Race Relations, Oakland Shooting Stir Bloggers

A recent Tell Me More commentary on race, along with news of community outrage in Oakland following a fatal shooting by police prompts the program's audience of bloggers to speak out.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for a 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, as always. Hi, Lee. What's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, your commentary this week about race and how it still plays a role in how we interpret the world touched off a candid conversation online. A blogger, Diana, posted to that forum, and here's what she had to say.

DIANA (Listener): As a white, middle-aged woman, I admit that my reaction to discussions about race is shame and fear in the same way that I feel fearful and ashamed talking about money, death and sex. I worry, though, that the silence that comes with shame and fear can easily be confused with bigotry and its source, hatred. I'm not a hater; I'm a chicken.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Diana, for that. But I'd say your post proves that you're not chicken.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Moving forward, people across the country took notice after a violent protest in Oakland that happened after a white law-enforcement officer fatally shot an unarmed black man on a subway platform. We talked to an Oakland business owner whose place was vandalized during that protest. And after that conversation, we heard this from Gloria, who also lives in Oakland.

GLORIA (Listener): I think what people saw with what's happened over the last couple of weeks is, obviously, not just justified outrage over this incident on the BART, but the culmination of long-time frustration that Oakland residents have had over our crime and violence rate and the seeming inability of both the police force and the city council and the mayor to really do anything about it, and the community, to doing anything about it and say we won't stand for this anymore. So, I really hope we're able to move to a more positive place, but I just don't know if we're there yet.

HILL: Thanks, Gloria. Well, we also have an update on that story. We reported earlier that the officer involved had since resigned from the police department where he was employed. But on Tuesday, we learned that he was arrested on murder charges, and he has entered a plea of not guilty. We're keeping a close eye on this story, and I'm sure we'll come back to it soon. Now, onto another recent segment from this week. We talked with young adults having a hard time finding work in their field. We title it Young, Educated and Unemployed. Now, Michel, Aljorie wrote to us, and she didn't have much sympathy for the ladies in the conversation.

MARTIN: I was worried about that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: But she did offer advice, though. So, let's listen.

ALJORIE (Listener): Perhaps the ladies that live in New York, especially as expensive as it is to live there, may want to humble themselves and take that second look at that barista gig at Starbucks while looking to pursue their dream job.

MARTIN: Thanks, Aljorie. Why do I have the feeling, Lee, that Aljorie has shared this advice with her own kids?

HILL: Or with herself.

MARTIN: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Finally, Barack Obama, of course, will be sworn in as our next president on Tuesday. We asked folks to tell us their plans for the inauguration. We heard some very touching stories about journeys to Washington with loved ones. But Lee, this voicemail message from our comment line probably takes the cake.

JASON (Listener): Hi, my name is Jason from Alexandria, Virginia, and I'm going to Costa Rica for the inauguration. I'll be on the beach, sipping a pina colada. Congratulations, President Obama.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Well, ah, thank you, Jason, for sharing, and have a little sip for us. And thank you, Lee.

HILL: I hope it's warm there. Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: 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. Please remember to leave your name, and of course, you can also go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out.

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