Woodbine, Onaje Ph.D. — Black Gods of the Asphalt Part Two

The transcendent experience of street basketball is the topic of two conversations with Onaje X. O. Woodbine, author of “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.” Woodbine grew up in the inner-city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, became a skilled street basketball player and attended Yale University on a basketball scholarship. After two years as a star player on the Yale team, he chose a different life path and quit.

After graduating from Yale, Woodbine earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University. His book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt” presents a social-anthropological view of this inner-city sport where coaches often assume the role of father, mentor and friend. He contrasts the lessons learned on the street basketball courts, with those learned at the predominantly white basketball courts and locker rooms of Yale University.

Onaje Woodbine visited with Radio Curious by phone on August 13, 2016, from his home in Andover, Massachusetts. In part one we discussed his experiences growing up and playing on the basketball courts in the inner city and how that differend from the Ivy League schools he later went to. In part two, we began our conversation when I asked him to explain the ethnographic research and methods he used in making his book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt.”

The book Dr. Onaje Woodbine recommends is “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Woodbine, Onaje Ph.D. — Black Gods of the Asphalt Part One

The transcendent experience of street basketball is the topic of two conversations with Onaje X. O. Woodbine, author of “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.” Woodbine grew up in the inner-city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, became a skilled street basketball player and attended Yale University on a basketball scholarship. After two years as a star player on the Yale team, he chose a different life path and quit.

After graduating from Yale, Woodbine earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University. His book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt” presents a social-anthropological view of this inner-city sport where coaches often assume the role of father, mentor and friend. He contrasts the lessons learned on the street basketball courts, with those learned at the predominantly white basketball courts and locker rooms of Yale University.

Onaje Woodbine visited with Radio Curious by phone on August 13, 2016, from his home in Andover, Massachusetts, and began part one by describing his relationship with his father, Dr. Robert Woodbine.  In part two he discusses the ethnographic research and methods he used in making his book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt.”

The book Dr. Onaje Woodbine recommends is “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Stiefel, Frank — “Ingelore” Speaking Without Hearing

What would it be like for you if you were deaf? If you could not speak your first word until you were six? If you had three years of education, your first language was German, and you later emigrated to another country where they speak English?  Ingelore is the first name of a woman who was born in Germany in 1924, and came to America in 1940 at the beginning of the Third Reich, right after Kristallnacht. The film “Ingelore” was made by Inglelore’s son Frank Stiefel, and it tells his mother’s story.

In this edition of Radio Curious, we begin with Ingelore in her own words from the documentary “Ingelore.” As you hear her ability to articulate words in English it’s important to remember she cannot hear.

This interview was recorded on May 29th, 2010 with Frank Stiefel from his home in Santa Monica, California.

The books that Frank Stiefel recommends are “Hand Of My Father,” by Myron Uhlberg, and “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy.

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Benton, Robert — The Human Stain

This program is about “passing,” a term sometimes used to define a person of color who passes as white. From the 2004 Radio Curious archives we revisit a conversation with film director Robert Benton, about his film “The Human Stain.” It’s a movie about the life of Coleman Silk, an eminent Jewish intellectual and devoted husband; a professor of classics at a small New England college.  The truth about Coleman Silk, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is far more complex than expected or thought to be.  He hid behind a veil of lies, having masked his African-American origins in order to find a freedom he thought would otherwise be impossible to achieve.  But his world of deception unraveled after embarking on a romance with a much younger woman.

Our guest, Robert Benton, is a three time Academy Awards winner for his work as the Director of “Kramer Vs. Kramer,” “Places in the Heart,” and “Nobody’s Fool.” His film, “The Human Stain,” takes place in the 1990s and is based on the third novel of Phillip Roth’s “American Trilogy” describing the post World War Two turmoil in America.

The title “The Human Stain” emerges from the idea that no matter what a person does, a human being leaves a mark on the world, whether by rage, desire, ambition or accident, a kind of scar; stain that cannot be undone.  For Coleman Silk that stain is the deception and concealment he carried for decades. The human stain is the mark we leave on everything.  It speaks to the fact that we can’t get through life without marking the world around us in some way. We have no choice. It’s part of being human.

Robert Benton and I visited by phone in the fall of 2004.

The books Robert Benton recommends are “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night,” by Mark Haddon and “The Manuscript Found in Sargossa,” by Jan Potocki.

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Dr. Alondra Nelson – Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

 

Who we are and where we come from is a crucial question that now we are more able to answer than ever before. The examination and analysis of our individual DNA, in addition to answering a myriad of medical and forensic secrets also reveals the mix of our individual ancestors and the paths they took. This analysis provides significant and untold information about who we are, from where we came and how we may connect with our relatives.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, the Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, in New York City, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Professor Nelson is the author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome. She s also the author of Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, which she and I have previously discussed on Radio Curious.

To discuss The Social Life of DNA, Professor Nelson and I visited by phone from her office n New York City, on February 19, 2016. We began by noting that although all human beings are members of the human race, people are grouped by skin color and/or facial features and characterized as being of a different race.

The book she recommends is “Come Out Swinging,” by Lucia Trimbur.

This program was recorded on February 19, 2016.

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Livingston, Gordon M.D. — How To Love?

Everybody thinks about love and many people say “I love you”, but how is love defined? The book “How To Love” written by psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Livingston grapples with these and many other questions about love, and how to find a compatible and pleasurable partnership. In this interview, we discuss how to choose more carefully, in matters of love to get what we desire and deserve. The song, “Do You Love Me?” from the musical “Fiddler On The Roof,” is our background music. Dr. Gordon Livingston spoke from his home in Columbia, Maryland on July 13th 2009, where he lives and practices psychiatry. The conversation began when I asked Dr. Livingston to define love.

The book Dr. Gordon Livingston recommends is “All He Ever Wanted,” by Anita Shreve.

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Peru: Ancient History and Today

Peru is a county about which I’ve been curious for over 60 years, beginning when I first learned of the Inca Empire.  Ten years later the Peace Corps sent me to Peru as volunteer for two years in 1964.

Peru’s current societies are windows into a world in which many Andean people live in the three adjoining countries of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.   The complex societies which flourished in this region, centuries before the Inca Empire was destroyed by the Spanish invaders in the 16th century are still very much a part of the lives of people whose homes and communities are located high in the Andes between 10,000 and 14,000 feet above sea level.  Many still enjoy and celebrate the traditions rooted in the ancient cultures of their land.

When Radio Curious visited Peru and Bolivia in the fall of 2015 we engaged in several conversations about ancient and current times in Peru. Edith Zapata, an independent licensed Peruvian tour guide, based in Cusco, Peru, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Edith Zapata and I visited in the court yard of a somewhat noisy guest hostal in Cusco, Peru, on November 10, 2015.  We began our conversation with her description of the geological history of the Cusco valley, and moved forward in time to how some of the current leaders of the Catholic Church and some of the people of the greater Cusco area related to each other.

Edith Zapata, a licensed independent Peruvian tour guide, based in Cusco, Peru.  You may contact her by email at ezv27@hotmail.com.  The movie she recommends is “In Search of Happyness,” starring Will Smith.

Click here to listen, or download this program on the link below.

 

 

Blincoe, Bob — Kurdish People:  Their Struggle to Keep Their Homeland

In this 1997 edition of Radio Curious, we visited with Bob Blincoe, a Presbyterian minister, who lived and worked among the Kurds in the Zagros Mountains from 1990 to 1996.  

The Kurdish people have long been aptly referred to as a “millet.”  This is a Turkish term that originated in the Ottoman Empire when it ruled parts of central Europe to the near east from 1430 to 1921.  It means “any ethnic group.” Until the 20th century millets, were able to control their way of life and effectively rule themselves.  Now approximately 25 million Kurdish people live in the Zagros Mountains, where the borders of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran converge.  These Kurdish people live stateless and many homeless in their ancestral homeland.  Currently they have been able to successfully defend themselves from brutal ISIS attacks. 

When Bob Blincoe lived among the Kurds and worked as a community organizer in their ancestral homeland he first spoke Arabic, so he wouldn’t stand out.  He quickly learned Kurdish which he spoke only with great discretion. His stories of the Kurdish people are important to consider now in light of terrorism and other dangers inflicted against them.

When Bob Blincoe and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious in the spring of 1997, we began our conversation when I asked him to describe the Zagros Mountains where so many Kurdish people live.

The book Bob Blincoe recommends is “A Peace to End All Peace,” by David Fromkin.

This program was originally broadcast in May 1997.

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Gilbert, Ronnie — A Memorial Tribute

In this edition of Radio Curious we honor and pay tribute to folk singer Ronnie Gilbert, who died on June 6, 2015 at the age of 88. She is well known for her powerful contralto voice as a member of the Weavers, the extraordinarily popular folk music quartet that in 1950s and 1960s. She also had careers as an actor and a psychologist.

From the Radio Curious archives, recorded in September 1996, Ronnie Gilbert describes her introduction to music and dance, how the Weavers came together; their blacklist experience; her thoughts about turning 70 years old when this program was recorded in 1996; and her friendship and work with Holly Near. We conclude with Holly Near recalling her friendship with Ronnie Gilbert.
The books Ronnie Gilbert recommends are “The Moors Last Sigh” by Salman Rushdie, “Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet and “Eyewitness: A Personal Account of the Unraveling of the Soviet Union” by Vladimir Pozner.

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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.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.