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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

San Diego COVID-19 Spike, Child Exploitation And Trafficking Reports Increase During Pandemic, Teachers Juggling School Reopening And ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Review

Cover image for podcast episode

ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: A sign at Balboa Park telling visitors what's allowed at the park while a family is having a picnic in the background on June 14, 2020, the first weekend the park reopened to visitors.

San Diego is seeing a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the last two days, but officials say it’s partially because results are coming in batches. There were also 10 coronavirus outbreaks in the county in the past seven days. Plus, another side effect of the pandemic: there has been an increase in reports of human trafficking targeting children who are spending more time online while quarantined. Also, the president of the teachers union and a veteran teacher reflect on San Diego Unified’s plan for reopening next school year. In addition, tonight’s SDMA+ virtual series features Demarre McGill who finds renewed purpose in uplifting emerging black musicians through hundred-year-old works of art. And, Spike Lee is the latest veteran director to helm a film for Netflix. KPBS film reviewer Beth Accomando says it’s a glorious mess that deserves to be seen in theaters.

Speaker 1: 00:00 COVID case numbers keep creeping up in San Diego and teachers are scrambling to figure out what next school year will look like. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 1: 00:23 Today is Tuesday the 23rd of June this morning, the nation's top infectious disease expert. Dr. Anthony Fowchee told Congress that COVID-19 will remain a threat to the nation. At least through the end of this year. Those words seem to be playing out in San Diego. As health officials acknowledge a spike in positive tests over the last two days, a modest increase in cases as being seen throughout California, as well as a bump up in hospitalizations. So our San Diego County officials who lobbied for the right to speed up reopening, rethinking their strategy. Joining me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who reported on the County COVID-19 briefing on Monday and Matt, welcome to the program. Hey Maureen. Well, first of all, give us an update on the latest Corona virus statistics from the County.

Speaker 2: 01:15 Yeah. So in the last two days, so we're talking Sunday and Monday, we've seen two days of 300 plus cases. We saw the daily high on Sunday with 310 cases. And we've also seen something that officials look at is the positivity rate among cases that we have testing fluctuating from 4,000 tests a day to sometimes 10,000 tests a day. But it's this positivity rate, which usually we fall in between, you know, like two and 4% and like an average of like two and a half percent. Um, on Sunday we saw that positivity rate among cases jumped to 7%. Now health officials call that concerning yesterday. We saw that positivity rate go to 5%. Now, in terms of, you know, is this a big spike in cases we're seeing, is this because everybody's out and we really don't know. In fact, health officials are basically attributing this to sort of a delay in testing. Now they can't say for sure that that's the total reason for the increase, but they say they're getting back some of their results delayed. So they don't want to say that they're seeing a big spike in cases. They think it's a due to some delays in their systems.

Speaker 1: 02:10 Now statewide, there's been a 16% increase in hospitalization rates in the last two weeks. Our hospitalization rates going up here too.

Speaker 2: 02:19 Yeah. You know, yesterday, a County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher said that hospitalization rates and ICU beds here are remaining flat. So we're not seeing sort of the slight uptick that we're seeing across the state of California. Uh, but something that we know that that's something that's a lagging indicator that the County talks about. So when we see these outbreaks, um, they say that that's something that could come up later in terms of these hospital beds filling up, um, especially as they go through their contract, tracing the sea. Um, if the virus has spread to additional people. Now we know that from health officials, we're seeing a trend in terms of at least these outbreaks that it's happening because people aren't wearing face coverings. Um, and yesterday County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher basically said, Hey, look, this face covering mandate is in effect to basically, you know, protect the freedoms that we have right now.

Speaker 3: 02:59 Oh, we're also concerned about the number of folks that are out, uh, without observing physical distancing and face covering. Uh, and it is important to note that the, the effort and intention behind what we are doing is we reopened is to preserve the integrity of our healthcare system. And to date, we have not seen an increase in our hospitalizations or ICU utilization from COVID.

Speaker 2: 03:19 So they haven't seen that increase yet, Maureen, but it's something that's definitely on the horizon. I mean, just in the last seven days, we've seen 10 outbreaks in the last seven days. Now, three of those are new outbreaks. We know that two of them have been at retail locations and one of those at a construction business, but it sounds like, you know, that's just, you know, not wearing mass coverings is sort of the theme they're seeing among these outbreaks. Uh, we also know from hearing from health officials yesterday, um, we've been seeing a lot of protests happening in San Diego County over the last month, um, for racial justice and thousands of people turning out in downtown open in North County. Uh, but they say that, you know, while they were expecting to see some traces, they haven't seen any outbreaks, uh, related to the protest yet.

Speaker 2: 03:55 And those community outbreaks trigger a threshold for the County that may lead to a rollback or a slow down in reopening isn't that? Right? Right. So basically if we hit seven, uh, community outbreaks and what does a community outbreak, that's like an outbreak at like a restaurant or like a business. And that has to be three or more cases. And so basically if we have seven of these community outbreaks in seven days, that's a trigger for the County where they have to go look, they have to look and say, you know, we need to take some corrective action here, or maybe look about pausing our reopening. And that's basically what officials did here. They paused reopenings. Now they didn't roll back anything and said, Hey, you know, no more dining. And at restaurants, we're going to close tattoo shops, stuff like that. They didn't do anything like that.

Speaker 2: 04:33 They just paused reopening here. Um, and it's sort of interesting, worth noting. And we talked about, uh, what is a community outbreak? It's three or more cases we've heard from County health officials yesterday that all but two of the outbreaks in our County here have been with 10 or less people. Now, they said that those have been relatively small outbreaks. And I think they partially attribute that to some of their community tracers who have been able to kind of go out there and find these people before it can spread to even larger groups of people. As we talk about all these modest increases, has there been an increase in deaths in San Diego? We haven't seen a high increase in deaths or anything, but keep in mind too, that that's sort of a lagging indicator when it comes to these like hospitalization rates too. Cause we could see these COVID cases now.

Speaker 2: 05:13 Uh, but it may be a while until, you know, some, one of these persons has a contact, uh, with an older individual that might send them to the hospital and then they might die. So, um, you know, as we see these a higher number of cases, it might be a while until we see, um, possibly higher numbers of that's. If we even see that at all, which area of the County are most of the new positive cases coming from. Yeah, we did hear from the County yesterday on this and they said that the trend is still in the South County, you know, a reporter called and said, you know, we've been seeing some new cases up in the North County. You guys see any trends there. And they said that the big trend that they're still seeing is just a high number of cases in the South County. Um, uh, to more than two thirds of cases in San Diego, um, are Hispanic or Latino. So we're definitely seeing a large population there in our South Bay community. And what kind of demographic information does the County have on these new cases? I've been reading that

Speaker 1: 05:58 In some States they're seeing cases among younger people in their twenties and thirties increasing.

Speaker 2: 06:04 Yeah. You know, there was an interesting tidbit that came out of the meeting yesterday. Now they said the dr. Wilma wouldn't the County public health officer. She said that, you know, cases and people under 40 are up while cases and people over 60 are trending down in our County. Um, and she sorta touched on too, that you hate, you know, a lot of young people think that they're sort of invincible when it comes to the virus. And even though they are seeing the virus infect young people differently, something we have to keep in mind here, especially as, as we move forward is, you know, how do we, you know, care for that elderly population? That's a lot more vulnerable when it comes to that. So, you know, even though young people might not be as susceptible to the virus, they need to make sure that they are taking precautions, that they're washing their hands, that they are physically distancing because God forbid they give it to somebody who has a low immune system or who's in this elderly range. And then they die from the virus.

Speaker 1: 06:48 And how concerned are San Diego public health officials by these latest increases?

Speaker 2: 06:53 We do know that they are a little bit concerned County supervisor, Greg Cox yesterday. He said that that, you know, 7% positive rate on Sunday, um, is something that is concerning to the County. Um, but they don't seem to be too concerned in terms of, you know, we are hitting this trigger right now, but we aren't seeing, you know, a full rollback of, uh, you know, like we talked about earlier, you know, no more dining in or things like that. Um, but something that we are, we are seeing as a pause on future reopenings now you might say to yourself what isn't reopened yet, but we know that there are things like SeaWorld Lego land, uh, Kaboom, that music festival up in Del Mar. Those are businesses and events that hinge on large gatherings that we just aren't there yet in the state. And now even if like, let's say on Monday, next week, the state comes out and says, Hey, you know, concerts and, um, you know, large gatherings theme parks, they can open up on Wednesday. Now, according to the County yesterday, they say that they're not going to adopt that yet because they want to wait to see a more normalizing trend among cases. And they want to see those community outbreaks go back down before they adopt any more guidance in terms of future reopenings.

Speaker 1: 07:47 Now last week, supervisor Nathan Fletcher said there would be additional enforcement against businesses that are not complying with the reopening rules. Did officials say, what action, if any was taken?

Speaker 2: 07:58 Yeah. County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher last week said that they were going to be doing some targeted enforcement. And that was based upon hitting that trigger of the community outbreaks. Now, yesterday we had a chance to ask him if any of that, uh, enforcement was done over the weekend. And we know from County officials that that's a no right now. Um, and we know that there's a lot of restaurants out there that are sort of welcoming this enforcement. Um, he talked to them and they say, it's sort of like the wild West out there when it comes to places. Because, you know, even though they're supposed to be following a sort of state guidelines and County guidelines, it's just, you know, the county's hoping that restaurant owners and businesses they fill out and they just sort of hope that they're complying with the orders. There's nobody going out there and checking on them. Although the governor has talked about using whether it's Cal OSHA or whether it's using the alcoholic beverage control to go out there and maybe do some of these checks, they say that they want to know about, about businesses that aren't in compliance and they want to go out there and find those bad actors.

Speaker 1: 08:50 I have been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman and Matt. Thank you very much. Thanks Maureen Law enforcement in San Diego was reporting yet another side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, a spike in child exploitation on the internet. As kids at home, spend more time online KPBS education reporter Joe Hong spoke to investigators and advocates about what parents can do to monitor youth behavior while schools are out.

Speaker 4: 09:23 Because if we really think about this as modern day slavery,

Speaker 5: 09:25 It seems counterintuitive that reports of human trafficking are up while everyone is sheltering in place. But detective Dan Deardorff with the San Diego human trafficking task force, isn't surprised because many miners have been at home spending more time on their phones and social media,

Speaker 4: 09:39 Social media is, um, it's good, but it has its downfalls where you have a lot of cat fishing going on, which is they're representing somebody else who, um, to the victim or survivor. And, uh, they start promising and things like I promise you. You're so beautiful. You're so cute. You're smart.

Speaker 5: 10:01 According to the San Diego County district attorney's office reports of internet crime against juveniles in the County, which mostly involved sharing elicit photos of minors have tripled. Since the pandemic started in April of 2019, there were 287 reports in the County. This April, the numbers shot up to more than 850, the local spike mirrors, a trend throughout the United States and across the world,

Speaker 6: 10:22 Um, as compared to a variety of factors. Um,

Speaker 5: 10:25 Rebecca Sternberg oversees the cyber tip line at the national center for missing and exploited children in April, 2019. The national tip line received about 1 million reports of child exploitation. Online. This April, the center received more than 4 million reports

Speaker 6: 10:40 With kids being home and parents being at home, get a stay at home orders, um, schools being closed, um, children just have more access to being online, more access to kind of devices that get on the internet.

Speaker 5: 10:51 Dear door's team, which focuses on sex trafficking cases in the San Diego region conducted 12 rescues between March and may of this year. That's more than double what they did during the same months. Last year, the investigation often begins when friends and family report changes in a young person's behavior.

Speaker 4: 11:08 Uh, let's say we received a report from a parent and I'm concerned that their child is leaving home a lot. Uh, they come home with more than one phone. All of a sudden they have money with them

Speaker 5: 11:22 Even before the pandemic human trafficking was a top priority for local law enforcement as a border region, San Diego counties, especially vulnerable district attorney summer Stephan said our office has focused on prevention,

Speaker 6: 11:34 But we simply don't talk to our kids about these issues. And that's why they're kind of sitting ducks for exploitation.

Speaker 5: 11:43 Last year, Stephen's office launched the San Diego trafficking prevention collective, which created a curriculum to help children and detect when someone is trying to exploit them online.

Speaker 6: 11:52 All of the different buzzwords that the, the information that is subverted, you know, like lots of times in, in the world of investigating these cases, they'll use roses instead of money. That's the communication of trading sex for

Speaker 5: 12:12 Stephan says local investigators have to keep up with the constantly changing methods of perpetrators, but she said, social media platforms, aren't doing enough to help

Speaker 6: 12:20 The social platforms. They don't really adjust. They're looking for huge red flags that by law, they have to intercept and they're not looking for subtlety.

Speaker 5: 12:31 Deardorff says the fight against these crimes begins in the home during a time of social distancing. He said, it's more important now than ever for parents to make sure their kids feel cared for at home. So they don't become vulnerable to the flattery that leads to exploitation.

Speaker 4: 12:45 A lot of it is the responsible ability of the parents. Um, again, I think the most important thing for us as individuals, as a whole is just communication with each other and opening up and finding out what the other person's going through. Because if you can't gain the trust of individuals in your family or individuals in your community, um, then you're losing half the battle.

Speaker 5: 13:08 If you suspect that a minor, you know is being exploited online, you can submit a report at report that's cyber tip.org.

Speaker 1: 13:16 Joining me is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Welcome.

Speaker 7: 13:20 Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: 13:22 Those statistics. You talk about the huge spikes in elicit photos of kids and in child exploitation, that's really disturbing. Do San Diego investigators have the resources to keep up with this increase?

Speaker 7: 13:35 Yeah, I think they do, you know, uh, this type of crime, uh, this type of exploitation has been a real priority for San Diego county's district attorney and the Sheriff's office. And they've actually created a task force to investigate these types of crimes and a lot of these crimes, according to the national center for missing and exploited children, a lot of, a lot of these individual reports are related to one image or one video that has gone viral. And it's being shared around. When I talked to investigators, they, they seem to be keeping up with this increase.

Speaker 1: 14:11 What happens when let's say a parent suspects, their child has been contacted with a suspicious request for a photo, should they report it to law enforcement?

Speaker 7: 14:22 Yes, they absolutely should report law enforcement and they actually have a couple options. They could go to the national center for missing and exploited children. They have a cyber tip line that I mentioned in the story, and if they report it through that platform, it actually comes back to local law enforcement or they can reach out directly to local law enforcement. And then what happens is that, um, investigators in the trafficking task force or the internet crimes against task force will investigate. They'll look at the child's social media interactions or interactions on any messaging platforms and, um, in the, the investigations that actually lead to an arrest, a lot of sort of going undercover by detectives, typically in like a hotel or, um, where these investigators will meet the perpetrators in person,

Speaker 1: 15:16 Da summer. Stephan told you that parents don't talk to their children about the potential for becoming victims of exploitation or sex trafficking. So tell us more about the resources available to help parents to have that conversation with their kids.

Speaker 7: 15:33 So the DA's office has launched, what's called the San Diego trafficking prevention collective that has created this curriculum for helping teachers and parents recognize the signs of exploitation or trafficking. The child might be going out frequently, might be coming home with more money or more, uh, cell phones in some cases, and having, um, older, older partners, older boyfriends. Um, and what's interesting is that, uh, the DA's office actually told me that once they started doing these presentations in schools, some students actually came up to them and said, I think I'm being exploited online. So this, this program seems to be working.

Speaker 1: 16:15 What happens to the children who actually become the victims of sex traffickers? How are they treated by law enforcement?

Speaker 7: 16:23 Uh, detective Dan Deardorff white, who I talked to, uh, spoke to me about this in some detail. So as soon as the arrest is made, um, they intercept the, the child and they immediately assess the psychological and emotional condition. And it really takes a lot of, a lot of counseling. And that really is the focus of the, the trafficking task force. Yes, making the arrest is important, but I think the, the aftermath of that and helping these folks, uh, recover from what they've been through is, is really the top priority for them.

Speaker 1: 16:57 You report that San Diego detectives made 12 rescues of kids being trafficked between March and may of this year. Do they have any idea how many children locally may have been involved in the sex trade and have not been rescued?

Speaker 7: 17:13 Yeah, this is a, this is a question that I asked pretty frequently. And the same answer yet is that we don't know this issue. Experts agree that this, these crimes are extremely under reported and they are hard to recognize for, uh, for law enforcement because, you know, if you stop someone and you suspect that they have a weapon or, um, or narcotics, you can search for that. But if you see a man in a car accompanied by a woman, there's no sort of conspicuous, you know, reason for suspicion there. And so, yeah, the answer is really no, but we know that that these clients are under reported.

Speaker 1: 17:52 Now, finally, Joe social media platforms are getting criticized for not being active enough. We heard that in your story too, that they're not doing enough to target child sex exploitation. What do critics say they could be doing that? They're not doing?

Speaker 7: 18:09 Um, so da summer stuff and told me that she would like to see social media companies really, really beef up their, um, the teams that sort of investigate the exchanges between perpetrators and, uh, their victims. She said local law enforcement is able to really go in there and learn the language and the lingo that these perpetrators use, this lingo changes often. Um, whereas I think social media companies are, they really catch the big red flags, you know, like the, the images or the videos that are being circulated. Um, and yeah, da, summer Stephan would like to see these platforms sort of get better at recognizing the nuances and these interacts.

Speaker 1: 18:52 Okay. Then I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Thank you.

Speaker 8: 18:58 Thank you.

Speaker 9: 19:11 The coronavirus pandemic has posed enormous new challenges for teachers and their students, teachers and San Diego schools had done their best during the quarantine to figure out how best to teach their students via distance learning. Now, the San Diego unified school district has announced it will start the new school year by giving parents the choice of either sending their child back to school or keeping them at home to continue distance learning, to talk about how education is adapting to all this. Our two teachers, Kesha Borden, who is president of the San Diego education association and who also taught third and fifth grade at Zamora elementary school for over 20 years. Kesha, thanks for being with us. Thank you for having me and Dave Irving teaches ceramics at Hoover high. Thank you for joining us now, Dave, you've been a high school teacher for 20 years, but this last year must have been very different. What's it been like for you these last few months with the transition to distance learning?

Speaker 8: 20:09 Uh, unequivocably challenging, especially since I teach ceramics, which is a three dimensional art form and, uh, the way that we left school, uh, there wasn't a time for kids to all have what they needed at home. So I had to make a major transition in order to keep the year going for them.

Speaker 9: 20:31 Kesha. What were you hearing from teachers across the district about how distance learnings worked for them?

Speaker 8: 20:37 Um, well, it was definitely challenging as Dave said. Um, it was also exhausting mentally and physically exhausting, um, hearing from, um,

Speaker 10: 20:48 Basically having to change their way of teaching completely. Um, in a matter of a couple of weeks, um, I think one of the biggest challenges was, uh, connecting with and retaining that connection with their students, whether their students were not able to connect for whatever reason or they just simply didn't have the motivation to connect. I think that was a big part of the challenge. Um, but yeah, just learning those new online platforms, zoom, Google meet, um, and, and making sure students were using those platforms safely. Um, our teachers were so worried. They had heard horror stories of zoom bombing that became a new part of our vocabulary of people somehow entering their zoom meetings with their students. And so there was a lot of concern about just keeping their students safe.

Speaker 9: 21:44 Right. Let's just talk a bit about the coming year then. I mean, Keisha, can you see a situation where a family might decide to send a child to school maybe once a week for face to face time with a teacher and then do the rest at home? I mean, is that the kind of flexibility that's being offered?

Speaker 10: 22:00 Well, that's one of the models that the district shared at the board meeting last week. Um, they call it a blended model where students, half of the class would come maybe four days a week, um, and then be home the next week while the other half of the class came in for four days. And then that fifth day would be, um, for prep for the teacher to prepare. Um, there would also be an option where for our service providers like our, um, occupational therapists or counselors or any of those other service providers, our speech language pathologists, there would be opportunity for students to make appointments, to come in and see those other service providers, because we found that that was a very difficult part of online learning those one-on-one, um, service providers, um, our ed specialists with our students with IDPs getting those services provided to our students. So, um, that's part of the plan for the blended learning is where students would only be on campus for a few days and then a different group would come, um, while the other, the first group was at home.

Speaker 9: 23:19 And while they are on campus, what, what, when they do arrive on campus, if they do Keisha, what do you imagine a classroom would look like? You know, taking social distancing requirements into consideration?

Speaker 10: 23:31 Well, for my fifth grade class, I had up to 35 students. My classroom was not that big. Um, it was an effort to squeeze between desks during the day when all the students were. So we, we definitely have to think about how we're going to reduce class sizes. I think that blended model where only half of the students are there is one option. If all students are there, there has to be some way to split the class because there's no way you can have 30, 35 kids in a classroom and implement social distancing. That's just not possible.

Speaker 9: 24:08 And would that require a more days, a week, more hours in the day, how would you manage that?

Speaker 10: 24:13 It would require more teachers, um, or other staff members to supervise half of the class while one half is in the classroom with learning and then perhaps some type of enrichment or something else happening with the other half of the class with another adult. That's part of the plan that hasn't really been fleshed out, that the district presented a very broad plan. Um, I know they're working this week and next week with, uh, think tanks to really work out the details, um, because there's a lot to consider. Um, if we're going to come back to school, even just entering campus, um, thinking about, I don't know if you've ever seen drop off in the morning for an elementary school, there's hundreds of students coming to school. And if we're going to be checking temperatures or doing any kind of health check, there's going to have to be multiple entrances. There's going to have to be multiple staff members doing that. Um, we're going to have to limit visitors on campus or additional parents. It's, it's, there's a lot to consider if we're going to keep our students safe,

Speaker 9: 25:27 A huge number of unknowns. Now, the district has said it only has enough money for in class education for the first half of the school year. I don't know if you're waiting on federal money. Um, but should parents be prepared to have their children learning from home again, if, if either of the COBIT numbers tick up or if enough funding doesn't come through,

Speaker 10: 25:47 That's definitely a possibility. Um, the state recently decided not to implement the cuts they had talked about, um, to education, but even then, if we do not get the funding from the federal government, if the heroes act does not pass, the district has said they do not have enough money to continue the whole year. And so that's one thing. Another thing is if we see another surge, um, we're hearing from scientists that say this winter, there could be another huge surge in cases. We may have to close schools again and go to distance learning. So yeah, we need to be prepared for that eventuality, as Dave was saying, he, at least if we start school, um, we can prepare our students. We can give them the resources and the supplies they may need if we have to go back to online learning.

Speaker 9: 26:43 So I'd like to ask

Speaker 8: 26:44 Each of you, you know, Dave first, what, what would you want the administrators to know at your school district about what would help you and your students succeed, succeed in the next school year? Well, I would say that fundamentally, it has to be a clear, a well understood science guided plan to keep everyone safe, um, and going with everything that's been consistently stated since what February, um, and that is social distancing and mask wearing, um, and, and avoiding large groups, which is going to be next to impossible in school, but whatever we do to try and make this happen, if it's clear, consistent, well thought out science guided, and everyone does the same thing

Speaker 9: 27:39 And Kesha, what, what would you like to hear from the administration?

Speaker 10: 27:43 Um, I, I completely agree with everything. Dave said, we need to really make sure that we are following the guidelines from the department of health. Um, we need to make sure that we have those protocols in place that we share those with our parents, so that the parents know exactly what to expect and, and help, uh, communicate those expectations to their children. Um, so that the, the students are hearing the same message from the educators in school and from, from home. Um, so again, we need to make sure that we find ways to reduce the number of students in one place at a time. We need to figure out how we can make hand-washing, uh, available on a regular basis to students at school. Um, and again, the, the social distancing, there's just, there's a lot to consider. Um, but whatever is decided on, it has to be clearly communicated to everyone involved. Um, and we have to make sure, um, those protocols are followed for the health and safety of everyone involved.

Speaker 9: 28:53 I just want to ask you one more question, which is, do you feel like the experience that you've had over the last few months of, uh, you know, learning about distance learning, uh, that it'll get easier that somehow we are on the, on the road to making progress with making distance learning effective for our students, Dave,

Speaker 8: 29:13 The one thing that was really, and I don't know that it can be actually learned and we can get better at it, but just making the connections, the emotional connections that, that helped to stabilize, uh, um, uh, students in boon and get them ready for learning, um, by creating a, you know, an in person safe environment that you rely on, you know, facial expressions and, and, and just, you know, body language and all of that that is completely missing in, um, in the online learning environment. And some kids are fine with that. Um, and some kids aren't, and, and they, they kind of back away and that's, that's going to be the biggest challenge is getting everyone an equal opportunity to do strive. Excellent point. Yeah, we could go on. I'd love to, I've got a lot more questions, but, um, I'd like to thank you both very much. Kesha Borden president of the San Diego education association. Thank you, Keisha. Thank you. And Dave Irving, who teaches, uh, at Hoover high. Thanks, Dave. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 30:26 SDMA plus is the San Diego museum of arts collaborative performing arts program linking works from the museum's collection with local performance artists. This summer, they've launched a virtual series with instrumental musicians through art of Alon KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans has the story on tonight's performance.

Speaker 11: 30:49 Flu does tamari Miguel co-founded, local music, nonprofit part of Atlanta with Kate Hatmaker nearly 15 years ago when he was part of the San Diego symphony. Miguel has since moved away and is now principal flute for the Seattle symphony, but he'll return this month virtually to perform at the SDMA plus series. Here's how it works. Performing arts organizations are tasked with interpreting works from the museum's vast collections or a current temporary exhibition. Often performances take place literally in front of the work in question like most other arts events during quarantine, the project has found a new home online this summer, the STMA plus instrumental video concert series will launch a new performance every other Tuesday on the museum's YouTube channel. Miguel selected Notredame and Neo impressionist painting by Maximillian loose in the museum's permanent collection, the dab style brushstrokes wash the Paris cathedral and the busy scene with an impressionist fakeness

Speaker 4: 31:45 There's enough room in his style for the viewer to actually bring the painting to life. My taken. And when I looked at this work is yes, the cathedral is beautiful, but I'm fascinated by this sort of, uh, the day in the life of any of those people around the cathedral around this, this landmark. And that's the energy that I feel

Speaker 11: 32:09 The vagueness of the paintings narrative also help determine McGill's musical selection. The work of composer, Claude Debussy has a dream like wonder that skirts the edge of clarity, much like in the painting, Miguel opted for Debbie sees 1913 work for solo flute. Sarah, The piece tells the story of pan and his for the nymph syrinx, who according to legend transformed herself into reads by the Riverside to hide from pan. When he furiously cut down every read, including Searings to make into his beloved pan flute, he destined the nymph to forever hang from his neck.

Speaker 4: 32:54 What I love about playing this particular piece syrinx is that at least enough room for me to actually mold the story as I see fit. And for you, the listener to also claim the story, even though the story may be the most likely is

Speaker 12: 33:14 Very different from my perspective and yours.

Speaker 11: 33:23 One of our relatively small population of black classical musicians in the country, Miguel has found his own transformation during the last few months as the pandemic forces art to shift online, the current uprising and our recentered national dialogue on race has sparked a new passion in him.

Speaker 4: 33:39 I realized that everything that I do and as a black classical musician specifically, I want to use everything I do, whether it's playing or speaking to effect, change, positive change. And that's what I've been doing these days, trying to make change within the classical institutions. I'm a part of trying to make change like as a mentor,

Speaker 11: 34:03 He's asking organizations, including his own Seattle symphony to commit themselves, to making specific changes that will help them better serve and collaborate with their communities.

Speaker 4: 34:15 This is an opportunity for larger arts organizations to make adjustments, not just because of what's happening socially in this country and around the world, but even because of the virus, there's time now to come up with different plans, to make adjustments, to mission statement, to include communities that have been underserved and neglected by this art forms.

Speaker 11: 34:40 The Mari Miguel performs. Debbie sees syrinx as part of STMA plus and art of Alon tonight at 6:00 PM via YouTube.

Speaker 9: 34:48 That was KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans for more on the SDMA plus performance series, go to kpbs.org/arts. Netflix has been nearing veteran directors, such as Martin Scorsese and spike Lee to make films for its streaming service. Lee just debuted the five bloods, KPBS arts reporter, Beth commando talks about the film with movie. One of the podcaster Yazdi Patala yeah, LSD spike. Lee has a new film out on Netflix and it's called the five bloods and it uses the Vietnam war as a backdrop of these four veterans getting together, going back to Vietnam. So it's good to see

Speaker 13: 35:38 You. I'm telling you this don't cold trip back here in country and we wouldn't baby. We got off that plane, got a heat. Hit me upside the head, just like in 68. Yeah, brother, man. You're back. The blood is back. We just soon to be fine.

Speaker 14: 35:57 And the plan is to find the soldier, their friend, who was left behind, but there's also another angle to it where there's some gold that had been buried. Also. What was your first reaction to this film and how did you feel about it?

Speaker 15: 36:14 So, um, this is a two hour and 30 minute movie, and a lot of reviewers have mentioned this before that it's many movies in one it's, it's definitely a Vietnam war movie. It's also a heist movie and it's also a message movie. And it's sort of a combination of the treasure of Sierra Madre and apocalypse. Now, you know, Jewish, they're two direct references. So this is a very ambitious project and we can discuss more about this, but my first reaction was one of it being very, very entertaining. It, it gets pulpy at times, there's a very strident waste to the whole thing, which is very critical of how things have been in terms of the Vietnam war, continuing through racial relations right now. So definitely very timely, um, and also very entertaining all along.

Speaker 14: 37:08 Yeah. When I watched it, I think my first thought was it's kind of a glorious mess because he does try to cram so much into one movie. I mean, this is like his apocalypse now, and this is his treasure of Sierra Madre. And it is a revisiting of civil rights from all the way back in the sixties to the present day. And as with most of spike Lee's films, it's his passion and his energy in this kind of ferocious sense of trying to get a message across that is absolutely riveting. Even when, you know, there are moments when it also feels like, you know, reign this in, or maybe do this as a multi-part five part series or something, because it did seem like he was trying to fit an awful lot in here.

Speaker 15: 37:53 Definitely. And that, that was also one of my thoughts was that this might have been better served as a two or three part mini series, especially if he knew all along that this was going to be released on Netflix. Um, there's five main characters in the movie and they all have backstories. Um, and the movie plays out and [inaudible] in the present day in Vietnam as well as, uh, very frequently goes back, uh, several Jack decades into the Vietnam war. And then in addition to the five characters, there are many, many peripheral characters, those in what you mean city right now, as well as a group of, uh,

Speaker 15: 38:30 Uh, humanitarian workers. And there's so much blockchain and so much material there that sometimes, you know, the movie has a hard time pulling all the strands in together. And you, you coupled that with this very strident message that, uh, spike Lee wants to make it on a variety of topics and it does become sort of an unwieldy mess, but Mmm. I sort of forgive a lot of those things because, you know, he's so impassioned and so, Mmm. It's subjective and it's in his thinking and then putting that forward naked and unworn nourished, and I'm worried about how it will be received that this kind of brave say it like it is filmmaking is rare right now when everybody's so careful and, uh, cautious about, uh, you know, what they're saying and how they're saying,

Speaker 14: 39:23 Well, one of the strengths of the film I think is Delroy. Linda's character of Paul and Delroy Lindo has worked with spike Lee a number of times before. And this character was fascinating on so many levels because for one he's presented to us as a Trump supporter, which is interesting. He's also kind of the most haunted of the four men who go back to Vietnam.

Speaker 16: 39:46 I see. Yeah. As safe goes, what happens to all of us, man? Are you seeing them till they had come to you or night storm and norm to me every night night he talked to y'all like, he talked to me, come on, come on.

Speaker 14: 40:08 But he was really a powerful centerpiece to this film.

Speaker 15: 40:13 Yeah. I mean, he's asked to carry the weight of the movie, the entire, the entire moral outrage that, that, that the movie carries carries, you know, it's carried at the back of the Delroy Lindo character. And I too was surprised that, you know, he is presented, uh, first as somebody who has a very right-leaning, uh, political beliefs and as a Trump supporter. But I think, you know, he's, he's the backbone on which the entire story is built, even, even, um, the final revelation at the end, it's surrounding his character. And it's such a great showcase for this actor, like who, you know, who he is being into the right thing. And so many of other, uh, Crooklyn and so many of other spike Lee movies. And it's great that Lee kind of entrusted, uh, this veteran actor with, with carrying a lot of emotional burden through the entire course of the movie. This is a character who plays the entire gamut. I mean, he's a very haunted, very troubled individual who we slowly get to understand in more, in more detail as the movie progresses.

Speaker 14: 41:18 And I want to talk a little bit about spike Lee's approach to the story and kind of his stylistic flourishes, because there are flashbacks, as you mentioned, and the screen tends to shrink down to a different aspect to kind of signal to us that we're in a different timeframe, but he also chooses to keep the actors from the present day kind of at their own age, even when we're flashing back to Vietnam. And I was curious how you felt that played.

Speaker 15: 41:49 That was definitely something I noticed upfront. And maybe at one point he had considered using D aging technology for the, for the many, many scenes, which are said during the Vietnam war. And maybe, maybe he decided, um, not to do that eventually knowing that it may not be completely successful. I'm personally curious why he didn't use are just younger actors to play their counterparts because, uh, the fourth individual who gets left behind during the Vietnam war is played by Chadwick Boseman who it's considerably younger than, than the other four actors in this. So it does come off Mmm. A little odd, but as the movie progressed, as you kind of get used to it, um, maybe, uh, Lee realized that bringing in another set of factors, a D aging them would add another layer of complexity to an already, um, you know, full plate that the movie was delivering to the audience. So maybe chose to, do you use the same actors, but it does play odd.

Speaker 14: 42:51 Well, for me, the one thing that struck me, I, so when it first started, it was a moment where it kind of pulls you out of the film because you're going, Whoa, wait a minute. But as it progressed, I kind of felt like the point he was making is how much of an impact that Vietnam war had on them and that it has, you know, affected their entire lives and seeing them at their current age back then, was this kind of odd bridge to that emotional experience.

Speaker 15: 43:22 Yeah. I, I didn't think about it until you mentioned it that, but yeah. I mean, that's a good point that maybe, maybe he wants to convey that in a sense they're already burdened and age off the bat, you know, facing the tremendous, uh, post traumatic stress coming out of the Vietnam war that even decades ago, they were already beaten and showed signs of having aged. Um, and it's curious that he doesn't use makeup either either to show the current, a version of the actors older or the previous one's younger. Um, the other thing which is very interesting is, um, that, uh, spike Lee uses Mmm, real life newsreels photographs, coats, uh, you know, intercalated through the entire movie to kind of keep the story grounded with actual events, which were happening at that time. Um, and the movie itself is bookended by, you know, uh, Martin Luther King coats.

Speaker 15: 44:23 So he definitely wants to make sure that at no point do we get too caught up with the entertainment. So as to lose the very forbid messaging that is going on almost minute by minute through the whole movie, and at times that did feel a little too strident to me, I know he used a very similar device in his last movie, black Klansman as well, and there as well, that that device seemed almost redundant to me. I think that if the story spoke on its own grounds, that the message was carried forward and you didn't need that additional context, but, um, that's, you know, that's the style he chooses. Yeah.

Speaker 14: 45:01 Well, and I also think it's interesting that Netflix has given spike Lee and Martin Scorsese, both established veteran filmmakers, this opportunity to work on a fairly large canvas, uh, for a Netflix original film.

Speaker 15: 45:17 Yeah, I agree. And I think that's what I think know Martin Scorsese has been very vocal about this as well. I mean, no filmmaker wants to necessarily have their movie. I play on a small screen and people's homes, but I think it's that, that freedom, as well as the financial support, you know, to have complete God plans to make the movie that they absolutely want to make, which no studio right now is willing to provide these back and filmmakers. And it speaks more to the state of Hollywood right now than anything else. But, um, I think it definitely, um, allows, allows them to kind of be unrestrictive in terms of, you know, how they want to create their piece of they're a piece of art

Speaker 14: 46:00 For better or worse. I don't think Netflix puts the pressure on them to keep it like under two hours the way a studio does, knowing that, you know, a cinema needs to screen a film so many times in one day. So they do have this certain sense of kind of a large scope that they can tell their stories.

Speaker 15: 46:16 Yeah, definitely. And it seems that, you know, Netflix was not too wrong to do that. I mean, last year they got so much street credit, you know, out of, out of there, out of their collaboration with Martin Scorsese in terms of how well the Irishman played during the Oscars. And likewise, this movie was not actively advertised. I think on Netflix. I mean, I, I, we all watch a lot of Netflix and any new releases that they have. They typically we'll have it show up every time you log into Netflix or so they did not to the best of my knowledge, do a lot of that for, uh, the five, the five bloods, but it was number two on Netflix is most watched, watched shows or movies as of last week. So I think they recognize that they are named brands like Martin Scorsese and spitely are name brands. And just the fact that their movies released on Netflix is enough for people to seek it out. And it seems to be working.

Speaker 14: 47:13 Yazdi let me ask you what your top three, uh, spike Lee films are, which three can you not live without one?

Speaker 15: 47:21 The one which always jumps to mind right away is do the right thing. That's a movie that, you know, it's timeless refuses to age it, even though it may age in terms of its cultural references, it's messaging and it's authenticity. Just, I mean, I saw it fairly recently, I think about six months ago and it's just as angry and just as strong a call to arms in terms of how we treat race in this country's life. For me, you know, it's very hard to find anything in his, in his, uh, uh, you know, and, and, and his, in his work, um, that, that matches that Mmm, other two that I would like to pick, um, would be, uh, jungle fever, because I think that's one of his movies, which was more playful. It wasn't as, uh, politically strident and not necessarily a message movie, although, although it did have, you know, a commentary about race relations, but, but I, you know, that's, that's kind of a fun, hot blooded, good, the kind of movie which was made made in the eighties, which we don't seem to be making anymore.

Speaker 15: 48:32 Um, and then finally, uh, I think one of his more underrated movies is, uh, is the one that came out, um, a couple of years ago, maybe five years ago, which has Shiraz that movie too, is a bit of a nest because stylistically spike Lee strains so much historic, throwing so much at the screen, but even if it all doesn't come together, um, not too unlike, uh, the five bloods it's, it's, it's so much that you, as a viewer are, are asked to digest and, and, and ruminate on. And considering that there are so few filmmakers like spike CLI, um, even when he overindulges, it [inaudible], it's about com uh, it it's, it's welcome to his, uh, to those who love his problems.

Speaker 14: 49:19 Well, I have to agree with you on do the right thing. I do think that that is a film that will stand the Testament of time and be something that it has such a powerful, angry voice to it that I think it really merits watching again and again, but I will also add to that list that you had. I love his first film. She's gotta have it. It just, it has such a raw energy, and it feels so much like this completely independent first film where he's playful with the medium, and he's having a great time kind of revealing a new voice to us. And I do love that film, and I think it's sometimes gets a little overshadowed by his much bigger projects. And I'd also like to highlight the fact that he's done documentaries as well. And four little girls is an amazing work too. And I think again, sometimes people forget that, but he is a great filmmaker and I'm glad he is continuing to make films that are pushing the envelope in certain ways. I really do think that the five bloods stylistically, I think really has some innovation and a lot of ambition to it and is exciting for that reason.

Speaker 15: 50:44 Yeah. Agreed. I mean, looking at his filmography, it's incredible that he's played in so many different spaces and being very successful at all of them. I mean, he, he did a very straightforward commercial movie such as, uh, the inside man, any 50 hours a movie, which meant it came out. Okay. It wasn't thought of as much, but it's really gained a lot of esteem in retrospect. Mmm bye. Bye bye. A lot of movie lovers, you know, I would love for somebody to just do a retrospective of spike Lee movies. Not that they haven't been done already, but, um, just, just the breadth of his, uh, um, office work of the entirety of his work is remarkable. Be it very commercial stuff and stuff like you said, starting with, she's gotta have it, which was filmed entirely in black and white. And it really plays like a smaller, ambitious Mmm uh, independent movie, but, but definitely has a very unique perspective in terms of how the story is told.

Speaker 14: 51:43 Well, and even some of his films that are kind of failed, like bamboozled are still fascinating to watch and still display such remarkable filmmaking, even if all the parts don't necessarily come together well in the end. Yeah,

Speaker 15: 52:00 Definitely.

Speaker 14: 52:02 Well, I want to thank you very much for speaking with me about spike. Lee's new film to five bloods, which is available on Netflix currently, and also pointing out some of his other work that people may be interested in seeking out if they haven't yet seen them. And I hope that this film does have an opportunity to play in cinemas when they reopened, because I do feel that this is a film that will play even better on a big screen.

Speaker 15: 52:27 Agreed. And thank you, Beth

Speaker 14: 52:29 Black GI in Memphis, Tennessee

Speaker 17: 52:34 Alliant, man assassinate, dr. Martin Luther King, dr. King also oppose the U S war in Vietnam, lack GI your government send 600,000 troops to crush the rebellion, your soul sister and soul brothers. I enraged in over 122 cities. They killed them. Why you fight against us so far away from where you are needed.

Speaker 14: 53:08 That was Beth, Amanda, and Yazdi, [inaudible] talking about spike. Lee's the five bloods, which is streaming on Netflix. Listen to the midday movies podcast for their recommendation of other Lee films to watch.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.