WXXI AM News

Racism

Adam Serwer, correspondent forThe Atlantic Monthly, joins us to discuss his recent piece titled "The Nationalist's Delusion." The piece has been hotly debated since its publication, and many prominent writers of color call it a landmark in analyzing America's history with white nationalism.

When white supremacists posted racist flyers around the town of Pittsford, residents rallied against racism and pushed for change. They formed a group called PittsForward, and one of its members -- Kevin Beckford decided to run for the Pittsford Town Board...and won.

Beckford is the suburb's first African American town board member. He joins us to discuss his journey and how he thinks the flyers and PittsForward impacted the election. In studio:

  • Kevin Beckford, Pittsford Town Board member-elect
  • Kendra Evans, organizer of PittsForward

There's controversy in Henrietta, where Town Supervisor Jack Moore is being criticized for allegedly making racially-insensitive remarks. The EEOC investigated the complaints in late September and determined that several had merit. Now, some residents are calling for his resignation.

Moore's supporters say the timing is political with the upcoming election, and members of the Henrietta Roadrunners Association Union say 82 percent of their group supports Moore.

We discuss the complaints, how the EEOC works, and how discrimination filings impact the workplace. Our guests:

  • Reverend Ruben Goff, Henrietta resident
  • Larry Knox, organizer with SEIU
  • Iman Abid, Henrietta resident
  • Justin Cordello, employment law attorney with Cordello Law PLLC
  • Chuck Marshall, employee for the Town of Henrietta who supports Jack Moore

How do Americans view the racial divide in this country? According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans say racism is a “big problem” in society. That’s up eight percentage points since 2015. But it leads to the question, why isn’t that number higher? 

Debby Irving is a white woman from New England who says she didn't fully understand the racial divide in this country until her adult life. Growing up in a wealthy Massachusetts family, she says she couldn’t see outside of her privileged bubble. That all changed when she took a graduate level course about racism and explored her own bias. Now, she’s a racial justice educator and author of the book, Waking Up White. Irving is in Rochester to share her story and offer workshops, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

*Note: Debby Irving's event has been rescheduled. Please find details here.

We have a discussion about a racist tweet written by a student at MCC. The student doesn't represent MCC, its student body, or its faculty, but he is part of the MCC community. 

The tweet raises a number of questions: What is free speech and what isn't? What is the responsibility of MCC or other institutions that have faced similar issues? If such issues are matters of free speech, do institutions have any power to act? Should they? Our guests weigh in. In studio:

  • Anne M. Kress, president of MCC
  • Lloyd Holmes, vice president of student services and chief diversity officer at MCC
  • Demario Brantley, sociology professor and Latin American Academy Fellow at MCC
  • Daniel Skerritt, president of the MCC Student Events and Governance Association 

Throughout time, you may go back and watch a movie that you loved as a child, but now, it plays differently to you. There's something that feels uncomfortable; something has changed. 

If you watch Coming to America, National Lampoon's Vacation, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and many other popular films, you'll find examples of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

This hour, we explore how perceptions of art -- particularly of films -- evolve over time. Our guests:

  • Jack Garner, longtime film critic
  • Lester D. Friedman, professor and former chair of the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith College, and co-author of Monstrous Progeny
  • Bri Merkel, artistic director for The Little Theatre
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and senior assistant director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Success in RIT's Division for Diversity and Inclusion

Across the country, communities are grappling with how to handle white supremacists and neo-Nazis in their midst. In Honeoye Falls, a recent HF-L grad was spotted marching with the throngs in Charlottesville. Now there's a community debate about what to do -- protest in front of his home? Distribute signs of warning? Ignore him?

Our panel discusses how we got here, and where to go from here. In studio:

  • Rev. Judith Davis, member of the steering committee for the Movement for Anti-Racist Ministry and Action (MAMA)
  • Pastor Wanda Wilson, member of the MAMA steering committee 
  • Howard Eagle, member of the MAMA steering committee 
  • Rachael Harris, member of MAMA and student at MCC
  • Rabbi Peter Stein, senior rabbi at Temple B'rith Kodesh
  • Julia Ortenzi, HF-L graduate and student at Sarah Lawrence College

Remember that racist panel that became a public controversy two years ago -- the panel depicting so-called "pickaninny art" on the Dentzel Carousel in Charlotte? That panel was taken down, and it's going to have a permanent home at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The goal is to use the panel to educate the community about the various forms of racism that deny the humanity of black children. But first, the panel will be displayed at events around the community as part of educational forums.

Our guests explain:

  • Kathryn Murano, Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Minister Clifford Florence, Central Church of Christ
  • Howard Eagle, Take It Down steering committee

What can we learn about the current state of race relations in this country by studying slavery and the Civil Rights movement? A group of 35 people connected with Spiritus Christi Church visited a number of historic sites in southern cities to learn about the impact of racism in the criminal justice system, the political system, and the economic system. They returned to Rochester with the goal of using this new knowledge to improve race relations in our community.

We discuss their trip, what they learned, and how they plan to work with city leaders. In studio:

  • Reverend Myra Brown, associate pastor at Spiritus Christi Church, and an anti-racism trainer
  • Lorinda Parks, physician at Jordan Health and member of Spiritus Christi Church
  • Steve Heveron-Smith, entrepreneur and business consultant, and a member of Spiritus Christi Church
  • Melissa Parrish, community educator and social worker, and a member of Spiritus Christi Church

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

Rochester has its own unique, complex, cocktail of different racial and ethnic groups in the city, and like many parts of America, it has some traces of poverty.

As a placement and career services developer at PathStone, a not-for-profit organization providing services to low-income families and economically depressed communities, Dionne Jacques sees the crippling effects of poverty in Rochester every day. She describes her clients as predominantly young, African American men, whom are in and out of the criminal justice system.

Pages