Politics and History

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

Claudia Rankine

In her book "Citizen: An American Lyric," poet Claudia Rankine challenges readers to explore their underlying assumptions about race. She tells Charles Monroe-Kane what compelled her to write the book, and about visiting Ferguson, Missouri.More

Conversation with Samantha, the artificial intelligence

To a certain extent, loneliness is part of the human condition. You can be lonely anywhere, even surrounded by friends. But modern life has exacerbated it, and that requires modern solutions. Indie game designer Jason Rohrer has one — an artificial friend named Samantha.More

A man with totalitarian ideas and conspiracy swirling around him.

Examining both historical and present-day moments of widespread loneliness, philosopher Samantha Rose Hill argues we must understand our feelings of loneliness — otherwise they could be exploited to control us.More

Flint corn

Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer says there is a reason so many around the world consider corn to be sacred. We give it life, and in return, it gives us life. She says the industrial-scale farming of America has lost control of that balance.More

Africa made of books

Kenyan literary scholar Simon Gikandi says you can’t understand the rise of European culture — or for that matter, the formation of the modern world — without also knowing how European thinkers demonized Africans and the very idea of "blackness."More

jefferson

For years it was rumored that Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. Then legal historian Annette Gordon-Reed proved it. She tells the complicated story of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship.More

Cecil Rhodes cartoons and statues.

Questions about identity, history, language, what should or should not be taught in school — these are all debates about confronting our past. Political theorist Adom Getachew says many of these issues were debated in Africa more than 60 years ago.More

trumpet

Political repression and censorship forced a generation of Black jazz musicians out of South Africa and into clubs in Europe and the US. But jazz critic Gwen Ansell says some musicians remained, and they left a legacy of unforgettable music.More

Person at the Institute for American Indian Arts.

A wide range of writers — now celebrated with commercial and critical success — work to celebrate an evolving literary canon without limiting it. More

A powwow in 2015 at the Institute for American Indian Arts.

Tommy Orange's debut novel “There There” was one of the big breakout books of 2018. He told Steve that with his novel, he hoped to better represent modern Native Americans that have grown up living in cities.More

Mahjong tiles

Board games are a tradition for a lot of us. But have you ever thought about where those traditions come from? Producer Angelo Bautista investigates the history of mahjong.More

The Maasai have lived alongside the Serengeti wildlife for generations.

Science journalist Sonia Shah, herself the child of Indian immigrants, has long been fascinated with the way animals, people and even microbes move. Speaking with "To The Best Of Our Knowledge," she says migration is both a crisis and an opportunity.More

A wall with the asexual flag colors

One of the first assumptions we make about a relationship is that it begins with sexual attraction. But what about desire without sex? Angela Chen explores the contradictions — and the possibilities — of asexuality in her new book.More

Anne Strainchamps and Lisa Diamond

Psychologist Lisa Diamond offers a radical new understanding of sexual orientation, arguing that it’s much more fluid than previously believed.More

Pages