Responding to Your Letters

Farai Chideya and editor Christopher Johnson read listener letters. This week, they read e-mails about black blogging, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and an award-winning journalist's book about living with vitiligo.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

It's Thursday and time to read from your letters. Our editor and producer Christopher Johnson is here to help me sort through the mailbag.

Hey, Christopher.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Hey, Farai. How are you?

CHIDEYA: I am great. What do you got?

JOHNSON: Well, on Monday's Bloggers' Roundtable, you all talked about a black British blogger who recently complained that black American bloggers talk about race a little too much.

Here's how blogger Nishika Washington(ph) responded to that one.

(Soundbite of archived NPR recording)

NESHIKA WASHINGTON (Blogger): Everything is filtered through race and it's going to continue to be until we actually have an honest dialogue. I don't know how that can happen. Some people say it would start with the reparations, a discussion about reparations. I don't know. But until that day, everything is going be filtered through race.

JOHNSON: Antiar Atizia(ph) in Shannon(ph), North Carolina, wrote in with this question about Nechika's idea for a dialogue: What kind of talk, a talk to tell about white people to like us, and FYI, racism will never go away. Your guest talked about reparation. Why people don't owe us anything? I am black and I'm African, but I don't blame the colonialists for my shortcomings even though they robbed my country and my continent. Let's not make everything black and white.

CHIDEYA: And on our Africa Update segment last week, I spoke with Emira Woods. She co-directs foreign policy and focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Emira and I discussed Nigeria's opposition to the U.S. military's Africa Command. She explained that America may be interested in setting up Africom near Nigeria because of U.S. interest in Nigeria's rich oil reserves.

Well, Don Nichols(ph)wasn't happy with Emira's theory and he wrote us this: The person talking about Nigeria and oil is one of the blame whitey America crowd. First, that country is a mess and has been since given self-rule. Accusations that the U.S. is trying to takeover are ridiculous. Yes, we do want oil, for which we paid dearly per barrel. Would it be better if the Chinese did that?

JOHNSON: Okay, now here's an extremely hot subject, so I'm going to proceed with caution.

In our politics segment last week, Farai, you spoke with Mary Frances Berry and Ron Christie. You discussed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that President Bush hosted in Annapolis, Maryland. You asked both of your guests that they thought the issue was important to American voters.

Here's some of what Ron said.

(Soundbite of archived NPR recording)

Mr. RON CHRISTIE (Vice President, Navigators): Americans believe in the preservation of the Israeli and the Jewish state, and the United States and Britain, some of our allies were very instrumental in bringing you about the creation of Israel. Americans want the Israeli state to survive, and that's very important to all of us.

CHIDEYA: Listener Eric Hamill(ph) said, Ron Christie really crossed the line when he presumed that all Americans support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Now, Eric goes on to explain that some believe that approach promotes anti-Semitism, and he concludes by saying that quote, "Christie should stick to speaking for himself."

And finally, I spoke this week with Lee Thomas. He's a black Emmy Award-winning TV journalist who has a skin disorder called vitiligo. It erases the pigment in the skin. Thomas shared some great stories about coping with the disease and about his determination to succeed.

Well, James Williams(ph) in Mount Olive, Illinois heard our interview, and he wrote us this. Thank you for sharing Lee Thomas's story. I, too, had vitiligo. His positive outlook on life is an inspiration to all who suffered this disorder. Keep up your good work.

(Soundbite of music)

JOHNSON: And that's it for letters, but please keep yours coming.

CHIDEYA: To write us, just log on to npr.org, and click on contact us. Please be sure to tell us where you're writing from and how to pronounce your name. Thanks, Christopher.

JOHNSON: Anytime, Farai.

CHIDEYA: That's our show for today. Thank you for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, visit our Web site, nprnewsandnotes.org, no spaces, just nprnewsandnotes.org.

To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org.

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

Tomorrow, the history of black anti-war activism.

I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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