Campaigning With Walker, Gun Culture, Living Wage Lawsuit, Haitian Vodou

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A gun enthusiast who believes that Wisconsin played a key historical role in the development of American gun culture shares what made guns so alluring for him. But he also learned first-hand their capacity to bring devastation, especially among youth. Plus, we get a taste of what it’s like to be on the campaign trail with Governor Scott Walker. Then, we check in on a new lawsuit adding to the debate over the state’s minimum wage and discover what sets the Haitian religion vodou apart from Hollywood “voodoo.”

Featured in this Show

  • Chicago Museum Exhibit Busts Myths Surrounding Vodou Traditions

    Hollywood’s depictions of “voodoo” conjures up images that fit right in with the Halloween season: black magic, push-pin dolls, ancient spells, sour-smelling elixirs and even cannibalism.

    That imagery, however, doesn’t give an accurate representation of the religion called vodou.

    “Hollywood has been riffing misconceptions of voodoo since the Silent Era,” said Janet Hong, the project manager for exhibitions at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.

    While the silver screen continues to perpetuate stereotypes, the real-life version of the Haitian religion is on full display at the museum’s new exhibit, “Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti.”

    “Vodou in Haiti is a complete religion. It’s got its own theology and clergy and holidays and pilgrimages,” said Hong.

    One of the first lessons the exhibit has to offer is a correction of spelling and pronunciation: Haitians call it Vodou, pronounced “vo-DOO.”

    But more broadly, the exhibit also explores the history and culture of vodou. The religion — which centers on prayer to multiple gods and spirits, with ancestral spirits given especially high importance — grew out of a creative amalgamation of traditions of West African and natives of the Caribbean. It also contains elements of Roman Catholicism.

    Vodou came to bear much cultural power among slaves in Haiti, and helped inspire a revolt against French colonists in 1791.

    “Vodou was something that enabled a slave revolution in Haiti,” said Hong. “That’s why Haiti became the first country in the Western hemisphere to abolish slavery. That was in 1804, many decades before that happened in our country.”

    After the revolution, vodou became considered dangerous and its practice slid underground. However, it remained an important element of life for many Haitians. That’s something that still holds true today: While most people in Haiti say they’re Christian, Hong said virtually all Haitians claim to be Vodou because it’s so integrated into everyday life, whether that be through ritual drumming or honoring ancestors and spirits.

    The museum exhibit itself consists of more than 300 items, including figurines, flags, urns, altar jars and dolls. Many of the pieces are bursting with color and sequins.

    The donors of the artifacts ceremonously laid to rest the spirtuality of the objects before handing them over, but they warned curators of residual spirits and insisted that none of the items stay trapped beneath display glass — the spirits, they warned, would shatter the cases. The open-air display helps bring a visceral connection to the objects, said Hong.

    Many of the ritual objects are paired with videos from Haitian Vodou practitioners explaining the cultural significance of the items and how they’re used, providing viewers a firsthand account of the religion.

  • Midwest Gun Culture And Its Effects On Youth

    A gun enthusiast who believes that Wisconsin played a key historical role in the development of American gun culture shares what made guns so alluring for him. He also tells us how gun culture became a way of life for him, and how he learned first-hand their capacity to wreak devastation, especially among youth.

  • Labor Groups Sues Walker Administration Over Minimum Wage Study

    Labor group Wisconsin Jobs Now is set to file a lawsuit Monday against the Walker administration, challenging its study that showed the state’s minimum wage to be a living wage. The group previously used Wisconsin’s “living wage law” to challenge the state’s minimum wage. The administration concluded that the state’s current minimum wage is a living wage.

  • Hollywood Voodoo Is Much Different Than The Haitian Religion Of Vodou

    The Hollywood version of voodoo is actually very far from the Haitian religion of vodou. An expert from the Field Museum in Chicago explains the differences, laid out in a new exhibit at the museum called “Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti.”

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Guest
  • Veronica Rueckert Guest
  • Craig K. Collins Guest
  • Gilman Halsted Guest
  • Janet Hong Guest

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