Episode 8 :: “America Under Seige:The Players and the Game”
There are numerous disturbing parallels between “The Handmaid’s Tale” and current politics in the US — especially those of the Republican Party, the political players inside of it. There is a huge uprising of fascism and authoritarianism in America, fueling and fueled through a national platform manipulated by corrupt politics and criminal underpinnings that have taken hold in this country. For votes and for greed, well-positioned actors act to rob opposing forces of their vote, ban, and burn books, eliminate, and distort American (Black) history, and destroy culture and politics which do not fit its fantasies of making great, a white America ever. The GOP has completely discounted the rights of adult females, the working poor, Black, brown, and Indigenous people and has moved to discount their places as American citizens. Women now, must give birth or die trying. Insurrectionists, long groomed and organized have attacked the Capitol building of the U.S. There are signs, vapors in the air and state legislatures, by States rights, to undo it all, to shake the very roots of an already fragile democracy and lift it out of its shallow planted place. American direction is now controlled by the power greedy and religious fanatics who behave like primitive witchdoctors who blamed women and the undesirables and treat them as chattels. Who are these players and what are the rules of their game? We see them in the world of the Republic of Gilead, but do we see them in the republic of the United States of America? We look at all the reality of the parallels of people and policy as told in the tale, “The Handmaid’s Tale” with Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron in this episode.
ABOUT OUR GUEST Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron is an Associate Professor in Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University, where she researches and teaches; authors scholarly books and articles on subjects related to the discipline; and provides keynote speeches and other presentations at conferences both domestically and internationally. She has taught courses on intersections between the film-media industry, national security, and cultural moments; and, Hollywood, Censorship, and American Culture; and Performance and Theatre in the Americas. She is Co-Chair of the Caucus on Class of the Society for Cinema and Media.
Episode 7 “America Under Seige: White Supremacy”
Guest, Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, Ph.D. Psychologist :: Research Director :: Author
Thursday, March 3, 2022 :: 8pm ET :: LIVE
Dr. Winbush is a research professor and the Director of the Institute for Urban Research. As a scholar and activist, he is known for his systems-thinking approaches to understanding the impact of racism/white supremacy on the global African community. His writings, consultations, and research have been instrumental in understanding developmental stages in Black males, public policy and its connection to compensatory justice, relationships between Black males and females, infusion of African studies into school curricula, and the impact of hip hop culture on the contemporary American landscape. He has served as a faculty member and administrator at a number of universities including Oakwood University, Alabama A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and Fisk University.
Over the last 40 years, Winbush established numerous projects to raise awareness of America’s race relations and their impact upon the lives of Black people. He received grants to further his work from the National Science Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, Job Training Partnership Act of 1982, West African Research Association, Pitney Bowes, Inc., the Ford Motor Company, and the Kellogg Foundation. In 2000, Dr. Winbush helped organize the first international conference of the National Council for Black Studies in Ghana, and in 2002 he aided in establishing the Global Afrikan Congress, the largest pan-African organization in the world. He serves as a consultant to many community, grassroots, and non-governmental organizations in matters of public policy relating to Black boys and men mentoring and educational programs, reparations, and issues race, race relations in policy development.
He is the author of The Warrior Method: A Program for Rearing Healthy Black Boys and “Should America Pay? Slavery and The Raging Debate on Reparations” which provides an overview of the historical and legal basis for reparations. These were published in 2001 and 2003 respectively. He is also the author of “Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations For The Transatlantic Slave Trade” (is considered a “prequel” to “Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations” published in 2009. It provides an overview of how reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as a consistent theme among African people for the past 500 years. His latest book, The Osiris Papers: Reflections on the Life and Writings of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is intended to be the first of many treatises written to examine the life, theories, and contributions of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.
Dr. Winbush is a proud father, grandfather and has served as a mentor to thousands of students across the county.
In this episode, we seek his insight into the impact of white supremacy in the development and engineering of fascism and authoritarianism seeping into American society and eroding an already fragile democracy of targeted populations by this growing ideology.
“American Democracy Under Siege: Women, Sexuality & Assignment”
Guest, Dr. Karma J. Waltonen
Thursday, February 24, 2022
8 pm ET
Dr. Karma J. Waltonen teaches at the University of California, Davis, and Sacramento City College. She is a past President of the Margaret Atwood Society and is the current editor of the Margaret Atwood Studies, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Margaret Atwood Society, the international association of scholars, teachers, and students who share an interest in Atwood’s work. Among her courses is Shakespeare; Writing in the Health Sciences; Writing in International Relations; Writing in Film Studies; Writing in the Fine Arts; Writing in Social Justice; Atwood: Handmaids, Convicts, and Pigoons, Oh My; The Simpsons: Satire and Postmodernism; a fantasy literature course in Oxford.
She received her Ph.D. in Literature at the University of California Davis; and, is her Master’s in Literature and BA (Theatre and English) degree at Florida State University. Dr. Karma (as her students call her) has a wide variety of interests, including authoring two books on The Simpsons, both co-authored with Denise Du Vernay.
She is the author of, Margaret Atwood’s Apocalypses. Cambridge, 2015 and Editor in Chief, (peer-reviewed journals) Margaret Atwood Studies,.
Recently, she has published on time travel in Star Trek and on the ethics of religious cults in Doctor Who and on asexuality in Sherlock, and on postmodernism in The X-Files. She and Melissa Bender (also in the UWP) co-edited a collection on innovative writing assignments, and their textbook on evaluating and ethically using sources is due out in a couple of months. Service to the university includes administering the Upper Division Composition Exam, working extensively with the Campus Book Project, mentoring in the Guardian Scholars Program, and giving special lectures for the STEP program.
She also speaks at various ComicCons and at international conferences. We turn to her in this episode to discuss the elements of fascism and authoritarianism as seen in the lives of the women in the story. Female reassignment, homophobia, class status victimization, sex slavery. But also, the religiosity and hypocrisy around sexuality. She will assist in a more critical analysis of women under fascist policies providing a comparative analysis about female erasure in this looking glass, The Handmaid’s Tale. How does it assist us in understanding the status of women and the potential of evangelic religious ideology as it mounts and integrates politically in the US?
Episode 5 “American Democracy Under Siege: Race and Ethnicity in a Failed State”
Episode 5 “American Democracy Under Siege: Race and Ethnicity in a Failed State”
Guest, Drs. Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Karen A. Ritzenhoff
Thursday, February 10, 2022 :: 8pm ET :: LIVE
Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, is a Professor of Italian and History at New York University She is a historian, educator, commentator, and cultural critic “on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies. Her latest book, “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present” (2020) is highlighted throughout the national discourse on America’s threatened democracy. In her recent book, “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present” Ruth Ben-Ghiat writes, “Any society can be susceptible to strongman figures if it’s the right time.”
Dr. Karen A. Ritzenhoff (Katti) is a full professor in the Department of Communication at Central Connecticut State University where she has been teaching since 1994. She is also affiliated as co-Chair with the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (WGSS), as well as Cinema Studies and the Honors Program. She co-authored, “Afro-Futurism in Black Panther: Gender, Identity and the Re-Making of Blackness” and is a contributor to “The Handmaid’s Tale: Teaching Dystopia, Feminism, and Resistance Across Disciplines and Borders.”
We turn to these experts to offer us cultural, political, and historical perspectives and comparative analysis about race and ethnicity in this looking glass, The Handmaid’s Tale. How does it assist us in understanding US current events? They bring insight into race and ethnicity inside an authoritarian regime.
Episode 4 “American Democracy Under Siege: The March to UN-Personing”
February 3, 2022 :: 8 pm ET :: LIVE
Guest: DR. JAMES C. McINTOSH, MD
Dr. McIntosh is a retired Psychiatrist who spent over 40 years practicing medicine in the five boroughs of New York City, a writer, community activist, educator, public speaker, and talk radio host.
“Un-Personing” – a process of disassembling human rights that encourages people to see themselves as unable to change the oppressive elements that impact their lives. We look to Dr. McIntosh for assistance in analyzing how mental health issues are triggered, created, and most likely un/under address in such our society, creating a perfect storm for a fractured democracy. . We ask to what extent will our tolerance of the problems of a flawed mental health system in an existing compromised democracy lends to the potential of a failed state.
Dr. McIntosh is a retired Psychiatrist who spent over 40 years practicing medicine in the five boroughs of New York City, a writer, community activist, educator, public speaker, and talk radio host. His commitment to community is as strong as his devotion to medicine, which he exudes in his various leadership roles.
For decades James C. McIntosh, M.D. has tended to the mental health and educational needs of the Black community – filling in gaps of the public school system and helping to heal the psychological damage inflicted on people of African descent in America.
We look forward to discussing these questions with him in the context of related contemporary mental health issues that are raised in the dystopian tale, “A Handmaid’s Tale”
“American Democracy Under Siege: Sex, Wombs & God ”
Guest: Frank Schaeffer
January 27, 2022 :: 8 pm ET :: LIVE
Frank Schaeffer, an Artist, Filmmaker & Author, most recently, “Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Frank Schaeffer is an acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books. Most recently, he published Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy (2021), which offers a passionate political, social, and lifestyle ‘blueprint’ for living happier lives and a better future, making changes millions of us know are needed to rebalance our work lives by rediscovering the priority of relationships, connections, community, and love. The son of influential Evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer, architects of the religious right in the 1970s, Frank was expected to follow in his famous family’s footsteps. Instead, he stepped away and has been seeking redemption for his role in helping to build this movement ever since. He has sought to reconcile a troubling past and crisis in faith and has recently published his apology to women as part of his redemptive journey. (https://frankschaeffer.com)
His book “Be Happy” offers to women as an apology for the significant role he played in the anti-abortion, “anti-woman” movement during the last century. In his book, “Letter to Lucy”, poses profound questions about his past and his future. He writes, I ask myself . . . How may I atone for helping to poison America . . . How do I defend my grandchildren against the religious right juggernaut I helped create . . . How do I help save the world? (And what kind of deluded messianic fool am I to believe that this is even possible?)”
We discuss these questions with him in the context of contemporary issues raised in the dystopian tale, “A Handmaid’s Tale”
“American Democracy Under Siege: Cults, Cultures and Religions”
January 20, 2022 ::: 8 pm ET
Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron is an Associate Professor in Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Williams Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Crazy Faith Ministries
Joining us are Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron and Rev. Dr. Susan K. Williams Smith, examining through the lens of the story/film prominent issues of the current toxic political environment in America and the relevance of the images and culture we witness in it.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Williams Smith is an ordained minister, pastor, musician, writer, and activist living in Columbus, OH She is the Founder and Executive Director of Crazy Faith Ministries, a non-traditional church where “church is not a place where you go, it is something you do.” The ministry provides outreach and services for homeless people; services for children of incarcerated parents; voter education and registration, and more.
Williams Smith began her career as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore and has published six books, including Crazy Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, (2009); The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., (2014);
Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, (2019); and With Liberty & Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America, (2020). She has been awarded an Independent Press Award in the category of cultural and social issues.
Among the critical questions we examine with them in this episode are:
? What historical and real-life references are we seeing in scenes depicting those executed on the wall?
? What subliminal messages do viewers receive about the permanence or transience of
religion, the power of extremist ideas on the masses, or the necessity of comporting one’s
? Are we more likely to learn to “go along to get along” or the need to quash cult ideas in their seminal formation, from watching this show?
? Are shows like The Handmaid’s Tale more harmful or helpful to our collective mental
health and capacity to nurture a world where freedom reigns?
? Which characters do Americans most identify with, and what is it that evokes this resonance?
? How is food, clothing, and colors represented in The Handmaid’s Tale, and what does it suggest to us about the culture being created in the world of Gilead?
? How is propaganda used in The Handmaid’s Tale?
? What does the story teach us about how propaganda is taught and our understanding of considering attacks on the role of media, public records, education, and history?
Episode 1 “American Democracy Under Siege: The Color of Autocracy”
January 13, 2022 ::: 8 pm ET
Examining the dystopian story of “The Handmaid’s Tale” through a new set of lenses- the potential of the U.S. of A. as a failed state. Full authoritarianism, religious extremism, and/or other fascist dictatorial strategies.
Dr. David H. Ikard is a professor of African-American and Diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University since 2017. Ikard was previously a professor of English and director of Africana studies at the University of Miami. He taught at Florida State University and at the University of Tennessee. He is an author, political analyst, and fine arts, artist.
Jared Yates Sexton is a political analyst and author whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Politico, Salon, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere. He is the author of The People Are Going To Rise Like The Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage; The Man They Wanted Me To Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making; and American Rule: How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People.
He is the co-host of The Muckrake Podcast and serves as an associate professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University.
If America Fails?
“America’s Fascist Brew; Will America Fail?”
October 14, 2021
America’s Fascist Brew; Will America Fail?” is an introduction to the “If America Fails? The Coming Tyranny” webcast series. It features a two-hour online panel discussion where we will share videos from “The Handmaid’s Tale” Hulu TV series and summarize the first four seasons of the show while exploring key themes. The panel discussion is followed by a one-hour open chat with the audience. This webcast features Dr. Karen A. Ritzenhoff, Professor, Department of Communication, Central Connecticut State University. Dr. Ritzenhoff is a co-editor of “The Handmaid’s Tale: Teaching Dystopia, Feminism, and Resistance Across Disciplines and Borders,” and many other books. “IF AMERICA FAILS?: The Coming Tyranny,” examines a fictional story to explore the real potential of the U.S. as a failed state. A new totalitarian society is created in the dystopian world of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It resonates, frighteningly, with the dramatic efforts happening in the United States today—to suppress voting rights, limit a woman’s right to choose, criminalize free speech, distort education, rewrite history, and other threats taking place in the country now. Our Black voice collaborative considers the themes presented by the universally-focused web series, from a Black perspective—relating them to real-life current events—and warns, the time to fight fascism is NOW!
About If America Fails
An 11-week webcast series that examines “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu series) – the fictional story that explores the real potential of the U.S. as a failed state, through the lens and perspectives of the current American political landscape. Co-hosts Janice Graham and L. Michelle Odom
Examining the story through a new set of the lenses-the potential of the U.S. of A. as a failed state. Full authoritarianism, religious extremism, and/or other fascist dictatorial strategies.
Learn more about our Guest Panelists
Join the LIVE BROADCAST Here Thursdays :: 8 pm ET
Coming UP March 17, 2022
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