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Actress, writer, comedian Ellen DeGeneres

She s got an upcoming HBO comedy special, Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now, premiering June 28th, 2003. It s a presentation of her recent live stand-up show of the same name. Her five-year sitcom Ellen won an Emmy for her much anticipated coming-out episode. She and her character came out at the same time. This was followed by a very public relationship with actress Anne Heche, which eventually ended. DeGeneres talks about coming out and why she resists becoming a lesbian role model. DeGeneres is the author of the book, My Point. . . And I Do Have One. This interview first aired April 15, 2002.

21:42

Other segments from the episode on May 23, 2003

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, May 23, 2003: Interview with Ellen DeGeneres; Interview with Arthur Laurents; Interview with Angela Lansbury; Interview with Bernadette Peters.

Transcript

DATE May 23, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Ellen DeGeneres discusses her life before and after
she let it be known she was gay
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, sitting in for Terry Gross.

Ellen DeGeneres just recorded a new stand-up comedy concert at the Beacon
Theatre in New York for an HBO special which will premiere next month.
DeGeneres made history when she played the first openly gay leading character
in a TV series. When her character, Ellen Morgan, came out in the fourth
season of her sitcom, "Ellen," in 1997, DeGeneres came out, too. That year,
she won a Peabody Award and an Emmy. But the ratings went down after Ellen
came out and the show was cancelled the following year. A subsequent series,
"The Ellen Show," appeared on CBS with her once again playing a gay character.
It lasted one season.

Terry spoke with Ellen DeGeneres in 2002 after an earlier HBO special.
Although Ellen was already out, most of her act had nothing to do with sexual
orientation. But she did have some thoughts on the topic.

(Soundbite from stand-up comedy concert)

Ms. ELLEN DeGENERES (Comedienne): It's very interesting; we have this huge
debate going on right now about same-sex marriage. There are people who are
against it, there are people who are for it, and the people who are against
it, some people say marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and it's
always been that way and it should always remain that way. If we change it
and it's between two people of the same sex, then what's next? Someone could
marry an animal. That's where they go to right away.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DeGENERES: These people scare me, and they think we're weird. OK.

(Soundbite of laughter and cheers)

Ms. DeGENERES: I don't want to marry a goat. I really don't. I can't
imagine marrying a goat. I can't even imagine dating a goat, getting to the
point that you're that serious to make that kind of commitment, but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DeGENERES: Sure, you'd live together for a little while to figure it out
and see if you're compatible, but I would think that would be a tough day,
even for the most liberal parents, the day you bring the goat home. Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DeGENERES: `Mom, Dad, this is Billy.'

(Soundbite of laughter and applause)

Ms. DeGENERES: `We are in love.'

TERRY GROSS, host:

Ellen Degeneres, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Now here's something I used to
wonder about. When you were doing stand-up, before you came out, I wondered
if there was material that you would have included in your performances but
that you didn't include because you weren't out, so it was the kind of
observation you couldn't really talk. So this is a double question.

Ms. DeGENERES: Yeah.

GROSS: I'm wondering if that was the case then and if you are including more
of that type of observation now.

Ms. DeGENERES: No, nothing's changed, and I think that was my huge concern
when I did this last tour, "The Beginning," two years ago for my HBO special.
I thought I'm probably going to have, you know, just about an entire audience
of homosexuals instead of what I used to have, which was a lot of homosexuals
but it was a mix, it was a lot of, you know, everybody, because my humor was
always just basic. It wasn't even female humor, necessarily. It was just
observations and weird stories, and there was nothing that I thought, `Oh, if
I was only out, I could talk about, you know, how girls are together.' I
mean, I just never, you know, was going to do that anyway, and I still don't
do it. None of my humor has changed, and, I mean, I think anybody who saw
"The Beginning," there's really nothing that's--except for being honest about
the fact that I'm gay--nothing really has changed as far as what I find funny.

GROSS: Do you feel in a way pulled in two different directions at once, on
the one hand being like gay role model, and on the other hand, not wanting to
make a big deal about it?

Ms. DeGENERES: Yeah. You know, I'm not a political person, I'm not an
activist and I kind of got sucked into that role just, you know, by being
honest about, you know, my sexuality. I didn't do it for any other reason
other than I got tired of, in interviews, having to dodge around that
question, and it wasn't something that I felt like hiding anymore or feeling
ashamed of, and I really didn't even think I was ashamed of it, but I thought,
`Well, how can I not be ashamed of it if I can't, you know, just come out and
say it. There's got to be some shame attached to it,' and so, yeah, it's
really hard, and I don't think that I'm a gay role model either. I think
that I'm a gay person, and I certainly don't represent every gay person. I
just represent me, and if other people feel that--but I think visibility is
important and I think representation is important for everyone, and it's got
nothing to do with sexuality. It's just someone else to relate to, and so I
think it's important, but I certainly don't think I'm a role model.

GROSS: So how did you decide that, you know, you wanted to come out at the
same time your character did, that that would happen simultaneously?

Ms. DeGENERES: Well, I thought it would be really embarrassing if my
character came out and I didn't. I thought that would be really tough.
`Why'd you have to go and do that? Now I've got to come out.' I don't know.
Well, I was really just going to do it for me, and then I thought, `You know,
what's the big deal if I do it?' And the show was kind of floundering and
struggling to find its identity, and, you know, it seemed like the character
was gay, anyway, 'cause, you know, I never dated on the show, and it was
always just, you know, this--every other show, any single woman, the whole
show is about finding the right guy, and I just thought it would be
interesting. And we just thought we'd do it at the same time, and I'm really
proud of that last season. I thought it was great.

GROSS: What were the script-writing sessions like for the coming-out episode
in which, you know, you and the writers--I assume you were in on those
sessions--tried to figure out what the right story line would be?

Ms. DeGENERES: Yeah. It's all kind of a blur to me. I used to write every
single night. Once we got the go-ahead--and we really didn't have much time
because Disney didn't let us know until the last minute. They knew all season
long, 'cause we were trying to build up slowly and do clues, and we really
didn't want it to leak out. We just thought we would have the audience
watching from the beginning of the season, and these little clues would
happen, and they would be, like, `Are they doing what I think they're doing?'
That's what we wanted to happen, and then it'd just be the episode where I
came out. But unfortunately, it leaked out, and then we still didn't have the
go-ahead from Disney, even after it leaked out, and I think we had one script
that went it, and then it wasn't right, and then we got together and all did
it again and it was fantastic. And then we all won an Emmy for it. It was
very exciting.

GROSS: Can you give me an idea of a script line that you threw out, that you
thought, `This isn't right. This isn't the way to do it.'

Ms. DeGENERES: I don't know. We kind of came up with the right story line
with the ex-boyfriend coming in town and this guy that I was just crazy about
and seeing him again, and that would be the tip-off, that something was
missing. And we wanted to make it where the character really was completely
in denial, you know, she just didn't know she was gay.

GROSS: And then there was the question of how to handle the first kiss...

Ms. DeGENERES: Yeah.

GROSS: ...which was part of the script line.

Ms. DeGENERES: But that wasn't on the coming-out episode.

GROSS: Was that later?

Ms. DeGENERES: Oh, yeah. I mean, we couldn't kiss--no, I mean, the
coming-out episode was just basically me saying, you know, that I was gay.
But no, the first kiss was the next season, and it was a huge, huge thing. I
mean, it was a problem, you know, and there was an advisory label, and you
know, all that.

GROSS: What did the advisory label say?

Ms. DeGENERES: I don't know. It was shocking to me, 'cause I didn't know.
I was just at home, watching the show one night, and all of a sudden, you
know, it was almost like there was some kind of nuclear war happening. It was
just, you know, `Caution. The contents of this show'--you know, it was just
like this--and the first time it happened, it was because we were holding
hands. We held hands 'cause I was looking for what it was. I mean, there are
these shows on, like, right before me and right after me where people that
aren't married are having sex, and there's, you know, sexual, you know,
connotation to every single thing out of everyone's mouth, and, you know,
that's OK. It's OK for, you know, people with kids to watch, you know, people
having sex, no matter how old you are, and everything being--but you can't
hold hands. That was just so shocking to me.

GROSS: You really went from one extreme to the other when you came out 'cause
you'd been in the closet, and then when you came out--not only you came out
but your character, Ellen, came out, and you were on the cover of Time
magazine, and to top it off, you were having a very public relationship with
Anne Heche at this time. What was it like to go from one extreme to the other
almost overnight?

Ms. DeGENERES: It was weird. I mean, my life is just--you know, I really
went from--I was just thrilled that I had a career. I mean, I started as a
stand-up and worked, you know, from playing little places that held 150
people, and, you know, there were really just about 50 in there, and 40
weren't conscious 'cause they were drunk--I mean, I really went through
working my way up to get to a place where I actually got a television show,
and I was so thrilled that I had a television show and I was so thrilled that
I had made it so far from New Orleans to, you know, have a successful
television show that, you know, it just--you know, to come out was just kind
of a thing that I just felt like I had to do. I really didn't realize what
that would do to my career or to my life, you know? And like you said, you
know, it was a very public time for me, and I think that, you know, if I could
play my life as "It's a Wonderful Life," and if I hadn't gotten involved and
hadn't been in a relationship, I think it would be very, very different. I
don't think it would have been so public. I think I just would have done the
show, and I would have kept doing the show.

But I think that was a, you know, really wild time for me. I want to be
really careful about this, too, because I want to say that as I talk about
this, I haven't talked about it, and I want to be careful how I word it,
'cause I want to say I take full responsibility for being a participant, but
at the same time, as I have perspective on it, I was in a very vulnerable
place, coming from a very fearful place and I met a very fearless person who
enjoys attention. And I was influenced, and I was, like, you know, being
told, `What? Are you crazy? You're going to be on the cover of Time magazine
and yet you're worried about, you know, going to premiere and doing this and
doing that?' And I was, like, `Yeah, you're right, you're right.' And I
just--you know--and again, I take responsibility, but I think that my life was
so huge and so public and I was doing things because I felt like there was
only the other extreme, you know? I wasn't paying attention to my gut
feeling, which is, `OK, I did this, and now let's just be quiet about it and
that's all I wanted to do,' 'cause really that was what my gut was.

GROSS: What's an example of something that you wish you hadn't done, that you
feel in retrospect wasn't really you?

Ms. DeGENERES: It's hard to pick out one specific thing, but I think that
it's just the fact that I got so upset by the network shying away or
advertisers pulling or everything, and I took it personally, and, you know, I
think that that was hard for me. And it all was too much for me. It really
sent me into a downward spiral after I lost the show especially, 'cause that
was my entire life. I had been doing that show for five years and I loved
doing that show, and suddenly, I lost it, and it's really hard when you're
used to going to work every single day and, as a performer, used to that
release, that outlet, and suddenly it's just shut off from you, and not only
is it shut off, there's nobody else knocking on the door. And not only that,
but every time you even open a magazine or think about turning on, you know--I
mean, I was even scared to open House & Garden or Architectural Digest. I
was, like, `Am I going to be in here?'

I mean, the weirdest things would happen to me. Like, you know, I'd be
stopped at a red light, and this cop was next to me one day and said, `Hey,
how you doing?' And I said, `OK.' And he goes, `Where'd I see you? Some
magazine.' I said, `I don't know.' And he goes, `Yeah, some magazine.' And
I'm just, like, `Please don't say anything.' And it's, like, I'm waiting for
the light to turn green, and all of a sudden, he goes, `Anyway, they were
making fun of your shirt. Have a nice day,' and just pulls away. I just
thought, this is just cruel now. It's just plain cruel. He just thought that
was--`Anyway, they were making fun of your shirt. Have a nice day.' It's,
like, the light couldn't have turned green just 30 seconds earlier. He had to
get that out.

But it really was just, you know, a hard, hard time for me, and I just, you
know, thought--you know, I just got hurt and angry and everything, and so...

GROSS: Was there a period where you felt it's over, that period is over?

Ms. DeGENERES: No. I felt like--I kind of--I thought, OK, it had been I
guess a year or so, and that's when I started writing the special, "The
Beginning," when I just thought, `This is ridiculous. OK, I'm not getting
offered any jobs. Nobody's calling, but I'm a writer. That's how I got here.
I'm funny, and I'm a writer.' And I didn't just get lucky and then I came out
to make, you know--and that was hurtful, too, that people thought I was coming
to get attention, or, you know, for ratings. It's, like, you know, yeah, look
at all the people lined up, you know, that were doing it before me and after
me, because it's such a great thing for your career. So, you know, I just
thought I'll write, you know, a special, and then I was just thinking, `Well,
what if no straight people ever like me again?' I'm just going to be, like,
you know, this gay icon, and I'm not going to write gay material. And the gay
people are going to come see me and go, `That's not gay material. She's not
being gay enough.' So I just thought I'm just going to write a special, and
hopefully once it airs, people will see that I'm the same person. You know,
all I ever wanted to do was, you know, be a funny person.

BIANCULLI: We're listening to Terry's 2002 interview with comedienne Ellen
DeGeneres. She's just finished taping a new HBO special to premiere next
month. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: Back with more of Terry's interview with comedienne Ellen
DeGeneres.

GROSS: After you came out, your mother, Betty, became a gay rights activist.
How did you come out to her?

Ms. DeGENERES: I just told her that, you know, I met some--we were always
really close, and I always felt like I could tell her anything, and I told her
that I was gay in which it was a shock to her 'cause I had had so many
boyfriends all through high school, and, you know, I was just boy-crazy, and
she just didn't understand it. She thought it was a phase, and she was fine.
She was a little shocked, but she wasn't angry, and she didn't, you know,
freak out or anything. And because there were no books and she didn't
understand what to do with it, she went to the library and got some books and
started trying to read about homosexuality and try to figure it out, which is
great that she's written books now to help people, 'cause there should be
books to help parents when they find that out. But she was great.

GROSS: Were you surprised that she was great, or did you expect her to be
great?

Ms. DeGENERES: I expected her to be great. My Mom's, you know--I mean, she
and I have been through a lot together, and when my mom and dad divorced and
my brother left--he was in a band and they went touring, and it was just my
mom and I from the time I was 13 on, and it's how I started doing comedy,
'cause she went through a really hard time, and dated some guys that were just
some horrible, horrible men that treated her really badly. And she'd be
crying sometimes, and I'd just start doing things to make her laugh, and she'd
start laughing, and then I'd imitate her laughing and then she would start
laughing so hard she was crying, and then I would be laughing and crying with
her, and I saw the power, as a 13-year-old kid, to take care of my mother, to
change her mood, to make her happy when she was so unhappy. It was an amazing
feeling, and I think that's the beginning of when I realized that I wanted to
do that, because I could change people's moods and feelings, and I saw, you
know--and I moved. You know, every two years I went to a different school, so
I had to start over everywhere, so I used humor to fit in everywhere I went,
so...

GROSS: In your stand-up act, before you came out, you used to do a story that
was based on a real story in your life, and it was the story of someone who
you described, I think, as your roommate, who died in a car crash, someone who
your clearly cared really deeply about, you know, and in this set of stand-up
comedy was this very moving emotional moment. I assume that person was
probably a lover, not just a roommate. Assuming that's true, was it ever
difficult back then to tell that story and invest all this emotional weight in
it and not be able to really tell why you were so emotional?

Ms. DeGENERES: No, it was actually--I wrote "The Phone Call to God"--her
name was Cat(ph). She was my girlfriend, and we were living together at the
time and she was killed in a car accident. And I was 20 years old and it was
my first realization that, you know, how precious life is. I think it was a
beautiful gift, actually, to me that I was able to learn that early on to
appreciate every single moment of life, because you're never the same after
you lose somebody that you love and especially at that age. It just doesn't
seem possible, and I actually saw the accident, and I didn't know it was her.
I slowed down, and I could hear the sirens behind me, so they were just
getting there, and I just kept going, and I didn't realize it was her until
the next morning. And so I wrote this piece called "The Phone Call to God,"
because I went home and, you know, just was obviously depressed and trying to
figure things out.

And there were fleas all over this place that I was staying in. And I just
thought, `Why are fleas here? Here's this beautiful, amazing 21-year-old girl
just gone, and fleas are here, and what if we could just pick up the phone and
call up God and ask God these things?' And I just started writing. I'd never
written comedy before, and I put, you know, the pen to the paper and I wrote
out what it would be like. I imagined that you'd have to, you know, hold the
phone to your ear for a long time before God answers 'cause it's a huge place,
so it would ring forever. And then I imagined finally saying, you know,
`Yeah, hi, God. Sure, I'll hold on,' realizing God's very busy, and then be
put on hold, and listen to "Onward Christian Soldiers," 'cause that would be
the hold music, and then say, `It's Ellen DeGeneres,' and, you know, God would
make fun of my name--`Sounds like degenerate'--and then it would be this whole
long thing about what it would be like to talk to God.

And I finished writing it. It just poured out of me, and I looked at it and I
thought, `I'm going to do that on "The Johnny Carson Show," and I'm going to
be the first woman ever to be called over to sit down on the first set,'
'cause no woman had ever been called over on the first time to sit down.
That was the big thing for Johnny Carson, the motion to come sit down. And I
was. I was the first and only woman in the history of the show to be called
over, because of "The Phone Call to God." I did it--I think...

GROSS: But that's the thing that's bizarre, because here you are, talking
about your lover...

Ms. DeGENERES: Yeah.

GROSS: ...and yet being totally closeted, but people, like, love what it is
that you're saying about...

Ms. DeGENERES: Sure. And it was a funny thing. They actually didn't know.
When I was doing it on stage, I actually just said I don't understand why
certain things are here. You know--but it was--I think by that time--'cause
it was like seven years later that I did "The Tonight Show or something like
that, and, yeah, I mean, it was hard also because I didn't really get to
grieve or acknowledge how devastating that was for me, you know, because now,
you know, I mean, somebody loses their husband or their wife, and everybody's
just--they know how hard it is, but when you lose your girlfriend, especially
at 20 years old, it's just, `Oh, she's your friend, and that's a shame your
friend died.'

BIANCULLI: Terry spoke with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres in 2002. She has a
new stand-up special premiering on HBO next month. I'm David Bianculli
sitting on for Terry Gross. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

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Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
been omitted from this transcript

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Interview: Angela Lansbury discusses her musical theater career
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

Let's continue with our retrospective look at the musical "Gypsy," which is
being revived on Broadway in a new production starring Bernadette Peters. We
now turn to Angela Lansbury. She took on the role of Mama Rose in the 1973
London production of "Gypsy," shortly before originating the role of Mrs.
Lovett in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd." Terry spoke with her in 2000,
when she was about to receive the Kennedy Center honor for her life's work.
Here's Lansbury in the role of Mama Rose singing "Some People" from a
production that opened 30 years ago this month.

(Soundbite of "Some People")

Ms. ANGELA LANSBURY (Actress): (As Mama Rose) Anybody who stays home is dead.
If I die, it won't be from sittin'. It'll be from fightin' to get up and get
out.

(Singing) Some people can get a thrill knitting sweaters and sitting still.
That's OK for some people who don't know they're alive. Some people can
thrive and bloom living life in the living room. That's perfect for some
people of 105, but I've at least gotta try. When I think of all the sights
that I gotta see and all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta
be--and come on, Papa, what do you say? Some people can be content playin'
bingo and payin' rent. That's peachy for some people, for some humdrum people
to be. But some people ain't me.

GROSS: Let me ask you about the British production of "Gypsy," in which you
played Gypsy Rose Lee's mother...

Ms. LANSBURY: Yes.

GROSS: ...the role originated on Broadway by Ethel Merman. And you were
asked to do this in England by Arthur Lawrence, who wrote the book and
directed the British production. You knew Merman's work. I assume you
probably saw her on Broadway in "Gypsy." How did you feel about taking on a
role that she had done?

Ms. LANSBURY: I was completely nonplused. I said no. In 1972 when Barry
Brown and Arthur and Fritz Holt, Barry's partner, asked me to do "Gypsy" in
London, I said, `You've got to be kidding.' I said, `I could no more approach
that role, having treasured the recording of Ethel Merman singing Rose. I
know what's required here, and I know what an absolutely tremendous,
overpowering role it is, and I don't think I'm up for it.' I mean--and then,
as the year went by, Arthur really got at me, and he said, `Angie,' he said,
`I wrote Rose as a great character. It's an enormous acting role. We want
you to--we know you can sing as far as your own rendition of the songs. We
want your dramatic input. We want the role to be played by an actress, and we
would really encourage you to do this.' So I said yes. But it took me a
year.

GROSS: Well, I should mention that in Craig Zadan's book about Stephen
Sondheim, Arthur Lawrence really praises your interpretation of this role, and
he says, `With no disrespect to Merman, it's the first time that the number
"Rose's Turn" was done the way it should be. It's hair-raising, and it's
because Angie's an actress. I know of no one else in the musical theater who
can sing as well as she does and be the actress that she is.' So I'd like to
play part of "Rose's Turn," and this is, you know, toward the end of "Gypsy."
You've been the stage mother, you know, throughout your life, and Gypsy Rose
Lee, your daughter, has become a famous stripper, but you're wondering, when's
it your turn? When's it your turn to be on stage and to be before the lights?
So you're on stage in front of an empty theater, and singing your number. And
anything else you want to say about it before we hear it?

Ms. LANSBURY: No, except to say that it's one of the most rewarding pieces of
musical theater to perform there is, and one of the hardest.

GROSS: Well, if this isn't an example of `singing the scene,' is the way you
put it, I don't know what is. Here's Angela Lansbury.

(Soundbite of "Rose's Turn")

Ms. LANSBURY: (Singing) Why did I do it? What did it get me? Scrapbooks
full of me in the background. Give 'em love and what does it get ya? What
does it get ya? One quick look as each of 'em leaves you. All your life and
what does it get ya? Thanks a lot, and out with the garbage. They take bows
and you're battin' zero.

I had a dream. I dreamed it for you, June. It wasn't for me, Herbie. And if
it wasn't for me, then where would you be, Miss Gypsy Rose Lee?

Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn? Don't I get a dream for myself?
Starting now it's gonna be my turn. Gangway, world! Get off of my runway!
Starting now, I bat a thousand! This time, boys, I'm taking the bows and
everything's coming up Rose! Everything's coming up roses! Everything's
coming up roses this time for me, for me, for me! For me! For me! For me!
For me!

GROSS: Angela Lansbury, doing that number must have been exhausting. I mean,
it seems like it would be so emotionally depleting; forget everything that it
does with your throat, but just the emotion of it. What was it like right
after that number, you know, on stage?

Ms. LANSBURY: People ask me that often, and I must say when people would come
backstage after the performance, they would be in tears. I would be drinking
a glass of water and breathing a big sigh of relief. It never--I never allow
the emotion of a scene, if possible, to get to me. This is not true always,
but in that case, I was doing it eight performances a week, you have to
understand, and I could not allow it to intrude into my own emotional, you
know, state. So I could do it. It's a technique. It is a technique. And
that's acting. And people don't really always believe this, and some people
are absolutely drained and washed out and they did in their dressing rooms for
hours after having done "Rose's Turn," I'm sure, and say, `I don't know
whether I can leave the theater.' But I was not one of those people. To me,
when it's over, it's over, you know.

BIANCULLI: Angela Lansbury, speaking with Terry Gross in 2000. She played
Mama Rose in the 1973 London production of "Gypsy." In a moment, we'll hear
from Bernadette Peters, who plays Mama Rose in a new Broadway revival of the
musical. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
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52:30

New Book Argues Migration Isn't A Crisis — It's The Solution

Climate change has put organisms on the move. In her new book, The Next Great Migration, Science writer Sonia Shah writes about migration — and the ways in which outmoded notions of "belonging" have been used throughout history to curb what she sees as a biological imperative.

33:48

Brooklyn Borough President On Fighting Police Brutality From The Inside

At 15, Eric Adams was beaten by police. He later joined the force and worked to reform NYC policing by co-founding 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. He retired from the force after 22 years.

06:54

Identical Twins Become Divided By Race In 'The Vanishing Half'

The Vanishing Half tells the multi-generational story of the Vignes sisters, Desiree and Stella, two very pretty identical twins who grow up in the small town of Mallard, La. It's a town where all the residents are light-skinned African Americans.

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