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Strange Fruit: Jose Antonio Vargas on 'I AM a Kentuckian' Tour

vargas classrom
ACLU of Kentucky

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When Jose Antonio Vargas was 12 years old, his mom put him on a plane in the Philippines and sent him to the United States to live with his grandparents. It wasn't until he tried to get his driver's license as a teenager that he learned he wasn't in the country legally.

A Pulitzer prize, several documentaries and the cover of Time magazine later, he's one of the country's most outspoken voices on immigrant rights. And as an out gay man (he came out while remaining "closeted" about his undocumented status), he speaks about the intersection of immigrant and LGBT issues.

Vargas will be in town next week for the ACLU of Kentucky's "I AM a Kentuckian" tour, and he joined us this week to talk about his work.

Since the last time we spoke, Vargas has produced a short documentary for MTV examining the demographic he says is often left out of diversity conversations: white people.

"This country is only gonna get gayer, blacker, browner, more Asian, women will break every possible barrier they can and should break," he says. "So if you think about what's at stake in American society, in American culture, what's at stake is the soul of white heterosexual men. The same people that wrote the Constitution and wrote the laws. How much change can they handle, and how inclusive are our conversations going to be about race?"

In our Juicy Fruit segment, we cover yet another police shooting — this time in West Palm Beach, Fla., where a drummer was shot by a cop after his car broke down on the side of the road. This time, though, other police in town have criticized the public handling of the shooting, calling for more transparency on the part of police administrators.

And here in Louisville, Judge Olu Stevens dismissed the jury in a drug trial because they were all white and the defendant was black. Kentucky's Supreme Court will soon decide whether it was an abuse of his judicial power.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.