An interview with Mohammed Dini, executive director of the African Diaspora Institute, founder of Portland Forward and former candidate for state representative. Mohammed talks about his experience moving to Maine at age 13 and learning to identify himself as a Mainer. He introduces us to the Somali concept of furfurnaan, which means openness [Read more…]
An interview with playwright, Cathy Plourde, founder of Add Verb productions about her new play, Major Medical Breakthrough. Cathy tells the story of writing a play to inspire health care providers to screen their patients for domestic violence. She gave sobering statistics about the high numbers of women and some men, who are being abused who see their doctors during the abuse and are never asked about it. Indeed only 10-19% of doctors report that they screen their patients routinely for domestic violence. Cathy stressed that where there is domestic violence, there is also likely to be sexual assault, something that often goes unasked about. She cites the ACE study to show that the more trauma in a person’s life, the more physical health problems they will have, and unless our doctors and nurses ask their patients, the cause of many illnesses will be missed. She gave a thoughtful description of why providers are hesitant to ask, but encouraged health workers to trust that asking the question, providing support and access to resources can make a tremendous difference.
An interview with Drew Wing, executive director of Boys To Men, an organization devoted to reducing interpersonal violence by fostering the healthy development of boys. Drew describes their Reducing Sexism and Violence Program (RSVP), working with teenagers to develop empathy for the experience of others, and to clarify their potential roles as bystanders who can intervene in situations of violent speech, attitudes or behavior. Drew describes the chilling story of Kitty Genovese’s murder that was witnessed by many who did nothing to help. He describes the importance of doing something early and taking any action possible to help de-escalate a violent situation. He also described the ways that our current culture of masculinity, which emphasizes violence, sexual conquest, and slacker culture contributes to assumptions of superiority and entitlement among men. RSVP aims to challenge this understanding of masculinity and its representation in the media in order for both men and women to feel safer to be themselves.
An interview with public school teacher, poet and blogger, Catherine Anderson about adopting her son Sam. Catherine describes her decision to adopt and how she thought she understood racism before parenting. She describes her experience of those “grocery store moments” when she has to respond to other people’s surprise and inappropriate comments in front of her son. She speaks movingly about her relationship with Sam’s birth mom and how strong the pull is to keep proving to her that she is doing a good job. She describes the ways that she talks to Sam about race, and the ways that she, as a white woman, feels she can and cannot prepare him to be a black man in Maine. Catherine reads her beautiful poem, Black Enough to open and close the interview. You can find her blog at mamacandtheboys.com
An interview with Deb Gallagher about her experience creating a family through “the messy miracle of international adoption.” Deb first talks about the degree of homophobia she encountered as a lesbian seeking to adopt a child both domestically and internationally. She describes the way she had to enter the closet for the first time since age 15 in order to have the chance to adopt a child. She describes her grief at bringing a child away from her home culture and language to a country that is so racist. She observes the many ways that her daughter’s experience of being in this culture is so different from her own as a white person.