Welcome to Under-Told: Verbatim, an Under-Told Stories Project Podcast.
We report from all over the world for PBS NewsHour on the consequences of poverty and the work of change agents addressing them. We’ve done extended interviews with hundreds of experts and people making a difference in their communities. In this podcast we’re revisiting those under-told stories so you can hear changemakers around the world in their own words. This is Under-Told: Verbatim.
Minding the Education Gap
Thetis White’s class is diverse—filled with students from different races and backgrounds, who are all taught by a Black man. That’s not uncommon at Monroe Elementary in Brooklyn Park, a diverse suburb of Minneapolis, but it is rare in Minnesota as a whole, where fewer than one percent of teachers are Black men. Experts say the low number of teachers of color contributes to wide educational disparities in Minnesota. The state has historically ranked near the top in test scores and graduation rates. But those numbers mask wide differences between white and, in particular, Black students.This year, about 52 percent of white students met state standards for math, compared to 18 percent of Black students. And, on reading, 60 percent of white students were proficient, double the percentage of Black students.
Becoming a Black Homeowner in the Twin Cities
Buying a home is a rite of passage, a life-changing step—but in the Twin Cities especially, this crucial key to accumulating and passing down wealth is much harder to come by if you are Black. Just 25 percent of Black residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul own their homes. That’s far below the national average, especially considering the Twin Cities are widely regarded as one of the country’s most affordable metros. As far as white residents here, though, 75 percent are homeowners. This episode of Under-Told: Verbatim includes interviews with new homeowners Tim and Melva Luckett, aspiring homeowner Lilricka Barber, Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho and historian Kirsten Delegard, who leads the Mapping Prejudice Project.
Colorism and Skin Lightening Products
Especially in the United States, many think of racism as a black and white issue—but less talked about is colorism, the preference for lighter skin within communities of color. Safiya Mohamed is a Somali American journalism student at the University of St. Thomas, where our Under-Told Stories Project offices are based. Our PBS NewsHour report on the global desire for lighter skin and the potentially toxic steps some will take to get it covered the impact of Amira Adawe’s activism on the cosmetics industry through her organization, Beautywell—but this episode of Under-Told Verbatim explores the impact of Beautywell’s Young Women’s Wellness and Leadership Initiative, in which Safiya Mohamed participated.
Minnesotans, now more than ever, are waking up to the realities of racial inequity in their communities. In St. Paul, activists with ReConnect Rondo have a new suggestion: they want to build a land bridge over Interstate 94 to rejoin the old Rondo neighborhood, which was destroyed decades ago by the construction of the freeway. In this episode, our intern Emily Haugen interviewed those leading the charge, plus city and state officials working to right past wrongs.
Michael Osterholm on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
It’s April 2021—the COVID-19 pandemic has been omnipresent for more than a year, and vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are rolling out across the United States. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve reported on essential workers, focusing especially on some of the most overlooked employees - in the U.S. some 50,000 meatpackers have had COVID-19 and about 250 lost their lives. This episode features an interview with University of Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm about the vaccine rollout for meatpacking workers in rural areas like Worthington, Minnesota.
A Mother’s Love
Lisa Clemons is a former Minneapolis police officer who founded a non-profit called A Mother’s Love—a brigade of people in bright pink t-shirts trying to bring back the metaphorical village they say it takes to raise a child. Clemons dreamed of being a cop since she was young, but left the department 20 years ago for a broader advocacy. Our correspondent, Fred de Sam Lazaro, spent a cold November day with her as Clemons and her team passed out COVID kits of masks and toiletries, purchased hams or turkeys and organized an upcoming Christmas toy drive.