Pulitzer Prize winning Nicholas Kristof on Inequality, Mass Incarceration, and Social Justice for Native Americans

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Why is it so important to restore Native American autonomy? Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof and Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health Director Allison Barlow join host Billy Shore to talk about poverty, education, and the struggle for social justice in Native American communities. “The Bureau of Indian Education schools only have a 53% high school graduation rate! We are failing them way before they fail us,” suggests Kristof. “One of the greatest prides for parents on a Native reservation is to celebrate their child’s high school graduation. If children there aren’t graduating from high school, it’s because of generations of trauma on top of a really ineffective education system,” Barlow says.

“Just during COVID, we’re going to have tremendous lessons coming out of Native American communities for the world, especially around the value systems of honoring and protecting community over self,” predicts Barlow. “We as a country have had this narrative that when people struggle, it’s because of a lack of personal responsibility and bad choices. When a child born in a certain county has a life expectancy shorter than that of Cambodia, that’s not because that infant is making a bad choice. It’s because we as a society are making bad choices about healthcare, education and jobs,” says Kristof.

Join us for this powerful conversation about the role of collective responsibility in the struggle for a more equitable society.

Resources and Mentions:

Nicolas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes New York Times op-ed columns that appear twice a week. Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to more than 140 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. He's also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the so-called "Axis of Evil." During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, mobs and an African airplane crash. In addition to the Pulitzers, he has also won other prizes including the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award. Kristof graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and then studied law at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, graduating with first class honors.
Allison Barlow

Allison Barlow

Allison Barlow PhD, MPH joined the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in 1991. In April, 2016, she was named Director of the Center.  She also directs all behavioral and mental health promotion for the Center. Her health research and program portfolio focuses on child, adolescent and family health and youth development for reservation-based American Indian communities.  Projects to date have spanned teen parenting outreach and early child development; suicide, depression and substance abuse prevention; diabetes and obesity prevention; and youth entrepreneurship and life skills training. All programs center on training and employing indigenous outreach workers who design, direct and evaluate the interventions for their tribal communities. She also co-founded the NativeVision program in 1997 with the NFL Players Association to promote Native American youth development through the mobilization of professional athletes to participate in camps and afterschool activities promoting education and healthy lifestyles. She has received the Martin Luther King Community Service/Social Justice Awards from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (2007) and Dartmouth College (2008), and the Indian Health Service Director’s Award in 2013.

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health works in partnership with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve the health status, self-sufficiency, and health leadership of Native people. Founded in 1991 and based in the Department of International Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health supports public health interventions designed for and by Native peoples.