Responding to Your Letters

Farai Chideya and News & Notes producer/editor Christopher Johnson read from listener letters. Today, they read feedback about our "Africa Update" segment, a recent sports bloggers' roundtable, and NBC News' series on black women.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

No matter what else we talk about on Thursdays, we try to make time for your letters. And here to help me sift through the mail is our producer and editor, Christopher Johnson. Hey, Christopher.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Hey, Farai. How are you doing?

CHIDEYA: I am good. What's up first?

JOHNSON: Well, first, let's deal with some old business. Back in October, you spoke with Bill Fletcher, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies. You two discussed a part of West Africa that doesn't get a lot of press in America, it's called Western Sahara. There's been some debate over the territory and here's how Bill explains some of the region's complicated history, which dates back to colonialism and includes a modern war.

Mr. BILL FLETCHER (Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies): The war actually began in the early 1970s when the Spanish was still there. When the Spanish withdrew, the Saharawi people carried out a war against both the Moroccans and the Mauritanians. They signed a peace with the Mauritanians and the Moroccans refused to give up and in fact, at a certain point in 1975, King Hassan II sent 350,000 Moroccan civilians into the Western Sahara, in order to settle the territory. So, the war continued up until 1991, when there was a ceasefire. It's not been resolved.

JOHNSON: And as I mentioned, there's some dispute over who controls Western Sahara today. Some people feel the region always belonged to Morocco and that any decision was drawn artificially by colonial powers. And in that vain, we got snail and e-mail from a group called Moroccan Congress of USA. They wrote us this. To our members, it is a clear conviction. Morocco recovered a part of its territories occupied by Spain in the 19th century. The entire conflict was created, financed and dragged on for decades by the Algerian regime in order to weaken Morocco.

CHIDEYA: We want to thank the Moroccan Congress for the letter and we will revisit the topic in the future. Here is some more snail mail. It's about a conversation I had last month with two women who helped create the NBC nightly news special series, "African-American Women: Where They Stand." That conversation upset lots of listeners, including Lungile Imkube(ph) - we didn't get a pronouncer from you, so I hope I got it right. She's in Huntsville, Alabama.

Lungile wrote, you're segment on the state of black women only serves a purpose as good as opening a can of worms. You only selectedly discussed what can only be described as an indictment of black women on your level. You only came across as if the only important thing for accomplished black women is material, financial, and social status. Now, Lungile, we were interviewing the people who did the series. I believe your comments might be directed better at them than us, but thanks for the letter.

JOHNSON: Back to new school communication, here's an e-mail we got about our sports blogger's roundtable. Darius Spearman(ph) in San Diego says he sometimes frustrated by those conversations. Darius wrote, I'm writing about your discussion alternately referred to as it, the issue, this issue, and the situation, as it relates to Barry Bonds, the Hall of Fame, and something about (unintelligible) and a baseball. For those of us who miss the story, you were discussing that is as much as we got about your three-minute discussion of, well, whatever it was you were talking about. Before going into a discussion, can you please briefly throw your listeners in on exactly what you're talking about?

CHIDEYA: Well, we hear you loud and clear, Darius. We will be sure to address it, meaning that issue in the near future. Stay tuned.

(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, actor Denzel Washington on Hollywood, breaking barriers, and directing his new film, "The Great Debaters."

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

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