Philanthropy, Jobs for African Youth, Racial Passing

Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 261

  • Mar 25, 2016 9:00 pm
  • 1:43:21 mins

Philanthropy (1:03) Guest: Bill Somerville, TEDxBYU Speaker, Founder of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation  There’s a philanthropist from Silicon Valley who’s all about giving away money with as few questions as possible. One of his programs is known affectionately among Bay Area public school teachers as the “fax grant program.” Need money for teaching aids? Want to take your students on a field trip? Just fax a one-page letter with your request and your principal’s signature and get 500-bucks immediately.  What philanthropic foundation in its right mind would have such a loose arrangement for giving away cash? What about the lengthy grant applications and vetting and after-the-fact reports of measurable results most foundations require?  Bill Somerville’s Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has given out more than $119 million in the last 24 years, often in small increments of $200 or $500. The basic philosophy is to “trust people and keep it simple.”  Jobs for African Youth (26:09) Guest: Misan Rewane, Co-founder of West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE)  Let’s go to Africa, where a gigantic wave of young people is cresting. The International Monetary Fund says countries like Nigeria need to create jobs faster than ever before in order to absorb this labor force. Currently half of Nigerians under the age of 34 are unemployed. We’re talking about millions upon millions of people dragging down the economy instead of contributing. Clearly it’s not just because half of all young Nigerians are too lazy to work. Something else is keeping them from the labor force.  And that is where social entrepreneur Misan Rewane comes in.  Racial Passing (52:22) Guest: Allyson Hobbs, PhD,  Assistant Professor of American History at Stanford University, Author of “A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.”  A 1949 film called “Lost Boundaries” tells the mostly-true story of Albert and Thyra Johnston – a respected doctor and his blue-eyed high-society wife - who passed for “white” in a New Hampshire town, raised their children to believe they were white and then were outed as having African American heritage. The film ends with a minister preaching a sermon about tolerance. The subtext is that this is a town of magnanimous white Christians willing to forgive the Johnstons for deceiving them.  But were the Johnstons really in need of forgiveness? Or did the greater sin lie with the community’s racist conditions that prompted the Johnstons to claim whiteness in the first place?  Stanford history professor Allyson Hobbs explores the long history of racial passing in America in her acclaimed 2014 book, “A Chosen Exile.” It is fundamentally, she says, a book about loss. Those who “passed” as white had a world of privileges opened up to them from the time of slavery through the era of Jim Crow laws. But they lost family and ties to a community. Many even lost themselves.

Episode Segments