Month: January 2013

Black Comedians ‘Laugh to Keep From Crying’ During Black History Month

Friday marks the start of Black History Month in the United States and for African American comedians, it’s an opportunity to chronicle the history of this country through their comedy routines.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with comedian and writer Ralph Cooper about Black History Month, the old saying that one must “Laugh to keep from crying” and finding the kernel of humor amid one’s pain that has left a rich and substantial heritage of jokes.


Anti-Trafficking Groups Warning the Public about Super Bowl Sex Traffickers

With Super Bowl approaching this Sunday in New Orleans, anti-trafficking groups are spreading the word that there are many people out to profit from exploiting girls and women year round and specifically on the NFL’s biggest day.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Norma Ramos, the executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, about sex trafficking and the Super Bowl.

Research Finds That Sports Results are God’s Will

A recent study at the Public Religion Research Institute has found that more than half of Americans believe that God has a hand in choosing sports victors and many also say God rewards faithful athletes with victory and good health.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Daniel Cox, the director of research with the Public Religion Research Institute, about the institute’s findings.

Tina Turner’s US Departure Not Uncommon Among African American Artists

Music legend and icon Tina Turner has relinquished her passport this week, choosing to leave Nutbush behind and to become a Swiss citizen.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with a panel of artists who think that Turner’s choice to leave behind her U.S. citizenship is much like the trend during the Harlem Renaissance.

Filmmaker and author Kenji Jasper, playwright and performer Dr. Kimberly Ellis and journalist and fashion designer Veronica Miller talk about how Europe for Black Americans has never really been that far away.

American pop icon, singer, actress and woman with two of the greatest legs I think have ever graced the stage Tina Turner is in the process of becoming a Swiss citizen.

Lady Tina Turner will be renouncing her US passport. In order to do so she says – “I’m very happy in Switzerland and I feel at home here”. She went on to say – “I cannot imagine a better place to live”.

I heard the story and it made me think back to some of my favourite writers who also were African-American people who decided to up and go to Europe and a few of them never came back.

To talk about the Harlem Renaissance and how Ms. Tina Turner and her decision to give up her US passport actually is not an unheard of thing to do I have with me Kimberly Ellis, she is with me from Pittsburg; Veronica Miller and joining us is Kenji Jasper this evening.

Folks, thank you so much for being on! I want to start with you Dr. Ellis. You are a playwright and a performer, and frankly you would like to get your travel on as well from what I understand, at least your Facebook page tells me as much. What’s your take on this?

In my description it is because I think that the question of American identity, it has often been the question of dual citizenship. I think that is what has dominated the popular minds, especially African-Americans, over the last 15 years and that’s largely because we were pursuing this dual citizenship with Ghana to the former President Jerry Rawlings.

But like you said, even before that, I mean throughout the Harlem Renaissance you still have many writers who enjoyed their times overseas, you had writers who became expats, I mean there is a whole back expat community online and many of us are living throughout the world. I think it is exciting, I think it is wonderful, I mean I think that it combats America’s xenophobia thinking that America is the only best place to live, it is simply not true.

And even with the black President I think one of the things that we’ve been able to see is that America still has that problem of the color lines that W. E. B. Du Bois talked about in his book The Souls of Black Folk. And he is someone else that decided in his later years to die in Ghana and live the last portion of his life there. So, this is not new for any of us. And I understand Tina Turner, she is having a wonderful time. I totally understand how she could feel at home in Switzerland, and I applaud her.

Now I’m going to go to Veronica Miller. Your middle name is Marché is French, so you know, that makes us closer to Switzerland. You are a journalist, a designer, a writer and a whole bunch of other things too. I want to bring you into the conversation as well.

Sure! I think it is exciting. Like you said, I do a whole bunch of things and a lot of those things involve art and entertainment. And of my lifelong models Josephine Baker and Nina Simone are also famous, talented black female entertainers who made their homes outside the US. And I think it is exciting and important. I’ve mentioned two young girls and I have a younger sister and I think it is important particularly for young black women to see these insanely talented and influential models making choices for their best selves, where they can live their best lives. So, it is like – let me go where I feel at home and where I feel celebrated, and where I feel accepted, and what feels comfortable for me, and if it is across the ocean – so, be it.

New Report Reveals Routine Mishandling of Rape Cases by DC Police

A new report by Human Rights Watch called “Capitol Offense” has found that D.C. police officers routinely and profoundly mishandle cases of sexual abuses and in light of recent advances which help rape victims report abuse and to seek help, the HRW findings are even more deeply troubling.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Rachel Friedman, deputy director of the non-profit organization Men Can Stop Rape, to discuss the report.


Rape Terminology Proves Challenging to Victims, Courts

Despite the FBI changing 80-year-old language in its crime codes to make it so that men could be victims of rape and the mandate to finding “force” to be necessary, many jurisdictions have not followed suit.

Depending upon where you live in the country, a sexually-based attack may or may not be called “rape,” and victims report that being unable to say legally they were victims of “rape” is hurtful in itself.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Stephanie Hughes to discuss her story for “When the law won’t call it rape” which details the language of laws describing sex crimes.

How a Louisiana Teenager Went Up Against His State Over Creationism

Zack Kopplin, a former resident of the state of Louisiana, truly took it to heart when a teacher assigned him to do a project that would be a challenge to him. He decided to get the law that permits Creationism to be taught in schools repealed.

It’s been two years since, and Zack is still busy as ever—though now in college. Host Jamila Bey spoke with Kopplin to discuss his latest civic activism.

What Protestants Have Learned From the Catholic Sex Scandals

From Penn State to the Boy Scouts, sex scandals have continued to tarnish images and violate innocent victims across the country for many, but few are as prominent it seems as the Catholic Church.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman, an African Methodist Episcopal minister and founder of the Dinah Project, and Philip Moore, founder of, to discuss how Protestant churches in the United States can learn from the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

New Book Details the State of Science Education in US

A new book by theoretical physicist, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, details the pitfalls of science education in the United States and where the country needs to go policy-wise to improve the system.

Jamila Bey spoke with Dr. Krauss to discuss his book, “A Universe From Nothing,” the state of science in the country and his wishes for science education and policy.

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Watchdog: Election Reveals Much Work For Voter Disenfranchisement

As the country prepares to watch the president be sworn in on Monday, some are taking the time to look back on the challenges faced to get to this point and particularly the challenges faced by voters during the election season.

Host Jamila Bey examines the issue of voter disenfranchisement and how vigilance from voters and watchdog groups alike helped to ensure that more Americans were able to exercise their voting rights.

To do this, she spoke with Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

New Book Explores Atheism and Religious Liberty

A new book called “In Freedom we Trust: An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty” explores the historical and modern arguments about America as a Christian nation, walking through 200 plus years of that very debate.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Edward and Michael Buckner, the father-son duo behind the work, to discuss religious liberty.

Critic: Tarantino’s Slave-Turned-Bounty Hunter ‘Django’ One of His Best

Director Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Django Unchained,” has drawn both love and hate among media critics and fans, giving audiences a truly Tarantino-take on U.S. slavery with bloody fight scenes, wildly offensive language and a storyline unlike any other historical film.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with film critic and writer Kenji Jasper of Other Place Media to make heads or tails of all the flap of “Django.”