Octuplets' Single Mom Draws Audience Criticism

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Tell Me More bloggers are the latest group to sound off on Nadya Suleman, a single mother from California who recently gave birth to octuplets. Also, hear spirited reaction to the program's focus on a post-racial America in the age of President Barack Obama, and the relevance of the NAACP after 100 years of service.


And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me as usual. Hey, Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Nadya Suleman, she's probably the most talked-about mother in American right now. The California mom recently gave birth to octuplets after seeking out a fertility specialist. Now, Michel, she's become the focus of a lot of scrutiny; a single parent, she already has six other children. And this week, she acknowledged that she receives food stamps to support those other children, raising big questions about whether taxpayers should have to foot the bill for a woman to keep having children without any visible means of support. Now, lots of feedback to the segment, which comes to no surprise. I caught up with Bill, who posted to our online forum. He says Suleman and her doctor are to blame.

BILL (Listener): The doctor who made this possible is somewhat complicit in this, and I wouldn't mind seeing some kind of penalty for doctors who pursue this kind of action. Let them take over the tax burden of it. I think that would be a lesson to them to facilitate this type of thing when the patient is not really in a position to take care of themselves.

MARTIN: Thanks, Bill, for getting in touch. Late this week, we also touched upon a topic that we know many listeners have been thinking about in the age of Barack Obama, which is, is this a post-racial age? And how is conversation about race changing now, and should it change? Now, we posed these questions to listeners this week after a conversation we had about the subject. By far, it was one of the most commented-on segments on the NPR Web site this week. Where to begin? A very broad range of opinion on this one. Here's a note from John posted online. He said, no, we are not living in a post-racial U.S.A., and we never will be, sad as that may be. Growing up white in the U.S.A., as I did, certainly conferred some advantages, but the value may be significantly overrated. I'm white, give me the job, let me in your school, doesn't work. Despite this, I'm reviled as being part of white America, some imaginary monolith of white racism.

HILL: Well, then, we also heard from Troy and he says, tearing down divisions of race and class is really the key to a healthier race relations society, and it starts with how we identify ourselves.

TROY (Listener): We stop calling ourselves African-American. I'm African-American, but it diminishes us, makes some kind of subclass of Americans. In my opinion, I mean, I'm not chained to my African roots, but I have many parts of my heritage. And the big thing is we don't call the average white person a European-American. As a matter of fact, they would be offended because that's a subclass, less American. So, I mean, instead of us calling ourselves African-Americans and having this us-against-them concept, we should just call ourselves Americans - or maybe brown Americans or black Americans or gold Americans, or whatever you want to say.

MARTIN: Thank you, Troy. And also on the subject of race, yesterday we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the NAACP with a conversation about the future of the historic organization and civil rights in general. Here's a post from Ezra. He writes that, I think that groups that seek to lift themselves up like the NAACP are positive, but the idea of lifting up only one race or religion ultimately may divide people who share similar plights or issues. And Lee, I think we also have a few updates.

HILL: Yes, we do, Michel. We've updated listeners before about the developments in the sad case of Aretha Maria Fernandez. Now, her family reported her missing last year. In January, her remains were found. And we just wanted to update folks that just this week, her former boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder. And of course, our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Fernandez family. Also, Michel, awhile back, we interviewed Leonardo Blair. He's a black reporter who sued New York City's Police Department last year after he was stopped, frisked and arrested. He sued the city and recently settled for some $15,000 in court costs.

MARTIN: Well, thanks, Lee, for that.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember, with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number, again, is 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our Web site, where you'll find even more feedback to our segments. Go to npr.org; click on Tell Me More and blog it out.

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