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Immigration advocates reflect on 10 years of DACA

 June 15, 2022 at 4:59 PM PDT

S1: The success and challenges of the Dhaka programme on its 10th anniversary. Prior to Dhaka , it meant that we had to constantly be looking over our shoulder. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with MJ Perez. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The possible end of Roe v Wade may have serious consequences for women's health.
S2: I do see this as a reversal in women's health course , and I think the ramifications may be many.
S1: A report on the mental health issues that arise from fighting California's wildfires and an exploration into the allegations being made against the San Diego Repertory Theatre. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The Dhaka programme is marking its 10th anniversary this week. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program was initiated by President Barack Obama in 2012. It protects young adults brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows that population called Dreamers to pursue higher education and establish careers. But it was not supposed to last this long. Permanent immigration reform is still out of reach , and the DOCA program itself remains under threat. Joining me is Jose Garcia , executive director of Border Angels , a migrant rights organization and USA. Welcome back to the program. Thank you for having me again. Now , this anniversary is difficult to celebrate because DOCA was supposed to be temporary , but the DOCA program has helped many people over the years. So remind us what life was like for undocumented young people before DOCA. Yes , it should feel like a celebration because it did take quite a bit of time to even when DOCA and it was a lot of effort from thousands of people that were organizing to push for comprehensive immigration reform. Prior to DOCA , a lot of us had to hear from our own high school counselor how there was no options after high school , how ? Because we were lacking a Social Security number. We weren't going to be able to access the same opportunities as our our peers would have prior to DOCA. It meant , especially for those of us that live at the border , that we had to constantly be looking over our shoulder. So not having protection from deportation is something that was always on the back of our minds. So having an DOCA and having that protection is it was like night and day. Now , more than 800,000 people have been helped by the program , including Dole. Say yourself. What did DOCA allow you to do ? Yes. Thanks to DOCA , I'm able to have a very fulfilling career as an attorney. I am able to walk into court knowing that I'm protected from deportation and I can focus solely on my client's case rather than my own immigration status. Having DOCA meant that I could have a Social Security number to contribute into the system , to be a part of the community , to be a bit more integrated into our former markets and economy. I remember applying for a credit card , and now since I have that guy , you know , I have a credit score that I often look at and monitor for. So it's it's been incredible to have a form of I.D. , a work permit , business opportunities. You know , so many doors have been open thanks to DOCA. And I know that's the story across the board with thousands of DOCA recipients that are buying homes for the first time , buying cars , contributing to our economy. It's it's incredible to see all of all of our lives , quite literally , be transformed. But you're also very familiar with the dark side of DOCA , and that is what happens when protections run out. Your brother was deported when his DOCA protections lapsed. How can those protections lapse ? The DOCA program has a lot of limitations , and those limitations were definitely tested during the Trump administration. Trump told our undocumented community that we are in the US undocumented , that we should be afraid. And that was very much the case. We were very afraid. And here locally in San Diego , I remember the eyes director looking at me in the eyes and I asked him If Doca ends , what's going to happen to me ? And he said , Well , you know , I would have to bring you into custody. That's my job. And so it was a very terrifying time. And , you know , Trump made good on his promises for DOCA recipients that had their permits expire , unable to renew. We started to see deportations , so we started to see on the headlines , Dreamers deported. And my brother was one of those people that was deported when his DOCA expired. Luckily , I was able to work in Tijuana last year and submitted an application for him to come back into the U.S. as a an exemption to a policy called Title 42 that allows him to be now in the U.S. and apply for asylum. But it has been an incredibly difficult year for us. You know , all of this could have been avoided if these limitations that the backup program has would be fixed. You know what ? We sought out ten years ago was a path to citizenship. It was permanent protection from deportation. All of these limitations could be tested again in the future , and it's certainly being tested in court today. All right. The DOCA program is not safe and DOCA recipients are not safe. And so many people have been left out of this program that has resulted in people being deported. And and my brother's story is not unique. So there is this this dark side when it comes to the DOCA program in particular , with us being able to contribute to a system that we know we're not going to be able to benefit from. Because for us , to give an example , we contribute into the retirement system knowing that one of the requirements for the retirement is you have to be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident , and as a doctor recipient , we don't get that status. There is no path to citizenship or to become a legal permanent resident. So we contribute into a system knowing we're not going to be able to get a single dollar out from. That's just another one of the limitations. The other heartbreaking one is that since Trump took away DOCA , we were able to defend it. But Texas is suing again to try to take away DOCA. And because of those efforts , new applications haven't been processed. And every year there are 100,000 undocumented high school students graduating without protection from deportation , without a Social Security number , without the ability to work lawfully. So the same thing that I was hearing when I graduated from high school saying , you know , you're not going to be able to pursue your dreams because you're undocumented. I'm afraid all of these kids are hearing it again as they're trying to plan for their future. They're being told that there is nothing that they can do because they're undocumented. And it's heartbreaking that ten years since the backup program started , we're still in this place. I've been speaking with Jose Garcia , executive director of Border Angels. Del , so thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you so much , Maureen.
S3: And while areas like Equitable Health Care , access and reproductive care have been greatly advanced , the looming Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade has some experts questioning whether the state of women's health in America may be reversing course. Joining me now with more is Dr. Cynthia Stanko , clinical professor of medicine at the University of California , San Diego School of Medicine. And Dr. Stengel , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thank you so much.
S2: I decided at an early age to go into medicine , and I can tell you very clearly that I was extremely aware of the penalties of becoming derailed by an unwanted pregnancy , both by friends and high school women in my college. And it was always kind of looming as an issue. I'm kind of dating myself , if you can estimate that. This happened after I finished some of my training. But I remember very clearly , even in college , going to a health clinic with one of my college friends , and she was aiming to get birth control. And at that time , because there were decisions about birth control , that came just a year before Roe v Wade that said that a woman did not have to be married to be able to get contraception. But our visit to this health program was just before that , and we had to stop at a five and dime in this little town in Ohio so she could buy a gold band and look like she was married in order to get contraception. So when I told the story to young women , they're amazed that even , you know , putting aside all the profound issues about abortion , that many are concerned that one of the more vulnerable areas of women's health could be related to compromise and availability of contraception or the kinds of contraception that are available insurance or health care program payment for contraception. And I am concerned that there will be compromises in some of the new breakthroughs. And , you know , women's health spans , not just medical breakthroughs , but also legislative issues , if women can assume those kind of leadership roles.
S2: And so I think being aware that we may need to consider how we can help women from some of those states being aware that depending where we live , that it may be really more important than ever to be aware and reach out to our state legislators to make certain that while states do still have some control of these arenas , that we are maximizing the potential benefits for women state by state.
S3: So reproductive care is a broad topic that includes everything from equity to accessibility.
S2: But I like to say that reproductive choice enables all the new breakthroughs in , for example , fertility medicine , whether that's making sure that someone who's about to undergo chemotherapy is able to , whether they're saving some ovarian tissue or able to harvest eggs , or if they're in a partnership , able to establish some embryos to be frozen for future pregnancy potential. I mean , it's not just about thinking of interrupting pregnancy. It's the means that we have now to help people form a family. So I think we need to think if we're going to interfere with women's ability to interrupt a pregnancy , if she should have to come to that decision or interfere with contraception , then we're going to have issues with more unwanted pregnancies. And unfortunately , as you mentioned , some of these tend to predominate among women who may have economic compromise or who are in certain racial and ethnic groups. And so we're going to have increasing challenges to make sure that these women have the means for a healthy pregnancy. And then my final concern with that issue is.
S2: I do see this as a reversal in women's health course , and I think the ramifications may be many. A number of people have proposed what the ripple effects may lead to. But , you know , I just look at opportunity cost to young women who have potential , who are bright , who are committed to follow a path that may have that derailed. And especially as we look at any number of health issues like women's cardiovascular health , the leadership I see in the past years are coming from women , cardiologists who have again gained the stature , gained the power to chart the course to help us take better care of women. So I think on multiple arenas , this could be a step backwards for women's health.
S3: I've been speaking with Dr. Cynthia Stoeckel , a clinical professor of medicine at University of California , San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Stoeckle , thanks so much for joining us.
S2: I appreciate it. Thank you.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with M.G. Perez in for Jade Heineman. As Governor Newsom has observed , California's wildfires have become bigger , hotter and more destructive. And it seems some of that destruction extends to firefighters themselves. More fires means more weeks without a day off for firefighters , more risk of injury , more exhaustion , and more bouts of post-traumatic stress. A rash of resignations and an increase in mental health claims against Cal Fire are prompting some renewed concern over staffing levels and firefighter stress. Joining me is Julie Carr , projects and environment reporter with Cal Matters. And Julie , welcome to the program.
S2: Good to be with you , Maureen.
S1: Now , you say about 10% of Cal Fire workers quit last year. How many.
S2: Is that ? It was about 650. And it's difficult to kind of contextualize that because either Cal Fire doesn't keep those numbers or they weren't they didn't make them available to us. But for the last five years , it's been more or less steady , I'm told. And then last year it was this 10% number. So there was something of a spike.
S1: Our firefighters themselves talking about why they're leaving.
S2: They absolutely are. They're exhausted. And these aren't whiney babies. They're talking about just going beyond their capacity to do work. And one thing to remember about Cal Fire is that they are also , for most of California , the local firefighters. So they they operate these stations and answer 911 calls and go out on car accidents and getting cats out of trees and all the things that firefighters do , which means that's a 24 hour day and they're on those shifts for 21 days. And then in addition , they go out on wildfire. So it's it's a lot to expect from people.
S1: Now , on the second of your four part series of stories , you write about Cal Fire Captain Ryan Mitchell from San Diego. You describe him as Superman , the stress he's encountered. He largely kept inside. Tell us about him.
S2: Ryan Mitchell was kind of an archetypal firefighter , six foot four. He he was good at anything as far as being an athlete , a natural leader , just seemingly impervious to anything. And that's what made his suicide such a shock and had reverberations throughout the fire service. So it was just a big surprise that that he was suffering in such a way and certainly didn't let anybody know that.
S2: Anecdotally , that's another example of no data available , just generally in the population. Suicides are an underreported incidence and Cal Fire doesn't track that or keep statistics on suicide. But when you think about how small the employee base of Cal Fire firefighters is , when you hear that there are ten or a dozen in a year , that's an awful lot.
S1: You also write about the experience of Cal Fire Captain Noelle von Miller , and she's struggling with acute post-traumatic stress. We have a little excerpt of of some of what she had to say.
S2: I just got a feeling on the back of my neck. And then as I watched the crown fire.
S1: Came like three.
S2: Or four flame lengths , just a monster. And I believed at that time that I was watching it.
S4: Kill my friends.
S1: Tell us more about her experience.
S2: Well , as describing the kind of monster fires that are more and more common in California. So she's talking about being caught behind the lines of crown fire. So 350 feet. 23 , 24 story building. As far as flames are concerned , you don't fight that. And her story is also an example of how firefighters experience trauma , not directly in terms of being overcome by flames and being in direct danger , but having their colleagues and coworkers experience that and hearing it. I mean , I talk to a lot of firefighters who said they heard things on the radio. They hear people screaming. They hear people calling for help. They hear fire commanders saying , get out , get out and that kind of thing. And that's that's very stressful because you don't know if your friend has died. You sometimes hear them being burned. You hear the injuries. And it's interestingly , it's equally as as traumatic as experiencing it yourself.
S1: Now , Noel eventually agreed to attend a trauma camp , but she actually had trouble getting in.
S2: Why is that ? Well , there are a lot of these facilities that are specific to the needs and the experiences of first responders and firefighters. These are already existing facilities that take on anybody who's got stress. They're there counseling centers , but they have to be kind of retooled for firefighters so that the counselors understand these particular problems and issues. So when she was able finally to get help for herself , she had to she had to make that step. There just weren't any spaces left , and there's just not a lot of specialized care for firefighters.
S1: One fundamental issue in your reports is the lack of adequate staffing among Cal Fire units.
S2: There's $400 million in the budget as it currently exists to address this. There's a few ways to come at it. You can hire more seasonal employees. These are the firefighters who come on during the summer fall fire season and then they they leave. It's really to be divided. They may want to put more money into mental health , more peer counselors , more programs. It's a funny thing. It's not going to be solved just by more firefighters. That will make a very big difference because then there's shifts , the amount of time they're on on call , the amount of time they're working , the line of time they're away from home will be reduced. And they say that that'll make a huge difference.
S2: There needs to be more attention paid. And the many firefighters who talked to me and told me very private , terrible stories about their experiences did so because each one said , I'm talking because we need to get help for everybody. I want everyone to know , as we all know with mental health across the country , that it needs to come out of the darkness and out into the open. So for firefighters , the first step , they say , is to start talking about this , acknowledging it and not stigmatizing these issues.
S1: I've been speaking with Calmatters projects and environment reporter Julie Cowart about her four part series on the mental health crisis in Cal Fire. And Julie , thank you so much.
S2: My pleasure , Maureen.
S1: If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide , you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at one 800 273 talk. For support , information and resources.
S3: Our public discourse is filled with stats. We are bombarded daily with numbers in the millions and billions. Especially where money is involved. If those figures seem hard to comprehend or even imagine , it may be because humans did not evolve to count and multiply. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge spoke with a cognitive scientist about our relationship with numbers.
S5: Sign on to any news website and you'll see him. The million plus votes a winning candidate received , the billion plus dollars found in some state or cities general fund. Those numbers can be hard to relate to , and there is a reason for that. We are a species that had been around on Earth for 250,000 years and numbers have not been around that old. Rafael Nunez is a professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego. He says that while knowledge of numbers doesn't always rely on human literacy , it is a recent invention , and numbers beyond four or five are not even used by all humans on Earth today. Numbers can quickly become confusing and saying , for instance , that a million Americans have died of COVID 19 doesn't mean much to the people who hear it. It becomes an abstraction. And then the abstraction serves many purposes , you know , for doing science , economics and many things , but for really communicating , let's say , in a meaningful way what the tragedy in the case of the sicknesses and the COVID situation to communicate the tragedy. The number itself doesn't provide that. Nunez calls the use of numbers exact quantification. Research by him and others show that humans and other mammals , like dogs and chimps , have evolved to discriminate between different quantities between a lot and a little. But a study of Australian Aboriginal languages showed their numbers had an upper limit of between three and five , without creating symbols that refer to precise numbers. We have no innate ability to count any higher than that. We have a biological apparatus supported by its very specific forms in our nervous system that is has evolved biologically to discriminate these quantities. But discriminating quantities doesn't mean first language. And number two , it doesn't reflect the property of number. It's not a numbers , just a discrimination of quantity. And that inexact discrimination of quantities is something we do all the time. How many people were at that concert ? Not many. Or we might say a lot. A ton. Or even you can use other resources , like , for example , vowel extension and pitch. When you say many , many , many , many , all of those combinations apparently allow us to quantify in the natural world in a very effective way without having to have numbers. Nunez says the fact that we created a system of numbers based on multiples of ten means that certain numbers become milestones. 1 million COVID deaths , for instance. That's ten to the power of six. D Nelson is director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University. Both he and Nunez say the best way for humans to understand numbers is to illustrate them. When I was growing up , it used to be , you know , if you stacked 100 million or $1,000,000,000 , you know , in 20 years or something like that , it would be the Empire State Building. I find those kinds of equivalent , sort of pointless. I think you have to think about it more in purchasing power. Let's say , for instance , the cost of one fighter jet would pay the cost of a thousand person Army battalion for five years. The responsibility for us in journalism is to take numbers that we actually need in order to understand how our society is working or our our city is working. Take those numbers and put them in some kind of a narrative form so that they're comprehensible. Some scholars have argued our ability to distinguish quantities a lot versus a little means humans evolve to create and use numbers. Rafael Nunez disagrees. He says that's like saying our ability to walk and balance on two legs means we evolved to snowboard. But snowboarding requires training and a cultural underpinning , just like it does when we're using numbers. Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.
S1: Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas around 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. And livestock are one of the key emitters. Keepers carry clean takes us to Kerman , a small community west of Fresno , where local dairies are pioneering , promising methane reduction technology. But not everyone is sold on the benefits.
S4: Bar 20 dairy in Kerman puts a premium on being state of the art. It even has electronic platforms for milking cows , but this dairy also produces electricity. A handful of industry reps are giving me a tour.
S4: Tow owner Steve Shehadi tells me it's powered by manure , specifically the methane coming off of manure.
S5: From the.
S3: Fuel cell that goes into the electric grid and interconnects with.
S5: And so extra power goes straight into the grid for everybody in years.
S4: Manure is responsible for about a quarter of the state's methane emissions. Cattle burps are a major source to add to the fuel cell is powered by an anaerobic digester which traps the majority of methane from the dairies. Manure. Here's how the digester works. Manure that would typically be stored in an open lagoon is instead funneled into a lined and covered basin. It's the size of 40 Olympic swimming pools.
S5: We want to work to not recommend it at all for swimming.
S4: The methane , which puffs up the cover like a balloon , is siphoned off to the fuel cell where it's converted to electricity. Digesters around California are estimated to have already prevented more than a million tons of emissions. But as they've advanced , the state and the bodies have found themselves fending off criticism of the technology. That's despite the fact that the state touts it as one of California's most cost effective climate change fighting tools.
S5: You can clean the air and produce renewable power for the state , I mean , especially as we're.
S3: Converting to more usages.
S5: For electricity. It seems like a great solution.
S4: Digesters are a fast growing business. In 2015 , the state had funded six of them. By 2020 , that number had skyrocketed to 117. But that growth is what worries community advocates. Dairies with digesters receive financial credits for the emissions they capture. It works like cap and trade , but advocates are calling on state air officials to stop offering credits for digesters. Here's Phoebe Seaton , co-founder of the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability.
S2: Any program that actually incentivizes the creation.
S1: Of methane and also the perpetuation of that.
S2: Unequal kind of local.
S1: And regional burdens of dairies is problematic.
S4: Air officials estimate that meeting the state's climate goals would require constructing another 200 digesters by 2030. But Michael Boca d'Oro , a lobbyist and executive director of the nonprofit Dairy Cares , warns that losing emissions credits would kill those projects and export our environmental challenges.
S5: Dairies won't be able to get the projects built. Cows end up on new halls and they end up moving to another state where the problem is going to be exacerbated. So less regulation , less efficient production , higher methane , higher building.
S4: Credits can amount to millions of dollars each year for some dairies. But Boka d'Oro points out that engineering firms , developers and other companies all get a slice of those profits , too. According to Steve Shehadeh , the bar 20 digester add fuel cell will cost $13 million. So the prospect of annual credits did grease the wheels. But he also considers that income as a matter of survival as he grapples with other existential threats like drought , water restrictions and the rising costs of energy and fertilizer.
S3: This week , Zachary Patterson is among the graduates of the Class of 2022. He graduated Tuesday afternoon from University City High School. Later this month , he steps down as the first student member of the San Diego Unified Board of Education , a position he helped create and started campaigning for. Even before he became a high school freshman. I've had the opportunity to cover his tenure with the school board over the past year , and I'm happy to welcome him. Now to mid-day. Zachary Patterson , High School graduate. Welcome and congratulations.
S5: Thank you , M.G. Thank you for having me.
S3: So , Zach , let's start with the big day. Tell us about your graduation.
S5: Well , what an incredible day I got to experience. So to begin with , as a member of the Board of Education , I get the honor to confer diplomas and certificates of promotion to other schools. So I started out my day at my local middle school , Stanley Middle School , as the member of the Board of Education , conferring the certificates of promotion. My big message to students that morning was , Look , I was in your shoes just four years ago. And just five years ago at this school in my history teacher's room , I had my first meeting with the school district , and that said I wanted to change. I wanted to see a reality that's different from the status quo and adding a student to the school board and creating an advisory board. And I spoke to these students and shared that with them how exciting it was to be able to come back and to share the excitement that for the first time ever in our school district , an active student was able to confer a certificate of promotion.
S3: As I mentioned , you helped create that position of student board member.
S5: I always say that we as students are 100% of the stakeholders and those being served in the education system , and we are 0% of those making decisions on behalf of students. That's an incredible disconnect. And it's really at its core , it's an undemocratic system. I said that I wanted to do something different and I didn't quite know what that was at the time. But I did what , as I say , any good third grader would do. And I emailed what was then trustee John Lee Evans to create an advisory board. And that got me started in my first meeting with the district , which would take me to almost six years later now where I am today.
S3: So you've been a very vocal member of the school board with some significant issues you championed. Let's start with mental health. Tell us about your accomplishments on the board in that area.
S5: Some of my really main motivations , talking about my good friend John , who I ran cross-country with , who passed away a few years ago , died by suicide. And the really awful reality that I didn't know how I could have done anything different. And I don't think a lot of people knew how they could have done anything different. Then I said to myself.
S2: That doesn't make sense.
S5: It's not enough sometimes to just tell a trusted adult , but what is enough is being able to actively support your friends , support your peers , and recognize how you can get through challenges yourself. So we can now say that when somebody breaks the bone , when somebody feels physically sick , that is the same code in the attendance as having a mental health challenge.
S3: So , Zach , you're going to be replaced by not one , but two students who will serve on the board in the coming school year.
S5: It's very , very exciting. Our first student is Leah Nepomuceno of Scripps Ranch High School. She is coming in. She'll be an incoming 12th grader and she is a very , very seasoned member of the district , the student team. She's also the youth spokesperson for the John Hopkins Center on Gun Violence Prevention. Then we have Matthew Vitorino. He's an incoming sophomore at San Diego High School. Matthew's also been involved in the deaf industry activism. He's a part of a program called the Erin Price Fellows , very active in the local community. He has some great goals as well , so I'm very excited for both of them to come through and continue on this work that I've worked to start. The reason we're looking to move to to board members is the idea of having an odd numbered board. We wanted to move to seven and we recognized that expanding to two student members would increase that representation and also most importantly , ensure that we get a broad variety of voices. Obviously , the true reality is you can't fully represent every single student , but hopefully two can do that a little bit better than one. That was an idea that came forth from Trustee PEREIRA and myself in conversations , and I'm very excited to sit. Actually come into play.
S5: To know where you're going , you have to know where you've come from.
S3: I've been talking with Zachary Patterson , outgoing student school board member , and now high school graduate. Thanks for being here , Zach.
S5: Thank you.
S3: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maggie Perez with Maureen CAVANAUGH. Last week , San Diego Repertory Theater announced it would be suspending operations. Then on Friday , the cast of its recently closed show , The Great Con , released a statement on social media alleging racism and misogyny at the 46 year old theater. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO has been reporting on the story and she joins me now with more. Beth , welcome.
S6: Thank you.
S3: To give some context , when the rep's production of the great Conte closed in March , the six person cast delivered a statement to the audience about their experience. Written by actress Mikayla Bartholomew at the final curtain call. It was recorded by an audience member. Here is a part of that statement as read by the cast member , Jerome Beck.
S5: We made this.
S2: Statement as a cast and crew that.
S5: Has been set subject to mistreatment , much of it.
S2: Disproportionately impacting the black team members on this show over.
S5: The last two months. And while Broad and wild brought us all together and exhausted us , depleted us. But we hope that it sparks a lasting.
S2: Change in this theater.
S3: Then on Friday , the group shared a letter on Instagram in response to news of the rep suspending all operations.
S6: They say they were subjected to , quote , racism , misogyny , misogyny , noire discrimination and disrespect , racial profiling of hired artists , physical intimidation and ill care following injury while working at the rep.
S3: You had email exchanges with MacLeod and Bartholomew.
S6: So when the rep announced it was going on hiatus because of a cash flow problem , they wanted to once again and more forcefully say that the rep has had other issues and still has other issues that need to be addressed and fixed if they are to reopen.
S5: Our goal remains and we have much work to do towards this goal to become a fully inclusive , equitable , anti-racist , multi-cultural organization.
S3: The rep was founded by Woodhouse with the goal of highlighting diverse voices. In recent years , the rep launched the Latin X New Play Festival , as well as the Black Voices Play Reading Series. In fact , playwright Michael Jean Sullivan's The Great Con emerged from the Black Voices series. The theater has very publicly supported diversity and has showcased bipoc artists.
S6: It has been a space where artists of color have been able to start their careers or work on projects. But what this recent group of artists has very forcefully pointed out is the fact that more privately in terms of how they deal with cast , with crew , with staff , that's where the rep is falling short , that they're not hearing the complaints that are coming , especially from these particular cast members of the Great Con. And they said that they've provided emails , phone conversations , in-person conversations and had some of the issues addressed by some of the staff. But I think where they feel the rep has been falling short is kind of taking a public informal ownership of what happened and responding specifically to their complaints.
S3: So Beth , the Rep , Lauria Playhouse and the Old Globe together produce a bi weekly show called We Are Listening , a live salon about black artists experiences in the theater industry. And this week the final episode aired. The guest on the show and its hosts all have connections to the San Diego Theater and the Rep.
S6: And these conversations are out there for anyone to listen to. And so it's interesting that the rep has let those complaints against them be aired on the show. Three of the cast members from the Great Khans spoke up on the salon in March before making that closing night statement. But on Monday night , the salon brought on people who have worked with the rep over the years and co-host Charcoal Kitchen of the Playhouse tried to put these recent complaints into a bigger context. And part of that context is the fact that the cast of the Great Con were a number of artists who came from outside of the rep community and outside of San Diego Theater. And so she made a point of saying that it took these people with kind of outside eyes and not a closely linked experience to the rep over the years to kind of point out some of these things that maybe other people were turning a blind eye to or just kind of saying , well , that's just the way things are done.
S1: And so it got conversations.
S5: Happening within the.
S2: Community of. What.
S5: What.
S2: Sweep under the rug ? Because that's how it's always been done.
S3: So another chapter of the story that we do not want to overlook is all the people losing their jobs because the rep is suspending operations and laying off all of its staff.
S6: And apparently some of those people were hired only recently and some moved here for a job. So we are listening co-host Ahmed Kenyatta Dance , who is the rep's director of venue experience. He acknowledged those people on the final episode of The Salon on Monday night , and he also addressed how the rep continues to seem deaf to some of the issues raised and in particular to the current concerns of black artists. So dance will no longer be employed by the rep after June 19th , which also happens to be the federal holiday commemorating emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. And he referenced an event the theater will be holding on June 20th.
S5: I notice invitations sent out about toasting to celebrate the whatever and whatever to wherever and all the artists and colleagues have come through here. I get it. I understand it should be some type of celebration. I feel you have a drink for me. Cannot be too campy. I can't be that good. So many people working hard right now. So many people this is affecting. Going out the door is the day after we're getting laid off and his jokes , he can't beat it.
S3: The Reb Theater will close later this week , but Woodhouse has said there may be a future for this organization.
S6: And you know , with all that has happened recently , we can hope that this time they are hearing things that are being said and that if the theater or when the theater reopens , that those things will be taken into account in terms of how the actual organization functions behind the scenes , because they've done a good job of presenting a public front of supporting diversity. They have done a good job of showcasing artists of color and putting on plays like The Great Con , but they also need to address problems of , you know , what's going on internally in the institution.
S3: For more on this story , go to I've been speaking to KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO. Beth , thank you.
S6: Thank you.

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