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Political Analyst On Florida’s Primary, Race Equity Challenge, Bookstore Owner On Black Literature

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 04: Missouri Democratic congressional candidate Cori Bush casts her ballot on August 4, 2020 at Gambrinus Hall in St Louis, Missouri. Bush, an activist backed by the progressive group Justice Democrats, is looking to defeat 10-term incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) in today's election. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
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Getty Images North America
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 04: Missouri Democratic congressional candidate Cori Bush casts her ballot on August 4, 2020 at Gambrinus Hall in St Louis, Missouri. Bush, an activist backed by the progressive group Justice Democrats, is looking to defeat 10-term incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) in today's election. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

On this Tuesday, August 11, episode of Sundial:

Political Analyst on Florida's Primary Elections

Florida’s primary election is next Tuesday. Due to the pandemic, rallies, door-to-door canvassing, and in-person campaigning strategies have become obsolete. Supervisors of Elections have been preparing for months as a historic number of voters have opted for vote-by-mail ballots.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how many changes were made to the election code in a more positive way after the 2018 elections when we had six recounts,” said Susan MacManus, University of South Florida Distinguished University Professor Emerita and political analyst. “Our vote by mail process is far ahead of most states. Most states are just getting into the complexities of VBM.”

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MacManus argued that the global pandemic has forced all campaigning to go virtual, so the role of social media in political advertising could be even more outsized than what we saw in the 2016 presidential election.

“There are political groups that are trying to spread misinformation through social media. Curiously, it's the younger voters who are more suspicious of social media than older voters even though they use it more frequently.”

We spoke with MacManus about the challenges of a socially-distanced election and what to expect as the primaries come next Tuesday.

21-Day Race Equity Challenge

Social justice movements around the world are forcing politicians, companies, higher education, and individuals to consider their responses to systemic racism in their communities.

The YWCA South Florida chapter was founded 100 years ago with the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. This summer, they set up a 21-day race equity challenge that asked organizations to engage in dialogue and self-reflection.

“In the last few months, we’ve seen that many of the issues that existed really were always there,” said YWCA South Florida’s president and CEO Kerry-Ann Royes. “But between the pandemic and the social justice movements that have been happening, it’s like it turned on a light. It turned on a light that illuminated something that was sitting here. And for the first time in a long time, people of color like myself just didn’t feel alone.”

Royes explained for many organizations, the challenge was about understanding the systemic racism that exists within their institutions and how to address it.

“There are certain employers that did a very common practice, referrals. If you have great employees, you may reward them. But what does a referral do? It perpetuates a network that is available to certain groups of people. You’re deliberately not allowing a pathway for a certain [group] of people to access your institution.”

We spoke with Royes about the YWCA’s challenge, understanding anti-racism and what the organization is doing to get out the vote and promote the U.S. Census during a pandemic.

Pyramid Books Owner on Growing Interest in Black Literature

Recent Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality have pushed the country into conversations about its history over race.

Black-owned bookstores have found themselves responding to a surge in demand from a new audience amid national tragedy.

“As a Black business and a Black bookstore, we’re really not trying to change the world. The only thing we’re trying to do is tell the story of a people who we feel are in desperate need of change,” said Akbar James Watson, the director of Pyramid Books in Palm Beach County.

Pyramid Books is one of the few Black-owned bookstores in South Florida.

We spoke with Watson about this newfound interest in Black literature and what it means for him and his business.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.