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tv   The Week With Joshua Johnson  MSNBC  July 10, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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fighting to control the majority of afghanistan. they have formed a ring around kabul. president biden forcefully defended his decision to pull out all u.s. troops by the end of august. >> it is up to the people of afghanistan to decide on what government they want. >> reporter: but afghan army and police units are collapsing, surrendering to the taliban with their weapons. many afghans consider their government corrupt and ineffective and appear unwilling to fight for it. president biden also promised to evacuate thousands of translators who worked with american forces. the taliban considers them traitors. >> there is a home for you in the united states if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us. >> reporter: in the back room of a cafe in kabul i met tom. that's what u.s. troops called him. he did more than 150 combat operations and lived with american forces in close
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quarters. did you hear president biden's promise? he said the people who -- people like you, have a home in the u.s., they can come and live in the u.s., the door is open. >> i got a lot of news, a lot of announcements, but there is no action. >> reporter: tom put in his visa application four years ago. >> you helped the u.s., now the u.s. needs to help you. >> yep. >> reporter: simple as that. >> the u.s. army, the u.s. government has to help us. >> reporter: seems reasonable. >> that was nbc's richard engel reporting. well, it is the top of the hour and it is very good to be with you tonight. the delta variant of covid has been detected in every state, so why are so many of us still not vaccinated? we will dig into the misinformation campaign that could be holding some people back. plus, more than a half million people have signed a petition to let sha'carri richardson run in the tokyo olympics. our panel will dive into the changing debate over cannabis in sports. and when it comes to
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spelling, america has a new queen bee. she is the first african-american winner of the scrypts national spelling bee. she is making history and she is repeating the history you may not know about. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, i'm joshua johnson. welcome to "the week." ♪ ♪ let's begin with covid. the delta variant is driving a new rise in cases in the u.s. and around the world. this week organizers of the tokyo olympics announced spectators would be banned from attending. japan declared a state of emergency in the capital where the delta variant is spreading. here in the u.s. vaccination efforts have stalled. only about two-thirds of adults have received at least one dose. i want to say this as straightforward as i can so there's no ambiguity.
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if you are unvaccinated, then you are literally among the only people covid is killing right now. the cdc said this week that 99.5% of covid deaths are unvaccinated people. the correlation between rising covid cases and unvaccinated people is so clear, especially when you look at these two maps. on the left you see counties where covid cases are surging. on the right are the counties where less than 40% of people are vaccinated. they're almost a perfect overlap. now, on tuesday president biden announced a renewed effort to bring the vaccine directly to the people. >> now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and oft times door to door, literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus. >> the vaccine is widely
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available now, so why are so many of us still not vaccinated? well, part of the answer might be an atmosphere of misinformation. some republican politicians and right wing news outlets are railing against the president's vaccine push. south carolina governor henry mcmaster tried to block the door-to-door efforts and fox news host tucker carlson falsely claimed mr. biden was forcing people to get a shot. he called it, quote, the greatest scandal in my lifetime by far. to be clear, the federal government is not mandating vaccinations. with that, let's bring in our saturday panel. jenny yang is a comedian, writer and actor. with us is nbc senior reporter brandy zadrozni. hayes brown is a writer and editor for msnbc daily. good to see all of you, hayes, let me start with you and white house press secretary jen psaki responding on thursday to criticisms from south carolina's
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governor and others. here is part of what she said. >> the failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country including south carolina, is literally killing people. this is not federal employees going door to door. this is grassroots volunteers. this is members of the clergy. >> hayes, what do you make of the response to the white house's efforts and of the white house's response to the response to its efforts? >> the response in the first place is baffling. i mean the way that they're trying to jin this up as some sort of secret kabalian plot to force people to get vaccines is not the case. it is literally like jen sackie said, people knocking on your door saying, are you vaccinated, if not, would you like to get one, let us help you get one. no one is running around with blow darts to try to force people who don't want to get vaccinated to get vaccinated. it is not how it is working. >> although it is an interesting
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image, hayes, now that you put it, somebody going down the street like, hey, you? and keep right on going. that's -- anyway, continue. i'm sorry. go ahead. >> it is a potential. no, not really. no one believe that's what is going to be happening. i don't want to spread more misinformation, no. so i really think the white house is being as measured as they can be because right now they can't mandate anyone get the vaccine right now considering right now it is still under emergency use authorization. the fda has not fully approved it yet, so there's no way for them to really legally push this on people and force, say, employers to make people get vaccinated so they can stay in their jobs. the fda is working as quickly as possible towards full authorization, but there are still things the white house could be doing more of. for example, president biden could mandate that the military get these vaccinations. the emergency use authorization, he has the ability to override the law to say that, no, the military has to do this for readiness and force protection.
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leon panetta came out to say recently it is what biden should do. i'm glad the white house is pushing this door-to-door effort but there are things in the interim biden could do to help bump up the number of vaccinations in the country. >> i want to make clear to clarify something hayes said when he was referring to the emergency use authorization. that's different than full fda approval, but it is still allowing for us to get vaccinated. it still means it has gone through clinical trials at all of the different levels. >> yes. >> it is just a way to get it to market faster than the whole fda approval process. so if you hear that, don't let it throw you off if you have been vaccinated. the vaccine still has been tested through the entire fda process, just moved through a faster process. brandy, what do you make of this misinformation campaign? you have been a very busy reporter in the last few years, and there's misinformation and then there's misinformation. there's a kind of misinformation that feels like it is just mischievous, there's the kind that feels like it is for profit, there's the kind that feels like it is purely for politics as we saw on january
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6th, which is at the roots of our democracy. where do you place this in terms of the sort of attention we should put on it? >> i mean it is really hard to separate one from the other. when you talk about something like tucker carlson taking up the anti-vax talking point and narrative, it is very much because it is political now. anti-vaccination misinformation movement was once a very small group of sort of wacky figures and entrepreneurs who were spreading this thing that nobody really believed. like 95% of people still believed in childhood vaccinations, but when it came to the covid-19 vaccination they have laid the ground work so well that they sort of cross-fertilized with the reopen groups, with the extremists that were pushing that they didn't want lockdown procedures, that they thought they were going to
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come confiscate your guns, that believed the election lie. these people are all in one of big boat and the people in that boat are watching tucker carlson. everybody is taking advantage of it at this point, and so when you talk about a misinformation campaign, i mean it is just constant. there's no way to even untangle it and say, well, let's look at this and let's fact check this. it is all just one big mess, and it has really been a wildly successful disinformation campaign by a lot of people that benefit from it, whether politically or monetarily or because it is, you know, finally getting this anti-vaccination message that no one really listened to before out into the mainstream. it is just everywhere. i have no idea how to combat that, but i do think it is worth noting that, you know, the 25% or so people who say they're not getting vaccinated, 10% of those people are still wait and see. >> right. >> there's still a chance with good information like the one you just gave about the
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emergency use authorization, and when it does get fda approval, final approval or when airlines start requiring it to fly or when other things happen, people can be pushed to the other side. there's 15% of people that are like, no way, never, and you sort of have to throw our hands up and say, i'm so sorry. >> on top of that, jennie, there are people working in communities to try to get their neighbors vaccinated. our colleague shaquille brewster spoke to members of the fire department in springfield, missouri, how they've been assisting in vaccination efforts. watch. >> keep in mind the virus is not a political issue. this is a dangerous emergency, and our health department has been going door to door providing opportunities for vaccine for years with tremendous success. whether it is hepatitis a. >> we have a huge problem in the community right now. you know, the numbers are on the rise so anything we can do. as firefighters our job is to protect the community, so it is another way we can help with that. >> jenny, i don't know about you, but i think it is a factor.
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i think there's the loud kind of national messages that may or may not cause confusion among people, but then neighbor to neighbor, that gives at least me a little bit more hope in terms of people actually getting what they need to stay alive and to stay safe. >> i mean we are in a crisis still, and we need everything in our tool box in order to get people vaccinated. i just hate that tucker carlson's out here being so dramatic, overexaggerating what this effort is, you know. all of the people who are not vaccinated are the reason why we are getting variants. you know, we think we knocked one thing down and now we're going to deal with a bigger boss in this scary video game called the pandemic, you know. so i just hope that we can, you know, see through all of that. i love it, neighbor-to-neighbor programs. let's use the lotto. you know, we need tee shirt guns, you know what i'm saying? we need to be out here, okay, convincing people that getting vaccinated is fun, it is good for you.
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you know, we're in a country that refuses to eat vegetables even though it is good for us. like we need more razzle-dazzle. >> tee shirt guns could be fun. nurse says, you sit over there. then 14, 15 minutes, over to where you are, grab one on your way out of cvs. >> people are still playing "candy crush" because they like the sound of the video game. >> that's another question about the addictive quality of cellphone games. i'm not ready to talk about that. >> public officials, i need everyone to listen. we need to think outside the box, okay. because i don't want to deal with no lambda zeta variance in 2022. we need to nip it in the bud and get down to business. like let's throw some -- you know, let's throw some mad men chicago advertising effort into
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this. let's convince people outside of reddit and tucker carlson, bow tie foreperson at, let's go beyond that. >> hayes, before we have to pause, i do get the sense, or i wonder what your sense is briefly before we pause, of whether the administration is doing this. they've said that they're going to be more targeted in terms of how they try to get the rest of the country vaccinated. what is your sense of what those efforts might be and whether they'll meet the need that jenny is talking about? >> well, i mean speaking of the lotto, some states have tried this. some states like ohio and west virginia are trying things like giveaways to more and more people to get vaccinated. i don't know what sort of that federal effort would look like to reach that scale. i don't know if it is legal for the federal government to run a lottery of that size, but i think there needs to be more creativity and more effort to, like jenny said, razzle-dazzle people to get the vaccine. >> i will give one more thing for people to think about for those not yet vaccinated, and i
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know it is harsh. you may not mind if covid takes your life. you may be ready to just kind of, you know, rough it through life. think about the person you love the most in the world. think about the notion that you might be the person that gets them killed because you weren't vaccinated. you might live and they might die. go to to find out where you can get vaccinated, please. jenny, brandy, hayes, don't go anywhere. we have more to talk about. coming up this hour, sha'carri richardson's suspension from the olympics is reigniting the debate over cannabis. we will dive into the politics of it. also, nikole hannah-jones is taking a new gig at howard university. what does this tell us about how higher education is reckoning with race? we will get to that. first, cori coffman is here with the headlines. >> hey, joshua. stories we are watching at this hour the number of confirmed deaths in the surfside, florida,
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condominium collapse has risen to 86. 40 people are still missing. national and local agencies are still investigating the cause of the collapse. pope francis will deliver his weekly sunday blessing from a rome hospital where he continues to recover from intestinal surgery. the 84-year-old pontiff had half of his colon removed. the vatican says he has been in good spirits during the recovery, eating, reading and walking regularly. ashley barty is the winner of the women's champion. she defeated her opponent in three sets to win her second grand title. she is the second australian one to win the wimbledon and the first since 1980. more of "the week" with joshua johnson after the break. h joshua johnson after the break. ty protn to help manage hunger and support muscle health. try boost today. ♪♪ things you start when you're 45.
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this week we learned one of america's most promising young athletes will not compete in the tokyo olympics. the u.s. team decided not to add sha'carri richardson to the rely team after she tested positive for marijuana. ms. richardson agreed to a one-month suspension. critics called it hypocritical since she used a substance legal in 18 states. some said the decision was rooted in racism. others question whether cannabis should be considered a performance-enhancing drugs. members of congress including new york congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez have asked the u.s. anti-doping agency to rethink the suspension. yesterday that organization said it is working to mitigate the,
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quote, harsh consequences, but they said it cannot unilaterally change the rules. our saturday night panel is back. jenny yang, brandy zadrozny and hayes brown. let me start with you, jenny. >> it is completely unjust what has happened to sha'carri richardson. first of all, we need to understand that rules are not neutral, and if anything this week showed that, you know, with the international swimming federation's ruling about natural hair swim caps not being allowed, that we still have a long way to go to dismantle systemic racism. so that's number one. number two, if thc was a performance-enhancing drug, then willie nelson would be an olympian. what are we even talking about, guys? this is ridiculous to me. >> see, now, that image will never not haunt me, the idea of
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willie nelson just hurdled, pole vaulting. like i understand what you are getting at though, but i don't think that's why they consider it a performance-enhancing drug. i think because it can have analgesic qualities, have mood altering qualities, can calm you down. that i think is the rationale why it is on the list of something that could affect your performance. >> sure, sure, but the most i have accomplished with thc in my system was a nappy-nap. if that's the case and sha'carri richardson broke a world record or almost did, yeah, sha'carri richardson for president. >> i mean as bad as i need a nap right now, i'm not saying it is not an accomplishment. i think you did pretty good. brandy, there's a recent poll that shows that more than 90% of americans say that they favor some form of the legalization of marijuana. i think this is one of those places where the internet may have played a pro-social role in terms of allowing people to have a conversation that, frankly,
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was further ahead of what the mainstream conversation has been on cannabis, at least in some regards. >> i mean, yes, i think that that's definitely true. i think the internet is a valuable tool for information and information about the -- you know, well, information about the true nature of marijuana, and it is not going to be reefer madness. it was available and i think got to a lot of people that way. i think speaking of something like reefer madness, i think baby boomers were sold a bill of goods about marijuana and a lot of laws were passed because of that fear. now we sort of know because we know a lot of people, maybe even ourselves who have partaken in marijuana, and we have seen the fact that, like, it is sort of fine. it seems a lot more harmless than something like alcohol. so the public opinion has swayed and swayed far.
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i mean with sha'carri specifically, everyone that i speak to has -- just feels for her. there are some bad people on the internet who have something to say about it, but i don't know if you are -- i mean i am a mother of three, and just seeing at the end of her race, her racing up to her grandmother and sort of, like, falling into her arms. >> yeah. >> like i just don't understand how you see that and you don't see a young woman. i'm sorry, i'm getting like a little bit -- but i see a young woman who is obviously going through something, is hurting, and right in that moment to sort of kick her, it just felt terrible. >> we should also note, by the way, sha'carri richardson did say after she won the 100 meters that she learned just the week before that her biological mother had died. so she was going into that race with the baggage of that. we should also note that when ms. richardson spoke to us on "today," she did not push back against the suspension. she said she knew the rules and
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that she accepted the suspension. so just to be clear for people who may not have followed all of the details, she has not complained, oh, i haven't been treated fairly, i should be able to go. at least in her conversations with nbc news she said she knew the rules and accepted the punishment. but, hayes, other sports and other sporting leagues took a different position on this. mma and boxing, for example, the nevada state athletic commission said it is not going to discipline fighters if they test positive for cannabis anymore. some athletic commissions are not even going to test for it. i wonder what your sense of where this is headed? >> i think it is a step in the right direction. nevada just recently legalized marijuana for recreational use. so it follows that the state gaming and athletic commission no longer wants to punish people for using that drug. now, we mentioned at the top that the u.s. anti-doping agency said they can't unilaterally change the ruling for sha'carri richardson, and that makes sense because part of the world
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anti-doping association which has marijuana on its list of substances that should not be used outside of competition. other drugs on the list include heroin, cocaine, mdma, the sort of drugs that the united states also puts in the same category as marijuana, which i think really gets to why it is so -- that these rules are still in place, that marijuana is still treated by so many agencies and so many places of authority as in the same category as these drugs. thousands of people overdose each year. i'm glad to see some athletic associations inside the united states are starting to shift their policy on that, away from this long history where marijuana is treated as a drug that is used primarily by black and brown people, that it has been put under prohibition because of its association with people of color, and i'm glad that those rulings and lous are starting to untangle. one of the biggest things i have
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gotten push back for in saying that sha'carri richardson is the victim of these very longstanding rules is people who say, rules are rules, she knew it and she is taking the punishment, why are you bringing up race, because race matters and how the rules are written in the first place. that's something we have to examine moving forward as we start to see more legalization efforts come to fruition. >> yeah. if you look at old films like "reefer madness," which you have not seen it, look for it online. it is worth watching. there's a racial constant to the way that we warned young white kids about the impact of marijuana, of cocaine, about certain drugs that were associated with african-americans, with mexicans. there's a lot of that racial history under the surface that definitely still kind of needs to be reckoned with. everyone stick around. we have more to discuss on the other side of this break. coming up, nicolle hannah jones says no to unc chapel hill and yes to howard university.
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what does her move say about race and higher education? that is just ahead. stay close. st ahead stay close ive gum repair kills plaque bacteria at the gum line to help keep the gum seal tight. new parodontax active gum repair toothpaste. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ hey google, turn up the heat. ♪ ♪ ♪
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pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist nikole hannah-jones had been hoping for tenure at the university of north carolina chapel hill. after a lot of hand wringing among trustees they belatedly offered her a tenured professorship. this week she announced she would turn it down. she believed she was denied tenure over her work on the "1619 project" which explored the legacy of slavery in american history. this morning she defended her work and said this controversy is a small example of larger problems in america. >> all of the arguments that we're seeing that we're not -- we don't come from a fundamentally racist country, our past is not a racist past, that racial inquality, anything we see today when it comes to racial inequality is simply a
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matter of individual choices. all of that is being disproven by what we're seeing across our country, not just with my tenure fight. that's the least of our worries in this country. >> she will now join the faculty of one of the nation's best-known historically black schools, howard university in washington. we are back with our saturday night panel, comedian jenny yang, brandy and hayes brown. let me start with you, hayes. this feels like an unforced error on the part of unc chapel hill, one that even the faculty at unc chapel hill's journalism school said was awash in racism. this seems like a wall the university did not need to walk into. >> absolutely especially when you consider the fact that nikole hannah-jones had been up to the board of trustees vote approved for tenure. she did all of the work that was necessary. she laid all of the ground work take was necessary for her to be named the night chair of
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journalism at unc and get tenure like every other night chair had gotten at that point. so, no, there was no need for them to run into this wall. what happened was that, you know, a donor who had influence pushed back on her getting approved for tenure by the board of trustees and managed to jumble the works. that access to be able to even do that, it really shows how structural issues really play into this, that someone who had wealth and money and access and power could deny someone of the ability to teach future journalists about their trade because of her reporting on race. that just really helps undergird the fact that meritocracy, which is one of the biggest arguments against structural racism, this idea that anyone who tries hard enough can succeed in america, really puts the lie to that idea that structural racism doesn't
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exist. >> brandy, what do you think of just this as another piece of the fall-out from the 1619 project? i was amazed both by how extraordinarily well-reported that was and very powerful. if you have never read it, go online and read "the 1619 project." it is a good read. but how powerful it was and the pushback to it was, it was thunderous. you can draw a straight line from "the 1619 project" and the bills about race being debated right now in schools across the country. >> yeah, i think powerful is the perfect word here because nikole hannah-jones is very powerful. this is like, for conservative people on the far right, this is like if aoc had been up for tenure at that university. the conservatives would have come out of the woodwork to fight that, and for the last year or more, the far right
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conservatives or ultra conservatives have been trying to discredit and fight back against her in every way that they could. you have seen stuff on prager u and turning points usa, tons of videos all over fox news trying to discredit "the 1619 project," which was an incredibly well-reported piece of journalism like you said. it is not surprising to me that because she was so polarizing and ultra conservatives just really disliked her and the message that "the 1619 project" brought that they wanted to fight against it. it was sort of a natural conclusion to what has been happening over the past year. >> "the 1619 project" laid out receipts for something people of color have been saying for a very long time, which is that the legacy of race in this country still has aspects that affects people of color today. if you are still struggling with that contention, you just may need to read "the 1619 project"
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or get you some black friends. jenny, i wonder if i could get you to respond to something else that nicolle nikole hannah-jones said today on tiffany cross's show about the value people like her bring to universities and news organizations. watch. >> diversity doesn't happen in newsroom because it feels good or it is politically correct. it matters because we are simply unable to cover our country with the truth and accuracy that this moment requires if the only people who have the levers of power in the institutions are the people who have always had the levers of power in these institutions. i'm no one's diversity hire. i bring something. black girls bring something very specific to news rooms and that's why we deserve to be there. >> jenny? >> i love it, because she is so powerful, as you said. she is a foremost public intellectual and she is basically telling us, don't ever let them put you down.
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okay. it is not that we need them, they need us. we talk about that a lot in my industry in entertainment. but before that, i actually used to work in the labor movement, and i think the greatest lesson she taught us in her move, number one, what a plot twist, getting offered tenure and deciding to go to howard. >> for real. >> i want a drama written starring viola davis because to me it was a boss move. the lesson she teaches us, not only just the general race and social justice critiques that she offers the public, but that we should all never, okay, show up for those who don't show up for us. okay. that is 100% the message i feel like she is sending us by making that move to howard, because after the me too reckoning, right after this sort of racial reckoning so to speak we went through this last year, everyone scrambling to do the right thing, i think workers or people
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employed by anyone should start coming together and saying, "listen, we don't accept bad treatment, disrespect, bad bosses, toxic work cultures." so i just think it is great that beyond the work that she does by how she conducts herself even in an hr situation like this, she's teaching us lessons. >> yeah. of course, see, now i'm seeing viola davis on camera, the chalk board going, "how to get away with tenure." hayes, one more thing. you do this to me, jenny. i get puns in my head and i have to suppress a giggle while you are saying something important. >> i love it. >> i don't know if i can do this. we might have to talk about your future on the saturday night panel. hayes, one more thing about all of this before i have to let all of you go, it is also just good business to be thoughtful about diversity, equity and inclusion. we have talked about this on this program before, too. it is going to get harder and harder for businesses that don't reflect america thoughtfully to
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do business in an america that wants to be reflected more thoughtfully. i'm just not sure what the business proposition is for not learning how to handle these issues, especially in higher ed where they're so thick and they're so fraught, but students want to handle them as directly as possible. >> no, absolutely. i think that you're right, that business will have a harder and harder time attracting -- the way that the demographics are shifting in america and the way that purchasing power is shifting in america, it is going to be more and more important for businesses to reflect how america actually looks, especially in hiring as the labor market shows as we get closer to full employment again, workers are starting as we come out of the pandemic realize they have power. i got to say i love that nikole hannah-jones didn't go to howard by herself. she brought a ton with her. >> for real! >> it was such a flick. >> i mean coates and nikole
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hannah-jones, i want to give my degree back so i can go to howard university all over again. >> yes. it is a mic drop. >> yes, i will go to d.c. during the week and do it on the weekends. hopefully we will get to do it again on the weekend with jenny yang, brandy and hayes brown. good to see you again. coming up, this year the best and only seat to view the tokyo olympics will be on your couch. how do the olympians feel about that? among my patients i often see them have teeth sensitivity as well as gum issues. does it worry me? absolutely. sensodyne sensitivity and gum gives us a dual action effect that really takes care of both our teeth sensitivity as well as our gum issues. there's no question it's something that i would recommend. this may look like a regular movie night. but if you're a kid with diabetes, it's more. it's the simple act of enjoying time with friends, knowing you understand your glucose levels. ♪♪ liberty mutual customizes car insurance
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after a year-long delay the tokyo summer olympics are finally set to begin in less than two weeks, but this week we learned that the games will ban all live spectators. japan declared a state of emergency because of rising covid-19 cases. nbc's tom yamas has the story from tokyo. >> reporter: the olympic torch now in tokyo, completing its journey around the country as
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the games head into uncharted territory. the prime minister declaring that covid-19 state of emergency. the olympics forced to move forward but without spectators. from the opening ceremony at the national stadium to gold medal competitions across tokyo, the athletes will be there been in empty arenas. now, the athletes also preparing for an olympics like no other. u.s. diver krista palmer will be competing in two events on the springboard. she's already visualizing competing in an empty facility. how do you sort of get yourself in the zone? >> i think for me i will visualize the fact that there won't be anybody in the stands, but that's okay because i know there's going to be all of my teammates there supporting me. >> reporter: and hoda, recently sitting down with the u.s. women's gymnastics team, asking simone biles, who is used to competing in front of sell-out crowds, how the lack of fans may impact her. >> do you think it will affect how you perform, simone?
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>> personally, i thrive under pressure so i'm a little bit worried how it is going to affect me once we get over there. >> reporter: two-time olympian and gold medalist katie ledecky says the ban on fans won't take away from the spirit of the games. >> everyone is getting together in this one city for the opportunity to pursue their goals that they've worked for for five years, and i still think that's a really beautiful thing. i know this is going to be kind of a made-for-tv olympics. >> reporter: it is going to be a very unique olympic experience, but, again, still very exciting. >> thank you, tom. that's nbc's tom llamas reporting. coming up, making history at the scripts national spelling bee when she becomes the first african-american winner. little did i know she was not just making history, she was repeating it. i'll explain before we go. i'll explain before we go. speak.
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compare hundreds of travel sites for thousands of trips. kayak. search one and done. lots of us did spelling bees as a kid, myself included. never got past districts though. nowhere near as far as a young lady from louisiana who took the title this year. >> m-u-r-r-a-y-a. >> that is correct. >> on thursday zaila avant guard won the scripps national spelling bee. she thought through words and
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with the winning word murraya. her prize, $50,000 in cash. spelling bees fascinate me, these quirky competitions with the success of the super bowl. it has been around since the 1800s, back before all children were taught to read and write, and these contests as they are now. "the new york times" had a rather cynical view back in 1875. it was also a bit chauvinistic in devaluing spelling contests. apparently the writer of this editorial thought these contests would benefit young women less than just being a good home-maker. then again, the "times" had strange ideas of entertainment. anyone up for negro comicalties? anyone? spelling bees caught on, including by that name, spelling bee. some of the earlier names were kind of violent. how would you like to enroll your kids in the trials in
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spelling? or how about spelling combat? don't that sound wholesome? or my favorite, a spelldown. spelldown. so the event itself is interesting enough, but that brings us back to this year's winner, zaila avant-garde, the first african-american to win the scripps national spelling bee. it's not the kind of accolade black kids get often. black spellers got the spotlight in "akeelah and the bee." the real-life akeelah, you guys, i'm so happy in my heart, unquote. it was a happy moment for many people, the kind of winner we don't often see at spelling bees. but is it so rare to see black students excel at this? here's the thing. >> why la avant-garde is the first african-american winner of the scripps national guard bee, but she is not the first black
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winner of any national spelling bee. the first bee before scripps was involved was sponsored by the national education association, the teachers union. it took place at the cleveland hippodrome in june of 1908. back then, competitors were on teams from various cities, including new orleans, boston, pittsburgh, and cleveland. but the new orleans team threatened to drop out when they realized who they would be competing against. one of the girls on the cleveland team was black. it took some convincing, but organizers were able to deep new orleans contestants in the game. in the end, cleveland won the bee, and one of its spellers had a perfect score -- the black girl. her name was marie bolden, a 14-year-old. 14, just like zaila avant-garde.
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the delegates at the convention reportedly erupted in applause when she won, even the other teams cheered for her. civil rights leader booker. the washington was one of the convention's speakers. after marie's victory, he said, quote, we spell out of the same spelling book that you do, and i think you will also admit that we spell a little better, unquote. so the first national spelling bee was won by a black girl named marie bolden. perhaps no one reacted as badly as the city of new orleans did after they placed third. black community leaders there wanted to hold a spelling bee in her honor, but the city denied the permit. one newspaper account says the mayor withheld it for fear of sparking a race riot. he even told the police department to prevent the event from happening. but it gets worse. the school board in new orleans pulled all of its white teachers out of black public schools. it replaced them with black teachers. and it passed a resolution
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censoring the superintendent for the whole fiasco. people blamed him for letting white students compete against a black child. think about that. this is not just about racism. it's about entitlement. the new orleans city leaders felt so entitled, so above any negro students who might be on another team that when their squad last to one, they couldn't even let black residents celebrate. who knew that would be so -- what's the word? that's it. so querimonious. william take the iv, the president of louisiana state university has offered her a full scholarship. when zaila avant-garde leaped for joy, she was not just making history. he was repeating it. the nation's first spelling bee
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was won by a black girl about her age, and now the scripps national spelling bee has book ended that historical moment, though it's not really a bookend, is it? more like a new chapter, a chance for every child to see themselves as a potential champion at whatever they want to achieve. i wonder sometimes about the other black kids in school who laughed at me for being smart, for doing things like spelling bees, how different their lives could be if they knew that we could do it but that we won it first. how many doors in life do we not even bother to open, never realizing they were never locked in the first place? wherever you choose to go, someone like you probably went first. and if they can go, so can you. with that said, we would love to hear from you. what impact day to day spelling bee have on you? tell us your story, whether you competed in one, organized it,
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or coached a player. email us. you can also send us a video. we're on tiktok and twitter and instagram. please keep it to 30 seconds or less, but how far you reach out, tell us your name and where you live. we'll share some of your stories tomorrow night. before we go, a quick programming note. tomorrow morning at 8:00 eastern we'll have special extended coverage of the virgin galactic test space flight tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. eastern here on msnbc. then we will see you tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern, michigan congresswoman debbie dingell. i'm joshua johnson. thank you for making time for us. we'll see you tomorrow. good night. t-mobile is the leader in 5g. t-mobile. america's largest, fastest, most reliable 5g network.
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a new war against voting rights. right now texas state republicans using lies to make the case for voting restrictions. the chair of the democratic caucus in the texas house joins us. president biden puts russia on notice. temps not even wildlife and water stands a chance. ready for takeoff. what to expect in just hours when a billionaire blasts off to space and what richard branson's trip would one day


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