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Scene on Radio

Scene on Radio

Scene on Radio is a Peabody-nominated podcast that dives deeply into issues central to American society, exploring who we were and who we are. Recent many-part series include Seeing White, looking at the roots and meaning of white supremacy, and *MEN, *exploring the past and present of sexism and patriarchy. Produced and hosted by John Biewen, Scene on Radio comes from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS) and is distributed by PRX.

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Episodes

S4 E12: More Democracy

What will it take to make the United States a more fully-functioning democracy, and how can we, as citizens, bring about that change?

By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Michael Waldman, Jennifer Cohn, and Sanford Levinson.

The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

2020-06-10
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S4 E11: More Truth

How well do the news media serve us as citizens, and what role does the notion of ?objective,? or ?neutral,? journalism play in the failings of American democracy?

Story reported by Lewis Raven Wallace, with host/producer John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with David Mindich, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Kevin Young.

The series editor is Loretta Williams. *The View from Somewhere *editor: Ramona Martinez. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2020-05-27
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S4 E10: Schooled for Democracy

In most American schools, children *hear about *democracy, but don?t get to *practice *it. What would a more engaged brand of civics education look like?

Story reported by Ben James, with host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Arielle Jennings, Hilary Moss, and Nikole Hannah-Jones.

The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by the Summer Street Brass Band, Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

Photo: Stephen Buckley, Jelicity Mercado, Bella Goncalves, and Angelica Pareja, eighth-grade students at Pyne Arts Magnet School in Lowell, Massachusetts, with their award at Civics Day in Boston, December 2019.

2020-05-13
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S4 E9: American Empire

?America? and ?empire.? Do those words go together? If so, what kind of imperialism does the U.S. practice, and how has American empire changed over time? 

By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Nikhil Singh and Daniel Immerwahr.

The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and
Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

2020-04-29
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S4 E8: The Second Redemption

The conservative, neoliberal counterrevolution in the face of expanding democracy in America: It started long before Donald Trump. Even before Ronald Reagan and his like-minded counterpart across the Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher.  

By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Nancy MacLean, Wendy Brown, and Rhon Manigault-Bryant.  

The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

 

2020-04-15
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S4 E7: Freedom Summer

In the summer of 1964, about a thousand young Americans, black and white, came together in Mississippi to place themselves in the path of white supremacist power and violence. They issued a bold pro-democracy challenge to the nation and the Democratic Party.

Produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with John Lewis, Bob Moses, Unita Blackwell, Hollis Watkins, Dorie Ladner, and many others.

The series editor is Loretta Williams. Freedom song recordings courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways. Other music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

Photo: A Freedom Summer worker in Mississippi, 1964. Photo by Steve Schapiro.  

2020-04-01
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Bonus Episode: Pandemic America

In this special episode, host John Biewen and series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika discuss
the coronavirus pandemic and how the crisis, and the nation?s response to it, echo themes we?re exploring in our Season 4 series on democracy in the United States.

The season?s editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Lucas Biewen and Eric Neveux.

Photo: Durham, North Carolina, mayor Steve Schewel announces a stay-at-home order on March 25. Photo by Julia Wall, courtesy of the News & Observer.

2020-03-27
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S4 E6: A New Deal

The Great Depression presented a crisis not only for the U.S. economy, but for American democracy. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to save the nation?s system of government, and its economic system, while reforming both. What did the New Deal achieve, and not achieve?

Reported and produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Eric Rauchway and Cybelle Fox. The series editor is Loretta Williams.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

Photo: Men fighting during a strike at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, 1937. Image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

As mentioned in the episode, an article by public historian Larry DeWitt examining the widespread assertion that the exclusion of some occupations from the original Social Security old-age pension program was insisted on by southern segregationists: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n4/v70n4p49.html

2020-03-17
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S4 E5: Feminism in Black and White

People fighting for more democracy in the United States often have to struggle against sexism and racism. In fact, those two struggles are often inseparable?certainly from the perspective of black
women and some other women of color.

Reported and produced by host John Biewen, with Season 3 co-host Celeste Headlee and Season 4 collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Glenda Gilmore, Ashley Farmer, Sandra Arrington, and
Danielle McGuire.

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Eric Neveux. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2020-03-04
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S4 E4: The Second Revolution

After the Civil War, a surprising coalition tried to remake the United States into a real multiracial democracy for the first time. Reconstruction, as the effort was called, brought dramatic change to America. For a while.

Reported and produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series script editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Victoria Smalls, Brent Morris, Eric Foner, Kidada Williams, Bobby Donaldson, and Edward Baptist.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

Photo: Historian Bobby Donaldson of the University of South Carolina, at the South Carolina State House, Columbia, SC. Photo by John Biewen.

2020-02-19
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S4E3: The Cotton Empire

In the decades after America?s founding and the establishment of the Constitution, did the nation get better, more just, more democratic? Or did it double down on violent conquest and exploitation?  

Reported, produced, written, and mixed by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Robin Alario, Edward Baptist, Kidada Williams, and Keri Leigh Merritt.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

2020-02-05
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S4 E2: "The Excess of Democracy"

In the summer of 1787, fifty-five men got together in Philadelphia to write a new Constitution for the United States, replacing the new nation?s original blueprint, the Articles of Confederation. But why, exactly? What problems were the framers trying to solve? Was the Constitution designed to advance democracy, or to rein it in?

By producer/host John Biewen with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Woody Holton, Dan Bullen, and Price Thomas. The series editor is Loretta Williams.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2020-01-22
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S4 E1: Rich Man's Revolt

In the American Revolution, the men who revolted were among the wealthiest and most comfortable people in the colonies. What kind of revolution was it, anyway? Was it about a desire to establish democracy?or something else?

By producer/host John Biewen with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Davy Arch, Barbara Duncan, Rob Shenk, and Woody Holton. Edited by Loretta Williams.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2020-01-08
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Season 4 Trailer: The Land That Never Has Been Yet

Our season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we?ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States from its beginnings up to the present. Through field recordings and interviews with leading thinkers, we?ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like?How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not?Along the way, there?s a good chance that we?ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners? understanding of American history.

2019-12-18
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The End of Male Supremacy? (MEN, Part 12)

In our Season Three finale, co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen talk about where American culture goes from here, sexism-wise. And we hear from scholar Melvin Konner, who argues that we are in fact witnessing?and bringing about??the end of male supremacy.?

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine.
Music and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2018-12-12
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Domination (MEN, Part 11)

Host John Biewen dips into the world of sports talk radio, where guys talk not just about sports but also about how to be a man in twenty-first-century America. What John finds is more complicated than he expected, with revelations both encouraging and sobering. With co-host Celeste Headlee and experts David Nylund and Terry Real.  

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.

2018-11-28
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The Juggernaut (MEN, Part 10)

Writer Ben James and his wife Oona are raising their sons in a progressive and ?queer-friendly? New England town. They actively encourage the boys to be themselves, never mind those traditional gender norms around ?masculinity? and ?femininity.? All was well. Until the elder son, Huck, went to sixth grade. Story by Ben James, with hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen, and psychologist Terrence Real.

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, Blue Dot Sessions, and Kevin MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-11-14
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Be Like You (MEN, Part 9)

Lewis Wallace, female-assigned at birth, wanted to transition in the direction of maleness?in some ways. He shifted his pronouns, had surgery, starting taking testosterone. None of that meant he wanted to embrace everything that our culture associates with ?masculinity.? Story written and reported by Lewis Wallace, with co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee.

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Kevin
MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-10-31
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American Made (MEN, Part 8)

American history?law, economics, culture?has built different notions of masculinity (and femininity) for people of varying races and ethnicities.  A trip through a century of pop culture and the stereotyped images that white supremacy has manufactured and attached to Asian and African American men. With scholars Tim Yu and Mark Anthony Neal and co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee.

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-10-17
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Himpathy (MEN, Part 7)

Several years after Janey was sexually assaulted by her former boyfriend, Mathew, she told some of her closest friends, and her mother, what Mathew had done. Janey was so troubled by her loved ones? responses, or lack thereof, that she went back to them years later to record conversations about it all. In this episode: Janey?s story, and philosopher Kate Manne, who coined the term ?himpathy? in her 2017 book, *Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. *With co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee.

To hear more of Janey Williams? story and the conversations she had with friends, check out her podcast, "This Happened", available on most podcast apps and at thishappenedpodcast.com

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Kevin MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-10-03
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Warriors (MEN, Part 6)

Do nations fight wars because men are naturally violent? Or do societies condition men to embrace violence so they?ll fight the nation?s wars?

Along with co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee, this episode features reporting by Barry Lam of the Hi-Phi Nation podcast, with scholars Joshua Goldstein of American University, Tom Digby of Springfield College, and Graham Parsons of the United States Military Academy, aka West Point.

Music by Alex Weston, and Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music. Song fragment, ?Men,? by Loudon Wainwright III.

2018-09-19
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More Than Paper Cuts (MEN, Part 5)

The #MeToo Movement has shed a harsh light on sexual harassment in the workplace. Just how bad, and how pervasive, is sexism on the job in the U.S., from day-to-day expressions of disrespect all the way to rape? Spoiler: It?s bad.

Reported by Ibby Caputo. With researchers Hannah Riley Bowles of Harvard Kennedy School, Meg Bond of UMass Lowell, Peter Glick of Lawrence University, and Mily Treviño-Sauceda of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas.

Thanks to Tena Rubio for production support. Voiceover by Ruxandra Guidi.

Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Kevin MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-09-05
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Feminism in Black and White (MEN, Part 4)

The struggles against sexism and racism come together in the bodies, and the lives, of black women. Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen look at the intersections between male dominance and white supremacy in the United States, and the movements to overcome them, from the 1800s through the 2016 presidential election. Guests include scholars Glenda Gilmore, Ashley Farmer, and Danielle McGuire.

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music. 

2018-08-22
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Skeleton War (MEN, Part 3)

A few hundred years ago, the great thinkers of the Enlightenment began to declare that ?all men are created equal.? Some of them said that notion should include women, too. Why did those feminists?most of them men, by the way?lose the fight? How did the patriarchy survive the Enlightenment?

Co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee look into these questions, with historians Londa Schiebinger of Stanford and Toby Ditz of Johns Hopkins, and sociologist Lisa Wade of Occidental College.

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-08-08
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Ain't No Amoeba (MEN, Part 2)

For millennia, Western culture (and most other cultures) declared that men and women were different sorts of humans?and, by the way, men were better. Is that claim not only wrong but straight-up backwards?

Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen explore the current state of the nature-nurture gender debate, with help from Lisa Wade of Occidental College and Mel Konner of Emory University.  

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine.
Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-07-25
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Dick Move (MEN, Part 1)

Launching our Season 3 series, co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee look at the problems of male supremacy. And we visit Deep Time to explore the latest scholarship on how, when, and why men invented patriarchy.

Featuring Meg Conkey of UC-Berkeley, Mel Konner of Emory University, and Lisa Wade of Occidental College.

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and Production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.

2018-07-11
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Scene on Radio Season 3: MEN Trailer

Scene on Radio opens its Season 3 series, MEN, with this preview. Host John Biewen introduces the series with series co-host Celeste Headlee.

Music Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Theme music by Alex Weston. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music. 

2018-06-27
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I Know It's You (Rebroadcast)

A father turns on a recorder while tucking in his 7-year-old, having no idea he?s about to capture a poignant growing-up moment in his son?s life. (Advisory: This episode is not suitable for some young children.)

2017-12-13
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Transformation (Seeing White, Part 14)

The concluding episode in our series, Seeing White. An exploration of solutions and responses to America?s deep history of white supremacy by host John Biewen, with Chenjerai Kumanyika, Robin DiAngelo, and William ?Sandy? Darity, Jr.

2017-08-24
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White Affirmative Action (Seeing White, Part 13)

When it comes to U.S. government programs and support earmarked for the benefit of particular racial groups, history is clear. White folks have received most of the goodies.

By John Biewen, with Deena Hayes-Greene of the Racial Equity Institute and recurring series partner Chenjerai Kumanyika.

2017-08-09
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Losing Ground

For Eddie Wise, owning a hog farm was a lifelong dream. In middle age, he and his wife, Dorothy, finally got a farm of their own. But they say that over the next twenty-five years, the U.S. government discriminated against them because of their race, and finally drove them off the land. Their story, by John Biewen, was produced in collaboration with Reveal.

2017-07-26
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My White Friends (Seeing White, Part 12)

For years, Myra Greene had explored blackness through her photography, often in self-portraits. She wondered, what would it mean to take pictures of whiteness? For her friends, what was it like to be photographed because you?re white? With another conversation between host John Biewen and series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika.  

2017-07-12
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Danger (Seeing White, Part 11)

For hundreds of years, the white-dominated American culture has raised the specter of the dangerous, violent black man. Host John Biewen tells the story of a confrontation with an African American teenager. Then he and recurring guest Chenjerai Kumanyika discuss that longstanding image ? and its neglected flipside: white-on-black violence.

2017-06-28
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Citizen Thind (Seeing White, Part 10)

The story of Bhagat Singh Thind, and also of Takao Ozawa ? Asian immigrants who, in the 1920s, sought to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that they were white in order to gain American citizenship. Thind?s ?bargain with white supremacy,? and the deeply revealing results.

2017-06-14
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A Racial Cleansing in America (Seeing White Part 9)

In 1919, a white mob forced the entire black population of Corbin, Kentucky, to leave, at gunpoint. It was one of many racial expulsions in the United States. What happened, and how such racial cleansings became ?America?s family secret.?

The history of Corbin as presented by the Corbin city government, with no mention of the 1919 racial expulsion. 

Elliot Jaspin?s book, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansings in America

2017-05-31
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Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)

Scientists weren?t the first to divide humanity along racial ? and and racist ? lines. But for hundreds of years, racial scientists claimed to provide proof for those racist hierarchies ? and some still do.

 

Resources for this episode:

Fatal Invention, by Dorothy Roberts

The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter

2017-05-17
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Chenjerai?s Challenge (Seeing White, Part 7)

?How attached are you to the idea of being white?? Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to host John Biewen, as they revisit an unfinished conversation from a previous episode. Part 7 of our series, Seeing White.

 

2017-05-05
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That's Not Us, So We're Clean (Seeing White, Part 6)

When it comes to America?s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Host John Biewen spoke with some white Southern friends about that tendency. Part Six of our ongoing series, Seeing White. With recurring guest, Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Image: A lynching on Clarkson Street, New York City, during the Draft Riots of 1863. Credit: Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation.

Shannon Sullivan?s books, Revealing Whiteness and Good White People.

 Thanks to Chris Julin, whose 1991 NPR report on the Wisconsin fishing rights dispute we featured.

2017-04-26
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Little War on the Prairie (Seeing White, Part 5)

Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town?s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history ? the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors ? following one of the major wars between Plains Indians and settlers. In this documentary, originally produced for This American Life, John goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn?t talk about it afterwards.

 

Image: The Minnesota State Seal, 1858

 

Key sources for this episode:

Gwen Westerman, Mni Sota MakoceMary Wingerd, North Country: The Making of Minnesota

2017-04-12
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On Crazy We Built a Nation (Seeing White, Part 4)

?All men are created equal.? Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

 

Key sources for this episode:

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

The Racial Equity Institute

 

2017-03-30
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Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)

Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive ? and strikingly cruel ? laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

 

Key sources for this episode:

The Racial Equity Institute

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

2017-03-16
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How Race Was Made (Seeing White, Part 2)

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of ?race.? Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

Photo: The Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal. The highlighted figure in the center is an effigy of Gomes Eanes de Zurara. The figure at the top right is Prince Henry the Navigator. Photo by Harvey Barrison.  

2017-03-01
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Turning the Lens (Seeing White, Part 1)

Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

2017-02-15
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Movement Time

Facts can be ignored by the powers that be and still ignite a movement. An interview with Tim Tyson, author of the new book, The Blood of Emmett Till. Tyson was the first historian or journalist to interview the former Carolyn Bryant, the woman in whose name Emmett Till was murdered in 1955.

2017-01-25
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Emmett and Trayvon (Rebroadcast)

There?s a long and painful history in the U.S. of white men killing black men and boys without punishment. In this episode, we listen in on ?Dar He,? the one-man play by Mike Wiley that brings to life the story of Emmett Till.

2017-01-11
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I Found No Strangers (Travels With Mic, Part 3)

The last in our series exploring the spirit of America in the footsteps of one of its greatest writers, John Steinbeck. At key spots on Steinbeck?s 1960 journey across the country, we team up with artists to explore how things have changed, or not, and to talk back to Steinbeck across the years. In this episode, visits with theater director Troy Nickerson in Spokane, Washington, and poet Diana Garcia in Monterey, California.

2016-12-14
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Reality is Not the Stronger (Travels With Mic, Part 2)

The second in a three-part series, journeying into the soul of America through the eyes of artists, while following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck who drove across the country in 1960 for his iconic book, Travels with Charley. In this episode, photographer Wayne Gudmundson in eastern North Dakota, and Yurok basket weaver Susan ?Tweet? Burdick in Humboldt County, California. Produced by John Biewen.

2016-11-30
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Monster America (Travels With Mic, Part 1)

First in a three-part journey into the soul of America, through the eyes of working people who happen to be artists. In this episode, David Slater in Sag Harbor, New York, and Kalamu ya Salaam in New Orleans. Retracing the 1960 journey by writer John Steinbeck for his book, ?Travels with Charley in Search of America.? Produced by John Biewen.

2016-11-16
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El Nuevo South

Siler City, North Carolina used to be a typical Southern town. Everybody was white or black. Now the town?s population is half Latino. One community?s journey through the ?five stages of grief? ? all the way to acceptance? By John Biewen and Tennessee Watson. Music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lucas Biewen.

2016-11-02
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Prince and Philando and Futures Untold

How to grieve when the deaths come so quickly? How, as an African American mother, to protect your child?s innocence and hope? An audio essay by Stacia Brown.

2016-10-19
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