Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday earlier this week, a big news event here in the United States given that he is one of the few African leaders we here are familiar with. It is hard to argue that the period of apartheid in South Africa, and the U.S. coverage of the heroes who ended it put Africa on the front pages in a way we haven’t seen in the decades since. Yes, we see poor, starving African children on UNICEF ads, hear about money sent to combat AIDS, and we hear about monsters like Charles Taylor. But to say that we’re missing the forest for the trees when it comes to the African diaspora is an understatement. And that applies to those of us of African descent perhaps most specifically.
Today, Melissa will start the conversation (or, at least, amplify the one that’s already happening) about the diaspora which will, hopefully, serve as a corrective. She’ll have an assist from South Sudanese supermodel and activist Alek Wek, whose work in her (new) home country is geared currently towards generating support for agriculture, health, and education projects.
We’ll also, as the Olympics approach, tackle issues surrounding the politics in our sports with John Carlos, who along with U.S. teammate Tommie Smith, created one of the most iconic images of the civil rights era by raising his black-gloved fist in the air on the medal stand during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. We’ll also bring you the very latest on today’s breaking news from the child sex abuse scandal that has sullied the reputation of Penn State as a football program and university.
Lastly, we’ll take you into the fire with some African American chefs, and talk about the diversity of the folks preparing not just traditional African American cuisine, but all flavors hitting your palette. Our guests will include:
- Jonathan Alter, Bloomberg View columnist, and author of “The Promise.”
- Chef Tiffany Derry, executive chef of Private Social in Dallas, TX.
- Donna DeVarona, Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and journalist who has covered 17 Olympics.
- Charlotte Druckman, contributor to the Off Duty section of the Wall Street Journal Weekend, and author of the forthcoming “Skirt Steak.”
- Jemele Hill, ESPN.com columnist.
- Chef Syrena Johnson, recipient of the 2011-2012 Chefs Move! scholarship.
- Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former member of the House Subcommittee on Africa.
- Mark Quarterman, research director, Enough Project.
- Michael Ralph, assistant professor, Social & Cultural Analysis, New York University.
- Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine.
We hope that you interact with us during the show here in the comments of this post, on Facebook, and on Twitter, using the hashtag #nerdland – and encourage others to do the same. We look forward to having you join us at 10am ET on msnbc!