Listeners Weigh in on Race-Gender, Plight of D.C. Mom

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Hear members of the program's audience offer their thoughts on race and gender in the presidential campaign. They also react to a recent conversation about Banita Jacks, the Washington, D.C., mother accused of killing her four children.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations on the TELL ME MORE blog and get a chance to hear from you. Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me here in the studio as always. Hi, Lee, what's going on?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, it's been another high-powered week of political action and, of course, as everyone knows, there's been a pretty heated debate on race and gender, and how it's playing out among Democrats, specifically, with Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, in the race for the White House.

Michel, now, several folks have spoken out about this. Gloria Steinem's op-ed in the New York Times, BET founder Bob Johnson on the campaign trail, and blogger Pamela Merit, right here on TELL ME MORE, and the list goes on. Well, we wanted to know what you, our listeners out there, had to say about this and it didn't take long at all for you to tell us. Here's Mojee(ph) in Florida, who says, she is definitely thinking a lot broader than race and gender.

MOJEE (Listener): For the first time in my 12 years of voting life, I truly have a choice. A candidate is not going to automatically get my vote because she's of the same gender and another doesn't have my vote locked, because he shares my heritage, as in Obama who's black with an African father. Everything I do and how I think should not be relegated to two boxes, race and gender. In fact, I despise when people try to confine me in any box. So, I've got less than three weeks to make a decision in my state's primary election. If the end result of my vote goes for gender or race, the way I see it, I'm not wrong either way.

MARTIN: Thanks, Mojee. We should mention - I think we're going to talk about this in the Barbershop in just a minute, that the Clinton and Obama camps recently called a truce on this whole race issue. We'll see if that holds.

Now, we want to take a turn to another story. This week, our Mocha Moms sat down to discuss the story of Benita Jacks, the 33-year-old mother in Washington, D.C. She's accused of killing her four children. They ranged in age from five to 16 years old, and she allegedly lived with their decomposing bodies for months. Now, Lee, probably you will remember that we debated long and hard about how to cover the story and we decided that it would probably be best to focus our attention - how you can, you know, try to get help for people who you think might be in this situation, help people in your community when they need it.

And we received this note from Cynthia(ph). She wrote thank you for offering valuable room for those of us that may be vulnerable to meeting life's challenges with less grace. Your guests' courage to share their struggles in various moments was admirable. They could have easily dehumanized and blamed Ms. Jacks without trying to understand her struggle. I am going to be more helpful to those around me and draw on your wisdom.

Thank you for that, Cynthia.

And thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember, to tell us more about what you think, you can go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

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