WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Local Commentaries

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.

Friends With Differences

Oct 10, 2018

I recently had the great pleasure of reconnecting with a former student of mine who graduated from WIU in 1989. Todd was a memorable student. He was one of an elite group of undergraduates to be chosen for an internship with the U.S. Supreme Court,  and went on to an outstanding legal career.

Courtesy photo

At the intersection of East Calhoun and Dudley streets in Macomb, in the northeast corner of the First Presbyterian Church is a magical cupboard. This cupboard doesn't hold clothes or shoes or forgotten treasures.  This cupboard is full of food and with it hope for a better tomorrow.  This month Loaves & Fishes is celebrating 25 years of keeping that magical closet stocked to serve residents of McDonough County.  This all-volunteer organization composed of twelve religious congregations scattered throughout the county provides food, and assistance with emergency housing, utilities, and medical bills to those in need.   

Si Se Puede!

Sep 26, 2018

Many cultural centers were established in the late 1960s and early 1970s in higher ed institutions. The main purpose was to serve as a haven for underrepresented students facing pressing social and political issues. Fast forward to 2018 and that is still the case, especially in a political climate that uses harsh and generalized rhetoric to describe the Latinx immigrant community.

Nature Can Help Clear Your Mind

Sep 19, 2018
Courtesy

Over the past few years, I have occasionally written commentaries for Tri States Public Radio, but only when an issue bothered me so badly I was compelled to weigh in on it. Apparently, listeners appreciated the positive messages I try to convey as I was invited to contribute more commentaries, but this time I was given scheduled dates for them. One of those dates is today. 

Positively Macomb

Sep 12, 2018

I’m a pessimist, and I've been feeling gloomy about the future of our region with the bad news from Western Illinois University.  There are fewer students, more jobs lost and the sudden, unexplained defunding of this NPR affiliate, Tri States Public Radio.  Faculty, staff and community members feel left out of the decision-making process. There is a rolling negative effect outside of the university campus on Macomb and the region and the people living here.

But I’ve been hanging around some optimists.  They have made me look beyond WIU to find the good things happening in our community.

I was leading a study abroad course in Puerto Rico when I heard that Anthony Bourdain had died.  My immediate thought was, "Damn it, we lost another good one."  Like most, I had never met Anthony Bourdain, yet he felt like a friend to me.  From his very first foray into ethnographic filmmaking and eating around the globe with A Cook's Tour to his more recent Parts Unknown, he kept me company on a regular basis.  

The same day that Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas and the Board of Trustees announced that Tri States Public Radio will "become a self-funded department within the University structure and will be responsible for generating its revenue needs, including personnel expenditures, effective March 1, 2019," the lead story on the WIU website lauded the accomplishments of its nationally award winning Broadcasting and Journalism students.   What??!!??   

Religion & Public Policy in the Land of Liberty

Jul 2, 2018

This week we celebrate the founding of our sweet land of liberty, and in thinking about this experiment that was supposed to fail, I more-than-ever appreciate that which we are.  A country not based on Christian liberty, but a country based on religious freedom, where all can practice openly and one religion does not get to be the official "American religion."

Last week I led my last regular classes of the semester.  For all of my courses, whether they are introductory level or advanced seminars, I like to leave my students with a solid idea of what they have learned and how they can carry their newly acquired knowledge and skill-sets outside of the classroom and into their futures. I generally begin by asking students to reflect—both individually and in groups—on how their knowledge about anthropology and the skills associated with the discipline have grown over the course of the semester.  Where are they now versus where they started?  And what are the most important insights they have gained over the course of their studies?

It's May. It took a long time getting here, but we're reaching the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. It's time for baseball, cookouts, vacation, and fishing. Macomb's Dairy Queen is open and people are placing bets on whether or not the pool will open. Tuesday I walked with my daughter's second grade class to the West Central Illinois Arts Center and Chandler Park and it finally felt like we've put the cold and snow behind us.

Resilient WIU Students – I Salute You!

Apr 25, 2018

Working past challenges, even when you are facing failure, is tough. But I see our students do it every day on the WIU campus.

Equal Pay Day 2018

Apr 18, 2018
Rich Egger

April 10 was Equal Pay Day. This is the date representing how far into 2018 women have to work in order to catch up to what men were paid in 2017.  Equal Pay day shows the gender pay gap between men and women.   As a group, women make about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For women of color, that number drops: 63 cents for black women, whose Equal Pay Day isn’t until August 20, and 54 cents for Latinas who must work until November 1 for their Equal Pay Day. The gender pay gap exists in every profession, every occupation, at every level of education, in every country. 

Last week I spent four days in Philadelphia at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings.  I must admit, that while I don't normally lack self-confidence, these meetings always leave me feeling a bit like a charlatan.  The SFAA is a professional organization that brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds (not only anthropology) whose work seeks to make a positive effect on the quality of life in our world today. 

Why Recognize Minority Health Month

Apr 4, 2018

The U.S. is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation. It is a nation comprised of people from all walks of life, not only in terms of race and ethnicity, but also in terms of religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability levels, income levels, and experiences in the armed forces, to name a few. As such, although unfortunate, the U.S., as well as other developed and developing nations, experiences a wide disparity in terms of the disease burden among members of its population.

Building Connections

Mar 21, 2018

As a scientist, I study complex networks built by microorganisms. These connections are essential for the stability and functioning of our planet. I am continuously surprised by how we overlook the many lessons we can learn from nature to improve our own communities.

Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Me

Mar 14, 2018

I am delighted by the response to the movies Wonder Woman and Black Panther.  Both are inspiring to children. Both movies show powerful role models for women  and people of color as leaders with strength and compassion.  Both are celebrations of the importance of representation in pop culture. It really does matter to see someone just like you in the role of hero.

Values

Mar 7, 2018

Mark Manson, a blogger and NY Times best-selling author writes, "Pain in all its forms is our body's most effective means of spurring action."   There has been a lot of pain in my world lately.  The grief of discovering too late that was no farm legacy to leave to my daughters.  The agony of watching yet another school shooting while our politicians sit idly by and do nothing to ensure the safety our children.  And most recently, the visceral anger I feel after discovering that administrators in the Macomb School District appear to have blatantly violated the law and the trust of students, parents, and community members.  

Rich Egger

Last week various media sources reported on the lawsuit filed against the Macomb School District on behalf of two female students who allege they were sexually harassed, assaulted and raped at Macomb High School and that Macomb School District Administration did nothing to make the girls feel safe or have their concerns heard. This became so problematic that they both left Macomb High School, and one eventually the town and district, to remove themselves from their perpetrator.

Science Communication

Feb 21, 2018

As a PhD student at WIU studying environmental science I realize there are many skills required for one to become a successful scientist.  Graduate student and post doc training often requires the ability to learn and master extremely difficult protocols and techniques. This training tends to produce individuals who are highly specialized and extremely competent but often lack the time to communicate with the general public.

If I Were a Man

Feb 14, 2018

If I were a man, I'd be embarrassed and insulted right now. 

Over the past few months, thousands of women have spoken publicly about what's been done to them - sexual assault, physical and verbal harassment, derogatory comments -because they are women. 

The Grieving

Feb 7, 2018
Courtesy photo

Grieving; "To feel grief, or great sorrow."

Death to me is something that happens every day. Whether be a plant, or animal, people and things die all the time. My mama says that it's a part of life, so on January 20, 2018 when my grandpa Opa died, my reaction was grief.

Brett Weinstein/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

In 1965, shortly after the assassination of Malcom X, poet, writer, and artist Amiri Baraka opened the Black Arts Repertory Theater/School (BARTS) in Harlem, a move that by many is viewed as the start of the Black Arts Movement.

Being Singular Plural

Jan 17, 2018
TSPR

I’ve been influenced by educators, philosophers, NPR commentators, any number of individuals on local as well as national and international levels. They've prompted me to look at the world and at relationships from many perspectives.

Porque no veine mas mujeres a mis charlas? "Why don't more women come to my meetings?" I complained to Doña Columbina after returning from yet another sparsely attended community forestry gathering in the rural mountain village I had been placed in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was fresh out of training and ready to change the world. It was the spring of 1991 and having survived the first few months of culture shock in the Dominican Republic, I was ready to get to work.

It seems that every January my commentary focuses on something about the Star Wars franchise. It's the new year and I don't plan on changing that habit this month. Last month, my son Jack and I went on our annual mother-son movie date to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premier. It's a tradition I've truly come to enjoy. He roots for the dark side and I cheer on the Rebellion and we have a great time.

Giving Back

Dec 29, 2017

On Saturday night, I dreamed I was in the living room of an older wealthy woman. I stood next to her delivering an emphatic, tearful plea, insisting, "When you are born into privilege it is your responsibility to help others less fortunate than you." Man, I was really crying.

Rules I Try to Live By

Dec 20, 2017

Since I promised to do these commentaries, I decided to use the opportunity to organize.

"It all went just too fast." This is something I have heard over and over again these last couple of weeks.  As I told the freshmen in my classes in August: don't blink, because before you know it the fall semester will be gone. 

As I sat down to write this commentary, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor were the latest in a long line of popular and influential men in media and politics to be fired for sexual harassment.

Over Thanksgiving as I was walking with my sisters we talked about what was happening with the men in the media. They asked if I thought this was a watershed moment, one where the narrative of how women were treated would change.

How We Live with Our Enemies

Nov 29, 2017
Rich Egger

In his novel Atonement, Ian McEwan writes: "It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you."

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