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tv   PBS News Weekend  PBS  May 7, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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♪ geoff: good evening. i'm geoff bennett. tonight on pbs news weekend... as russia prepares to celebrate its "victoryay," a stalemate in the battle for eastern ukraine, and the last civilians evacuate mariupol. then... the latest u. jobs report shows a year of solid growth, but as the economy recovers from the pandemic, inequality persists. and... our weekend spotlight: author and violinist brendan slocumb shares his experience in the world of classical music and how it inspired his writing. brendan: i know that the violin saved my life. i know that for a fact. geoff: those stories and the day's headlines on tonight's "pbs news weekend." ♪
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>> major funding for "pbs news weekend" has been provided by -- >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been helping people connect. we offer a number of plans. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit our website. ♪ >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions -- and friends of the newshour. ♪
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. geoff: it is good to be with you. we start our broadcast tonight in ukraine, where president volodymyr zelenskyy today announced that all women children and elderly had been evacuated from that steel mill in the beseiged city of mariupol. the country is bracing for stepped-up russian attacks, as russia prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the victory over nazi germany. nick schifrin has our report from kharkiv. nick: in moscow's red square, a wartime dress rehearsal. soldiers prepare for monday's victory day, marking the defeat of nazi germany in world war ii. this year, the kremlin is expected to invoke not only bygone glory, but also claim a victory in the grinding conflict
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next door in ukraine. outside the eastern city of kharkiv, russian missiles hit a museum dedicated to an 18th century philosopher and poet. ukraine accuses russia of trying to erase its history, and even forcibly deport its citizens to russia. natalia: their aim is to destroy us, ukrainians. to destroy our culture and traditions. our people. to take our children to russia and destroy their memory about ukraine. nick: in neighboring romania today, first lady jilliden witnessed ukrainian children proud of their ukrainian memories. she visited a school that hosts 40 children, all of whom had to leave some family members behind, including seven-year-old mila from kyiv. mila: i want to return to my father. nick: 12 million ukrainians, more than a quarter of the country, have fled their homes. and by the end of the year, the u.n. warns nearly 60 percent of ukrainians will need humanitarian assistance.
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earlier this week i spoke to manal fouani, the u.n. development program's deputy ukraine representative, about the scale of the crisis. manal: the scale we haven't witnessed since the second world war, at least the destruction of info structure, public services that are destroyed because of heavy bombardment. this war has a high cost not only on infrastructure but also human, social and economic lives. if this war continues, nine out of 10 ukrainians will fall into poverty, whereas on the 23rd of february, we were talking about only 2.5% poverty in ukraine. from 2.5% to 90% in one year because of this war, it is not
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ok. nick: is it difficult to help them while the war continues to rage? manal: we have to help some while the war is happening but we have to help them stop the war. the government continues to function. it is the destruction we are facing and they are facing, and they show a high level of perseverance. this is not a country that has faced this scale of war anytime before. in 201 the conflict was quite big. now we're talking about a full-fledged war on the on the country as a whole. but you will be amazed that this government is moving super fast, is moving fast in their considerations of recovery and reconstruction planning. there are tremendous humanitarian needs. the most actually prominent one, is ensuring that there is an immediate mine action or mine clearance, and this is where undp has launched a pilot project to ensure that a safe passage and return of the population will happen. but as i said, the government is
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fast. they're not waiting. the resilience and capacities are just remarkable. nick: a personal question. you spent more than five years working on syria. i wonder how you think of the scale and the challenges here compared to something even as large as syria. manal: the human suffering is the same everywhere. no one ever should go through this. and no one ever should live a day of war. but at the same time, i think we've witnessed in ukraine the displacement in two months of what was witnessed in syria in ten years. and this is where it's essentia that peace comes as soon as possible because the human suffering should not continue. humanity has to prevail and humanity needs to regain its essence and its priorities while we all work together towards a common objective, which is peace and then peaceful solution for all human beings, no matter where they are. geoff: our thanks to nick schifrin. and a note -- our coverage of the war in ukraine is supported in partnership with the pulitzer
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center. in today's headlines... cleanup continues in cuba, after a powerful gas explosion at a hotel in havana yesterday killed at least 26 people and injured dozens more. the blast tore the facade completely from one side of the building, sending plumes of dust into the air, and coveringhe street with rubble. the hotel was closed for renovations, but workers were inside. it w scheduled to reopen tuesday. in afghanistan today, the taliban have ordered all women to cover their faces in public, except for their eyes. if a woman does not follow the rules, her so-called male guaran will face jail time. the taliban imposed similar restrictions on women dung their previous rule decades ago. human rights advocates blasted the order as repressive. and... a warning for parents -- the cdc is investigating more than 100 unusual hepatitis cases inids. so far, five children have died. more than a dozen have needed
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liver transplants. 25 states and territories reported these mysterious hepatitis cases since october. there are also cases under investigation in europe. the cause remains unknown, but scientists believe there's a possible link to the adenovirus, which causes respiratory illness. still to come on "pbs news weekend"... weook at efforts to boost representation in the wedding industry, to match the growing number of intercultural marriages. and... our weekend spotlight with violinist and author brendan slocumb, about his riveting, page-turning debut novel. ♪ >> this is pbs news weekend from weta studios in washington, home of the pbs newshour. geoff: the latest jobs report for april shows the u.s. capping
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a year of solid growth. employers added 428,000 jobs in april, and the unemployment rate remains steady at 3.6%. that's a pandemic-era low. but as the economy recovers from the pandemic, inequality persists. black unemployment stands at 5.9%. that's close to double that of white workers. for more on this i'm joined by maurice jones. he's the former commerce secretary of virginia, and a former housing and urban development official. jones is now the ceo of an organization called oneten, which seeks to close the opportunity gap. it's great to have you with us here in studio. maurice: thanks, man. geoff: i want to start with this -- what accounts for this disparity in employment and in wages? maurice: so the disparity is really about the holistic picture of blacks in the economy today, right? you have to have quality training, you have to have access to transportation, all of those things impact one's employment, one's wages, one's ability to get to a job. and so all those things have to be addressed in order to really
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close this, if you will, employment gap that you're seeing. geoff: and so how is oneten seeking to do that? and then we should say your organization is trying to get 1 million african american workers into sustainable successful careers over the next 10 years. maurice: over the next 10 years, that's right. so one of the challenges is the impact of systemic barriers, if you look at black talent in the workforce today, ages 25 and above, 76% of us do not yet have a four year degree. so you literally have a systemic barrier in the forof a credential to black talent, and by the way, other talent of color, earning their way into the middle class. geoff: how has your organization sort of stepped into the breach here and helped people? maurice: what we're doing now with companies is challenging them to recredential their jobs. so a real concrete example is, we now have -- i'll give you an example without naming a company
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-- a major health care company that has operations not only in the u.s., but also outside of couny. they now as a result of joining oneten have decided that they're going to reposition, rebuild all of their jobs from a skills first perspective. that means that now where they have some jobs that require you to have a certain academic degree to actually enter, if there are additional ways that you could actually get the skills for those jobs, they're going to remove that academic credential as a requirement for the job. geoff: i think your personal story is in many ways instructive and inspirational. you were born into a small farming family in in rural virginia, worked your way up, ultimately was a rhodes scholar and then became a leading voice in politics and business. what were the inflection points
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in your career? maurice: the first inflection point is my grandparents, right? my grandfather born in 1914. by the way, he went to school in a barn for six years and then because of his color, had to go to work, could not go to school. grandmother born in 1919. went to school because she could walk. she went to the segregated colored school. another inflection point for me was when i was 14 years old, eighth grade, i was on a debate team in my junior high school, and a science teacher introduced me to a senator, a state senator, and said, hey, we think you would be a good candidate to be a page in the general assembly. i had no idea what a page was. the only page i knew up with the ones in books, so i looked at them real strange, like, what are you all up to here? [laughter] but i went off and i became a page. and during that time, i saw all these lawmakers -- i am a -yeaol -th l des,
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and so i concluded wow, if i want to make a difference in the world, i'm going to try to become a lawyer. and so my ambition to become a lawyer was forged because of this eighth grade science teacher. introduced me to a state senator. geoff: it goes back to that notion that you can't be what you can't see, and that people need to be able to see themselves in these different environments. maurice: yes. it also goes back to the notion -- the notion of being self made. i just don't know any self made folks. l ni she ntemaeoelplotf de. -- y grandmother, my science teacher, my coaches, my professors -- they made me. so that's the key. and the other piece of it for me is you can start anywhere, and if you've got people who love you and who will invest in you, your opportunities are certainly going to, to your point, they're going to outstretch your vision.
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that's for sure. geoff: and now you're trying provide similar opportunities for so many other people. maurice: i'm just trying to keep telling my grandmother and grandfather, thank you. geoff: maurice jones, thanks so much for coming in. ♪ the wedding industry is up and running again as more venues reopen, more people are vaccinated and couples reschedule their canceled plans due to covid. but with the return of weddings comes the return of a lack of services catered to people of color and nontraditional couples. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro looks at how some in the industry are hoping to change that. fred: it was called colorful weddings, a wedding expo intended to push the bridal business beyond bridal white. >> so much of the names dream wedding community doesn't realize all of these is this is exist -- businesses exist. fred: rena started her wedding
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planning businesses in 2019. she has been to classes on how to market her company, how and instagram should look. >> ware told, you need to have these rights, white, airy photographs. immediately i am like that color aesthetic it not apply to every wedding good fred: for her own wedding, she struggled to find vendors who understood the traditions and nuances of her celebration. >> a traditional evening of dancing, and what exactly are the elements, henna, and someone he didn't have to walk through through the entire process. we wanted also to include something west african and i could not find anybody. fred: that could be because diverse vendors have struggled to break into mainstream business.
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she says most event centers work with a small group of preferred caterers, for example, that limit options for ethnic cuisine. >> it is very hard to penetrate into any area. fred: it's not just venues that shut out ethnic startups. this wedding planning company offers a distantly african aesthetic. >> if you want to get your work in a publication, it is so hard. >> we've been talking to people and referrals and things like that. >> i think the wedding industry lags behind, and some of that is because it is an industry that is selling "tradition." fred: this professor says that tradition began in the upper classes in victorian england but really took off america after
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world war ii, and curiously, as a result of it. >> there were many people like the dupont company that specialized in the makg of synthetic fabrics during the war that wanted to find a way to put that technology to use in peace times. so making inexpensive white gownwas a way to do that. it was largely white, working-class and middle-class families who really rushed to embrace what had been previously an elite custom. fred: she says it is important to include vendors that have caught up to the reality of a changing america. >> if we are going to make in the wedding industry, more diverse, we need to promote vendors who cater to a more diverse customer. >> for me, i think the place
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where maybet has come to the surface most is aroun makeup. i am a little wary of going to an artist that doesn't know how to work with my skin tone and coloring. fred: they discovered ideas for their coming wedding celebration were not easily found in magazines or online. >> we wanted to not have a traditional wedding cake and there are some cool vendors here who do people -- do beautiful cake, like a south asian suite. >> it's nice to be in a space that gets the conversations out of just us, and there is not just one script for what a wedding looks like. fred: and for nontraditional couples, acceptance is perhaps growing but never guaranteed. this couple has been nervous at times while planning their wedding. >> do they know? how will they think about it
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when they do know we are same-sex couple? >> so far, walking in here, i was expecting them to be like where is your groom, but right away they are like when is your wedding? they assumed, which was ce. fred: and potentially profitable, with the average cost of an american wedding approaching $30,000. >> we have a situation because of changes in our u.s. society, that more persons of color and members of same-sex couples have a kind of purchasing power into security in our society that allows them to be customers for professionally produced weddings. fred: a more than $50 billion business she expects will see a post-pandemic surge this year. ♪
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geoff: now to our weekend spotlight, with brendan slocum. he spent most of his career as a teacher, but he has released a novel. we sat down in the foyer of the kennedy center for arts in washington, d.c. brendan: "the violin conspiracy" is the story of ray, who discovers that his old family fiddle is actually a priceless stradivarius violin. this discovery catapults him into superstardom in theorld of classical music, and right before the tchaikovsky competition, which is the olympics of classical music, his violin is stol. will he compete? will he win? will he get it back? will he find out who took it? you gotta read it to find out. geoff: why write this particular story? brendan: because it's mine. it's my story, and it's very personal to me. there are so many instances in the book that actually took place.
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and it's just a very, very personal story that i feel has real world ilications to any and everyone. it could apply to anyone. anyone in this world could be ray mcmillan. anyone could be. geoff: yeah. and how have you had to create space for yourself in the world of classical music in much the same way that ray did? brendan: yo iknt owwa, yougu do as ll th, i practice the parts, i take the auditions, i make sure that i have everything learned. and then you go in and people still don't believe that you're capable. they don't believe that you're going to be able to give the same level of a performance that my white counterpart would. and it still happens. and, you know, i just kind of smile and sit there and i have to prove myself over and over again. but i'm accustomed to it, so i just do it. i just sit down and do it. geoff: rejection is part of the creative arts. i think everybody experiences that. but what does it feel like when that rejection is not connected to skill? brendan: it's very hurtful because you begin to second guess yourself constantly.
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it's like, well, i know this pers made it, but i didn't. and i know i play better than this person because i've always played better than this person. they even admit it, you know, what is it about me that, you know, i put in all of the work that i needed to. i did everything that i was supposed to do. and it still didn't happen. it is disconcerting and it hurts. it does. geoff: ray is by no means a pushover, the way you've written him. he calls people out on their prejudices. why was it important to give him that sort of level of courage? brendan: because as a ma as a black man, when you experience things like this, you have a choice. you can ther just kind of let it go or call it out when you see it. call it what it is. that doesn't necessarily mean at you're jumping right into just being angry and belligerent and everything. you just call it out like it is. geoff: did you ever feel uncomfortable writing a character that sort of closely mirrored your own life? brendan: believe it or not, no. it's actually been quite cathartic because i get the opportunity to share these stories that have happened to me, you know, over and over again. and i actually get a sense of,
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ok, i'm putting it on the page and now people we'll s that, you know, when they told me ou're exaggerating" or you are just blowing that out of proportion -- no, i'm not. it's real. this is my experience. geoff: what you mean is some of the indignities that you had to deal with as a result of race. brendan: 100%. they told me that i was wrong, you're looking at this the wrong way. you're not taking it the way that he meant it. well how did he mean it? you weren't even there. i'm telling you what happened to me. this is my perspective and my perspective is not wrong. it's just my perspective. geoff: how has classical music, how has playing the violin changed your life? brendan: changed my life. saved my life. totally saved my life. i would be in prison or dead right now, were not for -- geoff: you know that for a fact. brendan: i do know that for a fact. i do. i had zero aspirations. i had, you know, a lot of my
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friends that i grew up with, you know, they were doing bad things. they werin prison. some of them are unfortunately deceased now because of their activities. when they were out running around, i was practicing. when they were breaking into someone's house, i was on a trip. you know, i got to travel because of my violin. it took me to college. i've met some incredible people. i've, you know, gotten to do things that people will never think, they just dream about. 'i'anoteeven'tolete t gore sn se experience those things were it not for music. so i know that the violin saved my life. i know that for a fact. geoff: whaadvice would you give to particularly young black youth who look at the world of classical music and don't see themselves reflected in it? brendan: i would say, and i do say, if you see me, you see you, i could be you you could be me. ♪ all it takes, i said, never close your mind to anything. never. never let anyone tell you you can't do something, and never, ever, ever give up on what ie. dot is, ifoue it lding ouyou baatck? y someone else saying that you can't do that? they don't have to live your life. it's your life. you've got to live it. go for what you love. go for it. 100%. geoff: good advice.
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brendan slocumb, appreciate it. brendan: thank you. appreciate it. ♪ geoff: that is "pbs news weekend" for tonight. tomorrow, we dig into the biden white house plan for student debt reflief. i'm geoff bennett. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at "pbs news weekend," thanks for spending part of your saturday with us. ♪ >> major funding for "pbs news weekend" has been provided by -- ♪ and with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions -- ♪
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers likyou. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.]
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[ wind whistling ] -the day you walked through that gate, you know you lost something. there are some things in your heart that you can't forget. -we were afraid. we looked like the enemy, but we're american citizens. -we were stripped of our civil rights. we were stripped of everything! -towers, searchlights, barbed-wire fences around us.

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