Michele Norris http://michele-norris.com Author of The Grace of Silence Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:28:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 St. Cloud residents are using books to battle racism- KARE 11 NEWS http://michele-norris.com/news/st-cloud-residents-are-using-books-to-battle-racism-kare-11-news/ http://michele-norris.com/news/st-cloud-residents-are-using-books-to-battle-racism-kare-11-news/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 15:10:49 +0000 http://michele-norris.com/?p=6261 ST. CLOUD, Minn.–  National Public Radio journalist Michele Norris’s memoir, The Grace of Silence, is the book selection for the first St. Cloud Community Read.

The community read, taking place during February and March, is designed to promote community conversation and generate healthy conversations about race in St. Cloud.

Today, KARE 11 anchor Pat Evans hosted a book discussion at the Great River Regional Library. He joined us from the …

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ST. CLOUD, Minn.–  National Public Radio journalist Michele Norris’s memoir, The Grace of Silence, is the book selection for the first St. Cloud Community Read.

The community read, taking place during February and March, is designed to promote community conversation and generate healthy conversations about race in St. Cloud.

Today, KARE 11 anchor Pat Evans hosted a book discussion at the Great River Regional Library. He joined us from the library this morning to tell us more.

For details about about community read, click here.

For more information about Michele Norris’s memoir,click here.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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That’s funny, you don’t look Jewish. http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/thats-funny-you-dont-look-jewish/ http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/thats-funny-you-dont-look-jewish/#comments Sun, 10 Feb 2013 16:19:01 +0000 http://theracecardproject.com/?p=5456 Audrey Friedman
Minneapolis, MN


Said to me many times during my life. I never knew how to reply to that statement.…

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Audrey Friedman
Minneapolis, MN


Said to me many times during my life. I never knew how to reply to that statement.

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I am more guilty of classism http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/i-am-more-guilty-of-classism-2/ http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/i-am-more-guilty-of-classism-2/#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:25:19 +0000 http://theracecardproject.com/?p=6193 Jessica
Minneapolis, MN…

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Jessica
Minneapolis, MN

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Thumbsucking doesn’t turn your skin black! http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/thumbsucking-doesnt-turn-skin-black/ http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/thumbsucking-doesnt-turn-skin-black/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 02:14:14 +0000 http://theracecardproject.com/?p=5921 -Anonymous,
Minneapolis, MN

Heard this in rural South Dakota, Late 1930’s early 40’s…

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-Anonymous,
Minneapolis, MN

Heard this in rural South Dakota, Late 1930’s early 40’s

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All 5th grade girls except Mavis. http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/all-5th-grade-girls-except-mavis/ http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/all-5th-grade-girls-except-mavis/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 21:23:40 +0000 http://theracecardproject.com/?p=5835 Phoebe Ruona
Minneapolis, MN

I went to a little 2-room country school in MN.  There were 3 black kids in our school.  Mavis was in 5th grade with me.  My parents threw a surprise party for me and invited all the 5th grade girls except Mavis.  I remember being angry and sad that she was left out, and I knew it was because of her skin color.  I didn’t know how to …

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Phoebe Ruona
Minneapolis, MN

I went to a little 2-room country school in MN.  There were 3 black kids in our school.  Mavis was in 5th grade with me.  My parents threw a surprise party for me and invited all the 5th grade girls except Mavis.  I remember being angry and sad that she was left out, and I knew it was because of her skin color.  I didn’t know how to apologize to her.  Mavis, wherever you are, ” I am sorry.”

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I want to help, not patronize http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/i-want-help-patronize/ http://michele-norris.com/minneapolis-mn/i-want-help-patronize/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:51:50 +0000 http://theracecardproject.com/?p=4050 Jessica
Minneapolis, MN…

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Jessica
Minneapolis, MN

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NPR’s Michele Norris Graces YWCA’s Aspire Luncheon http://michele-norris.com/news/nprs-michele-norris-graces-ywcas-aspire-luncheon/ http://michele-norris.com/news/nprs-michele-norris-graces-ywcas-aspire-luncheon/#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 18:56:47 +0000 http://michele-norris.com/?p=1765

Intimate, funny, but above all utterly on point about the dangerous realities faced by communities of color and women trapped in violence. -Bruce Poinsette Of The Skanner News

By:  Bruce Poinsette Of The Skanner News

May 14, 2012
Journalist Michele Norris, at left, signs a copy of her memoir, ‘The Grace of Silence,’ for Portlander Donna Maxey, at the YWCA Aspire Luncheon last week.
When National Public Radio host Michele …

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Intimate, funny, but above all utterly on point about the dangerous realities faced by communities of color and women trapped in violence. -Bruce Poinsette Of The Skanner News

By:  Bruce Poinsette Of The Skanner News

May 14, 2012
Journalist Michele Norris, at left, signs a copy of her memoir, ‘The Grace of Silence,’ for Portlander Donna Maxey, at the YWCA Aspire Luncheon last week.
When National Public Radio host Michele Norris came to Portland last Wednesday to address the YWCA Inspire Luncheon, she focused on the pressing issues of racism and domestic violence.

In her keynote speech before the multiracial crowd of YWCA supporters, Norris talked about an online initiative she started called The Race Card Project, in which people literally write their experiences with racism on a digital ‘card’ – no matter what their racial background is.

In the face of such somber subject matter, the charismatic Norris was moved to break the ice with a seemly random one-liner about cannibalism – one which also served as a telling comment about racial divisions in American society.

“Underneath, we all taste like chicken,” Norris said.

The crowd roared.

Intimate, funny, but above all utterly on point about the dangerous realities faced by communities of color and women trapped in violence, Norris’ Portland appearance was the perfect highlight for the YWCA’s biggest annual event.

Attendees packed the Grand Ballroom of the Downtown Portland Hilton Hotel to raise money for the YWCA and learn more about their work in the community to eliminate racism and empower women; it appeared that virtually every attendee left a financial contribution to the organization at the end of the meal, spurred on to do so by Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

YWCA’s Work

Before the event, Norris, and Trisha Martin, the head of the YWCA’s Domestic Violence Program, sat down with The Skanner News to discuss the group’s work with domestic violence survivors.

“We have an emergency shelter which serves over 175 women and children a year,” says Martin.

The shelter is named Yolanda’s House, after Yolanda Panek, a former YWCA worker who was murdered by her abuser in front of her two-year-old son.

According to Martin, women generally stay in the shelter for 60 days. Workers try to help the women and their families transition into stable housing.

They also accompany women to court and help them apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF) and domestic violence grants through the state.

Lastly, they provide counseling referrals for children.

“Domestic violence impacts children in many ways,” says Martin. “It can be acting out or becoming reclusive. Children don’t always have the words to say why they’re ill or why they’re sick but it’s because of what they witnessed.”

Martin says the shelter receives funding from the state and county but it’s not nearly enough. They depend on the generosity of the community, foundations, corporations and individual donors, she says.

According to Martin, more affordable housing in the community is the priority.

“We are constantly full,” she says. “Domestic violence impacts everyone. Every race. Every income level. It crosses all barriers.”

The Race Card Project

Norris moved the crowd with her reflections on The Race Card Project, which challenges people to post their thoughts on race in six word “digestible chunks.”

The effort was inspired by Norris’s 2010 book tour for her memoir, “The Grace of Silence.”

She had planned to give audience members postcards to express their thoughts on race in a safe setting, but Norris says she underestimated Americans’ willingness to discuss race and found that the cards were unnecessary.

“I wanted to create a way to move the conversation forward,” she says. “Now it’s become a forum where people can have the candid conversations they don’t feel they can have in their own social circle. It’s an archive of racial attitudes at a really interesting point in American history.”

The project proved so popular that the traffic crashed her website; now she’s created a separate website just for The Race Card Project.

Participants can post as many cards as they want. Norris says watching the evolution of people’s thoughts fascinates her. For example, if someone posts about what ethnicity he checks off for his child in a survey, she wants to see how that impacts him over the course of his child’s school years.

Norris admits that some of the responses can be ugly but says they are necessary to get the full picture.

“If people pull their punches or if people are not allowed to have their say then we’re not being fundamentally honest,” she says. “If we aren’t honest then how do we move forward as a society?”

She picked out one card during her keynote that read, “Race is throwing rocks at kids.” Norris says it came from a man who threw rocks at Black children who tried to integrate a school. The man talked of walking around and looking at every Black person’s forehead to check for scars because he knew he made contact. At the event where he revealed this story, Norris says two older Black women sat with and consoled him for the rest of the evening.

The Race Card Project receives posts from all nationalities and from countries all over the world. Norris hopes the conversation will migrate to NPR and other mainstream outlets.

Ultimately, she says her efforts come from a strong commitment to understanding history.

“There are a lot of Occupy movements out there,” she says. “Occupy your history.”

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Michele Norris opens afternoon for Simmons Leadership Conference, Boston http://michele-norris.com/news/michele-norris-opens-afternoon-for-simmons-leadership-conference-boston/ http://michele-norris.com/news/michele-norris-opens-afternoon-for-simmons-leadership-conference-boston/#comments Wed, 02 May 2012 19:52:04 +0000 http://michele-norris.com/?p=1760 Leadership conference brings women together

Astrid Lium

On the heels of International Women’s Month was a women’s leadership conference at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center.

Sponsored by Simmons College, the 33rd annual Leadership Conference last month featured an array of inspiring women from different walks of life. The longest-running women’s leadership forum in the country, the event reached its maximum capacity and attracted about 2500 attendees.

The theme this year

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Leadership conference brings women together

Astrid Lium

On the heels of International Women’s Month was a women’s leadership conference at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center.

Sponsored by Simmons College, the 33rd annual Leadership Conference last month featured an array of inspiring women from different walks of life. The longest-running women’s leadership forum in the country, the event reached its maximum capacity and attracted about 2500 attendees.

The theme this year was “Innovation and Impact,” and a list of notable women discussed various ramifications of those overarching concepts. The speakers represented a variety of backgrounds, from entrepreneurs and athletes to money managers and media personalities. A unifying factor was the encouragement of women to excel in any field.

According to Joyce Kolligian, the conference’s executive director, “This year’s roster included some of the nation’s most visionary change-makers who recognized and seized opportunities that have altered the course of their industry or profession.”

The 2012 keynote speakers of the all-day conference included Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and former president and CEO of eBay; tennis pioneer Billie Jean King; Robin Chase, former CEO of Zipcar and founder of GoLoco; and Michele Norris, co-host of National Public Radio’s (NPR) program “All Things Considered.”

Previous guests of the conference hail from a range of fields and have included Oprah Winfrey, Toni Morrison, ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

In the Corporate Marketplace area were booths set up by the conference’s business and media sponsors, including Cisco, TD Bank, Philips, EMC² and HP. Held in the ballrooms and conference rooms were different talks, which Whitman kicked off with opening remarks at 8am.

The following 10 hours included discussions, book signings, lunch and lectures. Over the course of the day, a dozen influential women shared their insights and tips on leadership, business, success and balance in life

Norris, the first African American female host for NPR, opened the afternoon talk with thoughts on feminism, race relations and recent advancements toward equality. Noting the sheer size of the cavernous room, she commented on the seemingly endless space filled by strong women. “It just keeps going and going!”

The 50-year-old radio personality underscored the importance of not taking such advancements for granted. “Even within some of our lifetimes, it would have been hard to imagine a room like this,” she said.

Before delving into the topics addressed by her 2010 “accidental” family memoir, “The Grace of Silence,” Norris balanced the serious talk with a light-hearted anecdote. The mother of two explained how her kids plead over dinner, “Mommy, can we have the radio voice?” Norris joked that she provides the coveted “radio voice” only after they have cleaned their rooms.

The bulk of her talk related to the discussion of racism, particularly within her own family, as it appears in her book. “I wanted to write a book about how other people talk about race,” she said. When Norris listened to the conversation closer to home, she realized how little of it she had heard before. “I was writing the wrong book,” she concluded.

The result was a collection of first-hand accounts from her parents and extended family about racism. Her family faced discrimination in a predominantly white Minnesotan neighborhood; her grandmother traveled the country as an “itinerant Aunt Jemima”; her father was shot while on his way to take a class about the Constitution.

Other speakers at the event included Vernice Armour, third-generation Marine and the first African American female combat pilot in U.S. military history; Carmen Wong Ulrich, a finance expert, author, public speaker and former host of CNBC’s program “On the Money”; and Rhonda Kallman, who helped launch The Boston Beer Company (makers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager) and New Century Brewing Co.

Moderators of the conference included Jill Avery, assistant professor of marketing at the Simmons School of Management, and Dr. Teresa Nelson, the Elizabeth J. McCandless Professor of Entrepreneurship Chair and director of the School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Program.

Proceeds from the Leadership Conference go toward Simmons graduate scholarships.

 

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Bricolage reviving controversial ‘Dutchman’ with the use of The Race Card http://michele-norris.com/news/bricolage-reviving-controversial-dutchman-with-the-use-of-the-race-cards/ http://michele-norris.com/news/bricolage-reviving-controversial-dutchman-with-the-use-of-the-race-cards/#comments Wed, 02 May 2012 17:13:05 +0000 http://michele-norris.com/?p=1748 Thursday, April 26, 2012
By Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Credit: Jason Cohn "Experienced Bricolage audience members know that their interaction is often required and in this case, they will be asked to participate by filling out "The Race Card," six words describing their feelings about race, for a project spearheaded by Michele Norris of National Public Radio."

Jonathan Berry and Tami Dixon star in the Bricolage/August Wilson Center production of …

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Thursday, April 26, 2012
By Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Credit: Jason Cohn "Experienced Bricolage audience members know that their interaction is often required and in this case, they will be asked to participate by filling out "The Race Card," six words describing their feelings about race, for a project spearheaded by Michele Norris of National Public Radio."

Jonathan Berry and Tami Dixon star in the Bricolage/August Wilson Center production of “Dutchman.”  “Dutchman” is either a powerful expression of America’s endless cycle of racial bigotry or a cliche from another era, while the character of Lula represents the worst of humankind or panders to biases.

In other words, the controversial 1960s play by LeRoi Jones, who was about to become Amiri Baraka when he wrote “Dutchman,” is a conversation waiting to happen, and that’s what collaborators Tami Dixon and Mark Clayton Southers are counting on.

Ms. Dixon stars as seductress Lula, a white woman with evil intent who targets Clay, a well-dressed black man who shares her subway car. Mr. Southers, artistic director of Pittsburgh Playwrights, directs in the joint production of Bricolage and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

Ms. Dixon performed as Lula in a reading of the play in 2007, the same year it was revived at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York, and knew she wanted to come back to it.

“I’ve always had an interest in the play purely from an actor’s standpoint; [Lula is an incredible role] for a white woman. It’s tough, it’s powerful, it’s sexual, it’s evil; it’s all of these really meaty things that woman don’t often get to play all at once. … And then the subject matter of this play speaks to me because I see a very clear divide in the black and white communities here in Pittsburgh and just in general how American deals with racism or the lack of dealing with racism. This play screams it to me. It says, this is how ugly it really is; let’s not ignore it any longer.”

Ms. Dixon thought the timing was right in this, an election year, plus Playwrights has moved into the Bricolage company’s Liberty Avenue building and the center is an across-the-street neighbor. Mr. Southers had directed Ms. Dixon in that 2007 reading.
Talk-backs go ‘Between the Lines’

The shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin on the heels of the Jordan Miles case in Pittsburgh and the open wounds of Jonny Gammage’s death at the hands of local police officers, recounted recently in “The Gammage Project,” directed by Mr. Southers, have convinced Ms. Dixon that the “Dutchman” remains a relevant work for the 21st century.

The hourlong play is usually strung together with a second or even third work, but it was decided not to dilute the raw experience of “Dutchman” with another fictional piece. Each performance will be followed by a discussion led by someone who takes an active role in the community.

When Ms. Dixon began the journey to the talk-backs, she found that she had “no vocabulary to talk about race,” which surprised the vivacious actress, because she had grown up in a mostly African-American neighborhood.

She read “scholarly books” about the racial divide by authors such as Tim Wise and Cornell West “just to wrap my mind around what they are thinking and then take it from my own perspective and my own history and articulate it from there.”

The person most helpful in finding her voice on the subject was Justin Laing, arts program officer of the Heinz Endowments. As someone who supports Bricolage’s work and who is active in the community, she wanted his involvement.

“I had a meeting with him and [Heinz Endowments chief] Bobby Vagt, and I’m just uuuuhhhh. And Justin was challenging me. He said this play is cliche and it’s tired; why do people have to learn about racism on the backs of black men? And I couldn’t answer him. I don’t know why that would make it palatable. And we had many, many discussions, Justin and I, after that, because I really wanted him on board even if he hated the play. I wanted that voice because I think it’s an important voice to say that, that it’s tired. But I said it’s 48 years after this play was written … so how far have we come? So we just talked and talked and battled back and forth, and he really helped me to articulate my point of view.”

Mr. Southers found it too painful to participate in talk-backs during the run of “The Gammage Project.” A devotee of the late playwright August Wilson, he has since directed “Gem of the Ocean” for the Dayton theater company Human Race, with Jonathan Berry reprising the role of Citizen Barlow from a Playwrights production.

“Jonathan has been commuting back and forth rehearsing, and now he’s here,” Mr. Southers said. “So, now it’s game on.”

Ms. Dixon said she had admired Mr. Berry’s work but hadn’t known him before they began the emotional workout of preparing “Dutchman.” The play takes place in one seedy train car, re-created with authenticity by set designer Jesse Conner, with the audience bearing witness from raised seats along both sides (like medieval times, Bricolage founder and artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter, described it).

Lula attacks Clay on many levels, with apt comparisons to both devil’s serpent and temptress Eve.

How audience members view Lula depends on the individual. “One thing is the metaphor, what they relate the character to, whether your character is the system or this mythical person — what does the character represent?” Mr. Southers said.

Asked about gaining a certain level of trust with her co-star, Ms. Dixon said, “Having to be this intimate with somebody, ‘trust’ is a big word because I’m doing things to somebody I don’t think a person should do. And he is so generous with himself and allows me to go a little crazy, and we’ve build this wonderful connection. I don’t want to see him hurt and there are times in rehearsal I look at him and my heart just breaks. And I have to go wait, I have a job to do. The trust we have built is so important and paramount to this play.”

She praised Mr. Berry’s willingness to work on two plays at once, preparing “Dutchman” while finishing the run of “Gem” in Ohio.

Mr. Southers said the young man was feeling his success and couldn’t wait to keep up the momentum from role to role.

The director is on a roll of his own with barely time to breathe from “The Gammage Project” to “Gem” to “Dutchman.”

“I’m becoming a stronger director by being challenged, just working with [actor] Larry John Myers on ‘The Gammage Project,’ I learned a lot working with him. It was really a great experience, how he approached the craft. And now I’m seeing that with Tami.”

For a guy used to being in charge, one of the challenges has been to “wear one hat,” as director. The play takes place at Bricolage, where Ms. Dixon is producing artistic director.

“It’s not like Playwrights, where I wear multiple hats. But Tami wears multiple hats in this production, so she has to fight off those vibes as well just to keep the actress hat on. But she has a great way to deal with it, so we’re learning from each other.”

With a week to go, and the lobby of Bricolage transforming into a train platform and the train car ready to chug out of the station, all of the pieces for “Dutchman” are falling into place. Experienced Bricolage audience members know that their interaction is often required and in this case, they will be asked to participate by filling out “The Race Card,” six words describing their feelings about race, for a project spearheaded by Michele Norris of National Public Radio.

Time for the conversation to begin.

“Once the train takes off …” Mr. Southers said.

“It doesn’t stop,” Ms. Dixon finished.

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post- gazette.com or 412-252-1960.

Read more: http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12117/1227090-325.stm#ixzz1tiT1kjDv

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Talk of the Nation- Race Cards': Six Words On Trayvon Martin’s Death http://michele-norris.com/news/talk-of-the-nation-race-cards-six-words-on-trayvon-martins-death/ http://michele-norris.com/news/talk-of-the-nation-race-cards-six-words-on-trayvon-martins-death/#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2012 19:15:46 +0000 http://michele-norris.com/?p=1733 Listen to  Race Cards': Six Words On Trayvon Martin’s Death from NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Nearly a month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida, the widespread shock and outrage has grown into a nationwide movement calling for justice. This week, the Justice Department announced it would conduct a federal investigation of the incident.

But the Trayvon Martin story has also turned into a dialogue …

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Listen to  Race Cards': Six Words On Trayvon Martin’s Death from NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Nearly a month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida, the widespread shock and outrage has grown into a nationwide movement calling for justice. This week, the Justice Department announced it would conduct a federal investigation of the incident.

But the Trayvon Martin story has also turned into a dialogue about race in America, a conversation that NPR’s Michele Norris has been engaged in for over a year with her Race Card Project.

Learn more about Michele Norris’s  The Race Card Project

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