tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera August 16, 2015 8:00am-8:31am EDT
publishing government press releases. hello, is that the cemetery. >> this is the newspaper, we're not dead - yet. >> i'm ali velshi. "on target" in philadelphia, tonight, black votes matter. why so many african american men are missing in the polls. plus history in havana, how so many americans could profit from opening of diplomacy. the watts riots in los angeles started when a white highway patrol officer stopped a black motorist suspected of drunk driving.
on lookers rushed in. many believed they were witnessing another example of excessive force against african american men. the rage quickly deinvolve devoo a long six days. later urged law enforcement agencies to change their policing methods in black communities. it said those methods promoted a quote deep and long standing schism between the two, in the decades since, the mistrust is still there. even triggering deep tensions in places like ferguson, missouri. this week's one year anniversary of the shooting death of michael brown was marked by more protest and more violence. even though officer involved was exonerated in the incident, the investigation found that local
police purposely target ed african americans with petty tickets and arrests. according to one estimate calculated by the new york times, one and a half million black men in america have gone missing from their communities. these are men who have disappeared because of higher than average incarceration rates or premature death. activist in the community, one activist in philadelphia where i am tonight is going out and registering more black men to vote and he's using an important cultural institution found in every black community: barber shops. duarte geraldino reports. ♪ ♪ >> do you plan to vote? >> i always vote. >> so why are you so different? there are a lot of black men who don't vote but you always vote. why is that?
>> i'm not an rn. >> what does that mean? you're not an rn? >> regular negro. >> there are 800 barber shops in fistles and thousands of barbers. because of the important social role bash be barber shops play in the community, woody vail plans to train bac barbers, to talk to people about registering to vote. >> they are always going to have their customers. even when the project is over they can still get the information. that has the key, they have status, key stakeholders in the comiernt. >> woody's program is called sharp snielgt.
he's lawrping it with a $250,000 communication grant from the knight foundation. this is one of 22 projects that won funding through a competition called the knight news challenge. to tackle civic problems like low voter turnout and political engagement in low income and communities of color. >> the project is geared towards black men because we have different issues around voting and being involved civically. >> according to a new york times analysis philadelphia ranks third in the country for the missing number of african american men behind new york and chicago. these are men who either died young or in prison. >> in philadelphia we had a big crack cocaine epidemic in the '80s and '90s, a lot of men were involved in that, sad to say, they got caught up. >> according to a 2013 census report black men had one of the lowest turnout rates in america,
so many would be voters are incarcerated. network of law enforcement has stripped 1.5 million men of the right to vote, primarily because of felony convictions. >> most men can vote but they think if they had a felony they're unable to vote. it depends on their circumstance circumstances. we want to inform men, check out your own status. this is where you go to find that information out and it is very easy to do. >> woody thinks one way to do that is explore the unique relationships of barber shops in the earn american community. >> the barber shop has always been a place of social meeting, particularly between the ages the years ever segregation. >> they all came to the black barber shop because they needed to be shaved.
they needed their haircut. they were talking about real issues going on. most important tactics regarding the sit ins and civil rights, were discussed at barber shop. >> black men and women who managed to avoid the incarceration that keeps many from the polls. >> so our goal is say 50 bar barbers they're going to talk to about 20 people month, probably more than that, they'll have repeat customers. their customers will talk to their family their friends social media. so we think we'll reach somewhere between 90 and 100,000 people in philadelphia with the project. >> willy says if the data shows his project actually increases the voting turnout among people in philadelphia, he'll do it around the country.
>> joining me is duarte geraldino. duarte, is there any evidence that this actually works? >> there is actually ali, there is evidence that it actually works. the same group behind sharper insight they actually employed barber shops and salons to reach african americans during the last presidential election where they registered voters and screened for stds. by their own data they were screening 200 people within a six hour period per day. the knight foundation not only looked at that data, that was one of the reasons they were awarded $250,000. >> especially during both elections of president obama, how much does this have to do with women? >> a lot. women across the board vote more often more regularly than men do
but that gender gap is typically around 3% but for african americans it soars, somewhere around the lines of 9%. partly the way the numbers are calculated. they take the number of voting age people and they actually determine how many of those people actually voted. because so many african american men are incarcerated and have been touched by the justice system, their numbers are smaller ali. >> get me the impact, other than the positive impact of having people actually vote if they can? >> this is realm of political science and a lot of scholars speculate. they say one measure of the potential impact is to consider all the men who are not in prison. if you take all those numbers out who have not had their right to vote taken away because of felony convictions and you look at their turnout, the african american men in this particular group it is even higher than women. so the goal is if we can get the other men involved then perhaps
>> can you sit tight please, these are bangers, trying to keep our city clean. >> these are artists. >> seriously? >> rappers, rap is not an art. who are you? >> i'm the manager. >> you're wasting your time, mr. manager, these clients of yours, thee rappers, they look like gang members. >> that is a clip out of compton. hip hop pioneers nwa. takes place in the '80s and early '90s. many of the eit items still take place. issues like high rates of incarceration.
dice raw is doing it through music including a musical play called the last jimmy, take a look. >> dumb ass predicaments. now the system is hor powered like horsepowerredby 1,000 decisions. >> dice raw joins me now. >> good to see you ali. >> we are in this system where everybody is talking about differences in inequality, tensions between black communities minority communities, you were involved in this theatrical piece, debuted a few years ago like this. are you looking for it to be an expression through art or were you looking for social change? from of course we archange? >> of course we are looking for social change.
with the last jimmy i wanted to express myself which i was inspired by the book new jim crow to say something that of course will have a soabl ripple effect. >> you were inspired by the book but the story has also got something to do with your experience growing up in philadelphia. >> of course, definitely. as we all know with the mass incarceration rates, one out of three black males would expect to go to prison in their lifetimes, because that affects me, most of my friends are growing up in the inner city, have been incarcerated and will be incarcerated, we don't know where those statistics lie and how that's going to affect our lives or live our lives on a daily basis. >> in the show is the story of a man who made stupid decisions bad decisions including who represented him in court goes into prison and is making a phone call talking about the
fact that he feels like he missed his life, a young black man going to prison for any length of:00 is going to replies out on. >> of course especially with rebellion culture. the way we are brought up in the inner city is to be desensitized to crime and performing crime. a young black male you are a child of ufnl 82 criminality. you give yourself to the streets of watts or philadelphia like you spoke of earlier, you still have a brain of a child even though you have done a grown up crime. >> we can't let these kids rent cars but they can commit crimes. >> exactly. not only can they commit crimes but they will be punished in an adult fashion. my friend never had a driver's license, never lived with a woman, never had his own apartment, these were liberties taken away. >> you and i were talking before
this started, and you thought way prisons are operated makes it worse. >> the way the prisons are set up now in the united states, they're almost like criminal college. you go in with having very little information and come out with even more than you thought you could acquire. most of my friends have been incarcerated murdered or just missing from the black community. and in that , i think the problem is that the prisons are nonreforming. >> let's talk about missing, when somebody told me about the number of black men that were missing, that means they are taken out of economic and social ant political participation, what does it mean on a black community or any urban community
when you have these men gone somewhere? >> it's a big lack, there's a lack of father figures, fathers, brothers, big brother figures, people who can contribute to society. sure, most of those brothers who are locked up or missing or murdered were due to mistakes or small crimes. and you know just small incidents that ballooned into something bigger which now they are mia. >> and there's also political influence, a lack of political influence at a time like this when political decisions need to be made, we found out in ferguson a majority black town with very little representation both on the police and the city council, these people become disengaged, you don't tend to engage in the political process. >> i think that black males don't engage in political process as a whole because they feel like they have nothing to
gain or they feel like they have nothin nopurpose. even with barack obama being president of the united states i think you know moving forward that this next election just doesn't speak to black people. >> let me ask you this: a lot of people think when government run things don't work that we should privatize them. you don't think that's a solution for prisons. >> not at all. i think privatized prisons is even a bigger part of the problem because then we start locking up people for a profit and less of rehabilitation than making a dollar off these people with the visi-phones and the internet, these people are getting charged an insane amount for just potato chips or cigarettes, these are superly taxed.
>> the stars and stripes are once again flying over the american embassy in cuba. it's been 54 years since cubans last saw that. the flag raising marks the end beginning of the end of half century of tensions between the two countries but they remain. while many cubans are hoping that the reestablishment of relations will increase prosperity, others are keeping expectations low. david ariosto is in cuba with the story. >> bending around havana's
southern rim is malacon, long a meeting spot for cuba's lovers. musicians, poets. offering cubans a perch together and rest. so i.t., the famed malacon. partially built by the u.s. army corps of engineers back before fidel castro was a thought in this country. on a good day you can actually pick up radio stations from southwest florida. all sorts of people walk along this area, sometimes they're even talking about politics. and so i sat down with a few cubans to get their take on what this new u.s. embassy actually means. >> what do you think of all these changes between united states and cuba? >> there are changes. finally. and hopefully it will help the country. but you know changes they don't always benefit everyone.
it really just depends on your point of view. >> what is your point of view sitting on the malacon, what's your sense of it all? >> in my opinion, there's still a lot missing. >> after fidel castro rolled to power in 1959 he nationalized property. guide the improve into it th despite the normalization of the relations, cuba's economy fell into turmoil, it was in 1994 that protests erupted across the malacon. but for these days, those taxi driver fidel baroso, this area
is like a reprieve. there's dancing, there's always music at night. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: in the evening the malacon offers a light hearted rum soaked atmosphere where people dance or at least try to. so this is the night club, havana's night club here. and you get the sense that people come down here to really relax. for the serious note, cubans make about $20 a month and that's just too little to afford the restaurants in other parts of the city. they come down here to relax and enjoy the breeze. microfinance allowed under new
u.s. regulations is starting to pump cash into a cash strapped economy. money isn't always the prime concern. so just off the malacon is this park that is sort of euphemistically called a park of death or life and it's named that because all these people here are waiting to get into the embassy. and the hope is that now that we have some improved relations between cuba and the united states, this process will get a little bit faster. because some of these people have been waiting for years just to get processed to wait for their family. >> yoanni says he is waiting to get his visa approved to see his father in miami. >> from today it's been three years, i don't know what it's going to be like under the new law. >> for those here on the malacon those are the new questions. will the new u.s. embassy speed up this process and will improved relations actually mean changes in the day-to-day lives of
everyday cubans. >> david ariosto joins us from havana. this flag raising over the old embassy, what does it mean in practical terms? you just told us the embargo stays in place. what does it actually do? >> you're absolutely right ali, it is largely a symbolic gesture. that flag behind me has a certain amount of significance. it essentially says cuba is open for business. an american flag over an embassy is a certain sense that businesses can come into the country. not only american businesses that can start to do business in a progressive way, but other businesses across the country or consume across the region here. cuba nationalized private property and confiscated
industries, exxon mobil, coca-cola and that drove investment out of the country. the reason for the economic trade embargo. having this flag here says there's some legitimacy here and that cuba is open for business. >> and of course those repossessed properties those confiscated properties are a big topic of republican opposition to this opening of diplomatic relations. a lot of those businesses were small to even medium size businesses. cuba says that's not going to happen, what about the others that had their businesses confiscated are they going to let that go or seek legal redress from the cuban government? >> you know there's a lot of gray areas and it's a really complicated issue right now but basically what we're looking at here is estimates anywhere ranging from $7 billion of confiscated properties, that
amounts to the industries, and then residents who have fled omiami. from the industry analysts i've heard, chances of reclaiming that property cuba has made to indication of that. when you talk about the coca-cola or exxon mobiles there are things that the government could do if they tried to broach these issues in the future. tax holidays for ten, 15 years, these are some things that have been floated in the u.s. but obviously one of the big things that cuba wanted from all of this was to get infusion of finance because this country is certainly cash strapped. a lot of money had gotten through venezuela oil subsidies have essentially dropped because of the haling of oil prices and cuba is looking for financing
from the biggest country in the region. >> david ariosto in havana for us. on monday i'll look at the california's historic drought. >> the drought has gotten so severe for the first time ever california has issued statewide water restrictions. some residents and farmers are concerned those restrictions could get even more severe. the irony is there's all this ocean water and it stretches for about a thousand miles up the california coast. >> the common guy on the street he looks at the ocean and says you know why don't we just stick a straw in it and what the hell? >> that's "on target" on monday. that's our show this week, i'm ali velshi and thank you for joining me today in philadelphia. >> al jazeera america primetime. get the real news you've been looking for. at 7:00, a thorough wrap-up of the day's events.
then at 8:00, john seigenthaler digs deeper into the stories of the day. and at 9:00, get a global perspective. weeknights, on al jazeera america. >> this week on "talk to al jazeera" - john lydon, lead singer of "the sex pistols" - the band that ignited a punk rock revolution. >> pain, suffering, the disenfranchised, unnecessary poverty, class warfare, all of these issues bother me greatly. >> he was a man who generated headlines and controversy. famous, of course, for his hit "god save the queen". >> [singing] god save the queen, the fascist regime. >> taking aim at the british monarchy. >> they're an accident of birth, they were born in a birdcage and i feel very sorry for them..