Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit

From 89.3 WFPL News Louisville


Most Recent Episodes

Strange Fruit #251: Greeting Cards That Look Like Us

It's your partner's birthday and you're looking for the perfect card. But the drug store selection is looking pretty heteronormative. The specialty store might have an LGBTQ section... full of smiling white faces. What's a queer person of color to do? That's what Otis Richardson wanted to know. So he started his own line of greeting cards, Lavenderpop, featuring text and artwork on cards specifically for people who look like us. Otis joins us this week to tell us about his work.

Strange Fruit #250: Ricky Jones on James Baldwin (and Tucker Carlson)

"I'm terrified at the moral apathy – the death of the heart which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don't think I'm human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say. And this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters." James Baldwin said it in 1963. Dr. Ricky Jones, from the University of Louisville, reflected on it in a recent column for the Courier-Journal. That got the attention of Fox News, and Jones appeared on Tucker Carlson's show last week. As you might imagine, it didn't go too well. Jones says it's all part of his job: teaching. He joins us this week to talk about what Baldwin meant, how it relates to our country today, and what happened after that interview.

Strange Fruit #249: How Watermelons Became A Racist Trope

They're a delicious summertime snack — but they're also associated with a long-standing stereotype about black people. This week we talk to historian Bill Black from Rice University about how watermelons became a racist symbol. And an exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Art and History tells the fascinating story of Lucy Higgs Nichols. She went from enslavement in Tennessee to working as a nurse with the 23rd Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War. Al Gorman with the Carnegie joins us to talk about Nichols' life and local ties, and what you can see in the exhibit.

Strange Fruit #247: Darnell Moore's Memoir Tells The Story Of A Gay Black Survivor

Darnell Moore has been a frequent and favorite Strange Fruit guest over the years, and through those conversations, we've learned bits and pieces of his history and how his past shaped him into his current activism. Now he has a new memoir, "No Ashes In The Fire: Coming Of Age Black And Free In America," that tells his whole story (and more — he researched his family members going back to 1877). The book takes its title from one of several life-threatening experiences Darnell recounts. He's on a book tour now and joins us this week to talk about the memoir and why he decided to put it all down on paper. Check out "No Ashes In The Fire" here:

Strange Fruit #247: Darnell Moore's Memoir Tells The Story Of A Gay Black Survivor

Strange Fruit #246: Matthew Charles, Rehabilitated Then Re-Incarcerated

Matthew Charles was convicted of seven charges related to the possession and sale of crack cocaine. This was in 1996, when the crack-to-cocaine ratio was still 100 to 1, meaning that selling one gram of crack carried the same punishment as 100 grams of cocaine. Matthew was got a sentence of 30 years to life. While he served his term, the sentencing guidelines were changed. Matthew had a perfect behavioral record while incarcerated, and was released early in 2016, having spent almost half his life on the inside. He got steady work, started volunteering at a halfway house every weekend, bought clothing, furniture, a cell phone, rented a room in East Nashville. He re-established relationships with friends and family, and got into a serious romantic relationship. Basically, he built a life outside prison. But a federal court ruled his term was reduced in error and ordered him back behind bars to finish his sentence. Matthew donated his belongings, said goodbye to his girlfriend and family, and turned himself in. How and why did this happen? If the point of prison is rehabilitation, why did a judge decide that Matthew needed more? Julieta Martinelli covered this case for Nashville Public Radio. She joins us this week with the strange, sad story of Matthew Charles.

Strange Fruit #246: Whose Job Is It To Make Sure Louisville Seniors Don't Live With Bedbugs?

Our colleague Jacob Ryan from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting was working on a story at Dosker Manor, a high-rise public housing complex in downtown Louisville. As he interviewed residents for his original story, something else kept coming up in the conversations: bedbugs. More than half of residents in the 685-unit complex either had them, had recently had them, or were making drastic lifestyle changes to try to avoid them. Dosker Manor is housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The majority of its residents are black. Whose job is it to make sure this vulnerable slice of the population has housing that is "decent, safe, sanitary and in good repair," as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires public housing to be? Residents have complained to management and called 311 to report problems. But the investigation found that calls aren't being followed up on. Work orders aren't being generated to send exterminators to the infested units. And the seniors living in Dosker Manor are still going to bed every night, knowing they'll be bitten by bedbugs while they sleep. Meanwhile, leadership at the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, which oversees public housing, says they're confident their system is working like it should. Jacob Ryan joins us on this week's show to tell us more. (You can read the full investigation here:

Strange Fruit #246: Whose Job Is It To Make Sure Louisville Seniors Don't Live With Bedbugs?

Strange Fruit #245: Homegirl Box Delivers Women's History

Kaila just had a rough semester. Her students wouldn't do their reading and didn't seem to be paying much attention. She was feeling low. Then she got a box in the mail packed with Audre-Lorde-themed swag from a student who appreciated her class. Turns out, it was a Homegirl Box. And she knew we had to interview whoever came up with it. This week we talk to Brittany Brathwaite, co-creator of the Homegirl Box, a gift box inspired by the life and legacy of bold and visionary women of color. Each box contains 4 or 5 creations from women and non-binary artists, designers and business owners. We talk to Brittany about her work, and her company's philosophy on doing business ethically. We also have an update on Michael Rotondo, the 30-year-old man who wouldn't vacate his folks' house in New York. And of course, we say a great big, "Bye, Roseanne!"

Strange Fruit #244: Reading Books, Living With Your Parents, Doing Your Civic Duty

We've all been busy this week, doing our civic duty. Not only was Tuesday Election Day, but Doc has been on jury duty all week! Her stories about the people she's met there bring up some questions about whether serving on a jury is too much of a hardship for hourly workers and low-income folks. Event planner Darien Green has been busy too. He's planning the second annual installment of "A Gay-la Experience," which is scheduled for June 2. Darien joined us this week to tell us more about the party, which is geared toward the LBGTQ community. "I basically created this event because I have a lot of friends who are transgender and they didn't get to attend their high school prom as their true selves," Darien said. "They don't share their prom pictures, they don't even talk about their prom experience, because it wasn't a happy time for them. I thought about what I could do to help them have that experience." While Darien was here we also talked about the case of Michael Rotondo, a 30-year-old New Yorker who had to be ordered by a judge to move out of his parents' house. How long is too long for parents to financially support their kids? And would it have made a difference if he'd done the dishes once in a while? We also listen back to a recent Jimmy Kimmel bit where they asked people on the street to name a book. Not a book they've read, not a book on a certain topic — just any book at all. Some people seemed almost proud to say they don't read books. What does that say about the skills our culture values? Did your family of origin celebrate your debate team victories as much as they did your cousin's football wins?

Strange Fruit #244: Reading Books, Living With Your Parents, Doing Your Civic Duty

Strange Fruit: 'Flying While Fat & Black'

Amber Phillips flies a lot, and she knows what can happen to people whose bodies don't fit perfectly in small airplane seats. So when she sat down for a short flight from Raleigh-Durham to Washington, DC late last month, and her arm was touching a fellow passenger's arm, she was worried. "I was thinking, I really hope she doesn't treat me mean," Phillips would later tell the Washington Post. "She was fidgeting, and finally she looks at me and goes, 'Can you move over?'" But Phillips was in the window seat, and there was nowhere else to go. This week on Strange Fruit, she tells the story of what happened over the next 45 minutes while the plane made its way to Reagan National Airport, and after it landed. Like so many news stories lately, it culminates in a white person calling the police on a black person engaged in an everyday activity. Or as Phillips put it in a later tweet, "The cops were called on me for flying while fat & Black."

Strange Fruit #242: White Guys Teaching White Guys To Be Less Racist

When we talk about racism and sexism, we often talk about women and people of color. But what does it mean to be an informed, empathetic, white man? That's the question posed by a series of workshops in San Francisco called "Stepping Up." Unlike many diversity and inclusion programs, this one is specifically designed for white men, and lead by white men. During the sessions, students can ask questions anonymously through an app, to lessen the fear of asking or saying something racist or sexist. Paul Mann founded Stepping Up, and he joins us this week to talk abut why it's important for white guys to take responsibility for teaching each other about racism and sexism (not to rely on women and people of color to do the educating), and some of the backlash he's gotten so far.

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