Equity

Race, Culture & Ethnicity

Comediennes Of Color: 'I Am Funny'

Nov 6, 2013

This past weekend's Saturday Night Live was the most-watched episode of the season, but viewers may have been looking for something other than laughs. Saturday's show followed weeks of criticism over SNL's painfully obvious lack of diversity.

In Florida, one of the nation's largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system.

It's a move away from so-called "zero tolerance" policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a "school to prison pipeline."

Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.

Just months after Wade Ingram became police chief in Gary, Ind., in January 2012, he began an unusual initiative: visiting the family of each of the city's homicide victims.

That's meant many visits for Ingram.

Hundreds of people have been killed in northern Nigeria this year. The violence is blamed on Boko Haram, an extremist group that claims to be fighting against westernization. Host Michel Martin learns more from NPR's Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who recently visited the town where Boko Haram was born.

Big box retailer Target said it will remove questions about prior arrests on its job applications, but many companies still ask. Host Michel Martin speaks with Madeline Neighly from the National Employment Law Project and Elizabeth Milito from the National Federation of Independent Businesses about the pros and cons of the practice.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Today, we're going to spend some time talking about some important issues in criminal justice, including what happens after people have served their time. Retailer Target recently announced that it would remove questions about an applicant's criminal history from the initial job applications, but many companies still do it. We'll talk about why this has become a growing focus of advocates.

Many couples who struggle with infertility say they would go to the ends of the earth to have a child. Some use surrogate mothers in the United States, but the high cost and legal complications keep that option out of reach for many families. So some Americans are going global --to countries like India– to make it happen.

Aja Brown made history this past summer when she became the youngest mayor in the history of Compton, Calif. There is a lot of buzz there around the charismatic 31-year-old.

The city of about 100,000 people just south of Los Angeles has long struggled with gangs and street violence. But it wasn't always that way. Compton flourished in the '50s and '60s, when its factory jobs were a beacon for African-Americans fleeing the South.

Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta's New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.

In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.

New Scholarship Boosts Urban Art

Nov 4, 2013

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

And now we'll continue with this theme of using hip-hop to teach. When legendary lyricist and DJ MC Lyte first appeared on the national scene 1988, she wasn't thinking about education. This is her hit song, "Lyte as a Rock."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYTE AS A ROCK")

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

A new billboard in the nation's capital is stirring some controversy. It tells jury members to forget the law and vote their conscience. It reads - "Jury duty? Know your rights. Good jurors nullify bad laws." And it's caught the attention of prosecutors, not surprisingly. The group behind the ads is called the Fully Informed Jury Association. It says jurors should acquit defendants if they disagree with the law, even if all evidence points towards a guilty verdict.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, activists in Washington, D.C. are asking jury members to vote their conscience not the law. We'll ask why some people think jury nullification is the only way for minorities to get a fair day in court. That's in just a few minutes.

Cutting SNAP Benefits Not A Snap Decision

Nov 4, 2013

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll get an update on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. But first, we turn to an issue that affects one out of every seven humans in America, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. Back in 2009, in the depths of the recession, President Obama increased SNAP benefits using stimulus funds, but the temporary increase expired this past Friday.

Amy Tan was 200 pages into a new novel when she attended a large exhibition on Shanghai life in the early 1900s. While there, she bought a book she thought might help her as she researched details on life in the Old City. She stopped turning pages when she came upon a group portrait.

Earl Lloyd became the first black man to play in the NBA 63 years ago this week. Lloyd was a forward for the Washington Capitols who grew up in Virginia. He didn't break the league's color barrier (the New York Knicks' Wat Masaka, a Japanese-American point guard, beat him to it by a few years), but it was a seminal moment for the league, which is now about 80-percent black.

Why should Saturday Night Live care that there are no black women in its cast of comedians?

That question has percolated through my Twitter feeds and Facebook pages over the past few days, thanks to some questions I asked on social media before talking over the issue Friday with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. And it's an understandable reaction.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. Joining us from Boston, healthcare consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Dr. Neil Minkoff. Here in our Washington, D.C. studios, Dave Zirin. He is sports editor at The Nation. And Corey Dade is a contributing editor for The Root. Take it away Jimi.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for Back Talk. That's where we hear from you. Editor Ammad Omar is back with us once again. What's going on today, Ammad?

Running On Faith To Lose Weight

Nov 1, 2013

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, the men's pro-basketball season is jumping off this week, and the Barbershop guys will talk about their pics and if anybody has got what it takes to stop the Miami Heat from a three-peat. But first, it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program where we talk about matters of faith and spirituality.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we mentioned, the new police chief of Sanford, Florida, where the Trayvon Martin shooting took place, has now issued new guidelines for neighborhood watch groups and volunteers. We wanted to hear more about that, so we've called NPR correspondent Greg Allen, who's been covering the story. Greg, thanks so much for joining us once again.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Oh, my pleasure, Michel.

MARTIN: So what specifically are the major changes called for in these guidelines?

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to spend the first part of this hour talking about a case in Florida that drew so much national attention at the end of last year and the first part of is one. And that's the killing of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by the neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Now the new police chief in Sanford, Florida has made some big changes in the Neighborhood Watch Program there and we'll tell you about those.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And as you just heard, Nikki Giovanni has inspired many people with her poetry and other writings. So we decided to turn the tables and ask what inspires her. As part of our occasional series In Your Ear, Nikki Giovanni shares the music that moves her.

NIKKI GIOVANNI: Hi, this is Nikki Giovanni. I'm a poet. And I'm listening to Jane Monheit, "Save Your Love For Me."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR ME")

Enter the phrase "Chinese fire drill" into YouTube and you'll find page upon page of videos of a classic car prank that's been popular since the 1960s.

Here are some things we've been musing on over the last few days. Share yours on Twitter or shout us out in the comments below.

"We shine because they hate us/floss 'cuz they degrade us." After two young, black customers accused the high-end retailer Barneys of racially profiling them after they made expensive purchases there, those customers themselves came in for criticism. Just why were these kids who probably aren't rich spending their money so recklessly?

John Legend On Marriage, Music And 'Genius' Kanye West

Oct 31, 2013

John Legend is already an R&B legend, even at a relatively young age. His buttery sound and sexy lyrics have earned him nine Grammy awards. But it's been awhile since he has delivered a solo album, and one with all of his own original material. But now he is back, with an album called Love in the Future.

Halloween is — uh, how do you say? — high season for writing about race and culture. The list of celebrities, stores and college freshmen sporting racist costumes — plus the inevitable backlash — means these stories practically write themselves.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Uganda, "Cancer Is Death"

Oct 31, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S. is a fanfare of pink paraphernalia. But in developing nations like Uganda, cancer is stigmatized to the point that families often lie about their loved one's cause of death. Host Michel Martin speaks with journalist Joanne Silberner about her award-winning reporting on cancer around the world.

The Obama administration is defending the Affordable Care Act over its faulty website, and reports that Americans are losing insurance coverage because of the law. To sort out the truth from the rumors, host Michel Martin speaks with Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News and technology developer Clay Johnson.

Host Michel Martin talks with the Beauty Shop ladies about the thin line between creative and offensive Halloween costumes. They also discuss claims of racially profiling by retailer Barneys.

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