Month: September 2012

“How to Be Black” Baratunde Thurston

Standup comedian, author of “How to be Black,” and creator of the soon-to-be-released, Baratunde Thurston spends time talking with Jamila about his projects, his book and his name.  Much like the other Harvard graduate who gave up the nickname “Barry,” to use his given name, Baratunde is enjoying an active and engaging life and career.

“Unorthodox” Deborah Feldman

Author Deborah Feldman discusses her memoir “Unorthodox” and her life since leaving her conservative Jewish Brooklyn Satmar community. From her childhood being raised by her Holocaust survivor grandparents, to her struggles to be a good Hasidic wife, and finally to her ultimate realization that she could not stay in a culture that didn’t allow her to be her authentic self, Deborah shares her memories with me.




Suicide Replaces Car Accidents As No 1 Cause of Death by Injury in US

New research shows auto accidents are no longer the leading cause of death by injury in the US. Suicide is now the top reason. Voice of Russia Jamila Bey talks on the issue with Dr. Herbert Smitherman Jr., the Assistant Dean of Community and Urban Health for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and a member of the Detroit Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency Board.

Doctor Smitherman, does this surprise you that more people are dying at their own hand than from auto accidents?

When we see downturns in the economy, when you see society or country actually at war and the troops are transitioning back and forth between war zones and the general community, you see in those times high suicide rates. It didn’t surprise me, especially with respect to the auto industry traffic measures across the country that are really helping to address a lot of accidents, especially deadly. And our response time to those accidents and getting people the emergent care they need really save a lot of lives. Safety initiatives are really broadening in this country. So the traffic fatality going down is not unexpected. I would say just because of the downsides in the economy and the stress on families within our society I think it didn’t surprise me.

One of the things that you do there is you consider the mental health of the entire Detroit Wayne County Community there. Can you give us a snapshot? The rest of the country knows well that Detroit is, some would argue, pretty much ground zero for what is happening to the American economy these days. And I imagine that the mental health of the community at large would very well represent what happens when a community loses its major industry and many people experience prolonged unemployment.

Well, yeah. We’re seeing major depression and rates of it increase. We’re seeing especially life stress issues and people coming into their providers for life-stress issues, be it losing a home, divorce, losing one’s job and the financial social stress they cause. We’re seeing a dramatic spike in health concerns within our community, definitely.

What about the children of people who have lost their jobs or homes?

The poverty rates for children are going up. And the stress that this cause on family structures again is significant. We have one out of eight children that go hungry every day in the US and clearly those things are creating significant stress on our kids in lots of ways – people acting out in school, issues of obesity, higher rates of behavioral issues in the classroom etc. Yes, we’re seeing all of these things play out within out city as we struggle with some of the national issues of increased unemployment, joblessness and heightened foreclosure rates that are really devastating for families and communities.

UN Official Makes Case for Sustainable Advancements for Infrastructure and Women

A top UN official appeared last week at the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, where he discussed the challenges faced in ensuring that infrastructure keeps up with economic advancements in a way that is sustainable for the future.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, held a panel discussion called “Health Investments for Africa’s Future.”

Throughout the caucus, he also discussed the broader issues faced by his agency in empowering young women in communities throughout the world.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Osotimehin about women’s issues and more:

Candidates Appear on ’60 Minutes’ in Pseudo-Preview of Debate

The first presidential debate is just over a week away, but that doesn’t mean the two parties haven’t already started preparing.

Both GOP nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday night, giving Americans a likely preview of the upcoming debate.

Then on Monday, the National Press Club hosted a debate between top economic advisers integral to the formulation of the economic policy platforms of the two campaigns. Kevin Hassett represented Romney and Jeffrey Liebman spoke for Obama.

For more information, host Jamila Bey spoke with Voice of Russia correspondent Carmen Russell-Sluchansky, who attended Monday’s debate.

New Book Attacks the Threat of Theocracy

A new book called “Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All—and What We Can Do About It” by Sean Faircloth is examining the many ways federal and state legal codes are now privileging religion in law.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Faircloth about his new book, the current state of religion in U.S. politics and Election Day.

DC Launches New App For Student Sexual Assault Victims

The nation’s capital has launched a new mobile application and website to provide resources for student sexual assault victims.

The new initiative, called U ASK DC, aims to help the victim and his or her fellow students, friends and family with information on fighting sexual assault and empowering victims.

Host Jamila Bey attended the launch event, where she spoke with Mayor Vincent Gray and Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham about the program.


US Prison System Fails to Address Family Issues

The Justice Policy Institute is stepping up efforts in demanding prison reform for female prisoners. The institute argues that when women with family are imprisoned, children are left behind in foster care and are put through endless bureaucracy of court interventions.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Tracy Velazquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute, to discuss how the prison system leaves behind children in unnecessary and expensive ways.

‘Bail Fail’ Argues that Bail Impedes Justice in US Court Cases

Twenty percent of Americans prisoners are in jail because they simply cannot make bail. As they await their formal charges—often for nonviolent crimes—and official hearing dates, the prisoners cannot return to work and support their families.

Dr. Melissa Neal, a senior research associate at the Justice Policy Institute, described these failures and more in the new report “Bail Fail.”

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Dr. Neal to discuss the report’s findings and more:

From Lincoln to Bush–and Potentially Romney: How the Republican Party Lost the African American Vote

“Does the Republican Party really want more African Americans?” That’s what filmmaker Kevin J. Williams asked before setting out on a non-partisan journey to find out why there are so few black Republicans.

Williams and wife and producer Tamara Williams tackled this question and what it means for the future of the two-party political system in the new documentary, “Fear of a Black Republican.”

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Kevin and Tamara to discuss what they sought to reveal in the film and the troubles and triumphs faced in the production.


What the Conventions Did for the African American Vote

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions have finished, pundits, political analysts and more are examining the platforms, the speeches and what it all means for voters.

While the Democratic National Convention escaped unscathed, the Republican National Convention was tarnished temporarily due to a peanut-throwing incident involving an African American camerawoman for CNN and a couple of older white male attendees.

Despite the incident taking up the headlines for several days, the GOP released its platform in Tampa, Fla., days ahead of the DNC announcing its platform in Charlotte, N.C.

To discuss the conventions and their impact on the African American vote, host Jamila Bey held a panel discussion:



Sally Kohn, a writer, activist and frequent television commentator for Fox News

Shirley Husar, an urban conservative freelance writer for Washington Times

Steven Gray, a columnist and contributing editor at The Root

Tara Conley, founder and president of Media Make Change

Kevin Williams, director of the documentary “Fear of a Black Republican”

Tamara Williams, producer of the documentary “Fear of a Black Republican”

Bey also recapped the conventions and their impact on the African American vote with Voice of Russia correspondent Carmen Russell-Sluchansky: