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Recent Episodes and Articles

Ferguson, a Suburb Like Any Other

Monday, August 25, 2014

Michael Brown's death has focused worldwide attention on Ferguson, Missouri. But the racial divisions that surfaced in this St. Louis suburb are common to suburbs across America.
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The Dark Side of Fair Skin

Monday, April 07, 2014

In the ‘60’s and 70’s "Black is Beautiful" became a rallying cry for African Americans. Yet within the South Asian community, lightening products are a multi-billion dollar industry promising complexions and "whitish" skin tone. 

 

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Talib Kweli in Conversation

Monday, April 07, 2014

Arun Venugopal speaks with Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli about music, memories and the good and bad of gentrification.

 

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The Case for Arranged Marriage

Monday, April 07, 2014

Could it be that your family knows better than you when it comes to your love life?

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Micropolis: See the Streets Through an Ex-Con's Eyes

Monday, April 07, 2014

Alvin Entzminger, an ex-con and a long-time Central Harlem resident, shows you what you're overloooking.

 

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When Is it Funny? When Is it Racist?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Reporter Arun Venugopal talks to Amber Ruffin, writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers, about how comedy is subverting racial stereotypes.  

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One Indian Man Eats and Tells

Monday, April 07, 2014

As a South Asian growing up in Texas, Arun Venugopal never thought twice about eating with his hands while at home but in public in front of his friends and strangers alike, it was a different story. Arun hits Wall Street to see if this taboo of his childhood is still relevant in NYC today.

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Micropolis: Fight the Pigmentocracy

Monday, April 07, 2014

Video blogger Franchesca Ramsey has made a reputation for funny, provocative observations about race and American culture. The comedian and graphic designer is most famous for her viral video “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls” which has received more than 10 million views to date. She sits down in a WNYC studio to compare skin tones with Arun and talk about the differences in the way African Americans and South Asians view pigment.

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MICROPOLIS: Are Ethnic Enclaves Bad for Immigrants?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ethnic enclaves are among the jewels of New York — places where the city's immigrants can ease their way into American life while holding onto aspects of the old country. And of course, for outsiders, opportunities to get the "most authentic" dumplings/kababs/tamales. But in some cases there's a serious downside: they stifle English proficiency and limit opportunities to climb the economic ladder.

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MICROPOLIS: The Pope Francis Effect

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Even in New York, where issues of faith usually reside on the margins of public life, the Pope has people talking. And although much of what he says is viewed through the reductive lens of politics — Is he liberal? Is he conservative? — for many Catholics his words have a deeply personal, emotional impact. 

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MICROPOLIS: Sikh Men & the Meaning of Turbans

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In this latest episode of Micropolis, we examine the age-old persecution of Sikhs, from India to post-9/11 America. Why do Sikhs such as actor Waris Ahluwalia (Inside Man, The Darjeeling Limited) identify with the racial history of African Americans?

And why, despite persecution and name-calling, do Sikh men continue to wear turbans?

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MICROPOLIS: Transgender Training / Sex Work Survival Tips

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

New York City -- universal beacon for gays and lesbians, right? Maybe, but ask some people how safe they feel on the streets, and they'll say, not very. Especially transgender women of color, who speak of constant harassment, threats and actual violence

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MICROPOLIS: Trayvon Martin and the Threat of Black Manhood

Monday, July 15, 2013

In this episode of Micropolis, we ask whether it's possible for black men to avoid being profiled. For some black men, the answer is yes, but it involves making compromises -- in terms of clothing, language and manner -- that others find detestable. 

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MICROPOLIS: Graduation Day at Sing Sing Prison

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Forty percent of the inmates in New York state return to prison within three years of their release. But there are important exceptions. Among those are the maximum security inmates behind the walls of Sing Sing in Ossining, NY who have obtained a masters degree in Professional Studies —a one-year graduate degree administered by the New York Theological Seminary. Their recidivism rate over 31 years has been just 10 percent. The rate for those who've left with a degree in the last five years? Zero.

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MICROPOLIS: 'All in the Family' and the Search for a More Perfect Union

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Actress Jean Stapleton, who played the iconic role of Edith Bunker on TV's 'All in the Family,' died on Saturday, at the age of 90. For this latest episode of Micropolis, WNYC's Arun Venugopal examines the impact the show had on his own family -- who immigrated from India just a year before the show premiered, in 1971 -- as well as others trying to make sense of the era.

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Hasidic Supermarkets and the Virtues of Insularity

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New York has more foreign-born residents than any other city in the world: more than L.A. or Hong Kong, and two-and-a-half times as many as London. But in this latest episode of Micropolis, we consider what's lost when people of different cultures and belief systems try to co-exist. In other words, what's the downside of diversity?

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Micropolis: Mapping Love, Hate & Loss in Manhattan

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's with this city, that we endlessly dissect it, glorify it, wonder how exactly we fit into it?

It's such a strange, narcissistic thing to do but it's kind of irresistible too. So the other day I went on a walk with Becky Cooper, the author of a new book, 'Mapping Manhattan,' and Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, who wrote the introduction. 

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Micropolis: Images of Addiction in the Bronx

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In this episode of Micropolis, WNYC's Arun Venugopal ventures into the home of Michael, a transsexual prostitute and heroin addict -- and, as you can hear in the segment above -- given to baking cookies for her guests.

Michael, who also goes by the name Shelly, or Michelle, is one of the subjects of "Portraits of Addiction," an ongoing project by Wall Street trader-turned-photographer Chris Arnade and writer Cassie Rodenberg. 

The series, now in its third year, brings viewers into close contact with addicts and prostitutes in Hunts Point, in the Bronx. View the series Tumblr here, or the Flickr page.

In addition to images, the project gives us insights into the lives of its subjects. Thirty-five year old Vanessa, seen below, "was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends." When asked how she wanted to be described, one friend jumped in and said "She's the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on."

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Micropolis: Musicians Make the Noisiest Neighbors

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Practice, practice and so forth: everyone knows the long and tortured path to musical greatness.

But for every thrilling debut at Carnegie Hall, every heart-rending aria sung at the Met, there's a back story. A dark, discordant tale that finds a solitary musician banging away for hours in a 4th-floor Upper East Side walkup as the next-door neighbor goes purple with rage. 

For this latest episode of Micropolis, we explore the not-so-harmonious side of the New York musician's life, wherein one wrong chord can result in a knock on the door, a volley of abuse, and maybe even... MURDER.

Listen to the entire story above, or read what Stephen Hough, Richard Goode and other musicians have to say, below.

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Micropolis: Gay Marriage, Bollywood Version

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To understand just how much America -- and it's ideas about gay rights and other issues -- continue to influence the rest of the world, it's worth watching a movie called English Vinglish, a Bollywood hit from last year, starring Indian screen legend Sridevi. Her character, Shashi, is visiting her sister in the U.S. for a few weeks, and starts taking English-language classes in Manhattan.

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