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#NPRreads: White Privilege, FBI Director's Remarks On Policing, And Oyster Farming

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the#NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you four items.

FromWeekend Editionhost Rachel Martin:

A provocative headline really can make you click. And it did. I saw the writer and former MSNBC host Touré tweet out a link to a piece he had written titled, "White People Talk About Their White Privilege" and yeah, I wanted to read that. The piece is a distillation of what happened when he tweeted out the following: "If you're a white person who's aware of how white privilege has helped you, can you tweet me about that?" He got a range of responses as you might expect — everything from the insightful to the inflammatory.

He moved the conversation off Twitter and into his real life by calling up white friends and asking them the same question. Here's one response I found particularly interesting:

"One of my oldest friends, Eddie, whom I've known since first grade, spoke of the impact on his self-esteem — a lifetime of watching movies and TV shows in which the hero was white had conditioned him to see himself at the center of the world, to feel efficacious and empowered. 'When you go to a movie and there's a beautiful woman and the person who wins her looks like you—that's big,' he wrote. 'You feel like you fit within the dominant paradigm of what's desirable and normal. These films are made about your experience. You're the white guy. They're made from your perspective. That's big. That makes you feel central.' "

It inevitably provoked me to look into my own life experience and ask the question of myself. There is value in getting outside yourself in that way — imagining how our race (and our gender for that matter) shape how others see us in a particular moment and how we see ourselves reflected back in the society we live in.

FromAll Things ConsideredExecutive Producer Carline Watson:

At the beginning of this week, many of us were talking about a speech FBI Director James Comey made last week at the University of Chicago Law School. Comey seemed to suggest that law enforcement officers were less inclined to engage with suspected wrongdoers because of the possibility their actions might be recorded and posted on the Internet. Then I came across this excerpt from Comey's speech in The Wall Street Journal, and I realized he was saying something much larger. There has been an increase in homicides in many American cities, and the victims of most of these homicides are young black and brown men. There are many, many social and economic factors that inform this uptick in homicides, and as Comey said:

"That's yet another problem that white America can drive around, but if we really believe that all lives matter, as we must, all of us have to understand what is happening. Communities of color need to demand answers. Police and civilian leaders need to demand answers. Academic researchers need to hit this hard."

From National Desk correspondent Debbie Elliott:

There's nothing better than a plump, briny Gulf oyster this time of year. For me, it's a fall ritual to mark the end of the summer swelter. So Jennifer Stewart Kornegay's story got my mouth watering for a Murder Point oyster:

"It is pretty. No mud or gunk, no barnacles marring the shell that's almost as deep as it is wide. He slides the well-worn blade of an oyster knife into the hinge at the back and effortlessly (or so it seems) pops it open to reveal a plump mouthful of taupe-colored meat that jiggles like Jell-O when he sets it on the vinyl seat beside me."

This oyster got its start in a lab and never saw the ocean floor, where wild oysters spend their lives. It comes from a new breed of oystermen and women who are trying off-bottom farming as a way to revive their industry.

I've been covering the struggles of oyster harvesters in the Gulf of Mexico for decades now. And they've had a particularly rough run recently because of both natural and man-made disasters. Hurricane Katrina was a severe blow 10 years ago. And since the BP oil spill in 2010, one of the most productive public oyster reefs in the country — off the Louisiana coast — is not producing as it should. And the popular Apalachicola, Fla., oyster is a victim of ongoing water wars between Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Kornegay highlights how these farmers, teamed with a passionate scientist from Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab, are pioneering a new future for the Gulf oyster.

She quotes the scientist, Bill Walton, who talks of building an industry:

" 'Doing something you love, that is yours and you can be proud of and making a good enough living, that's a kind of wealth, I think.' "

And some of the South's top restaurants are taking note. (I recently sampled a delicious plate of Murder Point oysters at Fisher's in Orange Beach, Ala.) Oh, and of course, there's a great tale behind the name "Murder Point."

It's not only Bitter Southerner that's taking note of Gulf oyster farmers. Filmmaker Joe York of the Southern Foodways Alliance documents "The Gospel of the Alabama Oyster."

From NPR Music reporter and producer Anastasia Tsioulcas:

Sometimes, when I'm scanning Twitter and Instagram and my email and all the other arteries of modern life, I get the exact same headache that I get when I eat one too many marshmallows. I can feel the sugar high. I'm stuffed. I'm jittery. And yet — there's no there there.

After reading her essay "The Lost Art of Listening" in the Australian magazine The Monthly, I suspect that pianist and writer Anna Goldsworthy just might be familiar with that marshmallow feeling.

Goldsworthy talks about many things in this sprawling piece, from the age of her audiences to the frankly weird, vesselistic quality of performing Western classical music, which makes it different from every other musical form I know. (On playing Chopin's "Funeral March": "I am only its carrier organism, its vector; in a hundred years, there will surely be another pianist on this stool, contemplating mortality in the key of B flat minor, before another audience, shedding tears for lives that have not yet begun.")

But where Goldsworthy's words really burn with clarity for me is where she addresses the divide between modern life and what she believes that classical music — and most particularly her most beloved form, intimate chamber music — demand most from both listeners and performers: time, human-to-human connections and the sacred space createdby intentional listening. And Goldsworthy contrasts all of this convincingly against what she perceives as the constant feeding trough of consumption and consumerism: "We busy ourselves with our home renovations and hero ingredients ... we live in an age of the continuous now, with all the disposability this implies."

I suspect that Goldsworthy would find kinship with somebody from the other side of the musical spectrum: Carrie Brownstein, the Sleater-Kinney musician, actress and writer (and former NPR Music blogger) who did an interview with The Guardian that was published last weekend. Brownstein says:

"I feel like it's got to the point where I'm processing information about Syrian refugees or the latest cat video exactly the same way, because I'm mediating it through the same screen. Everything begins to share the same value. Everything's a stage."

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NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
Carline Watson is the Talent Development Manager for NPR News and Programming. In this role, she is the primary day-to-day point person for temporary staff in the News and Programming division at NPR.
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.