Listeners Sound Off On Tea Party Movement

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Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. This week, hear reaction to a recent commentary questioning the motivations of the Tea Party Movement, and one listener's experience growing up biracial. Also, hear one blogger's thoughtful farewell to civil rights leader Dorothy Height, who died Tuesday at age 98.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

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 us, as usual. Hi, Lee.

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, another popular commentary from you this week. You talked about the recent New York Times CBS News survey. It described the 18 percent of Americans who consider themselves members or supporters of the Tea Party Movement. And you shared your thoughts about what may be driving that group. And here's a clip from that.

(Soundbite of archived audio)

MARTIN: My suspicion is that many Tea Partiers do see what's not working in this country, but rather than visualize what could be, are infuriated that others are not more grateful for what just is, even if what is is not just or fair or even functional for many people.

HILL: And as I mentioned, your commentary was a hit, over a hundred comments. And I caught up with Casey(ph), who posted this response.

CASEY: Tea Partiers see exactly what's not working in this country. Their representatives, aka, political elites, have sold them out in favor of a radical agenda that the people despise. It's uniquely American to scream about taxation without representation. And that's all this movement is about. This is a peaceful protest movement. They're not breaking any laws. That's more than the left has ever seen fit to do.

HILL: Okay, Casey, thanks, but not everyone agrees. We were also able to track down Matt, who had this to say about the Tea Party.

MATT: It's not fear. It's not racism. It's old-fashioned ignorance. Seriously, if they actually understood what the Boston Tea Party was all about, they would've conjured up some other moniker. I suggest: We hate paying taxes whatsoever.

MARTIN: Thanks, Matt. Lee, in this week's parenting conversation, we talked about the new book, "Mixed." The book of photographs shows multiracial children celebrating their heritage. After that conversation aired, listeners logged onto our Web site to tell us more about their experiences living in multiracial families.

We caught up with Kristen, who says her mother is from Taiwan and her father is a white American. And she had this to say.

KRISTEN: It can be a wonderful thing to grow up mixed race. But any question of identity is difficult, so it can sometimes be a hard thing, too. Growing up, I experienced a lot of feelings of not fitting in, or of not being Chinese enough or American enough. I turned out fine, but that doesn't mean that I don't still struggle with being mixed race sometimes. Hopefully by bringing these issues to light, we can help future generations deal with their identities with greater ease, grace and confidence.

MARTIN: Thanks, Kristen.

HILL: Michel, we reported on the passing of Dorothy Height. The 98-year-old civil rights leader died Tuesday. She served 40 years as the head of the National Council for Negro Women. And on the day of her passing, you, along with TELL ME MORE producers Teshima Walker and Jennifer Longmire-Wright, posted a thoughtful essay to our blog. And it's still there, so folks can still check it out.

Well, that entry prompted this reflection from someone who blogs under the name Dr. Tramp, who writes, quote, "One thing that greatly impressed me - which I'll always remember about the leaders of the civil rights organizations of the '50s and '60s - was the quiet and sometimes not-so-quiet dignity that they portrayed and expressed in everything they did." Goodbye, dear lady, he says. You're already missed.

MARTIN: He is right. She is already missed. Anything else, Lee?

HILL: Just one housekeeping note, Michel. Last week, we failed to mention that one of the guys on the Barbershop, David Hoffman - he's the contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine and The Washington Post - he is a 2010 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and so belated cheers to you, David.

MARTIN: Cheers to you, David. Thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our Web site. Just go to npr.org, click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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