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The Takeaway
Weekdays at 9am

The Takeaway delivers the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. 

The Takeaway is produced by WNYC Radio and hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry

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The Takeaway
  • Data from The Prison Policy Initiative shows a recent rise in the number of women and girls in confinement. "Fueled by more than five decades of a misguided and failing “war on drugs”, the US leads the world in the incarceration of women. Today, more than half of American states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Even as it might seem that the war on drugs is drawing to a close, its brutal policies continue to create havoc in the lives of American women," said The Takeaway host Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, and the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University. "The intersection of gender, poverty and incarceration is not race neutral," and women’s pathways to confinement often exist at the intersection of mental illness, trauma, and gender-based violence. Black women make up about 29% of the women who are incarcerated in this country. Hispanic women make up about 14%. American Indian and Alaska Native make about up about 2.5%. These are dramatic overrepresentations of women of color in the criminal legal system in comparison to their make-up of the U.S. population. 80% of women in jail and 58% in prisons are parents. More than half of the 76,000 locked away from families, children, work and home are awaiting trial, much less a conviction. Harsh sentencing for low level drug offenses and the inability to afford bail are primary causes of women's prolonged incarceration. $10,000 dollars is a typical bail, but the Prison Policy Initiative found that the median annual income for women awaiting trial in jails was about $11,071 dollars. "The legal system is much more likely to be punitive towards people of color and poor people. I think that that's an important dimension to this as well, and poverty plays a critical role in this," said Mike Wessler, Communications Director for the Prison Policy Initiative. "Whenever I'm talking about this, I often think about a tweet sent by law enforcement in New York City during the pandemic where they proudly boasted a photo of a bunch of diapers and formula, and they rightfully got pretty significant backlash for that," he told The Takeaway. Law enforcements were pictured with haul of diapers, formula, and other products worth $1800, closing 23 warrants; Parents on social media horrified by kids’ items. February 2022. Tweet was later deleted. (The Independent) For Mike, that defined a common factor of women's incarceration in the U.S.: women are often arrested and put in jail because they're trying to meet the daily needs of themselves and the people that they care for. "Women and girls are much more likely to be incarcerated for drug and property offenses. They're much less likely to be charged with more violent crimes, things like murder and manslaughter and kidnapping and the like. And I think there's a couple of explanations for this. Property and drug crimes are often crimes related to poverty and crimes related to addiction," Wessler told The Takeaway. "Ultimately, the enforcement of drug laws in this country as a criminal offense is a public policy choice. It could very easily be treated as a public health issue. We use things like treatment and counseling to help people who have substance use disorder get the care they need," said Mike Wessler. He added, "We saw poverty numbers drop during the pandemic and this is related to why we saw lower incarceration rates, particularly of women during the pandemic. Women had more resources at their disposal to meet those needs. They [mothers] were receiving assistance from the federal government for their children." Stay-at-home orders and a slowing down of the court system are also said to be factors. But as courts return to pre-pandemic operation, women and girls' incarceration rates have climbed at a pace faster than that of boys and men. Black women and girls are hit disproportionately, making up 29% of U.S. prisons while only making up about 13% of the U.S. population. The National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI) researches, elevates, and educates the public on the overcriminalization of Black women and girls, and NBJWI is conducting research on Black women's policing, health, and incarceration. Sydney McKinney, Executive Director of NBWJI, joined the Takeaway to discuss the current data surrounding Black women and girls' incarceration and what healing-centered alternatives can look like. See above for full transcript.
  • We’re devoting today’s episode of The Takeaway to the task of taking First Ladies seriously as we seek to understand the unique ways these women have affected and continue to shape America. In this episode we explore the ways that Betty Ford's honesty and outspokenness changed the way we look at first ladies; we look at the roles of Martha Washington and Dolley Madison in relationship to chattel slavery in the United States; and how Edith Wilson may have been the country's first acting female president. Guests: Lauren Wright, is an associate research scholar and lecturer in Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of “Star Power: American Democracy in the Age of the Celebrity Candidate” and “On Behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today.” Lisa McCubbin, New York Times best selling author of six books, including “Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer.” Marie Jenkins Schwartz, professor emeritus University of Rhode Island, author "Ties that Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves." Professor Schwartz insists First Ladies must be part of our investigation into slavery and the American founding. Rebecca Boggs Roberts, educator, author, speaker, and leading historian of American women’s suffrage and civic participation. Her books include "The Suffragist Playbook"; "Suffragists in Washington, D.C."; and "Historic Congressional Cemetery." She is currently deputy director of events at the Library of Congress.
  • Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1951, and is a member of the Mvsoske Nation. She has authored 10 books of poetry, and served as the United States Poet Laureate from 2019 until 2022. One of her most well known poems, "Remember" (1983) has been adapted and reanimated into a new children’s book, Remember, with illustrations by artist Michaela Goade. Joy Harjo joins us to discuss Remember, reflect on her time as the U.S. Poet Laureate, and share thoughts on how indigeneity informs the themes of her poetry.
  • The recent derailment of a train carrying toxic and hazardous chemicals through East Palestine, Ohio, offers a window into the centuries-long history of industrial pollution in the Ohio River Valley region. This area, known for centuries as “coal country,” is transforming into a plastics production hub — with similarly devastating environmental consequences. We're joined by Eve Andrews, an environmental journalist from Pittsburgh. Andrews recently visited the region and spoke with residents about how this past impacts their futures. Read her story for Grist here.
  • York, Pennsylvania holds a significant place in American history. During the Revolutionary War, it served as the temporary capital for the Continental Congress, and in York, the Articles of Confederation were drafted. But today the city of 44,000 residents suffers from a high rate of poverty, crime, and gun violence. Host Melissa Harris-Perry recently spent time in York with Mayor Michael Helfrich and learned about the city’s efforts to interrupt violence through community based initiatives and to build economic strength through local, small business development. Mayor Helfrich describes York as a city of second chances he shares his vision for how to make those second chances a reality. We also hear from Tiff Lowe, of York's Group Violence Intervention program on community based efforts to stem violence and support victims of violence.
  • For most of us, chickens are ubiquitous, mainly as sources of food. Yet we rarely know much about chickens beyond that, or even interact with them. Those that do quickly find themselves obsessed with these fowl creatures — like today’s guest, journalist Tove Danovich. Inspired after adopting three chickens for her Portland, Oregon backyard, Danovich set out to report on the wide world of chicken-keeping, a journey that took her hatchery in Iowa, to a chicken show in Ohio, to a rooster rescue in Minnesota. We speak with Danovich about her discoveries and the surprising ways that chickens changed her life, and the lives of millions of Americans. Danovich's new book is "Under the Henfluence: Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People who Love Them."
  • Last year, state lawmakers in Oklahoma passed SB 1369, the Oklahoma Healthcare Transparency Initiative Act. The legislation requires all healthcare providers to enter patient records into an online database. Set to go into effect on July 1st, the measure specifically requires providers to quote “submit health and dental claims data, unique identifiers, and geographic and demographic information for covered individuals to the Oklahoma Healthcare Transparency Initiative”. In advance of implementation, mental health care providers in Oklahoma are raising concerns about patient privacy and confidentiality. We spoke with Sabrina DeQuasie, a therapist in Oklahoma. We reached out to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma’s Medicaid Agency. This is their statement below. OHCA Invites Continued Feedback Regarding OKSHINE/HIE Oklahoma City, OK – SB1369, passed in the 2022 legislative session, requires OHCA to set up a separate office, the Office of the State Coordinator for Health Information Exchange, with responsibility to oversee a statewide health information exchange with patient data from all healthcare providers. The proposed rules for the program were first introduced in September and have gone through two rounds of public comments, resulting in more than 300 comments. These comments, along with input from the public and dozens of stakeholder engagement meetings, are guiding and informing the implementation process. OHCA is grateful for the feedback of Oklahoma patients and providers. The opportunity to utilize the HIE is significant, with potential to reduce adverse drug events, redundant testing, and promote a culture of improved collaboration among different healthcare providers, resulting in a more streamlined, holistic health care approach for Oklahomans. The agency understands the importance of privacy considerations in this effort and is working to ensure best practices and appropriate privacy safeguards, including all legal and licensure requirements under HIPAA and other applicable state and federal laws. The proposed rules allow temporary exemptions based on size, technological capability or financial hardship. OHCA is actively engaging with providers to discuss exemption criteria for specific provider types regarding transmission of data restrictions, with a particular focus on behavioral health, and are expecting to revise the proposed rules to apply exemptions based on provider type. After the passage of SB 1369, the rule proposal is the first step in a thorough process to develop regulations that will achieve the desired benefits for Oklahoma’s citizens, serving the needs of providers and patients alike. To ensure your concerns are addressed, OHCA invites you to be a part of the conversation. Please send your feedback through the new comments feature on oklahoma.gov/ohca/okshine. This page will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
  • With a population of around 220 million, and growing fast, Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa. After decades of colonial and military rule, Nigeria’s democracy is still young and vulnerable. Last month, Nigeria held its Presidential elections and 70-year-old Bola Tinubu, a political veteran, was declared the winner with 37-percent of the vote. However, opposition parties, as well as international election observers, have criticized the election, citing logistical problems, violence, and the slow publishing of results as problematic. We speak with Ope Adetayo, an independent journalist in Nigeria, and Ambassador Mark Green, President, Director, and CEO of The Wilson Center, and former U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, about Nigeria’s elections, the state of democracy in the country and in Africa, and the global significance of democracy in Nigeria.
  • Original Air Date: October 13, 2021 Professor Christina Beltrán introduced us to the concept of political cruelty in Cruelty as Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy, which reveals how white supremacy manifest as white democracy—a participatory practice of "racial violence, domination, and exclusion" that lends white citizens the right to both wield and exceed the law. Progressive scholar, organizer, media personality, and co-president of Community Change Dorian Warren joined our host to discuss the ways we understand political cruelty. From Trump rallies to insurrectionist violence to the Haitian migrant situation at the border, our host and our guest make bold connections between power, civic engagement and domination. Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/The Takeaway)
  • Original Air Date: May 5, 2022 On February 13th, Christina Yuna Lee was stabbed to death in her own apartment in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City. A college graduate and creative, digital producer Christina was just 35-years-old when a man she did not know followed her to her home, pushed his way into her apartment, and took her life with stunning brutality. This unthinkable violence against Christina came just weeks after the shocking killing of Michelle Go. Just 40 years old, Michelle was waiting on the platform in the Times Square subway station when a man pushed her in front of an oncoming train. The deadly crimes against these two Asian-American women occurred in New York, but the reverberations were felt across the nation. After Michelle’s death, Russell Jeung, a co-founder of STOP AAPI HATE, spoke with FOX 2 in San Francisco and said, "I think in our community a lot of people are one degree of separation from knowing someone who has been attacked or assaulted." From March 2020 to December 2021, the advocacy coalition Stop AAPI Hate received nearly 11,000 reports of hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. It’s no wonder that many in Asian-American communities are feeling the grief and fear of living just “one degree of separation” from violence. In her Nation article, "Sex, Death, and Empire: The Roots of Violence Against Asian Women," Panthea Lee, an ethnographer, activist, and writer, interrogates a long history of sexualized and gendered violence against Asian women. She finds the roots of contemporary anti-Asian hate are far deeper than Covid-era rhetoric. And when Panthea found a 38-second video from the summer of 2020 in her own iPhone, she discovered she was less than one degree removed from Christina Yuna Lee, whose startling murder in February rocked New York’s Chinatown.
  • It’s been two years since eight people were killed when a man opened fire in three different Atlanta-area massage businesses. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. The discourse surrounding the mass shooting, from government officials to mainstream media outlets, claimed the motive of the shooting was unknown. But many people in the AAPI community scoffed. Pointing out that this hate crime didn’t happen in a vacuum– but within the context of a long and racist history. So, in the last two years, has anything changed? We spoke with Phi Nguyen, Executive Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and Georgia House State Rep. Dr. Michelle Au, representing the Georgia House 50th district
  • This week marks the 111th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. Founded with the goal of building girls’ confidence, The Girl Scouts has introduced millions of girls to new friends and experiences they may not have otherwise had access to. While they might be best known for their cookies, the organization’s true legacy lies with its nearly 2.5 million girl and adult current members worldwide, many of whom are in leadership positions in businesses, politics, and their local communities. We explore the past, present and future of the Girl Scouts with Meridith Maskara, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. And we hear from listeners about how the Girl Scouts changed their lives. For full transcript, see above.