PBS's Alcindor vs. Black Surgeon General: People Are Offended You Told Blacks To Avoid Alcohol and Drugs | Video | RealClearPolitics

PBS's Alcindor vs. Black Surgeon General: People Are Offended You Told Blacks To Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

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Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, is accused by PBS NewsHour reporter Yamiche Alcindor of using language that "offended" people. At Friday's coronavirus press briefing, Adams, a black man, asked black and Latino communities to stop using alcohol, drugs, and tobacco to fight the coronavirus for "Big Momma" and "Pop Pop."

"You said that African-Americans and Latinos should avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. You also said do it for your Abuela and do it for Big Mama and Pop-Pop," Alcindor said to Adams.

"I said granddaddy too," Adams chimed in.

"There are some people online that are already offended by that language and the idea that you're saying behaviors might be leaning to these high death rates. Could you talk about whether or not people -- could you, I guess, have a response for people who might be offended by the language that you used?" Alcindor asked.

"I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my granddaddy 'Granddaddy.' I have relatives who call their--their grandparents 'Big Mama.' So, that was not meant to be offensive. That the language that we use and that I use. And we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities," Adams responded.

"And it's critically important that they understand it's not just about them," Adams continued. "And I was very clear about that. It's not just about what you do, but you also are not helpless. We need to do our part of the federal level. We need people to their parts at the state level."

"Jerome, you did a beautifully," Dr. Anthony Fauci said in defense of Adams. "I can't do it any better than that. I know Jerome personally, and I can just testify that he meant not even a hint of being offensive at all with that comment. I thought that was appropriate. Thanks."

Alcindor, a frequent critic of the Trump administration with a focus on race, also asked the president why he did not have a plan directed at communities of color tp prevent high death rates. From Friday's exchange:

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: For--for you, Mr. President, we know that these health disparities have existed for a long time among African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color. Why didn't the administration possibly have a plan directed at those communities to prevent high death rates knowing that the health disparities were there?

TRUMP: Well, we do have a plan. And one of the things I'm most proud about is what I've been able to do for the African American community, the lowest job numbers in the history of our country. This was--

ALCINDOR: --(INAUDIBLE) for the--the virus of course?

TRUMP: Excuse me. Yeah, just before the virus came. Well, I'm just saying because, you know, this is been here for three weeks, right? So, just before African-American community had the lowest unemployment, the best employment numbers. More African-American people and communities have been driving.

If--if you look at our opportunity zones and what we did--Tim Scott who is fantastic, a fantastic senator came to me, opportunity zones. More jobs for African-Americans than ever before, better health care than they've ever had before, all of these things. The Surgeon General spoke to it and he spoke to it, I thought, really brilliantly.

I found it very interesting what he said. And I'd love you to come up and answer the second part of her question because I think you're--you would do it--a much better job than I would. Please?

ALCINDOR: Thank you, Mr. Surgeon General.

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.

ALCINDOR: I have a--thank you. I have a quick question for you. You said that African-Americans and Latinos should avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. You also said do it for your Abuela and do it for Big Mama and Pop-Pop. There are some people already --

ADAMS: -- I said granddaddy too.

ALCINDOR: There are some people online that are already offended by that language and the idea that you're saying behaviors might be leaning to these high death rates. Could you talk about whether or not people --could you, I guess, have a response for people who might be offended by the language that you used?

ADAMS: Well, I--I use that language because that's the language--I have been meeting with the NAACP, within National Medical Association, with others. I actually talked with--with Derrick Johnson multiple times this week, the head of the NAACP. And we need targeted outreach to the African-American community, and I used the language that is used in my family.

I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my granddaddy "Granddaddy." I have relatives who call their--their grandparents "Big Mama." So, that was not meant to be offensive. That the language that we use and that I use. And we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities.

And it's critically important that they understand it's not just about them. And I was very clear about that. It's not just about what you do, but you also are not helpless. We need to do our part of the federal level. We need people to their parts at the state level.

And we need everyone, black, brown, white, whatever color you are to follow the president's guidelines, the coronavirus guidelines and do their part, because when I talked to the NAACP three weeks ago, it's important to note that one of the things they asked me was can you help dispel the myths in this community that--that people actually can't get coronavirus if they're black. That was a myth that was out there that's actually very important for us to squash here.

ALCINDOR: So, do you recommend that all Americans avoid tobacco, alcohol, and--and drug use at this time?

ADAMS: Absolutely. I--it's especially important for people who are at risk and with comorbidities, but yes, all Americans. So, thank you, and I will clarify that all Americans need to avoid the substances at all times. I put out a smoking cessation report in January. I put out a advisory against use and pregnant women using marijuana last year. And that was not directed towards any one race. That's everybody needs to do everything they can to be as healthy as possible at this critical time.
Dr. Fauci, would you add anything?

TRUMP: Yeah.

FAUCI: I think you said it perfectly, Jerome. Thank you.

TRUMP: Would you like to add anything to it, because you are really--you--you expressed it very beautifully before.

FAUCI: No, I mean, I--Jerome, you did a beautifully. I can't do it any better than that. And I--I know Jerome personally, and I--I can just testify that he meant no--not even a hint of being offensive at all with that comment. I thought that was appropriate. Thanks.

TRUMP: And I can tell you Jerome is done a fantastic job, our Surgeon General. I just hope nobody steals him and he goes to one of these big companies for a fortune. Don't leave us, right? Don't leave us, Jerome, please.



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