Diversity

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Houses on the near east side of Des Moines, within sight of the Capitol dome, are among the city’s oldest. They are also among the most in disrepair. Some changes are afoot to freshen the look of three low-income neighborhoods.

Stacie Phillips works amidst a whir of construction activity in the shell of a house built in 1907 from a kit popular at the time.

“It’s a wonderful old house with the original trim, the conference ceilings," she says. "It has the original, beautiful swing-out casement windows we have rehabbed. Just a beautiful plan.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

Officials with NAACP of Iowa are planning to try again next year to win protections for African-Americans who face barriers to employment after serving time in prison.    

The initiative known as Ban the Box would eliminate a common question on job applications about an applicant’s criminal history, while preserving the employer’s right to get that information later in the hiring process.  

Backers say ex-convicts who have paid their debt to society are too often turned away in the first round of screening regardless of their fitness for the job.  

Courtesy of Tracy Peterson

Johnson County has declared that from now on, Columbus Day will be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Iowa City has also made the proclamation - joining dozens of cities across the U.S. in doing so.

In this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Stanton talks with Tracy Peterson, an Iowa City resident who has been pushing for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day since the 1990s.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Roughly 2800 immigrants living in Iowa who were brought to the U.S. as children are now participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.  

Under the program, they are freed from the threat of deportation, and granted work permits and other privileges.     

Now DACA is threatened by an order from President Trump. 

Two Iowa sisters wonder how their lives might be changed.

Five years ago, Monica Reyes, 22, and her sister Nilvea, 21,  were living with their mother in New Hampton.

Todd Bailey / Grand View University

Iowa business leaders and educators are expressing disappointment in the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA. They see it as a blow to economic growth.

Resisting Hate

Aug 24, 2017

The racial violence that occurred in Charlottesville last week has ignited an intense, nationwide discourse about race in America. Many people are unsure how to broach the subject of race, as well as the differences between free speech and hate speech.

City Year / Flickr

It was ten days ago that violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white nationalists protesting against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee clashed with anti-racism demonstrators.

One woman was killed when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd.

Iowa Office of Latino Affairs

The inaugural class of inductees into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is being introduced. The first three members are long-time activists within the state.

The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame was established earlier this year to honor Latinos who have made significant cultural, social, political and economic contributions to the state.

Sonia Reyes-Snyder is executive officer of the Office of Latino Affairs.

“It is very important for us to acknowledge the contributions Latinos have made to the state and to the Latino community,” she says.

Drake University

Thirteen immigrant high school students in Des Moines are telling their stories for all to hear. They are part of a project at Drake University to share their personal experiences via podcast. 

Lincoln High senior Heman Gurang is polishing a script to introduce his grandfather.

“He’s from Bhutan, like my family, who was forced to leave Bhutan, then he moved to Nepal. After many years in Nepal, he came to Michigan in the United States,” Gurang reads.

http://drakecommunitypress.org/

How many churches are there in Des Moines? How many mosques, temples, or places of worship are there? More than you might think. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Knepper, editor of the new book A Spectrum of Faith that was put together by more than one-hundred students at Drake University and highlights the religious diversity of Iowa.

Harvard Square Press

This hour, we hear about the life of Michael Majok Kuch, a featured "Lost Boy of Sudan" from the PBS documentary "Dinka Diaries," as described in the poet Harriet Levin Millan's first novel "How Fast Can You Run." (Harvard Square Press). 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

On almost every college campus, there are dining halls and cafeterias filled to the brim with food. Students have their pick of practically anything they want. And yet, a surprisingly high percentage of these young people are hungry.

Grand View University senior Shannon Kaster is not your typical undergraduate college student. To begin, the Boone-native is 33-years-old.

“I’m married, I have a four-year-old son at home and I’m pregnant with another one due in July,” she says.

But she is experiencing something that is becoming all too common on campuses nationwide.

Drake Community Press

At a time when religious intolerance has sparked violence at mosques, synagogues, temples and churches nationwide, a project in Des Moines is embracing the diversity of faiths within Central Iowa. A photo-rich book is being released this week that illustrates various worship services in the area.

Freelance photographer Bob Blanchard had lived in Des Moines just two weeks when he read an op-ed column by a Drake University philosophy professor named Tim Knepper.

Courtesy of Asher Brown

 Iowa based singer-songwriter Asher Brown describes himself as a self-made man. His new album "Pitchforks" is an autobiographical album about the realization that he is transgender and his transition to life as a man. During this Talk of Iowa interview, he talks with host Charity Nebbe. 

Brown says one of his biggest concerns about transitioning was about his singing voice. 

John Pemble/IPR

Racial profiling by Iowa law enforcement officers was the subject of a hearing at the statehouse this week though time ran out for a bill to address the issue. 

Instead, senators will request an interim committee to study how to outlaw taking someone’s race into account when a traffic stop is made.  

Banning racial profiling is a top priority of the NAACP.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A bill advanced at the statehouse Thursday to outlaw the so-called sanctuary policies Iowa communities may adopt that could protect undocumented immigrants.   

Advocates for immigrants crowded into a committee room to oppose the bill.

The bill makes it illegal to adopt a policy that discourages enforcement of federal immigration laws.  

Under a Des Moines Public School resolution, immigration officials would not have access to students except through the superintendent.  

The History Press

The history of Buxton, Iowa, is unique for its times.  Racial integration and harmony existed there at a time when racial tolerance was the exception and not the rule.  Buxton coal mine number 18 lasted only 20 years, 1900-1920, but its impact on Iowa and American remains through books, essays and historical accounts.  This hour, Ottumwa author Rachelle Chase tells us how she has contributed to the history of this fascinating former southern Iowa town, with her new book, "Lost Buxton" (The History Press, Images of America series).

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don’t reflect the nation’s demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system’s greatest challenges.

 

U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

A group in Des Moines is staging what it calls a People’s State of the Union event Monday night at a local jazz club. The evening will consist of stories told by representatives from various minority groups.

The storytelling circle will be made up of someone who uses a wheelchair, a Latina, a Native American, an African-American, a Muslim high school student and a refugee from the Middle East. One of the organizers is Carmen Lampe Zeitler.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Until recently, sheriff’s departments in 26 Iowa counties pursued policies described as “sanctuary” protections for undocumented immigrants. That number appears to be going down.

At the start of a public forum in the gymnasium of Hampton-Dumont High School, some ground rules are laid out by the event's organizer, Sister Carmen Hernandez.

“I would ask that any comments, or political comments and opinions might be saved for another time," she tells the crowd. "That probably won’t happen, but just so we know.”

FLICKR / KATY WARNER

A case pending before the Iowa Supreme Court could result in the deportation of many immigrants who currently have legal status. It considers whether Muscatine County is interfering with federal immigration policy by prosecuting a woman for identity fraud and forgery.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

In the days immediately following the election of Donald Trump in November, Muslims in Cedar Rapids said they needed to do something to spread the word about their faith. Since the president assumed office, they say this need has become imperative. 

Around 20 people gathered in a lecture hall on the campus of Coe College in Cedar Rapids last Saturday afternoon to learn a little something about the Prophet Muhammad.

Wikimedia Commons

President Trump’s executive order to bar citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States is having a direct impact on families in Cedar Rapids. The Imam at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids says many people fear they may never see relatives again.

Imam Hassan Selim says the president’s recent order restricting travel between the U.S. and seven predominantly Muslim countries is creating fear and uncertainty among members of his Mosque.

refugees
Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons

Around 1,000 refugees resettled in Iowa in 2016. Most of them arrive in the state with nothing to their name and have three months of support to learn a new language, get a job and find a place to live. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with representatives from organizations that help refugees get settled and work with them after other services to help them expire. 

Global Greens, a project of Lutheran Services in Iowa, is helping refugees find land to farm, and is helping people to learn the business of farming. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Cropland in the Midwest is losing its value as the downturn in the agriculture economy continues, according to a number of surveys by agricultural economists. Record-high crop prices contributed to record-high land values in 2012 and 2013, but now, that party is over.

 

"Now what we have is [an] overproduction, oversupply issue," says Wendong Zhang, an Iowa State University economist.

 

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

As another harvest season wraps up, Midwest farmers are once again facing low commodity prices amid enormous supplies. And when they recover from the long days bringing in the grain, they will eventually sit down with their books and try to figure out how best to farm again next year.

Brandon Pollock/Waterloo Courier

Sometimes the transition from being a solider to being a civilian is more difficult than any battlefield assignment.  Readjustment sometimes means trouble finding a job and in some cases no permanent place to live.

There will soon be more options in northeast Iowa for veterans who have completed their service and need a safe place to live while they contemplate what’s next.

From the time he was discharged from the US Army back in 1990, life has been struggle for 46 year old Jeff Skinner.

el7bara/Flickr

The Imam at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids says Muslims in his community are reacting with a mix of fear and sadness to the election of Donald Trump as president.

Hassan Salim says he hopes President-elect Donald Trump will watch his language when talking about Islam.

“There are millions of American Muslims who are truly hurt every time he does not distinguish between what Islam is, what American Muslims are, and radical Islam. These are two separate things and he needs to make it very clear.”

Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio

Members of Iowa’s Latino community are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward newly elected President Donald Trump. They admit to fear and anxiety over comments he’s made about immigration, but they also express hope he’ll eventually see the light.

John Pemble / IPR

In the 1920s, bar associations refused African American lawyers membership, so a dozen lawmakers formed their own in Des Moines. The founding of the National Bar Association in 1925 will be honored with a 30-foot statue this spring called “A Monumental Journey.”  It will be installed this spring in a downtown Des Moines park.

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