Listeners Blog on Military Education, Homosexuality

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In this week's Backtalk, hear feedback to recent stories on a partnership between the U.S. military and Chicago Public Schools, and on what happens at the crossroads of spirituality and sexuality as told through a documentary of personal experience.


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. Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me here in the studio.

Hi, Lee. Welcome back.

LEE HILL: Hey Michel. Well, it is good to be back, and thanks to my guy, Douglas(ph), for holding it down while I was out. I want to talk more about the conversations we've been having about the Chicago public schools.

Now, parents, educators, experts, they've all been weighing in on the city's radical restructuring of the public school system there. Now, what's all the buzz? Part of the plan includes a school run mainly by the Marines and another slate in 2009 to be run by the Air Force. Well, our guests this week weren't the only ones to have an opinion about this. One of our listeners, Robin(ph), who lives in Fair Haven, Michigan, wishes students in her community have the same choices as students in Chicago.

ROBIN (Caller): My 17-year-old daughter has just signed up for the delayed entry program with the Marines. She leaves for boot camp in July. And I can't recall a case where discipline or respect ever hurt anyone. I wish schools like these were available in our area.

MARTIN: Thanks, Robin.

Going back a little bit. We want to revisit a conversation we had last week on the documentary "For The Bible Tells Me So." It's highlighted the struggles sometimes faced by people of faith, in this case, parents of faith, when they learn that they have a gay or lesbian child. Here's how one of our guests, Brenda Poteat, a minister, explained coming to grips with her daughter's sexuality.

(Soundbite of archived NPR recording)

Ms. BRENDA POTEAT (Minister): She was still the same person that she was before she came out to me. And her sexual life was a private life, and that's how I dealt with it.

MARTIN: We heard from Raul(ph) on this topic. He said, I'm not a churchgoer for several reasons, but I have to say, before you reject anyone, you really must reach into yourself for your own self-centered motives of shame, control, and failure as a parent. One of the redeeming things about Christianity that I admire is the call to love and the call for tolerance.

HILL: Well, moving right along, you might remember hearing a commentary by one of our own TELL ME MORE supervising senior producer Teshima Walker.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: She wrote about going to see Tyler Perry's newest film, "Why Did I Get Married?" Well, Teshima had an issue with what she called the stereotyping of full-figured women. Now, here's a clip of Teshima airing her frustration.

(Soundbite of archived NPR recording)

WALKER: And if I had a dollar for every time I saw a character in a movie where a fat black woman was an emotional victim, the center of a hurtful fat joke, the prayerful matron of all thin women and children, I'd buy my own damn studio and write movies about real everyday fat women. I'd write about fat women that love food and lick their fingers after eating a piece of chicken.

MARTIN: Well, hello. We did get quite a few responses about Teshima's commentary. Not every note we received was complimentary, but most of them were, like this note from Tachia(ph). Listen to this.

TACHIA (Caller): I thought Teshima's commentary was wonderful. As a plus-size black woman who is a pageant queen and currently pursuing a Ph.D., I am sick and tired of big girls being portrayed as either hypersexualized fools or as praying modest victims. I am still waiting to see my story and the stories of many of us big girls onscreen, playing the confident ingenue and the self-satisfied female lead.

HILL: Well, I have nothing but love for both Tachia and Teshima, so, you know, I'm not saying anything.

MARTIN: Because you're a man with good sense.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Thanks to all of you out there, and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember to tell us more about what you think about this or any other of our stories. Please go to, and blog it out.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That's our program for today. 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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