Davar Iran Ardalan, Senior Producer
Your response to our series on Race & Politics has been so overwhelming, I just had to post some of the letters we have gotten via email. Scroll below to read some. Also, to give you a sense of what we are up to this week click below for my Weekly Top 5: (I will post similar behind the scenes vlogs as much as humanly possible)
Race is Real - from Phyllis Allen who listens to us via member station KERA
You guys keep floundering around puzzling over the "race card" or some other indication that Barack Obama is Black. Well let me just make it easy for you. Race is real. I dont care whether Barack addresses it or not, its the 1000 pound gorilla sitting right next to him in the room. There will be voters who planned to support him. They went into the voting booth to vote for him, but then remembered that he doesnt look like the Presidents on their money or in their history book and they will vote for someone who does. Until we can accept the fact that race is real and that it affects our decisions on schools, places to live, shop and eat we will always stand on the sidelines wringing our hands saying, "How can we be racist? We cant, can we? Im not racist. Am I?" Just accept that there are differences.
Race Issues in Elections - from Nancy Vian who listens to us via KQED
Regarding the Aug. 3 discussion with 2 voters regarding their refusal to vote for Obama, based on race. I am a 65 year old white woman, and am outraged that NPR has show-cased the bigotry of these people - made worse by follow-up the comments of Juan William, beginning with "The joy of hearing these comments..." We are voting for an individual here, not a race. Please, NPR, stop interviewing "the man on the street"- they are not respresentative of all of us, and such bigotry & ignorance shouldnt be dignified in this way.
Politics and Racism - from Patricia Harris
In reference to your piece this morning, the thought occurred to me that the question should be: How does race affect blacks among blacks? We (blacks) are the worst perpetrators when it comes to judging people by the color of their skin. For example, we still indulge in the "paper bag" test (the lighter the better), "good hair"/"bad hair," and "long hair" vs. "short, nappy hair." With a few exceptions, the majority of celebrities, whether in sports or films, are married to white or "exotic-looking" women. As long as we (black people) are ashamed of our skin color, it is ludicrous to resent white people an other nonblack people for their disdain of black people. Perhaps you would consider doing a story on that topic.
I was very disappointed to see Mr. Obama play the race card. He started it with his ad about his funny name and the pictures on our paper bills. Thank you for reading this.
Race and Politics - from Susanna Lang who listens to us via WBEZ
As a teacher and parent in the Chicago Public Schools, I listened with interest and sympathy to the two parents Liane Hansen interviewed this morning. My son has not been threatened or mocked because of his white skin--his long hair is more of an issue at his school--but my African American, African immigrant and Latino students (from many points of origin) frequently lash out against each other and sometimes me. It is a sorrow to me, and I feel it as my failure when I cannot help my students create meaningful relationships, not beyond race as Trish Callahan hoped, but through an authentic sharing of their common humanity, which includes race. I am who I am because of my family stories of coming to this country from Russia and Germany my students are also a culmination of their family histories, including their arrival here on slave ships or with coyotes. Why do we need to deny what grounds us in order to accept each other? Why do we need to pretend that our presidential candidates are not of different races in order to have debates on the issues?
As a parent and teacher, I also know that children are capable of great cruelty along with great kindness. If they do not have racial differences to make conflicts out of, they will pick on each other because of height or weight or clothes or speech patterns or long hair....The bigger issue in the classroom and on the playground is how to help children move beyond conflict, whether it is racially motivated or not.
Conversation on Race - from Davis Oldham who listens to us via KUOW
Liane Hansen, during the August 2 Weekend Edition "Conversation on Race," repeatedly asked her guests whether it is possible to "ignore" race. I was disturbed by the presumption that "ignoring" race is preferable. What about talking about it honestly and trying to come to grips with it? What about recognizing all the many different histories that live around and in us? As a White person I feel it is essential that we notice race and acknowledge the reality of racism, the overwhelming majority of which in our society has been and continues to be directed toward people of color by White folks.
The way the story moved from a historical look at White violence against Blacks after the Civil War, to a focus on Black kids' hostility toward a White student today, reinforced the impression many Whites have that discrimination is a thing of the past and that today it's "reverse racism" that's the problem. In fact, studies repeatedly find that Blacks and other people of color are far more likely to experience discrimination in education, when seeking jobs, car loans, housing-all aspects of social and economic life. No discussion of race in America is complete if it *ignores* this reality.