Midday Culture Connections | WYPR

Midday Culture Connections

Photo Courtesy / Dr. Sheri Parks

On, the latest installment of  Midday Culture Connections, Tom and Dr. Sheri Parks explore the phenomenon known as “cancel culture.”   

Shane Gillis almost hit it big.  He was hired to be on SNL, but after videos of the comedian using racial slurs surfaced on the internet, he was fired before he even started.  Many have lobbed criticism at the media, citing an obsession with “call out culture” and political correctness that has gone too far.  And maybe, in a way, Shane Gillis has hit it big anyway.

So, is “cancel culture” the apex of political correctness gone mad, or are we witnessing the long overdue societal shunning of behaviors and ideas that are steeped in generations of racial and gender inequity? 

Dr. Sheri Parks joins Tom in Studio A to talk about backlash abounding to everything from the New York Times to The Joker Movie.    

AP Images / Ben Hider

On this month's edition of Midday Culture Connections, Tom is joined again by Dr. Sheri Parks, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art

As the NFL marks its 100th anniversary, controversy continues to surround the league.

Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, remains unemployed three years after he began his kneeling protest against police brutality and racism in America, and the NFL's new partnership with hip hop mogul Jay-Z has raised eyebrows, rather than hopes, about the league’s commitment to addressing a history of racial discrimination.

Milton Kent, host of WYPR's Sports at Large and a professor of journalism at Morgan State University, joins us for a conversation about how the dynamics of race and power are playing out, off the field. 

Then, Tom and Dr. Parks discuss the New York Times 1619 Project, a multimedia, multi-part reframing of the history of slavery in America. The Project has generated a backlash by some leading conservatives.  Four hundred years after the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, how does the legacy of slavery fit into our historical memory? 

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook Page, and you can watch the video here.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File

It's another edition of Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks, and guest host Rob Sivak.

Today we’re asking the question: what is courage?  From sacred texts to screenplays to the daily news, our culture is filled with references to courage as an element of character that makes a person worthy of respect.  We see courage in the physical bravery of soldiers and first responders. But courage is also the moral strength to do what’s right, when doing so can be hard, or dangerous.

Today, we’ll look for examples of courage in the Central American migrants now suffering at the southern US border…in political leaders who’ve put principle above party…and in victims who’ve found the strength to forgive great wrongs.

And we’ll ask: what does courage mean to you?


It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks of the MD Inst Coll of Art.  Today, we are joined by Donna Brazile, a political strategist, and the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.  She’s the co-author of a book that chronicles the rise of her and three other African American women to the highest levels of the Democratic Party.  It’s called For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.

Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.  She joins us every month for Midday Culture Connections.


A warning to listeners who may be tuning in with young children: we will be talking about mature topics today on this edition of Midday Culture Connections.

On today's Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks: pulling back the curtain on the insidious, hidden world of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. In leafy suburbs, seedy city streets and posh hotels reports of the sexual exploitation of women and children have skyrocketed. Our guests today are: Dr. Sheri Parks, the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art; Jeanne Allert, the founder and executive director of the Samaritan Women Institute for Shelter Care; and Jessica Emerson, founder of the Human Trafficking Prevention Project at the University of Baltimore. 

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring is encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373 - 7888.

This conversation is being live-streamed on the WYPR Facebook Page

AP Images

On today's Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks: a conversation about believability, empathy and victimhood.

Baltimore Police say that the murder of a Harford County Engineer, Jacqueline Smith late last year was not, as her husband claimed, committed by two panhandlers. Instead, the husband and his daughter are charged with the crime. 

The actor Jussie Smollett is facing felony charges for claiming that he was the victim of a violent attack in Chicago. Police there have brought to light evidence that the actor may have staged his own attack.

Initially, we may have empathized with Smith and Smollett. But does our empathy actually get in the way of our making rational, moral decisions. Amid complaints of “fake news” and widespread distrust of police and public institutions, who can we believe?

We begin with a look at the history of African Americans in Horror movies.   On Thursday, Shudder TV will premiere a terrific new documentary called,  Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.  The film offers a fresh, fearless and affectionately humorous ethnographic examination into representations and contributions of African Americans in this popular genre. 

Tananarive Due is  educator, author and exectutive producer of 'Horror Noire'. She joins Tom and Dr. Sheri Parks from NPR's studios in New York. 

Later, a conversation about of God on television and why it is that even as society becomes more secular, the Almighty continues to command heavenly ratings?

Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Inititatives at the Maryland Institutie College of Art, and a reuglar contributor to our show on Midday Culture Connections.  She's the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a legacy form the Sacred Dark Feminie to the Strong Black Woman

Our conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch the live video here

On today's Midday Culture Connections, a conversation about the links between racism and anti-Semitism. Tom is joined by Dr. Sheri Parks, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at MICA, and Dr. Beverly Mitchell, a professor of Historical Theology at the Wesley Theological Seminary. They discuss the connections between slavery and the Holocaust, and how interfaith engagements can help to counter movements that promote white supremacy, nationalism and xenophobia.

Dr. Beverly E. Mitchell  will be speaking as part of the Manekin-Clark Lecture Series of the Institute of Islamic Christian and Jewish Studies next Wednesday. 

Later in the hour, Tom and Dr. Parks discuss the state of arts criticism here in Baltimore, following the departure of two of the Baltimore Sun’s cultural critics, Tim Smith and Wesley Case, who left the paper before Thanksgiving.    

We live streamed this conversation, and you can watch the video on WYPR's Facebook page.

On today’s Midday Culture Connection with Dr. Sheri Parks: a conversation about sexual assault in education.   When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, not only was it another pivot point in the #MeToo Movement, it also afforded a window into a culture of drinking and bad conduct among privileged young people in the 1980s.   Was that culture of privilege and excess substantially different from the 1970s or 1960s?  Did the culture change in the next millennium at elite private high schools and the nation’s most exclusive colleges and universities? 

On this installment of Midday Culture Connections: we  look at one of the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade that might not immediately come to mind:  modern business management.  A new book looks at how the pecuniary practices of slave owners have endured and how those practices continue to inform capitalism.    

Caitlin C. Rosenthal, an Assistant Professor of History at UC Berkeley in California, details the correlation between modern finance and chattel slavery in her new book Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management.  She joins us on the line from her office in Berkeley. 

Plus, a conversation about the cities and industries profiting from the increase in what’s become the big business of detaining immigrants and asylum seekers.  

 Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman, and she joins us on the first Tuesday of the month for Midday Culture Connections.   She is also the host of Beyond the Ballot here on WYPR, which airs twice a month on Thursday afternoons during All Things Considered.

Photo Courtesy Flickr


On today’s, edition of Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parkswe examine some of the stories making headlines across the country.

We begin to with a look at the cognitive effects of violent video games and the Military’s stake in the multi-billion dollar industry of gaming.  Following the deadly May 18th shooting at Santa Fe High School, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick cited violent video games as a contributing factor to the national epidemic of deadly violence and apathy in our culture, reigniting the debate on the psychological effects of violent video games on our children, specifically young boys. 

Serena Williams returned to the French Open last week after 14 months of maternity leave. In keeping with WTA policy, the former world number one entered into the grand slam tournament unseeded.  Serena’s experience has many questioning not only the WTA’s policies towards new mothers; but also, the broader politics of women and pregnancy in the workplace.

Finally, the Trumpian era has been marked by political tension, social tumult and temerarious tweets.   It is an era of fraught with class and racial division, violent identity politics and targeted attacks on the media.  These deep societal fissures came to a head this week, as comediennes Samantha Bee and Roseanne Barr became the mascots for America’s new ‘culture wars’ . 

Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a regular contributor to our show on Midday Culture Connections.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.

Photo Courtesy AP News

It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr Sheri Parks.  Today, we examine the mini-firestorms that have erupted over the past week surrounding journalist, a comedian and a rapper. 

Kanye West set the Twittersphere alight with a series of pro-Trump tweets that led more than a few people to question the rapper’s mental health, and even challenge his “Blackness.”


A warning to listeners who may be tuning in with young children: we will be talking about mature topics today on this edition of Midday Culture Connections.

The sexual assault allegations against powerful men in Hollywood and pretty much every other industry has shined a light on the pervasiveness of predatory sexual behavior. Today, we’ll examine the ways hypersexualized images of women on television, on the internet and in print distort the ways our culture views and treats women. Scholars have called it “pornification.”  

 Pornography dominates the internet. More people view internet porn every month than click on Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. So how does pornography affect mainstream popular culture? And how do the images of women we encounter every day affect the ways women view themselves and the ways men view and interact with women?

Royal wedding fever has spread across the pond and here in the United States. Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, will wed American actress Meghan Markle. Along with wedding plans and elaborate fascinators, much of the conversation about this royal engagement has centered on race. Ms. Markle is biracial, her mother is black and her father is white. Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland, College Park joins Tom for Midday Culture Connections to talk about royalty, race, and identity. 

Kelsey Parks Smith also joins from England. She’s a postgraduate student in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. She's also Dr. Park's daughter. 

Centers for Disease Control

To date, more than 60 women have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The accusations range from indecent exposure to rape. A new piece in the New Yorker written by Ronan Farrow alleges that Weinstein hired private investigators to collect information on his accusers and the journalists who tried to expose him in an effort to suppress stories about his predatory behavior.  

In the days after the New York Times published the initial story on Weinstein detailing a few of the allegations, more people came forward with sexual assault allegations against other powerful men in Hollywood including producer James Toback and actor Kevin Spacey. At least 60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault; a majority of those accusations came to light in 2014 and 2015. The trial in one of those cases ended in a mistrial earlier this year. 

REUTERS/Chris Wattie


We begin with an update on the Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 people injured. Almost immediately after the tragic shooting --which is being characterized as the largest mass shooting in recent U.S history-- Democrats and Republicans began the predictable debate about gun regulation in our country. Unfortunately it’s story we know all too well. Last year, following what is now the second largest mass shooting in recent history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Democrats proposed extended background checks in private gun sales, and banning sales to suspected terrorists. Republicans proposed increased funding for a national background check database; and a judicial review process for people on a terror watch list when they attempted to purchase firearms. None of those bills passed. In 2012, after 20 children and six educators were fatally shot at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown Connecticut, President Obama made an emotional appeal to Congress for tougher gun laws. Obama signed several executive orders relating to gun control, but neither of the two major pieces of gun legislation proposed at the time passed in the Senate.