When You Look Like Us: Pamela N. Harris & Being Black in America
April 23, 2021
Hosted by Diane Dewey
From debut author Pamela N. Harris comes a timely, gripping teen novel about a boy who must take up the search for his sister when she goes missing from a neighborhood where black girls’ disappearances are too often overlooked. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Tiffany D. Jackson. When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—everyone else thinks you’re trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing black girl from public housing because she must’ve brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends. But she’s been gone too long. Nic, where are you? If I hadn’t hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma. If I was a better brother, she’d be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list. It’s time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won’t. Bring her home. Drop In with us to hear about Pamela N. Harris' views on race relations in the criminal justice system -- having written a debut novel whose plot centres around this very thing -- and just after the George Floyd murder trial and successful prosecution of a White Minnesota police officer. Will this landmark verdict change things? Is there hope for better regulation of police violence against marginalised groups? What happens now when White criminals perpetrate violence on African American, Black Brown, or any person of color as a victim? Will African American mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers always have to have 'the talk' with their sons, grandsons, nephews, godchildren and friends? Finally, what can persons of non-color do to ally with the Black community, bear witness to the struggles, and to help create positive change? At a critical juncture in our history, we'll talk openly and search honestly for answers on the way forward. Drop in with us this Friday
Friday at 8 AM Pacific Time on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel
At Dropping In we’ll explore diverse stories about identity. By listening to others talk about their own path, ours becomes less fearful. Where are we now and how do we meet the challenges? Dropping In is a place of discovery. We might believe that our life experiences are uniquely our own. Yet there’s a community of people that are here to bear witness, to relate to, link arms with and support us. They join us on Dropping In, tackling subjects like breaking into your dream business, cultural differences, child abuse, mental illness, shamanism, gender search, religious shunning, and fitting in as a marginalized outsider. These can feel like lonesome tasks. How do others find their power? Listening to their personal truths validates our own. Drop into the conversation to find the common threads, your uniqueness and our shared experience as humans.
My most pressing question has always been about identity: Who am I? Growing up near Philadelphia with my adoptive family, my genetic identity was hidden. Then, my Swiss biological father, Otto, contacted me when I was age forty-seven in 2002. I’d been told by my adoptive parents that my biological parents were dead, supposedly to protect me. Meeting Otto upended my life. Through him, I met my German biological mother’s family to discover that her story too, had been changed; that she’d not wanted to surrender me and she’d searched for me all her life. Finding my truth was essential.
Based on my experience I am excited to talk to people about their own search for identity. My education includes a BA from Villanova University, a certificate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. I’ve worked for The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The SoHo Partnership and the National Academy of Design and have studied writing through New York University’s Continuing Education program. As an entrepreneur, I founded my art appraisal business, The Realization of Art in 2006. My non-fiction writing has been published in Shared Space, a monograph, and in Artes online magazine. Writing workshops worldwide have given me the chance to learn and hone my craft. My first book, “Fixing the Fates,” was awarded the National Non-Fiction Author’s Association Silver Medal and the Living Now Award.