MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: November 18, 2020

Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest food bank, and New York State Commissioner Of Agriculture, Richard Ball join us tonight to discuss the challenges of combating food insecurity amid the pandemic. Also, author and publisher Wade Hudson and his wife, publisher and editor Cheryl Willis discuss their new book “The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love and Truth.”

AIRED: November 18, 2020 | 0:28:16
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND

DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE

ZUCKERBERG, AND BY JANET PRINDLE

SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

FUNDING FOR "CHASING THE DREAM"

IS PROVIDED BY THE JPB

FOUNDATION.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR "CHASING

THE DREAM" IS PROVIDED BY SUE

AND EDWAR WACWACHENHEIM III.

>>> WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."

I'M GENJENNA FLANAGAN.

THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS PUT

MANY FAMILIES INTO FINANCIAL

PERIL.

AS A RESULT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE

FIND THEMSELVES STRUGGLING WITH

FOOD INSECURITY.

ACROSS OUR REGION FOOD BANKS AND

FOOD PANTRIES HAVE SEEN A SURGE

IN DEMAND.

SO TO HELP MEET THAT DEMAND THE

NEW YORK AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT

HAS BEEN PARTNERING WITH LOCAL

FOOD RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS TO

DELIVER FRESH PRODUCE TO THOSE

WHO FIND THEMSELVES IN NEED.

SO JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT

THAT PARTNERSHIP AS WELL AS THE

CHALLENGES OF COMBATING FOOD

INSECURITY AMID THE PANDEMIC IS

RANDI SHUBIN RESNER, PRESIDENT

AND CEO OF THE ISLAND HARVEST

FOOD BANK, THE LARGEST FOOD

ORGANIZATION ON LONG ISLAND.

RANDI, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING

ME.

>> AND WE'RE ALSO JOINED BY NEW

YORK STATE COMMISSIONER OF

AGRICULTURE RICHARD BALL.

RICHARD, WELCOME.

>> GREAT TO BE WITH YOU, JENNA.

>> THEY BOTH JOIN ME AS PART OF

OUR "CHASING THE DREAM"

INITIATIVE ON POVERTY, JUSTICE,

AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN

AMERICA.

SO RANDI, I'D LIKE TO START WITH

YOU AND JUST HAVE YOU TELL US

JUST SORT OF A BRIEF SYNOPSIS

ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION AND MORE

IMPORTANTLY THE NUMBER OF

FAMILIES THAT FIND THEMSELVES IN

NEED OF YOUR SERVICE.

>> SO A FOOD BANK ON LONG ISLAND

HELPING IN NORMAL TIMES NOT

DURING A PANDEMIC ABOUT 300,000

FAMILIES EACH YEAR.

SO IN A COMMUNITY THAT IS

COMMONLY KNOWN AS HAVING SOME OF

THE WEALTHIEST ZIP CODES IN THE

COUNTRY, ABOUT 1 IN 10 LONG

ISLANDERS ARE STRUGGLING WITH

HUNGER.

AND WHAT WE USED TO SAY WAS

THERE WERE POCKETS OF POVERTY

ACROSS LONG ISLAND.

NOW WE OFTEN SAY THAT THERE ARE

POCKETS OF WEALTH BECAUSE THERE

IS SO MUCH NEED ACROSS LONG

ISLAND.

IN RECENT MONTHS, SINCE MARCH,

WE OPENED UP OUR EMERGENCY

RESOURCE CENTER, AND IN JUST THE

PAST SEVEN MONTHS WE HAVE HELPED

MORE THAN 400,000 FAMILIES.

THE INCREASE HAS BEEN QUITE

DRAMATIC.

WE HAVE PARTICIPATED IN AND

HOSTED ABOUT 1,000 FOOD

DISTRIBUTION EVENTS IN JUST

THESE PAST FEW MONTHS.

AND ARE REALLY DOING WHAT WE CAN

TO MEET THE NEEDS OF SO MANY

PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING HERE

ON LONG ISLAND.

I COULD GO ON AND ON WITH

STORIES OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE COME

TO THE FOOD BANK FOR THE VERY

FIRST TIME.

>> OF COURSE.

OF COURSE.

AND SO RICHARD, THIS IS WHERE I

WANT TO BRING YOU INTO THE

CONVERSATION.

AND ASK HOW IS IT THAT THE

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS

STEPPED IN TO HELP PROVIDE FOOD

TO THOSE WHO NEED IT?

>> WELL, THANKS.

THANKS FOR THAT QUESTION.

IT'S GREAT TO BE WITH YOU BOTH.

WE'RE FORTUNATE THAT WE ALREADY

HAD GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE

EMERGENCY FOOD SYSTEM AND THE

PANTRY SYSTEM IN NEW YORK STATE.

I GET TO CHAIR FOR THE GOVERNOR

THE COUNCIL ON HUNGER AND FOOD

POLICY.

WHERE WE HAVE NEW YORK FARMERS,

WHERE WE HAVE CORNELL, WHERE WE

HAVE THE STATE AGENCIES THAT

DEAL IN HUNGER AND FOOD ISSUES.

AND WHERE WE HAVE OUR FOOD BANKS

AND PANTRY SYSTEM AS WELL.

RANDI HAS BEEN A GREAT ASSET ON

THE HUNGER AND FOOD POLICY

COUNCIL.

SO AS WE HEADED INTO THIS

PANDEMIC, WE HAD A HEAD START

BECAUSE WE HAD RELATIONSHIPS

WITH ALL 10 OF OUR FOOD BANKS

ACROSS THE STATE.

WE OBVIOUSLY AT AGRICULTURE KNOW

WHERE THE FOOD IS.

I WANT TO POINT OUT, THERE WAS

NEVER A FOOD SUPPLY ISSUE.

WE HAD PLENTY OF FOOD.

THE CHALLENGE WAS IT WAS IN ONE

PLACE AND THE NEED BECAME IN A

DIFFERENT PLACE.

MORE THAN HALF OF THE FOOD THAT

WE PRODUCED IN NEW YORK

TYPICALLY GOES THROUGH THE FOOD

SERVICE SYSTEM.

RESTAURANTS, INSTITUTIONS, AND

SCHOOLS.

AND SUDDENLY THAT VALVE WAS SHUT

OFF.

AND SO WHEN COVID-19 HIT US IT

REALLY HURT BOTH ENDS OF OUR

FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN.

FARMERS ON ONE END WHO LOST HALF

THEIR MARKET, CONSUMERS ON THE

OTHER END WHO REALLY NEEDED THE

HELP FINDING FOOD.

AND THAT'S WHERE RANDI AND HER

ORGANIZATION CAME IN IN A BIG

WAY.

>> WELL, JUST TO SORT OF BUILD

ON THAT, CAN YOU TELL US A

LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE NOURISH NEW

YORK INITIATIVE AND IF THERE'S

ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT

YOU'VE ALSO PARTNERED WITH?

>> WE'VE PARTNERED WITH A LOT OF

FOLKS.

BELIEVE ME.

WE WERE ABLE TO TO -- ONCE EARLY

ON IN THE PANDEMIC GROCERY

STORES WERE MOBBED.

THERE WAS HOARDING GOING ON.

AND THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS

DEMAND, FOR EXAMPLE, ON MILK.

BUT JUST A COUPLE WEEKS INTO THE

PANDEMIC AND SUDDENLY WE HAD A

SITUATION WHERE SUPPLY

WAREHOUSES WERE FULL, DAIRY

PROCESSING FACILITIES COULDN'T

HANDLE ANYMORE.

WE HAD FARMERS ACTUALLY DUMPING

MILK ON THEIR FARMS BECAUSE THEY

HAD NOWHERE TO GO WITH IT.

AT THE SAME TIME WE HAD A

TREMENDOUS NEED.

WHEN THE GOVERNOR HEARD ABOUT

THAT, HE WAS ABLE TO IDENTIFY

FOR US SOME FUNDING AND

EMERGENCY HELP FOOD DOLLARS.

$25 MILLION TO BE EXACT.

WE WERE ABLE TO WITHIN ONE WEEK

SET UP CONTRACTS AND

RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL TEN FOOD

BANKS, PRORATE THAT FUNDING.

I REMEMBER THIS STARTED ON A

SUNDAY.

THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY WE HAD THE

PROGRAM PUT TOGETHER.

AND TWO DAYS LATER I WAS ON LONG

ISLAND WITH RANDI AND WE WERE

DISTRIBUTING FOOD TO PEOPLE WHO

NEEDED IT.

WE HAD TRAILER LOADS OF MILK,

CHEESE, YOGURT, APPLES,

POTATOES, SOME MEAT PRODUCTS,

EGGS, AND IT WAS OVERWHELMING

FROM AN EMOTIONAL STANDPOINT.

>> WELL, THAT DISTRIBUTION WAS

OUR FIRST LARGEST LARGE

DISTRIBUTION, LARGE SCALE.

SO ON THAT DAY WE SUPPORTED OVER

3,800 FAMILIES.

SO PEOPLE OFTEN SEE THE LINE

SNAKED AROUND FOOD BANKS.

THAT WAS HAPPENING HERE ON LONG

ISLAND AND ACROSS NEW YORK STATE

AS WELL.

AND WE WERE FORTUNATE BECAUSE OF

THE SUPPORT OF COMMISSIONER OF

THE GOVERNOR THROUGH NOURISH NEW

YORK BECAUSE IT REALLY OPENED UP

ALL CHANNELS FOR US AND REALLY

CHANGED EVERYTHING.

>> WELL, IT'S INTERESTING THAT

YOU TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, NOT

ONLY I BELIEVE YOU SAID 30,000

FAMILIES IN THOSE LONG LINES --

>> 3,800 FAMILIES.

>> 3,800.

EXCUSE ME.

BUT THE LONG LINES THAT WE'VE

SEEN ON THE NEWS OF JUST SNAKING

AROUND BUILDINGS, ET CETERA, CAN

YOU JUST TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT

THE LOGISTICS OF DELIVERING FOOD

TO THAT MANY PEOPLE?

BECAUSE AS I -- STUFF WOULD HAVE

TO BE PORTIONED OUT AND IF IT

NEEDS TO BE PROPERLY

REFRIGERATED OR SOMETHING.

I MEAN, THERE'S GOT TO BE A

SYSTEM THAT HAS TO BE SET UP IN

PLACE FIRST TO EVEN BE ABLE TO

DO THAT PROPERLY.

>> YOU KNOW, JENNA, YOU'RE

RIGHT.

THANK YOU FOR ASKING THE

QUESTION THAT WAY.

SO FOOD BANKS ARE IN THE

BUSINESS OF ZRIBLTING FOOD

FAIRLY QUICKLY.

HARVEST STARTED WHAT'S CALLED A

FOOD RESCUE ORGANIZATION.

SO OUR MODEL IS BASED OFF

PICKING UP FOOD AND IMMEDIATELY

DISTRIBUTING THEM AND DOING IT

SAFELY, WHETHER IT'S PERISHABLE

PRODUCTS OR NON-PERISHABLE

PRODUCT.

BUT IN THIS CASE TO DISTRIBUTE

TO NEARLY 4,000 FAMILIES TAKES A

LOT OF PLANNING AND PREPARATION.

AND SO WE WERE IN PARTNERSHIP

WITH THE COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE,

WITH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.

WE WORKED WITH THE LOCAL

COUNTIES, WITH THE OFFICE OF

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, WITH THE

LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT.

BECAUSE IMAGINE WHEN WE'RE

SUPPORTING 3,800 FAMILIES,

NEARLY 4,000, THE MAJORITY OF

THEM ARE COMING VIA CAR AND

THERE ARE ALSO ALWAYS A

SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF PEOPLE

THAT COME BY FOOT WITH PUSH

CARTS TO TAKE THE FOOD.

AND SO WE NEEDED TO BE ABLE TO

PLAN FOR BOTH.

WE HAD OVER 200 VOLUNTEERS ON

SITE AT THAT PARTICULAR

DISTRIBUTION.

AND WE'VE DONE THAT NOW THREE

OTHER TIMES.

ON A LARGE SCALE.

BUT MOST OF OUR FOOD

DISTRIBUTIONS ARE BETWEEN 100

PEOPLE AND ABOUT 1,000 TO 2,000

PEOPLE.

SO IT'S A BIG EFFORT.

AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE FOOD

TEMPERATURES, A LOT OF THAT WAS

HAPPENING DURING THE SUMMER

MONTHS.

AND NOR SOMFOR SOME REASON EVERF

OUR EVENTS HAPPENED ON THE

HOTTEST DAYS OF THE SUMMER.

SO WE BROUGHT OUT ALL OF OUR

REFRIGERATED TRUCKS, OUR

TRACTOR-TRAILER.

WE HAD A WHOLE SYSTEM OF HOW WE

WOULD OFF-LOAD PRODUCTS AND HOW

MUCH TIME IT WOULD BE OUT BEFORE

IT WAS DISTRIBUTED.

AND SO IN THOSE -- ON THOSE DAYS

WE NEEDED MORE VOLUNTEERS SO WE

COULD TIME AND TASTE ALL OF THE

PRODUCT.

PLUS YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER WE'RE

IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC, OF

A VIRUS WHERE IN THE BEGINNING

THERE WAS LITTLE KNOWN ABOUT THE

TRANSMISSION, AND SO WE STEPPED

UP THE SAFETY PROTOCOLS TO MAKE

SURE THAT WE WERE REALLY LOOKING

OUT FOR OUR VOLUNTEERS, FOR OUR

STAFF AND OF COURSE ALL THE

PEOPLE COMING IN FOR HELP.

SO THAT ADDED ANOTHER LAYER ON

TOP OF EVERYTHING.

SO IN ADDITION TO THE BOX OF

PRODUCE THAT WE WERE

DISTRIBUTING, THE BOX OF

PERISHABLE PRODUCT, WHICH WAS

MEAT AND DAIRY, WE ALSO

DISTRIBUTED PPE TO EVERYBODY AT

EVERY ONE OF OUR DISTRIBUTION

EVENTS.

CONTINUING THROUGH TODAY.

>> AND THAT SEEMS LIKE THAT

WOULD BE AS IMPORTANT -- AT

LEAST DURING THE PANDEMIC AS THE

FOOD.

BUT I DO WANT TO ASK YOU TO

BUILD JUST A LITTLE ON --

BECAUSE YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT

WHAT IT WAS LIKE IN THE SUMMER

AND ALL OF THE FAMILIES YOU WERE

SERVICING.

BUT HERE WE ARE IN THE HOLIDAY

SEASON.

AND OF COURSE THIS TENDS TO BE A

TIME WHEN WE ARE CONDITIONS TO

THINK ABOUT THE LESS FORTUNATE

AND PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED.

ARE YOU SEEING AN EVEN BIGGER

INCREASE?

OR WHAT'S HAPPENING AT LEAST

WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION?

>> SO WE KNOW THAT THERE'S AN

INCREASE IN THE NEED IN OUR

COMMUNITY.

WE HAVE PEOPLE CALLING AND

COMING TO OUR DISTRIBUTION

POINTS WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN ON A

FOOD LINE BEFORE.

SO WE'VE HAD PEOPLE FROM WALL

STREET.

WE'VE HAD PHYSICIANS ON LINE.

WE'VE HAD PEOPLE WHO WORK IN THE

HOTEL INDUSTRY AND LANDSCAPING

INDUSTRY.

AND EVERYBODY IN BETWEEN.

ONE OF OUR COMMON PHRASES THAT

WE SAY TO VOLUNTEERS AT OUR

DISTRIBUTION EVENTS IS TODAY WE

ARE GOING TO SEE JAGUARS,

MERCEDES AND BMWs LINING UP

RIGHT NEXT TO THE FORDS,

CHEVIES, AND MAZDAS.

BUT WE TREAT EVERYBODY WITH

RESPECT BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW,

OTHER THAN THEM BEING IMPACTED

BY COVID, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT

ELSE IS GOING ON IN THEIR LIVES

AND WE WOULD EXPECT THE SAME IF

WE WERE ON LINE.

AND PEOPLE LAUGH WHENEVER WE SAY

THAT UNTIL THE CARS START COMING

ONTO THE LINE.

AND IT'S THE TRUTH ABOUT ALL THE

DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO

ARE COMING.

SO THE NEED IS INCREASED, WHICH

MEANS THAT THE FOOD AND THE

SUPPORT NEEDS TO INCREASE SO WE

CAN SUPPORT EVERYBODY WHO'S

COMING TO US FOR HELP.

PROGRAMS LIKE NOURISH NEW YORK

WAS ONE OF THOSE VERY IMPORTANT

PROGRAMS WHICH HELPED TO FILL IN

THE GAPS AND BEYOND BECAUSE IT

ACTUALLY ENABLED US TO ADD MANY

DISTRIBUTION EVENTS THAT WE

WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO

PROVIDE TO PEOPLE.

>> WELL, RANDI, WE'VE ONLY GOT

ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

SO I DO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT I

ASK YOU, FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE IN A

POSITION WHERE THEY'RE SEEING

THE STORY AND THEY'RE SAYING

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I WANT TO

SUPPORT, THAT'S SOMETHING I WANT

TO HELP, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO

DO THAT?

>> WE WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO

CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE,

ISLANDHARVEST.ORG.

OR IF YOU DON'T LIVE ON LONG

ISLAND, THE FOOD BANK

ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK IS

CALLED FEEDING NEW YORK STATE.

AND THERE'S A LISTING OF ALL OF

THE FOOD BANKS ACROSS THE STATE.

FOOD BANKS NEED HELP WITH FUNDS,

FOOD, AND WITH PEOPLE ROLLING UP

THEIR SLEEVES AND GETTING

INVOLVED AND VOLUNTEERING.

>> WELL, LISTEN, I WOULD LIKE TO

TAKE THE TIME NOW TO THANK NEW

YORK STATE COMMISSIONER OF

AGRICULTURE RICHARD BALL AND OF

COURSE HE RANDY SHUBIN DRESSNER,

PRESIDENT AND CEO OF ISLAND

HARVEST FOOD BANK, THE LARGEST

FOOD ORGANIZATION ON LONG

ISLAND.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US

AND REMINDING US ABOUT THIS

CRITICALLY IMPORTANT NEED THAT

I'M SURE UNFORTUNATELY WE'LL

AF

CONTINUE TO SEE INTO 2021.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> YOU GOT IT.

THANK YOU.

>>> HELLO.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

COMING OF AGE IS A DIFFICULT

JOURNEY FOR MOST YOUNG PEOPLE AS

THEY LEARN TO NAVIGATE THE WORLD

FOR THEMSELVES.

THIS JOURNEY CAN BECOME EVEN

MORE FRAUGHT WHEN ISSUES LIKE

GENDER, CLASS, AND RACE ARE

ADDED INTO THE MIX.

THESE ARE OFTEN SUBJECTS PARENTS

HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME DISCUSSING

OPENLY AND FRANKLY WITH THEIR

KIDS.

SO TO HELP FACILITATE THESE

CONVERSATIONS WITHIN FAMILIES

AND GIVE CHILDREN OF COLOR A

VARIETY OF NARRATIVES THAT

REFLECT THE PROFUNDITY OF THEIR

EXPERIENCES IN AN HONEST MANNER

ARE AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER WADE

HUDSON AND PUBLISHER AND EDITOR

CHERYL WILLIS.

WHOSE NEW BOOK "THE

TALK: CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE,

LOVE, AND TRUTH" AIMS TO SPARK

THOSE VERY CONVERSATIONS WITH

FAMILIES.

SO WADE AND CHERYL, WELCOME TO

"METROFOCUS."

>> GOOD TO BE HERE, JENNA.

>> THANK YOU.

>> OH, ABSOLUTELY.

FIRST, I GUESS, EVEN THOUGH IT

SEEMS KIND OF INTUITIVE

CONSIDERING EVERYTHING THE

COUNTRY IS DEALING WITH RIGHT

NOW, BUT WHY THIS BOOK?

WHEN DID IT COME INTO -- WHEN I

GUESS WAS THE GENESIS OF THIS

BOOK?

AND WHY DID YOU GUYS FEEL IT WAS

NECESSARY?

>> WELL, ACTUALLY, THE IDEA FOR

THIS BOOK WAS BORN IN 2018.

WE WERE WORKING ON ANOTHER

ANTHOLOGY CALLED "WE RISE, WE

RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES,"

WHICH WAS A RESPONSE TO WHAT WAS

HAPPENING IN THE POLITICAL

CULTURE AT THE TIME, THE

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

SO WE FELT THAT BECAUSE OF THE

TOXIC ENVIRONMENT THAT WAS

HAPPENING AT THE TIME THAT

CHILDREN NEEDED TO BE

ENCOURAGED, THEY NEEDED TO KNOW

THAT THEY'RE LOVED, SUPPORTED.

BECAUSE WE WERE READING STORIES

ABOUT KIDS BULLYING OTHER KIDS

BECAUSE THEY WERE DIFFERENT.

YOU KNOW, SO WE WANTED TO LET

THEM KNOW THAT WE LOVE THEM AND

IN SPITE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING WE

COULD GET THROUGH THIS.

SO WHEN THAT ANTHOLOGY WAS

RELEASED IT BECAME EVIDENT THAT

WE NEEDED TO EXPAND THE

CONVERSATION AND TO DEAL WITH

OTHER TOPICS THAT THAT

PARTICULAR ANTHOLOGY DID NOT

DEAL WITH.

>> THE TALK IS NEARLY AN

EXTENSION OF SEVERAL BOOKS WE'VE

BEEN WORKING ON.

>> MM-HMM.

>> WHAT WE'VE BEEN DEALING WITH

IN OUR PUBLISHING PROGRAM FOR

THE LAST 30 YEARS.

AND THAT AFFIRMATIONS OF BLACK

LIVES AND MULTICULTURAL LIVES OF

KIDS IN THIS COUNTRY.

SO "THE TALK" IS NOT ONE TALK

WITH BLACK KIDS ABOUT AVOIDING

THE POLICE OR WHAT YOU CAN DO

WHEN YOU HAVE AN ENCOUNTER WITH

THE POLICE BUT IT'S A TALK THAT

MANY PARENTS NEED TO HAVE WITH

THEIR CHILDREN, WHETHER IT'S

ABOUT BODY IMAGE OR SELF-ESTEEM

OR BULLYING OR BEING DIFFERENT

OR STEREOTYPES OF NATIVE CULTURE

OR -- BECAUSE YOU SPEAK A

DIFFERENT LANGUAGE OR BECAUSE

YOU'RE AN IMMIGRANT.

>> OF COURSE.

OF COURSE.

THIS OF COURSE IS AN ANTHOLOGY.

SO THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT

YOUNG UP-AND-COMING AUTHORS WHO

ARE INCLUDED.

I WAS WONDERING IF THERE WERE

SOME NAMES YOU COULD HIGHLIGHT

AND WHY YOU THOUGHT THEY BROUGHT

A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.

>> WELL, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF

AUTHORS, ILLUSTRATORS, THEY'RE

FRIENDS, THEY ARE SELENA ALCONE,

TRACY BAPTISTE, DEREK BARNES

WHO'S THE WINNER OF THE NEWBERRY

AWARD, NATASHA BUSCOS, COSBY

CABRERA.

THERE'S A LIST OF -- RON COLON.

NICKY GRIMES.

THESE ARE FAMILIAR VOICES IN

CHILDREN'S LITERATURE.

AS WELL AS WADE HUDSON AND AS

WELL AS?

AUTHORS WHO ARE MAYBE NOT SO

WELL KNOWN OR SO MUCH

HIGH-PROFILE BUT THEY'RE

WONDERFUL WRITERS WHO SPEAK TO A

NUMBER AND VARIETY OF

EXPERIENCE.

>> THERE ARE MEMBERS OF OUR

WRITING COMMUNITY, AND THESE ARE

PEOPLE WE KNOW, THESE ARE

WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS WE

KNOW, AND SOME OF THEM WE HAVE

RELATIONSHIPS WITH AS WELL.

IT'S A FAMILY KIND OF APPROACH.

THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS WITH THE

FIRST ANTHOLOGY.

AND IT WAS THAT WAY WITH "THE

TALK" AS WELL.

>> WELL, WADE, BECAUSE YOU ARE

ONE OF THE CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS

ANTHOLOGY I WAS WONDERING IF YOU

COULD JUST GIVE THE AUDIENCE AN

IDEA OF WHAT KIND OF NARRATIVES

ARE IN THIS BOOK BECAUSE YOU

TELL A VERY PERSONAL STORY.

>> YES.

IN FACT, MY SELECTION'S CALLED

"THE BITE."

AND I'M RECALLING AN EXPERIENCE

THAT I HAD WHEN I WAS 8 YEARS OF

AGE.

I GREW UP IN THE SOUTH, AND MY

FAMILY WAS VERY POOR.

THERE WERE EIGHT CHILDREN IN THE

FAMILY.

AND I WANTED A BIKE.

DURING THE EARLY FALL I STARTED

SELECTING THE BIKE THAT I WANTED

TO GET.

AND MY BROTHER WHO WAS A YOUNGER

THAN I, ALSO WANTED THE SAME

BIKE.

SO WE JUST KNEW WE WERE GOING TO

GET THIS BIKE.

SO AS CHRISTMAS CAME, STARTED TO

COME CLOSE, OUR PARENTS REALLY

DIDN'T SAY THAT THEY WEREN'T

GOING TO GET THE BIKE OR THEY

WERE GOING TO GET THE BIKE.

THEY JUST AVOIDED THE

CONVERSATION ABOUT IT.

SO ON CHRISTMAS DAY MY BROTHER

AND I RAN TO THE CHRISTMAS TREE

LOOKING FOR THE BIKE AND THE

BIKE WASN'T THERE.

AND SO I WAS REALLY DISTRAUGHT.

MY CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED.

SO I WENT TO THE BEDROOM AND I

LAID IN BED AND MY FATHER CAME

IN.

AND HE HAD THIS REALLY DIFFICULT

CONVERSATION WITH ME, EXPLAINING

THAT WE WERE TOO POOR TO BUY THE

BIKE.

AND I HAD NEVER HEARD THE WORD

"POOR" BEFORE OR "STRUGGLING"

BEFORE.

SO THAT REALLY HELPED TO OPEN MY

EYES ABOUT MY FAMILY'S

CONDITION.

>> YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS I

FIND SO INTERESTING IS BECAUSE I

BELIEVE YOU GUYS ARE PUBLISHING

UNDER JUSTICE US BOOKS.

IF I'M CORRECT, THAT'S THE NAME

OF THE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING

COMPANY?

>> YES.

>> OKAY.

SO THERE SEEMS TO BE THAT YOU

WERE DEFINITELY LOOKING TO FILL

A NEED THAT WAS IN THE

PUBLISHING INDUSTRY.

NOW, WE'VE HEARD FROM VARIOUS

DIFFERENT RESOURCES IN OTHER

NEWS OUTLETS THAT PUBLISHING CAN

LEAN TOWARD, YOU KNOW, VERY

WHITE AND VERY SORT OF UPPER

MIDDLE-CLASS, MAINSTREAM.

WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT TO

CREATE A SPACE FOR KIDS WHO

WEREN'T WHITE, WHO WEREN'T EVEN

MIDDLE CLASS, WHO WERE

STRUGGLING WITH SOME OF THESE

ISSUES TO HAVE A PLACE WHERE

THEY COULD BE REFLECTED IN AN

HONEST MANNER?

>> YOU KNOW, WE STARTED OUR

COMPANY OVER 30 YEARS AGO, AND

WE HAVE TWO CHILDREN.

WHEN THEY WERE GROWING UP, WE

WANTED TO HAVE BOOKS AND

LEARNING MATERIALS FOR THEM THAT

REFLECTED WHO THEY WERE.

AND IT WAS VERY HARD TO FIND

THEM IN THE RETAIL MARKET AND

EVEN IN SCHOOLS WHERE

MINORITIES, AS WE WERE CALLED AT

THAT TIME, WERE NOT NECESSARILY

PORTRAYED.

SO WE REALLY STARTED OUR COMPANY

FOR OUR CHILDREN AND TO PROVIDE

MATERIALS THAT REFLECTED THEM IN

A POSITIVE LIGHT.

WE HAD EXPERIENCE IN PUBLISHING.

BOTH WADE AND I HAD WORKED IN

PUBLISHING AND WRITING FOR A

NUMBER OF YEARS AND A LOT OF OUR

PROJECTS WERE TURNED DOWN BY THE

MAJOR PUBLISHING COMPANIES.

SO WE KNEW HOW TO DO THIS WORK,

AND WE DID IT -- BIT THE BULLET

AND LEAPT OUT ON FAITH AND

STARTED OUR OWN PUBLISHING

COMPANY.

ACTUALLY, WE STARTED OUR OWN

PUBLISHER WITH ONE BOOK BUT THEN

EXPANDED.

>> ACTUALLY, BEFORE WE STARTED

JUST US BOOKS WE HAD GONE TO

SEVERAL PUBLISHING HOUSES.

TO MANAGE WHAT WE HAD WRITTEN.

AND WE WERE TOLD THERE WAS NO

MARKET FOR THESE KINDS OF

MANUSCRIPTS.

ONE EDITOR EVEN SAID BLACK

PEOPLE DON'T BUY BOOKS.

AND WE KNEW THAT WASN'T TRUE.

THE PROBLEM WITH THAT WAS THESE

BOOKS WERE NOT AVAILABLE IN THE

MARKETPLACE.

>> AND ALSO THAT BOOKS FOR OUR

CHILDREN NEED TO BE DIVERSE.

THEY'RE AFRICAN-AMERICANS, UPPER

MIDDLE CLASS, MIDDLE CLASS,

POOR.

THERE'S A DIVERSITY TO OUR

CULTURE AND THAT SHOULD BE

REFLECTED IN THE BOOKS AND

MATERIALS THAT WE HAVE.

>> CHERYL, SPEAKING OF THE

DIVERSITY WITHIN AT LEAST JUST

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE,

LET ALONE SO MANY OF THE OTHER

EXPERIENCES OF PEOPLE OF COLOR

IN AMERICA BUT I WAS WONDERING

WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR NOT

JUST "THE TALK" TO ADDRESS SOME

OF THESE ISSUES BUT TO ALSO TALK

ABOUT HOW THEY FREQUENTLY

OVERLAP?

SOMETIMES WHEN A STORY ABOUT

RACE OR ABOUT CLASS OR ABOUT

BODY IMAGE IS PRESENTED TO A

YOUNG PERSON IT'S PRESENTED IN A

SORT OF LINEAR FASHION.

AND THIS WAS A SERIES OF STORIES

WHERE ACTUALLY THESE ISSUES

COMPOUND ON ONE ANOTHER.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

THE TALKS ARE INTERGENERATIONAL.

THEY'RE MULTILAYERED.

THEY DON'T EXIST IN SILOS.

AND ALTHOUGH WE ARE BACK 365

DAYS A YEAR, WE'RE ALSO

PUBLISHERS.

WE'RE PARENTS.

OUR CHILDREN BRUSH THEIR TEETH.

THERE ARE THINGS THAT ARE COMMON

AND UNIVERSAL IN ALL CULTURES.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF INTERSECTION

HERE.

THERE'S A VIETNAMESE AMERICAN.

THERE'S A MEXICAN AMERICAN.

THERE ARE BLACKS.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE

BIRACIAL.

IN THIS COLLECTION.

NATIVE STORIES ARE IN THIS

COLLECTION AS WELL.

>> AND ALSO, JENNA, WE THOUGHT

IT WAS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A WHITE

VOICE IN THIS COLLECTION.

SO WE INVITED ALEX GIBBLITS.

HE HAS WRITTEN A PIECE ABOUT

WHITE PRIVILEGE AND EXPLAINING

IT TO HIS DAUGHTER IN THE PIECE.

SO IN HAVING TO TALK ABOUT THE

TALKS, BECAUSE THERE ARE A

VARIETY OF TALKS, I THINK IT'S

IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US TO COME

TO THE TABLE.

NOT JUST PEOPLE OF COLOR.

BECAUSE WE COULD HAVE SOLVED THE

PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD AND THE

RACIAL PROBLEM, WE WOULD HAVE

DONE IT YEARS AGO.

SO WE NEED EVERYBODY TO THE

TABLE INCLUDING WHITE PEOPLE.

AND THESE IMPORTANT

CONVERSATIONS MUST BE HAD BY ALL

OF US.

AND AFTER THE CONVERSATIONS WE

HAVE TO GET UP AND DO THE WORK

TO MAKE THIS A BETTER PLACE FOR

EVERYBODY.

>> YES, AND I DID THINK THAT WAS

SO UNIQUE AND INTERESTING THAT

THIS ANTHOLOGY DID AS YOU SAID

INTENTIONALLY INCLUDE A TALK OR

A NARRATIVE WRITTEN BY A WHITE

AUTHOR AS WELL.

SO CLEARLY THIS BOOK IS FOR

EVERYONE.

IT IS NOT CERTAINLY JUST

SOMETHING FOR THE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN SECTION OF THE

BOOKSTORE.

IT'S FOR EVERYONE.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> AND IT'S LITERATURE.

THERE'S A COMBINATION -- IT'S

VERY CAREFULLY CURATED.

SO THEY ARE ESSAYS, THEY'RE

POEMS, THEY'RE LETTERS, THEY ARE

LISTS.

THERE ARE RESOURCES IN THE BACK

OF THE BOOK, AND THEY'RE BLACK

AND WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS FROM

PEOPLE OF VARIOUS CULTURES THAT

REALLY COMPLEMENT THE STORIES

THAT ARE IN THE COLLECTION.

>> AND ACTUALLY IT COULD NOT

HAVE BEEN RELEASED AT A MORE

IMPORTANT TIME.

AGAIN, WE STARTED WORKING ON

THIS COLLECTION TWO YEARS AGO.

AND NOW THE SOCIAL JUSTICE

THRUST IS RIGHT IN OUR FACE NOW.

SO THE BOOK IS JUST SO IMPORTANT

FOR THIS PARTICULAR TIME.

>> IT IS.

AND OF COURSE TIMING IS

EVERYTHING, ESPECIALLY FOR THE

RELEASE OF AN ARTISTIC PIECE.

WE'RE SLOWLY COMING UP ON THE

END OF OUR TIME.

BUT I DO WANT TO ASK ABOUT SOME

OF THE OTHER BOOKS THAT ARE

PUBLISHED FROM JUST US BOOKS.

AND I ASK BECAUSE SO OFTEN, AND

THIS IS TAPPING INTO MY OWN

EXPERIENCE, BUT AS AN

AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHILD

FREQUENTLY BOOKS THAT ARE

WRITTEN FOR CHILDREN OF COLOR

ARE USUALLY ABOUT HEAVIER

SUBJECTS, YOU KNOW, HISTORY

AND -- IT'S VERY IMPORTANT WE

UNDERSTAND THESE.

BUT AS I WAS GOING THROUGH SOME

OF THESE TITLES I THOUGHT IT WAS

VERY IMPORTANT TO HIGHLIGHT

THERE'S ALSO JUST BOOKS THAT

HAPPEN TO BE ABOUT CHILDREN OF

COLOR.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

THERE'S "JAMAL'S DAY."

ABOUT A LITTLE BOY WHO JUST

LOVES TO GO TO SCHOOL.

THERE'S "WHEN I WAS LITTLE"

ABOUT A GRANDFATHER AND A

GRANDSON WHO GO FISHING

TOGETHER.

THERE'S A LITTLE GIRL WHO LOVES

TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO AND PAINT

AND DO STORIES.

"THE OLD BLUE HOUSE" ABOUT A

LITTLE GIRL AND HER GRANDMOTHER

VISITING THE SOUTH.

THERE ARE A VARIETY OF

EXPERIENCES OF KIDS BEING KIDS

AND THEY HAPPEN TO BE BLACK

KIDS.

>> ALSO WE FOCUS ON BOOKS FOR

BOYS.

BECAUSE BLACK BOYS ARE OFTEN

LEFT OUT OF A LOT OF THE BOOKS

THAT ARE PUBLISHED.

AND THERE'S A SERIES CALLED KID

CARAMEL.

IT'S ABOUT A LITTLE BOY, A

LITTLE BLACK BOY THAT CONSIDERS

HIMSELF A DETECTIVE.

SO HE GOES AROUND HIS COMMUNITY

TRYING TO SOLVE CASES.

THERE ARE FOUR BOOKS IN THAT

SERIES.

WE ALSO HAVE ANOTHER BOOK CALLED

"NEAT."

AND THEY'RE FIVE -- THREE HIGH

SCHOOL YOUNGSTERS.

SO THE BOOKS REVOLVE AROUND

THEIR INTERRELATIONSHIPS AND THE

THINGS THEY DO IN THEIR

COMMUNITY.

>> I ALSO WANT TO POINT OUT YOU

THAT DO HAVE BOOKS LIKE "BOOK OF

BLACK HEROES FROM A TO Z" OF

GREAT WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR

POLITICAL LEADERS.

SO THERE ARE BIOGRAPHIES AS

WELL.

>> UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE RUN

OUT OF TIME.

I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR

JOINING ME.

WADE HUDS OKAY AND CHERYL

WILLIS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THE BOOK IS CALLED "THE

TALK: CONVERSATIONS ABOUT LOVE

AND TRUTH."

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> ABSOLUTELY, JENNA.

>> THANK YOU.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> BYE-BYE.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND

DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE

ZUCKERBERG, AND BY JANET PRINDLE

SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.