Listeners Talk Jazz, Racial Profiling

Hear how listeners and readers of the blog reacted to recent conversations about the fate of jazz, racial profiling and the upcoming Olympic games in Beijing.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

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. Douglas Hopper, our web producer, joins me in the studio. Hey, Douglas, what are people talking about?

DOUGLAS HOPPER: Hi, Michel. The blog has been hot this week. One of the things that got people talking was your interview with jazz musician and radio host Jae Sinnett. He made the claim that Americans are falling out of love with jazz. Let's listen.

Mr. JAE SINNETT (Jazz Musician, Radio Host): It's a business that has to survive. Jazz is a very intelligent - it's a highly intelligent, very, very complex music. And to go in and expect a lot of people to come around and support this music, I don't think that's the mentality today.

HOPPER: Josh Jackson(ph) is a producer and jazz programmer at our member station WBGO in Newark, New Jersey. Let's just say he wasn't feeling that sentiment.

JOSH JACKSON: Just what our music needs, nearly 18 minutes of national airtime to ask the same tired question. Is jazz dead or does it just smell funny? Sorry, but this amounted to a long-winded and thinly-veiled whine. Sinnett could not be more wrong about the prospects of jazz. When Michel asked if he was a hater, she nailed it. Interview over.

MARTIN: All righty then. Well, thank you for your comment, Josh. But there were some listeners who agreed that jazz was dying. Akila(ph) wrote in to say that hardly any of her friends of all ages listen to jazz. But she did offer up a solution. She said, "We need young people to become musicians who can play instruments and not only specialize in sampling and creating hip-hop beats. You may disagree with Jae's presentation but there is a jazz crisis. Let's do something about it." OK, Akila, we hear you. And thanks for your comments.

HOPPER: The Mocha Moms also got listeners talking. The moms talked about how to teach kids about cops. And as you can imagine, the issue of racial profiling came up. One of the guests, Sergeant Rosa Quintana of the Atlanta Police Department, said cops shouldn't be in the business of assuming.

Sergeant ROSA QUINTANA (City of Atlanta Police Department): I don't treat every child on the street as a thug because they're wearing a hoodie or whether they are wearing baggy pants, you know.

HOPPER: Listener Marilyn Carney(ph) from Raleigh, North Carolina, said the problem goes way beyond the way people dress.

Ms. MARILYN CARNEY (Listener): We as African-Americans must realize that too many of our youth are running around with guns and shooting at any and everything. Sometimes injuring or killing innocent bystanders. How then can we expect the police not to be suspicious of them when they have to stop them for any reason? Yes. We need to make sure that police violence is stopped, but we also need to clean up our own house.

MARTIN: Thanks for that, Marilyn.

HOPPER: And one other story. The upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. We talked about the debate over whether to support them given China's human rights record. Jian Chu(ph) was listening. He's a Chinese-American living in Newmarket, Maryland. He said protesting the Olympics sets a dangerous precedent.

Mr. JIAN CHU (Listener): Imagine, in this summer's Beijing Olympics, our athletes accompanied by a banner that reads "America Out of Iraq." How would you feel? I would be extremely saddened, or even outraged. But this could very well happen if we insist mixing politics with Olympics.

MARTIN: Thanks, Jian, for that comment. We'll be following this story and all those we've been talking about. And thank you, Douglas.

HOPPER: Thank you.

MARTIN: We appreciate all of your comments. If you want to get in the mix, you can visit us at npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out. And that's our program for today.

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