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Some Separated Migrants Family To Be United

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PHOTO BY DREW ANGERER GETTY IMAGES

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that reuniting families was a "moral imperative" for the Biden administration.

The Biden administration says hundreds of migrant children still separated from their parents under Trump will be allowed to reunite with their families in the U.S. — and the families may have the opportunity to stay. Plus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders have announced a plan to get students back in classrooms in the nation's most populous state. Also, California is spending more than $200 million to stabilize habitat along the banks of the Salton Sea and to keep an unfolding ecological crisis from getting worse. In addition, climate activists want San Diego to follow the lead of other cities and ban the use of natural gas in new construction. And, pandemic restrictions have cut off prison visits from loved ones so letters from home provide a lifeline to inmates. Finally, “Spittin Truth to Power While Light Leaping for the People” was released during Black History Month but its message is timeless.

Speaker 1: 00:01 A new proposal to reunite families separated at the border.

Speaker 2: 00:04 Some of these children, two or three years old, having seen their parents more than half their life for almost their entire life.

Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman. This is KPBS midday edition.

Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:25 A big incentive package is proposed for California school. Reopenings

Speaker 2: 00:29 Districts need to reopen transitional kindergarten through second grade classrooms by April 1st to get their share of that money.

Speaker 1: 00:37 Climate advocates urge San Diego to move away from natural gas. And we'll hear about the latest digital without walls presentation at LA Jolla Playhouse. That's ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 1: 01:00 About 500 children separated from their parents at the U S Mexico border. Under the Trump administration have still not been reunited with their families as part of a task force plan to find and reunite families. The U S announced this week that a lawful pathway is being considered to allow those parents to reunite and stay with their children in the U S department of Homeland security. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the administration is also working with central American nations to help find the parents may. Arcus also urge patients as the Biden administration works to restore an immigration system that he says has been badly dismantled. During the Trump years, joining me is legal learned. He is deputy director of the ACL immigrants rights project, and Lee, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Can you remind us why it's so difficult to find the parents of these children?

Speaker 2: 01:54 The Trump administration did not give us the full list of parents till very, very late in the litigation. And then once they gave us the list of names, they failed to disclose contact information, phone numbers addresses until very, very recently toward the end of the Trump administration, beyond that it is difficult and dangerous to search for families. If we don't have phone numbers, COVID has made it even more difficult. And so these remaining 500 families that we haven't found are ones where we do not have working phone numbers for the families and have to undergo searches on the ground. But one thing that I think is critical for people to understand is there are many more families than 500, but remain separated the 500 or just the families that we have not yet been able to locate. We have located hundreds and hundreds of other families who we are in contact with, but remain separated because the Trump administration gave them only two brutal choices.

Speaker 2: 02:57 Stay separated from your, or bring your child back to the very danger from which they fled. Many parents understandably chose not to bring their child back because it was essentially a death sentence for the child. So we are looking for the Biden administration, not only to help us find the remaining 500, but to reunite all of the families that were separated by the Trump administration. Those we have already found, and those we hopeful find fairly soon, but at the end of the day, Trump administration separated more than 5,500 children, many just babies and toddlers. So there's a lot of work to be done beyond just fighting the last 500.

Speaker 1: 03:38 What has been the protocol for reuniting families until now can't those families stay in the U S

Speaker 2: 03:44 So the families where the, both the parent and child were in the U S have largely been reunited. The problem is that the Trump administration deported hundreds and hundreds of parents without their children. And so not only if we had to locate the parent, usually in central America and locate the child in the U S but then we needed to get them reunited. Trump administration would not allow them to be reunited in the United States through a court order. We have gotten some of the parents back to the United States, but that has been the process up until now is going through the court, which is, can be a slow process and a difficult one. What we are hoping is that the byte administration now creates a streamlined process to allow the parents to return to the United States, to be with their children. That's what we believe these parents and children are owed. You know, what medical groups have said is this was straight out child abuse by the United States government, the least we can do now is allow them to reunify and safety in the United States, give them permanent status and give them some restitution. When we are talking about it in president Biden's words, a real moral and national state, and I've been doing this work nearly 30 years, and I've never seen anything that re remotely comes to this level of, of horror

Speaker 1: 05:08 Secretary. Mayorkas made a point in urging patients as the Biden administration tries to reconstitute a workable immigration system. Would you agree that much of that system was dismantled under the Trump administration?

Speaker 2: 05:22 We would, but I think there's a difference between getting the system up and running and delaying indefinitely. But I wanna, I want make, uh, one introductory point about this is that the family separation issue can be tackled immediately. The parents, the 5,500 parents who are separated, can be dealt with distinctly and immediately. Um, and I don't think actually, secretary my orcas was talking about the family separation practice. When he said that we need time to build up the asylum system. I think he was talking about allowing new people in at the border. And so we are sympathetic to what the Biden ministration faces, given how the Trump administration dismantled the asylum system. But we do think they can be doing more right now and doing it quicker. So while we, you know, we are sympathetic, we do want to see concrete action. And I think at some point advocates on the ground will lose patience with two slower process.

Speaker 1: 06:24 So what are the next steps in getting the rest of the children reunited with their families?

Speaker 2: 06:28 There's two steps. One is that we need to continue to find these families. And that's been done by the HCLU and a steering committee and other groups through the missile litigation, the ACLU brought. Um, and then the other part is for the families that we have found immediately getting their names to the Biden administration task force, to have them be given permission, to come back to the United States, to reunite with their children and some of these children, two or three years old, haven't seen their parents in years, you know, more than half their life for almost their entire life. And so to immediately get those parents back. So we will be giving the byte administration the names of families that have been separated. We have already found and hope that they give those families immediate permission to return. Once here, we expect them not to be deported and for a pathway to permanent permanent status, um, be explored.

Speaker 2: 07:24 And hopefully that can be done as well as restitution. The families need basic necessities. They also critically need trauma care help. I mean, these are children that are, are, have been traumatized so severely, perhaps permanent what the medical community says somewhat. Some of the trauma has been so severe that likely their brain structure has literally changed. So we'll be looking for full relief for those families and, you know, feeding the names of those families that we have found immediately to the Biden ministration. But at the same time, we need to continue looking for the remaining 500.

Speaker 1: 07:58 I've been speaking with legal learn deputy director of the ASLU immigrants rights project. And Lee, thank you very much.

Speaker 2: 08:06 Thank you for having me. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 08:16 A new state school reopening plan sets April 1st as the target for school districts across the state to get their full share of special reopening funds. The deal struck by governor Newsome and state legislators would allocate more than $6 billion for school safety measures and to address pandemic learning loss. Several school districts in San Diego have already announced reopening plans for this month. And even though the County has the largest districts at April 12th as its reopening date, San Diego unified still expects to get most of its fair share. Joining me as KPBS education reporter Joe hung. Joe, welcome. Thanks for having me, Joe, can you explain what school districts need to do to get the full amount of the proposed reopening funds?

Speaker 3: 09:01 Right. So first off there's $2 billion in incentives available where districts need to reopen transitional kindergarten through second grade classrooms by April 1st to get their share of that money. Now, the districts County needs to be below 25 daily cases per a hundred thousand residents, but most counties will meet that Mark.

Speaker 1: 09:22 And what can the additional $4 billion of these funds be used for

Speaker 3: 09:26 Districts will sort of have flexibility in how they spend that money. It can be used on everything from, uh, more personal protective equipment to investing in, in an extended school year. So, uh, school districts can provide summer school for all students and they can also invest in things like mental health services, really, uh, anything that they feel like their students need.

Speaker 1: 09:50 This plan is offering what it calls incentives for schools to reopen, not mandates. How does governor Newsome describe it?

Speaker 3: 09:59 Yeah, so, uh, governor Newsome is hoping that as, as more districts start to reopen for in-person, um, the public education system across the state will sort of develop a rhythm and get more comfortable with being back in the classroom. And here's what he said yesterday.

Speaker 4: 10:16 Dip your toe in. Once you build a cohort confidently, once you build trust, then we will start to see a cadence of reopening across the spectrum. But again, on the basis of building confidence and trust

Speaker 1: 10:30 San Diego unified, it has already announced its reopening target in April. So is our largest district gonna lose out?

Speaker 3: 10:38 I don't think so. Um, I spoke with school board, president Richard Barrar yesterday and he told me the district is going to make the case that the district should get the full amount it's entitled to. Right now, the district is planning on welcoming students back on April 12th with teachers coming back a week earlier on April 5th. But because the week before that is spring break, um, Berrera says the district is essentially meeting the state's timeline. Here's what he told me yesterday.

Speaker 5: 11:04 It allows us, uh, right after spring break, uh, to have a week where the staff is on campus preparing and getting trained in all the mitigation strategies that are necessary to keep everybody safe.

Speaker 3: 11:18 And San Diego unified is the second largest district in the state. And so it could get a significant amount from these incentives, uh, from the $2 billion the district could get between 25 and $30 million. And on top of that, uh, from the additional $4.6 billion, uh, San Diego unified could get a total of up to a hundred million dollars of additional funding. Total.

Speaker 1: 11:41 What about some of the other districts around the County?

Speaker 3: 11:44 Yeah, so we, we kind of have a mixed bag in San Diego County. We have South Bay union, uh, which announced that it will remain closed for the rest of the school while we have, uh, districts in the, in the North County, like San Dieguito union high, which plans to reopen on March 8th and, uh, Poway unified plans to reopen middle and high schools on March 15th.

Speaker 1: 12:05 And, uh, when it comes to San Diego unified, there is a further complication in the reopening plans. Isn't there. What about the commitment to get teachers and staff vaccinated?

Speaker 3: 12:15 Right. So in the agreement between the union and the school district, um, like you said, it does require that teachers are vaccinated before they returned. But, um, after talking to teacher union leaders and district officials, it seems like April 12th is a very realistic date. As long as vaccinations sort of continue to go smoothly.

Speaker 1: 12:36 Now this state fund incentive only targets transitional kindergarten through second grade. When are the higher grades and high schools expected to reopen

Speaker 3: 12:46 That is still unclear. There's no real sort of blanket guidelines from the state. As of now. Um, there are some caveats in the, uh, $2 billion of funds where districts that are already sort of in the red tier have to reopen at least one grade in middle and high school to get that funding. But besides that, there's, there's nothing statewide yet.

Speaker 1: 13:09 Okay. Then I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Thank you. Thank you, Maureen. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann California is spending more than $200 million to stabilize habitat along the Southern edge of the salt and sea in Imperial County. It is good news for residents concerned about their health, but the restoration. It could also impact lots of people who draw water from the Colorado river KPBS reporter. Eric Anderson has the story.

Speaker 6: 13:59 Tom Anderson walked across a dry patch of salty flat land just five years ago. Fish and wildlife service project manager was showing off an area on the Eastern edge of California's largest Lake, the dragged, his black work boot across the crusty surface, turning it into, find us to really find stuff that comes up on a windy day. Just billowing clouds of that fine material off of the player. The Lake was shrinking even then because Imperial County water managers sold some of their Colorado river water to San Diego. The pace of the lakes retreat jumped dramatically a few years ago and now thousands of acres of Lake bed are exposed to the desert winds. Wade Crowfoot is California's natural resources secretary. He says the state is finally ready to help

Speaker 2: 14:57 The notion of this shrinking fee. And the myth of, um, dust from the feedback is really alarming and concerning to local than

Speaker 6: 15:05 California is spending money to cover 4,000 acres of exposed Lake bed with shallow water and habitat. It's the first of many projects on the Southern edge of the Lake that could end up costing billions of dollars.

Speaker 2: 15:19 It's a long time in coming. There's a real impatience of residents in Imperial and Riverside counties about restoration stabilization of the state.

Speaker 6: 15:29 California agreed to take on the salt and sea restoration when Colorado river users and the federal government signed the quantification settlement agreement back in 2003, that deal cleared the way for the Imperial County to sell its water to urban areas like San Diego. It also cut the flow of water into the thirsty desert Lake, exposing thousands of acres of dusty Lake bed.

Speaker 2: 15:53 Every time we're being billing back. Every inch of that Bligh were exposed in over a hundred years of contaminated sediment.

Speaker 6: 16:02 Luis Olmedo has worked for years to draw attention to the valleys, dirty air,

Speaker 2: 16:07 The entire air basin, uh, from Coachella Imperial Mexicali, uh, we all share the air. We failed to meet federal standards,

Speaker 6: 16:15 Farms, trucks, cross border factories, all combined to heighten the public health.

Speaker 2: 16:21 Is it because we're over 85% Latinos, people of color living in poverty that we're not worth that investment, you know, and here now we have the song, see, you know, to add insult to injury,

Speaker 6: 16:35 Palmetto welcomes any project that improves air quality.

Speaker 2: 16:38 And that's what this delivers, you know, but it's, it's just one little tiny project to this massively drying area. Since the QSA was signed, some 24,000 acres of Playa had been exposed.

Speaker 6: 16:52 Michael Cohen studies, Western water issues at the Pacific Institute,

Speaker 2: 16:57 Objections are, it could be another 40 to 60,000 acres, not accounting for the water use by the projects themselves. Some projections suggest it could be a hundred thousand acres of Lake that could be exposed.

Speaker 6: 17:08 The public health threat adds urgency. So does the Lake's unique role in Western water politics? The Imperial irrigation district has senior water rights to about 20% of the Colorado rivers flow. And Cohen says the IID managers hope to leverage that power to funnel money into the Salton sea restoration efforts. But that raises questions

Speaker 2: 17:32 Should the people in the birds, uh, people in the environment suffer to deliver additional water to, uh, people on the coast of California,

Speaker 6: 17:41 Colorado river basin is in a nearly two decades long drought. The dry spell is the worst drought on record and indicate it may be the driest period. The basin is endured in more than a thousand years. The real driver now is climate change. The reduced flows also put extra pressure on California officials trying to keep the salt and sea from becoming a public health disaster. Eric Anderson KPBS news

Speaker 5: 18:14 San Diego is looking at a plan to meet climate goals by proposing a train station and high speed rail to cut fossil fuels with fewer cars on the roads. Activists say that moves us forward, but not far enough. Most homes still rely on natural gas and the San Diego union Tribune reporter Joshua Emerson Smith reports. While many cities in California have actually restricted the use of natural gas in new construction. San Diego has not Josh welcome. Good to be here. First, let's talk about how impactful natural gas is to how we live and the environment it heats. Many of our homes powers the water heater and our stoves. How does that contribute to climate change?

Speaker 7: 18:56 Well, burning natural gas is a greenhouse gas. Uh, it's less impactful than say coal. And so there's lots of talk about trying to replace dirty or fossil fuels with natural gas or there has been over the last decade or so, although recently, it's come to light that a lot of methane emissions leak from the procuring of natural gas, either from fracking sites or through the transportation. And we know that methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas in and of itself.

Speaker 5: 19:32 And speaking of that, how much he missions actually come from using natural gas to power our homes?

Speaker 7: 19:38 Yeah. So in, in California, it's about 10 to 12% of our carbon footprint comes from homes, uh, either residential or commercial buildings.

Speaker 5: 19:50 Mm. And all of that contributes to climate change while San Diego has been seen as you know, ahead of the curve and responding to that activists say the city hasn't addressed the natural gas issue. Other areas though have done so with restrictions, what can you tell me about that?

Speaker 7: 20:06 So there's thinking there's a thinking going on that we're going to have to retrofit a lot of the homes that currently rely on gas, which are about 80% of all homes in California. And so if we're going to build more homes, why hook them up to natural gas, if we're going to have to electrify them anyway in the future, goes to the thinking. And so some cities have taken it upon themselves to ban the use of natural gas in new home and commercial construction.

Speaker 5: 20:38 So practically speaking, that means new homes need to switch over to electrical appliances, right?

Speaker 7: 20:43 Eventually, uh, that's seems to be the state is going, uh, right now the state is trying to figure out how to just incentivize the use of electric appliances, like electric heat pumps for space and water heating and induction cooktop stoves, uh, to replace the old gas stoves. And it looks like the California energy commission is going to be revising its building efficiency standards in the next couple of, uh, weeks or months. And as part of that, we're expected to see incentives for moving towards more electric homes. However, not an outright ban. That's why some cities have said they've got to move faster than the state is moving.

Speaker 5: 21:30 So tell me about the politics that are at play here. What have local activists said about this issue?

Speaker 7: 21:35 Well, that really is one of the most interesting things here because the activists have long wanted a so-called transit oriented development. That's this super dense infill development where we put, um, four, five story buildings in urban areas next to transit to try to get people to take the trolley or whatever envisioned high-speed rail system we may have in the future over driving. And so they say, okay, if we're, if we're going to do this for the environment, how can natural gas play a part in that? Right. Especially if we're going to go have to go in and rip this stuff out later, why not just make sure everything gets hooked up to the electricity grid for this new greener future. And that's really where we're seeing this, this kind of cleave between the, the politicians and the environmentalists going forward. So it'll be very interesting to see as they move forward with their high speed rail slash development plans, whether or not they continue to have the support of the, of the green groups in San Diego.

Speaker 5: 22:48 Let me ask you this. If we move in that direction, how reliable is electricity though? I mean, at times utility companies rely on rolling blackouts to prevent wildfires because they can't bury their lines.

Speaker 7: 23:00 Right. And, but we have to remember that delivering gas also takes electricity. So just because you have a blackout doesn't necessarily mean that your gas is always going to work. There is this question though, about, as we heap more and more things on the electrical grid from gas stoves, turning electric to vehicles, right? Gas powered vehicles, becoming electric, uh, will the grid be able to handle that? And that's kind of the conversation that we're having right now, especially in the wake of what we saw in Texas, where so many of the power plants were not able to deliver energy during a recent snow storm. The question becomes how do we really our electrical grid to prepare for this new future

Speaker 5: 23:49 And how have companies that provide natural gas like SDG and E responded to attempts to ban natural gas in new construction?

Speaker 7: 23:56 Well, SDG and E has, hasn't really had a big, uh, role in this Southern Southern California gas has been the one that's really launched the aggressive campaign to try to prevent the city by city bans,

Speaker 5: 24:11 Gas companies have also tried to green up their product, so to speak, how have they done that?

Speaker 7: 24:16 Well, this is what all, all the gas companies are doing now. And that's why you'll hear jargon like decarbonized molecules, because really the issue is they have billions and billions of dollars. I mean, we all do to a certain extent, right? We all kind of own this as a society, billions and billions of dollars in, in gas pipelines under the ground. And so these companies are trying to figure out what are they going to do with all that infrastructure going forward in a world where natural gas, um, may is increasingly restricted. And so they're experimenting with things, uh, like adding hydrogen to the mix, to try to green it up, um, using bio gas or renewable natural gas, where they capture they, um, emissions that come off of decomposing organic material. Although we don't really know what the product will be from the gas companies going forward. There's a lot of things that they're floating right now as kind of greener versions of natural gas.

Speaker 5: 25:22 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, Joshua. Thank you.

Speaker 7: 25:27 You're welcome. There's been great to be here.

Speaker 5: 25:35 Governor Gavin Newsome announced an initiative last week to get more central Valley farm workers vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of his plan to make distribution more equitable. Farm workers are showing interest in getting the vaccine, but they say information about how to get it as scarce Valley public radio reporter, Maddie Bolanos has the story.

Speaker 8: 25:59 [inaudible] walks between those of grapevines in the Madera County vineyard. Who's handing out small Ziploc bags to farm workers filled with pants, sanitizers masks, and information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Theano works with central venous unit, a community organization that assists those who speak indigenous languages like mystical. And he brought that call, you know, hands, a bag to Bernardino cruise, cruise stops, trimming the vines and turns to speak with him, asks Cruz a series of questions, his name, his age, what languages he speaks his work going well, finally, he asks Cruz if is interested in getting the vaccine.

Speaker 9: 26:48 Well, I think yes, because, well, thank God I haven't gotten COVID. So yeah,

Speaker 8: 26:52 Cruz says it's his first time being approached about the vaccine. So he's not sure what the process entails. So Latinos says many farm workers don't know what to expect.

Speaker 9: 27:04 And that's why we also ask if they're open to attending a meeting where we can also have a specialist talk to them and give them the assurance, they need it.

Speaker 8: 27:12 He says meetings like that are especially important for those who have encountered misinformation from their social circles, social media, and even certain news sites.

Speaker 9: 27:23 Come on. I got a lot of negative stuff. Like they say, the vaccine has a chip, but also that the vaccine kills people. That's why they're afraid to take it

Speaker 8: 27:32 Still. Madeline Harris with the leadership council for justice and accountability says her organization has seen high levels of interest in getting the vaccine among farm workers. But she's concerned that local health departments often send out notices about vaccine appointments online or via automated text.

Speaker 9: 27:50 It shouldn't be the system for getting folks vaccinated

Speaker 8: 27:55 Because farm workers live in rural areas with poor internet access. She says, and spots fill up in minutes. When governor Newsome stopped in Madera to speak with the leadership council and central will be Nassar, not last week. Harris says they told him it's crucial for the state and County to partner with community organizations. Harris also says vaccine distributors should refrain from requiring pay stubs because many farm workers are undocumented and paid in cash. Back in Madera, farm worker, undressed, Ramirez, swiftly clips, the tiny branches off of great vines. He pauses to talk about how he, his wife and his three children contracted COVID in late December.

Speaker 9: 28:39 You get all of us. And we all came out of it around the same time, except for my wife. He's doing not doing well.

Speaker 8: 28:45 He says she still struggles to catch her breath still. He says he doesn't want to risk getting COVID again. So he's interested in taking the vaccine, despite what he's heard from his community.

Speaker 9: 28:59 A lot of people say it's not good for a lot of people getting it in and not dying. It looks like if it's working

Speaker 8: 29:06 Like others, he says, he's not sure where to go to get the vaccine. I'm Marty Bolanos in Fresno,

Speaker 5: 29:18 Adam Chan and Edmund Richardson met while they were incarcerated at San Quentin state prison. About two years ago, they've been best friends ever since Adamou was released last fall. And they've kept in touch by writing letters to each other. Here's more on the deep connection these men share in an excerpt of the K a L w public media podcast. Uncuffed.

Speaker 9: 29:42 I got a letter from my main admin CSP, San Quentin, San Quentin, California, nine four nine, six four. Yeah, that's familiar. I remember, um, addressing my envelopes like that. Yeah, this is exciting. I don't get a lot of letters from the inside. And let me go ahead and open this up. Uh, Damo. I hope this letter finds you surrounded by your loved ones,

Speaker 10: 30:12 The appreciation for your freedom, how you doing. It's been like for you, man. When I got the news that you would be going home, a flood of emotion, but it was, I was excited and said the bit of sweetness of the moment, realizing that the man who, so I fell in love with over the last couple of years will no longer be near me on the way to the world alone. But with you, everything was bearable. I am truly happy. You're home where you belong. And for myself, I'm doing good. I mean, every day that I wake up as a blessing, you know, I have no complaints. That's a lie. It's been nine months or some change. And I still can't stand this modified program. And 23 hour lock down and add insult to injury. After recovering from COVID-19, I hadn't been assigned. I want you to call a long Harlem, you know, separate from the after effects of the virus around three months ago, I started to have hard-copy Jason's pressure on my lungs and my short term memory was gone and I'll give them one thing that I hate the most is that I can't sleep.

Speaker 10: 31:18 I think it's totally unrelated to, COVID more of a condition and circumstance thing. Anyway, the doctor diagnosed me with mild depression, prescribed me three milligrams of melatonin and referred me to mental health. I still can't sleep. I know you suggested I see a therapist a long time ago, and honestly, I should have taken your advice. You never, you never think something like this can happen until it does. It's been a minute since I heard his voice on. When we talk over the phone, it's awkward, awkward, because my body, my sense is especially for you, but you're not there. I prefer Nate in someone's presence. When I speak to them, I miss the sound of your last, I missed how you would get mad at me for stepping on your suit, because I was always randomly trying to hook you. I miss seeing you in the morning. I remember you made some sushi and put too much with Sabi and I can almost drive. Let me be clear. Spicy is not the same as lighter fluid. Be licking your nostrils. I have memories like this one that are kind of set reminder of how much I value our relationship and how much I miss you. I love you your best friend Edmond.

Speaker 10: 32:39 All right. So

Speaker 9: 32:41 I'm going to respond to Edman. It's it's his birthday. Um, it's, it's been a difficult process for me because I know how much a birthday means. And I know that it's a celebration that should be shared with, uh, family and loved ones. You know, I hope that, uh, admin was able to celebrate in the right way. And so I wanted to express that in this letter, I hope doing as well as possible, despite the circumstances, it's your birthday today. And I'm thinking about you intensely wondering how you're feeling, what you're eating, who you're with. And if you're laughing a deep, joyful laugh that comes from deep down in a place untouched by the prison, maybe I'm an idealist, but it feels like a radical act to celebrate your birthday in prison, to reclaim that part of yourself that is beyond any conception of a cage made for a human being. My hope is that today your joy doesn't feel contained by the walls that surround you or the judgements of those who don't know you because they've been taught not to see, but I know that's a tall task.

Speaker 9: 33:56 And I know that the most difficult thing to overcome is this realization that the prison has gotten inside of us, that it has built walls between parts of ourselves imprisoned our most precious gifts and obstructed the vision of our true purpose. It is something that I struggle with out here in the quote unquote free world, where I see shadows of the prison everywhere in this new Bay area that I've entered the Bay area. And I'm sure this is true of our urban spaces across the U S is a place where every home, every business has a black lives matter sign, but I don't see many black people in the Bay area anymore. And the ones that I do are either dirty unhoused with visible mental health issues, or they're the respectable black folk that don't appear angry or play their music too loud. Maybe they're wearing a Salesforce sweatshirt.

Speaker 9: 34:49 I think I just want it to make the point that the relationship that we built our friendship has been key to disrupting all of this. It is where I'm able to be my truest self, where I learned the practice of accountability and Karen relationships, where through our creative projects, I could see a future where we were successful creative partners, where together, we played a part in creating a vibrant arts and academic community on the inside. But most importantly, our relationship allowed me to see beyond the walls that blocked our view of the ocean and horizon to see myself outside. I love you, brother. You don't even know. Thank you for sharing all of your precious stories with me,

Speaker 7: 35:38 Even though, even though I know you only gain the power of storytelling through suffering, I'm happy that you're finding ways to care for yourself in spite of such dire circumstances. And in the absence of much direct support, know that you are always here with me and I am always there and I will do everything in my power to see your home sooner than you think. Happy born day Edmond. I love you. A Damo PSI ordered the book you asked for. And another, I thought you might like you're turning out to be quite the bookworm.

Speaker 5: 36:17 That was Adam Chan and Edmond Richardson who met while they were incarcerated at San Quentin state prison. They were speaking as part of the K a L w public media podcast, uncuffed Adam, who Chan helped produce that episode. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen kavanah LA Jolla Playhouse continues to release new digital without walls shows online since live performances are still not allowed. It's latest spitting truth to power while light leaping for the people was released during black history month. But its message is timeless came PBS arts reporter Beth Armando Amando speaks with Jacola kitchen. One of the producers from the LA Jolla Playhouse about what to expect from this free three part series. Nicole, tell me what spitting truth to power is and what it's

Speaker 11: 37:13 Regions, where the full title is spitting truth to power while light leaping for the people. And it's a three-part intergenerational musical poem. That is the union, the yang that is the ancient and the new, the male and the female. It is an intergenerational piece that was created by two artists, Elise Smith Cooper, who was an octogenarian and Shammie D who is a millennial, uh, both are storytellers Elise, generally through words, Shammie D through music.

Speaker 12: 37:45 We, that people of, Oh, cries, we marched sweet arm. We ended up flat out ignorant envy of who we are and what we stand on. Spirits ignites creativity, we

Speaker 11: 38:02 To digital content about a year ago, last March, when everything shut down, we were very fortunate to immediately be able to shift to this digital world with having done the without walls festival for so many years. And that being a staple of what we do here at the Playhouse, we were able to reach out to many artists who are used to working outside of the walls, the confines of the theater and say, what are you thinking? But like we do with everything, uh, that we produce at LA Jolla Playhouse, we went to a community group, the Playhouse leadership council that is a group of community advocates who love theater and love the Playhouse and help us expand, who thinks of the playhouses home. Elise Smith Cooper is a longtime member of PLC. And we went to this group and we said, this is what we're producing. This is what we're doing for this digital world what's missing. And Elise said, one of the things that's missing is the intergenerational connection. What the old can learn from the young, what the young can learn from the old were in this place where it's the battle between the millennials and the baby boomers and gen Xers are just somewhere in between, but it's, it's the time for us to be able to listen to each other and learn from one another because our experiences aren't that different.

Speaker 13: 39:17 Now I understand this is done kind of in the tradition of grios, but what does that mean? What is that? It's a Western African tradition of storytelling, but what does it mean

Speaker 11: 39:28 Exactly that it's a West African tradition of storytelling, but the oral storytelling of carrying on our history through oral storytelling and through music. And this is very much in that tradition because it is it's the music and the words that are carrying on this history. As you'll see in the first piece, the sermon, it really is a look back at what we have overcome the history of African-Americans in this country, all the way up to our very most recent history with the protests that were happening last year after the murders of George Floyd and mod Aubrey and Brianna Taylor, that happened in such a short period of time and people were so angry and it was so reminiscent of what was happening in the civil rights movement and what was happening in the late eighties, early nineties, where people are just crying for justice in the early eighties and nineties, it was happening through rap music. That was actually one of the things that we talked about with Elise is she said she wants to find a way to connect to the younger people. And she felt like hip hop, this music, putting it to music as a way to get folks, to listen to the story of their history. So that's part one, the sermon. The second part is a, it's literally a prayer. It's a prayer for justice. It's a prayer for resolution. It's a prayer for resurrection.

Speaker 12: 40:59 Please watch over the families whose children have passed, please peace in their hearts.

Speaker 11: 41:07 The third part is a coming together of a following of the ancestors and realizing that we just have to listen to our history. We have to feel the power of the past that the ancestors have lived through.

Speaker 12: 41:21 So my beloved that's the way it works in those days, the imposter were so sure they had the people that fly surrounded in a shroud of darkness, sewn by hatred, fear life. It was so drunk, pride and air. They became bloated. They forged ahead swimming in the blood of Hennessy and feasting on Lynch flat plan to manipulate us.

Speaker 11: 41:57 It's such a beautiful piece. All three parts altogether are nine minutes. It will be the most powerful nine minutes of your year. Thus far, I can guarantee you

Speaker 13: 42:07 Now the video that's called sermon is the one that it has this wonderful sense of anger at injustice and making a statement. And this is the video that you are asking people to engage with in your sermon challenge. So what is that sermon channel?

Speaker 11: 42:25 The sermon challenge is social media campaign that we have started where it is a call to action. What you'll find when you watch the sermon video is the first one minute is a call to worship that is bringing the people together. What we are doing is carrying that on with a call to action, as you'll see the sermon ignites the history and the passion and, and what we need in order to move forward. And so what we're asking people to do is respond to that. What does that ignite in you, uh, and to express themselves through poetry, through song, through dance, however you want to respond, we will provide you with a track of just the music, if you want to create your own song or your own poem to go on top of that. And so what does this sermon ignite in you? We challenge you to respond. The sermon challenge is a call to action.

Speaker 13: 43:23 Once you collect these videos, are they going to be shared on social media, on the website? Yeah,

Speaker 11: 43:27 There'll be shared through social media, through Facebook, Instagram, all of the other sites that the young people use that I'm not necessarily well versed on. Uh, I know it is on Tik TOK, so we will just, we will be posting the responses as part of this challenge.

Speaker 13: 43:43 And talk a little bit about the production of these videos, because these are well-produced pieces and you've incorporated like a montage of historical images in the first one. So what was the production for this leg?

Speaker 11: 43:56 We approached this project, like a film versus, um, a piece of theater. We had a 14 hour shoot day, all done within the California employment rules, all done within safety and COVID compliant, but then Shami D did all of the editing. So Shammy D is such a multihyphenate artist. He is, he produced all of the music for the piece. This is all of his original music, but we also found out he is a video editor as well. So he created, he edited all of these videos, created montage. I felt like we had gone back to work, you know, for just a brief moment, I felt like we were doing what we do again, instead of being in front of the screen. All right. I want to thank you very

Speaker 5: 44:42 Much for talking about speaking truth to

Speaker 11: 44:44 Power while light leaping for the people. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 44:48 That was Beth Armando speaking with the LA Jolla playhouses jackhole kitchen, the digital without walls show spit and truth to power while light leaping for the people is available for free on the playhouses website.

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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.