Pico, Pio & Garza, Robert — Meet the Last Mexican Governor of California

Radio Curious goes back into California history about 165 years, and visits with the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico. Born at the San Gabriel Mission in 1801, Pico was of Spanish, Italian, Indian and African ancestry. Both as a politician and as an entrepreneur, he espoused the views of many native-born “Californarios” over distant seats of government.

As the last Mexican Governor of California, he presided over the secularization of the missions, and turned over their vast land holdings to private hands. Although he fled California during the American takeover, Pio Pico returned to build the first major hotel in Los Angeles. Later, he served on the Los Angeles City Council.

I met with Pio Pico, portrayed by Roberto Garza, in February of 1998.  When Pio Pico and I met in the person of Roberto Garza we began when I asked him to tell us about his life.

The book Pio Pico recommends is “Pio Pico, A Historical Narrative,” by Pio Pico. Roberto Graza recommends “Pio Pico Miscellany,” by Martin Cole and “The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890,” by Leonard Pitt.

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Sullivan, Michael Gene — Political Theater, Black Men and the Police

Theatre as a commentary on the condition of society is the subject of this edition of Radio Curious.  The topic is the relationship of police and black men in America in 2015.  Our guest is Michael Gene Sullivan, the resident playwright, director and a principal actor in “2015: Freedomland,” this year’s production by the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

The first question and answer on the frequently asked questions page on the San Francisco Mime Troupe website is:  “Why do you call yourself a Mime Troupe if you talk and sing?”  The answer is:  “We use the term mime in its classical and original definition, ‘The exaggeration of daily life in story and song.’”

When Michael Gene Sullivan and I visited by phone from his home in San Francisco on June 29, 2015, I asked him if “2015: Freedomland” was an exaggeration of daily life in story and song from his perspective.

The book Michael Gene Sullivan recommends is “The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Force,” by Redley Balko.

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Patterson, Dr. Victoria — Native American Life, Before and After Europeans Part Two

Cultures that have no written language pass on their histories through oral traditions. The stories are the way that social values and traditions are taught by one generation to the next. Animals often play a significant character role in these stories.

In the Native American traditions of the northwest part of California, the coyote is a popular character. Dr. Victoria Patterson, an anthropologist based in Ukiah, California, has worked with native peoples for over 30 years. She knows these stories, and she sees them as windows, allowing us to imagine how original native peoples of northern California thought and lived.

I met with Dr. Victoria Patterson and asked her about the significance of the story where the coyote jumped off into the sky. Our discussion lead to a two-part program, originally broadcast in February of 1999.  In part one we discuss the indigenous stories and in part two we discuss how the northern California indigenous communities changed after European colonization.

The books Dr. Victoria Patterson recommends are “Deep Valley,” by Bernard W. Aginsky and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes.

Originally Broadcast: February 16, 1999 and February 26, 1999.

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Lowe, Felicia — Chinese Immigration:  The Veil of Secrecy and Silence

Secrecy of and revelation about the trip to America to secure a new life during the Chinese Exclusion era is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. 

Our guest is Felicia Lowe, whose filmChinese Couplets” tells her mother’s story.  Felicia Lowe was met with refusals and silence when as a child she asked her mother about her childhood. This shroud of silence was lifted when Felicia Lowe’s daughter found an old family photograph taken in China and asked her grandmother to tell the story related to the photograph. 

The film “Chinese Couplets” shows and tells the story of a childhood in rural China, the new identity to secure passage to America, the fear of deportation if the truth were known, and a prosperous and successful life of an immigrant Chinese woman in Oakland, California.   The film “Chinese Couplets” will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 10 am in the Village of Mendocino, California.

When Felicia Lowe and I visited by phone from her home in San Francisco, California, May 17, 2015, I asked her to tell us about her mother.

The book Felicia Lowe recommends is “The Blues Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

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Schwartz, Lacey — Nobody Discussed It:  Lacey Schwartz and “Little White Lie”

The secret revealed in the life of Lacey Schwartz, born in 1987 to a white Jewish family in rural upstate New York, where she grew up, is that her biological father was black.  The few who knew her truth remained silent until after her first year of college when she asked her mother why she looked the way she did.  Lacey Schwartz is the producer and director of the film Little White Lie,” which documents her family secret.

“Little White Lie” will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival on Friday, May 29, 2015, at 5:30 pm, in the Village of Mendocino, California.

Lacey Schwartz and I visited by phone from her home near New York City, on May 11, 2015.  First we hear a clip of Lacey’s voice taken from the introduction of the film “Little White Lie,” and later intersperse our conversation with clips from the film. 

The book Lacey Schwartz recommends is “How It Feels to Be Free:  Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement,” by Ruth Feldstein.

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Marshall, Joseph Ph.D. — Black Lives:  Alive and Free

Keeping young black men alive and free is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, who in 1987 co-founded the Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, now called “Alive and Free,” of which he is the executive director.

Alive and Free is a community violence prevention effort for at-risk inner city youth and a surrogate family support system for young black men and women, based in San Francisco, California, to encourage their academic pursuits and obtain financial help for college.  

Joseph Marshall is also the host of Street Soldiers Radio, broadcast every Sunday evening on KMEL 106.1 FM at 8 pm.  In 1994 he received a McArthur Foundation Genius Award for his skills and accomplishments.

Dr. Joseph E. Marshall and I visited by phone, from his office in San Francisco, California on May 4, 2015, and began our conversation with his description of Alive and Free.

The books Joseph Marshall recommends are “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and “Street Soldier:  One Man’s Struggle to Save a Generation – One Life at a Time,” by Joseph Marshall and Lonnie Wheeler.

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Bayer, Jaciara: Transracial Adoptions and White Privilege

We continue our discussion of racism and white privilege in Mendocino County, California, with a 30 year old Brazilian born woman,  who is currently studying for a master’s degree in social work at the California State University at Hayward.

Jaciara Bayer was adopted and brought to the United States at age 11 months by her single, white-American mother and grew up in Ukiah, California.  

A transracial adoption, which may be an international adoption, is the primary focus of Jaciara Bayer’s plan of study for her master’s degree.  Sharing her personal experiences, she tells us of being told she’s different, growing up in a white family and white privilege.  When Jaci, as she is often known, and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on March 23, 2015, she began with her earliest memories.

The book Jaciara Bayer recommends is “In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want,” by Iyanla Van Zant.

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Kiggins, Josanna — Josanna Kiggins: Skin Color, Gender and Song

Radio Curious continues our conversation about racial discrimination, cultural gender norms and expected behaviors. 

Our guest, Josanna Kiggins, is a parent, student, singer, singing and cultural education teacher, and a medical receptionist.  A native of Salvador, Brazil Josanna has lived here in Ukiah, California, for 30 years.  She’s someone I’ve known almost that long.    

When Josanna Kiggins and I visited at Radio Curious on March 14, 2015, she described her experiences, values and goals.   Her story begins when she was 9 months old. 

The book Josanna Kiggins recommends is “Hard Laughter,” by Anne Lamont.

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Mbaabu, Brenda — A Contemporary Woman’s History

The experience of immigrating, at age 13, to America from Nairobi, Kenya, and bringing the traditional roots of her ancestors’ lives from the remote village of the Meru people of northeast Kenya, are the stories told in this edition of Radio Curious by our guest Brenda Mbaabu. She shares her tribal legends, family background, and her experiences in the United States.  A woman in her mid-twenties, now working as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Ukiah, California, Brenda Mbaabu and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on February 28, 2015.  We began with her description of the Meru, her family and their importance to her.

The books Brenda Mbaabu recommends are “The Bible” and “Little Bee” by Chris Cleve.    

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Totten, Sam — Genocide by Attrition

Black history is acknowledged in the month of February in the United States and is lived every day in the African continent. The history of the continuing genocide by attrition within the nation of Sudan is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. Sudan is located in northeast Africa, south of Egypt, and east of the Red Sea and the nations of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The people of Sudan continue to be killed by war and famine as has happened for generations.

Twice Radio Curious has considered this little discussed topic with University of Arkansas Professor Emeritus Sam Totten, author of “Genocide by Attrition: Nuba Mountains, Sudan,” and “An Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide.”  Totten is a scholar who has devoted his career to the study of genocide and genocide by attrition. In 2011, we first discussed the disaster in southern Sudan. Again in 2013, Totten described the genocide by attrition of the people of south Sudan, which has continued to become increasingly drastic in the past two years.

Professor Totten continues to follow this crisis between the people of the Nuba Mountains and the Sudanese government in the state of South Kordofan, Sudan. In late December 2014, he returned from what he described as “a tough, tough trip to the Nuba Mountains in order to carry up ten tons of food to desperate civilians who face daily bombing sorties by the Government of Sudan using Antonov bombers.” He reports some very close calls, traveling with rebels to recently bombed villages. When Sam Totten and I visited by phone from his home near Fayetteville, Arkansas, on February 19, 2015, he began with a brief history of this continuing crisis.

The book Professor Sam Totten recommends is “Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament,” by Kay Redfield Jamison.

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