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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

CDC: Vaccinated Can Go Outside Without Mask

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk through Balboa Park. August 1, 2020.

The CDC updated its guidelines and mask wearing and now says people who are fully vaccinated don't need to wear a mask when they're outdoors, unless they're in a crowd. Plus, organizers of the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber announced Monday. Also, critics cast doubt on San Diego Gas & Electric’s plan to produce carbon neutral energy by 2045, saying fossil fuel natural gas remains a big part of the utility’s portfolio. In addition, a nonprofit is helping veterans find a new purpose following their careers in the military. And, who is considered Arab American as the nation recognizes National Arab American Heritage Month for the first time on a federal level. Finally, an excerpt from the “Parker Edison Project” podcast looks at the history of radio in San Diego and how Black DJs had to go to Mexico to broadcast in the U.S.

Speaker 1: 00:00 President Biden announces new CDC guidelines on masks.

Speaker 2: 00:04 If you're fully vaccinated and you're outdoors, you need, and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask.

Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS midday edition, California loses a congressional seat for the first time.

Speaker 2: 00:28 I'm still at the most in the nation because we grew, but we didn't grow as fast as we normally do. And as fast as some of the Sunbelt States,

Speaker 1: 00:36 San Diego gas and electric makes a commitment to net zero emissions and April is newly named national Arab American heritage month. That's ahead on midday edition. New guidelines on mask wearing announced by president Biden. Today should have fully vaccinated people taking a big breath of fresh air.

Speaker 2: 01:08 I want to be absolutely clear if you're in a crowd like a stadium or at a conference or concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you're outside. But beginning today gathered a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic. As long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask.

Speaker 1: 01:34 Health officials say those fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks when gathering and dining outdoors in small groups. Even with those who may not have been vaccinated, but there are voices of caution being raised about the vaccinated being too certain. They're now safe from COVID. The CDC says 5,800 us cases of COVID infection have been reported in people who've been fully vaccinated. That's a tiny percentage of the millions who've gotten their shots, but it comes as an unwelcome surprise to those who thought there was no chance of getting sick. Johnny means Dr. Shira. Abeles an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego health. Dr. Abel is welcome to the program.

Speaker 3: 02:15 Thank you so much for having me in that

Speaker 1: 02:17 Tiny percentage of vaccinated. People who've come down with a virus. Does that mean that the vaccination just didn't take?

Speaker 3: 02:24 No, I think it's a number of different factors, but we do know that no vaccination, no vaccine is perfect. No vaccine is a hundred percent. Um, and what we do think is that for the vast majority of people who do get COVID after being vaccinated, it's a milder course than anticipated, which is what we ultimately hope for. We want to prevent deaths and illness.

Speaker 1: 02:47 Can you tell if the vaccine is stimulating your immune system the way it should?

Speaker 3: 02:52 I don't think we know that yet. And we think people get the vaccine and have what's called reactive genicity, which we always encourage them to feel good about. But even if you don't have the very sore arm, the chills or, or fatigue that a lot of people have, um, we do believe that people are getting very good immune responses regardless. So there are some ways to do antibody tests, but generally they don't equate with protection. So there is caution across the board and reassurance across 10 board. When you get vaccinated.

Speaker 1: 03:24 Now, someone who's been fully vaccinated may not think they need a COVID test. If they feel ill with a call for a fever, but should they get one

Speaker 3: 03:33 Again, these aren't a hundred percent effective and we know there's generally less other kinds of illnesses going around. So if anyone particularly has a fever, loses their sense of smell, feels unwell. They should get tested for COVID-19

Speaker 1: 03:48 New CDC guidelines have been released today on mask wearing people who've been fully vaccinated can do most activities outdoors without a mask, everything except being in a large crowd of people. Do you believe now is the right time to relax those guidelines?

Speaker 3: 04:03 Well, we've learned a lot about the spread of COVID-19. And so we do know that outdoors is the safest location because the air is constantly moving. And so it doesn't have that ability to build up and cause an increased risk of infection. So being outdoors is safer across the board, then having the added step of being vaccinated. I think everyone's had a really tough year and are looking for a sigh of relief. And so guiding people to do that outdoors and in small groups is hopefully going to promote vaccination and also discouraged from doing indoor gatherings, which are higher risk for transmission, um, and move away from that and promoting being outdoors, which we're lucky to be in San Diego for that reason.

Speaker 1: 04:51 Right. At what point do you expect that indoor prohibition or that indoor mask guideline to change?

Speaker 3: 04:58 That's another excellent question. I think we need more time, more vaccines, more therapies. I think it will be processed just how we kind of have a process for when things get worse. Step-by-step step adding restrictions. We're going to take it equally the other way, because we have variants of concern that we have to account for in our planning. And we don't want to feel completely sure when we know that there's very active virus in the world that could pose risk and we want to avoid any risks to our community.

Speaker 1: 05:29 I'm going to assume that, uh, you have been fully vaccinated. I wonder what it is that you still decide not to do well or what precautions you still choose to take.

Speaker 3: 05:41 I am fully vaccinated and that was a really great relief, but I've never stopped my masking. Um, and I definitely, I also have young children and so modeling for them masking cause they don't have the capacity to get vaccinated. This time is really important. So I'm a big proponent of doing it, but among the accelerated people, you know, I feel very comfortable being outdoors, um, for really important milestones. Um, such as visiting with grandma, you know, we allow for that, we do use some testing sometimes, but there are certain life decisions and small group gatherings that we feel comfortable with as a family, making those decisions,

Speaker 4: 06:24 See as like the final frontier of society reopening, is it large gatherings mask lists? Is it frequent travel on airplanes?

Speaker 3: 06:34 Yeah. So if I think about, you know, packing an audience for a musical performance where people are dancing and singing and, and shouting and in closely packed area, you know, if we can get there, I think that will be kind of one of the last steps where we feel comfortable just because that's so high risk. Um, and there's other things we can do to mitigate, um, transmission in those kinds of settings, like being outdoors, um, and spacing them out. So I think we're still a far way off from that. Unfortunately for particularly the young people. When do you think,

Speaker 4: 07:10 I think we'll know if fully vaccinated people will need a booster shot.

Speaker 3: 07:14 I think by a year's time, I think luckily the vaccines are being designed and worked on as we speak in the anticipation of that. So I wouldn't anticipate that we would be doing boosters before a year's time, but possibly at a year or some interval soon thereafter

Speaker 4: 07:34 With Dr. Shira [inaudible] and infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego health. And Dr. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3: 07:40 Watch, thank you so much. This was such a pleasure to talk to you

Speaker 5: 07:53 From

Speaker 4: 07:54 Just to recall governor Gavin Newsom to California, losing a congressional seat for the first time in history. There's a lot happening in the golden state's political landscape, which could soon change joining me to make sense of it all is that cows are political science professor at UC San Diego and chair of the political science department.

Speaker 5: 08:13 Welcome. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 4: 08:16 So now that it has been verified that the recall campaign has met the needed number of signatures

Speaker 5: 08:22 Next steps. Well, now we've got to hurry up and wait. So secretary of state, Shirley Weber is still working through the process of getting a final count of signatures. After that the people who did sign this petition are going to have the chance if they want to take their names off the petition, but more than a hundred thousand people would have to do that. So that chances are vanishingly slim of that happening. And the state also goes through a process of trying to figure out what it would cost to hold the recall election. After that happens, then we moved to a full certification of the recall and Lieutenant governor gets to then decide whether the election will be held anytime between 60 and 80 days afterwards. So we're probably looking at an early fall recall of governor Gavin Newsome, or at least an attempt,

Speaker 4: 09:08 Remind us how we got here. I mean, what fueled this campaign to recall governor Newsome,

Speaker 5: 09:13 Even though this re competition was started before the pandemic and was I think the sixth or seventh recall campaign, uh, that was, that had been circulated since Gavin Newsome had taken office. What really fueled it was this really tough winter. The California had where our COVID rates were, some of the highest in the nation. We had terrible, uh, numbers of people in the hospital and, and passing away. And at the same time, Gavin Newsome on the Eve of him sort of shutting down the state because of the, the, the, the COVID metrics. He was caught at the French laundry of fancy, uh, Napa Valley, a restaurant out eating with people. And that really seemed to many people to show that he was out of touch and not handling the state now fast forward to today. And we're much better place in the pandemic. The economy is reopening. Schools are reopening. Gavin Newsome looks a lot stronger, but who knows exactly where we'll be in the fall.

Speaker 4: 10:07 So when voters get a ballot for the recall, what exactly will they be weighing in on

Speaker 5: 10:12 Voters are going to face two choices when the recall election starts. So they're going to have, and those two choices work under different rules. The first choice is about whether or not to throw out Gavin Newsome yes or no. And that's governed by a simple majority, 50% plus one throws him out of office. The next ballot is to replace them. They're going to choose between a wide number of candidates, right? We've already seen a lot of candidates say they're going to hop in last time. In 2003, we had 135 candidates. Whoever gets the most votes, the plurality winner, even if it falls far short of the majority gets to be the next governor of California. If Gavin Newsome is thrown out

Speaker 4: 10:49 And you know, who's vying to replace Newsome. If the recall is successful,

Speaker 5: 10:55 The leading contenders are all Republicans and that's no accident. We've got John Cox, he's the San Diego Republican who ran against Gavin Newsome in 2018. We've got clearly the, the, the front runner in many people's minds as former San Diego mayor, Kevin Faulkner. We also saw Caitlin Jenner generate a lot of attention last week, uh, when she announced her intention to run all of these are Republicans. All of these are folks who have supported Donald Trump, which will we'll make it tough for them to win. But the field is clear because no major Democrat has yet stepped in. And I think that's unlikely to happen. And part of that is because Gavin Newsome and his allies are making sure that everyone, uh, you know, endorses him in the recall fights against the recall. And doesn't hop in to this replacement race and give voters a democratic alternative. Gavin Newson wants to say, Hey, it's me, or, or a Donald Trump Republican. And that I think is his best chance of winning.

Speaker 4: 11:47 All right. So polling indicates that the recall election will likely fail, but I'm wondering how likely you think it is that Newsome will actually prevail.

Speaker 5: 11:56 I think right now the recall supports about 40%. I think that was even before California had continued to get better and better and its response to the pandemic. So I think if the election were held today, it would have a very low chance of passing. But if there's one thing we've learned about the last year in politics and in an American in the world, is that things can change really quickly. So we're at a fourth way, but the pandemic, if, if schools and the economy are shutting down, if we have this all occurring in the midst of a wildfire season, Gavin Newsome is going to have a lot of political obstacles to overcome.

Speaker 4: 12:27 Hmm. And I want to switch gears and talk a bit about California losing a seat in the house of representatives due to the recent census count. How did other States fair? I mean, which States were the so-called winners and losers here?

Speaker 5: 12:41 Yeah. California lost a congressional seat, although we still have the most in the nation because we grew, but we didn't grow as fast as we normally do. And as fast as some of the Sunbelt States, uh, so Texas gained two seats, uh, North Carolina, I believe Florida also gained to see Colorado. So California's growth rate was just about, add on a little bit below the national average, uh, and in the States where, or many Californians are moving to, but also that are just seeing growth be for, for a wide variety of reasons. Those are the places that as the map drawers draw, another round of redistricting, that's where those new congressional seats and the electoral college votes are going to go.

Speaker 4: 13:20 And with California losing a seat and Texas and Florida gaining a seat, what do you think the impact of that will be?

Speaker 5: 13:26 Well, this could make an impact if the congressional margins are razor thin as they are right now in the next election. So, so with both parties fighting it out for control of the house, the party, the gain seats, and what we saw, some red States, uh, gaining seats, and most importantly States where those new congressional lines will be drawn by Republicans governing the state house, those areas, gain seats, California. We've got an independent commission, uh, designing the plans. They're less likely to be gerrymandered in any way, but Democrats will be losing. And so Nancy Pelosi is not happy to see this.

Speaker 4: 14:00 And talk to me more about gerrymandering.

Speaker 5: 14:03 Gerrymandering is that is any intentional drawing of district lines, congressional or state legislative, even city council in a way that helps some group and hurts and other, right. Just about any time you draw lines, they're going to, they're going to favor some group and, and hurt another, right. There's no completely neutral way to do redistricting what California has done. And we've seen this at San Diego in the city and County level, and we've seen this in the state through, through a ballot proposition, it created a citizens or district redistricting commission is saying, Hey, let's take the process out of the hands of politicians, put it in the hands of experts or in a statewide case, normal folks. So that those draw loads lines, even if they're not completely neutral. So that they're ones where everyone has a voice in how the lines will be drawn and they're drawn in the fairest possible way.

Speaker 4: 14:47 Do you think that the census question, um, was an to, to get an under count so that gerrymandering would be,

Speaker 5: 14:55 Well, there are a few things going on there. So there was a proposed census question about citizenship that the Trump administration wanted to put in for the, for the first time, uh, in, in recent years, in recent decades in the census. And that was seen widely as a way to discourage people from answering the census, for me even opening the door, right? The census supposed to count everyone, whether or not they're here as a citizen. And that was thrown out by the courts, right? So we didn't have that census citizenship question, but there all remain a lot of questions and probably there will be lawsuits, uh, that will contest how the census was done during a pandemic, a really tough time and, and done by an administration that has not been notably friendly to immigrants. And so I think there's a lot of contention over really which States are getting the seats and whether, whether some States had their, their population under counted, that will be overseen by, uh, an independent audit by the American statistical association and potentially in the courts.

Speaker 4: 15:53 Hmm. If this holds, how will it be determined, which seat California loses, right?

Speaker 5: 15:58 Individual legislator loses their seat and jets get thrown out of office, but everyone kind of potentially dies a death by a thousand cuts of all the little changes to all the districts that will be made by this independent citizens commission. That was, you know, uh, we'll be holding meetings starting September 30th when they get the, the really micro level census data that they need to redraw maps, uh, holding public meetings across the state. I think there'll be virtual, but they could be in person by them and coming up with plans by February, all of those lines will change. And so all of the city members of Congress will need to fight hard to keep their seats, which is sort of how democracy

Speaker 4: 16:35 I've been speaking with dad. Cows are political science professor at UC San Diego and chair of the political science department. Professor cows are thank you so much for joining us,

Speaker 5: 16:44 Beth. Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 1: 16:51 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann San Diego gas and electric has announced its intention to produce power with zero carbon emissions by the year 2045, the year corresponds to California's target goal, to get 100% of its electricity from carbon zero sources. SDG Annie says their roadmap to net zero includes green hydrogen projects and increased clean energy storage capacity projects that are planned to be launched in San Diego within the next two years. But critics doubt the utilities, climate friendly goals. As long as the fossil fuel natural gas remains such a big part of its portfolio. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune, energy reporter, Rob nickel, Lasky, and Rob, welcome back. Good to be back, Maureen. First of all, is this goal of zero emissions by 2045, a departure from SDG and E's goals in the past. Haven't they been saying they've been working all along to provide cleaner energy.

Speaker 6: 17:56 Yeah, I think this is more a extension of that. They've come out with sustainability reports in the past. And the utility has touted that the fact that they used, I believe it's 40 to 45%, uh, clean energy in their system, um, more than the other utilities in California. So I think this is more an extension of what they've already had, but it's, uh, you know, the fact that it's, they, they want to get to a hundred percent net zero, I think is notable.

Speaker 1: 18:28 Why is there an emphasis on hydrogen projects? Wasn't that something that came and went in the George Bush administration?

Speaker 6: 18:36 Well, hydrogen's made a comeback first. It was in Europe a couple of years ago. You started seeing a number of energy companies, number of governments in Europe, talking about hydrogen and implementing hydrogen. And now it's finally come to the United States. Literally within the last few months, you've seen a lot more talk about it in energy circles and hydrogen is not an energy source. It's an energy carrier. And that distinction is important because what the plan is that you're going to inject hydrogen into natural gas pipelines, for example, or you're going to inject it into, um, factories that used cement, lots of places that use a lot of CO2 emissions or, or have a lot of CO2 emissions, hydrogen can help neutralize that. And so you're seeing that more and more as part of the discussion,

Speaker 1: 19:30 Where will the hydrogen projects be set up in the County?

Speaker 6: 19:33 Well, they've got to have one in Borrego Springs. There'll be a pilot project. They already have FTG already has a micro in Borrego Springs. That'll be the first one. The second one will be at the Palomar energy center in Escondido. And both of those cases are going to use what is called an electrolyzer and you take hydrogen from a fuel source. In this case, it'll be solar, excess solar that California generates a lot of during the mid day. They don't take that solar, send it through an electrolysis or electrolyzer through the electrolysis process and then convert that into energy.

Speaker 1: 20:14 Now, there are also three battery storage facilities plan to open in the County. How is SDG any planning to use them?

Speaker 6: 20:21 Well, they're going to have one called the top gun energy storage program in Miramar. They're going to have another one. Uh, these are all lithium ion battery projects, by the way, there's another one in Kearny, Mesa, and another one in Fallbrook. And what they'll be doing is they'll be, it's an extension of something that the California public utilities commission has been essentially directing the big utilities to, which is have a lot more energy storage projects in the coming years very quickly, because one of the real problems is that solar and wind, uh, production, which is clean carbon free. The problem with solar and wind is that they're intermittent when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, you're not able to generate any electricity. And that's especially problem that night because you don't have any solar. So you need fossil fuel based products like natural gas to make up that gap. If you want to try to displace natural gas, you have to have another source. And the goal that people are trying to reach is okay, energy storage, battery storage, where you can save up energy and use it during these, uh, nighttime hours or hours when the grid is at its peak, that's really the key. And that's why there's this emphasis on battery storage and energy storage in general.

Speaker 1: 21:45 Now, speaking of natural gas critics, you spoke with say SDG and E can't boast about zero emissions. When it's still in the natural gas business. Can you tell us the extent of the utilities, natural gas commitment?

Speaker 6: 22:00 Well, the utility, it's probably not surprising when you think the title of the utility is San Diego gas and electric. Yeah. They want to be able to keep their natural gas system in place. They say, uh, that, uh, natural gas is essential to what we just talked about. Um, being able to deliver a dispatchable source of energy when solar and wind are not producing and relatively low price. And so they want to keep natural gas in the system. The environmentalist wants to be able to displace natural gas as quickly as possible. And that's really sort of a larger push and pull that we've seen in the last few years in California, especially because California has this goal to drive 100% of its electricity by 2045 from carbon-free sources

Speaker 1: 22:51 And SDG and E and its parent companies, Sempra are also in the international liquid, natural gas business. Aren't they? Yeah.

Speaker 6: 23:00 Liquefied natural gas business has been booming in the United States and Sempra, even though it's based in San Diego has been jumping on this really with both feet. They've already spent $10 billion on a liquified natural gas facility in Louisiana on the Gulf coast and liquified natural gas for LNG. What they do is they take natural gas and then you super cool it to where it changes from being a gas into a liquid. And then you ship that liquified natural gas to markets all across the world. Now the defenders of liquified natural gas say liquified natural gas or natural gas in general is much cleaner than coal. What it does burn twice as clean, but on the other hand, it still is a fossil fuel. And that's where, as you mentioned, critics of this are saying that well, as long as you still have fossil fuel in your system, how can you really say that? Okay, our subsidiary STG is going net zero

Speaker 7: 24:00 Is this new net zero goal of SDG. And E's likely to cost San Diego more on their utility bills.

Speaker 6: 24:07 I think so, but that's something that's overall in California, utility bills are going up and it's not just because of one thing or another thing. It's multiple things. If you're going to make this energy transition that California is going to make, you're going to have to make these investments in energy storage. For example, lithium ion batteries right now with the amine on battery costs, they have come down, but they're still more expensive than natural gas. So with the state making these inducements, they can, these directive say, we need to explore these things. We need to exercise these, um, uh, these possibilities, these options, explore these options and make them a reality that adds on to a utility payer bill.

Speaker 7: 24:51 And I have been speaking with San Diego union Tribune energy reporter, Rob [inaudible], Rob, thank you so much. Thank you, Maureen. It can be difficult for service members to find a new purpose following their careers in the military KPBS, North County reporter, Tonya thorn, talk to a local veteran who got help from a charity, finding a way to put his talents to work. Mike Andela spent 16 years in the Marine Corps, including tours to the middle East as part of an explosive ordinance disposal unit. He suffered multiple injuries from explosives

Speaker 8: 25:32 And an IED behind me go off. It was about a hundred, 110 pounds of explosives. And, uh, it was probably about 10 yards away from that, uh, on foot. And, uh, that hurt really bad as well.

Speaker 7: 25:44 But a final concussion in 2016 is what forced Andela to go home. Eventually taking a medical retirement in 2018.

Speaker 8: 25:52 I left, uh, Kuwait and Iraq that year pretty angry, uh, pretty, just, just defeated. Uh, it's like, uh, uh, you took away, uh, you know, one of my main purposes for living

Speaker 7: 26:06 And Della had to find a new purpose for life, but didn't know where to start,

Speaker 8: 26:10 Look at you as, uh, they look at you as like being Superman, what you do, how you do it. And then when you don't have that anymore, it's tough to pull yourself out of that.

Speaker 7: 26:23 And Della's injuries gave him intense migraines and disorientation preventing him from dedicating 40 hours a week to an employer.

Speaker 8: 26:30 I was just scared of, you know, how am I going to provide for my family? Uh, because, uh, Marine Corps retirement does not, uh, it doesn't pay all the bills. So, uh, it's, uh, it's not like everybody thinks you're going to get out. You're retired. Uh, and uh, everything is going to be fine.

Speaker 7: 26:49 This situation often faced by retiring service members is what Semper fi in America's fund, uh, focuses on.

Speaker 9: 26:55 We see a lot of, a lot of veterans that are searching for something tangible, something that's purpose filled for their life and tools that they can use to help in their recovery.

Speaker 7: 27:05 Casey Fisher manages some of the apprenticeship programs that Sempra fight in America's fund offers to help service members find a Neo purpose after service. And it's what helped them. Della find a new purpose after his career in the Marine Corps.

Speaker 9: 27:18 He's incredibly gifted if you've seen any of his work, but he was looking for something he could pour that talent into that could make him a little bit of money and give him a purpose to serve the community.

Speaker 7: 27:28 That's where the idea for coastal sign company grew. It's not just a sign company. It's also a workshop. And Della operates with his wife out of their garage where customers can come in and make their own rustic crabs

Speaker 8: 27:41 Actually came up with the idea for coastal sign company. Uh, and it is it being a workshop, not just something that we sell and a, where people will come to a workshop and, you know, they start out with a pile of wood, like you see here. And they end up with, uh, you know, their very own, you know, something that they created, something that they personalize made and painted and bring it home.

Speaker 7: 28:03 The fun helped them, Della, with all of the details on forming the business, as well as some funding

Speaker 8: 28:08 Tailor your business plan around what you want and what you can, uh, what you, what you want to see your business doing

Speaker 7: 28:18 Funding for simplifying America's fund comes mainly from one-off donations and some grants. They have helped over 30,000 families nationwide their mission to support the wounded ill or injured veterans and their families and all military branches.

Speaker 9: 28:32 We have programs that range from an athletic program where you can play golf or learn how to ride a bike. We have a horse program, uh, where we try and train service members to ride horses and even get to a point where they do cattle drives just one of our greatest programs. And then the program that I'm in, where we will help veterans in navigating what it is they want to do after the military

Speaker 7: 28:52 Sempra fighting America's fund, we'll be having a virtual auction of products from the funds programs. Now through May 3rd, all proceeds will go to benefit programs, helping veterans from the fund, Tonya thorn KPBS news. This month, the president recognized April is national Arab American heritage month. It's a time where the diversity cultures and contributions of Americans from Arab countries is celebrated and acknowledged. Joining me is Alyssa Hidad lecture at university of San Diego in the school of leadership and education sciences. She recently did a workshop on middle Eastern stereotypes and sensitivities to raise awareness about her culture

Speaker 4: 29:42 And the challenges of cultural identity here in America. Professor. Hidad welcome.

Speaker 10: 29:47 Hi, thank you. It's great to be here.

Speaker 4: 29:49 It wasn't until April 19th of this year, that, uh, the first recognition on a federal level was issued, which was published as a white house letter from president Joe Biden, recognizing April as national Arab American heritage month. So what is your reaction to this?

Speaker 10: 30:05 I was very excited to hear about this, this recognition. I feel as well deserved and very timely because Americans of Arab heritage are a part of this nation and have been for a long time. And they have made significant contributions across many industries and many fields. Hmm.

Speaker 4: 30:20 What's the biggest misconception people have about the Arab American community.

Speaker 10: 30:25 There are so many misconceptions. I believe that one of, one of the misconceptions people have about the Arab American community is that assumption that all Arabs are Muslim. When in fact not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arab. Another misconception too, is the belief that Arab Americans are oppressed, which is far from the truth.

Speaker 4: 30:44 And, uh, let me ask you this. How has anti Arab sentiment and the rise of xenophobia, uh, presented challenges to the community?

Speaker 10: 30:52 It leads to a bias, both conscious and unconscious bias, and a bias does affect how people are treated and the opportunities that they receive, the professional opportunities that they get. And, um, these, these stereotypes can be very harmful. And, um, because once people act on them, they become prejudices and harmful stereotypes tend to prevent the individuals from embracing their culture and expressing themselves in an honest and a comfortable way.

Speaker 4: 31:17 When you do these workshops, is there anything that stands out to you from members in the community?

Speaker 10: 31:25 Yeah. So a lot of times, uh, people who are participating in these workshops, some of them are, um, of Arabic Arab heritage, and some of them are American. And one of the questions that they always ask is they want to know which culture is better. Is it better to be, um, someone who's from an Arab culture or to be American? And it's not really about what I say is it's not about being better, one being better or worse than the other. Um, what it really is about is understanding how our culture affects us, understanding how our culture helps us and how it hinders us and how it affects our behavior and extending that same treatment to other people. So when we're dealing with a person from another culture, understanding that if they do something differently, they're not trying to upset us or offend us. They're just coming at it from a different cultural background. And I think that understanding is the first step towards building trusting and meaningful relationships with people, especially when we're working across cultures.

Speaker 4: 32:19 It sounds like that concern is, is rooted in cultural identity. And tell, talk to me a bit about the difficulties that people from Arab countries have with their cultural identity of having come to America.

Speaker 10: 32:33 So I can speak from experience. I was born in the United States, but I did grow up in, in Lebanon. Uh, and I here when I was 17 and, uh, I've been living here since. So I think there's a lot of, um, there's a psychological toll that comes from shifting between the two different cultural identities. It's not easy. And every time you make a decision, you're trying to bring in the cultural schemas from these two seemingly competing identities. And there's also stress that stems from, uh, the existential questions of, of questioning of who, who am I, am I 11 years? Am I American? Am I both? And how do I integrate both and make decisions considering both cultural schemas?

Speaker 4: 33:11 Hmm. Uh, one of the reasons Arab American history month is so important is because it provides an opportunity to really celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of Arab Americans. And what ways do you think America has overlooked or ignored those contributions? And so

Speaker 10: 33:27 That's a great question. So I think what we see in the media is very powerful. Uh, we, as human beings are, uh, highly impacted by availability, bias and recency bias. So what we see in the news, what we read about what we hear about is what we end up paying attention to. So what, we're not heat when we're not hearing about these contributions and these stories, they're not receiving the recognition they deserve.

Speaker 4: 33:46 And tell me a bit about the contributions of Arab Americans.

Speaker 10: 33:50 So Arab Americans have made contributions in many industries. Um, a couple of there are a couple of examples I could share here, even though there's many, many more, um, Tony Shalhoub for example, is a three time. I mean, award-winning TV actor, uh, Hoda could be who was an Egyptian American and is a very famous, uh, TV anchor, uh, the Marketo who is a famous clothing designer and a scene thought of who is a Lebanese American scholar, instead of physician has written famous books about uncertainty and probability. Um, one of his books, the blocks Swan is very famous and, um, his, his son is the president of Northeastern university. Um, and lastly, Phillip Satan was an ecologist and a researcher here in the United States. So this is again, just to capture a few, there are many more and many more contributions that Arab Americans have made.

Speaker 4: 34:37 I've also heard the word most say related to, to the month. In what ways does, does that word kind of resonate with you?

Speaker 10: 34:46 That's a, that's a very powerful metaphor. I think when I think of something that's mosaic, I think of, uh, a lot of different pieces that come together to create something beautiful and each and every piece is unique. And that's how I, uh, that's what I think of when I think of, uh, Arab, uh, Arab countries. They're, they're all unique. And then when they come together, they form something really beautiful.

Speaker 4: 35:06 I've been speaking with Alyssa Hidad lecture at university of San Diego in the school of leadership and education sciences professor Hidad. Thank you.

Speaker 10: 35:15 Thank you.

Speaker 4: 35:27 This is KPBS day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade. Heinemann the KPB podcast, the Parker Edison project zooms weigh in on what really makes a culture

Speaker 1: 35:38 All through the lens of black America. In the latest episode, host Parker Edison speaks to radio pioneer, Dr. William to Yachty Howard, about how racism and hiring forced black DJs to be creative, to get their voices on the radio in San Diego.

Speaker 11: 36:01 The theme of this episode is currency. My first guest is Dr. William Tati, Howard. I need you to really listen in on what he's saying, because he's bringing out gyms slow down a bit, examine them with us, pay attention to how the money moves in the tail he's telling. And also see if you can recognize a currency more valuable than money. I don't want to waste another minute. Let's get right into it.

Speaker 12: 36:25 It's an absolute honor to have you on. Thank you for having me. My first question, because I don't know what it's like. What's it like to have your own holiday in the city? It's not really a holiday and it certainly isn't a paid holiday. It is a proclamation that declares the 2nd of February one day after my birthday, as the official Dr. William Ty Yachty Howard day. That's what it's officially called on the proclamation. The city is very good at doing that, and I'm glad that they acknowledged people before they die. So I have to give a city council woman on the fourth district, Monica Montgomery credit for that also kudos to the city council members that had signed the proclamation and our newly elected mayor. Todd Gloria. You also received a, an award from former president Obama, correct? President Barack Obama acknowledged ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things.

Speaker 12: 37:19 And, uh, at the time I ended up 166,000 community service hours since 1981. We'll kind of, uh, what kind of, what kind of works burn a man, his own holiday. I was arrested and put in jail for breaking women's hearts over the radio. Let me say that again. I was arrested and put in jail for breaking women's hearts over the radio. Back then I had a program. It was the number one nighttime rated show in San Diego County called music for lows. It was all balanced. It was patented. Similarly, similarly to the, uh, quiet storm, which was founded about how a university. So I had a show that ran here for over 10 years at SHRM 92.5 called music for lovers. And it was all balanced basically. So they are, they came to the radio station. Police officers kind of served a warrant for my arrest, put me in handcuffs, Joe, me downtown, where an African-American Jewish, uh, met me there. And he says, Taya, it's good to see you. Not under these circumstances. You've been, you've been found guilty of breaking women's hearts over the radio. And you'll bail is set at $1,000. You have three hours to raise the money, or you'll have to do your show in jail tonight. So I did raise the money successfully. All money went to the heart association and the same was called cardiac arrest. And this is what's kept me visible for 50 years in San Diego County, predominately raising money for all types of charitable events.

Speaker 12: 38:49 I spent 19 years at SHRM, 92.5 crossing the border going on a year because they went an hour in black announcements over here in San Diego County. And I did that for 10 years straight while working 25 years at San Diego gas and electric, then I transitioned to X, H T Z, which is jammies nit. Anything about next call that by the way, is a Mexican station.

Speaker 11: 39:10 Pause. Another form of currency is skin color and being without back currency can stifle a person's progress. In the 1980s, black DJs would record their show on 10 inch reels in the back room of black owned record stores. And the station would pay a Mexican courier to pick up the tapes and bring them to stations to be played. Let's sidestep. The fact that the stations were paying extra money to couriers, to keep black DJs out of the station. Let's skip that entirely and just point out that this is radio. That means even in a medium where your unseen color is still an issue.

Speaker 12: 39:43 When Dr. William all took over the station in 1980, he said, I want all of our radio personalities to go live in Mexico. And that's a whole nother child just sitting in a foreign country, broadcasting off 50,000 watt transmitter FM, which travels all the way up to mission mission VA, health, California. That won't be up real quick. I have a platform. I have an audience. I have some, one of the best music shells in the country right here in a foreign country. And from that off, from that point on, I was driving the Bentley instead of Volkswagen, Dr. Morrow took over 92.5 in 1980, 1980. And I was one of the first people. He called to be on the air because he used to cut my hair. Um, and then I joined jams 90 in 1990 and stayed there for four years, 1990 to 1984.

Speaker 12: 40:38 Then I transitioned in 1995 over to KFM smooth jazz, 98.1 and stayed there for 16 years up until 2011. I mean, this is history. This is the untold history of some of the things that people have even forgotten, or don't really know about what we did or what Dr. Morrow did in an effort to introduce radio and broadcasting to the black and Brown audience in San Diego and keep it going. He wasn't the founder rugby because before him, there was several other African-Americans that brought black music to San Diego. It was a Travis downs and his wife, uh, they ran a series of several record stores here in San Diego called on target records. And they made a deal with the Mexican government to broadcast over XH Shom. And that's where we first got started. So there was people African-American background that were very concerned about having a voice.

Speaker 12: 41:40 And that's really the key message here. Having a voice without the opportunity to showcase our voice. We are nothing without the opportunity to mentor. We are nothing. Let me backtrack just a few points to make sure that I have an understanding of this. If you name dropped a couple of people who were starting radio stations earlier, you mentioned a married couple. Yes, Gloria and Travis downs, who ran on target record stores with that radio station. Wasn't that just a, a mom and pop deal, or was that a big money corporate thing? It was a mom pop deal that transcended into a huge deal. Vane negotiated that deal long before NAFTA, North American free trade agreement. So these are African-Americans that are going across the border, recognizing that there are Mexican men and women who would like to do business with America. And this is how they did business.

Speaker 12: 42:37 Like essentially this is a regular couple that made this deal and then corporations would follow suit. Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. They had a mom and pop record store similar to tower records, warehouse records, liquids records, but their stores are smaller. I had enough vision to understand that they could transcend and compete by getting on the radio. Now they can play what they need to play in terms of black music to promote it and sell it and push it through the white record stores. Does that make sense? Mind blown by the time wanting mom back tomorrow came into it in 1980, he simply took what he had already learned and then expanded out it, it was a self-made millionaire. So he was able to put two, $3 million in two gifts upfront, and that exploded 92.5 into a conglomerate of itself. Then he combined it with this newspaper called the San Diego monitor news.

Speaker 12: 43:39 So now he has a newspaper black, new black newspaper, and he has a black radio station, 50,000 Watts, which was unheard of at that time broadcasting almost all the way up to Los Angeles. We were able to really step into the market, control the market, take over the market. And we had no competition because we were playing black music while everybody else was playing separate types of music. And we forced San Diego's, other 25 30 stations at the time to start playing black music as a result from the fact that we had cornered the market with that breed for a second, man, these people are pioneers and the currency was music and culture, and they used it to get a seat at the table. And on the airwaves,

Speaker 1: 44:22 That was Parker Edison speaking to San Diego radio pioneer, Dr. William to Yachty Howard, to hear the rest of his interview and a conversation with musical guests, see knowledge, AKA Doodlebug talking about his new project, download the latest episode of the Parker Edison project, wherever you listen to podcasts.

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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.