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51% #1622: Singing In Prison; Talking About Being Undocumented

Kiara Chavez and Gloria Steinem
Courtesy of Motus Monologues
Kiara Chavez and Gloria Steinem

On this week’s 51%, we hear about a women’s prison choir, and the coronavirus pandemic presents even more challenges to female veterans in need of housing.

Nearly six in every 10 women incarcerated in U.S. state prisons are survivors of physical or sexual violence. That’s according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Prison often compounds the trauma. Amanda Weber had this in mind when she started a choir inside the women’s prison in Shakopee, Minnesota. Natalie Pollard joined. The two are now working together to start what’s thought to be the country’s first re-entry choir. KFAI’s Anna Stitt reports.

(Music by Natalie Pollard and the Voices of Hope women's prison choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Shakopee.)

Female veterans in New York without a permanent place to live have strikingly few options — and with the COVID-19 pandemic stretching on, they face more challenges than ever. Just a warning, this story contains details some listeners will find difficult to hear. 51%’s Jackie Orchard reports.

Motus Monologues the UndocuAmerica Series features stories from the front lines and front porches of your undocumented neighbors. The stories from the UndocuAmerica Series were developed as part of a creative collaboration between Motus Theater in Colorado and a group of undocumented people living in the United States. In this monologue, you'll hear Kiara Chavez tell a story of flying home to Mexico for the first time since she was four to see her ailing grandmother. She was able to travel as part of the Advance Parole program that once allowed youth with DACA (or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status to leave the country for work, education or humanitarian reasons. These visits are no longer allowed because the Advance Parole program was terminated in 2017.

This UndocuAmerica autobiographical monologue was created by Kiara Chavez in collaboration with Motus Theater Artistic Director Kirsten Wilson as part of a Motus Monologue Project. The Motus Monologues Podcast can be found here.

You can hear feminist Gloria Steinem read and reflect on Chavez's story in Motus Theater's companion podcast 'Shoebox Stories' - where prominent Americans step into the shoes of our undocumented neighbors. 

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Tina Renick for production assistance. Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock. Our theme music is Glow in the Dark by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio. If you’d like to hear this show again, sign up for our podcast, or visit the 51% archives on our web site at wamc.org. And follow us on Twitter @51PercentRadio

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