Commentary Strange Fruit

We’re halfway through the first month of 2015, and there’s been so much going on, we haven’t yet had time to bring you a look back at the conversations we loved in 2015.

On this week’s show, we listen back to some of those memorable stories and guests.

But first, we go back even further to 2013, when Mark Anthony Neal joined us to talk about his book, “Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities.”

Our chat with  Neal has been on our minds lately in light of criticism against NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. (Complex magazine says they’re “just not sure what to make” of videos of him dancing) for not adhering to stereotypical ideas about how a black man should act. Dancing, or his style of dancing, is one of those illegible black masculinities Dr. Neal spoke to us about.

The last couple years have been marked with what seems like a steady stream of high-profile, high-PR police violence against unarmed black people. Early in 2015, Freddie Gray‘s name was added to the list of victims, and Baltimore activists took to the streets in protest. We spoke with Baltimore hip-hop artist Born Divine about the unrest and the history of community-police relations in his city.

One theme that seems to come up a lot on Strange Fruit is the idea that people who have been discriminated against should know better than to discriminate against other people or groups. But time and time again, we see this isn’t the case. Our conversation with Victoria Syimone Taylor (aka DJ Syimone) last year made it obvious that queer spaces are not always safe spaces for queer people of color.

The year brought the name Rachel Dolezal to our national attention. She’s the NAACP chapter president from Spokane, Washington, who was pretending to be African-American. Debates sprang up about whether “trans-racial” was a thing, and in the midst of all the think pieces, we turned to Dr. Yaba Blay, author of “(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race,” for some clarity.

As 2015 drew to a close, the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” turned everyone’s attention to injustices in the criminal justice system. Much earlier in the year, we’d been thinking about those issues ourselves, after meeting and speaking with Sabrina Butler Porter. She was wrongfully convicted of murdering her baby and spent six years in prison — three on death row.

We couldn’t do a 2015 roundup without including one of our favorite new friends, Dr. Carol Anderson. She’s an associate professor of African-American studies and history at Emory University, and she was in town to deliver the ninth annual Anne Braden Memorial Lecture. We listen back to her brilliant explanation of how voter ID laws hurt people of color.

And to wrap up today’s look back, we revisit probably the most memorable episode for us this year: The day a Supreme Court decision made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. We held off on recording our show that week, hoping the decision would come down before we went into the studio, and it did.

We spent that Friday at press conferences and the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, then came back and recorded our show, sometimes through tears (or in Jaison’s case, as he claims, allergies). While we were at the county clerk’s office, we witnessed the first gay marriage in Louisville — and possibly Kentucky. Today we listen back to some audio from that day.

Happy Belated New Year, Fruitcakes! We have great things planned for 2016, so stay tuned, and keep in touch!

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.