and families from the virus. The majority of, of our school district wants to go back to school, go home Valley trustee, Jim Miller says to make in-person instruction possible. All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings. The district with more than 15,000 students has been doing classes virtually for about a week. Now it's been pretty good. There's been some technical difficulties and, but overall it's been going pretty good or they're going to be hiccups. Speaker 5: 11:24 Absolutely there's hiccups every day in every profession, whether there's a pandemic or not. Right. The question then becomes is how do you overcome those? Just a few miles away in Lakeside at Lake view, elementary preparations are also underway to welcome students back to campus. The bottom line is that our system was not really designed to function this way. So we're, we're reworking kind of all of our systems, Lakeside union school district superintendent, Andy Johnson says they're doing things a little differently. They're committing to at least four weeks distance learning classes started online last week. And like the home Valley officials are giving parents the option to return to in-person learning near the end of September. We, Speaker 1: 12:02 It was really important to give parents a choice. Um, so those parents who want to stay in distance learning Speaker 5: 12:07 You're long have that option to make in-person classes a reality again, for it's more than 5,000 kids, students and staff, and all grade levels will be required to wear face coverings. And students will be encouraged to wash their hands every hour to hour and a half restrooms will be cleaned hourly and classrooms nightly. Speaker 1: 12:23 So our maintenance and operations team actually designed and then built these handwashing stations. Speaker 5: 12:27 The district is hoping outdoor sinks will promote frequent handwashing schools have also been asked to limit high-touch areas, water. Speaker 1: 12:34 I found a turned off and all the kids will have a bottle filling station. All the schools have a bottle filling station where the kids can get their water Speaker 5: 12:41 Classrooms here. Don't feature those plastic dividers that Cahone Valley is using Speaker 1: 12:46 Facing forward. Spaced out Speaker 5: 12:48 Lakeside union will also be doing daily health screenings. We do have thermometers. We've got these, uh, Speaker 1: 12:55 Thermometers for all of our staff. So we are going to do temperature checks of all of our students and staff Speaker 5: 12:59 Everyday that applies to anyone coming into the office as well. If a student feels sick or is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, they will be isolated on campus. But what about possible closures? San Diego County office of education superintendent. Paul Gosnold says if 5% of students in class get the virus Speaker 1: 13:16 That classroom would automatically shut down for 14 days. Uh, if you're talking about an individual school 5%, again, it's the metric individually, Speaker 5: 13:25 The school districts will communicate with parents. If a student test positive, or if there's an outbreak, administrators are asking for patients during this uncertain time, Matt Hoffman, K PBS news. Speaker 1: 13:44 I'm Mark Sauer with Alison st. John you're listening to KPBS mid day edition. The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has prompted many American institutions to examine their own racial bias. That includes the U S military. Today. We're bringing you an excerpt from a KPBS, special looking at the scope and impact of racial bias in the military KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh spoke with retired Marine, Stefan Williams, who works with the defense department on racial bias, Marine Corps, veteran Kesha, Javas Jones, and retired rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, who was president of the national Naval officers association. Here's their conversation. We're going to start with Admiral Harris. So Admiral, if you could kind of frame the issue for us, why does the military see itself as having a problem and why do they care about rooting out racial bias? Thank you, Steve. Appreciate it. And it's going to be on such a distinguished panel. The issue of racism in the military goes back to his earliest days, uh, has come and gone in terms of its level of importance, Speaker 6: 14:53 Uh, to the leadership in United States, military, and, uh, certain events such as for this time, the George Floyd murder, um, caused many to, to again, uh, reassess how they're valued in our military. In fact, I was just talking earlier today to a young midshipman at the Naval Academy, who along with many other midshipman of color at the Naval Academy or questioning, why, why should we continue to serve in a nation that doesn't seem to always appreciate us? And I had to give him some encouragement about why, um, but this is a challenge that continues. Uh, we're a part of America. We're a microcosm of America, uh, at America's got institutional racism in it. And we come from that same group of human beings. Uh, and why is it important? It's important because in a time, and it's not just about doing nice thing for black people in a time when we have so many complexities, uh, to the war fighting environment, it is a strategic imperative that we get the best out of all of our men and women, regardless of race, regardless of creed, regardless of gender, regardless of orientation, we get the best out of all of them because the more diverse and inclusive and organization is every study will show that it is more innovative, more creative, more resilient, and better able to take a holistic view of the challenges that we have come in. Speaker 6: 16:30 So it's a strategic imperative, and I believe at the service chiefs and secretary of defense understand that, Speaker 7: 16:38 But by the same token, uh, the Navy has looked at racial biases while at least the 1970s, when the head of the Navy Admiral Zumwalt made inclusion a real issue in Maine and instituted a whole series of reforms, but we're still looking at it today. So I mean, now their efforts at the department of defense, each of the services, how are these efforts going to be any different from what we've seen in the past? Speaker 6: 17:02 Let's see. Great, great and tough question. Uh, we have to understand that progress is never a straight, smooth line. You may take two steps forward and one step back. Um, that is just a matter of, uh, as a matter of fact. So you mentioned Atmel zoom, Walt. And the picture behind me is of Admiral Sam gravely, who is the first African American in the Navy's history to make flag. And that was during animal Xoom molts era. He was the only one for a while. Frank Peterson was the only one for the Marine Corps for a while. Uh, today we have a say, we have about five or six, uh, African American flags. I was still in uniform. We had up to 16, including a, uh, a female to a four star, Michelle Howard, a male four star, uh, Cecil Haney. And of course before them was J Paul reason. So the numbers have gone up and down, uh, which is not right, but what it shows you though is that there was, there has been progress, but, but progress, uh, is not sustained without the institution investing and the recruiting, the retention and the career development of all the members of the force. Speaker 7: 18:28 W we have a picture up on the screen right now. This is, I think if this is 2018, this is the, the top leadership at the Pentagon with president Trump. Um, it looks incredibly incredibly white. Um, and, and I might, this is not a ding on president Trump. It didn't look much different, but in the Obama or the Bush years either. So, I mean, w w one of the issues here is you do not have very many officers top officers in any of the service branches. Why is that? Speaker 6: 19:01 So, uh, and, and as you can see here, you've got, uh, uh, general Brooks, Vince Brooks. Uh, he was there now he's retired and his relief is general Brown one. Um, that is not satisfactory. I don't see any women in this picture. Uh, and women have taken a continually more and more important role in our military. It goes back again to the three things, uh, that, uh, we touched topped off earlier. The three things that every body needs to succeed, whether you're talking about the military or civilian or any other part of life, everybody needs mentoring. Everybody needs coaching, everybody needs advocacy, and those are three different things. So mentoring, I think most everybody understands a decent definition of what a mentor is. It can come from 360 degrees people above you below you, besides you, or in number of topics, coaching, coaching, what are coaches do they get players ready for the field? Speaker 6: 20:03 They get people prepared to take on the tough jobs in order for them to take those key roles. And then the third one, and this is the more difficult one is advocacy. And in the selection boards that we have in the military, as you go up in rank that so such importance get tougher and tougher and tougher, no matter what surface you're in, if you don't have people who are advocating for you. And in this case, advocating for people that may not look like you, then it's very difficult to break through. I know probably three quarters of the gentlemen in this picture, there are fine men, but I asked them and I asked their current flag officers and generals, this question, who are you mentoring? Who are you coaching, and who are you advocating for? And if they all look like you, then the is never going to change. Speaker 7: 21:00 But, uh, this is also a numbers game. Isn't it? You have to have a lot of people coming into the service that are, are that 20 years from now are ready to step up and become that two star three star, four star Admiral. And right now the Naval Academy, I believe it's like five or 6% of the incoming graduating class this year is African-American. It doesn't sound like that pipeline is very secure right now. Speaker 6: 21:27 Well, you're talking about a very key and use a great term the pipeline. So the first thing is you got to have a large influence. I think it takes about 3000 incidents to make one captain. And I'm sure it's some other huge number like that, where you look at the other services, it takes a lot just to get the right quality cut, because you're not going to promote somebody who's not qualified for the position, especially to get more senior. So, so number one is, did you have to have a large number of coming in and, and that means you need to recruit from where they are. You know, if you always fish in the same river, all you're going to eat is trout. Okay. You've got to go to where the diverse populations are, black, Hispanic, women, Asian, all that. Then you mentioned pipeline. So there are leaks all along the pipeline. Speaker 6: 22:18 Okay. There are leaks at their first, um, when they finished their initial, uh, requirement five or six years in as a, uh, officer in any of the military, that's a natural break point where a lot of people get out for any number of good reasons. We hope that one of them is not because they don't have a sense of belonging in the organization. We hope that that has been built up. That's what helps keep people pushing on through and their families. Uh, then the next one is that 20 years it has changed because of some of the retirement rules that have changed, but generally speaking around 20 years. Um, and again, this is at a point where if you don't see a promotion on the, on the, uh, horizon, what are you doing? Why are you staying there? Especially given all the things that you make in your family and yourself. I put up with, um, again, that goes back to those other points. I talked about advocacy and advocacy and coaching being among the most important of those things to get through there. Speaker 7: 23:20 All right, we're going to try to bring in a veteran voice here. We've got a Kesha Jeffress Jones, she's director of the education program at workshops for warriors here in San Diego. She is a, uh, a former Marine catch. Are you there? Speaker 6: 23:33 Yes, I'm here. Thank you. Hi. Speaker 7: 23:36 All right. So tell me a little bit about your service. Speaker 6: 23:39 Um, so I spent 10 years in the United States Marine Corps, uh, where I deployed to as Speaker 8: 23:46 A female search team advisor. And which also known as a lion is, um, I was administrator when I first joined, I became a reserve career planner, and then that ended me up, um, on INI duty where I was a funeral honors coordinator for Western U New York, as well as the toys for tots coordinator. Speaker 7: 24:06 Now we have a little conversation earlier, and I wanted you to take the audience through this. Um, you were, you headed up an honor guard in upstate New York and you have that, um, that really kind of highlighted how difficult they can be, um, when people are not, are not comfortable with you and, and, and your physician tell us about it. Speaker 8: 24:32 Yes. So being a part of funeral honors, um, to me, was a great honor to be able to one recognize brother and sister for their service, um, and be the last person to hand that, uh, to their next of kid and upstate New York. Um, and many times we will thrive, uh, to provide honors for a family. And you could tell by the looks on the faces, um, the glares, um, that I was not wanted there by the color of my skin. So at that point, you have to go through in your head. Well, one, I know for a fact that I'm going to honor my brother and her sister, um, because they serve this country and they deserve to be honored. And that is what, uh, we, as the honor guard do and their last memories. So how do I, um, as a service member, and this is being my job, make sure I respect the family and still make sure I honor my brother and my sister, um, without, uh, showing total disrespect for their family and their families, um, wishes for me not to be there. A number of times I would have to step back and let my junior Marines, um, who came to do other duties, take on that responsibility as I remained in the car. And it was just, you know, unfortunate that someone would not honor the fact that one I'm serving, um, I'm Marine. And, uh, they would look at me as just being a black female, but they did not want to have presence. Speaker 7: 26:07 Yeah. I mean, what are you doing? What's going through your head at that point, you're there to give the most solemn honor in the Marine Corps to be there at that funeral, uh, to honor that, that fallen Marine, what, um, I mean, what's going through your head. Speaker 8: 26:24 So at one point, um, for the first one, I would say I was very hurt, um, because you would hope that everyone would honor the fact that you've given the ultimate sacrifice to serve this country. Um, not being a combat veteran, um, I've gone through a number of things, just as many combat veterans out there has gone to, and, you know, left my family to serve this country for all the freedoms and rights that we have. So putting pride aside and still remembering my brother, his sister who's laying there may or may not have the same views. And that really does not matter. But knowing that I'm there one represent the United States Marine Corps, the two represent, um, the honor of this nation and three, I have to be the utmost professional, um, and not let my personal feelings get the best of me in that moment. Speaker 8: 27:18 So I just have to, you know, being from I'm from South Carolina, and I should have mentioned that, and I have, um, been victim of, uh, racism and sexism. It says I'm in many different aspects of my life. I have to be almost professional and find out, uh, one deep dig deep inside and say, you know what? I don't know, um, what this individual's family is feeling, but I do know that they took the same oath that I took, and I must honor them for what they did and not let their family take anything away from them in the lasting moments where the United States, military and DOD is going to honor them. Speaker 9: 28:03 We have another question from the audience and I wanted to make sure I get to, to that. And, um, this is from a military spouse is what do you do when our service members face retaliation by the chain of command for reporting racism? Any one of our guests want to take that one? Yes, I'll take that one. Um, that is something that happens a lot. And, um, it's very, uh, very tough for the actual service member to try to believe into the system that is in place to actually address these issues. And, uh, the best thing that I can tell you is to take it to another level. It doesn't stop at the command. You can go all the way up to equals Marine Corps, headquarters, Navy, and you got to keep pushing it. You know, you gotta keep pushing it. And most of it's in the right people's hands, things change. Speaker 9: 28:57 They send people from outside of the organization to come in and do another investigation where there's no internal influences on the outcomes. And most of the time it stops at the command level at which is hard. But a lot of these individuals don't want to go anymore on because of the retaliation because of the reprisal that happens when you do report. So I would say take it to the next level. And we're talking to Stefan Williams here and Admiral Harris. I agree with Stefan and completely, I would also say if it doesn't work at that, that's why you have a congressmen. Okay. I mean, that's all sounds well and good though, but we just talked about how it is to advance Speaker 7: 29:42 In the military and how you have to have all of the right mentors and everything has to be squeaky clean. If you complain. I've T I've talked to African American officers who fell that once I complained, I suddenly, for some reason became the problem, not the actual racist incident. Um, you're telling me that they'll be able to do that and have no impact whatsoever. Speaker 9: 30:05 I'm not saying that will have no impact. I'm not saying that people aren't hurt along the way. What I'm saying is that when I look through the history of the golden 13, uh, the Marine Corps Pathfinders, uh, the first African American woman to join the military, I looked at all the predecessors that put up with far more than I did, and they stood up and they spoke up and they may have had to take a hit so that I could progress. I, it would be a dishonor not to do that, and we need to keep pressing forward. It won't be perfect. There are going to be people that take casually. There's always war in casualties, but they have to keep pressing forward. Speaker 7: 30:44 But when that casualty is somebody's career, isn't that why we don't have three and four star admirals in the Navy. Speaker 9: 30:50 And if we shut up, we're not going to get any farther. So you have to keep pressing forward to make change work. Speaker 7: 30:57 Okay. All right. So I, hadn't formally introduced Stefan Williams, Sierra. He's a facilitator from numbered, Florida. Um, it's been his job to, you know, facilitate just these kinds of discussions here. And, um, I, it's just ironic, I wish this, this, this segment wasn't as timely as it keeps becoming, but just today, NPR released a poll saying about 36% of Americans say they've taken some concrete step or action to better understand racial issues after the Jordan or through George Floyd's killing only about 30% of, of white Americans have done that. I mean, that's better than none, right. But it's still, it sounds like we have a very long way to go, doesn't it? Speaker 9: 31:41 Yes. You know, culture change takes time, you know, it's incremental. Um, and the thing about the racism inside of America, anything that's in societies and not military, the only thing that's different, we are more closely related to each other. And we under this one, umbrella Marine, Navy soldier, whatever it may be that kind of keeps us in tech. However, those ratio, uh, ideology still permeate throughout the culture of the Marine Corps and even all services. So, um, it's gonna take some time. It's definitely gonna take some time for us to make that turn, but we can't forget if you go back 60 years, where are we something that's been going on for hundreds of years policies that were written laws that were put in place? You know, those things, the things that we are still trying to get over. So it takes time to change the culture. Speaker 9: 32:36 It takes time to change a behavior that has been deeply rooted. And I will countries soil in our countries, military, not confused law enforcement and our country's businesses. It doesn't stop there. So it was what I would tell you is basically we got to keep moving forward. We've got to keep having these conversations. One thing in the military, I will tell you that we can no longer do anymore as a military member, as a Marine. I'm well-trained. That means if somebody busts through my door instantly, I'm going to react without thinking, because I'm trained to react to a stimulus. However we need to educate. We can't do checking a box training all the time and thinking that, Hey, you got to the roster. We good to go? No, we must educate. Now we must educate. And one of them, one of my mentors, my biggest mentor, who I'm still in contact with today is Jane Elliott. And when I came across her Brown eyes, blue eyes experiment, and I highly encourage anyone. That's watching this go and watch that on YouTube 14 minutes to change your life. Race is a social construct. It's about power differentials. It's not about biological differences, it's about power. And when you understand it doesn't matter what color you are. It depends on who writes the laws who controls the laws of the land, who has the resources that will determine who has more, who has less, Speaker 7: 33:56 All right, well, you're the educator here. So I, and going along with these efforts that the department of defense and the Navy they've talked about having these deck plate conversations, rank and file Marines, rank, and file sailors, um, soldiers, they need to discuss these issues with one another and talk about their biases with one another. Um, all right. So give us the rules. How do you go about doing that? And so you can have a productive conversation. Speaker 9: 34:25 Are you talking about at the higher organization level or just at the lower level, Speaker 7: 34:29 What you do with your facility right there, you know, person to person, the CNO is asking people to do that kind of a conversation. How do you put it in such a way? Speaker 9: 34:39 Well, it has to be set up properly. First. The first thing that needs to happen, the head must get in front of this. They had must get in front and say, Hey, this is something important that we need to address. And it cannot be a canned speech. They need to reveal who they are and what their beliefs are so that people can say, okay, you know what? I can, I can identify with you as saying, Hey, we noticed things are in a society. I have some biases myself. However, at this point, at this time, we must all open up to have this dialogue now. So the head must get up front. That means the leadership must get up front second. They environment must be safe. You got to create a safe environment, a psychologically safe environment, meaning that if I have a viewpoint that's different from yours, whoever's mediating. Speaker 9: 35:26 That conversation should be able to keep everybody in a, in a, um, I would say, in a neutral state. So if, um, his Sinclair says something like, Hey, I disagree with you Stefan about that and not allow him to speak, you know, the facilitator would set rules up saying, Hey, don't say I disagree. Say, you know what, Stefan, I have a different perspective. Then you have allowed me to share because David got to keep down the defenses. So if a person feels that there is comfortable enough for them to speak what they believe, now we can have an open dialogue, as long as it's mediated properly. Everybody can't talk about this. It can't just became a push in an auditorium. You can't push them in a classroom without someone who's professionally trained to help mediate that very volatile conversation. So you want, you got to put the leadership offers to, you gotta set some type of norms to treat a safe guard for everybody in the room. Speaker 9: 36:22 So they want to share that might have a different perspective, teach them how to share, because everybody doesn't know how to communicate the Marine Corps or, and just in the military. We mostly, Hey, I've heard that about the Marine Corps jet up, get it done, you know, shut up and get it, you know, grow thick skin. And that's kind of how we culture to talk about things. However, with this conversation, I need to be open to hearing a different perspective off the bat. And I think we've talked about this. Yes I do is come in and try to have a debate. Yeah. No debate, no debate. So you want to be able to all be open and candid with one another and be there mostly, but to learn right here, yes. You gotta come in with a open mind and you can't come in to debate somebody else's experience just because it didn't happen to you doesn't mean it doesn't happen, you know, and I've seen it happen many times, someone, well, I never experienced that. That, well, that doesn't mean it didn't happen. So you have to be open to, to, um, something different. You got to listen empathetically to understand what that person's coming from. You know, you try to see what's happening in their world and that military culture. You have another question, Keisha, I wanted to bring her back into the conversation. She's had to lead Marines. I know at various points where she kind of didn't know where they were coming from. Can you talk to us a little bit about your own experience? Yeah. Speaker 8: 37:52 Um, so I'm gonna go back to what Rob Harris was saying earlier about mentorship, coaching, and advocacy. I told you a great, um, one of the things that I will say in the Marine Corps we're really good with is once a Marine, always a Marine, right? Um, the other thing is we start off with a family. Now I will say that when I first joined the Marine Corps as early as bootcamp, um, there were many people that had never actually had a conversation with the African American woman. Uh, they've never seen my hair texture. They wanted to touch my hair. Um, but instead of shutting those individuals off, you have to be open to the conversation, let them ask the questions, uh, let that be a part of the education that they're missing because of where they're from. Um, I was also faced with individuals that came from a very, um, racist homes. Uh, and I think it's really about opening up and letting them hear the honest view respecting where they come from without being overbearing. Um, and then also speaking to other individuals that you see them already engaging with about what you see in them and how they can help you. So that was a lot of what I did when I had those situations. Um, Speaker 7: 39:07 Did you ever run into subordinates where it's like these people do not like me? Can you tell, I mean, is it, is it overt? Speaker 8: 39:17 Oh, you can tell, um, the, and you giving an order a direction and they just blatantly ignoring you, uh, to the Snickers behind your back, whatever that may be, uh, you can tell and really the way to address it is usually not head on because they already have such a bias against you from either their upbringing or where the social norm, where they have come from. And so you have to penetrate that very differently. And usually it's with education and understanding and starting those hard conversations, um, where I came from I'm from South Carolina. So I was one of the only African American girls in the classroom up until I was in middle school. Uh, there was no African American males, either. Uh, racial slurs started in elementary school. So, um, I knew what that looked like prior to joining the service. And I know even young, how I dealt with it. And a lot of it was being open, knowing that they learned that somewhere else, it's not right, having the hard conversations to help them, uh, learn to respect you your leadership role and your understanding and respect of where they came from. Speaker 7: 40:28 Hmm. Stefan, um, is, are there some people that you just don't try to address? Like some people they're just not ready for it. And I mean, if there's a situation where you're a leader, you're going to have to address it on some level, but actually trying to get in there and really change. People's understanding there's some people that, that, um, they're really not ready to hear. Speaker 9: 40:50 Yes. There are many people who aren't ready to hear, you know, um, to try to change a person's belief system. It's like pulling teeth, you know, they're going to hold on what they believe in, you know, and you got to think about this. Racism is taught. You've been indoctrinated over and over from whoever wrong you up and what we see in society. And you start to see those stereotypical behaviors of the people that you've been told that, Hey, they are savages, they're thieves, whatever it may be, you cannot even see the person for who they are, because you're looking through your lenses that have already been pre-made for you, by your caregivers. You know, whoever that may be. So, um, some people, you gotta know what, Hey, I'm not even gonna push the button to go there. You know, you don't waste your time. You don't waste your energy. Speaker 9: 41:33 But the thing that I love about the military is that, and I had it happen to me. Hundreds of times, people come in with racist beliefs and stuff from different places. That's why recruiters strategically placed certain places because that's what she ran into. One of those places that they want a certain type of recruiter there. Right? So what I'm saying is that because of the close proximity with me and my leadership, because of them getting a chance to know who I am and watching me treat them with dignity and respect, it made them ship their own way of seeing people. You know, it made them believe that, you know what? I think what I was told was a lie, because you're not like what I thought you were, what was in my mind. So the close proximity in the military, you know, that helps a lot of people get over the racism thing, a general steward, a second, second MLG, second Marine logistics groups at a camp was young. Speaker 9: 42:25 When I was doing before the CoolBot thing happened, he got up front and told a very personal story to all his career, his colonels and Sergeant majors. And it opened everybody up. That's what I'm saying. They had has to get in front of the body first, before we moved. And then people felt safe enough to say, you know what? You know, I was, I was, I was raised to be a racist and I'm a Sergeant major. And yes, I still have some of that stuff in my mind. However, I try not to act upon it. So the close proximity in the military kind of makes ours a little more covert. You got some people who are a little bit more overt, the ones you can't talk to. However, um, the exposure like she was saying, we got to be exposed to things that are different from us and we gotta be open. Speaker 9: 43:08 And when I put those things up, you know, and not to stretch it out, cause I know our time is tight. Well, one of the things that I've always done, you as a, as a Moraine leader, as a facilitator of equal opportunity in the military, I say, I go back to the Marine Corps, leadership principles, know yourself and seek, self-improvement set the example, know your people look out for the welfare. If you're not actually putting those things in practice, you're not being a total Marine because every Marine is ingrained and you need to know who they already come from the best way to connect with them so we can get the best out of them through mentoring coaching Speaker 1: 43:46 That was retired. Marine Stefan Williams. You also heard from retired Marine Kesha, Javis Jones and retired rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, president of the national Naval officers association. They were speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh. Their discussion was made possible by the American Homefront project on Thursday, a second panel discussion. We'll look at how the military copes with white supremacy information about how to join that conversation is on our website, kpbs.org.