WXXI AM News

race relations

We talk to Arshay Cooper, an author, chef, and motivational speaker who has dedicated his life to keeping young people off the street. Cooper grew up on the Westside of Chicago and was raised by a single mother who struggled with a drug addiction. He says his brothers and friends joined gangs and were involved with drugs, but he had a different vision for his future. In 1997, he joined the country’s first all-black high school rowing team – an experience that changed his life. It’s the subject of his memoir, Suga Water. 

Cooper is in Rochester to give a talk and attend the Head of the Genesee Regatta, but first, he’s our guest on Connections.

We still don't know who dropped white supremacist fliers on Pittsford driveways in recent days, but the community has responded vehemently against it. An organization calling itself "PittsFORWARD" put together a walk and rally against racism. They say that the fliers show the opposite of what Pittsford is all about.

We talk about the fliers, and about what it means to build an inclusive community. Our guests:

  • Kendra Evans, organizer of PittsFORWARD
  • Bradley Hurst, participant in the PittsFORWARD walk against racism
  • Nahoko Kawakyu O'Connor, member of PittsFORWARD
  • Mohammed Ahamed, ally of PittsFORWARD and the director of diversity and inclusion at Nazareth College

Ken Burns, the award-winning filmmaker, joins us to discuss a range of subjects. We talk about his latest work, and we preview his visit to the University of Rochester later this week.

Burns has been talking a lot about race in America in recent days, and we dig into that. And we ask him why he decided to break with his traditional nonpartisan stance to come out strongly against Donald Trump. Our guests:

  • Ken Burns, award-winning filmmaker
  • Paul Burgett, University of Rochester vice president and senior adviser to the president

We examine the events of a tragic week. Two African American men in two different states were killed by police officers, and those deaths sparked protests. A protest in Dallas, Texas ended with the mass shooting of police officers. Five officers were killed. 

We respond to the events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas with our guests:

  • Marvin Stepherson, retired Rochester Police Department sergeant, and professor of criminal justice administration at Roberts Wesleyan College
  • Eileen Graham, founder of Black Student Leadership 
  • Reverend Lewis Stewart, president of United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York

In 2014, the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County initiated a program called Person2Person to try to improve race relations, reduce prejudice, and bridge cultural differences. Here's how it works: individuals participate in a nine-month experience during which they're paired with someone from a different racial and ethnic background. These "partner pairs" meet every two weeks, discussing each other's perspectives, interests, challenges, and more. If the program works, then the partner pairs will better understand other perspectives, and learn to confront their own prejudices.

We talk about the program and its impact with our guests:

  • Jean Carroll, president and CEO of the YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County
  • Aaron Wicks, director of planning and evaluation at Action for a Better Community, and facilitator in the Person2Person program
  • Louise Spinelli, legal administrator at Leclair Korona Giordano Cole LLP, and current participant in the Person2Person program
  • Elena Nescio, B2B marketing manager for Gannett, and current participant in the Person2Person program
  • Reverend Michael Ware, pastor at Webster Baptist Church and current Person2Person participant
  • Shelly Tochluk, author of Witnessing Whiteness and Living in the Tension: The Quest for a Spiritualized Racial Justice

We mark eight years since what was perhaps Barack Obama's most famous address: his speech on race in Philadelphia.

At the time, Senator Obama was locked in a tight battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. He was dealing with questions about his association with Reverend Wright. Obama's speech, "A More Perfect Union," addressed a wide range of issues related to race in America. We ask: How has our country improved, relative to the themes of the speech? How have we regressed? How can we do better? Our guests:

We mark eight years since what was perhaps Barack Obama's most famous address: his speech on race in Philadelphia.

At the time, Senator Obama was locked in a tight battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. He was dealing with questions about his association with Reverend Wright. Obama's speech, "A More Perfect Union," addressed a wide range of issues related to race in America. We ask: How has our country improved, relative to the themes of the speech? How have we regressed? How can we do better? Our guests:

We're joined by journalist and former NPR host of All Things Considered, Michele Norris. She's the creator of the Race Card Project, which has sparked conversations about race, privilege, and the country's future. Norris is visiting Nazareth College* to talk about race on college campuses, but first, she's our guest on Connections for the hour. In studio:

  • Michele Norris, journalist and creator of the Race Card Project
  • Alexia Blair, student at Nazareth College
  • Sabata Harley, student at Nazareth College

*The event at Nazareth College is now open to the public. Tickets are available at the Nazareth College Arts Center Box Office from 6-7 p.m.

Often when we talk about race, we hear from scholars, professors, people trained to talk about it. And that is certainly helpful.

On Wednesday night, a pair of white Rochesterians will host a discussion that aims to "assist us white folks free ourselves from the awkwardness we often encounter around the topic." The presentation is called "Exploring the Territory: White People Look at Race and Racism." It will be held at Starbridge Inc. at 1650 South Avenue in Rochester from 7-9 p.m. (to register, call 585-224-7238). We discuss what it's all about. Our guests:

We welcome Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program. He's in town to visit the College at Brockport.

On Connections, Parker talks to us about race in the era of video cameras. He addresses how "evidence of discrimination has launched a new form of civil rights movement, including the creation of grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter." In studio:

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