Recent Stories of Abuse, Immigration Stir Bloggers

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The alleged incident between R&B stars Chris Brown and Rihanna and a recent Tell Me More blog post on domestic violence prompted a listener to share her story of abuse intervention. Also, the immigration troubles of Georgetown University student Juan Gomez sparked a spirited online debate about U.S. immigration policy.


And now, it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, Tell Me More's digital-media guy, is here. And Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Korva. Well, first of all, welcome to BackTalk.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

HILL: It's good to be here with you.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

HILL: Well, this week our mom segment focused on how to talk to teens about abusive relationships. Now, the conversation was sparked in part by allegations that R&B superstar Chris Brown battered his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. Now, Korva, that news shocked their fans and it brought back painful memories for our panel of moms. They each had their own experiences with domestic violence. And this week, I witnessed an encounter that made me think more about the issue - and I wrote about it on our blog - and how intervention sometimes can be complicated in domestic-violence situations. Well, after reading the post, blogger Patty had this to say.

PATTY (Listener): About a month ago, I was driving to pick my son up from school and drove past a couple fighting in their front yard. I stopped, turned the car around, drove back and honked at them. They seemed shocked that I would do so and immediately stopped fighting. For those of us who are afraid to say something because we don't know what to say, I think it's worthwhile to prepare ourselves in advance. But even though I was in my car, I was nervous.

HILL: Thanks, Patty. And Korva, I should mention that we're not done talking about this issue. There are lots of layers to domestic violence, so we're thinking about ways to extend the dialogue on this.

COLEMAN: OK. Well, switching gears, listeners reacted strongly to our recent conversation with Juan Gomez. He attends Georgetown University here in the U.S., but was born in Colombia. His parents came to this country legally and brought Juan and his brother along when they were small children. Then, they overstayed their visa, making them illegal residents. His parents have since been deported, but Juan and his brother are still here, and he talked about why they want to stay.

(Soundbite of NPR's Tell Me More, February 23, 2009)

Mr. JUAN GOMEZ (Student, Georgetown University): We've grown up in the United States. Why am I going to go back and just give up after this country has invested so much to educate me? You know, I see it as better my education in order to better this country.

COLEMAN: Well, that stirred quite a debate on the Web site about U.S. immigration policy, and here's what listener Greg wrote: This is a sad story, but how do you draw the line? His parents knew the rules and they broke them, and it's just sad that their kids are the ones who will have to pay the price.

HILL: Thanks, Greg. Well, moving on, we spoke to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday about how President Obama and some members of Congress are looking at ways to repair strained relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. And I caught up with blogger Shama, who posted to our online forum, and she's glad about the efforts.

SHAMA (Listener): Muslims in the United States have been good neighbors, great friends, caring and contributing citizens. Somehow, we have all been labeled as fundamentalists or terrorists. And hopefully, this will help cast off the wounds of hatred and misunderstandings.

COLEMAN: Thank you, Shama. Lee, do we have any updates for this week's stories?

HILL: Yes, we do. There're two things that we should flag. Well, first on Wednesday, we discussed how the Obama administration was taking a second look at a ban that kept the media from filming or photographing flag-draped coffins of fallen American service members. Well, news came yesterday that the Pentagon will allow some media to capture those images, as long as they have consent from the family of the deceased. Also, a follow-up to our coverage yesterday of South Africa's brain drain, professionals and students who were leaving the country to escape high crime rates and joblessness. Several South Africans who have immigrated to the U.S. spoke with us about their decisions. Well, after the program, we heard from a South African man who says he's not going anywhere, and you can read his comments on our blog.

COLEMAN: Well, thank you, Lee.

HILL: And thank you, Korva.

COLEMAN: Remember, with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends, and to tell us more about what you think, call our comment line at 202-842-3522, again, 202-842-3522. Remember, leave your name. You can also log on to our webpage; go to, click on Tell Me More and blog it out.

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