WNYC Presents "Dear President: What You Need to Know about Race in America"

WNYC Presents DEAR PRESIDENT: What You Need to Know About Race in America

A Post-Election Series of First-Person Radio Essays Exploring
Personal Truths and the Black Experience Now,
Accompanied by Community Conversations to Set Forth a New Agenda for Racial Equality

Essayists Include Critically Acclaimed Novelist Kaitlyn Greenidge,
Robert Jones, Jr. aka Son of Baldwin, Founder of Very Smart Brothas (VSB.com) Damon Young, Theo Shaw of the Wrongly Convicted Louisiana “Jena 6,” and Kirsten West Savali of The Root.

Live Event Series to Kick-off December 1 in The Greene Space at WNYC
Additional Events in Newark and Washington, DC

(New York, NY – November 14, 2016) – The long and contentious election cycle may be over, but President-elect Trump will have new issues to contend with once he’s sworn into office – among them the nation’s enduring wound of racism.

Beginning today, WNYC presents “Dear President: What You Need to Know about Race in America, a series of first-person essays by notable and emerging African-American thinkers, writers and activists about core truths that Americans – including the President-elect – need to understand about race today.

Audio versions of the essays – which range in topics from black masculinity to the perils of progress to the interminability of mass incarceration – will air on WNYC’s Morning Edition every day this week. WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show will devote special segments to “Dear President” by convening discussions and call-ins with the authors and others active in addressing issues of race. In addition, Samaria Rice, activist and mother of Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old boy shot by police near his home in Cleveland, will offer her perspective on race in America. All audio will be available at wnyc.org/series/dear-president/

Each essay will be posted with a set of questions designed to continue the conversation at dinner tables and community gatherings. Participants are asked to use the hashtag #DearPresident on Twitter to share responses to this prompt: When you think about race in America, what is your truth? And what do you want the president to know?

In addition, a related live event series will kick-off on Thursday, December 1, 2016.  Please see below for further details.

The essays are as follows:

“One Black Body”

Robert Jones, Jr./Son of Baldwin, writer and social media presence

“I guess because black men feel emasculated within a white society we don’t often ask ourselves if we can find healthier ways to be men.” 

“Make It Plain”

Kirsten West Savali, associate editor at The Root

“We inhabit a nation that has the audacity and arrogance to admonish Black people to feel grateful for so-called “progress,” as if we owe this country a favor. As if it hasn’t murdered and criminalized us for trying to reap the benefits that we bled for.”

“Nigga Neurosis”

Damon Young, satirist and founder of Very Smart Brothas (VSB.com)

“Black people live in a perpetual state of wondering if, and how, racism is involved when we experience anything.”

“An Uncomfortable Hope”

Theo Shaw, Gates Scholar / former “Jena 6” defendant

“When I was 17, during my senior year of high school, I was arrested wrongly and charged with attempted murder.”

“Behind the Veil”

Kaitlyn Greenidge, critically acclaimed novelist of “We Love You, Charlie Freeman”

“To be seen and not seen is one of the defining characteristics of blackness in America.”

“Dear President” will host a series of live events in New York, Newark, NJ, and Washington, DC, featuring conversations with high-profile thinkers and leaders and live performances of spoken word, poetry, music, and comedy.

The first event will take place on Thursday, December 1, 2016, at 7pm at The Greene Space at WNYC. Tickets are available at thegreenespace.org/

Guests will include:

  • Robert Jones, Jr. and Kaitlyn Greenidge, “Dear President” essayists
  • Akiba Solomon, Editorial Director of Colorlines
  • Greg Howard, David Carr Fellow at The New York Times
  • Anne Helen Petersen, Senior Culture Writer at BuzzFeed News
  • Negin Farsad, Comedian, Actress, Writer and Filmmaker

Additional events will take place on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7pm at WAMU’s Black Box Theatre in Washington, DC; Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 7pm at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 2:30pm at the Newark Public Library (in partnership with Free Press). 

“This election was extremely divisive, but one thing all sides can agree on is that race played a large role,” said Rebecca CarrollWNYC’s Editor of Special Projects on Race. “Racism in America is targeted at many different people and groups of color but no group has suffered more systemic abuse, marginalization and murder in this country than black Americans. This collective open letter breaks apart the myth of the black monolith and urges the next administration to confront the nation’s past and create a meaningful future for all Americans.”

“Our mission at WNYC is to inform. That includes using all of our platforms – on-air, online and onstage – to convene and engage in the hardest conversations,” said Jim Schachter, Vice President for News at WNYC. “With ‘Dear President,’ we are creating opportunities for people who don’t normally hear from one another to speak honestly and search for paths forward.”

About WNYC

With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is New York’s public radio station, broadcasting and streaming award-winning journalism, groundbreaking audio programming and essential talk radio to the city and beyond. WNYC is a leading member station of NPR and also broadcasts programs from the BBC World Service, along with a roster of WNYC-produced local programs that champion the stories and spirit of New York City and the surrounding region. From its state-of-the-art studios, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners, producing some of the most-loved nationally-syndicated public radio programs including RadiolabOn the MediaThe Takeaway and Snap Judgment. WNYC broadcasts on 93.9 FM and AM 820 to listeners in New York and the tri-state area, and is available to audiences everywhere at WNYC.org, the WNYC app and through major digital radio services, all made possible through the generous support of our members, donors and sponsors.