There's the pretending we do as individuals, and there's the organized pretending that happens in group therapy sessions, in the roleplaying games that are done in some clinical settings. Jack Hitt tells the story of the Mother of All Roleplaying Games.
Alix Spiegel travels with a group of white suburbanites as they pretend to be runaway slaves, at the Conner Prairie Living History Museum. Her goal: to find out what it is that people actually get out of this elaborate game of pretend.
Host Ira Glass describes what thousands of people do all over America on our holiday weekends: we go to historic sites with our kids and stare at bricks and statues, trying to feel some connection with the past. It's not easy.
Ira reads from an editorial from a 1957 newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. It tries to scare white southerners about the NAACP by describing a Chicago human rights campaign called "Take a Negro Boy Home Tonight." The idea behind the campaign? "Racism can be combated by intimate relationships between Negro boys and white girls." No such campaigns really existed in Chicago.
Rich Robinson's father is black, his mother is white. They married during the civil rights movement, believing the whole nation was moving toward greater and greater integration.
Cedric Jennings grew up in Southeast Washington, in one of the poorest communities in the country. Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind followed him for over two-and-a-half years, as Cedric tried to make it through high school and work his way into an Ivy League university. Once he gets there, he discovers that all the qualities that got him out of the ghetto make him an outcast in the Ivy League.
Robert Krulwich's stories, on NPR, CBS and ABC, are neither wacky nor pompously serious. He explains, though, that if you try to occupy the territory between wacky and serious, there are dangers.
A how-to by Junot Diaz, from his book Drown.
A look at the Chicago political machine in the days before our story begins.
Independent producer Dan Collison, on Pilottown and a feature story that fell apart.
More than England, or Japan or Israel.... When we think of South Africa, it's a more interesting mirror of the United States than nearly any country, because we glimpse a distant echo of the most frightening parts of American society — and the most inspiring.
The first part of Josh Seftel and Rich Robinson's documentary about South Africa. Josh meets people who may be distant South African relatives.
Josh Seftel and Rich Robinson's trek across South Africa continues. They head to the "South African Woodstock" and to a group that's half Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign and half terrorist campaign.
Some stunning parallels between the political strategies of the two leaders, by John Matisonn.
Writer Malcolm Gladwell, reads from a story that he first wrote for the New Yorker magazine about his cousins, who immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica 12 years ago.
A documentary by Cecilia Vaisman and Christina Egloff, with Jay Allison, about a white woman named Carolyn Wren Shannon, who grew up hating blacks in a Catholic neighborhood, and how her attitudes change.
An interracial couple takes a plantation tour.
Host Ira Glass, with a recording of a 1962 Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., appearance at the Villa Venice, a club outside Chicago. What's fascinating about Sinatra is how he is so many different people at once, and they're all on display in this recording: sentimental crooner, cruel woman-baiter, bully, goofball.
The story of the worst stateside disaster during World War II, at Port Chicago, an ammunition dump for the navy just north of San Francisco. Black workers were assigned to load ammo onto ships under such unsafe conditions that on July 17, 1944, two ships blew up, killing 320 men.
Carmen Delzell/Jay Allison's story on a guitar player.
Ira speaks with Professor Glenn Loury. Loury failed to stand up for a light-skinned friend at a black unity rally in the sixties.
Ira talks with Karen Hutt, Director of Religious Education for the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, who one Sunday gave a sermon at the church about her experience as the first black child to integrate the Philadelphia public school system. The sermon inspired a project: Hutt, along with Laura Finnegan, collected an oral history of the experiences of African American members of the congregation about their own experiences as the "first" integrators of their neighborhoods or organizations.