Rachel Martin | WYPR

Rachel Martin

The writer Ibram X. Kendi has made a name for himself by tackling one of the most important — and one of the most sensitive — topics in America today.

His 2017 book, Stamped From the Beginning, is a history of racist ideas in America, and his new book is called How to Be an Antiracist. It starts with a moment in Kendi's own life: He was a high school senior taking part in an oratorical contest honoring Martin Luther King Jr., delivering a speech that ultimately won him first place.

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Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Syrian filmmaker and journalist Waad al-Kateab says she will always remember a mother shouting at her: "Film me! Film me! Let the world see what's happening!" At the woman's side was a dead infant — not older than a year, Kateab recalls. She was "trying to tell him that she brought him milk during the siege," Kateab tells NPR.

Jesse Eisenberg built his career playing quick-witted intellectuals — but he gets more physical in his new movie, The Art of Self-Defense. The film, written and directed by Riley Stearns, stars Eisenberg as Casey Davies, a socially stunted man who seeks out a martial arts class-turned-cult after getting mugged.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg got a really big boost to his campaign recently, announcing a staggering $24.8 million fundraising haul over the past three months.

But that hasn't changed one of the toughest realities his candidacy faces: support among black voters that barely registers in the polls.

Mo Willems feels like he's going back to second grade. The acclaimed children's author is the first ever Education Artist-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and even with all his awards and bestsellers, he says it's pretty scary.

"I get to be really, really terrified in all kinds of new different ways," Willems says — but that doesn't mean he's not having fun. "There are all these sandboxes that I don't usually get to play in."

We know how the story ends: Roger Ailes, a titan of American media — the mastermind who built Fox News — was forced to step down in 2016, in the wake of sexual harassment accusations. He died a year later at age 77.

What is the president actually allowed to do under the U.S. Constitution?

It's a question that's comes up from time to time at NPR, and when it does, we've turned to experts such as Kim Wehle, now a law professor and CBS News legal commentator. Now, she's written a book about it. It's called How to Read the Constitution — and Why.

As a third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Amber Scorah believed she had the answer to life's biggest questions. The answer was Armageddon, and it predetermined everything.

"If the world is ending, why would you go to college?" Scorah says in an interview. "Why would you get a career?"

So, she didn't. Instead, like every other member of the church, she dedicated her life to spreading the word.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has not been shy about framing his candidacy to become the 2020 Democratic nominee for president around global climate change.

In his policy proposal he says that defeating climate change is the "defining challenge of our time," and that it is incumbent upon the next president of the United States to make that challenge a priority.

Amy Poehler's newest film is based on an actual girls' trip with her friends to California wine country. Except her friends — both in the movie and in real life — are fellow Saturday Night Live alumni such as Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey.

"I'm lucky to have some of the funniest people in the world be my actual friends," Poehler says in an interview. "And so I tried to quickly exploit that as fast as I could."

National attention is turning to issues that have been central to Kirsten Gillibrand's years of public service: equality and reproductive rights.

Ani DiFranco grew up in a house with no walls. "It was like a brick carriage house there. Inside there was just one room on the first floor and one room on the second floor. So it was an intimate house for a non-intimate family."

DiFranco's deep craving for intimacy led her to writing music. And the things DiFranco wanted to write were exactly what a generation of women coming of age in the '90s wanted to hear. DiFranco relives those early years in her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream.

Workers with a steady paycheck already know that wages have been stubbornly slow to rise. Meanwhile, those who get health insurance through a job have seen their deductibles shoot up. In fact, says Noam Levey, a health care reporter for the Los Angeles Times, deductibles have, on average, quadrupled over the last dozen years. As a result, even some people who have health insurance are having trouble affording medical care.

Rock fans fell in love with The Cranberries in the early '90s, thanks, in large part, to the haunting, Celtic-inspired voice of the Irish rock band's lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan. The Cranberries, made up of O'Riordan on lead vocal, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler on drums, created an intoxicating juxtaposition of grunge and alternative pop, with O'Riordan's lilting lyrics searing through right in.

In her latest film, Elisabeth Moss felt that the only mistake she could make "was not going far enough."

Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry, Her Smell imagines the chaotic personal life of a musician addicted to drugs. Becky Something is the head of a fictitious all-female rock group from the '90s.

"Becky Something is enigmatic, funny and entertaining," Moss explains. But she's also toxic. "[She] will envelop you in her vortex, and then, when she's done with you, spit you out or destroy you."


Megan Stack, a former foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, gave up a life of covering war and natural disasters when she had her first child in Beijing.

She quickly hired a nanny and soon realized how dependent she was on this woman — something she writes about in her book Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home.

Stack spoke with NPR about the book — and the difficult decision to write about her own family.

If you ask Aisha Dee to describe her show The Bold Type, she says it's like drinking a glass of rosé while reading a Cosmo. It's "real world" but it's also "wish fulfillment," she says.

Dee, Katie Stevens and Meghann Fahy star as Kat, Jane and Sutton — three best friends living in New York and working together at Scarlet magazine, a fictional outlet inspired by Cosmopolitan. The Freeform comedy series begins its third season Tuesday night.

When an artist finds their song climbing up the Billboard charts for the first time, it's usually a cause for celebration. But in the case of 19-year-old rapper Lil Nas X and his viral hit, "Old Town Road (I Got Horses in the Back)," it's also been a cause of controversy.

From 1991 to 1994, Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world with a look and sound that would come to define the decade's music. At the height of this fame, though, bandleader Kurt Cobain sometimes seemed to be an unwilling participant who had just been swept up and carried away by Nirvana's success. Then, after less than four years of meteoric fame, Cobain died of suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.

In 12 days, there will be a parade to celebrate a road unifying two regions of a country torn apart by a decades-long civil war. That is, if two contractors are able to construct the road in time.

That's the premise of Dave Eggers' new novel The Parade, a slim meditation on the difficulties of global development and aid work. The story follows two men — we know them only as Four and Nine — who work for a faceless corporation, tasked with paving this highway while making as few waves as possible.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET Friday

Weeks after Jussie Smollett reported being assaulted in a potential hate crime, the Empire actor has been released on bail after police questioned him for allegedly orchestrating the attack. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett faked the incident, paying two brothers about $3,500 to join a "publicity stunt" staged by Smollett because he "was dissatisfied with his salary."

Jada Pinkett-Smith has been on a lot of screens.

She's been a steady presence on television since the early '90s: Think A Different World or Gotham. Her movie roles have varied widely: Set It Off, or the Matrix sequels, or Girls Trip. She has produced a new film, Hala, set to premiere this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival.

She's also on the screen of your laptop or smartphone.

For 24 years, literary scholar Robert Alter has been working on a new translation of the Hebrew Bible and — "this may shock some of your listeners," he warns — he's been working on it by hand.

"I'm very particular — I write on narrow-lined paper and I have a Cross mechanical pencil," he says.

The result is a three-volume set — a translation with commentary — that runs over 3,000 pages.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is having a moment. For the past couple of years, she's transcended her role on the Court, becoming a liberal pop culture icon.

CNN made a much-hailed documentary about her life, titled RBG. There have been several biographies. She wrote her own memoir in 2016. There's even a coloring book.

Julia Roberts stars in Ben Is Back, a new film about a mother and son.

The latter is facing his addiction to opioids. Ben (Lucas Hedges) has been in treatment and shows up unexpectedly at his family's home on Christmas Eve.

Roberts says the film, directed by Lucas' father Peter Hedges, shows a complicated picture of addiction.

It was the kind of love triangle that would test the imagination of even the most creative novelists.

In 2015, Richard Matt and David Sweat, two prison inmates, turned a sexual relationship with a female employee at the prison into their ticket to freedom. And for weeks, news coverage followed every twist and turn of their remarkable escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y.

Jonah Hill grew up in the age of irony: the 1990s.

What was cool was to not care — about anything really. If you did, you were mocked endlessly. Caring didn't just mean you weren't cool — it meant you weren't masculine.

But when it comes to his newest project Mid90s — the first film that he has directed — Hill cares deeply. He wanted to tell a story that mattered to him personally.

Mid90s isn't a story about his life per se. It's about the universal longing of a teenage kid who just wants to fit in.

Elliot Ackerman served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's now a journalist and author, sometimes drawing on his own experiences as a U.S. Marine to inspire his fiction.

His new novel, Waiting for Eden, explores the point where life is no longer worth living. Its main character, Eden, is a soldier who has been hospitalized, severely burned and unconscious, for three years. For the first time in those three years, his wife, Mary, leaves his side to spend Christmas with their young daughter, and that departure causes Eden to suffer a stroke.

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