Racism | WAMC

Racism

Book cover for "When Evil Lived in Laurel"
W. W. Norton & Company / W. W. Norton & Company

In January 1966, Vernon Dahmer, head of a Mississippi chapter of the NAACP and a dedicated advocate for voter registration, was murdered by the White Knights, one of the most violent sects of the KKK in the South.

Veteran journalist Curtis Wilkie’s "When Evil Lived in Laurel" is the chilling story of this little-known brutal murder from the Civil Rights era and its aftermath, which ultimately led to the downfall of the infamous Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers and the destruction of his virulently racist organization.

To recreate these harrowing events—the conversations, incendiary nighttime meetings, plans leading up to Dahmer’s murder, and the nearly botched execution of them—Wilkie drew on his exclusive access to the almost daily journals, kept secret for fifty years, of a former Klan infiltrator for the FBI who risked his life to help break the White Knights.

Bookcover for "The Groundbreaking"
Icon Books Ltd / Icon Books Ltd

  On 31 May 1921, in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a mob of white men and women reduced a prosperous African American community, known as Black Wall Street, to rubble, leaving countless dead and unaccounted for, and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed.

But along with the bodies, they buried the secrets of the crime.  Scott Ellsworth, a native of Tulsa, became determined to unearth the secrets of his home town. Now, nearly 40 years after his first major historical account of the massacre ("Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921"), Ellsworth returns to the city in search of answers.

Book cover for The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
University of Oklahoma Press / University of Oklahoma Press

On the evening of May 31, 1921, and in the early morning hours of June 1, several thousand white citizens and authorities violently attacked the African American Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the course of some twelve hours of mob violence, white Tulsans reduced one of the nation’s most prosperous black communities to rubble and killed an estimated 300 people, mostly African Americans.

In "The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History," Historian and Black Studies professor Karlos K. Hill presents a range of photographs taken before, during, and after the massacre, mostly by white photographers.

Karlos K. Hill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of "Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory."

Inaugural Woodstock Film Festival Residency Filmmakers: (clockwise) Eunice Lau, Maba Ba, Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, and Brooke Pepion Swaney
Provided / https://woodstockfilmfestival.org/

The Woodstock Film Festival is knee-deep in its inaugural Filmmakers Residency / Incubator Program. It serves four filmmakers of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds who are in the midst of developing their respective full-length narrative and documentary films, each addressing social justice themes. Each project will fit within the mission of the residency of artistic vision and social responsibility, resting upon four pillars: Racism, Climate Change, Food Insecurity, and Immigration.

Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein says she is “thankful for the opportunity to bring the fellows, mentors, staff and community at-large together and look forward to seeing these promising filmmakers hone in their creative voices."

The four filmmakers are Eunice Lau, Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, Brooke Pepion Swaney and Maba Ba.

Book cover for "Punch Me Up To The Gods"
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Brian Broome is a poet and screenwriter, and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a finalist in The Moth storytelling competition and won the grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King Writing Awards.

His debut memoir, “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is available today. It begins in his early years - growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys. The book is framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool” and is earning rave reviews.

Book cover for "No Common Ground"
The University of North Carolina Press

When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.

In "No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice," Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. 

Book cover for "Let's Talk Race"
New Society

"Let's Talk" Race confronts why white people struggle to talk about race, why we need to own this problem, and how we can learn to do the work ourselves and stop expecting Black people to do it for us.

Written by specialists in race relations and parents of two adopted African American sons, Fern Johnson and Marlene Fine, the book provides unique insights and practical guidance, richly illustrated with personal examples, anecdotes, research findings, and prompts for personal reflection and conversations about race.

4/21/21 RT Panel

Apr 21, 2021
Microphone in radio studio
WAMC / WAMC

            The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, President of the Albany branch of the NAACP Debora Brown-Johnson, UAlbany Lecturer in Africana Studies Jennifer Burns, Immigration attorney and Partner with the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, Cianna Freeman-Tolbert, and Albany County District Attorney David Soares.

Book cover for "A Beginner's Guide to America"
Knopf

Roya Hakakian is a lauded Persian poet turned television producer with programs like "60 Minutes." She became well known for her memoir, "Journey from the Land of No" in 2004, which won Elle Magazine's Reader's Choice Award.

She writes frequent essays on Iranian issues in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and on NPR. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, Roya published Assassins of the Turquoise Palace in 2011, a non-fiction account of the Mykonos restaurant assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders in Berlin. Her new book is "A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious."

Book cover for "Black Girl, Call Home"
Berkley

It is National Poetry Month and we talk this morning with poet Jasmine Mans about her new collection: "Black Girl, Call Home." The collection explores the intersection of race, feminism, and queer identity. It is a deeply emotional and personal ode to the places we come from, and a piercing meditation on identity.

Mans caused a stir when a video of her performing her poem “Footnotes for Kanye” went viral on YouTube. Since then, she has continued to build a following through her live performances at venues like the Kennedy Center and Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theater and on stages across the country,

Her new book "Black Girl, Call Home" is inspired and informed by her own life and offers an important perspective on the world we live in. Poems from the collection have been featured by Elle and O, The Oprah Magazine, part of the national dialogue about issues and events that deeply affect people of color.

Artwork for WAM Theatre production of Letters to Kamala
provided

In the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, playwright Rachel Lynett conjures three female American political leaders of the past to share their wisdom, perspective, and wry humor with VP candidate Kamala Harris.

In the WAM Theatre event, "Letters to Kamala," we meet three powerful women on whose shoulders Kamala now stands: Charlotta Bass, the first Black woman candidate for vice president, Charlene Mitchell, the first Black woman to run for president, and Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to be elected to the House of Representatives, first Asian-American woman to run in Congress and the first Asian-American to run for president.

The play is available for streaming from this Sunday, March 14 through Sunday, March 21. We welcome WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and playwright Rachel Lynett.

Book cover for "The Devil You Know" and author photo of Charles M. Blow
Harper

Acclaimed New York Times columnist and author Charles M. Blow never wanted to write a “race book.” But as both physical and psychological violence against Black people seemed only to increase in recent years, culminating in the historic pandemic and protests of the summer of 2020, he felt compelled to write a new story for Black Americans.

His new book is "The Devil You Know."

The new book "400 Souls" is a unique one volume community history of African Americans. The editors Ibram X. Kendi and Keyshia Blaine have assembled 90 brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five year period of that 400 year span.

The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives. Through the eyes of towering historical icons are the untold stories of ordinary people through places laws and objects.

Book cover for "Halfway Home" and author photo of Reuben Miller
Little Brown and Company

  Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record.
 
Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison.

Miller's book is "Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration."

Book cover - "The Life I'm In"
Scholastic Inc. / Scholastic Inc.

In Sharon Flake's bestselling modern classic “The Skin I'm In,” readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen who suffered from the ridicule she received because of her dark skin color. For decades fans have wanted to know the fate of the bully who made Maleeka's life miserable, Char.

Now in Sharon Flake's latest, “The Life I'm In,” we follow Charlese Jones, who, with her raw, blistering voice speaks the truths many girls face, offering insight to some of the causes and conditions that make a bully.

Turned out of the only home she has known, Char boards a bus to nowhere where she is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking.

Sharon Flake won the Coretta Scott King Award for “The Skin I'm In.”

Book cover "You'll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey"
Provided - Grand Central Publishing

Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Amber moved to New York City where, in 2014, she became the first ever black female writer on a network late-night show when she joined the staff of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” She still works there, writing and appearing on camera - often singing - always hilarious - and in September of 2020, NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock premiered “The Amber Ruffin Show” - a no-guest and, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, audience-less half-hour where Ruffin and the show’s announcer, her friend, Tarik Davis, wear zazzy suits and talk about current events.

In hosting this show, Amber joins a long list of Jo(h)n’s, Johnny’s and Jimmy’s - mostly white - looking at a camera or two and giving you their take. By her own account, she is having a blast.

Her sister, Lacey Lamar, still lives and works in Omaha. She loves Omaha. She has worked in the healthcare and human service field for more than twenty-five years, thirteen of those working with troubled youth. And she deals with something racist every single day. She’s petite (though also a body-builder!) and attractive - and black.

Lacey calls Amber and tells her stories about HR people freezing her out, white people shoving their entire hand into her hair, getting followed around by power-hungry mall security and countless others. Some that repeat in a predictable pattern, some brand new and straight out of seemingly nowhere. Of course - the stories aren’t from “nowhere.” The stories are from systemic racism.

So Lacey tells her latest tale. And Amber laughs. And Lacey laughs. 

“You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism” is the sisters' new book, it’s published by Grand Central. Amber and Lacey will be doing an Oblong Online event on Thursday, January 21 at 7pm. The event will be hosted via Crowdcast and will be moderated by Lacey Schwartz Delgado.

sign welcoming people to Longmeadow
Wikepedia

     Members of a task force created to address the scourge of systemic racism in the suburb of Longmeadow, Massachusetts are seeking public input.


             The Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice Task Force has scheduled an open listening session for this Thursday, December 10th.   It will be held virtually.


              WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Zach Verriden, who is the chair of the task force.

Book cover for "Light for the World to See"
HMH Books / HMH Books

Black lives matter. The words are simple, but to put them into practice is a necessary and radical act.

NPR correspondent and New York Times bestselling author, Kwame Alexander’s new book, "Light for the World," is a powerful and provocative collection of poems that cut to the heart of the entrenched racism and oppression in America and eloquently explores ongoing events.

A book in the tradition of James Baldwin’s “A Report from Occupied Territory,” "Light for the World to See" is a lyrical response to the struggles of Black lives in our world . . . to America’s crisis of conscience . . . to the centuries of loss, endless resilience, and unstoppable hope.

Alexander is the bestselling author of 32 books including the Newbery Medal-winning middle grade novel "The Crossover" and the 2020 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book "The Undefeated."

Book cover for "Stakes is High" - red and gray text on a black background
Bold Type Press / Bold Type Press

Mychal Denzel Smith’s last book, "Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching," was a powerful account of what it means being a young black man in America. In his follow up, he confronts the well-meaning liberal reaction to the 2016 election and calls on us all to reckon with who we are as Americans and, perhaps more importantly, who we want to be.

We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, and the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom.

But in his new book, "Stakes Is High," Mychal confronts the shortcomings of these stories--and with the American Dream itself--and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize. He exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We’ve gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence--of incarceration, poverty, misogyny, and racism--are ever-present. But there is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Mychal helps us envision it, with care, honesty, and imagination.

Sarah Rogerson
albanylaw.edu / albanylaw.edu

Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency in 2016 with a pledge to bring down illegal immigration, famously blaming undocumented migrants from Mexico for a host of problems, including drugs and crime. In the four years since, how has this rhetoric translated into a wider immigration policy?

Immigration has not been a central theme of the race between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, but the future of some of the president’s hard-line policies at the border will be determined by the final results.

Albany Law School professor and director of the Immigration Law Clinic, Sarah Rogerson joins us to discuss.

Book cover for "Why Didn't We Riot?"
Penguin/Random House / https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/

South Carolina–based journalist Issac Bailey joins us to reflect on a wide range of complex, divisive topics—from police brutality and Confederate symbols to respectability politics and white discomfort—which have taken on a fresh urgency with the protest movement sparked by George Floyd’s killing.

Bailey has been honing his views on these issues for the past quarter of a century in his professional and private life, which included an eighteen-year stint as a member of a mostly white Evangelical Christian church.

His new book, “Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland,” speaks to and for the millions of Black and Brown people throughout the United States who were effectively pushed back to the back of the bus in the Trump era by a media that prioritized the concerns and feelings of the white working class and an administration that made white supremacists giddy, and explains why the country’s fate in 2020 and beyond is largely in their hands.

Issac Bailey is an award-winning journalist and the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College.

American politics are obsessed with sex and religion has been wound up in these political struggles, and blamed for not a little of the resistance to meaningful change in America political life.

In "The Sex Obsession," Janet R. Jakobsen examines how gender and sexuality have reappeared time and again at the center of political life, marked by a series of widely recognized issues and movements.

9/10/20 Panel

Sep 10, 2020
Microphone in radio studio
WAMC / WAMC

 

    The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee, immigration attorney and associate with the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, Cianna Freeman-Tolbert, and Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at RPI and Director of the RPI-IBM Artificial Intelligence research collaboration Jim Hendler.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham joins us this morning to discuss his new book “His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope.”

It is an intimate and revealing portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the painful quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present.

Meacham calls Lewis “as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first-century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the Republic itself in the eighteenth century.”

Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But many of these so-called reforms actually widen the net, weaving in new strands of punishment and control, and bringing new populations, who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment, under physical control by the state.

As mainstream public opinion has begun to turn against mass incarceration, political figures on both sides of the spectrum are pushing for reform. But, though they’re promoted as steps to confront high rates of imprisonment, many of these measures are transforming our homes and communities into prisons instead.

In the book "Prison by Any Other Name," activist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change.

The new book, "Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions," is a handbook to help individuals and organizations recognize and prevent microaggressions so that all employees can feel a sense of belonging in their workplace.

Our workplaces and society are growing more diverse, but are we supporting inclusive cultures? While overt racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination are relatively easy to spot, we cannot neglect the subtler everyday actions that normalize exclusion. Many have heard the term microaggression, but not everyone fully understands what they are or how to recognize them and stop them from happening.

Dr. Michael Baran is a social scientist and senior partner and digital solutions lead at inQUEST Consulting.

We aired a portion of this interview today in memoriam. 

Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis died on Friday, July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old. 

One of the original 13 Freedom Riders and an eye-witness to many momentous and historic occasions in the last 50+ years of working in public service, Lewis was the son of sharecroppers; he survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama; and became a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman. In 2012, Joe Donahue spoke with him in about his book "Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change." 

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger leads community declaration that racism is a public health crisis
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Burlington, Vermont’s mayor was joined by leaders of the city’s Black community this morning to declare racism a public health crisis.

The new book, The Deportation Machine, traces the long and troubling history of the US government's systematic efforts to terrorize and expel immigrants over the past 140 years. Professor of History and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois and author Adam Goodman examines how federal, state, and local officials have targeted various groups for expulsion.

Keith Strudler: The Washington Football Team

Jul 8, 2020

The good news is, it seems nearly certain that the NFL football team the Washington Redskins will finally change its name. Maybe not today, but soon, likely before they start next this season. Of course, given the uncertain state of affairs, that doesn’t really narrow it down. But it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever have to watch a professional football game featuring a team using this particular offensive stereotype. Given the number of years activists and advocates have asked for this change, it should feel like something of a victory.

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