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YNMG & COVID: Race, Privilege And Reopening

Trevier Gonzalez
Anti-shutdown protesters push back against public health orders in downtown ABQ on April 24, as a counter-demonstrator supports health care workers.

The past few weeks have seen a rise to anti-shutdown protests in many parts of the country. Some have observed the number of weapons at some of these protests, others have observed that most of the participants are white. That made us think, how does race factor into the conversations around re-opening? In episode 66, we talk with some of the louder voices in the state speaking out against New Mexico’s shutdown, and national anti-racism activist Tim Wise. And we hear from a guy who’s worked for years to grapple with his own privilege. These conversations might give us a window into what the future holds.

Republican state Sen. Bill Sharer talks about reopening Farmington, a hotspot for cases and deaths, and why despite the virus spread he thinks the shutdown should be lifted.

Tim Wise, one of America’s leading anti-racism activists and scholars, author of bestselling books “White Like Me”, “Dear White America” and “Under The Affluence” joins the show and talks about how white privilege fuels anti-shutdown protesting across the country.  

Sierra county sheriff Glenn Hamilton tells us what's happening in Sierra County, which is 93 percent white with only one confirmed case of COVID, and why he deputized an entire church congregation, and whether that allows them to be exempt from the governor's lockdown orders.

Scott Davis, a white construction project manager working in Northern New Mexico, talks about his personal journey learning about race and privilege.

We didn't have time to include this conversation with John Biewen, a journalist and podcast producerwhose work has focused on the history of whiteness, racism, and myths of democracy in America. 

Biewen spoke with KUNM's Hannah Colton.

And in Local News:

New Mexico state officials announced they are hiring 200 to 250 contact tracers, who identify people who’ve tested positive for coronavirus and then help track down people they were in contact with before they knew they were infected. It’s remote work and there’s a virtual hiring process, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. Head over to the State Personnel Office.

The state reported160 new confirmed cases today, bringing the total here to 6,625. Most of those cases are either in the Northwest corner of the state or in Bernalillo County. Officials also said there were eight more deaths. The death toll stands at 302. 

Navajo Nation officials said there were 181 more cases today—that’s 20 more than the whole state of New Mexico—bringing the total there to 4,434. They’ve had about half the number of deaths as the state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said state flags will fly at half mastthrough Memorial Day in honor of people who’ve died from coronavirus and their families, in addition to being a recognition of military members.


Find a full list of the resources we talk about on each episode and opportunities to donate or help online at: BIT.LY/YNMGHUB

  • If you want to hear more from Tim Wise or check out one of his books head to: timwise.org
  • Showing Up For Racial Justice, a multi-racial network of people organizing white folks for racial and social justice. Check out what the local chapter is doing at the Facebook page "SURJ ABQ." 
  • The Albuquerque Friends Meeting, the local Quaker organization, has a Whiteness Study Group, and they've got resources on building anti-racist, multicultural faith communities. 
  • The Santa Fe Community Foundation has a whole course on unlearning racism and understanding privilege. 
  • There's a great podcast series called "Seeing White" that takes a deep dive into the history of whiteness in America and its violent legacy through to today. 
  • And check out the national network mobilizing white men to learn, grow and take action against white supremacy and patriarchy: Organizing White Men for Collective Liberation

How are things going for you? We'd love to hear about it. Share your pandemic stories by calling (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.


UPDATE 5/26, 1:30p: The original image for this episode, compiled by Hannah Colton, included two side-by-side photos: one of #FreeThemAll protesters demanding protections for and release of prisoners in ABQ, and one of anti-shutdown protesters in downtown ABQ. Our intention was to highlight a dichotomy in responses. But we received great feedback from a listener who said that including the #FreeThemAll demonstrators seemed to conflate their action with the anti-shutdown responses—and that it misrepresented what their efforts are really about. Colton agrees and apologizes for the mistake. We've altered the image. We always welcome criticism of our content, and we're grateful for this response. 

Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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