Our Body Politic turns a year old this week, when episode 54 drops this coming Friday. Episode 53 was particularly intense and moving for me, as I talk to award-winning reporter Chris Jones, the Report for America fellow at 100 Days in Appalachia. We both go to cover the “Justice for J6” rally and compare notes on how he approaches reporting as a white man who can blend in to the crowd, and I approach it with my own embodiment as a Black woman who cannot… but who nonetheless has covered extremists for 25+ years.
It took me to some hard places. The hardest thing about reporting on organized white supremacists and nationalists has not been the physical and emotional risks with them, but the sinking feeling of fear, sadness, and moral injury when the profession of journalism has not taken the topic seriously. I believe we could have avoided January 6 if both journalism and civil society at large had not ignored its duty to report on all Americans.
We go into why the low rally turnout (which was utterly expected due to very active Federal support for law enforcement, unlike Jan 6) should not be taken as an indicator that extremism has waned. Chris is a veteran, and we talk about the sociopolitical heterogeneity of American veterans, and also how extremists have long recruited and veiled themselves in the credibility of having veterans in their ranks. We go on to talk race, urban planning, and politics with Maryland gubernatorial candidate and bestselling author Wes Moore; the joy of hiking and forest-bathing with Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp (pictured above); and the intersection of white evangelical Christianity and politics with Robert P. Jones of PRRI and Dr. Anthea Butler.
We as a nation missed so much because of the marginalization of coverage of and by women of color. But this show is here because all of us working on it want to depict America in its fullness, and learn from the journey. Thank you for joining us on the journey.