Racial Justice

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Clifton White and Selinda Guerrero organized Free Them All Fridays for months, speaking out against conditions and abuses in New Mexico prisons. White had spent years behind the walls, with Guerrero on the outside calling for prisoners’ rights. After the couple pulled together the first Black Lives Matter protest of 2020 in Albuquerque in late May, White was arrested on an administrative parole violation, which Guerrero says was retaliation for their protests. She and other demonstrators called for his release all summer long. He was returned to his family late last week. KUNM talked with the couple Monday, Nov. 2, in a park, with everyone wearing masks, which you might hear in the interview.

courtesy of Dr. Assata Zerai / University of New Mexico

On Wednesday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a new official seal design. The decision comes after years of advocacy by Native American students and faculty who said the old seal, featuring a conquistador and a frontiersman, celebrated genocide and colonial oppression. But the Regent’s final selection is not the design that won a popular vote, and that has many people feeling left out of what was supposed to be an inclusive process. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents is expected to vote on Wednesday, Oct. 20 on a new official seal design. The move follows many years of campaigning by students and faculty with the UNM Kiva Club and the Red Nation, who say the old seal, depicting a frontiersman and a conquistador, celebrates genocide and conquest. But the old seal is far more the only symbol at UNM that reflects racism against Indigenous people, says Alysia Coriz, a Native American Studies major and co-president of the Kiva Club. She spoke with KUNM earlier this year about how she would like to see the university address other instances of racist imagery on campus, including places named after violent colonizers. 

Ty Bannerman

 

Protests against racial injustice have taken place in communities across the country this year, some focusing on calls to remove monuments to racist figures. Last week, on Indigenous People’s Day, an obelisk in the Santa Fe plaza that commemorated colonial violence against Indigenous people was pulled down by demonstrators. As part of our Voices Behind The Vote series, Santa Fe writer Darryl Lorenzo Wellington spoke with KUNM about what that community action meant to him in an election cycle that has seen racism take center stage.  

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. 

Hannah Colton


Leaders with the Black New Mexico Movement have been out multiple times in the leadup to this election demonstrating for racial justice and working to get folks registered to vote. That’s what they were doing last month at a rally in Rio Rancho when their event was overtaken by counter-protestors. No More Normal executive producer Marisa Demarco spoke with BNMM organizer Barbara Jordan about her priorities this election season and racism in the city she calls home.

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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

During the presidential debate a week ago, moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump to denounce white supremacy. Trump sidestepped the question and instead told a white supremacist group to “stand back and stand by.” The next day, I caught up with Art Simoni, who once would have called himself conservative, and who was my editor when I was a student reporter nearly 20 years ago.

Transcript:

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The Black New Mexico Movement returned to Rio Rancho on Saturday, three weeks after their peaceful rally in the conservative suburban city was overrun with a couple hundred aggressive counter-protestors. This time, the pushback was much smaller and more subdued. This weekend’s Peace Talk was focused on getting out the vote as part of the struggle for racial justice. 

Elliotte Cook

Albuquerque lost an influential anti-racism activist and educator this summer. Bahati Myhelatu Ansari died from lymphocytic leukemia at 72 years old on June 27, 2020. She was the founder of the “Racism Free Zone” program for schools, which she started in Oregon about 30 years ago after her sons experienced racist attacks in junior high school. KUNM's Yasmin Khan met up with Ansari’s son Elliotte Cook at his mother’s favorite spot in Albuquerque, Tingley Beach, to talk about his mother and her legacy.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The Black New Mexico Movement held a rally on Saturday, Sept. 12, in Rio Rancho, the more conservative, smaller city that neighbors Albuquerque. Fifty or 60 people gathered to speak out against racism, marking the 24th anniversary of Tupac Shakur’s death and continuing the hip-hop artist’s activism against police brutality and racial injustice. A larger crowd of opposing demonstrators showed up and antagonized the group. 

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.

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

State Republicans had planned on featuring the New Mexico Civil Guard as special guests at a rally in Clovis on Aug. 22, before the militia group pulled out, citing racist remarks by one of the invited speakers. The Civil Guard, whose members have showed up heavily armed at several protests in Albuquerque this summer, also had their Facebook page removed this week as the platform culled hundreds of pages it says are tied to violence. 

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.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Rallies and marches for racial justice have drawn thousands to the streets of New Mexico’s largest city this summer, but protest looked different for one 67-year-old Black resident of an Albuquerque suburb. Every weekday for a month, Elizabeth Ward stood ­­– and sometimes sat – with a Black Lives Matter sign on a dusty street corner in Rio Rancho. The sprawling city’s population is whiter and more conservative than Albuquerque’s, with an all-Republican governing body. 

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.

Hannah Colton

University Showcase 7/17 8a: On this episode we talk with Associate Professor Finnie Coleman about the origins and the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement and how Afrofuturism can inform the creation of a more just society. 

pexels.com via CC


Let’s Talk New Mexico 7/16, 8a: Journalism is changing. All reporters are both living in the pandemic and reporting on it. Local student journalists are calling on newsrooms to acknowledge the racism hidden in how objectivity plays out in newsrooms. On this week's Let's Talk New Mexico, we’re discussing decision-making in news and reckoning with a history of racism in media.

And we want to hear from you!  How do you decide whether you can trust a New Mexican news source? What might make you lose that trust? Join the conversation by emailing letstalk@kunm.org or calling in on the day of the show.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 7/2, 8a: Across the nation, people are calling for the removal of monuments and place names that glorify leaders who brutalized Brown and Black people. On Let’s Talk New Mexico this week, we’ll discuss the long history of resistance to Albuquerque’s Juan de Onate statue, the Santa Fe plaza obelisk, a White-centric mural at the University of New Mexico, and more. What do these monuments mean to you? How do they uphold narratives that contribute to the continued oppression of Native Americans and other people of color? What should be the role of public art in telling the whole truth about complex colonial histories? Join the conversation: email letstalk@kunm.org, use the hashtag #LetsTalkNM on Twitter, or call (505) 277-5866 during the show.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The student-run newspaper at the University of New Mexico ran an editorial last week calling out “Journalism’s problematic love affair with objectivity.” In it, the Daily Lobo’s editorial board argues that mainstream White-led news media often perpetuates racism and “actively sides with the oppressor,” and that one way reporters do that is by unquestioningly repeating police narratives.

Daily Lobo News Editor Lissa Knudsen spoke with KUNM News Director Hannah Colton about how she says a dedication to the notion of objectivity can lead reporters to obscure the truth.

Yasmin Khan / KUNM

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free, almost two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate Juneteenth in Albuquerque this weekend, filling Roosevelt Park with music, dancing and barbeque. 

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. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The parents of an Albuquerque man who was shot Monday near the statue of colonizer Juan de Oñate in Old Town say Scott Williams, now hospitalized in stable condition, is a longtime activist for human rights and racial justice. Daniel and Denise Williams told KUNM's Hannah Colton they were on scene as tensions escalated; they say earlier they had attended a prayer gathering for the removal of the monument across the street. Scott’s father, Daniel, is a retired paramedic and says after hearing shots fired, he was headed to tend to the victim when he realized that it was his son. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM


Let's Talk New Mexico 6/18, 8a: With protests against systemic racism and violence continuing around the country, many people are questioning the role of law enforcement and imagining different ways of ensuring public safety. This week on Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’ll discuss a spectrum of changes to New Mexico’s police forces that folks are calling for, from reform efforts like banning chokeholds and training officers differently, to more radical proposals that seek to eliminate traditional policing altogether. 

Duke City Repertory Theater

With thousands of people in the streets for Black Lives Matter demonstrations in recent weeks, there’s been a movement across the country for theaters shuttered by the pandemic to open their lobby areas to support protestors. One space in downtown Albuquerque has answered that call. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

 

Albuquerque police have arrested the man who shot a protestor last night at a demonstration against a statue of Juan de Oñate in Albuquerque’s Old Town. The violence broke out after heavily armed men antagonized unarmed protesters who wanted to remove the monument to the violent Spanish colonizer. Police charged 2019 City Council candidate Steven Ray Baca with aggravated battery and took several militia men into custody for questioning. APD reports the victim is in critical condition but is expected to survive. 

Nash Jones / KUNM

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office is not going to press charges against four teenagers who were detained on Thursday, May 28, after a Black Lives Matter protest in Albuquerque’s International District. SWAT officers took them into custody that night, saying they had fired a gun near the demonstration, an allegation the teens deny. Police did not charge them with anything, and the District Attorney's Office won’t pursue it, saying APD doesn’t have evidence to support a criminal case.

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