© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ronnie Pepper Wants You To Eat Your Broccoli And Confront Ingrained Racism

Ronnie Pepper with his wife of 41 years, Roxanna.
Ronnie Pepper with his wife of 41 years, Roxanna.
Ronnie Pepper with his wife of 41 years, Roxanna.
Credit Courtesy of Ronnie Pepper
Ronnie Pepper with his wife of 41 years, Roxanna.

When Ronnie Pepper was a kid, his mother told him he could not be the president or an astronaut. Though she did not say it aloud, Pepper understood that it was because of the color of his skin. Patterns of internalized oppression and ingrained racism are some of the targets of recent protests and calls for social change across the country. 

Host Frank Stasio speaks with professional storyteller Ronnie Pepper about recent police brutality protests and his tactics for starting conversations about racism during this time.

Pepper sees the moment as ripe to start conversations closer to home with family and friends who may say or do things that harm Black communities. The process may be like getting a kid to eat their broccoli, Pepper says. People may not want to hear criticism or new ideas right away, but if you get them to try just a little bit, they’ll be more open to trying it again later.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Pepper, a professional storyteller and librarian at the Henderson County Public Library, about starting these difficult conversations and his tactics for talking about race.

Copyright 2020 North Carolina Public Radio

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Kaia Findlay is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show. Kaia grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a household filled with teachers and storytellers. In elementary school, she usually fell asleep listening to recordings of 1950s radio comedy programs. After a semester of writing for her high school newspaper, she decided she hated journalism. While pursuing her bachelor’s in environmental studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, she got talked back into it. Kaia received a master’s degree from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism, where she focused on reporting and science communication. She has published stories with Our State Magazine, Indy Week, and HuffPost. She most recently worked as the manager for a podcast on environmental sustainability and higher education. Her reporting passions include climate and the environment, health and science, food and women’s issues. When not working at WUNC, Kaia goes pebble-wrestling, takes long bike rides, and reads while hammocking.