Spectrum Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.


From WOUB Public Media

Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.

Most Recent Episodes

Black Women and Girls are Too Often the Targets of Violence in America

Too often African American women and girls are targets of violence and abuse in America. The abuse is caused by interactions with law enforcement as well as domestic abuse, says Dr. Aretina Hamilton, a human geographer, scholar, and author. She says Black women live in a patriarchal environment where they are, unfortunately, valued less than even Black men. As a result, Dr. Hamilton says that too often Black women and girls are considered "disposable" in society and are not valued in the caste system in which they live. Not only are Black women and girls subject to domestic violence in their homes, they are a subset of Black people being shot by police. Since 2015, 247 Black women were killed by police officers and 89 of them were killed at home or in their residences, according to a "Washington Post" October 21, 2020 article. The "Washington Post" has been tracking deaths of black women by police since 2015. The fact that the lives of Black women are often considered less valuable or less newsworthy than black men is a major concern of advocates. This slight is seen by many scholars and public policy makers as a major problem. Dr. Hamilton is joined in this conversation by Judge Gayle Williams Byers the first Black female judge in the S. Euclid Municipal Court in South Euclid, Ohio. Judge Byers adds her personal perspective of seeing Black female victims of domestic violence in her court.

Racist Language and References Permeate Our Speech and Promote Inequality

In our everyday conversations, many of us use words or phrases that have racist meanings or derivations, even if we don't intend our speech to be racist. Many of these words or phrases have worked their way into our common vernacular in a covert way and by their use promote inequality. Just a few examples are "master bedroom or master bathroom," "blacklisting" someone, "uppity," "black mark," "sold down the river," or "black sheep of the family" all have their derivations during slavery or reconstruction. The list of these types of terms is voluminous. The use of phrases of this nature perpetuate the master/slave dynamic and covertly and subtlety advance systemic racism through our normal speech, says Dr. Kalvin Harvell, professor of sociology at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Dr. Harvell has been the president of the Michigan Sociological Society and his is the founder of Harvell and Associates, an educational consulting firm. While the bulk of our racist speech is directed toward African Americans, we do have other phrases that target other ethnicities. For example, the term "gypped" is a verbal slam towards gypsies (or Romani people). "Paddy wagon" is a reference to Irish immigrants being lawless and arrested. These racist terms also can be coded and merge into our lexicon. For example, often the media, uses the term "urban" to mean inner-city, poor, and black. If we want to refer to a gentrified part of a city, we refer to it as "metropolitan." These types of terms not only appear in our daily lexicon, but they also are often used by journalists, thereby perpetuating racial stereotypes and tropes, says Dr. Harvell. To be anti-racist, he says, one must examine one's own speech patterns and purge words and phrases that are hurtful and promote inequality.

Racist Language and References Permeate Our Speech and Promote Inequality

Early Voting May Change the Impact of Last Week Blitz Campaigning

We are in the last seven days of the 2020 Presidential election, but it is a campaign and a race like no other. Traditional campaigning has been turned on its head. With seven days to go, 66 million people have already voted, eclipsing the total early vote count from 2016. Some experts say that by election day 85 million out of a total of 240 million eligible voters will have already submitted their votes. We have had 48 percent of the total vote in 2016 already vote, thereby, altering the dynamics of last-minute campaigning, says Philip Elliott, Washington Correspondent for TIME and a columnist for TIME's new daily political newsletter, "The D.C. Brief." Rallies and campaign events now rile up a candidate's base vote, but last-minute policy arguments or issues are lost since so many people have already voted, he notes. The rallies also may not alter turnout. Campaigning during a pandemic also has highlighted the different personal styles of the candidates. President Trump has been full speed ahead having massive rallies with few masks and no social distancing while former Vice-President Biden has been doing a great deal of virtual campaigning and trying to follow public health safety guidelines. The contrasts in styles place the divides in the country in stark contrast with one-another. Trump is trying a more scatter-shot approach compared to Biden's more laser directed messaging. Trump's surrogates, like Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, also have seemed to be spouting public messaging contrary to the President's talking points. On the other side, former President Obama and Vice President Candidate Senator Kamala Harris have been more in tune with Biden's messaging. Elliott says that all of these nuances and variations from traditional campaigning make the race more difficult to track. He notes polling is much better in 2020 than in 2016 but there still may be silent Trump voters who will vote on election day but not participate in any polling. He also notes the Republicans have bested Democrats in getting more new registered voters who the GOP hope go to the polls for Trump. In any event, this last week of campaigning will be interesting. Listen to Elliott give us his inside the beltway perspective on this week's Spectrum Podcast episode.

American Governmental Propaganda Starts in WWI but Still Thrives Today

In World War I, President Woodrow Wilson started an agency for governmental propaganda. It became the precursor and template of today's governmental manipulation of information which often creates fictions and promotes those in power. Author, scholar, and journalist Dr. John Maxwell Hamilton delves into the birth of American government propaganda in his new book "Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda" and traces its impact on the American Presidency from Woodrow Wilson to President Donald J. Trump. The first governmental propaganda agency was created just eight days after the USA entered World War I and only existed for 1.5 years, but it became the template for how the government can manipulate information to steer public opinion, says Dr. Hamilton The Committee on Public Information (CPI) was America's first and only ministry of propaganda but it left a powerful legacy. Hamilton explains the pervasiveness of the Committee's reach. It touched every part of America including advertising, artists, universities, travelling salesmen and even the Boy Scouts, according to Hamilton. He notes that the CPI did instill some valuable information practices such as creating the "Federal Register" to bring governmental information to the masses and to delve into international policies. However, he also says that the CPI was often racist, undemocratic and coercive. Today, Dr. Hamilton writes that governmental propaganda is "out of control. Too large to control. And, we have insufficient guardrails to curb it." It has developed cynicism about government among our citizens and it's a precursor of many of the techniques we see used by Presidents and other politicians today. Hamilton is the Hopkins P. Breazeale LSU Foundation Professor of Journalism in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He also is a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hamilton also serves as a senior associate for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The book is published by the LSU Press.

WARNING: COVID-19 Cases Increasing as Cold Weather Approaches

Despite protestations from some politicians, most medical experts and scientists are concerned with the rise of COVID-19 cases across the country, even before colder weather and flu season arrives. Numbers are rising in 33 states plus Puerto Rico with approximately 40,000 new cases daily. This is a major concern, says Dr. Kenneth Johnson, Executive Dean of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and Chief Medical Affairs Director at Ohio University. Overall, we really haven't made adequate progress in slowing the virus, he notes. He also worries about cold weather on the horizon. Colder weather forces more people inside where air circulation may be compromised allowing droplets and air contamination to spread more easily. In addition, colder weather brings on flu season. The flu plus COVID-19 may be a lethal combination. Combatting the coronavirus also is made more difficult when science and politics clash, according to Dr. Johnson. People, too often to their detriment, question the science behind trying to control the pandemic. He cites conflicting edicts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other governmental agencies as a source for public confusion, Dr. Johnson says that a "safe and effective" vaccine distributed throughout the country to all citizens is the only way to effectively curb spread of the disease. He worries, however, about the conflicts between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the White House over the pre-release testing of vaccines. He suggests that the FDA releasing raw test data to the scientific world will allow medical and scientific experts to assess the vaccine. He says that transparency is the key to public acceptance. Until a vaccine is available, Dr. Johnson heartily recommends using a mask, social distancing, and frequent handwashing as alternatives. He stresses that using or not using masks should not be based on politics but instead, be based upon good medical practices.

"A Presidential Election Like No Other" Says Veteran TIME Correspondent

With the COVID-19 pandemic plus racial turmoil across the nation, we are facing a Presidential Campaign and election like no other, says Philip Elliott, veteran Washington reporter and TIME'S Washington correspondent. As Public Health issues, the economy and racial inequities take center stage in this Presidential election year, an onslaught of books and media revelations have further complicated and muddled this election cycle, according to Elliott. Just recently there has been the publication of journalist Bob Woodward's book "Rage" and the accompanying recordings about President Trump's handling of the coronavirus threat, the military and foreign policy. Then there is the new book by Andrew Weissman disclosing political interference with Robert Mueller's investigation of President Trump. The New York Times has unveiled an in-depth look at Trump's tax records for multiple years showing he has either paid no or very little federal income tax for decades. Add to all of that, we have foreign interests continuing to meddle in our elections through sophisticated disinformation campaigns. Polls are being questioned based on 2016 results and as a result no one feels they have a grasp on what is really happening with voters, Elliott noted. Also, the campaign season has been shortened by "early voting' in many states, which means that many voters are deciding earlier than ever who to vote for or against. All of this leads to a mish-mash of election coverage with tides changing and new issues arising multiple times each day. It is difficult, if not impossible, for the average person to keep up with the news and all the changing developments. In short, this election season seems to be far more chaotic than usual, Elliott says. To try to keep people abreast of daily Washington DC news from the White House to Capitol Hill and the Courts, Elliott writes for a new free newsletter that TIME sends to subscribers. It's called The D.C. Brief and it is available through https://time.com/tag/the-dc-brief/.

Election Security and Foreign Power Interference are Still Top Agenda Items

Although it was found that foreign governments meddled with our 2016 Presidential Elections, the 2020 elections are still being plagued by foreign interference. However, more governmental units are working together to combat a repeat of the 2016 insurgence, according to Philip Ewing, veteran Washington reporter and Elections Security Editor for National Public Radio. The FBI as well as numerous intelligence agencies have targeted interference from Russia, China, Iran and other countries. This type of meddling involves foreign entities trolling Americans to sow extreme divisiveness among voting groups and against candidates, Ewing says. This election there is more coordinated government action, not only among agencies, but with social media companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter regulating content, Ewing adds. Despite the amped up government attacks against outside interference, it still continues, according to Ewing. He also indicates that foreign governments have solicited America citizens to sow divisiveness and suspicions about the validity of our election processes. Even though havoc is still being played with public opinion about our electoral processes, Ewing says that the integrity of the individual vote is still highly secure He cites various studies that show that the voting processes in states, whether mail or in-person voting, are highly accurate and not subject to widespread fraud as President Donald Trump espouses. Ewing also notes that with early voting the campaign season is no longer targeted for the late October crescendo but instead starts to reach its peak by mid-September. Although our elections are still being interfered with by foreign entities, Ewing notes that voter suppression issues are just as important to address domestically.

Election Security and Foreign Power Interference are Still Top Agenda Items

How to Overcome Racism in Newsrooms from a Journalist with Experience

There are too few African Americans in the country's newsrooms and especially in news management positions. In 2020 racism still exists in America's media companies from the smallest to the largest. Sometimes it is evident in hiring practices, promotions, or just in daily professional life. Traversing this media landscape is often difficult for Black journalists, says Allison Hunter, journalist, educator, activist and mother of two college age sons. Hunter has fought the racial battles within news organizations for the bulk of her career and she shares how she has survived professionally. She has over 20 years of experience in commercial television as an executive producer, assistant news director, and interim news director. She has worked from Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati to Chicago and Los Angeles. Hunter is currently the Editor in Chief of WOUB News as part of WOUB Public Media at Ohio University. In this edition of WOUB's Spectrum podcast, Hunter shares some of her survival tips and talks about the advice that she gives young students about to embark on a journalism career in an industry replete with racism. She talks about how they need to have a great grasp of who they are as people and to be true to themselves – especially when they are slighted or perhaps targeted based on race. They need to always be thinking about and analyzing their positions and how they can advance professionally without compromising themselves, Hunter adds. She also talks about how she has had to compartmentalize her life being a journalist, an educator and a mother of two black young men. She also has to compartmentalize her personal passions for change and activism for movements for equal rights. Juggling these various aspects of life can be difficult, Hunter says. She advises her young journalism students who feel overwhelmed to sometimes just take a break...unplug and do whatever works to clear your head. Otherwise, things can become muddled and more problematic.

Racism Permeates Our Entertainment and Music Industries Says Expert

Historically, racism has permeated the American entertainment and music industries including movies, radio, television, and the recording industries. Blacks and black life have not been portrayed accurately and African Americans have been kept out of prime roles. However, there is some hope that the industries are taking seriously the recent claims of systemic racism and are trying, to some degree, to improve. So says Dr. Akil Houston, associate professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Ohio University. He notes that some improvements have been made since the recent killings of black men and women by white police officers but that any progress will be slow coming to an entertainment industry that is still white-centric. Dr. Houston highlights the racism that has been standard practice in the movie industry, television, and radio since their inception. He also talks about how racism has long been the cornerstone of the music industry. He is a cultural studies scholar who is multifaceted. He is a filmmaker, DJ, social critic, and hip-hop scholar. Dr. Houston specializes in Africana media studies. His scholarship and research are interdisciplinary. He notes that "looking white" was a distinct advantage of early black entertainers in getting roles. He points to Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll as examples. He claims they got roles that dark-skinned blacks couldn't get. He also explained that many of the early roles for blacks on radio comedies and dramas were actually played by whites trying to talk in so-called black dialects. Dr. Houston sees some encouragement in the explosion of new television shows, movies, and series through outlets such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. He says that the current genres give more space for a truer depiction of black life in America. He also says the younger generation of Americans are less likely to stereotype race and are more culturally diverse and inclusive than previous generations.

Voter Suppression Targets the Black Vote and Other Non-White People

There are major concerns about attempts being made around the country to suppress the black vote along with other non-white populations. This is especially true in urban areas and in the South. Polling places have been closed in some areas and voting machines have been limited thereby creating long lines of potential voters. These suppression attempts are teamed with President Donald Trump's attacks on mail-in voting to raise doubts about the sanctity and security of our Presidential Election. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge has studied these issues in-depth and chairs the House Administration Committee's Subcommittee on Elections. She and several of her colleagues are working feverishly to stem this tide but time is running short for this upcoming election. She has been working on a new Voting Rights Act that improves the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was gutted by the United States Supreme Court in 2013. Congresswoman Fudge also has championed the Vote SAFE Act which promotes voter security and provides $3.6 billion in funding to help states conduct safe and secure elections. She claims that President Trump has "systematically destroyed the trust and confidence in our election system" and that must stop, she adds. The Congresswoman knows that major election changes are unlikely prior to this Presidential Election. Therefore, she urges all people, but especially African Americans and other people of color to do everything possible to vote and make sure their vote counts. She highlights that this election is so important to create change that will allow federal legislation to pass to protect voting for all people in the future. Congresswoman Fudge joined Congress in 2008. Before that she was the first black and the first woman mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio and she also worked in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.

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