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March 27, 2014

Host: José Cárdenas

Affordable Care Act

  |   Video
  • The Obama administration has decided to give more time to people who say they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline. David Aguirre, Cover Arizona coalition member and healthcare marketplace coordinator with the Greater Phoenix Urban League talks about enrollment efforts in Arizona.
  • David Aguirre - Member and Healthcare Marketplace Coordinator, Cover Arizona and Greater Phoenix Urban League
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, affordable care act, arizona, phoenix, obama, health, plans,

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José Cárdenas: Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. People will now have more time enroll in the Affordable Care Act. An ASU professor is here to talk about the "N" word and its use in American race relations. And Cesar Chavez's fight for migrant farmers rights comes to the big screen. We'll talk about how his legacy lives on through his foundation today. All this coming up next on "Horizonte." Thank you for joining us. The Obama administration will give more time to people who say they are unable to enroll in health care plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31st deadline. Here to give us an update on efforts in Arizona is David Aguirre, healthcare marketplace coordinator with the Greater Phoenix Urban League. He's also a member of the Cover Arizona group. Welcome.

David Aguirre: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: What's the new date?

David Aguirre: April 15th.

José Cárdenas: But it's not for everybody. There are some requirements, tell us what those are.

David Aguirre: The only requirements would be that you tried to enroll prior to the 31st and you were not able to. Now they have given you more time to be able to do the process.

José Cárdenas: What would you have to show, to prove that you tried to enroll before the deadline?

David Aguirre: What they are using is just kind of like your word, and also the application that you have created. If you created an account, they will be looking at that. But mostly it'll be on your own word.

José Cárdenas: Before we go into the details of what your organization is doing to try and get people signed up, where do we stand right now? How many people have signed up?

David Aguirre: So far nationwide we've enrolled over five million people, that's kind of like a good number. We were looking to do six million and I think we might hit the mark. We are working very hard to get there.

José Cárdenas: What about the computer problems that plagued the rollout of the Affordable Care Act?

David Aguirre: That was something at the beginning that kind of played out and was fixed. Now lately we've had pretty good luck with the system itself.

José Cárdenas: How much impact do you think President Obama's personal involvement has had? He's been traveling the country, he's been appearing with athletes, there have been commercials with famous figures talking about this. Has that helped?

David Aguirre: I believe so. Because the last few weeks it's been kind of like people running in and trying to get more information, asking questions. And there are more out there trying to get enrolled.

José Cárdenas: So let's talk now about what the Phoenix Urban League is trying do to get people enrolled in affordable care.

David Aguirre: We have extended hours to make sure if people are working they have a little extra time to come and get help. We are working with different agencies through the Cover Arizona Coalition to get people to some different times, weekends, nights, early mornings, all that, to make sure people have a fair chance to get in and get enrolled.

José Cárdenas: What is the Cover Arizona Coalition?

David Aguirre: The Cover Arizona coalition is a coalition of members, different agencies, state and local agencies that have been working together to bring -- Well, we all work together to bring the message out to the community. We work on strategies, what's working, what's not working, and then we meet on a regular basis so see where we're at and look at the efforts and everything we're doing as a coalition and as an individual agency.

José Cárdenas: What are you doing to reach out to the Latino community?

David Aguirre: Well, we have been going through different media that is on the Spanish media. We've been doing a lot of that. But also we've been working with like the different newspapers, the different grocery stores, the different beauty salons. And everywhere, where there's Hispanics, we are there trying to give them the message. And we ourselves have enough people to speak Spanish, as well.

José Cárdenas: And how well is it working? You see on the various news programs suggestions that the Latinos are reluctant to sign up for a government program. Some people may be concerned about being questioned about their immigration status and so forth, and some of it is cultural. Are you running into any of those issues?

David Aguirre: Not as much as some of the media is bringing it out. Almost everyone that we have helped, they come in and they are very open. I think it has to do with culture, who's helping them, who's on the other side of the table makes a big difference. I believe that's what really is the key to get them enrolled, that they understand, they understand the whole process, they understand what the information is going to be used for. Other than just what they hear on some of the media.

José Cárdenas: Now, you've indicated that overall the efforts may reach the number of people they were hoping to reach. What about the Latino population itself? Are you on target or --

David Aguirre: No, we are a little low on numbers as far as the Latino community. We've been doing all we can to get them. We have covered a few events over the weekend, like last weekend we had an event where we brought in almost like -- I believe like 3,000 people. We had a line out of the door for people trying enroll. In our office, we have every day from the time we open, sometimes we're still working until 8 or 9 o’clock,this whole week to get people enrolled. The majority are Latinos.

José Cárdenas: How much of a difference do you think the extended deadline will make?

David Aguirre: I think it'll make a big difference. The ones that already went through the process can wait a little bit and let the other people kind of go in, I think that'll make a big difference.

José Cárdenas: David, good luck, a lot of work in the next week or so. Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

David Aguirre: Thank you for inviting me.

Cesar Chavez

  |   Video
  • The first motion picture about civil rights leader Cesar Chavez's life and fight for migrant farmers rights is being released. Vice President of Communications of Radio Campesina and City of Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski talks about the film.
  • Michael Nowakowski - Vice President of Communications and Councilman, Radio Campesina and City of Phoenix
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, film, cesar chavez, impact, migrant, farmers, civil, rights, leader,

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José Cárdenas: This month people are celebrating the life of civil rights leader and farmworker Cesar Chavez. He founded the United Farmworkers Union and led walkouts of America's fields to campaign for better treatment for migrant field workers. We are seeing a clip from a film set to premiere tomorrow.

Cesar Chavez Movie Trailer: The day you came into this world I received the clarity I so desperately needed. I hope that one day you can be as proud of me as I am of you. I come here out of respect for one of the heroic figures of our time, Cesar Chavez. [Applause] I was born in Yuma, Arizona, at a ranch owned by my family. We lost it in the depression. That's where I witnessed the injustice suffered by the people. To be successful we have to have an army of boycotters willing to do the work. Farmworkers in California have begun an unprecedented strike in the Central Valley. The citizens of Delano respect the law. So do we, especially the Bill of Rights. Have you seen the headlines they are getting? That's costing us real money, Mr. Bogdanovich. It's all lies, saying the strike is not legal, painting us to look like criminals. I've failed you as leader and I will fast until everyone makes a pledge recommitting themselves to nonviolence. Does he know what he's doing? No, he doesn't. They have been coming in bigger numbers since he started not eating. Everything depends on the man. Once social change begins, it can't be reversed. You can't humiliate someone who has pride and scare someone who's not afraid anymore.

José Cárdenas: Here now to talk about the film and Cesar Chavez's legacy is Michael Nowakowski, vice president of the communication fund under the Cesar Chavez Foundation Radio Network founded by Cesar Chavez. He's also the Phoenix councilman for district 7. Welcome to "Horizonte." The surprise is not that a movie has been made about Cesar Chavez, but that it took so long to make one.

Michael Nowakowski: April 23rd is going to be the 21st anniversary of his death. Diego Luna, the Mexican star and director, had a son here in California. He started looking up in the history books about Mexican-American heroes. Cesar Chavez kept on coming up. I went to look for movies or videos and there was nothing on him. So I decided to do something. So we came to the Cesar Chavez Foundation, talked to Paul Chavez, the president of the foundation that happens to be Cesar's son. Said, I'd like to make a move on your dad. We started working together and adding stories, and all of a sudden this movie came about after four years of just sitting around a table like this and having conversations.

José Cárdenas: Were there any particular barriers they were running into, either for funding or in terms of getting support from the studios?

Michael Nowakowski: You know what was so amazing, funding came really quick. We thought we would struggle with finding the funding but there was more than enough money to make this movie.

José Cárdenas: What about getting people to play the roles? There are some big names in the movie. The casting looks terrific, at least from the clip.

Michael Nowakowski: Right.

José Cárdenas: What about the cast?

Michael Nowakowski: We have a grower that's John Malkovich, a great actor. Starring as Cesar Chavez, Michael Pena, one of the great up and coming Latino artists. And Rosario Dobson, we have a lot of great Latino leaders he and actors. And also nonLatino actors. Robert Kennedy and John Malkovich in there, too, a mixture of great people.

José Cárdenas: It's a great historic story which you were involved in for a number of years. So this may be an unfair question. What's your unbiased opinion of the quality of the movie?

Michael Nowakowski: You know, I was amazed on the quality of the movie. What's most important about the movie is the history part of it. If you're from Arizona, you're going to be amazed. Cesar was born here.

José Cárdenas: Even though movies try as best they can to be true to the story, at times because it's a movie they take some poetic license. Was there ever anything that didn't ring quite true?

Michael Nowakowski: Not really. Some jogged your memory, like when he went to Europe and boycotted the grapes of Europe. And how England was a key part of breaking the boycott and making it successful. Just things you don't remember. President Reagan played a role, and Nixon. I like for people to go to watch it. But also it's a movie of three different stories. A man that was struggling to build a union. It was a man that was struggling to be a father, that was being an organizer and a leader. And how he had to leave his son and allow his son to go live with his grandmother, because he wasn't paying enough attention. And the tension between a son trying get attention from the father, and then the whole growers aspect of it, too. There's three different lines. If you're a business owner or if you're a growing you relate to that part of it. If you're a community leader like yourself, you have to spend a lot of time in the community away from your family. And the sacrifices that your family has to give up, not having their dad there. That story's in there, I think there's something for everybody in this movie.

José Cárdenas: What are the parts of the movie that people are going to go to, and we're talking about people who feel they are pretty knowledgeable about the Cesar Chavez story. What are the parts where they are going say, I didn't know that, and I'm surprised.

Michael Nowakowski: One of the parts is Robert Kennedy, when they had hearings in California and Robert Kennedy asked the sheriff to read the constitution during their lunch break. The other thing is where the Pickett was being very successful here in the United States, but then the growers convinced the President at that time to sell the grapes overseas. And they created another market for the grapes to be sold overseas. So he had to go overseas to continue the boycott, and that really brought the negotiations to the fullest and the contracts were actually signed, because the Europeans came on board and supported the boycott also.

José Cárdenas: How does Arizona fare in the movie? This was his birthplace, also the place he died. While most of his unionizing activity was in California, Arizona was a part of the story. How do we look?

Michael Nowakowski: We look really good. At the very beginning we talk about Arizona and at the end about his death. One of the key things that the slogan, si sespu ede was as you will coined when the fast was going on. What happened was Dolores Suerte was asked, what are people saying, how is the fast going. People were saying, it's not possible here in Arizona to break the crazy laws and the injustices going on with the farmworkers. Then he turned around and told her, you go out there and tell people, yes, we can. We can do it here in Arizona. So I think that's a portion of history that's here from Arizona. I think what's so important about this whole movie, it's an American story and especially being a Mexican-American, it really brings us to our roots. Somebody or someone in our family is always -- was a farm worker at one time. I think it's really important for our children to see this movie, to realize where we came from. We came from the fields.

José Cárdenas: Councilman, we're almost out of time. Probably the most important detail at the moment. The premiere is tonight at midnight?

Michael Nowakowski: Absolutely. We will have it at Westgate and we rented out all the theaters. Hopefully we can get 3,000 people out there to watch the movie. It's a first-time viewing in the whole United States at midnight. We're asking people to go out to any of the AMC or any of the theaters out there.

José Cárdenas: We look forward to seeing it. Thank you for coming to "Horizonte." That's our show for tonight, from all of us here at Eight Arizona PBS, and "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas, have a good night.

The N-Word

  |   Video
  • ASU Foundation Professor of English and Director of Project Humanities Dr. Neal Lester discusses the N-word, described as "easily the most inflammatory, shocking and historic word in the English language" and its use through the complex discourse of American race relations.
  • Dr. Neal Lester - Professor and Director, ASU Foundation of English and Project Humanities
Category: Culture   |   Keywords: culture, n-word, historic, word, asu, american, race, relations,

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José Cárdenas: "Project Humanities" was first launched in February 2011 with the purpose of examining humanity through the lens of humanities disciplines and science. Part of the department's spring kickoff involved film screenings and talks on topics like the "N" word, described as easily the most inflammatory, shocking and historic word in the English language. Here now to talk is Dr. Neal Lester, ASU professor of English and director of "Project Humanities." This is an inflammatory topic to even be talking about. How did you come about to address this? What was the motivation, when did you start?

Neal Lester: I study race relations and I also study children's literature. I look at what's happening in the world so what I'm teaching or studying has relevance to me and also the students. In 2008, President or then-Senator Obama was running for President. And I noticed that word was proliferating on websites that had specifically to do with him. I thought we were so integrated as a country, I wanted to tease out what's going on. Was this another 60’s movement or what was happening.

José Cárdenas: Why did you get involved with this?

Neal Lester: I wanted to know more about it. I heard this was a generational thing, old people with gray hair like mine didn't quite understand that the new generation was using it differently. My research showed that was not the case. This was not a word that was necessarily universally perceived and used by one generation or the other. It showed me also that what we allege as being integrated may not be as integrated as we think. It was a way of uncovering and also discovering.

José Cárdenas: You started to teach the class, and I understand it evolved since then. Part of what you were doing at the beginning was how you teach a class on this subject.

Neal Lester: The class is not about a word. The word is symptomatic about other things. The word is about identity, about self-expression, the word is about performance. All of those things became part of what we talked about, not how to say it or whether you should, it was not a debate. But what is it about language that represents or misrepresents our realities. It really became class about language, identity and performance, but also a class about American history.

José Cárdenas: How do you teach the history of the "N" word and what it means?

Neal Lester: The history is, in my case, since I'm not a historian but rather a literary scholar, is I teach it through themes. We looked at so many nursery rhymes from the 1800s, and minstrel songs that use that word in the second or third verse. Songs that many people my age grew up on and now have become Disney favorites. But it's that third and second verse that we don't sing. And my response to that, it doesn't make it not there because we don't sing it. It doesn't mean it's not there, I look at this not through looking at dates, but rather looking at ways which it has permeated American culture from the 1600s up through the present.

José Cárdenas: What kind of reaction do you get from the students?

Neal Lester: They are surprised, the history is not something they are aware of. It's something they certainly haven't lived through and they feel a disconnection from that. What I try to do, once we know these things, it doesn't mean that the song goes away. It means when that song comes up, you have something else to connect with that song that's historically accurate.

José Cárdenas: You've said the origins of the class were the election campaign of 2009, and you found the word was being used. You were surprised it was being used, at least the way it was. After the President was elected there was a lot of talk about us being in a post-racial era. Are things better or worse?

Neal Lester: I'm still not quite sure what that means. To hear some people say it, and disturbingly so on multiple sides of the racial device, yes, the election of President Obama means that we have looked past race. I don't know necessarily if that's an ideal America is looking toward or trying to achieve. I have noticed there's been more racial violence and more attitudes toward this particular word as it expresses racial violence than in years that I was aware of before 2008. I'm not sure -- the question is how do we measure that progress. Many have said it's because President Obama is in a place many could not imagine that we see more of this kind of racially problematic bias surfacing. I don't know if we're better. I do hope people start to pay attention to language, though, because language such as this reflects how we think or how we don't think.

José Cárdenas: We talk about what people may be trying to achieve. I know one of the commentators, I don't know if he was referring specifically to your class, but this topic, said wouldn't it be great if at some point in the future people had to ask, what does the word mean. From talking to you off stage, you don't think that would be a good thing. You want people to know what it meant. The problem is people don't understand what it means.

Neal Lester: I think we have to figure out who those people are. I think grown people who are people who are older than I, know about the history that's associated with that word. Black people, white people know that. Nobody's confused about what this word means. What's confusing is the generation of students coming into my classroom, the older I get the younger they become. They are really disconnected from things like Jim Crow and the nonsensical laws created about black cemeteries and hospitals and water fountains, they are also disconnected about slavery. We're not suggesting that we are trying to keep history alive. What we are saying is that history is not dead, that history is not something that can be boxed and put on a shelf and put away. That history is still very present today in other manifestations. That surprises the students most.

José Cárdenas: You're not trying to get people to stop using the word, that's not your goal. You want them to understand what they are doing.

Neal Lester: I want people to think about the word. As an English teacher I want people to think about the words they use. I hear young people who are middle school, high school or college say, I don't even think about it,that worries me. If for example we have been so influenced by Disney that we can't imagine Cinderella who isn't blonde and wearing a blue dress, we've been indoctrinated in ways that are very, very dangerous. That means the language is controlling us and we are not controlling the language.

José Cárdenas: What kind of reaction have you gotten from the people in your classes or even some of the lecture audiences you've had?

Neal Lester: The audiences have been different and diverse. Students in the class who self-select -- this is not a required course -- are actually quite amazed at what they discover. They have heard the word and they have family members or friends who use the word and they themselves may have used the word. Once they get through this, they feel like they have some ammunition. But when they hear their friends who are in circles that I'm not in or other African-Americans, they have things to say, maybe you should think about the use of that word. That's been very gratifying. The purpose is not to convince people to do one thing or the other, but to make people more aware. You hope they start thinking, not just for the classroom but also for audiences who are in churches or art centers or beauty shops and barbershops. How do you make people aware.

José Cárdenas: Dr. Neal Lester, thank you for joining us on the show to hopefully accomplish that a little bit.

Neal Lester: Thank you very much.

José Cárdenas: Thank you.