Fearing the Other

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Original Air Date: 
December 21, 2014

Are Americans afraid of black men? That's one of the issues at the heart of the national debate over the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. This hour, we take a closer look at negative stereotypes about African American men, how those biases affect our justice system, and what we might be able to do about it.

Note: The murder of two New York City police officers over the weekend will likely shape the debate over race in this country in the weeks to come. This episode, which was recorded a few days before the tragic shooting, was our examination of one component of racial tension: fear. We hope to continue talking about the subject in the weeks to come.

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What happens when you discover racial fear in yourself? Rachel Shadoan recently reached an uncomfortable conclusion: she was afraid of black men. Rachel was appalled and decided to do something about it. She tells her story in an article titled, "I am racist and so are you."

Demonstrators protest police brutality at a June 2 event in front of the White House.
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At the heart of many Americans' fear of Black men is an ugly stereotype — the stereotype of the Black criminal. Historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad traces some of our current attitudes about race and crime to the late 19th century, when sociologists first began looking at crime statistics.

Length: 
12:29
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Everyone's afraid of something. Here's a small sampling of fears from Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia project that fosters dialogue between African American men of diverse backgrounds.

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The high profile deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have raised all sorts of questions about racial profiling and the use of force by law enforcement. For writer Emily Bazelon, the debate has also raised an ethical question: When do you call the cops on an African American man?

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In 2010, then-LAPD Chief William Bratton asked civil rights attorney Connie Rice to investigate the biggest police corruption scandal in Los Angeles history, and to train 50 LAPD officers in what she calls "public trust policing."

Length: 
13:14
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Dangerous Ideas

Writer Karen Armstrong's dangerous idea is to love your enemies.

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Reverend Alex Gee tells Steve Paulson how rappers like Tupac Shakur function as prophets for the hip hop generation, and how he incorporates rap music into his liturgy.

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December 21, 2014
Last modified: 
May 20, 2020