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Heard On Sundial: Tweet From The Villages Goes Viral, Debate Over Monuments, Science Of Happiness

Carl Juste
Miami Herald
Protesters deface the statue of Christopher Columbus as the small group walk through Bayside and defaced bronze statue of Columbus and Ponce de Leon on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On this Monday, June 29th Episode of Sundial  

Tweet from the Villages goes Viral


A two minute video posted on Twitter from the Villages, a large retirement community in central Florida, has further fueled the conversation around racism and our politics. There’s a confrontation between Trump supporters and a group of protestors -- you can hear protesters calling the Trump supporters racists and you can hear one Trump supporter saying, “White power, white power.” 


Early Sunday morning, President Trump retweeted the video with a comment, thanking the Villages. The tweet was deleted three hours later and a spokesperson for the President said he did not hear the White Power comments. The President’s comments came as black lives matter protests continue across the country. 

“The President clearly believes that his campaign can win over more black voters than they did in 2016. They were campaigning to black voters with an economic message, this will only stand to hurt those efforts,” says the Miami Herald’s Senior Political Reporter David Smiley. “For the protests, if anything it's just throwing gasoline on a fire that’s still raging across the country.” 

We spoke with Smiley about the political implications of President Trump’s comments in Florida. We also discussed preparations for the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville this August and the final Presidential debate at the Arsht Center in Miami this October.   


Tearing Down Monuments


Statues and monuments linked to slavery are being taken down across the country, sometimes by protesters themselves. Historians, politicians and activists are grappling with monuments and street names that memorialize that painful history. Earlier this month, protesters vandalized the statues of Spanish conquistadors Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce De Leon outside of Bayside Marketplace in Miami, bringing to the forefront a debate about what these statues signify and where they belong.

Dr. Andrea Queeley is an associate professor at Florida International University. She teaches anthropology and African and African Diaspora Studies.  Dr. Dan Royles is an assistant professor of United States and African American history at FIU. And Dr. Paul George is a resident historian at HistoryMiami Museum. We spoke with the panel about the role of monuments in South Florida and what proposals they have for either removing the monuments or adding context to their stories.  


The Study of Happiness

We are living in one of the most challenging times in modern history. The coronavirus  pandemic has killed more than 125,000 Americans. Tens of millions remain out of work as the economy is still in the worst job market since the Great Recession. And racial tensions in America remain heightened as protests against police brutality continue. A report from the University of Chicago titled Americans Are the Unhappiest They Have Been in 50 Years, shows that only 14-percent of people in this country consider themselves to be happy.   

Dr. Sandro Formica is an FIU Professor of self-science and he’s dedicated much of his research to the economics of happiness.

“Happiness has three critical elements, the first is the joy that we experience. The second is the commitment to the pursuit of happiness. The third element is the meaning we give to life. Generally people only concentrate on the first one, that fleeting moment. But its not only that, the commitment and meaning are equally important to create sustainable happiness. ” 

We spoke with Dr. Formica about the science of happiness and what we can do to find joy in these increasingly challenging social times. 

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.