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Biden Calls On N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo To Resign; Gov. Gavin Newsom Fights For The State Of California's Health And For His Own Political Life; Ebrahim Raisi Is Iran's New President-Elect; Turkish-British Novelist Elif Shafak Talked About Her Latest Novel, "The Island Of Missing Trees"; Turkish-British Novelist Elif Shafak Talked About Her Latest Novel, "The Island Of Missing Trees"; White Fragility" Author Robin DiAngelo Tells Michel Martin Why She Called Her New Book, "Nice Racism"; Simone Biles Is Back To Compete In Balance Beam. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 3, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Close to 90 percent of the American people were renters (ph). And so that's all I can tell you now.
Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the difference --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because is it -- let them explain that to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello everyone and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
GAVIN NEWSOM, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: For those that have counted California out, eat your heart out.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Governor Gavin Newsom fights for the state of California's health and for his own political life. He joins me from
Sacramento. And --
ELIF SHAFAK, AUTHOR, "THE ISLAND OF MISSING TREES": Stories bring us together.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Grief, love and nature. I talked to Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak about her latest novel, "The Island of the Missing
Trees" and the power of storytelling. Then, a report from Iran where this week revolutionary hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, becomes President, threatening
even worse relations with the West.
ROBIN DIANGELO, AUTHOR, "WHITE FRAGILITY": And I would argue that racism can and does flourish in a culture of niceness.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): "White Fragility" author Robin DiAngelo tells Michel Martin why she called her new book, "Nice Racism" and the backlash that
comes with it.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. California is roaring back, that is the view of its Governor Gavin
Newsom, even if his own fate is less certain. He's facing a rare recall election this September, and the Governor is trying to rally support, amid
COVID spiking again in the state. Contentious debates over mask mandates, raging wildfires and a drought that's plaguing nearly half the state.
A lot to talk about and the Governor is joining me now from the state capitol Sacramento. Welcome to the program Governor Newsom. Can I ask you
where you are in terms of COVID? And the fact that California is one of I think 20 states that has just over half its population vaccinated. Why do
you think you're suffering this spike again now in places?
NEWSOM: Yes, we have one among the highest vaccination rates in the country, 76.2 percent of all eligible Californians have received at least
one dose, 45.3 million doses administer. That's 17.8 million more than the next state, largest state Texas. That said, your question is the right
question, why are we seeing an increase.
We have a case rate that now has grown over the last seven days to 17.5 percent. We're seeing an increase in hospitalizations, just shy (ph) of
5,000 people now hospitalized, that's nowhere near our peak of 22,000. But it's simply this and it's well-known and well-described. It's a pandemic
that now is disproportionately impacting the unvaccinated. And we still have a stubborn number of folks that are unvaccinated in this state. And
that's where we're seeing the big increase.
AMANPOUR: So, building on that, the statistics show that more than 90 percent of Californians live in areas where community spread is, quote,
high or substantial. So, you have sort of, you know, sort of danced around, if I can say, the question of whether you will order mandates of any kind,
mask mandates or the rest. The Bay Area is calling for it. We see New York City is calling for certain mandates to go indoors now, whether it's
restaurants and the like. Why do you not just come out, given this spike you're talking about and given those who are vulnerable, and just declare
NEWSOM: Well, we were the first state in the country to do just that last week. In fact, California led the way by mandating that every state
employee be vaccinated or verify vaccination or submit to weekly testing. But we took it a step further, that included all healthcare workers. 2.2
million healthcare workers all totaled.
We also work with private sector. You saw some of the largest health care providers in the country. Just this week, Kaiser following suit some of the
largest employers in America in the world. Facebook, Google and others, following similarly, and of course, the President himself doing it with all
federal employees. California led a year ago, the first stay at home order, and we have mask mandates in place throughout the Bay Area in Los Angeles,
we have mask guidelines, and indeed mask mandates one of the first states in the country to do it for all schools as they reopen as well.
So we've been assertive. We've been aggressive and we're really proud of where California stands. That being said, we're sober and mindful and
humbled by the nature of the Delta variant in particular.
AMANPOUR: What about the controversial notion of vaccine mandates? You know, we've seen the federal government do some in certain areas. Would you
consider doing that?
And again, you know, you've held things like cash lotteries to boost uptake. You're requiring more than, you know, nearly 2.5 million state and
healthcare workers to provide proof of vaccines, given the fact that it does appear that the worst affected people are those who are unvaccinated.
Can you -- would you do that? And if not, how do you persuade, not the hostile but the hesitant, the vaccine hesitant?
NEWSOM: Well, we've been working at a scale. No other state has worked to address vaccine hesitancy. And as we suggested and we have asserted, we've
been very aggressive in terms of requiring verification. We've digitized the cards, we've been very aggressive working with the private sector in
terms of efforts and we are open to doing what we must in order to stem the spread of this disease. That said, as it relates to the hesitancy, we made
In the last week, we've seen a significant increase in the number of people being vaccinated. In fact, over a three-week period, we've seen a
significant increase. These vaccine lotteries and incentives may not be everybody's cup of tea, but they've worked here in the state of California.
We've seen an increase in the most important quartile (ph), which is a quartile (ph) disproportionately, underrepresented in terms of vaccines and
health outcomes. And that's in our minority communities, particularly Latino and African American community where we're starting to see an
uptick, which is very encouraging.
Look, 76.2 percent is not what we want to be, but it's substantially better than most states. We'll continue to accelerate our efforts. And we're
working with barber shops and faith-based communities, mobile sites, no longer fixed sites. We're knocking on doors, 1.6 million doors we've
knocked on, 1.3 million phone conversations. We've had referrals and centers across the spectrum, doing what we can to increase these rates.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you then about Republican governors? You know, clearly there has been a pretty clear division between certain parts of the
United States, we can see it all the way from here in the U.K., where many politicians have, up until now, being sort of rubbishing the idea of
vaccines and talking about freedom and this and that. In the last couple of days, weeks, Republicans and Conservatives have been getting on board with
the vaccine bandwagon. And indeed, we have a soundbite from Alabama's Kay Ivey. Let's just listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAY IVEY, ALABAMA GOVERNOR: But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting
us down. I've done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something, but I can't make you take care of yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, that is the Republican Governor of Alabama, there's a -- there's been a lot of problems with the spread in the south, of
course. What do you say now to them? And what they might have been able to do, had they been saying that kind of stuff from the beginning?
NEWSOM: Yes, look, I'm not here to judge the performance in other states. Each state is completely unique and distinctive. In our mind, folks,
internationally, California is not only the largest state in America, it's the fifth largest economy in the world. The population in California is the
size of 21 states in America combined. And so, the nuances, the regional differences are challenging.
That said, let's just be honest, the misinformation coming from the Republican Party from the get-go is impacted our vaccination rates here in
this country. That misinformation is being propagated (ph) by a well-known pundits on particular networks that have simply misled or lied
intentionally to people about the efficacy and safety of these vaccines. We need to call them out, we need to call out that misinformation.
It's nice to see, as you suggest, this bandwagon in the last few weeks when these guys recognized that their political futures may be at stake to now
jump on board. But you're absolutely right, where the hell they've been in the last five, six months. People are literally dying because of that
misinformation and these pundits that are out there profiting themselves by spreading that information.
And let's be candid, look, it's primarily coming from the Republican Party in the United States, and those that back the party and amplify their
voices of their leaders. And there are a few exceptions. Mitch McConnell, thank you for your leadership, but a few exceptions, and increasingly,
we're seeing some more bold moves. But again, it's coming a little too late. But I'm encouraged, nonetheless, despite the fact that it's not as
timely as we had hoped.
AMANPOUR: You know, I'm struck by what you said about political futures and then, you know, concerned about their political futures. Obviously, you are
as well fighting for your own. I'm going to get to that in a moment plus more California specific questions. But I do need to ask you as a governor,
as a democratic governor of the most populous state in the United States, your Democratic Governor colleague Cuomo has just been accused by the
Attorney General after an investigation of sexually harassing multiple females in state government, former state government and those outside
She's also suggested that he has violated state and federal law. He has denied it in a press conference, just as we've been speaking. Do you think
he should resign? What do you think he should do? What is the right course of action now?
NEWSOM: Well, well over a year ago, we -- I was very clear, and many of my Democratic colleagues were clear in expressing our concern about the
seriousness of these allegations, and also complimenting and celebrating the courage of the women that came forward and put their reputations on the
line. All of that said, waiting for the outcome of the investigation. It's an interesting fact that not only is the Governor responding as we speak,
and I haven't been the beneficiary of that response, but nor was I a beneficiary of hearing the press conference from the A.G. We were on the
phone with the White House Governors -- National Governors Association, was with a conference called listening to Dr. Fauci about the spread of the
And so I want to wait until I have the benefit of the knowledge that many have before I opined further. But these are serious allegations, and deep
respect and admiration for the women that came forward.
AMANPOUR: So, I realized that you don't want to be specific, but as I say, the New York Attorney General's Office has concluded this month long
investigation. And again, she has suggested that he's violated the law, both federal and state, in fact, she said it. She's interviewed or her
people, 179 witnesses, 74,000 pieces of so-called -- of evidence, and apparently 11 women have come forward, as you say they're brave.
You yourself in your own state have enacted measures that give women the chance to come forward and complain and allow them an hostile environment
in which to address --
AMANPOUR: -- these things. You know, so much has been made -- and this is, by the way beyond the Me Too time period. It's a time period alleged
between 2013 and 2020, also in the midst of COVID response.
AMANPOUR: You know --
NEWSOM: Of course -- I mean, this is beyond serious --
AMANPOUR: Pretty much defies --
NEWSOM: -- with zero tolerance for this behavior, zero tolerance for debate (ph). I guess the burden is, as we speak, I don't have the beneficiary of
that back and forth, but as I said, I've been consistent. These are serious allegations. Applaud the courage of the women. I'm not just saying that to
be wrote, I mean that quite sincerely. We have zero tolerance for that out here in the States.
And this, the allegations have proven true and it sounds like the Attorney General was very assertive in proving them true are outrageous, and the
Governor should be held to account.
AMANPOUR: All right. And, of course, as I said, the Governor has denied all those allegations.
So let me now ask you, because it's pretty much an uncomfortable situation. You're battling COVID, plus climate, plus the drought, plus, you know,
homelessness, and evictions and all the other things and fighting for your own political life. There is a rare recall that's been lodged against you
and it's going to happen in September. What are your chances? What do you think you'll be able to pull out because the polls were pretty much, you
know, in your favor for a while, now they seem to be dropping a little bit? There may be some, you know, election fatigue amongst Democrats. What do
you have to do to remain in office?
NEWSOM: We got to do our job. And you're right, I mean, we have crisis stacked on top of crises as relates to climate change. If you, you know,
believe in COVID science and the efficacy and safety of vaccines and you don't believe in climate science, you know, come out here in the West Coast
and see it with your own eyes the extreme weather that we're experiencing, these record breaking heat domes, these record breaking fire seasons.
Last year, 4.2 million acres burned here in California, where roughly double now the acres burned year to date this year, compared to that record
breaking year. Last year, we've got challenges on the entire West Coast, the United States with an extreme what is referred to as mega drought. And
of course, we're still dealing residually with the challenges of racial, social, environmental and economic justice.
That said, I'm really proud of our state and its resiliency. $80 billion operating surplus, the highest GDP over the last five years of any Western
democracy, outperforming Germany, Japan, the United States, as a whole, the state is deed coming back. But we have disparities, homelessness, cost of
housing that we have to battle, all those things need to be attended to at the same time. You're right.
We attended the feeding this Republican backed recall, whose principal sponsor wants to microchip immigrants. This is the sixth recall effort. In
just 30 months I've been in office, it's backed by all the folks that were out there January 6th.
And of course backed by many members of the Trump administration and the Republican Party itself, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and the whole crew
of them, Devin Nunez behind this to power grab, we're going to defeat it. And we're going to continue to do good work for the people in the state
regardless of their political stripes. But we got a lot of work to do between now and September 14th to do that.
AMANPOUR: And one of the principal sponsors, in fact, one -- in fact, the leading Republican running against you has -- is a talk show host,
Conservative Larry Elder. He told a local news station that he believes in climate change, but that he's not sure is playing a role in California's
worsening fires. He's blaming mismanagement from you, from your office saying you haven't taken care enough of, you know, of the forest land and
all the rest of it. And also, they're blaming you for so called COVID mismanagement and imposing too many restrictions. Given the fires, given
the spike in COVID, what would you answer to that?
NEWSOM: Look, our health outcomes outperformed the rest of the country in terms of COVID, including states that he tends to revere, Texas and
Florida, Indiana. And not only did our health outcomes outperformed, our economic condition. Our GDP contracted at a more modest rate than those
states in the U.S. as a whole. As it relates to forest management, we put record investment and vegetation management, forest managements, fuel
reduction, preposition assets, more technology, and more progressive strategies to deal with these wildfires.
It's important to note you're seeing them all throughout the West Coast of the United States, not unique to California. With all due respect to the
folks that are running in this recall -- not running -- I'm not running against any of them, they're running against themselves, there's 46 of
them. I mean, you can't make up their positions on the climate. They don't believe in climate science. That same individual you referenced wants to
increase offshore oil drilling in California and set us back and spew more toxicity into our air and pollute the environment.
And so we're -- well that's what's on this ballot. This is a serious moment in California. And I would argue American history, the values we hold dear
in the state of California are on the ballot. Climate science is on the ballot. Our health policies, our immigration policies are on the ballot on
the 14th. And that's why we have to stop this recall, get Democrats engaged in recognizing what's at stake, including our National Democratic Party to
recognize the imperative of keeping this state on track.
AMANPOUR: A lot at stake, indeed. Governor Newsom, thank you so much for joining us.
And returning now to Iran where President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi is about to take office, now he was officially accepted by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Khomeini, ahead of Thursday's inauguration. He's a much more hardline revolutionary anti-Western politician than the outgoing President Hassan
Correspondent Fred Pleitgen takes a look at what's top of races to do list, and whether the Biden administration will actually be able to negotiate a
desired return to the Iran nuclear deal with him.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran's political transition is nearly complete as the incoming hardline
President Ebrahim Raisi is officially accepted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. Raisi vowing to try and get sanctions on Iran lifted but not
cooperate with countries like the U.S.
We will definitely seek to eliminate and lift the tyrannical sanctions, he said. We will not make the people's livelihood conditional. We will not tie
all these things to foreigners, we will definitely pursue the matters that are immediate issues for us and we are facing today.
Iran faces a multitude of immediate issues, the economy continues to struggle as tough sanctions put in place by the Trump administration
continue to take their toll. Water shortages have recently led to demonstrations, some of them violent in parts of the country, with Iran
Supreme leader saying he understands the protesters and that their demands need to be addressed.
Raisi vowing to tackle the matter.
EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translation): These matters have been detected and I assure the people that the solutions have been
delineated and we have benefited from the views of experts and scholars and this will be urgently dealt with.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Raisi will take office amid heightened tensions with the West. The U.S., Israel and the U.K. are blaming Iran for the drone
attack on the Israeli-linked tanker Mercer Street, an attack that killed two sailors from Britain and Romania.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are in very close contact and coordination with United Kingdom, Israel, Romania and other countries and
there will be a collective response.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iran denies the allegations and is warning against any retaliation. The incoming administration in Tehran says it will get
tougher on the U.S. while negotiations are continuing to try and revive the Iran nuclear agreement. Ebrahim Raisi has already shot down any direct
talks with Washington. When asked at a recent press conference if he would speak with President Biden, he simply said, no.
AMANPOUR: Not a good sign. That was Correspondent Fred Pleitgen who's joining me now live from Tehran.
Fred, for a while, it seemed that this nuclear deal was going to, you know, restart. Now, it seems that it's quite dicey that it may not happen and
Iran is --
AMANPOUR: -- gathering up more enriched uranium since Trump's action of pulling out of this deal. What is the feeling there about this deal
PLEITGEN: Yes. I think, Christiane, honestly, I think that the feeling is actually getting worse that the Iran nuclear agreement could come back into
full force that the U.S. could rejoin the deal, and that the Iranians would come back into full compliance. One of the interesting things that I've
heard on the ground here in Tehran, speaking to analysts who are very close to government officials, very close to the power centre here, they said,
the thing that the Iranians really were hoping for is that when President Biden took office is that he would bring the U.S. almost immediately back
into the nuclear agreement that he would do it almost similarly as the U.S. did, for instance, with the Paris Climate Agreement, and bring the U.S.
back, and then try to negotiate certain things that the U.S. doesn't like about the agreement.
Like, for instance, some of the sunset clauses that, of course, have moved on, despite the fact that Iran now has more enriched uranium. And also the
fact that the U.S., of course, wants other agreements, at least to be talked about in the future. Other things like, for instance, Iran's
ballistic missile program, some of Iran's actions here in the Middle East, specifically, as well.
The Iranians are now saying, or at least the folks that I've been speaking to here, with every day that passes, it becomes more difficult for the two
sides to come to an agreement. What you've had so far is you've had the negotiators from the Rouhani administration, and the negotiators from the
Biden administration, indirectly, essentially speaking to each other in Vienna (ph). Now you have a fully new administration that's coming in here
in Tehran. And the question is, whether or not there's going to be more hitches.
On the other hand, you have the U.S. side that's saying, yes, they believe that they want to come back to the nuclear agreement, but they also say
that the talks can't go on forever. So, while the last time that I was here, which was right when the election was happening in Iran, there was a
lot of confidence that the deal was going to take place, that it was going to come back. Now, I would say there's a lot less confidence here in Tehran
that the deal will happen. They still want it to happen, but certainly the window seems to be getting smaller or seems to be closing, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And Fred, I need to ask you about the, you know, the mood on the street, so to speak, there is an unprecedented amount of stress amongst the
people, there are huge protests.
AMANPOUR: They're not afraid to come out and demonstrate. Ebrahim Raisi is really hardliner, a real revolutionary, a violator of human rights,
according to the international community, and threatening to put the people in the country 40 years back into those dark revolutionary days. What are
the people saying to you about what they feel will happen, you know, socially, not just when it comes to foreign policy?
PLEITGEN: Right now, with -- when we go out and we talk to people here on the ground, the number one priority for them, number one concern that
people have is definitely very much the economy. Of course, there's a lot of social issues as well. But the economy right now is really on a lot of
The past three years, or the past four years, under the Trump administration, especially of course, since those big sanctions came into
effect, those crippling sanctions, the maximum pressure campaign, those have hurt a lot of people here in this country. And even large parts of the
middle class have been extremely hurt by the fact that these sanctions were in place. You add to that to the fact that you have a massive COVID
outbreak, one wave after the next going through this country, making it very, very difficult for businesses to reopen, but of course, also a big
public health risk as well.
And those are things that, of course, people say this new administration, they obviously know how conservative it is, definitely has to deal with.
And I think that Ebrahim Raisi understands that he has a big task on his hand. It was quite interesting because, obviously, at that event today,
when he was accepted by the Supreme Leader, the one of the first things he said is he understands that corruption needs to be fought here in this
country, but he also understands that yes, they need to work towards getting rid of the sanctions and at the same time also very much repairing
this country's economy and then going from there.
Right now, it certainly is a very, very difficult economic situation here in this country. And one that, as long as the sanctions are in place, can
be very hard to mend, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Fred, thanks. Thanks so much for that report from Tehran.
Now, we turn to novelist Elif Shafak, who's out with a new book, "The Island of Missing Trees". It's a tale of love and war spanning London to
Cyprus. And Elif is joining me now from London.
Welcome back to the program, Elif Shafak. And your new book is causing a lot of waves, a lot of good reception and good reviews, magical
storytelling as usual. But I want to ask you to tell me about the trees and the nature and the natural world through which you tell this story. What
made you focus on that?
SHAFAK: I think there are two layers. I have been wanting to write about Cyprus for a long time now. But I couldn't there because it's a difficult
story. It's a very emotional story. And the wounds are not healed yet. So, I didn't know how to approach the story until I found the fig tree, the
voice of the fig tree.
And what brought me closer to the tree was like many people throughout the pandemic and the lockdown, I also began to rethink about my own connection
with nature, with trees, with Earth, you know, those seemingly small moments just sitting under a tree, reading a book, I felt the need to
reconnect. And that gave me the idea, you know, into the story of the fig tree.
AMANPOUR: So I'm going to get back to the trees in a moment, but you've brought up Cyprus and where your story is set. So tell us, tell the viewers
about Cyprus, because it's clearly still, I think, it's the only divided capital in Europe, Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, between Greek and
Turkish Cypriots. Civil War of the 70s still has not been resolved. So just set the scene for us about Cyprus and your main characters.
SHAFAK: Indeed. This is a divided islands and there are so many hurts and pains accumulated due to the division and the very complex history clashing
nationalisms. I think the story I'm hoping might also resonate with anyone who comes from troubled past and divided lands. Basically, this is a novel
about intergenerational memory and trauma.
I think I do believe in inherited pain. I know it doesn't sound very scientific, but I do believe that the stories and silences that run in our
families somehow shape us. And I have met many immigrant families or families in exile or families coming from difficult pasts in which the
first generation bears the memories. The second generation is busy adopting finding their feet belonging, but it's the third or the fourth generations,
the youngest in the families that are digging into the memories of their ancestors. They want to know more about their identity.
So the story partly takes place in London with Ada who is the child of a Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot. And there are so many things that
she never heard about. At the same time, I think this is a book about renewable nature, ecological thinking and eco-consciousness.
AMANPOUR: So let's talk about that aspect of inherited trauma and generational trauma that you do focus on. So Ada is the daughter in this
novel. Her parents Defne and Kostas are -- it's almost Romeo and Juliet, they're from different sides of the Cypriot divide. And that causes a huge
amount of drama and this forbidden love story, et cetera. Talk to us about that. And then I want to read you a little bit of what you've written about
SHAFAK: They're very different personalities, Defne and Kostas. I think they're both interested in healing. They want to heal their divided
islands, and they understand the pain. But Kostas does that through connections with nature as a botanist, but definite -- and on the other
hand, is involved in the committee on missing persons, which is so important under United Nations. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are
working together in a way to unbury the bones of the dead of the missing not in order to revive old animosities, but to give the deads dignity, a
proper burial, funeral and their families a sense of closure.
I think similar, you know, trajectories have been also experienced in countries like Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Iraq, Bosnia after the
genocide. So, digging into this past is an important metaphor throughout the book. It is a love story. It is a forbidden love story in a way, but
it's also the story of, you know, how do we carry our memories. Is it possible to have coexistence and renewal and love?
AMANPOUR: So let's get back to the fig tree and the title of your book, you know, "Missing Trees" because I want to know how it reflects on this war
and this love story, but particularly I'd like you to read a passage. I think we've asked you to read from page 45 to 46 about the trees from their
SHAFAK: Indeed, thank you. Humans walk by us every day. They sit and sleep, smoke and picnic in our shade. They pluck our leaves and gorge themselves
on our fruit. They break our branches, riding them like horses as children, or using them to birch others into submission when they become older and
more cruel. They call their lovers name on our trunks and wow, eternal love.
They wane necklaces out of our needles and paints our flowers into art. They split us into logs to heat their homes. And sometimes they chop us
down just because we obstruct their view.
AMANPOUR: And it goes on, obviously, but it is remarkable. And there's a lot of literature certainly under COVID, about trees, about the natural
world, suddenly the world began to, you know, I guess really value on the power of botany, the power of the outdoors, certainly during COVID. I know
that this was written not particularly at that time, but when did that strike you?
SHAFAK: I really think we are at a crossroads both with the pandemic but, of course, climate crisis. As we're speaking our planet, our only home is
burning, and we have no time to lose. There are wildfires going on in Turkey as we're speaking. And today, a video was released with the sounds,
the screams almost of animals dying in wildfires. We tend to forget that we're not the owners of this planet, we're not, you know, above all other
I think we have to reconnect with our Earth, our nature, and we need a bit more humility, you know, and we have no time to lose. So why believe we are
at a major crossroads, as the climate and ecological crisis is definitely accelerating.
AMANPOUR: And again, you do write so much about, you know, issues that face us today through all the vehicles and metaphors that you particularly
employ to such effect. But I want to ask you about your own life, because a little bit of Ada story and Defne and Kostas is a little bit a metaphor for
your own life. You and your parents left Turkey, came to London.
And you said in one interview about writing, "I started writing fiction when I was very young, not because I wanted to be an author, but because I
thought life was really boring. I needed books in order to stay sane. To me, storyland was much more colorful and enticing than the real world". The
desire to be a writer came only in my 20s". I love that, expand on that. Life was boring for you as a kid.
SHAFAK: It was quite boring. I was an only child raised by a single mother, a working mother. And in a way I was raised by two women, my mother and my
grandmother. It was a matriarchal house, but in a very conservative, very patriarchal place, Turkey. And as you pointed out, I did live in different
countries, cities, but there were movements, migrations, and I thought life was quite boring.
Books really opened up a completely different world for me, gave me other possibilities. And for that, I will always be grateful to books. The desire
to become an author came to me much later. But I guess what I'm trying to say is all these issues that I cover in the book, whether it's belonging,
non-belonging, exile, you know, roots being uprooted, rerooted or rootless, some might say, these are issues that are very close to my heart. And so,
thinking about trees also helped me to connect with perhaps my own journeys in life.
AMANPOUR: And finally, you know, language is really important and what language you speak and communicate and work in. You are Turkish by birth,
and you've written most of your books in that language, in Turkish, all the ones that have been read by Westerners. And I think your first English
language book was in 2004, "The Saint of Incipient Insanities". You've said, "I still find it easier to express melancholy and longing in Turkish.
But humor is definitely easier in English. We don't have a word for irony in Turkish".
SHAFAK: It was true. I mean, for me, it was a challenge to be honest to start writing in English because, obviously, I have not been raised in a
bilingual household and English for me is an acquired language. I am immigrant in this language.
And like many immigrants, I'm very much aware of this gap between the minds and the tongue. The mind always runs faster and the tongue is trying to
catch up. And that gap can be quite intimidating, in fact. But I think what I've noticed over the years is, I love the sense of freedom that comes to
me when I speak or think in English, write in English.
To be a writer in Turkey is quite heavy. To be a woman writer or a woman novelist in Turkey is even heavier. And I think I needed a little bit of
cognitive distance, it's like taking a step back. And maybe it even helped me to take a closer look at the country and the culture where I was coming
So, my connection with each language is very different. With a Turkish language, it's more emotional. My connection with the English language is
more cerebral. But as you pointed out, when it comes to melancholy or sorrow, those things are always easier to express in Turkish. But I love
humor, I love compassionate humor. I love satire, irony. Those are much easier in English.
AMANPOUR: Can you, in our last 45 seconds, tell us what you're working on next? What is your next story, or is that a closely guarded secret?
SHAFAK: When I finish the novel, I don't immediately start another one. There's a pendulum for me. You know, I become a more normal or social human
being when the novel is over. Because I'm an introvert by nature, I read, I only read and listen. I think as writers, we need to be good readers and
good listeners and see what the universe is telling me and what kind of story it's going to bring me. So at the moment, I'm just reading.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a good place to be Elif. Thank you so much for joining us.
Now, our next guest is the anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo, famed for her best selling book, "White Fragility". DiAngelo's work aims to educate
white progressives on the part they play within a racist culture. It's the theme she continues in her newest book, "Nice Racism". And here she is
explaining her work and the criticism that's been leveled against her to Michel Martin.
MICHEL MARTIN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT Thanks, Christiane. Robin DiAngelo, thank you so much for joining us once again.
ROBIN DIANGELO, AUTHOR, "NICE RACISM": I'm so happy to be with you, Michel. Your first book, "White Fragility" was published when, I think, June of --
MARTIN: -- 2018. It spent more than a year on the bestseller lists. There was another resurgence of interest after last summer social justice
protests, your latest book, "Nice Racism". What is this book do, the second book do that the first one did not? What was your goal with this one?
DIANGELO: The first book set out to establish the existence of systemic racism. This book starts from that premise. It starts with the assumption
that my readers are with me. I'm not having to prove the existence of systemic racism and they want a deeper dive. There was a very provocative
question, or excuse me, statement that I made in "White Fragility" that I get asked about a lot, and that is that white progressives may, in fact,
cause the most daily harm across race. And this book set out to answer how we do that.
MARTIN: Why nice racism? What's nice racism?
DIANGELO: Well, I hope that it grabs your attention because it seems like an oxymoron. But it's the kind of racism that is behind a smile, or the
assumption that the presence of niceness or a culture of niceness is an indication of the absence of racism.
And I would argue that racism can and does flourish in a culture of niceness, because culture of niceness tends to be one that assumes the
white experience as universal. It's a conflict avoidant culture where issues that cause discomfort are seen as some kind of breach in the social
contract. It tends to be more passive aggressive, and just harder to get your hands on, there's more gaslighting. It's the more subtle end of that
continuum of racism.
MARTIN: One of the things that I found striking about the book is really at the very beginning, your argument is that actually you think kind of nice
racism causes more daily harm to people of color than the sort of overt aggressive kind. So tell me why you say that nice racism is actually you
think on a day-to-day basis could be more pernicious.
DIANGELO: Yes, and insidious. Let me be clear, not to downplay the impact of really explicit racism and the impact of voter suppression and the legal
blocking of us being able to just acknowledge the existence of racism is a very, very serious, very powerful and effective backlash. But it's easy to
get your hands on, it's very clear, and it's also easy to avoid people who would stand behind those kinds of acts. So on a daily basis, and since
we're being direct and blunt, Michel, you're in a classic, white progressive environment and institution.
On a daily basis, you likely do not interact with white nationalists or people who would profess explicit racism. On a daily basis, you interact
with me and people just like me. And the theme that I hear over and over, particularly from black people who are in overwhelmingly white environments
And not just exhaustion from, you know, daily work, but the exhaustion from that culture of niceness that covers up and makes it harder to talk about,
the more subtle -- I'm going to put air quotes -- subtle to me, slights and indignities, the unexamined assumptions about your qualifications or how
you got your job, or the resentment simmering just under the surface that I hear quite often from white people talking about diversity hires, or we had
to and that's why. You know, that that creates a culture too that can be debilitating.
MARTIN: Give an example. I can give one, you can give one. I give one, being the -- what recently happened at ESPN, the Sports Network, where a
white correspondent was overheard making comments about her disappointment that a black colleague of hers had had a kind of a high profile position
Then she said, look, I totally get that they need to deal with their diversity problems, but not at my expense. And its causes huge internal
upworthy, African American correspondent wound up leaving the network after that. Obviously, I'm not privy to all the internal sort of, you know,
discussions that went on, but is that an example of what you're talking about?
DIANGELO: I think it's a great example, because we have kind of a two part move. The first move is I'm all for diversity, right? So this isn't
somebody who's coming out and saying we shouldn't have diversity. And yet the but which has much more weight is you won't do it on my back, if you
will. And so, now you have white feminism, the kind of resentment that white women can feel, because patriarchy is real. Sexism and misogyny are
And sometimes our resentment about that, our sense that we're not being seen or heard can translate to us not being open to where we're not seeing
or hearing somebody else. So she expressed that resentment that I'm talking about that somehow you have to rather than seeing it as an enhancement or
MARTIN: Just sort of stay with that as an example, if you don't mind. Why did she allowed to have her feelings too?
DIANGELO: Well, I mean, of course, she's allowed to have her feelings, but it does translate into the climate, it's going to come out in some kind of
way. If I am your co worker and I basically resent you, and see you as kind of taking something that is inherently mine, you're going to feel that for
me, it's going to impact the workplace, it's going to -- I will probably undermine you in ways that I might not even be aware that I'm doing so. And
I'm pretty sure, and you can check me if I'm wrong, then you can feel that from me, right? And that it impacts you as you do your job.
MARTIN: It's interesting because, you know, your books for some people, obviously, they haven't been bestsellers for as long as they have for no
reason. Because obviously some people feel like, yes, it just brings a sense of peace. It's comforting. It's like you realize, oh, I'm not crazy.
These -- I really am experiencing these things. But for some people, they just seem to find it infuriating. And I'm just curious about what you think
is behind that fury.
DIANGELO: Yes. If you can't let go of that idea that it's a moral issue, it's a matter of good people versus bad people, you're going to be
infuriated by it. You're going to think that somebody is saying that you are an immoral person. And you're not going to understand that, it's going
to feel like an unfair accusation. And I'm with you, I find it incredibly freeing and liberating. I don't find it at all guilt enhancing.
You know, it just kind of like moves you past all of the defensiveness into a place of deep self-reflection. And so, I think that's a piece of it for
people who are hanging on to this idea of either or. Apparently, a lot of white people think that if you can talk to black people calmly, you can't
be racist. You know, this idea that proximity is proof. And this is another way that I think nice racism manifests is the urgency that many of us feel
who are white to establish as quick as possible that we're not racist.
And all of the ways we seek to establish that are pretty much not convincing. The evidence we offer up is kind of ridiculous.
MARTIN: Like what? Like what?
DIANGELO: Like I can't be racist, I marched in the 60s.
I can't be racist. I had a black roommate in college. I can't be racist, I work on a really diverse team. I've heard people say, I'm not racist, I'm
from Boston. I speak several languages. I mean, it does beg the question, what do you think racism is that this would, you know, ensure that you're
free of it?
You know, Harvey Weinstein was around women all the time. He was married to a woman, that that mean he couldn't have some socialistic orientation to
the world. And that while he didn't assault all women, I imagine if I was around him, I would pick up on it.
MARTIN: You know, on the other hand, I have to say some of the more stinging critiques that I've seen have come from people of color, is that
in trying to point the finger at white people that you dehumanize and flatten out black people in particular people of color, that people of
colour become sort of the moral authority. They are the ones who are the wise ones, they are the ones who are the ones who sort of gift everyone
with their moral sensibility. And that that's kind of racist in its own way. But what do you say to that?
DIANGELO: What do --
MARTIN: I mean, black people can be jerks too, right?
MARTIN: Black people (INAUDIBLE) --
MARTIN: -- self-absorbed, narrow minded, bigoted, jerks, too.
DIANGELO: There have always been black people who will claim that racism doesn't exist, and they rarely ever experienced it, that, you know, the
problems that black people have are brought upon themselves, and they will be embraced, and their voices will be amplified. And so, I don't take that
as seriously and as I take somebody who has a record and a commitment to anti-racism critiquing me. So let's move to those folks.
And absolutely, it's the master's tools dilemma. And I'm actually at a place where I'm wondering why anyone thinks any one person could get this
right. And get this right by everybody, and is responsible to get it absolutely right by everyone. Of course, there are going to be critiques.
And yes, in a way, I do see that I'm asking white people to basically defer. And that's because most of the white people, my audience, have not
or could not answer the question, what does it mean to be white?
And if you're at that place where you've never even thought deeply, I don't think you're in a position to determine what is legitimate and what is not
legitimate? You know, what is valid to what you're sharing about your experience, and what isn't. And, you know, does it hurt to differ? Does it
hurt to just listen openly and consider the possibility that what this person is sharing with you.
MARTIN: You're not the first white person to write about racism from a white perspective, and to direct your writings to other white people. I'm
thinking about a number of people. I'm just wondering why you think people come at you so hard.
MARTIN: And I wonder if you think gender is part of it, or why do you think people have come at you so hard?
DIANGELO: I do think gender is part of it. I expect my ideas as an academic and my theories and my analysis to be engaged within questioned, but it's
the personal, there's been a lot of personal vilification that is not typical when somebody writes a book and, you know, makes a provocative
MARTIN: No wonder (ph).
DIANGELO: And I think gender is a piece of that. And I do want to say that over the past five years, there have been 32 books about race on the New
York Times bestseller list, and 29 of them have been written by black people, and only three by people who were not black, and one of them is me.
A couple of those books have been on longer than my book. So it's simply not true, that people aren't listening to black people on this topic. And,
you know, I'm speaking to the majority of folks who perpetuate this problem.
MARTIN: To me, if you worry about critical race theory, as you and I are speaking now, there's been this tremendous effort to -- by some states to
outlaw the teaching of issues around race, and class, but mostly race, in school districts around the country. I don't want to give a number because
that may be wrong by the time people hear this conversation, but I think at least a dozen states now are moving to either outlaw the teaching of
critical race theory or to regulate how teachers can talk about kind of race in class, in school settings, to take certain books off the shelves,
for example, in school libraries. What do you think that's about?
DIANGELO: And let me just say it's stunning and terrifying. And I think it really speaks to where power lies that that quickly actual laws could be on
Summer of 2020 was really different, had been a long time since you saw that kind of galvanization from white people and the backlash has been
swift and powerful. We have always manipulated what the white populace through animus and anti-blackness, you know, the southern strategy is tried
and true. And critical race theory is the perfect new Boogeyman, right? It's just vague enough to, you know, sound scary, and because really it
just means critically thinking about the origins of such persistent racial inequality.
I'm not a critical race theorist and that it truly comes out of legal scholarship, but I am according to this kind of Boogeyman approach, and
that what they're really talking about is anyone who says that systemic racism exists. Anyone who says that it's our country was built on it, and
it's in the foundation. That is someone who's going to be labeled a critical race theorists.
MARTIN: One of the bills, for example, moving through the Texas Legislature says that students shouldn't have to talk about something if it makes them
uncomfortable. What's your best argument to white people about why they should make themselves uncomfortable?
DIANGELO: Well, I would ask two questions. One, who does it serve, or what does it serve not to have this conversation? This is not neutral or benign.
Who's made uncomfortable by this conversation, right?
And I would ask, is there any other social ill that we would argue, the best approach to that social ill is to never speak of it? Suicide,
bullying, eating disorders, sexual assault? Would we argue that we should never speak about those things? I don't think we would. So there's
something different here, and I think it's about deeply vested interests.
I do think that white middle and upper class parents who believe that their children should have the best of everything, are in large part leading some
of this backlash against looking at racial inequality in schools, right?
Anything that would cause their children not to have access to the best will be perceived as a threat, or to cause their children to feel
uncomfortable. But researchers really shows that after young people do so much better when they're equipped to engage in conversations like this,
when they have information. And they're prepared to understand the world in a way that makes sense to them, and that they can actually act in the
MARTIN: How do you want this book to be used, if I could put it that way?
DIANGELO: Well, we did build into it a reflection questions. So, as a guide to keep trying. keep struggling, to stay engaged, to find some kind of
inspiration and some sense, yes, some sense of guidance, right. Because this is hard, this is hard.
And let me just be really clear, two key things. As a white person, I live, love, work, create every single day in a racist culture in which I'm
comfortable. I am comfortable in a racist culture. I'd like to change that, right? If that discomfort helps bring some of that racism down, then it's
actually a good thing.
And as a white person, I was never meant to know or love black people. You know, let's be honest, white people, in large part, measure the value in
the status of their environments, their schools, their neighborhoods, by the absence of any significant number of black people. That's pretty deep,
right? And we're not going to challenge that and build those relationships and see humanity in one another if we continue to live in segregation.
Robin DiAngelo, thank you so much for talking with us.
DIANGELO: Well, thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: The challenging and difficult conversations that we must keep having.
And finally tonight, Biles is back, flipping and rotating her way to an Olympic bronze medal on the balance beam after withdrawing from team
gymnastic events over mental health and spatial awareness concerns. The Great American champion came back to perform a modified routine without any
of the twisties that caused her to lose her bearings while in the air. Gold and silver went to China but Biles said she was thrilled to have actually
been able to compete and mount the metal podium.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONE BILES, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: So I have to be a medically evaluated every day and then I had two sessions with a sports psychologist
from Team USA. But I've been training beam every day. We just last minute decided to switch the dismount, which I probably have not done since I was
like 12 years old because I've always twisted off and done a full-in since I was probably 13 or 14. Just to have one more opportunity to compete at
the Olympics meant the world to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Given all that happened to her in Tokyo, she calls this medal even more special than the bronze she won in the same event at the Rio 2016
games. I will cherish it for a long time, she said. And they're also already suggesting that she'll be back for the Paris Olympics.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.