Elena Rivera

On Second Thought Producer

Elena Rivera is a producer for "On Second Thought." Before coming to GPB, she worked for KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, as a producer for the weekly community issues show "Intersection." She also anchored the morning newscast and reported on arts and entertainment, education and mental health for the station.

She has won awards from the Missouri Broadcast Association and the Kansas City Press Club for her production and presentation of the morning news, in addition to her arts and entertainment reporting.

She is originally from Rochester, New York, and graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

GPB's series, "Macon Conversations," brings together folks from different backgrounds to have honest conversations about race. Tonja Khabir and Katie Powers were a part of the series. Khabir is the executive director of the Griffith Family Foundation, which provides grants to programs in the Macon community. Powers is the founder of Macon Book 'Em, a nonprofit that provides books to at-risk communities.


On today's show, GPB reporters recapped events from crossover day at the Capitol, "Macon Conversations" addressed issues of identity, and the Dining for Women founder helped preview GPB's International Women's Day Panel.

During crossover day, bills must be clear of one chamber or the other to remain in play for the rest of the legislative session. Both chambers passed a wave of legislation by the deadline, including a "heartbeat" abortion bill. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler and Capitol correspondent for GPB TV's "Lawmakers," Donna Lowry, joined "On Second Thought" to discuss this week in Georgia politics.

AP/File

Note: The audio posted of this interview was edited from an earlier version because our guest did not feel he accurately characterized Ben Sidran’s research on some aspects of early Vaudeville and Minstrel shows.

In the United States, Jewish people were denied access to industries, education, neighborhood spaces and opportunities. The burgeoning popular music field in the late 19th and 20th centuries was an ideal space to find freedom and creative expression for Jewish musicians. Artists such as Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein wove their traditions into music that was more inclusive and indelibly American.

 

 


Women's educational opportunities in the 19th Century were few and far between. Finishing schools focused on women's socialization and skills like art, music and French, rather than a rigorous academic curriculum.

The Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens aimed to change that. It opened in 1859 and taught women finishing school skills alongside math and science classes. The institute cemented Athens as a place for women's education in the South.

 


University Of Georgia

Women's educational opportunities in the 19th Century were few and far between. Finishing schools focused on women's socialization and skills like art, music and French, rather than a rigorous academic curriculum.

 

The Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens aimed to change that. It opened in 1859 and taught women finishing school skills alongside math and science classes. The institute cemented Athens as a place for women's education in the South.

 


Last week, the governing body of the United Methodist Church voted to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.  The “Traditional Plan” won by a narrow margin at the annual meeting of the General Conference.  It defeated the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed local congregations to make their own decisions on LGBT issues.

Dean of the Emory’s Candler School of Theology, Jan Love, was at the conference.  The school is one of thirteen Methodist seminaries in the country. During “On Second Thought,” Dean Love explored the implications of the vote here in Georgia.

 


Provided by author, Samantha Allen

Author and journalist Samantha Allen wanted to go beyond the headlines in her new book, "Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States."

"Often the stories we hear are just, 'Oh, this anti-LGBT law got passed' or 'This anti-LGBT law got stopped,' and we're not really seeing what's happening on the ground," said Allen.

From Provo, Utah, to Atlanta, Georgia, Allen's book explores the reasons why LGBT people stay and work for change in their communities, even when said communities might not openly accept or welcome them. Allen joined "On Second Thought" to discuss what her road trip taught her about the meaning of family and home.


A tornado whipped through Southeast Alabama Sunday evening along the Georgia border, causing injuries and property damage through both states. Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties on Monday due to storm damage. The Lee County sheriff said 23 people have died thus far in the Alabama county where the tornado touched down.

GPB's Grant Blankenship joined "On Second Thought" to discuss his reporting on the storm's impact in Georgia. He said affected areas in Georgia are some of the same ones still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

 


Greg Martin / Greg Martin/Associated Press

A tornado whipped through Southeast Alabama Sunday evening along the Georgia border, causing injuries and property damage through both states. Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties on Monday due to storm damage. The Lee County sheriff said 23 people have died thus far in the Alabama county where the tornado touched down.

GPB's Grant Blankenship joined "On Second Thought" to discuss his reporting on the storm's impact in Georgia. He said affected areas in Georgia are some of the same ones still recovering from Hurricane Michael.


This week in Georgia politics involved the ongoing discussion over House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and calls for his resignation, Gov. Kemp's Medicaid waiver plan and possible state control of Atlanta's airport.

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the Georgia legislature and Crossover Day, the last day bills have to pass out of one chamber or the other in order to be considered during the session.

 


President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen blasted his former employer in front of the house oversight and reform committee this week.

While pundits and social media chew over the content of his testimony -- and how it's affecting the White House -- "On Second Thought" talk about how it looked and what that means with Patti Wood. Based in Atlanta, Wood consults for companies all over the world as a top nonverbal communication and human behavior expert. 


Joy Harden / Therapy for Black Girls

African-Americans are 10 percent more likely to report experiencing serious mental health problems than their white counterparts, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Even when people have the resources to access professional help, they might not find psychologists who look like them or share their experiences.

The podcast, "Therapy for Black Girls," promotes mental and emotional wellness for African-American women. It offers resources on topics like anxiety, body image and perfectionism. Joy Harden, an Atlanta-based psychologist, hosts the podcast. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss her work and the podcast's evolution since 2017.

Hip-hop has evolved from the streets of New York in the '70s to become the most popular music genre today, but it hasn't always been "evolved" in representing women. It's often singled out as being harmful or degrading to women. 

A recent study from Georgia State University looked at political rap music's influence on black feminist attitudes. The results may surprise you.


Southern accents are inexplicably linked to a sense of culture, identity and community. They can also summon stereotypes about intelligence and education, something writer Laura Relyea found when her family moved from Charlotte to Chicago when she was young.

Relyea explored her relationship to her own North Carolina drawl on a recent episode of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast." Her story of losing and finding her way back to her accent resonated with listeners all over Georgia. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how accents form a pillar of Southern identity.

 


Joshua Leonard / Leonard Studios

Around 57 million people in the United States live with a disability, including around 500 thousand children, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. "Team Supreme" is a new superhero team that puts children with disabilities at the forefront, celebrating their strengths.

 

Animator and creator of "Team Supreme," Joshua Leonard, joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the origins of his superhero team and how he hopes kids connect with the characters.

 

alans1948 / Flickr

Southern accents are inexplicably linked to a sense of culture, identity and community. They can also summon stereotypes about intelligence and education, something writer Laura Relyea found when her family moved from Charlotte to Chicago when she was young.

 

Relyea explored her relationship to her own North Carolina drawl on a recent episode of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast." Her story of losing and finding her way back to her accent resonated with listeners all over Georgia. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how accents form a pillar of Southern identity.

 


Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law on the books; however, legislation proposed last week could change that.  Sponsored by State Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Gwinnett Republican, House Bill 426 would introduce enhanced penalties for hate crimes if signed into law. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 27 such crimes were reported in 2017. 

 A similar bill didn’t make it out of committee last year, despite wide support from law enforcement. We spoke with that bill's sponsor, former State Rep. Meagan Hanson, about why that legislation was a priority for her. Rachel Glickhouse, partner manager for ProPublica's Documenting Hate project, also joined the conversation. 


This week in Georgia politics was all about the state's voting system. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) filed a bill that proposed changing the voting machines from touchscreens to a new ballot-marking device. The bill also suggests changes to absentee ballots and voter registration.

GPB's Stephen Fowler stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the voting changes.

 


David Goldman / AP Photo

This week in Georgia politics was all about the state's voting system. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) filed a bill that proposed changing the voting machines from touchscreens to a new ballot-marking device. The bill also suggests changes to absentee ballots and voter registration.

GPB's Stephen Fowler stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the voting changes.

Joel C Ryan/Invision / Associated Press

In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, predictions about who will win are usually running full tilt. This year, the guesses are about the show itself. The Academy that produces the awards has gone back and forth on a host, what categories will be presented during the live broadcast and whether all the best song nominees will perform.

Beth Ward, the TV, film and book editor for ArtsATL, and Kalena Boller, host of the GPB podcast "The Credits," both joined "On Second Thought" to share their predictions on which films will take home a golden statue this weekend. They also shared their ideas on performances they wish had been nominated, like Emily Blunt's role in the horror film, "A Quiet Place."

Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. is the second superintendent from Georgia since 2015 to win the national honor. He spoke with "On Second Thought" about the honor and reflected on how, in a relatively short time, he has rebuilt trust with the community, improved student success and created a positive culture for teachers and staff.

He also shared his priorities for the future of education in Georgia.

 


Photo Pressenia / Associated Press

James Baldwin's tour of the American South in 1957 featured meetings with Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth. It also had a profound effect on Baldwin as a person. Up until that point, he had been living in Paris and had never visited the South. He wrote about the tour for the magazine Partisan Review. Newly uncovered letters to Baldwin's brother and his friend, Mary Painter, revealed the fear and anguish that built over his six weeks in the South.

Author Ed Pavlić wrote a series of essays on Baldwin's tour and the impact of his letters for Brick magazine called "Beyond Simplicity: The Journey Toward James Baldwin's Letter from the Birmingham Motel." Pavlić is an English and African-American studies professor at the University of Georgia. He joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how Baldwin's writings on places like Atlanta and Charlotte help people understand the South of today.

Little Shop of Stories / Facebook

Justin Colussy-Estes is the store manager of Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore in Decatur focusing on literature for children and adults. He stopped by "On Second Thought" to share his choices for our "Southern Reading List." It's our series of authors and readers sharing books that define and reflect the South.

"The funny thing about Southern literature is that nowadays it's gotten so expansive," said Colussy-Estes. "It can mean so many different things that I think there's some really exciting things out there." He chose a range of books by Georgia authors, including picture books and memoirs.


In 1832, playwright and peformer Thomas Dartmouth Rice used theatrical make-up to create a supposedly black character. The character's name was Jim Crow. That name later came to represent a system of extra-judicial terror and racial segregation laws that ended in 1965, but the recent political crisis in Virginia shows dressing up in blackface did not.

A poll published by "The Washington Post" has Virginians split over whether Gov. Ralph Northam should resign after a photo from his 1984 Medical School yearbook surfaced. It shows a character in blackface next to a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. Last week, a Pew Research Center poll found about 34 percent of all Americans say, "Dressing up in blackface is always or sometimes acceptable for a Halloween costume." 

 


Millions of Americans are teetering on the brink of poverty, according to a new report from Prosperity Now that says 40 percent of all U.S. households – and 57 percent of households of color – could be knocked over the edge by one unexpected medical expense, lost paycheck or job loss.

That financial instability is mirrored in housing insecurity, and, while homelessness in Atlanta is on the decline, Fulton County remains by far the highest among the national benchmark counties, according to the Department for Housing and Urban Development. 

 


Courtesy of Emiko Soltis/Freedom Univ.

The federal government remains open.  President Trump has declared a state of emergency to build a border wall, and the structure's future is now up to the courts.  The president had been using the potential extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to try to sway Democrats toward his fiscal plan.  Now, the future of that program is unclear.

That political uncertainty permeates life at Atlanta's Freedom University. It provides college prep and leadership development classes for undocumented students in Georgia. "On Second Thought" invited Freedom University executive director Emiko Soltis to speak about the university and its mission. DACA recipients Arizbeth Sanchez and Raymond Partolan also joined the conversation.


Tena Clark
Tena Clark / Tena Clark Website

Tena Clark, the Grammy-winning music producer and songwriter, is at the Savannah Book Festival with her new memoir "Southern Discomfort." In it, she chronicles her childhood in rural Mississippi in the new book, "Southern Discomfort."  Clark spoke with "On Second Thought" in October about her new memoir, her mother's musical legacy and meeting Stevie Wonder for the first time.


"On Second Thought" is on the road this weekend for the Savannah Book Festival.

Host Virginia Prescott will introduce keynote speaker Chris Stirewalt, Fox News channel’s politics editor, at the festival's opening Friday evening.

Ahead of the festival, "On Second Thought" sat down with "Friday Black" author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and "Birth of Loud" author Ian Port at the GPB Savannah studios. 


Courtesy Jonathan Blanc

Whether celebrated joyfully or begrudgingly, Valentine's Day is the holiday when the varieties of love – or the absence of love – come sharply into focus.

"On Second Thought" marks the day with "An American Marriage" author and Atlanta native Tayari Jones. The story of an Atlanta couple bound together – and torn apart – by a skewed criminal justice system, "An American Marriage" reminds us that no love exists in a vacuum.


Auto company General Motors recently announced it is shutting down production at five plants across North America, leaving thousands of workers without jobs. These real-world events are mirrored in the Atlanta production of "Skeleton Crew." The play follows a tight-knit group of workers at the only auto stamping plant left in Detroit at the height of the Great Recession.

Director of "Skeleton Crew" Jamil Jude visited "On Second Thought" to discuss the play. He's also the new artistic director for Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Jude shared how the play's themes around unionizing, sacrifice and job insecurity resonate with audiences today.

 


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