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April 15, 2022 29 mins

Ryan Gorman hosts an iHeartRadio nationwide special featuring Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill, about COVID-19, including its impact on minority communities. They also discuss how to differentiate between an allergy and a COVID infection. Best-selling Author Kostya Kennedy also joins the show to discuss his new book TRUE: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to I Heart Radio Communities, a public affair special
focusing on the biggest issues impacting you this week. Here's
Ryan Gorman. Thanks for joining us here on I Heart
Radio Communities. I'm Ryan Gorman, and we have some important
conversations lined up for you. In a moment, I'll talk
to an allergist and immunologist about COVID nineteen, the vaccines

and allergy season, including how to tell the difference between
the COVID infection and an allergy. Then I'll check in
with the author of a brand new book on Jackie
Robinson is Major League Baseball marks the fiftieth anniversary of
his passing and seventy fifth anniversary of when he broke
baseball's color barrier. Right now, to get things started, I'm
joined by Dr Pervy Perreek, an allergist and immunologist and

allergy and asthma associates at Murray Hill. She's also currently
on faculty as clinical Assistant professor in both departments of
Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.
Dr Preeke, thank you so much for coming on the show.
And where I want to begin is with the impact
of the pandemic on minority communities. April marks National Minority

Health Month, And with that in mind, how does COVID
continue to affect those communities in particular? Yeah, thank you,
thanks so much for having me. So, you know, the
pandemic unfortunately disproportionately impact minority communities. Um now, you know,
being more than two years into this, we have plenty

of data, you know, that shows that black and brown
communities are at much higher risk of not only contracting
COVID nineteen, but having severe COVID nineteen complications, higher rates
of deaths and hospitalizations from COVID nineteen, you know. And
and none of us really in the medical community, unfortunately,

are that surprised about this, because you know, minorities are
disproportunately affected for many chronic conditions, even for years before
the pandemic. So this is only amplifying kind of what
we already knew. And it's just like catch twenty two
because the things that put you at high risk for

getting severe COVID we're already you know, disproportionately um affected
in the minority community. So diabetes for example, or obesity,
hypertensions of things like that, and what about vaccination rates?
Among minorities. And why do you think in some minority
communities across the country we've seen this hesitancy to get vaccinated. Yeah,

you know, that's a great question. So, um, you know,
minority vaccination rates are improving, you know, they're not quite
where where we need them to be. Um. You know
in in uh the US, for all, you know, there
are more um Caucasians that are vaccinated. So you know,
upwards of anywhere between six seventy percent throughout compared to minorities.

You know, so for example, in certain areas, um like
North Dakota for examples, as low as forty percent, uh
certain or in areas where you know, uh pushed to
you know, get these communities vaccinated. Um, these public education
campaigns like New York City for example, the vaccination rates
for a little bit better minority communities, um there, you know,

in six seventy percent. But um, but the boosting that
now is uh not so good. You know, only one
third of Americans across the board have received their booster shot,
which is exceedingly low. And out of those, you know,
the rates of minorities are also very low. And I
think a lot of it comes from mistrust of the

medical community. UM, mistrust of clinical trials. You know, there's
there's been certain incidents in history that have unfortunately created
this mistrust. So for example, the Tuskegee experiments, UM, you know,
where African Americans were unethically had things tested upon them. UM.
So these certain incidents have actually increased the mistrust. UM.

Also know, up until now, you know, so much of
medical trials, clinical trials were all predominantly Caucasian males, right,
so we have a very huge lass of diversity. Uh.
And so there is this feeling that other communities are
being left out of the conversation and the and the
research isn't backing that. So UM, you know, there there

is this fear, there's this trust nobody wants to be
a guinea pig, and that I think made the vaccinations
UM roll out slow in minority communities. I was involved
in the clinical trials for the COVID nineteen vascinations, and
even then, you know, we did have a push to
try to include minority groups, but it was still very

low percentages is UM. Out of all the COVID nineteen trials,
we had about ten percent African American participants UM only
four percent Asian participants. UM, I think about fifteen to
seventeen percent Hispanic and Latin X participants, So you know
there is improvement to grow. But again it's that same
mistrust of the medical system due to past experiences. I'm

Ryan Gorman joined right now by Dr Pervy peric and
allergist and immunologist and Allergy n Asthma Associates and Murray Hills.
She's also currently on faculty as clinical Assistant professor in
both departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University
School of Medicine. So when you've come across someone who
is vaccine hesitant, what advice do you give them? What
do you tell them? Yeah, so you know what I

tell them is that, you know, you should be far
more hesitant of the actual virus, you know, than the
vaccine itself. Uh. You know, I understand the hesitancy initially
when we're first rolling out the vaccines when they only
had emergency use approval. But now actually they've been vaccinating,
both vaccines have full FBA approval. Both Maderna an Seiser

and I also explained that you know, ironically, in UH
minority populations it is exceedingly even more important to be
get vaccinated to kind of level that playing field because
of that medical disproportionate. UM. You know, how COVID disproportionately
affects minority communities because death rate, hossiate hospitalization rates are

two to three times more compared to the Caucasian counterparts.
These are the reasons why these communities need the vaccination
more so. UM. I also, you know, explained the fact
that in many of these studies, some of the leading
scientists and investigators were minorities, you know, and in and
in these studies as well, there was a great push

to get minority communities involved. UM. And you know, I
think having physitions of minority backgrounds helps the mentally. So
for example, I'm South Asian, so I did speak to
many in the South Asian community about how we're at
much higher it because we have higher rates of diabetes,
we have higher rates of hyper tension, obesity. UM, so

we're a much higher risk of the complications of COVID
nineteen and severe COVID. And I have many other colleagues,
UM you know that are of the latinox communities of
African American communities, and they also have been going out
and sharing the same facts, the same statistics in hopes
to kind of be a trusted messenger, if that makes sense.

Let me switch gears here now to something that I'm
sure is on the minds of a lot of people listening,
and you're the perfect person to answer this. As an
allergist and an immunologist. We have COVID nineteen spreading. We
also have allergy season upon us. How can we tell
the difference if we start feeling different symptoms between allergies

and COVID nineteen, right, Yeah, that's a very common question
this time of year. Uh, And it can be very
difficult to distinguish, you know, because some of the symptoms
are virtually identical. So for example, you know, things like
causing nasal congestions, sore throat uh, that you could have
with either, to be honest, and it's almost impossible to

tell without a COVID nineteen tests, even for a physician. Um.
But there are some unique features of allergies, you know.
Allergies tend to have more itchy symptoms, so itchy, watery eyes,
itchy ears, throat um and they also are less likely
to have a high temperature with it. So usually with
COVID or any other virus that you will have a

temperature of a hundred point four or higher. Um. Also,
you may have stomach symptoms with any with viruses like
covid or the flu that you wouldn't have with the
with the allergies, such as you know, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, um. So,
so those are some distinguishing features. Um. But like I said,
if you've been you know, in a high risk for

higher transmission area around other people who've cast it positive
and you're having symptoms, don't disregard it and assume as allergies.
You know, this is how the virus spreads because you know,
especially in vascinated in boots sid individuals, the symptoms may
be very viold, you know, just like allergies. So um. Again,
when in doubt, it's always good to be tested. But

if you know you're someone who's thrown to allergies, you know,
if it's last thing for weeks on end, it is
it's less likely than it is that it is a
COVID virus. But you know we are seeing an up
taking cases, so it can be very hard to distinguish
between the two. One final question for you, what is
the advice that you give to your patients about how

they can continue to stay safe as we enter yet
another phase now of this pandemic. Yeah, well, you know,
my advice would be is, you know, you don't have
to constantly live in fear. We have so many more
tools in our toolkit compared to two years ago. Excellent
and safe vaccines, um even excellent therapeutics should you fall ill.

But that being said, you know, um use good judgment,
you know if you and remember these are all guidelines,
so you have to hailer them to your individual risk,
your family's individual risk. So if you're somebody who is
at high risk for COVID nineteen, if you have a
lung condition like asthma or copd uh, if you're over
uh sixty five or hypertension will be to be heart disease,

anything that puts you at higher risk and une compromise.
Then by all means, keep masking, especially indoors, especially in
crowded areas. Make sure you uh you know, speak with
your physicians and stay up to date about when you're
do for your booster or next to booster um. And
if you still haven't gotten even your first vaccination, you know,
please get it. You know. The UM, it's the data

is in its stakes. We have you know, over four
billion people vaccinated on this planet and it's very clear
you know, the vaccine UH, keeps you out of the hospital,
will save your life. UM. But again remember to be
ready to change, you know, and be dynamic. If you
do notice rates are starting to go up and things
are changing locally, then UH, you should be more careful.

So Philadelphia, for example, did bring back their master mandates
in the last few days. And and that's what people
have to realize that it's very regional. Uh, it's very
specific to where you are. Do you have to keep
an eye on what's going on where you are or
if you're traveling, where you're going. Dr Purvy Perreek an
allergist and immunologist and Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill.

She's also currently on faculty as clinical Assistant professor in
both Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University
School of Medicine. Dr Pereeke, thanks so much for coming
on and offering up that insight. We really appreciate it. Well,
thank you thanks for having me alright, and finally let's
turn to best selling author Costia Kennedy, who has a
new book out titled True The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson. Actually,

this weekend, Major League Baseball is marking the fiftieth anniversary
of the passing of Jackie Robinson and the seventy fifth
anniversary of when he broke Major League Baseball's color barrier. Costia,
thank you so much for coming on the show. And
let's begin with the beginning of Jackie Robinson's incredible life story.
His upbringing obviously had a lot to do with what

he would accomplish and how he'd handle all of the
adversity that would come his way. Tell us about the
early days of Jackie Robinson's life. Sure, so, I mean
the earliest days. He was born in Cairo, Georgia, but
he lived there just for about a year a year
and a half of his life. His father was was
not with the family, but his mother took in his

sibility doubt the Pasadena, California, and that's why he grew
up um and was an exceptional athlete. Um first to
past Dan Junior College, later in U c. L A.
And I think the environment there was impointively became because
it was certainly there was racial discrimination and he certainly
had to deal with that. And you know, just one example,

you know, African Americans growing about to swim one week
one day a week at the at the pool in Pasadena,
and others could swiming the other day. So, uh, he
had some sort of harsh reminders that way. At the
same time, he was not segregated the way the South was,
so he was familiar with being around in integrated venues

um at certainly at U c l A. And and
in college and and so it showed. And and also
for his white Rachel Craman, his wife, also grew up
in Los Angeles, so they came. They had a sense
of possibility and understanding to it to an integrated world
that he might not have had if he had stayed

on growing up in the South. So I think that
all that this round has had a very important impact
on what he would become. Were any members of Jackie
Robinson's immediate family or anyone really in his orbit, were
they actively involved in civil rights issues of any kind,
were they politically involved, or you just had pretty much

an ordinary black family in America, with Jackie Robinson being
a standout app league Yeah, it was. I mean he
then became extremely uh involved and passionate about it. But
the family was, you know, trying to to you know,
make make the living and make their schooling and um,

you know, a very good responsible family is with with
with success in their lives, but not politically acted in
any sense aside from what Jackie did. And then was
the come tell us about nineteen forty six and you
document this in your book. Again, I'm joined by Kosta Kennedy,
author of True The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson. What

was significant about nineteen forty six? But I think forty
six was Robinson's first season playing baseball as in an
all white league. He was the one black player in
an all white league. And he's playing for the Booklyn Dodgers,
top farm team in Montreal Royals in the best minor
league system in the International League. And it was a crucial,

crucial year for him Ryan because both emotionally and psychologically
as well as physically, Um, it gave Robinson as well
as his wife Rachel, a cent of the like they
were entering. There was a lot of spotlight on him, yes,
with the minor league, but they were you know, twenty
five thousand people, sellout crowds coming to the game, a

lot of pressure on him. They played games in the
United most of their game they played against teams in
the United States and Baltimore, Buffalo, Syracuse, Jersey City, places
like that, so there was a sense of what they
were stepping into. The celebrity the spotlight was crucial to
understand and it was specifically he was an extraordinary athlete

head letters in fourth sports at u c l A,
but was relatively new to baseball itself. So for all
of his skills, he was you know, he may kind
of the young player mistakes, he'd go to the wrong
base or do to make make a wrong at times
on the field, and to be able to work through
that um in the mind leave was crucial. So that

year in Montreal and living Uh in an otherwise old
white neighborhood with actually French speaking neighbors who were very
warm and welcoming to him, but they obviously could only
go so far in communication. UM. What was was very
was crucial to preparing Uh, Robinson and Rachel for the years.

Thank you for your seven to come and I'm truly
for their life to come. That that you were absolutely essential.
Did Jackie Robinson want to be the one to break
the color barrier in baseball? Or was he just a
baseball player and in order to do what he loved
to do, that happened to be part of the deal.

I think it's it's very honest to separate. Um. You know,
I think he he embraced it when he got the opportunity.
There's no question he didn't shy away from it. He felt, uh,
as I mentioned, he tells him was possibility towards that
and he felt ultimately they were a privilege to have
this opportunity to be the first and to have that

trust upon him when at times when he wished he
could just be a ballplayer, no question. And I think
for Robinson the greatest side of equality would be Yeah, Robinton,
he just wanted the guys that that. But he was
never separated from the larger issue and he couldn't be
and he wouldn't want to be. He embraced it and

again with it with his wife, because you have to
do that as a family. Uh, they embraced the charge
and um, you know, and and he didn't just sort
of you know, it's something as we think of history
is inevitable. It's not like it could have been a
different player who might have succeeded very well or might
not have or but they wouldn't taken any different direction

he had. It's his history that he made. It's probably
if he walked into history. He he pushed and guided
this to be what it was. And I think the
fact that he was so successful in the baseball player
really went a long way and in making it a
success that he has simply been a sort of okay player.
And on the script, it still would have been enormous

and huge to break the color barrier, and no mistakes
about that, but it would have had a different impact
than him being the player and the person that he
was and embracing this role. I always think it's interesting
these individuals in our history who are part of these
major moments, and especially the ones who live up to
the moment. What was it about Jackie Robinson his makeup?

Was there a traitor a characteristic in particular that you
think helped him as he accomplished this monumental task of
breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier. You know, I think
he had a real sense of commitment um and a
real uh determination those were two characteristics that he that
he had bak to day and anything he did small

or large, uh. And and that you know that will
take you, that will take you someplace when when you
really need need to have it um. So he wasn't
afraid to speak his mind. Certainly. Another thing I think
it's important is that he was certainly described him as
an activist. I'll present accurately. But Jackie operated within the system.

He did think UM, he pushed the bound sometimes that
he didn't go outside the system. He what was not
a player, for example, held out for for a new contract.
Right is that analogy. And he knew the rules, he
knew the law and he and he worked within that
to achieve what he achieved. And that's another characteristic that

I think helped make him UM make him successful. He
was to be very differential and respectful of the people
around him. And he would also stand up and say
when something was wrong or somebody was wrong. He wasn't
shy about that. So a certain commitment, a certain confidence
um all played into his his sort of standard and

and uh method of operation. I'm Ryan Gorman, joined by
Costa Kennedy, author of True The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson.
Let's fast forward to his third season with the Brooklyn
Dodgers when he wins the MVP Award. What was it
about ninety nine that really stood out to you? Well,

one clear thing is that in his first two season
with the Dodgers, and Robinson had an agreement with Brand
tricky to the Dodger general manager, but also by his
own assessment. By Robinson's own assessment, decided to sort of
turn the other cheek, uh, and not really respond to
retaliate when he was played aggressive, played against aggressively. For instance,

in the first two years in the league, no player
in the majors was hit with the pitch more than
Jackie Robinson was. I mean know that a lot of
those were thrown on purpose, but he kind of turned
the other cheek, held it in check. Nineteen nine, that's
changed and he said before that season, Uh, they'd better
be rough on me this year because I'm gonna be

rough on them. And Jackie came out. He had a
reputation as the Negro leagues as being an I quote
a teammate of his saying Jackie was up to his
neck in every game. He was an intense sometimes tost
temperate player, and he let that begin the show in
nineteen nine, where now he was not only dancing off
the base, but he's hard a picture. Um. If you

put a hard tad on him unnecessarily, you better believe
you were going to get one the next time he
came into second base. UM, physical, disruptive player. And what
we saw is him go from being a very good player.
He won Lookie at the Year in nineteen seven, had
another solid year in forty eight, but in forty nine,
with this new sort of self imposed freedom. Uh. But

what was Rachel called a freeer style of play? Uh,
he suddenly became the best baseball player in ether league
and won the m v P and the impacted shook
up every game he was in. So that would be
that was the big shift. In also the year that
he became the first black ballplayer to make an All
Star Games. How was he viewed within the game, especially

after that nine season when he starts to push back
against some of the actions taken against him on the
baseball fields. Was there a certain level of respect that
he was gaining within the game, or was there still
a lot of contentiousness about him breaking the color Barrier. Well,

I think it was overall of certainly biggotry, and there
were certainly some players who were biggert it. But and
this is this is an aspect of of athletics in general.
The guy could play and every player on their every
player on any team, and they expected it and they
honored it. There was no other way you could do it.
A lot of guys didn't like to play against him
because he was tough to play again, all the things

I was saying, you know, he's hard. He makes the picture, hmselved,
he made the defense unseettled. Who wants to play against
a guy like that? Uh? Even fans. I spoke to
one old New York Giants stander said I hated Robinson.
I didn't. Ad mccodey was black. Right nineteen fifty six,
his final season in Major League baseball. This was a

tremendous season for a number of different reasons. Talk to
us about that year. Yeah, so he was coming off
of Seedon, which was famous for the Dodgers, of course
because they beat the Yankees in the World Series. Finally,
but with a very difficult year for Robinson's retirement in
the end of his career was sort of looming in
the background, and Robinson really made an effort despite some

physical challenges, and he had to again be a very
productive player. He did not play at the level where
he was at forty nine in the early fifties, but
he was an extremely important productive player uh to take
the Matt World Series six And it was also a
time when he was beginning to look towards and uh

aim at the life after baseball. He was given something
called the Spingar and Medal from the end of a
CP that year in n the kind of medal that
had gone to W. E. B. Dubois and two Servid
Marshall and people like that went to an athlete for
the first time in that athlete with Jackie Robinson. So
we see him on the field and beginning to be
off the field in a pretty poignant, powerful way. I'm

Ryan Gorman, joined by Kostia Kennedy, author of true The
Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson. So when it was all
over and Jackie Robinson was done playing baseball, was he
content with all that he had accomplished and was he
willing and ready to make that next step that post

baseball life. Was he ready to embrace that or was
there still part of him that one to do more
in baseball. No, I think from you know, inside of
the traditional athletic sense of it, tough to ly became behind.
I think he was ready. He moved straight into an
office job with the chop full of nuts. His body

had broken down to the point that he was relieved
to not have to face those physical pressures. So I
think it's in that sense, um, you know, I think
he was satisfied and probably if he would look back,
you know, he didn't get because of segregation. He didn't
get into the game until he was twenty eight, so
to have only part of his career. But I think

towards end he was ready to ready to stop. And then,
of course the last year that really document in your book,
nineteen seventy two, the year of Jackie Robinson's untimely passing.
Tell us about that, and then more broadly, more of
a big picture look back at his life and his
legacy now fifty year after he passed away, in seventy

five years after he broke the color barrier in Major
League baseball. So seventy two, as I mentioned, he had
been kind of out of baseball for a while in
the early part of that year. Gil Hodge is an
old Book and Dodgers teammate who was also quite young
when he died late forties. Um died and it was
a funeral with where Jackie went to and don howcome
at Serie Reese and Ralph blank are mentioning all old

Dodgers teammates, and he sort of reconvened with them, and
that began a really interesting year of him getting back
in the baseball while also remaining very active in civil rights.
He'd spent a lot of time working with Dr king Um,
who at the late fifties and sixties had been at
the Dream Speech up on the Dais with his family.

Um and had really a voice in his funeral with
a you know, a sort of historic event um Jesse
Jackson a eulogy or the performance by a Berta Flack.
And people weren't quite sure how he would be sent off,
given that he had sort of feuded with people also
along the way, as I mentioned, he had certain strong opinion.

But there was thousands and thousands of people who changed
his funeral, the very emotional of them lining the streets
in Harlem as he went out waiting at the grave
site for him. So the impact that he had had
on those lives was evident that day, you know, and
really set the stage for the next part of your question,
which is the tag legacy today. You know, he for

for for people then in seventy two and for many
years who remembered his breaking in. He was, you know,
the brightest light of hope for many people and and
represented um new possibilities. And as time has gone on,
he stayed enormously relevant. UM. There's one affort that past
to mention that Jackie Robinson Foundation, which Rachel began shortly

after Jackie's death, which provides scholarships UM and has been
from close to fifty years now for UH, primarily minority
students in need. And UH it's changed lives and had
such an impact of so many life And that's what
Jackie set out to do. That's what he wanted to
do and makes life better for so many people. UM.

And I think we see him and hear him and
feel him in many differents. He's still you know, the
family gets letters from people regularly lost, the letters of
foundation gets letters from people talk about the impact he had.
There's you know, if you go to the grave site
as fresh uh, people leave the half, they leave a

baseball and leave a bat yesterday tomorrow, because he's still
at the presence in people's vibe in many ways. Best
selling author Costier Kennedy, who has a new book out
true The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson again marking the
fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Jackie Robinson. It's also
the seventy anniversary of one of the most significant moments

of the twentieth century, Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier
in Major League baseball. Kostia, thank you so much for
taking the time to come on the show. Really fascinating book, Bryan,
it was a pleasure to be Hology. Thank you for
having me absolutely, thanks again for coming on. And you
know that book on Jackie Robinson, it really is incredible.
We all pretty much you know the story of his

struggles and the challenges that he had to overcome to
break the color barrier in baseball, but when you read
it in detail like that, just such an incredible, remarkable
American and of course wanted to be celebrated on this
fiftieth anniversary of his passing. I'm Ryan Gorman that's going
to do it for this edition of I Heart Radio.
Communities will be back, same time, same place, next weekend.

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