The rise of the American space program overlapped with the dawn of the civil rights movement in the United States. Many of NASA's first African-American employees worked to send humans into space while at the same time finding their place in the struggle for racial equality. Kojo explores this intersection in history with two authors who chronicled the stories of some of the earliest African-American space workers - and an astronaut who followed them to become the first African-American in to lead NASA on a permanent basis.
The local Washington region continues to deal with the economic fallout from the federal shutdown. President Barack Obama nominated Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve. A new documentary on concussions casts harsh light on the National Football League. It’s Your Turn to set the agenda.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's Your Turn. The number is 80-433-8850. House Speaker John Boehner asked his Republican colleagues this morning to approve a six-week extension of the debt ceiling to avoid a government default. Republicans are heading to the White House this afternoon to talk over that proposal with President Obama. It would be a so-called clean bill with no strings attached but it would not address the government shutdown.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAlso today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Senate Finance Committee what will happen one week from today if congress does not raise the debt ceiling. He reportedly testified that treasury has looked at a lot of options, none of them good. He declined to debate which bills might be paid at the expense of others. Would Social Security payments trump interest on treasury notes? Lew told the panel, no president has ever had to decide whether to pay some bills and not others. What do you think? Should congress agree to a six-week extension of the debt ceiling? What would a default mean for the country and the world, 800-433-8850?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOn the lingering government shutdown now in its tenth day, it's sparking feuds even among political friends. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray confronting senate majority leader Harry Reid on the steps of the U.S. Capitol yesterday, telling Reid the District just wants to spend its own money. Faced with a bank of cameras and reporters Reid told the mayor, I'm on your side. Don't screw it up, okay? I got a few issues with that. Exactly what would the mayor be screwing up by asking for the city to be allowed to spend its own money?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe Republican-controlled House passed a bill last week that would let D.C. spend its locally raised tax dollars for a couple of months to keep the city running. But Democrats are rejecting all piecemeal funding measures saying they want one bill that funds the whole government, not just pet programs, or in this case, the District of Columbia. Should congressional Democrats deviate from their all-or-nothing approach and okay funding for the district? Was Mayor Gray right to challenge Harry Reid in public? What do you think? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. It's Your Turn. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow. Email to email@example.com.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs for this next topic, one feels all one has to say to get the phones going is two words, Redskins go. But this week, President Obama reignited a decades-long debate over the name of the Washington football team which Native Americans have said is a racial slur, which actually Webster's says is a racial slur in the dictionary. The president said that if he were the owner and quote, "I knew that there was a name of my team, even if we had a storied history, that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it."
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWell, that comment got Washington buzzing again over the name, and yesterday the team's owner, Dan Snyder, defended the name in an emotional, if understated, letter to season ticketholders. What do you think? Do you agree with the president? Should the Redskins change their name, or do you agree that Dan Snyder, and frankly a majority of the fans who feel that the name should not be changed. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. More importantly, I guess, has your opinion changed on this issue over the years? Have any of the arguments being made for and against touched a responsive chord in you?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's your turn. 800-433-8850. You can start calling now. You can also send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll go to Sally in Alexandria, Va. Sally, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SALLYWell, I had really called to discuss what was being talked about the two guests that you had.
NNAMDIYes. Please continue. We are willing to continue that conversation.
SALLYSo, if I may, I wanted to say that I was so relieved when President Obama finally did something to honor our engagement with the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. We, in 2012, last year, there was coup in Mali, and the President Toure was removed in a bloodless coup, and we cut off aid. We should do the same if our word is good. One, there's a law that requires us to do something, we don't have any choice. As for...
NNAMDIExcept that law requires us to do it when we recognize it as a coup, and so far administration officials have been careful to avoid using that word.
SALLYYes, Kojo. But, you know, a rose by any rose, and a coup by any other name is still a coup. When the military moves in, people can call it a popular revolt. Coups sometimes, and very often, have -- are accompanied by a popular revolt, but that doesn't mean that the military didn't move in and knock off, or push aside a democratically elected president, which is what happened. So you can call it whatever you want. It still is in fact a coup. And the very proof of it, kind of an indirect proof, is the fact that finally President Obama is doing something about it to show his displeasure.
SALLYOne more thing I wanted to add is that maintaining peace with Israel, or that -- Israel really doesn't -- I'm sorry. Egypt really doesn't depend on that -- our 1.5 billion to maintain that peaceful frontier with Israel because...
NNAMDIIn addition to which, a number of the other gulf states like you're about to mention, Saudi Arabia, have been increasing their aid to Egypt.
SALLYYeah. They stepped in with 11 billion -- 11 or 12, something like that, to compensate for the measly 1.5 billion that was lost. So I'd say that they're doing very well, and I think the ramifications of those decisions are something that we should...
NNAMDIWell, the general implication is that the U.S. now has less leverage in Egypt than it did before.
SALLYYeah. Yes, it is.
SALLYBut it's not -- it's not because -- because we've shown our displeasure because we didn't go along with it, not because they need the money, though I'm sure they wouldn't sneer at it.
SALLYThat's what I had to say. Thank you.
NNAMDISally, thank you very much for your call. It's your turn. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. Here is John in Washington DC. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNHello, Kojo. I just wanted to say ethnocentrically speaking, African-Americans call other African-Americans derogatory terms. Indians may choose to call their own derogatory terms, but ethnocentrically, the word redskin is just as defamous as the word, you know what I want to say.
JOHNSo, Snyder should change it.
NNAMDIHave you over time changed your mind about this? Because there were people who have been either not giving a great deal of thought to this issue over the years and then they started to and decided either after giving it a great deal of thought this team has a storied history, this name has a storied history, it should remain, or you know, now that I've given it a great deal of thought, it's a racial slur, so I've changed my mind. Where do you come down?
JOHNI didn't change my mind. I've always thought it was derogatory. I've heard a lot of people say, the Indians don't think it's derogatory, but I don't think they're asking the right Indians as I think enough have spoken up and said any of the words are not appropriate and they should be changed if only to be -- and I don't want to say politically correct, but I think it's a sensitive thing because we knee jerk every time somebody says we here our special word, so I think to even think that we don't want to give Indian -- or indigenous people the same respect is not appropriate.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. President Obama has nominated Janet Yellen to take over as chair of the Federal Reserve, the first time a woman has been picked to head a major central bank anywhere in the world. She's also the first Democrat to head the fed in 30 years. Yellen is also known as, well, a dove, meaning someone who believes that keeping interest rates low will reduce unemployment rather than raising them to combat inflation. But this is a dove apparently with a quiet, fierce persistence.
NNAMDIShe refused to promote herself for the top economist job even as her former student, yes, Larry Summers was a student of hers at Harvard, and he was publicly considered and then rejected for the job. So how will Yellen guide the economy? Is this the right person for the job now? I'd like to hear your thoughts. What was your reaction to the nomination of Janet Yellen as fed chairman or chairwoman? Does the Federal Reserve need a leader who is more focused on jobs or more focused on inflation? 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can also send us a tweet @kojoshow or email to email@example.com. Here is Annie in Washington DC. Annie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANNIEHi, how are you?
ANNIESo here's my thought. Abe Pollin was a (word?) guy. He owned a team called the Washington Bullets. DC had a horrendous murder rate, and he just sort of did the right thing. He manned up and said we're not calling it the bullets anymore. We're calling this team the Wizards. It's like grow up Dan Snyder. Get over it.
NNAMDIWell, do you know there are people who think that the Washington Wizards is a wimpy name and that the name should revert to the Washington Bullets?
ANNIEWell, I'm sure there are.
NNAMDINot that it makes any difference to you.
ANNIENo, it doesn't, actually. I mean, I just think that it's -- it's a matter of perception, and I -- I think if the guy is knowingly irritating a bunch of people, just because he can, he should kind of think about it a little more. We know he has a temper. We know he digs in.
NNAMDIHe said, never, and you can put that in caps. Never same the name. But he seems to be -- his letter to the fans today certainly seems to be taking a slightly more thoughtful approach even those he's basically defending the name and the tradition, but thank you very much for your call. We got an email from Randolph who says, "Keep the name Redskins. Does the name Viking imply all Northern Europeans are aggressive and war-like?" That's not very flattering. Of course I haven't heard any Northern Europeans, or anyone else protesting the name of the Vikings, and a lot of this is in response to people protesting the name of the Washington football teams. So here now is DJ in Washington DC. DJ, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DJYeah. Good afternoon, Kojo.
DJI'd like to weigh in on this topic.
DJ(unintelligible) I've always felt that they should change their name, and this recent letter by the present owner did nothing to dispel that. He's talking about the history and the tradition of the team, and you used to be the Braves. You still had that same tradition that you brought with you to this name, so if you change the name again, the history and the tradition don't go away, but you don't offend people. You know, this name is offensive. It's derogatory and it's racist. And anybody that can't see that, then, you know, they got their head buried in the sand.
NNAMDISo you feel that the Washington Bullets that won the 1978 NBA championship series loses nothing by having the team named the Wizards who, by the way, haven't won any championships?
DJExactly. You know, if you change the name, that does not change your history or your tradition. You know, it just -- it's a name change. It doesn't change the history. I mean, you can count countless other teams in the -- in all the major sports who have had name changes and none of them have lost their traditions. You know, you go from one name to the other, but your history remains the same, you're formerly so-and-so, but now you're such and such, but you have a history of so on and so forth.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call DJ. This morning early, Canadian author Alice Munro was named this year's Nobel laureate in literature lauded by the Academy as the master of the short story. You may want to comment on that or on the chemistry prize to three U.S.-based scientists. 800-433-8850. In the meantime, back to the Redskins. Here is Aisha in Rockville, Md. Aisha, your turn.
AISHAHi, Kojo. I listen to your show almost daily. I love it. I just want to tell you that I'm so glad you're bringing this issue up. It is a divisive issue in my home right now. I have my fiancé who was born a Redskins fan. He's been socialized and engrained to think that that logo is fine, of a Native American man. He thinks that that's a good symbol of Native American culture. I completely disagree with him and every other fan out there that thinks that it's appropriate to use Redskins and to have that logo. My fiancé and I are both of different nationalities, and to me, it goes hand in hand with using any other racial slur, and I just feel like fans have been really socialized to think that's acceptable and that is epitome of prejudice without our country and, you know, people not even knowing that they're being prejudiced.
AISHAAnd I feel like that the Redskins is a great team and they can change their name and their fans will still love them without coming off as being prejudiced.
NNAMDIAnd nevertheless, you manage to maintain a good and living relationship with your fiancé.
AISHAAbsolutely. Definitely. I just -- when it comes to the dinner table at night, we debate that issue. We've been debating it for a really long time now, before even President Obama brought this out in national attention. This has been an issue for a long time, within probably a lot of households. And I think the fact that it is so divisive means that it's hurting people's feelings. Cut it out. It should not be Redskins. Change the name already.
NNAMDIBut if that happens, what are you and your fiancé going to talk about around the dinner table?
AISHAOh, my goodness, he is a Republican and I am a Democrat, so we have...
NNAMDIOh, yeah. Oh, yeah. There's a whole lot more to...
AISHAWe have a ton of things.
NNAMDIThere's a whole lot more to talk about around your dinner table.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Aisha. We move on now to Suma in Washington DC. Suma, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.
SUMAHi, Kojo. How are you?
SUMAKojo, I was going to comment on Egypt.
SUMAYeah. This guy out of -- Mohammad Morsi, I wish the other guest -- the other guests were still on the radio. He was democratically elected. I mean, if democracy is going to hold in any country, you have to wait till elections. I mean, that's what democracy is all about. But if you're going to kick the guy out because there's a revolution or demonstration against him. How about the next government that's going to come in?
NNAMDIHow -- what do you -- what do you say to the argument that people made that his policies, even though he was elected democratically, his policies were anti-democratic. He was moving in the direction of an autocracy and, therefore, for those people who felt that they were supporters of democracy in Egypt, removing him was appropriate.
SUMAWell, again, the military is in now. Is the military democratic right now? I mean, Morsi didn't kill 2,000 plus people on the street. The military came in, now want to ban the Muslim Brotherhood. I mean, how are they really going to do that? I mean, the next government that's going to come in, if the Brotherhood is against them, or they are going to be another demonstration against the government, the military is going to come in and take power?
NNAMDIThe Brotherhood has a long history, some 60 years of existence, even though it was banned. You seem to be suggesting that a new ban on the Brotherhood will not destroy it.
SUMANo. It won't destroy it, and the country is still going to be divided because it's -- what I'm trying to say, Kojo, if the next government comes in and the Muslim -- the members of the Muslim Brotherhood don't like their policies and they take the street, is the military going to come in again and overthrow them?
NNAMDIWell, that's an interesting question to ponder, but thank you very much for raising it. We move onto to Chris in Alexandria, Va. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISHello, Kojo. I'm a long-time listener and first-time caller.
CHRISAlso a long-time bedraggled Redskins fan. I do not think the name of the team needs to be changed. What they need to change is their logo. Get rid of the Indian Chief, get rid of the controversy, and replace it with a potato. We can be the Redskin potatoes. We might be able to bring in whole gourmet aspect of it. And maybe the other teams can cheer on the games by screaming, we can mash them, we can mash them. They're only half baked.
NNAMDIThere are at least two chances of that idea being accepted, Chris.
CHRISYeah. Slim and none.
NNAMDINo. No. No. Not slim and none. None and none. Okay? Those are the two chances you with this idea. Slim won't even hold up there, but thank you very much for suggesting it. Here is Vincent in Washington DC. Vincent, your turn.
VINCENTHey, you know, long-time listener, first-time caller. I feel like a lot of people who are commenting on this didn't actually read the email or the, excuse me, the letter from Snyder. I thought it was pretty thorough in discussing how he had actually done a lot of polling and working with Indian tribes to, you know, really check their impression on it. We're listening to a bunch of, you know, fairly western cultured people talking about how these other people are offended, but, you know, when you really dig into it, it kind of looked like they weren't offended at all, or actually taking pride in the name.
VINCENTThere's a lot of Redskins fans who are of Native American origin and they're on the side of keeping the name the same. There's a lot of tradition. What about the fight song, you know? I just think this is a little bit ridiculous, especially in a town that's going through such, you know, tough things right now with the sequester and whatnot.
NNAMDIWell, you know, Mr. Snyder cites one series of polls. I think it would be accurate to say that there is divided opinion among Native Americans or Indians, whatever you choose to call them, on this issue, that one side says, oh, all Indians think that this name is fair, and others say, oh, no, because the original lawsuit was filed by Susan Harjo who is herself a Native American and the Oneida Nation was here having demonstrations everyday protesting it. Opinion is divided. At what point do you think, Vincent, that divided opinion should weigh Dan Snyder one way or the other?
VINCENTWell, I mean, if we're gonna go about this scientifically, you know, probably take a lot of tribes into consideration, I know that the particular permission he received was from the major local tribe. But it also seemed that there was a poll in there about the larger population talking about it, and, you know, I don't have it in front of me to actually cite it, but I believe there was more than one poll referenced. I mean he had explicit permission from a chief. Furthermore, I don't think that the name is being used in extremely derogatory way.
VINCENTI mean, of course the name itself has derogatory implications in it, but the manner in which it's being used could be viewed in a more positive aspect than how it's being addressed.
NNAMDIYou got the last word on this issue, which I'm sure will upset a lot of people, but thank you very much for your call. Thanks to all of those of you who participated in this edition of Your Turn. We'll be back. You'll get the opportunity. This or other controversies are not necessarily going away anytime soon, but thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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