Current Event May 18, 2017
There is a push in the comics industry to introduce characters that are diverse in race, gender, and sexual orientation. A large motivator for this change is the belief that children from diverse backgrounds deserve to see people in heroic roles that look like them and/or share their gender or sexual orientation. As a result, major comic publishers, such as Marvel, are introducing more characters that are people of color, female, and LGBTQ. Listen to learn more about the growing diversity in comic book characters and the controversies surrounding it.
Current Event May 10, 2017
It has been 25 years since riots in Los Angeles left more than 50 people dead and lead to around 6,000 arrests and roughly $1 billion in property damage. Despite a massive campaign to invest in rebuilding the city, L.A. has still not been completely repaired to where it was before the riots. In the aftermath of the destruction, many hoped that the “Rebuild L.A.” campaign would lead to stronger communities with more black-owned businesses. However, Rebuild L.A. is seen by many as a failure. Listen to learn more about the legacy of the L.A. riots and how these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.
ELA High School
Throughout his life in South Africa, playwright Athol Fugard witnessed firsthand the cruelty and injustice of apartheid. Not only did racism fracture the country he loved so dearly, but it also created profound strain in his relationship with his father, whom he calls “a huge bigot.” Many elements of that difficult and complex relationship resonate throughout Athol’s play “‘Master Harold‘. . . and the Boys,” which became a Broadway hit at the peak of the anti-apartheid movement. Lisa Fugard, Athol’s daughter, also grew up in South Africa but left the country to pursue an acting career and later became a writer. Listen to hear about how both father and daughter explored their personal and the political struggles brought about by apartheid.
Current Event April 19, 2017
African-American artist Kerry James Marshall has made it his life goal to make black culture “indispensable” and “undeniable” to the art world. Marshall has dedicated his career to painting black subjects and depicting African-American experience through art. He hopes that in showing his work in major museums, he is combatting the historical underrepresentation of black culture in history. Listen to learn more about the artist Kerry James Marshall and his views on black culture in the art world.
Current Event March 6, 2017
In recent weeks, Jewish schools and community centers in at least a dozen states have received bomb threats. In addition, Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Missouri have been vandalized. Although it is unclear if these threats and attacks are the work of a few isolated individuals, the Jewish community believes they indicate a growing anti-Jewish sentiment. President Donald Trump has condemned the threats and vandalism, but so far there has been no direct government response. Listen to hear more about what the Jewish community is facing and the response they are hoping to see from law enforcement.
Current Event March 3, 2017
The reality television series the Bachelor/Bachelorette has been frequently criticized for the lack of diversity in its contestants and lead characters. Recently, the show has announced its first black Bachelorette. By including more people of color in the pool of contestants, the show’s executives hope to foster more diversity both in who wins the competition, and who is selected to be the lead in future seasons. Both scripted TV shows and reality TV shows have been criticized for not being diverse. Listen to this story and then debate the best way to increase diversity on TV.
Current Event January 13, 2017
People around the world experience racism. In the United States the Civil Rights act of of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race. It’s a civil law, which means companies could face fines if they break it. Countries respond to racism in different ways. In Brazil, in an effort to curb racism, the country had made it a criminal act to be racist. If caught and found guilty, you could go to jail. This audio story explores how even with laws against racism, the practice continues in Brazil. Listen and debate this question: Can racism be outlawed?
Current Event January 11, 2017
There are parallels between the race struggles of Martin Luther King half a century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement of today. This story tells of how attention is being brought to the disparities between races in the United States, and how the message has changed from an aspirational tone to a commitment to truth-telling. Protesters in both struggles were working to transform America and focus on respect. Listen to hear more about civil rights activism in this interview recorded on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Current Event December 14, 2016
The alt-right movement, which has been associated with white nationalism, is receiving more attention since the U.S. Presidential election. There is a debate about the best term to describe this movement. Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” states that this is a movement of consciousness and identity for European people in the 21st century. Leaders of this movement reject the suggestion that the movement is either racist or white supremacist, although Spencer ended a speech with “Hail, Trump!” while supporters made the Nazi salute. Listen to hear more about this group and the debate around it.
ELA Middle School
Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist, folklorist and writer. She had a deep love for Eatonville, Florida, the town where she grew up and one of the first all-black towns created after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. In this story you’ll hear a commentator explain that Hurston’s writing “instantly transports” her to Hurston’s world, and she is moved and inspired by the strong women characters Hurston created. Listen to learn more about Hurston and why the commentator believes the author deserves the recognition she has received.
Current Event October 14, 2016
Implicit racial bias has been discussed in recent police shootings, preschool suspensions, and in both the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Unconscious attitudes or stereotypes can lead us to draw conclusions about each other that are sometimes opposite of what we consciously think or believe. In this study on bias, over one hundred preschool teachers looked for disruptive behavior in some children more than in others. Listen to hear how race and empathy are involved in how children are viewed, and debate whether you think everyone has a bias.
Current Event October 11, 2016
National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in September 2016. It started with a vision and a mission to tell the story of America through the lens of black history and culture. Many people have given parts of their lives to this museum, which has collected 37,000 artifacts. The first item to come into the building was Jim Crow-era segregated train car that was lowered underground. Currently, 3,000 artifacts are displayed in the museum, and the curators will keep collecting for future exhibitions. Listen to hear more about this museum that was first proposed by black veterans of the civil war, and was recently opened to the public.
Current Event October 6, 2016
Recent police shootings that resulted in the deaths of African-American men have led to protests and serious scrutiny of law enforcement. While there have been many incidents like these in the two years since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the number of fatalities has not accurately been tracked. This makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of police reform trainings. Listen to hear more about the connection between increased scrutiny of law enforcement and police use of deadly force.
Current Event September 30, 2016
Across college campuses, the idea of "trigger warnings," giving a heads-up to students before uncomfortable topics are discussed, and creating safe spaces for students to feel comfortable talking about their experiences, is gaining traction. Some people think this provides support for people who have been victimized and prevents triggering a recurrence of past trauma. Others people think this makes it possible for students to avoid certain topics and different perspectives that make them feel uncomfortable. The University of Chicago has decided not to give ‘trigger warnings’. Listen to this story to understand why and then debate the different perspectives on this policy.
Current Event September 8, 2016
The faces of comic books are changing with the times. The original superheroes in comic books are almost all white men. Think of Superman, Batman and Spiderman characters. The next generation of superheroes is far more diverse. DC Comics is releasing four new Superman characters who reflect different cultures. New Superman #1 is Kong Kenan, a chinese boy who inherits some of Clark Kent’s powers. Listen to the story to hear from one of the writers of New Superman #1 talk about why he thinks it is important to show diversity in comics.
Current Event September 1, 2016
Colleges and universities in the U.S. can consider a student’s race when they are deciding if they will admit that student or not. Selecting a racially balanced student body has been important to many colleges and now the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the affirmative-action program at the University of Texas at Austin is legal. The difficulty will be to consider race without discriminating against other students during the admissions process. Listen to hear more about the issue of promoting diversity in admissions policies of colleges and universities.
Current Event August 26, 2016
New research shows that black students in kindergarten through high school are almost four times as likely to be suspended from school than white students. Some people think that suspension should not be allowed in preschool at all. One reason given for the higher levels of discipline of black, male students is implicit bias. Specialists say that with more funding for public education, preschool teachers can receive better training, and more support to avoid resorting to suspension. Listen to the story to hear about one school that is making an effort to help disruptive students, rather than kick them out.