Listeners Talk Back

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Hear what listeners and readers of the blog have to say about this week's conversations about sexism in the presidential race, questions of identity, and the history of women and guns.


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. Hi, Douglas.

DOUGLAS HOPPER: Hey, Michel, how's it going?


HOPPER: Great. Well let's talk about reactions to the conversation about diverse backgrounds in the office. This was the first of the series we have planned with Diversity Magazine about rules of cultural etiquette at work. This week the magazine's co-founder Luke Visconti and Anna Mock(ph) an Asian-American executive joined us to talk about what we should never say to an Asian-American colleague. One of the most sensitive things mentioned was a question some of us may consider innocent. Here's Luke Visconti.

Mr. LUKE VISCONTI (Co-founder of Diversity Magazine): Where are you from? I think is one of those questions that can be very loaded, because it could be a way of casting you as the outsider and establishing that fact in the person speaking as well as everybody around them and I've been asked that question because I happen to be half Italian and half Greek. My skin is darker, and I know exactly what it means. It means you don't belong here, what are you doing here? When are you going to go away?

HOPPER: Now some listeners like Wendell Howard(ph) from Indianapolis had a different perspective. He said though questions about someone's origin may hit a nerve, they are not always loaded with bad intent. Here's Wendell.

Mr. WENDELL HOWARD (Adult Educator): As an adult educator, I believe there is no dumb questions from students. Some may use the same technique to promote active dialogue and improved understanding between people who are different. If each ethnicity is quick to take offense by someone else's ignorant comments, how we will ever eliminate racism and discrimination?

MARTIN: OK, thank you for that comment, Wendell. And I can see that the conversation is still going on. You can read what others had to say on our blog at You can weigh in on that conversation or others if you want. What else was heating up the blog this week Douglas?

HOPPER: Well, we got lots of comments in reaction to the Roundtable on how sexism may have affected Senator Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. In the blog, you posed the question of whether this was an issue of competitive suffering. Hillary Clinton's struggle versus Barack Obama's. It's a question a lot of people are considering. Kat, one of the people who commented on the blog said she is excited about the idea of Obama making history but went on to ask and I quote "do I have to turn off the real sexism I face, my girlfriend's faced, and I know without a doubt Hillary Clinton has faced? Do we have to be disloyal to Obama to acknowledge that sexism has indeed played a roll in this race?"

MARTIN: Well, thank you Kat for that comment and again, the conversation is still going on and you can check out the blog and you can add your thoughts. I hear we got feedback on my interview with Laura Browder, the author of "Her Best Shot," that is the history of women and guns in America. Is that right, Douglas?

HOPPER: It's true. Many people wrote in to say they were surprised by the very idea that there is such a deep history of woman and guns. But not every one was glad to hear it. Catherine Rood(ph), thought the conversation glorified the use of guns and women who have taken up the sports of shooting.

Ms. CATHERINE ROOD (Listener): I understand that some women are into guns for recreation or other reasons but to fully understand the historical relationship of most women, the guns require with the inclusion of women who have had experienced domestic violence, women who have lost a loved one to gun violence or to suicide by guns, or women who have lost a child in a gun accident.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that comment Catherine. And thank you, Douglas. Douglas, I should mention, we want to thank you for filling in for Lee Hill while he's been working on another assignment. This is your last week with us, for now.

HOPPER: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much.

MARTIN: But if you want to have your say you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522, again that's 202-842-3522 or you can visit us at and blog it out.

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