December 1st, 2008

corset & bougainvillea

Talk radio.

I know there are folks who hate NPR for whatever reasons, but I'm not one of them. Why? I just got trapped in my car listening to this Radio Diaries piece on the Mexico City student movement and ensuing massacre in 1968:

Mexico's 1968 Massacre: What Really Happened?
In the summer of 1968, Mexico was experiencing the birth of a new student movement.

But that movement was short-lived. On Oct. 2, 1968, 10 days before the opening of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, police officers and military troops shot into a crowd of unarmed students. Thousands of demonstrators fled in panic as tanks bulldozed over Tlatelolco Plaza.

Government sources originally reported that four people had been killed and 20 wounded, while eyewitnesses described the bodies of hundreds of young people being trucked away. Thousands of students were beaten and jailed, and many disappeared. Forty years later, the final death toll remains a mystery, but documents recently released by the U.S. and Mexican governments give a better picture of what may have triggered the massacre. Those documents suggest that snipers posted by the military fired on fellow troops, provoking them to open fire on the students.

Last weekend, I couldn't get out of the car because of a Radiolab show on race that includes a story about the role race might play in medical research and pharmaceutical development, what race looks like in places like a very diverse NYC high school versus Iraq, and Malcolm Gladwell (who is biracial) discussing the stereotypes he used to believe about his success as a runner being linked to his being half-Jamaican.

The U.S. Census defines five races, and an "other" category. When the human genome was first fully mapped in 2000, Bill Clinton, Craig Venter, and Francis Collins took the stage and pronounced that "The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis."

Great words spoken with great intentions. But what does that mean and where does it leave us? It doesn't seem to have wiped out our evolving conversation about race.

Go listen to them both. Seriously.