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As The Fed meets to discuss inflation, how are San Diegans coping?

 March 15, 2022 at 4:40 PM PDT

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As the feds meet to discuss inflation , how are San Diegans coping ? We see prices increasing for all of the necessity goods that people consume on a regular basis.
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I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Heinemann.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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Some teachers need an education on racist language in class.
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There is a history of anti-Blackness at SDSU , but I think at this moment it's kind of reaching its its boiling point.
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Good news and bad news about the Padres upcoming season , and we explore the pandemic's impact on San Diego's performing artists.
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That's ahead on midday edition.
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The Federal Reserve meets today and is expected to begin raising interest rates in an attempt to bring down inflation.
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The high price of gas dominates the headlines , but it's not the only cost that's going up.
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The price of food , appliances , electricity , rent and more are also caught in an inflationary spiral.
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The U.S. inflation rate has hit a 40 year high and in already high priced areas like San Diego , it can really take a toll on our way of life.
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Here's what listener Mark Ford told us.
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The way we've been cutting back is every way we can.
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We don't use , we don't use any electric heat in our house.
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We take quicker showers.
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We hardly eat out anymore.
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It's just it's a lot cheaper to get to get groceries and bring them back and have a meal.
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The increase in the number of homeless San Diegans expected in this year's regional count can apparently be traced back to the pandemic and a skyrocketing cost of living.
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So what do San Diegans need to know to get by during these inflationary times ? For that , we turn to my guest , Dr. Derek Robinson , senior researcher and policy analyst with the Center for Policy Initiatives.
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Derek , welcome to the program.
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Thanks for having me.
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The cost of housing has always been an issue in San Diego.
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Now , rents for one bedroom apartments are well over $2000 a month.
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How much of an average income here is spent on housing ? Well , we're talking about average income spent on housing , specifically in the San Diego region.
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Some recent publications have put San Diego specifically at around thirty seven point two percent of area households.
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Budgets are being spent on housing , and that's in comparison to in the U.S. averages thirty three point eight percent.
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And that's very that's really in San Diego on the high end , considering that the upper limit for what's being spent , which we see in New York City is thirty nine point one percent.
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So in San Diego , specifically , households are spending a larger proportion of their incomes on housing.
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So when you see that many San Diegans are not making the bare minimum to remain self-sufficient , what does that tell you about how low income individuals and families are coping ? They're going to be hit the hardest with these inflationary pressures as we see prices increasing for all of the necessity goods that people consume on a regular basis with the proportion of the amounts that low income individuals are having to spend on these areas.
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Sometimes they're spending upwards of 60 70 percent on housing , they're spending 30 percent on food.
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And really , they're trying to figure out how do I spend that other 10 percent ? And that's where they're having to make different types of tradeoffs.
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When we're talking about having access to medical care , having access to child care and they're really grappling to make decisions about is going to this particular job really worth it for me.
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Has what's been called the great resignation got anything to do with the inflation we're seeing now ? I don't believe that the great resignation is something that has anything to do with these inflationary pressures that we're experiencing.
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Workers haven't really had a great resignation.
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They've actually moved into other jobs.
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It's not really anyone's benefit to extract top dollar from communities and have low paid workers , but this is the economy that businesses and capitalism have created.
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And when you look at the quit rates that a lot of the media is using to talk about the great resignation , we have to look on the flipside of that at the hiring rates and what we really see here that people are trying to move into better paying , better benefits , safer jobs.
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And so that's really kind of what we've been seeing happening there.
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But still , at the low end of wage earners , those folks are still going to be hit with those inflationary pressures harder than someone who may be at the higher end of the income distribution or earning distribution.
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One of our listeners , Matty Nelson , told us how she's dealing with the economic squeeze.
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So with inflation going the way it is and gas prices going the way they are , I am kind of worried about being able to make ends meet and not going into further debt.
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And does inflation make going into debt more or less of a problem ? Definitely makes it more of a problem when you have inflation happening and you have that happening at a household at the same time , what you're really seeing is that the prices for the goods that those households needs are increasing and often times because people are not able to make ends meet.
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For instance , if you're making $15 an hour , which is the current minimum wage , that's equivalent to around thirty one thousand a year.
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That's simply not enough to support a family and so many.
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Many families are really kind of becoming dependent in order to make sure that their household resources are really met.
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And as we will see with interest rate hikes that's going to meet that debt service become even more increasingly expensive for those families and going to bring the squeeze to them even more.
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Yesterday on this show , we talked about some of the government interventions being proposed to help Californians keep up with inflated prices.
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One idea is a tax rebate , the other is another round of stimulus checks.
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Do you think either of those proposals would help ? I think right now , any type of proposals could help to provide something to those who've been really hit the hardest during this time.
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The folks at the bottom.
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Distribution of wage earners.
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But really , what's going to help are to really put into place types of wage standards.
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Types of other labor standards giving working folks the ability to collectively bargain.
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Giving workers the power that they need to be able to demand more wages and fight against that corporate greed.
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That's really led to what we are really seeing right now.
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I've been speaking with Derek Robinson , senior researcher and policy analyst with the Center for Policy Initiatives.
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And thank you so much.
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Thank you , Murray.
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SDSU philosophy Professor Angelo Carleen was reassigned by the university administration after using racial slurs in class.
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The tenured professor was teaching a class he'd been teaching for years on race , language and ethics.
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The incident was hurtful to many students and has raised questions about academic free speech.
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What's unacceptable and the overall experience of being black on SDSU campus ? Dr. Adisadel Cabela's is chair and associate professor of Africana Studies at SDSU and also a university senator , professor and cable unwelcome.
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Thank you.
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Thank you very much.
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So what have students told you happened in the classroom with Professor Corlette ? Well , what they've shared with me is that it started off as a discussion about language and racism and racial slurs , but it would eventually descend into really a situation where the professor was just irresponsibly throwing the word around as a way to really intimidate and inflame and agitate students.
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Just to be clear , what word was he throwing around ? You don't have to say it , but right ? He was throwing around the N-word.
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You know , is this something students have complained about before ? Apparently it is , and I only recently learned of this because as professors , we don't really know what other professors are doing in their classrooms.
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So I just recently heard from students that there's been a very , very long history of using that word , but not just using the word , but complaints from students as well.
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So this is not new in terms of the issues that students have had with Professor Corlett and that word.
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And students have been reluctant to speak out about this particular incident.
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Why is that ? Well , a lot of them are not comfortable with , you know , sharing any information or stepping forward out of fear of retribution from the university fairly or unfairly.
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But that's how many of them feel.
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And we have to understand that these are young people who did not come to San Diego State University and in general , don't come to college to be revolutionary.
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They come to.
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They come to learn , you know , they come , you know , as kids , as a lot of us , you know , see them.
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This is not the type of thing that they hope for and expect to experience in college.
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What can you tell me about the nature of Professor Collette's class and what can you tell me about him ? You all have known each other for two decades.
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Yes , we have known each other for quite some time.
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And what I can say is that his many of his courses deal with issues of race , social justice.
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He talks about reparations.
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So , you know , in a general sense , you know , always understood that about , you know , his focus , his academic focus.
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But only recently.
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Again , how have I learned about the interaction that he's had with students for a number of years ? One of the things that he often talks about it , or I should say , one of the things that students have been coming forward and talking about is that he intentionally tries to agitate the students and he , according to them , he bullies them and he puts in his syllabus , you know , instructions for them not to share his syllabus.
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Or they would , you know , my words , not necessarily theirs.
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I'm paraphrasing what they said , but if they share the syllabus , you know , they will feel his wrath.
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So that's the kind of relationship I am now beginning to understand that he has with his students.
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And you know , if this is a class on racism , language and ethics , where do you think Professor Colette went wrong in his teaching ? Well , I think he went wrong when ? He stopped talking about.
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You know , the N-word in it in an academic context.
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You know , in other words , when you're talking about race , racism , racial epithets , you know , personally , I understand the use of that word in context.
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But I think the lesson went awry or the lesson effectively ended when he began to throw the word around because he could , you know , because he told his class , he told his students that he could use that word.
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So according to them , he used it , you know , more than 40 times again , because he could.
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He told the students that the only way that he could be fired was if he raped or murdered a student.
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You know , so at that point , it's the least the lesson was effectively over and something else was happening.
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And this isn't the only incident black students in particular have had to deal with on campus.
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What's the climate been like and for how long ? Well , the climate currently is probably the racial climate is probably the worse now that I've seen in my 20 years at San Diego State.
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But I will say that , you know , there's often been hostility for black students and really faculty and staff as well at San Diego State.
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So there is a history of anti-Blackness at SDSU.
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But I think at this moment , it's kind of reaching its its boiling point.
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What's made the climate so bad ? What are students experiencing and what are staff and faculty experiencing ? Well , certainly , you know , as far as students are concerned , it's almost a it's a regular experience for their classmates and others to call them the N-word.
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Only a few years ago was the the newly opened Black Resource Center vandalized and folks were hurling the N-word at students coming in and out of the Black Resource Center , or where we talk about when the library and the university rejected the John Coltrane Memorial Black Music Archive without any discussion with with faculty in general , but certainly not with africana studies or the Black Resource Center , or even considering how black students would feel about the university inexplicably rejecting this music that represents their culture.
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So there are just a number of different issues right now , the kind of , you know , typifies the Africana experience at San Diego State University.
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And why did you want to share your thoughts about this ? Well , our students are hurting , and by extension , I'm hurting.
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You know , I've seen I see the impact that the environment is having on our students right now.
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I was in a meeting recently with black students and they were literally crying.
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You know , they're dealing with and many of us are.
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I mean , not just our students , but you know , the focus I want to be on.
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Our students are dealing with this racial battle fatigue.
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And as I mentioned before , they didn't come to us and Diego State and we don't come to college to have those experiences.
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But unfortunately , those are the experiences that we've been having.
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So that's why I'm speaking out about it.
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You know , an organization called Fire has gotten involved with this particular incident with Professor Collette.
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They say in defense of academic free speech , What's your perspective on that organization and why they've become involved in this issue and others at SDSU ? So fire.
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They focused initially on the land acknowledgement , and I don't think it's a coincidence that this land acknowledgement is about a people of color and a university that was making an attempt to honor the culture and traditions and existence of indigenous people , particularly the coming on on our campus.
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But because , you know , fire as an organization and those who support them , they don't really see us , they don't see indigenous students.
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They don't see , you know , black students.
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So the impact of their actions on , you know , black and other students of color is just simply not a concern of theirs , but rather this idea this so-called freedom of speech.
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So this organization has demonstrated what it values and it does not value human beings.
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You know , the university sent us a statement about this incident , with Professor Collette saying , in short , the university holds in highest regards all protections for academic freedom.
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After reviewing multiple complaints from students , the university considered the severity of the situation and the support needed for our students and reassigned the professor.
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What do you think of DCEU's response to all of this and its decision to reassign Dr Collette rather than something more severe ? Well , I support the university's decision with regard to president.
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I'm sorry to Professor Let.
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But one of the things that I am concerned about is that Collette is really symptomatic of a larger problem at San Diego State.
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So on so many levels , it's easy to focus on , you know , one professor who is problematic or , you know , behaving badly in the classroom as opposed to dealing with some of the more systemic cultural deficiencies of the university.
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I've been speaking with SDSU associate professor and chair of Africana Studies Adisa Al Shavelson , Professor Cable on.
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Thank you for joining us.
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You're welcome and thank you.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Heinemann.
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The Marines probe into whether the reservist son of former San Diego County GOP leader Tony Kovarik tried to join a white nationalist group , is expected to wrap up any day now.
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KPBS Amita Sharma says top brass recently changed policies to meet the moment , but some say they fall short.
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We need your help.
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I'm talking , of course , about extremism and extremist ideology views and conduct that run counter to everything that we believe in and which can actually tear at the fabric of who we are as an institution.
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This plea from the nation's first black secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin , weeks after the January 6th insurrection , came with a request for rank and file to revisit their oath.
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Read those words again.
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Consider what they really mean and think about the promise that you made to yourselves into your teammates and to your fellow citizens.
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With nearly 15 percent of the January 6th insurrectionists tied to the military , the Pentagon also turned inward.
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Late last year , the Department of Defense updated its policy on radicalism to ban service members from actively participating in gangs or groups that advocate extremist ideologies.
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The active participation includes fundraising , attending rallies , recruitment and training.
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What they didn't do , however , is add a prohibition of membership in white nationalist organizations.
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Devin Burckhardt is executive director of the Seattle based Institute for the Research and Education on Human Rights.
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He says the military's decision not to ban membership in extremist groups is a mistake.
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The act of joining an organization and making that league to become a member is already a sign that you're deeply enmeshed inside that organization's ranks.
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It also means that you may be participating in other parts of the organization.
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The issue surfaced in San Diego earlier this year over reports that the marine reservist , son of former local Republican Party leader Tony Kovarik , tried to join a notorious neo-Nazi group.
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Twenty one year old Victor Kovarik allegedly applied to be in the Patriot Front , which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a white nationalist hate group.
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Christine Chavela , a black navy vet who served in San Diego , says racism and extremism remain present in the military.
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It's masked with things like favoritism.
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It's masked with some manipulation and different arenas , and it's definitely still there.
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It's just well hidden.
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A marine spokesman told KPBS that the Corps is investigating Kovarik , but it's unclear if he would be in violation of the military's new policy unless he did more than just join the Patriot front.
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For example , the new rules forbids service members from liking or sharing extremist posts on social media.
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William Braniff is director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
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He says the constant presence of social media makes this change vital.
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But he has heard concerns.
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There's a lot of pushback like , you know , this is overreach in the DOD is going to kick somebody out of the military for retweeting or reposting something.
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Isn't that silly ? Well , no , not at all.
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I think what the DOD is recognized is that social media matters.
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However , the military is still not screening the social media of its service members , even though polling of people in the military in recent years shows roughly a third have encountered racist and white supremacist views.
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Again , Burckhardt.
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So the problem is endemic.
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But when those service members go to report that , it's unclear how that is handled.
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You know , as to whether or not there will be clear procedures for discipline and for response , Burkhart says it's a sharp contrast with the military's policy on other conduct.
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Consider that proof of adultery by a service member can lead to docked pay , discharge and even confinement.
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Chavela , the Navy vet , believes it will be tough to convince the military brass to take the same hard line on extremists.
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It's so deeply rooted into everything that they do.
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If they started to unravel that thread , it's going to break apart a huge structure that they've already built , causing them to have to rebuild it all over again.
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Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma and Amita Welcome.
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It's good to speak with you , Maureen.
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What does the probe into Victor Kovarik activities consist of ? Does Kovarik face dismissal from the Marine Corps Reserve ? It's not entirely clear.
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At this point.
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I imagine that the Marines evaluated the same information.
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And that was on social media , and that was put there by the activists called activated podcast.
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They're actually the ones who identified Victor Kovarik as an applicant to the Patriot Front outside of identifying Victor Kovarik as just an applicant to the group.
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The Marine Corps really wants to know and is most likely investigating whether he was accepted and then whether he actively participated in the Patriot Front.
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If he was an active participant , then the Marines have to figure out whether he did that while he was on duty.
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And since he is a reservist , that's tricky.
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If he was active in the Patriot front off duty , it's uncertain whether that is a clear violation or up to the discretion of the Marines.
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Does the Pentagon have a list of extremist groups that military personnel are forbidden to participate in ? Well , you know , marine , they say they don't.
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I find it really hard to believe that the Pentagon doesn't keep and update some sort of a list of these groups and all their iterations so that they can better identify anything really from tattoos of certain imagery or a certain language as they try to figure out if a service member has an extremist problem.
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Are extremist groups actively targeting military members for recruitment ? Yes , they are , and they do it online.
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In fact , one analyst I spoke with said there is not an online space where white supremacists and far right recruitment is not happening.
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They say it's happening on internet forums about weapons , political forums , discussions on Facebook , about cars , forums on Tik Tok.
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And of course , it's happening in the expected places like obscure social media platforms.
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Big names are gab and Parler.
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The recruitment , I'm told , is taking place in physical spaces , too.
00:26:23.260 --> 00:26:33.400
And that means that folks are going out there and they are just blanketing areas near bases with flyers and stickers promoting propaganda.
00:26:34.030 --> 00:26:38.920
And there is another aspect to this that I want to mention.
00:26:39.220 --> 00:26:57.640
On the one hand , these white nationalists are trying to recruit active service members , but at the same time , these groups are sending members to join the military , to get training and to get tactical skills that these organizations could never , ever afford to pay on their own.
00:26:58.240 --> 00:27:07.390
And the experts I spoke with said they want their members to have these skills so that once they get out , they can do damage , they can inflict terror.
00:27:08.230 --> 00:27:19.960
Can you explain the military's thinking on why liking or sharing extremist posts online is banned ? But actually joining an extremist group isn't the military's rationale.
00:27:20.290 --> 00:27:32.830
According to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby , is that they are trying extremely hard to preserve the line between thoughts and actions.
00:27:33.580 --> 00:27:51.670
And what they say is that this new definition maintains a service members right of expression to the extent possible , while also balancing the need for order and discipline so that combat and and unit cohesion is not affected.
00:27:52.090 --> 00:28:04.240
But I really think it comes down to this liking and sharing a tweet is a public act of ideological kinship with these groups , and that is not a good look for the military.
00:28:04.510 --> 00:28:22.710
Now , top brass also believes that with their ban on active participation in these groups , which boils down to fundraising , promotion , participating in rallies and recruitment , they believe that if they ban those activities , they're pretty much handicapping these folks from being a member of these groups.
00:28:22.720 --> 00:28:27.130
But experts say that is absolutely not true , that there are other ways to participate.
00:28:27.370 --> 00:28:28.630
Behind the scenes.
00:28:29.020 --> 00:28:34.840
And that if you are at the point where you're even joining one of these groups , you need to be dealt with.
00:28:35.650 --> 00:28:41.440
Tell us more about the pushback these new rules against extremist social media exchanges are getting.
00:28:41.770 --> 00:29:04.900
Do some claim that this is a violation of service members personal political views ? I think that there is a genuine concern and fear among service members and leadership that the rules should not go too far in chilling the speech of people , especially on the conservative side.
00:29:05.710 --> 00:29:16.110
I think at the same time , there is worry that the military is just sticking its head in the sand and not confronting what it needs to be a real problem.
00:29:16.440 --> 00:29:23.220
Of white nationalism in the military and that it's dancing around the edges instead of outright banning membership in these groups.
00:29:23.490 --> 00:29:35.680
So is there a sense that the military's rules and regulations on extremist participation are still evolving as they become more aware of the extent of the problem ? I think that's the hope.
00:29:35.700 --> 00:29:37.380
Well , definitely that's the hope.
00:29:37.470 --> 00:29:47.730
Some of the people I interviewed basically said , Look , the military is this giant bureaucracy and tackling a challenge this deeply rooted will take time.
00:29:48.600 --> 00:29:52.410
But then again , the counterargument is that the military doesn't have time.
00:29:52.710 --> 00:29:56.190
I've been speaking with KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma.
00:29:56.490 --> 00:29:57.540
Amita , thank you.
00:29:57.900 --> 00:29:58.830
Thank you , Maureen.
00:30:05.850 --> 00:30:12.600
After a contentious lockout that delayed the upcoming MLB season , Padres baseball is gearing up for the spring.
00:30:12.900 --> 00:30:20.310
And while fans and players alike are breathing a sigh of relief that the season is no longer in jeopardy , the news isn't all good.
00:30:20.640 --> 00:30:31.140
The Padres pre-season was thrown a major curveball with the news that the team's superstar , Fernando Tatis Jr. , will likely undergo surgery to repair a broken wrist.
00:30:31.500 --> 00:30:40.290
So what does that bode for the upcoming season ? Here to answer those questions and more is Bryce Miller , a sports columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
00:30:40.530 --> 00:30:42.090
Bryce , welcome back to the program.
00:30:42.540 --> 00:30:43.320
Thanks for having me.
00:30:43.560 --> 00:30:46.450
So let's start off with this lockout for those unaware.
00:30:46.470 --> 00:30:54.000
How did it finally come to a resolution ? I think it came to a resolution because the season games themselves were in jeopardy.
00:30:54.010 --> 00:30:55.560
I think a lot of public pressure.
00:30:55.710 --> 00:30:58.140
The reason it took so long to come to an agreement.
00:30:58.140 --> 00:31:19.170
Essentially , they're reshaping a new collective bargaining agreement because so many of these delays and false deadlines and a lot of the leveraging that happens in these business moments in baseball is all about creating an advantage through that leverage and both sides , especially in my opinion , ownership pushed it as far as they possibly could.
00:31:19.200 --> 00:31:22.710
Two or three times , they mentioned arbitrary deadlines.
00:31:22.910 --> 00:31:27.720
You know , if we don't have a deal by this day , we won't be able to play a full 162 game season.
00:31:27.720 --> 00:31:29.790
Three or four of those deadlines came and went.
00:31:29.790 --> 00:31:33.200
So that obviously wasn't the case , and they're still playing 162.
00:31:33.210 --> 00:31:43.380
But beyond the business of baseball , the resolution did find a way to condense the spring training schedule , make up some of those games of double headers during the regular season , and we're back to 162.
00:31:43.650 --> 00:31:47.270
And the big news as of late is Fernando Tatis his injury.
00:31:47.280 --> 00:32:05.820
How bad is it ? Well , it's bad from a from a confidence standpoint , from a momentum at the start of the season standpoint from a second season collapse last year after a decent start , taking them out of contention for a playoff spot that was virtually guaranteed months earlier standpoint.
00:32:07.080 --> 00:32:20.850
The injury itself is the left wrist of Fernando Tatis Jr. , but it's almost certainly going to require surgery , especially since it wasn't mended in any way during the months of the lockout that go back to December.
00:32:21.810 --> 00:32:29.850
He is admitted to the Padres are aware that he was in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic shortly after the lockout started.
00:32:30.900 --> 00:32:35.950
So , you know , at that point , teams can't have communications with players.
00:32:35.970 --> 00:32:40.050
I mean , it's a complete separation of church and state and in baseball terms.
00:32:40.680 --> 00:32:54.900
But we found out yesterday our reporter at the Union Tribune , Kevin A-C , reported that because the Padres team doctors are not technically employees , they could have reached out , visited him , tried to do this , double check his health.
00:32:54.900 --> 00:33:01.320
Even though representatives from Tatis camp said it was scrapes and bruises and that accident nothing major.
00:33:02.070 --> 00:33:08.270
But if they had identified that earlier and there was a path to do that , the surgery could have happened earlier.
00:33:08.280 --> 00:33:09.960
The healing could have started sooner.
00:33:10.200 --> 00:33:16.830
And maybe he is missing a very short part of the early season as opposed to something now that could reach into mid-June.
00:33:17.070 --> 00:33:32.280
Does this injury , you think , raised questions about his longevity and overall health ? I think it's fair to ask that question because he missed , I think , 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury , something he opted not to address surgically.
00:33:32.280 --> 00:33:33.990
And that's a real question mark.
00:33:34.170 --> 00:33:39.510
You know , that's that's one that he probably could be in a better position health wise with that shoulder.
00:33:39.720 --> 00:33:43.800
So it's the compound impact of the wrist , the shoulder.
00:33:43.890 --> 00:33:46.320
A few seasons back , he had a hamstring , a back.
00:33:46.920 --> 00:33:53.730
I calculated it up in the column that ran in the Union-Tribune today that in a short season , his numbers have been spectacular.
00:33:53.730 --> 00:33:58.650
But he's also missed almost 30 percent of his games in his career because of a range of injuries.
00:33:59.130 --> 00:34:00.540
So that's one of the question marks.
00:34:00.720 --> 00:34:01.680
This is an accident.
00:34:02.010 --> 00:34:08.790
You know , if it relates to the motorcycle accident in particular , which it's hard not to believe , that's not the root cause of this.
00:34:09.090 --> 00:34:11.310
It's one of those things , you know , that can happen.
00:34:11.310 --> 00:34:13.890
But what that creates is a different question.
00:34:13.890 --> 00:34:32.880
What's his responsibility related to a $340 million or fourteen year contract ? What kind of decision made decision making is going on in his head ? Is this one of those maturity learning moments ? General manager A.J. Preller kind of hinted yesterday's use of the word responsibility in terms of discussions they've had with Fernando.
00:34:32.970 --> 00:34:50.010
So all of that , the health and decision making or questions early on that everybody is talking about , given the size of that immense investment by the Padres , how do the Padres stack up against its divisional competition this year ? Well , they didn't stack up very well last year.
00:34:50.010 --> 00:34:53.760
The Giants especially were on record pace in terms of regular season wins.
00:34:54.030 --> 00:34:57.300
They were consistent all season long when they had injuries.
00:34:57.300 --> 00:35:00.000
The Padres did , too , but I wrote about this last year.
00:35:00.000 --> 00:35:04.170
The Giants and Dodgers were not that far behind the differential as they played through injuries.
00:35:04.860 --> 00:35:09.120
Deeper benches in terms of substitutions that can perform.
00:35:09.420 --> 00:35:20.550
And this year that both teams are going out and likely to spend big money , the big rumor with the Dodgers they might get Freddy Freeman , the all star first baseman who won a World Series last year from the Atlanta Braves.
00:35:20.550 --> 00:35:23.260
They would be incredibly stacked if they had Freeman.
00:35:23.280 --> 00:35:25.200
The Giants picked up a pitcher.
00:35:25.410 --> 00:35:28.650
So far , the Padres haven't done anything in free agency in spring training.
00:35:28.920 --> 00:35:30.030
It would be shocking.
00:35:30.030 --> 00:35:32.880
If they don't do anything , it's probably moves to come.
00:35:33.240 --> 00:35:46.470
But some of the biggest free agents are off the board in the last 24 hours and Nelson Cruz 48 hours , Nelson Cruz being one that Matt Olson in a trade which could have been a target for a former A's manager , Bob Melvin of the Padres.
00:35:46.590 --> 00:35:51.870
So far , they are head on paper in their head in terms of aggressiveness in this free agent market so far.
00:35:52.470 --> 00:35:57.420
I've been speaking with Bryce Miller , a sports columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
00:35:57.420 --> 00:35:58.320
Bryce , thanks.
00:35:58.980 --> 00:35:59.670
Yeah , anytime.
00:36:11.180 --> 00:36:15.470
This is KPBS midday edition , I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Heinemann.
00:36:15.860 --> 00:36:25.370
Today we launch a series of stories that explore the impact of the last two years of the COVID 19 pandemic on San Diego's performing artists.
00:36:25.850 --> 00:36:37.010
It may come as no surprise that , according to the San Diego Arts and Culture City Wide Impact Report , both the number of performance events and the number of people who attended went down last year.
00:36:37.250 --> 00:36:49.010
But what about the pandemic's impact on the performers themselves ? Producers Amylin Mohib and Julia Dixon Evans have gathered stories from some of the individuals directly affected.
00:36:49.430 --> 00:36:55.670
We begin with classical performance , the world of choral dance , opera and instrumental music.
00:36:56.720 --> 00:37:05.480
Around the same time that Gov. Newsom issued the first stay at home order , the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus was dealing with a small outbreak of their own.
00:37:05.630 --> 00:37:13.640
I asked the choir's executive director , Jeff Haney , about their experience and whether they had a sense of how the choir would weather the pandemic.
00:37:13.970 --> 00:37:21.830
At the time , you know , when we went into lockdown back in March of 2020 , I think everyone kind of thought , this is going to be a temporary thing.
00:37:21.830 --> 00:37:31.170
You know , we were all eager and willing to go through the protocols that had been recommended to us that we were hearing on the news of what we had to do to shut down.
00:37:31.250 --> 00:37:36.530
But thinking that this would be a very , very short term , you know , less than a month , we'd all be back to work.
00:37:36.530 --> 00:37:41.750
And I don't think we really understood the impact until after a couple of months.
00:37:41.750 --> 00:37:57.350
And then it did become a concern about what do you do when you're very artistic product is a superspreader event , you know , with our singers performing together , being in an audience and now that it is two years later.
00:37:57.440 --> 00:38:23.330
What challenges are sticking around you and now that we're into two years of this pandemic ? I think the challenges for us right now , and I don't know if it's a challenge or an opportunity , I would like to look at it as an opportunity that we now have a chance to rebuild after the long hiatus of the pandemic shutdown of not only just rebuilding , but looking at what we've done , looking at how our organization is run.
00:38:23.630 --> 00:38:25.130
Looking at the shows that we produce.
00:38:25.130 --> 00:38:40.940
And is this finally that opportunity of given time where we can actually take a look at our future and see if we can emerge ? In other words , like what's the new normal for us as we emerge from this ? What does our new normal look like ? And that doesn't have to be a challenge.
00:38:40.940 --> 00:38:43.280
It can actually be a very exciting thing.
00:38:43.400 --> 00:38:51.170
I think for me how I would define our new normal or , you know , rebuilding to a new normal is looking at the performances that we do.
00:38:51.320 --> 00:39:14.660
What can we do to maintain this virtual component that we've all had to learn the hard way to manage and to produce ? After hearing from the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus , we wondered What was it really like as a performer during these last two years as the evolving pandemic changed their ability to work ? We talked with several other performers from San Diego , starting with the opera.
00:39:14.930 --> 00:39:17.420
I'm Sara Nicole Carter , I'm a mezzo soprano.
00:39:17.420 --> 00:39:22.850
I sing with Senegal Opera and I'm the co-founder and artistic director of the S.F. Collective.
00:39:22.970 --> 00:39:28.250
Your body is your instrument , right ? So just like dance , of course , you know your body is your instrument.
00:39:28.250 --> 00:39:33.490
So if you get sick , you don't make money and our contract structure is built like that.
00:39:33.500 --> 00:39:36.500
So you get paid by stepping foot onto the stage.
00:39:36.500 --> 00:39:39.310
You don't get paid for the six months you take to learn a role.
00:39:39.320 --> 00:39:41.780
You don't get paid for the weeks of rehearsal beforehand.
00:39:41.930 --> 00:39:44.450
You get paid when your foot touches the stage.
00:39:44.630 --> 00:39:57.860
So when something like a pandemic happens globally and you're not allowed to open your mouth really , and then you're classified as a super spreader because you're an opera singer and then you're told your job is essential.
00:39:58.010 --> 00:40:00.350
That's a lot of blows all to take at once.
00:40:00.470 --> 00:40:07.190
Most of the people in my industry who were working full time as opera singers that just went away for two years.
00:40:07.280 --> 00:40:17.060
So the opera industry is now undergoing a lot of changes because a lot of singers has found other careers that they found as fulfilling or more financially stable.
00:40:17.120 --> 00:40:25.220
But the biggest takeaways for me from the pandemic were the industry is going to have to change in some ways to better serve its artists.
00:40:25.520 --> 00:40:28.980
Singing in a mask has been a really interesting challenge.
00:40:29.000 --> 00:40:33.360
I think different singers react to it in different ways , depending on their technique.
00:40:33.410 --> 00:40:36.680
I don't love it initially when we had the cloth masks.
00:40:36.800 --> 00:40:41.870
A lot of times you bring them into your face , which is why singing masks became a thing.
00:40:41.870 --> 00:40:48.890
You didn't really have the ability to open your mouth and draw freely and move freely.
00:40:49.160 --> 00:40:55.190
There were times where I would literally suck mask into my mouth while singing what I was taking in elation.
00:40:55.730 --> 00:40:58.910
So a lot of people started developing these singers masks.
00:40:59.000 --> 00:41:00.860
Those allow for you to do free.
00:41:00.890 --> 00:41:05.190
Job is anything you need to do with your body to actually do our job.
00:41:05.210 --> 00:41:09.870
But there's also a huge difference in what the audience is hearing when it's a masks.
00:41:10.060 --> 00:41:20.320
Singer , or a mass chorus , ballet dancers may not need to sing through special masks , but like an opera singer , their bodies are their instrument and their livelihood.
00:41:20.710 --> 00:41:25.360
I am Stephanie Marano and I am a ballerina at the San Diego Ballet Company.
00:41:25.510 --> 00:41:27.670
The last two years have kind of been a blur.
00:41:27.700 --> 00:41:32.860
I almost don't remember what it was like before we had these two years.
00:41:32.950 --> 00:41:38.590
I mean , for as long as I can remember , since I was like 11 , I was going to dance studios every day.
00:41:38.620 --> 00:41:40.630
Having performances every couple of months.
00:41:40.630 --> 00:41:44.990
And I really took it for granted because I feel like that's just the life of a dancer.
00:41:45.010 --> 00:41:52.570
You get up , you go to the studio , you take class , you rehearse and then you go into theater on stage and you perform.
00:41:52.660 --> 00:42:10.960
So when that was all taken away from us so quickly , it was kind of a super surreal experience because as dancers , how do we stay in shape ? You need enough space to kick your leg in the air to jump to turn , and a piano player can still play their piano in their home.
00:42:10.960 --> 00:42:16.810
A singer can still sing , but a dancer , especially a ballerina , they need somewhere to wear the shoes.
00:42:16.810 --> 00:42:19.630
They need to keep training and keep dancing.
00:42:19.990 --> 00:42:21.640
Otherwise , you lose it.
00:42:21.640 --> 00:42:33.310
And it was really sad because the first year of the pandemic I saw so many students and professionals leave ballet completely quit because they couldn't take the thought of trying to get back into shape.
00:42:33.400 --> 00:42:44.200
But what I was surprised about was how resilient I was and the dancers that I know where we immediately got to work , trying to find ways to find classes online.
00:42:44.380 --> 00:42:46.200
It was hard not performing.
00:42:46.210 --> 00:42:50.700
It was hard not being a theater and stopping and thinking about all these things.
00:42:50.710 --> 00:42:59.830
It gave me like a new perspective on what's so important about having an audience gather and for me to share this passion that I have.
00:43:00.160 --> 00:43:07.090
One of the things we heard from performing artists over the last two years is that part of how they make ends meet is through teaching lessons.
00:43:07.510 --> 00:43:10.270
And for some , teaching is their primary passion.
00:43:10.510 --> 00:43:16.000
And when you're used to physically sharing space with your students , a lot gets lost in the ether.
00:43:16.150 --> 00:43:21.070
Carole Seefeld is a piano teacher and co-founder of the San Diego Music Academy.
00:43:21.400 --> 00:43:26.070
So all of us pretty much had to improvise overnight with the lesson.
00:43:26.080 --> 00:43:34.930
Equipment set up maybe changed a lesson focus a little bit , so we did initially experience a slight drop in the enrollment.
00:43:35.200 --> 00:43:44.830
I remember correctly and it was a variety of reasons , and some families parents very sadly lost their jobs and they don't have that income anymore.
00:43:45.190 --> 00:43:49.570
And also a lot of students have now increased screen time.
00:43:49.900 --> 00:43:56.860
So teaching on Zoom , I would say , definitely had disadvantages , but also perks as well.
00:43:56.920 --> 00:44:09.970
So for regular Zoom lessons , depending on the camera angle , for my own lesson especially and the quality of the sound if they add the students who are on a computer or a phone does make a big difference.
00:44:10.390 --> 00:44:17.890
It could be really hard to hear the lower and the higher pitches , and it's almost impossible to tell the balance between the hands.
00:44:17.980 --> 00:44:31.480
Also , for beginners , I think it was definitely a challenge because we were not able to do any posture corrections for young beginners , and they they mainly depend on the teacher physically being there for the guidance.
00:44:31.960 --> 00:44:35.620
And I'm a piano teacher , so that's an area I can speak for.
00:44:35.620 --> 00:44:41.270
But I also know for other instruments like string players , there is that posture as well.
00:44:41.290 --> 00:44:50.830
There's the tuning a lot of teachers to for their young students , for what , what instruments will be , you know , how their joints are lying and things like that.
00:44:51.010 --> 00:44:54.700
So that's definitely a challenge now that we see things opening up.
00:44:54.820 --> 00:45:00.790
We do see increase with people turning to music , especially during the time of change.
00:45:01.390 --> 00:45:08.800
Tomorrow , in part two of this series , we look at the way the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic have impacted the theater.

The Federal Reserve meets Tuesday and is expected to raise interest rates in an attempt to bring down inflation. Next, an SDSU department chair said the reassignment of a tenured professor over the use of racial epithets in the classroom is a symptom of "larger cultural deficiencies" at the university. Black students and faculty are hurting, he said. Later, as the Marines conclude the questioning of the son of a former San Diego County GOP leader who tried to join a white nationalist group, some experts say the military's new rules on extremism miss the mark. Later, Padres baseball is gearing up for the spring after a labor dispute. Finally, Midday Edition begins a series of stories on the impact of the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performing arts.