Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent almost two decades in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and has 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.

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

Demonstrations against racism and police violence continue around the United States and here in New Mexico. KUNM’s team has been to nearly all of them in Albuquerque and reports that protesters are pretty much always peaceful. On Thursday, Aug. 6, organizers with the Black New Mexico Movement gathered Downtown to speak out against what they said is biased news coverage about them and an inadequate police response to militia threats.

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. 

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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 76, we discuss criminal justice reform, from policing to prisons. We get a preview of the Albuquerque mayor and a city councilor plans to remake the public safety system. A criminal justice reporter tells us about COVID-19 in state prisons and reminds us that there is little race or ethnicity data to show us who is affected. But first, YNMG Executive Producer Marisa Demarco tells us what it was like to be at a protest this week where someone she knows was shot by a man trying to protect a statue of a genocidal Spanish conquistador. 

Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons CC

For years, Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have been working on strategies so police officers aren’t the primary people responding to 911 mental health calls. After weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Albuquerque—and just days after police shot a man in crisis, hospitalizing him—Mayor Tim Keller announced today that the city will create a separate Community Safety Department to handle these kinds of call-outs by the end of the year—without taking funding from the police department. It’s unclear what the city will do to respond to the rest of the protesters’ demands around over-policing, and calls to defund and demilitarize the police.

Dominic Smith via Flickr CC


In episode 75, we're talking data privacy, surveillance, sophisticated bots, racially biased tech and misinformation on social media in the time of COVID, BLM and the upcoming election. We check in with researchers, privacy advocates and an artist/activist, who talk about how our data is valuable to corporations or governments that want to exploit their knowledge of us for policing, political or capitalistic reasons.

Nash Jones / KUNM


The country is grappling with practical steps for ending police brutality and racism in policing. We explore some local ideas in episode 74, from completely burning down the system to moderate reform to minor policy changes. Community and Black Lives Matter organizers, Albuquerque’s mayor and City Councilor Lan Sena, and activists who work with and against police weigh in on what the future of public safety could look like.

Sue Schuurman

In episode 73, we talk to and about militia groups in New Mexico that have floated around the edges of demonstrations against racist police violence and white supremacy. Robert Whitmon of the American Patriots of New Mexico, one such group, says they've been working with police for years. Regardless of their claims of support for protesters, demonstrators say they raise tension and anxiety, and they're already concerned about state-sanctioned violence and the possibility of retribution for speaking out. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 

Every day for over a week, masses of people in Albuquerque have showed up in public to condemn state violence against black people and call for systemic change. Though national narratives have characterized Black Lives Matter protests as volatile and prone to violence, Albuquerque saw thousands of people all week peacefully marching, mourning individuals killed by police, celebrating black culture and speaking out. The events this weekend had different organizers and drew different crowds. City administration made it harder to get to many of them, blocking access to most of the Downtown area with concrete barricades starting Friday.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The work of recognizing and confronting racism – in oneself, others, and the system – is difficult and uncomfortable. In episode 72, we talk about the bitter work we are all being asked to do in this time of uprising. We hear from the founder of an inclusive leadership organization, a UNM professor, a socialist community organizer in Albuquerque, a media consultant in Washington, D.C., and we have part two of Khalil’s conversation with his father.

David_Axe / Creative Commons


The militarization of local police forces has been on display as anti-riot squads have responded to Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country. Monique Salhab of Albuquerque is a military veteran who fought in the Middle East. She now sits on the National Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace. She spoke with KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona about the rise in military-style tactics among police and what it feels like to fight for justice amid a pandemic.

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