Thursday, January 27, 2011

Aftermath On Gun Control

Guest post by Mara Leventhal, producer and occational co-host of Let's Talk About It!
Before we jump into Middle East politics next Wednesday, I had a few thoughts to share about this week's show:  Gun control: Problem, Solution, or Distraction?” After the show, the producers and hosts discussed whether or not we successfully examined the relationship between guns and violence. Pretty soon we were discussing mental health resources, domestic violence services and the history of race and guns and power. Soon, the word violence itself was too simple. There’s mafia and gang violence and political violence. Family violence. Random acts of violence, drug-induced violence, self-inflicted violence, state perpetrated violence and sexual violence. And, of course, mentally deranged killer violence. Somewhere in the crossfire of cities, psychology and culture, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of the issue. That's when I checked out of our post-show meeting. And that overwhelming complexity, I think, is why the gun debate has become as polarized as it is.

It is understandable that in a soundbite hungry world, we simplify the conversation by focusing on America’s favorite tool for violence: guns. Gun control is a perfect wedge issue. It is used politically to slice populations into clean, easy voting blocks. Pro-gun. Anti-gun. There is no in between. This week on “Let’s Talk About It” we made an effort to have a conversation that went beyond the soundbites. Considering that we found areas of agreement between an ammo dealer, a spokesperson from the Brady Center and a college professor of criminology who studies handgun use in the U.S., I think we were successful. Areas of agreement centered around improving the quality and efficiency of background checks.

Subhash emphasized that drug laws prove that poorly executed laws don’t stop behaviors, they create underground economies and fill prisons. How can we talk about gun control when domestic violence agencies are losing their funding, summer programs for at risk teens have been shut down and communities face reductions in mental health and drug treatment resources? There are many layers and levels to the conversation that we didn’t address, including the history of gun ownership and power, race and class. All that said, I am still convinced that tighter regulation of the gun industry must be part of the discussion. Do you think gun control is a distraction from real solutions to violence?

It is safe to say that this topic is rich enough and important enough to support another show. 

To listen, download the show here or stream online by pressing play below.

Enjoy the show and please send us your comments, questions and ideas. 

Here are some excerpts from the conversation along with links to learn more about our guests:

“Guns don’t cause crime. They make attempted crimes and attempted suicides far more lethal. The gun industry is marketing lethality right now.”
-Ladd Everitt, from the D.C.-based Coalition Against Gun Violence (CAGV)

“Banning guns will not stop the lunatic fringe.”
-Vic Grechniw, Florida Ammo Traders, a gun shop located in Tampa, Florida.

“Gun Control never stopped anyone that I know from picking up a gun, it never stopped anyone I know from committing an act of violence. Consciousness stopped them from committing an act of violence. Consciousness stopped them from killing somebody.”
-Brian Dennis, Brothers of the Same Mind, a non-profit organization working with ex-offenders to start their own businesses, find jobs, and restore their right to vote.

To summarize his research: “Guns had both violence reducing effects as well as violence increasing  effects, depending on who had them. If good guys had them, they had good effect, and if bad guys had them they had bad effects.”
-Professor Gary Kleck, who has studied gun use for years at Florida State University.

“Our gun laws are just far too weak. It is extremely easy for dangerous people to get guns, get large capacity magazines, assault weapons; [these are] weapons that just belong on the battlefield.”
-Jonathan E. Lowy, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gun control: Problem, Solution, or Distraction? Let's Talk About It!!!

Wed. January 26, 7pm-8pm

880 am (S. Florida), or just click here

Very few issues in America are as polarizing as Gun Control.  From the tragedy in Tuscon to the recent killing in Miami of two police officers, recent high profile cases are pushing the debate back into the limelight.  But is the debate on gun control a stand in for a real conversation on ending violence? Please join us for one of the most important discussions on this issue you have ever heard!!!  Which leads to less violence: gun control or expanding gun rights?  Or is the debate just a distraction from addressing the root causes of violence?  Let's talk about it!!!  Join us as we talk with Professor Gary Kleck (considered the foremost expert of gun control laws), Ladd Everitt (Coalition to Stop Gun Violence), Vic Grechniw (Florida gun shop owner), and invited guests from the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. 

But we also want to hear YOUR thoughts, especially if you work in our communities to end violence every day!

In the meantime, here is an old article from the New York Times to help spark a conversation called "Gun Laws and Crime: A Complex Relationship"

Tune in! Call in! Let's Talk About It!

Remember Wed. January 26, 7pm-8pm
 880 am (S. Florida), or just click here!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Obama-A Symptom of A New America

Aftermath to the show

On Wednesday night’s edition of Let’s talk About It! We reflected on the era of Hope and Change and if it’s just been more of the same.  Our guests included: Aidil Oscariz (Worked on Obama’s campaign in Miami), Niaz Kazravi (NAACP), Daniella Levine (Catalyst Miami), Joseph Phelan (Florida New Majority), Carlos Roa (Trail of DREAMs), Michelle Fowler (Health Care Worker U-M), and Desmond Meade (Florida Rights Restoration Coalition).  You can download it here or just press play below

“A New America Is Ours To Envision, Build, and Defend!”

For those that don’t know, January 20, 2011 marked the 2-year anniversary of Barack Obama becoming this nation’s President.   Regardless of how you feel about Obama, it is important to reflect on what the election meant then and what it means now.

Whether you think Obama is a fire-breathing socialist, a pawn of US imperialism, or the second coming of -- (insert Christ, Elijah, Moses, the Mahdi, whoever), you belong in a cold dark cave if you don’t acknowledge that the 2008 election and the 2009 inauguration were transformational moments for millions of people.  I have probably mentioned it before, but both days were among the most memorable in my life. 

I know that there are plenty of people that weren’t happy on January, 20, 2009.  But for those that were, there was this incredible elation, and this real feeling of hope and real understanding that change was possible.

Michelle Obama caught a lot of heat when she said “For the first time in my life, I am proud of this country.”  While a lot of people weren’t really feeling that statement…what did ring true about the ’08 election and the inauguration is that you got a real sense that for the first time in a lot of peoples lives, they finally felt like a full part of this country. 

I was born in this country, in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was raised in this country, in Saginaw, Michigan.  I have lived all my life in this country, in Brooklyn, NY and now Miami.  But growing up, it was really hard to fully feel American.  I am saying this as a person that loved each and every community I lived in and the people there.  But for some reason, the idea that many people put out about who was American didn’t always include folks that looked like me, had my beliefs, or even had my name. 

Even as I got older and wiser, I knew that I loved the communities I lived in and the people in them.  But the “mainstream” discourse would often make it seem like to be American you had to love NASCAR, look at people like President Andrew Jackson and Christopher Columbus as heroes, and you had to fully support every stupid war that put the lives of people I knew at risk.  And you had to do that all by wrapping yourself around an American flag.

Well let’s just say, that wasn’t me growing up.  That wasn’t a lot of my friends or family.  And as I got older, some of those same people that wrapped themselves around the American flag didn’t love this country enough to stop our cities in Michigan from being gutted economically, stop people from being kicked out of their homes in Miami, stop Brooklyn families from losing their loved ones in Iraq, or prevent immigrants that called Orlando their lifelong home from being sent back to a country they didn’t know.  But yet it was me that felt I wasn’t American enough.

Stepping onto the Mall on inauguration day, I felt the vibe, and I swear I am not making this up.  It felt like millions of people finally felt like they were owning the term American. 

There are a lot of ways to understand the disappointment those millions have had with Obama in the past two years.  The most obvious is that Obama was not meant to be the second coming of Christ (maybe the second coming of Kennedy).  On the other hand, if people wanted the second coming of Clinton, they would have just voted for the second (and smarter) Clinton.  A lot of people didn’t just vote for Obama to get bills passed.  They voted for him because they fundamentally thought that that he would change the way the political process related to regular people.  And much of that didn’t happen.

But as I said on the show, there is a huge piece missing to this whole puzzle of Hope and Change.  Obama was a symptom and not a cure.  Obama is a symptom of a New America and a New American coming into its own.  His election was a symptom that whole groups of people that have traditionally been left out of the mainstream notion of American, now had a chance to redefine it.  That New America is our Hope and Change.

But that New American is ours to envision, build, and defend.  Obama is too surrounded by the Old America (Congress, his cabinet, etc.) to be the primary builder of a New America.  And believe me that Old America is willing to fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are (and I am NOT just talking Tea Party).

In a democracy, we should never entrust just one person to be that Hope and Change in building a New America.  But also in becoming a New America, we have to understand what it means to become New Americans.  In the coming year, Let’s Talk About It! Radio hopes to really explore what building a New America and a New American looks like and we hope you can join us in that process. 

I am going to leave you with two songs that helped guide the thought process of the show.  Enjoy “Wake up” by the Roots, John Legend, and Melanie Fiona.  The original song is by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.  The second is “Change” by Joy Denalane and Lupe Fiasco.  See y’all next week and Let’s Talk About It!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Years of Hope and Change or More of the Same???

Let's Talk About It!!!
Wed. Jan. 19 at 7pm on or 880 am (S. Florida) or just click here

This week marks 2 years since Barack Obama became president.  For many people, January 20, 2009 was a transformational moment that was supposed to bring in a new era of hope and change.  But have we seen real Hope and Change in the past two years?  If not, what happened?  What can we do to bring real Hope and Change?

Join us as we talk to folks that bring Hope and fight for Change every day as they reflect on the last two years and where we go from here.

If there is any show that we want you, our listeners to call into, this is it!  Don't miss it!

Tune in! Tell a Friend! Call in! and...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Aftermath: L'Union fait la force!

Hey folks,

In case you missed it,  you can check the show here or just press play below

One of our guests couldn't make it, cuz she was having problems connecting to us from Haiti.  But we promised Miami's own Mamyrah Douge Prosper that we would give her a chance to share her thoughts, and here they are...enjoy...
One year after the earthquake, there are no substantial positive changes that have been effectuated. Instead, Haiti has plummetted into a greater state of dependence and poverty. People still live under tents and conditions of hygiene have worsened. The Haitian Popular Movement has publicized its position that has already been echoed by different groups in the Social Justice Movement in the United States: The Occupation must stop!

In 2004, the "International Community" saw it fit to usurp a movement that had been led by students in the public universities in Haiti to remove Aristide from power. In order to protect its interests, it quietly deposed Aristide and therefore prevented the Haitian people from exercizing their democratic right to protest and create change in their own way for their country. In hopes to stabilize the political climate and strenghten its control, the "International Community" deployed United Nations troops unto sovereign Haitian soil. This was done with the approval and support of the certain members of the Haitian elites, both political and economic.

Today we are commemorating the loss of the lives of over 250,000 people who perished last year during the earthquake. The Haitian Popular Movement has been fighting for an alternative Haiti since the 80s and the earthquake has not changed their political orientation but instead has served as a re-inforcement of their critiques of capitalism and more importantly of imperialism. Neo-liberal policies that had been proposed by the IMF and the World Bank have debilitated the infrastructures of an already weakened Haitian State and country. The devastation caused by the earthquake was an example of those failed policies.

In 2004, it wasn't the U.S. troops that were sent in. Instead, imperialism took on a different face: one that looked quite like ours. Brazil is at the head of this Occupation on the ground as it worked to secure its position as a member of the G-20. There should not be a naive assumption that members of the supposed Global South share solidarity. In 2010, after the earthquake, more troops were deployed from other countries of the Global South such as Nepal, Jordan, Rwanda, etc. Additionally, there was in influx of NGOs into the country again represented by people from the Global South. The imperialist project no longer is invisble and no longer is "White".

The Haitian State has relinquished its decision-making powers to an International Interim Commission led by former U.S. president Clinton. Haiti is no longer sovereign even though its people continue to struggle as an independent people. The Commission, the UN troops, the NGOs, and I would even add the missionary groups are all manifestations of Imperialism at work in Haiti.

The aid that was so generously donated by the people of the world to Haiti has NOT been funneled to the Haitian peoeple. Instead, it has served to supplement the salaries of certain Haitian government officials, and most significantly and disgustingly of the UN troops and NGO staff. As people continue to live under tents, and now to combat an imported cholera, the UN troops and NGO staff enjoy their leisure time in Haiti and psychological leaves outside of the country. The Commission has only met 3 times for the past year.

What the Haitian Popular Movement requires of its international allies is to continue to demand of their own decision-makers the removal of ALL foreigh presence on Haitian soil in the obvious forms of Occupation. It is not simply a surge of extreme nationalism that drives the movement but the need to exercise Self-Determination, something that ALL people in ALL countries understand. Our self-determination also includes our making our own mistakes on our own time. Haitians in Haiti are already organized and prepared to decide among themselves what version of Haiti they would like. We simply need the freedom to put our ideas to work. The Occupation must stop! The UN troops must go! The Commission must be revoked! The NGOs must go!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Did We Forget About Haiti? Let's Talk About It!

Did We Forgot About Haiti?  Let's Talk About It!

Wed., January 12 at 7pm
880the, 880 am, or just check click here

January 12 marks the anniversary of the earthquake that ravaged Haiti.  On that day, the entire world focused its attention on the Island, its residents, and its diaspora.  In some ways the response to the earthquake was nothing short of inspiring, with millions of regular people contributing their money and time to help the earthquake survivors.  But a year later, has American and the world forgotten about the Haitian people?  Let's Talk About It!  Please join us for this important conversation.


A special comment and discussion about politically motivated shootings in Tuscon.

Join us and Lets Talk About It!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Aftermath: And The First New Years Resolution Is...

Not One More Senseless Killing.

The show is up, we had one of the realest conversations ever. First we heard from a witness in the New Year's Day Overtown police shooting.  Then we heard from community leaders working and living in Overtown like April Eddins, Petrina Williams, Julia Daniel, and Renita Holmes, and Shannan Reaze and we had Pat Santangelo from Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado's office and long time civil rights lawyer John De Leon.  You can download the show here or just press play below.

Thanks to co-sponsors of the show, including Trishal Siddharthan, a group of Med Students of U-M Miami, and the Indo-American Store .

Next weeks topic on the 1 year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake is: Have We Forgotten About Haiti?


January 20th marks the 2 year anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration as President.  We are marking that day by dedicating our show to the Hope and Change that we all fight for everyday.  But we also want to ask for if they are happy with the Hope and Change they are seeing. For some that show will be an introspection into what happened to the era of Hope and Change that folks thought they were ushered in.  For others it will be a call to action to be that hope and change.  Either way, we want to have a real conversation in real communities about how we REALLY bring hope and change to our communities and families in the next two years.  With that in mind, we our asking our dedicated listeners to organize listening parties for January 19th.  More details to follow...

Happy New Year again and Let's Talk About It!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year Or The Same Old..? Let's Talk About It!!!

 BRING IN THE NEW YEAR...WED 7PM on or 880 am or click here.


We just wanted to do this show on New Year's resolutions.  We wanted to know what you look forward to, and what you want to look out for.  Well we still do.  But down in Miami, in the neighborhood of Overtown, we got word that this happened on New Year's Day:


According to the clip, the man shot on New Year's Day by the SWAT Team was armed.  But at least one witness isn't so sure.  We will hear from him on the show.  The Mayor's office told us they will be on the show as well.  We will also be joined by attorney John De Leon and Overtown Activist Renita Holmes.  We will also hear clips from the residents of Overtown, including a witness to the shooting.

This is an issue that is happening in communities all across the please tune in...

But this is STILL the New Year, and we STILL want to know what your resolution for the New Year is.

So we are going to round the show off by asking you...

Are you committing to building a better self and a better world?  What's going to help you do that this year?  What's going to hinder you?

Please join us and

Let's Talk About It!!!