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Mayors Announced Agenda for Green and Just Recovery After Pandemic; Joe Biden Plans to Invest $3 Trillion on Clean Jobs and Infrastructure; Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Mayor LaToya Cantrell are Interviewed About a Better World After the Pandemics; Racial Wealth Gap; Republican Voters Against Trump. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 15, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Mayors of the world unite to build a better fairer world out of the COVID and racism pandemics. I'm joined by two of these leaders from New Orleans
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG: I'm tired of being embarrassed.
MONICA: I had been riddled with guilt.
MARIE: I am ashamed to this day for voting for him.
TOMMY: We've had enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: These are Republicans talking about their president. Sarah Longwell, co-founder of Republican Voters Against Trump is on the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEHRSA BARADARAN, PROFESSOR, UC IRVINE SCHOOL OF LAW: Insofar as the market is coated with racism, capitalism is not going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "The Color of Money," Mehrsa Baradaran tells our Michel Martin how the banking system shuts out black communities.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
We must not return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic. That is the message from the world's most powerful mayors today as they announce their
agenda for a green and just recovery. The task force released a road map for cities to tackle inequality, as well as the climate crisis throughout
the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. And as the disease deepens, they're not the only ones going all in on a green recovery. Democratic presidential
candidate, Joe Biden, announcing his own plan to invest $2 trillion over four years on clean jobs and infrastructure. Listen to how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These investments are a win-win-win for this country, creating jobs, cutting energy costs, protecting our
climate. That's why today I'm releasing my plan to mobilize millions of jobs by building sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, joining me now are two mayors whose cities are at different ends of this coronavirus pandemic. From Milan is Mayor Giuseppe Sala. He is
chair of the global task force, and his city is gradually recovering after Italy, you remember, became the European epicenter of the disease. And from
New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the first women in the job in 300 years. And New Orleans is currently closing down bars once again as
coronavirus cases surge.
So, welcome to the program both of you mayors from very different parts of the world as I sort of outline.
Can I first ask you, Mayor Sala, because I think the whole world, certainly the United States, took care and a lot of warning of what was going on in
your country and particular in Milan, and indeed the first cases that came to the East Coast of America came from Italy. Just describe how you're
doing there. Are you completely out of lockdown?
MAYOR GIUSEPPE SALA, MILAN, ITALY: More or less. Now, the situation -- we have situation is under control. We don't know for how long, for how many
weeks or months, but now the situation is honestly under control. So, we are inviting the people to come back to a sort of normality. Is it
difficult for me because we had 2,000 deaths and so, it is not simple. But now -- so, this is the reason for -- we check. It is difficult for me to
say that we have an opportunity to recover in a different way. It is not an opportunity but it is an obligation because we have to come back to a new
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting, that way you call it an obligation and not just an opportunity. Let me just quickly ask you, Mayor
Cantrell, in New Orleans. I mean, obviously, the world is looking at the United States, which is the current epicenter along with Latin America, and
there's been a surge also in your state, Louisiana, and as I said, you're closing down some bars and other things in New Orleans. How worried are you
that this phase 1, because we're still in the first wave of this, may very much not be controlled?
MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-LA), NEW ORLEANS: Well, first, thank you for having me and Mayor Sala. In regards to being worried, absolutely. The City
of New Orleans was the epicenter, a hot spot, in the United States right at March-April. And the City of New Orleans, we came into this as a deficit in
regards to (INAUDIBLE) populations of people of those living with health disparities. But we were able to flatten that curve by 96 percent,
significantly coming out of community spread.
We moved from phase 1 to phase 2, and we are now seeing some reverse -- some -- we're taking -- we're moving in the wrong direction. We are not
back into community spread, we don't want to go back there, and that is exactly why I've had to put more restrictions, for example, on bars,
although I did allow for them to open, not at full capacity, but open in the second phase.
The new cases that we are seeing are directly aligned with the bars and the activity that happens at bars. And so, the governor took a step in the
right direction, closing bars. And so, I am very excited about that considering that New Orleans is the destination place in the State of
Louisiana and have a lot of bars, but at the same time, we do not want to go back. So, we're still doing well, but we want to continue to do well,
and it required us to put a halt on bar activity.
AMANPOUR: So, look, both of your cities are very dependent on tourism and the kind of hospitality activities that you're talking about, Mayor
Cantrell. I mean, obviously, Milan as well and much of Italy is reliant on tourism for its economy. So, I guess I want to know whether -- it's quite a
challenge to talk about building back better amid this, you know, terrible pandemic that's also massively hit the bottom line, whether it's city
budgets, individual pocketbooks, et cetera.
Mayor Sala, after being delivered such a body blow with the infections and the deaths, how do you see -- you've talked about an obligation. How do you
even start, as a mayor, getting all the other mayors to build back better? Where does this begin? What does it look like?
SALA: Well, saying we are losing tourism. In Milan we had 10 million tourists in 2019. But, I mean, working on our opportunities, on our
qualities, our universities, our creativity, we have to modify the form of the city, the opportunity of the city. So, now, I was saying obligation
because it is an obligation to create new green jobs. It is an obligation to improve public transportation or to create a new cycle line. So, that is
the reason for which even from an investment point of view, we believe that moving to a different direction, it is -- it could be an opportunity.
And one crucial point that cities cannot do it alone. So, we are requesting the nation, our government, the institutional -- I mean, the international
institution to support our actions. To give an example, you know that the European Community is financing the countries, and we are asking the
community, Europe, to finance into end all the public subside to fossil fuel and that they only serve stimulus -- be a green stimulus and we are
asking them to support, get the support, should go directly to sustainable city, because the city is applying this rule.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that is really important. Obviously, the E.U. have made a big deal about their Green New Deal and we've heard that word, also,
Mayor Cantrell, in the United States. I mean, short of calling it that, Vice President Biden, the Democratic candidate, has really thrown down a
massive package that has drawn a lot of praise even from the most progressive in the party.
Can you tell me, though, you know, how you think it will work, sort of the green recovery which you're all talking about? Because you have -- you
know, if Biden doesn't win, even mayors, how will they be able to do it given you have so much hostility from President Trump, and even now, he is
rolling back, you know, regulations when it comes to environmental regulations.
CANTRELL: Well, you know, mayors were on the front lines, right. We're on the ground. And we have been focused on climate change, climate action. We
have been focused on renewable energy platforms, being greener, being cleaner, because it's the right thing to do.
Climate change is real in a city like New Orleans and, you know, flooding due to rain water and the weather patterns have changed, the rate of rain
has increased, the rain bombs are real. And so, regardless of who the president is, on the ground in my city, a green infrastructure and living
with water is a priority. And it was a priority pre-COVID, and it will continue to be one.
So, we're doing the work right now, whether that is ensuring that we're building more green and blue infrastructure to hold rain water, freeing it
up from going into our drains, and more importantly, from getting into the homes of our people, keeping our people safe as it relates to renewable
energy platforms or making sure that our people can keep that bear out of their pocket and keep the dollar in is a program we call solar for all, one
If we can get into someone's home, where they live, make it more energy efficient, making -- and improving the air quality in which they're living
in, therefore, it impacts their health in a positive way, and again, keeping that dollar in their pocket because the economics of our families
and of our people are just -- it is critical.
So, to Mayor Sala's point about saying, hey, this isn't about an opportunity, it's about an obligation, I agree with him 100 percent. Mayor,
I'm going to take that away from you and we're going to share it together. Because when we know our cities are destination cities. We know, like New
Orleans, we had 18 million visitors in our community last year in 2019. So, the impact on our bottom line and the taxes that we're not receiving, it's
a real thing.
But more importantly, it's our obligation to diversify our economy to get more of our people connected to jobs with higher than a livable wage so
that they can build wealth, transferrable wealth, and be better because of it. This virus disproportionately impacted the people in this city, and the
majority -- now, I've lost 543 residents in my city. 404 of them are African-American. That's an example disproportionately impacted, but those
who are living with also health or underlying health conditions. And all tied to it is the economics. So, obligation, you're right, Mayor.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because one of the obligations, obviously, you know, first it was the pandemic that got so many people talking about
building back better, and then it was the pandemic of racism which reared its terrible, ugly head again in the killing of George Floyd.
And you do mention that COVID has shown and exposed how the most vulnerable, like the African-Americans in America, the minority communities
and, indeed, around the world in Italy, in Britain and other places, those on the front lines of this crisis were the worst hit, and those with the
So, Mayor Sala, I want to ask you very quickly before I go back to talk about the economics of this. Do you also see having to emerge -- you know,
not just build back better in terms of cycle lanes and things like that, but also in terms of justice, in terms of trying to reduce the inequality
gap, trying to level the playing field of the racial divide, because it exists in Europe as well as in the United States.
SALA: It is a problem. First of all, let me say again, I cannot pronounce the word opportunity but the Italians have an understanding of how
(INAUDIBLE) can contribute to our system, for this and the agriculture. And now, in south, for instance, we are suffering because we are missing a
normal flow of migrants, and that is a reality.
So, you know, sometimes the politician discusses about many, many silly things and focus on the problem. This is a problem, in any case, in the
cities. Problem number one is unemployment. Milan entered into the crisis with an unemployment rate, let me say, of 6, 7 percent. Now, it is maybe
the dart ball (ph). And so, that is a reason for which we have to find a new solution.
From this point of view, at the end of the day, the cities more or less are facing the same problem, and that is the reason for which (INAUDIBLE)
community decided to work together and allowing myself or Mayor Cantrell to learn from each other and implement the right action towards a green and
AMANPOUR: So, look, we have seen, certainly in the United States, where this administration has been hostile to the idea of environmental policy
and it has, you know, supported the fossil fuel industry to the expense of the more sustainable energy outlets. And I just want to, you know, put the
economic point forward that Vice President Biden made. I just want to play this from his announcement yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: These are the most critical investments we can make for the long- term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people. When Donald Trump thinks about
climate change, the only word he can muster is hoax. When I think about climate change, the word I think of is jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, both mayors, I want to ask you, but you first, Mayor Cantrell, because in the United States it's a much more difficult -- it's a
difficult message to convince, you know, most of the people that actually a huge economic opportunity can come from climate jobs and a green recovery.
We had The World Economic Forum say today that a nature-led recovery could add, you know, $10 trillion to economies.
So, how much of a challenge is it for you, Mayor Cantrell, to try to get that message to people? And is it reaching people, the fact that this could
actually bring jobs to those who desperately need them?
CANTRELL: Well, you know what, I think that people have to see And in the City of New Orleans with these green and blue infrastructure projects that
are happening, they're seeing in real-time the impact not only that it has on the communities in which they live in, meaning it's holding millions of
gallons of water that's not going into their homes, so that catches your attention.
But also when you tie that to real jobs and allowing people to earn higher than a living wage where they can have access to quality health care,
that's showing them, and that's providing them with the training and tools that they need to take advantage of these green and blue job opportunities
that are, again, real. So, I believe that when we continue to show and demonstrate to people that they're real and people start seeing a change,
meaning an economic shift, more of our people earning a living wage, more of our people being able to build wealth, transferrable wealth, that sends
a message not only to their family but to the community that's seeing that happen. So, when they can benefit and they see the benefit, you bring
people along. And it doesn't just come with talk, it's action.
AMANPOUR: And actually, I mean, we might point out the Edelman Trust Barometer says that mayors, certainly in the United States, have a very
high trust level amongst people right now no matter what's going on. But right now, you certainly do. And, of course, you speak about rogue water
with such passion because you, you know, live in the state that was devastated in the city by Hurricane Katrina and you did a lot of work
building back out of that.
So, let me just finish with you, Mayor Sala, in Milan. You know, I guess I just want to know from you whether you feel that this moment, this sort of
tipping point moment that many people are hoping it will be will persist. You know, will this goodwill continue to try to build back better? Will the
funds really be there? Will you be able to do it or are you just going to be struggling to survive after the massive economic hit the whole world has
taken during this man pandemic?
SALA: I believe that the people is understanding that business as usual is happening now, and it is necessary to bring back the cities. Now, let me
say, the only way to modify the social environment, our social life, is to work on cities. This is the crucial point and we are convinced. So, that is
the reason for which we have career activity, we have fantasy, we have the universities.
So, there are so many reasons for which it makes sense to point on the cities. And let me say, now, even before the COVID, the discussion in my
city, in Milan, was about the future, and the question was from the people, how we are imagining Milan 2030? And normally, the older people will talk
about the environment. So, that is the reason, because now is the time.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, it is very much an election issue around the world. So, Mayor Sala, Mayor Cantrell, thank you very much indeed for
Now, in much of the world, of course, elections determine the direction of any city or any country. And the surging coronavirus infections in the
United States are shaping the course of the presidential election campaign. But the chaotic response was again highlighted by an extraordinary and
rambling Rose Garden press conference yesterday that people are still talking about, where the president seemed to meander from China's threat to
Hong Kong to coronavirus to then attacking his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
But Mr. Trump doesn't actually have to look across the aisle for his opponents. Groups like Republican Voters Against Trump are springing up and
trying to convince party members and voters to abandon this president with testimonials and ads, like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG: I'm tired of being embarrassed.
MONICA: I had been riddled with guilt.
MARIE: I am ashamed to this day for voting for him.
TOMMY: We've had enough.
CHARLES: Voting for Donald Trump has been a monumental mistake.
CONNOR: I'll take anybody over him.
ALBERT: I'm voting for Joe Biden.
TOMMY: Joe Biden.
RYAN: Donald Trump has to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's okay to change your mind. We did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And it could be working. This new poll from Monmouth University shows the president trailing by in Pennsylvania, a key state, of course,
and it was key to his 2016 victory which he eeked out just narrowly.
Joining me now is the co-founder of Republican Voters Against Trump, she's Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and long-time Republican. And she
joins us from Washington D.C.
Sarah Longwell, you know right now it's meant to be all hands-on deck and all Republicans trying to -- I guess in any normal cycle it would be -- all
party members trying to get their president elected, getting all excited about the convention and the rest. And it looks to be very much the
opposite. Even the conventions, you know, big names are sort of dropping out, you know, very, very rapidly. How did you come to this point where
you've actually got a whole organization of Republicans against a Republican president?
SARAH LONGWELL, CO-FOUNDER, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: Well, you know, I've been out on the president since the moment he came down the
escalator. And ever since he was elected, I've been thinking about how do you defeat this most unfit president? And I wondered, as a lot of
Republicans did, what made Republicans vote for him?
And so, for the last three years, I've been doing focus groups with what I would call sort of reluctant Trump voters, soft Trump supporters as I think
about what we do with the party going forward, and has it been totally hijacked by this sort of nationalist, populist president. And as things
went on, and as you just saw him, you know, capture the party more and more, you also saw another thing happen, which was the party got smaller,
In 2018, we saw a number of especially suburban women walk away from the party and vote for Democrats that led them to flip 40 House seats. And as I
looked toward 2020 in the research, I really thought, well, what is most persuasive? What would cause people to walk away from Donald Trump? And the
answer was real stories from people like them. There is a real permission structure aspect or a social warming prospect to the way people think about
Trump and even about politics. You know, it's very tribal.
And so, when Republican voters who right now are as demoralized as they could possibly be because we are sitting, you know, not at a place where
there is a rock solid economy but instead double-digit unemployment, a health crisis that is not being managed, a racial crisis that the president
is pouring gasoline on. And so, we went and found all of these people who may have voted for Trump in 2016 but were saying, I'm not going to vote for
him again in 2020. And we encouraged them to tell those stories and then we're going to show them to other people, because there is -- and really,
this category of soft Trump supporters, because we're finding there are so many people in this moment who, even though they were with the president
for a long time, are starting to rethink things.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you to sort of almost go back to the beginning a little bit or step back a little bit. Because you say you were against
him from the moment of that escalator. And there were many prominent members of the Republican Party, we can list, you know, who said the same
thing, that unfit for presidency, et cetera, et cetera.
But then, you know, who by inauguration day seemed to be changing their minds. And people like yourself seemed to be, again, on the outs in terms
of being behind the president and being in the heart of the Republican Party. I guess, you know, describe that moment when all these people -- I
guess, have you been looking for leaders inside the party to do what you're doing?
LONGWELL: Yes. I mean, the way I would describe that moment is it really has been an invasion of the body snatchers type of experience. You just
look at a person like Lindsey Graham who is a politician I always thought very well of. You know, he's kind of a moderate. To see him go from
somebody who was John McCain's sidekick to being the president's -- one of his most ardent supporters has just been -- it's like living in the upside
down. It's been crazy to watch so many of these Republicans that I've long admired become complicit. And I think the reason that they do that is
really just an interest in proximity to power.
And, look, back in -- for a long time, we looked for somebody that we thought would maybe primary the president. We thought there was a realistic
option for that and you heard names being kicked around back in 2017, 2018, people like Larry Hogan. But ultimately, you know, as time went on, the
president's grip on the party absolutely got stronger, and it really felt like nobody was going to sort of rise up to beat him.
And that's why the moment when Mitt Romney actually stood up during impeachment and voted to impeach was both in some ways a heartening moment
to see at least one Republican do it, but in another way, it was devastating to see, with so many -- the facts being so clear, to have just
Republicans refuse to sort of stand up in that moment, and I think that was pretty heartbreaking, actually, for a lot of Republicans, in my position,
you know, who really admire people like Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski just to see them just not put the guardrails on this president. It's been
hard to watch.
And so, I think that the only option that we are left with is not only does Trump need to be defeated in 2020, but he needs to be defeated
resoundingly. I just -- you can't let the party learn all these bad lessons from the Trump time, that it's OK to lie, that it's OK to be corrupt.
You know, if we're going to have any chance ever of taking the party back and establishing it as a center right governing party that is responsible,
then Donald Trump and Trumpism have to be thoroughly repudiated in this election, which is why I think you're seeing so many Republicans stand up
in this moment and actively work against the party unapologetically, just not scared to do it, because it's the right thing to do at this time.
AMANPOUR: You know, you mentioned about the support. I mean, he does still maintain upwards of about 80 percent support among Republicans. I wonder
where you -- there is an extraordinary graphic, it shows a graph of the approval rating, in other words, how people see the direction and whether
they're satisfied with the direction of the country. And it was about 55 percent amongst Republicans in 2017, shortly around the inauguration time,
and it's plummeted.
Look at that steep, steep drop off to now at about 19 percent. Obviously, Democrats and the others, you know, you can imagine where their curve would
be. But look at that amongst Republicans, do you attribute that specifically to the coronavirus, to the terrible surge of, you know, racism
in America? Well, not the surge, but the re-exposure of racism in America since the death of George Floyd. What has turned that lot against the
LONGWELL: Yes. So, it's actually pretty simple. I think it's about personal consequences. You know, for the last few years, you know, people -
- like I said, I do a lot of these focus groups. People just start paying a ton of attention to the day-to-day sort of craziness of Trump the way that
a lot of people who are involved in politics do. And so, you know, they're just not, I think, turned off the same way. But the crisis, the health
crisis, which is compounded then by an economic crisis, and then on top of that a racial crisis, all of that had really has personal consequences for
And so I have heard a lot of people say, hey, I was fine on Trump until the coronavirus hit, and then it became a matter of life and death, and the
stakes were too high, and it seems like he doesn't care.
I mean, when you just think about the juxtaposition of so many people right now thinking about, what am I going to do about sending my kids back to
school, or that people are still living in their basements to work every day, and you have got a president who's focused on monuments?
I mean, I love the Washington Monument as much as the next person, but that's not really central to people's lives at the moment. And for the
president to just sort of check out, wave the white flag, I think that people -- I mean, you see his numbers on the coronavirus and his approval
of the handling.
They're incredibly low, because he's not doing a good job. I mean, I think what the never-Trumpers were always afraid of was it, he was unfit for this
big job. And I think what the rest of the country is seeing now is, when you're in a crisis moment or a multiple crisis moment, he's really unfit
for the moment.
AMANPOUR: Sarah, a lot of Republicans who were initially never-Trumpers really liked him because they liked his tax -- tax reform and tax cuts for
the wealthy. They liked his Supreme Court nominations. They liked all that kind of stuff.
So they stuck with him. I guess what I'm trying to say is, this has been a long time coming. I mean, Republicanism has essentially laid down this
route for a figure like Donald Trump.
You had even one of your co-founders, William Kristol, of RVAT, he was supporting Sarah Palin, as you remember, that incredibly disruptive vice
presidential choice of John McCain. I just wonder whether you think that the party itself has had a hand in where your party is today?
LONGWELL: Yes, I think there's some of that.
But I also think something bigger is happening in the country. I mean, I think we're seeing kind of a populist surge. I mean, you look at Bernie
Sanders on the left. And there's this -- there's this kind of populist moment that's happening in America where people don't trust elites. They
are skeptical of all information.
I mean, when I talk to these voters all the time, they never know who to trust. And so I think the populist moment is bigger than just one
candidate. And I think the Democrats, though, have done a better job of holding the populist momentum on their side at bay.
And that is evidenced by the fact that they nominated a -- I mean, he's a relative moderate, let's say, certainly compared to the rest of his field,
whereas the Republican Party was sort of ripe to be hijacked.
I think that Donald Trump saw an opening, and it was certainly an opening that I wouldn't have seen. I was -- that's one of the reasons I started
doing the focus groups, because I was so caught off-guard by a Republican Party that would tolerate that level of talking about Mexican judges, and
all kind -- even just tolerate somebody who was such a conspiracy theorist, I mean, going back to Barack Obama's birth certificate.
I think what happened is, is that strain always existed in the Republican Party, but it wasn't the dominant strain. And it has become the dominant
strain. And so, yes, I think that there's something that was that was there at the core that maybe some of us didn't see and certainly didn't see how
dangerous it could be in the hands of Donald Trump.
But I don't think it's just limited -- I think you're seeing it around the globe with populism. And so I think what's what's important to me, in part,
about defeating Donald Trump and why I'm glad to support somebody like Joe Biden is, I think that it's time to double down on liberal democracy,
because that -- and have America continue to be a beacon for that in the world, because I think the entire world is getting a bit on shaky ground
AMANPOUR: Well, so, can I ask you, because you, obviously, also are a Log Cabin Republican. And you fought for equality in -- certainly in gay rights
and the like.
But, again, the Republicans have made a career of, certainly in modern times, wedge issues, all those issues that we're talking about, whether
it's race, whether it's sexuality, whatever it might be. It's not just populism. It's wedge issues as well.
Do you think that, as you say, if he is beaten, and beaten bad, that the Republicans might change and not be so wedgie and not drive a stake, as
they have been accused of certainly under this administration, between people?
LONGWELL: Yes, I mean, I agree with some of that analysis, where -- but I do think all elections, to some degree, are about wedge issues, but I very
much agree with the idea that people have used, in this case, LGBT issues back in the Bush years, as a way to divide people.
And one of the reasons that I was as involved in Republican politics is that I wanted to make the Republican Party more inclusive. And I think,
when Mitt Romney lost in 2012, there was a real push. You might remember that autopsy that got put together. And I actually thought there was this
real opportunity for the Republican Party to become a more inclusive party, to try to reach out to minorities, to try to reach out to women.
But it has gone the absolutely opposite direction, where it is now basically a white working-class men's party, and that is a demographically
unsustainable party. There is not a big enough coalition there to deliver the kind of margins you need to win big elections.
And so I do think that if Joe Biden just absolutely demolishes Donald Trump, that it will send an important message to the Republican Party that
they pulled a rabbit out of the hat in 2016, but that they have been trending in the wrong direction for a long time, and that if they don't
rethink the party in its entirety and what it stands for -- I mean, look, you can't have a party that is just an opposition party, that is just, hey,
we're here to save you from the far left Democrats.
When I became a Republican or when I was attracted to conservative thinking, it was because conservatives and Republicans stood for something.
And I just see so much less of that these days. It's really just, hey, we're not them.
And that is not a winning message long-term. And so, yes, I think that the party -- my hope is, is that a massive Biden victory -- and that's not
assured, also, I will tell you -- but that a massive Biden victory will force the kind of reckoning needed in the party.
AMANPOUR: Fascinating, and certainly fascinating to hear from a Republican how you are targeting Republican voters. And, of course, your colleagues at
The Lincoln Project are doing the same or similar, and trying to go all the way down-ballot as well.
So, we will wait, and we will watch. And thank you so much for joining us on this.
Now, the data shows that the median white family has 10 times more wealth than the average black family.
Our next guest, Mehrsa Baradaran, is a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. In her award-winning book "The Color of Money: Black
Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap," she examines how black communities have been systematically shut out of the banking system, a big brick in the wall
of structural racism.
Our Michel Martin has been examining these issues even before the current crises that are sweeping America. But this conversation just shows how
prescient these warnings have been.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Professor Mehrsa Baradaran, thank you so much for talking to us.
MEHRSA BARADARAN, AUTHOR, "THE COLOR OF MONEY: BLACK BANKS AND THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP": Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: So, your latest book is called "The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap."
It is specifically about the role of black banks. But your work is so much more than that. One of the things that you say in the book is that the
wealth gap is where historic injustice breeds present suffering, that this was rooted not just in slavery, but in the history immediately following
How does slavery, which ended in 1865, have present-day consequences?
BARADARAN: One of the things I try to do in the book is to look at the myths that we tell ourselves about sort of American capitalism and then
kind of show the reality and show the gap between, right?
So the myth is that, once slavery was ended, there was sort of capitalism and free markets and that, since then, there has been equality.
And the reality is, on the economic front, the American markets were not open and capitalistic and free, right, specifically in the protection of
black property, which was never there, exclusion from certain jobs and markets.
So, after the Civil War and emancipation, instead of getting land, the free slaves did not get -- right, did not get land. They got this savings bank.
They put their money in the savings bank, trusting it, thinking that it was backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government, which it was
not. It was advertised to be. And they lost half their wages.
And this is in a time of heavy segregation and sharecropping, right? Sharecropping is an arrangement that is a debt arrangement. It was
basically freed slaves going back to the plantation, some of which they had just sort of escaped from, and growing cotton, in the same way they did
under slavery, except for they were no longer slaves. They were sharecroppers of the land. They were tenants.
That was not a wealth-building mechanism. Meanwhile, a lot of white Southerners and Westerners and Easterners were able to get benefits from
the Homestead Act.
If you look at the 1934 era of New Deal measures, those are much more consequential to today. So, what the 1934 FHA and G.I. bills did is sort of
cement that racial segregation into law and policy.
And what they did is go around drawing risk maps around the country. So this is before credit scoring or anything like that. And they said, look,
if you live in this certain neighborhood, the risks are low, your property is going to gain value. And so we're going to ensure your mortgage.
And the way that they determined those neighborhoods is how white they were. So, if you live in a white neighborhood, and it continues and remains
white, then you get your mortgage insured by the federal government. If you live in a black neighborhood or one that is what they called racially
inharmonious, meaning there were other races living aside each other, then you were in a high-risk neighborhood, which meant that your mortgage was
not going to be insured.
So those maps are followed by banks and by private lenders well into 1950s, 1960s. And you have contracts, housing contracts, putting racial covenants
in the contract. You have HOAs, you have got neighborhood associations really just enforcing the boundaries of their neighborhood and excluding
black and brown people.
MARTIN: You make the argument that credit really creates wealth and that, if African-Americans are locked out of the credit system, it keeps them
poor. Why is that?
BARADARAN: So, I want to distinguish between good credit and bad credit, right?
So the good credit, the FHA loans, the G.I. Bills, the kind of stuff that is government-subsidized guaranteed low-risk credit, a 30-year fixed-rate
mortgage, things like, that's good credit, right? So now you can pay. If you have a little down payment, you can pay basically less than you're
paying in rent, and you're building equity in a house.
That's a good mortgage credit that builds wealth, because then you're taking that little equity, that down payment that you put down, and
creating wealth, because your property's going to increase if it's in a certain neighborhood. Or a student loan that is low-cost, you can use to go
to college and then hopefully make some money and use that good credit.
Bad credit is the stuff we talk about, payday loans and installment credit and subprime credit, and high-interest, high-risk credit. So, what you have
had is a -- I call it a Jim Crow credit market that has developed on top of these segregatory patterns.
And so what we have offered a lot of white communities since the New Deal to now is lower-cost credit, right? And then to black communities, it's
been installment credit, subprime credit that sort of blew up in those spaces and credit that is not wealth-building.
So I want to distinguish credit, the two types of credit, so we're not just talking about all access is good access, right? So, just payday lending is
MARTIN: You make the point that white immigrant groups have at points in their history faced the same kinds of restrictions that black people have,
I mean, access to -- they were locked out of lending institutions, they were segregated in certain neighborhoods at some point.
But you say that they have had a very different trajectory. Tell me more about that. In fact, you cite the Bank of Italy as an example, which was
formed when Italian immigrants faced discrimination and were ghettoized. What happened there? A very different history than that of most of the
banks that arose to serve black people.
What happened there, and why so different?
BARADARAN: If you look at the Bank of Italy's example, it really just showed the disparate impact, the disparate sort of trajectories of the two
So, Italians and Irish, many other foreign-born Arabs, Mexican immigrants, all sorts of people were also non-white. Some are still non-white. But
looking at Italians and Irish specifically kind of just shows how these markets and sort of whiteness work.
So, pre-sort of New Deal, let's say, Italians and Irish were also excluded in the way that blacks were, although, I mean, if you look at segregation
patterns, it was never quite as stark. So, when you look at the black segregation patterns in certain spaces, blacks were much more segregated
than Italians and Irish.
But they were -- Italians and Irish were excluded from a lot of these things. But post-FHA, post-sort of New Deal credit, Italians and Irish sort
of get included in that American suburban credit market. So, they do get the G.I. Bill. They're not restricted from certain colleges. They are able
to buy in communities that are suburbs that are able to grow equity.
And then so you look at Bank of Italy, Bank of Italy starts as a bank, just like a lot of the black banks that I highlight in the book, as a response
to exclusion. So, when you have a black community or an Italian community excluded from the mainstream credit system, what happens a lot is that the
entrepreneurs within the community establish their own bank.
So, Bank of Italy establishes because Italians aren't getting banked by other mainstream institutions. But once Italians do become part of this FHA
and G.I. Bill credit, Bank of Italy is able to thrive and survive.
And it's in California. It's in San Francisco. And there's a lot of really great economic sort of tailwinds. And so Bank of Italy then becomes sort of
Bank of California, and it is now Bank of America.
MARTIN: Wait a minute. Bank of America started as the Bank of Italy?
BARADARAN: And, I mean, Bank of America is a consortium of a bunch of different banks, but yes, it starts as Bank of Italy that becomes -- turns
into Bank of America.
And, really, I mean, so do Italians, right? Italians are Americans, and as are all of us. But I think looking at the way that that bank works really
shows how certain immigrant communities have been included, and others have not.
MARTIN: You also give a case study of the fact that African-Americans, even when they have attained some economic success, are often targeted for
MARTIN: And you give the example of the Tulsa riots.
What I'm hearing from you and what I read in your book is that a lot of what we have sort of seen as police violence and other forms of oppression
really are economic terrorism. It's really intended as much to terrorize people in a physical sense as it is to kind of deprive them of the
opportunity to gain equality through economic standing, which is something that other groups have been able to attain.
Is there any place that contradicted that pattern? I mean, you do talk about Durham, North Carolina. Can you talk a little about that, and how was
BARADARAN: Yes. Yes.
Durham, I sort of contrast with Tulsa, in that Durham understood that they were in a very precarious situation. They were also very successful black
businesses, but they purposefully did not build the tallest building in town. They built the -- a smaller, more humble building, right?
And so they kept that wealth more hidden and more sort of secondary to the white structure. When you're a minority group in a majority environment,
what -- the survival dictates, apparently, what -- the route that Durham went.
But I will say, on that terrorism point and the riot point, I mean, the majority of U.S. history, when we talk about terrorism, we talk about riots
and violence, it is white violence against blacks, OK, the paramilitary violence of the Klan, the riots in the North, and just -- quite frankly,
just particular domestic terrorism.
Any time a black family moved into a white block, there are countless stories -- and I tell a few of them -- where a black doctor or some wealthy
black person will move into a white community. Jesse Binga, a black banker in Chicago that I highlight, his house was bombed like 10 times, and he
kept moving because he's like, I'm an American citizen. I can live where I want.
Dr. Ausean Sweet (ph) moved into a building, and a white mob gathered. And they started throwing bricks and setting a fire. And they -- he was armed
and brought his friends. And they kind of shot out in self-defense, which is their right sort of to protect his home. And he gets charged with
murder, because someone in the crowd is killed by one of the bullets.
And so you have actually a pattern of white violence against black homeowners. So, when we talk about capitalism, we have to talk about, whose
property are protected by the laws, right?
Max Weber talks about the monopoly of violence that a state holds. And so we have to talk about, whose property is the state protecting and whose
property is it not protecting?
MARTIN: On the question of capitalism, and you to sort of make the point in the book that black capitalism has been sort of embraced across the
political spectrum throughout time, I mean, from Frederick Douglass, to Richard Nixon, to Barack Obama, who were all obviously very different
In theory, it should work, right? In theory, it should work. I mean, it goes back to one of the sort of the core principles of your book is that,
without wealth, there is -- political equality is very hard to attain.
So why hasn't it worked?
BARADARAN: So, Nixon really staked his administration on black capitalism.
And I focus on it a lot in the book, because that's kind of the world we live in, right, this theory that, look, what black communities need is more
capitalism and more entrepreneurship. His opponent during that election in 1968 is Hubert Humphrey, who says, you can't have black capitalism without
And that's essentially the point I'm trying to make in the book. That's the point Frederick Douglass makes. So, Frederick Douglas believes in
capitalism, but he says, you can't have freedom, you can't have capitalism without land, right, because, if you don't have land, you actually don't
And that's essentially what happened. Frederick Douglass was proved right in the post-Civil War era is what -- because slaves didn't have land, they
lost the vote, they lost access to political systems, they lost equality and freedom.
We can keep talking about entrepreneurship and Opportunity Zones and things like that, but we have to look at the structures of how capitalism works
and the laws of capitalism are. Capital just grows unto itself, right?
If you don't have capital, you -- it's really hard to get capital, if the structure of capitalism is just going to keep sort of perpetuating certain
things toward capital, right?
So, I think, looking at homes today, right, looking at the way that property increases in value or decreases in value, when you still see that
wealthy black people, their properties aren't increasing in value if they live in a predominantly black neighborhood, that's capitalism, right?
That's the market coding the racial preferences of market participants, right? And so, insofar as the market is coded with racism, capitalism is
not going to work.
But I also want to make the point that we actually have never really had true capitalism in America. I think that's one of the biggest myths is, we
have had a lot of subsidies for white families. The FHA -- the New Deal, G.I. Bills, FHA, that was not capitalism. That was the government coming
in, making maps of certain neighborhoods, and guaranteeing mortgages in white neighborhoods and not guaranteeing them in black neighborhoods.
So if you're going to look for where capitalism has been, it's been in the black neighborhoods. They have had no government subsidies, whereas white
neighborhoods have had government subsidies. Looking at the tax code, right, we have a tax code that benefits the middle-class through our
mortgage interest deductions, college saving bill.
So, I just want us to think hard about what we mean when we talk about capitalism.
MARTIN: So, give us some ideas, some of your ideas, for how you would correct this.
BARADARAN: It -- really, it's simple. I mean, we know how to create wealth for families. We did it through the FHA. We did it through the New Deal.
So I have suggested a new Homestead Act that takes some of the benefits of the last Homestead Act, and without some of the bad parts, and looks at how
cities evolve, and in looking at sort of revitalization that is not gentrification, right?
So what you have in a lot of spaces right now is the stripping of black spaces, whereas whites are coming back in, right? So, the FHA whites left
to go to the white suburbs and were able to gain from that, and now you have the reverse trend, and so a lot of black families are getting just
dispossessed of their homes and being resegregated into different areas.
So disrupting those patterns and allowing people to have equity as their properties are revitalized. I think looking really hard at what reparations
looks like. Every society that has taken from -- when you look at the Holocaust, you look at South Africa, you look at the Japanese internment,
we have done reparations.
We, as Americans, have done reparations. Other countries that have done significant harm to a minority, in breach of the social contract that we
promise -- our Constitution promised equal protection under the law in the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment, and those promises were violated.
So what does damages look like, right? What -- how do we make that right? You can call it reparations. You can call it damages. You can call you want
to, but what you have to acknowledge is the harm, and then go to step two and three is, how do we actualize some remedies?
MARTIN: Talk briefly, if you would, about postal banking. That's one of the ideas that you have become known for. What is postal banking, and why
is that something that you think would help?
BARADARAN: Yes, so postal banking is actually an idea that is beyond just for the racial wealth gap, but for any communities that are sort of in
banking deserts now, what you have seen in the banking sector is this conglomeration and homogenization of banks.
And they have -- Bank of America, going back to that example, has sort of gobbled up a bunch of different banks in this 10-year merger wave that it's
done, is -- what it does is, it closes up banks in areas that are less profitable.
So we're talking about rural areas in the South, in the West, in the middle of the country, white, black areas that are just low-income that are just
not profitable for a bank. So, what happens in these areas is, people have to drive 30 miles to an ATM and a 7/Eleven and pay $7.50, right?
Or they can go to Walmart or a payday lender or a check casher to get their financial transactions. And so the idea with the postal bank is to actually
have the post office, which, by its original mission, is in every community, just allow for simple banking.
So this is a debit card, so you can participate in nationwide commerce and a checking account, so you can pay your bills online, and not have to
operate in cash. It's just a simple idea, I think, that would benefit a ton of communities, not just black and brown committees, but certainly also to
I don't think that's a solution to the vast racial wealth gap. I think we need bigger guns for that. But this is a solution to a problem of poor
families spending 10 percent of their income on financial transactions that the rest of us don't pay for because we have bank accounts.
MARTIN: Professor Mehrsa Baradaran, thank you so much for talking with us today.
BARADARAN: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. It's an honor.
AMANPOUR: Exploring important solutions.
And a note that the book "The Color of Money" was one of the inspirations behind Netflix's new pledge to invest $100 million into financial
institutions and organizations that directly support black communities. So, that is very good.
And, finally, a monument moment for Black Lives Matter here in the U.K. Today, the toppled statue of the slave trader Edward Colston was secretly
replaced with this sculpture of a protester who helped bring it down last month in Bristol.
Her name is Jen Reid, showing here raising her fist in a black power salute. The figure is called A Surge Of Power 2020. And it's based on a
photograph of Reid, who actually climbed onto the empty plinth after the Colston statue was dumped into the harbor last month by demonstrators.
Here's how she reacted to this development.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN REID, BLACK LIVES MATTER: It's amazing. It looks like it belongs there. It looks like it's been there forever.
I think it's something that's incredible for the movement. It just shows what can come out of a protest and how it's moving forward. It's talking
about it. It's people educating themselves as to why we have a Black Lives Matter movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the new figure was erected by the famous British artist Marc Quinn, and, at the base of the statue, the words "Black Lives Still
That is it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.