Letters: Changing Duties at Home, Extreme Commuting

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Listeners comment on hip-hop music, changes in American families, and extreme commutes.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. A week ago Monday on the Opinion Page, Lonnae O'Neal Parker told us about the end of her love affair with hip-hop. The message of the music, she argued, has gotten lost amongst the violence, misogyny, materialism and hostile sexual stereotypes.

Lane Montgomery(ph), a listener in Jackson, Michigan, e-mailed to say not so fast. Mindless hip-hop songs are just that, and they will always exist, he wrote. Every genre has its fluff. If you want to be encouraged that hip-hop is still reflecting the realities and problems of the urban environment, then look no further than Kanye, Common or even Ice Cube.

Rapping about pimps, bitches and, more and more recently, cocaine, is disheartening. But when I hook up my iPod at a party and play The Fugees and Kanye, the party really moves and the minds grow at the same time. Perhaps instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the inevitable, we should be promoting the positive aspects of the inspirational.

If you didn't catch that conversation, you can download it at our Web site. All our recent Opinion Pages are available as podcasts. There's a link at the TALK OF THE NATION page at npr.org.

Last Wednesday, we talked about the changing American family. A new study found that parents - married and single - teach, play and care for their kids more today than their parents did in the 1960s, all while more and more mothers work more and more outside the home.

Hans Klausen(ph) e-mailed us from Sarasota, Florida to warn that there's a darker side to these numbers. I was there, he wrote, marching with women who wanted equal rights. What they wanted is not what they've gotten. They were hoping for more pay, more respect, more choices.

They achieved the choice of working, but the women and their husbands have lost everything else along the way. The middle class in the U.S. today enjoys a home with amenities better than Louis XIV, but they've accepted debt, overwork, stress and are all out of touch with their children. History screwed us all, but it mostly screwed the daughters of those who marched.

Lizzie, a listener in Casper, Wyoming, had a different take. As a modern woman, she wrote, I was taught I can have it all: a family and a career. I'm trying to balance both and wouldn't give up marrying and having a child at a young age for anything. Balancing all of this is a challenge, and I hope nothing will suffer in the long run. I take marriage seriously and view it as a covenant for life. We make it work, and hopefully we'll be able to laugh at all of our challenges in 20 or 30 years.

Our show about extreme commutes last Thursday prompted lots of e-mail about how to fill all that time on the road or on the rails. Among the suggestions: learn to play the harmonica, books on tape, learn the harmonica, study languages, and learn the harmonica.

Enough with the harmonica, e-mailed Chris from Athens, Ohio. When I lived in the country, I used to practice my trumpet on my commute.

I didn't think too much of it but occasionally would be recognized at the grocery store. Hey, you're the guy that plays the trumpet in the car.

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CONAN: If you want to reach us, e-mail: talk@npr.org. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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