tv United Shades of America CNN July 26, 2020 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
reauthorization of the act. we can do it again. >> you think you can. >> we can. >> we can and we must. the vote is powerful. the most powerful nonviolent tool that we have in a democratic society. we have an obligation to do it. >> we need more leaders like him. ourndolences and friends. may he rest in peace and may his legacy be a blessing. i'm w. kamau bell. we show this episode in october 2019. we talked on folks in obamacare the struggle to keep their family owned farms alive. and the families that once thrived in the united states. since covid-19 there's been a shift in the way we approach food.
how we consume it, even how we shop for it. and families face tougher times now more than ever as they struggle to get necessary loans to stay afloat. we love to mythologize about family farms but we don't pay attention to their needs. i home we pay attention long after covid-19 is over. americans love stories that may know us feel good about ourselves. one of the big ones is that america loves its family farmers. do we? here's the current secretary of agriculture and millionaire farmer. >> in america, the big get bigger and the small go out. >> what i heard today from the secretary of agriculture was that there is no place. >> yep, get big or get out. if you're a farmer who is not white, the message has just been, get out. god bless america.
♪ >> this is oklahoma. this is a farm in oklahoma. that is an american flag. and those are pigs. there are 78,000 farms here which means lots of barns, cows, hay bales and oh, a spider. 91% of these farms are independent operations are largely run by families. typical american farmers like these guys. way, what? what is going on? yup, at one point, agriculture,
especially in oklahoma, was where black folks could actually finds a place in the american economy. we could make money off the trade that we've been forced to learn and perfect for free, for 300 years. >> the farm of my grand parents. this is where it all started from. they got the 40 acres. we didn't get the mule but we got the 40 acres. i'm the third generation trying to maintain the farm. >> george robert is in many ways a classic american farmer. he in this town, they work hard to keep the farm in the family. >> we'll go over here to see if we can't capture the pigs. they're supposed to be in the pen. >> so you're trying to get them in there? >> yes.
easy, easy, easy. go, pig, go! [ laughter ] like chasing my kids, trying on get them in the bath. that's what this is. do you have any special problems being a black farmer out here? >> oh, man, i'm the only black farmer out here. >> well, that's one problem right there. you're the only one. it's just you. >> just me. that's where we're at now. >> but get this. around the turn of the 20th century, oklahoma had over 50 thriving all black farm towns.
black people were actually living a version of the american dream, fresh out of slavery. some of you are wondering, what happened? racism happened. most of the towns were systematically annihilated by racist policies. then outright violence. this isn't a conspiracy theory. this is absolute fact. if you lose the land, the united states will work overtime to make sure you don't get it back. >> that's what i plan to leave my offspring. that's what my grandpa left us. i feel like in they left us a million dollars, it would have been gone by now. the land is still here. he died in '39. the value of lands, the only thing they don't make anymore beside time. that's the way i look at it.
>> here, here, here. all right. what's about to happen here? >> oh, he's been chasing too many girls. so we might as well just castrate him now. >> okay. >> they grow better. >> they grow better once they're castrated? >> it's called emotional eating. the great thing about castration, it takes a lot of pressure off your manhood. i wasn't castrated but i had a vasectomy. afterward, you can talk to the pig about being healthier. cause up in your 21st century american version of manhood, or pighood.
>> see what he got on his mind already. >> so that one needs to be castrated, too. >> yeah. >> because that's what the problem is. >> wow! this is the wild kingdom out here. we talk on a lot of farmers. i hear it's tough to run a farm. >> i don't know how much blood and tears by my grand mother and grandpa, but i know it's plenty. i was 13 when my dad died. i knew someone had to save the farm. is not, it would vanish. because like my dad used to lay in bed and lecture to my mom, somebody has to care. and i said why me, lord? >> the lord told you -- >> it's you, son, it's you. it's been that much satisfactory to me to walk over the ground and just say, this is as close
as i'll ever get to my grandpa that i didn't know. >> because this was the same land he was walking on. that's nice. >> over time, they've been able to turn the 40 acres into more than 1,000. it would be nice if he were trying to grow trees but he isn't. it needs to be leveled. >> one tree at a time. yep, this would be much faster with a bulldozer. >> oh! >> renting one. those can be a found hundred bucks an hour and that means a usda loan which they denied. >> all right. i have to put my back into it. >> for now, it's just one tree at a time. >> we were trying chop down some trees and help you clear that lands. i think we had three, maybe four
trees. surrounded by mabybe millions. i have no idea. that guy's farm is all cleared out. all perfect. it looks like the picture of a farm. they don't have problems growing trees. >> they can grow all those bales of hay. my cow eats the same amount of hay as the white man. people don't understand that. >> john boy jr. is a fourth generation farmer. the founder of the national black farmers union and the champion of the contest. ultimately, this is all the same land. the bank sees that as a good investment but he doesn't see this as a good investment. >> yeah. >> to be clear, are there any independent farms who are operating without the help of banks? >> no. >> any farm. >> no.
>> you need a farm operating loan the operate every year. and then you sell your livestock and you pay it off and you do it again next year. and i'm going to tell you, farming is a white man's game. and the top ten banks in the united states, they're guilty by not lending money to black farmers the way that they length it to white farmers. >> between 1910 and 1997, black farmers lost about 90% of the lands they own. whereas white farmers lost about 2%. no, it wasn't because white farmers were 88% better at farming. internal studies at the usda found authorities routinely discriminated against black farmers. >> the government, they investigated this up in my local county office, it took 387 days to process a black farmer's loan application. >> 387 days.
>> on average. >> so you missed a whole year planning. >> bingo. >> how long does it take a white farmer's application? >> 30 days. >> that's where the problem is. if i can't get it there, i can't get it anywhere. >> that's the united states department of agriculture. the last plantation. >> and they haven't changed even after the national lawsuit. >> in 1997, timothy pickford and four other other african-american farmers sued the usda for systemic discrimination against black farmers. the farmers won but the payout took 11 years and required ongoing litigation. >> it was merely an apology and an acknowledgement of guilt by the united states department of agriculture.
my grands father used to say, every step you take, every step you make, requires ownership. you can be walking on your own or somebody else's and they can have you locked up. the choice is yufrls he said the lands was the only way to be free. if you're 55 and up, t- mobile has a plan built just for you. we want you to get the value and service you need to stay connected. saving 50% vs. other carriers with 2 unlimited lines for less than $30 each. we know that connection is more important than ever. and we're here to help, when you're ready to switch. call 1-800-t-mobile or go to t- mobile. com/ 55.
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humira is proven to help stop further joint damage. want more proof? ask your rheumatologist about humira citrate-free. if you can't afford your medicine, abbvie may be able to help. when we talk about agriculture, today it seems so abstract. we don't think about the money that's in agriculture. we think of farmers as low on the totem pole in terms of business. but some of the biggest companies in the world are agriculture companies.
because they're deeply family businesses, it is generations of wealth that are accumulated over decades, centuries. these large companies, tyson, family farms. >> john deere is number 87. there were 64 billion in revenue in 2018 and cargill is the largest privately owned company in the united states. all started as family operations. ron young is a policy strategist with a focus on senate food policy. >> my grandmother grew blueberries. she used to create jam. imagine if she could have gotten usda loans to turn it into a growing business. but instead, they said we won't give loans to black people. so i decided to go get a loan. and you know generational wealth, then my uncle gave me a
small loan of $100,000. big farmers were the ones who could loan people money. pay college tuition. >> when the farmers succeeded, they put their money into the local economy, you know, american dream stuff. >> take 1920 where we have around 920,000 black farmers in the country. today we have 48,000. so we went from owning 14% of the country in terms of land mass in 1920. >> it is the percentage of the black people in the country. >> to owning less than that today. if they were allowed to remain but also create more black farmers, how different would this country be in it would be drastically different. when we have the numbers over the last 100 years, we're
talking $227 billion that black farmers of lost because of active discrimination, paid for by us. >> not by us. by taxpayers. >> essentially our taxpayer dollars have been used to hurt our own communities. and imagine, look at the wealth that was built up in this city, in this one area. black wall street. and extrapolate that out to how much more they could have generated. >> black wall street, very historic area. and has that monikers for a reason. booker t. washington did it. when they saw black-owned businesses, industry, doctors, lawyers, we had black folks that owned their own planes, pilots. >> regina goodwin was born and
raised in greenwood. it doesn't matter what her job is. she feels like the mayor. >> it used to go all the way down to tine. and it is miles that way. >> in 1920, greenwood was roughly 35 square blocks. a shining black city on a hill. now it's one short street. and most of the neighborhoods has been annexed by the city. oh, look. a freeway, i would rather have that than my culture. >> it's just this abbreviated thing. when folks come here, is this it in. >> i was going to ask that question. i felt weird saying that. >> you should say it? we have to keep the meme of it. but the mabel heritage house is the last glimpse of it.
look it a. it wasn't bad. this is the editor and chief of the greenwood tribune. >> when you walk in, why is it important to keep this place? >> i think i think important because folks can get a feel for how folks lived in the 1920s. this is a typical family in a black community. >> this was not the one black millionaire's home in town. >> no, no. not at all. >> so this is one of those times where segregation doesn't work out the way white folks planned. you have to be over there. blacks were like, fine. make it happen. we have a place to hang out. lawyers, drs, we're doing great. black folks are posed to be miserable. >> instead of, i'm glad they're okay. >> that night my family heard trouble is coming. they never would have imagined
major mayhem and murder. >> you had a shoe shine boy. he went upstairs to use the restroom in the drugstore. there is a young lady who was the elevator operator. one story goes that he stumbled on to the elevator and touched her. she screamed. a store clerk heard a commotion. he comes running. dick runs out of there. runs to greenwood for safety. the next thing you know it, you see the headlines in the newspap newspaper, nab negro elevator attack. all hell breaks out and it's on. >> fires, arson and bombs. you had the choice. if you're inside your home, you're either going to die inside your home while your house is on fire or you can run
out and be shot. you had a choice. >> what was the law enforcement -- i just thought i'd ask. here, you have a system that thinks the kkk is a club. if anything, they will deputyize the mob. >> they were deputizing people. >> let's be clear about something. this is terrorism. it's not just crime or a riot. it was premeditated and thoroughly executed. even worse, it is state sponsored terrorism and the state got away with it. >> the folks that remained feared for their lives. they had a right to fear because they had seen relatives murdered. so it became this culture of
silence. this conspiracy of silence. that still carries over today. >> i just recently found out, that could have been my place. that's my inheritance. >> that's the thing that the ability to pass down business and wealthy generations is what makes generations rise. there are white families in this country, the carnegies, the rockefellers. we just accept they're rich black folks. this would have been a place with black generational wealth that helps communities all across the country will come out of here. >> what we could have been is what we were. and that was destroyed. >> imagine what oklahoma would mean to black america if all the black farms, black towns and black prefls had been allowed to
build and reinvest. imagine what it would have been like in the world if other cities would have been allowed to replicate that. and then remember george, still clearing his farm, one tree at a time. hey lily from at&t here. today, we're talking with sara. hey lily, i'm hearing a lot about 5g. should i be getting excited? depends. are you gonna want faster speeds? i will. more reliability? oh, also yes. better response times? definitely. are you gonna be making sourdough bread?
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other than george and the fewer than 50,000 that fight on, the story of black farmers is largely the story of the past. most are gone. it's a cautionary tale to all independent farmers. three hours northwest of george is the town. their drugs have been different but one main thing is the same. every day is a fight to hold on to the lands. >> they're actually the sixth generation to live here in the house. i was raised here. daniel was raised here. >> what were you farming back then? >> wheat. back then, the wheat price was $3.50 a bushel. it is still $3.50 a bushel. there's just not any profit in it. >> scott is a lifelong farmer and rancher and was recently
elected president of the oklahoma farmers and ranchers unit. his sons grew up on this land. >> we have this gigantic one. i was so little, i couldn't push the clutch in by myself. what dad would have to do, he would push the clutch in for me. okay. your dad is going to get down and you push on the clutch. but you get out of the way first. >> that's a lot of pressure for a kid. >> i'm responsibility for my dad's life. >> that's why i sell insurance. >> as a child, i remember mom working two jobs, at the convenience store and walmart at the same time. >> just to pay the electric bill and buy groceries. because there was zero at that time in the '80s. the price of wheat just
collapsed. >> looking back on it, i'm not sure how we hung on. >> some of you might remember farm aid. no, no, the arch farm aid. was there ever a young willie nelson? that was one of the results of the most devastating events in history. it crashed as a result of record production, and a grain embargo against the soviet union. this punished family farls sending hundreds of thousands into crisis and leaving much of main street america looking like this. and we're doing the same with china. apparently they can have our marvel movies but not our soybeans. >> we're very fortunate that we have a farm to pass on to the next generation. to see what they can do with it. >> since his father was elected to the union, 22-year-old son zack has the farm of the he
knows the cards are stacked against him. being an independent farmer, in matter your race, age or gender, that's how it works. >> so how does it work with you? >> it was more necessity than anything. if i didn't, what would happen? as basic as it gets. >> he has his hands full, jumping into college. i'm very proud of him. he'll do very well with it. >> do you see it passing down to the next generation? >> yeah. i have to finds a girlfriend first. >> yikes! >> look around. oil rigs, winds mills, livestock, a bunch of different crops. you have to get everything you can out of the land. >> the hope is that where one
fails, two succeed. but the truth is that many farmers never even break even and some lose money year after year. >> the idea is if your corn is the best corn, then your corn will sell because people like your corn. >> well, i suppose in a few little places, maybe that works. but out here, we really grow commodities. our commodities are then sold to giant corporations. then they go to the giant retailers to sell. and that's one thing we're really getting squeezed on. so what you're paying at the retail store -- >> so $5 for a box of cereal. >> and i get a nickel. >> so i'm mad at you why. are these farmers overcharging me? >> and it costs me 7 cents to grow it. we have no market power anymore
at all. >> you don't get on negotiate? >> no. there is no negotiation in the prices. no. >> are not there anti-trust laws or something mike? >> it sure is. we have the same scenario around the turn of the century. so 1921, they actually enacted the packers and stock yard act that regulated this industry and it quorks for all those years, it worked really well. and then about 1980, we started ignoring those laws as deregulation came about throughout the whole industry. and now we're right back where we were, in 1921, at the same levels. the laws are already on the books. we don't even need a new law. all they have to do is enforce
them. that's why our share is at an absolutely all time low, today. so i want to show you something. these beans were lush and beautiful. it looked like the best crop we would ever have. on the 12th day of october, we got down to 30 degrees. a freeze. and so it killed the beans. they died down. so that's the freeze damage. so because of. early frost, the freeze here, the loss is probably up to $200,000. >> wow! >> you wake up one morning and you lost $200,000. that will make you sick. that will make you sick. >> i've been hearing it. do you think this freeze, the
third earliest freeze, do you think i think related to climate change? >> i think definitely. we see the extreme weather patterns now. we do all the science, all the work. at the end of the day, it's a gamble. mother nature. >> it's a a gogamble with rigge slot machines. >> yeah. you're better off taking to it vegas and seeing what happens. out here it's close to zero. (groans) hmph... (food grunting menacingly) when the food you love doesn't love you back, stay smooth and fight heartburn fast with tums smoothies. ♪ tum tum-tum tum tums
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we're in a big trade war. with the tariffs that the president put on china and then they retaliate and put them on our soybeans. >> you know what? you want to know something? we always win. >> china was our number one customer. they're not anymore. it's not just soybeans. it's all the commodities right now. wheat, corn, beans, cattle. there is no way to make up for
that loss of. mark. it took us decades. they're buying from brazil. >> so they have no place to get it from. >> they've tried to throw some money at the problem through the market facilitation payments. they're tiny. >> they're giving a kickback. >> yeah. hush money. it helps a little bi. we've lost a lot of family farms and we're becoming extinct quickly. once we're gone and out of the way, you'll be totally dependent on they will. they're worldwide companies. and i think it is a food security issue. >> as politicians crow about a trade war in china that we look to be losing, a chunk of u.s. farmland the size of the state
of ohio has been bought by foreign companies over the past couple decades. imagine a future where america buys its food from china but that food has grown in the u.s. >> when the farm process was there, it was to stay in each part of the world. that's been 35, 40 years ago. and we haven't recovered yet. we had all kinds of thriving businesses here and most of them are gone now. so our community has survived and we're still here. but i'm very concerned that things are not going in the right direction. and i don't see a big will from congress to step in and do something right now. the president talks the talk but we don't see the action. another five cents on a loaf of
bread would make a world of difference for this whole community. the farms would be prosperous and the community would be prosperous. our young farmers can't hang on much longer. they don't have a lot of equity to hang on in the tough times. if we lose them, then this town has no future. >> talking on scott. every loaf of bread that he sold or box of cereal, you get five cents. five cents? >> we get so little of the money from that. so little of it. >> you have a future economist over here. that's the whole thing.
>> we love the idea of the family farm. we like the on imagine their loving hands growing our food. next time you're shopping, just check out the words family farm. they're on everything. well, here are your families. these are the folks you are imagining. real people with real children and real worries who are being squeezed to the breaking point by the same companies who print those words. when you imagine them, imagine that. >> no matter what's going on. >> everyone wants to survive. we could make a lot more money doing something else. we want to be here and raise our kids here.
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you want to come see more? hey. boris, he's so nice. >> so is he allowed to walk around free like this? he's lost. he's not home. >> he's home. he's going to lay down and give us his belly. >> she is not a multigenerational farmer. she bought the 413 farm four years ago. she sells directly to local chefs and farmers markets. it's small, but it's working. no operating loans, no massive debts. a simple life. 60 pigs, 900 chickens and 7 kids. whoa. that 7 kids is hard. >> you know, i have talked to a lot of farmers who are raising commodities, which i didn't really understand what that was
until this week, but you are raising food. >> i am direct to consumer. profit margin is already pretty low with restaurants at a wholesale rate. i couldn't imagine the commodity market. it is so tight of margins. you'd have to be at such large scale. and you need millions of dollars to build those barns. so my pigs, they live here in the woods. they get fresh air, sunshine, grain, free range. they get to root around and eat the acorns and be their pig self. over the years, i have worked at wormers markets. i have worked with restaurants. i tried to enter the grocery scene. but this year i have learned if i create bratwurst, heat it up, put it on a bun and sell it to people who come to the farmers market to shop, i go from $3 a pound to $40.
>> oh. >> to heat it up and let you eat it. >> could you just do the whole thing for me. >> do you know who else is pushing it? >> to make ends meet, angela must turn volume. so me, angela and her daughter have 400 chicks to move from incubation to the build. once again, if you need my help, it ain't good. >> oh, that's the smell. >> these are 400 meet chickens. they're different from a chicken that will lay eggs. >> where do they go after you take them out. >> to the pasture. you want to catch them around their wings so their wings don't flap and they don't bruise. >> all right. let's do this. i'm trying to be gentle. i'm sorry. i'm being so gentle, i haven't picked one up yet. all right, guy.
that's one. two. okay. you like palmed it like a basketball. so you just start grabbing, away we go. and i'm like, how is everything going? tell me about your father. three, three, three. so that's three. >> oh, oh. >> he just jumped out. you didn't tell me that could happen. i'm still counting that as three. what do you have so far? >> almost 50. >> almost 50. i'm at three. is that good? am i doing good? >> yeah. >> are you being nice? >> yeah. >> you'll love the outside part. >> yeah. >> my favorite part is the way chickens are meant to be raised. >> okay. free range sounds great, but that's really just a legal term.
the usda gives huge, often ugly latitude to that definition. so if you care enough to buy free range at the store, try the next step. find someone like angela. they are everywhere. that way the farmers, not the corporations, get a fair price for their work. as far as the chickens, well, they get to pursue their bug eating dreams. right here? >> our hardest part as farmers is getting the big guys to buy in to what we're doing. the grocery stores just -- >> this is the order from the big corporations as it is to order from individuals. >> i have asked them can i rent space on the shelf. >> wow. you said, i will pay you for the space.
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it's sunday back at georgia's farm. and sundays are about church and barbecue. this is every sunday, every birthday, every holiday because what george lacks in neighbors or other black farmers or government loans, he makes up for in family. curly is george's older sister and the family matriarch. and his grand niece is the heir apparent to the robert's farm and legacy. >> what do you think about having all this family around here? >> i have it all the time. >> yeah. it gets packed out here. >> so this isn't packed?
>> five generations. >> how do you have five generations under you? >> i turned 90 the other day. >> and do you live in a house over here? >> i grew up in that house. my daddy built it one year after i was born. >> oh, wow. did you work this farm when you were a young girl? >> heck yes. >> i believe you. what kind of work did you do? >> plow, milk cows. i did everything. my dad died when i was ten years old, so i ran this farm with my mom. >> i would imagine through generations the family has to find people in that generation who will take it on. >> the only next generation is my niece because she's been in the gardens with me since she was like five. i was like, are you interested? could you please go to school and get an agriculture degree, and she did. >> you thought this over, right? >> yeah. >> she didn't have a choice. >> yeah. >> so you must want to do it
somewhere in there. >> oh, yeah. i mean, it's in me. like i grew up around this. whatever you want and see what you did, that makes you happy because it's like, you know, i did that. it is hard to plant. >> what is the first thing you grew that you felt like you got excited about? >> definitely squash. and okra for sure. plus, it's different. like i love it. it's in me. >> you're not intimidated by it? >> no. because i know i have my family and i have god so it has to keep going. >> never sell our property. land is something you keep building from. and you keep building. and there is life. >> this is so amazing that this
is where black women in this country come from. but only a few generations removed, a lot of us have forget about it. >> so many of them can always teach their kids. >> you can't afford rent, you can pitch a tent. this is your land. >> yeah. that's right. i mean, they can't put us off of this. >> they can't put you off this. this is your land. >> this is their land, the family land. and like we talked about earlier, george and scott and other farmers know that if they lose their land, they ain't getting it back. and more than that, you see these images of george and scott and angela's families and it is easy to fall into that classic american family about farming and hard work and good living, but more and more these stories just aren't true. once again, it is on us. those of us that benefit from all this hard work to put pressure on our politicians and the big conglomerates to pay the
farmers a good wage. otherwise, it is just a lie. and i will happily pay another nickel for my corn flakes. how about you? i don't even like corn flakes. >> frosted flakes, yeah. biggest fears. four days of more than 1,000 deaths every day. are our leaders learning from their mistakes? i'll speak to a member of the white house coronavirus task force, admiral brett giroir and president trump's top economic adviser larry kudlow, next. and falling behind. polls show voters unhappy with the president's handling of the virus r. the swing states slipping away? >> they'll judge us on the economy i created. the woman joe biden might pick as a vice president