Read Full Transcript EXPAND
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” And here’s what’s coming up.
One of the (INAUDIBLE) Former Senator Barbara Boxer calls Republicans who interrogated Anita Hill back in 1991 torturers. Now, some of those same
senators are revving up to take on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I ask Boxer whether history is repeating itself.
Then, in Zimbabwe, the ruthless dictator, Robert Mugabe, has been ousted. I ask the newly elected president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, how he’ll turn this
brutalized country around.
Also, an African-American sees Africa for the very first time. Comedian, W. Kamau Bell, heads to Kenya
with a special travel companion, Anthony Bourdain.
Plus, White fragility and the racism we hide even from ourselves. Our Michel Martin talks to the author Robin DiAngelo.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christian Amanpour in New York.
President Donald Trump today attacked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her allegations of sexual assault against his Supreme Court nominee. He
tweeted, “I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement
authorities by either her or her loving parents.” And he’s calling on Ford to make those filings public.
Meanwhile, as we go to air, Ford is still negotiating terms of her appearance before the Senate judiciary committee. Former Senator Barbara
Boxer has seen this movie before. In 1991 when Anita Hill made her abuse allegations against then nominee, Clarence Thomas.
Boxer was a congresswoman and she join six female colleagues to march on the Senate and demand a fair hearing for Hill. The next year, Boxer was
elected to the Senate herself, riding a wave of post-Anita Hill voter anger that came to be known as the year of the woman.
And Barbara Boxer joins me now live from Palm Springs. Welcome to the program, Senator.
BARBARA BOXER, (D), FORMER CALIFORNIA SENATOR: Thank you so much for having me on.
AMANPOUR: So, I said its sort of like you’ve seen this movie before, it’s kind of dejavu for you. But can I get to the heart of this matter because
President Trump seems to have fallen off the restraint wagon. He was very careful up until now not to attack Dr. Ford. And now, he’s saying that if
indeed there had been such an attack, it would have automatically have gone to the local law authorities.
Does that ring true to you? Would a 15-year-old girl have gone to the law at that time?
BOXER: Not only would she not have gone to the law, but she didn’t even probably tell a soul for a long time. And that is the way it is.
So, Donald Trump has once more showed his ignorance about matters that require empathy, compassion. Most of these attacks are not reported and
many women hold them inside. I myself had a terrible experience when I was in college, an attack by the professor. And the only one I told was my
husband. We were — I was about 21 or 22 at the time. And we decided not to tell a soul.
So, Donald trump opining on how a woman responds in a case of harassment or an attack is like me saying what a quarterback should do on a football
field. It’s ridiculous. He is the harasser in chief to boot.
AMANPOUR: So, let’s get to the heart of this matter because, you know, you were in Congress when the Anita Hill hearings took place and you’re a
Democrat and it was then the Democrats who ran the judiciary committee and, in fact, Senator Joe Biden was the chairman of that committee. Now, today,
he’s given an interview and he said this about what he felt for Anita Hill. We’ll talk — we’ll listen and then talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, I couldn’t have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you. But I never attacked her. I
supported her. I believed her from the beginning and I voted against Clarence Thomas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, is that apology enough? Because frankly, he also did not, as chairman of the committee, allow several other women who could
have bolstered Anita Hill’s testimony to come forth and be heard. Take us back to what was going on right there.
BOXER: Absolutely. When we marched over to the Senate from the House, I’ll never forget it, it’s seared in my mind. We walked up the steps. We
knocked on the door. We knew all the Democrats were having their weekly lunch.
A woman opened up the door and she said, “Why are you here?” And we said, “Well, we’re seven members of the Congress. We have over 100 years of
experience between us. Can we come in and urge the caucus to open up the hearings?”
And you know what she said? She said, “We don’t allow strangers in the Senate.” Well, when she said that, I almost fainted and I said, “What are
you talking about? We’re not strangers. We’re your colleagues.” “Well, that’s just a term of art we use to describe non-senators.” Well, frankly,
she made that up.
The only reason we got in to meet with then George Mitchell was, at that time, the head of the Senate, was because we threatened to go down and hold
a press conference. So, here you had Democratic women marching over to the Democrats and finally they reopened the hearing.
But to your point about Senator Biden, I believe he did believe Anita Hill. I believe he was on her side. But what happened, in my view, and this is
just speaking from experience not from firsthand knowledge, all of them, that whole judicia committee, everyone, a White man, were very
uncomfortable. And they said, “Shut it down. Check the box. Shut it down.” And frankly, that’s what I think happened.
And, yes, later we learned, from very good reporting, there were three women waiting to corroborate Anita’s testimony. It was a travesty of
justice and that justice is still sitting on the Supreme Court today.
AMANPOUR: Well, Senator Boxer, it was nobody’s finest hour, and as you point out, it was not the Democratic leadership’s finest hour. Now, 27
years later, is the Republican leadership in a very similar situation.
Where are the women, or do you wish or hope that the women on the Republican side, even those in the — well, actually, there aren’t any on
the committee, are there, could actually —
AMANPOUR: persuade their own leaders to — you know, to have a fair hearing?
BOXER: Well, I think you’ve hit on something really important. This shouldn’t be a matter of party. It’s a matter of justice, it’s a matter of
fairness, it’s a matter of respect, it’s a matter of a process that should be fair to a woman who clearly talked about this six years ago, who clearly
took a lie detector test. And all the things we’re learning now about Judge Kavanaugh, it all adds up to the fact we should believe her. And I’m
glad to say that today I learned the FBI is going to protect her because she is under such threat.
But you would think after 27 years, post-Anita Hill, the Republicans would have at least one woman on the judiciary committee, they have some very
strong women there. And I would say to my colleagues, my friends, the Republican women of the Senate with whom I had wonderful relationships
with, this is your time. Do what we did. Stand up and demand justice and stand with this woman because if you look at all the facts that surround
this, I think you’ll believe her.
AMANPOUR: Let us broaden out a little bit because I mention, that you were a congresswoman back in 1991, and after the hearings, there was another
election in 1992 and you, along with a lot of Democratic women and women in the United States, actually had the wave of women and you all came into
Congress. Describe what the politics of that moment were and are they at all similar to what’s happening right now? Because there’s a record number
of women running right now.
BOXER: I think we could see a wave of women, the likes of which we have never seen before, and I pray for that. Because you can’t have a
representative government if most of the people in it are one gender or the other and we have this amazing opportunity.
But I will tell you straight from my heart, the only reason I got elected, this is my belief, is because of the courage of Anita Hill. I would love
to say it was my winning personality or my smile. But the bottom line is, people were so shocked when they took a look at that judiciary committee
and not one woman on either side of the aisle was on there.
And I would point out, out of the 10 Democrats on the judiciary committee today, four are women. Out of the 11 on the Republican side, there isn’t
one woman. And I think the Republicans are going to pay a price for it. You know, some of them were there for Anita Hill and they’re still being
obnoxious about the issue. For example, Orrin Hatch who really was one of the lead torturers of Anita Hill. The things he said to her were
disgusting. He has already decided that Dr. Ford is “mixed up.”
Well, let me tell you something, Orrin Hatch is mixed up. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand it. I predict there will be a huge wave of
women, not only because of this incident which is critical but also the #MeToo movement, the women’s march, the fact that we have a man in the
White House who said, “It’s fine to grab women by their private parts,” and he has been sued by many a woman. He has nothing but disdain for us. He
wants to take away our right to choose. He wants to put us in prison if we get an abortion. This is the moment.
And it’s not just about women. It’s about the men who care about women. And I think most men do. So, I think we’re going to see a huge wave of
women coming in. That’s my prediction.
AMANPOUR: Senator, finally, whether she testifies or not, what do you predict is going to happen? I mean, do you think that they can even take
more time, delay the hearings even longer? Is it politically tenable? What happens if they don’t? What happens if they just carry on with a vote
whether or not Ford turns up?
BOXER: I think whatever happens the Republicans are going to pay a price for the way they have treated this case so far.
Remember, Anita Hill was mistreated at the hearing, but at least the setup was fair. There was an independent FBI background check to check on both
their stories. There were 22 witnesses. They’re not even giving Dr. Ford that opportunity at this point. I hope they do change their mind.
And all of the threats that are aimed at her, the that fact she had to leave her home, I think the American people are caring, I think they’re
going to say there ought to be justice.
And what are you hiding, Judge Kavanaugh? You haven’t taken a lie detector test. You don’t want an independent investigation. Your buddy who was in
the room said doesn’t want to come up and testify. All of these things add up to unfairness. It’s kind of kilt in the process. And I think
Republicans are going to pay a price. And believe me, they should, they should.
AMANPOUR: It’s really a clarifying moment. Senator Boxer, thank you so much for joining us from Palm Springs.
So, the political warfare here makes unifying the nation a distant hope, but how about across the world like in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa?
Revolutionary freedom fighter, Robert Mugabe, ended White colonial rule but then clung to power for nearly four decades thereafter, turning his rich
nation into a poverty-stricken international pariah. He was finally ousted late last year and a new president was elected, promising to turn all that
around. He is Emmerson Mnangagwa. Who tells me that Zimbabwe is now open for business
and he even wants to offer President Trump land to build a golf course.
I asked him about all his tough tasks of trying to unify Zimbabwe and about his infamous nickname as well, “The Crocodile.”
Are you “The Crocodile”?
EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: No, I’m human. I’m human. Let me ause you, I’m as soft as wool but I have the traits of being patient
like the crocodile.
AMANPOUR: Soft like wool patient like a crocodile. Here’s out full interview.
President Mnangagwa, welcome to the program and thanks for joining me.
MNANGAGWA: Thank you, thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, here you are in the United States at the U.N. general assembly. It’s your maiden speech. And it’s not a secret that the world
had a very, very negative impression of Zimbabwe for many, many years.
AMANPOUR: President Mugabe seemed to stay in power forever, and then here you are. What is it that you want to tell the world from the pulpit of the
MNANGAGWA: Well, the first point is that there is a new administration of the second republic of Zimbabwe, which I lead. And its only time, you
know, history of after independence in 1980 that we have more — we usually had five political parties contesting in elections. But this time around,
because of the Democratic political space which we created with 153 political parties, and of those 153 political parties, 56 contesting the
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you’re talking about much more pluralistic Zimbabwe. You say that it’s a new day, a new team and a new democracy. What do you
say to the people of Zimbabwe and the people who are observing around the world about whether you can be a unifier?
Obviously, your election victory was very, very narrow, it was less than 1 percent and people have complained about it and people have said that, you
know, they hope that you won’t be divisive and just for (INAUDIBLE) voters.
Let me tell you what the United Stated has said about the post-election situation. The State Department in August said, “The United States
government is gravely concerned by credible reports of numerous detentions, beatings and other abuses of Zimbabweans over the past week, particularly
targeting opposition activists. That isn’t new Zimbabwe.
MNANGAGWA: I can assure you that time around we’re a very peaceful, free, fair campaign period which we have never experienced before. And we’re
happy that that culture is taking root.
I believe we should do everything possible and (INAUDIBLE) to make sure our people develop a culture of accepting opposing views within the community.
And I’m happy that during the entire process of the electoral process we didn’t have any disturbances. All the political parties accessed what has
(INAUDIBLE) would support them.
The only (INAUDIBLE) which is regrettable is the one which happened two days after the elections, that is what has happened. We are so — we
regret about that event and we did everything possible. We had to — they just (INAUDIBLE) a day or so — no, they (INAUDIBLE). I appointed a
commission of inquiry to deal with that because I felt it would not be proper for ourselves to investigate ourselves. In fact, it was necessary
to have an outside inquiry.
But besides, my message from the day I took over on the 24th of November last year is peace, peace and unity, unity and love among our people.
Yes, indeed, my — in terms of the constitution and in terms (INAUDIBLE) parliamentary democracy, it’s first past the (INAUDIBLE). And I had 50.6
percent. My nearest contender had 44 percent, I think. And in terms of a constitution I won the election, although it was very narrow. I agree. I
hope that as we go forward and as we open up Zimbabwe, both economically and politically, I think with the policies we are putting forward people
will understand we’re doing better. But if — indeed, if the position (INAUDIBLE) a better message than us, at the next election the people will
AMANPOUR: You say all these things and you were part of the old regime, right, the Mugabe regime, for all those years, from the liberation struggle
until you weren’t, until you took over, and many people are asking, I think legitimately, is this really a new government? Is it really a new dawn or
is it a lot of the old guard now taking on a new role? Some people have described it as old wine in new bottles.
MNANGAGWA: If you look at me, then you would say I belong to the old guard, and that is a fact. But look at my cabinet —
AMANPOUR: And the foreign minister and others.
MNANGAGWA: Look at the new cabinet which I have. How many people are new in that cabinet? You can see the direction which we are going. And I said
this before the conclusion of the elections that I’m going to bring in people with the expertise in various areas, the women and the youth, and
I’ve done so. So, I believe that people should examine what I am doing and not live on perception.
I believe that the past would be left behind and do our best for the future and work for the betterment of our people. And to do so, in my view, I
need the best brains the country can produce across the board.
AMANPOUR: President Mugabe was accused of many violations of human rights, of economic process, of corruption, of all sorts of violations and abuses.
Would a Mnangagwa administration holds the former president accountable in any kind of way, in a court, in a truth and reconciliation way? Is that on
MNANGAGWA: We cannot put an agenda on a person. We put an agenda to make sure all those involved in corruption have to account for the corruption
they committed. We have Zimbabwe and the corruption commission. I have strengthened that one, which is indicative of my desire to deal with
corruption. And so many cases are coming, if you are following events in Zimbabwe, of permanent persons who have been affected by the driveway now
But, indeed, we are not — the new administration will not focus on the past. We need to focus — because we are going to live for the future and
never go back and living the past again. We are determined to move away and be, again, a member of the international community, embraced by all
societies in the (INAUDIBLE) family.
AMANPOUR: So, President Mugabe ended up being one of the longest serving presidents in the whole African continent. He just wouldn’t leave.
Elections or no elections, he just wouldn’t go. And I asked him, in my interview with him at the UNGA, actually, several years ago now, it’s about
nine years ago, and he said, “I will never leave at the hand of imperialists,” and he was furious at idea of leaving and he considered any
election or any process to be illegitimate. And I’m going to play you a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBET MUGABE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: There is regime change. Have you — haven’t you heard of regime change program by Britain or the United
States which is aimed at getting not just Robert Mugabe out of power but Robert Mugabe and his party out of power. And that naturally means we dig
in, remain in our trenches.
AMANPOUR: Are you going to stand for election again?
MUGABE: That will depend on what I decide to do in the future.
AMANPOUR: Can you tell us?
MUGABE: No, not now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, in retrospect, Mr. President, now that you are the president, was it regrettable that President Mugabe didn’t leave
legitimately and under election as long, long time ago?
MNANGAGWA: Now, during — with the new constitution which came into office, you know, into effect on the 22nd of May, 2018, we have now limited
the terms of presidency, just two terms. If you are able to| have two terms. Then you can — the maximum a person can remain in office are two
terms. But beyond that, you know, the constitution forbids —
AMANPOUR: Did you give a pledge that you will abide by that?
MNANGAGWA: We would like to entrench constitutionalism in Zimbabwe.
AMANPOUR: Well, will you abide by the two terms that you have introduced?
MNANGAGWA: I will abide by that without any (INAUDIBLE) or resistance at all. Even if the people would love me to (INAUDIBLE) I will still go away
because I believe constitutionalism is important. And, in fact, you must give your people a chance to have other people come. Two terms is a short
period, in my view.
AMANPOUR: You are part of the old regime. You were President Mugabe’s intelligence chief. You did take part in the suppression of the tainted
elections in 2008 when Morgan Tsvangirai and his movement actually won the parliamentary vote and actually they believe won the first round of the
Again, do you regret that? And I will ask you this because upon Morgan Tsvangirai’s death, not so long ago, you said something very important
about it. You said, “Both in and after the government of national unity, he remained a national figure who obdurately insisted on free, fair,
credible and nonviolent elections as a way of strengthening our democracy and our overall re-engagement with the rest of the world.”
MNANGAGWA: That is true. You correct — you quoted me correctly. But the point is, during that election, Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had
47 percent of the vote. My predecessor had 43 percent, I think, of the vote, which meant that Former Prime Minister Tsvangirai had a better vote
than my predecessor. (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: It was considered a bit of a stitch-up. Do you regret it?
MNANGAGWA: I regret that my former — my predecessor at the time did not succeed to achieve 50.1 percent that election. But again, I don’t think it
is necessary anymore to deal and dwell in the past. Let us look into the future. Let us — all of us, collectively, as a people, under one flag,
under one nation of anthem and by the guidance of our new constitution, move forward. And do improve economic environment so that we tapped a
global capital coming into a country.
For two decades we have been an isolated island — country. I don’t think it is necessary. Why do we punish our people, let us let this change, that
is my regime.
AMANPOUR: You’ve constantly said, “My predecessor, my predecessor,” you mention his name.
MNANGAGWA: You have mentioned his name.
AMANPOUR: I read that you have tried to restrain some of his excesses and some of his impulses.
MNANGAGWA: You are indeed correct. That initially he had wanted the same level as before. Then informed, but this is not correct anymore. My — a
lawyer, like myself, say, you know, (INAUDIBLE) instrument, you are now entering the following. This is what I’m going to do, we must be
constitutional. And he accepted and I’m happy he accepted.
AMANPOUR: His wife, Grace, is not — what did you say?
MNANGAGWA: Something else.
AMANPOUR: She’s something else. I mean, she wanted to be the leader. She didn’t want you to be the leader. There are suspicions that she and her
gang even tried to poison you with a poisoned ice cream cone.
MNANGAGWA: Well, I was poisoned. And up to today, I don’t know what I was for two days, you know, in South Africa after that poisoning. But my
current vice — one of my current vice president was quick enough to fly me to South Africa where I was saved.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you because you mentioned the liberation struggle. In the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Obviously, there was
a massacre in Matabeleland during the 1980s. And, you know, there are descriptions of what was then described as North Korean-trained Zimbabwean
forces killing some 20,000 people. Again, is that something you would consider a formal national apology for?
MNANGAGWA: At the time that happened, my predecessor said it was a moment of madness, that’s what he said, which is — which was a result of what was
happening internally. But when I took over, I felt that we need to have finality to this issue. So, I appointed peace and national reconciliation
commission, which is now almost eight months into investigation and gathering evidence. Ad what everybody put, they are going to make a
promise to the nation that I will make it public for everybody and they will see therefrom.
AMANPOUR: And if it’s the worst of the worst, would you apologize?
MNANGAGWA: Exactly. It would be on the basis of that report and recommendations of that report. We should be man enough as a government to
accept whatever recommendations (INAUDIBLE) and to see how we can, as a government, comply with the recommendations of the report. But I would not
want to — you know, advance to say, I would do this, I would do that. I am waiting to hear from that.
But this is the only time in our history that we are seeing let us have things in the open and transparent.
AMANPOUR: On that note, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, thank you very much for joining me.
MNANGAGWA: Thank you. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So, these divisions and the healing process between Black and White is a subject that my next guest, W. Kamau Bell, is something of an
expert on but only here in America. He’s comedian, a political provocateur and as host of United Shades of America, he traveled this country trying to
breach the cultural and racial walls that divide so much of it.
But Bell, an African-American, had never been to Africa until earlier this year when he traveled to Kenya with our late colleague Anthony Bourdain.
Here’s how Bourdain talks about their trip on his program “Parts Unknown.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, AMERICAN CHEF: (INAUDIBLE) frankly unlovely sense of been here, done that. It’s not a good look for me, I know. But there’s a
mysterious curiosity tucked away in some poisonous part of my brain that’s dying to see how Kamau handles the heat, the spice, the crowds, the
overwhelming rush of a whole new world, because that’s what it is first time.
AMANPOUR: W. Kamau Bell, welcome to the program.
W. KAMAU BELL, STAND-UP COMIC & TELEVISION HOST: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I think he was hazing you.
BELL: Yes, he was. He was. He made that clear even before we started filming that he was there to haze me. Yes.
AMANPOUR: So you once said that you called your show which is “United Shades of America” could have been called “Part-Time Known”. It’s very
similar in that Tony sample food but you sample racism.
BELL: Yes, raisin culture.
BELL: Always racist but yes, definitely it’s about going into the tension spots in America and seeing if I can connect and learn and also sort of
share those stories with the viewing audience, the same way he was doing it. Not the same way he was doing it but in a similar spirit, I hope.
AMANPOUR: So I don’t know what you feel but I feel really sort of very poignant memories because just hearing Tony’s voice and knowing that he’s
no longer with us and knowing that we’re going to be airing what’s called the final episodes, one last ride, is very, actually, heartbreaking. And
you got the chance to travel with him on one of the great last rides.
AMANPOUR: I mean what made you do it? Why did you go? How did he tempt you to go there? And why on earth hadn’t you been to Africa before?
BELL: I mean despite how it appears I was a struggling comedian up until the last five years. So I did not have Africa budget in my bank account.
My mom went to Kenya when I was a kid. Kamau is a Kenyan name. We’re not from Kenya but I always felt a connection. So it was something that wasn’t
going to happen late off but one day I’ll go.
And Tony didn’t have to tempt me. I mean I’d been watching Tony since before he was on CNN. I was sitting on my girlfriend, now wife’s couch
watching that show. I want to do something like that someday, having no idea I would ever get there. It seemed like a pipe dream. So when we
finally met and he said we should do something together, I was like I’ll leave today. I’ll cancel all plans to go.
AMANPOUR: And it was actually one of his funniest episodes because you’re very funny and the two of you played off against each other the whole way
through. But it was also really poignant. There’s one fantastic scene of you both in the wilderness, just sitting on these rocks, looking out onto
the horizon and the camera pulls way back and you’re having a very profound conversation. We’re going to play a little bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: What I’m aware of, too, is that on this trip is that still that thing about not wanting to feel like I have come home. And yet there is a
sense that there is this diasporic connection even though I have not come from Kenya. It’s nice to have that connection even if the frame that the
connection was built through was colonialist. It’s the good part of colonialism. It brings people together.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN: It’s kind of compulsory viewing. If you ever run for president, this should be compulsory viewing.
BELL: At the very least. I do think that a lot of perspectives will be opened up, a lot of minds will be changed. This is on a very personal
note. The idea that I’m sitting here with you doing this now knowing where my life and career have come, it’s pretty cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean there’s so much to unpack there, isn’t it? Even you were almost putting the idea that I’m doing this with you now and he’s no longer
BELL: Yes, I know. I mean luckily I learned years ago because of loss around me that you got to tell the people that are important to you that
they’re important while they’re around. So when I went to Kenya, at some point I didn’t know it was going to be on camera. I’m going to have to
tell this man how important he is to me.
We’re not just colleagues at CNN, that he actually means the same way he means something to people who watch the show. I was that person watching
the show going that guy is amazing, I wish I could be with him and to be there was amazing.
AMANPOUR: But the two of you really made it your mission, make it your mission to expose the fault lines in society through whatever medium, food,
the culture and racial culture that you explore. And we just talked to the president of Zimbabwe all through this program. We’re talking about
healing and trying to unite and reunify peoples. And I mean that’s what you tried to do, at least you explore the possibilities. Where do you come
down on that in America right now?
BELL: I mean in America. I think the big issue is that we have turned politics into a team sport, and we look at politics the same way we look
at, like, professional sports, the WWE. It’s this thing like I’m on this team, you’re on that team and the two can never meet. And I find with
United Shades, most of those I talk to I don’t know who they voted for, I don’t know who they’re going to vote for, I don’t know if they have a money
at home, I don’t know anything about.
But we’re just talking about like what’s going on in your neighborhood, what’s going on in your city, what do you need more, what do you need less
of. And those issues are always the same. I want better schools for my kids. I want better jobs. I want my community to be well-
policed. Whether it’s Appalachia or the south side of Chicago. Now, ostensibly those are private. They voted for different groups of people in
the election but they are talking about the same things.
AMANPOUR: And to Tony’s point about every leader, everyone running for president.
BELL: Yes, yes. I mean we were sort of like talking around the elephant in the room literally, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Actually, see a bit of the world.
BELL: Yes. I mean I think we’ve had, was it George W. Bush, who hadn’t traveled internationally. I think this current president in this country,
we should really reconceive what does it mean to be president of the United States of America and what basic qualifications should you have. And I
don’t mean what job you’ve had but what is your relationship to the rest of the word, what is your relationship to this country, in a way that we just
took for granted.
AMANPOUR: We’re seeing pictures of you guys on the Lewa Conservancy which I’ve actually been to. And they have saved all these rhinos and all these
elephants from extinction, a lot of them there anyway. But I want to unpack a little bit about what you said because again you haven’t been to
Africa before. You’re an African-American and you then said how the diasporic sort of feeling kind of hit you —
BELL: I’m pretty happy I reached for that word.
AMANPOUR: Well, it was good and I really messed it up.
BELL: I had a couple gin and tonics at the time.
AMANPOUR: Yes. There was a lot of toasting going on.
AMANPOUR: But seriously, I read and you probably did too the great novel Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. And she said in her character, a
Nigerian girl, that she never felt black in Africa. She never felt black until she came to the United States. I mean black in–
BELL: Yes, the black is —
AMANPOUR: And I wonder if you felt the reverse when you went to Africa.
BELL: I’ve got a lot of black people and African people, especially African-Americans talking about going home to Africa. And it could be any
country in Africa but the idea like the motherland. I grew up in the ’90s is when I came of age and there was a lot of talk in hip-hop culture about
And I also read several people would go back to Africa and feel like, ” Oh, this isn’t home. This is too far away for me to be home.” And a lot of
times Africans in Africa are like, “American black, come down.” You can’t go look at your house. Your people, your relatives are here.
And so I really was very protective of that and didn’t want them to think that I was showing up like this is mine. But then when I got there, most
of the Kenyans I met were like, “Welcome home” because I think they’re aware that we don’t have a connection to specific parts of Africa but it is
important to us.
AMANPOUR: And again, your name is Kamau, after a Kenyan. I mean a Kenyan name, so they probably felt a particular kinship with you.
BELL: Yes. First, Tony and me joked about this. He actually left a comment on my Instagram before he died. He said, “Everybody was like,
where did you get that name from?” Because they knew I wasn’t Kenyan. I don’t look Kenyan. I’m not built like a Kenyan. And so then I would tell
them that my mom and dad wanted me to have a connection to Africa and they really liked Kenya’s independence movement where they kicked out the
British rule. And they were like, “OK, welcome home.”
So it was very – once they found out how I got the name that they respect, they always asked me if I knew what it meant, which of course I do, it
means quiet warrior. It was very quickly like, “OK. Then you’re an honor, you’re one of us now.”
AMANPOUR: That’s cool. But you’ve also been exploring your own identity, right? You’ve taken a DNA test. I just want to play a little bit of a
sound bite from your wife actually about this whole.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA BELL, WIFE OF W. KAMAU BELL: I think Kamau and I are both aware that our daughters being mixed race means that their experience in the
world is going to be significantly different from ours. And that as they get older, it’s going to be a lot more nuanced and complicated for them.
And I think having this knowledge may just sort of round out how they see themselves in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So mixed race marriage, mixed-race children.
BELL: Yes. Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I mean you’re kind of living the dream, so to speak. You’re living the —
BELL: Like somebody’s dream, some people’s dream, some people’s nightmare.
AMANPOUR: But you’re living your own united shade.
BELL: I am. I mean I was living that before the show happened. And that’s why when they named the show “The United Shade”, that resonated with
me very succinctly. At first, the show was about me just going to white places and I was like, I already have white-in-laws. I’ve got a lot of
white places. So for me, it was like — but I always lived in the Bay Area, a very diverse place. I was living in urban environments, having
spent time in New York, Chicago, I naturally live that kind of lifestyle. So this is just the TV version of it.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But because of this TV show, I think because of, you went away from your in-laws and into a much more radical white supremacist
environment to explore that bigotry, that ideology. And here’s you talking to Richard Spencer. And I think it was your first season or maybe it was
BELL: Second season, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: So I think white people do need to talk about their whiteness more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re doing it. We’re here to talk about white privilege. We want to bring it back, make that privilege great again.
BELL: So you’re a fan of white privilege?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. I love it.
BELL: I mean what do you like about white privilege?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks great. I mean the people are good looking and nice suits, great literature. Yes, I just want to be the white
privilege. It’s the greatest, most awesome thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, all you had to do was put out that fishing rod and you reel in a lot of obnoxious hate.
BELL: And I caught a lot of heat from that, especially people on the left that I normalized or gave them a platform. If you watch the whole episode,
it’s about the importance of immigration in this country and how it’s made America the great country that it can be and about refugees and how we need
to be open to refugees. That was one segment in there but there’s another side of it.
AMANPOUR: You don’t apologize or justify. You have to talk outside the echo chamber. And perhaps that is one of the problems. We criticize or
you criticize or others criticize the right but the left also has its issue right now. It doesn’t want to hear the other side, doesn’t want to hear
the story of the other, not that his story legitimate.
BELL: No. But I think that’s important to hear like that’s not legitimate. I mean, to me, the important thing about him or when I talked
to the KKK was to go this is a very thin ideology. And a lot of people don’t realize that it is and a lot of people are afraid of it when they see
the clips on the news. Look at this, it doesn’t go that deeply but we still need to confront and deal with it.
AMANPOUR: Your rapport with him was obviously inviting. You wanted him to speak, right. You weren’t going at him in an aggressive way.
BELL: No, no, no. That’s not my way.
AMANPOUR: But it was also before Charlottesville, right?
AMANPOUR: Do you think it would have been different had you had that experience to look at, a real war that took place on the streets?
BELL: A hundred percent it would have been different. And that thing aired, we taped it before he got punched in the face on the street and so
people were like, “Why didn’t you punch him on the face?” I was like first of all, I would have not done that but also that’s not how time works.
They already did it. But for me, yes but I still would have approached it in a, “I want you to talk” way. That wouldn’t mean I would have sat down
with an angry, look at my face and then combat. That’s not me. There are many other journalists, talkers, bloggers, or whatever, who do that.
That’s not my way.
AMANPOUR: So you just talked about immigration and a lot of that episode was about immigration. I wonder and I meant to ask Senator Boxer this but
I ran out of time —
BELL: That’s OK. I’ll be her surrogate.
AMANPOUR: You can talk about it. It’s about the places that you traveled. The Trump administration is moving hundreds of millions of dollars away
from — they plan to anyway, they’ve announced that they will, aides, programs and other such programs to try to deal with all the undocumented
kids. They need to care for them. They need to pay for them. That’s one thing.
And then ICE has been arresting undocumented adults who have come forward to take care of these undocumented kids who are adrift because of this
(INAUDIBLE) with the zero tolerance and the separation of parents and children. What do you think about that? Is that sort of that part of the
culture and the racial part of the culture still on the agenda?
BELL: Yes. I mean we did an episode at the border, beginning of season three, just talking about what life is like at the border because they’ve
been always talking about how violent and how hard it is there. And we went down, the people there were like, “We love living here and what you
hear on TV is not the real thing.” When I think about all of this stuff, so there’s elements of Trump, the Trump administration think they’re
punishing those people.
We are punishing those people but we’re also punishing America because all the evidence that you look up when you talk about immigrants coming to this
country whether they’re undocumented or documented, they all create industries, they start businesses, they come here, they create new jobs,
they create new technology. There’s all the evidence points to that and I think that’s what’s so shortsighted about it. We should be friendly to
these people out of a simply capitalistic sense of like this will make our country stronger.
Forget the heart connection, which I feel like we shouldn’t forget that. But if you are going to be the party of business, that the Republican Party
claims to be, just simply out of a selfish business interest, you should allow these people to come in.
AMANPOUR: Well, headlines a few weeks ago showed that a lot of businesses were running out of employees.
AMANPOUR: Because they couldn’t get either the high skilled or the low skilled immigrants to come in and take those jobs. But as we end our
conversation, a thought about these being the final of Tony Bourdain’s episodes and we won’t have that kind of voice.
BELL: No. I mean I have a show, there’s Lisa Ling here at CNN, there’s all these other voices we can look to but nobody is going to to do what he
did. And all we can do is sort of he opened this path for many of us, me specifically, is try to take notes from what his work is and we still have
the work to look at and sort of deepen our own work in the process.
AMANPOUR: Well, you do it in all souls of shades. Thank you very much indeed, W. Kamau Bell.
So when it comes to racism, many white Americans have the same mutual response, “I’m not a racist.” But our next guest, Dr. Robin DiAngelo
argues simply and sadly that’s not true. That an unconscious bias exists within even the most progressive of us white people. She would
know. Dr. DiAngelo says that she was one of them.
In her new book, the sociologist describes what she recognized as her own white fragility. She sat down to talk about all of this with our own
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: So what’s white fragility? That’s the title of your book is White Fragility and the subtitle is Why it’s so Hard for
White People to Talk About Racism? Why White Fragility and how do we recognize it?
ROBIN DIANGELO, AUTHOR, WHITE FRAGILITY: The fragility part is meant to capture how little it takes to set white people off, to set us off into
defensiveness. So for many white people, the mere suggestion that white has meaning will cause us to erupt in defensiveness. For many of your
listeners, the fact that I’m generalizing right now about white people will set off the defensiveness. Individualism is a really precious ideology for
white people, and we do not like to be generalized about.
MARTIN: So let’s back up for a second and talk about how you got interested in this work and in this subject. I know that you’re in
academic. I know that you’re a lecturer and also you’ve done, what would you call it, anti-racist training.
MARTIN: Used to be called diversity training. Maybe it isn’t called that anymore.
DIANGELO: I think of myself as somebody who came from practice to theory, rather than a lot of academics who go from theory to practice. So I
applied for a job in the early ’90s for a diversity trainer. That’s what we called it at the time. Of course, I’m qualified to go into the
workplace and lead people on discussions of race. I’m a vegetarian. How could I be racist?
I had that really classic, liberal, open-minded kind of idea about what it meant to be racist. And I saw myself, of course, outside of that and felt
qualified and I got the job. And I was in for the most profound learning of my life. It was a parallel process. So two key pieces were, one, for
the first time in my life, I was working side-by-side with people of color who were challenging the way I saw the world. And part of being white is
that I could get that far in life. I was a parent at that point. I was in my 30s and never had I had my racial worldview challenged, one.
Two, definitely not by a significant number of people of color and not in any kind of sustained way. And it worked like a mirror, right. I was like
a fish being taken out of water. I would not have been able to tell you I had a racial worldview because as a white person, I was raised to see
myself as just human. Now you’re a particular kind of human. I’m just human. And if we’re going to be talking about race, I expect we’re going
to be talking about your race, not my race.
MARTIN: You tell some very interesting stories in this book. For example, you talked about leading a seminar where 38 out of the 40 people in the
room were white and then one of the participants literally pounds the table, yelling “White people can’t get a job.” And everybody who had a job
here was white.
DIANGELO: It’s a kind of delusion. I think that some people have said when you’re used to 100 percent, 98 feels oppressive, right. I mean as a
white person I was just raised to expect the world to be mine in absolutely any field. I see myself represented. I see myself represented in all my
teachers and my curriculum and my heroes and heroines. And so just even a suggestion that we need to make sure we’re being fair and including other
people seems to set the white collective off.
MARTIN: Tell me some of the things that you saw in these workshops that led you to this theory.
DIANGELO: It’s a lot like water dripping on a rock, right. I didn’t get it the first, second, third but it’s so consistent and so patterned that
it’s like a script. And after a while you can just stand there and say, “I can predict what this white person is going to say right now” and, sure
enough, they say it. So I was taught to treat everyone the same.
I have people of color in my family. I was in Teach for America. I marched, in the ’60s. I taught in a diverse school. The evidence that
white people give for their lack of racism is very revealing to what we think racism is and everything I do is to try to get us off the surface
which is all these narratives and get under there to the underlying framework. Because despite all those narratives, I was taught to treat
everyone the same, I don’t see color, our outcomes haven’t improved. By virtually every measure, there’s racial inequality in this country. And by
many measures, it’s increasing and not decreasing.
MARTIN: You speak very frankly in the book about how you’ve stepped in at yourself if I can use that phrase. Can you give an example of where you
experienced your own white fragility?
DIANGELO: So I’m in a room with three black women, two of which I’m very close to and one I don’t know at all. And she gives us a survey to fill
out, and it’s tedious to me, it seems kind of template.
It doesn’t capture the nuance of what we do. So I pushed it aside and say, “Let me explain. We go out into these different offices and
we do these anti-racism trainings. In fact, Debra here was asked not to come back when she went to such and such office. I guess her hair scared
the white people.” She has long locked braids.
So what you don’t notice what I’m doing, not only am I making a joke about a black woman’s hair which is a sensitive issue and I do know better, but
I’m positioning myself as the cool white person and they’re all the clueless white people. And I wish I could tell you that I recognized that
I was doing that. I didn’t. Meeting’s over.
A couple of days later, the assistant marshal comes to me and says, “Angela was really offended by that joke you made about black women’s hair.” And I
immediately, “Oh God, thank you.” And I called Angela and I said, would you be willing to grant me the opportunity to repair the racism that I
perpetrated towards you in the meeting last week? She said, “Yes.”
We sat down. We talked about it. And she said, “I don’t know you. I have no relationship with you. I have no trust with you. And I do not want to
be joking about black women’s hair in a professional work meeting with a white woman I don’t know.” I hear you. I apologize. And then I asked, is
there anything I missed? And she said, “Yes. That survey you so glibly shoved aside, I wrote that survey, and I have spent my life justifying my
intelligence to white people.”
On that apologize, asked, is there anything else that needs to be said or heard that we might move forward? And she said, “Yes. If we’re going to
work together, I’m sure you’re going to run your racism at me again. And so the next time you do, would you like your feedback publicly or
DIANGELO: I said, publicly, in my case, please. It’s really important that other white people see that I’m not free of this but it gives me an
opportunity to model non-defensiveness.
MARTIN: You said you don’t want white people to feel guilty which is exactly what I think some people listening to our conversation will feel
and will think that you want to evoke. So why do you say you don’t want white people to feel that?
DIANGELO: Well, because you didn’t choose your socialization. You didn’t choose your conditioning. You were born into a society that set you up in
these ways. You don’t need to feel guilty unless you know that and you’re not doing anything about it.
MARTIN: What about the people who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump?
DIANGELO: I think that Obama, it was symbolic. I think what Obama did was allow us to feel really good about ourselves under very narrow terms,
right. If the word racism ever came out of his mouth, I don’t know what would happen, right. He had to be the perfect black man, the safe black
man. He’s also brilliant and clear and educated and so also at the same time, that allows me to feel good about myself.
There’s also a little bit of challenge there in how powerful a black man he is. And I would ask any white person who voted for Obama and sees that as
kind of their evidence that they’re free of racism to ask themselves how did it change your life on the ground? How did Obama’s presidency change
the live experience for black people in this country day in and day out?
I don’t think that it did. It was important symbolically but mass incarcerations, school to prison pipeline, these things have not
diminished, right. In many ways, they’ve increased.
MARTIN: Do you see Trump as a reaction to Obama? And, if so, why?
DIANGELO: I see Trump as a reaction to Obama because Trump gave permission to the resentment that was roiling under the surface.
MARTIN: Resentment of what?
DIANGELO: Of black advancement, of black uppityness. To use a Jim Crowe analogy, you will step off the curb when I come down and you will not look
me in the eye. His racism is explicit and undeniable and that wasn’t a deterrent. I think white people have to look really hard at why was that
not a deterrent to you?
MARTIN: Robin DiAngelo, thank you for talking with us.
DIANGELO: You’re welcome.
AMANPOUR: It’s an uncomfortable message but it’s an important one to hear from Robin DiAngelo.
And next week marks the start of the U.N. General Assembly, the annual gathering here in New York. And I’ll be there talking to world leaders
including Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani about the survivability of the Iran nuclear deal. And also to New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, the world’s
youngest prime minister. And, of course, New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.