Listeners Don't Hold Back On Breastfeeding Prof

Host Michel Martin and editor Ammad Omar crack open the mailbox for listener reaction. This week, they catch up with guest Christine Ha, the legally blind champion of the TV show MasterChef. They sift through a pile of tweets, emails, and Facebook messages about a breastfeeding professor.

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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. Editor Ammad Omar is with us. What do you have for us today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: All right. We're going to start with one of our recent guests. We spoke with Christine Ha. She was a contestant on the reality TV show "MasterChef." She's legally blind, but that didn't stop her from knowing her way around the kitchen or, as it turns out, winning the "MasterChef" season.

But, since the TV show was prerecorded, she knew what was going to happen, but she wouldn't tell us during that original interview. But we caught up with her again yesterday. Here she is.

CHRISTINE HA: Even my father didn't know. My family didn't know. Basically, only the family and friends that were at the actual finale knew the outcome, but you know, it's still sort of a relief just to finally have that secret off my chest, I guess.

OMAR: So Christine Ha gets to put together a cookbook since she won the competition. That was one of her prizes. She says she'll probably put her famous pork belly recipe in there, as well as some other favorites, and they sound delicious.

HA: There will be a lot of comfort food, I would say. Not necessarily Asian comfort food, but Southern comfort food or any other regional cuisine, those sorts of things because I think comfort food is my favorite thing to eat and cook at home, so there will definitely be a lot of that in there.

OMAR: And Christine says she's hoping to start up a restaurant, as well, so she's been pretty busy.

MARTIN: I think we better visit that restaurant. It would only be the responsible thing to do, for research.

OMAR: Yeah. Sound journalism. Absolutely.

MARTIN: That's right. Well, what else do you have for us? And you know what? Christine, congratulations. You go, girl. Ammad, what else?

OMAR: All right. Speaking of champions on our program, we've spoken a few times to the Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano. He was the first American man to win a track and field medal in the 1,500 meter since 1968, but he was born in Mexico and you asked him about running a victory lap in London with the U.S. and Mexican flags because a lot of people criticized him for that.

But our mailbox was full of supporters, like Margaret Duffy from Lackawanna, New York. She says millions of people wear green and wave Irish flags on St. Patrick's Day to honor a culture they haven't been a part of for generations and she says people wear Polish clothes on Dyngus Day.

MARTIN: And she goes on to say, quote, "shame on anyone who would discredit the work and determination it takes to become an Olympian and double shame on anyone who would ask an Olympian to deny the thing that made him who he is. I am an Irish-Welsh-Spanish-Croatian-Ukrainian-Austrian-Belarussian-American and I am honored to have Mr. Manzano represent the USA on any field," unquote. Margaret Duffy, tell us how you really feel.

Anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. You can check out our Facebook page, as well. We did a little video of a race I had against Leo. It matches his world class track skills with my world class sitting in front of the computer skills, so check that out.

And, speaking of Facebook, we got a lot of messages there about our conversation on breastfeeding.

MARTIN: Yes. There was this controversy when a professor at American University, Adrienne Pine, brought her sick baby to class, then breastfed the baby during her lecture.

OMAR: Nancy Kirkwin(ph) from Franklin, Indiana wrote in. Here's what she had to say.

NANCY KIRKWIN: Really, my sympathy is for the child who was hurried out of the house while ill. I'm a great believer in breastfeeding, but baby's comfort comes first and, Mom, you should have slowed down and let her sleep at home.

OMAR: And the professor had plenty of people defending her, too, especially from the argument that she should have just stayed home for the day. V.J. Prichad(ph) tweets, some opinions on the show reveal how little people know about teaching, as if there are choices. Skip class.

MARTIN: Now, this all became a public issue when a reporter for the American University's student newspaper, The Eagle, asked Professor Pine about it for a story. In our moms conversation, we said the paper had not published a story, but there were stories on the paper's website about the debate.

OMAR: And that debate's still going on on our website, so you can join the conversation.

MARTIN: That's right because, at TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. And to tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave us your name. We're also on Twitter. Just look for TellMeMoreNPR. Thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you.

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