BackTalk: 'Tell Me More' Blog Conversations

The programs listeners, and bloggers, offer feedback on recent conversations on activist Elvira Arellano's deportation, the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and, on a lighter note, a special announcement about the program.

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Michel Martin, host:

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

Joining me, as usual, is our Web producer Lee Hill. Lee, what you got?

LEE HILL: A few items, Michel. Our conversation about the deportation of activist Elvira Arellano struck a few chords on the blog. Well, just to offer a recap, Ms. Arellano was in the U.S. illegally and sought sanctuary in a Chicago church to avoid returning to her native Mexico.

Now, her son, who is 8 years old, was born in the U.S. While some are calling her a civil rights hero, others argue that her son's citizenship in the U.S. does not excuse a violation of the law. Our two guests that day were split on the issue, and then there were other opinions.

Edward, a carpenter by trade, for instance, believes that the debate still all boils down to protecting American jobs.

EDWARD (Caller): Men and women like myself, millions of us across the nation, are very, very aware that Elvira and people like her are workers. There are millions and millions of American citizens across this nation who are struggling to survive at or below the poverty level. Our jobs are being taken from us whether they want to admit it or not. So I'm enjoying this. This is a wonderful little debate.

MARTIN: Okay. Thanks, Edward.

Well Laura's blog comments offered a different perspective. She writes, the United States is part of a global economy. Her son was born on American soil and by definition is an American citizen. He will likely grow up with access to more resources if he stays here. What kind of a mother would not want her child to go to better schools? I'm embarrassed that people do not see us as having a responsibility to the global community.

Thanks, Laura, for that perspective.

HILL: And moving on. As you know, this week marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation on the Gulf Coast. Revisiting stories of generosity shown to those displaced by the storm as well as what summer calling compassion fatigue, we asked you on our blog how you might respond to a loved one's instant need for shelter.

MARTIN: One of our regular contributors also figured it would be a no-brainer. Of course she would open her doors to loved ones in need, but she found out how quickly she second-guessed herself when a family member recently came knocking with his wife and children.

LOJI(ph) (Caller): I love my family, but my first response was not a resounding yes. So I gave a standing ovation to folks who have made difficult decisions in this crisis. I can't forget the resilient people of New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf who exemplify every day a hope that trumps experience.

HILL: A hope that trumps experience. Well said, Loji.

And last but certainly not least, Michel. Your appearance on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," according to the majority of our bloggers at least, was, shall we say, smoking.

MARTIN: What can I say?

HILL: We were cheesing big-time when we got a note from someone who says he is now a believer in what we're doing here at NPR.

Here's Tom in San Francisco.

TOM (Caller): First, I have to say that I have not listened to the show. I'm writing to say how impressed I was after seeing Michel Martin on "Real Time with Bill Maher". To my delight, Michel was an even keeled voice of reason. Since I listen to many talk radio shows on Sirius, I must say that NPR has gained a new listener thanks to Michel.

MARTIN: An even keeled voice of reason. I think that might be a shock to my husband.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: But thank you, Tom. And thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Also, more kudos for our team. We will soon be heard daily in two new cities: Detroit on WDET and right here in Washington, D.C., on WAMU. We're on a roll.

Remember, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That's our program for today.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: I'm Michel Martin. You've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Let's talk more on Monday.

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