From Our Listeners

BackTalk: 'Tell Me More' Blog Conversations

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Hear listener feedback to the program on recent discussions about the modern-day civil rights movement and the debate on breast-feeding vs. baby formula. Also, hear a listener explain his conversion to Islam.


And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations happening on the TELL ME MORE blog, and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners.

We're doing things a little differently today. I'm here in Las Vegas and Lee is holding down the fort in our Washington studios. That would be our Web producer Lee Hill. What's up, Lee?

LEE HILL: The heat is what's up, Michel. But I'm sure the temperature here in Washington doesn't even compare to that hot Vegas sun.

MARTIN: You got that right.

HILL: And speaking of heat, there's been some criticism about the Reverend Al Sharpton's plans to set up shop in Chicago. And the guys from last week's Barbershop decided to pile on.

(Soundbite of previous NPR broadcast)

Mr. JIMI IZRAEL (Columnist, AOL Black Voices): Oh, yo, yo. Oh, snap. Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Al Sharpton headed to Chicago to help fight the cause of police misconduct.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: Now wait a second…

Professor ED DORN (Dean, Lyndon Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas): Landing in the city of the broad shoulders.

HILL: Well, one of our listeners, Carlton(ph) from New Jersey, wasn't laughing.

CARLTON (Caller): I think their work goes far beyond running to the next civil right's event, as one of the Barbershop guys stated. Also, as long as we receive the type of blatant unequal treatment from the police, et cetera, Sharpton and Jackson will be needed. It would have been good if the Barbershop guys had suggested who or what should act in the place of Sharpton and Jackson.

MARTIN: Point taken, Carlton. Thanks for writing. Earlier this week, we had a conversation with another one of our regular groups, the Mocha Moms, about recent efforts by hospitals in New York City to promote breastfeeding. Well, Shakivia(ph) in Atlanta thought the moms were too hard on other mothers who don't breastfeed, and she offers up her own experience.

SHAKIVIA (Caller): I continue to try due to pressure by the hospital and was finally able to pump. She then developed red rashes around her neck and arm. After drawing six vials of blood, it was determined that she was allergic to milk, eggs and nuts, all of which, the allergy specialist was happy to tell me, was passed through my breast milk to her. She then had to be put on special formula of soy to prevent these rashes. I explain all of this to say that perhaps if I wasn't made to feel like I would detrimentally deprive my child when she was born if I didn't breastfeed, perhaps I would have gone to soy formula immediately, which was my first choice.

MARTIN: Thanks, Shakivia. Lee, are we opening your eyes to some issues here?

HILL: Yes, yes, my eyes are definitely opening to issues that I would not have otherwise known about.

MARTIN: What else do you have for us?

HILL: Well, moving right along, the next day we did a story on radical conversion in prison. How men and women behind bars come to embrace radical belief systems. Well, later we asked you, our listeners, to tell us your stories of converting to ideologies that some might call extreme. Samir(ph) in South Carolina wanted us to know his story.

SAMIR (Caller): I myself being an American, a white male, was converted to Islam. I saw myself as a young male growing up in a very poor environment, you know, welfare and such. And I found street gangs had been very appealing when I was growing up because of that sense of strength that I didn't have economically. But as far as growing up now and sharing the views of Islam, I find it to be a very peaceful religion.

MARTIN: Very interesting, Samir. Thank you so much for getting in touch. And that's all the time we have for today. Good stuff, Lee.

HILL: Hey, Michel, people are talking. And before I go, I wanted to tell you before you left to try and stay away from the casinos and the whole gambling thing down there in Vegas.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: You know they are under no threat for me. Now, if you said the shoe stores, that might be a whole other issue, okay?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I'll do my best. And to our audience, please do your best to keep telling us more about what you think. You can go to our Web site and blog it out.

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