Listeners React To The Impact Of Absentee Fathers

Host Michel Martin and Tell Me More editor Ammad Omar open up the inbox for listener comments. They discuss reactions to a story on the auto industry offering subprime loans to car buyers, and they hear feedback to an emotional conversation about the impact that absent fathers have on black girls.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for Backtalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and hear from you. Editor Ammad Omar is here once again.

Ammad, what do you have for us today?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. We're going to start with a news update on a subject we've been covering a lot here on TELL ME MORE, and that's voter registration. A federal judge in Florida has blocked part of a voter registration law there. Voting rights groups challenged it because they could have faced fines if they didn't turn in new applications within 48 hours of collecting them.

Well, a judge in the case wrote: If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed. He also called the rule harsh and burdensome, but he did uphold other provisions of that law.

MARTIN: And we'll be sure to keep an eye on that. Is there anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. Earlier this week, our own Sonari Glinton told us that a lot of auto makers are offering subprime loans to car buyers again. They had pretty much stopped doing that during the recession and, of course, subprime lending kind of became synonymous with the bad practices that got the economy off track.

Well, Gary Doss(ph) writes in on our website, quote, "Now, that is just a wonderful thing. Nothing like the hair of the dog that bit you. I'm sure this will work just as well as the last time."

MARTIN: A little sarcasm there, Gary. OK. But thanks for writing. What else, Ammad?

OMAR: Well, we got a lot of comments about an emotional story we did on black girls whose fathers aren't part of their lives. You spoke to Jasmine Bowden, who is the subject of a film about that issue. Here's a clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTIN: It's hard.

JASMINE BOWDEN: I guess. Yeah. It's a little hard.

MARTIN: There are tears here. I'm not going to lie to people. There are tears here. It's still hard, isn't it, to talk about. So...

BOWDEN: Yeah. 'Cause he's still not around, like...

MARTIN: Did you ever know him?

BOWDEN: My mother said he was around when I was real little, but I don't remember it.

OMAR: Well, those tears weren't just in the studio, Michel. Howard Sharper(ph) writes in from Saginaw, Michigan, quote, "I worked as a program manager for a local public radio station in mid-Michigan. As such, I'm rarely moved by discussions of any type, but this one hit home. Listening in my office, I found myself weeping right along with what I would suspect thousands of other listeners. I really wanted to reach out to the young lady being interviewed and let her know that not all dads abandon their children." He goes on to write: I just wish more fathers would make sacrifices in their personal lives and take the time to become great dads. It's an amazing and very gratifying experience.

And you can join in on the conversation on our website, npr.org/TellMeMore.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for that, Howard. Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: Well, a last bit of mail here, Michel. We did a story on Memorial Day about diversity in the Navy SEALs, and we got this email from Rear Admiral Peter Neffenger of the Coast Guard.

REAR ADMIRAL PETER NEFFENGER: Dear Michel, let me start by thanking you for recognizing the sacrifices of servicemembers on your show for Memorial Day. You had two servicemembers on as part of this, but as an active duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard, I wish you would have also acknowledged our service, the Fifth Armed Service of the United States. We've served in every conflict this country has fought, and we serve honorably today in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arabian Gulf and around the world, in addition to ensuring the safety, security and stewardship of our nation's waters every day for the past 222 years. Just wanted to ensure my colleagues were not inadvertently overlooked. Thanks for listening, and Semper Paratus.

MARTIN: Well, how about this? We'll claim it's Memorial Day week, so we'll take this opportunity to thank all of the men and women in our armed services in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Coast Guard.

So thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522, or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for @TellMeMoreNPR. Thanks again.

OMAR: Thank you.

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