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Politics: The View from the Air

From Farai

Politics: The View from the Air

Listen to Farai's Full Interview With Al Sharpton
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Farai Chideya

In a couple of days, I'm going to do an event with some NPR colleagues about the election. The other people are reporters, who literally follow the candidates from city to city. I used to be on the campaign trail in previous jobs during past elections. But now I get "the view from the air"... that is, the airwaves.

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the shift in my role. I think there's nothing like really being there to let you get a sense of the candidates, the crowd, and the messaging. But in our media-saturated world, sometimes the view from the air is a view from the ground. Since an unprecedented amount of Election 2008 has played out on YouTube, through e-mail, and through social networking, we get to keep a constant monitor on it from our perch.

It's been pretty amazing to see the blogsophere (black and otherwise) unfurl its wings. Blogging was a buzzword in 2004. In 2008, it's big media.

Today on our roundtable we picked up on a conversation about the Latino vote we'd had earlier in the show. One of our bloggers, Sharon Toomer, has black American and Dominican branches of her family ... and she was able to help us unpack some of the issues that unite and divide black and Latino voters.

I have to say ... since we are "the black show" ... with a mostly-white audience ... it's going to be interesting to me to see how we craft our approach to the election. If I do say so myself, we're doing some incredible booking.

Tomorrow's show will feature Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, James Rucker of The Color of Change, and Charlie Steele of the SCLC talking about passing the torch on black leadership. That's a dream show.

What I want next (and everyone else) is another chat with Obama and a first go-round with McCain ...



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Question, if i may. I find one of the best video blogs on the Internet...Very creative, speaks to young folks, old heads can groove too...and you have Smooth on your program occasionally.
Why do you not list the site in your blog link side bar?

Sent by audiodramatist | 9:22 PM | 6-9-2008

Will the torch of Black leadership ever be passed to a woman? I hear these leaders' names (Sharpton, King, etc.) and think of the forgotten names...Ella Baker, Joann Robinson, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, etc.

It's a continuing struggle to think about how to frame this discussion and I do appreciate News and Notes for getting the ball rolling, but it's important not to perpetuate the omission of the female voice from topics concerning black leadership and the future.

Sent by Sylvea Hollis | 9:41 PM | 6-9-2008

Ms Chideya:

During your conversation with Charles Steele of the SCLC he stated that last year's Supreme Court ruling OVERTURNED the "Brown v Board" legislation. You didn't question Mr. Steele about this statement. I accepted this from you in the context that you were not drilling either of the two guests on specifics of what they actually said.

Thus now I must ask you - Is it your personal opinion that the ruling last year by the Supreme Court which ruled that RACE cannot be used as the PRIMARY consideration for racial balancing even when the program is voluntary?

I find it hard to believe that Mr. Steele could confuse the situation from pre-1956 where regardless of the residency qualifications that Black people had - they STILL could not attend the "white" school that may have been closer to their house but instead had to attend the "Black school". I challenge Mr. Steele to find one example of this.

He and others confuse defacto segregation of today which is based on residency patterns with the de jure segregation of the past.

I can only assume that he and others are tacitly admitting the basic inferiority not just of "Black schools" but of a congregation of Black people ourselves. I for one reject this.

From my personal experience attending schools of all types as an adult in the role of a parent and a person executing a service project - school culture and the inability to draw a line regarding what is appropriate and enforcing these standards of dignity among the student body remains a challenge in many urban schools.

Where as Mr. Steele is interested in linking up with "Hip Hop" artists in an effort toward inclusion he might be inclined to pull them to the side and let them know that it is important for them to operate in a more conscious manner.

Quite possibly if our schools were known as world class academic environments there would be a block of diverse students seeking to attend - primarily by moving into a qualifying residence to attend these schools.

I found Mr. Steele's comments that placed nearly all of our current distress on continued, amorphous racism. Even in large cities where there are sections where a Black student can go through the day and see few non-Black people - in the view of Mr. Steele that effervescent RACISM still around even though few White folks are.

It might be time for new leadership indeed.

Sent by Constructive Feedback | 11:15 PM | 6-10-2008