Khalil Ekulona

Your N.M. Government Producer, Host
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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the last weeks of July, we saw high temperatures across the country. The streets heated up, and we’re not talking about the weather. We’re talking about federal forces sent to Portland, Chicago, Albuquerque and other cities. The arrival of these agents was met with public outcry and increased skepticism by lawmakers and residents alike. Others support the move. In episode 3, we take a look at what exactly is going on and what it means for our civil liberties and our democracy.

Leslie Granda-Hill / 2020

This week, we get into what has disappeared from our lives—good or bad—during the pandemic. Episode 2 is all about what’s going, going, gone, maybe for good. We learn of attempts to erase people from the Census. We talk to Sen. Martin Heinrich about the erosion of our civil liberties. We reflect on what’s fading from our relationships and mental wellness. We hear from a COVID-19 survivor, so the realities of the virus don’t slip away. We examine the consciousness of community and the loss of a collective future with an international futurist. We reflect on a disappearing chicken and what life was like pre-pandemic. And we try to see and hear a vanishing Rio Grande.

Zack Freeman

 

No More Normal is a new show brought to you by the same crew behind YNMG. On episode 1, we’re talking endurance. In the last few months, how many times have you heard someone say, “We’re in this for the long haul”? It’s going to take all kinds of gritty willpower to keep each other alive and to make it through the changes in our world. This week we learn from younger folks. We get lessons, advice and stories from civil rights activists. We talk about the endurance of people who’ve been fighting racist mascots and imagery for decades. And we tag along for a long run in the brutal heat.

pxhere via CC


In episode 82, we discuss how the question “How are you?” is part of documenting changing people and a changing globe. The answer reveals a lot about us. Are we good? We hear from a high school athlete who is worried about going back to a crowded campus, a woman who lost her mother to COVID-19, an anti-police brutality activist who sees focused protesters demanding positive local change, a community organizer whose family was torn apart after their activism, and an advocate who networks community groups to pay people to make masks. We know everyone out there is working hard in one way or another. So, how are you?  

Wallpaper Flare via CC


In episode 81, we check back for new developments on some of the impactful stories from YNMG from the past couple of months. What opportunities have been missed to make things better in this urgent time? Who's falling through the holes in the system? And what's still in front of us to do?

Pixelmaniac Pictures via Wikimedia Commons CC


We come back to life’s essentials like housing and education in episode 80, and the systemic problems that can easily slip past us if we’re not vigilant. As we continue to endure, it's easy to drop the ball on issues New Mexico has been battling for years. Today we hear from journalists from around the state on how the pandemic is affecting schools and teachers, the affordability of housing, and whether the corrections system is fulfilling its human rights obligations. 

The youngest stars are shown as red while more evolved stars are shown as blue.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA / Creative Commons

It’s a weird time. We’ve got a global pandemic, an uprising against racist police violence and a special legislative session dropped in the middle of it—the likes of which no one’s ever seen before. Maybe one that people still aren’t seeing because there have been so many access issues. In episode 79, we dig in to bring you what’s new and developing with the emergency legislative session. What bills have been passed, what is on the way and what is being held until January are just a few of the topics we cover. We talk with journalists from New Mexico PBS and the NM Political Report. We also hear from an advocate who is on the forefront of voting rights in tribal lands.

In episode 78 we discuss what’s happening in Santa Fe at the legislative special session. It’s a unique situation up there; COVID-19 precautions have led to a locked-in session with no opportunity for citizens to attend in person. But first, we hear from organizers of the Albuquerque Juneteenth celebration commemorating 155 years since the official end of slavery in Texas, with the entire United States following soon after. 

Granger Meador via Flickr / Creative Commons

The New Mexico Legislature encountered many technical hurdles during its first day of the emergency special session called to patch up a budget thrashed by coronavirus. But the Roundhouse is also closed to the public due to concerns about viral spread; lawmakers, staffers and the media are the only ones allowed in the building. The doors are locked. There was a small group of protesters outside on Thursday wanting to go in and see their lawmakers in action. KUNM’s Nash Jones spoke with Khalil Ekulona, host of Your New Mexico Government, about a session that’s hard to access in every way.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

In episode 77 we dive into the state’s special legislative session that started today. The primary reason for the emergency meeting is to address the unexpected budget shortfall brought on by COVID-19 and the decimation of oil and gas markets that provide much of New Mexico’s public funding.

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