Could Vaccination Mandates Create A Backlash?
Speaker 1: 00:00 Well showing proof of vaccination become a standard requirement. Speaker 2: 00:04 Monday thing creates a realistic risk of additional preventable deaths and harms. Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS mid-day edition and mask on mask off. Some of us are suffering a case of COVID whiplash. Part of what's cultivating Speaker 2: 00:31 So much fear and anxiety and anger in people is the sense that we've just started to tap back into that community and that connection and the prospect of having it taken away again is really de-stabilizing Fox news Speaker 1: 00:44 Rival one America news network finds a home in San Diego and the San Diego writers festival features and historical novel called Liberty as a head on mid day edition. As the Delta variant spike in COVID-19 cases continues the move toward requiring proof of vaccination is growing on Monday. Governor Gavin Newsome said state employees and healthcare workers must submit evidence of vaccination or be subject to regular COVID-19 testing across the nation. The VA hospitals will also require proof of vaccination from all healthcare workers. These latest moves are expected to open the flood gates for private companies to start asking employees for vaccination proof as well. But how far can these vaccination requirements go? And could they provoke a backlash? Joining me is Dory rice law professor at UC Hastings and professor rice. Welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 01:47 Thank you for having me. Now you Speaker 1: 01:49 Are an expert in vaccine law and policy. Did you think that requiring this kind of proof would be inevitable? At some point in Speaker 2: 01:57 The pen? I expected that we will see some mandates. I didn't expect that we'll see as much as we seeing, but as always with the COVID 19 pandemic it's because the virus keeps surprising us. We're seeing more cases and the Delta variant is proving even more contagious in worried. One Speaker 1: 02:15 Of the reasons given for not requiring proof of vaccination earlier was that the COVID vaccines still have not been given full approval by the FDA. They are still on emergency authorization that has to make a legal difference. Speaker 2: 02:28 Doesn't it? It does. So the problem for those that support mandate is that the emergency use association act has a provision that says that the secretary of health has to inform recipients of the option to accept and refuse the vaccine. And for a long time RA administrative agencies, and some observers saw that that means you cannot mandate the vaccine. It hasn't been tested until now because we've never had an iwi vaccine for the entire, but now we're facing it. And they're increasing reasons to think that yes, you can still mandate the vaccine underneath the way, but it's still an area where the law is not settled. Is there a difference Speaker 1: 03:11 Between mandating vaccinations and mandating proof of vaccinations Speaker 2: 03:16 Practice? Yes. Or even in theory? So to give one example, Indiana law, prohibits businesses and agencies from requiring proof of vaccination in the only university mandated the vaccine and the attorney general interpreting the law, said that the university can mandate the vaccine, but can't require documentation. All it can do is have students sign it, statement that they've been vaccinated. So it made the big difference for that university. It's still monitoring the vaccine, but it can't require documenting. That is kind of exactly Speaker 1: 03:49 What the California state university says, uh, today that it will require students and faculty to be vaccinated, but they won't require proof. Just a student certification that they have been vaccinated. Is that good policy? Speaker 2: 04:03 I don't think it's bad policy because first of all, if we're talking about proof that we know that the vaccination records can be fake, there's, there's at least one person that's first in charges for forging them. On the other side, just requiring a statement, comes with a risk of potential criminal liability for a false statement. If that's what you do, lying to his state authority or lying to any government agency, including the federal is a criminal. So it's not without the sanction. And it may be not more vulnerable to abuse than requiring it efficacy. Speaker 1: 04:42 Now, this order from governor Newsome also mandates testing for people who do not have proof of vaccination, is that testing mandate enforceable. Speaker 2: 04:53 Yes, it probably is. So what governor Newsome is putting in places, what I think of as a soft mandate, an employer can say, get the vaccine or you're fired. That's it's a very strong mandate and mandate that says vaccinate, or we'll put in place requirements for you to reduce the risks such as testing or masking is a softer one, the consequences, not as bad. And in some ways it's an easier option for the employee. The result of not vaccinating are not as severe. Speaker 1: 05:23 Now, some organizations and experts have stayed far away from requiring proof of vaccination out of concern, that there could be a backlash. Are you concerned about that? A Speaker 2: 05:33 Backlash is possible and it's a realistic concern and how big it will be, will depend on the workforce, on the political circumstances. But the risk of a backlash has to be balanced with the risk of not vaccinating and not vaccinating without the mandate. Will we have enough vaccination without the mandate to prevent COVID-19 right now, the Delta variant is raging and not mandating creates a realistic risk of additional preventable deaths and harms. So yes, there is a risk of backlash. You always have to balance it against the risk of COVID-19. If you do not want it, now that the government Speaker 1: 06:09 Is involved in requiring proof of vaccinations, how far do you see that mandate extending into the private sector? Speaker 2: 06:16 It, the private sector has, in some cases already mandated vaccines. So several hospitals have already required vaccines for the workforce. Several other businesses have either done it or considered it. Eh, I think the government involvement too, will not be the determining force here. I think businesses that are inclined to mandate have already been considering it a governor's new, some statins, for example, for healthcare facilities may push some, but there's already been quite a bit of calls from professional association to mandate. And I'm not sure that the state involvement will make such a difference here in California. Speaker 1: 06:53 Do you see vaccine passports will be needed to enter a state? Speaker 2: 06:58 I think to some degree, I don't know if we'll see why widespread use some businesses may require vaccines and for some businesses it's the right thing. Remember that requiring vaccines has two effect. One is a limit making it harder for people who are not vaccinated to do certain things. But the other thing is enabling us to do things that we can't do otherwise under the COVID-19 pandemic, we couldn't hold large events because it was unsafe, but seeing passport can allow us to hold large events by allowing us to make them safer by requiring vaccines. I think we'll see some of it. Speaker 1: 07:33 I've been speaking with Dorie rice law professor at UC Hastings, professor Brice. Thank you so much for speaking with us. Thank you for talking to me too, Speaker 3: 07:47 Between spiking case rates and the potential return of a mask mandate, San Diego ones are struggling to make sense of the latest COVID surge as county residents continue to face this ongoing pandemic uncertainty. The term COVID whiplash is being used to describe the current situation along with the increases in anxiety, trauma, and exhaustion that come along with it. Joining me with more is Kim Eisenberg, a licensed clinical social worker and the lead therapist of the sharp Mesa Vista PTSD and trauma recovery program. Kim, welcome. Speaker 2: 08:21 Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. So Kim, Speaker 3: 08:24 Why do you think COVID whiplash is the term that some are using to describe the current situation? Speaker 2: 08:30 It really is a great synopsis of what we're all experiencing. We thought we were coming out of the woods and experiencing a return to normalcy or figuring out the new normal. And now all of a sudden we're faced with there's no other way to put it whiplash back to where we were, um, you know, earlier this year and it's really painful. It's really jarring and we don't really know what to make of it and, and what kind of injuries we're going to sustain from it. So I think, um, as, as far as terminology goes, this is a great analogy. Speaker 3: 09:03 How are you seeing people cope with COVID whiplash Speaker 2: 09:06 Really at this point? Not, not too well. People are coping, you know, very much the same way as they have been all along. Um, really we're all kind of making it up as we go, um, leaning on, um, you know, advice from public health and medical professionals and then doing our best to muddle through with, um, you know, what we know about self care and prioritizing our wellbeing and cultivating our resilience, but it is tough and, and most people are not weathering this too well. I mean, Speaker 3: 09:39 As you mentioned, there, there was a sense for a lot of people that we were out of the woods with the worst of this pandemic, how do you think that particularly affects people's ability to process the situation? Speaker 2: 09:51 I think, you know, most of us have never had to deal with anything like this in our lifetimes. And so in terms of our ability to process it again, we're very much making it up as we go. So this has really thrown folks for a loop and, you know, so much of what has I think helped us to all get through COVID throughout most of 20, 20 and 2021 was thinking and believing and feeling like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. And so, um, and to have that, and, uh, kind of slipping away is really degrading people's ability to, to process what's happening and, and make sense of it. And so it does lead to increases in fear and anxiety and anger and trauma response and, and everything that we're seeing. And given Speaker 3: 10:38 That this is such an unprecedented time. Do you think that a lot of people just aren't mentally equipped to deal with this level of constant uncertainty Speaker 2: 10:47 Up until the pandemic started? You know, there was a relatively stable arc to our lived experience for most of us that, that have been, um, around, you know, there hadn't been a pandemic in our lifetime and we hadn't had to deal with this sort of public health crisis. So this is really new territory. Yeah. I mean, Speaker 3: 11:07 In your work, have you dealt with anything similar to this where people constantly have to adjust their understanding of a highly stressful, highly fluid situation? Speaker 2: 11:17 You see it in other ways, um, especially with in trauma treatment, certainly people that have been in, you know, really invalidating, hostile, painful, violent environments, whether that's, you know, a specific environment related to a natural disaster or combat or other types of highly stressful environments like navigating the community as a person of color, um, or as an openly person, you know, there are, there are certain ways that we navigate the world that can place us under tremendous amounts of stress and strain. Um, so there are some similarities, but this, the prolonged pandemic situation that we're in is, is unique in a lot of ways as well, a major Speaker 3: 11:58 Challenge for so many people throughout the pandemic was the loss of a lot of social interaction, uh, that it really spurred on intense feelings of isolation for many. Is it possible that people are afraid that we're going to go back Speaker 2: 12:12 To them? Yeah, I think not just speaking as a, as a mental health professional, but as, as a person, um, we, we deeply deeply need connection and, and our shared humanity and community, whether it's our, you know, family of origin or the families that we create, or our broader extended communities, that is how we get through things. We don't get through things in isolation. We do it together through our common connections and that felt sense of the human experience that we all have to share together. And, uh, yeah, my, my personal opinion is that part of what's cultivating so much fear and anxiety and anger in people is the sense that we've just started to tap back into that community and that connection and the prospect of having it taken away again is really de-stabilizing. So that Speaker 3: 13:03 In mind, what are some of the ways that people can better mentally prepare for these day-to-day psychological changes that the pandemic can bring on? Speaker 2: 13:12 I think one of the biggest things is to really firstly acknowledge that this is hard and this is painful. We don't really do ourselves a lot of favors by pretending that everything's fine or, or denying that this situation is what it is and that it's challenging. So acknowledging and accepting the reality of where we are is the first piece. And then reflecting on all of the ways that we've been able to tap into our own internal and shared resilience over the past many months, that I've stopped counting. So really reflecting on what are the healthy coping strategies that we've employed so far throughout the pandemic that have allowed us to weather it and really recommitting and, you know, essentially doubling down on those things while still being really compassionate with ourselves and cutting ourselves some slack, because none of us is doing this perfectly. That's just impossible. Speaker 2: 14:07 And then I think the other really big piece is looking to within the scope of what public health officials are recommending, um, what can we do to continue to have community and connection? Um, everybody, you know, going back inside and closing their doors and hopping back online as their only source of human connection is, is going to be really tough to sustain. So I think it's important to know what our individual risk level and risk tolerance is, and then adjust our behaviors accordingly. But, um, you know, for the time being to still, um, see people outdoors, to see people while masked to do things in a way that public health officials still saying is within the bounds of what's acceptable, especially as we shift potentially from a pandemic to an endemic situation, and this does become our new normal, um, we need to figure out ways to stay connected so that we can weather it all together. Speaker 3: 15:04 I've been speaking with Kim Eisenberg, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at sharp Mesa Vista, Kim, thanks so much for joining us today. Speaker 2: 15:14 Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. Speaker 1: 15:22 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman. A San Diego man says he's experienced banking, wild black. When he tried to cash a check at a bank of America in Pacific beach, KPBS is Amica. Sherma has more John Pittman. Speaker 3: 15:41 The third is a lawyer who also spent 19 years working in the finance industry. He knows the banking business. They verify, Speaker 4: 15:50 They verify if there's an issue. The San Diego resident Speaker 3: 15:53 Was prepared in early 2020 when he went to a bank of America branch in Pacific beach to cash, a $12,000 check from an insurance settlement. The payment from the Geico insurance company was a B of a check that just in case he brought additional paperwork from Geico and three forms of identification, a driver's license passport and birth certificate. Yet that wasn't enough for the branches assistant manager. It came back and Speaker 4: 16:21 Then she was laying and telling me that she can't cash it because my name had the third on my identification, but the third wasn't written on the check. Suffolk's the third Speaker 3: 16:32 On Pittman's name was written on the rest of the Geico documents. He suggested the assistant manager contact Geico to confirm his identity. He's like, no, no, no. We Speaker 4: 16:42 Can't. Even if we call the verify, we have no way to notate that we verified. Pitman says Speaker 3: 16:47 He called Geico on his cell phone, put the insurance representative on speakerphone to address the assistant manager's concerns. And this, Speaker 4: 16:55 This manager says, well, I don't know who you are. You could be just one of his friends. He's called Pittman. Speaker 3: 17:00 Again, asked her to call Geico. She refused to make that call. That said she made another, Speaker 4: 17:06 She's going to talk to the manager. And she comes back and says, we've notified the authorities. You're trying to steal the money from the real John Pittman. Pitman says Speaker 3: 17:15 On the advice of the Geico representative, he exited the bank, but was left within aching thoughts. This Speaker 4: 17:21 Would not have happened if I wasn't a black person, I just cannot see them calling the police on every person that they get a check that doesn't have junior or a third or whatever that just doesn't make sense. Pitman says the Speaker 3: 17:33 B of a branch manager told him more than a year later that the assistant manager was only pretending to call the police. KPBS tried to interview that B of a branch manager, but he declined B of a corporate spokesman. Bill Halligan says it is standard practice, not to cash a check. If the recipient name and identification don't precisely match to protect against potential fraud, but is it standard industry practice to accuse a customer of stealing and then threatened to call the police? As Pitman says, be evaded with him. It's unfortunately Speaker 5: 18:09 Not uncommon for us to hear stories of racialized and racist behavior in financial institutions. It's Munoz Speaker 3: 18:19 Is a research analyst with the committee for better banks, which represents industry workers and consumers. Speaker 5: 18:25 It is a problem when the first response at any organization is to involve the police rather than to treat the customer as a truthful person, especially given the materials that this person had to back up. The identity advocates Speaker 3: 18:41 Use to describe these situations is banking. While black black customers have long complained of being confronted with skepticism, hurdles and calls to police while seeking basic transactions. Ed Golding is executive director of MIT's Gollob center for finance and banking. He says race isn't likely the only issue in Pittman's case, the size of the check and the fact that Pitman wasn't a customer were also factors, but he says they don't excuse the assistant manager's alleged actions. Speaker 2: 19:13 It seems like from the facts of this case, it was a very inappropriate way of saying go away. We don't want to serve you. Bank of America Speaker 3: 19:21 Ultimately sent a letter to Pitman standing by its policy. However, the letter also stated, quote, we regret any inconvenience you may have encountered as a result of this matter. I'm apologize for any service provided that did not meet your expectations, but Pitman wanted the bank to apologize specifically for the assistant manager's behavior. He also asked for monetary damages, which the bank refused. He says he still feels demoralized. Speaker 4: 19:48 It makes me feel two inches tall. You know, it makes me feel targeted. Speaker 3: 19:52 Musa Sharma KPBS news. This morning, lawmakers heard testimony from Capitol police officers during the insurrection hearing and their own words. They describe how they came face to face with a violent mob of rioters subscribing to lies conspiracy theories and white extremist ideas. In fact, one of the people who died participating in that insurrection was Ashley Babbitt from right here in San Diego, also found right here in San Diego, one America news network, LA times, columnist Jean Guerrero describes the network as a hotbed of white paranoid extremism and Trump propaganda. She recently wrote an article on how San Diego actually incubates white extremism with the network and she joins us now, Jean, welcome. Speaker 2: 20:43 Great to be here, dude. So what inspired this piece? So I grew up here in San Diego, um, in the south bay and I I've always loved this the city and you know, my family's here and I've always gone back and forth across the border. And so, you know, when I first found out that one American news network was headquartered here, I was surprised, you know, while I was reporting hate monger, my book about Stephen Miller, the Trump's senior advisor and speech writer. I began to learn a lot about California's history, long history of white supremacy and extremism. And it began to make more sense to me why one America news network was located specifically in San Diego. And I wanted to explore that in a deeper way. What is it about San Diego? Speaker 3: 21:32 You think that attracts and breeds white extremism, Speaker 2: 21:36 White extremism has historically erupted over fears about the quote unquote Browning of America, um, or, or the idea that white people are losing their dominance or power to, to brown or black. You know, non-white people it's often a product of rapid demographic change. So for example, in the 1990s here in California, non-Hispanic white people became a demographic minority for the first time. And there was a massive increase in white supremacist groups that started here and fanned eastward across the United States. Um, so one of the main reasons that we see white extremism being bred here and, and San Diego being a magnet for white extremists is the city's proximity to the border. You know, in my piece, I wrote a quote for those who dream of being white heroes at the edge of darkness, what better place than the literal frontier with brownness. So close to the other side, and it's hallucinated boogeyman. So many extremists come here because they want to basically play act at saving the white race that they believe in this conspiracy theory that white people are being systematically displaced by Latino immigrants. Um, and they want to come to San Diego to, um, act out these fantasies of protecting the white race. And Speaker 3: 23:04 As you mentioned, this isn't a new phenomenon. Talk a bit about San Diego's history with white extremism. Speaker 2: 23:10 The KU Klux Klan came to San Diego a century ago, specifically to terrorize Mexicans, you know, to, to go to the border and act as, as vigilantes to patrolling the border and, and hunting down Mexicans. And they stayed here for decades. So, so there's the KKK has a long history here, but also, you know, the normalization of white supremacist propaganda by politicians has a history here. Well, you Speaker 3: 23:37 Know, fast forward to today and there is one American news network headquartered right here in San Diego available to 5 million households across the country. Um, why and how do they fit into the white extremist landscape? Speaker 2: 23:52 So one America news network has become Trump's favorite megaphone for the big lie. The it's essentially the epicenter of this collective delusion in which Trump won the 2020 presidential elections. Um, the same delusion that led to the storming of the Capitol on January 6th. Uh, it's also the epicenter of a collective delusion in which Latino immigrants are destroying the country, um, and costing taxpayers, billions of dollars every day, which is completely false. They run this doomsday ticker regularly that shows the alleged cost of illegal, illegal immigration. Um, but they're pulling data from think tanks like the Federation for American immigration reform, which was funded by a white supremacist named John Tanton who believed in the genetic superiority of whites and they, um, you know, sugar pick data and they completely ignore the consensus among economists that immigration, whether it's legal or not is a net gain for the American economy, but Owen packages, these, you know, this white supremacist propaganda as objective news. Um, and it is basically in the business of providing viewers with racialized scapegoats on a regular basis to rile viewers up, whether it's, you know, showing minute after minute of, of, of black people committing crimes or talking about quote unquote, illegal aliens destroying this country or saying that, you know, that, that, that Trump is the, is the rightful president. Um, it, it's all basically white supremacist, propaganda masquerading as, as news. Speaker 3: 25:41 And I want to go back to something, you know, in your article, you highlight how some of these white extremists have actually held elected positions, creating policy and local laws. The fact that they were elected obviously speaks volumes about San Diego voters. And it also gives insight into the intentions behind some local policies and why they were created. What did you find out about that? Speaker 2: 26:04 Well, so, you know, in, in the nineties, we, we passed proposition 180 7, which attacked social services for undocumented immigrants, including public school for migrant children, a proposition, which was later found unconstitutional. There were also attacks on bilingual education and attacks on affirmative action. Um, and all of this had the broad support of voters in, in San Diego. Um, and what was interesting to me was, was to see that last year, uh, last year 2020, we had the opportunity to repeal the racist ban on affirmative action through proposition 16. Um, and we actually overwhelmingly rejected that opportunity. So it shows that the anti-immigrant and white supremacists viewpoints that became incredibly popular in the 1990s across California and fanning out in large part from San Diego remain, um, remain popular today and continue to have bipartisan support in the city. Speaker 3: 27:13 Yeah. You know what American news network found a home here in San Diego and the white extremist ideas that you say are talked about on their programs have found a home in the hearts and minds of many residents here. You know, this almost seems like an unfair question, but what do you see as a solution to this ideology? Speaker 2: 27:33 Well, so the solution, I think, is to be very careful not to give into the temptation, to cast one American news network, uh, or its audience says as an aberration, um, we need to avoid this us versus them mentality and the scapegoating that they, that, that the network and many of its followers, um, unfortunately fall, fall victim to, and, and, and in the case of OAN, you know, deliberately perpetrate. So I think we need to understand how easy it is to be radicalized and to be manipulated by this information. And so what we need to do is, is to hold accountable. Those who are profiting off of that manipulation and off of the radicalization of the masses and, and avoid the temptation to, to scapegoat the people who are being victimized by those people in positions of power, who are doing the manipulating. Speaker 3: 28:27 I've been speaking to Jean Guerrero, author and columnist with the LA times. Jeanne, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you so much, Jane. Speaker 1: 28:41 Yep. Public and recall candidate. Kevin Faulkner says he helped reduce homelessness in San Diego by double digits when he was the city's mayor and would tackle California's problem, head on as governor cap, radio's PolitiFact, California, reporter Chris Nichols, examined Faulkner's accomplishments as mayor in the weekly. Can you handle the truth segment? He spoke with anchor Randall white. Speaker 6: 29:05 Chris Kevin Faulkner has made his record on homelessness, a central part of his run for governor. What did he accomplish on this topic? Faulkner was San Diego's mayor from 2014 to 2020, and Randall. He can point to some achievements such as opening new shelters for up to a thousand people, expanding safe, lots where people who live in their cars can legally park and also increasing funding for homeless initiatives, but advocates for homeless people along with some political observers have criticized Faulkner for being a reluctant leader on these issues. They say he really only made homelessness a top priority in 2017. That's when a hepatitis, a outbreak spread across San Diego's homeless population, leaving hundred sick and killing 20 people. Yeah, that's right. That was horrific outbreak and made national headlines. Let's listen to what Faulkner says he accomplished here. He is during a June interview with Fox LA in Los Angeles. Speaker 6: 30:06 We have to get people off the sidewalks as mayor of San Diego. I did not allow tent and cabinets in San Diego. We were the only big city where we actually reduced homelessness by double digits. Chris let's start by fact checking Faulkner's claim that he did not allow tent encampments in San Diego. Is that correct? That is generally correct, but it does need some context. Faulkner was aggressive and using law enforcement to clear and camp mints, especially in downtown San Diego, that enforcement was combined with efforts by the police to connect people with shelters. But again, observers point out that Faulkner only made this a priority after the hepatitis a outbreak. And they described this approach as a short-term fix here's San Diego Mesa college political science professor, Carl Luna at Speaker 5: 30:56 A certain point, the mayor took action to try to clear the tents encampments that you saw all over sidewalks and freeway on-ramps across downtown San Diego in particular, but there were tents encampments. When he became mayor, there were tents encampments during the time he was mayor and there were pockets of them that existed even afterwards. So we didn't get rid of all of them and didn't get rid of them permanently because they're now bad. This Speaker 6: 31:19 Effort did result in more people going to shelters, but advocates say it also moved many homeless people into neighborhoods outside the downtown, which separated them from services and made it harder to count them. During annual surveys. Speaking of homeless surveys Faulkner also made the claim that San Diego saw a double digit reduction in homelessness. The only big city to do that is he right about that. Faulkner is basing this statement on San Diego's most recent point in time count comparing homelessness in early 20, 20 to the year before Speaker 5: 31:55 The statistic can be a little misleading. And Speaker 6: 31:58 That is John Brady. He's a board member on the nonprofit that conducts the San Diego. Speaker 5: 32:04 The true statistic is that the mayor under his leadership saw a 12% reduction in unsheltered homelessness. Wasn't a reduction in total homelessness. Speaker 6: 32:15 Brady also says there were some changes in how the homeless count was conducted in the years, leading up to 2020 based on guidance from the federal government. These changes led to a more limited count of homeless individuals. And when the report came out, that Faulkner is citing. Brady says he advised the public not to compare the results to past homeless counts. That Speaker 1: 32:39 Was cap radio's PolitiFact, California reporter Chris Nichols, Speaker 3: 32:51 President Biden's decision to end us involvement in Afghanistan has raised questions about the wisdom of leaving and the wisdom of having stayed so long. But veterans who served in Afghanistan say the situation on the ground is hard to understand if you haven't been there and can adore free ports for the American Homefront project Speaker 7: 33:14 Members of the association of the United States army are meeting for beer. Call on a hot sunny rooftop bar in Overland park, Kansas. Today, the lookout won't see trouble only wide treeline, suburban streets, punctuated by parking lots and businesses. Emma Toops is a retired army major who spent a year in Afghanistan and fifth Corps operations center at the Kabul international airport. She doesn't agree with the way that withdrawal is sometimes portrayed some news stories. I think the narrative is, is skewed to where it was all for nothing and that it was completely useless as a whole generation of 20 years gone and down the tubes. Was there a change that's going to be sustainable even after we're gone or not? It depends. She says the average American didn't see what she and her fellow service members saw things like 20 years worth of exposure to American values. Speaker 7: 34:13 So young, uh, fannies who weren't even born yet. When it, when it all started, they're teenagers. Now it's a different environment as far as what they grew up and were able to actually see and observe than their parents or grandparents tube says, Americans introduced Afghans to the mindset of individual freedoms and self-advocacy elders remain society's policymakers. So some leaders may revert to old tribal thinking after the withdrawal, but she's hopeful about rising leaders who were only in their twenties when us troops arrived. If they were in an area where there was exposure to this kind of thinking, new ways of thinking new ways of governance, if they're in their forties now, and they are in leadership roles in their communities, and they now have the ability to influence elders because it's still elders. Even now that are going to be the ones with power or the ability influence change grant Montgomery organized combat operations in Bagram, and Jalalabad, he doesn't want American troops to become a permanent fixture in Afghanistan. Speaker 8: 35:23 I think about Germany. We still have forces in Germany and we have forces in lots of other places that are leftover from things that maybe we don't need to be Speaker 7: 35:33 Crazy. Afghanistan has a turbulent history first as a British colony and later as a target of Soviet invasions, it hadn't had a stable government since the 1970s veteran Scott Weaver spent three years at us central command and worked on establishing the Afghan national Speaker 8: 35:47 Army. I would suggest to you that you go and look at what the British experience was and Afghanistan and the 19th century, and that you look at what the Soviet union's experience was in Afghanistan in the 20th century, and then ask yourself, did you think it was going to turn out different Speaker 7: 36:11 Weaver? Wouldn't directly say if he thought the withdrawal was premature or overdue still, he says the past 20 years in Afghanistan are not lost. Speaker 8: 36:19 I would say to any veteran who served there, be proud of what you accomplished, be proud of what you did be proud of. The difference that you tried to make, uh, and recognize that you did do Speaker 7: 36:35 Good. Emma tubes reminds Americans that Afghanistan is a complicated place with vast regions, isolated from each other. The reports of pockets of unrest and regression are surfacing. She thinks many areas will stay the course set by the U S in Overland park, Kansas. I'm an Canadian Dorf. Speaker 2: 36:53 This story was produced Speaker 3: 36:54 By the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Speaker 1: 37:09 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm worrying Kavanaugh with Jade. Heinemann the San Diego writers festival is wrapping up its second year as a largely virtual event, but it's not lost much of its luster in the process from keynote speaker Tanyard Jones to worldwide best seller author James Patterson. The event is packed with insights about books, poetry, and plays. One of the celebrated authors speaking this weekend is Kaitlyn Greenidge who second novel Liberty is noted as one of the most anticipated novels of the year. Liberty follows the life of Liberty Samson, a young black girl living in post-Civil war Brooklyn. It's inspired by the real life of Dr. Susan Smith McKinney steward, who was the third black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. And the first in New York throughout the novel, Greenidge explores the roles that race, gender, and freedom play in the lives of her characters and in the world in which they live. Kaitlyn. Greenidge welcome. Speaker 2: 38:12 Thank you so much for having me. This is a story Speaker 1: 38:14 That at its heart is about freedom even Liberty's name, but often the promise of freedom is pitted against the reality, these characters face. Do you see that as the essential Speaker 2: 38:27 In this book? Yes. So for the characters in this book, much like for all of us, freedom is conditional. It really depends on their class, race, their gender, their color, how they're sort of being interpreted by the wider world. And so for the characters in this book, there's always the question of how they're going to define freedom for themselves versus how, um, the wider world in the structures they live are under is going to limit that freedom. Now, Speaker 1: 38:53 The stories that are striking opening line it's, I saw my mother raised a man from the dead, and we quickly learned that Liberty's mother, a doctor helps enslaved people escape the south via transport in a coffin. Is that based on real events? Speaker 2: 39:10 It is it's based in part on a woman named Henry [inaudible] who ran a dress shop in Philadelphia, alongside her husband who ran an Undertaker's business. And both of those places served as a front for the underground railroad. So there are accounts of them staging sort of mock funerals to help transport people through Philadelphia on their way to freedom. And, uh, when I found out about Henrietta and this story, I was just so struck by it. I knew I had to include that in the novel, well, Liberty Speaker 1: 39:42 Has been raised to follow in her mother's footsteps to become a doctor, but she knows that her mother has an easier time practicing medicine than Liberty ever could because her mother has much lighter skin. How did colorism manifest itself at this point in history? Speaker 2: 40:01 So, um, colorism was super interesting because in this time period that we're talking about, which is reconstruction, especially in the Northern United States, you have a whole group of people who suddenly have to sort of rethink their relationship to, um, Agnes and to being identified as black, because with the end of slavery and the rise of the, uh, sort of doctrine of the one drop rule, that if you have a single drop of black blood, then you are considered black. And, uh, most importantly, that means that you're going to be subject to, um, the laws of Jim Crow. That meant that there was sort of these people who pre-Civil war were considered sort of, uh, they had different names. Sometimes it was drawn to color or people of color, or sort of colored people in general, these free people of color, these people who had mostly defined themselves as whether or not they were, um, enslaved or not, and not so much whether or not they were part of the sort of larger idea of blackness. Speaker 2: 40:56 So you have people reformulating, a black people, even amongst themselves, people who we now call black reformulating, their understanding to blackness and their understanding of themselves sort across a race. But what is also super fascinating, I think, is people sort of assuming that time period, that if you were lighter skinned because of this rise of anti-black violence, um, and Jim Crow laws, if you were lighter skinned, you would want to sort of pass for white. And in fact, when we look at the writings and, and, um, sort of thinking around that time period, uh, so many people who had features that were considered white could visibly pass for white at the time actually actively said, no, I'm, I'm black. I want to sort of belong to these black communities. And I want to work within these black communities, and I want to be leaders of these black communities. So it's a really complicated, I think, much more complicated than, um, modern people sort of looking back would assume around it. And I wanted to sort of explore that complication around loyalties and understanding of blackness and how people sort of, uh, self-defined themselves and understood their relationship, uh, to other black people in the country. And Speaker 1: 42:05 In your book Liberty, there are elements of the supernatural, why are ghosts and hauntings important to this story? How does it play into the themes of healing? Speaker 2: 42:16 When I was writing this book, I was teaching a class on ghost stories, um, for a couple of semesters. And so I was reading a lot of them and thinking a lot about a lot of them. And, and, um, one of the sort of, uh, literary theory books I was reading, uh, pointed out that hauntings and go stories are almost always about, um, a crime that cannot be discussed or admitted whether it's a crime within a family or transgression within a family or a transgression within a larger community or a transgression within a country. And so I was really taken with that idea of what a haunting actually is this idea of a transgression that people will not recognize as a transgression will not call a transgression and attempt to Barre, um, and, uh, how that plays into how we talk about the histories of those of us who have been marginalized in this country. Speaker 2: 43:06 And, uh, that's part of the, I mean, that is the reason why there's so much sort of haunting and go stuff in the book. And then I started took as my guiding light, this idea that, um, so much of what we call magical realism in novels is in fact, just realism from a slightly different point of view. You know, I think probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the most famous person to sort of say that about their writing, but this idea that the things that we sort of assume are the fantastical are in fact, usually just sort of the every day, um, things that happen under neath, um, uh, certain really oppressive regimes. And is Speaker 1: 43:44 The haunting sort of the residual of the trauma of slavery? Speaker 2: 43:48 Yeah, yeah. For some of the characters, it is. So there's a character named Ben Daisy in the novel. Um, and he's the man who is who Liberty thinks she sees her mother raised from the dead at the, at the very start of the novel. He's a man who's escaping from slavery. Um, and when he gets to this free black community, that he's sort of fought so hard to escape into and, uh, start his life in freedom. He's still dealing with the aftereffects of slavery. He's still trying to conceptualize what happened to him, that the traumatic events that he experienced and saw, and the people that he lost along the way, and he's not able to, um, you know, what we know about trauma now today. And I think what most people sort across race and time understand about trauma of course, is like, some of us are resilient and sort of able to move on. And many of us are not able to move on in a way that a culture, the larger culture can understand or accept. And Ben is one of those people who is not able to move on in a way that his wider community can understand or accept. And, um, how that, what that looks like for him is sort of these, um, hallucinations that he has of these, uh, different women around him, um, when he's living in this free black community. And Speaker 1: 45:01 When you hear that Liberty is one of the most anticipated books of the year, what does that make you feel like? What kind of ideas does that bring up for you? Speaker 2: 45:11 You know, you can't trust those things. It's not real because like at the end of the day, it doesn't, that doesn't change what, I'm, what I have to write tomorrow or what I want to write the next day or what kind of conversation I want to have with readers about the book or serve anything at all. It's nice. It's lovely to hear. It's really nice to hear. Um, you know, it's, I'm really excited that people are excited about it, but, um, in terms of the work that I, I like to do and the, and the ways that I want to connect with people, um, it's sort of like, uh, it's a, it's a nice to have, but it's not necessary to do those sorts of things. I've Speaker 1: 45:44 Been speaking with Kaitlyn Greenidge author of Liberty. She'll be speaking at a virtual San Diego riders event this Saturday at 10:00 AM. Thank you so much for speaking with me.