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Into America

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Into America is a show about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake.
Into America is a show about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake. << Show Less
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Louisiana’s Last Black Oystermen Down on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, there is a small, close-knit Black community named Pointe ā La Hache. There, oyster harvesting is a culture and a heritage that has been passed down for generations. But decades of storms, natural disasters, oil spills, and racist policies have threatened this way of life. Now, the state’s coastal restoration plans could end it. According to experts, Louisiana loses more than a football field of its jagged coastline every 100 minutes. This leaves coastal communities at risk from rising sea levels, and cities like New Orleans more vulnerable to storms. To fight back, the state has created a 50-year, $50 billion plan to save the disappearing land, which includes diverting water from the Mississippi River through the wetlands around Pointe ā La Hache, so sediment from the waters can build up along the shorelines.The state and environmental advocacy groups believe these diversions are the most effective, cost-efficient, and least intrusive solution to save the coast. But oystermen and other fishermen in Pointe ā La Hache say the influx of fresh water will disrupt the brackish waters their oysters need to survive. This week on Into America, we travel to Louisiana to speak with Byron Encalade, a third-generation oysterman from Pointe ā La Hache, and founder of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, a mostly Black union that represents oystermen of color. Encalade and other Black oystermen have been hit time and again, from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to the 2010 BP oil spill, but Encalade says these diversion plans will destroy what’s left of Pointe ā La Hache.But not all is lost yet. Keslyn and Derrayon Williams, shrimper brothers and owners of Lil Wig’s Seafood and Catering Boat, are still fighting for their family's legacy. They grew up in Pointe ā La Hache and remember it as a thriving economic fishing community. Now, they have to travel hours away and compete with bigger boats just to catch shrimp. Derrayon believes if the state stopped these diversions, their community could be restored, but Kelsyn thinks it might be too late. For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Reading and Listening: Read Trymaine’s reporting on this topic from the New York TimesInto Dirty Air
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Louisiana’s Last Black Oystermen Down on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, there is a small, close-knit Black community named Pointe ā La Hache. There, oyster harvesting is a culture and a heritage that has been passed down for generations. But decades of storms, natural disasters, oil spills, and racist policies have threatened this way of life. Now, the state’s coastal restoration plans could end it. According to experts, Louisiana loses more than a football field of its jagged coastline every 100 minutes. This leaves coastal communities at risk from rising sea levels, and cities like New Orleans more vulnerable to storms. To fight back, the state has created a 50-year, $50 billion plan to save the disappearing land, which includes diverting water from the Mississippi River through the wetlands around Pointe ā La Hache, so sediment from the waters can build up along the shorelines.The state and environmental advocacy groups believe these diversions are the most effective, cost-efficient, and least intrusive solution to save the coast. But oystermen and other fishermen in Pointe ā La Hache say the influx of fresh water will disrupt the brackish waters their oysters need to survive. This week on Into America, we travel to Louisiana to speak with Byron Encalade, a third-generation oysterman from Pointe ā La Hache, and founder of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, a mostly Black union that represents oystermen of color. Encalade and other Black oystermen have been hit time and again, from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to the 2010 BP oil spill, but Encalade says these diversion plans will destroy what’s left of Pointe ā La Hache.But not all is lost yet. Keslyn and Derrayon Williams, shrimper brothers and owners of Lil Wig’s Seafood and Catering Boat, are still fighting for their family's legacy. They grew up in Pointe ā La Hache and remember it as a thriving economic fishing community. Now, they have to travel hours away and compete with bigger boats just to catch shrimp. Derrayon believes if the state stopped these diversions, their community could be restored, but Kelsyn thinks it might be too late. For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Reading and Listening: Read Trymaine’s reporting on this topic from the New York TimesInto Dirty Air
Introducing Tiffany Dover Is Dead* As a bonus for Into America listeners, we’re sharing a special preview of Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead*, a new original podcast from NBC News about misinformation and conspiracy theories. Listen to the first two episodes and follow now: https://link.chtbl.com/ttdis_fdlw
Is Black Crypto Freedom? Or Fad? The racial wealth gap in this country between Black and white Americans is vast. Centuries of violent theft and racist policies mean that white families have, on average, eight times the wealth of Black families. But a sizeable number of people, like Lamar Wilson, the founder of Black Bitcoin Billionaires, say there’s a new way to help close this gap: cryptocurrency. There are even cryptocurrencies made by Black people to benefit the Black community, like Guapcoin, run by technologist Tavonia Evans.But while some people see freedom and opportunity, others, likeDr. Jared Ball of Morgan State University, worry that crypto is volatile and speculative, and warn that this new space is not the place to build Black wealth.This week on Into America, Trymaine Lee dives into the world of Black crypto users, to understand the promises, the hype, the potential drawbacks, and ultimately, whether crypto could equal freedom for Black folks in this country.For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Reading and Listening: CNBC: Women and investors of color seem to prefer cryptocurrency over traditional stocks—here’s whyAmerican CoupBlood on Black Wall Street: What Was Stolen
Emmett Till's Cousin Remembers Emmett Till’s lynching is credited as the spark that set off the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, the 14-year-old boy was visiting family in Mississippi when he was kidnapped and murdered for whistling at a white woman. Days later his bloated body was dragged out of the Tallahatchie River and sent home to his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, in Chicago. When pictures of his mutilated face were published around the country, it shocked the national consciousness, bringing people off the sidelines and into the fight to recognize Black Americans’ basic humanity.Congress first considered antilynching legislation at the turn of the twentieth century. On January 20th, 1900, Representative George Henry White of North Carolina, the only Black member of Congress at the time, introduced a bill that would have subjected people involved in mob violence to the potential of capital punishment. Since then, antilynching legislation has been introduced in Congress more than 200 times. It had failed every time. That changed last week. At the end of March, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, making lynching a federal hate crime. Present at the ceremony was Emmett Till’s cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker. Rev. Parker travelled from Chicago to Mississippi with Emmett Till in 1955, and he is the last living relative to have witnessed the boy’s kidnapping. This week on Into America, he shares his story.For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all with the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Reading / Listening / Viewing:Reconstructed: The Book of TrayvonRev. Sharpton, Ben Crump, and the Pursuit of JusticeThe Daughters of Malcolm and Martin
(Not) Chasing Oscar Gold This past weekend’s Oscars ceremony was one for the history books. There was, of course, the smack seen around the world. But beyond the most salacious headline of the night one fact stood out: this was the Blackest Oscars ceremony the world has ever seen.Two of the night’s three hosts – comedian Wanda Sykes and actress Regina Hall – were Black women. All the young people handing the winners their trophies were HBCU students. And for the first time in its history, the show was produced by an all-Black producing team, led by FAMU alum Will Packer.But the Oscars have a troubled history with race. In 1940 Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to win an Oscar, for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone with the Wind. After a tearful acceptance speech, she returned to her seat at the edge of the auditorium where the ceremony was held, segregated from her white peers. It would be nearly a quarter century before another Black actor won an Oscar, when Sidney Poitier took home the prize for Best Actor in 1964. With last weekend’s awards included, a total of 22 Oscars have gone to Black actors during the Academy’s 94-year history.But do we really need an organization like the Academy to tell us how great we are? The entertainment industry is full of Black creatives making their own way, producing the stories that they want to tell, on their own terms. This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee speaks to one of them, filmmaker Stefon Bristol, the man behind See You Yesterday about what it takes to make it in Hollywood while staying true to yourself.For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Please follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all with the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Listening:Was Will Smith Protecting Black Women?Harlem on My Mind: Abram Hill“The Sun Rises in The East”Editor's Note: in an earlier version of this episode an editing error changed the meaning of one part of the interview. Stefon Bristol's short film of See You Yesterday was accepted, and was a finalist at the 2017 American Black Film Festival.
Was Will Smith Protecting Black Women? During the 2022 Oscars’ ceremony, Will Smith shocked the world. Smith strode onstage and smacked Chris Rock, after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’s father in King Richard, and later in the night he and Rock reportedly made amends.When Smith was announced as the winner of the Oscar for Best Actor the audience gave him a standing ovation as he approached the stage. The first thing that he said in his tearful five-minute acceptance speech was that “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” and he went on to talk about “protecting” the Black women who co-starred in King Richard with him.  Since Sunday the internet has been abuzz with reaction. Commentators like Eric Deggans and Craig Melvin have condemned Smith’s actions. But many saw an act of chivalry, with people like actress Tiffany Haddish and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley praising what they viewed as Smith’s defense of his wife.So what does it actually mean to protect Black women? And is physical violence ever an acceptable response to verbal abuse? This week on Into America, activist Jamira Burley weighs in. For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Please follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all with the handle @intoamericapod.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Listening:We Gotta Talk About Kanye WestHear Jamira’s early appearance on the show: Into the DNC and Black Lives
We Gotta Talk About Kanye West For the better part of a decade Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were one of the most influential couples in pop culture, living their private lives in the public eye. And now that the pair is officially split, they continue to grab headlines.When Kim filed for divorce in February of last year, things at first seemed amicable – in August the couple recreated their wedding on stage at one of Kanye’s concerts, and they continue to share parenting responsibilities for their four children. But Kanye wasn’t ready to let go, and over the last year, his efforts to win Kim back have become increasingly aggressive. When she started dating SNL star Pete Davidson, Kanye’s public displays took on a more menacing tone: he made a music video featuring an animation of himself decapitating the comedian and claimed that he was using art to work through the trauma of his breakup.Kanye has been very vocal about his struggles with mental health, sharing his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder with the world. His current public displays look to many like the hallmark signs of a manic episode, where a person feels an unnaturally high energy level, excitement, and euphoria for a prolonged period. And many say his behavior toward Kim appears to bullying and harassing, bordering on abuse. (Although to be clear, the majority of people with mental health issues are not violent, and we want to be careful not to equate mental illness with violent or threatening behavior; and there is no evidence that Kanye has been violent.)But the media conversations around Kim and Kanye, and around Kanye’s mental health, too often take on a tone of tabloid gossip, rather than tackling the tougher issues of mental health, support, and accountability that their story highlights.This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee speaks with two Black mental health professionals about Kanye’s struggles and mental health in the Black community. Dr. Maia Hoskin is a college professor, activist and writer who holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Clinical Supervision. Last month she published a Medium article arguing that Black women shouldn’t be expected to “save” or “fix” Kanye’s mental health issues. Rwenshaun Miller is a therapist, speaker and award-winning social entrepreneur. His company Eustress, Inc. is focused on raising mental health awareness in the Black community.For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica. Please follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all with the handle @intoamericapod. Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Listening:A Shape-Up and a Check-InA Word from the Nap Bishop
Black in the USSR As Russian forces advanced from the east during the war in Ukraine, they faced unexpectedly fierce opposition from the Ukrainian military and civilian population. And as fighting intensified, many in its path fled west. But as people fled, not everyone was the given the same opportunity to seek refuge. In the middle of a war zone anti-Black racism reared its ugly head, with reports of people from the African diaspora facing racist treatment at the Ukrainian border. In the eastern city of Sumy, home to a large contingent of international students, Black folks were beaten off of trains and buses fleeing the violence to make way for white Ukrainian citizens. This week on Into America, we speak with Eniola Oladiti, a Black medical student from Ireland, who fled Sumy while that city was under siege. And host Trymaine Lee speaks with Kimberly St. Julian Varnon, an expert on race in the former Soviet Union, about the unique experience of being Black in this part of the world. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Further Reading and Viewing: Black immigrants chose Ukraine for quality of life, education. War leaves them fearful.Open the door or we die': Africans report racism and hostility trying to flee UkraineNBC News Special Report - Inside Ukraine
The Re-Freshed Prince of Bel-Air In March of 2019, Morgan Cooper dropped a video on YouTube that quickly went viral. It was a short film that he made as a passion project, after he was struck with a flash of inspiration: What if the 90’s classic The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were updated for the 21st century? Within 24 hours of posting his project online, Cooper got a call from Westbrook, the production company owned by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Will Smith had seen the video, liked what he saw, and wanted to know what Cooper’s plans were. In short order, Smith flew Cooper to Miami, where he was filming Bad Boys III. The two met, and Will Smith signed on to Cooper’s vision, reimagining The Fresh Prince with a much more dramatic tone. They shopped the idea around and found a home at Peacock, NBC’s steaming service. Morgan Cooper was kept on as a writer, executive producer and director for the new series. This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee speaks with Morgan Cooper about Bel-Air, the creative decisions he’s making with the show, and his lightning quick rise in Hollywood. Trymaine also speaks with actress Cassandra Freeman, who plays Aunt Viv in the new show, as well as hip hop icon DJ Jazzy Jeff, who played Jazz on the original Fresh Prince, and who now hosts Bel-Air: The Official Podcast. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.Interested in Into America merch? Check out the MSNBC store: https://msnbcstore.com/collections/into-america Further Reading and Viewing: Stream Bel-Air on PeacockHow a Viral Video Turned Into Bel-AirThey're Back – See Which Original ‘Fresh Prince' Stars Are Reuniting on ‘Bel Air'
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