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'Mothers Without Children' Respond With Thanks

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'Mothers Without Children' Respond With Thanks

'Mothers Without Children' Respond With Thanks

'Mothers Without Children' Respond With Thanks

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Guest host Allison Keyes talks with Tell Me More's Jessica Deahl to review listener feedback from the past week. Host Michel Martin's commentary on "Mothers Without Children" struck a chord with many, as did one of our guest's views on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's career.

ALLISON KEYES, 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 regular Backtalk dude, is tied up on another project this week, so we have Jessica Deahl with us. She's been talking with some of you, and she's here to share a few of your comments.

JESSICA DEAHL: Hi, Allison.

KEYES: Hey, Jessica.

DEAHL: So Sunday was Mother's Day, and that inspired host Michel Martin to recognize the women she calls mothers without children. Here's how she explains it.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

By that, I mean all the women who were not able to have children or chose not to or just didn't, but who step in and step up, even though they don't usually get the flowers, the cards or the brunch.

DEAHL: Well, this commentary touched a lot of our listeners. So-called mothers without children wrote in in droves to thank Michel and share their own stories. One was Gwen, who has never had children of her own, but in a way, she has mothered many children over the years as a Montessori teacher. She wrote, quote, "Mother's Day has always felt awkward. But now when someone wishes me happy Mother's Day, I smile, remember all the children that accidentally called me mama and say thank you, instead of making them feel awkward by replying that I have no children."

(Soundbite of laughter)

KEYES: I have no kids, either, but I would take it. Gwen, thanks so much and happy belated Mother's Day to you.

DEAHL: And, of course, the big news item this week was President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens once he retires from the Supreme Court.

We did several segments exploring Kagan's career, but our recent discussion about her hiring practices while being at Harvard Law School drew the most response. We talked to Duke University law Professor Guy Charles, who pointed out of the 32 law professors hired by Kagan, only one was a person of color and only seven were women.

KEYES: And, Jessica, listener David took issue with Professor Charles. He says, quote, "Unless there's some indication she was exercising preference for white men over more qualified or well suited minorities or women, I don't see the problem. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out." Thanks for your thoughts, David.

DEAHL: This week, we also talked about playwright and filmmaker Tyler Perry and some of the criticism he's received for his famous character Madea. We talked to writer Hilton Als. He told us he's not amused by Perry's films and the character Madea, which is played by Tyler Perry in drag.

Mr. HILTON ALS (Writer): She really is part of this tradition that has always been a sort of entertainment staple: Loudmouth, presumably strong, but slightly ditzy black woman whose comedy is really based on the fact that she doesn't really know what she's doing half the time.

DEAHL: While several of our listeners agree with Mr. Als, others think Tyler Perry does deserve some credit. Here's what we heard from our listener, Ron.

RON: I mostly agree with Hilton Als. The Madea character is a tired throwback, even to those of us who still have the ability to laugh at ourselves. But I guess, bottom line, is that the film business is a business. If hip, brainy art films will get butts into cinema seats, then more films like this would be made.

KEYES: Well, Tyler Perry was the executive producer of the Oscar-winning movie "Precious," about an overweight, illiterate teenager from Harlem. So that is a big shift away from the comedy in the Madea movies. Thank you, Jessica, for joining us.

DEAHL: Thank you, Allison.

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

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