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A Nomadic TMM

An unlit studio light is posted outside TMM's Studio 4B at NPR. Lee Hill, NPR hide caption

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Lee Hill, NPR

Now it can be told. We're out of our studio again.

I came back from a long stint on the road to find that our studio 4B console is somehow not working again. So we're nomads, again, wandering from studio to studio in the building. We don't know how long it will take to fix, but if you've noticed a slightly different "sound" to the program, the people are all the same, but the mics are different. We'll deal.

So, no big issues on the table today — just sex, race and money. Not necessarily in that order.

Money first.

The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout. Our Money Coach Alvin Hall is answering your questions. If you have questions about how the Fannie-Freddie bailout might affect you, he is happy to answer them. Submit them here on our blog, or call our comment line on (202) 342-3522.

On to Sex.

Sarah Palin and the whole Mommy wars thing seemed logical to discuss with the Mocha Moms, especially since one of the Mochas wrote a book about the issue. There are three issues on the table, really. One, of course, is the issue of Sarah Palin's qualifications. The second is the issue of her family responsibilities and how she balances those with work, and third is the question of her 17-year-old pregnant daughter, Bristol.

Let me say there was a real range of views on this and the diversity of views is helpful and interesting. And, to some, it will be (I can predict) infuriating.

And Race.

Spelman College President Beverly Tatum is arguing that schools are not diverse enough to teach kids what they need to know about other races, so schools have to get busy with it. A logical question might be ... how? With everything else they have to do, how are they supposed to be doing that also.

Tatum's take: you are either thinking globally, or you're looking for work.

What do you think? What should teachers teach about race? And how?

And, here's a note from a listener, Cheryl, in Atlanta. She talks about how news of Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy sparked conversations in her household:

My 8-year-old daughter did not know that you can have a baby without first being married. Thanks to the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party, she does now. One night she listened from the kitchen as my husband watched the news. Suddenly, she piped up: "Daddy, I didn't know you can have a baby if you're not married."

Gulp.

Change the channel. It is just not in her world to see pregnant teens. We have assiduously paid attention to the Internet sites she and her brother can access. We have avoided video and computer games containing too much violence. Our children know next to nothing of rap music, hip-hop videos, or the celebrity culture (they missed Britney Spears' teen sister's pregnancy). I did not expect to find myself dodging newscasts in the same way I change the channel from shows that are too violent or too sexual. Yet that is exactly what occurred.

As all parents know, any moment can be a teaching moment. However, I did not expect that my ability to decide when and how to teach my child the realities and risks of premarital and teen sex would be impacted by the first woman to be named to a national ticket for the chief executive office of the United States. Regardless of all of the charged discussion around sexism and the mommy wars, the reality is that some of us now have some early explaining to do; Bristol Palin is not the only little girl growing up faster than her parents expected.

It is still true that this year we are teaching our children to engage in the electoral process and think about who should win and why. First the excitement of the campaign waged by Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton energized our discussions on issues. Then, I pointed out to them that Sen. McCain selected a woman as his running mate. My children reacted to the news pretty much the same way as my daughter did when, during the Olympics, I proudly pointed out that a woman was competing in Tae Kwon Do: "Duh, Mom."

Translation?

"Of course a woman can do the job. Get over it."

The non-reaction to Palin's gender from my children focused me again on the issues that divide Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin. Whether a black or a woman is on the ticket, who do I, someone who is both black and a woman, agree with on the issues?

Like I said every moment is a teaching moment.

Thanks, Cheryl.

More tomorrow ...

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