Tuition isn’t free, and neither is emotional labor — A conversation with Pitt’s departing Black Action Society president.

Meet Morgan Ottley as she unpacks the lessons and challenges of remotely completing her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh following 2020’s summer of racial reckoning and protests. Morgan discusses the emotional, often invisible labor left to students when universities fall short of solidarity and the future of racial justice and accountability on college campuses. For more insights on the effects of the racial justice movement on higher ed from students, faculty, staff and administrations of Pittsburgh-area universities, check out the accompanying stories to this podcast by PublicSource higher education reporter Naomi Harris. What difference has a year made? Explore the project about calls for racial justice on campuses.

Pittsburgh’s Black Muslim history uncovered.

Meet Ali R. Abdullah as he explains the significance of being an African-American Muslim in the Pittsburgh region and what you should know about Pittsburgh’s role in Islamic history in the United States. For a deeper look into what Ali uncovered about his own family’s connection to religious history in the area, check out the story by PublicSource faith and religion reporter Chris Hedlin: “Pittsburgh was once a Black Muslim refuge.”

TRANSCRIPT
Jourdan: Hello, everyone, welcome back. It's me, your host, Jourdan Hicks, community correspondent for PublicSource. Welcome back to another episode of From the Source. Now, this week, we have yet another interesting Pittsburgher who you should meet and someone who you could learn a little something from to expand your worldview of our area and the people who bring our region to life.

Episode 8, Season 2: Sweat equity — A conversation with Pittsburgh activist Dena Stanley

In this episode, you’ll hear Dena Stanley, activist and executive director of TransYOUniting PGH, on the emotional and mental labor it takes to defend equity and the protection of human rights for the Black and trans community. We discuss how protests inform community organizing, how she feels about her “radical” reputation and the vulnerabilities of being a visible public defender of human rights in Allegheny County. TRANSCRIPT
 

Jourdan: Representative John Lewis' philosophy on activism with simple. If you see something that's not fair, that ain't right, say something, do something, get in some trouble over it, get in good trouble over it in Allegheny County. Dena Stanley is doing all three of those things and more in defense of your human rights. 

Dena:  I just go, I was I was put here for a reason.

Urban Ecologist and Professor, Dr. Marijke Hecht shares how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in cities across the country and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Courtesy photo)

Better nature, better relationship, better planet — A conversation with a Pittsburgh urban ecologist

Are discussions about the non-human natural world relevant to folks outside of climate change and environmentalist circles? After listening to Pittsburgh urban ecologist Marijke Hecht, you’ll understand how everyone plays a role in creating the environment. For episode 6, we’re reviewing a Science Magazine article on how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in your neighborhood. Do you see more weeds or butterflies where you live? Hecht discusses her work as an urban ecologist and how community design, race and mental health are all related in Pittsburgh’s environmental ecosystem.

Etta Cetera (left) and Avis Lee (right) at SCI Cambridge Springs Prison in Crawford County, PA. Etta and Avis co-founded Let's Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee in 2013, to end death by incarceration and to challenge the "outdated and dysfunctional" commutation process in Pennsylvania. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Episode 5, Season 2: Let’s get free — A Pittsburgh-based prison abolitionist’s point of view

It’s not every day you meet someone who can say they’ve helped someone get their freedom back. I mean, not anytime after the 1860s, and not from someone who isn’t a lawyer or police officer. And not in 2021, because who still needs to be given their Constitutionally recognized freedom these days? For this episode, you’ll meet Etta Cetera, a colorful Pittsburgh artist, community organizer and prison abolitionist envisioning a world where punishment for violence and crime doesn’t involve prisons. We discuss what she sees as the day-to-day injustices that come with imprisonment and how she went from virtually having no political consciousness to adopting the mission of a prison abolitionist.

(Photo via iStock)

Episode 3, Season 2: How Pittsburgh shapes and cages the experience of Black women. For real. (Part 2)

Black women are not a monolith. So, building on the first part of the episode about Black women in Pittsburgh, I spoke with Jahqwhan “Jah” Watson. A native Ohioan by way of Cleveland — who came to Pittsburgh as a Pulse social service fellow last summer —Jah picks up where Naomi Ritter and Janel Young left off. We explore more of what gets left out of the conversation when discussing Black women in Pittsburgh and the unique experiences that shapes and cages their identities. 

Jah’s reflections are important because they’ve had a life not shaped by what we're used to as long-time residents of Pittsburgh.  Their reflections come from trying to acclimate into a city with its own set of systems, rules for socialization and history. Jah’s reflections are intimate, authentic and a fresh take on how we talk about Pittsburgh nurturing and shaping Black women. 

“Whatever my experience in Pittsburgh is has really sort of like beat me out of myself, and I'm really having to beat back.