Us & Them Us & Them explores all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us. Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on religion, sexuality, and other important issues
Us & Them

Us & Them

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Us & Them explores all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us. Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on religion, sexuality, and other important issues

Most Recent Episodes

Vaccines: Now For Us, Later for Them

Charges of vaccine hoarding and global protectionism are coloring the debate over our response to new strains of COVID with vaccinations. The World Health Organization reports so far, only 16% of people in low-income countries have gotten a single vaccine dose. That compares with 80% in some high-income countries. The role vaccinations can play in shortening or ending the pandemic is still critical although COVID fatigue may prevent people from getting their first dose or continuing on to complete the regimen. 'America first' has been central to the Biden administration's vaccination campaign. Now that focus has shifted and there's more U.S. effort going into producing vaccines for the world. As international organizations work to get shots in arms, the effort continues to face challenges that may well affect our political and medical realities for years to come.

Doctors Hit Socials To Cure Disinformation

Healthcare workers are the glue in our public health system. They've seen firsthand the impacts of messaging around COVID-19 — the good, the bad, and the downright dangerous — especially on social media. That firehose of information shaped our experience of the pandemic. The internet has also catapulted dangerous misinformation about the virus and treatment into mainstream public opinion. It's a crisis some healthcare workers are taking to task themselves. In a new Us & Them episode, host Trey Kay talks with some of the Internet's favorite doctors and nurses about what that movement should look like.

The Gun Divide

America has roughly 400 million guns in circulation. Our divisions - social, political and racial - and our fear of those differences fuel even more gun purchases. 2020 showed a historic rise in gun violence. Guns killed a record 45,000 people, the majority of them by suicide. In this episode of Us & Them we explore the foundations of the Second Amendment and the cultural and historical beliefs and myths that contribute to our very American divide over guns. Gun ownership is at record levels across the country with 40 percent of adults saying they have at least one firearm in their home. But what rights does the Second Amendment give us? And what happens if our collective arsenal intersects with our widespread distrust of our institutions, our government, and each other?

Dicamba: Things Have Gotten A Bit Ugly

The weedkiller dicamba has created a divide between people who work the land in Arkansas. In a new episode from the award-winning program Us & Them (from PRX & West Virginia Public Broadcasting), their team follows up on a story that's gotten ugly over the past few years. A newer version of the herbicide is designed to give soybean farmers a way to combat pigweed, a tenacious plant that can take over soybean fields. However, there's evidence that the chemical can evaporate from where it was sprayed and move to harm other plants. It's become so controversial that some farmers and backyard gardeners are afraid to complain about crop or plant damage. On the other side of the debate, farmers who want to use the herbicide have gone to court and challenged who gets to make the rules about pesticide use in the state. Rural farm communities are typically tight-knit and if one farmer has a problem with another, they meet at what is called the "turn row'' to talk things out. But that's not what's happening in Arkansas. The atmosphere has gotten just plain un-neighborly.

Us & Them: Who Can We Trust?

Our trust can be tested by many things, both personal and professional. Political fractures make us question those we disagree with. The shifting science of a pandemic presents challenging scenarios for healthcare leaders. As COVID cases continue to rise and fall, Us & Them wanted to hear from people who've landed at different points along this trust continuum. Some don't trust information or data about the coronavirus or the vaccines; from science, from healthcare, from government. Others say healthcare and government officials are doing their best handling a shifting reality with a virus that continues to mutate and infect. Where are you on the trust continuum? How willing are you to listen to someone who disagrees? That's the challenge in our newest episode of Us & Them. Listen to a range of ideas and opinions. Some may challenge your thinking, others could upset you. But if the exchanges get us all listening and thinking, that can be a good outcome.

Us & Them: Books Under Fire

America's public schools are once again in the crosshairs of our nation's culture wars. Some parents want more say in what and how their kids are taught — especially topics like racial history and gender studies. These parents say schools are pushing a social agenda they don't agree with. The call for more parental involvement includes increased challenges to the books used in classrooms. Last year, those cases quadrupled with challenges against nearly 1600 individual titles. Educators worry that the pushback against classroom materials can also achieve a broader goal — to challenge teachers with policies and laws that restrict what and how they can teach.

Us & Them: Critical Race Theory

Americans are looking back to reassess their history and origins. George Floyd's murder launched a global movement to assert the critical role that race plays in American law and society; however, even before Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation and the world, there were efforts to redefine America's origin story. Now, there are fresh fracture points in how we see ourselves and how we teach our history. A focus of this debate is on a little-known academic and legal concept called Critical Race Theory that says that racism is inherent in our laws and institutions. The theory is not part of standard public school curriculum; however, it has become a catch-all term for efforts to include race as an element in how we teach America's history. Some parents are against any approach that makes their children pawns in a racial legacy they say focuses too much on oppression and victimization. Once again, one of our nation's most sensitive cultural flashpoints is evident in debates over laws and school curriculum, and who decides what students will learn about our past.

Historically Black Currently Adapting

Born from an era of segregated educational opportunities when Black students were not welcome at predominantly white schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been focused on surrounding students with Black excellence. Today, HBCUs are no longer exclusive. In fact, some schools — like Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD — are actively recruiting a more diverse population to provide a more global experience to prepare graduates for the future. In West Virginia, white students make up a significant majority of the enrollment at the state's two HBCUs. Us & Them host Trey Kay looks at this era of intense competition for students and how some of the nation's 100-plus HBCUs are adapting for the future.

Moving the Needle

The public health campaign to sell people on COVID-19 vaccinations is more than a year old, but its success is limited. The latest strain of the virus shows that unvaccinated people are significantly more likely to contract the omicron variant, resulting in higher rates of hospitalization and death. This reality raises a question - why are people refusing the shots? What's gone wrong with the public health message? Early on the focus was on mass vaccinations, which convinced many millions of people. When the numbers stalled, it was time for incentives; get a shot, win a gift card or a car. In West Virginia, the campaign became, "Do it for Baby Dog," using the governor's English Bulldog as a mascot. But few of these efforts are swaying vaccine-resistant people. So, what will work? On the next Us & Them, we'll hear why vaccination campaigns were successful in the past, and the approach many experts say we need to start trying.

Remembering The Augusta Riot

We can document almost everything around us with devices of all kinds. But in 1970, there were few cameras around when police opened fire on crowds in Augusta, Georgia. A protest-turned-riot over the brutal murder of a Black teenager left six Black men dead from police bullets. But there was never justice for any of the deaths, including 16-year-old Charles Oatman in the Richmond County Jail. The story of that riot remains relatively unknown among Augusta residents both Black and white. Us & Them host Trey Kay talks with podcast producer Sea Stachura about her award-winning work, "Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot." Historians call it one of the largest uprisings of the Civil Rights Era in the Deep South.