Race and Health Care Get Listeners Blogging

Several topics featured on the program this week have listeners blogging. Hear reaction to the media coverage of race in the presidential election, response to the story about hospitals that effectively deport some uninsured immigrants, and one listener's personal perspective on HIV/AIDS in the black community.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me as always. Hey, Lee. What's up?

LEE HILL: Hey Michel. Now you remember that we started this week with this commentary from you.

MARTIN: Can I just tell you what I think this debate is really about is acknowledging privilege. In this country, we hate to acknowledge that any of us gets any sort of leg up at all. In fact, the more privileged you are, it seems the less likely you are to admit it.

HILL: Now those thoughts registered with quite a number of folks out there prompting us to receive notes like this one from Betty.

BETTY (Caller): The lack of privilege perceived by the economically privileged is a breath-taking fact. As a middle-aged educated white woman from an upper-middle income upbringing, I've led a distinctly lower middle income upper low income adulthood. I can tell you that the difference is as noticeable to me as it is not to its regular recipients. Can you hear the echoes of white privilege here? I can.

MARTIN: Thank you, Betty. Speaking of racial attitudes, this week we also talked with a group of reporters about the challenges they face in covering the 2008 presidential campaign. We wanted to know particularly how they factor sometimes complicated issues of race into their reporting. During that conversation, we also ask you to tell us how fairly you feel the campaign season is being covered with respect to race. Here's what we heard from Megan (ph).

MEGAN (Caller): I'm a college educated woman, white Hispanic in her 50s. I'm tired of seeing slice and dice and hearing every single permutation of how people think other groups are going to vote. I do not think that it's helpful. I think it can be very distructive. I think once in awhile, taking a little poke is OK, but the focus has been extreme.

HILL: OK, Megan, thanks for that. And yesterday we brought listeners an interesting story on health care in this country. We talked about how some hospitals are deporting seriously ill undocumented immigrants who cannot pay for long-term care. Now given the nature of the subject, it didn't take long at all for listeners to weigh in on this. Let's take a listen.

JOSHUA (Caller): My name is Joshua. I work in health care in the Washington, D.C. area. Like the gentleman said before, he said a lot of hospitals are for profit, and I work for one that is a for-profit hospital. I'm really not surprised at what you guys are discussing, and I think it needs some more discussion on a more grand scale because it affects everyone.

MARTIN: Thank you, Joshua. And speaking of health care, we also received a very personal reflection from blogger DJ in response to a conversation that we had early in the week with activist Phil Wilson about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. I'm going to read a portion of it. DJ writes "I'm a black gay man who is HIV positive. I did not contract HIV because the Bush administration didn't provide me with enough AIDS education. I contracted HIV because I had unprotected sex with a multitude of strangers trying to fill the void of an absent father. If Phil Wilson wants to come up with a strategy of fighting AIDS in the black community, he should suggest that black women wait to have children with men they are married and committed to and that black men remain in the home and raise these children, build their characters, and instill in them the values that might prevent one from contracting HIV."

Thank you DJ for that, and thank you Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Now remember, with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again is 202-842-3522. Or go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out.

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