Michelle Norris on The Grace of Silence

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michelle Norris, cohost of NPR’s All Things Considered, discusses “the hidden conversation” on race that’s unfolding in America. In her new book The Grace of Silence, she unearthed and confronted painful family secrets and came to terms with her own identity and the history of race in her family.


Michelle Norris

Comments [10]

gina ballinger from graz, austria

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INTERVIEW! continued dialog is the chance we have. grew up in LA, CA; my adult life is here. Michele and Barack Obama and their team and such interviews are the stuff that are the america i still vote for.

Sep. 27 2010 08:35 AM
Allison Moore from Fort Lee, NJ

The whole interview today was informative for me, but as an anti-racism trainer one of the real jewels was the last few minutes of the interview where Borowitz and Norris talk about the importance and difficulty of 1-1 conversations about race in "most-racial" America. Conversations between folks of any two different ethnicities, ideally over time and with enough trust to withstand some painful truths, are essential to healthy multicultural democracy.

Sep. 21 2010 10:46 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ terry_dover_nj

Yes, game set and match. Here we have the ideal NPR listener:

Filled with white guilt? Check.

Patronizing concern for the victims of violent discrimination? Check.

Preaching to the choir? Check.

Are you going to make it all better for the black man who spent his whole life eschewing victim-hood and has succeeded for it? This guy (Michelle's father) controlled his anger, built a career and family and avoided letting something he could not control ruin his life. this is what any man should do - why does he need your affirmation? Why do you feel the need to give it?

Are you here to admonish other white people for not going back in time and changing the world with a mind control ray?

Listen dude, we may not live in "post-racial" America but this is one of the few places in the world where racism is actually out of fashion among the middle class. If a bunch or wacko racists still exist so what? They always will. If a little mild racism lingers guess what else? It always will, that's human nature, sorry to disappoint you. Active discrimination against blacks in jobs, housing and essential services is a thing of the past except in elite circles where rich conservatives need scapegoats and rich liberals need to perpetuate poverty in order to ensure their political base continues to vote out of fear... and you guessed it, both these groups will always play poor people against each other - it's as old as civilization.

Books like this are the last gasp of the professional grievance business which is concerned with dredging up historical injustice to perpetuate entitlement and insularity, it is an essentially divisive aim which only serves to nourish the career of mediocre journalists, politicians, teachers, etc.

And don't talk to me about "Europe" like it's some sort of paradise - got to "Europe" and talk to an average working class European before you go on about how "advanced" they are. LOL

Sep. 21 2010 01:29 PM

from the comments it appears that most of the listeners for this story were white. i am a middle aged white guy who, like many, grew up in a white suburb. i wish i could tell Michelle's father that his shooting was nothing he had to be ashamed of (it was white America that should have been ashamed).

Sep. 21 2010 01:07 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Sorry, but I couldn't help but notice how this "journalist" mentioned in this interview how often she reflexively asks herself how she can "direct" the conversation and by implication her reporting...

I Know that nobody can be wholly objective but aren't journalists supposed to try? At least a little? NPR is far superior to a purely political propaganda machine like FOX but let's not kid ourselves about how self congratulatory most of the reporting on NPR is. It's no wonder we have a Tea Party when leftist media like NPR couches all of their personal opinions in pseudo intellectual clap trap that brooks no contempt for the PC party line.

Sep. 21 2010 12:45 PM

Ugh! Can't stand the sound of her voice. Tuned out for a half hour and still caught that last bit.

And, really, ME-shell? That annoys me, too.

So pretentious.

Sep. 21 2010 12:42 PM
freestuffffff from Downtown Manhattan

When I was in kindergarten we had an "Aunt Jemima" visit us at our school in an all-white small town in Wisconsin in 1959 or 1960. I remember she sang spirituals and taught us "The Smokey the Bear Song." She presented a remarkable, joyous show and we all loved her. In retrospect it all seems a bit surreal; but, cultural creepiness aside, I have to say as little kids we did not notice any implied disrespect. For most of us she was the first African-American we had ever seen in person, and the experience was completely positive. Whether this was Ms. Norris's grandmother or another wonderful performer in the role, there is nothing to be anything but proud of.

Sep. 21 2010 12:38 PM
Laura from UWS

Please tell Michelle Norris that c. 1950 when I first encountered them, I assumed both Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben were Presidents of their own corporations. Highly competent in their fields.
I grew up in an all-white suburb and knew few black people, but Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben had the same 'gravitas' and looked the same age as my own grandfather who was President of his own company.

It's wonderful to hear Michelle Norris. Many thanks.

Sep. 21 2010 12:35 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Michelle has a great voice but c'mon, none of this is all that interesting. The fact that she's trotting out every embarrassing little family secret just to try and sell a book on "hidden conversations about race" is transparently exploitative. Your family was right to be annoyed - this advances the "conversation", as you and every NPR correspondent so annoyingly refers to your unvarnished opinions and biases, not at all though I'm sure your career will get a boost now that you're a published author of family gossip.

Sep. 21 2010 12:27 PM
Andy from Australia

Hi my name is Andrew, but please call me "Andy"! I am not sure who will receive my message!
But i have to say- i LOVE your radio NPR broadcast and Michelle Norris she Rocks my world everyday when i listen in! At work at 12 noon every day on the AM dial. I am Melbourne Australia!
But i have to say i love the American accent, and i have same friends online that live in U.S. And i secretly i would want love to live in your Beautiful country.
Oh well...i will keep dreaming on :)

All my Best wishes Michelle for your new book!
I hope to buy it when it becomes available online.

Have a lovely day my friends in America.

Very Kind Regards,
God bless.
Andy :)

Sep. 21 2010 05:18 AM

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