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.
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.
Langston Hughes, an African American writer who lived and wrote during the first half of the 20th century, remains one of the most celebrated writers in American history. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. In this story, a woman is pleasantly surprised to find one of his poems among her granddaughter’s school papers. She shares with her granddaughter the many things she admired about Hughes, and the many reasons he was such an influential poet and person during his time. She speaks about Hughes’s early life, his travels, and his lyrical poetry. Listen to learn more about this famous poet, who continues to inspire younger generations today.
The play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry reveals the struggles black families faced as they attempted to achieve the American dream in the 1950s. The play follows the lives of a working class family, the Youngers, from the South Side of Chicago. The Younger family received an insurance check, providing an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. The audio story offers a glimpse into an alarming event that happened to author Hansberry’s family when they moved into a white neighborhood during segregation. Listen to learn about Lorraine Hansberry’s motivation for writing this iconic story and why A Raisin in the Sun made such an impact on American theater.
In Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella "Heart of Darkness," an English sailor tells the tale of his voyage on the Congo River in Africa. The novel, which is set during the height of British imperialism in Africa, contrasts “civilized” Europeans with “uncivilized” African natives and describes the brutal treatment of Africans by European traders. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart" provides a contrast to Conrad’s story, describing the British colonization of Africa from the perspective of Africans. In this audio story, Achebe talks about how his understanding of "Heart of Darkness" changed over time.
Current Event March 17, 2016
Many of the characters in books written for students are white males. They don’t reflect everyone’s background. One girl became frustrated when she couldn’t connect to the characters. In response, she began to gather books about black girls and then give these books to schools. Now that she has exceeded her original goal and collected almost 4,000 books, the girl has started to consider how to impact schools in an even larger way. Listen to the story hear more about this remarkable campaign.