ELA High School
A group of Asian Americans were asked the question: Do you consider yourself brown? Some said “yes,” others said “no,” and the reasons they gave for their answers varied. For some, their answer was based solely on their skin tone. For others, their answer was more complicated and took into account cultural and social factors. In this audio story, a group of Asian Americans discuss the discrimination they have faced based on their skin color. Listen to learn more about why some Asian Americans do or do not consider themselves “brown” and how the way others view them affects their lives.
ELA High School
Consumer culture in the United States has been a fixture of the holiday season for years, particularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving–also known as “Black Friday.” That’s the inspiration for the title story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s latest book of speculative fiction, Friday Black. In it, he addresses the topics of race and class as they relate to American consumer culture. Listen to hear an interview with the author as he discusses how his experience of these factors influences his work.
ELA Middle School
Charles Johnson’s book Middle Passage is considered a modern classic, in part because so much of the story told in the novel is seen as a reflection on the history of race and what it means to be black in America. In the book, the main character, Rutherford Calhoun, a free black man, unknowingly boards a ship that’s part of the illegal slave trade. His experience on board forces him to clarify his own racial identity. In this audio story, we hear different perspectives, including the author’s, on the story the book tells and its important and relevant themes.
ELA High School
What defines your identity? Is it what you believe? Where you were born? Or what you look like? In this audio story, African American poet, writer, and artist Claudia Rankine talks about her exploration of the connections between race and blonde hair. Rankine’s initial response to the question, “Why might a person choose to go blonde?” was that people simply wanted to lighten their hair. But she soon wondered if there might be more to it. To find out, she interviewed and photographed women of all skin tones who chose to dye their hair blonde. The result was a gallery exhibit entitled “Stamped.” Listen to hear about what the artist discovered when she explored the connections between race, identity, and blondeness.
Current Event October 31, 2018
The annual MacArthur Foundation Fellowship awards, known as “genius grants,” are a very highly respected prize dedicated to “celebrating and inspiring the creative potential of individuals.” Among this year’s recipients is Reverend William Barber II, whose work aims at increasing awareness of problems such as poverty and racism by using creative approaches to activism. Listen to hear about Barber’s efforts to improve American lives and how he plans to use the grant to support their continuation.
Current Event October 16, 2018
Originally organized by the Jefferson estate and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, an exhibit called “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello” has been expanded to include recently discovered items associated with Sally Hemings. Hemings was an enslaved woman owned by Thomas Jefferson and also the mother of several of his children. Listen to hear one of their descendants, who now works at Monticello, reflect on the complexity of American history as represented in the exhibit.
ELA High School
More people have been deported from the U.S. in the last decade, starting under the Obama administration, than at any other point in history. Deportations occur for any number of reasons–criminal activity, improper paperwork, and so on–but regardless of the reason, they always have an impact far beyond the person who is removed from the country. Listen to hear how having her father deported has affected one teen and her family.
Current Event September 25, 2018
Interest in the upcoming midterm elections is higher than it has been in a long time, yet many Americans who are eligible to vote do not do so. More people tend to vote when there is a presidential race on the ballot. However, elections between those races (called midterms), which include important Congressional races, also have a significant impact on the lives of Americans. Listen to hear why some Americans who are able to vote have chosen not to cast a ballot and what that may mean for the election outcomes.
Current Event September 18, 2018
A 26-year old black man was shot and killed in his own Dallas apartment by a white off-duty police officer who told investigators that she mistakenly entered his apartment, thinking it was her own. The officer was arrested for manslaughter and released on bond. Listen to hear reflections on this tragedy from the victim’s mother and others affected by his death.
Current Event August 15, 2018
A black state representative from Oregon was going door-to-door to speak with the voters she represents in her district when one of the neighborhood residents called the police. The resident thought the state representative was suspicious for knocking on doors, likely because of her race. Listen to find out how the state representative responded to the police and hear what she thinks can be done to make situations like these better in the future.
ELA High School
Race in America is a complex and difficult topic. This is especially the case for children adopted into families of a different race than themselves. Listen to hear how one girl tries to navigate the waters of race after being adopted into a white family.
ELA High School
Angie Thomas’ novel, "The Hate U Give", tells the story of Starr, a young woman of color, who turns toward activism after witnessing the murder of her friend Khalil by a police officer when she is 16 years old. The novel is closely modeled after Thomas’ experiences as a student, and on the stories of several of the young men who have been victims of racialized police violence in recent years. In this audio story, the author talks about what inspired her to write this groundbreaking novel.
Current Event May 9, 2018
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama. This memorial is devoted to the more than 4,000 African Americans who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. Killing for an alleged offense and without a legal trial was allowed in some parts of the South during this time period. Visitors are reminded of what happened in our past and encouraged to confront America’s continued racial divide. Listen to this story about this memorial that helps us to remember the thousands of Americans who were killed because of racism.
Current Event April 30, 2018
Two black men were arrested at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were there for a business meeting and when they didn’t order drinks, the manager called the police. The men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing and were later released. Starbucks is now conducting racial bias education for all employees at their 8,000 stores. Implicit bias is our automatic processing of negative stereotypes that become embedded in our brains. The workshop is hoping to take a step toward retraining people’s brains to see others differently. Listen to hear more about the ways people can override our racial bias.
Current Event April 26, 2018
The shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police in Sacramento, California, sparked outrage and demands for police reform. In Sacramento there is a call to rebuild communities of color. Stephon’s brother, Ste’Vante Clark is part of a group of new activists, called Build. Black. Coalition. They want to lessen the disparity around education, job opportunity, and housing, which affects the people living in predominantly black neighborhoods. Listen to hear more about how this tragic event is sparking activism to try to transform black communities.
Current Event April 25, 2018
In 1967, President Johnson addressed the nation after five days of rioting that was motivated by racial inequality in Detroit. Johnson announced a commission on civil disorders, which would attempt to explain why so many of the country’s cities erupted in riots. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, called "The Kerner Report," determined that white racism and the black frustration at lack of economic opportunity was the cause of the riots. Many people at the time disagreed with the conclusions. Listen to learn more about the Kerner Report and what this report can tell us about racial tensions today.
Current Event April 18, 2018
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. flew to Memphis to support sanitation workers during a strike. In 1968 the working conditions were so dangerous for trash collectors that two men were killed on the job. The workers organized to demand better working conditions and higher pay. In a climate of racism they demanded to be treated with humanity and respect as men. When King traveled to Memphis, he was assassinated. Listen to this story to hear how Memphis has changed in the last 50 years.
Current Event April 17, 2018
A group of Dallas teens are learning history on their spring break. They are taking a civil rights tour from Dallas to Brownsville, Texas and places in-between to learn more about Mexican-American history. Students are watching traditional Aztec dances, learning about community responsibility, and hearing from Mexican-American activists. Listen to hear more about this program and how it’s inspiring students to learn about and be proud of their history.
Current Event April 10, 2018
In the United States during the era of slavery, it was illegal for all African Americans, enslaved and free, to learn to read and write. But in 1863 the first school for freed slaves opened and by the end of the 19th century, black colleges supported civil rights activism and helped redefine what it meant to be black in America. A new documentary tells about the history of black colleges and the goals of these educational institutions. Listen to this story to hear more about the creation and development of historically black colleges and universities.