MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds.
Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael, he is with us from Lexington, Kentucky this week. Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root is with us from Philadelphia this week. Lenny McAllister is a Republican strategist and host of "Get Right With Lenny McAllister" on KDKA NewsRadio. He's with us from Pittsburgh, and from NPR West, film writer, actor and producer, Rick Najera. Take it away, Jimi.
JIMI IZRAEL: Thank you, Michel. Hey, fellas. Welcome to the shop. How we doing?
RICK NAJERA, BYLINE: Oh, we're doing...
COREY DADE: What's up, Kentucky boy?
MARTIN: Yeah, what's up with you?
IZRAEL: Well, you know, what? As it happens, it's so weird - I'm actually - everybody knows him from Cleveland, right? But, you know, I'm actually in the studio where the Barbershop was born, more or less. Remind me to sit you down one day over drinks and tell you that story.
MARTIN: Yeah grandpa, we want to hear it.
MARTIN: And about how you stuff newspaper in your shoes to walk to school, tell us all.
LENNY MCALLISTER: I was like, this is going to be at Kentucky bourbon story right here.
IZRAEL: Right, right. Back in my day, I had to drive a Chrysler to work. But anyway, let's get it on.
I'd like to continue the conversation we were just having. You know, police say Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college student at Santa Barbara went on a violent rampage last Friday that left six people dead and 13 wounded before he killed himself, Michel.
MARTIN: And, you know, he left this very robust video and written manifesto, as he called it. And he said that - I think those of you who have been following this story know this - that he was seeking revenge on women who wouldn't pay attention to him and on guys who had better luck with women.
Many of the people he was very angry at were - he was very angry at white women for rejecting him, he was very angry at blacks and Latinos apparently, for he felt had more social success than he did. And it's important to note that he's been - he has been receiving some form of mental health counseling throughout his life, but there's been a lot of talk about some of the bigger issues that prompted this.
And I just wanted to ask, since a lot of you - you know, you all are the people who work in the culture and help shape it. And I wanted to ask what your thoughts were about this? Jimi, do you want to start?
IZRAEL: I mean, you know what, I'll jump in at great personal risk and say these hashtag conversations, I guess they're OK, but they're largely just testimony from the pews, in my opinion. You know, it's intellectual street ball with everybody kind of showing off their best handles. But, you know, when you get this kind of play in serious intellectual discourse, I'm not sure if it has any practical value.
You know, I mean, whatever happened to just plain crazy, right? Why does it have to be Marilyn Manson's fault or, you know, Steven Seagal's fault? Dude was crazy and there's no amount of gun legislation Oprah chai, or hashtags that's going to make crazy people better people. What we need to do - in this order - get your pens out everybody - is parent our children, correct your friends and keep our eye on the crazy cats that you hold outside of your crew. But all the rest of that, I'm just - I'm not sure.
You know, for me, I bowed out of those conversations 'cause I also felt that was largely - you know, I've been in this game a minute. And when women are having conversations about sexual assault and this type of thing, it's better that men just listen and stay out. You know, and - but again, I'm just not sure - like I said, it just occurs to me, this testimony from the pews. I'm not sure what exactly is going forward.
MARTIN: Well, I want to hear the guys have to say - other guys have to say about this. But I don't know - how is it that men should stay out when, in large part, they are the ones doing the raping and the assaulting? I mean, I'm saying obviously not all men, but why wouldn't men participate in those conversations? Go ahead, Rick. Go ahead. Do your thing.
NAJERA: No, and I think men have to be in that conversation. I mean, that's - it starts with the perpetrator, who really is creating the victim and, you know, and moving it forward. So men have to be part of that conversation.
I mean, I've - of course, you know, I have a wife, two daughters and a mother and sister and, you know, men are involved with women, you know, throughout our lives. But there is that problem of violence, and women do have to deal with fear on a level that men don't understand 'cause we don't deal with it. Unless we showed up in a penitentiary in a dress, we would not experience what women do every day.
MCALLISTER: I think what Jimi was trying to say was not necessarily that men should not participate but that men should not try to bark up, chime in, etc. - shut up, sit back and listen. You're not a woman. Listen to what women go through every single day and then actually try to learn from your peers on this planet. And then change not only your behavior but the behavior of men around you. I think that's what Jimi was going after. In that regard, I agree with him 100 percent.
IZRAEL: Ladies and gentleman, mark today on your calendar 'cause Mr. McAllister has my back.
IZRAEL: Corey Dade?
NAJERA: I have your back too. You know what it is? I believe that men have to be involved in the conversation, but typically, men, we try to fix things.
IZRAEL: Right, and I'm saying this isn't a situation we can fix. This is a situation we can fix among each other and we do, quiet as it's kept, we do.
MARTIN: Well, let me ask this though about Rick, 'cause Rick has some mayonnaise[??0.25??] in the biz. I mean, one of the conversations that we just had with Arthur Chu who was saying - who was talking about this whole, you know, "Revenge Of The Nerds" narratives. And there can be something about that that could be actually kind of uglier than sometimes we even want to acknowledge that it is. And he highlighted a particular - see, can I just get your take on this idea? You know, I don't know that anybody is saying movies cause people kill people, I mean, I think that - but this whole idea that we make it kind of OK by what we put out there - what do you say?
NAJERA: I think a lot of times what we're talking about, I think, is that men are the ones controlling what's happening in film, and it's mostly white - it's mostly white men in their twenties. And that's not me, it's the Writers Guild of America statistic. And it's not just the Writers Guild of America - I call it the Whitest Guild of America. And so...
NAJERA: ...You know, it's true. And so you look at it and I go - I'm a member. I'm a member of the Writer Guild, but the statistics are against the minorities and people of color and women. And because of it, the people that are telling the story happen to be the so-called nerds. And that's their fantasy a lot of times - of the nerd's going to get the woman.
I mean, I'm on the opposite side. I had horrible SAT scores and bad grades and I got women because women are just kind. So...
NAJERA: ...I had no revenge at all. And being Latino, I noticed they did shoot a Latino and we have the, you know, the stereotype of, we're the Latin lovers. And a big part of it is in our culture, we really listen to women. You know, we worship women. Yeah, I'm speaking from my culture right now, so.
IZRAEL: I have a problem with this narrative for any number of reasons, I mean, 'cause the nerd has been getting the woman since "Cyrano de Bergerac." So, I mean, I don't - to throw a creator under the bus, it just - it doesn't seem right to me. I'm sorry.
MARTIN: Let's - can Corey jump in here? Corey? Does Corey Dade, you want to weigh in?
DADE: Yeah, I - yes I would. As a mother - as a father of a daughter who's, you know, has to raise a daughter, I'm definitely willing to weigh in here. I think, you know, what I heard and what Arthur Chu was saying and Elliot Rodger is a parallel to what we hear from women who are tired of being rejected by men - the resentment and anger that build up in women. The difference is women don't turn into mass killers targeting men or anyone else as a result of that. I think the difference is America has a culture of violence against women that it still is grappling with.
I mean, 43 percent of college-age men admit to having used force to have sex with women, and yet, don't even recognize it as force. OK, so let's start there. We need to do a better job of teaching men to deal with rejection from women in a healthy way.
But this is the thing that's interesting. When we have these mass shootings, we tend to look for something unique about the mass shooter to explain their behavior. The Alabama college professor who went on a rampage in 2010 was said to be motivated by revenge for being denied tenure. The guy who shot Gabby Giffords and others in Arizona in 2011 was said to be motivated by right-wing political demagoguery. The truth is with all these...
MCALLISTER: It wasn't right wing, Corey. It wasn't right wing, actually they...
DADE: Just let me finish.
MARTIN: No, let him finish.
MCALLISTER: I'm just saying that wasn't true.
DADE: Of course it wasn't, that's exactly my point, Lenny. The truth of the matter is the commonality between all these shooters is anger, resentment and more than anything else, mental illness. So let's sort of put to the side this societal sort of discourse about, you know, rape culture and about violence against women, and deal with the mentally ill in an effective way - which is to say, how do we create a more effective legal recourse for parents, for loved ones to actually stop their mentally ill relatives from doing this?
MCALLISTER: This isn't about just mental illness, though. This is also about entitlement.
DADE: I didn't say just about.
MCALLISTER: I'm not saying you...
DADE: I'm saying first and foremost.
MCALLISTER: I'm piggybacking on what you said, Corey.
MARTIN: Go ahead, Lenny.
MCALLISTER: I'm not striking what you're saying, I'm piggybacking on it. It's not just about that, although there's obviously a component to mental illness that is involved here that we need to address. A lot of this though is entitlement. This individual that committed this heinous crime last week was also somebody from a privileged background who sat there and told himself, I have the money, I'm from a privileged background, I should be able to get these things. And again, now - when you start talking about entitlement, you're talking about accomplishing things, not forming relationships, being peers, having healthy relationships.
DADE: Yeah, I mean, I agree with you, Lenny...
DADE: Mental illness gloms onto any cultural idiom, OK, whether it's entitlement or this case, a racial animus in another case or anti-gay bias in a still other case.
MCALLISTER: Is every...
DADE: And sort of cultural bias - any sort of cultural bias can be something that ferments mental illness. Mental illness isn't the core of this.
MCALLISTER: It can be, but it doesn't mean that it has to. Every single thing that you think wrong is not a mental illness.
MARTIN: But - what now - Lenny, where do you think - what's your take on what should happen now, Lenny?
DADE: He was in therapy.
MCALLISTER: This goes back to - this goes back to what Jimi said. This is about parenting. This is about how we treat each other in our society and it starts in the home. You need to...
MARTIN: I don't know. His parents seem to have been...
DADE: His parents - yeah.
MARTIN: ...Working very hard to get him some help. I mean, this is too...
MCALLISTER: But he also had mental illness issues.
DADE: And he had a therapist.
MCALLISTER: And that's where the mental illness comes into play. But generally speaking, sometimes you go to take your boys aside, as a father to a 14-, 15-year-old boy, like I do with my 14-year-old, and remind him, hey, remember how you were holding the door open for your mom and your sister, that is somebody's mother - future mother, that's somebody's sister right now and you need to treat her a particular way. And if you're not doing it at 14, why in the world do we think it's going to make any difference at 22 to 24 years old?
DADE: Well, you have to teach. I mean, I do it with my son, too. He - you know, the difference between him and his sisters and explaining things to him of how to treat his sisters, how to treat women differently - the whole thing. I mean, it's - you have to teach early on. But I don't think Elliot Rodger had bad parents. And also, he was in - he had a therapist. And he had six cops that came to visit him to check him out.
DADE: Seven. OK, seven.
MARTIN: Well, but I think - why...
NAJERA: I mean, you're right.
MARTIN: It seems to me, though, that - but why - are these trained mental health professionals? I mean, it just seems that there's a lot to say here about how you could respond to these situations...
DADE: And, Michel - and that goes back to my point.
MARTIN: ...With people who go with you. Why isn't a social worker or psychiatrist a part of that kind of SWAT team. Why don't we have mental health SWAT teams?
MARTIN: I mean, it seems like we almost meet force with force as opposed to using everything we know about mental health. I mean, why wasn't a social worker a part of that crew?
DADE: And people actually...
MARTIN: I don't...
DADE: It's interesting, Michel, you mention that because people actually end up having to resort to the police as an end run around getting their mentally ill loved ones committed by force because it's so difficult to have that done, especially when you're dealing with an adult - someone who's older than 18. So they often have to go to the police to see if they can get psychiatric hold, which is what the parents of Elliot Rodger tried to get done, and they failed.
MCALLISTER: And they failed.
NAJERA: Six police showing up aren't therapists.
MARTIN: Yeah. That's true.
NAJERA: That's the truth. They're not therapists.
MARTIN: Obviously, there's a lot to talk about. And obviously, people have a lot on their minds. And I'm glad I get a chance to get your take on it from all of you. I do want to switch gears just for the time we have left.
And if you're just joining us, we're having our weekly Barbershop roundtable with writer Jimi Izrael, film writer and producer Rick Najera, journalist Corey Dade and Republican strategist and talk show host Lenny McAllister. Jimi, where do you want to go next? Do you want to talk about the NBA playoffs or do you want to talk about Dr. Dre? We only have about four minutes left. Where do you want to go?
IZRAEL: We can talk about Dr. Dre. I mean, why not.
MARTIN: All right. Let's talk about Dr. Dre. And we'll just do a quick round and I'll get your take at the end on who you want to win. So Apple is set to buy Beats Electronics for $3 billion. That would reportedly make the 49-year-old producer, rapper and businessman Dr. Dre the first hip-hop billionaire. So I just want thoughts. I don't know. What do you think? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Happy? Happy for him.
IZRAEL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
MARTIN: (Laughing) Go ahead, Rick.
NAJERA: I'm really happy for him.
MARTIN: Why doesn't he invite us over for a party?
MCALLISTER: Finally, it's good that someone finally made the money. And it makes sense. You're going to make the money behind the scenes. You're going to make the money as a producer. Rather than releasing one album at a time, you can release ten at a time and then build your way up in the business world. This makes all the sense in the world to me. Kudos to him.
MARTIN: Kudos to him.
MARTIN: Does anybody think it's lame?
DADE: No, I don't think it's lame. I think it's important to note that he's not making the billion off of his music. He's making the billion off of his brand, which reinforces to me the fact that hip-hop is now a highly marketable, legitimate bankable brand. And now maybe, maybe, maybe he has enough time to get that "Detox" album out. Come on, Dr. Dre. What's up?
MARTIN: All right. All right, well, indulge me a little bit on the playoffs then. All right, so - 'cause, you know, - 'cause guess what? I have the mic. I want to talk about the playoffs. Last night the San Antonio Spurs beat down the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs. The Spurs came out on top. And Kevin Durant of OKC says they're not giving up that easy. Let's - want to play it? Here it is.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)
KEVIN DURANT: It's been an up-and-down series. But we got to figure out a way to, you know, come with it on in Game 6. If we want to get to where we want to get to, we got to win in San Antonio. So - but we got to focus on the next game.
MARTIN: Well, yeah. OK, all right, Jimi. Who do you like? Who do you like for the final?
IZRAEL: Well, I'm from Cleveland. I'm only even vaguely aware of this game of balls and baskets that you speak of.
IZRAEL: So I'm going to have bow out. I've heard rumors of it, but I'm still researching it.
NAJERA: Oh, man. Yeah. I'm in LA with the Lakers.
MARTIN: OK. Rick.
NAJERA: So I can't deal with this at all.
MARTIN: Oh, no.
NAJERA: I got to bow out.
MARTIN: Oh, come on, man. No, what? All right, Corey, help me out here, man.
DADE: First of all, I'm looking for, you know - first of all, this series is just crazy - the Spurs, Oklahoma City. It's like two heavyweights, you know, throwing haymakers unable to stop each other. It's like a "Rocky" movie, a good one - one of the early good ones.
But I'm actually rooting for the battle of MVPs in the finals - Heat versus Thunder, Lebron versus KD. You know, no offense to the Spurs, but they're just boring. You know, they're just boring. So if you're going to be champions, at least give us some swag, little flare to it.
MCALLISTER: You think four NBA two NBA championships is not swag? I'm just going to put that out there. I mean, '99, 2003, 2005.
DADE: That's not swag. That's just...
MCALLISTER: That's not swag?
DADE: That's excellence.
MCALLISTER: You know, yeah - well, you know, and we're used to that here in Pittsburg with six Super Bowl championships.
IZRAEL: Yeah, yeah. Excellence is boring.
MCALLISTER: We know about what real swag, which is why you're going to see the Spurs and the Heat in a rematch.
>>MCALLISTER And if it wasn't for Ray Allen hitting a fluke shot in the corner after the ball bounced away, the Spurs would've had a championship last year, too. So it'd be very interesting to see them win that.
DADE: Hey, man, I'm greedy. I want swag and excellence. There you go.
MARTIN: Lenny, who do you like?
MCALLISTER: The Miami Heat.
MARTIN: Who do you like?
MCALLISTER: It's going to end up being the Spurs in seven, if not in six. And it's going to be the Heat, and it's going to probably be Spurs, Heat going seven games again.
MARTIN: And who do you think for the outcome? Who do you like for the championship?
MCALLISTER: It's going to be the best small forward in the history of the NBA, taking the MVP once again, that's Lebron James.
MARTIN: OK, anybody else cosigning that? Corey, what do you think?
IZRAEL: Lebron James?
DADE: I don't cosign on Lebron being a small forward 'cause he plays all four positions - the best one to do it since Magic. He'll go down as, you know, MVP if they win for sure.
MARTIN: OK. Rick, what do you think?
NAJERA: I agree with him. And I'm still thinking about Dr. Dre, and I'm just so happy for him. I'm just so happy. I hope he calls me.
MARTIN: I hope he calls you. I know. I hope he calls you, too. I hope he calls you, too.
NAJERA: That's all I want. Dr Dre, call me. Dr. Zan (ph), I need help here.
MARTIN: OK. Rick Najera is a writer, actor and producer. He joined us from NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Lenny McAllister is a Republican strategist and host of "Get Right With Lenny McAllister" on KDKA News Radio. Although he was with us from member station WQED, which is in Pittsburg. Corey Dade is contributing editor for The Root. He was with us from Philadelphia. And Jimi Izrael is a writer. You can find his blog at jimiizrael.com. He was with us today from member station WUKY, which is in Lexington, Ky. Thank you all so much.
MCALLISTER: God bless you.
DADE: Thank you, Michel.
NAJERA: Yes sir.
IZRAEL: Yep. Yep.
MARTIN: And remember, if you can't get enough Barbershop buzz on the radio, look for our Barbershop podcast. That's in the iTunes store or at npr.org. That's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Let's talk more on Monday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.