Khalil Ekulona

Your N.M. Government Producer, Host
Gage Skidmore via CC

 

President Biden declared his intention to fight the rise in domestic terrorism, extremism and white supremacy in his inaugural address after the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. But as Congress weighs how to work on this longstanding American problem, a coalition of civil rights organizations sent a letter to the nation’s lawmakers saying they should not create a new domestic terrorism law. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with Becky Monroe of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights about the group’s concerns.

Scott Greene

  

Our democracy is being tested right now. It is not the first time. But it feels like a tipping point, and our very lives are in the balance. Can we find truth? Will we come to a place of peace? Can we resolve not to look the other way when the view is uncomfortable? Will those who stormed the Capitol, who aided and abetted seditionists, and who proliferated racism and dangerous lies, face punishment? Episode 18 is all about the fallout.

Sharon Chischilly for the Daily Lobo

Anyone who’s been paying attention to racism and white privilege in this country knows that what happened in D.C. has been brewing a long time. There’s a lot of good research and reporting happening right now outlining what’s been missed, suppressed and ignored when it comes to the rise of extremist militias in the U.S. We get into it in episode 17.

Screenshot from YouTube video courtesy of Martin Heinrich.

Congress voted again to impeach President Trump, and law enforcement is preparing for potential violence at state capitals around the U.S. as we count down to Inauguration Day on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Martin Heinrich is now the senior senator for New Mexico, and he was one of the first lawmakers to see the mob make their way to the Capitol steps. KUNM's Khalil Ekulona caught up with the senator on Wednesday morning and asked him about the experience and what things are like in the building now.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Air Force veteran Barbara Jordan led the Black New Mexico Movement in Rio Rancho in the summer, organizing for equality and justice for Black and Brown people. Demonstrators there encountered angry pushback  from hundreds of residents at some events, but she pressed on. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona reached out to Jordan to get her views on what she saw take place at the nation's Capitol last week, where a mob of people attempted an insurrection of the United States government—with notably less reaction from law enforcement than at BLM protests in 2020.  

Ted Eytan / Wikimedia Commons

  A lockdown was imposed at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, in response to a mob of hundreds of pro-Trump extremists who stormed the building. Freshman U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, who represents New Mexico’s northern third congressional district, was inside with her colleagues conducting the people’s business of certifying the electoral college results. Hours later, KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona checked in with the representative.

 

Wow, we just had a tense bunch of days, each one filled with anticipation and impatience and consternation. From people worrying about how the election was going to play out, to some keeping an eye on potential violence, it would be an understatement to say that anxieties were high. It makes sense, 2020 has been mad anxious as my East Coast compatriots would say. But the electoral college digits that just wouldn’t move are not the only numbers the United States has to grapple with. Most of the country spent so much of their attention on the election, news of record- breaking new covid cases barely cut through the din. No matter who’s in charge, we’ve got a lot in front of us.

Eric J. Garcia / El Machete Illustrated

The final presidential debate of 2020 got passing marks because the candidates managed to take turns. But rarely did they roll out the kind of action plans the moderator was looking for. She kept asking: If elected, what will you do about this big problem we are facing? Still, candidates did not venture into specifics. We think that was by design. The strategy was, make debate No. 1 so bad that by the time debate No. 2 comes around, expectations are so low, everyone will just be grateful it’s not incoherent shouting and call it good. But in a time with multiple crises pressing down on us, specific plans can pull people together, provide direction and alleviate anxiety. So that’s what this episode is all about. What do you want to hear candidates talking about? What kinds of plans and policies do you wish they were outlining before the public?

Contributed by artist Larry Schulte

The NoMoNo team was talking about ideas for our election coverage in early August: The potential for violence, attempts to subvert the vote and the importance of media literacy. It is not hyperbole to state that for most of us, this is the most important election we have ever taken a part in. That said, it is imperative that we are not only informed about our voting rights, but we ensure they are protected. That means becoming savvy about misinformation and disinformation and the ways that you and some people you may know are possibly being manipulated. 

 

The decisions made by leaders and policy makers during the COVID-19 pandemic will have repercussions on small businesses across the state, and the economic effects of the public health crisis have hit Black and Brown communities hard. Antavius Greathouse, a financial advisor, has been paying attention. He spoke with KUNM for our Voices Behind The Vote series ahead of the election.

Lonnie Anderson

Attack ads and contemporary political rhetoric about crime have a disturbing campaign ancestor: The Willie Horton ad that may have cost Michael Dukakis the presidential election in 1988. It relied on racism for its efficacy, and it ushered in an era of so-called "tough-on-crime" laws and posturing that nearly broke criminal legal systems, like the one in Albuquerque. Executive Producer and longtime criminal justice reporter Marisa Demarco navigates in Episode 13 how racist, fear-based electioneering warped the country's approach to crime. That continues to this day, favoring quick vengeance over long-term solutions that might have a real impact on crime rates. It's an addictive cycle: These methods, in fact, might be a big part of creating the problem candidates are promising to solve with them when they're counting on fear to salvage their flagging campaigns. 

Laura Paskus

An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. And along with more heat, drought and wildfires, we are facing an increase in forced migration – people fleeing their home countries for U.S. borders when they lose their crops or conditions become unlivable. No More Normal host Khalil Ekulona spoke with environmental reporter Laura Paskus about how New Mexicans should be preparing for this future, especially when it comes to water use. She says the Albuquerque stretch of the Rio Grande is critically low and could even stop flowing this month.

Melorie Begay / KUNM News

Voting by mail is underway in New Mexico and across the country, and President Trump’s false claims about election fraud have raised anxiety about the security of absentee ballots. His campaign has also called for an “army” of poll watchers, stoking fears of interference by armed far-right groups. No More Normal host Khalil Ekulona spoke with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver about prohibitions against voter intimidation and how she’s confident that ballots mailed by Oct. 27 will be counted as they should.

Bert Benally

Let’s take a breath. In episode 12, we try to fend off that wild pandemic election news cycle we’ve been living inside of, which can feel like a deluge of disorganized tragedies and failures. And we put the focus on what’s hanging in the balance these next couple of weeks as we cast our ballots.

EraserGirl / Wikimedia Commons via CC


  Ballots started making their way to mailboxes all around the state today. Request yours at NMvote.org

 

The U.S. Postal Service has been in the spotlight this year as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But actions by the Trump administration to cut into funding to the Postal Service has drawn scrutiny and raised questions about whether voters can be sure their ballot will get where it needs to be on time. KUNM caught up with Ken Fajardo, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 380, Albuquerque.

FELICIA MONTOYA, MARKUS WALL, KEMA

Tuesday, Oct. 6, is the last day in New Mexico that you can register to vote by mail or online for this election, though you can register in-person at your county clerk's office up through Halloween.

More people are facing homelessness around the country, advocates say, though it’s hard to pin down numbers so far. And economists project the crisis could get worse. In New Mexico, people without a home address can still register and vote on the politicians who are making the decisions about jobs, rent and economic relief during the pandemic. KUNM with Rachel Biggs, policy director for Albuquerque’s Health Care For The Homeless. She’s working on voter registration and mobilization for the unhoused population here—and around the country.

Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall, Kema

Millions of people around the U.S. have already voted early. Simultaneously many people are preparing to fill out their ballots, but are concerned with how they will deliver them, and, more importantly, if their vote will be counted. So many questions. Here at NoMoNo, we are going to dig deep to find answers for you. Episode 11 is all about preserving and exercising your right to vote. We talk with New Mexico's secretary of state, the president of the Albuquerque chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, a national election law expert, activists who protecting voting rights for underserved communities—and voters.

WyoFile via Flickr / Creative Commons

The news that President Trump contracted coronavirus raised a lot of questions about what could happen this election cycle, which is already under the unusual pressure of a pandemic. KUNM spoke with Lonna Atkeson from the University of New Mexico’s Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy this afternoon to find out some of the answers. She described what her morning had been like since speculation and word of Trump’s possible illness started sweeping the globe.

U.S. Census Bureau via Flickr CC

The census is one of the more important events in our democracy. Every 10 years each person is counted so that resources can be allocated, programs created, and a general understanding of the population is had. It should be a clean process. Should be. The 2020 census has proven to be anything but clean. Mud has been thrown on the process, as people and institutions attempt to manipulate the numbers, subsequently stripping power from some and giving it to others. Peppered throughout this episode is an editorial from NoMoNo about why the census matters: The state is counting on us to be counted. If you haven't completed the census form yet, do it now. It only takes a few minutes. Click here to get started.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The crew at NoMoNo headquarters takes a look at where we’ve been since the pandemic started, reflecting a little—hard to find time to do it when we’re all stuck in an unending news cycle. But hopefully, this is a pleasant look back if you’ve been hanging in there with us. We want to thank all of you who listened to the show when it was Your New Mexico Government back in March—you know, 1,000 years ago.

Jason Risner / CREATIVE COMMONS

Late last year, Nahje Flowers, a lineman for UNM’s football team, died by suicide after a long battle with depression noted by family and friends. His family is suing the university, the NCAA and former head coach Bob Davie, who they say ignored Flowers’ pleas for help and time off and forced him to keep playing. They’re represented by Ben Crump, the nationally known lawyer, who’s also bringing cases forward on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among others. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with Crump and Mica Hilaire, who is the lead attorney on the lawsuit.

The National Guard via Flickr

About a quarter of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes die, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Adri De La Cruz


 As the summer season transitions into fall, it is important to note that September, the ninth month of the year, isn’t just for football and the start of school. It is also a month to raise awareness of suicide prevention and recovery. Both are already long-standing issues in our society—especially here in New Mexico. Coupled with the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, hard feelings and thoughts can balloon. Left unattended or unnoticed, these issues lead to tragedy. But can we stop those tragedies before they happen? Talking things out and finding resources are two key solutions, and Episode 8 is full of options. This week we talk with counselors, therapists and people looking to help with an open ear, willing to hear about your problems and help you work through them. Because the world as it is today demands flexibility, but it’s tough to adjust to what you can’t see. 

 

Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham's Facebook page

  The national unemployment rate dropped in July to just over 10%, while New Mexico’s unemployment rate rose in that period to just over 12%. One reason is that people who were temporarily furloughed are now actually looking for jobs. That’s according to New Mexico Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley. He told  KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona that  while New Mexico’s unemployment trust fund will likely be depleted this month, his department has borrowed money from the federal government to extend the availability of benefits.

USDA Photo by Bob Nichols / Creative Commons

While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues of food access for consumers, it’s also made things more dangerous for those who grow and harvest the food we rely on. Early in the pandemic, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty wrote to the state asking leaders to make a plan to keep agricultural workers safe. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with Felipe Guevara, a workers’ rights attorney at the center, about conditions for farm- and dairy workers before and during the pandemic.

Canva / Creative Commons

New Mexico’s harvest season is reaching its peak as the coronavirus continues to spread. The state’s agricultural workforce faces unique barriers to getting information about COVID-19, staying healthy, and reducing the likelihood of viral spread in their communities. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with Ismael Camacho, Staff Attorney for New Mexico Legal Aid’s Farmworker Project, about the working conditions he’s seeing and efforts to help inform and protect these essential workers.

Robbie Sugg

 


Summer is winding down and harvest season is quickly approaching. The change of the season is always very beautiful, but before the excitement of the leaves changing colors begins, we have to understand the dangers that many people are facing. With food security concerns around the state and a potential eviction crisis on the horizon it is important to ensure that everyone has the basics for survival. In Episode 7, we look at the essentials of survival—shelter, health care and food—and attempt to see not only what the problems are, but how they can be fixed.

 

Photo by Nani Chacon

In the old days—like last year—mid-August was a time when students prepared to get back to class. A time to reconnect with friends and compare summer vacation stories and to show off the fashion of your new school outfits, if you were so lucky. In 2020, instead of students worrying about who has a crush on who, they’re thinking about who has COVID and who doesn't. Parents are concerned with how their kids will get a quality education. Teachers are not only focused on the adjustment to teaching remotely but on the health risks of being called back to campus. In Episode 6, we hear from a panel of teachers, students in three different levels of school, a union rep for college instructors, Khalil’s mom Olufemi Ekulona, as well as renowned anti-racism educator Jane Elliott. Break out your notebooks. There’s a lot to learn, and what is covered today will be on the exam.

fronteristxs and Anonymous, Untitled

When President Trump and ICE got in on the act of separating families and locking kids in cages, it spurred a public outcry. Millions of people were appalled that the land of the free would treat people in such a manner—especially people who were counting on the United States to provide safety, as they were often fleeing life-threatening situations. As usual in this country, the news cycle changed, and a majority of the public stopped talking about it. Then COVID-19 came, and the call to release detainees has picked up again, a call to save lives, a call to treat people like humans. As the pandemic continues to dominate our lives, the threat of coronavirus spreading in detention centers became a reality. What's not real: the response from ICE and the federal government. In episode 5, we don’t just look the dire situation for the people, but ask what, if anything, can be done about it.

Blvck Astronaut

Sometimes history repeats itself. When host Khalil Ekulona talks to his African American friends who are parents, he says they express joy and sadness: Joy in watching their kids grow and discover the wonders of life. Sadness in having to repeat conversations with their children about growing up Black in America—the same conversations their parents had with them decades ago. Episode 4 is all about the journey to racial equality, and some of the factors to consider as we travel along the road.

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