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Scene on Radio

Scene on Radio is a documentary show that asks, How’s it going in our society and culture? And leaves the studio to find out. Our current series, Seeing White, explores the history and meaning of Whiteness in American life. Produced and hosted by public radio veteran John Biewen at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
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Aug 24, 2017

The concluding episode in our series, Seeing White. An exploration of solutions and responses to America’s deep history of white supremacy by host John Biewen, with Chenjerai Kumanyika, Robin DiAngelo, and William “Sandy” Darity, Jr.

Aug 9, 2017

When it comes to U.S. government programs and support earmarked for the benefit of particular racial groups, history is clear. White folks have received most of the goodies.

By John Biewen, with Deena Hayes-Greene of the Racial Equity Institute and recurring series partner Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Jul 26, 2017

For Eddie Wise, owning a hog farm was a lifelong dream. In middle age, he and his wife, Dorothy, finally got a farm of their own. But they say that over the next twenty-five years, the U.S. government discriminated against them because of their race, and finally drove them off the land. Their story, by John Biewen, was produced in collaboration with Reveal.

Jul 12, 2017

For years, Myra Greene had explored blackness through her photography, often in self-portraits. She wondered, what would it mean to take pictures of whiteness? For her friends, what was it like to be photographed because you’re white? With another conversation between host John Biewen and series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika.  

Jun 28, 2017

For hundreds of years, the white-dominated American culture has raised the specter of the dangerous, violent black man. Host John Biewen tells the story of a confrontation with an African American teenager. Then he and recurring guest Chenjerai Kumanyika discuss that longstanding image – and its neglected flipside: white-on-black violence.

Jun 14, 2017

The story of Bhagat Singh Thind, and also of Takao Ozawa – Asian immigrants who, in the 1920s, sought to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that they were white in order to gain American citizenship. Thind’s “bargain with white supremacy,” and the deeply revealing results.

May 31, 2017

In 1919, a white mob forced the entire black population of Corbin, Kentucky, to leave, at gunpoint. It was one of many racial expulsions in the United States. What happened, and how such racial cleansings became “America’s family secret.”

The history of Corbin as presented by the Corbin city government, with no mention of the 1919 racial expulsion. 

Elliot Jaspin’s book, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansings in America

May 17, 2017

Scientists weren’t the first to divide humanity along racial – and and racist – lines. But for hundreds of years, racial scientists claimed to provide proof for those racist hierarchies – and some still do.

 

Resources for this episode:

Fatal Invention, by Dorothy Roberts

The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter

May 5, 2017

“How attached are you to the idea of being white?” Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to host John Biewen, as they revisit an unfinished conversation from a previous episode. Part 7 of our series, Seeing White.

 

Apr 26, 2017

When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Host John Biewen spoke with some white Southern friends about that tendency. Part Six of our ongoing series, Seeing White. With recurring guest, Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Image: A lynching on Clarkson Street, New York City, during the Draft Riots of 1863. Credit: Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation.

Shannon Sullivan’s books, Revealing Whiteness and Good White People.

 Thanks to Chris Julin, whose 1991 NPR report on the Wisconsin fishing rights dispute we featured.

Apr 12, 2017

Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history – the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors – following one of the major wars between Plains Indians and settlers. In this documentary, originally produced for This American Life, John goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.

 

Image: The Minnesota State Seal, 1858

 

Key sources for this episode:

Gwen Westerman, Mni Sota Makoce
Mary Wingerd, North Country: The Making of Minnesota

Mar 30, 2017

“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

 

Key sources for this episode:

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

The Racial Equity Institute

 

Mar 16, 2017

Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive – and strikingly cruel – laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

 

Key sources for this episode:

The Racial Equity Institute

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Mar 1, 2017

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

Photo: The Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal. The highlighted figure in the center is an effigy of Gomes Eanes de Zurara. The figure at the top right is Prince Henry the Navigator. Photo by Harvey Barrison.  

Feb 15, 2017

Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Jan 25, 2017

Facts can be ignored by the powers that be and still ignite a movement. An interview with Tim Tyson, author of the new book, The Blood of Emmett Till. Tyson was the first historian or journalist to interview the former Carolyn Bryant, the woman in whose name Emmett Till was murdered in 1955.

Jan 11, 2017

There’s a long and painful history in the U.S. of white men killing black men and boys without punishment. In this episode, we listen in on “Dar He,” the one-man play by Mike Wiley that brings to life the story of Emmett Till.

Dec 14, 2016

The last in our series exploring the spirit of America in the footsteps of one of its greatest writers, John Steinbeck. At key spots on Steinbeck’s 1960 journey across the country, we team up with artists to explore how things have changed, or not, and to talk back to Steinbeck across the years. In this episode, visits with theater director Troy Nickerson in Spokane, Washington, and poet Diana Garcia in Monterey, California.

Nov 30, 2016

The second in a three-part series, journeying into the soul of America through the eyes of artists, while following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck who drove across the country in 1960 for his iconic book, Travels with Charley. In this episode, photographer Wayne Gudmundson in eastern North Dakota, and Yurok basket weaver Susan “Tweet” Burdick in Humboldt County, California. Produced by John Biewen.

Nov 16, 2016

First in a three-part journey into the soul of America, through the eyes of working people who happen to be artists. In this episode, David Slater in Sag Harbor, New York, and Kalamu ya Salaam in New Orleans. Retracing the 1960 journey by writer John Steinbeck for his book, “Travels with Charley in Search of America.” Produced by John Biewen.

Nov 2, 2016

Siler City, North Carolina used to be a typical Southern town. Everybody was white or black. Now the town’s population is half Latino. One community’s journey through the “five stages of grief” – all the way to acceptance? By John Biewen and Tennessee Watson. Music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lucas Biewen.

Oct 19, 2016

How to grieve when the deaths come so quickly? How, as an African American mother, to protect your child’s innocence and hope? An audio essay by Stacia Brown.

Oct 7, 2016

Scene on Radio is a podcast that asks, How’s it going out there? And leaves the studio to find out, capturing the sounds of life happening and telling stories that explore human experience and American society. 

Jul 27, 2016

The last installment in our Storymakers series. Four pieces by citizen storytellers on living together, and apart, in Durham, North Carolina. By Vimala Rajendran, Chip and Teddy Denton, Courtney Reid-Eaton, and Nia Wilson.

Jul 13, 2016


More from our team of citizen storytellers in Durham, NC. Stories by Courtney Smith, Katt Ryce, and Kimani Hall, exploring the things that unite and divide people in Durham and in America. Part of Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica initiative.

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