Nelson Mandela in 2008
Wikimedia Commons
December 11, 2013

What’s Ahead for South Africa

Nobody can replace Nelson Mandela in the hearts of his people; his place in history will not soon be forgotten. South Africa as a nation, however, will continue to exist without him. This hour on Focus, we’ll discuss his legacy and what’s ahead for the country now that he’s gone.


An scene from the film "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"
University of Illinois Press
August 29, 2013

Indian Accents

Why do racial stereotypes change over time? How do they develop? According to author Shilpa Dave, the movies play a huge role. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with her about her new book “Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film.”


Mariam Sobh wearing a white hijab
March 04, 2013

Miriam Cooke and Hijab Trendz

Have you ever used writing as an outlet? Today on Focus, we examined stereotypes about Arab women with Professor Miriam Cooke, who studies how Islamic women empower themselves through writing. Then, Mariam Sobh, a native of Champaign and the founder of the fashion blog Hijab Trendz joins the program. 


Byron Hurt standing in front of wall covered by grafitti
January 14, 2013

Interview with Filmmaker Byron Hurt

Describing himself as "more than a filmmaker," Byron Hurt is an anti-sexist activist who provides cutting-edge male leadership, expert analysis, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitation in the field of sexual and gender violence prevention and education. His latest film "Soul food Junkies," looks at the links between African-American identity and "soul food," much of which is high in fat and calories. Hurt's father died of pancreatic cancer, and this type of high-fat diet is a risk factor for the illness.


December 27, 2012

Interview with Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas

Since the beginning of his career in journalism eight years ago, Jose Vargas has written hundreds of stories — including covering the 2008 presidential campaign for The Washington Post; profiling Al Gore for Rolling Stone and Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker; writing and producing a documentary on the AIDS epidemic in the nation's capital; and winning a Pulitzer Prize for helping cover the Virginia Tech massacre.  A little over a year ago, Vargas wrote a groundbreaking essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine revealing his "undocumented immigrant" status.  Since then, he founded Define American and has worked to facilitate dialogue about the DREAM Act and immigration issues.

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, October 26, 2012, 10 am


Portrait of Tamim Ansary and Book Jacket for Games Without Rules
December 12, 2012

Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Born in 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary is a writer, lecturer, editor, and teacher based in San Francisco.  He directs the San Francisco Writer’s Workshop, teaches through the Osher Institute, and writes fiction and nonfiction about Afghanistan, Islam-and-the-West, democracy, current events, social issues, and as he says, "my cat, and other topics as they come up."


December 07, 2012

This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made

For years, Frederick Hoxie asked students to name three American Indians and almost universally, the names mentioned were the same: Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Many Americans see Indians as occupying a position outside the central narrative of American history. It’s almost a given that Native history has no particular relationship to the conventional story of America. Indian history may be seen as short and sad, one that ended a long time ago.

In This Indian Country, Hoxie creates a counter-narrative; Native American history is also a story of political activism, with victories in courts and campaigns rather than on the battlefield. For more than two hundred years, Indian activists have sought to bridge the distance between their cultures and the republican democracy of the United States through legal and political debate. Over time their struggle defined a new language of “Indian rights” and created a vision of American Indian identity, engendering a dialogue with other activist movements.

Among the people discussed in “This Indian Country” is Sarah Winnemucca, who was the first American Indian woman to publish a book in the U-S. Follow the link below to read Winnemucca’s “Life Among the Piutes.”


November 02, 2012

Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color

Living Color investigates the social history of skin color from prehistory to the present, showing how our body’s most visible trait influences our social interactions in profound and complex ways. Nina G. Jablonski begins with the biology and evolution of skin pigmentation, explaining how skin color changed as humans moved around the globe. She explores the relationship between melanin pigment and sunlight, and examines the consequences of rapid migrations, vacations, and other lifestyle choices that can create mismatches between our skin color and our environment. This book explains why skin color has come to be a biological trait with great social meaning— a product of evolution perceived by culture. It considers how we form impressions of others, how we create and use stereotypes, how negative stereotypes about dark skin developed and have played out through history—including being a basis for the transatlantic slave trade. Offering examples of how attitudes about skin color differ in the U.S., Brazil, India, and South Africa, Jablonski suggests that a knowledge of the evolution and social importance of skin color can help eliminate color-based discrimination and racism.


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